Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Judge’

Eugenia Hunt’s advice on having a happy marriage

September 10th, 2017 Comments off

[From Eugenia’s steno pad dated November 2, 1952. The photo is from the 1940s ~ Sperry Hunt]

Judge Hunt and Jeana 40sRestaurant

Marriage is a  remarkable institution. It’s full of more fun and trouble that you can imagine. But if you make up your mind to have more fun, you’ll have less trouble.

Make it your business to keep him happy and you know what[?] He’ll make you happy. Worry him good and plenty and you’ll reap your reward.

That’s my best advice.

 

[Click below for scan.]

Jeana Advice on Marriage

 

 

The Judge, Children and the Elbow Story

August 25th, 2017 2 comments
Lalu and her father at St. Anne's in Houston (c. 1940)

Lalu and her father at St. Anne’s in Houston (c. 1940)

Happy Birthday to my father Judge Hunt who was born on August 25, 1903.

Our father adored children.  Every kid who remembers him has a story. (If you do, please leave one as a comment.)  My dad would often engage one sitting at a nearby table. You can’t do this any more, but many times he handed a stick of gum to a passing tyke. His love of children and playing cards would sometimes lead him to engage older ones in a round of poker or gin rummy.

One of his favorite pastimes was leading a kid on with a card trick, a joke or a story.  My favorite was his tale about kissing his elbow. I watched him do this with dozens of two or three-year-olds. Here’s how it went:

Dad would sidle up to the child who was in the middle of say… eating pancakes.

“When I was a little girl,” he would say. “I put honey on my pancakes.”

The kid would freeze mid-bite, squint up at him and state the obvious with utter conviction. “You weren’t a girl,” she would say.

Dad would nod and continue. “When I was a little girl, I would pour so much honey on my pancakes there wouldn’t be any left for anybody else.”

The kid would roll her eyes, heave a heavy sigh and say, “You were a boy, not a girl.”

Dad would nod again and march on with his pancake story.

Exasperated, the victim would invariably pose the obvious question, “If you were a girl, how come you’re a  boy now?”

“I kissed my elbow and turned into a boy,” he would say as though everyone knew this is how gender was redetermined. He would then complete his pancake elaboration and turn away.

Onlookers following the ruse would then observe the child scowl as if deeply in thought.  After a moment’s contemplation she would seize her elbow and try to draw it to her lips, then stop and shake her head.

As to whether she chose not to kiss her elbow because she couldn’t or shouldn’t was left to question.

 

 

 

Happy Father’s Day

June 18th, 2017 Comments off
Wilmer Eugenia Sperry Brady and Young Roy 1960 or so

Wilmer, Eugenia and Sperry with young Brady, and Roy circa 1960.

Wilmer Brady Hunt, my dad, was an avid sportsman, as was his father Wilmer Sperry Hunt. Dad told me that in 1910 or so, Grandpa shot as many ducks as he could carry home, somewhere in what is now the Montrose section of Houston. In the early 1900’s Grandpa bought – or accepted as a legal fee – 2200 acres of dense forest near Danciger, Texas. Dad and Grandpa hunted there in the ’20s. My brother Grainger and Dad hunted there in the ’50s mostly. Dad and I were there in the ’60s after Grainger went off to university.

My most vivid memories of hunting with him were on days when we’d arise at 3:45 AM and drive through a dark, ocean of fog so thick you could see nothing beyond the hood of our car. Had we encountered a stalled vehicle or a cow, we would have died instantly, as would have anyone behind us. I was absolutely terrified. Dad whistled “Sweet Georgia Brown.” I must have been clutching the seat, for he occasionally patted my leg reassuringly.

The drive was about ninety minutes. We arrived in the dark. I opened the padlock on the gate by the light of the car. It was cold by Texas standards. Forty-five degrees or so, which seemed frigid to me then. We drove down a shell road that crunched beneath our tires to a narrow clearing in the forest. We were met by a group of men and women gathered in the flickering shadows around a campfire. These people were from the coastal area around Freeport and had a hunting lease with us.  An older man named Red seemed to be the leader.  His wife, I believe, was named Betty. Wonderful hosts, they fed us coffee, biscuits and pan-fried squirrel and venison – all delicious.

Dad and I never shot anything there. We were there to hunt deer only. We did shoot, clean and eat many a dove, duck and quail shot elsewhere though. At the time I thought we hunted because my dad was eager to do so. Years later, after my father passed, my mother told me he rarely wanted to go. When he was in his forties, he certainly did. But at sixty, not so much. Mom said she sometimes had to urge him to go. I know now, he took me so I could know what he had experienced with his father, who probably didn’t want to go in later life either – as I would not now.

My son Christopher Austin Sperry Hunt, and I didn’t hunt. I never really had a real passion for it. We did get our black belts together and saw hundreds of movies, shoulder-to-shoulder laughing in the dark. Now he has movie nights at home on Mondays with his two girls. He takes them to karate and dance classes, and for hikes to the woods, mountains and beaches. Someday he’ll feel too tired to go but will anyway because he loves them, and he’s their dad. And so the world turns.

Happy Fathers Day, everyone!
See a Companion Story

“When you are my age you will understand.”

January 26th, 2017 Comments off

Evinrude Motor

Good stories have clear characterization, character being defines as desire, drive, ability, compassion and perspective all of which change over a lifetime.  Here’s a simple example of those changes from my own family history. I’ve been thinking about this lately as I ponder my upcoming knee replacement.

Philo Howard, my mother’s brother, was  a frank, funny, energetic man. At sixteen, he ran away to Canada from his home in Houston. There, he lied about his age and joined the Canadian Royal Air Force to fight in WWII, which the US had not yet entered. His whereabouts were determined by my dad’s mother who read an article in the Houston paper listing Texas volunteers. Uncle Philo was returned to the bosom of his family forthwith. Several years later he enlisted in  the American Air Corps and flew P-51s over Europe.

My family had a party in Houston in 2003 to celebrate what would have been my late father’s 100th birthday. My uncle, who recently had his pacemaker replaced, couldn’t make the party. He emailed me this tribute to be read at the celebration. My dad, Judge Wilmer Hunt, was nearly twenty-years his senior. To his great sorrow he was denied military service due to his age,  very flat feet and a knee injured by my mother. (That’s another story.) The setting of Philo’s account is the rich farmland of eastern Texas in the 50’s. By prison, my uncle was referring to a pea farm, as they were called back then. They were minimum security prisons where inmates grew food for the prison system.

Wilmer was my favorite, because he liked to fish and many times took me along. One time he took me to Kemah and we got in a small skiff and towed [it] out to the middle of the bay for four hours. I was always a little hyper, and I almost jumped out of the boat after about an hour. Wilmer seeing this, started telling me stories. As I remember, this calmed me down a bit and I caught some fish.

Being a Judge he had access to a prison and one near Brazoria had a great fishing pond. He and I went there about three times. It seemed I always ended up having  to carry a small Outboard motor from the parking lot to the lake each time. I asked him why, and he said “when you are my age you will understand.”

Eugenia and Wilmer’s First House at 2920 San Felipe, Houston

November 27th, 2016 Comments off

judge-and-jeanas-house-1933-to-1945-was-at-or-near-3315-san-felipe-st2

Judge Wilmer Hunt bought this house for his bride, Jeana.

The judge claimed that when he showed her the living room, she said, “So, this is where we will entertain our guests.”

He nodded and took her into the dining room.

She said, “So, this is where we will eat our dinner.”

He nodded and took her into the kitchen.

She frowned and asked, “What happens in here?”

 

Judge Wilmer Hunt sat on the board of Houston’s first African-American hospital

November 25th, 2016 Comments off

riverside-general

In the early to mid-1960’s my father, Judge Wilmer Brady Hunt sat on the board of Riverside General, Houston’s first African-American hospital.  Here is an article on the institution, which finally closed in 2014. He took me there on a visit in the summer of 1963.
Sperry Hunt

The article reads:

The Houston Negro Hospital was created in 1926 when the earlier black Union-Jeramiah Hospital was no longer capable of accommodating the rapidly growing black population of Houston, Texas. African American community leaders began a campaign to garner support from local physicians when oilman Joseph Cullinan, who had earlier supported the existing hospital, donated $80,000 to construct a new facility. The city of Houston donated three acres of land in the Third Ward for the new fifty-bed hospital. Construction began in 1925.  

The dedication of the hospital was held on June 19, 1926, a major local holiday in Texas known as “Juneteenth,” which commemorates the day Emancipation occurred in the state.  At the dedication a bronze tablet from the Tiffany Company was unveiled stating that the building was erected “in memory of Lieutenant John Halm Cullinan,” Joseph Cullinan’s son who had died during World War I. The tablet also declared that the hospital was “dedicated to the American Negro to promote self-help, to insure good citizenship, and for the relief of suffering, sickness, and disease among them.”

Read more…

Judge Hunt – Thank you letter from Jefferson County Judge

November 25th, 2016 Comments off

This is a letter from judge in Jefferson County, Texas thanking Judge Hunt for his service. It includes an note concerning another blog post

 

judge-wilmer-hunt-letter-about-trial-of-sheriff2

trial-of-jefferson-county-sheriff

Jeana’s conundrum: Take a husband or paints to France.

November 25th, 2016 1 comment

qe-2

In 1975 Jeana wrote:

Dear Ones. The terrible week of decision. This has happened many times and I have yet to come out of ahead. What to take on an extended trip to a foreign country, where I really want to work. Of course the first selection is whether to take a husband. This is an impossible decision. He will go. I will enjoy him. I will not get as much done as I would like to. The second selection is paints. I go to a country where there are thousands of artists. Last time I went to France I decided to leave my paints and other supplies here and buy a small, fresh supply there.  Paris is immense. It was icy cold and my French is always scared, so the supplies I purchase were to say the least inadequate. So I shall take them with me. On the ship going over the weight will not matter, but we are flying back. So, I shall take an adequate amount and use them up and only return with the finished products. Voila! Then comes the clothes. We go over on the Queen Elizabeth which is sailing on the 21st of July. We dress for dinner every night. Then we will be in the country in France where it will not matter so that means an extra suitcase of clothes, which they will weigh on the plane when we return. So I have decided to take caftans which will serve as dress-up clothes and country clothes. I will fix those French for over-weight. I think that they should count the weight of the person.  Wilmer [husband] certainly should not be allowed as many pounds as I, who have so systematically shed so many pounds, that soon I have to have y face lifted.

I have made Daddy [husband] a caftan out of blue denim and it makes him look like an old sheik. All he needs is a wrapped white turban above his white beard. It was like making a tent. I have sewn seams and sewn seams. I think he needs a girdle.

Love and kisses,

Jeana

[Eugenia Howard Hunt]

Judge Hunt was a serious poker player

November 7th, 2015 Comments off
JudgeSperryPlayCardsLivingRoomFriarTuck1960ish

Judge Hunt and Sperry playing cards in the living room of the house at 526 W. Friar Tuck, Houston circa 1957

My dad, Judge Wilmer Brady Hunt, was a very serious card player. Notice the expression in this photo. He’s playing a ten-year-old (me) and was as focused as a terrier at a rat hole. Note the hat. He always wore one when he played cards. It was likely to cover his expression as he studied newly drawn cards. (The second hat likely belongs to the photographer – probably Uncle Philo or Uncle Brother. (Yes, Uncle Brother, as Henry Safford was known.  His wife, Aunt Georgia, called him Brother, which must have raised some eyebrows occasionally.)

My father’s favorite people to play cards with were probably his mother (Lucy Brady Hunt) and his sisters (Lucy Hunt Barada and Lennie Estelle Hunt). All three were sharks. His mother, whom we called Nana, was the Miss Marple of cards. She was a master of bridge and hearts. Nana rarely glanced around the table. Instead she would stare at her cards, cluck and shake her head grimly. And she would win – decisively and often. What made her particularly difficult to beat was that she held her hand upside down and completely unorganized – so that if a competitor or kibitzer happened by …

My dad told me some of his best times as a young man were playing cards on ships. He did his undergad at Georgetown University in D.C.  Most people would have taken the train from Houston. It was a two-day trip. Instead Dad took a ship from Galveston, which would take four or five – leaving plenty of time to drink whiskey and play cards. He was also very good at shooting skeet, which he probably did at the fantail in those days.

As a lawyer and a judge, he played cards with and his friends every Monday night, barring holidays and assassinations. When he hosted the party (in the room in the photo), I made a habit of drifting by for the cold-cuts and the wonderful chatter. One of the men he played with was Judge Pete Salito, who brought wonderful Italian food of his own making, which he warm-up in our kitchen before the game.  Another, and I don’t remember his name, drove up in a beautiful Jaguar XKE, he could barely get into. The men always enjoyed themselves.

Among my dad’s favorite sayings at the table were:

  • I’d rather owe it to you than beat you out of it.
  • Boys are no damn good (which he told me sisters often)
  • A woman’s just a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke

I’m looking to my family to assist me with more.

 

 

A sister takes a moment

September 14th, 2014 4 comments

Lalu Wedding

It must have been around ten forty-five in the morning or so on a mild, sunny Saturday as I recall. December 22th, 1955.  My oldest sister was getting married in a little over an hour, judging from the clock in the left picture above. I was seven years old.

Always last to be ready, my mother was still in her bedroom putting herself together, as she often said. My dad and I were in the high-ceiling, more glass than brick living room of our mid-century house in west Houston. Dad was almost certainly reading the paper in the wing-back chair. I was on the couch sulking.

I had two sisters in their twenties and a sixteen-year-old brother. I don’t know where my sister Robin was at that moment. Probably doing her makeup. (She was our blonde bombshell.) My brother Grainger was  probably feeding the snakes caged in his room. (A future biologist, he was allowed to keep non-poisonous snakes in the house, but that’s another story.)

My unhappiness on the couch was born of my disappointment at losing my sister Lalu, who took that name from me when I was two and couldn’t pronounce “Nancy Lou.” We were very close. Being sixteen when I was born, she evidently put me in her bed when I cried in infancy. She took me to movies, got me my first haircut, taught me to play chess and cards, etc. When I was six, she returned from Stanford, as promised, to teach science at a high school. I had started school late due to my mother’s misperceptions (a good story, that one). It was then that she discovered I could neither tell time nor read.  Lalu taught me these things in short order, which saved me further embarrassment at school.

Now, two years later, she was leaving again, and for good this time.  When, sitting on that very couch, I heard of her engagement, I tried to poison my future brother-in-law.

Sort of.

On hearing the news, my dad opened a bottle of champagne, an ounce of which was allotted to me as was the custom on such special occasions.  Something had to be done, I thought. Not waiting for my pour, I walked into the kitchen and retrieved a glass from on high. Into it I poured tomato juice, Worcestershire, my father’s beloved Mexican hot sauce, and carried the concoction to the couch where I handed it to the fiance saying, “Drink this. It’s poison.”

Silence.

After I disclosed the recipe, the others laughed – the fiance rather nervously. I did not.

What followed were months of preparation for what was to be a very large wedding. Everyone pitched in. A lot of money was spent. (My father offered the couple the same amount if they’d elope, which my sister declined, and my mother poo-pooed.) Hundreds of invitations were assembled in our living room. Licking stamps was my contribution, which I considered mildly heroic. (No one mentioned the use of a damp sponge until I began to gag.) And during the months that followed no one bothered to ask me how I felt about my hitherto doting sister’s impending disappearance from the house.

And so it was that I was brooding on our living room couch the morning of December 27, 1956.

Lalu walked into the room, looking beautiful in her white dress flowing all around her. My dad put down his paper and said as much, then talked breezily in his usual fashion about how boys are no damned good and offered to put the groom in jail if Lalu had changed her mind. (Dad was a humorist and a civil judge who very rarely put people in jail and then only for contempt.) My sister laughed heartily, as she still does. She kissed Dad, and declined both offers.

At this point Lulu looked down on her little brother and found him sulking once again. It was then that Mother entered the room. Seeing her daughter doing nothing but standing there staring at her brother, Mother suggested there must be something Lalu should be doing.

Indeed there was, Lalu said. She promptly opened the game cabinet and retrieved the carved wooden chess set and placed it on the coffee table before me. “I need to play chess with Sperry.”

And so she did. The game didn’t last too long, I’ sure. Lalu was very good at chess. But she was in no hurry. We spoke of things I can’t possibly recall. Only that we spoke only to each other for the little while she had separated out for me, her anxious little brother, a moment that stands out to me now as clearly as it did these many years ago.

A note about the images. The photos at the top of this post are of Lalu and Dad (left) and Mom and her brother, the beloved Uncle Philo. Below is a picture of Lalu and me a few years ago with Mt. Shasta in the background and, of course, the bride and groom with Lalu and Robin’s dear friend Jean Garwood.

Lalu and Sperry 2006Lalu and Roy