I was recently discussing with my lady-friend the living conditions we had to put up with, including no modern bathroom facilities while growing up in the late ’20s and ’30s. I grew up thinking “Running Water” was an Indian Chief and his wife’s name was “She-who-had-to-go-outside.”
My lady-friend disagreed with me about the Indians. “I don’t think there were any around back then,” She said.
“Well,” I said, “I seem to remember Dan Pinkard coming over to our house and telling about an encounter he had with Indians on Salt Mountain. The best I remember, he ran them off to Oklahoma where they built Casinos and have been getting even with white folks since then.’’
“You may be right but I think you’ve got the wrong time frame. Dan was probably 80 years old when he told you that. They say,” she said, “That happiness is good health and a bad memory and all you have left is the bad memory.”
I still remember a lot about those days — some good and some bad. I remember the wagon trips to town on Saturday where we stayed all day.
I remember riding on the tailgate and jumping off to run barefoot through the dirt and then running to catch up. Saturday was a big day in Blanket. Dad would tie the horses to a mesquite tree behind the Levisay and McCulley grocery where other wagons were parked and the horses tied.
Every family that went to Blanket on Saturday stayed until sundown. It was a social event where the men and women got together to discuss everything from crops to who had a new baby while the kids chased each other between the stores or ran up and down the tops of the boxcars on the railroad siding.
I still remember how good the nickel ice cream cones tasted that we bought at Macon Richmond’s drug store. A double-dip piled high cost a dime.
I remember on hot summer nights when we moved the beds out in the yard to get what breeze there was. Sometimes a sudden thunderstorm sent us scrambling to get the bedding back in the house.
In the hot summer fields, picking cotton, heading maize or gathering corn, when our sweaty clothes got hit by a cool breeze it caused instant evaporation affording the only form of air-conditioning we had ever known. These were “the good old days” I hear people say today if they survived.
Trying to “keeping up with the Joneses” was unheard of. The Joneses were as poor as everybody else. It was a time when people who owned cars often borrowed license plates from another neighbor who owned one to go to town.
Then, World War II happened, Camp Bowie was built, people got jobs and started making money but everything was rationed and nobody could buy much, not even a new pair of shoes when they needed them. The speed limit in cars was 30 miles an hour but surprisingly, folks managed to reach their destination, as they do today at 80.
Eventually, the young men at Blanket went off to war and some didn’t come back. Those that did after seeing the world found Blanket a little too small and dull and they moved elsewhere. For several years now, some have been coming back, obviously looking for a small and dull place to live out their remaining years. Maybe they remember those double-dip ice cream cones for a dime.
Like the Indians at Salt Mountain, they too are gone.
Harry Marlin’s column is featured every Tuesday on the Brownwood Bulletin’s Viewpoint page. E-mail him at pilgrimB17@verizon.net.