I inherited most of my Mother’s writing. She had done much of her writing on PC’s and DOS on the old five inch floppies. In transferring the files from DOS to Macintosh and from Word to OpenOffice, some of the formatting was lost. Someday, I may go back and edit this further but for now, I am posting as is with the formatting problems intact.
THE STORY OF MY LIFE
This is going to be a very bitter and angry book. I don’t know why anyone would want to read it. My advice, is to throw it in the wastebasket. I have lived for over seventy- five years, and each year I have grown more angry, resentful, hateful. I can’t imagine why I have such a wonderful husband, who never fails to tell me he loves me each day–usually many times. When I ask him “Why?” as I usually do, he answers, “Because you are a sweet little darlin.'” I always tell him I am not sweet, and he answers that he ought to know because he has lived with me for all these years, (now 28), and he knows how generous, kind, and considerate I am. Of course, that sounds great. He has always been one to uplift me and build my self-esteem. I know he is sincere, but it is almost impossible for me to believe that he really can see anything sweet, kind or generous in me. I am a very hateful person. Surely no one can be anything other than evil, and be so full of hate as I am. I hate everything. I hate almost everybody. I hate the wind. I hate the cold. I hate the heat. I hate the dust. I hate the insects. I hate hay fever. I hate headaches. I hate to work. I hate injustice and pain, and fear, and heartache, and disappointment, and all the things that make people unhappy. It’s a screwd-up world. It’s a mess! (continued below)
Everybody other than me, is a damn-fool. Come to think of it, I am a damn-fool, too. That doesn’t make it any easier to stand all the other damn-fools. I don’t like anybody. I don’t even like kids. I don’t like dogs. I don’t like cats, and I don’t like old people. No one could possibly be a sweet darlin’ who doesn’t like kids and old people. Is there anything I do like? Yes, I like rivers and trees, and horses, and goats, and deer, and wolves, and birds. I like good music- -just the kind I like. I like kindness, neatness, consideration, good judgment, intelligence, information. I like striving for excellence–in others. I don’t want to strive for anything. Maybe my liking for kindness was learned from my mother. I resent my mother, because she never showed any affection for me, or approval. I resent that very much. On the othr hnad, I recognize that she was a very fine and wise woman. My dad was brilliant–and crazy–but my mother was wise. I remember when we lived at the “Green Place,” where there were no screens on the doors, how my mother used to hate the flies. She would keep the doors closed until she almost roasted in the hot summer time, in order to shut out a few of the flies. Even hating them so, she would shudder and remark about how burning was too bad for any living thing, when my dad would get up in the morning, while the flies were immobilized all over the ceiling, and take a lighted piece of paper and burn them. Also, even though my mother hated ticks to the point that she would literally get sick when she saw one, she didn’t want any of us to put them in the fire. That was really the only way we could be at all sure they would be killed, as they are almost impossible to kill any other way. Anyhow, these things go to show how exceptionally kind my mother was. She didn’t want anything, however menacing, or excecrable, to suffer. I guess I got some of that from her. I hate to see anything suffer. I guess that’s why I don’t like this world. It consists mostly of suffering. I can’t understand why people go on having kids. Seems to me the worst sin anyone could commit.
How or why a gentle, intelligent woman, like my mother ever married, or lived with a man like my dad, I will never understand. He was mean, ill-tempered, and disageeable. He could be very charming, and he seemed to know everything. That wasn’t just my opinion. People used to love to come to our house and eat brown beans, and mama’s lightbread, instead of the good food they could have had in their own homes–that is, when we had beans and the flour for mama to make lightbread. Many times we didn’t. On the occasions when we did have this much, people came as often as they could, from miles around, to eat and listen to my dad. He could be very interesting, and as I said, very charming. He certainly was a different man when other people were around, than he was when we were alone. If we ever happened to say anything the least bit derogatory about him in the presense of any of these people, including my sister-in-law, Annie–Deb’s wife–they would insist that we were just angry because he wanted us to “do right.” Ha! Little he cared what we did, as long as we kept out of his way; didn’t cause him any trouble. And those same people who admired him so much and basked in his charm, would have been appalled, probably, if they had known that as soon as they were out of our door and on their way home, my dad couldn’t vent his contempt for them enough. They were all “damn fools.”
Mama, even though she was a gentle and wise person, didn’t seem to be able to stand us kids any better than dad could. She couldn’t even stand to have us in the house to help with the constant work of cleaning, mending, washing, and cooking when she had anything to cook. She wanted us to carry the water needed, and she wanted us to carry in wood, and cut it too, when dad wasn’t in the mood. Occasionally, she would allow one of us to bake a cake, or do some other chore in the kitchen, if she could be in some other room. She wanted us to help with the gardening, when there was a garden, the harvesting from that garden when there was a garden, and the picking of apples while we lived at the Green place, where there was a scraggly, little, dry-land orchard. Sometimes, we were wanted to wash clothes on the board, but even that, she usually did herself, rather than have any of us “in her way.”
She wanted us to run to the cellar to take the fresh milk, when we had any, or to get the milk and butter, when we had any, or to bring potatoes, apples, canned fruit and so on, when there was any there. I guess we had something in the cellar about as often as there was nothing. If it didn’t happen to rain enough to raise a garden, or bring some apples on the old apple trees, or if dad had got hungry for beef and killed mama’s milk cow or butchered all her laying hens, there was sometimes something to eat in that cellar. I don’t remember of my dad’s ever working a day in his life. The older ones talked sometimes, of his working a little in the cotton fields, the butcher-shop, or in the woods, but even they usually admitted that that was very little. It was up to mama to keep us alive. She worked absolute miracles to do so. She never seemed to resent the fact that dad didn’t work, or even do anything around the house, such as gathering the wood, unless he just happened to want to. She seemed to take it for granted that that was a man’s prerogative. The boys, when they were home, were not really required to do anything, either. They were to be waited on. They were to sit at the table and be served first, if there was any food in the house. Their clothes were to be washed, and their beds to be made, and their food prepared, and their every need, insofar as it was possible, was to be met–just as dad”s was.
Ole said that she agreed. If that is true, I wonder why Ole seems to be as bitter as I am. She doesn’t express her bitterness as openly and often, but she certainly is as bitter. It seemed to me that everyone in the family, and everyone else she met, always loved Ole. That, it seems, should have given her a lot of self-esteem, and confidence. It surely didn’w work that way. She almost never, if ever, talks about her hatred or resentment, as I do, but she shows her anger in other ways. “I don’t feel that I have a right to the space I take up on this earth,” is one of the things she says, that shows her anger. Another is “Why did I have to be the one that was really the damn fool?” Deb always called everyone other than himself a damn fool, no matter how intelligent, well informed, and reasonable any of those people were. I told Ole, and I sincerely believe, that the one that was the damn fool, in almost every case, was Deb, himself. I believe, that like dad, Deb is brilliant. He has an extraordinary memory, and he has always read a great deal–so he is well informed. But information is not all there is to intelligence. Deb has absolutely no power to reason. He has absolutely no “common sense.” This was true, too, of dad, Haden, and to a lesser degree, Ray.
Just as dad was, all these brothers were exceptionally charming. Everyone seemed to think they were outstanding people, smarter than anyone else, more capable and even more ethical than the average person. Ha ha! Ethics, justice, understanding of anyone who disagreed with them, was beyond their ken. Everyone who disagreed with them was a damn fool, and that was the end of it. Deb is the only one of them still living. Well informed as he is, you would think he would like to converse with other people who were somewhere nearly on the same intellectual level. Not he. All his friends were picked from the least informed, the least educated.. In this way, he could “lord,” it over all his friends. He could make them believe that he was the most important, and smartest man on earth. He loved that feeling of being judged to be up there somewhere near the gods.
When he was accidently thrown with someone who was educated, or well informed, he couldn’t be vehement enough about what a damn fool that person was. If that person disagreed with him, his hostility seemed to know no bounds. He couldn’t show his contempt enough. He would not argue with this type, however. He would bide his time, until he was with his “inferiors,” again, and then vent his contempt for anyone who dared not think as he did. His “arguments,” were always toward those whom he knew he could override, or with those, like his sisters, and nieces and nephews, whom he knew would not dare contradict him. We, his sisters, had always been taught that we did not dispute the word of the older ones. In fact, I was scared to death of all of my brothers, and believed I didn’t have any right watsoever to cross any of them. All my sisters were quite a lot the same way, even though some of them did not, and do not hate Deb as much as I do–or claim not to.
I was born near Tulia, Texas, in 1913. I was, as I said, the eighth child of Mattie and Haden Walling. My mother admitted that she never did want any children, and I am quite sure my dad never did, either. He almost always behaved as if he hated us. It is true, I think, that mama and dad both enjoyed their new babies after they arrived, until the next one came–then the older one was shunted over into the annoying “growing up,” group and the baby was the new pet. Mama always carried the new baby around on her hip while she cooked and did the other necessary chores. Dad liked to play with the babies, like a child with a new puppy, until they cried, or needed attention, or until he tired of playing. If the psychologists are correct, this is probably the only–or one of the only things, that prevented us all from being completely ruined by the lack of love and attention. That first two years, they say, are formative, and even though the shock of suddenly being no longer the pet, was devastating, to say the least, this first two years was probably extremely beneficial for what mental stability we have. The fact that I realize that my brothers and my dad, and my mother, too, were certainly molded by the same kinds of nonsalubrious circumstances I was, does not make me feel any more love for them. Like mama with the flies, and ticks, I would not do any of them any harm, if I could. I wish them only the best, but my hatred is not lessened. This, of course, brings up another psychological question. Just exactly what is hate; and what is love. Can one hate and not wish the object of that hate any harm? Can one deplore the actions of others, and that abject malevolence, not be hate, but be love, because you do not wish any harm to the perpetrator of pain and heartache? I am not sure. I do not believe that anyone could say that I love my dad and brothers, because I would make some sacrifice to keep them from heartache or suffering.
I can remember some of the things that happened in my life before we left Texas. I was not yet three when we left. I remember of sitting on the dresser, which was in the living- room. I remember mama sitting in a rocking-chair, holding the baby. That baby had to be Billie, of course. I remember of sensing somehow, that mama was worried that I would knock something off the dresser top, or get the mirror, where I was looking at myself, soiled. The Molotte girls were combing my hair and making a fuss over me. They were close to Flo’s and Hank’s ages. I was loving the attention. I didn’t want mama to be worried, but I didn’t want the girls to stop their attentions, either. I honestly believe that from that day on– and maybe even before–I never had another day without some guilt or feeling of failing in my obligations, and what was expected of me.
When the girls decided it was time for them to go home, I remember of them taking the little, dusty path that led under the wire fence. Flo and Hank were running up that path with them. I was behind. I ran as far as the fence. I can still see Flo and Hank crawling under that fence in the dust, but couldn’t get under it. That is as far as I can remember, too. The next memories I have are of arriving at Grandma’s house in New Mexico. We arrived in a wagon. Aunt Mary and Lou came running out, in their long dresses, to meet us. They helped us down, and there again, we were treated like someone could care about us. They were genuinely glad to see us
They hugged us and led us into the house. That is almost all I remember about that occasion. One other thing, is that I remember of looking into the bright blue eyes of someone–the others disagree on who it was–who picked me up by the ankles and saying “Hold your back tip,” brought me in an upright position, as I held my back stiff, to be even with his eyes. We were really on our way to Montana, where dad and Haden had already gone. We had come from Texas in the wagon, but we were to go the rest of the way by train. When Billie, who couldn’t have been more than eighteen months old, heard the plans to go on the train, she said, “I can’t go. I can’t straddle the train!”
I don’t remember anything about that trip. I do know that all of us kids got sick, with measles, I think it was, and that mama had to take us off the train and remain in a hotel somewhere until we were released from quarantine. How she paid for this, I have no idea. We never did have any money. I wouldn’t be surprised to know that she had to wire some of her relatives for enough to bail us out. That would have been very difficult for mama. She had a great deal of pride. She never did ask anyone for anything, excepting in a very few cases of absolute necessity.
I don’t remember about arriving in Montana. I remember of hearing the others talk about it. They said dad was working in a butcher-shop. In fact, I think he owned a half- interest in it. He was a good butcher. Dad could do almost anything. He could have made a good living as a carpenter, or cabinet maker, or probably even building furniture, or any one of many other things. He just didn’t want to work. Who am I to judge him. I didn’t want to work, either. I know and can explain why I didn’t want to work but I can’t understand why he didn’t.
As always, we moved every few months, in Montana. Dad always saw “greener pastures,” somewhere else…anywhere, other than where he was. He had dragged mama, and whatever children they had at the time, around with him ever since they were married.
Of course almost all the work and worry of moving was mama’s. Dad never did much of anything he didn’t just want to. Mama was an exceptionally clean and sanitary woman. She never moved into a place without cleaning, scrubbing, and making the place as neat as possible. She never moved out of a place without leaving it sparkling clean, too. Well, I shouldn’t use the word “sparkling.” None of the places we ever lived could have been said to sparkle under the best of circumstances.
Dad sold his half-interest in the butcher-shop and we moved. Dad had a falling-out with the man we rented our next place from, and wouldn’t stay there. Haden and Ray went to work in the harvest field. Haden was young and strong. He had to be about sixteen then. Ray was a scrawnie kid, so thin one would wonder how his back held his body up. They worked twelve hours a day out in that hot sun and dust, seven days a week. I think that some of the older ones said that dad worked part of the time, too.
I still have a letter Ray wrote to me. He told about dad’s going to their boss and collecting their wages at the end of the week. He took the money and went into town and got drunk. He also had always to have his tobacco, and his coffee, whether there was anything to eat in the house, or not. More than likely he bought a few groceries too, with the boys’ money.
I can remember quite a few incidents that happened after we moved into what was called the “Fred Lowe” place. Mama and Bert had managed to acquire a couple of nice milk cows and a couple of heifer calves. It was wonderful to have all the milk, cottage cheese, cream and butter we wanted. Bert was alway a “tomboy.” She and mama had problems over this. Mama wanted her girls to be “little ladies.” Bert didn’t want to be a lady. She refused. I think it was probably a very good thing she didn’t want to be a lady, because the things she had to do, most young ladies would resent a lot. She always took care of the cows and calves. She took care of the horses, too, when we had them. She loved horses more than she did anything else in the world, I think.
Anyway, when I was about five, Bert began taking me with her to get the cows. I loved pattering along after her in the dusty trails. I, like she, enjoyed being outside more than inside the house. I spent every minute I could with Bert. I think to this day, I have to give Bert a lot of credit for saving my sanity. She seemed to enjoy my company, and she took good care of me. When we found the cows each night, she would lift me up onto Old Pale’s back, and I would ride home. It was a joyful experience. Just being with Bert was a joyful experience. She liked to talk. She was very intelligent and creative. She taught me many things. She didn’t know she was teaching me–there was nothing pedagogic about her. She just talked to me about things that interested her. Mostly how to care for the animals.
When we got back to the barn with the cows, Bert would send me to the house to get the milk-bucket. Mama always put some hot water from the teakettle in it, so that Bert could rince the pail out before milking. Bert usually sat me up in the manger while she milked. I was afraid of the long horns the cows tossed around. Quite often, Bert would have to send me back to the house to get a five pound lard pail, in which to finish the milking. When the weather permitted it, she milked outside. Even though there were times in my life when Bert got irritated with me, and one time she slapped me very hard for I know not what even to this day, I still feel that Bert simply was not on the same level with other mortals.
Well, actually she wasn’t. She was more intelligent than most, and far more talented than anyone else ever realilzed. She never had any idea, I believe, herself how talented she was. She used up her life and wasted her talent working for wages–to support a worthless son and his children. The only other person who realized her full potential for art, was my son, Jim Tarbert. He remembers and often talks about the fact that she could draw animals with a few scribbles of the pen or pencil. They were as uniform as any picture could possibly be. It didn’t matter what position the animal she was drawing was in–a horse bucking, a dog jumping, a rooster crowing, a man falling from a saddle, or anything else, it was all in proportion, each joint just as it would be if it were a photograph.
I don’t think most people, even most artists, realize how hard that is to do. Even Leonardo Da Vinci, had to make several marks with the pencil, from which he then chose that which looked most right. That is the way he taught his students to do. Bert never erased a mark, nor had to choose among them. When she made one, it was already right–always. What wouldn’t I give for a smidgeon of that talent. Millions of other people would give a great deal to have that much talent, too–but few, if any anywhere, were ever that talented. What a waste!
All of us were talented. Any of the boys could play almost any musical instrument they picked up. They all had wonderful voices, too. Ray had the best. His voice and dad’s were capable of raising emotions one hadn’t previously known one had. Ray could make you cry or laugh, or want to do both at the same time. He could make you feel that you had been carried away out of your own body and existed without body–or that your body had been reincarnated into anotherr completely different. Actually, no one could describe what he could do with his singing voice–so I don’t know why I am trying… How hard to believe that a man gifted with such unusual qualities, along with his great charm, handsome countenance, good body, beautiful eyes, strong, white teeth, could be a molester of children. What made him so unhappy. People adored him, men, women and children. He could have done anything with his life he chose. He could have become president of the United States. People swarmed around him like flies after honey. There would have been a lot of energy thrown behind anything he wanted to do, as all these people would have backed him to the Nth degree. He died a miserable drunk, without ever realizing any of his potential–without, indeed, ever even knowing he had that potential. He was always unhappy and depressed. He had no self-esteem, no confidence in himself or his ability. He never got to enjoy all the gifts he had been handed. what a waste.
Who knows what drove him to molest little girls. I believe that there is something in the lives of people like him, that causes them to be perverted. I have read that some large per cent of all sexual molesters of children, were sexually molested when they were children. I don’t know whether anything like this ever happened to him, or not. It certainly could have.
It makes me wonder about myself too, when I think that he came within a hair’s breadth raping my daughter when she was only about twelve, and that I can still feel more love for him than I do for Haden, Deb, or my dad. While I do not believe there is a more heinous crime than child abuse, especially sexual abuse, I supose the fact that Ray treated me with so much more respect than the others did, that my feelings about him were not so twisted. While I do not believe that Haden or Deb or my dad would have sexually abused a child, certainly they abused me, and all the other children in the family who were young enough that they could manhandle them, or maneuver them, or control them. Maybe that is part of the reason I don’t feel even as much hatred toward Ray, even though I feel more hatred for his crimes.
When we had to leave the Fred Lowe place, Dad sold all our cows. They wee Red and Pale, with cales, Sunshine, nearly ready to calve and and Tulip, a young heifer. Tulip was red,with little freckles on her hooves. Bert led me over to her and stooping down, pointed to one of tose freckles and said, “See that little freckle? Don’t ever forget it as long as you live.
When I was a a child, I had terrible nightmares. I feel sure in light of the psychological books I have read that they were a result of my fear and hatred of my brother Haden and my dad. Haden hated me, and he never lost any chance to make that known to me. Mama said that when I was about a year old, Haden came home, after being away for several months. He came over and picked me up and I squalled. Haden was like dad. He liked kids as long as they didn’t give him any trouble, and were fun to play with. He couldn’t stand a kid that “squalled.” Ever since that day he hated me. He kept me in misery any time he was near, for the rest of my life. Haden liked Flo and Ole and Billie. They hadn’t ever squalled when he wanted to play with them, I guess. Flo was the most daring one of the girls. She defied him now and then, and he liked her “spunk.” Ole was so quiet that she never caused anyone any trouble of any kind. Billie was the baby, and she too, showed her spunk. One time when we were all on the train, Ole and Billie were riding in the seat with Haden. Billie stood up and when Haden started to make her sit down, she said, “I’ll spit in your eye!” Haden laughed and no one in the family ever forgot that. If I had ever had any spunk it had all been taken out of me long before that. I may never have had any, but I am inclined to believe I had had. I was always called “feisty.” I was the one that always fought back, other than to Haden. I don’t know whether the family disliked me because I was feisty–that caused “trouble”–or whether I got feisty from knowing that I was not capable of achieving approval.
In one of the homes we lived in in Montana, we girls all slept upstairs. I was scared to death. When we moved into that house, we were told that it was”haunted.” There were big stains on the stairsteps, and we were told that they were blood stains; that a man had been murdered there–or that a man had murdered his wife. Of course we kids believed it. Anyway, by this time, I was having terrible nightmares every nitht, which helped further to take all that “spunk” Haden admired, out of me. I discovered later, that Hank had nightmares, too, which kept her in a constant nervous state. I don’t remember whether it was before we lived in that house or after, that we were all out playing one night. We had some company, but I don’t remember who the company was. anyway, we were all running and having quite a good time. It began to get dark. All the company left. Somehow, Haden got
Hank and me over to an old abandoned cellar and down into it. I think we must have all gone into it at first. Anyhow, he got everyone out excepting Hank and me, and then put the door down. It was very dark, damp, spider-filled, and smelly. Of course Hank and I became hysterical. We could hear Haden laughing up above. I don’t remember how we got out, but I expect Flo induced him to open the door. Incidents like this certainly didn’t add to our showing any “spunk” He hated Hank, too, and treated her in the same way he treated me. He caused her to have a nervous breakdown. We didn’t know what a nervous breakdown was at that time, but after I learned what they are like, it was easy to know that was what she suffered. She couldn’t ever relax. She had nightmares, too, and had “trembling” spells. One time she was looking down over the banister and saw Bert. She started screaming. She was so frightened she almost fainted just ecause she hadn’t expected to see Bert there at that time. I don’t know what all he did to make Hank so nervous, but I expect that he started in on her years before he started torturing me. She is five years older than I.
Continue on for photos, video, audio files and my Mother’s books.
These are some videos of my mom. Please visit my youtube page at www.youtube.com/sylvanro
These are super-8 films transferred to video of some Walling family reunions in the 80’s.
Some time in the 70’s, my sister Darlene asked my mom to make some audio recordings about her life. They were made on a cassette recorder and I ended up with those recordings and have digitized them and uploaded. For convenience, I have broken up the recordings into 37 tracks and numbered them in the order they were recorded but the first 9 files are hosted on youtube. Click the “Playlist Mom’s Audio” to hear those.
|First 9 on youtube|
For a hard copy, Click for More Information
My Mother was a writer most of her life. She wrote her own life story and several novels. When she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, I made digital copies of as many as I could at the time. “Forbidden Dreams of Love” was the first in a trilogy of books she wrote. After she had passed away, I went through it and did what editing I could do and published with iUniverse. Later, I would also publish on the “CreateSpace” website. Hard copies can still be ordered on either one.
Here is a digital copy for those that are visiting my “Live Stories Network.” Please enjoy it and make comments.
Click link to read: Forbidden_Dreams_of_Love.pdf
This is the second book in a trilogy of civil war love novels my mother wrote. It had taken quite a bit of time to go through the first book in the trilogy. I have never gone through Flames but here is what I have in a PDF format.