Depression Days

The Great Depression struck in the 1930s. One day during the Depression, Daddy was crossing the street when he met a fellow looking very down on his luck. “Say, Mister, could you spare a nickel for a cup of coffee?” he asked. “That’s just what I’ve been looking for,” said Dad, fingering the small amount of change that he had in his pocket. The man’s expression changed immediately to one of sympathetic understanding and he said, “It’s hell, isn’t it, buddy?” Good old Daddy immediately pulled out a dime and said, “Let’s go.”

The worst part about the Depression was no one ever knew when it would end; or, if, in fact, it would get worse. During the ‘30s, Daddy survived by being very frugal—growing his own garden, always keeping a cow or goat and chickens. He was one of the few men in town with such animals, but no one resented that. In fact, the neighbors bought the surplus milk and eggs. An occasional oil lease commission would provide the family with the necessities. Once, when the electricity was cut off by the utility company, the family resorted to using candles until the bill could be paid.

During the Depression, Daddy, who had worked at many trades and knew how to run his own business, thought of many a business opportunity—all the way from artesian well irrigation in New Mexico to a tourist court along what was then Highway 66 between Oklahoma City and Amarillo. However, he resisted each venture for the sake of the education of his three children. He felt that nothing should take precedence over it, keeping always in his memory Grandfather’s lack of education.

During the Depression and a virtually non-existent family income, Daddy still occasionally brokered some oil land leasing to major oil companies. Sometimes he would take his commission in oil land mineral rights. Even in the darkest days of the Depression, Daddy had steady confidence in the future, confidence in the long-range potential of oil production in the Anadarko Basin. This oil basin covered a lot of western Oklahoma where Daddy lived. During prehistoric eras these lands were underwater, actually forming a part of present-day Gulf of Mexico; oil was created from decomposing organisms at the bottom of the sea.

Daddy’s oil land holdings gradually increased over the years and he was justifiably proud at the end of his life that he could leave his family a substantial legacy. He always dreamed of his “ship coming in,” and it finally did, in increasing installments, over the latter part of his life. It must have been very satisfying to him to see his faith in the Anadarko Basin so well rewarded


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