From this point on, this story will be written in the first person style. Not with the intention of being an autobiography but simply because most of it will be first hand information and this style seems like the easiest way to put it down. Actually, the primary purpose of the remainder of the story is to leave future generations a record of what life was like for these Mayflower descendants during these years. For it not only was far different from the way the Pilgrims lived, but most certainly will be far different from the life of those in future generations.
Early in their married life, March 1925, Frank and Ida bought a small piece of land on which was a house, barn and chicken house, and made their home there for the next 22 years. This land was the south half of the Southeast Quarter of Section 30 in Township 10 North, Range 6 East and it joined the east edge of the 160 acres homesteaded by Frank’s grandmother, Margaret Blackall, in 1908.
Their first child, Frank William, was born at Bertha and Alonzo Hanson’s Riverside Ranch on June 17 in 1924. While he was a child, he was called Billy but that became Bill as he got older.
I made my appearance on the 24th of March in 1928 at a place three miles west of White Sulphur Springs which was known as the Hill Ranch. There is not a building left of that place anymore. The house burned down long ago, although it was there long enough for me to go to a couple of dances in it. The barn and other buildings are all gone now too.
Then, four years later, on June 10, 1932, Esther was born at the home of our grandmother, Mary Short, in White Sulphur Springs. She was named Elizabeth Esther in honor of Frank’s sister who had died in 1924, but she was always called Esther.
For awhile, between the time of Bill’s birth and mine, Daddy worked for John Carlson at the Sky Ranch, far down Smith River next to Cascade County. During that time he and Mama and Bill lived in a cabin on the ranch, but after I came along, Daddy stayed in the bunkhouse at his ranch jobs and the rest of us stayed at home. He sometimes came home a couple of times a week and sometimes only once or twice a month, depending on the distance and the weather. At first, horses were his transportation but he soon got a Model T Ford and from that time on, he had some type of automobile transportation.
The house on the place my parents had bought consisted of three small rooms. It was begun by putting two granaries together with the end of one joining the side of the other. This was not uncommon at that time. Quite a number of small granaries had been built around the country for storing the anticipated bumper crops of grain but then, the dry years came and the need for houses outweighed the need for granaries. A small lean-to had been built into the corner where the two granaries joined, thus making a third room. With a double bed in this room and chest of drawers, there was little more than enough room left to walk around the bed. This was the bedroom of Bill and myself until 1944. Approximately 25 feet in front of the house was the well and hand pump. Out back was the typical outhouse.
In the fall of 1930 we left this quiet little home temporarily and moved to the other side of the western mountains to a little farm Mom and Dad had rented on the lower end or Duck Creek and northeast of Townsend. My earliest memories are of this place. One evening, at about dusk, Mama had lit the kerosene lamp in the kitchen and the room was reflected in the window. At the same time there was still enough light outside so that we could see some things near the house and we could see them equally as well as the reflected image of the kitchen. I got quite excited when the pigs walking by appeared to be walking through the kitchen. This would have been during the summer of 1931 when I was a mere three years old. Another time, Bill caught some trout in Duck Creek and brought them to the house and put them in a pan of cold water. Well, one of them had been caught just before he brought them to the house and was still alive. It soon began to splash and flip and flopped itself right out of the pan and onto the floor. There was an apple orchard near the house and one day, while I was playing out there, a squirrel began cutting apples loose and letting them fall to the ground. I did a lot of shouting at the squirrel with the idea that if my mother knew what was happening she would surely come out and put a stop to it. I was rather disappointed when she showed no concern.
Bill went through the first grade there at a little school a short distance down the creek. Up the creek, less than half a mile, as I recall, lived our nearest neighbors. During the year that we lived there, a friendship grew between us and the Campbell family that has carried through to the present time.
The farm didn’t show much profit so, in the fall of 1931, Daddy hitched Ruthie and Lightfoot to the sled and moved us back home. It was late enough in the season by this time that there was snow on the ground, which was the reason for using the sled. I remember a little of the trip over the mountains. Daddy was riding up front, driving the team, and the other three of us were in the back, snuggled down under quilts and a fur robe. I don’t believe that it was very cold but we certainly were cold enough. On occasion, Bill would get out and walk behind the sled and I wanted to do that too but my Mother wouldn’t permit it. I didn’t understand it at the time but, of course, I was too small to be able to keep up with the team and sled.
Excerpted from WOOL TROMPERS by J.L. Fuller