Myrties Memories, Pages 1 - 30

Myrties Memories
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.
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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 down by 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 born there.
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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 time.
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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.
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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 the way. 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 with it.
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Our Living
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 white sugar. 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 with us). 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.
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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 three. 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.
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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!
Ohio Trip
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 down.
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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 Michigan.
Our Organ
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 Bentley.
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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.
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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!
Our Horses
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.
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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 by. 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
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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 show-off! 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.
Little Fly
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.
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Dan Patch
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.
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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 buggy. 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.
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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.
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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
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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.
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 ours. 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
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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 sympathy! 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.
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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!
The Threshers
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.
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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 best.
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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 giving up. 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.
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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 carpeting together. 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
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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 of today. 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.
Carpets Continued
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.
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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 together. 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 was empty. 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.
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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.
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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 sanitary. 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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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