The Story of Bob & Emma Hutchcraft
Since I want our descendants to know something about the Grandparents who first became Baha'is in our family I decided to write this story. I hope that all of you will become Baha'is but if you don't that is your choice. Baha'u'Ilah said that everyone must study and decide for herself or himself what the truth is. Sometimes this story might go off the subject a bit but it's my story and I write it as I remember things.
Bob's story was related to me by his sister, Farcie, and himself. It is not easy to write about someone besides myself as I have to rely upon what is told to me but hopefully, you will get an idea of what Bob's life was like as he was growing up. Now that my parents have gone on to the next world how I wish that I had written down some of the things they told me about when they were growing up and how I wished they had told me more. So I wanted to let you all know about us. I have also used stories told to me by my brothers and my sister. There are some stories included written about children and grandchildren, and some poetry written by my grandchildren. As time goes by I hope that each of you will add to this story so that even hundreds of years from now one can read about this family and its ancestors and descendants. I know that all of you won't be interested in your ancestors but in the hopes that some will appreciate what they went through I write this story. I hope that some of our misadventures will help you to not do the same thing, but I know that each seems to have to learn his own lesson. I feel that I have been very privileged in my lifetime. I have a wonderful family of brothers and sisters and a great group of children. My grandchildren are wonderful. They make mistakes, but we all do and I do hope that they see those mistakes and don't repeat them. Now we have eight great grandchildren and will have more.
I was privileged to meet and talk with Ruhiyyih Khanum, the wife of Shoghi Effendi, William Sears and Mr. Khadem and to meet Mrs. Najavani when she accompanied Khanum to the Yucatan. She is a lovely woman with a speaking voice like an angel. I worked with Dr. Abmadiyeh a wonderful man who was like my own brother and knew his lovely wife, Rezvan. To know and talk with these wonderful, knowledgeable people has been a great blessing to me. I have written about many of these people and hope that you enjoy reading about them. The greatest blessing I have received is to be able to be a Baha'i and to go to many places and meet so many wonderful people, but the greatest blessing has been to be accompanied through this life by my husband, Bob . I have lived 75 years and have received so many blessing
Thank You, God.
In this story, Bob is Robert Jerry Hutchcraft Sr. and I am Emma Jean Batson
Bob was born in Wilmore, Kentucky; on January 12, 1929. He was a big boy, weighing in at twelve pounds at birth. His mother was a tiny woman hardly five feet tall, but his dad was a big man. He was a construction worker and worked on bridges around the country and even in South America. He also worked on buildings, in fact, he worked on the capitol of Texas right here in Austin. Hot rivets were used at that time to hold the bridges together and I'm told that be was one of the best riveters. At the time of Bob's birth his father was working in Wilmore but soon afterwards be went on a bender (a bender is when one goes off and drinks) and left, never to be seen again by the family. He was afflicted by the disease of alcoholism and if there was A.A. then, I don't know about it. He didn't attend, anyway.
Farice told me that a cousin found their dad wandering the streets and had him committed to a mental hospital. They took up a collection from the family and sent Bea and the children to Oklahoma. There were four children: Richard, the oldest, born January 6, 1924; Farice, born February 19,1925; Frances, born May 31,1927; and Bob born January 12, 1929.
After the tickets were bought there was no money left and Farice said she could remember eating peanut butter sandwiches on the bus. Their dad's sister, Sue, sent them letters until she died in 1936. She wrote and told them that Bob's dad died when Bob was about three years old in 1931. He was buried on the hospital grounds but when Farice went to the hospital about thirty years ago she was not allowed to go on the grounds to the cemetery. She said that they would probably allow one to go on the grounds now. They told her they had no records of a Hutchcraft but did have records of a Holcraft. It happened over 65 years ago so the records were either lost or the name was wrong.
We have received a book about the Hutchcrafts and have traced Bob's ancestors back from Bob seven generations. Bob said their claim to fame was that one ancestor brought the short horn cattle into the states. One plantation owner owned 300 slaves. That may not be a claim to fame but a claim to infamy now.
Bob's mother had a breakdown when she got back to Oklahoma and was in bed for four months. She nearly died but her brother, Clarence, got a doctor who said to put her on the white of an egg and whiskey and she got well, probably sheer willpower, and the desire to leave her mother's house and go take care of her children.
After we were married and lived in Moore, Oklahoma, Bea was visiting us and told me that she thought she must have been the worst person when she was young. I told her to look at what she was now, a lovely wonderful person, and I'll never forget the look on her face as she realized that is what counts. She was a hard working good mother to her children and didn't realize how much that means .
Bob's mother, Bea, was the daughter of Jenny Pigg. Jenny's father, Arnold L. Pigg, was born in Bobtown, Kentucky, on February 25, 1852. Jenny's mother, Eliza Watson, was born in Frankfurt, Kentucky, on March 6, 1838. Grandpa Pigg's father was John Henry Pigg and Grandma Pigg's father was John Watson. A short time before Eliza died they moved to Hatfield, Missouri, by covered wagon. After her mother died in 1886 in Hatfield, Jenny and her father moved to Kansas. Jenny was born in Bobtown. Kentucky, on September 17, 1874, and was only 13 years old when her mother died. Jenny died on January 20, 1972, in Durant, Oklahoma. Bob and the children went to see her in Durant while she was in the nursing home but we were not notified of her death until after' the funeral. Bea's half-sister Addie, lived close to Durant, and was caring for her mother when she died.
Farice said that Grandma Jenny had told her about walking to school through the woods with the snow eight feet high and crusted over with ice. If she had fallen in someplace she would not have been found until spring thaw. What a terrible thing that would have been. But she didn't and later her daughter, Beatrice Linville was born in Richhill, Missouri, on July 19, 1900. She never married Bea's father but had another child, a son, Clarence, with him. Later she married a Mr. Birdsal and had three more children, Harry, Glen, and Addie.
When Addie was six weeks old her father came home drunk and was mean, a neighbor came in and said that he wouldn't put up with that kind of treatment so Grandpa Pigg called in the sheriff who arrested Birdsal and took him to jail. Birdsal threatened to kill them all so Jenny and her father took the children, got in the wagon, after the lawman advised them to leave the country, and they went to Okay, Oklahoma, with the five children and never saw Birdsal again, No wonder Jenny was bitter, she had bad experiences with men.
Bea and Clarence's father was Willard Christian Linville. Willard was born in Bethany, Missouri, on June 6, 1887. His Father was John Asher Linville. It was during the depression in the thirties when Bea got well and started to work. Jobs were not easy to get, especially for a little lady with four children, She was an excellent seamstress and worked for a time with the WPA, an agency with the government, which provided a lot of people with work at the time. She worked at a lot of different jobs trying to have the best she could for herself and her children. Bob remembers in the winter time when there was snow too deep for the streetcar to run so she walked the ten miles to work. Usually the tracks were clear by evening so she could ride back home.
It was a hard time for them but Bob never knew how poor they were until he was almost grown and he heard a case-worker describe the families who were so poor and they fit the case. It was just a way of life for him and most of the neighbors were in the same boat. Bob's grandmother helped some but she had had a hard life and it left its mark on her. Bob said she was mean old lady. But she loved him and she took care of him while his mother worked. Grandma swore a lot and would cuss out some member of the family and say "Ain't that right, Bob?" He would say, "Yes, Grandma" He didn't dare say otherwise. Bob's sister, Farice, said he would stay with Grandma all week when he was three years old and she would teach him a lot of undesirable words; he would come home for the weekend and get spanked for saying them; go back again to Grandma's and learn them all over again. Farice said that they didn't realize what torture be was going through. Sometimes he was given a strong dose of a laxative and that was worse than a spanking. Before he went to school Bob began to stay at home alone with a neighbor watching him while his mother worked. He remembers how lonely he was. He would play with his little cars and make the loneliest sounds he knew. He played with his little cars out in his yard while the rest of the family was gone. Everyone in the family thought he was like his dad and would never amount to any good so they concentrated on his brother, Richard. He was 'Very young when he overheard them talking and right then decided he would be someone. He was certainly not going to be an alcoholic. That's another story. I don't know if one is born to be an alcoholic but that is the general thought so it is better to not ever take a drink then it will not affect you. Don't take a chance, especially, if one has ancestors who were drinkers, and who doesn't? Farice was only four years older than Bob but she had the responsibility of caring for him when their mother was gone It was not an easy job as he a was a wanderer and would go with his friends to the fields and also follow Richard and his older friends to the river every chance he got. He would roam around the country with his slingshot and dog and come home with a rabbit or a squirrel and that was usually the only meat they had to eat. Farice would get into trouble for not knowing where he was. I credit Farice for keeping Bob on the right path many times.
After we were married, we went to Grandma Birdsal' s house along with Farice, Granny Bea, and Bob's sister, Frances, and her husband, Jack. Jack bought a big bunch of steak and Grandma cooked it We had not had steak like that in a long time as it was right after World War Two and meat was scarce for us poor people. That's when Farice ate and ate. She said her stomach got full but her mouth never did. Grandma had calmed down by that time and was not a "mean old lady" anymore. Grandma Birdsal was part Indian but she was ashamed of it and never told the grandchildren. Farice knew it and told Bob that Grandma's mother-or grandmother was Sioux. So all of you have a little Indian but we are mostly Irish from both sides and a little French and Scottish and English and what else we don't know. We are actually world citizens.
Recently, Bob and I were in the Sand Springs, Oklahoma, area and we drove by the favorite place that Bob lived in when he was a small child. This was a place called Bruner Hill. It was between Sand Springs and Tulsa. The old house they lived in was gone and a new one put up in its place but the place was the same otherwise. Bob was around seven years old when he lived there and that's where he was always roaming around the countryside with his friend. There was a large ranch nearby and he and his friend, Jim Faabush, were hired by the men who worked there to ride the Shetland ponies and break them in. He said he could still remember how hard the ground was when they hit after being bucked off those ponies. They finally got smart and rode them on the plowed ground where it wasn't so hard when they landed. They made a little bit of money and they had a great time. They would even roam around at night and then catch the horses and ride them when the moon was full and they could see. They were never afraid of the dark, didn't have anything to be afraid of. I think that Bob was the happiest at that place as he had his good friend, run, and they could get into trouble together.
While he was young Bob had pneumonia three times and had to learn how to walk after each spell of sickness. At two years old he was very sick and the doctor told his mother that they would know about midnight if he was going to make it through that sick spell and sure enough about midnight he began to feel better He had a lot of sickness when he was young but managed to get well with the help and support of the family.
Once, he and a friend who was also four years old, painted themselves and had to be scrubbed down with kerosene. That was probably not a pleasant experience. It could have burned.
The landlord of one place where they lived gave them a cow so they could have milk for the children. Some big boys dared Bob to cut the cow's nose off so he got a kitchen knife and tried it, but the old cow didn't like it so she butted him and knocked the breath out of him. Farice was watching out the window and saw it all, so she made him go to bed until their mother got home in case something bad had happened to him. She, of course, bathed him in cold water, as that is what she always did when he got hurt.
Once they lived in a two-room log cabin and because it was so hot they put their beds outside. Bob could reach a limb by standing on his bed so he swung on it. It broke, and he ended up falling down the hill after a limb stabbed him in the arm. He went back to bed after getting washed with cold water. They wrapped a clean cloth around the stab wound and poured kerosene over it. We all used a lot of kerosene as medicine those days and it worked. We didn't die. Remember that we didn't have antibiotics yet.
When he was about three years old they lived across the road from the Laurence family who had 12 or 15 children so he had plenty of playmates then. Bob told me that his brother and sisters told him to take the blame for things that they had done because their mother wouldn't spank him as hard as she did them so he did. He took a lot of spankings for them but he never regretted it. He always loved them very much and they loved him.
One place where they lived had oily water so they had to carry water for drinking, cooking and washing. It was so hot that they cooked and ate outside under the shade of a tree. Bea always made them wash their hands before they ate but Bob picked his nose and had to go back again and wash He only washed that one finger. He was a case when a kid and still is.
When they went to a country school out from Manford, Oklahoma, Bob flipped pencils so the teacher would put him under her desk and he would, unknown to her for a while, entertain the class. He got caught so she put him in the corner not facing the class. She was a lovely person the kids would never forget. She had a 1936 Ford coupe and would drive by and pick up the kids who had to walk so far and also share her lunch with those who had none. Bob and his brother and sisters were on her way to school so she would take them to school lots of times. No buses were available then. Farice told me that Bob was small so she would try to protect him from the wind by letting him walk behind her on the way to school. It can get very cold in Oklahoma during the winter.
Even though life was hard, especially compared to life now, Bob enjoyed his life. When he was three years old he liked to tell stories to the older boys who would march by after the story and spit in his pocket for pay. He didn't really care because he liked the attention but his mother probably didn't like it if she knew.
He had memorized the first grade reader before he went to school from listening to his older brother and sisters doing their homework. When he went into the first grade himself he was bored so caused trouble. His teacher failed him. He thought it was so dumb that the teacher told the answers to the arithmetic problems when he already knew them. I guess she never knew be could do the work and knew how to add. etc. Anyway, he went to a new school the next year and got along fine. He feels now that a teacher should recognize a child's ability and move him on. I hope so. I know that we have some very intelligent grandchildren I pray that they use that brainpower in the right way. While Bob was in the fifth grade he took a test along with some other students and made such a good grade that he was moved up to the seventh grade. No one else was promoted. He was an expert marble shooter and swimming was always one thing he excelled in. At one school swimming meet he was the only one in his class to show up to compete. He won all but one event and should have won that one, but didn't know the boy swimming against him could swim very well, as at the first of school he couldn't swim at all. Bob just lolled around and lost the match. Just goes to show no one should take it easy, expecting to win, like the hare in the story with the tortoise.
Bob always thought he could do anything that his older brother Richard could do, so he followed him and his buddies around. They would go to the river or to a lake to cool off in the summer so Bob would go too He would wait until they were out in the river or lake then he would jump in and scare Richard who would swim back to rescue him. It was so hot sometimes that after they walked home from the lake they would be sweating and there was nothing else to do but walk back to the lake and swim some more. And it was a long ways to the lake.
They would go to the Arkansas River to swim as they lived close. Bob would follow Richard and jump in although Richard would tell him to not try to swim across the river like they were doing. Once the older boys were swinging off a limb of an old tree that bad been carried out to the middle of the river. Bob swam out and caught on a limb that was broken and down he went . Bob was so scared that he felt like he walked on the water. He swam so fast to get to the bank. Richard was also scared but the current carried him downstream so he couldn't have helped Bob anyway. Bob said that the river was high and the current was strong.
When Bob was five and Richard was ten they were out messing around and came upon a watermelon patch that they knew about. They wanted some melon so decided to help themselves to the man's watermelons. Those melons were nice so they ate quite a bit. They hadn't gone far when it hit them. They went to the bushes and back to walking home and directly back to the bushes. They had diarrhea badly! Back and forth so finally they just took off their pants and walked along towards home with their little butts sticking out. Good thing they were young and no one was around. The owner of the melons had put some croken oil in the melons, which would give anyone the runs and they just happened to. be the first little thieves to help themselves.
Bob's sister, Frances, was a great tree climber. He would follow her up the tree but he had a problem. He couldn't get back down so someone would have to rescue him. That never seemed to stop him.
Bob was a trader. Once he traded for a goat with two kids. They lived in the house on Bruner Hill which had an upstairs and a large window downstairs. There was a hill looking right into that window. One of the kids was up on that hill, saw itself in the window and thinking it was another goat, it ran down the hill and right through the window into the kitchen. Later the two little goats got upstairs and the boys heard a noise from them jumping up and down on the beds. Richard hollered at them and they jumped out the window. Another window to replace!
They had lived on eighth street before they moved to Bruner Hill and had lots of friends there. When it rained a lot and the river flooded those friends came to their house and stayed as it was up high and the water did not get up in it. they had pallets (quilts and blankets laid out on the floor) all over the house. Bea couldn't afford to feed them all so they all pitched in to get food.
Bea always tried to have a garden which helped to feed the family their vegetables. Once when Bob was helping her plant beans she left him to go make supper. He was so tired that he planted them all in one place and when they all came up together he got a spanking and had to go transplant them. He said they did produce and they had beans to eat. Bob always marvels how his mother struggled to raise those four children. At one place they had an early garden out and everything was up and green when she heard over the radio that there was going to be a freeze that night. There were some trees that had been chopped down close by so she got the boys to drag them up to the north side of the garden and set them on fire so that they smoldered and the wind blew smoke over the garden and it never froze. They had the only garden around that survived.
Bob was about ten and Farice was fourteen when they lived in a place that bad a lower yard and a higher yard. A garden was planted on both parts. Bea had to go to work so she told Farice that if the river broke the dock and flooded the garden that she and Frances should pick the beets and throw them up on the higher ground. So Farice and Frances pulled the beets up and the water got up to their waists before they left the lower garden, but they had pulled a lot of beets and they ate them later.
Sometimes Bea would send Bob out to get a switch when she thought he needed a spanking. He brought in a tiny stick once and she sent him back for a bigger one. He brought in a great big one but he padded his pants and it didn't hurt much. One time while he was staying with his grandmother he bad taken a laxative and the bathroom was a path and an outhouse. He would run out to it and couldn't reach the latch to get the door open so got his pants soiled. Grandma would spank him for that as she couldn't hear well so never knew that he was calling her to open the door for him. That was torture.
When he was a little older, he and Richard would go into town on Saturday night and sell newspapers on the comer. He remembers some men buying papers and telling him he was the ugliest kid they had ever seen. Bob was a happy-go-lucky boy so he never reacted much to these remarks but I'm sure they had an effect. Maybe he just learned from them. He would never do that to another boy or girl Although he now asks the girls why they are so pretty and the boys are so ugly. That doesn't seem to bother the girls at all.
When he was about seven years old at Bruner Hill, he was out in the rain after milking a cow for a friend of his mother's and caught pneumonia again. He was just getting better when his mother came to ask him if he wanted something. He reached up and slapped her face. He always said he was out of his head and that's what saved him. I think he must have been as I always knew him to love his mother very much and take care of her as best he could. That's one thing that attracted me to him because he was always kind to her. Once before we married he took us both shopping and he made sure his mother had money and I thought if he was good to her he would be good to me and it was true.
Like all boys, he liked to tease his sisters, especially about boys. Farice got mad at him for that and threw a bar of old P and G soap at him, missed him and broke the window. They were very poor but managed to scrape up enough money to buy a new window Farice got in trouble for that one, It was the same window that the goat broke later.
When Farice was eight and later when she was fifteen her legs were paralyzed She had to learn to walk over again each time. Bob worked at mowing a lawn for ten cents and brought a Pepsi home for her. It cost five cents. The doctor told her mother that Farice would be crippled from her paralysis when she was eight but Farice heard him and she was determined she would walk, dance, skate and do what the other girls did and she did. When she was older a chiropractor-told her that her determination is what sustained and helped her to walk Bob remembers his mother carrying him when he was so big his legs. would drag the ground because they hurt so much. He said he always had bad dreams about being in the street and a car was coming and he couldn't move. We thought it was the arthritis bothering him at that early age although he never came down with rheumatoid arthritis until he was in his forties.
He was about six years old when his mother was out of work and a friend told her about a farmer who needed some help. The farm was a few miles from Locust Grove, Oklahoma, a town about fifty mile from Tulsa. She got a ride for herself and the children to Locust Grove and they started walking to the farm. A farmer came along and gave them a ride in his wagon that was pulled by a couple mules. When they got to the farm they had to put one mule in back to hold the wagon back as the hill down to the farm was so Steep. The farmer was raising tomatoes and needed someone to help water and cultivate them He had nine children one of which was a newborn. The house was so small they had to make beds outside. Bob's bed had been used for a bathroom by one child who was mentally handicapped so they had to clean it up before he could go to bed, but he remembers how beautiful the sky was when he looked up from his bed.
The creek on the place was dried up so they carried water from several wells to water the plants. There wasn't much to eat so Richard, his mother, and the farmer walked into town, about nine miles, to get some commodities (relief food) from the government.. Many people were saved from starving in those days by the government and some are still getting by this way. Food stamps did not exist then, but the food was there. Something happened before the harvest of the tomatoes and they left the farm without their belongings. Farice said that they did not have enough to eat so they had to leave.
They walked into town and got a ride to Claremore. Bea wanted to go to her brother Glen's home so she asked a man near by which was the road to Tulsa. He told her she couldn't go that night with four little children and told her to go talk to the policeman who was close by. She did and he told her she couldn't go into town as it was too late so he fed them and put them up in a hotel for the night, then he fed them breakfast the next morning. They walked to a gas station and while Bea and the girls were in the rest room the boys got them a ride in a pick-up truck and he took them right to Uncle Glen's door. While they were at the farm the farmer had taken a truck and brought Bea's furniture and belongings back to the farm. He had nothing in the house except a long board table and some straw mats for beds. Bea had a new sewing machine she was making payments on so Uncle Glen took them back to get their things but the farmer was away and his wife would not let them have Bea's things. Bea made the mistake of telling her she was going to get the police so when Bea returned with the policeman the wife was gone and she still couldn't get her things because an adult had to be there.
Uncle Glen's baby got sick and died so it was a while before they went back and the farmer and his family were all gone. They took all of Bea's belongings with them including her pictures. Bob never saw a picture of his father after he was old enough to remember him. The family told him to just look in the mirror and he would see his father. So they all lived with Uncle Glen including Grandma Jenny. Finally they moved to a duplex and Bea went to work in a WPA sewing room. She had no food so cooked a flour and water bread for them. She walked from West Tulsa to Sand Springs in the winter and nearly froze her feet so her fellow workers took up a collection for her to ride the streetcar. Then they moved to a small house and bought furniture for twenty five dollars. The house and the furniture were so dirty it took days to get it cleaned. The former residents had buried trash and stuff (cans) in the yard. The city found out about it and ordered them to clean up the yard. It took seven loads to carry it away. They had to pay a neighbor, Bill Horshfill, a dollar a load to haul it off and they couldn't really afford that. Another place they moved into was dirty and smelled so bad that they tore off the wall paper. Underneath were seven layers and under it all were dead mice, filth, and mouse droppings. Then they scrubbed it and found large cracks in the walls, so when it got cold they bought boxes from the box factory and tacked them up on the walls. Then they got brown paper to cover the boxes and finally had a decent place to live . While he was six years old they moved to Manford and that is where he chopped cotton and decided he would never do that again. The man they lived with popped a whip at him and cut a gash in his leg. They had bought a straw hat for Bob to wear and it blew off his head. He reached for it with his hoe and cut a bole in it and that is why the man who was on horseback popped him with the whip Bob said that he thought be never meant to hit him, just scare him, but nevertheless. he never again chopped cotton. The memory was too great and he never liked chopping cotton anyway. That's where they went to a one-room schoolhouse And where the teacher was so kind to them. He said that there was a twenty year old boy in the eighth grade and a sixteen year old in the second grade because they had never had the chance to go to school when they were younger. While they lived there they had eggs for breakfast and lunch and cornbread and milk for their night meal. For a long time after that he couldn't stand to eat eggs but be still loves cornbread and milk. When they left they started walking as a family towards Sand Springs and even though told not to, Frances and Bob held out their thumbs for a ride and got one. That became a mode of transportation for Bob as he grew older and went around the country working.
My parents had married during the first World War and soon after Dad had to go into the army. He never had to go overseas to fight the war as he got the terrible flu that so many people had during that time. It killed many people but Dad came through it. He was in the army hospital in Denver, Colorado and the army was to send a telegram to Mother every day as he was in a coma for a long time. They didn't do it so she got the Red Cross to find him. After he got over that flu he was an orderly in the hospital and there is where he got tuberculosis. He suffered from bad lungs the rest of his life. At that time no one knew what a terrible effect smoking would have on a person so like Bob my dad started smoking at a very young age. When he was well enough be was given a medical discharge from the army. He received a small pension from the government for the rest of his life. It wasn't much and sometimes he wasn't able to work so we were always poor but we always managed to have all the necessities of life.
I had one sister and four brothers. One of my brothers died before I was born, but the rest of us grew up to be good friends. And we still are. My oldest brother passed away at the age of forty-two in 1960 just before Roy was born. It was a very hard time for me as we were always very close. But he had come to me in a dream and was walking without his crutches and was very happy so when Bob told me that he had passed I knew it already. Arthur had had an accident on the way to work and was in a coma for a few days.
My grandparents, along with my aunt, uncle and Dad bought property in Northwest Oklahoma City in the last block of the city limits. The property was a block long and before I was born my dad built a small house on the property and on April 5, 1927, I was born in that house. I had two older brothers, Clifford, who was three years older and Arthur, who was nine years older. The brother who died would have been seven years older. They were all excited to have a sister, especially my dad, who told Mother he would never love another girl like he loved me. Five years later when Mary was born she reminded him of what he had said and of course he had forgotten and he did love her as much. I also had a brother two years younger than I. Our patents loved us all the same and we knew it.
When I was born my mother's mother lived with us and since I was born with red hair everyone who came in would exclaim, "Oh, she has red hair". Grandma got upset about that so she said, "the next person that says that I'm going to slap his face". She came from a long line of red haired Irishmen and they were an ornery lot, according to my dad. My uncle; Mother' s brother, was red haired and an ornery one; but I always loved him.
My dad worked as a substitute mail carrier for five different mail routes. My uncle. Dad's brother, had one of them. Dad and Uncle Walter looked so much alike that when Dad carried the mail on Uncle Walter's route the people didn't know which one he was.
I used to wonder why Dad never got a route of his own but decided that he couldn't pass the physical with his bad lungs.
Uncle Walter and his wife, Aunt Birtie, lived in the southwest part of town and were a little better off then we were, economically. They would come to our grandparents and we would go down and play with them. Recently, my brother, Jack, said that he always thought they thought they were better than we were, Mary thought the same. I never noticed or even thought about that. They had three children. Eula Mae was six months younger than me, Allen was about the same age as Jack, and Ted was almost the same age as Mary. We always had a good time playing together. Once Eula Mae was having a birthday party and I couldn't afford a new pair of slippers that I wanted so Mother took an old pair of shoes, cut them out like slippers, polished them beautifully and I had a new pair of shoes. I was happy
Dad had one brother, Uncle Walter, and one sister, Aunt Emma, who had never married and had lived with Grandma and Grandpa most of her life. She came up from the farm and went to work for The National Biscuit Company. Later Grandma and Grandpa along with their children bought the land and moved to the city. The house is still there but was sold after Aunt Emma died. They have bricked that house and it is the best looking house on the block. Clifford and I were wondering why we didn't buy that house ourselves but I guess we didn't think of it at that time.
Aunt Emma had a boy friend when she was young who wanted to marry her, but he drank and she wouldn't marry him. After his wife died when he was in his sixties he wrote her and wanted to come to see her but she wouldn't let him. She said that she didn't want him to see her looking old. I told her that he was also old but she said no.
She lived there alone for many years after her parents died then after having her roof fixed a man cam by and told her she had some money to be returned to her and asked if she had a check he could use. She ended up writing the check for 2000 dollars and signing it for him. He cashed it as soon possible so she lost it. Uncle Walter took her home with him but they were also in poor health so she went into a nursing home. They were good to her there but she had lived alone so long that she had illusions of them peeking at her and taking pictures of her in the bathtub. Mother told me to just get her talking about another subject when she started talking about that so I did. I would go see her often and when she wanted her hair cut and permed, which she had never had, I did that and she was so pleased. I loved her very much.
After our Grandpa died my oldest brother, Arthur, would stay at night with Grandma and Aunt Emma. When I was ten years old Arthur eloped with his girl friend, Evis, and I was devastated. I thought the world had ended. I didn't realize until later that I had just gained a sister. Clifford began to stay with Aunt Emma and when I was a little older I stayed with her. After Grandma died I always slept with Aunt Emma and she would complain because I wiggled my toes at night. Now I don't.
When I was young my dad worked as a carpenter for a Mr. Bowles. After his wife died he moved a block away from us and my girlfriend, Berta, and I would go clean his house. He played a mandolin and sang to us. He would take us for rides in his old model-A Ford and in the wintertime he bad a sleigh to take us out in. On his 75th birthday, my mother baked a three-layer cake and put 75 candles on it and he blew them all out in three puffs. After my children were born I would sing we Peek-a-boo Waltz and the song about the bum which he used to sing to us. Now I hear that my children sang it and I also sang to my grandchildren so it is true that what one learns in their early childhood goes on with them.
I don't remember ever not having enough to eat We always had a big garden and my mother would can everything she could get her hands on. She even knew the wild greens that were good to eat and we would gather them and she would mix them with the greens she grew. She grew collards, turnips, spinach, and mustard and some I don't remember. She would can them and we had greens all winter. One day, my friend, Berta, asked Mother to show her those weeds as her mother didn't know them and Berta loved to eat them.
The Greenhaws lived just a block away from us on 16th street. Berta is six months younger than I am and I don't ever remember not knowing her, They had children about the same ages as we were but there was a younger girl who was spoiled rotten and gave Mary a lot of trouble wanting her dolls. Of course, Mary was also spoiled rotten. But we were always friends with the Greenhaws and still are.
We had to work in the garden, hoeing, picking and what ever had to be done. But we didn't mind most of the time My job was to wash the jars in a big wash tub in the back yard. My hands were small and I could get them inside the jars and was old enough to get them clean. If anyone came to play they either bad to help work or go home until we were through working. They would usually help. We made it fun. Mother had bought the first pressure cooker in the neighborhood and as the neighbors were afraid of the cooker and probably never had one anyway, they would get Mother to can their vegetables and give her a share of them. She would also can our meat when they butchered a pig or calf. In those days we never had freezer's, in fact, we never had a refrigerator until after we moved to Arkansas, when I was 18 years old. I remember the best sausage I ever ate was what Mother canned. She would roll it into a ball, season it, and fry it then put it in a jar and pour lard over it. It was not so good for us but we didn't know about fat and cholesterol then We had a cow, chickens, and raised a pig and a calf to butcher. Dad had a team of mules he named Beck and Colie. He plowed for us and for the neighbors.
After we moved to the farm in Arkansas Dad bought a mule that bad been treated badly by its owner. He was warned by the neighbors about Old Pete but Dad took such good care of Pete that we kids used to hook him up to the sled with the sprayer and go spray the apple trees.The people around us could hardly believe it was the same mule. Proved to us if you treat an animal and probably humans kindly they respond the same way.
Later we learned that Abdu'l-Baha said the same thing, except he said the wolf would not respond in a kind way.
There was a path between our house and our grandparents and it was well used. No grass ever grew there. My parents had both worked with Aunt Emma at the National Biscuit Company for a while Aunt Emma worked there until she retired. Mother would go down to look after Grandma several times a day while Aunt Emma was at work. One time there were a bunch of kids at our house and we were sitting in a circle playing games. Mother told us not to leave the yard while she was gone, so we chose a couple to run over to the Goolo's cherry orchard and steal some cherries. One of us went into the house and stole some cigarettes from Clifford's dresser drawer so we had cherries and cigarettes while Mother was gone. When we saw her coming back we hid them under our laps and thought she never knew but she probably knew something was up. She usually did. We thought she had eyes in the back of her head.
Once Arthur and his friend found some cigars and hid in the corn field to smoke them. Clifford was with them and when he came to the house Mother said, ''You have been out smoking". When he asked her how she knew, she said," I can see it in your eyes." So, he told her all! He told Arthur she could see it in his eyes and Arthur told him, "You nut, she smelted it on your breath".
Anytime that Clifford wanted something Mother would say, "We'll see about it." Then he would forget that and next time she would tell him the same thing. He was a big boy before he got wise. Mary was always told she would get it when Mother's ship came in and until she was really big she thought we had a ship coming in with lots of money.
There was a big old barn between our house and our Grandparents. After she got older Mary would go down to Aunt Emma's and sometimes she would stay until it got dark and she was afraid to come home alone so Mother would send Jack after her. When they got to the barn Jack would tell her that there was something up in the loft or someone in there and they were going to get them. Then he would speed of and tell her that she couldn't walk as fast as he could. She would start yelling and screaming and crying and he would tell her to shut up. In season there was always corn growing tall next to the barn and when the wind blows through corn it makes a rustling noise like there is someone in it. Of course, Jack would act like there was someone there and she would yell some more and run home. Then Mother would ask Jack what he had done. Sometimes I would go after her and then she got home without being scared to death.
I used to take Mary to the movies and if it was a movie a sad or scary part she would always hide her head in my lap and keep saying, "Is it over?" She couldn't stand to see sad parts and still cries if there is something sad on TV or in the movies. Only now I'm not there most of the time to shield her from them! Now, I have a daughter, Ruth, who is the same way. When Ruth was five we were staying with my parents while Bob went to Columbia, South America, to work. The "Wizard of OZ' was showing on TV and Ruth, although she was sick, wanted to go watch it. I told her she could as long as she didn't cry but she started crying about something and had to go back to bed.
As a teenager I would go down to Aunt Emma's before I went someplace and ask her how I looked. She would always say, "If you act as good as you look you'll be okay,". Then she would ask me if needed any money. Sometimes I would and she would give it to me. I grew up very fortunate because of the love and care in our home. I loved Aunt Emma and she Ioved me. Mother told me once that it was a good thing that I never wanted the moon because my dad and brothers would try to get it for me. But I never wanted that much.
My parents would go once a month, on payday, to a store in downtown Oklahoma City . It was Freeman-Langston. They could buy groceries a lot cheaper there than in the stores around us. We knew that on that day we would have bologna sandwiches and that was a treat.
Mother made most of our bread and it was delicious. Donald Gene Shaw, a little boy three years younger than me, lived across the alley from us. Both our houses were back off the street and close to the alley. Donald started coming to our house before he could walk. He would crawl over and sit on the back porch until someone saw him and let him in. His mother didn't mind because his father drank and sometimes there would be a fight and she wanted Donald over at our house. When he was older he would come over, sneak a bun out of the pressure cooker under the kitchen sink, sit under the table and eat it. We all knew he was there but we would ignore him and he thought he was hidden. He bad beautiful curly hair and Berta and I would make him sit still so we could comb it. When Donald was in elementary school he decided he wanted to see what it was like to skip school so he sat under the little bridge across the creek on the road to school that was about three blocks from our houses. When he heard the kids go over the bridge going home for lunch he too his lunch out and ate. Then when he heard them going home he came out and went home. He said that was no fun and he didn't want to do it again.
Clifford remembers when Mother would cook a big pot of beans, make bread and a large dinner once a week and invite all the children in the neighborhood to eat and he said they did. She made a lot of raised doughnuts. She would put them on top of the oven to cool and I can still remember how good they smelled and tasted. She also made a lot of cinnamon rolls and I used to make them for my family and now Roy makes them once in & while.
My Grandpa Batson died when I was about five years old but I still remember him walking down the path to our house with his hands folded behind him. He loved my mother very much and thought she could do no wrong. She was the one who made us behave but never raised her voice to us. Dad would play with us then call out to Mother to make us do something. We had a little dog, named Midget, and she protected us. One day one of us did something naughty and Dad had a switch to spank with but all of us jumped on him including the dog so he threw it down and went into the house telling Mother he couldn't ever spank one of us for the rest would get him, including the dog. He didn't really want to.
Jack would tease me and sometimes get a spanking for it and I would cry louder then he did because I couldn't stand for him to be punished. I did have a terrible temper and the boys delighted in teasing me. I don't remember this but was told that Clifford made me mad once I threw a fork at him and it stuck in his forehead. Another time I threw a piece of bacon at my mother. I was very young then and since have learned to control my temper and not get mad, much. Jack also had a bad temper but it took a lot to make him mad. I was a teaser also and would tease him until he would get very mad but I never did it unless Clifford was around to hold him until he calmed down. He would grab Jack around from the back so he couldn't hit him or me. He told me not long ago that he should of let Jack get me once and I would have left him alone. Once he grabbed Jack the wrong way and got beat up so I wouldn't have blamed him if he had let me get hit. Sometimes Mary would get mad at me and try to choke me to death. She had such a terrible temper and frankly was spoiled but I probably deserved it anyway. She always got stopped in time.
Clifford told us about he and his friends going to the 'ole swimming hole' and taking off their clothes and leaving them at the edge of the water. Along came some people riding on horses. They reached down, picked up their clothes and rode off with them. Finally they brought them back but not until the boys were a little concerned.
When Clifford was in elementary school there was a boy in his class who was a spoiled kid and always picked on the other kids. One day the rest of the boys got tired of the way he acted and decided they would give him a lesson. They gathered out in the field away from the school and took turns, not everyone at once, and they beat him. The next day someone knocked on our door and when Mother answered it was this boy's mother. She was irate; of course, and started yelling. Mother asked her to come in and talked to her and when she left she invited Mother to come and see her. She had made a friend instead of an enemy. Grandpa was in the kitchen so could hear everything. He wasn't surprised at the way Mother handled it but he wasn't going to let that woman beat her up.
Grandpa would tell Jack 'if you can control yourself; you can control the-world." So Jack learned to control his temper. It would take a lot to make him angry now. Once when Bob and I were first married I saw Jack get really angry with a man who made a remark to his wife, Pauline. We were all walking down the street when the man came along and popped off something and Jack started after him but Bob stopped Jack and told him to let it go as the man was drunk and didn't know what he was saying. Jack calmed down.
When we were young we couldn't afford to take the paper but our grandparents had it so we would go down every Sunday morning to read the funnies. That was a fun time for all of us. Before Aunt Emma had the water put in the house she had an old pump on the well in the back yard. I don't know how many times we would stick our tongues on that pump in the winter time and we then had to hold it there until the ice on the pump melted and then we could pull it off. It became a regular game with us but I can't see the object of it now.
We all had outdoor toilets in our neighborhood and every Halloween the older boys would dump them over, Mr. Shaw, Donald's dad, got pretty upset about it but was really upset one year when they dumped it over while he was in it.
Besides the Greenhaws there were some other families who lived close and we were always together. On Halloween we would all go trick or treating and there would be a whole gang of us. One year we went out and Mother and Daddy were listening to the police reports on the radio. They heard a report about a gang of kids causing trouble not far from our neighborhood and they sure hoped it wasn't their kids and it wasn't. We had found a group of people who had been drinking at their party and one man decided to go around with us. He was dressed in a costume and we had a lot off fun with him. Everyone in the area knew him so they gave us extra treats. We always went home with big sack full of goodies. We didn't have to worry about razor blades or any poison in our candy in those days. One Halloween my brother, Clifford. shot his toe with a 22 rifle, they said he didn't know much about guns and I believe it. Since he couldn't go out to cause terror in the neighbor's hearts we decided to have a party and have all the kids come to am house. We played the usual games and settled on truth or consequences. Across the street from us lived a good friend, Mr Nissen. Mr. Nissen drank every day. His sister with two children lived with him and also his mother. Mother would look after his mother when everyone at their house was gone. He was the ideal man to play tricks on. The first person who had to take the consequence had to string a wire across the gate on the sidewalk that went up to his house from the street . The next one had to go honk the horn on the car in front of his house. They were to honk until he came out and then run away. Well, I don't remember that he ever came out but someone knocked on our front door and someone else said "That's Mr. Nissen". Kids were flying everywhere, under the beds, under the table, anywhere they could find a place to hide. Poor Clifford had to just sit there and sweat. He was screaming "Hide me, Mama," It turned out to be my brother, Arthur, just having a little fun. We have had a lot of laughs over that since we are older.
One day, my brother, Jack, and a friend, Ezra Mitchell, found a baseball glove together. They decided to divide the days each would get to use the glove. Each would get it every other day. One day I thought it was Jack's turn to have it and Ezra wouldn't let him have it so I went over to his house and standing outside of the fence, called Ezra out and bawled him out and said that he better let Jack have that glove right now, so he went into the house, got the glove and gave it to me. I took it over to Jack who said, "Today is not my day to have it" Boy, was I embarrassed. Ezra's grandmother was home that day and she later told my mother bow funny it was to see me, about half as big as Ezra, bawling him out and funnier, yet, to see him go get the glove and give it to me without saying a word. That's the way I was. If I thought something was unjust I would always open my mouth. It really got me into trouble sometimes but I nearly always had my big brother, Clifford, to take up for me. I remember once I opened my mouth at a big boy who slapped my face and poor Clifford had to take up for me. I have learned to be quiet most of the time, well, some of the time.
We bad a clothes line pole in our back yard and when I wanted to call to Berta to come over I would climb that pole and scream to her. They had a picket fence around their front yard so she would get up on it and scream back. There was an old lady who lived in between us and she would scold us for yelling but it never stopped us. We had no telephones so we had to yell. That old lady's name was Mrs. Beamenstaffer and one night she was at our house for dinner and we had a big plate of steak. The plate was passed to her first and she took a piece and Clifford yelled out, "I had dibs on that piece ". Dad was so embarrassed.
Mother always grew popcorn and peanuts, enough for the whole year so we ad roasted peanuts and popcorn and since we had milk and eggs and Mother loved ice cream we had ice cream all year, both summer and winter. We all love to eat them still. Now we have to look for those with low or no fat and low or no cholesterol. Not as good but better than nothing! Bob even eats popcorn with me even though he didn't when we first got married.
One Easter, my sister, Mary: found a baby chicken in her Easter Basket. It was a custom in those days to give colored baby chickens for Easter presents, but not for me. I have a phobia about feathers. When I was small crawling around on the floor, Mother had only to put a feather in the doorway and I would never pass it. She didn't realize at that time it would effect me the rest of my life. One day, years later, when we were living in Belize, my friend, Kay Harris, and I bad gone to help elect an assembly in a village and in the process we went to a house where there was a big friendly dog running around and a big mean turkey that guarded the house. I told Kay to stay between that turkey and me and she did; she was a good friend. Anyway back to the story of Mary and her chicken. It turned out to be a mean rooster that would attack anyone that came into the yard. So our parents decided they better kill it and eat it for dinner, but they were worried about hurting Mary. Then, she got mad at it and she said, "Let's eat that rooster." They never lost any time getting it on the table.
At one time we had a dog, a cat, and a bob-tailed squirrel for pets. Arthur found a beautiful white rabbit running around the field so he brought it home and they all played and slept together in a box.
Mother was the disciplinarian but one day I kept running off to the neighbors and she couldn't get me to stay home so she sent Daddy after me. I don't remember it as I was so young but Mother told me that he pulled a weed and spanked my legs with it so I never ran off again. I don't remember ever being hit by either of them, not that I didn't need it, but I never liked to make either of them unhappy.
When I was in high school a group of friends and I decided to skip school and go to a concert by a popular country singer. I couldn't tell a lie about it as I was taught to never lie, both in Sunday School and at home. For sure I believed that I would go to hell if I lied. I think, maybe every child needs to understand that and become afraid to tell a lie. I think we should all have that fear of God so that we will obey His laws. Mother had a unique way of teaching us a lesson. One day Mary learned that lesson. Mother had taken a bath and forgotten to get a towel so she called out to Mary to hand her one. Mary just called back and said, "There's no one here, you can get it" Mother never said a word, just got the towel. Some time later Mary's boy friend, Zeddie, had come over and she was in the shower and guess what, no towel so she called out to Mother to get her one. Mother told her she could get it herself and instantly Mary knew why she said that. That was her way of showing us how it felt. We all had lots of love for each other.
Arthur and Evis lived with us sometimes and later when they bad two girls moved to Wichita, Kansas, where he worked at an airplane plant. They would come to see us at least once every two months. Our neighbor, at the time, who was renting the Shaw's house, was an only child, her husband was an only child, and they had one child. When she saw Arthur's car at our house she would come over because she thought it was just like a party with us all together.
When I was small, Mother's brother and family lived in Oklahoma City close to the river. Every time the river flooded they came to our house. Their seven children and our five slept all over the floor. Once when they were there the two boys about my age got into a fight and Uncle Walter grabbed them by the seat of their pants and kicked their butts out the door. He told them if they wanted to fight they had to do it outside. I thought that was the funniest thing as I had never seen anything like it before or since. Mary always worried about where everyone would sleep when we had someone at our house. Mother told her many times that the first ones to go to sleep would be hung on a nail so the rest would have a bed. Mary never wanted to go to sleep first so she would stay awake as long as she could. She soon learned that Mother was joking. Uncle Walter bootlegged whiskey when he was young and once Dad drank with him and got drunk. Daddy always said that Uncle Walter was a rascal but that time Dad was too. Dad came home and Mother put him to bed. She had never been close to anyone drunk and she was a little afraid but she never let Dad know it. She laughed for years about Dad looking down at the foot of the bed and seeing his own feet would call out, "Whose feet are those?"
As I said we were poor, and my parents struggled for everything. My parents were both honest and their integrity was above reproach. Once Mother had sent Clifford to the store and he came back with a dollar too much change. She sent him back to the store and when he told the owner that he bad given him the wrong change, he told Clifford that it was too late and that he couldn't give him more. Clifford told him that he didn't want more but that he had given him a dollar too much and his mother sent it back. He apologized and from then on what ever our Mother said that is what he accepted as the truth. He knew that she was not out to cheat him.
I had two cousins who were about ten years older than me and they stayed with us part of the time. Menan was the son of one of Mother's sisters, Aunt Zella, and Phillip was the son of another one, Aunt Etta. They looked on my dad as their dad and never allowed anyone to say anything bad to him or about him. Neither of them had known their father as they both had died when the boys were very young. Once Clifford called Dad the old man and Menan told him to never say that again and I guess he hasn't. They were like brothers to me, especially Menan: who lived with us even after he was married. He went to California with us and came back to Oklahoma City when we did and then bought a farm in Arkansas right next to the one we bought. He had a bad heart and died when his children were small. My mother loved to work. She sewed, crocheted, did any kind of craft work she could find the materials for, cleaned the house, and at one time took in washings from neighbors to pay for her new washing machine. It was a Maytag ringer type as we didn't have automatics in those days, at least poor people didn't. Mother said that sometimes she would wake up before daylight wishing it would hurry to sun up so she could get up and do some work she wanted to get done. She would sit up at night and work on her sewing after Dad went to bed. She needed very little sleep and he needed a lot. A short time before she passed away she said she was lazy because she would stay in bed until eight o'clock. She would get very tired because Dad was bedfast and she did everything for him. I have been known to stay in bed until 10:00 am and I'm not lazy. I sometimes have trouble going to sleep before morning now that I have gotten older so I have to sleep until late. Sometimes Dad would sit up late reading a book. He loved to read Zane Grey's western stories.
My mother never comp