AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND MEMOIRS OF DOYLE BOWMAN 1925 -
Written by Doyle Bowman
1986 through 1996
(Submitted by Steve Potter)
Had my grandfathers left written, personal accounts of their lives and up bringing, they would probably have explained many of the things I have wondered about concerning my “roots”.
As a young person, I had very little, if any thoughts about where I came from. However, as I grow older, my thoughts turn more and more to the days of my childhood and it’s many memories.
It is my desire in writing these memoirs that my grandchildren and even great-grandchildren remember me and will know more about me and the kind of life I lived. I expect also, that others my age and older who chance to read this may sense some nostalgia because, as the old saying goes, “They have been there”.
I have never taken the occasion to write down the many memories that are instilled in my mind. Many of them have become hazy and not all clear, some are happy, while some are sad, but perhaps as I write, they will become more clear to me. The fact remains that if I do not record them soon, they will forever be lost.
I hope that some day, they will read this and know that I loved them and perhaps receive a chuckle or two from some of the experiences recorded of my life in this writing.
This paper is lovingly dedicated to and written for my five grandchildren, Randy, Tami, Tony, Angela and Hilton Floyd Bowman. It is my hope and prayer that they place their lives in God’s hands and trust Him to lead them into the finer things of life.
“Did you ever go sailing down the river of memories, to a little log cabin that nestled in among the sycamore trees, where the sunshine is cheery and nothing in the world goes dreary, that’s my cabin at the end of, my river of memories”.
So goes the lyrics of a song written by Albert E. Brumley that describes, so well, a state of mind I am experiencing as I begin this writing.
Please come with me as I set sail.
I WAS BORN
July 14, 1925, the son of Siegle A. and Pearl Potter Bowman. I never knew just how they came up with the name, but they named me Doyle Irvin. As I grew older, I came to dislike my middle initial and I changed it to Ervin. (Wasn’t much better was it?) All my official signatures, however, show this spelling.
I was the sixth in line of seven children born to my parents.
Their names were as follows: Tressie and Clyde (who died in infancy),
Floyd, Mildred, Loyd and Barbara Ann. After my mother’s death in
1943, my dad married Ruby Smith and they had one son, namely Andy, making
me a total of seven brothers and sisters. At the time of this writing,
five of us remain living. Loyd had cancer and died in 1967.
My dad also is dead, having passed away in 1960 with a heart attack.
They, as well as many of my relatives, are buried in the Arnhart Cemetery,
east of Purdy, Missouri. Tressie and Clyde are buried in the old
Carney Cemetery, northwest of Cape Fair, Missouri. My Grandpa and
Grandma Potter and his parents are also interred there.
THE OLD HOME PLACE
At the time of my birth and for some time after, my parents lived on a forty acre farm. It was located one-half mile south of the East Purdy Store and east down a hollow about one mile to the old Charley Bennett place, then south one-quarter of a mile on top of the hill. There are only faint reminders of the old house where I was born. The old well, from which I carried many a bucket of water still partially remains. Just recently, my two grand-daughters, Angie and Tami and I, visited the old home site and I showed them the old well. I believe they will remember where it is located.
I recall very well how the old house looked. It had
four rooms, consisting of a living room, kitchen and two small bedrooms.
The bedrooms, at least, were papered with newspapers. Many times
when I had company and as we lay there on the bed before going to sleep,
we would play a guessing game. One would find a picture or headline
on the ceiling and the other would try to find it. I remember lying
there also listening to the whippoorwills calling. I recall having
the measles and watching through my window, some of my friends on their
way to an Easter party. I was very disappointed that I could not
go with them. The old house didn’t have any modern conveniences (we
didn’t know that term then.) We had to go outside (rain or shine)
to the outside toilet.
THE LITTLE HOUSE OUTBACK
Many people today can relate to the “Little House Out Back”. The “Little House Out Back”, is not only a part of our heritage, but was a vital part of the working household of its era. Memories of the “Necessary House” have evoked not only laughter and humorous tales, but feelings of affection for a place used sometimes as a meeting place, but always as a place that brings back special memories of family, friends and home.
Generally speaking, they were approximately six by seven feet and eight ht feet to the roof. They were placed over a deep pit. Over the pit was the house and inside was a seat that usually extended the width of the outhouse. There would be one to three holes cut to fit the different “sizes”. There always seemed to be plenty of ventilation, especially in the winter time. Sometimes, you would have to brush the snow off the seat before you sat down. By that time, you were about out of the notion to do anything. In the summer time, you would sit in there and when you really got down to business, the sweat would run down your face like crazy.
Leading to the outhouse was a well worn path that was traveled out by the runner with far greater speed than his or her return to the house.
I don’t dare mention the outhouse without saying something about the reading materials placed there. No Sears or Montgomery Wards catalogues were ever thrown away. They were saved to be placed in the little house by the holes.
Oh yes, there was the proverbial crescent shaped holes cut in either the door or sides of the house. I never knew whether that was for ventilation, looks or simply a symbol to identify it as a place of rest.
I recently found a poem written by Beatrice Drummond, entitled
“The Little House Out Back”. I would like to share it with you.
The author must have experienced the era or she couldn’t have written about
it so well.
THE LITTLE HOUSE OUT BACK
|I often find myself in thoughts
Of things of “Yesterday,”
And many of the things back then
Have since then, passed away!
I think about one spot so dear
Tho’ just a one room shack
It was a place, where we all went
‘Twas the “Little House.....Out Back”!
Sometimes, the trail there, seemed so long
I thought ‘twould never end!
But it was one spot, I went alone
I didn’t need a friend!
It had “central air-conditioning”
The electric bill was free,
It had a “half moon” on the door
Giving light enough to see.
I sat and read there, many times
It was such a quite place,
And other times, I looked outside
My mind was off in space!
We always kept there, special books
“Sears and Roebuck”, the main one,
And every page was put to use
‘Til the whole thing, it was gone!
Sometimes, I had a dreadful fear
And I couldn’t seem to shake it,
I was afraid sometime, that trail I’d take
And find I couldn’t make it!
For when the urge “to go”, it came,
You had no time to tarry,
You hoped the door would not get stuck,
And be so blamed contrary!
Even when the snow was on the ground
You’d see our daily track,
For we couldn’t seem to stay away
From “The Little House.....Out Back”
THE OLD WELL IN THE HOLLOW
As I related earlier, we carried our water in buckets up a steep hill to the house. The well had a bucket fastened to a rope and was lowered into the well and drawn up full of water. The rope ran over a pulley (wheel) fastened to the top of the well house, making it easier to draw water from the well. Sometimes the pond would go dry and we would have to water the cows from the well. I would get so mad at the old cows when they drank so much water. On wash days, I also had to carry water to the house. We didn’t have refrigerators then, so in order to keep things cold, we lowered our milk and butter down the well in the water bucket. We would keep them there all day and just before supper, we would go get them. I can remember how good it tasted. We ate a lot of cornbread and milk, and I still do.
Occasionally, small animals or salamanders would die and contaminate
the water. Until the water became fit to drink, we carried
water from a spring about a quarter of a mile away. The spring, located
up the hollow west of Frank and Dorothy Fare’s, no longer runs and the
last time I was there, I couldn’t even find where it was. Many of
the small streams that ran strong when I was a child, have completely dried
MEMORIES OF GRANDPA, GRANDMA AND UNCLE PERRY
My first memory was of Grandma Bowman. I was five years old. I can see her to this day, working in her kitchen. Her shoulders were stooped and her steps were faltering. Her home consisted of two rooms, I believe. Not long after that, she passed away (1930). I can recall so vividly, seeing the funeral car coming up the hollow, west of Frank and Mildred Bennett’s home. They presently own the old home place. Not long after grandma passed away, the old house burned down. I can remember seeing the remains of the fire.
My Uncle Perry, who never married, lived with my grandparents and after the fire, he and grandpa built a new house. I thought it was a mansion, even though it had only one big room. Our house was about half a mile west of grandpa’s and I have fond memories of walking down the ridge to his house. He always kept a bag of peppermint candy. Maybe that’s why I liked to go there so well. I spent many nights there. I’ll never forget Uncle Perry’s biscuits and gravy. He was a good cook. Grandpa died in 1935, when I was ten years old, and Uncle Perry lived by himself most of the time, until his death in 1970. He was an unusual man. He could work math problems in his head before I could find a pencil. He loved children and any kid that got to know him, learned to love him also. My own two sons, Larry and Danny and my brother Andy, recall fondly seeing him coming to visit, walking across the field. He nearly always had something in his pocket for each of them.
One such visit really paid off for my parents. I was fixing
to start a fire near a crawl hole in the foundation of the Bennett house
in the hollow. I can picture myself as if it were yesterday.
I don’t recall having set it a fire yet, when Uncle Perry came off the
hill behind me. If he hadn’t come along at that very minute, I’m sure I
would have burned our house down.
DADS FIRST CAR (I THINK)
In those days, there weren’t a lot of cars. If we went anywhere,
we either walked or rode in the wagon. I walked about a mile to school
and church at Arnhart. I remember very faintly, the first car dad
ever had. I don’t remember riding it it or anything like that, but I do
remember him selling it. I believe that whoever he sold it to, failed
to ever pay him. It was a Model “T” Ford, with a high windshield
and no top as I recall. It seems that there was a cow involved in
the trade somehow. Anyway, dad never owned another car for a long
time after that.
I remember the first radio I ever saw. Frank Bennett, my
brother-in-law, had a crystal set I believe he made. It was a very
simple set with two earphones and of course only two people could listen
to it at a time. I remember Dad, Mom and I walking down through the
woods at night, to listen to the radio. Dad, or maybe it was Grandma
Potter, bought a new modern radio. I believe it must have been the
first real radio in the community. Neighbors came to our house, about
every night, to listen to programs such as “Lum and Abner”, “Amos and Andy”,
“Fiber McGee and Molly” and many others.
VISITS TO MILDREDS HOUSE
I have fond memories of visiting my sister Mildred. I remember always running ahead of Mom and Dad, getting there first. Frank gave me a pet pig one time. I don’t remember how long I kept it, but I do remember it having died. I gave it burial rites somewhere between our houses. I recall after Dorothy (their daughter) was born, their doctor recommended they feed her goats milk. They bought a milk goat and about everywhere they went, they took that old goat along. Frank had a little Model “A” pickup, and that old nanny goat rode in the back of the truck. I can remember them milking her to feed Dorothy.
Frank and Mildred bought me a tricycle one time. I remember
how thrilled I was. I can also remember riding it off the front porch.
Later, Loyd made it into a bicycle. I don’t remember ever having
learned to ride it. I guess that was the only tricycle (bicycle)
I ever had.
THAT OLD YELLOW CAT
We used to have an old yellow tom cat. There was a large
tree that stood next to the corner of the garage. It had a limb that
extended out toward the roof of the garage. One day, old Tom climbed
the tree and I followed him. He carefully walked out on the limb and jumped
over onto the roof of the garage. By this time, after observing him
well, I had decided I could go anywhere he went. I proceeded to follow
him and in my attempt to jump onto the garage roof, I fell to the ground.
It was a longer jump than I had anticipated. I remember Mama running
out to where I had fallen. Blood was running out my nose, in my mouth
and I had dirt all over my face. I was crying and screaming at the
top of my lungs. I thought sure I was killed. Mama soon soothed
my fears, washed my face and miraculously, I healed. I had however,
learned the lesson that you could not always go where a cat goes.
This is the same cat Dad hauled off one time. He took him almost
to Jenkins and dumped him. The next morning, I believe I had gone
after the cows and met old Tom coming home. One thing that puzzled
me, was the fact, we took him east and he came back from the west.
To say the least, Tom had a good home the rest of his natural life.
THE BIG SHOCK AND MY BROTHER FLOYD
Floyd was my oldest brother and he too was married and had a large family. Times were very hard then and the call “Go West Young Man” beckoned him. I remember when he left for Idaho. He had bought or traded for an old Studebaker car. It had disc wheels, as I recall and the tires were probably half worn out. Anyway, he made the trip safely and on his arrival, it was said that he had only a few coins left in his pocket. He has made Idaho his home, except for a time spent in New Mexico, and presently resides in Gooding, Idaho. I remember with great pleasure their coming home on several occasions and the good time we had. I can recall only two places where Floyd lived here. One, only faintly, the other was called the old Goodnight place, I believe. This was east and south of the old Meadow Brook store, on Gunter Creek. (Incidentally, I remember Frank and Mildred having run that store for a time).
I remember Floyd having had an old silver Model T Ford.
He and Loyd wired it up one day, so it would shock anyone who touched it.
As they were sitting in the truck, they called me to come over to where
they were. I ran there and jumped on the running board. You
guessed it, I received the shock of my life. They thought it was
real funny, but I didn’t think so.
CORN COB FIGHTS
Loyd would make me so mad. I can remember throwing rocks at him and he would laugh at me even more. Our old barn in the hollow had a log loft and the older boys, (I mean ten years older than me) would have corn cob fights. Some of them would get up in the loft and the rest would be outside. The end of the loft was open, making targets of those in the loft when they showed themselves to those outside. O remember being in the loft with cobs flying through the air. I suppose if you’ve never been hit up beside the head with a wet cob, you’ve missed something. It’s a thousand wonders, they didn’t kill me. I doubt that Mama knew I was playing with them.
`I remember standing around watching Loyd getting ready
for a date. He never was very good at tying a tie. He would
use a chair post or something to make the knot, then he would put it around
his neck and draw it up tight. I know I must have irked him
to the ninth degree. We always slept together.
In addition to chores alluded to elsewhere in this paper, my night
and evening chores consisted of carrying in wood. I also had to split
wood for the cookstove. I’ll never forget how particular Dad was
with his chopping axe. If I put the slightist little nick in it,
he would find it. I also had to help milk and feed. It was
my job to go get the cows. We had an old yellow cow, that would let
me ride her. She was always the “cows tail”, (last in the line) and
would get on her back and ride to the barn. It used to make me so
mad, to walk to the back of the place after the horses, drive them to the
barn, only to have them turn around and run back to the field. (I
couldn’t catch them).
WHEN HORSES WERE IMPORTANT
Speaking of horses, reminds me of the several faithful ones I knew while growing up. Men felt a great sense of pride in a good team of horses or mules. Most people treated them with great respect. They were actually the center or hub of existence in the community.
The first horse I remember Dad ever having, was old Ribbon. I remember the name only. I remember a small black mare we called Trixie. Many times as Dad went back to the field after lunch, I would ride old Trix to work. One such day as I was riding her, she waded into the middle of the pond and laid down, me, harness and all. Fortunately, the pond was shallow and I waded out. I can’t recall ever having done that again. This reminds me so much of my Dad. He always took a nap after he finished eating lunch. He would get a straight back chair, turn it upside down, lay a cushion over it and lie down. He didn’t sleep long. It was never long enough for me, because I knew as soon as he awoke, we would head back to the field. Now back to the horses.
Loyd had an old mare we called Maude. She was a good little work horse, but she didn’t like to be ridden. Every time Loyd got a chance, he would let someone to ride her. Now the reason he’d do that, was to have a little fun. Everytime someone tried to ride her, she would buck.
I remember one time, Loyd, George Bennett and I were plowing corn. When noontime came and we went to dinner, we each got on our horse to ride to the barn. Loyd suggested that George ride “Ol Maude”, knowing exactly what would happen. Needless to say, George had a rough ride. I think she bucked all the way to the barn. Incidentally, she never bucked real hard.
Then there was old Frank. I’ll never forget him. He would make me so mad, especially when I plowed corn with him. He always wanted to go in a run. I remember one time, I thought to myself, I’m just going to give him the rein and see what he will do. We were plowing up and down the hillside and we were going down the hill. The corn, as I recall, was about knee high and wasn’t fastened down permanently to the ground, as was evidenced by our journey down that hill. I held him back after that. He would nearly break my back where the lines went around my waist. I don’t think Dad was very pleased with me. We never rode him much. I remember him rearing up with Dad and falling over backwards.
Dad never owned mules, at least in my lifetime. One of the best horses I believe he ever owned, was a good sized sorrel mare, named Blaze. I believe she had a flax mane and tail and had a white strip down her face. Dad raised a colt from her. He was a sorrel also, with a white face. We called him Baldie. I recall playing with him one day and he reared up and struck me in the chest with his front feet and knocked me down. Later, when he became old enough, Dad and Loyd broke him to work. They worked him besides his mother. They made a pretty team. I never knew what happened to them. They may have been traded for Dan and Jerry. It was Blaze and Baldie, I believe, that ran away with Loyd one time. I don’t think they ran far nor did much damage.
Dad bought a western Bronco one time. He had burrs in his mane and tail and his ribs stuck out like a sore thumb. Dad always kept his horses in good shape and I always wondered why he bought this horse. We called him Tom and he did eventually fatten up and made a pretty good work horse.
The last team Dad owned, was a team of blacks, he called Dan and Jerry. They were the pride of his life, I think.
I never personally owned but one horse in my life. I can’t recall how I got him, but I did get him from Loyd. He was just a colt and we kept him quite a while. But as he grew older, he began chasing cattle. I remember him knocking a cow down one day. It made me mad and I chased him in my old pickup. I chased him all over the place and finally ran into a big stump. Enough said, chase ended. Not long afterwards, we sold him.
In the early fifties, I believe, tractors began taking the place
of horses in the community. I recall our first tractor and an incident
that occurred one day. It was an “H” John Deere. My wife,
Louise and I were plowing the garden and she was driving and pulling the
plow. The tractor had a tricycle front end, that is, it had two wheels
in the front that were side by side. As she came to the end of the
row, she failed to turn in time and rode straight up a fence post. I’ve
never got her on a tractor since.
I was never an avid hunter. I do, however, recall going possum hunting. The moonlight nights would be cool and frosty. We would walk for miles, perhaps never see a possum, but more often, the dogs would run into a skunk, then we had it. We would be out, for the most part, the entire night.
The most of my memories, are centered around rabbit hunting. I did not do it, however, just for the sport, but as a means of making a little spending money.
We made rabbit traps in which we caught them. The traps or boxes, were made of wood, with one end closed up and the other end had a trap door. A lot of the time, we used short lengths of hollow tree limbs. These trap doors were so arranged that, when the rabbit entered the trap, they would trip a devise and the door would come down, trapping the rabbit inside.
We would place corn or some other kind of bait inside the trap, to lure them inside. I never liked having to kill the rabbit. I always looked inside first to see what I had caught, because other animals were sometimes trapped. I didn’t want to stick my hand inside the trap and get bitten. I always carried a club to kill the rabbits. I ran my traps every morning. On my return to the house, I always had to gut and hang them up on the end of the smoke house. Understand now, This was done only in cold weather, otherwise, they would have ruined. Every week I would take my rabbits to the store and sell them. I believe we received ten or fifteen cents a piece for them. I kid you not, that was a lot of money in those days.
I had a little black dog (Ol’ Tootsie) that was the best rabbit dog I ever saw. She would find a rabbit and chase it until she caught it. (This occurred when the ground was covered with snow) All I had to do was track her to a small tramped down area in the snow, and there in the center was Tootsie and the rabbit she had killed.
I am finding it difficult, even impossible, to keep events in
any chronological order. I wrote earlier, alluding to our family
farm. It consisted of forty, hilly, rocky covered acres. Dad later
purchased another forty acres from Estel Eden. It was a continual
battle keeping the sprouts (young trees) from taking over the land.
It seems that I spent most of my young life, cutting sprouts and hoeing
strawberries. However, that land did grow good strawberries and tomatoes.
THE STRAWBERRY ERA
Dad grew strawberries and tomatoes as money crops. Corn and various other crops as livestock feed. We always had a few milk cows, hogs and chickens and a team of horses. From these sources he eked out a living for his family.
I grew up in a strawberry field. Everyone in the family worked. I started out as a baby lying on a quilt in the back of a strawberry shed, as mother worked culling strawberries. As I grew older, I became heir to many chores related to berry picking time. Other than picking berries, I recall having had to go to the house early to prepare lunch. My specialty then, was molasses cake. I don’t suppose it was much of a meal, but it must have satisfied my parents.
Many chores I did not like, but they were out weighed by others, such as getting to drive the car home from the field, getting to go with Dad to town, to deliver the days picking of strawberries and many others.
I remember berry picking time as a very special occasion. Migrant workers came to this area by the hundreds. Most of them lived in tents and camped together in the same camp ground. We would have several families picking for us. Some of them came several years in succession and we always felt relatively sure that when the season rolled around, they would be here.
The strawberry pickers were paid by the quart. The earliest amount paid, as I recall, was a cent-and-one-half. I believe later, pickers received a nickle and I don’t remember if they ever received more than this or not. Most pickers used a six quart carrier (I have seen eight quart carriers) and when they were full, they took them to the berry shed. They were given tickets instead of money. There were one, two, four, six and one crate (24 quart) tickets. These were all different colors. I remember a lot of the women and children especially, kept their tickets in tobacco sacks, with drawstrings, around their necks. You see, they didn’t want to lose them. At the end of the berry season when the growers received their money, the pickers were paid accordingly by the number of tickets they possessed.
These workers seemed always to enjoy themselves. Occasionally however, Dad would have to fire one. I remember on one occasion, two men became at odds with one another and one threatened to kill the other. I don’t recall just how Dad resolved the problem, but he sent one of them on his way. I do recall that several years later, that same man came back and picked berries for Dad for two or three additional years.
As the days picking came to an end, Dad would load the crates of berries into the old car and haul them off to town. (Purdy) They were loaded onto railroad cars and shipped all over the country.
At the close of the season, there was always a celebration, with
home-made ice cream, etc. After that, the pickers would take down
their tents , load their belongings, (probably all they had) on their old
cars or trucks, and off they would go. I always wondered where they
THE TOMATO SEASON
The tomato season was not quite as exciting as berry picking time, but I have a lot of memories centered around it. Dad would plant seed beds early in the spring and when the plants became large enough, we would transplant them. In the field, Dad would mark off rows one way with a plow pulled by a horse. Once he had the rows marked off this direction, he turned around and marked off rows the other way. Where each of these rows intersected, we then set a tomato plant. The plants were cultivated until they became too large to plow between the rows.
Migrant workers did not come into the country as they did with strawberries. Dad never grew more than we could pick by ourselves. Sometimes, neighbors would help us.
When the tomatoes began ripening and at the first picking, Dad would make a path through the center, dividing the patch in two parts. I remember, we would pick one side one day, and the other side the next day. Tomato crates were scattered down the side of the road and as each row was picked, they were put in the crates. I can remember so well, the long row of filled tomato crates shining red down the path.
Dad hauled the tomatoes to the canning factory on the wagon. Special springs w ere put on the wagon so as not to crush or bruise the tomatoes any more than possible. Side boards were put on the wagon, so crates could be loaded. I remember one time, as Dad was coming out of the tomato patch with a load of tomatoes, one of the horses (I believe it was old Tom) balked or refused to pull his part of the weight. Dad slapped him with the lines and yelled at him until he finally started to pull. This was not an uncommon thing for horses to do. Occasionally, a team would run away too.
In those days, there was a canning factory in about every community. Dad always took our tomatoes to a factory located at the Rosco Daugherty place, just a mile or two from home. The factory was operated by water obtained from a spring that ran by the building. A lot of water was needed to clean, cook and operate the big steam boiler. All the machinery was run by steam power. I can just hear, in my imagination, the shrill steam whistle as it blew at the beginning of the work day, at noon and at the end of the day. I can also imagine hearing the escaping steam from the boiler and steam engine and the many other exciting noises.
Many people, most of them women, were employed. Women worked
peeling tomatoes around a huge oval table. A conveyer ran around
the length of the table that carried buckets of tomatoes that had been
scalded for peeling. The conveyer also carried off peelings.
Now, the peeled tomatoes were ready for canning. A group of women
working as packers, packed the tomatoes into tin cans. The packed
cans then went through the capper, where they were capped and sealed.
After the cans were capped, they were placed in a large steel basket and
lowered into a vat of boiling water, where they were allowed to cook.
Later, they were labeled, boxed and shipped all over the country
Another source of income for members in the community, was work at Gardners Orchards, south of Monett. They had several acres of apples, that ran beside highway 37. They hired many people, men and women alike, who picked and prepared the apples for market. Someone in the neighborhood owned a truck, and workers rode to work with them. I remember my brother Loyd, having worked there for several years. When I grew older, I worked there also. I suppose that was the first paying job I ever had.
During the early years of World War II, several men from the area were employed building Camp Crowder at Neosho. I remember staying with Garland and Bertha Dinkins one summer and did their chores while he worked at Crowder. During my senior year in high school and shortly before going into the service, I worked for a farmer on Kings Prairie, southeast of Monett.
Some of the young men went to Kansas each fall and worked in the
wheat harvest. This was seasonal work, but did bring a good deal
of money into the community. The economy of the entire country at
that time, was based on raising strawberries and tomatoes.
Another pleasant memory is that of playing around the sorghum mill. Dad generally grew an acre or two of sorghum cane. The cane grew tall and when it was ready for harvest, it was topped and stripped of its leaves. It was then cut and loaded on the wagon. Our next door neighbor, Delmar Myers, had a sorghum mill and made molasses. It was here that` Dad took his sorghum cane.
I might explain, as best I can, the process of making molasses.
Small bunches of cane stalks were run between two large steel rollers that
extracted the juice from the stalks. The press was operated by a
horse pulling a long wooden beam around and around. This beam, then
turned the rollers. The juice was placed in a large shallow pan that
was placed over a fire and cooked until it became thick and ready to be
put into gallon buckets. Being able to know just when the liquid
was ready to take off the fire, etc., was a talent not everyone had.
The enjoyable part of the process for us kids, was getting to lick the
pan. or as we called it, sopping the pan. The waste, we called pummy,
was piled into a big pile. It was call the “pummy pile”, and that
is where we had the most fun. This then, would explain why I spent
so many hours playing with my friends there.
HOG BUTCHERING DAY
Hog butchering day was an exciting and a very busy day. It started early in the morning. After all preparations had been made, the men would shoot a hog and the process would begin. I almost always hid when they killed the hog, however I could hear the gun blast and felt sorry for the hog. I am still chicken hearted to this day.
Neighbors and relatives always traded work. They would help us, then we would go to their place another day and help them in return. I remember going to Uncle Harmon Potters to help them butcher.
Butchering day was always a cold day. It had to be done in cold weather, because we didn’t have refrigerators or deep freezers to preserve the meat.
As I have already mentioned, the men started early by building a hugh fire under a large barrel. When the water became scalding hot, the hog was lowered into the barrel. This loosened the hair roots of the hog and made it possible to scrape off all the hair. After scraping the hog, it was strung up to a tree or something with its head down. The head was cut off first and its stomach slit open from tail to head. A tub was placed under the carcass to catch the insides. About all of the hog was used, except the “oink”. This was a pretty gross operation and when I was real young, I would view it with my hands over my eyes, peeking between my fingers.
The hogs were then cut up into hams, shoulders, sides, and salted to flavor and preserve them. The pieces were hung in the smoke house. Sometimes, Dad would build a fire (I believe he used hickory wood) in the smoke house to smoke the meat. This made it taste really good. I remember how good the fresh meat tasted. Either my taste buds have changed, or I’ve forgotten. Whatever the case, meat today just doesn’t taste like it did then.
Butchering day was still not over. Days after butchering,
there was lard to render and lye soap to be made. Both were made
in a large cast iron kettle that was placed over an open fire. It
was always my job to keep the fire going and stir, constantly, the contents
of the kettle.
One of the unpleasant chores I recall was wash day, in fact I hated it. My poor mother had to wash the hard way. She had no automatic washer or dryer. She used a big wash tub and a scrub board. Again, it was my job to gather wood to heat the water in the old black kettle. (I believe my sister Mildred has that old kettle)
We didn’t have soap detergents and the like as we have now. Mom made home made lye soap and used this to do her laundry. She scrubbed the dirty clothes on the wash board. Then she put them in a kettle of boiling water, which had soap in it. I had to stir and poke them with a paddle until they were clean. After that, she would take them out of the kettle and rinse them out in the tub of clear water. As I said a while ago, she didn’t have a washer that spun the water out of the clothes. She had to wring them out by hand. I remember helping her wring out large articles. She would take one end of the article and I would hold the other end and we would twist it until we got most of the water out. Many times I had to hang the clothes on the clothes line to dry.
I remember when we got a washing machine, of sort. It had no motor on it and likewise, had to be operated manually. It was a great improvement over the wash board and saved my mother a lot of work. I’ll try to explain it. It was a round bottomed tub with four legs. It had a dasher that extended from one end of the tub to the other. A vertical arm or lever was attached to the dasher. By operating the lever back and forth, the clothes were turned and tossed about, similar to washing machines today. I believe they called it the “minute washer”.
As I look back at my mother, I can’t help thinking and realizing
that this ancient appliance, so to speak, was about the nearest she ever
came to modernization. You see, she died, never knowing the conveniences
of electricity, refrigerators, TV’s, dishwashers and most of the other
things we take for granted today.
WAY OF LIFE IN OUR COMMUNITY
Our way of life was no different than our neighbors. We were all in about the same boat. (An old saying of mine) There were families living on every forty acres around us. It was a close neighborhood. We always helped one another when the need arose. I remember, as an example, going to neighbors houses, and they to ours, to borrow a cup of sugar, flour or whatever. It was always returned, plus a little more. A handshake was all that was needed to finalize an agreement.
It probably won’t mean anything to you, but I’d like to mention the names of some of the families that I recall from my childhood. They are names that I shall always remember. They are as follows: Floyd Hemphill; Delmer Meyers; Estel Eden; Ernest Shepherd; Newt Smith; Loyd Clayton; Willis Bowen; Floyd Frazer; Ward Swearingin; Finus Shepherd; Roscoe Daugherty; Horace Smith; Horace Terry; Alf Madison; Perry Roller; Henry Roller; Charley Bennett; Dan Childress and Minor Daughtery. Believe it or not, these families lived, at one time, within a radius of not more than three and a half miles from our home.
it was a real treat for me to get to go to town. Dad would work hard all week, even until noon on Saturdays. That afternoon, we almost always went to town. The folks would take their cream and eggs collected throughout the week, and sell them. Occasionally, they would sell a few old hens. With the money they received from them, they would buy necessities such as sugar, salt, coffee, flour and things like that.
The fact is, families grew or raised most of their food.
They didn’t have to buy many things. Even in the thirties, during
the great depression, country people faired better, I suppose, than city
people. After all, I guess you could say, we were always poor and
knew how to deal with it. I have thought of those days often and
realized that my parents must have gone through some troubled times, but
I never realized it. We always had food on the table and something
to wear. Our clothes may have had patches on them, but we didn’t
mind, after all, everybody else had patches too. It was a great thrill
to get a new pair of shoes.
MEMORY RELATED TO ODORS
This brings to memory, not only the object, but the odors associated
with many things. I can recall the pleasant aroma of a new pair of
shoes. The scent that came from the “Raleigh Man’s” case as he opened
it to show his goods of spices and medicines. Sometime he would give
me a stick of gum. By the way, that is about how the case of goodies
smelled. Sometimes, Mama would order things from Sears or Montgomery
Wards catalogs. When the package arrived and it was opened, what
a wonderful odor it had. The thing that stands out most in my memory
of these mail orders, was the time Mama ordered me a sailor suit.
I can remember the day it arrived. I thought I was on cloud nine.
We used to order automobile tires, too. When the wrapping was taken
off, the smell of new rubber was a pleasant odor. I recall the odor
associated with buggies. I suppose it was a combination of leather
and horse manure, but it was a pleasant odor to me. It was such a
thrill to ride in a buggy. I guess you could say, it was an exciting
odor. It is odd how you can associate odors with memory.
THE OLD CREAM SEPARATOR
Another chore I didn’t like very well, was turning the old cream separator handle. This machine, as its name indicates, separated the cream from the whole milk. I still don’t completely understand just how it worked, but to make a long story short, the whole milk was poured into a large bowl at the top and after turning the crank a short time, the cream came out one spout and the whey out the other. My mother used the cream to make butter and cook with, the remainder we sold. The whey was mixed with bran and fed to the hogs. There was very little waste in those days.
Speaking of butter, I remember turning the old Daisy churn crank
handle too. I still have that old churn. The cogs on
the gears are worn, the dasher or paddles are wobbly, and the glass
container is cracked in one place, but despite all that however, it would
still work. I would sure like to have some of that good old butter
and molasses spread on a hot biscuit. I’ve churned butter in glass
jars also. You had to shake it until the butter clung together in
a mass. A lot of people liked to drink buttermilk, but I never liked
it too well.
PURDY IN ITS HEYDAY
Purdy was a busy little town, especially on Saturday. Many times
it was difficult to find a place to park. There were all kinds of businesses
there. All the buildings there, plus several others long since burned
or torn down, were occupied. The Purdy merchants had a drawing or
promotional activity on Saturday afternoons. Whereby, prizes (money or
merchandise) were given away to lucky winners. A large crowd would
gather around the person conducting the drawing. Someone from the
audience would draw a name from a container. If your name was drawn,
you would get the prize. I remember winning a dollar bill one time.
I recall faintly, the drawing being held on and around the old World War
I army truck, that set in the parking space next to where the present post
office is located.
THE CASSVILLE REUNION
When I think of new shoes, I associate them with the old Cassville reunion. This was an event that everyone looked forward to. It seems that I nearly always got a new pair of shoes at this time. I suppose we had to look our best. Anyway, I would wear them to the reunion and walk up and down the carnival grounds all day long. You don’t know what hurt feet are, until you have done this. I would go to bed with the leg ache that wouldn’t quit.
The reunion was an annual event. It consisted of a carnival with rides, side shows, hamburger stands and all the things that go with it. It was located in a wooded area on the banks of Flat Creek, in Cassville, Missouri. People came early in the morning and stayed until late at night. Many of them came in wagons and camped out the entire time. I remember seeing covered wagons, tents and horses tied by the wagons. My folks would leave as soon as we got our morning chores done and stay all day. Most of the time, we would come home and do our evening chores and go back and stay until late that night. You probably will never understand, but what a thrill that was for me.
I can recall the excitement I felt when we arrived in Cassville, and started down the hill toward the reunion grounds. About the first thing you could see, was the Ferris wheel. As we got closer, excitement increased by the foot. You passed an occasional hamburger stand and people selling watermelons. People were hurriedly walking along the sides of the street, either on their way to the reunion or leaving. Then, all of a sudden, there was the old wooden bridge across Flat Creek. I can still hear the boards rattling as we crossed over. By this time, we could easily hear all the excitement going on as we turned into the grounds.
On arrival, Dad would give me twenty-five or maybe fifty cents. This would be enough money, if I was careful, to last me all day. You ask how? Well, you see, the rides cost a nickel, drinks and hamburgers, a nickel or dime and if you really splurged, one might actually spend a quarter for something. This doesn’t sound like much, according to our standards today, but remember, wages weren’t much then. I have heard men say they received a dollar a day, or even less, for a days work.
I might explain, at this point, why this was one of the most exciting times of the year. You must remember, that country people in this era, did not travel far from home. I only faintly recall ever having been to Springfield, 50 miles away, but probably one time while growing up. We never even got as far as Monett very often.
Just about everyone in the county went to the reunion. It was a great opportunity to meet and visit with relatives and friends, they may have not seen during the entire year.
All good things must come to an end as they say, so it was with the Cassville reunion. The changing times brought with it better means of transportation, World War II was threatening and things in general began changing. The carnival, not the reunion as we knew it, was moved to a new location, marking the end of an era that will forever be instilled in the memories of those who experienced it. I think of those days quite often, and if I were ever offered the fantasy to relive a part of my life, I would go to the reunion.
BOWMAN AND FOSTER LINEAGE
I mentioned earlier of Grandpa and Grandma Bowman. Their names were Ike and Mandy. Grandma Bowman’s lineage goes way back in time, to which I refer.
Our known heritage, on Grandma Bowman’s side, begins with James and Jane Langston, of Granville County, North Carolina. Their son, William Langston, was born on April 15th, 1762. He died December 7, 1853 in Illinois, at the age of 91 years, 7 months and 22 days. He is buried in the Langston Cemetery, in the vicinity of Manito, Mason County, Illinois. He and his family, came to Tennessee and into Missouri and Illinois.
He was probably married in Granville County, NC, to a Mary (last name not known). She died September 23, 1838. They were living in NC, when their children were being born. They had nine children. Rebecca Langston, their fifth child, became our direct descendant. She was born February 15, 1789 in Granville NC and died July 2, 1865 on Flat Creek, in Stone County, north of Cape Fair, Missouri. She was probably married in Rutherford County area of Tennessee, to Thomas Henson, in about 1806. Thomas Henson was born December 15, 1786 in NC and died March 26, 1853, also in Stone County, Missouri.
Thomas and Rebecca (Langston) Henson, had twelve children. Rebecca Henson, their daughter, and our direct descendant, was born June 11, 1823 and died in February, 1907. It is not known exactly where she was born. She married Eli Foster, about 1845. Eli Foster was born in 1820 in Tennessee. He died in June 1888. They are both buried in the Summers Cemetery on Flat Creek, west of Cape Fair, Missouri.
Rebecca (Henson) Foster was know as a “midwife” and as a “Granny Doctor”, among the early inhabitants of the Cape Fair, Flat Creek area. She helped deliver many babies in her family and among the residents of the neighborhood. No doubt, many of her tonics and medicines, were made from the native Herb’s and roots, which grew wild in the Ozarks.
She had often told her children and grandchildren, about their trip from Illinois to Missouri, in 1835. She said the family came through Springfield, MO. The town at that time, had only one store and the hogs were wallowing in the mud in the street. They were there on Christmas Day, 1835. They bought supplies there to bring to their new homes on James River and Flat Creek, in the present vicinity of Cape Fair and west up the creek.
Amanda C. Foster, daughter of Eli and Rebecca Foster, and my Grandmother, was born in 1863 and died in 1930. She married Issac (Ike) Bowman on January 20, 1884. They had seven children, one of which was my father, Siegle Bowman.
Thomas and Rebecca (Langston) Henson, are buried near the house site, on the same land the family settled on, in what later became known as the Wilson Cemetery.
Thomas Henson served in the war of 1812, in the campaign against the Creek Indians. A leave of absence from the service during the war of 1812, was found among his possessions. Several other documents were obtained, through the National Archives in Washington, DC, by the Rodens.
He was ordained to preach the gospel in Rutherford County, Tennessee, in the Church of Christ. Another source says Hard-shell Baptist. He became a circuit riding preacher. No record of his parentage have been found.
The Langstons and probably the Hensons, would have moved from North Carolina to Tennessee around 1800. In his application for a pension in 1851, William Langston makes the statement; “ I was living in Granville County, NC, when called into service (1777). Since that time, I have lived in North Carolina, the state of Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri”.
In another document, it states he applied for a pension, September 11, 1838, while a resident of Morgan County, Illinois. (Apparently, he had made applications two different times) He states that he served as a private for three months, in the Revolutionary War. Apparently, his farther served also, although no records were found. His claim was not allowed, as he did not serve six months, as required by the pension law.
William Langston also states, in his application for pension in 1851, that he had lived in the County of Scott in the State of Illinois for the last twenty one years and still resided in said county.
James Langston must have been a Justice of Peace. In William Langston’s attempt to obtain a pension, he also had to have proof he had taken an oath of allegiance, before he entered the service. That original document or certification, was signed by James Langston, who states, he was one of the Justices of the said County.
Referring back to Rebecca (Henson) Foster and her birth place. The 1850 and 1860 census record, both state her birthplace as Missouri. From family tradition however, it seems unlikely that this is true.
I don‘t know a lot about Grandpa Bowman’s ancestors. His parents names were John and Zelika (Estes) Bowman. My brother Andy, has done a great deal of research into Grandpa’s side of the family and has collected some data that is very interesting. Arthur Bowman, of Laurenceville, GA., is also working on a Bowman family document that will eventually be shared by members of the family.
John and Zelika had three children, I believe. Their names
were, Caroline and twin boys, Buck and Ike. There was a fourth named
Lew. We don’t know his last name, he may have been a half brother.
They did have at least one half sister, named Martha Perkins.
Zelika Bowman, I’ve been told, had been married three times, before her marriage to Great Grandpa Bowman. She had been married to a Perkins, Perriman and an Estes. I have often thought, Grandpa may have had several half brothers and sisters somewhere.
John Bowman was a Confederate soldier in Borland’s Regiment of the Arkansas Militia. He was a private and enlisted April 27, 1861. He was assigned to Borland’s 1st Calvary Battalion, 3rd Arkansas. He also served in Company E, D and K or the 11th, 14th and 21st Arkansas Infantry. Andy has a copy of his enlistment papers, among other items.
John Bowman was killed by bushwhackers. It is told, that
they appeared at his door and asked my Grandmother if they could see him.
She told them he was sick and they said if she would bring him to the door,
they would do him no harm. Taking them at their word, she did so,
and they likewise, shot him in the doorway of his own home. I think
he lived somewhere in Carroll County, Arkansas. Grandpa and Grandma
Bowman, were married at Golden, Barry County, Missouri, according to the
Henson book. This leads one to believe that they had lived somewhere in
GRANDPA AND GRANDMA POTTER
I never knew my Grandpa Potter. His name was, David Potter and his parents names were, Haston and Orphia Potter. I was two weeks old when he died.
I have many memories of Grandma Potter (Florence). She made her home with us most of the time, until she passed away in 1936. I never knew much about Grandma’s side of the family. I do know however, that her maiden name was Redding. I can well remember how we would sit up at night after the rest had gone to bed, and play Arthurs, a card game. She chewed tobacco and while I was beating her at the game, I thought, she chewed and spat that much faster. Many of the older women chewed and smoked back then. I can remember Aunt Mary Foster, smoking a long-stemmed clay pipe.
As I sit and write at this moment, I can glance up and be reminded of Grandma Potter. An old clock, belonging to her, sets on a shelf, just in front of me. It is ticking away and is about to strike ten times.
Grandma Potter, as well as my other Grandparents, have been long gone to their rewards, but their memories live on and on in the minds of those they left behind.
I almost missed the horse and buggy days. People had begun
buying cars by the time I came along. I do, however, remember a few
people still going by buggy. In fact, Uncle Elbert Potter had
one. I can remember so vividly their coming to visit us.
GOING TO UNCLE HARMONS
There was also a lot of excitement on Sunday morning, when I could hear Uncle Harmon coming up the hollow. I could always tell it was them by the sound the old wagon made. He worked a team of mules, called old Pete and Jack. With quick steps and flopping ears, they really made the old wagon chuckle.
It was on one of these visits that I received a haircut. Uncle Harmon had two daughters, whose names were Beulah and Eva. I have no idea why we thought of cutting one anothers hair, but we did. Beulah was a year or two older than I, which probably explains why I got the first hair cut. For some unknown reason (you might easily guess) I didn’t get a chance to cut her hair. I don’t recall us ever having done that again.
We, no doubt, made some of the fanciest mud pies you ever saw. We decorated the tops of them with flower petals and anything else we could find. We had a lot of fun riding a motorcycle. This consisted of a saw horse and a pair of plow handles. Beulah always sat in front and drove and I sat behind her. I don’t remember her having ever let me drive.
We had some good times together. I remember going home with them many times and staying all night. They walked to school at Arnhart and always came by our house on the way to and from school every day. Some of the times, when I went home with them, I would take my ukulele.
Uncle Harmon had an old pump organ. Well, Eva would play the organ, I my ukulele and I guess, Beulah must have been the vocalist. We really thought we could play. My, what fun we had.
I remember another time I went home with them and on the way we
discovered an old, white dead horse. Of course, every time we went
by, we had to look up there. To this day, I never go up that hollow
without thinking of that old dead horse.
AUNTS, UNCLES AND COUSINS BY THE DOZEN
Many happy times I recall visiting my other Aunts and Uncles. My father had two brothers, Perry and Oscar, and four sisters, Ina Ennis, Ethyl Foster, Sadie Potter andi Iva Moore. Mama had three brothers, Elbert, Willis and Harmon, and two sisters, Chloe Asher and Minnie Bibb. They have all passed away now. I never knew Aunt Chloe or Aunt Sadie. They died about the time I was born. Except for Aunt Minnie and Uncle Elbert, they had all lived in Barry County. Most of them lived in this community. Uncle Elbert moved to Disney, Oklahoma and Aunt Minnie to Charleston, Missouri.
Aunt Sadie and Uncle Harmon had two daughters, Beulah and Eva (Deceased). Uncle Oscar had two sons and three daughters, Winford, Jewel, Gladys, Ruby and Ronnie (deceased). The thing I remember most about going to Uncle Oscars house, was the big apple tree back of the house, by the old well. It had the biggest and sweetest apples I ever ate. I remember the old burrow that Winfred owned.
Aunt Iva Moore had five children, namely Bonny (deceased), Leonard, John, Thelma and Clifford.
Aunt Chloe married John Asher and they had three children, Virgil, Ray and Audie (deceased). I remember going to their house. Ray and I are about the same age and might explain why we were closer. We rode horses a lot when I visited Uncle John and Uncle Willis. I remember a time Ray and I rode a mule. We rode bareback and Ray drove him at a dead run. I rode behind Ray and I must have hung on for dear life. That was the first and last time I ever rode a mule.
Uncle Willis had one daughter, Shirley.
Aunt Minnie had four daughters, Florence (deceased), Faye, Doris and Freda.
I had a total of twenty two cousins and all are living except
six. The Aunts and Uncles are gone and the cousins, as a whole, are
reaching that age called “old”. Some may say they have already reached
VISITING UNCLE JOHN AND AUNT MINNIE BIBB
I remember going to Uncle John and Aunt Minnie’s home one time. My brother, Loyd, had a Model “A” coupe, with a rumble seat in back. We made the trip in it and Dad and I rode in the rumble seat. On our arrival, we saw Uncle John plowing corn in a field and stopped there before going on to the house. He asked me if I wanted to plow corn. He was plowing with a riding disk cultivator, pulled by a team of large mules. I had never done anything like that, but I got on the plow, spoke to the mules and down the row I went. I’ll never forget watching the black soil with no rocks, roll up around the stalks of corn and the old mules ears flopping back and forth as they stepped out to the end of the row. I was afraid that I would knock down half the corn when I made my turn around, but those old mules knew exactly what to do. When they got to the end, they turned and started back on the next two rows, without knocking down a single stalk of corn. They didn’t need anyone to guide them. I’ve thought of this a lot of times. You see, I was pretty young, but Uncle John knew what those old mules would do. They didn’t live far from the Mississippi River. In fact, Uncle John farmed some inside the levee right on the river. I remember going over there and watching boats going up and down the river.
Several years later, after Louise and I were married, we visited them in Cobden, Illinois. Danny was just a tiny baby. We went with Uncle Harmon and Aunt Bess. I recall very well, on our way home, the car lights going out. I was driving and it nearly scared me to death.
Another thing that comes to memory, was Aunt Minnie’s ice cream
that she made and froze in her refrigerator. This may not seem too
unusual in your day, but for us, at that time, it was a real treat.
You see, very few people, if any, had refrigerators in our community.
It operated on kerosene. We had an ice box, but didn’t get a refrigerator
until Larry was two years old.
THEIR VISITS TO OUR HOUSE
I remember the times they came to visit us. Uncle John nearly
always drove a new International pickup. I was always under the impression
that they were rich. I recall one such visit, when I embarrassed
my cousin, Freda. I was young and inquisitive. On day, I was
looking through her suit case and discovered an apparel unknown to me.
I picked it up and carried it out where the rest of the family were visiting.
I don’t recall just how I found out what it was, none-the-less, it was
her padded bra!!!!!
EGG CUSTARD PIE
GOING TO UNCLE AMOS AND AUNT ETHEL’S
I remember walking to Uncle Amos and Aunt Ethel Foster’s house
to stay all night. I had to go by this certain house each time.
I was always afraid to go by there. The people who lived there had
a bunch of old hounds that always barked at me. I also remember that
each time I went by, I could smell the aroma of egg custard pies.
Funny I could remember that. Uncle Amos had a victrola (phonograph)
and my favorite record was entitled, “The Preacher And The Bear”.
THE ARMY COT AT UNCLE TOM ENNES’ HOUSE
I also walked to Uncle Tom an Aunt Ina’s to stay all night.
About the only thing I remember there, was getting to sleep on an old army
cot. He, as well as Uncle Amos, was a World War I veteran. I vaguely
recall asking about or his telling me of some of his experiences in the
army. By the way, I had to go by that old dead horse again
to visit them. This time it was worse, I was by myself.
GOING TO UNCLE ELBERTS HOUSE
I remember going to Uncle Elberts house many times, when they lived on Gunter. To get there, we turned off the main road and went down a lane. The lane crossed the creek and curved around up the side of the hill to their house. I recall having gone wading in the creek one time, with Bertha and someone else. A leech became fastened to the instep of one of my feet. I remember them having a difficult time pulling it off. When they did finally get it off, my foot liked to have never stopped bleeding. I thought I was going to bleed to death. That was a horrible experience.
The first time I remember going to visit Uncle Elbert after they moved to Oklahoma, was when they lived near Salina. We slept in the chicken house. One end of it was partitioned with chicken wire, but we did in fact sleep with the chickens. Whenever we went to visit them, however, a whole car or truck load went along and they had to bed us down anywhere they could. I remember we all went into Salina one day to a 4th of July picnic. I had to go inside a store to get a drink. The water fountain was located at the far end of a hallway. On each side of the hall, stood a couple of old Indians. I had to go between them in order to get a drink. I had just about decided not to, but finally got the courage to go on. I remember how they were carrying on a conversation in their own language. Not knowing but what they were fixing to scalp me. I got a drink and got out of there in a hurry.
Another time we went there to visit, it may have been after they
moved to Disney, I recall going there in an old Model “T” Ford truck.
I remember this probably, because the old truck got on fire or stalled
on a long hill. It was a red truck and owned by my cousin, Bertha
(Potter) and her husband Garland Dinkins. I recall, too, that when
it got hot, you couldn’t kill the engine. They would just walk off
and leave it and eventually, it would cool off and die.
CAMPING ON WHITE RIVER
Speaking of the old truck stalling, reminds me very faintly of
a camping experience we had. We (like three or four families) were
camping on White River one night, when a bad storm came up. We all
loaded into this old truck (Model “T” I think) and started up a steep hill
to safer ground. The truck wouldn’t pull the hill by itself, so everyone
got out and helped push it to the top. I must have been real young,
but I remember our finding this old barn and staying in it until the storm
blew over. I believe this must have been the same time my brother,
Loyd, liked to have drowned in the river.
MYSTERY UNCLE JOHN
I recall an elderly man, at least I thought he was, coming through the neighborhood occasionally. I called him Uncle John, although, as far as I know, he was of no relation to us. Incidentally, young people of that era referred to their seniors as Aunts and Uncles. I expect the reason I remember him as I do, was the fact that he always brought me a gift of some kind. He was always walking and I don’t think he ever stayed long. Over the years, I’ve thought of him and wondered who he was and whatever happened to him. My sister Mildred, seemed to think he went through the country repairing sewing machines.
I also remember Dad’s cousin, Ben Bowman, coming to visit
us. He was not married and lived somewhere in Texas. He usually
came during strawberry season and picked berries. I think he stayed
mostly with Uncle Harmon. He later married, had a family and never
returned. A few years ago, we were privileged to meet his children
and have since, been in contact with them. They have become a part
of our family.
EARLY YEARS AT ARNHART
My early school years were spent at Arnhart. I believe that I went there through the fifth grade. My first recollection of school, was eating lunch with my brother Loyd, from a gallon syrup bucket. I can’t remember everything we had to eat, but I do remember taking biscuits with sausage or some other kind of meat between them. There was generally a little jar of fruit and perhaps, some cookies or cake.
I remember the old merry-go-round that set behind the school house. I recall how fast it would turn, especially when the bigger kids pushed it. I should remember, because of the many times I have fallen off the thing or have gotten sick.
I must tell you about my tobacco chewing experience. One day I walked to the East Purdy Store and bought a plug of “Spark Plug” tobacco. I don’t recall if I went during the noon hour, or at recess, but I got the tobacco and returned to school. Some of my friends and I sat down at the end of the church house, which was nearby, and each took a big chew of tobacco. We thought we were hidden, but believe it or not, the teacher caught us. I remember her chasing me around the church house, but she never caught me. I never knew how she knew I had the tobacco. I don’t remember her having punished me either. I hid what was left behind a hole in the foundation of the old church building. That night, after school, I got it and traded for an eversharp pencil. Needless to say, I never told my Dad and most of all, I never took another chew of tobacco for a long time to come.
I remember getting into some kind of trouble at school one day and decided I’d just go home. However, I didn’t get there. I chanced to run into my Dad, who was working in a field nearby. He persuaded me to turn around and go back to school. As I recall, the persuader was a switch in hand.
Since I’ve started on the subject of school days, I’ll tell you about or favorite sports. We enjoyed playing “Fox and Hound”. To start with, we would divide into two sides. One side would be the hounds and the other would be the foxes. The foxes started into the woods first and a little later the hounds would take off after them. The object, of course, was for the dogs to catch the fox. Sometimes, we would get farther away from the school than we realized and be late to school. I don’t recall any instance of being punished, but I expect we were.
We played soccer ball, too. I’ll never forget the bruised shins we seemed to always have. Most of the boys wore big, heavy shoes and many of them had steel caps on the toe of them. Believe me, when you got kicked by one of them, you knew you had been kicked.
When school was dismissed at the close of the day, kids scattered every direction. There was a whole gang going my way and quite often, someone would get into a fight. I got into a few myself. I remember one particular time, Vaughn Eden and I got mad and threw rocks at each other all the way home. We were neighbors and good friends, but we sure fought a lot. I remember the old billy goat he had. We rode that old goat every where. If you’ve never ridden a billy goat, you have missed quite an experience.
I remember going home with Bill Daugherty after school and staying all night. He had a shetland pony that we rode. I always wanted a pony, but never had one. I never even had a billy goat to ride.
Speaking of riding, I remember learning to ride a bicycle. The Bennett’s lived on the hill, on our old home place. Marvin had a bicycle and I went there often to play. Each time I went there, I’d try to ride Marvin’s bicycle. Eventually, I got the hang of it, and learned to ride it. Incidentally, I never owned a bicycle of my own. I did, however, own a motorcycle. Just before I retired, I bought a small yellow trail bike. Most all the grandkids will remember having learned to ride the “little yellow pony”. I still have it and perhaps the great grandkids will someday learn to ride it.
I remember another event that happened on our way home from school that liked to scared us to death. The lane we followed passed by an apple orchard. One evening we (I mean a dozen kids probably) decided to go into the orchard and fill our pockets with apples. As we were so busily doing so, the owner slipped out and fired his shotgun in the air over our heads. You never saw so many kids fly out of there, in all directions, so fast in your life. I don’t recall doing that again either. After that, we always thought the old man was mean.
The school and church house was the center of the community. We had lots of programs, such as plays, pie suppers, parties and many people attended. I remember one program (I don’t know the occasion) where I made my debut as a singer. I sang and accompanied myself with a guitar. The song I sang, or tried to sing, was “Red River Valley”. I got about half way through the song and forgot the words. I don’t think I’ve ever been so embarrassed in my life. I finally quit mumbling and just walked off the stage.
Most of the rural school districts were dissolved soon after these experiences and Arnhart students were transported to Purdy. Some rural districts did, however, continue to exist for several years.
It wasn’t long (the first year I believe) after I started school at Purdy, that the school house burned to the ground. I think I was in about the sixth grade and I believe it was in 1936. I know we started having classes in churches, over some stores downtown and about any place that could be found. Construction soon began on a new building. It was a W.P.A. project, as I recall. This was a labor organization, established as a part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s “new deal”, during the depression. I believe they completed the elementary wing first and some classes moved in. Most of that building has since been torn down and replaced with the new one.
Many are the memories I recall of the old school. I would
never have dreamed, at that time, that some day in the future I would once
again attend a country school, not as a student, but as a teacher.
My teaching career began at the Lone Hill School, south of Verona, Missouri
in 1950. The first two years there, I taught the first four grades
and the last year, I taught all eight grades. I do not intend to
expound on these experiences. Perhaps I may later on.
MEMORIES OF WINTER
Winter was probably my favorite time of the year. Although the old houses were cold, (they weren’t insulated) we stayed cozy around the old heating stove. Sometimes, they would get red hot and you’d think they would blow up, but they never did. The kitchen , too, was a cozy place, especially when Mama was baking. I don’t believe food ever tasted as good cooked on stoves other than the old wood cook stoves.
The bedrooms were a different situation. They weren’t heated. This was especially so with the old house, by the spring, in the hollow. It had only three rooms, a kitchen, living room and bedroom. The living room had a bed in it. I believe Barbara slept there, and there were two beds in the bedroom. As I’ve stated elsewhere, after Mama died, my brother Loyd and his family moved in with us. (I had already gone to the army) I have no idea where they all slept. Now, back to the cold bedroom. I remember so well, Mama heating an old iron on the stove and wrapping a towel or something around it and placing it at the foot of the bed. I would get ready for bed, soak up as much heat as possible by the hot stove, then make a dash for that cold bed. Mom would pile so many quilts on top of me I could hardly turn over. Between them, the hot iron at my feet and the feather bed I lay on, I was soon quite warm and comfortable.
At the first cold weather, we were forced to put on long handled underwear, with the split or drop seat in them. I always hated them, but they did help me stay warm. The bad part was that we had to wear them all winter until the first warm days of spring. What a thrill it was to pull those things off and our shoes also. How good it felt to go barefoot, to feel the cool grass between our toes.
Taking a bath during the winter time wasn’t very enjoyable. We had no hot water heaters in those days, other than pots and pans full of water and heating on the old wood stove. However, some wood cook stoves had a water reservoir built into the stove where by hot water was always available, as long as there was fire in the fire box. I say all this, to tell you that, perhaps, this might explain the reason we only took a bath once a week. It wasn’t as convenient then as it is now. I can recall bringing the wash tub into the house, placing it behind the wood stove and filling it with water to the desired temperature. This was always the warmest spot in the house. Many times, other members of the family shared the same bath water. Boy, what an experience, stripping those long handled underwear off in the dead of winter.
Taking aa bath in the summer time was much, much better. We would heat our bathwater in the sun and had no problem with long handles or excessive amounts of clothing, as we did during the winter time. We went swimming often. I remember Marvin Bennett and I going “skinny dipping” on Gunter Creek, (in the summer time, that is), I’d would have liked to have had a way of heating that water. It sure was cold. You know, we never did get caught.
Another good thing about winter was that our chores were less. We still had to milk, feed the animals and carry in wood. Dad cleared land for strawberries and tomatoes during the winter and cut wood for heat. I remember times walking to Uncle Harmon’s house in the snow. Dad would wrap my feet in gunny sacks to keep them warm.
Knee high, leather lace up boots, were popular with all the boys then. I remember the folks getting me a pair. There was a knife pocket on one of them, that you could carry your knife in. Every boy carried a pocket knife. What else, other than a pocket knife, could one get a boy for Christmas gift. We were always trading knives. The boots were also good in deep snow.
We had lots of fun sliding down hills when snow was on the ground. We would carry Dad’s ladder to the top of the hill, then a bunch of us kids would get on it and down the hill we would go. We made our own sleds. Big scoop shovels made good sleds, too. Then ponds froze over, we went ice skating.
WE MADE MOST OF OUR TOYS
As a child, I didn’t have toys to play with like children of today have. We made many of the things we played with. I believe we used our imagination more than kids do today. We made stick horses, stilts, hoops that we rolled around with a wooden paddle, and I can remember playing a lot with a small wheel that I held in my hands, pretending I was driving a car. This was what I was doing, as I recall an occasion of walking in my sleep. I had gotten out of bed, gone outside and was running around the house with a wheel in my hands. The only thing I remember, was me standing there in my night clothes and Mama standing at the door.
We made playhouses with rocks lined up as walls and partitions. I remember playing in playhouses, until I was so old I was ashamed for anyone to see me. I can even remember hiding when I saw some one coming.
I remember one playhouse, however, that was a great improvement
over these. The Hemphills lived just a short distance above us, when
we lived on the Bennett place. Bob and I were together a lot of the
time. We decided to build a playhouse midway between our houses.
We made the frame of sticks and put gunny sacks around it for walls.
We covered the roof with cane pummies that we hauled from Delmar Myers
molasses mill. I recall our having made a cart from an old cultivator
(a kind of plow) wheels to haul it on. We played there a long time,
often bringing food our mothers made and eating there. I don’t remember,
however, getting enough courage to sleep there overnight. I think
I could take you to the very spot where it stood to this day.
LOST ON THE WAY TO SCHOOL
I remember another time, when Bob and I got lost on our way to
school. We were so confused, we didn’t recognize Willis Bowen’s house
and barn. We finally came to our senses, I suppose and went
on to school.
NEIGHBORS DOG EATS MY SCHOOL LUNCH
The Hemphill’s dog ate my lunch one day. I had stopped there
to wait for Bob to get ready for school and I guess I left my lunch outside.
When we started to leave, I discovered the dog had eaten it. I think
I remember crying. Anyway, Bob’s mother made me a new lunch. All
that I remember having, was doughnuts. They were sure good.
An important event occurred while we lived on the Bennett place. I was about ten years old. I remember one evening as I was coming home from school, someone met me just above the house a little way. I suppose they had to delay my arrival for a few minutes. Very soon, however, they told me I had a baby sister. That was really a surprise, for I don’t suppose I even knew that Mama was going to have a baby. They named her Barbara Ann. Its hard to believe she has three children of her own now and several grandchildren.
For some reason, I don’t understand, I don’t have a lot of memories of Barbara’s growing up. I suppose the fact that I am nine years older than she, might be a factor. Another reason could be, that I was away from home for two or three years and after that, I got married and left home again. She has just always been my little sister.
James Nolan, Barbara’s husband, was Fire Chief for the Monett
Fire Department and is now retired. Barbara works for Monroe Shoe
Co., formally Jumping Jacks in Monett. I recall a funny incident
(at least it was funny to me) that occurred to James one day. Dad
had given, or sold them a calf to butcher. One day, .James was leading
it to the pond to give it a drink. He was leading it with a short
rope. The calf decided to run and James tried to stop it. The
calf started running faster and James, not able to run as fast, fell down.
Instead of turning the rope loose, he held on to it, and was dragged for
quite a distance before he did finally turn it loose. I never knew
why he held on so long, because anyone could see the calf was out of control.
The calf went on its merry way and James got up, dusting himself off and
looking very much defeated (and mad).
The cart, previously alluded to, became a real source of entertainment
for us kids. We guided it by two levers on either side of the driver’s
seat. The front axle was designed to turn and by tying pieces of
binder twine to each end and connecting them with the levers, we were able
to manipulate the cart. We didn’t have any brakes. We would
push the cart to the top of a hill and everyone would get on. At
a given signal, we would turn it loose and away we would go. By the
time we got to the bottom of the hill, we would really be moving on.
I’ve often wondered what kept us from getting hurt or even killed.
I’m sure there must have been a guardian angel watching over us.
THE CAR CHASSIS EPISODE
This activity reminds me of another occasion I’d like to mention. My brother Loyd , had changed bodies on a couple of old cars. All that remained of one, was the chassis or running gears, as we called it. The only thing left intact, was the steering wheel. We would push it to the top of the hill in front of our house and ride it to the bottom. One day, someone dared me to ride it through a narrow gate in the fence, at the bottom of the hill. The gate was situated very near a huge oak tree. Now keep in mind, that this vehicle also had no brakes and we would be going full speed by the time we reached the gate. I took the dare, of course and Marvin Bennett agreed to ride with me. We sat on boards, that were placed across the frame and were not fastened down in any way. I got in the drivers seat, with Marvin right behind me and they turned us loose. I did a perfect job driving through the gate and Marvin reached up to pat me on the back. In doing so, he lost his balance on his board and fell off. I couldn’t stop, of course, and the back wheel ran over his head. The chassis was light and luckily, he was not hurt. I think that was the end of this type of entertainment.
In addition to riding carts, bicycles and whatever down hills,
a bunch of us would often meet at the old canning factory behind Rosco
Daugherty’s house and play cops and robbers (I suppose that’s what we called
it). This was generally on Sunday afternoons. Our weapons were home
made pistols and the ammunition was a rubber band, cut from a tire inner
tube. The pistol was made from two pieces of wood and the rubber
band was stretched from the end of the barrel, back to a clothes pin, attached
to the handle. When one squeezed the clothes pin, it released the
rubber band. It’s range was limited, but if you got close enough
and got hit, it would sting like the dickens.
THE McCRAW PLACE
In addition to our having lived on, we lived on three different farms nearby. It seems that we did a great deal of moving back then. We moved back home on the hill three or four times I think. We lived where Ralph Bennett lives, for a long time. Then we moved to the old McCraw place, as it was known. Bill and Evelyn Hardwick own it now. Incidentally, my wife and I sold them the place not long after we were married.
The house and barn was located approximately one half mile up the hollow from the road. I can remember when Roy Shepherd lived there. My brother and his wife also lived there, when they moved the house and barn to the road, where they are at this time. It was a small two room house. After they moved it, Loyd built another room on it. Bill and Evelyn have since added to it and today it is a nice home.
I’ll never forget the day they moved them. Skids, made of
small logs, were placed under them and then pulled down the hollow by a
I remember following along behind the barn and spying a little mouse running, trying to catch up with his home. I thought I would do him a favor by catching him. I did, but I didn’t hold him long. The silly thing bit me on the finger. That was the only time I was ever bitten by a mouse.
I don’t remember how long we lived on the McCraw place, but I
do know, there are a lot of memories associated with it.
MY FIRST EXPERIENCE DRIVING A CAR
My first memory of driving a car wasn’t a pleasant one. I didn’t drive it far either. If I recall correctly, it was a 1929 Chevy sedan. The car was setting just outside the garage. Incidentally, it was the roof of this same old garage that I tried to follow the old tom cat. Anyway, I don’t remember if someone told me or I just took it upon myself to drive it inside the garage. I remember well, however, that I not only drove it into the garage, but through it. I knocked several boards off the back before I managed to stop it.
Dad traded for a 1926 or 27 Model “T” Ford touring car.
It really was a good car, but for some reason, Dad never liked to drive.
In fact. we never got him to drive a car that you had to shift, but just
a few times. Because of this, I became the driver most of the time.
Occasionally, I would drive to Monett or Cassville. I was too young
to drive legally, so we would go through the country, coming into town
the back way. Sometimes, I would get to drive to town on Saturday
nights to the free movies with my parents. I really looked forward
to Saturday nights. Nothing hindered me from doing that.
THE TURPENTINE EXPERIENCE
I remember one Saturday, I had worked so hard following an old
horse and double shovel plowing corn, that I became so chafed I could hardly
walk. I am really embarrassed to mention it, but it happened and
I certainly do remember it. For some reason, turpentine was my number
one cure for everything, or so I thought. With that in mind, I proceeded
to doctor the afore mentioned part. I wanted nothing, as I said before,
to keep me from going to the show and I was certain that that would take
care of my problem. I discovered I really hadn’t had a problem in
the first place. We live and learn, don’t we.
CAUGHT IN THE ACT
I recall another humorous anecdote. I chuckle about it now, but I was pretty serious when it happened. I was up the hollow near the spring, when I suddenly needed to use the bathroom. I thought I was the only one around any where. I proceeded to do the expected thing to do under the circumstances. As I was sitting there, I saw a man coming down the road. I just sat there doing my thing, but as he came near me, I recognized then, he was really a she. I wasn’t long correcting my position.
Speaking of the spring, I can remember so many times, my working
in the fields above the spring and going down there for a drink.
We kept an old gourd dipper there to drink from. It was always so good
and cold. All the time we lived there, we carried water from the
spring to the house. That spring hollow always seemed to be the first
to green up in the springtime. I always thought it was so pretty
MY FIRST MOVIE
I mentioned earlier about going to the movie in Purdy. When they started having it, I believe the merchants sponsored it and it was free to the public. However, later on, they began charging a dime for admission.
I remember the first talking movie I ever saw. Uncle Perry
took me to the theater in Monett. I’ve never forgotten the name of
it, “The Trail of The Lonesome Pine”. I had seen some silent movies, but
this was the greatest of thrills to me.
THE SWIMMING HOLE
Our next move, I believe, was to the Steve Harris place, just below the place where we had once lived. There was a good spring of water that ran from the side of the hill, down across the road and disappeared into the ground a short distance away. (This was where the molasses mill was located I mentioned earlier) Just a little way from where the stream crossed the road and well hidden under the hill there, I had a swimming hole. It wasn’t much over knee deep probably to a grown man, but it seemed deep to us boys. The water of course, was almost like ice water, but we would play in it until our bodies were blue as they could be.
Many of the memories already mentioned earlier in this writing,
took place here. The old house and barn have long since been torn
down and the only thing that remains, is the old concrete spring house
that sets over the spring.
MAMA PASSES AWAY
As I have already said, there were a lot of happy times spent here, but probably the saddest thing that ever happened to me, occurred while we lived here. We were living here when my mother passed away. I remember she had been real sick for two or three days. These were the days when doctors made house calls. He had been there two or three times to check on her and finally decided (after it was to late) to take her to the hospital. Incidentally, not many people went to hospitals then. I can remember as if it were yesterday, the expression she had on her face as she glanced at me, as they carried her to the car. She died in the back seat of the doctor’s car, just east of the Purdy Cemetery. My sister Mildred, was with her at the time of her passing.
I can also remember her lying in repose in the living room of our home for almost a week, waiting for my brother to arrive from Idaho. It was the custom, or tradition, in those days, especially among country people, for the remains to be taken back to their homes until the day of the funeral. Friends and neighbors would come into the homes and sit up all night. They would bring food for all to eat. The men would gather at the grave yard to dig the grave. There was a closeness in the community that was characteristic of those days.
After Mama died, my brother Loyd and his family moved in
with us. He and his wife Hazel, had two small sons, namely Jimmy
and Eddie. I can just taste Hazel’s butterscotch pies. Both
Loyd and Hazel have been dead for several years. Jimmy lives in Branson,
MO., and Eddie makes his home near Cape Fair, MO.
THE JOKE THAT BACKFIRED
It was about this time in my life that a serious thing happened.
That is, it could have been serious. You remember I mentioned earlier
about my brother always pulling pranks on me. Well, this event happened
one Halloween night. A bunch of boys from the neighborhood and I were wandering
around the community seeking mischief to get into, such as placing logs
across the road, turning out houses over, etc. That is what happened
lots of time, but I don’t think I ever did anything like that. In
fact, that’s the reason Homer Childress and I left the bunch and started
home. As we passed my brother’s house, he stopped us and asked us
if we would like to pull a Halloween trick on Uncle Perry, who incidentally
lived on our old home place on the hill. Let me say at this point,
that it was a made up deal between Uncle Perry and Loyd. Who was
the joke going to be on? We agreed of course, with great fervor.
Loyd carefully explained what we were going to do. He got a bucket
of water from the spring and we started up the hill to Uncle Perry’s.
The idea, Loyd explained, was to call Uncle Perry to the door, then pour
the bucket of water on him. He skillfully instilled in our minds,
just what to do. He said Uncle Perry might think we were out to do
him harm and might get his gun. He said if we heard the gun
snap, to run for our lives. Before we got there, I might add, they
had stretched a rope across the road where it started down the hill.
Well, we got all set for him. Loyd called him and we could
hear Uncle Perry stirring around inside the house. All of a sudden
we heard the familiar sound of a shotgun breech. We didn’t need anyone
to tell us what to do. Homer was the first to hit the rope.
He fell over the top and kept going. I hit the rope and fell backwards.
I guess that was the only time I was ever knocked senseless. When
I came to my senses, I could hear old Homer still putting them down the
road. He had made it all the way down the hill and was going down
the hollow on the main road. Loyd and Uncle Perry were laughing their
heads off. I remember (I really don’t know why) laughing too.
Pretty soon, Homer came slipping back up the hill. He had lost his
hat and had come back to get it. I don’t until this day, know how
we kept from being seriously injured or even killed. I only had a
knot on my head and Homer had a cut on his hand. Anyway, that was
the end of a very exciting Halloween night.
THE LOST WATERMELONS
I seemed to have been the center of many pranks back then.
I haven’t forgotten the watermelon episode. This also happened while
we lived in the hollow by the spring. We had a good watermelon patch
that year. I had picked three or four big melons and had put them
in the cold water in the spring house. That weekend, I and some friends
went swimming in Flat Creek. I got the cold melons and took them
with us, with the intentions of having a big melon feast. Well, we
weren’t the only ones there with the same idea. There were several
people there, when we reached the creek. We waded off down the creek, leaving
my watermelons behind. On our return, mouths watering for a big slice
of melon, we discovered the melons were gone. We searched everywhere
for them, but to no avail. Later on, I found out who had taken them.
Loyd Roller, Ancil Bowen and Frank Bennett never let me forget the day
they took my watermelons. They always reminded me of how good they
were. They really had a big laugh at my expense.
MY HIGH SCHOOL DAYS
I recall my high school years, as having been a relatively good time. I’m sure my Mama would have been proud of me. Among other accomplishments, I served as student council president and senior class president. I played a bass tuba in the band for four years and sang in numerous musical productions. I remember being in both the junior and senior class plays. I’m not going to comment much on my grades, I don’t think they were much to brag about.
It was during high school that I had my first car, or at least I called it mine. It was a 1929 Chevrolet. It was green and had a cloth top. Behind the rear windows on each side, there was a fancy metal fixture, of a sort, shaped kind like the letter “S”. I believe they call it these days, landau bars. It had solid disk wheels and extra large tires. The United States was in the middle of World War II. Automobile tires were hard to find. You had to have permits from the government to buy them. You wouldn’t believe the condition my tires were in. I had to fix flat tires every day, I think. I might say that gas was also rationed. I don’t know what ever happened to that old car. I believe however, I still had it when I went into the army. Dad must have sold it while I was gone.
I remember driving a school bus my senior year. I drove
a bus part time, all the years I was in the Purdy School System.
On my eighteenth birthday, I had to register for the Armed Services(draft).I
was allowed however, to finish high school. I also received a three
or four month farm deferment. I remember having out a tomato crop,
but I don’t think I got to harvest them. Dad and Loyd took care of
them and put the money in the bank for me until I returned home.
I was inducted into the army, September 2, 1944, at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis, Missouri. I received my training as an infantry rifleman at Camp Fannin, Texas. After about five month of training, I was given a ten day leave in route home and sent to New York. On January 24, 1945, I embarked for Europe on the famous Queen Mary luxury liner, arriving there (ETO) 7 Feb 1945.
It took us six days to cross the Atlantic Ocean. I remember, she made the crossing unescorted. By changing course every six minutes and due to the speed she possessed, it was said that no enemy ship could ever hit her with their guns or torpedoes. The Germans called her the “gray ghost”. During the spring of 1986, after forty one years, I had the privilege of going aboard her once again. She is in dry dock in Long Beach, California and has become a tourist attraction, whereby, many hundreds of people visit her each year.
We got off the ship near Glascow, Scotland and rode on box cars across Scotland, to South Hampton, England. We had a good view of the country side, which by the way, was very beautiful. It was just as if it were out of a story book. We crossed the English Channel on a small landing craft and came a shore at Le Havre, France. We then traveled across Belgium in truck convoys and arrived in Germany in early February.
I was attached to and fought with the 116th Battalion of the 29th Infantry Division. This was a National Guard unit known as the “Old Blue and Gray Division”.
Shortly after the Battle of the Bulge, I became a replacement in an Infantry detachment, not far from the little town of Julich, Germany. We were at first, back with the heavy artillery before going on. That first night, we were staying in bombed shells of houses. I couldn’t sleep for the constant sounds and flashes of the big guns going off. Everytime they did so, plaster from the ceilings would fall in our faces. That same night, we had a paratroops scare. We were placed on guard duty in various places and we waited, but it was a false alarm. The next morning, we marched on into Julick without any ground opposition. We crossed the Rohr River, into the town and immediately got pinned down by German artillery fire. I remember seeking refuge in the basement of a bombed house. German planes were strafing and bombing our location. We would run up the steps to watch the planes ascend into the air, then as they dove back toward the ground, we would dive back into the basement.
I don’t intend to expound on this issue to any great extent, but I will write of certain events that happened that are most vivid in my memory. After all, this occurred almost fifty years ago to the day.
Occasionally, something happened that appeared rather funny to us later on. Anytime we were under fire, the slightest depression in the ground surface, was a haven to us. I remember one time, jumping into one such place and two or three others jumping on top of me.
I remember on one occasion where we had secured a small farm village and had settled down in houses for a short rest while we awaited orders to move on. When we did get orders, we moved out taking about everything we could find to eat with us. Some were carrying empty machine gun cases, filled with eggs, sides of bacon and anything else we thought we might use. I don’t really know what we thought we were going to do with them.
Anyway, we didn’t go far, until we ran into enemy opposition. Naturally, we had to throw our food down and fight for our lives. I’ve often wondered what that hillside must have looked like the next morning.
At this late period in time, involving World War II, the Germans were on the run. The most of our fighting occurred on the outskirts and inner parts of cities, where they would take a stand to defend them. I remember such cities as, Aachen, Cologne, Munchen, Gladbach, Dusseldorf, Mulheim, Essen, Dortmund, Muenster, Hanhover and many small villages, all the way to the Elbe River. My outfit would up in a small farm village, just inside the levee on the Elbe River. We had been a part of General Omar Bradley’s group of four armies, that had raced eastward to the Elbe, to meet the Russians. We remained here for several days, as I recall. The river was wide and we could occasionally see or hear the Germans on the other side. There was an old Dutch windmill there and artillery observers believed it to be an observation point for the German artillery. I watched an officer and two colored aides, direct fire back to our guns and after a couple of try’s, blew the windmill to kingdom come. I remember hearing tanks and motorcycles going up and down the river, especially during the night when sound traveled so clearly over the water. We could hear the German soldiers singing and playing.
We didn’t meet the Russians as planned. Some of our units crossed the river above and had taken that side of the river. For days afterwards, German soldiers and civilians, surrendered by the thousands. We could see white flags waving on the opposite side and boat loads would come across the river. They didn’t want to surrender to the Russians.
We lived a leisurely life on the Elbe, with only scattered exchanges of fire. The farm house we occupied, as were most German farm houses, had an attached milk barn. When the cows came in to be milked, another farm boy and I would milk them. If we were lucky enough to beat the others to the hen house, we might find some eggs. We ate pretty well.
We were finally replaced and moved back from the front line. It was only a couple of weeks, I believe, until the war in Europe was over. When we were told, everyone rushed out and began firing their rifles. The free world celebrated May 8 and V. E. Day (Victory in Europe Day) After five years, eight months and seven day, the European phase of World War II had ended.
Many veterans of the European Theater, were sent to Japan,
as this part of the world was still at war. I remember sweating that
out, so to speak, as none of us wished to go to Japan. We felt we
had been lucky to be alive at this point and if sent to Japan, our luck
might run out.
ARMY SERVICE TIME TABLE -- WORLD WAR II
September 2nd -- Inducted into the Army
October-November-December -- Infantry training at Camp Fannin, TX.
January 24 -- Left New York going to Europe
February 7 -- Arrived in European Theater of Operation
March-April-May -- Combat Infantry Rifleman
May 8 --War in Europe over (V-E Day)
June-July-August-September-October-November -- Occupational Army
December -- Detachment
January-February-March-April-May-June --Later Assigned to Military
Courier Service - Chief Clerk
July 8 -- Left for USA
July 17 -- Arrived in USA
July 31 -- Discharged
In Military Service -- 23 Months
After the war, I remained in Europe until I had enough points to come home. In the meantime, I was sent to Frankfurt and was assigned to the Military Government Headquarters In the I. G. Farbin Building. This was General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s (Ike) headquarters. I was reassigned as a clerk typist. Prior to this, however, I was a train courier , carrying official Military papers to Berlin and Munich. Later, I was promoted to chief clerk and held that position until I returned home.
I received two passes while I was over there. One was a ten day pass to Copenhagen, Denmark and the other one to Holland. While in Holland, I remember the beautiful tulip beds, dikes and windmills, just like pictures I’d seen in books. The thing I remember most of Denmark, was getting to drink all the good, fresh milk I could drink. I remember too, the little mermaid statue and the fish markets. We visited the Kings Castle and observed the changing of the guard. That was a colorful event.
I could recall to mind, many things that occurred to me during this period of time in my life. So many that space could hardly permit. I would however, like to mention briefly, some of them. I remember going into Tyler, Texas on a pass and having an apple pie al-a-mode at the U.S.O.; the long hard days in training; my ten day leave at home and my Dad crying when I told him good-bye; the night I went into New York City and the boys I went with, getting drunk and leaving me all by myself; going to Washington DC on pass; boarding the Queen Mary and watching the tiny tug boats slowly push the big ship out into deeper water; feeling the vibrations of the huge engines as they started; watching the fading image of the Statue of Liberty, as it disappeared from sight; watching for it to come into sight when I returned; seeing the Scotts walking down the street in their kilts and my first combat experience.
On July 8, 1946, I left Bremerhaven, Germany, for the United
States. I came home on a much smaller ship, called the USS
Mahoney City Victory, arriving in New York, the 17th of July, 1946.
I’ll never forget how sea sick I got on the way home. I received
my discharge on July 31, 1946, at Fort Sheridan, Illinois. Free at last,
I thought. A civilian one again, as I boarded a bus and headed for
Since I was a civilian without “wheels”, about the first thing I remember doing, was looking around for a car. After the war, there weren’t many used cars to be found anywhere. I finally found and purchased a car from a local business man. It was a 1934 Ford sedan. I paid the man, as I recall, $500.00.
I had the car only a short time, when I decided to go to Idaho. My Dad, Frank, Loyd and I started out in it, not really knowing whether it would make it or not. It seemed to be a good car, but I had not had it long enough to really know. We made it there however, and returned without any problems.
I don’t recall how long we were there, but we worked for my brother Floyd, and his neighbors. Dad and I slept in the house with Floyd’s family and Frank and Loyd slept in the grainery. They went to bed after dark and having no lights there, they lay talking before going to sleep. Occasionally, they would pick up a hand full of wheat and put it in their mouth to chew, like chewing gum. The next morning as they awoke in the light, they discovered mice and bird droppings all over the top of the wheat. I think that was the last time they had refreshments before going to sleep.
We had an agreement between us, that if they furnished the
grub, I would do the cooking. I recall an incident that they never
let me forget. One evening, I came in early as usual, to get supper.
I didn’t have any potatoes to fix, so I just waited for them to come in
from work and get them for me. They really got on my case and rode
me hard for not getting them myself. We had a lot
of fun and I’ll never forget it.
After we returned from Idaho, I loafed around for a while, doing odd jobs here and there. Finally, my Uncle Willis Potter approached me about going into business with him. During the latter part of 1946, we purchased the old McDowell Store. At that time however, the stock of goods were located in the front part of a residence, just west of the old store building. Later we remodeled the old building and moved the stock there.
We continued to live in the house as “old bachelors” for only a short time. Not long after we purchased the store, we took on a new partner. I married Mary Louise Smith.
Her Aunt Bess, whom my Uncle Harmon Potter had married after his first wife died, (incidentally, his first wife, Aunt Sadie, was a sister to my Father and he was a brother to my Mother) invited us to their home for supper. After having supper and visiting, as usual, I took her home. I “courted” her for a while and asked her to marry me. I really had her fooled I suppose, because she said she would. We journeyed to Columbus, Kansas, where on February 15, 1947, we tied the knot.
Her sister Velma, and boyfriend at the time, Gene Fly, went with
us. I remember we made the trip in Gene’s fathers car, an old 1936
Chevy. I’ll never forget the brakes going out on the way and we drove
there and back home without any brakes. About a year later,
they also got married. They had one daughter, Suzie.
My wife, Louise, is the daughter of Della and Raymond (Jack) Smith. He was crippled from birth. He had no foot on one leg and his only foot was deformed. He wore an artificial leg. I don’t think I’ve ever known a man with so much stamina and “guts” as he had. He lived a normal life just as everyone else. I’ve been told, that as a youth, he swam, road horses and did everything his friends did. He was a farmer and had been employed for several years at a manufacturing plant in Aurora, Missouri. He passed away in August of 1954. His parents names were William (Bill) and Ollie (Clements) Smith. She was the daughter of Riley and Lucinda (Marbut) Clements. Lucinda Marbut was one of twelve brothers and sisters, whose parents, Phillip an Oda Thomas Marbut, settled in the community, that is known by that name. They were from Germany. William (1867-1956) and Ollie Smiith (1869-1937) had four children namely, Pearl Pennel (1889-1961), Bessie Potter (1894-1982), Tisha Mackey (1892-1914) and Raymond Smith (1901-1954). William Smith’s parents were, Edward (1845-1900) and Martha Jane Smith(1849-1933). My wife can well remember her, but he died long before she was born. They are buried in the Arnhart Cemetery.
Louise’s grandparents on her Mother’s side were, Lewis and Ettie
Koch, (pronounced Cook) Hoenshell. They lived in the Victory Community,
near McDowell. They had five children. There names were Fred,
Frank, Willie, Clarence and Della (Smith) Hoenshell. They were
also of German descent. All of my wife’s uncles and aunts are dead
now, except her Uncle Clarence. Her Mother now lives in Purdy by
herself. She is 83 years old and recently had a complete hip
surgery. Her Father, as well as many of her other relatives on the
Smith side, are also buried in the Arnhart Cemetery. Her Mother’s
relatives, are buried in the Sparks Cemetery on Flat Creek, north of Cassville,
Our first child, a son, was born while we lived at McDowell. Larry Eugene, was born on February 20, 1948. He was born in the home of my wife’s parents. They lived on a farm about three miles north of McDowell, in the Lone Hill community. Doctor J. D. Baldwin, was in attendance at his birth. It was a cold, snowy winter night, as I recall. Gene Fly and I drove to Purdy to get the doctor. We returned with him in the early evening and after examining my wife, he said that it would be morning before anything happened. He stayed all night and the next morning, Larry was born.
He married Donna Cameron on December 30, 1966. They had
two children, Randy and Tami Rae. Larry has spent most of his working
career as a route salesman, first with Foremost Dairy Company and at present,
with Cain Coffee Company. Donna works at the Wal-Mart store in Monett.
I’ll let him fill in the void between this and the last paragraph.
STARTED COLLEGE AND TEACHING CAREER
Another event occurred while we were in McDowell, that was going to determine my future. The United States had established a program, whereby it would finance, free of charge, any army veteran that wished to continue his education. It was called the “G. I. Bill”. Through this program, if I went to college, I would receive $120.00 per month. That sounded like a lot of money back then.
With this in mind, I enrolled in the Monett Junior College in 1948. Two years later, to my surprise, I graduated with a sixty hour certificate. This entitled me to teach in the State of Missouri.
I thought, since I had the opportunity, that I would give it a try. In 1950, I signed a contract to teach in the Lone Hill School District. I believe my salary was somewhere around $1,700 for eight months, which would have been less than $200 per month, take home pay.
Every summer after that, I attended SMS in Springfield. In August, 1956, I received a BS in Elementary Education degree. At that time, I received a life time certificate to teach in the State of Missouri.
In 1953, I was hired to teach in the Purdy School System. I was a classroom teacher there for about sixteen years, having taught about everything. The most of those years (10 years) however, were spent teaching fifth grade. In 1969 I believe, I was hired as Elementary Principal, a position I held until I retired in 1980. I received my Masters Degree in 1974. I taught a total of twenty seven years in the Purdy Schools.
A short time after I started to college, we sold our part of the business to Uncle Willis. We moved to a small house, across the road, east of the East Purdy Store.
Those were pretty rough times for us. I taught through the
school year and during the summer, I went to college and worked at whatever
I could find, in order to earn a little money.
MOVE NUMBER 1 AND 2
Louise was pregnant with our second child and she recalls our stay here as being most unpleasant. There were no shade trees or air conditioning. I don’t believe we even had an electric fan. Come to think of it, I don’t believe we even had electricity. I know we didn’t, because I remember buying a washing machine with a gas motor on it. I remember later when electricity became available, I replaced the gas motor with an electric motor.
Our next move was to the Roy Shepherd place. Fred and Margaret
Terry live there now. We thought we were in heaven. It was
a large house, compared to our last one. It had shade trees everywhere
and it was here, that electricity first became available to us.
DANNY WAS BORN
It was at this point in time, October 7, 1949, at the Wheaton Clinic, Danny Joe was born. I remember my wife ceased having labor pains and Dr. Baldwin telling us, that they were going to have to take the baby by cesarean section. I recall waiting by the door of the operating room, trying to hear what was going on inside. It seemed like forever, but eventually, I hear a baby crying and I had reason to believe that everything was all right.
Danny received a lot of knocks and spills growing up, but he made
it. He married Cindy Lange on December 4, 1970. They had two
children, Tony and Angie. They were divorced and on November 27,
1980, he married Barbara Floyd. They had one child, Hilton.
This marriage also ended. On October 26, 1991, he married Donna Hammers.
She had two sons, Mark and Nathan Hammers. Danny is employed at Tyson’s
Foods in Monett.
MOVE NUMBER 3 AND 4
We soon learned that the McCraw place (as I mentioned earlier) was for sale. We investigated and then purchased the eighty acre farm. We moved and lived there about one year, then sold it to Bill and Evelyn Hardwick. I’ve always wished we had kept it, but we had a chance to make some profit and we sold out. This was where we were living when I started teaching school.
This put us without a home again, but we soon found another.
We moved to the Ancil Bowen place, back near where we had lived before.
I remember the hot summer we spent there. I was going to college
and spent many a night studying until midnight and it was so hot I could
hardly stand it. We kept an old cow that we milked and I remember
her almost kicking Larry out of the barn. I thought it had killed
him, but he was all right. I don’t remember how long we lived here,
but it wasn’t long until we purchased the property we now live on.
OUR LAST MOVE
We bought a small, four room house and an acre of land from my brother Loyd. It was located near Dad’s home, one mile east of the Purdy Cemetery, on highway C and three quarters of a mile south. We moved here on October 13, 1951. Since then, we have remodeled and added to the house.
Not long after we moved here, Dad had a heart attack. He decided to sell his place and move to town. We bought his property and he moved to Purdy. A few years later, we bought an additional forty acres, that lay along the north side of our original forty. We now have about sixty acres of land.
When we first moved here and for a long time afterwards, there were no shade trees. The only thing here, was a clump of small sassafras trees that stood along side the road. It was a hot, dusty place to live. Today, there are several different kinds of shade trees surrounding our house and in addition to these, we have a variety of fruit trees. I have set them all out myself and now realize my labors were not in vain. Since my retirement, I now have lots of shade to sit in and all the time I need to whittle.
A few years ago, Danny moved a mobile home into the place where
Dad’s old house stood and lives there at the present time. Larry
lives in Purdy.
OUR CHURCH HOME
Over the years, my memories often go back to the time I accepted Christ as my personal savior. It was during a revival meeting held at the Arnhart Southern Baptist Church. I must have been about sixteen years old. The old building was torn down, but I can show you within a few feet, the very spot where it happened. I did not join the church for several year, until after I was married. My wife and I joined the church when the boys were real young and are still members of the church there today.
I was music director for a long time, about twenty five years, and on October 27, 1968, I was ordained a deacon in the church.
In 1964, we built a new building. I drew a sketch of the proposed building and floor plans. It was accepted by church members and work soon began on its construction. I don’t know what ever happened to those plans, but they were pretty well worn by the time it was finished. Later on, the fellowship hall was added to the original structure.
An interesting observation concerning the construction of the church was, that is was built almost entirely by voluntary labor. Brit Marbut was hired to oversee the work and Kirk Lowe laid the brick.
We had a lot of fun and good fellowship. I recall on one
occasion, the time someone stapled my straw hat to the wall. I had
worn it to work and forgot to wear it home at dinner time. When I
returned, I found it stapled, around the brim, to the wall. I just
pulled it off, leaving the brim still fastened down. I wore what
was left of it the rest of the day. Later on, as they lay the corner
stone in place, they put my old hat inside and sealed it up for all posterity.
POLITICAL AND RELIGIOUS BACKGROUND
I have never been too politically involved in society. Most of the Bowmans I’ve known, are Republicans. I have generally voted a Republican ticket. I’ve never known of any Bowmans having ever run for political office. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, is the earliest President I can remember. Incidentally, I met and shook hands with Mrs. Roosevelt one time, while I was in Germany. After the war was over, I worked in General Eisenhower’s Headquarters in Frankfort. I saw him quite often and actually sat near him at a football game one day.
My Dad and most of his relatives, held to the Church of Christ faith. I’ve been told, that Grandma Potter was a Baptist. In fact, someone told me they remembered my Mother and Grandma Potter, attending church at Arnhart. If that is true, it was before my time. My parents never went to church with me. The only church close by, was the Arnhart Baptist Church. You might say, I grew up there.
I mentioned earlier, that my Great, Great Grandfather Henson, was a circuit rider preacher for the Hardshell Baptist Faith. Most of my wife’s relatives, were Methodist.
I have been active in my church for many years. At present,
I am serving as assistant song leader and I am teaching a Sunday School
I retired in 1980, after having been a teacher and/or principal
for thirty years. Since my retirement, I have driven a school bus
half a day. I have a large yard and garden that keeps me busy throughout
the summer. We keep some beef cows and sell a few calves each year.
There is always fence to build or mend and many other chores that keep
me busy most of the time. My wife has worked part time, for several
years at Harter Casket Company in Purdy.
In October of 1993, I had a severe heart attack. In fact, I almost died. Danny and my wife, rushed me to the Aurora Community Hospital, where they got me stabilized and sent me on to St. John’s Hospital, in Springfield.
I recuperated reasonably well from the heart attack. Almost a year later, I began once again, having difficulties. On December 16, 1994, I had open heart surgery. They did two by passes. Doctors say I have done very well. I feel just great and I am beginning to do more everyday. The Lord just wasn’t through with me yet.
Since my last writing, we have had some additions to our family. We now have four great grandchildren. Angie married Chris Smith and they have two children, Leah and Brittany. Tony and Evette had two, Breanne and Amanda Rae, but they are separated. Randy married Renee Abergast and they live in Kansas City, Missouri. Tami married Mark Lindeman and they live in Aurora, Missouri. Neither of them have any children, yet.
Hilton lives in Lumberton, NC, with his mother and grandparents. We also have two step grandchildren, Mark and Nathan Hammers.
Granny Smith passed away on June 12, 1992. She was buried
beside her husband in the Arnhart Cemetery. Mildred’s husband, Frank,
passed away on November 5, 1993 and is also buried in the Arnhart Cemetery.
Aunt Ina Ennis, went to be with the Lord on April 27, 1990 and was laid
to rest in the Ennis Cemetery, southeast of Cassville. Uncle Amos
and Aunt Ethel are buried in the Purdy Cemetery.
It hasn’t been easy to write down my memories of the past. I’m not the best of writers, as you can plainly see. It has been a little difficult for me to put them into words and at the same time, make it as brief and to the point as possible. I seem to have repeated myself so many times. I hope it hasn’t been too boring for you.
I’m sure I haven’t exhausted my memory bank. There are memories, such as those I incurred in the service for instance, that I didn’t wish to bring to mind. Those memories, I would like to erase. I don’t believe one could ever dig deep enough into past memories and come up with a total recall. There seems to continually be “flashes” of memories come over me, as replays on television. Isn’t it strange, that as one grows older, one can remember things that happened many year ago, but .......what was I going to say?
I don’t know what time has in store for me. Right now, I am reminded of a favorite song in which the chorus goes like this; “Until then my heart will go on singing, until then my heart will carry on, until the day my eyes behold the city, until the day God calls me home”.
I have tried to live a Christian life. I know it hasn’t been a perfect life, because I’m just a sinner, saved by grace. I do know that I am going to heaven and my greatest hope is, that each of you are prepared to do the same. John 3:16 sums it up real good. It says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life”.
I have included names of ancestors, burial sites, etc., in order that it may possibly furnish information some day to anyone interested in their past. So this may be possible, I urge you to keep and pass it on to the future generations.
My journey “Down the River of Memories”, hasn’t always been smooth
sailing. There have been times the water was turbulent, other times it
was very calm, but among it all, I have the self assurance that I have
survived to this point in time. For this, I thank my God. Thanks
for sailing with me.