The Dallas Journal, Volume 46, 2000 Page: 17
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Autobiography of Charles V. Compton by Don Raney
tongue was elevated to the height of about seven feet, to which scales for weighing were attached by means of a chain
or rope. The pickers used white ducking sacks, some holding seventy-five pounds. When the sacks were filled, they
would be taken to the wagon, weighed and emptied. A record was kept of the amount that each person picked. The
average was about one hundred and seventy-five pounds per day. There were many, however, who could pick between
two and five hundred pounds per day. Often, every member of the family, above six years of age, could be seen in the
field, picking cotton. When the wagon was filled, the cotton was taken to the gin, where it was separated from the seed
and brought back home in an average 500 pound bale, ready for market.
There are many interesting stories relative to our farming life and about the Kentuckians that joined us. But the road
ahead had been carefully mapped, for our moving to Taylor and for Billie and me to enter the public school was a
definite plan. Taylor, a village with a population of a few hundred, was located at the junction of the I & GN and MK &
T Railways. Father purchased a home about two blocks from the schoolhouse. The school was a building 24 by 110
feet, divided into three rooms. The superintendent was A. E. Hill. The town grew so fast that it was necessary to erect
another small building very shortly.
We entered school there in 1886. Billie was in the seventh grade and I was in the fifth. When father asked us to go with
him to see the teachers in the big new school, my heart stood still. There was in my mind a mingling of fear, wonder and
hope. When Professor Hill took me in the fifth grade and the teacher seated me behind a real desk, the kids began to
giggle. I was very uncomfortable. My hat was very much country style and so were my boots. At recess, the youngsters,
seeing that I was embarrassed, did all they could to add to my discomfort. They asked me about my boots and if we
raised pumpkins where I came from. I was fighting mad but did not give way to my feelings.
The next day on the playground, a number of boys were wrestling. Now this was as sport in which I had excelled while
I was in the country. One boy said, "Boots, are you afraid to wrestle Fergy?" I looked Fergy over and he was quite a bit
bigger than I, and he also acted as though he were king of the playgrounds. I asked if he was very rough. They just
laughed and said, "Find out if you ain't a coward." I was mad and got ready in a hurry. Fergy, in an abrupt manner,
grabbed me, and before I knew it, virtually ran over me. I jumped up and told him to stand up and wrestle like we did in
the country. He laughed at me and the others joined in.
In a few seconds, I pulled the old Kentucky Stiff Back Clinch. Down we came and I was on top. Fergy was embarrassed
and said, "You can't do it again." So I proceeded to prove I could. Well, I was "Green as Grass" but they were quite a
bit more considerate of me and, in the months to come, I learned to feel at home on the playgrounds. I would love to
relate here that I led my class in my school work, but the truth is, I was relieved greatly to learn that I passed to the sixth
My parents were determined to teach us to be self sufficient, so during vacation, I was forced to earn enough to buy all
my clothes and to provide for any other expenses during the following term. I consider this experience was very helpful
to me in later life. My first vacation job was on a hay ranch. This was work I liked! I enjoyed my association with the
boys and men who bunked in tents on the prairie. They sang songs, told of their experiences, some of which were
thrilling, though much of it was just tall tales. Some of them had been cowboys and had many interesting toles to relate
about experiences along the trail to Dodge City and Montana. I'm sure that some of their sweethearts would not have
appreciated the secrets that they would tell.
The coyotes would begin a serenade about twilight, as we all sat around the campfire. And at intervals through the
night, it was not surprising if one of the gang would start singing. Their favorite songs were "Bury Me Not On The
Lone Prairie" or "Sam Bass Was Born in Indiana" and "Jesse James Had a Wife Who Mourned All Her Life." It was
not unusual, nor with much reverence, to hear them break out with "Amazing Grace" or "Old Time Religion."
Regardless of how late we stayed up, Old Pete, the cook, would beat a charge on the old pan in the wee small hours and
we would be up and at it, when he yelled, "Come and get it!" We'd eat a hearty breakfast of bacon, potatoes, coffee,
milk, gravy and molasses and then proceed to convert great quantities of nutritious grass into bales of hay. I was proud
of my windrow rake and the black horse. I bore the title, proudly, of assistant cook. My extra duties were to help wash
the pots, pans and dishes and to help Pete with the menu.
Summer ended, and with nearly fifty dollars made and saved, I fitted myself with shoes, shirts and wearing apparel,
which was to last me until the close of school. In the early months of the school session, I had a lucky break. Russell,
The Dallas Journal
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Dallas Genealogical Society. The Dallas Journal, Volume 46, 2000, periodical, June 2000; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth186859/m1/23/: accessed July 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Genealogical Society.