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Donna Flood
We Were So Poor That!

Texans are hard working, fun loving people who have a distinct culture all their own. On their moments when they are enjoying social gatherings there is a thing they do that is so much fun.

Their story telling will start with one after another account as to how poor they were. Sometimes, the tales can go from the sublime to the ridiculous. "We were so poor, we thought when they said round steak, they meant bologna!" The laughter then would rock the room. As soon as it died down, another story would be forthcoming. There was a fine line in divulging just enough information so as not to make the history to sound too unbearable.

For instance, it was all right to say the family had bologna to eat, but it would not be good to tell they had nothing to eat. This was the fine line. Whether it is a way to apologize for their tremendously successful lifestyle, which was one of opulent living, or whether it was an escape valve for the drive where they were pushing themselves, one could not know.

One story told was great, we thought. It was one a man told of when he decided to go into business for himself. He said, "I worked for a company and I had to drive from Rockwall to downtown Dallas every morning. This meant I had to be out of the house at least by five thirty in the morning, heat, rain, sleet or snow." "One morning I was in the middle of a line of traffic, so long I could not even see the end of it." "I sat there looking at that long row of red tail lights." "We would move a few feet, stop, wait, and move on a few more feet." "Of all those people there must be a service they need." He thought to himself. Making that decision, he got out of his car and yelled at the top of his voice, "I'm going to do it." Probably, someone would have held their hand up in an encouraging wave, saying, "Go for it." With those thoughts in mind he went into a business for himself and, as a result did become very successful, in fact to the status of becoming a millionaire.

In this spirit of things the following story is told.

The children played through the days, eternally. There was never a stop in their play time. They climbed trees, barns, swung on home made swings, made up games of their own, and generally were left to their own pleasures. Their number along with playmates in the area gave them a protection and freedom to go about their play with no adult restraint.

"Come on, let's climb this old shed and jump off," Jill called.

"I can get up there faster than you!"

"Oh no! You can't," Jill was the oldest and always wanted to be first at any of their games.

They spent time with that activity until they were bored with it.

Someone began to yell down the chimney built atop of a storm cellar. The echo of their voices resonated into the large empty underground cement building. They would take turns calling out names of their friends. They yelled, "Hello, who are you?" With this thought they could imagine there was actually someone in the cellar who was answering them. They became tired of this game after a while. If there was slowing down of an activity there always seemed to be someone who was pushing ahead to look for something new to do.

The small pieces of lime stone rock were like a piece of chalk. With the chalk someone would draw the rectangles necessary for "hop scotch game" This game would keep them entertained for a greater length of time. They threw the stone to one of the boxes as the moved up the ladder. It was a simple game. The older of the children were kind in that they would allow the younger children many infractions of the rules. A stepped on line, someone unbalanced and falling, or not being able to remember their place was often overlooked.

After they tired of this game, they had just about used up all their ideas to entertain themselves. The younger boy discovered he could stomp on an over ripe pear on the ground until it was crushed out of existence. Of course, the other children were mildly interested in the activity and they went about the ground where the pears had fallen. They were busy mashing and crushing the fruit. It was an interesting activity and they were too busy with the fun of it to notice any danger of any sort.

Wind was always moving and jerking at things about the place. It was a common thing to have boards jerked off the lighter built sheds. Sometimes, the nails would be still in the boards as they were thrown here and there about. The boards with nails poking up would melt and blend into the ground making themselves invisible. It was on one of these nails little Bob stepped. The nail went all the way through his shoe and was sticking up through the top part of the shoe. He was paralyzed with the thought that the nail had gone all the way through his foot and he stood screaming at the top of his lungs.

Jill stood starring at the nail and then she was alert. She ran to the house, "Mama, Mama, Bob has stepped on a nail." "It went all the way through his foot."

Their mother was as usual moving as fast as the children, and when she got to the screaming child her knees were weak with the thought that a nail had penetrated his foot. She reached down, lifting the boy's foot off the ground, and at the same time jerked the board and nail away from the screaming child's foot. Quickly, she was busy taking his shoe off to examine the injured foot.

"No blood," she noticed.

In his curiosity, Little Bob stopped crying to look down to his foot. "No blood?" He asked.

Their mother was jerking his sock off to look. She then picked up the boy's shoe. There was a hole in the sole right where the nail had gone through. The nail had simply slipped in between the boy's toes without penetrating his skin. She was so relieved the boy's shoes were worn and old and that the nail had gone through the hole and between his toes she couldn't be angry with his for crying so needlessly.

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