Friday, March 7, 2014

We ain’t got it so bad, now do we? Part 15

Part 15.

In those days having cash in hand made for an easy purchase. So in no time at all, they bought the 9-acre property and Guy was hard at work building their future home, along with all the outbuildings needed on a working farm, along with milking and storage sheds, fencing all around and finally a large metal building he would soon utilize as a welding and fabrication shop along with a farm machinery repair establishment.
When all that was accomplished, it was a proud day. On that day, he climbed a tall wooden ladder he’d made to the front peak of the shop with Viola standing below shading her moist eyes; he hung a sign he’d hand painted that read “Guys Welding and Repair”.

Next in the natural order of things was having a family but in those still fairly crude and backward times even that was not to be so smooth.
The first time Viola became pregnant, it was truly a time of great joy for them. Viola was the picture of health and happiness throughout the pregnancy.
Everything went pretty trouble free until the actual birth. Then something went terribly wrong and the baby died at birth, as so often happened in those days of sketchy healthcare.

That put both of them in a slump for a while but like all things on a farm, there was little time to morn over deaths. Experiencing all the varied problems with births and deaths with the farm animals soon taught them to just pull themselves up by the bootstraps and move on, so move on they did.
The next pregnancy went well again, including this time birthing a healthy girl they named Yvonne.

Next came preparing the fields for whatever crops they might be able to make some coin with. With the irrigation canal bordering their piece of land, it was a relatively easy chore to breach it, using wooden gates to control the flow into smaller main ditches onto the property. From those ditches, Guy used special bent pipes he created to use a siphoning method to get water into the lower planting channels running the length of the property.
So after planting potatoes, all he had to do daily was pick up the pipes leading to the filled channels between the plantings to the next section until the whole field was well watered.

Before long, the farm had Chickens for eggs and meat, a couple of cows for milk and beef, a drove of pigs for pork and a small barn filled to the ceiling with alfalfa hay to feed the cows.
Having both been raised on farms back in Okalahoma, they had all the skills necessary to handle everything it took to raise, slaughter, medicate, skin out and handle every aspect of dealing with farm animals.
As with most real farms, the chickens roamed freely, doing their job of keeping the bugs, flies and grass seeds controlled, which also fed them nicely.  Each dusk they would all head back into the chicken coop, where Viola would arrive to shut the door to protect them from nightfall’s predators.

Farming then and now was actually a pretty hard life. The cows had to be milked twice daily, morning and night. That gave the family not only milk but also butter, Viola churned from the cream floating on top of the milk after it set for a bit. Often if Yvonne was there during the milking, they would play a game where Yvonne would kneel down close by and Viola would squirt the milk straight into her mouth, often time missing on purpose, causing the milking shed to light up with laughter and joy. Being so far out in the quiet country, those sounds drifting through the dusk air reached Guys ears, causing him to stop what he was doing for a moment and smile with joy also.

In the meantime, with the addition of a welding and repair shop out in the country surrounded by farms of every description, Guys business was growing almost daily. Being able to repair, fabricate and build most anything the farmers needed made his success inevitable. He not only had all the skills necessary to do most anything they wanted but also had the fair price attitude he’d brought with him from Okalahoma.

During the next 8 years, Yvonne grew up learning all the ways of farming, while roaming the acreage until she had every square inch of the place firmly in her heart and soul.
During those years, Guy and Viola tried to add to the family but fate laid it’s cruel hand on their plans with another stillbirth and one more who died soon after birth.
After three children not meant to be, they pretty much decided they would be a one child family but truth was, birth control was not something people thought much about in those days.
So they put the idea of adding to the family out of their minds with all the work and toil involved in the running of the farm and shop. Then that same fate decided to change their plans once again with the birth of a brand new child.
This time it was a boy, which pleased them both immensely, giving them someone to keep the family name marching into the future. They named this boy Paul and from day one he was almost the opposite of Yvonne. Where she was the typical girl, a little quiet and reserved, he started out on day one loud, awake all night and demanding the world revolve around his every whim. In other words a boy!

Since I started this little writing project to relate, along with embellish a few stories my Parents told me about their early days coming from the Okalahoma Dust Bowl, Great Depression days, I feel compelled to end it with my birth on the little farm they developed in Mid Valley California so long ego.
As I hope I conveyed, I’m nothing but proud of my heritage. These folks started with misery unimaginable. They learned to pull themselves up by their proverbial tattered bootstraps and with incredibly hard work, perseverance and toil, make a meaningful life in the Earths womb and soil of California.

I hope you enjoyed their adventures along the way, as much as I enjoyed relating them…..

We ain’t got it so bad, now do we? Part 14

Part 14.

With government money pouring in for the war effort, the pay at the shipyard was pretty dang good and being the spendthrift masters they were, between what Guy had already saved on top of this job; they had a nice little nest egg by the end of the war.
With that safely put away, they started to think about settling down in California. The only thing they knew was farming, so they started dreaming of where they might buy a piece of land, settle down and start working the soil.
It seems once a farmer, always a farmer. They couldn’t wait to feel the soft loamy earth in their hands once more.
Some women liked fingernail polish on their long nails to feel womanly; Viola loved the feel of fresh dirt under hers to feel human and in touch with life, which only added to Guy’s love and admiration for her. Being half Choctaw Indian, only added to her natural beauty and affinity for the Earth and it’s many bounties.

During those years traveling from farm to farm, following the crops, once in a while they’d get wind from someone who’d seen or talked to one of Guy’s brothers or sisters. Since the whole family had migrated out to California at about the same time, it wasn’t unusual to hear about or come across someone they’d known from Oklahoma. Also because most of the farming was done in the mid-state valleys, it placed most of them in a smaller area than the whole state.
Quite a while after leaving the Bakersfield area, they even heard tell that Viola’s full blooded Choctaw Indian Grandmother possibly had ended up there. They figured once they settled, they’d look into finding her.

They came across no word from Lester since they last seen him but they did hear about one of his other brothers Lloyd. They heard he’d married a lady named Vera and that they’d bought a small farm close to Castle Air force base outside of a small town called Atwater.
Before long with the war effort slowly but surely winding down, they at last said their goodbyes to all the great people they’d worked beside at the shipyards and with nothing but great pride in their accomplishments, finally set out to travel to Atwater.
They were hoping to stay on Lloyd and Vera’s farm while they looked around for a piece of land to buy with their hard earned money they’d so diligently saved.

With highway 99 running right down Main Street in most of the small towns of California, it was easy enough to find Atwater. Like most small San Joaquin Valley towns at that time, there wasn’t much there. A few gas stations, a couple coffee shops and a very small school, serving Kindergarten through High School for the locals born there and now including the growing population who were still almost daily migrating from points east.

With Castle Air Force base playing such an important role in the war effort, they had no problem finding it once they entered Atwater.
Castle AFB was named in honor of Brigadier General Frederick W. Castle (1908–1944) on 17 January 1946. When on Christmas Eve 1944 near Liege, Belgium, seven Messerschmitts set General Castle's B-17 Flying Fortress afire, he remained at the controls while his crew bailed out. He bravely refused to release his bombs over territory occupied by friendly forces, and died with the pilot when the aircraft exploded. General Castle received the Medal of Honor posthumously.
The facility was officially renamed Castle Air Force Base on 13 January 1948 as part of the establishment of the United States Air Force as a separate military service.
The airfield was opened on 20 September 1941 as the Army Air Corps Basic Flying School, one of the fields utilized to meet the needs of the 30,000 Pilot Training Program. As the original name indicated, it provided basic air training for beginning pilots and crewmen. Many pilots and crews were trained here during the war including a number of Women's Air Service Pilots (WASP)
Turned out Lloyd and Vera’s farm was just on the other side of a roadway running along side the railroad tracks from the Base. One of the benefits of that fact was they could stand on the tracks and watch the giant bombers take off and land. Having never seen such a miraculous sight as these metal monsters lifting into the sky , they couldn’t get enough of it.
Each day, Guy and Viola would get in the truck and drive out in the country from Atwater looking for the right piece of property, they figured they could turn into their dream farm.
One day, there it was. A fine looking piece of land, bordered on two sides by roads and a third by a substantial water canal, they would easily draw water from for their future crops.

To be continued: