By Norris Chambers

              In the back country where I grew up kids kept pretty busy. We hunted a lot, fished some, did considerable work and had a lot of fun. At the age of seven we started our book learning at the closest country school. The little town where Clifton and I started in 1925 was overflowing with oil field workers and their children causing the four-room school house to overflow. There were little kids and big kids – some were nice and some were not so nice.

            About the second week of the school term Clifton and I were just entering the school yard one morning when two of the big boys stepped in font of us.

            “Halt!” One of them hollered. “You got to stop and pay tribute.” 

            “What’s that?” I asked, not knowing what he was talking about.

            “Take everything out of your pockets. Let us see what you’ve got.”  We didn’t know what the tribute thing was but we did understand the pocket command. We reached in both pockets of the overalls we wore and pulled out our treasures. I had an old pocket knife, a nickel and an old spinning top. Clifton had similar stuff and he held it out for them to see. We were shocked when they reached out and took it from our hands. One of them took what I had and the other emptied Clifton ’s hands.

            The long-necked one who had taken my wealth complained about us not having much and then he slapped me in the face. The shorter one uttered some ugly word and they ran off toward the school house.

            This encounter shocked and surprised us. We hadn’t been robbed before and were a little uncertain as to what to do. Clifton came up with the answer, “We’ll tell John. He’ll know what to do.” John was one of Clifton ’s big cousins. We both had confidence in John’s ability to handle any situation.

            We found John on the other side of the school building involved in a softball game. Clifton ran out to left field where his cousin was waiting to catch a ball and quickly explained to him what had happened. He and Clifton ran back to the group standing around the batting area and he had someone take his place in the field. We started around the building looking for the two robbers. We soon spotted them with a group of marble players.

            “When we get there,” John told us, “Let Clifton approach the tall, long-necked one and start harassing him and then while they are busy talking Norris will come up behind old Long Neck and lock his arm around his neck.”  John turned to me and said, “Hold on tight and don’t turn loose.” And then he instructed Clifton , “Start hitting him in the face and the stomach as hard as you can. If the other one starts anything I will take care of him!”

             Clifton ran over in front of the tall guy and started calling him names. Before he had time to answer or act I was behind him and had his scrawny neck between my right arm and my shoulder and was holding on to my wrist tightly with my left arm. This was the signal for Clifton to get busy. He started pounding the guy in the face with both fists and when he threw up his arms to protect himself Clifton landed a few solid punches in the stomach.

            John caught the other villain by the arm and asked him if he wanted some of the same treatment. A crowd was gathering around us. A fight always draws a crowd of onlookers.

            John asked the one he was holding if he wanted to get a few licks or did he want to give back what he had stolen. I guess he wasn’t a fighter because he said, “I’ll give it back! Don’t hit me.”  Old Long-neck was already begging Clifton to quit. I still held the scrawny neck firmly in my arm lock.

            “Are you ready to give back what you stole?” John inquired. The answer was a quick “Yes” blurted out between blows to the nose and cheek. John told me to turn him loose and Clifton quit pounding him. Both of the trouble makers quickly returned what they had taken.

The crowd started dispersing and the affair would have been closed but Mr. Stone, the School Superintendent, walked up and wanted to know what the trouble was.

            John told him what the boys had done and that they had returned the items they took in the robbery. “It’s good that you repented and returned your ill-gotten gain. A crime always leads to punishment so you two come with me to my office and we will take care of that.”

            The two hoodlums walked toward the school with Mr. Stone. Old Long-neck was rubbing his face and his buddy looked a little down in the mouth!

            Could this incident be described as fun? Fights were never fun but during those early years we were involved in a few. We didn’t win all of them as easily as this one but we survived!