Texas Escapes
Online Magazine

Woodrow Wilson Nicholds
(1917 – 1978)

by Bruce Martin
Bruce Martin

My father-in-law had an independent, self-sufficient nature; a hard-working, no-nonsense kind of guy. He grew up in rural east Texas farming country during times when working with the hands was a common vocational activity. Prior to military service, he was a member of FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps in what he referred to as the “Tree Army”. This group of men planted pine trees in abandoned cotton fields for erosion control. This planting was to become an integral part of what is now known as the Davy Crockett National Forest.

When inquiring how Woodrow and Earline met, she said that Woodrow was in the CCC and one of her cousins, also in the CCC, said that he knew a girl that he would like to introduce him to. The first time that Woodrow met with Earline, he took her a basket of peaches and she was so shy that she was reluctant to accept them. They eventually did become Mr. & Mrs. Nicholds and the parents of five children.

Woodrow Wilson Nicholds
Woodrow Wilson Nicholds
During World War II, Woodrow was stationed in California, assigned to food services, and rising to the rank of Tech Sergeant at time of discharge.

Upon return to civilian life, he chose the occupation of carpenter, becoming a steward, working on construction projects at Humble Oil and Refining, Sinclair Refining, and numerous other industrial facilities.

Woodrow and Earline purchased a five-acre plot in eastern Harris County and built a modest home, adding rooms as the family grew. The rural sounds were interrupted by freight trains traveling on nearby tracks and tug boats in the San Jacinto River basin.

To supplement income, they decided to build rental apartments on a portion of their acreage. A local church on Sheldon Road in Channelview had elected to construct a new sanctuary, classroom, and office structure. Bids were taken for the removal of the existing church building. Apparently, Woodrow’s bid of $500 was the only one received. Enough lumber was salvaged for Woodrow to build a two-story four-plex and two single-story duplex apartments. He jokingly said that the ones who built that original church building had used “a ton of nails”, his obvious observation of over-abundance.

Expanding this entrepreneurial spirit, they also opened up space for the parking of trailer homes. Living on a dead-end road, there was not a lot of traffic, other than residents and the occasional “lost” person.

After Woodrow’s untimely death in 1978, Earline continued to manage the rental apartments and mobile home spaces for another thirty years.

It may be that Woodrow was a bit mischievous in his childhood years. On one occasion, a grade school teacher told him that he was going to be a janitor in hell; to which he replied, “if I do, I’m not cleaning your room!” The first-born child, my wife Sharon, says that her dad had a “unique” sense of humor; but, did not elaborate …

Our daughter recalls that, when the grand kids were there visiting, he would pile them in the back of his pick-up truck to take them to the store to get barbeque and buy them each a piece of candy. When our son was a young lad, Woodrow gave him a small pocket knife that became known as “my ghost-cutter”.

Sharon’s sister, Martha, commented on Woodrow being sometimes stern, but soft-hearted, too. She remembers him sitting in a folding lawn chair in the front yard talking to their hound dog, Rochester. It seemed as though the dog understood his every word. When, Ginger, her Chihuahua, died during birth of her puppies, she thinks that it was the first time she saw tears in her father’s eyes.

Marilyn, the youngest daughter, shares: He worked very hard. He had his carpenter jobs, plus he grew strawberries, supposedly for extra money to buy building materials for the rental apartments. He would come home from work every day and either work on the apartments, or old cars for the boys, or go to the grocery store for mom. I think he enjoyed this latter chore, because he loved visiting with people. Perhaps from his farm days, he loved working in the garden, tending to the plants and rose bushes. In the evenings, he walked around the property checking on things and visiting with the renters if they were outside. Dad somehow found time to visit his mother and in-laws on most weekends. He also found time to go fishing and had the patience to take me with him and teach me how to fish. He made me learn how to bait my own hook; I still enjoy fishing. I think all dads should teach their children how to fish, take care of the yard, paint, nail, varnish cabinets – so they will know how to take care of things around the house, too. I remember that dad would bring home every stray or feed ones that were dumped at the dead-end street we lived on. He had a big heart and was a bit of a romantic. He would always buy mom a dozen red roses for Valentine’s Day and the largest box of candy he could find. Red roses were always his favorite flower. One time, I remember his buying mom a set of china for their anniversary. At Christmas, he would try to surprise us. One year, he kept telling me that I had one more gift under the tree, but I couldn’t see it. He had tied a little black box around the trunk of the tree that contained a Timex watch. He had not finished school; but, he always wanted his children to get a college education. He promised me that if I made the honor roll for good grades he would buy me a car. Since I was young, I told him that I really wanted a pet monkey, like my friend Nancy had. That didn’t happen! Although, he did keep his promise about the car.

Years ago, Earline, now in her early nineties, spoke about the fruition of their courtship: On Valentine’s Day in 1942, they were out driving around with an aunt and uncle when they passed the home of a local preacher; at which time, Woodrow said “let’s just get married”. The preacher was out milking his cow, set the pail down, and performed a wedding ceremony. Thus, the beginning of married life and family experiences.

© Bruce Martin

June 5, 2014 Guest column

Related Topics: TE Online Magazine
Texas Town List | People | Columns | Texas
Custom Search

Texas Hill Country | East Texas | Central Texas North | Central Texas South | West Texas | Texas Panhandle | South Texas | Texas Gulf Coast

Texas Attractions
People | Ghosts | Historic Trees | Cemeteries | Small Town Sagas | WWII | History | Texas Centennial | Black History | Art | Music | Animals | Books | Food
COLUMNS : History, Humor, Topical and Opinion

Courthouses | Jails | Churches | Gas Stations | Schoolhouses | Bridges | Theaters | Monuments/Statues | Depots | Water Towers | Post Offices | Grain Elevators | Lodges | Museums | Rooms with a Past | Gargoyles | Cornerstones | Pitted Dates | Stores | Banks | Drive-by Architecture | Signs | Ghost Signs | Old Neon | Murals | Then & Now
Vintage Photos


Privacy Statement | Disclaimer | Contributors | Staff | Contact TE
Website Content Copyright Texas Escapes. All Rights Reserved