Excerpt for A Tale That Is Told: The Autobiography of Opal Earp Pounds by , available in its entirety at Smashwords



by Opal Earp Pounds

Edited by

Geraldine Pounds Robideaux and Wayne Pounds

Published by

Wayne Pounds at Smashwords

Copyright 2017 Geraldine Robideaux

Table of Contents

Editorial Note

Ch. 1: A Tale That Is Told

Ch. 2: The Gusher: A Short Story

Ch. 3: Family History Notes

Coda by the Editors

Web Site

Editorial Note

Opal left behind three manuscript documents about her life. “A Tale That is Told” is the longest and most complete, but two other excursions exist. The earliest is a short piece she called “Down Memory Lane,” which has been collated with “A Tale That Is Told” and does not appear here as a separate text. The third takes the form of a short story that she hoped to publish. It has no title, so we have called it “The Gusher” and placed it at the end. It sometimes repeats information in the first part of “A Tale That Is Told,” but many of the details are new.

The Home Place about 1910 (above).

Chapter 1: A Tale That is Told

As I begin this little composition I am reminded of the words of the Psalmist David. “We spend our years as a tale that is told. The days of our years are three score years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off and we fly away” (Ps. 90:9-10). David’s years were filled with many conflicts, defeats and victories and in them all, his praises to God never ceased. Like David I longed after a relationship with God in my youth but never really found that fount of blessing until I was a young mother thirty-three years old, but I’m getting ahead of my story.

I was born to Hugh Ernest Earp and Arlie Avenell Flatt Earp in Stigler, (Haskell Co.) Oklahoma on June 5, 1920, the second of four children she was to bear to him. A brother, Ernest Faye Earp, was three years old at the time. We also had a half-brother, Kenneth Hugh Earp, who was a few years older than us.

My first memories are of the home northwest of Stroud, which was the first home of all the Earps in Oklahoma Territory, called now the “Home Place.” I understand that my Grandfather didn’t win it in the great land run of 1891 but purchased it soon afterwards from a man who had staked a claim on it. The farm is located three miles north of Stroud and about two and a half miles west and then north again for half a mile.

I remember a cement porch on the east and a screened in porch on the west. Just outside on the west was a dirt covered cellar. I remember a little stream that ran along the east over rocks where my older brother Ernie and I played and waded in the cool clear water. Also a red barn with a loft full of sweet smelling hay where we romped. Many times I fell out of the loft and thought I was going to die because I couldn’t get my breath. Why didn’t I learn there was a hole there by the ladder where Daddy threw down hay for the horses?

Then there was the day that Ernie and I killed a big black snake. We left it by the side of the barn but when we came back a few hours later to exult over our kill, the snake had disappeared. We puzzled about that for days. But in later years we realized we must have only stunned the snake.

It was here on the old home place that my sister Vera Dene and my brother Wendel were born. My Daddy had sent us three older ones upstairs out of the way, but like curious kids we sat on the stairs listening and wondering why we were banished from the downstairs. Soon we heard the cries of a new baby brother. Wendel came to live among us that day.

I remember visiting Grandmother and Grandfather Earp and our half-brother Kenneth when they lived on the “Old Trail.” Grandmother’s old Rhode Island rooster chased us and Dena was especially afraid of it. We were also apprehensive around Kenneth’s big brindle-and-white bull dog until someone poisoned him. I’ll never forget how he suffered, slobbering, foaming at the mouth. What a terrible way for an animal to die.

Kenneth was born to Hugh and his first wife Lenna Wilburn Earp on Nov. 30, 1914 at Stroud, Oklahoma. Lenna died when Kenneth was 7 days old from blood poisoning. I was told by Mother that the doctor who delivered Lenna had come from helping to deliver a cow and his hands were not clean. In those days they didn’t understand too much about germs. Lenna is buried in the Black Cemetery north of Stroud, presumably on the Black farm. When I was a child we used to go there yearly so that Daddy could help care for the cemetery and the grave.

As a result of Lenna’s death Grandmother Earp took Kenneth and nursed him back to health as he too was very ill as a result of his mother’s blood poisoning. The grandparents became so attached to him that at the time of my parents’ marriage, when Kenneth was two years old, it was breaking their hearts to part with him. So my Dad quit taking him to his new home and told his Mother that since she had cared for Kenneth when he could not, so she could keep him. In my opinion that was the greatest mistake Dad ever made, for Kenneth grew up without the family circle. Grandmother loved him too much and spoiled him. She was left a widow when Kenneth was ten and she was sixty-four. How does an old lady cope with a teenaged boy?

I remember going to Grandmother’s and finding her in distress many times in those years because she didn’t know where Kenneth was. Daddy would go up town and find him, bring him home, and give him a strapping. I’ve always felt that Kenneth should have been in our home when we came along. I wonder did he ever feel abandoned and unwanted by his only parent? We never really knew him like a brother until he married Laura. But that is another story, and I must return to the present one.

One Saturday evening, I may have been three or four years old, I remember going home with my grandparents the Flatts, mother’s parents. We rode home from Stroud in a wagon. Grandpa had bought me a sack of candy. He was my favorite Grandpa. He was always holding me on his lap and kissing me while his coffee stained mustache tickled my face. He was a loving person. I don’t remember how old I was when I got too big to sit on his lap but I never got too big to kiss. Anyway, I was so happy and felt so important to be going home with them all by myself. But the next morning I was homesick and cried so, I had to be taken home.

It was on the old home place that I started to school at a little one-room school called Buttermilk. My cousin Ruby McDaniels [born 1906, daughter of Ocie Ann Flatt and Homer McDaniel] was the teacher that year. We had to walk one and a half miles to school and because of leg-ache pains I didn’t go too often.

Opal, 1929 (above)

I remember coming home from school one afternoon and the water bucket was empty, so I proceeded to the well for a drink. It so happened that the well handle was held on by a bolt and not knowing it was about ready to fall out, I proceeded to pump. The bolt came out and the iron pump handle hit me on the forehead and split my head open. I began to scream and my screams awakened a driller who was rooming with us. He slept in the day and worked nights on the oil derrick which was drilling on the home farm at that time. He put me in his car and we started for town, but my folks came home about then and they took me into Stroud to the doctor, who fixed me up with some stitches. I still wear the scar today from that mishap.

I remember catching the excitement of the first oil well drilled on the Home Place where we were living. What a great day it was for everyone when it blew in a gusher. Black oil was sprayed all around. My dad had been working with his team and a slip helping to build that pond that always afterward was to be known as the Carter Pond because it was the Carter Oil Company that drilled the first well. As I have mentioned, the driller was rooming with us. He and Dad had become good friends. He was also an A-one type of guy. He realized the Earp family was a hard working group and just very good all-around people, but he had orders not to bring the well in but to shut it down and proclaim a dry hole. But for the sake of the family for whom he had formed an attachment, he determined to bring it in. He told my Dad what he planned to do. He brought it in up to the point where it would blow itself in and then went home and went to bed. He said to my dad, “It will blow in by morning.” And sure enough by morning it was blowing over the top of the wooden rig. (See photo in the story "The Gusher.")

That was a time of rejoicing. Grandfather Earp died before the well came in but he had said that if there was oil there, he wanted each of his six sons to have a new Model-A Ford and line up to have their picture made for him. He wanted all of his six sons to line up in their new Model A’s. He knew that was the first thing they would all buy. And it was. But my Grandfather didn’t get to see that day as he died before even knowing that oil was found on his farm.

After the well came in, I remember the first vacation I ever had. We went with Uncle Obe and his family in our new car to Hot Springs, Arkansas. Our parents took hot baths in the famous mineral springs there. We stayed in real motels and ate “store-bought” meals.

As a result of the first well, many others were drilled on the farms around and much oil was taken out of that field. My Grandmother, as the main heir, came into a small fortune. She gave all of her eleven children $20,000 apiece. They each bought a good bottom farm except for her daughter, Aunt Coy Miller, who was a widow. Grandmother built a nice new home in Stroud for herself and Kenneth. Aunt Coy built a house exactly like it on the opposite corner. Grandmother also built the Church of God in Stroud.

Aunt Ina and her husband bought a farm close to Bristow. Uncles Obe and John bought near Midlothian. Uncle Earlie bought near Sparks, Uncle Otto bought north of Stroud, and Uncle Claud bought the Old Earp Homestead from Grandmother. Also Aunt Ona, who was a teacher, bought wheat land in Vega, Texas. She and her husband never farmed as they were both teachers and lived and taught in Oklahoma City.

My Daddy bought the old Jackson farm on South Fifth Street in Chandler that adjoins the old golf course on the north edge of Chandler. It has been known as the Jarvis Place for years. I was six and had been going some to the little country school I mentioned, but in Chandler I started to school to Miss Ola Faye Armstrong. I didn’t make it that year under Miss Faye. I took the first grade again the next year. She was a great teacher. Later two of my children would be first graders under her tutoring. We lived on that farm for five years. They were good years. We had lots of friends up and down the streets.

At that time in the Tilghman Park there were two swimming pools. One for pre-school, which was free, and one for adults, who had to pay. We would go swimming in the small pool for free and then slip over into the larger one. I’m sure we all learned to swim by that maneuver. We would peddle Mother’s tomatoes to the neighbors for spending money, and also deliver milk in glass quart bottles every evening on our milk routes. My Dad always kept lots of cows and we all learned to milk them early in life. He taught us to work and the old work ethic became a part of our lives. But life wasn’t all work. There was always time for play too. Mother was always a lot of fun. She could play softball and horseshoes with the best of us. Dad too joined in the fun.

It was sometime during those five years while we lived in Chandler that Grandmother lost the family fortune. My Grandmother was an old-fashioned, shouting Church of God lady. A holy woman and righteous. She was also a widow of not much education and very trusting and naïve. When two salesmen came by offering her a great investment in gold mine stock, they persuaded her first of all that they were Christians. They would offer thanks at her table and get on their knees and pray with her like a Wesley.

She believed they were who they said they were and with the help of her banker, who my Dad always said was in on the scam, over a period of some weeks they persuaded her to buy their gold stock. Some of her children did their best to keep her from buying, even chasing the men off when they found them there. More than once Kenneth would call Dad and say, “Those men are here again.” Dad would tie up his team at the end of the field, get in his car and rush to Stroud, and run them off by threatening their lives, but they always came back. Grandmother would be very unhappy at him for that. The children talked of putting her under a guardian but in order to accomplish that all eleven of them would have had to sign the paper, and some of them didn’t want to do that to her.

At the same time they were getting Grandmother’s money in this way, they were also selling her daughter Coy, who lived across from her, their worthless stock. She too was a widow and a Christian and they persuaded her to believe in their integrity. Once, at the end of all this, Dad and his brother Vernie followed the men to Tulsa, and with their guns threatening to blow their lights out they retrieved $10,000. I’m not sure if that was Grandmother’s money or Aunt Coy’s. Aunt Coy had to take in sewing the rest of her life to support herself and her daughter. The great bulk of Grandmother’s money was gone, but she always had an income from her royalties. She lived to be ninety-nine years old. She didn’t leave us any money but she left us a rich Christian heritage. I bless her memory.

As I said, we lived five years in Chandler. Then my Dad sold the farm there and bought another three miles south of Agra. He said town living was going to ruin us kids and he had to get us to the county. We loved living there in the Columbia community of Agra and going to school in the two-room school house. At that time Winifred George taught the first four grades, and Hugh Baird taught fifth through eighth. I was in the fifth at that time. My best friend was Naomi George, who was also in the fifth. There was a Friends Church in the community, and our social lives were enhanced by attendance there and by all the other activities that the community afforded. There were pie suppers, sewing parties, revivals, and ice cream socials. It seems there was always something going on for the young people, well chaperoned by our elders, of course. I shall never forget the friends we made in Columbia Community or the good times we had there. We always had good fellowship with our neighbors, the Georges, who lived up the hill from us. They were a great family of eight children, mother and father and aged grandmother.

We started to high school at Agra High, riding the school bus morning and evening. Ernest was a senior the year I was a freshman. My first boyfriend was Chester Key. We double dated with a couple called Willie Williamson and Ruby Watkins, who later married.

Opal, 1934 (above).

There was an outside Baptist revival in our community the year I was fifteen. It was held by a Rev. Hatchett, who was also Principal of Agra High and pastor of the Agra Baptist Church. Among others who were converted to Christ in that meeting was my sister Vera Dene and myself. I’m not sure about my conversion but I did repent and believe. We wanted to be baptized afterward but it seems Baptists only baptize into their church. Our folks would not hear of that so they took us to the Stroud Church of God one Sunday morning, and we both joined the Church and that afternoon were baptized in the old Carter Pond that my dad had helped to build ten years earlier.

In my sophomore year my Dad and his brother Vernie traded for a farm. We moved back to Chandler again. The farm he traded for was one mile north, half a mile west, and then half a mile north of Chandler. It was heart breaking to take leave of my friends at Columbia and Agra High. It was lonely and sad to start back into school at Chandler. I found that all my old friends that I used to play with had grown up too, had acquired new friends and new interests, but worst of all was to find and to feel that I didn’t belong anymore. But after I got over my lonesomeness for old friends and Agra and began to enter into the spirit of Chandler High, I began to feel that I belonged again. I began to see the advantage of this high school over Agra and to feel that my Father had done the right thing in moving back to Chandler. I was about seventeen at this time.

Catching the school bus was no easy feat in those days. My Dad always kept a large herd of milk cows. We were up at daylight putting feed into their individual troughs. Each cow knew her own stall. When she put her head into the stanchion and bean to eat, we fastened the stanchion on her neck until she was milked. In the spring and winter Dad had green wheat fields for them to run on. Usually their bowels got very runny on the green wheat and their tails got nasty. It wasn’t any fun to get swatted across the face with such as that. I hated it. In the summer their tails got infested with cockleburs, and that hurt enough to make you angry. Sometimes while sitting on the three-legged milk stool you could catch and hold that cocklebur tail between your thigh and calf.

When the milking was done, the milk had to be separated. You strained the milk into the separator tank, turned the handle, and the milk was separated from the cream. It took two of us to do this as one turned the handle while the other strained the milk and changed the buckets when they were full. Then the calves had to be fed, and often there was a new born one who had to be taught to drink. You did this by putting your hand into the bucket of warm milk and letting the calf suck your fingers until he learned the drinking process. Three or four times and he usually had it down pat. By this time Mother had breakfast ready.

Then we made our own lunches, got cleaned up and dressed, and walked a half mile to the corner. If the bus driver saw us coming he would wait, but if we were late he went on. We were left to walk the mile and three quarters to school. We tried hard not to miss the bus. By the time we on the bus it was loaded. There was a large group of kids in the back who seemed always to be having a great old time. They were from the Oak Grove community and had known each other for many years. I envied them. They always seemed to be having so much fun. As we were the last ones on, we were the first ones off in the evening. When we go off at the first stop, we went out the back door. There was this young man on the bus who always seemed to manage to flip me on the behind as I got off. I later learned his name was Archie Pounds. More about him later.

When we got home from school the first thing we did was to change our clothes. We had chore clothes and chore shoes to wear. One kept her school clothes clean for the next day. There was wood and chips to carry in, eggs to gather, cows to get in from the pasture, milking, separating, calf feeding, milk buckets to wash, water to pump and carry to the house, and lamp chimneys to clean. Finally, when we were all finished Mother had a big pan of cornbread and fresh milk ready for our supper. It was always so good and we were always so hungry, even though we had already eaten everything in sight in the kitchen when we got in from school.

We each had our assigned chores but naturally we had a good bit of sibling rivalry. My sister Vera Dene and I seemed never to get along too well even though we shared the same room and the same bed. We were nearly the same age and the same size but very different in personality. She was always rather tomboyish and hated housework and cooking. I guess I was a little more feminine and loved to try my hand at cooking. She was always outgoing in personality and had lots of friends, while I was of a quiet nature and mostly liked a special friend. Looking back I guess I was a little jealous of her and I always considered her prettier than me. She had lots of pride and she and Mother always liked to fix up and pretty up as much as possible, while I was minus that pride and was considered, even by Mother, as “common Opal.”

Ernie was the dreamer. He was always dreaming about exotic places and faraway lands that he was going to visit someday. He was always good natured and helpful. I can never remember quarreling or having a fight with Ernie, though he liked to hide around the corner of the barn and let you have a surprise corncob on your head, and he liked it even better if the corncob was wet. But it was always in fun. Ernie hated the farm so when he graduated from Agra High at eighteen, Dad decided to send him to Hills Business School. Of course, he had to get a job to help out.

He got a job “busting suds”--washing dishes in a cafe. He wasn’t happy at that so he took a job as a traveling book salesman and headed toward California. He arrived broke and no job so he worked picking fruit and picking up almonds while pawning his clothes to live. He did that for a few months, and then one day we looked down the road and saw this dirty, ragged tramp-looking fellow with worn out shoes coming in at the gate. It was Ernie. Hungry and broke, but he had seen some of the world, even to getting himself locked in a freight train boxcar and stranded on a railroad spur. By good grace someone came along and heard him yelling and pounding inside the car and let him out. He had been asleep when he was stranded. After that he joined the Army.

Wendel was my pal, my sidekick, a sweet little kid but with a temper when riled. He was easy to love and to get along with. Loved horses and loved the farm, and very intelligent. Perhaps the most intelligent of the four of us. Since Dad saw that he loved the farm and because he was the only one of us left at home and Dad really did need him on the farm, he talked him into quitting school his sophomore year by giving him a start of farming animals, a team, and some dairy stock. I think he even gave him $50 a week for spending. After about a year and a half, World War II broke out. Wendel was only seventeen and couldn’t join the war effort without parental approval, so he sold his farming start and he and Dena headed to California to work in a defense plant. When he was eighteen they came home and he joined the Marine Paratroopers, while Vera Dean went to Tulsa to work in a defense plant helping to build airplanes. In the meantime she had been dating a handsome young man named Ted Phillips. When the war started Ted enlisted in the Air Corps, but they corresponded throughout the war, and when it was over they were married and went to live in Lovington, New Mexico.

When I was about seventeen years old, Kenneth married a girl called Laura Withers. I’ll never forget the day he brought her to our home to meet all us us. She didn’t know until after they were married that he had any family but Grandmother, and when she did hear of us she wanted to meet us. Through Laura we all came to know Kenneth and to love him as a brother. Until then he had seemed like a fancy cousin that we didn’t know very well and didn’t care about knowing any better. Laura was such a sweet and lovely young lady that her loving and laughing ways soon endeared her to all of us and we knew that she genuinely cared about us. They moved to Chandler after that and they spent many Sundays with us. We discovered the brother that we never really had known very well and found him to be a pretty special person. There was a new bonding that happened between all of us. His job took them to Oklahoma City for a while and then to Dallas. Kenneth had graduated from Draughn’s Business School and was an accountant. After they moved to Dallas two beautiful children were born to them, Susan and Kenny. We didn’t see much of them after that. Perhaps once or twice a year.

I understand that Kenneth began to have a drinking problem as the years passed along. He died with an aneurism in his fifty-ninth year. I’ve always believed that this problem had its roots in a sense of rejection that he must have had as a child growing up. Was he a lonesome little boy? Did he feel unwanted and unloved by his family? Did my Dad make a terrible mistake by giving the boy to his aging grandparents? Surely they should have thought of the welfare of the child. We’ll never really know the answer to all of our questions, but I’ll always be happy and thankful for Laura, who brought our brother back to us. At his funeral Laura told me that he knew he couldn’t live long and had made all arrangements for his funeral and burial.

She also told me, for she knew that I was very anxious to know, that she had overheard him praying several times in a back bedroom. He had lived with a praying Grandmother and had been saved himself when he was a teenager, so I know that he understood the way back to God. And knowing God as a God of great Mercy, I believe that I will meet Kenneth again on the streets of the New Jerusalem when the mists have rolled away. Where there will be no more heartaches, no more tears, and no more rejection.

When I was growing up it was a habit of farmers to take Saturday afternoon off from work and go to town to do their weekly shopping. Saturday was called “butter and egg day,” when the farmers brought their cream, eggs, and produce to town to trade for necessities that they could not raise. It was a nice break from work and on Saturday afternoon the streets of Chandler would be crowded with farm families. Mothers and fathers shopping and boys and girls walking up and down streets, in and out of stores, looking for the best bargain to spend their nickel on if they were lucky enough to have one. Sometimes we would get just pennies to spend and that would take careful shopping of just a penny here and a penny there. Sometimes there was no penny but we were just happy to be in town with so many of our friends. It was on just such a Saturday afternoon that my friend Christina Hurst (who later became my sister-in-law) was sitting in my Dad’s car visiting and watching people when this certain young man came down the street, the one who had flipped my behind when I exited the school bus. Christina honked the horn at him and he came to the car to visit with her for a few minutes.

After he had gone on down the street, I happened to say to her that I would like to have a date with that good-looking guy. I didn’t know that she would tell him what I had said but she must have tattled on me the next time she saw him, for not long after that he drove up to our door in his Dad’s Model A Ford. Wendel and I were on the back porch separating the milk when he came, and I had just gone in the house. Wendel shut off the separator and came in to say that there was a young man outside who wanted to see me. It was Archie Pounds come to ask me to go to the football game with him. He had just come by to see if I meant what I had said to Chris. Now in high school during football season we had pep rallies before Friday night games. Everyone got the old school spirit. I had never been to a game and didn’t know the first thing about it but of course I wanted to go.

Now a strange thing happened on our first date. Archie had given his then girlfriend Fern Suggs fifty cents to buy two tickets for the game. She evidently pocketed the fifty cents and brought him two outdated tickets. She must have thought they wouldn’t be going to the game as there was something going on at the Oak Grove school house. He did take her to the school house but decided to go to the game and also to see if Opal Earp really meant what she had said to her friend. He says he almost lost his nerve and drove past our road but thought, “what the heck, she can do no more than say no.” But she didn’t say no. When we came to the gate at the game, I went on in ahead of him, but when he gave his two tickets to Miss Gillian, who was the payee, also our high school math teacher, she said, “Archie, I’m sorry, I can’t accept these tickets. These are for last week’s game.” He just happened to have a lone fifty cent piece in his pocket. He told me a long time afterward that if he had not had the fifty cents he would have been so embarrassed that he would have turned and left. I don’t believe he would have because I couldn’t have gone in either and had no way to get home. I think he would have explained about Fern and we would have done something else. That was the beginning of our friendship. We had to contend with Fern all along the way.

The following Saturday night we double-dated with another couple. Again we had a problem. We went to a country dance and on the way home Archie’s Dad’s car broke down. Instead of calling home for help, which we could have done, Archie decided to wait for a friend of his who was supposed to come home from his date on this same road where we were stranded. The four of us had a good time talking and laughing and playing with a kitten which we found in the road while the time went by. Finally at about 1:30 a.m. the friend came by and took me home. My Dad was up in his nightshirt, the light was on, and he was irate when I came in. He was ready to lay the leather on me but my Mother believed my story and persuaded Dad that I wasn’t lying. She reminded him that I wasn’t in the habit of lying. Good for me that I wasn’t. He finally calmed down and went back to bed but not before he had ordered me not to see that young man again.

So we just wrote to each other for a few weeks until Dad relented. I really liked Archie. He was a lot of fun, well mannered, treated me like a lady, honest, hard working, and good looking. Sometimes he brought along his guitar and played and sang love songs to me. We rode around in his Dad’s car on Sundays. I met his parents and was invited to Sunday dinner. I loved to be with him. I had dated other guys but Archie was special. A little jealous--no dating others, just him. I was a senior and he had graduated the year before. He was my date for the Junior-Senior Banquet. I’m sure there were some jealous ex-girlfriends there because he had dated a lot of girls. Especially Fern. She didn’t give up easily.

The first year after Archie graduated from high school he stayed at home and helped his Dad on the farm. He yearned to go to college at Oklahoma Baptist University at Shawnee to become a history teacher but there was no money and no job to be had at the school. In the spring of his last year at home his Mother had pneumonia. She was ill and for weeks not expected to live. Sarah quit school to care for her mother, and Bessie and Earl Strong came home to help out. They were all so weary from losing sleep and working night and day. One day Archie laid down on the floor to rest and fell asleep. While he was asleep, Fern came by (she lived about a mile west of them) and stole my class ring off of his finger. When he woke and realized he had lost it, he was frantic. He searched everywhere and when he learned that Fern had been there while he slept he just knew she must have it. He was afraid I would get in trouble for letting him wear it.

My class ring had cost $9.00 at the time I graduated, and my Dad just couldn’t see paying so much for a ring. It happened that he had a sow that had a litter of pigs and died. Dad agreed to give me a pig to buy my ring with if I would raise the litter. I carried many buckets of milk and slop to them until they were nearly grown. He was true to his promise and gave me the shoat, which he sold for me and I ordered my 1939 class ring. Was I ever proud of it! Archie came by one day to tell me how he got it back. Seems he invited Fern to go to Oak Grove with to some kind of affair. She was glad to go. When he got there he parked outside the schoolhouse to visit with her. He told her he knew she had my class ring and he had to get it back or he was in trouble with my Dad. He said to her, “If you will give it to me, I promise to break up with Opal, and you and I will get back together.” She reached somewhere in a pocket and held out her hand. In it was my ring. He took it, then opened the passenger side door and said, “Now get out.” He then took his foot and shoved her to help her get out. That was the last trouble we had with Fern. She had played her last card and it wasn’t a trump. Later she went to California and we heard she married.

Archie belonged to the National Guards. They met once a month, and each year they went off to bivouac for two weeks. That fall while they were gone he had pneumonia and wasn’t supposed to come back when the Guard did because he was ill. When all the guys were back and I hadn’t seen or heard from him, and I had heard that he had pneumonia, my Daddy saw me crying and said, “why I believe she loves that guy.” I was so sad and my heart hurt and it was the first time that I knew that I loved him. Later, when he told me he loved me and asked me to marry him some day, I was happy to say yes. He said I was the one he had been looking for, and I knew he was the only one I wanted. He gave me a small diamond engagement ring. I was mighty proud of it.

In the meantime he had gone to work for Boggs Mercantile Store for $9.00 a week. The hours were long and the work very demanding, but in those days lots of people were out of work and jobs were scarce. The first thing he bought for himself was a 1934 Ford coupe. It was teal green with black fenders, and he came driving up to our place with that coonskin tail tied to the chrome greyhound of the radiator cap. In his very own wheels and that big grin on his face--my, he was a sight to be seen. We were so proud of that little car!

We were married January 14, 1940. The day before, which was Saturday, he managed to buy the license and engage the preacher. My Mother bought me new shoes and a beautiful new dress. It was silk crepe of navy blue, with tiny covered buttons down the front to the waist, short capped sleeves, and the caps trimmed in white fur.

Archie and Opal, wedding photo (above).

Mom Pounds fixed a wonderful wedding dinner for us and invited my family. Archie’s family were all there, including Bessie and Earl who were living in Chandler at the time. That afternoon Archie had to go to his National Guard meeting, but come sundown we tried to make an escape but were stopped before we got to the highway. Two carloads of young people turned us around and made us go to my home. It was good Archie had bought a lot of candy and cigars because we really got chivareed. They came from town, from Stony Point, from Oak Grove, and all around. I didn’t know how everyone knew we were getting married but word like that gets around. They brought their cowbells, horns, and anything that would make a big noise. The highlight was that the bride and groom must kiss. They stood us up on a cream can (I don’t know yet how we got our feet planted on that cream can lid without falling off), but their hands were helping us stay put and we brought it off. Archie didn’t want to pass out treats until the Oak Grove gang got there, and they weren’t coming until after church. We tried to hide in the bedroom but we were discovered hiding under the covers in my bedroom. Two guys were there who everyone called the Oakley twins--big guys they were--and they decided to dunk Archie in the horse tank. Remember it was winter and ice was two to three inches thick on the tank, but his brother Melvin stood in the outside door with two doubled up fists and warned that the first one who tried to would have to do it over his clenched fists. They backed off then. Thank God they did. It was a great chivaree!

Next we had to find a place to live. After about a week of living with family we heard of an older couple, the Williamses, who wanted to sell out and move to California. We went to see them. They rented us their small three-room house for $5.00 a month, and we bought their little antique cook stove, and a green three-legged icebox (the forth leg was a small wooden block). Archie had already purchased a little table and four chairs while living at Bessie and Earl’s. He and Earl had put the chairs together and in doing so Earl had broken a leg on one. They had painted them green. Also green was an old fashioned cabinet, which we had for years afterwards. Archie also owned a bed and dresser. We bought the Williams’ living room articles which consisted of an old fashioned duofold which folded out into a bed, two rocking chairs, and a king wood heater. Our friend Jim Gardner gave us two pairs of nice lace panels for the living room. I used them for years.

First year of marriage, 1940 (above).

Also we bought about twelve young pullets from them--all this for $25.00. We were rich except there was no water well on the place, and Archie had to haul drinking water from the school house nearby. He to fill ten gallon cream cans and load and unload them in the trunk of the car. My Dad had given us $25.00 and a nice jersey cow, and Archie’s Dad gave him a nice jersey heifer. The Oak Grove group had given us a wedding shower. So we started up housekeeping on our own. I never liked that antique cook stove, so early on we ordered a pretty oil burning white cook stove with a real oven. We ordered it from the Spiegel Catalog for a few dollars a month. I loved that stove and used it for years. It was beautiful.

Bell Cow Creek ran past the place, so I carried water from the creek to water the chickens and for other purposes. One night I forgot to fasten the chickens up and a varmint got in and relieved me of them. Wendel brought his team over in the spring and plowed up a garden spot. It wasn’t a very successful garden. Archie and Otie Simpson, who was our neighbor on the west, shared rides to work as they both worked for Boggs. That left me the car. I couldn’t drive as my Dad never let any of us drive his car except Mother. So what happened? I learned to drive. I would drive over to see my folks which was about a mile away on dirt roads. Then one day I got real brave and drove into town. That was a milestone and I’ve been herding one around ever since. Still not a good driver but I manage.

The next best thing that happened was that I got pregnant. When I was about five months, we moved into town. We found a little place about a block and a half from Boggs where we could keep our cow. We had running water, electricity, and natural gas. How wonderful! Archie could run home for lunch. What a nice change.

Then there was the baby coming. We were over anxious. We both hoped for a boy but didn’t know what having a baby was all about. I just wanted to go home to Mama. So when I thought I had about a week to go, we went to Mother’s. It was more like three to four weeks before he made his appearance on March 24, 1941--a nine pound and ten ounce boy, whom we named A.M. after his Daddy. He was the first grandchild of my family, and we all loved him so much and spoiled him not a little. In about two weeks we took him home. He was a very good baby and we were proud parents. When he laughed he had a deep dimple in his cheek. So precious.

Tacker Bridge over Deep Fork south of Chandler, 1941 (above).

Archie’s Grandpa Pounds died when A.M. was four months old. He had been making his home with Bessie and Earl and had no home of his own. After his death they moved to Tulsa and we moved into their house on West 5th Street for a few months. Then we moved back to the country again. Back to kerosene lamps and wood heaters and carrying water uphill from a windmill. The place belonged to Doc Adams and was about a half mile east of our first home. A.M. was about eight months old when Ernie came to tell me good-bye. He was home on leave but as war was declared on Japan his leave was canceled and he had to report back to base immediately. He was sent immediately to Alaska as they expected the Japanese to try to get through to the States from there. They did bomb Alaska but didn’t do a lot of damage. From there he was transferred to Walla Walla, Washington. While there he wrote to Christine Hurst and asked her to come to Walla Walla and marry him. She did and they were married. She and Dena had been employed in a plant building airplanes for defense. They had been rooming together.

When Japan attacked Hawaii on December 7, 1941, America was ill prepared for war. The whole nation had to be mobilized and while we were preparing ourselves the Japanese were taking all of the South Sea islands and everything else they could gobble up. Also Hitler’s Germany was doing the same in Europe. Soon we were fighting two wars on two different fronts. We won the war through the blood of our sons and the fierce patriotism of our countrymen. Our men and boys went off to fight and the women and disabled went to the defense plants. Some men who had families were left on the farm. “An army travels on its stomach” is a true saying. By the time the Chandler National Guard was called up we were on the farm. Archie was well trained, as were all the Guard, and he was raring to go, but his folks and I talked him out of it. He had a child and was on the farm, so he was reclassified from 1A to 2A. He still sometimes regrets that he didn’t go. He nearly did go, though. When we finally had talked him out of it, he went to see his sergeant to ask for his papers to be taken removed from the envelope. The sergeant said he had just mailed them all in, but if his papers were still in the Post Office he could get them for him. They went to see and they hadn’t been sent on. If they had been, there would not have been anything he could have done about it. A close call.

Archie’s long range goal was to be a farmer and someday to own our own farm. In January 1942 Archie’s Dad asked us to come and move in with them and he would help us get started farming. Without his help we never could have got a start, for it was very expensive to start from zero to go to farming. So we decided to do it. One cold icy January day we moved our small possessions into their upstairs area and stored things under the stair area. All we owned and our baby. Archie kept working at Boggs until spring plowing time came. He also kept going to Guard duty until they were called to go overseas. I helped with the chores. His Dad was not very well and hired help couldn’t be found because of the war. His sister Sarah was gone from home by this time. She had a job in town and her own apartment. She was also very much in love with Ira Howser, whom she married later. Ira was called into the war effort, but because of stomach ulcers he was honorably discharged.

Soon it was spring on the farm and work began in earnest. Archie quit Boggs except for Saturdays. He still worked the long hours Saturday, from 7 a.m. until about 11 p.m., and he worked on the farm plowing, sowing, cultivating, haying, etc. Work is never done on a farm. He did manage to buy a few cows, a team, and some tools with money he made at Boggs. It didn’t cost us anything to live in with his folks so we had some free money to buy a few things for our future farming when we would be on our own. It was a busy year for all of us. I helped Mom Pounds make garden and with the canning and raising the young chickens. We had bought about fifty Rhode Island Red pullet chicks in the spring and were raising them with her Leghorns. I also helped with hoeing in the cotton and corn fields when needed. Mom cared for A.M. We really worked hard and of course there were always the chores.

One very important event did happen that year. The five of us started going into town on Sunday nights to the Nazarene Church. It was my first contact with the Nazarenes. These people were to become very important in my life. Reverend Willisson was pastor at the time. He was a wonderful preacher with a very sweet and caring spirit. We all loved him and the church. He was the first one I had ever heard to preach on sanctification. I had been saved, I thought, and baptized when I was fourteen, but when we moved from the Columbia community back to Chandler we stopped attending church. Of course I backslid but under Brother Willisson’s ministry I went to the altar and asked for pardon from my sins. Now I had never had a real experience with God before in my life. I had taken my salvation by faith (how else can you have it?), but the Holy Spirit had never witnessed to me my salvation. Again I repented and accepted by faith but my heart wanted more. I guess I’ve always had a heart that panted after God. So in the evenings when I would bring my baby upstairs to put him to bed (we slept upstairs that year) I would rock him to sleep and pray, “Lord, if you really have saved me and I have been born again, I really do need to know it. Would you please somehow help me to know if I really am saved and my name written down in Heaven. It’s hard to testify to something you’re not really sure about.” One Saturday night I had put my baby to bed and on my knees I was saying my prayers when suddenly the sweet Holy Spirit came and touched my spirit. It was as though I was lifted up into the Glory world--out of myself and into Him. I can’t really explain it but I knew I was saved. How wonderfully faithful He is to us unworthy mortals.

I’m sorry to have to tell you this, gentle reader, but before the summer was over I had lost my sweet victory and had backslid. I don’t now how to explain it except to say that it wasn’t easy to live in the same house with one’s in-laws. Two women in the same kitchen and one baby--also myself a babe in Christ who hadn’t found her source of strength, the Word and prayer, so the devil stirred around in our fellowship and my carnal nature took offense. Mom Pounds wasn’t sanctified either so sometimes we didn’t see eye to eye. If I had only humbled myself and apologized all could have been alright and my spirit restored, but pride wouldn’t allow it. My pride. So I lost my sweet fellowship with God and it would be twelve years before I would find His sweet presence again. A sad chapter in my life.

In the meantime that fall we moved out. My Dad wasn’t well and had no one to help with the farming since Wendel had joined the Marines and gone off to the South Pacific to fight the Japanese, so he asked Archie to farm his land. We moved onto a small farm a quarter mile north of Dad, onto what we have always called the old Lynn place. By this time we had a team, several cows, some laying hens, and a few tools all paid for. There wa a pond below the house so the stock had water but no water for us so again we had to haul our drinking water. I did my laundry at Mother’s and she gave me eggs until my hens began to prodce. I also made garden with her. She raised a bumper crop of potatoes that year. It was a good year.

The same year Melvin rented the Willis Eyestone farm, across from Dad’s farm. He also bought all of their cattle, chickens, and tools, so we enjoyed fellowship with them for a couple of years. We played a lot of canasta and made ice cream together. Archie and Melvin shared farm work. We all worked hard but we were young and enjoyed each other and the farming. In the fall of 1942 we rented our own farm. It was sixty acres just west of our first home, the Williams place. It had a nice house and a windmill almost at the backdoor! The water was wonderful. The land was good and life was very good. Archie bought more cows, another team, and a tractor. We had plenty of oats and corn from Dad’s place and rented the place across from us for more pasture.

In the meantime we had sold Wendel our V8 Ford (which he and Dena drove to California to work in the shipyards.) They were there until he was eighteen and was old enough to join the Marines. He had to come home then but Dena decided she wasn’t going home. She had a good job and was having a good time in California, but Wendel had promised Dad he would bring her home with him when he came back. She said she was staying in California. He told he that he had promised Dad that he would bring her home with him and she was going if he had to hog-tie her and put her in the car. She came.

After we sold Wendel the V8 Archie bought a nice little black Model A pickup. It was great for the farm. We hauled our cream and eggs to town in it twice a week. Even made a trip to Tulsa to visit Bessie and Earl. It was a “running dude,” and we loved that little pickup.

During these two and a half years A.M. was growing fast and we enjoyed him very much. He had a big collie dog named Friend that loved him too. When he was outside Friend was always there. Sometimes Friend coaxed him too far from the house and I would have to call them back. He was very protective of A.M. I didn’t dare spank him outside or he would act as if he would bite me. As he was the first child I thought he had to be perfect, so I guess I was a pretty strict Mama. He soon learned to climb a tree when I got after him, and by the time he came down I had forgotten what the discipline was about, or I may have just wanted to. He was a busy little boy--chasing the children, riding the young shoats, helping to gather the eggs. We enjoyed him so much we decided he needed a little brother. So in the year of 1943 I was pregnant again.

Archie wanted a boy because he said girls were such a responsibility (as though any child isn’t) but I wanted a girl. She came into our home September 21, 1944. When I awoke that morning I knew I was in labor. So after breakfast Archie went over to my folks to call the doctor. We had no telephone at that time. We both supposed we had plenty of time, so Archie went over there and was visiting around with Dad when he finally told Mother that I was sick and he needed to call Dr. Smith. She got excited, and she and Chris (who was visiting them at the time) came quickly. Also the doctor. No one had told us that the second child wouldn’t take nearly so long to birth as the first. Anyway, Doc Smith only had time to set up his birthing table before Gerry was born. She was plump and beautiful. After Mother had bathed her and dressed her, she wrapped her in a blanket and said, “Here, Archie, is your girl.” He reached for her with joy and from that time and ever afterward she was “Daddy’s girl.” She was a good and sweet baby. A precious treasure. Still is. We named her Opal Geraldine. I loved the name Geraldine but we couldn’t decide on a name to go with it, so Archie decided he liked the Opal in front so we named her Opal Geraldine. She was called Genie growing up but when she went off to college they called her Gerry, and somehow that has stuck. We like it too. My sister-in-law Hazel Pounds gave birth to a baby girl about the same time. They called her Melba Raye.

When Gerry was nine months old we discovered we were to have another child. We weren’t really ready for another one so soon but the Lord knew best.

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