90 Years of Memories

by Kathy Smith, Lifestyles Editor

Hood County News On-Line Edition August 24, 1999

Cora Mae Trimble Brown

Smoking cigarettes in the judge’s chambers behind a locked door in the 1950s is just one of the many memories Cora Mae Brown recalls with a mischievous grin.

“I went to have lunch at a café on the square and ran into county judge Joseph Carmichael and his wife,” says Brown. “He bought my lunch and then we went to his office in the courthouse.

“‘All right ladies, you can smoke your cigarettes,’ and he locked the door,” laughed Brown. “We hid in that office and smoked our cigarettes, because women didn’t smoke in public back then.”

Cora Mae, who will turn 90 Monday, was born to William Thomas and Ida Delia Langwell Trimble on Aug. 23, 1909 in the Lanham Mill community near Glen Rose. When she was 8 years old the family moved to Granbury where her father served as county treasurer until 1926.

The youngest of four children, Cora Mae had a sister and two brothers, the latter of which attended Thorp Spring Christian College.

Getting an education was important to Cora Mae, but not to her mother who only completed the third grade. “I wanted to go to the college and stay in the dorm,” says Cora Mae, “but my mother said, ‘If you think you’re going to stay away from home at night, you’re crazy.’ I whispered to myself to my mother, ‘If you think I’m going to stay here, you’re crazy!”

Cora Mae wanted to get out from under her mother’s strict thumb and Dott Chandler was the answer. The two married when Cora Mae was just 15.

“He was the best-looking man in Granbury,” Cora Mae says with a shy schoolgirl grin, “-quite a catch!”

Chandler owned and operated Chandler Automotive, which was located behind First National Bank. Cora Mae says it was the first car dealership in Granbury.

But Dott Chandler wasn’t the only breadwinner. Cora Mae and her niece owned a candy kitchen on the south side of the square.

“We made taffy and lollipops and peppermints,” recalls Cora Mae. “We even had a machine that put the stripes on the peppermints. We also sold sandwiches and coffee.”

Dott and Cora Mae had two daughters, Dott Louise Hughes and Nellie May. Nellie, her husband and daughter died in a car-train collision in Fort Worth
when Nellie was just 19.

“Nellie’s death was probably the largest pain Mother has ever experienced,” says Hughes.

“Losing your husband is bad,” Cora Mae laments, “but losing a child is the hardest. But she is with the Lord now.”

Cora Mae’s religion has always played a big part in her life. A life long member of the Church of Christ, she remembers her father filling in as preacher many times when they lived near the Paluxy River.

“One time (when I was real little) a woman wanted to be baptized when Daddy was preaching,” Cora Mae says. “The Paluxy was frozen over and Daddy had to break the ice in order to baptize her. They said Daddy would die of pneumonia and I was scared to death, but he did it anyway!”

Dott and Cora Mae moved to Fort Worth in 1936, where she worked as a clerk at Meachem’s Department Store. She also owned several restaurants and sold Avon products.

After Dott’s death, Cora Mae married Melvin Louis Brown and they moved to Granbury in 1982.

Melvin and Dott enjoyed each other’s company and their mutual interest-fishing and hunting.

“On Fridays when Melvin got home from work,” Cora Mae recalls, “I’d have the motor home packed and ready to go and we would head out for the deer lease in Dublin.

“I shot at one deer once, but I didn’t want to kill him-he was too pretty.”

Cora Mae’s love of live and all of God’s creation is evident in her love of gardening.

“I was a great gardener,” exclaims Cora Mae. “I even grew snow peas!

Cora Mae’s eyes twinkle with the outlook of gardening. “I love to take that little seed and plant it in the ground and water it.” And then, Cora Mae moves her hands to describe the wonder of a seed sprouting up out of the ground. “Oh,” smiles Cora Mae, “that’s a wonderful thing.”

Cora Mae finds herself remembering intricate details of her life. “When you get old, you remember all of these things that you experienced in your life.”

She also remembers with great detail the people who have come into her life, including fellow 90-year-old friend and former schoolmate, Pig Williams.

“Pig gave me my first kiss when we were little!” Cora Mae laughs.

Cora Mae’s family and friends will celebrate her 90th birthday tomorrow with a party at her house. In addition to cake, ice cream, family and friends, the house is sure to be filled with memories as well.

Copyright © 1999 Hood County News and HCN Online Services.