Showing posts with label pongee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pongee. Show all posts

Monday, August 20, 2012

One Man's Journey - Part X


via Wikimedia Commons
Somewhere along the line our parents had acquired a house in Caldwell. I can only guess that it was in part payment for our place east of Caldwell. The house was frame constructed, no bathroom, no running water, a privy and woodshed; but it did have electric light, those that hung down from the center of the ceiling. One of the first things that Bill did was get up on the table, screw out the bulb and stick his finger in the socket. It knocked him off the table. You can be sure that we didn’t try that again.

Arthur born October 1912

I don’t remember anything about Arthur’s birth. I guess we just woke up one morning and had a new brother. He was a good baby and we loved him very much. {Arthur was born on October 6, 1912.}

School in Caldwell

This was my third year in school and Bill’s second. The school was only a couple of blocks from our home, so we could go home for lunch. I really don’t remember too much about this period since we only stayed there for two – two and a half months and then we moved back to our home on the river. Don’t remember too much about the school, teachers or other children except a pair of twin boys who were in my class the third grade. Their name was “Love.” Colonel and I thought the name was funny or strange.

Back on the farm we continued with the same routine, walking the one and a quarter mile to school and other responsibilities we had.

School 1912/1913

Heidi
Jessie Willcox Smith via Wikimedia Commons
This was a seven-month school year. Up to this point, I’d had six months of schooling and Colonel had had three months, but as I believe I mentioned above, Mama had taught us many things and had read several books to us. I believe the most interesting to us was Heide. This was the first school year that we had a man teacher, and for some reason I had a tough time learning. It could have been caused by the unsettled conditions, the male teacher, or pressure put on by older and larger students. It must be remembered that many of these pupils were 16 to 18 years old and had had very little schooling. There was continuous fighting at recess and the back side of the woodshed was a popular spot for this type of activity. Even some of the boys who stayed home would ride to school horseback and engage in some of the activities. The male teacher did not have any control over the situation since some of the outsiders, as well as students, were perhaps older and certainly larger than he was. I remember that he was quite liberal with the pointer and the sharp edge of a ruler, but it was always the smaller group that got the punishment.

Papa had informed Colonel and me that if we got whipped at school, we could expect the same when we got home, so we were careful not to get into too many hassles.

Heaven knows we got into enough trouble on our own without getting involved with other people. The male teacher lasted three to four months and a new female teacher was hired. Things settled down to some extent, but as far as I was concerned, the school year was a flop. I did not pass into the fourth grade! I took it pretty hard, but with the help of my mother, I studied hard all summer and was really ready for them the first of school year 1913.

It didn’t take a week for a promotion into the fourth grade and from then on, I didn’t have too much trouble. However, I was not a good student, not too high marks. I had to work for everything. Colonel, on the other hand, never studied much and always got pretty high grades. I still have my eighth-grade certificate.

We had spelling contests with other schools – Deer Flats, Central Cove, etc. It is hard to believe, but I won one contest and was the last speller up on our side in the other contest.

The Farm 1911/1912


Poplar Trees, Bobbingworth, Essex - geograph.org.uk - 80057
poplar trees via Wikimedia Commons
By this time, the farm was being built up. We had irrigation water. 1910 a well was drilled, it was 119 feet deep, so we had to add a piece of pipe to the handle to make it easier pumping. The water was very hard, but it was clear and cold, certainly easier than hauling from the spring or river.

Fruit trees and a small vineyard and berry patch had been planted. The poplar trees that Mama had planted on three sides of the house had taken hold and were doing well and giving us some needed shade.

Summer 1912

Along about this time, my father’s brother, Robert, showed up with his wife, Madge. They pitched a tent under the trees in our back yard. Their son, James, was born in that tent some time during the summer. Aunt Madge was a wonderful person. She could bake the best bread I’ve ever eaten. Colonel and I were always begging for bread or cookies. They stayed only the summer. Papa didn’t like the way Uncle Bob handled the horses, so he asked them to leave.

Uncle Bob, prior to their arrival at our place, had owned some land near where the present day Ballard locks are now located. They had two or three children there, all of whom died and are buried in one of the cemeteries near Ballard. I’ve always wanted to check on this story, but have never taken the time to investigate. [I could write several pages on their story, but I don’t think it would serve a purpose.] {Bob and Madge had three children who were born and died in Seattle: Alice Elizabeth (20 Nov 1907-11 Jan 1908), Robert William (6 Jun 1909-9 Jul 1909) and Marjory May (2 Dec 1910-21 Jan 1911). According to the Washington State Digital Archives records, James Robert was born in Seattle in 1912. However, Henry James was born December 18, 1913 in Idaho.}

[Pause. 1911/1912]

There was so much happening during these years that it is hard to keep them in order.

I believe it was before Arthur’s birth that Mama became quite ill. I remember that she got a lot of her teeth pulled and all the dentist had to give her to deaden the pain was whiskey. I’m not sure when she had the operation. Papa took her to Boise where her appendix was removed along with a few other things. Bill and I were left alone much of the time, and I remember we were very worried. It was a very troublesome time for us. Before Mama got home, Papa hired a woman to help out. I don’t remember her name. I do know that she couldn’t cook very well and our diet of raw pancakes did not go well with us.

I don’t think the farm was producing very much at this point. The trees on three sides of the house were doing well and giving us some much needed shade. Fruit trees had been planted - peach, pear, prune and grapes (concord).

We were still tied to the nineteenth century at this point. Tasks were accomplished in about the same manner they had been for the past 50 – 75 years. Change was very slow. Although the internal combustion engine had been invented and there was electricity in urban areas, it was going to be many years before such conveniences would do the people in the outback very much good. It was still an animal-powered economy, and would continue to be up into the late 1920s.

It took a lot of time and effort and land just to produce enough to feed a family and the animals necessary who supplied the power to do the work. As stated somewhere above, Papa usually kept four to six horses, two to four cows and their offspring, and of course a few pigs.

We had a derrick that Papa built to stack hay. When he butchered in the fall, the animal, or animals, were hauled to the end of the boom. And since we did not have refrigeration, they would stay there until consumed, which was always before the end of winter, frozen solid.

At school, Colonel and I had special friends that liked to do the things we did. These two brothers were about the same age as we were. They lived about one mile south of the school and about one and a half miles west of our place. Their names – Giles and Edmund Bacon – maybe more on them later. {Giles and Edmund Bacon were the sons of Robert S. and Catherine Bacon.}

Dress (clothes)

I must take time here to describe our dress and other living conditions.


ButtonhookOur parents kept us well dressed considering the times and economic conditions. To school we always wore bib overalls as did all other boys, but on Sundays and the occasional trip to Caldwell, we always wore knickers with black cotton stockings held up by a harness that fitted over the shoulders and fastened to the top of the stocking with a sliding clip, about the same as ladies used for the same purpose, only theirs were fastened to a corset. We sure hated these things and eventually got around to using an elastic band that held the stocking just about the knee and also shut off all circulation to the lower leg and feet. I think it was about this time that button shoes were in style. This also was a miserable situation since you always had to carry a button hook around with you. Maybe more about shoes later.

Mama made nearly all our shirts, so we had various colors and shapes and sizes. One time, she got real fancy and bought some pongee, tan (Dark) in color. According to the dictionary, it is a light silk produced by wild silk worms that feed on oak leaves. We liked these shirts. They were light and cool. I don’t think we wore them out, but probably outgrew them.

We generally wore caps for school, church and visits to town. But for everyday summer wear, we always had wide brim straw hats (not so-called Western style known today). We always went barefoot in the summer, so it was tough getting into those button shoes on Sunday.

We always had our hair clipped short (shaved) in the spring. It wasn’t until I was 14-15 before I began to feel embarrassed about the shaved head.

Clothes – Mama and Papa

William Rutherford Aitchison
Papa had one suit that was worn only on Sundays, special events or to town. These suits were always made of wool, so you can imagine how uncomfortable it must have been in hot weather. Cotton socks, laced shoes. Men didn’t generally wear button shoes. And felt hat with wide brim. Shirts Mama made. They were cotton and cold have been any color. I don’t think we wore underwear in summer.

Mama wore long dresses and skirts, button shoes, black cotton stockings and long hair. For the life of me, I’ll never be able to understand how she managed dressed like that and work over a hot wood or coal fire with 100 to 120 degrees in the shade outside. Washing in a tub with a washboard wasn’t an easy trick, either. All women had to do it, so Mama was not an exception. I believe I explained the soap making above.

Sam Wickham was an exception. He wore wool long johns in the summer. He said it kept him cool!!?

Farming

Farming in those days was a chancy job. First, you had to grow enough food for the family and all of the food for the animals that helped produce the food for the family, so you worked at least half of the land just to do those two things. We usually had four to six horses, two to four cows and their offspring as well as four to ten or twelve hogs. Our consumption of meat was pretty heavy, so one to two hogs were consumed each year as well as a beef and, of course, in between was chicken, turkey and sometimes a goose. We ate lots of potatoes and corn. Since Papa raised the corn primarily for the hogs, we had lots of it. Some of it we ground into meal and Mama made hominy out of it, too. The pigs were a cash crop, so they got the most of it.
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to be continued...