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Bo's Stories, Page 6

THE FAMILY OF BESSIE EDNA BROWN & THOMAS MONNIE WOODS

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“Entertainment”

            In this day of books, magazines, radio and television, it is hard for anyone to understand how hungry we were back in those days for something to read.  We had a few books, we got an occasional newspaper and magazine, but that was about it.

            In 1936 or 7, my brother Lloyd got a battery operated radio. Reception was very spotty, the radio was unreliable and battery life was short-lived.  But, when it was working it was really great.

            I remember the neighbors coming to our house in the evening to listen to the radio.  We would sit and listen to such programs as “Amos ‘n’ Andy”, “George Burns and Gracie Allen” (and believe it or not old George Burns is still alive, and about 100 now), “Fibber MeGee and Molly”, “Jack Benny and Rochester”.  We also of course listened to news and music.  It was almost too much to take in.

            About once each year the U.S. Forest Service would come to the Brooks Schoolhouse and show a movie about preventing forest fires.  Fires were always a problem in the hot dry months of the year in East Texas.  (There was a Ranger Lookout Tower just north of Beckville that watched over our area). Somehow, word was gotten out to all the people in the community about the movie at the schoolhouse.  Almost everyone would come. Why did they come?  Well there was not much else to do.  No other entertainment was available.  This was an opportunity to visit with the neighbors and be entertained by a movie.

            I guess the movie was about 30 minutes long, and of course in black and white (color film hadn’t been invented yet, or if it had it hadn’t reached us) and without sound.  I was very bothered about the fire burning and the trees falling without making any sound.  I wondered how that could be?

            Our schools in those days had very few books.  We had some textbooks, very little reference material and almost no novels or books just to read for entertainment.  The books we had at home I read over and over. 

            Mr. Odie Williams was an avid reader of “Dime Westerns”.  These were booklets printed on news pulp.  Each book contained several short stories and a “Novelette”.  There were different ones, mostly, that I can’t remember now.  One of them was “Ranch Romance”.  This one was a last resort for me.  I preferred any of the others to these.  I must tell you there was not much romance in them, and what there was, was implied.  If the cowboy was lucky he might get to kiss the girl, just before the end of the story.  All of these books cost a dime each, hence the name “Dime Western”.

            Odie had stacks of these books in a storage room out back of the house.  I guess he had hundreds of them.  I know Mama did not approve of these books as proper reading material for a young boy, but nevertheless she let me read them.

            The general theme of the stories was conflict on the range, cattle rustling, land grabbing cattle barons, fights over access to water, opposition to sheep farmers and to fencing the range.  There were always lots of gunfights and chases (on horses of course).  I liked the horseback chases much better than automobile chases.

            The over-riding theme in all of the stories was; good always prevailed, right was always upheld.  The bad guys lost. Always!

I used to go and get all the books I could carry in my arms, read them and take them back and get some more.  Odie was real good about lending the books and I was very careful with them.  I expect they would be worth a small fortune now as collector’s items.

 

“Brooks School”

            I have nothing but fond memories of Brooks School (except for peeing in my pants once).  The school was named after John Fletcher Brooks who donated the land for the school, and for whom the community was named.

            Brooks was a public school and when I began there in the fall of 1936, Grades 1 through 11 were taught there.  At that time we had an eleven-grade system in Texas.  A year or two later, the 11th grade was transferred to the high school in Carthage.

            The Brooks Schoolhouse was a square building, facing east.  There were two large rooms in front divided by a wide hallway that separated them.  The walls of the two rooms that were next to the hallway were built so that they would open. The lower half of the walls were hinged about two feet above the floor and would fold down.  The upper half was hinged about a foot and a half below the ceiling and would fold up. By opening the walls the two rooms and hallway could be converted into one very large room.  This was done on special occasions.

            The wide hall ended at three smaller rooms across the back of the school.  A small hallway extended from the large hallway to the two rear corner rooms.  The center room opened directly off the large hallway.

            Right in the center of the large hallway and near the back rooms, a rope hung, through a hole in the ceiling, from a bell in the bell tower on the roof.  The Principal kept track of the time, (sometimes without benefit of a clock or watch) and rang the bell to signal the start or end of classes.

            We had no electricity so there were no lights in the building.  To provide light for the students and teachers, there were large windows along the outside walls of the school.  These windows, if I recall correctly, were set high enough in the wall that a sitting student could not see anything outside which was not elevated.      I don’t recall ever being distracted by what was going on outside.  Only on the darkest days was there inadequate light.  There were some kerosene lamps that could be hung from the ceiling and were used when some night function was held.  I don’t remember ever using them during the school day, although we might have.

            We always had a short recess during the morning and another during the afternoon.  I would guess we had classes for an hour and a half, then a thirty- minute recess, then another hour and a half followed by a one-hour lunch break. This schedule was repeated in the afternoon.  Our school days were longer then than they are now.

            We had all kinds of interesting games during our recesses and at noon.  We played softball a lot.  We called the game “Work Up”.  It got its name from the way you progressed to batter.  There were not two teams.  The progression to batter was from right field to center to left, to third, to short, to second, to short (we had both a right and left side short-stop), to first, to pitcher, to catcher and then to batter.

            Once you were a batter, you remained a batter until you were retired.  You then went to right field, unless you flied out.  When a fly ball was caught in the air, the person who caught it exchanged places with the batter.  The beauty of this game was that it provided an opportunity for each player to play all the positions.

            Individual ability was not so important.  Team play was not stressed.  We frequently had kids of all ages as well as the boys and girls playing together.  The better player you were the more time you usually got to spend as a batter. Also the better you were, the more likely you would be able to catch a fly ball and go directly to bat.

            The school Principal had upper classes in the room on the right as you entered the school.  The next classes were in the room on the left, the first and second grades were in the room on the left rear and the third and fourth were in the center room at the rear.  The room on the right rear was used for storage.

            In 1936, I had one brother, Phillip Ray, and three sisters, Monnie Bess, Joy Nell and Patsy Ruth, attending school there at the same time I was.  My brother Java Lloyd was the newly appointed Principal at Brooks School when I began school.  My other brother James Riley was in the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) stationed at Pinetree near San Augustine, Texas and my other sister Margaret Cathryn was in Tyler Commercial College taking a secretarial course.

            Miss Wilma Brooks was my first and second grade teacher. She taught both grades together in the same room.  Miss Wilma was a lovely young woman and I was in love with her.  I was a timid kid and she gave me a lot of attention.  But for her, I probably would not have liked school.  We had a diverse bunch of kids in the two grades.

            One of the boys in the room was twice as large as most of us.  I guess he must have been twelve or so.  Needless to say he was a little dull.  I don’t remember his name, but he dipped snuff or chewed tobacco.  He stayed in trouble with Miss Wilma for spitting tobacco juice on the floor.  There was a knothole in the floor near his desk (the rest of us sat at tables in little chairs, but he had a desk because at his size he wouldn’t fit at the table), and he spit at the hole.  He seldom hit it.

            Most all of us were extremely poor.  Many wore ragged clothes and most were under-nourished.  I especially remember one boy in my class.  His name escapes me (I think he was a Thrasher), but his family lived in an old house next to the cotton gin on the County Line road.  His dad was a sharecropper.  In all the time he was in school with me, I never saw him bring anything in his lunch except fried perch.  They caught them out of the pond at the gin.

            There was a big girl in my class by the name of Queenie Wallace.  I think her family lived on the Mitchell place.  I guess her dad was a tenant farmer.  She stood about a head taller than most of the class, including me.  I don’t know if she was older, but I don’t think so.  She was just big.

            Anyway, we had a lot of competition in spelling and arithmetic.  Usually the teacher would separate the boys and girls and have us line up.  The first two boys and first two girls in the lines would go to the blackboard.  The boys would compete against each other and the girls against each other.

            When the teacher called out the word to be spelled or the problem to be worked, the kids would try to write it on the board, correctly.  The last boy and the last girl to do so had to take their seat and the next boy and girl from the lines would go to the board.  This would continue until all the kids had competed.  Almost always, Queenie and I would still be at the blackboard.  This didn’t necessarily mean we were the smartest, but it did mean that we worked problems pretty quickly and correctly.

            This competition from my early school days has helped me immensely over the years in two ways. First it taught me to enjoy the competition of taking any kind of exam, or working any kind of puzzle, and second, my success at it gave me a measure of confidence in my ability and removed the fear of doing poorly that besets many people.

            Throughout school, in the Navy and later in college, I found that I was almost always the first one to finish an exam.  What I learned at Brooks School was reinforced in the Navy schools.  They stressed speed.  They encouraged you to go through an exam as quickly as possible; never dwelling on a problem that you didn’t readily know the answer to.  Skip those and return to them after answering all the other questions.  It is surprising how many times I would return to a question that was Greek to me at first, but then was as clear as glass on the second look.

            I believe I got through the first grade only wetting my pants only once.  I clearly remember that day.  I needed to go really bad, but I was too timid to speak up.  Instead, I puddled under my chair.  I was terribly embarrassed.

            We had outdoor toilets.  The girl’s privy was at the far southwest corner of the school ground.  The boy’s privy was just off the school ground, across the road on the north side.  On leaving the school to go to the toilet, the boys went one way and the girls another.

            The drinking fountains were also outdoors.  In front of the school, out near the road, there was a well.  The well was equipped with a lever-operated hand-pump and had a small house built over it.

            The discharge of the pump was piped into a barrel mounted on a shelf about four feet off the ground in the corner of the house.  A horizontal galvanized pipe was mounted about two feet off the ground on three sides of the well house and was connected to a drain in the barrel.

            There were tees about every two feet along the pipe. Each tee was equipped with a riser and, what I learned years later were gas petcocks.  These small valves were aimed up and, with the head pressure from a full barrel would, when opened, direct a quarter-inch stream of water a foot or so into the air.  The jet of water would decrease with the level in the barrel.

            Beneath the pipe and faucets was a wooden trough that caught most of the excess water from the faucets and directed it into a small ditch that drained to the road ditch.  This was an excellent water system for a bunch of kids.  The older boys would pump water as needed to keep a supply ready.

            My troubles with the school authorities began in second grade.  I’m happy to say they ended in the third grade. First was the day I played “hooky”.  I had a co-conspirator in the person of Harold Gene Williams.

            Harold Gene was my best friend.  We were about the same age and in the same grade.  I spent the night at his house many times as he did at mine.  His mother and father, Lucille and John Hill Williams, were always very nice to me.  I loved going to their home.

            We had heard, and witnessed the older kids playing hooky on April Fools Day.  This was kind of a tradition.  I don’t know whose idea it was, Harold Gene’s or mine, but we decided we would play hooky like the big kids.

            On the morning in question, we went out behind the Brooks Chapel Missionary Baptist Church that was on the plot next to, and open to the school ground.  We climbed up into a tree and sat on a limb about twenty feet off the ground.  We heard the first bell that signaled the time to report to class.

            We were torn about whether we should go or stay in the tree.  Then the second bell rang.  This was the tardy bell. We knew then that we were committed.  As the English say, “In for a penny, in for a pound”.  We were going all the way.  No school for us on this day!

            We were feeling pretty good about our daring escapade, until one of the older boys found us.  He said, “You boys are in big trouble.  They sent me to bring you back”.  We wouldn’t go, so he left.  A little while later, the same boy, or another boy I don’t remember which, came back to get us. He said, “If you don’t come back now, you can’t ever come back”.  Well that was too drastic for us.  We knew then that we were beaten.

            We climbed down out of the tree and went back to the school.  The boy took us into the Principal’s (my brother Lloyd) room.  He had all the school assembled in his room. They were waiting for us.  It couldn’t be much worse going from death row to the electric chair than it was for us to walk from the door at the back of that room up to the Principal’s desk.

            He said, “You boys have done wrong and will have to be punished.  I’ll tell you what we will do.  Both of you go to the blackboard and I will give you a problem.  The first one to work it correctly will be paddled first”.  By this time we were both scared to death and shedding some tears.  We went to the board and he gave us an arithmetic problem.  I finished it first, so they escorted Harold Gene out into the hall and closed the door.

            Lloyd grabbed me.  He had his paddle in his hand.  I was prepared for the worst.  I could hear Harold Gene out in the hall crying out loud.  I joined in.  Lloyd drew back the paddle, brought it around and just gave me a gentle shove with it.  I wouldn’t have cried any louder if he had beaten me with twenty licks.  He said, “Bring in Harold Gene”, and they brought him in and down the aisle.  He was dragging his feet.

            From the way I was carrying on I know he thought I’d just had a thorough beating and that he was about to have one too.  But, he got the same gentle tap that I got.  It was quite a show for the other kids.  I don’t know about them, but I learned a valuable lesson; that is to try to abide by the rules at all times.

            I finished second grade and moved next door to Miss Pansy Pickron’s third and fourth grade room.  I hated to leave Miss Wilma, but I had learned a lot and was ready for new challenges.  Miss Pansy was great.  I loved her too.  First, Harold Gene and I got into trouble again. Miss Pansy had a large group of kids in her room and many of them needed special attention.  Consequently, she couldn’t always watch everything that was going on.

            On this occasion, Harold Gene and I were playing and scuffling about.  I can’t remember what it was about, but I think Miss Pansy had called us down once already.  The next time she lost her patience and told us to go stand in the hall until we could be good boys.

            We went out into the hall and were standing there quietly and subdued when I realized that it was nearly time for the Principal, (my brother Lloyd), to come out and ring the bell.  Not wanting to be discovered, we got behind some long coats that were hanging on coat hooks on the wall.

            I thought we had escaped discovery when I heard Lloyd come out and ring the bell and then go back to the door of his room.  But suddenly, the coat was pulled back and there he was.  He had seen our legs below the coats.

Lloyd called an assembly, then took Harold Gene, and me up to the front of the room and told everyone that we had been bad boys, again, and as punishment we were to pump all of the drinking water for the next two weeks.  He said he didn’t want anyone to pump any water except us, and if the level got low in the barrel, just to call us.

            Well, for the next two weeks, we didn’t get to play much at recess.  We had to spend most of our time pumping water.       

Another thing that I recall was the armadillo. Before that time the migration of the armadillo had not yet reached that far north.  But my cousin Junior Pollard brought a dead one to school for everyone to see.  We were amazed at the sight of this curious looking animal.  His Grandpa had killed the armadillo near their house.

            Let me tell you about Junior Pollard.  First his name was not Junior, but that is what we called him, even the teachers.  I had no idea he had another name, but he did - it was Floyd Luchian Pollard.  His mother, Exie Woods Pollard, and his father were divorced.  Junior, his

sister Delores, and his mother lived with her father, who was my Great-uncle Thomas Seth Woods.  Uncle Tom was my Grandpa James Alonzo’s brother.  Junior was a year older than I, and was in my Sister Patsy’s class.  We were in the same room when I was in the first grade and they the second, and again when I was in the third and they the fourth.

            Another thing in my memory was Junior Pollard’s bicycle. His father gave him a new bicycle for his birthday that year. He rode it to school every day.  What was so special about that you ask?  Well, it was the very first bicycle at the school.  I expect half the kids in school learned to ride that bicycle.  We used to stand in line for a chance to ride it.  All kinds of favors were promised and given to Junior for being allowed a ride.

            Junior Pollard was a good kid, and a very good student, As an adult, he was in Naval Intelligence and later became a doctor.  He died at thirty-nine of a heart attack.  But, he was not well liked by most of the boys.  In looking back, I think it was because he always had nicer lothes and nicer things than the rest of us.  Besides that he had delicate features, was attractive and seemed a little effeminate.  He was also a crybaby.  Would shed tears over the least thing.  I’m sorry to say that we made his life miserable.  That is, until he got the bicycle.

            Directly behind the schoolhouse was a tract of timber and underbrush.  It was probably about ten or twelve acres and pretty dense.  Some of the older boys cut pine saplings and built forts.  They also built some lookout towers up in the trees.  We had lots of fun playing cowboys and outlaws in the woods.

            I had gotten a cheap set of handcuffs and a cap pistol for Christmas that year.  At noon, we were playing in the woods and I, being a Lawman (I owned the handcuffs), arrested Junior Pollard and handcuffed his hands behind him around a small sapling.  Later when I heard the bell ring, I tore off for the schoolhouse so as not to be tardy.  I completely forgot about Junior.

            After we assembled, the teacher noticed that Junior was missing.  She asked if anyone knew where he was, but no one spoke up.  I knew exactly where he was, but I was not about to confess.  I quickly told the teacher that we had been playing in the woods and that Junior probably didn’t hear the bell and that I (being a good little boy) could go fetch him.  She agreed, luckily too because I was the one with the key to the handcuffs in his pocket.

            I took off into the woods and found Junior where I had left him.  He was bawling his head off.  I threatened him with his life if he told the teacher why he didn’t come when the bell rang.  Then I unlocked the cuffs and we went back to the room.  He never did tell the teacher.

            On another occasion I and I suppose Harold Gene, went out into the woods during afternoon recess.  There was a large huckleberry tree out there that had a horizontal section of trunk about six feet off the ground.

            We went to it, climbed up and were sitting in this tree (this was a favorite perch) when an older boy came up and took a chew from his plug of tobacco.  He offered us one.  We had never tried it and weren’t much inclined to, but he encouraged us so we did.  I didn’t like the taste, but decided to tough it out ‘til the bell rang.

            Everything would probably have been all right, but I lost my balance and almost fell out of the tree.  When this happened, I reflexively swallowed my chew of tobacco.  By the time the bell rang and we got back to school, I was deathly ill, -- had probably turned green.  I felt like I was going to die, and looked like it too I imagine.  I could tell the teacher was worried.  We didn’t tell her what caused my “illness”.  I don’t remember how it was accomplished, but I got sent home early from school.

            Major changes took place at the school after my year in the third grade.  First, Lloyd left to teach school in Longview.  Grades eight through ten were transferred to Carthage and the school was reduced from four teachers to two.

            The remaining students in the school were divided between the two teachers in the two front rooms.  We didn’t use the three back rooms for classes after that.  But, a year or two later some of the men in the community came in and converted the middle room in the rear into a cafeteria.

            They built a counter across the room with bench seats, put in a cook stove and some tables to be used in preparing meals.  The cafeteria staff was all- volunteer, with the school mothers rotating duty with two of them coming each day.  The federal government commodities program provided all the food supplies.  The food was really good and there was a good supply of it.  I, for one really enjoyed the cafeteria food.

            In cold weather they always made a large pot of hot chocolate, probably using canned milk.  It was rich, and to top it off they put a large pat of butter in each cup.  From a health standpoint that was not good, though truth be known many of us frequently got too little fat in our diet, but I sure did like it.

            It wasn’t too long until I was one of the “big boys” at school and used to go early to school in cold weather to build fires in the stoves so the school would be warm when the other kids got there.

            There was an identical stove in each room.  The stoves were about six feet tall and three feet in diameter.  They were insulated to prevent kids from being burned by getting against the sides.  There was a door on the side for putting wood into the firebox.  Our wood was cut and hauled by the men in the community, usually from the woods behind the school.  We always had a large woodpile out on the southwest side of the school.

            There were several bricks kept on top of each stove to stay hot in wintertime.  When a child had a toothache or earache, the teacher would wrap one of the bricks in a piece of an old blanket and put it on the desktop.  The child could lay his/her head on the hot brick to help ease the pain.

            The hot bricks worked very well.  I was a frequent user, since I was beset with earaches when I was a kid.  There was no medicine.  People saw doctors only when there was a major illness.  When you got a cold or the flu, you just toughed it out until you got well.  Illness was just a way of life.  If you got bad enough, you went to bed.  When you were able, you got back up again.

            During the WWII years the school board voted to have school on Saturdays.  By doing this, they were able to delay the start of school until October and close school around mid-April.  The purpose of this was to make the kids available to help put the crops in, in the spring, and to help harvest them in the fall.  The system worked very well.

            Early in WW II, the War Board asked citizens to collect scrap iron, rags, and bones for the war effort.  That was just down our alley.  On several occasions I took our team and wagon to school and we older boys, and sometimes girls and teachers too, went around the community collecting everything that we could.

            We had a mountain of scrap iron on the school ground. We sold it to a scrap dealer and used the money to buy a radio for the school.  There was not much that went on in the area that some one of the boys didn’t know about.  We knew where all the skeletons of dead cows and horses were.  All of these bones were collected and also sold for the war effort.

            Another time I took the wagon and team to school was during the beginning of Christmas celebration.  One of the teachers and a wagonload of kids would go and we would cut and haul back to the school our Christmas tree.  Usually one or more of the boys would have scouted around and found a very nice tree, so we didn’t have to hunt one.

            The ceilings in the school were fairly high, so we always got a rather large tree.  Once it was set up, all the kids participated in decorating the tree.  We used ropes of holly berries and ropes of popped popcorn, which the girls had made, to decorate the tree.  We took raw cotton, pulled small pieces off and blew them into the tree and they would stick.

            Holly limbs and mistletoe were also cut and used to decorate the schoolroom.  Wreaths were made and it was a grand and festive occasion.  Almost no money was spent on anything.  We drew names and exchanged simple, frequently homemade, gifts.         I may be wrong, but I expect it meant more to us than the celebrations the kids have today. We had so little that anything we got was very special.

“The Sweetest Water in the World”

The spring that provided us with water was absolutely wonderful.  The ground our house sat upon was several feet higher than the road, but it was at the foot of a large hill. The ground across the road was a little lower than the road.

            Up the slope of the hill and near our boundary with the adjoining farm was the spring.  It was located about two hundred yards from the house.  There was a well-defined trail from the house to the spring, made by the many footsteps taken to carry our water.

            My mother said of the spring, “How often have I stood by the old bubbling spring at our farm home that furnished water for so many things, so many years, and wondered at the secret ways by which the cooling waters rise to bless our lives”.

            We got all of our water for cooking and drinking from the spring.  Water for our other needs was carried from the pipe at the small pond across the road from the house.

            To facilitate crossing the fence at the road, we had a vee shaped opening in the fence.  How this worked was; two posts were set about three feet apart to provide a gap in the fence.  From one of these posts, there were two short fences, each about six feet long.

            These short fences were built in a vee-shape with the post on the other side of the gap being about in the center of the vee.  A human could navigate this vee with no problem, but a cow or horse could not make the sharp turn around the post in the center of the vee.

            While I’m talking about this, I’ve remembered that post in the vee was from a Bois-de-Arc (we pronounced it “Bodark”) tree.  We had a good many of these trees on the place.  Mary’s Uncle Arvil had lots of them on their place in Oklahoma.  They make excellent fence posts.  Will almost never rot, but once dry and seasoned are difficult to drive a staple into.

            This particular post had a hollow about 12” deep and 3” in diameter in the top of it.  Bluebirds nested in it every year, I suppose as long as it was there.  I can remember climbing up and looking first at the eggs and then at the little birds every year throughout my childhood.

            When the men from the WPA were working on the road on the hill above our house, it was hot summertime.  I got our cedar water bucket and dipper and carried buckets of water from the spring to them.  The men were very hot and wet with sweat.  I suppose they had water with them, but there were no coolers and no ice for it so it was hot.

            The spring water was cold and sweet and they really enjoyed it.  I can’t remember how much money they gave me, but it was quite a bit of change.  Most gave me nothing but warm thanks, others gave me nickels and a few gave me dimes. How many of you now would give 1/10th of a days-wages for a cold drink of water on a hot day?  That’s what some of those men did.  They were making $1.00 per day, and gave me $0.10.

            Someone in the past had made a box for our spring.  It must have been made of cypress since it never rotted.  The box was about five feet long, two and a half feet wide and three feet deep.  It had no top or bottom, was buried almost to ground level and had a vee notch cut in one end for an overflow.

            Down in the bottom of the box you could see pretty white sand constantly boiling and rolling from the flow of water from its underground source.

            Once each year we cleaned the spring out.  All there was to do was remove the excess of moss that grew from the walls of the box.  That was a job that I did most years and I always liked it.  I would get into the spring to clean the box.  The cold water would take my breath when I first got in.

            Once in the water, there was a small area at each end where the ground would support me.  In the middle however, there was only the boiling sand.  I would hold onto the sides of the box and let myself down into the flow of water.  The sand would tickle me as it boiled around me.  I felt as if I would drop out of sight if I turned loose of the walls, and I probably would have too.  I could feel nothing solid as far as my feet would reach.

            I would get most of the moss out, the crawfish that I could catch and call it a good job.  In just a few minutes the spring would have completely purged itself and would again be clear, cold, and inviting.  How wonderful this was for us.

            We had a place at the end of the spring where we could hang, two one-gallon, buckets of milk submerged in the cold water.  In hot weather we always put milk from the morning milking into the spring to be chilled for our supper.  I never thought of it, but if we’d had a waterproof box submerged in the spring, we could have kept a lot of perishables chilled during hot weather.

            During WW II a survey crew with the Department of Agriculture came through doing surveys of crops.  I remember one of the men coming to the house.  He stood on the ground by our front porch and marked on one of the posts and told us “That is the level of your spring.  If you had a pipe, you could have running water all the time”.

            We regarded this with some skepticism.  I mean, we could see that the spring was up on a hill, but so was the house. There was a road between us that was lower than either.  It just did not stand to reason that what he said was true.  The water might run down the hill to the road in a pipe, but it never would run up the hill to our house, or so I believed.

            A few years later though, after the war when Ray and I were farming, Tenaha put in some new utilities and abandoned a bunch of three quarter-inch galvanized pipe.  Lloyd said we could have if we would come and get it.  So, Ray and I went and took it apart, tied it underneath his pickup and hauled it home.

            We strung it out from the spring to the house and put it together.  We plowed a furrow across the pasture to bury it in and then buried it across the road and up the hill to the back of the house.  Sure enough water began to run through the pipe.  We put a cut-off valve on the end of the pipe and had it elevated so a bucket could be placed under it. Presto! No more carrying water two hundred yards.

            I hate to say this, but the water never tasted as good as it had before.

            There was a large aromatic cedar tree on a small rise near the spring.  Mama had a bench there for her wash tubs and the wash pot was set up nearby.  Clotheslines were also there.  All of our clothes washing, making soap and hominy was done there at that place.

            After I was older, in the summertime I kept one of the tubs near the spring and filled with water.  After standing in the sun all day it would be nice and warm for a bath before bedtime.

            After the warm bath, I finished off with a three-gallon bucket of cold water fresh from the spring poured directly on top of my head.  This was the coup de grace to a hard day and usually assured a good night’s sleep.  When the bath was finished, the tub was emptied and refilled with fresh water from the spring, ready for the next day.

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