Remembering My Life
by Lyndel Nola Harwell Hamilton Stephens
born April 13, 1907 Gorman, Eastland County, Texas
July 2, 1996
    I'm taking my (pencil) in hand and write a little about my life. I figured I better use a pencil for I'll probably have to erace some along the way. I'm no story teller (however, when I was a kid we used to sit in the yard after dark and I'd make up ghost stories and tell'um and scared all of 'um) but I'll try my hand at this.

     I was born April 13, 1907 sixth child of George and Quilla Harwell. I think it was on Thursday. Anyway it was the day before my dad's 40th birthday. There were 3 boys & 5 girls. The boys being the oldest. Tracy, Jesse, Jeff, Zula, Gladys, me, Edna, Hazel.

    Growing up we girls made our own past-time. We had a storm cellar and we cut people and furniture out of Sears catalog and we'd make houses in the cellar and play what we called paper dolls. Each family had a name - what they were I don't know. Lots of times we'd get to fussin', then we got the hair brush on our bottoms.

Gladys, Zula, Tracy, Lyndel, Hazel.
Seated: Quilla Hazelwood Harwell.
ca. 1962.

    Mama was a wonderful mother but was pretty strict with us and we knew to mind. In the winter time in the evening my dad would sit and play the violin and Zula would play the piano. After she married I played the piano while he played the violin. I can remember I always like to be doing something and one morning bright and  early Jeff (the youngest boy) was out flying a kite. I run with him but he finally told me to get out of his way. So I went back to the house. If he ever got it in the air I don't know. Then at Christmas my dad got some fire crackers and said we kids were not to touch them. First chance I got I got one and stuck it in the wood stove and lit it up and it went off in my hand and singed my eye lashes (and by the way, it was my left eye and they never have been as thick since). You may know I got punished for that. If we were to visit some other kids we always had to be back at a certain time. Once day she let us go play with Frances and Dixie Stevens. They had an upstairs. Mama said "don't be going up the stairs". While we were there the girls wanted to go up stairs. I said fine, but Gladys said Mama said not, but I went anyway and when we got home she told Mama and I got a whipping of which served me right.

    We didn't have a lot of things going to school that other kids had. I know one girl in my class had a big ball. A lot of kids had one and I sure wanted one. I ask Papa to get me one but he said he didn't have the money. So I would go by my friends house (I've forgot her name) and she'd let me bounce her ball.

Lyndel Harwell Hamilton with her niece, Patsy Jo Eppler.
ca. 1930
    Mama made all our clothes and she saw to it we went to Sunday school and church. I can't remember my first time to go. I do remember one of my S.S. teachers. I learned a lot from her. I learned no matter how poor you are you have a Heavenly Father who loves you just as you are. I'll never forget that dear lady. Mrs. Hailey was her name.

    Then came World War I. It was sad times around our house. Tracy and Jesse both joined and spent quite a long time over seas. I can remember how sad Mama and Papa were and were very uneasy about my brothers. I wasn't old enough to do anything but Zula learned to knit and she made lots of things working for the Red Cross to be sent to the soldiers. Jeff was too young to go so he went to Virginia and was working in the ship yards which was defense work. While there he took the flu what seemed to be all over the country and died 1918. I guess that was the saddest thing Mama and Papa ever went thru. They waited a month getting his body back. Mama told me a few days before she died that not one night had gone by since he died that she didn't think of him before she went to sleep. Then four years later she lost another son in a car wreck. Jesse in 1922.

    Back to my childhood. We always had a cow as long as Papa lived. He always bought peanut hay for the cow. Our barn sat at the back of the lot and had a side door where you could go in without going in were the cow was. We kids spent many hours in there hunting and eating peanuts out of the hay. I guess I was always asking for trouble - when we were at the table during mealtime we kids had to be quite and Mama and Papa did the talking. They were busy talking one day (I always sat by Papa) and I kept saying "uh huh" - he kept looking at me, but I didn't stop so he just slapped my jaw - you better believe I hushed then. That's the only time he ever hit any of us girls. Mama said he whipped the boys now and then. That slap taught me to be more respectful to my elders. I'll say one thing, I never got a lick I didn't deserve. I remember the day Hazel was born was a cloudy day in October (17th) and butterflys were flying all over the place. Papa told us girls to go to the neighbors across the street that Mama didn't feel good and he was going for the doctor. We watched the doctor come carrying his little black bag and we just knew he had a baby in it for Zula told us he would probably bring a baby with him. She was old enough to know what was going on.

    I think the first president I remember was Woodrow Wilson. I don't know what kind of President he made - I do remember Papa not liking Coolidge - said he didn't do anything but go fishing.

    I went on to High School. Had many good times. (I'll brag a little). I was called one of the prettiest girls in school. Had boy friends and was one of the football cheerleaders and I really fell in love with football. I had a boyfriend who lived in DeLeon. We fell in love, was my first love. I guess we would have married but when he finished school he went to Big Lake to work (he was 2 years older than me). We wrote to each other - in the mean time a new boy came to town with his brother and family. They put in a tailor shop and lived two doors up the street from us. One day I was sitting on the front porch and he passed by the house with our next door neighbor boy and he ask him to introduce me to him, so he did.
Bob told me that he told him I was his if he never got me. His name was Joe Hamilton. We got real thick pretty quick. Mama and Papa both liked him so did my sisters. Zula was already married and had son. Joe and his brother closed the shop and moved up to Electra, TX. But we wrote (love) letters and at Christmas time (a few days before) he came back and got me. We told Mama we were going to get married and she wanted us to get married there but since Zula had gone off and got married I wanted to do the same thing so off we went Christmas Eve.

We got our license in Breckenridge but the judge had already gone for the holiday so we went on to Electra to his mothers and Joe told Emza his brother we hadn't found a judge to marry us and for him to go with us to the Baptist preacher so we went and were married in his house. We were pretty tired had driven all night.  We stayed with his mother and sisters, Lucille and Viola for awhile then rented an apartment. I forgot now what kind of job he had. He went to work early and came home after 5. Where we stayed the lady had a piano and I spent most of my time playing on it. I guess I surely ate lunch but I don't recall, but I did fix an evening meal.
Joel W Hamilton, Jr.
It only had two rooms. One night he decided he'd fix a steak. He had the fire too high and grease spattered all over his face. Boy you could have heard him swear a mile off. I tried to do something to help him, but my help wasn't wanted. He went to the car and sat there all night. What happened after that I don't know. After we'd been married 3 months I was homesick and I went home on the bus. I stayed for 3 weeks and got homesick to go back to Electra and didn't have the money so Papa gave me the money. I wired him in care of his mothers and told him to meet me at the bus station at midnight. When I got there he wasn't there. I waited and waited and since Lou didn't have a phone I couldn't call them. The bus station was in a hotel so I got a room and the next morning I called the neighbor and Joe came to the phone and was supprised to hear from me. He picked me up. But instead of taking me to his mothers we went to Emzas house and Dorothy his daughter told me his
Joe, Carol Jane & Lyndel Hamilton

Emza Hamilton
mother had got the wire and tore it up. I guess she thought I'd just head back to Gorman when he didn't show up. She told Dorothy she wanted him to quit me. Well she got fooled. She never liked any of her in-laws and she made trouble for all her family always. In fact the whole family got along like a bunch of hornets and it really upset me for I sure wasn't used to such as the way they got along. We had a "stormy" marriage and yet there were good times we had and the most wonderful thing that came out of our marriage was our two precious children. He like to travel. We moved many, many, many times.  We lived in Oklahoma City at 411 SE 26th Street longer than any place. I loved it there, had lots of friends and good neighbors. Lived there from 1929 to 1939.

Lyndel & Harold Stephens.
ca. 1952, Odessa, TX
When we came out here after leaving OK City I stayed in Gorman 2 years till we built this house. When I married Steve in 1952 it took us awhile to get adjusted but it worked out good and we had a very long and happy life.
Joe, Carol Jane, Dickie & Lyndel Hamilton.
ca. 1946 in Odessa, TX

Lyndel and all of her children and grandchildren on her 90th birthday April 13, 1997.
Back row standing L to R: Daniel Ramirez, Dick Hamilton.
Middle row standing L to R: Janene Hamilton, Robert Ramirez, Carol Ramirez, Lizlynne Hannig.
Seated L to R: Lynda Polk, Lyndel Stephens, Kerry Kelly.
Seated on floor: Kathy Collins.
    Now I'm old, gray headed, can't hear much, wear glasses and have lost quit a few teeth, lost all my family to the Lord. But He's good to me. I'm thankful for many things. My daughter & grandson's, my son and Margaret - who is like a real daughter, and my 3 granddaughters and their families - also my other two grand daughters Lynda & Kerry.
I know there were lots of things in growing up that would be of interest if I could think of them and if and when I do I'll make a fast note - God Bless you all & I love you.

Lyndel Stephens and her son, Dickie.
ca. 1958

    Today is July 4th. I got to thinking "what did I do on the 4th growing up?" One thing came to mind. This particular 4th I remember Papa got us girls and Mama together and we all got in a fired car and went to Bass Lake where the celebration was held. I remember he gave us a nickel apiece. I think that must have been before Hazel was born. Then when I was in High School on the 4th some of the school kids had a stand out there. I helped in it we sold cold drinks, had to ship the ice from a block of ice. The boy working with us was our best football player and my secret love. He was shipping ice and I started picking it up and he stuck my hand and I thought "Now I have something to remember him by" and I did, for years I had a scar.

    I remember tonight while I thinking over my childhood. Gladys, Edna and me used to sit on the side of the bed with a song book and sing hymns. We thought we were the best singers in Gorman, but we really got a lot of pleasure out of that. I remember we 4 girls were playing, what we called "Lady". One day we were playing and really putting on the dog. All of a sudden I felt a pain in my stomach and I said "excuse me Ladies but I've got to blow off some steam". But it wasn't steam I blew but the real stuff so I got a good spanking. (Excuse this if it's too rough for your ears!)

    I seemed to always have a boyfriend. When I was in about the 5th grade I had a boy friend named Elmer. I sat on the front seat and he sat on the back seat on the same row. Every time he caught the teachers back to the class he'd throw me a note down the isle. I don't know how he kept from getting caught and for sure none of us in class told off on each other. I remember when Christmas came we drew names for the Christmas party. We didn't get each other's name, but when we were dismissed to go home he caught up with me and gave me a red hanky for my Christmas present. I didn't have one to give him but he didn't seem to care. Years later I wondered what became of him. When we were staying at Mamas and C.J. went to school there two terms, I meet up with him, we visited awhile and he told me he was married and had a family and I don't remember where he was living, he was there on visit. He looked pretty much the same only older.

    When Uncle Ed died (Stella's husband, he was Mama's double cousin) Stella and her kids moved from Carbon to out in the country at Gorman. She had a son my age and one Edna's age and a daughter a little older than Hazel. We were pretty young when Uncle Ed died. One day Mama let me and Gladys go out to Stella's it was about 2 miles out of town and we were to stay a couple days and nights. I was probably 10 years old. I got so homesick the first night I couldn't sleep. I begged Gladys next morning lets go home. She finally gave in and here we went. I was crying and she was holding my hand. I remember we had to climb through a fence. I was never one to want to go away from home and stay all night. After Zula and Ira married they lived in Carbon and Gladys and Edna would go stay days at a time, but I never would.

July 17
    I remember Mama used to have a time combing mine and Edna's hair. One summer Papa's sister Aunt Harriett came for a visit and she watched Mama comb our hair and what a fuss we put up. Next day she told Mama she wanted to take us to town. We visited the barber shop. When we got home we had Buster Brown hair cuts. Mama didn't mind so much, but Papa had a fit!! May hair has never been long again.

July 24
    Something came to my mind this morning. One day Mama got us girls together and we went out in the country to see a cousin of hers. We walked through a field and on our way back, I was running ahead and saw something shining in the grass. So I stopped and picked it up. Guess what! I'd found a silver dollar. The rest came running and believe me we were an excited bunch. I don't know how we spent it, I wish though I'd kept it.

August 2
    I remember when I was in grade school a bunch of girls (from the best families) were playing what they called "Dead". Some one lay on the playground at recess and the others passed by like in a funeral. None of them wanted to play dead so I was standing by listening to them and I said "I will". So right then and there I thought I had it made with the bunch. I don't know how long we played that game but it made me happy.

August 9
    I remember one time a bunch of us High School girls and boys meet at Agnes Maher's home, it was one weekend night. She had a piano and Mary Wade and me took turns about playing while we all danced. We had lots of fun. I remember she lived up close to the Baptist Church. Her dad was a cable tool driller and her boyfriend went to work for him after graduation. They were in Mexico and he got killed on the rig. He and Agnes were going to get married. That was really sad for all us kids. I've often wondered what ever went with Agnes and her family. They must have left there after I got married.

September 11
    I haven't written anything lately. Had other things on my mind, but one thing has come to my mind. We four girls all slept in the same room. Zula and Edna slept together and Gladys and me slept together. When we went to bed we were supposed to go to sleep, not lay awake half the night talking. One night I'm not sure who started it (could of been me) but what ever it was we got to laughing and the more we laughed the worse it got. Mama and Papa both yelled to quite down, some how we had our tickle box turned over. Out of the bed Mama got and came in with 4 large shortening cans, placed two behind two doors and made us sit on them till we stopped laughing. Edna and Zula got to get back to bed first. I remember Gladys kept telling me to shut up so we could get to bed. I guess I finally did. I know my tail end sure was glad to get off that can.

Zula, Lyndel & Gladys.

    I remember Mama used to take us girls and go to what was known as the plum thicket when we thought they were ripe. They were wild plums and Mama made jelly out of them. We all enjoyed going out there.

    I remember one cold "nite" we were all sitting around the fire. Papa was drawing. All of a sudden he laughed and we kids run to his side to see what he had drawn. There was Mama sitting at the machine sewing. He was always drawing some of us doing something. Mama sewed a lot at night for she made all our clothes. I wish I had some of those drawings he did.

September 25
    While I was setting in church Sunday, Jim was talking about how his mother always got things more or less ready on Saturday for Sunday. It brought back of what we did in my childhood in getting ready for Sunday. Mama always baked that day, then she brought the #2 wash tub in the kitchen and heated a bunch of water, then each of us older girls (Zula, Gladys, Edna and me) took turns with the tub. Mama would wash mine and Ednas hair, but Zula and Gladys were old enough to do their own washing and bathing. A lot of squealing and howling took place. I'm sure Mama was a nervous wreck, but she was a strong person, so I guess she wasn't too upset over it. I've wished a lot of times I had Mama's strength and patience.

August 2, 1997
    I was thinking of a time when I was in my first year in High School. We were giving a program at the theater. They wanted someone to do the Hoola dance. Nobody volunteered so I said "I can do it". They gave me a try and I got the part. Boy I really felt BIG. Gladys was in it too. She gave or rather recited something and did very well. She was always timid and had been taking speech. So she did her part well too. I don't remember what the title of the play was, but the High School put it on. I really felt lucky to be in it. (I really did some twisting!)

September 2
    It's been awhile since I've written, but I killed a fly in the sink tonight and I thought of something. When we were kids we were always running in and out the screen doors and letting in all the German flies. Mama made each one of us get a cup towel and start shooing flies to the door. One of us stood at the door and when the flies came that way we'd open the door and shoo them out. We took turns opening the door. About once a day we'd do that in the summer.

October 2, 1998
    It's football season again and it brings back to mind football when I was in High School. We always entertained the visiting team after the game that night. My boyfriend lived in DeLeon and that was the team we were playing and we beat. We had the party at my friends house and I told her I'd be back the next day and help her clean up. Well, I did. She ask me if I'd like some crackers and milk, boy yes I did. Crackers was something scarce at my house so I really enjoyed that. We were poor but we were happy, but I guess we did wish for things we couldn't afford, which is natural especially with kids. And you know what? I keep crackers in my kitchen and still love'um!

January 5, 2000
    I haven't written in quite awhile. We are now in the 21st century. I can remember when I was a kid the furthest I thought about was "where would I be 50 years from then" but much time has passed since then. I can remember on New Years Eve we always heard guns being fired and fire works.

September 15
    Last night while I was brushing my teeth, I thought back when I was a girl brushing my teeth. We didn't have toothpaste so we used salt and some times soda. I guess I never had tooth paste till Joe and I were married. I've come a long way since then!

January 1, 2001
    Well - here we are in 2001. How the time flies. I was remembering when I was a kid, how on New Years Eve we always wanted to stay awake in see the New Year in. At the stroke of midnight we would hear funs firing and fire works popping. Also we could hear cimbals, birddogs barking like wild. Celebrating the New Year in is a lot different now days.

    This morning as I was making out my rolls for lunch I thought about Mama. When I was a kid I'd watch her make biscuits with her hands, ( I always used a spoon to stir mine) when she got through she'd go to the kitchen door step out on the porch and clean the dough off her hand. I ask her why she did and she said so the chickens would eat it. We had chickens and all left over food went to them. I don't have any chickens so my dough goes in the trash!