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 Lois and George Williams

George Howell Williams, son of William Stanifer and Minnie Alice Anderson Williams, was born in Oklahoma Territory. He came to New Mexico in 1907 at the age of six months in a covered wagon to a "dugout" sixteen miles from Lovington. Lois Muncy, daughter of Harvey Lee Muncy and Cora Bell Gill Muncy came to New Mexico from Slidell, Texas, on a train in 1907 to a homestead south of Artesia, New Mexico. The Williams' were ranchers. The Muncy's were farmers. Both mother and daddy went to school in Artesia. They were married in 1923. They moved to the ranch in the sand country below the Caprock when she married George Williams in 1923. At the ranch mother cooked for all the hands on a wood stove. The water at Cedar Lake was gippy so they drank rain water from a cistern. They put salt in the water to kill the wiggle tail bugs. It was terrible. Mother said she had been used to bountiful tables of food. Grandmother Muncy had big gardens and canned all summer. They had chickens, pork and beef. All Grandpa Williams bought for the ranch was the same-frijole beans, dried apricots, canned tomatoes, corn and potatoes. There were chickens, but to cook them you had to go out catch them, wring their necks and dress them which is a big job for a big bunch. (I didn't have chicken very often L.M.W.)

Since we had no ice the beef was wrapped in a tarp during the day and unwrapped and hung on the windmill at night to get cool. The wrappings were to keep heat and flies away from the meat. It didn't always work - you just cut out the bad and cooked the rest. One time a ranch hand asked Grandpa Williams, "Colonel, why didn't you cook more rice in with this meat? It is really good." Grandpa didn't answer but did stare at the man in sheer amazement.

We lived at Maljamar, an oil field camp when I was five. Daddy worked in the oil fields. We moved into Artesia when I started to school. My parents had bought a home there and were very comfortable. Mother had her first washing machine - always before the rub board was the way. We didn't have an electric refrigerator but a new icebox which everyone was using. Mother had a new car. Then the depression hit with a bang! It was terrible. No work and no jobs.

Grandpa Williams gave Daddy a job at the ranch for $75.00 a month. We moved to Maljamar and lived there for some time (it was near the ranch on top of Caprock).

When I was little and lived at Maljamar on the ranch it seemed to me that it was always too hot or too cold. In the summer the big wood ranges were fired up and the kitchen was unbearable. Even in the winter the kitchen was too hot. At the ranch there was a bathroom but no heat. You could use it during the summer but in the winter it would freeze. At Maljamar we did have natural gas but no insulation and no bathroom. The only place that was warm was around the stove. We would go from that intense heat to ice cold bedrooms and get into a bed piled so high with covers one could hardly turn. One night there was a drop to 20° below. Mother said the bed covers were frozen from their breath.

In the summers at the ranch, I used to get my dog and go out in the well house. It had a big cement trough that cold windmill water ran through all the time out into the watering tank outside. This was where we put the milk, eggs, and butter. It was the only cool spot in my world in the summer - the well house.

I was constipated all the time I was a child and I think it was because I hated to run to the outhouse or "privy". They were always a long way from the house to keep the flies away. In summer it smelled something terrible. It was hot and always working alive with spiders and flies. In winter it was really something to go out and pull down your pants and long underwear and bare your bottom to the cold. You did not do much sitting.

We all bathed in No.2 tin tubs. The water had to be heated on the stove, poured into tub and after your bath carried outside to be thrown out. Mother washed on the rub board for a long time. Grandpa Williams got a May tag machine with a motor since there was no electricity. The water had to be heated on stove - and two tubs of rinse water filled by bucket. The clothes had to be ironed with sad irons. These were heated by a big fire on the stove which I feel sure is the reason they were called SAD IRONS!

Meantime back in town things were different - electricity, electric refrigerators, lights, gas. Both my grandmothers were sending their laundry to a pick up and deliver laundry service. I am trying to say that my young childhood was spent in the country with the same inconveniences as the pioneers had.

I rode the bus to school in Lovington which was just 25 miles to town by road but we went into every ranch that had children and opened all the wire gates. Luckily, I was little so did not have to open them. The bus had no heater and as the roads were not paved we had a lot of car trouble and flat tires. At the best it was a two-hour drive. I left before daylight and got in after dark.

It sounds as if my young childhood was all bad but it was not. I loved the men and the cook on the ranch. Grandpa had about ten men working on the ranch headquarters. I liked to go out and watch the men saddle up in the morning. They were all breaking horses so it was a rodeo every day. Someone was always taking me in a pickup to feed and check livestock. I looked forward to lambing season. Grandpa usually had 20 to 30 men working with the lambing. The lambing sheds were built in a square with stalls where they kept the ewes ready to lamb.

In one corner of the sheds was a room with a stove where the men stayed. In the center of the pens they kept the ewes that were close to lambing. They would ride the pasture twice a day and bring in the heavy ewes to the lambing pen. There is nothing sweeter than a new lamb!

During the depression after President Roosevelt got in, he had a program to cut down on the number of cattle in the country. There was a terrible drought - the days of the awful dust bowl in Oklahoma - and here too. Beef was dirt cheap but the depression was at its worst. The government men came and for $5.00 per cow clubbed to death hundreds of cattle. I don't know why they didn't shoot them (too expensive, I suppose L.M.W.). I was there that day and it was terrible. No one could use the meat and people were hungry. (I want to add that on that night we had a big rain - lightning and thunder. I shivered in my bed and said to myself, "This is the vengeance of the Lord," L.M.Wl.

One spring at the ranch we sheared the sheep early and had a big hail storm. The ewes were bare as could be and died in piles - about 2,500. It was horrible. Little lambs standing by dead and bloated ewes. Grandpa Williams had the lambs brought in to headquarters, feeders built with rows of nipples on spouts. Everyone on the ranch worked with them and that fall he sold 1,700 lambs. (George and I had a small bunch - maybe around two hundred and we lost half of them. L.W.l.

After the economy began to pick up, Daddy was doing everything he could to improve our living. He bought trucks and hauled hay, had horses working on a highway to Artesia. As soon as the oil fields opened up again, he worked a twelve hour tower and took care of outside business. All time I was growing up people were telling me that Daddy was going to kill himself working. 1 took it to be a fact. He bought the Penn ranch when I was in High School. He worked every day in oil fields and took care of the ranch with one cowboy. We moved back to Artesia built a new home when I was in the ninth grade.

My parents moved back to the ranch in 1943.

Grandmother Williams had divided the ranch among her children.

Daddy sold the ranch in 1973. He retired to just raising and racing his horses. At 72 he still works from "can to can't" every day. People are still telling me it is going to kill him. I told Mother she is the only great grandmother down at the race track to see that things are going all right. Until Daddy retired from ranching, mother had managed the running of their stables.

Their life can be summed up "Oh can you see, by the dawn's early light." They have been there, enjoying every minute of their 55 years together.


(Submitted by: Georgia Lee Williams Cunningham)


 


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