Mattie's Corner: Why Babe Ruth wore a cabbage leaf under his baseball cap

Mattie discusses the measles epidemic of 1918 and more...

EDITOR'S NOTE: Longtime newspaper columnist and radio personality Mattie Dellinger wrote “Mattie's Party Line” column for years in The Light and Champion and other newspapers. She passed away May 28, 2013, but reprints of her columns are being made possible with the help of Mattie's daughter, Dixie Dellinger. This is an installment of the online version of Mattie's columns — “Mattie's Corner.” This week's column focuses on the period around the week of August 27, 2004.

  Clarence Samford was Shelby County Judge in the late 1920's and 1930's. Judge Samford had only one arm but drove his car and managed as if he had two arms.

  I didn't know how he lost his arm until several years ago when Maurice Stack told me he had the arm cut off in a saw mill accident in the Short Community. 

  His wife was the former Polly Ford a Center telephone operator.  The family lived on Shelbyville Street in a big white frame house, later the site of the Buck Ballard home. The two Samford sons were Clarence Ford and Ben.

  I was in high school in the late 1920's  when Mr. Samford would be driving to his County Judge's office.  He never passed a school child who was walking. We would pile into the car and others would hang on to the fenders.

  It was during his administration in the 1930's that he was able, through government loans, to get the inner square paved by the W.P.A. laborers. It didn't cost the county any money.

  After leaving office, Judge Samford built the Samford Tourist Courts and a filling station on Nacogdoches Street. The building is now a health food store.

  Judge Samford's mother was Willie Ann Bridges.  many of us remember her.  She was first cousin to all the older Bridges, Like Dock Bridges, Alf Bridges, Allie Bridges, Lydia Ann Bridges McLendon (my grandmother),Marshall Bridges and others.


   Compulsory attendance in Shelby County schools began in November 1916.  Attendance officers were hired to round up students who were out of school.  They were paid $2.00 a day and two of the officers that we have records of were P.L. Hooper and M.W. Shepherd.

  In February 1918 there was an epidemic of measles throughout the county and the services of the attendance officers were not needed.  The epidemic of measles must have lasted a long time.

  My sister Lucy started to school that fall and caught measles from classmates.  However, I didn't get the measles until 1919. I was 8 years old. I can remember how sick I was. I also had pneumonia along with the measles and almost died.  The room had to be in complete darkness as it was thought the child would go blind if they saw a  light while having measles.

  Mama used sheets to help keep the light out of the windows.  Others in later years said their mothers used quilts and bedspreads to help keep the room dark.

  There were two kinds of measles, red measles and German measles which they claimed were brought in from Germany by our World War I soldiers.

  Many Shelby County schools were shut down on account of the measles. 

  Later there were cases of chicken pox, whooping cough, seven year itch and mumps.

  In 1929 all the school students had to have a vaccination for small pox. Several in Center died from the vaccination. I had the mumps in both jaws during my senior year that year but I only missed a few days of school.


  K.C. and Collette Metcalf bought the Jim and Eddie Booth home. They had it moved to their home place between Campti and Sardis and plan to restore the house and live in it.  They own a feed business on Loop 500.The new police station is now being built on this lot. 


  Babe Ruth wore a cabbage leaf under his baseball cap to keep cool, changing the cabbage leaf every two innings.


  Records show that the first cotton gin in Texas was built in 1822 right here in Shelby County by John Cartwright. That was 28 years after Eli Whitney patented his Cotton Engine.

  By 1914, there were over 4,000 gins in Texas. But by 1976 only 130 counties in Texas were operating gins.

  I wonder how many cotton gins are left in Texas now.




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