The Little Keepsake Box

This little wooden box is one of the treasures that I hold close to my heart. It belonged to my Grandmother, Leona, that we affectionately called Maw-Maw. The initials L P was for Leona Purcell.

I will be telling you more in a couple of days about my Maw-Maw, who was known as Aunt Nonie by many folks around the country. Why in a couple of days? May 6, 2021 will commemorate 112 year’s since her birth.

Now back to the box. I remember that she always kept this box on her dresser. When I would ask her about it, where she got it, she would always say a boy gave it her when they were courting, prior to her marrying my grandpa, Theron Lewis and came to Burnet County.

Actually she would always say “I got it from that danged Ol Charlie Culpepper. He thought that if he made something as nice as this box that I’d marry him”. But she would go on to say how glad she was that she didn’t take up with that fool.

This all took place down in the area of Bastrop County called High Grove and Bateman, the communities where they were each raised.

As coincidence would have it, when I started in the 5th grade at Jollyville, we came to Smithwick to spend the weekend with Maw-Maw. Of course Maw-Maw wanted to know all about my first week of school and how I liked my teacher. I told her my teacher was Mrs. Della Culpepper.

She asked me to describe Mrs. Culpepper to her. I told her how she was a real short little lady that was all crippled up in her hips and legs. Low and Behold, that is the lady that ended up marrying Charlie Culpepper from down home. She knew her because they all would attend the High Grove Homecoming each summer. As I would find out years later, Charlie didn’t usually make it, because he was to drunk to be taken out into public.

I got back to school that next week and told my new teacher who my grandmother was. It was fairly easy sailing from that point on. I think I had her for two years.

In addition to that connection we started going to the barber shop next door to Hill’s Store in downtown Jollyville. The new barber was none other than Charlie Culpepper. Of course I was more than happy to flaunt the fact that my grandmother was Leona Purcell.

After moving on from Jollyville when I finished 7th grade, I don’t remember ever seeing either of the Culpepper’s.

I was to later find out after coming to Bertram that he came here and setup up shop for the rest of his barbering years.

According to Nonie, Charlie passed on a few years later. (In 1971) If memory serves me, he was drunk and hit by a truck while walking across the highway.

Now if that’s not what happened, please forgive me for besmirching his good name.

Della would call Maw-Maw up and hitch a ride down to High Grove for the Homecoming. By that time Mrs Culpepper had moved to Briggs. Leona thought she talked too much and finally started planning where she’d stay over several days or at least tell Mrs. Culpepper she was.

I look it up and it looks like Mrs. Culpepper passed on in August of 1996, just a few months before Leona in March of 1997.

Now a little more thought on the little wooden box. We’ll never know, but did the box include an engagement ring? Other than it being a very nicely crafted cedar box with a inlaid wood heart and initials, why did she hang on to it all those years.

Perhaps she kept it, for the same reason I keep it. It tells a story.

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