In the chapter titled "Cut It Deep" of Karen Hesse's Out of the Dust, Billie Jo and her father have just returned from Doc Rice's and now feel brave enough to sort through a box belonging to Billie Jo's deceased mother. Afterwords, Billie Jo fixes dinner, and her father tells her about his childhood. He also confesses that he wasn't sure his decision to grow wheat in the Panhandle was a good one and "dreamed of running off too" but never did, unlike Billie Jo. He next pays her a compliment: "I didn't have half your sauce, Billie Jo." In using the word sauce, her father is calling Billie Jo bold and rebellious and specifically referring to how she had just recently become bold enough to hop a train headed for the West Coast.
In July 1935, in the chapter titled "Out of the Dust," Billie Jo slipped out of the house with some saved up money and biscuits, headed to the railway station, and jumped aboard a boxcar heading west. The ordeal is excruciating, resulting in scorching sun burns in the desert and being frozen in the mountains. When she reaches Flagstaff, Arizona, after having talked with a tramp about the tramp's family and her own and how the one thing she and her father both fear is being left alone, she gets off the train and decides to turn around and go back home. It's Billie Jo's courage to leave and even greater courage to return that her father is complimenting when he tells her, "I didn't have half your sauce, Billie Jo."
The significance of the following quote, I will break it down line by line:
I dreamed of running off too,
This is a part of the opening statement Billie Jo's father makes as he begins telling Billie Jo about his childhood as Billie Jo fixes dinner. His father dreamt of running off, perhaps to a better and happier place.
though I never did.
His father, although he dreamt about going into the unknown, he never followed through with it.
Reflecting to the lines before the stated quote: "...I wasn't sure / about the wheat, / about the land, / about life in the Panhandle", his father was not ready to leave.
I didn't have half your sauce, Billie Jo.
His father didn't have the guts or the "sauce" Billie Jo has, because perhaps, Billie Jo has run off to do the things his father has never done.
This quote is significant because Billie Jo's father is finally giving Billie Jo the recognition he wanted. Although his father is proud of him, he has never openly admitted to this. In addition, this quote and story was written during the 1930s, which was during the Great Depression. It signifies a time where hope was lost and jobs were hard to come by. Billie Jo perhaps left his home (where it was stable and comfortable), and fought in the unknown to make a name out of himself.