Rainy Days and Starry Nights
Growing Up in the South Texas Brush Country
A memoir of life in rural Texas in the 1930s and 1940s
Depression and the worst drought in Texas history did not make life easy for a large family on a small South Texas farm in the mid-twentieth century. Lawrence Zook tried growing cotton, corn, peanuts, even black-eyed peas on his 100 sandy acres thirty miles southeast of San Antonio, near Floresville, known today as the Peanut Capital of Texas. His family survived, though he tended to be disagreeable when it didn’t rain—which seemed to be most of the time.
Lois Zook Wauson, the oldest of Lawrence and Bertie Lee’s eight children, does not flinch from reporting the difficult aspects of this life, which casts into greater relief her telling of everyday pleasures and triumphs. “My parents instilled in us the importance not of money or material things,” she writes, “but of love, commitment, and hard work. Because of that love, long after our parents are gone we are still very close.”
Brush Country natives will relate to her moving descriptions of sweeping the family’s sunbaked, grassless lawn, of six-man football on Friday nights, and of dance hall rituals on Saturday nights. Those who grew up elsewhere will enjoy being introduced to the lifestyle of a Texas region that is too often overlooked.
“The South Texas brush country appears to the alien visitor a desolate landscape that is far removed from the beaten path of urban society. To those who call the region home, however, the brush country is anything but colorless. The region holds a special sense of attachment, and it is this sense of belonging that Lois Zook Wauson captures so wonderfully in her book, a brief and very entertaining read. . . . The story is more valuable because it reminds the reader that life in rural Texas in the 1930s and 1940s was anything but easy. Wauson furnishes valuable insight into the social implications of the declining family farm, and that is perhaps her book's greatest asset. ”
— Journal of South Texas
— San Antonio Express-News
“I knew I was going to like Lois Wauson's Rainy Days and Starry Nights when I read the first two sentences of her essay "Friday Night in South Texas."”
— Austin American-Statesman