Saturday, December 31, 2011

Chapter 59 Company Man

Presiding over company retirement and anniversary dinners was a duty I did not mind at all. It was a pleasure to celebrate these special events with our employees. Sometimes, however, it put a strain on the schedule. clip_image001One time I had done this at Hallettsville, a town that is half way between San Antonio and Houston. After all the celebration, I started home at about 11 PM. It was about 140 miles to home and I had the Commercial District manager with me. Bill Nix and I were both sleepy and the deal was he would keep me awake and talk a lot. About 1 AM we cut off the pavement at Pearsall, Texas and started down a country gravel road to Batesville and Uvalde.

Well, Bill was sound asleep and snoring with his head back and mouth wide open. There was a lot of noise, but he was definitely not talking to me. We had not seen a single car for almost an hour. I was having a real tough time staying awake, holding my head out the window and slapping my face as Bill continued to snore louder and louder. I finally had enough. I reached back to my high school days when we would try to swap ends in our Model A on the gravel parking lot. I stood on the brake and threw the car into a sideways slide on the gravel with my horn blaring without letup. Bill came up with both arms flaying the air and gasping, “what, where, what’s happening?” I said that I had to dodge a deer and he needed to help me watch the road. The rest of the way into Uvalde, Bill sat over there looking like a big owl sitting in a tree with both eyes wide open and chattering like a magpie.

clip_image001[5]Union grievances and problems at the offices around the district had pretty well subsided about this tine but a few would flare up from time to time. One was an on-going problem in the operating room at Eagle Pass. The operators kept insisting the plant man was deliberately setting the thermostat in the operating room so they would suffer from the heat or the cold. He had a lock and a cover over the thermostat so no one could change it. I had made several trips to Eagle Pass to discuss this problem with the plant stewards and the local union rep but it persisted. Then the complaints just completely stopped.

The next trip to Eagle Pass I inquired of the union rep about the problem and she informed me that, at her insistence, the Plant man unlocked the thermostat and took the protective case off so they could adjust the thermostat to whatever was comfortable for the operators. I made a point to find the plant man and thank him for solving this big problem. He winked at me and motioned me to come with him. We went behind the switchboard and he uncovered a panel and there was a new thermostat. He said, “This one is wired up and working, I cut the wires to the one in the operating room.” Problem solved!!

Photo of Hallettsville road found here.

Photo of telephone operators found here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Chapter 58 Rocky Mountain High

In 1954 we decided to take a little vacation and go to Colorado to cool off and see Charlotte’s brother and his family in Denver. Charlotte had to call a locksmith to make a key for the house. We had lived there for several years without locking the house when we left. We never took our keys out of the car when we went to the store or down town. I would park at my office and leave the keys in the car all day. No cars were ever stolen and no house was burglarized. Times have changed haven’t they?

We had a 1953 Pontiac sedan and, of course, no air conditioning. I had bought the best thing available at that time and it was a window cooler. It was a round cylinder contraption that fit in the window of the car. The cylinder had excelsior inside and a reservoir of water. When you pulled on the rope, it would rotate the cylinder through the water at the bottom of the tank. The front of the cooler was open so when you drove down the road the hot air would enter the front, pass through the wet excelsior, and emerge a little cooler as it entered the car.

We were to leave that morning at 7 AM and as usual we did not make the EDT. At about ten that morning we were finally ready to leave. I had packed half the house in the car and Charlotte was worried about her two babies, as it clip_image001[5]was hot and so was I. When we had gotten out on the highway and had enough wind to let the cooler work I explained to Charlotte how the cooler worked. I told her to pull on the cord and the cool air would start to come through. She tentatively pulled on the cord and nothing happened because she was not pulling hard enough to rotate the cylinder. I told her-several times-that she had to pull harder.  She was holding 12 month old Tom with one hand and pulling the cord with the other. After giving increasingly expressive instructions to “pull harder”, I watched as she really gave it a jerk. Of course, it did rotate-but by pulling so hard it emptied the water reservoir on Charlotte and Tom. Tom was crying and Charlotte was wet and furious, and that was the way we started our vacation.

We spent the first night in Amarillo and early the next morning weclip_image001[9]stopped at the Canadian river to fix our breakfast. I got our Coleman stove out and Charlotte fixed us bacon and eggs there by the river. We drove on to Denver that day. After a nice visit we left for Mt Evans. Mt Evans had the highest automobile road in the country at that time, 14,560 feet, as I remember. The last four or five thousand feet was a narrow gravel road with no guardrail. The boys could look out the side window straight down for thousands of feet. When we met another car it would crowd us over to the edge and Charlotte and the boys were all ready to turn around but there was no way to do that. Then we met a big motor grader, it was on the side next to the mountain and we were on the cliff edge. The boys dropped to the floor in the back and Charlotte was beside herself. We barely squeezed by.

clip_image002Because of the altitude the car kept stalling. I would start it and race the engine and we would lurch ahead for a few hundred feet before it stalled again. About this time we came up behind two elderly ladies in their car that was barely moving before it stalled again and again. We finally got to the top, and it was quite a view as well as a relief that we had finally made it all the way up. On the way up I noticed the people coming down, over next to the mountain away from the edge, were laughing and smiling. On the way down we too were laughing and smiling too but I noticed the people we met who were next to the unguarded edge had clinched teeth and grim looks on their faces. On the way up we probably looked as grim as any of them. The way back down was uneventful but the boys talked about their experience for years

Photo of 1953 Pontiac sedan found here.

Photo of stone age car cooler found here.

Amazing photo of the Canadian River by Wyman Meinzer found here.

Photo of the road up Mt. Evans found here.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Chapter 57 Tree Hugger

clip_image002My Mother had been living in an apartment in Alamo Heights and wanted to live in the country. I encouraged her to build a home at the farm and she did. All the rock for her house was quarried from our place. She got a dog she named Pody and she dearly loved living out there.

She was an environmentalist and very politically liberal. I have always been a conservative and more to the right politically so we did not discuss politics too much, She was committed to her causes and one story about her activism is worth telling. The farm was on a road called “The Scenic Loop”.  For many years, people would drive out of San Antonio on a Sunday and make the Scenic Loop to enjoy the trees, the creeks and the wildlife. When the county decided the road needed to be straight through without all the bends and curves, Mom and others protested to no avail. The morning the big bulldozer was unloaded to begin work, the operator found this lady standing in front of the first tree to be dozed. It was my Mom. The dozclip_image001er operator pleaded with her but she would not move. The county commissioner came out and pleaded with her but she would not move. They all went back to San Antonio and had more meetings and the final upshot of the deal is they cancelled the plan to bulldoze the trees and scenic loop is still a beautiful winding road to this day.

We grew clover at the farm, and I had a deal with a Bee Keeper from Nebraska who would bring a big truckload of beehives to our farm each year. He would leave them for the winter. The bees would help with the pollination of the clover, and he would always leave a few gallons of honey when he picked up the bees in the spring. One fall day, I was painting Mom’s garage on a six-foot ladder. Mom’s dog, Pody was curled up near me sound asleep. Our Nebraska beekeeper arrives about this time with a big truckload of beehives with a net over the entire load. Our road wound through the Oak trees and he was waving to me when one of the limbs snagged the net and tore it down the side. Bees came swarming out by the thousands, and they were all over Pody and me. Some got down inside my clip_image002[5]skivy shirt and stung me. Pody was yelping so I guess she was getting stung too. I jumped off the top of the ladder, and headed for the back door of Mom’s house. It must have been a  funny picture as Pody and I fought each other trying to get through that door at the same time. Once inside there were bees everywhere. Mom had an evaporative cooler that had water running down the excelsior sides of it. The bees were mad because he had not stopped to water them, and they were frantic for water. When they covered the outside of that cooler the fan would suck them into the house. I felt bad about it, and the poor beekeeper was out there until two or three in the morning with smokers trying to get his bees back into the hives. He lost a lot of bees that night.

I used to enjoy plowing at the farm at Leon Springs. I loved the smell of the newly turned earth. One hot Saturday afternoon I was plowing the front field and had been plowing since early that morning. I only had a few more passes down the middle of the field and I would be through. Each time I made a round a lady Field Lark who had a nest in the middle of the field would put on her show to try and get me away from her nest. She would flop along the ground witclip_image001[4]h one wing dragging behind her and as I passed and moved on down the field she would return to her nest and settle down on it again. On my final pass she was right in the path I had to plow and as I approached she was frantic as she flopped along the ground giving me the broken wing show. When I got to about six feet from her I just could not bring myself to plow though her nest so I whipped the tractor around the nest and got back to plowing about six feet away. I watched the nest for the next few weeks and sure enough she hatched out three little ones. My Sudan crop came up all around her before she and her brood left the nest.

Photo of Scenic Loop found here.

Photo of lark found here.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Chapter 56 Cadillac Utility Vehicle

In the 50’s we had a terrible drought. It lasted for seven years, and put a lot of ranchers and farmers out of business. All of the water wells around me had gone dry, but my well went all the way down into the Edwards Aquifer, and I had water. I went around to my neighbors, and told them to come to my well if they needed water. Sometimes you would see two or three pickups with 55 gallon barrels in the back up by my well. There were no rural water systems so they were getting water not only for their animals but for household use as well.

clip_image001One afternoon I was working on my fence and here comes a brand new big Cadillac pulling up beside me. Well, bless pat if it wasn’t old Charlie.

“Hi Charlie, get out and rest yourself. I need a little supervision here.”

Charlie got out and sat on the tail gate of my pickup cutting himself a fresh chew of tobacco.

I asked him, “Where did you get that Cadillac?”

“I done bought it. I always wanted me a big Cadillac so I went in to the store and told them I wanted the biggest Cadillac they had.”

Pause a moment to imagine that scene. Charlie walks in to the dealer in his oil soaked, dirty, old hat, plaid shirt with the elbow out, and run-over dirty boots. What did the salesman think? Well, they showed Charlie a big red four door. Charlie took it and they probably fainted when he paid for it with a roll of $100 bills that he dug out of his pocket with a rubber band around them. Cadillac’s sold for $2700 to $4900 in 1950.

About that time in my rumination, I saw something moving in the back seat of Charlie’s Cadillac.

Me: “Whatcha got in the back seat Charlie?”

Charlie: “Them’s sheeps”.

Me: “What are you doing with ‘sheeps’ in the back seat of your new Cadillac?”

Charlie: “Takin’ ‘em to the vet.”

Me: “Oh, I see.”

Charlie had been coming over to get water at my well for a while. Country people are real proud, and I mean that in the good sense of the word. They will give you anything you need, and never expect anything in return, but they hate to ask for anything. Charlie was shuffling around, and seemed to be at a loss for words. He turned aside and spit out some tobacco juice, took a breath and said;

“I want to thank you for the water”

I replied, “Charlie you are most welcome, and you know my gate is unlocked, you come over and get all the water you want anytime you need it.”

Charlie stood their a little while longer and then said, “George, you are a good neighbor.”“

“Thank you Charlie, I’m proud to be your neighbor.”

Charlie was embarrassed. That was a little too much emotion to be expressed.clip_image001[7]

“I got to git. Adios.”

“Adios, Charlie, take care.”

With that Charlie left driving down my lane toward the highway in his new Cadillac with a bunch of “sheeps” in the back seat.

Photo of 1955 Cadillac sedan found here.

Photo of sheep found here.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Chapter 55 Going to the Dogs

Old Charlie was a man who managed a ranch that joined us to the south and he was quite a character. For some time, all the ranchers in the area had been having trouble with a pack of wild dogs. The dogs would run together and if they found a new born calf, or a lamb or kid goat they would kill it. They were not killing to eat, just to kill. Almost every day someone else would report another animal killed. The ranchers wanted to shoot them but there were some animal lovers that lived around there who put up a hue and cry against that. Suddenly, we did not hear of the dogs during the month of March. That was strange, because it had been the talk of the community.

A short time later, I was back at Charlie’s to say “Hi.” He lived in an old, run-down house in a little valley. When I pulled up in my pickup Charlie said, “Come over, sit down, and take a load off.”

I pulled up an old wood box beside Charlie, who as usual had a big chew of tobacco that looked like a tennis ball in his cheek. He sat in front of his little house a lot, always with his trusty shotgun beside him. We talked about the weather, when it was going to rain again, the cattle market, and so on until I commented on our gang of trouble makers.

“You know, Charlie, I haven’t seen anything of that pack of wild dogs for some time. I wonder if they have moved on to some other place”.

Charlie replies, “You ain’t gonna see them no more.”

“Really, how come?”

Charlie said, “Them dogs came running through here a while back and everyone of them dogs wasn’t watching where they was a-going and ran plum into a bunch of stumps and killed themselves.”

“Well I declare.”

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Chapter 54 Manly Headgear

clip_image002[6]Things had smoothed out and were going real good at my Telephone job. We were spending more weekends in San Antonio and at the ranch. My greatest joy was going out to the ranch with my two boys. The boys and I would go out every weekend that we could and spend Saturday and Sunday out there enjoying the open air and the solitude.

clip_image002[4]Words cannot explain the joy and peace I would get by going to the farm. After a week of hectic negotiations and problem solving I could go out there and work or plow and enjoy the serene feeling of release from all stress. We had a hill at the back of the place, and sometimes I would go up there and just sit and enjoy the view. Several times as I sat quietly, I would see a clip_image002deer grazing or an armadillo rooting along. Red birds, mocking birds and a few blue jays would always be flitting around, each singing their special song. One time as I sat real still, I felt like someone was watching me. I slowly looked all around and finally up. There lying on a limb of the red oak tree was a civet cat, with his long tail hanging down. They are scarce and nocturnal, so it was the first time I had ever seen one. He and I watched each other for some time and when I finally moved he was out of there.

clip_image002[11]In this picture you see the boys with me when I was harrowing the field. Tom dearly loved his hat and always wore it every chance he got. The harrow in the background was a series of disks that cut up the soil and pulverized the dirt. When the boys were riding with me I made them stand on either side of me slightly to my rear. As we were going round and round the field, clip_image001Tom kept chattering until I told him to be quiet for a while. Later, when I was making a turn I turned around and looked into Tom's little dirty tear stained face; I exclaimed, “What in the world is the matter?” He pointed to his empty head with no hat. As we went on around the next time there it was. It had blown off, and since I had told him to be quiet he had said clip_image002[8]nothing. The hat had been sliced to pieces under the harrow blades. I stopped for the day, cleaned the boys up and immediately went in to the farm store and let Tom pick up a new hat. He had a big smile on his face with his new hat, but I really felt so bad about telling him to be quiet.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Chapter 53 William Thomas

Soon, we were blessed with another little boy. Tom arrived on October 5, 1952, and what a joy he was. He, too, was born at Nix Hospital in San Antonio, as Chip was. He came late one afternoon before we expected him. Charlotte’s brother, Charles, drove us to the Nix hospital with horn blaring, running right through red lights. We raced in the exit of the Nix garage. The attendant came running out saying we couldn’t do that, but before he finished, he took one look at Charlotte and ran for a wheel chair. We hurried Charlotte up to delivery; the nurse took one look at her and said, “The doctor is not going to make it in time.” Thank goodness he did, and Tom arrived weighing 8lbs 3oz.

Our favorite entertainment was to go down to the Dairy Queen after supper, and get an ice cream. The boys always ordered “Lime Green” ice cream-their name for sherbet. Then we would go up to the north end of town to the train depot, and wait for the passenger clip_image002train from California on its way to San Antonio to come through. It would come through about 50 miles an hour and it was always a thrill for the boys.

We saw our first TV about this time. We all stood outside a department store one evening and watched it through the store windows after the store had closed.

Of course, this was before air conditioning in automobiles. My friend Pierce, who owned the Pontiac place, called me one day and said, “come clip_image001on down here I want to show you something.” I got down there, and he had a Pontiac sedan with Air Conditioning. It was the first air-conditioned automobile in Uvalde County. The A/C took up the whole trunk, and fed cold air through two plastic tubes coming from behind the back seat. We rode up and down Main Street with all the windows rolled up, just to show off.

When my Dad was with Brown and Root his friend, Slim Dalstrum, was President of Texas Railway Equipment Co. This subsidiary of Brown and Root acquired by bid from the Government old Fort Clark clip_image002[5]located in Brackettville, Texas. They gave Dad one of the two story Officers homes on the west side of the parade grounds to use as he wished. These homes were built in the 1850's with wide covered front porches and they had 12-inch thick rock walls and 12-foot ceilings. They were amazingly cool in the hot summer afternoons. It was easy to take a little nap on that front porch. During our days in Uvalde, we went out to spend weekends there every once in a while. There was a huge swimming pool fed with constant 68 degree water out of Los Moras Springs that the boys enjoyed. They also loved to fish in Los Moras Creek. We would sleep in each day and after a big breakfast go to the pool. Then back for a light lunch and a siesta. About 4 PM we would leave for Mexico and go across the river at Eagle Pass or Del Rio for supper, returning to Ft Clark for a good night’s sleep and then the following day we would repeat the whole process. These were always very relaxing times.

Photo of 1952 Pontiac found here.

Photo of Fort Clark pool found here.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Chapter 52 George III

I did well at the Telephone Co, and was soon promoted to Evening District Traffic Superintendent in charge of the night switchboard operators in San Antonio. I also was put in charge of the employee cafeteria. I had been in charge of the enlisted men’s mess in the navy and started looking at the huge loss the cafeteria was running at the time. I broke each food item down into cost per portion. We lost money every time we served liver, and we made the most money on Mexican food. I changed the menu with liver every other week and started serving Mexican food every week. I made other management changes and the cafeteria started making money. After about six months, the boss called me intclip_image001o his office and called me down regarding my management of the cafeteria. He said that we were not supposed to make a profit on the employees and there had been a grievance against me for “exploiting” the employees. I had not changed any of the prices. My first experience of life with the Unions!

On January 9, 1950 we had a long awaited addition to the family and with the arrival of our first son, we became a family of three. He weighed in at 6lbs 11 oz. We were so happy to have that little clip_image002[4]guy join us and we named him George Addison Field III. It didn’t take long for his Aunt Alice to dub him “Chip.”

In February 1950 I was promoted to be the District Traffic Superintendent at Uvalde, Texas. I was the youngest District Super that they had ever had at that time. Since Chip was just one month old, Charlotte kept him in San Antonio for a couple of months before moving to Uvalde. I had 29 towns in my District, with the largest being Laredo. clip_image002[1]Most all the towns were still operated manually and had not been converted to dial. They still had operators that would answer and complete your local calls. There were about 700 employees in the district, with 55 of them being management employees. The Rio Grande River was my west boundary and the district extended east to halfway between San Antonio and Houston. I went from the hill country and Kerrville on the north to Zapata and Hebbronville on the south. It was a huge territory and I was on the road a lot. The first two years I averaged driving about 5000 miles a month trying to cover all the scattered towns.

clip_image002I really loved Uvalde, a small-town of about 8500 friendly folks. It was located on Hwy 90 between San Antonio and Del Rio nestled on the Leona River at the site of one of the original Texas Forts. Fort Inge was established in the 1850’s to protect the settlers from the Indians and as a stage stop. I drove up and parked right at the back door of my office, which was less than ten minutes from home. I could walk anywhere in town. clip_image002[1]When I walked the three blocks to the bank on the square it would sometimes take more than an hour because you stopped to visit with friends on the way down and again on the way back to the office. We had our municipal airport named Garner Field for hometown hero John Nance Garner, Vice President under Roosevelt. Downtown was centered on the courthouse. The streets around the courthouse were appropriately named North Street, South Street, East Street and West Street.

clip_image002[6]My supervision was pretty loose in Uvalde. The following note came from Dick Goodson, my boss, who I had not seen for about two months. Since I got another raise, and had had one every six months since I had arrived in Uvalde, I guess I was doing a good job!

Photo of  1950’s Uvalde found here.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Chapter 51 Sitting Bull

I started building pens and a squeeze chute the next weekend. I got plans from the Texas A&M extension service and studied them, selecting the set of pens I thought would work for me. I built the fence mid-fence troughacross a big water trough with half of the trough in the pen and half on the outside. That way if I had a cow in the pen to doctor she could get to the water and the rest of the herd on the outside could drink also. I also started practicing with my rope. I got so I could throw my loop around a 55-gallon barrel every time if the barrel didn’t move. I was learning a little more. I guess I will have to admit that even though I spent the next forty years in the cattle business I never stopped learning from them.

In later years I would enjoy just sitting in the pickup watching the cows. You can learn so much from them. For instance a mamma cow will hide her brand new calf and sometimes you can hardly find it. Another clip_image001[7]thing in the spring when I had a lot of little calves running around with their tails in the air having a good time chasing one another, one mama would be assigned to baby sit. She would stay with those calves even when the rest of the herd had grazed off to the other end of the pasture. You can even tell the weather by watching cows. It they are not hungry some will lie down and chew their cud but they will all lay down together if a storm is approaching. I never did figure this one out but it may be something about a low pressure moving in.

During the drought, I ran out of grass and was able to lease the place across the pavement for grazing. I moved the herd across the road without any problem, except for my bull. He would not step on that pavement regardless of what I did to try and force him to do so. I finally roped him and tied the rope to the bumper of my pickup. I then started easing across the pavement and clip_image001[9]when he reached the edge of the pavement, he started pulling back. I kept slowly pulling and he actually sat down like a big dog pulling back on that rope. My back wheels started spinning and my tires were smoking, but I gave it a little more gas and he started sliding across the pavement still sitting down. Can you imagine the old rancher that happened by looking in disbelief at what that new guy was doing with his bull? I bet they had a lot of laughs down at the feed store. Except for some abrasions on his rear, my bull did not suffer any damage and I did finally get him across the road.

Photo of water trough found here.

Photo of babysitter found here.

Photo of sitting bovine found here.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Chapter 50 Whole Lotta Bull

Like so many things, I had to learn by doing. I was unprepared for dealing with cattle. Soon after the cattle had been delivered, the bull turned up with a bad sore on his hip. That Saturday I went into Kallison’s Farm Store, and asked the guy there about the sore. “Your bull has screw worms,” was his response. I asked what that was and what did clip_image001I have to do about it. He said it would only get worse if you don’t take care of it. You have to dig those worms out of that wound and put this black tar looking medicine into the wound. He said, just put him in your squeeze chute, and get busy. I respond, “I don’t have a squeeze chute.” He then said, “Well just rope him, and snub him up against a post and then doctor him.” I hated to tell him that I didn’t have a rope but I swallowed and then gave him the truth. He sort of wagged his head and sold me a new rope and the medicine. Then he sent me on my way, and wished me well.

I headed out to the farm and approached my bull with the rope. I’m sure he thought, “What do you think you are going to do with that?” After several tries, I finally got the bull roped around the neck and then I had another revelation. I had a 1600-pound animal on one end of that rope and me on the other. Not good! If you have almost a ton of clip_image001[6]bull trotting off to the east with your rope around his neck and you are on the other end of the rope you might as well recognize that you are going to be heading east, too. The bull starts trotting off, with me trotting along beside him, and then he begins to lope faster. I could tell right off I would have a big problem if he broke into a run.

This was one of those times in my life when I realized that you should think and then act, not the other way around. I see an electric pole coming up, and run as fast as I can to get to the pole before he does. I wrap the rope around that post about three times, but by that time, he goes beyond it, and hits the end of the rope. He has his head down with his nose close to the ground while he is lumbering along, and when he hits the end of that rope it throws him all the way over, and he lands on his back. He just lies there and I walk over thinking, “I done killed my bull.” He looks up at me and kind of rolls his eyes, probably thinking, “How did he do that?” Finally he struggles to his feet. I quickly take up the slack while he is clearing his head and snub him to the post. I then proceed to doctor him. Not a fun job cleaning out an open wound full of worms with him yelling and kicking. The hole in his hip was big enough to place a baseball in. After cleaning it out real good I loaded it up with that tar like medicine I had bought at the farm store. In a few weeks his wound had healed up good as new.

Photo of squeeze chute found here.

Photo of man next to bull found here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Chapter 49 Country Boy

Scenic LoopIn 1949 my Aunt Cot bought 45 acres out of a 110-acre tract on the Scenic Loop Road north of San Antonio. Charlotte and I decided to purchase the other 65 acres. I went to the Catholic Life Insurance Union, and got a loan of $10,000 to buy it. I paid $194.00 per acre for the place. The rest of the family said we had lost our minds, buying it and paying so much, but we were happy with it. It was beautiful land.

A friend of mine who had ranched many years, bought a little set of cattle for us to put out there. I think it was twelve cows and a bull. Well, he delivered them one Saturday morning early, running_cowand he must have bought them somewhere near Laredo. I don’t think they had seen a human in years-if ever. When he opened the back gate of that trailer, those cows came out of there like a bunch of kangaroos, jumping and kicking, and running in every different direction.

I later learned that when you bought some cattle that were used to being together, even if you moved them many miles away, when you unloaded them they woucows goneld all stick together. They would all go together all the way around the perimeter fence checking it for a place to get out. These gals were each separate individuals and they went to the four corners of the farm not even a pair of them together. My fences were old and just so-so, but fortunately none of the scattered cattle got out. It took about three weeks for them to start sticking together grazing along as one herd. After watching them push against my old fence I spent the next three weekends improving my perimeter fence. I was beginning to learn. one lunger

The only water I had was from my well that had an old water-cooled pump jack on it that pumped the water into a big rubber tank. The pump jack was what they called a “One Lunger” and you had a flywheel you had to spin to get it started. That flywheel was hard to spin and it took everything I had to crank it. Sometimes I would have to try to start it for almost an hour before finally getting it going. Once started, you could hear it all over that end of the county. It sounded a lot like a real big John Deere “popping Johnny”. It didn’t take me long to figure out how to afford a submersible electric pump to put on that well.

Kallison’s Farm Store was a wonderful place to get all things for the farm or ranch. Every morning at six AM Perry Kallison would be on the radio kallisonswith his show. He would give all the farm news, livestock prices and most of all a classified list of things to buy, sell or trade. He would be real folksy in his presentation. “Well, friends and neighbors, old man Johnson in Bandera, has a quarter horse for sale or trade. This is a really fine quarter horse that will work your cattle for you. He will trade for what have you. Call him at 214J3 in Bandera, and he would love to visit with you whether you are going to buy his horse or not!” After 30 minutes he would always say, “It’s second cup of coffee time and let me tell you about the best bargain at the store.” I listened to Perry every morning and then we would always listen to Henry Howell with all the weather and farm and ranch news at noon each day on WOAI radio.

Photo of scenic beauty near Scenic Loop found here.

Photo of kangaroo cow found here.

Photo of cows gone found here.

Photo of one lunger pump found here.

Photo of Kallison’s Farm and Ranch Store found here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Chapter 48 Movin’ on Up

About a month before I graduated, all the various companies came to interview prospective employees. Out of the interviews, I had three offers, all-paying about the same. One was from Arkansas Gas with headquarters in Little Rock, another, Sears Roebuck in Dallas, and finally, Southwestern Bell Telephone Co in San Antonio. All were to start in their management training programs. Charlotte and I liked the Telephone Co the best for several reasons.

1.Their benefit program was the best

2. The Telephone Co had a great reputation.

3. I was the only one out of about ten who interviewed who got an offer from them.

4. I liked the two men who interviewed me the best.

clip_image002So we went with Southwestern Bell in San Antonio. I took my last exam on a Friday, and reported to work with the Telephone Co the following Monday September 1, 1948. I told them to just mail my diploma.

Our starting salary was $225.00 per month, and after living on $110.00 a month for a year or so, we felt like we were rich. We sold the “Jet Job” and bought a 1947 four-door Plymouth that was brand new. We paid about $800.00 for it. We also bought a new house at 211 Marquette for $7,800.00. Our house payment was $52.28/ month including principal, interest, taxes and insurance. We bought a washing machine for $40.00, and after all that spending we were still putting $25.00 a month in savings.clip_image002[5] The house seemed huge; it had two bedrooms and one bath and 900 sq. ft. We rattled around in that big house like beans in a gourd. We had to put the washing machine in the kitchen because there was no laundry room. We had a big garden in the back yard and furnished produce for all the neighbors. We were very happy in our new “mansion”.

Southwestern Bell logo found here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Chapter 47 Close Encounters

In 1948 I had another opportunity to indulge my love of flying when I was able to use my GI Bill to pick up lessons again. This was the first time I had been in the air since I first flew in 1939. I was flying off a grass runway at a little airfield on the north side of Austin.

I soloed pretty quick and started flying solo cross-country. One hot August afternoon I flew down to New Braunfels, landed there, had a cold Coke, then took off for Temple. New Braunfels also had a grass landing strip right next to the Austin-San Antonio highway. Well I enjoyed the flight to Temple , enjoying the scenery and a robin’s egg blue sky with white puffy clouds. I prided myself on my smooth landings and approached the Temple airport with confidence. I could see four or five “hanger flyers” sitting in front of the office. I thought, “I am going to really show those guys how to grease clip_image002this plane in and touch down like a feather. “

Well, I came in perfect and flared out to touch down-only the darn plane kept floating! I pulled back on the stick until it was against my belt. I continued to float, trying to figure what the deuce was going on. I kept pulling back on that stick to force the plane down and I finally did a perfect three-point landing-except I was still about ten feet in the air. I banged down on the PAVED runway with quite a jolt. The landing gear complained as it absorbed a real smash into the ground, but it did survive. I had never landed on pavement before and the heat radiating off that runway gave the little plane a lot of unexpected lift.

I didn't want to face those guys who were watching me but they were sitting right next to the gas pump and I was too low on gas to fly back to Austin. I taxied up to the pump, shut the engineTemple airport built in 1942 down and crawled out. I had positioned the plane so it was between the audience and me but to no avail. Three of them came over grinning from ear to ear and said, “First time on pavement?” They were good sports though. One helped me gas and the other spun the prop when I was ready to leave. We did not have self-starters then and had to prime the prop and then spin it to start the engine. I flew back to Austin absorbing a big dose of humility.

Another evening I was returning solo to Austin just before dark. We all had a mandatory procedure for landing. You entered the pattern on a downwind leg that was parallel to the runway, going the opposite way you were going to land. At a point opposite where you were going to touch down you cut the power. You then would turn on to the base leg then you turned again on to the final approach.  At that point you advanced power to clear the engine and touched down opposite the point you had cut power on the downwind leg.

I came in that evening and followed the above procedure even though there were no other planes in sight. As I cleared the engine on final approach, I looked up through the windshield that continued up over my head and almost fainted. Just about a foot above my plane was the wheel of another plane on final approach. This other pilot had not followed procedure and came straight in to final. He almost landed on me. I dropped down and went into a 360-degree circle and came in behind him. He taxied over to the gas pumps and I almost had my plane with its tail up racing over to the pumps. I jumped out cussing this guy and I grabbed him by the shirt, He was apologizing and saying he was so sorry. He was a Chinese guy and I had trouble understanding him, I finally cooled off but I don't think he or I will ever forget our close call.

Photo of Temple Airport found here.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Chapter 46 Austin City Limits

I had made application to return to Texas A & M to finish my studies, and get my degree in Agronomy. I had accumulated about 32 hours of college credit since leaving A & M. They informed me that they could not accept all my hours, and it would take three years to get my degree. Remember, I said my mindset was this; I had lost several years, and to me three years was a lifetime. Since I was already so far behind my peers who had not been in the military, the quicker I could get my degree the better.

I decided to check out The University of Texas, where Charlotte had just received her degree. They accepted all of my hours, but only as elective hours, and I could receive a Bachelor of Business Administration in a year and a half if I took only required subjects each semester. That decided it, and I enrolled in the University, I signed up for 24 hours and began also taking a clip_image002correspondence course at the same time. Charlotte’s sister and brother-in law Alice and Winn Dalley lived in Austin and Winn was going to school, and that was also a factor in the decision.

In 1947 we found a place to live at 4413 Ave A in North Austin. The rent was $32.50 a month. It was a garage apartment, and I believe about 310 sq ft. The outside dimensions of the entire apartment were 20’ x 18’. It had no sub floor, so you could look through the cracks in the floor and see the garage below, which had no doors. That winter we spread newspapers on the floor, and scatter rugs down on the floor to keep some of the cold wind out. I remember looking from the bed at night across the floor, and seeing the newspapers clip_image002[5]float up in the air from the wind coming through the cracks.

It was at this apartment that Charlotte taught me a lesson in  patience and emotional control. I had a terrible temper, and one day I was working in the garage below the Apt. I was changing a tire on the “Jet Job”. I had repaired a flat and was trying to get the tire back on the wheel. It would not go back on. I had two tire tools, and worked, and worked. I had pinched fingers on both hands, and my thumb was bleeding. The tire went on the wheel except about twelve inches that would just not go. I was cussing and threw one of the tire tools against the wall after catching several fingers between the tire and the wheel. I was out of control, and pitching a fit.

About this time Charlotte who had been listening to me from above, came down the stairs and says,” Let me try.” I explode, “I’m 185 lbs and strong, you are five feet tall and 125 lbs how in the—do you think you can force that tire on that wheel.” Let me show you” she says. Then I respond, ”All right, go right ahead, here are the tire tools.” Charlotte inserts the tire tools, and steps on one with her little foot, and then the other, and the tire goes “pop,” and jumps right on the wheel. I could not believe it! I had done the same thing twenty times without success. Charlotte did not say a word; she turned and walked back upstairs. I sat down on the running board, and just stared at that darn wheel. That was the day I started to do my best to not lose my temper and also stopped cussing.

After living in our garage apt for about a year the owner advised us that they were raising the rent from $32.50 to $35.00 a month. I exploded, “That’s it, we are moving because we cannot afford it.” They relented and we lived there several more months until I graduated.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Chapter 45 The Big Easy

When I returned from the war you could not buy a new automobile. They had just begun to convert the car factories back from tanks, airplanes and jeeps. I found a 1931 Model A Ford down on a lot south of town and bought it for $350.00. This was the car we called the “Jet Job”. It was, however, not suitable for a honeymoon trip, so my brother and sister-in law loaned us their 1941 Buick. It was a great car; ten years had made a lot of difference in the design of automobiles.

clip_image001On Sunday morning, January 12th, we left for New Orleans. That night we stayed in the Rice Hotel in Houston. It was constructed in 1912 on the site of the former Capitol building of the Republic of Texas, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Presidents and other dignitaries stayed there while in Houston. I found out recently that in 1998 the hotel was renovated and turned into apartments.

In New Orleans, we had reservations at the Monteleone. Built in 1886, this hotel is a historic landmark and is still owned and operated by the Monteleone family. The hotel figures in the works of so many southern authors that it has been clip_image001designated an official literary landmark by the Friends of the Library Association. The only other hotels in the United States that share this honor are two in New York City.

We were anxious to get to New Orleans, so we drove all the way there the next day, getting there after dark. We checked into the Montelone. Dad Sawtelle had a friend who was the manager there, and when we got to our room, there were flowers, a fruit basket and a bottle of champagne. We were there for five days and the total bill at the hotel was $44.20, which included five meals as well as the room charge. That is an average of $8.40 per day.

We were there five days and saw all the sights and tried all the best restaurants. Our clip_image001[5]hotel was in the French Quarter and we spent most of our time there. It was not as rowdy in the Quarter back then as it is now. Charlotte and I shopped the antique stores, and we bought a lamp table with a marble top, and I bought an antique sword and a gun. After five days, we headed back home with a stop to see Charlotte’s grandparents in Liberty, Texas.

Photo of Rice Hotel found here.

Photo of Hotel Monteleone found here and here.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Chapter 44 Oh, Happy Day!

clip_image002Finally the big day arrived-greatly anticipated-I was going to marry Charlotte. We had waited a long time and been through a lot, but it was worth it. As you can see from the picture, she was about the most beautiful bride ever! I remember I was like most bridegrooms, and had little to do with the wedding, except to show up. I had talked to Charlotte about a small wedding, and she thought that was a good idea. clip_image002[4]

The Four Amigos were to be reunited as Robert Holzschuher was my best man, and Bill Kliene and Paul Silber were my groomsmen. Charlotte’s sister Alice was going to be Matron of Honor, and my cousin Mary Carolyn and Charlotte’s cousin Bobbie Waugh were bridesmaids. It was a cozy group of attendants. On the eve of the wedding, Aunt Cot was hostess for the rehearsal dinner at her house on Gramercy. clip_image001

Charlotte and I were married at 8pm on January 11, 1947 at Trinity Methodist Church in San Antonio, Texas where Charlotte’s family had attended. Well, as I started through the door to the sanctuary, our small wedding had grown. I stopped, frozen, looking out at a packed church; it was a sea of people. A very long moment passed. Robert later said he was afraid I was going to break and run.

clip_image002[6]Robert gave me a push in the back, and we walked out to where the preacher was standing. I was sweating and more nervous than I had been at any time overseas. However, once Charlotte and her dad started down the aisle, I was okay and totally focused. I was just where I wanted to be. 

The wedding reception was at the Bright Shawl, and we spent our wedding night at the historic St. Anthony Hotel there in San Antonio. clip_image002[8]

The St. Anthony was the finest hotel in San Antonio at that time. We still have the paid receipt for that stay, and the charge for a night’s stay in this fine hotel was $5.00 per night. The $2.50 was for breakfast in the room

clip_image002[10]

Photo of Trinity Methodist Church found here (see also here.)