If a line is drawn from east to west through Cisco it would be smack-dab in the middle, 1200 plus miles both ways. Pioneers came through that part of Texas back in the 1800s and among them were the Parmer’s who brought with them farming and ranching skills … and a bunch of pigs many of which had escaped and became feral. Maybe that’s why there are so many wild pigs in Texas. My mama was a Parmer. Settling in Jack County and on to Eastland County some of the Parmer’s went south to neighboring Comanche County to find wives among some Comanche Indians there; at least part Indian, that’s what I’m told.
I am encouraged to know that one of the early Parmer’s, Martin Parmer, was an original signer of the Texas Constitution and his son, Toby, was one of the first Texas Rangers.
Some of the Parmer’s went to the south side of Eastland County to a little town just north of Comanche County called Rising Star. I think a group of families from the Andrew Agnew, Buckner and Messegee bunches gave off a whole lot of kids, intermarrying with only God knows who. Great-grandpa Parmer, Tobe, married Mary Jane Buckner in 1861 – she was born July 8, 1843 and died May 20, 1919 – and they had a caboodle of kids named William Lafayette (Uncle Will), Sarah (she lived to be 103), Eliza, Angelina, Martin Van Buren, Jr. (my grandpa, they called him Uncle Van), George and Myrtle. The Civil War left things in a mess with men going to war, people coming and going west and east trying to settle down or go to war. This gave the Comanche Indians a chance to run wild. Mama said they weren’t very clean either. Mama always liked clean.
The Comanches were really wild. We can look back now and see why. They were from the northern plains and in order to survive they were somewhat nomadic living in teepees. Back in the 1600’s they didn’t have horses so they had to survive by going wherever the food was. They came across other tribes in their movements so became fierce fighters driving the Apaches out of north/northwestern Texas using their new weapon, the horse, that they got from the Pueblos and Spanish traders back in the 1600’s.
People from back east and over in Europe were pouring into Texas by the hundreds and taking over Comanche land. The Comanches were known to be vicious, murdering terrorists even going way down south into Mexico and killing people down there. It seems bad to us now, but the Native Americans of today would not be here today if it were not for those white people taking over. The reason was the survival of the fittest. Those natives were killing each other by the thousands, destroying the environment and leaving trash everywhere. It is a myth that they sat around campfires, worshipped the Great Spirit, held hands and sang kumbaya.
The Comanches were all through that part of Texas according to Grandpa Parmer. He ought to know because his daddy, my great-grandpa Tobe married a part-Comanche and sons, Will and Van, my Grandpa Parmer, did too when they became grownups. Brothers, Uncle Will and Grandpa Van, married two part Comanche sisters from Rising Star, Texas. Those Rising Star sisters didn’t have a funny name like Paraiboo; it was Agnew. These early settlers were marrying each other all over the place because Texas was a big place and they needed kids to work the land. By marrying sisters I think that made the kids double cousins. They weren’t kissing cousins because Texas isn’t Alabama.
Great-grandma was home alone with Van when he was a baby. All the rest of the family was in the field working. The Comanches were known to be a brutal bunch of people always causing trouble making that woowoo Indian sound as they rode their horses through the countryside killing settlers and burning houses. According to family history, a bunch of Comanche’s surrounded the ranch house on their horses and one guy jumped on the porch trying to get in. My great-grandma took a shotgun and killed him as the Comanche came through the screen door. If you saw her picture, she looks like she wouldn’t need a gun to kill anyone. The Indians left when this happened. I don’t know if they buried that Indian or not or when. Maybe he’s still on the porch, or under the porch, I don’t know.
All through Texas during the mid-1800s there were buffaloes, panthers, turkeys, bobcats, otters, armadillos, birds of every kind including whooping cranes, prairie chickens, and about everything else. Grandpa Parmer told about how both his family and the Comanches hunted together after peace was signed and after the Civil War. There were a great many buffaloes in that part of Texas, but those buffaloes skedaddled north cuz they knew that if they stayed they’d be killed. The Comanches killed them with arrows and spears, many times leaving them laying there after they took what they needed. There weren’t any ice boxes in Texas.
The Battle of the Alamo, which was a mission, ushered Texas into a decidedly different culture along with the Mexican-American War of 1846. Pioneers by the hundreds started moving into Texas, but that didn’t immediately stop the Comanches from continuing to protect their land. Gradually, people started to intermarry; Mexicans, Comanches and whites. There were very few Negroes (as they were called back then).
As mentioned, Uncle Will was older than my grandpa Van and settled with his part Comanche wife not far outside the town of Cisco going east toward Putnam and on to Abilene. They said Uncle Will had more money than anybody and when his wife died he married another woman who was kinda mean. People said she killed Uncle Will and I remember sitting in the living room with his body at a three day wake. People made like they were crying. After that they ate. I liked to go into the kitchen and grab stuff when no one was looking. Nobody drank fire-water because it was bad and besides, they were all Methodists and Nazarenes. The Southern Baptists wouldn’t be caught dead with other church people, especially Campbelites.
When Grandpa was born, Cisco was barely a town. It first became Cisco when a travelling preacher put roots down and let people know he was starting a church. The Methodists were first, then came the Baptists and then the Campbelites, named after Thomas Campbell, a Presbyterian minister (later known as the Disciples of Christ and Church of Christ – they didn’t believe in musical instruments in church). The Nazarenes didn’t come along til later in about 1906 or 8, so I guess the first shall be last and the last first. Nazarenes were the only really saved people. [jes’ joking]
When Grandpa got older he found his part Comanche wife from Rising Star. Her name was Carrie. Grandma’s had lots of kids back in those days ‘cause they needed kids to work the land. Grandpa and Grandma settled way out north of Cisco on a section of land suitable for farming and grazing cattle. Cisco was barley a town with less than 1000 people. But do you know what? Back in those days, ranchers from Texas drove over 3,000,000 (that’s million folks) cows [there were bulls, too] all the way up to Kansas! By the time Grandpa had his ranch, he took them to Armor Packing Company in Fort Worth. All the cows were Hereford – white-faced and red in color.
Armor Packing Company had a goat that lived in the cow-lot. It was named Judas. A long narrow chute went from the cow-lot up about 2-3 stories high, probably 20-30 feet. The cows hated to go up so Judas would start toward the chute while the ranch-hands gently herded them toward Judas. As Judas started walking up the chute, the cows followed – slick as a whistle. When they got to the top, old Judas moved off to the side and they hit the cows (in Greek it’s βοῦς) right in the middle of the head and killed them. Then they pulled the dead cow or cows by the legs and cut ‘em open so people could eat ‘em. Judas was red-headed. I don’t know what being red-headed had to do with it, but nevertheless he was.
Fortunately, the oil company struck oil and then natural gas. So Grandpa had three oil wells and two gas wells. Lone Star Gas Company came by every now and then and got the gas or turned some wheels and sent it to the refinery. Grandpa was allowed to use some of it to put in his old car. Since it was unrefined, it blew black smoke all the way to kingdom come. All this made him a rich man, but no one knew what rich meant and nobody cared anyway. I don’t think people were trying to keep up with the Jones’ in Grandpa’s day and besides the Jones’ would just refinance and everybody would have to refinance or upgrade again.
Every night Grandpa would listen to radio preachers by putting his ear real close to the sound and turning up the radio all the way so loud that all of us had to go into the kitchen. It hurt our ears. Unfortunately, Grandpa contributed a great deal of money to a guy named Dan Gilbert, “Bibles for Prisoners,” of Upland, Caleefarnya. Daddy said it was about $63,000 back in the ‘50s. That’s like a half of million today. Grandpa really wanted to help prisoners get Bibles. Grandpa listened to ol’ Dannyboy Gilbert over the Del Rio, Texas radio station. The radio was powered by a car battery and kept charged by the wind-charger outside. The wind-charger was kinda like those big ones out in the deserts of California, but smaller. [The ones in California make people feel good. It boosts their self-esteem and we sure need that in California.] Grandpa’s heart was right, but ol’ Dannyboy was a crook holding himself out as a preacher of sorts. He was into gettin’ chained down by hookers and was found dead in a sleazy motel somewhere close to Los Angeles. Grandpa gave a lot of money to the Nazarene Church, too – and to the Methodists.
Daddy was the new young pastor of the Nazarene Church when the Great Santa Claus Bank Robbery took place in 1927. It’s written in history books and Daddy told me all about it. One of the robbers dressed up like Santa Claus which made it perfect because it was sometime close to Christmas. It seemed like people had a kind of innocence about them especially in small towns so this robber-Santa walked down the street making everybody happy. His other bad guys were waiting around while he went into the bank. In today’s dollars, they got over $2,000,000. The thing that got their goat and made them lose the money outside of town was a couple of good ‘ol Texas boys with guns who shot one of the robbers in the arm – or someplace – and caused them to hightail it out of town. It produced one of the largest manhunts in the State of Texas even to this day. Unfortunately, the Santa Claus robber killed the police chief. Since it was Christmas time, the following Sunday a church member dressed up like Santa and entered the service. A little boy in the church was scared and yelled out, “Santa Clause, why did you rob our bank?”
When Grandma died, Grandpa started giving all eight of his kids, my mom included, a thousand dollars each Christmas. Uncle Earl had passed away with carbunkles and “Aunt” Tince’s mother got killed by lightning and her daddy couldn’t take care of her so she came to live with Grandpa and Grandma and grew up as one of the sisters to my mama. That’s why we called her Aunt Tince. Her real name is Oleta and she’s really my cousin. Grandpa included Uncle Earl’s family and Aunt Tince when he gave away money. Back in the mid to late ‘40s, $9,000.00 was a lot of money; in fact, it was something like $100,000.00 in today’s money. Why, a first class stamp only cost three cents back then. So, Grandpa gave away $100,000.00 each year from the mid ‘40s to 1965 when he kicked the bucket. My mom got $2,000.00 per year (about $25,000 per year in today’s dollars) because Grandpa wanted to give my folks more since Mama and Daddy left their church to help Grandma when she was sick.
Grandpa had all the kids draw straws as to what property they were to inherit. Mama got the 160 acres from which we herded the cattle to go to Armour Packing Company. Mama’s property had two gas wells and two oil wells on it, but those weren’t included with the property because the mineral rights were all put together and divided among all the kids equally. Lone Star Gas Company was notified and so was the oil company. I still don’t know what happened to the money or who has it now. When oil prices were low, Aunt Ila was getting it. When prices went up …; who knows? Maybe the State Railroad Commission has it, or Aunt Ila’s kids.
Aunt Ila got the 80 acres that the old home place sat on and she didn’t want it so Daddy and Mama bought it. That meant my folks owned 240 acres of the thousand or so acres total.
This brings me to the year of our Lord 1938 when I was born on Third Street in a brick house on a WPA brick street. The WPA was created in the ‘30s as a part of The New Deal, FDR’s gradual injection of socialism into our collective consciousness. WPA stood for Works Progress Administration. Keep that word in mind as you analyze the use of that word (or the word Progressive) into today’s vernacular and political philosophy. Little by little the leftists have chloroformed the public into accepting socialism (liberalism and progressivism) as a political philosophy changing the free market and the Constitution. The WPA was based on doing good, as all leftists purport to do using the labor movement and front organizations to do their bidding telling the people to look forward to transcendental good times creating jealousy among the populace toward anyone who had more than they did.
Times were tough in 1938, however, for almost everyone – 19% real unemployment (they didn’t calculate unemployment back in those days like they do now – they told the truth), Hitler rattling his swords as Neville Chamberlain appeased him, and forty foot waves hit the East coast leaving thousands homeless or dead. [Where is global warming when you need it?]
FDR had taken over as president in 1933 during the depression. By 1938 when I was born the economy was about ready to sink again. We mustn’t let that happen. Bad for politics. We gotta have another war, one that will really produce a lot of economic activity. Hitler was pulling his chain across Europe and so we kicked our allies to the curb hoping they had the strength to solve their own problem – they didn’t; FDR delayed! Over two hundred thousand young Americans died in the European sector. And then he delayed again for about three days so Japan could bomb Hawaii – there’s some evidence to that. Almost 200,000 American military died in the Pacific sector of the war. Only a Democrat could get away with putting all those Japanese people in prison camps in America and still be called a hero. Democrats can lie, cheat and steal and no one will call them to task, not even the Republicans; they’re too busy trying to figure out which media person will love them the most.
Yes, FDR had created the WPA that built all those brick streets in Cisco, all over Texas and everywhere else. He gave us The New Deal with soup, and the American voter sold our soul for porridge, building on the blocks of leftover socialism bequeathed by Woodrow Wilson, trying his best to create utopia, or in other words, a socialist government expansion. To a degree, it worked like a “suckerfish” on the American public because he retained power from 1933 to 1945; four election cycles. This was before the Democrats (along with some Republicans) passed a law making sure that no president could serve more than two terms. Even the Democrats were concerned about America becoming a dictatorship.
Before FDR kicked the bucket, he and Churchill and Joseph Stalin had a meeting ushering in The Cold War lasting over the next 40 years until President Reagan told Gorbachev, “Tear down this wall.” As a result of FDR’s compromise (Oh, we can give him the standard excuse that he was sick!), which denied General George Patton the ability to clean up Stalin and Communism, 90 million (90,000,000) people were slaughtered under the sword of Communism. Unfortunately he passed on to glory (or somewhere) a little too soon for his wife to take over leaving it to Harry Truman. Harry dropped the atomic bomb on Japan in 1945.
Regardless of what was happening in the outside world, those were happy days for me. Our whole Parmer family was in Cisco except Aunt Ila. She had run away with a hometown boy, J.T. Cook, who wanted to be a movie star and musician so they moved to Hollywood and New Jersey. New Jersey?
MartinLuther – no, not THAT Martin Luther – MartinLuther, my brother, came in the back door one day after riding his bike somewhere. Don’t know what happened, but Mama grabbed him and spanked him while NanthaLee, my sister, and I looked on. Kids got spanked back then. I just remember it scared me to death and I almost wet my pants. Life was too good for something like that. Mama was gentle and kind. Why would she do that? Joanna (MartinLuther’s daughter and my niece) says it was because he ripped his pants. I think this was about the beginning of year 1942 before I turned 4.
The church board met at our house (?), the parsonage, from time to time and always at night. They would talk about stuff, eat cake and drink coffee. All us kids ran around in the front yard chasing lightening bugs (Is that what they’re called?). We placed the lightening bugs on our fingers and it looked like we had diamond rings on. We ran and played and laughed. Oh how happy we were.
Well, it was time to move … the Methodist tradition, the one that ol’ John Wesley put in place when he came over here from England to Savanah, Georgia. He kind of demanded that all pastors should move every 2 years. We weren’t even Methodists although our church was launched out of Methodism, kinda. Daddy pastored the Cisco church for 14 years and everybody loved him. They wanted him to stay on til the Lord came but since the Lord hadn’t come yet we moved. Nope, preachers were supposed to move. The powers that be kept up the pressure so we finally moved to Borger, Texas. I was about four.