THE LIFE AND TIMES OF WILLIAM NATHAN
Submitted by Barbara VanEllen
I was born (or so I've been told, and some may dispute this) in a
little mountain cove near Lometa, Lampasas County, Texas on the 30th
day of July 1923.
Some of the things that happened when I was very small, I have to go
on what I've been told by others. But never-the-less it did happen.
There was a young man that lived in or near Lometa, that decided he
was going to give my grandpa a whipping. He made a mistake. He
wasn't man enough and got a good thrashing for his trouble. He left
the country after telling several people that he would get even with
my grandpa one way or another. One day this young man showed up at
our house, wearing a beard and asked my mother for directions to
some place in the area. Mother was not only suspicious of some one
coming to such an out of the way place asking for directions, but
she also recognized the young man in spite of his beard. When Dad
got home. Mother told him about this man coming there. Dad checked
around and found where the man had hid his car behind some brush.
Dad got his gun and went into Lometa and told Grandpa. They started
searching for the young man. They followed him to Hillsboro, w/here
they found the sheriff or one of his deputies had shot and killed
the young man not over an hour before. This happened when I was just
a small baby.
Another time while I was quite small, it snowed. The next morning.
Mother looked out at the barn where Dad had put his corn, saw the
door open and thought the cows had gotten into the corn crib. She
told Dad, who went to look. There was the tracks of a wagon in the
snow. Someone had helped himself to Dads corn the night before.
Evidently it was still snowing when the man left, but quit before it
could cover his tracks. Dad got his horse and gun and tracked the
man to his house where the man still had the team hooked to the
wagon. Dad made him drive back to our house, unload the corn back
into the corn crib, then get down and come into the house and eat
dinner with us. Then he told the man he could go home. That fellow
decided he wanted to live in California after that.
I don't remember too much about what was going on in the world until
we moved to Oklahoma. I'm not sure what year that was, but must have
been in 1927 or 1928.
I guess at this time I need to take time and tell you about some of
the people involved. There was Dad (Samuel Lancaster Tackitt, better
known as Sam Tackitt) Mother (Hallie Louise Craw Tackitt) Uncle
(William Alee Tackitt, better known as Uncle, or Uncle Alee. He was
Dads older brother who lived with us all his life) Matie Day the
oldest, R.C. next in line, Margaret, ME, (maybe I had better make
that a little me), Sammye, Jo, Johnme, and last but not least Ellen.
There will probably be others but they will just come and go.
When we moved to Oklahoma Dad had two Model T's, twenty-two head of
horses and mules. Uncle and one of the neighbor men took the
livestock with two covered wagons and left some time before we did.
We caught up with them at Denison, Texas. We spent the night in a
cabin (what we would call a motel now). (They were called Tourist
Cabins).The one where we were had some goats in a pin behind it. The
wall to the cabin was one side of the fence. Two Billy's got into a
fight during the night. One made a pass at the other, missed, and
hit the wall of the cabin. Uncle jumped up yelling that they were in
the cabin. I know it did sound like it. Well we finally settled down
and got some sleep. Another thing that happened at Denison was that
Dad had two wolfhounds named Lead and Dixey. Dad had them in the
back of the one T model he had converted into a pickup. Some men
came up to look at the dogs. Dad told them that the dogs would bite.
One man didn't believe Dad and lost a joint off of his finger when
he tried to pet Dixey. I don't think anyone else tried to pet them.
In Oklahoma, we lived near a town called Tushka. I don't know how
far out of town we lived, but it was close enough for us to walk to
school. Our nearest neighbors were named Cooper.They had a boy named
Donald who was one year older than I, but about the same size. (I
was told that was caused from chewing tobacco, and if I kept on
chewing tobacco, I would be small for my age too.) We played and
fought, played and fought, all the time. His mother was sure a
nice lady. One time I took pneumonia and almost died. In fact the
doctor did give up on me, but Mother didn't. While I was
recuperating, Ms Cooper helped take care of me. She helped me to
bake a cake using the ingredients that I wanted to use. She dipped
snuff. Do I need to say more? No one would eat it although it looked
real good.. One time when Donald and I were fighting (we were in the
wagon) Dad came by, picked us up and set us on the ground, and went
on to the house. Didn't say a word. I'm sure that he was very
worried about us. Its funny how some little thing sticks in your
mind. It was sprinkling rain when Dad took us out of the wagon.
At the time we were there you could start to school at age six. The
first day I was up and ready early. The second, I wasn't in quite as
big a hurry. The third day I informed Mother that I had learned all
that the teacher knew and it wasn't any need for me to go any more..
Apparently I didn't convince her as she insisted that I go. We
argued about it but she had the better argument (a razor strap),
that got me going although reluctantly. When I passed Mr. Coopers
house he told me not to cry and I trew rocks at him. I had a bad
habit of throwing rocks at anyone who crossed my path when I wasn't
in a good mood.
There was a place back in the pasture of about an acre that was sunk
down about twenty or thirty feet. (I don't know if it was like some
of the sink holes in Florida or if a meteor had hit there). Sycamore
trees grew in it real thick. We played there a lot. The older kids
would climb up the young trees and swing out from the top. The tree
would bend over and lower them to the ground. One day Matie Day got
into one of the older trees and it only bent about halfway down. She
finally managed to climb back up and get down that way.
The road that came in front of our house had an old tree in the
center of it about two hundred yards from our house. The old tree
had been cut down at one time and a lot of limbs grew out from the
stump. Moonshiners would place whiskey for their customers in that
growth. Sometimes they would pull up fence post and put the bottle
in the hole, then put the post back. One day an old Indian came by
the house looking for more whiskey. He was so drunk he didn't know
where he was (and probably didn't care) He tried to get our gate
open but was too drunk. Probably a good thing as Mother was standing
in the door with a loaded double-barreled shotgun. R.C. was in the
yard getting ready to turn those two wolfhounds loose if the Indian
got through the gate.
When we moved to Oklahoma, Dad had twenty two head of horses and
mules. They'd been raised around Lometa and never exposed to sand.
Most of them died from sand colic. This was about the time the Great
Depression hit and it pretty well wiped Dad out. We picked cotton
all over the country, (or I should say Dad, Mother, Uncle, and the
older kids did) Dad would park his Model T under a tree and Sammye
and I would stay there. I tested everything until I found that by
stepping on the starter, I could make that old car move. . About
that time I also realized that there was some strange people out
there picking cotton They were black!! I had never seen any one that
was black before. One happened to be a teenage girl. I took off
after her with that Model T and ended up getting the whipping of my
young life. Not only that, but I lost my shade tree and had to pick
cotton and put in Dads sack. That didn't keep me out of trouble as I
trew a rock at a grasshopper and that black girls daddy happened to
be in the same direction. Naturally, I got another whipping. By the
way there was two brothers that picked cotton with us and played
semi-pro ball on weekends. They were named Paul and Dizzy Dean. They
would come out to pick cotton on Monday and their shoulders would be
blue like a bruise from throwing the ball so much.
Another thing I remember, was one time Dad came back from somewhere
he had been working, and he had a big old hoot owl on the hood of
his car. We kept that thing on the front porch for a long time. I
can remember walking around and around that owl trying to catch him
turning his head back around. I was fully convinced that old owl
could keep turning his head in one direction all day and never wind
it up too tight.
Those wolfhounds we had. The sheriff borrowed one and never did
bring him back. Said he had gotten away and he couldn't catch him.
Dad always believed he sold him to some one out of state. I don't
know what happened to Dixey.
When we moved back to Texas (I believe it must have been in 1929 or
1930), we moved to a place which we called the Versher Place. It was
owned by two brothers and one sister and I think there was a niece
living with them. I don't remember where it was located, but I do
remember a lot of things that happened there.
We had to pump water out of a well with a hand pump. It seams like I
heard someone say it was about three hundred feet deep. I do know it
had a real long handle on it and I could swing on it without moving
it. All the water used in the house, and most of what the livestock
got was from that well.
One time we had some company and Dad sent one of the boys and I up
to the main house to water the horses. (They had a windmill and a
big stock tank there.) Well when we watered the horses, the old lady
came out and said something to us. We ended up by riding off a
little ways, then coming back and watering them again. After two or
three times of doing this, she really got on to us and wanted to
know why. We told her that every time we came up to the trough, the
horses would drink and we just wanted to make sure they had enough.
I don't remember getting a whipping for that, but probably deserved
There was a preacher that lived in the area who had three boys.
(their mother was dead). Those boys stayed in trouble all of the
time. (The youngest was the one with me when we watered the horses.)
We had a shepherd dog that we thought was the only dog on earth that
was any good. One day our dog came home minus his tail. It had been
cut off. Naturally we were up in arms wanting to know who and what
for. Dad taught us something then that has stuck with me all these
years. Dad told us to keep quite, not to even mention that anything
had happened. He told us that very soon the culprits would have to
boast about it. Sure enough in about two weeks we found out. Dad
caught the preacher and his boys going to town and waved them down.
He leaned on the side of the car and he and the preacher talked
about crops and things. Finally one of the boys blurted out that it
wasn't him, it was the oldest two. Their daddy wanted to know what
they were talking about and the truth came out. Their daddy told Dad
that they had to go back home to tend to some business and they lefr.
Pretty soon those boys showed up and apologized to all of us.
There lived in the country a young man who was a little slow (People
called them Half-wits then). I believe his name was Bo but am
not sure. Anyway Bo was cutting wood for one of the neighbors. The
preachers oldest boy went down there and climbed up the tree that Bo
was cutting and dared him to cut it down. Bo did. The top of the
tree hung about halfway down and threw that boy out. He hit across a
stump and knocked him out cold. . The man whose wood was being cut
happened up about that time. He told Dad that Bo was standing over
the boy saying:"! didn't devise you to get in that tree. I didn't
devise you too".
One time Bo came to the house to visit and it soon became evident
that he was there to spark Matie Day. He would scoot his chair over
beside Matie Day and she would scoot hers away. Finally I caught
them close together and tied the chairs together with a rope. Ever
time Matie Day would try to move her chair. Bo would yell Whoa. I
probably ended up with a black eye for that.
I think I told you about the short time that I went to school in
Oklahoma. Well when we moved back to Texas, I couldn't go as you had
to be seven years old. The next year they changed it back to six, so
Sammye and I started together. The school that we went to was
out in the middle of nowhere. One room, one teacher. The teacher had
some unique ways of punishment. One was walking around and around
the school house during recess and lunch period. You ate your lunch
walking. No sitting down. How many days you were sentenced too,
depended upon the crime. Another punishment was making a boy sit
with a girl. One time he made a boy sit with Sammye and she pushed
him out of the seat. The teacher told him to get back in the seat
and for Sammye to let him sit there. Well Sammye hit the boy over
the head with her books. The teacher made her stand in a comer. That
was a mistake! Sammye could scream louder and shriller than any one
I ever heard. It didn't take long for the teacher to send her back
to her seat (minus the boy)!
We were blessed with the most modem of facilities.. Especially
bathrooms. There were two creeks, one on each side of the school.
One for the girls, and one for the boys. Also the school was built
at the edge of a cemetery. Beautiful location for a school.
I think I had more fights at that school than any other that I went
to. There were two boys who were cousins, who thought they ruled the
roost. They would both jump on a boy and give him a whipping. When
they jumped me I managed to bite one on the cheek and he wasn't
putting out his full effort. Left the other one to do the fighting.
R.C. pulled one of them off and the one I had by the cheek was ready
to go back to the school house. He got loose and scooted away. R.C.
turned the other loose, but he had decided he had all he wanted, I
guess. He headed for the school house too. R.C. and I went up there
as it was about time for school to take up. One of the boys teenage
sister walked up and slapped me for lighting with her brother. I was
never too bashful, so I slapped her back.. She hit me with her fist
and I returned the favor. She went in and told the teacher that she
hit Nathan and he hit her back. The teacher told her she wasn't
supposed to be hitting anyone. Then she told him that I hit her and
she hit me back. He told her that she was lying. In the meantime I
had crawled under the school house thinking I was going to get a
good whipping. R.C. had to crawl under there and drag me out .By the
way, the last time I saw that boy that I bit, he still had a perfect
imprint of my teeth on his cheek. One time at school we were playing
some game and several boys fell on me and dislocated my shoulder. I
knew something was wrong with me as I felt funny, but didn't know
just what. When recess was over our class had to go to the front of
the room to work some problems on the blackboard. The teacher asked
me for the answer and when I opened my mouth to answer, I vomited
all over my best girl friend, (she didn't seem to like me after
that!) The teacher told RC to take me home. so RC put me on the back
of his horse (we rode horses to school. They were our school
bus,)and took me home. I felt pretty good by the time we got home,
but when I reached around and grabbed the saddle horn with my left
hand, I fell off, sick as a dog. (It was my left shoulder that was
dislocated.) Ms Versher came down and showed Mother how to reset my
shoulder. She got a good hold on my left arm and gave a very sudden
twist, and it popped back into place. It smarted!!!!!, but it didn't
take me long to get back to normal.
A very embarrassing thing happened there one night. We had company,
several were teenage girls, and some how as I was sitting on the
floor, I managed to get a splinter in my behind. They laid me down
on my tummy, pulled my pants down and one of the men cut that
splinter out with his pocketknife.
When the crops were laid by for the summer. Dad would get out the
wagon bows and tarp and fix up a covered wagon. We would go and
spend about a week at the river.. We would catch those jumbo
grasshoppers for bait. I remember being dared to eat one and I did.
I didn't know about the high protein at that time. Oh well. We
carried, flour, sugar and salt, and Mother cooked over a camp fire.
Fried fish, potatoes, gravy, and boy oh boy, good old home made
biscuits made in a Dutch Oven!!!!
One of the neighbor men (young man) came down and fished with us one
time. He was playing in the river upstream from where I was. I was
skipping flat rocks across the river, and for some reason this man
decided to swim through a whirlpool to see how fast he could go.
Well he and one of my rocks got to the same place at the same time.
Cut a big gash over his ear. I got a whipping for it. I think it
must have been for general principles as I wasn't trying to hit the
I learned to swim down there at the river. I wore cutoff overalls to
swim and play in. Matie Day would hold me up by the suspenders and
gradually let off As soon as I felt slack, under I would go. I had
found a place where I could wade across the river by walking on my
tip-toes. One time I was down there by my self and misjudged my
mark. I stepped into a hole, went under, and came up swimming. I
didn't stop until my knees hit bottom. (I knew I didn't have any one
to depend on but myself). I never had a fear of water after that.
Never had any trouble swimming or diving. A couple of days later we
almost got caught by rising water. A big rain up river some place.
You could actually see the water coming up.
Dad never took a boat to the river. He would set out his trotlines
and run them by wading. Beside the jumbo grasshoppers. Dad had us
catch a thing called a Hellgrammite.
Now these little fellows had some mighty powerful pinchers and they
could pinch to the bone. We would turn over rocks to find them. If
you ever want to catch one ask Benny Frank He caught one down here
on the Brazos. After that first one he was a lot more careful in how
he caught them.
We always had a lot of fun when we went to the river. Maybe that is
one of the reasons that I like to live down here on the Old Brazos.
Most of the time there were several of the neighbor young men that
came and fished, swam or just had a good time. While we lived on the
Versher Place, we did a lot of things that got us into trouble. One
thing I remember was putting nails in the road. What I would do was
take a bunch of nails, a rock and drive those nails into the hard
dirt so the point was sticking up. One of our neighbors came by one
day and ended up with four flat tires. I'm pretty sure that I got a
good whipping for that. If I didn't, I sure needed one. (Probably
one of the few times that Mother missed. Ha.)
In those days, they graded the roads with a grader pulled behind an
old Cat tractor. The man who ran the grader really had his hands
full. He had two big wheels to control the blade depth, two more to
control the angle, a steering wheel and seems like there where a
couple more. Ha. One week-end they parked that old tractor and
grader in front of our house. By Monday, I had almost figured out
how to start that tractor, but wasn't quite big enough to spin it
over. (They hand cranked it by putting a bar into a hole in the
fly-wheel and giving it a spin. The holes where cut out so that the
bar would not hang when the engine started.) I had a lot of fun that
week-end. Probably a good thing they didn't make a habit of parking
in front of our house too often.
I remember one time that some boy about my own age came to visit and
we played out in the front yard. I had a little metal tractor that I
was very fond of as it was one of the few toys that I had that
wasn't home made. Well when that little boy went home I looked for
my tractor and couldn't find it. (I never did find it). I wanted to
go get it, but Mother wouldn't let me. She didn't believe the boy
took it, that I had put it someplace and couldn't find it. As I
said, I never did find it.
That was the place where Sammye and I went into business for our
selves by making and selling brooms. We had lots and lots
ofbroomweeds and couldn't think of any reason not to make some money
off of them. I don't think we flooded the market with our brooms. As
a matter of fact, I don't think we sold all that we made the first
time around. So we had to come up with some other plan to make our
That old shepherd dog loved to fight. Every time a strange dog came
by, Shep would go out and whip him. (The reason I said strange dog
is that the next time that dog came into our neighborhood, he made a
big circle around and open area that was in front of the house). One
day we had old Shep hooked up to a little sled that we played with,
and a strange dog came down the road. We not only lost our sled, but
the harness that we had made. The sled was pretty well destroyed,
and we never did find the harness. Shep also was good at catching
rabbits. He had a method worked out, and he would catch almost
everyone he chased. Those rabbits would head for the fence, and go
through, but Shep would time it to when the rabbit went through the
fence, Shep went over and come down on top of the rabbit. (By the
way these were sheep and goat fences, so a dog couldn't go through.
They had to go over or were stopped.)
When we lived there we had a pet squirrel. We could call him and
here he would come. One thing he really liked, was to curl up around
our hand and let us rub his back down a sheet on the bed. He would
bite if we went the wrong way. One time RC and I were out in the
pasture and the dogs treed a squirrel in a little bush about
shoulder high. RC thought it was out pet, so he reached out and got
him. Well that squirrel bit him pretty good, but he hung on and
carried him back to the house and put him in a cage we had in the
back yard. When we got in the house, there was our pet sitting on a
chair. By the way that pet squirrel could play in the yard, on the
ground and our dog would not bother him. But if he got over the
fence, he was fair game.
To show you how much smarts this kid had, let me tell you about me
and the bull. One time Dad, Uncle, RC, and some of our neighbors men
were sitting down on one side of a fence, when a big old bull came
up on the other side and challenged us. He was pawing the ground and
snorting and daring any one to come over on his side. Uncle or one
of the other men was teasing RC about getting down on his hands and
knees and go butt heads with that bull. I'm telling this from what
I've been told as I don't remember it myself. Anyway, Dad said while
they were teasing RC, they looked around and I had crawled under
that fence and was on my hands and knees and was heading for that
bull pawing the dirt and bellering like he was doing. Dad said all
they could do was keep still and hope for the best. Well the Good
Lord still looks out for some mighty foolish kids. They said that
old bull backed up a few steps, then turned tail and took off like
the devil himself was after him.
We moved from that place to a place in Mills county, near
Goldthwaite. And this was on top of a mountain. I don't remember
much about the house except that our water system was a windmill
that pumped water into a wooden barrel, that one let the water run
into another barrel, then it ran into another barrel, then into a
stock tank. We got our drinking water out of the first barrel. Not
for from the house, the mountain took a quick drop of quite a few
feet. There was a trail that went down and around to the valley
below. But, naturally, RC and I found a different way down, a
shortcut of sorts. We would climb down the face of the rock into the
top of a tree, then on down the tree to the ground. That saved a lot
of walking. Near where we came down, there was a large rock that we
thought some one had placed there to cover up the mouth of a cave.
We did an awful lot of work trying to move that rock, but never had
Not too far from where we climbed down the face of the rock, was a
large round rock, that looked like it was ready to roll if a good
breeze hit it. Well there was quite a bit of valley for it to roll
in if we could just get it to moving. We worked for some time
encouraging that rock to go someplace else, and finally got it
going. Well as you probably guessed, it didn't go the way we had
planned. One of our neighbors had just finished putting in a new
fence. Then all fence post holes were dug by hand, and this was
almost solid rock. Naturally that old rock headed for the new fence
and took down about a quarter mile of it. Broke all the post down
and off, and did a beautiful job of demolishing that fence. RC came
up with the bright idea of smearing moss on all of the pry marks
where the rock had been. The neighbor didn't really believe that
rock had taken off by itself. He said that rock had been there for
ten thousand years, and without help would have been there for
another ten thousand years. Oh well some people just have suspicious
There was more petrified wood and other things on that mountain top.
Mother brought home a rock with a whole rattlesnake coiled up on it.
It even had the rattles. Mother also found a petrified Indian baby,
but could never go back to the same place to find it again. She had
found it in a brushy thicket. Dad would plow up long limbs of trees
that had petrified. So there was always a lot of it in our fields. I
don't know what ever happened to the rattlesnake. We used it for a
door step for a long time. We probably moved off and left it when we
moved from there.
Dad raised sugar cane and we had to strip the leaves off, then cut
it down with long knives, then take it to the syrup mill to make
what we called syrup. (It was really molasses.) But it was a real
education going to the mill. They had two operations that went on at
the mill. The first was squeezing the juice out of the cane. This
was done by running the cane through two big steel rollers set
vertically without hardly any clearance between them. They had a
long tongue that they hooked a mule to, and he walked around and
around pulling that tongue. It was hooked up mechanically to those
two rollers. The juice flowed down into buckets and from there it
was carried over to the cooker. This was a large pan about four by
ten foot with dividers across it so that the juice had to zig-zag
down that pan. By the time it got to the other end it was syrup. The
man who ran the cooker would regulate the speed that the juice
flowed by blocking some of the openings in the dividers. The longer
that it took, the darker and thicker it was. It was then put into
buckets, and we carried it back home to eat on all winter and
spring. Personally, I would rather have ribbon cane syrup then that
molasses, but when that was the only sweet thing you had, it tasted
By the way before I forget, I saw a couple of the teenage boys drink
some of the cane juice. They got drunker than skunks and then it
made them awful sick. The juice itself, was like sweetened water,
but the cane had a white powder on it that got mixed with the juice
and must have been very potent. Evidently cooking it killed the
Some of our cousins came there that summer to spend the summer with
us. Matie Day and Mavis was about the same age, but could not get
along at all. I think Matie Day had Mavis crying two-thirds of the
time she was there. I remember one time that we were riding
horseback and one of our horses had a bad habit of walking out into
a tank up to her belly to get a drink..And if you didn't watch she
would lay down and roll in the water. We almost lost one of our
cousins that way, but somehow she survived. By the way that tank
where the horse laid down, had some little rocks that looked like
they were petrified hearts from some small animal. We used to go
there and load up our pockets with ammunition for our shooters. (We
used to have a name for them, but it is considered a no-no
now-a-days.) Any way those little heart shaped rocks were perfect,
and we could get all we wanted. That was the only place that I
remember ever seeing them.
Dad had goats and sheep on that place. We also had hogs running
loose in one of the pastures. We had an old Billy goat that would
butt. Sammye got caught out there near the barn one day and that old
goat got after her. She grabbed his horns and hung on, screaming at
the top of her lungs. Uncle grabbed up a two-by-four and worked that
goat over real good. One thing we found out, that old Billy liked
redhaws. We would climb up in a redhaw tree and find that old Billy
down below. When we got ready to get down, we would shake down a
bunch of redhaws and while that old Billy was eating, we would slip
down and go to another tree.
I remember one time during the winter when Dad and Uncle had to stay
up all night keeping those sheep from killing themselves. It was
real cold and wet and those sheep would climb up on top of the
others trying to get to the back of the shed and out of the wet
cold. They would pile up so deep that they would smother those
below. Dad and Uncle would have to drag them off. They stayed up all
night doing that.
One time Mother was visiting one of our neighbors. I was playing
outside and stepped on a broken snuff bottle and cut my foot real
bad. I went to the house.but didn't want to get blood all over that
woman's floor, so I stopped outside and tried to call Mother.
Finally one of the woman's girls came out and found me. I was so
weak that I couldn't walk and they had to saddle a horse for me to
ride home on. You think I didn't get a chewing out for that. That
lady told me that if I ever cut my foot at her house again and
didn't come into the house, she would whip me real good.. By the
way, they used wood ashes to stop the bleeding.
We went to school some distance from our house, so we rode
horseback., I had to ride on the back end of a big old horse that
looked to be about ten foot tall. Matie Day, Sammye and I rode that
horse. Naturally I got the rumble seat. That horse was so tall I
would have to climb up part way to get my foot in the stirrup, then
on up. She had the highest backbone I've ever seen on a horse and
when she trotted, she always seem to manage to be going up when you
were going down . In other words, after you had ridden her very
much, it took a pretty hard whipping to get through the calluses .
One time I was having some difficulty in getting high enough to
reach the stirrup, and that horse got impatient and stepped on my
foot.When my foot got loose I almost jumped over her. Boy did that
I don't remember too much about that school except one time the
teacher decided that some of us that held up our hands to go to the
outhouse, really didn't need to go. I wet my pants and so did two
other boys. I had to ride behind one of the neighbor girls going
home. I was really humiliated.
I'm sure that a lot of other things happened at this place, I just
can't seem to think of any of them at this time. Also, I can always
add them later. That is one of the nice things about doing this on a
We moved from there to a place near Lometa called the Lacy place.
(Lacy-Lakeview , in Waco is named after that family). Our house was
at the foot of a mountain. I don't know if you would call it a
finger or just what, but it was a strip of the mountain that stuck
out from the main part. It was real steep, and a good climb to the
top. That is where I broke my front tooth that stayed with me until
I had all of them pulled. How it happened? Well let me tell you
about it. Sammye, Little Jack (My cousin), and I worked all day
getting a 55 gal barrel up to the top of that mountain. We had plans
of getting inside and riding it back down. However, at the foot of
the hill was a stock tank and it looked like it might go into it.
The thought was if it went into the tank, that we would drown. The
truth is we would probably have been dead before we ever reached the
tank. But we decided for safety sake (or something. I doubt if we
thought of it that way), to give it a trial run. Sammye and Little
Jack held the barrel until I could get down to the tank to stop it,
then they turned it loose. Well, we were right about it wanting to
go into the tank. It didn't, but I did. I stopped the barrel, but in
doing so it knocked out a tooth, broke one, loosened several, and
knocked me into that tank. By the way we realized after seeing that
barrel go down that hill that it wasn't a good idea to be in it.
That thing would hit a rock, flip into the air about fifty feet,
turn end over end and come back to earth with a big bang. There was
no way we could have survived a ride down in that thing.
After giving up on the barrel, we still wanted to take a ride down
that hill, we got to looking around and found an old steel cistern
up there (Already on top of the hill). Well RC, Little Jack and I
decided we could ride that thing down. We figured out that by
spreading our feet apart, putting our hands up and spread-eagle
fashion inside that cistern, that we could take a ride. We did. I
mean we really did!!!! We rocked that old cistern until we got it to
roll then took the ride of our lives. We lost our spread-eagle
position almost immediately and lost consciousness soon after. We
went down that hill at a high rate of speed and only on terra firma
only about half the time. Dad heard us coming and got outside just
in time to see that tin cistern come through the yard fence, through
the yard and out through another fence that went into a field. Of
course he didn't know that we were in that thing until it finally
stopped and we came crawling out. I can only imagine what he must
There were more rattlesnakes on that place then any place we ever
lived. I think Dad killed 25 or 30 that year just on our place. I
remember one that was the largest I believe that I've ever seen. Of
course I was small, so that may account for it. A creek that we
depended on for water for the livestock, dried up. Dad dug a well in
the bottom of the last hole . He got water at about six feet, (or it
seemed to me. I know it was deep enough that Dad had to have a small
ladder to get in and out.) Anyway, we went down to get water for the
cows and horses and there was a big rattler in the hole. Dad got a
fence post to kill it with and that snake was big enough that it
could put its head out on the bank or what ever you would call it.
Dad hit that snake on his head several times before he killed it. We
pieced the rattlers together with others and came up with 27
buttons. He must have been a great-great- granddaddy.
One time, there all of us kids and Dad came down with the measles
all at the same time. Mother and Uncle were the only ones that
didn't have them. Grandma came out and stayed with us to help out,
and some of the neighbor women also came and helped. There were nine
of us in bed at the same time. Seven of us kids. Dad, and Uncle
(Uncle was in bed out of sympathy with us) One of the ladies that
was helping out came up with a CURE. Or at least it was supposed to
hurry up the breaking out period so we would get well sooner. It was
called Corn-Shuck Tea. They boiled corn shucks until it made a tea
them made us drink it real hot. Boy was that stuff awful to drink. I
don't know if it worked or not but I would have just as soon have
stayed in bed a few more days. While we were all down sick. Mother
and Grandma went to the garden to pick some vegetables. The garden
was about a quarter of a mile from the house. Well Mother stepped
over a vine and an old rattler hit her on the ankle. She didn't have
a knife to cut the fang holes open with, so tried to use the hoe.
The Dr said it was lucky it was dull as she probably would have
gotten blood poison if she had cut it. Well she tied her bonnet
strings around her leg to slow the circulation down and hit out for
the house. About halfway she came by where one of the neighbor boys
was plowing and told him to go call the Dr. She said that boy
dropped the plow lines and took off at full speed, jumping a fence
and a big wooden gate on the way. Mother was real calm win she
arrived at the house, but the rest of us wasn't. I know in all of
the excitement, that I got out of bed and met the Dr at the gate. He
made me get on the running board (fender to you youngins) and chewed
me out good for being out of bed. One of the neighbor boys named
Regan came to the house before the Dr. got there and made Mother sit
down. He cut an X over both of the fang marks and used his hands to
force the blood back down and out of the cuts. He would put his
hands around Mothers leg just below the knee and strip down her leg
to near the cut. The Dr said that he forced most of the poison out
that way. You know they say when it rains, it pours and that was one
time we were really flooded. Seem like ever thing happened at one
Sammye used to walk in her sleep. Well one night real late Dad heard
her crying and found her at the barn. She was coming from down the
road that led to our garden. We had no way of knowing how far she
had been or if she might have gone all the way to the garden. The
reason she was crying was that she had bumped into a post at the
barn and woke her up.
As I've said before I was always getting into trouble about
something or the other. One time RC and one of the Jones boys his
age got after another boy and I and ran us up into the hayloft
throwing corncobs at us. The only corncobs we had to fight back with
were the ones they threw at us. I leaned over the edge of that loft
and threw one at them. The only thing I could see was their feet.
Well that old corncob flew true to the mark and hit that Jones boy
in the eye. I got a whipping for that although I didn't know why.
Another time we were coming back from school and I got into an
argument with the sister of that boy. She was in her teens. She took
a swing at me and someway her finger got into my mouth and I clamped
down. RC and Matie Day even picked me up by my feet trying to shake
me loose. I almost bit her finger off before they got me loose.
There was an old man that lived in that part of the country who wore
his hair long, had a beard, and when he was at home, he wore two
forty-fives belted on. He wore cowboy clothes, boots and spurs,
although I don't remember ever seeing him on a horse. He kept a live
rattlesnake in a five gallon can in the front yard. Every one in the
area claimed that he was an old outlaw. Dad said that ever so often
the law would lock him up for some reason or another and he would
write a check on a bank in Mexico. Every time it would be on a
different bank. The judge would call to find out if it was any good
and before they could tell the banker how much the check was for,
the banker would say "It's good." When we were there a time or too
he would show us the inside of his house. It was built of rock, and
he slept in the room that had the only outside door. He had two big
mean dogs tied up to where no one could get through that door
without those dogs getting to them. This old man had those dogs on
chains and the chains were tied to a bar with a crank that he could
wind up and pull those dogs back to where we could get in. He
evidently slept in his spurs as the foot of his bed was so torn up
that it looked like he had cut it with a knife. Uncle Jack told me
that when that old man died, that people went out there and tore
that house down until there was not one stone left standing. Looking
for money I guess. He was real fascinating to listen to. Knew all
kinds of interesting stories. His name was John Messenger. That old
man had his house fixed up with tin cans tied on strings and if you
bumped into one of them the whole house would rattle with all those
cans banging together. I really don't know just how he had them
fixed, but it was some booby trap.
Naturally, at that time I didn't know anything about science, but I
was real curious about something I saw and heard. Where we went to
school, our neighbor, Mr. Jones, cut wood in the winter time and he
would be cutting some distance from the school, but still in view. I
guess it was at recess or lunch that I first noticed this curious
thing. I could see the ax strike, but it would be a while before I
would hear the sound. I puzzled over that for a long time and never
did come to a workable solution. Ha. I found out that the closer
that I was to him the quicker the sound would get there and the
further I got from him the longer it took. Oh well maybe some time I
will learn that sound doesn't travel at the speed of light
I realize that a lot of this has been about fighting. Well when I
was going to school we did a lot of fist fighting. Ha. Every time
you went into a new school, you had to fight to find out where you
stood in the pecking order. Every new boy your age that started to
school came in knowing this was the way it was and he was ready to
take on all comers until he found one he couldn't whip. We where not
fighting all of the time. We stopped now and then to have a little
One time on the Lacy place, one of our neighbors came by and took me
with him to check on his goats. Those things stayed up on top of the
mountain in some real heavy brush (called Buck Brush). Well he was
on a regular size horse, and I was riding a little Shetland pony. He
could just see over the top of the brush and keep up with where we
were. All I could see was brush all around me. I would get lost ever
so often and have to holler for help. He would stop and wait until I
could find my way out to him, then on we would go. I was scratched
all over when I got home that night. A hungry, tired little boy. But
I still remember it as a high point of my young life.
When we got ready to move from there to Wortham, Uncle Abner,
Corbet, Aubrey and a young man that was living with them came out to
help move us. Dad still had one of the T-models that wasn't running
and he left it with Uncle Jack. Those boys hooked a team of horses
up to that car and you never heard so much going on. Ever one they
saw, they would whoop and holler at them. They really had a ball..
I must have been about ten when we moved to Wortham. A real shy,
bashful kid with a inferoity complex as big as a house. ...........
Tackitt Family - (View
Hallie and Sam Tackitt - (View
Sam Tackitt & Johnnie with Mules - (View
Lometa Texas - (View Full Size)