Chief By Donna Flood
Chapter 4 -
Down Sunflower Lane
Down Sunflower Lane to
the south of the house there was a deep water hole in Elm Creek. Years
of run off water from the prairie had dropped down and swirled with
strength, so that, this place was cut out from the rocky terrain. When
the water was running over the rocks that had beeen used to dam up the
creek, it was a wonderful place to swim. The trouble was, when summer
came, and there was only stagnant, standing water, the stream became
a breeding place for Leonches, malaria, and typhoid.
Mariah and Weldon knew
they were not to swim in the murky waters at that time but, of course,
kids will often do what they want. If there was an opportunity, when
the adults were busy, they would slip off to their favorite pass time.
The two werent even bothered by the nasty, slug like parasites, or
Leonches, to be pulled from their skin, when they climbed out of the
water. Diving deep and splashing in the cool waters was worth the
misery of the Leonches, they felt.
Too late, the adults
became aware of what the children were doing on the sly and Mariah
became deathly ill with typhoid. The best medical care was of
little help to her. She languished for weeks with that fever. The
girl lost her hair. A nurse stayed in their home and tended the
girl, continually. Bertha and Leon, her Uncle, took turns along
with the nurse to bathe the girl with cloths dipped in cool water,
when her fever was so high. Finally, she began to make some
progress toward being well, but her recovery was slow. Even after
they felt she was going to live, it was as if the illness had taken
something away from her. Never again was she the same as she had
been. Just as Bertha had treated her son with the Osage cultural
teachings of making the children central to their lives, she now
became even more concerned with her daughters survival. Mariahs
every whim was now met. Dean and Bertha were in agreement over
this and he was totally, the doting father.
illness made an imprint on his mind. Maybe, in his childlike way,
he felt responsible in some way. Forever after that he and his
sister became close. They were never too far apart at any time. If
you saw one, sooner or later, the other would be around and there
for each other.
was probably the reason for the whole familys moving to Ponca City,
a small oil town, approximately sixty miles from the ranch. There
were clean swimming pools of great beauty, Olympic size and in the
most elegant settings in that oil rich community. The schools were
excellent and offered more than the school at Foraker, in one way,
but, in another way, they didnt. In Ponca there was a different
attitude toward the races. If Bertha had been one of the more
slender, beautiful Osage girls with money, she might have been
accepted. At any rate, she was miserable. Neither was Mariah the
pampered girl living in a beautiful home in a ranchers paradise.
She was just another girl among many. Weldon was cooped up in the
small area of his yard, only. Gone was his freedom for being able
to roam the acreage of the meadow, hunting and fishing with his
grandfather in the pastures, or learning to drive on the long dirt
roads; child that he was.
Bertha saw to it they
had the toys they wanted. He wasnt able to have an actual gun in
town, so she replaced this with a toy gun. A neighbor boy filched
the gun from Weldon one day, probably, just to torment him, as boys
Ill just go get
it. He was heard to say, and that is what he did.
If it was this
event, or so many other painful happenings on Berthas part, or
Deans selling of businesses he was sick to death of working, will
never be known. But, the whole family did return to the ranch
lands, and for a while, peace and satisfaction reigned.
Bertha was once again
seen tending her garden in her comfortable dresses and big hat.
Weldon and his now aging grandfather Joe were not the companions
they had been, but there were others, with whom he was able to
buddy. Mariah was happy to shop the towns for lovely clothes with
her mother once again, instead of being confined to just the shops
in Ponca City. Dean seemed to have the desire to own a business,
for the time, out of his system. His role was never one of the
rancher and; although, he could throw a rope with grace and skill,
ride as easily as any of the ranch hands, and knew how to instruct
cowboys, he just wasnt that interested in ranch
life. He loved the socializing and mixing with the many clubs he
joined. There were: The Masons, Knights Templar, International
Organization of Odd Fellows, and other groups he joined. He was on
the school board, a Game Warden, and held other positions for law
enforcement, all of which he rarely practiced. There wasnt any
need. The Rangers had taken care of that and the whole area was,
one of law-abiding ranchers and citizens. But, all of these
activities were keeping him away from his family and only years
later would he pay the price for his absence from his sons
formative years, so that Weldon didnt bond with his father, well
At the time when
Weldon, the man, would need him the most, Dean wasnt there for him,
even though he should have been.
Winters were spent in
Brownsville, Texas, by the family, far away from the freezing,
screeching, tearing winds of the prairie. Dean and Bertha owned a
home in those warm lands which were rich in farm produce. To be
able to pick oranges and grapefruit from trees in their backyard was
the ultimate experience, they believed.
Curtis Jones was born May 15, 1929. Here were some of the events to
happen that year:
The Federal Reserved
announced a ban on bank loans for margin (speculative) trading, in
Black Thursday was
on October 24th
The market rallied,
briefly on October 25th
On Black Tuesday
industrial stocks dropped nearly forty points, the worst drop in
Wall Street history.
Regardless of the Nations
woes, the Joneses were living well. Joe had carefully invested the money
of his sold property into building the ranch. It was a well-equipped
place for ranching with underground plumbing to stock tanks, housing for
tenants to work as caretakers and ranch hands. A dairy barn that had
cement runways for cleanliness, and, of course, the planned grounds for
home and daily living made the place a study in modern living. Joes
son, Leon, had a gift with inventions and these brought wind power for
electricity, an almost unheard of thing for outback places. Their
frugality caused them to can and dry the foods from the Valley of
Brownsville, and to bring it home with them. Some of the produce
remains now, some 70 years later, in the cool cellar behind the old
home place. The contents are dried and nothing but mush but is the
evidence of having been put there by the loving hands of Weldons
mother, Bertha and his grandmother, Bell.
The most hilarious part
of that life style was the goat they took with them, on a board attached
to the side of their car. Nanny stood, feet planted squarely, where
she was tied. She chewed her cud placidly and braved the trip as well,
or better, than the people.
The goat seemed to say,
Im of most importance!
This was definitely
true. Dean had learned a hard lesson by the way they lost Dempsey,
their first child, because of his allergies to cows milk. Nanny was
certainly needed. Leon had the job of milking the goat every day and
Weldon thrived on her provisions. If she thought about Sunflower Lane
and the prairie, it wasnt evident. Her playfulness, when free and
after they reached their destination, where it was warm made her the
happiest and most privileged of all goats.
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