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
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
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.