Now that our Julia 1933 collection has hit the shelves, we have many folks asking us where the name came from. Julia was my mother-in-law. It wasn’t until the last decade of her life that she discovered solace here in the Texas Hill Country. You see, Julia grew up on a farm in Oklahoma, and she left that farm at 14 years of age in 1947, thinking she would never be back. She was heading to the big city. Alone.
Headstrong and stubborn – and believe it or not, right most of the time - Julia wanted to make a better life for herself. After all, what was there to lose? Julia was born during a tumultuous time in 1933, right in the middle of The Great Depression. In 1947 it was a rough life in rural Oklahoma, still struggling from the depression and then World War II. Farming was not for the weary. Especially when your father, the farmer and breadwinner of the family, suffered from crippling rheumatoid arthritis at a time when there was little that could be done for the disease, except slowly wither away in dreadful daily pain.
So I have to say I completely understand where Julia was coming from. She would be one less mouth to feed and probably able to do more in the city than her father would have been able to do on that farm with his ailing health and crippled hands.
And she did just that. She headed to Fort Worth, Texas, a large financial trading center at the time. She rented a room in a boarding house and got a job in the financial district as a “chalk girl”. Her job was to climb up on a ladder to write stock quotes on the “big board,” a large chalkboard that wrapped around the trading floor. She wore a suit, hat, and white gloves and spent her day on top of that ladder writing chalk quotes as they came in for the traders to see. The idea of the electronic ticker tape was not even a thought that would have been comprehended at the time.
Barely making ends meet initially, she always managed to send money home every week to help with the care of her beloved little sister. She didn’t want her going without as she had. I guess it was no surprise that Julia began to thrive in the financial industry; it became her home away from home, and it was a world away from the farm in Oklahoma. With a piece of chalk in her hand, Julia became a sponge absorbing everything she could learn about trading. I suppose she was only destined to become one of the first female stockbrokers in the state – and with no high school diploma, much less a college degree.
Conquering all that she felt she could in Texas, Julia left for Florida in the 70’s where she lived in a high-rise condo on the 12th floor with floor to ceiling windows and white carpet and sparkling clean marble countertops. Again, it was as far from the spectrum as possible from where she came. She lived out the rest of her life half a continent away from Oklahoma overlooking Tampa Bay and shiny downtown St. Petersburg. She maintained her brokerage license and traded stock until she died.
You have all heard me say life really does come full circle. It did for me and I suppose it did for Julia, too. Perhaps this is why we related so much to each other. Although she never returned to Oklahoma, she did discover the Texas Hill Country during her twilight years, where she enjoyed spending much of her time.
On mid-summer evenings we would find her sitting just outside the farmhouse at Hummingbird Farms beneath the ancient live oak, sipping local wine and watching the hummingbirds zip and flutter in the fragrant Hill Country air. During this cherished time on the farm, Julia recounted a lifetime of adventure and drew comfort from the simple pleasures enjoyed here.
Inspired by our very own Julia and our treasured memories of her and those beautiful summer evenings at Hummingbird Farms, we have blended what we believe portrays that glamorous bundle of energy we knew: quite spirited, sometimes misunderstood, impressively accomplished, always loving. We hope you come to love her collection as much as we loved her.