Recollections of Benjamin Hill Minter
By Dennis J. "Jack" Robinson
This is my memory of my experiences when I was a boy while in the company of one of my mother's brothers, my Uncle Ben. The events occurred in the 1930s.
Uncle Ben was living with his wife, my aunt Bonnie (Bonnie Bird Dahlrymple),
and their daughter Kathryn, at Wichita Falls, Texas. The economic condition
of the country at the time was at low ebb. We were in the midst of the Great
Depression. Rather than be unemployed, Uncle Ben used saved resources to
buy a used truck and launched himself into the farm produce business, buying
products and hauling them to Pampa and Amarillo, in the Texas Panhandle,
and selling them to dealers there. He managed to make expenses and a living
during those times. At the time I was about 13 years of age, living with my
parents family in Childress County, Texas at a town called Carey. It was on the
main road road running from Wichita Falls to the Panhandle.
Sometimes Uncle Ben would stop by and visit us as he passed through town on his regular produce run. One time he asked me if I would like to come along with him for the ride to Pampa. As I recall, it was a time when I was out of school for the Christmas holidays, and I was happy for something to do. En route, I enjoyed the ride. We had no automobile, so riding in one was fun! I remember, as we rode along, I was fascinated watching the road right of way whiz by as we were travelling at a 40 mph clip. And I think that was the fastest speed I ever traveled. Arriving in Pampa that evening, we checked into the hotel, went to our room, freshened up, then went downstairs to the restaurant for supper. I forget what we had to eat that evening, except we were served whole wheat bread, and until then I had eaten no bread other than that made from white flour. I was a little reluctant to eat that bread, because it was about the color of the dirt up there, which the wind blows into the air a lot in the form of sand storms. I was afraid it was white bread that had been in a sand storm.
That night, after we retired, the weather really turned frigid. One of those "Siberian Express" Arctic northers blew in, and we were really cold. Our room was located on the northwest corner of the building, up several floors above the street. There was a steam heat radiator in the room, but the steam pressure was too low to do us much good. Out of desperation, we took up the rug from the foor and used it for bed cover to keep warm. It was one of those rugs that was less than wall-to-wall type.
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On another occasion in late spring on a trip to Amarillo, Uncle Ben and I were aware that the weather seemed to be closing in on us. The rain began to come down pretty hard, there was a lot of thunder and lightning, and the tiny manually operated windshield wiper (only on the driver's side, I believe) made driving difficult. By then, we had passed through the town of Goodnight (named for the early Texas drover, Charels A. Goodnight), and were almost to Claud, not all that far from Amarillo. But it began to hail. There was a deafening roar as the stones fell. I had heard of hailstones as large as baseballs, but had never seen any larger than marbles. These were not as large as baseballs, but I will say they were ever bit as big as golf balls., and we really took a drubbing. It broke out the windshield on the truck, but the truck's cab was made of steel, and it withstood the bombardment and protected us. It only lasted 10 or 15 minutes, but it seemed like a much longer time. We survived and got to our destination in good enough order, but for the most part, the cargo was a loss. Uncle Ben was a charming fellow--jolly, considerate, and fun to be with. I was very fond of him and his family. Incidentally, Aunt Bonnie and my mom, Robbie Minter, were almost inseparable chums when they were children.
Dennis J. "Jack" Robinson (b.1917) is a Minter descendant and family researcher/archivist. Jack lives in Houston, Texas. story1