A Bicycle Ride
By Bobbie Duffy Dykes
I was raised in Collegeport, and each winter we lived in town so I could attend school. Each summer was spent at the ranch which was seven or eight miles from town.
One summer when I was 10 or 11 my friend Betty from Rosenberg was visiting. We decided to ride our bikes. Somewhere down the road from the house, we got the notion to go see my grandparents, Tom and Maud Fulcher, who lived in town just west of the drugstore. The wind is usually blowing from the south or southeast so with the wind behind us we made it to town. We stopped at the drugstore and charged two of Mrs. Hattie’s ice cream cones to my dad for the princely sum of ten cents. We ate them as we sat on the porch and visited with Grandma.
We headed back to the ranch going against the wind, and it took all the strength we had. I do not remember anyone passing us on the road to offer a ride, so we pedaled on. There were no fences to separate the pasture from the roadway, and the cattle wanted their share in the middle of the road. I never knew until that time just how huge cattle really were and many of them had very mean looking eyes. Have you ever been handle bar to horn with a big old range cow?
My dad always drove a red pickup and far off in the distance a red spot could be seen. I had mixed emotions when the red spot got larger and larger, and I could see two very angry adults. I never did find out how long we were gone before they missed us but however long, it gave them ample time to get really, really angry. Daddy put the bicycles in the back of the pickup and we scrambled in with them and rode home.
I never received any real punishment but had to hear “Do you want to take a bicycle ride?” for the rest of the summer.
A lesson learned and had Lance
UNCLE TOM FULCHER
This is a story of a very special couple that lived in Collegeport when I was a youngster. They were Tom and Maud Fulcher. They lived in Collegeport just west of the Drug Store. My dad called him Uncle Tom therefore we kids were allowed to call him Uncle too. To be called uncle by folks that were not kin was like being allowed to be a relative. Lots of folks called him Uncle Tom. He allowed folks to call him Uncle Tom and I think he enjoyed it. There were others that were called Uncle also that were not kin. There was Uncle John Ackerman, Uncle Joe Frank Jenkins, Uncle John Adams and others. Folks that were not that close to the family we kids were taught to say Mister so and so. I don’t remember calling any of the women folks as Aunt. They were always Mrs. so and so. I don’t ever remember anyone calling Maud Fulcher anything except Mrs. Fulcher except her grandchildren called her grandma. They were the grandparents of Bobbie Ann Duffy and the Hendrix children, G R, Marguerite, Billy Gene and several other Hendrix children.
Whenever we were in town it was a must if we could go to see Uncle Tom. GR and Billy Gene were good friends and we often went over with them to see their grandparents. Uncle Tom could do anything as far as we were concerned and always took time to do whatever he could for us that we asked. He had all the makings for slingshots. Rubber, leather pouches, strings and often could supply a slingshot stock that he had on hand just for that occasion. He could cut the most prefect, straight, even rubber bands from an old inner tube. The rubber bands were just the right width and length for the person that was going to attach them to his slingshot. What I mean is that for myself and other smaller boys they would not be as strong to pull back as the ones he cut for the older boys. We kids did not use a forked stick for a slingshot stock. He made real good wooden stocks from real nice wood. They were great.
Whenever any of us kids were visiting we would not be there very long until Mrs. Fulcher would appear with a treat of some kind. She made the best sugar cookies of any one that I know of. Those with the sugar sprinkled on the top. Often they were just out of the oven. She was a very kind and gentle person and I think she liked all little kids, not just her grandchildren.
As I mentioned above Uncle Tom could do anything. His greatest attribute was making hand-made pocket knives that everyone wanted. He made them for the stockmen and others that needed a sharp knife. There was a special blade he made just for stockmen to do the castrating and cropping the ears of cattle and hogs. The blade was not unlike a surgical blade that you see in a surgical kit these days. He made one for my dad and he would not let us kids touch it. His knives blades were made from old saws and were cut by hand, filed to shape and never were heated to loose the temper. They were the sharpest blades that I have ever seen. He could sharpen knives also. He would say to us boys. “Let me see your knife.” If it was dull he would say that a dull knife was more dangerous than a sharp knife. He would then proceed to sharpen your knife. When he was through it would shave the hair off your arm. He sharpened my old Barlow knife whenever I could get it to him when it was dull. He often scolded us boys for not taking care of our knives better. He made me a knife just for skinning the varmints that I caught for their fur. It was a sweetie. He also made and sharpened kitchen butcher knives. When Leo Duffy would have his spring cattle roundup he would be there to sharpen the knives that the cowboys used to work on the calves with. He sat on an old chair in the shade with a bench in front of him with his stones and a wash pan with a Lysol solution to disinfect every knife when it was brought to him for sharpening.
Uncle Tom was probably one of the best whittlers that there was in the whole county. He spent many hours whittling. He made a long wooden chain with the links connected. He made baby rattles also. A little square hunk of wood with a handle and four sided with a slot in each side with little round balls in it that would rattle when it was shaken. How he could carve something with a round wooden ball in it larger than the slot in it was always a mystery to me. If a housewife had a cedar rolling pin like he made for my mother she had a rare prize. He and other older gentlemen would sit in front of the barber shop or store and whittle up a storm. Everybody had a stick to whittle on. If they didn’t have a stick they would whittle on the wooden bench that they were sitting on. They almost carved it away. Some of the designs they carved were quiet artistic.
I remember visiting them, the Fulchers, after church for dinner, which was a custom those days. To be invited to some ones house or invite someone to your house after church for a get together and dinner. It was very seldom anything other than fried chicken. When we went to the Fulchers my mother and Mrs. Hendrix would help fix the dinner and us kids played and had fun. Once we helped Uncle Tom make home made ice cream. We all took turns turning the crank while Uncle Tom handled the ice and salt. It was sure good but melted too fast in the hot summer.
I could go on for several pages as to the things that Uncle Tom could do. He would teach us how to tie knots that did not slip or loosen but was easy to untie. He was a whiz at fixing bicycle flats and bent wheels. We kids on the farm did not have any bicycles but the kids in town did. He could fix a leak in your rubber boot. He had a knack of attaching a patch from a tire tube kit that would never come off. He would rough up the area to be patched, apply the cement to both the boot and the patch, set them both on fire with a match and when it was just right he would blow out the flame and put the two together. It never failed to work and never came off nor leaked.
People like the Fulchers will
always be remembered for the good folks that they were. I do not
know when they passed away for I was either in the service at that
time or living out of the state. I could look it up if I really
wanted to know but I would rather remember them as they were when
Gene (Eugene) Penland
Bicycle courtesy of Bicycle-Stuff
Copyright 2006 -
Present by the Dykes Family
Jul. 22, 2006
Aug. 21, 2006