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Dallam County is stuck in the far corner of the Texas Panhandle, northwest of Amarillo. On a map the area is all right anglesthe New Mexico and Oklahoma state lines, the boundary between Central and Mountain time zonesbut in reality the landscape is vast and flat and boundless. "In the winter, at nighttime, you can see the reflection of towns that are thirty or forty miles away," says Charles Card '40, a retired Dallam County cattle rancher.
Card and his wife, Mary, owned and operated a 4,000-acre ranch. For the most part, the Cards did the work themselves, herding cows and driving tractors, with Mary Card assuming the post of "self-declared bovine obstetrician." "You'd try to get somebody to help you but we were thirty-two miles from the nearest town," Charles Card said. "You don't get many people begging for the opportunity to work that far away from anything."
The Cards' piece of the Texas Panhandle was a long way from a town, and it was a long, long way from the town of Farmington, Maine, where Charles Card grew up. He remembers the $50 bounty paid for a dead bear, and the one-lane road that led to his father's camp at the base of what was then a remote, undeveloped mountainSugarloaf.
Card earned a teaching degree at the University of Maine at Farmington and then decided he wanted to learn more. He was helped by a Colby alumnus, Ted Hodgkins '25, and by others. "The person I have great feelings of affection for is Dean [Ernest] Marriner," Card said. "He's the one who told me he didn't think I was smart enough to get through Colby, but he was gonna give me a chance anyway."
After earning his Colby degree, Card went on to teach in Liberty, Maine, for a year. Then the war and Card served with a unit of Army combat engineers for three years, mostly in North Africa and Italy. His memories include building bridges in Italy as it snowed or rained for 32 straight days. "Fortunately we survived the war but it was a long trip," Card said.
Whileoverseas, he corresponded with a young woman he'd met in Little Rock, Ark. When Card was discharged, the woman was in Pennsylvania. Card applied to the University of Pittsburgh, was accepted (he thought) and enrolled. He later learned he'd actually been rejected because there was a two-year waiting list for applicants. "After about three months in school, I got an invitation to talk with the dean of students," Card recalled. "He wanted to know how I got in there to begin with."
But Card stayed, received his master's degree in history and went on to become a civilian training supervisor for the Air Force at Amarillo Air Force Base. After 16 years Card retired, and he and Mary (the woman from Little Rock) stayed home and worked the ranch. They kept more than 200 head of beef cattle and grew much of their feed. Card said he eventually tired of the isolation: "We had a real nice home out there, but after a while you get kind of lonesome."
In 1976 the Cards sold out. They bought a cotton farm near Abilene as an investment and moved into Amarillo. Instead of chasing cows, they now deliver Meals on Wheels, though Card joked that he likes to sign up for deliveries on Mondays when the golf course is closed. Card said he thinks things worked out well in the years since his boyhood in Farmington, Maine. He and Mary have been married 53 years and both turned 85 this year. But even after 47 years in Texas, Card is part Mainer. "I still retain that Maine-onian accent," Card said in Amarillo. "At the Lions Club they never let me forget it."
Gerry Boyle '78
The Colby Difference: The Inauguration of William D. Adams
Nuclear Fiction: Daniel Traister '63 Delves Into the Fiction of World War II
The Hot Zone and the Cold War: Frank Malinoski '76 Investigates Biological Warfare
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College Colby Magazine 4181
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