Corn Silks and Cotton Blossoms: John Goodin – Eureka Gentleman Remembered

By Margaret Montgomery Thomas – Special to the Navarro County Gazette

Corn Silks and Cotton Blossoms

Mr. and Mrs. John Goodin lived on a slight rise along a dry creek on Jones Branch (now County Road 2230) in Eureka. Mr. Goodin was a rather tall, lanky man with thinning gray hair. As a child, I thought of Mr. Goodin as old. Yet, from the first time I remember him until his death, he never seemed to age through the years. I can never recall driving up to his place and not seeing him without a big chew of tobacco in his mouth.

He was a healthy man. You might want to consider some of the ways of his life for yours. He did not own a car – but walked everywhere he went. He walked the mile to the country store for any supplemental supplies needed. Goods would then be placed in a white cloth sack and thrown over his back for the mile trip back home.

Mr. Goodin built his home for $300 and paid $12 an acre for the land where the home was built. Water for the home came from a well and winter heat was from the fireplace using wood he had cut with an axe.

The home had a porch on the south and east side of the house. He slept outside the year round. The cot would be carefully placed summer and winter to either take advantage of the summer southern breeze or to avoid the wind from the north. I can remember going to Don Chandler’s store many times after a very cold night and all the men sitting around the stove “warming, spitting and lying” would be saying, “I’ll bet Mr. Goodin had to reach for another blanket last night!” His grandson Harold shared with me the time Mr. Goodin warned him he had better sleep inside that night as the weatherman had predicted it to be a very cold night. Mr. Goodin did not heed the warning and the next morning when he went inside for breakfast ice had frozen on his beard in the night.

When Mr. Goodin was well into his 70s, he contracted to cut cedar post for my cousin, W.M. to build a new fence on their adjoining property. Mr. Goodin set his price at one half-bit per post. W.M.’s wife replied, “You mean a bit a post?” and he replied, “No, half a bit.” This translates to 6.25 cents per cut and delivered post. These were posts that were cut by hand in Richland Creek bottom, loaded, and hauled by mule and wagon back to their property adjoining his home.

Now Mr. Goodin’s wife, Fannie, never ventured out much and in later years was in extremely poor health while Mr. Goodin remained in excellent health.

On Saturday afternoon after all the chores had been done with Miss Fannie feeling exceptionally low, Mr. Goodin would be thinking about the Saturday night dance just two places over from this home on Highway 287. I cannot attest it is true, but others have told Mr. Goodin would give his wife her evening medicine a little early many Saturday night along with a rest pill to insure she not be restless while he ventured over across his pasture and neighbor W.M.’s to enjoy a little music at the weekly dance.

W.M. shared he would walk through their pasture in his work boots, carrying his Sunday shoes. When he got to the property line fence by Highway 287, he would stop, remove his work boots, and put on the Sunday shoes. He left the boots there by the fence and crossed the highway to the dance. He loved to jig dance and he was always given a special time on the floor to perform his jig.

Mr. Goodin passed away in March 1973 at the age of 92. The home where he and Miss Fannie lived for many years is now gone. His grandchildren and great-grandchildren are now enjoying life on the Goodin Home Place.

Every spring when I see the peach trees begin to bloom, I remember him and the peach trees that once lined the country road on his property. I remember one of Eureka’s kindest men. A trustworthy and pleasant man ~ a true Gentleman. A man who helped influence me in the positive ways of life.

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