Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Writer #Family – #Houston Fire Ants and Murderers by Linda Bethea

Time to catch up with Linda’s family adventures… and having arrived safely in Houston on the back of a flat bed truck… time to get settled in. Also an opportunity to meet the neighbours… not all as welcoming as would be hoped.

Houston Fire Ants and Murderers by Linda Bethea

Grandma slipped out the back door with a laundry basket as I awoke. Naturally, I followed. Though I was only five, I already knew she was short It took her several tries to heave yesterday’s dusty quilts over the clothesline.

She sputtered with frustration as she whacked them with a broom. Red dust flew “I didn’t put all this work in my quilts just to have ‘em pitched up on the back of that beat up old truck!”

I left her to her business to investigate a large conical mound just outside the back door. It looked so appealing, I couldn’t resist kicking it. As I stood in the ruins admiring my work, I was introduced to the world of fire ants.

My blood-curling screams interrupted Grandma’s quilt-beating. She whirled to find the evil beasts pinched on to my legs. As she tried vainly to brush them off, Mother rushed out to see who was being murdered. They rushed me in to the sink to wash them off, they both got numerous fiery bites, reinforcing Grandma’s prediction that Houston was a bad move. I did learn a valuable lesson about kicking anthills, though.

Once the fire in my legs cooled down, I investigated the house. They’d rented the first floor of a huge, old home. Its high ceilings and tall windows cooled the room. Its polished hardwood floors gleamed. Best of all, it boasted two stairways to nowhere. The first descended straight into the plaster of the ceiling that blocked it off.

I only got to slide down the bannister once before Grandma put a stop to my fun. She must have thought there was a murderer at the bottom. It was a couple of hours later before we discovered the second enclosed in a closet. Having no bannisters, Grandma didn’t offer objections. It was great fun to play on those steps in the dark closet.

The house had once been part of a gracious neighborhood, though now Houston streets had
gobbled its yard, leaving it just feet from busy streets in the front and on the left side. A large
lawn stretched between it and the house to its right. A deep porch wrapped the house on
three sides. Before Mother even had a chance to broach the subject, Grandma kicked in.

“Do not step off this porch! Houston is full of murderers who will snatch you right out of the yard. Don’t talk to anybody! See how close that street is! A drunk driver could run right up on the sidewalk and kill you! Even the ants here are crazy! Maybe you’d just better come back in the house.”

She must have been serious if she was ready to be shut in with an eight, five, and a couple of toddlers as she unpacked and settled in. I had to agree with her about the ants, though!

The kids got busy investigating the house as the men set up beds and Grandma and Mother
cooked breakfast and sorted out the kitchen. Cookie’s nerves were shot after her terrifying drive so we had to play quietly while she slept off a headache. Back to breakfast. One thing I always admired about Grandma. She had a proper appreciation for bacon. She didn’t cook one or two measly pieces apiece like Mother did. She cooked a platter full. There was always bacon left after breakfast. Now, that’s a fine cook!

After breakfast, Phyllis and I ran wild on the front porch, banging into the rails at the end of each lap. We were desperate to get further out. Double width sidewalks stretched temptingly to the busy street.

Country kids admire sidewalks, accustomed to bumpy grass and dirt surfaces. I was sure that those grass-covered yards were all that stood between me and speed-skating or smooth bicycling. Never-mind that I’d never owned a bike or skates. Even though Barbie was only two, she had a fine tricycle and skates. Like I said, she had it made.

©Linda Bethea 2018

Thank you Linda for entertaining us again…I got fire anted when I was an adult and it was nearly the end of me… so I do sympathise… good thing Grandma was around.

win_20160620_13_24_45_proHere is Linda with a little bit about herself.

Now that I’m done with the bothersome business of workday world, I am free to pursue my passion, capturing the stories I’ve loved all my life. The ones you’ll read on my blog are good old Southern stories, a real pleasure to relay. Here in the South, we are proud of our wacky folks. I’ve preyed shamelessly on my family, living and dead, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances, often changing the names to protect the innocent and not so innocent.

My mother illustrates my blog. I come from a rollicking family of nuts, hence the name of the blog Nutsrok Enjoy.

Linda has captured the essence of her family history in her book Everything Smells Just Like Poke Salad

51qb8fm4dql-_uy250_About Everything Smells Just Like Poke Salad by Linda Swain Bethea (Author) with Kathleen Holdaway Swain (Collaborator & Illustrator)

Born to a struggling farm family in the deepest of The Great Depression, Kathleen enjoys a colorful childhood, enhanced by her imagination, love of life, and the encouragement of her family.

She’s determined to build a better life for herself, getting herself into hilarious situations all along the way. Distinguishing herself in school and the community, she never takes her eyes off her goal.

Just as she’s about to get started, she meets Bill, the man who is going to help her on her way. Everything changes. And then changes again. The true story of a remarkable woman who will inspire you, make you laugh, and see life from a new perspective.

One of the many excellent reviews for the book.

Entertaining  on November 5, 2018

Linda Bethea is a truly gifted story teller! I genuinely enjoyed reading the stories of her mother, Kathleen, growing up. My grandparents never told me stories of the Great Depression, so these stories provided me with much needed insight. The stories are told in a colorful, humorous tone that was a joy to read.

Read the reviews and BUY the book:

And Amazon UK:

Also by Linda Bethea

About the book


In this collection of six serials, Linda Swain Bethea weaves narratives of women through several centuries. The stories span from 1643 to 1957. Beginning in England in 1643, a young couple travels to Jamestown, Virginia, to begin a new life in the American frontier. The rest of the stories travel from West Texas to North Louisiana to the Texas Panhandle to East Texas.

Disease, death, starvation, and prison are faced with stoicism and common sense, and always, with a sense of humor.

The women in each tale stand tall and possess the wisdom and tenacity to hold families together under the worst conditions. Through it all, they persevere, and Linda Swain Bethea’s storytelling is a testament to the legacy they left.

Conversational and homey, you’ll fall in love with the women of Just Women Getting By – Leaving a Legacy of Strength, which celebrates the courage of those women who had no choice but to survive.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And on Amazon UK:

Connect to Linda


My thanks to Linda for sharing her story and she would love your feedback. Thanks Sally.

16 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Writer #Family – #Houston Fire Ants and Murderers by Linda Bethea

  1. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Brussel Sprouts, Fire Ants, music, books, health, humour and a full guest list | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

I would be delighted to receive your feedback (by commenting, you agree to Wordpress collecting your name, email address and URL) Thanks Sally

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