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17 Our first home back in Denton was a summer-vacated girls’ dormitory near campus. It was perfect. It had a piano in the lobby and a great kitchen and was just down the hill from the college swimming pool. Because Granddaddy Donoho was a faculty member, we had pool privileges and it seemed every afternoon we swam there, even though polio raged across Texas and the country. Mom’s position was fatalistic: the dreaded disease would or wouldn’t hit us, regardless of what we did. Many parents kept their children indoors. Aunt Donnie and Uncle Brooks wouldn’t let Don and Judd venture out often, but sometimes they came over and we had a splendid time being together and swimming. Restrictions to going out did not apply to churchgoing. I suppose most thought that God’s house was a sanctuary against not only sin, but also disease. There in the summer of 1947 and for the next two years we continued to learn about Jesus, prayed, and after church walked or drove with Granddaddy’s friends to the cafeteria at the college for lunch. Many of the college students who waited on us in the food line were foreigners who I would learn were coming to the United States in great numbers to become educated, then return to their war-ravaged countries to help in the rebuilding efforts. One became our babysitter and though I can’t recall her name I do remember that she cooked us delicious foods from her homeland: Greece. To this day, I love dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), horta (boiled greens), and lamb. I believe she was a nursing student. I hope she found and gave happiness and comfort upon her return. For all the foreign students, there were few Mexican Americans and there were no blacks, even though Granddaddy and his friends had fought the Klan. That was true in the public school system too and would remain so until my junior year in high school. Because blacks weren’t schoolmates Denton, Texas CHAPTER 2 SMALL TOWNS AND GROWING HORIZONS 18 of mine, I thought little of them, except that my mother continually warned us not to use the word “nigger” until it was purged from my vocabulary—for the most part. On Saturdays or in the evenings we would walk downtown or to the open-air theater on campus to go to “picture shows.” Saturday matinees were cowboy features, plus a serial and cartoon. There in the semi-dark Dreamland, Palace, Plaza, and Texas theaters we watched Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy, Lash LaRue, and Monty Hale do right by western town folks, particularly the heart-throbbing ladies. Although I loved Lash LaRue and later wrote a long narrative poem about him, most of the hype went to Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. We were awash in comic books, cap guns, vests, and hats featuring Roy and Gene. We sang their favorite songs, “Happy Trails” and “Back in the Saddle Again.” I still can. As macho little boys we were stunned when it was announced that Dale Evans, “Queen of the Cowgirls,” would marry Roy Rogers. We didn’t mind them smiling at each other on the screen—but marry? Nonetheless, when a rumor spread that the couple would be passing through Denton sometime on such and such a date, small children lined the highway for hours. But we saw nothing. Not a glimpse of our hero. At dusk, total disappointment set in for about thirty minutes. Then we played cowboys all the way home and the crisis passed. That period of time in Denton is like a pleasant dream to me. We were surrounded by Granddaddy Donoho, Aunt Donnie and Uncle Brooks, and cousins Judd and Don, and in 1948 Judd and Don’s sister, Carol Ann Holt, joined the troop. Thirty miles east in McKinney were Granny and Pappy, Annie Katherine and Uncle Furman Watters, and cousins Scotty and Margaret. We walked everywhere: to school, picture shows, swimming, Granddaddy’s, and across town to my aunt and uncle’s. Life was lived at a slower pace then. Children simply didn’t have to be anywhere at a precise time, except school and church. To those two we tried to be there ahead of time to play and see what was happening in our small world. Of all my memories of that time, nothing remains clearer than ice cream, which after rationing and the war was still a luxury. Ice...


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