One of the most interesting things we write about is people who run for the office of president of the U.S. I'm not alone. Almost any seasoned writer, such as Jonathan Jobe, jumps at the chance to investigate the keen insights and brilliant proposals candidates always bring to the contest for the position of most powerful person in the world.

Jon always brings a careful analysis and shrewd evaluation to everything, and covers each candidate's speeches, history, and thought processes, whereas I tend to be more focused on the subject at hand. I don't know if our readers are aware of the fact that Jon only writes part-time. Actually, he is a prosperous farmer in the Crescent Valley area and grows some of the best hay in the county. I, too, was raised on a farm just south of Tahlequah and did my time in the hay field.

From the time I was about 12 years old, my father had me driving a tractor and pulling a baler with a nine-man crew all over the county. It all started when I was about 9. When the baler was set up and pushing out about 400 bales a day, I was at the end of the line, catching the bales as they came out and stacking them for a penny a bale. That doesn't sound like much now, but it was real money for a kid in those days. Certainly, it was better than picking up potatoes after my father drove our horses down each row, turning out bushel after bushel in July. That paid a nickel a bushel, but about 10 bushels was my limit at the time.

One year my cousin came to help, and after the first bushel, she said, "That was the easiest money I ever made!" She told a different story after bushel five, though, and quit after bushel number six.

I don't remember what Dad ever did with those horses, but I loved them. Anytime he sold any of our animals, he had to do it when I was gone. Once I named anything, it was family ,as far as I was concerned. Much as I loved farming, I never would have made it on a farm if selling anything was involved. We had a beautiful Belgian stallion when I was about 5 years old, and when we brought him into the yard to eat the short, sweet grass, he let me sit on his back and "ride" as he grazed.

Of course, I was too young to know my grandfather owned a butcher shop and a produce store, and my father was a livestock dealer and bought cattle and hogs for the meat they sold. There were bleached cattle skulls all over the farm that had been left out for the town dogs to eat on, but I had no idea where they came from. I wouldn't have believed they were ever attached to live cows.

I was born in 1935, but my grandfather moved to Oklahoma before statehood. When the boys came along, they did what boys did in those days: They helped farm. Then, Dad bought a big truck, and bought and sold cattle, hogs, horses, chickens, farm machinery, whatever. From the time I was old enough to stand up in the seat beside him, my father took me all over the county buying, selling, or hauling things to the stockyard in Muskogee.

One time, I got hungry when we were miles from even the most remote country store, and Dad told me there was a kind of tree on down the road that people ate for food. He said if I could just hang on until we got there, he would cut a piece for me. Pretty soon, he stopped, got out of the truck and cut off a strip from a tree near the road, all the time telling me how much people liked it. I chewed on it a while as we drove on, but finally I had to tell him, "You know, Daddy, there isn't much to this stuff."

It was a different time and a different country we were living in then. We had no idea a madman was rising in power in Germany who would plunge the whole world into a war that would kill millions of innocent people. The "Day of Infamy" was also still to come.

On the other hand, the Golden Age of Entertainment, America's greatest years of progress and prosperity when everybody went to church and nobody locked their doors were still in the future. How I miss those days!

Fred Gibson, of Tahlequah, is a retired educator with an ongoing interest in U.S. and world politics.


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