Marathon boasted the only guayule factory in existence and it was built as an experiment for making rubber. Gauyule is being cultivated in many places now, but during those early days it grew wild over the mountains. It was rather plentious on part of our ranch, so Father hired a crew of Mexicans to gather it. We often took a picnic lunch and went with them. The only way I could tell which was the correct plant was to chew a bit of it. If I came out with a ball of rubber, I was picking the right thing. Father strung a heavy wire cable from the top of the mountain to the bottom to slide the bundles of guayule down. As the Mexicans gathered the plant, bundles were formed and tied with wire, fastened to the cable, and then given a free ticket to the bottom of the mountain. This method was much easier than fastening the bundles on the backs of pack burros and having them stumble down the steep heights under heavy load. Mother, Scott and I usually remained below to watch the elevator bring the ware down. On one such day Scott became tired of watching and went to one side to play. In some way he fell and literally cut his arm open on the inside of the wrist. Of course the blood gushed. The men were far beyond the sound of human voice. Mother had to be quick or the precious red liquid that meant life would soon flow away. She ripped part of her skirt off and tied Scott's arm as tight as she could. Still no men were in sight so she hustled Scott and me on to a horse and raced as fast as she dared to the ranch several miles away for first aid. I say first aid … about all the old timers knew was turpentine, sugar, and kerosene. When we reached the house, Mother was afraid to untie the wound for fear of rapid bleeding. She decided to pour turpentine over the first wrapping, and leave well enough alone. In fact, the first bandage was not removed for several days, and then with caution. I have since wondered how Scott recovered from this accident. He wears a large twisted scar across his arm which would indicate that stitches were needed.
Several weeks later Father went to Marathon to get a load of lumber to continue some construction under way on the ranch. Mother, Scott, Max and I were alone at the ranch except for a little friend who was visiting. Pearcy Bagwell lived in Marathon and had been in my class the previous winter. Soon after dark, we were alarmed with the approach of a fast rider, who turned out to be Pearl Jackson from the Parker Ranch. He reported Mrs. Parker very ill and asked if we could go at once. Pearl was to continue by horseback to Hovey, Texas, where he would reach the nearest phone. Hovey was twelve miles from our ranch. From there he would phone to Alpine for a doctor. Mother assured him that we could catch our horses, and for him to rush on. When we went fumbling out into the horse trap not a horse was to be found, so we had to mount burros. A terrible cloud was approaching from the north, and lightning was licking a fiery tongue across the sky as a constant reminder that he could snuff us out at will.
Our ride through the night was frightening. Tragedy screamed at us, as we urged our slow mounts along. The seven mile ride seemed near seventy. When we finally arrived, Mother rushed to Mrs. Parker, and left us children huddled in a room with nothing to do but look big eyed at each other as we listened to the groans of Mrs. Parker. I held Max on my lap and he slumbered on, as infants do, regardless of danger. Finally Mr. Parker walked through the room, sometime during the night, and noticed us. He pushed a button on a folding bed, and told us to lie down.
About daylight, the doctor arrived. He had wandered allover the country trying to find the way. He found Mrs. Parker in a very serious condition, and said that she must be moved to Alpine, when she was able. About all the medicine Mr. Parker and Mother had to give her before the doctor arrived was whiskey. Most all of the people in the West kept a little for medical purposes. Since Mother was the only lady near, she was forced to stay by Mrs. Parker for the next few days, regardless or her own family's needs.
While this tragedy was taking place, Father was also in.trouble. He started back from Marathon with a heavy load of lumber, and broke his wagon. He had to unload all of the lumber, fix the broken part, and then start again. In all of the heavy lifting he hurt his back. For several weeks there after, he was unable to lift himself from the bed. Mother went back and forth from him to Mrs. Parker. I served as nurse for Father when Mother was away. I was about eight years of age, and tried to cook and do other jobs about the house, as Father directed me from his bed. We certainly had a time for several days but the sick recovered and lived to see many more joyous days together in our pioneer world. In fact, every member of both families are very much alive to this good day. The Witchers are scattered about over Texas but the Parkers are still in the West.