Memories of O'Dessa Craig Gurley
Denver Gurley, and O'Dessa Craig Gurley (thatís me), were married in Post, Texas, on April 27, 1936. We moved to Weed, New Mexico in May of the same year to Blue Water Canyon, southwest of the Jess Bell place. Denver bought this place from Floyd Breedlove and paid $600.00 for 137 acres in 1933. Oran George had homesteaded the place in 1911.
When we left Tahoka, Texas we were in a Model A Ford pulling a trailer with furniture, which was not much, our bed and in the very back of the trailer we had our chickens in a coop. When we got to Tatum, New Mexico I saw my first buffalo. There were three or four in a pasture. I had never seen any before.
It took us two days to get to Weed on the dirt roads. We made it to Roswell the first day and spent the night in a little cabin that had running water in a ditch out back. I thought that was really something to see - water running. The next morning we bought our first bill of groceries to set up housekeeping. We had to buy flour, sugar, lard, coffee, salt, pepper, beans, potatoes, salt pork and cornmeal.
I was raised on a dry land farm east of Tahoka, Texas in a cotton patch. My Dad got whoever he could to help clear 160 acres with grubbing hoe and ax, this was in 1915 when my Dad homesteaded in Texas. We had to work hard as kids - picking cotton in the fall, milking cows, hunting the eggs, and working in the garden. All of our Family had to gather the corn in a wagon with a team of mules. We also had to gather peanuts, and sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes, strawberries, apples, and vegetables out of the garden. We had to can everything, you could not go to the store and buy it.
When we got to Blue Water (above the old Cox place) we had a cistern and a dirt tank full of water. We had kerosene lamp for our light. We didn't have a cookstove, but did have a dutch oven and a fireplace. We would put hot coals around the dutch oven and cook our breakfast. Denver and I would fry our bacon and eggs first, then I would make biscuits and cook them in the dutch oven.
One day we went to Weed, and there at a house across from Cordelia Lewisí place, we found us a wood cookstove for $5.00. We bought it from Mr. and Mrs. Alvie Smith.
We had to draw water out of the cistern to wash clothes - having to scrub on the rub board and heat the water in a big black cast iron pot. Then we would boil the white clothes in the pot with lye soap. Our lye soap had to be made, too. When we butchered hogs - you talk about rough times! Denver would kill two hogs in the fall and make our lard and lye soap, and we would have hog meat to last all winter. Denver would use brown sugar cure on the hams, shoulders and the sides of bacon. He trimmed the meat and we ground it up in sausage. I made the sausage sacks from flour sacks by hand - didn't have a sewing machine.
You've never seen such shining clean hair until you have used Lye soap and rain water. Of course, the bath was in a number 3 tub.
Our first neighbors were the Drewey Anderson Family and the Jess Bell Family. Denver raised corn, wheat, and a garden. We got us a milk cow from somebody, I can't remember who. Denver would ride down to the Bell place on horseback and work for a dollar a day.
After all the corn was gathered we would take 50 lbs. up to Dave Gentry's place and he would grind it for us to have cornmeal. We made our own butter and cottage cheese out of the cow milk.
The first fall it was so cold we went back to Texas and picked cotton. Denver traded our Model A Ford to Drewey Anderson for a couple of saddle horses. Glen Gathings and P.G. Anderson took us back to Texas in the car. We rented out our place to Glenn and Delta Gathings. They stayed there and kept our horses until we came back.
Denver and I met Billy Joe Brooks in about 1942 or 43. We sure think a lot of him and Moneen. Billy and Denver drank a lot of coffee and smoked a lot of bull durham tobacco.
We had two children, Sherrell Gurley of Artesia and Wanda Boles of Boles Acres. They both graduated from Weed High School.
After we farmed for years, Denver worked for Homer Sessions in the sawmill at Weed. In the log woods he was foreman of the brush crew. We did a lot of different things to make a living, and we ate a lot of deer meat and wild turkeys. Denver worked on some of the ranches. He really liked his horses, and he was crazy about hunting deer and turkey.
We worked for Lincoln National Forest, setting on the lookout towers (Carrisa, and Blue Water). It use to rain and snow a lot, but it doesn't anymore. We had a good life living in the mountains.
In 1964 we moved to Boles Acres. I worked for the Blind School and Alamogordo Public Schools for several years. Denver worked for the State Highway Department for seven years, then we retired and moved to Artesia. Denver, passed away in 1993.