Interview with Barbara Lansingh – 25 March 1991
Kathy: The date is March the 25th, 1991; we’re in Keosauqua, Iowa, Van Buren County. And this is Barbara Lansingh and Ford Iman Gano.
Barbara: And Kathy Schoeni.
Kathy: Yes, I’m here too.
Ford: You mean that thing [the video camera] works automatically now?
K & B: Yes.
Kathy: And we have about 2 hours of battery power. Carol said if we needed any more, we’d be bored, not to mention that you would probably fall off your chair [laughs] in tiredness.
Ford: That is correct.
Barbara: Ok, have you got that going? [hand-held tape recorder].
Ford: It’s going, listening…
Barbara: Ok, good. So, you were born in Sacramento California, and don’t really remember whether it was at home or in the hospital, correct?
Ford: That is correct. I don’t know if my mother gave me birth, gave birth to me, in a hospital or at home, but it was in Sacramento California, on the 8th day of July, about, 1913.
Barbara: [Laughs] There was some confusion about that, wasn’t it the 7th for the longest time?
Ford: Yes, my birth certificate was born on the 7th, but traditionally, I was born on the 8th.
Barbara: Your mom celebrated it on the 8th.
Ford: Yes, we always celebrated my birthday on the 8th. But for some reason or another my birth certificate says the 7th, and I think it was because it was 10 minutes to 12 when I was born, and then the second conception of the difference in dates was that I had a cousin that was born on the 8th, and we celebrated our birthday at the same time.
Kathy: Made it easier? One cake, huh?
Barbara: Ok, can you tell us anything about your brothers and sisters? What kind of a family did you grow up in?
Ford: I had two older half-brothers who were not living with us, with my family at the time I was born. My brother, Lynn, was born I think about 18 months after I was, and named after the doctor that took care of them, named Fenner Lynn Gano. And then my half-brother Frank, who was living with his grandmother, came to live with us, so our folks consisted of my dad and my mother, and after Lynn was born, myself and Lynn. The only thing that I remember specifically about the time in San Francisco [sic] was things that my mother told me, and one of them was that I was such a good looking baby that she took me to a baby show, and I won 1st prize. Now, I assure you that was the only prize I ever won…
Barbara: For being best looking…
Ford: For being best looking, anything. But I do have that little silver mug that was given me on that occasion, with my name and birthday on it.
Barbara: Now, I remember that Darlene has a picture, a little bear, you know, a little bear rug with your little bottom sticking out of it. Did you also have one like that, Dad? Do I remember seeing one of you…
Ford: Yes, we had that picture for a long time, and I presume it’s still around here somewhere, in a collection of pictures. It wasn’t long after that picture was taken, in fact, while I was learning to walk, while I was still creeping, I had an accident in which I was blinded in my right eye. I was carrying a pencil, or some other sharp object, while creeping on the floor, and fell down, and that object, whether it was a pencil, I think it was a fingernail file, that punctured my pupil in my right eye, and I was taken to a doctor immediately. He said there wasn’t anything that could be done about it, which of course in that day and age, the medicinal facilities weren’t as good as we have now, so I’ve always been blind in my right eye, except for side vision in it.
Barbara: I remember you telling that story. Do I understand from somewhere recently that because of this accident your mother may have favored you a little bit?
Ford: I don’t remember whether it was so much my mother as it was my dad. My dad always favored me a little on account of it. I was the proverbial spoiled brat when I was a kid, as far as my older brothers and sisters [sic] were concerned, especially my half-brother, Frank. Now I never did become acquainted with my oldest half-brother, Lewis, because he was living with his grandmother. I never did even meet him until after I was grown, and had gone through school.
But Frank came with us, or Francis as he was called then, came with us on our trip to Arizona, and I have a very memorable story of his early childhood, which includes our life there in the Verde Valley after we arrived there and our trip home over from Sacramento on the narrow gauge railroad into the Clarkdale area, where we were met by horse and buggy, picked up and taken by relatives on our migration to Arizona when I was approximately 2 years old.
Barbara: Did your dad or mom ever tell you why you moved from Sacramento to Arizona?
Ford: Not really. I think it was for my dad’s health. He was of poor health, and I think that the doctor had recommended that he get into a drier climate, and so he came to Arizona for that particular reason from the East. Whether or not he met my mother before or after California, I am not aware of, but he was out there from the East, where he grew up there as a boy, because of a health condition, where the doctor had recommended that they come West.
Barbara: Do you remember what kind of health condition he had?
Ford: Yes, he had a lung problem, which was called consumption…
Barbara: Which is called TB now?
Ford: Which is called TB now, but it was consumption in those days, and my dad was in poor health because of that.
Kathy: I don’t think Barbara has heard the story about the Fig Newtons; I think you were coming up to that story when you said you made this migration when the relatives picked you up, Dad? Wasn’t there a Fig Newton story?
Ford: Oh, yes, that was the story that my brother Frank remembers: In the wagon that they brought to pick us up, and they picked up some of their supplies. Uncle Art, who had come to pick us up, had a week or so of groceries in the back of the wagon. And as we rode from Clarkdale down to Cottonwood, my brother Frank, as is normal for a young man, explored the groceries, and found therein a sack, or a half a keg, of Fig Newtons. Being a youngster of about 5 years old, maybe 6 I guess he was, he was four years older than I, and a lover of candy and sweets and things, he sampled the Fig Newtons. In fact he ate almost half of them before one of the grownups looked around and figured out what was going on. "Oh, those are not for human consumption. Those are Fig Newtons that are spoiled, and we’re taking them home to feed our hogs!" Frank, to this day he claims, has never had the taste for Fig Newtons, because they were infested for little worms.
Barbara: Oh dear!
Ford: And he had eaten half of them.
Barbara: It must have taken him a while to get over that.
Ford: It took him a long time to get any taste back, in fact he says he has never eaten Fig Newtons after that.
Barbara: Tell us about the kind of house you lived in, how many bedrooms?
Kathy: Did you have electricity?
Ford: We moved, when we came from California to Arizona, we first lived with my relatives there. We lived with Aunt Edna and Uncle Art…
Kathy: What was their last name, Dad?
Ford: and they were very much typical western people, Uncle Art’s brogue was very cowboyish, and though Aunt Edna was a teacher, had taken training for teaching – both she and my mother were trained to teach school, had gone to normal school for teaching, and both of them had taught prior to this occasion at this time; my Aunt Edna went ahead and taught for many, many years, in fact she was teaching when she died many years later.
Barbara: What was her last name, Dad?
Ford: Her last name at the time she died was Nichols, Aunt Edna Nichols.
Barbara: I remember them, I remember visiting her.
Ford: Yes, they had moved to Verde, over near Prescott, and we used to drive, when you were a youngster, with you and Joanne and Darlene, and I don’t know for sure or whether Kathy had too many trips up there or not.
Kathy: I do remember, she came up once to visit, actually, I think she was, after Elizabeth was born, and she sat and rocked Elizabeth on her knee, I think. Would Aunt Edna still have been alive, am I remembering the right person? She’s kind of wiry, and wore her hair in a bun?
Ford: I don’t think Aunt Edna ever came to visit…
Kathy: Maybe not, that’s who I thought that was.
Ford: I don’t remember. When was that, Kathy?
Kathy: At the farmhouse on highway 2, and I think it may have been after Mother, shortly after Mother had passed away.
Ford: No, Aunt Edna never came back to Iowa. It was some of Mother’s relatives, parents, that came to visit with us there at the farm, and that was Aunt Frieda and Aunt Bessie, but there was someone else that I vaguely remember, and I always thought it was Aunt Edna, but I certainly could have been mistaken. It’s been a lot of years.
Ford: I certainly don’t remember Aunt Edna coming back to Iowa. It’s possible she could have, but I don’t remember
Barbara: You lived with Aunt Edna and…
Ford: Uncle Art down in Clarkdale, south of Cottonwood Arizona. The home that they owned at that time was on the Verde River. One of the particularly interesting things that I remember, there at that stage of my life, was the fact that we woke up one morning and the Verde River was in a high stage of flood. In fact it was one of those 500-year floods that they keep track of, probably one of the highest that have ever been. After it had receded, there was considerable damage that had been done. Most of the farm equipment and outbuildings of the house had been washed away. The house, that was standing on higher ground, had not been bothered. We walked down to survey the damage, and I trailed along with the older boys who went down to see, and all the menfolk, and all the livestock had been washed away, and they had lost all their livestock. But while we were looking around, we heard a funny noise, and looking around, we pursued it, and kept hearing what we were sure sounded like pigs squealing. But we couldn’t find the pig.
Until, finally, we looked up in the tree. The water had been so high that that pig had been lodged in that tree over our heads, high enough in the tree that the men folks had to get ladders up into it to unwedge the pig. It was wedged in the crotch of the tree. It was still alive, very much alive, and not harmed any more, than I guess a good scare. Anyway, the pig lived to a good healthy normal life destiny later in life.
But one of the things that had happened at that time was that my dad, who had been recuperating, trying to recuperate from his health situation, had spent all the winter months that we were there chopping wood, and he had chopped up an enormously large pile of wood, sawed it up and chopped it up, ready for winter use, and all of that had been washed away. For the next few years, that wood was picked up clear on down, south of the Verde home, south of Bridgeport, where we moved to a little later on. It wasn’t long after that that my dad and mother went down to stay with Grandmother Willard, whose home was on the lower Verde south of Bridgeport.
Barbara: Was that Julia Frost Willard?
Ford: That was Julia Frost Willard, who is my grandmother, and she was living in the house by herself at that time, and we moved in with her for a short period of time. Not for long, before my dad purchased a place from one of the relatives back up near Bridgeport. That’s one of the things that I remember that stands out sharply in my mind was that trip we made by team and horses that my grandmother owned, up to Bridgeport from her place, crossing the Verde River again, and getting over on the East side of the Verde, to this Uncle Wallace’s place. My dad had made arrangements with him to buy out the place. He had starved out on it, which was a homestead deal, starved out on it and couldn’t make a living there, so he was very happy to find someone who was interested in looking after or buying it or anything else, so he just turned the house and everything over to us. And that became our home in the Verde Valley, and that is what is called the Bridgeport area, and that was where I lived when I was growing up.
Barbara: So, how big a house was it? Was it a fairly small house?
Ford: It was a fairly small house, it had a kitchen, and then a division, a kind of an entrance porch between the kitchen and the living room, and then a lean-to bedroom on one end of the house where my parents took over as theirs. The rest of us children had our beds scattered around the living room. Of course the smaller children… I should say my sister Mary Jo was born there, and my sister Paula was either born there or in Verde Hospital, which was at Clemenceau at that time. Mary Jo was born in that house, Paula was I think born in a hospital which was located at Clemenceau.
Barbara: Did I understand that you sometimes set up a tent there to sleep in?
Ford: Not there at the Verde Valley home. I think we did have a tent outside there, so that when we had relatives come visit with us, we boys would have a place to stay so that the relatives could sleep in the house.
But we had a tent, when we moved from that place to what we called the China Place, we set up a more permanent kind of a tent, we built a framework with a floor under it, and put a tent over that, plus a dugout that we put into a bank adjoining the tent, and we just called that our home. My mother and dad had their bed in the tent area, and us boys slept in the dugout in the bank. It was a kind of a cellar deal, it was open front.
Barbara: It wasn’t very dry when it rained?
Ford: It was solid dry, it was very dry, we weren’t bothered by rain. I would think the tent would be more likely to seep moisture, although my dad put a good coat of paraffin on the tent, and that was kind of an annual job to re-paraffin that tent so it was always waterproof. My mother always kept that tent, I have very distinct memories of how neat and proper she kept that tent house so it was a very decent place to live and eat. Of course in the winter time, or when it was raining, we’d eat inside the tent. And in the summertime we had our table outside underneath the trees, and we’d cook our dinners on the stove at the end of the tent, and carried it outside.
Barbara: You had lots of picnics.
Barbara: You could call them picnics, eating outside under the trees?
Ford: You might call it that in modern terms, but to us, we boys who grew up there, we lived in style. We were having plates on the table, and we ate with knife fork and spoons, and that was something.
Barbara: Did everyone in the area do that?
Ford: Would you say that question again?
Barbara: Did everyone in the area, not your family, other families that grew up around there, did they do the same thing, or did they do it differently?
Ford: I think they all ate inside of houses, with knives, forks, spoons, and plates. We didn’t visit too many other houses; we didn’t have too many neighbors down there.
Barbara: They say to ask you about playmates, but you had to play with your, well you probably didn’t get to play much. Didn’t you have to do a lot of working?
Ford: We had to take care of the farmland there, we had a small acreage of corn and some alfalfa hay, and we took care of all that, and the livestock we had also had to be taken care of.
Barbara: Did you have cows?
Ford: We had a few head of livestock, and at that particular time we didn’t have any more than one milk cow, we might have had one milk cow to supply milk to drink. Neither did we have any chickens. A few years later, when I was about 12 years old, we moved up on to what was called the Woodruff place, which joined us up on the north end of the China place. Now the Woodruff place had a house on it, and it was quite a big move for us, because there we lived like citizens again. Like landowners. We had an acreage of farm to take care of, pasture to take care of, livestock to take care of, and there we did have several milk cows that we milked…
Barbara: Did you have several horses as well? Is that livestock to you, or…
Ford: Well, at the beginning we had only our team of horses which we had to make do for our horseback riding. But later on, we got horses to take care of our livestock on. Because after my dad died, and it was on the Woodruff place that my Dad died, when I was in high school, 16 years old, I wanted to be a cowboy, so I got me a horse. I think I borrowed me a horse, until I had me enough money to get another one, a saddle, I traded a good cow for a saddle. The friends and neighbors who lived across the river from us, that was where my girlfriend lived, was a saddlemaker, and I got a saddle from them.
Barbara: What was her name?
Ford: Annie Bivens was my boyhood sweetheart, whom I had planned to marry when I finished high school and had got a job so I could earn a living and support a family.
Barbara: It didn’t work out. You got sidetracked?
Ford: After my dad died, my mother moved to Prescott. It was too hard to make a living on the farm, and she wanted something better, so she moved to town. My brother Lynn, who was younger than I, and my two sisters, moved up to Clemenceau, and there she set up what you might call a boarding house. She cooked meals, and took in roomers, and did that there in Clemenceau. But I didn’t want to move to town, so I stayed down there on the Woodruff place, and she had made arrangements to rent it out to the Bivens family, who wanted to move from their home over on the other side of the river and have a little place of their own. So they moved over to the Woodruff place, and I boarded with them, by arrangements my mother made. That was part of the agreement, that they would have to take care of the Woodruff farm and pay the rent, and cook my meals for me when I was there. We still had a little group of livestock that we had to take care of there. There was a bunkhouse a few yards away from the house that I used as my sleeping quarters. I lived in the bunkhouse, and their older son JD lived out there in the bunkhouse with me. I ate my meals with the family.
Barbara: Tell me, this is going back a little bit, but what happened about that big thunderstorm, where your dad supposedly was hit by lightning? You’re not sure that he was, but sort of recount that story.
Ford: Well, while we were still living on what I called the Wallace Willard Farmstead, which was on the west side of the Verde, where we first moved to when we came down from the Nichols, and moved from my grandmother’s into a permanent location, in the house that I had described earlier there, and a barn about a 100 yards, about 500 feet from the house. We kept hay and a cow in that barn. The barn was also part of the farmstead there where we kept pigs, and where we had the big fiasco with pigs. One of the things that I had never remembered, and Brother Frank related in his memoirs, was the fact that my Dad wanted to go into the pig business there in that location. And he bought some purebred Hereford hogs, a sow and a boar. And he started in to the purebred hog business. One of the big financial blows that came to us, after he had paid a real big price for the breeding stock, and we’d got a herd of hogs started, they came down with cholera, and all the shoats, all the hogs that we had raised up to that time, which consisted of 18 head of the 2 batches of pigs, came down with cholera and all died.
Barbara: That was a blow.
Ford: That was a real blow financially, just wiped my parents out completely as far as finances were concerned.
We had a piece of farm ground associated with this place, which we irrigated with a little pump, from the river. It looked like a well, because the water from the river was dammed up a little and funneled into a little well or kind of a bank that they built into the farmland there. And then pumped up out of that, if I continue to use that term "well" or reservoir, 15 to 20 feet up from the surface of the ground into the air by a bucket system which was powered by a fairbanks-morse motor, and then carried by a belt down to a power system at the bottom of the well, which turned it over and over and came up to the top and splashed water out, I shouldn’t say splashed, dumped the water into a flume there. And then that carried that down into a ditch that went right by the house into the field to irrigate the field, and they only things that we could grow there was by the water that we pumped out of the Verde River by this system, and then by ditch down into the fields where we used it for little fields, garden spots, watermelons primarily, of course our sweet corn and some field corn, just enough for livestock, and the alfalfa hay that we had. And one time that we were down there, I was just 8 years old at that time, we were, my dad, and my brother Francis and I were cultivating by hand, hoeing in other words, the field of corn that we had. And during this time, a real black cloud came up from the north, and my dad looked at it and said "Kids, I guess we’d better be getting home." And about that time it started raining. Before we’d gotten very far, the rain was just pouring down, and we had to lean against it in order to make any progress. My dad was holding me by the hand, one hand, and Frank was on the other side helping my dad and me along. My brother Frank at that time was 12 years old, so he was a pretty good sized kid, and just before we got back up to the barn area in this kind of leaned over position, there was kind of a flash of lightning; of course this was a thunderstorm anyway, and the lightning was flashing all around us, and thunder was making all the cracks and roars characteristic of a storm of this nature, and it was what I thought was a kind of a flash, don’t know for sure. My dad thought he was hit by lightning, but I was cut by a piece of tin that had blown off of the roof of the barn which we were approaching, and I think that piece of tin hit my dad right squarely in the face flat-wise, and then turned and went sideways and about cut my arm off, my right arm, and it knocked my dad completely out, and he was lying flat on the ground. My brother Frank looked the situation over, and seeing my dad on the ground, and looked at me, and seeing my arm severely cut, he quickly pulled a hankerchief out of his pocket, wound it around my arm, and said "Ford, head for the house!" And this I did at a dead run, and I got to the house ahead of my Dad and Frank. My mother, knowing that we were out in the field, was standing there in the door, and she saw me running down the path way, and having to cross the irrigation ditch on just a narrow board that we used to cross with, with my arm bandaged up, no hat, clothes blown half-way off, in fact I think I lost my shirt, scared her half to death. So she got me into the house and wrapped a towel around my arm, and wanted to know where my dad and Frank was, and I said "I think they’re coming," and I followed her back to the door. And there my brother Frank was half-carrying my dad as he stumbled along, and trying to get across that narrow bridge, my brother Frank just had to about carry him across there, and brought him over into the house. He was in very poor condition.
He did come out of there alright, he could figure out what happened, and although he thought he was hit by lightning, I think to this day that it was a big piece of tin, because I think lightning…
Barbara: If he held your hand, then you would have got it too.
Ford: I think we all would have got it had it been lightning. But anyway, I got a vacation out of that, my arm was severely cut, and I had to be taken by the neighbors who lived across the river from us to the hospital, the United Verde Extension Hospital, where they had a doctor. They didn’t have a doctor any closer than that. The doctor that worked in that hospital had to come from Jeromewhich was several miles away up on the side of the mountain over there at the edge of the Verde Valley. I don’t know, I guess both of you remember the Mingus Mountain area.
Barbara: I remember Jerome a little bit, because it was sort of interesting, it was a ghost town
Ford: It was a ghost town when you were little…
Barbara: I know it has blossomed since.
Ford: At that time it was a well populated town, it was the biggest town in the area, and it had a hospital also, and a doctor who stayed there all the time. He came down to Clemenceau and he put stitches in my arm, and then he came out and helped my dad. He was badly bruised and shook up from the force of whatever had hit him. Well, with stitches in my arm, and having to carry it like it was broken, this way, I couldn’t work, and so I kind of got a vacation. My aunt Sadie and uncle, whose name I have forgotten at this time, she was a Mund, Sadie Munds, and her husband, his name was Dan Harper, and Uncle Dan and Aunt Sadie took pity on me, and wanted to take me with them on a vacation, so they took me with them on a vacation up to Mormon Lake. It was the first time I’d been off the farm since we had come to Arizona, I guess. There I got to fish with my left hand, and enjoy the fried fish that others caught and biscuits that they made and on thing or another. I still remember, I really enjoyed that camping trip that we had at that particular time.
But it was after that that we moved down to the China Place. While we were living on the China place we had to go to school in Clemenceau, which was about 3 miles from Bridgeport, the Bridgeport home was another mile or so down the river, and we had to get from the China Place up to the Clemenceau school, and we did that by a bus that the district engaged.
Now I left out that portion of my youth in which I went to the Verde School, good old district #44 which was a one-room schoolhouse, taught by one teacher for a good while, and then a little later on a second teacher came in. It was at this little one room school that we really got acquainted with my Aunt Edna, because she was the principal and the teacher there. Later on they had another teacher come in and help teach. But for 2 years that I was there, they had just the one teacher. Aunt Edna taught my brother Lynn, and he remembers Aunt Edna teaching him.
But I had to walk to that school, from our home, and go down and wade the Verde River, and I can remember very well the first time that I made that crossing to go to school. We didn’t have kindergarten there, but we did start to school when we were 6 years old, and I was 6 years old when my mother took me down to the river, made a lunch for me which I carried along like a big boy would, you know, and helped me roll up my britches, take off my shoes and roll up my britches, and she even waded across the river with me the first time, holding my hand, to get me across the river. Then from there on we followed the trail other kids had made I guess, along the road to the Willard School. I thought it was a mile, but I guess maybe actually it was changed later on. Now, another interesting thing about that was that when the Verde River was flooding, you couldn’t wade it. The only way to get across it was by cable car, that the neighbors had built, a ranch adjoining to us to the south about a half mile, and they had two big boys, and they rigged up a cable stretched from one tree on one side of the river, to a tree on a bank on the other side of the river, and hooked a little boxlike car on pulleys. You pulled yourself along with a rope that they had in the middle to the other side, then you anchored it and got out, and climbed down a little ladder. So there were several times when the Verde River was flooding that I had to go across the river by cable car. I don’t remember going by myself. Always when I went the bigger boys pulled the cable car across, so I was able to do it that way. But it was interesting, I do remember doing that ride across the Verde River.
Kathy: Were you scared?
Ford: I don’t remember being scared.
Kathy: More of an adventure?
Ford: Of course, it wasn’t too high off of the ground, not something that was way up in the air, it was just high enough so that it would miss the water, high enough to take care of the sway of the cable and the weight of the car as it went across. I imagine that it was anchored about 10 feet up the trees on each side, but on each side there was a bank above the river, so we would come down 4 or 5 feet from the river bed itself when you were out in the middle, so you had to force it to make progress.
Barbara: Did you have a favorite horse, dad?
Ford, Oh, yes. After my mother and two sisters Paula and Mary Jo, and Lynn, moved to Clemenceau, I had my two favorite horses there. One of them was a barn horse, but then Aunt Edna and Uncle Art, who were always very kind to me, sympathetic, usually I had one of their horses there also. So, my string of horses usually consisted of one horse and two borrowed horses.
Kathy: Do I remember a story about a horse that would pretend it was injured, it would wheeze and whine around, act like it couldn’t run one step farther without falling down dead. Do you remember that story?
Ford: I think you’re talking about a horse that we had out at the farm, aren’t you?
Kathy: Snort? Snort would limp and…
Ford: No, we had an old one-eyed farm out at the farm that I bought at a sale there
Barbara: That wasn’t Ned was it? I thought Ned came from the Flakes,
Ford: Yea, that was Ned
Barbara: I remember Ned. He was an old yellow ugly beast.
Ford: Yeah, he was an old yellow ugly horse.[more about a new tape]
I used to go with him on his trap routes quite a bit, just to have something to do when I wasn’t in school, and lots of times on Saturday when I was in school, and when my mother happened to be in town, and my dad doing something, Old Charlie Mahan, which was the name of this friend, and I were baching, why bread and milk was our favorite food. He liked to have clabbered milk
Ford: …and he would drink his milk clabbered. I preferred bread and milk, and I couldn’t eat clabbered milk very much. Nowadays, they call it yogurt, but we just called it clabbered.
Barbara: I remember Aunt Bessie’s farm, they always had a pot of milk clabbering. To me it was just boiling. But different things for different folks. What about holidays, what did you do to celebrate Christmas?
Ford: Oh, goodness. During those days, Christmas was a kind of a time, well, I don’t know. I don’t remember too many Christmases when I was a youngster. I only remember one Christmas particularly, when I was growing up, and we were still living on the Wallace Willard farm. Lynn and I wanted something for Christmas. We wanted .22s for Christmas, but my Dad and Mother couldn’t afford .22s. But when we got up Christmas morning and went to our stockings, and we used stockings in those days, to put our Christmas presents in, which consisted of apples and oranges, and maybe a little hard candy, and things of that nature, we found a special long package under our socks, and we thought "Oh boy, have we got something special here!" We opened them up and thought, sure enough, we each one had a cork pop-gun.
Barbara: Not quite the same as a .22, huh?
Ford: Not quite the same, but I didn’t get my first gun until I was 12 years old, living with my dad out on Oak Creek. Before we had moved down to the China place, my dad this particular summer was taking care of the Oak Creek farm for my Aunt Edna and Uncle Art. My dad and I lived out there during the Summertime. I had my 12 birthday while I was out there, and at that time, my dad gave to me the shotgun that his dad had given to him. It was an old double-barreled Parker, and boy I thought it was a beautiful gun, and it was. My dad could kill anything with the snap of a finger, and he let me go shoot a rabbit with it that morning. He said, "Here son, I’m going to give this gun to you, and it’s going to be yours," and so I kept it from that time on. Up to then, I had used a single-shot .22 to shoot birds around, and try to keep sparrows from eating all the peaches as they were getting ripe.
One little interesting incident that I remember during that time out there on Oak Creek, going out one morning on my way to the orchard, was hearing a rattlesnake in the bushes, and sure enough, as I poked around with the end of my .22, there was a rattlesnake coiled up inside of a bush, and I jumped back from it and I went and told my dad. He said, "Wait a minute son, I’ll go get my shotgun and put an end to that rattlesnake before anyone gets hurt." Well, I went out there with little .22 with the birdshot in it, and stuck it down there next to that rattlesnake, and was going to kill it with that. The rattlesnake was laying there all coiled up, with its head right down ready to strike if anything got close enough to be struck at, and I shot at it with that .22. Of course, all that .22 did was make it mad, and it raised its head up like that and getting ready to strike, and my dad came up just at that time, with just a flick of his finger, his gun not raised up to his shoulder, but from his hip, shot the head off of that rattlesnake.
Barbara: Close call, dad.
Ford: I would have gotten bit if he hadn’t done that. Rattlesnake are just awfully fast, and it shows just how fast my dad could shoot.
[There’s approximately 1 more hour of tape… but it is just going to have to wait for some other time for me to transcribe it… it is nearly midnight. It is very much similar to what is in the other 8 tapes.- Liz]