02 Feb

My Daddy was a Carpenter

Samuel Wade Austin (1901-1985) built fine homes, not just houses.  He and my grandfather labored in love for hundreds of families in Texas for years.  The Inspector fro. the FHA who was assigned to my dad's jobs, wrote a commendation letter upon his retirement, awarding "Fine Home Builder" to Sam W. Austin and that letter is in the hands of my children today.   Houses built by Austin and Austin, all over East Texas, bear plaques reading "Historical Site of the State of Texas".  These homes have stood the storms of life for decades simply because of quality construction.   My dad hired the very same crew of men for every job and paid them more than union wages.  Theirs was a labor of love, also.  When we built our own home on the corner lot deeded to my father by his Grandfather Greer at 119 South Church Street, Mount Pleasant, Texas, his crew did it free of charge.  Every night for months, they would come over after supper and work for my family, for free.  They honored the man who treated them fairly with love and respect.  The loan totaled $4900.00 and that was just for materials.  I slept my first night there as a Junior in high school.  Just after my father passed away in October 1985, mother remained in that house until 1980 when she and her youngest sister determined to move to Rockport, Texas.  The held a garage sale that netted mother over $3000.00.  She sold her house to her former maid and her family.  The Normans paid monthly until the interest free loan of $10,000 was paid.  That house is still standing on the corner of South Church and Arkansas Street today.  

Sam and Mattie Austin were very active members of the Masonic and Eastern Star lodges.  My mother was a lifetime sponsor of "Rainbow Girls" and my daddy, who had the mind of a wizard, became the Texas' Eastern Star "Worshipful Master" conducting Eastern Star Ceremonies all over Texas for years.  His ability to memorize was phenominal.  He was much in demand.  They were also very active Democrats, on first-name-basis with all the office holders of their day.  They served as Titus County Voting Judges for decades.  

My daddy, victimized by Alzheimer's disease, spent his last days in a nursing home, cared for by my mother, daily.  We never had a car, so she either walked across town daily or was driven there by some friend or my cousin.  I asked her, 'Mother, what do you do after you see that Daddy's day has started well?"  She said, "Well, Jimmy, I help the older ladies with their hair."  "How old are those 'older' ladies?"  Why, their all in their seventies."  (At that time, she was over 80, herself)

My daddy was also a fisherman.  He loved to fish Caddo Lake at the border of Texas and Louisiana.  He spent practically every weekend with 'fishing buddies' there.  They all drank whiskey and on the way home one Sunday night, they ran into a bridge abutment just outside Jefferson, Texas.  Daddy was holding the Jack Daniels and talking to those in the front seat when it occurred. The driver suffered serious leg injuries, the passenger was comatose for a week and my dad suffered a black eye and chipped tooth from hitting his mouth on the cotton-picking liquor bottle.  That was the last weekend of fishing Caddo and Sundays were spent at First Baptist Church, Mount Pleasant.  

Dad continued to drink on weekends until my son, age five, crawled up into his lap and asked, "Papaw, why do you drink whiskey?".  Sam Austin never took another drop again.

With Full Masonic Ceremony,  Samuel Wade Austin's funeral service was conducted from his own bible given as a birthday present by his son.  

My parents were simply solid citizens who loved and respected others.  I learned to 'Labor In Love" from them and look forward to reuniting once again forever.

And that's what I get from My Box of Chocolates right here in my studio under the shadow of Kyle Field.


James G Austin '69

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