Wesley Ellis, an 88-year-old Marshall native, is the third generation of his family to grow up in town.
Ellis grew up in Marshall during the 1930s and 40s, living through historic events like the Great Depression and Pearl Harbor.
He recalls stories from that time, and has seen first-hand how Marshall has changed over the decades.
“The depression was with everybody here,” Ellis said.
He remembers the Texas and Pacific Railway Depot being the main employer for the community, and fathers walking side-by-side with their children to school everyday on their way to work.
Ellis’s family worked for Marshall Pottery, where Ellis said that he had a job waiting for him when he got done with school.
The family began working at the location after traveling to Marshall for jobs at the railway.
Sam Ellis, Wesley’s grandfather, was a blacksmith by trade, and was given Marshall Pottery after the man who ran it allegedly asked for a loan from him, then skipped town with the money.
“He supposedly left him a note that said ‘Mr. Ellis you now own a pottery,’” Ellis recounted with a laugh. “So, he owned a pottery he didn’t want and didn’t know how to run, but he had it.”
After the family got settled in town and Ellis was born, he was enrolled at North Side School.
“We didn’t have a cafeteria back then,” Ellis said, “Everyone brought a lunch or they had to go home and back in an hour.”
He remembers his favorite lunch, a baked sweet potato, that he would trade other children for during their breaks.
The main difference Ellis sees in today’s schools is the meals the students receive, which he said is much different than his school age years.
“We were in the Great Depression, and we didn’t look a gift horse in the mouth,” Ellis said.
During his third grade year at North Side School he said he remembers running into the building from the bus to escape the cold.
He recounted how one child was stopped and told that because the weather was changing, he now had to wear shoes to school.
“It was hard times,” Ellis said, “Everyone felt it.”
It was in his fifth year of school that the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.
Ellis said he remembers discussing the event at school that day, and watching the third grade teacher cry.
“It was after that that we stopped having fire drills and started practicing for bombing drills,” Ellis recounted.
He said that his place to hide was under the water fountain, which he was very happy with because it made him feel safe.
Ellis also remembers the aluminum drive that was run by the school to help in the war effort.
“One boy went home and got all of his mothers aluminum pots and pans,” Ellis said, “When his mother got home and found all her pots and pans gone she marched him back up to the square and made him dig them out.”
Ellis now has children and grandchildren, who are also living in Marshall.
“The kids of the Great Depression learned a lot with chalk and blackboards and paper sack lunches,” he said.