The Houston Years-EC Chron
Farmers were devastated by the “Crash of ’29.” Most people suffered, but farmers suffered to an uncommon degree. The price of cotton dropped from over 40 cents per pound to less than 6 cents! Farm wages were under a dollar a day—if you could find a job!
Another problem was banks–they were all going broke! Ralls had two banks. The one that closed was the one Dad and Grandpa Chron had their money in. Dad had been paying on a note, but the bank failed to give him credit for his payments so he had to pay the note twice–with interest!
In 1930, Dad turned his little farm over to Grandpa. He loaded his little family into his old Ford and headed for Houston. In the early 1920’s, Dad had worked for Houston Electric as a street car operator–he hoped to do it again!
Dad applied to Mr. Ledbetter, his former boss. Mr. Ledbetter informed him of the many applicants ahead of him, but Dad was not easily discouraged. Every day he reported to Mr. Ledbetter for a job. After about 30 days, his opportunity arrived! The night before, the operator on Doweling Street was knifed and robbed. Crime was an epidemic all over Houston, but Doweling Street was the worst of the worst! But Dad was happy to get the job!
The Operators had to defend themselves anyway they could. Dad armed himself with a pair of steel “knucks,” a switchblade knife and a .38 pistol. He openly displayed the pistol–hoping to discourage the robbers!
One night while Dad was at work, a prowler tried to break into our house. Mom stood behind the door with a five-prong ice pick. That prowler was lucky he didn’t break in! The next night Dad left his .38 with Mom. About midnight a robber came up behind dad-stuck a pistol in Dad’s back and demanded all of his #!#!!# rags! (money) Dad grappled with him for the pistol, but the robber broke free and fired at Dad point-blank! The concussion knocked Dad over a hand-rail–flat on his back! The bullet passed through his heavy raincoat and under his armpit–without a scratch! Before Dad could get up–the thug grabbed the money and ran.
Dad was in a great hurry to move back to the farm. He worked double shifts many days–taking any extra run he could get. Some months he cleared over $300! In two years, he was out of debt and ready to farm again!