Tuesday, January 10, 2012

FEET ON THE EARTH; Part 1 of 2; Dr. Poling; 1939

We came to Greer, Arizona, ten minutes ahead of the thunderstorm that ushered in the 1939 rainy season. The little Mormon community, at an elevation of eight thousand feet on the shoulder of "Old Baldy" in Arizona's White Mountains, had been praying for this storm. Our arrival was accepted as a good omen. The lad who rode on the running-board of our over-loaded car and directed us to the commodious log cabin that was to be our August vacation home told us what the rain meant to vegetables, grass--and fishing. The latter was our chief concern but, knowing what the coming of seasonal rains means to the great Southwest, we were enthusiastic over the promise of bumper gardens and good grazing.

When we offered our guide the money we thought he had earned, he was embarrassed, but he definitely declined the coin. "No," he said, "that's all right. But if you need worms, I dig them--forty for 10 cents." Right there the West began!--no gratuities and a clear distinction between neighborliness and a reasonable charge for services rendered.

A little later the boy's father, who runs the general store, sold us a "fricassee chicken" for $1.25. He didn't figure the weight, and he apologized for the price. It took me back to my boyhood, when the neighbor who specialized in these same "fricassees" would say, "Twenty-five cents--and you catch her." To this day I have difficulty in figuring poultry values by weight, but that six-pound Mormon hen was worth the price.