Saturday, March 12, 2011

Chapter 8 Chickens Little

1933 was a big year for me. This was the year that I got my first job! I was eight and I got a job selling the  Saturday Evening Post and Ladies Home Journal, which were popular magazines at that time. They gave me a big canvas bag with a strap that went over one shoulder. Each week they would leave a stack of Saturday Evening Posts about half as high as I was tall and, once a month I would also get a stack of Ladies Home Journals. I would go door to door asking people to buy my magazines. The good news was that I was able to sell out most weeks; the bad news was that whenever I did that they would leave more magazines. I did this for about a year until I turned my “route” over to one of my friends.

During that time, Dad would have to go to Austin to bid on highway jobs. We would leave Lubbock before early dawn and we would pull off the road (there were no fences) and we would stop at the Caprock escarpment at about sunup where Mom would spread a blanket. We would have breakfast and watch the sunrise. We would then load back up, descend the Caprock and head for Austin. Back in those days, none of clip_image002the highways in west Texas were paved and they would all follow the section lines. (A section was 640 acres) We would travel several miles due east, and then make a 90-degree turn to the south. We would then travel several miles south and turn east again and so on all day long. I remember one time, we came to a big puddle covering the road and there was a man there with a team of mules. He pulled us through the mud to the other side. Once we were back on the road, my mother asked Dad, “What do you think he does when the puddle dries up?” Dad told her,” That’s when he hauls all the water.”

On another trip, we came to the Colorado River. It was on a rise and we could not get across because in those days there were few big bridges over the major rivers. We just had what they called low water crossings, where usually the water just reached up to the running boards of the cars. The railroads had built high bridges over the rivers but not the highways. We were traveling in two cars, Mom’s 1933 Chrysler and Dad’s 1933 Ford coupe. Dad had some new tires called balloon tires that looked sort of like today’s dune buggy tires. We pulled into a big pecan tree grove by the river, and the water was really booming along. There were a lot of people parked there waiting for the river to go down. Dad was distressed because he had counted on this big job being let in Austin, and the deadline to get his bid in was the following day. 

All of a sudden, there was a lot of gasps. We looked up and on the railroad trestle was Dad’s little Ford coupe. He had let some of the air out of his balloon tires and driven onto the railroad tracks. He was crossing the river way up on the railroad bridge to get to Austin in time to put his bid in on that highway job. I remember my mother was frantic and wringing her hands. All the ladies who were waiting in the pecan grove came over to comfort her even though we had never seen them before that day. When I compare that reaction of strangers with the crowd standing around watching a girl being attacked in New York I almost cry thinking of the direction our national morals have taken. We just don't care about strangers much anymore.clip_image002[6]

1934-1935 Mom and Dad built a really beautiful home at 2307 18th street. At the time, 18th was a dirt street and for the time, our house was considered a really big house. It had three bedrooms and three baths and was of Spanish architecture with an adobe wall around both sides and across the back that was about seven feet high. The back yard was big with servants’ quarters that also had a bath and small kitchen. Behind the servants’ quarters were my chicken coop and the horse barn.

My grandfather grew fighting chickens, and he had sent me a bantam rooster and three hens. Before long, I had a bunch of bantam chickens back there. Almost every day after school, I would rush back there and sit in the chicken coop to visit with my bantams. They would hop up on my leg as I was sitting there enjoying them. I also had some homing pigeons and I built a home over the chicken coop for them. My flock of chickens grew rapidly and one evening we had chicken for supper. I noticed that the chickens were much smaller than usual and I suddenly suspected the horrible truth. After supper I checked and sure enough about half of my bantams were gone. I was sick and cried a lot. I’m sure my mom felt terrible after I realized the truth. For the rest of my life my rule #1 was” I will not eat my friends.”

Photo of bantam found here.

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