The grueling hard work
followed through generations of handed down skills for the ranching family
of the Joneses Out of the Southern states before the Civil War through
Arkansas and then into Oklahoma the Jones's held their course. William
Stephens Jones at Bartlesville, Oklahoma came into the state as an Indian
agent before statehood and he ranched the verdant Caney Valley. The skills
he passed down to his son Joseph Hubbard Jones. When it came to cattle and
horse flesh they knew their business.
Joseph ran the strip and
staked his claim for grassland around Guthrie and the 4-D fork. He sold
out there, went to the Panhandle and during the drought came back to the
Osage around Ralston, Oklahoma. His sons, Dennis and Lee settled between
Foraker and Grainola, Oklahoma, where they were raising their families.
Lee knew how to survive with cattle and a ranching community.
All at once there was a break
between the two brothers who knows over what. Probably all the
circumstances around the young people being educated to some other far
away goal so foreign to the reality of their lifestyle there could be no
unity and agreement between family members.
This is where Lee was now. He
moved his family into the little oil town of Ponca City and they were all
in a totally different setting. They had never known poverty. The range
always provided in one way or another. There was wild game, fish in the
streams, beef, mutton stored in the cold lockers. Fowl was plentiful in
the way of stock and Quail, Pigeons, Wild Geese, and even Turtle Dove. A
productive garden and orchards along with wild gathered berries were home
preserved and stored on shelves.
Lee junior was remorseful as
only a boy can be when he has to go into a relatively new surrounding with
less than he needs to be on the ever important scale governing whether a
child was of worth as to his material possessions and/or those or lack of
these by his family. This boy was very intelligent and quick to pick up on
what was needed to succeed. This knowledge was behind his request as he
stood before his mother there in the kitchen while she was readying the
children for school.
"Mother, my shoe strings are
broken and I can't tie my shoes."
His mother was ever the
servant of dealing with need when it came to her children.
Quickly she took his shoes and
was working to tie knots in the shoe strings working at pulling the laces
through so as to try to hide the tied places. When she had them so they
could be worn she set them down and had her son slip back into his shoes.
If this had of been in the
ranching community in those days Lee, the father, probably would have
simply cut strips from leather and the boy would have worn those with no
comment or notice from anyone. This was another world though. Things in
this little town were different. It was largely operated by a different
city like atmosphere maybe coming from as far away as the Marts of Dallas.
As children are immediately aware of the nuances and credos of those
around them so too was Lee Junior conscious of his, no doubt, being held
up to ridicule for his knotted up shoe strings.
Years later as Lee was trying
to explain the reason for his deep despair and depression, he blamed his
mental blackness on this one incident.
"When Lee Junior left the
kitchen and was going out the door with his books in his hand I was
watching him." "I watched him from the windows as he walked by the house."
"The tears in the boys eyes running down his face was more than I could
accept." "That my son should be held up to this sort of trauma and heart
ache over a pair of shoe strings was just the last straw on the camels
back." "All the family quarreling, the dissension stopping all progress on
the ranch, the suicide, and our struggling to get past that with those
children grieving for their mother, it all just lumped up together like
those knots in the worn out shoe strings my son was having to wear to
school." "You know, I went a little mad." "It wasn't the shoe strings
alone that did it." "I know there was no excuse for the things I did." Lee
explained to his two daughters many years later. "I just wanted you girls
to think with forgiveness for your father's rage."
There was no need for the
admission. For as young as the girls were no one had to explain about the
sorrow of the family's trials. However, they, unlike the adults, and the
sons were more the opportunists. There was no loss on their part as to
treasured ranching skills gone forever. Horseflesh and strains of cattle
bred first in England and then to Osage County in Oklahoma meant nothing
to them. How could they know that shoestrings had such a great impact on
their economic condition?
Still in the mind and heart of
the young man, Lee, there was that knowledge and from where did it come?
Could it possibly be something in his genes of his being or of that from
ancestors of old? Or maybe this is the differences between male and
female. Did their father, for once, make a mistake for and to whom he