"THE BEULAH MAE & MARVIN O'DELL MC CLURE YEARS"
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
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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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.
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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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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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
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.
(c) Taken from: "My Memories," written to my children, nieces & nephews. Charles McClure in Owasso, Oklahoma
|(c) and Contributed by: Charles McClure|
(c) All material contained on this site (within this document) is the work of Charles McClure.
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