Dad and mom bought a farm by the coal pits southeast of Warner, OK in 1948. They had high hopes of growing corn, cotton and other cash crops. But high hopes and hard work did not provide enough money to keep the farm going.
The early 50’s were hard on small farmers as it was with most families in rural Oklahoma. It seemed to me that my folks were just hanging on, hoping that things would turn around next year. But it didn’t.
Consequently, the family migrated to California and other places to work the crops. The money earned would then be used to buy seed, fertilizer, etc. for another year at the farm. So come harvest time dad would pack our tent and we would follow the other migrant workers.
Several seasons we went to Stratford, California to follow the cotton and grape crops. Many times dad set goals for us to meet and when we met that goal we would be through for the day. He usually set the goal at 2000 lbs. when we picked cotton. We started early in the day when the cotton was heavy with dew.
He would announce the goal early in the day, most times about 6 AM. Usually by 2 PM we were over 2000 lbs and could call it a day. At $4.00 per 100 bs. $80.00 a day was a good family wage in 1951.
I believe it was 1952 when John Clark, a family friend, moved from Webber Falls to a small town in western Montana. He called dad for help. Acres and acres of golden wheat were ready for harvest when we arrived. Dad operated a combine that I pulled with a caterpillar and my brother drove a large tractor.
We worked for thirty days straight and went back home. Dad was paid $900. and Leo and I were paid $600. each. Dad took John Clark’s check to the bank and was paid partially in silver dollars which we had to spend. In those days the government frowned on hoarding silver.
The money was enough to buy school clothes and shoes for us kids with enough left over to buy seed and fertilizer for next years crop, and a little left over for the mortgage. Money earned belonged to the family.
Dad was a man of dreams, a man of convictions, a man of hope and ambition. But most of all he was a family man.