Patterson Family
Move to the Metropolis of Lubbock, Texas
Lubbock was not much of a city when we moved there. The major industries were meat packing, cotton compress, cotton brokerage, military, college, and supplying the needs of people in the surrounding counties. It was a hub for several counties in West Texas and Eastern New Mexico and the home of Texas Technological College. The two military base had to be considered part of the economy. At the end of World War II one base closed and was converted to a commercial air port. The other became a training base until it was closed in 1990's. The Santa Fe Railroad and the Brulington Route shipped a lot of livestock and agriculture products. Lubbock rather isolated from most of the nation as it was not near any major highways.


We moved into the White Cottage which was located at 1401 Avenue G; three blocks from the main street of Lubbock, Broadway. In the early days of Lubbock this place was a nice house belonging to a wealthy businessman. It had been converted into a 13 unit tenement house. Five of the units were small one-room houses surrounding the main house. A wide range of people lived there. When we first moved in there were two whores, a Major in the Salvation Army, a fireman, bus driver, waitress, shoe cobbler, grave digger, bank teller, dish washer and a couple of winos. Generally the people were friendly. One of the winos was a little too friendly; always putting the moves on the little boys. When we first moved in there was a couple of undesirable families living there. On Saturday night they would get drunk and fight. One night someone took out a gun and started shooting up the place. One of the bullets came through our wall about a foot above my bed and went out the other side. That night was rather exciting with all the police and tenants running around like Sitting Bull at The Little Big Horn. Most of the people worked at minimum labor type job. There were a few that were useless drunks or dope heads. Most did not have enough money to go to the bootleggers for whiskey, so they drank vanilla extract and Bay Rum hair tonic. Everything seemed great to me, as I did not know that this was not normal. A railroad track ran down the alley that separated us from the feed store. The owner of the feed store would pay us kids a bounty on all the rats that we could kill.



The apartment that we had was two rooms, a kitchen and a bed room. The owner of the building had left most of her furniture and stuff in the apartment. That wasn't real bad since we had not moved everything from the country yet. We pretty much slammed the door an left the country without taking anything. Mother always prided herself on her mattresses and quilts. To her it was a sign of wealth. Cassandra still has one of her quilts. My bed had three mattresses which required shinning up the bed each night. There were no closets so mother hung a sheet in the corner and put our clothes behind it. Lack of closet space was not unusual in the time in our history; I don't think I ever saw a closet. Years later when we lived in Aberdeen Scotland I found that they did not have closets in houses. There were piles of quilts and clothes on everything. As I remember we had a small couch.



I though this place was a mansion. In each room there was an electric cord hanging from the ceiling with a bare bulb and a chain. Since there were no wall electrical outlets, it was necessary to screw an adaptor into the light socket in order to use an electrical appliance. That was not too bad since the only two electrical appliances we had was a toaster and an iron. When we moved to town, Daddy sisters sent us a care package which included these two items. This was the first time I had seen electricity, gas and water in the house. We had a bathroom with a tub that was shared with the other tenants. There was a toilet in the yard for the outside tenants. Most of the outside tenants never bathed because it was very difficult to get hot water to the one bath tub. There was one exception; the two prostitutes had their own bath room. To bath the rest had to heat the water and carry it to the tub, as there was no hot water in the building. Some one was always knocking on the door to get you out so they could use the pot. This was also the first time we had an icebox. When you wanted ice you would put a sign on your door that told the man how many pounds you wanted. He would come into your house and put the ice in the top compartment. The doors were not locked. A draw back to the icebox was the fact that as the ice melted and dripped into a pan located on the floor it had to be transported from the floor to the sink. This rated up there with herding cat, since it was next to impossible to carry the pan to the sink without spilling the water.



There were a lot of positive thing about living there. I remember everyone sitting out in the yard listening to the radio in the summer. Billy Conn and Joe Louis had both been discharged from the US Army and people were geared up for their rematch. Louis had defeated Conn in 1941 in what some called a close call for Joe Louis. This was dubbed the fight of the century plus it was the first televised fight. Most people in the apartment house all gathered outside our door in June 1946 for a party of listening to the fight. I had read about it in the newspaper, but didn't have much interest other than the idol worship that kid had of Joe Louis. Most of the time we would listen to Fibber McGee and Mollie, The Shadow, Philo Vance, Amos and Andy, George Burns and Gracie, Mr. District Attorney, Archie Andrews, Gangbusters, Bob Hope, Red Skelton, Philip Marlowe and the Grand Ole Opera on Saturday night. As I recall everyone enjoyed themselves.

A lot of times on the week ends I would go out to the grave yard and kill gophers for 25 cents for a pair of ears. One of the tenants in the apartment, a grave digger Gopherat the Lubbock Cemetery, told me about the bounty they paid on gophers. We would walk down to Broadway and Avenue G by the post office and wait on a pickup truck to take us to the grave yard, about a 5 mile trip. The cemetery was located just outside the town. Several kid usually showed up for the ride or lived near the grave yard. We would get a fruit  jar and a water hose and find a gopher hole. You would run water in the hole until the gopher surfaced. The jar was held over the hole so they had to crawl into the jar. Then you slid your had over the mouth of the jar. For someone with fair intelligence would have realized that a gopher would consider this exercise a little unsettling and would apply his teeth to the lid covering, namely the hand. It was soon figured out that a piece of wood worked a lot better and brought less tears to your eyes. At times we would drown out a rattlesnake, which was another reason to use the piece of wood. They would also pay for snakes. We would take the gopher to the tool shed and kill them and string the ears on a piece of wire. The foreman would come around at the end of the day and count the ears. You could make two or three dollars. When we got tired we would go visit with the diggers. Most of them drank a lot and wanted to trade whiskey or cigarettes for ears. Sometime one of the diggers would get so drunk that he could not get out of the hole. We thought that it was funny. When they had a exhuming all of us kid would rush over to see them open the old caskets.  The diggers would tell us that they had seen scratch marks on the inside of the casket where the occupant tried to dig out. Never saw anything like that. Mostly the caskets had old bones, hair, teeth and at times a family of gophers. We then found out why they paid a bounty on gophers. When my father died I asked that he be put in a vault in the ground for this reason.

We lived only three blocks from several motion picture shows. If you did not have the 9 cents for the ticket, a little rummaging the neighborhood would uncover some coke bottles; 5 bottles would get you in the theater. It wasn't a bad price for a double header and a serial of Captain America or some other hero. In those days the concession stands did not offer much more than popcorn and Milk Duds. Usually we didn't buy any thing because it was cheaper to go to a grocery store or drug store. Every Friday when we finished work we would go the Lyric Theater to see the latest movies and they always had the best serials. We wouldn't get out until around 7 pm. Usually we would go to some of the sleazier theaters on the weekend, like the Cactus, Chief, and the Arcadia. Remember that the floors were all ways sticky which wasn't too comfortable when you are barefooted.



Initially the only business on our block was the Mexican theater “Llano” and the office of a plate glass company. Across the street was the Shamberger Lumber Yard and a fruit stand and behind us was a feed store. A tire company was on the other corner. The neighborhood changed over the years as more of the house burned or were razed. Before we moved there were no residences left. Following the end of World War II the area around our house became a lot more industrialized.

While this new home might sounds bad to some it was great for us. Also it was not the worst place to live. In the next block was a place that made ours appear like a luxury apartments. The Graves Apartments catered to prostitutes, bootleggers, dope dealers and other lesser professions. Saturday night the place looked like a convention center for police. They had a lot more shootings, stabbings, and beatings than we did. The people living there seem to be lower on the food chain than where we lived. One night a friend of mine that lived in the Graves Apartment came to our apartment and asked if he could stay with us. The police had busted his mother for prostitution and they locked him out of the apartment. Mother took him in until his mother was released from jail. I have always wondered why no one gave a damn what happened to a little kid in this type situation. Sometime the kids could not find any place to go and would sleep in the alley. They would go to school smelling rather rank. Some of the teachers would admonish them about hygiene. It was strange that kids always suffered the barbs of the teacher when the parents were guilty of not taking care of their children. My wife once asked why I was so down on school teachers; maybe they deserved it.



Shortly after moving to Lubbock I enrolled in the third grade at George M. Hunt Grade School. The first memory was of Mrs. Turley who had a paddle with three holes drilled in it lying on her desk. That scared me something fierce as kids knew that when you were hit with a paddle like this the skin would go into the hole and be ripped from you rear end. No doubt about it. Recess is always the day of reckoning for the new fish. A young lad named Bobby Lamb decided that he would grab me around the neck and choke me. Not that I knew anything about Judo, I bent my legs and threw the young lad over my shoulder causing him to land with a great thud. For the longest I thought he was not going to recover, but with great effort he was able to get air going back into his lungs. This act tended to satisfy everyone that I was ok. However, another lad in the 4th grade heard of the new kid and thought that he was much meaner. It looked like I had found a kin of Rat from Wilson Public School. This lad said that he was going to kick some ass after school and I was invited to participate. I was quick off the starting blocks and was several blocks from school before the bell stopped ringing. This did not seem like a lasting solution for the problem. I finally decided to wait in the alley until James Conner came along and resolved this issue. I stepped out of an alley and politely hit him in the back of the head with a two by four. The lad decided that wood hurt and never bothered me again. Shortly after starting school Bobby Montgomery took me to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal where I got a job selling papers on the streets of Lubbock. I worked for theLubbock Avalanche Journal newspaper for ten years. During the war I was allowed to purchase 60 papers, which cost three cents and sold for five cents. It was usually hard to get a job selling papers because of the war time shortage of paper, limiting the number of papers available. It just so happened that two jobs came up that day for 60 papers and I started my life as a young businessman. One glaring problem was financial backing as the newspaper required their money up front. The established business community in the alley behind the Lubbock Avalanche Journal was more than willing to assist with my move into capitalism. A loan was negotiated for the venture capital of $1.80 at a rather steep interest of 100%. After two weeks the loan was repaid making me a debt free businessman making $1.20 a day without tips. While this does not seem like much money today, it was a veritable fortune for an eight year old lad from the country. To put the inflation factor into prospective a pair of Levi jeans cost $1.96 at Levine’s Department Store. From that day forward, I was independent, making $8.00 a week if I worked Sunday, not including tips. I could also supply capital for new kids who wanted to enter the business. I have never been without money since that day. People will tell you that money is not everything, but I guarantee that it far ahead of whatever is in second place. As I have always said, money will not buy happiness but it sure as hell buys you the type misery that you like best. As a kid I noticed that most of the problem with people that I knew usually was a result of lack of money. Even as I grew older I noticed that money seemed to be the common thread in most divorces.



Working for the newspaper changed my life. Now I was able to pay my way in life. I knew that if I wanted something I could work for it. Frances thought that the little paper boys were rather unsavory characters. Granted we were not very clean, gambled a lot, fought and cursed. A newspaper doesn't attract the highest caliber of people. The better families encouraged their children to participate in sports and school activities. Most of us worked out a deal with the school to get out early so we could work. We would get out of school at 2:45 and race to the newspaper office to try and get there before the presses started rolling at 3 pm. During the war this was not a problem as the poor quality of the paper would continually break causing delays. After the war better paper required us to be more punctual. During the war very few kid had bicycles so it was a dead run of about a mile from the school to the plant.

My sister's assessment of paper boys was probably not correct. Most of us were close friends and would stand up for each other in fights at school. Some might say that we ran in gangs, but actually it was just employees associating with each other after work. It was interesting to note that only a very small percentage of us wound up in jail. I can think of only 6 people that went to the penitentiary. A lot of us became college graduates while the big majority became trades men and businessmen. We did wander the streets late at night and early in the morning. We made friends with Lubbock Policethe cops that patrolled the beat by giving them a paper; kind of a protection fee. It was worth it because they did take care of us even when we got to be teenagers. They would give us breaks on traffic tickets and help you out if you got put in jail. There were a lot of prostitutes that hung around the paper at night trying to separate us from our money. Most of them were low on the prostitute scale. We all knew where to go if you wanted to do better. Sometimes the cop would roust them out of the alley. Some homeless bums would come around trying to take our money, but we usually out numbered them.



Working for The Avalanche Journal exposed me to many things that would have missed if I came from a wealthy family. The paper would sponsor thing for us little business men. One year they arranged a special program for paper boys at the Lindsey Theater. We all got to shake hands with Babe Ruth and talk to him about all our baseball heroes. This was the first time I had seen anyone famous. As time went on we got to see Lash Larue, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and others that I cant remember. We were all volunteered to work at the Annual ABC Rodeo which starred Gene Autry. He would shake hands with us and tell us what a great job we were doing. One of my customers was Brown's Boot Store. One day I came in and saw this person that was very familiar, but did not make any connection. It was the owner's brother, Johnny Mack Brown. He had been All American at The University of Alabama and starred in B Westerns. Harry S. Truman made one of his whistle stop speeches in Lubbock in 1948. All of us paper boys ran to the train station to see if we could sell papers to the crowd. I recall seeing him up close, but was more interested in peddling papers. The paper would also give us a bonus if we sold a certain number of papers. The bonus was free passes to the movie theaters or gift certificates. I had invested in purchasing customers from a lad that was retiring. This gave me the biggest customer base at the time. My main area was the Lubbock National Bank Building, an eight story office building. It cost me a pretty penny, but was worth it just considering all the free passes I got. I controlled the top two office buildings in Lubbock which made me the top seller of newspapers.



My first major investment after going to work was a Schwinn bicycle bought from BF Goodridge for $1.96 a week. As I was only 9 or 10 years old, Frances, who worked next door at Quicksall and Pryor Auto Supply, signed the note. I don't remember how much the bike cost. The bike made life a lot easier to get about.

I went to the Citizens National Bank to opened an account to safe guard my fortune. This was when it became obvious to me that children were second class citizens. The bank said that kids couldn't put money in their bank because they were not adults. I supposed that kids were meant to bury their cash in a tin can. After much discussion I left the bank rather upset. I related this story to several people with no help. A cop by the name of Smitty offered to help me by telling the bank that I was a good risk. He was even willing to sign for me, but I declined. I had money and a job, but that did not mean much unless you were an adult. This tended to sour me on the workings of society. The first year I put my money in a Christmas Account which paid no interest. Who ever thought this up was a genius; as every poor person in town contributed to The Christmas Club just to make the visit of Santa Clause possible. After cashing in the $50 they were happy to open an account for me. As I recall I still had to have an adult cosign my account.

In the adult population that I dealt with I have to rate the Lubbock Police very high. They treated us kid with respect while the school teacher treated us as though we had leprosy. There was only one teacher in all of my education process in the Wilson and Lubbock Public School System that I every had any respect; Miss Jeannell Wilhite. That's rather poor odds.

In 1947 the family moved to 2801 Avenue L. This was the first and only house that Dad and Mother ever owned. At this time the street in front of the house was not paved. The city limits was 34th Streets, about 6 blocks south. George R. Bean Public School, where I would spend my 6th grade, was located just across the street. Frances had put up the down payment and obtained the loan. Frances and Arcie Wilson moved in with us. The house had only two bedrooms so I wound up sleeping in the dining room. It was much better than the White Cottage. I remember being impressed



with the huge living room and an ironing board that was built into the wall. I now realize that the living room was tiny as was the whole house. There was one bathroom with hot water, which seemed like paradise. We had our first telephone. One thing my mother always had was mattresses and quilts. At the White Cottage she had put two mattresses on my bed. It seemed like a long way up to get in bed. She now had a room for all of her beds. Frances started buying things for the house like end tables, lamps and a record player. We were really living now.

Train tracks ran behind this house here also. The tracks were between the house and Jones Wrecking. This was an area where box cars were side tracked and trucks could unload them. It also made a neat place to play. We could climb on the box cars and forage in the wrecking yard. There were many good places to hide and smoke cigarettes.

My mother got me a job on Saturday paying $2.00 plus two meals as a swamper with Whiteside's Linen Supply. We would deliver linen to cafes, barbers and groceries in Levelland, Whiteface, Sundown, and Morton. I kept this job for several years. This was just one of the various ways I made money. If someone had a job that paid money I would take it.

In the ninth grade I had amassed enough money to buy my first car. My brother-in-law, Roy E. Buckner, took me to Snodgrass and Manors Used Auto to look at cars. After looking around we found a 1940 blue Chevrolet for $100. Roy test drove it, since I could not drive. This was also proof that kids were second class citizens; I could pay cash for a car but could not get my name on the title. Roy E. Buckner had to sign the papers for me. Roy gave them a hard time, but it did not help. For a 14 year old kid to get drivers licenses, it was necessary to go to court for a hardship waiver. The court order was easy compared to the test for the license. After failing the test three times they finally awarded me with the magic piece of paper that told everyone that I could drive a car on the streets of Lubbock without fear of retribution. I had been driving, but now it was legal. The ability to drive opened up an opportunity to earn more money. Getting a paper route that could be delivered from a car increased my ability to sell more papers.



After owning the Chevy for a year I had all I could stand with the vacuum shift that GM had in those days. It was very difficult to shift gears, especially if you wanted to do it fast as in a drag race. I then bought me a 1947 Ford. With a little work it was a cool car, at least I thought so. I made a hole in the ledge below the back window so that you could reach down into the trunk and get a beer. Lubbock was a dry county but the local bootleggers were happy to supply you with all the booze you wanted as long as you had the money. You could also drive about a 100 miles to Amarillo. I have always told all the “drys” that it was much easier to get beer in a dry town than it was in a town that required ID proving that you were 21 years old. We would ice down a tub of beer in the trunk and take off for the HiDHo. Since you could get the beer without getting out of the car you could circle the drive in all night. The drive in was a hamburger joint where all the kid went to socialize. There were parking all around, but most people would just circle around trying to pick up girls or boys, which ever was the case. While in boot camp I had to spend the night in sick bay where I met a Navy Corpsman from Littlefield, a town about 20 miles from Lubbock. After talking for a while it suddenly dawned on him that he had been in my car; small world.

On occasions I would go to Amarillo, where my brother was working as a barber, and pick up a load of booze. Since I was a minor, he had to buy everything. The first time he almost went ballistic when he saw how much I wanted to buy. His concerns were that the owner of the liquor store would alert the Liquor Control cop and they would trace the transaction back to him. Finally he agreed to do it and we loaded up and went back to Lubbock. Because of the concerns that George had expressed, going back was rather nerve racking. I became paranoid that every car was a cop. We finally breathed a sigh of relief after I got everything unloaded in the garage. Mother never like me using her garage to store the devils drink. Subsequent trip were not so bad. Things like high school proms were good places to get rid of the booze. Many of the better quality kids wanted a drink, but did not know any of the many bootlegger joint in town or were afraid to frequent them. They had no problem buying from a fellow student.



While in high school I had a full day with work and school. As a sophomore I would usually work from 4 am to 6 am. That gave me time to stop off for a cup of coffee before driving mother across town to work by 7 am. This usually gave me plenty of time to drop her and go to school. I got out of school at 1 pm and worked from 3 pm until 6 pm. Twice a month I had to go out at night to collect money from my customers. It would take about three to four days to collect the bulk of the money. On the weekends I would work in the morning in the distribution department inserting the various sections of the newspaper. The press in those days could only print a 30 page edition which required any additional pages to be manually inserted. The color funny papers also had to be inserted. Since they were purchased from a company in Dallas, several of us would have to go to the train station and haul the funnies to the news paper office. A normal Saturday would start around noon and finish at around 5 pm. The front sections of the paper were published at around 2 am. Sunday and was over at about 7 am. That meant that I didn't have anything to do until the paper was published Monday morning. Things got better when I took Distribution Education in school. This was a program where you went to school until noon and worked in the afternoon. It was good for me since I did not have to go to work until around 3 pm. I don't seem to have many good or bad memories of being in high school, probably because I did not like it. In school I was not a very gifted student. Teachers were always telling me how stupid I was.  I think that somewhere along the road I gave up trying to learn anything that was being put out for me to regurgitate. As a result I never tried to learn. I decided to not try because everyone said I could not cut  it. The thing that amazes me is how easy it was to learn engineering in college. What was the difference between high school and college? I think back and realize that if I had been exposed to more teachers like Jeannell Wilhite, what would be the difference. Granted this is the theory of alternate realities. Of the many teachers that I crossed paths with, only one stands out because she tried to make me into something even though I was not a willing receipantant.

Because of my work schedule I never got involved in the extra curricular activities, like sports. I remember that I would leave at noon and put my books in back of my car, which was usually where they were the next day. I was always at school early and parked my car in a certain place. People would stop by to talk and smoke. One day Janie Thomasson insisted that we all go out to Buffalo Lakes instead of school. After awhile I was backing out and heading to the lake. The next day we were all kicked out of school. How they found out, we never knew. Janie was a friend since we were in the 7th grade. We went to Galveston, Texas in 1952 where I became her “brother”. For some reason I chose to protect her from an ass hole that wanted to get into her pants. I might have got to love her if she had not been such a close friend. We would make out every now and then, but nothing got serious. I kept up with her until I got back from Asia in 1956. A Choctaw Indian from Oklahoma and I sober up enough to get off a bus in Amarillo where I tried to look her up, but she had moved. I heard that she married a roughneck.



A few of us in science class would discuss the feasibility of dropping a fire cracker down the stair well from the third floor to the first. This meant the firecracker would detonate in front of the principal's office. A cute little girl, name escapes me, brought a fire cracker to school for the sole purpose of accomplishing this end. She chickened out at the last minute and gave it to me. How the hell the principal knew it was me is still a mystery. Again I was out of school.


See Additional Pictures of the Patterson Family

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