BO OMPAAN AUTO BI O G R A P H Y
HOW BOOMPA GOT HIS NAME IV
1 POOR LITTLE OL J.H. 1
2 LETS GO JOIN SOMETHIN 5
3 I GOT MY EDUCATION ABROAD 9
4 WHATS A NICE YOUNG MAN DOING PUMPIN GAS? 14
5 NOTHING HAPPENED TO ME BUT GOOD 19
6 WE STARTED LIVIN THE GOOD LIFE 22
7 YOUR DADDY IS A BETTER CAR SALESMAN THAN YOU 27
Epilogue THATS ALL RIGHT, ILL FAKE AN INJURY 30
C H A P T E R
Writing a family history is an honorand responsibility journalists dont often have.
Initially, I became acquainted with the Click family by writing a series of Tucson newspaper
articles on Jim Click, Jr.s 30-year legacy of business success and community philanthropy.
Then, I met the familys anchor and inspirationa man who overcame obstacles from
the time he was a toddler and, somehow, had the will, skill and determination to succeed.
While interviewing Boompa for this book, I saw him laugh, weep and show incredible
strength and forgiveness. Ironically, it would be the last time he related his remarkable story.
Thank you, Boompa for that treasured time.
J O D I G O A L S T O N E
HOW BOOMPA GOT HIS NAME
I was eight or nine months pregnant with my first child and was sitting with my folks
watching Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation.
The young man who played Jimmy Stewarts grandson in the film yelled repeatedly,
I hate Boompa. I hate Boompa. We all laughed about it.
And I looked at my Dad and said, Im gonna have my child call you Boompa.
J A N E T C L I C K R U T L E D G E
C H A P T E R
POOR LITTLE OL J.H.
Two hundred years ago, William Wordsworth wrote a poem that
contained this short, simple phrase: the child is father of the man.
That phrase aptly describes and defines the life of James Harley Click,
Sr. (a.k.a. Boompa), who grew up in difficult times and circumstances
and became an exemplary man, mentor and model of wisdom, humor
and generosity of spirit.
This is Boompas life story in his own words.
2P O O R L I T T L E O L J . H .
ames Harley Click, Sr. was born on June 25, 1915his mothers 20th birthdayin Tuttle,
Oklahoma (about 20 miles west of Oklahoma City).
The first child of Bert and Alma Tuttle Click, he also was the first grandchild born in the Tuttle
family. As such, he was named for his maternal grandfather, James Harley Tuttle.
Early in the 20th century, my granddaddy (Tuttle) had the brand inspection station on the Old
Chisholm Trail where 10 or 12 big ranchers in Texas would round up their cattle and drive them up the
trail along the South Canadian River. They had to segregate their brands so they could pay the fee to get
their cattle across the river, Boompa recalled.
Later, after Grandfather Tuttle had acquired a large cattle ranch, the town was named in his honor.
Granddad Click came to the state in 1889 to homestead a 160-acre farm. Later, the Clicks moved
to a farm in Alex, Oklahoma.
They lived in a covered wagon, and at the back, there was something like a dugout. And thats
where my Daddy, Bert Click, was born, according to Boompa.
They had an old doctor in what they called Union City, Oklahoma. This doctor was the fire chief,
mayor and everything. My granddaddy went up there on a horse to get the doctor. When they got back,
she (my grandmother) had given birth to my Daddy, tied the umbilical cord, and was nursing him.
In all, Clicks grandparents raised 12 childrenseven boys and five girls. But, as they soon
discovered, their rearing days werent over.
3P O O R L I T T L E O L J . H .
Alma Tuttle Click died when little J.H. (as he was known then) was just shy of three years old.
From that day until he graduated from high school, young J.H. lived with a succession of grandparents,
cousins and other relatives. He truly grew up in an extended family.
Bert Click took J.H. and his younger sister Carrie Lee to their grandparents farm in Alex,
Oklahoma. The young Clicks lived with Granddad and Grandmother Click for several years, until a
sudden change of events.
I went to a little two-room schoolhouse. The name of that schoolhouse was Baughn. One day
someone in the Tuttle family came to school with the sheriff and they had a court order to take me out
of class and go live with them in Fort Worth, Texas. Carrie Lee, meanwhile, went to live with their
mothers Aunt Sis.
One of the Tuttles he lived with was his uncle,
Holmes Tuttle, who was about nine years older than J.H.
There were three other siblings in the Tuttle house, too.
I was kinda raised as their little brother.
His stay was short.
The Tuttles were a very wealthy family. And they went broke and they couldnt take care of me
anymore. It was during the Depression. And they didnt know where to send me.
J.H. returned to his grandparents (the Clicks) and that little two-room schoolhouse. Soon, he
began his upbringing odyssey again.
I remember living with my great unclehe was my grandmother Tuttles brother who was the
foreman of a ranch in Hominy, Oklahoma. And I lived with an aunt in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. She had
two boys at homethey were both a little older than me. One was a senior in high school. I stayed out
of school that year. They had a 100-acre farm and I did the farming, he said.
They went broke and they couldnt
take care of me anymore. It was
during the Depression. And they
didnt know where to send me.
All I can remember is that I went from place to place and theyd say: Poor little ol J.H. They felt
sorry for me.
J.H. returned to the Click farm, ready for his senior year in high schoolif his grandparents could
find a place for him to go.
They lived outside of both school districtsright in the middle of them. It was about five miles as
the crow flies west of their home in Ninnekah, Oklahoma and about 4.5 miles east of Alex, Oklahoma.
He was accepted by the Ninnekah school for his senior year in 1933.
Days started early, he related.
I milked eight cows twice a day. I got up at 4:30 or 5:00 a.m. and went into the smokehouse. In
that smokehouse we had a separator to separate the milk from the cream. You had to turn it by hand.
And when you started turning, it had a ting, ting, ting, ting, ting, ting, ting, tick, tick, tick, tick sound
and when you got through, all the milk was in one container and all the cream was in another.
I did this daily until I got my diploma.
Now he had to head to school.
I rode a horse three miles and put it in a neighbors barn and put corn in a trough to feed it. The
school bus came by there about 200 yards away. I rode the bus 14 or 15 miles to pick up other kids until
we got to this little consolidated school in Ninnekah. We had 13 seniorseight girls and five boys.
We also had a basketball team. The nights after we had a game I had to ride the bus, get on my
horse, milk the cows and separate the milk. This was a fact of life around where I lived.
4P O O R L I T T L E O L J . H .
I always had to work wherever I lived.
I was a hired hand for my room and board.
C H A P T E R
LETS GO JOIN SOMETHIN
6L E T S G O J O I N S O M E T H I N
oompa graduated from high school in June 1933, just before his 18th birthday. It was the
Depression and jobsodd or otherwisewere few.
I had a cousin who lived in Minco, Oklahoma. His name was Tom Brown, Jr. They called
him Junior. And he came down to my grandparents farm after I graduated and said, Lets go join
somethin, Boompa recalled.
That something was the United States Marine Corps, an elite unit with some 15,000-
16,000 enlisted men and officers at the time, according to Boompa.
The pair hitchhiked on freight trains from Chickasha, Oklahoma to New Orleans to enlist
in the Marines.
My cousin ran off once and rode the freight trains with the hobos, so he knew the ropes,
Juniors father loaned them $5 to make the trip. By the time they got to New Orleans, they
had only two quarters left.
When they arrived at the recruiting station, they were told they could enlist, but had to pres-
ent their high school diplomas. Of course, neither had them.
We talked them into giving us a physical, sign us up, and, if they accepted us, wed go home
and get our diplomas, Boompa said.
By the time we got to New Orleans,
we had two quarters left.
While they were at it, they managed to get a comfortable hotel room and good meals with a bit of clever
Junior was slightly color-blind and failed the vision test. Boompas cousin thought quickly and
responded, Oh, no, Im not color-blind. Weve been ridin those freight trains and thats cinders in my
eyes. Junior talked the recruiters into putting the pair up in a high-class hotel (the Monteleone)
overnightwith $2 for meals.
The next morning, Junior had another physical. This time, he passed.
Now, the cousins faced a tougher taskhow to get back home with no money.
We went down to the Mississippi River and there was a black man who lived in a little shack on
the river. This man was a mute. He gave my cousin a piece of paper and he wrote on there that he was
educated. And we told him our story, about how we were trying to get home to get our