Riding with Po Poppa.
Nothing rouses festivity in Texas like a summer rain. After showers bathed the Dallas area Friday, they descended into the blackland prairie for a Saturday soaking. And by Sunday, spirits were especially high for the St. Monica Catholic Church homecoming in Cameron.
After a 10 a.m. polka mass, barbecue, sausage and the trimmings were served in the wood paneled Simon and George Memorial Hall, as a gravelly voiced woman called out the numbers for bingo.
The recent showers had bougainvillea and ferns sparkling at a tremendous sale of plants, arrayed at the end of a row of food vendors. The Czechaholics from Hallettsville performed, but curiously, their audience was placidly seated; just two couples shuffled awkwardly on the driveway next to the bandstand. (Why would the Cameron-ites devote that fabulous hall with its wooden floor to bingo rather than dancing ??)
Eugene Mitchan was a hit with the youngsters. Dressed in overalls, with a gigantic stuffed puppy on the hood of his tractor, “Po’ Poppa” drove a “train” through the grounds, his tiny passengers eating sno cones and clanging a bell.
Mitchan was born in Cameron. “I arrived here on January 10, 1930 and have been here ever since,” Mitchan said.
Mitchan has been hauling children on his “train” for the past 50 to 60 years. He’s collected quite a few tractors and cars in the process. During the Christmas parade this past year, Mitchan had a train that measured 84 feet from tip to tip.
St. Monica Catholic Church, founded in 1883, holds masses in both English and Spanish. St. Monica herself, the patient mother of St. Augustine, is the patroness of alcoholics, wives, widows, and long-suffering mothers.