A Texas Uncle Keeps On Driving

My great-uncle Herman Walker was born in 1906 in Taft, San Patricio County, Texas.   His parents were Hattie Bryant (1888-1944) and Toby Walker (1878-?). He graduated from high school in Rockport, Texas and then attended Paul Quinn College, which was then located in Waco, Texas. He later moved to Houston where he was the chef at the renowned Ye Olde College Inn during its heyday.  He was a proud and independent man who lived to be ninety-six years old.

As I grew up, Uncle Herman’s was the only other black Catholic family I knew of .  I don’t think he was born a Catholic; rather I think he converted when he met and married his wife Ida Mouton, a French Creole Catholic from Louisiana. But he was a devout Catholic. His funeral program noted that he had attended St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Houston for sixty-six years and that he was a member of The Knights of Columbus and the Holy Name Society.

For sometime after Uncle Herman turned eighty, various relatives began to suggest that it was time for him to give up driving. It was apparent that his eyesight was not good, and it was difficult to understand how he navigated intersections in particular. On a visit to see Uncle Herman, my father learned Uncle Herman’s strategy for dealing with intersections. Upon seeing what he thought  might be a stop sign 0r traffic light, he would slow down, and blow his horn loudly. If nobody else blew their horn, Herman would keep on going!

Craig and Uncle Herman Walker, Houston, Texas, 1962

Craig and Uncle Herman Walker, Houston, Texas, 1962

Parts of this post (minus the photograph), originally appeared in GeneaBlogie on April 1, 2007, and February 10, 2008.

Uncle Herman’s Uncle Sam

Sam Bryant (1881-1951) was Hattie Bryant’s older brother.  Thus he was Uncle Herman’s uncle as well as my father’s great-uncle.  Uncle Sam lived a good and simple life in south Texas. After he died in the summer of 1951, he was buried on the Fourth of July.  Really!


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3 Responses to “A Texas Uncle Keeps On Driving”

  • Melody says:

    What a nice remembrance! I hope his car horn worked good :) Reminds me of my Dad…82 and fiercely independent even with emphysema.

  • Vickie E. says:

    San Patricio Co. . . . another familial location we have in common! My maternal grandpa was born in Milam Co. TX in 1905, & died in San Patricio Co. in 1977, having lived there since ca. 1950. Two of his daughters (my aunts) married men born & raised in Taft — Uncle Billy (1929-2001) lived & farmed there until his death, & Uncle Jimmy (retired RR man) still lives in the neighborhood, as do multiple kinfolk, most in Sinton.

  • Chris Dunham says:

    Sounds like my own great-uncle. When he was going blind from diabetes, he would drive down from his hilltop farm with two wheels in the ditch, so the car would know where to go.

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