Back then, a 40 foot hill, "a pretty big one," as "Pop" remembers, stood where the City Hall is today. And when he was about eight years old, he and a friend named Sam Hall hunted quail on that hill. In my interview with "Pop," a score of old stories of early day Big Spring followed.
I asked him the very earliest thing he remembered. After some reflection, he decided it was the time he drove a bunch of nails into the front door step of the family house when he was three-years-old. For that he "got a good whuppin'." (If you recall in April of 1974, an article appeared in the Herald about "Pop" receiving his 70-year pen as a member of the carpenters.)
"Pop" had numerous interests and did many things in his life, but his first love was carpentry. He got his first paying carpentry job when he was 10 years old (1896), and has spent his life building structures all over the southwest. (He helped build many of the houses featured in a series of articles by Marj Carpenter about Big Spring homes built before 1915).
He also worked on the construction of City Hall, and many of the first stores on third and fourth streets, and practically all of the first houses on Main, most of which have long since been moved out of town, torn down or renovated. He helped construct the first oil derrick here for S.E.J. Cox in 1919-1920.
"Pop's" first big contract came about during the construction of Camp Travis in San Antonio during WWI. Years later, he was to be the first carpenter on the job in the building of Webb AFB. "Me and
one of the engineers ran around a long time 'fore they got any lumber out there. We just built sawhorses in the meantime," he recalled.
He is distantly related to the father of our country. "Pop" remembers letters from Robert E. Lee Jr., a relative as well, to his mother. And in the old family Bible, this writer saw some of those letters. "They talked about how the kin-folk were doing and such," "Pop" recounts.
Among the items from the family Bible are letters and documents dating back to 1849, showing the marriage of "Pop's" grandfather to Virginia M. Washington; also a letter from Col. John C. Lewis with a periodical clipping detailing that he was the nearest living relative of Washington's; and a letter from Robert E. Lee Jr., attorney, telling Emily Reagan ("Pop's" mother) of a suit heirs for the George Washington estate had brought. CONTINUED >