Interviewed by Cynthia Pollard
October 27, 2013
Also present — Bennie Kirven: Pete Kirven’s wife and Kenneth Pollard: Cynthia Pollard’s husband
[ed. note: A cat meows occasionally in the background.]
C. POLLARD: Today is Sunday, October 27, 2013. My name is Cynthia Pollard, and I am interviewing Pete Kirven today, a resident of the Sandy community, to tell us his story of the Sandy community. Pete, can you tell me about your earliest memories of the Sandy community?
P. KIRVEN: As far as I can go—the earliest years that I can remember about Sandy, I believe I was somewhere around four or five years old. My most memorable moments is that I cherished my grandma Dru [Drucilla Adkinson Kirven] and my grandfather James Kirven. [P. Kirven note: They were known to me as Mama and Papa.]
C. POLLARD: Can you tell me about them?
P. KIRVEN: They were among the earliest settlers of the Sandy community, and they grew up and around the Askew—Clark Askew estate. As early as I can remember, they moved there and later moved to our present homestead, which is down on the Navasota River, and that was back during the Depression. I can remember my mom and dad [Moses Kirven and Vicy Beachum Kirven], they would leave home to go off and work, and I lived with my grandmom. I lived with my grandmom so long that Grandmama became my mother. I couldn’t identify with my mother. From there, at age six, when I was eligible(??) for school, my mom came to get me, and she literally had to beat me to get me away from Mama [his grandmother] to send me to school.
There was a controversy there whether I would go to Oak Hill school [or] I would go to Mustang school because there was a battle between two schoolteachers, Beatrice Cotton and Oletha Cotton Foster. Oletha wanted me to go to Mustang; Beatrice wanted me to go to Oak Hill, where she taught. I got confused and didn’t know what I wanted. So I went to Mustang one day, and that was way back up here in the Prairie Hill/Delia area. I was so lost and misplaced there that I thought, Hm, I don’t think I’m going to like this. But being a favorite of two people that you admired, I didn’t want to say yes and I didn’t want to say no. So the next day Beatrice, who was a science teacher—and I think she had the greatest influence—convinced me to go to Oak Hill. When I went to Oak Hill there were many students in the community that I knew and grew up with, so I just stuck with Oak Hill school.
C. POLLARD: So how did you get there?
P. KIRVEN: When I didn’t walk, I rode with the schoolteacher because she lived right next door to me, so I rode with the teacher to school. When I didn’t ride with her, we walked. It was all walking, walking. Rain or shine, sleet or snow, we walked.
C. POLLARD: So how far was that?
P. KIRVEN: Roughly a mile. Little over a mile; mile and a half. It wasn’t very far. The school was located where the present church is now, Sandy Church, where the cemetery is there. That was the school there. And let me see, from there.
C. POLLARD: Did you stay at Oak Hill the whole time you were in school?
P. KIRVEN: I stayed at Oak Hill until—I believe up until the seventh grade. That was as far as it went under my enrollment. Because, now, at one time it went up to the twelfth— there were kids that graduated from the twelfth grade. But when my generation came through, this new law—integration laws began to come in, so it only went to a certain grade level and you had to move. I left Oak Hill and went to Echols school, and I stayed there two years to the tenth-grade level. I left there and I went to Woodland [school], tenth through the eleventh grade. And my final year—there was a controversy between those two schools because I was in the Coolidge district. Coolidge mandated me back to their district, so my final year was in—twelfth-grade year was in Coolidge.
It was time to get serious about what you were going to want to do. I wanted to be a butcher like my dad, and when he asked us that twelfth-grade year what were we going to do and I said, “Well, Dad, I’m going to be a butcher just like you,” I don’t want to use the phrase that he used, but, “I will be durned if that’s so. So you make up your mind. You’re going to choose a career,” (laughs) you know? I was not certain what I was going to do, but I loved ag [agriculture] and I had a vo-ag teacher that was very instrumental to me by the name of William Mitchell. He sort of put me under his wing and coached me a little bit, and I did love ag. He asked me, what did I want to do? I said, “Well, I want to be a teacher just like [you]. I want to teach vocational agriculture.” And he said, “Well, if that’s what you want to do, then we’ll see about getting you in.” At that time, Robert Briscoe was the—and I don’t want to—
B. KIRVEN: He was the principal, wasn’t he?
P. KIRVEN: Yeah, he was the principal, but he sort of had the idea that I wasn’t college material, you know. But according to the academic surveys, these surveys that you go and interview students, I had a keen, high interest in science. My aptitude test was extremely high in science. I guess that’s what I’m saying. And I guess for, oh, six or seven months, there was a big controversy on exactly what I was going to do and who was going to do what and whatnot. Then there was an old professor from Carver High [School] by the name of L. D. Dorsey. He came in and he was the assistant principal, and some kind of way he and the vo-ag teacher, they got together. One had said they wasn’t going to sign any papers for me to go to school, and then—
C. POLLARD: College. You mean college.
P. KIRVEN: College, yeah. College. And Dorsey came out and he grabbed me by the neck and put a good hold on me and said, “Boy, what are you going—what do you want to do?” I said, “I want to go to college.” He said, “Okay, that’s(??) going to college.” And anyway, he got the ball rolling. How those two individuals solved that controversy I don’t know, but he went back to my dad and he told him, said, “Yes, he’s going to Prairie View [A&M University]. I have two sons down there, and they’ll sort of look out for him. And I will carry him down there.” And he did. He carried me down. The first building I lived in was the rankest building on campus, which was Shoemaker(??), (laughs) and I’ll never forget Shoemaker(??).
C. POLLARD: Well, tell me about your dad’s butcher shop. What was your dad’s name?
P. KIRVEN: Moses. My dad was Moses.
C. POLLARD: Moses Kirven.
P. KIRVEN: Yeah. Dad—well, let me go back. The first I remember my dad is he worked from farm to farm. At that time, Sandy was highly into—Prairie Hill was highly agriculture, so he did farmwork. He was one of those tractor drivers that, you know, laid your—put your crop up, laid your crop by. Oh, he did that up till I can remember to about seven or eight years old. Then he started working at this meat plant, Jack Morris/Myers(??) Packing Plant, here in Coolidge. Every summer I would go to that plant and work with him with the two Morris/Myers(??) brothers, Mike and Willy Morris/Myers(??). We were too small to do anything, but we wasn’t too small that they wouldn’t get a big table like that and pull up chairs and put us up on them stools, and we would peel and wrap wieners and link sausages. We would do that all day every day until school started back. And when we wasn’t doing that, they had an ice plant. We would go in there and make ice, and it was our responsibility to pull those five-hundred-pound icebox out of them tubes and put them into the cooler for the daily shipment. And, let’s see, when that plant burned, he went to the Mexia packing plant, which was—oh, what was that plant in Mexia? Can you [remember]?
K. POLLARD: I don’t know. I don’t remember the one in Mexia. I remember there was one in—
P. KIRVEN: Yeah, there was one—Phillips, Phillips Packing Plant in Mexia. I did very little work there with Phillips because he had three butchers on the floor and Dad didn’t need very much help there because he had plenty help. He worked there till, let’s see— 1960? And then in ’61—yeah, ’61. I was in Prairie View in ’61. Well, he left there and he went to Varo, that military [manufacturing plant] that was making—during the time, Vietnam had gotten pretty warm and they were working gunner parts, triggers and things for the army. [P. Kirven note: Varo specialized in military weapons parts.]
C. POLLARD: So he just took what he learned in these packing plants and had his own butcher shop.
P. KIRVEN: Yes. Well, after he left Varo, that place, he went to Groesbeck, to the Swift Brothers [Swift and Company, a meatpacking company], where he retired at. But during the same time, that’s when he built his—when he was working there he—he was getting so much after-hour work that we decided—rainy, cold days he would be out there doing that. [P. Kirven note: He began processing his own meats after hours to provide meat for his family.] We just decided that we wanted to put him on the inside, so all of us kids got together and built him a shop, which is still functional today.
B. KIRVEN: The brother has taken—Floyd [Kirven] has taken—
P. KIRVEN: Yeah, has taken full flesh of that now. [P. Kirven note: The family still processes their own meat when needed.]
C. POLLARD: So did your dad grow up in Sandy?
P. KIRVEN: My dad grew up in this—yeah, in Sandy community. My dad and his mom and—oh, let’s see, how many brothers? There was Dad—well, let me start with the oldest. There was Ed, Joseph, Moses [interviewee’s father], William, Arthur, James, and John. And the girls: the oldest was Aldessie, Elizabeth, Ella Mae, Laura, Gussie, and the other baby girl. What was her name? Alice, Alice Marie.
C. POLLARD: So do you know how it got to be called Sandy?
P. KIRVEN: Well, as far as I can remember from this—and I don’t exactly know, just what I’ve heard—is that the early settlers that came in—and they were from all different areas. This was purely a—just like a desert plain, and they moved—the early settlers moved to this sandy area, which was just as bare and sandy as they can be, and they said, Well, we’ll just take this sandy spot here. You know, as far as I know, from what I hear, that’s what it—
C. POLLARD: So is it sandy in Sandy?
P. KIRVEN: It’s sandy in Sandy. Sandy is sandy.
C. POLLARD: So no blackland. Not like up here.
P. KIRVEN: No, no, no. It’s scattered. There are—
C. POLLARD: Pockets?
P. KIRVEN: —pockets of it. On the high ground it’s black dirt, but on the lower ground—it’s just like—this is an ocean right here and it’s sand. But if you move a quarter of a mile further, you run into black [dirt]. It’ll be mixed and then you run into some areas that’s clay. Yeah. But you would say that 90 percent of Sandy is sandy soil, which nobody wanted. Nobody wanted that sandy soil.
B. KIRVEN: I looked back over the—and they were saying that they saw this—some of the early settlers came in and they said, Well, since nobody don’t want [this] place(??).
P. KIRVEN: This was a place that nobody wanted. Sandy was a place nobody wanted, so this is where the early Negro settlers settled, where nobody else wanted. You didn’t have to fight for it like my family had to do over in Kirvin. Now, the Kirvens originated from Kirvin, and I don’t want to restart that rivalry over again, but—
C. POLLARD: But today, in my opinion, that’s one of the prettiest places around here because of all the oak trees.
P. KIRVEN: In Kirvin?
C. POLLARD: No—well, in Sandy, the piece that you have down there is one of the prettiest pieces of land in this area.
P. KIRVEN: Well, at the time, when it was predominately agriculture, as I said earlier, nobody wanted it. But as years went on and Sandy got developed, then everybody that didn’t want it, had deserted Sandy and we settled here, then they wanted Sandy back. They wanted to reclaim Sandy. And it was too late. It was already claimed.
C. POLLARD: So who—besides the Kirvens, who were some strong families in the community that held it together?
P. KIRVEN: The Echolses, the Mayfields, the Medlocks. It’s all in—
C. POLLARD: I need it on this, though.
P. KIRVEN: Okay. Sawney Henry, Medlocks—I’m just going to go from my memory— Medlocks, Ferrells, Morgans, Cottons, Adkisons—hm. Gee, it’s been so long.
B. KIRVEN: Sparks.
P. KIRVEN: Sparkses, yeah.
B. KIRVEN: Tillmans(??).
P. KIRVEN: Yeah, Tillmans(??), the Henrys, Hobbses.
B. KIRVEN: And Briscoes.
P. KIRVEN: Yeah, Briscoes, and there were some—oh, the Willises.
C. POLLARD: So what names are left now in Sandy?
P. KIRVEN: Echolses are predominately—some of the Echolses were the founding fathers of the Sandy community. That’s what I’m saying now is the younger—these are younger generations. All the old descendants are—they’re gone. The oldest living member now—well, there’s two of them. Henry Lee Adkinson, who is ninety-six, and Earnestine Hobbs, who is also—she should be ninety-seven now. They’re the two oldest members of that era still living. One other, Melissa Adkinson—of course, now, you couldn’t get much from her because dementia or what you call Alzheimer’s has set in. She would be somewhere around ninety-four or ninety-five. I guess the next oldest retired teacher here would be Mary Frances Phillips; she should be about ninety-two. And the next oldest is going to be Eleanor Thomas(??). She is ninety-six. And my mom would be the next one, who is ninety—Vicy—who is ninety.
B. KIRVEN: But she’s not of Sandy.
P. KIRVEN: No. She’s—
B. KIRVEN: She’s not of Sandy.
P. KIRVEN: But she’s been here—
C. POLLARD: But she grew up here—or she lived here and—
P. KIRVEN: She’s been here seventy years, yeah. But she was born and raised in Delia area, from the area where Bennie came from.
C. POLLARD: So besides the butcher shop, were there any stores?
P. KIRVEN: There were two stores in the Sandy community: one right next to me and then another one, which was near Willis and—Homer Willis and what did I say her name—
B. KIRVEN: Freeman(??)?
P. KIRVEN: Yeah. As a matter of fact, there were three in that area: one next to me on [Texas State Highway] 180, one on [US Route] 84 next to that Holiness church, and then one on [Highway FM] 2310 there where that telephone station is. So there were three stores.
C. POLLARD: And just like a general store?
P. KIRVEN: General store. You could go in there and get anything but clothes. You couldn’t get clothes there. But groceries and everything else that you wanted, you could get there. I’m so familiar with that because every summer when school turned out, that store, oh, it would be so—I guess you could stand in the line from here to twenty- three(??) over there. That’s just how heavy populated Sandy [was]. I guess Sandy was like Coolidge on trade day. It was just a multitude—it was just multitude of people. Oh, it was—Sandy was a city; a rural, rural city. That’s what Sandy was.
C. POLLARD: So what year was this? Fifties?
P. KIRVEN: This was back—yeah, early fifties, from 1948 to the early sixties. And as agriculture started(??)—well, I’m going to put it like this: as cotton started playing out and work started getting scarce, then the area started depleting. There was no jobs, no industry, nothing to keep people here. They couldn’t make a living no more here, so they had to move away to the urban area where there were jobs.
K. POLLARD: When did the Navasota River Bridge go away, and do you remember people using it?
P. KIRVEN: Oh yes. Many, many, many times, vehicle would come over, and the bridge would be in such bad shape that you would drive the Model T Fords across and get stuck. I can remember people all time of night—they wouldn’t have rock road there(??). They would come there and get my granddaddy, and he would get a team, Della and Cora, (C. Pollard laughs) and go and pull the—
C. POLLARD: Those were the mules, Della and Cora. (laughs)
P. KIRVEN: Those were the mules. Della and Cora were the mules. And then when Della and Cora couldn’t do it, he had an old stud horse by the name of Champ, which was extremely smart. He could outpull any six mules. But he didn’t like using him because he rode him and the kids rode him to school, and, you know, he just took care of everybody. So he would get them [the mules] or he would take him [the horse] and pull people out of the bog holes off of that bridge when they fell through. (laughter) And never could get the county to keep it up because—you can understand it now. We didn’t understand what being floodplain area was. We know it today, but it was difficult keeping that bridge up, and that was one of the reasons, because we didn’t have the technology that we have now. So we just finally abandoned that portion of 180 because of that river bridge.
K. POLLARD: Do you remember the year the last car drove across that bridge?
P. KIRVEN: It would be—it was in 1958, ’59, somewhere in there. Somewhere in ’58 or ’59, when the last car went across, to my memory, yeah. I sort of—because it was—it would be an historical mark[er] now if it was still there. And some of the remains—what we say—what do we call them now?—ledges or headwall braces are still there. You can still—you know, still pretty visible. But if we’d had the technology then building bridges that we know now, it would’ve been absolutely marvelous. If you were going to Mart, you’d just get on 180 and go straight to 84 instead of making that U and then go on.
C. POLLARD: Well, did Sandy have its kind of own governing body? Did y’all kind of take care of all of your own stuff, your own problems, your own—
P. KIRVEN: Yes.
C. POLLARD: I don’t want to use the word law, but Sandy people took care of Sandy.
P. KIRVEN: Sandy took care of Sandy. I guess that sort of has been a standing law, and I guess you’d say the old founding fathers instilled that mentality that we take care of our own, somewhat similar to what Coolidge—how Coolidge is today. You know, Coolidge is somewhat self-sustained. They take care of their own. Well, Sandy was that way. And we still practice that. We have our—
C. POLLARD: Was there one or two people—men—that were like the mayor, or they were the ones if there was a problem, that was the go-to person?
P. KIRVEN: Our go-to persons were—I’d say our worship master, which was Tillman/Timmor Morgan(??), who was high in the Grand Lodge, and then Beatrice [Cotton], who was standing high on the educational list. And Robert Briscoe. Those were the people that we confided in for guidance and understanding. They were role models and everybody there in the community sort of looked up to them. If there was a problem or if there was an illness, you went to them.
We couldn’t afford doctors, and they had those old-fashioned remedies. If she didn’t know—that was the elder sisters that—sweetie, they had some remedies that work. If you had the measles, there was a remedy for that. If you had the whooping cough, there was a remedy for that. If you stuck a nail in you, there was a remedy for that.
C. POLLARD: Kerosene.
P. KIRVEN: Kerosene. (laughter) Kerosene, three sixes [666 cold and cough medication], castor oil, Phillips 66—what other?—hog-hoof tea, mare milk. It was—
C. POLLARD: Now, what was that last one you said? Mare milk?
P. KIRVEN: Mare milk. Okay, your jenny milk.
C. POLLARD: Oh really!
P. KIRVEN: Your jenny’s milk.
C. POLLARD: Oh, mare milk!
P. KIRVEN: Mare milk, yeah. Mare milk. Coal oil candy. Strep throat, there were—oh.
B. KIRVEN: There was an old lady named Johnson, wasn’t it?
P. KIRVEN: Mary Johnson could cure what kids called thrash, or whatever you called it.
C. POLLARD: Thrush.
P. KIRVEN: Thrush, yeah. How she did it, but she could sit there and—
B. KIRVEN: Blow in the kid’s mouth.
P. KIRVEN: —blow in the kid’s mouth and give—
K. POLLARD: What was her name?
P. KIRVEN: Mary Johnson. She still have kids now. They’re all in Houston.
And—what do you call them? Screwworms were extremely bad. Your horse or your dog or your sheeps got cut. This was Claudia Mae [Lockhart Conner]. I forget what her name—she wasn’t a Johnson. But she would sit there and just mumble some kind of (makes chanting sound, as though casting a spell), and things just fall out. Just fall, just fall out, just fall out, just fall. And I can remember my granddad, Nick Kirven, constantly had to call her because this old pet stud that we had, he was always getting [in] the wrong part and the wire getting in—you know, you couldn’t doctor him. She’d just sit there and just talk those things, and the kind of flies that we get now, maggot, screwworms get there, she’d just talk those things, talk those things, talk those things, and they’d just fall out. And she’d say, “You’re good to go.”
Who was the—I’ve forgotten who the well wisher(??) is, but he could take—because people still do that now—take a willow branch or a peach tree. And I can remember the present well—because we’ve got it condemned and closed up now—well that we got on the homeplace. I can remember that guy. I don’t know what his name, but he was the only one that—One Gone. His name was Mr.—
C. POLLARD: One Gone?
P. KIRVEN: Mr. One [Gone]—well, that [was] because—(laughter) but now, that wasn’t his name!
C. POLLARD: I know, but that’s what y’all called him: One Gone.
P. KIRVEN: (laughter) That’s what they called him, and we called him that same thing. But he came there and we honestly thought he was pretending, but he came there with that old willow stick and he just walked all around and he got to that spot there and, “Oh man!” (makes struggling sound) He couldn’t hold that thing and he just said, “Help! This is it right here!” And we knew that if—well, they knew because I didn’t have to do it: pushing a wheelbarrow and then throwing that pick to dig that hole, that well. But they dug and they dug and they dug, and the further down they went it started getting muddy, and I can remember then it started getting muddy, but now how they casing it(??), I don’t remember that. But the well still exists until we just closed—you know, like keeping up—the wall falling, then you start bringing cows and things on it(??). Didn’t want no— well, kids. We was mainly concerned about kids playing in there because we were some bad ghosts(??) then. Your cat wouldn’t have a chance. (laughs) We’d put him in that well and see if—(laughter)
B. KIRVEN: Could it swim.
P. KIRVEN: I ain’t going there, tell you how bad we were then. (laughs)
C. POLLARD: So when you were growing up, was electricity in Sandy?
P. KIRVEN: No. No electricity. Electricity came when I was about maybe twelve or thirteen, maybe a little bit earlier. Somewhere maybe twelve or thirteen years of age. And when it came, I was so used to it, that dark and studying and all: “I don’t like this one book!(??) I got to go back to my candle.” They’d laugh. But after electricity—and you didn’t know what to do with it in that little old box house at this time of year—you know, cracks that wide and you got to go get paper every year to put on. Then rats would come and tear that out. It wasn’t such thing as glue. You made your own glue with flour and water to paste that paper up there to stay warm.
B. KIRVEN: Then water came in; it’s not too long ago. Water came in here in 1970s—I mean 1960s.
P. KIRVEN: Yeah. You see those old movies now where the roof leaked. That was just a common thing. You know, get the tub and that was your bathwater you caught. (laughter)
C. POLLARD: So when do you think the community was the strongest?
P. KIRVEN: In the early years. The early years, the community—and I say that to say this: there wasn’t as much jealousy and strife as there is today. Yeah, it was—and I say that because if I went to your house and I did this to you and your dad whooped my butt, when I got home I got another one. Each one could discipline each other’s kids. You can’t do that now. And me—as a teenager, I can remember—and we didn’t have telephones. I could go to Coolidge and do something and it really could amount to nothing, but whatever I did, it beat me home. When I got home, the strap was already waiting, he said(??). (laughter) And I’m wondering, How did he know? I’m still wondering and he never told us how he knew! And I don’t care what. It could be in Mexia and the news would still beat [me] home, and it just got to where to stay out of trouble, I didn’t have any friends. I just had to stay to myself. (laughter) Honest, I had to stay to myself. I couldn’t do with it. I couldn’t get with this group and do what y’all did. (laughs)
B. KIRVEN: It would beat you home. You wouldn’t really know: how did your mischievousness got back home. And you’d say, “No, I didn’t do that!” “I guess you want to call Mrs. So-and-So a liar.”
P. KIRVEN: Exactly. If you said, “You did that,” and I said, “You’re a liar!” “Don’t say that! That’s a cussword! You don’t cuss an elder!”
B. KIRVEN: You don’t say that.
P. KIRVEN: You’d better say, “You told the story wrong.” You better say “told a story”; you better not say “lie,” (laughs) because a lie was one of the worst—you just didn’t do that to an adult.
B. KIRVEN: I think—you couldn’t even say “story.” You just didn’t say it at all. You did not say that because they did not like you—I got a backhanded lick by saying, “Oh, you’re [telling] a story.” (unintelligible) I did not see my hand (unintelligible) coming back.(??)
P. KIRVEN: (speaking at same time) If you said it, you were right and I was wrong. If you [were] an elder and you said it, you were right. And that tradition went on for quite a while, in spite of—because of who—you know, then I say that’s why jealousy and strife starts stacking it(??) because when you start climbing a certain ladder, Well, you think you’re blah-blah-blah. Let me—I’ll fix that. It just—
B. KIRVEN: Start tearing each other down.
P. KIRVEN: Yeah.
C. POLLARD: So how did Sandy end up with like four churches? I would have thought you would have like had one big strong church, but you had, what, four small churches?
P. KIRVEN: Well, then the churches—and this where I’m saying the leadership started— jealousy and strife started breaking in because one dominant leader get there, then all of a sudden, “Well, why should you have all the damn glory?” “Well, I’ll just leave. See if you can operate without me and then—”
C. POLLARD: Oh. So just like today. (laughs)
P. KIRVEN: Yeah.
B. KIRVEN: When I came into the picture, the Baptist church where I go—is Primitive Baptist—and they said they had quite a few members, a whole lot of members. And I looked and I said, “Well, where are the members?” I said, “Where are the members?” And they said, Well, they all went to the Methodist [church]. All the Methodists are Primitive Baptists. (laughter)
P. KIRVEN: They are! That Baptist church over there on 2310 was the church. It was the church, but then when this animosity—
B. KIRVEN: Well, what happened that they went into the—the church was so—the membership, they were going to tear the church down and rebuild. Well, while in the rebuilding stage, everybody left and went to the Methodist [church]. And that’s where—I said, “You mean [to] tell me all these people here in the Methodist [church] are Primitive Baptist people?” (laughter) He said, “Yeah.” And Church of God in Christ, when they established, there was some—they was holding this, so that’s when they started developing. So that’s only reason why it’s still—it’s soon to be gone because the pastor there is no longer there. He’s one of the Thomases.
P. KIRVEN: One of the founders.
B. KIRVEN: One of the founders. Thomas. He was a preacher and so therefore he speaks in the circuit. The Church of God in Christ circuit don’t fill in there. They’re going to go out.
P. KIRVEN: And it’s sad that the people that really love and care about [the community]—and that strive for it—dementia. And I don’t know whether that come from stress, whether it come from worrying about—and I guess I say this: that you can’t recruit anybody to take your shoes. In my case, I am trying my level best to find somebody [to] take over the leadership of this cemetery while I’m still able to teach and tell you what I—you run it the way you want to, but then everybody needs some guidance. I would like to see that happen before they pat that shovel in my face, you know. I don’t want to see— how many years, seventeen or eighteen years just—I don’t want to see it go back to where it was.
B. KIRVEN: It’s just like every day—what’s happening today. That’s what happened back then. It’s just a—it’s a come on(??) the generation.
P. KIRVEN: Until we can create something to draw young people back to our community, they’re going to die. And the key is industry. Industry. Industry. But we get into that self-mode that we don’t care about nobody but me, and you got people that tell you that in a heartbeat right now: It’s me; I don’t give a damn about you. But that’s one of the negative attitudes you can have.
C. POLLARD: But right now in the Sandy community, your family owns most of the land around, right?
P. KIRVEN: Yes, and I don’t like to use that word to say that. I mean, it’s true, but then again, when you talk about it, you only, “Damn you—” You understand what I’m saying, that—
B. KIRVEN: Well, if you look at it from a standpoint, it’s true.
P. KIRVEN: I’m saying, yeah, you’re true. But now—
C. POLLARD: Because it borders, well, from the curve to 2310, from there all the way to 84 on both sides of 2310?
P. KIRVEN: Both sides, um-hm. And I say this to say, you didn’t want it till I got it. Then after I got it, then you wanted it. (laughter)
C. POLLARD: But you worked for it and earned it.
P. KIRVEN: Yes, and I’ll tell you—and you won’t believe this—but I have been accused of a lot of bad things, from the worst dope dealer to the worst cattle thief in the—(laughs)
K. POLLARD: Well, what would be the population—how many people would you think would live in the Sandy proper? How many people are there?
P. KIRVEN: Somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty-four—and I’m going to be exact— last count I had sixty-two. Might can squeeze in sixty-eight now, new family. And this year I can count on four more: a new family just moving in I got to fix the road for.
K. POLLARD: So what’s the geographical boundary? If you can count that many, that means that there’s a geographical boundary that’s sort of like roads or a river or something?
P. KIRVEN: Okay, from the last house on 189—that’s going east, east and west—and you go to 84—let’s see. Go south to [Redbud] B, [Redbud] B/Lake Mexia, to 368, County Road 368(??), just across the Navasota River.
K. POLLARD: So if you had an up-to-date map of the county, you could plot the houses?
P. KIRVEN: Yeah. Yeah, I could.
C. POLLARD: And back when it was going strong—two, three hundred people? Four hundred?
P. KIRVEN: Oh. Sweetie, I was so young then I had no idea of properly counting, but I will say in the neighborhood of five or six hundred people, yeah, or more. There were so many people that—you’ve seen ant colonies. Well, that’s the way—
B. KIRVEN: That’s including the white ones—the white people too, because they were in that boundary. In that boundary.
P. KIRVEN: Yeah, right in the middle. The Bardins, the Askews, the Wallaces, the Whites—and they were white—oh. So many of them are gone you just forget all the—
C. POLLARD: So here’s my last question. What do you see happening with Sandy? Who’s going to hold it together?
B. KIRVEN: We don’t know.
P. KIRVEN: Well, I’m here today, but if I’m gone tomorrow, I don’t know.
C. POLLARD: Will any of your children come back?
P. KIRVEN: Yeah. Yes. [Kirven note: My sisters and brothers are planning to return after retirement.]
B. KIRVEN: We’re trying to bring them (unintelligible).
P. KIRVEN: And I say that because of what exists now, and I’m having that deed fixed to where it will—you know, they’ll have to—well, they won’t have to, but—
C. POLLARD: They can if they want to.
P. KIRVEN: Yeah. And as I tell them, “Here’s a silver platter. It’s yours.(??) Now, you can take it, make it, or break it.”
C. POLLARD: So what’s the population of the Kirven family, all of y’all, right now?
P. KIRVEN: Woo.
C. POLLARD: Over a hundred?
P. KIRVEN: Plus.
C. POLLARD: And that’s a legacy right there.
P. KIRVEN: A hundred plus. Because we’re—oh, sweetie, we’re scattered so far and in numbers. We’re—
C. POLLARD: And all the roots come right back here.
P. KIRVEN: Um-hm.
B. KIRVEN: Yeah, we have a family reunion down there in the homeplace and everybody shoots down(??).
P. KIRVEN: As a matter of fact, we have two reunions. You now, I’m half Beachum and Kirven, too, and we have two reunions. If you don’t get this side—one side or the other, you’re going to know who your peoples are. There’s no—well, you know what I’m saying, when you don’t know who your folks are, what happens. Yeah. And a lot of that did happen back when. So we’re seeing to—trying to see that that doesn’t happen anymore. You know what we’re saying, Kenneth: no more inbreeding. You know where I’m going there, too.
C. POLLARD: Well, thank you very much. Pete Kirven and his wife, Bennie, thank you for sharing your story about Sandy with us.
P. KIRVEN: It was our pleasure, and I wish we could have done more. And I’m sure, you know, when [we] get home and—
end of interview