Wednesday, June 27, 2012

THE GREEN RANCH IN THE DESERT, part 1 of 4; by Thoda Cocroft (1919)

In the spring of 1914, three boys from California sought their fortunes in the deserts of Arizona. One was a civil engineer, one an agricultural engineer, the third, a youngster in college.

The Desert Claim Act of Arizona giving land to settlers who, at the end of three years, had irrigated and cultivated their respective claims, looked good to the California trio. They had a limited capital to invest and energy and get-rich-quick schemes in abundance.

For weeks they traveled over desert lands, searching carefully and in the region of the purple Mohawks they pitched a temporary camp. Surely this great, sweeping plain with its border of Yzetta grass and the jagged purple-red mountains held the promise of the fortune they were seeking. They drilled for water. It was salt. They drilled again--another more distasteful chemical was mingled with the salt. Yet again they drilled; again, salt and strange smelling minerals. With heavy hearts they struck camp and started out again on their search across the desert sands.

At last, in the Gila River bottom near the little town of Palomas, they found an abundance of pure water and good soil. Someone had made a venture here a few years previous, irrigating the land by bringing water from the Gila River two miles distant but each winter the treacherous river changed its course and one year the rancher was left high and dry with no water for crops and cattle.

The boys took possession of an old adobe house the former owner had left, hired a Mexican laborer, named the claim Rancho Verde, and went to work.

The first problem was the water supply. Digging wells in the desert was not a simple task. The sand slipped in as fast as they dug it out but after weary days and weeks of hard work the pump was installed and the first flow of water was overwhelming in its abundance. The boys knew they could turn their desert claim into an oasis of miracles! So they turned their attention to clearing the land.

They worked faithfully burning out sage and mesquite and in three weeks ten acres were cleared. Another month elapsed before the soil was ready for irrigation.

The engine was started. No water.

"Must be something wrong with the pump," grumbled Sid.

"I give up!" burst forth Irv.

Art climbed down into the well, investigated, and came up with a gloomy verdict. "Sand in it. We got to pull the whole thing to pieces."

Five months of life in the adobe house had not been conducive to courageous spirits. The boys had invested in lumber for a house but there were no spare minutes to build. So the three ranchers put up with centipedes, scorpions and occasional tarantulas that roamed at large around the one big adobe room. The wife of the Mexican laborer did the cooking and their stomachs somehow became accustomed to the greasy chili con carne and tortillas prepared by the corpulent Chiquita.

In the beginning the young ranchers had their suspicions about the cleanliness of the food that Chiquita produced, but after a strenuous day's work they had to eat whatever there was.

They had suggested in the beginning that Chiquita wash for them each week but unfortunately washing was one of the arts in which Chiquita was not versed. She carefully rubbed the red dirt into underwear and linens. Greasy food, dirty clothes, a dark, scorpion ridden home had told slowly on nerve and spirits. Sand in the pump was the climax!

To be continued...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

WINTER EVENING by Alta Booth Dunn, 1932

Ma, evening's long when you and me
Sit down together after early tea,
An' all the boys and girls are gone
Which way and yon from home. And yet, I swan
It's sweet—jest like it used to be
Come forty year ago—don't you agree?

That buzzard northwind from its pinions is a-flingin'
Big whitish feathers down, down—some call it snowin'--
But by the fire we're comf'table and warm
In our snug house on our own farm.

Here's this new radio a-singing'
Like sixty, Ma, and you a-sewin'
Pert as sixteen; the black tomcat's a-purrin'
Content, while yaller canary's churrin'
A bedtime tune to old Fido a-snorin'
In dreams 'bout rats before the oak log roarin'
Up the fireplace flue. . .
But say, I ask you, Mother,
Now is there any—any knowin'
How each would miss the other,
If one of us alone—er--should be goin'
Out where Eternity's great gales is blowin'?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


“What's wrong with me, Charlotte? Here I am seventeen years old and not a boy has asked me for a date. I know I'm just as good looking and as neat as anyone in school.”
“Why, Ernie Lewis asked you for a date once, and didn't Harry Lang want to take you to his Sunday School party?”

“Oh yes, but who wants to have a date with Ernie? He wears glasses and has a bad complexion, and Harry Lang talks of nothing but livestock! Can you think of anything more boring?”

“Now listen to me, Thelma! Since you ask me what is wrong with you, I'll tell you. You're too 'high-hat.' Just because a boy wears glasses is no sign that he is not a good scout. Ernie can row a boat better than anyone else in school, and he's wonderful in his home.

“Maybe the other boys have found out that you are too particular about the boys. You know, they hate a snob.

“Just look at Peggy Handlon,” Charlotte continued. “She is as kind to one boy as to another, and you know how they flock around her. Don't you remember how she persuaded bashful Jim Hayes to go out for football, and now he's captain of the team?”

“But look how Peggy plays up to the boys,” put in Thelma.

“No, she doesn't play up to them. She simply treats them like human beings. She knows that they can be good companions. She says she didn't know a flower until she started taking hikes with 'Slim.' One thing sure, she looks for and sees the fine traits in boys. I wish I could have the wholesome friendships with them that she has.

“Then, too, Peggy can play their games, talk with them about livestock, and still remain absolutely feminine.”

“My goodness, Charlotte, you would make a dandy lecturer! But I wish you'd concentrate on me instead of Peggy. I couldn't be like her in fifty years—and then I'd be too old to enjoy it. Besides getting over being a high-hat, what else can I do?”

“Thelma, you're a peach in a crowd of girls. Why don't you act the same way when you're with boys? Perhaps you're trying so hard to be popular that you forget to be natural. Really, I hardly know what to tell you, for one has to figure it out mostly for oneself.”

Monday, June 4, 2012

FAVORITE PONY CLUB EXCERPTS from The Farmer's Wife Pony Club Sampler Quilt

Pony Winners All in a Row

I was typing this page of favorite Pony Club excerpts for another purpose. I then thought, "Why not post them on this blog?" They always make me smile.

(Note: Pony Names are in quotes)

There isn't a store in town where "Larry" hasn't been in. He goes in the drug store and the druggist knows he wants ice cream and he bows enough to say, "Yes." He gives him a cone of ice cream and "Larry" will eat every bit of it and then looks for more. Then he will drink pop and root beer right out of a glass in the drug store. Then the druggist gives him some gum and he will chew the gum and I am on him back all the time. (By Wilford Schaffer, Grant County, Minnesota; page 179)

One day a man said to me, "Will you trade "Bingo" for a forty acre farm?" I told him I would not part with "Bingo" for any amount of money or anything else. Mother and Father love "Bingo" just almost as much as I do. (Jeanette Lansing, Dixon County, Nebraska; page 94)

Jeanette McCown and "Rustler"
My papa sent our driver to the depot to see if "Rustler" was there and sure enough he was, the dearest, Easter gift in the world. He took him out of his crate and led him home. I was sitting in the dining room when I noticed mamma jump up and run to the door at the sound of something walking through the store. (Note: The family's home was in the back of their store.) "Rustler" was brought through the store into the dining room and right away brother and I saddled him and rode him around the room. We hugged and kissed him many times that night. (Jeanette McCown, Floyd County, Indiana; page 70)

Myrtle Pearl and "Winkle" at the post office
When I received your good letter telling me I had won "Winkle," I just leaped for joy and clapped my hands. I ran to the telephone and told my aunt I had "Winkle" and his outfit and she was so overjoyed she ran about one-half mile across a cornfield to break the news to grandpa about my success. Aunt is a large fleshy woman and just imagine how funny she looked running across the cornfield to break the news to grandpa. (By Myrtle Pearl Holbrook, Wilkes County, North Carolina; page 123)

I must tell you some of the cut things my pony "Sweetheart" does. One day mamma was picking cherries and "Sweetheart" was around the tree so he knocked the ladder down and mamma had to stay up in the tree for some time until someone came and put the ladder up for her. She scolded "Sweetheart" and told him to go and amuse himself somewhere else, so he chased the chickens until he caught one by the tail. Then he trotted back under the tree mamma was in and held the hen in his mouth and looked up at mamma as much as to say, "This is something new." He does so many cute things. (Lillias. E. T. Howe, Nevada County, California; pages 100-101)

Irene Brooks and "Ray"
I am not going to drive "Ray" any this summer or ride him, just let him enjoy life. He is just too cute for anything. I am going to teach him to say his prayers and then I am going to take him to Sunday School with me. Everyone is just wild over him. (Irene Brooks, Cheshire County, New Hampshire; page 63)

Then several days passed by and our pony had not yet come and nearly everybody was saying we would not get a pony...till one morning when the 10:30 train came in, there was "Sunshine." Our house is just across the street from the schoolhouse and we were at school, but we did not stay there long after we saw the pony. Neither did the rest of the children. Our yard was full in five minutes after "Sunshine" was uncrated. There was no more school for the rest of that day. (Eva and Darold Huddleston, Beadle County, South Dakota; page 63)

"Hector" rides on the automobile sometimes and that makes him feel like he is the biggest horse in the country, but when he is down again, he sees that he is only a little Shetland Pony...I was riding into the house one day to see what mamma was doing but she turned me out because the pony was chewing on some sugar. He is always climbing on the table looking for something to eat, but I won't give him anything because that isn't nice. (Verna Beerbohm, Cuming County, Nebraska; pages 176-177)