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Jim's story - Page 9


Written by James Needham Groom (b.1911-)

It being 30 miles to the nearest town, getting products to market was a real adventure. We will say a farmer had hogs to sell. He would feed his horses grain and let them rest a day or two before making the trip. The night before, he loaded the hogs in the wagon, got up before daylight, hitched four head to his wagon - two wheelers and two leaders. The farmer sold whatever he had to sell, bought salt, flour, baking powder, soda, coffee, and kerosene, plus Levi Garren snuff and chewing tobacco. For his own lunch and supper, he would buy cheese and crackers or sardines or maybe a can of salmon for a dime. This donít sound like much, but it was a welcome change from day to day home food. He also might buy the kids a sack of hard rock candy or a pocket knife for a boy or a nice handkerchief for the wife and daughters. He had his wagon loaded by the night of the second day, his team well fed with a dayís rest. Early in the morning of the third day, he set out for home. With a light load, the team stepped out at 3 MPH. So about Sundown, the family could hear the chains and wagon rattling, or maybe a horse would smell home and neigh or a mule bray. This was an exciting time for the family, second only to Christmas.

My father was never a man to avoid a confrontation. If he preached to an audience of Pentecostal Holiness, he would vigorously attack the practice of talking in unknown tongues, faith healing, creating miracles or any issue where his beliefs conflicted with others. This was necessary, in his viewpoint as a man of God, but this created enemies for him so that after two or three years in one place, these enemies out numbered the backers in his churches, so it was time to move. He decided that if he went to the Baptist Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, he could learn Greek and study the Bible in the language in which it was originally written, thus giving him a knowledge superior to others not so well educated. So we moved from a rural backwood in Oklahoma to a large city.

Fort Worth, in the early twenties, was much different than it is now, not only in population, but in life styles. Downtown was where all the large stores, theaters. libraries, business offices, hotels, restaurants, banks and other activities were. The closer you could live to all this activity, the better off you were. Street cars ran out in all directions from downtown and for the most part, the population relied on them to get to work or go to schools, higher than grade schools. There were quite a few cars then, but most of the people rode the trolly to work and used their cars for trips or for their wives to shop. So the large mansions were fairly close to downtown. Out Hemphill Street, about two miles south and to the west two or three blocks, there is a district "Ryan Place" where there still are many beautiful palatial mansions. The other old homes are now rundown rest homes, rooming houses and general downtown urban blight. The Hemphill street car ran south about seven miles to the end of Hemphill Street. They turned west, approximately one mile to Seminary Hill where we lived. The fare was seven cents for an adult and half fare for under twelve years old. Downtown on Houston and main streets, there was a continuous line of street cars, going to all parts of town. Arlington Heights, T.C.U., Polytectnic, Northside, etc. They stopped at every corner, so you stood waiting until you spotted your car, deposited seven cents and you were off. In about an hour you would be six or seven miles from downtown. The Fort Worth Press sold for two cents, the Record and Star Telegram, five cents daily and ten cents Sunday, so for nine cents, you could buy a Fort Worth Press, pay your fare, and have a paper to read on the way home.

Many of the students attending the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary came with little money, trusting in the Lord to help sustain them while studying to better serve him. Maybe His plan was that poverty and depravation purified them. It was my observation that there was much more spiritual blessings than groceries abounding on Seminary Hill. A diet of meat, meal and molasses would have been most welcome. Our diet was more like oat meal for breakfast, cornmeal for dinner and miss a mill for supper. I got in on all the hard times, hunger, worn out shoes, and ragged clothes and having little or no religion, no spiritual uplift.

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