Even though I didn’t get a donkey or a new guitar, I knew Aunt Nolie was in my corner, wiping off my brow between rounds and telling me to “Get up!” at the same time. I’ve since learned how to “get up” from many of the folks around West Texas. In that rugged terrain, if you don’t stand your ground, you’ll be bitten into hard, chewed on for a long time, and finally spit out just like Granny Dennis’s snuff. You don’t give up in West Texas, you get up.
It’s strange the ways people stick up for others and how they don’t. Sometimes they do it with yelling words, soft words, or even no words at all. Sometimes they do it by fighting, like Punk Squares did. But most of the time, the people in your corner just tell you to suck it up and go back at it. That’s what I’ve learned to do.
On that no-account day I did get a good reminder of what Ike taught me later on. Never trust anybody but your own self. I’d decided that from then on, I was going to protect my hard-earned money, hold on to it real tight in one hand and clutch the handle of my axe even tighter in the other. An honest day’s pay should be just that and nobody—nobody—should ever take that away from you.
Excerpt from No Hill for a Stepper, my father’s story.