Paul Dodson Remembered
By Thomas J. Minter
Paul Dodson (1903-1966) was a teacher at Saltillo school during my time (1938-1945). He was a stocky man, and he had as a boy contracted Polio. To compound his handicap, he was plagued with Epileptic seizures. If I recall, he dragged his left foot slightly when walking. His left arm was useless and his hand looked like an open claw.
As I remember, Mister Dodson had a somewhat explosive temper, and students gave him a wide berth. Behind his back, students, myself included, made fun of him to each other. He was given the nickname of Keelum, probably because of falling over from seizures.
As far as I know Paul never married. He and his parents lived on a ranch, which was a couple miles north of Saltillo. He had one brother, Frank Dodson (1905-1974) who was either a school principal or superintendent in Fort Worth Texas. This brother was in charge of winding down things on the ranch after the absence of his parents, who were elsewhere, probably in nursing care, for the mother died in 1944, and the father in 1945.
Frank paid me one summer to help with the harvest of a crop, either wheat or oats. The grain was caught in sacks from the thresher. My job was to empty the sacks of grain in the bins in the barn when they arrived from the field, a dirty, hot job. Frank Dodson praised me after the work was finished, Apparently, I had exceeded his expectations.
Like the other students I had a view of Paul Dodson as a bogey man. Circumstances, however, resulted in me changing my view of him. As Paul’s parents were absent from the ranch, my uncle Jack and aunt Minnie Turner with whom I lived undertook the role of caretakers for Paul and the ranch. We moved there in 1943 when I was 12 years old.
The ranch was big, on which the Dodsons, whom could be considered well- to -do, raised registered Hereford cattle. When we arrived there the cattle had just been sold at auction. The cattle were not the ordinary ranch stock. They had pedigrees, were groomed, and had weights put on their horns, somewhat like braces on one’s teeth, so they would grow just right.
My horse and I had the run of the place. In addition to Mister Dodson, a hired hand and his family lived on the place in a small house. Apparently, they had a lot of work to do when the ranch was a fully functioning cattle business.
We took up residence in the big house. Paul still lived in the house. At first, I tried to avoid him because of his reputation among us students. But he and I slowly warmed to each other. He gave me some pointers on math, loaned me some books, and let me use his typewriter, the later was a novelty to me. As time passed, I slowly shed my prejudices regarding Mister Dodson and he was no longer the demon he had been made out to be.