I’ve written before about this couple. They showed up in Smithwick in the early 60s and became a part of the community. They had passed through the area back a couple decades before. They were content to live down in the pecan bottom on river back then. Everything they owned was in the back of an old car back then and when they returned in the 1960s their circumstances hadn’t changed much. After a few days Cecil Lewis invited them to move into the “Old House”. It had been sitting empty since my grandpa, Theron died in 1958. Nonie just couldn’t go back there all alone.
Minnie wasn’t a tidy housekeeper by anyones estimation. I guess living in an old farmhouse without a screen door would make it hard to keep things clean. Especially if you had a strong penchant for animals of all kinds and didn’t mind having them running in and out all the time. I think that was where the screen door probably went. A flimsy screen door wasn’t much for a billy goat or an old sow to conquer.
An announcement went out to all the neighbors that the Campbells, Charlie and Minnie, were going to be fixing Thanksgiving Dinner and they wanted us all to come. This was probably in 1962 or 1963.
It was suppose to be a duck and dressing dinner. There were always plenty of ducks around, some wild and some tame.
Charlie slipped up over the stock tank dam that was just above the house, and shot a really large goose that had landed there. After shooting it he sent a couple of his old mutts in to retrieve the bird. Of course they weren’t your typical retrieval dogs so by the time they got it to dry land, Charlie had to wrestle it away from them.
I can only imagine the scene of this aging old fellow and two hungry dogs fighting over this poor goose with feathers flying everywhere.
I remember us arriving there horseback (our main mode of transportation back then) to see Minnie start a fire underneath the old cast iron wash pot of water. Then they threw the goose in this pot whole. After a few minutes they dragged it out by a wire they’d twisted around its neck. Then they started plucking feathers off of it. Afterwards came the part of cleaning the entrails out of it. The head was left on it.
Once that was done they lowered the whole bird back in the pot and left it for a little while longer. That was supposedly to boil off the fat. Minnie didn’t want it to stay in too long, because it would start coming apart. Once all that met with Minnie’s approval they took the bird to the kitchen to bake it.
Late in the afternoon we all showed up for the feast. Owen and Effie Lewis came from over the hill, Jim and Hanna Cox with Jimmy came down and with all of our family it made a pretty good bunch.
When it came time to eat, us kids found a way to be out of earshot, down along the creek somewhere so we didn’t have to try “something new” to eat. Besides the thought of those living conditions and seeing the goose preparations earlier, which included watching Minnie and Charlie both spitting tobacco juice in every direction while dressing the fowl, we just didn’t think the smell of a cooking goose was that appealing.
The Thanksgiving Meal with the Campbell’s was talked about for many years afterwards.