Alvis Eli Coble's Story
Son of Lula Bell Swann and William Leonidus Coble
First bad thing I remember happening was Dad made me a wagon out of an apple box with bucket lid wheels. A neighbor came to see us, they had a little girl about my age. We were playing with the wagon all evening and when they went home, she let the little girl take my wagon with her, with me 'a bawling my eyes out.
The next bad thing is that that fall we were in the cotton patch. Mom told me and Harry to stay under the wagon in the shade. Harry got up on the wagon to show me how far he could pull the brake back, and he fell back onto the double-tree, broke his left arm and elbow. Dad took him to Breckenridge, 14 miles in a buggy to the doc to get it set. His left arm's always been smaller than the other and he could bend it backward 'bout as far as he could forward, almost, but he never let it bother him in his work. He done as much work as anybody else's. Never complained.
This would 'a been in 1914. Then we made a close move to another farm called the Edward's place. And this is where Harry had diphtheria. He was real bad, and the doc came one night, and stayed nearly all night, I think. He done all that he could for 'em, and so he told Dad when he left, said, "well, in the morning' you might as well make arrangements," cuz he didn't think he'd have a chance to make it. But to everybody's surprise, ol' Harry got up the next mornin', went down to the kitchen and told Mom, said, "I'm hungry." So I guess we lived there two years, and that was when Aunt Ida married and left us. Then another short move to another place called the Smith place. We lived there one year. Ivan and Harry were in school, but I'm not old enough yet--you had to be seven then to start.
The next year was when they first began to drill oil out there and so we moved back into Necessity and Dad got a job--watched the first oil well, watched it and pumped it. So they rented a house there for awhile, and then Mom got a job runnin' the phone office. And the house was furnished so we moved into it. That's where all three of us boys had the red measles. They started drillin oil wells all around, and people began comin in there from everywhere, covered wagon and everything you could think of. So Mom and Dad decided they didn't want to raise us boys up in the o8il field. So in the fall of 1918, Dad bought a team of horses and a wagon and rigged it up for a move. First, to go on a cotton picking trip, and decide where to go from there. We had some neighbors who decided to go along with us--they had two boys and three girls. So they got their wagon ready--they owned their little farm, so this was just a cotton picking trip for them. Their name was McGowen.
They had Mr. McGowen fix their wagons with a frame that extended out over the sides, so they'd have more room. Then covered 'em, built a cabinet on the back, with a big door that fastened at the top, with legs so that when they let it down, that made the cook table. Mr. McGowen took a tent along with them so they's so many of 'em, you know, too many to sleep in the wagon very long at a time, so whenever we took a job pickin cotton, he'd put up the tent, so they could all sleep more comfortable. I don't know where all we picked cotton, but the last place was in Wise County--I heard 'em say, and that's where we parted when the season was over.
The McGowen's went back to Stephens County, and I'll never forget Mom and Dad just decidin' where to go. Whether back to Oklahoma, or on to Van Zandt County, where Mom was raised. And that's where they were married too, so when they drove out to the main road, from where we were camped picking cotton, Dad stopped the horses and said, "well, Mama, where to? Oklahoma or Van Zandt?" Finally Mom said, "well, I don't care, wherever you'd rather go." Then Dad and they headed toward Van Zandt. This was in the late fall of 1918. And when we got back there near Wills Point, they saw some people they knew and asked about a farm to rent, so they found one with an old three room house, moved in, got set up, and that was the year I started to school. School was a one room building, used for church and school. dad named it "Coon College." So we made a good cotton crop there, and this was in 1919, that was the year WWI was over. Uncle Henry came in from the war, and helped us gather our crop.
Well, I was eight that year, and I picked cotton too. I remember one day, I was pickin along with Uncle Henry, boy, I picked a hundred pounds that day. I was really thrilled and he bragged on me, of course, you know, and made me work harder, and I was really proud a myself too. The only thing is we didn't get paid like the kids do nowadays. Then, guess what? The McGowens went back to Necessity and struck it rich. Got a big oil lease on their land, bought a home in Weatherford, a 320 acre farm west of Weatherford, near Garner. They bought a brand new 1919 Model Ford T and drove down to see us there in Van Zandt County and wanted us to move on that farm out there in Parker county and raise cattle for 'em, so , of course, that meant another covered wagon move and this move was ins December 1919, all the way back to Parker County in the same wagon and team. All we had was in that wagon. I don't know how long it took, but I think about 20 miles a day. People then were not afraid of travelers. We'd stop along the road at somebody's home and ask if we could camp. Never was refused. They'd say, "Sure, take out your team, put 'em in the lot, feed 'em, 'course, Dad always took feed along with 'em.
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