How My Twin and I Helped Win the War
Ron Knott b. 1937
When my twin brother, Roland, nick name Roe, and I were born we lived in the Village of Noble, LA. Noble was a village of about 200 souls in 1937. The town had been much larger around 1900, as several large sawmill companies moved in and logged the thousands of acres of virgin pine timber. They brought in hundreds of Spanish families from Mexico for the hard labor. After the large sawmills cut all the timber and moved on, the Spanish stayed on at Sabine River about 10 miles west of Noble, so there were a lot of Spanish in our school.
During the time of the big mills, Noble was one of the largest cities in Sabine Parish. Noble had a bank, drug store, two big saw mills, and a big commissary. By the time we were born, though, all industry had left Noble and it had only three small grocery stores and a post office. Noble was a sleepy bedroom community. They did have a high school.
I was told that we lived in the Cox house at the time of my birth. It was a rental place with no central heat or air condition. My dad bought what was the office from the large timber company and that became our home. I saw the check years later that he paid $700 for the building. It was only about 1200 s/f. They were able to make three bedrooms out of this small office. Granny had one bedroom, Aunt Maggie and Onnie, her son, had a bedroom, and Momma, Dad, Roe, and I had the other.I don’t remember it being so, but I am sure we were very crowded. They made a kitchen out of a couple of joining closets. No bathroom. We used a wash tub out near the well to take a bath. I still remember that cold water.
The house did have a large front porch with two big swings that were good for cooling down in the evening. Also, my mother would swing us and sing Christian songs until we went to sleep at night. I still remember those sweet soothing songs.
NO SEWER/RUNNING WATER
The Village of Noble had no sewer or water system. Our “out-house” was about 150 feet behind the main house and it sure was dark and cold making that necessary journey in the winter time. My grandmother used a ‘slop-jar’ in her room during the night an emptied it early in the morning. A ‘slop-jar’ was a big mouth bucket that fit her rear for late night disposal. We had to draw all our water from a hand dug well. It was about 20 feet deep and supplied plenty of water in the rainy season. During the hot summer months, we sometimes could only draw muddy water.
Noble had no hospital and our nearest doctor was seven miles north in the village of Converse, LA. My mother used Dr. Murdock there for all her needs. They did not have the fancy machines back then, so they had no way of knowing a mother was carrying twins. My mother told other women how she thought she was deformed because she was so big. Roland was born and everybody was happy. Then the doctor called Dad about 15 minutes later and said he had another boy (me). Just teasing, the doctor called Dad again and said he had boys all over the delivery room. Dad almost fainted.
I can remember going to a hospital and Uncle Aleen putting me in scales to be weighed. The scales were rounded to fit a baby. We had to be about 2 years old.
I also remember a drive to Converse hospital. The highway was gravel. Years later I asked about that road and they told me that Hwy 171 was gravel taken out from Cox hill.
MOVING TO TEXAS
In 1939 Dad got a job in Silsbee, TX, working for Kirby Lumber Company. He was very good at estimating the yield of a growth of timber. The big saw mills, such as Kirby, needed that kind of woods foreman who could estimate a track of timber. Dad worked in South Texas for many weeks before his company had a house for us to live in. I remember he would come home on the week-ends. Roe and I wanted to help on the expense of filling his gas tank. One week-end we filled up his gas tank with rocks and dry cow paddies (we were only about 2 years old). Needless to say, that was our first and last time to help out on the fuel. Side note: We never locked a car or home door at night in Noble.
THE TEXAS MOVE
I was I was riding with Uncle Aleen and Aunt L. J. on one of our trips to Texas. Someone had given them a syrup bucket full of fresh butter-milk and they were so proud of it. We had no cows in Texas so the butter-milk was like gold. They set it on the floor in the back of the little Ford. You guessed it; when I got in their car I stepped in the bucket of butter milk and it went all over me and the car. They were very nice about the spill but called me “Butter-Milk- Pete” from then on.
Our move to Texas was still during WW ll. Every night we had to block all light coming from our windows. Paper had to be pasted over all windows. Inspectors would come in your yard and if they saw a speck of light they would write you up. They said the enemy aircraft could see our light and may bomb our city. They had my attention.
COUSIN ONNIE WENT IN THE MARINES IN 1940
Roe and I were four years old in 1941. Onnie, my first cousin, was already in the Marines and was at the bombing at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7th.
First report was that he was missing in action; later, the Red Cross said he was wounded, but would survive. A few months later he came home on a furlough. He recovered completely.
ARMY MANEUVERS IN NOBLE (1942)
The US Army had maneuvers in and all through Sabine Parish. Roe and I got to climb on tanks and half-tracks and learned what the word ‘Buddy’ meant. The Army boys called us Buddy. General Patton was in charge of the troops around Noble. He could be seen wearing the pearl handle 45 Cal. Pistols around town. They dug deep holes in the forest to bury their large artillery guns to make them secure. Many holes from their emplacements are still in the forest today.
ROE AND I HELPED WIN THE WAR
Roe and I gathered scrap-iron to help in the war effort. My mother, grandmother, and aunt cooked homemade meals for a lot of the troops. They only charged what it cost them. The solders loved it. We could take in about 10 soldiers each evening. We also took in washing and ironing as a favor since the Army guys had no way to stay clean in the Louisiana woods.
(Many of the solders had never been off the concrete of the large cities. The Redbugs and wasps had a field day on these poor troops.)
I remember they had many mock battles in our area. They had a Red Team and a Blue Team. The little airplanes would fly over and, for a bomb effect, they would drop a sack of flour. Of course it would explode and make a lot of white smoke. I loved watching the aerobatics. Maybe that is why I wanted to be a fighter pilot. And thank the Lord, He allowed me to fly fighter aircraft for the navy years later.
Being raised as a twin was fun to say the least. It had advantages and disadvantages. But sometimes it was just down-right aggravating. We learned to swap names just to confuse people. People would gawk at us and say, “Here come the twins.”
Cousin Onnie went on to become a civil engineer. We twins fared well and today enjoy fine lives in Texas. We will never forget the struggle and felt patriotism of those days.