The Grahams’ of Cochran County – Chapter 30

I was reminiscing today about my time overseas in the Korean Occupation, Japanese Occupation and lastly the Korean War.  It seems that it was exactly 67 years ago today that the Captain in charge of my company B, 32nd Infantry Regiment came up to me on the front line and told me that I would be rotating back to the good ole US of A.  There was a lot of celebrating with my squad that day and there were more than a few inches of dirt dug out of my fox hole.  We were anticipating incoming mortar fire.  The next morning as promised by the Captain the jeep driver picked me up and took me to 7th Infantry Division Headquarters to start the processing to send me home.  Incidentally Truman fired MacArthur that day.  When my ship arrived back in the States it had been 3 years and 13 days away from the USA.

Little did I know when I was growing up in Morton, Texas that these event could be recorded in the history of my life.  As a boy of about 10 years of age I was taking on more responsibility for my life by being less of a burden on the family.  I started paying about 5 to 10 dollars a month to my Mother for room and board.  By age thirteen I had taken over the job of theatre projectionist from Dink Cox who had been drafted.  This job put more money in my pockets and allowed me to buy things I should not have purchased.  One example of this was buying a horse.  This new obligation required more attention than I could devote so I enlisted others to help.  I could not afford a saddle so someone loaned me theirs when I was asked to go on an outing to help brand some calves.

My horse and saddle were transported out to the ranch where the activity was to be performed.  I was able to ride in the pickup with the other cowboys.  The problem that arose was that I could not stay out as long as they could because I had this obligation with my job at the theatre to start the show at about 6pm.

It was about 5 miles from town to the ranch.  Same distance back.  After this enjoyable time I started back at about 3pm thinking this would be long enough for me to ride this horse back home and then get ready for my job.  WRONG.

The horse was tired.  I was tired.  The horse probably had not been given enough water to drink and he moved as slow as the seven year itch.  I had to get off of his back and lead him a good distance.  We were making about a mile per hour.  You do the math.

The manager of the theatre sent out a search party at about 5:45 to try and find me.  One of the search party saw me and my poor tired horse round the corner of the court house at about 5:55.  He came and took the horse reins out of my hands and told me I had better get over to the theatre or I was in deep trouble.

The show went on as the saying goes.  A dirty, tired drained theatre projectionist did not miss a beat but learned a valuable lesion that day.  Plan ahead a little better.  This did help me in Korea a few years later when I judged how much deeper to dig my fox hole on my last night on the front lines in the Korean War.

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Sgt Charles Graham leaving Korea – 1951

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Grahams’ of Cochran County – Chapter 29

In a recent blog, I talked about a scar on my right leg that formed after the healing of the wound received from picking up a roll of barbed wire.  I also mentioned another scar on my right leg just above my knee that I promised to tell about later.  I better not let this scar wait too long because later may become never.  You older people understand my dilemma.

We were in between moving from the White House into Morton proper when this accident occurred.  I had a friend who lived close to the White House and we visited a great deal during the summer months when school was out.  We decided that we needed a private place and as a result of our planning started digging a cave like structure.  We were going to cover the opening or roof with some timbers and plywood and other things so we to put dirt on top of this structure but leaving an opening so we could crawl in and out without much difficulty.  My part of the work on this structure ended abruptly one day when my friend had a grubbing hoe and was swinging this with the pick edge toward the stubborn dirt in the bottom of the cave.  It so happened that my knee was in the way and the force of this pick hit right above my knee cap and left a gash.

Since mother was at the café and feeding a bunch of people, she had little time for this son who went looking for trouble.  She delegated my sister Leola to clean and bandage the wound.  It finally healed and I was able to visit this finished cave a few weeks later.  I really enjoyed climbing down into this cave and even enjoy (?) a puff or two on some bark we rolled up in newspaper to simulate the smoking habit some of our adult friends had developed.  We also talked about this being a MAN cave and not ever letting a female be invited to this hideout.

One day we were planning to take some sandwiches and some of these new coke bottles down to our hideaway for lunch.  Unfortunately we were thwarted by an unusually large downpour of rain that completely wash away the dirt from the top of this cave and collapsed the timbers before we got there.  After the storm left we found us a tree and did have lunch but not exactly where we had planned.

Another day during that summer we also got into trouble with the law.  We had some firecrackers left over from the 4th of July celebration.  Found some metal pipe with an opening we could stick a firecracker in with the fuse outside of the pipe.  We also found some small rocks that we could put in the other end of this pipe.  We aimed this pipe at some bottles set up to see if we could hit them.  We got pretty good with the accuracy of this invention.  What got us in trouble with the law is that we decided to aim this contraption at a small house about 300 yards from where we were shooting at the bottles.

A few minutes later we saw a car driving up to where we had been doing our experiment with this apparatus.  This happened to be a fellow from the Sheriff’s department who asked who we were and why we were shooting at this widow’s house.  After he discovered that I was one of the County Judge’s children he decided that we would not be taken to jail but gave us a stern warning.  I guess I pulled some rank that day.  We also abandoned our invention and the target practice.

 

 

 

 

The Grahams’ of Cochran County – Chapter 28

Another blog from the late depression years 1938-1940

GAG Newsletter

Marguerite was leaving home to go to Arlene’s Beauty School after her graduation from Morton High School in 1937.  She graduated from Arlene’s in 1938 and passed her state board exam.  According to her book “Growing up with Eight Siblings in the Depression” she details her struggle getting through beauty school and a period of depression it caused her to have.  I remember that she got a job in Alamogordo, New Mexico.

We visited her while she was working in Alamogordo and slept in her beauty shop.  We had visited White Sands National Park and played on those sand dunes all day and then had no place to take a bath.  That was indeed a “sandy sleepover”.  I believe that this was the first time I had been out of the state of Texas.  I have wondered what her coworkers thought when they got to work the next day and saw…

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The Grahams’ of Cochran County – Chapter 28

Marguerite was leaving home to go to Arlene’s Beauty School after her graduation from Morton High School in 1937.  She graduated from Arlene’s in 1938 and passed her state board exam.  According to her book “Growing up with Eight Siblings in the Depression” she details her struggle getting through beauty school and a period of depression it caused her to have.  I remember that she got a job in Alamogordo, New Mexico.

We visited her while she was working in Alamogordo and slept in her beauty shop.  We had visited White Sands National Park and played on those sand dunes all day and then had no place to take a bath.  That was indeed a “sandy sleepover”.  I believe that this was the first time I had been out of the state of Texas.  I have wondered what her coworkers thought when they got to work the next day and saw all these sand covered people wandering around in the beauty shop.

Blackie Julian was the owner of that beauty shop and several others and he called her and told her to catch the bus and come home because there was not enough business to keep her and some of the other employees there.  She was very sad but it turned out good for her because the harvesters who were coming into Morton to help with the crops wanted their hair done.  Marguerite went to work at Esther Adam’s Beauty Shop in Morton and writes in her book that she was up until mid-night on some Saturdays giving perms.

One of Marguerite’s customers introduced her to a brother by the name of Cecil McSpadden.  Within six weeks she had married Cecil.  The date of the wedding was September 16, 1940.  Marguerite was the first of the siblings to move out of Cochran County.  She and Cecil started a family that included five daughters:  Amy Helen, Cecelia, Marikay, Barbara and Debra and one son: John.

The siblings remaining at home were George, Leola, Mary, Katie, Bob, Charles and Janie.  Still a house full.  Still a lot of work to perform in the Graham Café.  I was already employed at the Wallace Theatre as a ticket taker and popcorn boy and did not have to wash the dishes.  Leola and mother were having a little conflict at that time and I can remember Leola slapping my mother and stalking out of the restaurant.  I do not know where she went.  I do not remember what the conflict was about but this was unusual to see this type of violence in the house.  Remember that Leola was the one who Dad disciplined with dunking her head in the rain barrel.  She seemed to be pretty stubborn.

I do not remember when my parents discovered Ruidoso, New Mexico.  I recall visiting Ruidoso during this time while Marguerite was still home.  We have a picture with all 8 remaining siblings sitting on top of this big rock or surrounding it in some pose.  It was not many years after Marguerite’s leaving home that Dad purchase 7 lots in the Midway area of Ruidoso.  He had big plans to build on these lots and rent out cabins to the tourists.

One of my biggest surprises in this visit to Ruidoso was seeing a river bed with water in it.  We had the dry gulches around Morton but no flowing water.  This was neat.  The elevation of Ruidoso (7,000 feet) gave it a cool atmosphere.  The wind blowing through the pine trees was an exciting sound.

 

 

The Grahams’ of Cochran County – Chapter 27

THIS COMING SUNDAY IS EASTER SUNDAY.  We did not celebrate Easter when I was growing up.  We did hunt Easter Eggs and hid them several times just to enjoy the hunt.  We went to a conservative church of Christ.  I can remember my parents taking communion out of one cup.  They then progressed to one cup on each side of the auditorium.  Now most of the congregations in the same category with a similar name designation use the multi-cup tray to pass around to the congregants.

In my early youth, I can recall riding to church in a wagon pulled by a team of horses or mules.  When we moved into the White House at Morton, we could walk to church.  We were even closer when we moved into the house behind the Graham Café.  The café seemed to disrupt the routine of going to church.  Mother was too busy getting breakfast and then lunch for the paying crowd that she could not make it to church.  Dad had a dispute with some of the men at church about song leading.  He was a good song leader but for some reason he was offended and stopped going to church all together.

Time changes things.  The move into Morton proper allowed more interaction with people not in the family circle.  One day when me and Bob were hanging around the square there was this fellow called Marvin Doss.  His older brother was Truman Doss and they ran the largest grocery in Morton at the time.  Marvin must have been about 13 at the time but had already been trained to deliver groceries.  Marvin drove up in his pick-up loaded with groceries in the back.  He asked if we could go with him to help deliver the groceries.  Me and Bob jumped at the chance.  We had not ridden in many vehicles.

We were pretty close to the end of the grocery delivery job when Marvin asked if we wanted to drive the pick-up.  We jumped at the chance.  He suggested that Bob handle the steering wheel and that I use the break if I needed to.  He was going to put it in Granny Gear and run beside the pick-up.

On the straight away we did pretty well but when Marvin asked Bob to turn to the right to go to the last deliver house things started happening.  Bob did the turning ok but he had not been taught that he needed to unturn.  By that I mean that when you turn the steering wheel you have to turn it back to get it going straight again.  Experienced drivers know that you go in circles if you don’t turn the wheel back.  Neither of us had to put our foot on the accelerator because Marvin had it in gear already.

Because Bob had not readjusted the steering wheel the pick-up was headed over the ditch and toward Mr. Hooks’ chicken pens.  Bob asked me to put my foot on the brake and this I did but due to the heavy pull of this low gear I was not able to push it hard enough.  Marvin was behind us and started running to get in the drivers seat and take control.  Before he arrived we had run through Mr. Hooks’ chicken pen on the south side and I had concluded that I could turn the key off and stop the progression of the pick-up.

Chickens were flying everywhere.  Marvin reached us and breathlessly told us to move over.  Mr. Hooks was running out of his house and shouting to stop, stop, stop.  We had stopped shortly after I cut the ignition switch.  Marvin jumped in the driver’s seat and turned the truck back on and ran through the north side of Mr. Hooks’ chicken pen.  He was afraid that Mr. Hooks was going to beat us up.  Marvin drove us back to Doss Grocery Store and almost before we got in the store, Mr. Hooks showed up and told Truman Doss (Marvin’s older brother) what we had done.  Truman told him that he would make it all right and not to worry.  Mr. Hooks was satisfied but Truman was not.

Truman sent Marvin back out to deliver more groceries but he had other tasks for me and Bob to perform to make amends for our part in the escapade.  He needed several more rolls of barbed wire brought from the storage area to the front of the store on the sidewalk so the farmers could get to it easier.  The first roll I picked up came tearing into some flesh on my right thigh.  This dug in and pulled some flesh and fatty tissue up and I started bleeding pretty bad.  Truman sent me to the café to my mother so she could care for my leg.  I needed stitches probably but she had no time to take off and get me to the doctor to have it stitched.  I now have a nice little heart shaped scar on my right thigh to show for my first driving experience.

There is another scar on my right thigh just above my knee.  I will tell you about that later.  It came before the heart shaped scar.  Not such a good Easter late 1930’s.   Have and enjoyable Easter 2018.

The Grahams’ of Cochran County – Chapter 26

After my last chapter, my son Tim Graham, MD asked me how my dad was able to get a hotel from Bledsoe, Texas moved behind the Graham Café on the east side of the square in Morton, Texas.  I explained to him that this was a shotgun type building with a lobby across the front about 20 feet by 10 feet.  Extended from this lobby was a hall with rooms on either side.  There were three rooms on each side of the hall.  Before indoor bathrooms.  Before electricity.

This building became our home during the 1939-1940 school year.  The walk to school was much shorter.  It was easier for me to play hooky.  There were a lot more friends to play with.  Bob found other entertainment and did not have to pester me with his favorite game of holding me down while sitting on my chest and dropping spit toward my face and seeing how far it would go before sucking it back in his mouth.  He failed to suck it back a time or two.

When I could escape from my dishwashing chores in the café, I would wander down to the Wallace Theatre to see if they had circulars to deliver to the city residents.  Occasionally I would be invited into the theatre before the customers came.  It was mostly dark inside and the projectionist, Dink Cox and his friends were rolling dice or something else.  One day they invited me to be a part of their club.  I asked them what it would take for me to be in this club.  Dink had some water soluble paint in one hand and a brush in the other hand that he was using to paint a movie poster with and he casually said that all it would take was for me to submit to a little paint smeared on my pee tail.

These other fellows who where 5 to 10 years my senior where grinning ear to ear.  I sure did want to be part of this club so I took my pants down and let him smear me with this paint.  I had JOINED THE CLUB.  I wore that paint a better part of the week before I took a bath and washed it off.  Little did I know that this was a joke to try and get rid of this pesky little intruder.  Never saw this used on anyone else after this.

At age 10 I was asked to fill in as the theatre popcorn and ticket taker person since the regular person got sick and didn’t show up.  This turned into a permanent job.  I made $10.00 per week and was able to pay mother $5.00 a week for room and board.  I made them a good employee and did not have to go far to get home after work.  Bob got off my back too because the newspaper needed an ink jockey.  This was someone who would rub the printer sets with ink so the paper could be printed.  He had dirty black hands most of the time that he could tease me with.

One Sunday morning on December 7, 1941, mother had asked me to go to the drug store and get some aspirin or something when I heard the proprietor shout that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor.  The radio in the pharmacy was turned up a little louder and I walked back to the café wondering where is Pearl Harbor and who are the Japanese.  I did remember that in recent months we were picking up a lot of old rusted iron and steel to sell to the blacksmith shop.  They would put it on trucks to be transport to the ships.  When I was doing some of this I was told that the Japanese were buying all of this.

When I got back to the café with the medicine my mother wanted, everyone in the café was gathered around the radio.  The announcer said that our President Roosevelt was going to make a speech in about an hour.  He also mentioned that a lot of our ships were burning and sinking at Pearl Harbor.  Our world had been changed.

“The day that lives in infamy” was a turning point in many lives.  Our young men in the community who were of draft age started volunteering for service.  There was a unity of purpose for the citizens of the United States of America.  How dare anyone attack us.

George tried to join the service but he was turned down because of his severe heart murmur.  He was hired by a defense plant in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  We at home started collecting scrap metal to send to our own manufactures of weapons of war.  We started defensive methods of blacking out our windows at night.  We were on a war footing.  Dad was hired by a defense plant north of Amarillo named Centex.

The depression that we were in was fading away rapidly.

 

 

 

 

The Grahams’ of Cochran County – Chapter 25

image_543438187938448Marguerite Wood Graham was graduating from Morton High School in 1937.  I was finishing the first grade when this happened.  Marguerite was leaving the nest.  She was the oldest of the siblings.  In Marguerite’s book “Growing up with Eight Siblings During the Depression” she details in Chapter X her frustration about schooling after High School.  Dad said he could not afford to send her to Abilene Christian College because of the expense.  He suggested Beauty School.  Dad had the philosophy that someone should not go to college unless they had a specific major outlined.  She enrolled at Arlene’s Beauty School in Lubbock.

I wanted to clear a date up in Marguerite’s book about when Andrew (Dad) was elected to office.  She said that it was 1937.  I called the Cochran County Court House and talked to Connie Jo Baker.  She was kind enough to go to the County Judge’s Office and look at Dad’s picture.  She told me that he was county judge there the years 1935-1938.  The county judge now serves 4 year terms in Texas.  I am still trying to find out if the terms then were for two years instead of 4.

When Dad lost the election in 1938 he had to start planning for a new occupation.  There was no way that he was going back to farming.  He decided to open a café on the east side of the square.  I remember Bob and Bill Deaver helping to clean out the attic in this old building.  Dirt from sand storms had pilled up 6 to 8 inches and had to be taken out with buckets.  The place was up and running as Graham’s Café in January 1939.  We did not move to town right away but continued to live at the White House which was a mile and half from down town Morton.

Mother would get up every morning about 5 am and trudge down to the café to start the preparations for breakfast.  My sisters would get me and Bob up and we would trudge to school.  Dad was out looking for work elsewhere.  We would all stop at the café on the way home to eat supper.  Mother would trudge home about 7 or 8 pm and start over the next morning.

Business was slow until the Mexican workers came to harvest the crops.  We were all enlisted to help in the café.  My sisters were waitresses and me and Bob washed the dishes.  Janie sat back in the back booth and played with her dolls.  I got tired of café work and wandered down to the Wallace Theatre a few doors north on the east side of the square.  They usually had circulars that I could deliver to the neighborhood.

About a year after we opened the Graham Café, Dad had the old hotel from Bledsoe, Texas moved behind the café.  We had an outhouse behind this that we had to keep locked because other people would try to use it.  We still had to haul our water from the café to the house so we could take our baths.  The two buildings were separated by about 10 feet, so that was not too inconvenient.  That was a lot better than walking out to the White House a couple of miles away.

We tried family style meals in the café for awhile.  We had these long tables and everything was set up and usually Dad or a substitute would get out on the sidewalk, facing the courthouse and ring a bell to tell the population that lunch was ready.  We finally stopped the family style meals when a drunk came in to eat and vomited on the table.  This of coarse ruined everybody’s lunch.

George was still sickly with his rheumatic fever and not able to help much in the restaurant.  He would take care of the chores at the house as much as he could tolerate.

 

 

The Grahams’ of Cochran County – Chapter 24

Are there some things that nauseate you?  Some of the chores that I performed when we were living in the White House near Morton was picking up cow chips out of the pasture so we could burn them in the stove.  I did ok with those droppings because they were pretty well dried up.  There were not many trees growing on the Plains and the few that were growing there did not last too long in the winter.  Coal ran pretty expensive and we ran out of that stuff early on and used it in the cooking oven mostly.  We had to go to that less expensive stuff.

One morning my brother Bob wanted to add another chore to my schedule.  He had been assigned the task of taking the food scraps down to the pig pen and giving the hogs some nourishment.  This morning he had three buckets to carry and he enlisted me to help him with the second bucket in my left hand and carry a third bucket of this slop in my right hand.  He was going to be late for school and I had not started yet so mother took his side and I started down there with him.  I had just eaten my cereal and the odor did not agree with my full stomach.

We got to the pig pen and he climbed up on the wood boards that made up the fence.  He was able to dump his two buckets into the pig trough.  I tried to hand him my bucket but he insisted that I climb up and give the pigs a good slopping with the contents of my bucket.  I struggled up the boards and finally reached high enough so as to empty the contents of my bucket into the trough.  No sooner had I done that than I also decided to give them my breakfast as good measure.  I threw up several more times before I climbed down.  Bob noticed that I was pretty pale so he said he could  carry all three of the buckets back to the house.

Mother Bess knew that something was going on because Bob told her not to send that “chicken liver” to help him with that chore anymore.  I did not protest.  For several years after that episode, Bob would use that term for me when I was not living up to his standards of being a “he-man”.  He must have learned that term in his first year of school I guess.

Over the years my sensitive stomach seemed to get stronger and when I went to Korea in 1948 the smell of “honey carts” with the human waste inside made other insulting smells seem like child’s play.  I had very little trouble in medical school with the cadaver smell in the anatomy lab but my wife did suggest that I leave the anatomy lab coat in the car or back at the medical school when I came home at night.

My conclusion is that we all have different smellers.  No two are alike.