There never was a better time or place to grow up in than the River Bend of Seminole County, Oklahoma, during the Dust Bowl.
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Elmo Hall tells his own story, how he became a published short story writer at the age of eleven and signed on as a correspondent at the Konawa Leader newspaper when he was twelve. At a time when no one he knew had any money, Elmo became a successful salesman of Grit newspapers, Collier's magazines, Garrett Snuff, and Cloverine Salve. From the sale of his mother's delicious turnover pies (his school lunch), he began a number of U. S. Mail Order businesses and became the youngest recipient of the Organizer's Award in the history of the BSA. He was the youngest of eleven children, the first in his family to complete Bugscuffle School (a first-through-eighth grade, one-room school). His beloved River Bend was a community without telephones and electricity and, consequently, radios and television sets and computers ("The list of what the Bend did not have would have filled a Sears and Roebuck catalog"), the most wonderful place in the world for an energetic boy.
"Maybe I'd consider a trade," said Mr. Ginn. "One jar of that Colverine Salve for one of my purebred rabbits."
"How about one of your crows?" I asked. His purebred rabbits were just old swamp rabbits.
"I couldn't part with them that cheaply, Elmo. Howabout two jars for a crow?"
"Throw in a skunk and a rabbit and I'll give you three cannisters of salve for the two crows."
After we had finished trading, Punk wanted to know what I was going to do with the crows.
"Next spring we'll teach them how to talk."
"That'll be the day. Crows can't talk no matter what you do."
"Not the way they are, sure. But we'll do a little surgery on them."
"What kind of surgery?"
"We'll split their tongues."