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By Kathy Barr



Life was hard for Mae Lou Yeldell when she was young. Dealing with racism in the small town of Haskell, where she moved 60 years ago, created a life in which it was difficult to have a positive sense of self-esteem. Mae Lou and her family and friends were forced to enter white people’s homes through the {{more}} back door, made to drink from separate water fountains, and forced to sit in the back of the bus. Since the school for African-Americans only went to the seventh grade, the chances of advancing in American society were non-existent. In addition, the home where she resided was in the less desirable section of town. Living there made it difficult for Mae Lou to make the long walk to work. The low wages she earned, $4.00 a month, nearly made it counterproductive for her to have a job, but her family needed the income. Her strong religious faith helped to sustain her, and she was grateful for what she had, especially her family. Her father reminded her to put her life in God’s hands, and He would take care of her. Active in the Greater Independent Baptist Church, she grew in her faith, in spite of the hardships of her life. She learned to be kind to everyone, even those who were unkind to her. Many in Haskell know Mae Lou as the woman who took care of their homes and children, and, later, the person who attended to older residents of the town. Mae Lou remembers fondly the families who treated her well, such as the Dulaneys. But, she still lived in the old house. Space heaters were needed in the winter to keep it warm. As the house aged, it became more difficult to maintain. The roof needed to be replaced, so Mae Lou bought the necessary supplies. Mae Lou assumed she would live there the rest of her life. Much to her surprise, about a year ago, Judge David Davis of Haskell approached her and told her to fill out some papers so she could get a new house. Mae Lou was stunned – what was he talking about? The judge explained that Haskell had received some grant money from the government, and she qualified for the program. One day, after submitting the papers, George Russell, who works for Grant Works came to her home and officially told her she had been approved. Before she knew it, she had moved next door and all of her belongings had been moved out of the old residence. She was thankful she was able to return the roofing supplies and receive a refund. Mae Lou watched as they tore down the place where she had lived for so long. Six months later, her new three-bedroom home was finished, ready for her to inhabit. Decorated tastefully with family pictures, plants and artwork, it is a dream come true for the woman who many regard as one of the primary caregivers in this town. The “icing on the cake” was when the children of Marvin Lutz offered to furnish the new house. Mae Lou had taken care of Marvin, and the children wanted to thank her in this way. Stop by Mae Lou’s home and she will tell you about her family – two daughters, six grandchildren and two great granddaughters. Three of her grandchildren are college students or graduates. Mae Lou rejoices in God’s goodness and faithfulness. She hopes to live many more years so that she can fully enjoy the gifts God has given her. Her friends add a hearty “Amen!” to her wish for longevity.

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The West Texas Tribune is a community-based newspaper that has been published, uninterrupted, since May 2005. Our goal is to highlight events and people throughout West Texas as an independent, locally run newspaper. We thrive on the support of our local community.

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