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

'Scrape' takes on numerous meanings

by Delbert Trew
Delbert Trew

A young person recently asked me to define the word "scrape," as he knew it only as to scrape paint off a wall but wondered if it had other uses.

My first use of the word came when my father once told a story about his younger days when some men got into a big scrape, not scrap, and had to go to jail for a few days.

Also, the early Westerners sometimes became involved in a big shooting scrape like the gunbattle at the OK Corral in Tombstone.

After WWII when my father bought a new Ferguson tractor with all the attachments, I became the designated driver. My first projects were to scrape out water holes at the overflows of all the windmills on the Parsell Ranch at Canadian. I had to tie gunny sacks filled with sand across the hood of the tractor to keep it from rearing up when I carried a fresno full of dirt up the steep slopes of the small depressions.

I have heard men employed in the dirt-moving business say, "we have a big scraper to move and carry dirt." So, I guess a scraper scrapes the ground to fill itself with dirt.

In some areas of the deep South, certain nationalities of people bury their dead in "scraped graves." Some cemeteries have sections where graves are scraped and kept bare of all vegetation and grass, with the mounds sometimes covered with small pebbles or broken glass.

The photos I have seen show small furrows left in the soil by intense raking. These people believe that scraping the graves and regular maintenance shows proper respect for the deceased.

Texas history tells of the "Runaway Scrape" when thousands of early Texas settlers fled their homes in anticipation of the Mexican General Santa Anna marching with his armies to put down the Texas Anglos at the beginning of the Texas Revolution. Rumors of massacres and ruthless slaughter of citizens sent Texas settlers into a stampede for the border of Louisiana for protection.

This massive and frantic journey was eventually named The Runaway Scrape by historians.

When word came the Alamo had fallen with every man killed, the flight became a frenzy.

The travel became chaos as heavy rains made the trails and roads almost impassable and flooded rivers and creeks impossible to ford. All trails were packed with stranded travelers waiting for passage on river ferries or for water to recede at regular crossings.

Crowds waited in massive groups to ford rivers, food was scarce, diseases like measles, sore eyes and whooping cough took a terrible toll. After some three weeks or more of terrible hardship and suffering, word came that the Texans had whipped the Mexican army and captured Santa Anna.

The travelers wept at the news brought by messengers. With great relief and prayer the refugees of the Runaway Scrape turned their footsteps back toward home. The Big Scrape was over.

There may be more definitions of the word scrape but that is all I have to offer.

Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew" October 15, 2008 Column
E-mail: trewblue@centramedia.net.

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