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Jim's story - Page 11

Written by James Needham Groom (b.1911-)

I also delivered Telegrams for the Western Union, working from 4:00 PM until midnight. By riding my bicycle hard for eight hours, being paid by the delivery, I could make close to a dollar a day, out of which I had to maintain my bicycle, buy a 5 cent hamburger for supper, plus make a weekly payment on my bicycle. My career as a messenger boy ended one night in north Fort Worth when some boys in a car swerved out of the street onto the sidewalk striking the rear wheel of my bike, leaving me 10 miles from home, broke, my bicycle wrecked and my left knee injured. All in all, not a great experience.

In all these activities, moving from one place to another every one or two years, I was constantly the new kid in school, or playground or wherever, and kids always tested the new kid to see if he would stand and fight, run, or if he would fight, how well could he perform. As I sold papers, caddied, changed schools and played with new kids, I gradually changed from a boy who was pretty easy to ship to a street kid who learned the manly art of self defense pretty well. I did this by analyzing the act of fist fighting. Thusly - l. A blow with the bare knuckle in the face hurts without being very hard and swinging hard, the punch very seldom landed, so I figured that a short, straight, left jab would be my main weapon. 2. There are no set founds in a street fight and no rest periods, so the one who ran out of gas first was the looser. My strategy was to move as little as possible, land my left jab to the face, taunt my opponent into as much exertion as I could get him to, watch him for signs of exhaustion., i.e., hard breathing thru a wide open mouth, dropping his hands lower, and slowing his movements. When I deemed the time to be right, I cut loose with my right hand. I am not dealing with championship boxing, but talking about survival at the Caddy Shack at the golf course, at the Western Union messenger boy room, selling papers, and being the new boy at school..

My father graduated from the Southwestern Baptist Seminary with a Theological BA degree in 1925 when I was 14 years old and he and I left Fort Worth to pick cotton in Southwestern Oklahoma, near Tipton. As there was a large debt to the loan department at the Seminary, nearly all the money we made picking cotton went to the debt. We went into the winter of 1925-26 broke, and no way to eat regularly, but when spring came in 1926, we hoed cotton until wheat harvest started. 1926 was one of the last years before combines took over harvesting wheat, so I was lucky enough to get a job with one of the last independent thrashing crews. When the wheat turned from green to a golden yellow late in May, the farmer used a machine called C. binder to cut the wheat. This machine was powered by fix to eight horses, hitched in a line. The wheels were slotted to give good traction ……………."

This is as far as my Dad got in telling this story. I sit here at this computer looking at the orange spiral notebook where he printed the pages and contemplate the blank pages that remain, There they are - waiting for so much more - but will remain like that forever. He continues to be an inspiration to me, though. Dad taught us to do the very best we can, no matter what it is that we do. And that’s what he’s doing now. -
Sally Jane (Groom) Hummer

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