Algianon Moses Jeffero was born November 17, 1933 in New Willard, Texas. At the age of 5 he moved with his family to Huntsville, Texas [located in East Texas between Houston and Dallas], where he spent the remainder of his childhood. After graduating from Sam Houston High School in 1952, Jeffero attended college at Prairie View A&M University [historically all-black university in Greater Houston Metropolitan area], where he played on the National Championship football team. He majored in Vocational Agricultural and graduated early to accept a position as head coach at Littlefield, Texas [located northwest of Lubbock, just south of the Texas Panhandle]. Jeffero spent less than a year in Littlefield however, and he soon returned to East Texas. He soon found work with Diboll Independent School District as the head of the New Farmers of America organization from 1956-1967. Following this period, Jeffero accepted a position as a Professional Scouter with the Boy Scouts of America, from which he retired in the mid-1990s. Today, Jeffero still works and is an active member of his church and community in Lufkin, Texas.
Please note that Jeffero was previously interviewed about three years before this interview (October 2009) for an oral history project conducted by Jonathan Gerland with The History Center in Diboll, Texas. A transcript of this interview can be accessed on The History Center's website:
The interview was conducted on June 20, 2012 by Pamela Temple in McKenzie's office at Angelina College in Lufkin, Texas.
The interview was conducted on June 20, 2012 by Chase Ables in Jeffero's home in Lufkin.
ABLES: Today is June 20th, 2012. This is Chase Ables and I am talking to Mr. Algianon Jeffero at his home in Lufkin. Mr. Jeffero was interviewed nearly three years ago for an oral history project conducted by Jonathan Gerland with The History Center [in Diboll, Texas]. A transcript of this interview can be accessed on The History Center's website. As such, this interview hopes to address subjects that were not discussed or elaborated on in the previous interview. We will be touching on Mr. Jeffero's experiences growing up, his experiences within the Lufkin community, and his work as a Professional Scouter with the Boy Scouts of America.
Mr. Jeffero, to provide some context, I do want to start with some questions about where you came from that were probably heard on the previous interview as well. Could you tell me when you were born?
JEFFERO: Born in November the 17th, 1933.
ABLES: November 17th. Okay.
JEFFERO: 1933 in New Willard, Texas.
ABLES: New Willard. Now I had read that earlier. Where is New Willard?
JEFFERO: Okay, you know where Livingston is, don't you? [A town in East Texas located about one hour north of the Greater Houston Metropolitan Area.]
ABLES: Yes, I do.
JEFFERO: It's a little ole country town just south of Livingston.
ABLES: Okay, and that was a sawmill town.
JEFFERO: Sawmill town. Yeah, right, that's where my daddy worked at, the sawmill.
ABLES: Okay. How long had your family lived in New Willard prior to you being born?
JEFFERO: Well, I was born in New Willard-because we had a brother that was older than I and he's deceased. I believe they was in there-I want to say about six or seven years.
ABLES: Six or seven years?
JEFFERO: Six or seven. Because my sister which is still living now-my oldest sister-she's 82 and I'm 78. And both of us was born in New Willard.
ABLES: Where was your family before that?
JEFFERO: Well, my mother was in Oakhurst. She was born in Oakhurst, Texas.
ABLES: Okay. Where is that at?
JEFFERO: I believe at Highway 90-toward Livingston. Okay, well that's where she lived. Over there. Coldspring, Texas. Its a little country town. [Located between Cleveland and Huntsville, Texas]
ABLES: Okay, I do know where Coldspring is.
JEFFERO: A little farming town. Yeah, Oakhurst. A little ole place. It's real small.
ABLES: Do you remember anything about your grandparents?
JEFFERO: Yes, I do.
ABLES: Were they with you in New Willard when you were growing up or were they somewhere else?
JEFFERO: No, they was in Oakhurst, Texas. Matter of fact, my grandfather lived to get 102. Yeah, that's right and he used to cut ties-bust ties and so forth. And they farmed. Down in Oakhurst.
ABLES: Were both sets of grandparents living in that town or was it just on your mother's side?
JEFFERO: No. Just on my mother's side. My daddy's parents lived in-let me see, where did he live? He lived in Shepherd, Texas. You know where Shepherd is, now? [Unintelligible.]
ABLES: Yes sir, I do.
JEFFERO: Shepherd, Texas. [Located just south Livingston]
ABLES: Okay. How often did you see your grandparents?
JEFFERO: Well, matter of fact my grandfather on my father's side well-he had deceased, so I didn't really get the chance. I had his picture but it had got wet in the back of my car. I didn't know it was leaking back there. Cause I was gonna get a picture of it today. That's a picture of my dad right there. That's Bill Jeffero right there. [Mr. Jeffero turned around and pointed to a framed picture of a man hung on his wall in the front foyer of his home. See photo entitled Jeffero 001.]
ABLES: Okay. I'll have to get a picture of that later.
JEFFERO: Yeah, okay. And, a little ole place they called Drew's Landing down there, down below Cleveland [located just north of Greater Houston Metropolitan Area], you know. They used to go down there. I had some uncles-my daddy's brothers. Then I had one of my daddy's sisters lived in Huntsville for a while and I got a chance to spend some time with her and her son. Matter of fact. Her son got killed and served in World War II.
ABLES: Do you know what branch?
JEFFERO: He was in the Army. Nathanael Reed. That was his name.
ABLES: Nathanael Reed?
JEFFERO: Reed, yeah. He got killed in World War II.
ABLES: Did the grandparents that you did know-did you ever hear them talk about any stories about their earlier lives? Did they share that kind of thing?
JEFFERO: Well, yeah. I can tell you about my grandfather. They were making $9.50 a month. That's how much he was getting per month. $9.50. He told me that. He used to split ties for the railroad. He worked on the railroad, too, sometimes.
He had what you call one of these poleaxes. It was a big piece of wood with a great big end on there and they would take and put those ties in the ground. No, you know, not the ties in the ground, but put the-posts in the ground with the poleax. It had a big ole end and then it had a-you know, and he showed me how to do all like that. And he used to make sugarcane. I'd be right there with them making sugarcane. [At this point in the recording, the clicking sound of the interviewer turning up the input volume on the recorder can be heard]
ABLES: How did he make the sugarcane?
JEFFERO: Okay, and I can't forget this. He had some oxens that would pull. He had a syrup mill. The oxen would pull it in a round circle. Then it had a little place where they would squeeze the syrup out as they turned it around like that. The sugarcane-they put them long pieces in there and then after they do that, they would cook it. And that's the way they made the syrup.
ABLES: After he made it, did he just make it for the family or did he sell it in town?
JEFFERO: He made it for the family. I don't remember him selling any. He give a lot of it away. And then I know the family ate some cause we would get some.
And then the way they got their cornmeal-they would take corn-ride the horse about 25 miles and then they would have a sack of corn on the horse. And then when they grind the corn up-this was for meals. You couldn't go to the store and buy any meal. And when they grind it up, well then the person would either pay for the grinding or they would give them half of the meal, the cornmeal. So that's where they paid for it. It took them about-I'm gonna say about half a day to go to take it to the gristmill, they called it. So that's where they made the corn.
And the gristmill was-I believe it was, it must've been in-and I don't know exactly what town they went, but it took them, they'd go by horse. And it was toward-Livingston, you know. I'd watch them when they left, but I don't know what town. And it was the gristmill there.
ABLES: How long did it take them to get there by horse?
JEFFERO: It would take them about half a day. They'd leave that morning and then they would ride that horse, you know, just one man and they'd put the corn in a little satchel on the side there, you know, it'd be hanging there and so it would take-he usually would send some of his sons.
Well he had two sons that was in the service and while I'm thinking about it I'll tell you. Okay, the oldest one he was in the Army and his name was Otis Jerden. O-T-I-S. J-E-R-some of them spell it J-E-R-D-E-N and some have A-N, but you know, that's the way they spell it. Okay, he was in the Army and he was-during D-Day he was there.
And they had another brother. He was in the Navy and he retired from the service. And both of them is deceased now. And O.C. was younger than Otis. I don't know exactly how old, but they wasn't too much older than I was cause I could've gone to the service, but I didn't want to go. I had some little buddies that went in there and they wasn't but twelve years old. They went in the Army in World War II. [Name of second brother not confirmed. Phonetically sounds like O.C. Perhaps a nickname or initials.]
Let me see, they was twelve. Now I know they knew they was twelve, but now I imagine this. That they might have had something on there saying they were eighteen with their parents' signature. Now I'm imagining that. I don't know, they may not have done that. They may have just took them like that. But I could've gone. And I know a lot of them went and none of them got killed in there, but you know-twelve year olds, but I know some went in the service and they came back and when they got back out of the service they went back to high school in Huntsville, Texas.
We had one play. His name was-James Wanza. James Wanza. I think James is still living somewhere. In Houston, somewhere. I hadn't seen him, though. But he went back to school and he finished high school. He played basketball and he was on the championship basketball team in 1950 in Huntsville, Texas. And that was at Sam Houston High School. There was a black high school named Sam Houston. And the guy it was named after, he was a black guy. He was a real old fella, but his name was Sam W. Houston.
ABLES: Now, you grew up in Huntsville, correct?
ABLES: What year did you move to Huntsville?
JEFFERO: I was thinking about that last night. I was five-years old. I'm gonna tell you something about that. I was five-years old. I must've been five when they moved from New Willard to Huntsville. I must've been five because that's when I got my first job, when I was five-years old.
ABLES: What were you doing for your first job?
JEFFERO: Yeah, I knew you was going to ask me. I was selling papers and when I tell you it's going to be hard to believe. Okay, first I was shining shoes. Me and my buddies was shining shoes. And uptown every Saturday we would go and shine shoes. And these guys was about-some of them was my age and some was a little bit older. But we would go uptown and we would shine shoes. Daddy had fixed me a little shoeshine box and we'd shine shoes. They were giving us $0.10 for shining shoes, you know, some people-although back in that time, times was hard. Still, some guys would walk around with big wads of money in their pockets. [Unintelligible.] And they liable to give you $10.00, just shining shoes.
And sometime you might be lucky enough to go in a store and where somebody had lost five or ten dollars-just be laying on the floor there. You find it, well then you may have $40.00 when you go home. Yeah, you know what I'm trying to say. Somebody would lose money and stuff-didn't have no name on it, didn't have nothing, just laying on the floor. And if you saw it, well you found it, cause it was laying on the floor. It didn't belong to nobody, but whoever I guess found it, well you know, it was theirs. [Police siren can be heard in background]
ABLES: So for a young boy, you made quite a bit of cash doing that.
JEFFERO: Well, yeah, shining shoes. Now we used to do that on Saturday, though, because I might come home with forty or fifty dollars sometimes. But I was getting paid for a shoeshine-$0.10, but a guy have a big wad of money and I guess he just wanted everybody to see it, so he'd pull his wad out there and he's liable, when you get through, to give you $10.00. And that was a lot of money at that time and we'd take it home and, you know, be happy for that.
So while we were doing that, this lady-well I'm not gonna call her name. I remember her. Her name was Francis. Well, I'll just say Francis, then. I won't call all her name. But she was the distributor of newspapers from Houston, but she'd do it in Huntsville. And so Ms. Wallace asked me if I would take a paper route. You know, cause she brought them every day. She was a distributor for the newspaper and the newspaper that she was distributing was The Houston Chronicle.
And so she asked me if I would take it so I said-Okay I'm going to go back to my dad. My dad didn't want us to do no kind of work because he say he quit-well actually he left home at eight-years old. And so he was scared that we was gonna quit school and so he didn't want us to work. But I told this lady I would if my mother would let me, cause I figured she could talk to my dad, cause my dad, he definitely didn't want us to work.
Because matter of fact. He wouldn't even let my mother work. I guess he believed in women being at home and being a stay-home mom. But now I'll tell you what she would have been making, though, if she were working. I can understand, but he didn't want her to work so she stayed home. She was a stay-home mom. And it ended up it was six of us that got to be grown. You know, that lived, you know, grown.
And so I told Ms. Wallace that I would have to talk to my mother, you know, see if she could probably talk my dad into it. And I don't know whether she told him or not, but she, you know, said it would be alright. And at that time, I didn't know how much I'd be making.
And so the next Saturday when she was there, she said, "Well your mother said you could work. So what I'll do, I'll bring these papers here and all you'll have to do is deliver them. And it's close to where you live." So it must have been close to the Sawmill Quarter, although we weren't living in the Sawmill Quarter, but it was a lot of people living in the Sawmill Quarter.
Okay, and I'll tell you how it was arranged. They had the white people-you get to their house first. Then you get to the Spanish people house, they was in. [Unintelligible.] When you get through the Spanish people, well then the next was the black people. You know, and that's where they lived. And my dad bought us a home. And I guess it was already paid for because I never [unintelligible]-you know I pay attention to everything. I guess he had already paid for it when he moved from New Willard. He had a three bedroom house and it was new-had just had got through building it. I don't know who built it, but I know we lived in it.
And then I had an uncle, which was Ned Jerden. He was my mother's brother. He lived in the same community and we didn't live too far from the sawmill. They could walk to the sawmill if they wanted to and at that time Dad had a car then and later on I think he wrecked it and later on he would walk because he had wrecked his car. You know, so it wasn't far. And sometimes we'd take him dinner and we would walk to the sawmill. It wasn't nowhere from the house.
And so this lady, she sit down and she said, "Now I don't want you to collect any money from these folks." She said, "All I want you to do is deliver the papers. And I'm gonna collect the money once a month." That was a good thing, you know. I knew that was a good deal, cause people won't hardly pay you and stuff, but I figured they must've paid her cause she said, "I'll give you $40.00 a month." And that was a whole lot of money then, $40.00.
And plus when I shined them shoes and stuff and all like that, well, you know, I had a pretty good little money at the end of the week, you know. But she said, "I'm gonna pay you $40.00 a month." She paid me once a month, cash, and that's exactly what she did.
And I did that I guess until I got pretty good size cause I don't never remember stopping that job. Cause I started selling some more papers. Other papers, you know, like GRITs. You've probably heard about GRITs. [GRIT was popular twentieth century rural weekly newspaper that later became a magazine.] I guess once you got them, if you bought some, well you had to pay for them first, and they was $0.04. It was $0.07 in all. You paid $0.04 per copy to the company. You'd mail that in after you had sold a paper. You'd send $0.04 in for each paper and then you would keep $0.03.
So I was selling GRITs and then I had some other kind of papers that they'd make once a month. It was some kind of black paper. They'd make it once a month and I would sell them at the end of the month when they come out. They just come out once a month, so I would sell them.
And after that and with my shoe shine and all that, well I had my big ole baking powder can that I would keep my money in. So the parents, they wouldn't take my money, but if I heard that they-you know, looked like money was running short, well I'd offer it to them. And so they would take it then.
They'd say, "We don't want to take your money, cause this is your money and so you save it." So I'd save it in a baking powder can. And so every now and then they got in a tight, you know, well then I would tell them whatever they need, they could get it. And then maybe, at Christmas time or something like that, if I wanted to buy anything I could buy it whenever I wanted to buy something. But generally if I wanted something they would always get it for me, you know.
And so I did that and then one day on the 19th of June, that was like yesterday, you know. But during that time black people didn't work on the 19th of June. They didn't. They just didn't work. I'm talking about if they got a job they wouldn't go to work. You know, if it's the 19th of June. I went to Plaza's Coffee Shop. That was in Huntsville. I don't know if you've ever heard of Plaza's Coffee Shop. It's still there cause sometimes I go through Huntsville cause I got some land and a home and stuff up there. Now, you know. And so sometimes I go to Huntsville and it's still there, you know, Plaza's Coffee Shop.
And so I would bus the dishes. Okay, I was eight-years old, then. [Sound of interviewer turning page in notebook] I would bus the dishes, you know. It was café-like-so I would bus the dishes-then they had dish washers then. And so I'd take the dishes and I would wash the dishes. And then I would take them back up front there and put them wherever they supposed to be put, you know they had the waiters and all that up front. And then I'd pick up the other dirty dishes and bring them back there-They had dish washers and all like that.
And it was paying $0.10 an hour. So that was like ten-a dollar a day cause we worked about ten hours. So that'd be a dollar then and at the end of the week, well then they would give us $10.00. And you could eat a meal. Well they knew you was going to eat so they'd take the $10.00 out, you know what I'm trying to say.
And so they had a black guy. He was over the kitchen, and so when I went there well, he was glad to see me cause he didn't have no help. So he say, "I'm glad you here." He said, "You know, this is the 19th of June. Ain't nobody came to work." And so he said, "I'm gonna let you work and from now on if you need any work, well you just come by here and we'll make sure you get a chance to do some work."
So I said, "Okay." Okay, that was as good as I want it, cause I was over there some evening after school and I'd work maybe four or five hours. Now I was working with women-grown women that was old as my mamma. And so they would wanna get a little break. Now you wasn't making but $10.00 a week. But sometimes they give me $5.00 to let them off about four or five hours. So that was as good as I want. They paid me cash. Just give me cash and I'd work until closing time.
And like I said, some of those women was as old as my mother, but they made the same amount of money that I made. I made the same thing that they made. And then after I had that job and I was getting a little older and everything like that well when I got about twelve years old, well then I started working at the sawmill. But the men was making $0.55 an hour. You know then, they were making $0.55 an hour. Times was getting pretty good and they was making $0.55 an hour. The millwright and the sawmill boss-I don't know what they were making but I know they were making more than $0.55 an hour. But I was making the same thing the men was making. You know I wasn't nothing but a kid but I was doing the same thing they was doing so they paid me the same amount of money, but my dad was making-I know a dollar and something. I don't know what the something was, but he was making a dollar and something an hour.
And so he was working there, but he was working twelve hours a day, every day. And like I say, I noticed everything-if he didn't work-if he just worked thirty minutes, they gave him-paid for full a day. Cause he was the edger, all the lumber had to come through him . And if they wanted to make a certain thing-the guy that owned the mill-well they would tell him how many different pieces he wanted made and he could make all of it. He knew how to put the saws and things together and line them up and everything like that. And so he was a pretty important guy. And so he made more than all the rest of them with the exception of, like I said-I didn't know what the boss man was making, but I know he was making more than that. And his son was a millwright, which you know fixed stuff when it got-so I imagine he was making a dollar and something.
And then we had a sawyer, which Daddy called Mr. Frederick and I imagine Mr. Frederick was making a dollar and something, so everybody else was making $0.55, including myself. I wasn't nothing but a kid so that was good money for me. Kept on, kept on, kept on stuff like that. So I guess he figured, "Well he ain't gonna quite school so I ain't gonna say nothing to him." So I just kept on, kept on, kept on working, kept on working.
And then the sisters and stuff-sometimes they would chop cotton and sometimes they would pick cotton. I could pick two hundred pounds a day. A lot of people couldn't pick that much cotton, but I could pick two hundred pounds. So sometimes I'd pick cotton. Like I said, if the mill wasn't running and it was in the summer time or something like that, well I'd go with them if the mill wasn't running. I'd go with them and pick cotton. They were paying like a dollar fifty a hundred, and I could pick two hundred pounds so I could make me $3.00.
And then if we was chopping cotton, they paid $0.30 a hour. And so I would chop cotton and that would've been $3.00 for a whole day, which was ten hours at that time. So that was pretty good money then for a young person and everything like that. [The Jeffero home receives a phone call at this point in the recording].
And that's probably all the kind of work that I was doing then. Off and on. But we sold hogs at school. I was going to school. And so we would raise hogs for the fest stock show. And so I raised a hog every year. One year I went to the bank. Now I had never saw my daddy borrow no money from a bank and I don't think he ever borrowed from anybody cause he worked seven days a week and he sold wood for $2.00 a load. They gave him the wood that he was selling. All he had to do-in his spare time, he'd go out there and cut it. He'd cut it up with one of them saws and things and he would sell it cause that's all people was using probably at home-had wood stoves and wood heaters and all like that so he would do that. He would make $2.00 a load. He might sell three or four loads, depending on what the people needed. Like I said, he worked every day. He worked seven days a week. But now if he worked-if he went out there-and if the mill wasn't running and they wanted him to work, which they would most times. But he'd go out there with whoever the boss man would be and the millwright. He would go out there with them and he would work right alongside of them. Sometimes he worked all day and sometimes if they didn't have to work all day then he might just take those saws and oil them up and put some more on it, and he might work two hours, and he'd get paid for a full day. You know, that's the kind of guy he was. They'd pay him a full day.
And how I knew that, I was a kid but I was watching. I was watching all that so I pretty well knew everything that was going on. And so when I got fourteen years old, I went to the bank. And so I told the banker, cause I was going to feed that hog; I told the banker that I wanted to feed the hog for the fest stock show and I wanted $300.00. And $300.00 was a whole lot of money then. Actually, I hadn't seen nobody borrow no money and I ain't never borrowed none. But that was a lot of money during that time cause people wasn't making a lot of money. So I guess the banker was thinking, "Well how in the world this kid here wanna borrow some money and he ain't gonna be able to pay it back? We ain't gonna let him have the money." I guess they were saying that to hisselfs. So the guy, he said, "How you gonna pay this money back?" I told him, I said, "I'm feeding out a hog." "What you gonna do with it?" I says, "Feeding a hog and we gonna take it to the fest stock show in Houston." And I told him the time and everything. He said, "Well how much you gonna get for the hog?" Well during that time, well I figured about what I was gonna make out cause they may give you as much as-I'd say $500.00 for the fest stock show. So I say, "Well, I'll probably get about five or six hundred dollars back-when I get that back". I told him exactly when I was gonna bring it cause I knew when the fest stock show was gonna be and everything like that and I knew I was gonna get more than $300.00. So I told him I would pay him back then. So he looked and he scratched his head. This is a man, you know, and I'm nothing but a boy. I was about fourteen years old. So he said, "You gonna need a co-signer." So I told him, I said, "I don't want no co-signer." I said, "I'm gonna pay the money back when I sell my hog, and I'm gonna sell the hog." Told him where I was selling it. He said, "Okay." So he said, "Well, I'll tell you". He say, "I'm gonna let you have this money but if you don't pay it back when you say you gonna pay it back , you ain't never gonna be able to borrow it no more." I said, "Okay, I'm gonna pay you back."
And so I did and after I paid him back, well from then on every year I would borrow $300.00. And he would let me have it. And so that's the way I got into borrowing money and stuff from the bank. But I ain't never seen my daddy borrow no money from the bank and I don't believe he ever borrowed any from the bank. Like I said, he worked every day. I had never seen him borrow no money from the bank .
But now he wouldn't let my mother work. But I'm gonna tell you what they were paid. Do you what they were paying during that time? And she was a school teacher. But do you know what school teachers making during that time?
ABLES: No sir, I don't.
JEFFERO: Do you have an idea? [Chuckles] Well now, you can ask some of the older people, and they'll tell you the same if they knew. You don't have no idea what school teachers make in that day. I know you would think they was making a lot of money, wouldn't you?
ABLES: Well, ideally.
JEFFERO: Now they making pretty good money now, but that ain't been too long started making that kind of money. I'd say maybe ten years ago they started making-I'd say not a whole lot of money but started making pretty good money-money that I think they supposed to actually earn-that amount of money. But $25.00 a month. Now that's hard to believe. It's hard to believe, but you just ask some of the older folks now. I'm talking about if they know, they will tell you.
And I'll tell you the way I found out. You say, "Well, now how in the world a kid gonna find out that kind of stuff?" And the way I found out. I found one of my aunties which was a school teacher. And she was teaching at Oakhurst, Texas. And so I was down there visiting my grandfather. And so she would get on her horse-and school was going on-she'd get on her horse and she'd ride it to Oakhurst from where my grandfather lived. My grandfather-he lived about maybe fifteen, sixteen miles. But she'd get up real early and she'd saddle that horse up and she would go up there.
And so she wrote a letter to my grandfather and grandmother saying that she was not gonna teach school anymore because they didn't pay but $25.00 a month, and most of that was in old IOUs, so that means they was paying on credit. They would hold some of the money out. I guess they didn't have it. They might not get paid that. So they said she was gonna go to Houston and work in the homes in Houston and I think they had places for the maids to live and everything like that. And she say they paid $40.00 a month. And you didn't have nothing. Didn't have to buy no food or nothing cause they had them living quarters in the back. So that's where the maids and stuff would stay. And I guess they had a room, kind of, on the side of that, or something like that for the handyman. And so that's how I found out. That's what she making and that's what she did. She didn't teach no more after that year.
And then they went from-cause I started watching then-$25.00 to $50.00. They paid them $50.00 a week and that hadn't been too long cause that was during my time, you know. $50.00. But I never did make $50.00 when I started work. They were paying like-Let me see, what were they paying? They paid $50.00. Then it went from fifty to a hundred. And then they went up to like two hundred. And I was about old enough to work when they started paying a hundred. And then they paid that for a few years, then it went up.
I figured out the reason why they were paying-now that's supposed to be people that are training the young folks so that they could make a living and where they could work. And I said, "Wonder why these folks training the folks-why do they pay them so little?" I couldn't figure that out, you know. Then I got to thinking one day. I say, "I know what it was, and I think I'm right." Now what do you think the reason why they was paying them teachers so little?
ABLES: Well, I know we had talked a little bit about it in class yesterday. Earlier you actually weren't required to have a degree to teach.
JEFFERO: Now some of them wasn't, and I found this out. Now the black teachers had degrees, but the white teachers didn't have none. That's the truth. Okay, but that's not the reason why they wasn't paying them nothing. Because-and the reason why I found out the black teachers had degrees and the white teachers didn't-That's when I got to be a teenager, you know, and I listened to everything and I looked around. Okay, and then we got some information and I got hold to it at the school. And the information said they was fixing to require-and they did, cause it ain't been too long required-you had to have a degree, a four year degree. Now all the black folks had it, but the white people didn't have it, you understand, cause they didn't require them to have it. They were going to different schools and now they're going to the same schools, you know.
And so they started requiring it. That ain't been too long ago. I wanna say maybe thirty years ago they started requiring everybody had to have a four year degree, you understand. And I was thinking then that everybody had one! But I'd say, "Y'all already got degrees." They say, "Yeah but the white teachers didn't have to have no degree." So they just had maybe two years. Some had one. They was teaching but they didn't have no degree. They wasn't required to have one. I guess the black teachers-now I'm saying this-had degrees because they figured that they would make more money, but they didn't. But they already had that degree and we were going to school and everything like that.
But anyway, after that, when that was circulating, I found out then that-I was still in high school-they didn't have, you know. I said, "Uh-uh". You know. Later then they started requiring it, so they had to go back to school. But now the reason why, I figured-white people had maids, you understand what I'm trying to say? I mean, what do you think they were paying them maids there? A week?
ABLES: I have no idea.
JEFFERO: Okay, well I found out. I'd listen to the old folks talk. You know they wasn't talking to me, but I'd listen now and then, and this is no lie. I know this to be a fact and you may not know. They were paying them $2.50 a week. Everybody wasn't paid that cause everybody didn't do that kind of work. But the ones that did it, that's all they were making. $2.50 a week.
Now things was cheap then! You may not know, but things was cheap. Cause I remember myself when lights and things was a dollar fifty. And if you had any water, which a lot of people didn't-you would go down to them springs and get that water outta there. Clean water, you know and everything like that, so you might pay for your gas, light bill, gas bill, and stuff like that. You might pay $3.00 a month! But people wasn't making a whole lotta money then, you know. Now this is when-the fees and things went up for sawmill men and I started working at the sawmill. I was going to school in the summer and all like that and I would make the same thing the men would make.
But just like I said, you had a few like my daddy was making a dollar something an hour but a majority of the rest of them wasn't making but like $0.55. For a whole hour. I don't know, there might be some of them making less than that, but I figured all of them probably were making about $0.55 an hour. I figured that out, you know.
Now you might say-and I imagine they probably was wondering then, too, "How in the world can these folks work for $2.50 a whole week?" And they had to get to work before daylight. Cause they had to cook for other people. And then had to probably get their kids ready for school, you know. And so that's the reason why they had it, and then they stayed until dark. See they got there in the dark and they left in the dark. They didn't pay no hourly wage. So they left in the dark, but now the good thing about that-out of everything they had left-there wasn't no refrigeration then. People start where they have a little ice or they'd dig a little hole and put it in there with a croaker sack [A burlap bag, or sack, used to hold frogs while other "croakers" were being caught; used mostly in the South] or something they could wrap around there, you know where they could kind of keep things cooler.
But they didn't have that so what they would do. Everything, when the maid got through working and everything, well they get everything that was left over-they gave it to them. And they may have had ten or fifteen kids at home. Some cases, you know I know some cases like that at that time. So they would feed like fifteen or twenty people out of that food that they took. You know, took home, they gave them all of that cause if didn't eat it because it was going to be ruint-cause they didn't have no refrigeration. And so that's the reason why that they was able to make it, cause they liable to feed, like I said, fifteen to twenty people outta that, you know.
Course the people they were working for didn't know it. Well, they knowed they was giving it to them but they didn't know how they were making it off with that small amount of money. You understand what I'm trying to say? And so, you know that rocked on, and rocked on, and rocked on.
But now the reason why, and I figured this out myself. And then after I got grown, I asked some of the teachers cause I was a teacher myself, then. So I asked them, I said, "One thing I can't understand." They said, "What is that?" I said, "Why they pay the teachers so little and they the ones training the people to work and do different things like that?" So I figured. I told them cause they say, "You about right", when I told them that. And why do you figure they wasn't giving those women-cause most of them was women. There wasn't no men-very few men teachers. Most of them was women. So why you figured they wasn't giving the women what they supposed to give them [laughter]?
ABLES: [Chuckles] I don't know, sir.
JEFFERO: Well I figured that out myself. The women really didn't need to work. Cause the man was making enough money to take care of them, you understand what I'm trying to say?
ABLES: Yes, sir.
JEFFERO: So they didn't have to pay them that! I believe that's the way it was, and I still believe that's the way it was. Now my mother, she was a stay-at-home mother, but my daddy-and I imagine that she was glad cause he wasn't making much money-he wouldn't have let her work. I'm talking about, the money he made, well that took care of everything. And like I said, he made a little bit more than the average man, during that time. Cause he knew how to edge and he could pretty well do anything around that mill.
Okay, now he had a third grade education. Okay. But he could read and he could write. In third grade I guess they taught you a whole lot then. But he could read and write. And his side job was hauling wood and stuff. Well then he would [unintelligible] for men for clothes-for suits and stuff. He'd send it off and they'd send them back and everything like that so he made a little money on the side. You know. And so I watched Dad. I said, "Mhmm", you know. So he always had some money coming in, you know.
During that time they didn't have drugs and stuff. If they did, you know, all those old [unintelligible] was getting drunk off them local weeds and stuff during that time. But didn't too many people know about them local weeds. And so it wasn't people coming in and I guess it must've been up North. They'd come to the schools and everything and they was talking to the kids at school, telling them about drugs and all like that. Ain't nobody know nothing about no drugs cause there wasn't no drugs but I guess that helped them know something about them, and I guess some of them, they didn't have nothing but that corn whiskey. They making that corn whiskey and stuff and they was selling that, but other than that, it wasn't no drugs. Now they fixing to make marijuana, you know. Why they won't put you in jail about it, you know? That's what they're trying to do now, and they gonna do it cause they said it ain't no better than whiskey. It won't hurt you. It ain't bad as whiskey.
Well that's the way the moonshining stuff got to where they wouldn't lock you up about it if you had your license and stuff. And did you remember where you didn't have to have no license to drive no car? Oh, you're too young. How old are you?
ABLES: I'm 25.
JEFFERO: Twenty-five. Yeah, you about five years younger than my youngest son. Yeah, he's 30. My youngest son is. My oldest is 57. And I'm 78 and my wife is 73.
ABLES: Mr. Jeffero, I want to skip ahead a little bit. We've talked a lot about your experiences growing up. I want to get to where you moved to Lufkin. Now, I read in an earlier interview and you can correct me if I'm wrong-
JEFFERO: Yeah, right. You probably read right, but anyways, I can tell you again. I remember-
ABLES: You had said in the earlier interview you moved to Lufkin in 1958. Is that correct?
JEFFERO: No. 1956.
ABLES: 1956? Okay.
JEFFERO: Yeah. You was close. Cause my first job I got-well I'll have to tell you how I got that and I'll try to make it fast. How I got my first job-you know I played football.
ABLES: Yes, sir.
JEFFERO: Two times the national champs.
[End of Part 1 of Interview]
[Beginning of Part 2 of Inverview]
JEFFERO: No, it was three times the national champs. It was '53, '54, and '55. We played a bowl game on the 1st of January. We played TSU [Texas Southern University] in Houston every January. [Unintelligible.] Now that was in 1956. Now I don't know exactly what happened, but I got an idea what happened. You ever been to Littlefield, Texas?
ABLES: No, sir.
JEFFERO: That's out in West Texas. Where the sand blows and all that kind of stuff. I hadn't ever been out there either. So they called me in. The Teacher's Trainer's Office called me in. And I was gonna graduate. They had it all set up, I knew when I was supposed to graduate: on the 22nd of January. And so that was in January then, so they called me in and asked me if I would take a job-Littlefield, Texas. I said, "Where is that?" They said, "This is out in West Texas." I said, "They tell me them people out in West Texas not too cool." The guy told me, "No, they are just like they are in East Texas." So that kind of made me feel better then. They say, "Would you take a job out there? The head coach. Head football coach."
I wasn't even thinking about going to work then, you know. I wanted to work, though. [Unintelligible] I don't know, they might've been giving me the money he had left, you know. Everybody was just paying them for nine months. Cause that was my first job. So they might've raised my work cause I was getting like two-fifty and three hundred a month. I didn't work but four months out there.
And so they said, "When you gonna graduate?" I said, "January the 22nd." That's when I'm supposed to graduate. So I said, "So I can't go out there." They said, "Well they need you out there on January the 13th." I'm the head coach. I got an assistant and I had-I'll probably find it.
But anyway, they say, "What if we give you your exams early?" I said, "Well, that would probably be good." So they did. They gave me my exams early and so I was ready to go. I was already married. Me and my wife. Cause we married on the-and I think I already got it wrote down-1954, June the 25th. And so this June the 25, will be married how many years?
ABLES: Let's see. 1954?
ABLES: Let's see, about 58 years?
JEFFERO: Exactly. You're right. 58 years [unintelligible.] Just turn around and look up at top there. My daughter gave us our 50th anniversary. You see that 50th-? [Mr. Jeffero pointed to ceramic item in a display shelf in the foyer that celebrates his 50th anniversary with his wife, Edrine Jeffero. There is no photograph of this item.]
ABLES: Yes, sir.
JEFFERO: Okay, alright. My daughter, Rhonda-she lives in Houston. I just talked to her today. So she paid for everything cause the wife had asked me, "Well, what are we gonna do for the 50th anniversary?" I said, "Well, last person I knew that had a 50th anniversary, they got unmarried after that!" That's what I said. But anyway, I guess she heard us or something, cause she gave it here in Lufkin. 50th Anniversary and she paid for the whole thing. I don't know how much it cost, but I bet it cost a whole lot of money. But she paid for it and we were really happy. Still happy that she did that.
Well actually first thing I thought about cause, like I said, I was married, and a few things I didn't have in my little house. I had a little house right next to my mother's and everything. So a few things I didn't have. So I bought me a new stove and I didn't know how much I was gonna be making, but I bought me a new stove. But I'll tell you this; I went to the bank and got it. I always paid my money back, so I borrowed $1,000.00 that time. Cause I figured I'd at least make that amount of money. I just figured that, you know. I spent $1,000.00. I borrowed $1,000.00. That's what I did. So I caught the bus and went out there. I got there-just four days. I had never been out there before. The principal met me and I didn't know him and he didn't know me, but I guess he knew when he saw me and I got off the bus and I had told him that I was gonna ride the bus, you know. So he had a house, the principal did. He had been out there thirteen years. And he had a wife and he had one son that was living-he had two more sons, but they were grown and they were gone, but this other son he was going to high school there. And his wife stayed next door and he had this house already furnished, but didn't nobody stay in it. And so he was a nice fella. He had a big ole deep freeze about full from here to I'm gonna say about to that place, there. [Gestures with hands the size of the deep freeze in relation to the room.]
And so he told me that I could eat anything, and he had a lot of rabbits and stuff in there. Meat and stuff. Vegetables and all like that. He said, "You eat anything you want to." So that was good. I told my wife as soon as she got-I thought she left a week after I did. Got out there now a week. And we had never stayed together before cause my second year in college and her second year in high school is when we got married. So I told her, "Come on down." And so she said she got down there about two weeks later. I thought it was a week. Still think it was a week, but she said this, so I guess she's telling the truth. So she got down there about two weeks later. She rode all night. She brought my oldest son, which is Junior. He got a picture now inside there, but anyway [interviewee gestured to picture case.] So he's 57 now, but he was a little toddler. So she brought him. I think I was about 21. I wanted the kids to think I was an old man. But now she looked like she was nothing but a little girl. So they'd come by the house and boy, they'd-"Is your daddy home?" [Laughter.] So that would tickle her. She'd say, "Yeah, he home."
So I was the head coach. My assistant coach, he was an old guy. I got his picture here somewhere. He was an old guy, but he was a nice fella. So he was my assistant coach. I think he was about-I don't know, he looked like he was about as old as I am now, but I don't think he was quite that old. [Phone rings and Mr. Jeffero shuffles through his papers.]
Yeah, here. Now my son in Houston, he looked just like that. Now that's what I looked like then. I just had won 2nd place in a tournament at Lubbock Tech [not found. Possibly referring to Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas]. That's where they played the district basketball. [A picture is shown of Mr. Jeffero in uniform with a trophy. See photo entitled Jeffero 002.]
ABLES: So that was still when you were at Prairie View?
JEFFERO: No. I was out in West Texas. Littlefield, Texas.
JEFFERO: That was my first job. We won 2nd place. We could've won 1st place cause we had-those boys could play ball, you know. And I don't give myself credit for none. But I had to keep them organized. This is my assistant coach, there. Yeah, he's my assistant. [Identifies man at the far left of the photograph entitled Jeffero 002.]
And so they said, "We want you out on the 13th". So I went on out there and everything like that so we had a tournament and everything like that. We'd like to won the game, but we didn't. The tournament. But we didn't win it, but we were close. And so about a couple of weeks after that-it was in February. So we won 2nd in the district in basketball and we won the district in field and track. Nobody beat us in that. And we went to the state and we won 2nd Place State with two points off of the state. So we didn't get anything then, but it's just good to know you was just two points off. Two more points, we would've won, so we went down there and we stayed about a week and everything, so they took care of our expenses there. And let me tell you a little truth.
So after we won the district, well we had a coach from Prairie View. I knew him, but he was an older guy. I guess I'm gonna say he was 40. I don't know how old he was. So I was 20. So I figured that he was about 40. He had his masters and everything so they got him cause they had a meeting. The board. We had seven white board members. They met with us at the black school in the black neighborhood. And so when they met with us, the first thing they said was, "We're going to integrate effective-", and I didn't know it when I come up-I still would have went out there if I had known that I wasn't going to be out there for a year. Cause school was out in May. May the 25th, I never will forget.
So they told us, "We don't wanna." Now I knew that. It didn't take nobody to be too smart to not know that. They said, "We don't want to integrate. But we don't like to be pushed around." Now that's what they said. And I understood that, too. But the school-when I first got there they had a sign on there that it had been-but now it wouldn't rain or nothing like that. We had school [unintelligible.] But they said it been condemned for ten years. I said, "Ten years?" [Unintelligible.] I said, "I wonder what's wrong?" It wouldn't rain or nothing like that, but it was condemned. That should've told me something, but it wouldn't have mattered though, cause I was already out there. So I said, "Maybe before I leave, maybe they will be done fixin' it." I just said that to myself, cause I didn't even know they were fixin to integrate. Well I knew people, and I still know people. So the black folks was saying, "Well, we don't want to integrate, either." They didn't want any white people teaching their children. And the white people, they said, "We don't want any black people teaching our kids." [Unintelligible.] I'm just listening. The first time I've been out there in West Texas. I'm just listening to them. And so when they got through talking, the board-we had seven board members. [Train whistle.]
And so they asked me if I would bring my boys down there sometime before school's out and let them meet their boys. I told them I would. And so they said that effective September the 1st that they were gonna integrate. They were gonna take all of the kids, but no adults. Now, you know the reason why that didn't surprise me?
ABLES: Why's that?
JEFFERO: They didn't take no black teachers. Nothing but just the kids. Do you have an idea why they would do that?
ABLES: Because they didn't want the white teachers to lose their jobs?
JEFFERO: No, the white teachers were already there at the school. Just the kids from the black school was the ones going to the all white school. September the 1st. [Phone rings]
Now the principal-I didn't care, but the principal had been there. You know how long he had been there and had his home and everything? He had been there thirteen years. And I believe he already knew that that was going on because of what he said. When they said that, well you know what he said? He said, "I resign on the spot." He wasn't principal no more. He could've been if he had wanted to stay, but he didn't. He let his wife and his son stay and all the other teachers-I think we had about thirteen teachers with me. And so nobody else resigned on the spot. But he did.
And so they had an Air Force base right close to the school. So this is what he said. He said, "I'm an Air Force mechanic. I resign on the spot." He said, "I'm not teaching anymore." That's what he said, and he did just that. His wife stayed, but nobody else. So they got this other guy from-he had a master's degree. I knew this guy. He was Mr. Taylor. That's what I always called him. He was an older fella. I believe he was in his forties, I believe. I didn't know how old he was, but he had his masters and everything at that time. [Phone rings.]
But I knew that the first school-and then I always say, "You don't have to be too smart to know that"-that they wasn't going to hire any black teachers, which I thought that was a wrong thing and a bad thing. Cause I knew they wasn't going to be able to continue like that. First school could do it. First town, but nobody else could do it. And so that's just the way it went.
That was the wrong thing cause if you fighting all these wars and things when they had these wars and things. You know what I'm trying to say? No way for us, now. Black people didn't have to. Now I guess they was scared to let them fight in the war cause they might be scared if they get their hands on a gun, what they would do. And I guess a lot of them had guns cause a lot of them killed people with [unintelligible.] And they hadn't ever been to the service that hadn't gone. They just killed. Cause they always had guns cause most peoples and countries, they always would. I don't know why, but eventually they started-Dory Miller. Have you ever heard of Dory Miller? [African-American sailor from Texas who is famous for firing on Japanese zeros during the attack of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.]
ABLES: Yes, sir.
JEFFERO: Well you know that he was a cook on that ship? And he's the one that turned all those Japanese back. Did you know that?
ABLES: Yes, sir.
JEFFERO: Well that's what I'm saying. He wasn't even allowed to shoot no gun, but I guess he watched them shoot. And he grabbed a gun, cause I guess everybody else was scared cause they wasn't expecting those Japanese to come up there in them planes and things. So Dory Miller turned back and he wasn't allowed to shoot no gun. And that was a good thing.
But after that time the government stepped in, which they was supposed to. Because if you fighting everybody else, telling them to make sure that one vote, one person-and everybody had equal opportunities and things like that. Need to practice what you preach. Now that's what I always figured. You need to practice what you preach. Cause they had colored water and they had colored bathrooms. They had white water and they had white bathrooms. It wouldn't have been so bad but they were trying to tell everybody else what to do and how to treat their people. You know, be fair. That's what I think about it, it's being fair. You know what I'm trying to say? Be fair. Now you over there killing them other people and putting them out of office if they wouldn't vote.
They weren't allowed to vote and they messing with our votes now. They're against Obama [President of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama, elected 2008] just because-I believe the color of his skin. I believe I'm right and you know that ain't right. That's not right. And they know it's not right, but I'm just seeing how its gonna come out. You believe there's a God? [Interviewer nods] Okay, well I do, too. And I believe that He's gonna-cause he wouldn't have got in there. I guess he surprised all of us. I didn't figure to have a black president. But now the night that won him in there, just caused them not to cooperate with him. I'm talking about that ain't right and that don't make no sense at all. I'm talking about for nobody. It don't make no sense. And it ain't just got like that, but it looks like it's getting worse. A divided house can't stand. Because if you preaching one thing and then they wanna do this.
And you know, my wife, she already schooled me cause she know I talk a lot. And when I get ready to talk, I always tell the truth, and I always been like that. And she told me what to not to say and what to not, you know. But I just believe in everybody-and I don't care who know it and my dad was the same way. Yeah, my dad he was the same way. You didn't cross Bill Jeffero. And they knew it, white or black. He was that kind of person. He didn't bother nobody. He was a good man. And he didn't bother nobody, but he treated everybody right and he wanted to be treated right.
So everything will work out like it's supposed to. Cause I believe in God and I treat everybody right and I've feel like in the end, right is gonna win. Now that's one reason why I'm just telling you this and I know people. Been knowing people all my life. When those boys went to the service at twelve-years old, I could've gone, but right then things [unintelligible] in my mind. Why would I go? But I know the reason why those boys went. Cause their daddies wasn't home. They didn't have no dads at home and they could send a check back to their mom. But my dad was home and he took care. Like I said, he worked seven days a week. And I knew he was gonna prepare for us, cause he didn't even want his boys at work, but I guess my mother talked him out of not saying nothing to me. But he didn't bother nobody. That's the first thing. I didn't try to keep them guys from going. My uncles and stuff, they went. They didn't die. Now I had some students that died in the Korea conflict. Down there at Diboll. I was teaching at Diboll.
So that was 19 and 56. That's when I opened up that AG department. [Agriculture Department.] They didn't have no AG. And so Mr. Willie Massey [spelling not confirmed] from Diboll-I had never seen him before. On my way home, what I did though, I bought me a car. I caught the bus down there, but when I left, we left [unintelligible.] I drove all night to Huntsville, Texas. Me and my wife and my little-I guess he was one-year old. I don't know the exact hour it was, but he was a little toddler. So we drove all day to Huntsville. And the next day after I got there, a guy from Willis, Texas-you ever heard of Willis, Texas? [located north of Houston, south of Huntsville].
ABLES: Yes, sir.
JEFFERO: And I didn't know this guy. But he came up to me and he gave me a job. He offered me a job. And I wondered how in the world this guy know-and he didn't know, I guess it was the Lord. So he wanted to know if I would take the head coach job. He had just lost his head coach in Willis, Texas. He wanted me to be the head coach. And then he offered me -and I had never heard about the Boy Scouts. The Girl Scouts and stuff like that. [Unintelligible]-I had never heard of it. So he wanted to know if I would take a job as his head coach. So I hadn't signed no contract or nothing at that time, so I said, "Sure, I accept it." And he said, "Well, we want you to start work in September. September the 1st." I said, "Okay." But I never got a chance to work there. Because I had walked back out to the sawmill, cause you know I didn't worry about getting my hands dirty. And I knew I had worked at the sawmill before out there with my dad-well I didn't work right side of him. I worked out there but I didn't cause I knew he didn't want me working, but he didn't care. He didn't say nothing, he just laughed. Cause he figured, I guess, that I wouldn't quit school cause I didn't.
And so I was stacking lumber. Mr. Willie Massey from Diboll, and I had never seen him before. And I didn't see him that day. But I saw him that weekend. So he wanted to know if-cause they had gone uptown to eat during lunch hour-and so he came by the house. And so we went by the house and we talked with my mother and my wife. And so he said, "If he wants the job I want him to open up the AG department. We never had agriculture before." And so they assured him that I probably would and that I'd be there that Saturday-come Saturday to talk with him. And so I talked with him that Saturday, cause that was my field, you know?
ABLES: Yes, sir.
JEFFERO: Vocational Agriculture. So I'd rather have that cause I know-our football people-they was gonna want me to kind of help them with the boys and everything. So I know I told them that I would if it didn't interfere with my AG job. And which it didn't, but I told him that cause I know people. Cause they say, "Well we take advantage of this guy here. We have him working out there every day." I worked out there with them when I wanted to, but I didn't let them leave everything to me. So I enjoyed it. I stayed there at Diboll, I believe it was twelve years. And I enjoyed Diboll. I liked Diboll. Cause Diboll had the first mill that I worked at. And I moonlighted at night. And I was the highest paid teacher there cause I taught AG and it was straight twelve months. The rest of them-nine months, and they divided it up like they do now. And so I went on and worked and opened up the AG and they made me over there a little money, cause we kind of raise our own money and stuff during that time for the school. Cause you know, black schools didn't get much. And Mr. Massey, he owned the bus. And so sometime out there he'd drive the bus for us. I lived for about a year and a half in-he had a house out there in Nigton. Which I got some students that I taught stay right across there. They from Nigton. And I remember when they was in high school. [Phone rings].
So I started work on July the 1st, cause that's when the AG job started. Cause it worked straight twelve months. So I went on and I signed the contract and started work. And I enjoyed it and then the Boy Scouts-I don't know what they heard about me, but I guess-I said, "It must've been good." Cause did you know I never applied for a job and got it? I never applied for a job and got it. People always come looking for me. Never applied. I would know how to apply for a job, but I ain't never had to do it.
After Mr. Massey got me there, well he had me to be his person over the money cause we had kids. The girls and stuff would cook, we'd sell dinners, and different little things like that to make money and buy stuff for school. And then I would ask the superintendent cause a lot of times them older folks was scared to ask the superintendent. But I wasn't afraid of nobody. It didn't make to me no difference. I talked to anybody. I knew how to talk to people. I got under-cause I had the fundage of the AG Department and I did woodworking and AG together. We castrate, vaccinate, cut up meat, and all that kind of stuff. I learned how to do all that kind of stuff. And so we didn't have no problem with that because I knew I'd get those people that was over electricity and stuff. I got them to wire my building. And did you know he didn't charge me nothing? Didn't charge us nothing. I asked him. And so they did that and then I got another guy to remodel my building. I got the school to pay for the material but I got some of those contractors, they just volunteered and did it.
So that's the way I did it and I guess the Boy Scouts of America might've heard about me. Oh they say, "That sounds like the guy . . ."-cause they work through volunteers. And so some of the people, black and white, they thought I was a volunteer. But I didn't tell them that. I told them I was getting paid, which I was. They furnished me a car and everything. Every two years, they'd give me a new car-a work car. And anybody in my family could drive it if they had a license. And they told me that. They could drive it if they had a license. Nobody could drive it if they had no license. And so I said, "Fine."
And so the Boy Scouts of America-every time they come now they're trying to get some people to work. Professionals and volunteers. They always getting some people new, so they come asked me if I would be the next executive. And I had no mind to do that, but I'm glad I did. I had no mind to do that, but I wasn't going to tell them that I wasn't interested cause I didn't want to make them feel bad. So I said, "Sure." And so they kept on and so one day Chuck called me. That was the head guy over the council. He's up at Holiday Inn. He said, "This is Chuck. I'm with the Boy Scouts. And I know you said you was gonna be our next executive." I said, "Yeah." Said to myself, "This man means business." And so he said that he had given me an application and everything. And I don't know what I had done with it cause I just didn't want to tell him I didn't want to do it. I hadn't ever done no scouting. I was a Boy Scout, but I had never done no scouting. So I didn't want to hurt his feelings or nothing. He said, "I'm at the Holiday Inn. You want to come by here or you want me to come by your house?" I said, "It doesn't matter. Whichever way you want to do it." He said, "I just happen to have an application. Where's your application you got?" I said, "I don't know." I didn't want to tell him I had dumped it. He said, "Let me ask you a couple of questions." I said to myself, "This man means business." He said, "Okay, what's your name?" He already knew my name, but he was kind of already getting me hooked up. He said, "What's your address?" I told him. He already knew that, but he's trying to get me-so I told him, I said, "Chuck, I already got a job. I wanna be a Scouter, but you're going to have to give me a contract. And then I can resign the job I got, but I ain't gonna resign [unintelligible.] And I ain't got no [unintelligible] if I ain't got no job. He said, "Now I tell you [unintelligible] cause we [unintelligible]." I said, "I just signed a contract." He said, "Now we don't sign a contract every year. I'll tell you what we do. As long as you're doing your job, you got a job." So I said, "Okay, that's good." Cause I felt like I could do the job. So they gonna train me and everything. Send me to Midland, New Jersey. That's nowhere from-about forty miles from New York City. So that's how I got a chance to go to New York. And so he said, "We gonna buy all your uniforms. You can fly. You can catch a train." I had never caught a train before. So I said, "Well I'll catch a train." He said, "You can drive. Whichever way you wanna go, we'll pay for it. And we're gonna pay your salary right along with it." Cause it wasn't but forty-five days training. And so I said, "Okay, that's fine." And so he hooked me up and I went on and resigned my AG job. And then he told me what time I needed to be in Midland, New Jersey and I was there. I met him there and everything and I completed that. And after I completed that, I already knew what to do cause I had watched them and then we had gone through it and everything like that and so I said, "Okay." And so I went on and [unintelligible] and so I worked out of this house.
[Chuckles] And while I'm thinking, I'll tell you. Okay, I moved in this house in 1958. Now that's when I moved in the house. That's probably what you had heard. So in '58, I moved into this house. And I was supposed to stay in Diboll, but I stayed out at Mr. Massey's at first. He had a house out there-William Massey, the principal. So that's where I stayed until '58, cause I started work on '56, though. July the 1st, 1956. So that's how I started work, on '56. And so after I started work and everything and then this house-they just had built it. It was new and to me it was cheap. It was cheap, then. And so I went on and borrowed it. They allowed you thirty years to pay for it, but I knew as cheap as it was, I was gonna at least do it in fifteen, but I think I did it in about twelve. Cause it was cheap. And we wasn't making a whole lot of money, but I was making more than the other teachers there cause I was teaching AG. And it paid straight twelve months. See what I'm trying to say? And I was even making more than the principal, but he owned the buses and stuff. So I imagine he was making as much money as he would, but on a teaching job, because they was just paying him nine-they had just raised him to nine months. And the reason why I know, he told me that they had raised him to nine months. But he was a nice man and I got along real good. A lot of folks didn't like him, but I liked him. He made me his assistant, cause when he'd leave, there was teachers that had been there a long time-and they'd wonder why he'd leave me in charge. I said, "I don't know." Which I figured he trusted me. That's what I figured. He must've saw something in me, I guess. He trusted me. I said, "I don't know." Cause they'd leave me in charge and they forty and maybe fifty years old. And I'm just a youngster. And so they wondered about that.
And so after I got through with training for the Boy Scouts, I went on and resigned, because I knew that they had given me a contract. I went on and resigned and I figured I could do the job, so I didn't worry about that part about signing a contract every year. So I just went on and did that and I was the top executive with the Boy Scouts of America. And that was my first time-there's guys been there longer than me-but you know, I knew what to do. Put me over seven counties and after seven counties, well then they put me the last three years, over the whole fifteen counties of East Texas. Special Service. And that means that I go anywhere in the fifteen counties. All up there in Longview and everything, and I went to Longview, too, but it was just a little part of what I was doing. But I was hooked up for the whole fifteen counties of East Texas. [Longview located southeast of Dallas.]
And so that's where I retired from, and then after I retired, the first job I had after that, I worked for one of my students that I had taught in Diboll. And that made me really happy. He was principal at the-they had just started integrating-so he was the head principal at the Dunbar Middle School [middle school in Lufkin]. That's what they did. They had all of the 7th graders was integrated. Everybody in the 7th grade, well they went to the same school. Don't care what color you was. And so he was my student. Was the head principal-they had about three principals there. So my student he asked me. I just went by there to see him. Tell him I was gonna retire. I just went by there to holler at him. And so he asked me if I would work for him until May the 25th, and that was January then. And I just had retired and I had fixed where I retired, where I started drawing my money in January. That's what I did.
And then I had a son, my 30 year old. My 30 year old, he was able to-he wasn't 30 years old then. I think he was about 15. And he was either 14 or 15. But anyway, he was available for a check. See what I'm saying? I'm retired, so he was available for a check. And I didn't know all of this stuff, but I had gotten everything fixed up. And so he got a check until he got 18. He qualified for a check until he got 18. My wife qualified for it until he got 16. So she drew the same amount he drew until he got 16. Well at 16, I guess they figured he could have his own money then. And then I was 62 when I retired and I had told them when I first started work there I was gonna retire at 62. And when I got 65, well I was eligible for my full retirement at 65. But now when my wife got-when my son got 16, though-her check stopped cause she wasn't old enough to draw one. Cause they was paying her to take care of his check [chuckles]. I didn't know all of that was going to happen at first, but I was happy. He got 16, well then he could handle his own check. And then after that, well when she got 62, then she started her check back because she didn't-after she got 62, she was eligible for her retirement. And then when I got 65, well then that made me eligible for some more funds because I was fully retired. And then when she got 65, then she started getting her full check. Now-and I don't know whether you know it or not, but some people don't know, but you probably already know it, though-if you working, and I'm still working. [Laughs.]
I'm still working. I won't work during the summer. I could if I wanted to, but I said, "Well, I need to get me a little rest during the summer." But I work full time and everything and so I tell so many people sometimes, because some of them don't pay no attention when they get their checks [unintelligible]. But they take out-and that's the reason why I can't understand-I got a grandson is a Republican. Understand?
ABLES: Yes, sir.
JEFFERO: But I can't understand why they are not smart enough to know that they taking money-now they didn't ask if the people that's doing regular work-they didn't ask you-could they take that money out of your check. Cause your money is already in there if you working. They taking money-I looked at my check and they had taken 8,000 or something like that. $8,000. And I'm drawing Social Security and they gonna take 8,000 outta there. They take Medicare and all that kind of stuff outta there. They take that outta there, and I'm already getting it. And everybody that's working-I don't care how old you are or who you are-they take that out, and that ain't got nothing to do with your income tax. And if you're making enough money, they take your income tax out there. Did you know that?
Some people don't know they're already paying for-got Medicare-they paying for it already. And then they got medical care and they taking that out. But now how in the world, if they going to be fair, could they take that money away from the people? They can't take it. I know that. They may want to take it, but they can't take that cause you didn't-[unintelligible] knowing that's putting it in there, making you put in there. They ain't making you put in there, but if you work, you gonna put in there.
Now how are you going to turn around there and you take and somebody done work 72 years, putting money in there 72 years, and you gonna take it from them? Then you gonna tell all these other folks, these other countries to do what's right, by your people? That don't make a whole lot of sense to me? It don't make no sense. I imagine I'm like anybody else. It don't make no sense to them either. This is the United States of America. We're supposed to be better than that.
Now you somebody that worked and you put your money in there, and you gonna take it from them? You know that ain't right. And you take all these folks' money and they ain't gonna feel too good if you taking it from them. I know I wouldn't feel too good if somebody took mine. And I done worked for it 72 years-paid in. And still paying in. Cause they don't raise what they already gotcha. But then they talking about taking it. They don't know what they're talking about. They got to wake up.
Now the Republicans, and I ain't got nothing against the Republicans, but I ain't never knowed them as crazy as they are now. You might be one. I got a grandson that's a Republican. Now, he ain't rich. He's working, but he ain't rich or nothing like that. But I don't know why he's-but he think they talking good stuff. All the stuff they talking about and stuff like that. But they talking like crazy folks to me. Because if they got their right mind, how are you gonna take something from the people that you didn't ask them, could you take this money out. But you told-the employer had to take it out. You didn't ask them did they want to do it. Cause some of them might've said, "Well no I'd rather get mine now and take my chances. After I retire, take my chances."
But I don't understand them. I don't understand if they're mind ain't working right. It must not be. Cause even I know better than that. Got you saving money for something and then when it's time to come get it-and I paid more insurance, I'm gonna say than a whole lot of people. And I don't think that's right, but that's what they say. And they say, "Well, you get 80% if you get sick or something. 80%." But then I had to pay $407.00 a month besides that that they're taking out. That they're taking directly out of that-they got so much they take out. See, all that they got in there, they take it out. It's so much money. The little off that you take out, it's so much money. If you get sick, they already got it in there. Its separate from the check you get. Its separate from that. And they talking about-I don't think the folks gonna let them do that. At least I know I wouldn't if I had anything to do with it. They can't. They're crazy. And then they want to get in office. [Phone rings.]
ABLES: Well, Mr. Jeffero. We have been talking for two hours. [Laughs.] But I really do want to thank you for talking to me and sharing some of these things with me.
JEFFERO: Well, I thank you.