Tuesday, July 23, 2013

We ain’t got it so bad, now do we?

Part 1.

I can imagine him now. An eighteen-year-old boy in 1931 situated in the middle of a family with 13 children. Sitting there in his room, forlornly staring at the worn and battered wooden floors wondering how he could possibly help the family in the great times of need they and everyone they knew found themselves in now.
It was in the middle of what they were calling the Great Depression and Oklahoma was experiencing a drought the likes of which had never been seen before. They called the whole area he and his family lived in The Dust Bowl.
After years of drought the land was a barren wasteland of nothing but swirling dust storms, one after another. Between the ravaging dirt devils and the heat and humidity from hell, everyone he came into contact with looked like tan colored dust bunnies with rivulets of mud coursing down the length of their bodies, originating from each and every sweat gland they possessed.

With all the topsoil long since blown away and no fertile land left to grow precious food, they also had the look of refugees from some foreign land. With the boys shirtless from the extreme heat, you could count their ribs. It was getting harder each day to watch his own family wasting away from lack of basic substance. They had long since tracked or trapped and shot all the small animals within miles of their weathered home at the end of a long dusty dirt road. With the constantly blowing dust incrusted wind, the only defining markers left were the wooden fences along each side of the road, which were leaning in great disrepair from lack of maintenance.
With no money left for something as basic as gasoline, it had been weeks since any automobile had driven to their house. In fact even seeing a truck out on the main roadway was a rare thing nowadays.

In the past, they could hear trucks coming and going down there but with the dust now inches thick on the roadways, it was a silent affair now. The only way one knew there was a truck traveling there was the whirlwind of dirty air rising into the sky behind them like a ghostly snake to finally dissipate in the gray drab sky above.
It was hard to believe everything had come to this for the family. Most times, there was almost no one home because they were all out trying to find either work or food. There was nothing left to do other than keep trying to live on. They hadn’t gathered as a family in what seemed like weeks. The dinner table being the normal meeting place was long left unused now.

Guy was dog-tired having just returned from walking the five miles into town in search of a job. The whole situation was getting desperate in the extreme. He personally hadn’t eaten anything in the two days since their father had arrived with some dried meat and fruit he’d traded for a hard days labor at the railroad yard west of town. The work had been so hard; he’d come home with bloody hands from the labor.
Guy was sitting on his bed exhausted to the bone, from the walk and lack of nourishment. Looking down at his hands, they looked like the hide of a long dead animal lying in the baking sun too long.
If crying would have been in his genes he would have broken down right then and there but “A man doesn’t cry damnit” He thought with rising anger in his guts.
“That’s it!” His thoughts continued. “I’ll be damned it I’m going to set here and do nothing and watch my family slowly die of starvation. There has to be something I can do.”

That’s when it hit him. Being born and raised in Oklahoma, he like everyone else had a deep seeded sense of right and wrong but by god, this situation threw all that out the window for him setting there with hunger and desperation slowly taking the reins of his heart and soul.
So he got up and walked over to the closet he shared with several brothers and on his tip toes reached up to the back of the high shelf, where he had carefully placed it long ago. After a moment more, he felt it’s metal certainty. After bringing it down, as he stood there looking at the 22-caliber pistol he’d traded for a pig from a neighbor a couple years ago; he was amazed at the poor condition it was in. Truth was, there was no good reason to own or use a pistol, with rifles being the normal hunting weapon. Guns at that time were only a tool to provide meat for the table or protect the farm animals from wild predators. When he first saw it, he just thought it would be a nice thing to have.

To be continued: