Our Family Legacy
I remember my father as a kind and loving man. Many happy hours were spent on his knees listening to true stories of the pioneers and many faith promoting stories about the leaders of the Church.
Dad prided himself with his beautiful garden. He and our neighbor, Woodford Wilkerson, would complete to see which one would have the first ripe tomato. My job was to go through the potato patch and pick the potato bugs off the plants and put them in a jar, later to be destroyed. Many happy hours were spent under the old poplar trees that lent shade over the front lawn, eating delicious green peas picked from the garden. Another treat was to fill the salt shaker with sugar and go to the tomato patch to pick and eat the tasty red tomatoes. One of the favorite foods was what we called succotash, which was made from the yellow sweet corn and a speckled bean resembling the lima bean. By the end of the summer, hundreds of quarts of vegetables and fruit were placed in an old copper boiler to be processed. These were placed on shelves down in the cellar. Carrots, beets, and potatoes were put in bins in the cellar that we could go into from a trap door that was in the corner of the kitchen. Mother worked hard to see that the cellar was full of different kinds of fruits and vegetables, as canned goods were unheard of in the stores. In fact, very little was bought from the grocery store, except salt, sugar, spices, and flour. We raised chickens to supply us with eggs as well as meat. A cow furnished our milk, and a pig was always ready to be butchered for pork through the winter.
My mother was such a kind, sweet woman, with a good sense of humor. I never remember her to complain. She was truly a woman of courage, a woman of mercy, always tending to the sick and those in need.
Our home was not only used for the Town Court House, but was used as a hospital, and even a mortuary. Mother took care of my oldest sister Jennie when her babies were born. One of her babies, that was born at our house, had something wrong with him. The doctor was called in and he said the baby could not live. He was given a name and a blessing, and then quietly passed away. I remember this tiny baby, lying in the small little coffin, as they held the funeral services in our living room. When there was a death in any family, women and men, friends of the family, would prepare the body and dress it for burial, then would sit up with it until time to be taken to the church for the funeral. Often cold cloths had to be kept on the face to preserve it as there was no embalming.
Some of my most cherished memories were childhood experiences spent at Aunt Josephine Brinkerhoff’s farm house. We would play hide-and-seek; a game called ‘anti-I-over’ this was a game where we chose up sides, then threw the ball over the house top to the other side, where that team would try to catch the ball, then would run around the house to catch the one who threw the ball. I enjoyed the farm animals and climbing the big hay stacks! So much to do on a farm!
One of the highlights of my summer vacations would be to ride the train with my father to Manderson, Wyoming. He would be met by my sister Jennie and travel back to the reanch with her. She and Ben owned a ranch that was located at a place called “The Nowood”. What fun I would have, as some of Jennie’s children were my age. We used to play at the little rural school house that was located just on the edge of their ranch. We would ring the bell and them play school. An old swinging bridge crossed the river near their house. It was a daring thing to run across it as it swayed high on the Nowood River.
World War 1 broke out. Andrew joined the army and was sent over to France. Carl and Ray joined the Navy. Lee was going to join the marines when the Armistice was signed. Some of the local boys never returned from the war. Aunt Loretta’s (Stewart) son, Robert Boyd, was in the navy and he went down with his ship. It was never found. I was about five years old but I remember the boys coming home from war dressed in their khaki colored army uniforms, and others dressed in their navy blues, and little white sallor hats. My brother Ray stayed in the navy, and was a guard at the navy prison in Massachusetts. Andrew came home a lieutenant in the army and stayed on in the cavalry reserves. Andrew made teaching his profession and taught in our neighboring town of Cowley. It was at this time he married Amy Porter. He was coach for their basketball team, and other sports, which made much competition between Cowley and Lovell, his home town. His basket ball team became champions of the area, traveling to Chicago for the play-offs. On his return from Chicago, he bought me a talking doll for Christmas. What a surprise! They were unheard of at that time in Lovell.
Christmas was a happy time. We would string popcorn and cranberries on a long string, then make red and green construction paper chains, to trim our tree. This was done ton Christmas Eve. Miniature candles were clipped to the branches and lit. Electric lights were unknown at this time. Most homes used kerosene lamps. We had a gas light in our dining room! I remember when we finally got electricity and had an electric iron to iron our clothes. Up until this we used a flat iron heated on the back of the stove. This meant many trips back and forth to reheat the iron. We always hung up our stockings before going to be Christmas Eve, hoping we would get a few mixed nuts, and especially that we get an orange. I don’t remember ever opening packages. We would find upon awakening, our stockings filled with goodies and some sort of a toy that was left for us under the tree with our name on it.
My house hold chores when I was small, was mostly dusting the furniture. I remember the old Singer sewing machine with all the cast iron filigree that formed the legs. I used to sit on the floor and carefully take my polish cloth in and out of the design that formed the word “Singer”. The old book case with glass doors was polished and the glass doors cleaned until they sparkled. It stood in the living room and housed all the family pictures. The pride of the living room was a beautiful four-legged grand piano. It was on this piano that I took my first piano lessons. The Victrola, which stood in the corner, was the pride and joy of my father. When the radio finally came, father bought the first battery-operated one in town. Only two could listen to their marvelous invention at a time to hear. _Amos and Andy”, but we all marveled to be able to hear their voices from so many miles away! We speculated that some day we would probably be able to see the people that were talking and singing. Father’s large polished desk sat in the cent of the living room and on top of it always laid the family Bible.
Valentine’s Day was always looked forward to. My cousins and I would work for days making valentines for our friends. We used flowers cut from the seed catalogue, which we pasted on red and white construction paper, and then we wrote verses on them. The big day would come and we took many of them to school placing them in a big Valentine Box, to be given out later to our classmates. We always kept a few special ones to leave on the door steps of special friends, and as they opened the door we would call out “Happy Valentine”!
Easter was another spring day that we looked forward to, as we made our Easter baskets out of shoe boxes, decorating them with crepe paper. Many turned out to be beautiful works of art. A picnic was always planned and lunch was carried in our fancy Easter baskets. I don’t remember having a new dress for Easter but I always looked forward to a new dress for the 24th of July celebration. The 24th of July was always a big event in Lovell as we celebrated with our neighboring towns of Cowley and Byron. A big parade was the main attraction. The Shoeshone Indians took part in the parade adding much color and thrill to the occasion. On the 24th of July Celebration, which I remember well, the Indians stage an attack on the pioneers. As they circled the wagon trains they set one afire before our very eyes, then grabbed a calf and killed it. Later I was told by my parents that it was pre-arranged to have the calf killed for the local butcher. It was so real and as a child it really impressed me. This same 24th of July, was made special for me when my Father took my Mother and me to the local restaurant to eat dinner! This was a real treat, one I had never had before. I was especially impressed by the little round crackers they served with the soup, known to us today as oyster crackers.
Some of my close friends, as a child, were: Shirley Kocherhans, Irene Waters, Edna Moncur, Eldora Michelson, Frances Pearson, Laneta Copeland, and many others. Our fun thing to do was to meet at one of our homes for a candy pull!
I was now thirteen years old. I remember coming home from school one day and found my father wasn’t there. I was told that he was seriously ill. Mother had taken him to Billings, Montana, to the hospital. He underwent surgery and finally was brought home, but was never completely well again. Father died 2 December 1926. I shall never forget that cold wintry day when he was laid to rest in the Lovell cemetery.
Mother was in poor health suffering from heart trouble. Three of my brothers were living in California and arranged for Mother and me to move there so they could take care of her. We arrived in Long Beach New Year’s Eve 1936(?) . It was quite an experience for me to leave all my child hood friends and move to a new city.
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