Saturday, January 30, 2010


Wouldn't it be good, if we found some old diaries or letters? If there are any, I don't remember hearing about it. How much money would it take to make that kind of move, with that many people and all their animals? Maybe they had to hang on with their toe nails until they got some crops planted, harvested, and sold. It wasn't until 1906 that they built the house. I don't know if they did it all at once, or in segments.

They must have pretty soon dug up the stones from the old dugout and built the stone building that sets there now. When we got there, the barn was down the hill south of the house. I remember it seemed pretty complex (to a boy of three). Under the stanchions and mangers I found a goose nest. It was full of feathers. The deeper I dug, the more eggs I discovered. I don't remember a flock of geese, but I know there was a flock. Maybe family members took them away, more likely the coyotes dined on them. There was one old gander who lasted a long time. He was a character we'll talk about later.

Thanks to Pallie! She has news from the past. Daddy told her that he and Mother, "were to move there and take over the duties of Grandpa, January 1, but Grandpa died prematurely on Christmas Eve." Pallie thought "prematurely" was a strange word to use for a man who was already 92 years old. I tend to agree. January 1, 1941, makes sense to me, because I always thought Donnie was not sitting alone -- the reason I needed to hold her as we drove. She would have been about 3 months, three weeks old.

When we moved in, Grand Ma's old black cast iron wood burning cook stove set at the east end of the long room in the main house. We had a four burner kerosene cook stove. They were all in a row. At the right end of those burners was the oven. I think Mother cooked on the wood burner for a while after we were there. Probably for heat in the room. But the first remodel job as spring came was to move the cast iron stove out and to cut a window opening directly behind where that stove has set. I remember how dark it was in that part of the room. The south wall of that room had two doors onto the porch with a window between them. So the window of the east door was the only light for that end of the room and there was a roof out over the porch to cut off some of the light.

The next project was to tear the porch off the two-roomer that set east of the cistern. Then that two room section was jacked up and sets of truck wheels were rolled under the building. The rooms were lowered onto beams attached to the frame work holding the wheels in place. The rooms were pulled a little distance to the southeast. There they were set down on foundation posts and stones, to become the feed bins for a new barn that would be built on in the near future.

It didn't occur to me at the time, but as an adult I finally realized that Daddy never did have just one job. He was a farmer with dairy cows. He had a four man shearing crew. They were gone about 4 weeks every spring shearing flocks of sheep on ranches through the Texas panhandle, the northeast corner of New Mexico, the southeast corner of Colorado, the southwest corner of Kansas, down across the panhandle of Oklahoma and home again. Then we had Papa's flock of 200 ewes to shear, the fleeces to tie and tamp into bags and ship to market. On the farm we had a feed binder and hay baler. In addition to our own work, we did custom work with those for neighbors and family. Daddy was also the finest of carpenters and cabinet maker. There were always outside work of that type calling him. And the constantly expanding projects of building improvements on the farm. And the bee hive inside the kitchen.

Friday, January 29, 2010


Grand Pa Easley was bedfast for five years. Aunt Pearl was his youngest daughter. She and her husband, Uncle Everett Davis, agreed to take care of him and manage his farm. By December 1936, Mother and Daddy were married. A few weeks before that, Grand Ma Easley had died. I don’t know how long they were married when they arranged with Grand Pa and / or his estate to buy his farm. Sometime in 1940 Uncle Everett and Aunt Pearl requested to be relieved of their assignment. He wanted to move to the State of Washington to take a job in defence work. So it seems that Mother and Daddy agreed to move in ahead of whatever the original plan had been. They would assume the responsiblity of Grand Pa’s needs. And since they may have already been making payments on the farm, everything should move along smoothly.

Grand Pa died Christmas Eve, 1940. (The next day I was 3 years old.) He had one brother, Uncle Burnett Easley, a Baptist Preacher, in Texas, who was two years younger. Uncle Burnett died two days later, December 26, 1940. That resolved any problems related to Grand Pa's care and Uncle Everett and Aunt Pearl's move. I always thought it relaxed the need of our imminent move. I remember the move. I don't remember the when. It might have been early in January or as late as March 1941.

We had a 1937 pickup. We didn't have much. I think someone had already moved some of the stuff. There were things in the pickup bed. The part I remember most, Mother had me climb onto the passenger side of the seat. She sat Donnie between my legs. I held around her middle while Mother drove us to our new home.

Wow! What a big wonderful place. I think of the house as having two fronts. The front on the west faced the road. That part was a "two-roomer," north to south. Centered behind those two was a room about as wide as those in front, but probably half again as long. It's front faced south. On the north side of that room was a lean-to about 8' wide and the same length as the room. The shape of the whole was a "T" with the lean-to filling out the width filling out on the north so that was all one straight wall, front to back. A porch ran the ful length of the front, turned and ran around the "T" part of the south and continued along to the back wall. A cistern had been dug at the back southeast corner of the house. Then just beyond the cistern another "two-roomer" had been built in the same architecture as the rest. All exterior walls were board and batten, except the north wall of the lean-to had a type of clap board. The porch ran right on past the cistern and along the front (south) of those two rooms. So there were six large rooms with a lean-to.

The barn was dpwn the hill straight south. Then behind the two rooms that were separated from the main house, there was a square stone building, a small window in the back and one door in the front. It had no roof. But had an octaginal hall about 6 to 8 feet wide with a roof over the whole.

An old man had staked a claim on the property in 1895. Grand Pa and / or family bought it from him. When they moved there in 1900, there was a stone building about 10' by 15'. It was a good 100' east of the stone house behind the cistern and big house. That stone house to the east was roofed with a very sharp peak over the stone walls, then the pitch became much less steep and continued out for at least another 6' or 8' on the sides and the ful style extended out to the south also 6' or 8'. Those other buildings were not there and the stone house with octaginal walls was not there in that form. It has been a simple half dugout just to the east of it's present location.

I think the old owner had built and been living in the dugout. The family: Grand Ma and Grand Pa with 6 sons and 3 daughters, and at least one daughter-in-law, most of them approaching adulthood, had to make-do with those two stone rooms, the wide roofs and what ever covered wagons they had.

To Be Continued.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


GOOD GRIEF! How can we move on under conditions like these? Karla has almost swallowed her teeth. [Now a separate story. ] She also knows something about Uncle Dillon, Aunt Thelma, Mother and Daddy double dating down by the railroad track with marsh mellows, a bond fire and "love making" mid-century style, of course. And Dori, who is hanging you up and going off and leaving you? I thing this blogging is a great way to bait the lake. As soon as the bobbers begin to switch about, you know an unknown tale is about to surface. Thanks to all of you.

And by the way, I've tried to respond to some of your comments. But I'm not sure they're ever leaving my computer. Or they maybe just falling into the Grand Canyon.

I should explain. On the north side of the Shumaker farm, the Santa Fe Rail Road track ran along parallel to the highway from Eldorado to Olustee. That may have been the scene of the dating, to which Karla refers.

We may not get moved this trip either. There are still tales of amazement in the air. In his teens, Daddy bought an "Indian" motor cycle. (There's a great movie on DVD about one. It's called "The Fastest Indian on Earth.") When I was young it was rusting out by the trench silo west of Papa's barn. They, the Indians, are very heavy and the wheel base is rather long.

On a late Saturday afternoon, Daddy was riding his Indian on his way to "court" Mother. There had been a rain earlier in the week. Someone had been driving their car on the road in the mile that runs north to south along the side of the Shumaker farm. Because of the wet muddy conditions the car wheel ruts slid along from side to side of the road as the vehicle progressed in it's journey. By the time Daddy and his Indian came rolling along the path to courtship, the road had dried. He drove along the right side, as the ruts were taking up the left half of the path to future plans. But alas, the earlier car had begun to slide toward the right and came very near the bar ditch. The rider in wisdom told the Indian to leap the rut and take the path between the two ruts. No sooner was the thought conveyed to the machine than it made the manuver. However, what was supposed to have been a leap became something of a sag. The wheels of the heavy means of transport sunk irretreavably into the rut. For all the cleaver heaving of the driver on the seat of his engine, it refused to leave it's track and so was propelling, pelmel toward the ditch. With another fervent and earnest heave to the left the Indian simply lay down on its owner as they speed northward on a dirt road of disaster. They finally came to a stop.

Daddy dragged himself out from under the motor cycle to survey the damage. All was well..with the cycle, that is. But he had been rolled and ground into the dirt. To add insult to ingury, every button of his shirt had been popped off. He was too near the goal to turn back now. With the Indian upright, he eased it out of the rut and rode on. With an approach well anounced, he arrived in something less than dapper attire. He brushed the dirt off his jeans and shoes, took off the shirt and shook it out. While his future Mother-in-law began sewing new buttons onto his shirt, he borrowed the wash pan and cleaned up a little. His pride was the most wounded part of all.

Not to be out done, he took the horse next time. She was famous for shaking her rope knot loose. But Daddy knew what to do. He tied her securely to a misquite tree. I really don't know if they walked around the farm, ate supper, sat in the corner of the living room whispering, or what. Anyway the courting of the evening finally came to a close. The fine young dandy went out to mount his riding mare, but......... she was not there. He felt around in the tree, but the rope was not knoted where he had left it. Nothing to do but walk the 5 miles home in the dark. Moon light would have helped. But there was no moon that night. After walking a while, he heard his horse. She was grazing along the side of the road. He spoke to her in a soft and coksing voice. She moved on. He began feeling for the rope dragging on the ground. After a long while, he was finally able to grasp the rope. He climbed in the saddle. I think the story ended with the moon finally coming up a little before he got home.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


The "Poor Little Chickie's" story most probably happened in the spring of 1939. I think the "Visit to Aunt Lou" story was later that year. I only remember a few times Arnold Ray and his family coming. It seems the Mother and sister were there more than the Daddy. There are faint thoughts that others of our parents families were there, but I'm not sure who they might have been.

During the years at the "Two-Roomer" and "The Morgan Place" there are stories I remember being told after the fact. Those years were still in the Great Depression, The Dust Bowl Years. When the dust storms begin to blow in, Mother dipped sheets and blankets in a tub of water and hung them on nails over the windows and doors, to keep out some of the sand and dirt. When morning came one could see the imprint of each persons head on the pillow, surrounded by dust. Those storms of wind and dirt did not come just in the night. They sometimes blew for two or three days without letup. The dirt came in through every crack in walls, windows, doors and roofs.

The walls, both exterior and interior, were generally made of one inch by twelve inch boards standing on end, nailed at top and bottom to a two by four inch plate. Up and down studs to support the plate were two by fours at corners and each side of each door and window. The cracks between the exterior boards were covered with a two inch wide strip nailed in place. That style of wall was called "board and batten". As people were able financially they bought rolls of felt paper and tacked that to the inside. It helped keep out some of the air. If they got a news paper, after it was read, they glued it to the felt paper with a thin mixture of flour and water. Later they applied wall paper.

Daddy said the house walls shook so hard at times during those winds, they thought the house would collapse. They often pushed furniture against the walls hoping to stabilize the structure. But more often the shaking of walls and floors, jiggled the furniture out into the room.

Water was scarce and had to be drawn from a cistern or halled from somewhere. So to conserve, Mother often left her dish water from the breakfast dishes to use again for the dinner (noon lunch) dishes. On Christmas Day we unwrapped our gifts. Out of a nicely wrapped little cardboard box I retrived a little cast iron truck. I drove it into the other room, then came back and played with the box the rest of the day. When dinner time came, Mother went into the kitchen to prepare the food and found the dish water had frozen in the pan.

Time and thoughts began to lap over into 1940. I remember seeing Daddy out on the tractor at the Morgan Place plowing the field. I remember going to visit Grand Pa Easley. He was bedfast. His bed was to the west of the double windows looking out to the south and his old barn down the hill. A mile south was the Red River he had crossed in wagons pulled by teams of horses with his family in 1900 when they moved to Oklahoma Territory. On that day of our visit I don't remember seeing Aunt Pearl and Uncle Everett who took care of him and farmed his land. His farm was about 5 miles southeast of the Morgan Place.

I remember one morning when we got up, Mother was not at home. Daddy got me dressed in a pair of little brown riding britches Mother had made for me. We stood outside the house ready to get in the car. He looked me over to see that my hair was combed and everything else was in place. He said, "We have a new little sister at Dr. Crow's. Let's go see her." That seemed fine with me. The next remembering after climbing the staris to the doctor's clinic, was going into the room where Mother lay in bed, and there in the cruck of her arm was a little baby sister, "Donnie Carolyn Easley". Wow! What a fine feeling that was, to have my very own sister. It was September 7, 1940. So far as I knew, all was fine with the little did I know!

Monday, January 25, 2010


At some point in 1939 or 1940 Mother and Daddy had decided to buy Grand Pa Easley's farm. You know they had been dating since Mother was 14. (Well, I don't know if it was dating as it is done now, (2010 - 1931 = 79 yrs. later), definately not like now! This may be a little more than you ever thought you wanted to know, so shut your eyes and stop your ears, until you've read and heard past this place. Only a few years before Daddy died, I heard him say to a group of us, "We never knew each other or anybody else, sexually, until our marriage night."

You may open your eyes and ears. They had planned to be married in November 1936, but about that time, Grand Ma Easley died. They felt it was best to postpone a few weeks, hence the date, December 19, 1936. I also heard Daddy say a couple of times in their latter years (you may keep open) that around the time they were engaged, he had a pray with God. I don't know if he meant a vow. That he would do all he knew to walk as close to God as he knew. What ever family they had, he would dedicate to God, they might be a God loving and righteous family.

It may be possible that while he was still a youth, in his teens, that he conceived the hope that he could some day own Grand Pa's place. The first time he and Lawton stay there all night, I think Grand Ma and Grand Pa never did even light the lamp. As it grew dark they went to bed. Daddy and Lawton twisted and turned on their pallets as long as they could take it, but when they knew the Old Grands were sleeping, they slipped out the door, off the porch, and high tailed it for home.

Just before Daddy hit his mid-teens, he had two old pockets from one or another of his uncles. The took them apart, selected the best of each and rebuilt one good watch. Grand Pa had bought a mantle clock in 1885, he kept it oiled by dipping a turkey tail feather in kerosene and poking it up into the works. As he wiggled the feather around, he hoped he had oiled all the important parts. Over the years it had finally stopped running. Grand Pa knew about Daddy's success with the watches.
When the clock was 30 years old in 1930, Daddy was 15 years old. He ask Daddy to see if he could get it going again. As he took it apart, he kept finding all these bits of turkey tail feathers and dust from the dust bowl stuck to the gears coated with very aged kerosene. He washed all the parts with gasoline, put it back together and it ran like a clock for years. He also learned how to oil it with a little oil can.

It may have been some or more of times like those that planted the spark to own the farm. [We're still coming around to moving. But I gota go sleep before we can get the deal made. So until next time. Good Night and Sweet Dreams!]

Saturday, January 23, 2010


It might be good for you to know, that the roads in that part of Oklahoma were laid out in a one mile grid. Each square mile (one mile long on each side) contains 640 acres of land. The roads ran strait east-west or north-south every one mile apart, unless intercepted by a canyon, uncrossable river or creek, an impossible hill or a very large land holding by one owner. You might consider that you are looking at a checker board. Each square mile is called a section containing (as I have said) 640 acres of land. Each of those could be divided into half sections of 320 acres or into 4 quarter sections of 160 acres. [If you would just come over here, I could draw you a diagram much more quickly that I can type this explanation.] Each quarter of 160 could be sub-divided into two 80’s, or four 40’s and on down to 20, 10, and 5 acres or less. Now with all that under your hat band, let’s take a walk.

Our two roomed house on the Morgan Place was located near the west edge of the southeast quarter of that section. So we lived between a quarter or half mile west of the southeast corner. On a bright sunny morning Mother got her sewing box. It was a boot box in which Daddy had bought some cowboy boots. She sewed clothes on the sewing machine. But her needle work was crochet and embroidery, mostly embroidery. I don’t remember that she brought anything else, than the box.

We went out our driveway, turned east at the mailbox and walked down the road to the corner of our section. We turned south and walked several yards, then we climbed through the barbed wire fence on the east side of the road. (One mile south down the road we were on, at the southeast corner of that intersection is a farm that years later belonged to Aunt Kathryn and Uncle Perry Freeman.) So that was a whole new section of land. We were in the west half section (320 acres). In the middle was a house. Papa had a cousin, Ina and Tommy Braker, whose son and family lived there. We often visited them and they us. But that day we angled from our entrance to the plowed ground in a southeasterly direction to hit their driveway a little south of their house. The driveway was about a half-mile long, and we were crossing a quarter mile of plowed dirt.

We had climbed through the fence onto freshly plowed ground. That was tough going even for an adult. I became really tired very fast. Mother squatted down, had me climb onto her back and hold around her shoulders. Then she stood up and held the boot box behind her with both hands so I could sit there holding on. Wow! What a relief to a two-year-something boy. But I've always envisioned that scene in my minds eye, as a very courageous women, in a labor of love lugging a heavy load, not because she had to, but it was her choice.

When we got to the end of Braker's driveway, we turned east on the road south of that section(The house Daddy built for Kathryn and Perry was later just to the west of where we entered the road.) So we were a quarter mile east of the west corner of the section, and we still had at least a quarter mile or a little more to walk uphill to Aunt Lou Walker's house on the south side of the road. Aunt Lou's was always a fun place to go. She was the youngest of the five Maberry sisters. They had one brother who lived, Uncle Homer. Mother Shumaker was the eldest of those girls. Aunt Lou was married to Uncle Lloyd Walker, his brother Uncle Jess was married to their sister, Aunt Alta (they pronounced it, Alti), and the Walker brothers had a sister, Thelma Walker, who married Uncle Homer Maberry. It was their brother, Roy Walker and Amy, who lived across from us at the Two-Roomer. (There were a lot of those Walker brothers and sisters.)Wow! If you've kept up with all that, you've walked fast and are a smart guy or gal to boot. Thanks for coming along.

It seems there were some other women at Aunt Lou's that day. There was a noon meal a little while after we arrived. In the mean time I was busy playing on the enclosed side porch and the yard. On the side porch, Aunt Lou had a chalk deer, in a laying position.l I always thought it was neat to look at. I don't remember touching it or playing with it. It would have been about 18 inches long and maybe 10 inches at the top of its ears. I still remember they had it later when they moved to another farm. I think the farm to which we walked might have been called the "Sunny Thurman place". I believe Daddy picked us up later, so we didn't need to walk about 2 miles back home. I think it is such a grand thing that Daddy would do that for us ... no doubt it was mostly for Mother, me being so much smaller.


I am pretty sure we were living at the Morgan place when Mother and Daddy ordered 25 little chicks from a mail order hatchery. They had the brooder house cleaned out and every thing ready for the new babies. One day the mail man honked his car horn. Mother went out and found that he had brought the box (about 12 or 14 inches square with air holes punched in the sides and in the top of the lid, and an excelsior pad lay in the bottom) full of 25 peeping, cheeping chicks.
Mother was excited as she came form the mail box with the whole next year’s supply of both laying hens and frying roosters. With box under one arm and leading me with the other she took us all to the chicken house. She set the box of living peeps and cheeps on the floor and removed the top. She was about to show each little ball of fuzz where the feed and water was, when she suddenly remembered that she had left the burner of the kerosene cook stove going under our noon meal.
She told me to look carefully after the new little orphans, and away she went with confidence that her blooming little sprout could handle the job. I did. When she returned, she found how well! I had given each innocent, curious young life the most heartwarming hug and squeeze he or she would ever get. She probably
wasn’t gone more than 5 minutes. Every little chick lay dead. That entire story is one I definitely do not remember! But I’m certain it is true, for I’ve heard it told over and over without a word of it missing.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Our next home was "The Morgan Place." I don't know if we moved there from the Two Roomer or directly from the Sheep Range.

I should mention something I know almost nothing about. The family developed a "Company." I think it consisted of Papa and his married children. I don't remember hearing Lawton's name mentioned as a member of the Company. So he may not have been married when the company was formed. Thelma had married Mother's eldest brother, Uncle Dillon Shumaker, January 1936. So when I heard any reference to the Company, in my mind, it meant: Papa, Dillon and Daddy. That must have been used for renting land, buying the sheep and such like. I always thought that's why we were at the Morgan Place, "to increase the Family fortunes." Though I didn't know anything about fortunes in those days, and regarding the family, never heard of 0r saw any later.

If you would go south from Betty and Byrl's mail box, you should turn east at the first corner and continue east for two miles. There it is, on the north side. The house was back from the corner about a quarter mile. It was straight across from the Mitchell farm. They had a very long drive way.

My little play mate there was Arnold Ray. He was about my age. We played in my sandbox with little trucks. Arnold Ray's daddy worked for Mr. Mitchell. They were the only black family in all our area, southeast of town. Arnold Ray had an older sister. I remember being puzzled by that. The sister and the mother were about the same size, so I never figured out which was which. I think one of them was called Sally. His daddy's name was John. I don't remember knowing their last name. They came often to visit with Mother and Daddy

Monday, January 18, 2010


Good Morning! It is time to honor those who have called or written. I am very grateful and really appreciate hearing from you. I do hope this is not inappropriate to offer your statement to the readers without your permission. Lilly used to say, "It's often easier to get forgiveness than permission." So I am asking your sincere forgiveness, if I offend you by using your direct or indirect quote.

Comments from the 1st story: HOME.
Pallie: " reading and remembering."
Dori: "...such detail from ... 18 months old."
Karla: -- just "Ramblin" --
Rachel: -- on a "Romantic Porch" --

Comments on the 2nd story: BIRTH DAY.
Karla: "Love the prose!"

Comments on the 3rd story: THE COUNTRY TWO-ROOMER.
Karla: ...had not heard the 4 cent story.
Rachel: spoke about the different memories we lived with the same parents. (In case you didn't know, Rachel is my youngest sister. I am her eldest brother. Either she is 26 years younger or I am 26 years older.)

Commenting on the 4th story: STILL IN TWO ROOMS.
Dori was very concerned: "Poor pig ... did she die? How can you leave it like this?"

I responded in the 5th story: POOR PIG. POOR DADDY. trying to explain the thermal outter wear the pig was wearing. Thanks Dori!
Sherri: ...knew Daddy had been lost in a snow storm but didn't know all the story.
I bet there's way more to the story than I ever knew, too. Can you imagine such misery? How cold must he have been?

Four Comments on the 5th story: A FEW QUESTIONS.
Pallie: "...when the ground got so dry it began cracking open..."Mother Shumaker always said, 'It will rain before it is too late. It always does.' " "What faith! What a promise!'"
Donnie asked if they were on the sheep range one winter or two. The answer is that their first home was in the old house one mile south of Shumaker's. There they shepherded 200 sheep on 80 acres of oats that did not have a fence around it, only wheat fields. So they had to stay with the sheep all day to keep them out of the wheat. (The wheat people required that.) They put the sheep in a carral at night. They were married December 19, 1936. I don't know if the sheep were there right then, but it would have been, at least, the early weeks of 1937.
So then Donnie remembers Mother telling her that they were at the sheep range the winter of 1939-1940. [But that has me being two years old in December 1939. I alway remember being told I was 18 months old. All the pictures show us in winter clothing. Daddy tells about the snow pilling up against the side of the tent so deep that he put the bed against that side to keep the drift from caving in the tent. Age 18 months would have put us there in June 1939.]
Donnie says, "I'm thankful for being taught, 'to stick to it, Trust in God, He is in control'."
Paul: "I guess we've all heard the stories from Daddy but it's great to hear them from your 'knee high' point of view'." Thanks, Paul. That really does put everything in perspective.
Karla: Grand Daddy was at her house for about a week in the 1980's. She had him tell stories into her recorder. So she says, "...will transcribe them and maybe clear up some of the 'mystery' dates."

I want to thank you each for your interest, encouragement, comments and support. We've barely started and have such a long way to go.

Later today, Joanna and the boys (Sebastian and Leo. Elizza will be in school.) will drop me off at Van Gelder Bus Terminal in Rockford. I'll ride to Ohare Airport in Chicago. My plane for Italy leaves about 5:30 pm. By Air France, I should arrive in Paris around 8:30 am. tomorrow. At 1:00 pm (also tomorrow) we'll fly out to arrive in Torino, Italy at 2:40 pm. I hope you pray kind and benifical prayers for me as I go. I will think of you in your dry and dusty, wet and cold or whatever condition you may be in, as I look down at the snow cover glaciers of the Alp mountains. It will be beautiful beyond discription. I'd be delighted for you to come along.

Thanks to you all for who you are and for all you mean to me. God bless us every one!

Love and Prayers, Carlton!

Sunday, January 17, 2010


As I remember, our great-great-great-grandfather, William Easley was born in eastern/southeastern Kentucky in 1799 or 1800. After he was married they traveled to somewhere in the southern part of Illinois. In a few years, they had moved to northwest Arkansas. They had a house, a well, a general store and a ferry on White River. Some of the buildings were in Benton County. Others were over the line in Washington County.

William and (I think her name was Sarah) had four sons. The eldest, great-great-grandfather Burnett, had two sons, our great-grandfather, Francis Marion and Uncle Burnett. Grand Pa (Francis) and his Clemie (Margaret Clementine Brenson) were married after the Civil War. They moved from White River to north central Texas. There were born to them several sons and three daughters. I think our Papa (Pawpaw), Frank, was the sixth of the seven sons.

Francis and Clemy with all their family bought land in southwest Oklahoma Territory and moved there in 1900 when Papa was 13 years old. In Texas, Uncle Will, the eldest of the sons, had married Annie Luker. Later Papa went back to Texas and married Annie's youngest sister, Kate, our Grannie. He was already farming (January 1912) so they came home to Oklahoma, which had become a state in 1907. The four children of Frank and Kate were: Thelma (November 1912), Gordon (September 27, 1915), Lawton (September 1917) and Kathryn (February 1925).

Gordon is our Daddy, your Grand-Daddy. He married Ernesteen Shumaker, our Mother, your Grand-Mother, who was born January 7, 1917 and married December 19, 1936. So here we are. I'm the eldest of their ten living cildren: Carlton (1937), Donnie (1940), Pallie (1941), [Little Brother, still born, 1943), Linda (1944), Keith (1950), Ray (1951), Paul (1953), Esther (1955), David (1957), Rachel (1964). And there are all of you. Have a great New Year and the greatest of Lives!

Saturday, January 16, 2010


While we lived in that two roomed house west of Shumaker's, there were happenings that I can't place with a date from my own memory. I don't know when Daddy stopped work for Gene Cotton and the J. I. Case Impliment Co. in Eldorado. He was working there and they were living in Eldorado when I was born -- December 1937. Some-time 1938 we moved to the Two Roomer. I don't know which winter he crossed the 40 acre field. I don't know which winter he shepherded the sheep range. He must have stopped working in town by the time of the sheep range. Winters came December to February / March. So those could have been early 1938 or over 1938-1939. The blizzards I remember or know about were generally February or March.

During the time frame of those two autumns or winters: Grand Daddy Shumaker, who was a butcher, had an accident. A knife blade slid through his right hand. It cut the tendens of his fingers so he was never able to grip a knife handle again. After he lost that employment, he became a fultime farmer on a very rocky land. Mother Shumaker had typhoid fever and was very very sick for several weeks. Some time later she had bells plasy.

Shumaker's had moved from Texas to a rent farm where they lived east of Eldorado during all our lives. But they moved back to Texas for a while. Mother, Ernesteen, was born in Roby, Texas. I don't know if she was born before the first move, or before the second move. They rented that farm from the same family for at least 40 years. At times they offered to buy but the landlord didn't want to sell. After both the owners and renters had died, their son finally sold the place to Uncle Elbert.

I mention these hazardous and troubled times because they are part of who we are. They kept going. They never gave up. Tough times probably slowed them down, almost to a stop, but they kept pushing until the wheels began to turn again. It wasn't the wealth they gained, it was the character and faith they developed and grew.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Poor Pig. Poor Daddy.

Why did he cover the pig back up? Because, even at that age, he was a wise man. When he saw the snow had melted away from her body, he knew the cushion of air between her and the snow acted like a thermal blanket. If he would have dug her out, she would have begun to shiver -- and then he would have had a problem. To wait until she felt like coming out of the drift was the best decision. She survived to have a liter of 8 little piglets.

To the east of our house was a 40 acre field. Beyond that was Shumaker's pasture and down the hill was their house, barn and outhouse. When he was satisfied that all was well. He started on foot through the drifts and blinding snow to the warm and cozy coal burning stove in Shumaker's front room -- and to the loving arms of worried young wife and lonely little son. He could have followed the fence of the 4o acres along our drive way. Then he could have turned east along the fence beside the road. That would have brought him to the farm yard he sought. When he ran out of fence, the kerosene lamps in the window might have led him to the house.

Instead, he made another decision that might not have been so wise. He climbed through the barbed wire fence beside our house. Then started in a straight line from our house in a south easterly direction. It would save time and distance to reach the fence at the southeast corner of the field, go through the pasture gate and follow the fence along the road to the farm yard and the lights of family love. As he went the drifts would not have been so deep as in the road, but the wind was still furious. He kept in mind that a man lost in the dark will automatically walk in a circle to the left, so he continued to make adjustment for that. After a lot of very long, tiresome walking he finally came to the fence. It was in front of him, just as he had planned. It was the southbound fence on the east side of the 40 acres. He had missed the corner by a little. So he turned to the right along the fence. After a while he reached the corner, but there was no gate. Where it should have been was a metal sign wired into the fence to prevent runoff water from cutting a ditch. It was a sign that must have once been posted along a highway. He had been walking in a circle to the left all the time.

Fortunately for our Daddy, a week or two before, he had gone for a walk through that field on a Sunday afternoon and came upon that sign. Now he knew where he was, at the north end of that field, not the south. Now wisdom came to his aid again. It took a great deal of time to correct a very serious but sincere mistake. He followed the fences as guides laid out for his progress toward food, family, warmth and rest. He hadn't thought he was lost. How cold and tired he must have been. How he must have reprimanded himself. I don't remember how long all that must have taken. It surely must have been an awful night in a very awful storm.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


We weren't through living in those two rooms. It was beginning to be home. I remember a little about the east room. That must have been where most of life happened: living, cooking, eating, talking. I remember a highchair. The rooms faced south. The pig shed was north, behind the house. I believe there was a cow. The chickens were out there. I guess the west room had the bed.

The road to town ran east to west in front of the house. The driveway was quit long. For some reason that seemed to be normal. Our place was higher than the road and the mail box. At the mail box, we jogged west (to the right) just a bit to turn in at Roy and Amy's place. We could easily see their house and barns from our windows and yard. We turned left on the road to Mother Shumaker and Grand Daddy's farm. It must have been almost a half mile down there.

I don't ever remember hearing a name for our place. I don't know who owned it. We traveled forth and back from there to the sheep range. Daddy was at the sheep range several weeks -- not several months, but I don't know how long. I don't know who looked after our animals while we were gone.

It's unclear to me, how to juggle the time frame of our living there. We had moved by the time Donnie was born. Daddy still worked in town part of the time we were there. The weather was turning bad one morning. Daddy took Mother and me to Shumaker's as he left for work. It was snowing by the time he started home: a blizzard. He could hardly see and was breaking through heavy drifts as he came. They finally stopped him near our drive way in the middle of the road. He had to leave the car were it stuck and walked against the roaring north wind to the house.

Snow was filling the shed. The cow and chickens must have had enclosed shelter. Daddy was concerned about feed and water for the sow. He started digging her out. When he reached her, she was laying on her side with her back toward him. He lifted a shovel of show that reaveled her back. She was breathing, but didn't move. He noticed an air space, about a half inch or so, had melted around her. He knew she would keep warm and probably wouldn't eat in this circumstance. He covered her back and left her there.

(As I am running short on time tonight, I will write more tomorrow. So until then, the sow is going to have to endure this snow storm once again until I finish the story.)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I wasn't old enough to remember but sometime after I was born, we moved to a two roomed house a few miles east of Eldorado. The place was about a quarter to a half mile west of Shumakers. Across the road was Amy and Roy Walker's farm. Amy's mother, Mrs, Massie, lived with them. Mother said that Mz Massie found a small glass bottle, put a few tiny pebbles inside, stuck in the end of a couple of strings inside and screwed the lid on tight. They could tie it to the side of my crib and when I hit it, the little rocks rattled.

Daddy still worked in town. They had a sow in the pig pen. By now they a had a small flock of laying hens. Folks who didn't have chickens were glad to buy eggs from them. Mother and Daddy would sell their eggs to the rural farmers for the same price as the town store. So, on Saturdays they ran their egg route as they went to town for their weekly supply of groceries. The price of eggs had been rising and for a little while the price had stayed at 8 cents a dozen. Any extra eggs they could trade to the store for items they needed. One day as they made the egg run and collected 8 cents for each dozen, they were especially happy with so much money to buy a few extra products they really needed. When they arrived at the store they were dismayed to see that the price of eggs had dropped to 4 cents a dozen. There was nothing to do, but to buy less. On the road home they reran the egg route and returned 4 cents on each dozen they'd sold that day. It is with this integrity that Mother and Daddy lived their lives. It seems so extraordinary by today's standards. But that is how everyone lived back then. Maybe homemade rattles and 4 cent dozen eggs aren't so bad after all.


It absolutely happened and I don't have the slightest memory of it taking place. I think I remember hearing that both my grand mothers were present. Doctor Crow was on hand. Daddy must have been somewhere nearby. And Mother, of necessity, was available for the remarkable occasion.

They, Ernesteen Shumaker and Gordon Easley, were married December 19, 1936 at the 1st Christian Church in Altus, Oklahoma, the county seat. They first lived one mile south of her parents. It seem to have been a pretty rundown house already in those days. Their assignment was to look after 200 sheep who were grazing on 80 acres of green oats. The flock was corraled at night.

The sheep grew fat and then were sold. That seemed about the right time for Mother and Daddy to move West. They did, near 4 miles. Eldorado, Oklahoma is were they rented the house where I was born. It was Christmas Day, 1937. He had a job at the J. I. Case Implement Co. The owner was Gene Cotton. Daddy worked 12 hours a day for 6 days a week. He received $7.00. Papa was really proud of Daddy's good wages. Most men, if they had work, were receiving a $1.00 or less per day.

So that's the first home and I don't remember. Years later the Shumaker GParents bought a house across the street one lot to the East and lived there until they each died in their turn.
I've riden, driven, even walked past it many times, but was never in it except during those unremembering days.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Well Kids,

Here we go.

A life begins with a breath.
A journey begins with a step.
The ebb and flow in the tide of these memories begins with a word.

Weeds, rattlesnakes, and sandstorms were an underlying part of our regular days and nights. But Home was always the harbor from which we launched in the morning and where we anchored at night.

There were a couple of homes before or vague in my memory. The first about which I have the clearest recollections is the shepherd's tent. Our extended family bought 600 sheep. They came by train from San Angelo, Texas to the depot in Eldorado, Oklahoma. I'm not sure how they arrived at the sheep range. Daddy was the designated shepherd. Papa, Uncle Lawton and Uncle Dillon, (maybe others) all helped set up the tent and a hog wire fence corral for the flock. Most of what I remember deals with the layout inside the tent. Looking in from the front the iron bedstead and mattress were on the right side in the back corner. The cook stove was about midway on the left wall. The stovepipe bent down behind the stove to a trench dug under the tent wall and was covered with dirt. That kept the heat from burning the fabric of the tent. A tall post had been set on the outside beside the trench. The pipe turned up alongside the post and was tied to it with bailing wire. The stove pipe extended far enough above the ridge of the tent so the wind would carry away the smoke. The table and chairs may have been at the foot of the bed on the right side of the entrance. I was eighteen months old. Mother and I were fair weather folks. During the bad snows, Daddy was there by himself. Mother Shumaker and Grand Daddy were my maternal grand parents. During the storms we stayed with them. It might have been 8 or 10 miles (possibly less) between their house and the sheep range.

Up the road about a quarter mile west of Shumakers was a two room house we lived in for a while. Both sets of my grand parents were on established farms with a house of 5 or 6 rooms. My parents had grown up in those places a few miles apart. They attended the same country school and the same country Church. So for me a home was a certain thing. A mother and a father were always there. Their work was in or near by the house. It was a place of residing: a house, a barn, or a tent. It provided the sense of stability. That was where the family gathered for meals and sharing life: games, storytelling, serious talk, discuss the weekly schedule, fun and laughter, to read the Bible and pray, then sleep. Home was not only shelter from wind, rain and snow, from evil and bad, but it was a place of warm spiritual connection with others. It was a place of confession and confidence. It was a place of learning: responsibility, respect, work, art, skill, honor, truth, trust, assistance, support, reliability, dependability, faith, faithfulness, prayer, worship. I'm not sure, but I think that home has been and is most probably the central pillar, foundation of who I am becoming.