My parents had gone to Craig to pick up a new Ford tractor when the end of World War II was announced on the radio. I was home listening to the radio when I heard President Roosevelt announce the end of the war.
After the war, the United States boomed with the industrial capacity that had been created and the enthusiasm and vigor of millions of GIs returning from Europe and the Pacific eager to gain GI bill educations and enter the workplace. There were large veteran housing Quonset huts built at Colorado A and M for these veterans.
President Truman had dropped the atomic bomb on Japan ending that conflict and Gen. Douglas MacArthur had accepted the surrender from the Japanese emperor aboard an American battleship.
Back home on the ranch, the cattle business was booming. It was an era of prosperity for rural America and by 1952 our home had been remodeled, indoor plumbing installed connected to river water pumps, an indoor fireplace, laundry room and new bedrooms. It was a palatial palace compared to the original wooden frame house. My brother and I had panel ray heat in our bedroom, but I still had my grandmother’s quilt on my bed. (Still have it today.)
We had three Ford tractors, a D4 Caterpillar and two Allis-Chalmers tractors, one with a forklift to handle loose and baled hay. The team was put out to pasture and the sled was parked behind the barn.
My dad had a new Ford pickup and I drove my own 1951 Ford car to school. We had our own electric generator that supplied the house with electricity and a large outdoor propane tank for the kitchen gas stove and panel ray heaters.
In 1955 the REA (Rural Electric Administration) built power lines across the prairie and we had unlimited electricity, but never did get landline telephone service.
Going to town in the winter had meant leaving when the road was frozen early in the morning and returning late at night as the road froze again. Otherwise, the road was a muddy mess. But with this new era, the road had been graveled by the county over the seven-mile stretch to U.S. 40. This was the road that my mother rode horseback each way to teach school at the Lay school where all grades were taught thru the eighth grade. My dad would saddle her horse in the morning for the seven-mile trip, and they would saddle the horse again for her ride home in the afternoon. The horse knew the way and just trotted down the road. Country school teachers were in short supply.
It was in the late 1940s my parents bought a two-story Victorian house in Craig when my mother attained a job teaching third grade and my brother entered junior high school. I was placed in my mother’s third-grade class. (She was keeping an eye on me.)
My father would come to town once or twice a week and I would hit him up for money for movies, candy and a new fad called Bazooka bubble gum. Friday nights we would go to the ranch and on weekends my brother and I would help father do chores that usually involved riding horses and working with the livestock. I spent many of my weekends hiking thru the hills and meadows hunting for jackrabbits and critters. One winter I set out a “trapline” on the river and trapped muskrats that I would skin and tack their sleek furry hides on a slab of wood to cure. Craig Hide and Fur would purchase the hides for a few dollars. They would also buy jackrabbits for 25 cents for the fur and meat carcass. The father of one of my best school friends owned the company and they also purchased scrap iron and sold oil field pipe and welding supplies.
Life was good, and I loved the variety
of city and country life.
Life on the ranch was healthy, the work was challenging, fresh air and fresh meat and vegetables made for wonderful meals. I read hundreds of books including the Napoleonic wars and the Greek classics. But life was lonely, and I missed having friends. My border collie dog was my best pal who hunted with me. In town, I loved going to the movies and listening to evening radio programs. Art Linkletter’s People Are Funny was my favorite.
To be continued:
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