A Card for Dad

It’s Father’s Day which can be rather sad when your father is no longer there to hug or give a card or gift to. It always embarrassed Dad to have a fuss made over him, but I think deep down, he appreciated the attention. Even though he is gone, this special day gives us time to pause and remember what a special man our father was.

clyde and father's day card

Clyde Martin and a card that his daughter Karen sent him some years ago.

The rest of the message inside the card was well-chosen. It said, “for all the things that helped me grow, the staying close, the letting go, the honesty and humor too… for being real and being you.”

Too many cards featured images that just didn’t fit our dad. The sailboats, the formal tie, the golf scenes… Sis did a good job choosing this one with its thoughtful verse and earth-tone colors. Clyde Martin was a down-to-earth sort of guy.

The last part of the verse said, “for all your love, the gifts you give, the man you are, the life you live, for all these things and so much more, you’re the dad I’m thankful for. Happy Father’s Day.” Many thanks to Hallmark for this thoughtful, not-too-gushy card. Just right for our Dad.

karen and dad

I’ve always liked this photo of Karen and Dad. They are in the side yard of the El Dorado house.

The Christmas that stays in my memory

Gail Lee Martin published this story on the Our Echo site originally:

The Christmas I remember most happened in 1958. Clyde had been released from the hospital in September, after a five-month stay, as the result of a car accident. He was getting around slowly on crutches but couldn’t go back to work yet.

Clyde Martin working in father-in-law Clarence McGhee's woodworking shop, Madison, KS 1959.

This photo actually shows Clyde Martin in 1959 in his father-in-law’s workshop, but we don’t have a 1958 photo of him.

We had six children, the youngest only six months old, who was born while Clyde was in the hospital, and no paycheck, so Christmas looked bleak. I was unable to even make the kids any homemade gifts because I was so busy keeping five children clean, fed and in school, and caring for the new baby. My husband helped all he could, but he had trouble getting around so he kept busy in the garage restoring old bicycles.

Friends and neighbors brought anything they could find that pertained to bikes. In those days we could drive down to the city dump and the caretaker would show us where he had sorted out bicycle parts. After finding what we needed we paid a small
fee to him for them.

My husband would spend hours either leaning on his crutches or perched on a tall stool and work on the bikes. In the process, he would scrape off all the old paint and sand the metal bare, before starting to rebuild a bike.

bicycle-in workshop pixabay

Photo from Pixabay of a rusty old bike

He redid several and was able to sell them for enough to buy new tires, tubes, seats and handlebar grips. By Christmas day he had a beautiful bicycle restored for each of our children, except of course the baby. They were all painted just like the new ones in the store windows. Even pinstriped. With five new bikes on the block, it was a good thing we lived next door to the school yard.

bicycle-wheels pixabay

You can read more of Gail’s stories on the Our Echo website.

Dad Loved to Fish

I remember tagging along with Dad a few times when he went fishing. To me, it was hours of boredom sitting on the river bank while bugs tried to bite me. The leaves made me itchy and the ground felt increasingly hard as I tried not to squirm which would frighten away the fish.

His fishing time was limited to times when the oil rig shut down and there was no work. Probably he hoped to catch enough fish to feed the family while there was no paycheck.

Later when he retired, he fished for fun at Sugar Valley Lakes in Eastern Kansas. Gail and Clyde became a frequent sight at the lake as they fished from the dock or went out in their boat. They caught bass, catfish, and grass carp.

Clyde Martin loved fishing

Catfish, grass carp, and bass caught by Clyde Martin

They took pride in their catch and took photos of the fish. Gail noted in a small notebook the length and weight of the catch each day.

They ended up catching so many that they couldn’t eat them all, so they held a fish fry for the small community of Prescott, Kansas. They wanted to show their appreciation to all the people who made them welcome at their getaway home there.

It was about a 3-hour drive from their home in El Dorado, so at first, it was a weekend retreat while Dad was still working. It was beyond the reach of a demanding job. Later, they spent weeks at a time there. They found it comfortably like the small towns they were familiar with growing up in the 1930s.

 

New Year’s Eve 1958

 

Leslie Paugh Sr. is back as our guest blogger. He shared this story with me via email. You can read his other stories about working with Clyde Martin which I posted earlier. 

guest blogger pencil

“I actually only worked 3 weeks with Clyde on the rig. Two weeks in November and one week in December. So most of it was just work and not much happened.

One other thing I will never forget. I was a pretty good (or bad) drinker. New Year’s Eve, we went up to the station where we both bought our gas to fill up the car. The owner brought out a pint, about 1\3 full of rye whiskey and handed it to Clyde. I told him that was only one good drink, he got a new pint and handed it to me. I said that’s more like it, and took a good long drink of it.

beer bar pixabay

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Well, I had never drunk any rye whiskey. The gas pumps started doing the hoochie coochie. I told Clyde that stuff has a good kick to it. We went down to a bar and started (this was our first mistake) drinking beer, then saw (this was our second mistake ) the hot dill pickles and started eating them. I never did know how Clyde came out but I didn’t make it until midnight. When I woke up I told Treva “THAT is it, THAT will not ever happen again.” That was New Year’s 1958. The best thing that ever happened to me.

After that, we would go to visit my folks southwest of Kansas City, and my dad and I would go up to play pool. I would drink one beer while playing. In a year’s time, I might have drunk four or five beers. I left the hard stuff alone entirely. After my dad died I didn’t even drink the beer. In the last eight years, I have only drunk two beers. Funny how things work out sometimes, for the best.”

les paugh sr. 2

Leslie Paugh, Sr.

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)