Starr County farmer recalls changes
January 1, 2004
By Travis M. Whitehead, The Monitor
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Rio Grande City, Texas - John Shuford has see lots of changes in his life.
He was an agriculture student at Texas A&M University in College Station in the 1943, a U.S. Army intelligence officer under Gen. George Patton in 1944 and later a professional baseball player.
Hes spent the last 50-plus years as a farmer experiencing the changing fortunes of the weather, the market, and advances in irrigation practices.
But he still remembers seeing Patton during a heavy fight in Luxembourg.
"He would walk around with bombs coming down, and he was the only one standing," remembered Shuford, 81. "When the colonels and generals got up, he let them have it. He was the man"
Only a year earlier, in 1943, Shuford was at Texas A&M University when the entire junior and senior class was drafted into the war. He was 20 years old.
"They sent all the seniors to OCS (Officer Candidate School)," he said. "We had already been inducted in 1942. They took us out and sent us to the induction center for processing, then sent us back to Texas A&M to finish school."
"But then, they needed some officers."
As an intelligence officer, Shuford said he was in charge of obtaining maps, questioning prisoners, determining enemy positions and getting other vital information.
He returned home from the war on Jan. 19, 1946. Six days later, he was back at Texas A&M and graduated later that year.
Shuford had lettered in baseball while studying at A&M. In the late 1940s, he served as a left-handed pitcher for the McAllen Palms baseball team, a semi-professional franchise that later became a professional Class D organization.
In 1950, however, he took up farming a life he and his wife Helen have come to love.
"We bought the land from his father and uncle in 1962," said Helen Shuford, 78, originally from Brownsville.
"We bought 152 acres, then added as people next to us wanted to sell," she said. "Right now, we farm around 200 acres. We have 240 acres altogether."
Because of the lack of rain, the last few years have been hard for the owners of Shuford Farm. However, the recent fall rains have created some optimism for the farm's future.
"This year we had a tremendous onion crop," said John Shuford.
"Well be planting grain sorghum the first of the year - about February and March" his wife added.
Over the years, the Shufords have seen many changes in irrigation practices.
John Shuford was chairman of the Soil and Water Conservation District 332 in the 1960s and 1970s.
He and his wife have endured the roller-coaster ride of farming for more than half a century.
"It's just a good life health wise, community wise," said John Shuford. "We have had our ups and downs, and we've been able to make good of it."