Just as all our ancestors before us have proven to be a guiding light, very much like continuing the guiding light of God and his son, our parents have a much stronger influence upon us. This is because they live with us and raise us and teach us, all based on the teachings of those that came before them. Thus, much of what we become is strongly based on what our parents were like and how they taught us. If they taught us by word AND example, then we had a strengthening of those lessons. But, what were those lessons and how were they presented to us.
In the case of my parents, Bob and Fretia, the lessons were those of hard work, independence, and determination. From the earliest of my memories, Dad worked more than one job. His primary occupation was in driving a semi-trailer fuel truck for one of the local businesses that not only operated an automobile service station, but also delivered fuel to the farmers. He was always getting up early and leaving to go to some refinery and pick up fuel. He left early, because it was in his nature. It also left him time for other pursuits.
He also rented some farm land and did farming in the evenings or on the weekends. For a period of time, he also operated the projection equipment at the local movie theatre. I liked him having that job because I used to get into the movies for free, and many times got to sit in the projection room with him while he worked.
As I got older, the farming was something that my sister and I got to help with. That period of time was in the fifties, and that was a period of time where drought conditions once again hit the Panhandle. If one’s land started to suffer from wind erosion, one suddenly had dust storms again. They weren’t on the same scale as the Dirty Thirties, but the land still needed to be worked in some way to stop the blowing away of topsoil. More than once, my sister, LoRee, and I got to help when Dad had to be on the truck with his primary job.
So, for many years, Dad worked a lot of different jobs and numerous times he worked two jobs as well as the part time farming. But, those were the times that were hard and one had to work hard to provide for one’s family. There were few, if any, jobs available for women in town. There were certainly more women than there were jobs for them. While I knew what Dad was doing, it was many years before I really developed a respect for all the hard work that was his lot in life.
Mother was a stay at home Mom for the most part. I only remember her working out of the home on one occasion, at that was at the local drug store. For the most part, her work involved taking care of us kids and the house. As time went on, she took up oil painting on canvas in a venture that was entirely self-taught. As she developed more skill, she entered some of her paintings in the Cimarron County Fair each year. As long as I can remember, she always won ribbons, and most were Blue Ribbon entries. Blue Ribbons were first in category.
As time went on, she began to barter her paintings with others to get things that she wanted around the house. I can remember a period of time when we had a lot of antique furniture and other things around the house. On a rare occasion, she might sell one. While I never developed a talent for drawing or painting, being around and seeing all the paintings that she did helped me to develop an ability for composure in photography. But, that was to come about after I turned 17-years-old.
Being that Mother was the one that was mostly present when I was growing up, I think she had more of an influence upon me than Dad had. While neither had more than an eighth grade education (normal for the period of time when they grew up), Mother instilled an interest into me of reading. That interest, along with “old-time” schooling, led to me having a strong ability for spelling, although my grammar has begun to suffer in later years. In high school, I was even on the high school newspaper as a co-editor.
After I graduated, I went to one year of college and then into the U.S. Army Security Agency for about four years. During that time, Mom and Dad got a divorce. Since Mom had never had any formal job training, she wondered as to what she could do to make a living. She asked us whether we thought that she might get by with teaching others to paint. When we encouraged it, she put out the word that she was going to start teaching.
Before long, she was in a position of teaching up to 60 or so students per week, in two hour lessons, and with as many as four students at a time. When she began that venture, she stopped entering her paintings in the county fair. She refused to compete against her students. Her skill and demeanor with students led to a waiting list of people who wanted to paint. Also, being in the furthest West Panhandle county, she had students coming to her from Texas, Colorado, Kansas, and of course, Oklahoma.
Mom and Dad always displayed a strength of knowing what was needed to be done in order to survive. They developed that strength from the examples of my grandparents, and all of them lived through the double whammy of the Great Depression and the Dirty Thirties when the sky would turn black during the day when a dust storm approached and overtook the area. They lived over a period of time where hardship was just naturally a way of life. As an aside here, Jo’s parents and grandparents also lived through that same period of time, with the same levels of education. All their work involved dealing with hardships.
The work ethics of our parents were emulated by Jo and I, and I have to believe that our sons also have the same attitude. I cannot say enough about how much we appreciate our parents for their examples, encouragement, and ethics.
Similar to the first motorized vehicle I ever drove. It was an International WD-9. In order to get it moving when I first started operating it, I had to grab the steering wheel, put both feet on the clutch pedal to push in, and then reach down quickly with one hand and put it into gear. Then, I could again grasp the steering wheel and slowly engage the clutch.