High points from El Camino Real

by Chris Davis

Folks along El Camino Real have jumped head first into a new decade, and I’m still wondering what happened to the ‘70s. It’s been 20 years since we all prepared for the world’s end with the coming of Y2K in 2000. It’s 2020, I’m still here and in fact there is more of me now than there was then.
I took a few weeks off to let my brain rest, but now I’m back and ready to give you your eight bits’ worth of news. Hopefully I’ll be able to come up with something. Maybe I’ll have a 2020 vision, I’ve always heard that 2020 vision was good.

It’s always sad to lose a loved one, but it seems even harder at Christmas time. We lost two special ladies this Christmas. Both of them lived long wonderful lives and I was honored to call them both my friends.

Mary Ann Stribling Brittain left us on Dec. 20. She was the daughter of Bob and Edith Stribling. Mary Ann was 95 years old. Standing in the Alto City Cemetery on the day after Christmas saying good-bye to such a special lady at the age of 95 brought back so many wonderful memories of her and her family.

I loved her mother, Mrs. Edith Stribling, when I lived across the road from her as a little boy. I would go over and knock on her door and she would give me cookies, play with me, and there was a tree house that I thought was the most wonderful thing in the world.

The Striblings were a special family that were much loved in our little town. Mary Ann represented Alto at the 1941 Jacksonville Tomato Festival as our Tomato Princess. She was escorted by the boy across the street from her house -- who was to be her future husband Ben Brittain. Ben went off to fight in World War II and was shot down over Germany. He was a prisoner of war for 18 months and when he returned home they married in her parents living room.

After the funeral, I was helping Jay Anna put up Christmas decorations and I came across a letter Edith Stribling had written me that I cherish. Tucked inside that envelope was another letter written by Mary Ann that I hadn’t noticed, it brought tears to my eyes.
“Alto, my hometown and how good it was to ‘go back home again.’ “There is no place like the warmth and love of the people in Alto. Everywhere I went there were those who gave me a hug, and I ate it up. I’ve said many time -- I’ve had the best of both worlds, small town and large city, and for sure if I had to choose Alto would win every time. You care about your people, and it shows in so many ways. I wouldn’t trade growing up there for anything.”
I don’t think Alto would have been nearly as special if it hadn’t have been for the influence that the Stribling family had on our lives. Please keep Mary Ann’s daughter, Georgeann Brittain Crawford and all the rest of her family and friends in your prayers as they celebrate the life of this special lady. A memorial service for Mary Ann is being held at White Rock Methodist Church in Dallas on Jan. 11 at 10 a.m.

On Dec. 30 we said good-bye to Mae Gean Pettit. She was 95 years old. Mae Gean was a sweet, soft spoken lady that I have known for many years. I’ve been going to A. Frank Smith United Methodist Church all my life and for as long as I can remember Mae Gean Pettit and Bob Pettit sat in the same place a few rows back from us. She had a love for history and had written two books. I think our mutual love of history is one of the things that made me like to visit with Mae Gean so much.

She lived alongside El Camino Real for many years and I just don’t think you can live along this old road and not love its history. She had a long wonderful life and leaves behind lots of people that will cherish their memories of her.

Please keep her son Loren and the rest of the family in your prayers as they mourn her passing.
Tom and Linda Ball celebrated 50 years of marriage on Dec. 14.
Tom met Linda in 1968 when she was going to school in Austin and working at the Texas Department of Public Safety headquarters. Tom was a highway patrolman working the World Hemisphere in San Antonio.

He then got picked to the elite assignment of driving Gov. John Connally. This must have impressed Linda because she latched on to him. Their children Little Tom and Kim loaded Tom and Linda in a limousine and carried them to Tyler to celebrate their big day. This was Tom’s first ride in a limo. The paper isn’t long enough to tell all of the Tom and Linda stories that I’ve heard over the years. Great memories are what life is made of, and I’m hoping to hear lots more of those stories.
Happy golden anniversary to two of my favorites, Tom and Linda Ball!

The Alto Buyers Group will be hosting their annual chili cook-off supper and dessert auction on Saturday, Jan. 11, at the Alto Volunteer Fire Department. Come out to enjoy some great chili for a low price that includes drinks, crackers, chips, and all the rest of the fixin’s for a good chili supper. The dessert auction will follow the supper.

If you are planning on entering your chili in the contest you need to make enough to feed 20 people. The dessert auction is great fun with lots of wonderful desserts. All proceeds go to help our FFA, Junior FFA and 4H kids with their projects at the County Show. This is fun you don’t want to miss, so be sure and mark your calendar.

We are barely a month away from potato planting time and I bet some of you don’t even have your Christmas decorations put up yet. We don’t know what 2020 holds for us but we know the good Lord helped us get through 2019, and I don’t think He has said anything about giving up on us.

In the words of Ms. Bessie Parker, “It’s just life and we got it to live.”
I can’t write this column without your help, so if you’ve got something that needs telling please let me know about it. I’ll see ya next week! And remember, The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written.