The Texas Twins Events Team Travel Back To Gordon, Texas 50th Anniversary Albert & Shirley Dickson
Meet my Aunt Shirley, Uncle Albert and cousins… My twin sister, Cindy Daniel, often refers to herself as a “hillbilly.” Yesterday after packing up both of our suv’s and the team to head to a celebration for my Aunt Shirley and Uncle Albert Dickson with our cousins with Little Pawners, Maryssa and Makenna Mahaney, Steve Daniel, Angela Rodden along with the rest of the team.
Cindy decided to “pay a visit” to the dairy farm she built “brick by brick” when she was 17 and married to Roy Anderson prior to heading to the assigned celebration location of the anniversary party on New York Hill with family and friends we haven’t seen in years including my artistic Aunt Bonnie Dickson famous for her paintings of bluebonnet flowers.
Traveling down dirt roads following my sisters SUV, it occurred to me that she might have forgotten where the dairy actually was and perhaps we were all lost looking for it. I checked my watch knowing that the celebration started at 2:00 and it was already 1:15PM and began my usual panic regarding being “tardy to the party.”
A few minutes later, Cindy pulled over and got out of her vehicle with her husband, Steve Daniel and Maryssa Mahaney to announce she had found it. Walking right up to a farmhouse “in the country” can be somewhat dangerous and, I was concerned about how safe we were just showing up and taking photos. Cindy came back to me waiting on the dirt road and said “yes, it’s still here after all these years.” I looked behind her and said “you’re being followed.”
Surprised, she turned around and talked to the three young hunters who were occupying the building and we chatted for a bit and even took a few photos with the hospitable new friends prior to heading up to Aunt Shirley’s farm. #cindyism “if you DONT play by the RULES, then you TRULY weren’t in the GAME, to begin with!” Meaning be friendly and explain what you’re doing and most folks will “get it” and work with you.
I walked back to the “North 40” with Maryssa and hopped on the old tractor and told my young niece that I had learned to drive on a tractor when I was very young and went back up to the house to “visit” for a moment with my Aunt and Uncle.
Things are at slower pace in Gordon, Texas where sweet tea and conversation soak up the dog days of summer and cookouts, fundraisers and parades offer a good turnout in a sleepy town where “everybody knows your name.”
My uncle and cousins all wear scanners to alert them to fires or accidents with injuries needing emergency assistance. Many of the men in Gordon are volunteers for bake sales to raise money for a sickly neighbor or trip for the school as well as volunteering to help others during a “crisis.”
Cindy told Aunt Shirley and Uncle Albert she wanted to go by the old feed and grain and get a photo before its torn down for new development and the team loaded up to head into “town.” Cindy worked mornings building the dairy and spent her afternoons working in the feed store.
There isn’t much that has changed on the one street that runs through town or the church we attended every summer while spending our holidays with my aunt and uncle. There are several older homes that have been vacant for quite a while and we took several photos of these once great country homes.
I’ve always wondered what happened to the folks that moved away to the “big city” and simply left their home behind without bothering to sell it or keep it for a summer home. Always looking for a vintage vehicle when on an out of the way excursion- the homes left behind always “catch my eye.” There was a kind old woman that Cindy and I named Mrs Stillwater who had a well “out back” and always let us stop and get a cold drink from the well walking home from church on Sunday afternoons. The old house was moved “out back” years ago and left to rot with a newer home placed where it had once stood with a kind old lady in need of company with a gentle laugh and mop of grey hair who once graced her porch on a withered rocker waving at every car that came by. Times were simpler then, in Gordon they still are. Every driver waves at you in a form of welcoming you to their town. Folks are friendly in small country towns and if you have car trouble- quick to stop and help you out!
Heading past the truck stop on up to Mingus, Texas, I look around at the things that have changed and the things that remain the same. Our uncle and cousins all have CB radios to respond to the latest fire (they are all volunteer firefighters) or accident on the highway. I ask Cindy why the restaurant is called New York Hill as we pass the old Smokestack where years ago, Aunt Shirley had a gas station. My aunt runs a food pantry for folks who are home bound and knows everyone “in town.” She’s wearing a lively fuschia top and looks beautiful and happy, it’s almost as if all the years since she had 6 children under her roof (3 girls and 3 boys) haven’t aged her a bit. I think Cindy and I are two years older than Albert Junior, then James is next oldest, followed by our little brother Jerry Lee with Cynthia Rene being the “baby.”
Our summers of hunting horny roads, fishing and bailing hay suddenly don’t seem a lost memory as we meet all the folks who came to family reunions and celebrations at the VFW, church and my families farm for pot luck dinners and card games or dominoes.
My cousin Cynthia and her brothers, Albert and James have set up a feast of food and a gift table that I place a 50th anniversary mirrored wall hangar that I’ve brought to mark an event that has become rare in today’s society. Fifty years of marriage is something that many couples I’ve married these past four years will need tolerance, patience and compassion to achieve. It’s a milestone that many may not be perseverant to enjoy. I often tell couples that marriage will see joys and sorrows but- if you are a team that reaches for one another to face your traumas and tribulations as a team, you will be stronger and more resilient.
Goofing around with our cousins 35-40 years after chasing each other around the farm with spiders and horny toads and ghost tales around camp fires while searching for fireflies- I consider that the childhood memories spent with my cousins was a gift for my sister and I. A simpler time with friends and family loading up in the back of a pick up trick heading to the church or other social event spent with your family is something to cherish and becoming more and more rare in today’s society.
Cynthia’s daughter, Rene has grown up so much since my sons wedding when she and our Little Pawners, Maryssa and Makenna Mahaney played and danced to the music from the DJ. Children who heard the music and uninhibited- jumped up and dance with the innocence of the young and the joy of the music.
Times are “less complicated” in Gordon. Everybody “looks after” their neighbors and friends and together they are a “community” that protects farms from fires and volunteer to “run the ambulance” for victims in a car crash and have become so accustomed to hearing the police scanner that no matter what is happening- they listen intently should there be an accident or a fire and the men all head off to fight the fire and leave their families at events to enjoy the day and worry if their loved ones will make it home safely. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at an event when everyone dropped everything and got “suited up” heading to the Fire Hall. Gordon hasn’t changed, the people here all care about each other and know who’s been sick and may need a hot meal or to be “checked on” and as we leave Gordon to head back to the “big city” I look in my rear view mirror and wonder why the “personal touch” of country living is “lost” in the city? I also am thankful for all the hay rides, laughs and memories of a simpler time in my life spent feeding the chickens and riding horses.
I’m thankful for the time I spent here with my sister and brother in the comfort of a small town and the community that embraced the “city kids” from California who had never seen a scorpion or horse fly but learned to remember what not to touch out of curiosity and get stung running into the house screaming “Aunt Shirley!” Congratulations to my aunt and uncle and the many times they mended my scraped knee, got a tick off me or chewed tobacco for my bee sting.Wendy M Wortham