I am so excited that my dad Hal Thompson has gotten some more of his childhood memories written down. Dad is a missionary and pastor. You can find his ministry blogs at Teaching Truth Today or Enseñando las Escrituras. I have always loved listening to my Dad tell stories from his childhood and am thrilled to share them with you. His words below:
When I was a little boy on the ranch in Oklahoma, starting when I was about five years old, my brother and I trapped animals—coyotes, coons, possums, minks, skunks, and muskrats—and sold the skins. This was the only way we had to make any spending money. Though we had nowhere to spend our money, my brother, who was three years older than I, always seemed to know how to buy things. Sometimes he ordered things from the Sears and Roebuck catalog, and I was just as excited as he was when something arrived for him in the mail.
Our schedule during hunting season was almost the same every year. We usually began trapping animals in early November before the season started, though it was against the law. We wanted to get an early start. We would get up at 4:00 in the morning, and if we were planning to go for several miles, we would ride double on a gentle horse. We would take a kerosene lantern, but we didn’t light the lantern unless we needed it; in fact, we hardly ever lit it. It seems strange now that our parents would let us go off by ourselves like that, but other ranchers’ kids did the same. (Sometimes they hunted on our place where they were not supposed to, and we did not appreciate that.) We had to get home and do the barn yard chores before 7:00 in the morning and go to school.
Our skinning time had to be after 9:00 at night after we finished all our chores; we were not allowed to use any of the ranch time for our private business. We would put the animals we caught in fifty-five-gallon barrels and keep them until the weather was freezing and then kill them. We were told to do this so the hair would not come off the skins. We had to feed and water these animals until time to kill them. We kept them in the barrels in the shop, the tack room, the barn, near the milk room where the milk cows were, and anywhere we could find a space. A couple of times Dad got upset with us because we had used all of his barrels and had them in so many places.
I really enjoyed going hunting with my brother. He treated me like a little kid, but I thought for sure he was grown. However, when I was six years old, I told my dad that I should get my share of the money for the furs we sold, and he said I was right. So I negotiated a hunting contract with my brother. I had a serious talk with him about setting up our business in a way that would be profitable to me as well as to him. He agreed to do so, but he made the rules about how we would split the profits, and he was the banker and kept the money. He said we would divide the money on the first day of the year, then again at the last of the hunting season. That year we had done very well. We had skins stretched on boards hanging up all over my dad’s shop and the barn. Some skins were almost the size of an ironing board. I began to make big plans for what I might order from the Sears catalog.
To be continued…