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       Linda Newton


Ethel McCain

Celebrates 99th Birthday

by:  Linda Newton

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Dateline Colleyville: August 13, 2001 1:31 PM

Ethel McCain Celebrates 99th Birthday

Long time area resident, Ethel McCain, celebrated her 99th birthday on Saturday, August 11.  She was married to Ed McCain, brother of the namesake of John McCain Road in Colleyville and is the last surviving member of her generation of that family. She began the day at 7:00 AM by opening approximately 30 birthday cards with her niece, Joy Trent.

According to Joy, Mrs. McCain's early childhood was austere by today's standards.  She began working at the age of nine, helping take care of her father's mother in Gainesville.  The family lived in Waxahachie prior to moving to the Grapevine area.  As a child she seldom received Christmas presents.  She received her first doll from the McCain family in the 1950's.

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She married Ed McCain when she was nineteen.  His first wife died during the flu epidemic of 1918-1919, and he had two children ages nine and ten.  The story in the family is that Ethel kept her suitcase packed for three months after marrying Ed just to make sure that his children would accept her.  She was not going to stay if they were not happy.  It is very evident today that she became loved and accepted.  Those children are now 89 and 90 years old and they call her weekly.  One lives in Los Angeles and the other in Denver.

Ethel and Ed farmed, working together to grow and sell produce.  He eventually went to work for Texas Power & Light.  She always worked and kept a spotless house.  One of her jobs was at Brown Washateria in Grapevine, still located just one block off Main Street.  Her duties consisted of standing up all day ironing white shirts without the benefit of air conditioning.  At one point she and a friend cleaned houses in the area.  She was always quick to attend to friends and neighbors when they were ill, and helped in the birth of several babies, some of whom still live in the area.

She and Ed were faithful members of Pleasant Hill Advent Christian Church in Southlake, where Ethel has been a member for 81 years.   They were always there on Sunday mornings with their Bibles in hand.    She is quick to tell you that tithing her share to the Lord made it possible for her to live on what she made.  She has continued to tithe since moving to the IHS Mimosa facility in Keller four years ago. 

Prior to Ed's death the couple lived in the Southlake area.  Losing Ed was traumatic for Ethel. She keeps a large picture of him in her room and still talks things over with him.  She lived in an apartment on Texas Street in Grapevine for 27 years prior to moving to Keller.  Even at 99, Ethel's hands are still busy.  She crochets every day except Sunday, which she observes as the Holy day.  Her handcrafted work is beautiful and always in demand.  She sells all she can make and is quick to tell visitors that she "pays her own way".  She often reminds her family that she never made even a dollar a day.


Ethel's smile is contagious, and her memory and ability to tend to her own affairs excellent.  Nieces often give her a call to obtain the ingredients of an old family recipe, which she never fails to remember.  She is also a walking history book.  She is able to explain the links of the older Grapevine families, such as who married whom, along with maiden names and sibling's names. 

Anyone who meets Ethel comes away knowing she has touched their lives in a positive way.  Joy Trent, daughter of Ollie McCain, shared these memories of her Aunt Ethel with LNO, and also provided the following story.

"Outside of being a good Christian lady, Aunt Ethel probably made the best fried pies in Texas.  She was known for many miles around for the delicious pies.  She made them for the family, church functions (under the old Tabernacle), and lots of others would pay her to make them some.  For church homecoming every year, with dinner spread under the tabernacle, the men got smart.  They would get their fried pies first (lots of them) and carry them around in their pocket while they ate the rest of their meal.  No matter how many she made there were never enough.

She was very organized in the way she prepared these pies.  She preferred dried fruit, usually apricot, apple, or peaches.  The fruit was prepared to perfection.  The dough was flour, Crisco, and miscellaneous ingredients, but nothing was ever measured.  It came out perfectly every time.  Once the dough was rolled to the proper thickness, using a bottle for a rolling pin, she used a saucer to cut the dough exactly the same for each pie.  The fruit was put on the dough, the dough folded over and sealed meticulously with a table fork.  Then they were fried to a golden brown in Crisco and drained.  Ready to eat.  One niece took lessons, but never perfected the fried pie skill.

Ethel was definitely known as the "Queen of Fried Pies" in and around Grapevine.






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