Books on the Texas Panhandle
Guess as told to Louise George
Personal interviews with Texas Panhandle men and women born in the early years
of the twentieth century rewarded me with hundreds of stories illustrating their
everyday life. I like to share those stories just as they were told to me.
Reba Guess grew up on farms near Kress, Texas. She married O.O. Guess in 1927
in Kress. He was a farmer and rented land in the area. Before long, the newlyweds
were facing the hard times of the “dirty Thirties.” In her own words Reba shares
some of their experiences.
we moved to the Ervin place  was the very beginning of the Depression. From
the time we moved there to the time we left the farm, it was hard times. We had
a drought for ten years. The depression was a doozey. Buster raised pigs to sell.
Where he was getting ten dollars a piece for them before, during the depression
you couldn’t give them away. Cream got down to six cents a pound for butter fat,
eggs to ten cents a dozen, chickens twenty-five cents a piece and wheat sold for
twenty-two cents a bushel. It was hard to get any work, too.
we moved on the Scott place. We stayed there two years…and then we moved to the
Dustman place, a mile and a half north of Center Plains School. It was so awful
dry the next three years; we just made enough to feed our stock. Buster worked
extra for Jim Dinwiddie for $1.50 a day and for anyone else who needed someone
to help them out.
“We had some real dust storms during those years. Deedie
was born on April 12, 1935, and two days later we had an awful storm and it got
real dark, I guess that was about four o’clock. All of a sudden, some people from
Amarillo burst into the house and scared us to death. There was five of them and
they saw the light from our house. They stayed all night. Where they slept I have
no idea. Back then, you had to stay in bed for ten days after your baby came,
so I didn’t have to be worried about it. The next morning, they got up and fixed
breakfast and ate, thanked us and left. We never heard from them again.
“That was a good dust storm that night. Everything was covered in white dust.
It came from the north. A lot of pictures were made of that storm and lots of
people thought it was the granddaddy of them all, but let me tell you, it wasn’t
– not where we lived. We had one on a Sunday before Deedie was born that was worse.
We were at Howard and Jeraldein’s when it came such a storm out of the west that
you could not see one thing for about ten minutes. Let me tell you, you could
not see your hand before your face. It was scary.
“Seemed like just about
everybody we ever knew came to visit that summer. We enjoyed them, but it was
hard to feed them. Sometimes people we didn’t know showed up for a visit, like
those people who burst in during the dirt storm. One time (I don’t remember just
when) we had gone to town and it came a big rain. When we got home a woman came
running out on the porch when we drove up and said, ‘Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!
We’re not thieves! We got stuck and just came in to dry out.’
“I had big
gardens every year and chickens, and we had plenty to eat, but it was hard to
have money for clothes and kerosene or coal oil for our stove. Those years we
worked and worked and worked. But, we were all pretty healthy, and we had family
close by and we had some good times. When we got together, there were a bunch
of hungry children to feed and it took a lot of food, but we all brought what
we had and there was plenty. And, we all pitched in and helped do the work. There
was plenty of that too.”
© Louise George
- January 21, 2005
Mill Boyd is featured in Louise George’s book, Some
of My Heroes Are Ladies, Women, Ages 85 to 101, Tell About Life in the Texas Panhandle.
Louise can be reached at (806) 935-5286, by mail at Box 252, Dumas, TX 79029,
or by e-mail at lgeorge@NTS-online.net.