Mayborn Young Spurs National Writing Contest winner: ‘Bordersville,’ by Emily Humble

March 17, 2016 - accent chair

A. W. Jones enters his office, nearby a mouth of a scabby timberland that surrounds Bordersville. Asking we to sit, his voice is worn, nonetheless carries a certain mellow appetite and a clever East Texas accent. He has usually incited 80 years old, and has lived in a Bordersville area all his life.

As he files divided a document, he catches a glance of his son, Mark, a owners of a business. He is in a run articulate with a customer, smiling.

He sees in that impulse how most has altered given his son was a child, and given he was a child. He thinks behind to a time he attended a aged colored propagandize in Bordersville, when a sawmill was running, and to so many other memories.


Bordersville sits opposite a tyrannise marks from Humble, Texas. In 1904, before Bordersville existed, oil was struck on a little arise located right outward of Humble, and overnight a little tillage village exploded into a boomtown. Everything had altered for Humble. And for Humble’s black community, it all changed, too. They were forced out of town.

Jones shakes his head. “My mom used to stay right by Wells Fargo Bank,” he says. Wells Fargo is on a west corner of town, right subsequent to a tyrannise marks nearby Humble’s categorical street. “My mom and father used to live right there.”

What caused a black village to leave Humble is a doubt that expected will never accept a transparent answer. Many Bordersville residents trust that a white people finished a preference to force them out, while a central record as described by a Humble Museum and a Texas State Historical Association says that a cabinet altered after a shutting of a Bender Sawmill, that had been a vast employer. Whatever happened, what is transparent is that a black village left, and clustered around a Borders Sawmill, opposite a tyrannise marks from Humble.


Jones was innate in 1935, 5 years before a Borders indent close down. He remembers his childhood fondly. To him, there existed a integrity among a people of Bordersville. “There wasn’t no stealing, zero like that,” says Jones. “It was togetherness.”

Jones’ family lived right outward of Bordersville on a farm, and he remembers how his father used to let Bordersville residents collect what food they indispensable from his margin for free, when times were tough for them.

“My father was a male of God,” Jones says. He does not remember him ever cursing, arguing with his wife, or “having a problem with anyone.”

Jones went to a usually propagandize in Bordersville during a time, famous usually as a Colored School, before it burnt down in 1947. Another propagandize was built in Bordersville, though it usually went adult to a sixth class – to allege any aloft academically, a students had to float a propagandize train to Acres Homes to George Washington Carver High, 26 miles away, one way. Because of a distance, kids from Bordersville couldn’t play sports or other extracurricular activities during Carver High, and a preparation they perceived was lacking if they wanted to pursue a college preparation as well.

Despite this, Jones was always confident about a future. “There was zero we suspicion we couldn’t do,” he says.


Before going to college, Jones practical to get a job. He had practical over a phone and a employer told him that a pursuit was available. When Jones arrived and a employer saw that he was black, he told him that a pursuit had already been filled. Jones went behind to his automobile and he waited. Soon, he saw a white male travel inside, and when a male came behind out, Jones asked if he got a pursuit that Jones had practical for. The male pronounced yes.

“I sat there, tears ran down my eyes…” Jones says, “and we pronounced right afterwards and there: Nobody will stop me from creation what we wish it to be.”

Jones practical to college. He got into Prairie View AM University, profitable his fee with income he had warranted himself, though immediately struggled. He concurred that he didn’t have a good preparation to ready him, and wasn’t means to know most of what was being taught. However, he pushed by with determination, and graduated.

Jones returned to Bordersville, and found scarcely zero had changed. Just as it had been when he was as child, Bordersville’s H2O still came by approach of a vast truck, that would fill adult a waist-high steel barrels during a sides of a houses, and a village still lacked sewers and paved roads.

Jones knew something indispensable to be done.


Jones began with a problem of water. He assimilated with 4 other members of a village to emanate a county club, with a idea of building a H2O district in Bordersville, replacing a trucks delivering H2O to city and storing it in mostly unwholesome outside barrels. This plan was never finished, due to a division of a distant bigger and wealthier power.

The city of Houston annexed 80 percent of Bordersville in 1965, to use a land to build Houston Intercontinental Airport (now George Bush Intercontinental Airport). Jones remembers how a city annexed all around a airfield that it could get a hands on, though left alone a 20 percent of Bordersville that hold a mark where a new H2O district would be. The city did this so that they did not have to resume a remuneration for a H2O district, forcing Bordersville residents to compensate for it themselves, if they wanted to have it. The legislature had to dump a H2O project.

Despite this movement from a city, Bordersville residents were not opposite a cast during that time. They suspicion that a city would yield H2O and cesspool services anyway after they were annexed, along with other services such as softened military and glow protection.

That’s not how things incited out.

When a city told Bordersville that they were underneath 50 percent developed, Jones knew “that was a pivotal that they wasn’t gonna give us water.” Houston deemed a H2O and cesspool services too costly for residents, meaningful Bordersville could not compensate for it.

Police, fire, and rubbish pickup services also were inconsistent. Police and glow services were delayed to get to Bordersville, and rubbish trucks didn’t wish to risk removing held in a sand of Bordersville’s unpaved streets.

Jones and Bordersville did work with a city toward some improvement, though in 1973, when Houston was a sixth largest city in a country, as good as a oil and space capital, Bordersville still did not have paved roads, sewage, or using H2O lines. It was famous as a misfortune slot of misery in a city of Houston.


In 1982, Bordersville finally perceived using water, 17 years after being annexed. The 3H Center, a core founded by Jones to yield services to a aged vital in Bordersville, lifted income to implement outside H2O faucets and simple lavatory modules, such as bathtubs and sinks, onto a houses themselves, as many houses were so decayed that a appliances could not be put inside. This meant an huge volume for many residents – for a initial time, they had easy and approach entrance to purify water.

“I never will forget, we had one lady, she got in that bathtub… She wasn’t gonna get out,” Jones says. “She had never been in a bathtub in her life.”


Especially after going to college, Jones had a far-reaching operation of options. But he chose to lapse to Bordersville.

“I wanted to stay here, and do something for Bordersville,” he says. “So we stayed.”

Jones served on a Aldine district propagandize house for some-more than 30 years, and now has dual schools named after him. He has lifted 7 children in Bordersville.

Jones built a grill in Bordersville, Betty’s Barbecue and Restaurant, and he and his wife, after whom a grill was named, ran it for 18 years. Jones claims to have had a best grill in a universe during Betty’s Barbecue, and this is not totally unfounded. The White House asked Betty’s Barbecue to support for it in a 1970s, and after that, people would fly down in private jets usually to eat during his restaurant.

“I met some sparkling people… Oh man, we had such a good time,” Jones says.

The grill was constantly full of pilots and moody attendants from a airport, and he recalls how a pilots would hang models of their airplanes on fishing weave underneath a outside pavilion area, and they’d demeanour like they were floating given a handle wasn’t visible. The grill operated in a same building that now houses his son’s automobile detailing service, and his office.


Even with all a improvements, Bordersville’s quarrel for presence seems scarcely over. Where there was once forest, sequence businesses are shopping adult a land heading to Bordersville. Across from Mark of Excellence, an Academy Sports and Outdoor store has been built. The 3H core has also come opposite formidable times in some-more new years, with miss of funds, and Houston’s supervision seems to have lost about Bordersville’s existence.

“I give it another 5 or 10 years, it won’t be Bordersville,” Jones says. “I pledge you… They gonna spin it all into businesses.”

Jones sits behind in his chair. “It was something behind in those days,” he says. “There are things that it was usually a beauty of God we finished it.”

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