ESKER FARREL MAYBERRY
Written by Susan Mayberry LeSueur
Esker was born a twin in Temple, Texas October 25, 1901. The twin brother died shortly after birth. Esker was child #8 of 12. Esker’s family nickname was Beck. Esker’s father, Carter Andrew Barnett Mayberry, was a share crop farmer and took good care of his horses and mules and farming equipment. He insisted on using leather tugs rather than chains because he didn’t want the chains rubbing against his mule’s legs. One season he moved to Joplin, Arkansas to farm, but didn’t stay because he said there were too many rocks in Arkansas which were a stress on the mule’s shoulders. Esker followed his father’s example in taking care of his belongings.
The family left Joplin in a covered wagon and traveled west. The family made several moves in Texas, always moving further west. The last place for Esker to farm was in Ralls, Texas, east of Lubbock. Here the owner of the land offered to sell to Carter, but Carter said ‘No.’ He didn’t want to get tied down. He wanted to be able to move on. The first year the landlord’s share was more than what he had offered to sell the land for. Some of the land the Mayberrys had a chance to buy has gas and oil wells on it today.
On Esker’s 21st birthday, October 25, 1922, he and his brother Curtis left Texas and headed for California to make their fortune. They arrived in Bisbee November 1, 1922 out of money and their Model T needing tires. Esker and Curt applied for work at the mines along with a 100 other men. Esker said he told them they needed work and would make good hands. When asked if they’d had any experience in mining. Esker confessed they’d never seen a mine. He was told they were only hiring miners and muckers. He asked if his brother could get a job as well and he was asked if Curt was a miner. Esker misinterpreted the question to mean ‘minor’ and said, “My brother is a minor. He’s not 21 yet.” He was laughed at, but they were both hired and went to work the next day. They slept on the ground for two nights and then asked a boarding house for credit until pay day. They liked the work and established a friendship with one of the bosses (Farrell Nelson). Farrell invited the boys home and the Texans met Farrell’s wife’s younger sister, Amy Busby, who was working in people’s homes earning a dollar a day. Both boys thought she was cute and wanted to date her. The story goes that Amy initially took a liking to Curt. The boys only had one good suit of clothing between them, so the first one up in the morning was the one that got to wear them. Apparently the brothers resembled each other quite closely and it was difficult to tell them apart, but Amy finally figured out that Esker was the more valiant of the two.
Esker worked hard and made good money mining for the next 4 ½ years, but he could see the dangers and health problems of miners and decided he wanted to be a barber. He was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on 7 November 1925 and was married and sealed to Amy Busby on 4 February 1926 and in October they were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple. They then traveled to Los Angeles where Esker attended barber school. In April 1927 he purchased a barber shop in Tombstone Canyon of Bisbee and barbered there until January of 1966. Esker and Amy lived in a home above the shop and their three sons were born there.
In 1930 Esker and Amy purchased 10 acres of land in St. David from Amy’s father, A.J. Busby where Esker had several firsts in St. David. He was a pioneer and wanted to make things better. He had the first irrigation well in St. David which he dug with a post hole auger and cased with hot water heaters welded together. It was 50 feet deep. He planted the first pecan trees in St. David. Everyone told him they wouldn’t grow there, but he decided to try and was very successful. He had the first cement ditches in St. David which were poured by hand on Mondays, (his day off from barbering).
Esker and Amy maintained two households, living in Bisbee Tuesday through Saturday and in St. David on Sundays and Mondays. Their three boys attended their early years of school in Bisbee, but all graduated from St. David High School.
Esker loved to hunt and fish. He was known as a good shot. When he pulled the trigger, he had game. He also enjoyed collecting minerals. He specialized in crystals and over the years in Bisbee developed a beautiful collection – as good or better than seen in many museums. He never met a stranger and said he never had any enemies. He was a friend to everyone, black or white, young or old, rich or poor, educated or not. He was known to pray for a blessing on his enemies, if he had any. He would always give compliments and make one feel glad to be in his presence.
He never turned a client away because they couldn’t pay for a haircut. Some were unable to pay for years during the Great Depression and World War II, but they always paid him – often in trade. He acquired many of his choice minerals in this manner. Sugar was a rationed commodity during this time and some paid in sugar. Grandma Amy had to register the sugar at the bank - something that she found very embarrassing as she was quite self conscious and felt this drew attention. During the depression years he worked from 7 am to 9 pm 5 or 6 days a week standing on his feet barbering and was paid 25 cents a haircut and made two $50 payments every month to pay for their home in Tombstone Canyon in Bisbee as well as their property in St. David. He understood and lived the concept of ‘sweat equity.’ He seldom threw anything away in case he might be able to use it somewhere else in a slightly different manner. Many have benefited from ‘shopping’ his junk pile.
He cut hair for as many as five generations in one family; his youngest customer was three weeks old and slept through it. When shaves at the barber shop were popular, Esker gave a free shave to anyone he nicked with the razor and in all the years he only gave away less than 10 shaves.
Esker enjoyed travel. When he retired and sold his mineral collection he purchased a truck and camper and drove to Alaska, a frontier he’d always wanted to explore. After traveling and exploring the places he’d desired, he and Amy settled down on the farm in St. David. Esker always kept busy puttering on something. He could fix just about anything.
He had some endearing sayings and advice:
This here here or that there there . . . yonder.
The way to get ahead in life is to do without the things you’ve got to have.
If someone has to come to my house to sell me something – I don’t need it.
Once a man, twice a child.
I am the smartest person around, because I’m dumb and I know it.
If a job was particularly tuff he’d say, “We’ll show this thing whose butt’s the blackest.”
When one great grandson became interested in girls, he warned, “Watch out for those women; they’ll lie to you, lay on you, and take all your money.”
If you left the light on in a room he’d say, “You’re burning up my profits.”
To get Grandma’s goat, he’d say, “Yes, Mother.”
After visiting him, he’d say, “Take your time a-going, but hurry back.” Or “Come back.”
He had a hard time remembering names, but didn’t forget the person, and he was famous for giving nicknames – Bill, George, Pete, High Pockets, Blondie, Curly, Sally, etc.
In his last year he was disabled due to frailty and weakness and some senility and confined to bed. This was a miserable state for Esker. He learned to appreciate Amy and praised her for her goodness to him.
He passed away August 6, 1996 and is buried in St. David.
Grandpa Esker valued work and had a terrific work ethic. He was a man of his word. If he told you he would do something - consider it done.
Once when applying for a job with the oil rigs in Texas - The story goes that a large group of men were standing around at the employment office hoping to get hired. Esker picked up a shovel and started digging in a trench while the other guys stood around. He was hired on the spot.
Another story is told while working in the mine – Esker’s brother Ollie came and wanted a job – the mines needed an important job done – one that had some danger – Esker was approached and offered the job and was told that he could have anyone in the mine to assist him. He said he’d like his brother Ollie – the bosses registered surprise since Ollie wasn’t an experienced miner and the job entailed some danger – Esker replied he realized that, but he trusted his brother to be a good worker and he wanted to do the job with him.