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.





The Grahams’ of Cochran County – Chapter 23

I was talking to my sister Mary yesterday about some of our history in Cochran County.  Mary is 93 now and is as sharp as a dull tack.  This is not a derogatory statement but may be a compliment.  My son Tim told me yesterday that he noted I was slipping a little bit in the upstairs compartment.  I will turn 88 this month if the Lord permits.

The conversation with Mary went like this.  Me:  Mary, when did Marguerite graduate from high school?  Mary:  It was seven years before I did.  Me:  Mary, when did you graduate from high school.  Mary:  It was about 1942 I think.  Or maybe it was 1944.

You get the gist of a conversation between a brother and sister who are the only surviving siblings out of nine.  And we are not young chicks either.  It makes you wonder why someone my age would be writing a blog about what happened in the 1920’s 30’s and 40’s.  It is just for the fun of it and to also answer some of these questions that my grandchildren are not interested in now but perhaps will be in a few years.

I was wanting to start this chapter with an event that happened while we were still living at the White House and before we moved into Morton proper behind the café.  Marguerite left home first, since she was the oldest.  Dad was still in the County Judge’s Office so that event was between 1934 (when he won the election to begin the County Judgeship) and 1938 (when he lost the re-election to that position).

Well, now that we have narrowed the time period from 1934 to 1938 we need to talk about that very important event.  Come to think of this event, I am not sure what it was at this time point.  I am sure it will come to me before long so I will make a note to myself to remember what I am going to write about.

My son Tim might have a point.  Is that my son’s name?



The Grahams’ of Cochran County – Chapter 22

I know that I got hit by that car while we were still living in the White House near Morton.  It was at the time that we were walking to school about a two mile distance.  Bob and I would usually walk to school starting out with Dad since he was going to the Cochran County Court House to do his duties as the County Judge.  This was about two-thirds of the trip.  Bob and I would walk the rest of the way to school by ourselves.

Minnie’s Dry Goods was on the southwest corner of the square.  We usually cut across yards and church parking lots to get to school the most direct route.  I must have been in the first or second grade.  Me and Bob were in the same grade although he was 15 months my senior.

As we were going home from school one day, we were probably playing tag and then running ahead of one another.  We generally had company going home for some distance because the school released us all at the same time.  This day I tagged Bobby and started running ahead just about the time I got to the street to cross by Minnie’s store.  As I ran out into the street I was looking back and failed to see the car that was coming west down the street.

I don’t remember what happened, but when I came to my senses my lunch pail was across the street, one shoe was in front of the car that had come to a screeching halt and other parts of my clothing were here and there.  There were several children and adults gathered around me, dusting me off and asking me if I was alright.  I told them that I guessed that I was ok and they did not need to take me home.  Bob assured them that he could get me home safely.

We never did stop by the Court House on the way home because we had been told by Dad that he would be too busy to visit.  We walked on home and I did not want to go into the house because my clothes were more dirty than usual.  As I recall, I went out to the cattle water trough and started washing off as best as I could.

Bob went into the house I think because Mother Bess came out of the house in a semi-running stance and asked if I was alright.  A lady had driven up to the house shortly after we got home and it turned out to be the lady who was driving the car that hit me or that I ran into.  She gave her version of the events and told mother that I had refused to accept a ride home from her and she was apologizing profusely.

During all this confusion, I decided I had had enough and burst into sobbing like I had never done before.

I think my pride was hurt more than anything else but I do have a good excuse due to this concussion to be a little addled at time.

Continue reading “The Grahams’ of Cochran County – Chapter 22”

The Grahams of Cochran County – Chapter 21

“I broke my arm”! “I broke my arm”!  I hollered loudly as I ran into the house.  We were living at the White House near Morton at the time.  My brother Bob liked to carry me on his back and act like a horse or something.  This was ok usually but then it happened.  He ran under Mother Bess’ tightly stretched clothes lines.  He got under the line just fine but my head and neck was above his head but also above the level of the clothes line.  Guess what!

I ran into the house and was crying loudly when my sweet mother came and gently wrapped a clean diaper around the wrist and made a sling out of another clean diaper.  I was able to make it to the couch and lay my head on a pillow and my sore, swelling wrist on a smaller pillow across my chest.  Mother did not think the wrist was broken and therefore did not take me to a doctor.

The wrist slowly got better and within about three weeks I was back to using the insured extremity.  I believe that was the last time I got on Bob’s back to take a ride.  In fact it scared Bob so much that he did not offer any further rides.

How did I know it was broken?  I really did not know but as I have aged, my knowledge of these events has enlightened me somewhat.  It has explained to me that the babying that I received after this injury was well deserved and not just being a crybaby.

In my future career as an orthopedic surgeon, I had the opportunity to examine and x-ray numerous extremities with the same symptoms as I had that day.  Almost all of these kiddos had fractures of the distal radius (wrist bone).  These children had the advantage of plaster of Paris splints to stop the motion and relieve most of the pain.

It was rough growing up in Cochran County in the early and mid 30s.


The Grahams’ of Cochran County – Chapter 20

The 11 degree temperature  this morning reminded me of the small porch/ bedroom that I shared with my two brothers, George and Bob.  We were living in the White House near Morton at the time.  The porch had a leaning roof.  There was no insulation in the walls.  Needless to say, this was a very cold room on nights like we had last night.

Mother Bess had to entice her sons to go to bed with a bed warming technique.  We had a large wood/coal stove in the living room.  The living room substituted for a master bedroom for my parents.  Mother Bess would warm some bricks on the top of this stove and wrap them with a towel.  She would then take them to the lean-to bedroom and place the bricks at appropriate areas between the sheets.  This took about 30 minutes to get the bed warm enough to allow her sons to venture out into the lean-to.

I was usually sandwiched in between Bob and George.  We had tons of blankets on the bed and stayed reasonably warm in sub freezing temperatures.  I do not recall being cold after I got under the covers.  Did I ever wet the bed?  I suspect that I did on occasions when I refused to get out of bed to use the “slop jar”.

We did not have to worry about the pipes freezing up.  We had no pipes.  Our piping system was a bucket out to the well and back.  A bath took a 3 bucket trip. Drinking water was one bucket at a time.

As I was taking to Mary (92 going on 93 as of January 30) today she reminded me of the time she saved the day.  It was morning time and I was searching for my one missing boot.  Someone suggested to me that it might be under the couch.  I got me a match to look under the couch with.  A lit match I might inform you.  Me and a lit match – a bad combination.  Some of the strands under the couch got in the way of my match and promptly caught on fire.

Mary, conveniently was taking a bath in a number 3 tub behind a curtain and heard the commotion of everyone evacuating the house.  She took her bath water and promptly saved the day by putting the smoldering fabric out.

Me, Leola, Bob and Janie were standing on the south side of the house out of harms way when Mary called us and said we could come back in.

Stay warm today, and don’t play with matches!

Starting 2018

About 9 years ago, my wife Johnnie and I went on a medical mission trip to Ecuador.  We went with a group from Western Heights Church of Christ.  We have been on a number of short term mission trips.  This was our first trip to Ecuador.

Johnnie had just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and was stabilized by medication but was still a little unsteady on her feet.  We had a younger couple who said that they would sort of look after us.  We needed that.

We flew from Dallas to Atlanta.  That leg of the journey was uneventful.  A change of planes in Atlanta was ok until a young couple, confused of the time zone change from Dallas to Atlanta went away from the airport but did not return on time to catch the flight.  We pulled away from the gate but then the pilot decided that we needed to take the bags off that belonged to the young couple.  After a few hours we got those bags unloaded and took off to Ecuador.  We were supposed to land in Quito, Ecuador at about midnight but when we arrived there it was fogged in and after circling for a few times to allow the fog to lift we had to land near the coast to refuel.

We finally arrived at the hotel in Quito and checked in at about 8 am but had to leave around noon to take the buses to our destination for the medical clinics.  We were worn out.  Johnnie and some of the ladies decided to go shopping but I decided to take a nap in the hotel room.

Things got better and we had a number of people we helped.  Traveling up the river to the clinic was neat.  We got one free day off before we return to the States.  Interestingly, they used American currency so there was not any money exchange hassle.

Why am I telling this story?  We left on that trip 9 years to the day tomorrow – January 2, 2009.  We have not been able to make any more trips like that because “Parky” has entered our life.  Johnnie is now on Hospice because of “Parky”.  We have a promise.  That pesky “Parky” may occupy Johnnie’s old body but the ‘new body’ will001 be amazing.

Have a blessed New Year.

Olen Payne Wood – The Mystery Continues

I recently spoke to my cousin Kathy Wyler.  She told me that she had written a short story about the disappearance of our uncle Olen Payne Wood in the past.  She said that she would try to find me a copy.  She and her husband Phil Wyler have moved several times in the last couple of years and are now living in Abilene, Texas close to family members.  Kathy will be 91 on the 31st of March.  She was born in Africa of missionary parents.

Kathy wrote me a letter of about 5 pages that indicated she could not find the original story she had written but she described what she knew of Olen’s disappearance.  I will let her tell you what she told me:

Dear, dear Cuzin Charles:  Grandmother Wood’s story of Olen inspired me to write “A Family Resemblance”.  This will be highlights of things she told me:

One day we were going through her trunk.  (I was in lst grade in Loraine, Texas – about 7, I guess at the time; so you will imagine my story, to my way of thinking may sound like a fairy tale).  Grandma had bought a piece of land in Blanket, Texas from the Houghton family.  (At that time Olen, Jimmy, Zelma, Mayma and Bessie were still at home and moved with Grandma everywhere).

Lizzy Houghton was about 14; she and Olen fell in love.  Lizzy’s brother had a bunch of wild friends.  On the Houghton Place there was a very “nice” storm cellar.  “Tom” Houghton gambled and drank with Olen and friends down there.  Our family had always known this.  (Uncle Jimmy’s experience with Olen were probably a large part of this).

Since Grandpa Wood had died, I’ve often thought Grandma looked up to Olen to “head the family”.

About dusk one evening “Tom” Houghton and friends showed up with horse and wagon.  Bessie saw them down the road.  She grabbed the shotgun and ran to the attic, which had a window right over front porch (true story).

Wood siblings with Grandpa Anthony
Flora on your far left. Bessie standing behind Zelma. Grandpa Anthony holding James Oscar. Fletcher Pinckney standing behind William Henry and Olen Payne on your far right.

As it turned out, Houghton demanded Grandma give him the deed to her land (she had not paid it off yet in full).  Our precious angel Grandma Wood gave him the deed and promised to move.  (She didn’t know where Olen was that night).

Then “Tom” caught his little sister Lizzy with Olen kissing out in the barn.  He beat up Olen and told him if he touched his sister again, he would kill him.  That night Olen told Grandma he was having to leave for awhile and would write.  Of course we know he never did.

In the 1940’s when Zelma, Jeannie, Kathryn and Grandma Wood were living on the Hill in Abilene, Texas there was a bit of scary news paper article about some human bones found in a cave near Loraine.  Uncle Jimmy in California wanted to investigate but Grandma said “no”.

Lizzy Houghton and 2 daughters came to ACC to College.  They lived a few blocks from us.  They went to church with us.  Never spoke, recognized or visited.  Zelma never made any moves either.  Grandmother grieved silently.

Charles, some day, I hope, I’ll find my original.  I think this is quite actual.  I began the original with Grandmother’s trunk.  Olen had given Lizzy a little gold locket watch which Grandma gave me to play with.

The Grahams’ of Cochran County – Chapter 19

CLEANING UP SOME STUFF.  I may be confusing some people when I talk about places that the Graham Family has lived.  As the title of this article indicates, most of the things I talk about happened in Cochran County unless otherwise noted.  I entered life on earth in this county.IMG_0851 (Edited)

To get a little more specific, I will talk about the Sessions Place or the Kennebrew Place or perhaps the Morton Farm.  Also you may be hearing statements such as the White House and House Behind the Café.  Then there will be George and Mary’s House.  These are all places I lived in Cochran County with the exception of the Sessions Place.  Bob was born there and then we moved to a farm close by that was the Kennebrew Place.  That is where I was born.

The picture you see above is one that shows the Graham siblings on the Sessions Place.  From your left to your right we see George; Bob being held by Marguerite; Beatrice and Leola.  In the front row from your left to your right is Katie and Mary.  You will notice that me and Janie were not born yet.IMG_0854

This next picture shows me present and accounted for.  I am the little tike in the front being held up.  The others in the picture are starting on your left: Belle Graham and dog; four of uncle Norman’s children; then starting in the back row: Marguerite (the tallest); Beatrice; George.  Leola is sort of in the middle with her hand on Bob’s head.  Charles (me) is next; Katie and the Mary.  This picture was taken at our grandparents house in Leveland.  Uncle Norman had died and we were probably there for his funeral.  We were living on the Kennebrew place at that time.

A short time later we move to the Morton Farm.  This place was about 5 miles out of town.  The next picture you see is of me and Bob in the little red wagon.  Janie was born on the Morton Farm.  That completes our family but not our adventures and growing up in Cochran County.01f5a4ebee072a4f43a76b75c741704be5e056390a_00001


Who Killed Olen Payne Wood?

Wood siblings with Grandpa Anthony
Flora on your far left. Bessie standing behind Zelma. Grandpa Anthony holding James Oscar. Fletcher Pinckney standing behind William Henry and Olen Payne on your far right.

One of the burning questions in the Wood family (and Graham family) is what happened to Olen Payne Wood.  Olen was born in 1886 in Fayette County, Alabama to James Samuel and Vernettie Jane (Anthony) Wood.  He was their second child after their daughter Flora.  James had a lot of health issues and he felt that the climate in Texas might be more to his liking.  The 1900 census showed that the family was still in Alabama and Olen was 13 at that time.  There is a little discrepancy in this census in that the age was recorded as 13 but the year of birth looks like the recorder indicated a year of 1896.  A picture taken of the family after their move to Texas settles the age discrepancy.

Census 1900, Alabama, Precient 11 (Brown) Fayette County - Olen Payne Wood001This picture does not show Flora, Olen or Fletcher Pinckney.  My mother, Bessie Beatrice Wood is standing in the back.  James Oscar is sitting on your far left and his father, James Samuel Wood is next to him with Mayma being held by her mother.  Vernettie is next and on your right is Zelma.  In front is William Henry.  It was not too long after this picture was taken that James Wood died of the bloody flux.  (I think he had undiagnosed diabetes).

Olen Payne may have been missing at that point but I have not been able to determine that at this time.  Flora had married and I think Fletcher Pinckney was off to school.  One of my cousins told me recently that Olen had been given some money to pay on some land and was traveling to do that when he was robbed and killed.

Another theory that I have heard is that Olen had left with the money and was going to visit with a girlfriend before he took off.  The story goes that this girlfriend had two brothers who hated Olen.  The theory goes that he was killed by them and hidden in a cave or some other place.  This theory got some impetus when several years later there was a skeleton found in a cave not too far from where they were living at the time.  Simply robbery by itself would not have required hiding the body therefore the two mad brothers might fit that description better.

The author of this blog will appreciate any memories that family members may have about what happened to Olen Payne Wood.