On a 40 ac cotton farm about 4 miles east of Earlimart, California there stood a Mulberry tree with no grass under it. But there was a old steel framed cot. That cot was under the tree almost year round. I sat on that old bed with my Grandpa and sometimes fell asleep there.
Grandpa came to California when my Dad was a boy. He was one of the many that came from Oklahoma during the Great Depression of the 30’s. My Dad almost died of Dust Pneumonia while they were trying to hang onto there home.
“The Call to California” a light shinning through the dust.The illness and poverty that hung over so many was heading to California with not much more than a hope and a prayer.
They did everything they could to make money. Worked for pennies, but was grateful for a chance, a possibility to do better in a country that was under a dark cloud of poverty. Grandpa knew how to grow cotton, I am sure he could have done well growing most anything. But cotton was King and Grandpa found himself growing it, harvesting and his family were now Share croppers in California. And they also worked in the grapes, cutting them and thin working in the fruit shed. I remember the strange looking knife that was used to cut the grapes.The house they lived in was old long before they lived in it. At night when the moon was bright you could see the light through the cracks in the wall. We slept under mosque nets. “ could have thrown a cat through the walls was something I heard more than once. But I loved every minute in the old house.
I was always scared to death of Outhouses, and I did everything I could to stay out of that place. Dad would tell Mama to bring a roll of toilet paper when we were going to the farm. I guess grandpa thought that it was just good enough to use old books, newspaper, anything but a roll of toilet paper.
Going back and forth from southern California to Grandpa and Grandma’s farm was normal. Driving through fog, unbearable heat in old cars. Going over the Grape Vine with steam coming from the engine more than once. I remember my Mama sitting on the hood of the car during Tully fog giving Dad directions, you didn’t dare stop. Dad with a great big spot light. I must say that I was almost always scared when my Dad was driving.
Grandpa had a cat that he called cat. He was never going to love that cat, but with time he was very fond of him. He was dropped off on the farm as a baby. Grandpa would show us all the tricks that he could do and would say he was the smartest cat he ever heard of.He made little toys out of wooden spools and twine. So when I saw this picture, all the thoughts of being under that tree came rushing in.
I remember cleaning off that old cot because the Mulberries would fall on it, leaving a blue stain. Grandma had a old wool and cotton quilt that she made.It stayed on the cot and Grandpa had a old pillow without a pillow case that he would lay his head on and take a short nap after lunch sometimes.He would put his old felt hat over his face sometimes. Of course he was only resting his eyes, and that old cat would lay at his feet and have a little cat nap with him.
Memories today of my time under the Mulberry tree when I was a kid in Earlimart, California.