Wednesday, October 21, 2015

This is the beginning of the stories I put together of the stories Dad wrote. I'm sure he wrote some more after I'd put the books together for the family. I'll get them scanned and posted at a later date.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Dad (or Grandpa) has been writing these stories off and on for several years. Some of them may seem repetitious since they deal with the same subject. Some are ones he wrote to me when 1 lived in Great Bend (1 always suspected that since 1 was single and lived the farthest from home he thought 1 needed "grounded"). Later he wrote some stories to send to Lynn. Some of the stories might be about the same subject as he wrote to me but they each have some different details. After reading all the stories, 1 thought we might all like a copy for ourselves. So 1 learned to use the computer to do just that Any mistakes you can blame on Dad or 1 (or the computer). 1 was only going to make copies for we six children until Justin pointed out to me that he would also like a copy. 1 decided he was right, the grandchildren could also benefit from these stories. Maybe we should all take a lesson from Dad and add our own stories for our kids to enjoy. As Dad writes more stories, I'm assuming he will, I'll try to get copies for all of us. Everyone take care of these as they should be handed down to the next generations. Judy

Oct. 30,1984

He sat his horse and surveyed the scene before him. The distance seemed endless but after all, he was accustomed to that. He, who was born near the sea, and as a boy had often sat on the rolling green hills and watched the ever rolling breakers come in and spend themselves on the beach below. Sometimes he would just sit there, not knowing that in the distant future he would cross that great expanse of water and after a time of searching he would again in some distant place, look down from a gentle rise, and there spread out before him, he would rest his eyes on another sea. But that sea would be far from the crashing waves and the tides that spent themselves on the shores near his boyhood home. Yes, he had wandered far. The days and nights of loneliness were behind him. Somehow, he knew that the days of wandering were over. He had rode the ships on the great sea and thus fulfilled a boyhood dream. But there was a driving force within. It would not be still and even as he sat on the deck in those brief moments of rest he knew that he must press on to that distant place. Even as he mingled with the crew he knew that he would leave this life of a sailor. The days passed into weeks and the weeks lengthened into years. The longing within him would not be still and one day as they were riding at anchor in the harbor of an Atlantic seaport, he left the ship. Never again would he see the ocean with all its awesome power and beauty but he knew that someday his search would end. Deep within he knew that the sea would always be a part of him. How many seaports, how many cities had he seen? New York City, Boston, Norforlk, the list could go on and on but even the thought of them held no appeal. Then there was that twin ribbon of steel that reached forever westward. Or so it seemed. How many rivers did it cross? How many deserts did it cross? And the mountains. He remembered them with a feeling of awe. How they broke the hearts and the backs of the men who pushed those rails from the east and the west, until they met at that place which is now Ogden, Utah. There, they drove the golden spike and he was there. As he watched there was a feeling of pride within; but he remembered the men who lay in unmarked graves along that road which they had built and there was a sadness within him. It had been said in the work camps along the way that the life of a Chinese worker was of little value. How many of them - some needlessly- had died? He did not know and only wanted to put the thought of it behind him. It seemed only natural that a man who had come to love these high plains would spend some time as an Army scout. After all, he was at home in the saddle and the top of the next hill always beckoned. So as he sat and watched the scene below him it was what he had done many times before. But this was different. Perhaps something within was telling him that it was time to settle down. After all, he was no longer young. True, he was only in his early thirties, but when you start making your own way before you reach your teens you can do a lot of living long before middle age. Those endless days in the saddle and the nights in a bedroll beside a campfire had begun to show. Many a man who rode those endless plains was old long before his time. This he knew and perhaps it was at least part of the reason that he lingered here and watched the scene stretched out before him. What a scene it was. The prairie seemed to go on until it met the sky. The short grass was abundant. Below him was a ribbon of water that seemed to rise from the ground not far from where he sat. It led off to the north for a few miles and in the distance he could see a broad valley that seemed to run from west to east. That valley he thought would probably contain a flowing stream. He made a mental note to ride over there sometime soon and have a look, but right now he felt a peace in a way that he had never felt before. He was content. Somehow he knew he was home.
There, along that stream the tall grass waved in the wind. Grass, tall beautiful grass, it touched his stirrups as he started to ride through it. As he watched it wave in the wind, he could shut his eyes and once again in the far off islands, The Isle of Man, he could see those gentle ground swells roll in, one upon the other and spend themselves on the beach. Here, along this stream, he would build his last campfire. Here he would live out his days in the 'sea of grass.' And so it came to pass, Judy. He settled there and lived for a time. It was his home. He married and my father was born there. That valley to the north ran through the center of what later became known as Valley Township. Through that valley flowed the south fork of the Solomon River. Yes, it was a flowing stream. My father spent his life along that stream. I to, have spent most of mine along it. But, time will not stand still and conditions change. Grandfather saw the farmer begin to turn his beloved grass beneath the plow. My father once told me that as the grass began to disappear, something died within him. His beautiful, endless, sea of grass was no more. And such is life, what we know and cherish passes away and if we are old we do not want to change; so we die. He lived to see the prairie turn into fields of wheat and in 1916 he too passed from the scene. I did not know him. He died before my time, but as I look back I have long felt a close kinship with him. Our lives have been parallel in many ways. You see I too have seen the 'sea of grass.' As boy I herded cattle on it for days on end. I too have seen the Solomon when it was a flowing stream. Many is the time when the windmill refused to supply enough water for the stock, it was my job to saddle a horse and drive the cattle and horses to water at the Solomon River. I was born on Sand Creek which flowed into the Solomon about a half mile from where it flowed. It did not flow through our place. And of course you know that I have lived now for more than thirty years on the banks of that watercourse. You of course spent your childhood there. Just as Grandfather sailed the sea, so have I. I was an engineer. That meant that I worked below deck. Many a night I would go topside when the moon was full. When the sea was calm - if you could ever call it calm -1 never tired of watching the groundswells. They always reminded me of home and the tall grass and the wheat fields waving in the wind. Now the water is gone from the river. Sometimes when I look at the dry riverbed I feel like I have lost an old friend. Maybe I too am getting old. This is fictional of course but historically it is true. It came down from Dad.

Nov. 7,1984
In the last letter I told you how it all started in Sheridan County. Samuel Alexander Morgan did settle on what is now called Museum Creek, so named because of the many Indian artifacts that have been found there. He merely settled. He did not homestead. Apparently he lived there for several years. The date of his arrival is often placed at 1868. At any rate he established a working ranch there. He held cattle (that was die way it was expressed) for a man from somewhere in eastern Kansas. In some of Dad's papers the man's name is give. Apparently he lived there for almost fourteen years. Dad was born there. Grandad married a young lady who had recently come from Clinton, Ontario with her parents and family. Her maiden name was Eliza Holmes. Shortly after Dad was born, they sold out to George Pratt, Fred Pratt; die one who runs the sale barn is his son. I understand they went to Texas to look at some cheap land that they were told could be had there. They did not stay. In fact about a year later he took a homestead on die Solomon River about six miles west of where he first settled. He seems to have continued to run cattle in the new location. Dad used to say that he and his brothers didn't do any work that couldn't be done on a saddle horse. Dad was considered to be an excellent bronc rider. I never saw him ride. He quit before I was born. He was, however, always interested in rodeos. The ones I saw in die early days were a lot different than what you see now. There were wide open spaces where the arena is now. If the pickup men had good fast horses well and good, it might sometimes turn into a horse race if the bucking horse decided to run and the rider didn't leave him before he started running. A rider was supposed to take care of himself. Dad used a technique called hobbling die stirrups. That is, they tied them together under die horse's belly. One could hook his boots in the stirrups and it helped him to stay in die saddle. This was a risky procedure because sometimes they wouldn't come free if die rider was thrown. In that case he was dragged. I don't need to tell you what could happen then. Many a rider met his death this way. There was very little farming done at dial time in this country. They did cut a little wild hay. There was no railroad when Grandad first ran cattle. I really don't know where they drove them to market. You must realize that there were not fences then and no fields except for a small plot that some homesteader had plowed. Riders stayed with the cattle. That is the reason for the expression 'holding cattle. There were trail herds coming through the country. If a rider was not tending to business it was possible for the trail herd to pick up a few strays. Dad was born in 1881. The big spreads were going strong then. By the time he was old enough to help, dial era was passing away because the homesteaders were dividing up the country. The law of die open range was still observed but the country was filling up fast. Simply stated, the law of the open range was that if you had some land that you didn't want someone's cattle to graze on you had to fence them out or have one of the family watch and drive off any strays. That is another story in itself. Grandmother saw Grandad for the first time in just such an incident. She always said that he deliberately tried to drive die herd through a patch of feed that her folks were guarding. This might give you some idea about die era in which Dad grew up. What did they do with the cattle at night? Well they bedded them. Unless something unusual happens you can bed a range cow at dark and she will not move until it is light. If you are just holding cattle in the same area they will get up at first light and graze, so you need to be fairly close to the herd for most of the daylight but the work is not demanding. The hours in the saddle in such a situation are long, very long. Dad was a product of this era. He was a stockman first, last and always; but looking back on what I can remember and
piece together; I suspect that he really never did adapt to the conditions that prevailed after he grew up. The 'sea of grass1 turned into a sea of wheat but it didn't happen overnight. Wheat was introduced into the U.S.of A. in the late eighteen hundreds. In the early nineteen hundreds a field of wheat was quite a common sight. By the time I was born there was field after field of it. He farmed some but Dad was never really a farmer. Looking back, I suspect that he never wanted to be one. He was caught up in a situation where it was hard for him to adapt. He worked away from the farm a great deal, usually on some sort of construction project - moving dirt for a road or something like that. He took his outfit to Damar (a little town near Plainville) one time when I was quite small. As I remember it Mom and the kids looked after the farm. He also built the dam for the Houseworth Lake. It is located about a half mile north of where Jim and Reba White now live. My brother Robert planted the trees that line the road leading to the lake. Irene, your aunt, was the camp cook for the crew on that project. I, being about five years old (?) was her assistant, or so I thought. Dad had what they called a cookshack. It was probably about the size of our living room. Here meals were prepared and the crew was fed. Remember travel was slow, so most of the crew slept and ate near the job site. Maybe as Mom would say Sam came by his wanderlust honestly. Perhaps it is the blood that flows within him; four generations of it. I too have seen the world but that is another story. If money is the goal of life, then Dad never made it. He died a pauper. There was not enough money left from the sale of his property after his death to pay the bills. He was however a respected man in the community. I was too young to know him well. It is hard for me to look back on the last years of his life without a rather mixed up feeling. What a load he must have borne. Money was scarce, almost nonexistent, debts were piling up. There was little hope for the future. To top it all off, crops failed. The dust storms came. That too is another story. Finally he came home sick on a Monday evening. He went to bed. Incidentally the bed was in the same room where we ate and slept. I would come in from doing the chores. You understand that it was winter and I was the oldest boy at home. Vera was teaching school and she boarded away from home. As I would come in the door his cot was to my right with the foot of it right at the door. He would stir a bit and our eyes would meet. I realize now that he probably did not even know me. The look in his eyes is something that I can never really forget. Finally a neighbor, Ralph Getz, Robert Getz's uncle, took him to the Norton hospital on Wednesday evening and he died very early Thursday morning. Mother was told very soon after he died and she woke me up and told me but I guess that I was so exhausted that it didn't really hit home until breakfast time. Then I remembered my mother breaking down the night before as we were doing chores. She put her face to the cellar wall as I turned the milk separator. She said "He is going to die."

Nov. 9, 1984
There are so many things I want to tell you that I will probably ramble around quite a bit. It has become important to me that I try to help you understand this heritage of yours. I believe that one is the product of their early environment as well as a continuation of the blood that flowed from the parents to the children. How do you separate the two? I guess that in modern times they do get separated in the early breakup of a family. Perish the thought; it is not good. Dad was honest to a fault, as the saying goes. But he made one grave mistake and it haunted him all his life. He sold some cattle and was bringing the money back from Kansas City. He loved to play cards, poker included. He was lured into a game and lost the money. I understand that big Tom Pratt was also in the game. It finally ended up that the man who owned the cattle obtained a judgment against him. He was never able to pay it off but any time he accumulated anything the court would take it and apply it on the judgment. There was a time when I tried my hand at cards but I was never too good. The last time I ever played was in the navy. I had been losing and finally I drew four tens which is a very good hand and no one stayed so the pot was a very small one. I never played again. Dad spent a lot of time herding cattle. That was the term that somewhere was changed from holding cattle. That was a rather endless job but not a very hard one. It was a good place to do a lot of reading and training a dog or horse. Dad read and studied. I was told that he studied Latin. He only had an eighth grade education plus normal school, which was a short course for would be teachers. He did have some knowledge of the classical literature. I too spent considerable time herding cattle. I can remember when there was a considerable amount of unfenced grass in this country. Electric fence was unheard of and permanent fences were to costly to build. So a lot of livestock grazed under the watchful eye of a herder and his dog. Dad and Bob and Vera Woods spent a lot of their early days herding in the same area. They became very good lifelong friends. Vera was Fred Conard's mother. There were lots of antelope and wild horses in the country then. Antelope were very curious creatures. One pastime, when antelope were near, was to lie down in the tall grass or a depression and wave a stick with a bright colored rag tied to the top of it. If one lay very still and the wind was right to blow the scent away, they would come very close. There were a lot of buzzards around. They fed on dead animals. They might soar for what seemed like hours, riding the updrafts on a summer day. One could lie on the back and watch them or the white clouds that floated overhead. It was a time to dream and I am sure that all of us did. My one great desire was to see South America. The pictures in our geography books always fascinated me. You see most of my life, except for Naval service has been spent working alone. I have always preferred it that way. Oh yes, we almost always carried a lunch and of course the horse could eat grass and you shared a bit of lunch with the dog. Life was good. We had no money but our wants were few. If we saw a toy that we liked we would try to make one like it. Maybe it didn't work like the 'boughten one, but who cared.

Nov. 11,1984
It was the Fourth of July in the 1930's. The sun had been up only a few hours but already the heat waves were moving across the horizon in a seemingly endless procession. It would be another hot day. The boy left the house and headed for the barn. He whistled and called the dog. That was really an unnecessary ritual because Buck was already going along beside him. He put his wet nose into the boys palm and received a gentle squeeze in return. They spent a lot of time together, that boy and dog. He wasn't much to look at and no one knew for sure who his daddy was but the boy really didn't care. They understood each other and many times the boy didn't even have to tell the dog what to do. Why, only this morning when they took the cows up south, when he opened the gates to let the cows across the road into the south pasture, one old cow took off down the road. Buck took off after her and brought her back. Of course he expected some praise for what he had done and the boy did not disappoint him. Maybe that was the reason they worked so well. They were not dog and master. They were a team. They were partners. Sometimes the boy wished that Buck could talk. But then again maybe it was better that he couldn't. That dog knew a lot of secrets. The things they had done together. And the dreams - the boy wondered if dogs dream, well, just in case they couldn't he shared all of his with Buck. He would tell him about all the country they were going to see. All the places they would go and as he talked, the dog would look into his eyes, and he was sure that every word was understood. There was no time to dream this morning. Of course it was a holiday and some of the neighbors would be going over to the Houseworth Lake or some other place and once in a great while they went; but not today or tonight either. There wasn't any money and Papa was working on the road and he was the man about the place. There was work to be done and he went about like a young farmer who knew what he was doing. Well after all he was a young farmer. True, he was not yet in his teens but he had been doing a man's work for a long time and he knew what must be done and how to do it. At the barn he caught, Sailor and bridled him. Then he went to the little building they called the shop and took down the wire stretchers, picked up a hammer and some steeples, and mounting the horse they started for the pasture. The day before some of the stock had broken into a field and he was on his way to repair the fence. When they arrived at the place where the fence was down he dropped the reins and allowed the horse to graze. How many times had he been told not to let the horse graze when the reins were dropped? Well, Papa or the older boys would raise cane if they knew he did this because everyone knew that when you ground hitched a saddle horse, it was supposed to stand there until someone picked up the reins and led it away. He took up the tools and started mending fence. Nearby was a small prairie dog town. It seemed like prairie dogs, monkey faced owls and rattlesnakes lived together. Those owls, what odd birds they were. They would stand at the entrance of a dog hole and watch a person's every move. They could turn the head so they were looking behind them and never move anything but the head. The dogs were much more wary. They would come up and peek over the mouth of the hole but if there was any sudden movement they were gone. The rattlesnakes were to be feared. The boy knew that it was dangerous to walk in the tall grass near a dog town. One couldn't be too careful. It was said that during the dog days of summer the snakes would strike without warning. Maybe that was so, the boy didn't know; but he was always watching and listening for snakes. That is just a part of the way it was out here on these prairies. Animals seemed to recognize a rattle from instinct and a person only had to hear that rattle once. After that they would never forget. Just to think of that sound sent chills up and down the boy's back.
They finished fixing the fence. The dog was nosing in some dead weeds in the fence row. He pulled back from the weeds and there hanging from his lip was a tiny rattler about six inches long. The boy killed the snake, mounted the horse and headed for home. When he arrived home and told his mother what had happened she assured him that it would not kill the dog; but they made him a bed in the cellar where it was cool and gave him milk to drink. By nightfall his jaw was so big that they feared that he wouldn't be able to swallow. The long night followed and by morning all the dog wanted to do was just lie there. On the second morning there was a little less swelling and the dog seemed a little better. A few days later he seemed to be as good as ever. Once more they were ready to roam the prairies again. That was a close call. After that they had a healthy respect for rattlesnakes.
Dec. 9, 1984

I have just finished reading the first account of General duster's campaign in the Little Big Horn country of Montana Territory. It is in the December issue of the American History Illustrated. The second account will appear in the next issue. It was written by an army officer who took part in that campaign. This officer lived until 1932 and retired as a Brigadier General. Somehow this account touched me in a very special way. It almost seemed that I was there. I couldn't help but think of some of the things that Dad told us concerning the early days. I guess the thing that really hit me is that I was only one generation removed from that time. Whether the Indian was wronged by the white man or not is a sort of academic question. He was, to be sure, a very worthy and able opponent. One gets the idea from the account that Custer had a premonition that he would die on that battlefield (and of course he did). In many instances the white man showed no mercy and the Indian retaliated in like manner. Dad told us that it was not uncommon for a band of Indians to attack a wagon and if they overpowered the whites they might set fire to the wagon and use the wagon kingpin as a red hot instrument of torture. Then too, the troop might wipe out an Indian village and kill all, women and children included. Man's inhumanity is as old as the race of man himself. If one carries this sort of self examination or meditation far enough it will take a great deal of religious faith to keep one from wondering just how important is one's own life. Of course I must hasten to add that we do not have the right to determine when it will end; but why, oh why, can't man live and let live. I wish that I had been able to know my father better. He was certainly a deep thinker. He was probably more inclined to be 'one of the boys' than I am. On those rare occasions when he did open up he gave me much that I am grateful for. God willing, I trust that I can do the same. Just his memory and perhaps something that he said has sustained me on many occasions. There was another side. He demanded and received unconditional obedience on occasion. Let me tell you about our home. The only one I ever knew until your mother and I were married. I don't remember the soddie where I was born. I do recollect seeing it later. Probably my earliest recollection is an incident that took place very close to that soddie. In those days there was an abundance of water in Sand Creek and the Solomon. There were ponds along the stream bed. Some were quite deep. On one occasion I sat on the bank and Dad stripped down and went swimming. I could not have been much past two because we left there in 1922. The next event was riding with Julius in a hayrack loaded with household goods and arriving at the place that was to be home until Dad died. Now to describe that house. Today it would probably be considered a shack unfit for a dwelling. Never the less, all of us children lived there at one time or another. It was dug into a bank. Three sides were in the bank and the east side was a cement wall. The three other sides were cement too but they were not exposed. The windows were in the east and the door was too. It had a wood floor but some of the wood had knotholes and the knots had dropped out. So sometimes, if some little thing was dropped and went through the hole, it was lost. It had two rooms. It was about fourteen feet by thirty. The roof sloped only one way and between the ceiling and the roof we had what was referred to as the loft. It was reached by a ladder. A cubbyhole with a lid provided the only entrance for many years. This loft was my bedroom for as long as I can remember. In winter, it was not unusual to awaken in the morning and find snow on the bed.
About one third of the main part was partitioned off for a bedroom. All the girls slept there. Five of them at one time. Dad and Mom had a bed in the main room, which also served as kitchen, dining room, living room and utility room. In addition this room contained a wood burning cook stove, (it had a habit of smoking so bad that it would be necessary to open the door), a heating stove, that also burned wood and cow chips and a sink that was used for just about everything you can think of. At one time it had a drain that was always plugging so in later years we used a bucket to catch the used water. It wasn't so good when the bucket ran over. We did have a supply tank and water was piped into the house, but the tank leaked so bad that it was finally abandoned and from that time on water was brought into the house with a bucket. This included the water on washdays. That was always on Monday. Guess who carried a lot of water but seldom without a heated discussion about whose turn it was. Mom got old in a hurry. I wonder why? We really didn't know that we were poor. You see, no one ever told us. Sister Rosa raised at least part of her family in about the same conditions. Dad
In the years before she died, Vera worked as a maid in several homes owned by people who had more money than they needed. She explained; It gave her a chance to handle "nice" things. Apparently she missed never having those things that are associated with the more "gracious" lifestyle.

Mar. 2, 1985
Dear Judy, I have neglected you for quite a while. This has been a very busy time for me. I have a hunch that maybe I am getting slower and have a little less energy. It has sure been a time of looking after the stock and eating and the rest of the time sleeping. I am looking forward to warm and even hot weather. Sleeping is a chore unless I get up and rest the shoulders about every two to three hours. Just a trip to the bathroom and stoking the stove does the thing that needs to be done. It is no use lying there waiting for the ache to go away. It won't until one gets on the feet for a minute or two. It really isn't all that hard to live with but I sure am looking forward to warm weather. I think it will ease up in the summer. The next day after Christmas I woke up with a sort of empty feeling (depression is really too strong a word). Just a normal low after the holiday high. I just wanted to share the feeling with you because I think you probably go through those cycles too. I always felt the most let down after I had visited J.F.'s dad. That was probably because I felt very close to him. Well anyway that post holiday blues feeling didn't have long to last. When I started to feed I found a heifer with calving problems. So much for depression; there was no time for it. You get the idea? Busy people don't have time for it. It reminds me of the time years ago when my sister Rosa was to "work out" for the first time. When I was a kid that expression simply meant that one would work away from home. Uncle date Quackenbush (a brother of mother's) was going to pick her up in the afternoon and she would help his wife during harvest. We played all day as if there would be no tomorrow. We did not talk about what was really on our minds, we just wanted to capture the present and keep it forever. Why? I think it was because we both sensed that a period in our lives was over. She would not be home much after that. It worked out that way because it was not long after that, when she went to Colorado and kept house for Wallace while she went to high school at the Squirrel Creek School about 20 miles east of Fountain, Colo. On May 7, 8 and 9, 1985 there will be a reunion of all who served aboard the U.S.S. Trenton CLII. I served from May 1941 until July 1944. It will be at a place called Pigeon Creek, Tenn. That is in the middle of the Great Smoky Mountains about 50 miles S.E. of Knoxville. Mary said that you were thinking of going back that way on vacation. If you are interested, we would be happy for you to go at the same time.
as ever, Dad

I recall an incident concerning Rosa. Looking back it seems somewhat amusing but it probably was not amusing then. You will need some background to fully understand this. In those days the seventh and eighth graders were required to take and pass a county examination before they were promoted to the next grade or in the case of an eighth grader, this examination must be passed before receiving a diploma. These were no nonsense exams and they took a good part of the day. A country kid often took along a lunch. Mom always baked bread and when she did she often took a portion of the dough and filled a pan similar to a cake pan with rolls. I believe the proper name for them then was Parker House rolls so named because a certain hotel and restaurant named Parker House was supposed to have been the first to bake them. Around our house they were called light biscuits. This may have been a rather common name. I really don't know. The Hoxie Bakery advertised in the Hoxie Sentinel that they were selling rolls for ten or fifteen cents a package, I don't recall the exact amount. You kids certainly didn't have much spending money when you were growing up. I think we had even less. It was decided that Rosa would be given enough money to buy a package of these rolls. We all believed that she would be getting cinnamon rolls. At our house, cinnamon rolls were simply rolls. You can imagine her predicament when she ordered and received the rolls. She didn't have the courage to let them know that she thought she was going to get cinnamon rolls.  I suspect she ate some of them because that was all she had. I wouldn't have either (let them know). We country kids didn't understand city ways but we were proud and stubborn.

It was a quiet, somber group that gathered to see them off. Little was said. There was no carefree banter. Neither was there much visible display of emotion. Mom alone let the tears flow. What were her thoughts? Who can know. She was losing a daughter to the world. Were they tears of joy or sorrow or something in between? The two younger brothers kept their thoughts to themselves and the little sister showed no emotion. Dad probably said it best when he said that this was the best way to meet the future. He, with only a grade school education plus Normal School, was a believer in higher education. So what was decided really solved two problems. It was August 1934. Wallace had spent the past year at the Turkey Track Ranch in eastern Colorado. He was alone and needed a housekeeper. Rosa needed a high school education. So the answer was very simple and it worked out very well. She would go back to Colorado with him and keep house and would attend high school there for the next three years. I feel sure that she and Wallace enjoyed those three brief years. Of course, time waits for no one and all things must pass on. Wallace left the ranch in '38 and Rosa went to live her own life, and that life I suspect was not an easy one. She soon married James A. Gibbs. To be perfectly honest, he liked the bottle too well for his own good. He worked at various construction sites and finally ended up in the hills of Tennessee near Manchester. This, I believe was near the place where he was born and raised. I never met him until after the war. I was on leave and came through Tennessee. I believe they had three children then. Betty, the eldest, was not yet in school. The shack they lived in was similar to what the boys have described as some of the housing conditions of the poor people in the deep south. Jim finally must have straightened out. They moved to Rochester, Michigan where he worked into the landscaping business. He drove trucks on construction sites before that. He apparently became quite successful but she did not live to share in that affluence. The words of the poet seem quite appropriate at this point.
Of all the sad words of tongue and pen the saddest are these, it might have been.
I have many pleasant memories of the times we played together when we were children. May she rest in peace.

Dec. 1985

I would like to tell you about my early years and beliefs and even doubts as the case might be. I don' think that Mom and Dad were church people when I was born. The church at Tasco was built in 1922. I think that it was a few years later when the folks joined the church. It did make a difference around our house. Dad read from the Bible after supper while we were still seated at the table. From that time on we were church goers. I must admit that I was not very interested. They used to hold revivals quite often. We went. I think that it was during one of these that I made my decision but did not join until later. The Holy Rollers also held meetings at various places. I think that they held a few meetings at the old Houseworth dance hall just a short distance from where Jim and Reba White live. This was an open air structure. Its sides were solid up to about four feet and above that it was open except for a covering of some sort of screen or chicken wire. As you can see, anyone standing outside had an excellent view and of course, could not be seen from the inside at night. Some of the boys would watch the show and they thought it was hilarious. I don't know what the church people thought. Believe me, when I tell you that I never watched. I am not sure why because I was surely capable of such a prank. Some locals used to sell home brew on the side at the dances held there. We boys often looked for the place where they hid their supply, but I can't remember of ever finding any. I really didn't care for the stuff anyway. But enough of that. I remember one time I went to Sunday School and instead of putting the pennies in the collection plate, I went down to the store that was always open on Sundays and bought candy. Never did that but once. Mrs. Lacey was my teacher. I learned a lot from her. I did join that church and attended there for a few years. Of course Dad died in '37 and we moved away. This evening I was thinking back a few years. It was thirty eight years ago tonight when I attended the last service that I remember at the Tasco church. It was a Christmas program. Dad had died the previous winter. We sold out the following spring and I had been on my own since that summer. My memory is a bit hazy, but I think that Wallace, Rosa and I were back here for Christmas, and we all went to church on Christmas Eve. It would be almost twenty years before I ever became involved in church again. At that time Mom, Lucille and Arthur were living in Studley. I believe that they were living with Vera. She was teaching school at Studley. To be real honest, my feelings as I sat through that program are hard to describe. Perhaps it was cynicism. It certainly was not unbelief. Perhaps I needed to get things sorted out. A lot of things had changed in my life in such a short time. It certainly took a long time for me to realize that I could no longer ignore God. Such is life. I have lived most of mine. I trust that you have most of yours left. Live it to the fullest.
Dad One thing I have learned. Be sure you leave a past that is such that you will have no misgivings if you chance to retrace your steps.

Feb. 23,1986

Dear Judy, This isn't premeditated but I am here all alone and I felt the urge to write you a short note. I represented the Gideons in a church service in Oakley today and for some reasons or reason things seemed to go well. I really felt good about it after it was over and several commented favorably after the service. This doesn't often happen and I suppose you might say that right now I am on that mountain top that Christians talk about. I am thankful that my Creator has led me into this ministry. I really believe that I have been called into it. To tell you the truth, for every service like this morning I can recall many that I very strongly felt that I was a failure. For every mountain top there is also a valley and you can rest assured that I have had my share of both. Judy, God bless you, it has been a secret desire of mine that a child of mine would go into some kind of church work as a professional career. The truth is I haven't given up yet and it is also a very strong conviction that I should not try to talk anyone into something of this nature. I have the feeling that you are in the valley right now. I do not know what to tell you except that I was a few days under thirty years of age when I was married and until about eight months before it happened I had no real desire to be anything but single. It has certainly not been a bed of roses and during the early years I would have probably walked out but all of my early training just simply would not allow me to do that. I can say with a deep conviction that I am glad that we stayed together. I am glad that we are taking that computer course. Before long I hope to be able to write to you on a work processor. I am really looking forward to using one of them both for business and private reasons. Obviously it will be easy to correct mistakes and you won't even be able to find them like you can now. Even that dictionary program will be kind of nice. If I don't know how to spell a word I can just try to and then ask the proper program to show me my mistakes. I think that next year I will take some courses in literature and writing. One needs something to keep them thinking young. How would you like to go to the Black Hills for the next family reunion at Thanksgiving time? Beverly said that she would like to host it. Do you know that Robert went to the Hills in '27 and Julius a short time later. I am a bit vague on dates but I believe that it was the following summer that Mom took Lucille and Arthur and spent the summer with the boys in the Hills. As long as Dad and Mom lived they were always the boys. Then in '29,1 believe (my timetable might be one year to early) Vera and Winnie spent a summer up there. Art might remember. I doubt if he really remembers being there.

Aug. 3,1986
Dear Judy,
This has been an interesting day. Norman Larsen represented the Gideons in church today. I gave a testimony. Perhaps you know this, but if you don't, this is for the record. I joined the church at Tasco in December of 1934. Dad died in February of 1937. As you can see these events were only a little over two years apart. We were destitute. Mom, Lucille, Arthur and I left that farm with some meager household goods and a 1929 Model A Ford. We moved into a small place in Studley with your Aunt Vera. She was teaching school there. I may have spent a few nights there but never really lived there. As the expression was then I "knocked around." That simply meant that I was what you might call an itinerate farm worker. I worked, received a little money and moved on. Mom moved to Hoxie sometime before school opened in the fall of 1938. I came home that fall and for the next two years that was my home too while I finished school. During that time and the years in the Navy I was kept on the church rolls and transferred to Hoxie when the Tasco church disbanded in the fifties. When your mother and I were married, it was a simple ceremony with Albert Smith, a Baptist preacher, performing the ceremony at your Aunt Irene's house in Hoxie. To be exact it took place in the yard I think. We did not attend church. I think your mother attended the Methodist church some but was not a member. Along about 1957, Elsie said to me "Daddy, when are we going to go to church?" I wonder if she remembers! She asked me several times and one time I told her that she and I would go the next Sunday. That was the beginning. It wasn't long before the whole family was going, but at first it was just the two of us - then Myrna - then the whole family. There you have it. I think of the passage in Isaiah "a little child shall lead them."