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Kenneth Clark Ferris and I were married in the First Presbyterian Church, 1000 Penn Street Ft. Worth, TX..  Dr. Dan Goldsmith was the Associate Pastor at that time and performed the marriage ceremony.

Memories


By:  Roberta Thompson Ferris
1/26/2002


Rufus Franklin Thompson, born September 1, 1898, died August 9, 1965, was the son of Joseph (Joe) Benjamin Thompson and Metter Jane Waggoner. Daddy was born and grew up in the Elm Grove Community, Van Zandt County, TX.  He had six brothers and one sister, all who are deceased at this time.  His brothers were: Doc, Tull Oliver, Jodie Thurmon, Emery T, Jewell T. and Wilford Gordon, and the sister Rooky Jane who died about 1898, the year Daddy was born.
He married Vera Mae Groom on August 22, 1920. Parents: Augustus Byron [Gus] Groom and Emma Elizabeth Flowers.  She had six brothers and three sisters.  Her brothers: Horace, Johnny, Fred, Jerome, Jesse and Truman.  The sisters: Dora and Lillian.

Mama was born in the Phalba and grew up in Phalba and  Old Bethel Communities.  Few people know that Great Grandfather Johnny Flowers donated one acre of land to build the Phalba Church where it is standing today.

They lived in the Whitton Community as farmers on the Coleman-Miles farms as well as severals in other adjoining communities and counties.  The pasture was always greener on the other side of the road to Daddy because we moved and moved and moved.  They provided for us the best that they knew how.  We were never hungry or dirty.  He raised mostly cotton, corn, and lots of vegetables.  During the summer a lot of canning, in mason jars, took place to feed the family during the winter months.  They did not have tractors or the modern day equipment, but used horses to pull the equipment.  They also had chickens, hogs and cows.  My Mother was a wonderful cook; she could make the best chicken and southern style dressing, chocolate pies (for Sunday dinners) and candied yams, all of which could easily win a blue ribbon every time. Mama loved flowers.  So there were always flowers in the garden.  We never lived in one place long enough to have flowers in the yard.

We kids attended schools from one end of the county to the next, from Whitton, Mono, Bright Star, Mabank and Canton.  It would be impossible for me to list all the schools, but I have a sister Nelda who can.  You see the kids living in the rural areas attended schools in the country.  The grades taught were from the first to the eighth, after that, you rode a school bus into the city to high school. We walked to school everyday, sometimes three miles or more.  Cold weather or hot, it didn't matter.  In 1949 or 1950, the little rural schools were all closed and the children were bused into the city.

We attended church on Sundays somewhere near by.  Before I came along, my older brothers, so I've been told, always wore white suits to church.  As I mentioned earlier, we were very clean.  Mama made all our clothing, even our coats, so I'm sure she must have made those white suits for the older boys.  And we ironed (with flat irons) everything except the dishtowels.  She told us nighttime stories and I'm going to include a copy of one of the stories, which was told over and over again for many years.  Not long ago, my sister Nelda found a copy of this story in one of her grandchildren's books and mailed it to me.  So this portion of the family book would not be complete without the story of, "The Little Match Girl", by Hans Christian Andersen.

Daddy not only farmed with the help of my brothers but on Saturdays, he went to a little feed store in the Wise Community and cut the men's hair (The farmers who couldn't get to town).  Now you know where I'm going with this story, he not only cut the men's hair we girls had our turn with the barber scissors also.  We tried to hide, but that didn't work either.  We never liked the way he would cut our hair.  Now this is funny but when I was a teenager it wasn't funny at all.  




The Little Match Girl

Hans Christian Andersen


One New Year's Eve many years ago, it was almost dark and bitterly cold.  Snow had been falling heavily all day.  A little girl with bare head and bare feet struggled along the streets through the deep snow.  She wore only a ragged dress and a thin black shawl pulled tight round her shoulders.  When she left her home that morning she had been wearing shoes, but they belonged to her mother and were far too big for her.  As she hurried across the street to get out of the way of a cart, the shoes slipped off.  In a moment they were lost under the thick snow in a crowded street, and she never found them again.

The little girl's feet were now blue with cold as she wandered, miserably cold and hungry.  She clutched a matchbox in one hand and a bundle of matches in a tattered piece of cloth in the other, but she had not sold a single match all day.  By now lighted lamps were appearing in many of the windows, and a delicious smell of roast goose ready for New Year celebrations filled the frosty air.  People brushed past the little girl as they hurried to their warm houses with presents and parcels of food, smiling and calling "Happy Christmas" to one another through the snow.

Snowflakes settled on the little girl's hair, and at last, faint with hunger, she sank into a corner between two houses.  She grew colder and colder even though she tucked her frozen toes under the hem of her ragged dress and hugged them hard.  She was too scared to go home without selling any matches and now her hands were almost frozen too.  Dare she light just one match to warm her fingers?  She struck one on the house wall.  The light sprang up and the little girl held her fingers over the flame, picturing a huge stove with a bright warming flow.  She stretched out her feet to warm them.  Then the flame went out.  The stove vanished and she held only a burned-out match in her hand.

She struck a second match on the wall that became transparent behind the tiny flame.  She could see inside the house where there was a table filled with good things to eat.  The little girl sniffed the warm cooking smells.  Suddenly she could see a roast goose flying towards her complete with a knife and fork.  Then the match spluttered and went out, and she found herself staring at the cold gray wall again.

The little girl lit a third match and now she was inside the room, sitting under a beautiful Christmas tree covered with silver balls and bright flowing candles.  Her hand reached out to touch them.  As it did so, the match went out.  The Christmas candles shot up into the sky and turned into stars.  Then one of them fell back to earth.

"Someone is dying," the little girl whispered when she saw the star fall.  "I remember my dear kind grandmother telling me before she died that a soul goes to heaven whenever a star falls from the sky."  She lit another match.  In the first bright burst of light, her grandmother appeared, her eyes shining with love and tenderness.

"Oh grandmother," the child cried, "don't disappear like the warm stove, the roast goose and the beautiful Christmas tree!  Take me with you.  Please take me too."
Quickly she lit every single match in the bundle to keep her grandmother near her.  They burned so brightly that night turned into day, as the grandmother held out her loving arms and pulled the little girl to her.  Gently they flew up into the air together, higher and higher, to a place where there would be no more hunger or troubles ever again.

The next morning, in a corner of the city between two houses, the little girl was found with her feet still tucked beneath her and a tiny smile on her frozen lips.  In her hand she clutched an empty box.
"How sad," the people said.  "She tried to warm herself with her matches.  Poor little girl."
They did not know that the little girl was smiling because she had seen a beautiful vision as her spirit soared away on that New Year's Eve so long ago.

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