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.