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In the Heart of the Blackland Divide

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Christmas card from the early 1930s.
Merry Christmas!  Here’s hoping you’ll be enjoying this special holiday with family and friends this time around. I’m also hoping you’ve been a good boy or girl this year and Santa doesn’t bring you switches or lumps of coal. If you get a new BB or pellet gun, please let me remind you to be careful. Those things can put your eye out!

One of the most comforting aspects of the Christmas season is the continuity of the holiday and its familiar practices through the years--Christmas lights, carols and other Christmas music, manger scenes, the Christmas tree, Santa Claus, the exchange of gifts, the gatherings of family members, Christmas dinner, and so on. At the same time, it’s also interesting to note the changes that have come to the celebration over the decades.

Mary Edna Worthy (1918-2009), who taught English and other subjects in Roscoe High School from the 1940s into the 1960s, also wrote about many of her memories growing up as a member of Roscoe’s Baptist Church. The following, one of those, is an excerpt about the Christmas celebrations at church during her childhood. She describes the Baptist experience, but all the Roscoe churches of that time had somewhat similar celebrations, whether Church of Christ, Lutheran, Methodist, Catholic, or Presbyterian. Her memories highlight the community spirit embodied in those celebrations at a time when many families didn’t have the money to have a proper celebration at home.

by Mary Edna Worthy

For those of us who were children in the 1920's and 1930's Christmas activities at Church seemed to assume, perhaps, a greater importance than they do for children today. Indeed, during the Great Depression, Christmas functions at Church were about the only Christmas festivities many children had. Preparations, of course, began far in advance of Christmas Eve. The W. M. U. conducted rummage sales each Saturday during the harvest season. At that time, cotton was harvested by hand, and large groups of migrant workers from the Rio Grande Valley came in each autumn. Roscoe had several business establishments, and Saturday was a very busy day. The migrants did not work on Saturday and spent the day downtown. The Church ladies did a thriving business, and dedicated a portion of their profits to prepare for Christmas. They bought red, stiff mesh material and cut and sewed stocking-shaped bags. These bags were filled with apples, oranges, and nuts, which at least two local grocers sold to the churches at reduced prices. One certain deacon always furnished a large supply or garishly colored candy to be added to the socks. The candy always seemed to be a great favorite with the children and, I suspect, with the deacon

Meanwhile, the Girls' Auxiliary met in the home of their sponsor, Miss Fay Dunn, to make tree decorations. Paper chains were made from red and green school construction paper; fresh cranberries were strung like beads on thread; and yards of popped corn strings were made. There were no electric tree lights, but each Sunday School class would be asked to donate a few glass balls. A pasteboard star would be cut, and covered with carefully hoarded tinfoil wrappers from Hershey candy bars—no aluminum foil was available then—and then edged in shiny tinsel. To our childish eyes, this star, when placed in the top of the tree, was the ultimate decoration-

The tree itself was a cause of much speculation and excitement. A few days before Christmas most of the men of the Church, marshaled by J. E. “Shorty” Clayton, piled on Mr. Clayton's dray and were pulled by his team of trusty mules to pastures south of town to find a cedar tree suitable for use at Church. The tree had to be as large as possible and of a symmetrical shape. This often involved hikes over several pastures before one could be found to suit their fancy. Once the tree was selected it was chopped down, loaded on the dray, and hauled back to town. On one notable occasion, a particularly impressive specimen was brought in, only to prove too large to go through the doors. It was trimmed down enough to be pulled through the doors, but when it lost some of its branches, it also lost some of its splendor

On Christmas Eve morning enough volunteers left their busy home activities to come and decorate the tree. Those families who did not have a tree at home usually brought their children's gifts and placed them on or about the tree. Those families who did have trees at home usually produced at least a token gift for their own children. Most Sunday School classes usually had a modest gift for their teachers, and the teachers sometimes had gifts for their pupils. I still have a small New Testament which Miss Beatrice Kerby (later Boston) gave to members of her junior girls' class. There was usually a free-will cash offering for the pastor.

The program usually consisted of a reading of the second chapter of St. Luke, traditional Christmas carols, some secular songs and poems, and a visit from Santa Claus. For years the role of Santa was, by common consent, played by J. E. "Shorty” Clayton- It was a role for which he was well suited, and one which he admittedly thoroughly enjoyed. Besides, he owned an elegant red plush Santa Claus suit, complete with shiny black boots, a cap and pack, and a luxuriant set of white whiskers. He called each child's name in a loud voice and happily distributed each gift and bag of fruit and candy.

Through the years this writer has seen dozens of Santa Clauses in schools, stores, and parades, and the passage of many years has taken away that child's sense of excitement occasioned by a visit from Santa Claus. Yet, taking all that into account, I think that most modern Santas lack the flair and panache brought to the role by Shorty Clayton.



Santa rode the Roscoe Express in last year's Christmas parade.
Saturday, December 24

Line-up at 6:00pm – Start time 6:30pm

Begins at 400 Block of Broadway, proceeds west to Cypress Street, turns south at Cypress, and ends in front of City Hall.



(Editor’s note: Due to a medical emergency I had last Wednesday morning, I was unable to put this in last week’s issue. I do so now with an apology for its lateness.)

These are the results of the Roscoe FFA Stock Show held at the RCISD Ag Barn on Saturday, December 10.


              Anselma Acuna
              Madison Gonzalez

               Madison Gonzalez


               Kayla Justiss
               Abigail Meadows

               Kayla Justiss


Class 1 – Medium Wool
               1st – Tait Fullwood
               2nd – Ty Fullwood
               3rd – Ty Fullwood

Grand Champion Lamb
               Tait Fullwood

Reserve Champion Lamb
               Ty Fullwood

Sr. Lamb Showmanship
               Tait Fullwood


Class 1 – Lightweight Purebred (76 – 110 lbs)
               1st –  Zeke Murphy (Spot)
               2nd – Aiden Richburg (Spot)
               3rd – Lauren Herrera (Duroc)

Class 2 – Heavyweight Purebred (125 – 206  lbs)
               1st – Zeke Murphy (Berkshire)
               2nd – Aiden Richburg (Duroc)
               3rd – Dax Drake (Hereford)
               4th – Jake McCoy (Duroc)

Class 3 – Lightweight Cross (116 - 131 lbs)
               1st – Justin Herrera
               2nd – Lauren Herrera
               3rd – Kaylee Palacios
               4th – Aiden Richburg

Class 4 – Heavy weight Cross (133 - 178 lbs)
               1st – Kaylee Palacios
               2nd – Justin Herrera
               3rd – Aiden Richburg
               4th – Dax Drake
               5th – Montana McCoy

 Grand Champion Swine
               Kaylee Palacios with Heavyweight Cross

Reserve Champion Swine
               Justin Herrera with Lightweight Cross

Jr. Swine Showmanship
               Justin Herrera

Sr. Swine Showmanship
               Kaylee Palacios

Pee Wee Show Exhibitors
               Diana Collie-Brickel
               Dylan Dosser
               Davis Drake
               Kason Gunter
               Kaycee Gunter
               Jonathan Herrera


The Plowgirls lost both of their last basketball games before the Christmas break, one to Hawley on December 13, the other to Anson on December 16. Here is the scoring by quarters of each, followed by individual scoring:

Hawley 65 – Plowgirls 44

Hawley         18       34      48      65
Plowgirls      15       24      36      44

Veronica Cuellar 16, Jaleigh Morales 14, Bonnie Wilkinson 7, Baylor Trevino, Jaci Alexander, Pena 2.

Anson 58 – Plowgirls 44

Anson          10       25      36      58
Plowgirls       8       17      22      44

Cuellar 5, Morales 9, Wilkinson 16, Jaci Alexander 7, Lynzie Atkison 3, Ba. Trevino 3, Be. Trevino 1.

The Plowgirls are off for the holidays and will resume their schedule December 27-29 with games in the Eden Tournament.



The Globe Theatre photo in the Hardin-Simmons collection.
Last week, I posted for the Roscoe Historical Museum’s Photo of the Week a picture of the old Globe Theatre that is part of Hardin-Simmons historical photograph collection. Someone has labeled the photo as being of a building in Roscoe. I thought this must be in error because I’d never heard any mention of a Globe Theatre in Roscoe, and the building was too grand for no one to at least remember talk of its existence. However, since I had no evidence one way or the other, I asked for help in solving the problem.

And I got it. Alert Hard Times reader David Maloney, who’s the husband of the former Jamie Sasin of Roscoe, provided the answer in the message he sent me. He says,

It seems that the "Globe Theatre" shown was actually the Old Globe Theatre at the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition at Fair Park in Dallas. Strangely enough, years ago, I was searching through the Hardin-Simmons photo collection for info on Roscoe's St. George Hotel, and ran across the Globe's photo. Like you, I thought something was amiss with the location in the theatre's description.

In the link below, if you click on the "GM Building" postcard to the left of the "Old Globe Theatre" card, you can get a larger perspective of the fair's site, which includes the theatre.

Another postcard, with different coloring:

So, there it is. The labeling of the Globe Theatre as being in Roscoe was indeed a mistake, and thanks to David, we now know it was actually in Dallas. Mystery solved.



This past week was marked by wild swings in the weather. The only constant was the complete absence of precipitation. On Friday the temperature rose to a balmy 79°F, yet on Sunday, only two days later, it had dropped to a high of only 25° and a low of 9°. At times the wind howled and the wind chill went below zero. Plants that had survived the first freeze were laid low this time around. In my garden, this single-digit freeze finished off my arugula, oregano, Swiss chard, rosemary, and parsley, all which had come through the first freeze with flying colors.

Since Sunday there’s been a gradual warming trend with Monday’s high of 39° warming to yesterday’s 63°. The forecast high for this afternoon is 69°. However, tomorrow will be cloudy and cooler with a high of only 46°. On Friday there is a 50% chance of morning rain along with a predicted high of 60°. Saturday’s high will be 65°, and Christmas Day should be windy and warm with a high of 67°, followed by a couple of days with highs in the fifties and decent weather for those who need to be on the roads as they make their return journeys.



Funeral services were held for Helen Joyce Martin, 79, at 2:00pm on Monday, December 19, at the Roscoe Church of Christ with Royce D. Clay, Jr., and Dan Boren officiating. Interment followed at Champion Cemetery under the direction of McCoy Funeral Home. She passed away on Friday, December 16, at Hendrick Medical Center in Abilene.

She was born to Johnny B. and Inez Evelyn (Walter) Cotton on October 28, 1937, in McCulloch County and moved to Roscoe from Voca, Texas, in 1946. She married John O. Martin on August 24, 1956, in Roscoe. Helen was a member of the Roscoe Church of Christ, worked as tax collector for the Highland School District and Nolan County Tax Appraisal District and had worked for the Roscoe State Bank. She enjoyed painting, sewing and crocheting.

Helen is survived by her husband of sixty years, John O. Martin of Roscoe, daughter Amy Boyd and husband Kent of Loraine; sons, Don Martin and wife Debbie of Roscoe and Larry Martin and wife Carola of Sweetwater; and her sister, Linda Juhan of Atlanta, Georgia. She is also survived by her grandchildren, Kassie Alexander and husband Jake, Derick Merket, Kara Johnson and husband Kade, Tyler Martin, Tanner Martin and wife Morgan, Kaylee Martin, Corynn Martin and Christa Martin; and four great-grandchildren.

Helen was also preceded in death by her brother, Jimmy Ray Cotton, and a grandson, Trevor Martin.

Pallbearers were her grandchildren: Kassie Alexander, Derick Merket, Kara Johnson, Tyler Martin, Tanner Martin, Kaylee Martin, Corynn Martin and Christa Martin.



Funeral services for Willofae M. Elrod, 91, of San Angelo, were held at 10:00am on Monday, December 12, at Harper Funeral Home Chapel with Dr. James Hassell officiating. A private burial followed the service. She passed away on Wednesday, December 7, in San Angelo.

She was born in Nolan County on September 23, 1925, to William Patrick and Fraulein Mayes. She attended Roscoe High School where she was a cheerleader, twirler and played clarinet in the band. She met the love of her life, Festus Elrod, in the 7th grade at Roscoe, and they were married in 1943, after he returned from serving his country in WWII.

The couple moved to Lubbock, where he attended Texas Tech University and she worked at several jobs including GTE and JC Penney. Then they moved to San Angelo, where they made their home and retired. They had two daughters and one son. When her children were born, she became a stay at home mom and spent her time caring for her family. She was a lifelong member of the First Baptist Church where she was on the cradle roll and sang in the choir. She also volunteered in the Shannon Hospital Gift Shop.

When her youngest daughter, Sheila, was killed in a robbery at a jewelry store in San Angelo in 1980, she became one of the founders of the local chapter of the Compassionate Friends in San Angelo, an organization for parents whose children have died. She helped many by listening to them and empathizing and relating to their loss.

She was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis around the age of 33 and was an inspiration to all who knew her by her perseverance and determination to not let this disease destroy her life.

She was a loving mother and wife and was preceded in death by her husband, Festus, her children, Gary Pat and Sheila Gay Elrod, her parents, and an infant brother, William Patrick Mayes, Jr.

Willofae is survived by her brother, T. Mike Mayes and wife Ola, of Sherman, and her oldest daughter, Diana Elrod, of San Angelo; her grandchildren, Wes Noyd and wife, Paige, of Cibolo, TX, Eric Elrod, of Weatherford, OK, and Sheila Frances Elrod, of San Angelo. She was also blessed with two great grandchildren, Kayleigh and Gavyn Noyd; and many dear friends.


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