Sunday, June 22, 2003


I imagine all the things he must have seen, being born as a new century was taking it's first wobbly steps. There were no silver spoons for him to teeth on and probably just a rough, unfinished floor when he learned to crawl. His father owned their spot of land in Oklahoma due to his claim of it during the land rush. He spoke in later years of the unfairness of it, since another older, regal, race of people were sacrificed in it's acquisition.

The motor car was invented when he was a lad but it would be quite some time before he ever saw one. His family farmed with mules and went to town for supplies with a horse and wagon. His mother laundered his 2 shirts and 2 pairs of pants with a rub board, soap she'd made herself, and water from the well. He had one pair of shoes for winter. He ate the bread that was baked in the oven of an old cast iron stove. There was plenty of wood with which to stoke it because there were still plenty of forests back then. Their vegetable garden fed them all summer and the extras were preserved in jars, or by pickling or drying for the cold winter months. They had a cow for milk and pigs to slaughter for hanging in the smoke house. A yard full of chickens and ducks provided them with fresh eggs for at least 9 months of the year and extras were fried up to put on the Sunday dinner table.

Their simple house was built to allow breezes to circulate through doors and windows during the hot months. They gathered in the kitchen in cold weather because the stove in there was the only source of heat other than the drafty old fireplace.

Baths weren't an every day event, but at least twice a week they filled the old tin wash tub with water that had been heated on the wood stove. During warm months, with a bar of soap and a dip in the creek, they made do.

As soon as he was old enough, he had chores to do and he did them without question. His family worked side by side in order to eat and live. He said he had a good life and felt lucky because there were others who had much less.

He was 65 year old before he owned a television and only turned it on for the evening news. He bought an air conditioner for the spare bedroom (for company) in 1995, he didn't like the unnatural coldness from it himself. Mostly self-educated because at 13 his father died and left him the head of the family, he ran a sawmill, scouted timber, and farmed without even the aid of a calculator.

He and my grandmother raised 8 children to be fine adults and he outlived 3 of them. He also outlived my grandmother by 10 years and on the day of her funeral was the first time I ever saw him cry. He stayed strong for her until then.

I know all of these things and more because he told me while I sat many times with him in that old swing beneath the pecan tree in his yard.

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