Conducted by Logan Wilson
January 1, 2012
Mr. Wilson: It’s January 1, 2012. I’m in the home of Mr. Osborne, Charles Osborne, Coolidge, Texas. The next voice you hear will be that of Mr. Osborne.
Mr. Osborne: Well I was born 2 years before the depression broke. When all the stock market-stock brokers jumped out the windows cause they couldn’t sell the apples. Apples, everybody had apples but they couldn’t sell them. They’d try to sell them to make a living anyway. I remember I was living by the railroad tracks here in Coolidge and all the bums that were bumming their way through the country on the railroad would stop at our house and get a hand-out. That’s when they stood at the back door and you handed them out a sandwich. Also, if they sat down, mama would have something to eat and give them some little something because she knew that they were in as bad shape as we were. The rail road came through town about 1906. That’s the year ??? around here that I moved to Coolidge cause the rail roads that came to Coolidge and Knoxville’s Armour. So the town was started in 1906. The depression went on really to 1945 D Day. That was when we whipped the Germans? It was D Day wasn’t it?
Mr. Wilson: Uh huh D Day. That was D Day 1945.
Mr. Osborne: Yeah. 1945 I lacked just a few months being 18. Of course then, right before 1945, before the war ended, if you became 18 they called you right then. They called me but I didn’t go in soon enough to be into the fighting war. I was too young. But the depression didn’t stop until, I’d say 19,-what model is this Chevrolet? I’d say the first Chevrolet was 1946 I think.
Mr. Wilson: That’s when they started building them again?
Mr. Osborne: Yeah 1946. Of course I didn’t have enough money. I went to school in ???. Most kids around went to school on the G.I. Bill you know. Most of us around here went to Tehuacana which was then Southwestern.
Mr. Wilson: Was that before it was Westminister or after it was Westminister?
Mr. Osborne: It was after. Well you got a certificate just like you get when you get out of any college.
Back to the depression. People didn’t have enough clothes and nearly every town had a sewing room where they sewed clothes. On that 2nd story downtown was the sewing room. Anything to give people a job, whether they sewed or whether they dug ditches or what not. Everybody was trying to get a job. But then 1930, about 1930 I guess, the President he used a little so more people could get jobs. Course this was cotton country, you know that. One man, John Bell, owned most of this land around here and Jimmy Vinson, he would loan you some money. In Coolidge we built a hotel. We had a 3 story hotel and a 3 story school in the 30’s. I can’t think of anything else.
Mr. Wilson: And that was here in Coolidge. Three story school?
You remember the Mexia oil boom?
Mr. Osborne: No. That was right after. Course I didn’t know J.K. Hughes. He had all the money. Bought up all the land. I think about $2.00 an acre. Most people didn’t have $2.00 anyhow. Buying groceries. Boy you talk about somebody having some groceries, we did. We had a little corn, a little beef and a little corn bread. In those days, we’d all get together and kill a hog. Then we would butcher it, boil the meat and make crackling to use for bread. Course they saved the hams and cured them in brown sugar and hang them in the smoke house. The ham hocks were put in a big box with salt to keep them. We’d get them as needed in the winter. We all kept the door closed and locked on the smoke house. It was the strangest thing, very few people stole anything. Everybody knew that their next door neighbor had as little as they did. There wasn’t a reason to steal, you wouldn’t get anything. Anyhow, let me see. I’m about talked out.
Mr. Wilson: That’s ok. That’s alright. If you’re talked out that’s ok. I’ll tell you what though, before we sign off, Mr. Osborne, I ask everybody the same question. And so far, using different words, I’ve gotten the same answer so I’m going to ask you the same question I ask everybody. If you had one piece of advice for the young people today, one thing to tell them to help them, what would be?
Mr. Osborne: Well it would be that parents taught us kids to be honest and upright and that’s the thing I’ve done to the kids that are here. We’ve got to have some better times. It’s not the kids so much as it is the parents now. They’re all dope heads and you can’t get them to work.
Mr. Wilson: Yes sir.
Mr.: Osborne: During the depression, the real depression, didn’t much stealing go on. What did most of them answer?
Mr. Wilson: Most people talk about the family, as you did, and they also talk about getting an education and getting a job.
Mr. Osborne: That’s what it is now for sure. All of us G.I.’s were lucky. We went to school on the G.I. Bill.
Mr. Wilson: That was good wasn’t it?
Mr. Osborne: Well I was going to Sam Houston in ’48-’49 I guess. And we got paid $75.00 a month. The government gave us $75.00 a month and paid for all our supplies and everything else.
Mr. Wilson: Did you graduate at Sam Houston?
Mr. Osborne: Uh Huh.
Mr. Wilson: I graduated at Sam Houston in 1968, about 20 years after you did.
Mr. Osborne: Yeah I went back and took some courses for my Masters. I got my Masters from Baylor.
Mr. Wilson: What did you get your degree in?
Mr. Osborne: English.
Mr. Wilson: English?
Mr. Osborne: Mastered in English, my minor was History.
Mr. Wilson: I minored in History too.
Mr. Osborne: Did you?
Mr. Wilson: Yeah I did.
Mr. Osborne: That’s all the plays I wrote.
Mr. Wilson: You wrote all those plays?
Mr. Osborne: Yeah I did.
Mr. Wilson: You taught school here in Coolidge then?
Mr. Osborne: Yeah I taught school here for 46 years.
Mr. Wilson: Forty-six years? You taught 2 or 3 generations.
Mr. Osborne: Yeah or more.
Mr. Wilson: You’ve had a wonderful career and I commend you on it. The teaching English and writing plays, that’s why you knew what the Ides of March and killing of Caesar was.
Mr. Osborne: Yeah.
Mr. Wilson: I see you have a lot of books. Do you still read a lot?
Mr. Osborne: Well I can’t see too well. I don’t read too much anymore. Most of those books I’ve already anyhow and I don’t need to read them twice.
Mr. Wilson: Well I appreciate it sir and I thank you. This is going to be pretty neat an I thank you very much.