Sunday, November 04, 2007

100th POST - Children of the Desert by Bebe Rich...

Children of the Desert
A Children's Story* by Bebe Rich

Her grandparents headed west in the late 1800’s with just a prairie schooner pulled by two horses, and their possessions. As a teacher and farmer Grandpa and Grandma, were looking forward to starting a new life out west. It was early spring before they could get together all the supplies they would need and enough money to start this trip alone. They would have to depend on hunting, fishing, and their wits to keep alive.

Grandpa and Grandma decided on a southern route so that they would have more of a chance of surviving the trip. Heading out from Moulton, Iowa they dropped down through Springfield, Missouri by pra
irie schooner. In Springfield they put their wagon, team, possessions and themselves on the train to Denver, Colorado. At Denver they took the narrow gauge railroad south to Durango. After arriving in Durango they took the prairie schooner, the team of horses and their possessions off the train and headed south through New Mexico.

Stopping in Farmington, New Mexico for four years, to farm vegetables for a little while, Grandpa earned enough money to continue west. When Grandpa and Grandma started on their journey they had two sons with them. Frank was four years old and his younger brother Jamie was only 18 months old.

As they traveled down the Coronado Trail through eastern Arizona, Grandpa had to tie trees to the back of the wagon to help them down the steep places. Their
plan was to head through the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona to homestead the rich, fine farm land in the Imperial Valley of California.

Everything went as well as could be expected. It was not easy, and they endured many hardships, such as harsh weather, the fear of Indians and Grandma was going to have another baby. One early spring day they began to look forward to the bright slightly windy day with the cactus and surrounding mountains that were new to them. On this day one of their horses died.

Grandpa got down from the wagon first and helped Grandma get down. The boys had already jumped out of the bac
k of the wagon to see why they had stopped in the middle of the trail. Grandpa rode into the next little town and bought a new horse. Because the cost of a new horse took half of their savings, they decided to head back. Grandpa and Grandma bought 160 acres with the last of their savings and went on to have eight more children who lived and died on this homestead in a small farming community, along the Gila River.

Grandpa and Grandma's third son, my Daddy married Mama and they had eight children. This saga continues through the eyes of the seventh child, Maizy...

Chapter 1
Searching for The Reason of Life
(Maizy - The Seventh Child)
Hi, my name is Maizy. I was born in the early 1900's on the old Lago ranch, in a little homestead house. This story takes place in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. When I was 13 months old we moved to a small town down south, so that Daddy could work as an electrician in the copper mine.

I am the seventh of eight children so when I was born, rich relatives of Mamas’ asked to adopt me. They would name me Bebe and they would see to it that I had everything that I needed. I would go to the very best college and have every advantage of being their only child. I would inherit all their land, buildings and money.

Nevertheless, there was a different plan for my life and Mama and Daddy would not let them adopt me, so I started my life among my brothers and sisters. My
oldest sister was Bessie who was nine years older than me, then came Annie, Elwood, Buddy, Alicia, and Richie. A year after I was born, I got a baby sister, Jackie.

I started searching for why we were on earth in the second grade by questioning “what is beyond life and what is beyond that and so on...” Because of the tans and browns of the houses, buildings, desert and the surrounding mountains, other colors seemed to stand out to me. I loved to look at the horizons; I would get up in the mornings and wonder where did it all come from? How come I get to live in the middle of it? Who made it?

I remember loving the Arizona clouds and would think about what was beyond the clouds, trying to imagine what was there, then wondering what was beyond that which was beyond the clouds, and so on and so on until I realized that I had to stop. As happens in everyone’s lives, there were circumstances that I believe lead to the answers to my questions.

When I was in the fourth or fifth grade we lost one of our friends. His name was Clyde and because his last name came after my last name alphabetically, he always stood in line after me. His father owned the Indian Trading Post out on the reservation. Clyde and his mom lived in town and on the weekends would go out to see his dad. One time on the way back to town, the truck hit a pot hole or something and flipped the truck. Clyde was underneath and with broken bones, his mom picked the truck up off of her son. It was too late. Clyde was gone.

Because of Clyde's death, the fact that I had a temper, and that my flaxen blonde hair was turning light orange, I was really touchy for about a year afterwards. Anything done to me would make me cry. My brothers and sisters closer to my age spent their time tormenting me to see if they could make me cry. They would call me names like cotton-top, carrot-top, and spitfire.

Mama would get after them, but one day she called me down into the cellar and told me that if I kept on crying they would keep up the tormenting. That worked, I was not about to let them do that to me!

...I got bit by a black widow spider...
...In a ditch in front of the old homestead,
I nearly drowned before Beth pulled me out...

We did not see much color except when the cactus and wild flowers bloomed after a big rain. Colors and details started having a special place in my life. Mama took pictures of us out among the wildflowers and the cactus. Both my younger sister, Jessie and I were wearing brilliant dark blue short sleeved sweater outfits with yellow and red stripes across the yokes.

I remember one time, a construction company came to town with graders and all their equipment. The graders were painted dusty colors like rosy pink, light lavender, powder blue, dusty green, pale orange and creamy yellow; and I would look at them and think that they were the most beautiful things in the world.

*This children's story is drawn from true events in history.
If some of the details are not as they should be,
it is because we are seeing through the eyes of a child.

p.s. If you are curious as to how Sharon Lynne of California Breeze and myself found out that we were related, follow the link to: You're not going to believe this...


Sharon Lynne said...

What an intriguing story...with so many interesting details. Is this a part of your family history?

When I read "Gila River" my eyes suddenly saw the winding river.

I remember riding down the Gila river with Uncle Bob...I'll tell you more later! (That's because I have to ask my husband--who else was with us...because I'm wondering if some other cousins (that you would know) were with us.

Jackie said...

What an interesting story. It never stops to amaze me how people went out into the big unknown like they did.

Janey Loree said...

~Sharon Lynne ~ Yes, Children of the Desert is about our family. Grandma and Grandpa are Uncle Bob's mom and dad!!

~ Jackie ~ This always intrigued me. I would loved to have been born back in those times, even with all the hardships. We have those hardships in one form or another today!

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