Gordon Folkers chosen as SFTD Parade Marshall

Frederick Gordon Folkers has been selected as the 2006, Santa Fe Trail Daze Parade Marshall.

Gordon didn't hesitate to accept the honor, but admits he was surprised by it.

“It is an unexpected honor,” he said.

He was born February 16,1920 in a tarpaper house about 12 miles southeast of Boise City . His parents, Fred W. and Katherine Folkers had moved to Cimarron County in 1916 from Kansas City Mo. He had one older sister, Faye, born two years before. She lives in Albuquerque , N.M.

Gordon, the name he used, was a typical farm boy, with pets, dogs, cats and rabbits he could catch. Farm chores to do, and school to attend. “Lone Star” school, a one room, eight grade school was a mile and a half south of the farm. Gordon and his sister Faye walked to school on the nice days, but were taken to school on the bad days, either in a horse drawn wagon full of wheat straw, or in a Model “T” touring car. Lone Star and another local one room school combined to make “Union Graded #2” where he finished the eighth grade.

The Folkers children grew up during the Great Depression and the Dustbowl.

“Nobody ever wants to print what I remember, (about the 1930s). I didn't have it that bad. It was what it was,” Gordon shrugged. We weren't in too bad a shape. We had milk cows, and chickens. That's what kept us alive. But we came to town every Saturday to sell our cream and eggs. That was the big day. We could go to the show, buy a Denver Post, and we skated around the courthouse,” he rememers with a smile.

Gordon does remember that not all his neighbors had it as good.

“I rember one kid walking to school...throughthe snow...barefooted. and another begged me for an apple core I was going to throw on the ground,” he remembers solemnly.

But regardless if the Folkers suffered during the Dustbowl and depression, Gordon remembers that when the war started, life improved for everyone.

“Everything got better in 1942. Dad did pretty well after that.”

He attended Boise City High School for three years, and transferred to Keyes High School when the district lines were changed in 1937. He graduated from Keyes High School in 1938.

Times then were not the best, jobs were scarce, and so was money, Farm wages were “Dollar a day and board”. Farming was done mostly with horses, with tractors coming along in the late 1920s. Gordon's father had bought a “McCormick Deering 1530 tractor in 1928 and a Case pull type combine about the same time. Wheat harvest was pretty good, but the price went down to about 25 cents a bushel. Not very profitable. White, unleaded gasoline was delivered to the farm, and stored in 55 gallon barrels. For around five cents a gallon.

Gordon enrolled in college at what was then Panhandle A & M College at Goodwell. A government program allowed students to work half days, and attend classes half days. They received $16.00 a month, board, room, and tuition. That was the only way lot of the students could attend college. Gordon went there for 4 semesters. Working in the maintenance shop of the college. Attending flight school at Texhoma in the process and getting a private pilots license.

Not knowing what he wanted to do, and with a war looming on the horizon, he quit college and started to California to try to find a good job. He had hitchhiked as far as El Paso, Texas. He awoke at his sister's home on Sunday morning, Dec. 7,1941. The U.S. was at war.

He bought a railroad ticket back to Goodwell and enlisted in the U. S. Navy, with the provision that he could stay at home till after Christmas. He was “sworn in” the Navy on Jan. 1,1942, and sent to Great Lakes Training Station near Chicago for “boot training” From there he went to Detroit, at Henry Ford's “River Rouge” plant where Pratt and Whitney 2800 aircraft engines were being manufactured. After three months he was transferred back to Chicago to an engine school there.

Getting a little homesick, and wanting to see someone from home, he wrote his girl friend, Mary Williamson. He promised to buy her a round trip ticket to Chicago if she would come and see him. She “took him up” on the offer and caught The Rock Island train to Chicago; however, instead of buying a round trip ticket she bought a “one way” ticket, and spent the rest of the money, so she couldn't go home.

They were married Oct. 3,1942. in the Church of Christ in Chicago, with one witness, and $10 borrowed to pay the preacher. She then followed him over a good part of the United States, finding jobs, and moving about every three months as he got transferred from place to place. They ended up in San Diego, Calif. in July, 1944, after Gordon graduated from Navy flight school.

He spent the remainder of his Navy time flying Navy aircraft with Utility Squadron VJ-9, towing targets for Anti Aircraft gunners practicing marksmanship. The Squadron was sent to the Philippine Islands in May of 1944, and the Leyte Gulf. He stayed there until the war ended, with enough “points” to get a discharge. He came home to Mary and a two-month old son, Gary, in San Diego, Oct. 1945.

They moved to E1 Paso where Gordon worked at different jobs until 1950 when they returned to Cimarron County to help his father with the farm. Fred had suffered with heart problems for some time.

Gordon had taken up photography as a hobby in El Paso , working with a professional photographer named Tony Canales.

He continued photography as a sideline to farming, and was associated with Marvin Benton in starting the “Mardon” photo studio in Boise City . After selling out to Benton he quit the business for several years. He began again when the area seemed to need another photographer. Working with Bob and Norma Gene Young at the Boise City News he photographed people and events around Cimarron County for several years, and in fact still works with the Boise City News as “fire truck chaser” when the occasion arises but not with the enthusiasm he once had.

Gordon and Mary's 63 years together has been a good life with all it's “ups and downs” but has been a good life. With new and longtime friends and neighbors around them they do not care to travel. An all expense paid Navy tour of the South Pacific, and a good part of the United States took care of Gordon's desire to travel.

Their son Ross and family live in Aurora Colo. Their Daughter Arlene and family live in Yukon .

Gordon attends the Church of Christ in Boise City, and now spends most of his time working with a greenhouse and garden at his farm or ‘tinkering' in a wood working shop. Staying busy at something, and staying out of “Mary's domain” in town.

Boise City News
P.O. Box 278
105 W. Main Street
Boise City, Oklahoma 73933-0278
Phone: 580 544-2222
Fax: 580 544-3281
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