November 21, 2014

Today was a very busy day, so here is something I wrote a few years ago.

To California

“Pa’s gonna be mad at me.” George worried as he walked through the blowing dust from the hen house to the back door of the farmhouse, gingerly holding the egg in his hand. “Pa! Where are you?” George yelled as he pushed the door open with his body, backing into the kitchen.

“What is it George?” Frank asked, wiping the dust from his sons’ face with a filthy rag.

“I tried real hard to save all the chickens, but that old fox got most of them. I did save this egg.”

“How many chickens are left? And roosters?’

“Two hens, two roosters, and this egg. It was on the floor of the hen house.” George held out his hand. “I’m sorry, I really am. I just didn’t see that fox soon enough, with this dust storm and all.”

“Well, son, I’ll get your Ma to fix you that egg. A reward for your effort. Don’t go worrying over the rest of the chickens. At least you saved two of them, and the roosters. We’ll have new chicks here soon. Did you shoot the fox?”

“Yeah, Pa, that fox is dead.”

“Good boy.” Frank patted his ten-year-old sons’ head. “George, I need to tell you something.”

“Yeah?” George could tell by his father’s voice that this was serious.

“We hear there’s work in California. Now, you know we haven’t been able to pay on this farm for a while, what with the drought and these dust storms. So, well, what I’m trying to tell you is that we’re packing up and moving to California.”

George, with a wisdom born of adversity, simply blinked at the news. “Okay, Pa. When?” Although only ten, he was ready for a new, easier life. Moving from Oklahoma to California in 1935 seemed to promise that.

“Well, the bank’s gonna take the house soon, so probably by the end of the month. I need you to help your Ma and me with the younger ones. The baby’s got some dust in her lungs, and your Ma needs to tend to her. And I’ll need you to help me get everything packed up, and the truck will need some work.”

“Okay, Pa. I’ll keep a watch over the other two kids. You can count on me.”

“I know that.” Frank leaned over, kissed his son’s dirty head, and then leaned into the boy’s face. “You make a father proud, son.”

Still holding the egg, George gave his father a bear hug.