In Fruita, Colo.
By Guest Blogger
I’m Ada Brownell, retired newspaper reporter from The Pueblo Chieftain in Colorado and a free
lance writer who has sold to Christian publications since age 15. I’m the author of two books. Swallowed by LIFE: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal . recently released on Amazon and should be available soon at other outlets. Another book is Confessions of a Pentecostal, published by the Assemblies of God. Both books will be available soon as e-books.
In the late 1930s, my parents packed a few dilapidated possessions, leaving enough space for their seven children in the flat-bed truck with sideboards.
The old tires spun through the dusty Kansas roads and then took the narrow paved road toward Colorado, through the mountains, and on to the Grand Valley.
For the moment Mama forgot the time Dad had to find his way to the house during a dust storm by following the clothes line. She didn’t think about the long days and nights she spent covering her children’s faces with wet rags so they wouldn’t get dust pneumonia during the storms.
She hoped the severe poverty caused by The Great Depression, the drought , dust storms and grasshopper plagues was finally over.
My oldest brother, Virgil, went with Dad to check out the Western Slope of Colorado to see whether they could buy a little parcel of land and move. They bought a little farm in Fruita, 10 miles west of Grand Junction, the large city in the area where the Colorado and Gunnison rivers intersect.
Along the highway Virgil stood up in the truck and watched as they left the flat brown plains behind. Virgil had his share of heartaches, too. The Shetland pony he loved so much got into Grandpa’s grasshopper poison and died. Virgil had covered the garden with screen wire—even the onions—and the grasshoppers ate it all, even the onions right out of the ground, leaving vacant holes.
I can imagine Mom, pregnant with me, praying things would be better now. Then suddenly she felt the cool fresh breeze through the open truck window. They’d hit areas of irrigated land and green lush blankets of hay and winter wheat covered the valleys to the edges of the white-topped mountains. Some of the fertile soil was being plowed; some tender plants were growing here and there.
When they reached the Grand Valley which would be their new home, Mama felt she’d landed in Paradise. Flat-topped peach trees blossomed in the valley next to Palisade, and climbed all the way up to Orchard Mesa and covered it.
“Won’t there be danger of frost?” she asked Daddy.
“Maybe, but some peach ranchers use smudge pots and it will save most of the crop.
Homes everywhere had green irrigated lawns and flowers blooming. Wild flowers even blossomed along the road.
The tiny white house Dad bought had only two bedrooms and a back porch, but Mama was delighted.They hung a curtain to divide the largest bedroom. The three boys slept on one side; the four girls on the other.
It was only about a mile to the bridge that crossed the Colorado River and then the red Rocky Mountains that held the Colorado National Monument in their bosom rose high in the sky. The view out the windows of our home was better than paintings for the walls.
Lush fertile land surrounded the little home and Mom and Dad had 10 acres. The garden was huge and Mom and some of the older children worked in it many hours from early spring until fall—when I was born. That made 10 of us in the house for Daddy to feed.
Daddy and Virgil got a job shoveling coal from railroad cars onto trucks and were paid $1 for a 12-hour day.
Times were still hard, but things were better than Kansas.
A local church in the midst of a great revival heard a large family was moving to town and began praying for us. The lady across the street came over carrying her Bible. Mom had been raised in a Christian home, but her tattered spirit lay dry and nearly empty.
God sent a good Christian friend to every one of my older brothers and sisters when they started school. Soon the whole family was serving God, full of joy. Singing and music filled our house. I grew up in that kind of atmosphere.
Because they canned and preserved everything they could, our table was spread lavishly with fruits and vegetables and unexpected company was never a big deal. All we had to do was go out in the chicken pen, to the garden or down to the cellar and we ate better than lots of folks eat today. Mom often asked the preacher, evangelists and missionaries for dinner.
When we had company, as soon as someone prayed Mama looked around the table at each of us and said “FHB.”
That meant “family hold back” and make sure the guests have plenty to eat.
When I was age 8, my parents bought a big two-story house in town with four bedrooms, three porches, and room for my married siblings when they came home as well as guests. They still had several acres, a milk cow, chickens, raised other animals and grew most of their food.
I live in Missouri now and when I go back to Fruita, I am amazed at the beauty there. What an awesome Creator we have!