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Claude Pair was born March 19, 1899, in Jackson, Missouri, to Robert Lee Pair and his wife, Laura Isabel Limbaugh, and passed from this life on June 3, 1992, in DeLeon, Texas.

Claude was blessed with a good nature, an excellent memory and good health all his life. He used to tell about coming to Texas in 1908 by covered wagon. He was an excellent historian of the local area.

Claude married Elizabeth Lola Jasper on December 23, 1919, in Victor, Erath County, Texas. She died in February 1921 following childbirth. Their daughter, Mary, lived only a few hours and is buried with Lola in the Lowell Cemetery in Erath County. Claude recalled that the weather was bitterly cold and freezing. He had the flu and was sleeping in the barn so as to avoid giving the flu to Lola. After the baby died, she was wrapped and placed in the barn, too. When Lola died 5 days after giving birth, she and the baby were buried together.

Claude went courting again, made it past all the Locke boys to their sister, Bessie McAdams, and married her on December 30, 1923, in the St. Joe Community, Comanche County. They had 2 sons and a daughter and 8 grandchildren. Claude and Bessie farmed in the Rucker community for a few years before moving to the Victor community. They always had a watermelon patch and sold melons. In 1931, the year their older son started to school, they had sold $5 worth of melons that summer. They spent that $5 for his school clothes. Their son recalls that overalls were 89 cents and his split-leather brogans were either 89 or 99 cents.

In the 1950's Claude began planting a large field in watermelons. The whole family would go to the watermelon patch on Sunday afternoon. Claude selected and picked the melons while his sons and son-in-law loaded them. He did not have a pickup at first, so the melons were loaded onto a trailer in the field. Because his little Ford Falcon would not pull a loaded trailer, he took off early on Monday morning with the tractor and trailer over about 9 miles of country road to DeLeon so that he could get to Market Street first and get a choice spot. Claude had a good reputation for his produce and usually sold out well before the day ended. Then he bought a new 1956 Ford pickup (light green in color) and thereafter hauled the melons in it. He learned to stack the melons so he could get a lot of them on the pickup.

His family recalls that pickup fondly and one granddaughter still drives it (but she does not stack melons on it). Perhaps his family recalls his pickup fondly because he was so fond of it. In fact, one of his endearing qualities was that he was always so content and happy with his life. In his mind whatever he had was the best that could be had, and whatever you gave him was the best thing that anyone could possibly have given him. His younger son says he hopes he can be that contented and happy with his life.

Claude and Bessie retired, sold the farm to their younger son, built a new house in DeLeon and moved in 1967. But they still went back to the farm and worked every day for many years. Even in his 80's he could drive out to his older son's farm and "work circles around" his son, grandchildren and great-grandson building fence in sandy fields in the heat.

Claude's oldest great-grandson recalls riding with him in his 1964 Ford Fairlane 250. Wayne says the steering wheel must have had a half turn of play, but his Pa was keeping the car straight on the road and driving "90 to nothing." He says he was in awe, but made sure he never had occasion to ride with Pa again.

Claude was creative. He did some pencil drawing in his younger days and used his creative streak to solve farm and household problems. He made various wind-catching gadgets in later years. He was also a keeper of things and a collector of barbed wire and horse and mule shoes. He had a cigar box which contained several treasures that his grandchildren and others enjoyed having him "show and tell." He enjoyed telling the history of each of the treasures.

Before Bessie's death Claude and Bessie were interviewed separately about their lives. When asked "If you could pass on anything to your children and grandchildren, what would it be?" each of them answered "Honesty. Always be honest." That typified Claude's life. He was a wonderful Christian man, honest, and always ready and willing to help anyone who needed it, whether it was to build fence, help in the field, or mow their lawn.

Compiled by his granddaughter, Lola Hestand
August 2001