Books on the Texas Panhandle
O’Daniel 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.
Zuleika O’Daniel grew up on a farm southwest of Hart, Texas. She was the oldest
of four children. Her mother was ill much of the time and needed help in the house,
and her father desperately needed help outside tending the cattle and crops. Zuleika
learned about chores when she was very young. She tells about some of them.
then, it was dry land farming. We didn’t make very much. We raised wheat, mostly,
and maize. We didn’t have all the different kinds of maize that they do now. Some
years we had a volunteer crop, and Daddy would reap it. I remember the first combine
we ever had. That first one, I can’t remember exactly how it was, but the team
swung out some way or another when you turned the corner. I can remember having
to handle all those reins. I’d be scared to death to have to do it now, but I
didn’t have any better sense then. The men would drive the wagon along with the
combine, and the grain went out into the wagon. You had to do it just right or
you’d lose the grain.
“I rode pasture, too. When you rode pasture you
looked to see if there were little calves. We didn’t breed them like they do now
so they’ll all come at one time. They just came all through the year. When you
rode pasture, you also checked things out to see if the cows were alright, if
there were any worms or if there was anything else wrong with them. If there was,
you took them in or went and told Daddy, and he would go see about it.
“We had two pastures with a section of land in each one of them. I’d have to ride
to the far side and it was almost a mile from the house. You know, you think of
this country as being level, but there’s enough rise and fall to the land that
you can’t see too far. We had an old jack, Daddy always kept one, and there was
a lake in the far corner of this pasture, and that old jack was always over there
and he would chase you. He didn’t like horses and, you know, he was just mean.
I was so afraid of that thing, because it would chase me, and I wasn’t in sight
of the house. I don’t know what he would have done if he had caught me, probably
bite me or something. I could always outrun him on a horse and get to the corral
before he got there. They’re not very agile. Anyway, he still scared me.
kids always helped Daddy when he was working cattle. One time when I was going
to that little Wise School, one of my teachers, Mrs. Lucille Overall, wanted to
come watch us work cattle one Saturday. She had never seen cows dehorned. You
run the cattle through a chute, and there’s a real strong little gate at the end
of the chute and their neck goes down in that, and there’s a bar that goes down
to keep their heads down. It was my job to hold that bar down. In those days,
you sawed their horns off and it was pretty gory. The blood just squirted. They’ve
got a more humane way of doing that now. But, that’s the way they did it then.
“The first time Daddy sawed a horn off, and the blood started, and the
odor of that blood hit her, Miss Overall just fell over in a dead faint. Daddy
was so mad at me and her, he just picked her up and carried her to the house and
plopped her on the bed and told Mama to take care of her. I was so embarrassed.
But that was the last time she got to watch us work cattle.
“You had to
be tough to get through those days. It wasn’t easy.”
History by George
- May 14, 2005
Zuleika O’Daniel 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