MUD PIES AND COCK FIGHTING CHICKENS: YA’ GOTTA LOVE GROWIN UP AN OKIE


This is the ‘lunch bucket’ my dad carried as a welder in the 1940’s and ’50’s. I placed pictures of he and mother inside next to the Okmulgee, Oklahoma Historical History of the county. There is also a 4 generation picture of my maternal grandmother, Rhoda, mother Marguerite, my daughter Trula Dee and myself.

This story is written “tongue in cheek” from the viewpoint of a young girl from the wrong side of the tracks and how she viewed her world at the time. For that reason I have not used the real name of what was actually (in adult hindsight)  a very pretty, blessed little girl who shined and myself, a little girl just tinged a little with the green of envy.)

Everyone had one: that one person who made your life a challenge because of what they had, how they looked, who their friends were, or where they lived in proximity to you. In my generation ( 1940’s),  it took on more significance since we could not isolate ourselves in a world of electronics and technology. People and experiences were your reality. And if you were in a small town as I was, you were pretty much stuck with them your whole school experience and usually in the same class room.

For me it was Kaybee. From the git go I knew it would be all about her. She was and had everything I didn’t. I swear she was put on earth to teach me all the great lessons of life, before I even hit puberty. Her dark hair and silky Hispanic complexion set off huge brown eyes.

In contrast, I was told I had “dishwater brown” hair and a “pug” nose (which I later disputed when I figured out what “ pug” looked like.) It was further compounded by my Daddy’s nickname for me which was, “JoJo ,the dog faced girl”. There was no particular physical attribute, that helped me stand out. It led to a grade school career of trying to make my hair “special” with abrupt and spontaneous haircuts (some self-administered as seen below) and my own attempts to “curl” my hair.

In the first grade, I was introduced to the “cutie syndrome“. Kaybee was such a cutie that she was chosen to be one of the two conductors of our first grade band. In this band, most either played a kazoo, shook bells or dinged a triangle. There were two xylophones for the “stars”.  Kaybee got to play one of them while I dinged the triangle once at the end of each song.

I am the third row, far left on the end: next to the conductor.  Kaybee is the gorgeous gal with big brown eyes, seated at the xylophone on the right in front. 

It was not long before I understood the dynamics of life. Kaybee’s family was ‘in oil’, while mine just got ‘oil on them’ from manual labor. She was the “queen bee” and we were her “drones”. The one thing I had going for me was that at an early age I was quick on my feet with words and very funny. I also had nothing to lose by standing up to her if the need arose (except occasionally my dignity.)

By second grade, it had become a battle of the wills. Hers and mine. We began to compete for the same friends. She would often “bribe them” ( a view I held with jaundiced eyes)  with treats, visits to her home, rides in her beautiful cars and rides on her donkey were big draws. I would also be included so I could see what all she had to offer and make comparisons to what I did not have.

This was my only “claim to fame” and that led to me attempting to pass off the ‘traveling photographers’ horse, as my own so I could compete with Kaybee’s donkey. LOL

On one occasion, it came down to a particular battle for a special friend in our class. I invited the friend to my house (a very rare event). Like me, she came from a struggling family and was down to earth and good fun to play with. I figured she would not be taken aback by our simple living standards.

On an early turn-out day we walked the eleven blocks from school to my house. I regaled her with stories of my exploits in the forbidden park (actually a hobo jungle) behind our house with all of the overgrown weeds and its frequent habitation by hobos. I told her of the games I played on the railroad tracks and how I had a secret clubhouse under the train trestle, high above the road. I was dramatic as I told her the club-rules and how we had to be sure not to be under the trestle when the train came, for fear of steam and fire.

 As we trudged closer to my house across the tracks, my confidence waned.  With my luck it would be the day the trestle came tumbling down.

My friend mentioned she had been to Kaybee’s to play recently and she had a lot of fun. Kaybee’s mom had given them treats, they played house, and made mud pies. I am sure I gritted my teeth. Quickly I replied, “Oh yes, she makes the ordinary kind of mud pies”. My friend looked at me surprised and I continued.  “I on the other hand have the secret recipe for the very best mud pies.”

We went down the rock stairs to the back of my house. In the basement, also made with rock, was an outside entry to the nesting room where you could enter unobserved. That is unless dad’s numerous wolf-hunting dogs alerted someone. Today, thankfully, they didn’t bark, but still, I only pointed to the nesting chickens from the doorway so as not to ‘stir them up’ and cause them not to lay. This was an iron-clad rule at our house.

My dad LLoyd Godwin with one of his game cocks.

My father was a handsome man, once mistaken and arrested as

We chose to go to a large stand of trees next.  There we could play all kinds of games uninterrupted including “rodeo“. This is where you bend a sapling tree and while one person holds it, another “gets on” and at just the right moment, you let go and the sapling whips upward, then back and forth like a bucking bronco.  Of course, if you have never played it before, you cannot quite prepare yourself for the ferocity of the motion. Most riders are thrown. Since I already knew this, I made sure my friend went first. She, like me, was thrown and was not at all impressed with my game. I knew how she felt. My sister usually played this game with me and it was always me that was thrown.

Repentant, I suggested playing bakery next.  She was still a little petulant from the wild ride and resulting injuries to her body and her dignity. She gave me a little dig by saying since she had just played mud pies with Kaybee recently so she wasn’t sure it would be that much fun.

Desperation made me do it ! I had to be sure she returned to school saying my house was the most fun. What to do, what to do????  Had this been the 20th century 60’s ot 70’s, I would have probably said the “Devil made me do it.” I made a life altering decision. I checked  where my mother was and estimated how long she would be there.  Satisfied I was in a protected state and time-period, I took my friend by the hand and swore her to absolute secrecy telling her no one knew the secret ingredient for the best mud pies in the world, but today I was going to show her.

I led her back down the rock stairs to the nesting room ,stepping inside on the dirt floor . The nests held my dad’s prize winning hens that produced the best cock fighting roosters in the Midwest. We were careful not to let the hens get excited and make noise to prevent my mother from hearing. Then we stole those prize eggs. Not even the wolf hounds gave us away.

Daddy Lloyd with his wolf hounds and buddies.

Stealthily we returned to my “outdoor kitchen” made of flat rocks, heated by the warm sun. We added the eggs to the mud mixture with wild abandon: cracking them and putting them into the muddy mixture with a great flourish of our arms (as I had supposed great cooks must do.) We baked and baked our mud cookies, pies and cakes all afternoon.

I let my friend take most of the wares home with her. We had decorated the cakes with dandelion flowers in bloom, and the cookies had clover blossoms on them. Small pure white rocks from the train tracks, some with sparkles, also adorned the “baked goods.” She was enamored by the texture of the mud dough we had achieved, which I assured her was only due to the extreme quality of the prized game eggs. Her parting words assured me she would sing my praises at school and even to Kaybee.

Sadly, my great moment passed all too quickly. My mother went down to water the chickens and they were off their empty nests, wandering around the nesting room squalling and squawking for all they were worth. It took less than a minute for her to figure out the situation, and she came looking for me.

Unfortunately, she found me and the tell tale egg shells. After explaining in deafening terms what financial damage, I had caused the family she continued equally loud to explain the trouble I was in with my dad. These were his prize chickens; his pride and joy. He was “the man” in the cock-fighting world we knew, and people from states around sought his eggs and chickens.

The fatal threat was then flung. “You just wait until your dad gets home young lady. It won’t be me giving you the spanking this time. Your dad will wear you out with his belt when he hears what you did.”

I could not stop myself. I took off fast as I could, running for cover. There was no way they would ever find me or see me again. I was not going to take a spanking from my dad with a belt. He had never spanked me but mother made it sound like it was the worst possible thing that could happen.  I already knew I did not like her spankings, so I stayed hidden, though she continued to look and call me for me.

Suppertime I heard the jeep rumble up over the tracks and saw my dad at the wheel. He looked so handsome, smiling as if he had just come home from a good day at work. I suddenly had a pang of fear, followed by a huge pang of sadness. Mother had explained that “I killed his babies” by destroying his fertilized eggs. How could he ever like me again?

I peeked through the slats of the tiny entry porch on the far side of the house. It was dark and scary under the porch as I saw my mom on the front porch watching for him. Seeing him get out of the jeep, she went to meet him. I heard muffled parts of the conversation; “friend came over“, “playing outside”,mud pies“, “can’t find her anywhere“.

I couldn’t see my dad’s face but I figured it was probably as mad as it had ever been. His coal black hair gave off blue hues from the sunlight and glistened from the hair oil he always used to control it. He ran his hand through his hair and rested it on the back of his neck. He was shaking his head left to right as if he just could not believe what he was hearing. And then I heard, “well you just didn’t look in the right places.”

He turned around and without even calling my name or taking an errant step, he walked straight to the side porch, bent over and called me by my nickname, then saying, “come on out here to daddy“. I bolted as fast as my stiff limbs would allow. He caught me up in his arms and held me close at first, then lifted me above his head and with his Paul Newman, blue eyes, snapping, he laughed. “Well, how were the pies? Any good?”

I grabbed him around the neck and told him excitedly about how “I out baked old Kaybee, and my friend liked mine best.”  Though he never said it, I think he took pride in knowing we bested her family at something.

A legacy of love transcended money and rolled right into forgiveness by my dad. It doesn’t get any better than that.

(With apologies to Kaybee and her family, but that’s how we “rolled” back in the day.)  And in full dis-closure, Kaybee grew up to be as great and appealing as she was back then. A linguist who speaks 7 language, travels the world and is a pilot, I look back now and say, “Way to go, Kaybee.”

My dad visiting in Okmulgee, Ok. My sister Trula on the right, and me on the left.

 

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About joycegodwingrubbs2

Some call me retired: I am RE-FIRED. I have written 15 books, plus 3 were written as a "ghost writer". I no longer offer them as printed books having them only available as Kindle Ebooks since my retirement as a novelist. Twelve books are on Amazon.com Kindle eBooks: collectively they are known as The Greyhound Lady Walking suspense series.They are real cases fictionalized into suspense stories to protect identities..( no victim/survivor names were compromised, and workers and locations were protected.) I also co-authored a non-fiction book: Footsteps Out of Darkness: The Annabelle Kindig Story . It is available on Amazon under the name of Annabelle Kindig. I have traveled, written from the heart, and found an audience that appreciates my "platform". The catalyst to writing the novels was the realization that if I died, I would take all my amazing experiences in these real cases with me; and believe me few have lived 5 lives in one. It would "silence the voices" of the victim/survivors whose triumphs are written into these novels. The suspense series was written in part with the collaboration of police woman and sex crime expert Trula Ann Godwin. In addition to the novels, I have written as a ghost writer for a World War II veteran who fought in the South Pacific aboard the USS Maryland in all the major battles. I have also written a non-fiction book recording oral history stories of my family members beginning with the 1930's to present. There are sixty-six "legacy" stories with pictures. It was recently published as a private printing for family and close associates only. I am a published photo journalist having won the 2009 Editor's Choice Award for internet freelance news articles and pictures of the Cedar Rapid's Iowa flood victim accounts and their personal struggles.. My husband and I are in our 52nd year together (only one blip on the marital radar together), and we have adopted three greyhounds; Dex, Big Buddy and Baby Doll. These were the inspirations in the Greyhound Lady Walking suspense series We have eleven grandchildren, 7 grandsons and 4 granddaughters. My three children live in Iowa, Wisconsin and Ohio.
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2 Responses to MUD PIES AND COCK FIGHTING CHICKENS: YA’ GOTTA LOVE GROWIN UP AN OKIE

  1. zonab2 says:

    I remember growing up in days similar to yours. I really enjoyed reading this blog.

    I have started a blog of my own. Check it out when you get a chance.

    Zona
    http://www.fibromyalgianervepain.com

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