"THE BEULAH MAE & MARVIN O'DELL MC CLURE YEARS"

Page Six

 
Pop and The Truth
Pop was bad about stretching the truth. He would raise his right  hand  and
swear on his mother's grave, that it was the God's  truth.  Then  he  would
lean a little closer, lower his voice a bit, open his eyes a little  wider,
point his finger at them and add, "If this goes any  further,  it's  a  dad
burn lie! This was many years before Grannies death. Everyone knew that  he
stretched the truth until it hurt, so his exaggerations didn't fool anyone.
I don't want you to get the wrong impression of Pop, because he did have  a
passing acquaintance with the truth. He just didn't want to get  too  close
to it.


Comic Books and Black Berries
Swapping comic books was one of the  great  joys  of  our  youth.  A  small
fortune passed through our hands, but how were we to know that comic  books
would be worth many times their face value  many  years  later.  
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Picking Black Berries
If a boy couldn't get money from his parents for a candy bar or a Pepsi, he
could earn enough for them by picking up pop or beer bottles, to be sold to
any of the merchants for a penny each. A large kraft grocery bag  of  small
tender polk salad leaves would bring a boy a whole nickel and a  gallon  of
blackberries was worth a dime to the picker. Believe me, it was  easier  to
pick the poke salad. (this was when a lot of people called a paper sack,  a
poke) Everyone loved blackberry cobblers, so we had no  trouble  selling  a
gallon of blackberries or dewberries. Aunt Jullean's family picked and sold
96 gallons of blackberries for $9.60 and were darn glad to get it!
  

Scrap Metal for the WWII
During the war all of the knuckleheads and even a few  of  the  hammerheads
collected and sold scrap iron for a penny a pound and copper  and  aluminum
went for a little more. When we spread out, there wasn't a piece  of  metal
in town that was sacred.
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Picking Cotton
Each fall (there was a special school break of several weeks,  for  picking
cotton) most all of the kids picked cotton, to earn money for their  school
clothes. We didn't mind picking,  because  we  could  move  down  the  rows
together, while talking or singing. (except Glenn, who hated picking almost
as much as getting out of the bed in the morning and  he  couldn't  sing  a
lick). It was really more like a party, once a person got into  the  rhythm
of it. But we did get tired of those  cold  baloney,  (round  steak)  fried
bacon and egg sandwiches. We usually stopped at Ward's store on the way  to
the field, to buy R.C. (Royal Crown Cola) and a Moon pie.  The  older  boys
loved picking, if there were some  girls  in  the  field.  Even  the  plain
looking ones are beautiful, when the boys are in their  teens.  I'll  never
forget the first time that I picked cotton at Mr. Lewis's. (Mildred (Lewis)
Lancaster's father) I had sewn two burlap bags together  and  used  one  of
Pop's old ties for a strap. After stuffing my sack full  I  headed  to  the
scales thinking there must be at least a hundred pounds in my cotton  sack.
You could have knocked me over with a feather when Mr. Lewis said you  have
19 pounds. I couldn't believe that I had torn up my hands for 19 cents.  At
the end of a very long day I walked home dog-tired with only 46 cents in my
jeans. While thinking this must be the most disappointing day of  my  life.
It wasn't!

Glenn and Dewey were always the winners at the card and dice games  in  the
cotton patch or  the  cherry  harvest  in  Traverse  City,  Michigan.  They
frequently ended up butting heads, after the  other  boys  had  lost  their
money. They would continue to play until one of  them  lost  all  of  their
money and then they would play for each other's clothes. Piece by piece and
also their cotton sack, which Glenn always threw in first. He never had any
love for that thing, anyway. They always worked out a  deal,  so  that  the
loser never had to go home without his clothes. They would regroup the next
day and start all over again. I'm sure that most of the farmers didn't care
much for our group, because we would all stop picking and  watch  the  game
when it got hot and heavy with a big winner. Dewey would pick up  a  storm,
when he wasn't in a game. (he made a good hand) I  can  honestly  say  that
Glenn picked some cotton each day. If only enough for a pillow at  the  end
of his cotton sack. The boy hated to sleep on a flat cotton  sack!  He  and
Pop usually had a verbal set to each day after we returned home, about  his
gambling and aversion to picking cotton.

Chopping cotton was something else, again, because a person had  to  assume
the same position for an eight hour period. Whereas with picking  cotton  a
person could crawl when their back was tired from bending over.
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Motels
Pop was never one to let money set idle. He had a bank account, but I never
knew of him having a savings account. His philosophy was, "Live  for  today
and let tomorrow take care of itself." (sort of a crap shooters approach to
life) This seemed to serve him well, because he always had enough money  to
pay his bill and was happy with his lifestyle. In later years he  and  Aunt
Lillie took short trips to the Grand Ole Opry, Odessa and  Hot  Springs.  I
completed the second phase as a physical therapy tech at the Army and  Navy
Hospital Hospital in Hot Springs in 1953.

It was interesting that  when  we  stopped  for  the  night  at  a  tourist
court/cabins (as motels were called then) the folks would always check  for
bedbugs before renting. Thank goodness, we  can  now  sleep  tight  and  no
longer have to worry about the bedbugs biting tonight.
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Kids Games
We made some of the items that we used in our games as kids.  For  instance
slingshots. We also made rubber guns, stilts, kites and hoop-n-paddle, that
we rolled all over town. We would stomp two oil-cans (they were still  made
of metal then) at the lower in-step of our shoes and walk  all  over.  They
made a big noise on the sidewalk. Rolling an old tire was a lot of fun,  if
you weren't the one inside it. Come spring, marbles, kites, tops and knives
(for mumble-peg) seemed to sprout out of the ground and sky.  Some  of  the
tops had a ball bearing in the tip but most of us preferred the top with  a
pointed tip, which we would sharpen to a fine point with a file or  on  the
sidewalk. Then we would try to spike the center of another top,  hoping  to
split it open. This was difficult to do, but occasionally  one  of  us  got
lucky, depending on which top was yours.

Our Monopoly games were always at  the  Chapman  home.  Know  why?  It  was
because Teddy was the only boy in our gang with this game.  I'm  sure  that
Mrs. Chapman wondered at times if we didn't have a home after a  game  went
on for hours. But she was always a good sport about it.

Being boys, we did some dangerous and foolish things in our youth. Such  as
the B-B gun and rock fights, with the boys who rode the school bus. I don't
believe that anyone ever lost an eye, although some of us did receive a few
lumps from the rocks. Alley Oop gave me a big lump on my noggin and he  was
supposed to be one of the good guys. We would  climb  some  of  the  larger
trees close to the cotton gin and swing from one tree limb to another, then
ride it to the ground. A lot of our activities seemed to revolve around the
cotton gin during  it's  off-season.  Another  fun  sport  was  riding  the
saplings in the woods northwest of town. The saplings were extremely  tall,
skinny trees, that would bend when we climbed to the top of them  and  then
we would ride them to the ground.

Playing cowboy and indians was a game that  we  could  never  seem  to  get
enough of. We would even let the girls play, if they didn't want to be  Roy
Rogers, although one of the boys always wanted to be Dale Evans.  I  wonder
what ever happen to him? Bob Steele was my favorite  cowboy.  Glenn  and  I
received cowboy outfits one year from Santa and had  a  ball  chasing  each
other around the house with our bare butts hanging out. The chaps were like
pants, minus the seat.

Later all of the boys played cards at the cotton gin or the boys toilet  at
school for matches or penny ante. We played cards,  dice,  pitched  pennies
and larger coins and played hulley gulley (how many of  marbles  or  coins)
for higher stakes as we entered our teens, except Glenn, who started on his
fifth birthday. It could never be said that Booger Hollowell  had  a  poker
face, because when he was dealt an exceptionally good  hand  he  would  dry
wash them, almost rub the skin off of his hands and did everything but  the
St.Vitus Dance.

The most dangerous thing that we did was crawling  through  those  unstable
tunnels in the old sawdust pile. This is where we  went  to  find  foxfire,
which is a soft, light-weight, moist, punk wood that glows in the dark.  So
perhaps it's just as well that the kids of today are not exposed to some of
the dumb activities of yesteryear, but they were all  fun,  especially  the
rubber gun wars.
------------------------------------------------------------------------ FACTS: In 1903 The average life expectancy in the US was forty-seven In 1903 the average US worker made between $200 and $400 per year. -------------------------------------------------------------------------


(c) Taken from: "My Memories," written to my children, nieces & nephews. Charles McClure in Owasso, Oklahoma
(c) and Contributed by: Charles McClure


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