Newlan Creek School after it had been abandoned for several years. The woodshed is behind and the barn is beyond the woodshed. The woodshed was for keeping wood and coal to feed the furnace and the barn was shelter for horses that had been ridden or driven to school.
Until 1934 the teachers either stayed in town and drove to and from the school or boarded with a family in the vicinity of the school. By 1934 the school on Spring Creek had been abandoned so the Newlan Creek School District obtained the little log school house and moved it to our school for a teacher’s dwelling. My father and Turner Hanson, and probably others, disassembled the building , numbering each piece, and hauled it with team and wagon. It was reassembled near our school house and put to use. Irene Karjala, my first grade teacher, was the first teacher to live in it. She lived there one term. Dorothy Lucas lived there two terms and that was the extent of its use as a teacherage.
After the half-term of school in 1938, the school was closed permanently and the buildings were sold. Daddy bought the teacherage and it became sleeping quarters for Bill and I. Virgil Holliday took the school house to town and had it remodeled into a house. My wife and I lived in it for a short time and it was the first home in the lives of both of our children.
As I said earlier, my childhood home was a small house. I have very few memories of our life in the original three rooms. Except for an incident here and there, my early memories pretty much seem to begin with the year that Daddy added the fourth room to the house. I am quite sure that this was 1933. He got the material for this room from the log cabin on the homestead of Pelick (Peal) Walter. Peal’s homestead had become the property of Alonzo Hanson and Daddy acquired the cabin from him. Daddy tore the cabin down and hauled the material home with team and wagon. This was quite a long haul since Peal’s homestead was probably about eight miles north, near what was known as Christ’s corner. Christ’s corner was a place where four sections of land cornered together and got its name because a man named, George Jacobson, lived there for a time, herding sheep, and often worked in the nude during warmer weather. This earned him the nickname of Christ. With these logs and materials, Daddy added a room onto the east side of the house that became our kitchen and dining room.
Our life there was quite typical of those times but far from typical of life today, a mere 54 years later. We did not have electricity, telephone , running water, gas, television or even a radio. We were deep into the famous depression of the thirties but we were getting by. We didn’t have politicians, bureaucrats, television news people and other do-gooders inflicting us with a daily dose of doom and gloom, so we just went innocently along our way, making do with what we had. A welfare program had been started but, then, it was called relief. It was not a blank check type of assistance that we see today either. About all it amounted to was an allotment of food, and sometimes, a little clothing that was given to families who were judged to be needy. Our father, being a proud man, would have nothing to do with it but our mother , concerned about a proper diet for her children, went to the relief office a few times and picked up some food items. Mostly what they had to give were raisins, prunes and other dried fruits. I really liked the raisins. We raised our own vegetables and kept chickens for eggs and, now and then, some meat. We also usually raised a pig or two. And, often in the fall, Daddy would get a deer or maybe an elk to supplement our meat supply. Most of the time we either had a milk cow or got milk from Uncle Ned. So we usually had enough to eat even if it lacked in variety. There were a few times when we were scraping the bottom of the barrel, so to speak, but, thanks to John Coad, the grocer, for allowing us long-term credit, we got through those times.
Life was good there for a young boy but sometimes the winter storms made it uncomfortable for us. The part of the house that had been granaries was just light frame construction without any insulation whatsoever and no storm windows. The log addition was somewhat better but it had just a roof with no ceiling so there was no overhead insulation there either. During extremely cold weather the wood range in the kitchen and the heater in the living room would be burning full force and it would still be chilly back in the corners. With cooking and heating water on the range, there was always lots of moisture that would form frost and ice on the windows a fourth of an inch or more in thickness. Nail heads around the door casing would collect frost a fourth of an inch thick. At night, the fires would die down and, in the morning, there would be a layer of ice on the water in the bucket on the wash stand. The bedroom doors would be closed all day but, before bedtime, Mama would open them and fire up the heater to warm the rooms a little before we went to bed. She would heat sad irons on the stove and wrap them in cloth to put at our feet in bed. We would get into bed under a heap of blankets and quilts. I would get down under the covers with my head covered up and form a breathing tunnel from my face to the edge of the of the bed because the door was soon going to be closed and the cold would take over again. In the morning, there would be frost all around the opening of my little tunnel. It wasn’t always like this, of course, but such times leave vivid memories. It is just such memories as these that make me appreciate an indoor bathroom today. It was anything but a pleasure to bundle up and plod out to the outhouse in the middle of a frigid blizzard.
Another winter incident that I remember well took place in early 1936. It had been a nice day with the temperature around 40 degrees F. and Mama and we kids had gone to town. Daddy was working at the Harris ranch and so was not home. While we were in town, the temperature began to fall and we soon started for home. When we got home, it was already down to zero. I don’t recall how cold it was that night but, a couple of days later, the morning was so cold that Mama decided it was too cold for me to go to school. She and Bill decided it would be okay for him to go, and so, he got warmly dressed and went out. He looked at the thermometer before he left and called through the window that it was 60 degrees below zero. He was the only pupil to show up for school that day and the teacher took him into the teacherage, fed him hot chocolate, warmed him up and sent him back home. It was 60 degrees below for several nights and we had temperatures ranging from -20 degrees to -40 degrees for weeks.
I believe that was also the winter that we ran out of firewood. With Daddy away from home, that put us in a rather serious situation but Mama took the matter in hand. The chicken house was a small log structure so Mama and Bill began tearing it down and sawing it up. Since the sawing all had to be done by hand, this was no small task. But it kept us all warm. The chickens were moved to the little pig sty.
Excerpted from WOOL TROMPERS by J.L. Fuller