age 95*
born: 1901
Vanderpool, Texas
occupation: cowboy/rancher


What was life like out here when you were little?

"Pretty rough. You talk about country-this was country. There was no cars, no paved roads-all dirt roads-and if you went anywhere, you had to go by horseback or buggy. The nearest doctor was Utopia and the first doctor I remember was afraid of the dark. He wouldn't go anywhere at night by hisself. He also said it was no use to get in a hurry going to see a sick person. If they was going to die, they'd die anyway. (There was) no electricity till in the 40's. We had running water-Mother would hand a bucket to one of us and we'd run down to the spring and get some water.....we had a garden, chickens, milk cows-raised nearly everything we ate-had to. By the time you got to town and back, it was time to go back again."

You lived out here all your life, then?

"Yeah around close. I worked on a ranch 12 miles north of Vanderpool for nearly 40 years."

How old were you when you got married?

"Twenty five."

And your wife?

"She was seventeen, She died last October. I still miss her, too."

Where did you meet your wife?

"Well she and her daddy and brothers came out visiting on a ranch where I worked. That's where I met her. And then they moved to Utopia, and that's where I went to see her."

You rode your horse over to Utopia to see her?

"Yeah, and one time it came a freeze-froze the river over, and this place out in the middle of the water was about two feet deep and that ice held my horse up 'til he got out in the middle of that and then the ice broke through. But that horse scrambled around and got back on top of the ice and we rode on."

Did you feel like you retired at a certain age, or did you just keep working?

"No, I thought I was going to retire. I quit that ranch out yonder and told my wife. She wanted to move down here and I said, 'What would I do on that little 200 acres?' I was working 5,000 up there. She said, 'I guess you'd find something to do.' So, finally, when I was 73, I moved down here and sure enough I found plenty to do. The fence was bad and this outfit was cedar all over. I cut the cedar and I worked the fences over."

What was the happiest time in your life?

"I guess when we were first married."

Do you ever get lonely?

"Yeah, not much I can do about it."

What's the most important thing to you about life?

"The main thing I'd say today we don't have bushels of-be honest. My daddy told me back when I was a kid-he said, 'If you be honest and keep your conscience clear, you're just as good as anybody.' He said, 'It don't make no difference whether you make a lot of money or don't. What you need to do is be honest. If you're honest with yourself, you're honest with everybody.' "

You've seen the world change a lot and not for the better?

"No, it's getting worse every day."

Tell me what you see.

"Greed - greed's what's wrong with our government today. You take those people up there in Washington-congressmen, senators and the president. They done forgot the Constitution. The Constitution said "a government by the people, for the people...equal rights to all and special privilege to none." You think them people up there...? Something's got to give one of these days. If we have another depression now, it's going to be a lot worse than that other one. I lived through that other one. I know what it was. Once in a while you hear them talking about the cost of living's gone down two-tenths of one percent, but it just don't happen - up, up, up all the time. Look at all the floods we've had up north that destroyed crops and everything. That's going to have something to do with the cost of living right there. I don't know how our government can figure they're doing anything right."

Did you ever get discouraged or depressed?
"I didn't have time. I had to work for a living."

Why do you think you have lived so long?

"I guess I worked hard all my life until the last few years and I don't think that hurts anybody. I've been lucky enough to eat three meals a day and take plenty of exercise."

You also have a good sense of humor.

"You think that has something to do with it?"

I don't know but I think it's important.

"Well I do too. These people that don't have a sense of humor-I don't know how to figure 'em. I was at the pharmacy one time getting some medicine. I gave the guy a check and he looked at me and said, 'Vanderpool-there's a lot of good people over there.' I said, 'Yep. We have a cemetery that's nearly full of them.' He didn't even smile."

Do you worry about dying?

"No, it don't worry me. It's coming. I don't know when but I'd welcome it if it's today. You take a couple that lived together as long as my wife and I did, you're not going to forget it."


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