From my home on the creek..........................To Jim........................................To the Trucks
The wedding, a week off for a quick honeymoon to Colorado, and we settled into life together in our little rented house…. Foolishly, we had gone shopping and bought a new couch and chair for the living room, and a bedroom set. The monthly payments with high interest, along with the car payment & rent taking nearly every cent Jim could bring home in a month. One month later I found out I was two months pregnant. As naïve and uneducated as I was, I had no idea. I remember the day I went to the hospital to have our son, my Mother said to me, “This is the hardest thing you’ll ever do…you’re about to grow up”.
After a very difficult 3 day labor & delivery, I did get through it and as I held my first born in my arms, I promised him we were in this together and I would never let anything harm him. My life was devoted to protecting him. Only later as I learned a little more about life did I realize this was possible only to a certain point......
Jim could not legally drive a truck until he was 21 years old, but shortly after his birthday the following October after our marriage, he took over the wheel of his Dad’s truck. This was a welcome event; he would now make $1.60 an hour… and for a while was guaranteed 50 hours a week hauling oil field equipment whenever and where ever it was ordered to go. The truck became my life as well. I went on a few jobs with Jim, helped unload a string of pipe a few times, or flagged in the rear if they were hauling wide loads..... The rest of the time, I just waited on the truck to come home.....
Jim’s Dad and all the drivers would meet at “the Grill” every morning at 5:00 a.m. to get orders for the day, Jim would stop by the house before he left, to tell me where he was going with an approximate time when he may return… Usually it was very late at night when he got home, as they delivered equipment all over the state…. It was not unusual to get a call in the middle of the night from someone needing something delivered out to a location…. Growing up in a home where the phone rang for work day and night, I was used to that. The big yellow lights on top of the truck, the hum of the winch line, and the sound of the motor when he left and came home are sounds & sights that will be with me forever…..
Even then we had a dream… Someday we wanted our own trucking company… It was a goal, our first goal. His Dad, still unable to get over the death of his wife and the mother of his children, was partying and drinking hard most of the time…I was given the job (with no pay) of answering the phone and dealing with the customers, taking orders for jobs and directing the trucks to the proper locations and times. Between Jim and I we were running his Dads’ company and seen no reason we couldn’t do it for ourselves. The customers loved Jim, he did a good job for them and during this time he learned a great deal about the equipment he was hauling.
Life in one’s “home town” has it’s plus’s but also a lot of minus’s… Having several of Jim’s good friends stopping by constantly became a problem. Single guys for the most part, I could expect them to drop in for dinner whenever they wanted. Any time off Jim spent with his friends. Not only was I trying to raise myself and our son, I was the babysitter for about three other 20 year old guys… There were very few moments Jim and I had together alone.
My only escape was to take my son and head out to visit my Mom, an excuse to go back to the creek where I could find solitude with my roots…. I did that far too often, being unable to handle the new world in town which was swallowing me up and I knew it. It did not help the situation. I was at the folk’s house when the news of JFK’s assignation happened. By then we had bought a black & white small tv and I remember sitting glued to it for a week. I was not a good homemaker or wife…..
Time passed and in 1963 I had a ruptured appendix, Jim was away on the truck so my folks drove me to the hospital…. My Doctor and hospital was 60 miles away. I was so sick, laying in the back seat on the way there, but I remember our son who was in the front seat between them, looking over the seat at me. Dad was driving very fast, they were quickly losing me. It was during that small crisis the doctors found out I was pregnant with twins, due in March of 1964. As it turned out they were born on Easter Sunday… Another hard pregnancy, as I progressed in size it got to the point where I could not drive because my abdomen was too large to fit behind the wheel and allow my feet to touch the pedals….
We had found a larger house, setting in another oil field truck yard, and was now paying $45 a month but it did have three bedrooms if you counted the old porch where our son slept. I found him one winter morning where his little blankets had frozen to the outside wall where his bed set. That day I moved his bed to the inside wall with the hope at least that we could keep him warmer… The girls shared one baby bed, not only could we not afford to have two, they enjoyed cuddling with other. We could hear the mice scurrying around the inside walls, there are many stories of those days…. It was about that time we acquired our first dog……I will post some of the stories later.
Jim’s dad could not get over the grief of losing his wife, and tried to drink his sorrows away. He eventually married a woman he had picked up at a bar who was only bad news for him and his family. The three little ones still at home, Grandma Lucy was ordered to move out, the only stable figure in their lives…. … The new wife, an alcoholic herself, put the family through hell with her own agenda full of hate and destruction, and in the end she won… Seven years later she walked out leaving Jim’s dad broken in heart and wallet.
With the internal family strife, the oil field boom long over with, Jim and I now a family of five with 3 little kids, making barely enough money to eat, unable to pay our debts, and very little hope of improving our lives, it was time to look for survival elsewhere. We seen our dreams of getting our own trucks extinguished, and there was nowhere to go but out. Out of our hometown and away from all of it if we had any hope for a future. Jim begin to look around for other jobs which with no education and very little experience except on the trucks, were very scarce...
In 1966 we got a call from my uncle who lived in Colorado He had an opening for a janitor in his machine shop…. He needed a family man who was willing to work hard and learn the machine’s working on oil field equipment. His job offer was the opportunity we had been looking for. The starting wage was $2.00 an hour, we were still only making $1.60. Jim left for week by himself to look over the job and look for a place for the five of us to live. We would rent a trailer to carry our belongings, and move two weeks later. One week after our move there, grandma Lucy died which delayed everything for a week.
My parents were very sad to see us leave but realized it was the only chance we had…. They agreed to keep the kids for a week, while Jim and I pulled our meager belongings 450 miles west…. I cried the entire way…. Leaving everything I knew and loved behind. Everything I knew and loved…my parents, Jim’s younger brother’s and sister, my friends, and my creek.
But we had to make this work…. We were in it together, we had responsibilities and three children to make a home for. Fifty miles down the road I was already missing the kids…Once again it was us against the world…. 20 miles from our destination we had a flat tired on the car.... Jim changed it and the spare took us on in....
It was during this first year in a new world, 450 miles from “home” when I first found my love for writing…. I sent a lot of letters back to the folks and to friends, but one letter in particular was to my parents telling of my love for them and the home they had made for me growing up… It was personal and poetic… It reflected everything in me, all the love I felt. Mom told me years later that Daddy had cried when he read it. I was so lonely and homesick for all we had left behind…..
The raise in wages from $1.60 to $2.00 an hour was great, but our rent increased from $45 a month to $80 a month! Could we ever get ahead? There were times during that first year that only beans or a fried egg was all there was for a supper meal, but we were too proud to tell anyone, or even think about going back home…..
We did find another old house to rent and it wasn’t long before we settled into a routine. We moved two more times in the next two years. Eventually things did get better….. Jim earned his way and was rewarded with raises. The third year we were finally able to buy our own home… We were acquainted with a family who were moving, they needed $1.000 down and someone to take over their FHA loan. We gave them $500 with a handshake and a promise to pay the other $500 in six months which we did. This was in 1969.