2007 SFTD Parade Marshall is Bob Green

Robert Otis Green was born October 21, 1912, to Harter and Bessie Green, in a half-dugout home built on land Harter filed on, in 1909.  The home place, a mile from the New Mexico line, in the Mexhoma area, is still in the family.  The original Santa Fe Trail went through this land and is still visible today.  The second trail is at Ft. Nichols, 2 miles north of the first one.  The baby’s early morning arrival was celebrated with watermelon by his parents and the local mid-wife, Mrs. Reed, who had another delivery later that morning down the road.  Robert loves watermelon to this day.

Robert has been a life-long resident of Cimarron County and has witnessed many changes in his 94 plus years.  He walked 1 1/4 miles cross-country with Gordon Walker, a neighbor boy, to school his first year.  The next year, his dad bought him a pony to ride the two and 1/4 miles around by the road.  There were many schools in the area in those days.  After a big snow, he was riding to school and came upon Chester, Loyd, and Ruth Woods walking.  They didn’t want him to pass and scared his horse repeatedly.  He jumped off his horse, pushed Ruth into the snow, and went on to school.  Later, when Ruth got to school, she told the teacher.  Mrs. Compton called Robert to the front and told him to put his hand on her desk.  She tapped his fingers with her pencil a couple of times and told him to go sit down.  It was the only “licking” he ever got at school.

Robert became a farmer very early, at eight years old, he began working two horses with a one-row lister following behind his dad, who was working four horses plowing sod.  He smiles and says, “the horses knew more about what they were doing than I did.”  Seeding grain was a job for the young boy; there was no need to buy seed for planting.  They shelled corn with a seed sheller and thrashed maize heads with a paddle.  The thrashed maize was “floated” in water, laid out to dry on a wagon sheet, then planted damp and came up quickly. The garden was plowed by a horse Harter trained like an oxen.  Robert tells of the horse working without a line, just responding to his dad’s commands of “gee” and “haw”.  There were those times when the horses got startled by an airplane buzzing low over you.  On one such event, the horses arrived back at the house without Robert and caused his mom quite a scare. When the first automobile was purchased in 1919, everyone had to learn to drive.  Driving was a different skill than controlling a team of horses.  Fence posts were hit and the fender of the car straightened out as each one took a turn practicing in the pasture.  Robert says he learned the fastest.

In 1930, Harter bought a Caterpillar tractor and sold the teams.  Robert started farming 1000 acres with a three row lister, monitor, and nine-foot one-way.  He was really proud of that tractor.  It had lights, a comfortable seat with arms, and held the ridge well.  He remembers, at the age of 15, running a drag-type combine for the first time. The seat on the combine was high in the air and it was really hot work. When the drought began and dirt blew with no sign of stopping, some land had to be released.  The price of wheat went to 27 cents a bushel.  You couldn’t afford to farm.  Robert got a job from Joe Brown working for the county.  He started out driving the tractor for the drag grader, but after a short time, he ran the grader.  All controls were changed by hand; there were no hydraulics.  This really built up his muscles.  He established the NM/OK state line road.  George Skelly first learned to drive a tractor working with Robert on the grader.  Back then, it could be two months before you would see the commissioner.  If you broke down, you just fixed it.  His wages were 50 cents an hour, $4 a day.  He had to work 20 days to earn what workers today get paid in one day.

Robert started trucking:  hauling coal, livestock, feed, grain, grasshopper bait, and the neighbors’ belongings, as they left the country.  On one trip off Black Mesa, after dumping grasshopper poison, he decided to try the short route.  He drove his truck down the south side of the mesa, dodging rocks and cactus with the brakes locked at times.  Once was enough!

Robert married Mary Odorizzi on a windy Sunday, November 17, 1935.  They moved in with Uncle Frank who lived 1/2 mile south of Wheeless.  Their first company was Frances and Maxeen Allen, she showed up when the new couple was cleaning the stove flue and were covered in black soot!  The house was surrounded by grass, but the sand blew in and fell off the windowsill.  Robert planted 400 acres of maize that spring; it got 18 inches high and died.  They took the cow, pig, and chickens and moved one mile west of the Boise City graveyard.  This house was 3/4 mile north of the railroad.  The dirt covered the track; the train would have to stop and men got out to clear the path.  Robert and Mary scooped three or four gallons of sand from the bathtub before running a bath.  They moved into town soon; because it was easier to get work with the truck by being more available.

Robert worked on the gravel haul, which surfaced the road north from Boise City to the Colorado line and east to Guymon.  He remembers only one accident with the trucks arriving empty and those leaving loaded on the gravel pit dirt road.  The dirt blew so thick and dark you couldn’t see; so you were supposed to hug the fence line on your side of the road.

Robert’s wheat crop of 1940 was really looking good.  His dad called to tell him he better insure it on Saturday.  During that week, Robert and Mary got the news, the wheat had been hailed out.  That big disappointment delayed their move back to the farm; but, the volunteer crop which resulted made it possible for them to come back to Mexhoma to farm and raise their family.  The wheat produced 40 bushel per acre.  That was the last move.  The “Love place” has been home ever since.  Robert and Mary planted 500 elms around their home and a fruit orchard.  Robert farmed 1,000 acres again, had cattle, milk cows, 100 head of hogs, chickens, and turkeys.  They sold eggs, milk, cream, and baskets of fruit.  In one year, 700 qts. of canned fruit and vegetables were stored away in the cellar.  The family expanded to include two sons and five daughters.  The children started school at Wheeless, all except for the youngest, who started school at Felt when Wheeless closed.  Robert served on the school board.  Robert remembers one day, in the mid 1960’s, not feeling very well.  He knew God told him to put away the cigars if he wanted to be okay.  Even though, Mary and the girls were in town buying a new box of cigars, they were never opened.

The conversion from producing broomcorn to producing maize, was followed by the purchase of a Massey combine, in the early 1970’s.  Robert custom cut for farmers from southwest of Clayton to south of Keyes and loved every minute of it.  He has enjoyed his life as a farmer and now is retired with his land in CRP.  This spring, at age 94, he helped his son by one-waying ahead of the sudan drill.  Robert takes every opportunity to drive his tractors, if only for a trip to the mailbox in the snow.  He has been a life-long hunter.  As a youth, rabbits were over-running the country, each evening was spent shooting rabbits for the hogs.  When 88 years old, he shot a deer with a black powder gun.

Robert and Mary’s family include their seven children, 24 grandchildren, and 19 great-grandchildren, with more on the way.  Their children are:  Arlene Warner, Bobby Green, Earl Green, Mary Ann Foreman, Karen Conner, Cathy Thrash, and Cheryl Terry.  Ninety-four years hold a multitude of memories and adaptations to new technology.  Today, life runs at a slower pace for Robert and Mary.  Each day, they enjoy the wildlife; phone calls, from family and friends; TV shows, they missed the first time; basketball and football; popcorn; and Robert, especially, enjoys nightly boxing on ESPN Classic!  There has been a lifetime of thanking God, blessing the food, the family, and the neighbors at each meal.  Robert and Mary say the kids have kept them young.