Ken Fuchs' Web World
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Ewald Fuchs and Ruby Barrick (continued)
Memories of the Ranch
The “color” photo of the big ranch house near Tatum prompted the following e-mail exchange between Sophora and me.
Sophora to Ken, September 17, 2007:
“Something HAS changed in 65 years, that house has shrunk. It used to be palatial, the size of a mansion! And compared to the houses we had lived in it WAS a mansion! It was really beautiful inside.
“Those vines were trumpet vines. A.J. and I have been talking about how invasive those plants are, but they were never a problem at the ranch. We are thinking they probably didn’t get much water other than the dish water (gray water), which is what ranch women commonly used in their flower gardens. Clean water went on the vegetables.
“See that window upstairs, how it opens over the roof of the room below? The very first night we lived at the ranch, I slept upstairs and when I woke in the morning I looked out the window to see everything in sunshine. OMIGOSH there was a snake on that roof. Naturally I screamed bloody murder. My parents were never able to convince me, they tried, that snake was just a milk snake that Marco and Marion had fed up there and made into a pet. That it was just up there looking for breakfast. Yeah, right. But then, I never have been a snake person.”
Ken to Sophora, September 28, 2007:
“I’ve reworked the attached picture many, many times. I have the original. It’s about 10 inches wide and very ragged. I assume it was a black and white photo, but the greens are in the original. I think it was hand tinted, which was fairly common in the 1920s and 1930s. I’m not sure how to date the picture itself. I find the structure on the south side of the house interesting. Was it some kind of cellar? I added the blue tint in the sky. A moment ago I noticed another interesting detail. Look up on the roof above the upper right corner of the front bedroom window. Is that your pet snake by any chance? Got milk?”
Sophora to Ken, September 28, 2007:
“That sure looks like a cellar, but I don’t think it was there when we were or we’d have been exploring it. On the other hand, there might have been a cellar there that we were forbidden to enter. I’ll bet John would know. I don’t remember climbing over such a thing. The trumpet vines covered at least some of that blank side of the house by the time we lived there.
“And O MY GOSH, that’s the snake for sure, but it had grown to at least 15 feet and as big around as a barrel (well, remember who’s talking, a snake-o-phobe) by 1946!!!”
September 29, 2007:
“When I saw that rascal, he was on the roof of the kitchen/back porch. I was looking out the upstairs windows opposite to ones visible here. My room was on the north side up there. The boys had the upstairs room where the window is open.
“Betty says she has heard stories of that snake, that he is supposed to have fallen onto somebody one time. Don’t you wonder how long he was known to have been there? Dad said he was Marco and Marion’s pet. They were long gone when we lived there.”
For fun, I inserted Sophora’s 1st-grade school photo in the front window, which led to the following exchange:
Sophora to Ken), October 1, 2007:
“A.J. says that anybody who will put a girl in a window will put a snake on the roof. Did you do that?”
Ken to Sophora, October 1, 2007:
“I confess that I DID put a girl in a window. And I DID add some blue tint to the top portion of the sky. I DID cover up a few scratches and tears and specks. But the rest of the photo is original. I just wish I knew what the date of it is.”
Describing the photo of the chicken and smokehouse, Sophora wrote on September 28, 2007:
“The back of this picture says it was taken August 1942.
“The photographer has his back to the east (the frontage fence) and is looking due north toward the dirt tank, the bank of which is just behind the smokehouse, The building continues left with the wash-house/cellar on the other end. The windmill was in front of this building just left of this picture.
“The cottonwood tree is behind the smokehouse and the pier would be just about directly behind the left edge of this picture.
“Just left of the chicken are the mulberry trees.
“The smokehouse, of course, was full of jerky and redolent with hickory smoke, mesquite if no hickory was available. We'd go in there and cop a slab when they weren't smoking. Had to be careful not to do that too often! Usually there were other kinds of meat hanging in there, like bacon, sometimes fowl, too.”
During the summer of 1941, Ewalee and Sherrill went to Ruidoso with Roland and Avis. Sherrill took a number of photos during that trip. Sophora discovered them in a small album in Ruby’s crate.