Limestone County Historical Commission
Limestone County Historical Commission

Bobbie Jean Erskine Muhlinghause

ODDS

 

Interviewed by William F. Reagan

August 19, 2013

Home of Mrs. Muhlinghause, Thornton, Texas

 

 

REAGAN: My name is William Reagan, and today is August 19, 2013. I am interviewing, for the first time, Mrs. Bobbie Muhlinghause. This interview is taking place at her home near the Odds community—or what once was the Odds community. This interview is sponsored by the Limestone County Historical Commission and is part of the Footprints of Times Past project. She will be speaking with me today about the Limestone County community of Odds. Mrs. Muhlinghause, I’ll let you introduce yourself and let you tell me some things about Odds.

 

MUHLINGHAUSE: My name is Bobbie Jean Erskine Muhlinghause. I was born in Marlin, Texas; April 16, 1929. My parents lived in the Odds community, but we went to Marlin for me to be born, to be near a hospital in case there were problems. Dr. J. B. Barnett delivered me. He delivered many babies in Limestone and Falls County as he practiced in Thornton before moving to Marlin. I also remember that many times he came to Odds to deliver babies. He would call the store and get them to get word to my mother to meet him and help him because she helped him when he delivered babies there. My parents were Robert and Tennie Hammond Erskine. I have one sister, Tennie Lou [Erskine] Henley Webster.

 

I have many pleasant memories of growing up in Odds. It was a close-knit community. Since my husband Clint and I moved back in February of 1975, several people from surrounding communities have mentioned to me that they have never seen a community where people were so close and worked so well together for the good of all. It seems that if anyone had a problem, it was everyone’s problem. We did not lock our house unless we were going to be gone all day. The key was left on a ledge on the front porch, and everyone knew where it was. We might come home to a note that said, “I took your pressure cooker, ice cream freezer, et cetera. Please let me know if you need it before I return it.” Or there might be a sack of vegetables or fruit on the table, or some fresh sausage in the icebox or in the refrigerator later, with a note saying, “We killed hogs today. Hope you enjoy.” Our house in downtown Odds was a gathering place for neighbors to come to play because there was little traffic on our road, and it was a good place to play one-eyed Joe baseball, hopscotch, marbles, ride bikes, cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, things like that. If it rained, we went inside to play table tennis, dominoes, card games, dolls, paper dolls, May I? et cetera.

 

Our school was called Locust Grove. It was about a half mile from where we lived. In the beginning, when I started to school, we had three rooms and went through two years of high school. Later, it went down to two rooms, and the last two years I went to school, we had seven grades in one room.

 

REAGAN: I’m sorry to interrupt. So if you didn’t—if you wanted to go to high school, what would you have to do?

 

MUHLINGHAUSE: Well, at one time the buses ran to Groesbeck. But during the war, the buses quit running, and my parents moved to Marlin for me to go to high school. But some people drove back and forth to Groesbeck, Thornton, or Kosse. At that time there were schools there. My sister went to school in Groesbeck.

 

When I was growing up, we got a good education in Odds. We had a lot of school activities. We participated in playing softball and basketball with surrounding communities like Criswell and Big Hill and several other places that I don’t really remember. But also—Coit was nearby. I really don’t remember participating in that, but they were a nice little community, too. In fact, some of my relatives lived down there.

And Pleasant Grove was near Locust Grove also. Now, we did play athletics with them. We had a lot of fun at school. We put on plays. Some of our teachers were Mr. and Mrs. [J. A.] Byrd and Miss Lewis, Miss [Dimple] Liles, Tennie Hale, Pearl and L. D. McLennan. We just had a great group of teachers. Some of the McKinleys [Beatrice McKinley and Norene McKinley] were our teachers also. I have great memories of going to school at Locust Grove. We had ice cream socials in the summer. We had singings.

 

Our churches—we went to the Methodist church, and we had church one Sunday a month. The Baptist church had church two Sundays a month. So if they were having church and we were not, we went to our Sunday school and then attended their church. And many of them did the same. I can remember that—at one time we were without a piano player. My aunt Lena Coleman played the piano, but after they moved—my mother could play the piano by ear some, but she didn’t want to play at church. But my aunt Bessie Erskine, who was actually a Baptist, would come to our church and play for us when we were having church. That’s the way—and then in later years, it got to the point where the two churches could not get by. There weren’t enough people. They joined— formed a union, and they had church in the Methodist church. They sold the Baptist church to do repairs on the Methodist church. They used Baptist literature one month and Methodist literature the next month in the Sunday schools. They had alternate pastors to come at least once a month, either Methodist or Baptist. Actually, we produced one pastor from that joint union. Ellis Holden Jr. became a Methodist pastor for many years.

 

REAGAN: Were there any other denominations in the Odds community?

 

MUHLINGHAUSE: Well, not that I know of. I don’t remember anybody going off anywhere else to church. There may have been, but I—yes, there were some Church of Christ, but they went to Marlin to church. That’s all that I can remember about other denominations. Of course, the Erskines were originally Presbyterian, but after there was a Methodist church in [Odds], they became Methodist. Many of the Erskines from Stranger were originally Presbyterian, but some of them are Methodist now, too. Most of them live in Marlin now. Actually, I guess I’m the only Erskine that still lives in Odds. There may be one or two still over at Stranger.

 

REAGAN: You mentioned the school was called Locust Grove. Do you know why the name was different?

 

MUHLINGHAUSE: There were locust trees on—(laughs) and the fact that there was a Pleasant Grove nearby may have had something to do with that too. I don’t know.

 

REAGAN: While we’re talking about names, can you tell me how Odds got its name?

 

MUHLINGHAUSE: Oh yes. There’s about three different stories about how Odds got its name. The one that I was told was that they sent—when they started to open the post office, they had to send in some suggested names. They sent in three names, and there was already a post office in Texas by those names. So they sent another list, and either at the top or the bottom, somebody wrote “Odds and Ends.” That wasn’t even a suggested name, but the name came back as Odds. We do have a family joke about that. The Erskines had originally settled at Stranger, and then my granddaddy moved over here.  They say that the Stranger’s Erskines are strange, and the Odds’ ones are odd. (both laugh) Some of my friends get a kick out of that joke.

 

REAGAN: What kind[s] of businesses were there?

 

MUHLINGHAUSE: Oh yes. We had a gin and it was a very busy gin. People came from miles around, and in the summer they would be lined up to the—from the community up to the school, waiting to get their cotton ginned. My daddy bought cotton for a man in Mart at the gin. The Marlin Oil Company owned the gin. A number of people—that was the first job that they had, was working at the gin during cotton season. I can remember riding with my uncle Clint on the wagon, if we were up his way, to take the cotton to the gin. That’s another thing that I should mention: when I was growing up, a lot of the farming was still done with mules. In fact, when Daddy plowed our garden, he would borrow a mule from somebody to plow our garden with. My uncle Leonard had a tractor, and we used it many times when we got stuck coming home from Marlin on a hill. (laughs) The roads were bad back then. Daddy would go get Uncle Leonard’s tractor and pull us up the hill, and we could get home. Anyway. Of course, tractors became more prominent in years to come, but there were still a lot of people still farming with mules.

 

REAGAN: And most people raised cotton?

 

MUHLINGHAUSE: Yes. Cotton, corn, and feed were the main deals. A few people had cattle. The Criswells had cattle, and my uncle Leonard had cattle. But it was mostly row crops, and gradually people—during the war, people started moving away for jobs. Of course, the Depression was felt pretty hard everywhere, but it seemed like especially farming changed after the Depression. I can remember people moving away for—our blacksmith—oh, getting back to the businesses. We got off of that somehow. At one time there were two grocery stores, a meat market, and a garage that sold gasoline and had a blacksmith. He did a lot of blacksmith work. He also did some mechanical work. The gin was a big, big draw, especially during the ginning season. The first people that I remember having the main store, which was a general store, was my aunt Lena and uncle Lloyd Coleman. But after they moved, the Earl Hancocks had the store, and they lived next door to us. Earl Junior and Jerry and Alta Lela and Joanne were our main playmates because they were so close. Also, the Holdens lived really nearby. The Criswells and the Smalls lived nearby. The McAllisters lived on down the road. I’m not remembering all the Odds names right now, but we had a really, really good little community. People really worked together good.

 

One thing that I remember: my dad and Mr. Jones going to Austin to see about getting the REA [Rural Electrification Agency] for our community. When we got electricity, I think I was in the second grade. We had gone to Waco, all the way to Waco, and traded our battery radio in on an electric radio. We missed our programs after school (laughs) for several weeks while we were waiting for the electricity to be turned on. The day they were turning it on, we couldn’t wait to get home from school to get the radio back.

 

REAGAN: About what year was that?

 

MUHLINGHAUSE: I think it was 1936; ’36 or ’37, along in there somewhere because I would have been in the first or second grade. That was a big change when—the iceman came twice a week. Of course, we really enjoyed that. In the summer, we’d get extra ice and make ice cream on the weekend. Especially—

 

Oh, I need to tell about going to Grandmother Erskine’s on Sunday afternoons. My daddy was from a large family of twelve, and my grandmother Erskine was blind. She lived past ninety years. She was actually my dad’s stepmother, but she raised him. He was about five years old when she and my granddaddy got married. He was very close to her, so we went just about every Sunday afternoon, and there were always cousins to play with there. A lot of times we would make ice cream there. One time in the winter, we made ice cream with ice off the trees when it was really, really cold. That was quite an experience and a fun thing. But anyway, Grandmother Erskine would line all the cousins up, or have us line up, and she would feel of us to see how much we had grown since the last time she saw [us]. One of the things that my sister remembers is being outside one day and she said, “Little darling, stand still. I can see you.” It was just right in the light for her to see her, the first time that she actually saw her. But I don’t think she ever saw me. And she would check on us with what we were doing in school and everything. She was very interested in what all the grandkids did, even though she couldn’t see us. She had a lady that took care of her. Her name was Mozelle.

 

When she got sick—and she was sick a long time. People in the community—and it seems to me that maybe some of the surrounding communities came and sat up with her. Everybody called her Aunt Jane. They came and sat up with her at night when she was having problems so Mozelle could get rest. That was one real memory from my childhood. But Odds was really a great place to grow up. Times were simpler then, but we had a lot of fun. We really did.

 

REAGAN: Sounds like being helpful and helping others, that was kind of a standard. Is that true?

 

MUHLINGHAUSE: Yes, yes. Very much so. If somebody’s house burned or anything, well, everybody chipped in and got them to going. Of course, people still do that a lot but not as much as it seemed like it went on then. Nobody had much money, but everybody was happy. And everybody worked as hard as they could to keep everything going.

 

REAGAN: Can you tell me anything else about the grocery stores that were in Odds?

 

MUHLINGHAUSE: Part of the time we had two, and part of the time we just had one. That meat market didn’t stay in business too many years. You could go to the store—in fact, that was one of my treats was going to the store with a nickel or a dime to spend nearly every day. I had to walk on the trail. If Mother didn’t have any change, she’d give us some eggs, and we could get a penny apiece for our eggs. (laughs) That’s another thing: nearly everybody had a garden and a milk cow. Daddy—sometimes he had two milk cows, and when he did, we would sell some milk. It’d be our job to deliver milk to the neighbors if they didn’t have a cow.

 

Oh, I know a couple of stories about the stores. Mr. Hancock bought a wagonload—well, not a wagonload, a pickup load of watermelons and put out the word there was going to be a watermelon cutting in Odds on Saturday afternoon [for] free. People came [to] Odds [from] just miles around and had all the watermelons we wanted to eat. That was a fun day. Another time, he had some people come—had walked from Thornton and wanted to know if they could do some work for some food. They were hungry. It was a man and his wife and two children. Mr. Hancock told him to get him a broom and he picked it up. And he said, “Now put it back.” He fed them and arranged for them to sleep in the gin. They had a cottonseed place that was good to sleep. So they slept in that gin, and the next day he got them a ride to Marlin. The guy took his address, and about ten years later, he sent him a check to repay him.

 

REAGAN: Oh, wow.

 

MUHLINGHAUSE: Yeah. (laughs) I thought that was an interesting thing. Earl liked to tell that story—his son.

 

REAGAN: Were there any other—were there any civic organizations in the community?

 

MUHLINGHAUSE: Not really that I know of. We had a Ladies Missionary [Society] at the Methodist church, and some of the Baptist ladies came too. But so far as there being any extra deals—but we had—I think I mentioned the ice cream socials that we had at the schoolhouse from time to time. Sometimes they would get together some of the adults and just put on a play. There was a nice stage at the school, and they would put on a play. And another thing, they would get together—the adults—and have forty-two parties a lot. The kids would—that was fun. They’d have them like on a Saturday night, and we’d have fun playing outside. Playing hide and seek and stuff like that.

 

REAGAN: So when you had an ice cream social, everyone—

 

MUHLINGHAUSE: Everybody brought a freezer of ice cream, and there’d be a bunch of different flavors. Of course, vanilla was my favorite, except for peach.

 

Oh, that’s another thing. My daddy had—we had peach trees in our yard. We had peaches, different varieties, all summer long, which was a—and we canned. I should mention the canning. That was a big thing. We canned most of our food for the winter. We canned corn. Now, we didn’t raise corn in our garden, but Daddy would come up to the farm and get a pickup load of corn. My mother and my aunt Lena would get together and can. That was the main work.

 

REAGAN: Did they can their food in tin cans or in jars?

 

MUHLINGHAUSE: Both. That’s one of the things that my sister said I should mention. Not everybody had the tool to do the cans, and people would come and borrow our—I’ve forgotten what you called it. But I can remember people coming and borrowing that so they could can in cans. But later—the last canning that I remember was the canning in Mason jars mainly.

 

Another thing, talking about ice cream, after we got our electric refrigerator, well, Mother would make ice cream in the refrigerator. She made some very good ice cream. She put marshmallows in it and freeze it awhile and take it out and stir it. Then it’d be real smooth and creamy.

 

We got our mail from the post—mail delivery was from Thornton. Our mail still comes from Thornton. (laughs)

 

REAGAN: At one time, Odds did have a post office.

 

MUHLINGHAUSE: Yes. It was disbanded before I was born, but they did at one time.

 

REAGAN: So is there much of the community left? Any of the buildings or—

 

MUHLINGHAUSE: The only thing to show where Odds was is the historical marker that—my friend Earl Hancock and I got together several years ago and got up an Odds history and got the historical marker. You remember that because you helped us on that. We had a dedication service. Everybody was so glad to see each other at the dedication service that we decided we should start having an Odds reunion. So that summer, we had—I’m not sure what year that was, probably 2010—anyway, that was like in June, and then in August, we had an Odds reunion over—the Stranger Baptist Church let us use their building. Then we had one again last year, and we expect to have one next year. It’s fun. There’s not too many people left that remember Odds, but some of the people from some of the surrounding communities have enjoyed coming too, like the Stones that were raised over at Little Elm. They said their first job was at the Odds gin, so they have enjoyed coming to the reunions and talking about how things were back then.

 

REAGAN: So when did the gin close? Do you remember?

 

MUHLINGHAUSE: No, because I was already living in Marlin by then. I think we moved to Marlin in ’41. But it was open for several years after we left. You know, they quit growing so much cotton and started going into more ranching, and people sold their cotton allotment when they started the cotton allotments. I don’t remember exactly when that was either, but I remember my daddy telling me. Of course, I went—after high school, I stayed and worked for a year in Marlin at a dress shop there. Then I went to Dallas to Draughon’s Business College and worked for a while in Dallas, and that’s where I met my husband. He was working for oil companies, so we lived in Snyder and Big Spring and Sweetwater and then Corpus Christi. Then we got transferred to Zapata, and that was not a pleasant transfer. (laughs) So we went in the Western Auto business in Bridgeport, Texas.

 

But in 1973 my husband had heart surgery. After his heart surgery, he decided we should move to the country and raise cattle. So we sold our business, and we moved to Odds in 1975. Well, there weren’t many people left that were here, but there are people building homes around here now. There’s more people living here than were when we moved back. But my sister and her husband had already moved back here. My mother was still living in Marlin at the time we moved back. But anyway, we thoroughly enjoyed the cattle business. My husband passed away in 1996. My children live up the road, and I’m going to stay right here at Odds just as long as I can. (laughs)

 

REAGAN: Well, is there anything else you’d like to share about Odds with us?

 

MUHLINGHAUSE: What else can we say? I’m sure I’m leaving out something I should say.

 

REAGAN: How about your experiences at school? Anything else you’d like to add about going to school?

 

MUHLINGHAUSE: Oh, we got a good education at school, but we had a lot of fun at school too. We played games at recess. And at one time, we built us some little playrooms under the school. We took some of the wood that we were supposed to heat with (laughs) and built us some little rooms underneath there so we’d have a place to play during recess when it was too cold and rainy and bad to play outside. That was a fun thing. It seemed like we always—

 

Oh, I need to tell you this, too. One April Fool, we were going to all play hooky. That was going to be—and I was pretty nervous over that because I knew I was going to be in big, bad trouble. But everybody else was doing it, and I wasn’t going to be left behind. I wasn’t going to be called chicken. (laughs) But anyway, somebody told what our plans were, so our mothers put out the word that they were going to surprise us with ice cream at school that day. Most of us didn’t go. Some of the boys went ahead and went, (laughs) but I was really glad because I knew I was going to be in big, bad trouble. But we were really a pretty good bunch of kids. We didn’t do anything really bad.

 

REAGAN: How were the grades divided?

 

MUHLINGHAUSE: Okay, we would have like three grades in one room. That was when we had the three rooms. Then it got down to where there would be several different grades in two rooms. That last couple of years that I went, we only had one room of school and one teacher, Mr. McLennan. He was an interesting character. McLennan County was named for his grandfather. We could get him to telling stories about being raised on the Bosque River. (laughs) We didn’t have much school the rest of that day. But he did a good job on teaching that many grades. He would assign some of us older kids to help the younger ones with their reading and some of their homework and stuff. That worked out okay.

 

And another thing: I sort of expected that I might be behind when I went to Marlin High School. I really wasn’t. I had a little trouble with my math, which I had never had trouble with before. But then I got into algebra and I did fine. I liked it so much, I decided on Algebra II just because I wanted to. That was a mistake. (laughs) I really had to work at that. And geometry, oh boy. I memorized through geometry, and chemistry also. I don’t know why I was taking both of those. I didn’t have to take either one of them. (laughs)

 

But I think our teachers did a great job, I really do, teaching several grades at the same time. They’d assign somebody—you know, you do your homework while they were teaching the other grades, and we had some homework to take home too. The first few years we did it by lamplight, and then after the wonders of electricity when—(laughs) because you wanted to play when you got home from school. You didn’t want to do that homework till night. That was great when we didn’t have to do the homework by an oil lamp.

 

REAGAN: Do you know when the school closed?

 

MUHLINGHAUSE: I really don’t. I have it in this history. But I don’t know (rummaging through papers)—the buses started running to Groesbeck, and I think Kosse and Thornton and probably Locust Grove all started to school in Groesbeck about the same time. But I don’t remember when it was. (turning pages)

 

REAGAN: (referring to date on piece of paper) Does that sound about right?

 

MUHLINGHAUSE: Yeah, August 10, 1949. I was in Dallas then. I got married in 1950. I’m sure Mother probably told me when it happened, but I really don’t remember much about that. (telephone rings) But it was sad for me to know that—(telephone rings)

 

pause in recording

 

After the Hancocks sold their store in Odds to Robert and Sue Sharp, they kept the store open for several years. I don’t remember how many. But after they closed up and the gin closed up, there wasn’t much left at Odds. But after that, the Alewines opened up a little store at Buffalo Mop. I had forgotten about that. My sister says at one time there was a stagecoach that stopped at Buffalo Mop, which was very, very near. In fact, it’s very near where I live now. But we don’t really have many details on that. [ed. note: Buffalo Mop is a community just to the east of Odds.]

 

There’s stories about Buffalo Mott about the buffalo hunters meeting there to hunt buffalo, and also about the cowboys carving their initials on a big tree at the McDaniel place that lived for a number of years. The tree is gone now. There was a bit of history there. Also there were many arrowheads found on the McDaniel place. I don’t remember finding any myself, but my sister does—remembers finding arrowheads there. [ed. note: Buffalo Mott (not to be confused with Buffalo Mop) was the original name of the Odds community. Residents changed the name to Odds in 1899.]

 

REAGAN: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

 

MUHLINGHAUSE: I feel sure there’s something else I should share, but right now I’m not thinking about it. I would like to check on some of the names of other families that lived here, so—shut it off a minute.

 

pause in recording

 

Some of the names that I remember that were involved in the history of Odds are Adair, Barron, Cherry, Criswell, Carter, Coleman, Durham, Downs, Erskine, Garrett, Hancock, Hale, Jones, James, LaSait/LaSaitt/LaSaint(??), McAllister, McDaniel, McClelland, McKinley, Maines, Small, Sharp, Shipp, Springfield, Webster, Alewine, Arney, Cook, Chaneyworth/Cheneyworth(??), Christian, Holden, Hammond, Leamons, Morton/Martin(??), Morgan, Mosley/Moseley(??), Pelham, Riggs, Slaughter, Simmons, Stanford, and Williams. I’m thinking there’s some other families that were here, but their names just won’t come to me right now. But some families currently living in the area are Carter, Beaman, Dennis, Downs/Downes(??), Kozak, Lehrmann, Lockwood, Muhlinghause, Nolan, O’Neal, Peterson, Suttle, Tolson, and Zeman. We’re really glad that we do have the Limestone County historical marker at the old site of the Odds gin so that it does show that there was once something there, and that many happy and successful people were actually born in Odds, Texas.

 

REAGAN: Are any of those families you mentioned, were any of them–did any of them have any particular influence on the community?

 

MUHLINGHAUSE: Oh yes. I would say that the people that were most involved that I remember—of course, there were so many Erskines. (laughs) They were very much involved. The Joneses, the Criswells, the McAllisters, the McKinleys—they would be, I would say—had more to do with actually the community, but everybody was involved in everything that went on. I don’t really know that I should single anybody out on that. But some people lived here longer than others, too. I can remember some people that would stay only a few years. They’d be tenant farmers or something like that.

 

Something I guess that we should talk about a little bit is the transition from the farming to the ranching. There’s really not any what I call row farming going on now. People raise some hay and some feed, but other than that it’s mostly ranching—mostly cattle and some horses.

 

REAGAN: So when did that change start taking place?

 

MUHLINGHAUSE: Well, it was a gradual thing, but it started during the war. Like I said, before, when I was a child, there wasn’t much—everybody had a milk cow. But so far as raising cattle per se, some of them did it on the side. My uncle Leonard had some cattle, but he farmed too. Of course, the people that had cattle tried to raise some hay and feed and stuff for the cattle that they had. It was a gradual thing that happened over a number of years.

 

REAGAN: Was it because people were leaving the community, or was there some other reason?

 

MUHLINGHAUSE: I don’t really know on that. Just the economics changed, I guess, for one thing. The good road made a change too. I can remember something that I forgot about. When my sister was going to high school in Groesbeck, when the roads got bad the buses couldn’t run. My mother would take my sister around—there wasn’t a good road even through Marlin. Somehow she had to go to Bremond to get my sister to Groesbeck, and she would stay with relatives—our Bennett relatives over there—until the buses started running again.

 

REAGAN: That was a long way.

 

MUHLINGHAUSE: That was a long way. (laughs) But anyway, you just did what you had to do in many things.

 

I should mention our going to Marlin. Some people went to Groesbeck on Saturday and spent the day, but we went to Marlin nearly every Saturday. We would spend the day and just visit around. Other people would be in town too, and you’d just visit around. And we usually had a dime to spend. We could go to the movies for a dime. One movie: the Strand. Now, if you’re going to the Palace—it was the main one—you had to have a quarter, and most of the time we didn’t have a quarter. (laughs) So that dime, we could either go to the movie, or we could spend it on ice cream or something. And Daddy would get hamburgers usually. You could get five hamburgers for a dollar. He’d buy five hamburgers and we’d each eat one, and then there’d be one left and he’d split it. He’d eat half of it and say, “Who wants this other half?” And whoever was still hungry (laughs) ate the other half of the hamburger. Or sometimes he’d get cheese and crackers and summer sausage, and we’d have that for lunch when we spent the day in town. That was some of our—and that’s when—on the way home was when we used to get stuck on that hill when it rained.

 

REAGAN: Did you also go to Marlin to get supplies or groceries?

 

MUHLINGHAUSE: Well, some of our groceries. Now, most of the time we bought our groceries—of course, we raised so much of what we ate. We had chickens and hogs too and milk cows, but we bought our meat. We didn’t raise our meat other than the pork.

Daddy would put our hams and bacon in cold storage in Marlin. Sometimes we’d pick up some of that that we had in cold storage. But after A&P and Safeway went in, well, we’d start buying some of our groceries in Marlin. It was an interesting life, and it was hard work.

 

Now, my sister and I didn’t work in the fields like most people did because my daddy had asthma, and he had to quit working the land hisself. He had sharecroppers to work the land. But one year we decided we were going to pick cotton. Mother made us some cotton sacks and Daddy was weighing cotton. He could do some of the things without having asthma, and he worked part time at the store too. But mostly he just had a big garden and took care of his chickens and pigs and stuff. Anyway, he was weighing cotton for one of the tenants that year. So my sister and I, we picked cotton that first day. Well, we didn’t do very well, so when we weighed in at the end of the day, he said, “You little girls can just stay at the house tomorrow.” (laughs) My sister did chop cotton one year.

 

She had a job chopping cotton, but I never did. Our chores were like to feed the chickens and slop the hogs and help with the canning and picking. We hated it when we had to pick up potatoes. We raised enough potatoes to last all year, and we kept them under the house. That was one of my big jobs was to go get potatoes out from under the house. You could use a hoe to get them out for a while, but then when you got down towards the end of the year, you had to crawl under the house to get the potatoes. That was the kind of chores that we had to do. We had it easier, actually, than most children being raised on the farm because we didn’t do much of the actual farmwork.

 

REAGAN: You mentioned chopping cotton. Young people may not know what that is.

 

MUHLINGHAUSE: They probably don’t.

 

REAGAN: (speaking at same time) So could you tell us?

 

MUHLINGHAUSE: The cotton had to be thinned out. You had to get rid of weeds, too. You didn’t use weed killers and stuff like that back then. Now, they did have some poison for cotton worms. Oh, that’s another thing—one of our chores—we had to pick potato bugs when the potato bugs—my daddy wouldn’t use anything on anything we were going to eat. We had to have a little can and pick potato bugs off of the potato plants. Of course, that was a temporary thing; it didn’t last long. But when they were bad, we had to really get after that. We had a big—we had two long rows of blackberries. We sold blackberries. Not everybody had blackberries. We had to work pretty hard when those blackberries needed picking, too. Actually, though, I’d say that we had an easier life than most farm children because of the fact that Daddy was involved in farming, but he didn’t actually do it. Had somebody else doing it.

 

REAGAN: Mr. Wilson, who—Logan Wilson, who’s our oral history coordinator, he has a question that he usually asks people when he interviews them. So I’m going to carry on his tradition and ask you that question, too. If you could give our young people today one piece of advice, what would that be?

 

MUHLINGHAUSE: Go to church, work hard, be honest, and just do your best and have a positive attitude. That’s what I tried to teach my children.

 

REAGAN: That sounds like good advice. Is there anything else you would like to share with us about Odds?

 

MUHLINGHAUSE: I can’t think of anything right now. It’s just, I’m glad I grew up in Odds. I wouldn’t change it for anything.

 

REAGAN: Well, we appreciate you taking the time to do this today. I know that this will benefit the future generations because it will be archived and available.

 

MUHLINGHAUSE: It’s been my pleasure.

 

REAGAN: Thank you very much.

 

MUHLINGHAUSE: You’re quite welcome.

 

end of interview

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