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…