A Special Delivery
by Gordon A. Rampy
Sadly, those of us who immerse ourselves in the fascinating pursuit of
our personal pasts expect others to feel at least some of the thrill we
experience when we uncover a long hidden tidbit of memorabilia. But it's
just not so. And we begin to get the picture when we're cornered by an
excited fellow genealogist who bores us to yawns with his own tale of
discovery. The little story that follows is, I'm afraid, a good
illustration of the phenomenon.
My father, Thomas Randall Rampy, was born and reared at the turn of the
twentieth century on a sharecropper farm near Salado, Texas. In his
later years he hoped, as we all do, that after he was gone there would
be those who were interested in his life story. Thank the Lord! He put
it all down in a book titled "Choice and Chance," and now we know him
even better than we did before his death in 1976.
One of the memories Daddy recorded was of his first train travel. He was
twelve years old and the year was 1910. He said good-by to his mother
while a horde of envious brothers and sisters watched him get into the
buggy with his father for the trip from Salado to the railroad station in
Belton. It took about an hour, and then he climbed alone onto the train,
filled with all the excitement any boy would feel at such a time. His destination was Aunt Sally's home in Benoit, Runnels County, Texas,
150 miles away.
My father's writing includes few details of the
adventure, and it remained for his readers just one of the many rather
ordinary events he recorded. But then, nearly eighty years after it
happened, I received a tangible link to that incident which, for me,
gave it a brand new perspective. One of my distant cousins sent me a
tattered postcard that had surfaced in a Central Texas antique store. It
was addressed to "Mrs. T. J. Rampy, Salado, Texas," and was dated August
19, 1910. It bore a one-cent stamp and the postmark, Benoit, Texas. In a
child's barely legible scrawl was the message, "Hello, Mamma How are you
I am all right I have just got off of the train and am at Aunt Sallie's
now. I didn't have any trouble. Randall." On the front, nestled in a
pretty floral design were the words, "To One I Love."
To me, that scruffy postcard is priceless, even though there is not another
soul on the face of the earth who would offer a dime for it. The pursuit
of the past brings unsharable rewards!