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Hazel's Story

A story about Hazel Treat compiled for the occasion of her 90th birthday, by Charles, Deanna, and Randy. Revised May 1999

Her parents and grandparents were among the first that settled this part of the country. Her Grandpa and Grandma Shepherd originally came from Iowa. They moved to Colorado so he could work on the railroad, then he filed a homestead on a place near Fargo. Her father filed on a place as soon as he was old enough, living in a dugout and cooking on a "monkey stove" to satisfy the homestead residency requirements.

Hazel was born on that place, September 18, 1907, at the southern edge of Beaver County, near the Texas state line, in a one-room sod house with a dirt floor. She was the first of eight kids born to Asa and Goldie Shepherd -- next came Oden, Oran, Ferman, Glades, Ancil, Chester, and Lester, who was nicknamed "Joe".

Life was harsh on the open prairie, but the people of the area shared common values, like a hard work ethic, honesty and integrity, a strong sense of church and community, and a ready willingness to help out a neighbor. These values served Hazel and her brothers and sister very well.

Young Hazel went to Lovell School, two and a half miles north and a half mile east of their house. There were no cars and no school buses. Hazel rode a school horse.

Their family transportation was a two-seated buggy with a team of 2 little mules. They were high-spirited mules, because they went everywhere on the run. They didn't dare lay the reins down because those "darn mules" would run away with the buggy.

She was five years old when she saw her first car, which had come down from Wichita to be in a parade at Ivanhoe. When asked about her recollections, she said "it looked like a wagon with nor horse. I couldn't figure out what in the world made it go."

She was seven when her Dad bought his first car for $400. They didn't have that car long, because someone came along and offered him $800 for it. Somehow, her Dad always seemed to do well on his car deals.

She was nine years old when she first saw Columbus Treat, her future husband, who had rode up from Elk City to visit his sister, Spicie. Spicie was married to Hazel's uncle, Walter Shepherd, who lived just across the pasture.

Columbus and Spicie's mother had passed away when they were very young and their father had left them. So they were raised by their mother's brother, Billy Young, who had 10 kids of his own. Columbus didn't know much about his Dad. He did say he lived in Arkansas but would run to Indian Territory when he got in trouble.

Of the first meeting, Hazel says, "My brother Oden and I were in the garden hoeing potatoes, and I remember he came up to say hi! He was 18 then, but I just thought of him as a big kid... he played with Oden and I just like a kid."

All the family worked hard on the farm. The crops, animals, garden, and orchard had to be tended, bread had to be baked and they had to can and preserve for the winter. Since Hazel was the oldest of the kids, she did the sewing for the whole family. Her Dad would buy a bolt of material, which was the least expensive way to buy it. Hazel would sew all summer making five boys four shirts apiece to wear to school. That would have to last them all winter. And then, she made dresses for her sister and herself. It wasn't hard to tell they were part of the same family, because many times they would have on matching shirts.

Ancil was 2 years old when tragedy struck. He came down with "brain fever", and he lay lifeless for six weeks. Hazel and Glades did all the cooking when their Mama was gone, making the long, hard trips to Wichita and Beaver to doctor their little brother. But the damage was done, and Ansel's mind never fully developed. He had to stay home, gradually becoming paralyzed. He passed away just before his 20th birthday.

When Hazel graduated from the eighth grade, she wanted to go to high school, but it was just not possible. She decided to take the eighth grade over to learn as much as she could.

After Columbus came back from World War I, Hazel had come of age. The tow saw each other in a new light, and started going out together. When she told her dad that she was going to get married, he was happy for her and Columbus, but he was also sad. He told her, "If I have any wheat at all this year, I'm going to build a new barn and a big new house after harvest. You'll be the only kid that won't get to live in the new house". She told her Dad, "That'll be fine. We'll help you build it! But no matter how big the house is, I would still just have one room. I'm going to need my own house."

She and Columbus were married by the judge at Beaver in 1927. They started building their home as soon as they got married. In the meantime, they lived in what was called a "cook shack" for about six weeks while Columbus was building their little two-room house. They lived in that house for several years, but as the family grew, the house had to grow too, and they added on rooms when they could.

None of their three kids were born in a hospital. Thelma was born at the Howard Piersall place, where they lived and milked cows one winter. Lavena was born at her Dad's new house. They had gone up there that summer evening when a storm was brewing because her dad had a big concrete cellar. Their son, Bud, was born at home.

She may not have been able to live in her Dad's new house, but they spent many wonderful hours there doing things with her brothers and sister, her uncle and cousins....all as one big happy family.

Grandma lived through the terrible "dust bowl days" of the 30's. This is her most vivid memory: "I remember the day they called 'Black Sunday'. Like most Sunday afternoons, we were up at Dad's when it hit. We were in the house and we looked out and the air was just black with birds flying to the south. Pretty soon, the dust came in from the north. The wind blow so hard --- and it was so dark. I went to the window to look out and thought I was looking through the shade, but when I reached up to pull it, there was no shade --- that's how black it was".

"It was hard to get by in the 30's. We couldn't raise anything. Dad had given us a cow when we were married and we bought one, then another and started milking and selling cream. We gradually built up our herd. When the dirt was so bad, that was about the only income we had -- cream and eggs, and what Columbus made working out. The last few years on the farm, we had a milking machine and we were milking 17 or 18 head of cows, but before that, we were milking by hand."

Columbus developed health problems from the dust and dirt. The doctor told him that if he wanted to live, he had to get out of there, so they went as far south as they could -- Port Isabel, for the winter. They took time to do a little sightseeing along the way. Grandma got to see her first zoo at San Antonio and she got to see the ocean for the first time. She loved going out to Padre Island on the big boats and she especially liked deep sea fishing. Columbus would work as a longshoreman, around the boat docks and anyplace they needed some-body. Sure enough, Columbus got better, and they ended up going back for a second winter.

If there's one thing that's common to people of Grandma's generation, it is that they learned how to live on little, how to conserve and how to save because they had no choice during those troubled times, Grandma says, "We didn't have to have much, because we lived in our trailer that we took down, fish was plentiful, we got free vegetables from the farm culls and fruit from the orchards was cheap. We figured that they whole family could live on about a dollar a day, once we got down there."

Back in Beaver County, the rains finally came and the dust began to subside. Grandma said, "it was tough times, but you know, we enjoyed life. We were always doing something -- like having a picnic or taking out supper up to the canyon to cook it. We really enjoyed going to town together on Saturday afternoon. The kids would do the chores early, so we could go to town and spend the evening. Everybody in the community gathered in town on Saturday afternoon. They had to park in the middle of the street, there were so many people. There was a lot of visiting mixed in with the trading.

"Even though we had a little house, we had a lot of company, which we enjoyed. I taught a 'Young People's Sunday School Class' and we'd go on picnics and we'd go skating and we'd have roastin'-ear suppers and ice cream suppers. We were always doing something to entertain ourselves, because there wasn't much other entertainment."

Hazel and Columbus went to church all their married life, and they did a lot of work in the church. She taught that Sunday School Class for 20 years.

They were lucky that their kids were rarely sick. Lavena was sick the least. There were some injuries -- Bud got run into a fence by his horse and had to have stitches in his leg. Another time he broke his elbow and had to wear a cast.

The worst accident involved a fire at Gaye's house. They had filled a gas stove and spilled some fuel on the floor. They mopped it up, but left the rag on the floor and went to her Dad's to get the mail. When they got back, they wanted to iron. Of course, the irons then were the flat kind that were heated on the stove. When the match was struck to light the stove, the curtains across the room caught fire because there were fumes from the earlier spill. Thelma jumped up and in doing so kicked the can of gas, spilling it on her legs. It was a terrible burn which took a long time to heal. Fortunately, the scars didn't last, but the heat damage to her muscles caused her to have weak legs for the rest of her life.

Thelma developed tuberculosis at age 9. She had to spend a lot of time in the sun, which was the only treatment available then. To get sun, Lavena would pull her in a little red wagon and her Mom made her a dress with the back cut-out. It took her two years to completely get over that.

But there were many good times. They especially enjoyed family trips together to places like Colorado and Arkansas. They tried to take a trip about every year.

The lived on the farm until 1956. After the kids left, Grandma started working at Fort Supply Hospital as an aide, where she developed quite a reputations as a hard worker who had a special compassion for the patients. Columbus moved down and worked in the hospital dairy for about five years, prior to his retirement.

They moved to Laverne in 1962. Grandma told us, "We tried to find us a place to buy, but we couldn't find anything we wanted. Mama had passed away and Dad suggested we move his house in from the farm and he'd move in with us, so that's what we decided to do." She finally got to live in her Dad's big house!

Asa lived with them for six years before he passed on.

But her deepest loss came suddenly one afternoon when they were in Pampa, Texas. They had just finished dinner at Lavena and Leo's. Leo was talking to Grandpa out on the front lawn, and when he looked around, Grandpa was gone.

Grandma says "I grieved something terrible, until one day, the Lord just let me know that I couldn't see into the future, and that this was the best for Columbus."

A person who has lived 90 years is bound to have a lot of losses. But nothing could prepare Grandma for the loss of 2 children, Thelma in 1991 and Bud in 1997. Through it all she has taught us much about courage and strength and faith.

She has always loved life and she has always been so thankful for her blessings. She has always tried to "do the right thing." And she has always tried to have a good time, whatever she does.

And she has always liked to travel. She had some wonderful trips these last several years -- like going to Oregon with her niece, Ranee; going deep sea fishing with Lavena and Leo; going to Hawaii and going to Branson several times --- just to name a few.

For years, she's kept a suitcase packed and a little money hidden away. When asked, she'd say, "Well if anyone invites me to go somewhere, I don't want them to have time to change their minds while I'm packing my suitcase."

Now, of course, anyone who has spent any time with our Grandma, knows that she has always liked to talk. In fact, she likes to talk so much, that she may tell you the same thing several times -- just to make sure you got it all.

So, just to make sure you got it all, we suggest you read this story 2 more times (just kidding).

There is one final note. Back when she was dating Columbus, she decided she could never really be pretty. So, if she couldn't be pretty, she would try to be nice. Everyone who knows her will agree she achieved that goal a hundred fold. We've seen it in all the many time she helped out a neighbor...in all the times she's "been there" for family and friends...in all the cakes and pies and covered dishes she made for church events and for families in crises. And we've seen it in her motto; "if you can't say something good about a person, don't say anything at all."

Granny, you're very special to all of us. We celebrate 90 wonderful years lived so well.

Pallbearers at the funeral were Randy and Charles Halliburton, Gary Tyrrell, Jay Treat, Zachary Halliburton-Myatt, Michael, Cory and Don Redinger. Services were held at Apostolic Faith Church, Laverne, OK, Tuesday, June 3, 1999 at 2:00 PM.

A copy of this story was handed out to everyone who attended Hazel's funeral

Obit Woodward News, 2 Jun 1999

Hazel B. Treat, 91-year-old resident of Laverne, died Monday night, May 31, 1999 in the Woodward Hospital and Health Center in Woodward. Services will be in the Apostolic Faith Church in Laverne. Interment will be in the Poplar Grove Cemetery, southwest of Laverne. Arrangements are under the direction of Seeger Funeral Home. Memorials may be made to the Laverne Ambulance Service.

Submitted by Dreyer, 1st cousin once removed and 4th cousin once removed to Hazel Treat

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