Interviewed by Cynthia Pollard
June 2, 2014
C. POLLARD: —Cynthia Pollard. Today is June 2, 2014, and today I’m going to interview Kenneth Pollard about his memory and his family’s memories of Delia. So, Ken, what can you tell me about your memories of Delia and your family’s memory of Delia and where you were able to pull this story together?
K. POLLARD: My memories of Delia are basically from my mother, Dorothy Nell Pollard. She was a Bailey and she grew up in the Delia/Hubbard/Mount Calm area. She was born in 1926, and her family were sharecroppers, so they moved around different farms. Most of those years she was growing up, it was in the Delia area. One of the first things I remember her talking about Delia, it had to do with Archer Crossing. The Archers were pioneers of the Delia area. They must have lived near there because she talked about walking down the country road to Archer Crossing, so I know she had a lot of fond memories during that time.
C. POLLARD: Later on, she served on this historical commission [Limestone County Historical Commission]—I believe in 1976—and she wrote the history of Delia. Is that correct?
K. POLLARD: Yeah. Of course, she loved to research history and she had a personal interest in Delia, so she did a lot of time researching, finding out about the school and the superintendents and the postmasters and the people that lived around there. She had a personal interest in doing that.
C. POLLARD: Do you remember any of those stories that stuck in your mind from listening to them growing up?
K. POLLARD: Oh, I remember she was talking about one time, I think it was around 1940, she said—that would have made her about fourteen years old—the school that she was going to was going to take a trip to the State Fair of Texas. And back then, I mean, that was a major deal, to be able to travel from Delia to Dallas. But what was interesting, she talked about the old bus that they drove. It was an old—I think it was an old Ford bus. It didn’t have windows in it, but it had an oilcloth-type thing that you roll up and down to protect the students from the elements. So you can just imagine today what that would look like: an old bus with no windows in it full of children driving to the State Fair of Texas. You can just visualize that and what that might have looked like.
C. POLLARD: Did she—she was the postmaster in Coolidge also, correct?
K. POLLARD: Yeah, she was. And I know Delia had a post office at one time. I think it may have even consolidated with Prairie Hill at some later date. But at one time they did have a post office.
C. POLLARD: Did she ever know how Delia got its—Delia was named Delia?
K. POLLARD: Yeah, this is really interesting. The postmaster at Prairie Hill at that time had a man named John Raleigh/Riley/Rawley(??), I think. He had a niece and her name was Ms. Delia Copeland, so he submitted her name as the post office. I don’t think she ever lived there, but it’s kind of interesting that Delia was named after this postmaster’s niece back in those days.
One other story that’s kind of interesting: she [his mother] had four brothers and two sisters, and they—at one time they all lived in that area, and some of them were farmers there. But she had a brother, Russell, a little bit older than her, that went off to California before World War II, and after Pearl Harbor he joined the military. They never did really move back to this area, but he visited a lot. He told, I thought, an interesting story. He and his brother Cecil, who died when he was thirteen or fourteen years old, they—it was one fall they were killing hogs at Delia, when they lived there around Delia. So this must have been the early 1930s. And, you know, after—when you kill hogs, you’ve got a lot of insides and intestines you throw out, and the buzzards come and eat it. Well, they got this bright idea—he and Cecil got this bright idea that they’d try to capture one of those buzzards, so they trapped one of those buzzards that was eating parts of that old hog. And this was, I guess, probably in October, a cool night. After they trapped it they decided they’d play a trick, so they tied a rag to the feet of the buzzard and then they soaked that rag in kerosene. They lit the kerosene and then turned the buzzard loose. The buzzard started flying across Delia, and people saw that flame following that buzzard as it flew across the sky. So I thought that was an interesting story. That would have happened back in the early 1930s.
C. POLLARD: What about you? Do you have any stories about Delia? Did Delia have a school?
K. POLLARD: Delia had a school, I think in the late forties, maybe early fifties. It was probably consolidated with Prairie Hill. But what I do remember was next to the school they had what I remember was a ball field, and it had lights on it so it must have been in the early 1950s. During the summertime, there were—you know, men in the area would meet and they would have softball games. Of course, back then they never were scheduled, so you never knew when they were going to have a game. We lived in Coolidge, which was, oh, seven or eight miles away from Delia. What I would do every night, I would—later in the evening, I’d climb up on top of our barn, and I would look towards Delia and also Mount Calm and Hubbard, because they all had ball fields. If I saw the lights on that night, I’d run [and] tell my dad because I knew he liked softball. So we would get in the car and we would drive over there. But I saw that—when I saw the lights, that’s when I knew there was going to be a game. That was kind of fun, to go do that.
C. POLLARD: Do you remember—I don’t know if they were still living there—any strong community leaders of Delia? Any characters that you might have known that were colorful and—
K. POLLARD: Of course, the one that I remember in the fifties and early sixties—and he was a character; he was called the mayor of Delia—and that was Gussie Bolen. Everybody knew him. He had a great personality; a very strong-willed person. I mean, he just—when you thought of Delia back in those days, you thought of Gussie Bolen. He had two children, Son Bolen [Kenneth Bolen] and Linda Sue Bolen, and I went to school with both of them. I know they really had fond memories of the time they grew up there.
Also, during that time, my dad was a bus driver some of those years. This had to be back in the fifties. I remember sometimes after school, I would just stay on the bus and ride the route with him, and his route took us back through Delia and the country around Delia, and I always enjoyed that. Delia was great farmland back in those days, a lot of cotton farms. And it’s kind of interesting, here in 2014, just a few days ago driving around there, we saw these beautiful fields of corn and other crops. You had to think back because, boy, that was good farmland, and that’s the reason those people lived there, those sharecroppers and ranchers. It was because of that good land around there, and it’s still good fertile land today.
C. POLLARD: Well, I appreciate you taking the time and remembering the days growing up and living near Delia and those people that made an impact. Thank you very much. We have one more story?
K. POLLARD: Yeah, I just thought of something else. One of my best friends growing up was a guy named Monty Huffington. The Huffingtons moved there in the late 1950s— I think they came from the Houston area—and they had a large ranch there. I spent many, many days there with them. I’d spend the night with him. They had a neighbor named—I believe his name was Mr. Shilling, who was really a character that they were good friends of. I just remember—he would have been another one of those characters in Delia back during the fifties and maybe the early sixties. One little story about the Huffingtons, they came from the Houston area, and a lot of times I would eat Sunday dinner with them. You know, at our house, it was meat and potatoes. At their house, they ate rice and not potatoes. That was the first time in my life I ate rice with gravy on it. So I learned something back in those days, that there’s something besides just potatoes.
C. POLLARD: Well, thank you so much for your time and adding to the history of Delia and for our grant, Footprints of Times Past.
end of interview