McALLEN – In memory of Polly Schultz who passed away on May 6, 2011, this story is taken from the many things she told me about her life. The charming and energetic Polly Schultz was one of our areas's most respected mental health professionals. She was a life-long advocate for children who have fallen through the cracks because they have not had a sufficient family and community support system.
The whirlwind Polly entered this world before the doctor's arrival. Her mother, Rose Hoftoe, said "Polly didn't wait for the doctor and has been racing around ever since." They named her Polly Anna. She was the second child, with a sister, Betty, and two brothers, Walter and Michael. A fifth-generation Texan, Polly grew up in Cedar Creek on part of the land granted to the Litton's in 1824. "My grandmother was a disciplined person," Polly said. "She was a community leader, and it seemed she could do anything. She wanted to teach us everything she knew. This included sewing and embroidering, which we didn't like as much as helping her cook. It was before the days of television, and both grandparents were good storytellers and kept us entertained while we worked. At Thanksgiving and Christmas all our relatives would come to our grandparents' home for good food and visiting."
Later the Littons moved to Bastrop, and at Bastrop High, Polly not only became involved in extracurricular activities, but also received numerous honors, including salutatorian of her graduating class. "When there are only 32 in your class," she told me, "you get to be everything." At 17, Polly went off to Southwest Texas State at San Marcos. There she helped "work her way through" by taking a job in the library and later on the collage newspaper. Again, Polly was into everything. "The only money award I ever won," she told me, "was when we had a little contest on campus for the one who belonged to the most things." As a Junior, she tied for ‘Most Popular Girl'.
At the beginning of her senior year, Polly got up the courage to transfer to U.T. Austin, where she majored in sociology, with a minor in business and education. Upon graduation, Polly went to work for Juvenile Probation. "It was a formative experience for me," Polly said. She worked as a social worker in the Denver Harbor area of Houston and in the psyche unit at the V.A. hospital in New Orleans. Awarded a National Infantile Paralysis Scholarship, she took off for Tulane University in New Orleans, arriving on a beer truck (arranged by her father, Hillie Litton.) There she earned a Master's degree in social work and became a visiting teacher for the Houston ISD.
Because she had always dreamed of going to foreign lands, Polly digressed from her social work career to take a position as an English teacher in the American school in Mexico City. There she polished up her Spanish until she was truly bilingual and, in 1958, met and married Francis Scott "Jovan" Adams. Jovan was the managing director of Pan American Airlines in Mexico City and also sat on the Boards of Directors of Mexicana de Aviacion and the Reforma Hotel. "Jovan had a great zest for living," Polly reminisced. "The people always wanted him in their groups because he was so much fun."
The Adams duo was to enjoy many adventures. First Jovan was transferred to Afghanistan, where their son, Chesley, was born in Kabul in 1961. "It was like going back to Jesus' time," Polly reminisced, "camel caravans, mud huts, mud streets, women in chadras." While she awaited the arrival of Chesley, Polly went to work for CARE. Later they moved to Uruguay. "All in all, it was a fun time; we lived in a really nice ocean-front house," she reminisced. "It was a highly educated populace in a country where there was no poverty. They had a lot of health-care benefits, and all education was free-as far as you could go. Their food was reflective of all of the different cultures which contribute to the international ambiance. The Uruguayans enjoyed grilled meats, English trifle, Italian gnocchi's, and they delivered pastas (like raviolis) to your door. They also brought wonderful fresh breads daily to your home and had beautiful birds (like partridges), wonderful tortos from the British, and Hungarian crepes. Beef was plentiful and inexpensive, and the fruits and vegetables were wonderful."
In the 1960s Jovan retired and they moved to McAllen because, Polly said, "I wanted to take a job where I could use my Spanish." She found a position as a social worker in the P.S.J.A. migrant program, and, at the same time, began to work on her Master's in Counseling and Guidance from Southwest Texas State and the University of Mississippi. Over 40 years ago, she went to work at M.H.M.R., where she became the Supervisor of Children, Adolescents, and Family Services in a tri-county area. "The juveniles' system is better now than it was when my career first began!" she said. "Laws now provide quite a bit more protection for children's' rights. There are more options-therapeutic group homes, foster care, and juvenile detention facilities are much better. But, I would like to see a family court established here."
When asked if she had any funny kitchen memories, she replied, "It wasn't funny! "In Afghanistan we invited Jovan's boss for dinner, and I cooked a turkey on our kerosene stove. That's when I found out that everything you cook on a kerosene stove smells like kerosene and tastes like kerosene. It was very embarrassing!"
I have another funny story to tell about Polly. Many years back she took up a notion that she was going to move to San Antonio. After signing a contract to purchase her home there, she made arrangements to be transferred in her job, and began to pack. Alice Taylor, Jovan's sister, had a big going-away party for Polly and Jovan the night before they were to leave, and all their friends came and brought going-away presents. Everybody was so sad to see them leave; they all reminisced over the good times they had shared and wept over their upcoming separation.
After the party that night, Polly decided she didn't want to leave her old friends after all, so the next day she canceled the house contract, called everybody to let them know she was staying and sent the mover's away. Upon reading this, her son told me that she actually turned away the movers on several occasions! (She didn't tell me about that.) Apparently, she just went back to work on Monday morning, and everybody there tactfully pretended it never happened. Her friends were all so glad Polly stayed, that they let her keep the presents. Polly stayed busy with her career with MHMR through 2001, when she retired. Sadly, Jovan passed away in 1989.
However, in 2001 a wonderful change came into Polly's life when she married a dashing McAllen widower, Frank Schultz. Long-time friends, they were both members of McAllen's First United Methodist Church. One Sunday morning, Polly and Frank surprised their Sunday School Class by having the minister marry them there - in class - they were actually the lesson for the day! Polly and Frank decided to sell their homes and build a new one together. Frank sold his home (Quinta Mazatlan Birding Center) to the City of McAllen, reserving enough of the property for their new home. Polly set up a private practice, and since her work hours were under better control, they had plenty of time to travel and have fun. Sadly, however, Frank passed away in 2007.
In her spare time, Polly enjoyed watching birds on the veranda of her home which attracts almost all the birds that have flown through the Rio Grande Valley. Her other favorite pastimes included tennis and golf, at which she was superb. (She could whack the golf ball further down the green than most of the men.) She also loved to play bridge, read and watch Spanish language novellas on T.V. An active member of the Pan American Round Table, Polly also belonged to the 20th Century Book Club and Poco Loco. In addition, Polly was one of the first non-lawyers chosen to serve on the Grievance Committee of the State Bar of Texas.
A joyous event took place when Polly's charming son, Chesley Adams, married a beautiful girl named, Kris, and they moved to Abilene, where he finished his Ph.D. in physical therapy (with honors) - Polly was so proud of that! Even better, Chesley and Kris became the parents of a son, Tommy. (It's said that Baby Tommy is a whirlwind just like his grandmother.) Polly didn't want to miss a thing when it came to watching her grandson show off his new tricks, so she was very happy when Chesley took a job in Corpus Christi, which meant more opportunities for Polly to see her family.
All in all, Polly enjoyed an exciting and fulfilling life. Since moving here in the ‘60s, she has given her heart and soul to our community through her devotion to the forgotten children of the area. Those who knew her will always remember and miss her because she worked so hard for our kids and their families.
Polly Anna Litton Adams Schultz ------ TRULY MADE A DIFFERENCE!