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Letter To Jean House 2016

Written to Jeannie House by Doris Jean Young, Arnold Ray House’s cousin

Dear Jeannie,

I guess it has been about 6 months now since Arnold‘s death. I know you miss him terribly. His passing brought back a lot of memories.

I remember the day in June of 1940 when we packed up our old 1936 Chevy with all our belongings (which wasn’t much) and headed from Oklahoma to California.

It was my Dad and Mom1, who was 6 months pregnant with Norma, my Brother and I and Aunt Marie2 and Arnold who was 2. I think it took us about 3 days to get here. We couldn’t afford a cabin or a motel as they call it now, so we just got the bedding out of the car and slept alongside the road.

The old car had been wrecked and had a back window missing. We went through a bad rainstorm and so much water got in the window, we were soaked. Arnold was such a sweet little boy – never cried or complained the whole way.

I always felt that after Homer and Marie got married and had Barbara and Ronny (sic) that he kind of felt like an outsider. But when you came along that changed everything for him. The rest is history, huh? I always thought of him as a “gentle soul” who reminded me so much of our Grandfather Jesse Thomas Oakes. They even looked alike!

We had a tragedy in our family this year too. Our dear Son-in-Law Bill3 also died in March. He was a dentist here in Redlands. He was our oldest Daughter’s (Wendi) husband. He was only 63.

Mules

August 11, 2014

This little community of Loving had a country store, Church, and school.  The same time had the “born in Hell” mules, I had a friend I ran with named Bill Blevins.  So one evening, he and I are sitting on the porch of the little store drinking Cokes and eating peanuts.

Here comes a pair of mules at a fast trot.  They were hobbled together, left foreleg to right foreleg.  Bill said, “there goes Paul’s new mules.”

Paul was Bill’s Uncle.  About five minutes later, Paul’s neighbor came by in his truck, “Have you seen Paul’s mules?”

“Yes, they are on their way to Arkansas.”

Arkansas is about two miles down the road.  Paul’s neighbor is really mad.  Paul’s mules, hobbled together, jumped the fence into his wife’s garden and ate all of the cabbage.  It is hard to keep a straight face, but this guy is really mad.

After he left, Bill told me the story.  A few days back, Paul had bought this team of mules.  He brought them home, put them in the corral.  They were small mules, way pretty.  Well they milled around for a little while then together they jumped the fence and took off.

Well, Paul chased them down and brought them back.  He hobbled their front legs.  This worked for an hour or less.  Then over the fence again.  I never seen this fence but Bill said it was five to six feet high.  I will add that Bill was helping chase them down.  They were brought back and hobbled together.

I talked to Bill later, he said, yes they jumped out and ate the neighbor’s garden.  Yes they caught them before they got to Arkansas.

As I said before, we sold the little forty-acre farm and back to California.  I don’t remember how long we stayed this time, California that is.  Yes, Dad comes home from work, we are moving to Oklahoma.

Yes, back to Loving, Oklahoma.  The first thing Dad did was buy a little twenty acre place.  Very small house, barn, and couple of small outbuildings.  Yes, and an outhouse.

All of this was on the back side of the property.  Back side of the outhouse faced lane going from main road to house.  Well, let’s see, no back wall on outhouse, roof was gone.  It doesn’t snow a lot but it sure gets cold.  One one stays in the outhouse very long.  This place was all pasture and a small stock pond.

We stayed there for the winter only, back to California.  I got my first in Oklahoma driver’s license so I must of been sixteen.  I still have the driver’s license, would be fun to go into Oklahoma motor vehicles and ask to renew fifty-eight year old license.

I worked all Summer and bought a car, 1940 Studebaker, lasted only one month and fell apart.  Bought another car, 1946 Mercury, drove this one to Oklahoma next Winter.  We still owned the 20 acres.

Yes, back to Oklahoma.  This time to say, HA-HA.  A couple of months later, Dad bought a forty acre place, no buildings on it.  This place was covered with small pine trees.  The idea was to cut the trees and sell them.  There was a few logs, some pulp wood, and many small telephone poles.

Well since this was not a big-time logging operation, giant trucks and tractor, we need a truck.  Well Dad bought a truck, 1943 Ford.  He brought it home and said it needs brakes but I paid less than two hundred dollars for it.  Well, let’s see, big holes in floor, no brakes, but good emergency brake.  Burnt one quart of oil in twelve miles.  Hauled poles twelve miles, one quart going, one quart coming.  In the Summer you drove with doors open to let smoke escape.

Now to the next and last mule.  This forty acres had give or six loads of logs on it.  Dad being a mechanic was always helping out the neighbors, fixing trucks, tractors, and chain-saws.

When our next door neighbors heard we were going to log these larger logs they said they had just bought this new team of mules, and we were welcome to use them and they would bring them to the job.

Well, that was great.  One thing they didn’t tell us, they had never used these mules before.  It was obvious the mules didn’t like each other, they were fighting in the back of the truck.

Well to make a long story short, they left one mule, took the other back with them.

Now this was a small young mule.  So with harness on and skidding dogs hooked up, Dad drove mule and carried skid dogs.  Well, we got to first log and I hook up dog, Dad drove mule back to landing.  I will explain, these skid dogs were hooked to the harness on the mule.  When you had a log hooked up there was nothing to do for me.  So I walk back to the landing then carry the dogs, behind the mule back to the next log.

Well we did this a number of times, then we loaded the logs when we had a truck load.

Something I forgot to tell was that Dad and his bad hip and everything.  When he came to a narrow place, the mule would go through, Dad would jump up on the log and ride it through.  I was very surprised when he did this.

Well, loaded and ready to go to town with the logs.  In my dreams, Dad turned around handed me the reins and said, “Skid another load while I am gone.”

Well, let’s see, here I am out in the book-docks with this four-legged animal.  At least another twelve logs to go.  Well you don’t know if you can swim if you don’t get wet.

So reins in one hand, skid dog in the other, up the hill we went.  Hooked up to first log and started down hill, going through a narrow spot, jumped up on log, and fell off.  Of course, the mule continued on, she pulled log to landing and stopped.  Since it took me a couple of minutes to get out of the brush pile I fell in.  When I got to the landing I swear the mule turned her head around and smiled at me.  Well, we continued on for a few more hours.

A few ups and a few downs.  I guess I should say, thank God, the mule knew more about skidding logs than I did.

A couple of months later, Dad sold everything and back to California to stay.

Two Dad Stories

When Dad was a young man he had an old pick-up, and he had just bought a bottle of whiskey.  He started out to see a friend and share his whiskey.  When he left town he a saw a car following him.  So back to town, he put the whiskey in the springs in the back of the seat.

Well, he parked in front of his favorite cafe, knowing it had a back door.  He went and sat at the bar near the back door.  Well he watched two girls tear that truck apart, but for some reason they didn’t find the whiskey.  Well when they left he jumped in the truck and got out of town.

Well, since I am telling Dad stories, I will tell one his sister told on him.

So their neighbor had an old Model-T, didn’t run.  Dad had a good bicycle that the neighbor wanted, so Dad trades with him.  He take a horse over and pulls the car home.  With all the bad roads, dirt, and rocks, the car had a spotless wind-shield.

So Dad parks it under a tree in the front yard.  Well Dad works on it for hours, no luck.  I think he said he was fifteen.  So his sister hears this loud noise, from the front yard, looks out, Dad jerks the crank out, breaks all the spark plugs off, and threw the crank through the windshield.  When I asked Dad about this story, he smiled and said that wasn’t the bad part, when he overhauled it he had a few parts left over, sure was a nice bicycle.

Whiskey Business

Written August 11, 2014

OK, Jeannie did it again, write it down.

Back in the fifties, Oklahoma was a dry state, no whiskey.  Well they did have beer bars, all alcohol consumed in the bar.  No beer taken out of the bar.  HA-HA.  All Southern States have weird laws, still do.

Dad, as a young man was walking through the woods hunting.  What should appear in front of him, a whiskey still.  He said it didn’t look like it had been used in a while, but it was all there.  Well, he thought maybe he would go into the whiskey business.  So he sent and got his friend and a horse, and stole it.  They took it about a mile and pulled it up into a big gum tree, and tied it in so it wouldn’t fall out.  It was a small still and they would wait a few weeks to see if anyone missed it.  Well after a few weeks and they heard nothing, they decided it was time to go into business.

So back to the tree, nothing, still gone.  Someone stole it from there.  So much for the whiskey business.

 

Arnold’s Memories of World War II

(As Told by Arnold House)

Uncle Wayman

First Memories of World War II:  Uncle Wayman leaving for the Army.  His Grandmother Minnie Oakes saying it was the Jew’s war, we had no business over there.

Uncle Jerry coming home one leave from the Army boot camp.  He was a non-combatant.  You couldn’t have two brothers in combat.  He opened up his military backpack, to show what was in it.  That’s when he gave Arnold his military Bible.  Everyone was given one.

Travelling on train between California and Oklahoma and Texas.  He remembers his Mother and him getting on the wrong train, and going across the Great Salt Lake in Utah.  Next station we had to change trains, and go back and get on the right train.  Had to buy box lunch for 25 cents (ed. note:  approximately $ 4.25 in 2017 Dollars), sandwich and an apple.

Metal drives.

No gas shortages in Oklahoma farm community.  California shortage of everything.  Finley, California, Oleo margarine (at first it only came in white, no one would buy it so a few months later they came out with a little color packet that was mixed in to make it look more like butter.

Storages after the war.  Dad would buy stamps, this was illegal.  Mom had 75 Road Inland Red chickens, and a few brown leghorns, while living in Loving, Oklahoma.  Mom said cold storage eggs, were old.  Centers were light yellow instead of dark yellow.  Mom would get about 60 eggs a day.  One time she almost got one egg per chicken.  She traded eggs for groceries in Heavener, Oklahoma.  To keep the chickens happy she would keep one or two roosters, the rest were chicken dinner.  Hens will follow the roasters, they will naturally go in the chicken coop at night, fighting each other for highs roost.

Ronnie was four when, one of the hens hid her nest and had three baby chicks.  He make pets out of them.  He would grab the head of half grown chicks and force-feed them.  When grown these chickens were so fat that they didn’t fry very well.

What I Remember

I am doing this under extreme pressure.  Jeannie and I sat outside on the porch in the afternoon and played cards.  Well, I start telling funny and weird things that have happened to me.

Well, she says you have to write this down.

My first memories were Mom and I living with Grandma Oaks in Loving, Oklahoma.  I must have been three or four.  Long before I started school.  I remember a big black walnut tree in her front yard.  Billy her dog and I used to play under it.  On hot day he would be digging holes under it, he and I would lay in the holes.  I would use spam cans for tractors and build roads all over.

Grandma and Mom rented this little house from Henry Roop.  He rasied cattle, cotton, and corn.  Grandma Oaks and Mom used to work for him once in a while, picking and chopping cotton.  One day it was very cold and a car pulled up outside, it was a neighbor.  We should go to Henry’s that evening, the President was going to be on the radio.  President was going to declare war!  It was probably about a quarter of a mile to Henry’s but lie I said it was very cold.  I remember wanting Mom to carry me, you walk, she said.  When we got to Henry’s this old style tabletop radio was setting on the floor of the living room, wires ran through the bedroom door to a car battery.  It worked more of less, kept fading in and out, guys kept messing with it.  I have no idea what I heard.

I forgot to mention my Grandfather Oaks died a few months before I was born.

Next thing I remember was trips on the train from Oklahoma to California and Oklahoma to Texas.  Trains were full of servicemen very crowded.  I remember Mom and I changing trains somewhere and running to catch the train, and after we felt the station conductor said we got on the wrong train, we had to go back.  On this wrong trip, I remember everyone looking out one side of the train they said it was the Great Salt Lake, was it?  I don’t.

I remember Uncle Jerry coming home from boot camp on his way overseas.  Jerry gave me his Bible, still have it.  Everyone in service was given a Bible.  Uncle Waymon was already in the service.  These were Mom’s younger brothers.

Arnold Ray House

Note:  The Bible mentioned in this passage has been passed on to my Brother, Sergeant First Class Steven Robert Schultze, a 20-year veteran of the United States Army.

The Truth About Barbara

Loving, Oklahoma, October 23, 1946.  No let’s go back a few months earlier.  The kids at Loving School are kidding me that I am going to have a little brother or sister.  Being the smart seven year-old, I was “NO WAY” Mom is just fat.

Now back to October 23, 1946.  The kids that live down the road and I are walking home, when we get to our house a strange car is parked in front.  Bob Kersey says “Oh, your Mom is having a baby.  That is the doctor’s car.”

“No way, Mom’s not pregnant.”

Well, Dad met me at the front door.  Go up to Henry and Allie Mae’s and wait.  So I did.  Well about two hours later someone came and got me.  I think Henry just told me I could go home, don’t rightly remember.

So I walk in the house, Mom is in the bed.  “Do you want to see your baby sister?”  No way, but she showed me anyway.

“Terrible,” she is all red and trying to cry but couldn’t.  Very confusing for a seven year-old.

Well I was still confused about this Father thing.  What do you do with a Father?  A fairly new Father and now a sister, what’s the world coming to?

Well I won’t go into the problems I had the few months.

October 23, 1946, autumn day, about 85 degrees and no clouds.  A very nice day.

“Damn it I was there.”

Arnold Ray House

Arnold’s Orange Crate Racers

In 1947 while living at 1257 Herald St. in Redlands someone gave me an old empty one pound Prince Albert can of old rusty nails.  Dad had built the house and gave me a few leftover boards.  Other kids were building orange crate racers, so I had to try one.  Someone else gave me four wheels & two axles.  First one was very simple just a place to put your butt.  Put your feet on front axle to steer.  telling this you have to remember I had all these cousins there were always around to push.  It was good for a couple of days until I decided to remodel it.

Next cart was the same but had a rope to steer it with.  You have to realize that I made a lot of changes that didn’t work.  A couple of these were like the ones with 2 levers between your legs.  Put the right one to go right and left to go left.  Didn’t work!  Well finally I figured out how to put a steering wheel on it.  First thing wrong was that I wound the rope the wrong way.  You turn the steering wheel left to turn right.  After a ten minute repair, ok.  If you have a cart you must have brakes.  So I cut a slot in the middle of the cart, put a board through the slot, hinged it so if you want to stop you grab the board and pull, it drags the ground.  Didn’t work!  I decided if bottom of board near the ground extended forward would stop better.  Wrong!  When I got pushed down the street, I pushed brake lever forward it caught on ground, cart went up in air a couple of inches and hand was caught under brake lever, I couldn’t get out of it to get my hand loose because of my weight was on the cart.

All of this was before we had trash pick up, so on one day Dad went to the dump.  Well he came home with a baby buggy.  Four wheels and two axles, white spooked wheels, beautiful!  So next day took cart apart and put new wheels, on it.  Problem wheels were wood lasted about twenty feet and fell apart.  So much for beautiful wheels.  Well by the end of summer I had a nice cart, steering wheel, brakes, rear springs and rusty nails.  Next Christmas I got my first new bicycle.  To heck with carts.  These carts got redesigned almost everyday while I also had to baby sit by sisters Barbara.  One day she was being a real pest.  We had an orange tree so I took hose and flooded around it, took Barbara and sat her in the water, hot day.  Boy was Mom angry, Barbara loved it.  These rusty nails got used over and over, pull them out, straighten them and reuse them.  Now it’s called recycling.  I believe it was when Dad was building the house on Herald Street he bought a new saw and hammer.  I wasn’t allowed to use them.  I used the old one’s.  I believe the saw is still at Dad’s house, I have the hammer.

Arnold Ray House

My Life With Mules, Yes Mules!

Living in Redlands, California, in 1952 Dad comes home one day and says, “We are moving to Oklahoma and become farmers.”  He is working on construction and has two weeks off.

Off to Loving, Oklahoma, we go.  Mom was born there and Grandma still lived there.  Two weeks later we owned forty acres and had built a small house on it.  It had two old houses on it.  Later torn down and used to build barn and out-buildings.  Back to California.

Next Summer back to Oklahoma.  We built a few fences and finished the house.  First thing Dad bought was a milk cow.  Late on he bought another cow.  Second he bought a team of mules.  These mules were dappled grey.  They were brothers, one was six years old one was seven.  So planted about thirty acres of corn, high-gear and peanuts.

Well it is an early summer day nice and warm.  Dad is plowing the weeds out of the corn with cultivator and the mules.  Well Dad goes to sleep while plowing so the mules decide they want to go to the barn.  They turn across the corn field and trot toward the barn.  Well after much yelling and cussing, Dad got them stopped.  Corn field looked a little funny on that side.

I don’t know about horses, but mules can talk to each other.  Don’t know how but they do.  When they turned they did it together, same time.  When all this was happening I was in the peanut patch.  Throwing dirt on the plants.  I heard all this yelling and screaming I thought Dad got bit by a snake.  This whole area has briars that look like blackberry but have no fruit on it.  You must cut or they will get bigger and bigger.

Nice Fall day Dad is mowing pasture with mules and mowing machine.  I am piling the briars up with hay fork so when it rains we will burn it.  Dad had been mowing about an hour, everything was fine.  Lucky the sear on mowing machine was behind everything else.  Both mules at the same time jumped about twenty feet forward at the same time.  Well Dad goes end over end off the back of the mower.  Mules are running as fast as they can across the pasture.  Well a small bunch of treees got in the way, broken mower and broken harness.  Mules won, got retired.

Well there was a lot more that happened, like put them in barn they kick the side out.  They bite, they kick and a lot more.

We sold the mules with the place.  Last thing I heard of the mules, the people who bought the place sold the mules.  When new owner was taking them home they got loose, last thing I heard two cowboys were chasing them over the top of the mountain.

Arnold Ray House

Arnold Ray House (1938 – 2016)