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A Farm Girl Forever

Lessons Learned

Wanda Joyce Yohn

Largo, MD

Copyright © 2017 Wanda Joyce Yohn

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ISBN Smashwords Edition 9781562293451
ISBN Paperback 9781562293444

Unless otherwise indicated, Scriptures are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Scriptures marked KJV are taken from the King James Version of the Bible. Scriptures marked NKJV are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Scriptures marked Phillips are taken from the New Testament in Modern English by J.B Phillips copyright © 1960, 1972 J. B. Phillips. Administered by The Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England. Used by Permission.

A Memoir

A personal memoir requires a different style than a legal opinion. Neither is a memoir the same as a biography, which aims for the objective, factual account of a life. A memoir, as I understand it, makes no pretense of denying its subjectivity. Its matter is one person’s memory, and memory by nature is selective and colored by emotion. Others who participated in the events I describe will no doubt remember some details differently, though I hope we agree on the essential truths.

—Sonia Sotomayor

I agree. While my notes are different from what I would write for an accounting procedure or a Bible study, they are my memories. The readers may have different memories and may know of many events that I have forgotten or omitted, and that is OK with me.

—Wanda Yohn

I have documented my memories in this book primarily for my two sons and their families.

To my six granddaughters, who are strong Texas women, read my memories, set your own goals, and bring them to reality.


To my parents, L. C. Strawn and Odessa Wills Strawn

My father, L. C., gave me the love and pursuit of continual learning, encouraging me to always do my best. He bragged incessantly and challenged me to succeed. I have met many challenges and achieved many accomplishments because of his expectations, which have over time become my expectations.

My mother, Odessa, placed the highest priority on our attending church. Not being at church became an option only if someone was sick or a huge family event was planned. She made sure we were all in the right place every week to learn about salvation, faith, and upright living. My mother had a true servant’s heart and gave endlessly to her “neighbors”—not just those next door, but many others. And she taught me to cook.

Both my father and my mother left a profound, immeasurable influence on my sons, Steve and Ed, who often spent large amounts of time with them during the summers.

My parents, along with the influence of countless others along the way, formed me into the person I have become. I owe all of them, and many of you, boundless gratitude. May God bless you and use you!

L. C. Strawn

August 29, 1911 – September 16, 2001

Waterman, Shelby County, Texas – Tucumcari, Quay County, New Mexico

Eula Odessa Wills Strawn

April 22, 1914 – February 19, 2004

Oletha, Limestone County, Texas – Tucumcari, Quay County, New Mexico


Chapter 1– Early Memories

Chapter 2 – The ABCs of My School Days

Chapter 3 – In the Garden

Chapter 4 – Church and Faith

Chapter 5 –Honor, Mother; Honor, Father

Chapter 6 – Memories of My Grandparents

Chapter 7 – My Teen Years

Chapter 8 – Life in Oregon

Chapter 9 – On the Road Again

Chapter 10 – All in a Day’s Work

Chapter 11 – Texas-Bound

Chapter 12 – Family History

Chapter 13 – A Love Affair with Travel

Chapter 14 – Reflective Questions

Chapter 15 – Closing Thoughts

Chapter 16 – Giving Thanks

Chapter 17 – Quotes

Chapter 18 – Scrapbook Collection

Questions for the Reader


Chapter 1

Early Memories

My earliest memory, though brief, is crystal clear. It was dark on the evening of January 1, 1946, when my mother, my daddy, and I arrived at the two-room house near Tucumcari, New Mexico, that would be our home. That is the extent of this memory, two weeks before my third birthday—arriving in the dark at that house. It must have been an exciting time, as it is such a clear memory. Daddy certainly would have pursued this new adventure with the same enthusiasm he did many others throughout his life. I believe there was a light on inside the house; someone must have been waiting for us to arrive from Lubbock, Texas. My father had finished his military service and purchased irrigated farmland near Tucumcari. This farm was my parents’ home until they died many years later.

The little house was fifteen-by-twenty-four feet, with the kitchen and the sitting/sleeping area almost equal in size. The house was built between the time of purchase, in June 1944, and our permanent move from Texas. At first, there was no electricity or indoor toilet. We may have had running water in the kitchen sink because the house had a well, but I know we had an outhouse some distance away. I vividly remember the exact spot where it sat. To this day I keep an extra supply of toilet paper on hand at all times; I never want to have to use a Montgomery Ward catalog again! In the kitchen, we had an icebox—the predecessor of the refrigerator. The top part of the icebox held a large block of ice, which my daddy bought at the ice house in town. We kept the milk for drinking in the icebox.

Let There Be Light

Also, I can remember that getting electricity in the community was so exciting. Electricity was possible because of the Rural Electrification Administration (REA). The term REA always seemed to garner reverence.

The Rural Electrification Administration was created as a result of an executive order issued by Franklin D. Roosevelt in May 1935. In 1936, the US Congress endorsed his action and passed the Rural Electrification Act. Up until then electricity was widely available in cities but not on farms and in rural areas. The REA allowed farmers to form cooperatives, secure loans, and provide the transmission system and wiring necessary to provide electricity. It was one of the programs in Roosevelt’s Second New Deal. In 1939 the REA was put under the US Department of Agriculture. The farm in Tucumcari currently gets electricity from the Farmers’ Electric Cooperative in Clovis, one of nineteen in the New Mexico Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

About the same time that we got electricity on the farm, a bridge was constructed across Pajarito Creek on Highway 104 from Tucumcari to Las Vegas. I vaguely remember one event when there was no bridge, so it must have been 1946 or 1947. This occasion took place when my aunt, my mother, and my cousin were with me in a car driving from Tucumcari toward the farm. We must have thought the car would be able to cross the creek. However, the creek was flooding, and we stalled in the middle. I do not know how long we were stranded there, but I clearly recall that my aunt said, “Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.” She always had something funny to say.

Tucumcari is located within Quay County. When I learned the definition of the word quay, I wondered why a place located inland, nowhere near a coast or harbor, was named Quay County, but I never asked. I later learned it was named for Matthew Quay, a Civil War veteran and US senator from Pennsylvania who supported statehood for New Mexico. Quay County formed in 1903 and New Mexico became the forty-seventh state January 6, 1912. The coming of the railroad was the initial reason for establishing the town of Tucumcari. The completion of Conchas Dam with irrigation for the rich soil was the event that intrigued my father and prompted him to buy land and the reason my parents moved from Texas.

Farm Life

From our time in the two-room house, other memories have remained with me. We had chickens that appeared at the back door, near the kitchen, in the mornings. My mother told me they were coming to see if I was eating my eggs for breakfast. However, cereal has always been my favorite breakfast, more so than eggs. My mother served milk in her Little Bo Peep pitcher, one of my cherished possessions. Sugar and cream were on the table in our blue cut-glass set, another special treasure. The kitchen sink was on the west wall near the back door.

While we were living in the “little house,” which it was known as, my little sister was born. All four of us were not there long; a larger house was being built next door. We finally got an indoor toilet when we moved from the little house into our new home in April 1948.

We had a barn for the milk cows. At the time, we had a huge herd of them. The entire process was fascinating to me. It seems the barn held about ten or twelve cows at a time for milking. Even though the milking was done by machines, each cow had to be finished by hand or stripped. There was a separate room in the front where we kept the milk in large containers until it was delivered to the local creamery. In my father’s collection of stories, he says the herd was twenty-five cows, and he sold them in 1953.

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