Our Old Farm Home

This picture is of the Neil and Zorene Thompson family’s farm home, northwest of Pecos, Texas. When it came to me recently it brought a flood of memories, and the question, “Why haven’t I seen this before”? Surely someone in our family took it? But it came from another family—the Rodriguez family.

Francisco (“Chico”) and Rosa Rodriguez brought their family to live and work on our farm the first year we lived here—1939. (Chico was always full of stories and advice for RayMack, as he called me, and I have always thought of him as an uncles—mi tio!) They had several children and we all grew up together. Before we had a school bus, mother took their kids and my sister Barbara and I to school and back every day—we two to the Anglo school and their kids to the Mexican school. Chico and his family stayed with us for many years, but moved to New Mexico in 1948. The Rodriguez family returned to Pecos in 1951. Chico passed away in 1979, but Rosa and some of her younger children still lived in Pecos when my wife Avalyn and I visited them in October of 1997, while in Pecos to attend the 50-year reunion of my Pecos High School graduating class. While visiting, Rosa told us that she had a picture of our old farm. A few weeks later her daughter Janie sent it to me. In a follow-up letter, Janie wrote that Rosa remembers the picture was taken by “Mr. Neil” and given to Chico at the time, but she doesn’t remember the date.

I have queried my sister Barbara about Rosa’s picture but she doesn’t remember it either. (Most likely mother took this, with the old Kodak box camera we used for many years. The only other picture we have of this old home is a small fuzzy snapshot, somewhere.) This picture is a rarity because of the white stuff covering the landscape, not a very common sight in Pecos! But the picture is a special treasure simply because Barbara and I have always been so proud we lived here! Also, I think, because with our parents and grandparents gone, we are the only ones left to remember and reminisce about it. But, we forgot about the Rodriguez family!

We moved from the big city of Lubbock, Texas to Pecos in 1938. (We arrived on my birthday, July 3rd.) We lived with grandmother and grandad M.L. Todd in town for about a year—then we moved here. (The M.L. Todd’s are part of Pecos history, recognized as the founders of the Pecos cantaloupe industry, which also became our family’s livelyhood.) Grandad purchased this property from a Mrs. Grissom. Our nearests neighbor to the south west was Mr. Brooks, to the west were Bessie and Harold Wendt, and a good distance to the north was Haley Bryan.

We were really city kids come to the country! Looking back, we realize that this move was a stressful time for mother and dad, as they left good jobs to the uncertain life of a farm family. However, Barbara and I thought it was an exciting adventure. Why we were practically pioneers living in a log cabin! I think we were just the right ages (6 and 8) to adapt. It wasn’t a log cabin, but it was pretty primitive for we city kids. At first we had no running water, no indoor toilets, and no electric lights. We used coal-oil lamps and hauled drinking water from town; it was stored in a tar-lined barrel on the back porch. Mother bathed Barbara and I standing in a washtub in the kitchen, and we learned about outdoor toilets. Soon, daddy built and erected a water tower (seen just over the barn) so that we had “hard water” piped in and a shower for baths. A Windcharger (on small tower) was installed early, just to run our radio! By the time this picture was made daddy had also installed a Kohler light plant that gave us electricity. I can just make out the little house he built for this state-of-the-art gasoline generator. (Noting these details, my best guess is that this picture was made in the Winter of 1940 or 1941.)

Before I graduated from high school (1947) daddy built us a wonderful new house on this same home site and the old house in this picture was torn down. Barbara and I lived in the “new” farm house until we both went off to college. Several years later mother and dad sold the farm and moved into town. They became “city folks” again, and the city was home to Barbara and I when we were home from college and after I was in the service. Barbara and John Coleman were married in our Pecos city home. In December 94, after mother’s funeral in Pecos, all of our family drove out to the old homestead. The “new” farm house was still standing, and we took a picture in front of it. But—this “old” farm home is still where the fond memories of our pioneer days are stored!
Ray Mack Thompson (12/21/97)