Alvis Eli Coble's Story
Son of Lula Bell Swann and William Leonidus Coble
I remember comin' down Cedar Hill Mountain, Dad locked one of the back wheels, so the wagon wouldn't run up on the horses--tryin' to hold the wagon back. Ivan was 13 years old then, and he had a air gun, and I remember him gettin' out and walking' down the mountain so he could shoot his gun. And this was in December and pretty cold. We made into Mansfield that day and Mom and Dad knew some people living there. We stayed with them that night. Next mornin' one of the horses was foundered. So we had to stay over a day or two, and let him get limbered up.
Then when we started out again, we made it to Ft. Worth that day and stayed in the wagon yard that night. And that was kinda like a motel these days, I guess, a place where wagon travelers put up for the night. When we had to camp out one more night, 'fore we got6 into Weatherford, where e stayed with the McGowen's a dew days, 'fore goin' on to the farm, 13 miles west of Weatherford. This was a big house; five big rooms, and wide hallway, went all the way through, had three fireplaces. Dad stripped the wagon down, went to Mineral Wells, eight miles west, got a load of furniture. We started to school then, us kids at Garner. Had to walk a mile an' a half down the railroad track to get there. Wherever we went, we either had to walk, ridge a horse, or go on the wagon.
But we liked to live there and made friends at school and really enjoyed them. Everybody was in the same boat, just poor people. We were just typical boys, and made our own entertainment by hunting, fishin', swimmin. We didn't have back then, no TV, telephone, never go to go to a show anywhere--there wasn't any anywhere nearer than Weatherford or Mineral Wells, and that was too far to ride a horse or go on the wagon, or walk. So after three years there, this time we moved again, I guess.
That's about as long as we ever stayed in one place. So, our wagon, we got it rigged up again, and Dad gave a neighbor two big fat hogs to take his wagon and help us move to Mansfield. That was in 1922, the year of the big flood. Walnut Creek, here in Mansfield, washed out railroad tracks, washed boxcars down the creek, and drowned a bunch of Mexicans that was a workin' and livin' in the boxcars, and so Mansfield at that time had a population of about 400, or maybe a little better. It had its own little power plant for all that was able to afford the rates, I imagine about $.75 a month. And nobody had electric ice boxes or anything like that, just mostly just lights. And they didn't have a sewer system, all outside two-holers. Bathed in a number three washtub. All that didn't bother us--that's all we knew anything about.
We lived here in Mansfield about six months and Dad hauled gravel for Joe Edmond with a wagon and team. Early spring, we moved down close to Venus and worked on the farm for Amos Morgan. that summer, Dad rented a farm from Murph Lowe about eight miles east of Mansfield. We moved down there just before Thanksgiving. We went to Gertie School the rest of that eyar, a little country two-room, two-teacher scshool. The eight grade was as high as they taught there. So Ivan had already finished the eight grade at Garner. He reviewed it. And Harry was in the eighth grade that year, and I was in the sixth. I got to go so little that year, I failed and had to go back in it again. That was all the schooling for Ivan and Harry. I went to Webb the next two years. Then we moved wdown on the Ballweg girls rent place, and I went back to Gertie my last year. All three of us boys finished the eight grade and quit. And this was in 1927. I was 16 that summer, and finally got to weighing a hundred pounds.
So in the next year, 1928, we rented a farm from Bill Mercer, north of Britton. This ws the year Ivan married Ila Foster. They moved down on Mericer's other farm. Now this was a year to remember. Ila's sister, Viola, had married Elbert Meyers, a school teacher, and was living on the Texas coast in Matagorda County at the sulphur town of Gulf City, they called it.
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