The Life and Times of Leslie W. Reddell

As Told to Dan Reddell

I was born on Friday the 13th, in the month of December, 1912, in the small farming community of Atoka, Oklahoma, to William Harve Reddell and Anna Novella Reddell; Mom and Pop to me.

Friday the 13th was considered to be unlucky to many superstitious people, but it was always good to me.

I don't know why the families of my parents moved to Atoka; my mother was born in Dennison, Texas, a member of the Howard family, and my father was born in Mena, Arkansas, which is only a little more than a hundred miles away, as the crow flies.

 Mom and Pop met and married in Atoka. He was 21, and she was 19, and they married on the 15th of October, 1911. Two years after I was born, Mom gave birth to my sister, Lea Etta. We lived in Atoka until 1919, when I was six years old, so I barely remember it. I know that part of the state was a dry farming area, and that Pop and some of his kin folks ran a livery stable in Atoka, and farmed cotton, the principal crop there.

The farm equipment was horse drawn, and Pop's brother-in-law, his sister Ruth's husband, was a horse jockey, so they would go fasten a bunch of horses behind a wagon, and go all around the country buying and selling horses. Pop was known as a good horse trader, and he could look in a horse's mouth and tell you everything about him. He knew more about horses than anybody I ever met.

The plows were pulled by horses, usually four, or eight, depending on what you were doing. If he was running a cultivator, or something light like that, he would only run two.

 I had to break a lot of horses to work, and I didn't like them much. We broke a horse by tying him to the collar of an older horse, and tying him back by the bits so he couldn't pull and run away.

He couldn't lag behind very far or the other horse would drag him. First thing you know, he would straighten up and pull his part.

I don't know how Pop met Mom, but I know he had a run in with her oldest brother, Alvin. We weren't allowed to see him, and I never did meet him until after I was grown. He had apparently threatened to kill Pop if he continued to go out with his sister.

 Pop was sweet on another woman at the time, but he chose Mom and married her, whether her brother liked it or not.

My Dad was never in real good health. The doctor put him to chewing tobacco when he was four because he had dyspepsia, not enough saliva in his mouth. He used tobacco, chewing and smoking, until 1934 when he was 44 years old. He didn't drink much, we didn't have enough money for that.

In 1934, he had to go to a clinic in Temple, Texas where they pumped his stomach, took all kinds of tests, and made him quit tobacco.

After he got back from the clinic, he changed into one of the nicest men you ever saw in your life. Before, he was always "going" to "...jerk a check line up and down my spine". He was always "going" to do something like that, and he tanned my hide many a time, but if he ever got too rough, Mom would always say, "Harve, that's enough of that," and he would stop it.

 My grandpa and grandmother, on my mother's side, Commadore and Catherine Howard, lived off a few miles from us in Atoka, and we visited them once and a while. One time lighting struck a horse and killed it in their yard, and another time lighting stuck the screen door to their house and knocked my grandmother down. The screen door came off its hinges, and fell on her and when my grandpa came home, two of their kids were seesawing the door over her. She turned out to be okay. Continued...

 

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Email Dan Reddell: bayshoredan@aol.com