Biography of Louis Wadsworth
Enrollee, Company 2896, Camp White Rock Lake, Dallas, TX
I was in C.C.C. camp 2896 at White Rock Lake in Dallas Texas for 6 months beginning in October 1940. A friend (Monroe Pitts) and I signed up with the intention of Going to Arizona or Colorado. We spent Our first night at the camp in Waxahachie texas. then on to Dallas where I found an old school friend (Douglas Winkle) stationed there. He convinced us that Dallas was the best possible place we could be, so thats as far west as our adventure took us!
The Long Road Home
It was cold in Dallas that night. In fact it was very cold. I was stationed at C.C.C. camp 2896 on White Rock Lake off Garland Road in N.E. Dallas. As usual my pockets held hardly any money. We earned $30.00 per month plus meals & a bed. Of that money I sent 24 dollars home & kept six for misc. expenses, toothpaste, candy bars, cigarettes, movies etc. This was in 1940 and these dollar amounts probably sound strange to those of todays generation. You could take in a movie for ten or fifteen cents, buy "ready-roll" cigarettes for thirteen cents a pack! I was seventeen years old at this time and my barracks mates ranged from this age to twenty-two years.
Any way a wave of homesickness washed over me & I felt I just had to go home for the weekend (it was Friday night) I went through my pockets and trunk and found I had the sum of one dime to finance my trip. This was probably near the end of the month, as we were paid on the first-of-month and we managed to "blow" our pay within two or three days and then were broke till next payday!
All right! I had ten cents & that would have to suffice. I got my stuff, told my buddies Id see them for bed check Sunday night and walked up to Garland Road where I boarded a streetcar, which for ten cents carried me across town to Lancaster Road near the Veterans Hospital. So far, so good. Alighting from the streetcar, a blast of icy wind struck me letting me know just how cold it was!
I immediately put my thumb to use and, lo and behold almost instantly a car pulled over. "Where ya goin, buddy?" the driver asked.
"Waxahachie" I answered, getting in the car.
"Good, Im headed for Waco" he said whipping back into traffic
Well, Ill tell you, I realized at once he was drinking. In fact he was downright drunk, so I asked to get out at the next intersection, claiming that was as far as I was going. " I thought you wanted to go to Waxahachie" He said a bit angrily.
"No, Wattlesky Street" I told him, hurriedly getting out of his car.
Well, there went my ride. Now all I had to do was catch another before I froze to death!
I put my thumb back into action. Man, it was cold and every time a vehicle would pass a cold blast would envelop me. Especially from the big trucks.
At last, when I thought I could stand it no longer, I decided to walk to the next intersection hoping walking would warm me up a bit. It didnt seem to help much but it didnt hurt anything. After arriving at the next intersection I went through the same routine. No luck but I was almost sure the next car would pull over for me.
I have hitched many a ride both before and since that night and was always quite lucky at it, but not that night! I repeated the block at a time routine a few more times before I decided to just keep walking, always putting my thumb in action each time a vehicle approached.
Although this was the main Dallas Waco highway there was much less traffic on the road, especially at night back in those days. Sometimes minutes would pass between one vehicle and the next.
Well I walked and then I walked some more. I passed through Lancaster, then Sterrett. Some time after going through Sterrett I discovered a car on its side in the road ditch. I would have sworn it was the drunks car I had been in and out of earlier but couldnt be sure. If, it was, I was glad I hadnt stayed with him.
After much more walking I arrived in Waxahachie! I stopped at Ike Teagues Service station where US77 crossed US287 to warm up a little and there I saw my drunk buddy again. It was his car I had seen. Someone was picking him up to take him on home. He claimed he wasnt hurt bad but I had my doubts about that. He was talking big but acting otherwise if you know what I mean.
After thawing out a bit I decided to head on home. It was only about seven more miles now. So I took off out 287, past Hillcrest Cemetery, turned off on the Mountain Peak road & crossed the bridge over Waxahachie creek. Then I crossed the RR tracks up a hill and down going on for a mile or maybe two, until suddenly ..
"WHATS THAT?" Suddenly my feet hit a rough spot. I had gone to sleep walking, turned around and was crossing the RR tracks going the opposite direction! Dont know how far I walked after going to sleep before I changed directions. I got headed in the right direction and took off again. Sure enough before long I woke up headed the wrong way again. Oh, my aching feet! I started walking again and just about good daylight I arrived at the home place just as the family was sitting down for breakfast, which I proceeded to do also before heading for my bed and some much needed sleep and rest.
Ah, time marches on! I stopped by the old place this past summer and it Is in a bad state of disrepair. Still, one of my first thoughts as I gazed upon it was how wonderful it looked to me that long-ago morning as I Came to the end of MY LONG Walk Home!
----- Louis Wadsworth
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