52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: In the City
Throughout our nation’s history, families living on small, diversified farms struggled to make ends meet. Farming was labor intensive work and one bad season could ruin the entire operation. Many households, therefore, supplemented their income through working outside of the farm. In extreme instances, the land was leased out and the entire family moved into the city for better opportunities, until at last the call of the land beckoned their return.
Henry C. Jaeger Jr. engaged in a variety of work off of the farm. He served as a Merchant Marine during the Second World War, owned and operated two stores in Brenham from 1948-1953, and worked as a maintenance supervisor in Houston from 1964-1979.
While going through some family records, I was tickled to discover that Grandpa was a candy distributor in 1945, when the family was living in the “big city” of Carmine. Grandpa called his company “Jaeger’s Distributing Company” and delivered candy to nearly every grocery store between Houston and Austin. In an interview with historian Dan Utley, recorded in 1994, and preserved in the digital collection of the Baylor University Institute for Oral History, Grandpa explained that in some areas, candy was hard to come by and shopkeepers were always happy to see his truck coming.
He delivered some locally made candies, but his specialty was Mars products, such as Milky Way and M&M’s. He ran this delivery business for just one year before moving the family back to the farm and opening his first store. I like to think about Grandpa driving from town to town, and on to great big cities like Houston, bringing a little bit of joy to everyone’s lives in the form of something sweet.