It’s hard to imagine, but I knew someone who knew someone who lived through the colonization of Texas, during the battle of the Alamo, Texas statehood (twice), the Civil War and Reconstruction, the first Great Depression (1876), and the taking of Hawaii, the Philippines, and Teddy Roosevelt, both before and after San Juan Hill. That someone knew someone who lived through WWI, the Great Depression (the second one, 1929-1934), WWII, the Civil Rights conflict, heart transplants, men walking on the surface of the moon, and iPods.
Today, December 9, is the 100th birthday of my mother, Emalea, born in 1910 on farm near a frontier town in the Texas Panhandle, who as child met Temple Houston, son of Sam Houston and who, as woman, went on to become a college graduate as a 59 year old widow, a school teacher, playwright, and historian. She is a bridge to American history all the way back to the administration of President Andrew Jackson. Mom didn’t make it to 100. She passed away at 93, alert, her wits about her, happy, and then — she was gone. But, what a legacy! Her stories and her examples made the difference between history being a bunch of names and dates and events on a boring test and stories about what history really is — life that happens to us, one person, date, and event at a time.