Folks, I have told just about every thing I know and have to fall back on what I have written before. All I can do is try to pick out the ones that the majority of you find worth while. Today I have been thinking of an old car that I bought, sort of, under protest, at the time. Later, I found that it was the second best of any purchase I had ever made, my first was my marriage license. In 1931 I, with my wife and child, was working at the Great Western Sugar factory at Minatare, Nebraska. I was working in the sugar warehouse, sacking and bagging the sugar. The fellow sewing the bags was sort of a Straw-boss. One day he mentioned that he had a second car he wanted to sell because he lived in Missouri and he wanted to sell it before the factory closed. He was asking $25 for it. His young brother-in-law wanted to buy it but would only pay $15. It was a 2 seated 1921 Reo, in good shape. He wanted me to buy it for the $25, then $20, but I still said no. He was sure the kid would buy it, if he thought somebody else wanted it. He assure me the kid would take if I bid the $20. Well, I agreed but the kid would not buy, the car was mine, for $20. I tried to back out but he fast talked me and I bought the car. It really did run good. The only thing wrong, for me, was, it had two seats and I only needed one. Remembering how another friend and I, had cut the back seat off his Maxwell and rebuilt it to our satisfaction, why couldn't I build a pickup bed on the Reo? I did and it came out very well. I was even able to move the rear certain to the front seat, making it almost water proof. Our Reo, now made into a pickup, purred along very nicely.
March came, with planting time coming, in the spring of 1931. This report will be short. Planting completed but drought killed by June 1st. Another planting made in 1932, yielding a crop of 6 bushels to the acre, selling for 26 cents per bushel. All hope for survival in Montana, was gone. Reports were received of jobs, though, low paying, were available in the State of Washington. Margie's parents, the Leonard Boices, along with 2 other families, got together to form a caravan and strike out for Washington. The Reo became, a God send. I made a hitch, to pull a two wheel trailer. Margie's folks had a Chevrolet sedan and a four wheel trailer was attached to it, while Margie was assigned as driver. There were two more families in the caravan. One was the Roy Little family with Chevrolet, one ton truck. The other family was unknown to me. They, also had a Chevy with a two wheel trailer but the husband couldn't leave at that time but to get his family in the caravan, he had Clifford, though he was only 16, drive the car for him. I don't remember just when we drove out of the yard but we got les then 75 miles, the first day. We hadn't gone very far, the next day when I ran over a triangular shaped bone and ruined a tire. (Though I don't remember the details) I made it back to a road side Service Station and, with crossed fingers, I asked if he would have a tire size 34 X 4-1/2 ? We didn't know the Lord, at that time, but He knew us and our problem. The attendant scratched his head and remarked, “By George, that number rings a bell with me. Let's go out there where I keep some old timers. There sat a tire on the shelf with that exact number. He couldn't have been as happy to sell it as I was to make the purchase, he just couldn't. That was the only puncture in the whole trip. Every thing went well the two next days, of about 200 miles each.
I don't think I mentioned this before but Roy drove his flatbed Chevy, 1 ton truck, well loaded. He nor any of the rest of us had ever driven in the mountains and, lets say, he was highly concerned about his truck making out on those high mountains, we had reached that day. We had made arrangements to sleep out, on the ground, if we found it necessary. Enough tarps bedding, and such had been bro to provide a bed for the wemen and the men. At this point it was evening, there were no cabins in sight and we were at the foot of the highway ( ? ) leading up to the Marias pass, The Rocky Mountains, The Continental Divide. Wow. How many slept that night? A good question but nobody asked. We had parked by a little mountain stream so we had plenty water for drinking, For what ever. I know we moved very quickly. How did we eat? I can't remember. But I do remember it was cold as all get out. There was fringes of ice in the little stream and I can assure you our ablution were extremely short. Soon we were headed up a smooth wide road, led by Roy, in his Chevy truck and Dad Boice and his arm load of his wheel chocks by his feet. The old Reo was chugging along, easily. I kept wondering when we would start up the steep part. Roy was having no problems, whatever, and after some time we came to a wider place and Roy pulled over and stopped I wondered why, until I got closer and saw a sign saying, MARIAS PASS Altitude 5216 feet. Later I found that the streets of Cheyenne were 846 feet higher than Marias Pass. Anyway, we had crossed the Continental Divide and we would manage the rest of the way
Our road to Kalispell took us along the south border of the National Glacier Park . From Kalispell the road took us west and then turned to the northwest and almost disappeared. The map said it was graded but it was bladed smooth and meandered around the trees. It got better as we got toward Libby . Before we got there, we went through a little wide place in the road. As we came to it we had to go up a sharp incline and when I shifted gears, the shifter knob split in my hand. No harm was done and another knob could be found easily. However when we got to Libby, for the night, Margie told me that a strange thing had happened to her. When she shifted gears, coming into that little town, her gear shift knob had broken. Odd that both knobs broke at the same place. The map showed that our route followed the Kootenai river, for several miles. A two mile high, sloping mountain ridge ran right down to the river's bank. That put our single lane, road, half way up that slope. It did have a widened, or passing spot, now and then, but it was the most frightening road that any of us had ever drove on. To top it off, a Local Yokel came up behind us and kept blowing his horn. At a passing place, he was forced to use the down hill lane. We made it from there and were looking for Boner's Ferry, but while we were about 15 miles out, a wheel on my trailer, went all to pieces. Now what to do? There were lots of Lodge Pole Pine along the road. They gave me an idea. The Indians used a device called a Travois, where the poles were tied to a horse and dragged. I figured we might be able to shove a pole under the axel, lifting it clear of the ground and tying it to the front of the trailer. It worked and we got to Boner's Ferry's and got the wheel that we needed, as well as the two shifter knobs. We made it on down to Sand Point, that evening and after a day or so, the rest of us, except Roy Little, went on to Ellensburg, and a new life.
I had a request for information on Old timers around Minatare but haven't had much success. Of course we were only at Minatare there five years so didn't become very widely acquainted. There was one fellow that Dad did quite a bit of business with. His name was Charley Flowers who lived on a farm southeast of Minatare, a mile or two. I understood that he had been quite a horseman in his younger days. It was through him that we got our first real saddle horse. My brother Bob, just 16 months older than I, had finished the eighth grade at our country school and mother insisted that he must attend high school, at Minatare, five miles away. Bob could drive our Model T Ford but driving it to school was simply out of the question. No student had 'Wheels' in those days. Country kids were not treated very well by 'city kids' in those days, and Bob was bound that he would not go to high school. Mother's heart was set on him going and she almost won. Dad couldn't care less but Mother won, to the extent that Dad bought a saddle horse, all equipped with saddle and bridle, and a history. His name was “Dynamite” and he had earned that name, fair and square. He was a flea-bitten gray that had grown up on the plains of Wyoming and when time came for him to be broken to ride, no cow-poke could ride him. Why he was never picked up for the “Cheyenne Pioneer Days Rodeo”, I never heard. A horse that nobody could ride was of little value though on a working ranch. Dynamite eventually came to be in western Nebraska, in the Gering area, and still couldn't be ridden. Just how he got in the hands of a fellow named Walt, I never heard. Walt did get him, at least semi- broken. It was said that Walt ran him much of the day time with his own stock and much of the night rustling his neighbors' stock. I only know that Charley Flowers bought and rode him while Walt did time at the 'Big House' in Lincoln.
Folks, my memory is taking me back into a sad time in my growing up when I found that my plans didn't match the world's realities. My welding training didn't help at all as the great depression grew more and more painful. There just wasn't much work of any kind available. We did however manage to survive, My little family came close to suffering, but the Lord had other plans for us. I did some more growing up. My dear little wife and I, put our trust in the Lord Jesus and have raised a good family of four. That dear little wife has been called to a better, eternal life with her Lord and, I am crowding a hundred years. A while back I read of a statement on a sun dial, which read, “I count but the sunny hours”. I intend to stick to that idea, as long as I am able to keep this 'comfuser', some-what, under control.
I just added a new reader, lately and I happened to mention “Pocus Pete” and she asked if I could tell more about him. It just so happens that I can. Incidentally, if any of you have a question, send it to me. I may not be able to answer it but I'll be try. Pocus reached 16, and graduated, that first spring we were in Minatare, NE. Dad hired him for short time, right after school let out so I might as well run in an event that took place at that time. Our house was quite crowded in fact Pocus and I had to share a bed, for that matter, very few had a bed to themselves in those days. We hadn't settled down yet when Pocus remarked that he didn't feel quite up to par. Well, in those days a sure cure, for everything was “Nature's Remedy” and we had a stock of it. I told him that it would take care of his problem. I went and got a couple of those sugar coated tablets. Sometime later we were settling down when he raised up and remarked, “I guess I'd better swallow these little critters, they're getting mighty stout.”We had moved from Hollenberg, KS to Minatare, NE in March of 1920 and were, promptly enrolled in school. Many of the pupils were Russian, (Ukrainian). The children spoke English quite well but got the words mixed up, now and then. If they beat somebody in a game, they might say they had 'bote' them. They, might also, be kept out of school and get behind others of their age. Children, up through third grade were entitled to 15 minutes of extra recess if they finished their studies and asked the teacher for it. One day a 13 year old Russian boy finished his studies and went up to the teacher's desk for his recess. He got it but the teacher almost laughed, at his age. For the benefit of several of you readers, her name was Elsie Riddle, and you are her future off-spring. My brother Bernard married her the following year.
Back to Pocus and his Hendrickson family. Pocus had a sister who's age was about half way between my brother and I, who were 16 months apart. The Hendrickson family lived about a half mile beyond the school, on an unproductive, sandy hill side, and moved to Wyoming, a year or two later. His sister's name was Daisy and some unfeeling students added a little to it making it 'Sand Hill Daisy'. She wasn't exactly beautiful but if her teeth had not been on the protruding side, she would have looked better. She didn't look as bad as a fellow I write about, in another event. It was said that his teeth protruded so much, that he could eat corn off the cob, through a picket fence. When the Hendrickson's moved to Wyoming, Pocus didn't care for it very much and kept coming back to Minatare where an older brother lived. Daisy loved Wyoming and finished school there. Along the way she found a young man that loved her and they were married. Later, when I was working at the Great Western sugar factory, at Minatare, I ran onto Pocus and he told me how Daisy was now married and had a little son whom she named, Robert William. Well now? Did she remember a couple of brothers from the Snell School, #25, back in Nebraska? Possible, but not probable.
I worked several campaigns at the Minatare sugar factory. One time I had a few hours to kill and stepped into a pool hall. There sat Pocus watching his brother playing pool with a stranger. I asked him who that fellow was and he remarked. “Don't you know him? I thought everybody did. I, almost, committed suicide when he came to town. He's a bigger liar than I am.” Years later, probably about 1950, and after we moved to Ephrata, in central Washington, I happened to pick up a Readers Digest and started leafing through it. I like to read these short items between articles. One caught my eye about the Wyoming State Capital building. The care-taker had just finished washing some huge plate glass windows and stepped back to admire his work when a couple of urchins ran across the lawn right in front of his windows. In his haste to get to the boys, he forgot the windows and plunged right through them. The name of the caretaker was Leroy Hendrickson, our own Pocus Pete.
In my previous email, I forgot to mention that Marion had given up the idea of learning to fly and signed up for the welding class. I guess he felt he could always use the welding skills on the farm. I can't speak for him but I found the welding to be very interesting and made good progress at the school. We, each, were provided with all kinds of material to work with and given instructions to make welds without burning it up. The material they furnished, for training were tubes or sheets of steel, but were never thicker than 1/32 of an inch. We were encouraged to fabricate any article we wanted to. Our schooling was to finish by January 15th 1930, the same time the company was due to start producing airplanes, and we had been promised a job in the plant. January was reached, but no orders for planes had been received. We didn't know what to think. We were not concerned but didn't realize that the Stock Market Crash, of the previous October 29th, was showing it's ugly head. Weekly promises of a job went by, but not a single order for an airplane were received by the Arrow Aircraft Company.
March 15, 1930, arrived, and still, no orders for airplanes. March 15 was also the time in Montana to prepare for spring planting. It was a time of decision, for me, anyway. My friend, Marion, had decided to go back to Montana and I was in a quandary. I still had hope that the factory would soon go into production and I would have a good paying 'welding craft' job, that would support a wife and family, forever. Oh Yes! I forgot to mention that my little lady had said “yes”, before Marion, and I, left Montana, the previous fall and I missed her very much. I gave up on the factory and told Marion I would return with him. It is hard to say how I would have managed things if I had stayed on there at Arrow Aircraft. Later we heard that two weeks after we left, the Chiang Kai Sheik's Chinese government had placed an order for 200 Arrow Aircraft Trainers which kept them busy for two years. I never heard of the company again, probably went broke. Their airplanes, all covered with linen cloth, soon became obsolete as I understood, the market changed to the metal covering. So, I found myself established in a craft which was no longer used. Oh well, back to the farm.
Oh yes, I guess I forgot to mention that Margie and I had been engaged since the previous September, and when I got back to Montana, Margie's dad wanted me to work for him, that year. He was somewhat like my dad, both of them were changing from farming with horses to tractor power, and both were slow in getting acquainted with it. He needed help badly, and I didn't mind at all. Margie and I were married in Miles City, on June 19, 1930, and everything was “heavenly” as far as we were concerned. The great Stock Market Crash had not showed up to much extent, but what we didn't know, waiting in the wings, was the great Dust Bowl Drought. 1930 produced a minimum crop, but in 1931, not a single stalk of wheat reached the first of June, and no payment, on the property was forth-coming, so the property had to be turned back to the owner. Dad Boice had proved up on his homestead in 1910 but after struggling for 22 years to support his family, with the last two years being total failures, and finding himself deeper in debt, he turned everything over to the bank and pulled up stakes. He salvaged what he could and, along with several of the neighbors, formed a caravan and headed for the West Coast, where we had heard a living could be made. Yes, Margie and I had something to take with us as well, a six month old baby girl and a $1200 “Government Seed loan” debt that I would payoff over the next 15 years. I usually avoid recalling this period of Margie's and my early married life as it was very hard. Margie's folks had gone on, directly, to Ellensburg, Washington, but we dropped off at Spokane, thinking I could surely support my little family in a city as large as Spokane. I was dead wrong. There was no work of any kind, to be had and in just a few months I had to obtain help just to get us to Ellensburg. I still get depressed if that episode comes to mind and I have been having a rough time getting back on track.
As I have told you folks before I am writing these emails more for my benefit than for yours. I heard,or read that an older person, and believe me, I am older, should keep their brain busy or it might curdle, or something. I'm not sure if it's working or not. I may just go back and tell some of the lighter things of our caravan but screen out any unpleasant events. But for now, I'll try to keep on until somebody tells me, “That's enough, already”
Recently I had something strange, well different anyway, happen to me. A month or so, ago, I got a notice that I must report to the local courthouse for jury duty. I thought they surely didn't want an ancient old codger like me but I went in. I was told that there was no age limit so I checked in. I thought that surely I would be rejected, right? But about the first of the month I got a notice, “Report at such and such time.” I suppose I could remove my hearing aids and go down there with my hand cupped to my ear. Or, maybe I could doze off while they are checking me in. Oh well, it could be interesting. Yesterday I reported in at the Courthouse as required, but was given a reprieve with orders to report back in two weeks.
So, as I have some time on my hands I'll go back to the tale of my courtship. I had just won over Margie, a beautiful young lady of high standards. She was the most attractive young lady I had ever met and we had a most enjoyable summer. I'm sure I wanted our bliss to last forever. However there is something a young man doesn't understand. A young lady matures several years younger than the young man. Margie's mother had married her father at the age of 17 and followed him from eastern South Dakota to his newly acquired homestead at Circle, Montana, where they established their new home. Nothing unusual about that, but if marriage is mentioned to a boy of 17, ? No way. Now as to myself. In 1929 I was 21 years old and I was getting serious, but I could see no way I could support a wife. After the harvest in August 1929, I wasn't drawing wages from anywhere, and one night I had a nightmare. Margie and I had gone somewhere and were in this big strange public structure. There was a long stairway leading up from back of a railing and Margie had moved over to that railing and was climbing the stairs. She was looking back at me but when I called her, she, just sadly, shook her head and kept climbing.. I awoke in an almost petrified state as though, I had lost her.
My brother, Sam's headquarters were up the road from Margie's folks just a mile and I was still living with him. Sam was 10 years my senior but, I almost felt like he was my dad and he seemed to feel the same way about me, so the next morning I had a heart to heart talk with him. I told him how I wanted to marry the girl but I didn't see how I could possibly support the two of us. I was surprised at his advice. I knew that 5 years before, he had been engaged to marry a girl but she had died from a simple appendectomy and he had been terribly broken up. He told me, “Marry the girl. I waited, and my fiancée died. Things will work out, one way or another.” Almost at once an answer appeared. A friend of mine, Marion Scheely, had been interested in learning to fly, and had gotten some information on flying, from a flying school in Lincoln, Nebraska which advertised itself (falsely) as the school where “Lucky Lindy” (Charles Lindberg) had learned to fly. Marion also learned that aircraft welders were in demand for the building of aircraft fuselages. He wanted to learn to fly, and he wanted me to go with him. It sounded exciting to me and maybe becoming an aircraft welder would give me a craft with which, I could support a wife and family. Well, maybe I didn't look quite that far ahead right away, but at least it would give me a trade.
Now, how to get there? I did not have a car. Marion did, sort of. It was a 1923 Maxwell, and he had the idea, of making a 'bug', out of it. Some of you may ask, “What is a bug?”. What we later were called 'hot rods' were at that times called 'bugs' and were put together with a lot of creativity. In those early days, a car lost value fast and many could be classed as “junkers” within just a few years. A young fellow could buy one for, maybe, 20 to 40 dollars and if he didn't want to be seen in a ratty topless touring car, he might rebuild it into something unique to suit himself like we were doing. First, we removed the fenders, front and rear. The frame was all steel but the bed was made of wood. That allowed us to cut off the rear seat and start building a new body. We learned a lot in the next few weeks but never had to stop and rebuild a single thing. Our results were very satisfactory and soon we were on our way to Lincoln, Nebraska drawing much attention wherever we gassed up. Our route took us down through the Black Hills and into western Nebraska where we worked in a sugar factory for a short time before heading on down the river toward Lincoln.
About an hour or two before getting to Lincoln we got hungry and stopped at a little eating place.. This was in the early days of the radio and theirs was going full blast. The date was Oct.. 29, 1929 and the radio was shouting that the Wall Street Stock Market was crashing. It wasn't just a case of a few investments dropping, everything was bottoming out, worthless. Financiers were committing suicide, jumping from windows of the tall buildings they were working in. Tragic as all that sounded for those 'high rollers' my friend Marion and I couldn't see how what went on in New York had any connection with us at all, after all we didn't own any stocks. We had no idea that the stock market crash would soon be painfully felt
throughout the whole world.
We made it on into Lincoln and the next day, set out to investigate the Lincoln Flight School. However, it being Saturday, it was almost completely closed down. What we did see, didn't impress us and we were disappointed. Marion did have information on another school, two hundred miles on down in Missouri but I was afraid that school would be too expensive for me. I was just about in the notion of letting Marion go on and I would go back up the river to my folks at Oshkosh. However there was a young family living in a suburb of Lincoln, Havelock. The wife, Eva, was a dear friend of my sister, Pearl. I didn't know the husband but Pearl had asked me to look her up. She was glad to see us but beyond that, when we spoke of not being pleased with Lincoln she told us there was an airplane manufacturing company, Arrow Aircraft right there in Havelock, which was advertising both a flying school and a welding school with the promise of employment on completion of their school. We investigated, immediately. Not only that but Eva offered board and room for us, at very good price. We signed, at both places. Continued in next email issue.
It has been said, “Romances are made in Heaven.” That is true! But somewhere along the line the couple involved must meet. Not long after I finished high school, or maybe it was earlier, a young lady caught my attention, not her's, just mine. It so happened that I caught the glance of a second, or maybe a third young lady but I must not have met her favor. One time an older sister teased me about my girl friends and I met her jest with an untrue reply that I only had six girl friends but that I was true to everyone of them. Actually, very few young fellows had access to enough coins to jingle in a pocket let alone court a girl. Later, when I treated my wife-to be, to a dish of ice cream, she admitted it was the first time she had ever been so treated. This took place a couple of years after my oldest brother Sam, had rented some farm land near Circle, in eastern Montana.
Sam had suffered a tragedy in Nebraska and wanted nothing more to do with the area around Oshkosh. In the fall of 1927, shortly after finishing the harvest for Dad at Oshkosh, Sam, to my surprise, asked me, 10 years his junior, to go with him on a trip to Seattle. We got sidetracked in Circle, Montana checking out some land Dad was interested in. Sam by that time had recovered his composure, and decided to make a new life there. He rented two half sections of land, that were available, and we headed back to Oshkosh and home to prepare for taking over, that farm at Circle, in the spring of 1928.
When we took off that spring, every thing went fine, for a spell, but then my throat began to feel like pepper that had been spilled on a hot stove. It eased off by the time we got to Rapid City, South Dakota. I didn't feel so bad, the next mooring, but by the time we got to Belle Fourche and headed north, toward Camp Crock, I felt terrible. I do remember that Camp Crook was an Army Cavalry Training Post, and as far as I know, could have been one of the very last such posts. Much of the land, before getting to Camp Crook, was unfenced and we saw many mounted cavalrymen exercising in those areas. Sam tried to get help for me at Camp Crook but only found that I had influenza. We made it on into Baker, Montana where we finally found a doctor. He prescribed something that I'm sure was just baking soda, not capsules, just soda folded up in a paper. I had to open the paper at one end and pour it in my mouth then quickly take a drink of water, before I lost the whole thing. I hate to admit it but it did help, a little even though it tasted awful. We made it to Circle, that evening and Sam took me straight to the hospital. They kept me for fours days, and did they hang it on us. Four days and they charged me $16.
In a short time, I felt back to normal but I was weak as a kitten. Sam, by this time had bought a tractor and I could drive it without getting weak while I was getting back to normal. One Saturday evening we went to a school house dance, in the neighborhood. I was getting over my flu but was having trouble with my memory. There was one little girl that I took a liking to. But she was only a 16 year old, just a school, kid. I didn't make much headway with her as she got a little disgusted with me when I couldn't remember her name. I blamed it on my having had the flu, but the third time I asked her name she sort of told me off. It wasn't a difficult name, just a simple, Marjory Boice. I never forgot her name again but it was over a year before I met her again.
Now I must digress due to an instance that showed up rather interestingly, some forty years later. Sam had rented those two half sections of land from a wealthy man from California, by the name of, W. W, Stevens, who just happened to be in Circle at the time we were. He proved to be an interesting character, in that he brought much of his money to the Circle area, in the latter part of the 'teens' and had bought several secions of land and began farming with a company he had put together. By 1922 the company was found not to be a total success, as a company and the acreage was put out for rent. In 1929 Sam threw caution to the wind and rented the biggest part of what Stevens had left for rent, two or more, sections of land. One last word about “W.W”, (His title, in the Circle area.”) Everybody knew he came from Washington state. Ephrata lays at the southeast edge of the 'Big Bend'of the Columbia River. The two main cities laying in the western area, were Waterville and Mansfield, 40 to 50 miles from us at Ephrata. Once my business called me into that area, in about 1960 and I came in contact with an old timer who knew 'W.W.' He told me that he had been a very important person, owning several sections of wheat land back in the early 'teens'. However the area was hit with a cycle of droughts. “W.W.” gave up, and headed east. Why he stopped at Circle? Nobody seemed to know and I was one of them.
Sam's renting of those last sections brought about one thing that pleased me greatly. It included the home ranch which we moved into, at once. The buildings lay at the south-west corner, laying directly across the road from the half section homestead of L.L. Boice, the father of that little school girl, Marjory Boice. Hmmm? I did manage to see her, a time or two, that summer. Then one Saturday evening Sam let me take his car to a dance in town. The Boice's house and buildings lay at the other end of their section so I would be driving right past their home. As I got closer to their place, I saw a figure out by the road burning thistles. As I got closer I could see that it was Margie out there in overalls, burning those weeds. I had a thought, all she can say is yes or no, so I stopped to ask her. She fooled me. She said “I will have to ask my mother, to see if I can.” It has been a laughing matter for us, ever since. Her mother said, “No! of course you can't. We hardly know him and his brother.” But then she said, “What dress would you wear? And you would smell of smoke and will have to take a bath.” With that, Margie told me, later, she started handing her the articles she would need. When I brought her home, she told me she didn't feel quite at ease on going out with me as she, sort of, had a boyfriend , Herman from high school. She wanted to break it off but didn't want to hurt him. He was from a German family and his mother, and grandmother were not too pleased that he had not picked a sturdy German girl. They had been rude to her, the one time she had stopped with him, after school. Margie was such a kind hearted person that she didn't want to hurt his feelings. Her friend, also, had a handicap. He did not have a car and could borrow one from his older brother, only if he felt like it. The town of Brockway always had an annual celebration, called Dairy Day.
Years before, in the late 'teens, the Brockway, and surrounding people devised a way to make a fortune. They were going to bring in, dairy cows. The city people were going build the buildings to process the cream from the cows and produce butter, cheese, ice-cream and all kinds of things. The cows were brought in and put into production. When winter came they found they had a fatal problem. The spigots on the cows froze in the 50 degrees below zero weather, which was normal at that time. The cost of insulating the dairy cows was prohibitive. A celebration had been held before the winter came. The cows failed, with the coming of winter, but the celebration survived.
The Dairy Day celebration was approaching and no word had been heard from Herman that he would take her, nor did he let her know. He did not show up at the celebration so he was written off and I moved into first place. Margie and I had a great time taking in all the exhibits and even took a flight in a barn storming airplane. We were enjoying each other's company but we each had much maturing to do before we could become serious. We enjoyed each other's company but I did spend some time back in Nebraska, even taking some schooling in Lincoln that I thought could provide an income if we did get serious. However, I am saving that for my next email, when I continue this one. Bye now. Come to think of it, maybe Herman was out looking for a sturdy German girl.
I was reading a LOUIS L'AMOUR book, a while ago where the Villain hauled off and clobbered the Hero The hero weathered the attack and decided he was just as tough as the villain and their fight was on. I never have had but two fights in my whole-put-together. My first scrape occurred when I was 11 years old, and I was forced into it. I did like to wrestle but I never felt like hitting anybody, even my brother Bob, 16 months my senior. I guess a little background won't be amiss, I'll start here. In 1910, when I was 2 years old, Dad bought a farm, near Hollenberg, on the Little Blue River, just a mile and a half, down stream from the Nebraska-Kansas state line, and 150 miles from Missouri. I'll bet you always wanted to know all that. Dad bought that farm from an old timer, Jerry Shields, the biggest prevaricator in 16 states. I'll have to remember, his tales, they were far fetched, but worth borrowing, now and again. My tale takes place in 1918 so I'll skip those years. Dad sold the farm in 1917 and bought a General Merchandise Store in our town of Hollenberg. I had no problem mixing in with the town kids until the next year, then a new kid moved in to lived with his grand mother.
This boy's name was George Smith and he was different from any boy, that any one in town, had ever seen. He was not a good looking kid but, normally, that applies to many of us. His ears stuck out like twin sails one a sail-boat. He did have an oddity. His right arm had been broken and, perhaps, had even been set. It stuck out level from the shoulder socket. He was an orphan, and, apparently, had never had the smallest wish, denied. He arrived and announced his present like an Avenging Tyrant. The town of Hollenberg consisted, mostly, of four blocks with the few business buildings centered where the four blocks came to gather. One morning, I, along with a few other boys, or girls, were at the center. I see that I just made an error. Girls were not allowed in any gathering of we boys. George's grandmother lived down at the end of one of the blocks. block. I don't remember just what we boys were doing but the next thing I do remember was George coming out of the alley, loaded with as many weapons as he could carry. He had a 22 cal. rifle, he was waving at us. And he had Bowie Knife, (At least it looked awfully big.) and was swinging it around, threatening us in just about every way he could. Swearing and telling how he was going to do away with us. None of us had heard such talk as that and we beloved him. As far as me, I didn't hear all he had to say, by that time I was half way up the next street and picking up speed. George was, maybe, eleven years old, but his bluff had worked so good with us younger kids, he passed it on to the boys, up to 15 years of age. We, of George's age fought shy of him all summer long.
When school took up George started picking on boys a little older. There was a husky country boy, Herman, of, probably, 14 years, and one evening as school gave out, George started hassling him. Just how George could so completely bluff a boy so much larger than himself was a mystery. Herman's way home went right by Dad's store and Herman ducked in, hoping to brush him off. It didn't work. George kept threatening Herman and calling him all kind of names. Dad wouldn't stand for that and grabbed him by the arm and ushered him out the door, while Herman made his way out of a side door. George didn't resist Dad but when he got in the street and quit scolding him, he stuck his nose in the air and said “I hear a little dog barking.” Dad was furious. He turned to Bob and told him to go out there and thresh that kid. Bob wouldn't budge. School went on. One older student, lived put in the country a few miles rode a motorcycle to school . The cycle had a stand that lifted the rear wheel off the ground and was very stable. Many of the students went home for lunch and both George and I did but I, being closer to school, always got back first. This time we came up with a game. We, forth grade, declared to the younger ones that the cycle was poison and we would keep them from touching it. I was positioned with my back to the students coming back from lunch. I didn't see George coming up behind me. The first think I knew, he had grabbed and shoved me away. I thought, what's this?? I've been shoved harder by brother Bob, and turned back and faced him. Then he hit me. I then realized he was a fake. He wasn't as strong as I was. I had never fought a real fight but had wrestled a lot and in just a moment, I had him flat on the ground. He was a fraud. His bluff was gone, he was my meat. I wanted to continue the scuffle with all my heart but a couple of teacher came along, just then and stopped us.
That was the longest afternoon I had ever experienced I wanted to get on him, so bad. I had never had such a feeling toward anyone before. I didn't hate him, I just wanted to do away with the cloud that had hung over us for, I don't know how long. Recess finally came and I looked for George but he seemed to be avoiding me. There was one big game going on. Everybody of any age could join in. It called for the players to run from one line to another, without getting caught. My little sister, Iris started across and George showed up, just back of her. She fell down. I really don't know if he tripped her, or not but I accused him of it and attacked him. I don't believe I ever struck him but I did have on the ground and completely under control. I know he did some thing I thought was drooling, but an older boy said he was “frothing at the mouth” which in animals, indicates craziness. Again the action was interruption as the Principle arrived and put a stop to it. I was strange but George dropped his ornery ways and became a, more or less, normal kid. I was not acclaimed a hero but, also became a, more or less, normal kid.
I hope you don't mind, with this, being on the lighter side, but it is still true to the times, the late 1920's
Well, It ain't a gonna rain no more, no more
Ain't agonna rain no more
But how in the world can the Old Folks tell
It ain't agonna raim no more?
This is one spasm of a Loony Tune that, I think, filtered out of the deep South and was all the rage in the late twenties. It first showed up with a dozen, or so, spasms, but was added to constantly. Hardly a day went by but a new one showed up. They weren't suppose to make sense and few of them did. One of them read,
Peanut sitting on a railroad track
His heart was all a flutter
Along came number 216,
Toot, toot, peanut butter.
It didn't last all that long. After all, it wasn't any fun unless you could sing it to some body else, who hadn't heard it.
In the late 1920s, there was another fad that took over the country by storm. One that we male creatures could never understand, even if we didn't disapprove. It was the Pajamas Craze. Where it started? Nobody seemed to know, but the girls started wearing, loose, floppy, bright colored, print,
pajamas, in public. They wore them everywhere. The larger the print and the brighter the figures, the better they liked them. Even though the mothers might not have approved of their being worn, didn't, flat out, forbide them. Actually, some of them did look sort of cute. I doubt if they were ever slept in, but they surely were popular, for a rather short time.
I don't want to seem to be picking on the weaker sex, but another thing I remember. There was no bobbed hair on young ladies, nor older, for that matter. Little girls might have their hair shortened, but not when they neared their 'teens. It just wasn't done. It wasn't until the early twenties that I ever saw a girl with bobbed hair. It caught on fast when it did become acceptable. Curling irons had been around, forever but now another iron came on the scene, the Marcel iron. It was supposed to leave the hair in waves. It's acceptance was minimal. I can't remember seeing it used after the 1930s. One of my earliest recollections is of my mother preparing to go, just about any where. A hat was required, it was a must. I was always fascinated, seeing her installing a hat-pin. I was afraid she would stick that long sharp pin right through her head. Hats were being phased out, when we first came to Ephrata, some 60 years ago. If I remember right, the wife of one of our Pastors faithfully attended the services with her hat on. Yes, things have changed with my abode in this “Vale of tears”. Oh Well
The butterfly flits on wings of gold
The June wings of flame
The bedbug has no wings at all but
He get there just the same.
Some years ago, about 1933, we attended a quartet of colored singers from Piney Woods, Mississippi, by the name of The Jubilee Quartet, who presented a concert of sacred music. Their singing was excellent and we enjoyed every minute of it. It had been announced that a freewill offering would be taken. When the time come and the offering had been taken, the manager said, “Now I'm sure you folks have heard how we colored people have been known to take up a second offering, if we don't get enough the first time. We wouldn't want to disappoint you so we will show you how it is done.” He then sat there on the platform and counted the money and passed the plates again.
After the second offering had been taken he said, “I want you to know that I think you have been really very generous and this money will be a big help to our School For Colored Children, in Piney Woods, Miss. I must tell you of a church we visited a while back. I told those folks, like I did you, that if the offering wasn't enough, we would take another, and while it was being received, the pastor asked me what the offering, should be from a church of his size? I hastily estimated the crowd and named a figure. When the offering was counted it came to, just over, the amount I had named. The pastor then told me that he had been fearful that they would not receive that much. Pastor, I says, you asked what the average was for a church of you size, and I told you. But I want you to know, you are the first church that's come up to the average.
Shifting back to Ephrata. When we moved, here, in 1946, the town could have, been, almost, in birth pains. I don't have a history of Ephrata but it didn't have much going for it, from the beginning. I would class it as a “Cow Town” to start with. There was no agriculture, to speak of. With 6″to 8″ of annual rainfall, little could be raised in the area around Ephrata, except by expensive wells.
This, however, was in the process of being alleviated by the building of the “Grand Coulee Dam” in the Columbia River, that would provide, both electric power, with tremendous voltage as well as pumping a sufficient volume of water, to the altitude that would supply the irrigation needs of millions of thirsty acres in the Columbia Basin. Power came on line in time to be of great benefit in World War Two. Following the war, the need for the irrigation came on strong. Ephrata had been made the head-quarters of the U S B R (United States Bureau Of Recreation), as well as the County Seat, and was dreadfully behind, in just about every thing. The city fathers decided we must come up to date. So, the second year we were settled in, here, the renovation begin. The storm drains had to be deepened and extended. Side-walks and curbs must be installed. The Main street consisted of two paved lanes and must be widened. That brought on a hassle. Ephrata was noted for it's beautiful, tree- lined main street, the branches almost met at the middle. The State Highway agreed to pave the entire street, curb to curb, but only if the trees were removed. The Old Timers were, almost, in rebellion. Progress won and the town was torn up, and paved, from end to end, including most of the other streets. We knew it would be so wonderful, when it quit hurting, but how were we going to drive from here, to anywhere? If you wanted to drive from A to B, you might wind up by the way of Z. A motorist filled up with gas in a service station at the north end of town and drove out. An hour later he drove back in and asked, “I give up! How do you get out of this Cock-eyed town?
When the improvements were completed, Ephrata was really, the most modernized, with the most paved streets in the state of Washington. But those beautiful main street trees were gone. However, the side streets were spared and our city still has many big beautiful trees. Yes! I know, a few years ago, a City Planer came up with a plan to install smaller trees, in the side walks. The small trees were installed but I wasn't consulted. Makes me think of my many-times told tale, when Margie baby-sat a little girl from across the street. She kept bring little wooden blocks and putting them in my lap. When I told her I didn't want them, she cocked her head to one side and remarked, “Well, You got 'em, bebee!” Bye Now.
I'm not a Philosopher, I don't think. If I only knew how to spell the word I'd look it up and find out. I do have a few ideas about some things. Take life itself, or old age, for instance. One explanation of life, I heard, was it's ability to react to it's surroundings. That is a little too deep for me but I know you have it or you don't. If you don't have it, nothing matters, but if you do, you'd better cherish it and put it in the hands of the Lord God that can keep it for you. I am not a preacher. I have never had a calling to preach. I, and Margie, did have a “Born again experience”, not long after we were married and from that time on, our life has been rewarding and satisfying. Not a bed of roses, but who would want roses for a bed? A few years ago there was a big beautiful wild yellow rose bush in full bloom, across the alley, and I stopped to pick one, and thorns? And sharp? A bed of them? No thanks. Oh Well.
Old age, now, is something I am acquainted with. I tend to agree with the old fellow who said that old age isn't for Sissies, however, it isn't all that bad either. No way would I want to go back and make all those mistakes over again. I guess the old Dutchman was pretty close to right when he said, “Ve get too soon, old, und too late, smart.” Old is something that sneaks up you. The remake was made that when you reach forty, you may think you are just coasting, but brother, you're slipping. One time when I was a few years past that age, I reached up to an overhead water pipe to chin myself. I found I don't do that any more.
What is it like to get old? It's really not so bad. First, it's something that only happens to other people. And then, what is old, or when is one old? When I was twenty, it was somewhere around the age of forty. When I reached forty, it was still later. I came to the conclusion that we don't get older, others did. Some years ago I was with my brother-in-law, Bun, in a little town in western Nebraska, when an old acquaintance of his, came along and passed the time of day with us before hobbling on down the street. Bun looked after him and remarked, very seriously, ”That old Codger! My, but he's been around a long time, He's eighty years old.” He had forgotten he, himself, was eighty-two at the time.
My memory isn't what it used to be. Come to think of it, last Sunday, May 6, my kids, two girls and two boys, threw a Whing Ding of a party for me. People came from all over. It was four days after the full moon, so that shouldn't call for a celebration. Today is May 10. which doesn't ring a bell but tomorrow is May 11 which should mean something. Good grief!, That's my birthday, I was born on May 11, 1909, 99 years ago. My how time does fly. Bye now.