As I sat down to write today a loud bray reminded me
that Cantador was hungry and wanted me to come and give him some food.
I got up and went to the store room and got a couple of handfuls of
mixed grain and went out into the bright spring sunshine. I say spring
because a Mocking Bird was singing in competition with the whistling
of a large male Blackbird. I turned to see the big bank of daffodils
that have been blooming for about two weeks. Now there are hundreds of
blooms clustered together reminding me that they are beginning to be
crowded and we need to do something about that. When I arrived at the
corral Cantador was grunting his greeting and I laughed to hear his
trying to talk without letting out a loud Burro Bray. He looked rather
funny being showered with white Apricot blossom petals that were
falling like snow all around under the big Apricot trees. I am so
grateful to be living here in Dublan where spring comes early giving
us a sense of peace and tranquility and helping us to forget the
strife and wars and rumors of wars in the world.
Valentine came and has gone reminding me of Valentine's
Day in Dublan long ago when we used that day to express our love to
our friends and neighbors. I did not have a chance to write until now
some of the memories of those days.
This scripture reminded me of a couple of experiences
where repentance actually gave me a change of heart.
"Repentance bringeth a change of heart unto them"
When I was a little boy Valentine's day was a big
celebration here in Dublan. We made Valentines in school and had a big
Valentine box where we put all of the Valentines of the Class to be
opened on that wonderful day of Valentine.
At home we made valentines to go around on Valentine
night to knock on the door, shout "Valentine" then run and hide to
watch as the person who would come to the door to pick up the message
of love and friendship and to see who it was from.
I remember that particular year I made many valentines
with the help of my mother and sister Dorothy. They taught me how to
make beautiful Valentines with little lacey windows. These windows
were made by doubling the paper over and cutting many parallel
diagonal cuts then flattening the paper out and folding every other
strip down over the one in between to make a lacey effect. We would
paste a shiny piece of red paper under that to show through the little
lacey window. I learned many other ways to make all kinds of different
Valentines. This was a fun time making each one while thinking of a
friend to send it to.
Among the older boys there was some talk of having fun
with a Jerk Valentine. I decided that I was big enough to have a Jerk
Valentine to fool the people. I made a thin wooden heart and
covered it with red shiny paper and put on plenty of frills to make it
attractive. I made a hole in the point of the heart and tied a long
kite string into it. Finally Valentine night came and armed with my
valuable collection of the valentines I had made and the Jerk
Valentine I went out into the night to enjoy the fun.
First I went to the Coon home. I knew Eloise would be
waiting just inside the door so as to be the first one to come to the
door to collect the valentines. I put my jerk valentine on the door
step and knocked loudly and shouted "Valentine" in my most grown up
voice. The door opened almost before I could get around the corner.
Eloise started to stoop down to pick up the Valentine but suddenly
stopped short. I jerked the Valentine and she called out, "Alright you
guys I saw the string and you didn't fool me. After she went into the
house I went across the street to the Hardy home.
I knew that Mary Mecham would be anxiously waiting to
receive the Valentines that might come to the door. Mary was a little
older lady who walked with a little limp and her mind was like a
little child. She always wore old fashioned dresses that came down to
the tops of her little black high topped lace up shoes. She had come
to live with her near relative Sister Hardy and they loved her and
treated her as a child of their own.
I went quietly to the door step and placed the Jerk
Valentine on the bottom step a little out of the direct light of the
door. I knocked and shouted "Valentine" and disappeared just around
the corner. I watched as Mary came out the door and stooped down to
pick up that pretty Valentine. She reached for the Valentine but it
jumped just out of reach. She reached again but the Valentine
disappeared into the darkness. I saw an expression of surprise then
Pain and disappointment come to her little wrinkled face. I thought
she was about to cry as she went back into the house saying, "it went
away It went away". I suddenly felt very guilty and was filled with
remorse for the pain that I had caused this simple innocent little
lady. I picked out my prettiest Valentine and wrote on the back of it.
" To Mary with love". Then I signed it "Jerk Valentine". I put
it on the top step knocked again and shouted happily "Valentine and
went around the corner to watch what would happen. Mary came out again
but cautiously this time and approached the Valentine expecting it to
disappear. Suddenly she stepped on the Valentine with her tiny black
high topped lace up shoe. Seeing that she had captured it she picked
it up and went happily into the house. I could not hear what went on
in the house but in my minds eye I could see Sister Hardy reading the
words of love to Mary and showing her the pretty Valentine.
My guilt and remorse had changed and I felt in my heart
a sense of peace and satisfaction of having made someone happy. I
Certainly had a change of heart that stayed with me to this day. I
went on to deliver all of the valentines that I had made for each of
my friends and I never used that Jerk Valentine again.
When I was little I was always acquiring pets of
different kinds. I remember that I found a little Crow that had just
left the nest and did not know how to fly very well as yet. Someone
had told me that you could teach a Crow to talk like a Parrot. I took
my little Crow home and made him a little house in a tree in the back
yard. I found that he liked all kinds of food that we ate especially
bread and milk, cooked cereal and cottage cheese. He loved meat
but we didn't have meat very often so he ate whatever I gave him. Soon
he became totally domesticated and was at home even in the house. He
would try to get into the kitchen whenever he could get a chance. He
would get anything that was shiny or a pretty color and try to fly
with these things to his little house in the tree. Mother would find
that spoons were missing and other things and send me to get them back
out of the Crows house.
The result was that I could never teach him to talk but
he could understand when I was angry with him because he was stealing
different things even watches or rings or whatever took his fancy. I
don't seem to remember what ever happened to that pet Crow but I do
remember that I was attached to him. I admired Crows for their
intelligence and adaptability.
Shortly after Naoma and I were married I began farming
out on the flat. I had contracted to raise Peanuts for the Juarez
Mercantile. They were making Peanut oil and they needed a big supply
of Peanuts. They supplied me with a ton of little Spanish
Peanuts to use for seed and the one horse planters to plant them with.
They also Said that they would have a thrasher in the area and thrash
the Peanuts for me at harvest time.
I prepared the land and furrowed it and watered it and
when it was ready to plant I soaked the peanuts in water to hurry up
the sprouting process and to reduce breakage while planting. We
got three one horse planters going from sun up until dark and got
about 80 Acres planted. Soon we could see the beautiful green rows of
Peanuts and we started to cultivate with four one horse cultivators. I
was a believer in the Mexican saying, "Si al éxito le arroja, escarda
la primer hoja". We watered and cultivated those Peanuts all summer
near harvest time we noticed a large amount of Crows walking in the
Peanut fields. I watched them one day and saw that they were going
from one Peanut Vine to the other digging out the Peanuts to eat. My
liking and respect for Crows suddenly changed to frustration and
anger. I rushed home and got my 22 rifle and a box of Bullets and
proceeded to diminish the amount of Crows that were eating my precious
Peanuts. After killing a few they stopped landing within rifle shot of
me. This was only when I had the rifle with me if I happened to not
bring my rifle along they paid little attention to my shouts and
thrown rocks. They even seemed to know when I had run out of Bullets.
This became a well armed vigil from daylight until dark to save the
Peanuts from the Crows I solicited help from some of my friends that
said they wanted to shoot Crows.
Harvest time came and we took the sweeps off the
Cultivators and replaced them with a steel U Blade that we pulled with
a horse. The blade would go along under the Peanut vines digging them
up to be gathered and put in little piles by hand. While they were
drying we really had to watch the Crows which had grown in number
since it was fall. As soon as they were dry enough we gathered
them with our rubber tired Mule drawn wagon with a hay rack on it. We
would go along the rows putting the piles of Peanut vines on the load
with Pitchforks until the wagon was stacked as high as we could reach.
We made two long high stacks of Peanut vines with the nuts on in
preparation for the Thrasher to be placed between them.
When I told the Juarez Mercantile representative that I
was ready to thrash my Peanuts they told me that I was the only one in
the area that had planted Peanuts and that I would have to buy the
Thrasher in order to thrash my Peanuts. The Thrasher came and we
thrashed Peanuts by the ton and sacked them. We hauled them to the
Dublan Station on our Wagon pulled by our little mules Chata and
Mischief and sent them on Rail Road Box Cars to Cd. Juarez. All of
this time we had to always have our guns ready to keep the Crows from
eating the Peanuts.
When it came time to settle up they told me that the
price of Peanuts had fallen from One Peso a kilo to 50 centavos per
kilo. After paying for the Peanut seed, the Planters and
the Thrasher I barely had enough money left to pay back the money I
had borrowed from Dad to operate on. As the saying goes this year we
didn't make much but next year we will do much better. We did have a
huge stack of very good Peanut hay. It kept my saddle horses and dairy
cows fat and sleek. The cows produced lots of milk on that hay. I sold
the milk to the Cheese Factory and that was what we were living
The next year we repeated the process with about the
same results both with the crows and the Juarez Mercatile. We had paid
for our equipment the year before so that helped a little. In spite of
the promises of guaranteed price for the Peanuts at harvest time the
price would drop to about half. Even my protests availed me nothing so
that ended the enjoyable time of planting Peanuts. Those little
Spanish Peanuts were very good eating and we had plenty to eat and
give away at Christmas time.
A couple of years later we had a very good rainy season
that started early in June and rained through July and August and even
into Sept. The Lakes were full and they had to shut the water out of
the Canal so as not to over fill the long lake. The grass was growing
beautifully and I thought that we were all set for a wonderful year
for the cattle on the Ranch. The same rain that made the grass grow
soaked down and brought up the grasshoppers by the thousands. They
were all kinds but the most prevalent were those big fat ones without
any wings. They could eat night and day and it seemed that they were
not going to leave any grass for the cattle to eat.
As I was going to the ranch early one morning I noticed
a stream of Crows flying in the sky toward the southeast. As I came to
the ranch to my surprise I saw hundreds of black crows as far as the
eye could see. They were walking around in the grass eating those big
fat Grasshoppers. I looked up into the sky and saw the big stream of
Crows still coming to join in the feast. It seemed that where ever
there were Grasshoppers there were crows to match. I knelt down and
thanked the Lord for sending the Crows to save our grass from those
devouring hosts of Grasshoppers. We decided not to ride early in the
morning or late in the evening so as not to disturb the crows in their
eating. During the heat of the day they disappeared. I didn't care
where they went as long as they came back in the evening and early in
Again I had a complete change of heart towards the
Crows. I became the Crow protector instead of the Crow killer that I
had been just a couple of years before. All through the years I have
been glad to let the Crows nest in the big Mesquites on the ranch
unmolested. They usually laid about six eggs and hatched a half a
dozen little crows each nesting. I am glad that they are so prolific
so they can help control the Grasshoppers.