Wednesday, December 20, 2017


Elizabeth Parthenia Matlock (left) Martin Hlnes Matlock (right)
In a column that appeared regularly in the Bossier Banner-Progress during the 1970s Elizabeth Matlock Wise shared her memories of growing up in Bossier Parish.

In the January 1, 1976 issue of the paper, she wrote “My sisters have warned me not to air the family skeletons supposedly locked in the closets. I am not aware of any that would startle anyone. I’ll admit that I have been told my great grandfather Matlock owned a home in Montgomery, Alabama and that he killed a man and left in the night time, left valuable property behind and carried only his family. As I don’t even remember him, he probably died before I was born. It is possible, anyone only had to cross from one state to another and the law could not bother them at that time.”

“There [have] been more changes in the world, the way people live and rear children, in this 19th Century; it seems like a different country from what I was born and reared in. I was taught to respect and obey my parents, and certainly to work. Most children of today, their parents obey them, and it’s an insult to ask them to do anything pertaining to manual labor.”

“My parents have been gone for many, many years, but I love and honor their memory. I am glad they were my parents, though they left no marble statues and their names are not inscribed in any halls of fame. [I have] hope my children can say the same of me after my passing.”

“What is wrong with our country or Government? We read in history how Abe Lincoln, our 16th President, was so poor he worked arithmetic problems with charcoal on the back of a shovel and would walk miles for a book to read. Why does it take thousands of dollars for anyone to run for office now? A poor man could not possible be president now. Why does the government tell us what we can plant and what we can’t?”

“Still they say this United States of ours is the best country in the world, that we have more freedom here, but it seems to me we are losing our freedoms very fast and if the Federal Government doesn’t stop going in debt, we will soon lose the country itself.”

“I remember when 25 pounds of corn meal cost 25 cents. I paid $1.15 for 5 pounds last week. I also remember when we shelled our corn and carried it to a grist mill and had our own meal ground [by] Mr. Sam Goodwin, who lived at Red Land and had the last grist mill I know about.”

“I remember when it was a treat for my family to Plain Dealing and latter to Springhill and see a picture show every week or so, and how much we appreciated our first television set.”

“I also remember when we could send a letter anywhere in the United States for 2 cents.”

 “I remember my daddy’s old Model T Ford car in which we first began to make trips to Shreveport. It was cranked by hand and it kicked like a mule sometimes, and had to be continuously supplied with water. That must have been about 1915.”

“The world is full of turmoil now, with rotten politics, air pollution, inflation, high prices, etc.”

“But we have always had problems. I remember when my husband sold cotton for 3 cents per pound and could hardly find anyone to buy it at that price back in the depression years.”

“We are beginning a new year and regardless of all the problems, let’s hope for a year of health and happiness for everyone.”

Born in 1899, Elizabeth Matlock Wise died in 1981, probably not realizing that more than 4 decades later, many of the same problems would still plague the United States. To find out more, visit the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center.

By: Ann Middleton

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