INSTITUTE OF TEXAN CULTURES
SAN ANTONIO , TEXAS
ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM
INTERVIEVl WITH: Mrs . Ben Norman
PLACE: Killeen, Texas
DATE: June 16, 1989
INTERVIEWER: Walter and Janie Sargent
JS: Mrs. Norman, we have been talking and I should get this
on tape. You've been telling about plowing the streets in
Killeen in preparation for paving and the humorous remark
your husband made to a s tranger who inquired about why the
streets were being paved.
N: Didn't know what was going on. Stopped and asked him
what in the world was goi ng on . And he said: "Well, we do
this every year to plant our turnips." (all laugh)
WS: When was this paved then? When was the street
approximately ... what year did they do the paving? Do you
N: We didn't pave all our streets in the 20s. It
definitely must have been in, I'll say the 50s probably. I
don't know, 40s or 50s, we paved our streets.
JS: I would like to know about your wedding day. I know it
was so different in those days than it is now.
N: I don't know that it was much different. We were
married in the First Baptist Church. We had all the regular
attendants and everybody came.
JS: What day were you married on, do you remember that?
N: I don't remember.
JS: So many times they were married on a weekend because
N: I probably was; right now I can't tell you. But I do
remember that it rained and I l ove rain and it was the
nicest thing that could have happened to me. I had been
teaching school all year , I was tired, and I'd had party
after party. Everybody in the community wanted to give us
some kind of party. I was tired. And that rain just
soo thed my s oul. It does t o this day . I l ove t o walk in
JS: That's interesting. Someone asked me to ask you about
the names of the streets. How they have changed since Fort
N: I think somebody had a girl friend and somebody else had
a wife, and somebody had this, and I don't think there is
any rhyme or reason to any of the streets. And it's sad .
Because you don't have any idea which direction to go,
what's next to what. Yo u still don 't.
JS: Are the streets laid out pretty well systematically in
the town, or sort o f haphazardly in the growth after Fort
N: I think they laid out the streets pretty well.
JS: It was planned pretty well?
N: I think so . Talking about the names of the streets.
Trinier was a name that was established many, many years ago
and to us oldtimers it upsets us a little bit to hear
JS: Why is that?
N: The name of the street is Trinier.
JS: Oh, I see what you're saying. How is it spelled?
N: T-r-i-n-i-e-r. I don't know whether it was a family, or
a creek or what. There was usually some reason for a name
but it's been called Trineer now.
JS: It's accepted now. What changes did you see in the
schools when Fort Hood carne?
N: \VeIl, people. Students.
JS: How did they account for them? You know building.
N: \Ve had two sessions. \~ had a morning and an afternoon
session. And about that time Texas went from II-grade
system to a I2-grade system. And we had to teach - if you
were teaching, if you were supposed to be teaching fourth
grade arithmetic, you taught 4th and 5th grade arithmetic
I had to quit teaching when I married, because the law
was-it was during the depression and our school system - if
you had a salary coming in - somebody was making enough
money to keep the family going you could not teach. So when
I married a wage earner I couldn't teach any more,
regularly. I taught all the time. People were out, you
know ... I taught
N: I substituted. Sometimes I'd substitute all year long.
But, we built that second - I mean we had to go two
sessions, and I had to teach two years. When I got through
that year I told the superintendent: Don't ever call me
again. I will never teach school again. And I didn't.
JS: Did one teacher - the same t eacher taught both
N: Oh, no, no.
JS: You had a teacher for each session?
N: But you were doing double duty in trying to teach two
grades. It was bad enough to teach one grade . But to try
to teach two - that's terrible. One of the teachers the
last year I taught, had married secretly and when they found
out that she had married she was dismissed immediately. And
it was the last month of school and she was a math teacher
and I go t the job. That was the worst thing I ever got
into. That's when I said: No more.
JS: What was the makeup of most of the students before Fort
Hood. Where they most of them Anglos?
N: Yes. I don 't know that I ever had a - I don't remember
a Latino, or whatever.
JS: Or black .
N: No , no blacks. They just weren't here. You know about
Killeen. We didn 't allow blacks. Did you know that?
JS: You didn't allow them at all?
N: I suppose this was the result of the war. That there
was such a bias against black people.
JS: You mean the Civil War?
N: The Civil War. Some of these people had come this
direction because they were leaving the results of the war.
So, they just didn't dare come because if they did some of
the young bucks would throw eggs at them and they just
But there was one family , the Andersons, had a black
N: girl; young one . And I don't know where they got her.
I guess I should know, but I don't remember. But anyhow,
Lulu, we called her Lulu Anderson, and we all just adored
her. And the young ones loved t o play with Lulu. And I
think they treated her well. But she was t he only black in
town except for black men that came and cleaned out the
toilets. I don't know how o ften, but anyhow they had a
wagon and came and cleaned out - it was work to do.
JS: The outhouses. But how often would they come?
N: I j ust don't remember. But I do remember him.
JS: This Lulu. Was she segregated at all? Could she fit
into any of the groups?
N: Of course she just lived with the Andersons and we were
all friendly with her but I don't suppose she ever left ...
after a time, I don't remember when, she moved to Temple,
after the Andersons were gone. Maybe before, I don't
remember. And she may still be there. I don 't know.
JS: Did they have a Ku Klux Klan?
N: Yes, there was a Klan but it didn't do damage. It tried
to do good.
JS: Is that right?
N: Uh, huh. But talking about Mr. Anderson. The
Andersons. He and our Baptist pastor were in some sort of
disagreement, to put it nicely, over the Klan and Mr.
Anderson was put out of the church. They did that in those
days. My grandfather was put out of the church because he
didn't go to meetings on Saturday. They had their business
meetings on Saturday -
JS: The Klan members?
N: No, no, I'm talking about the church. It had nothing
to do with the Klan. But Papa Cole didn't go to the
Saturday meetings when they had the business meetings and
got put out of the church . He did go back into t he church
and was a very good member, but I had an uncle, Uncle Wi llie
Cole, who went t o Baylor University and was a star baseball
player . And he p l ayed baseball on Sunday and they put him
out of the church and he never did go back.
JS: About what year was this? Do you remember about what
N: Oh , dear , I wou ldn ' t have any idea.
JS: The 30s or 20s .
N: I guess it was earl ier than that. It was much earlier.
JS: Of course, Fort Hood was the big thing here during the
war, but how about the rest of the war. Many of the - a lot
of the soldiers going out from here - the local soldiers.
N: I don't understand the question , or I don't know how to
WS: She wants t o know how many l oca l boys went to war.
JS : Tha t's right.
N: Well, there were l ots of them. And some of them didn 't
come back .
I'm sure you ' ve got to have all that information
JS: Probably they have the names of them.
N: Right . Bob Vay , for one. I don't remember right now,
but quite a l ot .
WS: I had a couple of questions I'd like to ask. I was
wondering about the rail system that came in here. Did they
have streetcars on this - how did you get back and forth to
WS: Killeen, or Temple and Waco and all that? Did you have
streetcars, or just trains.
N: We just had the train. And if you had the - before the
cars were so prevalent, if you wanted, if you had an
emergency and had to have transportation, the Norman
Brothers had a dray that delivered groceries and whatever
and they would come take you to the train so that served the
place of a taxi or a car.
WS: One other question I have . The water system, what do
you first remember? Did they have city water or town water,
or did you have individual pumps?
N: Well, I remember the water system at my grandfather's
house was a cistern that caught water and near everybody
also had a tin cistern that caught water so you caught your
WS: When did they put in a water system here, do you have
N: The water system - I really can 't tell you . I just
remember when I was in school that we did have a big tower
that held water, a water tower. But, the indoor plumbing
came along about 1923. My stepfather was Horace Law and he
was mayor of the town at that time. And they put in indoor
plumbing . And there were many people in town who resisted
it. 'I don't want that in my house.' ( laughter)
JS: They didn 't think of the convenience.
N: They were accustomed to what was going on outside and
didn't want that in the house.
JS: Well , how about early entertainment. What did you do
as a young girl?
N: Well, we took care of our entertainment ourselves . We
went to BYPU , Baptist Young People's Union, and you went to
the Epworth League, and we went to all sorts of places like
that. And then, you know, we have so much to be grateful
for in our past that we don't have any more. Because we
weren't afraid to go out in the evening. We'd go to the
movies, and we never locked a door. And we were not afraid.
And you can't do that now. And we had dates. There were
always boy and girl things going on, and people gave us
little parties where you played games and wrote little
things. You may have gone through that sort of thing,
haven't you - little games. Then as we got older, well,
when I went to Baylor University I learned to play bridge.
END OF TAPE I, SIDE 1 - ABOUT 15 MINUTES.
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