I was born the tenth child of Joe Hayden and Nancy Elizabeth (Beaver) Ratliff, in Quitaque, Texas, May 15, 1933, In 1936, Mom and Dad packed up their few belongings, and with Artrue, Nadine, Zelpha, Joe Beaver and me , headed out to join my brother. L.C. (Pece) in Ft. Sumner, New Mexico. Here Dad start ed raising livestock, mostly hogs, and growing tomatoes. We had an old Model A truck that almost fell apart as we chugged down the roads delivering our livestock and goods to town.
In 1939, I started to school, which did not thrill me. I would much rather have been out hunting and fishing with Dad, and I tried every trick in the ‘book to convince Mama to let me stay at home. Since I had to go, I tried to make the best of it. I was the pro at spitball shooting! I also enjoyed lunchtime. I would trade the city boys two pieces of Mama’s fried chicken for one bologna sandwich on store bought bread. School wasn’t all that bad though. I met Barbara Longbotham and I liked her. I used my romantic charm to get her attention. On one occasion, I tied her long, beautiful brown pigtails to her desk chair. That didn’t work so well, so I dipped them in ink. I guess one of my most charming moves was getting my buddies together, coll ecting crawdads and putting them in the teacher’s desk, ‘”hat a surprise, crawdads instead of pencils! She passed out. Every one enjoyed that escanade, until she woke up. The girls, includ ing Barbara, had to carry the little snapping critters outside in their dress tails.
Well, Barbara must have taken a liking to my style because we started dating in 1949, and were married in Santa Rosa August 8, 1951. We moved to Albuquerque and rented ourselves a one room apartment, fully equipped with a 3-burner hot plate and a real ice box. We had the privilege of sharing the bath with five other families. That was okay by us because that was the first time we had an indoor bathroom. I worked for a Ford dealer.
Shortly afterwards we moved back to Ft. Sumner. On November 17, 1952 our lives were blessed with the arrival of our first child, Gloria Jean. We bought a house in July 1957. I had moved up in the world to working for the city gas company. Gloria was a good little girl, and generally obeyed all rules, such as, “never ride with strangers”. One morning shortly after time for her to catch the school bus, she came in the house crying. Seems the school bus had broken down and the bus driver’s husband was picking the Kids up in his station wagon. Gloria didn’t ride with anyone other than the bus driver.
On January 17, 1959, we were again blessed with a baby daughter, Belinda Annette. She didn’t always obey the rules, though. She liked to walk Gloria to the bus stop and was told to go there and then come straight home. For some odd reason, she could not resist the temptation to stop off at her Aunt Tressie’s house. As a peace offering for mom, and in an attempt to avoid punishment, she would talk Aunt Tressie out of some food and bring it home, proudly delivering her goodies to Barbara.
Well, in October 1964, I got a job with Civil Service and we packed up and headed for Alamogordo, New Mexico. For three of the years I worked at Sacramento Peak Sun Observatory, altitude 10,000 feet. I traveled 30 miles round trip each day straight up that mountain. The winter days were dangerous ones. Oftentimes i± took me half a day to carefully maneuver the car over the ice up the hill. Once I arrived, I climbed up into a snow plow and started right back down the mountain, clearing the roads for otners, and frequently pulling school buses and stranded cars out of the drifts. I spent a lot of lonely nights upon the mountain, unable to get back down to Barbara and the girls.
We had a very busy year in 1970. I transferred to Clovis, New Mexico in June and Barbara stayed in Alamogordo making prep arations for her parents’ 50th anniversary in July, and for Gloria’s wedding, Gloria’s best friend’s wedding, and our move to Clovis. August 8, 1970, we gained a wonderful son-in-law, Karl Thornburg. He was in the Air Force, and he and Gloria stayed in Alamogordo and Barbara, Belinda and I moved to Clovis. It was nice to get back closer to my home and brothers. In 1973, Gloria and Karl moved to Clovis, and on October 2, 1973. we enjoyed one of the biggest thrills of our lives – we became grandparents!! Gloria gave birth to Christopher Andrew Thornburg. During the next couple of years, we enjoyed spoiling Chris, and we watched our own baby, Belinda, grow into a young lady, Our family continued to be blessed as our second grandchild, Curtis Reed was born to Gloria and Karl, January 4, 1977.
Karl had to leave for California for language school very shortly after Curtis’ birth, and Gloria and the boys joined him in February 1977. It was very lonely without them, but we busied ourselves with preparation for Belinda’s graduation from high school in May 1977. In June 1977, Barbara, Belinda and I took off two weeks and visited Gloria and Karl and those precious boys in California. In September 1977 Gloria and Karl moved to Madrid, Spain for three years. Fortunately, we were able to go visit them in Spain in July 1978. What an opportunity! When I was a kid on the farm, I never knew there was any place but the dust storms of New Mexico and Texas, and now I had become a “world traveler”.
On May 26, 1979, we gained another wonderful son-in-law, Keith John Kloos. Keith was, also, in the Air Force and he and Belinda lived in Clovis until October 1979, when they were trans ferred to Panama City, Florida. All those years of wondering, “Will these girls ever grow up and get out of the house?” and now we were alone. They were lonely days, but we are a close family and each remained in the hearts of the others. In July of 1980, we drove to the beautiful white sandy beaches of the Gulf of Mexico to visit Belinda and Keith. What a joyous reunion! Gloria, and our grandsons flew in from Spain and met us there. We brought them home with us, and Karl returned from Spain in August 1980, and they were station again in Alamogordo. We were said and Wynne, and Majeed to Keith was sent to Frankfurt, Germany, July 3. But I did join him August 16, and in July the following year we had the privilege to travel to Germany and to learn my Belinda was having such a good time. The country was clean and beautiful and the people are friendly. It took us to Highland to visit some longtime friends. For poor farm boy I sure had a great opportunity to see many parts of the world.
Karl was discharged from the Air Force in December 1981, and started working for the FAA in Houston, Texas. He was transferred to Lubbock in November 1983, I may have made their home there. Lynda and Keith return from Germany in August 9-4 and they now live in New Jersey. We hope to visit him in 1985. Boland and Barbara will probably try to buy out some of the stores in New York.
I’ve come along way, if it hasn’t been all easy, but I’m very blessed to have such a wonderful family, and I give thanks to God for each and everyone of you.