Hiram A. McAdams

Jennie Robbins - Alice Rebecca Williamson

Ruth's Story

By Ruth McAdams Cole, from information communicated to Thomas Hiram McAdams and Jo Beth McAdams Stutts during an interview in 1976.

I was born on July 12, 1906, at the Old Place in Walker county to H. A. McAdams and Alice Williamson McAdams. I married Charlie Cole, our local doctor then, in 1937. Our son, Charles, was born in Bedias in 1938. Charles now lives in Denton with his wife, Cynthia, and his three boys. He is an airline pilot for Delta airlines.

The Day I Was Born
The story that was told to us later about the day I was born was that Poppa and Momma sent Vernon, then 5 1/2 years old, up the road to Clara's house to stay. But, he cried so much they had to bring him back home earlier than planned. When he saw that baby in the bed where he had been sleeping, he started crying and told Momma that this baby was taking his place. He wanted Momma to get rid of the baby.

I was two years old when we moved to Bedias. As the youngest, I was spoiled rotten. I got fat because the boys, who worked downtown for Uncle Tobe Williamson and Uncle Cuyler Thompson, would bring me chocolate candy. When the time came for me to go to school, I can still remember that I cried and Momma cried also. After an hour or so at school, I would have to come home and see Momma for awhile and then go back to school. I'd tell Momma that I came home because I had a stomach ache. This happened all through my first year of school. Before school started the next year, Momma carried me down to see Dr. Luther Barnes, who gave me a good physical exam to make sure that there was nothing wrong with me. Momma was determined to stop me from coming home during the school day. When school started, here I came home again during the first morning. Momma met me at the door with a bottle of Castor Oil. She gave me a dose of that Castor Oil and put me to bed. I didn't come home during the school day again after that.

Wolf Hill
All of Poppa's children went to school at Wolf Hill except me. I went to school at Bedias. There was another school not far from the Old Home Place they called the Liberty Springs schoolhouse. It was located where George Woods' house is now located. I think Kelly taught school there for awhile.

I was 12 years old when Momma died. Era was going off to teach school about that time and Horace and Mary were already married. That left Joe, Vernon, and me at home with Poppa. Joe and Ruth McAdams ColeVernon were down at the Old Home Place tending to the cattle most of the time and sometimes Poppa would need to go out to the Old Place also. Well, when he would stay there all night, I would go sleep over at Alice's house, eat breakfast with them, and then come back home and eat again.

About that time, there was an old Negro woman named Mariah who was always taking care of somebody who needed help. Well, one day I came home and there was Mariah. When she found out that we really needed a woman around the house, she just came and started working for us. She didn't even ask Poppa if we wanted help. She just took over running the household. She became quite a tradition around our home, almost like one of the family, and there will always be a special place in our hearts for her. Mariah would listen to my problems and my description of dates I went out on and advise me just like a real mother would. She took care of almost all the grandchildren at one time or another. She was really like a mother to Jack Langley also. Era was going to school then during the daytime and left Jack with Mariah. She really took care of Jack.

Pop and Mariah and the Radio
Poppa and Mariah would listen to the radio all the time, especially the ball games. They knew more about the ball games -the coaches, players, and teams - than anybody else even though they had never seen a real ball game. That was sort of their life. Finally, Joe decided that he was going to take Poppa to see a real ball game when Iola came over to play Bedias in football. Well, Poppa made Joe bring him home even before the game was over. He said he didn't like to watch it. He only liked to listen to them on the radio.

Toast with Mariah
Nobody could make toast as good as Mariah could. She cooked it on an old wood-burning stove and the grand kids could come in Poppa's house any time of the day and there would be toast there ready for them. The kids would sit and eat toast and sometimes dunk it in coffee and talk to Mariah. Later, I bought an electric stove for our kitchen. We still kept the wood-burning stove that Mariah used in the kitchen with the new one. There was always lots of cats and dogs around the house. Well, one day, we smelled the worst odor coming out of the kitchen. What had happened was that one of those cats had gotten in the house and looked for a nice warm place to sleep. It picked Mariah's stove to sleep in. Well, Mariah built her a good fire in it to cook for us and just cooked that cat right there in the stove without anybody knowing about it. She discovered it when trying to locate the source of the odor and tried to get it out before any of the kids discovered what happened. But, the odor was all over the house and everyone heard about it.

"Uncle" Hill Stevenson
About that time also, we had a cousin, "Uncle" Hill Stevenson, who was a bachelor. He walked throughout the country selling magazines and books. He walked because he was afraid of cars. He would walk all week long and come back to Bedias on the weekend. He stayed at the Hipp hotel in Bedias. But he would come by our house in Bedias to take a bath. He would pull a wash tub out into the kitchen floor and take a cold bath, no matter how cold it was and no matter who was there. We would have to go to other parts of the house until he finished his bath. He was quite a character. He didn't like to be called "uncle" and didn't like Vernon's bulldog, "Watch", who always tried to bite him.

"Aunt Frank" Washington
Another character was our Negro wash woman, "Aunt Frank" Washington. She washed clothes for us on Monday and for Uncle Tobe Williamson on Tuesday. The more clothes we would put out for her to wash, the more she would fuss. Well, one spring morning, she was sorting the clothes for washing at our house and noted that she didn't have any long underwear to wash because Poppa had already taken his off. On Tuesday morning, when she was sorting Uncle Tobe Williamson's clothes, she didn't find any long underwear in it, so she marched up to Uncle Tobe and said, "Lord God, Tobe, why don't you take off your long drawers, Hiram took off his two weeks ago."

Christmas in Bedias
Christmas time at our place in Bedias was quite an occasion. We didn't have many presents because no one had any money, but we couldn't have had a better time. We saw that all the grandchildren got something. We used my and Era's old worn silk stockings to hold the candy, fruit, and nuts for the grandchildren. The grandchildren would often spend Christmas eve night at Pop's house and carry those silk stockings around with them all the next day, eating fruit and candy. On Christmas morning, I can remember hearing Horace and Nevada, Joe and Beth, Edgar and Mary, Alice and Cuyler, and the others coming to Poppa's house for Christmas dinner. We had some rich times at Poppa's house on Christmas day when all the clan came over.

A Charitable Man
When we lived at the Old Home Place, Poppa would kill a calf every week and divide it up among all the neighbors. They would have to cook it right away since we didn't have any kind of refrigeration.

Learning to Ride a Mule
I think all of the family learned to ride first on a mule we had called "Old Kate." One day when I was young, Edgar's boy, John Gayle, who lived right down the road from Poppa's house in Bedias, came by the house riding on "Old Kate." He asked me to go riding with him on "Old Kate." Well, at that time girls were not supposed to ride astride the horse like the boys did or even wear pants. Even though we both knew we would get in trouble, I decided to ride on Old Kate with John Gayle. I got up behind him and he put the spurs to Old Kate. We went down the road going 90 miles per hour it seemed and Aunt Becky saw us race by. She came out on her porch and yelled down the road to my mother, "Alice, look what those kids are doing - Old Kate is running away with them and Ruth is astride that mule." Well, everybody thought I had really disgraced myself.

Learning to Drive a Car
We had a T-model Ford when I was young. Everybody could drive it except me. Era was at Poppa's house then and I kept begging her to teach me to drive it. I warded her about that until finally she had heard enough. Era didn't lose her temper very often, but this time she was fed up with me. When I told her that I was determined to drive that car even if she didn't show me how, she told me to "go to it." She didn't think I could do it because it had a hand-crank starter in front. I went out and turned that hand-crank one time and the motor started. I got in the car and was able to get it moving. I went down the road as far as Anne Bracewell's house, which was the nearest place where I thought I might be able to get the car turned around, and started back toward town. In the meantime, Era had heard me go off in the car and called Jewel Williamson on our old hand-crank telephone and told her, " Now, Ruth is loose down your way in that T-model Ford, so when she comes by your house try to stop her." Jewel came out to the road to stop me and tell me that Era wanted me to stop when I got back home. Well, I didn't stop when Jewell yelled at me because I didn't know how to stop it. As I came on down the road, there was Era waiting for me, but I couldn't stop it, so I just kept on driving into town. It was a Saturday afternoon, and a crowd of people were in Bedias. There I came through town and by all those wagons and mules wearing my purple toboggan-like cap with an orange tassel on top. I was doing real well so I decided to go see Bernice Davis and take her for a ride. As I passed through town, Horace happened to see that purple cap sitting behind the steering wheel and started out after me. I tried to make a turn by the Methodist church and ran off in a ditch and the motor died. By that time, Horace caught up with me and told me to move over, he was taking me home. I was really mad at him for stopping my driving excursion.

Another Driving Escapade
I gradually learned to drive that T-model Ford well enough that Poppa would let me drive my girl friends around town on Sunday afternoon. Well, one Sunday, Joe went somewhere in the T-model Ford. He had left his car, a Buick, parked in our barn behind the house, thinking that I couldn't drive it since it was a shift-gear car. After a while, I got to looking at that Buick and decided that I could drive it. I got it started and backed it out of the barn and started out to pick up my girl friends. About then, Poppa came out of the house and said to Era, " E., where's Ruth?" Era said, "She's in Joe's care and has gone for a ride." Poppa said, "Dog-gonnit, she would drive that cistern if it had an engine!" In the meantime, my girl friends and I started out toward Singleton in that Buick. On the way we met Joe coming back to Bedias. He stopped me and made us get out of the Buick and get in the T-model. He drove his car back to Bedias wondering how on earth I got his car started and that far away from home with that shift-gear. I just thought I was the grandest thing in the world taking those girls for a ride in that Buick automobile.

Vernon in Trouble Again
When I was young, I remember one Monday when Vernon was supposed to go out to the Old Home Place with the rest of the boys. He didn't want to go and was real aggravated about it. I happened to be playing out in the front yard with "Aunt Frank's" daughter when Vernon picked up a buggy whip and started whipping me with it. I guess that was the way he was getting rid of his frustration at having to go out to the Old Home Place and work. Well, Horace saw him hit me with the whip and he came over and took the whip away from Vernon. Horace proceeded to give Vernon a good whipping with that whip right there in the front yard. Vernon was always getting into trouble with that whip.

Fishing in Blue Lake
There were very few times that we were able to get Poppa to go fishing with all of us. Once, we did get him to go with to Blue Lake to go fishing. Poppa didn't know that I could swim. When we had been there for awhile, we all decided to go swimming. The women went down to one end of the lake, and the men to the other end. Poppa was sitting on the bank near the middle. I was at the end with the rest of the women when I decided I wanted to swim down to the other end where the boys were. So I started swimming down the length of Blue Lake. When I passed Poppa, he jumped up and yelled, "Boys, come get her, she can't swim and she's in those alligators!" He nearly had a fit trying to get the boy's attention since he didn't think I could swim good.

Poppa's Breakfast
Do you remember what Poppa used to have for breakfast? A cup of hot water!

The Road to College
When Alete and I went to college in Huntsville, Joe and Mr. Thompson would alternate coming to Huntsville to get us. One time, I remember the dirt roads were so bad that they couldn't come in the T-model Ford to get us. Alete and I had to ride the train to Conroe, change trains and ride it to Navasota. We had to stay in a hotel in Navasota that night and then catch the train to Bedias the next day.

Wake-Up Ruth
At our old house in Bedias, Poppa wouldn't call me or come in my room in the morning when he wanted me to get up. He would put on his heavy boots and walk up and down the hall in front of my room until the noise woke me up. If that didn't get me up, he would go and get Era and say, "E., go and get Ruth up!"

Mariah and the Dentist
I remember a funny episode that occurred when all the boys were married except Joe, who was still living here with Poppa, Era and me. Joe had a young dentist friend who went out on double dates with him. Well, one night they came in late from a date and the dentist stayed at our house for the night. Joe got up early because he had to go to work, but the dentist didn't get up when he did. Mariah fixed breakfast for Joe and his friend. After Joe had left for work and the breakfast she had fixed began to get cold, Mariah got agitated at the dentist for still sleeping. Finally, she went in there and knocked on the door of the bedroom where the young man was sleeping and said, "Ain't you that tooth fiddler? Well, what time do you start fiddling teeth?"

Ruth Embarrasses Joe
Soon after I started to college, Poppa divided up the cows among the children and he offered me a choice of part of the cows or a car. Well, I wanted a car, so Poppa bought me a Ford roadster with a rumble seat in the back. I used that roadster to get back and forth to college at Huntsville. I remember one time when, for some reason or another, I had left my car in Bedias for Joe to use that week. One night during the week, some girl friends of mine and I were walking back to where we stayed in Huntsville after seeing a picture show downtown. We had always been told not to accept a ride with strange men. As we were walking home, I noticed my car drive up next to us and I heard a voice say, "Girls, do you'all want a ride home?" I recognized Joe's voice. He couldn't see us well because it was dark. So I said yes, we would ride with them. The other girls got in the car before me and when I got in the car, Joe finally recognized me and said, "My God, Ruth, what are you doing here?"

Saturday in Bedias
When we lived in Bedias, on Saturday all of the people that lived out in the country would come to town. Poppa would go to town and visit with all the Negro families that used to work for him at the Old Place. He would invite them to our house to eat dinner. Momma would never know on Saturday how many people she would be cooking for. Poppa always tried to take care of the people who worked for him. At one time, when we lived at the Old Home Place, Poppa had about 25 Negro families living around there and working for him.