Sunday, June 18, 2017

Levi Strauss was squatting around a campfire with a brand new pair of riveted jeans. He was asking the cowboy companions how they liked the rivet reinforced jeans. The Cowboys said they were fine, but they would automatically remove the one in the crotch area. Mr. Strauss was confused as this seam took most of the strain during work, and that seam was most likely to split. The Cowboys said it was because of the "Hot Rivet Syndrome." The Cowboys explained that squatting at a fire as they were, that particular rivet would heat up and burn a particularly sensitive area in the male anatomy. Shortly, Levi Strauss leaped up and went screaming into the night. Yep, he was a victim of the Hot Rivet Syndrome. He enjoyed the rest of his trip and when he went back to the factory, immediately ordering the crotch rivet be removed from the production of his famous jeans. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Life History and Tales of Robert Taylor (8/18/1871-6/16/1953)

LIFE HISTORY AND TALES OF ROBERT TAYLOR (8/18/1871-6/16/1953)

Robert Taylor was the first white boy born in Fillmore County, Nebraska. When I was in high school we had a semester of Nebraska history. Dad’s name was in the book. When we had a test about that the teacher looked right at me and said, “You had better get that right!”

His father, John L. Taylor, was a trapper in the winter. One year the weather was very severe, Grandma, Lurana Davis Taylor, was cooking up a stew and she heard a noise on the door. When she opened it, there stood three Indians. They told her by sign language that they were hungry. She brought them in and fed them. They slept on the floor by the fireplace for one night. Next morning they left. After that occasionally there would appear a carcas[s] of a deer, elk, turkey, etc. on her doorstep.

One winter when they lived in the sod house, she was again cooking stew and there were wolves digging, trying to get in under the door. So she got the fire poker hot and stuck it on their noses.

Grandma was a Quaker. She was ex-communicated when she married out of the church. When there was a revival meeting down in Kansas they would load the wagon and drive down there. They’d camp out and be gone several days.

Grandpa Taylor had a short, small left arm. He fell out of a tree when a child and broke his collar bone. He also was a mean man. They lived in a house half block east of us. There was a building over the well in the back yard. On sunny days he’d sit on a chair in the doorway. While grandma was busy in the kitchen he’ yell, “Raney, get me a drink of water”. She’d have to stop everything and go out to the well house and at the pump just a foot or so behind him, pump a drink for him. He’s drink a little bit and throw the rest out on the ground. (I don’t think he would of lived as long as he did it I had to do that!!!)

When Dad, Robert Taylor, was sixteen he had a flock of sheep on the prairie east of town (Alexandria, Nebraska). He had a collie dog to help him. Dad would come into town on the weekends for supplies. He’d spend the weekend with his family. He’d leave his collie dog to guard the sheep. He would hop the hop the freight train to come and go.

One wintery day he was going to hop the train to go back to camp. The train always slowed down so he could hop on, the steps up the box car were icy and he lost his grip and fell under the train. The left leg was cut off just below the knee. When he landed the other foot flew up against the wheel and the engineer slammed on the brakes and the brake shoe caught his foot between it and the wheel. He lost two toes on the right foot.

The train crew took him home and Grandpa said to Grandma, “You aren’t going to take care of a cripple”. So they took him to the drug store. He was put on a cot in the back.

A doctor from Fairbury came through the snow, with a dentist to clean up the wound and amputate the stump at the knee. They gave him brandy till he passed out so they could saw off the stump. He charged Grandpa $50.00 but Grandpa had to sign a note for that.

The doctor filed a claim against Grandpa’s estate for the money. Dad’s Uncle John paid it.

When infection set in the wound and the town’s people were worried about him, and old Indian, that lived in a cave along the banks of the Sandy River, came [borrowing a wagon and a team of horses] and took him to the cave. A lot of the townspeople objected because they knew the Indian would let him die.

Dad told me how his left leg hurt him even after it was buried. The Indian went and dug it up and straightened it when he reburied it, it didn’t hurt Dad anymore.

The Indian doctored him with herbs and roots and in 6 weeks Dad was taken home walking and using a crutch the Indian made out of a tree limb. Dad later had a peg leg made. I don’t ever remember him having a new one, but it was repaired several times. Since he only needed one shoe, he found a man in Geneva that had the opposite leg missing. When Dad would buy a pair of shoes he’d give the other to him and next time the man bought the shoes.

Uncle John went out and brought the sheep in and sold them for Dad. Dad bought part of the homestead [30 acres] and built a one room house. That room became the kitchen after he added on the living room, dining room and 2 bedrooms. Later, I remember vaguely about this, he moved in a one room school house. That became the boy’s room.

I was told he had only six months schooling yet he was able to read, write and do math. Aunt Violet taught her brothers and sister after she graduated from Normal School. That’s what they called teachers education then. She also at one time taught in Alexandria High School. Some of our older brothers and sister were her students. I don’t know which ones.

He built up a dairy herd, had chickens and pigs. He planted fruit trees and a garden. He could handle a team of horses with the best of them. When he was 18 years old he and Aunt Dora went down to Oklahoma to be part of the “Sooner’s Land Rush”.

At 12:00 noon on April 22nd 1889 the government opened up the Oklahoma territory to homesteaders. They were driving a buckboard with their supplies. They argued who would drive the team. Aunt Dora won. They were driving a fast as they could. She drove into a rut and broke a wheel. So they lost out.

He was always looking for odd jobs to do. He was hired to mow the weeds along the right of way of the streets in town. One day he was just finishing up and as he planned he was right by his house. His collie dog was with him everywhere he went. The dog must of thought he was going into the home place and when he didn’t, the dog named “Bud”, got excited and jumped in front of the mower and his legs were cut off. Dad went to his house and got his pistol and shot the collie. He mourned the loss of his dog for a long time.

Dad lived alone until he married at the age of 26. He added on to the one room house. He also built a barn, chicken house, and later a concrete block building that became the wash house and cream separating house. (Coal was also stored there).

He worked at moving houses, digging water wells and putting on lightning rods on houses and barns. [For the house moving] He felled huge trees and shaped them into rollers, and he made pulleys. He had to buy jacks and rope but with his team of horses he’d move houses. The shortest distance for moving houses was across the street. The Catholic Church was moved. It was a wooden building and they wanted to build a brick one. The wooden building became a family residence. The farthest was 30 miles and it took two weeks. When he arrived to start jacking up the house the lady was packing dishes. He told her to just leave them. He’d move the house and not break a dish. If he did, he’d buy her new set. Not one was broken.

Dad had built a building in back of his furniture store, so the men could target practice. One day when she was getting old, Annie Oakley came to town. She challenged the men to a shooting match, Dad accepted. They were to hold it in his building on Saturday afternoon. She didn’t like it, because she would have to stay over too many days, but she eventually went along with it.

The farmers came to town on Saturday for supplies. The word spread fast. Dad charged admission and the building was packed. Annie was mad about that but they held the contest. Dad beat her by one shot. She left town in her buggy just a whipping the horses and cussing. She’d been taken by a cripple. Dad got the winnings and the admission money.

He owned a furniture store, sold new harness, repaired harness and shoes. He owned several houses that he rented and later sold. We lost everything in the depression except the home place. One winter we had nothing but potatoes and milk to eat until the spring garden came in. We never went on welfare like most everyone else did.

When I was about 12 (1933), Dad had about 75 swarms of bees. I helped tend them. In the winter everyone, that is, those who would, would fold the square boxes that honey came in. They were thin and fragil[e]. It took great care or they would break. It seemed we folded thousands. These fit into “supers”, (the boxes put on top of the hives).

When we harvested in the fall we didn’t use any netting. We just had a smoker. After the super was removed, the squares of honey were taken out and “brood wax” scraped off. It was packaged 5 squares to a package. I would go door to door and sell it. One day I sold $5.00 worth. It sold for 10 cents a square.

One year we had an acre of tomatoes. Mom raised the plants in the hot frame she built. When they were ripe we sold them for $1.00 a bushel. I enjoyed taking the basket and wagon to pick them. They were so big and beautiful.

When I was in high school we raised a big patch of sweet potatoes. When they were ready to dig Dad and I went and did it. He had dug one hole and I put my hand into the hole to pick-up the potatoes just as he rammed the shovel in again. It scrapped the skin off my fingers. He handed me his handkerchief and told me to go to the house. I stayed and we finished the job. My fingers were sore for a couple weeks and I was studying typing. I stayed with the class and got all my work in.

Dad never asked me how it was healing but I noticed he was always there when I changes the dressing. I know he hurt inside.

During the Japanese-Chinese war he gathered up coats, blankets, sweaters, shoes, anything they could wear and at his own expense sent them to China. I wonder how many fit those little guys. He had a book about the war with pictures. Hazel burned it when she cleaned out the house. I’d give a fortune to have had that and Mom’s cook book.

I read in a movie magazine that the movie star Robert Taylor had seen Dad on the street of Beatrice and asked his name. He liked it and used it for his stage name. His real name is Arlington Bough.

Dad was known all over the south and western parts of the state as, “Peg-leg Bob”. He never gipped anyone. His word was always good. He got gipped several time but he said they would pay later (when they died).

I couldn’t figure out how he knew what the days Sunday school lesson was, until I stayed home on Sunday and heard it on the radio. I guess you could say in his own way he believed!

One Sunday we were going to Uncle Ed’s for dinner. The whole family was invited. So on Saturday, Bob, Hazel and I washed and polished Dad’s car. We swept out the interior. It looked real good. On Sunday we were driving along and Dad spit out the window, but the window was closed! We didn’t dare laugh, but to this day it’s funny.

In the winter the boy’s bedroom was always so cold. The boys were called by Dad to get up and do their chores. The second time he called them he would emphasize his foot steps by stomping on the peg leg. You can bet the covers flew then. Bob and I were laughing about that the other day. We think Dad was laughing inside as he stomped.

On the day of his funeral all the stores closed and the church was so crowded that people were standing outside.

His death was caused by a stroke. A week before he died there was a tornado and the roof was blown off the hospital and rain was pouring in. The hospital personnel moved all the patients to a school but when my brother Lewis went to see how he was he couldn’t find him. He went to the hospital to double check but all the beds were empty.

They found him under the bed! He had rolled out of bed and under to get out of the rain.

Gone but not forgotten.

-LRW
The enclosed story is written of things told me by Aunt Violet. Some I remember. I have wished many times I’d had urged her to tell me more and that I’d written it down sooner.
I claim myself not responsible of there is any part not true.
I also apologize for errors in spelling, punctuation, construction and composition. I have forgotten more than I ever learned.
Louise R. Watson
(Rosebell Louise Taylor)

(This is a compilation of letters and statements written by my mother, Louise R. Watson. One letter was dated in 1980 to my brother, Charles. I am glad she wrote this down. Very few edits were done as I believe the original should not be edited. The original contains the flavor of the writer and the times.) (Sandra Watson)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

"Pert Near!"

They called him “Purt Near Perkins,”
  for unless the booger lied,
He'd purt near done most everything
  that he had ever tried.
He'd purt near been a preacher
   and he'd purt near roped a bear;
He'd met up with Comanches once
   and purt near lost his hair.
He'd purt near we an heiress
   who had money by the keg,
He's purt near had the measles,
   and he'd purt near broke his leg.

He'd purt near been a trail boss,
   and accordin' to his claim,
He'd purt near shot Bill Hickock –
   which had purt near won him fame!
He'd purt near rode some broncs    upon which no one else had stuck
In fact he was the feller
   Who had purt near drowned the duck!

Now mostly all the cowboys
   On the Lazy SB spread,
They took his talkin' with a grin
   And let him fight his head.
But one named Tom Maginnis
   Sorter told it to him rough:
“You're ridin' with an outfit now
   Where 'purt near' ain't enough!
We tie our lasso ropes to the horn,
   An' what we ketch we hold,
And 'purt near' is one alibi
   We never do unfold!
In fact, right now
   I'll tell you that no word I ever hear
Sounds quite so plain damn useless
   As that little pair: 'purt near'!”

That's how ol' Tom Maginnis
   Laid it out upon the line,
And like a heap of preachin' talk,
   It sounded mighty fine.
But one day Tom Maginnis
   While a-ridin; off alone,
He lamed his horse
   And had to ketch some neighbor nester's roan
To ride back to the ranch on.
   But somewhere along the way
A bunch of nesters held him up,
   And there was hell to pay!

Tom claimed he hadn't stole the horse –
   Just borrowed it to ride.
Them nesters hated cowboys,
   And they'd told him that he lied.
They cussed him for a horsethief
   And they'd caught him with the goods.
They set right out to hang him
   In a nearby patch of woods.
They had pore Tom surrounded,
   With their guns all fixed to shoot.
It looked like this pore cowboy
   Sure had heard his lost owl hoot!

They tied a rope around his neck
   And throwed it o'er a limb
And Tom Maginnis purt near knowed
   This was the last of him.
The suddenly a shot rang out
   From somewhere up the hill!
Them nesters dropped the rope and' ran,
   Like nesters sometimes will
When bullets start to whizzin'.
   Tom's heart leapt up with hope
To see ol' Purt Near Perkins
   Riding' towards him at a lope.

“Looks like I purt near
   Got here just in time,” ol' Perkins said,
“To see them nesters hang you!”
   Tom's face got kinder red.
“You purt near did! He purt near grinned.
   “they purt near had me strung!
You're lookin' at a cowboy
   That has pert near just been hung!
And also one that's changed his mind –
   For no word ever said,
Can sound as sweet as 'purt near',
   When a man's been purt near dead!”
             – S. Omar Baker

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Great Inventions

Every now and then, many years ago, the family was visited by missionaries. Dad deflected the teaching they were there to teach by showing off an invention of his. One time one missionary was enthralled by the latest invention, the other was standing, watching on the porch with Mom. He finally turned to her as asked if Dad had ever made something for her? She responded, "why sure. He made me a solar clothes dryer." The young gentleman's eyes popped wide. "That is amazing. Did he have difficulty in making that?" "Well, yes, he had to make sure the posts were exactly square from each other with a slight tilt away from the strain of the wires going back and forth between the posts." His expression immediately changed when he looked at the back yard and saw the clothesline.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Water Skiing, Not

My brother Bill was very skilled at water skiing. He could stay up for a long, long time. He once stayed up, skiing in the deep channel between Apache Lake Dam and nearly to Canyon Lake. That is a 14 mile stretch. With the boat, that was nearly 1/2 hour of steady skiing. From time to time we would travel to Puerto Penasco near Rocky Point in Mexico. This little community lies on the eastern shore of the Gulf of California. Bill was water skiing in the Gulf and was getting a little tired. He had thought about dropping into the water and end the ride. There is nothing to change your mind about quitting skiing than the appearance of a single fin through the water. Sharks tend to be solitary swimmers and the appearance of a single fin was exciting. Bill continued to ski then the appearance of numerous fins marked that location as safe. Dolphins are not solitary, but swim in groups. The appearance of several fins screamed "SAFE" to my brother. Dolphins, not only were a safe bet, but will chase off sharks. Into the water Bill went.

I have graduated.

I know, this is a little delayed, but I passed my last requirement to my degree, Associates Degree in Accounting. This is great news. I am announcing this a little late, and I hope you will forgive me. I have graduated, but I do not have my diploma, yet. You see, I have to make an appointment with a counselor, so they can double check to see if I have indeed fulfilled the requirements. Besides The Powers That Be charge $15.00 for that piece of paper. It is as if my tuition does not count for anything. Sigh It is what it is.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Procrastination

I sit at the kitchen table, attempting to study because I want to pass my course - Writing 101, and I have a lot of reading to complete. A long time, 44 years, has elapsed since my last high school English class. I enjoy reading. Patricia Cornwell, Anne McCaffrey, and J. K. Rowling each have a pull on my attention when there is something of importance to do. Even reading the classics like Jane Austin, Shakespeare and Charles Dickens will wave at me as I pass by. I have many books set aside to read, but now I have little time. My current book reading is Harry Potter. I pick up that book and read, instead of studying. In high school, I thought I wanted to read Frankenstein by Mary Shelly. I checked the book from the library; I even read a few pages. I renewed that book over 10 times and carried the book to home and back to school. I finally realized that Frankenstein’s monster was never to become a part of who I am. I did love T.H White’s, Once and Future King, a spell binding story of King Arthur. It was made into the Broadway play and Hollywood movie “Camelot.” I have L’ Mort d’ Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory to read on my Kindle. I am enchanted by the Knights of the Round Table, the ladies in waiting and the situations, and, of course, the lives of King Arthur, Queen Guinevere and Sir Lancelot, an epic love triangle amongst the royals. I did not have a difficult time in reading that particular book and I want to read it again. Will I stop what I am doing to read that book? Probably not. Back to the subject of school. Verbs, adverbs, nouns, pronouns. Adjectives, preposition, conjunctives, not to mention interrogatives. I have a question: gerund, is that something used in a salad? I was confused in high school and my grades, though passing, showed a lack of concentration and ample confusion. Was my confusion due to my lack of interest and lack of applying myself to the task at hand? I believe my confusion was more like bringing a horse to water and trying to make it drink. I was in class but I was not thirsty enough to drink in the knowledge offered for free. Now it is different. I am paying for this class and my success or failure depends on me, alone. In a flash, I find myself up and rinsing dishes for the dishwasher. I find a counter which suddenly needs to be cleaned. Objects here and there that need to be placed in their respective, rightful places. I find myself in a spare room used for storage. I begin to pick and poke through the detritus in that space. I consider the tossing of a box and face reality. I pull myself away from the storage space and begin reading again. I make a few notes and read some short stories. The plus is the stories are short. I look at the syllabus again, and read another story. I find myself distracted, again. There is a basket of laundry in the spare room. I pull the basket out and see if anything can be resurrected. Yes. I have recently started a new job and I will need clothing. Some have some issues but I believe I can put things to right and increase my wearable wardrobe. My mind wanders outside of the house. I have some repairs to do, but they have all waited patiently for some time. I cannot afford to have them call out to me and distract me from this goal. Procrastination: the act of delaying. According to the on line Free Dictionary by Farlex, it is: To put off doing something, especially out of habitual carelessness or laziness. Funny, I don’t feel particularly lazy. The same posting is using the definition To postpone or delay needlessly, in the second verb. Procrastination: the state of mind where we put off until later, what we should be doing now. Procrastinate. I look up the word in another source. The word procrastinate (just before procreation and after proconsul) in my dictionary. I can relate to that word. Why else would it take so long to take the courses for essentially a 2 year degree. Lord Chesterfield is quoted “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” I am always able to put off until tomorrow. The laundry begins to mock me, begging me to stop studying. I ignore the laundry as it has waited this long, another day or two will not make a difference. I am determined to finish this class, and will continue to follow the syllabus. That does not guarantee that I will not do a repair or two outside, in the meantime. Maimon, Elaine P, Peritz, Janice H., Yancey, Kathleen Blake. The Writer’s Resource, fourth edition. New York, NY. McGraw Hill. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Home and Office Edition. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, Publishers; Springfield, Massachusetts Copyright 1995 The Free Dictionary http://www.thefreedictionary.com/procrastination 1/30/14 Brainy Quote http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/l/lordcheste163891.html 1/30/14