Friday, January 04, 2008

Life History of William Ricketts Smith, Part 2: Measles, School, and Oilfield Life

(Part 1 is here).

There were four of us, my brother Raymond having been born in June 1921, and six of them [Uncle Harold Fox, Aunt Ella, four cousins] in an unfinished house with two bedrooms. To make matters worse, all us kids came down with measles. We pooled our efforts in the spring of 1926 but as fall came we were no better off than we were in the spring, just tireder. My dad got a job in the Midwest oil field and began work about September. We sold all our belongings except our car and clothes and household goods as well as my dad's share of the homestead for a total of about $300.00.

We moved to our oilfield shack at Parkman Camp about three miles south of Midwest, Wyoming. That was the first school I attended where there were more than six students. The school was about 1 1/2 miles west and was also attended by kids from Consolidated Camp. I was accustomed to walking to school about that distance as I had always done so. The first school I attended had barely room for the teacher's desk, the stove and four pupils' desks and the teacher's chair which was used to prop the door shut on windy days. There were three Eastwood kids, Ralph, Earl and Ina and me for a total of four. The teacher (Miss Reynolds) stayed at our house and my dad used to take us in the bobsled sometimes.

I don't remember very much about my life on the homestead, just sketches. We got our drinking water from a spring at our neighbors' place about 1 1/2 miles west. I guess our places joined. Their name was Speilman and we hauled water on a stone-boat in a barrel. There was a place where we dug our coal at Harry's place and Aron Speilman and my family used to get coal together so we had plenty of coal to keep us warm in those Wyoming winters.

I remember one time when a big threshing machine came to our place and threshed our grain. I remember a terrible hail storm and my mother went out to save her little chicks and a hailstone hit her in the back and made a big black and blue mark. I remember a winter day, a bright sunny day, my dad and I went horseback to look after the cattle and we found some of them dead. When I got back to the house, I was standing by the window looking out across the snow and I came to the realization that I was an individual and that someday I would have to die as those cattle had to do and I have never forgotten that day.

(To be continued next Friday)


  1. Ooooh Maurice. Did people call him the space cowboy, or the gangster of love?

  2. You know, Steve Miller wrote that song about him. You're very astute.