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
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
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
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
The women would
finish up the dish washing and the men would go fishing and play
“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!”