It was a dry year. What few creeks there were in Comanche county were
dry as bone meal. Granny Brown, looking out her kitchen window, could
see big long cracks furrowing the earth around her little frame house.
Granny Brown was a big woman, nearly six feet tall. Standing head strong
above the men of Comanche county, she scratched out a living from her
garden and by delivering babies. She was always delivering something--babies
for sure. But, she also delivered more than a few lives with her home
spun remedies and common sense medical care.
Water was getting hard to deliver. Nowadays it took long trips into
town to fetch a barrel full. That was barely a week's worth of washing
and cooking, and a little for the chickens.
She had hands like a man's, calloused from her shovel. The dirt broke
slowly under her toil, but she was determined to dig herself a well.
That shovel and her apron were the only tools she had. One side of the
pit was straight down like a basement wall, while the other side was
a foot-printed ramp up which she carried her apron loads of dirt.
Chink, chink, the shovel stung her blistered palms as she hit solid
rock. No water; just bedrock. The last apron load left the well's bottom
clean . . . and dry.
I never heard what may have gone through her mind when she hit that
rock. A woman of faith, she knew perseverance. But, did she curse out
loud a prayer of downright disappointment? I imagine that later that
evening, she had a soulful talk with her Lord. One of many talks, I expect.
No use weeping over that durn hole in the ground. There were babies
to midwife into this hard life, feverish brows to cool, and water to
He was sitting on the porch when she rode up and dismounted her mule.
Men like him came through occasionally, trying to make their way to family
or jobs. His eyes darted between Granny's steel grey eyes and the promising
moisture around the lip of her water barrel.
The Brown hospitality was legend in those parts, so it was no surprise
that the man found a decent meal and a soft bale of hay for a bed that
evening. Before he was to leave the next morning, Granny called him inside
for some fried eggs and grits.
"What's that big old hole you got there, Ma'am?"
"That's my well," she replied. "But I hit bedrock."
"I can fix that, if you don't mind unsettling your house a bit."
"Fix that?" She turned with a confused grin. "Now, how
would you fix that rock?"
"I'm a powder monkey."
Powder monkeys were rare birds indeed. Not many men wanted to be around
dynamite, much less tamp it into drilled holes. Granny Brown once attended
the death of a rail road crewman who got his leg blown up with dynamite.
Sure enough, the powder monkey was carrying the tools of his trade right
in his sack. By the time the sun got high that day, he had poked a hole
in that rock and tamped it with dynamite. It didn't look like much, but
when he set it off, that rock busted up into about nine pieces. And up
through those cracks came water.
Isn't it providential how we find prayers' answers in the needful places
of other folks' lives?