Myrties Memories, Pages 31 - 60

Myrties Memories
Next first experience I remember right now was the Telephone. About  time Pa died in 1901, there were a few telephones being installed out in the country. Two in our immediate neighborhood. On our way home from schoolone P.M., the two girls whose people had telephones were trying to explain it to me. I had told them I never had even seen one, let alone talking on them. Iwould soon be passing both their houses, so one girl said, "I'll go into myhouse and wait for you to call me from Mabel's, and you can try it". SoMabel and I walked on from Ada's house·, and s topped in at Mable's home. Herewas this scary looking box that talked to you, hanging on a wall. Mabel told mewhat Ada's ring was and said you just turn this little crank so many times, then put this receiver to your ear and listen. When she says, "Hello" you say, "Hello" back to her. I reached for the crank and then losing my nerve told Mabel I was scared I wouldn't do it right and asked her to crank it for me. She did, then put the receiver to my ear. Ada answered but I was so frightened that I dropped the receiver. Mabel handed it back to me but I was so shaky. I can't remember whether I said anything or not but now I knew it really was true. It worked! Phones were a "far cry" those days from the sophisticated things of today. These give you a recording that talks to you even when there's no one at the other end of the wire. I am about as scared of these sometimes as I was at the very first one I ever used. A whole neighborhood, maybe ten or twelve families would be on the same line. Could call each other without calling Central as operators were named then. If you wanted someone not on your line you rang just one ring for Central. If you needed someone on your own line, you rang the number of times that it called for in your book. Sometimes 2 or 3 rings or else 1 long and 1 short or maybe some other combination like 2 long 1 short, or maybe 2 long and 2 short. When the telephone started ringing you paid strict attention to distinguish your own ring. There weren't many secrets in the neighborhoods those days. People listened in on the lines, sometimes just for entertainment. I miss the old fashioned type that required an operator. Have been helped so many times by them, then, too, you could have a nice little chat with an operator while you waited for your party to answer. Myrtle, Ray's sister, worked here a good many years and was very efficient. She also had worked in Lake Odessa, and Grand Rapids before coming here. When Johnnie died, we wouldn't have known about it in time to get out there before it happened, if the operator hadn't called us. She knew from the calls coming into the office what was happening and so called Ray immediately. We were so grateful to her. Another time when Lois lived on Grandma Bishop's place, she was alone with Danny in his high chair. Lois fainted away and when she came to her senses, crawled (couldn't stand up) to the telephone, rang the operator and just said, "Please call my mother, I'm sick", and hung up the receiver. The operator recognized Lois' voice and called me at the store telling me I'd better get out to Lois's house, she was sick. Now, could these new fangled outfits do that? Then again, when Ray died, don't know who the girl was any more but she certainly was on the job. Calling people, telling them I needed help. Never will I forget that. New phones are another sign of Progress, but I don't like this one. The old way of the operators was so comforting to know. Just call the operator and you had sympathetic help at once. In small towns like ours, it was a good thing.
Page 31

First sight of a steel trap
Once upon a time a certain dumb little girl went to spend Saturday with a friend. It was a beautiful morning in early Spring, so the two little girls decided to take a walk down the lane. Just over the line fence was a field which had already been planted to corn. It looked so pretty, the corn was just corming up. The girls spoke of the beauty of it. The corn looked like small dots of green evenly spaced over the entire field. Suddenly Miss Dumb Bunny saw something strange fastened on top of the fence. She asked her friend what it was and was told it was a steel trap. What's a steel trap was the next question. Friend (oh, let's call her Ethel) explained her brother Frank trapped crows in it. Said the crows were pulling up the little green corn plants and Frank thought the traps might help to scare them away. Of course that explanation didn't tell Miss D.B. how it worked, can that thing catch a crow? Ethel said, "Frank spreads the side things apart until they will lay flat, then he baits it with corn. Crows try to eat the corn, that springs the trap and it catches the crow right by its head." By this time the dumb gal was at the very top of the fence looking right down onto the trap. "What’s that funny looking round thing there in the middle, she asked. Ethel replied, "That's where Frank puts the bait." Next question, where? there? Ethel screamed, "Don’t touch that". Too late, the trap was sprung and the Dummy's front finger on her right hand was held in its jaws. I might as well tell you because I think you have probably known all along that it was Dumb Myrtie who always had to know how everything worked that had her finger in the trap. It was chained to the top rail and so was I. Ethel managed to unfasten the chain. I climbed down. Ethel tried to spring the trap open to release my finger but of course she didn't have the strength. Her father was plowing the field just a little farther down the lane, so we headed for him. Ethel walked closely beside me carrying the trap so the weight wouldn't pull on my finger, both of us crying, we reached Mr. Walsh finally. He was using a walking plow and when he saw us coming, we were (to him) such a funny looking pair of little girls, he just leaned over those plow handles and exploded with laughter. Quickly, though, he released my finger and apologized for the laughter. Said it was really no laughing matter, it could have snapped the end of my finger off. Made the tip of my first finger on my right hand crooked was all. Now there's arthritis in that joint but the crookedness is there above it. Mr. Walsh never let me forget it after I grew up. Well, I admit it was a dumb but I had to know how steel traps worked and I received a full demonstration.
Page 32

A Near Tragedy
Might just as well include this story right here for it also involves Ethel, her mother and father, Mary and John Walsh. Before the road between the hills was graded up and filled in as it is now. Going south directly in front of our home was a very steep hill. The road leveled off maybe 25 or 35 feet, then another sharp hill. On this level spot was a small bridge, just about the same width of the road and probably not more than 4 or 5 feet wide. Don't remember whether or not there was water running under there, but in the spring of the year the water came from somewhere. At times the bridge was covered but never was very high. Until this one particular spring it became very bad. It was Saturday and neighbors north of us were driving to Vermontville to do their weekly shopping. The water was a little deep but nothing to be frightened about when all these people went to town soon after noon. In the middle of the afternoon, the water began rising. We could see it climbing higher and higher up each hill. Ma was worried about the people coming from town, so we sat on our steps to watch for them. Of course, we had seen them go by on their way in and knew they would soon be coming and how many. Finally, they had all passed through safely excepting the Walshes. Ma said when the last family came through, "I have to go start the milking, but I'm still worried over Mr. and Mrs. Walsh. Hope they come before dark. You girls sit here and wait for them. If they get into any trouble, you Myrtie, run for Arby and Ernie Benedict but tell Arby first. He is quicker than Ernie". Off she went to the barn, all the time so sure something was going to go wrong. Arby, at that time, lived on the first farm north of us, on the east side. Ernie, who was Walshes son in-law, lived directly across from him on the west side of the road. It is about 1/4 mile from us. Ma's prediction came through. She was right. Mr. Walsh came. He had two horses hitched to a single buggy with a top. Everything was fine, when suddenly a buggy wheel ran off the side of the narrow board bridge, tipping the buggy over on its side, breaking the tongue loose, horses kept on going dragging Mr. Walsh holding fast to the reins, Mrs. Walsh holding fast to his coat tail, screaming "Ethel's in the buggy" over and over. Water was up to their arm pits. By this time I was headed for Arby's calling to Ma to get to the house as I passed by the barn. Arby was at the supper table but he jumped up and was on his way before I could even tell him my story. I hurried across to Ernie's and told him, then started back home. Arby was wearing rubberboots. I hadn't gone very far before I saw one of them on the ground, a little farther and here was the other boot. He had kicked them off as he ran on in his stocking feet. I carried the boots on home. When I arrived Arby was just swimming out with Ethel in his arms. The buggy was entirely submerged with only one corner of the top in sight. Ethel's head was up in that corner but her head was above water. Arby had quite a time getting her out, he thought she was dead. Looking back now, she probably had fainted away or maybe struck her head as the buggy tipped over. Whatever it was, air in that part of the top above the water, and Arby, saved her life.
Page 33

Next I remember the doctor being there. Pearl remembers them putting Ethel in bed in our spare bedroom and she and Mrs. Walsh were there for a week before Ethel was able to go home.Shock, I suppose, might have caused that. That is one experience that we all could have done without. Don't know what might have happened if Ma hadn't had the foresight to tell us to get Arby and Ernie there. It's 11:3O p.m. and I'm all out of breath from reliving this. Think I'll go to bed. Not a very good story to go to bed on. Just a little more history.Ethel married Clarence Collier, Charley's brother. Don Collier is her son. Good Night.
The Cellar
Our cellar was not a basement. Webster says a cellar is a place for storing provisions while a basement is the lowest part or story of a building. No refrigeration back then, so when a house was built, a cellar to keep your perishable foods cool was included in the plan. In this house, too, the cellar is located beneath the den. I used to keep the walls swept clear of cobwebs and dust, clean papers on the shelves, floor scrubbed with soap suds, then rinsed with clear water carried down from the kitchen. The water ran out then down the drain in the southeast corner, immediately. Now sometimes water comes in but it takes its time running out. I don't carry it down, either. Always put the milk, butter, shortening etc. directly on the cellar floor. Meat, if it wasn't to be cooked at once, I seared in a skillet over the fire, then carried it down stairs and placed it on the floor. Everything had to be covered. My cellar shelves were loaded always with canned fruits, jams, and jellies. No more of that, I do a little but can store it in my cupboards. The south part of the cellar, I always called it, is what Webster would call a basement. When we moved here, the furnace with the corner made into a coal bin was all there was down there. Haven't been down for years. I'll bet people who do have to go must be afraid they'll get hung up on cobwebs. I do have someone else clean it once in awhile. As usual, I am getting away from my subject but I write things down just as they pop into my head and this just popped in right now. In the early days (What an expression, makes me feel so antiquated), doctors would accept most anything useful as payment of a bill. Maybe a sack of potatoes, oats, or hay for their horse or wood to heat their houses. Most anything usable. Apples, butter, etc. would be accepted. When Ray's sister Ethel was born, Jan. 25, 1897, the doctor wanted a load of wood for his payment. Roads were snow covered, so Ray's father told him to hitch the horses to the sleighs and take a load of wood to Sunfield, delivering it to Ed Snyder's house. The house was this very one I'm sitting in today. Dr. Snyder built it in 1900. Ray, 12 years old then, used to say in later years, on that day so long ago little did he think he would be throwing wood and coal into that same window.
Page 34

Cellar at the old homestead
This cellar ran the full length of the house. It was divided into two, one under the north end and the other under the upright at the south. The north one had no windows, so we called it the dark cellar, the other one had four windows and was called the light cellar. Besides the windows, ahatchway opened into it from outside, so this could be opened in the summertime. This made it nice and airy, no stale or musty odor at any time. Milk waskept in crocks on the shelves, waiting for cream to rise and be skimmed off forbutter, so the place had to be kept very clean and free from odors. Open crocksof milk would become tainted with the slightest smell.There was also an insidestairway leading down from the pantry above. A small landing, with shelves forstorage at the end, built at the top was nice. No steps leading down into space when you opened the door. But this landing and those cellar steps had to be scrubbed with a brush every Saturday. My mother was a great "scrubber-upper". After all there was FOOD in that cellar. This light airy storage space was certainly in the fall always, "a sight for sore eyes'', or maybe a more accurate expression would be, "a sight for hungry stomachs". The shelves were filled then with canned fruit, gallon crocks of apple butter, lard to bake with, cucumber pickles in a six gallon crock on the floor. Enough food to feed an army. Maybe that's what we had, there were eight people living in that house regularly with plenty of coming and going, my mother was prepared The prettiest sight in this cellar were the shelves on which my father stored our apples. These shelves were not built with a solid board but with narrow boards placed a half inch or so apart to let air in around the apples. Also there was something across the front to keep them from rolling out. The apples were all sorted according to the variety. We had so many different kinds, most of them are not raised anymore. There were Northern Spies, of course, Greenings, Baldwins, Greasy Pippins, Tolman Sweets, and Snow apples. Also had one called Rambo. This was a fall variety and had to be used first. Not very good keepers but delicious eating. Then another called Russets. These my dad buried in a pit to be opened up in the spring. This pit was dug at the edge of our garden, lined with straw someway. Can't tell too much about this because it was one more thing we never did after my dad was gone. However, the pit was like a cold storage and Pa buried Russet apples, heads of cabbage, carrots, turnips,etc. What an exciting day when he went out in the spring and opened that pit. Everything was as fresh as the day he stored it. The Russet apples weredelicious. Not even withered.
The Dark Cellar
All I can remember we kept in this one is barrels filled with potatoes and cider barrels. The cider barrels- were laid down flat and had spigots in each one. Cider, as you all know, turns to vinegar as it ages. We always had one barrel of that and each fall my dad would take apples to the cider mill and have fresh cider made. We drank out of this until it turned so hard it wasn't fit to drink, then we'd leave it for vinegar.
Page 35

Now all this was fine until one day you were sent down to draw a jug of vinegar. You didn't want to go into that old dark place, you were scared but you didn't dare say you were afraid and could you please take a lamp with you. The answer to that would be, "a lamp, you want to set this house on fire, now go on and get that vinegar, there's nothing down there to be afraid of". I knew there was and it's name was DARK. Coming so suddenly out of the day light into this room, you couldn't see a thing, so you'd wait a few minutes (seemed like hours) and then you could see a little but still you were scared. Walking, gingerly, up to the vinegar barrel, you'd put your jug under the spigot and turn it on. Not too fast, it will spit back up, so you wait forever for the jug to fill, expecting some wild animal or an old crazy man to grab you and choke you to death. It wouldn't have taken long, you were half way there already. The jug is full, you turn off the spigot and go out into the light and up the stairs to safety. When you were sent down for potatoes, that was a lot worse than drawing vinegar. You'd enter the darkness, stand still until your eyes were accustomed to the sudden change, then walk up to that potato barrel! You look down into that barrel and there really is no light now. Barrel is nearly you're going to need to reach way into this one. But it isn't you at all, it's me. I am really scared now. I pound on the outside of the barrel to scare the rats or whatever is in there. Nothing comes out so reach into the darkness and fill my pan. Once more I have survived. Pearl told me last Sunday when she had to go for potatoes, she always snitched a few matches and hide them in her apron pocket. When she reached the barrel, she'd strike a match, holding the lighted match inside the barrel she could see whether there was anything in there or not. Always careful to hide the burnt match in her pocket to dispose of it before Ma found out. Now, why didn't think of that. You know something? I’ll bet Ma would have caught me at it. No flashlights in those days. What an invention that was.
Sleigh Bells
What a delight these strings of sleigh bells were. Used only in the winter time, when the roads were covered with snow and you were unable to pull a buggy. Buggies had wheels, so now a cutter or sleighs with runners were the conveyances. The sleigh bells, mounted on a strap, placed around a horse's neck, hanging loosely underneath his head, jingle and jangled with every movement of his body. Each string had a different tone. The size of the bells, some about an inch in diameter gave out a high pitched sound, while the larger ones made a lower sound. Probably were 25 or 30 bells on a string. One soon learned the sound of each neighbors bells and could tell who was driving past without looking out. My father’s bells were called a graduated string. Tiny inch bells at the top and gradually changing to one and one half inch in the middle. They made the most melodious sound. Ma gave them to Arby and now Ruth Wright has them. She has quite a collection of strings, all from some of her relatives. Has them displayed hanging side by side on one wall of a room in her house.
Page 36

A sleigh had two sets of runners. The front ones turned as you guided your horses, the back pair was stationary. Followed the turn of the front pair. Usually a wagon box, with a high seat in front for the driver~ was used to carry passengers or grain to the mill, your groceries, etc. Sleigh bells were not used on these horses, but a larger bell was placed on each horses' neck. These were called team bells. Lots of logging was done in the winter time. To draw logs, the box was removed. The first winter Ray and I were married (1911), he drew logs into town from somewhere south of here. Would get up at 3:00 a.m., have his breakfast, then go bring in a load of logs before he began his daily Dray-line job here in town. Brought in a little extra income. Ray kept his horses in a barn on Washington street, where P. J., then Gary later, used to live. While he was gone for his team, I used to start my dayswork, then I'd hear his bells coming and be in the window to wave my hand; butas soon as the sound of the bells were gone, I'd crawl back in bed, feeling guilty to be so nice and warm when I knew Ray must be cold. Sometimes, he would get off the sleighs and trot alongside to warm himself up. When I heard the sound of his bells coming back into town I'd get up, light the lamp and be in the window again. Guess I forgot to say we lived right down south of here where you turn to go to the school houe. Can see the house now from my window. Those woods where he went for the logs must have been close by, for he would be back in town before daylight. Had to be ready to meet the 8 a.m. train to pick up freight for the merchants. What a cold winter that !
A cutter was the only other conveyance used in the winter time when snow covered the roads. Just sleighs and cutters. Two horses were driven to pull the sleighs, but a cutter used just one horse. These vehicles were sort of a square looking type with the seat in the very back. The back then curved around, down the side, shaping down towards the floor. This gave one protection so you wouldn't fallout, and could tuck the blankets or robe around you to keep warm. Then the sides continued on to the front, making a sort of dashboard. This body was mounted on runners, like those on a child's sled only of course large and longer. The whole cutter was maybe four feet wide and perhaps six feet long. It cleared the ground at maybe twelve or eighteen inches. Not so high. You could easily step right in, about like going up one step on' the porch.
Page 37

So what are we waiting for?
The runners are on, the horse is between the thills, LET'S GO, Climb in, no brakes to be used. You may step on the bottom of the blankets to hold them around your feet, tuck them tightly then around your legs and up your body as high as they will reach, usually about to your arm pits.You feel sort of like a mummy but necessary because,"Baby It's Cold Outside". Cold or not, it use to give me a thrill even though we might only be going to Vermontville. So different than a buggy ride. Before Ray and I were married, sometimes we would go for a cutter ride in the evening. Usually it was Sunday night, not many people out. 3uch a beautiful world, snow everywhere, fields, trees, roof tops, everything covered, smoke coming from the chimneys of the houses we drove by. The hush and silence of a winters night almost took one's breath away. As our horse trotted along the way, the only sound we heard was the jingling of our sleighbells, cutters just glide along noiselessly. Gave me the feeling of us being the only ones in the world and we were just soaring along into space. Sort of lonely but happy, just to be alive. We look up at the sky and see the moon shining down upon us and our snow covered world, making it almost as light as day. Next, the clouds begin to break away and out comes the first star. Must make a wish and say, "Star light, Star bright, wish I may, wish I might have the wish I wish tonight." Still think of this, even now, when I see my first star. Other stars soon follow my first one, until the sky is dotted all over with them, sparkling like diamonds. We located, the ripper, the Little Dipper, and also the Milky Way. Didn't see the man in the moon try to dip right in and take a drink but the sight was so beautiful and fairy-like that you thought you might. The beauty of the winter night around and the diamond studded sky made us feel, as we drove home, that we were driving on Hallowed ground. We feel like a King and Queen, this great, big, beautiful world is ours. You modern guys with your noisy snowmobiles can have your speedy fun, but I'll just float along silently in my old cutter, taking time to enjoy the wonders of the world around me.
Page 38

A Sleigh Ride
In 1900, the year before my father died, we were invited to his brothers, John Lovell's, for Thanksgiving Day Dinner. Sleighing didn't always come as early as this but this year, the snow came and the ground was never bare until spring. We had good sleighing all winter. Uncle John's family lived south of Sunfield on what is now known as the Dan Aungst farm. Five miles from our place. Such a beautiful winter morning, ground, trees, and buildings covered with snow, sparkling in the early morning sunshine. I can hardly wait to get started. Hurry everybody! At last, here comes Pa and Arby from the barn. Horses prancing, act as though they were as anxious as I to get started. Pa and Arby have filled the bed of the sleighs with nice clean straw covered over with horse blankets for us to sit on. Ma climbs up on the drivers seat with my dad, Arby, Mae, Sylvia, Grace, Pearl, and I sit on the straw covered bed. More blankets to tuck around us and we are started at last. Down the road north 3/4 mile to Dellwood corners, then east one mile to Bismark School house. There we stop to pick up my father's aunt and her son. Her name was Aunt Diana Pickens, (she lived to the age of 102), the sons name was Thomas. Their home is now owned by Lloyd and Rose Steward. We go north two miles from Aunt Diana's and next east one mile on what is now St. Joe Highway. Here we behold the most gorgeous sight! This whole mile bordering on the south side of the road, was covered with timber. Huge, tall trees, their snowy branches glistening in the sunshine, growing so closely together, looked to me like a huge snow bank. On then down east to the Brethren Church, one-fourth mile north and we are at Uncle John's. Don't remember much more of this day, except Aunt Allie had roast turkey. It was a first time for turkey with me. They raised their own. Of course, I remember the rest of the family, Bessie, Donna, and John Jr. All older than I. Don't recall the ride home but I'll bet we sang most of the way, because if my dad was riding anywhere, he sang. He loved music. Thinking of this great big Woods makes me wonder if that wasn't where Ray went for his logs that winter of 1911, I told you about. So much timber was sold and cut down at that time. I know it was close to town because he never was gone very long. I'll just bet that is where they came from. I think ,Charles Brown owned that place, perhaps not then but he later lived there. Some of you will remember him.
Changes Life Style
Page 39

A few years after the death of my father, some things to make life easier for a woman were invented. For instance, small portable stoves to cook on. The fuel used for these was kerosene or gasoline. They made quite a difference at our house. We never cooked our meals in the Summer Kitchen anymore. Could set one of these small stoves on top of our wood-burning range or on a shelf. Also a portable oven came on the market. This was a big help, saved on wood as well as a lot of leg work, carrying things outside to cook, then carrying it back in to eat. Another thing was spring and mattresses for our beds. Can't help but think the old fashioned straw tick was much more sanitary than a mattress but not nearly as comfortable. Using a material called ticking, these were sewed together like huge pillowcase, excepting both ends were closed. Down in the middle center of the top was an eighteen or twenty inch slit fastened together with buttons and button holes. Through this opening, the tick was filled with fresh oat straw. Crammed so full you could scarcely button the opening. Next procedure, carrying the bulky thing up that hill, into the house, up the stairs, and get it in place on the bed. Ma, Mae, Sylvia, Grace each grasp a corner and lifting it high enough to clear the ground, they are on their merry way. The awkward thing was not heavy, oat straw is very light. I called it a merry way because it was just that. Sylvia had a way of turning any task, however hard,into fun. They talked, laughed, and giggled all the way to the house. This tickgoes upstairs, so that will take a bit of doing. There were banisters alongeach side of the stairwell at the top. So they'd stand the tick through the door way, two of the girls leaning over the banisters at the top pulling on it, the girls at the bottom pushing, and then with one last mighty heave, over a banister the unwieldy thing was, upstairs and in place on the bed. Most of our beds had a tick filled with feathers, which was placed over the straw one. Eased the hardness just a bit. Earlier in the day this room had been completely cleaned. Curtains, bedding, throw rugs washed and dried. If the tick was not new, it also had to be washed. Feather bed and quilts hung on the clothes line to air. Even the carpet had been taken up, carried down stairs, threw over the clothesline beating the dust out with a carpet beater. I got to help a little I could wack away at the carpet, also a feather tick. Probably my wacks were not very hard ones but every little whack helped. When they put the carpet down, I never was allowed to pound a tack in but now I came in handy. A tack puller was handed to me and I was ordered to pull the tacks out. I didn't mind doing around for the good tacks when she was laying the carpet again. Didn't like that, too puttery, I'd rather beat the carpet and see the dust fly. This one bed finished, just four more to go, and they will be clean and sanitary. Sanitary or not, I’m very thankful for mattresses and springs.
Page 40

Just must tell you this, then I’ll leave the beds and housecleaning, because they are making me tired. When Sylvia and Johnnie were married, they began housekeeping at Grandma Rachel Welch’s. Just two rooms, Grandma Welch had built onto the side of her house, for her son, Grandpa Ped, (Johnnie's father) to live in when he was married. I use to be there quite a lot, helping Sylvia. No place for me to sleep in their part of the house, so I would have to go upstairs in Grandma Rachel's part. At bedtime, carrying a lighted oil lamp in my hand, I'd start on that LONG journey across Grandma's kitchen, then up the stairs to the ROOM. This place was filled, almost to over flowing, with Grandma's things she had no use for anymore. One thing I remember was her spinning wheel. I thought it was all but today it would be very valuable. A stand to put my lamp on and the bed was in one corner of the room. This bed was very old. In place of slats, ropes were strung across and up and down to form a place for the tick. If you thought the slats were hard, you should have slept in this. You could actually feel the ropes. The whole place was very spooky, my little light didn't reach more than three feet away and what did I know the things that were hiding to come after me when I'd blowout the lamp. Didn't dare to leave it lit, might tip it over in the night and set fire to the house. Every night when I’d start for bed Sylvia would say, “Are you sure you are not afraid, Myrtie?” Always answering, “No, I’m not afraid” when I was shaking in my boots and my teeth were chattering. All of Grandmas treasures were burned when a few years later, fire destroyed the old, old house. Always wanted to rummage through that upstairs but didn’t dare. Grandma Rachel would have called me a snoop. I was always on pretty good terms with her and wanted to keep it that way.
Settin' Hens and Such
Back in the "hey-day" of my life, we raised chickens, as did every farmer. Our henhouse was built at the edge of the orchard, not very far from the house. Roosts were built along one side of the wall inside with a row of nests for the hens to lay their eggs in on the opposite wall. Can just hear you younger readers say, "Now what crazy thing is she talking about? What are roosts and hens nests?" My more antiquated children know but for the others I'll try to explain. Roosts first. Ours were started with 3 two-by-fours about 4 feet long.
Page 41

One end nailed at right angles to the wall, half way between top and bottom, then a board slanting from the roof to the edge of this first board. Three of these were used to hold the roosting poles, one at each end and the third in the center so the weight of the chickens couldn't make the poles sag. The poles, small enough for a chicken to cling to with their feet, were then placed length-wise between the supports. Fastened to the slanting board, one pole above the other (not directly above, of course), it now looks like a stairway with no steps hanging to the wall. Just the poles. Sometimes you might be a little late with your chores, darkness came before you had taken water and grain to the chickens. Always had that out for them ready for the next morning. With a lighted lantern hanging from one arm, a pail of water on the other, you'd enter the henhouse. What a sight greeted your eyes. All those chickens clinging to the poles, all facing the same way, backs to the walls, eyes closed, they were asleep. Maybe one or two would open a sleepy eye, give you the once over, and just go back to sleep. BUT, if you made the least bit of noise then pandemonium would start. They were very much awake, roosters squawking, hens cackling, all flying down off their poles, you didn't tarry. You just grabbed your lantern and fled out the door. As soon as you left with the light they would quiet right down. Chickens made a good burglar alarm. If people heard them making a fuss in the night, someone always investigated immediately. Most men would carry their shot gun out with them. Maybe you wouldn't see anything, could have been a rat, weazel, skunk, or some other wild animal wanting a chicken dinner or it could have been a man. Plenty of chicken thieves around in those days. Guess it's about time I began on those nests. This was just a simple board mounted like a shelf on the opposite side from the roosts. A board along the front to keep the eggs from rolling out, small boards about four inches high, spaced cross wise about twelve inches apart the full length of the shelf, made a box like nests just large enough for one hen. These were covered on the bottom with straw to keep the eggs from breaking when laid. Now in the early spring, some of these older hens would decide a family of little chickens would be a nice thing to have. So she would quit laying eggs, climb into one of those cozy little nests and there you would find her when you went to gather in the eggs. You couldn't scare her off, had to pick her up and throw her out, being very careful to reach under her from the back to get hold on her legs. She would fight back, picking your hands with her sharp bill, if you didn't take care. You'd give her a toss but if she really wanted to sit in that nest for the next three weeks (time it takes for eggs to hatch) she'd fly right back in and set there. Reporting to Ma, she'd tell me to keep that up for three or four days until we knew for certain she was going to set, then we'd put the eggs underneath her. You didn't put fourteen perfectly good eggs under a hen, then have her decide after a few days that she didn't really want a family that bad and have her leave the nest. The eggs would be spoiled and have to be thrown away. Well, this old hen persisted, we put nice fresh straw in the nest, marked fourteen eggs with blue carpenters chalk, and let the old hen crawl in. She'd take her beak and her feet to push the straw around making a little hollow in the center, she arranged the eggs in it. Dropping gently down on them, they would still not suit, so she'd poke her head around underneath herself, first on one side, then the other until they felt exactly right. Then spreading each wing out a little way from her body, she'd settle down for the long three weeks ahead of her.
Page 42

She would leave her nest just long enough to eat and drink and maybe go outside the hen house long enough to scratch around in the ground a bit. Always get back on the nest before the eggs would get cold. If they were allowed to get cold, they wouldn't hatch . When the little chickens began to appear, Ma (not me) would take them out of the nest, put them in a pasteboard box, tuck a cloth lightly over them, take them in the house until all the eggs were hatched. If she had left them in the nest, after the appearance of one or two chicks, old mother henwould be so proud and anxious to show them to the world, she might just leave her nest with them. Then the rest of the eggs would get cold and no more little ones. Pa had made several box like structures to house the hen and her tiny chicks. These looked like tiny houses, had a slanting roof over the top, the back and sides and floor were built solidly, but the front had slats across so the chicks could go In and out. Ma not me, again) would carry the old hen out and place her inside the little house then returning the baby chickens to her, she'd start clucking and the little chicks would run to her crawling underneath her feathers to keep warm. When the chickens were two or three days old, we let the hen out of her house part time. After getting the hen and her babies settled in their cozy little house, Ma told me to go clean out that nest, dispose of the eggs that didn't hatch and now were rotten, then put clean straw in. I didn't like this nasty job but went about it anyway. Soon finished everything but disposing of the rotten eggs. Three of them. Ma had said, toss them way back into the orchard and don't make a mess around the hen house. Gingerly, I pick up an egg, going just outside the door, closing my eyes, I gave that egg the hardest underhand toss I could. The thing landed in the apple tree right over my head, down it came PLOP, right at my feet. You'll have to imagine what happened next, for really I remember no more of the incident. I'll bet someone else finished my job. Guess I forgot to explain why Ma put the mark of blue chalk on her eggs under that old hen. Sometimes, another hen would decide they wanted to lay their eggs in that nest. 30 every night) when you gathered in the eggs, you had to lift that old settin hen up to check. If there was an egg with no blue mark on it, you knew that one was freshly laid, so you'd take it out of the nest. Modern incubators have been in use for a good many years, taking the place of my old "Settin' Hen".
Life At Lovell's
Arby's bout with the bees, comes to my mind right now, so I think I may as well start with that. Pa was not at home. Time - summer. Place - supper table. All six children seated in their proper places, Ma came to sit down, carrying a large plate covered with fresh hot biscuits. Conversation started in this order, (I think) . Ma, "Wish your pa was home, we would have honey for these biscuits". Arby, "I can get it for us." Ma, "I don't want you to try it. You'll get stung". Arby, "No, I won't, I've watched Pa get it, and I really know how". Ma, "Well, go ahead, if you think you can, but get Pa's hat with the veil. That will protect your head and face at least". Arby, "I don't need that I Pa never uses it! He just reaches inside the hive and pulls out a block of honey. The bees never pay any attention to him, so why would they bother me"?
Page 43

Off he goes with Ma and we five girls right behind him. Cocky Arby leads the parade. Now, the bee hives were at the edge of the garden, probably twenty five or thirty feet from the south side of our house. Bold as brass, Arby squats down and reaches inside the hive and removes the honey. Before he could even straighten up, those bees came out by the hundreds, swarming all over his face, neck any place they could see a bare spot to light. Arby started screaming at the top of his lungs, running as fast as his old long legs could carry him. Past the house, past the granary, on down the hill he ran to the horse tank, probably sixty or eighty yards from the hive. Tank was full of water, so Arby quickly ducked his head in to rinse the bees off. Now, I know this is no way to end a story. I'm sorry but I can remember no more. I would like to know as well as you, how Arby was affected, whether anyone had any supper, if they did, could they eat the honey, etc., etc. What do you expect of me, this happened before my Dad died, so it had to be at least eighty four years ago. Just thought of something I Suppose that was why Arby was bald at such an early age. Wish I could remember what Pa said and if the bees drowned. Whole thing is hilarious now but at that time a tragedy.
Sylvia's Easter Eggs
I've told you earlier in this history, every farmer raised chickens back then. This was a~•yearly custom in my family, at least. Don't know whether or not other people followed it, but we did. Two or three weeks before Easter Sunday, whoever did the nightly chore of gathering the eggs, would start snitching a few out each night and hiding them somewhere. Keeping the place a deeply guarded secret. On Easter morning, they would take a pail and get them, bringing them in for Ma to cook for our breakfast. When I say "they", I'm always referring to Mae, Arby, Sylvia, and Grace. I've told you before, Pearl and I were the LITTLE girls. THEY wouldn't think of trusting us with such an important thing as the hiding place of the Easter eggs. This year Sylvia insisted on gathering the eggs and wouldn't even tell the rest of the THEY'S where the hiding place was. Of course, every year my mother would pretend she didn't know what was going on" but kept saying to my dad, she couldn't understand why the hens were not laying as many eggs as usual. They had been laying so well, but were dropping off so suddenly. He'd go along with her and make believe he didn't know either. Usually, one or the other of them would know where the eggs were being hidden, but this year, Sylvia kept her secret well. Now, last fall before winter set in, my dad had made a frame about twelve or fourteen inches wide around the horse tank, filling the space with straw. This would keep the water in the tank from freezing. Sylvia decided in this straw, she would have a splendid place to hide her Easter eggs. Wonderful! No one would ever guess this one, they didn't either. But one day, the thing back fired on her. A few days before Easter, my father and Arby decided to remove that banking from around the horse tank. Said the weather was getting so mild, probably the water wouldn't freeze very hard, just maybe a thin scum, so they sat to work clearing the straw away.
Page 44

Sylvia, who was watching out the north windows, suddenly began crying, so hard my mother said she was actually sobbing. She finally stopped enough to tell my mother, the Easter eggs were in there. Later. my dad told her if he had known he would have left the straw in place until Easter morning. Ma sent Sylvia down with a pail to bring her eggs up to the house. Remember Ma telling, Sylvia had stashed away over one hundred eggs. No wonder she was heartbroken and no wonder Ma thought the hens were dropping off. Sylvia always thought so much of tradition. Every little thing meant so much to her. Sylvia, very special to each of us!
Myrtie the Moron
When you finish this article, I know you will all agree that Moron is a very fitting name for me and for once I would not argue. I can visualize this happening as though it were yesterday. Winter time, the family all at the table except me. I had been dancing around all over the place, telling everyon how I could hardly wait, I was so hungry. Ma's supper looked so good but as I was about to sit down Ma said, "No one filled the water pitcher, Myrtie take it outside and bring some fresh water in for supper". Filling the pitcher, I started to carry it inside, when suddenly I thought, "Here is my chance, no one will be coming out if I hurry. I'm going to see if this is true". Someone had told me if you stuck your tongue on a piece of iron in the winter time you couldn't pull it loose. The whole top of your tongue would stick fast to the iron. Deed and double, (as my Grandma Croy used to say). I knew better than that, it just wasn't true. Now, the pump handle was a nice clean bit of iron so I quickly put my tongue down on that. Jerking back up, looking at the pump handle, top of my tongue on it, I found it to be true. Casually walking back into the house with my pitcher of water, I took my place at the table. Refusing everything that came. My the questions soon began to fly and remarks like, "I thought you were so hungry", "this is so good, try it", etc. My mother saying, "you just must eat something", when all I wanted to do was get away from the whole bunch and cry. I could have screamed, it hurt so. Soon after supper, Sylvia asked me to go down the garden path to the little house. I said I'd go, she picked up the lantern to light our way and putting it down by our feet while we sat, it also threw off a little heat to keep us warm. Settling in for the duration, Sylvia said, "Now, Myrtie, you tell me what happened out at the pump to make you lose your appetite” “Promise me, Sylvia, if I tell you, you won't tell the others". She promised and she never told until we were back in the house, then she told the whole story. I can hear the laughter yet. After Ma got through laughing, she fixed me some warm milk. I did manage that. Now, I know it is true, but I had to prove it, didn't I? Still like to get to the bottom of everything.
Page 45

Myrtie the Moron
Sunday afternoon, the folks were gone to Dimondale to spend the week end with Ma's cousin, Rachel Smith, leaving Pearl and I at home this time with the older ones. Arby, probably getting bored, nothing to do, suggested to the older girls that they make some taffy. That should be fun. Said he wanted them to teach him how to pull it, he had always wanted to try. I don’t remember Mae being there. Probably spent the afternoon with a girl friend or maybe had a date with a boy friend. Anyway, the rest of us all headed for the kitchen and the fun began. Can't really tell you who did what, everyone was busy doing something, especially Pearl and I dancing around, getting in everyone’s way. The other three brought the maple syrup from the pantry, poured it into a large kettle, lit the little oil burning cook stove, set the kettle of syrup on the burner and the taffy was on its way. Nothing to do now except wait for the syrup to boil down. Oh, yes, you could butter three plates to turn the taffy on to cool. One for Arby, one for Sylvia, one for Grace. None for Pearl and I, again we get told, "You are just too little". We were big enough to enjoy smelling the aroma of that boiling maple syrup. Most delicious odor in the world At last, it is now time to turn the syrup onto the buttered plates to cool. Syrup has cooked long enough or so they thought. Checking every few minutes with their fingers, they finally decide it's cool enough to handle and we all start outside. A beautiful autumn day, sun shining brightly, we decide to go on the south side of the house. Arby was the first one to get his taffy off the plate to start pulling. Grace and Sylvia, when they tried to pick theirs up, discovered the syrup had not been cooked long enough. Telling Arby to put his back on the plate. He said it would be alright when he pulled it enough for the stuff to set, but that wasn't the way it worked. The heat of his hands and the warm sunshine made it softer and stickier than ever so he gave up finally. Tried to put the syrup back on the plate but most of it stuck on his hands. Asking the girls to take the spoon and scrape it back on to the plate, he was told that no way were they going to scrape his fingers then put the scrapings in with theirs to be cooked over. Go wash your hands. "No" Arby said, “Ma won't like it when she finds out we wasted all this syrup. I know what to do” Calling Pearl and I (the scape goats, always), he ordered us to start cleaning up his hands by licking it off. Always were told to mind the older ones and do as they said, so we started licking, Pearl on his right hand, me on his left. I can see all this so clearly, but as usual my memory has left me. It's frustrating not to know if they cooked the taffy over or if Arby helped to pull it. I'm certain of this, I'll bet Pearl and I didn't help eat it, if they did. Such a dirty trick that brother of mine played on us. I wish now I had nipped his fingers just a wee bit. My story is over, the day is gone, but as usual it was a fun day. Everyone happy.
Page 46

Chicken for Supper
I used to like to feed the young chickens in the fall of the year. Why wouldn't I, I had helped set the hens, take the little chicks out of the nests, and now they were nearly full grown. Almost ready for market. There was a bare spot down in front of the granary. I liked to scatter the wheat grain there, then I’d stand and watch them scratch around in the dirt for their supper.One night as I was feeding them, Ma came along, going to the barn to do chores. I called her attention to how fast they were growing. She agreed saying some of them are big enough to eat, like this one right here. There was one almost under my feet friend by his head, raised up, gave his body a flip, broke its neck, handed him to me saying, "Take him to the house and tell the girls to cook him for our supper". On she went to the barn. I knew she always killed a young chicken that way, but I had never seen her. Always before I had closed my eyes when she was about to show her dexterity. I was struck dumb, couldn't utter a sound, no one around to hear me anyway. I just stood there with the poor thing in my hand, then decided I better mind and do as she said, so I walked slowly to the house. The girls were delighted. saying, "Our first young chicken. Won't he taste good", we'll have mashed potatoes and so on and on for our supper. Presume I ate as much as anyone else but right that minute, I was very mad at my mother.
Distant Relatives
The first farm on the west side of the road north of Lakewood High School was owned, at one time by my father's aunt Diana Pickens. She lived there, a widow, with her two boys. Thomas and Charley, who married and brought his wife to live there, also. They had two children, a boy Orvin and a gir Coral. When these two were quite small Charley died. Soon after, his wife, Addie, remarried to another Pickens, Tommie, a cousin of Charley. Now, Tommie moved in, took over the farm and helped raise Charley's children. Aunt Diana and her other son, Thomas, had to move out. She asked my father to find them a place with a small acreage, so she could have her garden, a cow and always chickens. With a garden filled with vegetables, a cow to furnish milk and butter, chickens to provide you with eggs, once in awhile, a chicken dinner, then setting your hens, you might just have some young ones to sell in the fall. This would be practically their living. My father soon located the ideal spot, I've told you before, the twenty acres across from the Bismark Church and School house where Lloyd and Rose Steward now live. House just the right size, could have their garden, cow and chickens. Just one and three-fourth miles from us. Also Thomas would find plenty of work as a day laborer for the farmers. This is the thing that seems so ironic to me. Pa moved Aunt Diana close to him so he could take care of her when she grew old. He was the only relative she had here in Michigan. Pa died at the age of Fifty, Aunt Diana, one hundred and two.
Page 47

Time moves on. Of course Aunt Addie and Uncle Tommie, as we were taught to call them, were really not related to us in any way but Coral, and Orvin were. Their Grandmother, Aunt Diana, was a Lovell. We always called each other cousins but we really were third cousins. Coral and I were the same age, everyone said we looked more like sisters than distant cousins. We had been close friends all our lives when suddenly, at the age of sixteen, Coral became ill and died within a week. Don't remember what her illness was. Such a shock to everyone, Aunt Addie almost lost her mind with grief. In a short time, she began driving over to our home wanting me to go home with her for a few days, Ma would always say I could go, thinking perhaps it would help Aunt Addie adjust to the loss of Coral. One day she came for me and asked my mother if she could keep me, said "Ma had Grace and Pearl, and she had no one, Ma didn't need me but she did. etc." Of course you know the answer to that one and also I didn't go home with Aunt Addie that day. Later on, I did go once in awhile. It was so lonely there, no one my age. Can remember Sunday mornings, we always went in to Lake Odessa attending the Methodist Church there on main street. Orvin grew up, married, rented a farm about a mile from us. First farm west of Delwood Corners. on the north side. In fact, Ionia Road is the east boundary of it. My mother ,took care of Orvin's wife when their first son Claire was born and was probably there when Orlo came along. Orvin died there, his wife took their two sons and moved to Lake Odessa to be near her parents. So, Claire and Orlo Pickens, the Lake-O undertakers were distant relatives of the Lovells. I never knew them, don’t know whether they had children or not.
Another Chicken for Supper
Once on one of my visits to Aunt Addie's she said "I wish Orvin and Tommie weren't working over on the other place, I’d like a chicken for supper." A few minutes later she asked me if I supposed I could run one down. Now that was one thing I could do, run. We went outside, she pointed a chicken out to me, saying catch that one. No sooner said than done, handing the poor thing over to her, she now said "Get the axe, I'll hold it down for you while you chop its head off." "Me?" I answered, "I never killed a chicken in my life.. Then her answer came, "Neither have I, but if we're going to have chicken for supper one of us has to kill it." So she took the chickens legs in her left hand, laid the poor thing on a block of wood, grasped it by the head with her right, pulled its neck out straight and said "Now, kill it."
Page 48

Picking up the axe, I raised it over my shoulder and came down with a powerful blow, I thought, but it was just hard enough to start the blood a little. The rooster squawked, I screamed, threw the axe and ran for the house. Aunt Addie was on her own, a half killed chicken in her hand, nothing for her to do but pick up the axe and finish the job. Suppertime, it made a lot of sport for Orvin and Uncle Tommie. They sure enjoyed making fun of us. I didn't care, I never had. killed a chicken, I never was going to kill a chicken, up until now I never have. Now, I couldn't anyway, no one has chickens running around. You go to the market and buy them already killed, sometimes already cooked but, however, until you have tasted a freshly killed fowl, you never will know what a delicious treat it is. I really don't enjoy chicken any more.
Ma’s Discovery
One evening Ma and I were milking the cows outside in the barnyard. Oh, oh, now I hear someone say "Barnyard? What's a barnyard?" A barnyard was a huge pen built to enclose your animals at night. The long part of our barn run from the east to the west, covering about half the length of the enclosure. At the south east corner a fence was fastened directly to the barn, then extended east to the water tank, leaving this space for the animals to drink when they were shut in, beginning the fence on the other side, it extended east to the road, then north, probably a couple hundred feet or so, now back to the west until even with the lam at the west end, then south and fastened to the corner of the barn again. A large gate was in this last part, to enable a team and wagon to get in and out. Sliding doors on this side of the barn opened into the horse stable, the cow stalls and the sheep pen. You could let the animals in or turn them out again without leaving the barn. Hope you get the picture. I could draw it but how do you type a picture? Guess Ma and I better get the milking done, so we had just threshed our grain a few days before this. A huge, cone shaped stack of straw, thirty or forty foot high, was built about fifteen or twenty foot from the barn, directly in front of the stable doors. This straw would be used during the winter months to bed down the horses and cattle making them nice and cozy through the cold weather. We liked to milk our cows outside in summer so pleasant, air so nice and fresh, no stuffy barn odors.
Page 49

Just as we were getting up on our feet, after finishing the last two cows, Ma spotted a hen's nest about halfway to the top of that straw stack. She said “Look up there, the hens have stolen a nest in that straw. How will we ever get the eggs." I answered that I could easily climb up after them. She said "I couldn't, I'd fall, straw was so slippery" etc. I insisted that I could do it and I started climbing. Oat straw was especially slippery and so recently threshed, hadn't settled, the least bit, I would maybe get three or four feet up, then down I'd come. After trying several times and getting nowhere but down, I decided the east side was a little more slanting, I'd climb up that side to the top, then work myself down towards the hen's nest, pick up the eggs and come to the ground. Ma said "I'd fall" I said "I wouldn't" and up I went clear to the top without a back-slide. I started down and about the first step I took, the straw started sliding and I shot like out of a cannon clear to the ground. Traveling past that nest at a terrific speed, thinking I'd break my neck, my leg or maybe just an arm. I scrambled out of that pile of straw, thankful to be alive and unhurt. Do you want to know what that Mother of mine said “you never got the eggs!" Well, now, I liked that! I was thankful just to be alive and unhurt and all Mother could say was "You never got the eggs." Don't remember whether we ever did or not.
Ma Slides Down the Hill
I slid down a straws tack trying to gather eggs but my Mother slid down hill to feed the hogs. This could have happened any year between 1905 and 1909. Sylvia left home in 1905 and Grace in 1909. Grace t Ma, Pearl and I were living at home. One morning we awoke to find our world had changed overnight into one covered with ice. Limbs of the Evergreens in our front yard weighted down with ice, trees in the orchard behind the house covered, all roof tops, too, with huge icicles clinging to the edge. Just everything was covered, especially the ground leading down the hill to the barn. That was a glare of ice. Sun shining, though, made it all very sparkling and beautiful; but WE had chores to do. Ma and Grace picked up the pails and made it to the barn to milk the cows. Pearl and I watching from the north windows of the kitchen. Out at the east side of our dooryard, along the road, was a strip probably twenty-five or thirty feet wide covered with Cherry and a few Butternut trees. This was where the slope towards the barn began.
Page 50

Grace and Ma, walking very carefully, headed for this group of trees. Wasn't quite so icy at the end of the trees the ground leveled off and soon they were at the southeast corner of the barnyard. Clinging to the barnyard fence, they easily made it to the barn. Door right at this corner and they pop out of our sight. Soon Grace and Ma returned, each with a pail of milk in their hand. Neither one had fallen nor spilled a drop of milk. Ma said now if she could get the pail of swill down to the hogs without spilling it but she didn't know how she would ever do it. Grace said "Let me go" but Ma wouldn't allow that. Now the hog pen was built just west of the barn and the path down to this was even steeper than the other. Ma managed to get past the granary, a little more than half-way, sitting the pail down to rest a bit and plan her strategy, she came up with this idea. "That pail has a good strong bottom, I think if I set it between my knees, I could plant my feet firmly on each side and slide down this grade right to the hog-pen door. No sticks or stones sticking up that I can see, I'm going to try it." We girls, watching from the kitchen windows couldn't imagine what she intended do, when all at once she gave her skirts a hitch above her knees, squatted down, one foot on each side of that pail of swill, held on to the top edge with a hand on each side, gave the pail a little nudge and down she went directly to the door of the pen. Not a drop did she spill. The pigs had their drink, suppose they were happy and so was my Mother! She could always find a way out of a problem. Some way she would get the task done. Guess I'll try and give you a better idea of our home. It wasn't all up and down that hill I've written so much about. The house was built on the hilltop but to the north the ground sloped gently down towards the barn, then leveled off. Was perfectly flat when the barn and hog-house were built. Our farm and all others north of us were perfectly flat for miles and miles. Our farm, directly behind the house was level, that stretched through many farms west of us. Directly behind our house was our beautiful orchard. I wonder now if that wasn't the reason, Pa built the barn below the hill. Really no other place for it without sacrificing a lot of fruit trees. Maybe. now, I hope, you will get the picture a little better. One lazy summer afternoon, we girls were enjoying ourselves on the front porch doing nothing. When out of the quietness came this distress call from Ma. "Girls, the pig. are out! Orneriest animals anyone ever had on a farm. Now, cattle will form into a group and they are not hard to manage, but, pigs, you have to chase one at a time.
Page 51

They’ll go this way and that, maybe turn around and come right towards you.Chasing them finally back into the hog lot, we are grunting as hard as the pigs; we find they have broken the big gate (maybe ten feet long) completely down. We will need a hammer and some nails, Pearl goes to the granary for them Grace and I try straightening the gate back up. Now, the top board had been nailed, with the flat side down, to the end posts. Grace pulled one end up, boards all in place, I pulled up the other post. Boards all in place here excepting my end of the top one. When I straightened my end of the gate and set the post in the proper place, that board being fastened at the other end, just swung around and set itself into its proper place. The nail was still in the board so it settled right down in the original hole. Good! Gates all back together, no problem, we'll just add Some more nails to make it stronger then we can go back to the house and relax after our long hot chase." Wait a minute, just one small problem. I am nailed fast to the gate. I had placed my hand fiat down on top of the post, when the board flew back of Its own accord, that old nail went right through my hand. Just about an inch down from the base of my third and my little finger on my right hand. Grace screamed and cried but pushed the board up and released my hand. Nail went right between the bones of those two fingers, never even drawing a drop of blood. Never, hurt at all. Ma had me soak it in Epsom Salts water, then put her favorite remedy, turpentine, on it, then covered my hand with a bandage. All of this was not necessary, nothing to bandage. A little round hole in my hand was all you could see. The scar was plainly seen for years, but no more. Can’t prove it without the scar. I assure you it really happened.
My Mother told me, when I began learning to walk, I humped my shoulders up in such a peculiar way, that my father began calling me "Hump" and he never even then called me, Myrtie. I was always "Hump" to him. Just once in my life. I can remember him saying Myrtie. That was because I was disobeying him. At the dinner table that day my father said he was going to get feed ground for the pigs and wanted me to come out and hold the bags for him to put the grain in. I said I would, then I finished my dinner before he did and I slipped upstairs. I was reading a book, as usual, and I very much wanted to finish it before having to help Pa. Thought if I read real fast, I could make it, just a few more pages.
Page 52

At the head of the stairs there was a west window and through this I could see the granary door. I settled down on the top step, picked up my book and proceeded to read. Had one eye on the book the other one glancing now and then toward the granary. Now, I saw my Dad when he went out to work, also heard him call "Hump"." Just two more pages, I thought, I can't stop now so I kept on reading. All this time, I didn't realize he could see me just as well as I did him. Calling out "Hump" the second time, I didn't move but the third call was MYRTIE in no uncertain voice. It really meant move and move I did. I was so frightened, I threw my book and down those stairs I went. Maybe he'd spank me although he never had, but I knew I deserved one. You know what happened. I walked into that granary, never a word did he say, just handed me a bag and began shoveling the grain. Pa never called me Myrtie again that I remember. He never had to in that tone of voice, I learned my lesson.
Rufus, Arby’s Nickname For Me
I was always reading to the older ones. This day, I lay flat on the floor with a book laid out in front of me, entertaining Sylvia, who was busy ironing. My story was about a certain boy whose name was Rufus Roughwig. I didn't know how to pronounce those big words, so I asked Sylvia, Rufus Row-wig. Giving the letter u the sound as in up instead of just plain u. Arby came into the room where we were and sat down to listen. Well, that boy's name soon came up in the story. Arby said for me to let him see but he thought I was mis-pronouncing that name. I said I wasn't because Sylvia told me how. He answered, "She probably didn't know how herself." Sylvia said she did too know how, she was just playing a trick on me, knowing how badly I felt over mis-pronouncing a word. They bantered back and forth awhile, then Arby said "Guess I'll call her Rufus, then she'll never forget how to pronounce it. From that day on, the rest of Arby's life, I was Rufus to him. No one else called me that. I always thought Sylvia deserved the name but Mae, Arby, Sylvia, and Grace were never nicknamed.
Jim Cramer
One, cold, fall day, my Mother was husking corn. Guess I better back up and tell you the primitive way of harvesting corn for already I can hear you asking "What did you say your Mother was doing?" I'll try to explain. Remember, in the beginning of my story, I told you how evenly the rows of corn were planted, now it's fall and time to cut it down so it can be husked. There was a real pattern to this. A perfect square was blocked off by counting eight or maybe ten (I'm not certain) rows each way. Then going to the very center of the block, you'd tie the tops of about four hills together to start your shock of corn. Then with a hand corn knife, you grasped the top of each stalk in one hand, then cut it loose from the ground about six inches up. The stalks were then carried to the center where the four stalks were tied together. You sort of pushed the cut ends into the
Page 53

ground, then leaned them up against the center. When the whole block was cut and stacked, the tops were pulled together and tied. This made what was called a shock of corn, looking much like the tepee of an Indian. It was a beautiful sight when the field was all cut down and shocked, to see those "Tepees" placed so evenly over the ground. The corn was then left standing in the shocks to ripen and kernels to harden on the ears. Next step was the husking. The shock was laid over flat on the ground. Had to take a corn knife and cut down the center stalks. A little contraption called a husking-peg was used to pull the husks from the ears of corn. This gadget was a steel blade, about four inches long and maybe an inch wide with a hooked end. You grasped this firmly across the palm of your hand, the hooked end protruding out between your thumb and finger. With the exception of the hook, the rest was padded with leather to protect your hand. also had straps to fasten it on firmly. Now, you are all ready to attack that great mound of corn stalks. Squatting down using your heels to sit on, you reach over and pull a stalk toward you. Now using the husking-peg, pull off the husks, give the ear a little twist and jerk, then toss it on the ground. Pushing the husked stack to the back of the pile, you grab the next one then repeat until you have the whole shock done. Now, let's see, if that block was ten hills on each side there would be one-hundred stalks of corn. This is just one block and maybe there's ten or fifteen acres. The husked corn has to be picked up from the ground, loaded onto a wagon, hauled to the corn crib up by the barn, then unloaded into the crib. Think of the changes I have seen in just this one thing, A corn binder came first, but still you had to shock it. Huge corn huskers, run by a steam engine, combines, can't exactly tell them all but up to the present way. So easy now. I have seen my Mother after my Father died, go out and help Arby husk corn when snow was on the ground and sometimes storming. Now I'll get back to the nickname Jim Cramer. As my Mother husked the corn, she would give the ear a toss on the ground and I was supposed to keep them picked up; placing them in a basket for Arby to empty into the wagon later. A few times I would find one or two husks left on the ear, just the inside ones that probably were not quite dry enough to snap off. Really made no difference because they dried up and dropped off later, but I told Ma she was not husking that corn right. She asked me what she was doing wrong and I said "You're not doing it like Pa does." She answered "So, how does your Father do it?" I informed her he didn't leave any husks like these hanging on his ears. I was still just standing there looking at that ear of corn when she said "Oh, you are just like old Jim Cramer, always standing around doing nothing. Just telling other folks the way it should be done." Jim Cramer was a man she knew in her "beloved Woodland" who did just that. He was lazier than a pet coon to hear Ma tell it.
Page 54

Of course, as usual, everyone gathered around the table at noon was told that story. Everyone, excepting me, enjoyed it. From that time on, I was called Jim Cramer, sometimes Cramer but mostly just plain Jim. My Mother called me Jimmy. My brothers-in-law Fred Clay, Chas. Collier and Johnnie Welch never called me Myrtie, it was always Jim. Pearl’s Nickname “Pete”Arby told me years ago how this came about. Pearl had a toy wagon, on the side of which was written two words, “Little Pete". 0ne day Arby, Pa, and a man who was working for them sat waiting for Ma and the girls to get dinner on the table. The hired man was playing with Pearl and he asked her what those words were on her wagon. Arby said Pearl shook her head "No". The guy then told Pearl "It says Little Pete". From then on Pearl became Little Pete, Peter or just plain Pete. Of course Fred, Chas, and Johnnie never called her anything else either. Never could understand really why I had so many, Pearl had only one and the other four none. Since I've written them down, I guess maybe I deserved everyone of them. Beautiful morning. Beautiful tree loaded with red cherries, glistening in the sunshine. I'm so happy, I hop, skip and jump along like a frisky young colt alongside sedate Mae, who has asked me to, help her pick cherries. At last someone has realized I'm beginning to grow up like the rest. I'l l show them today I I'm really quite dependable Quite a large, tall tree, so Mae has brought a ladder down with her, which she now sits up in the tree. Before mounting the ladder, she hands me a little pail, saying "You can reach enough cherries to fill this, standing on the ground" and up the ladder she goes to have all the fun. Grown-ups! This tiny little pail for a big girl like me! Stand on the ground, not me, I soon tire of that. Looking up, I see lots of cherries I could pick by climbing into the tree. Up I go, Mae not telling me I couldn't. Cherries all around me now. I start picking them. They look so delicious, guess I'll eat one or two, so tasty, one or two calls for more, besides it's fun to spit the seeds. Wonder how far I can spit them, bet I can spit a cherry seed farther than anyone in the family, wonder how far Mae could spit a cherry pit, guess I'll ask her. No I better not she would just tell me it was very unlady-like to spit anything. On and on my thoughts keep rambling until they are interrupted by a call from Mal "Girls, dinner is ready." By this time I have really worked myself up into the top of the tree. Thinking I would climb to the ladder and get down that way. About that time Mae is on the ground and so is the ladder. I yell at her "Don't take away the ladder, I need it. I can't get
Page 55

down from here, I'm hungry." This was her answer to that: "You climbed up there, now climb down the same way. You can't possibly be hungry, you've done nothing all morning except eat cherries and spit seeds." With that she left me "up a tree". I got down, I had too, done something and I could prove it. The bottom of my little pail being almost covered with cherries. Now the usual thing has happened, I simply can't remember any more of this day, so my story ends. One thing I am quite certain didn't happen. Mae didn't tell of my "shenanigans" the minute she stepped in the house. If she had, I would have been laughed at, someone would probably nick name me the great cherry picker. Mae really didn't care for the way the other ones picked on Pearl and I. Think I'll write next about my grown-up sister.
My Sister Mae
Nancy Mae Lovell born, Oct. 10, 1877, in McComb, Ohio. Nancy was our Grandmother Lovell's name. Mae, thirteen years older than I, twenty-four when our Father died, had black hair and eyes to match. About my height, maybe five foot five or six inches, never very heavy, don’t believe she ever weighed more than 130 or 135 pounds. Rather a quiet, reserved sort of person but fun-loving like the rest of us. Such a dependable sort of person and always a willing helper of our mother. Took so much responsibility in caring for the younger ones, especially Pearl and I. She was our second Mother. Mae did most of the sewing for the family. One time, I remember, she was making a dress for me. All finished except turning up the hem, she called me in from my very important play, telling me to remove my play togs and get into my new dress. Ordinarily, I would have been pleased about the whole thing: but today my playtime had been disrupted. I didn't want to but did as I was told. Mae sat on the floor, a saucer of pins in her lap, and began turning up the front of my skirt. Such a terribly, hot, humid summer day. Top of her blouse was wet through with perspiration. Her face was dripping like she'd been out in the rain, hands so sticky, she could scarcely' pick up the pins; but she began on the back of my skirt. I had my back turned towards her and I informed her I wanted to play and for her to hurry the thing up. No response came for a minute, then she reached up, taking hold of me by the waist, turned me around, looking me right in the face, said "I believe if I'm willing to work on this dress for you on this hot day, you should at least be willing to just stand still while I do it." She never really scolded me, but always with a few well put words, Mae could make me feel like a worm. This hot day, I was so ashamed I think I felt like two worms, one wooly and the other smooth.
Page 56

Mae's Marriage
Mae was married in October of 1901. Salle year our Father died in May. Fred Clay was her husband's name. Not a local man, Mae met him when she taught the Gunnel School out by Parma. I believe Mae boarded at Fred's parents home. You see I was just eleven years old when she was married and I'm going to skip details because I just don't remember. Mae taught out there two or maybe three years. Fred used to come to see her during vacations, always having to stay the week-end, too far to drive a horse in one day. That way, we became well acquainted long before they married. Everyone liked him. Especially the little girls, Pearl and I. Mae taught her last year at the Patterson School just a mile south of us. She left Gunnel so she could spend her last year at home. I often think how happy she must have been over that decision: We were all home together the last year of our Father's life. Wonderful memories of a happy family. On November 18,1902, Mae and Fred's first baby was born. A boy whom they named Morrison LeGrand, choosing the name of a favorite Uncle, Eli Morrison, married to Pats youngest sister, Emma, and the LeGrand was Pats name. What an event that was! Nothing so thrilling to the Lovell sisters had ever happened before. We wanted the whole world to know, could hardly wait to get to school the next day, to brag and "strut our stuff". No one in the whole Bismark School had a married brother or sister. Just us! Most important people on earth! We had a nephew! We were now Aunt Grace, Aunt Myrtie and Aunt Pearl. Yes, Aunt Grace, who was always telling Pearl and I how much older and wiser she was than we, came right down to our level and bragged just as much as we "Little Girls". Fred and Mae were living with his parents at that time and I believe Ma went out to help Mrs. Clay. We nearly lost our big sister and it was several weeks before she was able to come home. Too far fo r her to ride in a buggy. Dr. said she could come by train to Vermontville just four and 1/4 miles from our house. Sylvia met her there and brought her on home. Now, I wonder, who saw Morrison first? Of course, no other but me. I saw them coming up the hill, darting out of the house, I met them just as they were turning into the driveway. Before Sylvia could even stop the horse, I had jumped up on the buggy step, right between the moving wheels and almost into Mae's lap. I remember she said "Well, couldn't you at least wait until I got out!" Trying to sound a little disgusted with me, but with a half smile on, her face, I knew she was as anxious to show Morrison off as I was to see him. Fred came later in the day driving their horse on the buggy. Mae came home so Ma and Sylvia could help her with her baby but Fred came with the idea of renting a farm nearby home. Luck was with him. A nice farm, with a tenant house, just south to Rawson's corners, then east first house on the north side was available. They rented it and soon were living just around the corner from us. Everyone was so happy. Almost like having Mae home again. Close by so we could help her if she needed us and visit her probably when she didn't.
Page 57

The only thing I really remember about that house was the big window in the front. I thought that was wonderful, all our windows were small. Mae loved flowers and plants and could always make them grow most any place even in this. Fred made her a window box just right to sit in front of that big south window. They filled it with soil and Mae sowed (of all things) Climbing Nasturtium seed! Ma told her they wouldn't amount to anything, they were never meant to grow inside a house. Ma was wrong, that was the most beautiful sight all that winter. They vined. Mae strung cords up to the top of the window. Soon they reached the top, next started blossoming. Mae had bouquets to give away to everyone who came. Ilene, the second thrill in my life was born Jan. 20, 1905, on the old home place. Leta, Mae's third child was born Apr. 24, 1907. I &II not certain rot I think she was born on our farm, too. later Fred and Mae moved to Charlotte, lived on a rented farm for awhile, then bought the pretty place with the brick house, just south of the fairgrounds in Charlotte. That was Mae's home until her death, June 28, 1959. Fred lived there until his death in Apr. 15, 1960. After his parents died, Morrison and his wife Sara Ledyard, purchased the family home. Sara was killed in an automobile accident, dying on Nov. 3, 1969. Morrison then lived there alone until his death Oct. 14, 1977. Not many left in Mae and Fred's family. Just, Ilene, who married Ted Lee, now deceased and Leta, married James Pasco, now deceased. Morrison's daughter Shirley and her two sons and Judy (Ilene's daughter) with her four children are the only ones left besides Ilene and Leta. All so very precious to me.
Tale Of The Pigtails
Dr. Snelll Not only a Dr. in Vermontville and the surrounding vicinity; but a real friend to everyone in the Community. One of my Dad's special friends, mine too. Dr. had a daughter, Norena, a deaf mute. Sometimes, if Pa was not going to be in town very long, he'd allow me to go with him, dropping me off at Dr. Snells to play with Norena while he went to take care of whatever business he had, stopping by to pick me up on his way home. Their house was just at the north edge of Main Street. Norena was older than I; rot she liked small children. Would bring out her dolls, or maybe some books to entertain me.
Page 58

This day, Dr. Snell came out of his office to talk to me. Asked what my Dad was doing. I told him he butchered two hogs the day before. Dr. said "What did he do with the pig-tails?" I answered "He threw them away." "Threw them away! That's a terrible thing to do. Doesn't he know pig-tails make delicious soup, my favorite. When he butchers again remember to bring them to me. Will you?" I promised I would and told Pa on the way home. I remember how he laughed but he said "We will do just that. Help me to think of it." Next time we butchered, Pa brought the tails in the house for me. Said "Wrap these up for Dr. Snell, I'm going up town and you can go take ,them to him.” I dId, the Dr. thanked me kindly, asked me if I wanted him to save me some of the soup, but I said "No" real quick like. I was rewarded for the gift, though. Sometime later, he drove into our yard, lifted out a small crate and handed it to me, saying "He enjoyed the soup so much he wanted to give me something. In that crate was a beautiful pair of snow-white-fantailed pigeons. I was a happy little girl. Later, I would want to take Dr. Snell the pigtails every time we butchered but my folks said he didn't really make soup out of them, it was just a joke, but I didn't believe them.
Dr. Snell
One summer Arby was very, very ill with some kind of fever. I remember a bed was moved into our parlor, placed in the center of the room, better air circulation and plenty of room to get around him. Dr. Snell came every day, ordered medicine every hour, on the hour, night and day. The neighbors were so kind. They took turns coming in to help Ma and the older girls. Someone would always stay overnight so Ma could get some rest. No hospitals back in those days. You took care' of your own sick person. I presume maybe in the large cities there might have been hospitals. Arby grew worse every day, sometimes delirious and a little hard to handle. Later on he just laid there rousing up only for his medicine and I suppose a little food. Don't really remember that. Dr. Snell had told them when Arby's fever broke, whether it was night or day they must notify him immediately. It happened one afternoon, and the rest of this I do remember clearly. I was out in the door-yard on the south side of the house and saw Dr. Snell when he was at the corners a quarter of a mile south. Now, Dr. Snell had a span of small, bay driving horses. Always drove the two of them, roads were sandy, muddy at times or frozen and snow covered, most too hard for one horse. Especially, being on the road every day. for a Dr. made house calls wherever and whenever he was needed. What a sight I saw that day as he came closer. The Dr. was standing up in the buggy urging his horses on by flapping the lines across their backs. He had run those horses every step of the four and a quarter miles from Vermontville to our house. Tossing the lines to someone (I presume it was my Dad) the Dr. grabbed his little’ black bag, and was soon inside with Arby, staying the rest of that afternoon, on through the night. In the morning he reported, "The Crisis is over, now all he needs is rest and good care. He'll soon be good as new." This
Page 59

was certainly a heavenly message to a little girl, who adored her only brother. This thought just popped into my mind. I'll bet no winning race horses at the tracks ever received more efficient, loving treatment than Dr. Snell's little bays at the hands of my Dad. After all they had just won an important race against life or death. Dr. Snell! A true friend of the Community.
Cutter Ride With my Dad
I always loved going places, didn't matter where. with my Dad. Just the two of us, he was all mine. no one I had to share him with. This particular morning at the breakfast table, he told my Mother he had to go to Woodland. Of course, I was excited and thought wish I could go, Woodland. I don't get there very often, on and on went my thoughts. Now, any of the others, would have blurted right out "Can I go with you?" not me, I just hated having to ask for anything, especially such a favor as this. (Never did and still don't like having to ask for anything.) I had my own special way. I'd wait until Pa left to go harness his horse, then sneaking up to Ma, would whisper to her. "You care if I go with Pa" always the same answers "I don't care, it's whatever your Father says." Down that hill I'd race, pulling up short at the barn door, standing just inside, my Father never even looking at me, watching him place one piece of the harness after another until he started to take the bridle down off its peg, That was the final act, so it was now or never. Finally out of my dry mouth would at last come "Pa. can I go with you?" Always the same the answer: " I don't care, it's just as your Mother says." . Before the words have all come from his mouth. I'm gone, racing up the hill, bounding into the kitchen saying "He said just as you say." Then my Mother would sp utter at me, (can't say I blame her) "I don't care but I wish you would ask when you should, never have time to get you ready properly, come here while I comb your hair, etc., etc , until I see Pa driving up from the barn. Some way she always finishes in time. This morning is very cold and I am bundled up like a mummy as I go out to the cutter to climb in. Pa reaches over to tuck the blankets in around me. Our cutter is what they called a Swell-box painted a bright red. Not quite as big as the box-like ones but much lighter and prettier. We are on Our way, out the driveway , north down the hill, red cutter glistening, sun: shining on the snow, sleigh bells jingling such a pretty song, everything just perfect. I'm going to Woodland all alone with my Dad. Now, I would like to tell you some more about my ride but I can remember nothing after coming down that hill at home. Must have gone the whole way just floating along, in my cutter on top of "cloud nine" until I came back to reality. We had been to Woodland, although I don't remember about it for here we where at Kilpatrick Church., halfway on our way home.
Page 60

You are here: Myteries Memories Pages 31 - 60
Click to return to the Croy Family Stories Page

Our Policy:
We do not pass along or sell any visitor information. We extend the same courtesy to all who link to our pages.

Page design by by K C Consulting. Banners, link header bars, and pictures are property of, and designed by, K C Consulting. All other graphics and sounds are: Public Domain (Freebies), or granted by permission, and/or site links.
If anyone finds this to be incorrect, please advise me by E-Mail: K C's E-Mail