Page 25 - Autobiography of a Law School
P. 25

Wanting a Seersucker Suit, 1933-1952

                      ritually examined the hands of
                      newly-introduced men to ensure
                      they did not wear the detested
                      Dragon ring.

                                           My prospects for middle-

                      class privilege ended in 1934

                      when encephalomyelitis, an

1933 Chevrolet Coupe  inflammation of the myelin lining
                      of the spinal nerves, disabled my

dad from walking and working. Nineteen years of railroad seniority

entitled him to his choice of station assignments, but no disability

benefits. Efforts to find a cure quickly exhausted family savings,

and in 1934 the three of us left Crandall in the almost new 1933
Chevrolet coupe Dad had bought when life was good.6 My mother

recalled wistfully that, when Dad first drove his new car and saw a
highway speed sign, he would call out “Sixty miles, sixty minutes.”

A year later we had little money for gas.

         We did have a place to go before putting the Chevy on
blocks for the next eight years. A few years earlier, my dad had
bought his father’s farm near the small Northeast Texas town of
Cushing, twenty difficult miles from Nacogdoches, the county seat.
My mother, who became a school teacher to escape the dreariness of
her own farm life, objected to buying the land, presciently declaring
she would someday have to live on that patch of red dirt surrounded
by pine thickets. Those fears became reality when our family of
three moved into a back-pasture, unpainted house, infested with so
many spiders, bugs, and vermin that it had to be fumigated with
burning sulfur to become marginally livable. For a year or so, my
dad engaged sharecroppers to raise cotton on bottom land that was

6 Photo of 1933 Chevrolet coupe:
http://www.chooseyouritem.com/classics/files/13591500/13591703.html.

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