Stanley Christian Nelson Autobiography
Contributor: afoley Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
Stanley Christian Nelson -
I was born on November 25, 1895 to Andrew Nelson, Jr. and Anna Lorentzen Nelson. My sister Ethel Milligan tells me it was a bright frosty morning with about ten inches of snow glittering in the sunlight. Ethel said Pa took my next older sister who was two years older up on his shoulders and off on a trail through the sagebrush to Aunt Emma's house. Aunt Emma was Pa's only full sister. Ethel said she tried to step in Pa's tracks so she would not get wet. The tracks were big, but far apart for Ethel.
Whenever a baby was born the younger children were always taken to the neighbor's house. Sister John Soderquist delivered me into this world. I was a special baby in that I was her first baby delivered after she received her nursing diploma.
1.0 Early Recollections
I remember watching my sister four years younger than I as mother held her in her arms while nursing her. I was standing by mother's side, and Limde turned her big blue eyes to look at me and kept right on nursing.
Then on the north side of the house in the shade of those big cottonwood trees I would play with empty spools that mother had used all the thread. I made roads along the edge of the foundation. I traveled miles and miles up dugways down hills, up the canyon, and back. Down to our meadow in Molen, etc. were part of my imaginary trips.
Another scene that comes to my mind is the pole fence that ran from the lane that enters the back yard and came down to the kitchen. There was a big porch there near the kitchen door. My pet, Spence, and I played on this porch often.
My sister, Ethel, told me they often found me peering between the poles in the fence. When asked what I was doing I would answer, "Looking for Old Gob." Old Gob, the big turkey gobbler often led me around by one of my fingers until someone found me and freed me. I remember on cold spring days when the wind blew it would whip up little gravel around the comer of the kitchen. Then Spence and I would move back in the corner on the porch. I would lie on him to keep warm.
Another scene that comes to mind is a small stream of water running by the house. Pa was watering some special little fruit trees along the path leading down to the "Little House", our outside toilet, and I thought I would like to make a little farm along the path. So I marked off a little farm with furrows and all using my finger. I had been cautioned several times not to tamper with Pa's water. Both by Pa and Ma. But somehow I felt the urge to have a miniature farm all my own. I must have gone away and left the water running and I hid all but my ears from Pa. Because Pa was very angry and I remember he pulled my ears until I think they were as long as a yearling jackass.
They tell some pretty wild stories about Spence and I. Some of them happened before I was old enough to remember, so I cannot prove whether they are correct or not. My cousin Jennie Lemon McDonald told a group that I had put a partial upper plate of my father's in Spence's mouth to see how
he would look. But I'm not sure, perhaps it was one that he had discarded. Anyhow, I don't think Dad could tell who had been using them if they were that handy to get hold of.
2.0 My Pa and I
My mother had bought me some new shoes so I could run through the brush and cockle burrs without hurting my feet. I had gone around the cows and driven them away from the wheat or oat field and then went back to the King Ditch, an irrigation canal that ran through our farm. I was wading in the ditch with shoes and overalls on. Then I sat down on the bank to dry my clothes and shoes. The water in the canal was running high to the top of the bank. Suddenly I felt something from behind give me a push and down the stream I splashed and floated. Every time I came up my Pa pushed me down again. This went on for several yards until my Pa could see I needed some air instead of water. I grabbed hold of some brush and willows on the bank and pulled myself out onto the bank. My Pa came over to me and tried to show me how I was ruining my new shoes by getting them soaking wet and then drying them out. Shoe money was hard to get then. In fact, Ma bought them with butter and eggs she had collected. Another time I went to town with Pa in our new Peter Schuttler wagon box. He was driving a bay stallion we called Conductor and a bay mare we called Betsy. They were both Hamiltonian stock and fast travelers. On this trip it was Pa's duty to pay the school teachers, as he was on the Ferron School board.
I can see him now standing at the back of the new wagon with his hat (big white felt) turned upside down on the floor of the wagon box. He was pulling big silver dollars out of his new Levi Strauss overall pockets and counting them into his hat. The school teacher was standing by his side waiting for her pay. I remember her so well. She was Lilly (Lillian) Allred, my second grade teacher. Another incident with my Pa was in the fall of the year. Pa and John Lemon (Uncle John) were loaded with five gallon cans of honey. I think each wagon could hold 48 cans. Father had lots of bees and I think Uncle John was helping him deliver his honey to the railroad in Price, Utah. This was a two-day trip with much dust, hills, and chuck holes. Pa didn't have any cover on his wagon so he let me ride with Uncle John, who had a wagon cover. It kept the sun and dust off a little better. I remember the second day as we left the 4 mile hill south of Price. I could see a row of tall poles with wires strung on top. Finally I said to Uncle John, "How do they get their clothes way up there?" Uncle John always laughed and reminded me of that when I grew up.
He also told me how I kept coming up to the front of the wagon and looking out. Of course I wanted to see everything new and the cover was fastened down tight all around except in front.
I remember he had told me to get back so many, many times. Finally he said, "Damn your little skin get back. You make me nervous." Uncle John said I had stayed back for a long time and finally I said to him, "Uncle John, are you nerbus now?"
These trips to Price were very exciting. Especially when that big iron horse came snorting, blowing steam all over as he pulled that long string of cars and whistled shrilly as it crossed the wagon road.
We always built a campfire and cooked our own meals on these trips, spread our quilts on the ground, and slept under the stars. Some of the camp grounds were used so much that the horse manure got quite deep. As long as it was dry we didn't mind. But when it rained it was bad.
There was no water between towns, so we had to stop when there was water. The water at Miller Creek was alkali and some of the horses would not drink it.
Pa loved his children very much and we knew it. And we loved him.
Our evenings during the long winter were enjoyable. Pa would laugh and joke with us and also counsel us to be truthful and honest in our dealings. Pa didn't like lazy people and especially those unscrupulous in business.
Ethel told me that one evening father was talking to a Swend Ross from Ephraim, Utah who was painting our new house and our honey house. They were in Pa's bedroom. Pa sometimes used this room as his study or reading room. It had a small cast iron stove with a little round opening in the door to regulate the draft. By turning the little wheel it would open or close as you wished. I was playing with a little willow I guess Pa used to spank me with. Anyway, I was putting it through this opening in the stove door and getting a red coal on the end. I had done this several times when Pa said, "Better keep an eye on that kid. He may touch you with that red hot willow." "Oh, no," said Swend the painter. "He's too young for dat." But as time went on they fell into a conversation again and I continued to play in the stove with my willow. All at once Swend, the painter, leaped off his chair into the air with a big whoop. I disappeared into the next room. I guess Swend would still be going up yet if it hadn't been for the ceiling. They both had a good hard laugh and Pa said, "I told you to keep an eye on him."
Another time Pa and I had a little run-in. It was the custom at the barnyard for the youngest to carry the straw into the stable to bed the cows and horses. We usually had six or eight horses and that many cows and calves to bed down.
We had come home from school and Jess, my brother just older than I, had started to do the chores. Jess was putting the hay in the mangers and I was bedding them down, but we usually had to stop to wrestle a little to see if my brother really was the stronger. This night Pa happened to come out to help us and see if everything was taken care of, when he saw us wrestling. I remember the cap was brushed off of Jess' head as he ran by, but he booted me in the seat of the pants. When I came back into the stable with a fork full of straw he was hopping around on one foot and holding the other one in his hand. He had bent his toe pretty bad, I guess. Pa always wore a high top felt boot inside a soft rubber shoe which was not suitable for booting kids in the pants.
3.0 School Days
My first year of school was a real task for me. I remember my first grade teacher, Ada Williams, she later became Mrs. Will Pettey of Emery. She had a big chart about three feet by four feet that stood on a pedestal and as we finished reading or looking at one side, she could tum it over and we could see the next side. To this day I can't tell you what was on that chart. It may have been pies cut to show fractions or pictures of birds and boys or animals to teach us words. I can't remember. I do remember an arithmetic book that had columns and columns of fractions. As long as I was in the first grade I didn't know what that meant. But Dewelyn Wrigly, who was older than I, could recite them off as fast as he could talk.
One thing I did remember though was a song we learned. I sang it to my little grandson, Chris. "Come little leaves said the wind one day, come o'er the meadows with me and play, Put on your dresses of red and gold for summer has gone and the days grow cold." Yes, the leaves they played a big part in my first grade playground activity.
The little girls had to be in this to make it fun and exciting. We played along the sidewalk in front of the school and across the street in front of the old Dave Killpack store. The girls marked off a space that represented their home and the boys would go up the walk thirty or forty yards and mark off a home. Of course we piled leaves up high enough so we could crawl in and out of sight. We would hide there until the girls came hoppity, skip, hoppity skip up past our home made of leaves and at just the right moment we would jump out growling at them. What a screaming, chattering race we had to catch them before they reached their homes. Of course each little boy tried to catch the little girl he liked best.
Some of the girls I remember were: Jennie Lemon, Crystal Nelson, Ione Stevens, Kate Worthen, Myrtle Thompson, etc. Boys were: McLloyd Killpack, Ray Ralphs, Hugh Jones, Johnnie Thomas and Joe Meyers. Now you see what was important to me in the first grade.
Another thing I remember about my first grade was the little pencils I used to lose almost every day. Usually in later years the teacher gathered the pencils each evening and then gave them to us the next morning. Pa would give me a little stub pencil each morning and say to me, "Now bring my pencil home to me tonight." But I usually lost it while playing on my way home.
The land north of Dean Pettey's home now was rolling sand hills and grease wood brush. We would cut across from Carl Larsen's home over through those grease woods and sand hills to Uncle Hyrum's old home. And at night on my way home those sand hills were the most fun to play in and that's where that little stub pencil was usually lost.
Some of our activities on the school ground were: wrestling, foot-in-a-halfs, hopscotch, old sow. A game of marbles--one called "fats", another "drop eye" and the girls played a game of marbles called "jacks".
This game "old sow" was quite rough and at times dangerous. The game was played with each player having a strong, sturdy club four or five feet long. A large circle was marked off so as to accommodate eight or ten players. Then a player called "it" would dig a hole in the center of the circle. A can was placed in this hole. The object of the game was to get someone in the circle to knock this can out of the circle and get back to his place in the circle before "it" stole his place. If you lost your place then you became "it". As long as you kept the can in the center hole, the players around the circle could not hit the can. "It" could move the can out of the hole with his club a little just to dare someone to try and knock it out of the circle. And as soon as you raised your club to hit the can "it" could try to get to your place in the circle before you did.
My sister, Mildred, just older than I by two and a half years came home from school with a black eye and her face scratched and bruised. Ma looked at her and said, "Mildred, what in the world happened to you today?" Mildred replied, "Oh, we were playing 'Old Sow' and Jeanette Wayman fell on top of me." Sometimes you could get hit on the shins or on the knuckles. It was something like our hockey game we play on ice today.
The game "foot-in-a-half" was something like Leap Frog. Eight or ten boys or less usually played this game by running and leaping as far as you could from the spring board. The boy who jumped the shortest distance from the springboard was "it" or had to go out a step or two and stoop over and all would jump or leap over him. If all jumped over then they would move the boy "it" out far enough so the leader would have to take one step from the springboard and then over. If all went over without any extra step, then the leader moved the boy "it" out a little farther and so on. As you jumped over the boy "it", you were allowed to put both hands on his back to spring over his back. Sometimes when you leaped a long distance this was hard on the back, especially if the boy jumping was heavier than you.
I was a good wrestler because I moved quickly and took the hold and I could throw my opponent. This was "catches catch can" meaning you could take any hold except a strangle hold. I was the best wrestler in my class and could outrun anyone in my class. Hugh Jones chose me for his race horse. He was my jockey. He would run races with other boys. The only bad thing about it is I had to pull him along with me. Sometimes when he matched me with a fast runner, he would run along as far as he could and then he would let go of the string he had on my arm and I would finish the race without a jockey.
Sanitation around the school and school yard was not good. The school and a cement cistern were on the grounds. Each room would draw a pail of water for drinking during the day. The galvanized bucket was placed on a box in the comer of the room near the teacher's desk. A tin cup with a string tied to it kept the cup from being taken away. Having the bucket near the teacher's desk helped him to control the number of times you went for a drink. I remember one boy had big crooked teeth and slobbered when he talked. I always tried to get my drink before he did.
The outside toilets except the girls' were always in bad shape. When a group of younger boys went to the toilet or outhouse as we called it, the older boys would try and see how many times they could hit the outhouse with rocks before the little kids came out. As a result, it was broken and used for a carving stand and sometimes they would burn holes in the floor. Some of the older boys that did some of these rough acts were: Clell Cox, Joe Cook, Areal Jensen, Lime Burdick, Earl Cook, Howard Stringham. Boy we had to walk the straight and narrow when this gang came around.
4.0 More School Days - Ferron Utah
When I was a fourth grader I attended the Mission School conducted by the Presbyterian Church. They converted the old Wyatt Bryan building, which at one time had been a mercantile store, plus a recreation room or pool hall, and the entire upper floor was a dance hall.
On the upper floor leading outside was a large balcony where the large school bell was hung. A rope extended down through the floor so that the bell could be rung from the first floor. The dance hall was divided off into classrooms.
My teacher was Laura Bell Stambough. She was a well-educated girl from Clinton, Iowa. I guess she thought we were very "backwoods kids". Some of the big boys, almost like men, gave her a rough time. I did as she told me, for a few minutes at least. I was usually doing some prank that would cause Hugh Jones to snicker and laugh. Then Miss Stambough would take me up to her desk and shove me under the desk where her knees went under the desk. This quieted things down some. After a while I would try to peek through the holes in the desk to see what Hugh was doing, and "wham" she would let go with those long pointed high topped shoes and kick me in the ribs. A couple of jabs like that and I would lie down like a good little puppy for the rest of the time.
My sister, Mildred, was in the same room, also Aunt Jessie Blackburn Nelson. In fact there were about four grades, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh. Mildred really held a whip hand over me. Pa had said anytime the teacher had to whip us or that if we were too bad he would spank us again. So in order to keep Mildred from telling Pa what was going on in school, I would bribe her by doing some of her chores or giving her a stick of gum or anything she wanted so long as she didn't tell Pa. Because he was really hard on us when he spanked. It was usually a long switch from the pear trees.
Something very unusual happened here at this school everyday at 12:00 noon. And it didn't vary more than five minutes one way or the other. It was the call of a big jackass. Just across the street Ernest Wilde kept a big jackass for breeding purposes. At just 12:00 noon he would give that long series of braying. This was everyday, he never missed. Of course, we all looked at one another and grinned, because we knew it was lunchtime. I think Gilbert Wilde, who was also in my class, watered and fed this jackass at noon each day, so he was merely telling Gilbert to hurry up with his dinner.
My next grade school experience was back to the public school. Fred Killpack was teaching the sixth grade in the old schoolhouse. It stood by the side of the new brick schoolhouse. You entered a sort of cloak and storeroom about twenty feet by twenty feet. On entering the main school building, you passed a big pot bellied stove near the door. There were about two rows of seats, these were double seats, on each side of the room. An aisle ran between these rows of seats as far as the platform where the teacher sat at his desk. The stage or platform extended back to the wall about ten feet and it was the full width of the building which was about twenty-five or thirty feet. This platform gave the teacher an advantage of being up higher than the pupils. He kept a very close watch over us. Anyone, especially the boys, who did not settle down and study, received a few good slaps on the side of the head. First one side and then the other with a book. I can see Mr. Killpack now. He always let one finger stay inside the book to mark the place he was reading from or teaching from.
Fred Killpack was very patriotic. He always brought out those stories such as "Charge of the Light Brigade" and the story of Paul Revere, John Paul Jones, etc. One of our readers had the "Burial of Caesar." Some of the characters were Brutus who stabbed Caesar and Mark Anthony who defended Brutus. McLloyd Killpack took the part of Mark Anthony. I remember Mac, standing up there in his Roman robe saying, "I came to bury Caesar not to praise him."
I think I was a pall bearer. We had a box with handles nailed on the side for the casket, and a white bed sheet spread over the casket. Each year on the July 4th celebration it fell to Fred Killpack's lot to give or read the Declaration of Independence. My mother told me years later that this was the first time I had settled down and really studied. I guess that big geography book that Killpack held in his hand looked quite heavy for a whip. Anyway, I enjoyed my work and liked Mr. Killpack. He never had to use the book on me to get my attention.
The pot-bellied stove at the back did not heat only about half the building. We took turns going back and sitting around the stove drying our shoes and clothing on wet snowy days. But we did get too warm. It was like the temperature on the moon. Too cold on one side and too hot on the other.
One incident that has always haunted me during my sixth grade year was the treatment some pupils received. I felt sorry for one poor kid that had been slapped up the side of the head with the book and put up on the platform before the class with a dunce cap on his head. Of course some of the pupils laughed at the boy, but a lot of us were old enough to realize that it was not the boy's fault that he was slow at learning. Anyway, he grew up with an eighth grade education, got married, went to the coal mine at Sunnyside and provided a very good living for his family.
My next teacher was Weggland. He was the principal of the school. He taught seventh and eighth graders. Later on they combined the seventh and eighth grade into one year and put in the ninth grade. Mr. Weggland taught in the upstairs of the new brick building. I remember after the bell rang those pupils already outside would form a line of two's outside the hall door and wait until everyone was in line. Then Mr. Weggland would sit down at the organ in the entrance to the hall and play a march. We all marched in time and kept in step. I enjoyed going to school very much, but I missed a good part in the fall as we would be busy getting the grain in the stack, potatoes needed picking, picking apples, etc. We usually hauled our honey to the R.R. station at Price during October or November.
Again in the spring we left school in April to put in the crop. But school only ran until the last of April. So our school year was short.
It was during my last year in the elementary public school that a tragedy came to my home. My father had been in ill health for about four years. The last two years he had been bedfast. It started with bowel trouble in the lower part of his colon and gradually closed off his bowels. The older children knew what it was but us younger ones were not told that it was cancer until after his death.
I remember before father got too weak during the warm spring days he would take his cane and wander out to the bee apiary. Sometimes he would go out into the field and lie down in a patch of yellow clover and watch the bees come and go with their loads of honey and pollen from the blossoms. It was at this time that Mildred and I were singing the song, Clover Blossoms:
Clover blossoms, clover blossoms, bathing in the pale moonlight; Fills my heart with tender longing for the dear old home tonight.
Oft' I pondered why I wandered from the scene so pure and (white) bright; And the little girl who's waiting in the fields of red and white.
Tonight I'm dreaming of the dear old homestead; I'm lonely for one kind and loving face;
I long to see the meadows in the moonlight; I long for every unforgotten place .
I close my eyes and see the maples waving; I seem to hear the cooing of the dove;
I picture then a field of clover blossoms and
Dream I'm roaming through them with my love.
Although others in our family sang it was usually Mildred and I who sang for him whenever Pa felt well enough.
I was about fifteen years old when Pa died. So I was old enough to begin doing some of the heavier work. I remember my brother Jess and I built such large stacks of grain with the bundles that we had to use a scaffold about halfway up the stack in order to round it off or top it off as we called it.
Sometimes one of the stronger girls usually Ethel or Mildred would throw the bundle onto the scaffold and then I would throw it on up to the top of the stack to Jess, who usually did the stacking. By the time our crops were in the yard, we would have three or four stacks of grain; wheat, barley, alfalfa seed, and two large stacks of alfalfa. Threshing time came next, and what a whirlwind of excitement. There was all that food to prepare for the men. It took two or three men to carry the grain from the threshing machine to the granary, three or four more to keep the straw cleared away from the straw carrier. The straw carrier was a long box about three feet wide, two feet deep with small slats fastened to three rows of link chains that carried the straw from the back of the machine out to the straw stack in a revolving pattern. So it was up to the men at the end of the carrier to keep the straw pitched back so the straw carrier did not clog and stop everything. Three men in the grain stack pitched the bundles of grain onto the table at the mouth of the machine where one man cut the bands and pushed the bundle over to a man who fed the bundle into the threshing machine. He was an experienced man at this, because in order to keep the machine running smoothly and evenly in speed, he had to feed about the same about all the time. If he fed too fast, it slowed the machine down and the screens became overloaded with chaff and grain rode on out into the straw carrier. If he fed slowly part of the time the machine raced and the speed would cause the fans to blow the grain on out into the straw.
One man watched the machine for cleaning the grain, watching the big wide belts that carried the grain to the measuring spout where it was collected in half bushels, a man took the half bushel container and poured it in a sack that one of the three grain carriers held for him. Then the man that drove the teams on the horse carrier. The horse carrier was driven by five or six teams. Each were hitched to a pole or sweep. This sweep came out from a circular truck on which a big cog wheel about ten feet in diameter was connected to a tumbling rod that ran over and connected to the fly wheel on the threshing machine. What a buzzing, howling, whining noise this made. The horse powered truck was covered with a platform and seat on top for the driver. Around, around, and around those horses traveled day in and day out and didn't get anywhere. So you see we also had to feed the horses at night. So there were: 3 men in the straw stack, 3 men in the grain stack, 3 men carrying the granary, 1 man to care for machine, 1 man to drive horse power, 2 men feeding the machine, 1 man measuring the grain. Fourteen men besides our family of twelve.
Now if you have heard your grandmother say "I've cooked enough food to feed the threshers," you can see it was no small job.
It was a dirty job, because all the dust and chaff just settled around the back end of the thresher and the straw carrier. Later a steam engine came into use, which did away with the horse power. It also had a long blower to blow the straw and dust away from the machine. The blower could be turned in any direction so that did away with the three men that stacked the straw. As time passed the steam engine was replaced by a gasoline driven tractor. Grain crops were getting smaller. Farmers were doing more feeding, so corn was raised for silage, and more alfalfa hay raised. Now the grain is harvested with combine machines.
5.0 My Early Life on the Farm
Each year after the spring crops were planted it was my lot to herd the milk cows in the fields that had not been planted and along the irrigation canal and ditches. This became difficult at times especially later in the summer when the feed along the canal and fence rows became dry and scarce. The young juicy grain was tempting for the cows. Old Queen and old Bess, two faithful old white mares had gone the way of the other dead animals. We dragged them over the hill to the far comer of the farm.
Jesse and I broke a young grey (Kit) mare to ride so I herded the cows on her as soon as she was bridlewise. I rode Kit everywhere. Always without a saddle. A great deal of the time with just a rope and a loop around her nose.
One field was a forty acre patch of clover, brush, and blue hills. Sometimes if I was out where there wasn't anything to tie Kit to I would tie the reins or rope around Spence's neck while I slept or hunted for birds nests, dug Indian roots, or other things to pass the time of day. Many a time Kit would get loose from me, and I would sometimes chase her for half a day before she would let me catch her.
Sometimes when I thought I had her cornered she would dash past me with her tail and mane flying in the air. Spence could have been kicked to death or dragged to death if something had excited Kit, but she seemed to understand the situation and didn't try to run with him.
I did have a serious thing happen with Spence and old Star, one of the favorite milk cows. It happened in the spring of the year about graduation time, the last of April. Mother and Lillian, Silvia and Ethel were in the house measuring and fitting the graduation dress on the girls. Spence had a tendency to run to the front of the cow and tried to bite their noses instead of their heels. I think this day he had refused to go at all. So I put the cows in the large corral and tied Spence to Old Star's tail with a rope about six feet long. Then I said, "Sic 'um, Spence, sic 'um." Spence jerked back a little and as he did so he yelped a little. Of course Old Star turned quickly to see what was going on with her tail and this brought Spence off his feet. Old Star continued to turn in a circle. Spence was whirling through the air choking and yelping. I could see he wanted me to do something about it, so in I dashed, but Spence was traveling so fast he hit me broadside in the stomach and down I went with my breath knocked out of me.
I hurried and crawled out of the circle, climbed the high slab gate that was latched from the outside, ran to the house like I was crazy, calling, "Ma, Old Star, butcher knife, Old Star, butcher knife." When I got back to the corral there lay Old Spence, plastered with green cow manure with all the cows coming up to him and smelling him. I think they thought he was dead and so did I. I ran to him and cut the rope. After a second he gave a long gasp and raised his head. Then he got to his feet and I helped him stagger out of the corral. Whew' that was a close one. Ma and the girls were standing at the gate with tape measures and new dresses in their hands trying to find out what had really happened.
There is a story they told me. This incident happened in what was later called the parlor. But at this time it was used as a store room and wash room. When we killed chickens or turkeys on the farm Ma would save or store the softer feathers in baskets. She was also given the cappings from the honey combs when we extracted honey. She would melt the cappings and strain the wax and honey into five gallon cans. The wax, after cooling, would come to the top and form a solid cake eight or ten inches thick. The honey, which was too dark to sell was stored in open five gallon cans. Now the old pussy cat thought that basket of feathers would be just the place to have a few little kittens. .
I proceeded to do a little experiment on them in the honey. So I had dunked one in a time or two and was holding it up over the can watching the honey drizzle down into the can. Just at this point Pa came in and let out a blast of scoldings. All I did was throw the kitten over into the basket of feathers. And then I ran out onto the porch to Ma. About one or two flops in those feathers and the kitten looked like a chicken that had been chewed or mauled badly by a dog.
They said that Pa picked the kitten up by the tail and walked out to show Ma what her son had done. They said she threw her hands up and said, "Oh, those dogs have killed another one of my spring chickens." Lucky for me the capping honey was used only for feeding the bees early in the spring before the bloom came on. This would start the queen laying eggs sooner and she would have a good strong hive of bees by the time the blossoms came.
Another awful trick I played on Ma was during the time they were building the new house. Ma had churned a big batch of butter and placed it on a big wooden bowl down in the fruit and vegetable cellar. I had found a saw and some nails and hammer and gone down in the cellar to play. I guess someone had left the cellar door open. So I proceeded to saw that big patty of butter into nice square blocks and then drive them full of nails. Lawrence, my older brother, and Uncle Guy Nelson, my Pa's youngest brother found me and brought me up out of the cellar. Ma saw them rolling on top of the cellar and laughing until they couldn't tell her what I had done. I think I may have lost a few strands of hair in this instance. You see, the butter, eggs, bees wax and summer fruit was all Ma had to use for money to buy our clothes and stable groceries. So you see, I had killed the goose that laid the golden egg. I guess I felt like a little gander that was about to go the same way as the goose.
Telling about the wax and honey bee brings to memory the song Mildred and I used to sing:
When I was just a little boy and lived out on the farm
I used to have such jolly times a romping in the barn.
And then down in the orchard cool beneath the apple trees
There were some funny boxes where they kept the honey bees.
Listen to the honey bees humming in the apple tree
Listen to the honey bees humming in the apple trees
Listen to the busy little bees.
My grandfather said those little bees will in the money roll
So I went down to get some out right through the little hole.
While I was poking in and out as merrily as you please
There came out 97 bees and on the ground I rolled.
For one came down upon my ear,
Another on my nose,
And 47 others were a' buzzing in my clothes.
If that's the way I must get rich, then you may have your gold.
If that's the way I must get warm I'll stay out in the cold.
I'll go and be a sailor boy and ride the stormy sea;
For there the varmints never come and you may keep your bees.
6.0 My Early Musical Career
I must have been about fourteen or fifteen years old when mother said I should take some piano music lessons. We had just bought a beautiful new Halleth & Davis piano. So I began taking lessons of Miss Winnefred Fitchew, a member of the Presbyterian Mission school. She was a cute little thing, and as I think back I suppose I went there to be in her presence as much as I did for the music lessons. Anyway, she told me I had a good hand for music. I could reach an octave then at fourteen years old very easily. She said it was difficult for her to do this. I practiced scales and arpeggios and other exercises. Then came the day I was to begin practicing on a piano solo. She played it through for me and marked a few instructions on it. I took the selection home and practiced it. Oh, how delighted I was when I could finally play it all the way through without an error. One section I had to play the melody with the right hand and reach up into the treble clef and play the accompaniment with the left hand.
I learned many other little selections, but I remember "Melody of Love," the first one, because later it became a very popular waltz for dance music.
During this time Dr. Graham moved into Ferron as our doctor. He brought with him his wife's two sisters: Sarah, who played the violin and Margaret (MJ), who could sing very well. These girls organized a singing group there at the cottage as we called it. It was the living quarters for the mission school teachers. I remember some of the boys were: Clell Cox, Fred and Sam Zwahlen and myself. I was the youngest in the group, but they didn't have a tenor, and I could sing tenor. When my voice changed about three years later it went down to a bass range. Some of the quartet's numbers were: "Old Black Joe," "Carry Me Back to Old Virginia," "Skeeters Am a Hummin'," "The Bull Dog on the Bank & the Bull Frog in the Pool," "Rig-a-Jig, Jig," and many others.
This was a happy group. Sarah Barkley or Sal as she preferred could really make that violin talk. She would play some of those old southern melodies, and finish up with some real fast jigs or "hoedowns" as we called it.
Later I took vocal lessons from Professor Halverson when I attended the Emery Stake Academy. I also took more piano lessons. Then when I left the academy I went to Logan, Utah and attended the Utah State Agricultural College. While there I took more vocal lessons of Prfessor Charlie Johnson, who was then head of the music department.
Before leaving Ferron I want to tell a few things that happened while I was still in the fourth and fifth grades. My cousin, Ferris Nelson, who was a little younger than I, usually walked home together. Sometimes an older boy, Jim Christianson, would walk with us. Jim chewed tobacco and, of course, Ferris and I wanted to try it too. So Jim cut off a little chunk for each of us. It was so strong we hid it in between the rocks in a rock wall of Old Bill Worthen's Corral, as we passed by. Each night as we came by we would take just a little nip. I don't remember if we finished all the tobacco or not. I do know neither of us followed the habit of chewing tobacco. That seemed to have cured us.
Before Pa became ill I remember him placing me on his knee and bouncing me up and down and singing:
Saddle up the grey horse and I'll be the rider,
Go down to Betty Watkin's and get a drink of cider.
Another was: ·
There was a man in our town and his name was Master Brown,
He was our parson and Juba this and Juba that, and Juba killed the Yella' cat.
Then when he got tired he would chant an Indian Pow Wow. It went something like this:
How a nina, How a nina, How a nina
and then pu der ter-ter, which was accomplished by putting the tongue in the roof of the mouth and causing it to flutter, then down he would drop me on the floor.
Our evenings during school months were spent studying our lessons and then reading a small family paper, "The Youth's Companion." This paper ran continual stories. So Mildred and I usually had a race to see who got the paper first.
Ma subscribed to two Danish papers, the "Beekuben," and the "Queeden-og-Yemit" which means "queen in the home." They were printed in the east or New York so we got some outside news through these papers. As for home evenings, every night was home evening to us. We had a large living and dining room where we spent the evenings. Of course during the summer everyone was so tired we usually went to bed early.
When I was perhaps six or eight years old I would entertain myself by playing wild horse. I would get a long thick strip of cedar bark from a pile of cedar post lying in the yard and ruffle up one end so it would look like a horse tail. I held it behind with one hand where a horse tail ought to be. I'd run and kick at this tail making it swing out behind like a wild desert pony from the salt wash.
I often caught mother standing in the kitchen looking out at me and smiling. Seems rather primitive doesn't it? Well at least I was not fooling around with drugs or trying to steal from the store.
I guess I had better go on to Logan, Utah where I attended the Utah State Agricultural College as it was then called. My brother, Jess, had just finished one year there 1913-14. He had taken such courses as farm blacksmithing, agronomy, vet. science, types and breeds of farm animals, etc. I took care of the stock and chores while he was gone. I had spent two years at the Emery Stake Academy in Castledale, Utah. I think the family was anxious to have me go away to school. I had developed quite an affection for the principal's daughter, Hattie Nickman. She was pretty and cute so it didn't take much encouragement from her until we were real lovers. I hadn't been away from home very far up until now. Logan seemed like a big city.
I remember writing my name in my Zoology text. Stanley C. Nelson, Logan, October 2, 1915. I also had a class in Botany, and Eng. C. which was a class for special students coming in from the farm who didn't have a high school certificate. I also took vocal lessons of C. R. Johnson, the music director. His wife, Desey was from Ferron. She was Desey Aldridge. She was related to my second grade teacher.
Every male was expected to take military drill unless they were physically incapacitated. So I took drill. I also took woodwork, under August Hanson, a happy old Swede. I also had the following courses but I don't remember whether they were the first or second year: Types and Breeds of farm
animals. Agronomy. Vet. Science, which was a course in caring for and how to doctor farm animals, also chemistry. My chemistry, botany and zoology were college freshman classes and believe me, I had to study to keep up. I remember my first grades in zoology were D's. Then my teacher learned that I was from Ferron and was acquainted with Nathaniel Crawford. They had been missionary companions in the mission field. As we became better acquainted my grades improved. At the end of the year I had raised my grade to a B average.
My chemistry teacher was young and cold-blooded. I didn't fare so well with him. I completed all my laboratory work and got a passing grade, but failed in the work on the text.
My mathematics had been neglected in my grade school, so I could not work those problems in chemistry that involved math.
My first boarding house was the Mrs. Rust home. Several other boys from Emery County were staying there. I'll never forget the one boy. David Lamp from Cleveland, Utah. He was a very good student. He played the mandolin. Oh boy, I can still hear that ting-a-ling-ling he would play every night. I nearly went nuts trying to study. His room joined mine. I went out one night for football. The coach had us lined up to tackle our opponent. My opponent was my chemistry teacher. He had some deformity in his feet and ankles. Whenever I tackled him all he did was kneel down with both knees on my neck. Boy, the next morning I couldn't move my head either one way or the next. So I thought I could do something in athletics that would be less painful. So I went out for track and made out very well.
When school was out I went back to the farm to help take care of the crops, take the honey from the bees, pick the fruit, etc.
It was during this summer at home that I became acquainted with a young brown-eyed girl that was visiting her sister, Florence Ethel Cary. It was her mother, two boys, and this young girl. Florence Ethel had graduated from the Kansas State University and came out to teach in the Ferron Mission School. My sister, Linda, visited with Florence and Florence came to our home several times. I was still practicing my piano and vocal. I didn't always have an accompanist when I was asked to sing. I had been asked to sing at the 4th of July celebration so I went to the mission cottage to get Florence to practice with me. Then we practiced other songs, "Little Grey Home in the West,'' "I Love You Truly," etc.
Then all the teachers at the mission school including the Cary family went on the mountain. I remember they had a covered wagon loaded with camping equipment and food. Some rode horse back. Of course, I couldn't go. I was too busy on the farm.
I remember as they were leaving I ran into the yard and picked a big bouquet of American red roses and handed to Florence. I still don't know just why I wanted to do this at this time. I learned later that it was quite a happy surprise to Florence .
Later in the summer I was building a large wooden gate lane entering our lot. Florence was there talking to me. I was so interested in listening to her talk because she had a little lisp on her lips.
I had drilled several holes in the large cedar post that the gate would hang on. I discovered that some of the holes had been drilled in the wrong place. No doubt my attention had been diverted to that brown-haired girl. I guess you can guess why.
Well, it came time for the 4th of July celebration when I was to sing a solo. I was quite surprised to learn at the last moment that Florence's mother wouldn't think of her Methodist daughter taking part in a Mormon celebration. So I had to hurry and get Ruth Hanson to accompany me.
Their vacation over at Ferron, the Cary's moved on to Salt Lake City to complete their vacation. I didn't say good-bye to them. Ma Cary didn't want any close friendship with her daughters and Mormons.
Fall came. The crops all were harvested. I went back to Logan for the second year, 1916-1917. There was not much change in my studies. I was preparing for "Smith Hugh's" work. This course prepared you to go among the boys on the farm helping them to do things on a more scientific level. Selection and care of better seed grain, more sanitary barns for cattle, milk cows, hogs, chickens, etc. Also how to care for farm machinery when not in use such as painting plow shares to keep them from rust, better sheds to keep them out of the sun and rain, wash and oil the harnesses and you had to have a good knowledge of veterinary science. Many valuable work horses died on the farm because of improper care and medical aid.
Well, I went on studying vocal with C. R. Johnson. He formed a male chorus and I was able to make the chorus. There were 24 of us. We were selected by giving us an oral test. That is, a piece of music was placed before you and you sang for three judges. The chorus traveled across the State. We sang in the Rotunda of the Capitol Building for Governor Simon Bamberger. Some of our stops were Ogden, Nephi, Fillmore, Beaver, Cedar City, and St. George, Utah. There could have been more but they must not have been very eventful. It was January and Logan was as cold as Alaska.
I remember at Cedar City we took off our overcoats, rubbers, etc., and ran around town like it was spring. We traveled by automobile going down but took the train back.
I remember going down somewhere around Beaver and one of the cars stalled or the radiator froze up. Anyway, we had to do something to keep warm, so we played leap frog by the side of the road. The roads by the way were dirt and gravel. I think I have a snap shot of that scene. We all wore our cadet suits to travel in.
I guess I had better tell what was happening to me in the social world. Hattie Hickman, the girl I was going with, was still attending the Emery Stake Academy in Castledale. In fact, that's where she lived. She wanted to plan on getting married, but I backed away from this. I felt I had too much to do and learn before getting married so my trips so see Hattie were getting fewer and farther between. I began having dates with girls such as C. R. Johnson's niece, who lived with or boarded with the Johnsons. I dated her a few times. My date for the military ball, one of the biggest social events on campus, was Louise Howard. Her home was at Huntington, Utah. She was a large girl but had a pretty face and she was exceptionally intelligent.
Then I met a big Swede, Michelson, from Daytona, Idaho. He was about seven years older than I. He was handsome and had lots of money. Somehow, I don't remember now, but we made a date with Miss Rachael Dunford and her girlfriend, Miss Lillian Larsen. Miss Larsen was a brain. Along with other studies she was taking chemistry, geometry, and physics. Students said that she pulled down A grades in all of them.
Miss Dunford was living or boarding at President Widtsoe's home. She was a sister to President Widtsoe's wife. So we were invited to the Dunford girl's apartment. I remember the girls had tried several games on us for entertainment but one stayed in my memory. It was a ghost story and, of course, the lights had to be turned low or out. One girl told the story of a girl being thrown into a dark dungeon. She was moaning and groaning, ..Let me out, let me out", and the other girl was making a noise like breaking glass along with the clanging of chains. I don't know what the girls expected us to do, but we kept our seats and didn't move closer to the girls. Finally they finished and turned on the lights. There we sat smiling at them. Perhaps the home of President of the college did not give us the right atmosphere. Far too late the big Swede and I realized our golden opportunity had slipped past. We didn't have a second chance because the girls didn't ask us in again.
It was while at the A.C. that somewhat of a turning point came into my life. Fontella Richardson and her sister Pearl were staying next door to McLloy Killpack and my baching quarters. One night McLloy and I were over visiting them. They were girls we knew from Ferron and they had been close friends of Florence's when she was visiting in Ferron.
Fontella mentioned the fact that Florence had expressed interest in me. Florence says it was more than a deep interest. So not having Florence's address I couldn't write to her, and Fontella gave it to me. I remember it well: 925 Osage Street, Manhattan, Kansas.
I wrote to her and in due time, not too soon, I received a letter from her and so the road was opened. Florence told me how Ma Cary read each letter. She also told me that she was told when she could answer the letter. Florence was only sixteen and therefore, her mother watched her dating, etc., very closely. She thought that Florence was too young for anything serious.
April came and the U. S. declared war on Germany on April 6. President Widtsoe issued a proclamation for all male students that were from farms that could benefit from boys from these farms to go home and help grow more crops. We would be given full credit for the rest of the school year. So home I went to raise more wheat and oats, etc. Somehow one of my teachers failed to give me credit in the course of Types and Breeds of farm animals. Of all my classes I liked this one the most and I felt I was doing good work in this class. I didn't know this until I went in 1948(?) to summer school. I applied for a B.S. degree and when we added up my credits I found that Geo. B. Cane, my instructor, had not allowed me the last half year of credit but I finished up a couple of years summer school and received my B.S. degree.
When I arrived home everyone was doing something to win the war in Europe. Scrap iron was being collected and shipped to ammunition factories where it was made into shrapnel shells and covers for and grenades. All the excess grain was being shipped to the starving Belgians. I remember Daniel Lowry a close friend of Ma's was operating the Ferron "Grist Mill" at this time. He was shipping grain and carloads of flour to Europe.
I remember that we planted all the ground to grain that we could get ready. It seemed the entire world was doing all they could in every way to win the war against Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany. My sister Metta signed up with the nurse corps and was stationed at Camp Donovan near Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
I continued to write to Florence and she answered my letters. During the summer I kept company with Elva Rasmussen, a cute little brown-eyed girl from Molen, Utah. She was as wild as a canary. One night I tried to kiss her. She flitted here and there like a canary from one branch to the other and I had to settle for holding her hand or one arm slightly around her, not clear around but just slightly.
Just before school there was a quick shift in the Ferron Elementary School teaching staff. They were short one teacher and I was asked to fill that vacancy. I taught in September, October, November, and then I got the enlisting fever. I had written and asked Florence's mother if I might come back during Christmas vacation at Manhattan Kansas and visit Florence. My wish was granted, but I wrote later and told Florence I was going to enlist. Florence said that both she and her mother were disappointed, because this would have been our first meeting in her home and a chance for them really to get acquainted with me.
I went to Salt Lake City the fore part of December. My enlistment record reads: Enlisted December 14, 1917 at Fort Douglas, Utah." I was held here until January 23, 1918 while I was getting all my immunization shots. Several boys I knew from Ferron were there: Clell Cox. Bill Hanson, Ferris Nelson, and a Reynolds from Castledale were shipped to camp McArthur, Texas. We received our army gear here. Some of the large and tall boys didn't get overcoats for weeks. I remember it was cloudy, rainy weather, and felt like I was freezing to death standing revely and retreat. We had old half-dried oak or some such hardwood to burn in our small tents. I think four of us in a tent. I never did sleep warmly while at Camp McArthur because I was only given two army blankets. One was under me and one over me.
Boy, oh boy, I thought home was never like this. The dirt was loose and when it rained we sloshed and slipped around in the mud. There were many rows of tents and a lane down between each row. The lane was about 1/2 mile long.
Each recruit was assigned guard duty in a lane each night. Boy, when the wind blew and that old mist crept up around you, it felt as cold as if there was snow on the ground. My next assignment was 8th Aero Squadron, Headquarter Aviation Camp, Waco, Texas, from March 7, 1918 to January 2, 1919. We did more training and reshuffling here at Waco. It was more of a waiting process. My last assignment was from January 2, 1919 to February 15, 1919, Headquarter Squad "C", Flying School Det., Post Field, Fort Sill, Oklahoma. We had good barracks here at Fort Sill. It wasn't so cold.
I did odd jobs at carpentry, repairing buildings and building frames for hospital tents. When the beds were all full in the hospital they would put the men in these tents. They also used them for isolating men with contagious diseases. I remember seeing some soldiers being treated outside the isolation tents. They were being treated for venereal diseases. Boy, did I watch my step. The treatment must have been terrible as these men were screaming and begging the doctor to stop the treatment.
We had a good mess sergeant. He went out into the country and bought vegetables and fruit, also beef. In this way he saved money so that we had more money to buy and the produce was fresh. I was well acquainted with the food and kitchen, because I did quite a lot of K.P. work. K.P. to you younger generation is Kitchen Police. I could earn extra money by working in the officer's quarters.
Post Field was a training center for officers before they went overseas. It was mostly for artillery. Bob Berry, my son-in-law, trained here before he left for active duty. Of course, it was 25 years or more since I was there because Virginia I think was more than 20 years old when she married Bob.
Sometimes it would get boring working in the hot kitchen. So we composed little ditties to sing. I remember one went like this: Oh, the soup is on the table, coffee's gettin' cold, Papa's in the cellar making jelly rolls. Oh, how long must I wait, can I get it now or must I hesitate, etc.
I watched the mail very closely each day expecting a little letter from Florence and when I did hear from her they always brought a silver lining to the grey, dark clouds.
I was granted a short furlough while I was stationed at Waco, Texas. I went to visit Florence at Manhattan, Kansas. This was during the month of March, 1918.
I had been bothered with my two front teeth. They had ulcerated and I had one pulled, so I didn't make a very pretty sight. Florence felt bad and embarrassed, but we had a good time. This was the first time or date that I had had with Florence and the first time I had talked and visited with Mother Cary.
Mother Cary had taken in a professor to room there. He seemed quite friendly with Mrs. Cary, and she seemed to like that. Well, in less than a year they were married.
Florence had all her girlfriends meet me. Of course, she had been telling them about her handsome friend ever since she came back from her vacation to Utah in 1916. I had a difficult time talking to them without showing that empty space where the tooth had been. I met Grandpa and Grandma Pitman, Uncle Charlie Diebler and his family. I remember they had several girls younger than Florence but the oldest one could really bake good homemade bread.
We visited the farm out by Keates and Fort Riley and Camp Funston. Soldiers and troop trains running in every direction out there. Florence and I developed a deep affection for one another but Mrs. Cary was very strict, no monkey business. It was early to bed with no late hours, I don't remember whether Florence allowed me to kiss her at this time or not. I do remember holding her hand. That was considered about the same as "necking" today. My furlough only lasted a few days, six or eight as I remember it. So, back to old Fort Sill and the wind and the sand. It was about this time that Lieutenant Culpepper organized a band. I joined the band, but I didn't have an instrument. My brother, Jess, had an alto horn at home so I wired home that I wanted them to send the horn to me. They messed the first wire up until mother and Jess couldn't figure out what I wanted. Mother told me later the first message said, "Sell all horn stock and mail to me." Well, I finally received the alto horn and joined the band. Sergeant Scott was our director. Lieutenant Culpepper dared any sergeant to assign any of his band members to K.P. duty. So you see, I had more time to go to the Knights of Columbus recreation hall. I spent a great deal of time there practicing "Palmer Method" penmanship, writing letters, and practicing the piano when I had a chance.
After our band got organized and practiced up, we were invited to Oklahoma City to a Shriner's Convention. All expenses were paid, including train fare, meals, and hotel. What a riot! The train was loaded with Shriners and their wives, all of them drinking about all they could hold and singing. I joined in the singing but left out the drinking.
Memorial Day at Manhattan was always a big celebration. Bands playing, flags waving, and much speaking. I happened to be at one of these celebrations with Florence. At one point in the celebration about sunset I was facing the colors and saluting. Directly in line with me and the colors was a young girl some distance from me smiling at me real friendly like. So after the salute Florence and I walked over to speak to her. Low and behold it was Geneva Jorgensen from Castledale. She was there visiting her boyfriend or fiance who was stationed at Camp Funston just west of Manhattan about fifteen or twenty minutes.
Geneva was a sister to George Jorgensen of Price. George had been postmaster of Price for a while. Also he was bishop and last, our Stake President. So we had quite a friendly chat. Her boyfriend was a brother to Attorney Dalton of Castledale, Utah. My furlough over, I went back to Fort Sill. Nothing exciting happened. I still continued to correspond with Florence.
Later in the fall the war in Europe began to slow down. The Germans could see they were beaten but they didn't give up until after Christmas 1918. Finally they surrendered. I was shipped to Fort Logan, Colorado about February 15, 1919. I had to wait for my enlistment record to be brought up to date. My travel expenses figured out. I note on my service record stamped, "paid in full $31.53, February 24, 1919 at Fort Logan, Colorado." Then again stamped on my service record was, "paid $60.00, passed by Congress, April 22, 1919." I think the $60.00 was a bonus given to all enlisted men at the time of discharge or before our discharge papers were sent to us.
Up to now I haven't mentioned my boyfriend, George Hetland. He was a typical old Westerner. He had been brought up on a ranch in Joliet, Montana. It seems that his mother had died when George was quite young and his father had done the job of both mother and father.
He had asked me if I couldn't find him a girl he could write to. I told Florence and she had her girlfriend Irene Scott write to him. They had been corresponding for a year or more. So when we received our honorable discharge papers, we took a train right back to Manhattan, Kansas. I was friends with George during our stay at Fort Sill more or less to keep him out of trouble. He was a good-hearted, honest, and very anxious person to accommodate you.
Well, when we got back to Manhattan, Irene seemed to enjoy George. He was a free spender and up and ready to go with Irene and Florence. George had lots of brown kinky hair and blue eyes. He was tall, handsome, and a little bow-legged from riding in the saddle. It made it easier for us to visit and have a good time because I was acquainted with George and Irene and Florence had been friends since they were little girls.
George went out to visit Irene at Westmoreland, where her father owned a large farm. George stayed there at the farm during our stay at Manhattan.
7.0 The World Changes
Florence and I had many long walks up around the college campus and the cemetery. On these walks we talked about many things. Mostly the future and what it held for us. In the back of my mind Florence was the ideal of a mate to grow with through life. I could tell from our talks that she loved me too. One day it dawned on me that I would be going home to Utah and no telling when I would get to come back to see her again. This shook us up a little because up until now the thought of getting married was always in the future. When Florence completed school, etc. We decided that the easiest way to solve our problem of separation was to get married right then. So we broke the news to Mother Cary, and to our great surprise she didn't seem to find a reason why we should not get married.
So many young girls were getting married to their soldier sweethearts and everything seemed unsettled, I guess. Mother Cary felt it was the thing to do. We were invited to attend the 60th Anniversary of Grandpa and Grandma Pitman a few days later. During the course of the evening Grandpa Pitman announced our engagement. So on March 12, 1919 we were married at Florence's home. It was a simple wedding. Rev. J. M. McClelland, Pastor 1st ME. Church performed the ceremony. Members of the family attended, some close friends, and neighbors were also there.
During the ceremony I sang, "I Love You Truly". Then Grandma Pitman said she would give me a quarter if I would sing, "Little Liza Jane." I was a little short of money so I sang it. I got a big hand. We had a two day honeymoon in and about Manhattan.
It was decided that Florence would stay in Manhattan for a month, and get her trousseau ready. So I went on out to Utah alone. George came with me until it was time for him to take off for Montana. I lived at home with Ma and the rest of the family until Florence came out.
I remember I got John Funk to take his Model T Ford and we met Florence at the railroad station. We spent a day or two getting Florence acquainted with the family. We were trying to decide where we were going to live. Ma and Pa had bought 160 acres of land from the State several years before for
$2.50 per acre. It was uncultivated and never had been broken up from the shodscale and rabbit brush and it had only a secondary water right on the muddy creek. That meant that after the old water rights were satisfied then we could use the remainder. In other words no spring run off was to be allowed to flow on down the muddy creek to waste.
There had been a log cabin built on one of these 40 acre plots, so Florence and I hitched old Bird on the little one horse buggy and drove out to Rochester to look at the land and our new home, "The Log House". I was a little worried about just how Florence would take this pioneer-looking cabin. We walked around the house a time or two looking at the big chink holes that had to be filled in, and taking some of the balls of hair the cows and bulls had rubbed off on the ends of the logs that protruded out at each corner. Someone had left the door open and the cows had gone inside and broken a board or two in the floor. There was one small window in the south side of the one room cabin. The door and floor was made of rough native Ponderosa pine boards. Well, what do you think Florence said after surveying our property, "Come on Stan, let's get some mud and blocks of
logs and fix this cabin up." I looked at her rather surprised, grinned, and said, "Okay".
We had to carry the water from a neighbor's pond. It was across a wash lined with big high rabbit brush. To our north and east for miles was nothing but bare ground with scattered shodscale until you reached the reef which had a growth of cedar and pinon pine. Below the reef the cattle men from Rochester, Ferron, and Emery would drive their cattle to winter. To our south was a few farm houses which represented Rochester. I don't remember whether we finished chinking the cabin that day or not, but I do remember we were happy as two robins building our love nest.
Ma had an extra team and wagon she let me use. Our next trip out we brought some household goods. My brother Jess came out riding for cattle and he bought a ton of alfalfa hay for the horses. He said that was his wedding present to us from him. I had to bring some logs out and build an open corral for the horses and a cow. I wanted Florence to live in Ferron and I would drive out each day and back a distance of seven miles one way. Florence said nothing doing. You will spend all your time on the road. I know the horses would have been worn out traveling on the dusty road each day. Florence said Kansas farmers always lived on the farm and not in town. I broke up 15 or 20 acres of the new ground.
I had to level it lengthwise and crosswise so I could irrigate it. I planted clover seed with the grain and alfalfa seed in the rest. Clover seed was a good money crop at that time.
I remember Florence used to get lonesome sitting in the cabin alone so toward evening she would walk down in the field where I was irrigating and we would walk back to the cabin together. Later I brought out a few chickens and a little white Spitts dog. We called her Eppie. I had to build a make-shift pen for a pig and the chickens.
Our furniture consisted of a new dresser Florence bought with some money she received from her mother's estate in Kansas, a rough cupboard with shelves, a bed, Florence's trunk and my trunk, a table and two chairs. I had built a small miniature airplane, which we hung from the center log in the ceiling. Florence tacked her Manhattan High School penant on a side log and I tacked my U.S.A.C., Logan, Utah penant on the other side.
I dug a little cellar at the north side of the house to keep our milk and butter cool during the hot summer days. I didn't spend much time on it. The steps were just cut out of the bank and the run was about four or four and a half feet wide. One day Florence discovered our big black sow in the cellar getting into our food. She had driven her away several times. She was determined to teach the sow a lesson. Poor little Eppie was barking and snapping at the sow's tail but afraid to get too close. Florence came out with a tea kettle of hot water and poured it on the sow's back. The sow let out a, "woof, woof, woof ," and came up those steps backwards so fast she backed right over poor little Eppie and broke one hind leg. The sow had to come out backwards because the cellar way was too narrow for her to turn around.
Another time later in the summer a neighbor who lived down east of us nearly to the cedars invited us to come down some afternoon and have cake and coffee with them. It was Rufus and Goldy Jensen. We went down and visited until after sundown. Before we reached the log cabin and home it became dark. As I came to the door of our cabin I could hear something inside running across the board floor. I soon decided what it was and stepped inside and gave a big yell and stomped on the floor. A herd of the neighbors' John Funk's pigs had pushed the door open somehow and come inside. The cupboard had no door on it. Only a curtain to keep it from showing. We had several jars of fresh fruit on the floor under the cupboard, some dried fruit, sugar, salt, etc. Those little pigs had broken the sacks and mixed up all the things that was loose. They had nosed the fruit jars back and forth across the floor. They looked pretty smeared. Of course, we could wash the fruit jars, but the other food we had to replace.
Florence was frightened until she saw those little pigs as they dashed out the door, squealing and slipping on the floor. Some of them ran under the chairs as they went carrying the chairs on their backs. They were small enough to go under the rounds of the chairs. Boy, oh boy, Florence stood outside until they were all out. I think there were about six or eight of them. What a mess! Well, you can imagine where Florence went the next morning with Old Dixie and the one little horse buggy. Yes, she went to Ferron to get some fresh food. Well, we did salvage enough bread for breakfast. They chewed off the end of one loaf of bread, and we trimmed that up and ate the rest for our breakfast toast.
Our mealtime was usually a fun time. Sometimes I would do or say things that caused Florence to laugh, and she usually got food or water down her windpipe. One day she was eating bread and honey when she strangled. I told her to hurry and lie on the bed with her head hanging down, so the honey would run out when she coughed. She couldn't understand what I meant. She was choking and gasping for breath. I got frightened before she finally cleared her windpipe.
If you have ever strangled on honey, you will know what I mean. It is terrible, and the quickest way to clear your throat is to get your head and shoulders down low, over a log or chair.
After school in Ferron was out for summer vacation the Presbyterian teachers asked Florence and I if we would like to keep a horse, Sue, for the summer. She was a Hamiltonian mare and could travel to Ferron in no time. They also let us take their one-seated buggy. The reason I mention this mare is that she nearly broke my back. It was after I had planted and watered my grain land. A herd of wild range horses came down across that soft irrigated land breaking the furrows and letting the water run every way but down the right furrows.
I heard them after dark and I ran out to the corral in my night shirt, if I had one, and jumped on Sue with just a rope and a loop on her nose. I chased the horses off my watered ground and tried to drive them out toward the cedars, but all Sue wanted to do was get right in behind them and run. She knew nothing about driving and cutting out stock.
We were just a few yards from the cabin when I tried to turn Sue out around the horses. She kept on going straight ahead so to make her turn I reached out and slapped her over one eye with my hand. Sue just reared straight in the air and before I knew what she was doing I was on the ground with Sue on top of me. As I struck the ground I fell across a thick slab of wood on my back down by my hips. Sue ran on after the wild horses.
I called to Florence to come help me get up. By the time she got to me I had gotten to my knees. My legs were numb. She helped me to the cabin and in a little while the numbness left my legs. I didn't know it then but in later years I found by doctor's examination that I had broken 2 vertebrae in my back and cracked another one The two had fused together and the third part sloughed off. My back didn't seem to bother me then but later I discovered a tired back ache came from this injury. I think that due to the fact that the broken vertebrae were down low between the hips and coccyx it didn't allow any twisting or turning.
I neglected to say here that I bought a coal range from Russell Williams for $41.00. It had been used some but was almost as good as new. Florence did a fine job of baking homemade bread, cakes, and pies.
About July of 1919 I needed some poles and logs to build corrals and a top for a big root cellar, potatoes, etc, so we took just the running gears without the box of my wagon, packed our camp outfit on the running gears and went up on Ferron Mountain. While we were up there we decided to make a little honeymoon trip out of it. Florence wanted to go on around to Willow Lake and the Ferron Reservoir and visit the Cary campground of the summer of 1916.
We did some fishing, at least Florence did. I had never been allowed to waste my time on such nonsense. That's Mother and Father's interpretation of fishing at that time. We did a lot of eating and sleeping. Florence cleaned the fish and of course the fishy smell stayed on her hands. So at night she slept with her hands under the covers so she couldn't smell them. It was about this time, too, that she decided she was pregnant which made us both happy.
While we were there fishing Carlyle Crawford and his wife Zena and Austin Olsen and his wife Cleo came into camp. They were newlyweds too. We all enjoyed a very happy experience. The weather was good. There was no rain.
But when we got our load on our wagon and started back we stopped at the Dairy Corral where the Ferron and Rochester cattlemen were having their summer roundup. This roundup was for the purpose of branding and marking the young calves that had been born on the mountain since the cattle had been taken up in the spring. While we were watching them, a friend of ours came to us and asked us if we could take a derrick pole down to Ferron for him. His name was Elwin Ralphs. He was a brother to Florence's sister's husband, Cliff Ralphs. Being that closely related we decided we could accommodate him. The pole was green and heavy, about 10 feet through the butt, 40 feet long and tapered down to about 6 feet at the small end. We finally got it loaded late in the afternoon. We drove on over to Stephens Creek to camp because it was too late to go on down the canyon to Ferron.
We set up the tent, cooked our supper on a small sheepherder style stove, and went to bed. Not long after we had gone to sleep we were awakened by a terrible rushing and flapping of the tent. It looked as though the tent was going to be blown away. I got up and found some heavy rocks and laid all around on the bottom of the tent flaps. Then I took our big butcher knife, the only thing I had to use for digging, and dug a trench all around the back and sides of the tent because by this time it had started to rain.
The lightening would flash until it lighted the tent up so we could see one another, and then that splitting, cracking thunder would follow with a boom. Florence was so frightened she was shaking, trembling and crying. Well, to tell the truth I was not what you would call relaxed. I didn't know what minute the wind would take the tent off from us, because it was acting like an umbrella in a wind storm.
The next morning we got up late and had our breakfast. Then I went out and found our horses and we started for home. We traveled only a short distance. Two or three miles later my brother Jess joined us. He was riding a large saddle horse. He said he thought he had better help us get down past some of the steep side hills. That derrick pole stuck out beyond our load 20 or 25 feet. Before we could hardly get started again we could hear a roar and pounding noise but we couldn't see what it was as there was a big hill near us. Finally large hailstones began thumping the horses on the backs. We hurried and pulled off the road near some small quaking aspen. They were not tall enough to get the horses under. My brother grabbed a camp quilt off our wagon, pulled or bent a small sapling over and threw the quilt over that for shelter. And guess who was first to get under the quilt. No, it wasn't Florence, it was Jess' dog.
When the hail struck the horses on the head and ears they would throw their heads in the air and rear and strike. Large bumps began to show on their backs where the hail struck. Soon we looked out and saw the hail rolling down the side of the hill in large balls. It looked like bags of wool.
The storm didn't last very long. We went on down toward the dugway. In order to keep the derrick pole from flipping us off the road on curves, Jess tied his lariat on the tip of the pole and then he could skid the hind wheels in either direction. If the hind wheels started to slide off the road, he would tighten the lariat with the saddle horse and pull the wagon back into the wheel tracks. We finally got down the big dugway, and Jess untied his lariat and said he thought we could go by ourselves. The road was more level and not on so many side hills.
We noticed that the leaves and large twigs had been broken off by the hail. The little gullies were full of water and by the time they combined and reached the narrows it became a torrent. As we reached the first bridge in the narrows we discovered the flood had washed it away. I walked out to the bank and looked off. It was 10 or 12 feet to the bottom. I unhitched the horses from the wagon and put our bedding (quilts) on the horses backs, so we could ride them on down to mother's place at Ferron. We had to find a way down to the water or creek and travel in the stream bed because there was no road. It had all been washed away. There were steep rocky banks on each side.
Can you imagine Florence jumping that big old work horse, Prince, down over those boulders? Sometimes he looked like he was standing on his head.
As we came out of the narrows into the main Ferron Canyon, we met my oldest brother, Lawrence on a horse with a harness. He had an idea we were in trouble. He told us the storm had killed little chickens, broken 25 or 30 windows and ruined gardens and crops.
The next day Elwin Ralphs went up to where we left the wagon and took his derrick pole and dragged it down to Ferron Canyon where he could load it on a wagon, That was a distance of about 1.5 miles.
I came back and took my wagon apart and brought them down one at a time. We were so happy to put our wagon together and loading the logs and poles back on the wagon and go home to our little log cabin in Rochester. Florence looked tired and worn out. It had been quite different from the trips she had taken in the woods back in Kansas. When we arrived home, we found that the storm had struck Rochester too. I guess our dirt roof on the cabin had worn thin from the wind blowing the dirt away. That is the one thing we had neglected when we repaired the cabin in April.
The rain had soaked through or ran through the roof and washed down the walls spoiling pictures and penants. The water had evaporated on the floor and walls and left little cakes of dried mud.
Later in the summer our neighbors Henry and Adrian Hansen had talked to us about using our own adobes and building a new home. He, Henry, had made the adobes in his home, with the help of the Hansen family. There was an adobe mill just a forty acre length above us. He said he would lend me the adobe molds and help me get started.
We smoothed off the adobe yard and ran some water down to the yard and filled a small pond by the mill to mix water with the dirt and soak the molds in. I hired three or four boys to carry the adobes out to the yard. In about a week we had made more adobes than we needed. In fact, I had enough to make a nice big chicken coop and a run for the laying hens.
When the adobes were dry Florence helped me rig them up in stacks. She also helped me load them on a low farm truck wagon and haul them down to our land where we were going to build. We were covered with dust and dirt from handling the adobes. Next was to locate some rock to use for the foundation. We found some about 3 miles south and east of our building spot. We called it the reef or cedars.
Farmers had made a road out through the cedars so they could gather dried cedar and pinon pine for stove wood. It was early in the fall, October, I think. I hired old Bill Worthen and his two sons, Tom and Joddie to begin laying the foundation and adobes.
I was kept busy getting building material on hand. I found some two inch material to make the window frames and door frames. I took this material in to Ferron and had John Soderquist make the frames.
Ferron was seven miles from where we lived in Rochester so all material, nails, plaster, etc, had to be brought out from Ferron. I bought shingles, lathe, flooring and windows, doors, door locks in Price, Utah which was forty-five miles north of Ferron.
During the spring of 1919 my mother told Jess and I we could have a load of apples to try and sell if we wanted them. She had two or three large storage cellars full of apples and no sale for them in Ferron. So we each took about 50 bushels of apples and went over through Salina Canyon and on down into Sevier Valley and peddled them house to house. We finished our sales down at Sigurd, Utah. Sigurd had a hard wall plaster mill so each of us loaded up on hard wall plaster right from the mill. It was still hot from the furnaces. They quarry the rock from the hillside and haul it to the mill. Here it is burned or heated in a kiln until the rock starts to crumble. Then it is crushed, mixed with cow or horse hair and sacked while hot.
The hot jumbo plaster as they call it made a nice warm seat to ride on back home. It took two days to go home on cold, muddy roads. It was so bad that Jess' one mare gave out. He loaded part of his load on my wagon and pulled his load with "Old Dick", a big white horse as tough as iron. We turned the mare loose and she followed until we reached the summit of Salina Canyon. We camped near Oak Spring ranch that night.
The next morning the mare, Cindy, was rested so Jess put her in the team again, but I had the bulk of the hard wall on my wagon. So that's how I got my hard wall plaster.
During that fall and winter I worked on our new house. Some days when it was stormy I got very cold putting on the shingles. I had stacked the shingles, lathe, fur flooring, and beaded ceiling lumber inside while I was putting on the roof and the shingles. It was a square four room bungalow style house with a storage room and clothes closets between the two bedrooms.
I had moved Florence into Ferron as soon as the cold weather came, and was driving out to the farm each morning and back at night.
Our house had two large windows in the south side of the living room and large windows in the west. The windows at the south let in a lot of sunshine and heat in the winter which we enjoyed, because we heated the kitchen with the range stove and only one stove for the living room and back bedroom.
Christmas came and we celebrated the holidays in Ferron. Uncle Will and Aunt Silva Jensen came to visit us from Price. Florence and I spent many happy evenings with my brother Jess and his wife, Jessie. We would play a card game called 500 and then always pop corn and plenty of other good things to eat.
Soon after Christmas, January 7th to be exact, I had been working on our house at Rochester. I had worked hard trying to get the work done that would protect the house if it stormed. Toward evening or late afternoon I could see storm clouds coming up so I began moving the flooring and beaded ceiling lumber back inside. I had moved it out to get room to lay the floors. It was getting dark when I finally finished putting the lumber inside and started home.
I was driving a team called Pomp and Puss. I let them trot as fast as they could. They were cold and anxious to go home to shelter and feed. I had gone about two and a half miles and started down a long hill. Pomp was getting out of hand. He would take the bridle bit in his teeth and then try to run. I couldn't control him and he kept going ahead of Puss. This would crowd the wagon off to one side. It was snowing now so hard and blowing so that I couldn't tell just where the road was. Henry and Adrian lived down off the road about a mile As I came near their farm I could see their light flickering. I still had to go down another big long dugway before reaching Ferron so I decided I had better go down to Henry's and stay until morning. So I turned the team off the road. Luckily I found Henry's road. I drove into Henry's yard causing the dogs to bark. Henry came running out to see what the noise was about. I told him I couldn't see the road to go home. He was glad to have me stay with them.
We undid or unhitched the horses right where they were and turned them loose into the yard where they had plenty of straw and clover pummy.
When we entered Henry's home the warm air struck me full in the face and before I knew it my knees buckled under me and I slumped into a chair. I had been chilled all day and the sudden change of air I guess caused it but soon Adrian gave me some supper and I was all right. It was still snowing and blowing when we went to bed. I was still asleep the next morning about 8:00 a.m. I guess when someone was pounding on the door. I heard the man say as he entered, "Is Stan Nelson here?" I hurried and dressed. When I came out there stood Jodie Hansen. He said, "Your wife needs you."
I hurried to the barnyard and hitched the team on the wagon and drove on into Ferron. It was about four miles from Henry's place. When I arrived I found a worried young girl. She had started to have labor pains, so I was soon to become a "Daddy". Thank goodness my younger sister, Margaret, had gone up to our house and stayed all night with Florence, so Florence had her run across the street to tell Sister Soderquist to come over. Also she ran down through the field to Jodie Hansen's and told them. That's how it was that Jodie had come looking for me. He had tied a wide scoop shovel on the side of his model T Ford to be prepared for snow drifts.
Mr. and Mrs. Soderquist had made Florence comfortable. I had brought an oak heater over from Uncle Will's to use but had never gotten it put up. So they had carried the stove in and put it up and made the house warm. Sister Soderquist was so happy to think she had been asked to help with our first baby. She said to me, "You know Sh-Standley you ver my first case after I graduated." My brother Lawrence had also come up to see if Florence was all right. The storm had been bad in Ferron too, so he stayed with her that night. He was always kind and good to Florence and I. He often came out to Rochester to visit us and see how we were getting along. Florence always cooked him something good to eat.
At 1:00 p.m., January 7th Dr. Bruce easily, with the help of Sister Soderquist, brought us a cute little baby girl weight 7 1/2 lbs How happy we were. I didn 't go back to work for a few days. We called our baby Virginia Louise. She came a little before she was ready. Doctor thought about three weeks. Her fingernails were not fully developed and she didn't have any eyebrows or lashes.
She just slept and nursed for about three weeks and then, wow! we realized we had a baby. She began crying every night with colic. I guess Florence had not learned what kind of food to eat to keep the baby from having colic, and was not careful about getting chilled.
I was busy sending birth announcements and letters back home to Manhattan to Florence's relatives and girl friends, and after a day or two I took over the care of Florence and the kitchen.
There were many cases of flu at this time. Our house on the farm was not ready for Florence so we couldn't go out there just then. So about March 1st Henry and Adrian suggested we come out to their house to get away from the flu epidemic in Ferron. We didn't have much accumulated so we went out to Henry and Adrian's home and shared it with them. Florence and Adrian got along fine. They had two small children, Ruth and Louise. It made it handier for me because I was about four miles closer to my farm and I could get more done on my home. Henry was good to help me. He and I put on the first coat of plaster with just plain clay mud. Later I hired Ray Herring to put the finish coat on of plaster. The "Jumbo Hard Wall" I had brought from Sigurd, Utah.
Lloyd Nelson, my cousin, was a good finishing carpenter, so I hired Lloyd to do the finish work. He hung the doors and put the casing around the windows and doors. Each day brought us closer to the time when we could move into our little home, and each day brought more thrills over our nice new home. It was going to be the nicest home in Rochester at that time. There were a few nice brick homes built later on.
I needed some lumber to build a garage, a barn for the cows, and horses and I also built an ice house. So after I moved Florence into the new house and finished planting the crops and watering them, I went with Henry up Reeder Creek above Joe's Valley and took out a sale of lumber. That is a permit to cut timber for home use. Henry and his brother were taking out a permit too. In fact, it was Henry that told me about it, the home permit.
Clabe Elder and his son Jess had a saw mill there on Reeder Creek, so all I had to pay for was the cost of sawing. I worked most of that summer cutting and logging the logs into the mill. They were big and heavy. I was green about falling a big tall tree. I had some close shaves for accidents. One day I fell a big tree and stepped back away from the stump, that is, I ran in the opposite direction. The tip of the tree fell in the top of some other big trees. The center of the tree bent way down almost to the ground and then sprung back up. This caused the fallen tree to slip off the stump and jump straight back the way I was running. The butt struck the ground right even with my heels, and dug a hole about two feet deep in the pine needles. I could have been crushed to death. Well, I sat down rather shaky like to get my breath and look the situation over before I started to trim the branches and log it up in desired lengths. I could usually get two or three sixteen or eighteen foot lengths out of a tree. Then cut the rest in shorter lengths.
This camping out didn't agree with me. We ate mostly sour dough and mutton, some canned vegetables like corn, peas, and pork and beans. The grease caused me to have indigestion. Sometimes I was so sick I would stick my finger down my throat to cause myself to vomit so I could get rid of the gas and grease. I lost weight and didn't feel good all summer. Of course, every week or so I had to go home to see Florence and our cute little baby. Late in the summer Florence had to put Virginia on the bottle as her milk was not good.
I remember one trip when I came home I almost cried when I saw Virginia. She was poor and skinny and looked so white. I guess the heat and the cows milk had not agreed with her.
Each time I took a big load of lumber with me. It was an all day's drive. I remember by the time I had gotten up the Ferron dugway Old Benny and Brawny, my team, were fagged out. I usually found a good sized rock and let the team go by themselves as far as they wanted to. Then when they stopped I blocked the wheel with the rock. They couldn't go far without resting. Sometimes I must have taken 30 or 45 minutes just to climb that dugway but when we reached the summit the road was not too steep. Only one steep hill was between the dugway and home.
Florence had received some money from home, so we had bought a Model T Ford and a new John Deer wagon and some more furniture. We wanted to take the money and go back to college at Logan, Utah, but my mother didn't want me to give up the farm. She had so much land and nobody to take care of it for her. Most of my seven sisters had moved or gone to Salt Lake to learn a business of their own so we stayed at the farm. My crops were not good, because of the new ground and not enough water late in the summer to mature them. I could always get one good cutting of hay, but the second cutting was not so good. Sometimes we got some heavy thunder showers late in July and August that gave me a good third cutting of Alfalfa, but it usually knocked the grain down or beat the grain out of the heads.
Some humorous things that Virginia did in her first three or four years of her life. When she was very young before she was a year old she always wanted a soft blanket so she could put it against her lips or under her nose. After she learned to walk and started running about, if she didn't have her soft baby blanket with her she would substitute a feather or anything soft. Our chicken coop was close to the yard and garden, so she often took a little stroll down to the chicken coop to find her a feather. Sometimes she didn't have to hold the feather. It would stick there by itself. Yes, colds were prevalent in those days, too.
Another habit she had was to kick her diaper off as soon as they were wet, if no one happened to see her, and she did this with her panties after she quit wearing diapers.
One day Florence had been to town and bought a new broom. As Florence stood holding the broom, Virginia spied a little ring of soft material that was used for binding the straws of the broom together. Down on her knees she went and put her lips on that binding. We all laughed but Virginia was happy nursing her tongue against her lips. It was a great pacifier for her.
One Sunday morning Florence and I had slept late when we awakened and looked out and there was Virginia running back and forth on a big long stack of lumber without a stitch on. She had gone outside to play and wet her pants and then stripped everything off. The sun was boiling hot and we were a little embarrassed.
Another morning she had gone to the coops to find a feather and had taken off her clothes, but she didn't come to the house this time. Richard Behling and my brother Ted had slept in a bed on top of a stack of new mown hay about 12 or 15 feet high. Virginia saw the ladder, so up that she climbed.
When she crawled over on the hay and woke those boys, there she stood with nothing on except that feather under her nose.
It was about this time in our early married life that I had to take my turn at night watching our canal. The farmers or as they were called the Rochester Irrigation Co. decided to enlarge the old canal. They had several dirt fills, which when soaked up would begin to leak. The fresh dirt was thrown in against those old dry banks that had stood for years in the hot sun and dried out.
Some of the fills on side hills slid out during the night so a watchman had to be put on duty. I believe each farmer did this without pay.
One big fill that went out was so big it took two or three days to fill it back. All we had to use in those days were a team, a scraper, or a slip. Some had four horse teams.
Rochester was without water until the canal was repaired. Another drawback to our water system was the dam in the Muddy Creek. It was built of logs and rock. Every once in a while when the creek raised fast in the spring runoff some of the dam would wash away. So it was decided to build a concrete dam and spillway. I remember shoveling gravel and sand into an old concrete mixer. It took two of us to keep it going and two or three men on wheel barrows wheeling the wet concrete and dumping it in the forms of the dam. This was no job for boys. I used to come home at night so tired and my hands blistered. I already had big calluses on my hands, but this work made blisters under the calluses.
About this time we were blessed with a little baby boy. So I forgot about the blisters when I came home to my darling wife and the two little children. Virginia was really interested or surprised when she got to watching Aunt Caroline bathe and change the diaper on the baby, Harold.
The first time she saw Harold undressed she was standing by the side of Aunt Callie as we called her. Virginia pointed at Harold and said, "whas-at". She thought something was wrong because Harold had something she did not have.
Virginia had a grey cat she played with in the house and she would take the cat for a ride in her little red wagon. She would cover the cat up with her little baby blanket. But sometimes the cat would flip its tail out from under the cover. Virginia would hurry back and cover the cat's tail again. She would lay the cat on the blanket and rolling from one comer until the cat was all wrapped up.
When Harold was old enough to crawl and play on the floor Virginia would take her little blanket and lay Harold at one comer and then start rolling him over and over until the blanket was all wrapped around Harold. Harold didn't cry or complain. It seemed as though he enjoyed having her play with him. When she finished rolling Harold he looked like a big fat cigar. Virginia tended Harold like a little mother until he was old enough to shift for himself.
Harold was born December 19, 1922. Dr. Easily rode out from Ferron on a bald face riding horse with his satchel tied on the saddle bags.
During this time Virginia developed cross-eyes. We don't know what caused it. One seemed to draw in toward her nose. We tried to correct it for some time with glasses, but the doctor said it was no use. We were financially unable to take her to a specialist in Salt Lake but our dear friends Mr. and Mrs. L. C. Moore came to us and offered to let us have the money. In other words they made the arrangements with Dr. Meihr in Salt Lake to have the surgery done and send them the bill.
You can imagine how grateful and humble we were when Virginia came home with perfect vision. Florence was with her during the operation, also Mrs. Moore.
Our next baby, Harlan Eugene, was born October 6, 1925 at Rochester, Utah. Dr. Nixon made the trip out to Rochester through mud in a Model T Ford. Harlan was a poor wrinkled looking little fellow. I guess Florence had worked too hard and dieted too much. She had a lot of heartburn and was very sick, but got better fast after Harlan was born.
Farming was not improving any. In fact, our late water supply was getting worse. The farmers got together and built more dams and reservoirs. Florence took the children along and we all went up on the south side of Ferron mountains and built higher dams and more reservoirs. This helped some but the snows didn't come heavy enough to fill the reservoirs so it was a bad situation to make a living and get money to pay taxes.
In 1926, December 30, a year after Harlan was born, a little white headed boy was born. We named him Stanley Edwin and we now call him Ted. The summer after he was born Florence's mother became very ill, so Florence took the two babies and went back to see her. I took care of Virginia and Harold.
Part of the time I let them stay in Ferron with Lillian and Grandma Nelson. Aunt Lillian had some great times with them and one of her pet teaching lessons was cleanliness. I guess Harold got scrubbed plenty.
One time she took Harold to Price to see a circus. Harold saw some negroes working around the circus and after watching them he turned to someone and said, "Boy, if, Aunt Lillian could get hold of them she'd clean them up." He thought all they needed was some soap and water and they could be made white.
When Florence came home from Manhattan, Kansas she was very sad over her mother's poor health and weary and tired from traveling on the train with two babies. There was only a little over thirteen months between their ages.
It was during the Christmas holidays of 1926 that the Board of Education of Ferron sent me a note asking me to take a teaching position in the place of their principal, Landy Foster, who had suddenly disappeared in thin air.
My team was harnessed and my wagon ready to go over to Emery coal mine and get a load of coal. I looked at the boy standing there waiting for my answer. I said, "No, I've got to get a load of coal." The boy turned, but before he reached the door, Florence practically screamed at him, "Yes, he will take the job". So the next morning I boarded the school bus and went to Ferron to teach.
What a time I had. Every move I made that was not just the way Mr. Foster did, they would say, "That isn't the way Mr. Foster did." The other teachers finally interceded for me and told the students I was the teacher and the authority. I finished up in the spring okay and was asked to take a principalship at Clawson which was three miles north of Ferron. In the meantime I had moved my family along with the milk cow, pigs, chickens, and sheep to Ferron.
Clawson school consisted of fifty or sixty pupils ranging from first to eighth grades. I had a young lady, Miss Evans, from Salt Lake who taught the first four grades and I took the others. Some of the eighth graders were half-grown men.
We had a successful school year. We kept the children happy. I remember towards spring we put on a little minstrel show that we organized and arranged ourselves. All the pupils were blacked up like negroes. Even Florence blacked her face and wore a red bandana handkerchief on her head. She played the piano for our minstrel. But something happened about halfway through the program that sent the parents howling with laughter.
We had put Ted and Harlan in the care of some parent for the duration of the show. We were about halfway through the program when Ted slipped unnoticed away from the parent and Harlan and sat down beside his black mammy. As Ted's hair was about as white as this paper it caused people to laugh and cheer. One parent came up to Florence after the show and asked Florence if she had craved snow before Ted was born.
I rented my farm to a Mr. Law who lived in Ferron. He raised some potatoes, vegetables and peddled them out to the mining camps, but there was little rent money for me.
I moved what livestock I had left and my family to Clawson and taught one more year, 1927-1928 school year. Harold made pets out of some of the little pigs while we lived in Ferron, and he continued to make pets out of one after we moved to Clawson. In fact, he broke the one fat red pig to let him ride. It got so the pig would crawl under the fence and go uptown. We would send Harold after it. In a little while here came Harold riding the pig home. It was a real heart-breaking thing when it came time to butcher the pig. I usually shot the pigs and then cut their throats, but somehow, I don't remember what I had to throw this pig down and in doing so I lost my butcher knife. The pig was squealing until our ears rang as I was reaching for the knife and calling for Harold to hand it to me. After killing the pig Harold ran into the house to Florence crying. She said, "What's the matter, Harold?" He answered, "I can't stand to hear it squeal". I was sorry afterwards that I had let him see the pig being killed.
I had traded a milk cow for a Hupmobile. It was strong and sturdy with a running board wide enough to put a good sized trunk on.
I had negotiated with the Superintendent of Carbon School District to teach in Hiawatha, but with the stipulation that I teach music and shop. So we loaded up the family and some clothes and bedding and left for Utah State Agricultural College as it was then called.
We rented a house of a Mrs. Carlson, which was next door to the State 4H director. I studied music appreciation from a visiting professor, Miss Jessie May Agnew, and took some chorus work under Walter Welti. I also took private vocal instruction from Professor Welti, and I took some wood finish carpentry I had under Prof. Swensen. I also took cold metal work and soldering under Prof. Eggbert. It was a good change for Florence. She had been used to college campus life.
Summer students had several nice watermelon busts and picnics up Logan Canyon. We also took in the daily lectures at the college on world affairs and also in the evenings we listened to lectures from literary visiting faculty members, on such subjects as Goethe, Burns, etc. But Florence also had a little circus all of her own down there in town trying to keep Ted and Harlan from running wild as they did in Rochester.
One day as she looked out our window she saw Ted and Harlan dashing up and down the sidewalk straddle a little bushy branch, but on closer examination she discovered they had each broken off a little shade tree in front of D. P. Murray's home. There was nothing else to do but buy him two more trees to replace them. That cost me $3.00 each.
Summer school was nearly over. I had asked Miss Agnew for a letter of recommendation as to my ability to teach choral music in Junior High school. She gladly gave it, and I received a certificate from the State Board of Education to that effect. I also received my certificate to teach industrial arts by recommendation of Dan Swensen in the industrial arts department of the U.S.A.C.
On July 20th summer school was out. Our Hupmobile needed to be serviced and packed and I had a few credits to get okayed and then we took off for Idaho to spend the rest of the summer with Cliff and Ethel Ralphs, who lived on a farm at Star, Idaho. Ethel was Florence's only sister. She had asked us for a long time to come and see them. We left the morning of July 23, We were just outside Preston, Idaho a few miles when we discovered a screeching, scratching noise in our engine. I pulled into a garage at the next town of Oxford, Idaho. The mechanic on duty told me I had burned out a bearing and he would have to phone in to Salt Lake and have one sent out. It was a little Mormon community and everyone was getting ready for the 24th of July celebration the next day, so we took our camping quilts and food and unloaded them on the school house grounds.
We slept on the ground under a large shade tree. I remember very vividly of having a bat drop out of the tree and landing in my hair. I snatched it out of my hair and threw it quickly, not noticing which way it went. I soon discovered that I had thrown it onto Florence and Virginia's bed from their screams and yelling.
The day after the 24th our parts came for the car and we left in the afternoon. Our road led us by way of American Falls. Much of the way was over dusty chuck hole roads. We had a bed made up in the back seat so the children and their pet dog could sleep as we traveled. I remember as we passed along the American Falls dam the children all yelled in a chorus, "Stop, stop, stop". When I stopped the car they said, "Old Spot jumped out back there". So we had to wait until one of them ran back and brought him back. Spot was a coon hound looking dog that entertained the children with his playful ways. Homer Duncan had given him to the boys while we were living in Clawson.
Cliff and Ethel were happy to see us. They made us welcome and we moved right in with them. Their home was a lumber shiplap house setting on a little hill with a deep well which gave us cool drinking water. The barns were equipped with milking machines. What fun the children had watching Cliff and his boys milk the cows.
It was haying time so I helped Cliff and his neighbors put up the second crop of hay. My muscles were soft and I tired easily, since I had left the farm in Rochester. The neighbors all joined together and had three or four mowers cutting the hay and the rest were raking and hauling it into the stack. What fun we had and what banquets of dinners the wives of the farmers and Florence did prepare.
Cliff belonged to the Dairymen's Association at Caldwell where they made and shipped butter and ice cream. We always had a gallon or so of Toffee ice cream on hand. Cliff had an ice house dug in the side of a hill near a pond, so in the winter he would put up ice to use in the hot summer.
Vacation time was coming to a close. September 1st would soon send us back to school. So we packed our camping quilts and trunk and left one Sunday afternoon for Hiawatha, Utah. It came dark on us somewhere around Mountain Home, Idaho. We found a bare, smooth spot among the tall sagebrush and made our beds. It was a lonely place. We had left
Mountain Home several miles behind. We had not been in bed long when something kept running around close to our bed in the sagebrush. We never knew whether it was a skunk, porcupine or what. Whatever it was left us and we went to sleep, but we didn't sleep long. When we made our beds we had not noticed the railroad track ran parallel with the highway and
about two o'clock in the morning that old freight train went puffing and clanking down the track only a few hundred yards away from us. I raised up and looked and then told Florence it sounded like they were moving hell and the first load was just going past.
We awoke early the next morning. It was a long drive to Hiawatha so we packed up as soon as we could and started out. The next few days after arriving at Hiawatha were spent in getting acquainted with the principal, Henry Dahlsrud and his wife, Dolly, also to meet the other teachers and get my course of teaching organized.
The school building was large with several vacant rooms. There were quite a few tools but I had to order some more such as tools for tin work, leather work and cold rolled steel.
Besides my shop work I taught chorus for both boys and girls. My first chorus met at 8:00
a.m. Besides the music and shop I taught 6th grade history, 7th grade history, 8th grade his tory, and 9th grade civics. I was really loaded down. The next spring I entered my mixed chorus in the spring music contest. I won second place among about six or eight schools. The number that I used was, "To a Wild Rose" by McDowell.
We visited with Mr. and Mrs. Dahlsrud often in the evening, that is, Sunday evening. We played a card game 500 and ate ice cream and cake. Then we also had a group of parents that we played 500 with always finishing up with refreshments and the winning couple always received a prize.
Of course, we felt that we were the upper crust, keeping company with the superintendent, the Cuddy Russells, Joe Palmers, the postmaster and wife, Bowens the Grogans, the Gar bers who was tipple foreman, the city policeman and wife, Steckelmans, and the Dahlsruds. Some of these couples played for blood as we say so if you made the wrong bid or play, they would literally jump down your throat.
The last year being the second year I put on two operettas. The first one was "Paper Prayer", a very colorful Japanese pla y. We rented the fans and bright costumes from the Salt Lake Costume House.
The second was a Dutch play, "Wind mills of Holland," and we rented the wooden shoes and other costumes from Salt Lake Costume.
Some humorous things happened to some of the children while we were living in Hiawatha. Harold was a second grader. His teacher Dolly Dahlsrud tells this story on him. It seems he was slow in getting things done especially when she gave them a test requiring just so many minutes.
This particular morning Harold had been washing and combing his hair for school; We had called him once or twice to hurry him or he'd be late. Finally he dashed out the door and down the shortcut trail to school. Of course, he was late. Mrs. Dahlsrud called him over to
her desk and said "Harold, why are you late?". "Well", he said, "when I started to comb my hair it was five minutes to nine and when I finished combing it was noth'in to nine."
Florence was expecting another baby sometime after Christmas that year 1930, so she was not so active on her feet. She had put Ted and Harlan to bed in their pajamas and left them home with Virginia and Harold, while we were attending a PTA meeting or party at the school house. It seems that Virginia and Harold had put the two little boys to bed and then gone to sleep, but Ted and Harlan did not go to sleep. Instead, they had slipped out the door and wandered down to the company store and were enjoying an evening of window shop ping in their pajamas. All those nice toys, dolls, little wagons, guns, etc. Someone, a friend I don't remember now who, took them home. Boy, we were faces red when we found out what happened while we were gone.
We had a nice old Finnish couple living as neighbors to us. They had some white-haired children like Ted. They did not speak the English language very well, but Mrs. Rahaula took a liking to Ted so every chance Ted had he would run over to see Mrs. Rahaula. She took a little nap in the afternoons. Ted would climb in bed with her with his shoes on and take his afternoon nap with her. He was about two and a half years old.
Well, Florence's time for the little baby was up so Dr. Merrill the camp doctor brought us a cute little blue-eyed baby girl on January 26, 1931. She was skinny and wrinkled, but Flo rence soon took those wrinkles out with plenty of food and water. Lucile Hansen, later Lucile Palmer, helped the doctor. She was so scared that she was shaking and her face was flushed. I think that was her first experience with a delivery.
When school was out we moved to Ferron and rented the Kate Stevens house down by the creek next to Leslie and Maria Cox. I worked for Jess on his farm that summer.
Ted and Harlan used to run over to Jodie Steven's place on the one side of us. He had two or three big white sows. I guess they would weigh three or four hundred pounds apiece. They had a special comer back under a little shed for their toilet. When Mrs. Stevens, Clara,
came out to talk to the boys she said, "Where's the other pig?" Ted spoke up, "She's back there in her bathroom." Clara thoug ht that was a funny expression for a pig·pen.
We had a nice lawn with plenty of shade for the children to play in. I planted a big garden, so we didn't have to buy vegetables.
I went back to Carbon County the next fall in 1931-1932. I was assigned a 7th grade in Spring Canyon. The principal was Mr. Steele, who lived in Midway, Utah. He drove home almost every weekend.
My sister Lillian was teaching in Price. She had rented an apartment in the basement of Aunt Silvia's basement, so I lived with her and rode the school bus to Spring Canyon night and morning. Florence and the children moved back to the farm. The two children rode the Emery School bus to school in Ferron.
It was a lonely winter for Florence and the children out there on the farm. Our cistern walls had been eroded away by the alkali in the shale, so they could not use the water because of the alkali seepage. Harold brought their drinking water from our neighbor's cistern in a bar-
rel tied on a sleigh. He used a horse to pull the sleigh. This was after the water in the canal had frozen and they turned the water out of the canal.
I tried to go home as often as I could find a way. No one was farming my land, so it just lay
there idle. I kept one horse there for the family to use to pull the sleigh. Florence showed a great deal of courage during times like this to ride it out and make the best of it.
I had bought a piano the first year I taught music. I didn't know where the payments were coming from but I knew somehow we would manage. I guess the song, "What does it mat ter, as long as you love me and I love you, what does it matter?" explains my feelings at this time. I remember buying this song and bringing home with the piano.
Florence would play the piano and have the children sing in the evening. Sometimes while they were waiting in the mornings for the school bus they would stand around the piano and sing. They sang songs such as "Put your Shoulder to the Wheel" and "America the Beautiful".