was born in 1923, in the community of Pennington,
TX, where she enjoyed the country environment in which to be
raised, attend school, and get married. In her humor, she said that
the family was "too poor" and couldn't afford to have given her
a middle name! Her father was one who "ran everything", both inside
and outside of the house. Earline, her three sisters, and their
younger brother, were so glad to see Papa John get in the wagon
to go to town, because they knew he would be gone all day.
Earline's chores on the farm included picking cotton; washing clothes
on a wash board, hanging them to dry, and then ironing them; working
in the garden; gathering eggs and milking the cows; feeding the
animals; and, helping with cooking. Water was retrieved from a cistern/well.
It's a wonder she still had time to do her homework assignments!
The country school that Earline attended had a graduating class
consisting of about a dozen students. Her eldest daughter, Sharon,
recalls hearing of one incident: Do not know the question, but,
on one occasion, the school teacher was apparently impressed by
her answer and said: "That knocked me right out of the Christmas
Tree". To which Earline replied, "You shouldn't have been in the
Christmas Tree at this time of the year, anyway". We can only guess
that the teacher had a liberal sense of humor.
Sharon uncovered this poem written for a contest when her mother
was in grade school:
"The Red Bird"
The Red Bird is my favorite one,
With its coat of red home-spun
He hops around from post to tree,
And sings a sweet little song to me
Earline still gets excited when she sees the red birds come to the
feeders to eat.
Martha, the second daughter, shared a story of either being frugal
or just plain desperate: Earline recalls a time when they went to
town, which wasn't often, and got ice cream cones as a treat. Coming
out of the store, she dropped hers. Knowing that she wouldn't get
another, she quickly picked it up and happily ate it. Apparently,
the five-second rule applied back in the 1930's, as well!
Earline married Woodrow Nicholds and, after his being discharged
from the Army, they relocated about thirty miles east of Houston.
As an adolescent, grand-daughter Melanie remembers times visiting
with "Granny Nicholds" at their home in Channelview. "She was always
up very early, before anyone else. I would find her sitting in the
kitchen, quietly, just listening to the birds chirping outside.
And, she makes the best pies ever! Chocolate pie with meringue."
Another grand-daughter, Sashia, says: "When I was young, granny
was always busy working in the yard or arranging for repairs to
the apartments. She was always trying to feed us. One of my fondest
memories is making brownies! Of course, in everything she did, if
you were around, you got to help. In hindsight, it was her way of
teaching us. I learned so much from her; she is a very strong and
Among singers of the era, Perry Como was Earline's all-time favorite.
In family life, the Nicholds were jokingly said to have raised three
sets of children: Sharon & Don (born 1943 & 1945); Norman & Martha
(born 1950 & 1952); and, Marilyn (born 1960). Norman died in 1990
and Don died in 2014. Earline was widowed in 1978 and continued
to manage the apartments that Woodrow had built as supplemental
income. She sold the home place several years ago.
Like other housewives of the era, Earline was devoted to caring
for the children, attending to matters of the home, and being a
support to her husband.
© Bruce Martin
September 7, 2014