Earliest Recollections


Not long ago someone asked "Ralph, how far back in time does your memory take you?"


Can you remember events that occurred, lets say, when you were two or three years of age? I can't be specific, but I can remember things that I did before my brother, Frank, was born.


January 1, 1924. It must have been the year 1926, or '27 when Dad let me think that I was helping him mow our lawn. I remember exactly how we pushed the mower around the perimeter of our front yard and his telling me that farmers cut hay that way. I also have a vivid memory of a sled he made for me and how he pulled it and the snowy ground behind our car. He and I went to the lumberyard, bought the lumber and took it home. Dad then sawed every piece of wood to length and then nailed everything in place.


I am sure that the year was 1928, on a day when I had gone with dad on his rounds, calling on and working with various farmers out in the country, that we found a can of tomatoes in the road. Dad picked it up and said to me, "We will take this home and your mother can use it. She won't have to buy a can of tomatoes at the store. That will save us some money, and we need to save. These are very bad times." I asked dad, "Why are these bad times?" And he then explained that the country was in a depression, and almost every one was poor. I asked him if we were poor, and he said we sure were. Before we went home that day he took me with him to the creamery where we bought a huge piece of cheese at a wholesale price. -- he explained, I remember, that by so doing he was saving money. These incidents, though trivial in themselves, made a lasting impression on my young mind.


One day about that same time, before Frank came on the scene, I remember telling mother that I was going to walk over to Grandmother Goodwin's house and she said "fine" . You see, I , being only about three,years old could do that then-- we only lived a block away, and besides, there was a short cut through a vacant lot and then down the road to grandmothers! No one in those days feared kidnapping or robbing etc. All the neighbors in our small town knew one another and they looked out for each other. Well I took off, and when I got to our neighbor, Mr. Heck Harris' garage, where he kept his big Pierce Arrow automobile, which was adjacent to that vacant lot I mentioned, his big white English bulldog came at me, knocking me down in the dusty road and he began to chew on my ear. Was I ever scared??-- I screamed and hollered as loud as I could! Fortunately for me, my Uncle Bolly was just leaving grandmother's house at that time and when he heard me, and saw me struggling, came to my rescue. I' Il never forget how he picked me up and carried me to grandmother's. A few kisses - and, well, maybe some hugs and I was as good as new.


My Grandparents Goodwin had a huge old house which sat in the center of an entire city block about a couple of blocks from the court house, where granddaddy Goodwin had his chambers - he was a county judge. In those days it was customary for people to keep cows, horses, pigs, goats and chickens on their property - that even being within the city limits. Grandmother had all those and more - Kitty cats and puppy dogs, bunny rabbits too.


Oh--- it seems that I have forgotten to state that in referring to "our town", I am speaking of Portales - the county seat of Roosevelt County in Eastern New Mexico. And I am proud of the fact that several of our forbears were among it's founding fathers, having gone to the territory from Alabama and Texas in the 1880's and '90's. In 1898 the railroad reached a box tent settlement now known as Portales, only a few years after the establishment of the first ranch in that part of the country in 1879. My uncle Sidney Boykin came to Roosevelt County when it was


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