Townsend, Hugh, Dad and me, 1928

About this time my Dad left the highway department and formed a partnership with a friend of his named McKelvey. Dad’s brother Hugh joined them about a year later and they named their new company Field Brothers Construction. Hugh moved to Lubbock with his wife, Vida, and son, Townsend. They bought a house not far from ours. Hugh had been one of a very few Naval Aviation pilots in World War I. Dad was just a teenager and worked in the shipyard. Hugh was a few years older than Dad and had withdrawn from college so Dad could go, because finances were tight in their family. Dad appreciated that and never forgot it. Hugh smoked a pipe like Dad but was more studious and serious. He had a great sense of humor but was just more reserved. Dad was more the life of the party type; he loved practical jokes and liked everyone and everyone seemed to like him.

Dad could also be pretty bold. I remember an exciting experience in 1931 when I was six. We lived on 22nd street at the edge of town. Mom was complaining that her new Buick Victoria was using too much gas. Dad checked it out and decided someone was stealing gas at night when the car was parked out front of the house. He decided to catch them in the act and about dusk one night, he parked the Buick out front and crawled into the back seat with his 45 Cal automatic pistol (I still have that gun). I remember Mom begging Dad not to go out there and after he did, she sat in the dark living room watching out the window. This just added more drama and excitement for me.

Mom, Dad and me, circa 1929

I later learned that about 2am- after I was asleep-a car pulled up behind the Buick with its lights off. Two guys got out with a gas can and a hose (what was commonly called an “Oklahoma gas pump”) and took the gas cap off the Buick. About that time, Dad jumps out of the Buick with his pistol cocked and lines the two up against the car. He takes them down to the Lubbock police station and turns them in. Of course Mom was panic-stricken wondering where they had gone. It turns out it was a couple of teenagers; one of them was the son of a doctor in town. Lubbock was still a small town and Dad of course knew the doctor; he had the police call the doctor to come down and pick up his son. The doctor showed up about 3 AM. He was grateful that Dad refused to bring charges but the son learned that crime definitely does not pay.

Dad and Hugh had construction jobs all over the panhandle of Texas and each of them was overseeing respective construction sites. They were mostly road construction jobs and some bridges. Dad would leave every Monday morning and get in late on Friday nights. He and my mom would almost always be out partying and visiting friends on Saturday evenings. As a result about the only communication I had with my Dad was when he had to discipline me. Dad was never mean to me and never disciplined me unless I really needed it. I was never abused in any way and was probably more spoiled than anything. I did idolize my Dad; he was from the old school and taught me a lot about values, ethics, truthfulness, honesty and being a man. He did not put up with whining and of course a man would never did cry! (Heaven forbid)

Dad returning home from a job

An opportunity for Dad’s discipline arose in September, 1932 when I entered in first grade at Dupree School in Lubbock. I had a pet tarantula and I took him to school with me. I had him in a square egg carton made for six eggs. All our desks were hooked together in a line of about eight or ten desks in each row. I was sitting in about the fourth or fifth desk back from the front and a little girl with long pigtails was sitting in the desk in front of me. I had to take a look at Oscar and make sure he was okay, so I peeked into his box. As I sneaked a peek, Oscar came busting out and ran up the pigtail hanging down the back of the little girl in front of me and plopped down on her desk in front of her. She began screaming bloody murder, and then all the girls were screaming and climbing up on their desks. Several of the boys and I were running around trying to catch Oscar and I was hollering, “Look out-don’t step on Oscar!” About that time the teacher grabbed me by the ear and marched me down to the principal’s office. He sent a note to my folks and I was in trouble again. Worst of all, I never did find Oscar!