Three Score - Plus

Well I'll be derned, the record shows
That I've reached three score years;
It just aint possible, 'taint so,
I'm blame near sheddin' tears.
Why sixty years - I'm not that old.,
Well, maybe forty, yes;
Just how they pile up all that count
Is anybody's guess.

Yet, I was born in eighty-six,
Guess figgers they can't lie;
In summer-time, they say 'twas hot,
Along late in July.
Now Walter, he was comin' nine,
And Harry pushin' six;
And Nellie five or thereabouts -
That left me in a fix;

For May was two, a husky kid,
The score was goin' up:
What chance had I with all that gang,
Me bein' just a pup.
Then four years later Bessie came,
I hadn't time to fret;
For takin' care of her and things
I wasn't raised a pet.

A lot o' things was mine to do,
A busy little tike;
And mostly found me doin' things
The others didn't like.
Too big to cry, too young to cuss,
I've never lived it down;
On Saturday night done all the chores
While the others went to town.

I carried water, packed out slop,
Cut weeds and. milked the cows;
I worked on flood-gates, chopped out drift
And helped to ring the sows.
Hoed when the sun was blazin' hot,
And in my heart a wish,
"That it would rain, so I could go
Down to the crick and fish."

Sometimes the rain come splashin' down,
To dig bate I'd commence;
Then sadly drop the rusty spade
And fix the pasture fence.
I'd bug potatoes, hog-lots clean
'Til I was good and sore;
Then when all set for needed rest,
I'd help to tusk a boar.

When Sunday come, I'd wash my neck,
Or leastwise splash it some.
Put on my brand new overalls -
Might be somebody'd come.
Or times I'd hike out for the woods
Real early in the morn;
Before I'd hit the west line fence,
The cows was in the corn.

All summer long and through the fall -
We didn't live by rule;
Book-learnin' meant a lot to us,
So I spent three months in school.
I wasn't extra smart I guess,
The kids was mostly dumb;
A lot of wisdom goin' to waste,
And I got just the crumbs.

"Old Buzzards' Roost", they called our school;
I've often heard it said,
"Them birds they never hang around
'Less somethin's smellin' dead."
With weak school-teachers, onery kids,
Full of the Devil's tricks;
Yet, seems at times I dream about
Them days on Skeeter Crick.

Hear Manny Loyd's ear-splittin' bray,
And Bill True's fiddle screech;
Hear Hard-Shelled Baptists brave admit
That they was "Called to Preach".
See Frank and Bob come down the road,
With bowed-up backs they sit;
Dad sizin' up their sorry nags -
Our dog Jim throws a fit.

On summer nights when the moon-light washed
The grime from nature's face;
Flat on my back in the old front yard,
I seemed to grow in grace;
For the breeze was rustlin' the maple leaves,
And Rover rubbed his nose
Against my hand, and the world seemed good,
And gone was all my woes.

The stars was hangin' in the sky;
Up there I tried to scan
The future, when the time rolled 'round
That I would be a man.
Sometimes I soared above the clouds,
Sometimes, down deep below;
But somehow felt that in good time
I'd all the answers know.

The day when I was twenty-one,
I thought the world was mine;
No money, but a lot of pep;
I'd make life toe the line.
I'd make my fortune mighty quick,
For me no vague alarm;
I didn't know where I would light,
But high-tailed from the farm.

Then teachin' school; a dern good job,
And few are now alive
Who know good men was hard to find;
(They paid me forty-five)
Sometimes I walked five miles to school,
Sometimes I rode a hoss;
Them days I counted all as gain,
And never figgered loss.

I took up Bankin' finally,
Was really steppin' out;
And sympathized with rich, old men
Who suffered from the gout.
The future, it was cut and dried,
Not one thing to deplore;
Then one spring day I chucked it all
And headed off to war.

Brave soldier? No, I reckon not,
Just like the rest was I.
The diff'rence, I'm for gospel truth
When it aint no use to lie.
Them months a blank, sort o' set me back,
When I had just begun;
Couldn't get no place 'til I got home,
And me past thirty-one.

Back 'cross the ocean, looked ahead,
The past an ugly dream;
The folks I'd knowed, the things I'd done,
The same they didn't seem.
Back to the bank, fumbled around,
I somehow failed to thrive;
And then one day some darn fool said,
"Old man, you're thirty-five,"

Stuck out my chin and sailed right in;
I'd win or I'd cause strife.
And then I side-stepped long enough
To take myself a wife.
And children? Yes, we had a few,
I wish that there'd been more;
And then I woke up to the fact
That I was forty-four.

I had a family now, and knowed
I'd have to strut my stuff;
No matter how much cash I made,
It didn't seem enough.
Kids growin' up, me gettin' old
But glad to be alive;
Though boyhood seemed like yesterday,
They called me fifty-five.

I've loved my fam'ly mighty well,
I've had my griefs and joys;
But I'll sink or swim with my own first wife,
And with Betty and the Boys.
Maybe you're right, I've lived a lot,
The years was mostly fun;
And I'll fight the guy that dare deny
I'm nearin' sixty-one.

Family Reunion
May 31, 1947