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Monday, February 1, 2016

NORTH OF AUSTIN Chapter One

A New Continued Fiction Story begins today - -  North of Austin - -



NORTH OF AUSTIN

Chapter one

My Pa and Ma settled north of Austin when it was trying to be more than a settlement. Pa was a tall sinewy man and strong as an ox. Ma was shorter than he by at least a foot. She always had a twinkle in her eye which gave her an aura of desirability that which in turn made her irresistible.

Pa had a lot of competition before he won her. As I grew older I wondered why she chose Pa for there must have been suitors more handsome than he was.  One day in answer to my question she said; “I choose him because he suited me to a tee.”

Well I’m glad she picked him for if she hadn’t I wouldn’t be here telling you my story.

My five brothers and I helped make the spread a success though Pa never gave us much credit.  About the most credit he gave us was we could eat more than we were worth.

Abner was the eldest of our clan save for Ma and Pa of course. Our spread was both ranching and farming. I wanted to be a rancher but Pa didn’t see the need for a specialist so all us boys were both farmers and ranchers. Due to the fact most spreads were large which put them at a distance from one another we didn’t visit very often unless there was a funeral, wedding or something special going on.

As of yet there wasn’t much fencing put up except for protecting the crops. The cattle didn’t understand that the hay was for later in the winter so they would help themselves since it was easier to fill up on it than grazing.

When my Pa and Ma came west as young married, they set up housekeeping on several sections of land. Like many they set out to make their fortune. Pa had been given a pretty good start for he had never been paid anything for the work he had done for his twenty years. After they had been settled for a couple of years, Abner was born and every two years another boy came on the scene till there were six of us boys.

 
We had a good number of kin folk east of us so there were a lot of family names to choose from.   Pa decided to start with Abner then Ben followed by Charles, Lester, Elroy, and Franklin. I was the fifth in line and was named Elroy but was called Roy. For some reason Ma quit bringing forth after Franklin seems something happened during his birth and she didn’t get the girl she wanted.

Our pa didn’t believe in anyone not pulling their weight so we youngens started working on the ranch/farm as soon as we were able to do the chores.

The first task we started doing was fetching water and slopping the hogs. Since the hogs were pretty ornery and mean one of the older boys would help feed them at the same time teaching the younger ones to be careful and not get bit and chewed up by one of them critters.

By the time Abner was ten the whole family was in place and working hard save for Franklin. At the end of each year after the crops were harvested and the cattle sold the work days eased off quite a bit; we could catch up with our schooling.  When the weather would allow we could even go to regular school. There was a schoolhouse and barn next to it so the kids who had to travel a distance could stable and feed their horses there and sleep in the barn. The school would feed those who stayed in the barn which was a great help.

When needed Pa would come and get one of us to help him with the work at home.  The school provided us with one other benefit and that was we got acquainted with all the young ladies in the broader community. The boys at a younger age picked out the ones they wanted to court later in life. All the boys in my family enjoyed that pleasure and would spend much time projecting the future with this one and that one. We had many arguments about who was going to get which one and it led to several fights.

The one who suited my fancy was Abby. I had fights with more than one boy over her. Some of them were quite a bit bigger than me. After I got my licking Abner would whip the daylights out of the winner who whipped me. That was something they had to look forward to when they whipped me and the knowledge of that saved me from some lickings.

The boys in school were very crude and would try to put their hands on the girls where they shouldn’t and that always riled me up especially when it came to Abby. Nobody was going to put their hands on her if I could help it. She told me to mind my own business for she could take care of herself. I think she knew I wasn’t much of a fighter and hated to see me get whipped every time. It was embarrassing to see her hero with a bloody nose.

She was pretty tough when it came to defending herself.  I saw her send more than one boy with rambling hands running and screaming. She carried a stiff hair pin and could make a pin cushion out of the would be offender before he knew what was happening. Even though I was bashful, I let Abby know she was my favorite and she and I had a future together.

Her beautiful auburn hair that was half way down her back, and her eyes were brown with a green cast at times. When I looked at her face my knees would grow weak.

The problem was she hadn’t made up her mind about whom she favored and that led to more fights. I would light into anyone I suspected as being a rival.  As I got older I didn’t always win, but I did enough damage that not many wanted to go at it again.

Our teacher, Mr. Johansson was a huge Swede and would grab the combatants by the ears and almost pull them off.  That took all the desire for fighting out of us immediately and rather quickly put an end to the fight. He wasn’t a man to be messed with and even the grown boys in class wouldn’t cross him.
Rumor was his fiancée left him at the altar for another man and while he still hasn’t got over it, it left him with a short fuse that took little to light.  As the story goes he almost beat the man to death who took his girl and left her with child so he had to immigrate to America to avoid prosecution.

It always seemed strange to hear a Swede speak English with a southern accent. He was off women for several years until a widow woman caught his eye.  Her husband died on the way to America and was buried at sea while the steamer was going at near full speed. She was a German woman who married the Swede on the condition he would pay the debt she incurred in order to get to the U.S. She was an all business woman with no foolishness about her. This was one of the things Johansson liked about her.

A short time after he met her he asked her if she wanted a husband again and she said sure. The next day he moved her few things into his place and they were married. Since they don’t have any kids it makes me wonder what kind of relationship they have.

Just before Christmas Pa would take the whole family to town and we would buy the clothes needed for the next year. During the year our feet would grow till the toes touched the end of the shoes and we would need new shoes every year. The old ones were passed down to the next in line but they were usually completely worn out and were only good for patching things like harness and making leather hinges.

It was a happy time when we got some store bought sweets which we looked forward to even after we were grown up a bit.  As time passed our place prospered and we were growing up fast.

To Be Continued

3 comments:

  1. Thank you Robert for sharing your chapter one of your new story with us here at Tell me a Story. I do hope others will follow you by e-mail as you post the next chapters.

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  2. As usual, you shared a LOT! Thank you MUCH!!

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