I am Dog

I am Dog , and I am a good deal older than 70ish. My recent memories go back to 1933. I was originally placed on a wooden plank in a small carnival. Our carnival traveled all through the midwest, usually stopping just outside of small towns in Iowa, Nebraska and the Dakotas.

On this occasion we had set up in Calome, South Dakota. On my right was a small shooting gallery and to my left was a ferris wheel. There were just fields beyond that. I didn’t have any friends; I was an ugly lonely plaster dog. The people who came to my booth tossed small balls at some cans (three for a nickel.) Sometimes a ball would land in a can, and a jubilant thrower got to select a dog as their prize. It’s natural that all the pretty dogs were selected first. I had been there a long time. I had seen a lot.

Then came the day that everything changed …. I saw a little girl, probably about 8 years old, and her big brother, probably about 12, both very excited, pointing this way and that. Obviously the little girl had never seen a carnival before. Family chores at that time placed demands on everyone. Music was playing and they wandered my way. The little girl pulled her brother’s head down and whispered in his ear while pointing at my booth. Big brother began searching in all of his pockets, finally found a nickel, walked up to the booth, slapped down his nickel, picked up three balls…. The third ball landed in a can, and he held his head up like there was nothing to it, pretending that it was all a simple task. While I prepared to say good-bye to one of my handsome companions, the little girl pointed at me, obviously the ugliest, but most loving dog on the shelf. Now she had me – (She had very little else.)

Ultimately that little boy would go on to survive the WWII Island Hopping Campaign as an Army Ranger, wounded three times and still standing on Okinawa when the bomb was dropped that shook the world.

The little girl’s story continued. Her family’s crops failed, the depression lingered and they slowly traveled to California. Never once did the little girl forget me or where we came from. She never set me aside when things became confused; we were together for her lifetime.

She grew up and raised a fine family, who are 70ish now with children and grandchildren of their own. They have (I hope) inherited and passed on her simple, honest values.

That is how I eventually achieved the honored spot on your desk: chipped, faded and broken.

I sit here proudly.

Dog

11 Comments

  1. Yo Dog, It didn’t take me long to figure out who Elmer was. I know the family tree. I have do doubt about the story. They are part of my wonderful family, and I love them very much. Don’t mean to get mushy but as one gets older family takes on more deeper meanings. Also, those carts those Mormons used were called “handcarts” and there are some real heart wrenching stories about them and the other pioneers also. If those who ever saw the movie “grapes of wrath” know how some of our families got to LA from Nebraska, they would be thankful for our pioneer heritage. All I can say is I am very grateful and proud of my family and heritage. God bless. <.p>

    Jackie

  2. OBSERVATION:

    I was fascinated by those Model T stories on the “I am a Dog” webpage. I also read the “Connections” webpage, and was taken by the fact that our new generation kids would not be too thrilled with metal skate wheels nailed to a soap box and 2 X 4.

    Migrating westward in an old car and no money would be difficult. All this reminded me of my fourth grade teacher (back in the 50s.) She was a Mormon from Salt Lake City. She told us stories about her grandparents having to put all of their possessions on a small wagon affair and pushed, pulled, or dragged it themselves from the East all the way to Salt Lake. Think about that: no animal or motor to move all your possessions. If we take a Model T or even a roller skate wheel for granted, then reject an older iPad for its obsolescence, we can see how fast the future is moving past us.

    The people who pulled those little wagons must have had to even make their own wheels. They couldn’t have ordered them from Amazon.com. I never saw one of those little wagons, but I believe the story is factual.

    John

  3. Jackie,

    As per your request, I confirmed the validity of Elmer’s story.

    I consulted the man who had been the little boy standing on the sidewalk outside
    the bank. He is an old man now, his hair is totally white, his eyes are faded blue, but they still sparkle at the mention of Elmer. I explained that you wanted to know if the story about Elmer was really true. The old gentleman said he didn’t expect anyone to see into the details about Elmer being recognized as the robber.

    Everyone in four counties knew and liked Elmer. He was always so eager to help wherever he could. When Elmer’s parents died he had the entire farm to manage alone. He went to town every Sunday and to and from town he offered his assistance to other farmers and their families, refusing to accept anything for his help. He just seemed to want some company.

    Sheriff Henderson was away at the County Seat on the day of the robbery. When he returned that evening, he questioned Mavis, the bank clerk who had handed over the money. Mavis was new in town, a well-dressed and very nice young lady, but she made one mistake, and it spread all over town. When Sheriff Henderson questioned her, she swore that she didn’t recognize the robber, however, she did notice the handle of a pistol stuck in the front pocket of his overalls. She said her Daddy had called it a “Hogleg Colt.” The Sheriff asked her how she knew it was a “Hogleg Colt.” She explained that her daddy was a blacksmith up in Rapid City, So. Dakota, and she had watched him heat and bend the main spring from a Colt Frontier Model to fit in the backward looking handle of the Hogleg Colt to make it work smoothly. The Sheriff said, ”That’s a Colt Bisley.”

    That clinched it as to the robber’s identity. Right then and there Sheriff Henderson and all the town knew it was Elmer.. He was the only person in the four counties who had a Colt Bisley, and he was long gone, so the talk about the bank robbery stopped right there.

    The Sheriff and no one else who knew Elmer wanted him to be arrested.

    Dog

  4. Okay, Good Neighbor,

    Can you assure me that Elmer didn’t become a Congressman?

    The voters and taxpayers sure do a lot of arguing..

    Observer

  5. Hey there, Jackie,

    “This is regarding your former comments on emigrants’ hardships. Our family emigrated from Oklahoma (just south of Nebraska.) Things were not easy for most of us, either.

    “Enough time has passed so I think it’s safe to tell this story. I was in Oklahoma and things were not good. There wasn’t any water (all of our wells were dry.) the wind blew steady night and day until the blades on the windmill turned lopsided and it tore apart. There was a fine powder of dust over everything in our house. It covered our beds, the kitchen table, everything! We couldn’t keep it out.

    “Our neighbor, Elmer, lived way out further than the rest of us and all alone. He said one day, “I’m done farmin’. If’n I had me some money, I’d go to Californy.” That’s exactly what he said, and that was the end of it for a long time. We forgot all about it.

    “When we were in town one day picking up supplies, someone screamed, “The Bank’s being robbed!!”

    “I was just a little kid then, and I looked up and saw a man run down the bank steps with a flour sack under his arm. Even with his hat pulled way down, and his coat collar up, I knew exactly who it was.

    Cranking

    “There were men and women on the sidewalk outside the bank. The men started chasing him… then all at once, they just stopped. I heard one of them say, “How can anyone be so dumb?” There was the robber all bent over frantically cranking his Model T.

    “Another man hollered, “Look! He didn’t even leave the motor running.”

    “Another said, “Maybe it stalled.”

    “Another said, “He probably didn’t set the choke.”

    “Another said, “Or he didn’t retard the spark.”

    “Another said, “Look at all that smoke! There must be oil in the gas.”

    “Another said, “He must have got it over at the Flying “A.”

    “Another said, “No, you idiots that’s well-head gas; he made it himself.”

    “Another said, “You damn fools, can’t you tell that’s tractor gas?”

    “They were arguing over who had the best resolution for starting a Model T, and the argument was drawing a crowd. It all happened so fast, and the bank manager came running down the steps, yelling, “The money, the money!!”

    “My folks and I were just standing there on the sidewalk watching, and Elmer was on his way in a cloud of smoke down the middle of our brand new two-lane asphalt highway.

    “For a short time afterwards the robbery was the talk of the town, “How stupid that guy was.” But more importantly, they talked about how often you should clean your spark plugs if you didn’t use store-bought gas.

    “Recalling back, no one ever took the robbery too seriously because we were modern, and the Government guaranteed the deposits. It was viewed as a reverse taxation.

    “We eventually had to give up the farm and moved to California. We settled in an area that is between what is now called Cudahy and Bell Gardens, and guess what!! A “neighbor” we all recognized (and never, ever mentioned) said he had intended to give up farming a long time ago, but found out that every time a seed was dropped there it grew. He had purchased a piece of land and was doing real good. He had a wife and a small child.

    “Moving ahead…. A little piece of Elmer’s open land still exists under the power lines. His grandson had sold the rest of the property.

    “When we drive by that little strip of land today I smile, and my grandson leans over and says, “Whatcha smilin’ at, Pop?” I never told him, but I can’t help thinking just how Elmer’s grandson came to be a millionaire.

    “I’m hesitant to finish the story, but I’ll go ahead and tell you the rest: Elmer’s grandson now lives in a big house in the next city over. The orange groves are all gone now, and he doesn’t work, doesn’t grow vegetables, corn or wheat. All he grows is his lawn and flowers. I guess we could say that Elmer became a millionaire posthumously. The “dumb” man did it the easy way.

    “So Jackie, I wanted you to know that not all of us emigrants from the mid-west had it so hard, and the people who run with the DOG can appreciate that the old “Tin Lizzy” had some ups and downs, a few bumps, even some cranky spots, but she was a saving grace for some of us.

    “A Good Neighbor

    “(with a good memory)

  6. Hello Dog, This is my Model T story…..

    We lived in Washington State about 14 miles from the gate to Mt. Rainier Park, and it was a very cold day. I was just a little girl, standing with my mother and grandmother inside the warm house, watching through the front window. My dad was cranking his Model “T” trying to get it started, so we could go visiting. He was a logger (timberman) in his warm clothes and heavy boots.

    Crank

    He would crank, then run from the front of his Model T and jump on the front seat to adjust the choke, then wait for it to catch hold. He was naturally short-tempered and numerous trips back and forth made it worse. MUCH WORSE!! We could see his lips moving, and it probably wasn’t a prayer. One time too many made him so angry, he kicked the side of the car with his heavy boot. His long, lanky leg sent his foot glancing through the front windshield (no safety glass in those days.)

    I stated “That’s my Daddy!” My grandmother (my dad’s mother-in-law) commented with disgust, “Yes! Isn’t that something to be proud of.”

    And there was Dad with his foot stuck in the windshield.

    Shirley (80ish+)

    1. Shirley

      Nice account of our short tempered dad… A story we heard more than once through our years together.

      I hope our children have anecdotal stories to tell about us that aren’t quite so embarrassing! Love ya,

      Jim

  7. Model T Boy

    Hello Dog, It’s been a long time!

    My granddaughter read the 70ish stories to me, and they reminded me of what happened when I was nine years old. I’m no longer able to write, so she will write my story for me.

    We lived on a farm In Nebraska. Dad was proud of his Model T Ford and kept it parked just inside the barn. Mother could drive the wagon and even pack the mule, but Dad wouldn’t let her drive the “T.” She had been watching me crank the “T”, so Dad could start it. He said it was too dangerous for anyone else to drive, but him.

    Dad was always up before the sun and on his way out to the fields to plow. One day Mom says to me, “Son, if you could start the “T” we could go to town and have it back in the barn before Dad gets home. Sneaking his “T” out was a scary thing to do, but I agreed.

    We had a good time in town, being able to see people, but we stayed a little too long and had to rush back. We crossed the creek and just as I got out to open the pasture gate, Mom’s foot must have slipped off the clutch. The “T” jumped forward and run right over me, bump-bump. Mom leaned out the window and looked back, yelling “Son, you hurt?” My stomach hurt real bad, but I hollered, “I’m good, don’t look back.” I was terrified that she would run over me backwards.

    We managed to get the “T” back in the barn, and I grubbed out the tire tracks. All was right before the sun went down, and Dad got back from the fields. We were never found out, but Dad asked me several times why I was walking all humped over.

    So how many of you young 70ish folks can say you have been run over by a Model T Ford? (I’m 90ish.)

    Good to see you again, Dog.

    Ralph

  8. It’s 1950 –

    “Knock-Knock”

    “Who’s there?”

    “Memory.”

    “Memory who?”

    “I don’t remember; I’m 70ish.”

  9. I remember those times but I was to young to be in the war but I had two older brothers that were in the war. One on the USS Hornet and the other a ranger in the Philippines and other islands. We had two stars hanging in our window in LA. Fortunately they both came home alive. Us poor emigrants from Nebraska had a rough time settling in LA during that time but we survived. I think your dog is beautiful. best wishes and keep the faith.

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