GEORGE MERRILL LAUPPE
Part I - 1991
Part II - 1998
I, George Merrill Lauppe, arrived January 2, 1935, at William Newton Memorial Hospital in Winfield, Kansas. My names were selected due in part to tradition and in honor of an individual. George was my Grandfather Lauppe's name, as it was his father's. The name George has been used six times in the Lauppe ancestry since 1620 in Germany. Merrill was the married name of a Winfield lady for whom my mother worked prior to my parent's marriage. I remember visiting Mrs. Merrill several times in her large house on the hill near Southwestern College, prior to her death shortly after we moved from the Tisdale community. Her yard had stone retaining walls of varying levels which presented a real climbing challenge.
Nineteen thirty-five (1935) was the first year the City of Winfield presented gifts to the parents of the year's first-born baby. I arrived early enough for my parents Harold Omer and Ione Elizabeth Ruggles Lauppe to receive several gifts presented by local merchants. Gifts included: $10.00 credit toward a square-tub Maytag washing machine, which was taken advantage of (I have the one-cylinder engine of that machine); baby's first photograph; baby pillow; a cotton dress for mother; free eggs and dressed poultry for mother's first meal home; special rate on shoe repair (ladies half-sole, 75˘ and men's, 85˘; a floral gift; mother's shampoo and finger wave; thirty quarts of milk; five gallons of gasoline; a free case of Coca-Cola; and a free cedar tree which was set out south of the southwest porch at Grandpa and Grandma Lauppe's house. The tree was still alive in 1998. The total hospital bill was $32.50, which my father had to borrow (no health insurance then).
Home for us for the first six years was six miles east of Winfield on US Highway 160 and one-half mile south in the Tisdale community. Following Grandpa Lauppe's death in January 1941, we moved in with Grandma Lauppe on her farm, two and one-half miles west and two miles south of Burden, near Silver Creek School, where I lived until August 1956. In October 1951 I started dating a young lady (Marceil Ring) who was in my junior class at Burden High School. We were married December 27, 1955. At that time we were both in higher education programs, Marceil in a Registered Nurse program at Wesley Hospital in Wichita and me a junior at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas. Marceil graduated August 1956 at which time we rented an apartment in Winfield, where we lived until moving to Lawrence, Kansas, where I had accepted a teaching position at Haskell Institute (now Haskell Indian Nations University), the federally operated high school for Native Americans (referred to as Indians).
Because of the two major moves, my life seems to have three distinct periods corresponding to the communities in which we lived: 1) Tisdale, 1935-1940; 2) Silvercreek/Burden/Winfield, 1941-1957; and 3) Lawrence, 1957-present.
I am indebted to English teacher Dee Akins for making spelling and sentence structure consistent with current accepted publishing practices and Barbara Johnson, typist of theses and dissertations, for her ability to interpret and type my memories from those hundreds of 3x5 water- and food-stained cards.
For several years I have considered recording some of my life experiences, since lifestyles have changed drastically during the last sixty years.
Gone are the days of farming with horses, traveling via horse and buggy, living without electricity, going to a one-room country school with one teacher teaching all eight grades, the outhouse, reading and studying by kerosene lights, no radio to listen to or television to watch, no INTERNET to communicate with unknown individuals, wondering each day what type of weather one will have an hour hence, impromptu visits to neighbors or relatives, going to a small town shopping on a summer Saturday evening where stores stayed open till midnight or when one visited with neighbors or friends on those same streets until stores closed, playing "king of the mountain" on straw stacks, seeing steam locomotives pull passenger and freight trains, watching a "newsreel" of fighting action during WWII and part of a cereal movie prior to the feature movie, butchering hogs or cattle under a tree or in the barn driveway, harvesting grain by binding with a binder then shocking the bundles by hand and several weeks later threshing the grain with a threshing machine and threshing crew of up to fifteen men, driving cattle several miles to pasture, hand pumping water for livestock several hours at a time nonstop, making lye soap for laundry using hog fat cooked in a large steel kettle in the yard near the wood pile, no telephone, etc.
On several occasions after relating a life experience I was encouraged to record that episode, along with others, in writing. Time to reflect on my many memories and record them in writing did not present itself with family, job, and hobby responsibilities, until after retirement from Haskell Indian Junior College (now Haskell Indian Nations University) in 1985, and employment in 1986 with the Douglas County Appraisers Office. One gentleman (Glenn Jones) in the appraisal office and I had been going to lunch together on a regular basis when the county implemented a new policy which required every county employee to live in Douglas County. Glenn lived just outside the county so was terminated in 1989. I was unable to find another county employee to join me for lunch. One day, after Glenn’s termination, while sitting in a restaurant waiting for the waitress to take my order, food to be delivered, and following the meal until my lunch hour was over, I decided I could be writing my memoir. So for the next eight years, each workday when other obligations did not take priority I wrote on 3x5 index cards, as they fit into my shirt pocket. The first three years only me and an occasional curious waiter or waitress knew I was writing, what I considered my total memoir, which is of the Tisdale community – Part I.
Upon presenting the finished document – Part I – to family and friends they strongly encouraged me to continue writing about events following our family’s move from the Tisdale community to the Burden community. Over the next five years, at lunch, I recorded some of the more noteworthy events while living in the Silver Creek/Burden communities, as well as that brief time while living in Winfield, which constitutes Part II.
The Lawrence, Kansas community, after September 1957 – Part III – has not been started as of this writing (May 1998). However, in retirement I hope to schedule a time for recording noteworthy events.
My purpose for writing this memoir is to share in writing many of my life experiences, as well as describe them in such detail that those interested can locate the place of occurrence; relate dying farm activities performed for centuries with horses as it yielded to modern tractor-powered farming; portray life’s encounters with family, relatives and neighbors, as it was in the late thirties, forties, and early fifties, which made farm life so rewarding and provided me an opportunity, for a few moments, to relive each of those cherished memorable events.
Writing this memoir has been a real challenge as it is my first attempt to write more than just a few pages on any one subject. My hope is that it is written in such a fashion that you can gain from it in several ways.
|Death of Grandfather Ruggles||
|Death of Grandfather Lauppe||
|Death of Great-Grandfather Harris||
|Pitch -Tisdale Community||
|Happenings Around Home||
|Uncle Jay and Aunt Ollie Bowser||
|World War II||
|Horses and Mules||
|Dating and Marriage||
|Move to Lawrence||
Prior to March 1941 and Later
The following describes many of my memories of happenings that occurred while our family lived in the Tisdale community or when we continued to worship at the Tisdale Methodist Church and visit with former neighbors after moving away in 1941.
Undoubtedly, those first six years, prior to moving, had a great influence on my life as in later years and now I still cherish those many good times while living in that community.
Even though Great-Grandfather Harris' death occurred soon after we moved away from the Tisdale community, its account is included in this section to accompany death narrations of both of my grandfathers.
|Death of Grandfather Ruggles||(father of my mother, Ione Ruggles Lauppe)|
James Elza Ruggles -
|B - 12/20/1871|
|D - 02/02/1940|
February 2, 1940. The weather that February morning was cold as it had snowed approximately six inches during the night.
Brother Dwain and I were playing mid-morning in the snow-covered driveway with a set of twenty-four-inch diameter cultivator wheels mounted twenty-four inches apart on a pipe axle (no sled to play in the snow).
While playing, our neighbor girl Ms. Cranston, who lived one-quarter mile north, on U.S. Highway 160, which is six miles east of Winfield, walked into our driveway and up to the house. Her walk was necessitated due to lack of a telephone in our house.
Shortly after she walked away we were called to the house and informed we could not play now because "we are going to Grandpa Ruggles." He lived about six miles away at the north edge of New Salem.
On arrival we found several other family members discussing final arrangements, for Grandpa had died suddenly. It was later in the day when Grandpa's body was brought back to the house in a black hearse which backed up to the never-used west front door. A gray casket was unloaded and carried with difficulty to the second floor. Different family members, son and daughters, took turns sitting with the body at night until funeral services were completed.
It was in viewing Grandpa's body in that gray casket in the poorly lit, cold room shortly after getting it upstairs that I first experienced death.
Mother spent one night sitting with the body. The day of the funeral we waited in the living room as the casket was carried downstairs and through the living room's west door where the hearse was waiting.
We then went immediately to the church.
Funeral services were in the New Salem Presbyterian Church, less than two blocks from Grandpa's house. Burial was in Rose Valley Cemetery, about four miles south of where we lived.
Grandpa died from a heart attack while Aunt Urdeen and Betty Jane Stiff, whom grandparents and Aunt Urdeen raised from the time she was a baby, was a block and a half away milking the cows.
At the time of Grandpa's death he was blind.
Recollection of Grandfather Ruggles
Grandfather Ruggles was rather short in stature, probably about 5'6", with a gray beard. He was always in the house when we visited. Due to blindness he spent most of the day in their living room on a "day bed," which we had in our home for a number of years following grandfather's death.
He apparently did not make much of an impression as the only thing I remember is his harmonica playing. He would tell me to go to the kitchen and ask Aunt Urdeen to give me his harmonica which was kept on top of the solid black walnut pie cupboard at the extreme right front corner. I now have the pie cupboard. He sat on the edge of the day bed with brother Dwain on his right knee and me on the left one playing beautiful songs on that bright shiny harmonica. After playing to us he would let us blow "carefully" on his harmonica.
Other things I remember while visiting Grandpa, Aunt Urdeen, and Betty Jane in New Salem include:
"Going After The Cows." - They lived in a white two-story frame house on the east side of the street at the north end of a dead-end street. Adjacent to the property was a native grass pasture of approximately ten acres which extended behind the houses across the street west from Grandpa's. One block south and one block west was a small barn/shed in which Aunt Urdeen and Betty Jane milked the cows. It was always fun to go with them of evenings to drive the cows from the pasture to the barn at milking time.
"Steam Engine Tractor." - Directly across the street west from Grandpa's house lived Joe Fishback, a tall skinny fellow, who parked his steam engine in front of his house, headed south. It sure was fun to climb on and see it run and the fire when the fire box door was open.
"Grocery Shopping." - Downtown New Salem was about three blocks south and east of Grandpa's house. Groceries were bought at either of the stores on the west side of the single block of stores. Usually groceries were bought at the north store. The east side of that block had houses and the city water well with pump and gazebo type shelter over it painted green. At the sound end of the block and immediately south of the well was the sole gas station and service garage. Attached to the south side of the gas station was a shed which housed a large saw used to cut trees into lumber.
My father had several large poles sawed into dimension lumber, 2 x 4's and 2 x 6's. The stack of lumber was at least 10' long, 8' wide, and 6' high. The poles came from a rather large railroad bridge spanning a creek running through the pasture where we lived. The lumber is a full 2"x4" or 2"x6", rough sawn. Some of that lumber is still in the old hay barn on the Lauppe home place.
"Sleeping at Grandpa's Overnight." - The first time I remember sleeping away from home was at Grandpa's. Everything was fine until after we had gone to bed, Dwain in bed with Betty Jane and me with Aunt Urdeen. I suddenly missed my parents and my own bed and started crying. After a long time of crying and various words of comfort from Aunt Urdeen she finally said, "Why can't you be quiet and go to sleep like your little brother?" Apparently it must have worked as I do not recall crying all night.
"Road to Grandpa's." - The road Daddy usually followed into New Salem was straight north of our house until we were one mile south of town, then west one mile, then north about one mile into the west edge of town. That road took us past the bee man's house, where we bought honey on occasion, past a creek on the west side of the road where some guy's Model T Ford was stuck in the mud one time.
"Public Sale." - Following Grandpa's death, Aunt Urdeen had a public sale to dispose of livestock and furniture. I do not remember attending the sale but do remember that Mother bought a female Jersey calf which was about two months old. Mother named her "Decky." I don't remember why. She turned out to be a pet and one of the best milk cows we had. Her milk stall was the extreme north one of the six.
|Death of Grandfather Lauppe||(father of my father, Harold Lauppe)|
George Elmer Lauppe
|B - 12/31/1873|
|D - 01/29/1941|
January 29, 1941 was a beautiful day. Daddy was working a team of horses near the barn about mid-afternoon. A black shiny two-door 1940 Ford sedan drove rapidly into our driveway. Its driver, who lived about one mile west of Grandpa and Grandma Lauppe, was Frank Weigle. He talked to Daddy a few minutes, then got in his car and drove away.
Promptly Daddy stopped working the horses and put them in the barn. When he harnessed or unharnessed the teams I liked to sit in a nearby horse feed grain box, which is part of the hay manger, and watch. That afternoon he did not remove the harness as usual, but only their bridles. I asked him why he was not taking the harness off the horses and he said Grandpa Lauppe was sick so we were going to their house. We hurriedly left for Grandpa's. Daddy drove that black 1935 Chevrolet two-door sedan faster than ever before. He drove so fast that muddy water splashed on the windshield as we went through mud holes south of Carol Cook's house. It stuck on the windshield so bad that we about ran into the ditch. Mother said, "You better slow down." Apparently Daddy did not slow down as that old Chevy banged and bounced over those rocks protruding into the road half a mile east of
Boss Power's house when we started down the hill into the valley and again coming out of the valley on the east side. After sliding on the rounding curve and heading north, that old Chevy engine roared and fence posts whizzed by like never before. Again Mother said, "Harold, you better slow down." He only seemed to drive faster again after getting through the "S" curve, then heading straight north again.
At the north end of that mile road we did not slow to turn east to Grandpa's house as usual, but went straight north another mile just past the Silver Creek school on the west side of the road, to a strange place. One of Daddy's first cousins, Dale Harris, and his family, consisting of two daughters Yvonne and Marilyn, lived on the eighty-acre farm that belonged to Great-Grandfather John Green Harris. We were invited into their living room where we learned that Grandpa, Grandma, and her sister Etta Harris Lauppe, who was visiting from her farm near Meade, Kansas, were headed for the town of Burden, about five miles from Grandpa's. About one hundred fifty yards north of Dale's house was a draw and bridge with a big mud hole. Grandpa's green and black four-door 1927 Buick sedan got stuck in the mud hole. He walked back up the hill to Dale's to have a team of horses pull the old Buick with Grandma and Aunt Etta in it out of the mud. He had just entered the front yard and was approaching the front porch when he collapsed. Ethel, Dale's wife, saw him walking and collapse but did not recognize him. Thinking a stranger had collapsed, she went to the field to get Dale. By the time Dale got to Grandpa and the Burden ambulance drove four miles out of town, it was too late to save him. He had died from a heart attack.
Attending Grandpa's funeral service were two of his farmer brothers from "out west" (Meade County) -- Uncle Alta, married to Grandmother Lauppe's sister Etta, and Uncle Austin, another farmer from near Yoder, Colorado. That was the only time I ever saw him since he did not come back to Kansas for the funerals of two other brothers and two sisters.
I remember Grandma Lauppe had a meal in her house just prior to the funeral when Grandpa's four surviving brothers and two sisters, plus Grandma, Daddy, and Aunts Mabel and Olive were seated around the dining room table. All four brothers -- Uncle Austin, Alta, Deam and Jake -- were seated on the south side of the table. Aunts Mary and Jen were seated on the table's north side. I do not remember how the other family members were seated. The kids were served later.
Funeral services were held in the Burden Methodist Church, a one-story white frame building, with many folding doors along the north side of the sanctuary which opened into a large room used for Sunday School classes. Burial was in the Burden cemetery, one mile north and one-half mile east of the church.
|Death of Great-Grandfather Harris||(father of Grandmother Hattie Harris Lauppe)|
John Green Harris
|B - 09/13/1849|
|D - 04/17/1942|
April 17, 1942 weather-wise was a perfect day for the last day of school at Silver Creek School, which was a one-room white wood frame building, three miles west and one mile south of Burden, Kansas. It was one-half mile west and one mile north of our house in the extreme northwest corner of the same section as our house. Activities started mid-morning with a program consisting of a small skit, band numbers, and poems. My part was to play the "sticks" in the rhythm band and recite a short poem. Following the program was the "Last Day of School Pot Luck Dinner." Afternoon activity for the last day of school traditionally was a baseball game between fathers and sons. Women and daughters must have visited. The ball game was over and most other schoolmates and parents had gone home. We were about ready to depart school for the last time that first year of school for me when Aunt Blanche and Uncle Ira Powers, who lived less than one-fourth mile east of school, stopped on their way home from Winfield. That's when we learned that Great-Grandfather Harris had died in the early afternoon. Funeral services were held two days later on a rainy and very muddy day. It was so muddy that some cars and even the hearse experienced difficulty getting to the Grand Prairie Cemetery, one mile east and three miles north of Burden. The funeral procession went straight north of the Burden Methodist Church, then east and to the north cemetery entrance, which is less of an incline than the east entrance. Great Grandpa's casket was carried from the road to the grave side. Rain during the services at the cemetery found several people staying in their cars. It rained so much that one could hear water running in the open grave during the service. After the service the casket was moved and water dipped from the open grave so it would not float when lowered into the grave.
Grandpa Harris was the third grandfather to die in as many years.
Great-Grandfather John Green Harris
As I recall, he was a tall, thin gentleman, who lived at the north end of the block on Seventh and Fuller, just north of Winfield's Ninth Street Fire Station. We stopped to see Grandpa Harris quite often as his house was on our way to and from downtown Winfield since we lived six miles east of town.
His living room contained two unique pieces of furniture to our house. They were namely, a huge brown wood radio about two feet wide and four feet high, with cloth covered slits in the wood front. It sat along the east wall, south of the window. Along the south wall was a day bed divan with the high head.
Grandpa always had the same question each visit, "Have you caught any birds or rabbits yet?" He would tell us, "The way to catch them is to put salt on their tails."
It was always fun to watch big red goldfish swimming in his blue concrete sunken fish pond between the house and the garage. After Grandpa's death in 1942, several of the goldfish were placed in the livestock tanks at the windmill west of the barns at our farm. Those fish survived in the two stock tanks for at least forty years.
A red tile single car garage sat south of the house near the alley. Grandpa did not have a car. However, the garage was always full of walnut wood furniture Grandpa had made. He made drop-leaf tables, straight-back chairs, rocking chairs (standard and children size), magazine racks, foot stools, shoe shelves, etc. He made the small walnut wood rocking chair for me. The straight back walnut chair with padded seat, magazine rack and foot stool, which I have, are his products.
At the time Grandpa bought his first 160-acre farm one mile east and three miles north of Burden, he planted several walnut trees. When he sold the farm several years later, it was on condition that when the trees matured they were his to harvest. Hence, all furniture he made during retirement years was made of walnut.
We always looked forward to visiting Grandpa so we could go one block south to the fire station and look at the big red fire engines and always hoped they would make a fire run so we could hear the sirens and see them drive out of the station, which did occur several times.
Grandpa's second wife was a small, thin lady whom I vaguely remember. I think she died prior to Grandpa. One apparently true story is told about her. She did not wash supper plates until she had turned them upside down and served fried eggs for breakfast on the bottom.
I remember waiting in the car in front of Grandpa's house for an endless period of time until the hearse arrived for Grandma Harris' funeral.
Another story repeated over and over about Grandpa Harris concerned times when the Walnut River flooded downtown Winfield. Water would get into Grandpa's house but he would not move out. He put his bed on four chairs and slept at night above the water.
He was progressive as he, along with J. F. Henderson, Marceil's great- grandfather, built the Telephone Exchange in Burden and ran line #1 out to his three daughters' and one sons farms about five miles southwest of Burden. Our phone ring was one long ring and one short ring until the dial system was installed around 1967. One long ring was for "Central" or operator, and five short rings meant all call -- everyone listened at the same time for a message, like school being cancelled or a fire in the neighborhood.
He manufactured the cement blocks used to construct the small one-story telephone building. It was about ten feet south of the stone City Hall building in Burden. The building was about 20'x20' with floor level about 16" above sidewalk level with a sheet metal awning over the sidewalk. It stood until the early 1980s.
Another venture of his was Burden's water system. He pushed it by getting residents to sign up, by hand digging holes for the water tower footings, and running pumps at the spring a mile and one-half west and one-half mile north of town.
He also installed scales which were available to farmers at night when the elevator scales were closed. He charged 10˘ to weigh a wagon. He kept half the charge and turned the rest over to the City of Burden. It made each of them $8.00 to $10.00 per month.
The late 1930s were still not an ideal financial time for farmers since things had just started to rebound from the Depression. However, that did not keep the younger couples in the Tisdale community from getting together on a regular monthly basis, and then some, for pitch parties. Parties were always held in a different home each session.. Usually eight or ten couples with kids attended. Those I recall attending besides our family were Uncle Bill and Aunt Grace Ruggles, Maurice and Melvin; Aunt Babe and Uncle Glenn Miller, Curtis and Marlene; John and Edna Stover; Ed and Margaret Seegler, Carl and Sister; Oscar and Bertha Scholey and daughter Phyliss; Alma and Bill Bell, Stanley and Brother; May and Earl Benjamin (older children); Les and Etha Ellinger, Bob and Phyllis (older); Uncle Charles and Aunt Olive and Marjorie, and others from time to time.
The evening was filled with parents playing cards at different tables throughout the evening. Scores were kept with two prizes given, one for highest score and lowest score. I don't know how score was kept, except I think they played seven point pitch and moved to a different table after each game. During the winter months several games were played prior to sandwiches, pies, cakes, coffee, and hot chocolate. After desert, more rounds of cards were played. Several times during the summer weather several took ice cream freezers to the game party. Then two to four men turned the freezers at the same time.
Several times the group had surprise parties which were unannounced to the party holder. For a surprise party everybody, with the exception of the family who did not know a party was going to be at their house, gathered at the home of a party member closest to the location of the surprise party. All went at the same time with horns honking and cowbells ringing. I remember them gathering at our house twice -- once to surprise John and Edna Stover, who lived one-half mile south, and once to surprise the Fry's, who lived one-half mile south and one-half mile east, on the south side of the road.
One winter Saturday evening we got dressed and went shopping in Winfield. On the way home, probably 8:30 to 9:00 p.m., as we topped the hill by Johnson's, one-half mile north and one-half mile west of home, Daddy noticed lights in our house. He said to Mother, "Didn't you blow the lights out before we left home?" She thought for a moment and replied, "No, we did not light the lights before we left home." She was right, as I remember it was still light when we started to town, because it was very unusual to leave home at that time of day when it was about dark. On arrival at home we found the yard full of cars and the house full of card group members playing cards. When they arrived for one of the surprise parties and found no one at home they came on in, started a fire in the living room stove, built a larger fire in the kitchen stove, opened the only downstairs bedroom door, set up card tables, made coffee, hot chocolate, sandwiches and were playing cards while waiting for us to return home. What a surprise!!
Another night pitch was held as Oscar and Bertha Scholey's, one-half mile north and one-half mile east. There must have been at least six inches of snow on the ground and it was still snowing when it was time to leave for Scholey's. Rather than walk the mile via road, we took a shortcut across a field and the pasture. After the party was over, a couple by the name of Smith, who lived in Winfield, offered us a ride back home. We all piled in their black 1939 or 1940 Ford, along with another couple. Snow was so deep the car got stuck going up the hill in Scholey's driveway. All three of the men got out and pushed the car up the drive. I was not allowed to get out and push even though I wanted to. After letting us out at home, Mr. Smith had some trouble getting out of our driveway even though it was level. Daddy started out to help push them near the road but wasn't needed as the driver managed to get onto the road himself.
It must have been during the month of October that one of the parties was held at May and Earl Benjamin's, one-half mile north and two miles east, and one-half mile north, then back off the road east of us. They lived in a large house with a kitchen on the east, dining and living room on the south, and two bedrooms on the north side, with a continuous screened porch on the south side and east sides of the house.
At one point during the evening I discovered that all the other kids had vanished. I went from room to room and could not find them. Next I started looking on the porch from the living room but could not see any of them. None were visible from the dining room. There was only one place left to look and that was from the kitchen. I went to the east kitchen screen door with my hands shielding my eyes so I could see onto the dark porch. As I stood there peeking out with my eyes adjusting to the dark, suddenly several terrible frightening looking faces came screaming at me. I was so scared that I ran from the kitchen, through the dining room and living room, and into the northwest bedroom. Mother and Daddy could not get me to stop crying so after a long period of time had Betty Jane to try and console me. At one point to try and show me there was nothing to be afraid of, the kids with masks brought them in to show me. I remember crying long after we were home and had gone to bed.
Another party was held at John and Edna Stover's. Sometimes the group sang when George Leftwich came to play his violin, Boyd Leftwich a guitar, Rush Leftwich from Burden, a banjo, and a piano was available. That night was another surprise party. I remember lying in the middle of their living room floor and going to sleep listening to the music and singing.
Quite a few things happened to make life interesting in the Tisdale community besides those already related. They made up my boyhood memories in many ways:
"Unit (HDU) Meetings." - Mother, like most of the women in the Tisdale community, belonged to a Home Demonstration Unit, which met on a monthly basis.
Those "Unit" meetings were held on a week day afternoon in a different home each month. I remember particularly well one of the meetings was at Scholey's, either late fall or early spring. Joann Fry, my age, and I had gone outside to play, even though it was very cool, without our coats. We were in the hog pen wading in mud when our shoes became stuck in the mud. I finally left my shoes and also Joann stuck in the hog pen mud. After I had gone back to the house and had played awhile, our mothers missed us and asked a number of times where Joann was, as well as where were my shoes. I finally showed them, then got in trouble for leading Joann into the hog pen and leaving her without telling the mothers.
Another Unit meeting which would have been later, maybe during the summer, was held at Aunt Grace and Uncle Bill Ruggles'. At that time they were living two miles east of Winfield, on the south side of the road on what was known as the Lunsford farm. This was prior to the Ruggles moving one-half mile east of Uncle Jay and Aunt Ollie's where they were living when Maurice started first grade in 1939 (five miles south of Cranston's corner). Natural gas was being piped into the house with a ditch in their front yard for the lines and meter. It sure was fun playing in the ditch until time to get out. Maurice crawled out, helped Melvin out, then they both left me trying to get out. After what seemed like a lot of crying and a long time, Mother and Aunt Grace came to my rescue.
"Bumble Bees." - Probably the most vivid was bumble bees. One of the cow pastures was about one-half block north of the house. It was a summer evening about milking time when Mother took me down the road with her as far as the pasture gate. I was instructed to stand between the road and pasture fence north of the gate while Mother went out into the pasture after our cows. While Mother was rounding up our cows, I was tromping in the grass in my designated waiting area. The call of nature came so I stepped farther back, closer to the fence so no one would see me if a car came down the road. I proceeded to pee when suddenly the air was full of big black buzzing bumble bees coming from the grass where I was peeing. I was dressed in short-legged union alls and no shoes. Needless-to-say, the bumble bees were not happy about having their home wet down and attacked my bare legs. After being stung I ran out of the grass with the bees after me. After I got away from their nest and out in the road they stopped flying after and stinging me. I still remember jumping up and down in the road and screaming until Mother got there. She took me to the barn and set me on the hayrack wagon to look at my legs. I kept repeating over and over, "My legs are broken, my legs are broken." Mother said, "No, your legs are not broken, you can still walk. They just sting and hurt."
"Buck Sheep." - Another summer evening, while Mother and Daddy were milking, I was attacked by a mean buck sheep. They milked out in the cow lot north of the barn. The milk cows were so gentle that they could be milked wherever they happened to be. A large long tree log lay in the lot on which I was to stay while the cows were being milked. As most kids get tired of waiting in the same spot, so did I. While off the tree log I felt something hit me from behind which knocked me down, then continued to butt me around. Just as I would get up, that old buck sheep would hit me again until Daddy came to my rescue. I was afraid to get off the tree log when sheep were in the lot with the cows after that butting.
"Finger Scar." - One summer morning Mother and I had gone to the garden east of the house with a paring knife to cut some vegetables. On the way back to the house I wanted to carry the knife. Mother did not want me to carry it but finally gave in, if I would be careful. She went on into the house while I tarried under the two spirea bushes east of the house under the kitchen window. While trying to cut a limb from the bush the knife slipped and I thought "cut my finger off." It only left a scar on my left index finger, which starts near the top and at the back edge of my fingernail one quarter inch wide and three quarters inch long. At first I was not going to cry and tried to hide the cut when I saw all the blood I got scared and started crying. Mother heard me crying through the open window and came to my rescue.
"Eggs." - Late one summer morning I thought I was being really helpful by taking some eggs to the house from the chicken house. Since I did not have a basket or bucket to carry them in, I placed one egg in each front pocket and one in each hand. With the eggs in pockets and hands I headed for the house with my find. Everything was going fine until I was about halfway to the house when suddenly I stubbed my toe. I felt something wet and gooey in my hands and as I got up, two wet feelings were at the front of my pants. Needless-to-say, four broken eggs and another pair of dirty pants got me in trouble again. I have not carried eggs in my pockets since. But I have broken 30-60 dozen eggs at a time, which occurred when I worked at Armour's Creamery and Egg Produce in Winfield during 1955-57 while working my way through college. Eggs were transferred from truck to cooler on a two-wheel dolly, which held three 30-dozen wooden egg crates. When a wood handle would break off the bottom crate, all three cases of eggs would splatter all over the floor as they were being moved from truck to cooler. I used a grain shovel to scoop up egg contents and shells. Really quite a mess and difficult to clean up when all those egg whites stuck together. "Outhouse Substitute." - When the call of nature came, instead of going to an outside toilet, I preferred to squat under the back of Daddy's "Model A Ford Chassis" trailer he had backed into the door less lean-to attached to the south side of the garage. Even though I was at the back of the lean-to and under the trailer, I must have been visible from the road as several years later Ed Seeliger laughed, as he always did, when he told me I waved from that position under the trailer to him as he went down the road.
"Going After Cows." - One of my favorite things to do in the summertime was to go with Daddy after the milk cows of evenings. One of the cow pastures was west of the barn, which was across the road from the house. A small creek ran through it with a railroad trestle over it. It was always fun to walk under the railroad trestle and see and pound on the huge black creosote poles that seemed to reach to the sky. Daddy had old poles that were replaced, sawed into 2x4 and 2x6 lumber at the saw mill in New Salem. Another interesting thing about that creek was to watch the water run through wheel spokes when Daddy drove the wagon in the water to swell the spokes and wood fellows so the steel rims would stay on.
"Hired Men." - During harvest season Daddy sometimes hired an older gentleman to work on the farm. Eggs Neglan lived in Winfield, six miles west of us. Ed did not have a car so Daddy picked him up each morning and took him home early evenings. One summer evening when taking Ed home, just east of town where Highway 160 turns slightly southward, a car passed Daddy at what seemed a high rate of speed. At that time US Highway 160 was all gravel. Just after the car passed us a golf ball sized rock came through the lower right portion of the windshield and landed in Ed's lap. The windshield in that 1927 Chevy was not safety glass at that time. Most of the way to town I had been sitting on Ed's lap but just before the rock flew through the windshield I had stood up between Daddy and Ed, in the seat. None of us were cut with glass which left a small round hole in the windshield.
"Trixie." - One winter morning I was with Daddy in the high-wheeled horse-drawn grain wagon south of the railroad tracks. We were going across the prairie hay meadow toward a field to pick up shocked Kafir corn for cattle. Out little black and white terrier dog (Trixie) was running along the right side of the wagon. She ran in front of the right rear wheel, then it ran over her. She was on her back and feet were in the air as the wheel went over her stomach area. I was afraid it was the end for her but she got up and ran after the wagon.
"Steam Locomotives." - One advantage to living close to the Missouri Pacific Railroad line between Winfield and Dexter was being able to see the huge steam locomotives used to pull rail boxcars. It was most fun when going to the field south of the tracks and stopping near the tracks, for the train to cross, where we were close enough to see the many mechanical parts moving. Especially exciting were the long connecting beams on the locomotive's driving wheels, black smoke and steam coming from its smoke stack and sometimes fire in the fire box if the fireman was shoveling in coal.
Sometimes when Dwain and I were playing in the yard, the train engineer or fireman would give two or three short toots on the steam whistle, then wave to us. Before we moved from Tisdale some of the big, funny-looking, blue, strange-sounding locomotives started pulling freight cars. It just roared, without smoke, and its horn sounded funny. Its engineer did not whistle and wave like the steamer crews. It was not as much fun to watch for trains when the diesel electrics started running, since there was nothing moving except the big shiny blue and gray locomotive.
"Tramps." - The late thirties were still a poor economic time for many individuals. Several times men, referred to as "tramps", who followed the railroad tracks, would stop at our house and ask for food. They had a very small bag or things rolled in a red or blue bandanna tied to the end of a stick resting over a shoulder. Mother invited them in and either fried an egg or made pancakes. They always left full and pleased.
"US Highway 160." - During the time Kansas was grading and building bridges for US Highway 160 east of Winfield, detours were set up. One such detour was one-half mile north and one-quarter mile east of our house at a bridge building site. The detour consisted of driving down a fairly steep bank into a creek bed, across a temporary low water bridge with water running over it, and up the other side.
One time when Grandpa and Grandma Lauppe came to visit us, Grandma was afraid to ride across the water/creek ford with Grandpa. She got out and walked across. I always thought it was fun to ride in the car up and down the steep banks and drive through the water. I never could understand why Grandma was afraid.
"Gravel Quarry." - Late in the 1930s the state of Kansas widened and totally constructed US Highway 160 east of Winfield, one-half mile north of us. Gravel for the new road came from a gravel quarry about one-quarter mile south of our house. It was on John and Edna Stover's farm on the west side of the road, just south of the railroad tracks. Several times after starting the cows in from the pasture next to the quarry Daddy and I walked over to the quarry to see the big equipment and the big hole in the ground.
It was a noisy operation in several respects: a) When blasting rock loose with dynamite it would rattle windows in the house and was always fun to run out of the house to see the big cloud of dust. b) Hearing those old truck engines roar and the transmissions whine as their drivers floor-boarded them to get up the steep incline and out of the quarry. c) Seeing and hearing the Ford trucks come down the road after they got out of the quarry, with their dark green bodies and black fenders and oval grill, with dust flying, scattering our chickens that were in the road and being told and warned to stay out of the road because of the big fast trucks. Several chickens were run over by the trucks, as the chicken house was on the east side of the road and the barn on the west side where they liked to spend a lot of time.
"Dwain's Mess." - One summer evening we were getting ready to go to pitch where the men were going to freeze homemade ice cream. Dwain and I were already dressed playing in the kitchen. Mother had already mixed ingredients for the ice cream and had it in the ice cream can sitting near the front of the cabinet. Dwain wanted to see what the can contained so he proceeded to climb up the front of the cabinet by stepping on drawer pulls. He succeeded in climbing high enough to reach the top of the can and pull it over on himself and the floor. What a mess! Needless-to-say, I was in trouble again for not watching my little brother who just messed up his clean clothes and spilled 1 1/2 gallons of ice cream mix on the floor. I don't remember, but we probably went without ice cream mix, although I remember my parents discussing what they should do.
"Freezing Ice Cream." - During the summer months on several occasions ice cream mix was taken where pitch was being played. Someone provided ice and broke it into small chips for the ice cream freezers. Ice was placed in gunny sacks and pounded with a heavy hammer to chip correct freezer size. Usually three to five men were turning freezers at the same time. After the ice cream was frozen it was packed good with ice and blankets for two to three hours while the adults played pitch and all the many kids just played. Probably at least fifteen kids, ranging from 1 year old up to teenage were at each party.
"Blacky the Cat." - We usually had cats around the barns to help control rats and mice since there was always a lot of grain for them to feed on. One time we had a small black and white kitten (mostly black) named Blacky. I played a lot with Blacky until one day he vanished. Two or three days after his disappearance Mother got the five gallon cream can off the south porch to start putting cream in it to take to town. That's when she found Blacky suffocated. I remember playing with him and putting him in the can. I did not remember when we were looking for him.
"Road Kill." - The livestock barn was across the road west from the house, garage, and chicken houses. Chickens liked to be around the barn to get grain and scratch in the cow and hog lots. When crossing the busy road quite often one or more would be hit by a car. It wasn't unusual for the driver to stop, come to the door and tell us they had run over one of our chickens. Sometimes they were made into chicken and noodles as they were always old tough hens.
"Fake Car." - During warmer weather Dwain and I played north of the house under Spirea bushes. We did not have store toys to play with so we found other things and played make-believe. One such make-believe toy was a rusty part of some farm machinery which was about four inches long and one inch wide with two circular projections at one end, and was called our "Ba-ba-Car."
"Turkeys." - We always raised turkeys which roosted in trees east of the house. Since air-conditioning was unheard of, our upstairs bedroom windows were open summer nights. One night our turkeys were making a terrible racket. It was unusual since they slept quietly at night. All their noise woke me as well as scared me. I got in bed with Mother and Daddy. By that time the turkeys had quieted down. A few minutes later they were fussing again so Daddy got up and went out to see what was upsetting them. A long time later he returned without finding the cause of the disturbance.
"Sick Nights." - When I was sick with a fever at night during the winter months Mother would sleep with me in the heated living room downstairs. I always slept on the wall side of the bed. It always felt so good to sleep with my face against the cold exterior wall. Mother was always telling me to move away from the wall. It wouldn't be long until I was lying against it again.
"Sharing." - The first car I remember Daddy owning was a green and black 1927 Chevrolet coupe with Landru Irons on the body behind the doors. One of the unique features of the car was the approximately eight-inch-wide shelf at the top of the seat back rest and the body. That shelf made an excellent place for a child to spread out while riding. Dwain and I fought over who got to ride in the "window" until we learned to take turns.
"Model 'A' Trailer." - Daddy did not have a truck or pickup to haul grain so he bought a four-wheeled trailer. I remember going with him to get it, which was across the road north of the Stone Frog Hollow schoolhouse three miles east of Winfield on US Highway 160. At that location was a small white frame building housing a grocery store and a small single stall auto repair shop. The owner also did welding and made trailers. Daddy bought a trailer made from a Model A Ford chassis. The twenty-one-inch wheels had been cut down in order to use sixteen-inch tires, which was a popular size by the late 1930s. He parked it in a lean-to attached to the south side of the garage. He always backed it in the space. When squatting under the trailer during winter months I liked to stick my tongue on the heavy rear axle and feel it stick.
Prior to Daddy's purchase of a 1934 Chevrolet pickup and later a 1955 Chevrolet ton truck, the trailer had a grain box on it. During wheat harvest, starting with 1949 at which time I was fourteen and eligible to drive on farm errands, I made a lot of trips with it full of wheat to the Burden elevator or home from the other farm to unload grain in bins. The first years after its purchase a black 1935 Chevrolet two-door standard sedan was used to pull it. I started driving at age twelve towing the trailer behind the 1935 so I had some interesting experiences. The north/south road between the two eighty-acre farms at the "other place" had never been graveled and had large water/mud holes after rains. One time while trying to get through one of those deep mud holes I got the car and trailer stuck. Daddy unhooked the combine from the tractor in order to pull the car and trailer on through the mud hole. On another occasion a year or so later I had just pulled out of the south wheat field on the east side of the road with a trailer load of wheat and started to accelerate when the left rear axle of the old Chevy broke.
In 1988, while restoring my 1929 Model A Ford in preparation for our trip to Alaska, Daddy gave me the Model A trailer chassis. Several parts of it were used on our 1929 Model A which made our Alaska trip possible. Needless-to-say, when I went with Daddy to get that trailer I never dreamed that fifty years later I would be riding on part of it to Alaska on our 36-day, 8,300 mile trip with thirteen other Model A Fords. Those old Fords never die, they just keep rolling.
"Neighbors." - During the late 1930s and up to the time we moved in February 1941, Daddy bought milk for the hogs from Lyge and Stella Bailey, who lived one-half mile north and one mile east and about one and one-half mile north on the east side of the road.
Part of the time they milked three cows. Each would milk the outside cow as they were locked in the stanchion in their white barn, then when that cow was milked, turn around and both milk the center cow at the same time. Seemed strange to see two milking the same cow at the same time. We would get there for milk in the evenings as they were milking. Not only did they share milking responsibilities but just about everything else. They each had their own car. When he went anywhere in the neighborhood it was in a 1915 brass radiator Model "T" Ford Roadster. They went to Winfield in her 1936 black two-door Plymouth Sedan. I have been in the grocery store when he paid for half of the groceries and she the other half. Chickens were her income. I don't know how they split the livestock and crops. Research of the Ruggles family in 1976 indicated she was a Ruggles descendant. I had no idea prior to that time she was related.
"Leg Injury." - In late 1939 or early 1940, first cousin Maurice Ruggles was on his way to school one morning when he stopped to see a neighbor's, Mrs. Maddis', new Ford car. At that time Ruggles lived three miles south of us, and one-half mile east, then south off the road about one-half mile in a two-story yellow house, which was one mile east of Aunt Ollie and Uncle Jay Bowser. Maurice walked to the one-room frame school building north of their house. When he arrived at Mrs. Maddis' house he heard her car running in the garage. Just as he stepped behind the car she backed out of the garage, not knowing he was around, and ran over him. His right leg was injured severely with stitches required on the back of his leg from ankle to his thigh. We visited him several times while he was hospitalized on the second floor of Newton Memorial Hospital in Winfield. His room was to the left of the main central stairs on the south side of the hall. By the time he reached fifty years of age, circulatory problems had developed in that injured leg.
"Great Uncle." - On a couple of occasions a tall thin gentleman stopped to visit. He was always referred to us as "Uncle Walter" Gordon who married a Bowser, my Grandmother Ruggles sister. The most unusual thing about him was the fact that he lived in Canada, where he farmed.
He said it was so cold during the winter that wheat was planted in the spring. He also said that it was no fun fishing because fish were so thick they could bite as soon as the hook hit the water.
"Visiting Grandparents." - It was always a treat to visit Grandma and Grandpa Lauppe and stay all night. Evenings after supper they sat around the dining room table and read by light of kerosene lamps. When they were both reading all one could hear was the eight-day clock ticking that sat high on a shelf of the south wall of the dining room. Their bedroom was the south room upstairs. I slept with them which was a treat since Dwain and I slept together at home. When all was quiet with Grandma and Grandpa asleep, the tick of another eight-day clock could be heard. It was a black one with gold colored columns on its front. It had a round face in the center, which was about a foot long and eight inches high.
It was always fun to play on an old rusty plow type Twin City tractor parked south of the big barn west of the house. It did not run so it was always parked headed north about two feet south of the barn. It was sold at the auction. Grandpa and Daddy had purchased a 1937 John Deere Model "A" tractor which was not delivered until after Grandpa's death January 29, 1941. The John Deere was unloaded under the large old elm tree about 50 yards north of the house, a few days after we moved in with Grandma. Two or three days later it started to snow so Daddy decided he would put it in the driveway of the barn. He opened the north driveway doors and then started the tractor and started toward the barn. Just as he got past the shop its engine stopped. The crankshaft had frozen to the bearings due to a broken oil line. No permanent damage occurred to the engine.
Another engine we played on some was a large one cylinder mounted on four steel wagon wheels drawn by horses. Grandpa used it to power his corn sheller, as he did custom shelling for neighbors. Daddy tells about the time Grandpa had scheduled corn shelling at Ira Barkman's, who lived one-half mile east and three miles south of Grandpa's. The north/south road one-half mile east of Grandpa's had never been open through the pastures. Two miles of the north/south road, one and one-half mile east, was nearly impassible except for horseback. Two miles of the north/south road, one-half mile west of Grandpa's, had never been opened. Hence to get three and one-half miles to Barkman's, Grandpa had to travel six miles.
He always had to start real early of a morning in order to be set up and ready to start shelling or threshing, as he threshed grain during the summer, when neighbors arrived to start work. This particular winter morning when Grandpa got up about 4:30 a.m. it was snowing and blowing. He harnessed a team and hooked on to the corn sheller and engine and headed toward Barkman's by going the west route. Due to the extreme cold and snow he walked all six miles to keep warm.
Barkman also arose to find a blizzard so decided to cancel shelling. No telephone or automobile existed to communicate to Grandpa their decision to cancel shelling. One of the Barkman's rode horseback the east route. Just as they arrived at Grandpa's he was also arriving at their farm. Since Grandpa would have been going west and north against the storm to return home, he stayed at Barkman's until the blizzard stopped.
Another fun thing to do at Grandma and Grandpa's was to beat on the large rain barrel at the northwest corner of the house. It was made of galvanized metal, approximately eight feet diameter at the base, tapering up eight feet to a four-foot diameter opening. Rain water from part of the north and west slope of the house ran into it. It had a pipe out of the bottom with a 90° bend and a faucet about 18 inches above ground which was fun to turn on and let water run. Some years after we moved in with Grandpa the bottom rusted out so a bottom was put over the top. Then the old bottom was cut out and the barrel turned upside down and moved to the east side (back) of the house to catch water from the north and east slopes. Grandpa's car was a green and black four-door 1927 Buick sedan. I always looked forward to going places with Grandpa so I could ride in that spacious back seat and stand up on the back seat floor and see between the grandparents as we rode along. The Buick was sold in the public sale following Grandpa's death.
It was always a treat to have Grandpa and Grandma Lauppe stop to visit us a few minutes, either on their way to or from Winfield. They usually had a piece of candy or a cookie for us. One time they stopped on their way home with a special gift. I don't remember if it was my birthday or Christmas but they gave me a blue four-in-hand tie -- my first, as the others were bow ties.
"Moving." - Daddy had rented Perry Miller's 320-acre farm slightly over one-half mile east of Grandpa and Grandma Lauppe. We were scheduled to move from the Tisdale community on or about March 1, 1941. On January 29th Grandpa Lauppe died suddenly from a heart attack so we moved in with Grandma prior to March 1st. Moving day that February morning dawned cloudy with light snow falling. Howard Moon moved furniture for us in his new black Dodge one and a half ton cattle truck with stock racks. Three or four men on saddle ponies started early that morning to drive all of our cattle and horses, even though it was snowing. Uncle Bill Ruggles and Ed Segelar were two of the drivers.
By the time Howard arrived early moving morning to load, snow was coming down pretty heavy. Furniture was loaded out the front door (west side of the house). Since the house doors were open and no fire could be built in the wood stoves and still move them, the house was cold. Until it was loaded, Daddy had seated Dwain and I on top of the kitchen cook stove as it was still slightly warm from cooking supper the night before. After the stove was loaded Dwain and I were getting cold so Daddy took off his heavy "sheep lined" coat and had me put my right arm in the right sleeve and Dwain his left arm in the left sleeve and our other arms around each other, then he buttoned it to keep us warm.
When all the furniture was loaded, Dwain, Mother, and I crawled in the truck and rode with Howard. I can still see the new green circle speedometer with the red arrow showing speed. Howard had the lights on due to poor visibility in the heavy falling snow. By the time we got about a mile west of Grandma's we passed the horses and cattle. Snow was at least eight inches deep by the time we arrived at Grandma's. After the furniture was unloaded, the saddle ponies the cattle and horse drivers rode, were loaded in Howard's truck and hauled back to the Tisdale community.
Uncle Jay and Aunt Ollie Bowser (Mother's mother's, brother and sister)
Three and one-half miles straight south of us was where my Grandmother Ruggles (Bowser) was raised on an eighty-acre farm. An unmarried brother and sister, Jay and Ollie Bowser, continued to live together on the eighty acres. Uncle Jay always had a long full brown beard which was fun to pull, and dirty bib overalls as he always fed a log of hogs. Quite often he would say, "I went to town yesterday, would you like some bologna." It was very good, especially since we never had it at home. It was always between one and two inches in diameter and eighteen inches long curled so that both ends met. It was probably summer sausage rather than bologna, since he did not have any way of cooling it.
Aunt Ollie was a small, extremely skinny lady who always kept a dog in her bedroom which was directly off the kitchen to the north. Her bedroom door was by the back door leading to the back screened porch. As we went in or out of the back door her dog would bark and get upset. Even though we wanted to see the dog she never ever gave us a glimpse of it. Aunt Ollie died when I was about fifteen. A short time prior to her death she was hospitalized. Her dog starved to death because it would not eat food provided by Uncle Jay.
Uncle Jay died the winter of 1955/56. Not long after his death Grant Aunt Myrtle Murrett called me and requested I stop and see her. She was a sister of Aunt Ollie and Uncle Jay's, my Grandmother Ruggles, Aunt Maggie Oldham, Uncle Bert and Uncle Chester Bowser. Her house was on Bliss Street, the second house south of 9th on the east side of the street in Winfield.
She said Uncle Jay and Aunt Ollie's furniture, which was really Great- Grandfather Bowser's furniture, was being divided among the nieces and nephews. Since mother was deceased, she wanted Darlene, Dwain and I to have our mother's share. Only two pieces of furniture were unclaimed by others. She indicated Uncle Jay's house would be unlocked. I was to let myself in the house and pick the one piece of furniture I wanted. I borrowed Daddy's small 1955 blue Chevrolet flatbed truck to haul the glass front cupboard which I selected. The reason I chose it was memories of crawling on it as a small kid. Aunt Ollie had it sitting along the west wall of their living room, just north of the large window-type opening between the living room and the kitchen. Their house was small with four first floor rooms. Besides the living room and kitchen was Aunt Ollie's bedroom and double sliding doors off the living room into the parlor, which were never open. Although when we were school age Uncle Jay allowed us to go in the parlor and play the wind-up Victrola record player and their pump organ. It was always dark as the dark green shades were always pulled. The room had other furniture also. I don't know what happened to all of it as the room was essentially empty when I picked up the cupboard. The southwest corner of the living room had double windows with an enclosed wood chair seat-height box protruding about two feet into the room under those windows. It was fun to play on the box, which had doors that lifted in its top, then crawl into the large opening between the living room and the kitchen. From the opening it was possible to climb out onto the top of the cupboard's lower base, which spelled trouble for me again.
While in the house I looked it over good. Aunt Ollie's bedroom had never been cleaned thoroughly after her death. Her dog had a small wood box in a small closet under the stairs to the second floor. The dog must have been small and white as the box was about two feet square with a lot of white hair in it. Finally I had gotten into Aunt Ollie's room but too late to see her dog. While on the second floor, which was "T"-shaped, I observed something about it that I hadn't as a child. It was really a floored attic only. The roof rafters were exposed and the side walls were very low. It still had furniture and other items to be removed. I don't know whether it was before I was there or shortly after that Uncle Winn Oldham and Uncle Glenn Miller were taking stuff out of the "upstairs" when Uncle Winn noticed a strange knot hole in one of the old rafters. They investigated and were surprised to find a roll of bills, which at one time had had a rubber band around them. That roll of bills turned out to be eleven one-hundred dollar bills ($1,100). They looked diligently but were not able to find other strange knot holes.
I always felt like I knew Uncle Jay better than Aunt Ollie. That may have been because we spent more time with Uncle Jay. We always went to visit them unannounced, as neither of us had a telephone, on late Sunday mornings. Mother always took some food. Then she and Aunt Ollie spent most of their time in the kitchen preparing the Sunday dinner while Daddy, Dwain and I visited or played with Uncle Jay in the living room. I liked to watch him stroke his long brown full beard and run my fingers through it when he held me on his lap. We always liked to watch for the cuckoo in the clock that hung on the south living room wall, just east of the double windows, and pull on its winding chains. Another activity was to play with the coffee grinder mounted on the kitchen window frame on the screened back porch.
When playing in the livestock barn, northwest of the house and close to the water well, we thought it fun to be able to touch floor joist and floor of the haymow on the horses' side of the barn. Uncle Jay apparently never cleaned manure from the barn. His horses rears touched the floor above. Most barns had a two to four foot space between the horses back and the floor above.
Aunt Ollie had a large holly-hock patch south of the house which was fun to run through and hid in. While playing outside we always had to be on the lookout for Aunt Ollie's geese that would chase us when we were in their area of the yard. It sure hurt when they pinched with those sharp powerful beaks.
One Sunday the Ruggles were also there for dinner. As usual after the Sunday dinner we headed outside to play. While the geese were away from the big old poultry house we decided to play in it. We were climbing as high as possible which was quite high in a big open gabled roof. Maurice was hand-walking, hanging onto the top of one of the seven foot high double doors, when he fell. At first he laughed but in a few seconds, cried. That ended the climbing.
About one-quarter mile south and west of their farm was another house and big unusual barn. It was known as the "Gordon Place." Uncle Jay farmed it and raised all of his hogs there. The barn was two or three times larger than Uncle Jay's. From the interior it was possible to open the north door of the haymow and drop down about three feet to the ground, which we could not do in any other barns where we had played. I now know that type of barn is known as a bank barn since it was built into the south side of a hill.
Uncle Jay did not buy his first automobile until after Aunt Ollie died. Prior to that time he had to catch a ride to Winfield with a neighbor. That auto was actually a 1932 Ford Model B pickup. One of his neighbors gave him driving lessons in the cattle pasture. I never did see him drive it and understand he did not drive it to Winfield, but continued to ride with neighbors.
Apparently Aunt Ollie never went away from the farm for any reason until her illness. None of us could understand how she could stand to stay at home all the time.
Our rented farm house on 160 acres did not have modern conveniences like some of the neighbors had. We did not have electricity, an indoor bathroom, running water, or telephone, and heated with wood.
Water was pumped from a well east of the house, carried into the house in a three-gallon galvanized bucket called the "water bucket" which always had a dipper with handle in the bucket. We all drank from the same dipper.
Since we did not have a bathroom, it meant we used the "outhouse" east of the house. I did not like to use it so usually went to the lean-to attached to the south side of the garage, which had a dirt floor. Daddy parked the Model A trailer in it. He always backed it in the shed, which did not have doors on the west end which faced the road and allowed those passing by to see into the shed. Several neighbors reported to have seen me wave at them while I was squatted in the shed as they went by.
Our water was pumped from the well either by hand or a "hit and miss" one-cylinder water-cooled John Deere engine of one to one and a half or two horsepower. The engine ran a John Deere "pump jack" via a flat 4 inch-wide belt. Daddy must have sold the engine at the public auction of Grandpa's machinery. In later years the pump jack had a V-belt pulley added and was used to pump water for livestock when the wind did not blow the windmill.
Our source of heat was wood. The kitchen was heated by the cook stove with its hot water reservoir on the right side. A wood stove heated the living room, which were the only two rooms heated during cold weather.
Since we had no telephone, all communication with neighbors was face-to-face, which required a lot of traveling, many times to Winfield for farm machinery parts which were not in stock.
Our source of light was kerosene lamps which had to be filled on a weekly basis. The chimneys were washed often to remove the black soot created by an uneven wick or the wick being turned too high. The wick had to be trimmed several times a year as they do not burn straight across. To trim flat wicks one used scissors and trimmed the end slightly rounding with a slight arc on the wick. It would burn less blackening of the chimney. The Aladdin lamp used a wick which formed a circle and had to be trimmed with a special wick trimmer. Its flame burned on a cotton cone-shaped mantel which produced a white light, whereas the ordinary lamps produced an orangish-yellow light with less candle power.
We went to Tisdale Methodist Church, which was one-half mile north and one and one-half miles east of us on US Highway 160. It was a white one-story two-room wood frame building. The north/south section was the sanctuary with entrance doors at the north end. Adjoining the sanctuary on the south end was an east/west wing with a full (usually wet) basement. That wing was used for children's Sunday School. during and after World War II that wing was also used as a basketball court for the church's ball teams to practice prior to games played at Winfield High in a church league. In the mid- to late forties the basement was partitioned to provide three or four classrooms. Not long after a concrete block and silverdale stone sanctuary addition was built on the east side of the original sanctuary.
Around 1960, a second floor was installed with classrooms in the east/west portion of the old structure. During 1956, members of the church collectively built a quonset building approximately 80' x 120' in order to have a basketball court, stage, and kitchen. The Saturday we poured the floor, I dumped over 200 sacks of cement in a cement mixer.
We attended church fairly regularly up until the time we moved from the Tisdale community in February 1941. I, as most kids, had difficulty sitting quietly during church services. It seemed like I was in trouble every Sunday for standing in the pew and looking behind us.
In the late 1940s "Homecoming" was always held on a Sunday after church, during a summer month. A large tent was pitched in a grassy area south of a road south of the church between the two outhouses.
Dishes were stored in a small room built over the basement stairs in the Sunday School wing. Drinking glasses were moved from the dish closet to the tent by means of a brigade of at least half a dozen high school guys: one in the dish closet, two in the big Sunday School room, one to catch glasses as they flew from the dish room, who then threw it to the guy that threw it through an open south window. A guy outside threw the glass across the road except when a car came along, then it went over the car. Seldom was a glass ever dropped.
During Christmas caroling either Howard or Harold Moon's two-ton truck with stock racks was used. A tarp was wrapped around the sides and top of the stock rack. Bales of straw were placed around the perimeter of the bed and down the center for seating. Loose straw was scattered on the floor to help keep feet warm. It was several miles between caroling stops but always was fairly warm inside the cattle bed.
In the winter of 1956/57, after the new gym was completed, Tisdale needed a 5th/6th grade basketball coach, which was me. Only four boys were eligible so we attempted to get at least four boys from Winfield schools. Records will show our team won only one game, a forfeit. Not enough guys would show up regularly for practice and we had to forfeit a couple of games due to having less than five players.
At a party one summer night, an older gentleman came outside of the church to smoke, in the area where the reunion/homecoming tent was pitched. He placed a foot on the back bumper of a pickup and one elbow on top of the tail gate. Suddenly he jerked his arm off the gate and rubbed his elbow. Again he placed his elbow on the gate and in about 30 seconds started rubbing it again, this time looking also at the pickup gate. Seeing nothing on the gate he placed his elbow a third time in the same place. By the time his cigarette was about half smoked he jerked his arm back again to laughter from about ten of us about five cars away. We were all standing around a car that had a Model 'T' Ford coil wired to it which would shock anyone who touched it. Its car door was opened against the car parked beside it and so went through three cars and then the pickup. When turned on, the electrical current was traveling through all those cars and into the pickup which was shocking the smoker.
Hopefully, the foregoing Part I has given some insight into my experiences in the Tisdale community.
Silver Creek/Burden/ Winfield Communities
February 1941 - September 1957
This Part II describes many of my experiences while living on the family farm five miles south of Burden, near Silver Creek School, and the one year in Winfield, Kansas.
Late August 1941 Cousin Marjorie Moore was visiting us while her parents were painting the inside of the rural one-room wood school that Marjorie attended.
Mother and Daddy had gone to Winfield shopping that afternoon while Aunt Mabel Lauppe watched Marjorie, Dwain, and me. About mid-afternoon we three were playing "hide and seek" with me being "it" -- the seeker. There was a five-foot-high woven wire fence on the east, south, and west sides of the house from ten to thirty feet away from the house. It created an inner yard within the huge yard around the house. Vines totally covered the fence east of the house.
Home base was on the east side of the house in the inner yard. I had looked in the inner yard but could not find them so I stepped up on a small post protruding about a foot above ground, about six inches from the fence and about a foot south of the large concrete slab. As I spotted them in the outer yard I jumped from the post to beat them to home base. My left foot caught in one of the vines which caused me to fall on my left wrist. It was very painful and my wrist looked funny. Needless-to-say I was crying and screaming.
Aunt Mabel wrapped a cool wet towel around my wrist and arm and called some place in Winfield to let Mother and Daddy know what had happened and that she was bringing me to the doctor. I have wondered how she got the message to them as they were at Dr. James' office when we arrived. She dropped Marjorie and Dwain off with Aunt Olive and Uncle Charles.
Dr. James placed my wrist over a light and looked through a black box at my wrist. His nurse pulled on my arm at the elbow and he my hand, twisting until the bones snapped back in place. He did not use any type of deadening , and I was in great pain. Next he wrapped gauze around it and placed a metal splint on my arm and hand and wrapped them tightly in place. Next was a sling around my neck for my left arm to remain in nearly horizontal position for six weeks.
That evening we planned to have guests for watermelon, which I was looking forward to. When the guests started arriving I was embarrassed or ashamed for them to see my arm in the sling so I managed to get into the hay loft of the barn with one good arm and hid until all were gone. Then I had some watermelon.
My first few weeks of first grade were with that left arm in the sling. I returned to Dr. James two or three times for inspection and all new gauze on my arm and around the splint.
A few years later, around 1945, my parents and Darlene had gone shopping in Winfield during a week day. Dwain and I had arrived home from school and completed part of the chores when they arrived home. Darlene had acquired a real small toy car, probably in Cracker Jacks. I wanted to see how fast the car would go down the sloping cellar doors. I was instructed to get the rest of the chores done as it looked really cloudy. Instead I got the car from Darlene and was walking up the cellar doors when my foot slipped and down I went with my left leg over a nail protruding about one-half inch out of the east door. It ripped through my overalls leg and cut the outer side of my leg about two inches long starting just below the knee. Shortly afterward, we received a major thunderstorm with wind and heavy rain. Dr. Brooks was called in Burden in order to have him come to his office and look at my leg. His office was in a small red brick building on the east side of the main business block, just north of the hotel and south of the bakery. He was barely able to get around using crutches. His examining room was so cluttered with empty medicine bottles and old used medical instruments that one could hardly get around. He took one look and said "It will need stitches," which he supplied. The stitches did not hold; hence the one-half-inch wide, two-inch-long scar.
Another time I was forced to visit Dr. Brooks was to extract a splinter from my right hand. We had several cows that nursed two calves to each cow. We let the cows in the calf lot to nurse morning and evening. One summer morning a calf went to the wrong cow. I picked up and threw an old broom handle to scare it away from that cow. As the handle slid out of my hand a large splinter lodged in my right hand with about two inches protruding from my hand. I pulled it out but could tell some remained. Mother dug around in my hand and removed several splinters, one-half inch long, and thought she had it all out. My hand stayed extremely sore, so about two weeks later I went to Dr. Brooks. He removed three slivers the same length as Mother removed and said he had it all. It did not heal and continued to stay extremely sore and was painful when I made a fist. About six weeks later I retrieved two more one-half-inch long wood pieces that must have been lodged between bones in my hand, because as soon as they were out it no longer hurt to make a fist. Hence, the circular scar on my right hand.
On my way to school one morning I detoured from our regular walk route which was a mistake. Our usual route was to walk through the cow lot, past the windmill and up the cattle lane to the south pasture, across it into the north pasture, then diagonally across it to the north/south road which put us one-half mile south of Silver Creek. This particular morning I went behind the sheep and hay sheds, then across the brome field north of the stock windmill to the south pasture. I pushed the top barbed wire down close to the woven wire and started to step over the fence, which was not low enough. I tore the knee of my school overalls and nearly a three inch gash in my right knee. Needless-to-say that day I arrived at school with torn clothes and a very bloody leg. Stitches were not required in the leg but many were in my overalls.
Another injury which seemed minor turned out to be rather long term. Turkeys roosted in the huge locust tree just east of the chicken house. One evening I was doing something with the turkeys while under the large thorny tree when I ran a long thorn in the heel of my left bare foot. I pulled the long thorn out of my foot and noted the point was missing. My heel felt like the thorn was still there. Mother probed around in the opening but could not locate the point, so she applied a gray putty like medication called "Denver mud" which was to draw the thorn out. After six to eight applications over nearly two weeks time the point came out and I could walk again on that heel.
My right foot sustained another injury which continued to bother me for several years, and even now at the end of a long day of wearing boots the top of my foot pains until the boot is removed. It occurred one morning when I was trying to put the bridle on our saddle horse "Silver" in the second lot west of the barn. I had cornered her in the northeast corner of the lot against both fences, as she did not want to be caught at times. I had hold of her mane with my right hand standing close to her left shoulder trying to get the bridle bit in her mouth with my left hand. She tried to back away from me and at that time stomped on the top of my right foot with her left front foot. Since I could walk I did not go to a doctor, just hobbled around again for a long time. One time I ran away from home, or planned to. One summer afternoon Mother asked me to do something, probably in the garden. At times I hated spending two to four hours per day in that large garden. It made me mad that I was expected to perform the task so I decided I would leave home. Mother agreed to help me get ready by making a sandwich and laying out an apple. I got a four foot tree limb and one of my big red bandannas, wrapped the sandwich and apple in the bandanna, tied them to the stick and headed west. I got about one-fourth mile west of home and realized I did not have additional clothes and no place to go. So I turned around and headed home. Mother wanted to know what happened. Why was I home so soon. I told her I had changed my mind and started working on the earlier assigned task.
My first eight grades were in a one room wood white schoolhouse named "Silver Creek." It was located in the extreme northwest corner of the same section of our house. Our house was situated along the south edge of the section, nearly one-half mile east of the west section corner. That made us about one-and-a-half miles from school via the road or slightly over a mile when we cut across the pastures.
One teacher taught all eight grades each year I attended and did all the janitorial work, building the fire in the coal stove, filling kerosene lamps, etc. Most of the teachers assigned various duties to the older students such as bringing in the cobs and coal for the stove, water in the water bucket, cleaning blackboard erasers, sweeping the floor, raising and lowering the flag, and sometimes helping the lower grade pupils with reading or math assignments.
Corn cobs for starting the fire were stored in the west small section of a red "coal" shed. It was approximately ten feet by twenty in size located about twenty feet east, which was to the rear of the school building. Coal was stored in the large section. Coal buckets were used to carry cobs and coal inside, one bucket for cobs and two for coal.
Natural light was four large windows on both the north and south sides of the building. On extremely cloudy days the teacher would light the three Aladdin lamps suspended on long rods from the high ceiling, about eight feet above the floor down the center of the long room.
During the eight years I attended three different stoves were used. The first two years there was a large pot bellied stove surrounded about three feet away by an embossed sheet metal shield. It stood on legs about a foot high and extended up to a height of seven to eight feet. As pupils we did not like it on extremely cold days because one could not feel heat coming from the stove except when the teacher would leave the shield door open. It was located on the northeast one-third of the room. During school years three through seven our heat source was a modern "warm morning" coal stove placed in the center, north to south, of the room, five to six feet from the east wall. Again on very cold days when the north wind was blowing in around the north windows it was not large enough to heat the room. So we still had to wear our coats but could sit in a circle around this stove and feel some heat. My last year a fuel oil stove stood where the warm morning stove had been. But again, it was not nearly large enough for the large, high-ceilinged room. It emitted heat from the front and top so we were allowed to move near the front of this new stove. It did have an advantage over the other stoves in that wet gloves and mittens could be dried on its top and we were not required to carry in cobs and coal and carry out ashes.
Water was pumped from a well about thirty feet south of the school house. A three-gallon white porcelain bucket was used with a porcelain dipper in the bucket to pour water into our individual drinking cups. Each of us was required to have his or her own drinking cup, which was to be taken home every Friday night for washing. Several had folding or collapsing aluminum cups. The first few years I was in school the water bucket sat at the back of the room on a table. One summer Laverne Harris built a counter with a sink unit along the north wall of the coat room. The sink drained into a five-gallon bucket. After construction of the counter top the water bucket sat on the new counter west of the sink. Usually lower grade pupils were selected to clean black board erasers. They were cleaned by beating its face on the sidewalk, large concrete porch or the wood rail fence, which was on two sides of the school grounds. Usually Friday afternoon one or more were assigned to wash the black boards while erasers were being cleaned.
About halfway through my eight years, screws holding desks to the floor were removed and three to four desks were fastened to one by four wood strips which made sweeping easier and more flexibility in seating arrangements.
The school day was divided into four periods. Period one started at 9:00 a.m. with the ringing of the large bell in the bell tower. At 8:55 a.m. most of the teachers would ring a warning bell, which caught Dwain and I many times between a quarter- and a half-mile from school. Usually we were able to run fast enough to arrive prior to the ringing of the 9:00 a.m. bell. I was only tardy two or three times during eight years. When late, we had to stay after school to make up time. We had a fifteen-minute "recess" midmorning and afternoon and an hour for lunch. The school day ended at 4:00 p.m.
I started first grade with a neighbor girl, LeAnn Foster, in my class. The Fosters lived a mile east of us on Silver Creek and provided a ride for me to and from school in their two- door Model "A" Ford. About six weeks to two months after school started they moved to Missouri.
After the Fosters moved I rode most evenings to the corner with Wiggles. One evening Ethel came to pick up Margaret in their yellow and red 1939 Chevrolet pickup. Jerry, who was not in school yet, and I rode in the truck bed. Mrs. Weigle did not stop as usual at the corner to let me out so I could walk the rest of the way home. We pounded on the window but she still did not stop and I did not want to walk home so I jumped out of the pickup and landed rolling in the ditch. My first experience jumping off a moving vehicle! Sure was different than jumping off a stationary object. Mrs. Weigle called to see if I was alright. I was not injured but sure was surprised to find myself rolling in the grassy ditch. I got an education and dirty clothes out of that leap. It usually took at least thirty minutes to walk home and sometimes more when Margaret and Jerry Weigle; Maurice, Melvin and Janice Ruggles; and Beatrice, Eugene, Vivian, and Wanda Bair were all walking with us. Instead of cutting across pastures on the way home we walked "around" the road. Besides the usual conversations, one of our favorite activities was to save an apple from lunch to eat on the way home, then polish it against our clothes to see who could make their apple the shiniest. Sometimes we would shine on those apples for a mile of walking prior to eating them. Other times when several rode horses we would race to see who had the fastest horse. One evening we were approximately one-half mile from school and "horsing' around" when Jerry Weigle dropped his lunch pail with his thermos bottle in it. The liner broke in his thermos which upset him so much he ran the rest of the way home, which was nearly one mile.
A family named Archer with four kids in school lived east of us, north of the road, on Silver Creek where the Fosters had lived. When they did not walk home by going straight east of school they walked one-half mile south then cut east across pastures for one-and-one- half miles to their house. Two of the boys were two to three grades ahead of their younger brother and sister. When Eldon and Ira were seventh and eighth graders they were forced to miss a lot of school to help their father in the fields. Ira was not fat but was rather short and chunky. He made rather poor grades. One evening on the way home from school someone started calling him "fancy fat pants" and everyone else chimed in. After a couple days of name-calling our teacher talked to each one of us walking that direction to inform us there would be no more name-calling as she was in charge of us until we arrived at home. If we called anyone else names again we would be in trouble because she would call our parents to make us behave.
The two outside restrooms (outside privies) were constructed of concrete blocks, probably made in Great-Grandfather Harris' block factory since they looked like those used to construct the telephone building he built in Burden. They sat east of the school house about fifty-five feet apart facing west with a six-foot-high wood fence across the front and part way down one side. The boys rest room was straight north of the girls which sat at the edge of a small grove of trees along the south and east sides of the school grounds. Outside at the back each building had a wood sloping two-foot-wide lid attached at the top about seat height which covered the pit. Several of us boys would hide in the woods until some of the girls went into the rest room, then sneak quietly up behind their rest room, raise the pit lid and tickle the girls bottoms with small sticks or foxtail weeds. We were in trouble again but usually waited until the next school year to surprise them again.
I had not been in school long after starting the first grade before "getting in trouble." The two-acre school ground had tall -- three to four foot high -- native blue stem grass that had to be mowed each fall in order for us to be able to play on the grounds.
That fall of 1941 cousins Maurice (third grade) and Melvin (second grade) and I (first grade) were all new in school and did not know anyone else so we played by ourselves. All the rest of the school pupils, around fifteen, teamed up to build a grass hut in the woods. It was made of sticks, limbs, and some old wire window guards with grass raked from the school yard. It was large enough to hold four or five at the same time. Several days after they had finished construction of the grass hut we wanted to play in it with everyone else. Since we did not help to construct it we were not allowed to play in it. After several attempts to get in we decided to destroy it by walking on its top, which worked.
Miss Bair disciplined us by whipping both Maurice and Melvin. She gave me the option of a whipping or staying in during recess and noon hour for three days. Since I had been informed at home that for every whipping I got at school I would get one at home, the decision was easy -- stay in during recess and lunch for three days. That was the closest I came to getting a whipping in school.
Recreation during recess and play time after lunch varied depending on one's preference. I do not know what the girls played when playing by themselves. During the winter months when snow covered the school yard we all played "fox and geese." We made circular paths in the snow about one hundred feet in diameter with four spikes leading to a free base in the center. Sometimes we made an inner circle about five feet inside the large circle with about eight connecting paths evenly spaced.
One, and sometimes more, were "it" (fox) and chased the geese around the circle until the goose was touched by the fox. At that time the goose was "it." The fox then became a goose.
During warm weather most of the boys played baseball. My first and second grade the big guys thought I was not good enough to hit the ball but they did let me catch all the time, which caused several nose bleeds and jammed fingers. In the third through the eighth grade I was the tallest boy in school so I started playing ball with the big boys. By the time I was in the seventh and eighth grade I could usually hit the ball to any part of the outfield I desired. Mrs. Komark, seventh grade teacher, scheduled three baseball games at other rural schools: Wilmont, Tisdale, and Prairie Home. Those schools came to Silver Creek for return games. We won most of our games.
Another activity we enjoyed, although it was very dangerous, was to put one guy on one end of one of the two wood teeter-totters and four guys holding the other end. The end where the guy sat was on the ground and the other in the air. The four guys would pull the high end down fast and hit it on the ground, which would flip the guy about ten feet in the air. Hopefully he would land on his feet near the center of the board where it hinged over the pipe. None of the girls would ever try the "flip."
The first two or three winters I was in school the ditch which ran along the south school yard fence had enough water that we could skate when it froze over. All pupils and even the teacher skated. Bruises and bloody noses occurred from many falls without a broken bone.
We seldom rode horses but when we did they usually were tied in a small metal shed with four stalls in the northeast corner of the school grounds. It was open to the south. Frequently it was not large enough so two to four horses were tied to the fence. During the day bridles were removed and replaced with a halter. Usually the saddle girt/cinches were loosened slightly, with the saddles remaining on the horses all day. They had no grain or water during the day, just some hay.
During the eight years at Silver Creek I had five lady teachers with Miss Lenora Bair for my first and second grade. My first grade was her first year to teach. When I was in fifth grade her parents, Ole and Anna Bair, moved into the house east of us on Silver Creek. Her four younger sisters and brothers started attending Silver Creek. Beatrice ("Bee") was seventh grade, Eugene ("Gene"), who was two months younger than I, was in sixth grade. He was permitted to start school one year ahead of me. Vivian was a fifth grader in my class and Wanda was two or three grades lower. She also had two other brothers, Homer and Orville, and two sisters, Oleta and Eula Mae, all younger than she. Her family lived in the Dexter community prior to moving to the Burden community. She roomed with Aunt Blanche and Uncle Ira Powers, who lived less than one-quarter-mile east of school. On weekends when she went home Orville usually arrived at school a few minutes before it was out to pick her up. He drove a Model "A" Ford.
Social activity at Silver Creek usually consisted of fun nights at school. They were not scheduled the eight years I was in school except probably the last three or four -- undoubtedly near the end and after World War II. They were scheduled on a monthly basis with different families in charge of refreshments and games and activities each time. Someone, usually Laverle Harris, had to get there early to fill the Aladdin kerosene lamps and build a fire during the winter months.
Two or three times box suppers or pie suppers were held. For box suppers the ladies prepared a meal, e.g., sandwiches, carrots, radishes, and pie, cake or fruit, and put them in a fancy decorated box. They then tried to cover it up so no one would know whose box it was. Boxes were sold by an auctioneer, sometimes for fabulous prices, especially when two or more guys knew whose box was selling and each wanted to eat with her. Pies and cakes were also sold the same way. Proceeds of the auction helped to pay for incidental expenses like kerosene and fuel for the stove.
To get out of the eighth grade one had to pass a county test which was administered in the eighth grade classroom of Burden's grade/high school building. It was an all-day test.
Commencement exercise for rural school graduates in Cowley County was held at Akron, north of Winfield, on a Saturday afternoon. Part of the program was a small kid singing "Pistol Packing Mama."
Burden High School
I was late starting my freshman year in high school (1949) because of our family's second vacation, which was to Illinois to visit Aunt Olive, Uncle Charles, and Marjorie.
The building was at the north end of Main Street in Burden, facing down Main Street. It was a "U" shaped building constructed in three different phases, the oldest part being the northwest part of the "U." It was a two-story stone structure constructed around the turn of the century. Aunt Jen said it was where she went to school in 1910. The south section was a two-story brick structure. The gymnasium made up the rest of the building at the northeast corner. It had a concrete floor with a stage at the south end and three rows of stair-stepped bleachers on each side of the floor. Its basketball court out of bounds lane was about six inches from a wall, two bleachers, one stage, and the north wall of the building. The ground floor consisted of classrooms for kindergarten through the eighth grade except for the music room, adjacent to the gymnasium and the wood working shop in the extreme northwest corner.
The second floor south section was one large room with about 100 old-fashioned desk seats secured to the wood floor in four long rows. Every high school student was assigned a desk which was his or hers every morning during general announcements prior to classes starting and during study hall periods. About twelve feet all the way across the west end was an eight-inch elevated floor with a railing. That area was our library. It had very few books and was little used. Besides the large study hall and rest rooms the second floor had six classrooms and the school superintendent's office. There were general classrooms, one for science, one for home economics, and one for typing. That old building was demolished in the 1970s when a new high school was built following consolidation of the Burden, Atlanta, and Cambridge school districts.
The gym floor was dark brown tile over concrete which was different from most wood gym floors. Several of us developed shin splits by playing basketball on the floor. We also discovered we could jump higher off the wood floors.
The old wood shop exterior door was about three feet wide so all projects had to be small. Everett Jabara, the richest kid in school, built a dog house too large to go through that door. Everyone at the shop knew it was too wide to go through the door but Everett. No one said a thing, including Mr. Weibe, the teacher. He had to dismantle it to get it through the door. Mr. Weibe, the math, algebra, geometry, mechanical drawing teacher, was a very good but strict teacher. He announced the first day of classes that when he talked he would be the only person talking. Several days or weeks later Bob Tatum dropped his eraser, which rolled under the chair of another student. Bob quietly asked that person to hand him the eraser while Mr. Weibe was working a math problem on the blackboard. He heard Bob, turned around and said, "Bob we won't need you in class any more today, you can come back Friday (two days out) if you have decided to listen to the lecture. Report to the study hall." He paused until Bob was out of the classroom and resumed working an example. Needless-to- say, no one else talked when Mr. Weibe talked.
He also taught mechanical drawing, which was taught in the science room. Since the school did not have drafting tables with the sloping top and high stools we laid our boards on the flat science tables. Sometimes when we were standing bent over our drawing board on the low table, he would swat us hard on the rear, which really stung with his holed paddle. He called those swats "encouragement taps." He always drove the two blocks to the downtown restaurant for lunch. One cold winter day at lunch time some of us who brought our lunch and ate in the study hall learned his 1934 Chevrolet would not start. He always parked in front of the school building. We gave his car a shove to get it started. We went back up on second floor to finish our lunch and checked to see if Mr. Weibe's car was still running. He was about a block from school when he stopped for quite a while. Then he started backing. He backed up and made a U-turn in front of the school and backed the two blocks down town. The car's transmission had broken and reverse was his only gear. Several of us thought it funny to see him backing and made too much noise laughing to suit Miss Zanotti, lunch room supervisor, so she required us to stay after school and prohibited our talking during lunch for the next week. Since most of us rode a school bus we were excused from staying after school by Superintendent Sharp.
One year Burden school hired a band and glee club instructor, Mr. Morrison, who drove a 1948 Chrysler Woodie. I enrolled in the boys glee club, which never could sing. Because most of us farm boys could not carry a tune, each of our two public performances was more like a practice. During each song he would stop us two or three times and start over until we sang it to his satisfaction. We sang such songs as "Tea for Two," "Donkey Serenade," and "Joshua Fit the Battle."
Our basketball coach and science teacher was Lawrence Klein, a World War II Veteran, Southwestern College graduate, and a member of their basketball team. When we did not have our lessons or did not want to have a class lecture we would get him started talking about his World War II experiences on the front lines in Germany or his basketball experiences. He would relate his experiences for the full class period. I did not participate in any sports during my freshman or sophomore years because I was required to come home after school and help with farming and chores. Probably another reason was financial. Basketball was the only sport I played. It started in mid-October and ended mid-March which gave us time to plant wheat in the fall and start working the ground for corn and milo in the spring before school was out. Klein was basketball coach my junior year and his replacement, Hunnington, my senior year. Klein played me most on the second team but also used me as a substitute on the varsity team. My senior year Coach Hunnington's philosophy was to build a team for the future so the first quarter of each second team game he played five freshmen, second quarter, five sophomores and if behind at half time, ran in juniors and seniors and expected us to win the game. We came from behind on about a dozen games but failed on one game by one point. The Kansas State Athletic Association would allow one to play a maximum of five quarters per night. Since I was a sub on both varsity and second team I got to play in more games than any other basketball player at Burden 1952-53, thirty-five games.
For out of town (away) games, the transportation was one of Burden's yellow school busses. The cheerleaders and glee club rode on the same bus, which usually gave each player a chance to sit with his favorite girl. Marceil and I rode together on most of the out-of-town trips.
Each September during the annual Burden fair the upcoming senior class had a concession stand. Each year the class had to round up 2x4's and build a stand with a counter top on three sides. Proceeds from the stand were used to help finance a senior skip trip of approximately five days the following spring, either just before or just after graduation.
Our class decided to be different and build a stand of steel two inch pipe which could be used by future senior classes. Jerry Collins, a senior, whose father worked on the Texaco oil lease three miles west of Burden, secured the old used pipe. Junior Easley and Jimmy Sphar used their father's arc welders to cut and weld pipe for the approximately 16' x 16' stand. Oil well pump sucker rods were used to construct arched rafters for the tarp top.
Prior to construction, which was just south of the grandstand on Burden's fairgrounds, pipe and supplies were stored inside the grandstand where it could be secured. One afternoon while we were constructing the stand I went into the grandstand to get some more pipe. While bending over to pick up the pipe something hit me on the right hip, just above the pocket. I straightened up to see what hit me when I heard a boom and felt a painful sting. Bob Tatum had gone up in the grandstand with firecrackers to drop through the seats and scare me. The lit firecracker he dropped landed between leather gloves protruding from my hip pocket and my jeans. When it exploded a hole about the size of a 50˘ piece was burned in my Levis and that size black spot was on my white under shorts. No injury occurred.
Jerry Collins had just bought his first car, a 1939 Chevrolet sedan while we were building the stand. Each time he got out of it he locked the doors with the keys, as one had to with Ford cars. I showed him how to lock the door on Chevrolets without keys. The very next time we parked he locked the doors without keys, then discovered he had locked the keys inside his car. Wow, was he mad at me.
We five guys in the senior class slept in the concession stand each night of the fair to guard concession goodies.
Our five day senior skip trip in the spring of 1953 was to Colorado. The class chartered a bus from the Winfield Bus Company, which was an old gasoline powered "pusher" bus with the engine at the rear of the bus. All but one of the thirteen graduates made the trip. Zoe Morgan, a sixty-eight-year-old fat lady, chose not to go. Our adult sponsors were Norma and Cecil Havens.
Stops on the trip included the steel mills at Pueblo; Colorado Springs where we stayed several nights at a dude ranch; to Denver and Boulder to see "Garden of the Gods." One morning, on our trip, when we stopped for pop and the rest room Marceil decided to stay on the bus. As I got off the bus I asked her if she wanted me to bring her a beer, to which she replied, "Yes." She was really surprised and embarrassed when I got back on the bus with a beer for her. Needless-to-say, she did not drink it. Nor did I. One of the other guys drank it.
Only one other time I bought a beer and could not drink it. It was when I was in the Army Reserves in a PX at Ft. Chaffee, Arkansas around 1960. All the guys I was with convinced me beer was good, so since I had never drank any I tried one. I only got about one-fourth of it down. My first and last attempts to drink a beer. While we were sitting there, a black man and a white woman came into the PX. One guy bet another they were married. They were. She was German and married while he was stationed in Germany. It was my first time to see a mixed-race marriage.
Arkansas City Junior College
Fall semester, 1953.
Merlin Burnette, part-Native American and a senior in our high school class, and I roomed together while freshmen at Arkansas City Junior College. We shared two upstairs bedrooms and a bath with a couple guys from Caldwell. Our landlady cooked our breakfast and evening meal, which were super. Her house was approximately six blocks northwest of campus, which made a nice walk mornings and evenings. The evening walk was by myself as Merlin played football and basketball.
I had spent all my savings by the end of the first semester so the final three semesters I lived at home and either drove or rode with Jimmy Spahr or Bob Westbrook. The cost to ride the 60 miles round trip daily was 25˘. Other riders were Gayle Dozer, Mary Mowder, Gwendolyn Brown, Brother Dwain, Evelyn Parker of Winfield, and Carol Koehn to St. John's College in Winfield.
The first year I rode with Jimmy in his 1950 Mercury sedan and the second year with Bob in his 1949 Chevrolet. One time Bob decided to put four carburetors on that six cylinder Chevrolet. He only left them on for one day as it used about three times more gas than usual. One time rods started knocking because we drove eighty miles per hour too often. That six-cylinder engine without inserts, which Chevrolet did not use in engines until 1954, would not stand up under those speeds. Bob learned the hard way.
I enrolled in sixteen credit hours of auto mechanics the first two semesters but decided not to pursue auto mechanics after lying under cars with ice, snow, and cold water dripping on me. The second year, besides all the required general education courses, I enrolled in machine shop.
My hardest subject was algebra, which started more advanced than high school algebra. I enrolled in it the first semester and it is a good thing I did because Merlin, who became a petroleum engineer, pulled me through.
Essentially everything went smoothly at Ark City JUCO until May 8, 1955, the day I bought my first car, a 1948 Chevrolet coupe. Two days later I had an appendectomy and was forced to miss up to the time finals started. One instructor loaned me his lecture notes during the days I missed and the others briefed me on material covered and all allowed me to take finals a couple of days late.
Commencement exercises were held on a Friday evening in conjunction with Arkansas City High School. Read what happened that night in the weather section.
The fall of 1955 was another new experience, enrolling and attending Southwestern College in Winfield. At the time of enrollment I was employed at Armour and Company, Winfield, in their creamery department. I had worked full time forty-eight to fifty-two hours a week during the summer months. When school started they agreed I could work part-time. About 4:45 p.m. on a Friday, about mid-October that fall, Glenn, the plant superintendent, came to me at work and said they could no longer afford to pay me so at 5:00 p.m. that very day my job would end. One day the following week I stopped at Armour's to pick up my check only to find they had hired a full-time employee to replace me.
The following March Armour called me back to work. This time I was called "night engineer" which allowed me to work full time again, as my work schedule was 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. That schedule really kept me hopping as my first class, all four semesters at Southwestern, started at 7:00 a.m. at Winfield High School. I continued working that schedule through graduation.
My junior year (first at Southwestern) I roomed with Aunt Urdeen (mother's sister) and Uncle Art at 1416 Lynn Street, just one-half block east of Winfield's William Newton Memorial Hospital. The hospital had a registered nurse training program. The dorm for the young ladies was one-half block east of their house, which provided plenty of opportunity to sit on the front porch and watch nursing students go to and from classes. I roomed with them until August 1956 when Marceil graduated from nursing training in Wichita and we moved into a one bedroom apartment at 806 College Street. Our landlady was Mrs. Dubberstein, a very small lady in her mid-seventies, weighing around eighty-five pounds. She was the widow of a Lutheran minister. While we lived there she painted the exterior of her one-and-a- half story house herself. The Winfield Daily Courier newspaper ran a front page picture of her on a ladder painting the second floor level. Our kitchen floor was covered with a gray, red, white, and green linoleum which looked real sharp. On close examination one learned she had meticulously painted over the pattern of an old worn linoleum.
Two major things have occurred since we lived in the house. The first to occur was a fire on the second floor. It is now a one-story house. In the early to mid-eighties two ladies were murdered in it, one being a distant cousin on mother's side of the family, Jacqueline Musgrave. Jackie had taught English in Olathe, Kansas, for a number of years. She had saved money in order to take off a couple of years to write pocket book romances. Jackie and her parents attended the first reunion of the Kansas and Kentucky Ruggles in 1976 in Kentucky, and some Kansas Ruggles reunions at Island Park in Winfield. Jackie had become a good friend of the lady living at 806 College. The Musgraves lived across the street from 806. During the night Jackie heard her friend screaming and ran to see if she could help. As she entered the back door she encountered someone who stabbed her several times in the chest. Several weeks later Jackie's friend's ex-husband, who had just returned from Germany, was arrested at his military base in New Mexico. He was found guilty of the double murder and sentenced to a life term.
Jackie's first book had been accepted for publication. Her first check had arrived earlier that day but not in time for her to cash it.
I was scheduled to graduate in June 1957 but about ten days before graduation the registrar, Muriel Snyder, called me in to say, "You and your adviser have goofed; you need four more hours of science to graduate." That required me to attend the summer session. The only science course offered that summer was biology, taught by "Dr." Warfiel, who did not have a Ph.D. He was very proud of the fact that he had been the head of a private school in the Philippine Islands during World War II. Most students were children of military officers. Besides English, each graduate was required to take three foreign languages and math to include calculus. The average reading was 1,200 pages per week and graduates were accepted into ivy league college without taking an entrance exam. He would not read a Readers Digest -- read the whole article or none.
He taught each course with the same philosophy which required a tremendous amount of studying for his classes. The grapevine on campus said he had failed 97 percent of the previous spring semester biology students. He was proud of the fact that all the years he had taught biology only one student had earned an "A" on lab assignments and that individual was now a doctor at the Mayo Clinic. Lab consisted of dissecting worms, frogs, etc., and drawing internal parts. I used my drafting skills on lab assignments and was surprised to earn an "A." Had I not earned the "A" in lab it is doubtful I would have passed the course. He lectured Monday through Thursday with a test each Friday covering the previous four days of lecture. One Friday the test was ten pages of single spaced questions. The drop-out rate was high as most of the class was made up of elementary school teachers who were working on their B.S. degree. My third grade teacher, Mrs. Adams, dropped out two weeks into the class. Two weeks prior to the end of class he called one of the older students into his office, a lady approximately sixty years of age, and informed her that there was no way she could pass his class. She left his office and class that day crying.
Commencement exercises for the 1957 summer session were held in Christy Hall at the top of those seventy-seven steps. We donned cap and gowns in the library at the foot of the seventy-seven steps, then marched up the steps to Richardson Auditorium in Christy Hall.
Immediately following graduation from Southwestern I attended a three week, three-credit-hour driver education class at Wichita University. During the class we wrote the first State of Kansas Driver Education Handbook for the State Department of Education and driver education teachers. At the time I started teaching driver education in 1957, three credit hours of drivers education was the only specialized courses required. That course enabled me to teach drivers education either part- or full-time for eight years at Haskell Institute in Lawrence.
My first memories of any war activities was my first year of school on Monday, December 8, 1941 when our teacher, Miss Bair, told us a terrible thing had happened. She said the radio reported that the day before Japanese airplanes had dropped things called bombs on United States' ships which blew them up and caused some to sink in the ocean and a lot of sailors were killed. I thought I would have some exciting news to tell my parents when I got home from school that day. But they had already heard about it. Someone had called them on the phone.
Even though Congress promptly declared war the war effort did not begin to affect us immediately.
One of the first changes I recall was switching to daylight saving time year around, which moved the clock ahead one hour. December and January months on cloudy mornings it was not fully light yet when we started walking to school. We also had to light the kerosene lanterns those mornings and take them to the barn during milking.
During the three and one-half years of war we were affected in several other ways besides daylight savings time. Several items were rationed so that each family was limited to only a specific amount of the rationed product. Two food items rationed were sugar and meat. The meat rationing did not affect us because we raised our own chickens, hogs, and cattle for meat. Sugar really affected us because we had a large garden and canned what we did not eat during the summer. We also bought several bushels of apples, peaches, pears, plums, and other fruit for canning which all required sugar. We usually traded meat rationing coupons for sugar coupons in order to get enough sugar for canning.
Another rationed item that did not affect us as much as most families was gasoline. Farmers usually got all the gasoline they needed for farm tractors. We only had the 1937 John Deere "A" tractor which was designed to start on gasoline then switched to a cheaper gas called "power fuel" which was green colored. The tractor had a one-gallon gasoline tank and a fourteen gallon power fuel tank. Daddy was able to get more gasoline than needed for the tractor which he put in the car from time to time. So we seemed to have plenty of gasoline for the car. However we did not go other than to town very often.
We stopped going to church (Tisdale) which was six miles from home. We went to Burden and to Uncle Jake and Aunt Jen's several times in the horse-drawn buggy, as well as trips to the other farm when the tractor was left in the field to save gasoline and fuel. Sometimes Daddy gave gasoline stamps to friends. Sometimes the service station attendant would not take as many stamps as he should have. Rubber went into the war effort so car tires were made of a synthetic rubber which was a poor substitute for rubber as it was not very flexible and was hard. It was difficult to put one of those tires on or take it off a wheel. The rubber substitute was not as tough as rubber -- hence more flats. Those tires had a raised letter and number about an inch tall on the sidewall which was "S3." Tires were very hard to purchase so when tires developed breaks or holes a "boot" which was a thin tough rubber and cloth piece was put inside the tire to keep rocks, dirt, and water from getting in the tire and also retained the tube from projecting through the hole. Two or three times when driving we would hear a loud pop which signaled another blowout. The car would swerve or weave all over the road which required driver skill to keep it in the road.
Daddy was required to take a physical for the military service but was exempt from duty due because of his age and farming occupation. He served on a rationing board of some type which required his attention several times a year.
Dwain and I wanted a bicycle which could not be purchased new. Cousin Neva Thompson sold us her son Gerald's old well-used bicycle. She said he was in the Philippines and could not ride it so we got it. It definitely was well used. The tires were worn out but either he had a couple extra tires or we somehow acquired two additional worn tires which we put over the worn tires mounted on wheels so we could ride it.
To help the war effort saving stamps were sold to raise money for the federal government. We bought the stamps at school. As I recall a stamp was issued for each ten cents. When available we took pennies or even a dime to school to buy the yellow stamps. When we did not have enough pennies to buy a 10-cent stamp our teacher would keep them until we did have the 10 cents; then she gave us a stamp to paste in a stamp book with blank pages for stamps. I think each page held ten stamps and each book held $10 worth of stamps. I do not recall what we did with a book full of stamps.
The government also needed all old metal available. One day we students and teacher at Silver Creek school went on a "scrap metal" drive. We went to different farms picking up parts of old farm machinery, automobiles, etc. We also picked up old pipe out of the Texaco oil field. While in the Texaco field Lowell Smith, who lived across the road, said he knew where an old stove was we could get which was close. It was a kitchen wood cook stove on the second floor of a vacant house about a quarter mile west of the Smiths. We may have had to break into the house. The cast-iron stove was so heavy we could not carry it out so we broke that beautiful stove into many pieces, then threw them out windows and loaded them onto the trailer. That was our last stop so we then went to the Smiths for some refreshments. When Mrs. Smith learned we had removed the stove from their neighbor's house she became upset and scolded Lowell for taking us to the house. She told our teacher she would tell the stove's owner. That was our first and last scrap iron drive.
Before the war we visited several times with my Grandmother Ruggles' sister and husband, Will and Myrtle Murrett, who lived straight north of Arkansas City where Kansas Highway 15 turned east and went south of Hackney. They lived in a big white two-story frame house. The farm also had barns and one log building. Shortly after the war started the Army decided to construct an airport for pilot training between Winfield and Arkansas City. They took Aunt Myrtle's farm to build Strother Field. About twenty-five years later I was talking with an Indian fellow I worked with, Ernest Nioce, at Haskell and whose son had been a student of mine, who was a heavy equipment operator who helped with construction of Strother Field. I asked him if he remembered the big farm house at the end of the road. He said he did as the house was moved and he was instructed to destroy and bury all other buildings, including the log building, with his Caterpillar dozer. He indicated that heavy equipment operators were given a specified amount of time to complete an operation, which usually was not quite enough time. He said most days were up to sixteen hours, which included eating many meals on the tractor while maneuvering it.
One hot summer Sunday afternoon the Army Air Force had a new model airplane on exhibit for the public to see on the runway at Strother Field, between Winfield and Arkansas City, on land formerly Aunt Myrtle's. We waited what seemed like hours in a long line to go through that new four-engine B-29. After waiting a long time Mother took Darlene, who probably was only about a year old, to the base hospital so they could cool off. Just as Daddy, Dwain, and I got in the shade of the plane's wing an announcement was made that no one else would be able to see the plane's interior because it was due back at Boeing in Wichita shortly to complete preparing it for battle. Daddy said we will hang around for a few minutes. After all other people waiting in line had left one of the plane's pilots wanted to know if we had seen the plane. When we said no, he conducted us on a tour and explained more and allowed us to be on the plane more than we would have on the tour. After our plane tour we walked through several buildings before finally finding Mother and Darlene. Sure was hot that day.
We had a big black shepherd dog during the war who did not like flying objects. He would chase crow, hawks, and airplanes, especially the low-flying B-29. He was so intent on chasing them away that he would run into woven-wire fence while looking up and running.
Many farmers could not get enough help to do farm work so the County Extension Office or some other employment agency had a sign-up program during summer months for city boys to work on farms. One summer Daddy had been trying to get badly needed help when finally three Winfield High School-age guys agreed to work. Daddy went to town early one morning and picked up all three of them. The farmer was to provide board and room and pay them so much a day. We seldom ever ate supper before 10:00 p.m. The next morning two of the guys wanted Daddy to take them back to Winfield. After our 10:00 supper at the end of the third day the last guy said he wanted to go home in the morning. He said he did not have to work seventeen hours a day and sleep in such a hot room as the middle room upstairs. That was the last time Daddy tried to get non-farm high school guys to work.
The day former President Roosevelt died we happened to be in Wingert's grocery store in Burden. I remember looking in the meat display case wondering what all those different kinds of food were when Mark Wingert announced from the back of the store that President Roosevelt had died.
August 1945 we happened to be in Winfield, heading east on West Tenth Street about a half block west of Main when cars going up and down Main Street started honking and people started coming out of stores yelling, jumping up and down, and throwing items into the air. We soon learned Japan had surrendered. World War II was finally over.
Mother (Ione Elizabeth Ruggles Lauppe)
Mother had an older sister (Aunt Urdeen), a brother (Uncle Walter "Bill"), and a younger sister (Aunt Ethel "Babe"). They were essentially raised in the Rose Valley community six miles east of Winfield and five to six miles south. It was the same general area that both of my great grandfathers, Ruggles and Bowser, lived on farms approximately one mile apart.
Grandpa Ruggles did not own a farm, which required him to move several times. After leaving the Rose Valley community he lived on the farm adjacent to Victor Point School, then one-half mile east and one-fourth mile north of Tisdale church. His next move was near Uncle Fred Harris' northwest of Burden. He later retired from farming and moved to New Salem where I remember him.
Mother told us about going to school on very cold days. Grandpa would put loose straw in a grain wagon, then she and her sisters and brother would crawl in the straw and cover up with it to keep the cold wind off them.
She has related several times about their mailman who delivered mail on a motorcycle which did not have enough power to make it up a steep hill near their house on his first try. He would back down the hill and road and approach the hill at a higher speed until he finally got over the top.
She must have had at least three different types of jobs prior to marriage. She worked at the first hospital in Winfield, a wood frame building one block west of Main Street on 10th Street. That was prior to construction of the present William Newton Memorial Hospital. Another work location was a restaurant/candy store located in the 800 block of Main Street. At some time she did house cleaning and took care of a Mrs. Merrill, whom I am named after. Mrs. Merrill lived in a large fancy stone house on Fifth Street, just east of College Street.
My parents were married in Winfield at the home of a Miss Meyers who ran a boarding house on East Twelfth near downtown. Mother and Aunt Babe were both rooming there. Daddy said Miss Meyers wanted Mother to get married in her house so they did on May 22, 1932. Only seven attended their wedding.
Mother was short, about five feet, two inches, and a little overweight as long as I knew her. She was allergic to extremely cold weather and tomatoes, as both caused large hives. She always wore a dress except a couple of extremely cold days when she was forced to work outside. It may have been to take care of baby chicks. During the winter months she wore heavy brown cotton hose and a sweater over her heavy winter dresses. Summer months she wore a dress and underpants only. During the war years she sewed and made her work dresses, underpants, and shirts and shorts for us three guys, as well as most of Darlene's clothes. She even made coats and hats for Darlene. A major portion of our clothes were made from print cotton, chicken, or hog feed sacks.
When it came to discipline Mother was pretty strict as she seldom told us more than twice to do or not do something. During the summer months she sent us east of the house about ten feet to a large maple tree which always had new growth branches for a two to three foot limber branch to switch us with. If the switch was too stiff or too short we were sent back to get the correct one which would wrap around our bare legs as she always made us drop our overalls below our knees. Thank goodness that did not happen very often.
One winter evening while Mother was cooking in the kitchen, Dwain and I were talking in the dining room about going to the outhouse, toilet, which we called the "shithouse." She overheard us, said we had used a dirty word, and that our mouths needed to be cleaned. So we each got our mouths washed out with a big wet bar of red Lifebouy soap. Believe it or not that wash job did clean up our language, at least around her.
She was a super good cook; at least everything she prepared was delicious with exception of spinach and liver. For many meals when she served spinach or liver it took us two or three times longer to eat because we could not leave the table until everything had been eaten which had been put on our plates. She baked bread several times a week which was made from "starter" yeast. Yeast was grown in a small green bowl, about two cups in size, which was kept sitting on the kitchen cabinet near the range for heat during cool months. Baking day about half the gooey-white stringy yeast was removed and mixed with flour which was then allowed to rise. A couple of times during the day risen dough was kneaded before its final rise for the oven. Besides four or five loaves of bread she also made buns. About half the time she also made cinnamon rolls, which were served as a dessert with fruit for supper.
Several summers we made sauerkraut. Sometimes we used the large kraut cutter which was stored in the cellar and was about a foot wide and three feet long. We also had a small newer cutter which was about six inches wide and fifteen inches long. After cutting the cabbage heads the cut cabbage was placed in three to five gallon crocks to ferment for several days. During that time our kitchen sure stunk. When Mother thought the cabbage had fermented enough she sealed it in either quart or half gallon glass jars. Quite often she canned it too soon, as we would be eating a meal and hear a loud pop, which was another glass jar of kraut breaking.
Mother finally learned to drive a car when Darlene was in 4-H club. At that time she taught sewing classes which were offered during an afternoon in Burden. Her teeth must have been very poor as she had lots of tooth aches and had all teeth pulled and a complete set of dentures by the time World War II was over. She had several pulled at the same time during an afternoon, just prior to heading home. Usually several times on the way home she would have Daddy stop along the road so she could open the car door and spit out a mouth full of blood. She never stopped to go to bed at any time with tooth aches or following tooth removal. Her tooth removal and new false teeth must have been a financial drain as parents did not have any health insurance at that time.
After supper and the dishes were done, Mother spent many, many evenings at the kitchen or dining room table with a kerosene lamp close to the table's edge helping me with my reading assignments. That first school year was rather frustrating as Dwain, who had not been to school yet, would be lying on the floor and would say correctly a word that I did not know.
All twelve years I was in school Mother prepared and packed lunch pails. Lunch consisted of two homemade bread sandwiches with Spam most often. The season determined which vegetable for lunch. In the fall we had fresh tomatoes and during the winter months carrots or celery sticks. Desert was usually a couple of graham crackers with homemade chocolate or butterscotch filling between crackers. Sometimes we got a special treat which was one third on a Three Musketeers candy bar. Occasionally we had leftover fried chicken instead of sandwiches.
Usually I traded my chicken to Jerry Collins for a bologna sandwich made with store bought bread which was much better than the cold chicken. We always had some type of fruit. In the winter months it was apples, oranges, or bananas. Fall usually gave us blue plums or pears. And during the warm weather the apple was saved to eat on the way home. Before eating it we polished it on our clothes to see who had the shiniest apple.
Any time we were sick at night Mother also cared for us, either by sleeping with us until we were around six years old or sitting up with us. After we had family dinners, when I had played extra hard, I had leg aches which kept me awake at night. Many, many nights Mother would rub my aching legs with Watkins or Raleigh liniment during the night. Usually that helped some but did not totally relieve the pain. I now know the pain in my legs was referred pain into my legs from my back. X-rays a few years ago revealed a congenital deformity with vertebra in my lower back which undoubtedly caused leg pains.
One summer Sunday we attended some type of social gathering at Island Parking in Winfield. During the afternoon she rode on the merry-go-round with swinging seats. It made her so dizzy that she had great difficulty staying on her feet for several minutes. That ride must have made her ill as she had Daddy stop several times on the way home so she could vomit. I never saw her ride a merry-go-round after that episode.
Some Sunday evenings during the winter months, after the chores were all done and supper was over, we played Chinese checkers by kerosene light on the large wood checker board Uncle Winn Oldham made for us. Blue and green marbles looked the same color. Mother usually won those checker games. Sometimes we played regular checkers although only two could play. Daddy usually won those games.
During one August night in 1956 Daddy called us kids to get up and get dressed as Mother was not feeling well and we were going to take her to the emergency room at the hospital in Winfield. She walked to the car at home but rode in a wheelchair from the car into the hospital. Old Dr. Wells determined she had a heart attack and confined her to bed on her back. We even fed her meals for several days. She improved to the point of walking hospital halls. Dr. Wells released her to go to her sister Aunt Urdeen's house, one-half block from the hospital. About mid-September she was improving when she had a second attack. It was back to the hospital where she seemed to improve rapidly. On Sunday afternoon, October 6, Daddy had visited her when they strolled up and down the halls again. Daddy stayed until evening dinner time then went home. Marceil and I went to visit her in the early evening. On arriving at the room the door was shut tight. The floor nurse informed us after a short wait that Mother had died a few minutes earlier while eating her dinner. We were also informed that Dr. Wells had informed Daddy as soon as he got home.
Dwain had driven Grandma and Mark Garrison to Illinois to visit Aunt Olive so it was a couple of days before they arrived home. Miles Mortuary of Burden was in charge of services. When it was time to select a casket Daddy refused to go. He sent us kids and Grandma and told us our selection would be okay with him.
Services were held at Tisdale Methodist Church, eight miles east of Winfield, with burial in the Burden Cemetery, in a large plot Grandpa Lauppe had purchased many years before.
That evening after supper at our house, around the dining room table, we all wrote thank you notes to all those sending flowers to the service. Aunts Olive, Mabel, and Grandma helped us with the cards. At that time everyone contributed for flowers at the service -- no memorials then.
Father (Harold Omer Lauppe)
Harold Omer Lauppe was born, in the stone house his Grandfather Lauppe built, on February 8, 1903. At that time he had a brother, Chester, who was two years older. Two years later Aunt Mabel was born; then another two years and Aunt Olive joined the family.
During 1903 Daddy's Grandfather Harris bought the eighty acres where our house sits and moved his daughter Hattie and family on that farm. Within a short time Grandpa Harris acquired the north eighty acres which gave Grandpa Lauppe 160 acres to farm.
Daddy lived on that farm for approximately sixty years. Exceptions were the first few months of his life, the time my parents were married in 1933 until February of 1941, when we moved in with Grandma, shortly after Grandpa's death, and after he married a second time in the late 1960s when he moved to Winfield. Even after moving to Winfield he continued to farm or raise livestock for another fifteen years. He usually went out to the farm each weekday. Sure was hard for him to give up farming.
He had attached so much sentimental value to the farm that he did not want it to "get out of the family" so around 1990 he sold the farm to Dwain and Jaureen who had been living there as well as farming it after Daddy moved to Winfield. He sold it to them on a ten-year contract.
When Daddy was a young boy a doctor detected a "heart murmur" and recommended that Daddy not be allowed to live on the farm. Obviously my grandparents did not heed the doctor's advice. As of this writing Daddy is 94, still drives his car and climbs stairs to his third floor apartment at Rewinkle Hall in Winfield, a retirement home for senior citizens. When I was home he could outrun me when chasing cattle, hog, sheep, or horses as well as run them longer and faster than I. Obviously that doctor was wrong about his heart condition.
Physically Daddy is five foot eight and has never been overweight. His waist size was thirty-two most of his adult life. He almost always wore bib overalls, at least until recent years when Penney's Big-Mac jeans were cheaper than overalls. During hot summer months he wore long-sleeved blue work shirts and a large brimmed straw hat to protect his skin from the sun, as he has had to have cancer removed from his face as long as I can remember.
Apparently he has had good health and even when he did not feel good he continued to work. One exception was a winter while I was in high school and he was "down in the back" a few days which required Dwain and I to carry bales of hay from the hay barn about seventy-five feet to a point in the cattle lot where we fed part of them. It may have been the same winter or the winter before or after that he got something in one eye. The doctors in Winfield could not find any foreign object or determine what was causing pain so sent him to a specialist in Wichita. The Wichita doctor could not determine the cause of the problem but did prescribe an ointment for his eye and prescription colored classes to limit light entering that eye. He had some permanent loss of sight in that eye. He only wore the glasses through most of the next summer when the eye improved so he no longer needed them.
When he was working doing chores or working machinery by himself and did not know anyone else was around he talked out loud to himself, as well as to cows and horses when they did not do what he wanted. Besides getting talked to, the milk cows usually got hit with a milk stool and work horses with the end of a leather line.
He worked long hours every day. By already having part of the morning chores done when he called us for breakfast at 6:15 a.m. After getting a battery powered RCA Victor radio around 1946 or 1947, during breakfast each morning he listened to a forty-five-minute farm program on KFDI station from Wichita, by Bruce Beheimer. Usually Bruce was reading all items for sale at farm auctions when we finished breakfast and headed for the barn to milk up to a dozen cows. He worked hard all day no matter the type of work we were doing, yet I never did hear him complain about the work being too hard or tiring. Evenings he was always the last to finish his portion of the chores which was always before supper even though that meant sitting down to eat as late as 10:00 p.m. many times. The only time he went out to work after supper was during lambing season, February through April, to check on ewes having lambs or when an old cow was about to have a calf.
He always did a super good job mowing, plowing, or working ground and never left any unmowed or unworked. He expected the same quality of work from Dwain and I. In fact, he sent me back to the field a couple of times to plow or work ground I had missed. I soon learned to do the job correct the first time out.
The only time Daddy played with us was Sunday afternoon or evening after chores were done. Several summer Sunday afternoons parents took us to Silver Creek wading/swimming. One of those afternoons Dwain stepped in a deep hole and went in over his head bobbing below the surface and started yelling for help. Daddy was sitting on the gravel bar fully clothed. He jumped up, dove in, and pulled Dwain coughing and sputtering from the deep water. I do not know when or where Daddy learned to swim, probably Silver Creek when he was a kid. We always had to take a nap before going swimming which was hard to do when anxious to swim.
Other times he played baseball with us in the yard southwest of our house. Our bases were broken metal disks from our farm field disk. They were about a foot in diameter with a broken out, jagged hole in its center. Luckily none of us ever got cut on that sharp metal. During the war he obtained Gerald Thompson's worn out bicycle for us to ride. Until we learned to repair it and fix flat tires he showed us how to perform the necessary repairs. He helped us create our first, and my only, fishing pole, which was a tree limb about six feet long and about nickel size in diameter at the large end. A string was tied to the outer end, then wrapped around the pole when not fishing. We stored our poles behind the folding garage doors. Quite often we went fishing with Jerry Weigle in the Weigle's big farm pond south of their house about half a mile in one of their big pastures. Jerry's pole was a fancy rod and reel which we envied. However he did not catch any larger fish than we did. We usually caught mud catfish weighing up to two pounds. Usually we threw our catch back in the pond but one time we did take some of those two-pounders home. Daddy helped us dress them and Mother fried them. Daddy was the only one that liked those fish.
Daddy seldom helped us with our school homework. However, Dwain and I undoubtedly spent more hours with him than Mother after we started school. We had contact milking as all three of us milked at the same time. We each were responsible for a certain part of the chores morning and night. Daddy usually fed hogs, horses, and sometimes sheep. My responsibilities besides milking were turning the cream separator, until we started selling whole milk, feeding and watering the chickens and gathering eggs, and sometimes caring for the sheep. Dwain's primary responsibility other than milking was to "get in" wood, corn cobs, and coal for cooking and heating our house. During the winter months all three of us put baled hay out to milk cows, and extremely cold nights ran them in the cattle part of the big hay barn. Usually we fed alfalfa, prairie hay, and brome hay. It was usually pitch dark by the time we were ready to feed which required one to remember where each kind of hay was located since Daddy would not allow us to carry a kerosene lantern into the hay barn. One needed to remember not only the location of the various kinds of hay, but also the configuration of the hay stacks, since one could fall in a hole or off the edge of the stack. Remembering sure made it easier and safer to feed every night in that dark barn. If someone else fed the night before it proved interesting at times.
Two or three winters Dwain and I played on a Tisdale church basketball team. Since Mother did not drive, Daddy always took us to practice ball at the church. We practiced as best we could, in the east/west wing attached to the south side of the church. Our games were played Tuesday evenings in Winfield's old high school on East 9th & Bliss Street. Daddy did not buy any type of antifreeze for the car radiator although I think it had just come on the market, for that old 1935 Chevy. On nights when the temperature was below freezing he would start the 1935 Chevy's engine then put water in its radiator. During trips, a gunny sack was put in front of the radiator to keep it from freezing. Sometimes he would stop and adjust the sack to shut off more air or let more air through the radiator. A few times he drained the radiator when arriving for practice or a game, then put that same water back in the radiator when we were ready to start home. One cold night after a game at the high school we started home but by the time we got to the east edge of town, about fifteen blocks, the engine was boiling. Daddy stopped at Aunt Urdeen and Uncle Art's on Central Street, got them out of bed, heated several buckets of water until boiling, then poured the boiling water over the frozen radiator until it thawed. After the radiator water is heated and flowing through the radiator while restricting cold air flow, one can drive without problems -- which we did the rest of the way home.
One winter night in late 1947 or early 1948 we went to a 4-H meeting in Burden. Either that day or the day before we had six inches of sleet which was much more difficult for a vehicle to maneuver in than that same amount of snow. By that time we had the 1940 Chevy and no tire chains. Going to the meeting we had some difficulty negotiating the half-mile west of our house to the north/south road that had fairly good ruts in the ice but nothing like coming home after the meeting. It seemed like it took us forever to go that half mile west of our house as Dwain and I were pushing most of the way. We made it as far as the driveway south of the barn. Daddy thought we were not pushing hard enough so he put one of us behind the wheel to drive and he pushed. But we still could not get up that slight grade and into the driveway. By that time the engine was really hot with the radiator boiling for quite some time. At that point we saddled Old Silver, tied a rope to the saddle horn and the front bumper of the car. With her pulling and two of us pushing we finally got that hot car off the road.
Prior to 1954, that record setting hot summer when our planted corn did not produce a single ear of corn, the three of us shucked corn. Daddy shucked two rows and Dwain and I each one row. I never could figure out how he could shuck two rows faster than we could shuck one. He would get on us for going too slow.
Also, prior to combining the small grain, wheat, oats, and barley, we cut the grain with a grain binder which had to be modified so we could pull it with the tractor. After the grain was cut and bound into bundles we then shocked it. Again Daddy could shock much faster than us by picking up a half dozen bundles and carry them to the shock site. He could stick heads of the first two bundles together and get them to stand, which looked so easy but wasn't.
When we raised corn and it had already been "laid by," which meant the ground between the corn rows had been worked three times in an effort to kill all weeds and the corn plants were too tall to be worked again without damaging the plant, we then walked down rows with a hoe chopping weeds. That job was always after a rain which made it too muddy to work with machinery. It sure was hot between corn rows wading in mud and corn over our heads cutting off all wind. Again Daddy could outwork us as he hoed two rows while we each hoed one row.
We also spent considerable amount of time shocking those large bundles of kaffercorn, which were four to five feet tall, then cutting the grain heads off with a large three foot long knife mounted either on the side of a hayrack or grain wagon. After acquiring the John Deere combine, Daddy bought a header sickle which was mounted in a vertical position above the horizontal sickle. We then could cut the grain heads off kaffercorn bundles and thrash grain out of heads. It could then be fed to chickens, hogs, or cows without grinding it as before. We still were required to move the combine from shock to shock and handle each bundle individually. That process required each of us to handle each bundle to cut off the grain head, which lasted two or three years until Daddy tried planting a new crop -- "combine maize" which only grows about three feet tall and its grain combined standing. That new crop sure saved us many hours of hard labor. It was also safer in one respect as one fall we were shocking kaffercorn in the northwest field at home when several quail hunters came into the same field. They were not happy hunters when we ordered them out of our field.
Several years Daddy sheared all of the sheep with hand-operated sheers which was a slow process. Most of that time we sheered in the sheep shed which required creating a clean shearing surface over the dirt and manure. We used several 1" x 12" boards which did not work well. After pouring the concrete floor in the milk parlor of the big barn we then sheared on that concrete. Daddy always did all of the sheering as Dwain nor I were strong enough to handle those ewes when they tried to get away, which did not occur with every ewe as most would lay or sit while being sheared without struggling. It was usually our job to pack wool into those large wool sacks which were about three feet in diameter and seven feet long. We also were to have another ewe cornered so he could get started shearing quickly again. Most springs we had more than two full sacks of wool from twenty to forty ewes. By the time we were old enough and strong enough to shear he hired professionals to shear who had electric shears which reduced shearing time drastically. I never did shear one complete sheep but tried several times. I had to give up as I was not strong enough to hold the ewe or my right hand was too weak to open and close the shears as many times as it required to shear one sheep.
We usually planted 100 pounds of potatoes which required cutting them into small pieces, then dropping each piece about a foot apart in a shallow row made by the corn lister. Cutting seeds was easy because we could sit down and dropping seeds was fairly easy although it did require stooping and placing each seed at the tip of each foot. Digging and picking up potatoes one at a time was slow, back-breaking work. Daddy again could dig more potatoes out of the dirt than we could.
The same lister used to make rows for planting was used to open the row of potatoes which rolled potatoes two directions, along with the dirt covering them. One was required to dig in the dirt to expose the potatoes so they could be picked up. After stooping and digging one soon got tired so that's when Dwain and I got into clod fights which then brought on a reprimand from Daddy for not working fast enough and a warning that someone could get hurt.
Daddy served on our local Township Board of Trustees for several years. He also was one of the three School Board members serving at the time Silver Creek School District voted to consolidate with Burden School District. That was a tough time as many taxpayers in the district felt like their taxes would go up if in Burden's district and they did not want to lose their local school. Enrollment was down at Silver Creek to about a dozen students and no prospects of gaining more. Aunt Blanche and Uncle Ira Powers were very upset with Daddy because he was in favor of consolidation. As I recall, the vote to consolidate failed twice. Aunt Blanche said, "You guys (Board) never give up. You will keep voting until you get your way." I think it was the fall of 1950 that Silver Creek School District ceased to exist and became a part of the Burden district. At that time Burden purchased school buses to transport all rural kids to school in Burden as several other rural schools consolidated at the same time. The bus arrived at our house at 7:10 a.m. and got us home about 5:00 p.m.
I mentioned that when Mother wanted to discipline us with a switch we had to go to the yard to get one. Not so with Daddy as he used his open hand. He did not discipline us very often with a hand swat but when he did one better be braced for that upward forward motion against one's rear which often sent one up and forward. Usually we were able to stay on our feet.
Other times we spent with Daddy were during World War II when gasoline and tires were rationed, when we went up to Uncle Jake and Aunt Jen's other place, or to Burden in the buggy. We had lots of time to talk and ask questions on those slow trips. Shocking wheat, oats, or kaffercorn also afforded us valuable contact time. Even though Daddy appeared to be very quiet around others, we talked a lot when working together. At the time or receiving discipline it did not seem fair, although in retrospect the few times he did discipline us now seems fair and firm.
Brother (Dwain Olin)
My only brother, Dwain, is slightly over twenty-two months younger than me, as he was born November 14, 1936. We played together almost constantly and always went to the same places together until we started dating in high school. We also fought over many things, as brothers will, according to Uncle Jay Bowser. I site many examples throughout this memoir of activities we were involved in together.
When he was first learning to talk and even through the lower grades of school he was hard to understand. Some referred to him as the "little Dutchman."
One morning, when we lived in the Tisdale community, Mother wanted the slop bucket brought into the kitchen from the south porch. Dwain and I both rushed to the porch, picked up the three-gallon bucket and started back into the kitchen with it. There was not enough space for both of us and the bucket between us to all fit through the doorway at the same time so we stuck momentarily in the door opening. As we finally burst through the opening, Dwain fell on the bucket, which chipped one of his front teeth.
Since I was taller than Dwain, he inherited all of my outgrown clothes. I attained my present height of six feet by the time I completed sixth grade, which meant that several years I grew so fast that a new pair of overalls purchased before school started, in September, would be a couple of inches too short by the time school was out the following April. Those overalls became Dwain's school clothes the following school year. Likewise, my feet grew too big for a pair of shoes before I could wear them out. Hence, I went without any shoes several summers and Dwain wore my too small shoes to school the following year.
The overalls were always too long for him so he rolled the pants legs up. Shoes were also too large at first but he was still required to wear them. He did not like wearing "hand-me-downs" and even cried about it "because Merrill always got new clothes and shoes."
Even though we played together and worked together side-by-side at different farm tasks we also fought frequently. When fighting, Dwain was always hitting with his fist. I do not know why but when fighting or arguing I would say, "oh yow" which even made him hit harder.
One time we were playing "king of the mountain" on the chicken house which had a long sloping shed roof that came within about five feet of the ground. I pushed him off as we had done many times before but this time he fell on a dead broken peach tree stump which was protruding four feet high. He was lucky it only left a scratch about a foot long on his stomach/chest instead of puncturing him.
We played basketball on the same church team, same high school team, and both worked for Armour's Creamery in Winfield at the same time. He drove a route truck transporting eggs and cream while I worked as "night engineer" in the plant. We even had the same class together at Arkansas City Junior College in which he made better grades on tests and the course.
We have spent many enjoyable times together and still do, although not often since we live about two hundred miles apart.
Sister (Melva Darlene)
Upon arriving home from school, approximately 4:30 p.m., November 23, 1942, I noticed something strange while standing on the stone fence, north of the cattle lot. I observed the milk cows were not waiting to be let in the barn as usual. I thought that unusual but went on to the house only to find something more unusual, Mother dressed to go to town standing in front of a mirror combing her hair. When asked where she was going she said, "We are going to Winfield to see the doctor, and I may have to go to the hospital." We, brother Dwain and I, were instructed to finish our chores as they would be home later.
Dwain and I were not home alone as Grandma Lauppe was living with us. She was confined to bed with a broken leg which occurred about six weeks before when she fell going out the back kitchen door. Aunt Mary Harris, Grandfather Lauppe's sister, was staying with us taking care of Grandma.
Come bedtime, Mother and Daddy were not home, so reluctantly we went to bed.
Aunt Mary awoke us next morning in time to eat breakfast, do chores and get to school on time. Mother and Daddy still were not home, which was rather frightening. During breakfast Aunt Mary assured us that Daddy would surely be home soon. Later, while getting chicken feed out of a granary in the barn driveway Daddy drove in. When I got to the house he informed me that I had a tiny baby sister, which was a real shock as I did not know there was going to be an addition to the family.
Our tiny baby sister weighed four pounds and four ounces and had been named Melba Darlene. Her official name, according to the birth certificate, is Melva Darlene. A mistake was made at the hospital in recording her name. But after discussion Mother and Daddy decided not to change the birth certificate; hence part of her name is in error.
It was fun and exciting to go to school that morning of November 24, 1942, and tell my teacher, Miss Lenora Bair, and school mates that I had a baby sister.
We got to go to Winfield's Newton Memorial Hospital to see our new baby sister and Mother once.
After they came home from the hospital some changes had to be made in heating and living arrangements. Because of Darlene's size and feeding schedule she had to be fed every two hours. Normally the dining and living rooms were not heated. However, fires were kept burning in both stoves. Mother and Daddy slept in the south unheated bedroom and Grandma, with her broken leg in a cast, was confined to the east semi-heated bedroom. Dwain and I slept in the bedroom directly above the heated living room which warmed the cold wood floors some, as well as provided some heat from the stove chimney running up through the corner of the room.
One morning when Darlene was a few weeks old a major catastrophe nearly occurred. Mother was in the kitchen preparing breakfast. Dwain and I were in the heated living room with Darlene in her basket sitting on two chairs front to front. Mother called out that Darlene's milk was heated so she could be fed. We secured the small glass four-to-six ounce bottle and headed for the living room. At that point we started fighting over who was going to get to hold her for feeding. In the scuffle we knocked her and the baby basket off the chairs. The basket hit the floor on its bottom corner edge, tittered momentarily, then gently rolled over on its side. Darlene rolled out onto the floor very gently. Needless-to-say Dwain and I were in trouble again. At that point we were required to take turns feeding her.
Darlene was two to three during one of our many visits to Aunt Ollie and Uncle Jay's. Small pigs were running loose in the yard around their house. As pigs will do when hungry they came up to us wanting feed, which scared Darlene. For a long time after that day when we wanted to tease Darlene we yelled, "Here come the pigs," which caused her to jump up and down and cry.
It was always hard to understand some of the privileges Darlene was granted which her brothers were not. For example, during summer months she could sleep as late as she wanted, eat what she wanted for breakfast, whether it be pie or cake, and never seemed to have any chores to do.
She at times got motion sickness and vomited while riding in the car. One of those times was on our way to Wichita to visit Aunt Mabel, Uncle Paul, and Charlotte. It was probably Thanksgiving 1944 when she was two as our family and Aunt Mabel's always got together for a meal during the Thanksgiving holidays, prior to their move to Colorado.
Uncle Jake and Aunt Jen went with us which was very unusual for them to go that far from home. We were just about ready to turn into the long driveway, west of their house, when Darlene lost her breakfast by vomiting. She was standing on the back seat, which really got messed up along with her new light gray, black and white jacket Mother had made for her. Considerable clean up time was required at Uncle Jake's prior to continuing on to Wichita.
We had a flatbed two-wheel trailer which was fun to play on. One evening, south of the barn, where it was parked, I stepped on the rear of the trailer which caused the tongue to fly up and knock a chip off of one of Darlene's front teeth. That spelled trouble again.
One fall Sunday morning, when Darlene was two to three, while going to Aunt Babe and Uncle Glen Miller's house for one of the Ruggles' many family dinners, we got stuck in a mud hole on an ungraveled road. Aunt Babe, Uncle Glen, Curtis, and Marlene lived four miles west and one-half mile south of our house. We were in the 1935 Chevrolet two-door black standard sedan, which failed to get us through the mud east of Frank Miller's house, just one mile east of Aunt Babe's.
Prior to starting down that mile of muddy road Daddy stopped, looked the road over and thought we could make it since ruts had already been plowed by other cars. We just barely made it through two mud holes prior to sticking in a larger mud hole.
Dwain and I got out of the car into the mud and tried to push it out of the mud hole while Daddy attempted to drive it out. With wheels spinning, mud flying, and us pushing as hard as we could the car stayed in the mud hole. At that point Mother got out to help us push. Finally, after several minutes of hard pushing back and forth we made it out to dryer road. What a mess! Muddy shoes and clothes with mud thrown by spinning wheels, and mud on Mother's long good winter coat. We thought most of the mess had been cleaned up only to find another in the car. Dwain and I were charged with keeping Darlene on the back seat as three pumpkin pies were on the floor between the front and rear seats. While we were pushing she got off the seat, stomped in all three pies and then got back on the rear seat, spreading pumpkin pie all over the seat and her clothes.
Parents usually shopped for groceries at the Coop Grocery immediately south of Learmon Shoe and Saddle Shop on the east side of Main Street in the ten hundred block in Winfield. It was a fairly large store with several steel chairs at the front of the store for customers to wait.
One Saturday when Darlene was about three Mother instructed me to keep her at the store front while she grocery-shopped.
Darlene did not want to stay with me so she started crying and trying to find Mother. After several minutes of her crying an old gentleman sitting in the chair next to us leaned over to Darlene and said, "Your face sure would look funny if it froze like that." That stopped her crying.
Grandmother (Grandma) Harris/Lauppe/Garrison
After Grandpa Lauppe's death in January 1941 we moved in with Grandma the following month. I was never aware of any conflicts between her and parents, if there were any.
Things I most remember about her was that most nights for supper she had a glass of warm milk with a couple of slices of bread broken up in the milk. She usually had her bread and milk prior to the rest of us eating supper and usually went to bed a long time before the rest of us. She kept a "slop jar" (chamber pot) as she called it under her bed and used it nightly. Sometimes Dwain and I were required to empty it some mornings.
When she was not busy doing something else she was sewing squares together for a quilt. After piecing all squares together she set up the quilting frame in the living room to finish the quilt which required cotton for its center and sheet back, which was then hand-sewn together or tied with short pieces of string. During warm weather she moved the frame out on the southwest porch to quilt. She continued to quilt as long as she lived. In fact, she was always sewing quilt squares when one visited her in Burden.
On October 6, 1942, she fell on the back concrete porch and broke her leg. After she recovered and was able to travel she moved to Ottawa, Illinois and lived with Aunt Olive and family. While there she worked in a TB sanitarium. She moved back to Burden in 1946 or 1947 and lived with us a short time until she bought a small house in Burden and moved to it.
One afternoon a big baby blue 1946 four-door Buick sedan drove into our yard. It was Mark Garrison and his wife from Pryor, Oklahoma. Mrs. Garrison was related. Her mother was a sister of Great-Grandfather Lauppe, who married a Gatton. That Buick was the fanciest car I had ever seen. I had no idea at that time that I would see that Buick many times as well as ride in it. Mrs. Garrison died about two years or less after that visit. In the late 1940s or 1950 Grandma and Mark Garrison married and he moved in with Grandma. Mark had a big garden every year. He introduced us to okra, which I have raised every summer since.
In the fall of 1956 or spring of 1957 Grandma and Mark had been out to Daddy's farm and were headed back to Burden. Mark failed to see an approaching car and pulled out in front of it when pulling onto US Highway 160 east of the farm. Both of them were thrown from the Buick with Mark receiving critical head injuries. Doctors at William Newton Memorial Hospital in Winfield said there was nothing they could do to treat Mark's injuries. When Marceil learned of Mark's injury and that doctors were not planning any treatment, she demanded that a neurosurgeon in Wichita be called in for a second opinion. He came to Winfield that night and prescribed treatment which included turning Mark to a different position often, which saved his life. Grandma lost her glasses in the accident, but a couple of days later we found them in the highway ditch unbroken.
After Mark recovered he bought a green tudor 1951 Chevrolet. Even though they only lived one and a half block from the main business block in Burden, Mark would drive his car to town, then occasionally walk home. Several days later he would miss his car and find it downtown.
He served as treasurer of Burden's First Methodist Church, which was a block north of their house, for several years. Mark liked to tell stories. One he told several times was his experience as a boy raised near Waverly, Kansas. Around age twelve he would leave home extremely early in the morning with a team of horses and wagon for Eudora, Kansas, a distance of approximately fifty miles. Arrival was late that day. After arriving the wagon was loaded with potatoes so he could start home early the next morning. After arriving home his family's (five boys) winter supply was kept and the remainder sold, which was usually enough money to buy himself a pair of shoes for school.
Grandma was a very good cook. When she lived with us she got up early Sunday morning and made noodles, then draped the large pieces of noodle dough over the back of several kitchen chairs to dry while we were at Sunday School and church. As soon as we arrived home she cut the dough into strips before they got too dry. She never used a cookbook nor could she tell one exactly how to make a particular dish. Her lemon pies were super delicious. However, when Marceil tried to find out how to make them she said, "a pinch of this and a dash of that."
She became so forgetful that it was dangerous for her to cook as she would put a pan of food on the range and forget it until it boiled dry and burnt.
She either fell and broke her hip or it broke and let her fall. Regardless, she did not recover and died a few weeks later in a nursing home. Mark then moved back to Pryor, Oklahoma, to be close to his daughters and son and their families.
Aunt Mabel and Olive and Daddy sold Grandma's furniture and house. To keep some of her furniture in the family I bought the pie cupboard, which daughter Sonya refinished for a 4-H club project; solid oak dresser, refinished by Marceil in the big barn when we lived on East 11th Street Road; and two walnut furniture pieces made by Great-Grandfather Harris, a small footstool, and a straight back chair. I refinished the stool and replaced the chair's seat.
Grandma did not like it when Daddy enclosed the west porch on our farm house and made it a part of the living room, then made part of the living room into a full bathroom. She said to me, "Dad made this house the way I wanted it. It was good enough for me and should be for your dad." She was also upset when Daddy made the driveway to enter straight south of the house. She did not want cars driving on the front yard.
Anytime repairs were needed on Grandma's houses in Burden she expected Daddy to repair them promptly. We have stopped in the middle of wheat harvest or baling hay to fix a leaking faucet, replace a leaking water line, or work on a leaking roof. During cold weather we would crawl under her old house, thawing frozen water lines and wrapping them with additional sacks. Daddy was never paid for time he spent repairing her house. He also paid for all renovation of her house where he lived on the home place.
Following Grandma's death Daddy and his two sisters, Aunts Mabel and Olive, inherited the "other farm," which was two eighty-acre tracts, and Daddy inherited the home place, 160 acres. Daddy continued to farm the "other place" under the same landlord-renter agreement he had with Grandma for over twenty-five years. The rent agreement was a crop-share plan in which the landlord got one-third and tenant two-thirds. The landlord did pay one-third of the fertilizer and one-third baling expenses.
The first two years after inheriting the farm were not good crop years. When Daddy sent Aunts Olive and Mabel money for their share of the crop income it was a very small amount. Apparently Aunts Mabel and Olive expected to receive considerably more and could not understand why Daddy was getting more income from the farm since each owned one-third. I attempted to explain mathematically the reason why he received two-thirds of total as renter and then one-third of the remaining one-third, as a one-third owner which left each of them with one-ninth of the total. After those two years of small returns the aunts wanted to sell the other place. Daddy could not afford to buy their shares so reluctantly agreed to sell. Sale of that farm cut Daddy's farming operations in half and reduced income by greater than half since he did not have any baled prairie hay to sell. Besides losing income, he had a sentimental attachment since he had paid to terrace 120 acres, build waterways and through crop rotation had improved quality of the soil. He also felt they should not sell because money their father inherited from his father was used to purchase the farm. Daddy was so bitter about selling that he would not talk to his sisters for a couple of years. Undoubtedly the aunts felt they could get a higher return by investing money from land than from their share of the crops.
To keep the home farm in the family (Great-Grandfather Harris willed it to his daughter -- Grandma Lauppe -- who willed it to Daddy), Daddy sold it to Dwain and his wife Jaurene around 1990. This ends comments about Grandma Harris/Lauppe Garrison.
Aunt Olive, Uncle Charles (her husband), and Marjorie Moore
Aunt Olive, Daddy's sister, her husband Charles and daughter Marjorie lived on a farm three miles west and one mile south of where we lived after moving in with Grandma Lauppe.
I am sure we visited them many times prior to their move to Winfield, either in late 1940 or 1941. However, only three times have stuck in my memory. One time Uncle Charles was telling about losing a front wheel off his Model "A" Ford as he was approaching a railroad track. He started to stop for an approaching train when suddenly a wheel off his car went rolling down the road and bounced off the trains side as it crossed the road. Another time must have been HDU day as several older boys were there. One of the guys was lighting wood matches, letting them burn down close to his fingers before blowing them out. He asked me if I wanted to see a match burn twice. My response was "Yes" as I wanted to see a match burn again. He lit another match, let it burn a very short time, blew it out, then immediately stuck the hot phosphorus head on the back of my right hand. Hence the extremely sore hand for a long time and now the pea-sized scar on my hand.
Another time Daddy was helping Uncle Charles put loose prairie hay in the hay loft of the big barn. The procedure for placing the hay in the loft was to fork it by hand from ground to slings laid on a horse-drawn hayrack. When full of hay the wagon with slings was moved to the south side of the barn with an extra large door hinged from the bottom down. A steel track stuck out of the side of the barn just under the roof peak. Rope, pulleys, and rollers ran on the rail. A large rope ran from the pulleys down to ground level and out the side of the barn so a team of horses could pull each sling full of hay into the loft. Horses were unhitched from the hayrack and used to pull the sling full of hay to the loft. One guy was in the hay loft with a trip rope in hand to drop the hay where it was to be stacked and to yell stop to the team driver. The horses were backed up while another sling of hay was hooked to the lift.
Probably during 1941 they moved from the farm to the southwest part of Winfield, around Twelfth Street and two to three blocks east of the Santa Fe Railroad. One of the few times we visited them in Winfield Marjorie took Dwain and I to show us where she would go to school. It was a large stone two-story building, which is now used as Winfield's Museum. Another visit included a meal, with some fat on either pork chops or steak. My first time to see fat trimmed from meat and placed on the edge of a plate was when Marjorie trimmed hers.
Sometime during my first school year of 1941/42 (probably March or April 1942) Aunt Olive and Uncle Charles moved to Ottawa, Illinois where several members of Uncle Charles' family lived. The night before they departed for Illinois they stayed with us, then left early enough the next morning in time to drop me off at Silver Creek school. I always thought it was neat that I was the last family member to see them as they departed Kansas for Illinois.
Two or three years later Aunt Olive and Marjorie came back to Kansas for a visit one summer. During summer months we always went barefoot. One Monday morning Mother and Aunt Olive were doing the laundry on the east side of the house on the concrete slab with the gasoline powered square tub Maytag. Marjorie and I were sent east of the house to a chicken house (now a smoke house northwest of the house) to see why a turkey hen with babies was raising such a fuss. Just as Marjorie was ready to step through the west chicken house door she started screaming and jumping up and down. She stopped screaming although her mouth was wide open and started running for the house. I could not figure out why she screamed and ran off, so I moved north to the door to investigate. As I started to step into the building my left bare foot stepped on something soft and spongy in the grass which caused me to jump. I looked down to see a snake.
Mother killed the bull snake with a garden hoe and draped it over the garden fence so its length could be measured, which was slightly over four feet. It must have been ten to fifteen minutes before Marjorie regained her voice and was able to talk again.
Grandma raised horse radish along the west fence at the northwest corner of the garden. Every fall she dug some of the roots and made horse radish. Christmas dinner 1941 was at our house with Marjorie, Aunt Olive, Uncle Charles and Aunt Etta (Grandma's sister) as guests. Marjorie was sniffing some new horse radish in a quart jar. She was having everybody to smell it. All smelled it with caution as they knew the potency and burning action to one's nose. I carefully smelled it like the rest. Next it was Dwain's turn. Marjorie demonstrated to him how to take a deep breath, then she held the jar close to his nose and instructed him to take a deep breath. He did as instructed and that's when our small windup Caterpillar tractor we had received as a Christmas present from Santa hit the living room ceiling. Dwain started crying immediately and ran into the south bedroom where he stayed for about twenty minutes. Contact with the ceiling and floor bent the blade and knocked off one of the tractor's rubber tracks. No more sniffing of horse radish that day.
One summer when Aunt Olive and Marjorie visited us a big family dinner was held at our house. It was a very hot summer Sunday. After lunch some of the older guys decided to walk a little over a mile east of the house to Silver Creek. I decided to tag along. By the time we reached the top of the hill one-half mile east of the house on the return trip home I was feeling really weak and very hot. When we reached the house all of us headed for the well to get a drink of cool water. I drank several cups of the fresh well water and a few minutes later felt sick and weak. So I went upstairs to the south bedroom where a hot wind was blowing in the south bedroom windows.
After quite a length of time Mother learned I was upstairs and came to check on me. She told me to stay there and out of the sun until I felt okay, which was after nearly all the guests were gone. That's when I learned that Uncle Fred Harris had sat in my child's walnut rocking chair, made by Great-Grandfather Harris, who was Uncle Fred's father, and broke off one of the arm rests.
One of the times Marjorie visited she told us some "dirty jokes" one night on the southwest porch -- my first exposure to that type of joke/story. A couple of them ended as follows: "...park my car in your garage" and "...run my train through your tunnel."
Marjorie and Aunt Olive always came to Kansas on the train which gave us a chance to go to Winfield's Santa Fe Depot to pick them up or board for Illinois. All the passenger cars and locomotive were shiny silver with a rotating reflector inside the single headlight of the locomotive which was always on. Each train had its own name, either Silver Chief, Texas Chief, Chieftain, etc.
When one traveled by train, luggage was put on a steel-wheeled luggage wagon about four feet wide and eight feet long. They were always pulled by hand by a baggage man who loaded it onto a baggage car and baggage was loaded off the train also. Other types of baggage would also be on carts such as boxes, eggs, or cream. Mail was always loaded into and off of a mail car where it was sorted enroute. The depot agent always handed the locomotive engineer a paper, as well as the conductor. Most of the porters were black. They were the train crew that opened passenger car doors and set the small metal step stool on the ground and yelled "All aboard" up the line, car by car, until the locomotive engineer got the message. At that time air was released down the line of cars from the brakes, and with a toot on the whistle, the locomotive started moving with a clanking sound between each car as slack was taken out of the hitch.
We always arrived at the depot prior to the train. While waiting in the large north room we could hear the telegraph chattering away, always wondering what message it was relaying and which of the many telegraph wires running along each railroad track was carrying the message.
One time while waiting I got a drink of water from one of the two drinking fountains hanging side by side. I had taken a drink from the south fountain which the station agent informed me was for Negroes. Not being aware of color segregation I could not understand why I should not have drunk from that fountain. I maybe thought the water tasted different. But it tasted the same when I drank from the north fountain. I did not understand until Mother explained the white people and Negroes had different waiting rooms and different drinking fountains in the depot.
Aunt Mabel and Uncle Paul Riggs
Daddy's eldest sister, Mabel, taught school for approximately twenty years in one- room country schools prior to marrying Paul Riggs the summer of 1942. Although I was too young to remember I understand she roomed at my parents' home while teaching at Tisdale, a large red brick building slightly west and about a quarter-mile north of Tisdale church and about the same distance southeast of the townsite of Tisdale. At the time Aunt Mabel taught at Tisdale the town consisted of an elevator, town hall, and a grocery store plus several houses, none of which existed in the mid-nineties. I remember going with Daddy to the Tisdale Elevator several times. I always wanted to ride either up or down on the man lift which was a wide endless belt with a platform to stand on while pulling a rope to go either up or down.
After we moved from the Tisdale community Mother had all her teeth pulled. We never shopped at Tisdale's grocery store but did one day on the way home from Winfield where Mother had several teeth pulled that day. I do not know what we stopped for unless there was something they forgot to get in Winfield.
The all-wood, round-back chairs we used around the drop-leaf table in our family room were purchased by Daddy when the Tisdale Odd fellows/City Hall sold out. We used them as kitchen chairs until Daddy remarried and moved to Winfield in 1967.
I do not know where Aunt Mabel taught after leaving Tisdale. I understand she taught at Eaton at one time and was teaching in Argonia just prior to her marriage. I remember going to visit her one Sunday and having a picnic in Argonia's park.
After school was out in the spring of 1942 Aunt Mabel stayed with us until her marriage later that spring. One day that spring she needed to go to Burden but decided she did not have enough gasoline in her 1936 Dodge to get to town and was wondering if Daddy had any gas in the shop. I knew he had two kinds, one gasoline and the other power fuel for the John Deere tractor. Daddy was working so I showed Aunt Mabel which five-gallon can contained gasoline. We poured some in her car and she headed for town. A few minutes later she walked into the house and said her car had quit running about a block east of the house. To get the car to run again Daddy had to drain the power fuel out of the tank and fill it with gasoline.
That same spring Aunt Mabel and Uncle Paul were married in the living room of our home. Prior to the wedding Dwain and I helped Aunt Mabel wash and clean her car. Immediately after the minister pronounced them husband and wife four or five of Uncle Paul's relatives started to decorate Aunt Mabel's car which was parked just west of the well northwest of the house. Dwain and I stood on the big concrete well curb and watched them mess up her clean car with shoe polish and tin cans tied on the car. They decided more decorative items were needed so all of them went to Burden to buy more decorations. Either the wedding was on a Saturday or they had to make special arrangements with Ralph Henderson to open the drugstore.
While they were gone into town Dwain and I got buckets of water and rags and washed windows and the car again for Aunt Mabel so it would be clean for her honeymoon trip. When the group returned from Burden they were upset that Aunt Mabel's car had been cleaned up and wanted to know who did it and why. We told them we did it because we wanted her car to look pretty and that they should not mark on someone else's car. We could tell they were upset because as they tied crepe paper on the car they whispered to each other instead of talking loudly and laughing when writing with shoe polish.
Aunt Mabel and Uncle Paul left on their honeymoon with streamers only on the car and Dwain and I learned that at the time a couple are married their car is decorated, as explained to us later that evening.
Aunt Mabel and Uncle Paul lived in Wichita, either on Harry Street or close to it, immediately north of McConnell Air Force Base and Boeing. Their small brick apartment was directly below the take-off and landing approach to McConnell Air Base which was training for Army Air Force pilots (no U.S. Air Force yet) who were practicing taking off and landing. Sure was noisy in their apartment when the B-17s would fly low over their house but was even louder when the larger, more powerful,
B-29 bombers were developed and flying.
Charolette, their eldest daughter, was born while they lived under that noisy flight pattern. Charolette must have been two to three years old when they moved to a single family house southwest of the downtown area. They continued to live in that yellow house until moving to Denver. We visited them several times while they lived there. Each time we visited, Uncle Paul took all of us to see some sights in Wichita. One time near Christmas it was downtown to a large department store (Innes?) which had a large mechanical Santa Claus sitting in a display window laughing and slapping his right leg. Several times it was to the Zoo which seemed real to me. Other times, when weather permitted, it was a picnic in the park by the zoo or in the river front park. One time it was out to the Beech Airplane Factory to show us the building where he worked, then north of it to a small airport which his brother Noble had flown into in a small-single engine plane. One visit Uncle Paul was proud of the maroon paint job he had just completed on Aunt Mabel's faded brown Dodge. He had painted it with a powder puff.
Going to or from Aunt Mabel's left a distinct memory of part of the road as that stretch of US 77 north of Winfield was poured concrete slabs with wide joints. At the speed Daddy drove that old 1935 Chevrolet sedan bounced and bumped at every joint.
Grandpa and Grandma Lauppe had a black Shepherd dog named "Pat" which Daddy did not want to keep after we moved in with Grandma so they gave him to a family named Stephens who lived approximately one mile south of Rock on US Highway 77. Several times on our way home from Aunt Mabel's we stopped to see old one-eyed Pat. He lost an eye when kicked by a mule.
Every Thanksgiving and Christmas Aunt Mabel and Uncle Paul always came to our house. One reason they came then was that Uncle Paul liked to hunt quail and rabbits. He had two or three guns so he loaned one to Daddy since Daddy did not have one. Dwain and I were too small to carry guns but we always tagged along. When successful we had quail or rabbit for supper. Hunting was always fun even though we did not get to fire a gun while walking those several miles of hedge rows on our farms.
One Christmas, just Aunt Mabel and Uncle Paul came to visit. We expected them to arrive late afternoon or early evening. When they did not arrive at the expected time we just assumed they had been stopped by heavy blowing snow. We went to bed at our usual 10:00 p.m. At midnight our phone rang which was Aunt Mabel calling from neighbor Jock Steel's home a mile west of us saying they were stuck in a snow drift about a mile and three-quarters west of us. Daddy woke Dwain and I to help them out of the snow drift. We got grain shovels, crawled in the old Chevy pickup, and managed to get as far west as Steel's driveway. We walked the rest of the way through deep snow at times. We scooped and pushed and scooped and pushed that big blue Lincoln until it finally topped the hill near Weigle's hired man's house. At that point it was down hill and snow in the road was not as deep because of native grass on the north side of the road and a more dense hedge row. For approximately a quarter of a mile the road was passable with shallow drifts. We walked to a closed section of the road near Steel's drive where an area, estimated to be at least 100 feet wide, had two-foot or deeper drifts. Uncle Paul had driven to those drifts and determined he could not get through so we started scooping snow.
After scooping for awhile I wondered what had happened to Uncle Paul and looked up just in time to yell "Watch out here he comes." We ran for the fence to avoid being run over or hit by flying snow. Uncle Paul had backed up the quarter-mile to the big snow drift we had just got him out of and was coming toward us and the big snow drift in the road at a high rate of speed. He probably was driving fifty to sixty miles an hour because that stretch of road was nearly blown free of snow. When that Lincoln hit the snow drift it threw snow beyond fences and into fields as it plowed and slid its way across the drift. It was barely moving when rear wheels hit snow free road surface on the east side of the drift. We probably spent more than an hour getting them through snow drifts.
Uncle Paul mentioned many times about his father buying a Jones car, made in Wichita, and driving it up Pike's Peak. He thought that was about 1916.
I am a fast learner -- I only touched a hot cigarette lighter once. One afternoon while Aunt Mabel was staying with us Dwain and I were playing in her car. One button we pushed in, then it would pop out. After several times of that we discovered it came out. Something smelled hot so I stuck my left thumb on the end with the coils. Ouch! That's when I found out it worked as my thumb smoked and I had round rings on my thumb for a long time.
One time, probably on a Saturday, I walked to the corner after the mail. I really got excited about receiving a letter addressed to me. I could hardly wait to get it opened since I had never received a letter before. I was surprised and disappointed at the same time to find a neatly folded white 8˝ x 11 sheet with only "April Fool" on one side and no signature. No clues as to who sent that letter. That first made me aware of the meaning of "April Fool." Sometime later when Aunt Mabel was visiting she asked if I got her letter. I thought and said I had not received any letters to which she replied, "Not even an April Fool letter?" That solved the mystery of the letter sender.
Aunt Mabel was watching Marjorie, Dwain and I that August day in 1941 when I broke my left wrist. With all her years of teaching at county schools she seemed to know what to do and did not get excited. In her calmness she wrapped a wet towel around my wrist that was out of place and headed for a doctor in Winfield. See details in another section (Part II, p. 2).
Her birthday was on Valentine's Day so I always tried to send her a card or call on or near her birthday anniversary. It was always a pleasure to have Aunt Mabel visit and to visit in her home.
Great Uncle Jake and Great Aunt Jen Lauppe
Uncle Jake and Aunt Jen were brother and sister of Grandpa Lauppe (George Elmer), who never married and continued to live on Great-Grandfather Lauppe's farm where they were born. So the story goes, great-grandfather traded a team of oxen and "some money" for the 160-acre farm (quarter section) that someone else had started to homestead. The northeast corner of the quarter had good quality limestone which was quarried to build the stone house, barns, spring house, and hundreds of feet of stonewall fence. I understand that Grandpa sold stone out of the quarry for 25˘ a wagon load to build business stores in Burden, five and one-half miles away.
After great-grandfather purchased the farm he built a large two-story, four-room stone addition onto the existing two-story stone house. That addition also included a neat porch on its south side which was full length of the addition with large stone slabs for a floor. It sure was fun to run and play on that large porch where the only thing on it was Aunt Jen's hand-operated washing machine, which had an all-metal rocker-shaped tub which moved clothes from one end to the other. We washed many imaginary loads of clothes moving that wood handle back and forth.
He also built several stone buildings, one of which was the large stone barn where it was fun to play in the haymow with its two different levels split into three sections. Instead of having the hay door in one end of the barn like wood frame barns, it had an elevated floor over the driveway with a large opening in the center for hay slings to pick up hay from wagons and move it to various parts of the haymow. Some loose hay in the northeast corner must have been up there for many years for it was very brown and dusty as we discovered when playing on it. Apparently the big stone barn was the last building Great-Grandpa completed, shortly before his death.
The house and all the farm buildings were located near the interior, southeast corner of the quarter which made it nearly one-half mile east of a north/south road and at least one quarter south of an east/west road. Undoubtedly it was at that location due to a natural spring which flowed year round. The large two-story stone house was approximately 100 yards straight west of the spring. A well-type pit was dug into the ground several feet deep then lined with stones which allowed spring water to flow in and fill the shallow well. The east side of the spring was a shallow pit two steps down from the stone sidewalk from house to the spring house. Stone side walls of the spring pit were laid slightly above ground level. A very large six inch thick stone covered the pit. The east side the pit walls stopped about two feet below the stone cover which enabled one to dip a bucket into the water, or a dipper to fill a water bucket. During warm weather when we ate Sunday dinner with Aunt Jen and Uncle Jake we kids got to take the water bucket to the spring and get nice cool fresh water for our meal. We looked forward to getting water because it was different from pumping water at home. The water bucket was never covered nor was the spring opening. Sometime before Jake and Jen moved to Burden a wood door and cover were built over the spring opening.
Another fun thing in connection with that spring was the stone spring house which was built four feet east of the spring. It had three levels of stone floors with spring water running through two large pits of water about four inches deep where eggs, cream, milk, butter, etc., were put during the summer to keep them cool. The top-floor level had a large cider press, lard press, and potato bins on it. We had fun running around the water pits, up and down the different floor levels.
We seemed to always get the kid wagon out of the shed attached to the corn crib built with part of its east side a stone wall. The wagon was really old with large wood wheels about a foot in diameter painted red. The wagon box was painted green. It may have been a Studebaker. With its large wheels it pulled easier than our little red wagon.
Another thing we always did was go into the shop and look at all of the old tools, especially those in a big wood chest about three to four feet long, two feet high, and two feet front to back. It had a couple of metal bands around it and supposedly came from Germany. Also in that shop was a blacksmith forge with a large wood wheel that was turned by a leather strap wrapped around the wheel's axle, then attached to a long wood handle which was raised and lowered to make that flywheel turn. One end of the flywheel axle had a flat belt-pulley with a belt that turned a fan to blow air into the hot burning coal.
Another of our favorite fun spots was the stone quarry starting about one hundred yards northeast of the large stone barn. It had a solid stone floor which meant we could play without getting muddy. We climbed over huge rocks, up the nearly vertical walls and played hide and seek in the quarry.
Just across the fence east of the quarry was a deep ditch, on Aunt Mary Harris' eighty acres, that flowed north through a bridge onto Frank Weigle's large pasture. At the north edge of the bridge was a large four to five foot deep pool of water. Several times we went swimming to cool off in that pool. Inside the bridge was our dressing room. We swam nude but were never seen by anyone coming down the road as we could hear a car coming a great distance away. Most times no one drove by but when they did we scurried to get under the bridge. It was daring and fun.
One time when visiting, Uncle Jake showed us where a big bunch of honey bees had moved into their house. He had cut some of the floor boards on the second floor to expose the bees and honey comb between the floor and ceiling below. He robbed part of the comb each fall.
It was always interesting to observe Aunt Jen cook on her wood burning kitchen range. It sat near the north kitchen door which was convenient to wood and cobs stacked just outside the kitchen door. She continually checked to see if more cobs or wood were needed. When they were needed she opened the kitchen door and retrieved a couple small pieces of wood or three or four cobs when burning cobs. Such a small amount soon burnt and it was time to repeat the process, whereas when Grandma or Mother refueled the same type range at home the fire box was always filled to capacity which would burn several times longer than Aunt Jen's refueling job.
Another thing really different from our house was the table setting without spoons at each plate. When one needed a spoon one had to ask that it be passed to you, as food, because Aunt Jen put all spoons in a clear cut glass dish approximately four inches in diameter and about the same depth. I do not know the basis of that practice, whether it was an old German custom, Early American custom, or just Aunt Jen's practice.
At the northeast corner of the house was a cistern. Instead of being totally underground and brick lined as most, it was a metal tank mostly submerged with only about three feet above ground with a wood board top. To get water from it one was required to raise the wood lid and dip water with a bucket and rope tied to the bail.
North of their house, about one hundred feet, was a one car wood frame garage with door on the south side. Uncle Jake kept his 1925 Model "T' Ford four door-sedan and later his 1936 Chevrolet there. We always opened and closed the door several times to watch and marvel how it could turn on its curving track inside the garage. They never went anywhere when it looked like rain or was muddy so the drive and the garage were grass only -- no gravel.
Real early in the 1950s Uncle Jake bought a more modern car, a 1936 Chevrolet black four-door sedan. He then dismantled the Model "T" and used various parts around the farm -- i.e., the windshield became the south window of a shed for his F12 Farmall tractor. Doors were propped together to form an "A"-shape chicken coop for old setting hens and their chicks, and one of the exterior door handles was used on the door he installed over the spring.
Approximately mid-1950s they bought an old two-story frame house with a garage in the southeast part of Burden. They had not lived there many years when Aunt Jen became ill and was placed in a home in Winfield for around-the-clock care. She did not live long. Uncle Jake only lived about four years longer. He died at home, either from a stroke or heart attack, as nephew Carol Harris found him dead on the floor.
I had difficulty understanding what Aunt Jen said as her voice faded at the end of each sentence. She had one figure of speech which was very different. Instead of saying "I don't think" she always said "thinks I to myself."
Uncle Jake had a rather ingenious way of telling when the mailman had come. His mailbox was over a quarter-mile northwest of the house. He had a tall pole behind the mailbox with a rod and flag mounted to swivel. A latch was connected to the mailbox lid so that when it was opened the rod and flag swung to a vertical position which made it high enough to be seen at a certain spot north of the house.
Following the death of Uncle Jake, Daddy bought his house in Burden which was left to approximately twenty-five cousins. He repaired the old two-story house and rented it for a few years prior to selling it to a young couple who destroyed it and built a modern house on the same site. Daddy kept the two-car garage and moved it to the farm
We kids never objected to going to visit Aunt Jen and Uncle Jake, even though they did not pay much attention to us as there were always plenty of fun things to do.
Great Uncle Deamus (Deam) Lauppe
Uncle Deam was a brother of Grandfather Lauppe, George Elmer, and Uncle Jake and Aunt Jen. His farm was in the same section as Uncle Jake's -- in fact they adjoined. Uncle Deam had four sons: Gerald, Lacel, John Ivan, and Donald, and a daughter, Grace, who was the youngest.
We visited Uncle Deam a few times on a Sunday, which was probably after World War II because Grace was there. She and friend Louise Andes had worked in a defense plant in Indiana during the war.
Two things we always made sure we did while visiting was to play with the old fashioned hand-operated wood clothes washer. It had a round wood tub with a wood top which had a hand-levered gear-driven agitator which turned as it went up and down in the tub. The other activity was to go into the deep cellar under the well pump and smoke house and see the pipe from the pump above extending into the well.
Also, we could play in the big farm barn, in an old Model "T" Ford truck with a hand operated windshield wiper and a real early Model "D" John Deere tractor. One day we drove our John Deere Model "A" with saw mounted on front to Uncle Dean's and sawed hedge firewood all day.
Our 1937 John Deere "A" tractor's cylinders and rings were worn excessively. It was burning oil so badly that driving to and from the other farm one would be required to stop and clean oil and carbon off the two spark plugs, yet when one was plowing or working it hard in the field the plugs only needed to be cleaned each half day. During the war one could not get needed repair parts so we used it until parts were available after the war. Daddy and Uncle Deam tore the engine down, put in a new block, pistons, rings, etc. I got to help with the repair which was performed under a huge elm tree about one hundred feet straight north of the house. This sure was fun and an education as Daddy had not done major engine overhaul for me to help with. When the tractor was running again Uncle Deam said to Mother and Daddy about me, in my presence, "That kid is good; he will be a good mechanic some day."
Aunt Babe Miller
Ethel Ruggles Miller, "Aunt Babe," was Mother's sister; her husband was Glenn Miller, and they always lived within five miles of us which meant we saw them quite often. Usually it was at a family dinner held about once a month at a different home each time. She was our barber who seemed to cut our hair every time we had a family dinner. Since none of us had electricity she used hand operated clippers which sometimes pulled hair when she did not work the handles fast enough. The worst part of getting a hair cut after the big dinner was interrupting our play time. She got stuck with cutting our hair because of her experience gained while working in a beauty parlor prior to marriage. One could always count on her bringing delicious chicken and noodles to smother all those mashed potatoes at each family dinner. Of course, she brought other food, as did all mothers.
During World War II when the large pitch group disbanded she and Uncle Glenn continued to play about every Saturday night with the Jordans. Playing cards seemed to be her favorite activity. She always liked to joke and tell stories and still does, at age ninety-four.
I first remember Aunt Babe when they lived on a farm, one mile south and two miles west of our farm, where house and building were a considerable distance north off an east/west road. Two things unique to that farm were the way they shaded tomato plants. Gunny sacks were split at seams, stretched out flat and fastened to posts about four feet off the ground. They had long rows of sacks through their garden. The second memory is persimmon trees along their drive. Mother loved ripe persimmons so she always ate several, then took some home.
In the early 1940s they moved two miles west and one-half mile north to the Moffet farm which had a newer much larger house. The house had very bright lights which were natural gas ceiling fixtures. Besides their neat bright lights Uncle Glenn could air up tires with a hose from a real small building near the garage. I sure wished we could air up tires like that without pumping a tire pump. Now I know that may not have been such a neat way to inflate tires, especially for a smoker or in case a spark would have been present when inflating or deflating a tire, for he was using natural gas.
They moved from the Moffet farm around 1947, when the Curtis Unger family moved from Illinois to that farm. They moved a mile and a half east and one and a half miles south to a small gray house owned by Roy Kadah. I do not recall how long they lived at that location, probably less than a year, when they bought the Aldridge farm a mile and a half north and moved into the old two-story house. That summer they lived in the Kadah house Dwain and I each stayed a couple nights, at different times, with Curtis and Marlene. One afternoon when I was visiting Curtis, Marlene and I walked half a mile south to the railroad track, then east down the track to a large trestle which had a large water hole where we waded and played in the muddy water. While we were wading, the railroad section crew came putting slowly along on their section car and waved, and one yelled at us. That evening after chores were done Uncle Glenn took all of us to Winfield to see a night league baseball game played at the fair grounds, my first.
After moving into the Aldridge farm they lived in the old two-story house a year or more prior to moving it straight north, just far enough to build the present ranch style house. Uncle Glenn tore down an old two-story house near Winfield which provided most of the lumber he needed. He even rigged up a sanding device to sand old paint off siding so it could be reused on their new house.
About the time or shortly after construction of their new house, oil drillers struck oil and gas south of their barn so the house is heated with one large natural gas stove placed in the large living room.
They attended Tisdale church some but it seemed not on a regular basis. Uncle Glenn complained he did not like to be continually asked for money. He always said family and farm needs came first.
The first car I remember Uncle Glenn owning was a 1928 Dodge coupe, navy blue with black fenders. Sometime after they moved to the Moffet farm he bought a baby blue 1939 Dodge four-door sedan. He kept the old Dodge to pull trailers for several years. In 1954 he bought two new vehicles, a light green and white Chevrolet four-door sedan and a Chevrolet half-ton pickup, about the same color as the sedan.
During the spring 1955 National Junior College Tournament, held in Hutchinson, Dwain and I went to the tournament one day with Curtis in the 1954 sedan. He got us there and home in record time driving sixty-five to seventy miles per hour. Speed limit in Kansas was "safe and prudent."
Curtis liked cake. Aunt Babe would bake a cake and be gone from home when school was out for the day. Curtis would cut a four inch piece across one end of the cake. Aunt Babe would get after him for taking so much cake. His reply, "But mom, I only had one piece."
About 1948, brother Dwain was sick and missed about a week of school. We discovered Curtis was sick at exactly the same time and had exactly the same symptoms, a sore back and left leg which did not work well. They were both taken to a doctor in Wichita who diagnosed their illness as infantile paralysis (polio). They were fortunate that it was a mild case as many who had infantile paralysis ended up with permanent disability.
Both Curtis and Marlene died at a fairly young age. Marlene was first. She married Ronald Shoup from Udall. They had three children: Kathy, Gayle and Steven. After a failed business venture in Winfield they moved to Dallas where Ronald ran his own carpentry business. They were visiting Ronald's parents on the farm south of Udall when Steven was twelve. He and a cousin were playing with a rifle when it accidentally went off. The bullet passed through a partition and struck Marlene in the head as she visited in the living room.
It was only three or four years later that Curtis died of diabetes. He married Barbara Barkman who lived three miles south of us. They also had three children - all boys: Ric, David and Ty.
Uncle Bill Ruggles
Uncle Bill (Walter James) Ruggles was mother's only brother, who was approximately two years older than mother. He was always joking and laughing much as his sister Aunt Babe does.
He married Grace Brooks. They had two boys, Maurice (two years older than me) and Melvin (two and a half months older than me) and two girls, Janice and Leora, six and eight years younger.
Their family never lived more than four miles from us and less than a mile away from 1942-1952. At that time they moved one-half mile west of Carroll Harris, which put them two miles away. Being that close we had lots of opportunities to see them.
When he first farmed on Perry Miller's farm, a mile east of us, he had a 10-20 McCormick Deering tractor. A few years later he traded it in for a John Deere "A" like Daddy's. Those were the only John Deere tractors within several miles of us.
When horses were still used for farming Uncle Bill kept a male donkey for breeding purposes. About every morning we could hear that old donkey braying.
Uncle Bill believed in "early to bed and early to rise ..." as one could hear his tractors running shortly after sunrise but stop early evening so he could go to bed as soon as it got dark. I doubt he got rich although he did own a small house on a small tract of land at the time of his death.
He liked to play pitch and was quite good at it. He and Aunt Grace were part of the Tisdale pitch group for several years. He taught me several things about pitch playing, which I still use when playing once a month with our current pitch group.
Around 1980 several of us Kansas Ruggles went to Kentucky to a Ruggles' reunion. Uncle Bill had not traveled in an airplane before, so that was his first ride. Apparently his son Melvin had told him it would be a smooth ride. At one point during the flight the plane hit some turbulent weather and as a result it was very rough riding. Uncle Bill was sitting in the front seat behind first class and was very hard-of-hearing. As most individuals with poor hearing, he talked rather loud. We were not all able to sit together which seated me about the center of the plane. During the turbulence I could hear Uncle Bill say very loud, "Where's Melvin - this damn thing rides rougher than that old mule I used to ride." Several passengers around me chuckled.
Great Aunt Maggie and Uncle Winn Oldham
Great Aunt Maggie was a sister of my Grandmother Ruggles. They were "Bowser" sisters to great uncles Jay, Bert, Chester, and great aunt Myrtle. She married Winn Oldham who undoubtedly was raised in the Rose Valley community southeast of Winfield. They did not have children?
During the silent movie era they lived in Hollywood, California, where Uncle Winn worked as a carpenter for movie producers. He indicated that he had helped build the temple for the first "King and I" movie, which was silent.
I first remembered visiting them on a farm southwest of Strother Field where Uncle Winn primarily raised wheat. Their furniture was different from ours in that one small table had steel claw feet clasping large glass marbles, glass front display shelves with beautiful bright colored vases and dishes, and a large wood-framed chair with an adjustable back (forerunner of modern recliner).
In the early to mid 1940s they bought eighty acres one-half mile west and one-half mile north of Tisdale church where they lived until Aunt Maggie's death. Shortly after her death Uncle Winn's health failed so he moved in with Aunt Maggie's nephew and wife, Harold and Ann Bowser, who lived between Arkansas City and the Oklahoma/Kansas state line.
Uncle Winn made several pieces of furniture from wood. He made a thirty-inch high stool/step combination and a stand to hold two hand wash pans which we had for many years. He also made a wood lawn mower deck for a rotary mower, which was very rare in the early 1940s. He gave it to us. Daddy bought a one-cylinder engine for it. One Sunday afternoon Dwain and I were having fun mowing the front yard with it, since it cut the Bermuda grass easy compared to the old reel mower we had been pushing, when Grandma Lauppe got after us because we were working on the Sabbath, which was a day for rest.
The mower did not have a guard over its belt. To start its engine one wrapped a small cotton rope around a small extension of the flywheel. The rope had a small wood handle to clasp fingers around while pulling the wound rope. One day I had started its engine then leaned over to make an engine adjustment when the starting rope caught in the drive belt which jerked it out of my hand, then swung its handle around which hit me on the main joint of my right index finger. The pain was so great I shut the engine off and headed for the house. By the time I went from the area of the buried butane tank to the west porch everything went black. I felt my way to the rocking chair in the living room where I fainted. That hit left a small bump on the joint.
Uncle Winn claimed he never wore shoes during summer months until age thirty-five, that he and a bunch of friends always went swimming each Easter, whether it was cold or warm, and that they caught forty-pound catfish which pulled their boat near the old mill dam on the Walnut River in Winfield.
I learned to like sauerkraut at those frequent family dinners as Aunt Maggie always brought kraut and wieners cut up in the kraut. Every time any relatives visited Uncle Winn after he moved in with Harold and Ann Bowser we were always accompanied by Ann to his bedroom for the duration of the visit. Following Uncle Winn's death his will indicated that the large amount of money he had loaned Harold and Ann would not be needed to be paid to the estate. It further stated that after funeral expenses the balance of his estate was to be divided equally among his only relative, a nephew, and Aunt Maggie's nieces and nephews. Since Mother was deceased it left $100 each to Darlene, Dwain and I. After funeral expenses Darlene, Dwain and I got our $100; nieces and nephews received considerably less than $100. Uncle Glenn Miller insisted there was more money to divide because he had deposited $10,000 in Uncle Winn's account at First Federal Savings in Winfield a year or so earlier when he bought Uncle Winn's eighty acre farm. A check revealed the account had been closed out. Uncle Winn had told his nephew that if he ran out of money in all his other accounts that $5,000 was in a bank in Arkansas City and that no one would know it but him. After finding all the other accounts closed, the nephew checked only to find that account closed also.
Uncle Glenn was so upset about the missing money that he hired an attorney and sued to investigate all the missing money. Ann had her name added on all signature cards for his various bank accounts. They also found out that on a Saturday, less than two weeks before Uncle Winn died, an attorney had gone to Harold and Ann's house where Uncle Winn's will was changed to forgive 100 percent of Harold and Ann's loan that they owed Uncle Winn. The judge said he did not understand how Ann could have taken all of that money, but she did everything legal so could not be charged for stealing. Not long after that the judge dismissed the suit Uncle Glenn had filed.
Harold and Ann remodeled their house, then bought a house in Wisconsin and moved to Wisconsin where they had lived several years prior to moving to Arkansas City. They must have lived in Wisconsin about ten years before moving back to Arkansas City again.
With my $100 I bought a solid maple wood bed which was son Monte's bed from 1968 until he left home.
Weather to a dry land farmer is the determining factor as to quality and quantity of crops. Rain is probably the most critical ingredient to producing a crop. Too much rain can prevent planting, caring for, or harvesting crops. Wet ground not only prevents machinery from moving over the ground but also prohibits working wet soil to the condition required to plant seeds. Prior to horse- and tractor-drawn machinery, one walked in muddy fields and broadcast grain by hand alone or with a hand-held rotary seeder.
Most of the time we used a grain drill to put seed in the ground and cover it whereas a few times we used an "end gate seeder" which originally belonged to my Great-Grandfather Lauppe. It mounted in place of the rear end gate of a horse drawn grain wagon. It contained two funnel shaped hoppers for seed, one for wheat, etc., which probably held two to three bushels, and the other for clover/alfalfa seed, only about one-quarter the size of a large grain hopper, which held approximately twenty pounds of seed. It had two whirling metal discs which scattered seed and were driven by a chain and sprocket attached to a rear wagon wheel. Most years weather was fairly predictable and one could seed, work ground, or harvest when needed within a few days. Two exceptions were 1951 and 1954. Excessive rain and major floods occurred in 1951. That summer we finished harvesting wheat on July 4th. The next day we started plowing wheat ground, which we always plowed or worked as soon as possible after wheat was harvested, in the ten acre field at the northwest corner of the farm. I started right after dinner (lunch) and had plowed a couple of hours when Dwain came out and relieved me. He was plowing against the east/west hedge row when a limb caught the valve stem on a rear tractor tire and broke it off which let air and fluid out of the tire. Since our old phone did not work well and the tire was worn badly, Daddy decided to go to Winfield to look at tires. We arrived at the Firestone store on East 9th just as it was closing. Daddy purchased a new tire and scheduled changing of tires for the next day. It rained that night and continued to rain great amounts over the next three weeks, causing major flooding of creeks and rivers here in the Midwest. After two weeks of a muddy field which prohibited the tire truck from getting down in the field to the tractor, they had us drive it with the flat tire in mud to the road and change tires. When it finally quit raining and dried up enough to work ground again weeds were so tall and large that we were forced to replow ground plowed prior to the flat tire.
Plowing wheat ground that summer was difficult because all the rain had run particles of soil together, pretty much as wet concrete. It also allowed weeds to grow tall and thick. In fact, several acres along the big ditch on the east eighty, at the other place, had horse weeds eight to ten feet tall which were too large and tough to mow and plow under. When dry enough to plow, it took all three of us to plow those weeds under, one on the tractor going as slow as it would possibly go and still have power to pull the plow through those matted roots. Each of us on the ground walked between tractor and plow, one on each side of the plow tongue, with sharp corn knives chopping those tall weeds the tractor had knocked over into foot-long lengths so they would go through the plow without clogging it. It was hot, slow work since most of those weeds were nearly as tall as the top of the umbrella on the John Deere tractor, approximately ten feet high.
Lack of rain presented a different kind of problem. After plowing wet ground in the summer of 1951, in the same field with the weed problem two years earlier we had so little rain that plowing was almost impossible in the summer of 1954. Normally when we plowed, straw turned under the previous summer was decayed or totally degenerated or only bits of it remained. In the summer of 1955 the soil had not run together enough to become firm and rot straw which was bright yellow just as it had been when turned under one year earlier. Instead of soil turning upside down it just piled up in front of plow shears like a bulldozer blade. Talk about a scorcher. The summer of 1954 a record setter for heat, just the opposite of the extremely wet summer of 1951.
The summer of 1956 was a very good year for wheat. Wheat was yielding above average with unusual amounts of straw. That was the year of the tornado and fire on a Sunday afternoon during harvest (see the section "Grain Harvest", pp. 75-80).
The winter of 1948-49 dumped unusual amounts of snow in the Midwest. On two or more occasions we were snowed in several days before road crews opened the east/west road east of our house. It was probably January 1949, during the week the storm hit. It had started snowing by the time we got up. When we completed chores Daddy realized that he would need to saddle Old Silver so Darlene would not have to walk through the deep snow since she was small and in the first grade. He put Darlene and Dwain on Silver to ride the mile and half around the road to school while I walked cutting across the pasture. It sure was cold. That was one of the times I walked all the way backward rather than face that fierce north wind and snow.
After we were well on our way to school, our teacher, Miss Frye, called over the phone to inform us she was canceling school that day. Since we were the only kids she did not catch before starting to school and since she was rooming at Aunt Blanche's she walked to school to meet us. Although the school room was not very warm we still had a chance to warm up some before heading home. She put our hands in cold water to take some of the numbness and sting out of our fingers. Dwain walked home while Darlene and I rode Silver. Going south with the wind and snow was not real cold but when we reached the corner one mile south of school and headed east that half mile was a different story as snow was blowing across the road and drifts were over three feet deep in some places. Old Silver managed to get through the deep snow about one hundred yards with both of us on her when she refused to go any further as snow drifts were getting deeper the farther we went. At that point I got off and tried leading her through the drifts. The first two or three drifts I managed to lead, almost pulled her into drifts which required her to lunge to get her front feet high enough to start through a drift then have to lunge again and again to get through. After three or four drifts she refused to enter more drifts with me leading. At that point I did not know how we were going to get home. Finally I decided to get behind her, swat her rump with the end of the bridle line and put my shoulder against her left rump and push at the same time. Although she was still very hesitant to start into a drift it did work. We finally made it to the ditch south of the hog lot and west of the barn when Dwain arrived home and told Daddy we were coming. He came down the road to meet us, took Darlene to the house and I was able to lead Silver through the remaining shallower drifts. I have never figured out how Darlene managed to stay in the saddle on that old mare, who was over twenty years old, as she struggled to get through those deep drifts, as cold as her fingers must have been.
Later Daddy asked me why I didn't get over in Max Rotha's field and come along the road where the snow was not drifted. That thought had crossed my mind but I dismissed it as we were already past the gate into the field and no gate existed at the east end of the field to get out, as well as I had no idea drifts would get deeper as we reached the crest of the hill ahead of us. While struggling to get through those drifts I had not realized how dangerous the situation was. It was after I got in the house a few minutes later that I realized I had been responsible for my little sister's safety. That's when I became frightened and started shaking which was late since all three of us were safe and sound. I never want to get into a scary situation like that again. I will never forget that snowy Kansas day.
The snow was too deep to use a snow plow mounted on the front of a road grader so it required a bulldozer which shoved snow side to side. When the road was opened, snow was piled higher than the top of our car. It drifted to a level six feet deep for several hundred yards just west of Silver Creek. East of us Mr. Bair, Uncle Bill, and their sons opened that section of road with grain shovels.
When the east and west roads were blocked, the mailman could travel some on the north/south roads. He could get as far north as Webb's, one mile south and one and one-half miles west of us. Boss Powers walked the half mile to Webb's, picked up his mail, our mail, the Rothas', Weigles' and Steels. Daddy then walked the mile west and one mile south to get mail for the four families.
Sometimes when snow blocked the east/west road, we could get out to the north/south road one-half mile west by going through fields and pastures to the northwest corner of the farm.
Snow storms were always with a strong north wind which blocked east/west roads but which left north/south roads open. An exception was the storm that hit Thanksgiving eve in 1952. Our senior class at Burden High School had a play that evening. Shortly after the play started at 8:00 p.m. someone came in and said it was snowing and blowing. By the time the play was over, six to eight inches of snow were on the ground and drifting severely. We headed home by going straight west of Burden on the county road which was almost blocked several places. We managed to get one-and-a-quarter miles south of the county road and got stuck in a snow drift, which was unusual for a north/south road. Wind that night was unusual, blowing from the northwest and blocking almost all roads by the time the storm was over.
When we managed to get the Chevy out of the snow drift Daddy sent Dwain and I walking home in the blizzard the last one-and-a-quarter mile so we would be there to do chores the next day. Daddy, Mother, and Darlene managed to get back to Burden following a snow plow, to spend the night with Grandma and Mark Garrison.
The predictability of the weather (most of the time) enabled us to succeed without the benefit of a "weatherman."
In the spring of 1950 or 1951 weather was so dry that dirt blew out of wheat fields and drifted as much as eighteen inches deep in some east/west roads. Dust was so thick in the air that street lights came on in the middle of the afternoon and all classroom lights had to be turned on at school. It may have been that same spring that the Santa Fe freight train going through Burden set grass on fire both east and west of Burden. Fires occurred on different days. Some of the Burden High School guys were called out of afternoon classes to help fight the prairie fires. Our fire-fighting equipment was a wet gunny sack.
On a Tuesday in mid-May 1955, I finished all course work and finals at Arkansas City Junior College. The next day, Wednesday, I worked with Daddy all day on the grain drill, preparing it to plant milo. Weather that day was very warm, sunny with high cumulus clouds and a strong gusty wind from the south. Several times that day we both chased our straw hats. Since I had been studying hard all semester I decided to treat myself and go to a movie in Winfield that evening. The movie was in the old Opera House at 11th and Main (now Western Auto). Nearing the end of the movie one could tell a bad thunderstorm was in progress as movie sounds were drowned out by loud claps of thunder. When the movie was over it was raining hard and water was over curb-deep on sidewalks. Needless-to-say, without rain gear, I got very wet going across Main Street and one-half block to my car. Headed home, east on US 160, there seemed to be a constant display of lightning in my rear view mirror. We had several inches of rain that night.
The next morning we heard that Udall, a small town of about 500 people fifteen miles northwest of Winfield, had essentially been blown off the map by two tornados hitting the same area ten minutes apart. Ninety-two people were killed. Some drowned as some had taken cover in basements. When the town's water tower/tank had blown over and burst hitting the ground, it sent a wall of water into several houses. Many horror stories were related by National Guardsmen (cousin Melvin Ruggles was one) and others working to help. Like finding bodies in portions of trees still standing to having boards driven through bodies, which required sawing off the board close to both sides of their body prior to placing the injured in ambulances or cars to take them to hospitals. Marceil was a student nurse at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita. She was called back on duty to help care for the many injured brought into the hospital.
Kansas Highway 15 runs along the city's north edge, then turns north near the western edge of town. At the time of the tornado only one vacant house was on the north side of the highway near the turn in the highway. That old two-story house lost only a few shingles and the windmill near it sustained no damage, yet every structure just across the highway south was totally destroyed or sustained major damage.
Many people were missing so a call was put out to all those owning bulldozers or tractors with mounted scoops to come and more debris, because many injured were under piles of lumber. Alfred Barns of the Tisdale community was reluctant to help because he was afraid he would run over an injured person under the rubble. The second day he was pushing rubble with his dozer near the site of a former house when in an area he had just cleared, a large steel lid over a cistern raised and a family of four crawled out. They had been in several inches of water all that time. Alfred said he was glad that he had volunteered to help as he undoubtedly saved their lives.
Damage was so great that after everyone was accounted for, alive or dead, all debris was moved from the highway at the north edge of town, to the south of the former town, creating a huge rubble pile which burnt for several weeks. A drive through the city in March 1997 revealed only three houses which survived.
Our graduation exercises for Arkansas City Junior College and Arkansas City High School were two days later, Friday evening, at the Municipal Auditorium across the street from the Junior College. Marceil and I were dating at that time. In order for her to attend I went up to Wichita and got her. Both ways, going and returning, I went on Highway 15 through Udall. Approaching Udall from both directions I was stopped several times by highway patrolmen and asked my business on that road. I was instructed not to stop, but to keep going right on through town. To establish telephone communications again telephone lines were laid on the asphalt road surface of Highway 15, which meant cars were driving over them.
That evening at the commencement exercise all of us junior college students had been presented degrees or diplomas, and they had just started presenting diplomas to the high school graduates when a man came running onto the stage and yelled into the microphone that a tornado was headed toward Arkansas City. That full auditorium of several thousand emptied in a matter of a few seconds, leaving four high school students on stage wondering if they would receive their diplomas. We went to a cousin's house, Busse and his wife Gertrude Bowsers, to wait out the storm.
Apparently that sighted tornado did not touch down but those clouds produced high winds. When taking Marceil back to Wichita after the storm, we counted twelve cars off the road in ditches in that twelve miles between Arkansas City and Winfield. Trees in Winfield sustained major damage as tree limbs littered the streets. Reportedly children and some adults who survived the Udall tornado two nights before were frightened hysterically when that storm hit Winfield.
For several months after one would see cars on streets in Winfield without windows, headlights, taillights, dented terribly, and even with holes in the sheet metal fenders, hood, top, and trunk.
The following March, when on my way up a stair to the second floor to see our income tax prepare, I met a lady coming down the stairs who had many small sores on her face. The tax lady asked me if I had met the lady who just left, then said the lady was in the Udall tornado and that sand, dirt, and pieces of wood were working out from under her skin.
As a result of the two tornados, total destruction of Udall, it is the newest old town in Kansas.
Several small towns in that area built forty- to fifty-foot-high weather watch towers to enable residents to be warned. Udall residents had received no warning that night. Since that tornado, the Weather Bureau started issuing storm warnings, sometimes with only a few clouds sighted. With the advent of radar, weather forecasting has improved drastically over the last forty years. Hopefully no more Udall's.
I never missed three meals a day unless it was because of illness. By living on a farm we always had plenty of food to eat even though it may have been a lot of the same for short periods of time. We always had a large garden every summer, one in which we were required to work nearly every morning during summer months (except Sunday) -- which I hated.
Food we raised in our garden included lettuce, radishes, peas, onions, green beans, lima beans, lots of tomatoes, sweet corn, sweet potatoes, cabbage, cucumbers, and some summers watermelons and cantaloupe (although they never did very well because of hot dry weather), carrots, German peas, and Irish potatoes.
Daddy usually bought 100 pounds of potato seed. We then cut each potato into small pieces, each having two or three eyes, a task usually requiring a couple nights sitting around the stove by kerosene lamp light in the kitchen. March 17th or shortly thereafter we planted the potato seed. We usually waited a few days after cutting seed to give the cut surfaces a chance to heal or seal over. The first few years we planted potatoes Daddy used the single- row horse-drawn corn lister to open a furrow in which to drop the seeds. Later he used the two-row tractor-mounted lister. I always enjoyed dropping the seeds. We walked in the bottom of the lister furrow stepping heel to toe. Each time we took a step we dropped a potato seed at our toes which placed the seeds about a foot apart. Around the first of August it was time to dig the new potatoes, a job I always hated because it was back-breaking work and hot. To dig them Daddy used the same lister to open each row. It turned potatoes and dirt out both sides of the furrow and thus required one to dig in dirt on both sides to find the potatoes. We carried a bucket for potatoes down the row, then dumped them into a trailer or wagon. When they were all picked out of the field, they were then left on the wagon a day or so in shade so all the dirt would dry prior to placing them in the potato bins in the cellar. They were our potato supply for a full year.
Two other food plants requiring lots of preparation time were green beans and peas. They were both easy to plant in the spring but picking them and preparation for cooking involved considerable time. Beans had to be snapped by breaking the stem off and then breaking them into desired lengths. Peas had to be removed from pods which was a slow process until we started using the clothes wringer on the Maytag washing machine to pop peas out of the pod. Before placing the pod with peas in it in the wringer we placed them in hot water to soften the pod. Sometimes peas would fly several feet when the pod popped open. We built a cardboard shield over and around the wringer to confine flying peas as much as possible. That operation was performed on the east porch as we did laundry there prior to moving the chicken house and converting it to a wash house. When snapping beans and hulling peas by hand we worked in the shade of a tree.
Canning all our garden produce which we did not eat fresh was a very hot process because we cooked on a wood cook stove in the kitchen, which was the north room with east and west doors. Very little breeze came in those doors as it was usually blowing from the south.
Foods Mother did not can were Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, strawberries, radishes, lettuce, and onions. Onions were pulled with tops and tied around tops in bunches of approximately twenty, then hung on nails in the driveway of the barn to dry. Those still hanging by cold weather time were moved to the cellar.
Summers when we had more cabbage than we could use before it spoiled we got the big kraut cutter out of the cellar and cut up several two or three gallon crocks of cabbage. It then sat around in the kitchen and stunk for several days prior to canning. Every time we canned it too soon as it continued to ferment and build up so much pressure in those glass quart jars that we would hear a loud pop which told us another jar had broken and split open. Mother always threw the kraut away because she was afraid glass would get in it.
All the time we had the wood cook stove Mother would set a large pan or bucket of milk on the boiler several times a week to sour and clabber the milk to make cottage cheese. We usually had cottage cheese most evenings for supper. Sometimes she would mix crushed pineapple in the cheese which made it even more appetizing.
In late 1947 or early 1948 when Daddy bought a 500-gallon butane tank and put it underground southwest of the house the old wood cook stove was replaced with a new gas Roper range. Then milk to make cottage cheese was set over a pilot light to generate heat.
During the following summer Daddy bought a used butane refrigerator which would not freeze ice cubes during hot summer days. We were disappointed because we thought we would have plenty of ice for cold drinks. With the refrigerator we stopped putting milk, eggs, and cream down in the dug well east of the house and also stopped delivery of 50-100 pounds of chunk ice for the icebox.
With purchase of the butane tank and the stove and refrigerator we were living high. Our milk did not spoil during those very hot days and did not freeze in the pantry during cold winter months. It also required less wood from the woodpile which reduced time to cut down trees and saw them into stove length for the cook stove.
After removing the wood cook stove we discovered the kitchen was cold so Daddy bought a neat wood burning heating stove to sit where the cook stove had sat along the south wall of the kitchen. It was neat because of the twelve isinglass windows in the door which let one see flames dancing as wood burned. We usually kept a tea kettle of water on it to provide hot water and humidity.
Along the road each way from our house and several places north of the house in fence rows were sand plum bushes. Each produced a red colored plum slightly larger than a large grape. We usually picked two to three gallons of ripe plums which Mother made into delicious jelly and jam.
Mother always baked bread two or three times per week. She baked using "starter yeast" which was self-sustaining. Each time she baked, approximately one-half of the yeast, about one cup, was saved to generate more yeast for the next bake day. Sugar was added on top of it, then it set in an uncovered dish on the cabinet until use time. Some times it would be too hot for it during the summer which would kill the yeast. When that happened about once a summer, Mother obtained a new batch of starter yeast from one of the neighbor ladies. During cold winter months the yeast had to sit near or sometimes on a warm part of the stove to get it to grow.
Yeast was mixed with flour, then sat for several hours to rise to a desired consistency prior to baking during the afternoon. Most bake days small pieces of the dough were pulled off the large piece of dough after it has been kneaded and let rise for a second time. The small pieces were rolled between one's hands and placed in a greased pan. We enjoyed helping to roll the rolls which were baked fresh for supper. Besides fresh rolls Mother usually made cinnamon rolls which were for desert with fruit. Cinnamon rolls are still my favorite kind of roll. Sometimes we got to help make them by rolling the dough out with the rolling pin, then sprinkling sugar and cinnamon on it, and also eating some as well.
We always had fresh butter for our rolls and bread and used it liberally. A lot of work was involved in the process of making butter. First we milked cows morning and evening, every day of the year without exception. Next cream or butter fat was separated from the milk in two ways. Until mid to late 1940, we separated the two with our mechanical cream separator, which I now have in our family room. It was my job to turn the crank at the correct speed so the lighter cream would rise out of the milk. It usually took at least a minute or more to get the separator speed up to sixty revolutions per minute required for cream to be pulled from the milk by centrifugal force of the fast spinning discs.
We kept cream for making butter, Mother's coffee, and our breakfast cereal, then sold the rest in a five gallon cream can container, once a week. We usually delivered and sold it at Armour & Company in Winfield. Each farmed owned his own can which was numbered so the can owner received payment for the cream it contained and the can could be returned to its rightful owner. We dropped the cream off, then returned at least an hour later to pick up the can and receive payment for the cream.
Daddy decided to sell grade "C" milk in Arkansas City to a co-op which had a milk route to pick up milk every morning, in ten gallon cans. That released us from separating and gave us more time for farm work.
After we started selling whole milk Mother saved some in a large pan and skimmed cream off the top of the milk after it sat twelve to twenty-four hours. After the cream had sat for a day or so we churned it in the clear glass churn with a crank to turn the paddle in the cream. Sometimes when we had a small amount to churn we stirred it in a large bowl. Usually it took fifteen to thirty minutes. However, sometimes it seemed to take forever to get butter. Factors determining churn time were: temperature of the cream, it took longer to churn during summer months than winter, and age of the cream. Freshly separated cream would not churn. After all that churning one had two products in the churn, the butter and buttermilk. Buttermilk went to the chicken or hogs and the butter into a large bowl where it was folded over and over with a wood "butter paddle" to work all the buttermilk out. This final processing usually took another fifteen to twenty minutes. Butter was sure good after all that work. It was a job that I did not particularly like; however after we got a radio one could usually listen to it while churning the butter which seemed to make the churning go faster.
Although Mother was allergic to tomatoes we raised lots of them. Each year we set out approximately 100 plants which created several rows the length of that long garden. Plants were spindly and four inches tall when we set them in a small round hole punched with a pointed broken broom handle. Water was carried to the garden in five-gallon buckets, then a tin can of water was poured into each hole prior to packing dirt in the hole and over roots of the small plant. All those plants required many hours of diligent hoeing until large enough to smother out most weeds. Years they produced well we would pick as many as a bushel of tomatoes every other day for several weeks. Mother canned whole tomatoes, producing lots of juice, and made catsup. We had all the sliced tomatoes we could eat and always had plenty for threshing or baling crews plus neighbors, friends and relatives. Quite often we had a bread and tomato dish for supper. Mother usually canned at least 100 quarts of some type tomatoes. During cold winter nights we had tomato soup more often than any other kind of soup. Mother did put a small amount of tomato paste with her bowl of milk which did not affect her adversely.
Prior to Herbert and Margaret Pickens' installing the cold storage locker in Burden, Mother canned both beef and pork every time we butchered. Each winter we butchered a beef and two hogs which we had raised. Usually one hog was butchered late fall or early winter and the other late winter or early spring. We hung the animal halves in the smoke house for a few days prior to cutting them up for various uses.
Pork fat was cut into approximately one-inch squares. Early morning, a day or so after cutting up the pork, we built a fire under the large steel kettle by the wood pile to heat the fat which caused the grease to become liquid. That process took lots of wood and approximately eight hours of cooking and boiling. Until a considerable amount of grease ran out of the fat we stirred quite often to keep it from burning. Around 4:00 p.m. it had cooked enough so we pulled the burning wood from under the kettle and let it cool some before "rendering the lard." Rendering the lard included getting the lard press from the kitchen, attic, or cellar, washing it up, tying a white tea towel over the lard opening to filter all lard. We used the double-wash tub bench for the lard press. Lard was run into two or three heavy steel gallon containers with heavy lids. That process was the most fun of all as I thought it fun to turn the crank and squeeze grease from those pieces of fat, and chew on pieces of fatless lard called "crackling." Cracklings were also used in making lye soap which we usually made a few days later in the same big iron kettle.
Lard was used when making pie crust, frying chicken, and other meats and when canning pork and beef. When we canned meat, it was cooked, placed in a jar or crock, then hot liquid lard poured over it until the jar was full, the meat totally covered. That process did not require canning in a large pressure canner or hot bath canning.
Usually the evening after working up all the meat and chores were all done, supper was over, the sausage grinder was removed from the kitchen attic, cleaned in preparation for grinding sausage or hamburger. The grinder was mounted on a board approximately 3/4-inch thick, five inches wide, and four feet long. Each end of the board was placed on the seat of a kitchen chair. The person turning the crank sat on one end of the board and someone else on other end. That someone else was either Dwain or I until we were big enough to turn the crank which we thought was fun. Mother mixed spices for sausage, then sprinkled it over the meat strips prior to grinding. I do not recall Darlene helping with any of the processes of butchering although she must have helped in some way, or at least got in the way.
We continued butchering hogs several years after taking beef to the Burden locker for slaughtering and processing, primarily because of the hog's smaller size and lighter weight. Cost was also a factor.
During school days our first wake up call was about 6:15 a.m. Daddy had already done some chores and had come in for breakfast. It usually took more than one call for us to hit the cold floor. Mother always had breakfast ready by 6:30 a.m. Breakfast usually consisted of fried eggs, bacon or sausage, and biscuits with gravy. About once a week it was pancakes with eggs instead of biscuits. We never had waffles because Mother never had a waffle iron. Pancakes were approximately four inches in diameter. Some mornings I could eat up to 12 pancakes that size. They tasted best with lots of butter, home-made hot syrup, and a small amount of mustard.
Sometimes we had mush for supper with some always left over. Next morning we always had fried mush. Overnight the mush cooled and became firm which allowed Mother to cut it in strips about one-fourth inch thick, two inches wide and four inches long. She fried both sides of the strip, then served it hot. We either put syrup on it or ate it as bread with butter and jelly or just plain fried mush.
Our evening meal "supper" was usually fried potatoes, cottage cheese, fresh rolls or bread, tomatoes in season, and either chicken, pork or beef, plus beans, peas or corn. All evening meals included canned fruit, pie, cake, or cinnamon rolls. We always had milk for both breakfast and supper. On hot summer nights the five of us would drink one gallon of milk. Prior to the purchase of the refrigerator, milk was the only cool drink we had. It always tasted exceptionally good after it had been in a gallon Karo Syrup can in the water fifteen to twenty feet deep in the dug well just east of the house.
Breakfast was always the same time each morning including Sunday, as the cows had to be milked at the same time each morning. No sleeping in. Lunch was served at noon but supper time varied considerably. During school days and no field work, supper was after chores were all done, which was usually between 7:00 and 7:30 p.m. In the summer when we were working in the field supper was after 10:00 p.m. many nights.
Our garbage disposal was four legged animals -- our hogs. A two-and-one-half- gallon bucket was kept in the kitchen by the cabinet for any scraps of food, which were few because we kids were required to eat everything put on our plate, Mother and Daddy likewise. When we had spinach or liver it took a long time to eat everything that had been put on our plate.
All dishes, pots and pans were washed in the same dishpan of water. Even though dish soap was used to wash dishes hogs fought each other over trying to get some of the "slop" which we took to them every two or three days.
School lunches were always taken in a metal lunch box which contained two sandwiches (four full slices of homemade bread), some pieces of carrot, fresh tomatoes, radishes, or other fresh vegetable. Sandwiches were usually peanut butter and jelly or Spam (which I really got tired of). We usually had a dessert of four graham crackers with a chocolate or some other flavor filling or one-third of a Three Musketeer candy bar, and an apple or other fresh fruit. When we had an apple it was seldom eaten at lunch but was saved until we walked home from school and shined on our shirt or coat. We shined and shined to see who could make their apple shine the most.
Every wash day lunch was navy beans and cornbread. The reason we had beans was twofold. First, we were required to build a big fire in the cook stove to heat water in the copper boiler for wash water, which allowed the big pot of beans to sit on the back of the stove and still get enough heat to cook beans. Secondly, a cooking pot of beans did not require attention while one was doing laundry.
Daddy always liked molasses or sorghum with his cornbread. I now like cornbread best with molasses but not sorghum as it is too strong for me.
Food acquisition and preparation required a considerable amount of time. We probably averaged going to town about once a week for food supplies to process or supplement what we raised. If we ran out of some food item we did without until the next trip to town. We may not have had money for extra clothing or to attend many recreational activities or drive as new a car as several of the neighbors, but we never left the table hungry.
After Marceil and I were married and lived in the apartment at 806 College we practically lived on bananas. I was employed at Armour and Company, which was across the alley from Walnut Valley Grocery Company which threw away up to two 55 gallon steel barrels heaping full of greenish yellow bananas two or three times a week. They claimed that by the time the bananas were delivered to the grocery store and displayed they would be too ripe which would keep them from selling. All of the Armour employees helped themselves to all of the bananas they could eat plus extra for other family members. We had fresh bananas, banana pies, cakes, cookies, pudding, ice cream, and bananas fried and prepared in other ways.
A Mexican employee, Negretress, would not eat bananas as we got them from the barrels but took them home to ripen. He claimed a banana was not ripe until its peeling was black.
Marceil and I also ate a lot of hamburger as Shennman Meat Market sold it, four pounds for 88˘.
Marceil's cooking has improved since she made the first pie after we married. The crust of that first apple pie was so tough we could not cut it with a fork and knife. Enough related about food.
Water for drinking, cooking, and washing dishes was essential to every farm kitchen.
Prior to installing the electric pump and a pressurized water system in the summer of 1954, our water was carried into the house and stored in a two-and-one-half gallon galvanized bucket. It always sat on the cabinet in a convenient location for use in cooking or getting a drink. We always kept a dipper with a long handle in the bucket. When one wanted a drink he took the dipper by the handle with water in the cup portion and drank directly from it. Any undrunk water usually went back into the water bucket as we did not waste any water since it usually had to be pumped by hand. Water was dipped from the water bucket to fill the tea kettle which always sat on the stove for heating water. Hot water was used for a variety of things such as washing and rinsing dishes, cooking, and hot water for washing hands and taking baths.
The bucket never had any type of cover when we carried it from the outside pump back into the house or while it sat on the cabinet. Hence, dirt, bugs, and flies could get in the water and did sometimes. Usually we dipped the intruder out and used the water. During cold winter when the kitchen was not heated at night water would freeze the dipper in the bucket. If it could not be freed from the ice the bucket was then set on the cook stove to melt the ice.
During the hot summer months when the same water sat in the water bucket several hours during a very hot afternoon the water tasted like heated water since our house was not air-conditioned. It sure was great when I came home from plowing for Mr. Bair that extremely hot (temperature well over 100 degrees), late July 1954 evening about 6:30 p.m. to find for the first time cool running water in the kitchen. Water pumped by our first electric pump was cool because it was stored in a metal tank which was in a small concrete block insulated building built over the well. Thus ended the water bucket era at our house.
Clothes worn varied with age of the wearer, year, and time of the year. Prior to moving in with Grandma Lauppe in February 1941. Dwain and I wore a one-piece outer garment we called "union-alls" which were either blue or herring-bone color. They buttoned from crotch to neck in the front and had a flap across the seat that buttoned with three or four buttons at low back level. We always referred to the flap as the "trap door" which was hanging down quite often because "who cared if it was down," and it was very difficult to reach behind and button those buttons after going to the outhouse.
By the time we started first grade at Silver Creek we had blue denim bib overalls to wear every day except when attending church, a funeral, or a wedding. Those bib overalls were the attire of the day through the eighth grade. I would have liked to have had western-style jeans like some of the guys were wearing but they were too expensive.
During World War II, 1941-1945, new clothes were very, very scarce. Shelves in clothing stores were usually very bare. Many Saturdays we went to Winfield shopping only to find the same as the previous Saturday, no overalls that would fit, in any of the clothing stores, which included Penney's, Brown McDonald, Calverts, and Studys. Most of the time it was the same old story, "We had a few during the week but they are gone now." Winfield residents were buying them as fast as they came in. Since we could not get overalls very often we wore and wore the ones we had until they were thoroughly worn out, which was usually after the second patch was worn out that Mother had placed over the original first patch of worn-out knees.
Most of the war years and shortly afterwards I had only two pairs of overalls, one pair worn all five days to school during the week, without laundering, and the other pair worn evenings and weekends doing chores and farm work. School clothes and sometimes our work clothes were laundered Saturday mornings. When work clothes were washed on Saturday that required us to wear old worn out too small clothes until late in the day when work clothes were dry. The length of drying time depended on the weather as all clothes were dried on a wire clothes line north of the house.
I recall a few times when, probably six or seven years old, we had to stay in the house when our overalls were being washed because we did not have any other clothes to wear.
During the war when shirts and material was difficult to buy Mother made our shirts and boxer shorts underwear of print chicken feed sacks. We acquired the feed sacks from Mr. Carrier's feed store in Burden. When we bought feed we picked out the sack that had material we wanted Mother to make into a shirt or shorts. Mother made her everyday dresses and underpants from sacks. Daddy's shorts were made of the same material. However, he managed to get blue everyday work shirts. There must not have been as much demand for them in the stores as overalls. Our underwear was also made of white "Oxford Best" flour sacks. We got the flour sacks by going to Oxford's Flour Mill and purchasing fifteen to twenty, fifty-pound sacks of flour. The Oxford Best label and other information was printed on white paper which was glued to the sack so that once the paper was removed one had a plain white piece of material.
We did have one nice pair of slacks and usually a store bought shirt with a sports jacket or jacket with a zipper to wear to church and other dress-up occasions.
Our school and work socks were gray or brown check with a three to four inch white band at the top and white toe with a splash of red on the toe also. When heels or the toe of the sock had holes Mother darned them by stretching the hole over an electric light bulb. When she got behind in the darning we turned the sock upside down and wore them with the heel on top of our foot which was uncomfortable where the tongue of our high top shoes pressed against the excess heel folds on top of our feet. In the winter months we wore those socks with elastic garters to hold them up. In the summer we boys either went barefoot or wore shoes without socks.
When I outgrew clothes or shoes Dwain inherited them provided they were not totally worn out. He always complained about not getting new clothes, a complaint which was essentially true for several years since he was smaller than I and my clothes would fit him when they were too small for me.
One Saturday night in Winfield we were shopping for new dress pants for me, and maybe Dwain, in Calverts. A pair of dark colored slacks had been selected for me to try on and the legs pinned for length. As the lady clerk was starting to turn them up and pin for length I started to put my hands in the front pockets to see how deep they were. She saw me and said, rather gruffly, "Don't put your hands in the pockets." Later, after she had pinned the cuffs and I was about ready to remove the pants I thought it would not hurt now to put my hands in the pockets. Just as I put my hands in the pockets she yelled, "I told you not to put your hands in the pockets, can't you remember anything?" I had to wait until the first time I wore those slacks to investigate the pockets.
Shoes were always a problem as they were expensive and we either wore them out or "outgrew" them. Shoes were usually worn until worn out. However, I did outgrow two or three pairs which were passed on to Dwain. Those times I could wear a pair of shoes through eight months of our school year before they were too small. At least two summers I went without shoes until just prior to the start of school in early September.
By high school age we were wearing jeans, J.C. Penney's Big Mac, as Levis were still too expensive. Once Dwain and I started working for neighbors we had enough money to buy Levis. They were all button fly in those pre-zipper days for jeans. We wore them without belts, which proved to be embarrassing on occasion. While walking down halls in Burden High School, a guy you were meeting and passing to your left would suddenly reach out and hook his fingers in the fly of your jeans, and jerk all four buttons out of the button holes. One had to grab fast to keep the Levis jeans from dropping.
During extremely cold weather we wore long-arm and long-legged underwear referred to as "long handles" under two pairs of jeans or overalls. Jackets or coats were usually lined blue denim. Caps were usually red or blue and black with a band that would fold down from inside to cover our ears and the wider band which folded up and tied on top. It could be untied, pulled down over cheeks and tied under our chins which gave added cheek protection from those sharp north winds while doing chores or walking to school against the wind. We did not have any insulated coveralls or tightly woven material which turned the wind like present day cold weather clothing.
During the winter months Mother always wore a cotton print dress with above the knee tan heavy cotton socks, with one exception when she did wear a pair of baby blue coveralls. It must have been really cold for her to break down and wear coveralls. She probably should have worn them more as her skin was allergic to cold, which caused large itching blisters.
Darlene's attire when small was dresses and in the winter long cotton stockings. Mother also made her cotton print dresses from feed sacks. Mother even made her coats and hats.
Mother made all our clothes on an old "Domestic" treadle sewing machine. I lay on the floor many times and watched the big wheel with a round belt around its bottom portion going round and round and hearing the machine sound as it sewed. I never could make the wheel go as fast as Mother did.
As clothing became more plentiful and Dwain and I worked away from home we bought most of our clothes which brought us to the "modern age" of clothes.
Work on a farm is never finished. Livestock and poultry must be cared for twice every day, seven days a week, 365 days a year except leap year, which requires another day of work. Between chores mornings and evenings, ground must be worked for crops, crops harvested, feed prepared or purchased for animals, fence built or repaired, machinery and tractors maintained or repaired, house and farm buildings repaired, animals taken to market, telephone lines repaired, "trade off" farm work with neighbors, and even grocery shopping and preparing food for the family or threshing or hay baling crews.
During the winter months, September through mid-April, it was school from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., with approximately thirty minutes allowed to get to school and home again since we usually walked. My day started each morning at 6:15 with a "get up boys" yell upstairs from Daddy. Breakfast was ready by 6:30. Immediately following breakfast it was to the barn to milk. Daddy, Dwain, and I all milked at the same time. The most we ever milked was twelve cows at one time. Most of the time during World War II we separated the milk and sold cream and fed the skimmed milk to our hogs. After the war we sold whole milk to Co-op Creamery in Arkansas City. In approximately 1947, Daddy purchased a milking machine which would milk one cow at a time but could be moved to any one of the six cow stantions. It primarily became my duty to put it on a cow and move it to another when she was milked dry.
Prior to getting electricity in 1949 the milking machine vacuum pump was powered by a one-cylinder 1 1/3 horsepower air-cooled Briggs & Stratton engine. We converted to an electric motor which made it a lot quieter in the barn while milking.
Mornings during winter months, and especially during World War II when daylight savings time was used, and late at night we would take either one or two kerosene lanterns to the barn to milk and do other chores. The lanterns were hung on large spikes, possibly railroad spikes, protruding from the wall about five feet above the floor behind the cows. One lantern displaced some of the darkness behind the cows but it was still very dark in the feed bunk area in front of the cows.
During the war we ran a concrete floor and built new wood stanchions for six cows with a feed trough in front of the cows. Ground oats, corn or milo with some mixed high protein supplement was given each milking. Ground feed was stored in a granary bin at the north end of the hallway in front of the cows feed troughs and in front of the stalls for eight horses. Some summers we had to be careful when getting feed or walking down the hall because of an old bull snake which lived in that part of the barn. We did not kill it or move it out of the barn because it helped to control rats. Snakes do not damage buildings and waste feed like rats.
After a cow has been driven into the same stanchion three or four times they always go to the same one each time. Their feed trough was made of 1" x 12" pine lumber which was licked clean and smooth as glass in some places. Most cows are real gentle and will stand motionless as they are being milked. However, they all do not stand calmly as some insist on kicking with their hind legs while being milked. In that case we used metal hooks on their legs, connected with a chain, called "kickers." Milking is a sit-down job which can be relaxing and fun at times after one gets started milking. Prior to milking one must wash the cows udder and teats to keep milk as clean as possible.
I started milking at age six, the summer after we moved in with Grandma and prior to starting first grade. Daddy made sure I started with the most gentle easiest milking cow. I do not remember her name though we did have names for all milk cows. I seem to recall names of only two of all the different cows we milked over fifteen years of milking. The older cow was "Decky," which I referred to earlier. She was purchased as a very small calf at the auction following Grandpa Ruggles' death. She was a very gentle Jersey who always stood in the north stall. The other was several years younger and named "Four-O-Clock." She was part Brown Swiss and Jersey, which meant she was considerably larger than Decky. Likewise, she was purchased at an auction when Great Uncle Ambrose Smith sold out and moved to Winfield.
His farm was the most northeastern farm in Cowley County. Across the road north of his farm was Butler County and adjacent east was Chataqua County. The preceding spring lightning struck Uncle Ambrose's large farm barn at 1:00 a.m. and burnt it down. They, Uncle Ambrose and his two daughters Naomi and Helen, discovered the fire in time to move the livestock out of the barn. One old cow was due to deliver and did at 4:00 a.m. in the rain. Hence the name "four-o-clock" for the baby female calf. She was a hyper-sensitive calf and cow, who did not stay in a lot. As a grown cow she would jump fence like a deer. I have seen her put her nose against the top of a five foot high fence, back up one step, and jump over it. She was difficult to milk as we always had to use kickers on her and even had to fight her to get them on. Daddy finally sold her because of all the problems she caused.
One could have some fun while milking by hand by spraying milk on any person who happened to walk by, or spraying a stream of milk at cats who would sit on their hind legs and drink the stream of milk. One could also squirt milk into his own mouth which was especially good during extremely cold weather.
On occasion a cow would kick and spill a nearly full two-and-one-half or three-gallon bucket of milk, or would stick her foot in a bucket of milk. If her foot was not very dirty we went ahead and sold the milk, or if it were too dirty we fed it to the cats or poured it out. During the summer months this happened most often because of flies on the cows backs. When we failed to spray the cows backs as they came in the barn they would switch their tails continuously, hitting the milker in the face or knocking a hat off. Sometimes we put kickers on and put the main/hair of her tail under the kickers. Sometimes one could put the cow's tail between one's leg and the milk bucket which was held between the legs. Milk stools were home-made, either "T"-shaped, made of 2" x 4" lumber or some with three legs made of steel with a round steel seat.
The milk area was only heated or cooled from outside temperatures. It was especially cold during the winter months when the temperature dropped to zero degrees or lower and the north door was open with a strong north wind blowing. A slight amount of heat was made by the six cows, which helped when sitting between two of them while milking. During the summer months, especially when temperatures approaches 100 degrees or above, it was very hot sitting between two cows with both of them switching their tails at flies. Shortly after World War II a new kind of fly spray was available (DDT) which did a very good job controlling them for several years.
One usually had time to think about all sorts of things while milking unless carrying on a conversation with another milker. One very cold morning I was milking the south cow with the south barn door open so that I could look east toward the house. I was feeling disappointed and a little sorry for myself. For you see, this was Christmas morning, 1944. During the war financially times were hard for my parents. Many items were impossible to get or very scarce because of the war effort. Paper products were very scarce. Very few books were being published. We had already gotten our gifts from Santa and had our gift exchange before milking. That morning my total number of gifts was two and one-half. One was a black soft-covered Bible about 3" x 5" in size and about 2" thick printed on yellowish colored paper from Mother and Daddy and the other an 1896 silver dollar from Uncle Art Ablegaard. The half-gift was a cork gun game to shoot crows off a fence which had both Dwain and my name on it, also from our parents.
I had expected more gifts. Sitting there milking I saw one of nature's most beautiful sights. There was an extremely heavy frost that morning. I had not seen anything like it before and I have not seen anything like it since. A woven wire fence created an inner yard around the south side of the house. Most of the spaces between the wire was about four inches square with most of that space filled with long fingers of frost referred to as "hoar-frost." It was breathtakingly beautiful with the sun shining through those millions of sparking ice crystals on the fence.
I decided at that point the beautiful sight was my best Christmas present. Regretfully, the only thing I have left is the memory of the sunlit frosty fence and the Bible. The cork gun game lasted a few weeks before the gun broke. The Bible did not sell at a yard/garage sale after Marceil and I were married. I carried the 1896 silver dollar daily until August 1958 when crawling the infiltration course one night of Army basic training, with live tracer bullets flying a few inches above me, at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. That silver dollar had worn thin with the date worn off during those thirteen or fourteen years in my pockets.
Besides milking morning and night, my regular job was to feed and water the old hens and also gather eggs at night (evening). Usually the feed was kept in the small feed room at the west end of the long red clay tile building. One had to be on the lookout for rats in the feed sacks or bin. Several times bull snakes would be in the feed room after rats or even get in the egg nest and eat eggs. A couple of times I reached in the high nest for eggs but recoiled as I felt a snake instead.
During the cold winter months the hens were kept shut up all day which enabled them to stay warmer and as a result, lay more eggs. Other times they were shut in at night to keep skunks, opossums, and such from eating any of them. They were let out mornings a couple hours after sun-up to give coyotes time to stop roving. By being shut up all twenty-four hours a day during the winter we had an additional job about once a month -- clean chicken manure out of the chicken house. We carried it out a grain shovel at a time to the hayrack wagon or a manure spreader pulled close to the west door. For several years we used the hay rack, which required that manure had to be scattered in the field a shovel full at a time. We could head the team, Judy and Jane, toward the other end of the field and scoop manure as they walked. Later Daddy bought a manure spreader which speeded up unloading manure and made our job easier. Nearly every Saturday during winter months was spent, all or at least part of the day, cleaning manure from the chicken house, cattle barn, sheep or horse barns. That was a job I hated.
On Saturdays in the winter, when we were not hauling manure, we were cutting wood for the wood burning heating stove. Most of the wood cutting was done on the other farm, two miles west. It was an all-day job which included taking our lunch. On real cold days when we could not chop fast enough to keep warm we built a small fire. Feed and a feed box was also taken so we could feed the team of horses oats. Some nights we hauled wood home and other times we trimmed all day and stacked long limbs and trunks to be sawed, stove length, with the front mounted tractor saw. The saw was home-made, with a circular twenty-four inch blade, specifically for late 1930s John Deere "A" tractors. We used it on the 1937 "A" for many years. My job was to stand about a foot from the unshielded high speed rotating blade and throw the stove length wood into a pile or on a wagon, or later on the pickup truck.
Doctors think the high-pitched whine of the spinning saw blade damaged my ability to hear high pitched sounds now such as ladies voices, especially soprano singing. The saw blade probably was not the only thing causing hearing damage as a firecracker went off in my face, singeing my hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes and leaving me unable to hear much for a couple of hours. Also, when in the Army Reserve at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, during summer camp training in 1959, we fired the 155 mm howitzer thirty to forty times over a three-to-four-day period. Now I use a hearing aid to help pick up sounds that I miss. Good natural hearing is many times better than the artificial hearing.
Several summers we cut oats and barley with a machine called a grain binder. That required cutting the grain a few days before it was ripe. The grain binder cut the standing grain and wrapped twine around six to eight diameter group of straw, then kicked them onto a steel carrier. When the carrier had eight to ten bundles it was dropped to the ground which allowed the bundles to slide off the carrier's steel rods. Each cutting pass one dumped bundles in line with those on the ground so that when the field was cut it had several bundle rows across the field. Shortly after cutting, the bundles were picked up and set on their butts with grain up by shockers who put them in the shape of a tepee. Usually there were eight to twelve bundles to a shock. The grain ripened while in the shock. Depending on the size and weight of each bundle, a shocker would tuck one or two bundles under each arm and pick up four to six other bundles by the twine band and carry them to a shock site.
A few weeks later a threshing machine (sometimes referred to as a separator) was brought to the grain field to separate grain from stalks/straw, which was a procedure requiring quite a number of workers. One person was the operator, usually the owner of the threshing machine and tractor required to power it. The operation usually required four to eight bundle wagons to haul bundles from shocks to the threshing machine and usually four "pitchers" who pitched the bundles from the shock onto the bundle wagon; the bundle hauler placed bundles neatly and securely in rows from front to back of the wagon to get more on it and to make it easier to pitch them off and into the threshing machine. Two good fast "scoopers" were required to scoop grain from the grain wagon into the grain bin in the barn. At least one more was required which was usually a kid on a pony. It was the water boy's responsibility to take fresh well water to each of the "threshing crew" as they were called. Not only were men required, but three to six ladies prepared a large lunch for the "crew" plus themselves and the children too small to help with the threshing.
Threshing crews went from one farm to the next throughout the neighborhood including the ladies preparing lunches. The most typical lunch consisted of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, chicken gravy, fresh peas, beans or roasting ears, sliced tomatoes, and iced tea when ice was available. The crew washed for lunch at the house well pump. Usually two to four wash pans or buckets were provided. A lot of the guys rinsed soap off by another member pumping water over arms, neck, and sometimes head. It was also a way to cool off. Most farm houses could not accommodate a full crew of approximately twenty eating at the dining table at the same time so they ate in two shifts.
One summer Daddy had a custom thresher, Wilbur Southard, to thresh oats. He was to pull in with his machine mid-afternoon. Dwain and I waited impatiently and finally late afternoon we finally heard and saw him come over the hill one-half mile east of our house. It seemed like he would never arrive. Since it was so late he parked in the yard by the shop for the night. His tractor was one of the big Rumbley oil pull two-cylinder machines with top speed of approximately three miles per hour. The next morning Wilbur spent a lot of time reaching over his head to hook the long bar in notches of the large engine flywheel and pulling down with all his weight trying to start the engine. Finally he gave up and got Daddy to go out in the field north of the house and get our 1937 John Deere "A" tractor to start the Rumbley, which proved to be quite a task. The John Deere would not have had enough power to pull the big all steel wheeled Rumbley so they used the threshing machine belt on belt pulleys of both tractors. The John Deere's belt pulley was mounted on the end of its two-cylinder crankshaft, which did not provide any gearing for smoothness or extra power which also was true for the Rumbley. The belt would not stay on the pulleys. When one of the cylinders would fire it gave a big burst of power and speed which caused the large belt to slip, then jump off a pulley. Finally they got it started after approximately an hour. My job was to pick the belt up after it had jumped off, cross it so the Rumbley engine would be turning in the correct direction, and put the belt back on one of the belt pulleys.
I do not remember whether it was that same threshing time or a summer before or after that I got in trouble for not doing my job in a timely fashion. My job was "water boy" that summer and each summer we threshed. It consisted of taking fresh water to all the hot, hard working threshing crew on a regular time schedule. Each worker removed the jug cork and drank directly from the jug. No concern about germs. I rode our saddle horse, Silver, carrying two one-gallon glass jugs wrapped with a burlap sack and a small rope through the jug handles so as to hang one on each side of the saddle horn. In the process of filling the jugs with fresh well water plenty was pumped over the burlap to help keep the water cool while I was making rounds in the hot fields. One very hot afternoon, after filling the jugs with fresh water, I went into the house to cool off and listen to some of the game of my favorite baseball team, the St. Louis Cardinals. At that time the St. Louis Cardinals were the only major league baseball team west of the Mississippi River and all games were played during the afternoon. Time flew by faster than I realized for the next thing I knew Daddy came in the house very upset that I was not out in the field with fresh cool water for those hot workers. He gave me a hard swat on the rear as he followed me out of the house. When I got to each worker he wanted to know where I had been and they thought they would die without water before I got to them. They made me feel bad so their water was always on time after that.
One summer it was going to be a long time before the threshing machine could get to our farm so bundles were picked up as when we threshed and placed in huge stacks twelve to fifteen feet in diameter and the same height. Our neighbor, Max Rotha, who lived one-half mile west, was the stacker. Dwain and I, and possibly Jack and Bill Harris, were riding on Lavere Harris' wagon. At one point when the wagon was about full of bundles, when they were stacked higher than the six foot high rack at the rear of the wagon, one of the guys fell off. Dwain was standing at the very back of the wagon on top of the bundles facing forward when the horse team started forward and off Dwain went backwards. Apparently the backward nine to ten foot fall did not hurt him as he got up and ran after the wagon. A few weeks later the threshing machine pulled between the two large bundle stacks and threshed grain.
Grandpa Lauppe owned his own threshing machine and did custom threshing. His power source for the threshing machine was the Twin City tractor parked south of the barn that we used to play on and the one traded in on the 1937 John Deere "A." Apparently his machine was one of the smaller threshers with a twenty-eight inch cylinder for knocking grain out of the head. It had been used only one season when Grandpa bought it as the original owner had traded it in on one of those newfangled machines called a "combine." Prior to owning his own machine Grandpa had run a large thirty-six inch threshing machine powered by a large steam-powered tractor for the Millers, Carl, Perry, and Reuben. When running it he would leave home about 4:30 a.m. in order to arrive at the threshing site and build a fire in the steam engine to produce steam, grease the thresher and be ready for threshing when the crews arrived.
The bundle haulers were required to pitch bundles from their wagon onto the bundled feeder head first. They needed to pitch bundles in at the correct rate for if too many bundles went into the machine too fast it would either clog the cylinder, throw the main drive belt off pulleys between the tractor and thresher, or kill the tractor engine. If fed in too slow, it would take longer to complete the threshing. Apparently one time Grandpa Lauppe forgot to remove a tarp he had been transporting at the rear of the thresher in the straw blower assembly which totally clogged the machine with straw and required a considerable time to clear.
Life on the farm is never dull; yet most things to be done are routine day in and day out, seven days a week, every day of the year.
Caring for animals is the most routine. We cared for cattle, hogs, sheep, horses, chickens, turkeys, and other fowl from time to time. Our day started at 6:15 a.m. when Daddy called up the stairs for us to get up, after he had been out and done some chores. Dressed and down stairs we were instructed to wash our hands and face and comb our hair. I never could understand why it was necessary to comb hair so soon after getting up, although Daddy always had his combed prior to starting chores. I asked one morning why he always combed his hair first. He said it was to "keep from scaring the cows and pigs."
Breakfast, which usually consisted of biscuits and gravy, fried eggs, bacon or sausage, and milk, was always ready. About every ten days we had pancakes, never waffles because of no waffle iron. My first recollection of eating waffles was prior to moving from the Tisdale community. It was after Bud and Geneva Thompson moved from the Atlanta area to her mother's farm (Aunt Etta's) one-half mile west and about three-quarters of a mile west of our house on the south side of the road, across from Vernon Brothers. We were invited for "supper" by the Thompsons on a rather cold winter night. Getting to their house presented some difficulty as a large mud hole existed in the road between Stover's and Thompson's house. That old 1935 Chevy about got stuck going to their house but we had no problem going home as the mud was frozen enough to drive on top of it. It was rare that we went out at night unless it was to one of the pitch parties. In fact, the only other time I recall other than pitch was that Saturday night we went to Winfield and the pitch group had the surprise party at our house.
Immediately after breakfast it was to the barn to milk. We milked up to twelve cows each morning for several years. Most of the time three of us milked which usually required at least one hour. Around 1947 Daddy purchased a one-and-a-half-horsepower Briggs and Stratton gasoline-powered McCormick Deering milking machine, which would milk one cow at a time. It cut our milking time some, especially when all three of us continued to milk. It became my responsibility to operate the milker. After we got electricity in 1949 an electric motor replaced the gasoline engine which ran the vacuum pump. It sure was quieter milking then. Following milking was feeding the calves, who were fed milk from a bucket. Next for me was watering and feeding the chickens. During the school year those were usually the only chores I had time for prior to getting ready for school. To make it to school by 9:00 a.m. we tried to leave home by 8:30 a.m. During eight years of attendance at Silver Creek school I was tardy two or three times. Many times the warning bell rang at 8:55 while we were still a quarter of a mile from school. Most times by running faster we made it by 9:00 a.m.
School was out at 4:00 p.m., so if we did not play too much on the way home from school, we were home by 4:30 p.m. First we changed clothes, then found something for a snack, if possible, such as an apple, orange, plum, raisins, marshmallows, or cinnamon rolls. Then it was off to feed and water chickens and gather eggs, and next, to pump and carry water to the sheep. If the milk cows had not come in from the pasture it required someone to go to the pasture and drive them in so we could milk. When we still separated cream from milk and sold cream and fed all milk to the hogs, cranking the separator was my next chore. In winter months it required putting hay out for the cattle at night. That required crawling up on the baled hay in the big hay barn, removing wire or twine from around a bale of alfalfa, brome grass, or native prairie grass, and throwing two to four bales of loose hay down into the manger, all done in the darkness since we could not use kerosene lanterns.
On extremely cold nights all milk cows were confined in the large open area of the hay barn. They gave more milk when not exposed to extreme cold.
Horses. We had two working teams of horses (two horses to a team) up to the time Daddy bought a second tractor, which was the summer of 1952. He bought a second John Deere 1947 Model "A" at an auction north of Burden a short time before the Burden Fair. I was surprised to find a second John Deere Model "A" in our yard when I arrived home from the Burden Fairgrounds where the senior guys were constructing a steel senior concession stand for use at the Burden Fair. Sonya and Dale Anders bought that tractor from Daddy in 1992.
We were forced to use horses as Daddy did not have enough tractor-drawn equipment to do all the farming operations.
Second, we had one and later two saddle ponies which we used primarily for pleasure but also used to drive cattle and ride to neighbors on occasion for business purposes. One morning while bridling "Old Silver" in the south hog lot where we pastured her some, she stepped on the top of my right foot. In fact she more than stepped, she stomped, like horses do when manure is getting hot in their feet.
I had a very painful foot and had difficulty walking on it for several weeks. I never did go to the doctor to have it checked. It continued to pain me periodically for several years, and even now the right boot fits tighter across the top of my foot by evening time.
Livestock Water. One of the most important duties on a farm is providing fresh water every day to the variety of animals. It makes no difference whether it is the hottest or coldest day of the year; water must be provided daily. Water for the animals was a real challenge at times, especially when the wind was not strong enough to drive the windmills.
Water for cattle, horses, and hogs was usually pumped by the windmill over the eighteen-foot-deep dug well in the draw west of the barns. It was usually during the summer months that the wind did not blow strong enough to get to the windmill. During the summer months the wind is usually blowing from the south. South of the windmill, in the south hog lot, were several huge old cottonwood trees which blocked most of the southerly wind from the windmill. It was during those windless times that we were forced to pump water by hand. Many times on a hot summer day when cattle were especially thirsty I have stood at the pump raising and lowering the pump handle over two hours nonstop in an effort to provide enough water in the tanks until the next day in hopes the wind would be strong enough to turn the windmill.
Cattle, horses, and hogs were all watered from the same well and tanks. The north edge of the hog lot was about twenty feet south of the stock tanks with a pitcher pump at the hog shed connected to the south stock tank by a buried water line. When the pump worked it saved a lot of time and energy carrying many five-gallon buckets of water from the stock tanks to hogs. During the winter months the pitcher pump could not be used because of a frozen water line from tank to pump.
Water from the well was pumped into the north stock tank. Another larger tank sat against it to the south. Water from the north tank was transferred to the south tank by a "U"-shaped pipe hung over the top edges of both tanks and protruded in water close to the bottom of the tanks which kept the water level the same in both tanks. During the winter months pipe from the pump could be moved to the south tank. In extremely cold weather we chopped holes with an axe in the ice in the stock tanks so livestock could drink. If tanks were full of water and ice then it required chopping ice into chunks, throwing them out on the ground which then provided space for fresh warm well water which the cattle preferred. About the time I was ready to leave home Daddy borrowed a home-made submergible wood-burning tank water heater from Uncle Glenn Miller. It was made of a three-foot section of approximately fourteen-inch diameter steel pipe with one end capped for the bottom and a smoke stack and lid on the top end. It was never very efficient because most of the heat was lost through the top.
At the time of great-grandfather's death in 1942, goldfish from his fish pond were placed in the stock tanks where they, or descendants, lived for at least forty years feeding on bits of grain, etc., dropping from the cows mouths.
The size of our chicken flock and the weather determined the amount of water I pumped and carried to them each day. Most days five gallons were adequate, but in extremely hot or cold weather more was required. The reason for requiring more on very cold days was water would freeze in the water tank/trough. Ice had to be dumped for fresh water. The same was true for all livestock except that they required a lot more water than chicken and turkeys. Most of the time water for chickens, turkeys, and sheep had to be hand-pumped from the well at the house. Prior to the late 1940s we did not have a windmill over the pump near the house. Even after the windmill was installed, often there was not enough wind to turn it. After Dwain and I were old enough and strong enough we carried water to the chickens, turkeys, and sheep in two five-gallon buckets at the same time.
The windmill at the house was replaced by an electric pump in July 1954. On hot summer evenings it usually required one to pump and make four trips with two five-gallon buckets of water to the sheep water troughs fashioned out of half of an old water heater. After the electric pump was installed an underground water line was installed to the sheep lot and proved a back and time-saver. Every minute saved every day was a welcome relief from watering.
Our water supply for the house was pumped from a one hundred thirty foot deep drilled well approximately thirty feet northwest of the house. A hand-dug well lined with native stone was about twelve feet east of the east kitchen door. It was approximately twenty feet to water in it but we never used water from it for drinking or cooking. Instead we used it for refrigeration each summer until 1947 when Daddy had a 500 gallon butane tank buried in the front yard and we bought a Servel gas refrigerator. Each summer morning after milking we filled a gallon metal Karo syrup can and lowered it into the well water. Usually butter and sometimes eggs were also lowered in the well water to keep them from spoiling. Some evenings on a very hot day by 10:00 p.m. (supper time) our milk would taste sour.
Later, during World War II, Daddy bought an old salt brine red wood tank out of the Texaco oil field two miles north of us. He had someone from Burden convert good lumber from the large tank into a-six foot-diameter six-foot-deep tank so we would have running water in the house. It was mounted eight feet high just east of the smoke house and straight north of the west side of the house kitchen. Part of the steel base for the tank to sit on was constructed of a steel rim, used to bolt steel lugs to the 1937 John Deere tractor. Daddy had replaced steel lugs with rubber tires a few years earlier.
During remodeling the pantry just west off the kitchen -- originally a porch -- was built into a part of the new kitchen. At that time a single cast-iron sink was installed with a single water faucet connected to the open elevated water tank. At the same time Daddy erected a windmill over the well, northwest of the house, to pump water up into the new tank. So when the wind blew during the summer months we actually had cold running water in the house.
Most of the time water from the tank was usable. However, there were times when birds drowned in the tank and we were forced to drain the tank and get down in it for cleaning. That was our running water supply until July 1954 when Daddy built a small concrete block pump house over the well, took down the windmill and installed an electric pump with pressure tank which supplied running water year round to the kitchen. About eight to ten years later Daddy built a bathroom in part of the living room, enclosed the west porch, and installed a hot water heater for the first time.
I mentioned remodeling which included a bathroom for the first time. Grandmother Lauppe-Garrison, owner of the house, was upset that Daddy wanted to enclose the west porch and then convert part of the living room to a bath area. Her father, my Great-Grandfather Harris, had built the house. Apparently he built it to keep Grandma and Grandpa Lauppe from moving to Meade County, where Aunt Etta and Uncle Alta were homesteading. Aunt Etta was Grandma's sister and Uncle Alta was Grandpa's brother. One day when Grandma was visiting Daddy about the time remodeling was completed she said, "I don't understand why your Dad wanted to change this house. Dad built it for me in 1913 and it worked fine the way it was for over fifty years." Grandma would have been in her eighties at that time.
Taking a bath, especially during the winter, was a dreaded time. Besides not liking to take baths, it was usually too cool in the house to be comfortable when bathing. Several winters we only heated the kitchen. Prior to installing propane gas to cook with in 1947, the kitchen was heated with the wood cook stove, then later with a wood heating stove Daddy bought from Uncle Winn and Aunt Maggie Oldham, which had twelve isinglass windows in the large front door. Those windows permitted one to see the beautiful dancing flames.
Whether we needed it or not, every Saturday night just prior to bedtime we were compelled to take a sponge bath behind the stove, which was between the stove and wall. One was forced to be very careful not to touch the very hot stove. I was always embarrassed even though Mother and Daddy, sitting on the other side of the kitchen reading, promised not to look. Baths were always "sponge type" with a wash cloth and a small amount of water in a porcelain wash pan.
During the spring and fall months, when it was not very cold, our baths were taken in our bedroom. Hot summer days afforded us a treat for baths, usually late morning or at noon, we would pump one of the laundry wash tubs about two-thirds full of water and sit it in the sun to warm. It was still nice and warm about 10:30 p.m. when we got ready to take baths, either at the west end of the sidewalk west of the house or on the concrete slab east of the house. The disadvantage to the sidewalk west of the house was it was more scary being so far from the house where no light could get to the bath site. It sure was dark on a moonless night and particularly scary when coyotes were howling or screech and hoot owls were hooting and screeching.
Sometime after the smokehouse was moved from east of the house to its present location near the well, northwest of the house, an old cast-iron bathtub with lion's feet was plumbed so water could be drained from it outside of the building. Butane was run into the smoke house and a two-burner stove was installed to heat water in the copper boiler for baths and for laundry. Of course, the only time we could take a bath in the bathtub in the smokehouse was during warm weather.
Each evening after combining oats we headed for Silver Creek with soap to wash off itchy oats dust.
Even though we had a tractor to do some farming we also did a lot of the farming with horses or mules for several years. I am sure farming with horses was because of economic reasons.
Daddy and Grandpa Lauppe had together bought a used 1937 John Deere "A" model tractor. Prior to its delivery by the Winfield John Deere dealer Grandpa Lauppe died. Since Grandpa's old Twin City tractor had not run for years he, as well as Daddy, had been doing all the farming with horses. Hence, all machinery was horse drawn. Some of the implements were converted to tractor drawn by taking the tongue off and manufacturing a tractor hitch.
World War II started after we moved in with Grandma the following December 7, 1941, and after getting the tractor. The war practically stopped production of all new farm equipment. Used farm equipment was very scarce and sold for very high prices. The federal government set a ceiling sales price on each type of equipment. Some farmers would sell on the "black market" by keeping the sale quiet and selling above ceiling price. So, under these conditions we did a considerable amount of farming with horses.
We had two old mares, Judy and Jane, which were very gentle and the ones I worked most. They both responded to voice commands such as "Get up" and they would move forward without being hit by a whip or lines or when one wanted to stop. They stopped to "Whoa" and would move sideways to a command of "over." Judy was slightly larger than Jane and was also broken to ride. We did not use a saddle on her but instead rode her bareback or when she was harnessed.
I spent a lot of days behind those old mares cultivating corn or kaffercorn, on a single-row cultivator, mowing hay with the six-foot mower, or racking hay with the dump rake, plus many other farm duties requiring the use of horses.
One June day, after a lot of rain during May and June, I came in from field work and rode Judy and led Jane to the stock tank for water. After drinking they were always in a hurry to get to the barn for their oats. Judy was galloping when about halfway to the barn a chicken ran in front of her. She shied to the right unexpectedly and off I went on her left side. On my way down I saw what I was headed for. My face landed in the center of a large fresh soft pile of cow manure. My face not only hit in it but I slid through it coating my bare chest as well. Needles-to-say, I was a stinking mess. When I went to the house to clean up I thought Mother would die laughing as I had never heard her laugh so hard.
Either Judy or Jane had two male colts about a year apart. One we named Prince, the other Albert. We were breaking them to work with Daddy working them most of the time. He thought they were gentle enough for me to work so sent me to the north pasture to mow weeds when I was twelve years old, while he was plowing corn with the tractor in an adjacent field to the east. After mowing about an hour I dropped one of the lines and hollered "Whoa" for them to stop so I could pick up the line. Instead of stopping, as the old mares would have, they continued to walk. After yelling three or four times they must have sensed I did not have control and turned and headed for the barn on a run. I then attempted to reach the dropped line which was at my feet.
I just about had a hold of the line several times but each time their running and lunging would pull it just out of my reach. I was concentrating on getting the dropped line and was not watching where we were headed. The next thing I knew I was lying face down in the south pasture and the team was across the pasture and heading down the cattle lane. I got up and staggered about twenty feet to the fence between the pasture and field, getting to the fence before fainting with my feet on one side of the fence and my head on the other. Daddy was at the east end of the field headed west and saw the whole thing but could do nothing. By the time he got to the west end and me I had come to. The team was headed toward the barn when I did not control them any with the lines. As we started through the gate between the pastures, the very outer end of the sickle bar hit the west gate post throwing the tongue against the colts legs on the right, and broke the tongue out of the mowing machine. That freed the colts and threw me head first forward on grass, skinning my forehead, left side of my face, left shoulder, and bare chest. The colts tore up harness, fence, and gates on their way to the barn.
My face was skinned so badly that I could not go swimming at the annual 4-H picnic in Winfield a few days later, which was a big disappointment as we seldom got to swim and swimming was free to all 4-H members.
Our saddle horses consisted primarily of an old saddle mare named "Silver." We called her "Old Silver" as her name was very fitting for she looked silverish in bright sunlight. One Sunday afternoon, not too long after we moved in with Grandma Lauppe, we went one-and-half miles east of Burden, I think, on the north side of the road, where the Snyders live now, to look at her. We were so excited with the prospect of getting a pony that it seemed we would never get there. She was very gentle when we rode her around their yard, as are most ten to fifteen year old mares. Daddy bought her that day although we did not take her home with us. Daddy brought her home later while we were in school. She had one colt, named "Ginger" which was broken to ride, prior to Old Silver's death when she was over twenty years of age.
Old Silver was very gentle and could be mounted from either side or from the rear when we ran up behind and put our hands on her rump and landed on her back. During the summer months we had her in the small grass field east of the house. She did not like to be caught so would run all over the pasture trying to avoid us. Sometimes it took as much as twenty minutes to catch her. Very disgusting and annoying.
We had two saddle ponies for several years. Old Silver was the favorite saddle pony for many riders, including cousins Charolette and Barbara Riggs, Marjorie Moore, Jack and Bill Harris, and Uncle Art Ablegaard's grandson. Every time Marjorie visited from Ottawa, Illinois, or Charolette and Barbara from Denver, we saddled her many times. Dwain was paid 25˘ or 50˘ for taking Uncle Art's grandson a ride on Old Silver when we had family dinners at our house.
Several summers Daddy rented Uncle Jake's pasture, which was five miles from home, for thirty- to thirty-five head of cattle and calves. We drove them to and from the pasture. Since we did not have enough saddle ponies we always borrowed a couple from Uncle Bill. One was part Shetland named "Tony," which I usually rode. One fall driving cattle back home we were about a quarter of a mile east of Uncle Jake's pasture when I got off Tony for some reason. I was at the edge of the bar ditch when I started to get back on him. Being used to Old Silver I started to get on his right side, which was the wrong side for mounting. Just as I was throwing my left leg over his back he bucked and off I went, landing in a large patch of prickly pear cactus. I spent the next few days trying to get all the cactus out. I always mounted him on the left side after that thorny lesson.
Dwain and I had wanted a bicycle for a long time but the war was on and new bicycles were not produced and we could not have afforded one anyway. Near the war's end Cousin Geneva Thompson sold us her son's (Gerald Thompson) old used bicycle. He was in the Army fighting in the Philippines and could not ride it anyway. It had bad tires so in order to ride it we put an old worn out tire over the front tire to protect the tube which protruded through the tire mounted on the rim.
We sometimes fought over who was going to ride it. One summer afternoon we went a mile west to play with Jerry Weigle. I got to ride the bicycle to Weigle's and Dwain rode Old Silver. When it was time to go home Dwain jumped on the old bicycle and said, "I'll beat you home." Old Silver was in the barn south of their house with her bridle off and a halter on. This required me to go to the barn, remove her halter, put on the bridle, get her out of the barn and mount before I could start home, which I did. As we came galloping down their graveled drive, which ran just east of the house, it happened. Just as we got even with the porch their black cocker spaniel darted off the porch which caused Old Silver to shy right and off I went with my left arm and elbow landing in the loose gravel between wheel tracks skinning my forearm and elbow to the extent that hair never did grow back. Since I was without shirt my chest sustained major skinning again and gravel was imbedded under my skin and my left hip bone which took several months for it to all work out. Needless-to- say, Dwain beat me home since Old Silver went on home and I walked home.
Cousins Maurice and Melvin Ruggles were always making something out of old machine parts and lumber. One time I was down playing at their place and Melvin and I were riding on a two-wheeled cart they had made from thirty-inch cultivator wheels pulled by a single horse. I was riding on the right side over the right wheel when it hit one of the many loose six inch rocks in the barn yard. The sudden stop pitched me forward, landing on my back under the horse's feet. All I saw for a little bit was the horse's feet. Fortunately she did not step on me but when I hit the ground my knees were against my chest which allowed that right cart wheel to run over my upper legs as it passed over me. I was sore for a few days with no serious injury.
We had a team of mules named "Jack" and "Joker" who were big and black. They were always fighting each other by biting, kicking, or shoving when in their barn stall. Daddy was constantly repairing the barn stall because of their fighting, which none of the horses did.
I did not work them very often since Daddy sold them before I was old enough to control them. They were strong and could do a lot of work when they wanted; otherwise they would slow down or it was hard to get them started or to pull together when the load was stuck or extremely heavy.
Max Rotha related several times his experiences he had with one of his mules. It seems as though his mule would start running about every day he was worked with no way to control him, which tore up farm machinery, harnesses, fences, and crops. One particular day Max was helping thresh grain more than a mile east of his house. He was on his way home with just slightly over one mile to go and was thinking he would get through the day without a runaway when the mule started running. Max said, "I decided once and for all I would break that mule from running." So he detoured one mile north which required three miles of travel rather than one to reach home. Every time the mule would start to slow down he got popped with the switch, which kept him running slightly over three miles. He ran away the very next morning going to work. To get rid of the mule he sold it to the Army during World War I. He often wondered how soldiers and that old mule got along.
One night at the Silver Creek social Maurice Ruggles was acting funny and saying the craziest things and sounded about like he was drunk. On his way home from school earlier that day, guys riding horses were racing. He was riding Tony when the saddle girt broke and let him, and the saddle, fall off on his head.
Eugene Bair, who lived a mile east of us on Silver Creek, sustained a broken leg when the horse he was riding fell on his leg.
It's a wonder more people did not receive more serious injuries from horses.
During the war when gasoline was rationed we went to Burden and up to Uncle Jake and Aunt Jen's several times in the buggy, a trip which I always enjoyed because it gave one time to observe birds, animals, and plants along the road. The buggy was a nice single seater with genuine leather upholstery and a leather dash with a round wood whip holder on its right side. The driver always sat to the right side of the buggy. Daddy kept it in the north side of the big hay barn with the old spring wagon until about the mid-sixties when he moved it out and parked it under the trees in the shelter belt that caused it to rot away fast.
Around 1980 Daddy sold the spring wagon and some harnesses to a McClure, east of Cambridge, who had oxen and horse teams.
We raised a variety of fowl including ducks, geese, banty chickens, regular size chickens, and turkeys. Chickens and turkeys were for economic reasons, the others more or less for novelty.
Usually in February baby chickens, one to three days old, were purchased from one of the two hatcheries in Winfield or from a mail order house. One time the mailman delivered two large boxes of chirping chicks. Another time we picked them up at the Santa Fe passenger depot in Winfield. We put the baby chicks in a wood frame building about 12 feet by 16 feet called a "brooder house" with a dirt floor. Prior to getting the chicks we cleaned the brooder house thoroughly, including the top two inches or so of the dirt floor. We then hauled in fresh clean dirt from a field or from under a hedge row for a new dirt floor. The building was heated either by wood or kerosene stove. The wood heater consisted of a fifty-five-gallon barrel set into the ground about two feet with its side cut out to form a door. It was set in the ground about three feet east of the building with a steel six-inch pipe connected to one end and running just below ground surface all the way across the brooder house and connected to a chimney on the west end. Heat radiated from the dirt floor where the baby chicks would stand when cold. Also prior to the purchase of the baby chicks the interior walls of the brooder house were sprayed for lice.
Later, the other method of keeping chicks warm was a small kerosene stove with a metal shell or hood about six feet in diameter at the base, with the base about six inches off the ground. Heat from the stove, under the hood, was reflected down on the chicks.
During the daylight hours we let the adult chickens run in the yards to eat bugs and grain which spilled from wagons and weed seeds. It was my part of the evening chores to feed the chickens and gather eggs and close all chicken house doors every night after dark.
We always waited until dark as some chickens scratched for food until dark before going into the chicken houses to roost. I did not mind closing the big chicken house northeast of the house because I could see the lights in our house. It was a different story with the chicken houses north of and behind the sheep and cattle sheds. After closing the doors I always ran as fast as possible in the dark toward the house. I was afraid of the dark. It is difficult to run in the dark when the ground is uneven. When one steps on higher or lower ground it is a total surprise and usually causes one to lose one's balance and fall, which occurred several times, along with many near falls.
One night I approached the chicken/brooder house from the windmill. After shutting the doors I started running as usual but suddenly found myself flat on my back as I started through the gate at the east end of the sheep shed. I had forgotten the four foot high woven wire gate was closed. Another night I did not start ducking soon enough to get under the clothes line north of the house and about cut my throat, which flattened me again.
Several summers we dressed and sold frying size chicken for $1.25 apiece to those who put them in the "locker." The locker was a large cold storage room (zero Fahrenheit degrees) with rows of metal drawers about twenty-four inches square and about thirty inches deep. Herbert and Margaret Pickens ran the locker in Burden.
Those summers we sold fryers for $1.00 a piece on foot or $1.25 dressed required extra work. When buyers wanted them dressed it required chopping heads off lots of chickens the same day, then dipping them in hot water to loosen feathers. Next we held them over a flame on the stove to singe off the fine feathers prior to dressing. We also sold eggs to people who came to pick them up for $1.00 a dozen.
Banty chickens also ran around with the other chickens. They were about half the size of a regular chick and were red and colorful. They were of no economical value as their eggs were very small and difficult to find because the hens would not lay eggs in the regular egg nests. The banty roosters had a long spur on their legs and were very aggressive. One rooster, named Hitler, was extremely aggressive. He would fight the turkey toms, the regular roosters, and jump on the backs of dogs and cats. Needless-to-say, he was ruler of the yard for quite some time.
Two or three summers we raised capons, which are male neutered chicks, which grow faster and larger with more tender meat than non-neutered roosters. The simple minor surgery was performed when the chicken was about half grown. It entailed making an incision about one-half inch long under a wing and severing a small cord.
We raised turkeys for many years, which were an economic boost at Thanksgiving and Christmas time. They laid eggs on the ground in a nest each hen built, then sat on them until hatched. During the day they hunted as a group in the fields and would usually come back to their roosting tree at night, which was a large locust tree about twenty feet east of the chicken house. In the early evenings when they had not returned from the fields we went looking for them as coyotes caught them if out too late. That was always a frustrating time as one never knew which way they had gone hunting that day. Not only did one not know which direction to look, but could not see them from a distance because they always hunted in tall grass and weeds. They always made a noise when hunting so we could listen for them. When we thought we had located them by sound, they turned out many times to be only birds. When we butchered them their feet were tied to the clothes line and their throats slit rather than their heads chopped off like the chickens.
Over a period of several years we butchered all of our own meat, including chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, hogs, and cattle. Even though we raised sheep we never ate mutton.
The method of killing the animals varied depending on the animal. Chickens were killed by holding both feet and wings together with one hand, laying their head and neck across a block of wood and chopping their heads off with a sharp axe. They were then released to bleed and flop around on the ground for a few seconds until all motion stopped. That was a job I always disliked but did many as we ate a lot of fried chicken and sold a lot of dressed fryers. Dwain and I killed them and dipped them in scalding water to loosen feathers and pulled feathers while Mother dressed all of them. During and after the war we sold dressed fryers for $1.25 apiece.
Turkey's feet were tied to a clothes line and their throats slit. By hanging upside down blood drained from their body which allowed the meat to be clear without dark blood stains. The only time we dressed turkeys was a few days before Thanksgiving or Christmas as we always had turkey for both holiday dinners as well as selling them dressed.
We raised a few ducks and geese for a short time but none of us liked their meat very well and demand for their meat was poor. We did eat all their eggs which were approximately twice the size of a chicken egg. Instead of the traditional two chicken eggs for breakfast we had one goose or duck egg when available. We always had to keep an eye on the geese as they would chase us at times.
Butchering hogs was an all-day Saturday winter job. We usually worked inside the south end of the barn driveway for two reasons. One, it was warmer and the driveway ceiling was high enough to hook stretchers used to raise and lower the hog into scalding water. The first activity was to build a fire under the large iron kettle or under a fifty-five gallon barrel about half full of water south of the barn. Scalding water was used to loosen the hogs hair so it could be removed from skin with scrapers. The hogs we butchered usually weighed 200-250 pounds and were either driven, or hauled, from the hog pen to the barn prior to killing. To kill the hogs Daddy used a metal stunning hammer which weighed approximately five pounds. It was mounted on a wood handle about three feet long and was conal shaped about an inch in diameter on the outer ends. A sharp blow between the hog's eyes would cause it to collapse at which time its throat was slit open with a large butcher knife. While it bled to death large hooks were run through the hamstring on the rear legs in preparation to raising and lowering it into a fifty-five gallon barrel of boiling water. Once scalded the hair was removed using specially made circular metal scrapers about the shape and size of a saucer. After scraping, the carcass was hung by the hind legs. Internal organs were removed, split in half down the back bone, some delicious butterfly chops removed for our evening meal, and the two halves moved to the smoke house to cool for a few days. Usually the following Saturday we cut the halves into hams, bacon, ribs, pork chops, etc. Excess fat was trimmed away from all those cuts and saved until the next Saturday for making lard. We cut or worked the meat up in either the smoke house or west porch of the house where it was cool as the meat was easier to cut when it was cool and more firm. Usually that evening after supper we got the hand-cranked sausage grinder out of the attic over the kitchen and ground meat we had trimmed for salvage.
Some years we cleaned the intestines thoroughly and stuffed them for link sausage. It usually took thirty minutes to an hour to grind meat into sausage. Early the next Saturday morning we built a fire under the thirty gallon iron kettle near the wood pile and cooked all those approximately one inch square pieces of fat. It was usually mid to late afternoon when most of the "fat" lard had cooked out. We then used the hand cranked lard press, with an old dish towel over the drain hole, to filter the liquid fat and press the rest of the fat out of each piece. The remainder of the pieces without fat were called "cracklings" which we used to make the homemade lye soap that we used when laundering clothes. It was usually made a week or two later, in the same huge cast iron kettle, over a fire about all day. It usually cooked down to fifteen to twenty gallons of liquid, some of which was dipped into other containers and the remainder left in the kettle to cool. After it had cooled thoroughly and became hard, usually later that day or the next day depending on the outside temperature, we cut the firm soap into rectangular shaped bars, approximately three inches square and five to ten inches long. It was a dark gray to brownish color and was used by slicing off thin strips into water in the copper boiler which heated laundry water.
Pork meat was preserved in several different ways. Hams and bacon were salted down in a large wooden barrel kept in the smoke house. After two or three weeks, it was preserved and would not spoil. Mother cooked quite a lot of the pork chops and other cuts, then placed them into quart glass jars prior to filling the jar with
hot liquid lard. It was then stored in the cellar with canned fruit and vegetables. After Hebert and Margaret Pickens opened the slaughter house and locker we took the carcass halves to the locker to cut, wrap and freeze, then store in a locker box. Later the hogs were hauled to Pickens for butchering and freezing.
We also butchered cattle prior to Pickens opening the locker. Daddy usually had Max Rotha or Uncle Ambrose Smith to help. The steer was usually shot with a rifle between its eyes, then skinned and the hide sold to Roy Kadah, near Tisdale, who bought all kinds of hides. After skinning the carcass got the same treatment as the hogs, including the halves hanging in the smoke house a few days before cutting into the traditional cuts. We ground our own hamburger. Most of the meat was cooked and canned in fat as was the pork. The head was boiled and the meat removed for minced meat used in delicious pies. As long as Mrs. Rotha was living the cattle brains always went to her. Excess fat trimmed off was discarded except for a very small amount which was heated to a liquid, then rubbed on our boots and work shoes to help waterproof them and keep the leather softer which reduced cracking and allowed for longer shoe life.
One night, not too long after we had butchered beef, we had some of that delicious minced meat pie for supper. I had eaten about half of my piece when I bit something very hard, which hurt my teeth and jaw. Thinking I had lost a tooth or bit a piece of bone I investigated. On both counts I was wrong as it turned out to be the lead bullet which killed the steer. Since that time I have eaten minced meat pie cautiously.
A very few years later after Pickens opened his slaughter house and locker we stopped butchering cattle and hogs at home but did continue to raise them for our own use. We hauled them to Burden for processing and cold storage. Thus modern technology changed the old fashioned way farmers had prepared their meat for many years.
Every year Daddy sold cattle through the Wichita Livestock Yard. In the early forties he had Howard Moon, from the Tisdale community, haul them the nearly sixty miles to Wichita. In the mid-to-late forties a neighbor, Fred Irvin, who lived four miles away, started hauling livestock so Daddy switched to him. Dwain and I had wanted to go to Wichita and see the livestock yards in action, so about 1950 Daddy worked it out with Mr. Irvin for us to accompany him with some of our livestock. We were really excited about getting to go. It turned out to be an unusual trip indeed.
We had to get up earlier than usual in order to be ready to crawl into the new Ford six-cylinder cab over two-ton truck Mr. Irvin had purchased from Hank Triplett's Ford agency in Burden when the cattle were loaded. About four miles from home, headed west on the Burden/New Salem road, near Johnnie Johnson's house we heard a strange noise in the engine and at the same time the truck slowed down. Mr. Irvin said "What was that?" But he did not stop driving. A little bit later he said, "smoke is coming out of the truck." We continued about four miles where he made the final stop at Frank Smith's to load some cattle. Mr. Irvin checked the engine oil and noted it was low so he stopped at Wilmont and bought several quarts of oil. He stopped several times prior to arriving at the stockyard to add oil, which was a total of six quarts.
After unloading the cattle Mr. Irvin took us in to the main building where there were a lot of offices. Next he took us across the street to a large restaurant for lunch. While eating Mr. Irvin asked us if we knew the extremely fat man with his shirt split under his arms a couple tables from ours. Of course we did not, but as it turned out we had heard him hundreds of times on the radio each morning as we ate breakfast each Monday through Friday. It was Bruce Beheimer, who had a forty-five minute radio program, starting at 6:15 a.m. covering the previous day's livestock and grain prices plus all kinds of farm information. He always gave the weather conditions and temperature as he "came out and down the back stoop." I couldn't believe that was Bruce because by radio I had always pictured him as a small man.
Mr. Irvin decided he could not drive the truck back to Burden. He accidentally ran across Glenn Grooms, who was also a trucker at the stockyard that day, from Atlanta nine miles from Burden. Glenn's hauling rig was a late forties Chevrolet six-cylinder tractor, which was grossly underpowered for the kind of loads he was hauling. Manufacturers were just beginning to produce more powerful engines, some diesels, and lots heavier tractors for over-the-road hauling.
After hooking on to Mr. Irvin's new Ford truck, Glenn decided to take U.S. 54 east of Wichita to Augusta, approximately fifteen miles, then south on U.S. 77. Highway 54 was a narrow two lane, no passing zone, 100 percent of the distance between Wichita and Augusta with a thirty-five mile per hour speed limit. By the time we reached Augusta cars were backed up behind us for miles. I was riding with Glenn and Dwain with Mr. Irvin. Several times Glenn said, "That truck pulls a lot harder than a load of cattle."
It must have as he kept that little Chevy engine roaring and still was not able to pull up some of those hills fifteen miles per hour. We finally made it back to Burden early evening. The top of a piston had broken off in Mr. Irvin's truck engine which was repaired by the Ford Motor Company. That was our first and last trip with cattle to the stockyards.
Wheat harvest the first two or three years after we moved in with Grandma was a three-step process. First the wheat was cut and bundled by a grain binder, just before it was ripe. Next it was set up in shocks to ripen and protect the grain from moisture until the threshing machine arrived. Last, the bundles were fed into the thresher, which separated grain from straw. All very time consuming. After those first years for a few summers Daddy hired a neighbor, Sanford Atkinson, to combine wheat with his silver colored pull-type- twelve-foot cut, Baldwin-Gleaner combine. It required two operators, one on the tractor and one on the combine, to raise and lower the cutter bar as needed to cut the straw just below the heads of the grain. Those summers we continued to cut, bind, and thresh oats and barley.
When we threshed at home it required three grain wagons: one to catch the grain as it was augered from the threshing machine, one in transit to or from the barn, and the third one at the grain bin with two guys scooping grain from the wagon into bins or granary. The scoopers each stood in the wagon at opposite ends facing each other scooping at the same time. They coordinated scoops so that one was filling his shovel while the other was emptying his. Daddy always liked to get Carl Cook to scoop because he was tall and could scoop more grain in less time than any of the neighbors. Scooping was a back-breaking job because one had to bend over so much.
We kids always had fun playing "king of the mountain" on the big straw stacks. It was fun to roll down the sides in the soft fluffy straw. We could also dig caves into the sides of the stack, but got in trouble when we did because of the possibility it might collapse on us. Cattle were turned in the field with a straw stack and allowed to eat the straw and grain which was still in the grain head. They always ate into the stack at ground level which decreased the base of the stack after several weeks so that it was considerably smaller than the portion above a cow's reach. When an old cow came in at night with straw all over her back it meant a portion of the stack had fallen on her that day.
Around 1947 Daddy bought a John Deere power-take-off-driven, six-foot-cut-pull-type combine. At that time we stopped threshing grain and combined it while standing. When combining at home I could drive the 1935 Chevrolet sedan towing our four-wheel trailer to the barn, as I had learned to drive before age twelve, while Daddy continued to combine. As soon as I was fourteen and eligible to get a driver's license I made many trips to the Burden elevator with the car and trailer. When a trip was made during the p.m. on a good weather cutting day one could wait in line starting three blocks from the elevator, at least two hours or more. On a couple of occasions I got within three or four vehicles from the elevators when Max Cannon, elevator owner, announced the elevator was full. That required waiting at least until the next day or longer as Santa Fe had to bring in empty railroad box cars so wheat could be moved from elevator to cars and create more elevator space. At that time all grain was shipped by rail.
Hauling wheat with the Chevy was not without its problems. The north/south road running between the two eighty-acre farms at the "other place" had never been graveled. It had two large mud holes where water stood for days or weeks after a heavy rain. Several times I nearly got stuck with a trailer load of wheat. One time, headed to Burden, I was not as fortunate and did get stuck. We had to unhook the combine and pull the car and trailer out of the mud with the tractor.
Another time I had just pulled out of the field headed toward home when I heard a strange popping noise in the car and at the same time it quit pulling. A rear axle had broken.
Many times it was a real challenge to get the loaded trailer of wheat into the elevator as on those very hot days the 1935 Chevy would vapor lock after sitting a few minutes which made it difficult to start. Sometimes it would have to sit a long time with both sides of the hood up so cooler air could circulate around the carburetor and gas lines which would allow liquid gasoline to run again. While waiting for it to cool enough to start, those in line behind pulled around and dumped their wheat first.
After weighing the wagon and wheat we pulled off the scales, across Burden's main street, and headed up the ramp to the elevator's dump floor. Usually one had to stop and wait two or three times on that steep ramp which again caused problems going up the ramp with a load. Sometimes the engine did not want to start or the car clutch slipped a lot until it would finally start moving the load. Once on the dump floor the trailer was unhooked from the car and its front wheels lifted four to six feet so all grain would run out of the rear of the trailer after the end gate was removed. After unloading it was down a much steeper ramp with a sharp turn at the bottom and back to the scales to weigh the empty trailer.
Around 1951 Daddy sold the 1935 Chevrolet sedan and bought a green 1934 Chevrolet one-half ton pickup, which was about like the 1935 Chevy sedan with the same body style, dash and engine. It seemed to have more power probably because its bed would not hold as much grain as the trailer and because it had a lower-speed differential. The major problem it caused was difficulty in starting the engine after the front end of the pickup had been raised five or six feet to dump grain. By late 1953 or early 1954 it was running very poorly, which we attributed to bad engine valves, so we pulled the head and reground the valves. It never did run perfect after that. We tried to fix it ourselves which probably was a mistake as I now think the problem was in the ignition system. About that same time Daddy bought a 1939 Chevrolet, one-half-ton pickup, red with black fenders. So the old 1934, driven only a short time, went to the junk pile. Twenty years later Daddy cut the cab sheet metal into small pieces with his ax. Prior to that time the bed was removed and made into a two-wheel trailer. Some other parts were brought to Lawrence and sold at an antique auto parts swap meet. One time in that 1934 pickup we got stuck in a snow drift going up the hill west of the house and broke one of the rear axles trying to rock it out.
During those five years from 1934 to 1939 Chevrolet improved and increased the size of their one-half-ton pickups. The 1939 pickup would haul more grain at a higher speed and did not cause problems like the sedan and the 1934 pickup. In the spring of 1955 its engine started showing water in the oil and water loss out of the radiator. We finally found a twelve-inch-long crack at the base of the block behind the valve push rod cover.
By that time we kept anti-freeze in it during the winter so it could be used to feed cattle. We were never sure how it broke, whether it was after we got it or if it was sold to us cracked. One hot summer day after wheat harvest in 1955 I was working wheat ground after it had been plowed in the northwest field of the east eighty acres. I was on the 1947 John Deere "A" in the southeast corner near the willow grove when a bright shiny strange blue truck drove into the northwest corner of the field. I wondered who it might be as I did not recognize the truck as belonging to any of the neighbors. When I worked around to that side of the field I was really surprised to see Daddy smiling, sitting in his new blue 1955 Chevrolet one ton flatbed truck. He had traded the 1939 in on the new one at Lewis Chevrolet in Burden. My future father-in-law, Boyd Ring, was the salesman. He kept the 1955 until the mid-80s after he fully retired from farming.
In the early 1950s Daddy must have gotten something in one of his eyes but the doctor could not find it. He made several trips to a doctor in Wichita who prescribed colored glasses with ground lens to be worn when he was in the sun. That summer, when combining wheat on the northeast corner of the east quarter he took the colored glasses off and laid them on top of the John Deere combine while working on it. After fixing it he got back on the tractor and went slightly over one round when he remembered the glasses. We walked around the field a couple of times looking for those expensive glasses which cost over fifty dollars. We had given up finding them when Daddy started to get back on the tractor. He found them run over with broken lens and frame.
Around 1952 Daddy bought a Massey-Harris combine, seven-foot-cut, with the engine mounted on the combine. Not only was it larger than the John Deere combine but it could cut more grain because of its engine which powered the combine, instead of being powered by the tractor's "power take-off" as the John Deere was. Two or three summers we were able to run two combines at once which drastically reduced cutting time and allowed us to start plowing while the ground was fairly soft. We continued to use the Massey several seasons after the John Deere was retired because of excessively worn parts.
Prior to planting any of the new grain called "combine maize" (now called milo) we planted kaffercorn which grew six to seven feet tall. It was planted in rows like corn and cut and bundled by a single-row corn binder. We shocked it like small grain of oats, barley, and wheat. The process of separating grain from the head differed considerably prior to getting the combines. We had a four-foot-long knife mounted on the side of the hay rack wagon which enabled the heads of grain to be cut from each bundle. The heads were then fed to the cattle, hogs or ground in the feed grinder. After getting combines a sickle was mounted in a vertical position so heads of grain could be cut off bundles and the grain separated from the head by the combine. The combining process required two of us picking up bundles out of the shock and laying them across the sickle which allowed the grain head to fall onto the canvas conveyor and into the machine for separation. The bundles, less heads, were thrown into a pile to be picked up later for cattle feed. The third person stayed on the tractor to drive to another shock. A couple of times my straw hat either blew off or was knocked off and went through the combine, which essentially destroyed it.
After Dwain and I left home Daddy hired his grain combined by a custom cutter who also hauled the grain to bins or the elevator in Burden.
The 1955 wheat harvest was most unusual. Yield of wheat was better than expected. Late on a Saturday night we finished combining twenty acres northwest of the big draw on the east eighty at the other place.
We always went to church at Tisdale Sunday mornings, except during wheat harvest. That Sunday morning was no exception as we missed church to build extra bin space for wheat while it was getting dry enough to combine. We finished building space in the south stall of the horse barn, got tractors and equipment ready to go to the other place, and had lunch. As we came out of the house after lunch we could see fire and smoke a mile west. We jumped in the pickup and drove one mile west to investigate. West of Jock Steele's house and buildings a fire was in his wheat field where two combines were cutting. We could see the fire had started close to the road along the south edge of the field and was moving rapidly to the northwest as there was a strong wind from the southeast. It was headed toward forty-five acres of standing wheat in the northwest corner of that section, which was the east eighty of our other place. We quickly turned around and headed home to get one of the tractors. For some reason we had taken both tractors home the night before. By the time we went home, got the 1947 John Deere "A," drove it about two and one-half miles, hooked into the plow which was already in the field, the fire was burning standing wheat. Daddy plowed through the wheat field which diverted the fire, saving about thirty acres but losing about fifteen acres, plus burning over the twenty acres of stubble which we had just finished cutting the evening before.
Before the fire burned out, Melvin Lewis, Chevrolet dealer in Burden, who had a large tank truck for hauling water to oil drilling rigs, drove in with a tank full of water. I crawled on the back of the truck, controlled the pump and hose nozzle to spray water on the fire along the edge of the field and hedge row trees on fire. Several times in the process of turning around he would back under hedge trees which scratched me good each time as I was shirtless.
We had the fire out with exception of some hedge and cottonwood trees that continued to burn until approximately 4:00 p.m. As long as the wind continued to blow from the south, standing wheat was not in danger of catching fire. Because of all the afternoon excitement we had given up on trying to combine wheat that day. About 6:00 that evening a big mean looking black cloud formed in the northwest. A change in wind direction to the north/northwest could blow sparks out of the burning cottonwood trees into the standing wheat, approximately fifteen feet away. When Daddy saw the cloud he jumped in the 1939 Chevy pickup to check that sparks were not blowing into the wheat. He was satisfied they were not so we headed home when part way he ran out of gas during the worst part of a bad storm.
Every Sunday evening Dwain and I went to Methodist Youth Fellowship at the Burden Methodist Church. That Sunday was no exception. We had started to get ready by drawing water and filling the boiler which heated our bath water on a two burner gas stove in the smoke house. We did not have a bathroom in the house so took our baths in an old lion's foot cast-iron bath tub during the summer months in the smoke house. Our water was about hot enough when Daddy departed for the other place. We proceeded with our preparations by drawing a couple buckets of cold water and pouring it in the tub even though the cloud was getting darker and darker. It was Dwain's turn to take his bath first so he proceeded while I watched the clouds from the south side of the smoke house. Mother became very frightened and was crying because she wanted Dwain and I to go to the cellar with her and Darlene. She pleaded with us three times to no avail as Dwain continued his bath and I continued to watch those mean looking clouds. At the height of the storm leaning against the exterior south side of the smoke house I could feel the building moving even though it was secured to a concrete floor. The worst part of the storm went north of our house. Large limbs were blown out of our yard trees and corrugated metal blown loose on several barns.
After the storm Daddy came walking home for gas and reported sparks did not blow into the standing wheat.
Dwain and I did go to MYF that evening. About a mile and one-half east of our house was a strip of trees extremely damaged by the tornado that went near us. Burden did not have electricity so we did not have MYF. We stopped at Elmer Tredway's Cafe where he had kerosene lamps and candles lit. Stories were flying as to the fire and tornado. We heard that Bryce Rising's farm had been hit, injuring two or three of his children, who were admitted to the hospital. His house was damaged extensively, barn blown away, livestock injured or killed, and 500 chickens killed. All proved to be true. His farm was one mile north and one and one-half mile west of the other place.
The wheat field fire story was interesting as it had three combines in the field with just one operator to try and get all of the combines out of the path of the fire. Actually there were two combines operating in the field, each with an operator who had no problem moving out of the fire's path.
The next morning Bud Shiflet, who lived one-half mile north of the west eighty at the other place, came down to see if he could get some help to clean up following tornado damage which destroyed a huge farm barn with stalls for nearly forty head of horses. One horse was in the barn and was killed when the barn collapsed. I worked for him several days picking up lumber, metal, and trash, as well as cleaning nails out of useable 2x4 lumber. He had a large cattle shed open to the south southeast of the big barn which was not damaged. It had a large stock water tank stored inside with sacked cattle feed stacked in it. Following the storm the tank was missing with its sacked feed scattered over a large area south of the shed. That fall when Daddy was planting wheat in the northwest field of the east eighty, at the other place, he found the tank on its edge in a grove of willow trees along the draw. The tank had only minor damage. It had blown approximately one-half mile.
While waiting in the pickup for the combine bin to fill we parked in the shade of trees, usually facing east or west. We opened both doors and got the benefit of a nice breeze blowing over us as we lay on the seat or lay on top of the cab.
Probably during wheat harvest 1946 or 1947 while combining wheat in the northwest corner of the east eighty at the other place, a neighbor, Lester Garrison, drove into the field in his brand new black Kaiser car. Dwain and I visited with him before Daddy finally stopped combining to see what he wanted. He was bragging a lot about his new car, taking time from combining. We had heard that the Kaisers and Frasers were starting to fall apart after 30,000 miles. Finally Daddy said to Lester, "I wouldn't have one of those cars if someone gave me one." That made Lester mad as he immediately got in his new car and drove off.
Threshing days also required all the neighborhood ladies to do a lot of hot hard work. They usually started gathering about 10:00 a.m. at the farm where threshing was occurring. They all pitched in to help kill chickens, dress and cook them, and perform the many other food preparation tasks required to prepare a full meal, all they could eat, for fifteen to twenty-five hungry men. It was seldom that all crew members could fit around the dining table at the same time so they split and ate in two shifts. After serving the crew the ladies ate, then cleaned up and went home by mid-afternoon. The next day and following, as the threshing crews moved from farm to farm, the ladies moved also.
Around 1947 Daddy bought the used six-foot power-take-off John Deere combine from Uncle Jay Bowser and a neighbor who owned it jointly. It was located on a farm about five miles southwest of Tisdale which made it approximately ten miles from home. We did not have any way to get it home other than the 1937 John Deere "A" tractor, which had a top speed of eight miles per hour.
Dwain and I were excited about going with Daddy to get the new combine -- well, it was new to us, since we had not had one before. The only problem on the way to pick it up was standing on the tractor's drawbar and hanging onto the tractor seat which became very tiring. Daddy did allow each of us to drive some when we were on dirt or graveled roads. Daddy drove while we were on US 160 and the graveled county road south of Cranston's corner. Going home Dwain and I rode in the twenty-bushel grain bin on the combine. Again it was standing all the way as the bin floor inclined to the auger used to empty the bin.
We used the combine approximately ten years before scrapping it out. Daddy made a two-wheel trailer, for hauling the spring tooth harrow, out of the axle and frame. Most of the rest of it was sold for scrap metal.
It was this combine which was fitted with a vertical sickle in order to cut heads off bundles of kaffercorn in order to thresh grain out of the heads. In the process of threshing I had a couple of stray hats go through the machine. The first time it happened I had a rather sickening feeling as I felt my hat leave my head, saw it land on the conveyor canvas, and head into the machine with no time or way to stop it. When the main cylinder of the combine got through with a straw hat it was useless.
Cutting and "putting up hay" for cattle and sheep involved a lot of time each summer. Usually we had at least twenty acres of alfalfa which was usually cut three and sometimes four times a summer, depending on the amount of rain. Besides alfalfa we had thirty-five acres of native grass called "prairie grass" to cut and bale late summer.
The first summer I was old enough to help hay, the alfalfa was mowed, raked, and stacked in the field west of the barns. Silver Creek School was only eight months long and was usually out about the middle of April.
After school was out Dwain and I went without shirts during the summer months. One summer, the day after school was out, we started mowing the first cutting of alfalfa. Daddy put me on the horse-drawn mowing machine which took all day. That day was my first without a shirt. By days end I had a terrible sunburn with large blisters. My top half was so sore I slept very little the next two or three nights. After that time my first time each spring without a shirt was limited to twenty minutes, then a few minutes longer each day until I had a tan.
After the cut hay had lain on the ground for a couple of days, depending on the weather as to the amount of dryness, it was raked into long rows with a horse-drawn dump rake. The rake was another implement difficult to operate for a kid. It was operated with one foot, which required putting a foot on the pedal with a leather strap over the top of the foot and raising the lever when time to dump the hay. When all the hay was raked into long "windrows" it was pushed or moved to where it was hand-stacked by a person with a pitch fork. We sometimes pitched it on a "hayrack" wagon, then pitched it off the hayrack onto the stack for the stacker to place so that the stack would not fall and would shed water.
Usually we had an implement to move hay to the stack we called a "go devil" which had eight to ten wood fingers, six to eight feet long, mounted on the front of the implement about a foot above the ground. It was moved by two horses which worked about six feet apart, at the sides but behind the hay fingers. It took quite a while for a horse to learn to work independently of the other horse. To change directions a horse was required to pull the rear end of the "go devil" their direction, and the other had to move or get dragged along. They could not step sideways toward each other or they would be stepping over the wood structural frame.
To move hay the outer end of the long fingers were lowered to the ground, then moved forward down a windrow of racked hay. When the fingers were full of hay, the outer end raised off the ground and the load of hay was taken to the stack site. To unload, fingers were lowered and then backed away from the load. It sure was difficult to drive the horses and make the "go devil" go where needed.
One summer we were stacking alfalfa in the same field where I got the sun burn when a terribly black cloud came up in the northwest sky, about five p.m. Max Rotha was hurrying to finish and get the stack topped out so it would shed water. Just as we were finishing the cloud darkened and a long funnel shape appeared at its bottom. It was my first experience at seeing a tornado. We seldom went places at night but had been planning for many days to go to Burden that Saturday night to a movie "if we got the alfalfa put up in time."
We got several inches of rain out of that storm but no wind damage. After the storm I had to wade in rushing water at the windmill well over my knees to get the milk cows in from the pasture. It was difficult to get the cows to wade through the deep water. Since it had rained so much the folks decided not to go to Burden. I cried for a long time because we had been planning to go to town for a long time. We read in the next day's Winfield Daily Courier that two people in a rural area east of Mulvane had been killed by a tornado that day.
We never stacked any loose prairie hay at the other farm but instead baled it. Daddy usually had Frank Smith, who lived near Wilmont, to bale it with his stationary baler. Stationary balers were positioned at a convenient location in the hay field, then all loose hay moved to the baler with hayracks or usually the "go devil." Bales were stacked in large stacks usually four bales high and three to five hundred bales, then the baler was moved to another part of the hay field. Usually three or four baling positions were set up in the thirty-five acre hay field.
We mowed, raked, and hauled hay with horses. Usually when mowing we encountered bumblebees on the west side of the big draw running through the hay field. One time when mowing I mowed into a bee's nest and had a wild ride when one of the horses got stung. We mowed where I had already mowed and where it was not time to mow yet. Fortunately I did not get stung. Several times years later when mowing with the tractor we stirred up bumblebees. If he sat very still while driving the tractor bees did not sting the operator.
Times when we worked horses, haying at the other place, oats or some other grain was taken each morning to feed them at noon while we were eating lunch. Special feed boxes were used to sit on the empty hayrack or ground. Each box was about two feet long, one foot wide and six inches deep with a divider in the center to create two feed boxes for two horses. If the big draw ditch running through the thirty acre hay meadow was dry, we hauled water so the horses would have water at noon.
Stationary balers required a crew of three. One pitched the loose hay, with a pitch fork, into the bale chamber of the baler where the big plunger could pack it tight in a rectangular shape. A second guy was responsible to block and poke wires. Blocking was inserting a block of wood in the bale chamber which created a separation of hay between bales. Each block of wood had two grooves on each side for baling wire to slide through. He then slid the looped end of an eight foot long straight baling wire through slots at the back side of the block. Through the front side of the block straight ends of wires were poked through the slots and then run through loops and tied by the third crew member. When the bale was free from the baler the third crewman stacked it with the other bales and placed the wood block in its holder so it could be used again and again.
After baling a few years with the stationary baler a neighbor, Harold Firebaugh, bought a modern pick-up baler and bailed for us. It shortened the bailing time by picking hay up from a windrow. The hay was raked in rows with a modern "side delivery" rake instead of the old-dump style rake. The case baler was pulled by a tractor and powered by a Wisconsin air-cooled four-cylinder engine. Two guys rode on it, one on each of the bale chambers, with the guy on the left side blocking and poking wires and the other tying. The block was a "H" shape of steel with grooves for wires. Bales were either dropped on the ground one at a time as they came out of the baler or stacked on a sled, ten bales at a time, then slid off the sled or stacked fifty to sixty bales on a flat bed trailer.
One day in particular I remember stacking bales on the sled when everything was going great. That day we baled just over one thousand bales. I sure was tired that night and my fingers would hardly straighten out from hanging on to hay hooks for so long.
Invariably each year after raking the hay, but before the baler got to it, a large whirlwind would move across the meadow scattering a fifty- to one-hundred-foot-width of hay across all the windrows. The amount of reraking that had to be done was based on the size of the whirlwind.
Since there were no barns or sheds at the meadow all bales were either stacked in a large stack in the field or hauled to a barn. Usually it was all hauled to the big barn at home and put in the hay loft or part of it was put in the cattle shed. Several years we even hauled some bales to Uncle Jake's stone barn, three miles north and one-half mile east. Usually when traveling from hay meadow to barn we rode on top of the load and on the empty truck back for another load. One time when on our way to Uncle Jake's when crossing a ditch at the northeast corner of the meadow, bales shifted and about a quarter of the load fell off the truck, along with Richard Harris. The rest of us managed to scramble forward enough to stay on the load. He landed on his feet so sustained no injury. We had to reload before we could proceed to the barn.
During the first years of baling hay all bales had to be thrown by hand off wagons or trucks into the hay mow. Several years later Daddy bought a twenty-foot combination grain and hay elevator powered by a one-cylinder air-cooled Briggs & Stratton engine. It was a labor saver by dropping bales rather than lifting them into the hayloft. It adjusted so bales would come back a lot farther in the loft. After several summers of use the engine was hard to start and was about worn out so for Father's Day gift Dwain and I bought an electric motor and long extension cord large enough to power the elevator for by that time we had electricity on the farm. In 1991 Daddy took that elevator to an auction of farm machinery where the auctioneer paid him $5.00 for it. Daddy was really disappointed it did not bring more.
Nearly every time we baled hay Daddy hired a neighbor guy, Vern Rotha, to help haul bales. Read about Vern in the section on "Neighbors."
After Daddy bought the 1937 John Deere "A" tractor, a year or so later he bought a two-row power-lift lister. It was purchased at a public auction of Bill Bell's following his sudden death. He had been in the Tisdale pitch group. Daddy always made the neatest straight rows from one end of the field to the other which made it easier to cultivate the crop, whether it be corn, kaffercorn, maize, or soybeans.
When I got old enough to work in the fields Daddy put me on the tractor to list in crops. My rows were always crooked. I mentioned to Uncle Bill Ruggles that my rows were crooked, not straight like Daddy's. He said, "That's all right -- your rows will grow more corn than your dad's". He then told me how to make straighter rows. He said, "Pick out a tree, fence post, or something at the other end of the field which lines up with the row you just finished. Keep that object between the exhaust pipe and air intake pipe on the front of the tractor, then your rows will be straighter." I was surprised to find that it worked. His many years of farming experience helped me.
After the crop was between three and four inches tall the ground around the plants had to be worked, usually three times, to control weeds. After working the ground with a cultivator, it was referred to as "plowing corn" or the name of the crop. After the third time we referred to it as "laying by" the crop.
All during the war and for at least a couple of years after, we plowed row crops with horses as we did not have a tractor mounted cultivator. It was not that Daddy had not tried, as I recall many times over several years when buying John Deere parts in Winfield he would ask, "Is my cultivator in yet?" The answer was always no.
I only worked the single row cultivator because of the difficulty of controlling four horses and keeping an eye on two rows of crop while at the same time reaching pedals which moved shovels slightly right or left to keep from plowing out the crops. Daddy worked the double row cultivator.
One summer we had just finished "laying by" the row crops about 4:00 p.m. one hot afternoon. We unharnessed the horses and went to the house to get a drink. Dwain was lying on the kitchen floor so he could look out the west kitchen door and see the road west of our house. I said, "I guess that tractor cultivator is never going to come in." At that precise moment Dwain saw a large truck topping the hill west of the barn and said, "Here it comes now." Lo and behold, that truck turned in our place and wanted to know "where we wanted our new cultivator unloaded." Daddy was working in the field on the tractor so we had it unloaded in the front yard by the big walnut tree that stood just southeast of the barn.
It was a whole year before we used the new cultivator. Great timing!
Plowing row crops with a single row horse drawn cultivator was a slow process as the horses could not move as fast as the tractor. One had to stop at the end of each row and let the horses rest and sometimes on a very hot day, part way through a row. Sometimes the horses would want to stop and switch flies off their backs with their tails so they had to be switched with lines or yelled at to get them to keep moving.
That new two row cultivator sure decreased our row crop work time. After row crops got too tall to plow, we would spend time, after a rain when we could not work in the field with the tractor because of mud, either hoeing or pulling weeds out of the fields. It was a job I always hated because of the heat between those forty-two-inch-wide rows, with high humidity, no wind, and plants over one's head. We used a heavy #2 hoe referred to as a "nigger hoe."
In the fall, October and later, after the corn had ripened, it had to be harvested. The only way we had to get the corn out of the field was to pick one ear off the stalk at a time. A process known as "shucking corn." Shucking required a team of horses pulling a grain wagon with two extra box sides sitting on top of the grain box, one side acting as a back stop to throw the ears of corn against. A shucking hook was fastened in the palm of the shucker's hand or to a thumb, whichever type was used. Each ear of corn had several layers of cover called "husk" protecting it, which had to be separated from the ear and then the ear broken off the stock and thrown into the wagon. A good shucker would shuck two or three rows as he moved across the field. Some shuckers were so fast that they were about able to keep an ear of corn in the air all the time. After a short time a team of horses would move, on their own, at the correct speed for a shucker. When we shucked Daddy worked two rows and Dwain and I each a row. Sometimes he had to help us with our row because we slowed him down. A good shucker could fill a wagon box heaping with ear corn full in less than a day of shucking. To get ear corn out of the wagon it was scooped, using a grain shovel or special corn scoop. Scooping ear corn is totally different than small grain like wheat, oats, barley, etc. When scooping small grain one can shove the scoop into the grain and pick up a shovel full, whereas with ear corn a shovel will not penetrate into the load because of ears lying all directions. To enable one to scoop ear corn wagons were altered by removing the regular back in gates and fitted with a corn gate that hinged at the bottom and would drop down at an incline and act as a floor for the shovel to slide on. Corn would then fall into the shovel which allowed the scooper to fill the shovel. The scooper continued to slide his shovel on the wood floor of the wagon box with corn falling into the shovel until the wagon was empty.
I never like shoveling corn because one always stood on the trailer floor, which required throwing corn farther than small grain.
After Dwain and I reached high school Daddy allowed us to work for some of the neighbors at times, especially helping with hauling baled hay.
We worked most for Frank Weigle, who lived one mile west of us and usually fed 200-300 head of beef cattle each winter. We liked to work for him most because he paid one dollar an hour when most of the other neighbors only paid fifty or seventy-five cents an hour. Mostly Frank baled alfalfa rather than native grass because he fed cattle during the winter months in pastures which allowed them to eat the standing grass throughout the winter. He hired custom balers to bale rectangular "square" bales until Allis Chalmers developed the first baler making round bales.
Frank bought an Allis Chalmers to run behind his WD-45 Allis Chalmers tractor. It was more challenging to haul and stack round bales. Vertical stakes had to be used on trucks or trailers to prevent bales from rolling off. Most bale handlers used two hay hooks rather than one usually used for square bales. Square bales had wire, and then later string replaced the wire, enabling us to hold on while moving the bale. One summer Frank decided to bale several acres of slough grass which grew in a large ditch and low area west of the house. He baled it into round bales, which were very difficult to haul as slough grass has a very slick stem and leaves. Even with extra stakes on the truck we lost parts of several loads on the way to the hay barn. The hay barn was a large quonset building approximately 100 feet long with openings on the east and west ends which made it a hot barn to stack bales because the prevailing south to north wind did not circulate through it.
Other neighbors we worked for were Laverle and Carol Harris, Uncle Ira Powers, Boss Powers, Uncle Bill Ruggles, Max Rotha, Wiley Acres, Everett Dyer, and Ola and Orville Bair.
The first time I worked away from home was for our closest neighbor, Max Rotha, who lived one-half mile west. It was a hot summer afternoon that Max had me raking alfalfa, with horses, in a small field close to the house and barn. Max and Orville Bair were unloading a hayrack of alfalfa into the barn hay loft while I raked.
When raking, one made a 180 degree turn at each end of the field to rake adjacent to where we had just raked. I was turning to the right making one of the 180 degree turns when the old mare on the right tripped and fell, or it appeared, was pushed over by the mare on the left. I thought it strange that the left mare would push the other over as they had worked together for years and they always seemed to be in step with each other. I waited for her to get up but she did not. So I got off the rake, got a hold on her bridle and attempted to get her back on her feet. She made a very feeble effort but would not get up. I thought I had done something to cause her fall, so reluctantly I went to the barn and crawled into the loft to tell Max that one of the horses (I do not recall her name) had fallen and would not get up. We went to the hay field to see if she would get up. Max could not get her up and said in his seventy years of working horses he had not seen a horse fall and not get up. He determined her legs were not broken. Orville suggested his father, Ola Bair, might know what was wrong with her. He and I went in Orville's 1939 Chevrolet one-half mile north where Mr. Bair was working ground. He went with Orville and I to the Rothas. When we arrived the old mare was dead. They concluded she had died from a heart attack which was a relief to me to know it was not my driving that had caused her to fall.
Late evenings when doing chores at the Bair's, who were on vacation, mosquitoes were thick near Silver Creek, which was a few feet from the barns and sheds. I walked up the creek bed about a quarter-mile to drive milk cows in from the pasture. During summer months I went shirtless, a condition which could have been disastrous but was not. I could hear mosquitoes buzzing by and feel them flying into my skin, but not once did I receive a bite.
The summer of 1954 I plowed wheat ground for Mr. Bair. He had approached me about plowing for him. My plan was to earn enough money to enable me to return to Arkansas City Junior College and complete a second year. Since I had just purchased my first car, a 1948 Chevrolet Coupe, I figured I needed $1.00 an hour working eight hours a day to earn enough to pay tuition and books and to maintain my car. When I told Mr. Bair I needed $1.00 an hour for the eight hours a day he informed me he could not afford to pay that much. A few days later he came back and agreed to pay $8.00 per day and provide my lunch provided I plow twelve hours each day. Since I had not found any other paying job and it paid the amount I needed I started plowing for him around July 5, which was the earliest Dr. Wells would release me to go back to regular work after my May 10th appendectomy surgery. Following surgery I was doing light jobs like maintenance on my car, repairing window screens, painting, etc. My plow schedule at Bair's was to be in the field plowing by 6:00 a.m. till noon, take the hour off for lunch, which Mrs. Bair prepared and Mr. Bair insisted I take, back in the field by 1:00 or shortly thereafter after gassing up the tractor, a 1938 Farmall F-30, and servicing the plow. It was all afternoon plowing until 7:00 p.m. at which time I went home and did chores since Daddy and Dwain worked in the field many nights until around 10:00 p.m.
That summer was one of the hottest and driest on record, with the temperature reaching 100 degrees F or higher thirty consecutive days at Wichita during July and August. It was so hot that creeks, rivers, and lots of water wells went dry. During normal time one could not pump the stock well dry (the one in the draw west of the barns). However, during that summer it was possible to pump it dry in about twenty minutes. After an hour's wait we could pump the same amount of water again. We had to pump many times during the day to get enough water for all the livestock. Pastures dried up, which meant no grass for livestock, or crops for producing winter feed. Hence many farmers were forced to sell cattle and hogs.
Because of the lack of rain and tremendous heat our swimming hole on Silver Creek dried up, so if we went swimming that summer it was at the public pool in Winfield. One Sunday afternoon, about 2:00 p.m. I was headed for Winfield's pool to try and escape the heat for awhile. My 1948 Chevy car radio was tuned in to KSOK Arkansas City. I was eight miles east of Winfield on US 160, one-half mile east of Tisdale, when the radio announcer said "It's a cool 119 degrees in the shade by the radio station." One advantage to swimming when the temperature is above 100 degrees is that one is never cool after getting out of the pool.
Working that schedule in that extreme heat affected one's body. Being in school at Arkansas City JUCO that previous spring semester and six weeks following surgery I had put on a little extra weight. During the first ten days after I was released to resume regular work, which was plowing for Mr. Bair, I lost fifteen pounds. Most days during late a.m. to late p.m. metal exposed to the sun absorbed so much heat that it was difficult to hang on to plow levers, wrenches, or touch parts of the tractor. Even though an umbrella was on the tractor, with the steel seat under its shade, when one was off the seat a few minutes it was uncomfortably hot when sitting on it again. One was required to keep bare hands the same place on the steering wheel or risk hot hands. It was so hot during mid to late afternoon that I was making myself sick trying to quench my thirst by drinking up to a gallon of water from 1:00 to 7:00 p.m. Someone suggested I take a whole lemon to the field and each time after drinking sip a small amount of the lemon's juice. I tried it and it worked. I then was drinking just half as much water and not feeling sick. Another contributing factor to the hot temperature was heat from the tractor engine and the direction Mr. Bair wanted all his fields plowed. He wanted all fields plowed in a north to south direction. That meant one-half of the time I was going north with the prevailing wind and receiving very little benefit from it and the other half south against the wind, which blew high temperature engine heat, including exhaust heat (since the exhaust outlet was about shoulder height to anyone sitting on the seat), back on the driver.
That summer our twenty-acre alfalfa field produced only one cutting all summer with only seventeen bales, when it usually produced three and sometimes four cuttings with a total of five to six hundred bales. It was also the last summer Daddy tried raising corn for we did not get a single ear.
As evidenced by the first cutting of alfalfa the spring of 1954 was exceptionally dry. In fact it was so dry that every baby grasshopper must have survived. They ate laundry hanging on the clothesline to dry and seemed especially hungry since very little green grass or crops grew for them to eat that they ate all the bark off of sumac in pastures, which killed it. During those hot afternoons nearly every fencepost would be lined solid with grasshoppers from ground to top on the east shady side in an effort to escape that hot sun.
Since it was so hot in our west second floor bedroom Dwain and I slept outside on top of the concrete cellar top. We kept a double bed spring on top of the cellar and a mattress in the smokehouse out of the hot sun. Sometimes it felt like we were sleeping on a stove with so much heat radiating from the concrete cellar top. One night about midnight I could not sleep due because of the heat so got up and looked at a thermometer which had been in the shade all day on the north side of the house, six feet from the cellar. It read 101 degrees. Just had to tough it out since those were pre-air conditioning days.
The summer of 1955 I plowed for Mr. Bair's son Orville, who lived about five miles southeast of us. My working hours were from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., with lunch provided. Orville's tractor was a WD-45 Allis Chalmers with a mounted plow. Design of the tractor with the seat low behind the differential and rear axles made it a hot tractor to ride on a hot day. However, it was not nearly as hot as the previous summer on Mr. Bair's tractor primarily because of cooler summer days. Orville plowed 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. and was always able to plow more during his twelve hours than I could during my twelve hours during the hot part of the day. Two or three times he wanted to know what I was doing during the day to keep me from plowing as much as he did. I was keeping the tractor moving all the time except for lunch. We finally decided the tractor ran better on the damp cool night air then on the hot low humidity day air. Most days I could start plowing at 7:00 a.m. with a full tank of gasoline and plow nonstop to noon without running out of gas. However, several times I would run out five to ten minutes before noon.
One day Orville was combining oats about four miles east near Groase Creek. That day after gassing the tractor after lunch I could not get it started. I tried several things to get it started which included draining gasoline out of the carburetor, checking to make sure the plugs were getting sparks and even cranking. All to no avail. So Eleanor, his wife, took me via the detour to the oat field to get Orville. He was not too happy to stop combining to go home and start the Allis. He was more unhappy when he hit the Allis starter and it started immediately. We never did determine the cause for its failure to start.
Orville and Eleanor's oldest child Linda was considerably less then a year old. At lunch time it was interesting to watch her actions and facial expressions when she had an ice cube on her high chair tray.
Our communications with neighbors at times was very difficult as the telephone did not work well most of the time. It was a system of rural crank phones, with two dry cell batteries, which hung on the wall. The wires running along roads were maintained by the farmers who had phones. The old lines had been in use many years which allowed tree limbs to grow against the wires and short them out during wet rainy weather. Several times we went out following the line looking for possible problem areas. We trimmed trees, put the line back on poles, and spliced wire connections in an effort to get the system to work better. We worked the wires as far as the mile corner west of Burden where lines from the west joined others from the north and south. That last mile to the telephone building was well maintained.
Our telephone system had special significance for us because it was Great-Grandfather Harris who was instrumental in getting the telephone system installed in Burden. So the story goes, he attended one of the World's Fairs around the turn of the last century where he saw a demonstration of a "newfangled thing" called a telephone. Since he lived in Burden and had four children and their families living near Silver Creek school, three miles west and one south of Burden, he thought telephones would be a good way to communicate with them.
He generated enough interest in a telephone system that he built a small telephone building about ten feet south of the stone city hall in Burden to house the equipment and central operator. It was a single story building approximately twenty by twenty feet constructed of concrete blocks from Grandpa Harris' cement block factory in Burden. It was razed around 1990.
Several rural lines were in use until the modern dial phones and lines were installed in the late 1960s. Since Great-Grandfather was the prime mover for the phone system he had line number one run to his children's farms. Our phone number was one F one one (1F11) which meant we were on line one and our phone range one long ring and one short ring. Aunt Blanche and Uncle Ira Powers number was 1F12 -- one long and two short rings. Aunt Mary Harris, later Levere then Carol Harris, was 1F13 and Dale Harris 1F14. Other neighbors phone numbers were either 1F2 something or 1F3 something. When the central operator wanted to communicate with everyone on the line at the same time she (it was always a lady) would ring five long rings, or if an emergency of some type, such as a pasture fire, one could also ring five long rings to let neighbors know help was needed. Sometimes one wanted to talk to a neighbor only two or three miles away but was on a different line. To connect with them one had to call the "central operator," give the phone number or name. We usually gave the operator a name as they knew everyone's number on the Burden lines.
Quite often the system worked so poorly that during long-distance calls (from another town or city) one could not hear the calling party nor make them hear you. In order to communicate a message the Burden operator would repeat everything that was said since she could hear both parties. Needless-to-say, only essential information (like death of a family relative or a yes or no to certain concerns -- no gossip) was relayed in this manner.
One always had to listen to the phone every time it rang to determine who the call was for because every time one turned the crank to call every phone on the line rang. Hence, everyone on the line knew who was receiving a call and could pick up their receiver and listen to a neighbor's conversation, which was very interesting at times. One never knew how many were "eavesdropping" but one could usually count on one or two or more. The two who seemed to eavesdrop most was Aunt Grace Ruggles and Aunt Blanche Powers. During one's conversation one could often say, "Isn't that right Aunt Grace or Aunt Blanche," and they would usually verbally respond. Sometimes in the middle of a conversation the person receiving the call or initiating the call would stop and ask the eavesdropper to hang up.
Such was our means of telephone communication.
Our first radio was an RCA table model made of dark wood about fifteen inches long, twelve inches high and ten inches deep. The tuner dial was about five inches square with what appeared to us to be a pit bull dog sitting in front of an old record player. It was powered by one 9-volt dry cell battery, which was required since we did not have electricity. We had to limit the use since the battery would run down within a few days if we were not careful. Those dry cell batteries, which were about ten inches tall, ten inches long, and three inches thick, could not be recharged. However, Uncle Bill Ruggles and some other neighbors had radios which operated by a 6-volt automobile rechargeable battery. They either recharged the battery by a "wind charger," which was a 6-volt automobile generator fitted with a fan in place of the belt pulley, mounted on a pole in the yard or on top of a building to catch wind which turned the generator to recharge the battery. Or they had two batteries with one operating the radio while the other was in town at an automotive shop being recharged. Two programs we always listened to were Bruce Beheimer, who had a farm program Monday through Friday 6:15-7:00 a.m. from KFBI in Wichita. We listened to part of it while eating breakfast. His program involved present weather and the day's outlook for Wichita, livestock market and grain prices of the previous day, as well as public sales and product information.
The other program was on about 12:15 p.m. called "National Farm and Home Hour" from Chicago. It was the same type program as Bruce Beheimer's except it gave that morning's market prices for livestock and grain. One big difference was its beginning. The program host always started with "It's a beautiful day in Chicago." If it was raining, cloudy, snowing, he always described the conditions.
On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings "The Lone Ranger" was on at 6:30 so we tried to have chores done by that time to listen to the thirty-minute program. Other programs we enjoyed were "The Green Hornet," "The Creaking Door," "Lum and Abner," "Fibber McGee and Molly," "Sergeant Preston of the Yukon," "Amos and Andy," and, of course, "The Grand Old Opry" on Saturday nights. We also listened to the St. Louis baseball games, when possible, since St. Louis was the only major league baseball team west of the Mississippi River at that time. They were all day games.
After we got electricity in late 1949 Daddy bought a converter to convert AC current to DC current which enabled use of the radio several additional years. The table we sat the radio on was actually not a table. It was approximately standard table height, three feet long and eighteen inches wide with turned legs. It was the base to a very early radio that had been Grandfather Ruggles'. The top was a rectangular box with front sloping back toward the top which was flat and about eight inches wide. Strange contours were in the sloping surface with its twelve-inch diameter, metal-with-cloth cover on the front speaker. Attached by a three-foot electrical cord it could sit on top of the radio, under it, or on a table near the radio. We destroyed the radio part to use the base as our radio table. That old radio would be valuable now.
After we converted the radio to electric power rather than a battery, we listened to it a lot more. Daddy liked to listen to the "Grand Old Opry" Saturday evening until bed time. I would continue to listen to Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl, Grandpa Scruggs, and others only to find myself asleep in the rocking chair by the radio or my head resting on the radio table. I do not know what Daddy did with the table or the radio.
We never purchased a pine or fir Christmas tree from a store or tree lot. Those trees always looked much nicer than our tree, which was really not a tree.
We had five cedar trees in the yard which were trimmed annually to keep a maximum height each of about five feet high. They were anywhere between six and ten feet in diameter. When trimming we left about a dozen vertical growing branches in the center of the southeast tree. By the time those branches were two or three years old some were up to two feet tall.
A few days before Christmas we cut the tallest branch plus six to eight smaller branches. The smaller shorter branches were tied by wire to the trunk of the largest branch which formed a small Christmas tree to sit on one of the tables. The only decorations on the small tree were a few small glass bulbs. The tree holder was always the same each year, a small cross shaped piece of wood with a hole in the center that all tree stumps had to be trimmed to fit. Obviously no parts of the tree could be watered so that by the end of the Christmas season it was very dry and sticky to remove decorations and destroy.
At the time we moved in with Grandma Lauppe the present white building northwest of the house near the well was about 150 feet east of the house. For three or four years we used it as a brooder house for baby chickens. It was so spacious and hard to heat that we quit using it for chickens. It was decided that the building could better be used as a wash house so was moved to its present location. That then permitted moving the Maytag washing machine and tubs from the west screened porch of the house. When the washing machine was on the west porch it was fairly convenient to carry hot water from the copper boiler on the kitchen wood stove to the porch, but became very inconvenient and dangerous to carry boiling water out to the smokehouse.
Late in 1947, after the butane tank was installed, a gas line was run to the smokehouse. A two-burner cast-iron open stove/hot plate, which stood about twenty inches high, was purchased to heat wash water. It sure was nice to dip hot water directly from the boiler into the washing machine. A couple years after we got electricity, September 1949, we continued to use the original Maytag gasoline engine on the washing machine, which had been in use over fifteen years. At that time we wired the smokehouse for electricity and purchased a small electric motor to power the washing machine. It sure was easy to wash -- just plug in the cord.
Our house sat at the crest of a hill which enabled us to hear lots of various kinds of sounds from the north and west. Sounds from the east were not as loud since they were partially blocked by a higher hill one-half mile east.
Early mornings, especially cold winter ones, sounds carried really well. For example, we could hear the huge superior one-cylinder gas engine used to pump ten well pumps in Texaco's oil field three-quarters of a mile west and two-and-a-quarter-miles north. Quite often we could hear the noon siren five miles away in Burden. We could hear the "doodle bugs" whistle, a one-car passenger train on the Santa Fe tracks two miles north of us every time it came to a gravel car crossing. We could not only hear its whistle but also its engine, which sounded different from the diesel electric locomotives running at that time.
It was very common to hear Uncle Ira Powers, who lived one mile north, calling his hogs, or Frank Weigle, one mile west, calling cattle for feed or banging his grain shovel on cattle feed bunks. Several times after huge rains we could hear water running down Silver Creek one mile east. In 1951 we got so much rain Silver Creek "roared" for several days.
For several years we were the only farmers to have a John Deere tractor. Most days when one of us was working in a field at the other farm one and one-half to two miles away we could hear the tractor running from home. After Uncle Bill Ruggles bought a John Deere "A" like ours, then moved to a farm adjacent to our other place, we were never sure which tractor was running. After we got the WD 45 Allis Chalmers we could not distinguish its sound from all the other four-cylinder tractors in our neighborhood.
Many nights, especially in the summertime, after going to bed, we could hear coyotes in the big pasture southeast of the house. It was not uncommon to hear them barking or howling, then after they stopped a few seconds later another pack of coyotes would answer. Some nights our dogs barked most of the nights at the coyotes; in fact they would also howl with the coyotes.
We had two types of owls which were heard quite often at night. Hoot owls were the most prevalent. They seemed to hoot more just at dusk and early evening whereas the screech owls were heard more often a couple hours or so after darkness.
The early 1950s saw a lot of drilling for oil, in the southwest quarter of the section, one-and-a-half miles west, then south of us. The major portion of it was under Uncle Glenn and Babe's farm. An offset well was drilled across the fence east of Uncle Glenn's on the Holly farm. That well proved to be quite different from all the approximately fifteen wells drilled within a mile radius. Not only did it produce oil, but also it produced a tremendous amount of gas with pressure sufficient to blow oil fifty to sixty feet in the air.
Gas was under such a high pressure that it took several weeks to figure out how to cap the well and use its gas. After the drilling rig was moved away from the well, escaping gas was ignited with flames shooting approximately forty feet or higher. Flames could be seen from our house and at night they lit up the surrounding area for miles around with a reddish-yellow glow, while at the same time sounding like a jet plane taking off. At one point they tried to cap the twelve-inch steel casing with a cap and gage registering 1,000 pounds, according to the story, when pressure exceeded the gauge reading it stripped threads off the casing and blew the cap. Finally it was capped, an action which seemed to create dead silence in the neighborhood for awhile. Just think of all the wasted gas -- enough to heat many homes for many years.
Often we could hear jet engines running on the test stands at the General Electric overhaul plant at Strother Field, south of Winfield, at least twenty-three miles away.
Birds provided a variety of cheerful sounds. There were sparrows, robins, turtle doves, woodpeckers, bob white, mocking birds, wrens, humming birds, and others. The woodpeckers liked to peck a hole in the dead part of the huge maple tree about ten feet east of the house, so every spring they were busy hollowing out a new nest plus pecking for worms.
For several summers a mocking bird returned to her nest about six feet west of the southwest porch, in the rose trellis arc which covered the sidewalk. She could imitate several other birds. So when we heard a bird singing for a short time, stop, then in a few seconds sound like another bird coming from the same location, we knew it was the mocking bird. When she had babies one had to be careful while in the yard because she would "dive bomb" the top of one's head. She made it particularly miserable for cats between the house and the barn.
Summer evenings when the flock of turkeys had not returned from hunting it required us to look for them. They were difficult to find in the tall grass, grain, and weeds. Many times we heard a sound like the turkeys which turned out to be a wild bird of some kind. We never did know what kind. We were disappointed many times when we thought the turkeys were located only to be fooled by birds.
Summer mornings about dawn when bedroom windows were open, even though one was trying to sleep, roosters would start crowing. It was neat to hear them yet disgusting when one was trying to sleep. They were alarm clocks that time of the year.
For a few years during the war we had a team of mules, Jack and Joker, who liked to bray at times but nothing like Uncle Bill's old donkey, who brayed a lot of mornings.
After one of the milk cows had a calf we let the calf nurse for about a week before taking them off the cow. At that time we started milking the cow and slowly taught her calf to drink milk from a bucket. We taught them to drink by pouring about a quart of fresh milk in a two and one-half gallon bucket, sticking our hands in the milk and forcing the calf's nose in the milk. We then stuck two or three fingers in its mouth. Some would learn to suck within two to three tries mornings and evenings, whereas others learned over a period of four or five days. Once they were sucking well we removed our fingers and they would then drink. Sometimes the cows would not bawl when her calf was taken away yet others would stay at the barn and bawl most of the day. Some neighbors claimed we tried to wean the calf in the wrong sign of the moon. Whatever the reason, sometimes the cow missed her calf and other times very little.
Needless-to-say, sounds were many and varied with horses, mules, cows, pigs, sheep, chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, and banty (bantam) chickens, plus sounds from the surrounding area. All of which made life on the farm interesting.
One early Sunday summer morning about 10:00 a.m. I was walking down to the stock tank and well west of the barns when I heard a loud boom. It must have been during World War II as we did not attend Tisdale Church on a regular basis as prior to the war and afterwards. Daddy and Dwain were both outside and heard the loud noise. We wondered what had made the noise but not for long as a general ring on our telephone system informed all that Dean Miller's barn was on fire. We jumped in the car and drove two and one-half miles west and one-half mile south to the Millers to see if we could help. Quite a number of neighbors were standing around watching the large barn burn because it was too late to save it. The loud boom we heard occurred when the hay loft of the barn actually exploded and blew the large sling barn door forty feet away from the barn. The explosion and fire were caused by baling alfalfa hay too green, not dry enough, then stacking it in the barn the two previous days.
On another summer Sunday morning we had attended Sunday School and church services at Tisdale church, five miles southwest of home. Near the end of the 11:00 a.m. church services a violent summer storm, including hail, hit. I recalled we got wet between church and the car. When we were two and one-half miles from home we observed a building fire. We realized, when one mile east and one-quarter mile south of Aunt Babe and Uncle Glenn's, that it was one of their buildings. We drove to their house to arrive before they had returned from church at Tisdale. Again it was too late to save anything. Lightning had struck the small shed which housed both of Uncle Glenn's International tractors. The newest one, an "M" was totally destroyed and the "H" which was pulled in the shed as far as possible, which was half way, was damaged extensively. Lightning struck the shed even though it was in a wooded area.
Quite often during storms we went to the cellar just east of the house. One summer night around 10:00 p.m. a severe storm came up from the northwest so we lit a lantern and went to the cellar. After the storm finally blew over we noticed a bright red glow in the sky north of us. It was Ben Drury's large red farm barn, which had been struck by lightning, one-half mile west and two miles north of us. We did not go to investigate as Daddy said with that big of a fire it would be too late to help in any way.
Actually the only club we joined was the Burden 4-H Club. I was thirteen and an eighth grader at Silver Creek school that first year in the club. During the five years of membership club meetings were held either in Burden High School or Burden City Hall.
Hogs were my only project each year. We did not take beef as a project because of the high cost of purchasing a calf versus a weaning-size hog, which cost us $25 each. Daddy thought that was an outlandish price when a dozen years earlier, during the Depression, when he could find a buyer for his pigs, he received 25˘ each for the same size pigs.
The first year was the most memorable. That year I bought a Duroc six-week old pig from Wayne Cranston who lived south of Tisdale. He did really well with weight gain, weighing 210-220 pounds by Burden Fair time in late August. We got up early the first day of the fair, loaded him in the grain trailer and headed for the fair about 7:00 a.m. Hog judging started around 9:30 a.m. that hot August morning. Following the judging all the hot hogs were put back in their pens. My pig was hot so we sponged him down with cool water and poured it in straw and on the ground of his pen to help cool him off since hogs do not sweat.
Daddy went home and I went downtown with a couple other 4-H'ers. We were gone about an hour. When returning to the fair grounds, I was informed they had been looking for me to tell me my pig had died. Needless-to-say I was upset. I really did not know what to do since there was no need for me to stay at the fair until my parents came in that evening after chores and supper. So I walked back downtown to the telephone office and called home to tell them the sad news. Daddy came in about two hours later to pick me up. On the way home we stopped at Silver Creek school to talk with Cousin Lavere Harris who was working on the merry-go-round. They discussed my pig and agreed that it was heat that had killed him.
I got to go back to the fair the following two days and was aware that those attending horse races and the rodeo were asked to contribute to help pay me for my pig. As I recall $35 was contributed which was about market value for a 200-250 pound hog.
A couple of years later during a 4-H project tour Dwain and my pigs were in the big west hog lot. We ran them some on that hot July day, to put them in a smaller area so everyone could view them when they arrived at our house. We tried to be real careful and not run them but did run them too much which caused Dwain's pig to die of the heat. He did not receive any money to cover the loss of his hog.
I was elected President of the Club in either 1950-51 or 1951-52. The first meeting or two was very difficult to get up in front of a crowd. It was good for me. In 1950 I was elected to represent the Club at 4-H Round-Up at Kansas State College in Manhattan.
A lady from the Winfield area took several of us to Manhattan in her new Desoto car. On the second morning I got up with a slight fever and broken out with something all over my body. They sent me to the hospital where I was checked over, then sent back to the barracks where we slept, to wait until the County 4-H agent from Cowley County came to pick me up and take me home. He arrived mid-afternoon.
About half way back to Winfield he stopped the 1950 Ford in a small town where he knew the medical doctor, to check me. It was after office hours so the doctor met us at his office, checked me over, and indicated he thought I had the three-day measles. That must have been so because a couple of days after arriving home I felt fine. I had no fever or signs of measles.
Each summer a county-wide 4-H picnic was held at Island Park in Winfield. Besides games and food the highlight was free swimming at Winfield's swimming pool just outside the park entrance. I was really disappointed at one of those picnics because pool personnel would not let me swim. That was the summer the team of colts ran away with me and the mowing machine a couple of days before the picnic. My face, left arm, and chest were one big scab because of my slide in the grass when I flew off the mower.
Usually when hogs did not receive a blue or champion ribbon at the Burden Fair they did not do as good at the Cowley County Fair in Winfield because of many more hogs in their class. For that reason we only took our 4-H pigs to the Cowley County Fair one time. As I recall we only got red ribbons there.
Although it was not a club, I was planning to go to church camp one summer at Camp Horizon, east of Arkansas City. Prior to attending a physical examination was required. I went to Dr. Brooks in Burden who told me it would not do me any good to attend as they would just send me home because of a bad case of "athlete's foot." As a result I never attended any church camps and only about one-third of 4-H Round Up. At this writing I still have athlete's foot fungus on my left foot which has not been cured by daily medication since seeing Dr. Brooks.
I dropped out of 4-H after my senior year in high school. 4-H was a good learning experience. I am sure the 4-H motto, "to make the best better," has influenced my thinking and actions since.
Playing with neighbor's kids. Although were busy working most days during the summer some time was provided for fun and games. Prior to reaching age twelve, when Daddy expected me to work all day in the field with horses or the tractor, we went about once a week for two hours during afternoons to play with cousins or neighbor boys, or someone came to play with us.
Our fun and games varied depending who we visited or whether we had guests. Most places we tried to play some baseball or if not enough guys to play baseball, a game called "work up" which was a version of baseball. We usually walked to most places. However, Old Silver was ridden sometimes, usually when we went much over a mile from home, like Jerry Collins' house, who lived in the Texaco oil fields, two miles north.
Cousins Maurice and Melvin Ruggles lived approximately one mile east of us on Perry Miller's farm which had Silver Creek running through the east portion of the farm. Most of the time we took our tree branch fishing poles and after various games would go down to the creek and fish for a while. We never did catch any large fish, just small sun perch and catfish which we threw back in the creek. When we got tired of fishing, even though we were instructed to stay out of the water, we stripped off our overalls, as that was all we were wearing, and went swimming. Although we never had a formal swimming lesson we learned to swim those many times we got tired of fishing and went swimming.
It sure was fun to swim on those hot summer afternoons but we always had to be on guard because of the water moccasin snakes who shared a swimming hole with us. Usually they would swim away from us. When they got too close we threw rocks at them which always changed their swimming direction. One of our swimming holes, which was at a bend in the creek was approximately thirty feet wide and about 100 feet long, which terminated in a large gravel bar with water running four to six inches deep. A huge elm tree stood at the water's edge just on the inside bend of the creek to which we mounted a 2" x 12" plank about five feet high over the water which was our diving board. High in the tree, directly above our diving board, we hung a cable with a large ring on it. We could then swing out and drop in the deepest part of our swimming hole.
Besides snakes, another thing I had to watch out for was poison ivy. It grew thick in some places along the creek banks in the shade of many trees lining the creek. Until I learned to recognize the ivy, many times I had itchy red patches of skin and sometimes blisters on my feet and legs. After learning to recognize the ivy plants and I happened to come in contact with them I could wash my suspected contact area with kerosene later that day and avoid breaking out and itching.
A couple of summers we swam immediately north of the high bridge which crossed Silver Creek east of our house. It also was at a bend in the creek, was larger than our swimming hole, about one quarter mile down the creek, and had a solid rock bottom. It was totally in the open, except for a large patch of eight- to ten-foot-high horse weeds along the east bank. Since the Bair girls and others swam at the same time as us guys, two dressing areas were cleared in the weeds.
Water in the creek was always cold as the creek was fed by several springs and the water was in the shade most of the time. It was pure torture to force oneself to get into the water for the first time each swim. We had lots of fun swimming in the cold water.
Walking the one and a half miles home on those hot summer afternoons when the graveled road was hot on feet made us dance part of the way home. However we were always ready to go swimming at every opportunity. Prior to the time we were old enough to go swimming by ourselves, following a Sunday afternoon nap (when it is nearly impossible to sleep when excited about going swimming), Mother and Daddy would take us kids to Silver Creek for a swim. Sometimes Daddy would swim with us but Mother would only wade in the shallow water as it crossed a gravel bar. She claimed she about drowned when swimming as a small girl and was now afraid of deep water.
One time Daddy went in when he had not planned as Dwain stepped in a deep hole over his head and went under several times before Daddy, fully clothed, could get to him.
Spring. Another interesting spot we liked to visit and play around was the large spring in Perry Miller's pasture. It was located approximately one mile southeast of our house, which was only reachable for us by foot as Perry ran cattle in the pasture and kept gates closed. The terrain was also too rough to get very close with a vehicle.
The spring was located in the west bank of a deep draw/creek. Water ran from between two stones which are approximately eighteen inches apart at the opening and tapered to what appears to be no separation. This crack is about ten feet high. Cold water runs swiftly from the crack approximately eight inches deep. A stone wall fence has been laid about forty to fifty feet away from the spring opening to prevent livestock from getting into the mouth of the spring. Spring water runs under the stone wall. A stock water tank is on the lower side of the stone wall near the stream of water. A two inch pipe extends from the tank upstream near the mouth of the spring which provided a constant full stream of water into the stock tanks.
At some time in the long distant past, the spring's mouth was totally covered by huge tick overhanging stones. The south portion had fallen long ago. The north portion overhung about eight feet with a rock shelf under it with hundreds of small stones with individuals names and dates scratched into the surfaces. We found stones and did the same as those many before us. The oldest dated rocks were from the 1870s. The last time I was at the spring, approximately 1990, the large overhanging rock had fallen which covered the rock ledge holding all those names on stones.
In approximately the mid-to-late-1940s we attended a large Sunday dinner of several Tisdale friends at Uncle Bill and Aunt Grace's home. After lunch all of us guys walked to the big spring to play. After playing around the spring and climbing over the big rocks for a long time someone suggested we choose up sides and have a walnut fight as several walnut trees were growing along the spring water branch, which were dropping their green walnuts.
The team I was on was high above the spring behind the huge overhanging stone that had fallen. The other team was at or near spring level and under the large north overhanging rock. Cousins Maurice and Melvin Ruggles and Curtis Miller, brother Dwain, Merle Glass, and myself plus two or three others, unknown now, made up the teams. At one point after we had been throwing at each other for quite a while, I threw one toward Merle Glass as I could just see his back over the top of a large stone. While the walnut was in mid air, he raised his head slightly above the stone just in time to get a direct hit in the left eye. Needless-to-say that ended our play at the spring and for the rest of that afternoon as parents had been looking for us so all could head home. By the time we walked back to Uncle Bill's, Merle had a very black eye and I was in trouble again because it was a few days earlier when I threw a walnut and gave Dwain a black eye during one of our walnut fights.
Those sure were fun times when a bunch of us were able to play together at frequent big Sunday dinners.
Hay mow. Every summer several hundreds of the nearly 1,200 bales of native bluestem grass from the "other place" were stored in the hay mow of the big flat barn at home. During winter, when it was too cold to play outside and some of the guys came to play with us, tunnels were built in the stacked hay. We created the tunnels by removing neatly stacked bales, placing boards over the cavity, then placing bales on the boards to hide the tunnels. We started the tunnel near the ladder at the northwest corner of the mow and zig-zagged to the southeast corner where we had a hideout room about six feet square, three feet high. The hideout was built against the south wall of the barn which permitted a lighted hideout as light would come through spaces between the vertical barn board siding. The tunnel was totally dark for its approximately thirty feet, which had several turns, pits and dead ends. One could be crawling in it and fall into a pit, which usually had an opening out of it either at floor level, halfway up the side, or near the top. Sure was fun to get a stranger in the tunnel and see how long it took him to find the correct path and get to the hideout.
Daddy was upset at us several times when trying to estimate the number of bales remaining because he often sold more bales than he had in the hay mow.
Basketball. Around 1945 or 1946 Winfield started a church league basketball program on a week night. Tisdale Church had several teams covering various age groups, one on which Dwain and I played. Our practice was held in the south room of the two room church building. It was a high ceiling, one story room where Sunday School classes were held. To have practice we shoved all the tables and chairs to one side and practiced in the leftover space. We could not practice very long shots because of the low ceiling. Games were played in either of the two small gyms at old Winfield High at 9th and Bliss Street.
Daddy took us to Winfield in the 1935 Chevy sedan which did not have any anti-freeze in the radiator or a thermostat. We always drove with cardboard or a burlap sack in front of the radiator to keep it from freezing and also make the heater put out warmer air. Sometimes when it was very cold Daddy drained water out of the radiator when we arrived at the high school, then refilled it after our game. One night he did not drain it which was a mistake. We started home but before we got to the eastern edge of town the engine was very hot, and Daddy stopped at Aunt Urdeen and Uncle Art's house, at 1919 Central, got them out of bed, and heated water to boiling to pour over the frozen radiator which thawed it in a few minutes.
The car did not have a defroster for its windshield so in cold weather it was always a major task to keep the windshield from fogging up or freezing over during real cold weather. During those cold nights when windows frosted over we had fun scraping or writing in the frost with our fingernails.
Those basketball games were fun times even though we lost more games than we won, as referred to in Part I.
Drilling for Oil. Texaco Oil Company had a producing oil field two miles north of us with fifteen to twenty producing wells, each of which had a steel eighty-foot-high derrick over it.
In third grade Jerry Collins, whose father, "Pop." was the pumper for all those wells, started attending Silver Creek School. Two things we always enjoyed doing when going up to play with Jerry were to climb to the top of those derricks, walk around on the wood platform where we could see for many miles and to see who could throw rocks, which we carried up in our pockets, the farthest. Also, we always went into the large "pump house" which had a large one-cylinder Superior engine with two six-feet diameter flywheels, a foot-wide flat belt driving a twelve-foot diameter wheel pulley mounted in a horizontal position about a foot above the floor with eccentrics attached below it with long steel rods lying on the ground operating oil well pumps nearly a mile away. Pop was very particular as to who entered the pump house. When one's shoes were muddy they had to be removed at the door and left outside on the small porch.
By living in the oil field, Collins' house and out buildings were heated with natural gas. Pop had a heated shop and a large corrugated metal building where he kept a lot of tools for pumps and his 1928 or 1929 Model "A" Roadster, his lease car. That building had a large homemade stove of two feet diameter steel casing standing on end about six feet high. Even though the building's west doors were never closed the stove put out such intense heat his car was always warm where he parked it close to the stove. This sure was an excellent place for us to warm up on cold days.
Another pleasant building to visit during the cold winter months was the fanciest outhouse in our neighborhood, maybe in Cowley County. Our old outhouse had concrete floor and a built up concrete platform for the seat with exterior vertical twelve inch side boards with cracks between boards. It was very breezy and cold during the winter with snow blowing in during snow storms. However, our outhouse was better than most of our neighbor's outhouses which were constructed 100 percent of wood which made them more breezy and stinky. None of them were painted inside. The Collins' outhouse was deluxe, all wood construction with two seat levels; one for kids, was weather tight, had two small glass windows, had linoleum on the floor, was painted white inside, and best of all, had a gas stove which kept it warm and cozy. What luxury!!
Most of those wells in the Texaco field were drilled by "cable tool" equipment which punched a hole in the earth by dropping a heavy chisel-pointed six-to-eight-inch diameter steel bit weighing several hundred pounds. The bit was suspended from a heavy steel cable attached to a cam which raised the bit several inches, then dropped it suddenly. It usually took four to six weeks to drill 3,300 to 3,500 feet below ground surface. The cable mechanism was driven by a relatively small gasoline engine, like a truck engine. The most interesting part of stopping and watching the drilling operation was to see a very hot blazing forge heating a dull drill bit. After a long time when the bit was cherry red, it was removed from the fire and reshaped to a chisel point by one of the drillers using a heavy, approximately fifteen pound sledge hammer. Every time the sledge hammer hit the bit red sparks flew from the point of contact. Usually the bit had to be heated one or more times before it was shaped correctly. A special made bucket called a "bailer" was used to take water out of the drill hole. The water was dumped into a dug pit called a slush pond.
After World War II drillers used a new type of drilling equipment: a "rotary" drilling rig which operated on a totally different principle of drilling. It used a large diesel engine to turn a cutting bit six to eight inches in diameter attached to a hollow heavy steel pipe. Another large diesel engine drove pumps which forced water and a type of mud used to seal water out of the drill hole down the center of the drill stem. That water then raised to the top of the drill hole carrying drill cuttings with it. Water and cuttings flowed into a large pond where settling occurred. Clear water then drained into two or three smaller ponds prior to being pumped back into the well again. This drilling method usually required six to ten days for over 3,000 feet.
We liked to stop and observe the drillers changing drill bits with those large pipe wrenches suspended by cables with a chain attached to the handle which allowed machine power to loosen or tighten joints between each section of drill stem, and watch the total drilling operations including sitting in their warm drilling "dog shack" and listen to them tell about drilling.
One well was drilled on the home place in the small pasture northwest of the buildings and either two or three wells in the south half of the east eighty at the other place. One of those wells produced oil for a short time. All wells drilled on Grandma's farm were with rotary equipment. The well drilled on the home place was early- to mid-1950s and those at the other place early- to mid-1960s. During a twenty year period, 1945-65, many wells were drilled in our area searching for oil. One could see lights on drilling rigs many miles away at night.
Tree Climbing. When we were kids a row of five large elm trees were in the yard starting west of the house and running south to the road. Several other elms were also south and southwest of the house. We could climb every one of those trees easily with the exception of the one south of the house. One time Dwain was climbing it, lost his hold and fell approximately ten feet landing on his back. He was not injured much except he did bite a hole through his tongue. Those wonderful big elms all succumbed to the Dutch Elm disease which swept through Kansas in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
West of the barn in the south hog hot by the draw running through it were six very large cottonwood trees, all of which were too large for us to climb. One of those trees had a long overhanging branch growing out of the trunk approximately twenty feet above ground with its lowest end about four feet above ground. It sure was fun to climb on that limb near the bottom end and have someone to bounce it or pull it back and forth.
Fairs. Prior to moving from the Tisdale community we attended the Cowley County Fair in Winfield one day of the fair each year. We took in the afternoon program held in front of the large grandstand which was sulky races with trotting horses. Following the races we looked at all the many various kinds of exhibits, including livestock, crops, race horses, and dealer's displays. Next we ate our evening picnic meal on a spread out blanket in the grassed center of the race track. Our evening was then spent attending the evening performance in front of the grandstand and later riding the merry-go-round.
Following our move and during World War II we did not attend that fair. After the war we started attending again, only it was for an afternoon or evening, not all day as previously. One year we displayed our 4-H hogs at the fair. I do not remember now what color ribbon we received. One summer I worked part-time for our neighbor, Curtis Unger, who ran a Brown Swiss dairy. He exhibited several of his cattle at the fair. I was assigned the responsibility of spending each of the three nights sleeping in the exhibit barn with his cattle which was not very restful (Burden Fair).
Since the annual Burden Fair was less than five miles from home we attended it annually. It was much smaller in size but had just as exciting activities. Afternoon activities included up to eight horse races with the jockey on the horse, a country and western swing band, Johnnie Lee Wells, who also played for the dance each of the three Fair nights. Each evening a rodeo was held in front of the grandstand on the race track. Several years later a rodeo arena was built in the center of the race track.
The area under the grandstand was enclosed, with the north half full of 4-H club booths featuring individual food and clothing projects. The south half was full of merchants' product displays. Southeast of the grandstand were three open barns. Two were for displaying 4-H livestock and the east one was for race horses. East of the grandstand (behind) and north of the barns the carnival and rides were set up.
After joining the Burden 4-H Club we displayed our 4-H hogs each year at the Fair. The first year proved disastrous for me. That year my hog died.
During those Fair years all soda pop was sold in glass recyclable bottles. When bottles were empty, they were dropped below the rodeo bleachers or left on grandstand seats. To earn some money for pop, candy, or the carnival I picked up bottles and traded them in at the Burden High School senior concession stand for two cents a bottle. One night I was picking up bottles and encountered another kid under the same bleachers picking up bottles. We decided to team up and work together. We each had a wood bottle crate which held twenty-four bottles plus about six more stacked on top of those in the slots. We filled two crates plus all we could get on top, sold those and went back looking for more. We finally found enough to fill our two crates a second time. After we sold the first batch of bottles he said he would hold all money and we would divide it after selling our last batch. Immediately after selling our last batch and he had all the money he turned from the concession stand and ran off into the crowded carnival midway. I pursued him but soon lost him in the crowd. I never saw that kid again and learned that night not to trust those one does not know. My share of the pop bottle money was approximately $1.20.
We always looked forward to the Fairs, especially the carnival with its merry-go-round and as we were older, the ferris wheel. I suppose, like most kids, we did not get as many rides as we wanted because of limited funds. Each time parents entered the Burden Fairgrounds an admission was charged. However, 4-H kids got in free. Winfield Fair was free to the grounds and carnival but an admission fee was charged to all performances in front of the grandstand.
Races. I always watched with great interest horse races at the Burden Fair and enjoyed arguing with others about which horse had won a close race. The first years of watching races judges were used to determine the winner of each race. In the later years a camera was used to determine the winner. The only real problem with that method was waiting several minutes for the film to be developed since this predated the Polaroid instamatic camera and video replay.
Races I enjoyed most were the stock car races in front of the grandstand at Winfield's Fairground. While I was in college at Arkansas City Junior College and at Southwestern in Winfield most of the cars used for racing were 1933-35 Fords with
V-8 engines or 6-cylinder Chevrolets. Usually the Fords won but it was always interesting to watch races as the Chevrolets were faster coming out of the turn and one-half to three-quarters down the straight-of-way when the Fords would catch up and pass them.
One day when I was watching a race a wheel came off one of the race cars while rounding the northeast turn. That tire and wheel went bouncing northwest into the public parking lot where it was visible at one point above those tall old elm trees. Another year or so later while watching a race I saw a car lose a wheel while rounding the south turn. We in the grandstand saw the wheel rolling east toward the Santa Fe Railroad tracks, which are on top of the river levy approximately 600-800 yards from the race track where a large group of people were sitting on the steep bank watching the races. Although it was not apparent from the grandstand we learned later a small boy approximately five years old had been fatally injured by that rolling wheel. The family was American Indian with seven children who lived on Uncle Deam's farm.
Since leaving Winfield I have watched only one auto race which was in Topeka during the 1960s.
Picnics. Picnics were not very common in our neighborhood except that we did go to Island Park in Winfield several times each summer, not as a single family outing, but during some organization outing, family dinners, 4-H club occasion, etc. We always liked the Island Park picnics because we got to see animals in cages, ride the merry-go-round, swing on the high swings, slide down those slippery slides, play in the big amphitheater building and cross the foot bridge to the stone restrooms. We usually got to go swimming in the Winfield public pool just outside the park entrance. We always swam in the newer pool on the west side of the street as it was for "whites." The older pool on the east side of the street was for "blacks" which must have been removed in the early- to mid-1940s. Blacks and whites then swam in the same pool.
One particular picnic I remember well is the one our high school freshman class held in the fall of 1949. It was on Rock Creek north of Winfield. We guys were skipping flat rocks on the water when I picked up another rock to throw. Just before throwing it I realized it was strangely shaped. On close examination it turned out to be an arrowhead, the only one I have ever found, even though I have skipped many rocks at Silver Creek.
Henderson's Drug Store. Evenings when in Burden we all hung out around Henderson's Drug Store at the north end of the main block downtown. My favorite drink which I always ordered from the soda fountain was a cherry coke. Besides drugs and the soda fountain, Ralph Henderson (owner) sold school supplies and all textbooks used at the schools in Burden. He bought back books after school was out and resold them each fall which meant many books were used several years, and they looked like it! Because of financial reasons we sold our books after school was out each spring. Hence I have very few books used while in school.
Windmills. Several summers Dwain and I made things we called "windmills." We used a piece of pinewood approximately three-eighths-inch thick, three-quarters of an inch wide, and four to six inches long. We whittled them to the shape of an airplane propeller and drilled a hole near its center for a nail. We drove the nail into the end of a six inch length of half inch diameter tree limb which had been sharpened to a point about three sixteenth of an inch in diameter. The stick served as a handle. We were now ready to try them out by holding them out a rear window of the car when we went someplace. We sometimes fought over the side of the car on which to hold our airplanes as there was usually more wind on one side than the other. When our airplane would not turn fast or vibrated a lot we modified it in the shop, then waited until traveling again to see if the alterations had improved its speed and smoothness. When working properly the revolutions per minute must have been several hundred as it produced a sound like a real airplane propeller. After several trips turning at the high rpms the nail hole would wear so large the propeller would not turn or on occasion would fly off the nail/spindle while spinning. Besides the hand held airplanes we made a couple of airplanes with wings and tails which were mounted on fence posts separating the yard from the cow lot north of the barn. They actually looked like planes with fuselage approximately a foot long, two wings, one approximately eight inches long and the back one about four inches long with a tin can cut into the shape of a tail. They had a propeller four to six inches long. A hole was drilled in the fuselage for a nail that was driven into the top of a fence post. By observing those planes we could determine wind direction and strength. They were better indicators of wind speed because the windmills were usually turned off which prevented the wheel from turning, whereas the airplane propellers would turn anytime there was a breeze.
The day before Thanksgiving 1946 was an unusual school day in that we started our first family vacation. Dwain and I had never missed a day of school other than for sickness before that day. Our vacation was for four days spent visiting Aunt Etta and Uncle Alta Lauppe and cousins near Meade, Kansas. Dwain and I did not go to school on Wednesday. But we did stop at Silver Creek school long enough to deliver eggs to Mrs. Casey, our teacher, who bought fresh eggs from us. We went in our 1935 black two-door Chevrolet sedan.
In late August 1949 we started our second vacation. The first night out on our way to Illinois we stayed with a lady and her mother, Minnie Lauppe, near Nevada, Missouri. The lady's husband was John Harris, who was not related to Great-Grandfather John Harris. We stopped to visit with Minnie who was very small and elderly. Her father-in-law came to the United States from Germany with my great-grandfather and his family.
The second night out we stopped after dark in northern Missouri at a place that had several old wood cabins setting on a stone piers, with one common bath facility. Our cabin was a two room, no-screen-door version. Mother and Daddy slept in the west smaller room, and Darlene, Grandma, Dwain, and I in the east room with Dwain and I on the gray-flowered linoleum floor on a sheet. It was too hot to keep the doors closed so we slept with the doors open and fought mosquitoes and lots of noise all night long.
While visiting Aunt Olive, Uncle Charles, and Marjorie Moore In Ottawa, Illinois, we saw many points of interest, riding part of the time in their green 1947 Hudson. On a Sunday, or Labor Day, we went to Chicago's Natural Science Museum on Lake Shore Drive. There we saw our first submarine, which had been captured from the Germans during World War II.
On our way back to Kansas one night was spent in Mexico, Missouri, which seemed like a strange city name since we were used to the country of Mexico. On the second of the two driving days we passed a guy driving a Model "T" Ford with the top down and his left leg hanging over the left side. Later we stopped to use the restroom and get pop. While there, the Model "T" went chugging by. Quite a few miles later we passed him again. We stopped along the highway under a large tree for lunch, and while eating lunch the "T" passed us again. Later in the afternoon we passed that "T" again, for the final time, before we arrived in Topeka. While in Topeka we visited the State Historical Museum and Kansas Capital. The Governor was not in but we did get to sit in his chair behind the large desk and see the large mural of John Brown in the governor's office.
We decided to drive home that night. Several detours were required over gravel roads, and it was midnight when we arrived home. Aunt Mary Harris and her grandson Charles Harris did our chores while we were on vacation. When they heard us drive in they got out of bed and "turned the lights on." From the car we could not believe our eyes as we had never seen so much light coming through windows in that old house. About that time Charles turned on the yard light, which further surprised us with so much light.
The house and outbuilding had been wired for electricity for approximately two years while we awaited the Rural Electrification Association (REA) to install electric lines from Cedar Vale to our neighborhood. Electricity had finally arrived while we were vacationing.
That's when kerosene lamps and barn lanterns were retired, as well as the gasoline engines used to power the Maytag washing machine, milking machine, and pump jack at the stock water well. It also ended one of my weekly chores -- cleaning soot from kerosene lights and lantern chimneys and filling them with kerosene.
Electricity at home was a perfect ending to our second and last family vacation.
In April 1947, right after school was out, Dwain and I went to northern New Mexico with Lewis Bada, husband of Mother's cousin Helen Smith. He was going to help his parents celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary.
We went in a green 1936 Plymouth coupe which was about worn out. Lewis picked us up at 2:00 a.m. I think he had planned to drive down in one day, but driving forty-five miles per hour and even slower on those "washboard" graveled roads and a car breakdown meant an overnight in Tucumcari, New Mexico. The car must have been in a garage most of the afternoon at some small town in northern Texas. We arrived about mid-afternoon of the second day at his brother's ranch, south of Springler, which was where Lewis and his brothers and sisters were raised. We slept upstairs in a single "T" shaped room. The next day Lewis took Dwain and I on a sightseeing tour of that area of New Mexico. Driving north we drove into a low mountainous area where it appeared that water ran uphill. We crossed a river many times on our way to the Taos Indian Pueblo, which was our first time to see Native Americans. The Pueblo was interesting in that the old part was two and three stories high with outside ladders leading to various levels and round domed ovens outside in the yard. Running through the grounds was a small creek with a modern school building across the creek, with many playing pupils.
On the way up to the Pueblo Lewis stopped and bought food to make sandwiches so we had a picnic lunch. Not long after we ate I vomited. A day or so before we started on the trip I developed a dull pain in my chest area, which I attributed to trying to jump higher and higher over the garden fence. After vomiting I felt perfectly fine the balance of the trip. I now believe the pain in my chest was caused by anxiety as I have had that same feeling since on several occasions when under stress. The next day was the fiftieth wedding anniversary celebration for Mr. & Mrs. Bada at the ranch, which lasted all day. All of Lewis' brothers and sisters were in attendance with their families. One difference between their celebration and those I had attended in Kansas was that nearly everyone, including ten year olds, drank beer which had been iced down in several wash tubs. Lewis made the statement that his parents were different from ours because "they came to this country with their pants on." Our return home was made in one very long uneventful day.
We essentially referred to other farmers who lived within a five mile radius of our home as neighbors. Of course, the closer they lived to us the better we knew them. We knew many who did not live within five miles. When we moved from the Tisdale community we continued to make contact with many former neighbors, especially those who attended Tisdale Methodist Church.
The closest neighbors were Mr. and Mrs. Max Rotha, who lived slightly less than one-half mile west of us on the corner in a small one-and-a-half story white frame house. Mrs. Rotha did not leave home often and was the only lady in the neighborhood who always wore ankle length dresses. She always had a large garden that included German peas which grew to the top of their four foot high woven-wire garden fence. She introduced us to those peas which had edible pods. She did not pay much attention to us kids, at least not nearly as much as Max. Max would stop and give us kids a ride to school or the corner when he happened to be going down the road while we were walking.
We visited several times with them evenings during winter after chores were completed. They only heated the kitchen of their small house so we kids were confined to a small area with very little to do but try to stay quiet while Daddy visited with Max and Mother with Mrs. Rotha. In one respect it was neat to visit them because they had the best lit house of all neighbors. Their light was a pressure gasoline which had two cloth mantels that required pumping air into the gasoline tank frequently. As the gas burned it produced a hissing sound much as gasoline camping lanterns. It produced a white light and more candle power than our yellow kerosene burning lamps.
Max was at our house many times for various reasons. At times they bought eggs, milk, cream and even fryers. He always greeted us by saying, "Hi Mr. Harold, Hi Mr. Merrill or Hi Mr. Dwain."
Daddy had Max stack loose alfalfa in large stacks in the field and wheat or oats in large stacks which was threshed later in early fall. Two things occurred at times Max was stacking. The first occurred on a Saturday early summer 1943 or 1944. We seldom went to Burden on Saturday night so it was a special treat when we did go. We were planning to go that night. We were nearing completion when Max was topping out the stack around 5:00 p.m. when an ugly black cloud appeared in the northeast. We had just barely finished stacking all the alfalfa and getting the horses in the barn when a storm hit with wind, heavy rain and hail. Prior to leaving the field we saw a tornado funnel cloud, my first. It rained so much my parents decided not to go to town which was very disappointing. We read in the paper later where a farmer and his wife had been killed by the tornado near Mulvane.
The second incident occurred either later that summer or the next when stacking wheat or oat bundles in two large stacks at the other place. Lavere Harris was placing bundles on his hayrack, which were then hauled to the stacks which Max was building. Lavere had stacked bundles to maximum height at the rear of the rack. Dwain and I, and I think some other kid or kids, probably Jack and Bill Harris, were riding on the hay rack. We were on top of the bundles at the back of the load while Lavere was placing bundles on the front. Dwain was standing at the very back of the load facing toward the front of the wagon. When all the bundles from one shock were on the rack Lavere started to drive to the next shock. When the horses started it was with a sudden jerk and off Dwain went backwards. We hollered for Lavere to stop. He had no sooner stopped than Dwain came crawling up the back of the rack and on top of the load apparently uninjured. He had fallen approximately eight to nine feet. Fortunately the ground was fairly loose and soft. That makes one think about how often kids escaped serious injury so often.
Max did all his farming with horses. When he plowed the field south of our house Dwain followed immediately behind the plow walking in the plow furrow asking questions and talking to Max. Max apparently enjoyed it as I do not recall that he ran Dwain off at any time. He did comment that Dwain sure had a lot of questions.
On the way home from school that first year when riding with the Fosters, she killed the Model "A" Ford engine as we crossed a rough place in the road. The starter locked. All of us pushing on the car could not free it. Max came to the car with wrenches and fixed it so the engine would start.
Max helped butcher two or more beef while we still butchered at home.
Max's farm had a long narrow lane for cattle to move from the barn to pasture and back. A large draw ran down the center of the lane with part of an old Whippet car in the draw. Had one removed the car during the early 1940s it probably would have been restorable. However, by the time Dwain and Jaurene purchased the Rotha farm in the 1970s it was beyond restoration, having sat in water for so many years.
Half a mile west of Rotha's was the Frank Weigle farm. The Weigle's were our richest neighbors as Frank owned three or four sections of land whereas others lived on eighty to 120 acres. Frank always fed 200 to 300 head of fat cattle every winter. During the spring months he sold some and put others on one of his native grass pastures. Prior to the State of Kansas changing US Highway 160 so that it ran straight north of the Bolack corner to one mile west of Burden, Frank drove as many as 100 head of cattle past our house to his section of native grassland one-and-a-half miles east of our house. The entrance gate into his pasture was one-half mile south of the north fence of his pasture; therefore it was not safe to drive that many cattle down US Highway 160 so he hired someone with tractor trailers to haul them. Frank also drove cattle to another section of grass he owned four miles north of his farm.
The Weigle's had a hired man who lived in an old two-story frame house, one-half mile west of Weigle's house on the Weigle farm which was half a section in size. When we were kids and went up the road to play with Gerald (Jerry) Weigle during the summer afternoons it always seemed strange to find Frank sitting in the house reading his paper and smoking a cigar, whereas Daddy was always working in the field at that time of the day. About the time Jerry was old enough to work in the field, Frank ceased to have a hired man which was in the early 1950s. A few years later he tore down the hired man's house.
One summer afternoon while playing with Jerry, Frank was putting up canvas awning over the south windows of the house. After finishing the last awning he yelled in an open window, "They are all up Mrs. Wiggle-waggle." She must have been bugging him about not having them up and he must have teased her about their name.
Dwain and I worked for Frank hauling baled hay several times each summer. We always liked to work for Frank because he paid one dollar when all the other farmers only paid 50˘ an hour.
Frank was a basketball fan who seldom missed a Burden home game. Weigle's invited us to go with them to a few games. The first time they took us was the first basketball game we had ever seen. By the time we got to Burden, five miles away, Frank's cigar smoke was so thick in the 1940 Ford one could scarcely breathe and see from the back to the front seat. Mrs. Weigle, Ethel, died several years before Frank from a heart attack. Knowing now what we know about second hand smoke I have wondered if all Frank's cigar smoke caused her heart attack. Frank died in his mid-eighties while sitting in the bleachers watching a Burden basketball game.
Frank had several farm tractors. One was a two-cylinder Tyton which never moved as it was used daily during winter months to grind feed for cattle. About 11:00 each morning after cattle were fed, one could hear that old Tyton, probably built during the teens, running driving the large wide flat belt used to turn the feed grinder. That old tractor had sat in the same place running and shaking for so many years that all four wheels had settled several inches into the dirt. Parked in the large machine shed was an old Fordson tractor with a gear-driven cable front end loader/scoop. I never did see it running but heard it a few times from our house. I asked Daddy what the strange sound was coming from Weigle's. He said, "It's that old Fordson tractor."
Their house was somewhat larger than neighbors with a basement and finished considerably nicer than any others in the neighborhood. They had a coal-fired hot water furnace with radiators in all rooms. Lights were carbide which was piped to each room of the house. Needless-to-say their lights were better also.
In 1948 Frank traded in his 1940 Ford for a new 1948 Ford black sedan. He did not like it as well as the 1940 Ford so later traded it for a big 1950 maroon Buick Roadmaster which he liked much better. Frank's only truck until around 1950 was a yellow-with-red- fenders 1940 Chevrolet. He used it to haul cattle feed to feed bunks. Cattle bumping against fenders had them all smashed and broken. At one time Frank made wood fenders to replace the original metal fenders. Apparently a couple of times Frank attempted to pick up daughter Margaret from high school and she refused to be seen in the old beat up pickup so he went home without her, then had to go back to town in the sedan for her.
We never visited Weigel's during the evenings, nor they us. None of our neighbors borrowed or loaned farm equipment to Frank. The only time he ever stopped at our place was when he wanted Dwain and I to help haul hay.
Frank apparently worked much harder after he quit having a hired man. One time I heard him say that he got in and out of his truck 100 times each morning when feeding cattle. That figure seems high but when one stops to calculate the number of gates and feed bunks in each pasture it is possible. Many mornings one could hear Frank calling cattle to feed bunks when they were at the other side of the pasture.
I don't recall why the Weigel's needed help several mornings with feeding but I helped those cold mornings. One of the more difficult tasks was climbing nearly to the top of the silo, throwing ensilage down the shoot, climbing down to the truck moving ensilage to the other side of the truck bed, then back up into the silo and shovel down enough to fill the truck.
About a quarter of a mile south of their house and buildings was a large pond in one of the pastures. Several summers Dwain and I took our tree limb fishing poles and went fishing with Jerry who had a fancy casting rod and reel. We dug for earth worms for bait and were successful with catching flathead catfish. Some of them weighed up to two pounds which we took home a couple of times to eat. Daddy dressed them because we did not know how. One time Frank was going to the big pasture that Silver Creek runs through, southeast of his house. He needed help for something so he took Jerry, Dwain and I with our fishing poles. I don't remember whether we caught any fish but do remember seeing two large black snakes high in a tree -- the first time I was aware that some snakes could climb trees. We had a lot of good times playing with Jerry and working at Weigle's.
One mile south of Weigle's, in the same section, "Boss" and Florie Powers lived in a small stone house with a long screened porch on the east side. Boss liked to joke and laughed a lot when he talked. He always wore a straw hat all year round. He claimed his head broke out when wearing a cap. I could never figure out how he could keep his ears from freezing on those extremely cold days. Aunt Olive indicated several times that Boss liked to tease her and other girls when they were small. He would tease them until they chased him. He always got away because he jumped fences. The Powers never had children which was probably the reason Boss liked to tease. When threshing or baling hay he teased us boys about girls in the neighborhood.
One time at the Winfield Fair Boss saw Mother's sister, Aunt Babe. Thinking he was talking to Mother he said, "Tell Harold I will be threshing tomorrow."
One summer when talking about hot weather and how hard it was to get a good night's sleep because of the heat, Boss said, "Florie and I sleep on the east screened porch naked." That was when I first became aware that some slept without night clothes. Sounded exciting.
Boss had the only 9N Ford tractor in the neighborhood. Ford tractor engines did not seem to be as durable as those on other tractors. One time he was raking hay for us with his tractor putting out a lot of blue exhaust smoke. I said something to him about all the blue smoke his tractor put out. He said, "Bugs don't bother me like they do you guys on the other tractors."
Boss was a cousin of Uncle Ira Powers who married Grandma Lauppe's sister Blanche. Uncle Ira and Aunt Blanche lived one mile north of us in the same section. Their house was two-story made of concrete blocks made by
Great-Grandfather John Harris from blocks he made in his factory in Burden. It was one of the three houses he built for three of his six children. He built the wood frame two-story house where we lived for my grandmother Hattie Harris Lauppe, the concrete block house for Aunt Blanche, and in the north east quarter of the section west of our section he built a two-story red clay tile with stucco exterior finish for a son, Charles' family. Charles may have been deceased at the time of construction. Charles Harris, a brother of my grandmother Lauppe, and his wife Mary, a sister of Grandfather Lauppe, had five sons.
Uncle Ira was a small man slightly stooped with a nervous disorder which caused his head to shake all the time. He chewed tobacco which was always running out of both sides of his mouth and dripping off his chin. He drove a blue 1937 Ford sedan which he maintained in good condition.
He farmed very little as most of their farm land was rented out. What little farming he did was with horses only. He did raise quite a few hogs and on clear mornings we could hear him calling his hogs. Apparently he was afraid of mice which is why he shed his overalls quicker than anyone else when a mouse ran up his pant leg one day. Aunt Blanche sure like to tell that on him, then laugh and laugh.
We visited Aunt Blanche and Uncle Ira several times after evening chores were done. The only time they visited us was when we had family dinners at our house on several occasions to celebrate Aunt Blanche's and Aunt Jen's birthdays or the birthday of someone else in our family, either in March near Mother's birth date or in November near Dwain and Darlene's birthrates. One time Daddy and I were at their house during the day. As we were leaving I was driving and while rounding the south end of their circle drive I ran over and killed their small black and white dog that was biting at the right front wheel. I felt bad about that.
One Sunday we had a big Harris family dinner at Powers' house. Following lunch and a baseball game in the pasture east of their house, we boys decided to explore so we crossed the road into the big pasture north of their house. We had fun skipping rocks and wading in the creek running east and west. We were in trouble when returning to the house because the parents could not find us and all were anxious to go home.
Several times Aunt Blanche tried to get Uncle Ira to take her out west to Meade to see her sister Etta. He never did go saying, "I would rather sleep with my shoes under my own bed."
Silver Creek Country School was at the extreme northwest corner of our section. It sat on approximately two acres which was originally a part of the quarter section of Aunt Blanche and Uncle Ira's farm. After Silver Creek consolidated with Burden School District (about 1950 or 1951) and the school house was sold and moved off the site, the land reverted back to the owners of the land which surrounded it. Uncle Ira was down there trimming trees and burning trash on the school site when he caught his overalls pant leg on fire and burned himself critically. He was in critical condition in Winfield's Hospital for a long time. He recovered but with a terrible limp which made it very difficult for him to walk, yet he continued to drive his car. I do not know how he avoided a wreck as slow as his reaction time was. Other drivers must have been watching out for him. One time I saw him crossing Main Street at Ninth in Winfield. He walked so slow that he was slightly over one-fourth of the way across the street when the light changed. Traffic waited until he reached the center of the street. After the light changed he did not make it to the sidewalk prior to the light changing again, so traffic had to wait for him again. That fire injury probably shortened his life as he died several years before Aunt Blanche. We kids did not look forward to visiting then because of lack of things to do.
Soon after World War II, probably New Year's eve 1946, Lavere and Irene Harris had a big New Year's party at their house for relatives. Lavere's brother Frank, who had been a cook in the Army during the war, wanted to prepare the meal for all of us. He baked turkeys, made dressing and other delicious food to go with it. I do not recall who all attended other than Aunt Mary, and I think Neva Thompson, and Lee and Alice Harris with several of their children. Uncle Ira and Aunt Blanche were undoubtedly invited to attend.
Weather wise it was cold and clear with no wind. We were diligently watching the clock for midnight and the time to set off firecrackers. Being outside at midnight we heard the fire bell ring in Burden, four miles away. Very shortly after midnight Lavere's telephone rang the one long ring for central operator. Irene picked up the receiver to eavesdrop. It was Uncle Ira wanting to know whose house was on fire in Burden. Everyone at the party got a big laugh out of Uncle Ira not realizing it was a New Year's celebration ring by some Burden kids. Needless-to-say Uncle Ira and Aunt Blanche were interesting neighbors.
Mr. and Mrs. A. G. Rotha and son Vern had been living on Perry Miller's farm, which must have been at least half a section in size, for many years. The house was slightly one-half mile east of Grandpa and Grandma Lauppe. They were scheduled to move two miles straight north by March 1, 1941. We planned to move on that farm March 1 the same year. However, we did not move as scheduled but instead moved in with Grandma Lauppe after Grandpa died January 29, 1941. I do not blame them for moving into the small stone house as the house on Perry Miller's farm was two unconnected houses. They formed the letter "T", only separated by a two foot space. The "T" leg was one long narrow room used as a kitchen. The top portion of the "T" was two rooms, a living room and a bedroom, which was reached by going through the living room. To go from one house to the other one had to go out onto an open concrete floored porch.
Since we did not move in as planned Uncle Bill and Aunt Grace Ruggles moved there. They lived with the two-house situation for quite some time until Perry finally let Uncle Bill cut a hole in each house and connect them with a short hall. Several years later Perry bought a four room house which sat a quarter mile off the road and one-half mile north of the two houses, then moved it about twenty feet west of the old house. I do not remember to what extent but we did get involved with moving that house. It again was a "T" shape with a living room and bedroom at the "T" top and a kitchen at the bottom of the "T" and a dining room in the center.
Even after it was moved and lived in, Maurice and Melvin continued to go to the old house to sleep as the one bedroom was wholly inadequate for a family of six. Had Grandpa died later our family would have lived in those bad housing situations. Our house was a mansion compared to those houses.
Since A. G. Rotha moved a few weeks after we moved in with Grandma, I did not get acquainted with him very well. He did not help with farming operations like brother Max because of the location of his farm and undoubtedly his small size and very stooped condition.
He drove a black 1929 Chevrolet which was in excellent condition but probably was driven slower than any other car in Cowley County. In the late 1940s he had a public auction and moved to Burden. Although I attended the public auction the only unique thing he sold was a feed grinder which was mounted on the rear portion of a Model "T" Ford chassis. He could drive it around to any location he wanted, jack up a rear wheel, then grind feed. They moved in the second house south of Burden High School on Main Street so we had an opportunity to visit with them quite often when walking to or from downtown.
I always enjoyed visiting with A.G. He had a son, Vern, who never married and also lived at home with his parents. Vern may have been slightly mentally handicapped although he could add and subtract, had his own bank account, and drove his own car, which he did not get until he was between the age of forty to forty-five. He worked for local farmers, primarily putting up hay. He was at least six feet tall and strong. Daddy hired him several times each summer when baling alfalfa, native prairie grass, or threshing grain. Vern always threw bales off the wagon into the hay mow or on a stack. When threshing he was a bundle pitcher in the field pitching bundles out of the shock onto the bundle wagon. Daddy never did trust him to do field work with one of the tractors but did have him work with horses. He did not talk much, was a slow steady worker, and never complained even though he always got the hardest, dirtiest job.
There were two things one could count on Vern doing on every hay baling job. First, when he finished unloading the last bale on a trailer or truck, prior to going back to the field for more hay, he promptly got off of the wagon or trailer and went straight to the well to get a fresh drink of water. Following his drink of water he stepped about ten feet away from the well, squatted, reached in the bib pocket of his overalls, got a single sheet of cigarette paper, took out a Prince Albert can of tobacco and shook tobacco in the paper, rolled it, licked the paper's edge so it would stick to the roll and stay rolled, then light the cigarette. By that time all the other workers were waiting on the wagons after their drink. Vern never got in a hurry. We all waited on him which irritated Daddy sometimes. The other thing Vern always did after he threw the very last bale each haying time into the barn was to say, "That's the one we've been looking for."
All the Burden guys accused Vern of burning "drip gas" in his green 1935 Ford sedan. When crude oil is pumped from the ground it sometimes has gasoline with it which is very poor quality. Pumps are fixed so the very small quantity of gasoline will drip out of the crude oil into a small bucket. It was that gasoline that Vern may have used because the exhaust of his car smelled different from that of other cars. Vern was pleasant to work with and made one appreciate the fact that his mental capacity was greater than Vern's.
Carl Cook lived one and a half mile west and one and a half mile south of us in a large two-story white house with two large red barns. The Cooks had at least four children, all of which were older than I. The oldest was Leona, who married Bill Bailey. They lived in the big stone house one-half mile west of the Tisdale Church. They must have had five or six children and were very poor. The only children I knew was Dean, about two years younger than I, and Marvin, who was younger than Dean. Dean and Marvin played on our Tisdale Church basketball team. I have been in Winfield on more than one occasion prior to the start of school when Carl would have one of his grandsons with him for the purpose of buying some new school clothes. I have also observed him giving cash to his daughter, Leona, outside the Co-op grocery store on the east side of Main Street in the 1000 block.
Besides Leona there were three boys, Harold, Bob, and an older brother who was killed in action during World War II. A memorial service was held at Tisdale Church which filled the church. Carl was tall and thin; in fact he was the tallest neighbor. When we threshed grain Daddy always tried to get Carl to shovel grain out of the wagon and into one of the bins in the barn driveway. The reason Daddy liked to use Carl was he could scoop more grain in less time than any other neighbor. That meant the threshing machine would not have to shut down and wait for an empty grain wagon. Carl had a very pleasing mannerism which made him liked by all.
One-half mile north of Carl Cook's house was the Victor Point one room school house which I recall being in several times. In the mid-to-late-1940s that school district consolidated with Tisdale which had a large brick building. After consolidation, land and building were sold to Emery Webb who raised honey bees and sold honey. He must have had more than 100 hives placed in clover and alfalfa fields. Some summers he must have had at least fifteen hives under hedge rows at the edge of clover fields on our farm. Each fall after robbing the hives and separating the honey from the comb he usually brought us one or two quarts of honey which depended on the amount of honey the bees produced that summer. It was always interesting to watch him or his brother, who helped some, search for the queen bee of each hive. They searched by scooping up a hand full of bees in their bare hand, then with their fingers of the other hand move the bees side to side. It usually took many handfuls of bees to finally locate the queen bee. They claimed they averaged being stung about one time per year. They also said the only time a honey bee stings is when it is mad. Knowing that I handled hundreds of bees and never did get stung. During summer months we kept boards in the cattle and sheep water tanks for bees to sit on while getting water. Every day some of the bees missed the boards and landed in the water where they could not get out. When refilling tanks one could place the palm of your hand under a struggling bee in the water, raise it out of the water and about five to ten seconds later the bee would fly away. At times one could pick up a half dozen bees or more at one time. The more bees we saved, the more honey Mr. Webb brought each fall.
One mile north of our house and slightly east was a small stone house where Oscar and Blanch Lawson lived with two of their three children. They later bought the Jim Gardner farm about a quarter-mile east of their house on Silver Creek. Their youngest daughter was born about the time they moved.
The Lawsons were anti-social as they did not attend any of the social functions at Silver Creek school, nor visited with neighbors, either going to neighbors houses or inviting neighbors to theirs. They were the hardest working neighbors, who seemed to do better financially than most. In fact, they bought the eighty acres across the road north of Aunt Mary's farm (where Dale Harris lived and Grandpa Lauppe died) after the death of Great- Grandfather Harris. They never maintained buildings after buying a farm so most collapsed. Around the mid 1940s they bought the half-section of Jim Gardner's, after his death. Jim always traveled by horse and buggy. Bank officials in Burden claimed cash Oscar used to pay for the farm was wet and moldy. By the mid 1950s they owned approximately 1,200 acres in five sections, each adjacent to where they already owned land. It was all within a mile of their home. In 1963 they bought the quarter section of Great-Grandfather Lauppe's at the auction following Uncle Jake Lauppe's death. I have tried on several occasions to buy back that farm or just the house and out buildings. Finally Blanche wrote to say she would not sell because they had bought legally at the auction and if I wanted it I should have bought it at the auction. They sold stone out of the stone fences, spring house, and two small barns to contractors in Wichita. Part of the stone house has now collapsed.
About the time their son John started in first grade at Silver Creek one of their horses kicked him in the face which caused permanent disfiguration. Apparently the edge of the horse's hoof must have hit between his eyes as he had a very flat nose bridge at that point and had several open wounds for some time.
After their younger daughter was born she was not doing well and was in the Winfield Hospital until she was transferred to Oklahoma City, where it was determined that she was allergic to cow's milk so the Lawson's bought milk goats so she would have milk she could drink. At times they had more goats milk than needed so they sold the surplus. One time we bought some just to sample. None of us liked it because of its strong, strange taste. They rented the Lake farm which joined corners with our other place. One day Daddy came home from working at the other place and said he kept hearing a baby crying. He checked it out and found a baby in a basket in the shade of a hedge row. Blanche Lawson was out in the field on a tractor. When Oscar wanted something from a neighbor he would start honking the truck horn as soon as he turned in their driveway and would continue honking until someone came out to his vehicle to see what he wanted. He stopped at our house a couple of times to see if he could hire Dwain and I to help with hay baling. Daddy always told him he had work lined up for us to do at home primarily because some of the neighbor boys who had worked for Oscar did not get paid the determined amount, and it took several weeks for them to get paid.
One time Oscar was required to have an appendectomy which kept him in the hospital for the standard five days. Normally doctors required six weeks of very light duty following surgery which included no field work on tractors. Oscar apparently came home from the hospital, crawled on a tractor and went to the field to work. During 1948, when the Rural Electrical Association was setting poles for electricity in our neighborhood for our first electricity, Lawsons almost did not get it because of Oscar. The main line was to run a mile and a quarter south of their farm. Surveying was completed and stakes driven for location of poles. The line was being run specifically for Lawson only. Usually poles were set against a fence and next to the road ditch. One-half mile of the line went over a pasture of native grass of Lawson's. To avoid cutting down nearly one mile of trees and drilling in rock, pole location was staked about thirty to fifty feet behind the fence in the pasture. Oscar decided he did not want poles in his pasture so he moved that half mile of stake out along the road, which about cost him electricity. When their house was wired for electricity one of the electricians fell through the ceiling.
One summer in the mid 1950s I did the Bairs' chores for them while they were on a two-week vacation. One morning while they were gone Oscar drove in our yard and honked and honked until I finally went to his truck to see what he wanted. He informed me that the Bairs' bull was in his pasture with his cows and that he wanted me to get him back in immediately and fix the fence so that he could not get out again, then he drove off.
I went down to the Bairs', who lived east of us on Silver Creek, got their saddle horse, saddled her and rode out to see if the fence was down between the two farms. Not only did I find about seventy-five feet of fence on the ground, but the Bairs' bull and some cows were in Lawson's pasture and some of the Lawson's cows in the Bairs' pasture. I finally got the strays cut out and back into their respective pastures. Repairing the downed fence proved to be very difficult as that particular area was solid rock. Only shallow holes had been chiseled into the stone for fence post bottoms. After tying the fence wire together again I found enough loose stones to stack around each fence post which stabilized the posts. Needless-to- say Oscar did not show up to help.
Sometime after we moved to Lawrence Oscar was driving his pickup while leading his saddle horse with the pickup door open. For some reason the horse stopped which jerked Oscar out of the pickup but as he went out he turned the steering wheel left which caused the left rear wheel to run over him. He did not fully recover from those injuries and died shortly thereafter.
The Lawsons were probably the most talked about and least known of our neighbors.
One-half mile west and two miles north of us was the Texaco oil field, which was small, being about a mile square with approximately twenty producing wells. Each of the oil wells had an eighty-foot steel derrick over it. Some wells had a wood building under the derrick which housed an engine and large flat drive belt which operated the large wood "walking beam" which raised and lowered the "sucker rod" which extended over 3,000 feet into the well. Other wells were pumped by one large centrally located engine which had sucker rods on the ground from it to each well. The lease pumper who lived in a Texaco-furnished house was Flory "Pop" Collins. Pop was a very interesting individual in that he was very particular in caring for Texaco's equipment, as well as his own. The engine which operated ten to fifteen well pumps was what seemed like a huge, one-cylinder natural gas- powered green Superior make, with two six-to-seven-foot diameter flywheels. By a flat belt approximately eighteen inches wide it turned a huge wheel approximately twelve feet in diameter which lay horizontally a few inches from the floor. Between the wheel and floor were elliptical cams which pulled rods from each well. The weight of the sucker rod in the well would pull the rods back as the cams rotated. Pop never pumped all wells at the same time.
He maintained a spotless pump house and engine. In fact, he would not allow us kids to go in the pump house when our shoes were muddy. Jerry, his son, was in my grade at Silver Creek so we went up quite often to play with Jerry. Every time we went to play we went to the pump house to marvel at that huge engine and wheel and watch those pump sucker rods moving back and forth through holes in the pump house walls. Pop claimed the engine ran non-stop for ten years before it was shut down for repairs. That seems an awfully long time but it did run on natural gas, ran at the same temperature all the time, and ran at very low revolutions per minute (rpm). Pop apparently was required to check operations on the lease at least four times a day with the last check at midnight. His "lease vehicle," as he called it, was a 1928 Model "A" Ford Roadster, green, which he maintained in excellent condition. In fact, one time he thought some bearings needed to be replaced in the differential so instead of new bearings he replaced the complete differential. He sold that car to someone in the Kansas City area about mid-1950. At this point in time I have not been able to locate it when attending Model "A" Ford shows or meets.
Pop had an immaculately kept shop with every tool in place. The Collins' also had electric lights and were the only neighbors to have electricity at that time. It was a d.c. volt current type with a "wind charger" on the wash house, close to their house, with several large glass jugs holding lead and battery acid in the wash house. Their lights were not as bright as our current a.c. volt lights.
When playing we climbed to the top of those steel derricks, then would see who could throw rocks from our full pockets the farthest. I shudder to think how dangerous that was standing on those old narrow boards. Pop decided he would retire the Model "A" Roadster so he bought a used 1939 Ford pickup. After he had it a short time, Phillips Petroleum introduced a new type of high detergent oil, "Troparctic." A short time after changing to the new oil the pickup got hot and quit running while he was headed toward Burden. When the oil drain plug was removed oil would not run out because of the large lumps of sludge. Apparently the new detergent oil had loosened up sludge buildup due to use of non-detergent oil. Pop did not have problems after that.
Since the Collins' lived on the oil lease they heated with natural gas. Pop kept the Model "A" in a large steel building which had a large steel-pipe home-made stove near its center. On cold days Pop did not close the building door but his car would still be warm because of the amount of heat the stove put out. I wished each time I saw flame in that stove and felt its warmth that we had natural gas so I would not have to get wood and cobs and cut wood for our wood stoves. Their two hole outhouse even had heat.
It was always a treat to go to the Collins' because all of the many things to see and do that neither we nor any other neighbor had.
Edgar "Jock" Steele and his wife lived one mile west of us on the north side of the road across from the Weigel's. We never visited in their home nor they at our home. Daddy did stop at the Steele's several times to buy grain or borrow a piece of farm machinery. Dwain and I worked only once for Jock hauling baled native grass. Jock used an "M" International to farm his 160 acres. He had a reputation of being a fairly heavy drinker. Evidence of his drinking was seeing his car sitting at the corner west of us. Closer examination revealed he had turned right too soon and run the right front wheel over the curbing and off the end of the bridge. When we came home from school that evening his car was gone. We never did hear how he got the car back off the curbing/wall and how much damage it did to his car. In 1956 a fire started in his wheat field (see harvest section).
To the corner west of us and two miles north on the west side of the road was a real nice large white house and a large red farm barn, which was the home of Mr. and Mrs. Ben Drury, an elderly couple. The Drurys appeared to have more money to spend than most neighbors.
One time a strange lady stopped at Silver Creek school and talked to our teacher for a long time. Some time afterward we had a party during the school day, hosted by Mrs. Drury, which included cupcakes, punch, party hats, etc. I do not remember the significance of the party. It may have been Valentines. Either near the end of school that year, about the middle of April or after school, Mrs. Drury had a watermelon party at her house on a Saturday which was fun and the only party anyone ever gave for Silver Creek school pupils the eight years I attended. On several occasions we heard Mrs. Drury was in William Newton Memorial Hospital in Winfield for a week of rest and relaxation. She probably was admitted because of some illness, however we never knew what.
We never worked for Ben Drury nor had any other dealing with him other than Daddy would stop and visit with him if he was in the yard or along the road when we were going by their farm.
One-quarter mile east of Drury's on the north side of the Burden blacktop was a small white stone house and some neatly painted small barns and sheds. A small elderly gentleman, Mr. Levi Higginbottom, lived there by himself. Again, we did not deal with him in farming operations but it seems we did buy eggs and milk from him a few times. Daddy would stop and visit with him two or three times a year. He did not have a car so relied on others for transportation. His first plane ride was on his eightieth birthday anniversary. Relatives of Mr. Higginbottom ran a grocery store on the southwest corner of Tenth and Main Street in Winfield, Higginbottom Grocery. As of this writing the building is still in use with its small porch on its northeast corner. Mother was shopping for groceries in the northern-most aisle near the west end of the aisle when she wanted me to "leave things alone." I was about to do something only to find Mother was not in sight when I looked up. I went to the end of the aisle, looked up the next aisle and could not see her so that's when I panicked thinking I had been left and started crying. A store clerk took my hand and said, "We'll find your Mommy" who was in the very next aisle over. After that I made sure Mother did not get out of my sight any time she was shopping. Nearly every time we were at Mr. Higginbottom's or drove by his house it reminded me of the "lost episode" in Higginbottom's Grocery.
Four miles west and one-half mile south was the farm home of the Curtis Unger family. Prior to Unger's purchasing and moving onto the farm, Aunt Babe and Uncle Glenn Miller lived there for several years. The Ungers attended Tisdale Methodist Church so we got acquainted with them shortly after they moved from Illinois. Beverly, the eldest daughter, was in my Sunday School class. The latter part of the summer of 1953 I worked for the Ungers milking cows, doing field work, hauling manure, etc.
Curtis was a large man, probably six feet five in height, weighing between 275 to 300 pounds with no fat. He was very strong, using his strength to accomplish farming operations. Examples were: 1) When hooking a tractor-mounted tandem disc to his Ford tractor he did not get back on the tractor when they did not line up properly but instead moved the disc until all was in alignment. 2) He picked up a thirty-five gallon barrel of gasoline and sat it on a trailer-- weight approximately 300 pounds. 3) He removed a ten-gallon milk can, full of milk, from a refrigerated water tank and carried it at the same height, bottom three feet off the floor, outside the milk barn to his pickup. The weight of the milk and can was approximately 100 pounds. When I tried removing those ten gallon cans of milk from the cooler I was stopped when the can was half out of the water. I was required to lift the can against the inside of the tank, then tilt it and drag it over the top of the tank to get it out. 4) When hauling wet straw manure bedding Curtis used a large four-tine straw fork while I used a small five tine manure fork. I would get as large a fork full as I could possibly carry outside to the manure spreader. Even though I was carrying as much as possible it was probably about a third the amount Curtis was carrying with that large straw fork. I bet he thought that kid sure isn't earning his pay!
Since Curtis' son Gary was much younger than his daughters Beverly and Grace, he required them to do field work with the tractors. Beverly, the eldest, did more work than Grace. Several days he had both of us working ground in the field one-half mile south of their house. Not only did we work ground but picked up red rocks out of the same field.
Beverly did one thing differently than anyone else. She started that Ford tractor, then checked the oil. She never needed to add oil. However, a couple of times when I checked the oil when she wasn't around and the tractor was not running, then I added oil.
During the Cowley County Fair in Winfield that August Curtis displayed about a half dozen of his Brown Swiss dairy cows. I got to sleep in the cattle barn at the Fair with his cows for three or four nights, then milk cows morning and night while the rest of the family was milking at home.
That fall Beverly went to Wesley Hospital in Wichita where she was assigned as roommate to Marceil Ring of Burden, whom I had been dating for two years. They became the best of friends and still keep in touch via telephone with calls over an hour long at times even though Beverly lives in Austin, Texas.
A man of Curtis's size eats considerably more food at a meal than the average person. For example, he could eat a whole loaf of bread at a meal, plus several helpings of the main course. Although I ate as much as I could possibly eat he kept encouraging me to eat more.
While Beverly was in nurse's training in Wichita she met and married Ron Stearman, grandson of the builder of the Stearman airplane, who sold out to Boeing, the largest aircraft manufacturer in the world. Ron earned a Ph.D. in aeronautical engineering from a university in California, taught on a part-time basis at the University of Kansas, then took a position as professor of aeronautical engineering at the University of Texas in Austin, where they still reside.
I had no idea when that new girl, Beverly, attended our fifth or sixth grade Sunday School class at Tisdale that a friendship would develop lasting more than fifty years.
Automobiles in the Silver Creek community were more alike than in the Tisdale community where Lyge Bailey had the brass Model "T" Ford. The oldest automobile in Silver Creek community I can recall was the big four-door green Buick that Grandpa Lauppe was driving at the time of his death.
It was always fun to ride in the back seat of that big Buick. It had lots more space between the front and back seats and one could stand on the floor, look between Grandma and Grandpa and see much farther down the road than in our 1935 two-door Chevrolet sedan. Grandma sold the Buick at a public sale a short time after we moved in with her when selling off Grandpa's horses and farm machinery.
One mile east of us was a 1929 Chevrolet two-door sedan which appeared to be in super condition. It was owned and driven by A.G. Rotha, a small stooped elderly gentleman. The Chevy probably had the distinction of being driven more miles slower than any car in Cowley County. A.G. probably never drove over 20 miles per hour and even slower on our local gravel roads. Cars were always following him.
West of us one-half mile A.G. Rotha's brother Max lived. Max had a gray 1936 tudor Ford sedan. Max did drive faster than brother A.G. but not much. His car was probably the second slowest driven car in Cowley County as cars were also always following him, but not as many. We rode in his car many times as he would stop and give us a ride to the corner, one-half mile west of our house, when we were walking home from school.
Part of my first school year I rode to school each morning with another first grader, Leann Foster, in her parents' 1931 Model "A" Ford, two-door black sedan. They lived a mile east of us on Silver Creek but moved away late fall or early winter that year. That ended the regular ride to and from school as I walked the rest of that year and the next seven years while attending Silver Creek. One afternoon on the way home from school Mrs. Foster killed the engine when crossing an extremely washed out area of the road one-half mile west of our house and a short distance north of Max Rotha's farm. She attempted to start the engine with the starter when we heard a loud clunk and the starter quit cranking the engine. Mrs. Foster said the starter had locked and all we needed to do was get out and rock the car forward and backward. So Mrs. Foster, Leann, and I rocked and rocked the car but the starter would not release from the flywheel. Max observed us in the road so came to see if he could help. We still could not free the starter so he went home and got some wrenches, worked on the car for a few minutes, and had it working so the starter would start the engine.
Pop Collins, a pumper in the Texaco oil field two miles north of us, drove two older cars, both in excellent condition. His oldest car was a 1928 green Model "A" Ford Roadster. He used it almost exclusively to go from oil well to oil well in the Texaco oil field and to Burden, three and one-half miles away. Pop was so particular when repairing his cars that he replaced the entire differential (rear end) when it needed a new bearing. Collins' good car was a 1935 Master Deluxe black four-door Chevrolet sedan with knee action. Pop traded the Chevy in to Hank Triplett Ford Dealer Shop in Burden for a new 1950 Ford. It had only been driven 65,000 miles and was so much in demand that Triplett's sold it before they could get it to the used car lot. Pop had his new Ford raised on the car lift, inspected its chassis closely, and declared Henry Ford should have put a grease zert here and here. Hence the new Ford was altered to suit Pop before he ever drove it, which was an indicator of how particular he was about his cars.
Lavere Harris had a 1936 Plymouth pickup with either a bent drive shaft or bearings out of the universal joint as it would really shake one riding in the pickup bed. Uncle Ira and Aunt Blanche Powers had a blue 1937 Ford tudor sedan which was very nice.
Uncle Bill Ruggles owned a black 1934 four-door Ford sedan with suicide doors. The steering was worn so badly that driving down the road he would spin the steering wheel one-half turn each direction before it would start to turn the car. He also had difficulty starting it in cold weather. He traded it for a new 1949 Studebaker pickup.
A couple (Blairs) who lived a mile north of us in the same section as ours drove a 1939 Chevrolet coupe until they were involved in a fatal auto accident that killed both of them instantly. It sure was hard to believe that could happen when the Chevy was not damaged very much. Those were pre-seat belt days, hence they were both ejected from the car.
Sanford Atkinson, who lived two miles west and two miles south of us, drove a 1928/29 Model "A" Ford flat bed truck which he used to haul wheat and drive to and from his combine when he combined wheat for us and other neighbors.
Uncle Glenn Miller drove a 1928 Dodge coupe until after the war when he bought a 1939 blue Dodge four-door sedan. His next car was a 1954 Chevrolet sedan. He kept the coupe several years to pull trailers.
Perry Miller drove a 1929 Model "A" Ford four-door sedan until 1948 when he bought a newer four-door black Ford sedan. They kept the Model "A", took all the doors off and used it to chase cattle in the large rocky pasture southeast of our house. They raised English Shepherd dogs and always had a dog in their work car. One day Phillip Miller, Perry's youngest son, was rounding up cattle south of us with his dog sitting on the seat beside him in the Model "A" when they hit a big rock which slowed and caused the car to go left abruptly which threw the dog out of the car.
Uncle Jake Lauppe drove a 1925 Model "T" Ford four-door gray sedan which was in excellent condition. I enjoyed riding in it primarily because it sounded so much different from our car, especially when shifting from low to high gear. He drove the "T" until late 1950 when he bought a black 1936 Chevrolet sedan. At that time he totally dismantled the "T" and used parts of it for different purposes. About that time he built a garage for his Farmall F12 tractor which had one window on the south side -- the windshield of the old "T." Its doors were set together along with chicken wire to create two "A"-frame chicken coups for old setting hens and their baby chicks. Uncle Jake and Aunt Jen moved to Burden around 1950. At that time they rented the farm out to nephew Carroll Harris, and others after he moved on the Harris farm across the road west of Silver Creek school. Carroll moved onto the farm following brother LaVere and wife Irene's move to Dallas, Texas. Following Aunt Jen's and Uncle Jake's deaths in 1963, a public auction of farm equipment and the farm was held. Prior to the sale nephews and nieces went to the farm and picked up items they wanted. Daddy picked up all the Model "T" Ford parts he could find with the exception of the windshield as it was used as a window in the tractor shed. All those parts have been sold at antique auto swap meets or to individuals in an antique auto club to which I belong.
Cousin Maurice Ruggles first car was a black 1925 Model "T" Ford sedan with wood spoke wheels painted bright red. The most fun we had in the Model "T" was out in the field of shocked wheat. Maurice was the only one who drove. He would drive as fast as that old "T" would go in the soft ground toward a shock of wheat. The object was to swerve just before hitting the shock. When he did not swerve quickly enough bundles of wheat would fly through the air. When that occurred he stopped, we got out of the car and reshocked the wheat. It's a wonder that old "T" hadn't rolled with us when cutting it sharply as it could not skid since the tires were running down into the soft dirt.
I got some education with that "T" which was seeing a rubber (condom) for the first time. Maurice found it behind the right front door upholstery shortly after buying the car. He kept it in the door "just in case he needed it." I doubt he used it as he did not have that car very long before trading it for a 1930-31 Model "A" black four-door sedan. One morning before classes started at Burden High he was dragging Main, as most students did who drove cars, when making a U-turn in front of the bank, the right front door flew open and brother Melvin flew out on the pavement and gravel on his hands and knees. Just skinned only.
Speaking of high school, that reminds me of four cars at school. Larry Brewer, a fellow classmate in our freshman class, had a sharp yellow and brown Model "A" Ford Roadster. He claimed it would run sixty-five miles per hour. That I doubt now because our 1929 Model "A" Ford with larger wheels and a higher speed differential will not run over sixty miles per hour. I rode with Larry in his "A" to our freshman class picnic on Rock Creek. That was the time I found the arrowhead.
Isabell Evans, whose parents owned and operated the movie theater in Burden, drove a 1950 yellow Crosley station wagon, She would be parked at school or downtown, come out, get in the car to go somewhere but before she could start the engine and put the car in gear a couple guys would run up behind the car, pick it up off the ground so only the rear wheels would spin. She would get mad, shut the engine off, get out and run them off, only to have to repeat it when she got back in the car.
One day at lunch time a couple of us crawled in the back of Leroy Osborn's dad's new Ford pickup to ride down town. Instead of stopping downtown he headed east of town on US Highway 160. He had someone else in the cab who must have pressured Leroy to see how fast the pickup would run down Grouse Creek Hill. As we went farther east our speed increased. The small grain in the pickup bed started flying about and pelting us which really stung. We could see the speedometer through the rear window. We topped Grouse Creek Hill at eighty miles per hour and topped out over ninety miles per hour going down the hill as we approached the creek. I was not concerned about the danger at that time but felt fortunate that we had made it safely down the hill and across the bridge, as about four years later four high school buddies were going down that same hill at high speed in a 1950 Ford sedan when the farmer living on the north side of the road about half way down the hill turned left into his drive in front of them. Driver Chad Gregory lost control, went off the road and plowed into the vertical east bank of the creek. Three of the four boys were killed.
Don Lewis acquired an early Model "T" Ford with an underseat gas tank when he was a senior in high school. One day during lunch time he and three or four other guys decided to do hill climbing with the Model "T." They went east of town to Grouse Creek Hill, then drove off the side of the road down the steep embankment. That is when they found out the "T" would not climb a steep hill going forward. However, they did learn one could back up a steep hill as long as the gasoline tank was above the carburetor. They were late getting back to school so were suspended from school for three days.
Alfred Skinner, who operated an auto repair shop in Burden, used a stripped down White car for his tow wrecker. It may possibly have been one of the White buses like those used in Yellowstone Park in the early to mid-teens. It was larger than most wreckers around at that time.
My First Car. I had been wanting a car of my own but felt I could not afford one. Nearing the end of my freshman year at Arkansas City Junior College, where I had two semesters of auto mechanics, I felt I could afford one by maintaining it myself. In the spring of 1954 I saw a car on the used car lot of Lewis Chevrolet in Burden that was exactly what I wanted. I had seen it many times before in Burden as it was a car Vinton Nimrod owned. Each time I saw the car previous to then I thought, "I wish I had a car like that." I asked the salesman, Boyd Ring, who later became my father-in-law, how much they wanted for the black shiny 1948 Chevrolet coupe. He quoted a price which was more than I had in my savings account in the bank just across the street. I made that fact known; then he asked how much I had in the bank. I told him the amount of my account.
Not at that time, but a day or so later, he contacted me and indicated they would sell the car for a certain amount which just happened to be the exact amount in my account. So I withdrew all money from my account and bought that Chevy on May 8, 1954. I failed to realize it would take gasoline, oil, and tires to keep it on the road. So I had to borrow gasoline and oil from Daddy for several weeks until I found a job and received my first pay check from our neighbor Mr. Bair.
The car was loaded. By that I mean it had every accessory on it that Chevrolet dealers sold for their cars. Accessories included large full wheel chrome covers, exterior over-windshield visor, chrome awning over door windows, chrome deflectors on wing windows, bumper extensions on ends of front and rear bumpers, center fold-down bumper guard on rear bumper, which had to be lowered to open the trunk, chrome strips below the taillights, push-button radio, under the seat heater, large ivory deluxe steering wheel and overhead valve oiler.
Even though Vinton bought the car new he did not install the accessories. Following World War II new cars were hard to get. People wanting a new car placed their name on a waiting list at an auto dealership, then waited one to three years. When one's car arrived dealers would often charge extra for the car. For example, Harold Moon, of the Tisdale community, had a Plymouth ordered. When it came in during 1947 the dealer in Winfield called to inform Harold his new car was in. When Harold went to pick it up he was informed the car would cost a certain amount, plus an additional $200, if he wanted the car. Had he not paid the extra the next person on the list would have.
A similar type thing occurred with the car I bought. Apparently Vinton and Melvin Lewis, owner of the Chevrolet garage in Burden, did not always agree on all issues. Hence when Vinton's new car came in Melvin had all the accessories installed, then called Vinton and told him the car was in. Vinton wanted the car so he paid extra to get it. It had been driven 96,000 miles and had a complete engine overhaul when I bought it. I picked it up on Saturday, took Marceil back to Wichita on Sunday to nurses' training at Wesley Hospital. I was not feeling well when I arrived home about 1:00 a.m. and felt worse on arising for school Monday morning. I decided not to attend school at Arkansas City Junior College that day. I lay around on the divan in the living room not feeling too bad until I stood, when I had a very sharp pain in my abdomen. Neither Mother or Daddy seemed concerned over my illness; however Daddy came in about 2:00 p.m., said he had to go to Winfield for some parts, and wanted to know if I would like to ride in with him and see a doctor. I had no idea how serious my pain could have been so I crawled in the old red and black 1939 Chevrolet pickup feeling every bump we hit. Dr. Wells indicated I had a high white blood count which probably meant I needed to have my appendix removed.
Daddy dropped me off at Newton Hospital where I checked in for surgery about 7:00 p.m. that night. Daddy went home and got Mother and Darlene. Dr. Wells indicated it was a good thing I had surgery as my appendix was about to rupture. He would not let me drive my new car for two weeks, a wait which was almost as bad as surgery.
Several times after cleaning and waxing the Chevy I was asked if I would sell it. Twice the left rear fender was damaged and the rear bumper replaced both times. The first collision occurred near the old Victor Point school where the east/west road south of the school deadends on the north/south road. I was headed north and another driver east on the dead end road which was lined with a hedge row on the south side of the road. Because of the trees, weeds, and tall grass we did not see each other and the other driver pulled out into my road. I swerved but the backend slipped on the loose gravel allowing the front bumper of the other car to damage my left fender and bumper. My first auto accident.
Then after Marceil and I were married and living at 806 College Street in Winfield, one rainy night we heard a loud bang in front of our apartment. The next morning we discovered the source of the noise. The Chevy was parked parallel on College Street with its rear bumper and left fender badly dented. We drove it until Christmas 1957 when it was traded back to the same dealer and salesman for a blue and white four-door 1954 Ford with 25,000 miles on it. We drove the Chevy approximately 40,000 miles during three and one-half years of ownership. During that time the engine required a "valve job" after arriving at Haskell Institute in September of 1957. That's another story which will be covered later. However, after arriving in Lawrence at the end of approximately 800 miles the engine only had one good and eleven damaged valves.
Sure would like to have that Chevy again!
The vehicle Daddy owned prior to my departure for Lawrence was the black 1935 Chevrolet two-door standard sedan, which we drove through World War II. The transmission was worn so badly that one was required to hold the gear shift lever in high gear or it would jump out of gear.
In late 1946 Daddy bought a 1940 two-door Chevrolet which a neighbor, Darrell Gardner, had owned. He kept the 1935 to continue pulling trailers. In late 1950 he traded it for a 1934 Chevrolet green and black pickup, which was used until late 1954 when it was parked primarily because we could not get the engine to run properly. It was not running properly so I pulled the head off the engine, did a valve job, but never could get the engine to perform correctly even after a new carburetor, distributor, etc. It must have had a bad cam shaft.
A couple of years before Daddy had purchased a red and black fender 1939 Chevrolet long bed pickup which would haul lots more than the 1934 so it was used almost exclusively until late in the summer of 1955. Prior to that time we had two problems with it. Over a period of several months it would quit running when one was driving down the road. After sitting a few minutes it would always start. One might be able to drive 100 yards or two weeks before it quit again. Daddy had it in the garage several times which included replacing the carburetor, coil, all ignition parts, and fuel pump, all to no avail as it might stop on the farm, between farms, to or from Burden or Winfield. Finally out of desperation Daddy took the gasoline line off between the gasoline tank and fuel pump and found an eight-inch-long wheat straw in it. When the straw was lying parallel within in the steel line gas would flow through and around it but when it was jarred at an angle too little gas flowed throughout the line for the engine to run. It ran great after removing the straw.
The second problem developed some time later when water started showing up in the oil. We removed the head, inspected it for cracks, as well as the block, put on a new head gasket which did not stop the leak. Quite sometime later I removed the push rods cover and found a long crack at the very bottom of the block. Radiator stop-leak did not totally stop it.
In late August 1955, I was working ground, getting ready to sow wheat in the northwest field of the east eighty acres at the other place. I was at the east side of the field, one quarter mile from the west side of the field, when I saw a bright shinny baby blue flat bed three-quarter ton pickup drive into the west side of the field. I wondered who that could be as I was not familiar with the truck and could not make out the driver. When I worked close to that end of the field I recognized Daddy sitting behind the wheel. He had traded the old red and black pickup for a brand new Chevrolet truck at Lewis Chevrolet in Burden. That was the first and only brand new vehicle Daddy ever bought. He continued to drive it until the late 1970s when it was traded in on a later model green and white Chevrolet pickup. After he quit farming and no longer made those daily trips to and from the farm field from Winfield he sold the pickup to his oldest grandson, George Lamonte Lauppe.
In late 1951 or early 1952 Daddy traded the 1940 Chevy sedan to Lewis Chevrolet for a 1947 four-door black Chevrolet, which was formerly owned by Fred Allen, Burden's postmaster. It was an exceptionally, well-kept clean car, but it would not run nearly as fast as the 1940 Chevy. Supposedly they had the same size engine. It must have had a lower-speed differential than the 1940. He drove the 1947 car until late 1950s or early 1960 when it was traded for a salmon-colored 1957 four-door Chevrolet which I bought from him in 1981. As of this writing I still own it. It is still original condition with 165,000 miles, some metal rust and original upholstery. Enough said about those old automobiles.
Arkansas City has an annual event each year at Halloween time called "Arkalahah." Each year they invite each town within a radius of approximately fifty miles to send a representative, a high school young lady, to serve as that town's queen. Each queen was entitled to have a male chaperon and two female attendants with dates.
Gayle Dozer was Burden's queen for 1951. Her attendants were Mary Mowder with her date, Jerry Weigle; and Marceil Ring with me as her date. Activities for queens included teas and a parade down Summit Street on Saturday followed by a dance in the Municipal Auditorium Saturday evening. While activities were going on for the queen and the attendants the guys had to wait in the lobby of the Osage Hotel or on the street, which was cold. I had a new winter coat with a fur collar which sure felt good while waiting on the street.
Saturday evening after the dance, which was the final event of the Arkalahah, we all rode home with Mrs. Dozer in her 1949 black Chevrolet sedan. By the time we were six miles east of Winfield and headed north on the county road it was snowing so hard Mrs. Dozer was having difficulty seeing the road. Snow had already accumulated two inches or more. It was the first snow that fall.
Prior to the Arkalahah, Marceil and I had not dated each other or anyone else. She asked me to be her date to the Arkalahah which started a relationship lasting for forty-four years as of this writing.
Sometimes I did not know in advance of a Saturday evening whether field work would end in time or Daddy would let me use the car to plan in advance for a date. When it did work out our phone system was so poor that I went to town and used Ralph Henderson's phone at Henderson's Drug Store to call Marceil to invite her for a date. She always accepted which required me to wait while she got ready. Since neither of us drank alcoholic beverages nor danced we could not go to any bars so most of the time it was to a movie in Winfield either at the new Fox Theater on the west side of Main Street in the 1000 block or at the old Opera House Theater across the street at Eleventh and Main. Sometimes we even went to a midnight movie.
Burden did not allow any form of dancing at any school function or any church parties. One Saturday night when we were seniors someone had a party at the Odd fellows Hall downtown. The closest activity to dancing was a "bunny hop."
Prior to the purchase of my first car in May of 1954, Dwain and I shared the family car, a black 1940 two-door Chevrolet sedan, formerly owned by Darrell Gardner, a neighbor, until the spring of 1953 when Daddy traded it in on the black 1947 four-door Chevrolet, formerly owned by Fred Allen, Burden's postmaster.
We took turns using the car, as we both went to Burden together then split after arriving in town. Our meeting place after dates was Henderson's Drug Store, which was always closed by late night. Dwain was dating LeAnn Ryan at that time. I do not know what they did but he sure missed our designated meeting times which made for a very cold lonely wait on the "spit and whittle" bench late at night.
After high school graduation and Marceil's enrollment in Wesley Hospital School of Nursing at Wichita and my enrollment at Arkansas City Junior College, dates were few and far between. As part of Marceil's registered nurse education she was required to work most weekends on the hospital floor taking care of patients and I was busy studying. Sometimes it was six weeks or longer between dates. Distance and travel expenses were also factors in determining when we were able to see each other.
Her check-in time was midnight, the time I headed home which was approximately an hour's drive. Boy did I get sleepy. Several times I stopped along the road's edge and curled up in the front seat and slept an hour or so. Other times I probably should have as I woke up the next morning with no memory of how or when I got home.
Over the three years Marceil was in nurse's training those many trips to Wichita were not without incident. I did not always go the same road. Sometimes I went through Atlanta to US 54, or up the county road one mile east of New Salem (now under Winfield's Lake) to Smileyburg, then west through Douglas to Rock Road, then north to US 54 or turn west of the county road one mile north of the New Salem Burden road and went west to US 77, north to Kansas 15, west on it through Udall, Mulvane and Derry to Oliver Street which went north through Boeing Aircraft Factory. At Boeing one could often see some old World War II B-29 bombers. Planes most visible were the B-47s. Before Marceil graduated we did get to see the new huge B-52.
One Sunday afternoon headed home I nearly had a rear-end collision on East US 54 near the Beech Aircraft plant. Driving about forty-five miles per hour I suddenly heard tires squealing and noted the car in front of me had stopped suddenly. I did not have time to stop before rear ending it so headed for the shoulder and ditch. When I did get stopped I could have shaken hands with the passenger in the car I about hit.
One winter night after dark I had just gone through Douglas when I saw some small white something move toward the ditch in front of me which caught my attention. Suddenly in front of me was a huge pile of gravel. I swerved to the left just in time to miss most of the gravel. The right wheels ran up on the lower edge of the gravel which caused the car to fishtail for a short distance until I was able to get control. Had it not been for a scared man's white socks as he ran for the ditch I would have plowed into the gravel pile.
One winter Sunday afternoon on my way to Wichita about 2:00 p.m. I had another close call. It was between Atlanta and Leon. A bright warm sun was shining on me as I went north. I saw a sign indicating the road turned left. The next I knew the road had turned left and I was still headed straight north. I cut the steering wheel sharp to the left in time to keep the left front wheel on the road which caught enough to cause the rear of the car to swing out into the ditch, which caused nearly a 100 degree turn. It was then off the road into a shallow ditch on the south side of the road before I could get complete control and back on the road headed west. Cars approaching the opposite direction completely stopped in the road until I passed them. I thought, "Gee was I lucky, in the ditch twice and no damage to the car." Needless-to-say, I did not get sleepy the rest of that day.
A couple days after that Daddy drove my car to Burden where he had a flat tire on the right rear wheel. We discovered that tire was unusable because it had a large break in the outside sidewall. Apparently when I went into the ditch on Sunday the tire had hit a large rock.
Several times Marceil rode the Santa Fe passenger train to and from Winfield. The Santa Fe passenger depot was located in a fancy neat brick building near the fairgrounds on Fourteenth Street. Only memories and pictures remain of the depot. Santa Fe Continental Bus was also transportation but seldom used because of its scheduled times.
In the Fall of 1953, Marceil's first semester at Wesley, we had a triple date. A Sunday afternoon Bob Westbrook drove his 1949 Chevy sedan to Wichita with Gayle Dozer as his date; Mary Mowder with Jerry Weigel as her date; and I with Marceil as my date. After we picked up Marceil, following her 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. shift, we headed for the Riverfront Park near Wichita's Zoo. None of us were familiar with Wichita's streets and it was Bob's first time to drive in Wichita. We got lost and realized we were headed the wrong direction, so Bob said, "I'll make a left turn at the next street." Just as he started to turn several of us informed him he was turning the wrong way on a one-way street. When turning left a big black late model Buick pulled in front of Bob forcing him into the outer right lane. The first opportunity Bob turned right into an alley to turn around. We had pulled into a police station. As Bob started to back out of the alley, it was blocked by the same big black Buick. A uniformed Wichita policeman got out of the Buick and questioned Bob. Bob told him he was lost and it was his first time to drive in Wichita and where we were headed. The policeman indicated he recognized the Cowley County tag, gave us directions to the park and stressed this was a warning, that Bob must be more careful when driving.
I was lucky that I did not have any type of mechanical problems or flat tires while on those 100-mile round trips over the three years. In October 1955 Marceil and I decided to get married the following Christmas vacation which started for Marceil at 3:30 p.m., December 27th. The following Sunday, after we had made our decision to get married, one of the frequent Ruggles family Sunday dinners was held at our house. After dinner all the ladies were in the kitchen cleaning up when I stopped them by saying, "I have an announcement to make." I then announced Marceil and I had just decided to get married Christmas vacation. Aunt Grace Ruggles was the first to comment. She said, "Oh, I knew that a couple of months ago." Sure was hard to get ahead of Aunt Grace.
December 27, 1955, our wedding day, was a beautiful warm sunny day with the temperature in the sixties during the p.m. Beautiful as it was, Marceil was required to work until 3:30 p.m. Prior to picking her up I had taken the Chevy to the Chevrolet dealership garage in Winfield to do some work on the generator. After picking Marceil up at Wesley Hospital in Wichita, we went straight to her Aunt Helen Henderson's farm, one-half mile south of Burden, to hide our car in one of her barns. The reason we hid it was cousins and high school friends threatened to do all kinds of decorating and things to it. We decided to fool them so we hid it. Marceil's mother met us at Aunt Helen's house and took us to the Methodist Church were we had rehearsal at 5:30 for the wedding. Following the rehearsal, Mother and Daddy hosted a bachelor's dinner at our house, which really rushed us to finish, get ready, and get to the church five miles away on time for our wedding.
The wedding ceremony went as planned with Reverend Howard Kitchens conducting our wedding. Marceil was wearing a beautiful white gown with her attendants, her sister Claudine and my sister Darlene, dressed in red gowns. I was wearing a navy blue suit which I had splurged and spent $80 for at Study's Men's Store in Winfield.
We did not hire a professional photographer to take photos but had my cousin Maurice Ruggles take pictures. An unusual thing happened as we were exiting down the center aisle after being pronounced husband and wife. Maurice was squatted in the aisle between the two back pews when he took our picture coming down the aisle. After snapping the photo he started to get up to move out of our way when he fell backwards. We slowed our pace slightly giving him time to get out of our way before we went on out of the church.
A reception was held in the Sunday School (north room) portion of the church following taking pictures. We had cut our wedding cake and fed each other a piece of cake and visited a few minutes with those attending our reception when we indicated to some that we were going to the kitchen to thank those in charge of the reception. After thanking them we went out the back door rather than back into the reception area. Marceil's sister Claudine and her boyfriend Tom Reeves were waiting in the alley for us in Tom's 1950 brown Ford sedan. Marceil was out the door first and running across the back yard when I closed the kitchen door. As I ran across the dark yard I fell on my hands and knees over a small tree limb. We made it out to Aunt Helen's undetected although lots of guys were looking for our car.
While Aunt Helen was helping Marceil change from her beautiful white wedding dress to her blue "going away" dress I got the car out of Helen's barn then went back into the house and waited until she finished dressing and getting her gown ready for her mother to pick up the next day. For financial reasons we could not go very far from home. In fact, we went to Woolarock Museum at Bartlesville, Oklahoma, about 150 miles from home. Our first night out was at the north edge of Arkansas City, at a motel named "Hillcrest." Night two was in Bartlesville where I became ill. The next day we drove back to Burden and spent the night before Marceil had to report to school and work. The next time we were able to see each other was six weeks later. The following August 1956, Marceil graduated from nurse's training.
At that time I lacked one school year, two semesters, to complete a bachelor's degree at Southwestern College in Winfield. While attending Southwestern I had roomed and boarded with Aunt Urdeen and Uncle Art Abilgaard on Lynn Street, near the hospital where Uncle Art liked to sit on his front porch and watch student nurses walk to and from the dorm to the hospital.
Just prior to Marceil's graduation I rented a one bedroom apartment at 806 College from a little old lady, Mrs. Dubberstein. She was around seventy-five years old, under five feet tall, and weighed under 100 pounds. Her size did not keep her from working hard to maintain her house. While we lived there the Winfield Daily Courier newspaper ran a picture of her on a ladder at the second floor level painting the exterior of her house. The linoleum in our kitchen looked real sharp. However close examination revealed she had meticulously painted over the original pattern with its original color.
She played a piano which sat against a living room wall which was also the partition to our apartment. Needless-to-say, we could hear her piano. Most of the time she tried to sing but her singing was not as good as her "fair" piano playing.
A door from our apartment opened into her living room which was used often, as she had the only telephone in the house, used by us frequently. We never knew when she would come into our side to tell us something or ask a question.
Our bed was about worn out with a thin cotton mattress over thin cheap springs and let us roll toward the center which was okay with us at that time.
We lived there until our move to Lawrence in September 1957. Moving was an exciting experience which will be described later.
In the fall of 1956 and spring and summer of 1957 to escape the heat in our non-air-conditioned apartment I walked out the back door across the alley and up the wooded hill to study. It was a pleasant place to study with many singing birds, darting squirrels, and a breeze in all that shade. Some referred to it as the "first hill" with Southwestern College being on the first hill north and Winfield State Training School (for mentally retarded) on the second hill north, referred to as the "third hill."
While we lived at 806 College Marceil worked the 7:00 to 3:00 p.m. shift at the "state school" (State Institution for Mentally Handicapped). Since we only had one car I took her to work and picked her up. Nearly every day while waiting for Marceil to finish work I was approached by one or more of the employed patients wanting a dime for a coke (cost of a coke then) or a cigarette. The State of Kansas paid 100 percent of all expenses in providing the basic needs for each patient. However, the sharper patients who were able to learn and hold a job (eg., at the dairy, lawn, laundry, kitchen, etc.) were paid three cents per work day. They were paid one time per month just as full-time non-patient employees. A long wait for sixty cents a month.
About ten days before 1957 spring graduation was scheduled at Southwestern College in Winfield, the registrar called me into his office and said, "You and your advisor goofed; you do not have enough hours to graduate." I needed four credit hours of science so enrolled in the only course Southwestern offered that summer which would meet graduation requirements. I had been informed I would be drafted by the US Army for two years, immediately after graduation. When I found summer school was required for graduation I checked with the draft board to see if they would defer me again to enable finishing graduation requirements. My request was granted with the understanding that I would be called in the following August immediately after summer school.
A few days before graduation, August 6th, I checked with the draft board to determine how soon I would be expected to report. At that time I was informed it might be up to a year, that I should be applying for a teaching position because several high school graduates had volunteered which put them ahead of me on the list to report for active duty.
That summer's biology class I was required to take was the hardest of any college classes.
Since I had not applied for a teaching position late winter or early spring when most positions are filled I started applying through the Southwestern Placement Office. Very few positions existed but I did have an interview at Emporia for teaching auto mechanics, at Spring Hill teaching English, and Caldwell teaching industrial arts and assistant football coach (never played football) which I knew nothing about. The Caldwell interview was strange in that the superintendent required each applicant to meet each board member personally. Another guy and I were interviewed at the same time by the superintendent, then drive around to talk to each board member. One member was a farmer whom I caught in the middle of a wheat field working ground. That required us to walk about a block in loose-worked dirt.
I turned down Spring Hill because their only need was for a teacher of English. Emporia and Caldwell made no offer. Wichita University offered a three-week course for a driver's education teacher the last three weeks of August so I enrolled in it and rode back and forth daily with Bill Thornton, driver's education teacher at Winfield High. In that class we wrote the first Driver's Education Manual requirement for the State of Kansas.
Southwestern College Placement office did not know of any additional openings so I contacted a private employment agency, Kansas Teacher Placement of Topeka, which informed me of two openings: Haskell Institute in Lawrence and Kanarado in Northwest Kansas. I interviewed at Haskell Institute in Lawrence the latter part of August. I was interviewed on a Saturday by Dr. Ayers, superintendent; Mr. Floyd Statyon, principal; and Mr. Bill House, Vocational Department head. All three lived on campus so did not have far to travel for the interview. After interviewing me, all three left Dr. Ayer's office for a few minutes. Dr. Ayer was the only one to return. He informed me that three individuals were applying for the position teaching drafting and assistant to welding instructor. However, since duties would include working with maintenance during summer months and since I was raised on a farm and not afraid to work they were going to hire me. He also indicated that like local school districts he would be required to get approval of the school board, in Haskell's case, the Personnel Office in Muskogee, Oklahoma, which would require about one week.
When we returned to Winfield Marceil resigned her R.N. position at Winfield State Hospital. Shortly after the week was up and I had not heard from Dr. Ayers, I called and was informed the federal government had frozen employment and it might be "six days, six weeks, or six months" before I could be hired. I then called Kanarado, Kansas, one-half mile from the Colorado line, to see if the district still had an opening -- which it did -- so I told the superintendent I would be there the next day for an interview. Marceil and I went out to look the situation over and for the interview. I was not particularly excited about teaching there as it would have been teaching five different subjects plus supervising a study-hall period. Marceil was not excited either as the closest hospital where possibility existed for registered nurse employment was twelve to fifteen miles west at Burlington, Colorado.
While we were in Kanarado, population 250, we looked at the only house in town for rent, which was an old four square house built around the turn of the century. We were still holding out for the position at Haskell Institute in Lawrence so told the Kanarado Superintendent that we wanted to check once more with Haskell and would let him know the next day whether I would accept his teaching position.
The next morning from Winfield I called Dr. Ayers at Haskell to see if he had received approval to hire me. He indicated that the answer was negative but he would let me know if approval came in the 2:30 p.m. mail that day. He still had not called by 4:00 p.m. so we made the decision to take the Kanarado teaching position. I called the Kanarado Superintendent and told him we would be there the next day.
I went downtown about 5:00 p.m. that same day, rented a six-foot-long two-wheeled covered U-Haul trailer and loaded all our belongings in it and the 1948 Chevrolet coupe, then we spent that night with Marceil's parents in Burden. We departed Burden about 7:00 a.m. the next morning for northwest corner of Kansas, which was Friday, September 10, 1957. Weather that September day was hot and windy. We had the trailer stuffed full as well as the trunk and interior of the Chevy. In fact, Marceil shared her seat with an ironing board and other items. By noon the weather temperature began to get hot. It must have been at least 100 degrees that afternoon across southern and western Kansas. Driving cross wind, since wind was blowing from the south, then north with the wind the Chevy ran hot. We were fortunate that many ditches had water for me to dip out with a half gallon glass canning jar to refill the hot radiator. We finally arrived in Kanarado around 8:00 p.m. just as it was getting dark. Current maps show it to be 392 miles from Burden to Kanarado which was probably slightly more than that then as roads have been improved and straightened in the last forty years. That thirteen hours we averaged thirty miles per hour.
On arriving we went straight to the superintendent's house. He said that "Since it is so late you go ahead and rent the house and start moving in and we'll sign the contract in the morning." I had already started to pull away from his house when Marceil hollered "Stop" for she saw the superintendent run from his house waving something. He handed her a piece of paper saying, "I forgot to give you this phone number." We drove downtown to the only store where one could buy groceries, clothes, beer and play cards or dominos. Marceil recognized the phone number as her parents. We just assumed they called to inform us that we had forgotten to bring something from their house. While I was paying the lady at the store for one month rent on the house, $35.00, hooking up gas and electricity, Marceil was calling from the back of the store to find out what we had forgotten.
She was surprised to find out that we had not forgotten anything but it was more important than that. She learned that Dr. Ayers had called her parents about 7:45 a.m. that morning to inform me that my appointment was approved prior to the employment freeze and he had received it in that morning's mail.
Boyd and Hazel Ring (Marceil's parents) considered trying to catch up with us but figured that would be difficult since we had nearly an hour's head start and they did not know which route we were going to travel, either straight west of Winfield on US 160 or north of Winfield on US 77 to US 54 at Wichita. They called the Kansas Highway Patrol to see if they would stop us for the message. They refused since it was not a life-or-death situation. So we arrived in Kanarado not knowing the position I really wanted had been approved in Lawrence. We discussed the situation briefly in that store, and made the decision to head for the east end of Kansas. I then called Dr. Ayers, explained the situation to him and explained I knew we had a house to live in here in Kanarado but knew housing was at a premium in Lawrence and I might not be able to find a place to live. He said, "You get here and I'll find a place for you to live." At that point I told him we would see him tomorrow.
I then explained our situation to the lady who had just accepted my rent check. She refunded the full amount of rent and gave me forms to mail in for utility refunds. We then drove back to the superintendent's house and explained the situation to him and informed him we were leaving town. He was very upset and indicated I was the second person to do him that way. Southwestern stressed over and over that one could not break a contract. But since I had not signed the contract I felt little obligation to stay. We were in Kanarado thirty minutes when we left town and headed east for Lawrence.
Shortly afterwards we were driving in a terrible thunderstorm which rained on us all the way to Colby where we got a motel room for the night. The weather cooled off enough that night that I did not need to add radiator water for the balance of the trip to Lawrence. We traveled across the state on US Highway 24 even though it is slightly farther than US Highway 40 (no Interstate 70 then). US 24 was paved all the way whereas US 40 had several miles of gravel through the Flint Hills between Junction City and Topeka. We arrived mid-Saturday afternoon and were provided one of the visitor guest rooms in Powhattan Hall on the Haskell campus.
Current maps report the distance from Kanarado to Lawrence as 392 miles; however that is undoubtedly via Interstate 70. We traveled slightly over 800 miles to get 182 miles from Burden. We lacked $2.50 getting full refund on deposits for utilities and rent.
Shortly after arrival at Haskell Delbert Paasch's auto-mechanics students overhauled the Chevy engine as ten of the twelve engine valves were burnt or warped, because of the many miles of overheating, and had to be replaced.
Thus you have some idea of my life experiences between February 1941 and September 1957. This section is completed just thirty-five days prior to retirement from the Douglas County Appraiser's Office on May 30, 1997. After retirement I will not be eating lunch in a restaurant each week day where all writing has occurred to this point. It remains to be seen as to whether I can find time to write about experiences after arriving at Haskell Institute, here in Lawrence, that Saturday afternoon, September 11, 1957.