By Robert Allen Rutland
The nice melancholy and Prohibition are ominous stories in so much old money owed. yet this is the genuine tale of a bit boy who came upon lifestyles filled with pleasure, ask yourself, and pleasure within the small midwestern city of Okemah, Oklahoma. Okemah, the place Woody Guthrie as soon as lived and wrote songs, was once battling for life within the past due Nineteen Twenties and early Nineteen Thirties because the oil increase ended, cotton fell to 10 cents in keeping with pound, and Prohibition was once in strength. but this grim situation frames Robert Rutland?’s colourful remembrance of a early life packed with event, characters, interest, and love. younger Rutland used to be the fabricated from a "broken" domestic. After his father died of pneumonia at twenty-six years outdated, Rutland?’s mom, not able to deal with her kids, despatched Robert off to dwell together with his alcoholic yet being concerned grandfather, "Pop," and his spouse, "Mom." The boardinghouse during which they lived had a gentle circulate of personalities flowing via, either for the foodstuff mother served inside of to the oil crews and diverse visitors and for the booze Pop served out again. past the boardinghouse, lifestyles was once both wealthy for younger Rutland: speaking video clips on Saturday for a dime, a library full of magical titles, medication indicates, institution backyard bullies, bloody noses, and summer time camp. yet those simplicities of existence have been combined with the usually painful classes of fact in depression-era Oklahoma, with poverty, alcoholism, violence, and racism. informed with worrying element, A Boyhood within the airborne dirt and dust Bowl Will hold the reader again to a long-lost position and time.
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Additional info for A boyhood in the dust bowl, 1926-1934
North of town there was the silt-laden Deep Fork, which gave a henna tint to the hair of foolish swimmers. When I arrived there as a three-year-old, Okemah was still regarded as a lively oil town, for it was halfway between the oil play at Cromwell and Seminole, with lots of pipeyards on the outskirts of town. Plenty of wildcatting was going on, and Sinclair and other big, integrated oil companies had busy local offices for their pipeline business. According to Oklahoma: A Guide to the Sooner State, published by the WPA in 1941, Okemah was settled on government surplus land; of the three thousand people who Page 5 came to the auction of town lots in 1902, a good many had stayed.
The Indians who came to town on Saturday were another matter. Officially, the law enforcement officers, including one of my uncles, were supposed to arrest drunks and stop any traffic in liquor. But not only were bootleggers living "across the tracks," but grocers knew why they hauled in vanilla by the caseload. They also knew why Indians bought "canned heat," sold under the brand name Sterno, in small tins along with a box of saltine crackers; a mound of those empty tins formed in the alley behind Pop's mill.
Okemah also had a Mexican "tamale man" who had a cart he pushed up and down Broadway every day except Sunday, selling hot tamales for five cents apiece. These were standard fare for me when Mom did not feel like cooking, and as a frequent customer I got to know Mr. Pope and his family. Pope and his wife made the tamales in his house, wrapped them in corn shucks, and then kept them in a steaming container mounted on two wheels and easily pushed from block to block. They were fat and juicy, with plenty of cornmeal encasing a peppered beef center, and they had a succulence I have never encountered since.
A boyhood in the dust bowl, 1926-1934 by Robert Allen Rutland