Granddad’s Depression Sheep

My father told me many times a sad story of Granddad Bowles trying to get out of the sheep business. Recently Cousin Les Bowles of Marble Falls, told the same story and it became a very funny story. Cousin Les is a good storyteller and the reason is that one of his friends in the fertilizer business for many years was Jerry Clower of Yazoo, MS. Jerry used his storytelling ability to sell chemical fertilizer and became a nationally known storyteller that sold millions of comedy albums. Les continued to sell fertilizer, but while working with Jerry, he learned to turn a tale of woe into a humorous story. During the Depression, Granddad had many sheep and with no market for several years they multiplied. Hearing there were buyers in Fort Worth, he decided to herd them into Austin, the nearest railhead 30 miles south. Leonard East had a wagon yard on East Second, not far from the Congress Avenue bridge. It would take several days to get to Austin, starting down Bee Creek Road, then Bee Caves Road. It had to be a sight all those wooly critters crossing the bridge. Once at the rail yard in Austin, they were loaded and shipped to the Union Stockyard in Fort Worth. Granddad received a bill for freight and no check. He received a letter that said, “I am sorry to inform you that the sale of your sheep did not cover the freight charges, this invoice is for the difference that you owe.” Granddad wrote back that he didn’t have any money to pay the bill, but he had found some more sheep that he would be glad to trade for what was owed. He got a prompt reply from the railroad agent that said “Let’s just call it even.” Les made a lighthearted story out of Depression Era hard times. That is what storytelling is all about. Thanks Cousin for sharing the story.

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