Sno-Balls and growing up poor on an East Texas farm


By Lee Clark and Ken Cable

Special to The Friday Flyer

This story continues the saga of Canyon Lake resident Lee Clark, who writes her memoirs of growing up in East Texas. Lee’s memoirs are true. The first chapter appeared in the December 19 issue of The Friday Flyer. Lee says, “My parents were very poor cotton sharecropper farmers. We had no electricity, no running water and a telephone that you cranked to get the operator, who at that time answered as “Central.” Our phone number was three long cranks and one short crank on the phone.”

The introduction provided by Ken Cable, telling of this old box phone that rings in Lee’s modern day home in Canyon Lake, is “artistic license.”

Two weeks passed before the phone rang again. Sitting on her couch in the afternoon, watching the news on television, she was startled by the sound. Over the past two weeks, she had convinced herself that the previous episode was a hallucination that hadn’t happened at all.

And now, the old antique phone was ringing again, three longs and a short. She was surprised and excited as she rushed to the phone. She grabbed the receiver and in a strained voice said “Hello” into the mouth piece.

“Yuelee, this is your mother. Remember how cold it was the day Jerry was born? I remember the snow balls, do you? That was so sweet of you.”

The images from that long-ago time flooded into Lee’s mind as she slipped back to the day she skipped school and walked into town.

Snow Balls

It was January 10, 1940. It was cold; however, there were no snowballs since it was not snowing. This was a great day in the Bates’ house. This was the first birth in a hospital.

My brother James and I were born at home; then came Sherry and Ronnie, both born in a hospital.

I had just turned 6 in November of 1939 and months later Jerry was born. We lived on a cotton farm in Cooper, Texas in a one-bedroom house with our grandparents, Mamie and Papie Bates.

Mamie and Papie slept in big feather bed in the living room, and in the one bedroom with two double beds slept Mom, Dad, James, myself and our new brother, Jerry.

The school that I was going to was very close to the hospital and I wanted to see this new addition and to see my mother. I had 10 pennies. I don’t remember how or where I got them since there was never any money. I took these 10 pennies, left school without permission, walked to the little store by the school and bought a package of Sno-Balls. This is a package of two chocolate cakes with marshmallow filling in the center and covered in white coconut.

I took my 10 pennies, bought the Sno-Balls and walked to the hospital to see my mother and my new brother, Jerry. I don’t remember if I got in trouble with the school – I only remember that it was a special day for my mother and me. My new brother did not even know I was there and he was certainly too little to have a bite of my mother and my Sno Balls.


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