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Thursday, February 6, 2020

Is that My Baby? ~Sherri Easley

Happy February Everyone! Pull up a chair- you aren't gonna believe this story. 

So, after I published my book, I had this problem- I had used up all my family stories so now what?
This dilemma launched a frantic research project. I love real stories from ‘back in the day’ and was delighted to find several old books about the region in North East Texas where I grew up. These were mostly written by residents who lived before and during the Great Depression and out of print.

I especially love the sense of humor of our ancestors, whether it was tipping outhouses on Halloween or “shivaree” for the newlyweds. This is where they stormed the house a night or two after the wedding, shooting guns and throwing the newly married couple in the pond or hanging her on the clothes line. I came across one prank though that’s hard to top.

Here is an excerpt from one book to give context to the actual prank.  
From “Our Good Old Days” by C.L. Embrey-
Mr. Embrey, who was born in 1902, transcribed his recollections of going to church in the rural area outside of Mr. Pleasant, TX. This was before automobiles and almost everyone was a farmer.

“No country church ever thought about having preaching more than once a month. There was a preaching on Saturday night, Sunday and Sunday night. Brush arbors were built in the summer to hold the big meeting under. The preachers were known for their lung power and how loud they could holler. Out in company, you could spot one of these preachers by his dress. They always had a real sad face too.”
Brush Arbor

From “Blowing in the Wind” by Phillip R. Rutherford- a compilation of several stories from the Roxton and Petty areas near Paris, TX.
Describing an event that happened at Forest Hill in the summer of 1910.

“June had been miserably hot and July promised to be worse. You couldn’t kick a dog out of the shade. Both the cotton and church attendance were drying up all over the county. At Forest Hill, the good Methodist, their boiled shirts and high- necked dresses stained in damp half-moons beneath the arms, vowed something had to be done. If they sweltered through one more evening sermon, they’d be as wilted as their late corn.”

The story goes on to tell how, because of the heat, they decided to have their service in the brush arbor outside. The women left their babies on quilt pallets in the yard while they attended the service, delegating babysitting to an older child.
Two of the boys, who were babysitting, got bored and devised a “stupendous practical joke”. They ran from pallet to pallet and swapped out the smallest of the sleeping babies. After the service, the parents came back and gathered up their children by lantern light and headed home in their wagons.

Things were a mess. The Forest Hill congregation was a large one, scattered down backroads and along creeks for ten miles in every direction. There were dozens of swapped babies, and few recognized the one they had carried home.

“As late as the meeting the following Sunday night, people were still trading children. Dan Hembree of Forest Hill claimed that some of the people finally said to the devil with it and kept the child fate had given them; one baby was much like another.”

What do you think? Was this the mother of all practical jokes?

If you enjoy historical depression era romance with a touch of humor- check out my one and only book - fiction inspired by stories my Mama told me about growing up during the depression.

I would always ask Mama to tell me about the good old days and she would smile sweetly and say "We're living them right now." 

I could use the reviews ;) 

Sherri Easley


  1. Owen Wister used that story or one like it in his classic The Virginian. It was the hero and his friend who did it and the parents often got back to their ranches before they discovered it. They didn't find it funny for sure lol

    1. I see the Virginian was written in 1902- I would bet money that is where the idea came from?

  2. Rain- I had heard it before as well but not in this much detail! I literally can't imagine the horror. ;)

  3. I used to ask my dad to tell stories about his family. He was a generation older than my mom and almost old enough to be my great grandfather. He had great stories about events, pranks, and life in general. I'm sure he's the reason I like Texas history so much. My mom's stories couldn't compare to his. I loved them all.

    1. Aren't they great Caroline? I am totally addicted and these books are pretty old and were written by good old country folk in my area. It does make me think though that we need to write our stories- they too will be lost for my grand children. It doesn't seem like a big deal to us, but it will be for them.

  4. I enjoy Texas history. I have a couple of shelves of Texas books. One is Texas Thirties by Wilhelmina Beane, published by The Naylor Company in San Antonio. Tagline is "Rugged Thirties Edition." It was No. 28 of the print run. Signed by the author with a personal dedication. Stories about life on the great ranches of Texas and significant events with some great photographs. You'd love it. I found it at a yard sale many years ago.

    1. What a great find! Yes I love those. There is so much in these books that we didn't learn in history.


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