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Texas | Columns | "It's All Trew"

Using concrete involved
search for sand, much hauling

by Delbert Trew
Delbert Trew
Watching a modern-day contractor pour a large concrete slab brought back memories of the times when the Trews "ran concrete." We did not "pour." We "ran" concrete.

The biggest problem with running concrete in the Panhandle was finding sand. It's hard to believe, but anywhere you have black soil, there is no sand. A long sandy creek, without a blade of grass showing and thought to be almost worthless, can prove to be a bonanza for the owner if he sells the sand to contractors.

Today, we pick up the phone and order the quality, quantity and grade of sand desired, all delivered to our doorstep. Not so in the old days as history shows good sand was always hard to find.

The grandparents of Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Clarendon, hauled sand in wagons from a nearby creek to run concrete for the foundations of their home a long time ago. The sand contained lots of little caliche pebbles that can still be seen in the foundations.

Emory Crockett and his family hauled many a wagonload of sand from Pederson Creek located west of McLean into the new town for construction purposes in the early 1900s.

Ramsdell, a ghost town southeast of McLean, was known for the many railcars of good sand loaded and shipped from along Sand Creek where the town was located.

Thomas D'Spain, a farmer/rancher living his early life near Magic City in the Kellerville area, told of taking a contract to run concrete bases for the new pump jacks after oil was discovered along the North Fork of the Red River in Wheeler County. This was during the Depression and Dust Bowl and times were hard everywhere.

Thomas and an Indian employee backed his Model T chain-drive truck down into North Fork creek each morning long before daylight and scooped on a load of sand. The truck held about the same capacity as big pickups today. They drove to the pump jack site and backed up to sawhorses holding a wooden mud box. The oil company furnished the sacks of cement and a water tank for mixing and all work was done by hand.

Scoop by scoop, the two men mixed the cement and sand while dry, then added water and pushed it off into the forms below. At noon, they went back to the creek, scooped on the second load and hopefully finished mixing before dark. They were thankful for the steady employment.

If my memory serves me right, every place that Dad bought or leased had poor fences and the stock tank bottom rusted out. He bought a big tractor-mounted cement mixer for our Ford Major Diesel tractor and I remember spending hour upon hour scooping sand and cement into the ever-waiting mouth of that monster.

If you could follow my trail from Perryton to Alanreed and on to the ranch in New Mexico, you would find my initials, the date, and my hand print in many a tank bottom slab of concrete. Hooray for the "redi-mix" trucks of today.
Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew" March 19 , 2004 column


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