Book relates life after depression, and beginning of World War II

A new book about life in McCulloch County at the end of the Great Depression and the beginning of World War II is now available to county residents at the Heart of Texas Historical Museum. “A Soul Housed Up” by Ethel Neal Yeager, edited by her grandson and with a foreward by her daughter, Jane Coggin of Brady, has been published recently by the 1st Books Library. The book is a selection of Yeager’s writing found in the Brady Standard and the Heart of Texas News between 1936 and 1944. Yeager’s two columns, ‘Country Commonplaces’ and ‘Yeagitorial,’ considered virtually all aspects of living in the country during those years’the daily round of early rising, cow milking, fire building, vermin fighting, house mending, meal fixing, and weather watching is on almost every page, and from the details of that round she compounds structures of commentary. She peoples the pages with those who shared her life and the portraits, some a single line, others whole essays, are the equals of any. Many of today’s McCulloch County residents will find their families and ancestors coming to life in the book’s pages. A Soul Housed Up raises questions which later became central to the feminist movement. Her people move in their spheres’Rochelle, Brady, Austin’and show the reader a difficult but very lively world rather removed from the gelled popular impression of that time. Yeager shows us a society whose economy was depressed, but its people were not. Yeager invites the reader to share her world, the world of a woman whose acute gift of observation was paired with a soul infinitely humane. Her writing shows a spirit completely connected to the universe it inhabits, perplexed by the ways of garden weeds and awestruck by thoughts of eternity. That spirit found no venue alien to its genial nose-poking, and Yeager’s columns provide a window onto those explorations of the world she beheld from her pasture and found wonderful. Ethel Yeager was the second daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J.S. Neal, pioneer settlers in the Rochelle community. Mr. Neal was a successful rancher and businessman, active both in Rochelle and Brady. His children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren have long continued his tradition of active civic and business service in McCulloch County and beyond. Ethel married Aaron Yeager and lived much of her adult life in the Claxton community, north of Rochelle. She taught several years in the Lohn community, wrote for the newspapers in Brady, and was one of the area’s best known citizens when she moved to North Texas in 1950 to join her daughter, Jane Yeager Coggin, now once more a resident of Brady. Ethel Yeager died in 1980. The newly released book will be available through the Heart of Texas Museum by mid-December. It is priced at $16 including sales tax.

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