This is the story of a boy growing up on a small farm in the Ozark hills of Oklahoma.
.... All through that summer I worked like a beaver. In the small creek that wormed it's way down through our fields, I caught crawfish with my bare hands. I trapped minnows with an old wire-screen trap I made myself, baited with yellow corn-bread from my mothers kitchen. These were sold to the fishermen along with fresh vegetables and roasting ears. I tore my way through the blackberry patches until my hands and feet were scratched raw and red from the thorns. I tramped the hills seeking out the huckleberry bushes. My grandfather payed me ten cents a bucket for my berries ....
[It takes him two years to save the fifty dollars he needs; from age eleven to thirteen. The dogs get ordered and arrive at a train station twenty miles over the hills from where he lives. He couldn't wait the week for his grandfather to go into the town to get them ... so he sets off a dawn to fetch them himself]
.... Although I had never been to town in my life, I knew what direction
to take. Tahlequah and the railroad lay on the other side of the river from our place. I
had the Frisco railroad on my right and the Illinois river on my left ....
Some time that night, I crossed the river on a riffle somewhere in the Dripping Springs country. Coming out of the river bottoms, I scatted up a long hogback ridge, and broke out on the flats. In a mile-eating trot, I moved along.I had the wind of a deer, the muscles of a country boy, a heart full of dog love, and a strong determination. I wasn't scared of the darkness, or of the mountains, for I was raised on those mountains.
On and on, mile after mile, I moved along. I saw faint grey streaks appear in the east. I knew daylight was close. My bare feet were getting sore from the flint rocks and saw briars. I stopped besode a mountain stream, soaked my feet in the cool water, rested for a spell, and then started on. ....
I came into Tahlequah from the northeast. I hid my flour sack and provisions, keeping the gunny-sack. I walked into town. I was scared of Tahlequah and the people. I had never seen such a big town and so many people. There was store after store some of them two stories high. ....
Passing a large store window, I stopped and stared. There in the window was the most wonderful sight I had ever seen; everything under the sun; overalls, jackets, bolts of beautiful cloth, new harnesses, collars, bridles; and then my eyes did pop open. There were several guns and one of them had two barrels. I couldn't believe it -- two barrels. I had seen several guns, but never one with two barrels.
Then I saw something else. The sun was just right, and the plate glass
was a perfect mirror. I saw the full refection of myself for the first time in my life. I
could see that I did look a little odd. My straw-colored hair was long and shaggy, and was
bushed out like a corn tassle that had been hit by a wind. I tried to smooth it down with
my hands. This helped some but not much. What it needed was a good combing and I had no
comb. My overalls were patched and faded but they were clean. My shirt had pulled out. I
tucked it back in.
I took one look at my bare feet and winced. They were as brown as dead sycamore leaves. The spider web pattern of raw, red scratches looked odd in the saddle-brown skin. I thought, "Well, I won't have to pick any more blackberries and the scratches will soon go away". .....
I entered the store. I bought a pair of overalls for Papa. After telling
the storekeeper how big my mother and sisters were, I bought several yards of cloth. I
also bought a large sack of candy.
Glancing down at my bare feet, the storekeeper said, "I have some good shoes."
I told him I didn't need any shoes. He asked if that would be all. I nodded. .....
[ He picks up his dogs at the rail-depot and, after a few other incidents, heads home. Many other adventures follow.]