Raymond Paul Daugherity, son of William
This is Part Two
Go to Part One
Memoirs of Agnes Anna Daugherity
Photos of Daugherity
Return to Main Page


I shouldn’t leave the impression that all we did was work because there were times when we had lots of fun. By and large, snow caused lots of hard work and misery, but during some good snows, we had fun with a sled we had made. We’d put light buggy harnesses on a good fast saddle horse and without a single tree on the traces we’d tie them to about ten feet of rope on the sled. That made a thrilling ride the horse running at top speed, but it also made a hard fall if the sled hit a bump and dumped us.

Snow, of course, gives thoughts of Christmas. Actually, by today’s standards, it was a very simple thing. It usually meant the exchange of small and practical gifts. While there was always a good Christmas spirit among the people, there was rarely ever a mention of the religious reason for it. The only Christmas trees that were ever in evidence were either put up at the church or school for just a couple of days, and then only for the purpose of a community gathering. People would chip in to get a lot of things for the Mexican and poor white children, who otherwise would have nothing. At home the stockings always hung behind the old pot bellied stove in the front room.

One year must have been a tough one, as the only thing I got was an orange. I should say the orange was all there was in my stocking from home. I still remember the disappointment, but I never questioned the reason for not getting more. There were always packages from my sisters in Amarillo and others away from home. Brother Dick was always generous and one year Judge and I got a pair of, real good boxing gloves which resulted in a few bloody noses, but on the other hand, afforded much entertainment and once he gave us big sheep skin coats that were real treasures. As I recall, the next year made up for it (the orange) with a new suit (Knee pants), a cap with fur earflaps, and a treasured Barlow knife. There was also a big assortment of hard candy and nuts. I don’t ever recall Mother and Dad exchanging gifts; that seemed to be a time only for children,

We were always pulling tricks on someone, and if a new tenderfoot came to our area, we tried treating him to a “snipe hunt.” I remember once when a New York fellow came to Dayton. He was a typical wise-guy, so we started to work on him. One night a bunch of our gang was in Dayton when this fellow came along. We finally worked up a conversation about how good the snipe hunting was up on the Penasco River bed. Right away he wanted to know all about it; and, of course, wanted to go with us. We were all on horses, but he was on foot. Finally we agreed to take him, and one of our boys who was riding a big horse let him ride double. Necessary equipment for the snipe hunt is a gunny sack and a lantern, so we went to the nearest house and borrowed them. Then on to the river bed, which was about two miles from Dayton. In order to give our new friend a first hand treat, we agreed to let him catch the snipe. We lit the lantern, then set it just right near a bush and had him get behind the bush and hold the sack open so the snipe, being attracted by the light would run into the sack. We told him we’d get on our horses and make a circle to bring the snipe in. What we would really do, however, was to ride off and leave him there. when we left, he no doubt smelled a rat or became afraid of being alone and took off. No one will ever know how he beat us back to town…but he did. At first he was going to whip us all, one at a time, but I guess he decided against it. He would have nothing to do with us for a long time. I wonder if it is possible that is where the saying, “left holding the bag”, came from.

Fun in the summer meant many things; the old swimming hole, racing our horses, roping calves, cat fishing at night by moonlight or a big fire, night calls at a number of places for watermelons, and occasionally a chicken fry on the river. The chickens were not always volunteer donations, and I remember one night we called at a chicken yard of an old scrooge to make a selection of enough for our purpose. The chickens seemed willing enough as all you had to do was put their head under their wing and they wouldn’t make a fuss. Unfortunately, that night I was riding a long legged black horse that I was breaking for a fellow. All went well until I got on board with the chicken under my arm when suddenly its head came up from under its wing. It started squawking and struggling, and this started the horse bucking. I managed to stay on and to save the chicken for our treat by wringing its neck. That was no small trick on a bucking horse in the dark of night.

Catfish fishing on the Pecos River was a pleasant venture on a balmy summery moonlight night. Of course this would start with Mother having killed a chicken, then we’d use the entrails for bait. We would also dip little balls of cotton mixed with bread dough in the blood which made a good lasting bait. Sometimes we’d use a long bamboo pole and single line, but if we intended fishing deeper water, we’d use a hand line with a weight tied on the end. The larger catfish like to stay in deep ho1es right on the bottom. They move slowly about and sometimes will take bait in their mouth and nibble at it for some time before swallowing it. Most of those we’d catch would easily run about five to ten pounds, but now end then wed catch one up to twenty-five or thirty pounds.

Once a homesteader across the river put some spoiled meat in a large tomato can, punched holes all around, then wired it securely with bailing wire. He added about ten feet of wire, then tied that to a good rope about fifty feet long. He threw the baited can in a deep hole and tied the rope to a cedar tree up on the bank. About three days later, he came back to find a fifty-two pound catfish on his line.

Dad said that in the early days, catfish up to seventy-five pounds had been caught there. Catfish do not fight and struggle when caught, so at times when we’d go swimming, some of the braver boys would dive down and catch a big one by the gills and bring it to shore. We’d throw them up on the bank in the hot sun, sometimes for hours, before going home to put them in the spring ditch where they would become active again in a short tine. The blue channel catfish is truly a delicious meat, and even the larger mud catfish is more tasty then many other types of fish.

Usually a time or two during the summer months, a fish fry would be arranged for some community benefit, so arrangements would be made to close the headgate at McMillon Dam, which would dry up the stream below. People would go down with pitchforks and load baskets, wash tubs, and barrels with catfish, bass and carp for the fish fry. Large drums were used for deep fat frying and some were cooked on open wire mesh. The feed was always free; however, a money box was kept in easy evidence where donations for some worthy cause could be collected. It was more fun that way, and I’m sure people enjoyed being placed on their honor. Also, I’m sure they were more generous that way.

The fishing hole where the large fish were caught also served as a place to correct a bad habit of a horse owned by a homesteader. This particular horse, when tied to a hitching rack, would stand quietly enough until his owner would return. As the homesteader approached, the horse would rear back until the tie rein would break. Heavier ropes were used to help discourage his antics, but to no avail. The horse would rear and fight until something broke. Finally the homesteader figured out a way to teach the horse a lesson. He place a blind bridle on the horse so that the rear view would be cut off, then together they went to the fishing hole. The east bank of the river at that hole was nearly twenty feet high and straight down. The horse was tied with a light rope to a cedar tree about fifteen feet from the bank. Ropes were tied on each side to keep him in a straight line at a right angle to the river. The homesteader went away for a while, then returned to untie the horse, but as usual, the horse reared back. The light rope broke letting him go over the bank with a big “kersplash” into the deep water and down under. As he came up, there was a wild thrashing and lunging for the lower shore line where he was able to get out on a low bank where he stood quietly. The animal didn’t need a second lesson to make him stand quietly to be untied.

Sometimes, after I was about twelve years old, we would be able to go into Artesia to see the movies. They were in black and white and without audio. You could sea the actors talking and making motions to go with the conversation, but the words would flash on the screen. There was always a piano player, who kept music going according to the type of action that was taking place. As the suspense would build up, he’d play louder and louder until the climax was reached. The music did help. Sometimes when the show was delayed, they’d flash words to a song on the screen and the piano player would play and we would have a community sing.

The big attractions at that time were: William S. Hart, a western good guy; Charlie Chaplain, a great comedian; Fatty Arbuckle, a slapstick artist. I also remember seeing Will Rogers playing the part of a tramp. Ruth Roland was a big lover thrill at that time. Rudolph Valentino was popular with the women. Mack Sennet Comedy was a big hit. A double feature could be seen for 25.

The Schnor family, who lived close to Artesia owned the only threshing machine in the whole area. A son, Jerry, was trained to run the monstrosity and the coal fired “Case” steam tractor that was used to haul the thresher from one location to another, then provide power to run the machine on location. The tractor would be placed about fifty feet from the thresher and a long wide belt connecting huge pulleys between the two machines made the thing work. I’ll never forget the first time I saw the contraption in action. The thresher was about eight feet wide, perhaps ten feet high and twenty feet long. There were many pulleys on the side, some belt driven, others chain driven. Some turning slowly, others at higher speeds, some turning left while others turned right. The whole machine seemed to be moving up and down as well as swaying from side to aide.

What fascination for a country boy who had seen very little machinery of any kind. I had ridden my horse fairly close to watch the thing in action and I’m sure my horse was as apprehensive of the contraption as I was. Right at the height of our interest the operator pulled the steam whistle cord. My horse just about dumped me in his haste to get away.

Later my brother and I worked for some of the farmers a few days harvesting oats, barley or wheat. I was too small for any job except driving a team of horses hitched to a large flatbed wagon. The machine that cut the grain also tied it in small shocks. I would drive the team down a row of bundles while men with pitchforks would load them on the wagon. When loaded, I would drive the wagon along side the thresher where the bundles would be fed into the threshers hopper for processing. As I recall, we were paid $2 per day plus all we could eat at noon lunch.

I can easily understand the expression “eating like a harvest hand,” because the harvest table was always loaded with a large variety of wonderful food that was not common fare on the farmers table. Neighboring farmers and their wives would join together in the harvest and the women always seemed to try to out do each other in loading the table with “goodies.” In addition to roast beef, baked ham and meatloaf, there would be many side dishes of vegetables and potatoes and then loads of pies, cakes, lemonade, iced tea and coffee. To have something iced was quite a treat as it was quite a distance, plus inconvenient to get ice. I’m sure that some of the crew had never seen such an abundance of delicious food on one table and without exception they took full advantage of the treat.

After working in the threshing crew a few days, for the first time I got brave enough to get up on the tractor to see how the thing worked. At that time I’m sure I thought that having a job running that outfit. must be at least as good as being President.

Dad liked to farm a few acres on his own and expected Judge and I to work it under his direction. We never seemed to have good equipment such as plows, harrows, harness or work horses and as a whole, in my opinion, it was a sorry lot to work with. My first recollection of trying to plow was when I was not quite tall enough to walk and hold the plow handles right. A man would find the plow handles comfortable just below the belt line, where as to me they were almost shoulder height. The turning plow, or walking beam plow as it was sometimes called, would weigh about 200 pounds. To get it turned around a square corner was a real job for a little guy. Things were not made easier by having a poorly trained team and dull plow shears. The whole thing was a mess as far as I was concerned and besides, I didn’t like anything that had to do with farming. The life of a cowboy was much more appealing to me, mainly I suppose because I liked cattle and saddle horses.

MY FIRST COWBOY JOB (11 years old)
Fortunately, when I was about eleven years old, I had a summer job of taking care during the daytime of about fifty head of pure bred Hereford cows, a novelty to that country. The cattle had been shipped in from Kansas by a farmer named George Winans. This job lacked the romance of a regular cowboy, but at my age I had to start somewhere, and besides, I was being paid one whole dollar each day. I used my own horse, a little white off-breed, that could run like a streak of lightening. The Winans’ place was about two miles north of us and I would go each morning A little after sun-up, and let the cows out of the corral and trail them about another mile west to a big pasture where I more or less kept then grazing together during the day. Then just before sundown, I’d start trailing then back to the night corral. The old man babied these cows as if they were his own children.

One evening when the summer was almost over, I was starting the herd toward home when a young one decided to go the wrong direction. I took after it, like a shot, and with my horse in a dead run he stepped in a hole. I still remember hitting the ground and the horse rolling over me, and then I was out cold. I didn’t come to until after dark and then it was some tine before I could figure out what had happened and where I was. Then I heard my horse snort. I was able to catch him, get on, and go home, but I was sure sick. The cows had gone home by themselves, and when Mr. Winans saw Dad coming him from work, he told him that I had no doubt gone to sleep and was not doing my job, so for Dad to tell me I was fired.

I suppose a high-priced ‘head shrink” of today could find, in that incident, the subject of quite a 1engthy lecture about how, through lack of understanding, I was .fired in error and a resulting reaction caused me to be anti-social and with a feeling of trying to get even with a world that had treated me so badly. In my book, however, that is a bunch of hogwash, It’s a type of thing that happens all through life Actually, I donut recall that it bothered me much, but I’m sure it didn’t make me like Mr. Winans any better.

In saying that Mr. Winans stopped Dad on the way home, I should mention that not too long before that Dad had bought his first car. On his way to and from his store he always passed the Winans’ place.

Watching Dad learn to drive his first car was surely a panic. As I think of it now, he must have given the appearance of a Roman running second in a chariot race. At times he would lean forward, almost pushing on the steering wheel, to help the thing along, and in turning a corner, he’d lean way over to the side as though helping to balance the car.

As I remember, the first car Dad bought was a used 1916 Ford. Other Fords followed, all used and all were possessed with the same general characteristics of a Missouri mule. Later models had minor improvements and in my opinion, the greatest improvement was when the battery and starter were added.

I think I may have been about twelve when on one Sunday morning Dad and I went far west of Dayton to look at some stock. When we were ready to go home, Dad cranked the car then said, “Kid, see if you can drive.” Wow, what a thrill! I had spent many hours pretending to drive the car when it was parked at home and now was my chance at the real thing. I was pretty short to reach the foot pedals, but finally got the thing going. The road was not much more than a trail that wound around among the mesquite bushes and at times I had trouble keeping on the beam. Dad kept control of the gas feed and at times was giving orders in machine gun fashion. Before too long, I got the hang of staying in the road, so driving became quite a thrill.

Starting one of the old cranking models on a real cold winter morning presented more than one problem, so let me recount some of my own experiences. First, I’d jack up the right rear wheel clear off the ground, then block the other wheels so it would not roll off the jack. The reason for raising the wheel was so the axle and gears would turn more easily in the cold heavy grease. Next, I’d pour lots of scalding water over the engine block to help warm it, then I’d fill the radiator with hot water. Since that was a time long before anti-freeze, it was necessary to drain the radiator each night to prevent cracking the engine block. Spark plugs would be taken out next and a few drops of alcohol put in each cylinder. Then the coil box would need a couple of kicks just to help make better point contacts. The distributor’s position was regulated by a lever on the steering post so that it must be set for a starting position. If the spark was too far advanced, it would cause premature firing with a resulting kickback. I believe the old crank model Ford has the doubtful honor of breaking more arms and causing more people to curse than any other piece of machinery.

The lever that controlled the engine speed was also on the steering post and it must be advanced slightly. A wire, with finger loops, extended through the radiator about crank height, and connected with the carburetor to serve as a choke. I would pull the choke all the way out, then pull upon the crank about three times to give the carburetor gas. Then, with an all out effort, I’d spin the crank until the engine started or until I run out of strength. If the thing didn’t start the first time, a well directed stare and some spicy language always seemed to help build your strength and determination for another spin. If it still didn’t start, you might try more alcohol in the cylinders, or you might even have to saddle a horse to have someone pull the car down the road so the motor would turn over faster.

Now compare the cars we started with to the one you have today. The difference in speed, comfort, and cost would hardly be recognized.

It may have been the fall of l925 that I became so interested in a new Ford sport roadster. I made several trips into town to see the little beauty on the showroom floor. As it stood, on the floor, without spare tire or bumpers, the total price was $623. While I’d like very much to have had it, I just couldn’t make up my mind that it was something I needed. There was nothing I could use it for except to take one person riding. It was black in color, the top could be let down so one could enjoy freedom and sunshine. If it started to rain the top could be put up in a hurry and side curtains buttoned on for weather protection. The windshield was in two parts and may be turned in a horizontal position to enjoy full benefit of good fresh air, but unfortunately there were many varieties of bugs, bees, and grasshoppers mixed in with that fresh air. The motor had four cylinders and I think it was about thirty-six horse power. On good level roads a speed of about fifty miles per hour could be obtained after about one-half mile running. There was a twelve gallon gas tank under the seat which could only be filled by raising or removing the seat. Spare equipment included a jack, tire pump, tube patching, pliers and one wrench. Tires and tubes at that tine wore of questionable quality, so flat tires were very common and repair equipment was indeed a necessity.

Years later Dad bought a new “Star” Touring car and Mother enjoyed riding in it even though she was so short and the seat so low that she could barely see outside.

Another incident happened along about this age that I think is worth mentioning because as I look on it now, it is somewhat of an example of the courage and strong feeling of responsibility that is part of a normal country boy’s life.

The PecosRiver was already bank full with flood water from heavy rains farther north when urgent word was sent that another four or five foot wall of water was on its way down. That meant that Judge and I had to get to the river fast to run Dad’s herd of horses out of the cedar breaks so that they would not get trapped.  As I recall there were more than a hundred head of mares and colts in that area. We saddled our horses as fast as possible and took off in a dead run. It was three to four miles to where the horses were, but about a mile before we reached them we would have to cross the Penasco River that was also in flood. In the place we thought would be best to cross there was enough slope to the terrain to cause the rushing water to make waves that seemed mountainous to me. We stopped on the bank to take a look and we agreed that it didn’t look like we could make it. A muddy mass of wildly rushing water about 250 feet wide is what faced us. All of a sudden Judge dug the spurs into his horse and together they jumped in. Then, without thinking, I did the same. Wow! A swimming horse in water like that will be completely under except his head, so it is necessary to swing out of the saddle to lighten his load. You just hold on to his mane. You don’t dare pull a rein, or it will duck him. A helping hand from somewhere must have had a hold of our shirttails and also provided some extra strength for our horses because we made it across in good shape. The fast water carried us down stream quite a ways, but we got out okay and on to the job of running our herd of horses to higher ground. We have figured that I was twelve years old at that time and Judge was over fourteen.

After all the years of operations and sickness, I began to grow a little. I was about twelve when I started growing in height, but I didn’t add too much in weight.

An instance of an ignorant argument that ended in tragedy involved two families who had come to Artesia to work in the oil fields about l925. Each family consisted of husband, wife and two children. They were typical “boomers” that had just come in from somewhere in Texas. Supposedly the families were good friends and were living together in tents in a designated area on the edge of town where there was good spring water. Late one afternoon a child from each family became involved in a quarrel over a toy and were tangled in bitter combat when the two mothers came out to settle the problem. Somehow they wound up in a hair pulling contest and at the height of their conflict one woman fell and the other one jumped on top of her to continue the battle. Just at that time the husbands came home and saw their women fighting. The dress of the woman who was on the bottom had come up too far during the scuffle, so her husband reached to pull it down. The other man misunderstood the intention to be helpful so he pulled a switchblade knife and slashed the other fellow several tines across the stomach. The defenseless wounded man fell to the ground screaming in pain and his intestines rolled out on the ground. I rode by just about that time and helped carry the man up to a doctor’s office. The doctor was not in so the only thing we could do was lay him down. He died in a very short time. Again, ignorance was responsible for such an untimely fate.

There was another incident involving two cattlemen west of Carlsbad in the Guadalupe Mountains. Their range cattle shared water from the same waterhole in one area. The weather lately had been real dry and as a result the watering place was beginning to dry up. One of the ranchers decided the hole was on his property and while he was willing to share when water was plentiful, he decided at this point, when water was precious, to fence the waterhole. The neighbor then cut the fence so his cattle could water, and that certainly meant trouble. One day the ranchers met at the watering place and one was a little faster with his six shooter. (When I left that country, I traded my chaps for the 38 long colt revolver that was used to kill the rancher. It is now hanging in my gun cabinet. Actually, I had no use for the gun but had less use for the chaps.)

In the early days when the range was wide open and unfenced, a good water hole with good grazing around it was indeed a treasure, and ownership through a decision by law was not always thought of because most generally a decision by fast gun was more likely to prevail. Sometime in the 1870’s an outstanding case involved a young man named Clay Allison, who later was frequently mentioned in the history of New Mexico.

Allison had located an excellent water hole with abundant grazing for great distances around it. He decided to stake his claim right there and get a start in the cattle business. Another man questioned Allison’s right to the water hole, so there was only one thing to do and that was to have a showdown. Supposedly, both men were very determined, and the quick-shooting type, but both agreed that the use of guns would not be the best way of settlement. They decided to dig a regular grave, each doing his share of the digging; and when it was complete, both would get in the grave and fight to the death with bowie knives. Allison came out the winner, but was badly wounded in the hip, which when healed caused him to limp. (This is one of those situations where it’s knives for two, but breakfast for one.)

Fate has an unusual way at times of providing an anti-climax to such an incident. Many years later Allison was driving a heavily loaded wagon down a grade where it was necessary to apply the wagon brakes. In attempting to apply the foot brake, his lame leg faltered and his foot slipped causing him to loose balance. He fell from the wagon and under a wheel that crushed him to death.


Lack of education and other forms of ignorance resulted in many social problems with a few. A personal affront of some slight nature might easily result in a hatred and desire to get even in some brutal way. Of many such instances that I have in mind, one stands out clearly.

Two men, a homesteader and a rancher, back in the foothills of the Guadalupe Mountains had come to a standoff on some minor grudge when the rancher decided to take positive action. At Carlsbad, the county seat, one could get a government issue of strychnine for the purpose of killing rodents, so the rancher rode in for an issue. He then rode to the claim shack of the man with whom he had decided to “get even” and using the strychnine he poisoned all of the food in the house as well as water in the cistern and a rain barrel at one corner of the shack.

The intended victim was away for a few days, but shortly after the poisoning had been done, a family of mother, dad and two children drove by. It was hot summertime so a refreshing drink was looked forward to. I don’t recall all of the details, but the family drank generously then became sick. The father drove as fast as possible to the nearest neighbor, many miles away, where he told of what had happened. The family died; and then, of course, came the question of who did the poisoning. Incidently, the man who lived at the ranch where the family came to tell their story rode immediately to the homesteader’s place where the poisoning had been done. His intention was to put up a sign on the cistern and cabin door to the effect that water had been poisoned. He was just making his preparations when the homesteader rode up. No doubt, without warning, he also would have been poisoned.

An old deputy sheriff, who was well known for his ability as a tracker, was sent out to see what he could do to find out who did the poisoning. The rancher, who did the poisoning, had ridden to the homestead on a horse that was wearing a broken shoe. I rather doubt that at the time he felt his horses' tracks would be a give away; however, he did tie his horse quite a distance away from the homesteader’s shack. The old tracker picked up the tracks, and trailed the poisioner direct to his ranch. The tracks, together with the issue of poison, was strong evidence, circumstantial to be sure, but they were able to send the poisioner to prison for a few years. When he was released he went directly to the homesteader’s place and killed him with a six shooter. A funeral was held a few days later, and the killer showed up at the graveside wearing his six shooter in typical frontier style. (There was no law against carrying a gun as long as it was not concealed.) As the coffin was being lowered into the grave, the killer spit on it. A speedy trial returned him to prison for life.

I don’t know what started the trouble in the first place; however, the ranchers always looked upon homesteaders as intruders, probably because so many times the homestead was right in the middle or there about of a rancher’s range land. More often than not, the homesteaders had nothing and they were not above borrowing, and too frequently without permission. If the homesteader had a family to feed and reserves, if any, were depleted, he was not above butchering some rancher’s calf on the sly. The greatest number of homesteaders were outsiders, and too frequently, a dreaming eastern greenhorn. So many of them were hardly able to care for themselves, much less hack out a living from raw land with no improvements. It was hard for them to try to get work from neighboring ranchers to supplement their larder, as they rarely knew much about the work to be done. Moat of them were misfits all the way, and no doubt, the ranchers would have been just as bad off in the city that the homesteaders came from.

It should be mentioned, however, that things were not always bad between rancher and homesteader. Many ranchers were very good men with a big heart, and were helpful in many ways to the homesteaders. Certainly woman and children never suffered hardships if the rancher knew about it and could be helpful. If a homesteader decided he just couldn’t make it, a good rancher could pay him cash for his homestead so the poor fellow would at least have something to get away on. Many times the rancher would just as easily let the deal go and pick it up later for taxes.

Now to get back more closely to my original story. I might mention some of the problems of getting an education. When I was in the seventh grade, Judge and I were again going to the Dayton School. It was a two room affair with the smaller children in one room and the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades in the other room. Apparently the state was in financial trouble and could not pay regular teachers’ salaries, so we were taught by a boy just out of high school. I think my ability to learn just about matched his ability to teach, but somehow I was given a passing grade. We liked this teacher because he was always out mixing it up with us during recess and lunch. He liked to play baseball and we were able to get a team together by using two girls who, incidentally, were better than some of the boys.

One time just before the end of the school year the teacher arranged to have a team come up from Lakewood, a town about seven miles south, to play us. What a game we had!!  I was pitcher and Judge was catcher and we were having a wild game when one of the Lakewood stars came up to bat. He knocked a high fly in the air just about halfway between Judge and me. We both ran for it and in doing so knocked our heads together and were out cold; Judge came to in a minute or so, but they carried me to the house and it was the next day before I knew what happened. I carry a permanent dent in my skull from that incident.

The boy who hit the high fly was Hugh De Autremont, who with his twin brothers in 1923 held up a train at the Siskiyou Tunnel in Southern Oregon. Their purpose was to get a big payroll destined for several logging companies. Things went a little wrong and they wound up killing several of the train crew. They were caught and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Oregon Penitentiary. Hugh was finally pardoned in 1963, and he went to San Francisco where he got pneumonia and died immediately. It is a coincidence that many, many years later I became well acquainted with a prison chaplain who was one of Hugh’s friends for nearly twenty years in the prison. He is also the one who buried him.

When I finished the eighth grade someone had decided that all of those eligible for high school would have to go to Artesia, which was eight or nine miles north. I don’t recall the details, but somehow a so-called bus body was built on a Ford one ton chassis. Actually it was just a big wooden box with entrance from the rear. There was a full length board, without padding, down each side that served as seats.  It would hold about sixteen. The sides above the seat level were just canvas.  In the winter we’d nearly freeze, and in warm weather we’d just about choke. The roads were dirt and in wet weather there were many times when the truck lacked the power to get through a bad hole, so all the boys had to pile out into the mud to push. In dry weather the dust rolled in from behind to add to our choking as well as covering us with a layer of dust. No one seemed smart enough to cut a vent in the front of the bus to offset the suction. Anyway, I suppose that was a part of growing up in the country and a part of the price of an education. The sad part is that I suffered through all of that and still did not get an education.

While I’m quite certain I would have enjoyed many benefits from more formal education, I am equally certain that my type of rural life offered a far better background suited to life’s struggle. By the very nature of my early surroundings and activities, I was constantly being called upon to make decisions on my own. While one may not be praised for being right, there was little question about hearing of a wrong decision. While such a system does little for your pride, it does serve to keep you on your toes always trying to do your best. In a way, it’s like playing poker, in that you enjoy benefits of winning, but certainly suffer doing wrong.

My freshman year in high school was a disaster, not only for me, but as I recall, only two or three from our area were given passing grades. The answer seemed to be that poor teaching in grade school left us unprepared for high school. The second try at the freshman grade was some better and I managed to get by. Incidentally, we were still faced with a poor grade of teachers as the state was broke and payment to teachers was in script which only a few stores would accept. Sometimes we’d have two or three different teachers on one subject during the year.

In my second year I went out for football and as I look back on it now, that team must have been a panic. We only had about fifteen or sixteen players, so that didn’t leave much for subs. Of course, the rules then were quite different and allowed a lot of rough stuff. In a pileup it was not unusual to have someone step on your hand or face with a set of cleats and if possible always put your knee in an opponent’s stomach or kidney. If you saw a strange leg sticking out from under the pileup, by all means step on the heel to try to twist the ankle.

Sportsmanship was nice to talk about, but winning a game was something else. We were not blessed with good uniforms either, and were really lucky to have a suit with both shoulder and hip pads plus a cheap helmet. With so few players, there was no such thing as playing one position. If a player got knocked cold and couldn’t be slapped back into reality and propped up in the line again, someone had to fill the spot. I only weighed around 140 pounds, but I played about everywhere except end, mostly quarterback and guard. As I remember, we won our share of games; and I think we gained about as much yardage from penalties for fighting as we did from our own playing. We had to be both brave and catty to get the other guy to swing at us first. The question was always, “Who struck the first blow?”

I wish that I could remember many of the crazy plays and the different things that were permitted then, but have been ruled out now. Like in stalling for time, we could do a snake dance for fifteen seconds.

Not everyone had a helmet, so our opponents could sometimes be confused by one man who was supposed to be the ball carrier, yet all he had in his arms was a buddie’s helmet, while the ball was stuffed up the real ball carrier’s back under his jersey. There was one man on the team that was smaller than I and a few times when we were about on the one yard line, he’d be given the ball and we’d either pick him up and carry him across or throw him. Anything for a win.

The second year was some improvement because of a new teacher, who also acted as coach. He had been a star player on an eastern college team. He discouraged the dirty playing and showed us more effective ways to win.

My third year in high school didn’t turn out too well. Along in March at noon one day we were told that our water supply had gone haywire and there would be no water for the rest of the day. Then someone came along and said that due to the lack of water, school would be let out for the afternoon. Without waiting for official word, a bunch of us took off for the PecosRiver, where we spent the afternoon swimming. The next morning we discovered we were in trouble. We were called to the principal’s office and lined up for a lecture.

The principal was a tall, bony, hatchet faced old maid who wore horn-rimmed glasses. She sat and looked us over for a few uncomfortable moments, and then without asking any questions, she said, “Well, there are thirteen of you and this is Friday the 13th. I can assure you that you are going to have bad luck. You are all expelled.” So with that we were told to leave the school grounds immediately.

Some of those who were expelled were able to return to school after some hard bargaining by parents, but a few, like myself, did not return. As a student I seemed to be in the low bracket, and certainly I was not one of the school’s athletes. One little thing did stick in my mind by way of humor, and that was the high school song...

You may talk about your colleges
Fair Harvard and Old Yale
And all the Universities whose banners brave the gale.
But way down in New Mexico
There is a place of fame,
Artesia is the town you know
Its school had made its fame.
For we are jolly students of Artesia Hi,
Our colors are orange and black
We wear our colors all around our Alma Mater dear,
Ra Ra Ha Sis boom bah, We’re the kind to dare and do.

Since I would have to wait until school was out for a ride home, I went over town to wait. I had no sooner hit the so-called main street when I ran into Mr. Ward, owner of the Flying H Ranch. He asked what I was doing out of school, and when I told him, he said I could have a job with him right then. He took me home to get my bedroll and saddle. Then we left for a ranch over in the sandhills of north eastern New  Mexico near the Texas state line.

Mr. Ward had leased grazing land on what had been known in the early days as the Six Shooter Ranch. He had about a thousand head of cattle there. It had been a hard winter and the cattle were just loaded with mange and scab. We had to round them up and run them through a dipping vat which took some time. As I recall, we were there a full month, but some of the time was taken in helping dip stock for other nearby ranchers.

During the time we were there it drizzled rain night and day without any let up. There was no shelter, and even the poor cook had only a very small tarp extending out from the chuck box. That cook surely earned his dollar per day getting up at 4:00 am and trying to get a fire going with cow chips. That is truly a land where the cows cut the wood and the wind pumps the water.

Our bedrolls were out in the open, but our bed tarps were heavy and the bedding kept dry. That area is sandy with only limited areas of clay mixture, so the rain soaked right in. At least we didn’t have to work in mud. During the time I was there, my clothes were never changed. When I was ready for bed at night I’d remove my sheepskin coat, hat, and boots and put them under the bed tarp, then I’d crawl in. By morning my pants would be nice and dry and ready to start the whole thing over.

There wasn’t any guess work about what we were going to eat each meal. Three times a day for the month we were there it was beans, sow belly, good biscuits and rank coffee. There was always plenty of chili to flavor with. Normally, Mr. Ward fed his employees well, but that must have been a real hard time for him. I should mention that my pay was $25.00 per month and board, (what board?).

When the job was completed, Mr. Ward took me home, but sent for me again in a short time. He took me out south of Hope where we met the outfit. There were five cowboys, a cook and his chuckwagon, and a horse wrangler with a remuda of about sixty horses.

The outfit had stopped just before noon at a prearranged location. The cook had a bad tooth and wanted Mr. Ward to take him to town to have the tooth pulled, then he could be brought back to the wagon the next day further down the line. Right after lunch, Mr. Ward took off with the cook, so it was decided to get things under way. It was the cook’s job to drive the wagon, but since I was new on the job, it was decided that I should do the driving until the cook returned. The wagon was a very large one and was well loaded with bedrolls, groceries, horse shoes, wagon repairs, and miscellaneous gear. Since it was known that feed would be very scarce, considerable hay and grain was taken for the teams. When I saw what the teams were to be, I felt sure that I was in for a show, and I was quite sure the cowboys were looking forward to one.

The teams were made up of one good sized, very gentle big bay “wheel horse,” the rest were five small, half-broken Spanish mules with the black stripe down their back bone and black rings around their legs between ankles and knees. It took all five cowboys to harness and hold those little bundles of explosive energy in place while I made ready to assume command. I had driven four-up several times, but only once had I driven six-up, and they had been both gentle and trained. I certainly wouldn’t know too much about handling this line-up, but no doubt, I knew more about it than they did, with the exception of the “wheel horse.”

There was at least one thing in my favor, and that was an unlimited amount of room to operate in. As it turned out, I needed quite a lot. While the terrain was generally flat, it was generously dotted with sage brush and small washes that as a whole made for rough riding at a speed greater than a slow walk, and that just was not to be for at least the first hour.

I’m certain I didn’t realize the problems I was facing when I climbed up on the high spring seat and got the six lines properly fixed in my hands. I don’t recall that I was afraid of the situtation, but I wonder, if at my age, I actually looked equal to the task.

One of the cowboys said that when I was ready to kick off the brake, they would turn the mules loose. I really knew better than to take off the brake until the teams were all straight and pulling steady, but I suppose I was more in the habit of doing what I was told. I kicked the brake off and all hell broke loose because as the cowboys released the mules, they let out a war whoop and started hitting the rules with their hats, also running along side making all kinds of fuss, which just about scared those little animals out of their hides. The teams were plunging, bucking, rearing, kicking, and running as best they could, and there wasn’t anything I could do to control them. The leaders were giving the most trouble. First they would plunge into their collar, and when weight stopped them, they would rear up. With that moment of hesitation, the swing team would run up on the leaders, and because of the leaders’ slack traces, they would often step over them. Next, with a new plunge, a swinger’s fore leg may be over the leader’s singletree, but even if not, the traces would hit hard against legs and flank, adding to the confusion.

With the wild running, the wagon was bouncing wildly over sagebrush and little gullies, and a time or two almost threw me off the spring seat, so I got down and stood in the wagon bead. Many pots and pans were hanging by snaffles from the wagon sides, and the rough ride caused them to bang and clatter, adding more noise to the already confused situation.

At long last energies waned and the mules were content to maintain a fixed speed, and I was able to assume control. During all the fracas the old bay “wheel horse” expressed his unhappiness by laying his ears back and biting at the “off mule.” Before the day ended, I think I was actually enjoying the driving, but I was glad when the cook was returned during the night, so that I might return to my rightful place in the saddle. I offered no complaints, and no further mention was made of the affair, so I became a member of the outfit.

I might mention that the harness did not include breaching, just hames, traces, and backband, so it was easy for both the leaders and swing to spend a lot of time over the traces if not kept tight. No artist could possibly paint a picture that would give proper expression to my new experience.

We went down to the southeast corner of New Mexico to the old Frying Pan Ranch where we picked up about 850 head of Flying H cattle to be taken up into the mountains. I had many experiences on that trail drive, but fortunately, none of them bad.

The cattle were not in good shape, so the drive was pretty slow. Some days we could average only about five miles. At the day’s end we would bunch the cattle into a bedding ground and stand tricks watching them. There were two men at one time, four hours each. Usually, by dark all of the cattle were lying down, so the only problem was to ride slowly around then in a circle and stay awake. However, many times it was real easy to stay awake because in that country we had a lot of thunder and heat lightning during the summer time. Sometimes we had other names for it because of the problems it created. Most of the cattle had a good set of horns, which for some reason attracts lightning. So when the thunder and lightning would start, the cattle would get up and start milling around. The lightning would play a blue flame over the herd, which, of course, made them restless and hard to handle. I have ridden in stampedes caused by lightning but we didn’t have one on this drive caused by that.

The stampede came as a result of our trying to have a little fun. We were about twenty miles from Carlsbad when we saw an old shaggy buffalo bull and we thought it would be fun to rope him. Why, I can’t oven guess. One of the cowboys started after the bull and made the mistake of roping him by the head. He was so big and heavy that he broke the rope. Then we all got into the act. We roped him by both the horns and hind legs so he went down by being outnumbered. When we turned him loose, he started running straight for our cattle and the sight of the shaggy old fellow scared them into a stampede. Fortunately it didn’t last too long because they weren’t very strong, but they did scatter to such an extent that it took the best part of two days to get them going again. Then about that time the “Old Man” came up and did we catch hell. I don’t recall anything more unusual for the rest of the drive. When we turned the cattle on the home range, Mr. Ward put me to helping a Mexican breaking some young broncs.

At that time the buffalo was not commonly seen on the open range. As I recall, the information we had was that an experiment was being conducted by the government. Apparently there was an experimental herd on a ranch in Oklahoma and the government had tagged twenty bulls and released them to see where they might roam in a given time. No doubt, there was more to the story we did not know.

About the end of W.W.I, Mr. Ward had sold a good stud to the government for $l25, and with that money had bought twenty-five weaning colts from the Mescalero Indians. All of them had the “Bow and Arrow” brand on their shoulder. While they were refered to as Indian ponies, they were that peculiar Spanish strain with the black stripe down their back and on their legs.

The Mexican always did the roping, then I’d help saddle and, of course, I always got the rough ride. They were the meanest little devils I’ve ever seen. They were just over two years old and most of them didn’t weigh over 750-800 pounds. Some were so slender that I had to tie a knot in my cinch so the ladigo could be pulled up tight to hold the saddle on. They never seemed to get tired of bucking but weren’t too hard to ride until they had several tries at it and learned how to handle themselves. We had lots of fun, but we managed to get skinned up a little. We had only worked a few when the Old Man decided to start the fall roundup for branding and cutting out sale stock. After two or three weeks of working on this I went home.

Before leaving this, I should mention one of the most frightening experiences of my young life that happened there, a terrific stampede.

On the last day of the branding we were holding several hundred head of cattle in a little trap and they had not had feed or water for two days. When everything was finished, it was just about sundown and already getting dark in the Canyon when we started to string the cattle out to return them to their range, when all of the sudden they started running. We had to ride “hell for leather” just to keep out of their way because, if your horse fell, that could be the end. We were also trying to stop them because there were always some that fell (cows and calves) in the run and got trampled to death or badly injured. The herd just would not stop in spite of our best efforts to turn them and our horses were just about run down when mine did fall. Fortunately, it happened pretty well on the outer edge with a nice big tree for me to hide behind. When the herd had gone by, I tried to make my horse get up, but he wouldn’t budge. It was nearly five miles back to the ranch and I didn’t like the idea of stumbling over rocky terrain in darkness carrying my saddle, so I built a fire and waited. Finally my horse decided to get up, and I got back to the ranch about midnight. The Old Man was having a fit because he thought I had been run over and the others had gone off and left me. The men excused themselves by saying they had no hope of trying to locate me in total darkness, and in fact didn’t know until they got to the ranch that I was not ahead of them.

Once before Judge and I had a narrow escape from a flash flood in the PenascoRiver. At that time the river was dry except for good swimming holes here and there. We were having great fun in a nice big pool just around the bend of the river, Our clothes were almost at waters edge on the north bank and at the moment I was standing in shallow water on the south side when I heard a roar and looked up river to see a big wall of water coming at us about 200 yards away. Panic broke loose. I started running south when I suddenly realized our clothes and horses were on the north bank. Then I started back across to meet Judge also going south. I yelled to him about the clothes and horses so he turned too. When we crossed the pool we had a snail bank to climb and we just barely made it with our clothes as water hit our feet. Truly a close call. Usually the flash floods were good for some damage. To cows especially, because if they were watering at a hole in the river bed, they could not escape fast enough . Some might still swim to shore after the initial tumbling they would get, but many would drown.

In thinking of swimming the river, which was not unusual as that was the only way to get across, I’m reminded of another time when two of my little friends were with me. We decided to cross the Pecos River and explore some of the caves that were in the low hills just beyond. Some of those caves had sheltered Billy the Kid during times when he was hiding out. We crossed in the afternoon and were having great fun playing follow the leader on our horses, jumping wide gulleys, climbing steep banks, jumping off of other banks not so high when suddenly a thunderstorm came up. Terrific rain and hail fell. Since we didn’t have slickers tied on our saddles, we headed for the nearest cave as fast as possible. Unfortunately, the first we came to was not really a cave but was big enough to shelter the three of us, so in we went soaking wet. The rain did not stop and soon it was dark. The first break that came we unsaddled our horses and put hobbles on them so they could graze. We were stuck, however, for the night as it was too dangerous to try to get off of the hill, swim the river, and try to find our way through the cedar breaks in total darkness, I was real worried because Mother had no idea where I was, but we made the best of a bad night, wet, cold and hungry. Our saddle blankets were too wet with sweat and rain to use for covers, so the best we could do was huddle together. I thought morning would never come, but it finally did. A big new shining sun came out that soon warmed us as well as dried us. Our horses were easy to find, so we saddled and lit out. We were about ten miles from home and very hungry. Our only means of’ getting a bird or rabbit was with what we called a “nigger shooter”. (Incidently, we had no way of attaching that name by what it might imply. There were only three negroes in that section of the country and they were all loved and respected.) Finally we were ab1e to get close enough to a snipe to get it on the first try. We hurriedly built a fire and roasted it on a stick. Can you imagine three hungry boys making a meal out of a bird about the size of a small dove?. Anyway, the incident served its purpose so on home in a hurry. I was sure glad to get there, but Mother had a little different view of the whole matter.

Now back to the three Negroes I mentioned, Nigger George, Nigger Ad, and Warner. Niger George worked at the Flying H ranch as a cook and about anything else old man Ward could think to have him do. As a cowboy, he had few equals. He could handle a rope like lightning and could always ride the horses that threw regular cowboys, and he liked to get the mean ones. I think he was the happiest man I’ve ever known. He was always laughing. He was about six feet tall and very well built, all bone and muscle. Everyone liked him and I don’t recall anyone ever mentioning his color.

Nigger Ad worked for the Turkey Track ranch. The only thing I ever know that he did for them was break horses. No one had ever known him to be thrown from a horse. The boss tried many times to get him to ride in the local Fourth of July rodeos, but he was too timid. He was also very quiet, but had a remarkable sense of humor. Before getting on a wild home he was breaking, he’d tie one hackamore rein to his left wrist, which, or course, was very dangerous. The boss often tried to get him not to do that, but Nigger Ad would always say, “Boss, if this horse throws me, I ain’t going to walk no where,” He, too, was well liked and respected and his color was never given a thought.

Warner was an old white haired man when I first met him. He had been a slave, but when set free he refused to leave the family who had moved from somewhere in the south to Hope, New Mexico, which was a little cow tows about twenty-five miles up the Penasco River from us, They raised wonderful apples, plums, apricots, and other fruit, so when I was little I used to go with Mother in the buggy to get a load of stuff for canning. We would stay overnight while Mother had fun visiting. Warner was treated as one of the family as far as he would permit, but apparently in his mind he was still a slave and always treated whites as his masters. When he died, he was buried with the family.

Along in here somewhere, World War I broke out and I remember a party that was given for a few boys who had enlisted from our area. They were to leave that night on our “once a day” train that would be through about midnight. A woman played the piano while the whole bunch sang “Over There”, “K K K Katie”, “Tiperrary,” and other songs popular then. It was quite a time of excitement and also a strong feeling against anyone of German ancestry. My brother, Dick, had been down on the Mexican border in the “Pancho Villa” fracas and I remember how sad Mother was when the letter came saying he was being transferred with General Pershing’s group for immediate shipment to France. As it turned out, however, he developed a terrible fever of some sort in Newport News, Virginia, and when he recovered he was assigned to duty there until the war ended, He acted as Provost Marshall at Newport News and immediately after November 11th, he was detailed to Coblenz, Germany in the same capacity.

I was too young at the time to give much thought to peoples’ reactions and flexibility, but as I look back now, I remember the many hot arguments among both men and women about whether we had any business getting into the war. I believe the most popular thought was that we should not go to a foreign land and have our men killed over something that did not concern us. However, just the minute war was declared, everyone seemed to switch to patriotism and were hungry for the Kaiser’s scalp. The more enthusiastic organized little parties and other functions whore they induced people to buy war bonds. I even bought some. I think the smallest that could be bought were called “Baby Bonds,” for $6.25. By the war’s end, I had five or six of them. There were also knitting parties where all sorts of things were made. The only thing I could do was knit little squares about the size of a washcloth. I never acquired enough speed to accomplish much.

I remember so well the excitement of the war ending. About the middle of the afternoon I was on my horse up in the spring pasture hunting rabbits when I saw Dad driving madly toward home, in a very antiquated light Ford Pickup we had then. I knew something must be wrong, so I ran my horse as fast as he could go, and when I stopped to open the gate both Mother and Dad were jumping up and down shouting, “The War Is Over.” Dad said ha had word that a celebration was going on in Artesia, so we jumped in the Ford and took off. Sure enough, when we arrived the excitement was something I’d never seen before. People were milling around and going all directions in the street. There were a number of drunks as well as many solid citizens with a bottle, offering each other a drink. Everything seemed to be forgiven for that day. The Kaiser was hanging in effigy in the center of main street and cars as well as horseback riders were going madly up and down the street shooting at him until at last the poor thing fell to the street where someone promptly set fire to it.

The town of Hope was at that time a very prosperous little community and the center of a lot of activity, both good and bad. There were many cattle and sheep ranchers in which the typical story book feuding existed, so called “range wars.” A mean man was made a little meaner by a shot of whiskey and during some of these town gatherings, a lot of good men were killed over ignorant ideas and petty differences that could have been settled by a little intelligent bargaining. However, these men didn’t always meet in town. Men from each faction were left on the hillside more than once.

I went to high school with a son from each of the lost feuding families. They were nice fellows and seemed normal in every respect, but they were dedicated to “get” each other. Each carried a gun all of the time, even at school. One carried snub-nosed 32 loose in his pocket, but the other one carried his small pistol strapped to his stomach under his shirt. Once we saw: them square off in the hallway during change of classes and believe me, the hallway cleared right quick. Nothing happened though.

The last actual killing I knew of in that area was about 1920. A cattleman and a sheep man met late one evening just a little on the outside of town. Both were horseback, but may have dismounted to argue. The sheepman killed the other, but was wounded in an exchange of shots. Apparently the sheep man's horse ran away from the excitement and since there were no witnesses the sheep man might have been able to run clear had his horse stayed with him. As it was, he found shelter in an old abandoned adobe shack. I suppose the shooting aroused the local deputy, as he went out and found the dead man, then tracked the other one to the shack but was afraid to go in after him. The County Sheriff was sent for.

He was truly a western lawman. A man of great wisdom and absolutely without fear. A picture of him would be a prized possession. He was over six feet tall, very broad-shouldered, small hipped, talked slow and wasted very few words. At this particular time he was getting along in years and he had a full head of white hair. He wore a “ten gallon” hat and since he had been a cowboy in his younger days, he always wore high heeled cowboy boots. His gun belt always looked as though it would slide over the seat of his pants any minute. Anyway, when he arrived at Hope to dig the sheepman out, it was dark, but the local deputy had been standing by to see that the wounded murderer didn’t escape.

The sheriff hollered to the sheep man that he was coming in after him, and as he stepped into the door way, the sheep man fired and missed. That was all the old man needed. He nailed the sheepman with one shot.

I just remembered a little story that hasn’t entered my mind for many long years. A cowboy and a sheepherder were having words, and the cowboy hoped to end things by voicing his opinion of a lowly sheepherder. When the sheep man had a chance to talk, he said, “You know, I don’t ever remember seeing a religious picture of a cowboy holding a calf.”

Another time this sheriff was called to dig a man out- (a situation which I was lightly involved.) Occasionally Dad would have some sharecroppers who were not as honorable as they should have been in splitting the crop yield on the basis that had been agreed upon at planting time. This one character, Garcia, didn’t want to split at all. Apparently, since the crop had not been as good as expected, he felt that he should have all of it. Dad had tried to reason with him, but to no avail.

Garcia lived in an old adobe house on the outskirts of Dayton, and he had hauled all of the corn there. One Saturday morning Dad told me to go down and get another sharecropper and for us to take a team and big wagon up to Garcia’s place. He was going to get a deputy from Artesia and would meet us there. We all arrived about the same time, the middle of the morning. Right in front of Garcia’s house was an old wire fence about six feet from the door and a small wooden gate straight out from the door. We had driven the team up parallel to the fence and stopped only a few feet from the gate. When Dad and the deputy came up, Dad stopped about twenty feet away, almost in a direct line with the door and gate, but the deputy came within five or six feet of the gate and called for Garcia to come out. Garcia did come out and stopped almost at that gate on the other side.

I’ve forgotten the exact conversation except that the deputy explained why we were there, and asked that he be peaceful and allow us to come in and get the corn. Garcia would not move or speak, he just stood there calmly smoking a cigarette until the deputy told him to stand aside as we were coming in. Garcia still did not move, but he did throw his cigarette down behind him, and when his hand came back, it held a small 32 revolver. He seemed to take deliberate aim at the deputy and fired, not just once, but kept on firing. The deputy was carrying his gun belt under a pair of regular farmer’s bib overhauls, so Garcia had fired twice before the deputy could get his six shooter in action. They both continued to face each other, never more than eight or ten feet apart, each trying to kill the other.

Garcia had fired six times, the deputy four, and with that, Garcia’s gun was empty, so he turned and made for the door of his house. Just as Garcia reached the door the deputy used both hands on his gun to take deliberate aim, and fired. He did the same again, just as Garcia went through the door. Believe it or not, with twelve shots fired at close range, neither even touched the other. Early in the exchange, a bullet hit just on the edge of Dad’s shoe, which made him realize he was in the line of fire, so he took off. The sharecropper and I were standing in front of the team, never more than five or six feet from the whole fireworks, and during the shooting, the sharecropper I was with kept yelling to the deputy to kill the S.O.B. It seemed like fun while it was happening, but when it was over, I got so excited I nearly fell apart.

At that point, the deputy decide he needed help, so he sent Dad for the old county sheriff. It took quite a while for him to get there, but finally he did drive up in an old Dodge. After a big “hello,” he slowly dragged his frame out of the car. In addition to his regular gun belt, he carried a 30-30 in a scabbard attached to the back of the front seat. He slowly pulled the rifle out and layed it in the crook of his left arm, then walked over to ask about the trouble. After listening to the story, he thought about it for some time, then slowly and calmly walked to the door of Garcia’s house. As he approached it, he called to Garcia, “Come on out, we won’t hurt you.” I’m sure this was another example of the old sheriff’s luck and courage, because Garcia could have easily shot him through a window. Instead, he came out as calmly as though nothing had happened. The old sheriff said, “Now what did you want to make all of that fuss for, Garcia?” Garcia was handcuffed and taken away while we completed our mission. Had it not been for the seriousness of the situation, it could have easily qualified as a slapstick comedy.

No doubt we feel that our crime situation of today is without parallel, but New Mexico Governor Manuel Armijo wrote in l841---Idleness, the mother of vice, is the cause of the increase in crimes which are daily being committed, notwithstanding the severity of the laws and their rigid execution; the towns are over-run with thieves and murderers - we think it a difficult task to reform the present generation, accustomed to idleness and hardened in vice. But the rising one, receiving new impressions, will easily be guided by principles of a purer morality.”

The multitude of writings covering crime in the pioneering periods of the early West are pointedly toward ignorance and greed. Surely it would seem certain that in purposely coming to a new territory such as New Mexico was described, a man would be in search of adventure and opportunity.

Somewhere along in here, and before I get away from this age bracket, I should mention a real bad summer that Shady, my sister, Judge and I went through which has been the subject of many laughs for us since. Dad, in an attempt to liquidate a bad debt, took in payment of that debt a hay bailer, two buckrakers and a team of horses. I’m sure he felt we could run the thing, but just imagine me about 13, Judge 15, and Shady (Leatha) 18, running a project like that. From a manual labor standpoint I think Judge was the hardest working man I’ve ever known. He was well built and with a set of muscles like Hercules. He could outwork the average man. I was still pretty much on the skinny side, but could handle a real day’s work. Shady had the endurance of a mule and needed every bit of it.

Dad arranged a bailing job, so we started out. We had to hire two boys to run the buckrakes and two men to do the flanking for Judge who fed the hay into the press. Shady did the blocking and I tied off and stacked back That was a real hard job for me, as the bales weighed from sixty to sixty-five pounds and they had to be dragged back fifteen to twenty feet and stacked up to six high on edge. I doubt that I weighed more than 120 pounds at best. We would start from home with the teams right after sun-up and usually get home after dark. In between bailing jobs, we hauled bailed hay to the Atoka track and stacked it in box cars for shipment. I don’t know if any money was ever made on these projects, nor do I recall being paid anything. The nicest part came when Dad disposed of the whole mess, far which we were all glad.

After the summer of bailing hay, Judge and I then went on to another new experience. The little railroad that ran down through the country had let a contract to widen the road bed a foot or so on each side. Judge and I were going by on horseback so stopped to watch for a while. The boss came over and asked if we’d like a job. After looking at each other for a minute, we decided to give it a try.

The pay was to be $2 per day and he would feed us. This set up was only about four miles from home, but bringing our bedrolls and staying there sounded good. The next morning we were there by sun-up and had our first meal. Judge drew a four abreast team pulling a fresno and I drew an old, gotch-eared, red mule and a bay horse hitched to a slip. Dirt was pulled out of the bar pit and dumped on the road bed, but the trick was in loading the slip with dirt because if the cutting edge of the slip started digging in the dirt, the load would get heavier and the team would start speeding up. If, in the loading process, the slip hit a rock or a root the slip would dump, and if you tried to hang on to prevent it, you’d be thrown into the team.

It was a hot summer and dry as a bone, so we worked all day in a cloud of dust making breathing almost impossible. We almost quit the first night, but decided to give it another day. They had the cook shack within fifty feet or so of the corrals, so you might imagine the terrible problem with flies and odor. At supper we found so many flies in our food we just about couldn’t eat it. Breakfast wasn’t so bad, lunch was worse and supper was very bad. On our way out of there we saw the cook sitting with his pants leg pulled up and scratching a big running sore about the size of a dollar bill. At that, we quit!!!

No doubt each section of the country has its own types of characters and I’m sure we were no different than the rest. Some of these characters had earned nicknames perhaps due to some unusual or particular activity or physical defect. At the Flying H ranch we had a dilly in “Chew Tobacco John.” He was a leathery, tough looking old-time cowpoke who, I’m sure, had seen more than his share of life the hard way. A bucking horse was an easy trick for him, and he had few equals in his ability at roping. From the looks and smell of him, I’m sure he’d not had too many baths in his life He never used a razor but did keep his hair and beard under reasonable control with a pair of scissors.

His mouth was forever filled, to almost a breaking point, with chew tobacco, and his chin was always dripping with tobacco juice. He would never remove the tobacco to take a drink of water and seemed to begrudingly do so at meal time. However, just the moment the last bite of food was swallowed, he would reload with chewing tobacco.

His language was colorful to say the least, however, he refrained from the use of the filthy four letter words so common today. You might say his cussing possessed a meaningful dignity.

About a year after I was first at the Flying H ranch a newcomer in the form of a fourteen year old boy came to stay a while. His parents lived in New York where the boy was born and had lived to his present age. The lad had developed consumption and the disease, together with medication and family coddling had combined to give the boy little to live for. The boy, in fact, because of being sent so far away from home, was convinced he’d been sent there to die. Boarding arrangements had been made with a family in Artesia, who were next door neighbors of Mr. Ward’s.

Mr. Ward, owner of the flying H ranch had become acquainted with the boy when he’d seen him all bundled up sitting in a rocking chair on the porch next door. Mr. Ward seemed to have a soft spot in his heart for kids and especially for this poor little fellow who only weighed about fifty pounds and was so convinced he was going to die. Arrangements were made to let Mr. Ward take the boy to the ranch for a while. The cowboys accepted the little fellow immediately and began an attempt to change his attitude and role as an invalid. The boys chipped in to buy him a cowboy hat and high heeled boots. I think the Kid’s name was Rupert, but the cowboys would have none of that, so they nicknamed him “Salty.”

He was encouraged to stay outside in the fresh air and walk for exercise. It wasn’t long before Salty was gaining spirit, appetite, and putting on weight. By the time he was seventeen, he was a real bronc rider and a good all around cowhand. His body and muscles had developed until he resembled a good athlete. He certainly lived up to his adopted name, “Sally”

A slip of the tongue brought about the name of “Skillet.” Mr. Will owner of the Swastika () ranch, was running a roundup wagon branding calves and gathering sale cattle in the regular fall work. At this time, his eldest son was the chuck wagon cook. When a meal was ready, It was not unusual for the cook to hammer on the potrack and yell, “Chuck, come and get it before I throw it out and ---- in the skillet.” With this announcement made, in loud clear tones, he turned around to face two unexpected guests, and the embarrassment of his life: his mother and the girl he was soon to marry. From then on he was known as “Skillet.” I don’t even remember hearing his right name.

The loss of one eye and some disfigurement around the eye socket, no doubt, resulted in the nickname of "Gotcheye” for a Mexican whose real name, I believe, was Lopez. While I was quite small I had known him for some time, but I’d never heard him called anything but “Gotcheye.”

One day I was riding with Mother in the buggy and we met the man and, of course, I yelled out, “Hello, Gotcheye.” Apparently Mother took a dim view of such disrespect and she yanked me over her knee and really raised a rumpus on my rear end. I’m sure I was screaming bloody murder, but actually I wasn’t so bad off as I wan on my Mother’s left side. She had to use her left hand for the spanking which carried not nearly as much strength as her right hand. No doubt had I been on the other side, she could have raised a blister with the wallop she carried in her right arm. I just wonder if it would have been alright had I said, “Mr. Gotcheye.”

“Hanger,” that was an unusual nickname that came about in a most unusual way. A rancher’s wife had given birth to a two and a half pound boy and the chances of his survival seemed remote. I don’t know if incubators were in use then, but certainly none were available away out in that country. The best they had to offer was to put cotton in a shoe box as a bed for the little fellow, then set the box in a warm area behind the wood burning cook stove. Turns were taken by other children in keeping a good fire going, also feeding the baby with an eye dropper.

The Mother was a tall raw-boned woman, who talked with a slow southern drawl. Many times daily as she made routine inspections of her newborn she would say, “Hang on sonny.” Also when the Father came in the house, his first question would be, “Is the boy still hanging on?” When the little fellow did begin to grow, he was nicknamed “Hanger.” When he was a young man about eighteen years old, he stood six feet, two inches and weighed 180 pounds.

One of the TX cowboys, Pete, developed a natural nickname through habit. The ranch was located in the flat, dry, alkali country and as you’d ride along the alkali dust would rise and at times create breathing problems. (Pictures usually show cowboys with a bandana around their neck, which is used for two purposes. One is for the covering of the nose during dusty periods and the other is to protect the lips from getting sun cracked.) Anytime Pete cane in the ranch house, he’d always head for the whiskey bottle to, “Cut that - - - alkali out of my throat.” For that habit, he was tagged “Alkali” or “Alkali Pete”. Alkali had a keen sense of humor and could usually find something funny even in a bad situation. Once, while ribbing the boss he used an expression in the funniest way that I’d ever heard before. We were riding from about daylight until dark so he told the boss it was a D---- good thing he’d hired out in the day time or he’d never have known the color of the ranch house. One day someone asked Alkali Pete why he didn’t carry a gun, to which he replied, “Don’t think I need one, but if I ever do carry one, it will be made of candy so if I have to eat it it. won’t taste so bad.”

When range conditions are bad or there is lots of round-up work to be done, most. ranches get their hands up by about 3:30 or 4:00 a.m., and after a hard day of riding, might be eating supper in complete darkness. It was not. uncommon for some witty cowboy to wisecrack, “It don’t take long to spend a night here;” or “If you wake up and feel your clothes and they are cool, you have overslept.”

One of the boys I went to high school with, also we played football together, had the quickest draw in the west on rebuttals. He had a very dry humor and was never stuck for an immediate tart reply. One evening we were in town and had just come out of the show and were standing on the edge of the sidewalk. Soon a nice looking girl came out, who also went to school with us, but somehow she felt she was above such riffraff as we, so she ignored us and started toward home. My friend asked her if he might walk home with her to which she replied, “I’m particular who I walk with.” My friend’s immediate reply was, “I’m not particular or I wouldn’t have asked you.” We called him Chig, short for Chigger...a bug that bites hard.

A man’s name of Ocie, recently in the news brought to mind an unusual incident.

A family living in the Dayton area had two children, a boy named Ocie and a girl named Onie. At the time I’m thinking of, Onie would be about sixteen years old. A circus had come to Artesia, about ten miles from where Onie lived, but she walked up the railroad tracks to see the excitement. While there, she met a young fellow connected with the circus, and somehow, during their very brief meeting they found a common interest in each other and decided that it would be a good idea to get married. Afterwards, they were both planning to work for the circus.

Onie had several strikes against her in that she was overweight and sloppy, her hair was about a light sorrel and never seemed to be combed, plus her breath, perhaps due to a stomach disorder, had an olfactory rating equal to what you might expect from a gorilla’s arm pit. She rarely ever wore a clean dress, and at the time of her walk to the circus, she was barefoot.

The young circus boy walked with her back to her home in Dayton, where I suppose they obtained her parent’s consent to marry. I don’t know who might have married them, but about mid-afternoon the next day, I met them walking barefoot down the railroad tracks carrying a small knapsack, which I imagine contained all of their possessions.

The circus had left Artesia the night before, and they were going to walk sixty miles to Roswell in the hopes of rejoining the circus there. It would be interesting to know the results of such a union.

I believe some of the old timers allowed their strong belief in the “Good Book” as a reason, at times, to withstand physical discomfort.

A case in mind concerns a man named Delk who lived somewhere west of Lakewood on a small place he was improving for farming. There were some large stumps and rocks that required blasting with dynamite in order to reduce them in size to where they could be handled.

One of the charges he had set did not explode according to his timing and after waiting what he felt was adequate time, Mr. Delk walked up to where the dynamite had been set. As he neared the location, the dynamite exploded causing him much bodily injury. The worst of the accident was to his eyes as they were blown to shreds.

Quite some tine after the accident we visited him, and while all skin injury had healed, he was sightless. In telling about the accident he said they took him to the hospital in Carlsbad, where he was given treatment. Several of the wounds had dirt and rock embedded deep in the flesh, also the eyeballs were destroyed and had to be removed from their sockets. The accident, together with the necessary operation, would be a horrible shock to Mr. Delk’s system. The doctor wanted to give him chloroform to put him to sleep and ease the pain, but Mr. Delk would have no part of it. He said the Lord was punishing him for some wickedness and he intended to bear the pain and repent.

Once, at one of the public dances, I heard of one of the most unusual apologies of a lifetime.

Like most areas, we had one genuine character that could be rated an “all time winner” in the form of a tall, thin, redheaded young fellow who carried the nickname of “Peck.” This was probably because of his large and beaklike nose. He always seemed to be the center of attraction in mischief and was looked upon as somewhat a leader by the other boys. The girls, however, generally regarded his as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” Most of the real nice girls preferred to keep him at a distance and so it was at a dance one night.

Peck noticed a pretty girl, one of his acquaintances, sitting on the side line so went aver and asked her to dance. She apparently did not care for him, so declined, but then she accepted a request from another boy. No doubt Peck considered that a challenge, so went back a couple more times and was again refused, but again the girl accepted other requests. He went back once more, only to be refused in a manner that stung, so Peck retaliated with, “Well, then just kiss my - - -.” Naturally she was offended and went to her brother and repeated tho insult.

The brother went immediately to Peck and told him that while they were friends he did not intend to allow such an incident stand without challenge. Peck, in a light hearted manner said he would go over and apologize. The two went over to the offended young lady. Peck asked her if she remembered the remark he made, and tearfully the said she did, then he said, ‘Well, you don’t have to unless you want to.”

Almost every ranch or rural house has a dog that is generally thought of as a watchdog that will protect or at least alert its master that something or somebody is approaching. The people of the Flying H ranch didn’t like having a dog around, but they did have a sure fire alarm in a pair of peacocks. Those birds must have had some special sensing devise or acute hearing because strange noises or objects, even at considerable distances away never escaped their warnings. They also must have had an agreeable working schedule between them, because it would be vary rare, during the daylight hour’s, not to find one up in a tree as an observer. When the cocks let out their blood curdling scream, you could be sure something unusual was happening. I had seen peacocks before but had never heard their scream until I road into the Flying H ranch f or the first time.

After returning home from the Flying H, I don’t recall anything particular happening over the winter except to break a few horses for the Four Dinkus (four) ranch. In thinking of this ranch, I’m reminded of one time when Agnes was home for a visit. I knew they were having a roundup at the Four Dinkus main ranch and there would be some men there I wanted to see. Since I was going out in the car, I asked Agnes to go along. When we got there and saw all the cattle and cowboy; she asked almost with alarm, “Where are all the soldiers?’ she thought I had said I was going to “Fort Inkus.”

I enjoyed being at this ranch. “Old Bill,” one of the owners, was a grizzled old bachelor, but a priceless cook. He liked me, and anytime I was there he would go overboard in making pies and lots of other good things to eat. He also liked to talk as well as I liked to listen to him, so we made a good pair. Old Bill had led a rough pioneer life and had a wealth of experiences.

There was quite a difference in the horses at the Four Dinkus ranch, and the ones at Flying H. Mostly, the horses used in the mountains are smaller because they are faster and more sure footed in the rough terrain. Most of the flat country saddle horses are larger and about 200-400 pounds heavier. Most of the Four Dinkus horses were large, but they had the same natural instincts in resisting the change from being able to roam the range at their pleasure, to becoming man’s servant. They were harder to handle because of their size and could buck awfully hard; however, they were intelligent and easier to control and make gentle.

They could be taught the tricks of being a good cow horse in about half the time it took to break and teach the Spanish and Indian ponies. Somehow, I always liked the little ones better because they were so active and fast, also just like a cat on their feet in rough going.

I’ll digress a moment to tell about one time we had rounded up about 200 head of horses and were holding them in a circle on the open range while some were being roped, for a variety of purposes. I was riding a small well trained cow horse that I’m sure didn’t weigh over 800 pounds. I was sitting on him and guarding my area of the roundup just minding my own business when suddenly a great big bundle of snorting horse-flesh came charging out of the herd on a dead run. The boss yelled at me to rope him, and since there was no thought of questioning the boss’ orders, I whirled my little horse and started taking my rope down for the catch. It was quite a race over rough ground with lots of brush.

The closer I got the worse the situation looked because that wild horse was so much larger than the one I was riding that if I did make a lucky catch, we just might be dragged down the mountain side. There was no face-saving way out, so as I got close enough, I made a small loop in the hope I could go over his head and tighten quick1y high up on his neck so I would have more advantage. I’m sure I never made a luckier catch in my life. When that big horse hit the end of my rope, I’m sure he jerked my horse at least four or five feet in the air, but when we landed my little cow horse had landed on him feet and we managed to complete the job. Later the boss said he regretted telling me to rope the wild one because after doing so he realized how small ray horse was and felt sure I’d never make it without getting my horse jerked down, and resulting in injury to me.

A ranch adjoining the Four Dinkus was the 44. Incidentally, so far as I know, the 44 brand had nothing to do with the song, “Strawberry Roan.” However, they did have a bunch of horses that would well fit the one in the song.

I have no idea what breed their horses were, but many were dapple grey and all of them had what we called “glass eyes.” The brothers that owned the ranch were breaking horses the year around and when I’d get brave enough I’d go over and work with them for a few days. I suppose they could have been kidding, but they always talked of making a professional bronc rider out of me. They were able to show me quite a lot about riding the real mean high buckers but I was convinced I’d never be in the top brackets as a bronc rider. They also showed me how to throw a running horse while you were riding without getting hurt, and I was glad for the trick as it came in real handy about a year later. That trick just may have saved my life.

July 4th was always something to look forward to because of a three day rodeo, barbeque and dance at Hope. The rodeo was, as opposed to today’s shows, truly a wild west show. The bucking stock were mean high rollers from local ranches such as “White Man,” a large and very beautiful pure white stallion with long flowing mane and tail. He was a real hard bucker, but too often had a bad habit of rearing up and falling over backward if he could not throw a rider with his regular routine of bucking tricks. “White Man” always provided the top thrill of the show. When a ride was completed, he would be brought back to the chute to be unsaddled and then turned loose to high trot the length of the field, where he seemed to know he was on display. Unfortunately, two men had been killed in attempt to ride him. After the second man was killed, “White Man” was retired, never to be ridden again.

Other real hard bucking horses were: Eve, Cole Younger, Two Step, Tipperary, Tumbling Weed, Altitude, Yellow Jacket, and several others whose names I’ve forgotten. A good bucking horse, then, had a real bag of tricks, such as sun fishing, change of pace, and an occasional whirl. Each had its own free style. It’s rare to see a good bucking horse today, since so many of them lack the ability to really perform. A kicking strap is used around their flank which causes the animal to kick and has a tendency to jerk the saddle from under the rider.

Usually the steers for steer riding, which have been replaced in recent years with Brahma bulls, were the biggest old mossy~horned steers to be found on the local ranges. Here again, it took a real man with riding ability to stay aboard. While some of the Brahma bulls used now do a fair job of bucking, the kicking strap and their loose hide are factors that detach most riders.

Action from the so-called Humane Society has resulted in many changes that have had a tendency to reduce the skill required in rodeo performance. They should extend their services to the open range where the animals would be taught not to kick, hook or otherwise mistreat each other that frequently is more damaging than rodeo treatment.

Rodeo management has also made changes that enrich their purses to a greater extent than testing the skill of a cowboy. In the early twenties we had a number of world champions from our area, and they were either owners or ranch hands for local ranches.

The World Champion Cowboy for 1970 and 1971 has never even worked on a ranch. I can’t even help but wonder just how he would have fared under the old rules and with the stock we had. Our rodeos featured quite a few more events in which the true skill of a cowboy was tested. Apparently, the modern day rodeo gives only sufficient events for a fast moving show and attempt to justify the admission charge. Our admission charge was 50 for the covered grandstand and all other areas were free. Our show would usually start between 9:30 and 10:00 a.m. At noon there would be an hour or so break so that everybody might enjoy a big free barbecue. Beef steers, goats, and lamb were supplied free by the ranchers. Ranchers’ wives and daughters used the barbecue fire to bake monstrous loaves of sour dough bread and boil potatoes for great dishes of potato salad, and barrels of strong black coffee. Pickles and other goodies were supplied by local merchants.

When daylight activities drew to a close, the dance platform would light up and music began for a long evening of good dancing. Older people who did not take part in dancing would build nice campfires and spend the evening visiting.

In addition to the regular rodeo, there would also be three or four horse races. The races would be matched events and usually a cowboy would ride his own horse. The course would be a straight run of 200 to 300 yards. Betting between the men would often become quite spirited. In between the 4th of July events, we would have our own little rodeos. There would be no prize money as the whole thing was just for fun. When there wasn’t something of a community nature going on, a group of young fellows would get together at someone’s place where there would be calves and steers for roping and riding. Frequently there would be young unbroken horses for cringle and saddle riding.

We sure had a lot of fun and it was rare that anyone got hurt seriously. Now and then we’d get our breath knocked out or our feelings hurt, like happened to me one time in bulldogging. A new boy wanted to herd for me, and it never occurred to me that he might not know what he should do to protect me. Anyway, I selected a real good long-horned steer and away we went. We were in a dead run, and I was concentrating on the right time to leave my horse in order to hit the steer at the right time. Just as I jumped, with my hands all set to catch the steer’s horns, the blasted brute stopped because my herder was not in the right place. Just as it stopped, my hands barely caught the horns enough to flip me over and I landed flat on my back seeing stars. After a few strong words in questioning my herder’s ancestry, the show went on.

Another funny thing happened to me at one of these Sunday rodeos. The community was blessed with a real fine pitching bull called “Pecos Valley,” He had been shipped around the country for several years to be used in rodeos, and no one had been able to ride him more than a few jumps. Even one of our local cowboys, who was then world champion bull rider, had failed in several attempts on “ PecosValley.” In a pasture nearby was a three year old son of “ PecosValley’ and he was reported to be a “chip off the old block”, just not so big. A five dollar pot was made up for me to ride him. Off we went with ropes all ready for a thrilling catch. One rope caught him by the horns but could not hold him. Another rope caught his hind legs forcing him down. My circingle was a real good one with a new cinch. We had quite a job getting it on and pulled up tight while he was lying down. After much struggling, we finally got it in place and I got aboard. The rope was taken off his horns and I gave the signal to “Let ‘er buck.” That bundle of snorting, quivering energy seemed to catapult to his feet for a couple of steps, then he took off straight for the moon. While in the air he flexed himself--which broke the new cinch. I kept right on going and landed a good twenty feet away with my legs spread out and on the seat of my pants. The sudden stop (without any give to the ground) just about jarred all of my teeth loose. I still had a firm hold on the cringle. I finally argued the boys out of the five dollars because they hadn’t said how far I was to ride him.

A while back I mentioned that I had traded my chaps for a six-shooter. Perhaps I’d better explain some of the equipment used by cowboys. It would be my guess that the original cowboy, as we picture him in western history, came in from Mexico because so many things used in a cowboy’s work have Mexican names.

I should interrupt here to mention that our real early history, before the west was opened for cattle ranching, gives details of many cattle drives from southern states to the northern market. These drives were handled by men on foot and were referred to as drovers.

Now, back to the equipment. “Chapererros” is a Mexican word meaning heavy leg covering. But “Chapererros” being so hard for many people to pronounce, was no doubt shortened to “chaps.” Most chaps are made of fairly heavy, flexible leather that fold around the leg leaving a long wing on the outside. The seat is not closed and the open back part of the leg is held together by a few straps and snaps. The chaps are a real necessity in thorny brush country as well as being helpful in cold weather. In some colder sections of the country, cowboys use chaps made from Angora goat hide with the wool on the outside.

Another good thing to have in thorny brush country is “Tapaderos.” Again, the long word is reduced to “Taps.” The top part looks like an oversized boot that fastens to the stirrup in a manner to protect the foot while in the stirrup. The lower part of the taps frequently had a long fancy leather hanging down from the stirrup, but most of the conservative cowboys just used a cut off version, without the fancy hanging, which served as a good protection for the foot.

The “Hackamore’ is apparently another rearrangement of the Mexican name of Jaquima, which means headstall and could be of several kinds. Since the “J” in the Mexican language is pronounced like an “H” the word would sound like “Hakeema” which, no doubt, gradually became “Hackamore.”

The hackamore is somewhat on the order of a halter, in that it does not have a bit, and is used in breaking a bronc. It is made of rope and ordinarily the nose piece is a heavy rope about one inch in diameter. The headstall is of lighter rope. Some of the more expensive and fancy hackamores are made of plaited raw hide, and I have seen some made of braided and plaited horse hair. The hackamore reins are detachable and also have a Mexican name of “Mecate,” which again has been corrupted to “McCarty.”

Other equipment used by cowboys was pretty much the same where ever you’d meet them. While saddle styles are much the same, the frame sizes would differ according to the size horses used in different areas. In areas where Spanish and Indian ponies were used for working stock on a cattle ranch a smaller frame saddle was needed to fit their small backs, and conversely, a large-framed saddle would be used where larger horses were used. The larger horses are more commonly used in the flat and sandy country whereas the smaller ones were best in the mountains.

A good cow horse is very valuable to a cowboy and most generally must be given the same consideration as the cowboy. A saddle horse that has been poorly shod, too tightly cinched, or wearing ill fitted saddle would be just as bad off as a cowboy with poorly fitted boots, hat, or clothes.

In areas where a lot of roping is necessary a double rigged saddle is common, that is, it had two cinches. In other areas the three quarter rigged or center fire are used, but they are not practical for everyday ranch work. Some of the best saddles made for hard use come from the Miles City Saddle Company in Miles City, Montana.

Cowboys as a whole are very fussy about their boots and insist on the three inch high, undershot heel to keep the foot from going through the stirrup. The heel is also built to hold a spur in place. Most of the boots worn today are what we’d call “walking boots,” and were only worn by farmers and dudes. Certainly no self-respecting cowboy would ever want to be caught dead wearing a pair of them.

In our section of the country, cowboys used a 33 foot rope that was always tied to the saddle horn when roping was to be done. This not only required a good strong saddle and cinch, but a very knowledgeable horse. Other sections of the country used longer ropes, sometimes 40 feet or over, and when a catch was made, they’d wrap the rope around the horn and were able to give slack as needed is they were not riding a well-trained horse.

The correct wrap is clockwise, but some wrapped counter clockwise and frequently wound up with a finger in the wrap which could result in the loss of a finger if the roped animal hit the end of the line at the wrong time. The Mexican expression for the wrap is “Dale uno Vuelta,” which means “take a turn around.” Americans shortened the expression to “Dally.”

Another item of pride to a cowboy is a good pair of spurs. The real fancy boy liked spurs with large rowels that made a lot of noise. As a bronc breaker, I liked them because when I had to hook my spur into a bucking horse in order to hang on, the spurs would not cause an injury or leave a mark. I fixed the rowles so they would not turn, which also helped me to hang on, and they made no noise. The most popular style for general use was the small star rowel, and those who could afford it had them silver mounted.

A good rope, or lariat, was always a joy to have. By far, the greatest number of them are made from choice hemp and are treated to maintain just the right amount of stiffness to hold a good loop. A good roping horse will put you in the right position to use a 33 foot rope to the best advantage. A few raw hide or hair ropes are to be found, but they are far more expensive and less adaptable to everyday use.

The group of horses taken on roundup and handled by a wrangler is refered to as the remuda, which again is a Mexican word meaning “exchange.” In other words, the exchange horses for the cowboys’ working use are in a group referred to as “Remuda.” Depending on the type of range and hard use, each cowboy with the roundup wagon will have from ten to fifteen horses in his mount, sometimes “exchanging” twice each day.

Sometime in the early 20’s the so called German flu ran rampart through the country and quite a few people in our area died from it. The epidemic did not pass us by and both Mother and I became very sick. Dad called one doctor from Artesia but in spite of his best efforts, there was no improvement for a couple of weeks. I began to improve some, but poor Mother just seemed to gradually go downhill until one day Dad made a frantic call for the doctor to get there quick. He was there soon, but after spending a few minutes with her he came out to tell Dad there just wasn’t anything more he could do for her and now it was just a matter of time until the end. Dad was certainly in despair.

There was another doctor In Artesia, a very brilliant man, but a chronic drunk. The heavy use of liquor is something Dad just could not tolerate, but in this case he didn’t seem to have a choice. I remember overhearing the phone call in which Dad said, “Doc, you know I don’t like you because of the booze, but my woman is dying and I need you now. Will you come quickly?’ It was about five miles to Artesia, but I’m sure it was not more than twenty or thirty minutes until the new doctor arrived in a cloud of dust. The old cuss was so drunk he could hardly unwrap his long legs getting out of the old Model T Ford and stagger to the door.

Dad stuck out his hand to more or less apologize and welcome him, then took him to Mother’s bed. She was so sick and helpless but I think she must have registered some disgust at the sight of the doctor, as she shared Dad’s dislike of him because of the booze. Doc stroked her forehead while taking her temperature and told her not to worry as he’d have her well and on her feet in a few days. And “May the saints be praised,” by morning she showed great signs of improvement. Within a couple of weeks she was slowly and weakly going about her daily tasks.

This was not an unusual tribute to the drunken doctor, but in spite of the social problems it caused, he apparently had to have the booze for daily operation. Certainly he had a magic touch and we were forever grateful to him.

At l5, when spring came, I began to wonder what was over the next hill, so one morning in about the middle of May, I took off. I left in the morning before daybreak with three of my own horses. My extra clothing and what food I was carrying was in the bedroll packed on one of the extra horses. Actually, I didn’t have any plan of where I was going, so I didn’t mention anything to Mother and Dad. I just headed west and I don’t ever remember hearing of Horace Greely. ( Horace Greely was a newspaper reporter who made famous the expression, “Go west young man, go west.”

I went by the Four Dinkus ranch and stayed a day. There I got suckered into a trade for one of my extra horses in exchange for one that was much on the wild side. This was a foolish trick since I was traveling alone. My camp the first night after leaving the Four Dinkus was still in the low rolling foothills where I found a water-hole and pitched my bedroll among the sagebrush. The next morning I decided to try my new horse, but soon discovered he was a little rougher than I had bargained for. I finally got the saddle on, but then couldn’t get on except by tying a hind leg up to the saddle horn then release it once I was on board. That didn’t seem like a good idea, so I sat down to figure it out. I decided that maybe, even if I did get on him, he might throw me and run off with my saddle. Certainly a cowboy never intentionally walks anywhere, so rather than give up, I decided to try tying his neck to the neck of my old standby, a horse by the pet name of ”Death Valley.” He was a beautiful black.

I used my lariat to neck them so they could stand about a foot apart. That was the right answer to my problem. It was still a fight to got on, but being tied to the other horse, he couldn’t get his head down to buck hard enough to throw me. I must have been quite a sight and, no doubt, if some old hand had come along about that time, he would have had a good laugh. After a few hours my bronc was getting tired enough for me to risk untying their necks. I rode him the next day also and I guess he finally decided to accept his fate because he became quite gentle.

Then another problem came up. I hadn’t put shoes on him before leaving the Four Dinkus and we were in mountain country where the rocks were making him tender footed, so I quit riding him until I could hit a ranch and get shoes for him.

A day or so later I ran into a little nester outfit that was certainly a strange layout. When I hit there, the sun was still pretty well up and I rode toward a little corral and barn. A big, tall, rangy follow appeared with a big “hello.” He looked much like a scarecrow, but was very friendly and wore a constant grin. I told him that I needed a set of shoes for my horse. We looked, but couldn’t find anything that we could make work. I made ready to go but he wouldn’t hear of it. He absolutely insisted I at least stay overnight, and in fact wanted no to stay several days because he said they rarely saw anyone and would like to visit. We took care of the horses and then we went to the house where I was much surprised to see a very beautiful girl that seemed to be about my age. He introduced me to his wife with a wave of his hand, but she was so bashful that she wouldn’t look up.

I’m sure I added to her embarrassment because I couldn’t seem keep my eyes off of her. She wore a gingham dress that looked like she had taken about three yards of cloth, cut a hole in the center for her neck then sewed up the sides leaving arm holes. She did not wear shoes or stockings. Her hair was beautifully black and came down well over her shoulders. What an odd pair. He was so tall and homely and she so much smaller, trim, and pretty.

When he told her I’d be there for dinner, she tore out of the house and was soon back with a dressed chicken for the occasion. She was so bashful it must have been painful. I would try talking to her but when an answer was called for, she found the shortest possible way to reply and always looked at the dirt floor. (It was an adobe house.) She hardly ate anything for dinner but her discomfort didn’t dull my appetite. They hadn’t mentioned children so I was surprised when after dinner he gathered some food and said he’d feed the “younguns.” When he saw my look he explained that they had seen me coming and had run into the brush. I saw them at quite a distance. A little boy and a smaller girl, maybe four or five years old. He later took quilts out as they even refused to come to the barn for fear I’d come out. He said the year before they decided to go to a 4th of July gathering about fifty miles away, so hooked up their wagon and loaded in food and bedding for the trip. He said that when they came in sight of the gathering the children jumped out of the wagon and ran for the brush. He kept on in the hopes they would come in but they didn’t.

It was almost dark when they got there, so he went back, but the children wouldn’t even answer his call and they stayed out all night in the chill mountain air without food or covers. He did find them the next day, but even though they stayed at the gathering for three days, the children refused to come in.

After leaving this place I wasn’t following any road or trail so I didn’t hit another ranch the rest of the trip. I was just following the sun. When I reached the high mountains and heavy timber country, I went through the canyon where Dad brought his eighteen year old bride by covered wagon somewhere in the early 1880’s.

I’ll digress a moment to relate some of the highlights I was told about their life there. They picked out a home site and cut logs to build a “Choza.” While it is essentially a log house, it is built half underground by digging down about three feet, then logs complete the rest. Logs are laid across the top and covered with sod, where grass, flowers, and weeds grow to keep from washing the sod away. The floor was packed dirt. There they managed to hack out some kind of living and two children were born there without the benefit of a doctor or midwife. Just Dad, Mother, and the new arrival. As time went by and they needed money for supplies, etc., Dad rode Pony express, so to speak, on a mail contract from Seven Rivers to You Crossing.

Actually it was not Pony Express in that he was riding against time. At first he took care of the contract with just a saddle horse, but later as mail and light freight increased, it was necessary to use a team and light wagon. Before the contract was completed, Dad found it necessary to hire a man to help him but for some unknown reason the man tried to kill Dad, perhaps for money the man thought was being carried, but anyway, the relationship was discontinued.

Later he drove an eleven horse team hauling freight from Pecos and Carlsbad up into the Guadalupe Mountains. This was, of course, a hardship on Mother. Such a small and little thing by herself except the small children. The nearest neighbor would probably be twenty or thirty miles away. The Mescalero Indian reservation was not too far away and I remember Mother telling me how scared she would be when the Indians would come down and bother things, also steal whatever they could. This stealing was mostly at night because in the daytime she had an old rifle to even things up with. She must have had quite a life there.

Now, back to my trip. After many miles up James Canyon where Mother and Dad lived, I came to a big fence which marked the boundary of the Indian reservation. Soon I came to a gate that would let me through in the direction I wanted to go. Just through the gate was a nice patch of grass and my horses made a dive for it. I didn’t have the heart to force them on until they had some grazing even though the grass was different than I’d ever seen. This turned out to be a mistake as that luscious greenery was “Sleepy Grass.” Within an hour or so, my saddle horse was falling asleep, then would stumble and fall to his knees before waking up. Obviously the horses were very sick, and I didn’t know what to do.

I had just about decided to stop for the night when I came to a clearing where there were several Indian teepees. There were about twenty Indians and I finally located one who knew a few words of Spanish and some English, so between the two of us I found out about sleeping grass. After some jabbering among themselves one stirred up some stuff which we forced down the horse’s throats. I stayed with the Indians a couple of days, which I was glad to do as I was almost out of grub and the horses needed a chance to recover from their sickness. I was not exactly excited about some of the mess the Indians cooked up, but at least it didn’t have sleepy grass in it. After the two days, two of the horses looked okay, but my best one was still pretty sick.

I didn’t go too far the first day after leaving the Indians. When I came to a good waterhole I hobbled the horses and threw my bedroll near the edge of some heavy timber. I was lying on my bedroll with my head propped up on my arm watching the horses fade away as total darkness came on, when suddenly one of them snorted real loud and they started to run as best they could with the hobbles on. The scent of a panther is about the only thing that will bring about that reaction. I looked around and about thirty feet behind me was a big pair of eyes staring at me. I had a pistol in my bedroll so I fired at the eyes. I must have missed as the next morning I saw no evidence of a hit. I was not bothered again that night, but the next morning I had a long walk before I heard the tinkle of the bell I always put on one horse. When I walked up to them, they were still excited and snorting a little.

Once before I had had a little excitement with a panther. I was riding to the old “Wagon Red” Thayer ranch just before sundown when my horse started acting strange and wanting to run. I looked around and about fifty yards away was a panther running at about the same pace. I slowed down and so did he. I’d speed up again and so would he. I stopped and so did he, by then I realized that I didn’t have a gun, so I jumped the horse off into a run. By that time I was getting fairly close to the ranch house and the cat decided to turn off. That night at supper I was telling about experience and Mr. Thayer had a great time laughing about it. He said that the panther was only playing with me. I’ll never believe it!

The next day’s travel took me pretty well down the western slope of the mountain. Far down in the valley I could see the outline of the town of Tularosa, but still too far to ride before dark.

Right at that spot I pulled a very stupid stunt that normally could be attributed only to a rank tenderfoot--and here I was a seasoned old hand of fifteen. After turning my horses loose for the night I put my bedroll out on a nice grassy spot in the bottom of a little draw. After cleaning up the last few scraps of food, I lay on my bed watching the millions of stars and the Milky Way. The next morning, just about daybreak, a little storm came over. Thunder, lightning and a downpour of rain for just a little while, but at least long enough to send a rush of about eight inches of water down the little draw. It completely saturated both me and my bedroll, along with every stitch of clothes, matches, and other gear. I had slept with my clothes on except for my boots and now I couldn’t get them on.

The horses were close by and even they seamed to be laughing at my sorry plight. After the shower, nature being so helpful, a nice cool breeze started blowing. I was so cold that I turned a nice shade of blue and I was shaking so hard I nearly came apart. Surely I had a problem. I had to figure out some way to get my boots on as there were too many sharp rocks for my tender feet. Finally I was ebb to get them on without socks, but took some skin along. When I got to the horses, I put the inside of my coat down on the back of one and stood between the other two until I quit shaking. My bedroll was sure a soggy mess and when I pulled  the pack ropes, a good amount of water ran out. I started down the hill, still half frozen but at long last the nice warm sun came out so I stopped, took the bedroll apart and spread it and other gear over the bushes to dry. It didn’t take long as the air was very dry and evaporation was fast. Then I realized how hungry I was. No breakfast and the few scraps I’d had the night before had long since vanished.

I reached the little town of Tularosa past midmorning. On the edge of town was a livery stable, so I arranged for my horses and fed them, then I started for the nearest cafe. There were only two in town and as I was reaching the first one they were locking the door. It was “Decoration Day,” and there was to be a parade between eleven and twelve that morning. What a parade! The main part was made up of a dozen or so World War I vets who were in only parts of their old uniforms and not all sober, but I’m sure their spirit to the memory was 100%. At long last, the cafe opened and my hunger was satisfied.

That afternoon I visited up and down the street with several fellows who were just “Sittin’ and whittling”. One told me he was sure that I could get a job with the “Hatchet” (five) ranch about 18 miles north. I was short on money, so that night I slept in the hay at the livery stable where my homes were.

The next morning I was off at the crack of dawn and reached the main ranch house a little before noon. I was lucky to catch the boss and several cowboys in the bunkhouse. The boss was pointed out and I asked for a job. Me looked me over pretty good, then asked me how old I was. I was sure I would not be hired if I said fifteen, so I asked him to make a guess. He said about twenty-one, so I told him he had made a good guess. He said the only thing he’d have for me was breaking horses and he asked how good I was as a bronc buster. One thing I had learned long before was never to brag. You surely will be tested. Anyway, I really had nothing to brag about. He said that I could start that afternoon and my pay would be $45.OO per month and board. That was top hand pay and I was real proud.

Then he went out to look at my outfit. (Old timers used to think they could tell a lot about a man by the saddle and bridle he rode.) Actually that is fiction I’m sure, but there is a big difference in saddle frames. If you came from the Spanish horse country you would likely have a small frame saddle that would make a sore on a large horse. Also, they did not like to see a high curb bit as it hurts a horses mouth. I had a medium frame saddle and a low curb bit with no fancy trimmings, So I met with favor, on that point anyway.

After lunch he sent some of the boys out into tho horse trap to bring in ten or so broncos for me to start on. He told me I was on my own, but he thought I could handle three or four each day. Each horse was to be ridden at least five times before being turned into the regular remuda. The boss said the ranch rule was: from the cinch up belonged to the company and from the cinch back belonged to me. In other words, what he meant was that a horse was not to be spurred in the shoulder or hit over the head.

I’m sure I hadn’t fooled them too much on my age, but at least they went along with me and helped where they could. I kept my mouth shut because cowboys as a whole are a rather silent lot and one thing they won’t tolerate is a mouthy kid.

In breaking broncos we had our own way of rough handling them for quick and effective results that would horrify some of the so-called horsemen  I’ve listened to in recent years. We would rope one of the young wild horses and put a hackamore on that had a 50 foot heavy rope attached. The horse would then be taken out in an open area where the stake rope would be tied to a log that was just heavy enough that the bronco could not drag it yet light enough to move when the horse ran and hit the end of the line. Of course, when we re1eased our hold the bronco felt that ho was again free and would run full tilt until he hit the end of the stake rope where he received his first real lesson on the meaning of the hackamore and rope that held him in captivity. He might repeat that several times, often throwing himself by reason of the sudden stop.

You will notice that I refer to the animal as he. Ranches rarely, if ever, use mares for saddle stock. Cowboys have a particular view on that score and prefer to use only geldings for their cow horses. However, their ideas do not seem to apply to harnessed work animals.

After an overnight stay on the stake line, the horse has learned a valuable lesson as to the meaning of the rope and surprising as it may seem he has learned to lead easily. In addition he has absorbed his first lesson in standing still when the rope, or reins, are down on the ground. During the night stake-out the bronc’s nose would become tender by reason of running against the rope. The tenderness is a big assist in teaching him to respond to the reins when riding.

Several animals might be on a stake line at once, but each in his turn would be brought into the round corral. There would be no preliminary to saddling the first time except a few kind words while stroking and petting his head, neck and withers. The saddle blanket and saddle are put on immediately. If there was someone to help they could hold his head and ear him down, but if alone, you might have to tie the bronc’s head to the saddle on a gentle horse. The tie could be made so you could get it free after getting on the bronc. No serious attempt would be made to keep the horse from bucking except to keep pulling the hackamore reins from one side to the other and keep him turning.

The first few ridings always took place in the round corral. After they had worked up a good sweat, we would start teaching them a few things like getting off and back on, and how to handle a rope while in the saddle. After the second ride, the horses front feet would be rasped down to near the quick and caulk shoes put on the hind feet. The front feet would get real tender so in learning to stop the horse would always do so on the hind feet, which is an absolute necessity for the good life of a cow horse. Since a rider’s greatest weight is almost over the front legs, continued stopping on the front feet injures their knees and ankles. Bad forelegs make riding dangerous as the animal falters and falls easily, endangering the life of the rider.

At the Hatchet ranch I was told to ride a new horse only six times then turn him into the regular Ramada where he’d be assigned to a regular cowboy for continued breaking. Other ranches had me do a more thorough job by riding a bronco ten to twelve times. Horses are much like people in that if they do not respond well in training, they are not likely to be worth much in the line of regular duty. Some young horses seem to enjoy companionship and respond quickly to training with an obvious enjoyment, while others have to put under almost constant punishment during a training period and as a result I’m sure they look upon a rider with disfavor.

The boss decided to watch me the first afternoon to see if I knew what I was doing. He seemed satisfied because he let me alone, except that now and then he would come out and run a ringer in on me. One time he asked me to try to break a bronco that had been tried before. He bucked awfully high, but was easy to ride except that he just wouldn’t quit bucking. The first time he bucked so long that I was bleeding at the eyes and ears and nose when the boss picked him up. Another one turned into near disaster. The boss said this one had been tried several tines before and he promised to help me with him.

He brought the horse in and I looked him over. He looked eight or nine years old and had all of the marks and scars of an old outlaw. His eyes were narrow and his little pig ears were too low on his head, altogether not too smart looking. We didn’t waste time pampering him, just put a clamp on his nose and the boss eared him down while I saddled and climbed up on the hurricane deck. What a nice surprise! He did a good job of bucking but was easy to ride. Finally he quit and after a few rounds in the corral the boss opened the gate which led out into about a five acre patch that was completely enclosed with a wire fence about five feet high. Just the minute my horse saw the open gate he took off like a rocket with the boss on his horse not too far behind. We headed straight for the fence on the far side and I did my best to turn him, but no luck. I was just ready to shake myself loose and quit the horse when suddenly he decided to turn. Then he made a circle and ran toward the fence again. This time he decided to jump, but his feet went between the two top wires. I couldn’t shake myself free, so the horse landed broadside with me still squarely in the saddle and one leg under him. At that point I at least had gumption enough to pull his head to one side and tie the hackamore rein to the saddle horn so he could not get up. That didn’t keep him from trying though. The thrashing around was making it painful on my leg; especially so, because I had a small jar of mentholatum in my chaps pocket which was grinding into my leg.

The boss went for a nearby gate and came to my assistance as fast as ho could. He tied the free rein to his saddle horn and I let my horse up. I got off on the way up but found I couldn’t stand. My left foot was fractured and the leg paralyzed. I was on the shelf for a few days, then the boss decided to send me out to a line camp where help was needed more than breaking horses.

We took several pack horses loaded with stock salt and food supplies and he took me to the camp which was called, Neighbor’s Tank. It was about forty miles into the Oscura Mountains. We made the trip in one day, arriving about dark. The boss stayed over night. The next morning he drew me a sketch in the dirt of the territory I was to cover. He also told me of a canyon several miles over to the northeast where I would more than likely find some saddle horses. The first day I rode over there to see what I could find. We had to ride a horse so hard everyday that it wasn’t good to ride him again for a week. Now and then a horse would go lame so I would need at least ten for my mount. Somewhere around noon I did find about fifteen together, so I brought them all in, which gave me a better choice. This was beautiful country and the playground for hundreds of wild horses, mostly running in little bands of 15 or 20, up to 50 head. Each band is headed and controlled by a stallion. Several times I have been entertained by watching two rival studs fight--sometimes for hours.

I don’t know how long I was at the line camp, but it must have been for over two months. It was there I had my sixteenth birthday. I remember it well because it was the only day I took off to rest while I was there. As it was a good day to refill my drinking water kegs, I put them on a pack saddle and rode to a little spring about a mile away up a little canyon. After the kegs were filled I noticed a nice big flat rock that looked like a good place to chisel my birth date. I had a big spike in my saddle bag and with that and a rock to hammer with I chiseled JULY 17, 1906. There is where I goofed off the rest of the day.

I remember riding on to a flat stone one day several canyons away. It had a man’s name and date of death, 1863. I guess it’s like the song says, “It matters not, I’ve oft been told, where the body lies when the heart grows cold.”

This was a drought year and that was a real good reason for having someone in that line camp. There was a big watering hole right at my camp which was drying up fast. ‘With many cattle watering there daily they kept quite a bog on the edges. Almost everyday an old poor one would get stuck and I’d have to pull it out with my horse. There were quite a few on the edges who didn’t make it before I came there. (Not the most fragrant odor in the world.)

I might describe my camp so you can see what a luxury set up I had. It was the ragged remains of an old homesteader’s three room house. It was unpainted and the stars could be counted from about any place in the house. The kitchen contained an old broken down cook stove. It was the only room that had a door and a window in place and almost a complete floor. I would have been glad to have the roof leak if only it would rain. As for the rest of the house, I couldn’t have used any more comfort. Speaking of comfort, once in the wee hours of the morning I awoke with the most horrible feeling of something cold and slick in bed with me. My first thought was a snake, so I just about went out through the roof. I got the lamp lit and found two waterdogs in my bed with two or three more sliding along heading for it. For some reason, they had decided to come out of the waterhole seeking companionship. There was a branding iron nearby so I made short work of them, then went to the corral to get a rope to lay a circle around my bed. I had been told that a snake wouldn’t crawl over a rope so maybe a waterdog wouldn’t either. Anyway, I was never bothered with them again.

I would get up at the first sign of dawn and build a fire in the cook stove, then take my night horse and go after my horse for the day. By the time I got back, the stove was ready for more wood and hot enough to start cooking. There was never much variety. I always kept a big pot of frijole beans cooking, so for breakfast I’d make biscuits and fry some salt pork. That together with the beans at least filled me up. There was no such thing as having butter, so I used bacon grease far that purpose. For lunch I’d take some biscuits and a can of tomatoes. Tomatoes were excellent because they not only made you full, they helped keep you from being thirsty. By the time breakfast was through, the sun would be about ready to top a bill and time for me to get going. I’d check the waterhole to see it a cow was in the bog and then start out.

There was lots of work just about any direction I would ride, but I did try to arrange it so my circle would be covered every four or five days. The big problems were water, screwworms and ticks.

In the area I covered there were two windmills and several springs that had to be kept producing somehow. Springs were the worst because they were not fenced and the stock would get in them and pack the mud enough to stop the flow of water. I’d dig them out and pack rock to cover them and had most of them in good shape by the time I left.

Then the screwworm problem. In those days, ranchers did not practice controlled breeding as we have today, and they made no attempt to separate the bulls and cows. Nature does provide the instinct to breed in the late summer, which results in spring calves. Some cows, however, ignore that rule and breed later which means calves are born late in the hot summer when blow flies are bad. So when a late calf is born and the navel doesn’t heal fast, blow flies get into it and the result is screwworms. A calf with worm trouble could be spotted for a good distance as they would stand different and usually with their head down as though they were sick.

During the summer months in that country, part of the range riding equipment included chlorophorm, crude oil and coal oil. When I saw a sick calf, I’d rope it, turn it belly up, and pour a few drops of chloroform in the navel. Worms would come piling out by the hundreds. Then I’d swab the sore with a little crude oil to keep more flies away. In a days time the calf wou1d be in  good shape again. Ticks were another problem and their best place was in the cattle’s ears. They also could spotted easily because the animal would let the tick filled ear hang down. When the animal turned out to be a big cow, steer or a big bull, it became a real problem for a kid alone. One of the most important things was a well trained roping horse. You don’t dare rope them by the head or horns as there might not be a way of getting your rope off. Besides, they are almost impossible for one man to hold down after you have thrown them. The best thing was to rope then by the hind legs and well trained horses would hold the rope tight to keep the animal down. A few drops of coal oil in the infected ear and the ticks would come boiling

out. Several tines I got more than bruised by a well horned animal who apparently didn’t think I meant to be helpful.

In those days, ranchers didn’t dehorn cattle as it was easier to work a herd with horns, but today almost all cattle are dehorned by reason of packers’ demands. Not so many bruises on the meat from hooking. There never seemed to be enough hours in the day and many times I did not get back to my camp until after dark. (I wonder if there is a cowboy’s union now?)

Sometimes I did get back before sundown and I enjoyed hiding close to the waterhole to watch the many wild animals come in to water. There were lots of doer and a few elk and antelope, plus others that would cone in darkness with only moon or starlight to show them such as coyote, lobe wolf, grey fox, raccoon, skunk, badger, etc. The coyotes and wolves always provided music to go to sleep by. Perhaps I should mention that, while the area I covered was quite a bit, the whole ranch was about 45 miles wide by around 60 miles long. They also leased some grazing for summer from the Indian reservation which added another fifteen or twenty miles. There were no fences except the reservation border and some small pastures around line camps like mine.

In some of the areas in drought years, the grass was so scattered and water-holes so few that many times cattle would have to go up to 15 miles to water. Horses go to water each day, but where the distance is great, a cow will go two or three days without watering. It is interesting that nature has provided a homing instinct between a cow and her small calf that never fails to bring them together. A cow with a real young calf may start to water several miles away but the calf tires quickly and will lay down. The old cow a1way’s seems to stop and lick it a few times as if to be saying, “Now you be a good kid and Mother will be back tonight or tomorrow.” The calf will sleep for a while then get up and travel a ways, bawling for its mother, but will always wind up back where it was left. You might chase the cow a long way off course, but she always knows where to find the little one.

Sometime in the later part of August the round-up wagon came close to my area so the boss came for me to work with the roundup. I had been on many round-ups before, but never on such a large scale. Our ranch had about 15 cowboys with the round-up wagon, and some of the neighboring ranches sent a man or two not only to help out, but to gather strays belonging to them. A few of the punchers came from as far as fifty miles away. Some I remember were three from the TMD, also a very large ranch. One came from the Diamond A ranch. Two came from the Pine free ranch, and several others bringing the total up to 25 or 30. Odd ones were coming and going and occasionally we would have 30. This was a real experience for me, and I surely enjoyed it.

I was the only kid in the outfit but I was accepted as one of them. I think mostly because I kept my mouth shut and always tried to do a little more than my share. Several had a variety of nicknames for me. Mostly some implications about my never talking. I certainly did not stay off by myself though. I was always right in the group because I liked to listen to their stories and there were so many things I could learn. With so many men and much work to be done things were always buzzing. I don’t know what time the cook and his rustler would get up, but by the first crack of dawn he would be hammering on the chuck gong. Breakfast was always over in a hurry and by that time the horse wrangler would have the remuda close by. I had never seen so many saddle horses in one herd before. There were about 400, but some of them had not been completely broken. All of the cowboys would form a complete circle around the herd and each would throw a lariat to the man on his right which would form a corral. Then a couple of ropers would go in and rope the horses the men called out. Each of our men had fourteen horses in their mount during roundup because we rode them real hard and would change at noon. Each time we saddled it was a regular rodeo as there were always five or six horses that put on a show. I was not left out as I was issued a new string of horses (I’ve always thought the boss ran a few ringers in on me just for the show.).

For a few days we were visited by a man called, “Bugger Red.” He had the shaggiest mop of red hair and more freckles than I’d ever seen. He was quite a man, though, and in later years I’ve read books that mentioned him to be one of the greatest bronc riders of all time. A time or two I disgraced myself by “pulling leather” but somehow I never liked to hit that hard ground and get my clothes all dirty. After saddling was complete the boss would draw a picture in the dirt of the plan for drive and roundup that morning. About noon we’d have a herd of several hundred head of bawling, milling cattle. After lunch and resaddling, we’d get at the branding, castration and separating strays. That was always a picnic for me. The calf roping was not a job for just anyone because there were so many brands involved. A roper had to go into the herd, pick out a cow and calf together then follow them for a little bit to be sure they belonged together, then read the brand on the cow, rope the calf and drag it to the branding fire, then call out the brand that was to be put on.

While our main cattle brand was ( five) Hatchet, we also had two quarter circles ( ( ) ), TX and FTE (Falls, Thatcher and Everhart). Horse brands were ( six) Swinging hearts,  (  ( )   ), and (five).  These odd brands come as a result of buying out a neighboring ranch or an entire herd of stock.  Most of the time I was stuck with the hard work of flanking and holding a calf for branding.  Two men worked together alternating throwing the calf, then one held its head while the other would hold the hind legs.  Now and then the boss would let me rope, which was real big stuff for me, and without intending to brag, it was something I could do well.  I had practiced a lot and could catch them on the run either by the front legs or hind legs, depending on the purpose needed.

This was a real dry year and the lack of good watering holes was beginning to cause a worry.  During our roundup we ran across many small bands of wild horses, but with water so short, it was necessary to kill them whenever we could.  I’ve always loved a good horse and some of the mustangs were beauties, which made it almost heartbreaking to kill them.  A horse will water each day and normally drinks from two to three times as much water as a cow.  Horses were almost worthless and cows were a livelihood, so the answer was obvious.

A lot of romance has been built up around the so-called “wild-horses” of the western range country.  Many artists have painted the stallion leader, with head erect, nostril extended, flowing mane and tail, standing majestically to represent a king of all he surveys.  Many of these horses were excellent animals and just about everything the artist tried to convey; however, the majority of the herds were worthless.  These horses are not a special breed, but rather domestic animals running wild because no one wants or needs them.  So far as we know, these animals are not native to the area but were brought in by the Spaniards as they came north from Mexico in search of gold and adventure.  According to history, Cortez landed in Mexico in 1519 to conquer that land.  Among his outfit were 16 horses.  Until that time there was no record of horses on the North American continent.  Since these western mustangs are running wild, the stud colts are not castrated so inbreeding is rampant.  Then of course, without controlled breeding there results many worthless animals.  In earlier days, a few of the better stock were captured and put to domestic use.  Of the remaining less desirable animals, for many years there was only one control, and that was to shoot them.

In more recent years the dog and cat food industry have reduced the herds considerably.  During lush range years the herds were not bothered much, but when drought hit, something had to be done.  Having both upper and lower teeth they could graze closer than cattle and frequently would pull bunches of grass up by the roots which would reduce range growth.

After working the cattle in the flat country we moved into the higher mountain area, most of which was leased grazing belonging to the Mesquelero Indian Reservation.  For our first camp we moved up to the Timberline, not too far from the snow-capped peaks of the White Mountains.  As I recall, this was in late August and we had been almost suffering from the hot weather in the desert-like country just around the White Sands, which was the tail end of our roundup work in the flat country.  In making the move to the mountains there were a number of changes to be made.  First we had to change all of our horses as the “Flatlanders” wouldn’t know how to handle themselves in the rocky, thick underbrush and uneven terrain.  It would be impossible to get the chick wagon up on the mountain where we intended starting the work, so all of the cooking gear, bedrolls and branding equipment had to be loaded on pack horses.  How wonderful it would be to have pictures of this outfit all ready for travel.  There were only about twelve cowboys, the cook, his wood rustler and the horse wrangler going into the high country.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have the nice, lightweight, comfortable, airtight sleeping bags that are available today. Our bedrolls were made up of a real heavy waterproof tarpaulin about four feet wide and fourteen feet long. Inside would be a thin cotton mattress about thirty inches wide with sufficient quilts and blankets to make sleeping comfortable, even in real cold weather. You just slept on top of covers not needed. There were rings and snaps on the tarp edges so it could be folded over the bedding and held secure for rough packing. A good bedroll would weigh from 75 to 100 lbs. A horse was used for each bedroll, more because of bulk than weight. About 10 other horses were needed to pack all other gear. While our daily riding was still hard, we did not need so many horses for the mountain work. Down below, each cowboy had a string of fourteen horses, but for the mountain work we used only six each.

Our first camp was made at timberline. The first morning when I heard the chow gong, I peeked out under my bed tarp to see a very heavily frosted ground. My bed tarp was frozen so stiff I could hardly bend it.

With breakfast over, my new horse was roped out for me. A chestnut colored beauty named “Red River,” who was snorting and with half lowered head was nervously coming toward me as I pulled the lariat. About that time an old cowhand came by and said, “Good luck, kid, that horse has thrown me 29 times.” By that time I was already miserable because I was so cold, as the only clothes I had wore too thin for that cold. My feet were so cold they were aching. I thought that if that horse did throw me, I’d probably break in a dozen pieces. When I threw on the saddle and drew up the cinch, Red River humped up and bucked a few jumps in a circle around me. I thought it best to get in a few licks early, so I yanked him around and gave him a few kicks in the belly just to make him think I wasn’t afraid. I had one of the cowboys ear him down so I’d have a better chance to get on and well seated before he started to unwind. When he was turned loose, he did buck a few jumps then settled down to being a good cow horse for the job we were sent to do. A lot of the mountain cattle are as cunning as deer or elk in their ability to hide and remain silent in that type of wooded area, so when one is located it is necessary to take off right behind it and keep going until out in a more open area, otherwise It will duck behind you into underbrush and hide. The horses are trained to stay right on a cow rngard1ess of brush or trees and it is up to the rider to swing out on the side of the horse when he would run under a tree limb in the process of following a wild one.

Once when I was going “hell for leather” after an old, mosshead steer it turned under a tree suddenly and, of course, the horse turned right with it. Before I had a chance to clear the saddle a limb caught me full across the chest knocking me off the horse. I landed on the flat of my back and the sudden stop knocked the wind out of me - also I was seeing millions of stars. When things began to clear a little, I looked over to see my good friend Red River standing about 20 feet away looking me over as if to say, “you are surely a sorry looking mess.”

Part of the training of a good saddle horse is to stop and stay put when the reins are dropped. Reins are never tied together so that when such an accident, as described above happens or when a horse may fall, the reins will drop once the rider turns them loose. Good cow horse training has paid off many times.

Later, when I was about ready to go back home, the boss offered to help me round up about 150 head of wild horses to help me start them across the mountains, all for free. I was tempted, but even if I had been able to get them home, I’d have no place to keep than as the drought was just about as bad there.

I think it was in the fall of 1926 that some branch of the government, in cooperation with ranchers, agreed to help reduce the wild horse population throughout the drought-striken area of southern Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. Ranchers on the outside fringe of the designated area were to chase the wild horses inward toward the final holding place, which as I recall, was a very large natural basin in eastern Arizona. As the horses were thrown inward, each rancher would do his part to send them on to the final holding place. Finally the drive was complete and I believe the count was something over 4,000 head, which the government offered for sale at 5 per head. (But the catch was that the horses in total, would have to be moved completely out of the area within 30 days.) As there were no takers on the offer, riflemen were hired to shoot them as they stood.

In recent years quite a fuss has been made because men have been allowed to go on forest land and catch the wild horses for sale to dog and cat food packers. Wild claims have been made that, the horses are being wiped out, so tax payers’ money has been wasted in having laws passed, and policing put into effect, to save the wild horses.

I think I can speak from first hand knowledge that by far the greatest percentage of the wild horses are worthless by constant downgrading as a result of inbreeding. Secondly, the thought of wiping out the breed is foolish, because anytime wild horses are wanted all that is necessary is to turn a stud and a few mares on open range and don’t bother them. In 2 years you’d have so-called wild horses, and in about 4 years you’d be getting the same sorry lot of inbred stock

Thoughts of going back home were getting stronger, so I finally told the boss I thought I’d draw my pay and head back across the mountains. He said that if I ever wanted to come back, he’d find a place for me; and that if it wasn’t urgent that I go now, Mr. A.B. Falls (one time secretary of Treasury during the Teapot Dome Scandal) had asked for me to break six special horses for him. While Mr. Falls was in office someone had sent him some thoroughbred mares from England and he had bred them to a good government stud. Their offspring was what he wanted broken.

Thoroughbreds are about as temperamental as opera stars, anyway, and someone had tried to break then before and then turned them out without completing the job. This really ruined them.

There was no one to help me, so I started doing the best I could. They were tall, slender, long legged and very nervous. After finally getting aboard the first one, he really took off for the moon. I don’t ever recall being on a bucking horse that jumped so high, and in self defense I kept spurring in order to hang on. The more I spurred the higher he’d jump until he finally lost control and fell. I was lucky enough to get clear of the fall, but that shook me up real good. The next one I tried did the same thing, and while I was trying to figure out what to do next, one of Falls cowboys came by and said the fellow before me had the same problems and that was why he quit. That was good enough for me, so I got my own horses and started over the mountains without even asking for my pay from Falls. (I had been paid when I left the Hatchets.)

While I was still at the Hatchets, brother Dick came for a visit with Mother and Dad. No doubt when they were talking Dad mentioned that I was at an age when I should be set straight on the facts of life; also in Dad’s way of thinking I must be getting pretty wild. He asked Dick to write me a long letter and put me on the right track. I remember the letter so well. First he more or less apologized for the letter he was going to write, but since Dad had requested it, he would perform the duty. He said I was probably no different than he was at the same age and I would elect to ignore any advice. Mother always had such a high regard for Dick, and certainly I felt he must be worth listening to.

His letter had many good suggestions and I’ve had reason to call upon them many times during my life. In covering the girl and sex subject he said, “Always remember to treat your lady companions as you would have your own sister treated under the same circumstances.” I read that letter many times getting his thoughts instilled in my mind. I’m sure he never dreamed of the fun that would be denied me by following his advice.

Dick was easily Mother’s favorite. She, like most girls, was impressed by his officer’s uniform, and there is no doubt but that he wore it with full credit to it, and certainly there were other attributes that rounded out her pride and love for him.

Apparently he took mechanical drawing at New Mexico Military Institute and at one time brought home a framed drawing of the magazine chamber, and firing mechanism of a military rifle. Mother hung the framed drawing in the parlor. So many times I’ve seen her point it out to a visitor, and bursting with pride would say, “My son drew that.” I’m quite sure neither she or the visitor would have the slightest idea what it represented, but that made little difference - it was a symbol.

I’m sure she loved the rest of us equally because her love was not divided, just multiplied.

Before leaving the Hatchet ranch, I should mention a funny incident. One afternoon a cowboy from another outfit came by and said that there was to be a dance at Oscura the coming Saturday night. If we could find a way there, one of his friends, who had a car, would bring us back. Oscura was a little cow town about l5 miles north of the Hatchet ranch.

The only way we could figure out on how to get there was to ride the rods on a freight train that came through once each day about sundown, and it always stopped at a water tank about 2 miles away to restore its water supply. We washed up the best we could at a watering trough, then rode over to the railroad water tank, where we tied our horses in the brush so we could pick them up on our return. When the train finally came, we asked the engineer about bumming a ride. He said there was an inspector riding the caboose, but he couldn’t help it if we jumped on when the train started to roll, but if we did to be sure to stay on the steps between the cars so the inspector would not see us. He said the train did not stop where we wanted to get off but that as he entered the place the tracks started on a slight down grade and that at that point he would set the brakes several times to slow the train, then after a minute or so he would blow the whistle, which would be the signal for us to get off because he would have to start picking up speed fast in order to make the hill just beyond Oscura. Wow, what a train ride.

The car I was on must have been empty because it bounced so much at times it was a real job to hang on. Then too, the dust and cinders from the coal burning engine whipped in between the car so much I had to keep my face down against my shoulder in order to breathe. That was a mighty long 15 miles and it was getting pitch-dark, which worried me about jumping off on the run. At long last I felt the jerk of the train as the engineer set the brakes, which he did several times. Then came the whistle, just as he had said it would be. We seemed to be going awfully fast however, but there was only one thing to do - so I climbed to the outside and jumped. I knew enough to face forward and try to land running but that didn’t help much. When my feet hit the ground I bounced up in the air then landed rolling down a bank of dirt and cinders. When the train had gone by, I got up to see if I could find my friend. My face, hands, shoulder and knees were burning from cinder scratches, and by feeling I discovered that my shirt was torn across the shoulder, my pants across both knees, my hat was gone and my boots were full of dirt and cinders.

I located a handful of greasewood and lit a match to it. What a mess. I found my hat, and my friend was not far away - but he had fared no better than I had. We were still almost a mile from the lights of the settlement, so we stumbled our way down the tracks, then followed the sound of music to where the dance was held. I not only didn’t feel like dancing, but I looked such a mesa, I was sure no one would want to dance with me. After “holding up the walls” for awhile a young woman came over and said, “Why do you cowboys always stand around on one foot like an old saddle horse? Come and dance with me.”

As years have gone by, I’ve laughed so many times about her •expression and approach. And I’ve wondered too what we must have smelled like. Several times during the summer I had rinsed off in watering troughs and scrubbed my clothes a little, but without soap and a scrub brush you do little toward getting clean or improving the odor. But it does help to get some of the stiffness out of sweat crusted clothes.

Now back to the notion of going home. I started out considerably north of the way I came over, but I kept direction by sun and stars. Many times, as we found it necessary to travel by night, we used a number of stars, for guides to a general direction, such as the North Star, morning or evening stars, Big Dipper and Milky Way.

If it became too dark to travel over rough country we could stop, hobble our horses so they would graze, lay the saddle on its side and lie down on the saddle blanket, then cover ourselves with a slicker or coat that was tied on the saddle. We would lie with our head up in the saddle which served somewhat as a pillow -- also a windbreaker.

Having left the Fall ranch in such a hurry, I hadn’t packed any food, but I felt sure I’d run into ranches on the way. No such luck, however, and I had nothing but water for three days and two nights. It was sure a rough go the first day and night, but after that I didn’t mind. In fact, after I got over into my country, there was a time when I could have left the straight line I was following and had plenty of food and rest at several ranches I knew, but I decided to stick it out.

My horses had been well fed, and I wasn’t pushing them too hard except that I did ride for long hours each day. I had left the ranch about daylight the first day and made it home the third day late in the afternoon.

I should mention that a few days before I left I walked into a horse trade with a man I knew only slightly. I suppose I should have given more thought to the first trade I had made on the way over, but actually it hadn’t turned out too bad.

One of my horses was developing a slight crack in a front hoof, and I suppose I may have felt it was a good time to make a trade. The trade was sight unseen, but we did stipulate and guarantee that our horses were not over 7 years old, not crippled or blind; however, I did mention the starting crack in the hoof of one of mine. From the sound of the man’s description it looked like I was being given an edge in the trade mainly because I would have to ride about 40 miles through Oscura Pass to a ranch near Socorro to pick up my trade.

The day I went for the horses I worried all the way over thinking that perhaps I’d made a foolish trade. When I got to the ranch and saw what I was getting, I felt as though I had made a real good trade. One of the horses was a wiry little sorrel paint gelding, the other one was a fair sized brown stag. A stag has been a stallion that has been only partly castrated, which leaves him with a stud’s durability and inclinations, but is unable to produce.

I wasn’t long in discovering the little paint horse wasn’t too smart, so when I started for home I packed him. After the first day he was getting real tender footed, so I had to stop and shoe him. Remembering my first blunder, I had put several pairs, of shoes in my pack while still at the ranch. When I started to put the shoes on, the horse wouldn’t let me handle his feet, so I decided to throw him for the purpose. Throwing him was no problem, but before I could tie his head over he continued to struggle furiously, and in doing so hit his head on a big rock that split has skull. It started to bleed badly, so I shot him right there. That left me short but it looked like I could do alright with the remaining two. I could ride each one a half day. Carrying my pack would be almost like resting for the old horse.

The brown stag had led real well and seemed to handle okay, but I was still watching him closely sins a stag is usually quite ornery and this one later proved to be no exception. In searching for a name for the stag I first thought of “Jester,” which supposedly was an attempt at humor, because I seemed to remember a king always reduced his jester to a eunuch. However, “Jester” didn’t sound just right, so I switched to “Joker,” which later seemed to fit him.

My first attempt to ride him started out real fine as he neck-reined well and had an easy “running walk” that made for good fast traveling and was easy on the seat end. However, it wasn’t long before I discovered he had a sadistic turn of mind as well as a cold jaw. About the middle of his first morning under the saddle, I was almost completely off guard because he was traveling so well, when he suddenly broke into a dead run off the trail and out on the rough rocky hillside. There was no stopping him until he was completely out of wind. That rocky terrain just doesn’t lend itself to a run like that and it just about scared the pants off of me. I couldn’t imagine what had caused that display, but I think I finally decided something had scared him because the rest of the morning he did fine. I changed horses at noon and gave the incident no further thought, but when I saddled him the next morning I decided to keep my eye on him. Again, about the middle of the morning, here we go for another thrilling ride over what could well be called an obstacle course. A couple of times ho stumbled and once went down on his knees before recovering. Believe me, I was looking for my gravestone on that hillside, but there was no stopping him until he was out of wind. When that little contest was over, I decided to take preventive measures against another display that might well end in tragedy. I sewed his nostrils about half way shut with buckskin string. That would make him run out of wind real quick should he decide to make another run. But oddly enough he seemed to realize he’d have a breathing problem and did not try to run again for the remainder of the trip.

A few days after I got home Judge decided I was being too cruel so he took the buckskin string out of Joker’s nostrils. We were getting ready to ride up to Dayton when he decided to take the string out and I warned him that I thought he was making a mistake. Actually, I think he felt he might he able to give me a lesson in handling horses. About half way to Dayton, Joker may have decided it was time to give Judge a thrill, so he took off in a dead run and I started right behind them just in case Judge would need help. Our shirt tails were just about standing straight out as Joker had turned on his best speed. We hadn’t run more than a few hundred yards when Judge began to yell for me to do something as Joker was just barely missing too many gopher holes and wasn’t always completely making it across some of the little gulleys he was trying to jump. I took my rope down and yelled for Judge to lean a little out of the saddle so I could rope the horse. It took almost a half mile to get close enough to throw my lariat and fortunately, was lucky enough to catch Joker on the first throw. Judge was made a Christian on the spot. Later I sold the horse to the Mexican government and I pitied the poor “cholo” who might draw him for a mount.

A few days after I returned from the Hatchet’s, the owner of the little bank in Artesia sent for me. Because of the drought, the bank had had to repossess a little herd of 104 head of mixed cattle and he wanted me to take them at $20 per head and pay for them when I could. Because I was a minor he wanted Dad to sign with me on a note. I talked to Dad and he said cattle would never be worth less and he would sign with me if I wanted the cattle. I loved cattle and horses so I thought that it would be a good chance to get in business. I even rode out into the Guadalupe Mountains to talk to a rancher I knew. He offered to let my cattle run on his range. (I would work for him without pay to offset range rental except that he would feed me and buy my work clothes and tobacco.) Then I got to worrying about. the fact that Dad and some of his old pioneer friends had been up and down the ladder several times in the cattle, sheep or horse business, and in further discussion with Dad, he said it was always the weather that had caused their downfall--mostly drought. So I figured I wouldn’t have any more control over the elements than they did, so to “hell with it.”

During my stay at the Hatchet ranch, Judge had rented the old home place for farming and when I came home, he was desperately in need of cotton pickers, so he asked me to help. What a blow to my pride! Here I was, just off one the state’s largest cattle ranches where I had drawn top hand pay as bronc breaker and cowpuncher and was now being asked to pick cotton. In the opinion of a cowboy, the two lowest forms of life are a sheepherder and a cotton picker. Had the request come from any other person in the world, I’m sure I would have just curled my lip in genuine disgust and then rode away. But with a brother in need I didn’t seem to have a choice.

The following morning, with much hesitancy, I put on the knee pads and hitched the 12 foot cotton sack strap over my shoulder, then started down a cotton row. Before the day was out, I felt as though I never again would be able to assume an erect standing position; also, my precious life’s blood was steadily oozing out through many tiny skin punctures in the cuticle area from being pierced by the razor sharp ends of the dry cotton boles.

Nature has designed the cotton bole in 5 or 6 sections, joined by a thin membrane. When green they are hinged at the base. When the cotton matures, the moist content of the bole is expanded by warm sun breaking the membrane allowing the cotton to come out. As it dries further, the cotton expands forcing the bole sections wide open and with the cotton dry and fluffed out picking is made easy. However, lack of sunshine, cold weather, frost and other adverse conditions retard the opening process. Hot sunshine will open mature boles in a hurry, but if frost hits during the opening process, the bole sections will remain in whatever position they are at the time. If the bole is only half open, that leaves the needle sharp ends aimed right at the picker’s fingers as he tries to retrieve the cotton.

Shady was visiting at the time and she went with us daily to help. She was always a real trooper when it came to doing hard and disagreeable work. She would also fix a lunch so we could stay longer in the field to get the miserable job done sooner. While the job never seemed to end, actually I think it only took about 2 weeks.

Next I took a job in a cotton gin, weighing and grading loads of cotton brought in by the farmers. I also helped press and mark bales for shipment. An old timer showed me how to grade cotton which falls into five categories: short, fair, middling, long and extra long. For the most part, the cotton in the PecosValley was Acala (Imported from India) which was from long to extra long staple.

Cotton buyers are a special breed. They talk an interesting jargon and in grading, don’t always stick to exact categories. In some lower grades they might say “it runs from fair to middling,” which may also be the source of a common remark between friends upon greeting. One might say “Hello, Joe, how are you?,” to which the reply would be, “Oh, fair to middling.” Unfortunately, it is now very rare to, hear many of the old treasured expressions.

I don’t recall too much of what happened over the winter except many country dances and having fun, but come spring we must have been fair game for a recruiter. An old friend of brother Dick, Captain Aud. Lusk assigned me for the 111th Cavalry (a reserve unit of the regular 11th) and Judge for an artillery outfit out of Roswell.

My outfit was based in Carlsbad and Capt. Lusk told me when to report there and just where I might find the armory. There were three more from my general area, so we all went together, arriving about mid-afternoon. I must have become confused in signing a variety of papers because I was called back into the office later to explain the difference in birth dates on some of the papers. In one place I had shown l904 and in another 1906. The latter was right but it would not give me the correct age for enlistment, which had to be 18. I was only 16. I had visions of facing a firing squad but no doubt they decided to spare me for another day.

We went through a variety of examinations and then were fitted with uniforms. I could hardly wait to get to a mirror to see if I looked as foolish as I felt, but when I did see myself, I was agreeably surprised. Other than the flat brim hat, with a yellow cord band, things didn’t look so bad. We were issued two types of leggings. One was a wool strip about 2 1/2 inches wide that wrapped in a spiral from shoe top to the upper part of the leg calf, and the other was made of heavy canvas with leather stitched on top of the inside part, and laced zig-zag up the outside mine were very neat and fitted well.

We were given a meal ticket good for supper and breakfast at a cafe near the Carlsbad Hotel where arrangements had been made for us to stay the night. The four of us stayed together for comfort and mutual protection I suppose, and when supper was finished we went to the hotel. All of us were put in one room on the third floor. There were two double beds and a wash stand with a large bowl and pitcher on top of it.

We stood and looked out the window to see the buildings from a new view, and also to see the street activity. When we tired of that, there was nothing to do but sit on the edge of the bed and look at the bare walls which was like being inside an empty corn crib. None of us had ever stayed in a hotel and I was the only one who had spent a night away from home before.

I suppose the strange surroundings and the hotel atmosphere held us in awe for awhile, but then guess what happened? A pillow fight started and we were having great fun when a loud knock on the door froze us with fear. We were warned to either be quiet or get out, and I can assure you we needed no further warning. Having been sworn into the military service that afternoon we more than likely felt we would be subject to military discipline if word was passed on regarding our conduct. We still had a problem however, as one of the feather pillows had opened slightly and more than a few feathers were scattered around the room. We were as quiet as mice sneaking around the room looking for feathers, but the light was so dim the only way we could find the small ones was by blowing and pick up anything that moved. We had quite a job searching the room then stuffing the feathers back in the small crack in the pillow seam.

Absolute quiet was maintained for sometime, then someone made a silly remark that started us snickering, which continued until we almost had convulsions. The resulting noise was fairly well-contained with pillows and covers over our heads.

The next morning we were up at the crack of dawn without having to be called. We hurried down to the street to see many things strange to us. There were cars now and then, but most of the activity came from horse drawn dray wagons.

We were first in the cafe when it opened, and I shall never forget the wonderful aroma when we entered. Apparently, arrangements had been made for quite a few to have breakfast there; as at the end of the room was a big table completely covered with cantaloupe that had been cut in halves. They were large, fragrant, and delicious and as years have gone by and at a time when I was enjoying a particularly good cantaloupe, my thoughts turn back to that breakfast.

As I recall, our train for Fort. Bliss was not to leave until mid afternoon, but we were to report to the armory for more instructions and to start a part of the training which began with foot drill, saluting and a variety of other military regulations. The foot drill, in itself, presented more than enough problems and frustrations for the softies and farm boys who couldn’t keep their feet separated. We also learned which foot to start on, how to salute, how to stand at attention - all in a manner that suited the drill instructor. We were told to answer “roll call” with ‘yo” and during our entire training period, it was astounding how many of the more simple-minded couldn’t think of that little word when their name was called. This was all quite an experience for me and actually I was enjoying it.

Finally train time came and we were marched (if you could call it that) to the train station. Our civilian clothes had been left at the armory but we were permitted a very small kit that held the normal small necessities. We had not yet been issued rifles. In marching to the station, I’m sure we must have looked like a giant centipede winding its way through a weed patch.

Our train for the trip to Fort Bliss was late getting in, and even later getting to El Paso, where there was another long wait before our car was put on a aiding and pushed out to our station. We arrived just in time for breakfast and again, the mess hall was loaded with canteloupe, all we could eat.

We were in for another series of signing papers and then were sent to the infirmary for a vaccination. Before the day was out, we were sick end our arms were beginning to swell. The sickness hung on for a couple of days, but even so we started our routine of military life. The real hot sun which added to our vaccination sickness, made the going rough and accounted for quite a number of men fainting while in line and some even passed out and fell out of ranks while marching. These incidents seemed to upset the drill sergeant, and a lot of static came forth from a “shavetail”, both kept muttering about a bunch of “mamas boys.”

We seemed to be catching hell from all directions - frustrating foot drill in the hot sun, saluting, doing double time -and then when we could get a little break and return to the barracks, we’d no sooner get stretched out on our bunks for a short but welcomed rest when some ornery shavetail would come bouncing in, and we’d all have to land on our feet and snap to attention. I’m sure some of those young officers had a lot of fun at our expense. Some of the little tin gods just couldn’t get enough of being saluted.

Just as though the fast drilling wasn’t frustrating enough for some of the boys, you might well imagine the confusion that was added when we were marched to the armory to pick up rifles so that we might learn the manual of arms.

Actually, the climax came when we were marched to the stables and issued horses for mounted drill. The horses were the regular mounts for the 11th cavalry, and wonderfully trained. The one I drew was a beauty, loaded with energy, and never missed a command. After a day or so of drilling and getting acquainted, he and I had fun jumping barriers, running full bore down sand hills, jumping off a small bluff, plus other routine training drills.

Drilling and maneuvers were fun for me, but misery for those who knew nothing about horses or riding. I couldn’t help but wonder why they thought they wanted to be in a horse-mounted outfit. The only thing that really bothered me was those blasted so-called McClelland saddles which were like riding a pair of 2 X 4 boards in comparison to the comfortable stock saddle I was accustomed to. Those saddles seemed to rub you about everywhere except the top of your head.

The drill instructors were career soldiers, and I’m certain they were upset by our screwing up their routine life, and having their pet horses ridden by a bunch of clumsy clods. I suppose drill sergeants are supposed to be mean by nature and refinements in their various forms of torment came with years of service. The one we had was really a dilly. He didn’t worry or pick on me, but he surely made it miserable for some of those who didn’t know how to ride or handle a horse. He had quite a few years of service, and being devoted to duty, he seemed to enjoy making things exact and miserable for the “mamas’ boys.”

We had several exercises that would be hard enough for the more experienced rider, and the others just had to suffer through, frequently getting well-bruised and skinned-up. One of these was something I didn’t exactly look forward to either. That was to lengthen the stirrups and cross them over the saddle, which would put you in a standing position with your seat end above the saddle from about the knees on up. These drills graduated from the horse walking, to a trot, to a gallop, and then a run. Most of these activities would take place out in the sage and sand area so it was not always easy for the horse to follow a straight line. At times, the horse seemed to conspire with the sergeant in dealing out misery. One time the horse might decide to go over a small bush, but the next time suddenly decide to go around one, and as a result some rookies became Unbalanced and “bit the dust.”

We also spent three days on the rifle range, which I enjoyed. My experience with the little .22 rifle Louis gave me helped, I’m sure, and I came out with a very good score. Part of the tine I helped in the target pits, which meant tending a particular target. Firing was at 200 yards and as a rookie fired at my target, it would be lowered to determine where the bullet hit, patch the hole, then wave an appropriate numbered disc that was mounted on a long pole. If the shot missed the target entirely, we would wave a pole that had a black flag on the end, which was referred to as “Maggie’s Drawers.”

I should mention two real embarrassing things that happened to me. In those days, saluting was a real important thing, especially with the shavetails. One day we were given orders to saddle up, and I made a beeline for the tack room. normally, we were supposed to carry the tack on our left arm in order that the right arm would be free for saluting when necessary. It was not my habit to do anything left-handed, so the tack was carried on my right arm.. Just as I stepped out of the tack room door there stood a “shavetail.” I just nodded and passed on, but had made only a few steps when I was called back and set straight in a language I couldn’t misunderstand.

The next incident was at the final parade for all of the reserve units who were returning home. I was selected to be orderly f or the colonel, and I suppose I was doing okay until the parade was well under way. We were mounted, of course, and I was in my proper position directly behind the colonel. My horse decided against being so antisocial, and he gradually began to move up directly beside the “old man.” I was so interested in the parade of men and equipment that I didn’t notice the move, but the colonel’s aide did and I got chewed out for sure! Had it not been our last day there, I’m sure I would have drawn more than a little extra duty. Again, I was lucky - no firing squad.

When we arrived at Fort Bliss and routine matters were taken care of, we were allowed liberty every fourth night from 6 p.n. until 1 a.m. We were anxious to see both the big city of El Paso and to cross the border into Mexico to see Juarez, especially the latter since it would mean being in a foreign country where we, no doubt, would see many new and strange things. We had heard much about some of the things to see such as “the longest bar in the world,” Jimmy O’Brians Bar, Paris Bar, bull fights, etc.

During several trips there I had a few wild and unforgettable experiences. Just to mention one: four of us were walking down the street just beyond the Paris Bar, completely fascinated by so many new and strange sights, when suddenly a police patrol wagon came to a screeching stop right beside us. Several Mexican police jumped out grabbing us by the arm, and before we had a chance to move, they ushered us into the patrol wagon. We were absolutely horrified and couldn’t begin to imagine what possible misunderstanding could have put us in this mess. A number of Mexicans were also loaded to fill the wagon, then they started on its way.

The patrol wagon’s siren was on full blast, and with the high speed and very rough streets we were getting the ride of our young lives. Finally I came to enough to ask one of the Mexicans if he knew why we were picked up and he explained that the Rio Grande River was very high with flood water and the International Bridge approach was in danger of being washed out, so work crews were putting sand bags on the up-river bank to turn the current. The Mexican didn’t think we American soldiers should have to help on that work so he suggested we get up front and lie down on the floor. He said that when the patrol wagon stopped for us to be real quiet and since the officer on the rear step would probably be interested in showing the work party where to go down the road bank he probably would not look in the wagon to see that all were out. Ho said the policeman would no doubt follow the men to the next patrol and for us to wait a short time after everyone else was gone, then we should jump out and run fast toward town.

As a sprinter I could never qualify for the 100 yard dash, but I’ll bet that one time I broke 10 seconds easily. After a few blocks we were running out of wind so we ran into a store to decide the next move. Two of the boys, just off of a farm, had been chilled with fright at this adventure, and they wanted no more foreign problems, so they got on a street car headed for Fort Bliss and safety. In fact, one of the boys could not even be induced to leave the post after that. I suppose my partner and I felt that lightning was not likely to strike twice in the same place, so we started back to see the things we came for in the first place.

We were just getting back to where we had been picked up before when the patrol wagon again came in sight. We stood there horror-struck wondering what to do, when suddenly a hand from behind grabbed us by the arm pulling us into a little room. The helping hand was from an old buxom senora who had seen us picked up before and decided we looked young and innocent and needed protection. When the police moved on we offered to pay her, but she smiled sweetly and said “No.” That made twice in less than an hour two unknown Mexican citizens had befriended us, and I can assure you I was very grateful.

Back at the base things were never exactly dull, and excitement came in a variety of forms, such as crap games, stud poker, fist fights, assorted arguments, etc. Fortunately, I managed to stay clear of any problems, but I kept on the move watching others.

One night I was a standby for guard duty on the changing of guard at the midnight trick. I experienced the nauseating feeling of fear when they dragged a man in off of guard duty who had just been stabbed in the back. He had been patrolling the area I was to take, so right then I wondered if I shouldn’t be home in bed minding my own business.

When the order came to prepare for departure, I’m sure we were all ready for it. All of the new had worn off and routine work seemed to have overcome challenge. We left by train early one morning, which meant the trip was to be a very hot and sultry daylight ride. There was no such thing as air conditioning on that train, and the conductor would not permit open windows so it was a matter of toughing it out and being content with what fresh air that came in from a variety of cracks and ill-fitting windows.

I believe our return from Fort Bliss was about the end of July. After that life became pretty much routine, except that about that time Judge got married.

I only make a mention of Judge getting married because of an incident both Judge and I thought very funny, but in the end didn’t turn out too good. In that country the rabbit population, now and then, would get out of hand and the rabbit’s devastation would no longer be tolerated. The solution to getting it back to a more suitable population was an organized drive to kill off a few thousand of them. Everybody would pitch in a few dollars and a merchant in Artesia would let us have shotgun shells by the barrel at cost. The drive was usually held on Sunday so a lot of extra city shooters could be there. We would start at what was called the county road and with men spaced about 100 yards apart would drive toward the Pecos River about three miles away. By the time we reached the river shooting would become thick and fast, but on this particular day we had run out of shells too soon.

Judge asked me to go home with him where a good meal would be waiting, including hot biscuits. Judge’s wife had tried something new on the biscuits and they came out hard and impossible to eat. I told Judge that it was a shame we didn’t have tho biscuits on the drive as we could have killed a rabbit with each throw and used the biscuit over again. Judge added to my comment, and he and I had a big laugh, but it was the wrong thing to say. She ran out, jumped in the car, and went home to Mother. She didn’t come back for two days. She just didn’t have a sense of humor. I felt real bad about it.

I had been home from Ft. Bliss only a short while when a friend came rushing up to tell me a friend of ours had been arrested for having illegal whiskey in his possession and in fact, it had been suspected for some time that he was operating a distilling operation, In fact, the sheriff seemed to think I might know something about it so he was on his way down to talk to me. Actually, I did know where his still was, it was down on the river, and I had helped him make whiskey a tine or two. The man had always been good to me, and I didn’t like the thought of being an informer.

The sheriff and Dad were good friends, and I knew that with both of then questioning me, I’d have no secrets. The friend who came to tell me about the trouble knew as much about the still as I did, so he suggested we leave the country for awhile. He had relatives in Snyder, Texas, so we decided to go down there. I’m sure it took me less than ten minutes to get my things together, and his brother drove us to Artesia where we could catch the one-a-day train. I had been paid $21 per month at the Cavalry, so still had some of that pay left; but after buying a round-trip ticket there wasn’t much left.

It took one night and the biggest part of two days to reach Snyder by that Toonerville Trolley and we still had almost ten miles to walk to get to his relatives’ place. It didn’t seem to me that they were overjoyed at seeing us, and I later learned that my friend was not one of their favorite re1atives - and in living there with him for awhile I found out one of the reasons why. The first morning I was up at daylight to get out and see what kind of an outfit these people had. Once out in the yard I saw poor old grandma trying to cut wood with an old dull axe. Believe it or not, in spite of the fact that there were two men and a big husky young woman on the farm, that was grandma’s job. I took the axe out to the tool shed and sharpened it; then the next two or three days I spent cutting and stacking all of the wood that had been hauled in. From then on, I was surely grandma’s friend.

Grandma’s husband, “Grandpa Price,” was quite a character. He had a full crop of snow white hair, also wore a small mustache that stuck straight out on each side, plus a goatee. He wore a straight-brimmed hat and carried a beautiful cane. The whole thing made him look like what is pictured as a Southern Colonel. He was a very determined old rascal and ruled the roost with a firm hand, loud voice, and would pound the cane on the floor or table when necessary to make his point clear. One day, while we were visiting, we drove into Snyder for supplies. When we returned it was mentioned to Grandpa Price that some neighbor had a new car that could go 50 mph. Grandpa just about went through the ceiling and started pounding his cane while saying, “It’s a dad blamed lie, no car can travel over 30 mph.” I learned quickly that if you wanted a nice friendly discussion be sure to stay out of earshot of Grandpa Price.

The boy I came with stayed in bed each day until about noon, then didn’t help when he did get up. After the wood cutting, I asked for something else to do, so they obliged my by letting me drive a ten-horse team (two sets four abreast and two horse in the lead) hitched to a big gang of rake harrow That was surely a dusty job, but fortunately lasted only a couple of days. I also helped with the milking, feeding the stock and many other odd jobs.

We stayed there about a month and during that time we went to several of their old country “hoedowns.” It was all square dancing, as no round dancing was permitted. (“T’warnt decent.”)

That country was a flat prairie type. There were long, low, rolling hills with no trees, which I didn’t care for, so the first letter I had that the coast was clear I took off. I had bought a round trip ticket and it’s well that I did because other than that I had less than a dollar in my pocket to eat on for two days and a night of travel. The change went for breakfast, lunch from the “Butch boy,” (no dining car), and from then on I just sett1ed down to being hungry.

Early the next morning we arrived in Clovis, New Mexico, where I had a couple of hours layover in a change of trains. The little town is only a couple of blocks from the station, so I went to take a look In the hope I might find a way to get something to eat. I seemed to smell food everywhere and I was starved. When I hit the so-called main street, I saw a nice-looking elderly lady struggling with a big suitcase. I persuaded her to let me carry it to the station for her. When we arrived at the waiting room she tried to give me a dollar, but in spite of being so hungry I didn’t feel I should take pay for helping her. After what seemed like an endless tine, we finally arrived at our station late in the afternoon and guess who was at the station? My friend the sheriff. He just smiled and asked if I’d had a good trip. When I left on the trip, I didn’t tell Mother or Dad where I was going as they might have felt obliged to pass on the information.

When I returned home from Snyder, I told them where I’d been. Dad said that when he was about eighteen he was in that area. The place which is now called Snyder was then Tobacco Springs. He had a job with the government killing buffalo as a meat supply for troops in that section. He also acted as part time Indian Scout. After leaving there he had gone over into northern New Mexico where he was a cowboy for the old Slaughter ranch. They branded the “Hash Knife.” He helped drive cattle on that section of the old Chisholm Trail.

Incidentally, when I returned from the Hatchet ranch I was showing Dad the brands they used. One of the horse brands was the “Swinging Hearts”, and he said that in the 1880’s sometimes he had helped drive several hundred head of horses from down in Texas over many mountains into the Tularosa Valley where the Hatchet ranch is now. Apparently, the stock and brand was later sold to the Hatchets.

Shortly after getting back from Texas I ran into an old friend who said he was working in the oil field across the river. A few “wildcats” were striking oil and new rigs were coming in fast. The pay was almost unheard of. A dollar per hour on a twelve-hour shift. Right then I decided to hang up my saddle. Actually, I had just about made that decision before anyway.

I went to the oil field with my friend, and at first there were many jobs such as working on a pipe line crew, working a hand drill and sledge to make holes for blasting, working a “one-armed Johnny” pump transferring oil or water from one tank to another, and “roust-about” or “roughneck” around the drilling rigs. Things were really booming and the wild cat rigs were reaching further out. Some of the wells were right where Dad used to run our horses that I mentioned before. This, too, was an area where we used to shoot a lot of jackrabbits from horseback. Also where we organized groups to rope coyotes. That might sound like a joke. Usually there would be eight or ten of us and we’d fan out a couple of hundred yards apart and when one was spotted the nearest rider would take out after him and gradually run it in a big circle. By the time the circle was complete a new rider would take over. Usually the second or third rider would get close enough to rope. Now and then we’d run into a real strong one and when all else failed we had a pair of big stag hounds on leash we’d turn loose. They never missed. The reason we were so determined to get these animals was that there ware so many in the country that they would run in large bands to attack cattle and sheep. I’ve seen 20 or more in a bunch about sundown heading on their mission of destruction.

Now back to the oil field. All of the rigs had to have oil hauled to then to fire a boiler which was power for drilling. They also had to have water hauled for use in the bailer to flush and bail the hole. Sometimes these things had to be hauled quite a distance and the drilling company paid real good money for the hauling. So my friend and I each bought a one ton Ford truck. We put a flat bed on them, also had a ten barrel tank made, (it looked like a large loaf of bread), so we could haul either oil or water. Prices were so wild we could really make money. If I remember right, I made $80 the first day. Unfortunately, that couldn’t be made every day, nor did our bonanza last too long.

As the boom grew the “boomers” began coming in from every direction. A boom was just winding up around Casper, Wyoming, so bigger trucks with bigger tanks began coming in and they were hungry. Prices were cut to a point that we quit and went to work for others and took special hauls after regular hours. That was my first taste of competition. I surely had a wide variety of experiences in that oil business, but I always seemed to come out with a whole hide and few scars.

The type of men that followed these oil booms were something to wonder about and certainly a type I had never associated with before. They were real foul-mouthed, tough as whet leather, and life seemed to mean nothing to them. There were lots of fist fights, knifings, and a few killings. One or two killings I knew of went unpunished because no one cared. “Just dig a hole and bury the stiff and forget it” was the attitude.

When I was hauling water and oil to these rigs, I used to spend some time now and then watching how everything was done and then I’d lend a hand. So when I looked around for a job, I told a drilling contractor I was a tool dresser and he hired me. We worked in 12 hour shifts at a dollar per hour and had a company tool car to get to work in. Most of the wells were shallow, from two to three thousand feet. Walking beam rigs were used for the drilling (deep holes are always drilled by rotary). It took only two men to work a shift, the driller and tool dresser. My job as tool dresser was to fire the boiler and be sure a steady head of steam was maintained, keep all tools in their place, oil the machinery, and run the steam engine to pull the tools out of the hole when necessary or run the bailer.

The driller was a highly regarded person because of his knowledge. Most of them were task masters and seemed to feel they were well above other forms of life around them. A few would strut around the deck with the same air of authority you might expect from the skipper of some monstrous sailing ship. I soon found out why the contractor hired me in such a hurry without too many questions asked. H e had a driller called “Dutch” that no one would work with more than a shift or so. The well we were on was just barely started and already I was #3. Dril1ers were real hard to find and Dutch was especially good, except for his nature. He looked about as happy and agreeable as an old worn out Indian Chief with a boil on his behind. I wanted the chance to learn something, so I figured I could afford some abuse. When the boss took me out to meet Dutch as we were to leave for my first shift, he just looked, at me and glared. We rode almost 20 miles over a winding trail and during that time not a single word was said. I was on edge wondering just when some sort of an explosion might come. When we arrived at the rig, I talked to the other tool dresser to be sure I knew what was to be done.

I worked for Dutch about three weeks and had no problems, except that I was always in a strain wondering if I was doing things right. The problem with Dutch apparently was that he just did not want to talk. I watched him like a hawk for signs and signals and was out of his sight as little as possible. Over all, I must have worked most things right because I wasn’t fired. I’m sure I didn’t realize it then, but I think I learned many things during the short period with Dutch that were helpful all through my life.

I think by nature I was shy and hesitating, but that had to be switched right there to being alert and aggressive. I wanted the job so bad I always shot my best and from the very first moment on deck I had to start taking chances and do a lot of quick figuring on how I should do things. I also had to try to anticipate the end result. I had to make my own decisions and most of them quickly. As years have gone by, I’ve watched the many men who have worked for me or around me and those who always look to others for a decision seem to coast through a very dull life and are rarely more than a mediocre employee. Not everyone can be a chief, however; one some must be Indians, so these people do serve a purpose in life.

Somehow I always seemed to feel that I wasn’t quite as smart as most other people and I’m sure I had a feeling of guilt because I did not have much education. Lack of “book learning” was not my only feeling of short coming because in my younger days at home I don’t recall too much regulation in accepted conduct of table manners. We all sat down to the table together, but in spite of Dad’s religious inclinations, he never offered thanks. Of course, we were taught some of the staple things of being mannerly, but as I became old enough to have meals out with other families, I began to realize some of my short-comings. Then, of course, the older children coming home for visits added some help. Dad was pretty much an individual where style of eating was concerned. He’d eat with his knife if that seemed the best way to accomplish desired results. As I became more aware of table manners, he was one of many who irritated me to no end by holding his fork as though he was fingering a bull fiddle. It was many long years before I could completely relax in mixed company at dinner functions. I always kept trying to remember what an old fellow once told me, “Always try to keep relaxed and be yourself, don’t put on an act because people will spot you as a phoney.” I’m sure there is nothing more true. Because of my parents’ pioneer background; they did lack in some of the accepted social graces, which made it more difficult for us to transfer into a different life with a relaxed ease.

By now I think I was reaching more of an age of reality and was beginning to give a more serious thought to where I was going in this life. I’d notice men around me who, for the most part, were older, yet by and large seemed to lack any feeling of responsibility; nor did they have anything and always seemed to just barely put in a day’s work. To them the world must have been a big ballroom where someone else always furnished the music. To me, I’m sure I always looked at the world as a big schoolroom when I knew I had to learn to take care of myself and try to learn something better in order to make a living for the responsibility that I knew some day I would have.

As the oil field extended, it reached the homes of many old time cattle ranches such as the “Turkey Track” (seven), the "Swastika”(three), the “Jal”(eight) and the old Dad Taylor ranch. Part of it was also the area where Dad wintered good-sized bands of horses years before. After my hitch with Dutch, I dressed tools for several other outfits, but mostly just filled in for someone who was sick or too drunk to show up for work.

Most of the rigs were built of heavy lumber and were from 60 to 65 feet high. A new outfit came in building steel rigs and I got a job there right away. The pay was $1.50 an hour, but I’m sure I’ve never worked harder in my life. Everything was at a pace just like fighting fire, and I’m sure there is where the expression must have originated, “Pick up something you can’t carry and run with it.” By the time the first rig was about 40 feet up, I had had enough. A couple of men were hurt just from being reckless and careless, and besides, I didn’t exactly care for the job of practically hanging by my teeth trying to grab a wildly swinging piece of steel to spud it in place.

While I didn’t know any different then, they did not use safety belts. The boss tried to get me to stay because he said I’d see a lot of country as they travelled all over the U.S. and South America on contracts. The travel I wanted, but not the rest of the job, so I went back to try my luck again with my truck.

Getting work now was sure different as we were having to bid on almost everything, or at least have a maximum cost figure. I didn‘t know anything about bidding, and with my lack of experience in some cases, I had no intelligent way of arriving at the cost. However, after a few small wrong guesses, I got the hang of things.

I remember once I was asked to bid on hauling lumber and sheet iron to build a good-sized two story building. At first I was stumped on how to figure it because I had no idea what a board foot of lumber meant, so I finally went to the place where the material was to be bought and got a man there to tell me about how many truck loads it would amount to. The material had to be hauled about seven miles and unloaded by hand. Somehow I came up with a figure of about $600 which was good enough to get the job. The next morning when I came for the first load, I met an old fellow who had also bid. He said, “Kid, at your price you won’t be able to buy gas and feed yourself.” My heart sank, but I had to go ahead. I sure worked hard, and as I remember, the job took about ten days to finish. I had been spoiled by the big money we made with our trucks in the beginning, and I was now finding competition with most of the work. At least I was keeping fairly busy and was making many times more than I could on the ranch. However, I certainly didn’t like the now breed of people that were in with the oil boom. I was well acquainted with rough and tough language, but nothing compared to the way the “boomers” used the language. Their way seemed filthy. Also, so many of them spoke a broken language I’d never heard before. I suppose they were of-breeds from all nations.

Along toward fall a new thing came along. One of my friends who also had a truck said he thought we could make some money by buying a load of apples at a local orchard then haul them over into Texas. That sounded like adventure, so I was all set for it. I got the lumber to build up the sides of the flat bed on the truck and we went for our purchase. I don’t remember how many bushels I bought, but it must have been close to 200 as I paid 50 per bushel and I paid the orchard owner close to $100. The next morning before it was hardly light we took off across the sandhills toward La Mesa, Texas. There was nothing until we reached there, but from then on we stopped at every house we could see from the road. The first stop I made an old woman, wearing a huge sun bonnet, really threw me a curve. I was hustling the real fine apples at $2 per bushel and she looked over my samples, then said she’d take a peck. What the heck is a peck? I stood there stunned searching for an answer when I saw a bucket on the porch of her house, so I told her to take the bucket and pick out what she wanted. That suited her just fine because she took only the best. We settled on what she thought was a fair price, but believe me, the first store we came to I found out what a peck was and bought a container for it. The first day or so wasn’t very promising. I didn’t mind stopping at farm houses because I know them to be friendly people.

The profit we were making was just a little better than buying our gas and meals. At the first few little towns we came to I tried door to door, but found a different breed of people not so friendly or understanding. I didn’t like them, however we were selling more apples. My friend didn’t have nerve enough to ring a doorbell and I finally got enough of it. By that time we were in Waco, Texas. It was getting late in the afternoon so we found a park and decided that was a good place to spend the night. I was just stretching out my bedroll when a policeman drove up wanting to know what the heck we were doing there. Before I could think of a good answer he noticed the New Mexico plates and wanted to know what town we were from. “May the saints be praised,” his brother was one of my good friends. That was magic. He said he’d talk to the chief and tip off the man who would follow him so we would not he bothered for the night. Naturally he got a couple of bushels of apples for his hospitality. Or would you call it a minor league “pay-off.’ I also told him of our problems and he gave me the name and location of a wholesale place who night be interested in buying the load. Believe me, I was waiting at their door when they opened the next morning at four a.m. Sure enough, the man offered me $l.25 per bushel for the load. I could hardly unload fast enough for fear he would back out.

Quite a while later, Leatha came home and we tried the same deal but went a different route. We left in the afternoon and our first stop was to be Pecos, Texas. The road from Carlsbad was little better than a wagon road that wound snake-like fashion through the mesquite bushes. After complete darkness settled upon us, the road seemed to be more winding and rougher. In fact, we were not sure we were on the right road so we decided to stop for the night. We rolled out our bed and climbed in real quick as the mosquitoes were eating us alive. The coyotes sang us to sleep, and when daylight awakened us, we discovered we were right beside a stagnant pool of water and a zillion mosquitoes. We drove on and before long we did come into Pecos.

Pecos was then a very small place of about a dozen houses. We found a tiny place that served meals. I remember so well that Shady (Leatha) ordered a waffle and crisp bacon. When the order came it was just reversed. She tried to cut the waffle with her fork and it flew all over the little room. The bacon was almost raw. We have laughed about that so many times as years have gone by. I think the first town of any size was Midland. Shady was a real huckster and didn’t mind ringing doorbells. We worked two or three towns with her doing the selling and me the delivering and collecting. We were getting weary, so I said to heck with it. We looked up a market who bought the rest of our load and we headed home.


I don’t know just where this fits in, but somewhere close to this time, I contracted with a cotton farmer to go away back in the mountains to Las Vegas, New Mexico and haul back some Mexicans at 12 dollars per head. Mary was home on a visit and wanted to go along. I think she regretted that decision almost each turn of the wheels until we got back home. She is such a worry-wart and I’m sure I didn’t do anything good for her nervous system with what she thought was my wild driving on the back country roads that were single track, winding and rough. In the first place, these roads are made by someone just taking off across the country dodging brush, trees and large gullies. Since no improvement is ever made to then, a bad stretch is only improved by cutting out and making a new track.

As we began to get back in the hills and were not seeing a house or a traveller, Mary began to worry about what would happen if we broke down, and if we were on the right road. I’m sure she was almost in pain with worry.

We were just following a small penciled sketch which was very general and brief, and I’ll admit at times I was concerned about which fork of the road to take. We were many miles back in the mountains and there just wasn’t a soul to ask about directions, but luck was with us. Our map indicated a little town somewhere ahead and just as the sun was about to go down we came to it.

The town was called Anton Chico, and what a town! There were only three adobe houses (no doubt there had been more at one time.) The minute we stopped, every inhabitant was out swarming around us. Mary was just moaning and groaning with fright. All were Mexicans and Indians except one big tall half-breed woman who looked as near like a witch as I’ve ever seen. I told her we would like to get something to eat and find a place to throw our bedroll. One of the Mexican women brought each of us a large plate of beans, goat meat, and tortillas. She also brought us some coffee that was as black as tar. Mary ate very little because she was in such a fit. They hadn’t offered to let us come in to sit at the table so we sat on the ground by our truck. We were such a curiosity that we had most of the inhabitants, goats, sheep, dogs, etc., as spectators.

By the time we had finished, it was getting dark and being so far back in the mountains it was getting cold. I got the old crone to show us where we were to put our bed and she led us into a small room off of the main house. There was just a curtain over the door so we could hear all of the wild jabbering they were doing. We piled in bed with only our shoes off and I went to sleep almost immediately, but I guess Mary was awake most the night. Someone in the house must have been very sick, as she said there rattling of rosaries and mumbling prayers until dawn. We had beans, tortilla, and goat meat again for breakfast, plus some of that terrible black coffee-and they would only take a dollar for everything.

We checked our so-called map and asked how far it was to where we were to pick up the people. It was a place called Villa Nueva. I had the name of the head man on the map. I think we had about another 50 miles to go, but it took until late in the afternoon to get there. The last couple of miles took the bigger part of two hours to get down the side of the mountain. It was just a wagon road, very steep and in places almost impassable. Mary kept holding her hand over her eyes and occasionally letting forth a scream. I finally prevailed upon her to get out and walk. Many places in the road had rock ledges that were too high to clear the oil pan after the front wheels dropped off, so I had to build up in order to pass over.

At last we arrived at our destination. The name of the place was Villa Nueva (New Town). There were ten or twelve adobe houses with the road ending right in front of one that turned out to be a little store. When I stopped the truck at the road’s end, children came from everywhere and literally swarmed all over the truck which nearly scared Mary out of her wits.

I’m sure I wasn’t too comfortable as the ragged little devils did have mean-looking, dirty faces. When the truck stopped and I saw all of the little hoodlums coming, I jumped out and ran to Mary’s side, but that only kept them from climbing over her. After a few minutes a tall hombre came to the door of the little store.

He wore a real big hat and had a sad drooping mustache that made him look something like Pancho Villa. I went over to show him the paper I had with the man’s name on it. He just pointed and said “otro lado” (other side), which I took to mean the last house about a hundred yards away. There was enough room to drive the truck there and just as I was ready to stop, a man came out and stood squarely in front of us. He was a young man and didn’t seem to have a mean-looking face, but he was wearing a great big six shooter on his hip. That almost did it for Mary. I was certain she would faint. I jumped out real quick with my magic paper in hand and approached him to shake hands. I spoke to him, and when he answered me in English, I felt better. I showed him the man’s name I came to see, so he whistled and another man came out. They looked at my paper and talked for awhile, then asked me what I wanted. Then they talked some more and left saying they would come back later.

We sat there until almost dark, when he finally returned to say he would come for me later and I could explain my mission to a group of men in a meeting. I told him we needed food and a place to throw our bedroll, so he called to a little senorita who brought us, yes, you guessed it, more frijoles, goat meat and, tortillas. He showed me a little shed where we could throw our bed. We were no sooner squared away when he came for me. I wanted Mary to go also, but she wanted to stay in the truck.

It was pitch black, but the man had a lantern, so I followed him into a little adobe that seemed to be built as a series of afterthoughts. We went through four or five rooms before we finally came to the meeting. He set the light on a little box with me beside it and told and told me to talk. The light was barely more than enough to see more than three or four faces dimly. I’m sure I must have felt like I was sitting in an electric chair awaiting electrocution. There wasn’t much to talk about, except to say that the man who sent me raised cotton and needed men to work. He had given me the map with their man’s name and asked me to bring back as many as I could. I had borrowed the school bus body for my truck and I could maybe take sixteen.

They had quite a few questions, all coming through “six shooter Bill”, who spoke English very well. After a lot of palaver they took a count of fourteen that would go. It was almost two hours before I got back to the truck and Mary was fit to be tied. She was sure I had been murdered end her turn was next.

We were up bright and early the next morning for more frijoles, goat meat, and tortillas with horrible coffee. That diet didn’t bother me, but I think Mary had just about had it. I was real anxious to get going and happy to have a good load, but then my friend came to say that all but two had backed out. My heart sank. I started arguing and actually I don’t know what may have turned the tide but along about noon some started changing their minds. We finally got going with twelve (four women and eight men, I think.

During the morning while we were waiting we had some opportunity to figure out the little settlement. We saw many things of interest to Mary. Everything seemed to be accomplished with community effort. They had a few goats, sheep, cattle and horses and all took turns at taking care of them. They raised a garden and quite a bit of corn as they made all of their own flour and meal. That morning several women were down on their knees grinding the corn on their little ma-ta-te stones. They also raised lots of pepper and there were long strings of it hanging everywhere to dry. One man said they had lots of deer and rabbits to eat also. They carded their own wool and spun it by hand into yarn for making shawls, which were worn by both men and women. I also found out the “why” of the meeting the evening before, plus the indecision about going out with me.

It seemed that a bad thing had happened a few years before that they had not forgotten. A corn farmer from further up in the state had taken several men from there at harvest  tine. Me made many promises which he failed to keep, and also when it came time to pay, he gave them lots of whiskey first, then paid them short while they were still drunk. He cheated them in card games, but the worst part was that two got killed somehow. Now I could understand all of the mind changing.

During the waiting that morning, we noticed on the side of the hill what appeared to be the adobe remains of an old church, also more indications of adobe houses. We were told that many long years before there was quite a large settlement there, but some strange disease had killed the entire community. When I returned home, I did some investigating and found that there were records and other data indicating there was a civilized community there back in the l5th century.

At long last we were all loaded with bedrolls, pots, pans and clothes tied in bundles, which I tied on the top and sides of the truck. I’m sure we looked like the people in “Grapes of Wrath.” What I wouldn’t give now for a picture of it. Amid shouting, crying and making signs of the Cross, we left in a cloud of dust. Fortunately, we did not have to go out the same way we came in. We had come the most difficult route, but in going out, we hit Las Vegas, Now Mexico, and a fair road all the way home. After two or three hours of travel I heard a pounding on the truck, so I stopped to check the trouble. AU they wanted was a rest break, which proved to be embarrassing since none of then had any modesty. Right there in full view of Mary and me and each other they made their required adjustments. They were all in real good spirits and didn’t seem to mind the beating they were taking over the rough roads.

Later in the afternoon it started raining real hard. Since there was no top over Mary and I, we were soaked in short order. I kept looking for some sort of shelter as I knew we had to stop soon. The last wash we went through had just about all the rater we could get through, and I knew what trouble could come from being caught in tho path of a flash flood, so I didn’t want to cross another one until I was sure the main water had passed on. I’ve seen some of those washes up to ten feet with flood water after about an hour of hard rain; then an hour or so later be only a mere trickle. Our worries were soon over as we spotted an old tumbled down adobe house and frame barn. All of tho roof had fallen in on the barn, but about half of the house was still covered and in fair shape, even though there were many leaks. All of the stuff on top of the truck was soaked, so the men brought in wood from the fallen barn to make a good fire for drying things, us included. In spite of all the problems they were very happy and there was continual laughing and singing. We shared their frijoles and tortillas for supper, then hit the sack. Again, their lack of modesty was something to wonder about.

In the afternoon of the next day we arrived home, and I’m sure there was never a happier person than Mary. I might add that it was a downright necessity for her to be home, as she had only been to the bathroom once in five days, and that was the first day. If you ever have the opportunity, be sure to ask Aunt Mary about that trip. After the trip, I again worked in the oil field and at many other jobs of short duration. I never seemed to worry about a job as there was always someone who would hire me for one thing or another.

About this time in life I was enjoying a lot of country dances, mostly on Saturday nights starting about eight p.m. and lasting until dawn. I remember a funny thing that happened when I was about fourteen. I knew very little about dancing except what Shady (Leatha) had tried to teach me at home. I had gone to a country dance to help hold up the wall, and was enjoying just watching, until a girl came to ask me to dance. I was so shy and embarrassed that I first said no. Then several guys made fun of me, so I decided to try. I remember the girl wore a dress that buttoned completely down the back, We were just getting a good start when she made a quick turn and in my hanging on, every button on her dress cane open from top to bottom. My embarrassment was only topped a few years later while at a public dance the girl I was dancing with stopped suddenly. We looked down and there was her petticoat wrapped around her feet. We were both very red and I’m sure she wondered what to do. Somehow I suggested that she pick it up and we walked off the floor.

There was quite a Mexican population in our section of the country A lot of them were share croppers or farm laborers. They are great people to laugh and have fun with and, of course, a big part of their entertainment is music and dancing. Their songs have such a beautiful melody I never get tired of hearing them. Actually, I think one of the most beautiful songs in the world is “Maria Elena.”

Whenever we were in the area of one of their dances, we would always stop by to listen and watch. We had many good friends among them. One night we were watching a wedding dance when an old friend, Jose Torres, came over to ask if I would dance with his wife, a very beautiful woman several years my senior. That was a special honor so I accepted. At that time they had an unusual custom which added romance to what would otherwise just be an ordinary dance. I was acquainted with their custom so I went to where Mrs. Torres was seated, I bowed as best I knew how, and asked if I might have the honor of dancing with her. (Had this been an unmarried woman, I would have had to ask her Duena.) Mrs. Torres, of course, with a beautiful smile, accepted. I extended my hand to assist her from her chair, then held out my arm for her to hold. It was the custom to walk with her, counter clockwise around the room, and as you returned to the place where she had been seated you stopped, faced her, then took her gently in your arms, maintaining about a six inch distance between your bodies. At the right beat of the music you’d start off, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, etc. I’ve never seen a Mexican woman that wasn’t a beautiful dancer, and Mrs. Torres was truly a joy to dance with. Another part of their custom was to dance with her for three sets then walk around the room clockwise to her chair and, of course, compliment her as well as express your joy at having the privilege. One of the sets with Mrs. Torres was a waltz in which they played “Sobre Las Olas” (Over the Waves), and I never hear the song that I don’t think of Mrs. Torres.

The country dances were real fun because all were the same kind of people, but later as things grew, we started having dances at a hall in Artesia. That, of course, meant town people who were different, so we didn’t have the same fun, and when the oil field workers began showing up, everything was ruined. There were lots of fist fights and for awhile the dances were stopped for that reason. Some of the fights graduated into the use of knives and occasionally pistols.

About the time things were getting quiet in our area, a new boom was starting in Borger, Texas, which is about 40 miles east of Amarillo where Clara, my sister, lived. Shady (Leatha) was staying with her, so I went up for a visit and then on out to the oil field.

Let me say at this point that no one who was not in Borger at that time would ever believe such a place could possibly exist in a law-abiding, civilized country. At the time I arrived there, the place had grown from ten to fifteen people to five thousand in less than a year. Business buildings put up on main street were much the same as frontier days except they were tight against each other. All were single story, with 1 X 12 siding and batting over the cracks. I don’t recall that any of them were painted and there was rarely any finish on the interior.

In spite of the below, zero weather a few times, they were kept warm by reason of many heaters. There was so much natural gas in the area I imagine the cost was small. Sidewalks, where there were any, were random width two inch boards and, of course, of the lowest grade. Actually, there was no plan to the settlement and buildings had just been put up on both sides of the dirt road coming in from Amarillo to the main field.

The field was just at the edge of town, and in fact, there were some derricks in town. Just before my arrival there had been about a foot of snow then some melting and a freeze. Since the main traffic was big trucks hauling pipe and heavy drilling equipment, the roads were kept in a state of being almost impassable, except to them because of the deep ruts. Occasionally a load would get stuck right in the middle of town and everything would have to wait until a tractor could he run in. Crossing the street was a real hazard.

I arrived there late on the afternoon with very little money in my pocket and a feeling of being lost in another world. I stopped at a little cafe to check meal costs, then a flop house for a night’s stay. It looked like I had just about enough money to get through breakfast if I didn’t eat too much. While standing there bewildered, along came a kid I had gone to school with a few years before. He had only been there a short time and was working in a clothing store close by. When I say clothing store don’t get the impression it night resemble something you might see today. The building was the typical board and batting structure, maybe 60 or 70 feet long and about 20 feet wide. There were only a few counters. The merchandise was all for working men and the different items were stacked all over the floor. I had told my friend I was going out in the field the next morning to get job, so his boss offered to let me sleep in the store that night on a pile of army blankets. When the store was closed for the day, we went to dinner and when we returned the boss was gone. My friend said that was unusual, as he usually fixed something on a little gas burner in the office. After some wait we decided to see if he might have gone to the “chic sales” outside and met with trouble.

As we opened the door, there was the old fellow lying in the snow. He had been slugged and robbed. They even removed a finger to get his rings. Since he was already stiff, it must have happened about the time we went to dinner. My friend said that things of this nature were almost daily occurances and nothing ever seemed to be done about it. There was a gang of men who had organized the town into a law of their own with income for themselves as a primary interest. As a sample of what I mean, let me get ahead of my story a little.

One night after payday, I bummed a ride into town to see my friend and to get a better look at things. My friend had moved on, so in my wandering around I went into a gambling hall to watch the action. It was quite a large place and what a seething mess of sweating, dirty, stinking, drunken men actually quarreling for a chance to sit in a crooked game and lose their hard earned pay. There were games of every description. Some with bet limits but many with no ceiling. Blackjack, draw, and stud were the big games. While I was standing there sweating a game, three men wearing stars came in and stopped by a nice, husky young fellow next to me. After a moment I saw one of the supposed deputies deliberately step hard on this young man’s foot. He stepped back and asked why that was done, but instead of an answer one of the other deputies hit him with a sap and knocked him cold, then two of them grabbed his arms and dragged him out. I asked another bystander if he knew why that was done and he said the so-called law there had a real system for making money. They would take that young man to their office and book him for resisting an officer, or any other trumped up charge they could think of, then tell him his fine would be $100 if paid then. If not, there would be $10 per day added for his keep until the fine was paid. There was no jail as such, but they had an area about 50 feet square with a high fence around it without a shelter over it. They had large chains running almost the full length of the area and every few feet there would be a short lead off with a leg shackle on it. Those who did not pay their fines were put on the chain until they could think of a friend or relative who might pay it for them.

At this particular time the temperature was running from 15 to 20 above zero, which made it rough for the men on chain. However, they were each given a blanket. During my stay in the area, temperatures went to 13 below for several days at a time, and I heard that quite a few men on chain froze to death. Twice when I was in town in the early morning, I’ve seen men laying up against a building frozen stiff. Life seemed pretty unimportant.

Back to my first morning out to get a job. I managed a ride out to the Phillips Petroleum Co. Plant and had no trouble getting a job on their pipe line crew. I stayed in their bunk house and ate at their chow hall. Their bunk buildings were like the ones in town, board and batting and around 20 X 100. There were no ceilings and heat came from two pot bellied stoves fired by gas. If your bed was close to a stove, you’d nearly fry; but if a little too far away, you’d nearly freeze. The company furnished only two blankets. I was fortunate in getting a bunk just about the right distance for reasonable comfort except when it was real cold, then I’d sleep with all of my clothes on. I even slept in my sheepskin coat a time or two. There was no charge for the bunks, but three meals cost a total of $1.50. They fixed lunches since we were always too far away to come in for the noon meal.

Pipelining there was a rough go with real cold weather and rough terrain added to the hard work. The pipe was all screw joint, and bucking tongs were used to set it up. That wasn’t too bad on three and four inch, but it got real rough on six inch.

The crew was usually about 20 men, and for the most part were floaters who would work only long enough for a grub stake. With very few exceptions, they were the bulliest and roughest men I’ve seen in my life. Each day there would be one or two fist fights on the crew, and some turned out real bloody because they didn’t always stick to “Queensbury” rules.

My system of keeping my mouth shut, minding my own business, and working like hell paid off there too. Within a week I had been moved up from one job to another until I was made stabber (which is also the straw boss.) I was always in wait for some rough dude to challenge me, but I never was bothered. I either looked too young and innocent, or they were not sure what power lay behind my silence. I rarely ever talked to any of them, just listened. When we came in from work, I’d go to the chow hall and then to the bunkhouse where there was usually a card or crap game going. I was saving my money to get out of that hell hole, so I took no part in the games. Besides, I had a firm rule never to gamble with strangers.

One night after payday there were two big games going in the bunkhouse, when al] of a sudden the town police hoodlums came rushing in from both ends. There was quite a bunch of them and they rounded up every player as well as those who were watching. First of all, they grabbed up all of the money in sight, then herded the men out to a big stake body truck where they announced the fines would he $20 each. Pay then or go to the chain. There again their own rules applied. Gambling was okay in town, but not out in the field. There were about 30 men to collect fines from, which made a nice haul. I was in bed watching the action from under a blanket and thanking my lucky stars that I hadn’t been innocently standing up close to the game.

Snow and cold weather continued to make our job mere miserable, and to add to the many days of below zero weather, there always seemed to be a good strong north wind. A common joke was that in the Texas Panhandle it took a snowflake 15 miles to land. I would have preferred working on a drill rig, but rotary drilling was used altogether differently, and I didn’t know enough about it to try to bluff my way in.

Occasionally a real gasser would be hit at about 4,000 feet and we would have to tie into the hole under the derrick floor. I don’t recall how many million cubic feet per minute some of them blew, but, the noise coming out of a ten or twelve inch casing was almost unbearable to an unprotected ear closer than about 300 feet. In order to get in to make our hookup, we put a small piece of cotton in our ear, then filled the rest of the ear with vasoline. Then more cotton over the whole ear held in place with a cloth around our head. Even then the roar could be heard, but at least it kept the ears from hurting, but your whole body would vibrate when working close. Once while working under the derrick floor tying in a line, I passed out from breathing too much of the gas. Fortunately a couple of fellows were working close enough to drag me out. Gas affects the eyes also, and mine were very swollen and watered for months on end.

Before I left that job, Phillips closed their chow hall, but that did not offer too much of a problem because there were several small cafes in walking distance. They had some real choice names, such as the “Bucket of Blood,” “Slippery Teat,” “Greasy Spoon,” “Blood and Guts” and several others. While the names may not have been original, they were none-the-less appropriate. These little cafes were the only businesses that were scattered all through the main part of the field.

As the boom extended, the little town grew by leaps and bounds. In fact, by the time I left at the end of the summer, I believe they estimated it to be about 10,000. (About 1,000 were gamblers, crocks and swindlers, and around 2,000 red light girls.)

The gambling halls were always fascinating, and while I never played, I did occasionally enjoy watching the no-limit games. A few times I saw good reason not to be in the game, as I caught players cheating. That would always send my blood racing because, I knew if they were caught, there would surely be a mess on the floor. The big bets were a thrill to watch, and I remember once when I was sweating a high-low game, the man in front of me declared low The pot was already loaded and a big bet came to this man. He not only call but raised $1,500. I almost fainted, because the knothead was holding a jack for low. Believe it or not he split the pot. That is really gambling.

Another time I recall two old blisters coming into the blackjack “no-limit” table. That table was always impressive, as there was a man in a chair that was over the dealers’ head, and he held a big six shooter in his lap The whole thing was sufficient to let the players know his reason for being. Anyway, these two girls started playing $20 to $50 each hand. Their luck worked back and forth, and now and then they would hit a losing streak and go down to some gold coins, and then their luck would come right back. Finally the game narrowed down to just the two girls and the dealer. By closing time they had cleaned the house for about $15,000. At times they would bet $400-$500 on a hand.

At this particular time, the Governors’ administration had been subject to moral question. Just as I left, a new election had put her out and a new man in. Later I met a man I’d know in Borger, and he said that a few days after the election a group of Texas Rangers were sent to straighten out the town. He said that when the Rangers hit town the gals, crooks, gamblers and so called “Law” took off across the prairie by car, on foot, or anyway they could get away.

One day we came in from a hard day’s work, and when we got to our bunkhouse we found everything completely upset. In an area like that, where there are so many transient workmen, there are bound to be a lot of vermin, and surely we were no exception. For weeks we had been literally crawling with body lice, ticks, gray backs, bed bugs, etc., so the company decided to do something about it by employing an extermination company to come in and spray everything. They threw the bedcloths every which way, also opened our suitcases and dumped the contents on the floor in order to spray them. The liquid they used stained everything brown, mostly in clothes. While I didn’t mind getting rid of my playmates, I did object to the contents of my suitcase being ruined, so I decided to quit. I’d had about enough of that cold weather, the brutality among the crew, the hard work and several other things. I went into Borger to decide if I should go back home or look for another job there. Work was plentiful and I was walking down the street toward the end of town trying to decide which oil company to see, when a Texas Ranger cane out of a shack just ahead. He started to walk diagonally across the street when a man stepped into a doorway, from which the Ranger had just left, and raised a big pistol and shot the Ranger in the back, killing him on the spot; another example of how unimportant life is in a place like that. That may have helped me make a decision, because I went to see about a ride into Amarillo where I visited Clara and Leatha for a few days, then went home.

Just recently in a current magazine I found an article of interest which supports my observations while I was in the area.

The citizens of the Texas panhandle didn’t realize it at the time, but in 1926 their sleepy little community had just stepped back into the American frontier days, and within a few years would take its place in history as one of the roughest places in the Southwest.

In 1925 Hutchinson County had been a quiet, sparsely settled area in the northern Texas panhandle. Its population consisted mostly of cowboys who worked the big ranches that sprawled across the rugged canyons and breaks along the Canadian River. Plemons, the tiny seat of government, furnished supplies for ranches, kept records on occasional births, deaths, and marriages, and looked toward the future with a shrug and a yawn. Hutchinson County hadn’t seen much excitement since 1872, when Billy Dixon and a party of buffalo hunters had whipped Quanah Parker’s warriors at the Battle of Adobe Walls.

Then oil was discovered along the Canadian River and this event radically changed the course of history in Hutchinson County. Wooden derricks, pump jacks, and tank batteries sprang up on the mesquite and sage hills along the river; and streams of black crude oil oozed down the sandy draws.

Borger, a town which didn’t even exist in 1925, swelled into a tent and sheet iron city of 5,000 in just six months and established itself as the center of the boom. Drillers, tool dressers, salesmen, prostitutes, and promoters poured in from the oil towns in eastern Texas and Oklahoma; and right behind them came some of the toughest men in the Southwest. Bootlegging added to the many other problems in the area.

But before too long the winds of change began to stir; a young vigorous district attorney was appointed. He quickly began cleaning up the crime situation and soon had put together the finishing touches on a number of cases he intended prosecuting in the Federal District Court on a following morning. That evening he was murdered in his front yard by an assassin whose identity remains a mystery.

The audacity of the killing sent a quiver through the entire state of Texas. A squad of Texas Rangers and another special prosecutor were rushed to Borger. The Ranger captain reported to the governor that Hutchinson County possessed the worst organized crime ring he had ever seen, and the governor placed Borger under martial law and sent in additional Rangers, as well as over one hundred National Guardsmen.

The girls in California had been pleading with Mother and Dad to come to California, and Dad was then on a deal to sell out. While waiting on the deal I went back to a ranch for awhile; but then decided I was in a mood for a change, so sold my truck, horses, saddle and other gear and went to California with Mother and Dad. Before leaving this part of the country, I should mention a place where I enjoyed many hours.

The Carlsbad Caverns are one of nature’s beautiful wonders, but the present promotional material is quite different than the story we knew. I don’t know just when they were first discovered, but at least it was long before Dad and Mother came to that country. Jim White, who became a real good friend of Mother’s and Dad’s, was living near the caves before 1880. White City is named after the old gentleman.) In later years he moved into one of the caves. As the old fellow began to get to the end of his life he lost his power of reasoning. Once when a friend went to see if the old fellow was getting along okay, he found that all Jim had been, eating was the bats that infested the caves. He was removed to Carlsbad and soon passed away. Many years later, I visited the caverns only to find that the Park Bureau did not take you into the interesting part of the caverns.

I have been there several times on what we called exploring parties and we have also had dances in what we called the “Ballroom.” There is a schoolroom which had desks for pupils and at the end of the room was a large one for the teacher. The desks are small blunt stone mineral formations. The music room was something to see and listen in, - we’d break off one of hanging formations and gently tap the many others; each one had a different tone. We have explored many miles of the underground network of caves, and since there were so many branches we‘d take great balls of string, as well outside rocks and sticks, to mark the many turns. In some areas the caves opened into large room-like openings, but for the most part the passages were just big enough to walk through.

An almost unbelievable sight is at dusk and dawn when many millions of bats come out at dusk like large columns of smoke and return at dawn. I have no idea how far they might travel in a night, but where we lived at Dayton (about 45 miles by road from the caverns), in the summer evenings we’d begin to hear them flying and screeching in the early evening.

Nature has provided these little creatures with a wonderful radar and direction-finding means. They are completely blind, yet they travel extensively and locate their food by sound. I believe some scientist made a wild estimate one time, based on quano droppings during roosting hours, that the bats consumed approximately 40 tons of insects each night. That’s an awful lot of bugs-but just think of the insect problem we’d have if there were no bats to keep things in balance.

Leaving home by train, we visited Walter in El Paso, then went on to Bell, California, arriving about the first of February, 1926. The trip through southern New Mexico, the tip of Texas, Arizona and eastern California was all a type of country we were accustomed to, but as we neared San Bernadino, California, we began to see palm trees, as well as many flowers. By comparison to our country, it looks like a paradise. When we arrived at the train station in Los Angeles, that was something else. I had never dreamed there could be so many people in one place.

Mary and Agnes met us and on the way to their home the traffic just about scared the pants off of us. I liked the beauty of the trees and shrubs, the fragrance of the orange blossoms and flowers; but with the confusion of people and traffic, I was ready to head back for the sagebrush and hills in less than a week. It took an awful lot of talking by Agnes to get me to stay. I promised to stay another week and if I could get a job, I’d put up with it for a while; otherwise I was going for sure.

Hugh Smith worked for the Edison Company, and through a friend in their construction branch I was given a job at a new station being built. The construction was just starting and a railroad spur was being run into the yard, so my first job was swinging a sledge driving railroad spikes. Next, to pick and shovel work for a few days; then truck driving job opened up for me. That meant a small raise, and was much easier than laboring in the sultry, hot sun. This lasted almost a year, then the boss made out a transfer in which I was to take a truck and report to new construction in the flats just below the Mulholland Dam.

Just as I was ready to leave he said it might be best for me to report to the main garage and let the foreman there assign me. That was a real lucky break for me, as had I followed the original plan, I would have been at the new site by mid-afternoon. That night the dam broke and wiped out the Edison camp. There were only a handful of survivors out of approximately 100 men. Lucked out again!

After a few days around the garage, I was given a five-ton Mack truck and assigned to high-line construction. The project started outside L.A .at the Arroyo SecoCanyon and continued over many mountains into the Sierra Nevadas to the headwaters of the Kern River. This kept us busy for several months. There were about 75 men on the job.

Again a new experience for me, as the men were a league of all nations; however they were experienced high-line construction workers. They were a pretty rough lot, but at least they were clean and had a better outlook on life. The first fifty miles offered a lot of problems from my standpoint. I was given three swampers (men) to help haul the big reels of copper cable used on the line. That sounds simple, but take my word that that road was packed with horror and thrills from one end to the other.

A few years before, the company had built a very minimum road through those hills but there had been little maintenance since. The hills were quite steep and the canyons looked miles deep when you were on such a narrow road. In fact, in some places the road was so narrow the outside dual tire would hang over. There were other steep places where the truck had all it could do in compound low gear to make the grade. Switch backs were something else again. Some turns could be negotiated with several maneuvers and continue on forward; but others called for backing up a leg, then forward on the next, then back up on the next until you were over the hump. My hat was almost too small after one of the older men, who had worked on the original line through there, said that I was the best driver tho company had ever had for the hazardous mountain work. I heard that a few drivers had jumped off their trucks in tight places and let the truck go down into the canyon.

We lived in tents all through the job and had our own cooks. The food was excellent and plentiful. At the beginning the mountains were rather bare and dry, but as we neared the end of the line and more elevation there was lots of big, beautiful timber which made me lonesome for the ranch country. However, I soon forgot about the lonesome feeling.

When the job ended and the equipment was returned to L.A there was to be a short layoff until another job started; but I didn’t think I was going to be happy with that type of work for the rest of my life, so I didn’t go back. For the next few months I tried a number of things -- some as a matter of economic necessity. Then I decided I’d better learn a trade.

I suppose the Irish are naturally drawn to the building trades, and I wound up with a job as a plumber’s helper. This again was a new experience. I was assigned to a little Swede who was a swell fellow and a real mechanic, but a task master. We were on new work only, and I was very fascinated by the lay-out and what it took to complete a job. I had never given a thought to the engineering it took to plumb a new house or an apartment. I was so interested in the work that I started to night school at the Frank WigginsTrade Center three nights each week. That not only covered the use of tools and the actual work, but also covered the city code and blueprint reading, as well as some drafting and lay-out. I studied everything I could find on plumbing, and with the teaching of my task-master boss, I learned fast. In fact, In less than 6 months the skin flint shop owner was sending me out to do journeyman work, but was paying me only helper’s wages, a whole $22 for 44 hours of real hard work.

This about ends the period of my early life, so I’ll bring this to a close. You stay have noticed that, so far, I’ve net mentioned love affairs, nor have I said anything bad about myself. I think that at least when a person has control, of the pen he should have the option in the latter. Put seriously, I’ve been fortunate to never have had a problem with the law, and any bad things were pretty well confined to mischief, certainly nothing serious.

As to love affairs, there were no serious romances; but it was my good fortune to have known a number of girls to date, dance have fun with. My first thrill came when I was in about the fifth grade. A little, black-haired girl with long curls moved into the area, and in school she sat directly across from me. She was real handy with a cute smile and liked to write notes. That romance must have faded because Judge and I went to the AtokaSchool for the 6th grade and I didn’t see her again.

Other thrills came along in due course, such as Mozell in freshman high school, who had the dreamiest blue eyes and real black hair; she was forever upending me with sly winks.

Then came Mary, a real honey-blond, who liked to write notes and pass them to me in the hallway between classes. I took her to the show one Saturday night and my shirt collar almost caught on fire when she held my hand.

Grace, such a winning brunette, just about caused my bankruptcy in buying her a 5 lb. box of chocolates for Christmas.

Than Ruth, with real cute bobbed black hair and dreamy bangs, who always hurried to be able to walk with me until my school bus was ready to go.

However, my first real date came as a complete surprise. I was studying during recess when a beautiful brunette, “Abbie,” came into the room and over to my desk. She said that her brother was giving a dance the coming Saturday night and she wondered if I’d like to take her. I’m quite certain I exhibited every known sign of embarrassment and utter confusion, but somehow I managed to say that I certainly would like to take her. A real “honest-to-goodness” queen couldn’t have possibly thrilled me more. I dated her as often as possible until I left the area. When I returned from the Hatchets’, she had gone to California. However, there were others that I took out, but mostly only to dances, such as Jo, a wonderful dancer, another Mary, then Hazel, a real cutie who danced like a dream. Next, Vivette, a real live wire but with an accent I’d never heard before. Then Marjorie, “Nig” and Bertha. For a country bumpkin I wasn’t doing too bad, but I was always a little uncomfortable and could never think of clever things to say; but at least I always seemed welcome and none ever told me not to come back - by the same token, I doubt that tears were shed when I quit coming back. All were good dancers and I enjoyed their company.

I must not forget Opal who lived at Hope where good dances were held almost every Saturday night. We went to the dance on our first date and I was doing my best to impress her, as she was very pretty and quite a compliment to me. We had just completed the most beautiful waltz in the world, ‘The Waltz You Saved for Me,” when Opal said she’d like for me to meet one of her real good friends, Cynthia. The friend was .an older woman and certainly a beauty. When Opal’s introduction was complete Cynthia reared back and laughed saying, “Great sakes alive, I used to pin diapers on this boy.” While I was sure she had the wrong pink behind in mind, I was too stunned and embarrassed to try to straighten things out. Opal enjoyed a good laugh, which added to my confusion. I never hear that beautiful waltz that I don’t think of that incident.

Again, I had not intended flattering my self with an autobiography; however, I have truly enjoyed reliving this part of my life. It has renewed a love for Mother and Dad, but regrettably pointed out some thoughtless youthful actions that no doubt caused some hurt to them. I’d give much to have a chance to be more thoughtful and helpful to them. The only consolation I might have is that none of my lack of consideration was deliberate or caused by a lack of love and respect. It was just youthful ignorance and thoughtlessness. I loved my Mother and I’ve yet to meet the man I’d respect more than my Dad.

With much love to each of you,

Grandpa Ray