So began a whole year with
Zona struggling alone on their claim while, she tried to hold it down for
the five years required. They couldnt legally sell it until after five
years, anyway. She felt a little like John had died along with all his
family. The drinking, dissatisfaction with farming and growing crops, even
his horses he was replacing with the idea of having people use bicycles
for transportation, these were the things to take him away from home.
The fight she had with her
asthma kept her aware of her weakness. She knew, deep in her heart, this
hanging on was impossible. Not only her own infirmity but now the asthma
on her young son made an even greater trial for her. John stayed in town.
He didnt come home and true to his inherited stubbornness, he kept to
what he had set out to do, regardless of the trials with her malady.
For Johns part there
wasnt a whole lot of money to be made with bicycles. The saloon might
have been a money maker but the easy availability of the alcohol had
become a weakness and kept him at a disadvantage. There was no doubt about
it. He missed Zona. Even though the all fired Bible reading got on his
nerves, he did have to admit somehow her principles seemed to steady him
in one way or another and he felt a need to be with her. She had a way of
commanding respect from the community. He supposed it was because she was
a gracious, generous person and made it a rule not to get involved with
peoples personalities and didnt seem to need the warmth of friends
coming and going as he did, but she was always ready to help with a
sickness or when a family needed food or clothing. This kind of attitude
was essential in days of root-hog, or die living, as the expression
went. He wanted cash in his hand and the bicycles and saloon seemed the
way to provide.
The fine southern blood
that was only a generation behind him with his father and mother gave John
a distaste for the kind of miserable existence, he felt, was forced on the
people at this time.
Farming wasnt a part of
his ranchers background. The vision he had for living would not be known
to Oklahoma until his old age but somehow he could see a finer, gentler
lifestyle. That place off the 4-D Creek on Otter branch just wasnt it,
for him, no matter how much corn, pumpkins, and green beans it produced.