Friday, June 29, 2012

Memories Back Then

Memories by Donald D Pointer  9-28-07
In Memory of Staff SGT Wayne Harvey Pointer
SGT Wayne Harvey Pointer
US Army Air Force
May 21, 1918 - March 14, 1943

   I remember when my dad used to drag roads for the county. The county furnished the road drag and dad furnished the power and the operator. Four head of horses was the power. The road that went by our place on the west wasn't a mile square like most were in that area.  It was one and a quarter mile  long and a mile wide. Dad didn't drag the full square but went north a quarter of a mile turned left at the old Hientz place and drug a mile west then turned south and drug to the next corner which was a mile and a quarter. There he turned around and went back the same way because it took two drags to cover the road. Those old road drags pulled real hard and the horses had to be rested pretty frequently. If I remember right it took them about all day. That would be over five miles of dragging and then another half mile to and from our house. The roads at that time were all dirt no gravel. The horses would be pretty tired and wet with sweat after that job was completed.
Harvey Pointer Home Farm - 5 miles Northeast of Collins, Iowa

   I remember brother Harold dragging after dad died but I don't think he drug long because it was about that time that they graveled the Collins to Rhodes road and probably the county took over the road dragging.  The first road drag that the county furnished was an all steel drag which had a lever to adjust the pitch, which was almost useless, and also had a seat, but it was too light and dad had rocks on it for weight. They replaced it with a drag made out of about three inch by eighteen inch wood bridge plank with metal cutter blades on the bottoms and about seven feet long and it didn't need any weight on it because it was one heavy sucker. The horses were hooked four abreast (abreast means side by side).The old saying is that a dog is man's best friend and I do love dogs, but I would have to put horses right in there with them because they would have been unable to establish and settle the midwest and the west without horses. At least it would have taken longer.  Also before trains horses were the only sourse of overland transportation, except oxen which were strong pullers but were slower and they had no way of holding back on a load like on a wagon. Horses harness had what we called a britchen. It went around their lower buts and was strapped up under their belly and ended up being hooked to the neck yoke (which was the cross piece between the two horses which held the wagon tongue  up  which guided and controlled the wagon, damn this is getting complicated) our farm wagons had no brakes and were completey controlled by the horses. I am not sure that horses have been given the recognition and credit that they really deserve. At home we liked our horses and treated them and fed them well, curried them, combed their manes, kept their foretops and hoofs trimmed. I am sorry to say that not all farmers treated their horses that well.
Wayne with the horses -  Jim, Joe, Pearl, John
   I need to talk about John the horse more. I guess he was about four years old when I was born. And Mom said they raised him on a bottle like any bottle fed baby. I don't know what happened to his mother evidently she died soon after he was born. And as a result he thought almost like a human. One of the things that he would do when I was riding him was gallop full bore and he had a way of turning sideways and stopping on the spot and of course me a little kid riding bareback I would fly through the air and land with a thud. I usually would get ahold of his mane which might slow my flight down a little. Then he would stand there and eat grass looking innocently at me like what are you doing down there. We had an old saddle but he was so round that it just turned on him so that was more dangerous than riding barebacked. Besides that I wasn't tall enough to throw a saddle on him. Another thing that he was good at was if there was a tree with low limbs he would walk under the limb and scrape me off leave me hanging on the limb. However through all his mischieviousness he never ran off and the only way I could get on him was that he put his head down and I would lay over his neck then he would raise his head and I would slide down his neck to his back and get a straddle him again. He would always let me to do that. He also was the horse that pulled the buggy that I hauled water to the threshing workers who were in the field. With the burlaped wrapped glass jugs with corn cobs for corks. The burlap was held on the jugs with binder twine and was kept wet so the evaperation helped keep the water cooler. Mom said when he was a colt he got in the house a time or two. He was one smart old horse we grew up together and I still have a lot of fond memories of him. One good thing about him he wasn't very tall so I didn't have very far to fall.
  The first thing that I remember about when the county started dragging the roads they had a World War 1 four wheel drive army truck and it had a blade mounted beneath it just behind the old open cab which didn't have doors on it. The truck had solid rubber tires, no air solid rubber. I don't know how they controlled the blade it may have had some sort of a hydraulic system on it but I rather doubt it. I remember that  it did a lot of spinning jumping and bucking etc. I think as Granpa used to tell me when tried to do something that was more than I could handle, "that it was too light in the poop". I don't think that it was it very successful.   Come to think about it , it was very simular to the maintainers they use today but it took it about thirty years to catch on.
   I have seen my dads name listed as Harve and Harvey. His name actually was Harvey because that is how it is listed on his tombstone and also on the mortgage when he bought the home farm so that should clear that up in case anyone had noticed. When he would find a big bull snake out in the field he would bring it in and turn it loose in the barn. The idea was that they ate rats and mice. They did that all right but it also kept some of the neighbors out of the hay mow when we made hay. A full grown bull snake is about five feet long and two and one half inches in diameter. They are non poisonious but they would strike and bite and the make a sizzling sort of a noise and wiggle their tail like they are trying to imitate a rattle snake. When they get all puffed up and coiled making that rattling sort of noise they were pretty fierce sounding and looking. After dad died the snakes got to getting in the cows feed troughs and the cows wouldn't go in to their stanchions so the older boys whopped them with a pitchfork and tossed them out on the manure pile. I only remember about three snakes that had to be eradicated. One of my greatest joys was to hold a snakes head down with a stick so I could pick him up just behind his head and chase my older brother Glen with it. I had to quit that because he threatened to kill me and probably would have because I couldn't carry a snake around with me all time  Brother Glen was very mean to me he degraded me on any and everything that I ever did and I never ever remember him saying anything good to or about me all criticism. He always acted as if I was a discrace to him, maybe I was. I needed to tell this and I just did. Anyway I could buffalo him if I had a snake in my hand. In later years after he had a stroke he mellowed out and was decent to me. Through the years he had always been stronger than me but after he had a stroke that was no longer true so he just backed off and no longer belittled me at my every turn.
Wayne (Army Air Corps) & Donald (Army)
Taken while they were home for Lester's funeral.
   Now my brother Wayne the one that I have dedicated this writing, or whatever it is to. He started out on me like brother Glen did and one evening after we had milked the cows and were carrying the milk from barn to the house to run it through the cream separator. We got in a squabble so we just set the milk buckets down and went at it. I got in a lucky haymaker swing and hit he square in the face and it knocked him back on the fence he laid on the fence for a while got up spit out a little blood we picked up our milk buckets and carried them to the house. I thought sure he would tell Mom and she would get after me but he didn't. Anyway that ended all of that and we got along fine from then on. Wayne had a twin brother that was still born and he must got some extra energy or whatever from him because he could do twice as much work and in less time than I could. He had stamina that wouldn't quit. He was born on Mom's birthday May 21, 1918. He also had keen eyesight I always had trouble even reading what I had to to get a drivers license and Wayne said he could read the whole chart even the smallest print plus the manufacture of the chart listed on the bottom. Guess that is probably why he was a gunner on a bomber. He had a hip that bothered him and he called it arthritis and walked with a limp but that didn't keep him from working or joining the Army. He volunteered for the Army. Me I was drafted. No one was more surprised than me when I heard that he had voluntarily joined the Army and was in the Army Air Force. The Army Air Force at that time was a branch of The Armed Forces. I guess that he could see no future in staying on that farm for the rest of his life and the opportunity showed up and he grabbed it. It is very sad that it ended costing him his life. The last time that I saw him was when Lester died. The Army gave us both two week furloughs and we came home. I had been in the Army only a short time and was in Camp Bullis Texas taking what the army called Basic Training.  We didn't get home in time to go to Lester's funeral but we got to come home. Brother Forrest was in the Navy at that time and he was around the Aleutian Islands somewhere and was unable to come home. Anyway Wayne was a Sergeant and I was a buck private in the rear rank. I guess that I didn't realize it or time erased it from my memory that in less than six months Wayne went down in a B17 bomber, on which he was a gunner and assistant engineer, in South America on their way to the ETO (European Theater of Operations). Man as I look back those were pretty sad time especially for Mom. They called him missing in action for a year and then declared him dead. Lester was 26 when he died and Wayne was 24.
Wayne and Donald in front of Donald's 1939 Ford.
Possibly the one he borrowed money from Wayne to buy?
   Before I forget it. I forgot to mention the horses names they were from left to right  Jim - Joe - Pearl - John and the dog was Ring. Wayne had a pretty good disposition sorta easy going I would call it. When we used to pick corn by hand there at home we always picked three rows . Wayne picking most of the two rows to my one. I picked the inside row between him and the wagon. However I spent a lot of time recovering from getting hit in the head with a big old hard ear of corn as he threw them into the wagon. Some of them hits seemed to be intentional rather than accidental. Most of them really hurt and I seen lots of stars when I got whopped. Some of his friends called him skiff I don't have any idea where that name came from. He always smoked a pipe and smoked velvet smoking tobacco. He was just a good ole boy. If my memory serves me right I think I borrowed fifty bucks from him to buy my first car and I doubt if I ever paid him back. I was in the CCC camp in Ames then and we weren't supposed to have a car so at least he got to drive it because I had to leave it at home.
Granpa A.O. Williams and Brother Sim 1936
    I think that I will end this up by telling about Granpa Williams chewing tobacco. He chewed plug tobacco called Days Work he used to cut a piece off of that plug with his pocket knife and chew it like it was real good. Years later when I was smoking and chewing tobacco too I remembered the name and bought a plug of Days Work and I couldn't chew it it made me sick. So another guy said give it to me I can chew anything but he found out that he couldn't chew it either so we had to throw it away nobody could chew it. Granpa Williams must have been a tough old guy because he really liked it that Days Work.


  1. Melanie:

    Thanks so much for your hard work in creating this site in memory of your Grandpa Donald Pointer. He was truly a Classic Saint among the Collins businessmen in his work with teenage kids and their newly acquired "freedom" of driving cars.

    I'm a 75 year-old graduate of Pointer's Standard on the northwest corner of Collins. Your Grandpa helped me and several dozen clueless teenagers like me stay out of hot water. He kept us under his wing through our early driving careers until we were mature enough to fly somewhat safely on our own. Other than for gas and oil, I don't think Don ever charged us a dime for all his encouragement and patience in helping keep our old cars "gunning".

    In fact, when I read the last line of the memorial on the bottom of your web page I was moved by "GUNNER SAM". But it also brought up a puzzling memory, and I'll tell you why.

    I was called "Sam Keagle" through high school. To this day I don't know how I acquired that moniker, but everybody had a nickname and Sam was mine.

    Seeing "GUNNER SAM" brought up the question: Was it because I was Sam that your Grandpa always shouted "GUNNER SAM!" each time I peeled away from the station, or did I get the nickname "Sam" from Don Pointer's intonation "GUNNER SAM!" each time ANYBODY peeled away from his station???
    I suspect the latter, because that was always his key admonition: "GUNNER, SAM!"

    Your Grandpa Donald Pointer was indeed one of the benefactors of what made up the "Good Old Days" of Collins, IA. Regards,

    George Keagle

  2. Melanie:

    Come to think about it (after an hour of "stewing")I think your Grandpa's nickname was "Sam". Perhaps some old timers will come up and verify that. "Sam Pointer's Standard Station" strikes a familiar cord in my dotage.

    Geo. Keagle

  3. George....We have wondered the same thing. Where did "Gunner Sam" come from? Or where dad got the nickname "Sam".....That is one thing we forgot to ask. I will check into that!....Lisa