D.H. Brewster, a true pioneer

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L-R D.H. Brewster, Rolan, Twyla (in momma’s arms) Ruth, Lane, Becky, and Delwyn.

Photo provided by Brewster Family

D.H. Brewster, a true pioneer

D.H. Brewster was born in Spur, Texas to Don and Marie Brewster on August 27, 1926.  He was a Farmer thru and thru.  Growing up, times were hard.   He had to gather eggs, milk the cows, and turn the cream separator to make butter at a very early age of three or four.  By four, he was driving a team of mules and told of the time he turned the wrong way and the plow flipped over.  He jumped to safety but the mules ran away dragging the plow behind.  He hid in the tall feed and was peeking out to watch.  He saw his Dad and Uncle racing to catch the mules when he realized they thought he was caught under the plow being dragged to his death.  He got in trouble and learned never to turn the plow to that side again.   D.H. was the third of seven children and the oldest boy.  He worked hard beside his Dad and Uncle Olan growing up.

When he was about six or seven, his Dad developed some type of paralysis (may have a stroke or been polio) and was unable to work.  D.H., his Uncle Olen and his Mother had to do all the work themselves for months and months.  They rigged a pulley over the door and his Dad performed his own therapy, continuously pulling and working his arm and leg for hours until he was able to return to work in the fields dragging his leg.  His Dad eventually fully recovered but this put an extra load and responsibility on a very young D.H.

His summer job was cutting Broom corn at 15 cents per hour.  He asked Ruth out on a date to the midnight movie after she had worked all day.  She fell asleep during the movie which hurt his feelings but he continued to ask her out until Ruth moved away in 1944.

D.H graduated from Littlefield High school in 1943.   He enrolled at Texas Tech and continued college until being drafted in the Navy for WWII on December 13, 1944.   He was stationed in Corpus Christi, Texas where he was an instructor in Dive Bombing Gear. He received a new class of recruits each week.   For every new class of recruits, he would memorize each person’s name, where they went to college, their grade point average, and something about their life so he could  show  his interest in  them as he started his  class.  Class was intense and required extensive math formulas to calculate locations of ships on the high seas.  (I am not sure exactly how all this worked as he did not go into details about a lot of his service).  He would come up with problems that took the entire space of the black board to calculate.  Most of the class would think there was not an answer.  He made them work it in their heads as they had to be proficient in Math to calculate their bombing targets (the ships on the high seas) with pinpoint accuracy.  D.H. said, there were reports and war films that at the beginning of the war, where the American pilots said they could see the enemies on the ships making gestures and thumbing their noses at the pilots as they, (the pilots), could not hit their targets.  As the war went on, with training, the accuracy improved and when the planes flew over, the enemies were seen  jumping over the side, knowing they were about to be hit as the planes flew over.

D.H was an instructor and remained state side and he did not see combat.  His entire company was wiped out with the exception of about seven men (he found out in later years) when they landed on the beaches of Okinawa.  He did not like to talk about his service as he felt bad about the loss of his fellow comrades, (probably survivor’s guilt).

He would hitch hike back and forth when he could get leave from base to see Ruth in Ft Worth where she was working on weekends.    He was discharged in 1946 and they decided to get married.  He married Lena Ruth Willingham on August 19, 1946 who was the love and light of his life.  They left on a honeymoon to Colorado with $200.00 and returned home with $40.00.  They were almost swept away by a flash flood one night while sleeping in the car on their honeymoon.  They were extremely tired and decided to pull off into a small dry area on the side of the road to sleep the remainder of the night.  During the night, they woke to a roar of rushing water coming down the once dry creek bed.  As D.H. started the car and turned on the headlights, there was the wall of water coming straight for the car.  D.H. gunned the car and shot forward as the water raced beside them.  It had rained in the mountains during the night causing a flash flood.

The newlyweds started farming in 1947 at Amherst.  They worked side by side planting and picking cotton on their own farm and other farms to make money to buy their own land.  They lived and farmed there until 1951.  Their first car was a Hudson car that was large enough to carry 8 people.  The next morning, it would not start.  They boosted it and went to church and parked it on an incline so they could roll it down the hill to start after church.  They found out later that day, all they had to do was engage the clutch to start the car.

D.H. was called back in the Navy in 1952 to teach Identification Friend or Foe in the Korean conflict and was stationed in San Diego, CA.  Ruth joined him after Lane was born March, 1952.  D.H. was an instructor for Identification Friend or Foe which was a system that was placed in bombers that transmitted a signal.  The signal was changed once or twice daily.  Pilots would send a signal on radar if they saw another aircraft approaching.  If the other aircraft responded with the appropriate signal, all was well.  If not, appropriate action was taken.

After the Korean conflict, D.H and Ruth returned to Littlefield where they worked to make enough money for a down payment on land in Van Horn.  They moved to Van Horn on December 29, 1952. They were pioneers in farming in this area.  Wildhorse Valley had been settled by Rancher R.B. “Benny” Durrill’s parents, (great grandparents to Susan Strasser).  The ranch land they purchased that was brush covered, undeveloped  from Beulah Espy, ( aunt to Susan Strasser).   They built a barn first and lived in one end of the barn for four years while they farmed to make enough money to build a house.  Electricity was from a generator.  D.H. cleared the land of brush and mesquite trees before any crops could be planted.  They had to drill a water well.  There were no roads to Van Horn.  They made roads that connected to dirt roads that lead to the old Highway 80 (now Interstate) to get to town.  If it rained, they got stuck or the roads were powder, if too dry.  Years later, Benny Durrill, donated land for a right of way for FM 2185 from Brewster Road to Van Horn to give his dear friends D.H. and Ruth access to a paved road to Van Horn.

As they began their cotton crops, D.H. signed up for the Bracero program.  This was a government program to hire immigrants from Mexico who came from Mexico and worked during the harvest season.  They were hard working men.  At one time, D.H. employed 92 Braceros to gather cotton by hand.  He provided housing and transported the men to town to the store on a weekly basis to buy groceries at Emilio Rodriquez and the Domingo Mendias grocery store on the corner across from El Capitan today.  Imagine 92 men coming to the store at one time back in 1950s and 60s.  I remember one time when one or two of the men got in trouble with the law.  Orvel Capehart was Sheriff.  He was a man small in stature but did not put up with any roughhousing.  He manhandled them into the Sheriff’s car with all ease.

Ruth finally got a house in 1955 after a few good crops.  Becky was born Oct 1955.  Ruth was able to stay at the house and be a homemaker for several years.  She enjoyed time away from the fields for a while.

D.H. was a mechanic who could fix about anything and repaired all of his own equipment.  He worked long hours to keep his farm going.  His boys worked along-side him as they got old enough.  He passed along his legacy of mechanical ability to his children and grandchildren.

He and his brother, Ted owned Caterpillar tractors for several years and built dirt water tanks on many of the local ranches that still hold water today.  The Brewster Brothers cleared the right of way for the Rio Grande Electric Company from Ft. Stockton through the Guadalupe Mountains in the 1950s with the Caterpillars (they did not have all the fancy equipment that we see in town today).

Delwyn was born Feb 1961.   Rolan was born May 1962.  The “little boys” joined Lane as helpers on the farm.   They rigged up trailers at a young age to haul pipes that hooked to their mini-bikes and could have fun like no other while they worked.  Lane, Delwyn and Rolan all have and had a natural mechanical ability that has always made them a living which is a necessity on the farm.

Twyla was born July 1965 and was the jewel of Daddy’s eye.  His children were his pride and joy.  He was a teacher, mentor and a Christian leader for their upbringing.

D.H. purchased the Culberson Cotton Gin in the early 1970s and ginned cotton in addition to farming and raising cattle.  He employed many local men at the gin and on the farm over the years.

D.H. served on the Van Horn School Board in the late 1950 and early 1960s.   He served on the Board of the Directors at the Bank of Sierra Blanca in the 1970 and early 1980s.  He served on the Texas Western Municipal Gas Company Board of Directors in the 1970s

D.H. loved to talk and never met a stranger.  He was well versed on almost any subject that came up.  He was an avid reader and remembered almost every detail of everything he read.  He could talk and visit for hours and often left Mom and the kids sitting while he talked.  Lisa Morton said his stories will live in her heart forever and we thank her for the beautiful compliment.  He touched lives for the better.  We must all strive daily for that Heavenly Home.  We know that would be D.H’s final message to all.  We love you D.H.   

D.H. was a God fearing Christian man. He strove daily for a Heavenly home. When we opened his Bible, most likely his last sermon at Church, was titled:

The Blood of Jesus—Crown of Life –These were the scriptures he had highlighted and paraphrased.–Rev 2:10 Be faithful until death and I will give you a crown of life Heb 2:1-3 give more earnest heed to the things we have heard Acts 8:13-19…21-22 repent and pray for forgiveness 1 John 1:17 Blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sins –Acts 2:38 Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost Heb 17:13-16 Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

A few funny stories from the years.

His name is D.H.. When he was in the Military, it was always difficult as they wanted a name, not initials on their paperwork. He had to put D. (initials only) H. (initials only) on all his paperwork. Some of the instructors looked at it and called him Donly Honly.

When Mom and Dad were first married. A cat that got in their house one night and made a noise.   They thought someone was in the house. Daddy yelled “Ruth get the gun” in an effort to scare the person away. Ruth yelled back “What gun?” as they did not have a gun.

Twyla and Delwyn broke a window. They thought Dad would not notice but if he did, they would not fess up. Delwyn told Twyla not to tell Daddy. Later that day, Daddy had Twyla sit beside him and asked what happened. Twyla spilled the beans. Delwyn was upset that Twyla fessed up. Twyla said “IF you were sitting beside Daddy you would have told the truth too”.

Daddy was a genius and especially in Math. He could not understand that we could not grasp our lessons and understand everything the first time he explained it. He was helping Richard once with Math homework and getting frustrated that Richard was not catching on immediately. We all laughed when Richard said “It sure is getting hot in here”. We don’t think Dad knew what he meant but all the rest of us knew exactly what he meant as we had been in the “hot seat” over the years.

Last year on one of our trips to the Dr in El Paso, we left before dawn. Becky noticed DH,’ color was very pale. When they stopped at the Rest area at Fabens after daylight and after going in, she noticed that he has something all over his face. (Now remember that DH is rather hard of hearing so may have misunderstood what he had been told.) She asked him what he had on his face. He said “Right Guard Sports Deodorant”. Becky said RIGHT GUARD SPORTS DEODRANT??? That goes under your arms not on your face!! Why did you put it on your face?? He said Forrest told him it was good for your face so he put it on his face. Becky and Twyla got to laughing so hard they sat and laughed and laughed and laughed. Becky could not drive and was very thankful they had already gone in at the rest stop or they would have been in trouble. After they were able to talk, Becky gave him a Kleenex and told him to wipe if off as he looked like a ghost. He wiped it off and just smiled and did not say a word. As we started off, Becky thought about it and asked him if they had hurt his feelings by laughing so hard. He said NO. I enjoyed listening to you girls get so tickled and laugh so hard. It made my day. We love you Dad!

DH always had quotes for the kids through the years.

If we complained he would say—“ I have had worse places in my eye and never quit looking for work” so with that being said—we just went back to work and learned not to complain as much because that was the extent of sympathy from Dad.

He would say “He is as wise as a nestful of owls”—We always thought Daddy was a wise as a nestful of owls. He knew “or maybe thought he knew everything about everything” and was usually right. He was a very, very intelligent man.   A genius at math.

When he wanted to get his point across –he would say—“Believe you me”

He was always saying –“My Daddy always told me” and all of us find ourselves telling others –My Daddy Always told me –which is not a bad thing to hand down to your kids and grandkids. There is a lot of wisdom to come from parents and older generations.

D.H. could quote the scripture. He could give his kids a lecture or a sermon depending on the “occasion”.

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