Ehrlich Brothers 1925-1938
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Two eras.....
Ehrlich Brothers,
Independent Ehrlich families....about 1938-1953.


By Maurice Ehrlich 2007


Asaph and Ezra went their separate ways, and it is the beginning of a recovery period for their complete lives.   Ezra to California and a new job....Asaph staying "put" in hopes of salvaging a family's life gone very questionable at best. 


The goal was to produce a livelihood for a family with no working capital and few resources.....but that is part of my story.  I was about a fifth grader when the urge began for me to drive.  My first driving experience came as Dad had me steer the cattle feeder truck loaded with bales of hay, as he distributed them from the back of the truck.   It was a big help because otherwise the cattle feed would not get evenly distributed.....I felt good about knowing how to drive.  I was also learning to drive the tractor.  We had a small Fordson row type tractor, and somehow it seemed a small boy would be able to handle it, and I did drive it up and down the rows of sorghum cultivating three rows at a time.  I never felt anything but pride in being able to do so much to help out.


Dad did not spend a lot of money buying machinery....I know it was because he knew he had to produce with little expense.  He bought some very antique horse drawn wheat drills....wooden storage boxes that had seen better days...We reworked them, stuffing their leaks with rags.  They were made for horses with a wooden pole for a hitch, but we tied them behind a steel drill and planted three drills wide.  We planted wheat before the ground was dry, so as to form crusty ridges that would protect the plants from the wind.  And in 1942 we raised several thousand bushels of wheat....the first crops on that farm in  decades.  I assisted him to repair the old wooden windmills that still existed, some with blades missing from the wind .....and we pulled the jet-rods and replaced the leathers and checks so that they would pump water. 


He would be described in the cattle trade today as a Cow and Calf man.....He bought thin mother cows, fattened them up, and took care of them until their calves were weaned.  We then had the proverbial round up, horses and all, but no roping or that kind of stuff....Just gathered them up, pushed them into a pin, and methodically vaccinated, castrated, de-horned, and branded.  My job was always to be the crowder....meaning to push the calves into the crowd pen and on into the chute, where Dad did his thing.  We had two old cow was Peanuts....docile and old....the other named Joker, for obvious reasons...sorrel and waspy.   I always rode Peanuts, and rode him a lot for pleasure as well.  Dad was not one for conformity.....we did not have a horse trailer, but we did have a 1940 Ford 2 ton truck.....We loaded the horses on that flat bed, no sideboards, and the horses would ride.....People would ask Dad how it was that he could get the horses to do that....His response....."they don't lean against the sidewalls they probably don't need them".


There are quite a few incidents that I am reminded of from time to time......some of them involved harvesting wheat.  Ehrlich Brothers sold Oliver Farm equipment and one of their products was Nichols and Sheppard threshing machines.  Threshing machines are large straw gulping machines that are made to stand in place while the harvest hands feed it bundles or forage for grain separation.  The machines were sometimes called The Red River Special Line, and the manufacturing engineers must have thought if they put wheels and a header on them, they could call them combines...At any rate, we had one.....the header was balanced with a 12 foot timber sticking our behind loaded with large steel weights....sort of a fulcrum balancing act.....Dad could make the thing run, and did so from his platform a few feet above the header.  It was my job to pull the beast with the tractor.   We were almost finished harvesting one Summer when the tractor motor crashed.....the replacement, a smaller Ford tractor was too light for the load, and would raise off the ground when the tongue of the combine was placed on it's hitch.   We were stymied....but what they called  A.E. Ehrlich ingenuity came into play....take the hitch off the tractor and chain the beast to the rear axle......And just get on and drive.....but you cannot turn a tight corner because the tires will catch on the tongue, so make big circles to turn.....It took a few minutes to make a big circle for every corner, but we did finish harvesting in a few hours....


Lots of stories about that old combine, and what it took to make it perform.....Another piece of equipment was an IHC binder he bought down at was about 1945....we pulled it home behind the 1940 Chevrolet car tied to the bumper.  It was like a jig saw puzzle with a sack full of bolts....We put it together after a few days, and proceeded to bundle feed for the winter.  Putting that thing together taught me quite a lot about how something complicated could work....I was particularly interested in how it tied the twine around the bundle.   It was soon thereafter, Dad called from Kansas where he was feeding cattle, and said it would probably be a good idea to cut the feed crop that was growing west of the farmhouse.....Joanna was standing close by, and she volunteered to ride the seat, and dump the bundles, and together we did the job......We were an unusual duo to say the least, but we were effective.


The Asaph Ehrlich Starting-Over-Turn-Around was very evident because by 1945 the Jackrabbit farm was now the home place, and included the Green Section next door, and a 440 acre farm north of Darrouzett.

The cattle business now included cattle grazing in Kansas....and the annual shipment of cattle from the little ranch in Texas to Kansas City via the railroad.   Asaph would accompany the cattle riding the Santa Fe caboose, all the way.  On one occasion we drove the cattle to the stockyards, loaded them onto the cars, and the train was already in place to hook up and haul the cattle to Kansas City.  All I had to do was take the horses back to the farm, while Dad jumped aboard the caboose......Peanuts and Joker....I was riding Peanuts and leading shorten the trip a little, I pushed them to a short gallop......I mean a big gallop.....I could not control them as they galloped over 4 miles to the farm....I thought for sure Peanuts would die...but I walked them for awhile and locked them up without too many consumables, and the next day they were okay.


The next years saw big improvements in our farming capacity.....We now had two self propelled combines, and two newer tractors......but, without realizing it....we probably would not experience anytime soon a farming situation with the profit margin equal to those prior few years.   In fact, by the time I was graduating from high school, Dad was buying a little farm in South Dakota.....He seemed to sense the Texas farms were not as profitable as they needed to be, and perhaps farming here would minimize the risk.  I was present when the little farm was purchased.  He bought if from a very old real estate agent named Falcon.....the man was almost blind.....but he told Dad he could rent the place for $20 per acre, and if he wanted to buy it later, the $20 per acre would apply......He planted it to barley and made a really good barley crop.  A gutsy move because the growing season was almost gone when he planted it.


We made a trip to South Dakota hauling our weed sprayer on the truck.  We were going to S.D. in the early summer to spray our Spring Wheat for mustard weed.  We had sleeping bags, and slept under the truck somewhere in Nebraska......After we had driven a few hours that next morning, we discovered that Dad's billfold was not where it was supposed to be.   We went back, and looked in vain....we were nearly out of gas, and now no money.   We stopped at an implement dealers lot, and Dad talked, and that guy loaned us money, and we went on and finished our job, even though the wind blew so hard, we could not spray for several days.  Dad would buy machinery from that dealer later, his name was J. Ray. 


I took my bride in 1951, and we rented a small apartment in Canyon Texas.....Bobbie Ann started to school, but decided that she would be happy working and did so at an Amarillo Insurance Agency....I worked part time at the Gulf station, and Dad came and stayed with us one night.....sleeping on our little couch.  He was on a cattle buying mission to Amarillo, and we were surprised when he arrived unannounced, but we found out a little more about him that brief visit.   He was unflappable, and mentioned to us how he appreciated our efforts....He said he appreciated  Bobbie because she was not afraid to work.  We had spent part of our first married Summer in South Dakota working.  We kept thinking he had something important to tell us, but if he did, he changed his mind.  That was the Fall of 1951.....less than two years later, he would be gone.


I treasure these and many other memories....little anecdotes that tell so much.....One little final story,  and it occurred in the spring of 1951.  He had purchased a blue 1949 pickup from his nephew car-dealer Merlin Laubhan for $1100......and the South Dakota operation could use another......He went to Merlin, gave him a check for $1100 and told him he wanted another one, blue would be fine.....He let me use that pickup for a few months at radio....just a heater....but I loved it....Merlin on the other hand, was not quite as happy......


The family during this period of time was busy, busy.   Jo and Bernie had a responsibility to go to was expected of them.   Gene was away for the duration of the war.....L.J. and Tracy were both too young to  participate, although they did participate very well when the time came.....L.J. was also helping in South Dakota in 1953 when Dad died.  Bernie had graduated college in 49', and was helping out at home.


I always thought Mom's dining room table was the testament to the tenacity and endurance of that family....That table in the dining room had some wooden braces underneath for strength.  Those braces after witnessing six kids scraping their feet for 25 years, were worn as slick as London cobblestones......yet that table seemed as good as ever.....a short story....a load of living....


Two eras.....Ehrlich Brothers, about 1925-1938....Independent Ehrlich families....about 1938-1953.


Sincerely, Maurice Ehrlich









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