Grandpa Shelton was my hero. I all but worshipped him. The reason for this is because he was always so jolly, so kind, so wise, and he always treated me with respect, and like I was somebody special. And he'd just about try anything! Like ride a motorcycle! On the back . . . with one of his grandsons driving! (in the photo, Steve Shelton, son of Wayne & Shirley Shelton).
At a very young, tender and impressionable age, I was allowed to spend the night with my Grandpa and Grandma Shelton. No two better people ever walked this earth. I don't believe a better example of ethics, integrity, and just plain old down to earth goodness can be found anywhere.
I could go on and on about their good qualities, but will cut it short by saying this: I have never heard neither say something bad about another person, never heard either say a dirty word (curse), have never known either to do anything wrong.
But Grandpa would stand for what was right! And he'd stand up ready to fight if he thought someone was gonna get something over on him! He was known for his pugilistic abilities, and once proved them when an old man in the middle of Kennett, Missouri decided he needed to be cursed out and then whupped.
But he went too far when he told Grandpa he was gonna whup him. He messed up big time when he challenged Grandpa to a fist fight. Grandpa obliged him, and they duked it out! Right in front of the town square! Must of been a sight for sore eyes . . . two old-timers duking it out on the street there. I can just see it!
He was a worker; in the hardest of times, raising a huge family, teaching his boys how to work, be responsible, how to be the type of kin, neighbor, or friend a person should be. And he accomplished that!
As far as being a worker, I've seen him take three rows of that little scrappy cotton in the field just west of the house where they lived out at Simmons Chapel, and beat others who'd taken only two rows. On his knees, up and down those rows, never seeming to slow even a little.
He constantly challenged himself to greater exploits, often challenging those around him as well. I remember picking cotton one day with my little sister Betty Sue, (Betty Sue Black now). Now neither of us were considered cottonpickers. Up until the age of 11 when we left those cotton fields, I'd never picked 100 lbs in a day. My cousin Larry Shelton, (Norman and Louise's oldest boy), now he picked over 100, everyday. But no matter how hard I tried, I never did.
But this day, Grandpa Shelton came along just after we'd started. Right up against the east end of that field, the cotton was purty tall, but at the other end it was real scrappy. We had a row apiece, and the going was slow. Although we kept at it, we were just slow pickers. Well, here comes the speed machine, Grandpa Shelton. He hollared to us, "hey Porgie Earl and Sue! Wanna race? Here, I'll take three rows, and you're quite a ways ahead of me with one row. If you beat me back to the cotton trailer, I'll give each of you a dollar."
A dollar! Wow! A whole dollar! All mine! And we can spend it any way we want!
Now remember, I'd been working most of the summer with him riding on a piece of equipment that needed the swing down arm marker set at the beginning of the next row, all week long, for a quarter . . . I was going to make four weeks pay in less than a half a day!
Man, we stuck our heads down and we commenced to pick. We didn't even have time to quarrel with each other about the job we were or were not doing. We had a fortune to make! And we were flat gettin the cotton picked! And for a while we stayed ahead of Grandpa.
Grandpa wasn't a fat or even much of a huge man, but, his was a body rock hard and solid, built powerful from years of hard work, and he never even seemed to tire. Ours were untrained kid bodies, little stamina, very little experience and even fewer tricks to keep up the work.
So, soon, we grew tired and slowed. Grandpa seemed to catch his second breath and speeded on. Even though he was on his knees, he sped on past us, and we knew our fortune was goin with him. We were't even halfway when he finished out his three rows, stood up, straigtened out his back, shook the cotton down to the bottom of his sack, and stepped over to the next set.
"He hollared again to us. Well, you guys want to try for that dollar again?"
"Aw Grandpa, we'll never beat you!" we complained.
"Here, I'll tell ya what. I'll finish out your rows, bring up my three rows, and all you have to do is start two new rows where you are. I'll pick those rows from here to there. All you have to do is beat me to the cotton trailer."
We didn't even answer. We instantly jumped over to two new rows and started picking at somewhere near the speed of light. We were going to make that fortune after all! He couldn't catch us this time. We were picking like a house afire, and although our backs hurt, and we weren't moving too fast, Grandpa was gonna have to pull seven rows to our one, and even God couldn't do that!
That old cotton trailer was coming up fast, but, we still had what looked like ten miles of row to finish. But there was no way Grandpa was going to beat us this time. The odds were just too great!
Well, there we were, just a pickin our little hearts out and suddenly this voice boomed out right next to us. "Porgie Earl and Sue, you are doing purty good!"
I couldn't believe it! I almost started crying! We were less than two cotton sacks away from the trailer and he was right beside us! How had he brought seven rows halfway through the field, then when they ran out, brought his own three on out to the trailer? Wouldn't he have to empty his sack first?
That particular field I doubt, was a foot over 1000' long. To me then it was a hundred miles, but about two or three hundred feet from the east end where the cotton triler sat, the cotton was very small and didn't produce much. And Grandpa had a sack like a train. It would hold the contents of my sack several times over.
But here he came, a whir of hands. I've seen him take three rows many times when the cotton was short like that. And I've heard time and time and time again how he'd picked "way over 500 lbs." that day.
Well, there went our fortune again . . . Twice in one day, no, shorter than that. Twice in a half a day . . . No, shorter than that! Twice in less than half a day we'd had a chance at two fortunes each, and we'd lost them both. But, I marveled at Grandpa Shelton, and have all my life.
But they raised a huge family, and every one of the kids are some of the most wonderful people I have ever had the privilege of knowing.
Grandma Shelton was a devout Methodist, never have I seen anyone live as clean a life them. I know that they had their bad points as well as any other humans. But what I'm talking about is the example they lived in front of me. I've seen many Apostolics who couldn't hold a candle for them to run by . . .
Many times I was allowed to spend several nights in a row during the summer, and Grandpa always let me help him out around the farm. From those which were so special to me, I've gained these experiences. I learned a lot on Grandpa's farm that children today miss out on.