William C. Carroll “Monkey” Tells It Like He Sees It
8/1/2014 by BY MIMI BROWN
William “Monkey” Carroll
Some of the people in Teague come from families who have resided in Freestone County for generations. So it is with the Carroll family. This particular family alone has been in Freestone County for well over 100 years.
William Carroll and Thelma Baker Carroll were both born in Freestone County and farmed in the area called Israel, Texas, located about half way between Kirvin and Streetman. The couple had three children, Jimmy Keith Carroll, born in March of 1933, Barbara Nell Carroll born in May of 1935, and William Curtis Carroll better known to people in Teague as ?Monkey? Carroll, born in October of 1937.
The children grew up working on the farm. ?When I was 6 or 7 years old my mother would send me out to the well to get water to take out to my father. We had two mules to pull the plow and a few other farming implements, so dad would get plenty thirsty working in the fields,? said Monkey. ?Dad would always tell me to draw water from the north side of the well, that it was cooler on that side. I guess it was....it always seemed that way to me anyway.? By the time he was 10 years old he was helping his dad plow and do some of the heavier work. He said, ?I would come home from school, change my clothes, and head out to the fields to help my dad.?
The family attended Caney Missionary Baptist Church every Sunday. Monkey?s father was a deacon at the church for 59 years. Monkey said that kids who go to church all the time aren?t perfect either. ?The first cigarette I smoked was with the preacher?s daughter, said Monkey. ?She had them hid in the hen house, so we went out there and smoked one.? That memory made him smile.
Monkey and his brother and sister graduated from Fairfield High School. ?We came over to Teague to cruise Main Street though. ?We thought the Teague girls were prettier than the Fairfield girls,? he said. ?It was probably because the Teague girls all had fathers who worked for the railroad and had more money for clothes and beauty shops and such or it might have been that we grew up knowing the Fairfield girls.? Monkey played football and baseball in school. He said he was good but not good enough to go anywhere with it. ?Leo Long and I played sports together and worked on the railroad too,? he said. ?Gilbert Oliver and I grew up together and hunted and fished together and when I was a teenager Warren Awalt, Milton Carroll, Larry Folk, Charles Earl Childs, Buddy Kitchens and Lindale Phillips were all good friends.? Curtis Carroll got the nickname ?Monkey? because his high school football coach said he ran like a monkey. It stuck.
Monkey graduated in 1956 and stayed on the farm to help his father bring in the cotton and corn crops. He then went to Dallas, which all small town country boys dream about, I guess, and worked for Sears and Roebuck Company doing accounting in the mail order division. He liked the job but in January of 1957, when the Christmas rush was over, he was laid off.
He found a job at Chance-Vought, a company who built fighter jets. ?They built the biggest jet in the world, the FHU1,? he said. ?I put screens behind the guns to catch the hulls and keep them from getting into the engines. A bunch of Yankees ran the company and you just couldn?t please them.? It was on Lamar Avenue, in Dallas, where Monkey met Shirley Whitt. They were married on February 18, 1959. The happy couple moved home to Freestone County where Monkey hired on as a brakeman for the railroad.
Monkey and Shirley had three children: Deborah Lynn Carroll Cox who is married to Dennis and lives in Teague; Judy Darlene Carroll Angel and husband David who live between Dew and Langley; and Curtis Allan Carroll and wife Cindy of Teague. Monkey and Shirley have 13 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren. ?Shirley made sure that all three of our kids went to college,? said Monkey.
While working for the railroad Monkey and his son raised cattle together. ?At one time we had 400 head,? said Monkey. He worked for the railroad for 42 years, retiring as a conductor, in 1999.
On May 10, 2008, he lost his dear Shirley to a long bout with cancer. He took care of her for 11 months, with help from his family. ?She never had to leave her home,? he said proudly. They were married for 49 years. ?Life just isn?t the same without her,? said Monkey.
Monkey was on the Teague City Council for a short time with Shane Reeves, Jason Turner, Jackie Utsey, Dennis Cox, and Mayor Earnest G. Pack. He is a member at Eighth Avenue Baptist Church.
Monkey is still out and about in Teague, having coffee with friends and swapping stories. He feels very fortunate that his children all live close by and he can be with them and his grandchildren and great grandchildren often.