I have lots of fond memories of my grandparents on my mom’s side of the family. I remember spending many weekends in the 1960s with family at their home on North Woodrow in Tulsa. My aunts and uncles often gathered there to play a friendly game of Rook, eat a big meal, visit or play a game a pool in the garage behind the house.
My grandparents, B.D. Horton and Cloa Mae Jackson, grew up a few miles apart in Winston County, Alabama, in the northwest part of the state.
The Horton family moved to New Madrid, in the Bootheel of southeast Missouri, in 1924 after my great grandfather Horton got caught making moonshine. The law gave him two options – jail or move his family to another state. He took the latter.
The Jackson family came to New Madrid in 1932 and my grandparents were married on Oct. 29, 1932 in the New Madrid County Courthouse.
My mom, the third of seven children, was born in New Madrid in 1936. After my mom came to Tulsa in 1955 following high school graduation, my grandparents followed suit a few years later as did most of the rest of the Horton clan.
My grandparents bought the three bedroom, one bath house on North Woodrow in 1962. In the late 60s, my grandparents went to work on the riverboats that pushed goods along the Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee rivers. My grandmother cooked for the crew and my grandpa helped in the kitchen and cleaned. They’d be on the river for one month, then home for a month.
They later lived with Aunt Alice, my mom’s younger sister, and Uncle Ronnie in southeast Tulsa before buying a house on a five-acre spread in the county near Coweta, Okla., in the early 1970s.
I enjoyed many Thanksgiving and Christmas family gatherings in that house. One particular memorable event took place in the mid-70s.
My mom loved to can and she and my dad grew big gardens every summer. I remember spending many summer days, or at least a few days that seemed like the whole summer, snapping green beans or helping press tomatoes. I can still see the pressure canner stewing away on the stove back burner.
Anyway, my mom loved peaches and would often travel the 40 miles to Porter, Okla., known back in the day as the “Peach Capital of the World,” to pick a few bushels.
It must have been 1976. I hadn’t been driving too long. Mom and I took my dad’s 1967 C10 pickup to Coweta. I stayed with my grandpa while my mom and my grandmother took my grandparents’ Impala to Porter.
My grandparents lived on a gravel road a few houses from where my Uncle J.W., my mom’s younger brother, and my Aunt Lynette and their two children lived. The mailboxes for that stretch of county road were located at the “T” intersection, about one quarter of a mile from my grandparents’ house.
I saw the mailman stop and deliver the mail that day and I was itching to get behind the wheel. I hollered at my grandpa and told him that I was going to get the mail.
I eased my dad’s truck alongside the cluster of mailboxes, but needed to readjust to get close enough to get the mail.
Pulling forward, I backed up at an angle and soon felt a “clank.” Unable to go anywhere, I got out and discovered there was a small culvert. I had just dropped the passenger side rear wheel into the ditch. The truck was resting on the axle housing.
I knew I was in trouble!
I walked back and told my grandpa and he got the wheelbarrow and we loaded some lumber, concrete blocks and off we headed down the road.
Using a long four-by-four and some concrete blocks, my grandpa built a makeshift lift, while I built a stack of blocks under the rear wheel in the ditch. He lifted the truck and I slide a board under the tire, giving me enough room to clear the axle housing. During the first try, I hit the gas and the tire spun, causing one of the boards to go flying and the truck to land on the axle again. I can still see my grandpa laughing as we worked together to solve this issue. The second go round produced better results and we got the truck out of the ditch.
It wasn’t long when my mom and grandmother returned from Porter and we loaded the peaches in the truck and headed to Tulsa. I was fearing the worse when I arrived home and told my dad what happened. He was on his knees looking the truck over and I don’t recall getting in trouble for it.
That wasn’t the case a year earlier when I was leaning to drive and let out the clutch without enough gas. That caused the truck to jerk and I ended up backing it into a light pole and bending the metal bumper and damaging the right rear quarter panel of the truck bed. I smashed it real good. My dad was quite upset with me and I had to wait a whole month after my 16th birthday to get my driver’s license.
Wonderful memories of a wonderful childhood and life!
Have a great week and take care of yourself, my friends. And always remember that “Good Things are Happening,” every day and always.