Coming Home to Yoakum, Texas

The Standard’s show director makes a pilgrimage of sorts, to visit a long-lost relative in Yoakum.

By Leah Scarpelli November 25, 2015 2:15 pm

For many of us, holidays mean travel. Maybe you’re on your way right now to see family for Thanksgiving this week.

Texas Standard’s show director, Leah Scarpelli, recently traveled about 90 minutes south of the capital city to a house just off a dirt road, outside the small town of Yoakum. She and her parents were on a pilgrimage of sorts – to reconnect with a cousin – after a separation of longer than twenty years.

For Leah’s mother, Peggy Scarpelli, it had been two generations since she saw her Texas relatives. When she was a kid, her dad would drive his wife, Flo, and four kids all the way from Maryland, to visit his Yoakum cousin. Her name is Eula Mae.

Leah had only met Eula Mae and Philip Ford as a baby. When she and her parents, John and Peggy, visited Yoakum last month. Much of the conversation that day revolved around Leah’s grandfather, Alvin, who Eula Mae always knew as “Kay.”

“My uncle had an Aunt Sadie – Aunt Sadie was his dad’s sister,” Eula Mae says. “Where they moved to, Uncle Ed built, I call it a shack. Kay said they could see light through the roof.

“They moved to town so Kay could go to high school,” she says. “Only they didn’t know, he wasn’t going to school. He was packing his lunch and somebody was picking him up and he was going to work.”

Listen to the full interview in the audio player above.

Image courtesy Leah Scarpelli

Scarpelli’s grandparents’ wedding announcement in the local paper of Cumberland, Maryland, Scarpelli’s grandmother’s hometown.