A time when driving was not so easy

Posted by : Press release | On : January 20, 2012

By Buddy Hazell

The town of Hull, Texas is about 11 miles south of Batson. FM 70 runs through Raywood, to Daisetta, and Hull to Batson, then turns east to Saratoga. Going to Hull for us living in Batson, was like going from Malakoff to Dallas. Hull was, “the big city.” The main street through Hull was concrete, and there were no board sidewalks, they were also concrete, with curbs! Hull also had a railroad and train station.

My Uncle Harold owned the drug store in Hull and when we went there we could get a free double-dip ice cream cone or a Strawberry Phosphate. If you are under the age of 50, you probably don’t know what a Phosphate is; ask your grandparents.

The subject of this story is not about Hull, nor about Batson, but is about the road between the two towns. For years, the road was dirt, and seldom graded. During the spring and winter rains it was nearly impossible to drive a car or truck from Batson to Hull without getting stuck. The deep mud made the road nearly impassable. Then, the transportation was horse or wagon. Even at that, there were many wagons bogged down and left until the weather cleared up.

About 1939, the state received a grant to pave the road between Hull and Batson. They used concrete, and decided to do one lane of the road at a time. By the time the first lane was finished, World War II started, and all funds were frozen so there was no money to do the other side of the road. There we were, one lane of the road was concrete and the other lane dirt and it would stay that way until after the war.

If you were going from Batson to Hull, you had the right of way on the concrete side of the road. Quite often, people going from Hull to Batson drive on the concrete side. When two cars met, the one going from Hull to Batson had to get off the concrete and onto the dirt. This caused problems now and then, because there were places where the concrete would be 8 to 10 inches higher than the dirt. Everything worked out well until the rains started; the dirt lane became the mire it had always been and if you were going from Hull to Batson, you had to get off the concrete into 6 to 10 inches of mud.

There were at least one or two fights a week. Men in fist fights, and sometimes women in cuss fights; think of the frustration, you were going to Batson, and met a car coming from Batson and had to drop off the concrete into 6 to 8 inches of mud. Often, you would have to drive 2 or 3 miles in the mud before finding a place to get back on the concrete. After you get back on the concrete, here comes another car from Batson and you have to drop off into the mud again. Tempers would flare again; it was a wonder no one ever got shot. Everyone had a gun in their vehicle, but not for shooting people but deer, hogs, etc.

We got through it, but it was three years after the war was over before work on the other lane began. We were living in Houston when it was finished, and went to Batson for Christmas; driving from Hull to Batson was a thrill.