Monday, December 28, 2009

My First Memory...

My first memory is about an incident that happened in Arizona, probably about 1939 when I was three or so. My family lived in a tent on the desert and picked cotton, I think, for a living. I remember the tent was built so the sides would roll up and tie. I remember my mother sweeping out the tent each day.
The thing I remember most about the tent was a time, during the day, when my dad was lying on the bed, taking a nap. I was playing nearby and thought my dad was looking at me and wanted to play. I climbed onto the bedstead (an iron one, I recall) and jumped on his stomach, knocking the breath out of him. He got very mad and, after he regained his breath, grabbed me and started to whip me. (I never heard a whipping referred to as a 'spanking.' It was always a whipping.) My mother stopped him from whipping me and told him that I was just trying to play with him and didn't mean to hurt him. She was right, of course, but that didn't help my dad any. On orders from my mother, he didn't whip me, but he sure scared me. I don't remember ever trying to play with him again. I can't recall my dad being much for playing.

There was a hole in the ground near the tent where the men were digging a well. The top of the hole was about twice as wide as the bottom and a 55-gallon drum with the bottom cut out was in the bottom of the hole, about three feet from the top of the well. I imagine the drum would be lowered and another put on top of it each time the hole was dug deeper. This would allow the hole to be dug deeper by stopping the sides from caving in. Evidently the diggers knew about how deep they would have to go to reach water.

I was playing around the well and got too close and fell into the top part of the hole. I was down too far to reach anything (even if there had been anything there) to pull myself out. The sand was slippery and I thought I would fall into the deep part of the well. I was terrified and screamed at the top of my lungs. My sisters heard me and came to see what the problem was. When they saw me, they too became scared and one of them ran to get my brother, Thomas, (we called him,' Buddy,') to help. When he got there, he hopped down and picked me up and saved my life. It looked easy, the way he did it.

I remember we had two dogs there, Laddie and Lady. Lady had fits sometimes. I remember one time when Lady had a fit and two of the girls were there with me. (One was Joan and I don't remember which the other was, Mickey or Eva) There was a tree there with a forked trunk and we climbed up to the fork to get away from Lady. Joan pulled Laddie up with us and no one got bitten. I don't think Lady would have bitten us anyhow but we weren't sure so we took no chances.(I recall now that, in those days, many dogs had fits,-It wasn't rabies; it just seemed to be something that dogs did from time to time)

One time, I think at this same place or it could have been earlier at another canal, I fell into the canal and would have drowned if Mickey hadn’t pulled me out. The water was very swift, I recall. That is the last time I can remember being afraid of water.
(Buddy came running very fast and dove into the canal and hit his head on the bottom and became unconscious and the kids pulled him out. This was a very bad canal!)

I started talking at a very early age and, also, learned to sing early in my life. When I was about two or three years old, Dad or one of the kids would take me to a park and I would sing,” I Don’t Want Your Greenback Dollar,” and people would say what a good singer I was and give me pocket change. This went for food for the family. (One of my sisters said that was in Phoenix; she didn't say which year it was)

Another thing I remember is, one time the girls didn't show up at school. They climbed some giant Mulberry trees and ate mulberries all day and just played. They could see the bus stop from where they were and when the bus came from school, they went home as if they had gone to school. Mother gave Mickey and Eva a Whipping but not Joan because she was the littlest. They wanted to know how she knew they hadn’t gone to school and she told them, "A little bird told me.” The same little bird told on me many times after I got older. (I'll bet the blue stains on their clothes and hands from the Mulberries gave Mother a hint)

We used to have to walk a long ways across the desert to get water in gallon jugs for cooking and drinking because we had no water at our tent. On the way we passed a large house that had a swimming pool. Sometimes on the way back the folks at the house would let us swim in their pool. First we had to go on and ask Mother if we could then walk back across the hot desert sand to get back. Except for our burning feet, it was great.
I'll write more later.



  1. hey CA,
    hope ya had a good Christmas, and have a blessed new year!

  2. Thank you, Jel. I wish you the very best for the coming year! friend...

  3. Hey CA, how are ya doing? hope the new year is being good to ya!