on Marty's side.
|Martin Samuel Wells, Sr.: (Marty's Father)|
|"John Wayne always reminded me of my father. So did the character of John Walton, the father on the old television program "The Waltons". I loved Daddy very much, respected him immensely, and miss him tremendously." Click here to read more.|
|"Paw Paw" Jessie Sermons: (Marty's maternal Grandfather)|
|He lived in a cabin in the woods and made his living farming, hunting, and fishing. "The Good Life" to many men today. By today's standards though, many would say he lived in poverty. I don't think he saw it that way though. How ever we qualify it today, they always had lots of food on the table and it sure was fun to visit. Click here to read more.|
|Rev. Columbus Wells.: (Marty's Grandfather) coming soon...|
Martin Samuel Wells, Sr.: (Marty's Father)
This is my father, Martin Samuel Wells, Jr. Native Texan, and salesman by trade, he was one of those men who could master any trade. Seen here on the left is one of the few pictures you can find of him without his constant short brimmed cowboy hat....always straw or silverbelly...never black.
He was the second youngest of several brothers and one sister in what he called his "first family". His father, Columbus Wells, was married twice and had a sizable second family with his second wife. Each of my uncles and aunt were cut from the same mold. Bold, proud, successful Texas men and women who were trailblazers in their own right and helped to give this state the "can do" reputation of strength and character it is known for.
A product of "The Greatest Generation", he quit high school and enlisted (underage) to fight in World War II in the US Navy. He also spent some time in a bomber as the turret tail gunner. He was on Okinawa when the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima....and felt it. "I can remember him telling me about his basic training where he was trained in some new Asian fighting art". I had never heard of the "martial arts" back when he told me about it...in fact...I don't think most people had. It was in the early 70s, before the TV show "Kung Fu" popularized the arts.
He was an accomplished vocalist and performed in gospel quartets all over the country throughout the 50's and 60's. A lover of gospel, country, and big band swing music, he knew it all. From Tommy Dorsey to Bob Wills to The Carter Family, he could identify almost any classic song in either of those categories within seconds. His father also being a fiddle player, he passed on to me my gift of music.
Among other notable accomplishments in public service, he also served as the Mayor of the small East Texas town of Kenefick where my mother and other family members still reside.
As a man of God, he was one of those people who could quote scripture from memory. Obviously a result of growing up with a minister for a father. In fact, he almost entered the ministry when he was young....but was unable to stop from "sewing his wild young oats". You know what they say about the son of preacher man. :-)
Like many men of that generation, "It seemed like he could do anything". He could work on any engine, build any kind of structure, (carpentry, electrician, plumber), repair any device, grow any tree/plant/vegetable, raise any livestock, fish, hunt, show up any man on the dance floor, do any math equation in his head immediately (quicker than I could on a calculator), and intelligently discuss any topic from politics to stocks, corporate financial reports, and insurance company actuarial risk numbers. He was very smart, and self sufficient. "When I hear that song by Hank Williams Jr. "A Country Boy Can Survive" I think of him. He was the most resourceful man I have ever known.
Being a Texas country boy that never received his high school diploma, and with his ever present cowboy hat and Texas drawl, I often saw him under estimated by the more "sophisticated / educated" individuals, whom he would ultimately embarrass for underestimating him by catching them in errors or downright lies. He had a very smooth way of embarrassing those folks though, because he would always walk away with those individuals being his dedicated friends. He didn't care about revenge or retribution, he only cared about "getting the job done" so he was always able to cultivate friendship and cooperation with everyone.
Full of natural charisma, Martin S. Wells Sr. could "sell ice to Eskimos" as folks say. He had a swagger to his walk and a way of cocking his head when he talked that captured one's attention. Everyone wanted to be his friend. He was fun to be around. He would always light up a room when he entered. Daddy was loyal to his family and friends too. If you needed help, you could count on him if it was within his power. My Dad was the nicest and most generous man I have ever known. He was also a man of honor and integrity. He never used profanity, was always a gentleman, and always did what he said he would do. He made me very proud.
My memories of my father are numerous and precious. Some things, like setting in a john boat with him on the Trinity River running the "trot line" that stretched all the way across the river (some 150 yards) every 30 minutes all night long...setting in front of the campfire during the 30 minute intervals...listening to him tell me about nature....the "symphony of nature at night"...riding with him on his business trips around the state and listening him tell me about Texas history and geography along the way....talking to me about music....just some of my fond memories. In those instances when I needed him, he was there, and always with a great deal of understanding. No matter what the trouble was, he was there to save me....if I wanted it. No matter what trouble I got in to, or what stunt I had pulled, he was never ashamed of me...always proud of me....and I felt it. He demonstrated to me, and inspired in me, the belief that I can do anything I choose to do. "Just do it" was something my father practiced 50 years before it became a popular sports slogan. You just couldn't tell him he couldn't do something if he wanted to do it. I can only pray that I can make the same positive impression on my children.
My father passed away in 1994 at the age of 68 from cancer associated with being a lifelong smoker. Although, like everyone, he had his faults, they were far outweighed by his attributes, the quality of his character, and his loving heart. From his family, to his friends, to his deeds, he made a significant and positive impact in this world. We should all pray to God to bless this country with more men like him again...they are few and far between these days.
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"Paw Paw" Jessie Sirmons:
(Marty's grandfather on his mother's side)
"Paw Paw" was my mother's father. A true backwoods country farmer in the deep East Texas "Big Thicket" near the town of Silsbee, he too was a very resourceful man, but very much a rural man. My father, Martin, was a real city slicker compared to "Paw Paw".
That's me standing on the work table near the cabin (chicken coop in the background) watching Paw Paw skin a coon. My little sister is standing on the ground with her back to the camera.
He lived in a cabin in the woods and made his living farming, hunting, and fishing. "The Good Life" to many men today. By today's standards though, many would say he lived in poverty. I don't think he saw it that way though. How ever we qualify it today, they always had lots of food on the table and it sure was fun to visit.
He was the kindest and sweetest man I have ever known. He was different from my father though. His personality was more subtle...quiet. (I have been blessed with very good men as role models in my life) Always patient with me and my ever curious ways when I was so young, he would take me coon and squirrel hunting with him, working the harvest fields, fishing, and other such country activities now and then. I can remember helping him build a "dog run" log cabin/barn one time...well...I thought I was helping him. In reality, I was too small to make a big difference. This frail looking tall skinny man was doing it all by himself...really. But it was amazing to me to watch him create this thing with his bare hands. I spent many a days playing in that barn after that.
He would take me in to the fields where he might be growing corn, sweet potatoes, peas, greens, cantaloupes, and most memorably...watermelons. I vividly remember him showing me how he would thump, and sometimes cut out little 1 inch wide, 4 inch deep sections of a melon to look at it, and then place it back in where it would grow back together...both yellow and red meat melons. I got several tummy aches out at Paw Paw's from eating too much watermelon.
That was a great place for exploring as a young boy. I shot my first bird with a BB gun out there on that dirt road. (I was sick with guilt for days) I fell off my first pony. I was stung by my first yellow jacket (I "disturbed" them as I was going in to the outhouse). Yes, Paw Paw's cabin did not have a restroom in it for several years as I recall. I can remember my father and brother (Jerry) helping him to build on a section to the cabin that had a restroom. I remember my older sister, Geri (Deen Deen) and I playing with a bunch of little piglets. I remember them nosing their way in to our pockets with their little cold snouts. Paw Paw had every kind of livestock you can imagine out there. Geri also says that on another occasion I was taking a bunch of one of the hound's puppies, one at a time, and dropping them down the outhouse hole. They were ok. They apparently were able to crawl out of the...stuff (yuk) and pull themselves out on the back side. (I knew it...I was just testing them)
I saw all manner of animals butchered out there....and they ate it all. You name it. Once while Paw Paw and my older brother Jerry were in the process of butchering a hog, I watched my brother show my boyhood friend, Brent Chappell, how to measure a hogs tail. Only those of you that grew up on a farm, or had experiences like I did, will know what that means.
Lots of great memories.....one summer when I was spending some time with Paw Paw, looking forward to riding in to town in that cool old 50 something green stepside chevy pickup every few days and Paw Paw would always buy me a Yahoo. Man, I would love to have that truck today. And like any reputable back woods Texas hillbilly, my Paw Paw always had a hound or three hanging around on and off the front porch. They would come up and lounge around on the cool porch, and Paw Paw would come out and yell "get-oufom-hea". I'm serious, that's what he said...that's country for "get out of here"..but it morphed through "get out from here"...and in to what you see. I also remember his "call" for when he was out in the fields so far he couldn't be seen, or if he was out in the woods and someone was looking for him. It was a high pitched "Woooooo!". I always thought that was funny. Everyone would do it back to him though.
I always felt bad that I didn't spend more time with Paw Paw when I was older. He passed away when I was in college. I had long past quit wanting to go out to that little cabin on the hot dusty road in favor of pursuing other interests...ie...girls and partying. I'm ashamed of that now. He deserved better from me. The last time I remember being out there at that cabin was when I made a trip from college and hauled a girl "friend" of mine with me, to a small family reunion of sorts. The girl was very nice, but she was also from a very well to do family from another part of the state. I half expected her to hate the experience, but on the contrary...the things she noticed were the love and authenticity of the people...including Paw Paw. She even shed a tear talking about it as we were driving back to San Marcos that night. It drove home how much I was taking for granted.
I remember that he always wore overalls, and rarely wore shoes. Even when he was out working his crops. His feet were so calloused that nothing would hurt them. He also had this cool skill for waking up on time. I remember this one time when I was spending the night with him when he had to get up very early the next day to go in to town for something. I was setting on his bed, looking around and didn't see an alarm clock anywhere. I asked him how he was going to get up. He said that all he had to do was just say to himself before he went to sleep what time he wanted to get up, and he would. Every time. That was amazing to me...especially today. But this is a very different world, time, and place than the Big Thicket in the 1960s.
He wasn't a very outspoken person, but I do recall his telling me on several occasions that I should do something with my music. I wish he and my father were alive today to see that I actually did something with it. I wish they could have met my kids. I wish my kids could have met them. I know that they see it all, just not from here. If we get in to heaven based on our hearts and our actions here on earth, if any man is there....Paw Paw is.
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