The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

April 7, 2013

Penning 'Adventures of Jose'

Local resident uses children’s book to convey message of Christ

Herald-Banner Staff

GREENVILLE — Shortly after their marriage, Greenville natives David and Frances Narramore began teaching Hispanic children in the Brownsville, Texas, public schools.

David taught third and fourth grade students and Frances taught math at junior high level.

Now they’re doing their best to bring the Christian message to other Hispanic youngsters through a church in the Greenville area and through David’s book titled “Adventures of José.”

The couple both graduated from Greenville High School but did not begin to date until David returned home from wartime service in the Army Air Corps

“I was in the Lion Drug Store across from the high school, and I was looking for a date,” he said. “The school annual was just out and I looked through all the pictures until I saw Frances Youngblood’s picture. I skipped over a lot of girls’ pictures to find her,” he said smiling. “She wouldn’t go out with me till July though.”

Frances said she was a little shy at first because David had been active in high school sports and was voted the most handsome boy. “My mother said he was such a nice boy — she knew his mother — and said I should go out with him.”

They married in August 1950, accepted teaching jobs in Brownsville, and lived in a small garage apartment.

David laughingly admits he made a big mistake during those early months. Frances had made banana pudding for dessert one evening, and David told her “It doesn’t taste like my mother’s.” Frances responded by throwing his pudding in the garbage, and then continued to eat her own portion.

The couple returned to Greenville in 1953 and David joined his father-in-law’s monument business, doing whatever designs or artwork customers wanted on tombstones. His designs were transferred to stencils, he said. “Now it’s all done with computers,” he added.

“David has worked most of his life,” Frances said. When he was about 12 years old his father, who owned Narramore’s Shoes on Lee Street, bought him a popcorn machine which he set up in front of his father’s store. The business went well until the cost of supplies increased. Rather than raise his price, he said he cut the sacks down to offset his increased expenses. “Finally they got so small I was embarrassed, and I shut the business down,” he said, chuckling.

The Narramores helped establish the Hispanic ministry at First Baptist Church under the leadership of Dr. Doyle Sumrall, pastor..

“First Baptist had an old building across the street, and a sign in Spanish saying “Welcome” was put up in front,” said Frances. An ad was also placed in the Greenville paper announcing the new ministry. Eventually the ministry became Nueva Vida Church, located in the building on Lee Street that had formerly been Greenville’s public library. Within the last few years the church, now called New Life @ Lakeside, is in the former Reavilon Baptist Church building, 1109 Wolfe City Drive. The Narramores now attend the church which has Anglos as well as Hispanics in the congregation. The 10 a.m. service is in English, and the 11 a.m. is in Spanish.

“Adventures of José” began as individual Sunday school lessons David wrote for Hispanic youngsters. Each of the approximately 100 short stories is about a little boy, his mother and father, and the events in his life as he learns about Jesus. Whether attending a parade, a family vacation, starting back to school, camping out or a birthday party, José learns about the love of Jesus and how this affects his actions.

In one story about parental influence, David tells about José buying candy cigarettes because he wanted to be like his father who smoked. His father told José he and Mama didn’t ever want José to smoke because it would hurt his body. The father threw his own cigarette to the ground, stomped on it and said he would never smoke again.

David laughed as he recalled, “I thought writing this would help me quit smoking. It didn’t.” Frances quickly added, “Not immediately, but he did quit eventually.”

Before he retired, he often came into the office early and began to draw the pictures of José that would later accompany each story. “I drew the pictures, and somehow the Lord gave me the stories. About three years ago our daughter, who is a computer systems analyst, got the stories together in book form and we had them printed locally.”

He has given away 2,500 to 3,000 copies, primarily to parents. “I ask them to look at the book, approve it and read it with their children.”

Several children have written to him telling him they liked the stories and hoped he would write more.

The Narramores said their association with Hispanic families has enriched their own lives. For a long time the couple hosted a Christmas party in their home, but because of health problems they have had to discontinue these gatherings for the past two years, a move they regretted.

“These are wonderful people. We’ve been blessed by that relationship,” Frances said.