At the end of World War I, in which my father, Oscar, served as a Sergeant Major, my father attended barber college in Ogden, Utah and subsequently moved to Newton, Kansas to work in his friend's barber shop there. Not only did he create many new friends and customers among the many railroad employees, but he met a beautiful young lady. This young lady was the daughter of an immigrant family from Germany who had settled in Newton during the late 1870s and started businesses and farms according to their own individual abilities and training. This lady's father was a shoemaker who had served many years apprenticeship in his homeland, and now had started his own business in Newton. In short, my father and this beautiful lady, Elda Malleis, were married in 1923 and I was born to them on March 20, 1924. Interestingly, his parents had migrated from eastern Texas to the new state of New Mexico and homesteaded 640 acres of land there and succeeded in persuading my parents to do the same. So they sold the home they had built in Newton and moved to their own new homestead in New Mexico just two miles away from my grandparents where they began all over again to build another home, only this time it was a homesteader's house on the praire. So, at this time, 1926, MY life in the west began.
My parents were very active in the area and with other settlers built a village, a one-room school, a church, established a mail delivery star route and life went on. Incidentally, this place to this day is known as Claunch, New Mexico, named after the major cattle rancher in the area. My father acquired the necessary statute books of the state and was appointed Justice-of-The-Peace. My mother, a very accomplished pianist, became the church piano player. They were both Sunday- school teachers.
We lived five and a half miles from Claunch and had to travel by horse and wagon to church and to buy luxuries such as sugar, salt, pepper, and canned foods. All else we made or grew for ourselves. We farmed about 180 acres of the 640-acre section of land we had homesteaded. Since my father was a war veteran, he was exempt real estate taxes which made life more tolerable during the lean years of the depression which started in that area in 1930 and ended with the advent of World War II. So my education began in 1929 in the one-room school which I reached by riding with my teacher in her brand new yellow Model "A" Ford Cabrolet. This school grew with the years into a nice country 12-year school system by 1940. No city school could outshine the knowledge nor training imparted at that country school (which was much later proved to me). Then, I was drafted into the U.S. Army from this place at age 18 as discussed on the first page of this web page series. After the War ended and fourteen years later, I applied to Colorado State University and passed the entrance examinations with scores envious to my "city educated" fellow applicants. Actually, I committed to a "major" and stuck to it the entire four years of my stay there. I was not asked to take "dumbbell math or english, just because I had attended a "country" school, and wound up being asked by the major professor to assist him in teaching his class of engineering drafting as a freshman. These things I had learned at Claunch. While taking Science Classes in high school, and since I was so interested in everything mechanical and electrical and "made of wood", I was to do many demonstrations to the classes. One, I remember, was the "telephone" I "invented". (No telephone service existed closer than 45 miles to Claunch, and I had never seen one nor did I ever speak over one.) So I connected two earphones from the old radio I had built with a long length of wire with the other side of the circuit grounded to the earth and installed my telephone system between the classroom and the boys' outhouse a short distance from the school building. Needless to say all, including the teacher, were astounded when we began talking on it (I was in the outhouse operating that end). At age nine, I had occassion to meet a young fellow who had been hired to tend a neighbor's herd of 2,000 sheep. But the interesting thing to me was the fact that he had built a radio receiver and transmitter and ran it on a 6-volt automobile battery. My first introduction to AMATEUR RADIO. I used to go to the ranch headquarters where he stayed and watched him send CW (code) messages and "official weather reports". WOW! I MUST do that too. And I did. I started studying a book he gave me and have treasured to this day. The only thing to stop my dream from happening was obtaining the parts to build my own amateur radio station.
Life there was very hard, but we never realized it until we left there and were exposed to the more flamboyant lifestyles of the outside world. But one can't appreciate the truly real advantages of growing up in a situation where one has to make their own way in everything they do: food, clothing, education facilities such as schools and churches; homes, water sources, and everything one required---from fences to animals to killing snakes, shooting rabbits and all the pests which try to end your tenure in the situation. People in the city have that all done by someone else or can "buy it at the store". We had NO money. It was strictly barter except for a few dollars one could scrape up during the year for those special things one needed which could not be made at home.
But the "war" delivered all of us for the most part to the four corners of the earth literally, and as yet, I haven't been able to meet up with many of those I used to know at Claunch. We go back to see the old village occasionally, but no one lives there except a few strangers; the school building is boarded up. The school has been "consolidated" and children are now BUSSED 45 MILES to receive a so-called "better education".
LIFE OUT WEST WAS VERY INTERESTING AND KEY TO ALL MY MANY SUCCESS STORIES. I went from that lowly country school, with mighty fine and very qualified teachers and students of good morals and good respect for the teachers, to a great university (Colorado State University) without having to take any "makeup courses" at all. In fact I studied alongside students from the city schools and found they were lacking in many ways. I retired from my working career after having attained science degrees and much work experience at the Ph.D. level. So I value my life in the country OUT WEST where, as they say out there, "Men are men! And women are glad of it!"
Now Marilyn and I are retired to the Ozark Mountains in southern Missouri and reflect on those years...so many years ago never to return, ever.
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