Well, I’m happy to know that Mr. Griffin came along and you and your buddy had a change of heart and you didn’t start down “That Long Highway,” like Clyde Barrow. I will have to say that I never really had to deal with such a situation. While growing up in Schulenburg, my brothers and I were never really punished frequently. Maybe I should mention here that my dad was a veterinarian and my mom a schoolteacher. Dad had graduated high school at age 16 and had received his doctoral degree by age 21. I was born in Corpus Christi in 1949 while my dad was finishing veterinary school at A&M and my first home was in College Station.
I guess I could count on a hand and a half the whoopings I received while growing up. But when we were punished, it was not a little play-like punishment it was the real thing. Generally, there were never more than 3-4 licks, but they raised whelps. It was a long process. First there was a discussion about what I, or we, (usually we) had done, (or not done) and what we should have done. Then we were sent to our room to think about it for some time, often close to an hour. Then we were called out our room, and there was discussion and lecture, and then the “whooping.” “Bend over and grab your ankles,” is what we heard. “Don’t stick your hands back there, or you may get a finger broken.” As I said, usually only 3-4 licks, but they were the real thing. Then, it was back to your room for more cogitation. After that, it was over and not mentioned again. I think that this long process, 2-3 hours, prevented our parents from ever striking us in anger. They did mean to make an impression, though; and we never made the same mistake twice. We might get another whooping in the next year or so, but it was never for the same thing. We knew better than that. Maybe my dad’s drive and ambition (a doctoral degree at age 21 is fairly impressive) plus the lessons that many learned growing up in the Great Depression had some effect of influence on his sternness.
Another thing that I guess I should mention is that we never lived more than a few blocks away from the church. We were usually there for Sunday School, Sunday morning services, and for Sunday evening services, and then on Wednesday nights for Prayer Meeting. My mom was not the usual pianist at church, but it was not uncommon for her be the substitute. One of my favorite memories of childhood is the late afternoons, after my mom had gotten dinner started and she took a few minutes, maybe 15, for contemplation and prayer. She would sit at the piano and play the hymn, “Sweet Hour of Prayer.” She usually didn’t offer an oral prayer, but we all knew she was praying, and that often she was praying for us.
I never thought about stealing a wood burning stove, never crossed my mind. Probably mostly because I knew it was wrong, but also because I knew how heavy the suckers were. My grandfather had begun leasing 400 acres south of Military Mountain, near Camp Wood, Texas in the early 1950’s, for hunting. There was a little two-room shack on the place, and after hunting for a few years, my dad bought from H.P. Schaefer Hardware Store in Schulenburg, a four eye, wood burning cook stove to install in the place. It was a beauty; a firebox in the front, an oven with doors on either side for biscuits or cinnamon rolls, and plenty of room on top for frijoles, tortillas, chicken-fried steak, or fajitas. There was even a way to add a hot water tank, although we never purchased that addition. When folks buy short sticks of firewood, called barbeque nowadays, for their grills that have a firebox on the side, they are buying what we used to call stove wood, back in those days. It was usually my job, or that of one of my brothers, to take those short sticks of mesquite and split them into smaller (not shorter) pieces, so that they would catch and burn more readily. We didn’t mind it much, it wasn’t a difficult chore, and within a half an hour we would have enough split and in the box to last for at least a day.
By the time I was 12 or 13 years old, I was a big boy, about 5 feet, eight inches, and weighing about 180 lbs, and strong. (I kept thinking that I would grow taller, but I never did.) There came a time or two when we had change out the stovepipe, which necessitated a slight movement of that stove. That big stove must have weighed at least 200 pounds. So, I never stole a wood stove. Aside from the strict rearing, my previous experience with such a stove discouraged me from a life of crime with cast iron stoves.
Here is a photo of the shack, or cabin to which I earlier referred, a true Texas Hill Country goat herders shack. I took this photo in about 1966 using a Sears and Roebuck, Tower brand 35 mm. Camera. It had a focal plane shutter. The film was probably Kodak Plus X. The camera had no auto-features. I used a light meter and set film speed, f-stop, and shutter speed. I developed the film and made enlargements in a little dark room my dad and I had built onto the back of our garage in Schulenburg in about 1965.
Here is an interior picture from the same cabin. My dad, Dr. Robert Owen is on the right, and my uncle, Bobby Ray Younts, of Agua Dulce, is on the left. This picture was probably taken with a Kodak Instamatic, at about the same time as the previous picture.
Here is a wood-burning stove that is similar to the one we had in that wonderful, old shack. It’s not identical, but it is similar. Ours didn’t have the warming rack at the back of the stove, behind the hole for the stovepipe.