Burke Memories

Dancing in the Campbellite Church

Arzy Johnson Squyres, who lived at Beulah as an adult, was a jolly person until her death in the 1970s. She giggled like a young girl as she told me how in her youth she and Madden Spivey danced in the Campbellite (now Church of Christ) Church. Madden Spivey was the father of prominent Lufkin physician, Dr. Dan Spivey. The joke to Arzy was that the Campbellite Church did not permit dancing

Tree in the Middle of the Road

About a mile north of central Burke is a short unpaved road between Old and New Highway 59. About halfway between the highways is a large oak tree right in the middle of the road! The road splits and half goes on each side of the tree. One wag once remarked that if a drunk encoutered the tree he might see three trees and decide to drive through the middle one. Accrding to Homer McCall this short stretch of road was part of the old unpaved Houston Road that preceded the first paved road, Texas 35.

Filched Watermelons, Sugar Cane, and Hot Peppers

One of the more common high jinks of Burke teenage boys was to sneak into a watermelon or sugar cane patch and filch a few treats. More than one Burke youngster found himself running through a dark watermelon patch with 00 buckshot whizzing over his head. Most landowners wanted merely to scare the trespassers, but the author recalls one young man who came to school with a suspicious wound in his posterior about the time rumors of a sugar cane patch invasion circulated in the community.

The author's parents told a story a couple of Burke boys being confronted by the watermelon patch owner wielding a double barrel shotgun. To teach them a lesson, he said simply, "Boys, eat!", and then said it again and again as the trembling boys ate watermelon after watermelon. When the boys were groaning in pain and on the verge of nausea, he said, "OK, boys, you can go home." So off then went with distended bellies and a much greater appreciation for private property rights.

The author's boyhood pal Don Burrous tells a story about filched hot peppers that taught him a painful lesson. He was hanging out at the Old Post Office with Steve Treadwell when he decided that his Mom would probably like to have a colorful ornamental pepper bush just like the one Miss Ina, the postmistress, kept in the window. So while Steve distracted Miss Ina with conversation, Don picked a pocket full of peppers. After playing at Steve's house for a while, Don rode home on his bike. As we rode he noticed that his leg was burning. By the time he got home his leg was on fire. Riding the bike had crushed the peppers resulting in a big, painful blister! As Don recently remarked, " There is a good lesson to be learned from it - how the Lord punishes bad little boys."

Jake Lee's Mule Trouble

The author's boyhood pal Kenneth Ryan tells this story about mysterious mule trouble that Jake Lee had when plowing in his garden adjacent Burke School.

Jake lived in a big, old house adjacent to the school, and he had a garden lying between his home and the school auditorium. The auditorium on the south end was high off the ground on blocks, so high that younger school kids could actually stand up beneath it.

At the beginning of planting season, Jake would harness up his old mule and break up the ground for his garden. He would plow back and forth near the south end of the auditorium. Some of the schools kids would get under the building during recess and collect a hand full of small rocks, hiding behind the foundation blocks. When Jake and his mule passed near, they would toss the rocks and hit the old mule in the flank. The mule would always kick and snort and jump sideways. Jake would jerk on the plow lines and holler at him to settle down. Jake would look around for a snake or yellow jacket nest to explain why the mule was acting up, but never figured out the real reason the mule acted up at that particular spot in the garden.


  1. Arzy Johnson Squyres, Personal Recollections as told to M. Lee Murrah
  2. Donald Burrous, Personal Recollections
  3. Homer McCall, Personal Recollections
  4. M. Lee Murrah, Personal Recollections
  5. Kenneth Ryan, Personal Recollections