We Moved to Monegaw Springs
Me, about age 5 Years Old
The following year (1938-39) my family, (myself, mother & dad) moved to "town" - Monegaw Springs. I was 5 years old, and since my dad had gotten the teaching job at the one and only school, we moved to a house about 100 yards from it. The house was on the main street that went thru the town, which was mostly dirt and creek gravel.
The school that my dad was teaching was one room, with 50 some students. From the first grade up to the 8th grade. I made many new acquantences after this move, among them was "Chop" Carter and J.D. Weant. More about these two in a lot of later stories.
Working on the WPA
To my utter delight, the first summer we were in this house, the WPA (The Works Progress Administration under President Roosevelt) had a crew of men rebuilding the main street, and the road leading west out of town. I would sit for hours watching these men with their shovels and picks building this road. One of the men took a great liking to me, and I to him. His name was "Ol Joe". I never did know his last name. Ol Joe was a black man. The very first black person I had ever seen. He was the first black person all my playmates had ever seen, also. He became quite an attraction to us kids, and he enjoyed every minute of it.
Joe would sit under a shade tree eating his lunch from a brown paper bag, and he had quite an audience from us kids. Finally, my mother saw the connection and every day for several weeks she would fix me a lunch in a brown paper bag so I could go join Joe during his lunch. What a treat. This kept up until the road progressed so much that the work crew was no longer in sight and I was forced to quit my lunch-time socializing.
About this time, my mother got sick. She had to go the hospital in Appleton City, which was about 25 miles away. It was very serious. She had double pneumonia, and the family was gathered together and I was told that she probably would die. I really didn't know the complications of this, but I knew it was a very bad thing. There was a lot of weeping, praying, and all sorts of strange things going on around me.
Finally, I was told that she would be O.K., and would not die. (Note: She lived to be 99 years old). After her return home things progressed as they should for a 5 year old boy. About this time, a neighbor boy, Charles Carter and I became acquainted.
"Tip" Gets His Nick-Name
Charles Carter, about my age, and I became great buddies. My dad had a two wheel trailer which he used to move us with behind his car. This was parked at the edge of the yard, and Charles and I would run up in the bed of this trailer until it "tipped", than run back to the other end so that it "tipped" back. This was great fun. For awhile. At one of these "tipping" sessions, I lost my balance and fell out of the trailer onto a pile of rocks. I got all skinned up, and wailed like a banshee to get as much sympathy as possible.
I made such an issue of my injuries that the other kids we played with started calling me "Tippie". The name stuck. All thru school I was known as "Tippie" and later in life, the nick-name became shortened to "Tip". To this very day "Tip" is the name my family and friends know me by.
This house had a front porch and had a crawl space under it about 3 feet tall. Someone, my parents most likely, had gathered piles of wild walnuts and hickory nuts, which were plentiful in the area. All you had to do was gather them. This was before walnut wood became so valuable, and wild walnut trees still grew everywhere in the area. Whoever gathered these nuts was none of us kid's concern. All we understood was that if you put one on a rock and banged another rock down on it, it would open to some delicious eating. We whiled away the days eating nuts, running thru the timber, and just plain enjoying being alive.
I didn't know many of the older kids, but they passed right by our house on the way to school. The only one I can remember for sure at the time was named Dianna Ferguson. The only way I remember her us kids would sing her a chant when she went past, and it was "Dianna Lee, Come Here To Me". Why I remember that, I don't have any idea. But I had earned my name, "Tippie", or, later, "Tip".
"Chop" Gets His Nick-Name
Shortly after my run-in with my dad's two wheel trailer in which I earned the nick-name of "Tippie", my bosom buddy, also about 5 years old, earned his name.
Now his real name was Charles Carter. He lived about 100 yards up the road from our house, in a huge old building that was known in those days as the "Carter Hotel". I suspect that at one time, it was a real hotel, but I can't remember any except his family living there. I was told that Charles' mother had died when he was born. If he had any older brothers, I never knew them, but he did have some older sisters, two or three of which I can remember.
This old building was no doubt hard to heat, and it took a lot of firewood to keep it warm in winter. His dad had accumulated a very large pile of firewood which he split some about every night. They heated, and cooked, with this wood.
One day, Charles and I were loafing around his house, and he decided the thing to do was to help his dad split some wood. The deal was, he would split it, and I would carry it in the house. Things went smoothly for awhile, when I heard a loud wailing and gnashing of teeth. Charles had missed the block of wood, and hit his bare foot with the axe. I don't remember what happened immediately after that, as I was sent home.
A few days later, us kids ventured up to Charles' house to see how he was. He was up and around, but had his foot all bandaged and he limped a lot. We kinda thought it was funny (for some reason) and started calling him "Choppy". He kept the name "Choppy" all thru grade school, and later as he got older, it got shortened to "Chop". He lived the rest of his life with the name "Chop Carter". Not long after this the old house they were living in burned down. Everything they had was gone.
So, they did what many would do today. His dad, Chop, and the sisters all moved in with Chop's grandparents which was about two city blocks away. The grandparent's house was very small, but they made it work, somehow. I remember his grandad was very frail, and seldom was seen outside the house. His grandmother had to do most of the cooking, washing, and other housework for all of them. Probably Chop's sisters helped the grandmother a lot, I don't remember.
I do remember that his grandmother smoked a corn cob pipe. Either she didn't like it, or couldn't afford it, I never knew which, but she did not smoke tobacco in that pipe. She smoked a broad leafed plant that grew wild called "mullein". Chop and I would go out in the timber hunting this mullein and gather the big leaves for his grandmother. She would hang them up to dry, then crumble them to resemble pipe tobacco, and smoked it in her pipe. I never tried this, but I often wondered how it tasted. She lived to be in her nineties, so I guess it did not hurt her much. Anyway, this is how Chop got his nick-name!
Note! This is off the time line, but it's as good a time as any for this notation. After Chop and I learned to read fairly well, we found that his grandmother had a shoe box full of old newspaper clippings and old photographs. We would spend hours going thru these and reading those old clippings. Most of them had to do with escapades of the Youngers (who were local men), the James Brothers (who frequently visited Monegaw), a lot about the War Between the States, and an article about Harry Truman when he visited Monegaw to drink the healing Sulphur Spring water. This was before he became famous as a politician, he was a business man from Independence, MO. What ever happened to these notes and photographs, I never found out. They just were never found after the grandmother died.
"The Case of the Mad Dogs"
My mother and I could never get enough fishing time in to satisfy us. She loved to go fishing, and so did I. We went any chance that came up.
One day a lady friend of my mother's came to visit and they decided to go on a fishing trip in Little Monegaw Creek, and I was allowed to go along. The place we were going was about 3/4 mile upstream from the town. It was way out in the sticks. We walked to this creek and started fishing. All was fine for some time - until the hounds started yowling. There was a pack of hounds in the timber, and they were coming our way.
Well, my mother and this other lady were scared to death, as they both believed that the hounds had hydrophobia, causing them to act the way they did. The belief at the time was that a mad dog would not go near water. (I doubt this is true, but that is what we believed). Both ladies threw down their fishing poles, grabbed me, and waded out into the creek. The water was about 4 feet deep at this point, and they believed the hounds could not get to them.
Shortly after getting into the water, the hounds went past where we were, as they were chasing a fox or something. No mad dogs amongst them! However, my mother and the other lady were so shaken after such a scare that we went back home as fast as my short legs would take us. That ended our fishing trip!