Lessons Learned from My Father

Gail was a stay-at-home mom back in the fifties when that was the norm. Her husband, Clyde, worked long hours and wasn’t as involved in raising the six children. Again, that was the norm back then. Here’s a tribute that was written awhile back by their daughter, Virginia for her father shortly before his 84th birthday.

Lessons Learned from My Father

“My dad worked many years at grueling jobs making a living and supporting a family of six children. It wasn’t an easy life, but he persevered. The six of us grew up solid citizens who didn’t use drugs and applied ourselves successfully to our chosen endeavors.

His job meant he usually wasn’t there for a softball game, 4-H meeting, or a parent-teacher conference. That didn’t matter. We learned a lot from my father without his participation in those activities. Seeing how he conducted himself in different situations, and how he applied himself to his work set an example for all of us. Here are philosophies I learned from my father:

Do it yourself and save money. Dad could fix a car engine, milk a cow, skin a catfish, fix a frozen pipe under the house, assemble a bicycle from a mixture of parts, and hundreds of other skills. To this day, I look first at how can I do something myself before considering having someone else do it.

Work hard to get ahead. Dad rose through the ranks in oilfield work. From roughneck to driller to rig pusher to derrick man to pumper then finally production superintendent, he applied himself and moved ahead of those who just put in their time. His children learned to put their all into any job they had.

Clyde Martin and daughter Virginia Allain

Clyde Martin with his daughter, Virginia.

An education will pay for itself. Dad often talked proudly of his youngest brother who applied himself in school and won a full scholarship to MIT. It was easy to see the comparison between his brother flying to California for computer troubleshooting and his own physically wearing and lower-paying job. I especially appreciate this message that resulted in my getting a master’s degree and a career as a librarian.

If you do something, do it well. Dad mastered many jobs and life skills. In retirement, he raised bumper crops in his garden and sold it at the farmer’s market. He taught himself to make bread and built a following of loyal customers. His children’s interests included building hot rod cars, bowling, performing, golfing, conducting pageants, writing, and dozens of other activities. In each case, they perfected their interest to a high level. Thanks, Dad, for instilling this principle in us.

Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without. Growing up during the depression, he learned a frugality that he never dropped, even in more prosperous times. Coffee grounds and vegetable parings recycled through the compost bin brought new life to his garden patch. I see myself practicing many daily economies that are throwbacks to such depression era lessons.

When you start something, stick with it. My father wouldn’t quit once he started something. Over sixty years of marriage is a testament to that. When his children tackled something, Dad’s example of persistence spurs us to keep going to complete the job.

lessons learned father clyde
These are some key lessons learned from my father. We often don’t express appreciation for these life lessons. I hope he can see some of these behaviors in his children and recognize the influence he’s had on all of us. My dad will be 84 in a few months. I’m still learning from him.”

This was previously posted on the Our Echo website.

Oil Field Memories

Our guest blogger today is Les Paugh Sr. who was married to Gail’s cousin, Treva. Here he tells about working with Gail’s husband Clyde in the El Dorado oil field. 

les paugh sr.

Les Paugh Sr.

Hi Virginia: You got me started, here’s another story.

When I first talked to Clyde about the job I told him I didn’t know one end of a drilling rig from the other. He asked me I could learn, couldn’t I. I told him I had learned how to do a lot of other jobs. He hired me on the spot for the Red Drilling Company. It was November 1957.  

My first night on the job after he introduced me to the other roughneck and the derrick man, he said, “you ready to take a trip”. I thought to myself, Hey this is going to be great, just starting and get to take a trip. We went out on the deck and they showed me what to do. The previous crew had pulled the drill stem out and had put on a new drill bit. We took a trip alright, put 3000 foot of drill stem back in the hole. When we got done, Clyde asked me “how did you like the trip?” I told him if it was ok with him I would take the train next time. They all thought that was a good answer. So I got along good from then on.

About a week later Clyde asked me if I would like to work in the derrick, I told him I wanted to learn as much as I could. the derrick man showed me what to do. About 60 foot in the air and they had a tarp wind break around the platform. Wasn’t too bad, they took it slow so I could catch on to what to do, then sped it up. I did ok.

oil rig pixabay

Drilling rig photo courtesy of Pixabay

We moved the rig and the weather was a little warmer so the derrick man didn’t put the tarp up around the platform. Clyde sent me up in the derrick again, only this time I could see for miles around and it looked a lot different. It didn’t take to long for me to realize that wasn’t my cup of tea up there. I was ok till I seen how high up I was.

In the month of November, we worked 2 weeks. In December, we worked 1 week. Money got tight and the owner of the rig shut it down. I got another job driving truck in a quarry. But that is another chapter in my book of work life.”

Here’s Les Paugh’s Story about the Truck and the Quarry

“The winter of 58 I was working on an oil drilling rig with Clyde Martin, the driller, as a roughneck. Money got tight and the owner of the rig shut it down. Just before Thanksgiving, after the 1st of the year, I found a job in a quarry driving a dump truck. My job was to haul loads of rock up this big hill and dump the load into a chute.

My first load I got to the top, the area wasn’t much bigger than the truck. I came back off the hill, the foreman was waiting for me. I told him he had forgotten to tell me how the devil to turn around at the top. He jumped in the truck got to the top and cut it to the left as hard and fast as he could, then in reverse, dumped the load. On my next load, he was at the bottom of the hill waiting. I went up, dumped the load and when I came down, he had gone inside of his office, so I thought oh boy I passed that test.

A couple days later the loader operator was loading some state trucks, the powder monkeys were working up on a rock ledge setting up charges using electric caps. I had used dynamite, but with the regular fuse and caps. I jumped up on the ledge to see how they were setting the charges. The loader operator had dumped a load of rock into my truck, truck jumped out of gear rolled down and hit a rock, bent the bumper back against the tire. Loader operator had no chain to pull the bumper back. so I went up to the tool shed to get a chain.

The foreman saw me and hollered at me ‘what are you doing up here you are supposed to be hauling rock.’ I told him what had happened and I needed the chain to pull the bumper back away from the tire, and I couldn’t do anything standing talking to him, turned around and went back to the truck.  The loader operator asked me what happened at the tool shed. I told him, and he said if I hadn’t stood my ground I would have been fired, but as I did I have got it made now.”

Vintage Westerns: My Dad’s Favorite Reads

Zane Grey, Louis L’Amour, B.M. Bower, William McLeod Raine… do those names ring a bell? These are authors whose vintage westerns continue to have a strong appeal.

Westerns were in heavy demand at my library when the retirees flocked to the area for the warm winters. These older men grew up watching Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers, and Gene Autry weekly at the movies. Cowboys wore white hats and overcame the bad guys. From the 1920s to the 1950s youngsters imitated their favorite cowboy, wearing a vest and a cowboy hat, and gripping a six-gun in each hand.

Vintage Humor, Cowboy Singing Music to his Horse Classic Round Sticker Vintage Cowboy Singing to his Horse Round Sticker

Their movie heroes are long gone, but the western novel remains popular with this audience. The faithful readers may be seventy, eighty or ninety but as long as their eyesight holds out, they’ll read their westerns.

B.M. Bower Western books

Dad’s collection of B.M. Bower westerns.

Memory Flashback to 2007: Reading is a pastime that brings lifelong pleasure. My dad keeps a stack of his favorite westerns on a bookshelf near his comfortable chair. They are ready for re-reading at any time. In between, he goes through lots of paperback westerns. His family keeps him well-supplied with the paperbacks picked up at yard sales. Eventually, those get recycled to the used bookstore in town or donated to the library’s book sale. Then he returns to reading Zane Grey and B.M. Bower once again.

reading a vintage western

Clyde Martin, reading once again an old favorite western by William McLeod Raine.

I Loved Reading Vintage Westerns Too

Back when I was in school, I started reading the old westerns that filled the shelves in our home. Those were favorites of Dad’s. I found I liked them a lot, so started picking up additional titles at the public library that were missing from Dad’s collection. Later, I’d watch for the old hardcover classics from the 1930s and 1940s whenever I visited a flea market.

I still had a lot of those vintage westerns on my book shelves but needed to thin down my collection. Since I didn’t want to just give them to the thrift shop, I started passing them along to Dad the last few years of his life. Even if he had read them several times before, he was always glad to read one again.

 

I should have gotten Dad a mug like this for his coffee.

Thundering Herd 1925 movie ad Mug

Thundering Herd 1925 movie ad Mug

(This essay was previously published on Squidoo by Gail Martin’s daughter, Virginia Allain)

C Is for Cedar Chests

I remember that we always had a cedar chest. Sometimes it was in my parents’ bedroom, sometimes in the dining room, but it was always there. Although I was a little vague on its history, I knew that either Grandpa made it for my mother, Gail, or it was one that Dad made in high school shop class.

It was special to lift that lid and smell the scent of the unvarnished interior. Inside were family quilts and Mom’s treasured pineapple patterned crocheted tablecloth.

dads-cedar-chest

The old cedar chest made by Clyde Martin in high school.

When the grandkids started graduating from high school, my dad, Clyde Martin wanted to give each one a cedar chest. His mother made each grandchild a quilt and a rag rug when they married. The cedar chests were his way of carrying on the family tradition.

Dad and Mom scouted the yard sales in the El Dorado area to find vintage cedar chests. Sometimes the old wood was battered and scarred. He would work some magic on the distressed chests and present them to the graduate.

In one of Mom’s notebooks, I found her somewhat incomplete record of the project.

1999 Cedar Chest List (from Gail Lee Martin’s Notebook)

  • Grandchildren’s cedar chests for H.S. graduation
  • Paul 1997 small restored chest from Jenetta
  • Robin 19– 1st one put together from WalMart kit
  • Kristy 1990 or 1991 – restored but destroyed in Andover tornado
  • April 19– restored chest
  • Nicki 1998 1935 Lane cedar chest replaced lock
  • Diana 2000 1935 Lane cedar chest
  • Sam 2005
  • Chhaya
  • Karen Friend’s Univ. graduation. made by Clyde in 1940.
  • Kristy 1999 replacement for the one lost in tornado
  • Cindy
  • Susan
  • Ginger

On hand – April 1999

  • The one Daddy made for me.
  • One handmade from Butler county cedar(warped top)
  • A nice handmade @ 1940? small, on legs bought 4-17-99.
  • One with old, rounded edges, possible an older Lane, Lane key fits.
  • One extra large home-built cedar with no feet.
  • One commercially veneered, stored at Karen.

The Christmas of Our First TV

Gail Lee Martin posted this to the Our Echo website in 2011. Here it is for your Christmas reading enjoyment. If it triggers some Christmas memories for you, please share them in the comment section at the end.

The advent of the TV in our home happened the first Christmas we lived on the Greene farm three miles north of El Dorado. This was in 1960 and Clyde had a good job and working regularly so we decided to get a brand new television for a Christmas for a present for all our six kids! We keep it hid in that old garage under some junk until Christmas morning. Clyde and I went out and brought it in before the kids woke up.

We had an end table to put it on and one of us had the idea that we ought to have it turned on when the kids got up. So making sure the volume was turned real low we turned it on. Now remember it was Christmas time and colder than blue blazes outside. Clyde and I were really excited as we turned on the TV on and snap, crackle, and pop the cold tubes broke as the hot electricity hit each tube. What a bummer of a Christmas this was for the Martin family as we hadn’t bought anything else for anyone. All they had was their filled up stockings.

But the kid’s Dad came to the rescue and wrote down the numbers from each broken tube and as soon as the stores opened he went into the Graves Drugstore on the west side of north Main and was able to buy every TV tube we needed. He came back home and replaced the burned out tubes and put in the new ones and PRESTO we had television to watch for Christmas.

I know it is hard to believe this but that was the way TVs were built back then and not every store closed even on Christmas. Totally different world 50 years ago.

A Dream Deferred

What happens to a dream deferred?
 Does it dry up
 like a raisin in the sun?
….
 Maybe it just sags
 like a heavy load.

Langston Hughes wrote these lines in 1951 and I’ve been thinking of them a lot this past couple of years. I started out thinking of them in relation to the situation I was in, which I wrote a bit about in a piece on the Bubblews site: I Was a WalMart Cashier.

However, those thoughts would always lead me to my Dad and his deferred dreams. While my situation was temporary and an aggravation, my Dad’s dreams seemed to have been snuffed out, one by one, as a young man. I’m sure when he began working in the oil fields as a young husband and father, he had no idea that he would be doing that hard, physical labor his entire life.

He came of age during the depression and was of draft age when World War II came around. Since his older brother enlisted in the Air Force, Dad was given an agricultural deferment because he was needed on the farm. His older brother’s experience led him to bigger and better things after the war and he never returned to the farm and only rarely returned to Kansas to see the family.

As the war ended and Australia opened up to immigration, Dad thought about moving there. Instead, he married my Mom and by 1946 had the first of six children.

clyde_martin_with_registered_ayrshire_calf_1946

Clyde Martin with an Ayrshire calf.

As a young couple, they started a dairy operation with an Ayrshire herd, only to have that dream dashed when, after a particularly rainy season, mastitis spread through their herd. State health regulations forced them to sell the herd as butcher cattle at a loss.

For a short time, he and a younger brother operated a gas station, but it wasn’t bringing in enough income to support two young families.

That’s when Dad took his first job in the oilfields. Although by the time he retired, he had advanced to supervisory positions such as tool pusher and production manager, most of his career was spent doing the dangerous, back-breaking work of a roughneck.

 

baby-shannon

Clyde Martin, just home from work and still in his oil stained clothes. Gail holding Shannon, their youngest child.  Around 1959.

 

Later in life, he suffered greatly from the pain of old injuries and severe hearing loss from working around the loud drilling machinery all his life.

I’m glad my Dad had a good, long retirement before he passed away at age 87. He made up for lost time in those years. He and Mom bought a small RV and some vacation property on a fishing lake, they gardened and canned and enjoyed the farmers’ market, Dad became a bread baker extraordinaire, they read lots of books and watched lots of baseball and ice skating on tv, they enjoyed their kids and grandkids, and they traveled. The dream was no longer deferred. Rest in peace, Dad.

(This tribute to Clyde Martin was first published on Bubblews by Karen Kolavalli. The site is now defunct, but it seemed appropriate to republish it here as Dad’s birthday approaches.)

 

Make Parmesan-Oregano Bread Crumbs

Make your own flavored bread crumbs for breading chicken, pork chops or fish. Oregano and parmesan are perfect flavors to go with those. It’s a great way to use up excess bread.

Since my husband made homemade bread several times a week for the farmer’s market, sometimes we ended up with leftover loaves. Since it doesn’t have preservatives, it won’t keep as long as store-bought bread. This recipe makes good use of it if you can’t eat it fast enough.

A vintage ad for M & M Bread (photo by Virginia Allain)

A vintage ad for M & M Bread (photo by Virginia Allain)

Instructions

Things You’ll Need:

  • 1/2 loaf day old bread
  • 1/4 c. grated parmesan
  • 3 1/2 Tbsp. fresh oregano or 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp. coarse salt
  1. Remove the crust from day-old bread. We use our homemade bread that we make in the bread machine. This doesn’t work with soft, store-bought bread. You will need to allow it to dry out.
  2. Divide it into two batches. Put one batch at a time into a food processor. Pulse it until it forms fine crumbs. To do this manually, put the bread cubes in a plastic bag and crush them with a rolling-pin. You will have five cups of crumbs.
  3. Stir together the fine bread crumbs with 3 1/2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, 3/4 cup of finely grated parmesan cheese and 1 tablespoon of coarse salt.
Drying out store-bought bread (photo by Virginia Allain)

Drying out store-bought bread (photo by Virginia Allain)

 Tips & Warnings
  • Extra crumbs can be frozen until needed.
  • Don’t feed it to the birds.
Here's Dad (Clyde Martin) slicing his homemade bread.

Here’s Clyde Martin slicing his homemade bread.

(First published on eHow in 2008 by Gail Lee Martin)