I believe my parents moved from Christine to Waco almost immediately after their marriage.  I’ll never know how my Daddy happened to get a job there as a streetcar conductor.  Waco is over 230 miles north and east of Christine.  These pictures of my Mother and Daddy were probably made to send back home to their parents and other relatives.

Daddy in his "Conductor" Uniform
My Parents, Sam and Luetta
My Mother

My Daddy once mentioned something about my Mother having a miscarrige or maybe two before I was born.  I can imagine how happy they must have been after being married five years finally to have a healthy baby.  I was born at 2:45pm, December 15, 1920.  I weighed seven pounds and was twenty-one inches long.  I was born at home with the help of Dr. McCormick and Nurse Mrs. Cavener.

My Birth Announcement

Baby Darlene
Mother and Me

Mother once told me that she heard the name Darlene, but didn’t know anyone by the name.   She liked it but couldn’t think of a middle name that sounded good with it.  Therefore, I always put “nmi” for “no middle initial” on official papers.  Otherwise, someone invariably will question why I didn’t fill in my complete name.  Not until I was in the eighth grade did I ever hear or read of another girl with my name. Today I have a friend a few years younger than I am named Darlene.  It’s still not a very popular name, but I have always liked it OK.  Glenn and I liked it well enough to name our first-born Glenda Darlene.  Of course, in grade school the boys would tease me and call me “darling”.  I would always act insulted, but I suppose, deep down, I really liked it.  Ha!  However, I can never understand why it gets spelled so many ways, such as Darleen, Darline or Darlean.

Mother noted in one baby book, “I entered my baby in the Better Baby Conference at the Cotton Palace in Nov. 1921.  She was 10 months old and was judged a perfect baby.  This was a happy day for mother.”

Mother must have read to me from my baby book because I have early pleasant memories of this verse, and I think I knew it by memory as a child:

Where did you come from, Baby dear?
Out of the everywhere into here.
Where did you get those eyes so blue?
Out of the sky as I came through.
What makes the light in them sparkle and spin?
Some of the starry spikes left in.
Where did you get that little tear?
I found it waiting when I got here.
What makes your forehead so smooth and high?
A soft hand stroked it as I went by.
What makes your cheek like a warm white rose?
I saw something better than anyone knows.
Whence that three-cornered smile of bliss?
Three angels gave me at once a kiss.
Where did you get this pearly ear?
God spoke, and it came out to hear.
Where did you get those arms and hands?
Love made itself into bonds and bands.
Feet, whence did you come, you darling things?
From the same box as the cherub’s wings.
How did they all just come to be you?
God thought about me, and so I grew.
But how did you come to us, you dear?
God thought about you, and so I am here.
by Geo. Macdonald

One could say that was my first lesson in religion and my first introduction to God.

According to my baby book, my Mother made my first short dress when I was six months old. It was made of white nansook with pink embroidery and tatting trimming.  I also got my first pair of shoes.  They were white pumps.My baby book also says I wore them on my first train ride which was to Austin to see Grandpa and Grandma Williams.

These pictures must have been taken on another trip, as I seem to be wearing black shoes.  Nevertheless, they are of my parents and my Williams grandparents.

My Grandfather and Me
Williams Grandparents
My Parents and Me

On my second Christmas I was only a few days over one year, of course.  This rocking horse was one of my presents.

Me on my "Rocking Horse"

Evidently these photos were taken at the photographer’s shop. I still have the locket my Mother is wearing in the first picture.  I’m 2 ½ years old in the second.

          Family Picture                 "Cute Kid"?

I don’t know when or why my parents moved back to Christine.  I know I was there when I started to school and that would have been September, 1925.  Maybe Daddy lost his job on the streetcar, maybe Grandpa wanted him to help on the farm or maybe Grandma wanted her daughter at home to help her.  Whatever the reason, we left Waco and moved in with grandma and grandpa in Christine.

Although I have only faint memories of the inside of the house, I remember the outside and the yards better.  The house had a porch going around it on at least three sides, maybe on all four.  I’m not certain.  I remember how scared I was one day when a snake appeared on the back porch. The back porch was also the place where grandma did her butter churning.  She had a tall wooden churn and I often watched the whole process through forming the butter into the pound molds.

In the back yard was a well and we got our water by pulling it from the well with a bucket on a rope pulley.  Grandpa always had a cup made from a gourd hanging near so we could dip it into the bucket for a drink.  He also had beehives in that part of the yard and I was stung more than once.

Cotton was the main farm crop, I believe.  At least I have memories of going into the cotton field with a little sack on my shoulder to help pick cotton.  The whole family, except maybe Grandma, helped. The fields were east of the house.  There was also a barn, horses to pull the farm implements, and at least one cow.  I remember going with Daddy and/or grandpa to milk the cow.  They would give me some of the warm milk to drink and I thought it was good.  Grandpa also raised chickens.

My Grandpa Headings -- A Good Farmer

There was quite a large yard on the west of the house and grandpa always had a big garden. We had plenty vegetables year round as grandma and Mother did lots of canning. Grandpa raised many different kinds of vegetables.  One crop I remember especially was his beans. After they were dry and had been crushed to break open the shells, he would wait for a time when there was a breeze.  Then he would pour them from one pan held high in the air to another on the ground and the wind would blow the shells away.  I always thought it was fun to help with that job.  Of course, my definition of helping was probably different from my grandpa’s.

There were mulberry trees on the north.  When the berries were ripe, big sheets were put under the trees and the trees were shaken so the berries would fall.

My grandpa knew how to provide for his family.  He was a hard worker.  There was always plenty food and enough cash from some crops to provide for other needs.  The more I recall about Grandpa Headings, the more I realize what a remarkable man he was.  I don’t know anything about his education.  Being raised in an Amish community, he would not have gone past eighth grade.  I have an “Award of Merit” given to him by his teacher in 1864 when he was twelve years old.  He must have been a good student.  He was the kind of person who was always interested in new things.  He used catalogs to order such things as a big family Bible, a stereoscope, and an Edison phonograph that plays cylinder records.

I well remember sitting on the floor and looking at the big colored pictures in the family Bible.  It has lots of sections and each is numbered separately.  For some reason I wanted to know how many pages all together so one day I counted them. The number I got, 1,883, is still where I scribbled it on the front page.  I still have that Bible, but the big thick cover is in much disrepair.  It is from the pages in the middle, where one could keep family records, that I have gotten birth, death and wedding dates of my relatives.

I have also spent many, many hours looking at the stereoscope pictures.  I still have the instrument and many of the original pictures.  The images are truly 3-D.  Grandpa kept ordering new sets of pictures and I well remember the excitement when they came in the mail.  That phonograph with the cylinder records also entertained me for hours and hours. The phonograph still works when it is wound, but the stop mechanism is broken. That means that the cylinder that holds the records keeps going around until the spring winds down. Among the records are quite a few marches and as a small child I would march around the room in time to the music.

In the front of grandpa’s house he planted a palm tree on each side of the sidewalk.  Around each tree he made a five-point cement star.  It seems that in front of one of those trees was a favorite place to take pictures. Here are four taken at different times through the years.  Each year there was a children’s costume parade in Christine. The first two pictures are of me in crepe paper costumes my Mother made for the parade. The third was taken in 1940 when Aunt Rose and Aunt Phoebe took me with them on a trip to Texas. The last one was taken in 1950 when we were on our way to California. Jean is two and Glenda four years old. It seems someone moved the tree or planted another outside the star, but the star is still visible in the grass. The house is gone. I was told it had burned.

Here I am!  Ready for the BIG yearly parades.

Here I am in 1940
Here I am in 1950 with my girls, Jean and Glenda


After some time, we moved into this house one block north of my Grandparents. I believe Grandpa gave the house to my Parents for some anniversary, maybe their tenth in 1925. I know we moved in before I started to school. All my memories of walking to school were of leaving this house.  This picture was made years after we moved from Christine. The addition on the west was added after we left. Our house was very simple—just a square house with a small back porch.  It was divided into three rooms.  There was a small kitchen across the north side. The rest of the house was split into a front or living/dining room and a bedroom.  This picture shows the front door on the south side. When we lived there, we had honeysuckle vines in the front and also some flowers in the yard, probably petunias. Our toilet and a chicken house were in the back yard. Mother would sometime take eggs to the store to get money to buy something she needed or maybe some crayons or notebook paper for me.  She and Daddy also had a small garden.

My home in Christine, Texas

One time a bull got loose from a herd that was going down the road. I was really scared he would get into the house. We shut all the windows and doors and I remember going from one window to another to see where he was. Of course, the cowboys soon rounded him up, but it wasn’t soon enough for me.  I felt we were in dire danger!

There were times when my Daddy worked away from home and would be gone a few days at a time. I think he worked either on the railroad or on the county roads. I remember his taking cans of pork and beans with him when he left. There were very few job opportunities in Christine for those who didn’t own land and cattle.

The one industry in Christine was the cotton gin north of town. About a mile west of our house was the main part of town.  It had a depot with a few hotel rooms, a gas station, a feed and hardware store and just a few other shops. As cars were scarce, I don’t know how the gas station owner made a living. Of course, he also sold kerosene, which was used in cook stoves. There was no house-to-house mail delivery. We all went to the post office to get our mail.  Each family had a little square-shaped post office box in the wall that was between the lobby and the postman’s workroom.  Each box had a glass in the door.  I well remember waiting and watching while the postman put mail in the boxes, and fervently hoping he would drop something in ours.  I’m sure the train came only once a day. Christine was at the end of its line at the time. Not long after we moved to Kansas, the train stopped coming at all and the last I knew they were getting their mail by bus.

Christmas and my birthday were the only times I expected to get presents. On my 7th birthday Mother gave me a big party.  Since I still have my present from Mrs. Tidd, a small three by four inch size homemade booklet with “Birthday Memorials” written on the front, I know who was there and the presents I got.  In the front of the booklet, she wrote the following poem:

To every youth there openeth
A highway and a low
And every youth decideth
Which way his soul shall go;
For the high soul takes the highway,
And the low soul takes the low,
And in between on the misty flats
The rest drift to and fro.
And every youth decideth
Which way his soul shall go.

That poem has always been an inspiration to me and I’ve heard slightly different versions of it from time to time, but don’t know the author.

Mother listed all those at the party in the back of the little booklet. There were 35 names. Our little house must have been very crowded. Actually, I seem to have a faint memory of everyone being in the front yard. In Christine in December, one could easily have an outdoor party most days. Before we moved to Kansas, I had seen snow only once.  There wasn’t much that time, but all the neighbors working together were able to make one big snowball down the middle of the road.

In the little memory book, Mother also listed my presents as follows: 2 dresses, 11 handkerchiefs, 6 dolls, pencil box, plate, 2 horns, 2 books, basket, 3 purses, beads and bracelet, shoe and stocking holder, Christmas tree ornament, and powder puff. I still have one of the little purses. As I look at the little booklet today, I’m puzzled. There are little greetings from my Aunts Carrie, Rose and Phoebe.  For awhile I was puzzled when they wrote in the book as they were not at the party. During the course of writing this story I realized that it was the Christmas ten days after my birthday party that my aunts came from Oklahoma and Kansas to celebrate my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary.  I’m sure my Mother gave the booklet to them so they could write in it while they were there. There is also a page written by my Mother and one by my Grandmother Headings.  Grandmother’s spelling and penmanship show proof that her first language was Dutch or Low German, the dialect spoken by the Amish community.

Christmases are the times I most remember. The whole city had a party at the school auditorium. There was a program and a present for each child. One year I sang “Upon the Housetop” in the program.  Santa Claus would always come to our house while we were at the program. There would be some things from Santa Claus, but lots of my presents came from my Aunt Phoebe and Aunt Rose. They knew that we had little money and they were generous to me.  My Aunt Phoebe, who had only one child, a boy, often sent me new dresses. At Easter she would be sure I had a new dress.

In those years it was the custom to have fireworks at Christmas in our community.  I was scared of most kinds of fireworks, and would handle only the sparklers. I wonder if they are still used in Texas at Christmas.

Throughout all my years of schooling my goal was to make near perfect grades and have perfect attendance. Getting to school each day and on time was very important to me. I would even have bad dreams about being a block or so away from school when the bell would ring and I knew I was late. I always walked to school. It must have been a little over a mile.  We never had very cold weather in Christine, but we did have rain and I came home with muddy shoes more than once.  My first three years I had perfect attendance. We moved to Kansas when I was in fourth grade and that year I had the mumps.  I remember crying when Mother said that I couldn’t go to school. That hurt me more than the pain from the mumps. In the fifth grade I had my perfect record again, but in the sixth I had a very bad cold and missed two days. I missed a couple days each of the next two years because of my Grandparents’ deaths.  I don’t really know too much about my attendance in Junior and Senior High School. I’m sure if and when I missed, something very drastic kept me away.

Not only did I love going to regular school, I also loved going to Sunday School.  Our church was somewhat less than a mile down the road toward town. It was a Baptist Church.  There was a Methodist Church in town, but since it was farther away, Mother went to the Baptist.  My Daddy never went until later in life. However, he would help with ice cream suppers and other chores around the church.  My Grandparents were Amish back in Kansas.  Of course, there were no Amish people around Christine, and they never attended church anytime after leaving the Darlow Amish community. Yet my Mother and her two sisters were always faithful church members.

The church had a piano and how I longed to be able to play it. It has always been a mystery to me how my Mother learned to play.  I just know that she played hymns at church. When we got a chance to go to the church during the week, she would practice and show me a little about reading the music. After we moved to South Hutchinson, Kansas, we would also play the church piano there every chance we had. For a period of time, my Mother cleaned the church every Saturday. Of course, I went along to help. I believe she was paid $5 a month. The part I liked best was a chance to play the piano.  First, she taught me a couple hymns in the key of C, and gradually, I would try some with one sharp or flat.  “Bringing in the Sheaves” and “Work for the Night is Coming” were two I first learned.

I just as well finish my piano story here. When I was in Junior High, a family friend offered to sell us a piano for $100.  They said we could pay for it just whenever we had the money. Mother would make $5 payments when she could. Believe me, it took a long time to get that debt paid. I finally was able to take lessons and how I loved to practice.  In my senior year, my teacher decided I should take some of her first year pupils. She gave me some lessons in teaching beginners.  I had six or seven pupils who lived on farms north of Hutchinson. Every Saturday I would make the rounds. I probably got 50 cents for each lesson. Of course, I’m getting far ahead of my story.

When I got home from Sunday School or regular school, I would line up all my dolls on the window ledge and play school with them. It seemed my destiny to become a teacher. I also taught them to sing the little songs that my Mother taught me or I learned at school or Sunday School. Having no brothers and sisters, my time was spent playing such things as school, house, and doctor or nurse with my dolls. In this picture of me with all my toys, notice that dolls are plentiful. The little cradle is the one my Uncle John made. After repainting it and making new bedding for it, I gave it to our first grandchild, Debra Noel Calhoun.  (As I’m writing this, she is now Mrs. Steven Brau and about to became a mother herself.)

Me with my "favorite" toys
(I think that's my Grandma Headings standing on the porch)

It was my first and second grade teacher, Mrs. McDonald, who planted in me the desire to be a teacher. Her classroom was a place where one not only learned his ABC’s, but also learned good health habits and right from wrong. She also instilled a love for poetry. In the second grade we learned the poems of Robert Lewis Stevenson and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and they still stick with me today. She taught us a big word that has had a great influence on my life.  That word was “responsibility.”  It was our responsibility to do our best at every task, to always do what we promised someone we would do, and to always tell the truth so we didn’t have to make up more lies to cover one we had just told. To a little girl, that was a very BIG word and I felt proud that I could write it and knew what it meant.  I still have some of my school papers and just realized when I was looking at them that we learned to do cursive writing at least by second grade. The writing isn’t extra neat, but still it’s very readable.  All through my school years, along with all my “A” grades in nearly every subject, my art and writing grades would be “A-” even “B+”.

Here are a couple tidbits from my little second grade “Composition Book” that prove my teacher’s attention to morals and good health habits.

Tom, Tom, the piper’s son
Just hated baths and away he’d run
Until Mother Goose with great good will
Said, “A dirty body will make you ill.”
“This dirt so full of germs,” said she,
“Must be washed off so carefully.”
So Tom took heed and very meek
He now takes three full baths a week!

Kind hearts are the garden,
Kind thoughts are the roots,
Kind words are the blossoms,
Kind deeds are the fruits.
Oh, care for the gardens
Guard them from weeds
Fill them with blossoms
Kind words and good deeds.

As I said above, I played house, that is, I was a mother to my dolls, and sometimes I was a nurse or doctor to them. When I was a little older I began to be fascinated with the things that went on in business offices. Then I got the idea that running a store would be fun. I believe that seeing the clerks collect money and make change gave me that idea.  So you see I wanted to get married and have a family, I wanted to teach school, I wanted to be a nurse and I wanted to have something to do with offices or stores. Little did I suspect that I would be able to do all those things in my lifetime.

My Mother spent lots of time reading to me and playing games with me, such as dominoes or card games.  At an early age I learned to play the original domino game where one makes points by having the dots on the end dominoes add to a multiple of five. I have always thought that was one reason why arithmetic was such an easy subject for me. When the board game called Uncle Wiggly became the rage, I begged and begged for one.  However, Mother explained that we had no money to buy it. Instead she borrowed one from our neighbors and spent hours copying the pattern on the board and making all the little cards that had the instructions for the moves to be made around the path on it.

Mother borrowed that Uncle Wiggly game from the Sturges family who lived in a big house diagonally across the street from us. They had lots of cattle and always seemed to have more money than most of the families around. One of the girls, who was several years older than I, played dolls with me occasionally.  Most of time she spent making clothes for my dolls. There were two boys, one my age and one a few years older. We would play in their front yard, which had a few shrubs, but mostly bare dirt. We would use small bottles for cars and make quite a network of roads for them in the dirt.

The Struges family had two things that fascinated me—a bathtub and a phonograph.  One time they let me take a bath in the tub.  They didn’t have running water, but just heated it and poured it in. Still it was a treat. My bathtub was a simple round washtub. Their phonograph was the next Edison edition—the tall cabinet and thick flat discs played with a needle.  It was still hand-wound, of course.  One disadvantage was having to change the needle often as it would soon make scratchy sounds on the records.  In contrast, the needle on Grandpa’s old Edison was never changed. The sound on the newer player was indeed much better when a new needle was used.  Also the flat records play longer than the cylinders.

My cousins in Uncle Calvin’s family lived in Christine part of the time while we were there.  I would sometime get to play with them.  Doris was my age and Ila Mae was a couple years older. When I went to play I was always given a time to come home. One time I forgot to watch the clock. My Daddy came after me and gave me the only whipping I ever remember getting.  He had a hairbrush and gave me swats on my behind as he walked me home. That was another lesson in punctuality and responsibility that stuck with me a long time, maybe to this day!

Ila Mae and Doris’s cousins on their mother’s side lived out a little way from town.  Sometime I would go with them to visit the Barker family.  They had two boys about our age.  Their house had a rather large attic.  In it was a trunk filled with old clothes with which we were allowed to play dress-up. Playing “wedding” was our favorite. I can remember the time I was the bride.  How exciting!

One block east of us was a large house where my parent’s friends lived. Mother and Daddy would play pitch or the domino game “Forty-two” with them. As they had no children, I would sit on the floor and entertain myself with a deck of cards or a set of dominoes. When we moved to Kansas, my Parents were never able to find anyone who knew how to play “Forty-two”.  Pitch was the popular game there.  In the new set of dominoes we bought a few years ago was a leaflet describing various games.  One game was called “Four-hand Texas”.  When I read the instructions, I could tell it was the same as “Forty-Two.” So it’s origin is in Texas. No wonder our Kansas friends didn’t know how to play it!

I am guessing that this picture of all my Mother’s relatives was taken on my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary. There had to be a good reason for the relatives to come from Kansas and Oklahoma at the same time to visit us in Christine. In fact, any visits were few and far between. The wedding anniversary would have been in 1927 and I would have been seven years old.

Back row: Aunt Rose’s son Arthur, Uncle John, Grandpa, my Daddy in the shadows, and Uncle Will. Next row: Aunt Rose, Aunt Carrie, Grandma (she always wore her little “Amish” cap), my Mother, Aunt Phoebe. I guess one could say I’m in the front row as I’m in front of my Grandma and Mother.  Note that my eyes are closed.  For years afterward, I was continually warned not to close my eyes when having my picture taken.

For some reason, my grandparents sold their farm and moved back to Kansas.  It could be that the work was getting to be too much for my grandpa. I was probably in the second grade at that time, and my grandpa would have been 77 years old. . I know that not too long afterward my parents also sold our home and moved to Kansas. That was in 1929 at the end of my third grade.

I'm sure moving to Kansas wasn't my Daddy's idea, but he would do whatever pleased my Mother.  They say "Once a Texan, always a Texan" and that was true for my Daddy for many years.  When we first moved, he would remark that the people in Hutchinson weren't very friendly. He thought one should greet everyone he met on the street. He liked everyone. I remember one time making some unkind remark about someone I saw on the street and I got quite a lecture about that. I've never forgotten that lesson in tolerance. I suppose, after my Mother's death only eight years after we moved to Kansas, if I hadn't been in the picture, Daddy might have moved back to Texas where most of his brothers and sisters lived. He said once that if we hadn't moved to Kansas with its cold winter weather, my Mother would still be alive. Regardless of his feelings, he would never have taken me away from my school, my friends and especially my Aunt Rose, who became my second mother.

Before we left Christine, Mother’s friends had a going-away shower for her at the Sturges home. Everyone brought a nice handkerchief and they were all tucked inside a closed umbrella. During the party, they had my Mother open the umbrella and all the handkerchiefs fell in a “shower” onto her lap. I still have some of those handkerchiefs. Those were the days before Kleenex and one always carried a handkerchief. Of course, some of the prettiest ones were more for show than for “blow”.

The parents of one of my school friends owned a large ranch and were considered the “rich” people in the area. Her grandmother lived in the next house north of us and she often came there to play. I was always fascinated with some of the things in her house. Somehow they had a different look from the plain furnishings in most of the Christine homes. Maybe the family went to San Antonio shopping or maybe they used the mails. Anyway, when we moved she gave Mother and me two cup-and-saucer sets from Japan. How thrilling to have something from so far away! I have kept them all these years Can you imagine in today’s world getting excited about something that came from as far away as Japan?

We traveled by train to Kansas. I do remember that Mother had canaries and we took them in their cage on the train with us.  Otherwise, there’s not too much in my memory bank about that train ride. On our way we stopped at Hillsdale, Oklahoma, to visit my Aunt Phoebe and Uncle Will on their farm. Uncle Will was one of those progressive farmers who had a Delco system to make electricity.  It was in their home that I had my first exciting experience of pushing a button and having a light come on.  Their cream separator was also fascinating to me. This visit was one of many I would make throughout the years to see my Aunt Phoebe and Uncle Will.