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Texas | Columns | "It's All Trew"

Selling water
never a thought

by Delbert Trew
Delbert Trew

My chair upon which I have sat each morning at 7 a.m. for more than 20 years is located in the Crockett Travel Center in Alanreed. I sit beside a freezer holding sacks of ice. Just up the aisle, shelves of plastic jugs full of water are offered. To one side are coolers of cold drinks with plastic water bottles in prominent display. I would be afraid to estimate how many of the containers of water and bags of ice I have seen carried out in the last 20 years.

It sure is different from the old days. The very thought that water could be sold never entered our minds when I was young. Water belonged to whoever needed it. All were welcome to pump a handle, visit the windmill or turn on a faucet.

Every home had a water bucket sitting on the cabinet with a dipper inside. To refuse to drink from the family dipper was an insult to the owner. Grandma Trew even kept new No. 16 iron nails in her water bucket by the sink to put iron in your blood. Guess it worked as I have been accused of having lead in my rear many times.

No one gave thought to drinking from a rusty cup or tin can with a baling wire handle hanging from a windmill tower. Field crews shared a water jug gladly. An insulated, ice-packed water can with a spout had not been invented yet. In spite of all these unsanitary conditions we somehow survived.

Ice was purchased in blocks at town then chipped for iced-tea jars. It was used sparingly and never wasted. On special occasions we placed chunks of ice in a gunny sack and smashed it into small pieces with the flat side of an axe to fit into an ice-cream freezer. Today, millions of dollars are spent each year on 10-pound plastic sacks of chipped ice.

Each spring when school let out for the summer, mother stopped at the Coca-Cola Bottling Plant in Perryton and purchased two-dozen empty, glass, 1-gallon syrup jugs. We cleaned them thoroughly then wrapped them in gunny sacks. Mother had a large sacking needle and sewed the sacks tight with jute-binder twine. That was our early-day insulation. My job was to cut and tie short loops of rope through the finger hole at the mouth of the jug. This was the handle.

Then each employee chose a jug, whittled a stopper and tied it to the jug so it wouldn't get lost. Then each man had his own personal water jug for which he was responsible. Just fill your jug at the windmill, douse it in the horse tank to wet the gunny sack cover and you were ready for the day's work with your water by your side.

One of the first signs of maturity came when I was able to hoist my water jug over my elbow and drink without stopping my tractor. That really made me proud.


Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew"
September 2, 2008 Column




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