Friday, 23 March 2012 by Berneta Peeples
Old Bell County boy Thomas Riley "Tuff" Hood has joined the ranks of the number of authors of books about the area from the 1830s to date.
Tuff had a reason for his writing and hasn't given thought to another book.
"I wrote this for the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of my brothers and sisters," Hood said. "As a childless older man, I enjoy the offsprings of my brothers and sisters, but I feel sort of sorry for them too. They have so much handed to them out of love and caring, they don't have the real appreciation of 'having it all.' They can't understand when the old folks talk about growing up 'the hard way' so with time on my hands, I wrote a book for them."
Hood added, "I'm not sure they really understand how stringent times were and that we really worked every day from before daylight 'til after dark during the depression years. Nor that farm folks had it better than town folks. On the farm we had gardens, cows, chickens and hogs, so at least we had enough to eat. In fact farm people invited their town kinfolks out to help with the gathering of garden stuff, fruit from the trees and specially at hog killin' time, gladly accepting food for pay. Farmers didn't have any cash either."
Hood admitted that his family is "about eight generations from Gen. John Bell Hood, the tough old bird Fort Hood is named for. But, it doesn't bother us or him."
Tuff did his writing with a ball point pen sitting at the kitchen table at their home in Temple after he had settled his invalid wife for the night.
Yes, several chapters begin with the words "Dad woke us up at 6 a.m. to begin the day's work." That was to imprint on these computer raised kids that once upon a time there was a daily, grinding, absolutely necessary routine to keep food on the table. This included care of the horses and mules used to provide that food."
The family of George Monroe and Mary Josephine Whitehead Hood lived in several of the more than 100 rural communities that dotted Bell County in the pre-WWII years. Early year names and places wander across the pages.
The Hood boys were rodeo contestants and at the Killeen Rodeo in 1953 there were eight family members competing.
Tuff got his parents to sign for him to join the N avy at age 17.
In almost a footnote, he writes about the only time he volunteered for extra duty for extra pay. He never wants to see anything like the atom bomb drop at Bikini Island again.
He got the name "Tuff" from Uncle Marshall Hood when he was three or four years old.
He was riding calves in Uncle Marshall's rocky pasture, got bucked of and cried when it hurt. Uncle Marshall brushed him off, said "You're a tuffy" and set him on the nearest calf."
The book sort of wakens an understanding of the depression years and of kids in service in WWII.
For purchase, contact T.R. Hood, 4405 Lone Star Trail, Temple, TX 76502-723, (254) 778-4814 or (254) 247-6232.