Lee Gets a New Railroad"
A Letter from
Ruth Elliott Sellers
mother and her family lived in Robert
Lee when she was a teenager. As teenagers do, she picked up songs
of that era. “When Robert Lee Gets a New Railroad" was written
about the time that the towns of Robert
Lee and Bronte vied
over who would get the railroad. (The Kansas City, Mexico and Orient
- later bought by what is now the Sante Fe.) Robert Lee lost and the
railway was completed to Bronte
in 1907. The song was apparently written shortly after that date.
The song was sung by Cora Sloan when she and my father, Eugene Elliott,
They married in 1919 and had 3 children: my brother John Elliott,
my sister, Esther Elliott Speck and me. Mother sang this song to us
and we thought it was interesting. It's an important part of our heritage
as it was always a pleasant memory to my mother. She always remembered
the time she spent in Robert
Lee as pleasurable.
LEE GETS A NEW RAILROAD
I've been married
one year today
To the prettiest little girl in the land.
She told me one morning at breakfast
She wished she'd never seen man.
"Their habits," she said, "are disgusting."
I asked her to quit chewing gum.
I grabbed for my hat and started.
She instantly grabbed for the broom.
I hurried. I rushed near the garret.
She slammed the door shut in my face.
She said, "Young man, now I've got you.
"I'll quickly attend to your case.
"When men stop the use of tobacco,
"Stop drinking their whiskey and wine,
"And stay at home after supper,
"Then, Darling, I'll quit chewing gum."
Here of late I've been driven near crazy
And it's all on account of my wife.
She ran away with a Dago
And left me to mourn all my life.
I've written her millions of letters
Asking my faults to forgive.
But no matter how many I write her
This is always the answer she gives.
"Wait 'til the gang on the corner
"Refuses to take a cargo.
"Wait 'til the cashiers and candidates
"Bring back all the money they stole.
"Wait 'til the cotton all in Coke County
"You'll nevermore see,
"And Robert Lee gets a new railroad,
"Then, Darling, I'll come back to thee."
Dona and Lee Roberts were good friends of my mother.
They had a daughter, Billie, who was about 5 years old. When we traveled
by train to see Aunt Dona and Uncle Lee in the early 1930s, all I
remember about Billie was that she used to pick up her cats by the
ears and say, "Weight, 20 pounds!" I guess she had been to the cotton
fields watching the men weigh cotton by the sackful, and she thought
she could tell how much her cats weighed the same way.
I saw Aunt Dona in the nursing home in Robert Lee after her second
husband and took a picture of her for my mother, who was in a nursing
home in Mineola. Although
their correspondence through the years dwindled, those two never lost
touch with each other.
- Ruth Elliott Sellers, Lawn,
Shoe Horses Don't They >
July 8, 2005 Column