By Steve Moreland, August 6, 2017
Recently at a wedding, the groom’s brother told of how the groom had been known to walk in his sleep. The boys and their mother lived in town during the school year, while their dad stayed home on the ranch to care for livestock. During the middle of one night, the young boy got out of bed, left the house, and walked down the street a few houses to where his aunt lived. After arriving on her front porch, he woke up and realized what he’d done. He walked home, and crawled back into bed under the covers to resume his slumber.
On another occasion, his older brother was doing homework at the kitchen table late into the night. The younger boy walked by the table, being fully clothed with his knapsack hung over his shoulders. The brother asked, “Where are you going?” “To school, of course,” was the answer. The older lad resumed his homework, and it wasn’t long before the younger boy came back into the house, fully awake by now. The older boy said, “I thought you were going to school.” The answer to that statement was a glare and an inaudible grunt.
When my dad Bob Moreland was a boy, he and his brother Stan lived a mile south of Merriman with their parents on a ranch. Another boy, Carl Ethridge, spent quite a little time staying with them because he liked country living better than town life. He helped with chores and other work in exchange for his board and room. One evening, Carl became sleepy earlier than the Moreland brothers, so went to bed early. About an hour later, Bob and Stan retired for the night. Carl sleepily aroused when the other boys were getting into bed. They seized the opportunity, and convinced Carl that it was morning and time to do chores. Carl went so far as to get dressed, put on his coat, grab the milk bucket, and walk halfway to the barn before Bob and Stan convinced him it was a joke.
When my son, Will, was a youngster, his Aunt Sybil had made him a nice free-standing wooden easel on which to do art work. One middle of the night, we heard pleas for help from his bedroom. Little Will had gotten out of bed, and walked over to the easel in his sleep. He had climbed to the top and was sitting astraddle of it when Carol arrived. He couldn’t get down by himself, even after becoming awake from his deep slumber, and drastically needed assistance.
I was in my early twenties, and had just completed a couple of weeks of Army National Guard summer camp at Fort Carson, Colorado. We were spending a lot of time in the field shooting the 155 howitzers. Day long missions, plus nighttime shooting made it necessary for us to sleep out on the shooting range to be near our equipment. Another forward observer and I found it pleasant to just sleep on cots near our jeep. The moon was nearing its full stage, and there were no rain clouds to hinder the pleasant sleeping out under the stars.
I heard of a couple cowboys who had participated in a brawl at a local county fair. One of the persons from the opposition hadn’t fared well, and for a while their life hung in the balance. The cowboys were keeping a low profile, because if the other person didn’t survive, things could go tough with them. One of these lads was staying at a cow camp a few miles from the ranch headquarters. Another hand went to help work cattle one day, and as it was late when the job was completed with more to do the next day, the visiting cowboy also spent the night at the camp. A storm came up, and there was a lot of thunder and lightning before a downpour set in. My friend who was the teller of this tale said that the other cowboy got up in the night and pulled the mattress off his bad. He was dragging it out the door into the rain, when my friend hollered, “What are you doing?” “I’ve got to hide the body,” was the reply.
My grandmother, Grace Moreland, told this story. She was in high school when she and several other young girls had a slumber party at the ranch home of one of their “school chums.” The girls stayed up quite late visiting and laughing and having a good time. They finally all drifted off to sleep, and then there was a commotion that made them wake up again. The girl who lived on the ranch full time with her parents had slipped out of bed and was walking in her sleep. She went outside in her bare feet, and walked across the yard to where a windmill was located. She climbed to the top of the tower, stood on the platform, put her hand across her eyes, peered into the darkness, and proclaimed, “I don’t see them coming yet.” The other girls dared not wake her, for fear she would fall. She stepped down off the windmill, meandered again into the house, and the girls all went back to sleep.
Guy Belsky was born in 1901 and died in 1987. Shortly before he died, he and my dad were visiting. Guy told Dad that he had ranched all of his early life, and worked on the Arthur Bowring Ranch north of Merriman during 1944, the year that Arthur Bowring died. That was a rough winter with lots of deep snow combined with cold temperatures and high winds. Guy was feeding over three hundred head of Hereford cows, with a team and a hayrack. He was using a pitchfork to pitch the hay onto the hayrack, then hauled the hay to the cows and pitched it off with the same pitchfork. Before the winter was over, he figured there had to be an easier way to make a living. He ended up trading his livestock, equipment, and other equity to C.A. Wickman for a grocery and general merchandise store in Eli, Nebraska. Guy Belsky went on to tell Bob Moreland that even though it had been forty years since he had quit ranching, all of his dreams every night still involved cows and horses. Evidently ranching kind of gets into a person’s blood enough to also occupy their minds.
I was in my early twenties, and had just completed a couple of weeks of Army National Guard summer camp training at Fort Carson, Colorado. We were spending a lot of time in the field shooting the 155 howitzers. Day long missions, plus nighttime shooting made it necessary for us to sleep out on the shooting range to be near our equipment. Another forward observer and I found it pleasant to just sleep on cots near our jeep. The moon was nearing its full stage, and there were no rain clouds to hinder the pleasant sleeping out under the stars.
A few days later I was home again and was sleeping in my bedroom in the house at our ranch. The moon was in its dark stage by then. I was sound asleep, but had dreamed that somehow I was under the hatch of the cab of the self-propelled howitzer. It was a pitch black night, and I wanted out from under that hatch in the worst way. In my frenzy, I ended up tearing the curtains down off of the window. The rod holding them in place had to be reattached to the wall the next morning.
In about that same time period, my dad had put in a Lockwood electric-driven pivot irrigation system. Our ranch house didn’t have air-conditioning, so one hot summer evening I had placed a fan on a chair near my bed before retiring for the night. I drifted off to sleep, and in my dream had decided to take a nap in the shade of one of the big rubber tires that propelled the system. Someone came along and started the electric motor, and the noise of the fan by my bed equated to the noise of the irrigation motor. In my dream, I was hastily trying to avoid getting run over by the big rubber tire, and once again the curtain rod had to be replaced the next morning.
I have been fortunate through the years to have had quite interesting dreams, when they can be remembered. Sometimes it seems like the nighttime dreams keep me so busy though, that I have to get up and go to work in the daytime to get some rest.