Upper Floor Display Area
The upper display area. Click image to enlarge and see a slide show of some details.
The old wooden folding table is a cooling table from the late eighteen hundreds. Blocks of ice where placed underneath it. The corpse on top was kept cool by the ice in hot summer months.
This is a cinderblock down there on the floor. It comes from Jimmy’s Barbecue. When I showed a dance competition advertisement for Jimmy’s place to Billy Cotton, a friend of mine, he said: “The building is still down there.”
I said: “Oh, I didn’t know.”
“If you are coming from Texas, from the south, it is easy to see when the leaves are down from the trees.”
There is a lot of brush and scrubs around there, but one still can see that cinderblock building, the roof is coming off. Billy brought the block from there, and the piece of wood. I painted “No whites” on another board and tried to make it look old, like it is weather worn.
At one time there were a lot of black people here, down at the railroad tracks, on the south side of town. I did not know about the large black population until my freshman year in high school. A friend of mine, who is a few years older than me, has a good memory and told me about it. Then I found the newspaper article that mentioned a place called Jimmie’s Pit. I asked my friend if he knew anything about it. He laughed real big and said: “Yes, that was Jimmie’s Barbecue. My dad told me that if I would catch a big enough turtle, Jimmie would make soup out of it for me.”
So every day after school he went fishing and finally caught a turtle big enough in the tank. His father brought it down to Jimmie’s place and it was the best turtle soup they ever had, my friend told me.
Normally, white people where not able to get in there. They just had that one day, when a dance competition with prices happened. But after the dance was over they were not welcome any longer.
During that time, a lot of houses had small cabins built for colored people who worked for the white person in the yard or house, wherever needed. There are still many of the little buildings in the yards of larger homes. The people living there were not slaves, they were paid and had their own little community with a school and a church. I asked the owner of the land where that school was if I could prowl through the old house.
He said: “Laura, it’s falling in. You get yourself hurt if you go in there.”
And I said: “ Well, that’s one of my passions: to prowl around in old buildings.”
I got several things out of there.
In the corner opposite is a baby bed made from wooden thread spools. I have hundreds, maybe thousands of these spools. A friend’s grandmother has made that bed and she painted all the spools. It was for her daughter’s first child. She apparently wanted a little girl, so she painted it pink. But she had three boys, never a girl.
That coffin is one of my favorites. It is the oldest one in here, probably from the twenties. Mr. Grantham kept it, because he wanted to save it.
Those are maps I got from the architect’s office of the county. They show this town and Waurika.
I was always fascinated with George Washington und Abraham Lincoln. In my school, the fourth to the eighth grade were in one room, and we had one teacher. In that room, large portraits of George and Abraham were on the walls. I studied those pictures every day. I did not know Main Street was named after George Washington until I bought this building.