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Sundays in Floresville
During the 30's

by Lois Zook Wauson

Sundays in the Sawyer family of Floresville, was a day for church, a big Sunday dinner, fishing on the river, dominos in the afternoon, family visiting, and church on Sunday night.

Lessie Sawyer was the youngest of five children, born late in her parent’s marriage. Her daddy, Barney Sawyer was a devout man, who lived his religion, and was one of the kindest, gentlest man who every lived. I knew him and I vouch for that. Barney was born into a family of 16 children, 12 of whom all lived to be adults. Barney may have been a peanut farmer, but every Sunday he was in church… besides every Sunday night, and Wednesday night.

Lessie Sawyer Wauson told me this story. “I was born in Runge. My daddy was a cotton farmer there. When I was seven years old we moved to Floresville, and he started growing peanuts. We lived outside of town. I went to a little school called Wehman School. It had two rooms. We lived a mile and a half from the school and I walked to school every day, until I was 14 years old. Then we moved to Floresville and I went to Floresville High School. That was in 1938.”

Lessie was recalling her younger days in Floresville, when they lived out in the country on the San Antonio River, before they moved into Floresville and her father gave up farming to sell real estate. We sat my sister’s dining room table talking about the old days and I watched Lessie’s eyes sparkle, and her bright smile flash on her face, and thought she looked 20 years younger than her 76 years. She still was a “flip of a girl”, as my daddy called her in 1947, when the Kasper School in Wilson County hired her husband Richard Wauson as principal of the school. My daddy was on the school board. Later, in 1950, she became my sister-in-law when I married Richard’s brother, Eddie.

The Wauson family was from Pleasanton in Atascosa County.

Lessie, laughing, remembered she and her mother cleaning house all Saturday morning, to get ready for company on Sunday, because the “Sawyer Bunch”, were coming from San Antonio for dinner. This happened every Sunday. Lessie’s parents lived on the San Antonio River, and at that time it was a clean river, and the family would go swimming and fishing in the river. They loved to come to the Sawyer’s farm. Lessie, from the age of 7 to her teens, had the chore of dusting and sweeping. Her mother spent the day cooking and getting ready for Sunday. Saturday afternoons were reserved for “going to town”. She said, “That was the highlight of our week. We got to go to Floresville on Saturday”.

She said, “Mother always cooked a big meal. Saturday morning, she got up and put her meat on. She would always have fried chicken, or chicken and dumplings, or even a roast, because we belonged to a ‘meat club’. She started planning and was even cooking on Sunday mornings”.

“Funny thing is, it was just understood that Mother didn’t go to church, because she had to stay home and cook, and Daddy would get all dressed up in his suit, always a dark suit in winter and summer, with a starched white shirt and dark tie. He wouldn’t miss. But it was just understood that Mother stayed home and cooked. I didn’t think anything of that then. Now I do”, Lessie laughed.

“And not only that, Daddy always brought the preacher and his wife home for dinner. Mother never complained”, Lessie went on, “It was just the way it was. And here would come Aunt Bertie, Aunt Donie, and Aunt Myrtle and their families and all my cousins. I loved it. They all brought their covered dishes and we always had a big covered dish dinner!”

She said, “Back then, you didn’t take your plate and go sit down somewhere, everyone would sit at the table and eat, so we all had to eat in shifts, and wash dishes between shifts. So, it would take a while to eat.”

- I forgot to ask her who ate first and who ate last, but I’ll bet the kids ate last. And I bet the men ate first. That’s the way it was at our house.

The women would finish up the dish washing and the men would go fishing and play 42.

Lessie laughed, “You know we weren’t allowed to play cards at our house, but we could play dominos, so out would come the card tables, and the men that did not go fishing would play 42”.

By 5:00, everyone would pack up and leave, and Lessie and her mother and daddy would drive back to Floresville on Sunday night to go to church.

Someone said of Barney Sawyer, after he died, “Barney Sawyer was the best man I ever knew, because he never preached to anybody about what they were doing wrong. He said that all you had to do was show your love, the love of Christ, let that light shine, and that was all that was needed.”

When Barney Sawyer died many years ago, Lessie missed him very much. She said, ”When he was gone, I thought to myself, now who am I going to get to pray for me? My daddy always prayed for me when I was sick. I think he really should have been a preacher, because he knew the bible better than most men. And could he sing! He was the song leader in the church, and had the most beautiful voice”.

Church, family, big Sunday dinners, fishing in the river, playing 42, and a time for relaxing and enjoying life and family and God - that was the 30’s and 40’s in South Texas. I wonder how many families enjoy that kind of life now? Or is it spent working, going to meetings, movies, mowing the lawn, shopping…. and the whole family going in all different directions? The part I would not like is all the cooking the women did on Saturdays and Sundays. When did the women ever rest? I think that is where that old saying came from “Men work from sun to sun, but a woman’s work is never done!”

"They shoe horses, don't they?"
November 18, 2007 Guest Column
Copyright Lois Zook Wauson

Lois Zook Wauson's book "Rainy Days and Starry Nights' (2004) is a collection of her stories about growing up in South Texas during the 1930s and 40s.

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