Why Wilkie again?
So we know my name is Traci WILKERSON Steckel, so the Wilkie part may seem pretty obvious. But the true meaning behind Wilkie is much deeper and meaningful than just my maiden name, which now lies between my first and (newish) last name.
Most of you, including those I grew up with, never even knew my paternal grandparents, the Wilkersons, because they used to live in Post, TX. My Granny is now in New Mexico, which some of yall know as yall keep up with my annual road trips! But I spent at least one weekend or week each holiday and many a summer in Post with my grandparents each year.
My grandfather, I grew up calling Pa Pa (paw paw), was the best man I have ever known, and I wish I could have introduced him to everyone I have ever known and to everyone I will ever meet. Sadly he passed away on February 15, 1992.
He truly knew how to do everything and felt it was important to teach everyone everything he knew.
A true Texas manly man, I'd like to say. He never knew a stranger; he made friends with everyone he ever ran into, whether it was someone in the ice house, passing by in the parking lot, or a restaurant. And if you were ever lucky enough to know him, you were probably friends for life. Relationships were essential to my Pa Pa.
He loved animals! He had every type of bird you could imagine just because he loved
Cats, dogs, and rabbits too. They were all pets, and he took excellent care of them. He did have pigeons that he raised to race, Homing and Rollers, and he was one of the best in the country, and let me tell you that they were treated like royalty. I learned everything about pigeons from feeding, boxing, and banding to just about everything....and after he passed away, he was the first to be posthumously inducted into the National Birmingham Roller Club (Pigeon Hall of Fame).
But pigeons are another story!
I remember I was about 3 or 4, and someone he knew needed chickens for eggs. So he had me sit in the back seat with a baby chick we delivered to help them start. It was so important to him to share what he had, so his friends and friends could have what he had as well. Once, he handed me $5 and asked me to run into the gas station and get $5 worth of single pieces of bubble gum and put them in a brown paper bag. He had a family come over with a little girl and had me hand her the pack of gum. I remember feeling a little jealous; I mean, I was probably six years old, but when they left, he told me they didn't have any money, and that was perhaps the best gift she'd had in a long time. I remember crying and feeling so awful.
Pa had some guys help him with the pigeons sometimes, and Spanish was their first language, so he made sure that he always spoke Spanish with them and taught me how to speak Spanish as well, just enough to say what I needed to ask them for help with the task I was doing. He never made them try to speak English, but he'd point to tools and say what they were in English to help and NEVER made them feel uncomfortable around us. I was like 8 or 9 and never spoke Spanish in my hometown or used it anywhere else. He told me it was essential to learn other peoples' languages because one day I might be able to help someone out if I could speak it and nobody else could. Of course, I was so young, I wish I'd learned more then, but I look back at his lesson and thank him for being so kind. Also, for trying to teach me more than just the possibility of helping someone out if I was the only other person who could speak their language, ha! He was the world's best for never passing up a teachable moment, whether it was learned at that moment or later in life.
It was always important for my Pa Pa to make everyone feel special, to feel welcome, and to give back and help others whenever he could. He helped others until the very last of his days.
Our personalities are so much alike in many ways. I love to make friends and significantly value relationships, and I have this unbelievable fire inside to help people. I know that he was a massive influence in so much of who I am today. I wanted to find a way to show my appreciation for all that Pa Pa did for me and so many others well above and beyond what I could ever do.
I grew up calling my grandfather Pa Pa, but everyone in Post, TX, and beyond knew him as Wilke. I want to pay tribute to his work and continue to live out my life being the best I can be and live by his standards and love for all, and all my "works" will forever be Wilkie's Works. It spelled a little differently but sounds the same! I hope as you get to know me and this site, you will feel inspired by these works too.
Here's to you, Pa Pa!
Here is my grandfather, RG "Wilke" Wilkerson. This is also the Ford truck I learned how to drive in starting at the age of 9, and I could fully drive by myself by the age of 12 thanks to my Granny's pillows and phone books. He demanded I get a hardship license at 15 if my parents got sick, and I needed to go into town and pick up their medicine. He believed that I should be a self-sufficient woman, even at age 15.
I will be adding more photos soon. I wanted to get this first blog out there but have a million pictures to go through and scan since he passed away while I was just a freshman in high school.