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Ben Online - typing, reading & reacting

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


In my years of service work there were several instances when I could not explain why something worked or did not work. Unfortunately I did not take pictures or document any of these instances.

Once I was called to a ranch on Huffmeister Road to service the central heating in the owner’s house. The ranch foreman explained the problem, showed me the equipment and I shortly had it working. He then almost apologetically asked if I would check the hot water in his house. His wife had told him for a week that she had no hot water at the kitchen sink.

I followed him into his kitchen. He introduced his wife and she said that starting about a week ago, she could no longer get hot water at the sink. It was a small kitchen and the hot water heater stood at the end of the drainboard, about 6 feet from the sink. The hot water pipe was fastened to the wall under the cabinet and ran through the end of the cabinet. On top of the heater was a cardboard box with the necessary fittings. They had never been installed. All that was missing was about 3 feet of pipe. It appeared the plumber left the fittings and planned to return with the pipe.

I asked if the water heater had been replaced recently, and they said that during the 10 years they had lived in the house the heater had not been replaced. I did not try to convince them that there had never been hot water at the sink. I said I would return with the proper fitting and the lady said that would be fine, she was always at home. When I went back and installed the missing pipe, the lady was very appreciative that she would no longer have to carry hot water from the bathroom.

Another story has to do with electrical, not plumbing. We did not have electricity on our farm until after WW II. While I was still overseas in the Army of Occupation, Houston Lighting & Power extended the power line past our farm. My dad contracted with Mr. Hirsch from Klein to wire the house and extend service to the barn, the well, the chicken houses and to the brooder house. After I came home I added some plugs and lights and ran power to the 3-car garage and shop that I built.

Several years after I moved to Tomball, Mother called and said they were getting a delivery of 200 baby chicks and could not make the lights in the brooder house work. I went out and checked where the wires entered the brooder house and found no power. Everything at the barn and chicken house still worked. All the wires came from a pole in the middle of the yard. I turned off the power, put my ladder against the pole and climbed up. I couldn’t believe what I saw. One of the two wires to the brooder house had never been connected—the insulation was still intact at the wire’s end. There was no evidence that anything had been broken, shaken loose or otherwise removed. I climbed down, got a short piece of wire, went back up and connected the two wires together. When I turned on the power everything in the brooder house worked.

I cannot explain how they had lights in the brooder house for 10 years with the wire not connected.

Ben the Cook

Ben the Cook
Action shot from the 1970s



I recently made Tuna Helper, following the instructions on the box and adding margine, milk, etc. Priscilla and I had generous portions for lunch. When she asked about my recipe, I pointed to the kitchen table where the box was sitting...and only then noticed the unopened can of tuna sitting next to the empty box.

Well, we enjoyed our macaroni & cheese lunch and already have the tuna on hand to make another box of Helper.


I watched the TV news show "The Eyes of Texas" for years. When in the mid 1980s they announced the publication of a Texas cookbook I wrote down my grandmother's honey cookie recipe. I asked Priscilla to type it, and she mailed it along with several of her personal favorites.

When the book was published Priscilla's recipes were not included but mine was, with a special mention in the cookbook's introduction. I was invited to the signing in Houston, where I got all three of the main Eyes of Texas contributors to sign the front and while standing in line got a number of contributing cooks to sign their recipe pages.

Some might consider the description "somewhat chewy" an understatement. For those who are dentally impaired, I recommend soaking a cookie in milk or hot coffee before trying to chew it. The good news is, these cookies will keep indefinitely.

Eyes of Texas Cookbook introduction:
My great-grandparents August and Caroline Weiss operated the first cotton gin operated by steam, near Salem in Washington County, Texas. They were among the first German settlers in that area. Money was scarce; however, they always had bees and native pecans...consequently, this recipe was a favorite.

1 1/2 pints honey, warmed
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
Dash of salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans or other nuts
1 tsp. baking powder
Enough flour for a very stiff dough

Mix all ingredients well. Roll dough out on a floured board and cut with a cookie cutter, or drop the dough in a greased pan and flatten with a floured glass. Bake at 325 degrees until golden brown, with edges slightly darker. These cookies will be somewhat chewy.

Ben's Bio

I was born in Rose Hill, Texas in 1925 and at age 18 drafted into the Army. After my discharge I settled in Tomball, which although a small town had more opportunities than Rose Hill. I ran my own appliance installation and repair business for many years and in 1977 accepted a position as Plant Engineer and Director of Maintenance at Tomball Regional Hospital, where I worked until retirement in the late 1980s. In the 1970s I served two years on Tomball’s City Council, was elected mayor and served for six years during which major streets were paved and guttered, utility lines were extended, and a new jail and city hall were built. After retirement from the hospital I spent time on a genealogy project that included two trips to Germany to visit relatives and look up archival records. I have also gotten into writing, chronicling my WW II experiences and authoring Growing Up in Rose Hill, published by private press and sold as a fund-raiser for the Tomball Community Museum Center, where I have served as a volunteer, trustee and Chairman. I am still involved with the Tomball hospital as a weekly volunteer and serve as General Manager of Tomball Emergency Assistance Ministries (TEAM), a church-sponsored operation that provides food and other assistance to area families. I continue to be involved in writing about my childhood and personal interests, and I still enjoy woodworking and other handyman projects. My wife and I still live in Tomball and are not far from most of our 8 surviving children and 14 grandchildren.