My grandmother, Della Mae (Banta) Springer was born August 10, 1907 in Yantis, Texas. She moved with her family to Caney, Oklahoma shortly after that. She grew up on Liberty Hill near Caney and eventually married John Springer in 1925. She and John raised seven children: Oscar Calvin (died in childhood), John Jr., Curtis, Colleen (my mother), Betty, Juanita, and Carolyn. At the time of her death in 1985 she had 24 grandchildren, 40 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild.
Though she lived in the country Della was active in both the Caddo and Caney communities. She was well-known for two things- her writing and her vegetables. Della was a columnist for The Durant Daily Democrat, The Atoka Indian Citizen, and several other papers. She was also an accomplished poet. During her forty years of writing she created over 4,000 articles, poems, and columns- most by hand or on a manual typewriter. Her columns, “Thoughts of a Farm Woman”, “Along Route Three”, “Caddo Route 1”, and “My Corner” are remembered by many residents of Bryan and Atoka counties. Sandwiched in between her news and views were brief notes about which vegetables were ready to harvest. Here’s an amusing piece from my mother’s scrapbook of Della’s columns. (I apologize for not knowing the date of this column. She clipped a lot of them, but didn’t date them.):
“I have lived a good many years and I have never seen anything like it before- I mean the way people have been coming out for our vegetables. So many wonderful people have come out they have bought the vegetables as they get ready.
But I AM going to send in an ad when those purple hull peas and the late corn get ready. Which should appear in the Democrat about the middle of the week. Goodness, I am going to have to have the editor come out and get himself a big watermelon when I get my stand all set up. And I am going to have a stand here at my house starting about this Sunday. I owe him a lot for letting those sneaky little references to my vegetables pass.
I didn’t know there were so many industrious women who have deep freezes to fill. Bet they won’t go hungry next winter.”
Apparently both the writing and the vegetables were a family tradition according to this quote from another column:
“My dad was C.W. Banta, also know as ‘Rufus Bolts’. In his writing for the paper he signed that as a pen name. My mother Mary Coker Banta was one-eighth Seminole. My dad leased a small farm where he raised produce he peddled in a covered wagon to town folks. How well I remember the proudest days of my life were when he let me go with him. We would drive along the streets, dad ringing a bell, and ladies would rush out of their homes, buckets and pans in hand, to buy from him.”
And finally I leave you with my grandmother’s resolutions for the New Year. This column appears to have been written sometime in the 60’s (judging by its placement in the scrapbook), but I don’t think the year matters one bit.
Writer’s Wishes for Year
By Della Springer
For the coming new year, if I could have the things I desire most I would, first of all, wish for patience with which to bear my own troubles, aches, and pains, silently, knowing in my heart my folks and my dear friends have their full share, without having to help me bear mine.
I would ask for the initiative to bear my part of my earthly duties, not shirking or putting off to others the job that is mine. Unless we all press against the collar and do our share, others loads become heavier.
I would ask for tolerance, to close my eyes to all harmful gossip, to believe good of everyone regardless of what is said or done. Tolerance with the color of others, the belief of others, the station of others. Humble knowing all are human and come short of the glory of God unless constantly putting forth every conceivably effort to attain that which we have been promised.
Last of all I would ask for fellowship, love of life, love of this world that is ours, love of living enough so that the path I make through this world will be remembered pleasantly. Love of my friends and neighbors to such an extent that I ever think of them first, and in every way I know how, make their cross just a little easier to bear.
Now may I close by wishing all my friends the very best Christmas and most prosperous new year of all.
If you remember by grandmother or her column it would thrill me to hear about it in a comment (click below) or email.