Chapter 2 - Yes, Mom, I do Remember

Depression Refugees: Okies R US

Tar-Paper Shacks...
Tar-Paper Shacks...
Showing My "Old Age..." I worked here Earning $100/ week 60 hours per week in High School...1962-63. Side of the grocery Store...
Showing My "Old Age..." I worked here Earning $100/ week 60 hours per week in High School...1962-63. Side of the grocery Store...

Chapter 2

We Did Not Know We Were Poor...

I don't remember celebrating any holidays or birthdays. I didn't know my correct birthday until I was in the eighth grade. I ask Mom and she told me she didn't know to go ask Aunt Jane because she knew everyone’s birthday. So I have made it a point to keep records of my children and my grandchildren. I am now trying to find more about my ancestors.

My Grandfather and Grandmother Gladwell came from Germany to Chicago Illinois and from there to Missouri and homesteaded land. My mother Gladys Gladwell Rucks Yocom was born there May 11, 1897. My Grandfather Gladwell went to visit Germany when she was very young and while there a war broke out in Germany and he wasn't allowed to return. Mom had one brother, Uncle (Berdie) Bernard or Bertrand I'm not sure which was his name.

Grandmother Ida Buckhouse Gladwell eventually married a man named Lawrence Reese or (Reece).They had three girls Julie, Cassoli and Cathola. They called one of the twins Buck. I went to see her in Weber Falls, Oklahoma in May of 1991.

Mr. Reese was so mean and cruel to my mother and molested her. She soon ran away from home when she was about sixteen and went to live with Jesse and Nannie Campbell. Mr. Reese came after mom. Jesse Campbell told him if he came one-step closer he would shoot him. Mom stayed with them until she married my father, Homer Simeon Rucks in 1918 or 1919.

My Grandfather and Grandmother Rucks was Prussian (Germany, Austria Belgium, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary). Grandfather Rucks had a medal: Order of The Red Eagle, from Prussia Company B 49th infantry.

My father was born in 1889 in Alabama and then they came to Arkansas. My Grandfather Rucks farmed in the Mulberry, Arkansas area and also raised his own meat. I remember the Smoke House he had with all the meat hanging and curing. I still don't understand what kept it from spoiling.

I think the Campbell’s, Rucks, Meadors, Mullins, Molders and Whitlocks must have made the community around Mulberry.

The Campbells told Mom that Homer Rucks was a good man and that it would be good for her to marry him and she took them at their word . I guess they stayed together for about twenty-five years. He was about ten years older than Mom. They were complete opposites. Mom was ambitious and wanted things and my dad moved slow and was really laid back , like the country gentleman you hear about. Mom was the head of the house and shouldered most of the responsibility. She was the oldest child in her family and my dad was the youngest and hadn't had the responsibility that mom had. Mom had helped raise her brother and half-sisters and then had taken care of the youngest Campbell children and worked in the fields.

My dad was just not a match for her because he was the youngest of ten children and they had all taken care of him. So as they say, this match was not made in heaven. You can never really show love or affection when you don't know what it is. Sex seemed to be only a duty to perform for the women or an instrument to use to benefit or obtain something from one or the other. Mom tried to find real love and affection all her life and never really found it. She seemed to look for it in all the wrong places-most of the time.

When we lived in Pope (Mulberry), Arkansas, we would go to church in a wagon. I always thought it was really exiting. Mom would play the guitar and sing and Schuler Meadors would play the guitar and run up and down the sawdust isles. They used to call these the Arbor Revivals because they would, build these Arbors and then spread sawdust on the dirt to keep the dirt and dust from flying around so bad when people would shout and holler amen, praise the Lord and hallelujahs all over the place and roll in the sawdust and run around all over the place.

This may have been where the word "Holly Roller" came from. People would come from everywhere for miles around. They all seemed to lay all their troubles and worries aside. I guess it could be compared to how people react when their team wins the World Series. My father had a beautiful voice. He sang songs by reading the shaped notes and could sing either bass or tenor. He led and directed the choir at a church national convention when he was in his late seventies. My father’s brothers and sisters all had musical talent.

A big decision had been made, we are heading for Oklahoma, it must be around 1934. My Dad sells all the crops and our cow and I don't know what else and goes to town and comes back with a Model 'A' Ford. He takes the lid off the rumble seat to make more room. They get gunny sacks to put the pots and pans in and tie them on the bumper and I guess if we were lucky we had a change of clothes that Mom packed somewhere. They put Ed, Esther, me and the prized 'Feather Mattress' in the rumble seat. Pop, mom, Evalee, and the twins were in the front and off we went. It started raining so Pop had Ed set on the fender with a lantern when it got dark so he could see. It took us all day and most of the night to get to Aunt Carries in Wainwright Oklahoma. If my memory serves me right it was gravel road all the way. I remember doing everything we could to keep the feather mattress dry and thinking, "it must have taken a zillion chicken feathers to make it so valuable (I'm associating it with the two or three baby chicks I stepped on and how much trouble I got into).

Somehow we make it to Wainwright and Aunt Carrie and Uncle Willy have found us a house rent free. I don't remember how that worked unless we were supposed to sharecrop. I remember thinking, now we will have enough to eat. Food was always on our minds. If we had an abundance of food, we were rich. We never thought about houses, cars, or land. If we had a place to sleep and food in our stomachs, we were happy. I guess at that time of my life the old saying, ignorance is bliss, was true.

Esther got a job chopping cotton and bought a banjo, she must have been about twelve or thirteen. I thought she made heavenly music. Ed was knocking down pecans and got enough together to buy a car, but he had to get some tires for it. He was about fourteen or fifteen. Esther would sometimes walk seven to Boyton, Oklahoma to our Uncle Berdies house to stay there and pick or chop cotton. I don't know how far Ed had to go to work. My Dad would also have to walk seven or eight miles to work for the W.P.A.

Sometimes we didn't have any food at all. Esther went to school three days without food and fainted in school. She said at that time we had two feather beds and a change of clothes and a few pots and pans. I remember having cornbread and wild turnip greens and watery gravy.

I remember living in this two room house with a shed built on the back (the shed was almost ready to collapse) that we rented from a Mr. Angel about three miles from Wainwright. He used to come down and visit us and bring fruit. It was the first fruit I remember tasting. I must have been about six years old. We had this well with a pump and a long skinny stove pipe looking thing for a bucket. I am thinking, this is great, it is much better than the old well we had in Arkansas, but soon changed my mind. It has to be primed continually and froze up in the winter. I tell my Mom, "I don't see why they don't have a little thing you can just turn and get water." Not ever dreaming that people really did have such a contraption.

Evalee got real sick while we lived there and one of the neighbors came and took her to live with them until she got better. She had rickets and pellagra. They said it was because she was almost starving. I had boils all the time and still bear the scars. I think the family was named Stone and had a daughter named Jewell. Mr. Stone came over in a real shiny black Model 'A' and brought us an all-day sucker. I promptly climbed on top of his car and started to work on my sucker and was soon disappointed. I guess I climbed on top of his car to have a place of quiet and privacy to enjoy this wonder of wonders.

In the wintertime Mom put the kitchen table over the top of the old potbellied stove that burns coal and puts me and the twins on top of the table to bathe us and keep us warm. Wonders of wonders she didn't burn the place down. Many times she would put us to bed and wash our clothes and dry them and put them back on us. She always wanted us to have clean clothes, especially underwear. I remember it snowing once in Wainwright, and Ed was the only one that could get through this big mud puddle that was at the bottom of the hill that you had to go over to go to Wainwright. We thought it was quite an accomplishment.

Wainwright was the most desolate place I ever remember living. We must have been in the middle of the dust bowl. The wind and dust blew constantly everywhere; there was nothing left but bare ground. People must have dry farmed because there was nothing left of what they planted. I'm surprised we didn't have more sickness in the family.

I started school in Wainwright, Oklahoma and passed from first to second grade in one year, I give Ed a lot of credit for that, he taught me spelling and arithmetic before I started to school. He taught me how spell superintendent (he would never have guessed he would be the youngest superintendent working for Atlantic Oil company in California!) before I started school and I would spell it to anyone who would listen. After I started school, I never had any more boils. The government had started a lunch program at school and I would really stuff myself with whatever they served. It never entered my mind to say, “I don't like this or-that.” I tasted my first celery and carrots in a stew they served and thought it was the best stuff I had ever had.

Ed had been working very hard. He had gotten the car and finally gotten enough money to get some tires. He gave Pop the money to go get some tires and instead of getting the tires, Pop paid off the grocery bill. Ed had been trying so hard to get us a car to go to California and was really disappointed. He and Pop had an argument and Ed decided to hitch hike to California. Mom packed him a small bucket with food (she had put in some Whipperwill patties). I envied him; I thought whipperwill paties were the best thing in the world. Ed must have been about fifteen years old.

The next time we hear from Ed, he is in Weedpatch California, has a job at Di Georgio farms, had rented us a cabin made of box car lumber and put dishes, stove and bedsteads. Well here we go again, looking, as always for a better way of life.

A relative of ours comes back to Oklahoma in an old panel truck to take us to California. I suppose Ed has paid him something. Water bags are tied on the radiator, the running boards are filled with gas cans, oil cans and water and whatever we can poke here and there-and of course the famous feather beds. Sonny Boy is petrified, at three years old he doesn't remember being in a car. He screams, kicks, yells and grabs hold of everything around.. Mom is trying to think of something to distract him and decides to give him his first haircut. This stirs his curiosity, so off comes his beautiful blonde curls, Sister Girl calmly gets in the car and is ready to go. Sonny Boy sees Sister Girl get in so he thinks, well this must be all right and gets in also.

Here goes the Rucks family again, headed for the land of plenty, where money grows on trees and the sun is always shining. We had an axel to break while going thru the Globe Mountains in Arizona. We camp beside the road for a week. I don't remember what we ate or how we got it, all I remember if bologna, it was the first time I remember tasting it. I thought bologna and crackers was a real treat. We are still carrying this famous feather mattress around with us. It is a real survivor. It has survived the trip in the rain from Arkansas to Oklahoma so I guess Mom will have it to sleep on when we get to Weedpatch, California. We arrive in Weedpatch in April 1936.

We have found a haven in this area of Weedpatch, Lamont and Arvin. It seems like all of our friends and relatives have arrived here before us. There are people here from Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and New Mexico.

We move into the cabin Ed has rented for us. There are about twenty or thirty more cabins and tents. I found and outside community water hydrant that had a handle that you could just turn and get water. I was so excited, I started running as fast as I could to tell my mother and fell flat on my face skinning my nose, knees and elbows, which didn't seem to dampen my spirit much. I was thinking, no more pumps to prime or frozen wells and I guess Esther was glad she didn't have to go to the creek to wash (there were no creeks, only canals). There were community bathhouses I think I must have been the cleanest kid around.

Our friends Jess and Nannie Campbell owned Weedpatch and their oldest child, Bud owned a little grocery store and a gas station that had two gasoline pumps. It was called the 'Jot-em-down Store; we would get groceries and gas and Bud would just 'jot it down', and we would pay later. It was the first grocery store I remember being in and to top it off, it is where Ed bought me my first ice -cream cone.

I was feeling real good about things. We had food in the house and in our stomachs. Ice cream was a nickel, a loaf of bread was ten cents a loaf, and gas was fourteen and sixteen cents a gallon.

I had started to school in April when we arrived in Weedpatch and had skipped from the second to the third grade. The third grade was the most difficult grade for me because I only spent about six weeks in it until school was out in June and they passed me on to the fourth grade for the following school year. Melba Campbell had been held back in the fourth grade (she just couldn't seem to learn her times tables). This put us in the same grade on thru grammar and high school. She was always my childhood buddy.

Di Georgio Farms was a savior to many of the dust bowl people. These were the times of the movie, "The Grapes of Wrath. The DiGiorgio Fruit Corporation was the largest of it's kind in the world. In 1937, his acreage was 40,000 acres.

It was a fitting title. People were fighting for jobs in the grape fields of Di Georgio and were being run off their campsites by farmers. There were people camping along canal banks, under bridges and trees along the hi-way. Our family seems to be working with no problem. Ed, Esther and my dad worked there. Ed wanted to do something with his life so he and our cousin Willie Frank Jeffers decided to join the army.

Chapter 3: http://hubpages.com/hub/Chapter-3-Yes-Mom-I-do-Remember

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Comments 26 comments

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS

Quite an odyssey!! I'm just blown away!! I felt like I traveled every mile with them!


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA Author

Nellieanna, Thanks! It takes a "stiff wind" to blow you away! You are well grounded with deep "roots." I appreciate your comments.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS

Ah - these reminders of the overall situation during the "Great Depression" (and I was a 'depression baby', among other things!) bring one to consider how today's generations will weather such a storm of deprivation as could occur, given the uneasiness of the economy and the throngs of needing folks world-wide already.

At this moment - to be "deprived" means to lose one's cell-phone connection or be unable to afford the latest fad! whew.

People have almost NO idea of the reality of actual loss of the basic human needs of food, water & shelter which actually do go hand-in-hand with loss of opportunity to work & earn a "living" or to afford a house - especially when or if the government runs out of dole-outs.

All the many many extras now taken for granted are beyond their comprehension as possible "loseables", I perceive.

I've enjoyed pretty much plenty - certainly adequacy - all my life but I know how to cut back, sacrifice a bit & trim corners & costs, which I'm presently doing, quite honestly, though obviously not at the expense of being online and enjoying many luxuries. Still, I find I must trim to stay solvent. I could & would do more as need demanded, & I'd know how to, from seeing my parents' frugality & by prioritizing for the best results in health, enrichment of only the more "important" areas - such as health & mental stimulation, in preference to more frivolous ones; - but there may come a time when more is demanded, such as giving up most all, if required.

I have trouble fathoming the average new-age person having the slightest idea HOW to do so, much less the willingness TO do so or even any concept that it might ever be required of them!


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA Author

Nellieanna, Our success sometimes is the seeds of of our children's failures. (future generations) I think life is cyclical. One generation hits the jackpot... next generations live off the spoils. Soon, somebody starts to "suffer." Time gets "bad." World rescissions, wars and etc.

What I have inherited and what you have is resilience. You cannot "buy" resiliency... Sometimes what we must experience to develop resilience is very difficult. I can write a number of books about my lifestyle. I have made millions, lost millions, gave everything away twice... I am a "hard-head." I had to learn the hard way... I think I have learned what I needed to know -- so far! Thanks again for your helpful comments!


saddlerider1 profile image

saddlerider1 6 years ago

I feel like I'm traveling every mile with your family. Going through all the hard times and good. Seems like more hard though than good. To think how today's generation could live that life. It's incredible the hardship and how the simplest things in life were so welcomed.

Like an all day sucker, the sacred feathered pillow, not eating for 3 days, food scarcities. It blows me away. Survival was the order of the day, just getting by with some food in ones stomach and a roof over their head was divine.

The fortitude and tenacity that these people had was truly amazing. How many of them died due to poor living conditions, I bet it was a high figure. This account by your mother is outstanding and your penning of it has captured my interest. I feel like I'm sitting in a movie theater watching this all in black and white. Can't wait to continue the adventure.


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA Author

saddlerider1, You brought a smile to my face. There are many reasons I have chosen to share my mother's reflections. The first time I read them about 10 years ago, I did not enjoy them. Her struggles made me uncomfortable. She is now a millionaire and money is NOT a concern. She does not have to work. She has good investments. My mother instilled a steel rod in by backbone. I now understand and accept her hardships. I better understand my own self-imposed hardships. I have lived on a single bag of popcorn a day... Left home when I was 17.. I was a Preacher's Kid, (PK) I hated being watched 24/7 by the community. I had to learn responsibility to myself and others.


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago

This is great........... what a great family tribute. Interesting is is, and most definitely well written! Love it! Kaie


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA Author

Kaie Arwen, Thanks! These are my mother's words...


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 6 years ago from South Africa

Dallas, this reminds me so much of my own grandmother’s and mother’s lives on farms here in SA. Thank you for sharing this. It widens my perception of life in your country – the same circumstances; same kind of ‘salt-of-the-earth’ people as here. (My ancestors were also from Germany and the Netherlands – immigrated to SA in the late 1700.) Great hub. Voted UP!


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA Author

MartieCoetser, Perhaps to understand others, we first must understand who we are. Our differences create synergy. The will to lean forward against all odds and to be resilient is a valuable trait I have inherited! Thanks for sharing.


SilverGenes 6 years ago

The community water hydrant would have been pure luxury and I can only imagine the excitement of such a find! I'm loving every word of this story and am understanding my grandmother better. She sewed the holes or rips in screens all her life.

Things like ice cream would be a real treat! I feel so privileged to be reading this :)


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA Author

SilverGenes,Our "roots" define who we are... I recall making "home made ice creme. It was a real treat. Thanks for sharing.


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA

Your family history is so interesting. I'm impressed by the way you narrate this story in your mother's 'voice.' I don't know how you're doing that so well but keep it up.


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA Author

kaltopsyd, Most families have interesting stories. My mother's story is one of achievement, learning to be resilient, and developing a positive attitude - no matter what is happening, or will happen... From my mother I have learned to accept starting from "scratch" making millions, losing millions and etc... I have learned an important lesson: "Things I own, or do not own, do not define me..." Some will look at you differently, or treat you differently when you are perceived to be "rich." The key, from my perspective is to be yourself - no more, no less... To be authentic.


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA

That's a great lesson!!!


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA Author

kaltopsyd, Thanks! I am a "Hard-head!" If it was an "easy" lesson to learn, I would make it difficult. I recall in second grade the class was assigned to add three rows of four numbers. I quickly added them up. As I heard the rest of the class (I was the youngest) say how hard it was, I struggled to add diagonally, horizontally, trying to discover the "hard" part in adding the numbers as instructed. Life is like that!


katiem2 profile image

katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

This is thrilling! So glad you didn't know you were poor (Mom). I'm amazed that you can tell this is such vivid detail. I felt as if I was a cast of the movie and experiencing everything, goose bumps. I gotta say you made weed patch sound so real in the here and now! Holly rollers, saw some once in Alabma and they scared me to death, they still exist. Your a fantastic story teller!


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA Author

katiem2, "Holy rollers..." I smile. I must be careful, the "Holy Rollers are alive and well, those who ascribe to and practice this religion." They are known as "Pentecost." My relatives started the present "Pentecostal movement" in the early 1900's in the Los Angeles area. They were preachers and the "movers and shakers" of the fundamental religion. The United Pentecostal Church Organization (UPC) has millions of followers and now are "world-wide."

I have many relatives who wear their denim long skirts with hair piled high upon their heads... They are good people, but I understand being scared. Can you believe I got whipped because I fell asleep in church while they were yelling, singing, "shouting" up and down the aisle. The term "Holy Roller" comes from their practice of literally rolling on the floor praying... My dad, before he got converted to this religion (converts are always the most fervent) would go to the Weedpatch church and cause mischief. (Lots of people would watch from outside the church to be entertained!) Once when a small boy came out of church to use the outhouse, my father took all of the little boy's clothes off. (Can you imagine the disturbance caused when the little boy enters church crying with no clothes on?). Someone had called the police (everybody knew the local sheriff) and chased my father through backyards. My father did not see a clothes line... Yep, his neck caught the wire and flipped him completely backwards... around back to landing on his knees. He was through running.. In those days, the police talked to you... and that was it.


Paula Jackson 6 years ago

I grew up in Weedpatch We lived in the sunset camp when we first came to weedPatch in 1948 so I did not go thru the hard times that you did as I was born in 1938. Went to sunset school and Arvin high. Married a Boy from Bakersfield, Who I think is a relative of yours he is kin to the Rucks not sure just how his Dad was Loe Jackson and his mother Was Pearl Hall Jackson. My husband was born in Bidville Ark.

I knew all the Campbells And Bro and Sis Birdie Gladwell. My husband and I were married in the Weedpatch Church in 1956. We lived in Bakersfield for 7 years then moved to Santa Maria lived there and Raised 2 children our son still lives in Nipomo.


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA Author

Paula Jackson,

I have consulted with my mother. She does not remember you. You facts are correct,. however... I knew "Uncle Birdie." Perhaps you can email me? Top right is a place where you can "contact dallas93444" Please contact me and well will perhaps provide a "reunion..." I too attended Sunset School and Arvin High School....


ralwus 6 years ago

I have forgotten about your family odyssey. Forgive please as I have neglected it. I shall try to catch up now. My brother Jesse Campbell lived in Bakersfield for a number of years, retired now in Carlsbad, I also had an Aunt Nannie Campbell. My family never had to go through that in KY and bootlegging got them through unscathed pretty much. I sure am glad your telling these wonderful hard-time stories. Bless you, Charlie


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA Author

ralwus, I recognize these people! My mother knows them... I dated May Vern for Senior Prom..!


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town

........still with you......


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA Author

onegoodwoman, Lets dance!


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town

the music would wake my hubby :), but thanks for the invite!


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA Author

onegoodwoman, Good, then we all dance!

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