Pat Greer Remebers her Mother, Hiedi

Holbrook Arizona 1938 to 1941

I remember Mama feeding strange looking men on the back step of our house. They usually offered to do some work, but with a small house and small yard, I don’t recall that they did much. Our house was only a couple of blocks from the Railroad - just across US 66. Dad said that we had a cross painted on our gate. I knew this was not so because we didn’t even have a fence, must less a gate. I remember asking mama why they didn’t eat at the table, and she said that they were happier to be outside because they were used to it. She also occasionally gave them Dad’s old clothes. Now, Dad wore clothes that today we wouldn’t be caught dead in. She darned the holes in the seat of his pants, sewed up the holes in pockets. She turned cuffs on his shirts, and I think also turned the collars on the shirts. By the time she let them go, they had to be really pretty well shot.

One day in July, it rained (rare occasion) and after dinner we all piled into the old Chevy (well, I think it was a Chevy, dad never drove anything else) - and went out to check on a tank that Dad had been working on. He wanted to see if any of the rain run-off had been caught. Mom was very pregnant with what would be Sheila. Dad decided to drive across the top of the dam and Mama said not to because it was too new and soft. Of course, he tried it anyhow…. And got hopelessly stuck. Bobbie and I were barefoot - we never wore shoes in the summer. The land all around was covered with Bullheads. Our feet were pretty tough, but not tough enough for a couple of miles of bullheads. So, Mama would walk a hundred yards ahead and stop and clear off the stickers in a small area. Then dad would carry us - one at a time - up to the clear space. It was quite a long ways to highway 66 and I’m sure he was beat by the time we finally got there and managed to hitch a ride into town.

I have very dim recollection of swimming in a railroad tank. It was night and very hot. We climbed up the ladder on the outside of the tank and dropped down to the water. Of course Bobbie and I could not swim, and had to hold on to Mama and Dad the whole time we were there. It was fun and we were mad when Dad said we had to leave because a train was coming for its drink.

One day Bobbie and I were playing in the garage. Sheila was a very young toddler and quite a nuisance to us. We found a trunk and managed to get it open. Among the clothes and blankets inside were Moth Balls. I’m sure that we did not know they were poisonous, but we also knew that they were not candy. However, we told Sheila they were candy and she ate some of them. Mama was furious. She made Sheila throw up right there and then she really whopped Bobbie and I. We didn’t ever go into that garage again.

I remember Tamarisk (salt cedar) switches!!! When we were naughty (seemed to be quite often) Mama would tell us to go out and cut a switch. I always tried to get a really small one. Then we stripped the leaves off and took it to Mama. She would switch the backs of our legs with it. It stung like crazy. One day I decided I would not go cut one. So Mama went out and cut a really large switch and used it on me. Never tried that again.

There was a party (for adults) at a ranch somewhere outside of town. We were apparently mis-behaving so Mama stuck all three of us up in the branches of a tree on the patio. She gave us a cupful of olives and told us to be quiet. Sheila took a bite of each of those olives and handed it on to us. Said she was looking for “a good one”. I remember that Mama and Dad were given presents (could this have been a going away party when we left Holbrook). I think Dad was given new Handkerchiefs, but can’t remember what Mama got.

Mama and Daddy had friends who lived South of Pinetop (where Hon-Dah casino is now). They had a small Motel and service station. We drove up one summer and had a picnic with them. They had a son somewhere close to our age and we were horsing around and running. Adults said “don’t run” and we ran. The boy slipped and fell. Bad enough, but he had a coke bottle up to his mouth at the time. Bottle broke and there was blood everywhere!!! He had sliced his tongue. Mama took over and did first aid. I was scared to death until I realized that she could control the situation and fix it.

The roads around Holbrook were mostly unpaved and unbridged. Traveling on them meant a lot of up-down-up-down. I tended to get carsick until Mama said that it was just like being on a roller coaster. I didn’t know what a Roller coaster was, so she told us stories about Glen Echo and the amusement park she knew as a child. Got over being car sick.

The Super Chief came through Holbrook with a huge roar. It was big, noisy, fast and very very scary to a young kid standing beside the track.

We frequently went to Joseph City (or somewhere around there) to visit the Randall’s ranch. They had lots of rolling sand dunes. We thought it was really fun - I know now that it meant it was really poor land. Can’t imagine how they raised cattle on it. Anyhow, Mama taught us how to roll down the dunes with arms tucked in. Then she had to clean us up before we could get in the car and go home.

Mama had Migraine headaches. I remember sneaking around the house trying to be quiet. I never quite understood what they were, but I knew that she felt bad and so did I.

I don’t know if they grew there or Mama bought them, but we had Pomegranites. Mama showed us how to squish the kernels in our mouth for the juice and spit out the seeds. Now, little girls were not supposed to spit so we loved it!! Bobbie and I had some world class spitting contests.

Dads favorite food was what he called “soupy stew”. Mama made the best in the world. Most people make stew that is sort of thick and gummy, but Mama’s was beef and vegetables in a wonderful clear broth. I loved it too, especially when she ran out of turnips. She always served the stew from pot to bowl with a beautiful silver ladle that she got from her mother. I still have that ladle and have served literally thousands of servings of “soupy stew” with it.

Sheila’s birth was a wonderful thing. Never mind the new baby, Bobbie and I got to go to Prescott (Granite Dells) to some of Mama’s and Daddy’s friends for a whole week. Dad drove us down and made us feel like we were really special. We even had lunch in a restaurant in Flagstaff on the way and stopped at the top of Oak Creek at the look-out. Dad told us that it was the top of the world. The people at Granite Dells were great (can’t remember their names). They took us swimming at Granite Dells pool (we still didn’t know how to swim, but there was a very large shallow wading area). I remember drinking lemonade and eating ginger snaps. A big treat.

While we were living in Holbrook, Mama and Dad bought a new car. Heaven knows how they afforded it, but it was a tan Chevy. We went on a “shake down” drive to Winslow and I was very worried because I could feel a small bump in the floor of the back seat with my bare feet. I just knew I was going to drop out on the highway. Finally Dad stopped, got out and came around to check it out. He said it was just a “new bump” and would be ok.