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A Pyramid of Candy at Christmas

Betty Fails Richards
April 1962

The Christmas holidays always brings to mind my Aunt Betty Richards and the many hours she spent in the kitchen cooking candies, breads, cakes, pies, and her famous cinnamon rolls. She was a great cook and there were many cousins, aunts and uncles who stopped by during the holidays expecting to find their favorite sweet.

During their later years, my grandparents lived with Uncle Johnny and Aunt Betty in Lingleville, which is a small stop in the road just outside of Stephenville in Erath County, Texas. My cousins, Linda, Brenda, Jerry, and DeeBo had the enviable privilege of getting to know them better than any other of their 46 grandchildren. Yes, I said 46. That number always astounds me, even today. I am the third oldest grandchild, and the oldest living today; next in line is two years younger than I am, and the youngest is young enough to be one of my children.

 Some of Bob and Willie's 46 Grandchildren

Grandpa and Grandma Richards had eleven children, but they lost the oldest, a little girl they named Iwanda, at age six. She died on January 13, 1921 and is buried in Whitt Cemetery, Parker County, Texas.

You can imagine how many of my aunts and uncles stopped by during the holidays to visit their mom and dad, bringing their children to play with their cousins. There was usually a house full of adult conversation, noisy laughter and kids running in and out.

Aunt Betty cooked from Thanksgiving until Christmas making all of the favorites: fudge, coconut pecan balls, divinity, sausage balls, peanut brittle, cookies, pecan pie, and her specialty, cinnamon rolls.

My cousin, Linda Ruth, tells the story every year about her mother making a platter full of candy and threatening the kids, that if they touched it they would be in a “heap of trouble, more than they had ever been in before!” This particular year Aunt Betty had stacked the platter with the candy in a pyramid shape and set it on top of the refrigerator, knowing that the kids would have a difficult time reaching it.

Later in the day three of the uncles came by with their families and Aunt Betty went into the kitchen with Aunt Jean, Aunt Bobbie, and my mother, Mildred, to get some of the food out to serve to the men and the kids.

When Aunt Betty reached up to get the platter of candy, it still looked as beautiful as ever; and so while making allowances for the heavy platter of candy, she used too much force and the candy literally flew over her head landing on the floor behind her!

You see the platter was “top heavy”, because Grandpa Richards had been sneaking pieces of candy from the back of the pyramid all day long. There was NO candy in the back of the pyramid - just a large hole! He had a sweet tooth, and he absolutely loved to torment Aunt Betty!

I asked Linda how her mother knew it was Grandpa who had gotten the candy and not one of the kids. She said she figured they were not clever enough to have thought of that trick yet!

I’m not sure what choice words Aunt Betty had to say to him, but I imagine his ears were burning for a while after the laughter died down.

Aunt Betty now has Alzheimer's disease, and although she no longer cooks, she still has a host of beloved nieces and nephews, as well as her own grandchildren who visit her and bring her candy, remembering the times when she was the matriarch of the family and held court in her kitchen.

Grandpa Richards also suffered with Alzheimer's disease and died in 1975. Grandma Richards died after struggling with breast cancer in 1966.
John Robert Richards married Willie Laura Homsley November 12, 1912 in Peaster, Parker Co., Texas. Their children were:

1.  Iwanda Richards, born March 22, 1915 in Parker County, Texas; died January 13, 1921 in Whitt, Parker Co., Texas.
2.  Leon Fremont Richards, born August 26, 1916 in Peaster, Parker Co., Texas; died April 08, 1985 in Ft. Worth, Tarrant Co., Texas.
3.  Floyd Alvin Richards, born July 28, 1918 in Wealand, Texas; died March 10, 1979 in Grand Prairie, Texas.
4.  Syble Maedean Richards, born February 22, 1922 in Whitt, Parker Co., Texas; died April 07, 2004 in Modesto, California.
5.  J.D. Richards, born December 28, 1924 in Whitt, Parker Co., Texas.
6.  Lloyd Frank Richards, born November 07, 1926 in Whitt, Parker Co., Texas; died March 05, 2005.
7.  Bobbie Louise Richards, born January 11, 1929 in Whitt, Parker Co., Texas; died October 02, 2001 in Eastland, Texas.
8.  Thurman Wayne Richards, born April 20, 1931 in Weatherford, Parker Co., Texas; died December 5, 2011 in Hemphill, Sabine Co., Texas.
9.  Mary Ella Richards, born June 01, 1933 in Weatherford, Parker Co., Texas; died October 01, 2004 in Paris, Lamar Co., Texas.
10. John Robert Richards, Jr., born March 01, 1937 in Weatherford, Parker Co., Texas; died November 11, 2005 in Erath Co., Texas.
11. Richard Edwin Richards, born October 27, 1939 in Weatherford, Parker Co, Texas; died December 02, 2000 in Athens, Shelby Co., Texas.

Original Photographs from Collection belonging to Betty Richards, Digital format, Used by Judith Richards Shubert December 8, 2011
Story Handed Down by Linda Ruth Richards to Family Members
Genealogy Information taken from Family Bible and Notes Written by Willie Homsley Richards


Greta Koehl said…
Reading this about your grandfather reminds me of how I had to hide my Easter baskets when I was young, because my father had such a sweet tooth - I always thought he should get his own Easter basket!
How funny, Greta! Hooray for your dad! He didn't want you to have to go to the dentist! Love this image. Thanks for sharing it.
Peggy Duke said…
What a great story - thanks for sharing Judy!
Teresa Clements said…
I don't recall ever seeing that picture of Grandma Richards surrounded with grandchildren. Keith and I are in it but Albert hadn't been born yet. Love it! Saved a copy on my computer.

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