2. Enid Collins - The Cinderella Story

By Jeep Collins

After our mother’s death Cynthia and I discovered her journal.  In it she bared her feelings so blatantly that I wondered how I missed the outward signs of such strong internally kept emotions.  Her great natural strength was often tested and found wanting in events which she could not control, or where she had made mistakes. Then she discovered God and learned to rely on His strength. Though she was very vocal about her faith, her deepest feelings and hurts were only for Him and her yellow legal pad where she wrote out her prayers.  Her faith was a certainty, she knew God would hear, and that He would give her peace.   Below is a short account of her early life from her journal.    


I was born in the midwest - Illinois, Shelbyville, the county seat of Shelby county.  This was also the birthplace of the legendary Hondo Crouch of Luckenbach, Texas fame, ( actually Hondo’s family came to Texas from Shelbyville and Hondo was born in Hondo, Texas).  My father grew up on a farm, and at the time I was born in 1918 it was a prosperous time for farmers.  When I was six months old my mother died suddenly so my young father gave me to my grandmother to care for and he took a job traveling and selling farm equipment for General Motors.  My earliest memories were of my uncle Toots, a bachelor who adored and spoiled me and bought me a pink parasol.  On summer afternoons he walked me down to the drugstore for ice cream cones.

My earliest recollection of my father was when he came home at Christmas and brought me a set of Christmas tree lights.  They were miniature Japanese lanterns with little red tassels.  I can remember when the overhead lights were turned off dancing around the beautiful lighted Christmas tree.

When I was 4 ½  the family, including my uncle, not Toots, my father, and grandmother moved to San Antonio.  My father remarried and I went to live with him and my step mother, Nancy.  She was very pretty, she had long thick, wavy, honey-colored hair and she bought me wonderful little gifts.  But soon things changed, and I was told that I was a very spoiled little child.  When I was six my little sister, Mary Ella, whom I nicknamed “Mella” was born. She was a beautiful child with red-gold curls.  (When she was two Mella won the title of  “Little Miss San Antonio.” )

“My hair was no-color blond, and straight. Mella was the bane of my existence as we grew up.  She and her mother made life pretty hellish for me.  There was the matter of my Bylo-baby doll with the china head that my grandmother had given me.  Mella was about two and I had hidden my doll from her but she found it when I was at school. When I came home I found that she had dropped it down the toilet bowl.  Her mother thought it was so cute - she was trying to put it on the “pottie”! Many years later Mella sent me a reproduction of a Byla doll with the note - “Now have you forgiven me?” ( My mother had forgiven her long before that; they were very close in their later years.)

Going away to college -TWU - was a real blessing for many reasons - mainly getting away from home and Nancy.  The nicest thing she ever did for me was to encourage my artistic talent, and for that I am deeply grateful.  I majored in Fine Arts working toward a degree in costume design - I wanted to design clothes.  These were depression years - and my father was unable to finance my last year at TWU.  I had worked hard - taken heavy schedules but at the end of three and a half years I lacked the twelve hours required for graduation.

So I was home again.  I wanted to work as a fashion illustrator - but at that time - there were three stores in San Antonio who had their own fashion illustrators.  I made the rounds regularly with my portfolio to no avail.  So I took a weaving course at the Witte Museum and became acquainted with Mrs. Ellen Quillen who was the director of the museum.  She was a very special person - and when Harding Black went down to La Villita to teach little kids in the N.Y.A. program she asked me to teach classes in pottery- making!  I told her I knew nothing about it and she said, “go down to La Villita - learn from Harding Black - he’ll teach you.  You only have to stay one lesson ahead of your students!”  

And so I did - I had a class of about 8 or 9 nice old ladies who had nothing better to do than make pots and little clay animals - and I enjoyed it.  I had one lovely lady from Michigan who was spending some time with her son, who was living and working in San Antonio.  We became friends and she said, “you must meet my son. You have so much in common, he too  works with clay, modeling horses.”  So she brought him over to the workshop - two weeks later we were engaged to be married!

We were married in October 1941 and in December of that year there was Pearl Harbor. We both went to work in war plants - saved our money and bought a little ranch in the Texas Hill Country.  Frederic had always wanted to live on a ranch and it was a wonderful adventure.

Photo:  Enid and Mella   .   circa 1926

Update: Enid, a memoir to be published April 2021. Learn more at enidcollinsstory.com.

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