life story books
Same country of birth
United States

Thurman Dwight Lane

Fathers name: Luther Delbert Layne

Mothers name: Sarah Willyne Collier

Country of Birth:

United States

Year of birth: 1943

Places of Residence:

Fayetteville, Arkansas

Memories and Musings

The life story of Thurman Dwight Lane - picture 1 My family 1946.
I suppose I should start by saying my name is Thurman Dwight Lane. I was told that grand mother Mannie Lane named me Dwight after some radio soap opera guy that she liked, maybe it was the Thurman part, anyway that is what I wound up with. I was also told just about every birthday for 51 years, that it snowed on the day of my birth. I would always ask mother to tell me about it and she had the story down pat. “We were living in a little shotgun house near Bay, Arkansas and Mrs. Lane and Mrs. Settlemire were there to help me. We were going to plant potatoes the next day and spent the evening eyeing the seed potatoes. We had them on the kitchen table when we went to bed and during the night it turned cold and snowed. The seed potatoes froze and they were ruined and we had to give them to the hogs. You were born that morning.” My journey began.

Writing these few thoughts down has given me time to reflect back and savor some of my early memories. I will say one thing at the very beginning. These are my memories and with the exception of the genealogy part, which has been lovingly researched, they are just that, memories.

Our Horses
Old Bob and Old Blue


Things have a softer glow when viewed from 50 or 60 years old memories but this is my story. Much like the Dustin Hoffman movie Little Big Man I can recall several facets of my life and sometimes they seem disconnected, even to me. At other times they are very connected and I am still that little boy growing up with a house full of brothers.

Looking back at our time on the farm I have come to the realizations that all our animals were referred to as old, as in old Bob and Blue the work horses, old Rebbie the saddle horse, old Bossy the cow and later on old Shep and old Troubles two of our dogs. The work horses Bob and Blue had been trained to work in the woods, hauling timber. Dad set in to train then to pull the wagon and to till and work the fields. This was much different than working in the woods and row cropping and farm work required much more precise training. In the woods horses were hooked to the logs and pulled with all their might until they got to where they going and turned around and repeated the same thing over and over. Working on the farm meant they had to do many task and do them safely. Pulling the wagon was sometimes done by simple commands like “Gee” and “Haw” for left and right. I remember hand pulling the field corn and voice commands were all that were used so all hands could harvest the corn.

My first memories of Old Bob and Blue was when we moved to the Owl City Community just south of Hoxie. I think it was 1946 or 47 and we moved the horses and farm equipment on a trailer truck. If I remember correctly the farm equipment was loaded at the front of the trailer and a fence was placed between it and the horses. The first order of business was unloading the horses and giving them a rubdown to make sure they were OK and probably to calm them down.

We did use old Bob and Blue and the wagon as transportation for a year or two, this was around 1948-49. I remember going to Walnut Ridge and leaving the team and wagon at a warehouse area next to the railroad while Mom and Dad shopped, Donald went to the movies and we strolled the street and ate popcorn from the street vendor. I also remember going to Duvall Church of Christ Singing and Dinner on the Ground once with the wagon and team. Today the trip would be over in a few minutes but then it was an adventure. I think these trips were nostalgic for Dad because I also remember an A Model Truck. We kept the old iron tired wagon even after we moved to Hoxie. It set in the alley next to our house and we used it to play cowboys and Indians. In those days taking a trip in your mind was almost as good as the real thing. Come to think of it that has never changed. I guess that is why I have a love for reading.

We did ride old Bob and Blue but they were not saddle horses, far from it. Being little changes your prospective on things and my memory may be a little exaggerated but these were very large horses. My big brothers made a burlap saddle out of several layers of burlap bags tied on with a rope around their bellies. It helped a little but setting on top of them was like setting on an elephant. I remember Bobby sliding off of old Bob and landing on his back with the horse standing on his pant leg just below his crouch. It was a good thing he was skinny and the pants were large. I think it was Delbert who finally got the nerves to back the horse up so Bobby could move out of the way of those big hooves. The horses were so big that if you fell or got off in the field you had to find a tree stump or fence to climb up on and remount. I don't think Bobby was looking for a stump that day he made a bee line to the house on foot.

I think our days growing up on our little farm gave me one of life's greatest gifts, the ability to keep things in prospective. Last year we had a really bad ice storm and lost power for a few days. After the initial frustration I begin to think of the old days when we didn't have electric power or natural gas. We lived in a perpetual state of what now is called a disaster we just called it living on the farm.
End chapter 1

Mother's Family

The life story of Thurman Dwight Lane - picture 2 Collier Home in Izard County, Arkansas, photo taken 1951
Mother’s Family
Information on the early years of mother’s family is hard to find and to get an over all view I have had to rely on small bits of information from several sources.

My mother Sarah Willyne Collier Lane was born Sept 17, 1913 daughter of Joseph “Joe” Franklin Collier and Ada “Addie” Ethel Dobbs. Both grandparents were twins. Joseph or “Jodie” as his mother called him had a twin sister named Josie and married Addie who’s twin sister was named Ida.

Grandfather Joseph was born January 17, 1885 in Izard County, Arkansas and grandmother Ada was born July 17, 1879 in Izard County, Arkansas. I don’t know all the places grandfather lived in Izard County but Sage was the place mentioned the most. Grandmother’s family lived in Barren Fork, (after 1917 it was called Mt. Pleasant), the Dry Town area and according to the diary of grandmother’s aunt Elizabeth J. Rudolph McSpadden, “Oct. 15, 1907 moved to Calico Rock”, all in Izard County, Arkansas.

Grandfather Joseph had the measles sometime around 19 or 20 years old and began loosing his eye site. I have had several people including a couple of Doctors tell me that this was probably not the reason he lost his eye sight but this is the way I always heard the story. He was able to work and the early job I remember hearing about most was driving a freight wagon for the merchants in Melbourne, Izard County, Arkansas. I think most of the trips were from the river landing at Guion to Melbourne both in Izard County. Sometime around the turn of last century Joseph and mother Sarah Francis Forrest Collier moved to Tuckerman in Jackson, County, where most of the work was farming. It was here where his mother Sarah Frances Forrest Collier was killed. This part of my memory is very fuzzy but the story as I remember grandpa Joe telling it was that he was in Newport, Arkansas when he heard the news of his mother’s death and ran and walked all the way back to Tuckerman using the railroad track. He was told that his mother was across the tracks from their home and saw the hogs in her garden. She hurried back over the tracks and didn’t hear the train and was struck and killed. I can not find the records of her death.

Grandmother Addie died when mother was about 15 and I only heard stories of her. One thing I remember mother talking about was how grandmother Addie loved music and played the Organ. Elizabeth J. Rudolph McSpadden was grandmother Addie’s aunt from the McSpadden side of the family. Elizabeth kept a daily journal and two books survived. In the entry for Feb. 3, 1900: “Mack Dobbs got them an Organ.” Mack Dobbs (John Ira McMellon Dobbs) was Addie Dobbs father and my great grandfather. In the days when getting a new dress could start with planting cotton and a new carpet started with raising sheep, buying an organ must have been a major expense. I don't know if this Organ was the one Mother remembered so fondly but it could be.

Grandpa Joe did remarry briefly, I never met her and only know her name, Lizzie Grimes, from records I found in Izard County. Joe lived with his daughter Ida Marie “Bea” Collier and they lived close to us most of the time. My childhood memories almost always have grandpa and Aunt Bea in them somewhere.
End chapter 2

Joseph F. Collier's maternal family, Forrest

The life story of Thurman Dwight Lane - picture 3 Forrest Chapel Church and Cemetery, Izard County, Arkansas
Joseph Franklin Collier's maternal family

I first visited the Forrest United Methodist Chapel and Cemetery, Izard County, Arkansas in the 70s with my mother and father. Mother said the Forrest buried there were her grandmother’s kin. I was there a couple of times later but did not know how these people fit into my family, only that they were kin-folks. After I retired and started looking into my family genealogy in a serious way, one of the first places I looked was Forrest Chapel near Violet Hill, Izard County, Arkansas. I had lots of Collier and Forrest names from my trips to the area court house along with information from grave markers, census records and land records but I was not able get a clear picture of the Forrest Family until I met other Forrest family researchers, namely Andy and Julie Forrest from Washington state, Ted Hill from Oklahoma and Kenneth and Mary Good also from Oklahoma. With information from my records and that so freely shared by these family members, I slowly began to assemble a reasonable representation of my Forrest family heritage.

Washington Thomas [W.T.] Forrest was born July 14, 1815 in Tennessee {grave marker}. According to Ted Hill, from Broken Arrow, OK. His parents appear almost certain to be Thomas and Elizabeth Forrest, who were residents of McNairy County, Tennessee in 1840 and 1850 also family tradition, as retold by the late Otis Forrest [ grandson of W.T. Forrest] of Izard County, Arkansas, tells us that W.T. was married three times and was the father of fourteen children. The first wife probably died before W.T. moved from Tennessee. In 1840 he is listed as head of household in McNairy County, Tennessee. He and his wife are in the age 20 to 30 category, there are two children under five years of age in the home. According to Otis Forrest [born 1889], the second wife was the mother of only two of the children, James Larkin and Jane Edwards. { Edwards probably married name }. James Larkin Forrest’s obituary gave his mother’s name as Sarah. It seems very probably, they married while still in Tennessee and that she died in Mississippi. The 1945 Mississippi State Census list W.T. Forest as head of household and married with 3 males and 3 females in the house. Family tradition and history indicates James Larkin Forrest was born in Tishomingo County , Mississippi, Feb., 1847.

I find W.T. Forrest next on the 1850 Tishomingo County Mississippi Federal Census , along with ( Milica ?, can't read 2nd name) sons William and John and daughters Mary and Jane and youngest son James. These names and dates agree with tradition and family history. Another interesting observation is the next door neighbor in Tishomingo County, Mississippi was J. Burton, wife Rebecca and children John and Sarah. J. Burton was born in North Carolina and wife Rebecca was born in Tennessee. Nothing is proven here but it is another connection to the Burton name.

Arkansas Land Records say he owned 40 acres in Craighead County, Arkansas in 1859. One record indicates the land was in Poinsett County, Arkansas. The records also say W.T. Forrest’s oldest son William H. Forrest had two parcels of land totaling 120 acres in Craighead County, Arkansas in 1860.

The third wife Nancy J. Cook married W.T. about 1850 in Arkansas. This is the mother of Sarah Francis Forrest and my great-great grandmother. Nancy J. was born Sept 25, 1828 and died May 23, 1901 and is buried at Forrest Chapel Chapel and Cemetery, in Izard County, Arkansas.

Otis Forrest said that after coming to Arkansas, W.T. Forrest first lived near Jonesboro, Craighead County, Arkansas. He later moved to a larger farm called "Ponders Farm" near Walnut Ridge, in Lawrence County, Arkansas. By 1870 he was a resident of Izard County, in the Conway Township. In 1880, his residence was Lacrosse Township. {1870 and 1880 census } This change of Townships was a reorganization of Izard county and boundary changes for the townships, and not an actual move.
W.T. was a leader in his community. He was instrumental in organizing a Sunday School in 1876 and the organization was named Forrest Chapel in his honor. A permanent building was constructed in the summer of 1879. The original building was moved and a new church built just north and east on the same property. Forrest Chapel Methodist Church and Cemetery are very much in use today.

Now back to Washington T. Forrest Tennessee connections. He leaves McNairy County, Tennessee and is next found in the Tishomingo County, Mississippi. [1845 State Census.] This is not a big move, as McNairy County, Tennessee is just across the line from Tishomingo County, Mississippi. The 1850 Tishomingo County, Mississippi Federal Census, shows W.T.Forrest age 34 born Tenn. and family; wife [Milica? can’t read name] 18 born Alabama, son William 14, born in Tenn, son John 11, born in Tenn, daughter Mary 9, born in Tenn, daughter Jane 6, born in Mississippi and son James 3, born in Mississippi. This leads me to believe Washington T. moved his family from McNairy County, Tennessee to Tishomingo County, Mississippi sometime near 1841 to 1844.

His parents Thomas b. 1786 and Elizabeth b. 1788 both in North Carolina, were still residents of Tennessee. In the household were Sally age 23, James age 15, and Charles Thomas age 6 { grandson ? } . In Caswell County, North Carolina there is a marriage record for Thomas Forrest and Betsy Burton, December 2, 1809. Betsey is the recognized diminutive of the name Elizabeth and the ages would be reasonable, it may be assumed with a fair amount of certainty, that the McNairy County, Thomas and Elizabeth and Caswell County’s Thomas and Betsey are the same couple. Thomas appears on the 1810 Caswell County Census but not the 1820 and Washington T. was born in 1815, suggesting the family migrated from North Carolina to Tennessee between 1810 and 1815.

The 1812 list of free taxable inhabitants in Humphrey County, Tennessee include Thomas and William Forrest. In the 1820 Perry County Census is Thomas Forrest. {Perry County is just south of Humphrey County, both border the east side of Tennessee River In 1830, Thomas was living in Henderson County { On the west side of the Tennessee River and Perry County}. 1840 and 1850 found then in McNairy County, just west of the Tennessee River and bordering Mississippi. In a period Thomas appeared to have move 4 times. This could have been as new land opened in Indian territory.




End chapter 3

General Nathan Bedford Forrest

Old Rumors, stories, folklore and tales exist in all families and the Forrest family is no exception. There exist a persistent and probably accurate family tradition that Washington T. Forrest and Brig. General Nathan Bedford Forrest were cousins of some degree. As most all Tennessee Forrest who had North Carolina roots were possibly related in some manner, this is probably true. How is the question.

In 1790 and 1800 , there was a William Forrest in Caswell County, North Carolina. He was probably the father of Thomas.

In August 1777 in neighboring Orange County, William Forrest wrote his will. His wife’s name was Lavinia and he named his sons: Shadrack, Gresham, Joel, William and Jesse. This son Shadrack appears to be the same man who is named as great grandfathr of The General, Nathan Bedford. ASSUMING that the son, William, is the Caswell County William and father of Thomas, we have our connection. Washington T. and brother James would have been second cousins once removed of the General. Sarah Frances would have been third cousin, Joseph F. Collier would have been fourth cousin and Sarah Willyne Collier would have been fifth cousin and Thurman Dwight Lane would have been sixth cousin to General Nathan Bedford Forrest

If these connections can be proven, a considerable amount of Forrest history from Colonial times can also be provable.

End chapter 4

Joseph Franklin 'Joe' Collier




When I first started looking into the genealogy of my family I wrote down a few things about Grandpa Joe and kind of folded it up and set it aside. When I look at that writing now I realize it was all about jokes and pranks we pulled on him. He may not have been as fond of us as we thought, he may just wanted us close so he could “keep an eye on us”, (one of his expressions).



CHRISTMAS PRESENT


My early memories of Grandpa Joe start about 1948 or 1949 when I was about 4 or 5 years old. Dad had bought a small farm just south of Hoxie, Arkansas in the Pugh community, sometimes called Owl City community. Joe and Aunt Bea still lived near Lake City, Arkansas and would visit us now and then. I never knew how they got there, one day I would look down the old gravel road and there they were waving and smiling. One year they visited at Christmas and after all the hugging and stories about the trip had died down he got his bag of presents out and passed them around. Mine was a toy gun and I thought it was the best present in the world, later when we were along for a few minutes he gave me another toy gun and told me it was a special present just for me. Looking back I have a suspicion he did that for his grand children just to make us feel special but I still think I was his favorite.



JOE-FER-SHORT

We moved to Hoxie, Arkansas in 1949 and around that time Joe and Aunt Bea moved there from Lake City. Joe at this time had lost most of his eyesight. This didn’t keep him from getting around. One story I remember hearing was about the nickname Joe-fer-short. He would hang around the service station where my Dad and Uncle worked. When he introduced himself he would say his name was Joseph Collier but you could call him Joe for short. Some of the people started calling him Joe-fer-short, one word.

PICKING COTTON

Even with his very limited eyesight Joe still tried to do the work and chores he had always done. Picking cotton was not only a way to pick up extra money but essential for most people to make a living. Joe had a pick sack that had been worn out, patched, turned over and worn out again. It had a big hole where the patch had came loose and I would pick cotton next to him and sneak cotton out of the hole and put it in my sack. Picking cotton is hard work and something I hated. I thought I had got away with this until one day, shortly before his death, we were talking about all the trouble I used to get into for not picking enough cotton. He said he thought that what I picked and what I got out of his sack should have been enough.

WATCHING RADIO

Grandpa Joe and Aunt Bea lived just south of Hoxie, Arkansas on my Uncle Vaughn’s farm in the very early 50s. I used to spend the night with him and we watched the radio. We would pull our chairs up in front of the radio and watch it as we listened to our favorite show. The radio was not as simple as it is today. It all depended how good your battery was, no electricity, and what station you wanted to listen to. We liked to listen to The Louisiana Hay Ride out of Shreveport, Louisiana and this required the antenna to be strung up just right. I would climb a tree and stretch it out as high as I could get it. To listen to The Grand OLE Opera I had to hang it from another tree so it would be facing the right way. One of grandpa’s favorite groups on the Grand OLE Opera was The Chuck Wagon Gang. We liked them all. The Louisiana Hayride was harder to get and most times it would fade in and out. We also watched the Lone Ranger, Amos and Andy and all the old great ones.

CHOPPING WOOD

With Grandpa’s poor eyesight, let me say you just didn’t want to be around while he was chopping wood.

MILKING COWS

Grandpa loved to try to do the things he did as a younger man. We lived on a farm just west of Hoxie in 1955 and 1956. Grandpa and Aunt Bea lived in our house in town with Uncle Vaughn and his family. Grandpa would visit the farm and try to help with the chores. One afternoon we were milking the cows and had the young calves in a holding pen waiting very impatiently for their turn. Grandpa was standing in the doorway and we turned the calves in without telling him. The first calf ran between his legs and he rode him without knowing what it was or what was happening. I’m sure there were times when he wanted to use that cane of his in our upbringing.

Grand Pa's Pipe
Grandpa loved to smoke a pipe and always had a favorite one. One day I decided to surprise him and clean them. I used my knife and dug and cut all the old dark stuff out and made them clean as new. Of course they were ruined but he never said a thing. I only knew about the damage that I had inflicted when Dad told me sometimes later.





COLD RC

I spent a lot of time in my childhood with Grandpa. From the time I started to school, it seems grandpa and aunt Bea lived close to us. I went by his house most afternoons after school. Many of these times I was rewarded with a COLD RC. I thought that was their name, not just RC COLA. On a really good day it was a COLD RC and a Jackson Sugar Cookie out of the big glass jar at the store. I still love a COLD RC and a Jackson Sugar Cookie.

FOURTH OF JULY

The fourth of July was always a good time for grandpa. He liked to go to the Portia Picnic at Portia, Arkansas. People from all over would attend the get together. He would find a good shady spot and spend the day visiting with old friends and listening to the politicians speak.

End chapter 5

My Father’s Family

The life story of Thurman Dwight Lane - picture 6 Richard & Mannie 'Vance' Lane


My father, Luther Delbert Layne was born June 21, 1911 the son of Charles Richard Lane and Mannie Lee Vance. Grandfather Charles Richard Lane was born September 16, 1871 at Evening Shade, Sharp County, Arkansas. Grandmother Mannie Lee Vance was born September 4, 1882 at Maxville, Sharp County, Arkansas.

The following was taken from article in the Batesville Guard News Paper, written by Myrtle Pauline Lane Williams and daughter Carolyn:, “Dick Lane started working around mills while still a young boy. Soon he could handle any job at a mill, and he traveled over the area to help different owners. He worked at the famed Thompson Mill at Evening Shade, 'later identified with the Sharp, Medley, Metcalf, Smith, Edwards, Wolf, Hanford and perhaps other families.
Dick and Mannie at one time made their home on the Medley Place, where Deer Run Park is located today, south of Evening Shade, Arkansas. Later they moved to Poughkeepsie, Arkansas, where they lived on the Joe Doss Place. While living there, Dick worked at the George Jones Mill at Push. The Jones Mill was powered by a steam boiler and engine, and included a sawmill, gristmill and cotton gin. Dick remained at the Jones Mill until the coming of the depression in 1930 made work scarce. He then moved his family to Grubbs, Arkansas to pick cotton.”
The 1930 Federal Census for Sharp County, Arkansas taken on April 19, 1930 list Richard, Mannie and children Luther, Cledith, Rozella (Ozella), Pauline and George H. living a couple of houses from the George Jones family.
Arthur, Dessie and Arthur Jr. Lane were living in Trumann, Poinsett County, Arkansas when the census was counted on April 19, 1930. Their next door neighbor was Dessie's mother Leona Akins and brother Elmo and family, wife Mary and children Melburn and LaWanda. Arthur was working at a lumber mill,(Singer?). This may help explain the reason Richard and Mannie later moved to Trumann.


Mannie Lee 'Vance' Lane

Grandfather Lane died when I was about 19 years old and Grandmother Lane died when I was 16. To say I remember them need clarification. I have very few memories before 1947-48 when we moved to the Owl City farm just south of Hoxie, Arkansas. I do remember them visiting us at the farm but very little else. I also remember going to their home in Trumann and a few times and visiting uncles and aunts and cousins while they were there. This may have been the forerunner of what we call the Lane Reunion we celebrate today. I would also say that if you ask any of the young and very young children attending our annual reunion about grandparents, their answer would be similar to what mine would have been. A quick hug, a pat on the head and off to visit the cousins. We got a big hug and kiss from Grandma Lane with a little snuff thrown in for good measure. I don’t have any memory of close contact with Grandfather Lane. He did live with us for a while after Grandmother Lane’s death. If I remember it correctly he stayed for a while with each of his children.

Grandfather and Grandmother Lane were living in Trumann, Poinsett County, Arkansas when I grew old enough to remember them. I do remember them living in what I would call a shotgun house. It was very characteristic of the area and times with clapboard siding and a living room, bedroom and kitchen lined up in a row. The story I heard was if you pointed a shotgun in the front door of a “Shotgun House” and fired it, the pellets would go through the house and not hit anything. They had a small garden out back and an outdoor toilet. A couple of things stand out in my mind, one was they heated the house with a big coal burning, pot bellied stove. This was unusual to me because we always lived on a farm and burned wood. The coal seemed like a great idea, you just called the coal man and he delivered. I think most of my young memories had sawing, chopping or hauling wood in them. It was an every day thing, more on wood later. The other thing was the big grandfather clock. I can’t visualize it but I remember very well Grandfather Lane winding it and the sound it made.

The real fun part of visiting my grandparents in Trumann was visiting cousins. Uncle Arthur and aunt Dessie Lane and Uncle George and Aunt Bea Lane lived down the street.

Byrd Lane

Great grandfather Byrd Lane was born about 1835-37. The records on him are hard to find. I have no personal knowledge of him and do not remember hearing anyone talk about him until Harriet D. ‘Brantley’ Lane, wife of my first my cousin Charles C. Lane, started researching the Lane family genealogy. This was several years ago and I did not see a copy of the family lineage until I retired and started doing research on of my own. The first record of him was the 1850 White River Township, Independence County, Arkansas Federal Census. It showed Byrd Lane age 15, born in Arkansas and his occupation as farmer, living in the house of Benjamin Weedon or Weldon, also living in the Weedon household was Martha Lane age 16 and presumed to be Byrd’s sister.
Byrd (Bird) Lane’s records are first found in Independence County then Lawrence and last in Sharp. This does not mean he moved around these counties but as the population grew, new counties were born and boundaries moved. Records do indicate he was married twice, to sisters. He first married Mary Isabelle Metcalf and they had 3 children. It appears she died sometimes after their last child was born in 1860. November 19, 1865 Byrd married Eliza Jane ‘Metcalf’ Blankenship, sister to first wife Mary and the Civil War widow of Joshua K. Blankenship. To this union 6 children were born. One Charles Richard Lane was my grandfather.

July 21, 1862, we find Byrd in the Confederate Army. His military records show he enlisted at Evening Shade, Sharp County, Arkansas as Private in Company F, Shaver's Regiment, 38th. Arkansas Infantry, Confederate States of America.

The next war records I find show Byrd in the Union Army, Company C, Fourth Arkansas Mounted Infantry Volunteers, United States of America. This regiment was commanded by Elisha Baxter, who resigned to become U.S. Senator; and then by Taylor A. Baxter, Elisha's brother. Elisha Baxter of course went on to serve as the 16th governor of Arkansas in 1873-74.

I will not try to explain why Byrd served in both the Confederate Army and the Union Army during the American Civil War. It might be wise to consider the time frame and circumstances. Movies show young men riding off to war with visions of quick victories in their head. I am sure this happened in the beginning of the war but as the long horrible years of war ground on, haste and glorious thoughts were replaced by reality and many of the men who replaced the fallen were conscripts. They were not called this but if you were forced to serve the cause and died in many cases, I would call it conscription or at the very least involuntary recruitment.
End chapter 6

Owl City Community, Arkansas, My Childhood

The life story of Thurman Dwight Lane - picture 7 Lane-Collier Kids
Delbert's Scar

I do remember one thing that happened before we moved to the Owl City Community, at least I think I remember it but it may be one of those times where I remember the story of the event after hearing it so many times.

My brother Delbert has a very large scar going about a quarter of the way around his neck. We were living near Lunsford in Craighead County, Arkansas. Our house like most of the farm houses in the South was heated by wood. Our old wood stove had a front door that swung open to insert more wood or stroke the fire.

The story I remember is that Mom had just stroked the fire and left the poker lying in the hot coals while she went outside to get more wood. I picked the poker up and was playing with it when Mom came back in the house and she yelled at me and I either threw it or swung around and the red-hot poker landed around Delbert's neck. Delbert was very near killed and his recovery took a long time. I always felt bad about doing this even though I don't really remember doing it. It did not keep me from using it to my advantage when we were fighting though. I remember one time when we were half grown I got the best of him by holding him around the neck and gouging my thumb into the scar. This was dirty fighting and it was probably the only time I was victorious over him in a tussle. I usually got my butt whipped or thought I would so I didn't challenge him.

Owl City Community
Things get a little blurry viewed from a distance of 50 years and I don’t remember that many details but I will list some of the memories of living on the farm in the Owl City Community. Dad and mother bought about 80 acres of land in 1946-47 partly with money they had saved from his military service. The first memories of my childhood are of moving to that farm in the Owl City or the Pugh Community as some called it, just south of Hoxie, Arkansas. I have memory glimpses of the time we lived in the Lunsford Community in Craighead County, Arkansas, but I cannot say for sure if they are memories or stories I have heard. I remember a big truck filled with farm equipment and horses driving up and people walking around the truck looking at the horses and worrying about them being hurt. The house was somewhat of a disappointment to mother but dad was excited and explaining that it needed lots of work but it was ours. The idea of owning a farm and making a living on it was, I am sure, one of dad's dreams. The war was over, things were looking up and country life where you knew your neighbors and plenty of room to raise a family was a thought near and dear to many of the returning service men.

The house was a small wood frame and tarpaper covered building with a kind of lean-to kitchen and no chimney in the front room. We had to run the stovepipe for the wood stove out the window until a more permanent arrangement could be built. I remember a front porch, not the ordinary kind but a square platform of boards. I think it served as a place to wipe the mud from your shoes before you entered the house and little else. The kitchen was very small and in it we had a wood cook stove, an old icebox, a meal chest and a home made table and chairs. On one side of the table was a long stool. The icebox was just that, not a refrigerator, we did not have electricity. The meal chest was a long rectangular box divided into two compartments and standing on four legs It was where mother kept her bread making material. On one side there was flour and the other side corn meal, baking powder, baking soda and dough roller. A dough board sits just above of the flour and meal boxes, kind of a sliding work board where she rolled the dough for biscuits and pies and made the corn bread.

We had a log barn out back for the livestock, which at that time was the horses and a milk cow or two, a few hogs and some chickens. This was farm life as they had known it and the whole family set in to make it work. I was about 4 or 5 years old at the time and not big enough to understand what was going on but I am sure the challenge of all this must have been overwhelming at times.


While mother set in to make the house livable, dad and my older brothers Donald, Bobby and Delbert set in to make the farm habitable, with Donald, the oldest being in charge of us younger ones. In order to have livestock they must have a place out of the bad weather, something to eat and a good supply of water. It must have been a huge task. The thing I remember most was cutting wood, a chore that was never ending. I won’t take credit for this during the first years, I was the little guy that sat on the log to keep it from moving in the saw horse, while they used a cross cut saw to cut it into useable lengths. This changed gradually as I grew older and the chores I was able to handle were increased.





Water
Water is a subject you seldom think about, you just turn on the left knob for hot and the right for cold and keeping a little water to prime the pump is not thought of. The reality of farm life was quite different. Using only a muscle driven pitcher pump, it does not take long to figure out that a family of 5, and growing, can use a lot of water. Add to this a couple of very large work horses, a few cows and hogs not to mention the chickens, dogs and other critters hanging around a farm. The only thing you can do to increase the water output other than pumping faster is to, keep the leather gasket in good working order and weld on a longer handle. The water supply is also critical and for people who have not seen the old hand pumps or seen a pump pipe hand driven a word of explanation may be in order. Driving a new pump is an expense that is best put off until all other remedies have been tried. Driving a pump today can cost anywhere from $500 up if you do all the work. One of the things I remember dad doing was called “shooting the pump”. Now here was a thing I could agree with him on. During the very long hours of pumping I had day dreamed all the dreams a young child who had never been anywhere but to a country church and a few trips into town, could dream. After all the dreaming a slow hatred builds up and all my thoughts were on the pump. I had never shot dad's gun but I was willing to learn on the pump.

I am sure dad thought long and hard and talked to his friends and neighbors before shooting the pump. When a pump is driven, the part that penetrates the ground is a sharp pointed and hollow cone shaped cylinder called a drive point. The old drive points were usually brass or galvanized steel with small slits in the sides to allow the water to seep into the pipe. The galvanized steel points were known to rust and clog up and not allow the water to enter the pipe. Using a 22 rifle to shoot the point and loosen the rust would sometimes open the slits and allow the water to flow into the pipe from the under ground aquifer. If you used too large a caliber bullet the end of the drive point could be blown off and the pump was worthless and hauling all the water to keep a farm going was not possible. Using his Remmington 22 rifle and with all the children standing well back from the danger, dad successfully shot the pump.





My First Soda Pop

I think it was about then that cash money came into my life. Most of the things I had eaten up to this point was things that came out of our garden or had been grown on the farm or hunted. Now I am talking about the good things of life, a ‘cold RC Cola’ I highlighted those three words because I never heard it any other way. It was about 1947-48 and dad was in town working, my big brothers were at school and mom ran out of baking powder for her homemade biscuits, a real crisis. Now you have to remember with three older brothers and younger brother Boyd 3 almost 4 years younger and Rayburn a newborn, being needed was sort of a shock, heck just being noticed was a novelty. Mother dug around and came up with the money for the baking powder. She said there would be a couple of pennies left over and I could spend them if I wanted to.

My mind was racing as I got ready for the big trip to the store. I headed out of the house with money tied up in a note in my pocket and lots of cautions and a big hug from mom into one of the biggest adventures of my life, going to the store by myself. Mr. and Mrs. Hicks lived just down the road about a quarter of a mile and they had a dog I had to look out for. As I passed the Hicks house, Mrs. Hicks called from the porch and ask me where I was going. I stuck my chest out and proudly told her I was going to Mr. Pugh’s store for some baking powder for mother, thinking all the time how lucky I was that she was on the porch and would not let the dog bite me. She needed something from the store, I don’t remember what, and ask if I would pick it up for her.

When she brought the money out to me she said there would be a penny or two leftover and I could have it, life was getting better and better. I resumed my journey knowing that the real danger was just past the creek and across the road. There was a little dirt road that led up to the crazy mans house. I had never seen him but I had heard stories about the way that he treated his horses. I passed there in a dead run and made good time until I got to Mrs. Slayton’s house. I always called them Papa and Mrs. Slayton and knew them from church. Mrs. Slayton called out and ask me where I was going, she too needed something from the store and with her extra pennies I was getting rich.
As I passed the Gilmore house I began to realize just how big this trip was, the trees and bushes were growing right up to the road and I couldn’t see the end of it. After what seemed like hours I got to where I could see the store and knew I would make it. Mr. Pugh spoke to me as I opened the screen door and I gave him my notes. I had a look around while he filled the order, patiently waiting for the pennies I had earned and the real shopping to begin. I walked around the store for what seemed like forever. There was so much to choose from but my mind never left the ‘cold RC’ in water-cooled soda box. I looked at the Nehi Orange and Grapettes but the RC won out. I proudly, but with a little reluctance handed over my hard earned pennies. Mr. Pugh ask if I wanted help opening it and the next crisis began. I had just earned my first money and spent it on my first RC. Too much was going on in my head, if I drank it in the store, no one would know I even had it and if I took it home it would be hot and I just might have to share it with all my brothers. I decided on the latter and was thinking all the way home I could be there before they got home from school and Mrs. Slayton, Mrs. Hicks and Mom would see the fruits of my labor.
On the way back I came across a big black snake sunning itself in the middle of the road. The road was just a small dirt and gravel road not nearly big enough for the snake and me. I back tracked a ways and found a stick long enough to scare him off. I made my deliveries with the not so cold RC held proudly in one hand and hurried home, hoping to beat my brothers. Just as I was showing mom the RC I hear my brothers coming through the field and as they filed into the kitchen mom got out 6 glasses One each for the five of us boys and one for her and opened my RC. Rayburn was yet to be born or just a baby and not old enough or there would have been 7 glasses.


Rayburn was born August 5, 1948 and after a very hard struggle to get things going on the farm, dad had things going his way. I think it was about this time that he went to work at the Air Force Base north of Walnut Ridge, Arkansas. He worked for a salvage company that had the contract to disassemble and salvage parts from World War Two bombers and other aircraft. This brought much need cash to the family and some usable military salvage for the farm. The self sealing gas tanks made indestructible livestock watering troughs when they were split in half. Chain hoist, hand tools and even some Bermuda grass plugs from the runways and airfields were used on the yard. That Fourth of July was also spectacular with all the neighbors shooting off surplus smoke grenades, emergency flares and anything else that would make a flash or a bang.









End chapter 7

School

The life story of Thurman Dwight Lane - picture 8 Old Hoxie High School
Owl City School

When the school started for the 1948-49 school year at Owl City, Arkansas, I was one of the very proud and very nervous new first grade students. The long years of waiting around and watching and trying to imitate my brothers as they read books and wrote out their homework was over. Heck, Delbert was only 2 years older than I was and he recited his ABC's forward and backwards. The walk to school was an adventure in its self, but very long. Mom had made me a new shirt from a flour sack and a new pair of over-all from material she had salvaged from an old pair of dad's pants. My shoes were polished and I had a new straw hat. I thought I was stepping high and ready to take on the world. I had been to the combination school and church house every Sunday for as long as we had lived there so it was not a new place for me, just the school part. Our little group grew as we passed the neighbors houses and they joined in the procession. As the schoolhouse loomed near and we entered the yard I realized I was the only one with a straw hat.
The teacher rang his hand bell and told everyone it was time to come in by calling out very loud “Books”. There I was standing behind a tree and holding onto my straw hat that only a few minutes ago I had been so proud of. Now it was the very thing that made me different and I was torn between running home and hiding, going inside was not even an option. I could hear someone calling out names and people answering, then I heard my name repeated over and over, I could hear people talking and footsteps, I was found. Before I entered the school I stashed the straw hat under the porch and retrieved it after school. I still loved it I just didn’t want to be different.
Attending a one-room school was something I am glad I had the opportunity to do. We set on the same wooden benches we used for church. We had one teacher and he divided us into our age groups or grades. As he worked with one class the older students worked with the younger ones. Recess was a good time with so many kids to play with, of course the students gathered in their little class or age groups and you had to grow into them. Everything else was about the same as home, my big brothers were always close and Donald was really in charge, at least I thought so. The water was a bucket and dipper that all drank from and the toilets were outside, the difference being the school had two.
The school store was a bus called a “Rolling Store” that made the rounds, I don’t remember how often it came around but it was just an old school bus you entered in the front and shopped for your school supplies and candy and things and exited the back. Money was always short and after my adventure with the ‘cold RC’ I didn’t see much of it, I do remember buying a Red Chief Note Book.



Hoxie School

My second year of school 1949-50 was at the mother school at Hoxie. The small country community schools were being phased out and we rode the bus into town. After a long bus ride we pulled into a big circular drive and began unloading. There were busses everywhere, all unloading students. I had never seen this many people and was soon lost in the milling crowd. The school was a cluster of buildings with the main building being a huge two-story monster. A very loud electric bell rang and everyone disappeared inside it and I was left outside again, lost and very scared. I set there holding my paper poke of school supplies until someone saw me and helped me find my way in, it took me 12 years to get out of that one.
End chapter 8

Life in Town

First Television
The first time I remember watching a television was at the Case Tractor Company at Hoxie. We had not lived in town long when the subject of watching people on radio came up and the begging started. For the people who grew up with a television I need to give a little background. We did have a radio when we lived at Owl City, first I think it was powered by a dry cell battery and when REA run the electric lines to our house we got an electric one. Old habits were hard to break for dad and mom and new ones were hard to form. The dry cell battery was very large and I am sure quite expensive and using the radio was not a casual thing. The Morning Herald News Program with Clarence Adams from KBTM Radio in Jonesboro, Arkansas gave the local news and told who died etc was popular in our house. The radio was turned on for the program, and promptly turned off when it was over, a habit they never changed even after they got a television.

After what seemed like months of begging and being told I was too little to be in such places, I think the rumor was that bad language was used at times, I was allowed to go with my best friend Jack Gipson and his dad. It was Friday night and the business was closed and the black and white television was brought out and placed on the counter for all to see. There on the screen was the most fascinating thing I had ever seen, The Gillette Cavalcade of Sports, Friday Night Boxing, life was never the same after that.
Now don’t get me wrong, my parents did not go out and buy a television, in fact I don’t think they ever bought one. I gave them a small bright green plastic, GE black and white set about 1962 or 1963. I think Rayburn got one for the house and Delbert kept then in good TVs in the later years. They still were afraid to adjust anything, if the contrast or color balance was off, it stayed that way until one of us “boys” visited and fixed it.
This may be a novel thought for today families, just watch a program and turn it off. Cheita and I did try this when Marty and Tony were small. We were concerned that they were being influenced too much by television. It was turned off for 3 or 4 months at one time and I for one didn't have a problem but slowly it crept back into our lives and now I don’t think it is ever turned off.

My Life in Town


Moving into the town of Hoxie in 1950 was a life changing event for me. It vastly extended my contact with kids my own age. Living in the country had a lot of advantages but having lots of neighbors was not one of them. I was 7 years old when we moved and starting in the 2nd grade. I was still very shy and made friends cautiously but Jack Gipson who lived two houses down became my best buddy. We spent a lot of time just riding the neighborhood on our bikes and at that time we were still young enough to 'play like' as in I will play like Roy Rogers and you play like Lash La Rue or whoever our latest heroes were. We both wanted to be the good guy so most of the time we mixed up the characters we played, sometimes I were the good guy sometimes I had to take a punch or a bullet. Looking back it made little difference because most of the film of the time played loosely with historical facts, heck it was the movies and pretend was the game. The Saturday afternoon matinee cost only a dime and it wasn't long after we moved into town that my big brother Donald started working at the theater and most of the time we got a free pass. Making up skits and using our imagination was as much fun as having toys which we had very few of. I do remember using Mr. Gipson's stock racks that fit on his pick-up as horses. They were off the truck sitting besides the car-port and we found burlap bags and made padding we used as saddles and an old rope as reigns. One day I decided to jump off the house onto our horse like the cowboys did in the movies and I sang soprano for a while until the pain subsided. Life in the city was fun, we had free reign over the town and nowhere was off limits. We explored every old building and alley from east to west and north to south. To say these were simple time would be very misleading but we were at an age when life was simple for us.

Living in town had its advantages and finding ways to make money was one of them. It wasn’t long before we discovered the junk metal business. People would pay you money for metal and if you looked hard enough you could find it everywhere. Walking the streets and alleys, even the railroads became profitable. We soon earned a reputation as hard working and honest boys and little jobs opened here and there. We also were introduced to the “Junk Man” from Walnut Ridge who “visited” a widowed neighbor. I don’t know if he paid us good money for the scrap metal or to keep us quite. Either way we just had to load it on his truck that was parked in our alley about once a week and he paid us.
Visiting the Gipson house where I learned that all families were not alike. In our family sharing was as common as breathing and I mean sharing most everything, work around the house, food, clothes, toys, beds and anything else you can think of. At Jack’s house things were different. He was the youngest child and when he got things like toys and clothes they were new and he didn’t have to share then with anyone. Eating at his house was also an eye opener, Mrs. Gipson would serve up a whole platter of eggs and another one of bacon and you just got all you wanted. The ‘real’ big difference was store bought bread or light bread as we called it. It was common every day and not just a novelty, I thought they were rich.

My First Car was a 1941 Ford

It was the spring of 1960 that I got my first car. I don't remember the requirements for obtaining drivers license in Arkansas were at that time but I was 16 or 17 and had been driving for a while but I did not have the official state approval. I took Drivers Ed but that was only because the school had just got a 1960 Chevy and I wanted to drive it. It was one of those cars with a duplicate break peddle for the instructor welded onto the drivers peddle. We had fun and I think I got a one fourth credit for the class but I didn't take the state driving test because I was always at work during the afternoons I was scheduled to go. In fact I was always at work, my brother Boyd and I laugh when people talk about where were you on such and such day, like the day the Beatles came to Walnut Ridge or
the day Elvis died. Our answer is always the same, I am not sure but it is a good bet I was at work that day, work was the story of our life.
My 1941 Ford or as Boyd likes to remember 'our' 1941 Ford had already been in the family so I was familiar with it. My brother Delbert also calls it his first car. It was owned by Dr. Bradley an optometrist and member of the church we attended. I think Delbert gave him Seventy Five dollars and if my memory is correct Dr. Bradley indicated that he wanted the car back if he decided to sell it. Anyway that is what happened, Delbert's situation changed and he was able to afford a newer car and he sold it back to the good Dr. and a few months later I bought it for Seventy Five dollars. I worked all afternoons after school and all week-ends but I went to church Sunday night when I couldn't make it that morning. I would look Dr. Bradley up and give him my car payment, five dollar ten if I had it. He would always say that if I needed the money it would be OK to wait on the payment. I never did and was very happy when I had the title.

I was stepping tall the first day I drove my car to school and that was one morning I really didn't want the bell to ring. Today I think it is much more common for students to have their own car but the student parking lot at Hoxie High School was small to say the least and finding a parking was as simple as driving onto the lot. I remember several people wanting to take a look at my new ride and giving several a short trip before books took over. I am sure I didn't learn much that day or for several days after , my mind was just not on the books. I was not that enthusiast when the bell rang to go home either because I went straight from school to work but having my car made it better and I had responsibilities now.
I brought the subject of drivers license up to lead into another little true story Boyd and I like to tell. A few years after high school Boyd and I worked at Terrell Young's Big Star in Trumann, Arkansas. I was the Meat Dept. Manager and Boyd was in charge of stocking and just about everything else in the store that needed to be done right. If you have never worked in retail you may not know that business follows the work cycle of the community. In Trumann the ebb and flow of our business depended mainly on two local factories, Singer Sewing Machine and Slant and Slant Corp. I don't know what the plants used for fuel but the workers I will swear used bologna as their personal fuel. We could start slicing bologna Wednesday and have it packaged and ready to go by Friday afternoon when the plants had their payday and even then it was hard to keep the cases full. In this day and age when the grocery market is controlled by giants such as Wal-Mart it is easy to forget that just a few years ago there were real meat cutters behind that glass that had real knowledge of the business and was there to help out with your purchases. Give the old customer service thing a try in many mega stores today and you will have a hard time just finding a warm body. I think it was Slant & Slant that paid their employees in two dollar bills to identify employees to merchants and to show them how important economically his employees were to them. We were very aware of the impact the local factories had on our business but this was a very visual way to get the point across, we were simply awash in 2 dollar bills.

Back to the drivers license story, I think it was about 1965 while Boyd and I were working at Big Star in Trumann, Arkansas the local 'sanitation man', I think we were so politically incorrect that we called them garbage men in those days, ask Boyd if he knew of anyone who needed a drivers license. Boyd was skeptical as he should have been but after checking it out a little bit we were both convinced that the man could do as he claimed. He really could get the real McCoy Arkansas Drivers License for anyone who needed one. By that time I already had my license and Boyd had taken the test as soon as he was old enough but we were married and neither of the girls had license. I will not say that we bought their license from the 'garbage man' but it cost each of us $7.00. I did read in the paper a few years later that someone in the revenue office and a state police officer were in trouble for personally selling drivers license.
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To be continued.
End chapter 9

Going Home

1976


When the dawn broke, I was already on my 2nd cup of coffee. It felt good to be in Mom's kitchen. I watched Dad pour his coffee into a saucer and blow on it for several seconds. Mom served her coffee boiling hot and getting in a hurry was not a good idea if you ever wanted to whistle again. It was already warm outside and the new day promised to be another scorcher. Starting early was a daily thing at my parent's house but this morning we planned to go on a little trip to Dad's "old home place". I also wanted to show them my new 1976 Dodge Charger 400 Magnum. I mention this car not because it impressed them, it didn't. It does help me remember the year of the trip these many years later.

Once we settled into the trip, the stories started, slowly at first, just a few memories in Portia where Dad owned the Gulf Service Station in the late 50s. On down the highway a few miles it was decided that the 'new bridge' at Black Rock was much better than the old swinging bridge and ferry at Powhatten that was used for so many years. I think the 'new bridge ' was built in the 50s and was already 25-30 years old at the time. I still in my mind think of it as the 'new bridge'. We turned just west of Black Rock and started our winding way to Evening Shade in Sharp County. Dad was born June 21, 1911 at his maternal grand parent's home in Grubbs in Jackson County, Arkansas, but Evening Shade and Nelsonville in Sharp County was the stomping ground of his youth. His father Charles Richard Lane was born at Evening Shade in 1871 and his mother Mannie Lee Vance was born in 1882 about 7 miles south at Maxville. The Lane and Vance families and their many allied kin were very early settlers to the area, having moved there before 1850 from Tennessee, North Carolina to name a couple of States. It was several generations of home to my father. I feel very much at home in Sharp County and I never lived a day there. It must be the deep roots of my family.

It was certainly a kick driving around Dad's old home place with him. He would point to an old house and call it by the original owner's name, like the old Metcalf place or the old Tuggle place. Some would have details of the families who lived there and stories of visiting there during his youth. He told of one place where they stored their milk and vegetables in a cave. One little side trip was to show us old house he help build while he stayed with the family. He very happily showed us the old concrete bridge near Nelsonville that he worked on as a young man. I think he drove a pair of mules who pulled a large two-handled shovel that scraped the ground like the front-end loaders used in modern construction. It's probably not a good comparison, to say human muscle and mule power is similar to a diesel powered tractor.

We visited the old school and Church of Christ at Nelsonville where he got his 3r's and a lifelong commitment to the Church, both in the same building. He told of 4th of July picnics, Gospel Meetings and all day singing with dinner on the ground. He looked for the place he whittled his name on the desk so many years ago.

With Mom out of sight he told me about the time he along with a friend of his broke up a church meeting. The two teens had watched the local moonshiner on his rounds. It seems the fellow would keep his shine stashed out in different locations and not, put all his eggs in one basket, to use the old saying. He kept it in crock jugs and would hide one under a rock, another in an old stump and so on. Being young and full of themselves they decided he wouldn't miss one jug. One jug of Sharp County shine was enough white lightning for a large gathering but the 2 boys took the job on themselves. A few snorts later their thoughts went where all teen-age boys go, where were the girls? It seems this was the very week that the church decided to have one of their all week gospel meetings and most of the community was there, including the local beauties. It was summer, the windows of the church were open and they started trying to get the girls attention. The girl's parents became involved and by this time the white lightning was talking loud. A few rocks on the tin roof and the local Constable shows up and tries to take them in by himself, which was a mistake. They make their way home somehow and think they had survived the unpleasant incident with just a bad headache. The next day Dad was in the field plowing with his team of mules when he looks up to see his friend in the back seat of the High Sheriff's car. I think the story ended with both boys working for the Sheriff for a large part of the winter, as much wiser young men.
End chapter 10

Picking Cotton

The life story of Thurman Dwight Lane - picture 11 Cotton Scales
Picking Cotton


We had a split term school at Hoxie, Arkansas where I spent all my 1st through 12th education. This means we were out of school in the spring for planting and chopping cotton and after a mid-summer term we were out in the fall for picking cotton. With all the misery of chopping cotton and going to school during the hot and humid Arkansas summer then out to break your back picking cotton it should have been called misery-term school. All and all it did give us a chance to add some much needed cash to the household coffers. With 6 growing boys and 2 adults to feed I really don’t know how my parents would have fed us without the extra income.

Some folks could pack 70 or 80 pounds in one of those 9-foot sacks but mine usually had less than that. They also made 12 footers but with my limited skills I had no use for one that big. The last pick sack I saw was at my cousins antique store and it had a metal ring sewn into the bottom corner. Most of us poor folks just put a large green cotton bole in the corner and wrapped a few strands of bailing wire around the outside of the sack to form a ring of sorts. When you weighed the cotton you placed the ring over the hook on the scales and doubled the sack up and wrapped the shoulder strap around the hook. We also found polk salad that had mature red berries and used the them to write our name on the sack.

We were usually in the fields just after sun up so we could get some work done before the hot part of the day. If we were picking a large field they would park the wagon in the middle of the field and we would go to the other end of the row and pick back to the wagon. In the early morning the dew was still on the cotton and we would put our sack in front of us and walk through the thick cotton plants to the other end so we could keep as dry as possible. The cotton in those days was very different than what you see today. Today's cotton has been genetically altered to produce very small stalks. The old cotton would sometimes be shoulder high and sometime in the good bottom land over your head. Thus the expression ------- in tall cotton. Speaking of that one of the first things you learned was never pick up a pile of cotton lying in the middle of the row.

When you wore the bottom of your sack out you just cut the strap part off and turned it over and patched the hole. I don't remember what a 9 foot sack cost but we were paid about 3 dollars for picking a hundred lb. of cotton and believe me you knew the value of a dollar. Picking cotton was a very serious thing for most families. A large part of the families cash money for the year was produced in just a just few weeks.

One of my early experiences with picking cotton was the most memorable. I must have been about 6 or 7, I do know it was after we moved into the town of Hoxie. My big brothers, Donald, Bobby and Del and several of our neighbors were picked up by a farmers truck early in the morning and transported to who knows where, at least I didn’t know where we were. I remember later someone talking about Old Walnut Ridge but to me it could have been anywhere, heck I didn’t know much about new Walnut Ridge., only that they sold pop corn on the street and my big brother got to go to the movie there a few times.

I do remember the field and the trip back home quite well. The field was very large there was slight rise to the land and the cotton was tall enough that I couldn’t see too far ahead of me. This was just fine during the day, I could keep a low profile and spend my day checking out bugs and watching for airplanes. The first time I noticed something might be out of the ordinary was I suddenly noticed that it was getting much cooler and there was no one in sight, I am not sure but I may have gone to sleep, anyway I picked up my cotton sack containing about 4 or 5 lb. of hard work and started for the wagon which was supposed to be just over the rise and in the middle of the field. When I got there I could see the worn places where people had been weighing their hard days work and tire tracks but no wagon, no cotton pickers and no brothers.

I headed for the road and started walking. I would like to say that being a country boy I noted the sun going down in the west and the moss on the trees and deduced that I should head south but the truth is I just started walking and later realized it was the right direction. It seemed like I had been on the road a long time, I still had my sack of cotton when I heard a tractor heading my way. I don’t know who the guy driving the tractor was but he said he was headed to the Rainwater Cotton Gin in Walnut Ridge and being very shy and scared shitless I hitched a ride but I don’t remember talking to him very much. I was perched on top of a very large load of cotton and for some reason I started to feel silly for carrying my little sack of cotton so I donated it to the kind man who gave me a ride. Who knows it may have been just the amount he needed to make out a bale.

The ride on the cotton wagon was long and I had plenty of time to worry, I worried about finding my way home but most of all for some reason I thought I would be in big trouble when and if I ever got home. We were coming into a town but it was nothing I had ever seen or recognized. We finally got to the gin and stopped in a long line of wagons waiting their turn and this was even more scary. The gin was big and the noise almost overwhelming but my tractor driver told me to get down and matter of fact like told me how to get to Hoxie, the town where I lived. It must have been good directions because after walking several blocks I started to see a part of Walnut Ridge that I vaguely recognized. I headed south and about half way between the two towns I saw the old Cotton Compress building, a very big complex of red buildings covering acres and something that was easily recognized. It was about dark, the street lights were on and I saw my Father’s car barreling down the highway looking like he was on a mission. When he saw me he tried to make a u-turn and didn’t quite make it and landed in the ditch in front of me. He jumped out of the car and grabbed me and it was a minute or two before I realized I was not in trouble.
End chapter 11
20 May 2013
Thank you for sharing these incredible memories. Isn't it all beautiful.
Miss Guess

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