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 Texas : Features : Columns : "It's All Trew"

On your mark, go ...
Big day was all important

by Delbert Trew
Delbert Trew

Few events were as important to my mother as when the neighbors came over to help with branding or shipping of our cattle. Once the date was set, us boys stayed out of the house or we were put to work cleaning or ran aground in the hustle and bustle. Preparations were endless as both Mother and Dad tried to get everything in shape to host the important workday.

Since this was before horse trailers, most of the neighbors rode across country horseback, arriving long before daylight. I remember one man who had a homemade stock rack on his pickup to haul his mount. At the time, he was much more modern than most. The men sat around the breakfast table sipping black coffee, laughing and joking. Nearly all wore chaps and spurs; the back porch was filled with Stetsons. I thought this was as western as it got.

Dad never sat down, going from window to window sipping coffee and waiting for daylight. Finally, he reached for his hat and the crew mounted up for the day's work ahead.

Mother washed the breakfast dishes while us boys dried and placed them back on the table for dinner. When the clock struck 11, the bread was rising, coffee heating up and skillets made ready to fry chicken or chicken-fried steaks. When the potatoes were done, the old tater masher went to work, with lots of butter included. Milk stood by, waiting its turn to add to the gravy. Homemade pies were cut into generous slices.

The men arrived with huge appetites and the food disappeared like magic. It sure was hard for us boys to wait for the second table, but the stories being told helped pass the time. After the pie was served and more coffee poured, the men discussed market prices, feed costs and whether it was going to rain in time for pasture.

Usually, the deaths of other neighbors came up or they spoke of someone who needed a little help to overcome an accident or tragedy. Arrangements were agreed on to provide whatever was needed. As I look back now, no committees were needed, no fundraising projects started and no government help was mentioned. Just caring neighbors.

Last, but most important, the calendar was carefully marked for the dates help would be needed for the men's own shipping and branding schedules. Returning the favor was a must in our community, no matter the weather or prior commitments. Neighboring was what seemed to make our community continue with success, no matter the financial times or lack of rains.

Finally, the day ended, and all left to return home. Dad was relieved this most important day was over and the work finished. Though tired and weary, Mother was all smiles as her most important day had gone well. Nothing seemed to excite her quite like feeding the men at shipping and branding time.

Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew"
November 10, 2009 Column
E-mail: trewblue@centramedia.net.

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