A STORY OF PILGRIMS 18


We were back home now but there was still furniture and other personal property over there to be moved home. In December Daddy borrowed two horses to put with Lightfoot and Ruthie to make up a four-horse team. Uncle Ned joined in with his team and sled and they set out for Duck Creek on the other side of the mountains. They got there without encountering anything unusual in the way of trouble and got the things loaded on the two sleds. They started home with the four-horse team taking the lead to break trail in the snow. The snow was quite deep over the mountains and the temperature was running well below zero. They got as far as Iron Springs in Confederate Gulch the first day and camped there for the night. It was so cold that they crawled into their bed rolls with their clothes on. Uncle Ned laughed at Daddy for putting his cap on with the ear flaps down to go to bed. They started again early the next day and it proved to be a long and trying day. It was bitterly cold and the snow was deep and drifted. It was hard going for the horses and, due to the uneven density of the snow, the sleds would rock and lurch. The sled pulled by the four-horse team carried most of the furniture which made the load quite high. This sled tipped over twice before they reached the top of the divide and had to be righted and reloaded each time. They finally got over the top and were nearly out of the mountains on their way down Benton Gulch when the sled overturned again. This was approximately where Jack and Helen Coleman now live and they were still nearly twenty miles from home. It was already late in the day. They left the overturned sled there and, with four horses hitched to Ned’s sled and leading the other two behind, they proceeded on home, arriving about midnight. The next day they went back with four horses and brought the other sled home.
The following year our sister joined the family. She was born at the home of Grandma Short in White Sulphur Springs. Bill and I stayed there with Grandma until Mama was ready to go home.
Two years later, in 1934, it came time for me to start school. I was starting first grade and Bill was starting fifth at the same school that our father had attended. But, we lived closer to it. For us it was a mile and a half by the county road but only slightly more than a mile across the field. We nearly always walked across the field but sometimes in the spring, when the snow was melting, the water would be running so deeply and swift in the coulees that we couldn’t get across. We would have to go by the road. One time when we had this situation the culvert under the county road at one coulee was plugged with ice and a lake had formed on the upper side of the road. On our way home from school, we stopped to throw rocks into the water and, on one throw, my mitten flew off and landed out in the water. We tried to reach it with sticks and tried throwing rocks into the water near it to make the waves carry it toward shore but it just kept drifting farther and farther away. It finally sank and was gone.
Our uncle, Lon Hanson, leased the field we crossed going to and from school and sometimes he pastured his bulls there. One spring morning two of the bulls had been fighting and the loser was coming down one of the coulees just as we were crossing through it. As soon as he saw us he started toward us. Bill had the good sense to decide that we shouldn’t  run so we continued walking at a good pace. The bull stayed at a walk too. We were up out of the coulee before the bull got real close. As soon as we were out of his sight over the rim of the coulee, we lit out running as fast as we could go and reached the fence by the time the bull came out of the coulee.
My first grade teacher was Irene Karjala. She married Neal Teague and was a ranch wife until Neal died. She later became librarian in town and is in that position yet at the time of this writing. My teacher for the second and third grades was Dorothy Lucas who is now Dorothy Mackay. My fourth year, the Newlan Creek School was closed and we went to school in town. The next year the school reopened for the first half. By this time Bill was in high school and was going to school in town. But Esther was in first grade so she and I both attended that half year. The other students that last half year at Newlan Creek School were, Marshall Hanson and Maurice Crabtree. The teacher, Mrs. Rankin, was from Jefferson Island over near Whitehall.
The school house was one room with a little cloak room on each side of the door. The main school room was probably about twenty feet square with a coal/wood furnace in one corner. On some of the colder winter days, the furnace would not keep the opposite corner of the room comfortable. If we left our lunches in the cloak room on the cold days our sandwiches would have ice crystals in them at noontime. Insulation and storm windows were almost unheard of at that time. The windows had shutters but, if they were closed, there would be no light in the room. (No electricity in rural areas at that time.) It was the responsibility of the teacher to keep the fire going in the furnace whenever it was needed, as well as supervising and teaching the children.

Excerpted from WOOL TROMPERS  by J.L. Fuller

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About authorjim

I grew up in the country near a small Montana town, I have spent a lot of time in the outdoors, working, fishing, hunting and camping but have always been interested in mechanical and electrical things. Most of my life has been spent in the use, care and repair of things mechanical, electrical an electronic. After being retired for several years, I began writing and published my first novel at the age of 79. Now, at the age of 82, I have recently published my fourth noveland it is available from me or from the pulisher or book distributor.
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