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Showing posts with label Chocolate Covered Cherries. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chocolate Covered Cherries. Show all posts

Friday, December 20, 2013

To Mary Ann From Daddy


On December 18, John William Howard Teal, my father, was born to Thomas Jefferson (1877- 1958) and Ida Mayfield Teal (1870 -1958)  Ida must have considered her first child a gift for her own birthday on Christmas day a week later.  Three more children, another son and two daughters were quickly added to the family because Ida was in her late thirties when she married.  Times were hard for poor farmers, so Howard, his sisters Edna and Lela, and the youngest, a brother named Woodrow worked hard along with their parents on farms, one in an area called Mt. Enterprise in Cherokee county, finally settling in the community of Bullard, Smith County, Texas, where they farmed and had a small weathered clapboard house. I remember visiting my Teal grandparents.  Papa Teal, 7 years younger than Ida, was a round white haired man with a red face.  He was hard of hearing so he seemed very loud and gruff.  Ida was a tiny woman with white hair worn in a tight bun.

Daddy was loving and attentive to his parents, especially his mother, calling her "Mama."  Many people have told me he was one of the kindest men they every knew.  He was also kind and caring to our Mother and to my sister and me. He did have a temper but rarely lost it.  Since he only had a 7th grade education, he worked very hard to earn a living. He was working at Cameron's cafeteria in Tyler, TX when he and Mother married.  They both continued to work there for some time. During World War II, they moved to New Orleans, LA so he could work as a welder in the shipyards. After they came back to Texas, he worked in the Bon Ton Cafe in Jacksonville, and eventually owned a restaurant with his brother. Later he owned and operated the Bus Station Cafe across from the Liberty Hotel in Jacksonville.  My first job was in that cafe. I was twelve years old, and pleased to greet customers and take their orders.

Although they didn't live on the farm, my parents purchased land from my maternal grandparents where Daddy kept a small herd of cattle, had a garden with a fruit orchard and grew some crops.

Daddy made a profession of faith and was baptized in the cotton gin pond in Bullard before he and Mother married.  He was a faithful member of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville and rarely missed a church service where he could be found on the same pew two rows from the back every Sunday.  He loved his grandsons and they loved going with him to feed the cows.

I never doubted that he adored me and I adored him.  He was proud of my good grades and the fact that I went to college.  He has been dead for over thirty years but I still miss him.  It is part of Christmas for me to honor his birthday.  He was not big on gift giving, but every Christmas he put chocolate covered cherries under the Christmas tree for me from him.  Today, I bought a box of Queen Anne Chocolate Covered Cherries and put the unwrapped box under the tree with all the wrapped gifts.  Thank you, Daddy - you are still a gift to me.