My grandfather, G.M.C. Massey, grew up in rural East Texas in the latter part of the 19th Century.
His memoirs, which I often feature excerpts from here, offer a personal glimpse into the past.
Here, he talks about how restrictive the school rules were regarding student socializing during school sessions — and how holidays like Christmas provided an opportunity for fun and recreation.
I remember very well when I was a boy in school that we were not allowed by the rules of the school to have dates, go to parties, or have any other kind of divergence from our school work except when the rules were suspended. If it was not a special occasion, that did not happen more than once each month, or on holidays, Christmas holidays were usually two weeks together with the New Year’s Day and we made the most of it when we had that much time. I mean we had a party every night.
This rule caused the grown pupils to seek outlet for our desires of that nature, and of course that led to finding people that we appreciated in the various places that we visited, and sometimes it lead to the union of Families that lived remotely from each other, and I guess that is best.
Every now and then, some of us boys would want to go hunting for O’possums, for coons, or foxes or wild animals — for fun, for meats, or for furs and when we did go out and the dogs jumped a coon or a wild cat we had very little hope of getting in home before daylight. And if we were that late coming in, we just as well be sick as to go to school and have to lay our heads over on the desk and go to sleep. But if we just went out to get an o’possum as soon as we had gotten as many as one for each of us, we would turn in and usually go in by ten or at most eleven o’clock and we usually went hunting as much as once each week.
On one occasion there were only two of us going and when the dogs treed their first possum, It was in a black haw tree and of course we cut it down and when we had caught the possum we went to picking the black haws, and filling up on them, and as we were filling up on them we heard a loud Scream that sounded like a woman in distress. The other boy said that was a panther. Then of course we went to get ready to go home, but at this point, the thing finished up his hideous noise by saying WHO? WHO? And the all our fears were relieved for it was an owl.
We had with us a shot gun, an axe, Lightard for a torch And in fact had everything that was needed to make our trip a success so we went on till we had caught another possum and that was all that we wanted.
But it was a long time before we would tell how bad we had got scared, and what had put the spell on us. Several times after that when we were out we would speak of the incident, and get us a good laugh. But I can tell you right now there was no fun in it on that night till the old owl gave out with that last WHO? WHO? For that was like a dose of belly ache medicine when it begins its work of relief. We felt better already.