Skip to content

JIM “PAPPY” MOORE: The Grand Journey West Part I


When I was in grade school and Junior High, our family made a bi-annual pilgrimage to my mother’s hometown of Lewiston, Idaho to see her parents and spend two weeks or more there. It was a trip which would take us close to a month. The routes changed, but it was all of us in an Oldsmobile on the open roads of Western America. We visited relatives going and coming. We saw many of nature’s beautiful spots. We had crazy fun in the car, singing, laughing, arguing, playing road games, and learning with educational games. Honestly, looking back, I don’t know how our parents put up with all that in an unairconditioned car, in the summer, driving 5000 or more miles.

Our journey began in Lufkin, Texas. Day one was a 500 mile drive to West Texas, where we would see relatives in the Lubbock area. Aunt Helen and Uncle Jerry lived in Lubbock. We would spend the night. Uncle Doc and Aunt LaQuita lived in Ropesville, a small town to the southwest. Aunt Helen was Daddy’s only sister. They had one child, Rayma, who was several years older than Judy and me. Uncle Doc was Daddy’s next younger brother. He and LaQuita started their family in the mid-1950s with Mike. Later would come Monte, Jon Marc and Marla.

Uncle Doc was a cotton farmer. He worked the land owned by LaQuita’s parents, Mary and Bennie Keesee. That land is still owned by Keesees and Moores, and still farmed by members of the family. Mike Moore lives in Ropesville. His son-in-law, Tate Melton, farms the land. Tate is married to Mike’s daughter, Jaimsi. 

For a time in the 1950s, Granny and Paw Paw Moore lived just outside of Lubbock. We would see them, too. We might spend a day in the Lubbock area seeing the grandparents, Daddy’s siblings and our cousins. Then we would be off on our journey to the next stop – Durango, Colorado.

We would load the car at Helen and Jerry’s house, then stop off at Granny and Paw Paw’s house to bid them good-bye. Tradition required us to sing “Y’all Come” with each other as we loaded up the family to head out to see Uncle Fred, Daddy’s youngest brother, and his lovely wife Shirley. They were barely twenty years old. They would start their family shortly, having two boys, Rory and Terry.

We would snake our way across the New Mexico plains and into the mountains of southeast Colorado. The beauty and grandeur of the Wolf Creek Pass region was always enchanting. 

Daddy must have been a saint and is surely one now. We would drive through all kinds of terrain, including mountains with winding curves, road edges which dropped off thousands of feet, while we kids in the back happily sang “Michael rowed the boat ashore, hallelujah. Michael rowed the boat ashore, hallelujah.” As Daddy leaned forward to look intently at the winding mountain road, Mama would tell us “you kids be quiet until we’re past the mountain.” Then she’d rub Daddy’s shoulders and back to alleviate the tension of the moment. After the mountain she would pour him a hot cup of black coffee from the big gray thermos with the red cup as its top. He needed it.

On we would go through Pagosa Springs until we made our way into Durango. Besides visiting with Uncle Fred and Aunt Shirley, we would take a trip to some sight, such as the Indian Cliff Dwellings at Mesa Verde. It was a long climb up the red rock structure, but it was fascinating and well worth the effort. Mama was far ahead of her time in the 1950s. She insisted we take in opportunities to see things which would expand our universe and our understanding of the world we lived in. 

Mama would also buy for us games which we could play along the way. Usually, the games were educational, but they were made to be fun so kids would play them. There was a deck of cards which had only famous authors. We would play a form of Go Fishing where one sought to obtain a book of cards consisting of all four cards of a particular author. Louisa May Alcott. Nathaniel Hawthorne, for example. There were thirteen authors in the deck. Each card listed books by the author. It was a sneaky way to teach children while they played Go Fishing for famous authors!

Next week the journey continues as the Moore kids take in Yellowstone Park.

Copyright 2022, Jim “Pappy” Moore. All rights reserved.

Leave a Comment