THE INSTITUTE OF TEXAN CULTURES
ORAL HI STORY PROGRAM
4 December 1986
S: Now, Elizabeth, I understand you lived here in Bosque
County during the Depression. They were pretty horrible
times allover the world. I wonder if you can tell us
just a little bit about what it was like here in Bosque
County during the Depression.
T: That's correct. I did live here during the Depression.
I would like to go back to the beginning of my family here in
Bosque County, and I think that will provide a better background
probably for the way that we lived through the Depression
My great grandfather, J ohn C. Pool, c ame to this area
in 1839 with Krath who was a surveyor and Indian scout.
John C. Pool loved this area so much that he asked for, and
received, a grant of land between the present t owns of Valley
Mills and Clifton along the Bosque River. This is known as
the John C. Pool survey. However, he went back to Milam
County where he lived a t Nashville on the Brazos, and before
he c ould move his family to Bosque County he died. His wife
died about a year later and the two children, Tom M. Pool,
and Nancy Pool, were sent to Bosque County to live with a
half-uncle, Lowry Scrutchfield. Lowry Scrutchfield later became
the first county judge of Bosque County, and he watched
after the land and Tom M. Pool then inherited the land that
his father had received as a grant. Tom M. Pool married Melvina
Cutbirth and they were the parents of my Mother, Iva Pool.
They built a two-story house that is still standing, known as
Highview, about f i ve miles south of Clifton on Highway 6. It
.was here that my Mother , after she married my Father, Luddie
Toland Torr ence , lived with her parents, t he Tom Pools. It
was in this house, Highview, that I was born on December 7,
1918. My grandfather died in 1928, just before the Depression
really started. He owned quite a bit of land, and at his death
the land was divided between his six children. My Mother was
given the homestead, or the house, Highview, and that is where
I grew up.
I really didn't know that we were possibly "hard up" until
I was about in the fourth and fifth grade in school. No one
around here in this area had very much money, but if anyone
had any kind of a job, bringing in or receiving a salary, I
will say, they were much better off than people living out on
the farm in some ways . We a l ways had plenty to eat because we
raised our hogs , our chickens, and we had eggs and milk, and in
the summer we had vegetables. And I never went hungry. I
don't ever remember being hungry, but we just didn't always
have what we would have liked to have to eat . And we had to
save our eggs to sell at five cents a dozen in order to buy
sugar and things. Well, one thing I remember, we took in our
lunch, and I have never liked it since, was potted meat-potted
meat sandwiches and peanut butter sandwiches. And I
remember that Mother always could afford only the smallest
container of peanut butter. It seems really sad to think how
few sandwiches those containers must have made.
But we were always taught--our house was a very nice
house, it was a big house--and we were always taught to be
so proud of our house. That was--and our home, and our land
and our family. We were always very, very proud of our Pool
I remember that Mother worried because we didn't always
have new clothes for Easter when that was the thing. It
seemed like everybody got new shoes, a new dress, and a new
hat, maybe, for Easter. But we seldom did.
S: Now, about your schooling at that time. You said that you
became aware of being a little bit hard up in the fourth and
fifth grades. Why did you become a little bit hard up in the
fourth and fifth grades?
T: Well, I guess I just became aware of it, because some of
the others had clothes or something that I . may have wanted
that I c ouldn't get. It's really odd, though, I think the one
thing I wanted more than anything that I never really did get,
was a Shetland pony. I don't really know how much it would
have cost, but I can remember we took ever so many farm
magazines--the Farm Journal, Cappers Farmer--I can't remember
the names of any of the others, but they would have little contests
that--so many of them--that you would win a Shetland
pony if you entered the contest and won . And I can remember
my grandmother, bless her heart, she helped me. She bought
so many subscriptions to the magazine, and she did all she
could--finally the last thing you had to do to win the contest,
I remember, was to see how many little zeroes you could put in
the square, and I didn't win the pony. I remember that.
But I would say it was possibly because that we didn't
have maybe the clothes that some of these kids that lived in
t own did. We rode to school on a school bus , and that was the
reason we took our lunch. There was no such thing as a school
But I did real well in school always. I was a pretty good
student, and when I was in the eighth grade, however, I took
pneumonia, and I almost died, and I missed that whole rest of
the year. Rather than go back and get that part I decided to
repeat the whole eighth grade . So, therefore , I was a much
stronger student, I suppose, and I was valedictorian of my
class. And I had made up my mind that I wanted so badly to go
to col l ege. And I hadn't really--I guess it was in my senior
year I decided that I would like to go to the University of
Texas. And in order to get to go, I had to--I would have to
work my way through. So I did win a scholarship, and I did-was
accepted to live in what was called the co- op house where
we did all of our own cooking and ever ything, and housekeeping.
And I got into that and then I got what at that time was
called an NYA job where I made about$lS.OO a month working
odd hours for--actually it was the Dean Emeritus of Engineering,
T. U. Taylor. He's the one I worked for. He was such an
interesting person. But the $15 . 00 that I earned paid for
my room and board at the co-op house. That was big money
in those days, $15.00 .
s : Was that $15.00 a week or a month?
T: A month .
S : A month .
T: But that did pay for my room and board in the co-op house.
Therefore , my only, the only thing I had a hard time in was if
I could raise $100 . 00 to pay my tuition and buy my books at
the beginning of each semester . Maybe it was at the beginning
of each year, I would say, then I could make it on my own .
And I had to borrow one year , and one year an uncle gave me a
hundred dollars to get started . And when I hear of what college
costs now , I am amused at how little I had to spend . I
can even remember walking to downtown Austin to save five cents
for the streetcar fare.
S: Oh, sure.
T: But, anyway, I did make it through college, and I majored-my
major was English. And then I started working. I did
teach one year . I thought that I would teach possibly , and I
did teach. I taught in Brownsville and leaving horne to go to
Brownsvi lle was like, I'm sure , the Pilgrims felt like leaving
England to corne to Ameri ca must have been (laughter). It
seemed that far off to me because I ' d never been down to the
Rio Grande Valley before. And I thought it was really odd
when I was leaving . I caught the train here in Clifton at
the depot and, of course, I think Mother and Dad were just
devastated because I was going so far away from home. And
there was someone--a distant relative on the train who said
she would take care of me 'til I got to Houston, because that's
where she was going, and that's where I had to change trains
to go on to Brownsville. And then the railroad track goes
through the field of our farm, and I could see my grandmother
waving to me up in the yard.
S: Well now, you took a major in English. Was your intention
to (a) be a writer, (b) to be a teacher, or didn't you know
at that time?
T: Well, now, I planned to teach. But at the time that I
finished in '41 I guess I wasn't--that was in the spring, and
I really wasn't the very t op , I guess, or something. About
the only thing then it seemed like women did is either they
taught or they were a secretary--or a housewife or something.
I didn't even think of going into something like landscape
architect or some of the things I might have been more interested
in. No, I never did think about being a journalist, or I
didn't take journalism or I didn't think about being a writer.
S: Well, then as you went on in your college, you proceeded
with your English to get a master 's degree, is that right?
T: Well, I did go back after I had worked for several years.
S: As a teacher?
T: Well, I only taught that one year. And then I came--I
worked--well, I did do this. This is sort of interesting.
I got in with the FAA, Federal Airway Administration, and
worked as--actually it was a teletype operator with the weather
bureau out at Meecham Field at Ft . Worth. We worked right
next door to Air Traffic Control which was pretty exciting,
I thought. And I worked there until 1950, and it was at that
time it was shift work, and so I decided that, well , I'd rather
not do that all the rest of my life, so then I went back and
got my master 's, and then this time I had definitely decided
that I wanted to teach. But my master's is in elementary education.
S: Well, now . On this, when the war came you were--World
War II--at what point did World War II start in your life?
Where were you?
T: I was telling you about going to Brownsville to teach. I
was there. I was in Brownsville.
S: In Brownsville. You were teaching what?
T: I was teaching the third grade there. In the elementary
S: And then during the War, did you as a teacher find that
you had a difficult time getting along? All salaries were
fixed. You didn't get a raise during the War because salaries
were stable, I understand. Is that correct?
T: Well, I didn't teach after '42. In the spring of '4 2,
after I taught one year in Brownsville, Mother really thought
that I shouldn 't be way down there away from home during the
War, so that's when I came back here and then I went into
working for the FAA. So I actually did not teach during the
T: War except about the very beginning.
S: I see. What did you do during the War?
T: That's what I was working mostly for the FAA .
S: For FAA? NOw, have you t aken up any art? Are you an
T: Well , after I retired ....
S: I came through your room in there in the rear, and I saw
some very beautiful paintings. Are they your work?
T: The ones in the den are.
S: Well, they were being worked on.
T: Well, yes , that's mine.
S: Well , they're very, very beautiful, and they're done in
oil? Where did you study art?
T: I study--after I retired and came back here in 1980 and
my Mother had fallen and broken her hip and I had been teaching
in Dallas, and so I came down here, and I--Joan Speiler
who lives in Clifton who, I think has attracted most of the
artists to this area . She had this class in the summer of
1980. I went and started--we started in pastels. And I
have taken through the years here . Actual l y Nancy Tuttle is
my teacher now, and I've just gone and taken from her.
S: Have you sold any pictures?
T: No. The one that I did of the historic oak tree we used
on the Bosque County history book, but I didn't get any money
for it. I ' ve just given--I am very slow about painting--
and I have given some to my sister and to my niece and my
T: nephew. But I've never sold any.
s: You paint every day?
T: No. We have lessons once a week. Like today I was
supposed to have gone, but I didn't.
S: I see. Well, going back to your grandfather. I believe
it was , during 1839 I believe it was . In 1839 settled here,
is that correct?
T: No, that was my great grandfather, and he came through
here and took out the survey, but he never did live here.
S: Oh, he didn't ....
T: His son, my grandfather, came to Bosque County in 1854.
S: I was just wondering if he had , or you_ had heard of
any Indian tales. Indians were in this country. And do you--
have you heard of any of the Indians that might have caused
T: Well , of course, there are several tales of Indian attacks
here in the county. But the Indians that really lived here
were the Tonkawas, and they called them "Tonks" and for the
most part they were friendly. They did . ..
S: There were also Comanches ....
T: The Comanches came swooping down every so often and ....
S: They weren't f riendly .
T: No. They weren't. And they were the ones that--there
was one famous battle that happened--this was during the
Civil War, in 1865. It was called the Battle of Dove Creek.
It did not take place here. It was in west Texas, near
T: San Angelo. But during the Civil War, you see, the feds
seceded--the federal troops that were here were withdrawn,
so in this area they had--they were called State Troops--
and this same Lowrey Scrutchfield that I mentioned that
raised my grandfather, he had written a diary of the Indian
tramp that they made Indian scout. And he took part in the
Dove Creek Battle. It was a whole company of men who went
from Bosque County and Hamilton County out to fight these
Indians. They had been reported out near San Angelo. The
battle took place at Dove Creek. And actually three of the
very leading citizens of Bosque County at that time were
ki l led. It was Barnes and Mabray. I can't remember the name
of the other. But anyway, there were several from Bosque
County that were killed in that battle. The only story I
remember connected with anybody in my family about the
Indians was the one about the wife of Lowrey Scrutchfield.
She had--was so proud of a turkey hen that she had setting
on a nest of eggs. And just about the time they we r e ready
to hatch, she went down to look about it, . and the poor turkey
was gobbling and all the eggs were gone, and she went to an
Indian camp that was sort of close by . These were friendly
Indians. And they had a big pot cooking on the fire, and all
the turkey eggs were in it. But that's all I know; that they
did live around here. They did use those Tonks to help them
as guides in fighting the Comanches.
S: Well, they never did get the eggs back .
T: They were cooked. (laughter)
S: Well, I wonder then, in your English courses, have you
done any writing? Have you thought of any writi ng of Bosque
County as a history of it?
T: Well, I helped write the history, but I don't know if
you have seen it or not.
S: Is that the big thick one? Yes, I did see it.
T: I wrote up several of the communities, and I also wrote
up several--I mean quite a few of the family . histories. And
my cousin, who lived on an adjoining farm, is Dr. W. C. Pool,
who has done several books and he is the history professor, or
was, he's retired now, at Southwest Texas State in San Marcos.
S: You never worked on any of the newspapers here? Is there
a daily newspaper?
T: There 's a week l y . I do a column for it, called " 80 Years
Ago in Clifton," but that is not my writing . We have microfilm
copies of the Clifton Record up i n the archi ves where
I work, and I just get it out of them--we have the Clifton
Record in 1906 and I just ...
S: So in actual fact, you still make use of your English
courses that you took? They're not wasted .
T: No .
S: Well, when are you going to write a "Gone With The Wind,"
or "Bosque County? " Bosque County's Gone Wit h the Wind .
s: You do painting . You're able to illustrate your own books.
With your English background and your painting, you 'd be able
to do the history of Bosque County all by yourself . Fictionalize
T: Well, my cousin has done a book called "Bosque Territory,"
and he didn 't illustrate, but he had a friend that I think is
quite unique and very good, but I don't know. I don't think
I'll be doing a history--in one of the family histories that
was given to us, it was .·l1r . _Evans. I thought--I really started
to send it to Michener, and I may yet, because I thought it
sounded like it would be just up his alley. It started out
with his family when they had, I guess more or less, a blacksmith
shop at Cumberland Gap during the time all the early
pioneers were coming through, and then they lost all they had
in the Civil War and finally they ended up over here in Cayote
which is a small community in Bosque County. And I just, I've
thought that this would make a great story. One of the sons
was killed, hung as a bad man in Arkansas. It just sounded
to me sort of like a Michener novel--a Centennial novel
probably, much like Centennial. I don't think Michener though
really has done anything on the Civil War. Do you think he has?
S: Not to my knowledge he hasn 't. No .
T: It was in Missouri. And I've never read too much about
the War as it was in Missouri.
S: Yeah. Well, unless you have something further to add to
this interview, I have found it very interesting . I certainly
S: wish you'd take to writing. Because there's so much
history that's unrecorded .
T: Well, thank you. I'm afraid I didn't really tell as
much about the Depression as I'd intended , but I guess I
got off on something else.
S: But it was very interesting , whatever it is. So I
certainly appreciate it very much and thank you for your
End of tape I , Side 2 - about 25 minutes
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