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GAG Newsletter

The Grahams’ of Cochran County – Chapter 62

In the last chapter of this newsletter I erroneously stated that I bought the automobile from the couple at church. Actually I bought it from an auto lot in Leesville. Since I had no drivers license or license plates for the vehicle, I left the automobile with the recovering alcoholic and his wife. The wife was a school teacher but needed transportation. I caught the bus to Dallas on my discharge. The picture is of me and Velva June Hawes of the congregation. She was not a girlfriend but was engaged to a Army Lieutenant. Notice the ring on her left hand.

I arrived in Morton, Texas about a week after my discharge from the Army and my sister Mary was kind enough to put me up in her small house. I slept in the kitchen. This was a one bedroom house. I was too late to start to college in the fall semester and too early to start in the spring. Mary got me a job at one of the implement house repairing bole pullers. When I left the country several years earlier, human beings did the bole pulling while dragging a cotton sack but all that had changed while I was gone. These mechanical bole pullers had bushings in them that would wear out pretty often and have to be replaced. That was my job. Replacing the bushings. It was a job that put food on the table and helped Mary with the rent.

Several things happened while I was trying to decide where I was going to college and what I was going to major in. I was a little disappointed in the church because some old soreheads had split the church and I was pulled in each direction on where to attend. I went with the old established congregation and made some of my friends mad at me because I did not come to their side. I was even teaching a class soon after I arrived. Mary’s house had these little gas heaters and I turned them up pretty high one Saturday Night to keep the house warm knowing Mary would adjust the heaters when she got home. Unfortunately she did not return home that night but elected to spend the night at a girlfriends house. I woke the next morning with the worst headache that I have ever had. I was close to asphyxiation. I was scheduled to teach class and did get dressed while vomiting with the dry heaves between getting my clothes on. I did get to church but had to find a substitute teacher because there was no way I could heave through the meeting.

Another thing happened to change my life. I visited with Neva Kennedy some because I was interested in her daughter Kat Kennedy. Kat was several years my junior but mature well beyond her stated age because her father had died. He had been one of the leading attorney’s in Morton. Neva on the other hand was one of the heavier consumers of alcohol in Morton. Neva depended on Kat to go to the Flats and buy her the booze she needed to prevent the DT’s. Kat was glad to have my help. I would visit with Neva more than I visited with Kat. Neva was an RN but I do not remember her ever working in the profession. She did see some potential in me I guess or perhaps she was grooming me to be a productive husband for her daughter. For whatever reason the subject of me going into pre-med was the subject she most advised me on and suggested that I pursue. Seeing the controversy in the split congregations also was a discouragement on entering the ministry. I was not sure which college I was going to attend. I did know that when I left Morton I would have to find a job to help me support myself in the process. The GI Bill had not been passed for the returning Korean Combat Veterans and all the tuition and fees would be mine. I had no transportation. I would have to replace that Oldsmobile that I gave to the recovering alcoholic and school teacher. I would have to get my drivers license.

George and his wife Zylphia had settled in Odessa, Texas. In December of 1951 he called and invited me to come to Odessa and live with them and their two boys, Andy and Cliff. He was a relief theatre projectionist at the Ector Theatre in Odessa and he said that they were in need of hiring a full time projectionist. He proposed that I could enroll at Odessa College and get some of my preliminary credits behind me. Sounded like a good idea to me and I told him I would think about it and let him know in a few days.

Another thing that happened while I was living in Morton was the birth of Vicki VanLandingham. My sister Katie VanLandingham and her husband Babe VanLandingham were living in Morton. They already had two sons, Don and Dick. This beautiful sister of theirs was born with special needs. Talk about a life changing event for that family. Vicki never lacked for attention or necessities. Babe was in the vending machine business and he would pay me some extra money to help him go service the vending machines. I was accumulating more than I was spending.

The other important thing was that my job at the implement house was winding down because the cotton harvest was just about complete. It seems that all these things came in place and I was off to Odessa, Texas to start a new chapter in my life. Mary was about to move on to Lubbock to go to work at Reese Air Force base.

Bob and Edith had been living in Morton but he was looking for working of National Cash Register. They were about to leave Morton. Not many Grahams’ will be left in Cochran County.

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