All along the banks
of Red River were little groves of wild plums, seeded by the flooding
of the river. When these plums were ripe, always by the Fourth of July,
they were like large rosy-red cherries. But they had a more luscious
taste than any domesticated fruit. Mother made such great jelly and
even greater jam from these plums, and the preserved jars lasted all
through the winter. One of Mothers favorite stories is about one
Fourth of July when the whole family drove to the other side of the
river to our very special plum patch. I was three, and this was my first
year to pick plums.
When my gallon-bucket was half full, I reached for a juicy plum just
where a wasp happened to be sitting. I let out a yell and spilled my
plums; my thumb hurt for quite a while.
A few years older, I had my first selling experience: going door-to-door
around our block selling gallon-cans of ripe plums to the neighbors
for 10 cents a gallon. That was a bargain, even in those days.
Besides being delicious, those plums were an important part of our familys
food supply, along with Daddys vegetable garden, milk from his
cow or his goat, and eggs from our chickens.
But it was Depression time; how were we going to buy the remaining supplies
from the grocery store, such as sugar for Mothers canning?
Well, there was an old-time family grocer in Sayre by the name of J.W.
Ivester, the type of person who helps make this world a nice place.
He trusted and respected Daddy as a friend. He let Daddy (and quite
a few others) run up grocery bills (Daddys was about $20 a month
for year after year). Daddy bought the bare minimum, nothing extravagant,
and of course eventually paid in full. J.W. Ivester saw our family through