old-timers gather and talk about the good old days, you never know whether the
story is the real truth or exaggerated nonsense. Here are a few samples I remember
or have heard lately.
A lady schoolteacher whose experiences included
teaching during the "dirty 30s" in a small country school told the following tale.
Among her two dozen varied-age students were the elite and the poorest members
of the community. All were suffering from hard times.
She overheard one
little girl telling her friends that her daddy counted out pinto beans every night
to feed her family. The teacher was horrified the family was so poor they were
rationing the number of beans to members of the family. She organized some help,
gathered up groceries and proceeded to the little girl's home.
she embarrassed when she learned the family was not impoverished but doing as
well as the other families in the community. The father was merely sorting through
the beans looking for rocks, not counting out a ration for each family member.
old men were comparing notes about their early years. One man said his family
ran down jack rabbits for meat, as they were too poor to buy ammunition for their
Another man said their family also ate jack rabbits
for meat, and he and his little brother also ran down rabbits.
was older and wiser, he ran alongside the rabbits, feeling their ribs to see if
they were fat enough to eat. When a rabbit passed inspection, he signaled his
little brother to bring it in to eat.
last story is true, so help me, as my father told it many times down through the
During the early 1940s, after the dust quit blowing, the blessed
rains came and the Great Depression ended, there was an abundance of wheat pasture
on the Great Plains. My father
placed hundreds of cattle on wheat in and around Perryton,
One day, while in town on business, an out-of-work cowboy approached
Dad for a job, saying he was broke and his family was hungry. There was an empty
farmhouse out east of town on the Shuster farm where Dad had cattle, so he hired
the man, gave him $20 for groceries and told him to move into the house. The man's
family consisted of a tall, slender wife, two tall, skinny teen boys and a slender
wisp of a girl about 10 years old.
The next morning, Dad hauled the man
two horses and a milk cow with a sucking calf weighing about 300 pounds. About
three days later, Dad returned to the place to check cattle and saw the remains
of the big calf hanging in the windmill tower with half the carcass gone.
he asked the man about the calf, it seems there was a strange accident. The man
had tied the calf to the fence in order to milk the cow. The calf got loose, and
when the man shooed the calf with the milk bucket, it struck the animal in the
head and he fell over dead. To prevent waste, the calf was butchered and hung
in the windmill tower to keep.
Dad laughed about the story and noticed the wife and family had already gained
considerable weight in three days.
© Delbert Trew
All Trew" November
3, 2009 Column