MARSHALL’S CHILDHOOD MEMORIES

          I grew up in the little railroad town of Ash Fork. I say little because it was so small by the time the train pulled into town it was already out of town. Our sister city was a Taco Bell in Costa Rica.

          Ash Fork High School was so small our annual school play my junior year was “Snow White and the Dwarf.” Our driver’s education class and sex education class was both taught in the same car.

          The town was so friendly even the crooks on the wanted posters down at the post office had smiles on their faces.  Ash Fork was so laid back we took valium for a stimulant.

          Ash Fork was a “dry” town. All the water had to be hauled in daily by rail from Chino Valley. That explains why there were more saloons than water fountains. During the election of 1948 the county recorder down in Prescott asked our magistrate and justice of the peace, Jack Slamon how many voters did we have broken down by sex. With a straight face he replied, “None that I know of; our main problem is alcohol.”

          The windy season began in early January and usually lasted until late December. When we moved to Ash Fork in 1947 the town was only 68 miles east of Kingman and when we moved away in 1955 it was 112 miles. I figure sometime late in the 21st century Ash Fork will be in New Mexico.

          The first few years we lived in a little two-room trailer house with no plumbing. My mom and dad slept on the fold-down couch in the living room and my two brothers and I slept on the kitchen nook that broke down into a bed. I never slept alone ‘til I got married.

          We was poor before it became fashionable; before the rich got involved with it. Uncle Jimmy used to say, “Son, get into poverty; that’s where the money is.” We were so poor we stole trash from the neighbors so we’d have something to put out on garbage collection day. The Blue Book value on our car went up and down depending on how much gas we had in the tank. My mother used to feed us beans for breakfast, a glass of water for lunch and we’d just swell up for supper.

          My dad was out of work most of the time and my mom had to take a job as a waitress in a road house café. One day I told her I was going to learn to play the violin, become a concert pianist and we’d be rich. Then we’d move to Williams.

          She replied, “Marshall, why don’t you learn to play the guitar, got down to the bars, sing them cowboy songs, make a little money….and you’d get to know your father a whole lot better too.”

          One day my arithmetic teacher asked, “Marshall, if you had $14.27 in one pocket and $9.81 in the other pocket, what would you have?”

          I said, “Somebody else’s pants on.”

          I didn’t do well in school. I spent the happiest three years of my life in the third grade.

          One day I came home and told my mother, “Mom, I got the biggest feet in the fifth grade. Is that because I’m Irish?”

          She said, “No, it’s because you’re sixteen years old.

          One day I brought home a report card with four F’s and one D. My dad looked at it and said, “Marshall, I think you’re spending too much time on one subject.”

          There were only ten kids in my senior class but I can truthfully list on my resume that I graduated in the top ten.      

          We had the smallest high school in northern Arizona and our sports teams were always getting beat by the big cities like Seligman and Peach Springs. We were so bad our cheerleaders were trained as grief counselors.

          One time, after we lost a basketball game to Williams 99 to 13, a reporter from the Williams News asked our coach what he thought of our teams execution and he replied “I’m all for it.” He went on to say, “If this was football, Marshall would be our drawback.

          My family moved to Maryvale my senior year and it raised the IQ in both places.