Interviewed by Logan Wilson
March 28, 2013
Also Present: Emily Carlene Kerzee Holt
WILSON: My name is Logan Wilson. Today is the twenty-eighth of March, 2013. I’m interviewing some good folks—Emily Carlene Kerzee [Holt],—
WILSON: —Flodell Kerzee Gunn, and Rollin Kerzee—today in Mrs. Flodell’s home in Mexia, Texas. This interview is sponsored by the Limestone County Historical Commission and is part of the Footprints of Times Past project. I thank all three of you for contributing to this project. We can start at any time. I’m going to put the recorder right there amongst us, and y’all just fire away.
GUNN: I am Flodell Kerzee Gunn. I was borned in 1921 in Point Enterprise [Texas]. I am one of nine children born to Will and Lucy Kate Kerzee. As I said, we were—our house was about a mile south of the center of Point Enterprise. And in Point Enterprise community we had two grocery stores, a church, an auditorium, and in 1946 we had a club building built. Also, the cemetery is in that location. When I went to school at Point Enterprise there was a three-room school, three rooms. But first, I’ll tell you that my mother, before she married, was a schoolteacher. She said she taught the primary grades, and there was only two rooms then. And after she met my father and married, then she quit teaching. [Of] course, there were nine children, and we all attended the school there at Point Enterprise—the grade schools. Had to go into Mexia to the high school.
The community had a lot of activity centered around the auditorium at the school. At the end of the school year we had school plays, and everybody in the community would come. This building, this community building, was built in 1924, and the communities would have singings, and people from other communities would come into Point Enterprise to the singings there at Point Enterprise at the auditorium.
[Gunn addition: I mentioned that the schoolhouse was three rooms. At that time there was no electricity, water, or indoor plumbing. Each room had a big wood-burning stove, and the older schoolboys had to bring in the wood and clean out the ashes. That was the way the room was heated. There was a water well on the school ground and, again, the older boys had to draw up water for the school. We had outhouses that was a good distance from the schoolhouse—one for the girls, one for the boys. And in the winter when we had to go use the outhouse, you didn’t tarry, for it was cold. As I said, we had no indoor plumbing.]
When I went to school, we first had to walk to school, which was about a mile from our house. Later, we had bus service, but we still had to walk a little ways to catch the bus. The bus made a loop, and those that lived pretty well far from the bus stop had to walk a good distance to catch that bus.
The main things that the people did in Point Enterprise for living was farming, raised cotton, corn, and, of course, had their big gardens. And when we were growing up, we had to work in the fields. We had to get out and hoe cotton and we had to pick cotton, and we had to gather the corn. Just really had to work on the farm and help our parents, but we had a lot of fun doing that. The whole community, all the kids in the community, had to work in the farms—on the farm, and not only on our farm, but we had to go to other farms and pick cotton. Of course, we got paid a little bit for picking what cotton we picked. I wasn’t a good cotton picker, but some of the others were.
Eventually, the school had—they had three rooms, and then they built the fourth room, which we had a music room, and that was a big addition to the community because we had a lady that taught music, and she helped put on the plays, and she was just a real addition to the community.
Something we had to do in keeping up the cemetery when we were young, everybody went to the cemetery and they took care of their own lots. They had to hoe them, [clean] off the lots—and this usually happened in the spring of the year. Every family came to the cemetery, and they cleaned off their lots. Then at noontime the women had all prepared a meal, and they spread the meal out under trees. And in the afternoon, then they went into the old church and would sing the rest of the evening. So that was one big event for Point Enterprise.
WILSON: Mrs. Gunn, what was considered a good cotton-picking for a day? How many pounds was considered [a] decent day’s work?
GUNN: (laughs) With me, I did good if I picked a hundred pounds.
WILSON: A hundred pounds.
GUNN: Sometimes, not much. Oh, I don’t know. Two hundred? Some of them could pick two hundred pounds; some of the faster pickers could pick two hundred pounds.
WILSON: Two hundred pounds in a day.
GUNN: Yeah. But they had to really—you had to get up early and get with it.
WILSON: Well, does that mean at the end of the day they’re dragging a sack that weighs two hundred pounds?
GUNN: No, no, no. They—when you got your sack full—and you had a long cotton sack to pull down those rows—and you got your sack filled, you went to a wagon where they had scales. They weighed your cotton, your sack of cotton, and they kept a record of it, and they dumped that into a wagon. Then you went back and you picked more. And at the end of the day you may have a total of a hundred pounds.
WILSON: I see.
GUNN: But I don’t think I really picked a hundred pounds of cotton a day. (laughs)
WILSON: Well, that was something. Tell us about—you mentioned before that your mother was a schoolteacher there.
GUNN: Yes, yes. And she did not have to go to college like they do now. She went to a business—kind of like a business school, and then she went to Groesbeck, the county seat, and went before a judge. She went to Mexia High School.
HOLT: (whispers) Tehuacana.
GUNN: Tehuacana. She went to Tehuacana to a college there.
WILSON: Is that Westminster [College]?
GUNN: Westminster. (sound of ice clinking in drinking glass) But she went to Groesbeck to get her certificate, and then they sent those papers to Austin to be graded, and then they sent them back to her. That was in 1907, I believe—1906, 1907.
WILSON: But it didn’t—in those days it didn’t require teachers going to a college to—
GUNN: No, you just had to have a certificate approved by a county judge and then sent to Austin for approval.
WILSON: Okay. And she met your dad there, while she was at—
GUNN: She met my dad. My father was living in Point Enterprise community, and she met him there. When she and her mother and stepfather moved into Point Enterprise she met my father.
WILSON: (laughs) I have heard that there was a church there at Point Enterprise that was shared by more than one denomination.
WILSON: Who started it, and which denominations worked there—or held services there?
GUNN: There has been a lot of debate about who started that church, but as long as we went to church there, there was two denominations: the Primitive Baptist Church and the First Missionary Baptist Church. And later, the Missionary Baptist Church changed their name to the First Baptist Church. But they shared the church. The Primitive Baptists had their meetings the first Saturday and Sunday of—the first Sunday and Saturday before every month, and then the Missionary Baptists had it the rest of the month.
WILSON: I suppose they shared in the maintenance of the building and everything.
GUNN: Well, yes, because (laughs) there wasn’t much maintenance. [It was] really just one big building. The church is just one big building and is still standing today, which would make it way over a hundred years old.
WILSON: My goodness.
GUNN: (looking through notes) I think that church was organized in 1887—it was organized in 1888.
WILSON: Are there—is there still services held at that church?
GUNN: No, there’s no service now. They do use the church occasionally. They have weddings there. Sometimes they have someone that had lived in the community that moved away and then have been brought back to Point Enterprise for burial. They will have visitation in the old church. But as far as the two denominations—somebody said there was four denominations, but I don’t remember that. I only remember two.
WILSON: Yeah. That’s pretty neat.
GUNN: Now, the two stores that were there, one store had a blacksmith shop behind it. The other store was down closer to the center of Point Enterprise.
WILSON: You probably grew most of what you ate, did you not?
GUNN: Everything. Everything. When Daddy took a bale of cotton to town he brought back a loaf of bread, (laughs) store-bought bread!
WILSON: Oh boy!
GUNN: (laughs) No, we grew all of our vegetables, and Mama—and we canned everything.
WILSON: Now, that’s with a pressure cooker.
GUNN: Well, at first it wasn’t. It was what they call a hot bath. And then the pressure cooker came later. And—
WILSON: Could you preserve most everything by pressure cooking or the other method?
GUNN: Yes, just about everything. We had one cooker and it was passed around in the community.
WILSON: You know, I’ve heard that before—not about Point Enterprise, but about other small communities—that the people would get together and they’d buy a community cooker, and then they’d just pass it around, or everybody’d bring their produce to the house where the cooker was. I’ve heard that before. And that’s what y’all did, huh?
GUNN: (speaking at same time) Yeah, we passed—yeah, passed the cooker around. But I’ll tell you about when they started putting the corn up in cans. They had a home demonstration club at Point Enterprise, and they brought in a canner for people to use to can their corn in cans. And you had to get those cans cooked and cooled and everything just right. If you didn’t, they would explode. They would not keep.
WILSON: Now, that’s not glass jars.
GUNN: No, no.
WILSON: That’s metal cans.
GUNN: That’s canned. Before then everything was put up in glass jars.
WILSON: Do you think—
GUNN: But this was the cans like you get in the store now.
WILSON: And y’all did that.
GUNN: They did that, yes.
WILSON: You think if you had the equipment you could still remember how to do that?
GUNN: I’ve canned—oh, I’ve canned, yes, since the pressure cooker—
WILSON: You could still do it today.
GUNN: Oh sure.
WILSON: If you had the equipment.
GUNN: Yeah. All it got to do is have the pressure cooker do your can—your jars. I’ve still done that. (Wilson laughs) But there was a lot of people lost their corn because they didn’t seal their cans right when they brought the—
WILSON: That’d spoil the corn—
GUNN: And spoil the corn.
WILSON: —and blow the can up, too.
GUNN: Yeah, yeah. Sure did.
WILSON: Well, Rollin, how many pounds of cotton could you pick?
KERZEE: Well, I worked a little harder than Flodell did. (Gunn laughs)
WILSON: Oh, you did, did you?
KERZEE: Yeah, and I could pick about three hundred pounds a day.
WILSON: Oh my goodness.
KERZEE: But the real good pickers that we had, they could pick a little more than that, four or five hundred. But that was really—as Flodell said, they’d have to get in the cotton patch before daylight and be there till dark to do it. And people worked that way. That’s what they did, daylight to dark, because they just had—you know, they couldn’t take the chance. If we’d have a big rain when the cotton was out and the bolls were open, it’d destroy a lot of the cotton.
WILSON: So it had to be done right away.
KERZEE: Yeah. In season, it was just right. You know, and since I’m on here—and Flodell’s done a great job—but I’d like to cover a few more things. My maternal grandfather, F. B. Bond, he came to—the best I can tell, and I don’t know exactly, but somewhere in the 1880s he came to Point Enterprise. He was quite the entrepreneur, and he bought a lot of land for as little as fifty cents an acre. He owned a lot of land. And he—as I say, he was an entrepreneur, and he even had a canning factory and all that. He, with the help of two more gentlemen that didn’t live directly in the community, started the first peach orchards in Point Enterprise, which they’re well noted for. I’ve seen him be able to raise peaches on one side of a tree and plums on the other.
WILSON: On the same tree.
KERZEE: That’s how good they were. But the marketing was so different in those days. Now, how he marketed, he had a—what we called peach house, there right at his home. And he’d have bushels and pecks of peaches throughout there, and people would come out from town and buy the peaches. And, relatively speaking, his peach orchards were small, then, compared to what they are today because there’s so much handwork to it, you know. You was limited as to what you could do. But, like I say, he came, I think, somewhere in the 1880s. It seems to be along that time.(??) And Flodell talked about the churches. Now, he and my grandfather, Richard Kerzee, and Flodell, her father, they were on school boards and all; they were the community leaders. They were—at one time, their father—Flodell’s father and my grandfather were brothers—and they were both on the school board at one time.
A lot of things had happened, and the transportation is one thing. Flodell mentioned a little bit of that. But our roads were so poor and some of them was sand, but there was mud holes in those roads. We get a big rain—and there wasn’t many automobiles, but those automobiles that were seldom couldn’t pull their self through the mud holes. So the nearest farmer around there would take a team of horses and go down, hook on them cars, and pull them on out of the mud holes so they could get to town (Wilson laughs) or wherever they were going, you know, and that was pretty normal. And what had happened, maybe a couple times a year the county would come out and grade those roads because they’d be rutted with big deep ruts in them in those mud holes and places like that, but that was one of the things that happened.
But those little stores that Flodell mentioned, we had two little stores and that blacksmith shop—but they were real busy. One of the stores had a gasoline pump for the early-on cars, and it was gravity. This old gasoline pump sat there, and it had a—I guess it was a glass cylinder up above, and your gallons was measured as you looked up like this. And so if you was buying gasoline, if you wanted five gallons, you went over there with an old reciprocating pump like this, and you pumped up five gallons into that—
WILSON: You could actually see it.
KERZEE: Oh, you could see the gasoline. (Wilson laughs) You could—pumped it right into that cylinder, and then gravity right down—because it was high; there wasn’t any pumps on it or anything. It just grabbed it down into your car then, see, when you opened the nozzle and had it in the tank and so on. I suppose probably fifteen cents a gallon may be as much as you paid, maybe if that much. But one of those stores had that.
And that little—one store was closest to the school, and we wasn’t that wealthy. Very seldom—you know, my grandmother, I remember staying with my grandmother, spend the night with her, and she’d give me—she called them coppers. Said, “Here, honey, here’s some coppers.” That’s pennies that they called them then: coppers. And I could buy penny candy in that store. For two or three cents, I could go over there and buy me a handful of candy, you know what I mean? But they was a very important thing. And most of the little old stores like that, they run—everybody had a—they had a little book on everybody. They went up there, and they had just the essentials in those stores. If you needed something like that—(cell phone rings) cornmeal or whatever—you could go up there and buy it and they’d put it on the charge, and Dad’d pay when he sold the crop. (laughs) That’s about the way it worked.
But it was a very active little community, as Flodell mentioned. We had a lot of activities during the year, you know. When we get back to the church thing, now, they were more in the Primitive Baptist church, and my family was more into the—we called it Missionary Baptist. Every summer we had a big revival, and sometimes it’d be in the church, but once in a while the men in the community would build an old arbor outside, about where our clubhouse sits now, and we’d have benches and all that out there, and it’d be a lot of hell and brimstone preached to us. As kids in those days, we needed it, too. (all laugh) We were young kids.
WILSON: Yeah, they need it today.
KERZEE: But that’d go on for a week or two, some of those revivals like that did. And, you know, there wasn’t any televisions or anything like that to sit down and look at. (laughs) You had—you create your own entertainment, plus going to church and all. So church was a pretty big time for us, really.
But it was a very industrious community. I can remember the men in the community made most things happen. I remember when they first brought electric power in. It wasn’t a big power company truck with a hydraulic boom; the local men would raise those power line poles and put them in and all that. Of course, the power didn’t extend to everybody; a lot of us was way late, in the late forties, maybe, before we got power, but some people back in the thirties had power, I know.
Everybody had a telephone. That was pretty good, too. We had a telephone, and you could always listen in on anybody else’s conversation because our phone might be one short and two longs, you know, and there’d be as many as seven people on that line, so you could listen in—if Flodell was calling her boyfriend, well, I could pick up the phone—when he called her, I could pick up the phone and listen to the conversation.
WILSON: You think he did that?
GUNN: Why, sure. You couldn’t put nothing past Rollin. (laughter)
KERZEE: But it was a very close-knit little community, really. And the other thing I’d like to say: the best that I can figure out, we mostly settled this country in the late—this community in the late 1870s and eighties. That seems to be where a lot of things started, more maybe in the eighties. And so, at one time, there was—land was owned after the Texas Revolution, big chunks of land. Well, it was broken up into smaller farms and all that by the time we come into being.
But we mentioned the cemetery. I think it’s important—I was doing some research on that recently, you know, and we thought that this individual or that individual donated land to the cemetery as the community grew. No, the donation of the land to the cemetery was by the school. The school had quite a bit on the north side of the cemetery. The school was on the south side of the cemetery, but they owned the land on the north side of the cemetery, too, (laughs) and so part of that extension was the school. And what happened then, you had the same people that was on the school board was also on the cemetery board, (laughs) so they was—they knew how to manage that thing, see.
GUNN: I’ll tell something that Rollin was talking about, the Missionary Baptist Church having the revival. The Primitive Baptists had—and Rollin’s paternal—Mr. and Mrs. Bond belonged to the Primitive Baptists.
KERZEE: That’s exactly right.
GUNN: So he had people—
KERZEE: On both sides.
GUNN: —that belonged to both the churches. (laughs)
KERZEE: (laughs) That’s right.
GUNN: But anyhow, the Primitive Baptists had—in July they had what they called the three-day meeting. That was when they would meet three days, and people from all different communities would attend. And then in August they had what they called the association. It did not always happen at Point Enterprise; it would happen at another community, but it was still a big thing when it came to Point Enterprise. And not just the members of the Primitive Baptist church attended that; anybody in the community came. They had three days of preaching: morning, noon, and night. They had their meals there on the ground, and people from all over the community donated food, not just the Primitive Baptist people, but all of the people in the community donated food. I think that’s one thing that made the community what it is—or what it was—that everybody participated in anything that happened there in the—around the church and the school.
WILSON: That’s a good relationship. You mentioned—Rollin, you mentioned the—a cannery. How did that work? Did people bring produce in and he canned it and sold it and paid them for it, or did he can for people?
KERZEE: No, the produce he was canning was mostly fruits he raised himself, see. He raised it, canned it, and then he sold it, you know, that way. And that wasn’t a big thing, but that—he did that. He was pretty industrious of doing all those things. He was sometimes teacher, sometimes preacher. He was just really community oriented, like Flodell mentioned with her family the same way. And that’s the way—most people were that way. So whatever needed to be done he made sure he could get it done.
But some of the important things—she mentioned the cemetery. I can remember in that cemetery, in the early 1940s, I believe it was, yeah, we used to—instead of having grass in the cemetery, we kept it hoed clean. There wasn’t any grass and all in the cemetery. So as a thirteen-year-old kid, I hoed the cemetery for ten cents an hour. We thought we was doing great. I’d treat myself one time during the day. I could buy a bottle of pop for a nickel. (Gunn laughs) You think about that today; it took me a half hour to make enough money to buy (laughs) a bottle of pop. But that’s what we did in those days, you know, back in that.
GUNN: This is Flodell again, and Rollin made me think of something when he talked about his grandfather having the peach orchard. Our old homeplace, which I said was about a mile south of the center of Point Enterprise, there was a family that lived next to us named Lightsey, Erie Lightsey, and now they have a big peach orchard. Our farm joined their farm when we were growing up, and now they—the son bought our old homeplace, and our old homeplace is now part of the famous Lightsey peach orchard [Lightsey Farm] in Point Enterprise. So we knew the Lightsey [family]. We grew up with the Lightseys. But our old farmplace is now part of the Lightsey peach orchard.
WILSON: That would be on the north side of 1365 [Farm-to-Market Road 1365]?
GUNN: Yes, uh-huh. Um-hm.
WILSON: All right.
KERZEE: This is Rollin again. I’d like to interject something else, too, and Flodell and Carlene might be able to back me up in this. You know, the one store we had, that owner of that store, he also had a big stallion and a jack [male donkey] because you didn’t have tractors them days. You raised your own farm animals. And mules were pretty big in demand to work farms with, so that’s why he had the jack. So they’d raise—farmers would raise their own mules to work their farms with. Well, when we were kids in school they’d ring the bell for recess or for lunch. But that old jack, every day at twelve noon, straight up, would start braying. He was just a little piece from the schoolhouse. And us kids in school would jump up. Hey, we knew it was lunchtime then (laughter) because the old donkey started braying. But that’s just one little thing about country kids. But there were so many things.
In our school, too, this little community, we really had some good sports teams out of our (sound of ice clinking in drinking glass)—and we went and played people—we played together so many years, when we got on up in adulthood we won the championships because we’d played together all our lives and we knew each other. And Carlene’s brother-in-law, Edward, he was one of the best pitchers we ever had. He was great for softball. Was a great pitcher for us, you know. But all those—that whole team was made up of boys and men in this community, and they could beat just about anybody. (laughs)
GUNN: This is Flodell again, and this is a letter that my mother—not a letter, but some facts about Point Enterprise that my mother wrote and gave to my sister, Carlene. And this is something—when Rollin brought up about the baseball team—okay, in 1953–54, Point Enterprise was selected as one of the most outstanding communities in Texas, having won over $1,000 in award[s] for its accomplishments. (looking through notes) That’s all she wrote about that. But they did have what they call the 4-H Club that the women—no, it wasn’t the 4-H Club. What was that?
KERZEE: There was a—this is Rollin again—a women’s organization. They got together, and Flodell mentioned earlier, these big pressure cookers and all they used for canning, they—jointly they had an organization, and I can’t remember exactly what that was, but that’s how they managed moving that all around the community on a need basis.
GUNN: That was called home demonstration.
KERZEE: There you go.
GUNN: Home demonstration. And that was the women in the community that did canning and all of that.
WILSON: Well, apparently—or obviously, all this produce would come in at about the same time, so that canner was busy, wasn’t it?
KERZEE: Very busy. Rollin again. Flodell mentioned earlier about the canning, when you knew they was—you know, if you didn’t do it right they was going to spoil. We didn’t have the big homes with a lot of storage and all that, so mostly we had—they would can—and when they used the tin cans—and pack them in cases and slide them under the beds. And if you had a can under there that was spoiling during the night, it’d go “Ping!” (laughter) So we knew—you know, if you look under there—in fact—and the ladies can tell you here—if that can was swelled up on top, it was no good; you had to get rid of it, see. But that’s what you heard during the night, that process (laughs)—
GUNN: Well, and—this is Flodell again—the way that they preserved the meat back then was in the smokehouse. They had a little house—or we did. We had a little house, and after the hog was cured—well, after it was killed, they took the hams and that they smoked, the bacon they smoked, and then they took most of the rest of the meat and made—or Daddy did—made sausage. Then he would take—in the smokehouse, had to cure these sausage[s] and the hams and the bacon. He had a barrel that he put in this house, and then he built a fire, and he needed a fire that just smoked. He used hickory nuts, just hickory nuts, that would cause just to smoke. He’d smoke the meat for a long time, and then when you wanted ham or bacon, you went out to the smokehouse and got your ham and bacon.
WILSON: And it kept?
GUNN: And you hoped that lasted a long time, (laughs) but with nine children at home it didn’t last very long.
WILSON: This is Logan again. Was it totally smoke, or was there some chemicals involved? Salt or sugar or anything like that?
GUNN: Daddy made a rub. (coughs) And Daddy didn’t—he really didn’t tell just what he put in that rub, but there was something called saltpeter and sugar and I don’t remember what else. But he made his rub, and then he rubbed the meat with that, but not the sausage. That sausage had—Mama took the entrails of the hogs and cleaned them real good, and then that’s what the—after the sausage were seasoned, then the meat was put through a grinder and it went into this casing. They called it a casing, the intestines of the hog, and that was the casing. That’s where the meat went in—the sausage meat went into that casing, and then that was hung up in the smokehouse to cure.
KERZEE: Rollin again on this—expanding a little bit on what Flodell’s talking about— we didn’t eat a lot of meat—
KERZEE: —then compared to now because of lack of refrigeration. We would go maybe all week in the summertime and the only option we had was chicken. Then we had yard chickens. They advertise now free-range chickens; our chickens were always free range. (Gunn laughs) And we’d go out there. Mom would tell us to go out there and get a chicken, and we had to go out there and hook the chicken by the leg, and we’d have chicken for lunch or dinner, whichever. But we didn’t eat a lot of meat. But what happened, we had great gardens and canned things and all that. They might put for our dinner four or five vegetables on the plate. You know, that you’re supposed to eat today, we were eating like that then. (laughs) We didn’t eat as much meat as we do today. Dad’d go to town on Saturday and he’d get some round steak. Man, that was—you was living high (laughs) when Dad would come home with some round steak. But because of lack of refrigeration.
I think—and Flodell might want to expand on this a little bit. One way they did for cooling, like for milk, they had an evaporator-type thing. It was a metal set of shelving that would hold water, maybe an inch deep. The shelves would be built like that, three or four levels high. They would hang like dishtowels or muslin sheets over them like that, and water would drip down through them, and the condensation caused the milk to be a little cooler and it didn’t spoil. And we drank whole milk in those days, too, you know. Nobody would drink any whole milk now, but that’s all we knew.
GUNN: Churned your butter.
KERZEE: Yeah, we made our own butter and had real buttermilk, you know, and all those kind of—and a lot of the families, they had little markets in town. They’d sell a few pounds of butter on the weekend to help buy the groceries and things like that. They had to do those kind of things then.
WILSON: Mrs. Gunn, could you make butter today?
GUNN: Yes, sure. See that churn sitting over there?
WILSON: Yes, ma’am. (Kerzee laughs)
GUNN: I churned—not in that one, (laughs) but I churned a lot.
KERZEE: She’d know how to do it.
GUNN: A lot of—yeah. You take your cream—let the cream rise on the sweet milk. Mama had a crock about so big around, pour the milk in that, and then the cream would rise to the top. If you had a good cow that produced the good cream, you’d have cream about inch and a half thick over the top of that crock. You skim that off, then you churn that, put it in a churn, and you had a dasher, and you sit there and you churn and you churn and you churn and you churn, till that milk turned—that turned to butter. Then you got the butter off of the milk and you worked it down, got all of the milk, excess milk, out of that butter, and you salted it. And then you had butter molds about so—it’s about—
KERZEE: One pound.(??)
GUNN: —about four inches long, two inches wide—and that was your butter, and then the milk in the churn was your buttermilk.
WILSON: I’m confused. The milk that was left is what you’d call buttermilk?
GUNN: After you churned it, yes.
WILSON: After you churned it.
GUNN: Uh-huh, and got all of that butter.
KERZEE: This is Rollin. You know, there’d be little specks of butter in that buttermilk. That’s how it got the name buttermilk. The buttermilk you see today is cultured buttermilk made chemically, see, and we had real buttermilk. I had a—there was one farm and I used to work for those people on the farm. There was a man and his wife and her sister and her brother. They all lived there and worked the farm. They had their own separate operations. But they always drank buttermilk. They always told me—I was a little kid helping them on the farm, and they’d tell me if you’ll drink buttermilk, you’ll live a long time. So you can tell we probably drank some buttermilk in our days. (laughs)
WILSON: It worked, didn’t it?
GUNN: This is Flodell again. Rollin talking about us eating the way that we did—and like I said, I am one of nine children. I had two brothers and a sister that died at eighty- six. I have one sister that died at ninety-five years of age. One sister lacked three months being a hundred when she died, which was just in 2012. And then my sister Carlene is ninety-seven, will be ninety-eight in December.
GUNN: Now (laughs)—and I’m—
WILSON: So maybe there’s something to the buttermilk.
GUNN: Buttermilk and—yeah—working on the farm, working, and eating. As Rollin said, we ate vegetables all our life, and nobody told us that we was supposed to count the calories. (Kerzee laughs)
WILSON: You didn’t know what a calorie was.
GUNN: They didn’t even know what a calorie was. (laughs)
KERZEE: This is Rollin again. I’d like to intervene just a minute. Carlene’s sitting here with us, and she’s probably our number-one historian in the community. And as she’s listening to Flodell and me talk here about things I see a smile on her face because she remembers a lot of the things we’re saying. She lived through it. Carlene, you got anything you’d like to add right now?
KERZEE: You don’t want to add anything? Okay, I just wanted to ask that because what I do—she’s my historian. When I’m trying to think of something and I can’t remember it, I go to Carlene, (laughs) and she tells me exactly how it was in those days, just exactly.
WILSON: This is Logan again. Mrs. Gunn mentioned to us about how butter is made, and, Rollin, you mentioned to us an evaporative cooler. Was it the evaporative cooler that kept the butter fresh after it was made?
KERZEE: They kept butter and milk both in that.
WILSON: Okay. And that worked in the summertime?
KERZEE: Um-hm. The cool—the breeze—it cools the breeze.
KERZEE: You know. In other words, it’s not going to be like your GE [General Electric] refrigerator because it might be ninety-five degrees, weather-wise, but you’ve got this sitting in the shade, and with the evaporation of the water down through the cloth—and so that’s in an envelope of cloth with wet like that. That condensation creates—it might be fifteen degrees cooler than the mean temperature is, see.
GUNN: This is—we’ve kind of gotten away from the history of Point Enterprise. But when anything happened—talking about raising food—when anything happened in the community and a family—maybe something happened to their farm or something and they didn’t make much, the rest of the farmers and all would go in and try to help them and take them—if they had excess food or anything they would take it to the people that—maybe they’re—sickness or illness or something in the family that they couldn’t work the crops or something, and they helped.
WILSON: This is Logan. That’s admirable. As I think about it, a lot of things that happened in Point Enterprise would be considered admirable today. It’s too bad that some of those values are lost. When the [Great] Depression happened, it appears to me that y’all pretty much lived off the land. Possibly you weren’t hurt as bad during the Depression as the people that lived in the cities.
KERZEE: That’s right.
WILSON: Y’all just went right ahead.
KERZEE: This is Rollin again. Since you mentioned that, Logan, we thought that’s the way the world was. We lived through the Depression, you know, and we didn’t see anything different because we’d always lived that way. We wasn’t dependent upon city things. We raised our own food and all those things like that. And what Flodell just mentioned here, I think, is an important thing about the humanity in this community. We didn’t have—back in those days people didn’t go to hospitals as their life was waning and they were living in—the neighbors went and sat up with them at night in their home. I’ve seen my father go and sit up with a neighbor all night that was in dire health and come home and work all day, and that was pretty well the way the community was. They sort of looked after each other.
And, you know, the other thing that you never see today, when people passed away they took them to their home. The casket was right in the—usually in the living room at home with—all the neighbors would come, and somebody would sit up with the body all night and all that, and maybe they’d have the funeral next day or two. But that’s the way it was. We didn’t—it was almost unheard of in those days for us to have a service in a funeral home. We had it in our own local church and kept the body at home.
GUNN: Well, it seems like Rollin or I are doing all this talking, but when he talked about the people sitting up and all: when someone passed away in the community, when they got ready to bury them, the men in the community went to the cemetery and they dug the grave themselves—the community. The men in the community went to the cemetery and dug the graves. And then, after the service, they filled the grave back up.
WILSON: I’ll be. As we come near to concluding this, there’s something I have always asked people, and I’m going to ask y’all—each one of you give me your answer—and that is, if you could tell the young people today one thing, what would it be?
GUNN: (laughs) I don’t know that—
KERZEE: Okay, this is Rollin. One thing you need to be is self-reliant, be able to do a lot of different things. And the other thing is your association with your neighbors. You know, you see today, sometime[s] people will live here and somebody next door, and they don’t even know each other. In this community, and I’m sure all communities like this, you knew everybody in the community, and when there was some help needed here or there the help would be available. The men and the women of the community would get together whatever help needed to be. It was a real neighborly type existence that we lived, compared to today the way it is.
GUNN: This is Flodell, and I think I would tell the young people is to get out and work and not rely on somebody else furnishing them a living. They’ve got to make the living themselves, and they have to give a lot, as well as receive. You’ve got to give as much as you receive, and get out and work and not wait for somebody to do something for you.
And you don’t have to have a car when you’re sixteen. (laughs)
WILSON: When did you get your first car?
GUNN: Oh Lord, my husband and I were married, I think, two years before we got a car, (laughs) and we paid—we went to work in Dallas, and we saved $500 and bought a secondhand coupe. Boy, listen, that—we were (laughter)—
WILSON: When did—now that we’re on it, when did you get your first car, Rollin?
KERZEE: Well—this is Rollin again—I probably owned my first car—I would probably have been about twenty, I imagine—you know, twenty-one maybe, before. And as Flodell said, you didn’t go downtown and buy a new one. (Gunn laughs) You had to buy one that’s several years old and know how to—it was pretty simple repairing them in those days. Everybody just sort of had to know a little bit about doing it.
GUNN: This is Flodell. In fact, when we were growing up we went in a wagon to church; we went in a wagon to town; we went in a wagon to the neighbors. That was our transportation back then because our father didn’t have a car. There was a few in the community, but we didn’t have one, and we went in a wagon.
KERZEE: Yeah, I’d like to expand on what Flodell just said. This is Rollin again. And one thing—if we could replay that today, which is impossible—we’d have a big memorial in Point Enterprise every year on Memorial Day. And if you could’ve seen now—and you’ve been over to our clubhouse and where the old church is—and what happened then, on that Memorial Day, there would’ve probably been countless numbers of wagons and teams and two or three buggies, maybe, pulled up over there. The women in this community could cook the best food you ever ate, and it lasted all day long, a nice memorial service on that. Everybody in the community came and everybody contributed. They had to come and they’d tie them mules up to them wagons, you know; get them ready to go when they went home.
GUNN: Logan, this is something that the young people did back in that day and time, is they would go to different farmers’ pastures and play baseball. And in our pasture they would come play usually on Sunday evening, and my—our father was one of the referees, you know, and they would be, oh, a slew of people, young people, coming to our pasture on Sunday evening to play baseball. Maybe, I don’t know, forty [or] fifty kids.
WILSON: This is Logan again. It sounds like at Point Enterprise you worked hard and you played hard.
KERZEE: Yes, we did that.
GUNN: And walked! Oh, Rollin was [a] little old bitty thing, and he’d walk to our house, (laughter) and we lived miles apart, didn’t we, Rollin?
KERZEE: Yes, we did. Yes, we did.
WILSON: I want to thank you. This has been great. It has. It’s going to be appreciated way beyond this point in time. There’ll be people that haven’t even been born yet that will be amazed at what was said today, and I thank you, all three of you. I thank you very much for contributing to this. Any last words?
KERZEE: No, I just—(laughter). Logan, I just want to thank you that—we have—like Carlene sitting here with us now, and we have some people with great memories that can sort of keep that history alive. So I appreciate you guys so that recording is there with the knowledge that we have that—as old people go on, you always lose some of that knowledge, you know, and so now you’ve got it on that recording. I hope it works.
GUNN: Well, and this is Flodell again. The people that are moving into the Point Enterprise community now do not have the interest in keeping up the community that the older people did, and that’s really a shame because they’re kind of junking up Point Enterprise, and Point Enterprise was never that junky when we were growing up. The fencerows were clean, the roads were clean, and now they seem to think that they can move out in the country and they’re going to junk it up. That’s what they’re doing with Point Enterprise.
WILSON: That’s a shame. Again, we thank you very much. We appreciate this. End of tape.
end of interview