Thursday, January 22, 2009

One Leg of the Journey

Down and out, out of a house to live in and down on our luck. We were returning to our old Oklahoma farm house after our wild goose chase to Colorado. I think we had lived in Colorado about two and a half years. When our Daddy was finally able to scrape enough money together to move on, we made it to the border of Oklahoma. The name of the town was Hollis. It was late fall and there was a cotton picking job. We found the most pathetic shack to live it, from the man that owned the cotton field. Part of the roof was missing and sand had blown in. Much effort was spent by Daddy, Ray and Cecil to shovel out as much sand as possible. It was the aftermath of the great sand storms that hit that area in the mid 1930’s. I think we shared the house with much of the sand, but we had beds and a table and stove. It was the fall of 1937. It was unseasonably warm because we were going bare foot on Christmas day. It started getting too cold after Christmas to live in a house without window panes and part of the roof missing, so we found another house. We moved into a very nice house across the street from the school, but that was short lived. We couldn't afford the rent so we moved into a one room cabin. It had a small wood cooking range which also provided what heat we had. There was room for two beds and a table. I think we had a couple orange crates to sit on. Our Mama was expecting a baby, not that it was discussed with us kids, but we were smart enough to know the big belly meant a baby was on board. People were just out and out weird in those days, to utter the word pregnancy was like a dirty word, and you never heard anybody say the word. The common words you heard were expecting or heavy with child. I like that one, it sort of tells it like it is. We had no clue when the big event would happen, so we just waited until it did. It finally did, on January 26, 1938, when we arrived home from school, we were greeted by a baby brother, already named Hollis Harmon, the name of the town and the county we were living in.

We, the kids, thought that was about the dumbest name we had ever heard of so we immediately began calling him Sonny. That was what he was stuck with until he was old enough to go to school and the teachers got creative and renamed him Hollis again. I think we have all grown accustom to his name; however it has come up over the years as to how he acquired his name, after the city and county he was born in. I remember one time, as an adult, he was looking at an Oklahoma map and said, “Do you realize that if the folks had gone down the road another 25 miles, my name would be Altus Jackson. Daddy was getting a big hearty laugh out of that idea, when Mom said, "Too bad, we didn’t make it to Stillwater, we could have named you Stillwater Payne." The rest of us had a big hearty laugh at the thought of that title.

Hollis and Dar