In the early 1900’s, society was advancing at a far greater pace then any other time in history. Prior to the invention of radio and television, and only a few years past the invention of the automobile, the country was on the verge of facing difficulties, challenges, struggles and tragedies. It was during this time that on August 4, 1910 Edna Walter was born in Shiner, Texas.
“You gotta be tough to get old,” Walter would say. She would know she has lived through WWI, The Great Depression, WWII, Vietnam, and all the post 9/11 struggles to name a few.
Walter lived the first seven years of her life in Shiner and the family decided to load their belongings on a train while their father, George Ehler, rode a horse and buggy as Edna, her mother Annie, sisters Hattie, Velma, Nola, and brothers Edwin and Herbert drove a car and made their way to Wilson, Texas in 1917.
During the first couple of decades of the 1900’s, it’s easy to imagine Edna Walter in her favorite homemade purple dress socializing and dancing, “Oh, there was lots of dancing,” Walter said. “We danced quite a bit.”
“It [Wilson] was real small. We did, however, have a movie theater at one time and a mercantile where we could buy anything,” she said.
During her childhood, Walter remembers playing baseball, forty-two, and other hand games. She said, however, that they didn’t have much time to play because they spent most of their time working in the fields.
“I probably started picking some cotton at 8 or 9,” Walter said.
“That made them tough,” Melvin Walter, Edna’s son, said. “Working in the fields made them very tough.”
Of course, the families first few years in Wilson would be tougher then anticipated. Walter said they didn’t have much success with their cotton crops. “I know we had some big snow storms,” she said. She also said the flu of 1918 affected most of her family.
One of the people who helped her family through the struggles, Dr. Sam Houston Adams, was the physician at the time in Slaton.
“He was a good man,” Walter said. When Dr. Adams was murdered in 1924 by the father of one of his patients, Walter remembers the tragedy that has left a blemish on the history of Slaton for almost a century. “I felt so sorry that happened,” she said of the murder. “I felt so bad when I heard someone had shot him. He was a good man, a gentle man.”
Walter also remembers the stock market crash of 1929 that launched the Great Depression lasting twelve years. “We lived on the farm and had our own food, it [The Great Depression] didn’t hurt us as much as people who didn’t have gardens,” she said. “All we bought during that time was coffee, sugar and flour. We only got enough to get by with. I had to use it sparingly but we’s was OK.”
In 1933, after years of living on the farm, Edna and friends decided to load a vehicle and take back roads out of town, making their way to Chicago for the Century of Progress International Exposition, the World’s Fair, one of the most elaborate and historical exposition in history
“They had all kinds of things there,” Walter said. “There were lots of things I had never seen.”
In her mid-twenties, Edna was attending the Lutheran Church in Wilson where she played in the Orchestra and met her husband Adolph Walter. At the age of 27, on November 17, 1937, she married Walter. He was 35. The couple would eventually have three children, two boys and one girl, and 7 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. Both sons and all 7 grandchildren attended and graduated from Lubbock – Roosevelt High School.
Edna and Adolph eventually moved to Lubbock where, for three years, she ran a grocery store with her aunt with a restaurant in the back. She said that they sold hamburgers at the restaurant for the price of .06 for one burger or six burgers for a quarter.
In 1939, Walter and her husband moved into the house she still resides in outside of Ransom Canyon. She remembers when soldiers would practice training in the cotton fields surrounding their house during WWII. She remembers watching her children Doris, Melvin and James play on the ice during the great ice storm of 1949. She remembers using coal-burning lanterns before electricity lines were placed in the rural countryside in the 1950’s. She also says that she’s had a lot of good times to remember and the memories still continue.
But, most of all, she remembers being young and dancing.
Dancing in her favorite purple dress.