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 Texas : Feature : Columns : "They shoe horses, don't they?"

Bend, Texas
Chapter 7 - School and growing up

by Harland Moore
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Jarrell Moore and his family spent some time in the Rio Grande Valley and in Llano County and up on the San Saba River at the Sloan Community. Mary Ella Moore was born April 24, 1929. Jimmy Poe Moore was born April 20, 1931 and Grady Thomas Moore was born August 27, 1933.

It was time for school to start in September, 1933, and Daddy planned to move the family to Bend and gather pecans that fall. He took me on to Bend and I lived with Uncle Jess and Aunt Marie for two or three weeks until time for the rest of the family to move. Uncle Jess was quite an out-doors-man. He taught me a lot about hunting and fishing. I never learned to hunt squirrels like he did. He would locate a hollow tree that had a place for squirrels to den up in. He would climb that tree, run his hand down in the squirrel hollow, grasp the squirrel and pull him out. He would then hold him by the tail and bash his head against the tree trunk. He would throw the squirrel down to me and reach back in the hollow for another. Sometimes the squirrel would bite into his hand and hang on. Uncle Jess would simply pry the squirrel's mouth open with his other hand , give him a good cussing out, bash his head and go back for another. He never taught me how to hunt squirrels that way nor how to cuss like that either.

In October, Daddy moved the rest of the family to Bend and they camped in an old car shed until they could do better. Grady was just a few weeks old and he didn't seem to be doing very well. He was kind of puny and he cried a lot. Mother and Daddy took him to the doctor . The doctor said that Grady wasn't getting enough nourishment from breast feeding so he put him on a bottle and Eagle Brand milk. I am sure that in those depression years, Mother was not getting the proper diet that she needed for herself and especially to nurse a baby. With the Lord's blessing she and the baby both survived until times got better.

I was in school in Bend that year in the fifth grade. My teacher was Margaret E, Mars. She was from Thurber, Texas, where she grew up. She was a very nice lady and a good teacher. Some of the other kids in my grade were: J. M. Bearden, Foy [Peter Rabbit] Gibson, Rosa Sims, Fay Moore, Berta Lee Gilbreth, and Nadelene Scot. Lee P. Burket was superintendent and also taught me in the sixth grade. An interesting thing is that he also taught my mother in school many years before that.

I think it was January of 1934 when we moved back to Devils Hollow. It was about two miles to the Bend School and I walked both ways every school day. One day in the spring I was walking home and I had cut across a pasture to shorten the trip. I was looking at the new leaves on the mesquite trees when I almost stepped on a large rattle snake. He was poised to strike when I jumped backwards. I was about a hundred yards from the home of Hilliard and Dinna Barefoot and I called out for them to come help me kill the snake. They were not at. home. Rocks were plentiful there and I threw rocks at that old snake until I killed him. I took my pocket knife and cut off his rattlers as trophy of the first rattle snake I ever killed.

That spring in Devils Hollow Daddy planted some corn and some cane. I remember in the summer I would take a big knife and cut arm loads of cane and carry it to feed the cow and horses. We also had a fattening hog which would get some of the cane and an armful of tender careless weeds which grew abundantly in Devils Hollow. The corn yield was good and we gathered the corn in the wagon and hauled it in to an old log barn or corn crib. Corn was a very basic staple on the farm. We used it to feed the work horses and to fatten out the meat hog. I also recall that Daddy and I got in that old corn crib and shucked a lot of corn . We then shelled it by hand into an old tub. We poured the shelled corn into a flour sack and took it to Bend where Watt Smith had a mill in the back of his store. The mill was powered by a small gasoline engine and the mill could be adjusted to grind the corn very course or very fine. We would get some ground course for chops for baby chicks and get some ground fine for corn meal. Watt Smith would take toll or ten percent for grinding and we took the rest home for Mother to use for corn bread. We had a milk cow that provided plenty of milk and butter. We had cornbread and sweet milk almost every night for supper.

Still in the grip of the depression, times were hard and money was hard to come by. Cecil Lewis and Daddy learned that some one in San Saba was buying mussel shells to make up a car load to ship somewhere to a button factory. Osborne Lewis and I went with Daddy and Cecil in a wagon to the Colorado River at Leaning Bluff. The water hole under the bluff had a sandy bottom and a sand bar along the bank. The water depth ranged up to waist deep and the sandy bottom was full of live mussels. We would gather them by hand and throw them out on the dry sand bar. We would then put them in a wash pot of boiling water. They would pop open and we would clean the mussels out of the shells and cast the empty shells into the wagon. Some times we would find a small pearl. They were small and not shaped very well and of no real value. I kept ten or twelve of them in a metal aspirin box for years. Needless to say we didn't get rich in the mussel shell business but it bought a few groceries.

In the fall of 1934 it was back to school for me at Bend. I think that Daddy gathered pecans at home that year. As winter approached, Uncle Jess helped me get some steel traps together. I must have had ten or twelve to set out on a trap line for small varmints. I would catch a possum or a skunk occasionally. I would skin them and stretch the hides on a board until they were cured out. A possum hide would bring about twenty cents and a good prime skunk hide would bring up to thirty five or forty cents. After we would skin a skunk or pole cat we would stink for several days even after a bath in a number three wash tub. Other boys in the school trapped and we all stunk, I don't know how the teachers and the girls stood it. Of course at that age we didn't get very close to the girls.

In the spring of 1935 school was out and Mary and Jimmy were always glad that I was home to play with them. Grady wasn't old enough to know the difference but I think it was about this time that he was big enough to climb up on the extra bed and fool with the guitar. Mary and Jimmy were quick to tell on him and they yelled, "Mother! Grady is on the clean sheet bed, playing the guitar."
NEXT PAGE - Chapter 8 - Moore Reunion & Puddin' Valley

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