The Life and Times, Page 5

As Told to Dan Reddell

by and stood up straight and ended up a half an inch taller than me. I sure was counting on getting those overalls, and it sure did hurt to lose to that guy.

Once, in 1923, the Ku Klux Klan had a party on the acreage behind our house in Amherst, and boy, Pop sure did raise hell about that. He told them to leave or he would shoot them.

I returned to Amherst some fifty years later, and all the windows of the old buildings were boarded up. It's not much of a town, now.

At the time I lived there, I could see there wasn't a future for me in Amherst. I wouldn't be able to get my own farm, as they were all taken, and wouldn't be able to make a living there. I wanted to make some money. I wanted to go to California and Oregon.

In 1932, I had been promised ten acres of cotton for running the whole farm, but Pop decided he couldn't pay me that year, so I told my folks I was going to leave home for California. Of course, they didn't want me to leave; hell, I was their gravy train.

But, they knew I was going no matter what, so they paid me 25 cents a hundred pounds for the cotton I had picked, which came to $25.

I left home for California, but first I planned to stop to pick cotton for a neighbor about six miles away named Golston, but it started raining so I went to Littlefield, Texas, and hopped a freight train and took it to Gila Bend, Arizona.

I was staying with the Starling family, that used to work on our farm, when we heard about a big earthquake in California, scaring me into not going there.

Mr. Starling was a carpenter, and it was there that I got my first carpenter work for pay. An old man, I don't even remember his name, wanted me to help him build a garage for his Model T Ford. When we got finished and were leaving, we turned around and looked at the job.




I told the man that I thought the car was longer than the garage. He ran over and paced it off, and sure enough, the garage was two feet shorter than the car. It took us longer to extend it by two feet than it took to build the thing.

Then I got a letter from my folks, saying they were sick and that the neighbors were having to come in and milk the cows and take care of the farm. I had only been at the Starlings for a couple of months, but I decided to work my way back home.

I bummed a ride on a passenger train, but it was going to Yuma, Arizona. After it pulled into the train yard, I walked over to the river and washed up in that cold water, but it didn't do any good other than just wet my face. That night I slept in a concrete culvert on the edge of the yard.

My meals were good, but simple. I would buy a small loaf of bread and a can of beans which cost a dime each, and then I would tear the heart out of the bread and pour in the beans. What a meal that was! I'd eat all I could hold, wrap it up in a sack and take it along with me.

 Then I hopped a freight train to Clovis, New Mexico, and stayed all night with my uncle, Bob Reddell, and his wife, Pearl. The next day, I caught another freight to Littlefield and walked home.

I still had $25 in my pocket. When I got home you couldn't tell that anybody had ever been sick, but my folks were loading up all their chickens to sell. They needed some money for taxes or something.

I hated to see that happen because we paid for our groceries in Amherst every Saturday by selling eggs and cream. At the Piggly Wiggly store, we could get 6 cents a dozen in on trade for our 30 to 60 dozen eggs, and they would take the one or two 10 gallon cans of cream we brought in. Or we could sell the eggs for 5 cents a dozen, cash. We had five or six cows we milked, and after we separated the cream, the milk went to the calves and pigs. CONTINUED...

Go to page: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Main menu

Go to: email, top or return to photos




Email Dan Reddell: