Conclusion of “Pappa’s Childhood,” a section of my grandfather’s memoirs, edited by my mother, Dell Buller, from some of her father, G.M.C. Massey’s manuscript notes.
After about a year, we bought an old improved place near Pleasant Grove. We let the unimproved 50 acres go in the deal. I was very glad when I found that my father had sold out and we were going to move. There were a lot of improvements to make before we could occupy the place, but nothing that we couldn’t do. So in the summer of 1896, we tore down and rebuilt the house and tore out and rebuilt a lot of the fences so that we could utilize the acreage that we had there to the best advantage.
We had moved away from all the kinfolks we had, but Father had made the move for the church advantage. We had been living 18 miles from the church of his choice (The Primitive Baptist). Noew we were two or three miles of the church (Hope Well). After this, we were sure that Pa, as we called him, was going to knock off on Saturday and go to church. That was not going to mean too much to us for if there was anything that needed to be done before the next week, we had to stay home and do it. When that was done, we had the rest of the day for our diversions. This didn’t amount to more than rabbit hunting, bird-hunting with bow and arrow, sling shot, or n***** killer, or with rocks. For sometimes we brought in the meat with only a rock as the instrument.
We got started to school at the first of the year and we got a better deal. The children were of a different nature than at the last school. They made me feel like I was wanted and it was easy for me to make a place for myself. When I started to school that year, I was wearing a red hat and I had a brown shirt and brown jeans pants and red russet shoes. I was nearly red headed and was freckle-faced. The boys got to calling me Red before they had time to learn my name. I went to school there till I graduated and went out to teaching, and I was always known as Red as long as I lived in that part of Texas. Yet, when I meet any of the boys that I went to school with it is still “Red” that I hear as a salutation. I may not recognize the person, but I recognize the place from which they came.
From this time on till I had grown to manhood, I was well pleased with my surroundings for when I started to school at Pleasant Grove high school (Ivanhoe), it seemed that some one had moved away and that I just filled in. I fit where I had set down and everything just moved off as if it was that all the time.
You know that all boys are very desirous of publicity and front page stuff. In our youngsters even back in the 1890’s, it was no different. Only we didn’t have the means of publishing. We had no papers to write within many miles. We decided we would edit our own paper. Then we could put in it just such information as we wanted the rest of the world to know. Our families always had access to our paper as we wanted them to know of all our exploits anyway.
There were several of us that wanted to have honorable mention. We had a modest rivalry among us. Each of us was trying to excel in something. If that isn’t carried too far it is just fine, but if it is pushed too much, it may turn out to somebody’s hurt, as it did in our case.
There was a steep bluff right where we were constantly playing. This was on the bluff side of a deep branch or creek. It ran along with the rim of the creek, I guess for a quarter of a mile. It was all the way from 20 to 30 feet in height and most of it was almost perpendicular. There were many young trees growing on the bluff and all along on the face of it. There was at one place that it was straight up. At this point, there was very few of any kind of growth. It was a tempting place to think of making a dangerous jump, but we played it up as a courageous accomplishment. One Sunday, we all took our dinner to the bluff. Blackhaws and huckleberries were in season and we had agreed that we were going to make a day of it.
This particular Sunday, we had it planned that somebody was going to jump from the ttop of the bluff. There was to be a prize given to the one that made the first attempt. Three or four of the boys were anxious to be favorably mentioned in the little paper, but Alva Miller was the first to get to the place and he jumped. The rest of the boys wanted to see how he came out. Alas, he did not do so well. He got a bad sprain and that scared the other boys who did not jump at all. The successful contender begged that it not be mentioned in the paper as he did not care for that publicity. The rest of us agreed as we had to carry him home, and he had to miss school for several days. We had a hard time patching up an excuse for him. To the best that I can remember the excuse we used was climbing trees that were growing on the bluff and jumping from one to another and slipping off the one that was jumped from.