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December 2009 Letters

TCP Talk

Letters and comments from our readers

Paying Tribute to Elmer Kelton
Thanks for the tribute to author Elmer Kelton by Jeff Tietz in the October 2009 issue. One of the great thrills I have had as a freelance writer was having lunch one day in Boerne with Elmer and Ann Kelton. We talked about the beautiful Salzkammergut region of Austria, where Mrs. Kelton grew up and met her husband during World War II, and afterward how they lived in a little trailer while he studied journalism at the University of Texas. Mr. Kelton also mentioned that he worked at The Daily Texan there and remembered his own thrill of interviewing the popular country singer Eddy Arnold.

Apart from being an extraordinary writer, Elmer Kelton (who died on August 22 at the age of 83) was a gracious and unpretentious human being.

Ron Hunka, Pedernales Electric Cooperative

Nuts About Pecan Story
I loved the article about Texas pecans (“Pick of the Crop,” October 2009) and will never complain about the price of pecans again … and the photo of pecan pie was just delicious!

The story brought back memories from the ’30s of a little girl sitting like a little bird at the feet of her grandpa, waiting, mouth watering, as he carefully carved each end of a pecan, slit it down the side and pulled out two perfect nuts—he gave me one and kept the other for himself. It was a wonderful communion between two souls as we savored our pecans.

My husband, Jack, and I love your magazine, especially the stories of olden times, and the recipes are great! We also appreciate our electricity from Magic Valley Electric Cooperative. We never lost power while we endured Hurricane Dolly last year in our home south of San Benito.

Oma Lee and Jack Van Heel, Magic Valley Electric Cooperative

Fighting the Flu
The Forgotten Pandemic,” the article on the 1918 flu pandemic that ran in the August 2009 issue, was of special interest to our family. My mother, Ottie Lee Hargis Childs, was 10 years old in the fall of 1918. She lived in rural East Texas with her parents, Roy and Annie Hargis (who was pregnant) and her siblings, Ruby Mae (8), Joe Frank (6), Myrtie Louise (4) and William Lake (2). All of the family had the flu except Ottie Lee. Because of the fear of the disease, no one would come in to help, but the neighbors chopped wood and milked the cow, leaving food and wood on the porch for the family. Ottie Lee became the family’s nurse, laundress, cook and caretaker until everyone recovered. That experience was the foundation for the rest of her life of caring for her family and others, until her death in 1999 at the age of 91.

Note: Later, three more children were added to the family—Mary Serena, Annie Royce and Ross Wilton. Myrtie Louise Hargis Spence, the last of the children to survive the flu, is now 95 and lives in Hurst. Their youngest sister, Annie Royce Hargis Pittman, lives in College Station where she is a member of Bryan Texas Utilities.

Gloria Childs Johnson, Bryan Texas Utilities