My Books · My Thoughts · Prejudice, Mistreatment, Mexican, immigrant

Can You Speak English?

            Because Papa and his family could not speak English, he was doomed. Hatred and prejudice could have destroyed his future and Maria’s. Is that still true today? Read what happened to Papa that broke Maria’s and her Momma’s hearts.

CHAPTER 8

            Papa and I finish our daily chores and head for the house, hungry and ready to eat. Papa spots a five-point buck and three does. Their movement is slow and graceful. They are in no hurry to travel to the water hole east of our house. He signals me to be quiet and grabs my hand. We ease down the ridge to watch these free, beautiful animals water and graze in the cool of the evening. Their silhouettes stand out as the last rays of sunshine etch their forms against the ground.

            Papa squats down on a sandstone rock ledge that overlooks the watering hole, and his rough hands encircle me as I squat in front of him. I can feel his heavy breathing on the back of my neck and smell the familiar aroma of his sweaty clothes mixed with horse and leather. I so enjoy these special times together.

            He surprises me with a tight squeeze, stands up and walks towards the house in front of me. He drags his feet and the dust stirs up in small clouds. I see the nape of his neck, tanned by long hours in the sun. Tonight, it is tense and tight with the load of his world.

            We sit down to supper with an unusual silence hanging over our table. We try small talk about Papa’s trip to Trinidad and what happened here in his absence. Each of us jumps at any strange sound outside during the meal, fearing the unknown. Mama lights the kerosene lantern, placing it in the middle of the table to illumine our dark kitchen. The anxious mood lingers in the dim amber light.

            Usually the yellow light from the kerosene lamp comforts me in our long evenings inside our house. The shadows dancing on the walls have become good friends and playmates, but tonight it is so different. The dark, forbidding forms on the walls add to the suspense, feeling evil and scary.

            Halfway through our delicious, but modest meal, the much-feared event happens. Horses approach our house in a rush of noise from men and animals. The dreaded moment arrives and catches us all clustered together in the dark corner of our small kitchen. Three unfinished meals cover our deserted table.

            Several loud men on nondescript sweaty, panting horses ride up with shouting and cussing. A brisk pounding at the door sends us further in the corner. Before Papa can open the door, this mob forces the door open. What a violent invasion of our home! Six gringos fill our small, modest house of stone and adobe with their foreign language and foreign smells. One of these invaders is the sheriff of Las Animas County.

            Peering from behind Mama’s protective full skirt, I see the sheriff, now our enemy, argue with Papa in English. Papa pleads. I don’t understand the words, but I do understand the tone of his voice and theirs. Grabbing the sheriff’s hand, he begs, pleads, and cries! And then, they laugh, a communication that crosses all languages. Their laughter overflows with power, ridicule and anger. And all this is aimed at my Papa, my hero! That laughter bounces off of our adobe walls and crashes into my head.

            The sheriff and one man get on each side of Papa and push him outside towards the corrals. The others move back to their horses, light cigarettes and stand talking. Mama and I move closer to the closed door, listening and trying to understand what is happening. I don’t understand their words but I know they feel they have won.  

            In a loud voice, Papa continues to argue with the two men who take him to the corral where the horses are. I hear English words that I do know: “The Rose horse ranch” where we bought Smokey as a colt. From the conversation, I see in my mind the two gringos surveying our two horses, especially Papa’s horse. Papa continues his litany of innocence with his voice growing louder and shriller with each statement, but they ignore him. Laughter is their only response.  

            I hear Papa beg about something. The two ruffians bring him back to the house for our tearful good-bye. The last thing I remember hearing is his screams as they drag him from our house. “¡Mi hijita, mi esposa preciosa–esperame, esperame!” His screams for us to wait for him echo through my mind. I must have fainted because the next thing I remember is waking to Mama and our neighbor and friend, Pablo, standing over me with worried looks on their faces.

            “Where’s Papa? Where’s Papa? ¿Dónde está mi Papa?” I scream, demanding to know and trying to shake the cobwebs of uncertainty from my mind.

            Mama falls across me on my small bed, crying and sobbing out of control, “¡Papa, se ha ido! Papa’s gone! He’s gone. Se lo llevaron. They took him away.” The weight of her body and sound of her wails almost suffocate me.

            Pushing Mama aside, I scramble out from underneath her, search our two-room home and explode. Uncontrollable anger rages from deep within me and I attack and destroy anything I can get my hands on. My doll crashes against the hard rock wall; my marbles fly out the door in all directions.  

            Mama tries to console me in the midst of my savage tantrum, but I push her away. I shove open the front door and collapse on the front step. I scream, I cry, and I wail! Finally, I take a breath and open my eyes—Paco is staring at me a few feet away. He seems apprehensive about coming any closer. My tantrum has lost its power, so my little friend ventures near and I scoop him up in my skirt. I gingerly hold him in my hand while my sobs are subsiding. He seems to know that I need him close to me. I sit there with him consoling me.  

            I look around and see my marbles strewn around our front door; I don’t pick them up, but go inside, leaving Paco outside. Mama and Pablo stop their conversation, and I slide into my bed fully dressed. Pablo touches my brow with gentle rough fingers and whispers, “Adios.  Hasta la mañana.” I appreciate his good-bye and the hope of seeing him tomorrow. Mama walks to the door with him and says her good-byes.

            She returns to my bed and repeats what Pablo did; she touches my brow with her long slender fingers and whispers, “Buenas noches.” I sigh my response and turn to the wall, heart-broken because the most valuable person in my life has been taken away.

Maria changes through this heartless event. I won’t give away the ending, so go to Amazon and buy a copy:

Here’s a trailer for this heart-wrenching story:

Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

BACK TO SCHOOL SAVINGS UNTIL AUGUST 16, 2019: 50%off of ALL MY DIGITAL BOOKS at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft.

Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42s

My Thoughts · Ranching

Is a Windmill Important to a Rancher?

Windmills dot the southwest landscape. Their massive structure stands sentinel on the plains where I grew up. Dad and Granddad often spent hours fixing them, but I really had no idea of their value. How important are windmills to ranchers anyway?

My brother and I own a ranch in southeastern Colorado, and we have four windmills on the ranch. Three are operative, but last week in a furious wind storm, our main windmill in our summer pasture broke—the fan broke off and was hanging on the platform by the blades. It felt ominous for sure. With our raging drought, this windmill is a vital water source for part of the herd of cattle on the ranch.


Most windmills used in the Great Plains were of self-governing design. This means that they automatically turned to face changing wind directions and automatically controlled their own speeds of operation to avoid destruction from centrifugal force during high winds. 


http://plainshumanities.unl.edu/encyclopedia/doc/egp.ii.062

I’ve seen this happen–facing one direction, then another; however, the wind storm that broke this windmill must have been a mighty one then!

Within a couple days, the windmill fixit man came from Folsom, New Mexico, and I had the treat of my life. My brother and I witnessed the crew of three fix the windmill.

We stood to the side, wrapped up in our coats and hoodies with a cold breeze cooling the February morning. Every phase of the work fascinated me. I grabbed my iPhone and captured as many pictures as I could.

They had a boom on their truck to lift the broken fan off of the tower. This magical operation took three men: one agile small guy up on the platform standing below the fan who hooked a chain around the fan, two men on the ground with one running the boom and the other ready to handle the fan as it came down.

The Agile Man Up on the Platform

Here’s a diagram of the parts of a windmill:

Then the work began. The young man on top took off the broken piece that the fan attached to, dropped it down unceremoniously, and they hoisted a new one up to him. The two men on the ground fixed any break to the fan, using lots of oil and elbow grease. After the two below fixed the fan, they sent it up the tower with the boom, and attached it to the new piece.

The Boom That Made the Fix Much Easier

Then they pulled out the sucker rod and the pipe it goes through. They measured the depth of the water, and the results were really sad to us. We’ve experienced a horrible drought the last couple years. We’ve received sufficient water to grow grass, but not enough to fill reservoirs and not enough deep water for the aquifer to fill the wells. A couple years ago, this well measure 17 feet deep; now it is 8.5!

Look at the size of the fan!

My brother had witnessed windmill repair as a youngster, so this was not new to him. I stepped in closer to see the work. While they had the working parts apart, the young man offered to show me the workings of the guts of the mill and how a windmill works—I had no ideas.

The Inner Workings of a Windmill

We also wanted to see how many gallons the well pumped a minute, but there’s a strange quirk with this well—it’s not straight down, so the pump they tried to put down the pipe wouldn’t go.

I’ve always had an unusual attraction to windmills and taken lots of pictures. To me, a windmill silhouetted in a sunset makes a beautiful, peaceful photograph. For us on the plains and high desert, we depend on the successful operation of a windmill. We have no rivers or live water on our ranch—a windmill provides that much needed water for the livestock. My respect for these giant wonders has grown in leaps and bounds and the maintenance of them.

Have you ever been attracted to photograph a windmill? Have you ever wonder about how they work?

Here’s how a windmill works:

  1. The wind turns the fan at the top of the windmill.
  2. The fan turns a set of gears called the motor.
  3. The motor pulls a pump rod up and down.
  4. The pump rod operates a piston in a cylinder pump located in the well.  This piston contains one o more valves.
  5. As the piston descends, its valve opens to allow the piston to pass through a water column held in check by another, lower valve.
  6. When the piston ascends again, the piston valve closes to prevent the water from flowing backward as the piston pulls the column up the pipe.
  7. At the same time, the lower valve opens to allow water to enter the pump and fill the vacuum created by the upward motion of the piston.  This is the new water column.
  8. The cycle repeats over and over again, working the water up the pipe until it overflows into a tank. https://homesteadontherange.com/2013/08/27/the-old-fashioned-windmill/

If you’d like a visual of how a windmill works, go to https://web.archive.org/web/20121028095740/http://www.aermotorwindmill.com/how-a-windmill-works.html

Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

50% Discount of A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir–both paperback and e-book versions–at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft.

Memoirs · Uncategorized

This Tumbleweed Landed

You may not have grown up in Branson, CO during the fifties and sixties, but as you read my poems and stories, see how they resonant with you.  Hopefully they will bring back happy memories from your own childhood.

I had a friend tell me last week after reading my book, that it sounded like his childhood — he grew up in Brooklyn, not southeastern Colorado.  He said we were a tight-knit community when I grew up, just like your community.

So it doesn’t matter where you grew up. Hopefully these poems and stories will hit home for you and give you a respite for a moment.