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Donna Flood
The Valley


There was a distinct reminder of winter's approach as September came to the ranch home of the Joneses. That suggestion was felt in the early morning most of all. The round wooden oak table was on one corner of the back porch. It was where the family had their meals in the summer. The long table setting across the length of the room was there for the hay crews and other times when more space was needed for crowds. Already cool mornings were reminding the family the cold blasting winds of winter were inevitable. They would soon be moving to the interior of the house for their meals where an over sized mahogany table of French provincial would serve them.

For Grandma, Grandpa, Brothers, wives and children this was an exciting time rather than when they might otherwise be dreading the sharp angry cutting winds of the prairie planes. This was in the early years of the twentieth century. The new cars they drove were the black Fords. A running board or a step was built along the front and back door. The cars were open and did have primitive heaters. However, if they wanted to travel in comfort as to keeping warm they would soon be making plans to make their yearly trek to "The Valley," Brownsville, Texas, where their winter home was located.

Having lost their first child because they did not know American Indians were allergic to milk had given them a new understanding as to what they had to do to allow the children to survive. "Modern" times had taken the babies off the mother's milk and this gave the child no natural immunities. As in the case of the Native people who were unable to digest cows' milk, this too proved fatal for their child. Through hard experience they learned goat milk was the answer. If they were a site to behold while they carried Nanny on the running board all the way to Brownsville no one of the family cared. They were on their way to a kinder, warmer climate for the children and that was the single goal.

Opening up their vacation home was just a matter of cleaning, rehiring the people they had before, and really settling into this totally different lifestyle. Grampa was an avid fisherman and was in love with the ocean. Gramma enjoyed the Mexican woman they hired who helped with the house.

The younger brother had an interest in the culture and customs of the Mexican people. The older brother and his wife were into the social life of the then small town. They enjoyed too, the trips to Mexico. The experiences there were so varied and different it was like a totally new world for them.

"Rosa!" Gramma enjoyed the little Mexican woman. "Rosa!" "Come help me unload these jars I brought from the ranch!"

The trailer they pulled she had loaded with the fruit jars they emptied and used from last year's trip there. "We need to get these jars up and when you go to the store, you will need to pick up lids."

Gramma was never happier than when she had a worthwhile project on going. Certainly the putting up of plentiful food there in the Valley was the greatest of worthwhile activities. Of all the things of necessity around the ranching community fresh vegetables were of the premium. Everything one could imagine in the way of fruits and vegetables was grown there in the rich grounds close to the ocean. The high level of iodine in the food was essential for the family since the inland area around their ranch home was most devoid of this element. Goiter was common with these people at a time when great trucking movement of produce was not available. The addition of fish and seafood was also good for their health.

The friendships they made there would touch into the lives of their children's children almost a hundred years forward. The introduction of the rich Spanish culture certainly was a gift to these people who had never been exposed to something as different and many faceted. The Joneses always talked about traveling being the best education and in this instance it was so.


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