American Gypsy Records 

Growing up Romani in Texas

An Oral Tradition

I came across the website and found it interesting. I am of Romani descent. I live in Texas as well as some of my family. My mother's and father's family were all Romanichal. I grew up around them speaking Romani but only when they did not want you know what they were talking about it. My father did not want us to learn the language and did not talk to us in Romany. There are a lot of Romanys living in Smith County, Texas. The surnames are Rinehart, Smith, Young, and Suggs. My father travelled and lived in tents till he was 21 years old. My aunt would tell us stories of being treated very poorly by people when they would camp. My father would tell us stories about some of our relatives being be sent to town to peddle pencils, baskets, needles, and pen sets. He told us one of the Suggs family would send their sons into town peddling and had to earn a certain amount before he could return home. The townspeople would feel sorry for him and usually fed him and bought shoes for them. His father and uncles would repair stoves, picked cotton, or whatever was available. He finally settled down and got married. He went to work at a shipyard during WW2. When the work slowed, his family was ready to leave, but he decided to stay. They continued traveling for a few more years before settling in Lindale, Texas, about 100 miles east of Dallas. There they remained until their deaths in 1971 and 1982. The kids still remain there. Sometimes they are talkative about being Romani and sometimes not. They will tell that it was a hard time growing up this way but the families were very close knit. Around the early sixties the whole family settled down and the kids began moving off. We have relatives in Arkansas, Louisiana, and all over Texas. Where I live we also have what I believe is called Vlax Romani. They are fortune tellers and do a lot of selling of cars and travel trailers. I would be interested in knowing about others stories of growing up in a Romanichal environment

I think if more Romanichal would tell their stories of coming to the U.S.A., and their life here, the young ones could learn a a lot about their history. I have a sister who would not tell her daughter about the family being Romany because she was embarrassed by it. The film industry and society has made "GYPSIES" OUT TO BE A VERY BAD RACE. It has always interested me since I was a little child. Please e-mail me. I would also like to here from anyone who has a story about growing up in a Romanichal environment.  Donnie. or use Donnie.

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