141 episodes

Dr. Stephen Sloan of Baylor’s Institute for Oral History teaches us about Waco’s known and unknown past.

Waco History Podcast Rogue Media Network

    • History
    • 4.7 • 43 Ratings

Dr. Stephen Sloan of Baylor’s Institute for Oral History teaches us about Waco’s known and unknown past.

    Living Stories: Getting into Trouble

    Living Stories: Getting into Trouble

    Some of the clearest memories from our youth usually include times we got in trouble.
    Victor Newman of Waco grew up amidst cowboys in West Texas. In 1923, at the age of ten, he came to live at the recently opened Waco State Home. Newman explains how the home reacted to his cowboy ways:
    "Well, every time I turned around, well, somebody would grab me up and give me a spanking because of something that I said. And so finally, well, one man there, he spanked me one day. He said, ‘Do you know why I spanked you?' I says, ‘Yeah, because you're bigger than I am.' He said no. He—but they realized the language I was using was what I had heard all my life out there on the ranch. I didn't know I was saying anything wrong."
    Benny Martinez of Goliad recalls getting caught in his brief life of crime in the 1940s:
    "I remember once, my brother and I were stealing watermelons—and that's something we country boys did. We used to go in the river here by the rail—where the train crossed, and we were naked as a jaybird. We'd go across the river, up the hill, and we'd go down and crawl in the grass, and go in and grab a couple of watermelons. And this man had hundreds of them. And we'd crawl back and get in the river and let them cool off, and then we'd break them open, you know, and we'd eat them. And the old man told my daddy, ‘Your boys are coming over and stealing my watermelons. They think I don't see them, but I see them.' ‘I'll take care of them.'
    "'I don't want you boys going over there and stealing any—' ‘No, sir.' That put an end to that. My father put that strap on me once. One time he whipped me, and that was it. He made a believer out of me. I didn't want no more of that."
    Waco native Helen Geltemeyer describes a scrape she, her youngest brother, and two of his friends got themselves into in the 1930s:
    "One day my brother, oldest brother, had a brand new car—Ford. And I don't know why he left it at home, but Mama had gone to town shopping. And there that car sat, so my brother decided he wanted to go out to the lake, go swimming. That's before the big lake was built."
    Interviewer: "Right, right."
    "I said, ‘If you go, I'll tell on you. You'll have to let me go.' He called Bubby, and he called Allah B. And we picked them up on Twentieth and then right here on Seventeenth. He got his daddy's watch. Away we went out Twenty-fifth. And at Twenty-fifth and Maple, he was turning there, and he—wasn't very smart—we turned over. (laughter) Here I was barefooted with shorts, and I was screaming. I had Bubby's watch. And they said, Helen! Helen! You're stomping me! They let me out first. Bubby said, ‘Where's my daddy's watch?' I had it just aholding on to it. Anyway, we wrecked my brother's car. We finally got somebody to get us home, and my brother left town, and I had to face the consequences. He joined the circus. It had just been here. But he came home. He saw how easy it was. And these boys were good boys. We were just going to go swimming for a little while and come back. That's why we took the watch."
    Stories of getting in trouble when we were little can make good icebreakers, for we all have them in common.

    Benny Martinez remembers when his father found out he and his brother had been taking watermelons from a nearby patch.
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    • 6 min
    Living Stories: Bullies

    Living Stories: Bullies

    Bullies are people who try to harm or intimidate others who they perceive as weaker. It starts in childhood.
    Maggie Langham Washington moved to Waco in the fifth grade and remembers how she was an easy target for bullies:
    "If you were a minister's child that's new in a school, you saw hard time, a real hard time because kids would do things to you just because they felt like you weren't supposed to do anything back to them because you were a minister's—you were preacher's child, preacher's brat. And after a while that got a little old with me. I decided that I wanted to be a regular person."
    Washington recalls a story involving a girl who others had told her was cruel:
    "And we were playing pass ball, and I was a tomboy. I could jump, leap high, and get that ball. So she decided, let me guard her, and I heard her. I trembled in my boots. I kept letting her get the ball, and finally I decided this is just not going to work. So when I knew they were throwing the ball to her, I just stepped in front of her and jumped up and got it, and she hit me. When I realized what was happening, the lady that was supervising the game, Mrs. Bevis, one of the teachers, was tapping me on my shoulder saying, ‘Langham, Langham, that's enough.' So that called for a spanking. I knew that. So it was reported to my homeroom teacher; we were both in the same class. And my homeroom teacher carried me into the cloakroom and she says, ‘Every time I hit something, you holler.' (laughter) And I did. And then when it came time to get Henrietta, every time she hit she needed to holler. So nobody in my class ever knew I didn't get a spanking."
    Interviewer: "Uh-huh. Yours was all dramatics."
    Mary Darden of Waco describes an encounter with a bully in sixth grade in Connecticut that helped shape her passion for social justice:
    "And he was beating the crud out of this kid. I mean, the kid was bleeding, and nobody—everybody was standing around, nobody doing anything about it. I went running in, and I pushed the kid out of the way he was beating up and I got in a fight with him. And I started fighting with him, and he—he hurt me. He—I mean, I had a black eye, I'm sure. And, I mean, my face showed it. I mean, you could tell for a week afterwards I'd been in a fight. But I stood there and fought him until the teacher came out and broke us up. And I realized at that point that I was not probably going to draw a line between my personal safety and, you know, that I would take a stand."
    Bullying shows no signs of dissipating, especially with today's cyberculture that offers even more methods of terrorizing others. Although bullying is often dismissed as a normal part of growing up, it is harmful, and in some cases the effects last a lifetime.

    At Maggie Washington's school, a bully took advantage of a game of pass ball.
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    • 6 min
    Living Stories: Summertime Swimming

    Living Stories: Summertime Swimming

    Swimming is a favorite summer activity in Texas, as it provides respite from sweltering temperatures.
    Charles Armstrong grew up in the Bell's Hill area of Waco and describes where he and other boys would go to cool off:
    "And from Twenty-ninth Street over where the Baylor stadium is now, there was a fence across there, and it wasn't anything but mesquite patch up there where the stadium is. And it had a little—back over there by the railroad track, had a creek come through there, and it was pretty clear water and had swimming hole up there called Little Lake. And we'd go up there and go swimming in Little Lake. And it was—you had to cut across that pasture there by where the stadium is now to get down to it."
    The swimming hole was isolated, and the boys were very informal, as Armstrong explains:
    "If you had some swimming trunks, fine. If you didn't, fine. You could just go in naked, whatever. (laughter) And when a train come along, we all got up and paraded for them as they come by. They'd [be] sitting there with white tablecloths on them tables and little things like we keeps on the table here, little—look like a little lamp there with a candle in it, you know, sitting on a table and people all dressed up in suits and everything. We'd stand out there naked [and] wave at them. (laughter) But we did that—we did that many, many times."
    Alva Stem, former director of Waco Parks and Recreation, remembers the role of swimming in his childhood in Waco:
    "My father worked for the police department as a detective, and they were given a pass to the municipal swimming pool, or ‘the beach,' over on North Fourth Street. This was a season pass to go swimming free, and so my brother and I—my brother Jack and I—always went down to the swimming pool once a day to go swimming. Later on in the years, when I became about twelve years old, I was hired as the basket boy, and the basket boy is a young man that takes the baskets that they had there and they would give to the patrons to put their clothes in when they changed into their bathing suits. Then it was my job to put their baskets in the proper numbers in the proper location in the basket room with the swimming pool, and to give the patrons their basket when they came back."
    John Lott Jr. of Goliad recalls that escaping the heat was sometimes a family affair:
    "Well, we went to the river every summer for about a month: Cousin Henry and Cousin Ella and Virginia Mae, Aunt Helen and Happy and Butch and our family and Aunt Hattie and Atch. And we had tents, and we'd camp down there at the bend, and Cousin Willy even came down and made a swimming suit out of a gunny sack: cut holes in it and put his feet in it and rolled it up and tied it around here. And we had a diving board and a swing. I know we had a—Dad made them a canvas house, partition with canvas, to where women and men could put on their bathing suits."
    Swimming helps make the summers in Texas bearable and more enjoyable. That initial splash every time erases all discomfort from the stifling heat.

    Boys enjoying a swimming hole. (Courtesy of Library of Congress)
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    • 6 min
    Living Stories: Summer Jobs in the 1940s

    Living Stories: Summer Jobs in the 1940s

    An annual tradition for many students and teachers is looking for summer employment. During the 1940s, these jobs were becoming easier to find, with a recovering American economy and the war overseas.
    Jane Martin, former missionary in East Africa, lists a few of the summer jobs that she held in the 1940s to pay her way through Mars Hill College in North Carolina:
    "I worked for the government at the Department of Interior, and I worked for the Department of Navy."
    Interviewer: "In Washington, DC, those things are possible."
    "You know, but you don't say that I—you were sorting mail and things like that. (both laugh) You weren't—yes. I worked one summer for a community program for underprivileged children. I worked for a department store, but I wasn't working in the store; I was in the warehouse. And to my amazement, they came to me one day, and I thought, Oh my, have I done something wrong? They said, Come with us. We want to talk to you about something. And they put me on the loading dock, as a fourteen-year-old, to receive the trucks as they came in. Their concern was—I had a—I was sitting in a little enclosed room. Their concern was that the language would be pretty bad. But when the truckers arrived bringing in the goods for the department store, they see this young teenager, (both laugh) and they—they minded their language."
    Dr. Eugene Jud, former executive director of Caritas in Waco, remembers an encounter he had while teaching in Corpus Christi:
    "At the end of that year, we had a big PTA meeting on the end of the year. A man came up, was a big old guy; name was George Bellows. He said he just wanted to meet the teacher that helped his son become a public speaker. I accepted his comments, and that was fine."
    Jud describes how that meeting helped him in the summer of 1941, when he was looking for a temporary job:
    "Teachers always do a little moonlighting. So I went out to the naval air station. Just everybody would be going out there from all over the country; they—they were applying. So we'd go to the personnel department, and I sat there a long time waiting for my turn. And one of the guys who came in, I said, ‘Who are you waiting for?' And he said, ‘I come—I'm waiting to see George Bellows.' And I said, ‘Who's he?' He said, (laughs) ‘Oh, he's the guy [who] runs this place.' I said, ‘Is he George Bellow Jr.'s dad?' He said, ‘Yeah—that's'—and said, ‘I'm George's good friend.' So I—that gave me an idea. So instead of going and seeing a personnel man or filling out all the forms, well, I went in to see George Bellows. (laughter)
    "I introduced—he remembered me. And he asked what I wanted, and I told him I wanted a summer job. And he just said—he buzzed his little buzzer and called for his personnel director. And he says, ‘Put this man on.' (laughter) The personnel director was very smart. He asked me a question or two, and he said, 'I'll tell you what: you report here tomorrow, and you report in my department. You'll be one of the personnel.' So I became one of the members of the personnel staff."
    As long as a college education is not free and educators are underpaid, many students and teachers will continue to seek out temporary jobs during the summer months.

    Sorting mail in the 1940s.
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    • 5 min
    REWIND: The Waco Tornado

    REWIND: The Waco Tornado

    Originally Aired 06/2019

    In this episode
    In one afternoon, 114 people lost their lives and Downtown Waco’s skyline was forever changed. Eric Ames, Assistant Director for Marketing & Communication for the Baylor University Libraries and ITS, walks us through the day the 1953 tornado touched down. We talk about the damage the storm caused, stories of hope in the aftermath, and ways the tornado’s effects are still felt today.
    You can find Eric’s book on Waco on Amazon, and most places books are found.
    Be sure and follow Waco Walks to learn about other historic walks in town. 
    The photo in the album artwork for this episode was used with permission by the Texas Collection at Baylor University. The Texas Collection is Baylor University's oldest special collections library and serves as the University Archive that collects, preserves, and provides access to materials on the history, heritage and culture of Texas. Learn more on their website.
     About the podcast
    The Waco History Podcast is co-hosted by Randy Lane and Dr. Stephen Sloan. Randy Lane is the great-grandson of Waco architect Roy E. Lane. He’s also a former American Forces Network Radio DJ and is currently the host of the High Performance Leadership and Charity Champions Podcasts. 
    Stephen heads the Oral History Institute at Baylor University. He’s authored several books and created and developed WacoHistory.org, a website and free mobile app for learning more about Waco’s history. 
    Together they’re telling the known and unknown stories of Waco’s past.  
    Find out more at wacohistorypodcast.com.
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    • 1 hr 2 min
    Living Stories: Childhood Memories of Cameron Park

    Living Stories: Childhood Memories of Cameron Park

    Since its dedication in 1910, Waco's Cameron Park has grown from 125 to more than 400 acres, with land gifts from the Cameron family, and has provided children with countless hours of exercise and enjoyment.
    Charlie Turner of Hewitt recalls playing in the park as a young boy in the 1950s and 60s:
    "There were some little wading pools we would go play in, and then, of course, I would get in trouble every now and then because after I got in the wading pool, I'd get back in the dirt by the flowers but had a real good time. And, you know, it was just a great place to play because where I lived, there was no grass in the backyard. So going into a park like Cameron Park, it was like a kid's dream because there were all the trees down near the Pecan Bottoms. There were these big swings that I remember and this merry-go-round and the seesaws, and then there was a climbing ladder and then the monkey bars.
    "Every now and then—I had an old Tonka truck. It was a moving van Tonka truck that I had a string on, and I'd take it with me once in a while and pull it around on the—on the street part that was paved. If I had a ball, I could throw it as hard as I wanted to and not get in trouble because it was in the neighbors' yard. I could play ball; I could hit the ball as hard as I could. Cameron Park was a paradise to me."
    He describes the many adventures the park afforded him:
    "There were these trees there, there was vines growing through the trees, and I remember moss down there—whether it was there or not. As a kid, I remember it. And I remember seeing pictures in books about these forests and all, and so when I'd get in Cameron Park I'd go looking. And here were these forest-like-looking areas that I remembered from reading the books. And I could be in England, or I could be in Germany, or I could just be in the Brazilian jungle, or—so Cameron Park took on a new personality each time. I was in the Amazon one time. I was in Nottingham Woods the next time, the Sheriff pursuing me, and then, trying to get away from the piranhas in the little wading pools and all, you know. I had a—well, we'll say I had a fertile imagination."
    Frank Curre of Waco shares memories of Cameron Park from the 20s and 30s:
    "Proctor Springs. Being able to go down there and get that cold water coming out of that hill and get in that little pool. And we could take watermelons down there in the summer and put them in that cold water and get them good and cool and break them open and eat. They had duck pens with exotic ducks in them for you to visit and a little pool for them to swim in. It was just great to be in the park."
    Curre explains that some of his favorite activities involved the Brazos:
    "Mama used to tell us, ‘You boys don't get into that water down—' talking about the river. And we'd spend hours in the water and come home in the afternoon, and our eyes are bloodshot. And she'd say, ‘Y'all been in that water?' ‘No, ma'am.' And your eyes are bloodshot. (laughter) But we had ropes tied off the trees hanging over the river, and we'd swing into the river. We'd swim from one side to the other. We just had a ball. We'd play piggy-wiggy or something: touch each other and try to swim away and all that stuff. But we had a great time. We loved fishing. We always kept throw lines in the river."
    Today, Cameron Park remains mostly undeveloped and is one of the largest municipal parks in Texas. No matter what new technology and toys come along, nothing will replace exploring and playing in the great outdoors.

    A vintage postcard of Cameron Park in Waco, Texas. It's easy to see how the park could transport Charlie Turner to other places and times. (Photo
    courtesy of The Texas Collection)
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    • 6 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
43 Ratings

43 Ratings

astrosjeff ,

Fascinating local history

Having lived in Waco for nearly 20 years now, I’d like to think I’m not knowledgable about local history than most — and yet, this podcast is regularly delivering both new details on stories I thought I knew, and new stories/subjects I’d never heard at all!

shellythewest ,

A Snobbish Take on Religion and Power

Can’t get past the profound snobbery behind these claims. “Could only happen in America…” like the Windsors and other monarchs haven't spent thousands of years carefully manipulating Brits into thinking they’ve been chosen by god to be hollow figureheads and justify the same sort of violence to colonize the rest of the world. Let’s not throw stones here, UK, especially when your own recent history isn’t so pure.

One only has to visit any British museum to witness the hypocrisy ingrained in such viewpoints.

Nessa1958 ,

Excellent podcast!

I really enjoy this podcast! Having attended Baylor in my youth and having an affection for Waco and its past, this podcast has been very informative and interesting.

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