I was born in Barry County, Michigan on July 5, 1890. It was called the Wellman
Farm, the owner's name being Wellman. My parents rented the farm. The house,
still standing and looking in quite good repair for its age, is a pretty, old fashioned
brick house located on Wellman Road, just south of the Coats Grove Road, on
south is a road called Bayne, beginning there and going east. Wellman Road is a
north and south road, the first corners west of Woodland on M4. The house is
unusual and so differently constructed from other houses around it. Must have
been quite a showplace at the time I was born. Gary took me for a drive over there
yesterday afternoon. We were headed west on Coats Grove and we could see it
just before turning south onto Wellman Road.
My parents, LeGrande De Forrest Lovell and Sarah Ann Croy were natives of
McComb, Hancock County, Ohio. My Grandparents were Joseph Lovell, born in
Tonawonda County, New York, and Nancy Grubb born in Ohio. Joseph Lovell was
a carpenter by trade, also used to operate a big sawmill near Findlay, Ohio.
My father had no special trade and just worked for farmers in the vicinity. After
my parents were married they decided there was no future for them in Ohio just
working for other people. My mother had cousins in Lansing who kept writing to
them, telling of the employment a man with a team of horses could find here in
Michigan. So they packed up their belongings in a covered wagon hitching a cow
on behind so they would have milk for their two babies, Nancy Mae, two years old,
and Arby Ray, three months old. They started for Michigan against the wishes of
both the Lovell's and the Croys. Everyone told them they would starve to death or
else be killed.
My mother said, her people and really all people they knew, thought of Michigan
as a place that no one after living in Ohio could possibly endure. A brother-in-law
told them they couldn't even grow decent corn in Michigan, made fun of my Dad
and said it was nothing but popcorn compared to Ohio corn. Well, I guess he was
right about the corn but not right about my Dad never having a home of his own.
My uncle had his home given to him. In spite of everything and everybody they
left Ohio and settled at first in the then Village of Lansing on North Larch Street.
It was in the spring of 1880. I know that date is right because Arby was born
December 5, 1879 and they left for Michigan the next year. Frances (Grace and
Charles Collier's daughter) was here to see me yesterday and told me a story that
I had forgotten which proves that the time was spring. It seems my mother had a
hen that wanted to set and Ma put the eggs underneath her (the old hen, not my
mother). They then put eggs and hen's nest in a crate and added it to their load on
top of the covered wagon. Before they reached Lansing the eggs hatched into
little chickens. It takes three weeks for eggs to hatch (no incubators in that age).
So you see there was a flock of poultry to add to their live stock to begin farming.
Already had their team of horses, of course, to pull their covered wagon and a
cow tied on behind to furnish them with milk on the trip. Must have been a sight
to behold! Today it would be hilarious and people would certainly wonder if
those folks had all their marbles. At that time it was not unusual, you see many
others were doing the same thing. Migrating to Michigan where there was work
to be found; now people are leaving Michigan for the lack of employment there.
I don't know how long they lived in Lansing, but my father found plenty of
work. Remember this one job he had drawing logs from the Old Maid's Swamp
Dimondale. They were cleaning out the timber on the land around there. That
territory is still called the Old Maid's Swamp. I read an article in the Journal just
recently. Can't remember what it was but whatever it was, it happened there.
Another story told us: My mother was working in her home on Larch Street one
morning and she noticed that people passing by were stopping and laughing a
minute or two, then going on. Ma thought she would find out what was so funny
about her house. Well, in the middle of the front yard was a pump with a tub
underneath where Pa watered his horses. In the tub was Mae. She had removed
her clothes and decided to take a bath. After all that was what tubs were used for
back in those days.
That trip to Lansing! What an ordeal it must of been to leave their parents,
brothers, sisters, and friends and strike out on their own to try and make a better
life for themselves in the "wilds of Michigan". Everything they owned in the world
was on that wagon. My father had $300.00 in cash and a lot of will power. They
told about his Grandmother Lovell riding horseback to their house that morning
to say "Good-Bye". She always rode her horse anyplace she wanted to go. Guess
she was quite an independent lady, herself. Couldn't be bothered with a buggy.
Came cross-lots through a woods to see my folks.
Also, that morning, Ma said her Mother (my Grandma Croy) came to the road as
they were driving by and handed her up a plate with two pieces of pie for their
lunch. Tears were streaming down her cheeks and neither one of them could say
a word. I presume Grandma thought she never would see them again. My mother
kept the plate. It was a bread and butter plate with a blue border and ~ peacock
picture in the center. Ma still had it when she lived down here on 43. Several times
antique collectors had stopped there to see if she had anything to sell. They
always wanted to buy her plate but she always said "no". Later on the plate
disappeared and we girls decided she must have sold it for she never had much
to say when we would be trying to figure out the mystery. I believe she finally sold
it and I think I know the reason. There was Mae, Grace, Pearl, and I left and she
knew it would be hard to decide who should have the plate so she sold it. That
way there would be no problems. We probably would have given it to Mae. After
all she came to Michigan with the plate but I know anyone of us would have really
prized it and kept it in the family. It was beautiful!
I think of so many questions I should have asked and written the answers to so
long ago when I was told about their trip up here. Wonder how Ma cooked their
meals, how she kept their clothes clean, did she run out of food, and were there
many towns on the road, any stores, did they ever get lost? Think of coming that
far with the horses walking all the way. Couldn't trot them with the cow behind
and the old hen might have gotten scared moving along so fast and jumped
around,breaking her eggs or letting them get cold. Eggs wouldn't hatch if they
were allowed to get cold. Ma used to tell me if my foresight was as good as my
hindsight, I'd be quite a woman and this proves she was right, as usual. I was
always apt to do something, then later I'd know what I really should have done.
Guess I have rambled on long enough and now better get my folks out of
Lansing. They moved from Lansing to Woodland. The first place was just south
of 43, on the west side of the road. It was called the Curtis place and Darrel says
it is still spoken of as the Curtis place and it, too, is on Wellman road. Their next
move was a mile south, turning east on Barnum Road. Sylvia and Grace were
Also during this time before Sylvia and Grace, a little girl Jennie Fay was born
April 2, 1881. She died April 23, 1881. Another baby boy was born in 1882, living
only a few minutes. Sylvia was born in 1884, then Grace in 1887. Next another boy
in 1889 who lived just a few minutes also. My mother said the two little boys
choked to death. At that time they knew nothing about turning a new born baby to
lay on their stomachs as they do now, so they won't choke. They were never laid
that way because people were afraid they'd smother.
The next move the folks made was two miles on south, still on Wellman Road.
Crossing Coat's Grove Road to a big brick house on the east side of the: road,
where I was born July 5, 1890. I think they rented these farms, at least I know the
Wellman place was rented. I was six months old when they bought their home on
Ionia Road, so that was December, 1890. Ten years since they left Ohio in 1880.
Now their dreams were becoming real, their own home at last! In December of
1892, Pearl was born. In 1893, Pa built a big barn. Our next door neighbor, first
house south, was such a pompous, over-bearing guy who said, "That Dan
Lovell, with his big family has bit off more than he can chew". My Dad must have
chewed pretty well for when he died in May 1901, he was out of debt on that farm
and had purchased eighty acres on the town line, just west of the corners south
of our place. This road is now called Kelly, the eighty acres is last house on south
side just before you reach Irish Road, which goes north and south. If you ever
happen to drive by this place, take a good look at that high bank barn. Arby was
repairing the roof lost his footing and slid off, landing on his feet on the ground.
Wasn't hurt much, just a good shaking up. Cat's nine lives, I guess.
May 26, 1901
A day never to be forgotten. My father died this morning. It was Sunday. Pearl and
I were still asleep when Mae came up after us. I can even remember what she said.
"Wake up little girls and come say good-bye to your father. You won't have one
much longer". Mae helped us dress and we went down stairs, not really knowing
what was happening. The doctor was there, had been with Pa all night long.
Some neighbors too. I have often wondered how they got word to the doctor. His
name was McIntyre. He located in Woodland the same year my folks did and he
and my Dad were pals. Medicine wasn't as far advanced in those days as now. Pa
had only been sick a week, the doctor called it pneumonia and said to my mother
after Pa died, "I just don't know how to take care of this disease in warm weather.
If it was winter, I would know". Ma said if she could have just kept Pa in bed, like
the doctor ordered, he would have recovered. I remember one day he sat on the
granary steps and shelled seed corn for Arby, who was trying so hard to get the
corn in. Had to use a hand-corn planter which meant walking back and forth
across the fields, punching this gadget into the ground, then tripping it to release
the corn into the soil. Can't explain it but have one in my garage at the present
Could demonstrate so you'd understand. Also you had to plant each hill just so
far apart so you could get back and forth with a cultivator later on. The little dots
represent the hills. Notice you could go up and down as well as across. Quite an
accomplishment. Often think about it when Spitzley's go past my house, here,
with that corn planter of theirs. Such improvement. Another precious memory
occurred that last week of my father's life. One night after supper Ma told me to
stay with him so he wouldn't be alone. Can't remember why, but everyone else
would be busy outside. It was after supper and Pa was sitting up in a rocking
chair (same chair is at Pearl's now). When we were alone, he said, "I haven't
heard you play the organ this week. Why?" I answered, "Ma told me not to for fear
it would disturb you." He told me it would not disturb him and to go play for him. I
said, "I've learned a new piece and I have been wanting you to hear it." I can even
remember the song. It was the hymn I Never Will Cease To Love Him. Pa told me
the song was pretty and that I was improving. Made me feel like a "Prima Donna".
That is the last conversation I ever had with him. On Saturday night he took a turn
for the worst and died Sunday morning. There were no funeral homes in those
days and the body was kept at home until the funeral. Neighbors came in and sat
up each night to watch over him so nothing would happen. I had never seen a
casket or been to a funeral. It was so frightening. The caskets were hideous. A
long, narrow, black box with rounded dome shaped ends. Just long enough and
wide enough for the person to be laid in. Think it was lined with white satin. The
only flowers I can remember was a pillow shaped arrangement of light blue Iris,
that one of the neighbors made. I remember how pleased my mother was with it,
but I can't think of the name of the person who made it.
Children's Day Exercises were to be held the next Sunday and Mae had made
Pearl and I new white dresses to wear. Ma, when she was planning what clothes
everyone should wear to the funeral, said Pearl and I both had nice new dresses
to wear. One of the neighbors was horrified and said we ought not to wear white
and they would be glad to make us some black ones. My mother had quite a time
convincing her that she would not have us little girls dressed in black. Our Dad
would certainly not allow it if he could have his say. Next they said they didn't
think we should take part in the exercises at the church on Sunday so soon after
the funeral which was scheduled for Wednesday, but Ma stuck to it and won out
again. Pearl and I were in drills and exercises which couldn't be given without all
the children to take part. Wouldn't be time for our Sunday School teachers to
train new children in our parts.I had a recitation to give and of all things my
memory failed me right in the middle of it, no one was coaching me, it was
unheard of for me to forget a piece. Well, I did, but I just stood there waiting for
someone to prompt me, my knees shaking so I could hardly stand up, and
finally I remembered and just finished the thing up. I was so ashamed that I could
hardly walk back to my seat.
Then, this is what I heard a woman say as were waiting in the church entry for
Arby to bring the horses around to take us home. "If that had been anyone but
Myrtie, I would have felt sorry for them. She just stood there until she
remembered and went on like nothing had happened. I knew she would
remember." I did, but I was nearly petrified.
The neighbors were good and meant all right. They stuck by and helped us
through this trying time and Ma was really grateful. Can't remember to much
about the funeral itself. Such a long, dusty ride. The services were held in a
church located in the Woodland Cemetery about six miles from home. North 3/4
mile from our house to Bismark Highway, then straight west to Velte Road, then
north 1/2 mile. The church has been gone now for a good many years and the
land is now part of the cemetery. I remember they said the procession following
the hearse was almost two miles long and of course the horses were walked all
Remember Minnie Campbell, who married Arby a few years later, played the
organ for some man and woman to sing. Can see the inside of that church so
plainly even though it has been eighty three years ago. Allie Phillips, Arby's
current girl friend sat with us. She was Ina Lemmons sister. Pearl says the only
thing she remembers about that day was riding home with Mae and Fred Clay,
and Mae kept her singing for Fred. Pearl says she knows now that Mae did it to
keep Pearl's mind off the happenings of the day. Mae and Fred were married in
November of that year.
That summer Mae kept the house work and meals going. Ma and Sylvia helped
Arby in the fields. Ma bought a hay loader, $100.00, the first one in use in our
neighborhood. One man said, "She's spoiling that boy already. Old Dan Lovell
would have pitched that hay himself. There was nothing lazy about him." Others
thought it was a wonderful thing for Ma to do. Everything the Lovell's did that
summer was the talk of the neighborhood. Some praised them and others
criticized. Summer passed and next thing it was almost Christmas time. Another
picture I can see in my mind. Sylvia and Ma were washing dishes at the sink. Ma
washing, Sylvia drying, they were both crying and I heard Sylvia say, "You just
can't do that to the little girls (Pearl and I). You have to go ahead and have
Christmas. (Ma had told Sylvia that she just could not have Christmas.) You know
Pa would want it". My mother kept saying, "I just can't do it" but Sylvia kept
talking until she consented. Well, I managed to slip out of the kitchen before they
noticed me and they never knew I heard them. It was a hard year for everyone.
The Christmas before that had been such a happy one. Mae was teaching the
Patterson School, about a mile south of us toward Vermontville. Pa had cut a nice
pine tree for Mae to have for her Christmas exercises. Of course he wanted all of
us to have a gift on the tree so he asked me to go to town with him one day. After
we were on our way, he said, "I want to buy a present for your Ma and all you
children and I need you to help me". Also said I was not to tell anyone. Did I ever
feel important. He bought Ma a beautiful parlor lamp, Mae a water set, Arby, Sylvia,
and Grace, I can't recall but for Pearl and I it was a Havilland china plate with cup
and saucer to match. I still have mine, the handle is broken off the cup and that
makes it all the dearer because of the way it happened. The cup was used the day
of the funeral. Pa's sister, Emma was drying the dishes and she broke the handle
off my cup. She cried so hard about it and I said, "Don't feel so badly, every time I
see it I will think of you and that will make it dearer than ever”.
I remember Pa stopping at the Patterson school house on our way home,
leaving the gifts with Mae to put on her tree. Well time marched on and me along
Back in those early times, you needed very little actual cash. Raised most of our
food. When Pa sold the wheat, he always had enough ground into flour to last us
for a year. Made maple sugar in the spring and exchanged it at the grocery for
Butchered beef and hogs for our meat. Cured the hams and shoulders of the
hogs, then smoked them so they would last through the summer. Ma used to
make dried beef. (In fact she made that for Ray and I one winter when she lived
We had apples, plums, pears, peaches, quinces, strawberries, raspberries, black
and red ones. We also had currants, gooseberries, and some called dewberries.
These grew on a vine on the ground and were a large berry, larger than
blackberries. Never see them anymore. Also a mulberry tree and of course
rhubarb. These fruits my mother canned or dried for use in the winter. Oh, I forgot
the cherry orchard. The canning and jellies, jams, preserves, pickled pears, and
peaches that went into our basement, you wouldn't believe it now. Used to like
the apples that we dried. Would cook them with raisins, put them in a tall crock
and had them whenever we wanted. Also made apple butter in a big copper
kettle, cooking it over an open fire outside. This, too, would keep in open crocks.
Didn't have to be sealed up like we do now.
We raised chickens, so of course had our own eggs and sold the young
chickens in the fall. We had cows, our own milk and butter. Ma used her eggs and
homemade butter to exchange for groceries. Also if there was any money due her
from these, she would say, “Oh just give it to me in sugar", never the cash. She
also used her milk and egg money to buy our clothes.
We raised turkeys, geese, and ducks. Had these to sell in the fall too. In the
spring, the ducks and 'geese were caught and held between our knees while you
pulled their feathers off. I hated that job but it wasn't painful to them. Ma used the
feathers to make pillows and ticks, we called them, for our beds. They were like a
mattress. The pillows I sleep on now are made from duck feathers and I also have
a feather mattress upstairs that was made with duck feathers when I was a girl.
All this canning, selling of eggs, chickens etc. made our living expenses. The
money from the crops could be used for mortgage payments, taxes, machinery,
repairs , etc .. Ten years of hard work and good management had put my folks
out of debt. Their dream came true.
A special part in my memories are the evenings, when the whole family was
together in our large sitting room. It would certainly be boring to the children and
parents now. No television, no radio, which are today thought of as regular
necessities for our way of living.
Outside chores all taken care of, supper dishes done, now everyone could relax
and enjoy themselves. Each in their own way or maybe playing games or listening
to our parents telling of their life when they were young, or telling about our
relatives back in Ohio. A big round-oak stove about in the center of the room kept
us warm. Box full of wood behind the stove to replenish it when the fire burned
low, a big long table at one side, with an oil lamp (no electricity either) in the center
was all the light we had in the room. Certainly didn't shine in the corners.
My mother told this story of the lights they had in her childhood. It was called a
"slut". We'd have her make one and show us. They put tallow or lard in a saucer,
then laid a strip of cloth through it, pulling one end out of the grease and lighting
that. You could just about see the light, it was so dim. Of course there were
candles in those early days. Ma could remember the first oil lamp they ever owned.
Said her rather wouldn't allow any of them to light it. He would always take care of
that because he was afraid they might get burned. This must have been a big
improvement over the "rag in the saucer".
My Dad had a cobblers outfit and sometimes would put new soles on our shoe
in the evening. You wanted to be on the alert when he finished. He would pull the
shoe off the last and give it a toss in the direction of the owner. You were
suppose to catch it, but if you happened to miss and it hurt a little, you wasn't to
be crying over it because it was all in fun. I very seldom caught mine. Never could
play ball! We had Checkers, Flinch, Dominoes, and Old Maid. We may have had
more but that is all I can remember in the game line. Used to make up things to do
and games to play. Sometimes someone would read to us or we'd decide to have
a spell-down. Also we might sing.
This was the highlight of our evening when my father would coax my mother
into dancing for us. She would say there was no music and he would answer, "You
come on, I'll make the music". They would dance the Polka, Pa singing a song that
started out "with a heel and a toe and a poky-oh". That's all I can remember of it but
they really could dance, even with the make believe music. Then after they pokey-
ohed for a while, they would shottish. That was such a stately, beautiful dance. If I
could use my feet I could demonstrate. I don't believe it is ever danced anymore
and I know I haven't spelled it right. I believe the correct way was Schottische. Oh,
it bothers me to think I can't spell it. Tried to find it in the dictionary but no luck.
Guess it doesn't matter because you won't know what I'm trying to say anyway.
Often there was popcorn and apples or else sweet cider to drink. Ma used to can
that. Pa always peeled the apples for the little girls (Pearl and I). We got lots of
attention, quite often it was mostly teasing and that wasn't always fun to us. Arby
and Pa would crack walnuts, butternuts, or hickory nuts, or maybe all three. We
had these trees," too. Never see butternuts anymore and they were best of the
Occasionally, a neighbor family would drop in to share the evening. That was
fun. I can remember one time, especially. We children always sat at the big, long
table to play games. One night we were sitting there eating popcorn. Baker's
were the company that night. He, Mr. Baker, told Pearl and I he would give us a
dime if we could find two kernels of corn that were shaped alike. We spent the
whole evening lining our corn up on the table. We searched and searched but we
earned no dime.
In the summer, our evenings were usually spent in the front yard. Most people's
yards were filled with weeds and tall grass. No lawn mowers at that time. My Dad
always kept ours mowed with a scythe. We had a lawn swing and were we ever
proud of that. As many as could get in would pile into the swing, the rest sitting on
the ground. My Dad loved to sing as we all did and we'd spend the evening
singing. Mostly hymns. My Dad used to go to "Singing School" as it was called in
his day. Also sang in the church Choir. One night, I didn't know the words to one
particular song, so I just hummed the tune. After the song was over, my Dad
informed me never to do that again. Either learn the words or keep still. That sort
of spoiled that evening for me, but I learned the words to all the songs after that.
Rawson's, who lived on the corner south of us used to tell us they could hear
our singing up there. Guess it's time to wind up the evenings and go to bed. I'm
hoarse but so happy. So much fun!
In the late summer of 1900, my Dad decided to go visit the folks in Ohio. His
parents, as well as my Mother's, were still alive. Hitching two horses onto our
double buggy (a buggy with two seats, no top). Pearl and I in the back seat, we
started for Ohio. Getting as far as Hillsdale, the first day, we stayed overnight at the
home of Asa Kelley, one of Ma's cousins.
In those days there were no motels or any place to stop over night, so it was the
custom to drive into some strangers place and ask if they would keep you over
night. My people had never refused to take anyone in. In fact, no one else in our
neighborhood ever did, but they'd direct the strangers to our house. Tell them to
go on to Lovell's, they will take care of you. Pa would help the man to water, feed,
and bed the horses down for the night. Ma would get them their supper, make
places for them to sleep. In the evening, we'd all sit around and visit, just like old
friends. In the morning, it would be breakfast and feed for the horses again. When
they'd ask how much they owed Pa for his trouble, he would say, "no trouble, we
enjoyed having you” and never charge them a cent. He'd also say maybe I might
want someone to help me out sometime.
Well, the time had come, and the first place he asked, they were people like us,
who were in the habit of keeping travelers over night. We were asked in at once. I
remember, after supper, we were all in their big living room, grown-ups visiting.
They had a Melodeon and I had my eye on that.
Looked a little like a small organ but I knew it wasn't that. I finally got up courage
enough to ask about it. The lady said it played just like an organ and asked if any
of us played. Well my Dad told them I did and I was scared. Don't know what in the
world I played, Little Black Moustache, probably. That was about all I knew then.
Next we were asked if any of us sang and Pa told them Pearl and I could, so we
sang. I asked Pearl the other day if she remembered and she said, "Yes, I can even
remember the song". I had forgotten but remembered as soon as Pearl wrote it
Here it is.
"Life is like a mountain railway,
We must make the run successful
From the cradle to the grave.
Watch the hills, the curves, the tunnels
Never falter, never quail
Keep your hand upon the throttle
And your eye upon the rail.
Blessed Savior, wilt thou guide us
Til we reach that blissful shore.
And the angels come to join us
In thy home forevermore."
Maybe there was more than that but neither one of us can remember. Next
morning, after breakfast with these nice people we started and Mother were so
happy. In the afternoon, Pearl and I were so tired of riding that my Dad told us, at
the foot of a big hill. we could get out and walk up the hill. Said he would have to
walk the horses anyway and it would rest us from riding. We really enjoyed that
until we nearly reached the top where my Dad gave a big "war-whoop" and
cracked the whip. He scared the horses, they started running and soon the whole
rig disappeared. Pearl and I started running too and yelling bloody murder.
Reaching the top of the hill, there about half way down the other side, they were
waiting for us, laughing over the big joke. Pa had that in his mind when he let us
out to walk. It wasn't funny to us, we thought they were leaving us forever.
Later on in the day, we crossed the Maumee River on a wooden bridge.
I can remember the sound of the horses hooves as they clip-clopped across. Pa
sat up so straight and was so excited. I remember him saying, "Look, Sade, we're
crossing the old Maumee again". They were going home! We drive into McComb.
It was after dark. Main street and the stores were all lit up. Saturday night and the
streets were filled with people, out for their weekly shopping. One of my Dad's
cousins, Ell Lovell had a grocery store and when we passed his store, we could
see him standing behind the counter right up front, weighing something up. My
Dad was like a little kid, he said, "Look, Sade, there's Old Ell laughing and talking
as always". Grandpa and Grandma Lovell lived right on Main Street in McComb.
We went there to spend the first night. It's the strangest thing, but I remember no
more of this trip.
We must have visited so many places. My Grandpa and Grandma Croy were
alive then. Also my mother had two brothers and four sisters. My father also had
two sisters and three brothers all living around McComb. Can't recall seeing any
of them, nor how long we stayed and nothing at all about the ride home. McComb
is such a pretty town, about the size of Charlotte. That Saturday night driving the
whole length of Main Street, seeing all the bright lights shining, to me it was the
most beautiful spot in all the world. Never had I seen a town lit up like that. Of
course, I had never seen many towns at that time. Even though I don't remember
the trip home, we made it, because here I am ninety-four years later and I'm in
Ours was a unique organ, being the size of a piano with a keyboard the same
length. The organs at that time had a single keyboard, some five and some six
octaves long. No double keyboards like we have today and piano music could not
always be played on them. But with the extension of the keys, anything you
played on a piano, could also be played on this organ. It was made by George
My Dad bought it from a Mr. Waldorf in Hastings. A few years ago, driving down
main street, I saw the name Waldorf on a store window. Don't know if they sold
musical instruments or not. Just looking at the organ you would call it a piano,
but it didn't play unless you pumped the pedals. In fact it was called a "Piano-
Cased Organ". The only one I ever saw. My Dad didn't care for piano music but
loved the melodious sounds of the organ.
Learn To Play!!
My father's oldest brother, Dell, came to Michigan around this time, making his
home with us. He was a carpenter and built a number of houses in our community.
He also played the Violin and taught me how to read music, how to count, and
with his help I was soon able to play the hymns in our church hymnal. Also
showed me the different chords and later on I was able to accompany him on his
violin. This accomplishment certainly helped me in lateryears when Ray and I were
married. Ray could also play the violin, but unlike Uncle Dell, he played entirely by
ear. His Dad (Grandpa Ped) was also a violinist, as was his brother John, but both
of them had taken lessons to learn.
Grandpa Ped was also a Thresher. Had a steam-engine with a separator that
was used at that time to take care of farmer's grain. No combines then. He would
take his outfit into a certain community and would stay at the farmers homes
over night. Usually he would be gone from home a week at a time. Before he left,
the violin was locked in his secretary for safe keeping. Ray's mother used to let
Ray get it out and he learned to play songs by listening to her singing. The dance
music, jigs, etc., he heard from his Dad and brother John. So that's the way he
learned to play. I always said I thought that was real talent. His mother used to say
that his Dad didn't really lock the violin up from Ray. It was to safeguard the
instrument from the five younger girls. (Enough said about that)
Anyway, Ray and I spent a good many happy hours playing together. I liked to
play chords to his dance music better than when I played the songs. Tunes like
Turkey-In-The Straw, The Devil's Dreams, etc. Tunes you never heard and
probably are happy to think you didn't have to listen to, but we liked them.
At that time, every ten cent store (like Woolworth's, etc) had a section for music,
with a piano and a clerk to play the music for you. Ray used to like to go in,
choose a new song, have it played for him and if he liked it, buy it. Then bringing
it home to me and say, "play it". Well, I really was no Liberace. Sometimes I could
and other times I had to practice a few times, but he could pick up his violin and
play it for me.
We both liked popular music and he would follow my tunes, never making a
mistake. Excepting one, I can’t remember the name of the song, but there was one
place you had] to hold a certain note and I tried to explain his mistake but, lo and
behold, he said it was my mistake not his, so I had to play it his way. Tried to avoid
that song when we were playing for company. Informed me he guessed he knew
how it sounded and I did it wrong. So from that time on continued to “do it wrong”.
Really, you must keep your man happy.
John took his lessons from Roy Freemire, who was quite a musician. He ran a
steam engine with a threshing crew and could play tunes with the steam whistle.
When he arrived at the scene of his job, he would play Listen To The Mocking
Bird as he drove the big, powerful engine in your yard.
Roy's sister, Nettie. played the Banjo and one winter the two of them, John
Welch with his violin and Ray playing chords on the piano, sometimes provided
the music for dancing at the hall in Shay town (that old building is still there).
Remember once, Ray wanted to dance, so he asked me to take his place. Did I
ever have fun and was sorry when he came back and I had to quit! Been to so
many dances and community get to-gethers in that old building. Such nice times!
Dumb animals, people sometimes say, but to me they certainly
are not dumb. To us, horses were a part of the family, doing their work in the fields,
taking us wherever we needed or wanted to go, then feeding, watering, curry, and
brushing. Fixing their stalls with nice, clean straw to sleep on was like putting your
children in bed at night.
We had a pretty, dappled grey horse, named Bess and my father sold her. I was
heartbroken and cried so hard when they tied her behind this man's buggy and
he drove down the road taking her home. The man had been our closest
neighbor, living across the road from us when we lived on the Wellman farm
where I was born. Mr. Black was his name. He would be great grandfather to the
Blacks over by Saubee Lake. A little over a year after he bought Bess, Mr. and Mrs.
Black came visiting one Sunday. They drove Bess. I remember when they
unhitched her from the buggy my dad said, "Let's turn her loose and see what she
does. Her stall is empty." Bess turned and trotted down the hill to the barn, going
through the door and right down to her old place. After being gone for over a year,
she remembered her old home.
Then there was Frank, the unpredictable horse. You never knew what to expect
from him. The folks had raised him from a little colt and kept him until he died. My
mother told me this story. She was watching out the window once when Arby had
led Frank out to the horse tank. After drinking his fill of water, Frank leaned over
Arby, grabbing him by the back of his coat, picked Arby up and swung him back
and forth over the horse tank of water. Ma thought he was going to drop him in but
instead he just stood him up on the ground and Arby led him back to the barn.
This one, I witnessed! Sylvia was in Frank's stall putting the harness on him,
needing him to take her to Vermontville. Sylvia had beautiful brown hair, so long
and so much of it.
At this particular time, the fashion was a "Jug Handle"
hair do. You combed the hair straight back then up in the back and gathered it all
together, twisting into a long coil. You fastened it securely to the center of the back,
then looping it around your hand, fastened it again. The remaining end you twisted
around the base of loop. Anyway you could see right through it and it did look like
a handle on a jug. Well, maybe, old Frank didn't like it because when Sylvia tried to
slip his bridle on, he reached down and grabbed her hair by that handle sticking
up on top of her head. He started pulling and Sylvia started yelling and slapping
his face. He wouldn't let loose, so she rammed her fingers into the corner of his
mouth and started pulling back on them. He had to open up! That was the trick you
used when a horse fought having the bit put into his mouth. Needless to say Sylvia
had to re-do her hair before she went to Vermontville.
If the old "booger" was out in the pasture and you wanted to catch him all you
needed to do was whistle and he'd come trotting towards you. But, if you had a
rope in your hand to lead him back to the barn, he'd wheel and trot right away. So
unless you just wanted to pet him, you'd hide that rope or you'd be in trouble.
On Saturday night, Arby drove Frank to Vermontville. It was spring of the year
and the Scipio Creek had overflowed its banks. The water flowed across the road,
covering the wooden bridge completely. It wasn't too deep so old Frank went right
on across. By the time they came back here on their way home, it was pitch dark
and water steadily rising. Frank started through and suddenly he stopped and
refused to go on. Arby talked to him and finally gave him a few good licks with the
whip and the horse still would not budge. So, Arby got out of the buggy to find the
trouble. Wading the water until he reached Frank's head, he saw boards had
broken loose from the bridge and were drifting along in the current. Arby had to
turn around and take another route home. Dumb animal, huh?
Another horse, we called Maude, was a very high spirited animal and could she
travel. Built like a race horse, she certainly could cover the miles in record time.
Arby's pride and joy. Boys were boys back in the days when my brother was
growing up, they loved speed just like they do now. Driving along the road,
coming up to a rig in front of you, sometimes you wanted to go a little faster or
maybe you didn't like the dust in your face, so you'd pullout and drive around.
Simple? A natural thing to do unless you were a teenager and the guy you were
pulling out around was another. In that case, if you had any kind of a horse at all,
a race was on. Well, what else was there to do? Road ahead, (although it was
narrow) buggies even, horses heads side by side, so let's go. Sometimes the
wheels on the buggies would come together and lock. An accident, and the fun
was over. Maybe no-one was hurt but you had smashed your Dad's buggy, so
the truth came out - you were racing - and Ma had heard of a few of these, though
it didn't happen very often. Most times the boys just had fun. In fact I can't
remember of anyone in our neighborhood who had ever done this. Evidently Ma
had for she always would tell Arby when he would be leaving on a date, "Don't you
be racing tonight". Arby would say, "I never race Maude, I just won't let anyone go
Remember this one time, we were at something going on at the Bismark Church.
Arby had taken his current girl friend, driving Maude on a single buggy. It was
summer time and after the meeting ladies and children all gathered on the front
steps to wait for men-folks to bring the rigs around to take them home. Arby drove
up in his turn, his girl friend left the steps and went down to the buggy. Just as
Arby took her arm to help her up, Maude reared up on her hind legs and began
prancing back and forth. Arby would talk to her and just as quickly as she reared,
she came back down on all four legs, standing as meekly as a lamb. Arby would
try again to help his girl in the buggy, then Maude would rear again. After a few
minutes of this performance, Arby would succeed and climb in the buggy too,
driving off so nicely. I heard a woman say, "No girl of mine would ever get into
Arby Lovell's buggy with that horse hitched to it. She's going to kill somebody
sometime." What the people didn't know was that Arby had
taught poor Maude this trick. Did it with a certain pull on the lines, then another
when he wanted her to stop. Maude was gentle as she could be. Arby, the big
Once after Arby was married and gone from home, Ma and Sylvia went into
Vermontville driving Maude. As they were driving down main street, Maude
walking along with her head down, Arby who was in town, saw them. He shouted,
"Maude". Up came her head and she started down main street at a very fast pace.
Sylvia had a little trouble quieting her down and stopping. It was just Arby with his
tricks who made her so high strung. He loved his horses and often said tractors
took all the fun out of farming. Said it was a lonesome job with no horses to talk to.
The horses understood him but the tractors didn't.
In 1906, after Ray's dad
(Grandpa Ped) had his leg cut off in a sawmill accident (I will tell of this later), they
rented their farm and bought a home here in Sunfield. Northwest corner of
Washington and Third Street, with a small barn for horses at the north side of the
house. This barn is still there.
Prior to this time Ray had always used one of the farm workhorses as a buggy
horse and was just a bit embarrassed over it. Most of the other boys drove nice
little buggy horses, so now, they had sold the others, he bought this pretty little
dark bay with a black mane and tail. He called her "Little Fly", and when he
hitched her to his rubber-tired, brand new buggy, the other boys rigs were
nothing compared to his.
One Sunday he came to see me over on Ionia Road, seven miles from Sunfield.
That night leaving for home, he followed his usual routine. Wrapping the lines
around the whip socket securely, making himself comfortable with his: head on
the back of the seat, saying "Home, little Fly", Ray drifted off to dreamland and
Fly took him home and he woke up when she stopped at the barn door. Getting
out of the buggy, releasing Fly from the thills, following her into the barn, removing
her harness, hanging it on the wall, giving her a basin of grain to eat, fixing the
straw for her bed, Ray then went in the house, at home safely. He didn't look at the
time, just crawled in bed to finish his nights rest.
Next morning, Ray went to the barn to take care of the morning chores and
noticed a whole mess of buggy tracks in the drive-way made by his own buggy.
The rubber tire,tracks were different from others made by steel tires. All dirt roads,
no cement at that time anywhere, so the print of the tires could be plainly seen.
Looking closely, Ray saw where the buggy had been turned around and gone
south down the road. He hitched Fly up and started retracing the marks. They
led him to Uncle Bid Bishop's farm on St. Joe Highway, now it's called, about four
miles from town. There he found the buggy had been turned around and returned
to the little barn in town. This is what had happened while Ray was asleep. He
had been working for Uncle Bid the week before and had stayed overnight there
all that week. Little Fly had first taken him to Sunfield and when he didn't get out
and put her in the barn there, she decided must be Uncle Bid's was the place. Ray
could see where she had stood and pawed the ground there but he still didn't
wake up, so Fly returned to town. This time when she stopped he woke up, never
knowing all these other places he had been. Seven miles from my home but he had
rode about fifteen. Can't remember if Ray ever went to sleep on his trips home
again or not. It certainly would not be my way. I like to ride, but I want to know
where I'm going and where I've been. Well, I think I have proven my point. Horses
are not dumb.
P.J. was just here and I told him the story of Little Fly. He said, "What about
Dan Patch"? Leon Gilson (Dad's cousin) had told him of this horse, so I guess I
better tell it. This horse was a tall, ungainly looking horse, a pacer, and could really
cover the roads. Looks he didn't have. At that time, there was a racing horse
named Dan Patch that had a world's record of being the fastest pacer. One
Sunday, Ray was at our house. We were waiting for Grace's date to come and Ray
suggested we drive down the road towards Ralph's house and meet him. Ralph
Wetherbee was his name. He lived only a little over two miles from us on the
Townline Road, now called Kelley Highway. We drove to the first corner south of
us (Rawson's Corner's) then turned east. A short distance down the long ago, but
several lilac bushes were still living around it and they were in full bloom. Grace
asked Ray to stop and go cut us a bouquet. Of course, he had his trusty knife in
his pocket, so he hopped out of the buggy and over the fence and brought a
bouquet to each of us. By that time Ralph was there. He was driving such a pretty
horse and of course his buggy was bright and shiny. No rubber tires but it was a
pretty sight. Of course Ray's buggy was shining too. Boys always washed and
polished their buggies like they do their cars now. Ralph also had his Kodak along
and had Aunt Grace get in his buggy so he could take a picture. Pretty horse,
pretty buggy, pretty girl with her bouquet of lilacs. Then Ralph wanted to take
Ray's and my picture. Ray said, "You can take Myrtie and I in my buggy but don't
include Dan Patch". Want to see the picture? P.J. has it at the store. There is a little
of Dan Patch in the picture but not much. Don't remember exactly but I think your
Dad traded him for his pretty horse, Little Fly. Not even up, I'm sure.
Hope I can make it clear to you folks, who have never rode behind a horse, the
difference it makes between a trotting horse or a pacer. A trotter will bob his body
up and down while a pacer shows practically no movement at all. The slight, side
wise back and forth movement of his head, in perfect rhythm with the beat of his
hooves on the ground, no rippling muscles in his body, just a smooth, swift,
floating feeling. Quiet and restful and no noise from Ray's rubber tired buggy
wheels. One step of Dan Patch would cover as much ground as two or three of a
trotter. His gait was what I call poetry in motion.
Cream Colored Maude
This was a small buggy horse Grandma Lovell bought a year or so
before I was married. In, fact, when we moved to Sunfield in September, 1910, we
brought her along. Lots of people at that time kept horses in town. Not too many
had automobiles and one had to have transportation. Maude was the laziest,
slowest horse I ever had anything to do with. Her walk was a snail's pace and her
trot not much faster than a dog. Of course, this just suited my mother who was
frightened of a horse with any life in it.
Must have been July 4th, 1907. Ma, Pearl, Grace, and I went to the celebration in
Lake Odessa. We stayed a bit too long and darkness caught us before we reached
home. Grace was driving and Ma was scared to have her trot the horse much
because of the dark. All at once Ma said, "Grace, Maude is staggering, she must
be sick". Grace said, "Sick nothing. She is going to sleep, but I'll bet she'll wake
up." Then Grace grabbed the whip from the socket, giving her a couple of belts
with that, she went trotting down the road. Grace told Ma, she could see to drive
and if Ma expected us to get home before morning, we'd have to move along fast
enough to at least keep old Maude awake.
Another time, Ma, Grace, Pearl, and I were headed for Sylvia and Johnnie's to
spend the day. Grace was driving as usual, when down the road, coming toward
us was a threshers outfit. Big steam engine, puffing along, huge separator, team
of horses pulling the water wagon. Quite a parade headed our way. Of course Ma
was frightened, road very narrow and a ditch on our right. It was just common
courtesy for the engineer to stop his big engine, get off to ask if we would like him
to lead our horse past. (They always did that if they met a woman driver. Women
were not supposed to know enough to handle a horse). So, the gentleman asked
and Grace said, "NO, I can handle it, our horse is not afraid". But my mother said,
"Yes, please". So the man took hold of the horses bridle and led us past. The
horse? It never gave a second glance at the big, noisy thing with its string of scary
looking tools following along. Grace? Her pride was showing and she was really
upset with her mother. Ma heaved a big sigh of relief and thanked the man kindly.
Pearl and I? We were just the two little guys who weren't expected to have an
opinion for or against. You might have had one but you didn't express it to your
elders. Those were the days when children were seen but not heard. Have
patience, just this one more horse story and I'll Unhitch them and call it a day.
Where we lived in Vermontville on East Main Street, there was no barn, so we
couldn't keep a horse. There was a livery stable where you could rent them so
when we wanted to go anywhere that's what Ma did. Mr. Kelley had lots of nice
horses and then one old one that nobody but my mother would ever rent unless
all others were out. That horse was the one for her, It had an ailment called the
string-halts. He would be moving right along, when all of a sudden his right hind
leg would begin to jerk and up it would come, sometimes almost hitting his
stomach. It was funny and like somebody had a string on his hoof and would
jerk his leg up and underneath it's body. Suppose that was why it was called the
string-halts. (Good deal like the seizures I had, after falling down the back porch).
It never stopped the horse whether he was walking or trotting. Just kept on doing
his thing. Was always glad the kick went towards his body and not back at the
Uncle John was ashamed of us when we would drive into his yard. He told Aunt
Sylvia he was always glad to see us but he wished Ma would rent another horse.
Johnnie always drove such nice ones.
Now, I'll unhitch my horse from the buggy, turn him loose, he will trot to the
water tank for a drink, then I'll follow him into his stall, remove the harness, hang
it on the wall back of him, put on the halter, fasten the rope to the manger, go
upstairs in the barn and put hay down the chute to his manger, give him a pan of
grain, clean the stall out, placing new, fresh straw in for his bed and give him a big
pat for a thank you and let him rest. Or I might just remove his harness and turn
him outside the barn and watch him trot out to the pasture to graze. Maybe he'll
frolic around a little or lie down and rollover to shake the feel of the harness from
his body and scratch his back on the grass.
Below is a picture Ray saved years ago. A fitting end for my story I think.
Our Wood House
This was no shed with a slanting roof, but a rectangular
building with gable ends just like a house, making it much roomier inside than a
shed. Situated about twenty five feet from the back door, parallel with the house, it
was used for many things besides just a place to store wood when Old Man Winter
came roaring in, baring his teeth and shaking white stuff all over the ground, he
didn't frighten us any. My Dad had plenty of good dry wood cut in our own woods,
to keep us warm all winter. Chunks for the heating stove, slabs all split to fit the
cook stove, piled neatly in huge ranks across one end. Chunks in one place, split
wood in another ready and waiting to be carried inside to keep us warm and to
cook our food. Come on Old Man, using our iron pokers to stir the fires and keep
them blazing, we'll fight you 'til spring. No one really wins. Mother Nature just
sends winter away to some other parts of the world, only to send him back to us
another year. We're ready for him again, though. My Dad and Arby always cut our
wood for the following year in the current winter, pile it in the wood shed to dry
out and be ready for use. That really kept the woods in a nice clean condition.
Sawing up the fallen trees, burning the brush after the good wood was cut out,
sometimes sawing down a tree that looked like a storm might blow it over, kept
the woods clean and made it easy to drive around in at sugar making time.
Now, I'm not getting into the sugar making business. If you want to know all
about that just go to Merle Martins, Gearharts, Zemke's or someplace and get your
information there. Really I should tell you the primitive way of making sugar. You
can't feature from the old way of doing it. Such a wonderful change and so much
easier. I'm still not going to tell you on paper. If you really want to know how it was,
ask me and I'll tell. Don't think I'm ever going to live long enough to finish this
anyway. Wish I could type.
Wood was not the only thing Pa and Arby cut in the winter. They also cut ice.
Wood and ice were two items I forgot to add to the list of things when I wrote about
our living. When the water in the lakes froze into ice at least twelve inches or more,
the men folk hitched a team to the sleighs, driving out towards the center of the
lake, cut uniform blocks of ice. Bringing it home, they would stack it up, with plenty
of sawdust between and around the blocks for insulation. They would put it in the
north end of our wood house for summer use. Ice cream, iced tea, lemonade, and
oh so many things to use ice for.
Home made ice cream was such a treat on a hot Sunday afternoon. Arby would
take the ice-tongs and remove a block of ice from the top of the pile, being very
careful not to take the sawdust away from the next block. If you let air get in
through the sawdust, the ice would melt. Tamping the sawdust back in place, the
next step was placing the ice in a gunny sack, pounding it with the broad side of
an axe, getting the pieces small enough to pack around the container. While Arby
was getting things going outside, Mae, Sylvia, Grace were busy in the kitchen,
stirring up the ingredience for the cream itself. The freezer was a little like a pail,
only it was made of wooden slats fastened together like the staves in a barrel. The
bottom had a depression in the center, in which the ice cream can fitted. Next the
metal can was filled with the cream mixture, just 3/4 full (had to allow space for
expansion) then the dasher was carefully inserted. This had paddles on the sides
that whipped the cream, while they turned round and round scraping the sides.
The cover was then put on. It fitted down tightly over the outside like a cap. The
dasher had a slight extension which came through the cover, then fitted into gears
in the center of the hook like thing that hooked down over the can and onto the
sides of the pail. In the center of this contraption were gears to turn the can. After
this was done you screwed on the handle, packed the space between can and the
pail with ice and salt added to make a brine. Ice alone would not freeze, so you
added salt. Then you started turning, as soon as you could feel it getting a bit thick,
you'd always take the cover off, just to have a taste to see if it was ok. You also
checked to see if you needed to add more flavoring. Be very careful, now,
because even a drop of brine off the cover into the cream and the stuff would not
freeze. You turned and you cranked until you couldn't make the dasher move. It
was ready. Opening the cover, you removed the dasher. A lot of cream came out
with the paddles and everyone got a lick at that with a spoon. Yummie, yummie.
Lots of work, but what fun' I worked in a restaurant in Vermontville one summer.
I think I was fourteen that year. Mr. Downing, the proprietor made his own ice
cream. When he'd remove the dashers he'd call to me, "Frisky, come lick the
greaser". Never had to call twice. Frisky was Mr. Downing's nickname for me.
There was a lot of licking to do because he used five gallon or maybe they were
ten gallon freezers. I don't know. Must have been a big job for him to do all alone.
We served a lot of ice cream. It was just delicious. He made several kinds, but he
would never give anyone his recipes.
That was an interesting summer for me and they were interesting people, in their
sixties. Told me so much about their past lives. Brother and sister and twins at that.
John and Jennie were their names. Mr. Downing was married but his wife never
worked in the restaurant. They lived just a couple of doors west of us on East
Main Street. One or the other would always walk on home with me when we came
home late. Miss Jennie (as everyone called her) had never been married. She was
engaged when she was young
to a boy who was killed in the Civil War. She still wore his ring on the first finger of
her left hand as was the custom in the days of her youth. Often, she'd want to
bring me a special book, or some music and she'd always move her ring to her
third finger, saying then she would remember because it felt peculiar there.
Goodness sakes, I was telling you about the many uses of our wood-house and
now I'm fourteen years old, working for my nice friends in Vermontville. (Received
$2.00 per week). Not only have I gone clear around Robinhood's Barn but
everyone's in the neighborhood and it's four and one-fourth miles to Vermontville.
Anyway it popped into my mind, and now it's on paper. I'll get back home again,
my mother might want an armful of wood.
STILL IN THE WOOD HOUSE
Back in Ohio, nearly everyone had a small house in their back yard.
It was called a summer house, used for cooking your meals outside to avoid
building a fire inside and heating your house up in hot weather. My Dad laid a floor
in the center of our wood house, installed a cook stove and my mother had her
summer house. Ma would cook our meals, carry the prepared food across the
strip of lawn, up four steps, across the back porch then the big living room to the
front porch. No problem!! She had a nice cool, place for her men folks, tired from
their work in the fields, to relax and rest. Of course the older ones helped her.
The porch was the type recessed into the house with just one side open. Ours
was about 21 feet long, really just a continuation of the living room, probably 10
feet wide, a door (west side) right in the center out of the living room. A door at the
south opened into the parlor, one, opening into a bedroom on the north end. The
east side was the one exposed to the outdoors, door in center and entrance steps
outside. This opening was covered with screen. Being closed in on three sides,
we used it from early spring until late fall. The table was at the north end and the
south half was furnished with a small stand for your oil lamp at night, a rocker or
two. Just a nice cozy little corner in my world. Such a lovely place to eat too.
Always proud to have company. Weren't many people who had a dining room like
Here's one meal I'll never forget. Back in those days it was customary for your
school teachers to visit the parents of their pupils. An unmarried one would quite
often come for supper and spend the night, so staying for breakfast too. Married
ones came bringing their wives and children. Never knew ahead of time when
they were going to appear.
This time our teacher, Harry Bedford, his wife, and their son appeared at our
house just as we were sitting down for our noon meal. Pushing our chairs closer
together, Ma made room for three more people, hoping she had enough food for
all. Well, she did, with the exception of one dish. Kentucky Wonder green beans.
At their best, I think, when old enough for the beans pop out of the pods and the
pods are still tender enough to eat. Ma always cooked them with a piece of meat,
my favorite dish. Also it turned out to be a favorite with young Merel Bedford,
probably five or six years old at the time. His father was a strict school teacher
but he had no control over his own kid, who liked favorite dish so well he wouldn't
eat another thing his mother put on his plate. All at once the beans were gone and
my mother had no more in the kitchen either. Merle was so mad he threw a tantrum,
looked up at Ma and said, "You didn't cook enough, you better
get up and cook me some more." Well, I hadn't had enough either but I would
have if Bedford's hadn't appearedon the scene.
Just got to add this. Mr. Bedford had a violent temper and he believed in
"laying hands" or anything else handy on his students. Saw him get mad once
and hit a boy, almost as big as he was, over the head with a slate, breaking the
slate in a hundred pieces, leaving the frame dangling around the students neck.
The boy sat just across the aisle from me. Another time, I whispered in school to
the girl in the seat in front of me. Mr. Bedford saw me, I was ordered up front to
stand and face the rest of the students. Well, I never had been ordered up
front before and I wasn't about to go then, but I did! He came back to my seat,
tried to pull me out but I had wound leg around the underside of my desk and I
refused. He didn't just pull, he then yanked me out. Don't remember how but
know I must have stood on the floor. Do remember I scraped the hide all off my
leg. Now, a teacher who did the things Mr. Bedford did would lose his job.
Although I know, now, that my folks didn't like it, I was told, "You shouldn't have
been whispering, you should always do as you are told. If you hadn't hooked your
leg around the desk, you wouldn't have scraped it etc. etc.". I didn't get much
Just a couple of other experiences I had on the front porch, then I'll go out the
back door and start all over on the uses of our wood house. `My Dad was waiting
on the front steps of the porch for some guy who was coming to see him. The
man was training a colt to drive on the road. Had him hitched to a cart. When
training a horse to pull a vehicle, you'd first drive them around the barn, back the
lane, anywhere they were familiar with. Next step was out on the road. My Dad saw
this man coming down the steep hill south of us, when all at once something
frightened the colt, starting him into a run. The man lost control. The horse
slackened his speed a little coming up the steep hill to our place. My Dad ran to
the road, as the horse turned into our drive way, he grabbed him by the bridle strap
down close to the bit. Hanging on tightly, his weight pulling on the bit soon
slowed the horse down. He stopped about a hundred feet or so from the drive way.
But, the sudden stop made my Dad lose his hold on the bridle, falling to the
ground, landing on his side, breaking his left arm between the elbow and wrist.
Next thing I remember was sitting on the front porch, looking through the south
door into the parlor. Pa was lying on the couch so white and still. Ma and Mae had
him propped up with pillows, putting cold cloths on his forehead to keep him from
fainting, and waiting for the Doctor to come. No telephones. Doctor was four and
one-fourth miles away. Don't remember how they managed to call him but have an
idea Arby probably rode his horse into town. Doctor would then have to drive his
horses out, so more time consumed.
I remember when he arrived, he examined his arm saying it was broken. Then,
saying I'll have to have help from one of you. Ma said, "I can't", and walked away
crying. Mae said, "I'll help you" Doctor says, "You'll have to hold him while I pull
the bones back together, but first I'll give you some morphine, Dan, to lessen the
pain". Dan replied, "I don't want it, you just go ahead and do whatever you have
to, I'll make it". So the Doctor pulled and Mae held on. I still remember the grating
sound of those bones going back in place.
Writing this has made the whole episode come back to me so vividly. The horse,
running at full speed down one hill, then up the next, turning into our driveway. My
Dad grabbing the bit, dangling from the horses head, his feet just touching the
ground once in a while, then being thrown almost under the horses's feet. His
lying on the couch, waiting for the doctor and all the rest. If I live to be 100 (and I
might just do that, just to be ornery), I'll never forget this day. Did I say it was a
long time ago? Today it seems like the event was just yesterday!
This happened sometime between 1905 and 1909. I know because Sylvia
was married in 1905 and Grace in 1909. At this time Ma, Grace, Pearl, and I were
the only ones left at home. I would have been any age between fifteen and
nineteen. Wheat and oat threshing time, Ma hired this man who brought his own
crew with him. That made it easier for Ma, she didn't have to scour the
neighborhood for help. There was always three men who came with the threshers
rig, the engineer, separator man and water wagon guy. One night, it was almost
dark, here came the whole kit and Kaboodle. Engine, separator, water wagon, and
a truck full of men to stay overnight. They had finished their job that day with just
time enough to move to our place before dark. They would be able to get to work
earlier the next morning so all we had to do was find a place for them to sleep.
Well, I don't know exactly how many there were but we had three beds upstairs,
one downstairs in the spare bedroom. These were all filled with one man left over.
Ma fixed him a place on the couch in the parlor. Grace slept on the lounge in the
sitting room. Ma's bedroom was at the north end of the porch. Pearl always slept
with her. There I was, no place to lay my lousy head as Aunt Diana Pickens would
say. Ma said I'd have to sleep with her and Pearl. I refused to sleep three in a bed
on a hot night like that. We had a hammock on the south end of the porch and I
decided to sleep in that. My mother argued it would be very uncomfortable, also I
might fallout. Of course, you know me, I argued right back that I had taken naps in
the hammock lots of time, enjoyed it, didn’t fallout either. I won and we finally all
were bedded down for the night. Well, that was the longest night of my whole life
and there's been quite a few of them. I slept for a little while, my feet as high as my
head, the rest of me doubled up in between. The hammock was pricky, I wanted to
turn over but couldn't, had to lay on my back. Every bone in my body ached, knew
I should have listened to my mother. She told me to make a bed on the floor. I
couldn't even get up and fix me one in the night. No place to go for a quilt, floor
was bare, not even a rug to crawl out on. So, I just laid there and suffered it out
until morning. The porch faced the east and I sure saw the first crack of dawn
next morning. Then, my mother said I tried to tell you, but that didn't help either
because it proved that Mothers always know best. At least mine did, I was not
always sure that I did after I became a mother.
Lots of places the men on the threshing crew were told to sleep in the barn. Not
my mother, who said hard working men needed a good nights rest in a nice clean
bed. When I was trying to sleep in that hammock, I thought I almost would rather
sleep in a hay mow myself as to ever try that again.
Back to the wood house, I go. It's Sunday night, copper wash boiler must be
placed on the stove, nice soft rain water carried from the cistern pump in the
kitchen to fill it, wood laid in the stove to be touched off in the morning,
everything in readiness for Monday's washing. Can you imagine the pile of
clothes? Eight people could soil a lot of clothes, not to mention sheets, pillow
cases, towels, etc. All these to be rubbed by hand on a wash board. Home-made
soap, wasn't much like our detergents today.
My mother used to wash outside on the grass. Much cooler and pleasanter but
still hard work. Took pails and pails of water . After scrubbing them clean
(you hoped) the clothes were next placed in the boiler and boiled. You then them
out of this hot water with a stick, putting into a pail, then emptied them into the
tubs filled with clean cold water. You sozzled them up and down, round and about
to rid them of the soap suds. Then you wrang them out by hand. Then you put
them into the second tub of water and proceeded to repeat the process.
Now, you were ready to hang them on the line, proud, they looked so white and
pretty. Sometimes if a towelor tablecloth had a slight stain, you'd spread it on the
grass in the brightsunshine, quite often the stain would disappear. Think you're
through? Oh no. Look back there on the floor, all the colored clothes are yet to be
washed. Quite often the first rinse water would still be warm, also a little soapy,
we would use that for the colored clothes. Putting the scrub board into this tub,
spreading the clothes on it, we'd rub the worst spots with the cake of soap,
then rolling it up and placing the rolls in theback of the tub, letting them soak a bit,
made the dirt come out easier.
Ma would call out, "One of you girls make some starch!" There would be aprons,
dresses, shirts, waists (you call them blouses now, ones then a frilly, one was a
waist, tailored ones shirt waists) under skirts or petticoats (your name slips). All
these had to be put through the starch water before hanging to dry. I, at least can
appreciate the modern day fabrics. I remember the first step to easier wash days
was a portable wringer, which clamped on the edge of your tub. This made it
much easier than wringing your clothes by hand, even though you had to turn a
crank. Most of the mountain of clothes had to be ironed next day.
Sometimes, we put the sheets back on the beds, but if you were putting them in
the drawers, they, too were ironed. The first irons that I not sad of course but you
were, having to use them. Molded into a form, handle included, the handle was
just as hot as the bottom of your iron. Had to use a pot holder to cover the handle.
We had three irons, heated over a roaring fire in the cook stove or range. You'd
test the temperature of your iron by picking it up by the handle, tipping it up,
wetting your finger in your mouth, quickly touching the bottom with your wet
finger, if you heard a sissing noise the temperature was o.k. and you could start
ironing. Using one iron until it began to cool, you placed it back on the irons wil
l stay hot.
Once, I remember I was ironing Sylvia's petticoat. It was long, (she wore her
dresses ankle length) with a full twelve inch ruffle around the bottom. Starched
quite stiffly to make her skirts stand out. I was getting tired of it, so, I decided the
top part didn't show so why iron it. Folding it carefully, so just the pretty starched
ruffle was outside, I laid it on the table. Sylvia was putting clothes away and she
discovered my little trick. She said, "Myrtie, you didn't iron the top of my skirt". I
quickly informed her of my reason, her answer was she'd know it wasn't ironed.
Handing it back to me she said, "Finish this" and I quickly obeyed. Never could
get away with anything. Older Sisters also knew
Now, this is one ironing chore I brought upon myself. Probably I was fourteen
or fifteen years old at the time and I wanted a white skirt. Choosing white Indian
Head material,having no pattern, I decided to box pleat the material onto a belt.
Sounds simple? That's what I thought too. It was much easier said than done.
Those boxpleats had to be pinned in from top to bottom, not only when I sewed
it but also at ironing time. Again Ma and Grace tried to tell me that I'd be sorry and
not to expect them to do it. It was my skirt. The ironing took me an hour, but was
thankful I didn't have to use the old iron hot handle. A few years back someone
had manufactured a flat iron with a removable wooden handle. From the Sad iron
to Electric Steam irons, I have used them all. Now, they have become almost
unnecessary because of the new fabrics, no ironing. That's the kind of material I
should have had to make that skirt.
Wood House Again
Just have to return to this house long enough to tell you this. It also doubled as
a bath house. Water carried out from the cistern pump in the kitchen, boiler filled,
fire in stove lit to heat the water to nearly boiling. A dipper or two of boiling water
would be enough to warm the wash tub of cold water already in the tub for a
person to step into. Don't remember whether the older ones took their baths out
there or not, but I suppose they did, too, in the summer time. This one time is the
only one I remember. Ma always gave her two little girls (Pearl and I their baths at
the same time. Often she had us all scrubbed Imean scrubbed), we would step
out of the wash tub to be dried. This time she said, "I wish you little girls
would get some meat on your bones. You are so poor you look like a couple of
little starving Cubans." It was during the Spanish American War and papers
were full of pictures of the children who were starving to death. I presume this
remark of hers is the reason for me remembering this.
The contents of the old Wood-House was never the same after my father died.
Of course, Ma used it for cooking our meals, laundry work etc., but never again did
we have it full of wood, all split and piled ready for the summer, no chunks all
trimmed so they would fit in the heating stove to keep us warm in winter.
Ma would have to hire the wood cut and the persons who cut it for her, didn't
bother to lop off a piece so it would go into the stove. Many times we would bring
a chunk in, only to find it too big for the door. You'd twist it this way and that before
Once, I found just that chunk. As you know I never did give up easily so I
managed to get one end of this nice big hunk in, tried to flip the rest over, but it
caught in the door. Just about 1/8 inch too big for the opening. I pushed and
shoved and with every movement I made, the wood just fastened itself tighter. I
finally had to admit it couldn't be done, so I tried to pull the thing back out and for
a few minutes, I was thinking that couldn't be done either. Using the poker as a
lever, I finally pried it loose and out the thing came. My troubles were over, I
thought, but no there's more to come. I had played with the thing so long and
didn't think of what was happening to the end I had in the stove. There was plenty
going on, The thing had been so close to the coals for so long that it caught fire.
There I was with a chunk of wood, most too big for me to carry in the first place,
holding onto one end with the opposite end flaming. Don't exactly remember how
I managed, but I took it to the back door and heaved it out into a snow bank.
Can't remember but I must have been alone in the house or Ma and the others
would have interfered and made me stop by telling it could not be done. My old
English teacher used to tell us that anything could be done if one had the
"stick-to-it-tiveness" to stay with it and try. Well, I had that character all right but
so did that stick of wood.
I was quite a large girl when this event took place. Could have been after they
were all gone but Ma, Pearl, and I. Probably I was supposed to fill the wood box
for the night while Ma and Pearl were doing the barn chores. Nothing like taking
"that extra step" and get a nice BIG chunk in the stove to burn all evening. Even
back in my younger days I always wanted to "take that extra step for mankind"
but so many times my steps went in the wrong direction. Oh well, I always tried.
We made them. Sewing carpet rags. That was my first introduction to the use of
a needle and thread. Learning how to thread the needle and then making the knot
in the end of your thread. That was a real accomplishment for a girl. First, though,
all the discarded cotton clothes had to be torn into uniform widths. My mother
would take a shirt for instance, cut off the belt, also seams, rip out the hem, then
along the top take the shears, clipping 3/4 inch widths down about an inch. Now,
you could take it and tear the rags on down. I enjoyed the noise they made, it also
helped me work off some of the energy I never seemed to run out of.The light
colored rags, old sheets, and pillow cases, Ma dyed them black, blue, red, yellow,
and brown. We would mix these bright colors in with the others or sometimes sew
each color by itself. Then the weaver would arrange them together to make about
a six inch strip in your carpet at regular intervals. This cost more to have woven
than the regular hit and miss type. Was a little difficult too, in sewing your strips of
The strips were about 30 inches wide and made the length of your room, but you
had to sew them by hand. When you had the stripes woven in, they had to be
exactly matched. It was quite a job. Only remember of one of Ma's that way, it was
for the parlor. We thought it was beautiful and it really was.
Most young girls thought it was a punishment to sew carpet rags, but I loved it.
Sometimes I liked to go with my mother to a rag sewing bee held for some person
who had a large family and not much time to sew up her rags for a carpet. The
ladies in the neighborhood would come to this house, in the morning, bringing
needles, thread, thimbles, and scissors along with a pot luck dinner. By night time
they had enough rags sewed to make her carpet. Used to know how many pounds
of rags it took for a yard of carpet, but I’ve forgotten. I always felt so grown up
when I'd sit down with my lap full of rags, threading my own needle, sewing the
strips together, then rolling them up in a neat little ball, placing it in the basket just
like the grown-up ladies. It was no small deal to make a carpet. Lots of folks would
have only one in their living room, other rooms none, leaving the floors
In the early 1900,. .a carpet called Ingrain came on the market. It was woven of
wool, and had designs in it. Big red roses, sometimes pretty colored leaves. Such
a change from the rag carpets but so expensive, very few people could afford them.
My next sewing lesson was the hemming of towels. Material used was an ugly gray
color about 20 inches wide, selvedge on both sides, woven like the huck toweling
of today. It could be bought by the yard and then cut in the desired length. A small
hem was put in on each cut end. When you managed to get the hem in so no
stitches showed on the right side. then your lesson was over. Sometimes it took
quite a few towels. A loop was put in one corner to hang the thing on a nail. We had
no towel bars, then. When they were new, the towels were as smooth and slippery
as glass. Did improve a little after a few washings. Not much like the Turkish towels
I liked to sew. Next thing I was begging for was quilt blocks or most anything. I
would ask Mae who did all our sewing, to please let me help her. She'd tell me to
wait and I could pull out the bastings. I didn't want to pull thread out. I wanted to
put it in.
My dream came true when I was about thirteen. Arby married Minnie Campbell.
She worked in a dress and milliner shop in Vermontville. They made dresses to
order, and hats of all kinds. Minnie loved to sew and she understood that I really
did too. So she took the time to teach me and it wasn't long before I was doing the
sewing for the family.
My very first project was a dress for my mother. I chose the cloth, the pattern,
cut it out, and finished it with no help from anyone. Fitted Ma nicely and she said
she was very proud and pleased with it. As I look back now, I'll bet she lied like a
turnip thief. The color I chose was red. Her hair was a beautiful auburn color and
she always avoided reds. She might have been pleased with the sewing, but I'll
bet she hated the color whenever she put it on. Wore it out anyway. What does
lied like a turnip thief mean? I don't know, but it was one of Ma's favorite
expressions. I still love to sew. Especially now using the machine P.J. bought me.
Should have had one like that when my girls were growing up. I had a Singer
treadle which I thought was a fine one then.
You have all seen smalllooms for weaving, I know, but very few of
you would have an opportunity to see the large ones. A few years ago, there was
a lady in Portland who wove floor rugs. I had her make some for me. Presume
there are some looms around today but I know of none. I'll try and describe one,
probably I can't make it very clear on paper, but I'll make a stab at it. It was really
quite an invention. The loom frame itself was probably 5 feet wide and perhaps 8
feet high, maybe 3 feet deep. On the back were two round rollers, one above the
other. One held the warp and the other the finished carpet. The front was like a
table top. The warp came from the roll, underneath this top, then went on a
slight incline towards the top and out to the carpet roll. The carpet warp was
threaded into place the width of the carpet strips. I think they were 30 inch strips.
By using two colors of warp, a strip would be going the long way of your carpet.
My mother usually chose red and black to be alternated. Usually about 6 inches
wide, first a red, then a black. If you were using just the hit and miss rags, this
gave a little more color and a sort of pattern.
After your loom was all threaded up, the rags were put into a shuttle. This was a
real thin piece of board about 3 inches wide and 6 inches long, having an eye hole
in the front end and at the back was a notch. You threaded the shuttle just like you
would a needle then fastened it securely in the notch at the end. Can't imagine
what kind of wood was used for this shuttle. Perhaps it could have been maple. It
was almost pure white and as smooth as glass.
Now, let's get this show on the road and start weaving. I think Mrs. Lovell is in
a hurry for her carpets. You pull a kitchen stool up in front of the table, sit down,
and you're ready.
There are two long narrow pedals underneath the table, on which you place your
feet because you are the motor for this. You start pushing slowly and evenly with
first one foot and then the other. Oh, hold everything! I don't have the rags laced in
yet. Forgot to tell you at the upper end of the warp, long bar with eyes to lace is
placed. This bar is stationery but at the bottom, right in front of the operator is a
portable one. Laced with the warp to correspond with the top. Now, using your
threaded shuttle you weave your rags across the warp, maybe under about four
strings, then over four. You lace a couple rows of rags through, then start to pedal.
Next you push that portable bar up and literally pound the rows together.
complicated thing. As you kept on lacing, pushing, and pedaling, your carpet was
fed onto the roll at the back. Must have been some measuring device somewhere.
Just for instance your strips would need to be twelve feet, or any room length. You
stopped weaving the rags in and wove a selvedge with the warp back and forth
between each string. You then ran about 6 inches of just the warp strings and
started the next strip. This made a place to cut the lengths of carpet before sewing
How come I remember so much about this? The lady living just two farms north
of us wove carpets. It was right on my way home from- school. I was fascinated
with this loom. Thought it was the most wonderful invention. Sometimes Mrs.
Schaffer would let me sit down and weave a few minutes, not long though,
because she was afraid I couldn't beat the rows together tightly enough. I loved it
and used to think I might just buy me one, when I grew up and make that my life's
work. If I had, I probably would be long gone now. That was really a strenuous
job. There was another reason for stopping at Mrs. Schaffers, you know. Usually I
received a big, white, sour cream cookie. I had already walked 1 and 1/2 miles
from school with another 1/4 mile to go. I was always hungry and my dinner pail
Now, the carpet is ready and all Mrs. Lovell has to do is it together, then tack it
down on the room floor. Ma never would let anyone help her with that sewing.
Using carpet warp and a big needle, she would whip those edges together so one
could hardly see the seams. Then, too, it was very particular to have it sewn so
tightly that the threads couldn't possibly break when you stretched it on the floor.
At last, Ma's finished and ready to put the carpet down.
Older girls have the walls all wiped free from dust, woodwork washed, and
windows shining. Floor mopped, they now cover it first with newspapers, then
carry the new carpet in, spread it carefully on top of the papers. Now, here comes
Ma, saucer full of tacks in one hand, hammer in the other, and a frown on her face,
dreading her job. But here, too, she won't trust the girls to put the tacks in. She
does let them help to stretch it, but the tacks must be placed very carefully about
two inches apart, tight up against the mop board so no floor will be seen between
that and the carpet.
Starting in a corner, she would go a yard or two each way, then one of the girls
helping to stretch it, they would go across one side and eventually finish clear
around the room. The last side was always hardest. Sometimes, it would seem like
you never would make it. Whoever was down on the floor pulling it in place so Ma
could put a tack, their fingers sometimes might give out and back would go the
carpet. Then someone else would come stomping and pushing the carpet with
their feet, then stand and hold it in place until the tack could be hammered in. What
a job! But very rewarding, once it was completed you forgot about the work.
Sometimes it might go like this. Someone would say, "Let's hurry and get the
furniture all in place before Pa and Arby come in for supper. You little girls set the
table, I'll do this, someone else do that”, and how they would rush around. Always
belittling Pearl and I. Set the table!!! All I wanted to do was stand and look at the
new carpet. After all, didn't I help sew the rags, one ball anyway and I certainly had
helped today. Upset Ma's saucer of tacks several times and had to pick them up.
Wanted to hammer some in but didn’t get the chance.
Had plenty of chances at helping with each part of the operation in later years
and often doing my own after I grew up and had a family of my own.Just read this
tale of woe over and realize that I can't possibly make you see the picture. Maybe
this will help. Picture me down on hands and knees at one side of the room,
carpet all tacked in place but this one last spot, lacks 3 or 4 inches of coming to
the mop board, so I back up a little way, pulling an inch or two at a time, holding
tightly with my knees, finally make it. Taking a tack from my mouth (I can't be
bothered with that saucer of tacks, never can find it) I place it carefully .in the edge
of the carpet, which I am gripping for dear life, with my left hand and my knees still
helping to -hold it in place. I reach for the hammer with my right hand, poise it for
the kill when "whoops", I lose my hold, back goes my arm, down go my knees. I
lay there flat on my stomach, head resting on my outstretched arm, thinking after
all this struggle, I could really lay there for awhile and rest. The carpet had to be
finished so I gathered up my "stick-to-it-tiveness" and finished the corner. Now
days if any of you needed a new carpet, you'd go down to Mapes, order it, they'd
deliver it and for a nominal charge install your carpet in less time than I've taken in
writing this. Progress!! Isn't it wonderful? I think so.
Certainly been a lot of progress in the handling of milk over the years
of my life. In Ohio, the women always did the milking of the cows, in Michigan the
men did the job. Neighbors thought my mother was crazy not to change her ways.
To her it was a perfectly natural thing to do and was just one more of her daily
duties. Pa could milk and did if my mother was sick but they were from Ohio and
that was woman's work, so she kept at it and he let her.
My first recollections are of seeing Ma go down that hill to the barn, with a shiny,
tin, twelve quart pail in each hand. Pails had to be bright and shiny. Ma was very
particular that the milk we used was clean. In a short time back up the hill she came
with her pails full of milk. As I look back seems like going up and down that hill was
the hardest part of the job. Then long after I was married a cyclone came through
and demolished our big bank barn. It was long after Ma left the farm forever. but
she built a new barn for her tenants. It wasn't built below the hill but up top of it
back behind the house. No more struggling up and down that hill.
Guess I better get back to my mother and her pails of milk. Summer time, she
would go down the outside hatchway into the cellar. This cellar was kept clean as
any room in the house, probably cleaner. A table was at one side with gallon
earthen jars to strain the milk into. My mother used a cloth as a strainer. Holding it
tightly around one side of the pails brim, she would then tip the pail up and fill each
crock. We had a regular strainer but Ma liked her way best. Thought the cloth more
The milk was then left for the cream to raise. Cream was taken off with a
skimmer, placed in a jar and left a few days. Next it was churned into butter. The
skimmed milk was usually made into cottage cheese. That was the most delicious
food. I'll bet if one had some today and showed the cottage cheese one buys now
to the original kind, it wouldn’t even be recognized as a poor relation.
A number of years after my father died, creameries came into use. There was one
just west of the corner here on School Road. Built on the north side of the street
just before the road turns south to the school house. This Creamery was still in
operation when Ray and I were married in 1911. Our first home was the little white
house on the corner of First Street and School Road. The creamery was the next
and only building to the west of us.
People were required to buy two ten gallon milk cans for the milk to be
transported. Then a stand to put them on was built out at the edge of the road.
This stand must be the same height as the flat-bed on the carriers Wagon. The
carrier or milk man as we called him, handled his wagon with a team of horses,
stopping at each farm house for the milk. All the cans were labeled with the
owners name. Picking up the filled can, he would then leave an empty for us to fill.
What a lot of labor that saved Ma and we girls. Just milk the cows, bring the milk
to the empty can sitting on the milk stand. Set the strainer on top of the can, pick
the pail up and pour it in. No rinsing of strainer cloth, no cream to skim off, no
crocks to be washed. Just wash and scald the milk pails and that chore was all
taken care of. Also no churning - bought our butter from the creamery. They also
made cheese and cottage cheese. I can tell you right now, creamery butter was not
as good as home made, but, oh, what a lot of work saved.
Next on the market, came cream separators. We never had one because that
labor saving device came after Ma left the farm. John and Eulalie had one. It was
quite a complicated machine. Cranked the thing by hand, cream came out one
spout and skimmed milk out another. You wouldn't believe all the parts that went
into making of the thing, until you dismantled it. You had to wash each piece, then
put it back together for next time.
No more taking your pails into the barn and milkingthe old way. Really it was
very unsanitary. Inspectors came. Farmers were toldif they didn't fix a special
room for milking, no creamery would buy your milk.It would be against the law
to sell it. The requirements would be so expensive, that unless you had a large
herd of dairy cows, it was out of thequestion. A small herd wouldn't pay for the
expense of remodeling your barn.
Consequently, these farmers just sold their cows. I'll bet if they'd tell the truth
a lot of them were really glad to be rid of this chore. No matter how tired you were
from the farming of your land, you'd eat your supper then have to pick up those
pails and go do the milking. Again in the morning it would have to be done before
you could start anything else.
Now, the modern way is wonderful, I think. Those big dairy farms, their modern
sanitary way of milking, the huge processing plants, special milk trucks to deliver
it to the stores, and we bring the finished product home to be stored in our
refrigerators. You younger people take so much for granted, but I have
experienced it all.
Forgot to mention this fact. Milking machines were used by nearly all farmers in
later years, before the inspectors came along.
Just must tell you this one. When Ray and I moved out of town and onto the
farm, Ray said, "I'm going to buy two or three cows, but I want you to understand
right now, that I will not allow you to milk!" He always resented the milking bit
when I was a girl at home. Thought I had lost my marbles or probably thought I
didn't have any to lose when I would say I liked to milk. I really did like it! The
second summer we were on the farm, Ray and Johnnie were drawing gravel to
earn a little extra money. Always could find work on the roads then, so much
needed to be done.
Men would take their wagons to the gravel pits, shovel the wagon box full and
then haul it out onto the road they were covering. Then, I'm not real sure, but I
think they removed the end gate from the wagon box, driving the horses very
slowly, the gravel fell down to the road. Think they had to keep pushing with
their shovel until the wagon was emptied. Next, the gravel had to be raked into
place. When quite a long strip was put in, someone always drove their rig down
through, so anyone coming along with horse and buggy could follow the lines.
Ray said, the other men would always say, "Let John Welch make the first track.
No one else can drive a team as straight as he." Johnnie would drive his team up
the road then turn and come back. Ray said no one with a ruler could draw a
straighter line than that. It was quite a trick to turn and come back and stay in the
track, but Johnnie did it perfectly.
One day, Ray hurt his hand. Tore the palm on barbed wire. Had to come to the
doctor and have it bandaged. Of course, he couldn't milk, so Johnnie came over
that night and again the next morning to do it for him.
Johnnie had seven cows of his own and our three made ten. Ten cows to milk
night and morning? I thought that was terrible when I could just as well milk ours
myself, So when he brought the milk to the house, I told him he needn't do that
again, I'd take care of it myself. He said, "Jim, you can't do it. That old white cow
is afraid of women and she'll climb right into the manger if you walk into her stall".
I said, "she'll have to get out and I'll milk her", Johnnie said, "Ray won't like it if I
let you do it", Ray had already gone for his first load of gravel while Johnnie was
home milking cows.
I won out! That night I put the cows in the barn, milked the other two first, then I
tackled old "Whitey", Stood behind her stall a while, talking to her, and once in a
while I'd reach and pat her on the back. Finally, I gathered up nerve enough to
walk into her stall. She began jumping around but 1 stayed right in there talking
and petting her and soon I was milking. Didn't dare sit down, so I stood up,
holding the pail in my left hand, 1 milked her with my right. Don't know as I got all
the milk that night but I had no trouble with her after that.
You know what? Ray never said a word, only that he was glad not to have to
have Johnnie do it again. Want to know something else? After his hand got well,
I quite often had the milking done when he got home or sometimes when he
wanted to work in the fields after supper, I'd say, "You go on, milk". He said,
"You're not to milk those cows".
Often think when I see
these modern trucks go by filled with gravel, they don't know how lucky they are.
At the touch of lever, they can fill their box, and with another dump it when they
get to their destination. Probably one of their truck loads would fill three or four
wagon boxes that my guys had to shovel by hand.
One more great labor and time saving device!
In the early days of mylife (I had to be less than ten) Pearl and
I accompanied my father and motherto Lansing. Now, when you drove a horse
thirty miles anywhere, you didn't spenda few hours, then turn around and drive
your horse another thirty, you stayedovernight.
We visited at the home ofmy Aunt Helen and Uncle Ed Wood. Aunt Helen's first
husband was my mother'shalf-brother, Wm. Ramsey, who died in the early years
of their marriage. Later,Aunt Helen married this Mr. Wood. I remember they had two
girls, one they called Hattie and the other, I can't remember hername. They were
much older than Pearl and I. We hadn't been there very longbefore I had a
problem. After all, I had rode thirty miles non-stop. Iwhispered my trouble in my
mother's ear and she in turn, told Aunt Helen, whotold Hattie to show me where
to go. So, I followed Hattie and she started upthe open stairway. I thought where
is she going? I want to go outdoors and I needed to go right now.
At the head of the stairs,Hattie opened a door into a little room, the like of which I
had never seenbefore. There was this big long, funny looking thing along one side,
a big bowllike thing in the corner and in another corner was an Object, I certainly
didn't know anything about that. Hattie raised the cover and invited me to siton the
thing. While sitting there, I wondered where things were going. Maybe some place
else in the house. This covered pail didn't have anything except alittle water in it
when I sat down. I asked Hattie where it emptied and she in GrandRiver. GRAND
RIVER, I thought. I jumped off that stool like I'd been shot. Then she pulled a chain
that was hanging down the wall and the water came thunderingdown into the
toilet. I jumped again afraid I'd land in the river myself.
Then when she walked tothat other bowl, touched Something and water began
corning into that and said, ";You may wash your hands in here". Thinkof that,
water in the bowl and no pump in sight. Now where did that come from?I was too
scared to ask any more questions.
Next morning, Hattie took me for a walk. The river was nearby and we walked
across the bridge. I wondered how in the world that thing last night emptied into
Grand River this far from Aunt Helen's house. Wish I could remember how old I
was. It was before Pa died and I know Pearl, who was two and a half years
younger than I, was probably too young to go on that walk Sunday morning. Pearl
has since told me she wasn't too young and she remembers the walk across the
bridge over Grand River. Don't imagine I was more than five or six, for I remember
nothing else about the visit at all. Being so unusual, and to me so scary, is why it
has stuck in my mind. Anyway, that was my first introduction to a bathroom. Never
heard of one before. It's funny now but not then. It was frightening.