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The Personal Histories


Darvil Burns McBride & Josephine Phillips McBride


Everything and Anything Anyone Would Ever

Want to Know about Me


I'm aware that the title I've chosen for this spate of history may cause some moments of curiosity among friends and relatives, especially to later generations. Keeping your powder dry is an expression that harks back to the very beginning of our country's history. I fell in love with it as a youngster because a great westerner said it, and at the time I was fast falling in love with the West. Only ten years old when I first heard the admonition, I remember thinking, "What a neat saying." And surprisingly, even at that tender age, I knew exactly what it meant. Today the expression would mean little to a ten-year-old. He probably would have no idea of the kind of powder we meant or the importance of keeping it dry. Kit Carson's warning exemplifies the growth of our country and its expansion west. Gunpowder that would fire only when dry, was absolutely necessary for the protection and livelihood of the hardy earlier Americans. Although Kit Carson did not originate the saying, he used it because he believed in it. Originally said by an Irish army officer to his troops circa 1878—“Continue your trust in God and keep your powder dry”, it is echoed by the timeless Boy Scout Motto, "Be Prepared." Now, at 93—keeping in mind my love for western lore—I take satisfaction in the fact that I have pretty well learned how "to keep my powder dry."


I first saw the light of day in the year 1908 on the 28th day of December from my mother’s bedroom window. Our home, in the small community of Glenbar, Arizona, some fifty miles west of the New Mexico Border, lies in the wonderfully fertile valley of the Gila River. About seventy miles of the river meanders its way through the Gila Valley. Glenbar is about three miles east of Pima on the north side of the railroad tracks and previously was known as Fairview, Mathewsville, and jokingly, as Hog Town.

Much to my chagrin, at the supposed age of eighty, I discovered my birth year was 1908, not 1909. I’d been led to believe this because of a numerical error in the family history record. When nine or ten, Mother and I had discovered the entry, questioning its accuracy. Since I preferred, at the time, to be younger, I chose the latter date. However, my oldest sister, Gladys, of excellent memory, harbored doubts and periodically questioned it. She stayed firm, believing the correct year to be 1908.

The truth finally came to light. At the time of my arrival into this world my father happened to be on a construction job in Globe, Arizona. Naturally, Mother wrote informing him of the blessed event. He immediately responded with a post card addressed to ME. Recently I discovered that very card among some old neglected odds-and-ends I had collected many years ago from Mother’s home after her passing. There, plain as the nose on my face, appeared the bold, black, postmark date. Though somewhat perturbed to discover the truth, I was, in fact, eighty-one—instead of a much younger eighty.

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