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O'Brien on Looking Backwards on Years Gone By
(a Lot Easier than Looking Ahead)

I have always had something of an inquiring mind. I think I must have been five years of age when I discovered an animal with only it's bushy tail sticking out of a sandy hole. I thought it must be stuck and that I should pull it out! I have never done that again. My mother fumigated my clothes and me, and in the course of time, I was readmitted to the household. One lives and learns and my advice is never pull an animal out of a hole by it's tail!!!

I did more than my share of hitchhiking during my high school years. We lived six miles from school on a dirt road— sandy road—sometimes a muddy one. I was fortunate that Dan Bingham (I think George's great uncle) who was a barber at Massingill's Barber Shop lived nearby. Or, sometimes if he missed work or was sick, I could catch a ride with L.G. Ripley who had a Chevrolet coupe with a heater. Such luxury! I never wondered just why other youngsters my age had use of a car or lived close enough to school to ride a bus. No one ever told me we were "dirt poor" and if they had, I would not have believed it. It never once occurred to me that it cost Dan and L.G. money to buy gas and oil, so I never even thought to offer to pay (actually, I would not have had the money anyhow). I don't know if I ever even thanked them, but belatedly, I do now.

On other occasions when neither of them were on the road. I walked or hitchhiked. In fact on the evening of my graduation since it had come a nice juicy rain, I slung my "dress shoes" over my shoulder and walked bare-footed to school. After washing my feet and I hope my face, I donned my socks and shoes and graduated.

I made fair grades in school—not outstanding. I was never good at math, though I had good teachers. I could never understand why two and two added together made four. I always wondered if it was two apples and two oranges, why was that four? Miss Halliday, in later years Mrs. House, now in her nineties and in Western Hills Health Care Center, still recognizes me—even with my straggly beard— and refers to me as her prize pupil of some 70 years ago.

I was good on theory and writing themes and made good grades in her class. I have never had the heart to tell her after two years in her Spanish class, the only Spanish I could speak was, "Da me usted tortillas and Frijoles, par favor." And, I learned that when I was two or three years old when we lived in Austin next door to a Mexican family.  My little friend of the same age taught me to say to his mother, "Lady, would you give me some bread and beans please?"  I remember his mother was a good cook, and I still love bread and beans, which are good food in any language.

Printed in the Comanche Chief newspaper, August 15, 2002