Shandra Lee. With Heart Wide Open. A Miracle In The Making.


In the old days when the phone rang we knew it was often “The Call” day, night, any hour the train crew had to be ready to roll.
The cousins sleeping on floors, pallets, roll away cots would hear the familiar sounds of cooking, coffee brewing, packing, the Truck pull up, and the Brakeman jump in. On they’d drive to the next house until The Crew was assembled and ready to roll.
Life as a train man and his family, revolved around the railroad. My Grandfather Lowell Wayne White (Pepaw) was the Brakeman. For 50 plus years much of that time carrying his lantern in The Caboose, to wave to the Conductor and Engineer as a visual signal all was clear.
a comforting favorite still hanging in White Home
A few days later, the reverse. The familiar truck would pull up, deposit the often exhausted Brakeman, honk a goodbye to the waiting Wives, cousins and neighbors  on the porch swing , (or more often snuggled in beds) driving onto its next delivery. Sleep, eat, repeat.
 I hadn’t realized  the accommodation being offered was a cottage called ” The Engineer”. I didn’t, but He did. You see there was a sense that something about this trip that would bring closure, healing and answer long forgotten questions for many of us on many levels in many ways.
This room, with its pine furnishings, a queen-sized black iron bed, and 5 foot claw-foot tub) is reminiscent of the days when the engineer and his crew had to “bunk over” on those long overnight trips.”
 I’m not sure, but likely their long ago bunk rooms were not nearly as comfy cozy as this one which also has a TV, a small refrigerator, microwave, AC, ceiling fan and a private porch swing nor did they likely receive a lovely German breakfast served In Style (photo below) in The Grand Dining Room.
An electric Franklin stove not only provides heat to the body, but also adds warmth and charm to the soul. “Stay awhile and enjoy a relaxing ride into the past.” Was the invitation. So, I accepted.
Cute little Engineer Cottage at MM-BnB
(these are file photos from their website and do Not do justice to the lovely landscape or cozy decor completed by the Inn Keepers, Bob and Sherry)
The summers and holidays we spent in Texas (Wood County to be exact) were hot, humid, usually lazy and too numerous to count. Many times we drove or walked by the old 1898 Victorian , then in disrepair. Cousins and I would speculate about the house, this town and Life as we walked back from the Piggly Wiggly, bottles of Cokes or Orange in hand.
That house and its equally grand equally in disarray neighbors~with the obvious former grandeur and those of its neighbors evoked stories which were vivid in my imagination. Even at an early age knowing it must have had a grand existence yet asking  about its story, adults mumbled something this or that. Time marched on, old houses were forgotten.
 But sometimes , actually  often in betwixt times of The Call, there were front bed room guitar ‘jam’ sessions with Great Uncles, Uncles , Grandpas, Cool Cousins, all picking and strumming to the record on the turntable. Or singing a ‘new’ tune as it was created.

Settin’ on old rockers, edges of the bed, straight-backed chairs with us little listeners filling in the cracks of floor space. Cooking going on in the other room at Home.
Laughter, whispers, women talking, neighbors coming and going. Screened doors slamming, overhead and table top fans slowly humming. Guitars softly strumming.

Good memories of long ago and far away. Times before Life got away and out of hand.


Purchased 20+ years ago, with the restoration complete, resting this visit at The Munzescheimer Manor laid to rest many questions about this home and so much more.
Long ago Gustav built this home lovingly for the woman he hoped to marry. She accepted his heart and hand. Happiness, parties, success, VIPs, family. The family and community prospered.

Then Gustav,  neglecting and abandoning his  wife and children, left it all. So much future thrown away. So sad. So familiar. So common.


Munzescheimer Manor MineolaTX

Sherry and Bob have brought hope back to this home, restoring it as a labor of love. Sharing funny, sad, true stories of the past and present as they serve sumptuous breakfasts to many guests who have become BnB “family”.

Standing in The Engineer Cottage…Remembrances of the call, when cousins and neighbors, family and friends would pile in the car to the train depot ’cause the crew was coming home. Remembrances of story telling, laughter, love. Memories.

Standing in my Grandparents home…Memories.

Leaving The Engineer Cottage, locking up one last time, the train moving four blocks away. It doesn’t often stop in Mineola any more, just Whistles  as it passes by. The Depot , once the hub of local family life, now a historical site..Memories.


Standing at the Gravesite. Memories. Leaving this small town once again, where for 80+ years Whites have lived, died, influenced, loved, made mistakes, disagreed, reconciled, Prayed. This trip Hearing some of the old stories in new ways and some never before heard…Memories.

Home. History.Present.Future.

Until next time~pondering the Lessons Learned~

Shandra Lee White Harris

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3 Replies to “The Engineer”

  1. Really enjoyed reading and so glad you shared these memories. My father was Edgar W White. My Mother thought so much of Aunt Lila and Uncle Lowell even tho she was divorced from my father. She said they were so good to her and helped her in many ways.


    1. Thanks so much for taking time to read and respond, Dianne! I appreciate it very much and to hear some from other ‘kin’ is very nice. Keep in touch?


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