Every Body Needs a Place to Live
Out of High School, Daddy was 19 when Granny and Papa built a new house. In the contract, the Carpenter taught Daddy the trade. Once it was known, there was no end of opportunities to build. On Grandpa's farm, changes began from the start of our arrival. He moved the two roomer from the house to be the granary's of the new barn.
The banker in Eldorado, Mr. George Littlefield, hired Daddy to build him a new house. At the beginning of WWII the government put in a new Air force Base in our County Seat, Altus, Oklahoma. He was employed there for some months.
When our Church Congregation moved from worship in the Midway School to a vacated Church building which the congregation hauled in from several miles to the east, Daddy was the lead carpenter to remodel the existing building and add the addition for fellowship and Sunday School rooms.
From the start of our lives on Grandpa's farm, I've always wondered if Daddy didn't have in mind to build a new stone dairy barn. Whether yes or no, after completing the barn up hill to the east of the windmill, he cleared away the old 40 year old barn whitch was was falling into disrepair. Soon after, with the front end loader on our little Ferguson tractor, he began to move the dirt around until he had a beautiful semi-shaped bowl carved out of the hillside to the west of the windmill. He began to bring in pasture stones from the hills about 10 or 12 miles to the north in the Creta area. By the time the foundations and floors were poured with cement, he stamped "1946" in the thresh hold of the front door. By 1950 we had it as finished as it ever was. The east side is where we milked 8 to 12 cows morning and night.
Beginning in 1950 Daddy went out in the night, where he could see the North Star and shot a perfect line, with his transom and laid out the foundation of a new house. It would replace Grandpa's house were we had lived the past ten years. We walled up the west side of the dairy barn and made a living quarter for the family there. Keith was born in February, 1950. By the time he was six months old we were moved into the barn and were tearing down the house. The layout of the floor plan was 72 feet long, The garage end on the north was 24 feet wide. The south end, where the bed rooms were, was 48 feet wide. It was / is a beautiful home. There were 3 bedrooms and a bath. The living room had a huge picture window. The floor of the living room was 24 feet long by 16 feet wide. The flooring throughout the house was oak hardwood.. He made beautiful designs in the way he laid the wood in both the living room and the dining room. The kitchen was quite large and was divided from the dining room by a large black walnut breakfast bar. The den was distinguished by the hand built fireplace. The exterior was faced with the beautiful white stone we quarried ourselves from the Creta hills. I cut most of the stone to length, Daddy laid up the walls. Papa, Uncle Lawton, others of the family and a hired man or two all had their part in bringing it to completion. Our great friend, Brother Rev. J. E. Ray did most of the interior painting. After winter in the Barn, Mother and Daddy decided to move to a neighboring vacated house about 3/4 of a mile away. In July of 1951 Ray was born while we lived there.
Early in 1950 he began work on a new house for Aunt Kathryn and Uncle Perry. Daddy led the work of building theirs in another beautiful artistic style.
During all those years his days seemed endless and the nights saw work continuing to the wee hours. He kept the farm going and worked at the boat factory hand making mahogany wood racing boats to help with the family income. Then there were the times the car or tractor needed to be overhauled or a new room added to the house because of the growing family.
When the time came to build our new Church House in Eldorado, Daddy was once more the architect and lead builder. He secured permission to tear down the old Gym at the burned out Midway School. It had set there used as a community building and a memory of the past. Daddy arranged to tear it down for the wood and in exchange he built for them a new community building with a nice kitchen and bath rooms. With the salvaged lumber and more pasture stones the new Church of the Nazarene rose up and was dedicated debt free as an extraordinary witness to the miracles of the Almighty God.
Paul was born in January 1953, Granny's birthday. What sweet little brothers they were and all born as we were starting and completing the new stone house. I'd first had two sisters, then we lost a little boy to still birth and after Linda it was six more years before the three little musketeers arrived. I knew I missed having brothers, but when they began to arrive I cherished the joyful advent of my own kind. They were all born while we still lived on the River Farm.
I gave my life to Jesus at a Revival Meeting at the Methodist Church in Eldorado when I was eleven years old. I remember asking Mother when I was seven, "How do you know if you are supposed to be a preacher?" She said she didn't know, why didn't I ask Uncle Elbert? He is her next younger brother and he'd started pastoring in 1943. I let it go and didn't ask. In November 1951 I clearly understood that God was calling me into the Christian Ministry. I told my parents that night. They seemed pleased and encouraging. The next May 18, 1952, the day our cousin Marsha was born, our Pastor, Rev. Ray Altaffer called me up front and gave me a "local exporters license." I think the Methodist Church has not given those for a long time. Almost immediately, Daddy started an internal struggle with what may have been a call to preach at age 15 when his Uncle Abe Tucker preached a revival at the Midway School in about 1930. By the end of 1953 Daddy became certain that was the new direction that would transform the whole perspective of our family forever.
I'm sorry folks, but this Post has been very difficult to keep on the page. I'm not very adept with the computer and often lines of script move into another paragraph or an entire post will vanish into the atmosphere. That has happened with the draft," Koichi and Nana: Chapter 4." I had not intended to introduce this information into "Some of the Houses Daddy Built." Anyway, here it is, for better or worse.
So Paul, you asked a while back what happened to the pheasants? Eventually we released them all into the wild. They had made a heroic effort to establish their breed in such a dry climent. Not real often, but fairly regularly, a cock or pair of hens could be seen having an early morning or late afternoon shower in our lawn sprinklers. Sometimes we'd hear but not see the sound of an old cock crowing. Those beautiful birds added a lot of joy to our lives through those years. It was during the struggling months of that fall, 1953, that Daddy was dealing with God on the decision of continuing on with the farming, shearing, raising cattle, custom bailing hay, growing cotton, wheat and other small grains life style and there was the beautiful orchard full of mature peach, pear, apricot and plum trees of several varieties. One year after our income from all sources was counted and all taxes were paid, the profit to the whole family larder had gained an increase of $18.00, all because of the orchard and there was the new barn and all those dairy cows. On the north side of the fireplace chimney that afternoon, he had chiseled a large lower case "e" into the stones. The lower case "e" was his legal brand mark for all his cattle. And in my mind at least, that stood for us and the farm.
He finished up that part of the chimney and came down for the remainder of the day. He left for the back fields. I don't know if he drove, walked or rode the horse. But he went to a place where he often prayed between the orchard and the shelter belt of trees. Those divided the flat farm lands to the north from the rolling sand hills and sagebrush going south toward the river. As he approached his holy sanctuary, he began to speak to God. He ask if he could have a sigh. It had been many months since any of the family had heard of or seen even one of the pheasants. So he ask God, if you are really, really calling me, with a wife and seven children in the house, into the ministry, would you give me a sign. If so, I'd like to hear the Old Pheasant Cock crow. He sat or knelt there meditating, listening is silence for a little while. Then something caught his attention. As he looked around, there standing near the edge of the circle under the trees, the Old Pheasant Cock, rose up on the very tips of his toes, stretched out his gorgeous wings to their full spread, extended his neck to its full length, opened his beak wide and crowed the mightiest crow Daddy had ever heard him give! It was a powerful moment!
It was settled. He never looked back. Moving and all that came after that afternoon are part of another story. We will have to wait. We did move from the River Farm to a family farm a mile or two from Eldorado. In that house Esther was born into the family in 1955 and David was born to us in June 1957. I was about to return to my second year of college.
The Eldorado Church was dedicated in June 1957. By fall of that year a Church in Louisiana had called to ask Daddy to come preach a trial sermon as a possible pastoral candidate. Our good friends, the Rev. J. R. Hall and his wife Rachael with their seven children had moved from their more recent pastorate in Altus, Ok. to a pastorate in Natdchitoches, La. Nearing years end, with me back in college, the rest of the family went with Daddy for his appointment. Halls had recommended him to Rev. Dan Perryman, District Superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene for the State of Louisana. They had the joy of reunion with the Halls for a few days. Mother went with Daddy on the appointed Sunday morning. I think they really liked him, but he clearly felt this was not the right place or the right timing for him. They returned to Eldorado.
Sometime the next spring Rev. Perryman again called and ask him to come. It seemed the right time and place...Oak Grove, La. Through the rest of spring, 1958, and early summer the rush was on to prepare and finish a major family move from the state of our births, from the homes of our parents, grand parents and great grand parents to a place that had trees everywhere, humidity that made the sheets feel mildewed, leather shoes molded in the closet unless you left a light bulb burning, the sugar hardened on the table in the sugar bowl unless you put it into the fridge. With those wonderful, exciting, frightening prospects lumming before us, Granddaddy Shumaker got sick and was hospitalized. The haul truck came and took all our movable, earthly belongs away. We waited in the homes of our many relatives, and waited at the hospital. After several days, he passed from this earthly abode to the eternal home of the Heavenly Father. We, two parents and 9 children, got into the red station wagon with the family dog safely in his cage on the back bumper. It must have been a sight to behold.
In time, Mother and Daddy made several more moves. One brought them to the small midwestern town of Spiro, Oklahoma where they pastored a few years and Rachel, our fifth sister was born there in May 1964. Eventually they moved to the Ozark Mountains northeast of Alma, Arkansas in 1966. By that time, we older kids were marrying and beginning our own families. Just off Old Turner Road in the Turner Community of those mountains they built themselves a new house. The younger brothers and sisters all grew up in the mountains east of High Way 71, finishing their elementary, middle and high school training in Alma or Mountianburg, all of whom had their parts in the constant building of those many years. It's important to remember they had to earn their living, meet all kinds of needs, help many people in many ways while being pastor of the Church and Community. There they built another new Church and dedicated it debt free in 1991. They both finished their sojourns in the faith. Mother went to heaven in 1998 and Daddy joined her in 2007.
It has been a glorious ride. There have been joys and sorrows, but the faith and confidence of the family has continued to hold strong to the awesome arm of the Almighty God in His promised faithfulness to those who wait on Him. To God be the glory!!!.