It's Me! Lynford! Photo of Lynford.

Lynford D. Turner
Excerpt from an autobiography
© Copyright 1998 by Lynford D. Turner

In early March of 1935, Uncle Ray returned home to Oregon County, Missouri from Colorado. He had worked in the timber from sun up until sundown for about one year. During that time he had saved about twelve hundred dollars in an effort to purchase a farm back in Missouri. The family had never owned a home of their own, so it was a wonderful occasion when Uncle Ray purchased the farm that the family had been renting for some time.

As tenants, the Roy family had made many improvements on the place and now their past efforts could be enjoyed through ownership. Uncle Ray felt that more income was necessary to work the place so he looked for local employment. He found work at a large local ranch owned by an eye doctor by the name of Brock. After working for the doctor for about one month, he was promoted to ranch foreman. Now he had the opportunity to move the family onto the ranch property and occupy one of the well kept homes located near the ranch headquarters.

The house on the ranch was large and had upstairs bedrooms. It was decided that certain members of the family would return to Uncle Ray’s farm in the spring and put in a crop. That way everybody would be “earning their keep.” Doctor Brock had accumulated several farm homes as a result of local people selling off property during the depression. He is alleged to have purchased most of the land for less than five dollars per acre.

We were privileged to reside in a nice farm house close to the doctor’s private airport. The airport was located on bottom land adjacent the Eleven Point River. Opposite the runway and across the river, a steep bluff rose two hundred feet above the water. Large oak trees grew out from the sides and up the embankment to the top of the bluff. Our house was located one hundred yards from the topside of the bluff amid many beautiful trees and surrounding forest.

Memorable moments of that time include wading in the river with my cousin Reva. There were mussel shells lying in the river everywhere you looked. As a child of two years, I was awed at the breath-taking sight around me. Standing in the water and looking toward my left, I could see the tall oak trees lining the rim of the high bluffs. I could hear the roar of the river as the water came around the bend and flowed over the shoals. I would hold Cousin Reva’s hand tightly as the minnows bit at my legs. I watched a soft-shell turtle slid down the river bank into the water. To my right and on a higher plateau of bottom land I could see the airplane hanger where the runway was located.

Every day without fail the doctor took off in his airplane.{In later years he stated that he didn’t miss a day for twenty five years.}First thing, right at day break, we could hear the engine start up. During warm-up time my grandfather would yell at me from the front porch, “Lynford! Lynford!.... Somebody get that boy out here before Doctor Brock flies away!” It was “fly away time.” This event happened every morning before breakfast. I would go running out the front door barefooted and still in my pajamas. With great excitement Granddad would say, hurry son, the Doctor will fly right over that tree top yonder! I would listen to the engine as the little plane roared down the runway on take off. The sound of the engine changed from a whine to a groan as the plane began to climb up and over the high bluff. When I saw the airplane, I would swing my arms and jump up and down.

The airplane was so beautiful as the sun rays reflected from the bright yellow fuselage in the crisp early morning light. In a short time the plane was gone. The Doctor would fly the boundaries of his huge ranch looking at fences, cattle and whatever else interested him. When the doctor returned, he made his approach from the other side of the river. It was rare to see him coming in for a landing.

One morning there was big excitement. My grandfather and I were out in the yard when the plane took off. Granddad said to me, “Boy, Doctor Brock didn’t warm his plane very long this morning, It’s too dern cold to take off so quick!” We could hear the piper cub as it lifted off the runway. The sound of the engine was different than usual. Granddad and I watched as the plane rose above the bluff. The engine started to cough and sputter. Suddenly before reaching the tree tops, the plane dived. The plane dropped down below the bluff and I could hear the engine almost stop several times.

My grandfather started to yell that Brock was going to crash. Family members came running out of the house. My grandmother was still holding on to a *dish pan she had been washing. Everybody started to run toward the bluff to see if he was going to make it. You could hear the engine sputter from time to time as he flew down the river trying to gain altitude. Arriving at the edge of the bluff, we stood listening for any sound that might indicate the outcome of the doctor’s predicament. By this time you couldn’t hear the engine at all. My cousin Eddie began running along the bluff, winding his way around the huge virgin timbers, looking and listening for some sign of the little yellow airplane. Several minutes later, to everybody’s relief, we heard an airplane engine. As it got closer the sound grew louder. Suddenly the little yellow airplane came flying over the bluff for all of us to see.

The Doctor said later that he figured we would be looking for him so he came back over the house to let us know that he was all right. It was late October, I would be three years old the following February. I remember the excitement and the fear that the plane would crash. At the time I didn’t know what the word crash meant. It was an enjoyable morning for me though. I got to see the airplane twice.

*I want to note that in the years to come, "Maw" (my Grandmother) would always have a pan or a dish, sometimes a small box and one time a basket, in her hands as she ran out the door during an emergency. In later years I came to realize that it was her way of showing that she was so concerned about the situation at hand that she didn’t have the time to put it down.

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