I said in an earlier story, I love to swim. One of the most unusual places for me to swim was either in Elizabeth or Parker. I don’t recall the exact location. I was only there once. What made this swimming hole so unusual was the location of the pool. I had to walk through a butcher shop to get to the pool.
I entered the business and went past the front counter, with the steaks, chops and sausages in a case; I walked through a doorway into the back work area and then out a side door to the pool. The pool appeared to be made of fiberglass and was located right up beside the outside of the butcher shop, with the side of the pool against the wooden siding of the building. I walked out of the butcher shop onto a wooden deck that was about 6 feet x 12 feet. The size of the pool was about 12 feet x 16 feet and about 8 feet deep. It had a six foot tall wooden fence on three sides. The deck was the only place to stand as the building and fence were directly against the pool. I don’t recall who went with me, but it was not a private occasion. Apparently, anyone was allowed to swim there. On that day, a couple of young women, in their twenty’s, were there for swimming and maybe to buy a porterhouse steak. One of the women had a fairly newborn baby with her. Because of the limited space on the deck, and the number of people on the deck, an accident occurred. The baby, who was not in a stroller or carrier, fell into the pool and sank. I remember hearing the mother screaming and seeing what happened; I instinctively dived in and went to the bottom of the pool, snatched up the baby and headed to the surface with the baby held above my head. Thankfully, the baby was unharmed and the mother was grateful. As it turned out, this was the first of three lives, in which, I was used to save others from drowning.
There was another house we lived in, that I cannot mentally locate. I remember you had to go down a gravel road. The entry to the property was a single gate with high post, in the middle of a four wire barbed wire fence. The gate was also constructed from barbed wire with a weathered post at one end that you would attach a loop of wire that was attached to the high post, to close the gate. The drive was dirt and had very deep ruts. So deep, it was better to straddle the ruts and drive with one side of the car in the middle of the drive and the other side on rough pasture land. It lead to a two- story unpainted house that was, at least a half mile from the gravel road. We lived in this house in the winter and there was a lot of snow and it was very cold. At times, we would be snowed in, unable to get to the road because of snow drifts. I have several memories of this place.
One of the memories was the wood burning cook stove. I remember placing crumbled newspaper in one of the openings to start the fire and later, adding kindling to enlarge the fire. Mom cooked some great meals on that stove using her cast iron skillet. I’m sure that wasn’t the only heat source in the house, but I do remember checking on my Dad as he slept one night. I opened his bedroom door and the room was extremely cold. He used an electric blanket to counter the coldness. From the light coming from the hallway, I could see frost on the nylon banding of the electric blanket, which had formed from his breath. He was snoring so I knew he was ok.
I always enjoyed when we would have relatives come for a visit. The Christmas of 1959, we had my Mom’s brother, ‘Preacher’ Barron visiting and we also had my Dad’s brother, Uncle Loy and his family. The house was full and we had fun. One day, we all went to a small to medium sized pond that had frozen over. The depth of ice thickness was tested by the adults and was determined to be safe. We went on the ice to slide around. I say slide around, because we didn’t have ice skates, just our shoes. We were having a great time. After a while, the excitement level peaked, when Uncle Loy drove his car onto the ice! I thought he had lost his mind. The ice could have cracked and the pond could have swallowed Uncle Loy and his car. I have only felt frightened twice while in Uncle Loy’s presence. On this occasion and once when we were traveling from Colorado, coming into Oklahoma City about three o’clock in the morning. His bright lights shown on a man in a white shirt and white pants covered in blood and dirt. Uncle Loy reached under his seat and pulled out a pistol, but that’s another story for another time.
During this same time period, Uncle ‘Preacher’ was working for the people who owned the house as a ranch hand. He was to feed the cattle, especially since the ground was covered in snow. He took me with him one day to help him. We loaded the light green Jeep pick-up with hay bales. Back then, they were standard size hay bales, not the big round bales we see today. We were then supposed to drive around the pasture slowly, throwing hay bales off the back of the pick-up. He asked me to drive so that he could throw the hay. I had never driven before, so he gave me instructions on how to put the truck into gear, easing off the clutch and then to go slowly around pasture. He had placed hay bales on the top of the cab and fairly high in the back of the pick-up. I got behind the wheel and he climbed on top of the hay. My driver’s side window was half way down, so I could hear his instructions to me. He called out for me to begin. I pushed the clutch in, placed the transmission in gear and I gave it some gas to increase the revs. As I was easing out the clutch, my foot slipped from the pedal. That caused the truck to lurch forward and stall. The engine was now dead. I heard a thud from behind the pick-up. As I sat in the driver’s seat, I turned my head toward the half open window and waited. Physically, I take after Mom’s side of the family and I am built similarly to my uncle. My big muscular uncle, made his way to my window, limping as he walked in the snow. I had caused him to be catapulted from the top of the soft hay to the hard frozen ground. He hooked his leather gloved fingers on the half opened glass, looked at me and said “Son, Are you trying to break an egg in me?” I was never sure why he worded his statement the way he did, but I got the meaning.
As Christmas day approached, we didn’t have any money for Christmas presents. A local church brought out a box of used toys to our house. Brenda and I were told we could each pick one toy. We also received a small brown paper sack, which contain a red apple, a naval orange, and a peppermint. I think this was the first time I had seen God’s provision from people outside of our family. I will always appreciate the thoughtfulness behind the gesture and know it was generated by God’s love.
I want to tell you about Castle Rock and Denver. That will be On To Colorado Part 3.
Maybe you recall a time when you saw God provide for you or His people sharing His love. Tell me about it.