Friday, February 13, 2009

A Centennial Plus 10 Memorial

My Grandfather Wilcoxen was a more shadowy presence in my childhood. We did not see as much of him since they lived in East Texas and we were in Central Texas. We would make the trip to see my paternal grandparents two or three times a year, a drive of 6 to 7 hours each way. Most of my memories of those trips involve holiday festivities or antiquing forays around the area. My grandmother is ever present in the memories of those years, but I can't remember my grandfather taking an active part. He was there in the background, watching television or reading the paper, or tinkering with his latest building project.

I regret that I never got to know Grandpa Wilcoxen well. Even after an extended visit to their home when I was 9 years old and stayed with them for 6 weeks that summer, I returned home with very little additional knowledge of the man. He was a quiet man, with not much to say. Even when my brother went through a toy soldier phase and had left his troops strung across the floor and my grandfather stepped barefooted on their little plastic bodies, a pained grunt was his only comment. I never heard him raise his voice.

My grandparents in their courtin' days, in the mid 1920s.

The Arthur Wilcoxen family, in the early 1940s.

Arthur worked in the oil fields, an employee of Superior Oil Company. When his children were little, the family lived in Tomball, and in 1949 his job took him to Gladewater where he lived the remainder of his life.

Arthur in his "Hoss" hat.

The opportunity to get to know him better was lost, thanks to a stroke he suffered when I was in my teens. He was to live several years afterwards, but the stroke had damaged his body and his mind irreparably. He remembered me, but as a little girl. The chance to know me as a woman was not to be.

Me and Grandpa, about 1955.

I think my grandfather was a good person. He was kind to me, soft-spoken, went to church faithfully, and if he had a red-head's temper I never saw evidence of it. He is responsible for my "Yankee" half. Born in Perrysville, Indiana, 110 years ago yesterday, he moved to Texas with his parents when he was a young man.

Grandpa, I hardly knew you. But I miss you.

Arthur John Wilcoxen
February 12, 1899 - January 2, 1976


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