Joe had always been known as a dapper
gentleman. There was never a day he didn't wear a full suit of clothing.
His watch and chain always in place and although his suit was well worn it
was never threadbare or not presentable. Pictures of him in his youth
always showed a soft cravat around his neck. The elderly feeble man was
now at the age of ninety-six. He was never ill, and he had been an ever
stable presence for the children all through their years of growing up. He
hardly ever spoke. He had always been a man of action and that did not
change even though these days he was as crisp and as fragile as the
matches he always kept on hand in order to light his ever handy pipe.
For some reason Joe's personality had taken a change. He now almost always
made a time to speak with the children, especially the older of the two,
his granddaughter and grandson. The stories he told were matter of fact
renditions of events to have transpired during his life time starting with
a statement. "They burned our house while mother and we
children stood in the root cellar. I watched them through the cracks in
the boards of the door." The children would then by
necessity to learn more have to ask questions that he might elaborate on
his family's experience with the civil war.
On one occasion he made the statement, "I ran my race horse next to a
red headed gal, the horse died that night and she died the next day."
As the story came out in bits and pieces it was to tell of the run he made
for land in Oklahoma.
"Dad was a rancher over aroun' Dewey, Oklahoma, Bartlesville
and Caney, Kansas. He was a horseman and trained each one of us boys in
the way of carin' fer good horse flesh." The slipping into the easy
Elizabethian English was common with Joe as much as his nickname by the
children as to Grandsir. The oldest granddaughter knew his story was so as
she could easily see the Jones men set the fine horses. They seemed to be
born to it and it was as easy to them as taking a drink of water,
completely a part of their character. She herself had the same experience
as she was introduced to the sport. The reins in her hands had been
treated with a soft caress without anyone telling her of the necessity or
reason for it. Her trainer was impressed with a questioning look on his
face since he knew she had never been on a horse before and was but a
Joe went on with his story, "It waar hot, and the grass wuz as daid
and dry as paper. Thare wuz ever kind of runner thar at the line. Some of
'em waar as green as a gourd. They didn't know a thang about horse flesh
or anah thang else. When we waited fer the gun shot to set the race some
of the gents lost it with that there horse they stradled.
When we tore out away from the line my hoss was honey under me flowin' out
from the riff raff like none of 'em had ever seed. Aw she was a steady
lady, proper and prim with an air about her like everthang fine."
"Thet little red headed gal, she set her own steed with a strength
thet I couldn't believe fer one so tiny. She would flash me a grin as if
to say, "yew ain't got nothin' any better than what I'm a ridin'."
Joe remembered the event as it had been yesterday instead of close to some
hundred years before.
"Yep, I staked a claim thar out of Marshall, Oklahoma, right in
thar whar the 4-D forked. It was a fine claim, rich land, and water fer
the stock. I threw my coat over a rock and set another rock over it so it
wouldn't blow away and went back to register. When I came back thar had
been a purie far (prairie fire) to burn through and hit had burned my coat
plumb up. I kicked the rock off an thar was just a piece of my coat left
thar on the rock."
"Thet sweet little red headed gal, her horse died that night and she
died the next day. It waar too hard a run fer both of 'em, but she left
her folks, her dad and mother set with land."
Joe's granddaughter was too young to understand the full implications and
the importance of the old gentleman relating the story. She could only see
her Grandsir, dressed in his suit, watch and chain, young and handsome
setting on his beautiful horse riding side by side with a pretty red