Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


When Dad was a Boy

I have a patchwork story. Patchwork, because I’ve kind of pieced it together from stories I heard over the years. That means it might not be totally accurate, but to the best of my knowledge, it is. 🙂

Back in about 1939, when my dad was in fourth grade, Granddad moved his family to Tonkawa, Oklahoma, because he’d been hired to plug some wells in Three Sands.

Three-Sands Three Sands

A little background information from–

In 1920 oilman Ernest W. Marland, on the advice of E. Park “Spot” Geyer, who headed his geology department, became convinced that there was oil to be found southwest of Ponca City near the town of Tonkawa. He persuaded the Humphreys Petroleum Company, Cosden Oil Company, Prairie Oil and Gas Company, and the Kay County Gas Company to enter a cooperative venture to drill ten wells in the area to test the idea. They drilled nine dry holes in a row. (Oi!)

BUT . . . #10 came in at a little over 2600 feet a thousand barrel a day producer! But those first holes and the ones that played out fairly quickly had to be plugged. So Granddad Ray got the job of plugging them.

I can’t give you a scientific explanation of what plugging is, but I know they pulled out of the well hole as much pipe as they could and filled it with cement or concrete.

So Granddad rented a big house from some people who traveled part of the year and moved Grandmother, Uncle Paul, Aunt Phyllis and Dad into it. Uncle Frank, being a high school kid (if I count right, he was about 15) stayed in Old Mannford with grandparents.

My dad was about nine years old–this was at the end of the Great Depression–and spent his days in school. One day walking home from school, he noticed a nanny goat with three brand new babies.

baby boatI’ve heard my dad say many times, there’s nothing cuter than a baby goat. And I think I agree.

A week or two later, Dad noticed the babies were all gone except one. And the owner was in their pen with them, so Dad asked if the man wanted to sell the third baby.

“Yes,” the man said. “I’ll sell her for fifty cents.”

So dad rushed home and borrowed the money from Uncle Paul. (And yes, he later paid it back.) He hurried back to the man and bought the goat.

He named the little goat-girl Meggie and fell head-over-heels in love with her. The entire family loved Meggie. She was full of bounce and vinegar, and kept the fam totally entertained. There was no TV to watch back then.  Since the depression was just coming to an end, there probably wasn’t money for one if it had existed.

Meggie followed Dad and Phyllis around like a puppy. He and Phyllis liked to run and jump off the porch and run as they flew through the air. Meggie did the same thing, even running in the air!

Dad said they couldn’t keep Meggie from climbing anything. She often got on top of their cars so she could reach leaves on trees to munch on. I think he was kind of proud of her abilities. 😉

When the plugging jobs were finished, Granddad moved the family back to their house in Mannford and Meggie moved with them. Of course. But they lived in town, and town really wasn’t the place for a very active and hungry goat-girl.

They moved Meggie out to the farm, out in the basin. They never did teach Meggie not to eat what she shouldn’t. One day they were at the farm, dusting the potatoes with poison to keep the bugs off. Dad looked up and saw the goat with her head in the bag of poison.

He chased her out of the poison and moved it where he thought was out of her reach. But when he got busy again, Meggie found her way to the poison.

I guess Dad’s heart just about broke the next morning when she couldn’t move anything but her eyes. Not long after that, Meggie died.

As far as I know, Dad never owned another goat, but every now and then he talks about getting one to keep the brush eaten down on Eagle Mountain where he lives.

There’s just a little bit more to that story. Dad and his wife have season tickets to the musicals in Tulsa. They’ve been going so long, they have front row center seats, and they’ve gotten to know the people who sit around them.

One couple is from Ponca City. Dad told them he’d lived in Tonkawa for a while when he was a boy. The man said he had, too.

So Dad, being a natural-born story teller, told them about living in Tonkawa. And, he said, he even had a little girlfriend. She hadn’t known he liked her at the time, but his brother teased him about her. He wondered if the Ponca City man might have known her.

He said her name, and the Ponca man laughed out loud. That little girl had grown up to be the man’s sister-in-law!!!

Is this a Small Town World or what?

Any goat stories out there? Care to share? 😀

In case you’re interested, here’s a little bit more about Three Sands–

Cherokee Strip Museum




Mannford Mystery

My dad’s Small Town World was Mannford, Oklahoma. Old Mannford, named after Mann’s Ford. By the by, Mann’s Ford wasn’t a vehicle.

Here’s the Wiki-definition. A ford is a shallow place with good footing where a river or stream may be crossed by wading or inside a vehicle. A ford is mostly a natural phenomenon, in contrast to a low water crossing, which is an artificial bridge that allows crossing a river or stream when water is low.

You already knew that. Right? 🙂

Anyway, Old Mannford was a town of less than 500 people. But believe me, they were wonderful, colorful people!


I know that, because a lot of my family lived there.

Back in the day when my dad was still a kid in school, the Men of Mannford lost their pants.

One night like every other night, everyone came in from work (well, Granddad and Uncle Frank, anyway. Not sure if Uncle Paul was still in school or old enough to work) ate supper, took off their clothes and went to bed.

awill granddad

When they got up the next morning, Granddad’s pants were gone. And Uncle Frank’s pants were gone. Not good, because back then people took off their pants with their stuff still in their pockets (change, wallet, pocket knife, whatever men carried) and laid them over a chair or dresser, ready to be put back on the next morning.

That’s right. Everyone wore the same work clothes several days in a row, because doing laundry was quite an undertaking. And new clothes weren’t easy to come by, moneywise.

Granddad was really unhappy about losing their britches. He asked around, and nearly every house in town had been entered and the men’s pants stolen!

Back in the day, people didn’t lock their doors when they went to bed at night. (Imagine that!) So someone waltzed in, picked up the men’s drawers and waltzed right back out. Someone who knew who had dogs that would rat them out and which houses had people who didn’t work.

The rest of the story? The town did find their stolen pants in a ditch on the edge of the city. But the pockets were empty. (Of course.) And their money gone.

While I believe Dad’s story about a pant-less town, I have a feeling SOMEONE knows the truth about whodunit!

Having heard stories from G-Man about kids who stole gas caps from all the cars in his Small Town World, I have a feeling it might have been a couple of high school kids who knew who lived where and maybe even where they slept.

Of course, I’m just guessing.

So . . . have you heard this tale about the pant-less town? Knowing the time it probably happened (late thirties, early forties) can you make a guess?

The statute of limitations has to have run out by now. Why not ‘fess up?  I’ll never tell!