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Claud and I was up at Yucaipa one day in a barber shop getting a hair cut. Claud was in the chair and I was a waiting. A man came in hunting firefighters. I got up and left. I went through the orchards to the house. I was afraid to go by the way of the road. I was afraid I would meet some more men hunting fire-fighters. In a little while Claud come home. That night about dusk there was some boys who lived close to us and I saw a truck stop and pick them up. There was a high bank behind our house. Claud and I got behind it. They stopped and asked our women if there was any men there. They told them no and they went on. We didn’t stay to long in California. Claud had a sister in Texas and I had a brother [Thomas or Tomie Neel] in west Texas. They were cotton farmers. I went to my brother’s place and Claud went to his sisters.
In 1924 when I lived on the WILLAYARD place there was a revival brush horbar meeting. It was 5 miles from our house. There was a freewill Baptist preacher, a missionary Baptist, a Methodist and a holiness preacher were the ones who were in charge of the meetings. They would take turns preaching. There were people coming for miles around and there was wagons, buggies and horses all over that hill. We went almost every night in a wagon. There wasn’t hardly any cars then. The meeting went on for 8 weeks. There was 50 baptized and I was one of them. Jim MUSGROVE a freewill Baptist preacher baptized me. Now I will get back to 1928. My brother [Thomas or Tomie, Neel] had just started to pick cotton. I went to work for him and the first load we got picked my brother took it to Amherst Texas. This was a railroad town. I took my wife and children and put them on the train and sent them back to Peggs. I worked on a while and I then returned to Oklahoma but I was broke again.
In 1931 I moved on the Grover LITTLEFIELD place. It was a mile south and a mile west of Peggs. The first year I paid grain rent. The depression was on and I sold his rent corn for 8 cents a bushel. From then on I paid cash rent. I gave 75 dollars a year for the rent of the place. It had a 5 acre orchard on it. I sold enough fruit every year to pay the rent. I had apples, pears, peaches and plumbs, cherries, grapes and strawberries. I had fruit getting ripe from May to October. I got a job working for the county on a the county roads. I also continued with my farming. There was a man by the name of Jebb VANCE that did farm work. I asked him if he would work for me and he said he would. I asked him what he had been getting a dayhe said 50 cents. I told him I was going to give him a dollar a day. He was a good worker. He lives at Stillwell Ok. Now. Him and his wife come to see me about 2 years ago. It had been 45 or 50 years since I had seen them.
Times were hard back then. You could get very little with what you got from selling eggs. They sold for a nickel a dozen. Hogs were not worth much either. I sold 14 shoats [young pigs after weaning] all fat and would have weighed about 100 pounds each. All I got for them was 19 dollars. I give 3 dollars to get them hauled to market. Went to a sale and bought a fat gilt [a young sow that has not farrowed] for 60 cents. I took her home and butchered her. I bought a weaned pig for 20 cents. I bought a milk cow for 5 dollars. I bought weaned calves for two dollars and fifty cents a head. I sent a mule and a horse to Pryor. Sold the mule and it brought 7 dollars and the horse 3 dollars.
I had a neighbor come by one day, Jack VANN, and he asked me if I would buy his sow. I said Jack I don’t know what I would do with her. I said I have got 100 head of hogs now and cannot get anything for them. But what do you want for your sow? He said a dollar. I stuck my hand in my pocket and pulled out all the change I had and when I counted it I just had 90 cents. I said Jack this is all the change I have if you want that I will give it to you. He said give it here I knew where the sow was a running about 2 miles from home. I let her along and when I went to see about her she had seven babies. I let her run until the pigs got big enough to wean and then I brought them home. Hogs had come up in value and were selling for a fair price. I sold the pigs for 37 dollars and the sow for 17 dollars. I bought a span of mules for 25 dollars.
The place sold where I lived and I had to move. I had to stay in Cherokee County because if you worked for the county you had to live in it. I had bought 40 acres in Mays County just across the road from Cherokee County. I bought it from Jim YARBOROUGH. I give 80 dollars for it. I built my barn and chicken house on it. I bought a acre of land in Cherokee county just across the road from my barn. I bought it from Mr. WHITE. I gave 100 dollars for it and built my house on it. I hired my carpenter for 2 dollars a day. I bought my rough lumber for a dollar a hundred. I bought wood shingles for 3 dollars a square. I built a good 2 bedroom house for about 350 dollars. We moved on the place the first of the year in 1941. We was very happy with our little home.
My daughter and her little girl were staying with us for her husband was in the Navy. I was cutting hay in September close to the house. My daughter come out to where I was and told me her mother was awful sick. I went to the house and seen she was a burning up with fever. I bought her to Tahlequah to the hospital and in 3 days she passed away. She was just 35 years old. It was 6 September 1941. [She died from Cancer which the Doctors found in 1937 when they thought she was suffering from appendicitis] I was left with a young boy so my daughter stayed with me until her husband got out of the Navy.
They stayed a while with us after he got out of the Navy. They had to move to Muskogee where he could get work. I went to work at the power plant at Peggs. I had a hard time keeping my boy in school . I finally got him through grade school [8th grade]. But when he started to high school he would miss a lot.[sounds like he was cutting school.] He had an uncle that lived at Hulbert, he was a mail carrier. His name was Jim YARBOROUGH. I got him to keep him and he went one term at Hulbert When he got to be 17 years old he wanted to join the Army. I had to sign papers before he could get in. I hated awful bad to do it but I finally signed the papers.
He joined the air corps. He stayed in the service 7 years. He got married while he was in the service. He married Deloris Cody. She was raised up close to Locust Grove. He had a little boy born before he got out of the service. His name was Michael [Mike] NEEL. When he got out of the Army he lived in and around Locust Grove. He went to doing carpenter work. He worked most of the time in Tulsa.
There would be four or five at a time in a car driving back and forth to work. One morning there was five of them in a car going to work they met a drunk woman and man coming towards them. The drunks hit the car head on. The crash killed the drunk woman and a boy by the name of Downing, he was in the car with my son in the front seat in front of my boy who was riding in the back seat. Everyone in the car was hurt real bad. But my boy was hurt more than the others were. They took them to Claremore to the hospital. Glen Yarborough and his wife come after me to go with me to the hospital. When I got there and looked at him I didn’t see how he could live. All his front teeth were knocked out. His jaw was broke. The pallet of his mouth was knocked loose and he had a brain concussion. The doctor asked me how old he was and if he had ever been sick much. I said no and he said that was in his favor.
He was at Claremore about a week and then he was moved to Muskogee Veterans Hospital. He was over there quite a while. He finally got to come home. He got his insurance money and bought him a little place up close to Locust Grove. He didn’t keep it long. He sold it and bought a café in Locust Grove and he bought him a trailer house and sat it by the café. He recovered enough to return to work and his wife ran the Café. After his wreck he got saved [spiritually] and the last 5 years of his life he was a good Christian boy. He was Deacon in a Freewill Baptist Church in Little Rock when he passed away. Little Rock church was 5 miles east of Locust Grove. Five years after his accident he got cancer in his hip. He was sent to Memphis Tennessee to the Veterans Hospital. They took his leg and hip off just as high up as they could. He come home and I thought that he was going to be all right. It then spread to one of his lungs.
He went back to Memphis and they took part of his lung out. It then spread to his neck and he took 19 cobalt treatments. Just about a year after they first found that he had cancer he passed away. He was 35 years old. He passed away on the 5th day of September 1963. My wife was a good singer and played the organ. The day before she took sick I heard her singing “I’ll Fly Away” that was the last song I heard her sing. When I hear that song it brings back memories to me.