Escaping the cold weather

Published 10:33 am Sunday, January 12, 2014

These cold winds and freezing temperatures are a reminder of how some escaped from the cold years ago. There was a real popular campground in south Texas in a small town named Pharr. Every year at midnight on Dec. 31 they had a big dance with a big group of participants. A lot of these folks came from Michigan, Minnesota, Texas and many other states. We belonged to a camping club, and it was one of their spots to visit. It was always warm there, and where we lived in north Alabama the temperature would often be in the low 20s during that time of year. In Pharr it would be in the 50s and even 70s. There were some big fields there where cabbage, rice and a lot of other things were grown. The fields had furrow trenches down between the rows of vegetables and each furrow had a gate between the trench and the main water trough. When the farmers thought a section needed watering they would go along and open the gates and the water would fill the furrows between the rows.

A lot of other fields had rows of orange trees, and the owners sold a lot of oranges every year. Some of the neighboring towns had sights a lot of people came to see, like the big 50-foot palm trees. One year when everyone began to gather in that area to spend the winter months it was a big surprise to see that a freeze had come through and the palm trees were dead. Most of the orange trees were also killed by the freeze, and it left some real big areas that were just open fields with nothing growing. When everyone came the next year they found that the owner of one big field had converted many acres into a campground. Several campgrounds were located in the small towns nearby, but the one big one in Pharr was the favorite for most campers, especially square dancers. Different callers came every so often and one couple came and taught round dancing, where you danced with your regular partner.

The square dance caller would call a dance that he had taught in class time and then call what was called a singing call, with real pretty music. In square dancing you changed partners several times during the two calls and then the round dance cuer would call a couple of dances where you danced regular ballroom dances with your regular partner. Everyone had a big time, and the opening dance on New Year’s Eve was the starter everyone tried to get there in time to participate.

A church service was held in the dance hall every Sunday morning, and you had to get there early to get a seat. Each year the campground workers helped organize a choir that worked the whole season and did a great job.

The main campground in Pharr would usually be full in the first part of January. Most of the visitors stayed until March or April, and the cold weather was usually gone back where they all lived. All the motor homes and other campers would need to fill up with gasoline before they left, and it was a common practice for the price of the gasoline to go up 20 to 30 cents about that time. Some of us learned to fill up in February and beat the price jump.

This small town more or less depended on the visitors and the locals were very friendly and helpful to everyone. The area had some very good shopping places. One small town nearby advertised that they made the best hamburgers in Texas, and many people went every week and tried them out, and they were very good. It was an enjoyable time for all the visitors, especially when the nightly news showed the cold weather temperatures in our home states.

Living in a motor home or camper was an enjoyable way to spend time after retirement. We were all thankful for our time and thanked the Lord for His help.

May He bless you all today.