As August made its appearance, the summer was at its peak heat in southern Oklahoma. The afternoon sun could easily get up to over 100 in the fields and so work began to slack off. Most of the crops had been harvested except cotton and the Meads had not planted cotton that year. So, their days in the field happily were coming to an end.
Billy was still not his old self and spent a lot of time in town, in Elmer, gossiping at the general store with other old men his age. Mattie did some canning but mostly tried to keep cool under a shade tree. Mack, Bud, and Owen found dates here and there but it was too hot to do much of anything but find a shade away from the relentless sun and heat.
Billy enjoyed trading war stories with the fellas at the general store until a Jayhawker came to town for a visit. Kansas had been a deeply divided state during the Civil War, with some on the North's side and others for the South. This new man in town was a Yankee, a word equivalent to cursing in Billy Mead's book. In fact, Billy always preceded the word Yankee by the adjective, "damn"!
As the two of them met, their conversation was icy, then it heated up quickly to near violence. "I cain't think of anybody I hate worse than 'Boogerham' Lincoln ," Billy said, spitting out his words. The Jayhawker stood and faced Billy eye to eye. "Well, I cain't think of anybody lower than a snake's belly than a Johnny Reb."
Billy clinched his fists and stepped alarmingly close to the man's face. "You take that back, you—” The man stopped Billy's words by shoving Billy hard, back into the wall of the store they stood in front of. It took Billy a moment to recover since he was not strong enough to fistfight anymore.
Billy got up slowly. He glared at the Jayhawker and lowered his voice so that it was deadly calm. "I'm goin' home to get my gun. And then I'm comin' back—to blow your blasted head off. And you damn well better be here when I get back." The Jayhawker sneered at Billy. "I'll be here, all right—with my own gun!"
And so it was that Billy Mead was going to shoot it out, Old West style in the streets of Elmer, Oklahoma ! He walked home slowly, still shaken by the event but determined to kill himself a damn yankee.
When he got home, he began looking for his gun that had not been used in quite some time. It wasn't in the barn where he used to keep it. He went to the house and began rummaging through the bedroom closet. He was pulling down boxes and clothes onto the floor.
Mattie heard the commotion and came to see what was going on in her usually tidy bedroom. "Billy Mead! What in tarnation are you doing? Look at all this mess on the floor! What are you lookin' for?"
Billy stood up and looked Mattie in the face. "I'm lookin' for my pistol. Where is it?" he barked at her. She stepped back, surprised to hear him speak so harshly to her.
"What in the world do you want with your pistol?" she asked, alarmed. "I'm goin' to kill me a goddam Yankee !" he yelled. She was mortified, not only at his demeanor but his forbidden words in her house!
"Billy Mead! May Gawd forgive you! You are goin' to do no such thing!" and she stepped toward him as if to begin picking up the things he had thrown on the floor. He tightened his fists and looked at her with a menacing look in his eye. She stopped short and put her hands to her face. After an ugly moment of surprise, she turned and walked out of the room, quickly.
Billy continued to rummage through the closet to no avail. Mattie knew exactly where Billy's gun was. It wasn't in the closet and she was not about to tell him otherwise. She could hear him mumbling and cursing under his breath, having no luck searching through the closet. Mattie went outside and sat down on the porch.
In a few more minutes, Billy followed her to the front porch. Quietly, he asked, "Mattie, where did you put my gun?" She got up from her chair, gave Billy a very hard look, said nothing, and went into the house, slamming the screen door behind her.
Billy knew he was defeated. He could not find his gun and Mattie was not about to tell him where it was, even though he knew she knew its whereabouts. She knew where everything was! He sat down in disgust, weak, and relieved that he could not find his gun. He spent most of the evening sitting on his front porch. Gossip in town was that neither of the men showed up for their shootout on the main street of Elmer.
It took weeks for Billy to get over his embarrassment and to find the courage to come back to town. When he finally did, the Jayhawker had gone back to Kansas and nothing more was to be heard from him. No one said anything more about the event that didn't happen.
Instead, there was other more interesting news. A fella named Frank Kell had been through town promoting the new Wellington branch of the Wichita Falls and Northwestern Railway to be located in the panhandle of Texas, in Collingsworth County . It was to be a new town named after Elmore Dodson who had contributed a two hundred acre grant of land as a bonus for the railroad. There was to be a big celebration, a gala picnic and a formal opening on August 29, 1910, and Kell had been in Elmer to invite everyone for a free ride on the train to the new town, Dodsonville.
When Billy got back home that evening, he was full of the news about the new town of Dodsonville. He thought it would be worth his while to take a train ride to Dodsonville and see what this new land grant looked like. He wanted Mattie to go with him, but she said it was too hot and she was too tired to make a long, forty mile trip on the train. Besides, she was still pouting at Billy for threatening to kill someone and she wasn't in any mood to take a long train ride with such a sinner!
Owen listened intently to his dad's story and decided it would be a lark to accompany him. "I'll go with you, Dad—if you like." There was nothing better in Billy's mind than having his son accompany him to—anyplace! It would be like the old days of "Big Billy and Little Billy", he thought. So, it was settled. Owen and Billy Mead would take a train ride to the new town of Dodsonville, Texas.
[Author's Note] Owen Mead described the travel by train with his father to Dodsonville, Texas and the meeting of his future bride, Maude Ragsdale.