Note: Family Bible is with Johnnie Wesley Linder's wife Ruth Personal knowledge of children on sheet Partial History of Johnnie Wesley Linder as told by Himself July 11, 1999 The following was transcribed from a cassette and is exactly as spoken by Johnnie without making corrections as to grammar. Johnnie passed away on the 14th , three days later and was unable to finish. This is suppose to be the story of my life for whatever it's worth to anybody. I was born in May 1, 1918, and it was near a little town called Bristow, Oklahoma. That is, a farming community and I knew nothing else until 1935 when I left Oklahoma. I was born to a very dysfunctional family, thought we didn't know what dysfunctional meant back then. One incident that I don't remember, my mother told me about, was when I was about two and a half or three years old, I had pneumonia and they just about lost me. We worked out in the field in the farm all of the time. And she had put on a pot of black-eyed peas to cook when we were working on an old wood stove. And I could, I guess I could smell those peas cooking, and I guess I was hungry, she said that they had been feeding me very light meals, very light liquid food. And she says she came in, and here I was up on a chair. I had pushed a chair over and got up on the chair and was eating fist-fulls of those black eyed peas with the hog fat in 'em. 'Cause I guess I was hungry. She says she was shocked and amazed that I could do that while being so young. As I said I don't remember, but mom told me several times about my eating the hog fat and black-eyed peas out of the pot with my fist full. Ruthie Crandall in background asks, "Did you say your name?" Oh, I got a name. I was born, my mother gave me a name of Johnnie Linder. She said it was for her uncle Johnny McNew, but she didn't know how to spell it I guess because it ended up before I went to school as Johnnie instead of Johnny like so many other boys were named. I don't remember too much about my childhood until I was about five or six years old. That's when we had moved to an old place with an old house about 12 miles north of Bristow, a farm of course. My dad was a cattle buyer; he always dealt in cattle, one way or another. He was also an alcoholic and a drunkard. I hope no one ever has to live under these conditions. When I was four and five years old, and my sister younger than me was three or four, we were both cotton tops, white headed, and when dad'd come in drinking, he loved to chase us out into the cotton field. And after he'd run us out into the cotton fields, only he'd just pretend he was running, and we were scared so we ran out there and hid, until mom would call us to come back into the house. When I was about five and half to six, I hadn't started school yet. The older children which was four of 'em, I was number five of six kids, they started school at another place where they lived and then they started school in this Liberty school house which was about three or four miles from where we lived. I never started to school until I was about seven, my birthday being May 1, and school didn't start until September or August. Being in a farm community you went to school about the first six weeks from August to mid September and then you was out to help gather the crops of cotton and corn and anything else that was raised. I started to pick cotton when I was about five years old and milking cows when I was seven. It was all kind of fun at the time just to prove that I could milk and I could pick cotton, which today wouldn't be so much fun. My older brothers and sisters were Lenora was the oldest and then Fred, then Omer, and then Helen, that's four, and then me, then Fanny. We had I guess fun together as much as a farm people and country kids could have. My older brother was kind of protective of me, and he would, he would get me on a horse when I was about four years old. I noticed I could ride before I could walk very good. I know when I was about five I was suppose to dry the dishes for Helen and he sneaks me out on a horse and we went horseback riding. Well, when we returned, my mother was waiting with a switch, and before I got off the horse I got switched on the seat because I had run off. It was kind of funny, I guess, the way it turned out. But, that didn't stop Fred from sneaking me out ever so often and riding horses. I got to back up a little bit. I was almost born on a horse. My dad had gone to Amarillo, Texas and to various places and bought the cattle and had them shipped in to Bristow. And there was a lot of corrals there to receive the cattle off of the rail boxcars. My mother was riding and handling the cattle to pasture 'em and she was on the horse three days before I was born, and probably the next day after I was born she was back on the horse because the cattle had to be moved. So I was almost born on a horse. When I was about six or seven, around six, I hadn't started school yet, then dad, my brothers had broken up an old shack about a mile away, and they had left the axe there. They made up something or other; they had me go down there by myself to get the axe. And I was coming back, there's a few acres of young trees there, almost a forest, and as I was coming back with the axe on my shoulder and saw this two black people. One of them come running out hollering they was gonna get me, and I laid the axe up on my hands and I was gonna fight 'em. And Helen started hollering "Johnnie, don't hit me with the axe, it's me Helen." And the other one was my older sister Lenora, but they never did pull that stunt again. That's just an incident in my life (Ruth Linder in the background) "The lightning, on the horse and lightning." Another incident happened when I was a little older, then riding a horse down to a neighbors. And it happened to be the road I was riding on was in between phone lines, I mean, yeah, phone lines on one side, electric lines on the other side, and it come up a storm. The lightning flashed and I could feel electricity and the horse he'd tremble and jerk, 'cause the animals kind of draw electricity. So I got out in the, as much as I could, in the middle of the road as far away from each of the wire lines as I could and then tried to out run the storm. But I've felt lightning quite a few times when I was on a horse riding, either horse back, or bare back or with a saddle. It seems that the animals do draw lightning flashes and lightning hits. It tingles you could feel, I could feel the horse shimmer and shake, but I was never on one when it got lightning struck. It was just a� yeah, there was cases of animals getting struck by lightning out in the pasture. But thank the Lord I never was on one when it got struck. We'll go back to this little two-room schoolhouse called Liberty. There was, they held church meetings in it, and they held Christmas parties in it. I don't know what else, but I was at this Church (schoolhouse) on Christmas Eve with my family and I was, I hadn't started school, so I was still under seven years old, five and a half to six. Then there was a constable out of Olive, Oklahoma where the schoolhouse was built that I went to later. But he was the constable, he was the bus driver, he was just an old man trying to get by. And there was a rowdy kids all right, and the families that were wild and rough and mean. And this one boy was about 15 or 16 was there that night and he started riling the constable, he told him he was gonna take his gun off of him. And the constable told him he better not, he better stay clear. "Nah, I'm gonna take that gun off of you." And he went towards him. The constable drew his gun and told him to stop, and he didn't stop, and the constable shot him, through the side. And I heard the shot, but I didn't actually see him fall. I was about probably thirty feet from where this happened, it happened on the porch of this schoolhouse, the front porch. And I was scared. I was a fraidy cat most of my life. I didn't like violence; I had seen an awful lot of it. I saw, after I was going to school two or three years my dad, he always was picking, really picking fights with neighbors, or anybody, and this was after we moved up to what we called the old home place. It was a big white house, a big red barn, and it had a storm cellar. We lived there for quite a number of years, it was there, that's where I started school, at Olive Oklahoma. I rode the bus; it was about six and a half to seven miles. There was a time when the storms came by, came through, lightning, thunder and hail, wind, and the other thing this house had on it was lightning rods. Which was a good thing, because if lightning struck the house it would burn a hole in it about a foot around and the lightning rods took the lightning bolt and run it into the ground. The people that had, our neighbors, had to come almost up through our yard, the road came through there from their place. And then went on out to the main road that took you out either to Drumright or Sapulpa, Bristow, Manford. And Dad had had some words with the neighbor and the owner of the neighbor's property, named Dicks, and they came up there to open the gate to go through and dad wouldn't let them open the gate. So they turned around and went back and got a couple of clubs and someone else, I don't remember who else, and they came back. This Art Dicks said, "John, what the hell's the matter with you?" and dad said, "You can't come through here, these people have left the gate open and let my cows out." I don't know whether they did or not, but that's what he told 'em, that's why he was angry with 'em. So, he said, "Well, we're gonna come through, if we have to beat you." to dad. And so the fight started. My oldest brother, he came out of the house and he took the little guy named Van Meeter, he took him on and fairly whipped him good. And dad was fighting this Art Dicks and he, I don't know how, but he ended up with a club in his hands, and Art Dicks, him and the other man that was there, they got in the old car and turned around and went the other way. Then they brought a charge against my dad for trying to keep them from getting out of their property. I don't know what the ramifications of the law is, I don't know what it was then. But they did have a trial and dad was cleared, I don't know why. I just grew; I remember an incident or two before we moved to this old home place. All of us still down below. One morning, or rather afternoon, mom and dad came out of the timber up there with a fresh cow and new calf. And Fanny and I we run on up there full of curiosity and asked where did they get that little calf. And mom being the kind of prude that she was I guess, or something, says, "Oh, she dug it up out there. " Fanny and I went and got our shovels and hoe and we went out to dig up some calves. That was so funny, after� (Mike Crandall in background asks) "What was your age?" �Our age was less than six and about four. And that's the way mom was, anytime anything would come up with sex, why, it was very prudently and very rudely dismissed, she didn't mince any words about it. (Ruth Linder in background says) "That's the way she was raised." What? (Ruth repeats above) Yes, yeah, yep. After we moved up to the old home place, and I was about eight years old or so. Fred and Omer had taken the wagon and team and gone over to the big pasture to get wood, and Fred had left without his cap. As usual, when these boys came in the cap would go one way and they'd go the other. Then when they got ready to go somewhere they couldn't find the cap. Mom had found it and so she'd made me get on the horse and go over to the big pasture and to take the cap. Well, I was scared of the forest, what, wolves was probably the most vicious animal in there besides snakes or coyotes and stuff. So I took the cap and I went up through the lane over into the big pasture and I got lost. I didn't know which way was which except that there was kind of hot headed clouds up there and I, as I said I was scared, and I hollered to "God, show me the way home." and I started crying. And it sounded like a voice come out of the clouds and said, "Johnnie, turn lose the reigns, the horse will take you home." I turned lose the reigns and the horse just trotted right on back to familiar territory, and then I got mad at the horse and told the horse that he was the one that got me lost. That was so silly. I did a lot of silly things back then. (Ruth Linder in background) "You was five or six, it was just childish" A big bank of sand down below the lane where it went into the big pasture, and the creek when it would rain would wash a lot of sand and there was about a 10 foot bluff there. And I would run and jump off of that bluff down into the sand and it would hurt my leg when I did. But I'd do it because I liked to do it. I liked to climb trees and ride horses and jump off of bluffs� (Ruth in background) "And front porches. �Yeah, and front porches, but I didn't know any better than to do that when my leg was degenerating in the hip. So I did all of those things which really I shouldn't have done. But I didn't know any better. I jumped out of the hayloft down on the ground. To me it was a way up there; it probably was no more than 10 feet. I, before I talked about me being born on a horse, and my mother told me, told all of us, that she was riding around the pasture, and she saw this black man watching her and she was scared of him. And it happened about three days, three times, and he was probably just looking at mother afraid that she was gonna get hurt or something, the neighbor knew that she was riding and herding the cows. But she saw him this day and it was unnerving to her, so she took out her little gun, a 32 pistol that dad had given to protect herself with. And just as this man went over the bank to get down to the creek, why she shot at him. And, of course she missed him. I say of course, because I don't think that she was really aiming at him. She just wanted to scare him. And I expect he got scared when he heard that bullet singing through the tree limbs. That's just one of the things that happened before I was born. The following addendum is from notes taken by oldest daughter Ruthie Crandall after a conversation with Johnnie about his life. When dad was four years old his first memory is of working in the fields. One day he and Uncle Omer sneaked off to pitch horseshoes and saw that their house was on fire. Grandma and Grandpa were asleep inside and they ran to get them out. They lost everything except what they were wearing. This is a shame for those of us who are trying to do genealogy as all Linder family history up to that time was in a trunk in that house and it all burned up. The family moved into one of Grandpa Morgans' rental houses temporarily. But soon moved into one of their own as Grandpa Linder had a great desire to be independent. They spent their Christmas's with Grandma and Grandpa Morgan. Dad says Grandma Morgan was a "Princess of a woman" and all ways made their Christmas a wonderful time. Being at Grandpa Morgans' was their first experience of indoor plumbing. Dad remembers going with his father and brother to take a load of hay into town by horse and wagon. This was an all day job, and they brought a load of hulls back as well as a little red wagon for dad. This was his Christmas present for that year. Dad started school when he was age seven as there was no kindergarten and you had to be seven to start first grade. Dad went though his sophomore year at this school. One time he and some other boys were giving the teacher a hard time, she threatened to send them to the principal. The principal was outside the door and said, "I will take them now." When he got them all in his office he told them "If you want a whipping go outside and cut a switch and I will use it on you. Dad thought about what he said and the "if you want a spanking" stuck out. Well, dad didn't want a whipping and, therefore, didn't cut a switch. When they got back into the principal's office he asked dad why. When dad told him, he carefully hid a smile and then sent him back to class without a whipping. He graduated from the eighth grade in cap and gown. The ninth and tenth grades didn't make much of an impression on him, except he took public speaking and was very good at it. He was chosen to be the M.C. of a school program at another school. Things weren't too good at home and he decided to leave home and moved in with Aunt Helen and her husband Buster. This took place in the depression era when jobs were scarce. When school was out his sophomore year he and Buster and a group of young men decided to head west to try and find work. What they found was a very dry country and no work. They traveled for a month in Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado and then decided to go to Arizona, which they found to have a lot of farm jobs available.
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