Patterson Family

Conception to Awareness
One evening around 6 pm on the 29 of August 1936 my DNA was completely formed in a wind swept shack on the Llano Estacado located in the Redwine Community in the southeast part of Lynn County, Texas. I know for sure it was a shack and that the wind was blowing because wind always blows in West Texas and we always lived in a shack. I was brought into this world by a neighbor named Cunningham. At roughly the same time in Coco Solo Naval Air Station Hospital in the Panama Canal Zone a lad by the name of John Sidney McCain, III was also being born. He had much more potential to succeed than a lad on a dirt farm in West Texas, but really why would you really want to be president. Much of my birth makes you wonder was this trip really necessary. Mulling all of the problems of the 1930’s around in your mind, a question jumps out at you; need another mouth to feed?  There are times that you really wonder if sex was worth the consequences. Granted, without television, radio, money, and good music what was left but sex. As my father was 58 years old and my mother was 37 years old, one wonders if this was part of Planned Parenthood or just one of those oops that plague people when they can least handle it.  The Depression was still impacting most people, making life rather harsh. Around this time my brother George was sent to live with my father’s sisters in Cleburne and Ft. Worth Texas. I was never told why he was sent away.  George did say that he had a run in with Dad over school and work. My guess is that it had something to do with reducing the overhead associated with raising a family. Whatever the reason, this left my sister to take care of the crying addition to the Patterson Clan. She did not think highly of this great honor bestowed upon her, but it did keep her out of the field. She had her mind set on getting a new sister but got a brother.  Had the choice between me and a hot stick in the eye, in all likelihood she would now be wearing a patch over her burnt out eye. As this was not an option, she became a live in nanny at 10 years of age. During the 1930’s poor farming methods and the droughts that usually hit the plains area every 25 years combined to create the Dust Bowl of the Great Plains of the United States; This piled on the collapse of the financial structure of this country and the entire world made the life of a farmer on the Llano Estacado rather bleak. This picture shows the ravages of the sand storms that swept the Great Plains of the United States.  This was a dark time in the history of the United States. People that wanted to work could not make enough money to feed their families. We became a nation of unemployed immigrants wandering around trying to find food for their families.


The drought hit first in the eastern part of the country in 1930 and by 1931 had moved west. By 1934 it had turned the Great Plains into a desert. “If you would like to have your heart broken, just come out here,” wrote Ernie Pyle, a roving reporter in Kansas, in June of 1936. “This is the dust-storm country. It is the saddest land I have ever seen.” These conditions forced the farmer to make some heart rendering decisions concerning how he was going to support his family. Many just started walking with everything that they could pile on their backs. The more fortunate piled all their worldly possessions into their automobiles along with the family and started driving.

"On the fourteenth day of April of nineteen thirty five,
There struck the worst of dust storms that ever filled the sky:
You could see that dust storm coming, the cloud looked deathlike black,
And through our mighty nation, it left a dreadful track...
This storm took place at sundown and lasted through the night,
When we looked out this morning we saw a terrible sight:
We saw outside our windows where wheat fields they had grown
Was now a rippling ocean of dust the wind had blown.
It covered up our fences, it covered up our barns,
It covered up our tractors in this wild and windy storm.
We loaded our jalopies and piled our families in,
We rattled down the highway to never come back again.
— Woody Guthrie (1912-1967)
From “Dust Storm Disaster”

Many people living on the Great Plains pulled up stakes and headed to California, “Land of Milk and Honey”. A lot of these people suffered the deprivation associated with being poor in a strange land. A massive migration of this size was destine to upset the economics of California which would cause the natives to become very restless. No market could absorb this many people and still maintain its standard of living. As is always the case the migrants were treated as lepers. I think everyone that didn’t have a ring side seat to the Depression should see the movie “Grapes of Wrath” with Henry Fonda. While no movie can get it exactly right, this one came real close. The life of the migrant workers of the 1930’ was bad, but it was not a picnic for those that stayed behind. The Dust Bowl didn’t hit the Lynn County area as hard as it did in Oklahoma and Kansas. A lot of the land was still arable.

I chose to include some pictures of the Depression because I believe that it was one of the largest things that influenced my life. Had the depression not occurred would my father have taken a

different path and maybe became a more successful farmer.  I know that this is the theory of alternative realities, but one does think of such things.  I suppose that you can take this to all kinds of levels and have suppositions as to World War II and on and on until hell freezes.  I do know that because of the depression I grew up accepting my lot in life much better than people do today, which could be good or bad.  My attitude to accept things as they happen probably is a result of this background as does my belief that if you do the best you can then things will happen.  In my case things happened and in general they were great.  There was a saying back then that “things could get worse and probably will”.  While this seems a bit on the negative side, there really weren’t any options; hope was gone from the English language. This picture below always seemed to sum up what the depression did to people.  In the face of this woman is nothing but despair; no sign of hope.  The depression and World War II had a deep impact on anyone that lived during this stormy time in our history.  Some had it extremely bad but everyone including the wealthy were required to change their way of life. As my mother-in-law said, it wasn’t fair that she had to drop out of Tulane and go to Ole Miss because of the depression.  She also thought that World War II was started to make her life difficult.

Chapter 1 My Way of Thinking
Chapter 2 My Father and Mother Became Sharecroppers
Chapter 3 Conception to Awareness .
Chapter 4 Now I Know That I Remember -- I Think
Chapter 5 Things That We Did on The Farm
Chapter 6 Life on Jackson's Place
Chapter 7 My Education Begins
Chapter 8 Life on the Farm

Chapter 9 Move to the Metropolis of Lubbock, Texas
Chapter 10 Marines

Chapter 11 College and New Orleans

Chapter 12 Indonesia

Chapter 13 Bahrain
Chapter 14 Scotland