In the fall of 1926, Joe started to school at the Cross Lanes School.
Euel Brooks was his first teacher and was boarding with Uncle Jim Buttram. When Joe first arrived on the playground, Lon Foster and Burle Shell began arguing as to who was going to sit by Little Joe. They finally staged a mock fight for Little Joe's benefit. When we were finally in the schoolhouse, the teacher seated Joe with his cousin, O'Neil Miser. All of the desks in the Cross Lanes School were double desks. The desk that Joe and O'Neil had was a front row desk in front of the big heating stove. Joe was the only child in the first grade and O'Neil was in the second grade. Joe only went to school at Cross Lanes until the end of December, when the family moved to the Liberty School District.
The fall of 1926 was a very rainy season. The roads around Cross Lanes were a quagmire and practically unusable. The people made a date to meet with the road overseer for the district, Mr. Marion Doke of Garfield. They were to meet Marion on a Saturday morning at the Bill Foster place. When Choc got ready to go to the meeting, Joe tagged along behind his father. When they arrived at the Foster house, Joe saw a straw hat in the middle of the muddy road. He tried to retrieve it but Bill Foster said, "No, just let it lay."
It wasn't long until we saw Mr. Doke riding his horse down Leetown Road and then turn north to the Foster place. When he had done greeting the party, he asked, "By the way, who's hat is that lying in the road?"
At this time, Bill Foster had taken his hat off and placed it over his heart and said, "I didn't know the fellow, he rode up yesterday morning on a fine looking horse."
With that said, Doke said, "You will get your gravel."
He then spelled out how it would work.
"I have in my possession six sets of dump boards that are owned by Benton County. The School District will have to furnish six spring wagons, and six teams and drivers. The County will furnish one team and driver to stack the gravel on the Wardlow farm on Sugar Creek. Six loaders to shovel the gravel onto the wagon and a horse drawn spreader with driver to spread and grade the gravel after it is dumped on the road."
Bill had enough volunteers that the hauling was divided up between several families. Choc volunteered Wix with his team and wagon. It wasn't long before the roads around Cross Lanes were all graveled and passable. Bill Humphrey, the mail carrier, could now deliver the mail without having to follow ruts for miles up and down the muddy roads. The roads were so bad before that, Bill Foster would have Glen and Lon gather up the plow horses and go up and down the roads and give children piggy back rides to school. Joe remembers that in the fall of 1926, his father had come home from his railroad job in Kansas, he was despondent because he had been laid off. He harnessed the team and hooked them to the wagon and took the family to visit a brother of his grandmother, Martha Josephine Harris Pitts.
Joe cannot remember the first name of the Mr. Harris they had gone to visit. He recalls going past the Twelve Corners Church and school, then angling north toward the Missouri state line. After they had passed the Warren farm, they turned right and went down into a big hollow with a small creek. There were two houses on this farm and the father lived in one and his son lived in the other. Joe tells that his mother had told him that that Pete Webb had married a Banks and bought the Harris place and raised most of his family there. About the only thing Joe remembers about that day is that the boys spent most of the day in a water hole in the creek.
Choc was considering the possibility of going into farming and had come to get some recommendation from his great uncle. The apple orchard was no longer bearable and Choc and Phebe had borrowed money to have the trees taken out. The interest rate at that time was said to be from 15 to 20%. They had borrowed money from Timothy Rice and had no way to pay him back. Timothy Rice had married mother's cousin Sally Buttram and he was an honorable man. He suggested that they sell the farm to mother's cousin, Leonard Miser, and he could recoup his money and that Choc and Phebe would have something to start over with.
When the sale was complete, the family was to vacate the farm in January of 1927. After Choc came home from Kansas, he and his father, William Robert (Bob) Pitts had decided to start farming together. Grandfather had always been a drayman rather than a farmer. He had only farmed enough to have a garden and feed for his stock. The farm he now lived on belonged to his son, Walter, who bought it so his dad would have a place to live out his life. It was a 15-acre farm along the railroad above Brightwater. In 1925, Granddad had received an inheritance from his grandfather, Levi, who lived in North Carolina. He had bought a brand new Springfield wagon and new harness for Dan and Ribbon, his two horses. In late December they had been moving into the house next to Liberty School. The house had sawed oak siding and as Joe remembers it, it wasn't much of a house.
They were to get a better house down the road as soon as the occupant could find a place to live. The last thing Joe can remember about the old place was Grandfather Bob had returned from making a load. As they were leaving, Grandfather, Mother and baby Hugh were on the wagon seat. Joe and David were in the back of the wagon leading Kaiser Bill, Felix was riding Dan and leading Molly the cow. When we had settled in the new home next to the Liberty School house, we had a sort of dilemma.
Mother would never allow a cat into her house and now we had a cat she couldn't get rid of. Wix was the animal lover in the family and he was the only one who could get near the cat. The cat was multicolored and was beautiful. It was so wild that no one could catch it except Wix. There was a small opening in the ceiling next to where the flue for the stove went up through the attic. Every time the door would open the cat would come through the house and hit that hole. It lived in the attic. Mother tried to get Wix to take the cat away, but Wix said the attic was his home and that was where he belonged. Felix and Charles would "sic" the dog on the cat just to see Wix climb the tree to get him down. The boys had better not be anywhere near when Wix hit the ground though. Mother finally gave up and let the cat live in the attic. The best thing was that we didn't have any problem with mice.