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The Beckville Chronicles

About The Authors

An Excerpt about the author Mrs. Sara Jane Metcalf written by Susan Metcalf Calomino.

Mr. and Mrs. Roy Metcalf

Appreciated Community Support

When House Burned in 1952

The late Roy Metcalf (b. August 28, 1921-d. May 30, 1994) and his widow, the former Sara Jane Metcalf (b. September 24, 1922-d. November 26, 2004), grew up during the Depression in Beckville and married during World War II. Both are 1940 graduates of Beckville High School.

After graduation, Roy was drafted into the U.S. Army Air Corps and stationed at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo.

Jane worked in Dallas until she joined the Women's Army Corps (WACs) in 1943, once month shy of her 21st birthday. She trained at Ft. Oglethorpe, Georgia and was stationed at Grenier in New Hampshire, a port of embarkation for men being sent overseas. While there, she had a problem because her feet were so small (size 2). She was stuck trying to march in her high heels since that was all she had that would fit. She also had to spend extra time marching because at 5'1" she couldn't quite make the 30-inch stride required to keep up. After basic training, she spent a year at Grenier, then was sent back to Dallas to be stationed at Love Field.

They married September 23, 1944 in Dallas, shortly after Roy was discharged due to an injury. After both left the military, they settled in Dallas. Within six months, however, they returned to Beckville where they build a small, two-bedroom home to the rear their to rear their infant daughter Mickey (b. November 29, 1945-).

Their first home was located five miles north of Beckville and a quarter mile east of Roy's parents, Homver Sterrett Metcalf (b. December 22, 1885-d. January 3, 1971) and his wife, the former Sarah Ida (Janny) Gray (b. April 2, 1888 -d. December 28, 1966), on what is now Panola County Road 266.

Since most rural areas had no electricity until the late 1930’s when the Rural Electric Association was organized or the early 1950’1 when it reached arts of the country, they used butane to fuel the stove, refrigerator, and lights. Although their bathroom had a tub and toilet, without electricity, they had no hot water. Jane boiled water on the stove for bathing until the late 1940’s when R.E.A. brought electricity to the community.

The forth of six daughters born to Vergil Lafayette Metcalf (b. October 14, 1890-d. August 10, 1962) and his wife, the former Ettie Belle Pansy Lee Harris (b. February 13, 1892-d. June 5, 1988), Jane was valedictorian from both the seventh and eleventh grade gradating classes at Beckville. Her love for learning and reading started when she was five and someone gave her the nine books, Little Orphan Annie, while she was recovering from injuries received when she was hit by a car.

Jane and her younger sisters started chopping cotton for their father when she was 10 and he lost the election for Panola County sheriff. Her uncle, Dallas Denton Harris, paid her $1 a day to chop. At that time, cotton sold for approximately 50 cents for 100 pounds. According to William Chester Metcalf of Midlothian, Texas. “Uncle Vergil’s mule died. He borrowed a mule from Dallas Harris in exchange for Jane, Phyllis and Billie Joy working for him for free.

When Panola Junior College opened in January, 1947, Jane was one of the first students to enroll in the community college which was originally housed in three military barracks. Roy drove her to Carthage three consecutive days during a severe ice storm before school administrators were able to drive in to register students. Jane was the top student in the first class of 13 graduates in May, 1948, which included another Beckvillian, Doc Buchananan, Jr. The monthly stipend of $105 she received from the G.I. Bill and bus service to the college made attendance possible.

Jane would take the Beckville school bus from her home to the Beckville School where she caught another bus driven by Frank Richard Goode to take her and one other student to the college in Carthage.

Jane continued her studies at East Texas Baptist College and Stephen F. Austin State Teachers College in Nacogdoches between pregnancies that produced Virgil Roy “Bud” (b. December 24, 1949-) and twin daughters, Sally and Susan (b. July 28, 1951). Mary Lee Watson Knight, a friend of Roy and Jane’s children, remembers Jane would studying a wooden playpen in the middle of the living room while baby sitting her children and their friends. The purpose of the playpen was to keep the children from disturbing her books and papers.

Jane was home with their 14-month-old twins and Bud when she realized the attic was on fire October 8, 1952. Pregnant with her fifth child Homer Ray (b. November 9, 1952-), she carried Sally while shepherding Bud to safety. By the time she got back to her other daughter; Susan had “cooked” under the heat of the fire. Roy’s father Homer rushed the family to the recent-opened Panola General Hospital in Carthage where Susan was hospitalized for several months with third-degree burns. Once month after the fire their fifth child Homer was born at Kahn Memorial Hospital in Marshall.

The fire razed the house before the Beckville Volunteer Fire Department arrived. Friends and relatives collected more then 3,000 and furniture to help the couple rebuild on the same site within a year. Neighbors gave the family a housewarming in which they received 49 sets of sheets as well as clothing, household goods, and cash.

Jane completed her B.A. in 1956 and her M.A. in 1961 from S.F.A. and started teaching at Beckville High School in 1958 where her starting salary was $2,600 annually.

During this time, Roy cut pulpwood with his twin brother Ray and baled hay with Ray and another friend, James Polk Crawford. Roy joined his twin brother and Durward Ross at a service station where Kenneth Pierce’s Texaco Station now is. Within a short period of time, they relocated the station across the street. In the early 1960’s, Ray and Roy sold the station where Bearcat Market is today and started carpooling to Longview with other friends to work at Trailmobile where he retired in the late 1970’s. He worked as a construction superintendent for his son-in-law, Larry Dorman, until his death.

Roy and Jane’s lives centered around their children’s school activities. The family enjoyed playing card games such as Hearts and Spades, dominoes and baseball. Roy and his brothers had played league baseball in Panola County after the war.

Roy server on the Beckville I.S.D. board until Jane started teaching and on the Panola County School Board afterwards. During the Bay of Pigs Crisis in the early 1960’s, both were involved in civil defense training which R.C. Beauchamp, school superintendent had setup.

Heritage, history and tradition have always been important to Jane. The day the house burned, she was cutting material for the quilts she had planned to make for each of her children. She completed quilts tops made form the remnants of their clothes for each of them before they graduated from high school. Winnie Metcalf, Roy’s aunt, quilted the spreads. Jane helped set up perpetual care foundations for the Langley and Conner cemeteries in Beckville; she purchased the bank building in Beckville, which is now a library and museum.

Before her last child graduated from high school in 1971, Jane had started collecting school photos which were published in a pictorial history of the schools in 1978. (This book expands on her original book.) In addition, over the past 50 years she kept a family diary and history which is more then 1,000 typewritten pages.

Roy and Jane have seven grandchildren: Heather Dorman (b. April 1, 1969) of Bryan, Texas, who married Mark James Walker (b. July 9, 1969) on October 31, 1997; Charity Dorman (b. October 27, 1971) of Shreveport, Louisiana; Capt. James Roy “Jed” Dorman (b. August 14, 1974) of Fort Walton Beach, Florida; Jose Gonzales Metcalf (b. July 13, 1970) of Beckville who married Andrea Carpenter (b. July 29, 1977) on October31, 2000; Sara Jane Metcalf (b. April 25, 1974) who married James Starpless (b. July 8, 1959) on December 27, 1997; Susan Ann Metcalf (b. May 23, 1979) of Huntsville, Texas; and Gine Leigh Dawson (b. September 13, 1979) of Boston, Massachusetts.

They have six great grandchildren: Jessie (b. December 12, 1986), Christie (b. September 24, 1988) and Sara (b. February 24, 1993) Sharpless of Marshall; Sara Rae Metcalf Walker (b. January 19, 2000) of Bryan, and Blake Metcalf (b. April 4, 2000) of Beckville.