Oral Histories

Bill Meador


Bill Meador

Q: Lets go back a minute to your elementary – junior high school years. What are some of the things you remember about school as a young child here in Moab?

A: Schools were the center of our social world. You met everybody you knew every day. It was just a center of when and where things happened. I remember some very good teachers and some that I disliked. I was not a particularly enthralled student, especially early. We had a dirt playground across from where the old school is on Center Street that we played all kinds of kick the ball games. It was dirt and puncture weeds. The school either organized things to a limited degree or we organized them ourselves. Practically everything you were involved with was school related during that nine months. In summertime it was a different thing, you organized your own fun. School was the center of our lives. I felt good about it. I never felt that I was cheated in the type of education that I got. Lots of people say that rural education is not good, but I never felt that. Mrs. Knight was a lady years and years ahead of her time. She ran the schools with an iron thumb. What she said was absolute law and to our parents as well. To me, I thought she was a great lady. Later, when I chose to become a teacher, I went to her and asked her what she thought about me becoming a teacher. She said, “What could students do that you haven’t done?” Meaning you’ll be able to stop whatever is happening. A great lady as far as I’m concerned. Schools were basically a center of what we did.

Q: Did the community revolve around the school, too, as far as plays, or dances, or such.

A: The student activities were also their entertainment activities. The town had a dance every Saturday night. That was basically the only thing that was separated from school activities. If you played sports, you had to report to the good old boys at the barber shop the next day about what happened and who did what. Most boys played football and at least went out for the basketball team. Most of them didn’t make it. It was the center of the community’s social and athletic activities. When we played a football game in Moab when I was in high school, you couldn’t buy a gallon of gas in town to get through. If you got here without gas, you had to wait until the football game was over.

Q: Sounds like the small towns in Texas today. Were you on the football team?

A: Yes, I played. I played all the sports. I finally quit basketball when I was a senior because you could lock me in the gym overnight and I couldn’t score ten points. I was a terrible basketball player. I finally went to the coach and said, “You know, I just don’t like to do this. I’m not any good.” He agreed with me and we parted the ways.

Q: Your parents were supportive of your sports?

A: Oh yes. My parents were very supportive of me, period. I was always very comfortable that I had great allies. Now, if I made serious errors, I paid for those. But I was very comfortable with my parents’ support and the way that they felt. If Mrs. Knight sent me home from school, Mrs. Knight was never wrong. I was wrong. There was an adjustment that I needed to make, not Mrs. Knight. 

Q: How did you get along with your siblings, in terms of school and around home?

A: My brother was eleven years older than me. My sister was six years older. So outside of my sister teasing me terribly, she also made me dance with her. She taught me to jitterbug and all those kinds of things during World War II. I hated that. I’ve always been very close to my sister. I went to cow camp with my brother when I was six and he was seventeen. I didn’t think that was unusual at all because he was to me a grown cowboy that knew what to do. We would spend a month in Mill Creek gathering the cows and then move to the mountain. Then my mom would come to the mountain. I told her years later, “You were just not a very responsible mother to send me up there, your youngest child, to cow camp and not come and check on me or anything.” But that was not unusual in those days; it’s what you did. I got a great kick out of teasing her for that.

Q: Tell me about cow camp and about being on the mountain. You said you spent your summers there?

A: We lived with the same conveniences that they lived with in the 1880s. With no electricity, but we did later have one phone line. Two shorts was our place. Three shorts was Corbin’s. We were all on the same line. It was the afternoon’s entertainment if anybody got a telephone call. You know, you could listen in and that type of thing. My Mom cooked on a little stove about so wide in one part of the cabin. We bathed in the washtub. We heated the water on the stove. My dad finally came to the mountain one day with a Coleman lantern. I remember that first Coleman lantern. He took it out to where we hitched the horses so that it wouldn’t blow the cabin up when he’d pump it up to light it. That was a magnificent light because we had always had coal oil lamps. We had very few conveniences.

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