A Disclaimer

I’m not called a farmer,
But with weather warmer,
I’ll go out and dig in the plat.
I’ll set out tomatoes
And plant some potatoes,
And no one will chide me for that.

But when I begin
To write what’s within
In rhythmic form on a page,
I’m sure there are those
Who will be disposed
To say, “He’s no poet or sage.”

I’m not called a poet.
I’m not, and I know it!
But tales about places and times
Are remembered best,
Though glibly expressed,
Through verses with meter and rhyme.

I’ll never attain
A fortune or fame.
As a bard I’ll find no employment.
I just write one line,
The second to rhyme,
Solely for my own enjoyment.

My English prof said
As a poem was read
That poetry spontaneously shows
Through pencil and pen
Of women and men
Who let powerful feelings o’erflow.

The Lord only knows
If only the pros
Were permitted to write poetry,
We’d all be the worse
Without simple verse
That’s written by dabblers like me.

Do, dear friend of mine,
If you are inclined
My simple, crude verses to spurn
And if you should be
A critic, feel free
To read Shakespeare, Shelley, and Burns!

Adams Apple Bush

Within the confines of our yard
When I was small, there grew
An Adam’s Apple Bush to guard
My passage into youth.

This common, ordinary bush
That “bent a twig” like me
Most definitely gave a push
That helped “incline the tree.”

When I’d ignore, or just forget
Instructions I’d received,
My mom would send me out to get
A switch, and paddle me.

I’d saunter out and take my time,
No reason I should rush.
I’d pick and choose until I’d find
The smallest on the bush.

Reluctantly I’d bring the switch
To Mom. As I would beg,
She’d take the limb and lightly switch
Between my two bare legs.

She never left the slightest bruise
That anyone could see.
No evidence of child abuse
Was ever found on me!

My only suffering was the whim
And guilt of being sent
Out to the bush to get a limb
For my own punishment!

When I’d rebel or disobey,
She’d never push or shove.
Each calculated move she made
Was tempered by her love.

I failed to understand or see
Whenever she’d explain
That when she had to punish me
Hers was the greater pain.

But later on as I became
Aware of self, I knew
Transgression’s not a private thing;
That others suffer too.

She, knowing my life’s journey would
Be difficult and long,
Determined to do all she could
To teach me right from wrong.

I thank the Lord for that old bush
That grew there by the tree,
And one who loved and cared enough
To use its limbs on me!

When She and I Played Ball

When Alice was a little girl
And I a little boy,
We didn’t have a lot of things
To play with and enjoy.

She didn’t have a lot of dolls
To clothe, and dress, and feed.
Nor I a lot of shiny toys,
And guns, and books to read.

But in the evening late and cool
When all our chores were done,
We’d get our homemade ball and bat
And have a heap of fun.

The ball was made of rags and strings,
A former pair of socks.
The bat was fashioned from a board
Torn from an apple box.

We had a set of special rules,
Each game we would agree
That home base was the front door step
And first base was the tree.

Another thing both understood
From our unwritten code,
It was an automatic out
To hit across the road.

We had to have some special rules,
The game to regulate,
For she was older by three years
And I was only eight.

One of the rules in every game
(And this is not the worst)
Was never cause for argument,
I always batted first.

The other rule was made by her,
She thought t’would be quite fun
To give me forty outs if I
Would give her only one.

I thought that sounded pretty good,
And stepped up with a shout,
But every time I’d hit the ball
Somehow she’d get me out.

It wasn’t long till all were gone,
I’d never get a hit.
As soon as forty outs were made
I’d get real mad and quit.

She’d pucker up her pretty face,
And pull her pretty hair,
And say, “You cheater, I’ll tell on you.
That’s not the least bit fair.”

I’ve seen a lot of ball games played
In big league and in small,
But never have I had such fun
As when we two played ball.

Big Brother

There is a reason, I am sure,
For all the things that come
To every little boy or girl
To help or mar their fun.

I know a boy has got to have
A daddy and a mother,
But honestly, I don’t see why
He needs an older brother.

Perhaps you think that I don’t know,
And you may not agree,
But let me tell you of some things
My elder did to me.

One day while we were left alone,
He thought t’would be quite grand
To burn upon my little leg
Some famous cattle brand.

He took a piece of heavy wire
And, much to my distress,
He shaped a brand and called the thing
A Crooked Lazy S.

He built a fire to heat the brand
And got his lasso down.
Then, like a veteran of the trail,
He tied me on the ground.

I cried and bawled and bleated,
I besought him with a beg.
“Oh, please don’t put that red hot iron
On my poor little leg.”

I fought and cried, I kicked and yelled,
Yet all my pleas he spurned.
He stuck that brander to my leg
And watched me as I burned.

Of all the things I’ve ever thought,
Just one will do to say:
“He did a fairly permanent job;
I bear that brand today.”

One day he found an old horseshoe
And said, “Here’s what we’ll do.
We’ll tie it on the clothesline and
I’ll send it down to you.”

“I’ll stand at one end of the line
And you stand at the other.”
I did, because I thought that I
Could trust my older brother.

I’m sure I did just what he said
For, as I stood in wait,
He hurled the horseshoe down the line
And hit me on the pate.

It knocked me down; I writhed in pain.
“I’m sorry,” brother said,
“I didn’t mean to hit so hard,
Especially on the head.”

They rushed me off to Dr. Speer,
Who laid me on a bed
And got his needle out and took
Three stitches in my head.

I know that when I come to die,
If near or if it’s far,
Upon the left side of my dome
I’ll bear that ugly scar.

And when I’m dead and in my box
And he comes marching by,
I hope he’ll see how mean he was
And cry, and cry, and cry.

(Hal’s version of the story.)

Memories of the Thirties

Stop the clock this very minute!
Turn it back. Don’t let it run!
Turn it backward to our childhood,
To the years when we were young.

Leave the present for a moment
While we visit yesterday.
We’re just going for a visit,
Wouldn’t want to go and stay!

We may solve some deep, dark mysteries,
We may shed a tear or two,
We may even find some humor,
In these things we used to do:

Gather eggs and feed the chickens.
Draw some water for the cow.
Feed the mules and mend the harness.
Take the slop out to the sow.

Take the bed off of the wagon.
Leave the running gear intact.
Take it out to the crosstimber.
Cut some trees and bring them back.

Put the tree trunks on the sawbuck.
Pull the crosscut to and fro.
Cut it up in little pieces
That will fit into the stove.

Bring in fire wood. Gather kindling.
Gather twigs, and chips, and sticks.
Bring in coal oil for the cook stove.
Fill the lamps and trim the wicks.

Spade the garden, plant potatoes,
Onions, okra, peas, and corn.
Rake the yard and grease the wagon.
Mend the fence. Clean out the barn.

Sharpen knives, and hoes, and plowshares.
Plow the ground and plant the seed.
Chop the grass out of the cotton.
Hoe the corn and pull the weeds.

When the green corn stalk turns golden,
And the ear is filled with corn,
Pull it off and fill the wagon.
Scoop it off into the barn.

Using corn instead of money,
Playing poker. Just a game.
Lose your corn and get your butt whipped.
One hard lash for each lost grain!

Draw some water. Fill a wash tub,
Leave it setting for a spell.
In the privacy of darkness,
Take a bath out by the well.

Seldom ever see a doctor.
Wounds will heal without a stitch.
Turpentine will stop a bad cough.
Grease and sulfur cure the itch.

Kill a hog and slice the loin,
Cut the bacon, salt it down.
Build a fire out in the smokehouse.
Cure the sausage and the hams.

Put the fat meat in the washpot,
Boil it ’til the crackling’s red.
Pour the lard into the lard can.
Put some cracklings in the bread.

Weekly wash day. Get the lye soap.
Fill the washtubs on the bench.
Scrub the clothes upon the rub board.
Put some bluing in the rinse.

The long hot Summer Day is dying.
Twilight falls, and night birds sound.
Children running, laughing, playing;
Grown folks gathered all around.

Pull the bow across the fiddle,
Gently strum the guitar strings.
Happy time out in the country,
We’re about to pick and sing!

Pull the binder ‘neath the shade tree.
Work on it ’til it will bind.
Grease the axles, chains, and sprockets.
Fix the knotter, thread the twine.

Catch the mules and hitch them to it.
Take it out into the field.
Trip the gear, engage the bullwheel.
Move the sickle, turn the reel.

Cut the oats and tie the bundles,
Leave them laying in a pile.
Set them up and make a big shock.
Sit down by it! Rest awhile!

Can’t rest long! The thrasher’s coming.
Hear it puffing down the lane?
Coming here to thrash our oat crop,
Separate the straw from grain.

Run and get the bundle wagon!
Stack the bundles high, and then
Pull it up there by the thrasher,
Pick ’em up and throw ’em in.

Watch the thrasher separate ’em
Blowing straw into a stack!
Watch the auger send the oats down
Through the pipe into the sack.

When the cotton bolls burst open,
Cotton’s hanging all around,
Get down on your knees and pick it!
Sack it up and shake it down!

Throw the sack across your shoulder.
Go and weigh it on the scales.
Empty it into the wagon
‘Til you’ve picked a cotton bale!

Knees are sore, and red, and swollen!
Back is hurting, stiff, and sore!
Neck’s sunblistered, fingers bleeding,
Got to go and pick some more!

Put the ridge pole on the wagon
If a cloud is in the sky.
Stretch the wagonsheet across it.
Got to keep that cotton dry!

Hitch the team up to the wagon.
Tramp the cotton. Pack it down.
Go now! Take that bale of cotton
To the cotton gin in town.

Hay is cut and raked, and ready,
Hay press setting on the ground.
Buck rake coming with a big load,
Mule is going round and round.

Pitch the hay upon the hay press.
Pack it down into the trough.
Press it, block it, punch the wires through;
Tie the bale and drag it off.

The decade of the thirties came
And left a great impression
Indelibly upon our minds.
‘Twas called the Great Depression.

Please don’t think that I’m complaining
About the places I have been.
Just recording recollections
Of the way it was back then!

Old Jess, and Mack, and Tige

In nineteen thirty I was six,
And started off to school.
A crude book satchel on my back,
With tablet, pen, and rule.

A satchel Mom had made for me
To carry on my back,
Designed by her and fashioned from
A worn out cotton sack.

This Bois D’Arc School had two class rooms,
Two teachers, grades through eight.
‘Twas here that kids from all around
Were sent to educate.

The day I started off to school
With scissors, lunch, and chalk,
I never asked how I’d get there,
I knew! I’d run or walk!

Along the road I had to go
And either walk or jog,
Three families, Weaver, Walker, Wells,
Kept three old ugly dogs!

Three troubled spots along the way
From home to school and back;
Three sturdy, ugly, pitt bull dogs
Named Jess, and Tige, and Mack!

Now Jess was white, and Mack and Tige
Were brindle, tan and gold.
Regardless of their color, each
Struck terror in my soul!

I couldn’t sneak past either one
As hard as I would try.
I’d tiptoe, hold my breath, and pray
That those old dogs had died!

They’d bark and howl, and snort and growl,
I even felt their breath!
They’d show their teeth and run at me,
And scare me half to death!

All day at school my mind was fixed
Upon my journey back.
I knew for sure I’d have to pass
Old Jess, and Tige, and Mack!

I couldn’t concentrate on books,
I couldn’t spell or write.
My brain was burdened with one thought:
“Today, that dog will bite.”

Exhausted, I’d retire at night
And lie down on my side.
All night I’d toss and turn, and run
From Jess, and Mack, and Tige!

They’d run out at me every day
And I would have a fit!
Although encountered twice each day,
I never once got bit.

I have no scars upon my legs
To validate this truth.
But my emotions bear the marks
Of tusk, and fang, and tooth!

A pattern that has followed me
Until this very date
Concerns my inability
To read and concentrate.

I’ll read a book or magazine
As I recline in bed,
Then when I lay the book aside,
I don’t know what I’ve read!

I’ve analyzed this problem and
I think I’ve traced it back
To when I first learned how to read,
While thinking of old Mack!

I had trouble with First Reader,
Although I did my best.
As I would read about old Spot,
I’d think about old Jess!

I’d try to read before the class.
I’d stammer! They would chide!
How little did they know, my mind
Was down the road with Tige.

My education’s faulty, and
My knowledge incomplete.
I can’t diagram a sentence.
I don’t know the parts of speech.

I’m not very good with numbers.
No money in the bank!
I know for sure! I’m positive!
I have those dogs to thank!

When I feel sorry for myself,
And think of where I’ve been,
Can’t blame the great depression for
The shape that I am in!

I rather think I’ve found the cause,
As I go looking back.
My only nemeses in life
Were Jess, and Tige, and Mack!

Memories of My Mom and Dad

Born in a simple, modest house,
A three room clapboard shack,
With two small rooms across the front,
A lean-to on the back.

Born to a couple strong as steel,
Whose strength came from above,
Pledged to each other, and their God,
To rear their kids with love.

To Frank and Winnie, I was born,
Back in the days of yore,
On February twenty nine
In nineteen twenty four.

Now in this crowded domicile
Lived Mom and Dad, and me,
With Harry, Howard, Chester, Hal,
And little Alice Marie.

This house had been my parents’ home,
With every rising sun,
Since nineteen eleven, when they were wed,
On January one.

The eight of us existed here
Within this crowded state
Until my first real birthday passed,
In nineteen twenty eight.

‘Twas then we moved into a house
A few yards down the road.
No better, but a little bit
More spacious than the old.

This house, a little larger, but
As I recall the facts,
It had one extra added room;
Two leaned against the back.

Here on this place Dad started out,
And worked from sun to sun
On rented land sharecropping, as
His Dad before had done.

Plowing, planting, chopping, picking
The cotton, corn, and grain,
Fighting grass, and weeds, and insects,
Too much or little rain.

Taking only that which sprouted
And grew there in the sod.
His hand securely to the plow,
His faith and trust in God!

From Monday Morn through Saturday
He took care of his work.
On the Sabbath Day, he rested,
And took us all to church.

My Dad was all a Dad should be.
The leader of his clan.
Assumed responsibilities
Belonging to a man.

His hand was firm, but always kind.
His word possessed a clout.
He often was in error, but
He never was in doubt!

His days were spent around the farm.
The habit of his life.
His nights were always spent at home
With children and his wife.

My Mom was kind and gentle, and
Unusually adept
At teaching love and kindness by
Example and precept.

She had six kids to care for, born
In thirteen years of time.
Her first she bore at seventeen,
Her last at twenty nine.

Untrained, uneducated, with
A reverence for life.
She only prayed that she might be
A mother and a wife.

A lot of things she didn’t know.
Some things she could not be.
But she is in my Hall of Fame
For all she did for me!

In this old house I learned about
Life’s blessings, joys, and gains.
In this house I was introduced
To sadness, death, and pain.

From early on I learned to run
To Mom when I was scared,
And seek the refuge of her arms,
Because I knew she cared!

If I was wounded, hurt, or sick,
Or bruised, or cut, or sprained,
I knew if I could get to Mom,
She’d make me well again!

We didn’t have a lot of things,
But we were blessed indeed!
Though variety was lacking,
We had enough to eat.

There always was a guiding force
By which our home was graced.
A powerful, invisible,
A force that we call FAITH!

Another force that blessed our clan,
As through the years we groped,
A simple, yet a mighty force.
A force that we call HOPE!

One other constant resident
Came surely from above.
That was, without a single doubt,
The best of all, called LOVE!

For decades now, they’ve both been dead.
Their smiles and voices gone.
But the aura of my Mom and Dad,
Goes on, and on, and on!

They’re here today, they’ll always stay.
I know the reason why!
Because, you see, they’ll live in me,
Until the day I die!

The Girl on the Stair

My High School senior year had just begun.
I was a lad of half past seventeen.
The year was Nineteen Hundred Forty One.
The lovely girl I’d meet was named CHRISTINE.

I saw her standing on the stair alone,
At least of others I was unaware.
A mystic essence ’round her being shone.
None other had I ever seen so fair!

I stood in awe and stared, my mouth agape,
As one who saw a vision near divine.
My heart began to wildly palpitate;
Possessed and captivated, lost in time.

Enthralled and charmed by beauty seldom seen,
A scene imprinted on my mind for life;
I saw the regal splendor of a queen
Predestined, foreordained to be my wife.

Her lengthy dark curls cast a brilliant sheen!
Her brown eyes sparkled like the morning dew!
Her ruby lips with pearls of white between,
Accentuated by her olive hue!

I sought at once her favor to incur.
She didn’t seem to notice for awhile.
Then deep within my being something stirred,
When first I saw her look at me and smile.

The time we spent together was serene!
A kindred spirit bound us from the start.
We realized we held a common dream.
We shared the love we felt within our hearts.

On April Sixteen, Nineteen Forty Two
We pledged our love throughout eternity.
We stood with right hands joined and said, “I do,”
On March Ninth, Nineteen Hundred Forty Three.

Now more than fifty years have slipped away!
The ravages of time have claimed a toll.
Her hair is now a lovely silver gray.
Together, side by side, we’ve both grown old.

But still, I see her as she was back then.
She is and ever shall be just as fair,
As radiant and beautiful as when
I first beheld her standing on the stair!

Fishing With John

There’s something magic in the time
A man spends with his son,
Establishing relationships
While both of them are young.

I treasure every moment spent,
The memory brings me joy,
Of going camping in the woods
And fishing with my boy.

We’d head out West and we would drive
As fast as we could go
Until we reached the mountain peaks
Of North New Mexico.

We seldom ever took a tent
Or pots and pans and such.
Our bed, a mattress in the back
Of our old pickup truck.

We’d camp at Taos or Eagle Nest,
Red River and Raton,
Or at the lake near Springer,
Ute Park and Cimarron.

We didn’t have a lot of chores
While camped out by a stream.
We feasted on potato chips,
Hamburgers, and ice cream.

We never had a dish to wash.
No clean-up was required.
We ate our food from paper plates,
Then threw them in the fire.

We’d stop and read the markers that
We found along the way
About Black Jack Ketchum’s hanging
And Billy the Kid’s grave.

About a man named Packer, who
Ate human flesh, they say,
To survive a cold, long winter
Back in the early days.

The trails were marked where real cowboys,
On mammoth cattle drives,
Drove a thousand head of cattle
Back when the West was wild.

We’d cross the Colorado line
And camp near Cripple Creek,
Or at Lake City, in full view
Of Uncompahgre Peak.

By day we’d wade the mountain streams
And catch a trout or two,
Worn out and wet, get back to camp
Just as the day was through.

I saw the marvel of tall trees
That seemed to touch the skies,
The mystery of high mountain peaks
Reflected in his eyes.

Success was never measured by
How many fish we’d take
Back to our camp, but by the rocks
We skipped across the lake.

By night we’d sit around the fire
And cook the fish we caught,
Exaggerate their size and talk
About how hard they fought.

About the deer we saw along
The trail we walked that day,
The little fish we caught and how
The big ones got away!

The flickering fire, the failing flame,
The glowing embers red
Reminded us that day was done
And time to go to bed.

We’d climb up in the pickup truck
And sleep and dream, and when
The morning sun lit up the sky
We’d do it all again!

Now in the Autumn of my life
With Spring and Summer spent,
I think about our fishing trips,
And I’m so glad we went.

My sympathy is with the man
Whose race is almost run,
Who has no memories about
Going fishing with his son.

When Susan Lost Her Purse

We lived in a small Texas town
Back in our younger days,
Where the major shopping center
Was eighty miles away.

Occasionally we would plan,
When we would need to go,
To take the family to the park
Or to a picture show.

I vividly recall one time,
I still can feel the pain,
That after shopping we had planned
To see a baseball game.

Soon after we had left the mall
Where we had shopped at first,
I heard my daughter, Susan, say,
“Hey Dad! I’ve lost my purse.”

Unsympathetic, I replied
With voice designed to sting,
“Once you have learned their value, Dear,
You’ll not be losing things.”

Incessantly I talked about
The value, price, and cost.
Interminably I raved on
About the purse she lost.

No doubt she felt the guilt and pain
That my tirade produced,
But bore her feelings silently
And offered no excuse.

Not once did it occur to me
About how much it hurt
A little girl to realize
That she had lost her purse.

No sooner had we reached the park
And settled in our seats,
To my chagrain, I learned that I
Had lost my set of keys.

I was reluctant to announce
The foolish thing I’d done.
As I sat pondering my fate,
The umpire yelled, “Strike one!”

No need for me to wait for him
Strike two and three to shout.
No arbiter was needed to
Tell me that I’d struck out!

My first reaction to my state
Was not the price or cost,
But how impatient I had been
With Susan in her loss.

She took the blame for what she did;
No offer to rebut.
Perspective changes when the shoe
Is on the other foot!

My recent words came roaring back
Condemning what I’d done.
I had no keys to start my car
At night, far, far from home.

I finally said, “I’ve lost my keys!”
I could no longer wait.
I looked at Susan and beheld
A smile upon her face!

A smile that vividly rehearsed
The words of my refrain,
“Once you have learned their value, Dad,
You’ll not be losing things!”

She sat there silently and smiled.
To speak there was no need,
For I knew she knew that I knew
My act had set her free!

She didn’t rant and rave at me
Or wring her hands and pace,
But loudly sent a message by
The smile upon her face.

The P. A. system squawked and popped
And made a mournful sound.
Then someone said, to my relief,
“Some car keys have been found.”

The journey back was very quiet,
Not much left to be said.
The moment we arrived at home,
Miss Susan went to bed.

Still plagued with guilt, I tiptoed in
To tell her that I cared.
She was asleep, but on her face,
A smile still lingered there!

Preacher’s Pay

Four little boys were heard one day,
While they were ardently at play,
Discussing in their childlike way
Whose father drew the biggest pay.

The banker’s boy said, “I declare
My daddy is a millionaire.
Your dads with him will not compare.
This is the truth. It is, I swear!”

Another boy said, with effect,
“My daddy is an architect.
A thousand dollars, I suspect,
Most every day he will collect.”

The doctor’s boy said, with accent,
“You’d think my daddy owned a mint,”
And said, to help his argument,
“He makes a lot by accident.”

The preacher’s son said, “I submit
My daddy makes no little bit.
On Sunday morning, you’ll admit
It takes six men to carry it.”

The Preacher and the Cat

This quaint episode
Is a true story told
By one who was present the day
And old cat came to church
And the matter made worse
By efforts to drive him away.

In September’s warm weather
The church folks had gathered
For services one Sunday Morn.
The church bell was ringing,
The song leader singing,
And leading the people along.

The preacher expounded
The Word, as he pounded
The pulpit, with high expectation
That the sermon he preached
The people would reach,
And affect the whole congregation.

The commotion began
When an old cat came in
Through a door left open for air.
His tail he would wiggle,
And children would giggle.
In general he caused quite a stir.

The young preacher, devout,
Said, “I’ll get him out.”
He sprang from the chair where he sat.
All heads started spinning,
The kids were still grinning,
As the preacher took after the cat.

The man said to his wife,
“I’ve not once in my life
Beheld a commotion like that.
There’ll be no more teaching,
Or singing, or preaching,
If he happens to catch that old cat!

The old cat was wild
And he ran down the aisle
As the organist played a soft tune.
He ran under her seat,
She raised both hands and feet
And shouted, “I thought ’twas a coon.”

The wild chase was soon o’er
When the cat found the door
Through which he had entered at first.
But folks still remember
That day in September
When the cat was chased out of the church.

Skin Deep

An auto’s made from many parts
By those who have attained the art
Of forming an assembly line
And adding one part at a time.

They make the body, wheels, and frame.
Without the paint they look the same,
And after pigment is applied,
They’re still identical inside.

The auto maker has the right
To paint one black, another white,
Or any color that he deems
To be appropriate in between.

If the consumer had to make
A choice about the car he’d take
Before the craftsman adds the color,
Each one would look just like the other.

Our first concern is how it runs
And how much gas and oil it burns,
The ease and comfort of the ride,
Not solely how it looks outside.

Then why do we make such a fuss
When God omnipotent made us
With multicolored outer skin,
But made us all the same within?

Down underneath the thin veneer
Is joy, laughter, love, and care,
With vanity, hate, and deceit
Each struggling to be released.

Volition to each man belongs
To choose between what’s right and wrong.
Each individual must decree
What kind of person he will be.

Each is the captain of his fate,
The product of decisions made,
And should be judged as bad or good
By who he is, not how he looks!

Source of Trouble

Some folk are greatly troubled
With their monthly doctor bill.
Some folk are always troubled
‘Cause their family’s always ill.

You can hear a woeful story
From the man who can’t find work,
And likewise from the fellow
Who has duties he can’t shirk.

There are those who can’t go fishin’,
There are those who can’t play ball.
There are those who can’t go swimmin’,
Can’t do anything at all.

You can find a man who’s bitter
‘Cause his anniversary’s nigh,
And constantly complainin’
‘Cause a gift he has to buy.

There are those who do not like it
If the sun each day doth shine,
There are those who do not like it
If it’s rainin’ all the time.

The grocer doesn’t like it
If the price of food is down.
But not so with the consumer,
It’s the other way around.

There are those who do not like it
If the weather’s dry, you bet.
There are those who do not like it
If the weather’s always wet.

There are many, many reasons
Why a man will sit and growl,
But my main source of trouble
Is my elder brother, Hal.

I don’t do a lot of gripin’
If my cupboard I find bare.
I don’t sit around and worry
‘Cause my clothes ain’t fit to wear.

It constitutes no problem
If I can’t afford a hat,
Or if my socks are toeless,
‘Cause people can’t see that.

Then I ask myself the question:
“What’s wrong with you, old Pal?”
I answer, “I’d be happy
If I’d only hear from Hal.”

The Saga of Old Hal

Long have I waited for the time
When opportunity I’d find
The story of old Hal to trace
Through some of his eventful days.

Now this, I vow, is not a lie
And my endeavors are to try
To keep my composition free
From all untruth and heresy.


Part 1: The Bicycle

When Hal was just a little tot
He was far from the common lot.
It seemed that he could find no joy
In things that pleased the other boy.

I’m sure that this will bring remorse,
But once old Hal possessed a horse.
Religiously twice every day
He’d water her and give her hay.

One day, while thinking of his steed,
Said he, “She eats a lot of feed.
My other bills then I could meet
If my conveyance did not eat!”

So on he thought on this same track;
He thought it through, then thought it back.
“I’ll sell my horse,” said he, “and hike;
Or better still, I’ll get a bike.”

So ’round the countryside he drug
In search of one who’d buy his plug.
That one he found and soon agreed
To take the bike and leave the steed.

Now, unprepared for what it’s like
To tour the country on a bike,
Hal pedaled over hill and vale
Until his strength began to fail.

With every ounce of vigor gone,
He simply couldn’t pedal on.
He stopped to rest beside a bush
And then commenced his homeward push.

With every step his burden grew,
And he began to sadly rue
The trade on which he had agreed;
He yearned to ride his faithful steed.

At last he reached the old homestead
And parked the bike within the shed.
His body ached, remembering
Each mile he’d pushed the hated thing.

Now, unbeknownst to Hal and me,
Our dad had bought a Model T.
As Hal collapsed upon the ground,
The proud new owner drove from town.

But Papa hadn’t formed a plan
On how to stop or where to land
So, as the shed came into sight,
He didn’t recognize his plight.

He confidently hollered “WHOA!”
But his new buggy didn’t slow.
On through the shed the Ford careened
And smashed Hal’s bike to smithereens!


I’ll leave this story for a spell,
For better things I have to tell.
I’ll tell about an episode
That happened on a mule he rode.


Part 2: The Buckaroo

One day he said, “Doggoned my hide,
I think I’ll take a little ride.”
He got his rope and hat and spur,
And caught the mule and saddled her.

Before he left to me he said,
“My lily cheeks will turn bright red.
Shame and disgrace will come my way
If I don’t make a catch today.”

He climbed aboard, I swung the gate,
And down the road he went in haste.
Along the road were posts that hence
Supported wire to make a fence.

Now to the saddle horn was tied
One end of rope, and by his side
He held the other unattached,
In preparation for the catch.

Before he reached the bois d’arc tree
He turned around and cried to me,
“I’m comin’ in, but don’t you fret,
I’ll make a catch of somethin’ yet!”

The mule with speed came down the track;
Her tail was high, her ears were back.
The leather creaked, the metal rung,
The stirrups clanged, the lasso sung.

Old Hal stuck tight just like a vet,
With naught to snare in sight as yet.
The mule had surely smelled the corn,
For she was headin’ for the barn.

Now just before they reached the place
Where Hal would meet with much disgrace,
He closed his eyes and threw his rope;
His last resort, his only hope.

The loop came open with much grace
And elegantly reached the place
That once the wire had occupied,
And caught a post on all four sides.

His rope now tied at either end,
Oh what a fix old Hal was in!
The mule was headin’ for her stall,
But Hal was headin’ for a fall.

And when it came, oh dreadful day,
Hal and the mule went separate ways.
The mule went on as she had planned,
But Hal went down into the sand.

He laid there for a little while,
Then looked at me and sorta smiled.

And then I thought I heard him say,
“I’ve been a cowboy many a day.
While bustin’ broncos, I’ve been thrown
So high that birds built on my dome.”

“I’ve handled steers of every kind,
The roughest, toughest you can find.
The Brahma, Longhorned, Shorthorned stuff,
I”ve thrown ’em down and tied ’em up.”

“So, from my story you can see,
I have not lived a life of ease.
Although I’ve borne my share of pain,
I have not been one to complain.”

“Now, I must answer to the cry
That’s comin’ to me from on high.
I faintly hear the angels sing;
Alas, the bells begin to ring.”

“Today the Lord has called me home;
No more the open range I’ll roam.
My one regret is this, I say:
I wish He’d called me yesterday!”

In Reverse

Old Hal and I went out one day,
A round of golf we thought we’d play.
They tell us golf’s a summer game,
But we play winters just the same.

Clubs were selected, balls washed white,
Tees in hand, things just right.
We both did very well, I think,
Until we came to cross the drink.

Since I was leading, I shot first
And hit the ball a mighty burst.
I hit it straight and hit it hard;
It must have gone three hundred yards!

Hal said, “I guess that’s pretty good,
But I don’t think I’ll use a wood.”
He said, “My boy, I am inclined
To try my luck with number nine.”

“On second thought,” I heard him mutter,
“I’ll cross that water with my putter!”
He took the club and I stood by;
He teed the ball up nice and high.

His feet were planted, eyes were set;
“I’ll get across that creek, I’ll bet.”
“A hole in one!” I heard him say,
And heard the ball splash in the bay.

He set his teeth, his face turned red;
He stomped the ground and shook his head;
And in the anger of the spree
He wrapped his putter ’round a tree.

Five-hundred-ninety yards and three,
He used a putter from the tee.
And this I vow, for I have seen
Him use a driver on the green!

My Dog

I found a big old ugly pup
That looked just like a pony.
I brought her home and penned her up
And named her Mackie Roney.

I noticed that her teeth weren’t long
And pointed like a hound’s,
However, all her teeth were strong
But kinda flat and round.

Along her neck she grew some hair
Much longer than the other.
Her bushy tail was slightly flared
And of a different color.

I never heard her growl one time,
But once or twice each day
What should have been a bark or whine
Turned out to be a neigh.

She didn’t seem to be content
And often would be found
Just walking ’round and ’round her pen
And pawing on the ground.

I found another ugly cur
Which seemed to bring her joy,
A dog identical to her
Except he was a boy.

My choice of food they wouldn’t eat.
Dog food was left alone.
They had no appetite for meat
Nor would they gnaw a bone.

They chewed on every plant that grew
And kept the grass clipped down.
It wasn’t long before the two
Had each lost thirty pounds.

I put them out under a shed,
It was a winter day,
And made them each a warm dry bed
Of grass, and straw, and hay.

To my surprise, next morn I found
When I went to the shed,
They both were lying on the ground
And eatin’ on their bed.

I gave them corn, and oats, and hay
And water in a tub.
I fed them two times every day
Till they got fat as mud.

Through Winter, Summer, Fall, and Spring
Those dogs would run and play.
They wouldn’t eat a single thing
But corn, and oats, and hay.

In early Fall, I went one morn
To fill the feed trough up.
I was amazed, there in the barn
Old Mackie had a pup.

The puppy’s mane and tail were black,
The rest of her was brown.
She had a long stripe down her back,
Her feet were hard and round.

The puppy’s hair was fine as silk.
I named my new friend “Flicka,”
Changed mama’s name to “Buttermilk,”
And named the daddy “Trigger.”