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A Farmer's Daughter
In The 50's

 

 

by Patsy "Baker" Hargrove

 I was born across the state line in the little town of Lepanto, Arkansas, but my childhood memories began down a dirt road in Southeast Missouri.  My home was about five miles down that road between a little spot on the road called Maguire's Store, and the far end, which we called Little Walnut.

 

    My dad was a farmer throughout my childhood.  He never owned his own farm, but when we moved to Missouri, he rented land from a man names U. S. Holliman, where we raised cotton, corn, & soybeans.  I don't really remember Dad ever having any "down time" like the farmers have these days.  After the cotton was picked and the other crops laid by, we still worked right up 'till Christmas.  We would pick cotton bolls and Dad would clean ditches, so that we could have Christmas.

 

    I don't think you were ever too young to not have something to do.  Even before I started school, there was no such thing as a babysitter.  I would ride the tractors and trucks with Dad.  If someone was on a return trip from the gin or grainer, and Dad knew he was going to be late into the night getting home, he would put me in the truck with that farm hand to send me home.  I even remember sleeping in the floorboard of the truck when we were running late.

 

    I also remember having a lot of fun playing on what we called the sand hill.  We would dig caves in the sand by the side of the road.  There were also some wild cherry trees that we loved to get into.  We would eat a lot and pick a lot more to give to Mom to make jelly.

 

    We had an old coal stove to warm the house, which wasn't easy since you could see through the cracks in the walls, but the old stove always kept the kitchen warm.  Mom was a great cook.  I still remember the wonderful sugar cookies she would make.  She would dry orange peels to grate into the mix, which made that old house smell so good.

 

    During the days in the winter months, the old quilt frame was dropped down from the ceiling, and the women would listen to "Stella Dallas."  Sometimes at night all of the families would get together.  We had wonderful uncles that would tell us tall tales about the headless horseman that they always saw around the Indian graveyard. 

 

    From Maguire store down to the sand hill was really our road.  We had family that was close including aunts, uncles, and cousins.  After a day of playing, all of the kids would end up together in a big washtub on the back porch, which by today's standards would probably be considered child pornography.  We didn't know what a bathroom looked like.  I even remember when we didn't have electricity.

 

    Other fond memories were Easter and Christmas.  All of the families got together for Easter egg hunts and opening presents.  We always had big holiday dinners.  Of course by the time it was time for the kids to eat, there wasn't that much left.  In those days, the men ate first, then the women.  Then it was time for the kids to eat.  You had better like wings and backbones off the chicken, because that's all that was left.

 

    I only remember living on two farms down that old dirt road.  About the time I turned 12 or 13 we moved to the Fletcher farm.  I believe we farmed about 280 acres.  We had cows, pigs and chickens, plus a garden to gather, and then can the vegetables.  As far as Dad was concerned there was no such thing as "girl jobs" or "boy jobs."  It was just a job that needed done and someone had to do it.  As a matter of fact my husband first saw me changing a tire on a trailer of cotton!  We had one day that we killed chickens.  We would hang them on the clothesline, cut their heads off, let them bleed, then put them in some boiling water.  Then we had to pluck all of the feathers off, wrap them, and put them in the freezer.  We also killed a pig so we would have ham, bacon, sausage and pork chops.  Boy!  I thought we were so poor, but now I look back on this as some of the best times of our lives.

 

    I did not do very well in school, but I loved every minute of it and all  my classmates.  A few of my friends would come to the house after church.  Before we could drive a car, we would ask Dad if we could drive the tractor to the store or another friends house.  Sometimes we would just walk the railroad tracks.  Mom and Dad always loved when the kids came home with us from church and they especially loved the kids calling them Mama & Papa Baker.

 

    Mom and Dad worked hard and put in long hours.  Sometimes we didn't see Dad from one weekend to the next because he was always in the field working 'till about midnight, then up and gone back to the fields by the time we left for school.  One thing is for sure though, we always knew we were loved.

 

    Dad fell on hard times, I think around 1958 or 1959, when the weather did not let him get his crops gathered.  His allotment was due (what the Fletcher's allotted him to farm on,) the gas for the tractors, and farm equipment.  He struggled for a couple of years and after a lot of tears and prayers, he and Mother left our dirt road and moved to California.  He got a job on an apple orchard working the trees, driving the tractors, and getting the apples ready for the cannery.  He also worked on a dairy farm.  Mom had never worked public work before, but she went to work at the hospital as a cook.  Between the two of them, they worked and saved and paid off everyone they owed money to when they left Missouri.  When Dad passed away a few years ago, Jack and Pat Fletcher stopped by to pay their respects and said Bill Baker was the only man that ever owed him money, left the state, and still paid him every cent.  As a matter of fact, when Mom and Dad moved back to Missouri, Dad farmed for the Fletcher's again.

 

    Dad also worked for Gideon school  district.  He was a bus driver and a custodian.  After he had to retire from the school, he still worked for Jack and Pat Fletcher taking care of their yard and swimming pool.  Many thanks to the Fletcher's for having faith in my Dad and giving our family a place to call home down a dirt road that as far as I know is still a dirt road.

 

    Most of all, I thank my Heavenly Father for giving me wonderful parents that taught me that love is more than just hugs and kisses.  It means working together through hard times.  Even though I lived in an old farm house, down an old dirt road, and thought that everyone else had so much more than I did, I had love from a wonderful family, and friends that I went to the same school with for 12 years and the same God that lived with me in that old house still lives with me today.

 

"Down on the farm"

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
         
         
     

 

 

 

 

 

   
       
         
         
   

 

 

 

Class of 1959

by Donald Blackwood

                                                          

 Friendship is a wonderful thing. As we go through life we make many friends. Some are special friends that we depend on for advice and help.  But classmates are Super Special.  Nowhere in life will we make friends like classmates.

 

Most of us started out as little children in 1947 in the first grade.  We could cry at the least thing and be very embarrassed, but we live through it.  Some little girls wanted to bring their dolls, which didn't seem fair since I couldn't bring my cap pistol.  We finally made third, fourth, and fifth grade.  We could laugh and play together - mostly boys with boys and girls with girls. Then we went into seventh and eighth grade. Now we're growing up (WE THOUGHT).


As we became juniors and seniors we were adults ready to go out and take the world.  I don't know about taking the world, but we sure made some great friends growing from little children into adults together.

 

To all my classmates of 59', thanks for the help growing up.

 

"Down on the farm"
 

Gideon Seniors 1959
Copyright 2001 by [Gideon Seniors 1959]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 06/03/09 15:20:38 -0700.