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




FRANKly Speaking

When G-Man and I got married, we each had an Uncle Frank. Happily, I still have mine, and yesterday he came to the office.

We all had lunch together, then I pulled out a picture album to remind him how Grandad (his father) looked when he was a young man. That started everything down the road.

UF (so named by my bro who he calls Buck) started telling stories. We talked about Old Mannford. Who lived where. Who married whom and when.

Because we’ve been looking for some family members (or their descendants) I’ve been searching online. I’d found where Grandad’s oldest sister (Laura, but until   recently I’d only known her as Aunt Sis) married the first and second times. Laura’s middle name was Rosetta. In 1915, Laura Rosetta Spess married Bert A. Stone and became (wait for it) Laura Rosetta Stone. Ü Don’t you love it?

UF pointed out how families use the same names over and over whether they knew

the names had been used before or not. (I have a niece named Laura.) But I’ve never heard of anyone with the middle name of Rosetta before or since!

Laura and Bert had one child, Jewel. Laura Rosetta Stone had a daughter named Jewel Stone. Aunt Sis must have had a great sense of humor. LOL.

Uncle Frank reminisced about the time he, Grandmother and Dad went to California. (They were going to see his girlfriend who’d moved out there, but he didn’t mention

that yesterday.) They left their house, drove to the filling station owned by Grandmother’s dad and, while they filled up, told him where they were going.

Grandad Mitchell said, “Hey, just wait a minute. I’ll go with you!”

Five minutes later, Grandad Mitchell was packed and they were heading west. What beautiful memories they must have of those days as they drove to California. Time with an old man I remember as being very old and breakable. I

Screenshot of Tyrone Power from the trailer fo...

Image via Wikipedia

don’t remember him ever saying anything to me, but he was on the school board for years and years, so I know he liked kids. And I’m sure he loved all us lil’uns! 🙂

Frank told how Grandad got the house I remember him and Grandma living in. Frank even lived with those grandparents when his parents moved to Tonkawa to work for a few years.

Frank’s senior picture is in that album, and he looks amazing like a movie star–Tyrone Power. And while it’s been a few (!) days since he was in high school, he still a fine figure of a man.

Uncle Frank is on the right, Paul’s in the middle and my dad is on the left.  Good looking crew, aren’t they? BTW: Their hair wasn’t always white.