Local Resident Looks Back on Nearly a Century of Living
By Suzanne McMinn, Lifestyles Editor
Hood County News dated April 6, 1991
Dora Mitchell celebrated a birthday last week.
Not just any birthday, like what the rest of us have. This was Dora Mitchell’s 97th birthday.
Born and raised in Hood County, Dora Mitchell, or “Dodo” as she’s called, has seen a lot in her time.
“We lived in Acton,” she recalled of her early years in Hood County. “We called it ‘going to town’ when we would come to Granbury. There was a store called ‘The Blue Front.’ That’s where I always wanted to go.”
“The Blue Front” was a dry goods store, she said. There her mother bought material for clothes for Mitchell and her sisters, and bought Easter hats. Mitchell remembered crying one year because her sister had a better Easter hat from “The Blue Front” than she had.
They came to town in a two-seated carriage pulled by two horses, she said. Mitchell had five brothers and three sisters, but many were grown by the time she was a young girl.
Mitchell was born in Acton in 1894, the daughter of a country doctor and farmer, Alexander Jarrett, and his wife, Sallie Davis. The family came to Hood County from Georgia, where the Jarrett family lived in a fortress-type 1782 manor now under the care of the Georgia Historical Commission.
She recalled that her parents brought with them a black maid and yard man from Georgia.
“They were very unhappy out at Acton because there were no colored people,” said Mitchell. “So he had to take them back to Georgia.”
Mitchell lived in Acton until she was seven. Of Acton, she remembers enjoying playing paper dolls and walking with her sister to bring lunch to their brother, who worked at the telephone switchboard. The Jarretts, she said, had the second telephone in Acton.
“We would walk barefoot to bring him his lunch,” she said. “The sand would be so hot we would throw our umbrellas down and jump in them.”
The Jarrett family left Acton in 1903 and moved to Amarillo, returning to Granbury in 1906 after meeting hardships in West Texas.
They bought a yellow house on Lambert Street in Granbury. Mitchell still lives there today, surrounded by memories of the past.
As a teenager in Granbury, Mitchell enjoyed dancing and the picture show. At that time, she said, a movie theatre rather than an opera house graced the square, and was very popular.
About the age of 19, Mitchell married Jess Walker. She divorced him, married him again, and divorced him again. The marriage produced one son, Ramsay, who was born in the house on Lambert Street with the assistance of Dr. Jarrett.
After her second divorce, Mitchell moved back home with her parents to the house on Lambert Street. Leonard Mitchell lived across the street.
“I would walk by there and he would holler at me,” said Mitchell, a spark in her eyes. “I got a kick out of him trying to make his wife jealous. And she was jealous.”
Leonard Mitchell eventually divorced his wife and married Dodo. The couple, along with her son Ramsay, moved to an apartment over a drugstore on the west side of the square that Leonard Mitchell had purchased from the Hannafords around 1918. Mitchell’s Drugstore remained in existence through the 1930’s.
Horses, not cars, brought customers to the square in those days. One of Mitchell’s fondest memories is that of her son Ramsay and his horse Dan.
“Everything he ever had he called Dan,” she said. She remembers him leaving his horse in front of the courthouse. “He would just drop the reins,” she said. “When he would call ‘Dan’ he’d come to him.”
Dodo Mitchell also recalled people driving to the square in early automobiles as time went by.
But Mitchell’s favorite memories of the square revolve around the boyhood antics of her son Ramsay.
“One time he put a wagon on top of the courthouse,” she said. Another time he painted a storefront black. Mitchell laughed as she recalled what he did in front of First National Bank. “He put a potty out in front of the bank and a sign that said ‘Put your deposits here’,” she said.
Mitchell said the square is not too different now from the way it was then, except for the paved streets and cars, and of course, all the people.
Mitchell has a definite opinion on the recent influx of people into Granbury.
“I don’t like it,” she declared firmly. “I’d rather there not be so many people. I don’t know them. I don’t know my neighbors very well.”
Mitchell prefers the time when she knew everybody in Granbury. People used to sit down outside Mitchell’s Drugstore and talk, she said. That’s how she got all the news of the town.
“I knew everybody,” she said. “There wasn’t a stranger.”
She has an even stronger opinion on the transformation of the Brazos River into Lake Granbury.
“We didn’t like it, and I still don’t,” she said. “I love the river. I liked to go down and walk in the sand bar and play in the shallow water.”
And so times have changed, but Dodo Mitchell is still around, still living in the yellow house on Lambert Street where her father delivered her son in the front bedroom over 70 years ago.