Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Kizzie Catherine Parker-Brown Tapes

The Kizzie Catherine Parker-Brown Tapes


Wally Lee Parker

(All rights reserved by the Enkey-Parker Family History Newsletter)

In September of 2000 I received two audio cassette tapes from
Shirley A. Brown of Inyokern, California.
Shirley is the daughter-in-law of my Great Aunt
Kizzie Catherine Parker-Brown
(July 25, 1901 August 20, 1979).
Kizzie was the ninth of Andrew Jackson Parker (II)
and Sarah Melviney Newton’s thirteen children.
About the tapes, Shirley said,
“Enclosed are copies of some tape recordings that Kizzie made a long time ago at her daughter Joan’s place.  Her son, Dale, gave them to me two or three years ago.  He said he thought there were three tapes originally, but he could only find the two.”
This is an edited distillation from several segments of those tapes.
Hopefully this transcription is in majority correct.

Reprinted from the Enkey-Parker Family History Newsletter
July/August/September, 2001 & April/May/June, 2002

… The Kizzie Tapes …

            I was born on the 25th of July, 1902, near the town of Mulberry in northwestern Arkansas.  We got our mail at a little county post office called White Rock.  I was about seven years old when we moved to Oklahoma. 
            We moved in January of 1910.  My oldest brother, Alfred Wallace, had moved to the Oklahoma territory in 1908, just before it became a state.  When people asked what caused us to move, we always said we’d got tired of farming rocks in Arkansas.
            We moved to what they call the Sand Hills in south eastern Oklahoma.  That would be south east of Muskogee, near the little town of Braggs.  Our farm was almost surrounded by water.  The Arkansas River was on one side and a big creek on the other, so it was a real good place to farm.
            The town of Braggs, in Cherokee county, was named after a couple of folks who were real old when we first moved there — original settlers I suppose.  Our farm was just across the line in Muskogee County.
            A lot of outlaws come out of that country.  Pretty Boy Floyd for one.  I didn’t know Pretty Boy, but I did know the Baynes boys and a lot more of them around there.  Some of them was part Indian.
            We’d heard of a bunch of Parkers who lived around Fort Smith, in Arkansas.  One of them was the famous ‘Hanging Judge’.  Dad (Andrew Jackson Parker II) didn’t think any of them was kin of ours.
            We worked on that farm all the time.  We worked hard and we enjoyed it.  And I’d still be working hard if I was able to.
            I had three younger brothers — and I was the leader.  We had a lot of fun when we caught dad gone.  We had horses to ride.  And we broke young mules.  And the boys would try to ride the calves — when dad wasn’t there.
            We worked five days a week.  Saturday was town day — a day when the whole community for miles around would get together.  Since we only lived a half mile out we’d usually wait till afternoon and walk into town, but people who lived a few miles off and drove their rigs in would come in the morning and stay all day.  And the Cherokee would all come in too.  So by time we’d get there you’d walk in the street ‘cause the sidewalk would be so packed with people.
            People didn’t have much of anything, but everybody seemed happy.
            Dad was a Democrat, but my uncle was a Republican.  There was always a bit of an argument when they got together.  I’ve always been a Democrat, so I guess I figured Daddy was right.
            People seemed interested in anything that had anything to do with the community.  Local elections, school board, anything like that.  People would vote and such — of course, before President Wilson only the men could vote.
            When candidates for state and county elections would come in there’d be a couple of days of picnics and such so the candidates and people could get together and talk.  They had quite a time with all that.
            Maybe it was a good thing when women got the vote.  As far as politics and things like that I never wanted any part of it.  I thought a woman’s place was in the home.  Whether woman's place is raising babies is another question.
            Dad was against any kind of liquor, although my brothers, some of them, did drink.  Making liquor was easy money if you didn’t get caught.  Dad, I don’t know how many times, when nobody knowed what he was doing, walked through the hills trying to locate some of them stills.
            Before the Federals would come looking for stills, they’d notify the Constable in Braggs.  He knew who all the big whiskey makers were, so he’d send a runner to tell them the Feds were in the area.  The Feds never caught anybody, and we all knew why.
            About the depression?  I don’t believe anybody actually like Herbert Hoover as a president.  But it’s never one man’s fault.  There’s always more than one of them mixed up in it.
            As far as I could see there just was no use for our country to be in that mess — for the people to be in the mess they was.  After ‘World War I’ the prices dropped out of all the crops.  People couldn't sale their corn, cotton or anything else.  That was in the fall of 1920 — after Harding was elected.  I don’t know if that had anything to do with it.  More than anything else I think they just tightened up the money too much.
            But it really started to be seen in 1931.  They had a lot of potato farmers in Oklahoma.  Lots of people would come to work when it come time to dig ‘em up.  Then the price went out of Potatoes too.  And there was people in them migrant camps that was starving to death.  We’d see people going up and down the road passed our place all the time.  Just going.  Begging for food.  Nobody had much.  ‘Course the people who grew food had more.
            It’d been going on before 1931.  But that’s when people really started moving around — looking for work.  Fact is there just wasn’t any work.
            In Oklahoma the seasons, the weather, seemed to have changed.  Crops didn’t grow like the use to.  A couple of my brothers wanted to pull up and go to Arizona — there was supposed to be lots of work out there — someplace where my brothers had worked before.  Allen had just bought a car.  He drove from Oktaha to Braggs — where we still lived — and said they was going.  So we just decided to pull up and go too.
            We didn’t so much decide as I did.  My husband said to Allen, “I’ll just leave it up to her.”  All I said was that I wanted to get away from Braggs.  And he said that was okay.
            We sold what little junk we had.  I went that night with my brother over to my mother’s house at Oktaha and stayed through Christmas.  Then, on the 29th of December, 1937, we left for Arizona.
            We had a ‘34 Chevy and a trailer to pull.  We’d had a sleet storm the day before, so it wasn’t very dry.  Then, before we got to McAlester we burned a bearing out on the trailer.  So we stopped and repaired that, then drove on into Denison, Texas, and stayed that night.  We’d planned to go south to the Rio Grande Valley and then to El Paso before turning into New Mexico and Arizona.  But it was raining, and muddy.  So we turned west through Sherman, Saint Jo, and Wichita Falls.  It took us two days to cross Texas.  With the rain and mud we had to take our time.  We camped right close to the New Mexico border at a place called Plains — and it was plain.  Set way up high with not much there.  And then we drove on into Roswell, New Mexico, on Saturday — on New Year ’s Day.
            We rented a cabin there with the idea of getting work pulling bowls.  Monday morning we got up to find big clouds floating around, and sprinkling rain.  My brother Allen said, “When it rains here it really rains, so I think we’d just better load up this morning and head on toward Arizona”.  Somewhere along in there the trailer pulled the bumper off the car.  The boys chained the bumper back on.
            We drove through the Hondo Valley.  Through White Sands.  Then over the Organ Pass into Los Cruces, where we stayed the night.  We went to the southwest because the old road west to Globe was a mess.  My brother Allen though it’d be best for us to miss as much of it as we could.
            We crossed over the line into Arizona — crossed over with a lot of our food stuff, potatoes and things like that.  They just asked what we had in the car and the boys told them.  They didn’t check the trailer or anything, just waved us through.
            We got to a little place called Bowie and our trailer hitch broke.  The guy there didn’t know what to, so the boys ended up fixing it themselves.
            We drove through Wilcox, Benson, and Tucson.  And between Tucson and Eloy something else happened to our trailer.  The boys was running short of money, so they drove to Coolidge and wired my older brother over in California to send some money so we could have the trailer repaired.  We knew we had to wait for the money to come back, so before the boys left they found us a place to camp out in a field at the ‘Y’ where the road to Coolidge and Eloy parted.
            I had this great big iron dinner pot, and I decided to make some vegetable soup.  We had it pretty well done when the boys got back.  The boys wanted to know if we was celebrating something.  And I said, “Yea.  We’re celebrating ‘cause we stopped long enough to cook a real meal.”
            My sister-in-law said that was the best vegetable soup she’d ever had in her entire life.
            As soon as we had the trailer fixed, we drove to Phoenix and on to a migrant camp on a cotton ranch.  The people there said that just a week before there wasn’t hardly anybody at the camp.  When we got there not a cabin or tent was empty.  So we pulled off under a tree at the end of the road and set up camp for the night.  The next day the foremen emptied out a tent for us.
            A few more days and they said there was twelve hundred people living at that camp — most of them from Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.  Some of them were good people, and some of them were a mess with their drinking, dancing, and gambling.  You just had to close your eyes to all such kinds of things as that.
            There was a few threats and a few fights.  Some girls had a battle or two in the camp.  And some people got into it out in the fields one day.  One of them came back and got his chopping ax.  Don’t think he ever did anything with it.
            Without sending into town, there just weren't any law out there.  You had to pretty well take care of yourself.   I didn’t see anybody carrying a gun.  But I know some people had ‘em ‘cause my brother Allen carried one a few times.  He carried that ‘cause of this big Mexican guy.
            When you come out of the field with your bag of cotton, you’d line up to have it weighed.  Then you could dump it in the trailer and go back to picking.  But there was so many people picking you’d have to wait in line quite some time.  This big guy kept pushing in line ahead of other people so he could dump and get back in the field quicker.
            One day there was a woman in line ahead of my brother when this guy pushes in ahead of her.  When he rushed in he knocked my brother’s hat off.  Right away my brother’s hand was in his pocket fishing for his knife — he always carried a knife.  I said, “Put that back in your pocket.  If you want to do something to him, go get a car tool and hit him.”
            One of the foremen had told my brother, “Don’t take anything off any of these guys.  If you do you’ve got a mess on your hands.”  He said, “I carry a gun.  You can take it if you want, and next time he does something like that, don’t give him a chance”.  And the guy talking had already shot one man at the camp.
            So Allen went and got a wrench.  As the Mexican was crawling up the ladder onto the trailer my husband and brother walked up to him and the guy went flying off the back end of the trailer.
            We didn’t see that guy anymore, so we figured somebody suggested it was time for him to leave.
            As far as the fighting and fussing, for that many people I guess it wasn’t bad at all.  A lot of the people there was Christians.  But some of them people was disgusting to me — drinking and dancing around the bonfires.  It wasn’t that they was noisy.  And maybe dancing wasn’t a sin.  But sometimes we looked pretty beat — and I always had a feeling that we should have been gathered around that fire praying and singing and asking for help.
            I put my faith and trust in the Lord to take care of us.  I told the guys not to worry — that we may have it hard for a while, but it’s not gonna last forever.  I just kept going and kept them going.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

And Still More Regarding Uncle Claude Argata Enkey

And Still More
Regarding Uncle Claude Argata Enkey
(May 22, 1902 – September 27, 1981)


Wally Lee Parker

(All rights to this material reserved by the Enkey-Parker Family History Newsletter)

Reprint from the Enkey-Parker Family History Newsletter
September/October, 2000 A.D.
… a letter from Zona Enkey-Siler on growing up in Oklahoma …

In the last week of June, 2000, I received this letter from Zona Siler.
Eight typewritten pages, and some amazing stories.

Hi Cousin,

            Although we've never met, I hope by the time you've read this you will feel that we have — as I have, by reading the wonderful pages of family history that you have put together.  This is a work that is very much needed and appreciated.  I'm sure by all of us.  Thank you!
            My name is Zona Marie Enkey.  I am the third child (second daughter) of Claude Enkey and Olive Freeman-Enkey.  I was born at Liberty, Oklahoma, on March 3, 1931.  My parents, Claude and Olive, lived in Leach, Oklahoma, at that time, but they had traveled by wagon to Liberty so I could be born at Grandma Freeman’s house, by the county’s only (that I know of) midwife.  Everyone called the midwife Granny Hicks.  No relation to us though.
            When I was thirteen days old the folks moved to a 160 acre farm they’d bought at Peggs, Oklahoma.  It was the old Doolin place, and was known all over the country to be haunted.  And believe me, it was!!!
            I can remember waking up one night and there was an old man sitting in a rocking chair at the foot of my bed — rocking back and forth.  Not saying a word.  Just rocking.
            In reality we didn't even have a rocking chair.
            The old house consisted of a living room, a kitchen, and one attic room.  The living room doubled as a bedroom for Mom and Dad.  Their bed was set up in the middle of the room.  We six kids slept in the attic room.
            This attic room had one window in the south wall.  I can remember waking up many nights and seeing a huge spider web covering the whole window, and a dead man lying across the window — stuck to the spider web.  I would start crying and try to wake the other kids.  They would tell me to hush and go back to sleep.  They thought I was just imagining things.  But I wasn't.  I am sixty nine years old now, and I remember it as if it were yesterday.
            Dad never believed in ghosts.  He wouldn't accept anything like that.  So I was afraid to tell Mom and Dad about it.
            Dad said there was a logical explanation for everything if you just looked hard enough.  He had heard of this house being haunted, but refused to believe it.  He always said that the weird noises could be explained if one just looked hard enough to find the answer.  Well, I looked for sixteen years and never found the answer.
            During W. W. II — I was twelve years old (1943) — Mom was working in Tulsa making tents for the military.  One night Dad had gone to Uncle Earl’s house and had left me home to take care of my younger sister, Alzada, four years old, and my younger brother, Sam, six months old.  He was gone and gone.  Finally, when it got dark, the weird noises started.  I stood it as long as I could, then I gathered up the little ones and went outside.  We huddled in a corner by the chimney for a while, and then I decided to walk to Uncle Earls to find Dad.
Uncle Earl lived about two and a half miles from our house.  I was carrying Sam and leading Alzada by the hand.  It was pitch dark out — dirt roads and no lights.  We walked north about the distance of three city blocks to the main road, then turned west toward Uncle Earls.  There were trees — a very wooded area — on the south side of the road, and an open field on the north side for about half a mile.  Then it changed to thick trees on the both sides.
            Out from the trees on the South side, glowing in the dark, came a bright orange ball.  It hung in the air about three or four feet off the ground.  It scared the wits out of me.  I stopped and just stood there for a few seconds.  It seemed like five or ten minutes.  I was afraid to go toward the ball, so I started stepping backwards.  Every time I took a step backwards, it would move toward me.  If I decided to venture a step forward, the thing would move backwards.  We kept moving back and forth like that, it keeping the same distance from me, for about ten or 15 minutes, till it finally just flew off into the wooded area on the north side of the road.
            To this day I don't know what it was.  But I know it was something with intelligence.  Alzada says she can remember it too.
            Well, enough of my ghost stories.
            My father, Claude Enkey, was a farmer, just as his father, David Enke (prior to the added ‘y’), had been a farmer.
            Aunt Mabel, Claude's sister, recalled when the family moved from Carthage, Missouri, to south west Oklahoma — to Pottawatomie County — by covered wagon.  They were camped in the woods for the night, and Grandpa David had gone hunting to get food, when a wild bear climbed in the wagon with the family.  It nearly scared grandma and the younger kids to death.  But Claude and Oscar finally managed to get the bear out of the wagon.
            Aunt Mabel also told me the story of how Grandpa David and Grandma Pearl met.  Pearl had gone to the creek to get a bucket of water for her mom, when David rode up on his horse.  He stopped, got off, and said, "Here little lady, let me carry that for you.”  At that moment Pearl said to herself, "That’s my man.”
            Another story, this one about after they were married, David was in the field plowing.  Pearl dressed up like a man — disguising herself.  She walked to the field, and, changing her voice, talked to grandpa for several minutes before he realized who he was talking to.
            My dad told us that David Enke was an exceptionally strong man.  Once when the family was out on the road in the wagon, four or five men rode up on their horses and started using bad language.  Grandpa David told them not to talk like that in front of his wife and children.  The men told him he’d have to make them.  He invited them to climb off their horses, saying he would.  They did and he did — whipped them all and sent them on their way.
            My parents said that Great Grandpa Enke and Great Grandpa Lee fought on opposite sides in the civil war, so they didn't care much for the other.  Dad told Mom (who then related the story to me) that when Great Grandpa Lee would go to see the kids — David and Pearl — if Grandpa Enke's horse was tied up out front of the house, Grandpa Lee would ride off and come back later.  And if Grandpa Enke rode up and saw Grandpa Lee's horse tied to the hitching post, he would ride by and come back later.
            I think Dad was 19 or twenty when Grandma passed away.  Then, a short time later, Grandpa passed away.  The older kids kept the family together for a while, then some of the girls went to stay with an uncle in Texas.  Dad and Oscar worked the crops and the girls kept house.  Dad told us that Mrs. Grimes taught him how to make biscuits.
            Mom told me that she and Dad met at a dance.  Dad loved to dance and went to them real often.  Mom was a school teacher, very reserved and proper, seldom went anywhere.  Her younger sister, Opal, was more out-going.
            One night Opal wanted to go to the neighborhood dance.  Their dad, Grandpa Freeman, let her go — but only if Olive went to keep an eye on her.  As it turned out, Mom was the one who caught a boyfriend that night.
            Dad was a very handsome man, and he inherited his father’s strength.  He was always showing off.  But Dad hadn’t had any formal education.  So when he got married he wasn't sure of the correct spelling for his last name.  Mom spelled it the way it sounded — Enkey.  Later, after meeting some of Dad’s aunts and uncles, she learned Enke was the correct spelling.  But since the marriage license said Enkey, they went and kept that spelling.  And all the other kids in David and Pearl’s family kept that spelling too.  All the family outside of Oklahoma uses the original spelling of Enke.
            The Clem Freeman that married our Aunt Goldie, he was my mother’s first cousin.  Goldie's children and Claude and Olive’s children are double cousins — first cousins on Claude and Goldie's side and second cousins on Olive and Clem's side.
            Times back then were hard.  It was during the depression — the dust bowl.  If you didn't dig your living out of the ground, you didn't eat.  It made young people old, pleasant people mean, and it didn't take many years to do it.
            One of my first memories is of Dad coming in from town and telling Mom that they had to get rid of all but (I believe) 10 head of cattle.  The government, trying to get the economy under control, had ordered farmers to either kill off or practically give away any and all of what they had over that amount.  Mom and Dad had been saving and enlarging their herd in order to have enough to sell and pay off their home.  This was quite a blow to them.  And they were not even allowed to keep the meat for food.
            I was too young to remember all the details, but I remember that all the neighbors were upset about it.  Everyone was having a hard time putting food on the table.  In my early school years some of my friends only had water bread and water gravy to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
            My dad was a very hard worker, and expected no less from each of us.  I remember working in the fields just like a man, seven days a week, daylight to dark, through the long, hot summers.  This went on year after year until I was 17 years old and left home.
            I have the utmost love and respect for my parents.  We always had plenty to eat.  Milk, cornbread, and my Mom’s good biscuits.  We canned approximately five hundred quarts of fruit, berries, and vegetables every year.  Dad worked our tails off — but he’d been hungry in his lifetime and wanted his children to have plenty of food.
            While other men were running whiskey stills to make cash, our dad was running a sorghum molasses mill.
            Dad was known all over the country as being an honest, upright man of his word.  I don't think anyone ever challenged him at anything — not if they had good sense anyway.
            We kids had to walk five miles on the roads to get to our grade school, but only three if we cut over fields and through woods.  Dad made us take the short way so we could get home to start our chores sooner.  And all too often we had more excitement than we wanted walking that way.
            Some of our distant neighbors were well known whiskey makers.  Two or three times a week several, maybe six to ten men, all drunk, would gather on the dirt path to play poker.  Then when we came along they would chase us.  Most of the time they’d chase us on foot, but sometimes they would load in their pickup trucks and, as they drove by, the ones standing in the back would jab at us with their pocket knives.  Needless to say, we were terrified.
            We would have to jump ditches, dart in and out of the woods, and every other thing we could think of to escape.
            We would tell Mom and Dad about it over and over, but it was such a wild story they didn't believe us.  They thought we were making it up so we would have an excuse to walk the road with the other neighbor kids.
            This went on for two years.  Then, one day, the gamblers got carried away and chased us close enough to a neighbor’s house for her to see what was going on.  She went on a run to tell Mom and Dad.  That evening, after the chores were done, Dad got on his horse and rode off.  We asked where Dad went and Mom said he had gone to tell those men that he would be following us to and from school, and the first man he caught chasing his kids would be a dead man.  It never happened again.
            I didn’t believe he really intended to follow us.  Then, one day …
            On our way to school we had to cross several creeks.  It had been raining and snowing enough that the creeks were near flood stage.  The foot logs over the creeks were slippery.  I was about seven years old at the time, and when we got to the first foot log I just stood there crying, afraid to cross.  One of our neighbors came, picked me up, threw me over his shoulder and carried me across.  Slung over his shoulder, I looked back, and high on a wooded bluff overlooking the creek stood my dad, hunting rifle under his arm.  I never doubted his word again.
            In those days we country kids didn't have toys.  We’d make up games to play during our lunch time, or on rainy days.  One game was follow-the-leader.  Our oldest brother, Lon, was always the leader.
            One time he climbed out on a tree limb, jumped off, and we followed.  When I hit the ground my knees came up, hit my chin, and caused me to bite through my tongue.
            Another time it had been raining so much we couldn't work the fields.  We decided to go down to the creek, to our favorite swimming place.  And as usual, we were playing the follow the leader.  Even though it was flooding, my brother Lon decided to swim the creek.  I wouldn’t follow, but my younger brother Bill decided to try.
            He dove in, and the water carried him down stream until it took him under an overhanging tree branch.  He caught hold of the limb, and hung on until Lon could swim down and get him.  We went home and changed into dry clothes.  Mom and Dad never knew anything had happened.  They just thought we were wet from playing in the rain.
            On Saturdays Dad and Mom would hook up the wagon, pick up any neighbors that wanted to go, and drive into Tahlequah to buy staples, — flour, sugar, coffee, and such — things we couldn't grow on the farm.  Dad would assign us work to do while he was gone.  We’d work like crazy to get finished and have some play time before they came home.
            One Saturday we climbed the persimmon trees and sat up there like monkeys eating persimmons.  For some reason, maybe the limb broke, Lon fell out of the tree and hit his head on some rocks below.  He was out for quite a while.  We thought for sure that he was dead.  Needless to say, we were forbidden to climb the trees when the folks were gone.
            I learned early in life that it never pays to brag on yourself.  I was about five or six we were walking home from school — walking cross an open field — and I was saying to the other kids that if a wild bull came along I would just knock him in the head with a rock and keep on going.  I hadn't much more than got the words out of my mouth when here came an old bull, bellowing, pawing dirt, acting mad.  I was the first one up a tree.  To this day, I haven’t lived that down.
            My dad made sorghum molasses until he died.  After the juice was squeezed out of the stalks, the pummys, as the stalks were called, were piled up in rows six to ten feet high and left to dry.  They were winter feed for the cows and horses.
            It was a big no-no to climb on top of the rows — to run races to see who could stay on the longest without falling off.  So guess what one of our favorite Saturday games was — when Mom and Dad were gone.
            When World War II broke out, everyone, including the children, started taking life more serious.  Dad started working at the powder plant in Pryor, Oklahoma, and did the farming on weekends.  Later on he and my older sister, Opal, who was sixteen at the time, went to work at a foundry in Tulsa.  Later Mom also went to work — making tents for the military.
            Both of Mom’s brothers were in the army overseas.  I was twelve years old at the time, and became the family babysitter.  At one time I was babysitting five kids, all under school age.  My wage was $2.50 per week.  I saved my money until I had $15.00, then I bought some pigs.  I figured I would become a financial whiz with my hog business.  I don't remember what happened to my hogs or my money.
            I guess you can tell I was quite a tomboy and would fight at the drop of a hat.  Once when I was in grade school a neighbor girl threw a rock, and cut a big gash in my head.  I picked up a whole lap full of rocks and threw them at her all the way till she ran in her front door.  I guess those Enke genes just kept on flowing.
            As I read Aunt Lillie's story of her growing up years, it reminded me so much of my own child hood.  Yes, life was rough.  But we had experiences that would help us through a lot of hard times, when others would probably fall.  And I for one would never want to go back to the "good ole days".
             In 1947 my maternal grandfather, Sam Freeman, passed away.  And we moved to Hulbert, Oklahoma.  Then in 1948 I got married and moved to Muskogee, Oklahoma.  I worked at the same Swift meat company that one of your other relatives worked at.
            I didn't get to be around Aunt Lillie much as I grew up. I guess she had already moved away.  I did get to meet her in 1987 at the family reunion in Hulbert, Oklahoma.  And I had a nice, long telephone talk with her a few weeks ago.  I know I missed a lot by not being around her.  I feel we’re kindred spirits.
            I live in Wagoner, Oklahoma now.  I moved here in 1989, and brought Mom here to live with me until she died, January 30, 1998 — at the age of 94.
            I have three children.  A boy named John — retired from the Navy and living in Pennsylvania; a daughter, Linda, living in Wyoming; and my youngest daughter, Brenda, and her family, lives with me in Wagoner.  I adopted 3 boys — Joey, Robert, and Justin.  And I've cared for so many foster children I've lost count — thirty five or forty the last time I tried to put a number on them.
            If I don't hush and get this in the mail you’ll never get it.  Hope you enjoy reading this as much as I have enjoyed writing it.  Give my love to Aunt Lillie, and sure wish we could visit face to face in the near future.

Love Always,

Your Cousin Zona

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

More Regarding Uncle Claude Argata Enkey

More Regarding Uncle Claude Argata Enkey
(May 22, 1902 — September 27, 1981)
Wally Lee Parker

(all rights to this material reserved by the Enkey-Parker Family History Newsletter)

Reprint from the Enkey-Parker Family History Newsletter
July/August, 2000 A.D.

… a letter from Alzada Burch …

On May 9th, 2000, I received this letter from Alzada Burch, daughter of
Claude and Olive Enkey.

Dear Wally
            I am sending you a few memories.  Please excuse the ‘messy’ pages.  I am pretty sure that if I wait to recopy them I may never get them sent.  Hope we’re not too late to be of help.
Your Cousin,
Alzada Enkey-Burch

P.S.: I started to type this, but I’m just too slow.  I have arthritis in my hands, so you will have to make do with my scratchy notes.  Okay?

One of the items sent by Alzada was the formula for the poultice mentioned by Jack Willis in his memories of his Grandfather, Claude Enkey, published in the May/June newsletter.  Jack didn’t know the exact formula, or how his granddad came to start using it.  So Alzada explains ...

            Dad’s remedy for snake bite was equal parts of coal oil, turpentine, salt, and gunpowder.  He learned this recipe when my brother Lon the oldest of us kids got spider bit.  Lon, and my sister Opal were down at a neighbor’s house (the Steels) when Lon started feeling bad and getting stiff.  They figured he had been bitten on his neck, at the base of his skull.  The two kids decided to walk home.  Lon just kept getting sicker, so Dad decided he’d better take him to the doctor in Tahlequah.
            At the farm gate they met an old man passing by on the road.  Dad told him what was going on and the old man said, “You can take him to the doctor if you want, but I can cure him.”
            At the house, the old man mixed a paste of the above ingredients and spread them on torn strips of a white sheet to make a poultice for Lon’s neck.  Opal remembers changing the bandage, and recalls that it was green with the stuff that had been drawn out of the bite.  Not long after and Lon was up playing.

Alzada also added this story about Claude Enkey’s impressive physical strength.
            Earl Enkey’s daughter, Janice, tells of the time she watched my dad loading a truck.  He would carry a 100 pound sack of feed under each arm, one over each shoulder, and another one clinched by his teeth all at the same time.  He was quite the show off that way.
And this recollection of stories told by Mabel Alice Enkey-Martin, Alzada’s aunt, and Lillie Ada Enkey-Parker’s sister, about Alzada’s grandparents, David Enkey and Pearl Lee-Enkey.

            Aunt Mabel said her father, David Enkey, hand built a china cabinet for Pearl’s dishes.  Pearl was so proud of it.  One day Aunt Mabel ran into it, knocking it over, breaking Grandmas dishes.  When David came in he told Pearl, “Don’t worry.  We’ll get you some more dishes.”
            Early on the family lived on a cotton farm.  They’d have pickers come in at harvest time.  David would haul the cotton to town by wagon.  The family was doing quite well for a while, but it gradually became too dangerous.  The workers were thieving so bad David began fearing for the family safety.
            On one occasion, when David was gone, a man trying to get in the house broke out a window.  Pearl sent one of the kids out the back way to get Claude, the oldest boy, who was working in the fields.  Claude ran to the house, got his gun, and hollered out to the intruder that he had better go or Claude would kill him.  Everyone knew that Claude was a crack shot, so the man ran away.
            Whenever David would take produce to town, everyone assumed he’d be returning with a lot of money.  So three men laid in wait and jumped him on a return trip.  He broke free and escaped.  Once home he told Pearl they’d better sell out and move before some of them got killed.
            Selling out, the family traveled around by covered wagon for two or three years.  During that time David did find one place he really wanted to buy.  But an old Indian told them that it was Indian land so he wouldn’t be able to build a house on it.  Since David wanted a home for his family, he let it be.  He was so discouraged by everything that the family kept traveling from one place to another till the money ran out.

Opal, Alzada’s sister, and the oldest of Claude and Olive Enkey’s children, has a number of stories to tell.  Alzada repeats several of them.

            Olive was a school teacher.  One time, when Opal was just a baby, Claude and Olive were traveling by wagon to see a school board member and took the baby with them.  The trip was taking longer than expected.  Opal got to squirming and whining.  They hadn’t brought anything for the baby to eat.
            Driving passed a house, they smelled food.  Claude said he was going to get the baby something to eat.  He knocked on the door, asking the woman if she had something that he could feed his hungry baby.
            “Well mister, I only have some bacon and cornbread.”  She gave him some and he gave it to the baby.  Opal was as good as gold the rest of the way home.
            After she was grown and married, Opal asked mother, “When did we live in a white, two-story house?”  Opal described the farm Claude and Olive lived on from December of 1926 to December of 1927.  Opal was born there on there that first December.
            Opal remembers sitting in a room with a varnished door and a blue speckled doorknob sitting on a bedroom window seat used to store quilts.  It was a second story window.  From that window she could see her dad out in the field plowing.
            She recalled watercress growing by a brook that trickled near the house, and her mother picking the watercress to put on sandwiches.
            Opal told our mom that she could remember her and our dad looking at a brown house, and Opal was wishing she could talk, so she could tell the folks that she didn’t want to move from the pretty white house to the brown one.
            Olive said, “Well I guess you do.  The white house was the Davis place, and the people who owned it wanted to buy out the lease.  We moved from there to a brown house.”
And a story about Claude’s abilities with horses.
            Aunt Mabel used to tell about a high spirited horse her brother Claude had been given.  He trained this horse so only he could ride it.  Then he’d bet people they’d get bucked off if they tried to ride it.
            Unknown to Claude, Aunt Mabel got to going out to the barn, feeding and petting this horse, till she got to where she could get up on him and sit.
            One day Claude went with two other men to build a fence on a neighboring farm.  He had told Mabel to bring him over some lunch around noon time.  While working, my dad went to bragging about his horse, how spirited it was, and how not a man in the world could ride it ‘cept him.  About noon Aunt Mabel got to thinking about toting Claude’s lunch on that long, hot, dusty walk to the neighbor’s farm and decided she’d ride her brother’s horse instead.  So she got on the horse and off she went.
            When the men Claude was working with saw Mabel maybe nine years old at the time ride up on the horse her brother had been bragging up as un-rideable, they just started laughing.  Aunt Mabel said my father’s face turned bright red.  And he was mad.  He told her to get off that horse before it killed her.
            Then Claude turned to the men and said, “I bet you guys five dollars you can’t ride it.”
            Having seen his nine year old sister ride up on the horse no man could ride — and not being too impressed one of the men took my dad up on the bet.  He climbed up, and of a sudden come flying back off.  Grinning, and retrieving his pride, Claude pocketed his five bucks.

In reference to Claude Enkey’s unusual methods of hunting, Alzada said …

            Aunt Mabel told me how Dad learned to hunt like he did reaching into hollowed out trees and pulling out squirrels, then killing them with his teeth and such.  That was something Grandpa Lee, our mother’s father, had taught him.
            And we all knew ‘bout hunting coons.  Our dad would hunt at night, with his dogs and a carbide lamp strapped to his forehead.  I remember the last time I went hunting with him.  I was about 9 or 10 years old and Lon was four years younger than me. 
            I knew it was a bad mistake when we drove up and parked by some thick timber, then crawled through a barbed wire fence and out into the dark woods with nothing but a lantern.  We walked, and walked, and walked.  Every once in a bit the dogs would start barking way up ahead and Dad would say, “There they are!  Sounds like they done treed something!”  He could tell by the way they barked whether they had treed an animal or were just running.  He could also identify each dog by its bark.  Anyway, he’d hear them and away we’d go.
            We run till Lon couldn’t go any more and my legs felt like they were going to fall off.  We decided being alone in the dark wasn’t as bad as more running, so Dad told us to keep the lantern, sit down by a big tree, and he would find us on the way back.  We knew there was a graveyard pretty close to where we was, so we sat down in the leaves and stared at the dark, wondering if a ghost was about to grab us.
            We swore that if we ever got home we would never go hunting after dark again.  Dad finally came back after what seemed like an hour or two.  I personally never went coon hunting with him again.  If I had to be alone, I would take my chances at home.
            Our father told about an animal encounter when panthers roamed the woods near our Peggs, Oklahoma, home.  Every year we picked huckleberries in those woods.  And there was a pasture in the timber covered hills we had to bring our cows down from every night for milking, and then herd back up into the hills.   You could hear the panthers scream out there in the woods sounded just like a woman screaming. 
            Dad said he rode his horse into Spring Creek to let it get a drink.  Sitting there, he looked to the bank a few feet away and there was a black panther, standing, staring.  Dad’s hair, all the way down the back of his neck, stood straight.  Trying to think what to do, he reached into his pocket, got a match, and struck it.  The panther bolted, running off into a field.

Entertainment was something family and neighbors worked up for themselves.

            In those days there was no television of course, and only on occasion did we listen to a radio powered by the car battery.  But when people came to visit, and all gathered around the wood stove, my dad could entertain them for hours just telling his stories.
            He was a good dancer too.  He’d square dance and would call at gatherings.  But what I remember best was what he called ‘stomp dancing’.  Now days I guess it’s called ‘clogging’.
            He also played the fiddle.  And that brings up another story.
            Me and Bill Bill being the fourth oldest child and six years older than me had been looking dad’s fiddle over, wondering if it was one of those expensive ones a Stradivarius.  It had a name on it, but, if my memory is correct, it said Stravinsky or some such.
            Dad had just thrown one of his famous Claude Enkey fits after us for playing instead of working.  Bill got the idea of taking away some of dad’s fun to get back at him.  He decided to tie some bailing wire to the fiddle, climb up in the rafters of the house, and hang the fiddle from the two by fours.
            I was afraid to climb into the attic space.  Too many of my nightmares come down from the blackness up there.  But Bill came back grinning, “Dad won’t find it now.  If we can’t play, he can’t either.”   Then he made me promise I wouldn’t ever tell on him.
            I never did tell on him either.  But my conscious did bother me a lot over the years.
            A few years ago I reminded Bill about this.  At first he denied doing any such thing.  But I could see him wince when the memory finally came back to him.  What made it worse, years ago Bill had bought this same place and it later burned down.  And he now realized that as far as we know dad’s old fiddle was still hanging in the attic when the place turned to ash.
            My father did have a soft side.  But years of hard times, futility, and disappointment caused us to see a lot more of the tough when we were growing up.  That left its mark on all us kids.  And I’m thinking it made us strong.
            I think about the chores I was expected to do at age six; milking cows, clearing the fields of rocks, cutting sprouts, cutting and hauling in wood, cleaning the chicken house, gathering eggs, stripping sorghum cane, fighting with yellow jackets when dropping the sorghum sticks into the foaming molasses vats, picking huckleberries and blackberries then helping mom clean them under the arbor with beautiful clusters of Wisteria hanging down while pumping water from the well beside the house to wash the berries.
            In 1947 — when I was seven — we moved from the Peggs place.  We moved to ‘the prairie’ home to take care of our mother’s mother, Grandma Freeman.  It was like going to a barren desert and I hated it.  But life goes on.
            My chores seemed to shift some there.  I milked cows, churned cream, stripped and cut cane to make sorghum molasses, carried pummies the cane stacks after the juice was squeezed out away from the cane press, chopped corn, planted the dreaded black eye peas and gathered them in the hot sun, and shelled them, and shelled them, and shelled them.  It seemed like those dreaded peas lasted forever, always there to spoil my fun.
            But there was also some fun times.  Lying under a shade tree, birds singing, a cool easy breeze cooling when we were supposed to be chopping the weeds out of the corn.  Or digging the sweet, dripping hearts out of delicious watermelons before throwing the rest into the pig troughs.  And the smell of cornbread, fried potatoes, corn on the cob, and maybe fried chicken or slab bacon for lunch.  How good it tasted after a hard morning working in the fields bailing hay, picking cotton, or hoeing the garden.
            I reminisce occasionally when I see a piece of machinery a plow, planter, cultivator, disk, hay rake.  I suppose I have used just about every piece of farm machinery except the hay mowing machine.  Dad was always afraid us younger children would get our hands or feet cut off by that thing.
            Life was hard in those days.  But I wouldn't trade my experiences for all the gadgets made today.  It’s sorrowful, the memories today’s children have lost not being able to grow up on a farm.

I can’t thank Cousin Alzada Burch enough for this wonderful set of memories.  Most of us could ‘wince’ a little in sympathy with the story of the lost fiddle.  And most of us have our own stories of the pain we’ve caused our parents pain that we dearly wish we could take back.