Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A little bit of history

I am setting here listening to and watching a film of an interview with Mom and Dad in 1999 at Christmas in Perkins, Oklahoma.  It is amazing what you learn if you sit down and listen and ask questions.  In summary before I start, what I am saying is you need to take the time to film and interview your folks before it is too late.  And yes Mom and Dad moved to Perkins after living in Grainola for most of 65 years.

Mom and Dad met when Mom was babysitting for Vea and Gordon Harris.  Just for fun that would be Bobby (Bob), David, Janis and Eddy.  Dad was working for Tanny Olsen but spent about a third of his time working at the ranch where Vea and Gordon lived.  Dad and Gordon were very close friends and since Mom worked there it was logical they would meet.  I would have to say that we have never gotten any details about this but Mom was 16 and dad was 27 or 28 when they got married.  Today that might be illegal but it was not back then.  In fact back then it was relatively common for a big age difference.  I will make the point that they had their first child, Larry Wayne, when Mom was 20.  Now I am not saying Larry was their favorite but I am saying ...... anyway.

Mom and Dad's first house was on Beaver Creek 1 mile north and three West about 2 feet south of the house that sits there today which Dad built and I helped (I was about 5 years old).  They purchased the farm and original house from the Almon family who moved to Washington State to work in the defense business.  When they bought the house they purchased the house and lland plus for $100 extra they got the furniture, harness for the horses and all the machinery to run the farm.  Dad said the dining table was a library table about 1 foot wide and 5 foot long.  Don't get wired up about 5 foot and not 5 feet.  Dad said it and I quoted it.  For a kitchen cabinet they took a dresser and turned it upside down, flipped the drawers over and had a kitchen cabinet until later on when they could afford something different.  A little history on that house is it was picked up and moved to Grainola where Mrs. Heath (postmaster of Grainola) made it into her house and the front porch became the Grainola Post Office (74639 or 73649 or 76349 as I recall).  It was funny in that we use to not have zip codes and everyone thought it was a big deal when we got zip codes.  When I lived in Holland during 1970 I use to mail letters to Mom and Dad and would address it:
Mom and Dad
Grainola, OK 74639
and everyone one of those letters got home.

Another important piece of trivia I learned from listening to those tapes is that Gordon Harris could drink a case of bear and not have to go pee.  Now that seems like a bit of trivia that I and you don't need to know but it bares the question, what was Dad doing?  and why would he need to know that?  As I began thinking about all the stories about Tanny Olsen liking a drink now and then I began to wonder how much my dad drank when he was young before he got married.  The one thing I do know is that Mom never let alcohol in the house except for one bottle that was for treating a cold.  That bottle lasted for years and I never did try it except when I had a cold.  Mom would put about a tablespoon in a cup of hot water and give to me to drink.  Burn, burn, burn - a ring of fire.  No wonder I was never interested in drinking.  I suppose I just don't need to know everything.

Also from that video I learned that Mom and Dad liked to dance.  They would go to Big Beaver or to Arkansas City, Kansas and they particularly liked Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys.  Mom and Dad's best friend during part of that time was the base fiddle player and his wife.  Now for some reason I never can quite picture Mom and Dad dancing but they were young once.

Some of my most favorite stories are about when Dad, Tanny and a bunch of cowboys would go to Louisiana and round up steers and fill up a trainload of steers and heifers to bring to the Osage to fatten up and then on to Kansas City to market.  I absolutely cannot imagine riding horses through the swamps with all those snakes and alligators to get steers and heifers.

Well, what do you learn in the Osage?

  • The whole story is not always told
  • Some stories should never be told
  • Some stories are not worth telling
  • The truth can be lost over time
Thanks for listening,
gary@thepioneerman.com




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