Who used to own that place?

By Gerre Joiner | Published Saturday, May 9, 2015

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We had a good visit this afternoon around the coffee cups. Not much was going on except that “Mr. and Mrs. Chico,” Danny and Mo Wells were present. We coffee-shop guys were visiting across the way with the Wells’ when a man entered the restaurant and spoke to Danny.

Gerre Joiner

Gerre Joiner

We introduced ourselves around the table and one of our guys asked the new guy where he lived. He mentioned some landmarks and county road numbers. We were working hard to “find” the place but with not much luck.

I knew what Bobby Wilson was thinking. (I know … that’s not always a good thing.) He was thinking, “Who used to own that place?”

I’ve seen this scenario many times. Someone will be “giving directions” to a certain rural place while the rest of us try to figure out where the place is. Others of us (the old timers who have lived here forever) are trying to figure out who owned the place 30 or 40 years ago.

I finally asked the stranger, “Is it close to Jackie Boyd’s place?” He said it was about a mile past Jackie’s place. Bobby and James Stutt knew immediately who used to own the place. The new guy has lived there for a long time. The surname of the “used-to-be” owners (25 years ago) was not familiar to him.

We sold our family farm a few years ago. The memories that were made there and the lessons that were learned there still live with me.

  • I learned to drive on the turn rows of that farm.
  • I buried some mighty good dogs near the barn on that farm.
  • I learned to work there.
  • I’ll never forget the day I walked across a listed field on that farm to tell my dad that my brother, Joe, and his family had been in a terrible automobile accident.
  • I learned to stay with the job until the work’s done.
  • I learned what a family looks like when it’s pulling in the same direction.
  • I learned what a farmer does when his cotton crop gets hailed out.
  • Some of them (like my dad) went to bed early on the day of the storm.
  • Some of them (like my dad) went to the bank the day after the storm and arranged for funding for more cotton seed.
  • Some families (like mine) waited until conditions were right to plant again … and cultivate again … and reap the harvest that comes when everyone works together.
  • I learned that when one family member is going through a rough patch, the others do what they can to make things better.
  • I learned that when times are good (good crop, good price), a farmer gets paid well. A smart farmer (like my dad was) resists the urge to spend it all.

One day when I was a child, my parents were out at the farm. (Mother worked like a man in the early days of making the Johnson Grass patch into a cotton farm.) My dad said to my mother, “If we’re going to educate our children, we need to drill some water wells.”

They agreed to do so.

They risked losing the entire place so that they could operate an irrigated farm and educate their children. Sixty years later, my degree from Texas Tech is one of 17.

I kind of hope in 30 years, someone still calls it “The Joiner place.” It shares a turn row with the Marlar place and the Taylor place.

Gerre Joiner is a semi-retired church musician and has lived in Decatur since 1999.

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