Pappa’s Childhood (part 10)

Early Massey Family household circa 1980s

G.M.C. Massey (standing, middle left) with family, East Texas circa 1890s

My grandfather, G.M.C. Massey’s memoirs continue, as edited by my mom into the section she titled “Pappa’s Childhood.”

All our family had had a siege of the mumps and it had skipped me entirely. It hurt me for I wanted to get out of work as I had noticed that whoever had them were excused from their duties. I did not know what to do about it as it seemed that I was left out. But just at this time, one of our neighbors with a couple of girls came over to spend the night, although one of the girls was coming down with the mumps. My mother said that that was all right as all of us had had the mumps but me and I was not afraid of them any more. That night, while we were playing in the yard, I ran this girl down and told her that she just had to give me the mumps, and I held her and kissed her over and over, and then over and over again and again. Then, in about 10 days, I had the mumps and I’ll tell you over and over again that I very well remember that I had the mumps. Yes, I had the mumps.

Before I came down with the mumps, we boys had agreed to save enough eggs for a bog Easter egg roast. To cap the stack, while I was nursing the mumps, there came a March snow and it very well covered up all the showings of spring. While the snow had everything covered up, we were not getting any eggs, and that was just what I wanted. So I remembered that I had about a dozen and a half hidden out for the egg roast. I wrapped up unbeknownst to Mother and went out to that fence corner where I had them buried. I dug up a half dozen of them and brought them in so I could have the eggs that I so much desired. I had a time getting around the fact that I had exposed myself so much for the sake of getting the eggs. However, it was always easy for me to get around Mother, as she was just that way. When she would catch me to whip me for some of my meanness, I could grab her and go to telling her how much I loved her. By kissing her and loving her that way, I could get out of most of the punishment.

About the egg roast, we began early enough that we could get a few along and not create any suspicion. When the day arrived, it was surely a norther as well as Easter. When we got started, we went by another of the community roughs, and they had not saved up any eggs, but one of the boys said that he could get as many as a dozen right away. They did, so we made a break for birds-creek crossing where there was plenty of wood as well as water. We arranged right away for the cooking of the eggs. We had mother’s 3 gallon pot metal kettle and about 6 dozen eggs. We put all of the eggs in that kettle and built up a big fire about the kettle. When they were well done, we teamed all the water out. There was a light sheet of ice on the water and we knew the eggs would soon be cool enough to peel. We began to banter about going in swimming. One would say, I’ll back you out, and of course, nobody would be backed out. I do not yet know what it was in us that caused it, but there was not a one that did not pull off all the clothes that we had on and we swam that creek. One that could not swim had to wade out as far as he could and wade back again. Now let me tell you that we had a big fire burning, and that looked better than the feast did. We were soon getting on our clothes and warming up by the fine fire. You know that there was not a one that was sick from that. We ourselves wondered about it for some time before we would tell it. When we got our clothes on, we started for our feast. We had abundance of salt, black pepper, and biscuits. We were about through when someone found a chicken nearly ready to hatch. That knocked out some of the boys, but not me. If I got one with a chick, I just throwed it away and got me another. We all had all we wanted without the ones that had chickens. That last boy had confessed that he broke up an old setting hen, so most of us just laughed it off and went on and had a good time.

We lived in Yantis till in 1894 when my father sold out the home, and in part payment he took title to 50 acres of unimproved land near Coke. And about as near Pleasant Grove on the other side from Coke. I was old enough that I was trusted with the team to carry a load down there and Father didn’t have to go. After we were moved except the corn, my father traded corn with the man near us that was moving to the place that we had just vacated. I had been moving the corn from his place to ours and got taken in by the girl that was in the other family. I helped them to get moved. I had arrangements made with the girl to ride with me, but the girl told me that I was going to have to ask her father to let her ride with me. That was not trouble for me. It was okay with him so we had a very good time on the way and it was a very full day, too. Time and distance at that age was a consuming fire that burned out when there was no fuel added.

We children had to start to school at a new place to us. All the pupils were new to us, and I never liked it a bit. I was shy and hard to get acquainted with. That caused me to have a lot of fights. Being alone so to speak, I became cowed and discouraged. There was at that school a very overbearing set of boys of my age and above. It seemed to me that a barrier that kept me on the outside. I didn’t ever get myself adjusted to them and their way of life. I was not very well broken off from my old associates in Yantis. I was going back to the old stomping ground for fellowship and association for awhile. Six years later, I went back up to Yantis and secured my first school. Then, one year after that I went back and got my wife. That was the center around which my life was built.

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Pappa’s Childhood (part 9)

G.M.C. Massey walking on sidewalkMore from my grandfather, G.M.C. Massey, as he writes of growing up in late 19th century rural East Texas—  from my mom’s partial edit of his manuscript, titled “Pappa’s Childhood.”

Up to the time that I was nearly 15 years of age, I lived in a community that had no churches. It was a new community and the schoolhouse was the center of all community gatherings. There were about four different church groups that held their services at the schoolhouse. Sunday School was all together and therefore none of the denominations were as fervent as they might have been if they had been free to teach all of the doctrine that their church believed. I guess that was the cause of there being so little interest in the Sunday School. I reckon that was the reason that there were so many boys that were out on the branches, creeks, and ball games on Sundays. Almost every Sunday, there was a crowd of boys that gathered at the various homes of the different boys. Sometimes, we would play games at the home where we had gathered, and sometimes we would go where we had the consent of the parents to ride the calves, or the yearlings. We would make up a small purse for the boy that could 4ide some outlaw of a large calf or a wild yearling the fartherest. I remember one time that we had up a large variety of bad yearlings and wild cows. So we made up about two dollars for the one that could ride a three or four year old bull that we had on that day. A young man all dressed up for church proposed to ride the bull to a finish if we would make it another dollar. He would guarantee that he would ride to a finish so we made it up right there on the spot. We throwed down the rope that was on the bull after that young man had mounted the bull and was straight on him and given us the word go. Well, I just never saw such pitching in my whole life. He rode him well till the bull made a quick turn and bawled so loud that it was deafening to us. The young man went off over the bull’s head, and the bull stepped on the man’s leg and tore the fellow’s breeches so badly that we gave the man the three dollars anyway for he would have to buy another pair of pants.

Then it happened. A cowboy from Oklahoma just made a turn for the steer. He had no help to catch him, nor to mount him, nor to ride him. You could tell from his action that the way that bull had acted and treated his former rider had activated this man to that place; that he was master of the situation. This cowboy took care of him in good order. The bull tried in every way to get rid of him, even to lying down and rolling over. But the cowboy just stepped off as he lay down and back on him as he got to his feet. It did not take much of the punishment the boy dealt the bull to bring the bull to the place where we were all standing. And he stood still till the man got down. There was nothing left on the bull to show that he had been used at all except there was not a dry hair on the bull. He looked every inch a well-worked steer. When the crowd wanted to pay this cowboy for the riding, “No,” was his answer. That broke up the game that day, but we kept up the game for the sport and we usually paid off for the one that could ride a bad yearling the fartherest.

As to our calf riding, if we did not have any calves of our neighborhood that we were allowed to ride, as we grew a little older, we would round up a few wild ones out of the woods. We would accept bids from the boys that wanted to ride, and what they were really willing to ride on a guarantee basis. In so doing, we made a little profit over what it cost us to get the cattle up and clear up what damage was accrued, if any. Many of us that had never known anything about riding learned how to ride. Some did make very good riders in after years.

Some Sundays, we would go foraging. If we did not make our meal on that day, we did not eat at all. We would take our bows and arrows and sling shots, and of course, our dogs. For that was usually the place our dinner came from. If it was fall of the year, we would gather and eat blackhaws, persimmons, and huckleberries. Sometimes, we had pretty good luck with the bows and arrows and sling shots and brought down a good bird or two. But always the dogs would tree two or three rabbits. Very often, we had barbecued rabbit and sweet potatoes.

One day the dogs ran two rabbits into the same hollow log. That log was only about 4 or 5 feet long ad was open at both ends. Those were the easiest ones to capture pf any that we ever caught. They were the fattest, too. It was about 1 pm when we got them so we were ready to cook and eat. We went to the creek to find plenty of water. It happened also there was a large flat sand rock there in the run of the creek. It was rather cool in January and we built up a big fire on that sand rock and cooked our meat. We had brought along several biscuits and salt aplenty. We pretty soon had the meat cooked and we had a feast that we certainly enjoyed. As it was so cool and our appetite was satisfied, we kept setting on that big flat rock. On account of it being so cool, we lingered along and fed more and more wood to the fire. When we were about ready to leave, although we were all still on the rock, the old sand rock got so hot that it exploded with a loud blast and shed us all off into that water. As luck would have it, there was not one of us that was hurt, but we were all scared in an inch of our lives. After that, when we got ready to build a fire, we were always sure that it was not on a sand rock.

To be continued…

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Pappa’s Childhood (part 8)

G.M.C. Massey, 1952

G.M.C. Massey

My grandfather, G.M.C. Massey, writes more of his youth growing up in late 19th century rural East Texas in this section from my mom’s partial edit of his manuscript she titled “Pappa’s Childhood.”

When I was about 12 years of age, I remember that we were at Hopewell Church during a district meeting. My parents were Primitive Baptist and they did not have protracted meetings but once or twice a year, they would have what called a district meeting. We were living about 15 miles from there, so we were down there for the full time. There were no boys at the place that we were putting so I preceded to go out to the orchard and ate all the peaches that I wanted; then to the wagon to pilfer among the things that my mother had brought along in the trunk. I found her snuff bottle. I had seen some of my acquaintances put a lot of snuff off the knife blade in behind their lower lip and they got away with it okay. They were used to doing that from a way back. I just proceeded to stuff a lot of it behind my lips and it was not very long till I had to go to the well and pull up a bucket of water and wash out my mouth. I drank some water and my head began to swim. I went to the wagon and made me a pallet and la6y down. Soon, I had to let off steam. The world was turning around and I was the sickest kid you ever saw. I just sat on the bottom of the wagon bed and vomited out on the ground as well as the wagon side. Mother noticed that I was absent from the house a long time and she came out to see about me. When she asked me about it, I was ignorant of what it was, of course, but it did not take her but a little while to figure it out. You know that was the snuff that I needed for the rest of my whole life. All that mother had to say to me was, “Do you remember what you got into down at Chuck Wilson’s?” I could go to the store or to town for snuff for mother as many times as they would send me, but all the snuff in the world was not temptation to me.

When I was about 13 years, a bunch of boys promised me that if I came to the 4th of July celebration at the schoolhouse that they were going to beat up on me till my folks would not know me. I told my father about it and he said nothing, but I noticed that he was preparing to go to the society that night. When the time and opportunity came for them for them to spring the trouble, my father was on hand. He was disguised a little, and they didn’t realize that it was him. When they began the fight, he said to them for one at the time to get into it; that I was able to handle them one at the time. By the time I had put two of them out of the way, the rest of them were gone.

When I was about 14 years of age, and was in the advanced class in arithmetic, we were using the old Davies Arithmetic. We were on page 207 and the 32nd example. The problem was like unto this: A and B could build a certain wall in seven days. A and C could build the same wall in five days. And B and C could build the same wall in nine days. How long would it take A, B, and C working together to build the wall? Well, we tried the example for several days and failed to come to a solution of it. The teacher told us that he was not going to tell any of us how to do it, but he was going to give a dollar to the one that worked it out.

That gave me something to think about and to work on after I got my lessons for the next day. I would get down the book and begin going over that old problem. It seemed that I had tried every rule in the arithmetic book that could apply to this particular case. Then one night I began a system of analysis that I had learned before and worked along that line until I was thoroughly exhausted. Being very much vexed with the thing, too, I went to bed. After I was in bed, I just lay there and thought about the example or problem, till at last I went tto sleep in that state of mind. After awhile, I dreamed it out and in the dream, I was at the schoolhouse working it on the blackboard, and when I got it I awoke. While I could see the problem on the blackboard, I just got up and went and lighted the lamp and sat down at the table and put it on paper. All this had awakened my father who had been worrying with me over the problem. He asked me what was happening and when I told him, he had to get up and see what I had done. When he saw the problem worked out in as simple analysis as were ever seen, he wandered. He said that the Lord had had something to do with that for that could not be denied. Well, I went to bed and slept well till the dawn. Then I could hardly wait to get to the school and put the problem on the board before the teacher got there. But I did get there and had it put on the board in good order before Mr. Craddock got there. When he got there, he hailed me with, Well, Cade, who helped you get that?” Upon being told that it was my work, he said that he knew that somebody was going to get it, and he had as soon believe that I would as anybody else in the class. Then I told him how I labored night after night to get it, how my father had worked with me (but that my father was very limited in that knowledge for he had never gone to school but eight months in his life for he came up during the time of the Civil War. He had learned with me the most that he knew.) So I won that dollar and I kept it a long time – till I needed it so much for something one time. When I turned it loose, it was with regrets. But this episode taught me that perseverance would help you to win.

To be continued…

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Pappa’s Childhood (part 7)

G.M.C. "Cade" Massey

G.M.C. “Cade” Massey

More from Granddad’s memoirs of his youth in 19th century rural East Texas, as edited by my mom into a manuscript she titled “Pappa’s Childhood.”

We, on the farm, looked to the Fourth of July as a great day for we never worked on that day. We usually went picnicking, fishing, and hunting as a diversion and as a relief from work – a day of pleasure – for children as well as the older folks of the community and usually, we were run in in the afternoon with a rain. We always tried to have our cotton run around the last time and when the 4th was past we just run the middles out and that was “IT.” We had it layed by. In other words, we were through working the cotton except probably going over it with the hoe to get a few weeds that we had missed before. Sometimes on the Fourth, we had a picnic Communitywide and a speaking by the candidates if it happened to be an election year. One Fourth of July I well remember that we had a big day at Yantis, Texas. Dick Hubbard was running for governor. We had heard so much of his height (6 feet 4 or 6) and weight that most of the people had never seen the man and were desirous to seeing him. Truly, he was a sight to see and a great experience to hear, too. For when he was talking naturally along as in a speech, his voice seemed as the voice of a lion. And he seemed to be anointed. It seemed to be so strong that you could hear the singles of the housetop rattle. Well, he tipped the scales at 400 pounds and when he walked across the floor, you could hear as well as feel the floor give under his weight. That was a real experience for me and it gave us children to think as well as talk about. He was elected, but I was so young that I do not remember just how good a governor he made, but history gave him a good report. That Fourth of July was long remembered and went down with the children of the community as a great day.

In those days, there were so few people and so few idle people, that no one fished very much. So the fish were in abundance and I remember the first time that we went seining. The men began one day to talk of what they would do if they had a seine. My uncle was running a cotton gin and had several pattern of bagging of the Jute nature. He proposed that they take a piece of that and attach trace-chains to it for sinkers and staff at the last, and let us boys go along and hold it up behind. The next day in the afternoon, after they had constructed it, we went to the largest near stream (Lake Fork) and we did some fishing by seining. As there had never been any fishing like that ever done there, in the course of a very few hours, we had all the fish that we thought we could possibly use. We caught a bottom bed of two horse wagons full of fish. We had no way of taking care of it as we have today and we gave to the neighbors all that they could use. That evening, I remember that we ran onto a snag we thought and one of us boys examined to see what was holding the seine. It was a big turtle as big as a washtub. We had a time landing it, as it cut the seine up pretty bad before we got him out. That was my first experience fishing with a seine. From that time as long as I was tempted to go fishing, I never wanted to fish any other way than seining or grabbling.

I remember at one time that my conscience condemned me over taking a part in a play that had been me for a school exhibition. I just went to the teacher and told him that I couldn’t do that part, for that it was too bad and I couldn’t feel right about it since I had read it over; and if they could possibly get along with it without me that I just couldn’t do it. They let me out of the play, and after that they have always brought me the play and let me read it over and select the part that I could or would play. It worked out for the best.

Another thing that I noticed on the playgrounds: there were games that started on the playgrounds that I could not enter into with enthusiasm, and I just refused to do. Some of the boys resented my rebellion and took it up with the teachers. When it was found out that the game was of the nature that it was, the teachers not only wouldn’t do as the boys had asked, but they placed a ban on the games on the school grounds.

One day, when we were fixing to go squirrel hunting, I was sitting on the edge of the gallery and a boy friend of mine was tinkering with the gun in some way. It went off and just missed me and went through the top of the gallery and my mother intervened. She kept us from going on that hunt and ever after with that careless boy friend of mine. She only allowed me to hunt with a cousin of mine or by myself. It was on one of those occasions that I fired a shot at a big owl and missed. But I went home and told Mother that I killed the biggest old owl. She wanted to know why I did not bring him home, and you know what I told her? I told her the very wrong thing. I told her that it was so heavy that I could not carry it. Then she knew that I had not killed an owl at all for she knew that a matter of fact that the owl was just a bunch of feathers, and practically weighed nothing at all. After that, I was careful what I told her that I had wasted a shot for. I had to bring home the proof of what I shot at or have good alibi for it.

To be continued…

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Pappa’s Childhood (part 6)

Massey memoir manuscript page

Massey memoir manuscript page

Continuing “Pappa’s Childhood”, mom’s edit of her father’s memoirs of his youth in rural east Texas circa the late 19th century.

Most of our teachers had spelling matches on Friday or speaking. Usually, we had spelling one Friday and speaking on the next. I thoroughly enjoyed it either way. On every other Friday night, we had a Public Debate, and the fathers of the students took part in that. There was a lot of enthusiasm added to it by our fathers’ interest in the debates. Soon, the interest widened to include people of the adjoining communities until it grew to greater proportions than the teacher had expected. All this caused our school to be a really desired position among the schools of the country. That gave us the advantage of getting some of the best talent that the country teachers had. With the best teachers came the best disciplinarians that the country had. From such teachers as this, I got ambition, enthusiasm, and inspiration that helped me so much when in after years I began to teach school.

We had many and various games. Some were seasonable, such as kite flying, mumble peg, rooting the peg and marble playing. In the wintertime when it was cold enough to want violent exercise, we turned to such games as Deer and Dogs. In Deer, one of the boys took him another boy for his dog, and a third boy took still another boy for this dog. This went on till all the boys were taken up except the boys that were to be deer. The deer were given time to go out into the bushes and hide. Then the dogs were turned loose to go out there and jump the deer. When they got the trail and began to yelp on the trail, the men would make a run for the dogs. The man that got the most deer would win the first round. We only had time each day for one round, as the two short recesses, one each morning and evening were too short. Noon was the only time that we could play that game, because when the bell rang for books, we did not have time to get to the school from the woods in time for study.

One time, we had a new teacher that old us that he had no rules for is to follow and probably never would. He said we all knew what was right and what was wrong and as long as we did that that was not wrong, we would have no rules to follow. But if we got to doing things that were wrong, he was bound to set forth a rule against it. If we wanted to go through the term without any restrictions, we had it in our power to have a full school without any rules. We were allowed to play any games in school that were not dangerous and were morally right. That gave us plenty of room for the development of our thinking faculties as well as our muscles. Wee had races, jumping contests, climbing, playing marbles and many kinds of games with the marbles, such as, Seven Up, Negro, Tract Middle Buster, and finally we [got] to playing Keeps. Then the teacher stepped in and taught us that Keeps must be cut as that was immoral and was classed as gambling. So we dropped that like it was hot, and really it was.

We played Squirrel where the squirrel would climb a tree and the dog would tree him, so to speak. Then the man would try to catch the squirrel or get him to going from tree to tree and mage get to where the dog could catch him. One day, one of the boys climbed so high in a tree and trued to swing over into another tree and the top of the sapling that he had climbed was dead. It being winter there, the leaves of the trees were off them and the boy did not know that the tree was dead. He began to swing the tree till it would bend over toward the next tree and the top of the dead tree broke. The squirrel fell sure enough. The dogs covered him and thought for a great victory, but it turned out that the boy was hurt very seriously. Then the teacher cut out tree climbing. That stopped the Squirrel game at school, but we played it on Sunday or at any time through the holidays that enough of us got together. At school, there were always some that had rather play ball than any other game, so there was always a ball game going on unless there was snow on the ground. If that was the case, we had snowballing going on.

We had a neighbor living on the quarter section east of our quarter who became a close friend of my father. You see they had similar necessities such as hunting together on Friday or Saturday nights. When that time came. The two families were parked at the same place for the purpose of company for the mothers. The oldest child of that family was a girl and a very pretty girl, too. I was very much infatuated with her. I guess we were about 12 years old and were so fond of each other that we wanted to live at the same place. On Saturday night when we were at the other family’s home, we were playing together and she asked my why we could not live at the same place all the time. Then we could always have each other to play with and we went to the mothers with our desires. They told us to ask Mr. Musgrove about it when they came in. They were so late coming in that we were asleep, but upon awaking the next morning, we went to Mr. Musgrove and asked him for the girl to live at our house. Her father told us that if we still felt that way when we were grown up that it would be all right with him. We contended that we wanted it that way now. But that was that. It did not alter the existing status. We kept playing together till we were 14 years of age when we moved away about 15 miles.

To be continued…

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Pappa’s Childhood (part 5)

G.M.C. Massey family circa 1931

G.M.C. Massey family circa 1931

Guest blogger G.M.C. Massey, my grandfather, continues the tale of his childhood in rural East Texas in this next segment from my mom’s edit of his notes, Pappa’s Childhood.

I remember when I was 8 years old, my father was boiling off syrup for a neighbor and I was picking cotton by myself. The cotton stalks were so high that I couldn’t see the passing people on the public road. We didn’t have any highways. But as I watched a wagon pass, I could only see the wagon sheet on the account of the road being worn down and the fence high as well as my size at that time. I mused on what I could not see. I imagined that there was no team drawing that load, and from that stemmed the thought that some day, I would see wagons going along that had no team tied to them.

In 1890, I went with my father to Sulphur Springs and we visited the ice plant and I saw the machine at work. After that, we could have ice in the summer if we could afford it.

As a school boy, I heard several stories of the Indians and they always filled me with wonder and awe. One day, Mother revealed that I had Indian blood in me – that she was a quarter Indian herself. I knew there was a great difference between an Indian that was not civilized and a part Indian that was amalgamated with the White Blood, and was as well domesticated as our was; but when I thought of Oklahoma and the Indian I had the idea of a the wild Indian – that looked upon the white man as an enemy. I still held them in admiration as far as courage and bravery and stealth were concerned.

When I was nine years of age, it was announced that Oklahoma State was going to be carved out of the Indian territory. The people were allowed to make a run from the state line for a quarter section of land (160 acres). The land was surveyed out and a stake set for each quarter. They used horses to make the run, and the first man to put his stake on the quarter was allowed to keep it. That caused some of the runners to commit a crime against others for if some of them found their quarter, or their most desired quarter occupied, they might kill and conceal their crime till the matter was settled in their favor. Anyway, that was my first understanding about Oklahoma affairs.

I remember as a child that when I had an urge to do something that there was a thing of some sort deep within me that said to me DON’T. Sometimes I did and at other times I didn’t. And I noticed too that I would feel that I had done right and that at other times I had done the very wrong thing. Even then I realized that I was always haunted by something that was tugging at my heart to do the right thing. In every instance that I can remember, I have had a warfare going on within me.

In my early years, it was very far to the pine mills where lumber could be obtained for building. There were not yet any hard-wood mills established, therefore the men of the country had to resort to their ingenuity to furnish such materials as were needed to accomplish the purposes that arose in their improvements of the frontier conditions. They used the red oak trees that was one of the prevailing quick growths of the big woods.

They would cut down the trees and saw them into blocks of from two feet in length to five feet in length. They would stand them on end and block them into many bolts. When they were yet standing on ends, they would also hart them by separating the bolt from the inner part, or hart from the sap part. In the case of a very large tree, they would double hart the bolts in the case of palings, at least. Then, with an implement called “Fro,” they would accomplish the further splitting of the bolts of timber to the thickness required for the purpose that it was intended: boards for covering a building for the purpose of sheltering from the rain; or of fencing the garden or yard from the animals that roamed the outside or the fowls of domestication from spoiling the vegetables or the growing flowers of the yard.

When the hard-wood mills were established, they could lay aside the crude ways of obtaining these building materials. They obtained the boards and palings very much easier, and of course, they were very much easier to build with, too. With the invention of the various forms of building wire (barbed wire, hog wire, and poultry netting – then screen wire), we have gone a long way in the inventions of these things.

To be continued…


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Pappa’s Childhood (part 4)

G.M.C. Massey walking on sidewalkMore of Mom’s edit of Granddad’s memoir manuscripts. Some of this has been shared here before but presenting in sequence this time.

We only had ice cream when it snowed enough that we could gather it up. If we had ice in the summer, we had to gather it in the winter in sufficient quantities that we could keep it over till summer. In 1888, a Baptist preacher went to St. Louis to a convention and while there. He visited an ice plant. He witnessed the making of ice. When he returned to his church and reported that he had witnessed the making of ice up there, his congregation didn’t believe him. They preferred charges against him for lying and turned him out of the church for lying.

There were so many varmints that we had to give the chickens and other fowls plenty protection or the coons, rats, opossums, owls, and hawks would get them. I remember that on one occasion, we had an old straw-necked game hen that had a few chickens. That particular hen was bad to fight anyway. One late afternoon, I had just fed the old hen and her two-week old chickens and was sitting on the doorsteps eating a pan of clabber and watching then when all of a sudden we heard a great commotion. A blue darter hawk dived down and grabbed up one of the chicks and the hen mounted up like a volcano. She rode the hawk to a great distance till the hawk let the chick loose. The chick fell in a bunch of grass in the corner of the fence and the old hen followed the chick to the ground. Soon, she had her little brood along her side as they had been before the attack. We had to doctor the chick, but the hawk failed to get to eat that chicken for her dinner that day.

My parents were poor and needy but they were religiously inclined. They were of the Primitive Baptist Faith and didn’t believe in Sunday school at all so outside of the home teaching, I knew very little of religion. When I was small, I was interested several times in religion and would feel something tugging at my heartstrings. If I had had any teaching along that line it is impossible to know what the effect might have been.

The country was wild and undeveloped. Our neighbors were none in sight, and most of them from a mile to many miles. But at that, they saw after one another in sickness, death, or in distress than people do here where they live as close as 50 to 100 feet of each other. It makes me ashamed now when I think of it.

Then we only had oxen for drawing the wagon. I mean WE. Other people that were more fortunate had horses or mules for beasts of burden, but as for us, we drove to church in an ox-wagon. My father kept a horse to pull the plow and to ride, but if we needed to go in the wagon, he yoked up the oxen. He also used the oxen to haul railroad ties for the purpose of cash for groceries, etc.

We lived so far out from town and our mode of travel was so slow that about two trips to town a year was all we made. It was 18 miles to town and it took three days to make the round trip if there was much business to attend to. The roads were rough, muddy, or sand.

I remember very well that when the fall of the year came that Father was careful to pay all his outstanding obligations before he would take us to town to get the necessary clothes for winter. I noticed that he was very careful to not buy anything that he couldn’t pay for; and that caused him to do the things by himself that he so much needed to have a helper to do. He went so long without a team for he wasn’t able to buy a horse without owing for it when he had no assurance of a way to pay for it.

At that time, we had very little conveniences and nothing of the modern way of living. My mother did all of her cooking on the fireplace, and it was the same fireplace that we all had to use to keep ourselves warm. We roasted sweet potatoes and eggs in the hot embers and also roasting ears. We had no coal, but an abundance of wood. We had potracks in the chimney that were used to boil the vegetables in pots that hung on the potracks during the morning hours, and a big oven that they cooked bread by getting the oven hot and then putting the biscuit dough or the corncake dough into it. Then the lid over that with the hot coals over that. The results were the best bread that you have stuck your tooth in. We had then the very best eating that anyone had ever had since. But it was very trying on the mothers of that time who had all of this to do while it was in the way of the ones that bathed themselves in indolence about the fireside. Many times that I can remember my father was the victim of a wrenched back for he was improving a new farm and the loads that he sometimes had to take were entirely too much for a man to carry by himself. When one of these cases turned up, it was sometimes weeks before he could navigate to any advantage. He would bake his back to the fireside by lying before the fire at first and later by sitting straddle of a chair with his back to the fire.

Mother had to make all of our clothes – shirts, coats, pants, and even our socks and gloves. She did all her sewing on her fingers as were not able to afford a sewing machine. I remember the first time that she had an opportunity to buy one. A machine agent came to our place and he was a local man. He knew us very well and he offered to take some cattle in on the machine. I offered to put my only yearling in on it at $5.00 and my father had three or four head that he put in. We owed about $40 on it to be paid that fall. I was twelve years of age, so before that time my mother had to do all of her sewing on her fingers, and she made all of our clothes, our under clothes, our shirts, our pants, evens Father’s pants as well as all of the bedclothes, even our socks, her stockings, our gloves and if I have missed anything, she made that, too. To cap it all off, she even carded the wool and the cotton and spun it into thread that she knitted into our socks and what have you. Don’t think that I missed out on any of that for I learned to do all of that as well as she could, but not as fast. I was sixteen years of age when I got my first ready made shirt and pants. The next year, I got my first ready made suit.

We were so poor that we didn’t have biscuit for breakfast (unless company came), only on Sunday morning. I had to carry cornbread to school for lunch and that just killed my soul. Then and there, I promised myself that if I ever married, I would have biscuit for every breakfast if I wanted it, and for any other meal, too.

When we were able to afford a team of horses for the wagon, I was big enough to plow and I realized what the extra horse really meant for I could see myself growing up.

To be continued…

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