Saturday, February 18, 2006

This is What a Little Cotton Picker Can Do

My dad was an extremely articulate and intelligent guy. He was a stickler for the English language, and its correct usage. It used to frustrate me that when he checked my homework, no matter what subject, he always insisted on me using correct grammar and spelling. Having grown up extremely poor and on “the other side of the tracks,” he was determined to excel and outperform everyone around him.
I never knew anyone as quick and sharp-witted as my dad. He could do complex mathematical calculations in his head, and his reasoning skills were incredible. He was brilliant in his discernment and assessment of almost any situation, and he could read people with a short conversation. Few things ever got past him.
That’s why I find the following autobiography of him so interesting. It was written shortly before he died, after he was already somewhat senile. I’m going to transcribe it just as he wrote it, complete with misspelled words and grammatical errors. I know in his state of mind, and no doubt on pretty heavy doses of morphine, this must have been difficult for him to write. I am so ever grateful he chose to record this piece of history… and I have it in his own handwriting.

Louis S. Tamez, CAPTAIN, United State Air Force
BORN: 11-23-29, SAN ANTONIO, TX.

Louis was an indusitous individual. The first time he went to Michigan to pick beets. This was the first job had at age 7. These days were though – jobs were rare – So everybody had to work. During
when everyone was at the work – no school!

After the workers accumulate enough money to return to our homes in San Antonio, TX.
At this point, kids that worked had to go to school and catch up on what they had already missed. Since I all ways wanted to learn all that I could, I would complete the things I had to do.
When I was 8, we went to west texas to pick cotton. I would start thinking if I would catch up on my studies when we return home. We picked cotton every year – I started at 8 years old and 9 years, 10 years.
People had to do this so we could have something to eat and clothes to wear – we had to survive in anyway. Many young children never went to school –it was tough to do.
I could see how my mother worked to make do with what we got. She wanted my Sister, Mary and I to do better than our mother – so she would tell us that we had to go to school to learn something.
I loved my mother very much and I wanted to do all I could buy learning all that I could to be better for Mom and for me.
At 11 years of age, I wanted to go to high school – my mom didn’t know how I could get a job that would help everyone. The more I learned the more I knew that someday my mom wold be very happy.
I had a job at a grocery store. After school I would run to the store and work till the store closed – 11 pm. I would walk home and do my homework – we did not have electricity – but I had to be at the armory at 7:00 AM –as I was one of the leaders in the ROTC – I worked very hard, and I learned much.
When the senior year was coming I started to seed how I could graduate, and I was very poor as always – I graduated in my ROTC suit.
At that point if you had money, you could go to colledge, if you did not have money, start looking for a job.
I knew I had to find a job that would pay me well and teach me to be better – the only way I could do this was to join the Army Air Corp. I enlisted as a private, World War II was coming to a stop the war, we were paying private and I was getting $50 per month. I would send $25 to mom. I always needed money – the things my mom that needed and I wanted to help I could. I started a business in my barracks – things my mom taught me – like washing and ironing my buddies that they could do – I was washing and pressing unifords and I made money.
When we left from our place where we were station.
I left this place and when got off the train, and we saw that our station would Washington, D.C.
We went through a bunch of tests, and the took the best 10 men and they started to go to school again. They sent me to the US Coast ^Gurard and Geodich Servey to learn to make charts and maps. We learn how to get arial airiel photography – learn it well – got first promotion.
They sent me to other great schools and I learn more – more promotions
Sent me to Puerto Rico, as one of 10 to do all the charts and mocias – more promotions –sent to French Morrocco to make aerial maps and charts –
Sent back to Washington to do more charting from 2nd World War – we had captured all the photos – we had to make charts and maps of the Soviat empire.
Went to do best on our Air Force in Omaha – they gave me the biggest bundle yet had three men and I Did great job – Promotion to the top grade Master Sargent – I was 25 years old – No more promotions because Master Sargent was the Top.
I disided to get out of the Air Force and work in Washington –
My officers asked me if I would want to go in the Aviation Cadets. I thought they were gr craze out of there heads –
I applied to the program and I finished the program and became as officers and I became a navigator – went to many countries – I had 3 years
I love the U.S. Air Force. I not only made Master Sargent – I got a commission. I retired a U.S. Air Force Captain, retired.
This is what a little cotton picker can do – no other contry gives the people to do what ever we want.


“I can do all things through Christ, which strengthens me. “

I don't think Dad ever stopped seeing himself as a little cotton picker. He was friends with anyone (except male nurses.) I still meet people that knew him, and I don't think I've ever heard anyone say anything bad about him. What a legacy. My dad was a fighter, and never gave up, even in the end. He didn’t want to die. He wanted to beat the cancer like he beat everything else. He taught me to trust God, but to use what He gave me so I could be a producer. He never wanted any of us to be mooches, and always told me that I lived in the United States of America, the greatest country in the world, and I could do whatever I wanted to and be whatever I wanted to be. He loved us, and showed me how much he loved me until he no longer could. He died gracefully, and he will never be forgotten.
Thank you, Lord, for giving me a father like him. Just as you never have, he never gave up on me either.

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