Mason County News
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Wednesday, November 11, 2009 • Posted November 11, 2009

Return To the Summer of '28

Surely one who has written his memoirs and has spent a large portion of his life backtracking to find misplaced possessions should be allowed the privilege of rummaging through his past and reporting on events long forgotten but well remembered when once brought to mind.

While the following memories which have suddenly surfaced are taken from a section of the memory lane previously reported in this column, they do belong in this particular time frame.

These events took place in that wonderful summer of 1928 when I spent those three prized school vacation months in Eldorado, Texas working in the Hoover Drug Store and staying with Uncle Sam and Aunt Martha Jones (they were not really my aunt and uncle but they were to my half-brother Robert McGrew).

That was the year that the Jones’ daughter Finna was going with Lewis Whitten (they later married); that I learned to chew tobacco, smoke cigarettes and drink home brew; that I made a host of friends (some remembered but most forgotten); and that I became enormously enamored with an older girl whom I worshipped from afar.

Things I still remember about that summer:

That narrow trail through the open lots north of the courthouse that I staggered through each morning as I smoked my first cigarettes on my way to work.

The window into my bedroom that I left unfastened in order that I could slip in late at night without being noticed.

The nights spent playing bridge with Luther Barber, his wife Eula Mae and her brother Taylor Wright.

What a thrill it was to be “the new boy in town” and have all the girls come into the drug store to look me over.

Riding in the in rumble seat of Jimmie West’s car with various girls I courted.

Stud Ballou going with Elizabeth Bradley, a girl I greatly admired, and whom he later married.

The young lady in town whose face was beautiful on one side while the other side was completely marred by a dark red birth mark.(My heart bled for her).

The visits I enjoyed at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Tom Jones out on the Christoval high way and the dates I had with their daughter Victoria (in her car by the way).


My most vivid memory comes from my last adventure with two Eldorado boys:

One night at the end of that wonderful summer and after I had quit working at the drug store I borrowed my brother-in-law’s car and with two friends from Eldorado we drove to San Angelo to have dates. Each of the Eldorado boys had girl friends in San Angelo and they had arranged a blind date for me.

On the way to pick up our dates we made a pact — the one that did not “score” with his date that night would get kicked in the fanny by the ones who did. In those days the boys talked a lot about “scoring” with their girlfriends but the usual score at the end of the date was: a lot of teasing by the girl to zero for the boy.

At any rate, during the course of the evening and after a few drinks of bootleg whiskey my date got scared that I might seduce her and started crying. Hell, she didn’t realize that at the age of seventeen I was just as scared of her as she was of me.

So amid the sobs of my date the rest of us had to get our pleasure and amusement from the liquor we drank and the dirty stories told by the boys (and enjoyed by the girls who were not crying).

Of course you know by now that at the end of our triple date the score was Girls 3 - Boys O. Hell, there wasn’t a one of us that had gotten as far as first base - thus it was that we allowed the girls to pitch a perfect no-hitter.

But that was not the end of the story. Besides the pact we had made the boys agreed to spend the balance of the night with me at my brother-in-law’s ranch outside of Christoval, then I would drive them to the highway the following morning and they would hitchhike a ride into Eldorado.

The end of the story now approaches: when we reached highway we all got out of the car and completed the terms of our pact. We each bent over and received a kick in the fanny by each of the others. (This happened in 1928 and we have never seen one another since.)

One of those boys went to Annapolis Naval Academy and retired as a high ranking Naval Officer . The other went to A & M and retired a General. I have often wondered what those fellows would have thought if after all these years someone walked up behind them, kicked them in the fanny and said “Hey, do you remember me?”

FOOTNOTE (for Kathy Roe, Quincy, Ill.):

Dear lady, I lost your address and am using this footnote to say thanks for your kind letter of sympathy for the loss of my wife. Thanks too for your wish for me to keep writing—this I will do as long as I possiby can—but—how much longer do I have—I wonder.

I wonder too just how a lady in Quincy, Illinois gets a copy of Mostly Memories to read. Does she take the Mason County News or does a friend e-mail her a copy of my column. Enlighten me please.

Bill Bodenhamer

1300 Wall St.

Brady, Texas 78625


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