Patterson Family
Now I Know That I Remember
I Think

My memories seem to have started when I was around 3 or 4 years of age when we lived on “Kaiser Place”. Two things that made an impression on me; a visit by grandfather DeBusk and my brothers return from Cleburne, Texas. When his bicycle was delivered, I remember wondering what use it was, as it was my first experience with a bicycle. I have always believed that I remember going to Portales, New Mexico when my grandmother died in 1939. Since I was only 2-1/2 years old I must have been told about this trip. Every now and then some memory will crop to the surface and the dilemma will be trying to determine if I experienced it or heard about it. During the time when I was 5 to 8 years of age we lived in three different houses that were within eyesight of each other, the Kaiser Place in the pasture of Leon Jennings, then across the road to the “House on the Hill” and then to the “Jackson Place”. These places were on either side of US Highway 87 between Lubbock and Tahoka about 15 miles from Lubbock. People tend to refer the farms by the name of the prior occupant. Kaiser Place was the home of Leon Jenning's wifes parents and was located in his pasture. I have some vague memories of this place, but my recollections are much clearer after we moved across the road to the House on the Hill. Sometime later we moved to the next place south. West Texas is as flat as a pool table, yet we thought the house was on a hill. Actually it was a slight rise in the land.

I can recall a lot of things once we moved to the “House on the Hill”. A big red rooster crowing or the sound of a green “Popping Johnny”, a green John Deere tractor, usually started my day. I would help my mother gather the eggs and feed the chicken; probably, more of a hindrance than help. Going to the chicken coop in the early morning I could see the train going from Slaton to Wilson to pick up crops. The engine could barely be heard. By this time the only work that my father could obtain was chopping and picking cotton and heading maze. He was said to be one of the fastest maze headers in the county. The two major cash crops in this area were cotton and sorghum grain, referred to as “maze”. Before the advent of the big thrasher, the heads of the grain were cut by hand. A landowner would hire hands to go into his field and cut the heads off the maze and load them on a wagon. Mother would also work in the field, but she was not as fast as Dad. Because Frances was in school they would take me with them to the field or leave me with the Mexicans. I was too young to work, but I would pull the cotton bolls and pile them in the row for mother to collect. My best memories were when a watermelon or a cantaloupe was found in the field. It was hot, but as I recall this did not distract me from eating and enjoying the melons. You would bust it with your fist and eat it with your hands. Mother would pack a lunch that would be eaten at the end of a turn row in the hot sun, as West Texas was not noted for its shade trees. As I recall the lunch usually included syrup, chicken, cold beans and biscuits or corn bread all packed in a used syrup pail. Our water was in a glass jar that was wrapped in burlap and kept wet.  You will notice that a lot of the pictures that I have included are of things and people that are not related. I mentioned to George once that it was strange that we did not have more pictures. He said that we could not afford that kind of thing. When he came back from the South Pacific in World War II, he bought the family their first camera and radio. Any how the pictures that I have included are as close to things that made up our life. The first major job that I remember being entrusted with occurred when I was 5 years old. We had a calf that would not wean from his mother and Dad sent me to the Martin farm to borrow a metal mask for the calf. The mask had sharp edges, designed to discourage the cow from letting the calf suckle. Down to the road I went with high anticipation of the up coming journey. I quickly realized that I could not even see the Martin farm, granted I was only a few feet tall. It seemed like I walked for miles before I saw the farm. Now I realized that it was only about 2 miles. I walked a little taller after this accomplishment. Little did I know that this would open the flood gates for more onerous tasks. Tasks and chores are words that adults use to fool children into not recognizing that it is really just plain hard labor. I was also entrusted with going down to the highway to get the mail. It seemed like a long walk for my short legs, but it was only about one city block. One incidence associated with my duties as the Pony Express Rider remains fresh in my memory. My mother had my picture taken in Lubbock and we were waiting for the results to be delivered. When I saw the pictures, an ill conceived plan of me opening the pictures developed. I decided that there was no valid reason why I should not look at my own pictures right then. The fact that my hands were small and could not hold all the picture never got factored into the plan. As this soon became a critical issue, I devised a plan to solve the problem. Upon completion of my perusal of the picture I would place it in my mouth and seek out another picture. Needless to say this ingenuous plan did meet with approval from my mother. My response was that they were my pictures so why couldn’t I put them in my mouth. This resulted in a somewhat heated discussion about just what was I thinking putting pictures in my mouth, It seems like I should have been given some credit for not putting the top part of the picture in my mouths.

A task that was vividly stamped into my memory was carrying ashes from the old potbelly stove out into the yard. This photo is just about what our stove looked like, except the ring was some type of shinny metal. Coal was rather heavy which is probably why I did not have to carry the coal into the house. As the coal would burn down, ashes would collect in a box in the bottom of the stove. After the embers cooled down I would take the box out of the stove and transport it out of the house. I don’t remember a time when the wind was not blowing in West Texas, which made this task rather difficult. These ashes had to be cleaned out each day and transported to mother’s garden. Mother used the ashes for a number of things. Spread around the peach tree kept bore worms way, chickens would wallow in them to get rid of mites, pigs ate them to de-worm, and they made a good scouring agent for pots and pans. As you opened the door, the wind would blow the ashes into your eyes. After throwing ashes into the wind a revelation came to me that this was plain dumb. It did not take me long to understand what dad meant by “don’t piss into the wind”.

We always had a wash basin, soap, water and a towel somewhere near the kitchen door to wash up for meals. When there was a porch the basin was placed there along with the drinking water bucket and dipper. Many people were leery of the old water bucket because creatures would sometime take a break here and go swimming. Using communal dippers was sometimes a turn off especially when the prior user dip snuff or chewed tobacco. A lot of people would drink only from the area near the handle, which didn’t solve much since this was not a unique idea. It would become necessary to scald the dipper after a large group of workers or visitors had been by the house. Sometimes I wonder if this did any good, since everyone had already drank from the dipper and placed it back into the water. I guess if the water in the barrel didn’t kill you this sure wouldn’t do any damage. I think that farmers didn’t really have a grasp on hygiene or germs. A farm was a great big Petri dish. As Mitchner said in his book Caravan, “if and Afghani lived to become a man only a bullet could kill him”. I think that true of farmers everywhere.

George had returned from Cleburne, Texas and had finished high school at Wilson Public School. He had moved to Lubbock and was working for Garlington Foods. He had bought a 1929 Chevrolet Coupe with a rumble seat in the trunk. When he would come home he would usually have old tires that he picked up along the road. Never knew for sure what he did with these tires. All I know was that he piled them by the house, which made a neat place for a young lad to play. Of course you got rather dirty and at times some of God other creatures took refuge in the pile. Playing was something I remember. I got a little red school bus for Christmas of 1939. I would get on the south side of the house and play in the dirt with that bus for hours. I still have that bus. West Texas has some rather cold winter and a lot of wind, but if you stayed on the leeward side it wasn’t too bad. Normally the winter winds come whistling down the plains from Canada. An old saying is “There is nothing between West Texas and the North Pole but a two strand barb wire fence and one strand is down”. Of course during the summer you would seek out the shade. Dog runs were common in the country since you did not have air conditioning. In West Texas no one had a lawn. The area around the house was kept clear of any vegetation to keep the snakes and scorpions away. Probably doesn’t keep them away, just lets you see them before they strike. I later found that this was also done in the jungles of Southeast Asia.

We had a mulberry tree in the front yard that I would climb, when mother was not around, to get at the delicious mulberries. As I was never the most agile and deft person, I once fell out the tree obtaining bruises, contusions and a black eye. George was dating a girl named Velma from New Home that I really liked. I remember that I did not want this girl to see me with a black eye when we went to church. She was a member of the Church of Christ and we would attend services when George took us. My Mother referred to the Church of Christ as “Campbell Lights”. This is in reference to the founders of the Restoration Movement started by Thomas and Alexander Campbell which some say is the formation of the Church of Christ. Members of that church do not believe this and do not like to hear it said. I had heard it said on many occasion by the Baptist and Methodists, but did not get the interpretation correct. Upon seeing a traffic light hanging in the street I proudly announced “look, a Camel Light”. During the church service I had a bit of trouble with the observation of the Lords Supper. They passed a tray with small glasses containing grape juice and crackers which was meant to be for the adults. As this did not make sense nor was it explained to me, I tried to get my share. I remember getting popped for trying to observe the Lords Supper. I still wonder why people insist on taking children to church services when they are too young to understand why they have to sit still on a hard bench for an hour. A child tends to associate church with misery to their butt and in many cases a good thumping up side the head. Maybe it would be more beneficial to keep small children in Sunday school which is a nice experience that won’t turn them off their religion.

The house on the hill had a working windmill. There was a horse tank about three feet from the base of the windmill. The area around the tank was always wet with a combination of water and animal urination. This seemed to be the accepted configuration to water horses and cows on all farms. I later wondered why. This meant that all that juicy liquid was mixing with other things that cows and horses tend to leave on the ground and then draining into the well. This was also the source of our drinking water. I am sure we developed a good resistance to germs and other things that would kill most people today. I would also go barefooted in this fine mixture of animal waste. Granted I did have to be wormed from time to time. Mother would give me something that convinced the worms to find other abodes.

When we lived on the hill, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. My brother, Delbert Sanders and Winfred Cheatham joined the Navy in 1941, but were not sent to Great Lake Naval Training Station, Illinois for boot camp until 1942. The bombing did not make much impact on me at the time. I remember George coming home from Lubbock to tell everyone that he was going in the Navy. He was leaning back in a straight back chair in the kitchen when he fell backward. The whole world was being plunged into war and this is all I can remember.

George left his car at the house while in boot camp. This would be termed an “attractive nuisance” by lawyers today. The longer it sat there the more it bothered my sister and her friend Arcie Wilson. Things finally got the better of them. One day my sister, Arcie Wilson and my mother all decided that one of them knew how to drive this mode of transportation. How they came to this conclusion was unclear as none of them had driven anything but a nail. Some how or other Arcie took the helm and set sail on a great voyage with me in the rumble seat and the three of them in the front. They made it all the way to the highway, but then things started going wrong. Making a left turn toward Tahoka seemed simple, but resulted in all of us plowing through Leon Jennings fence and into his pasture. Luckily, his big bull was not present to object to this intrusion on his domain. I thought it was a blast, but the rest of them were quiet upset. We all walked home and Leon later brought the car home. The only injury was when mother cut her thumb on the barbed wire fence.

During the winter mother would break out her Singer Sewing Machine to make clothes for the family. This is not my mother’s machine, but is the same type. Her sewing machine is in the possession of Spencer Lewis Buckner, a grandson. In those days companies that sold flour and chicken feed would package their product in sacks in various floral prints as in the picture above. They made nice shirts and dresses. My shirts were always made out of this material. She also made my bib overalls on her machine. A young lad that is cooped up in the house during the winter gets some really strange ideas on how to occupy time. I had a revelation that I could supply added value to this endeavor. So, I decided to enter into tailoring business. The process seemed simple so, I laid a piece of cloth on my leg and began work. It is probably not necessary to point out that this plan had serious flaws. With a little thought, not a strong point, I would have probably realized that the razor blade I was using would also cut through to my leg. I still have a 1-1/2 inch by inch scar on my leg from this project. There was no doubt in my mind that this self inflicted wound was fatal causing me to vocalize about the end of my short life. However, mother simply cleaned it with alcohol, swabbed it with iodine, and wrapped it in bread and kerosene. Today I would have been in the emergency room for stitches and shots.

Winter was also a time when the neighbors would get together to make quilts. These gala affairs were known as Quilting Bees. A rectangle frame used to secure the quilt as shown in the picture. It hung from the ceiling such that it could be raised to the ceiling when everyone left. They would usually put chairs or saw horses under the frame to stabilize it when they were working. I never knew how they figured out whose quilt they were creating. Somehow everyone seemed to wind up with a quilt sooner or later. It was a party with everyone talking and laughing about something. The children were usually allowed to go outside and play weather permitting. Some farm had nice barns where the kids could play when the weather was bad. As the neighbors started to gather for the quilting they would bring food as there was usually a meal served at noon. As I recall the adults and the children all enjoyed this affair. I can’t seem to remember what the men did during this get together. Probably out behind the barn drinking whiskey.

We were friend with the Wilson family, Leslie, Helen, Howett, Skeeter, and Bobbie who lived near us. They owned a car and Skeeter would take us shopping in Lubbock. Arriving at Furr Foods everyone piled out and started inside. For some reason mother did not go into the store with Skeeter leaving me with idle hands. While playing around the fender of the car, mother shut the car door catching two of my finger in the door. To compound the problem, the door was locked and Skeeter was in the store. Several people were required to keep me from pulling the skin and possibly the finger off trying to get loose. After getting the door open I was taken across the street to Mark Halsey Drug Store where the pharmacist treated me. There was much screaming and wailing going on during this operation. I remember someone showing me a toy gangster car that shot out sparks from a Thompson machine gun. I don’t know if they were trying to bribe me or not, but it did not work. When mother got me home, my fingers were wrapped in bread soaked in kerosene. She used this for anything that broke the skin. I still have an extra crease on one of my fingers and a screwed up nail on the other finger.

My pets were a cat named Blue and a dog-named Spot. When we lived on the hill Blue got pregnant and left home. She was found dead on the highway. Spot would go down to Leon’s to play with his dogs. One day he was also found dead on the highway. After this I had no desire to have a pet. Years later in Indonesia I had a monkey. Probably it is more accurate to say that my wife had a monkey and I took care of it. Squeek was a female Rhesus Macaque that we got when she was a tiny baby. You can say what you want to about animals not being like humans, but this monkey had a personality and a love for Yvonne. This was the cuddly creature that Yvonne always wanted as her daughter would not get close and hug when she was a baby.
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