Monday, February 12, 2018

The Ancestors, Part 20 & 21

Our third Christmas was spent with the Corl family and Possum Ross.  Mrs. Ross (Rossie) the children called her, had been called back east to be with her daughter who was very ill.  Possum got us a real Christmas tree that year.  We drove up to their place the day before Christmas, which happened to be Sunday, so we stopped at the school house for Sunday school on the way to the Corls. We took the children's gifts and the xmas decorations my mother had sent the first year and spent a wonderful Christmas eve, and the next day together.  During the we had a beautiful white frost the decorated every building, every fencepost, even the ugly barbed wire.  I never had seen such a thick white frost before.  It just transformed everything.  Clyde had to go back home Christmas to take care of the animals, but came back early.  The children had a wonderful holiday and we had lots of music.  Christmas night the musicians played for a dance in Arthur.  I stayed with the kids and had a tooth-ache.  I had had a good deal of that ever since Mildred was born, but we were 45 miles from a dentist and it didn't seem possible to make the long trip.  Fortunately we didn't have much candy to promote the pain.  I had started out with such good teeth, but lack of dental care and probably not the proper good care during pregnancy.

Clyde bought a young pig each fall to feed and butcher soon after the holidays.  We made a smoke house out of a big box and smoked our Bacon and hams, made sausage.  We also made sauerkraut.  We had learned home to make craut from Clyde's mother.  It tasted especially good out there.

We named our pigs Tipperary from the wartime song.  The children always made pets of them and it was hard for them to lose them when we butchered.  I had to help with the dressing of the animal the first time we butchered, because Gene Wilson didn't show up when Clyde was ready for him.  A hog has to be scaled and scraped and after the processed is started, it has to proceed.

I didn't want the children to watch us and had them settled on the other side of the house, but we got so busy that I didn't see them watching.   When we finished, there they were, having cried while the watch the whole process, but not loud enough for us to to hear them.  Children on the farm have to learn some hard lessons.  I am surprised now that they seemed to forget them as they grew older.

Clyde often cam in on winter afternoons and and, "If you will stir up some doughnuts, I'll fry them" and while I fried the doughnuts, the children waited for the little round balls that were the holes.  We read a good many books.  Clyde like to read Zane Grey.  He hadn't read very much as a boy and I liked to have him do it.

Ruth learned to play my guitar that I never mastered.  She couldn't reach around the neck of the instrument, so she laid it flat in her lap and pressed the strings down in the right positions.  Clyde show the chords and she was able to play with  him.  We knew that she needed a piano at that age, but it wasn't possible at that time.  Clyde made a diagram of the key board of the piano, so she could learn the names and positions of notes.  By the time that we did get a piano she was really ready for a teacher.

This country was really into the war by the summer 1917. Grandpa wrote that the oldest grandson had enlisted in the navy and that government buyers had commandeered several of the big black walnut trees for the manufacture of gun stocks.  It wasn’t long until the army discovered our big mules. 

Clyde didn’t want to give them up, but finally did, so we had to buy a team of horses.  We were becoming more aware of what the war was doing to our country.  Prices were going up on everything and there was a grim shadow spreading over the entire country, even penetrating our isolated position.

Floyd Corl decided to go back to Grand Island, Neb., his original home, to go into the grocery business with his brother.  The Rosses also decided to move to Grand Island.  We had had an opportunity to buy a section of wet valley (land that was low enough to be covered with water in the spring but was dry by fall) and would cut hay enough for winter feed for about as many cattle as we planned to run for the next four or five years.

I had an uncle in Waterville, Kansas, who had money and whom I knew would loan us the cash to buy the section.  He even sent the money out to the Keystone bank, but the rancher suddenly changed his mind at the last minute; he found out that we were kinkaiders and he had been mad at the government for opening up the land to homesteaders, so he wouldn’t sell to us.  We had to send the money back to Uncle Will.  Clyde was so disappointed that it really made him sick, I think.  He didn’t try to get others to play music with him after the Corls and Rosses left in the early fall, and had lost weight so the first time he went to Keystone he went to a doctor who told him that though he might have T.B.  That really scared us.  T.B. was not controlled at that time and Clyde’s older sister Myra, had developed it several years before.  He decided to go back home to the doctors there that he knew and trusted.  I had been planning to go to Sioux City, Iowa to have my teeth taken care of so Clyde decided to take Ruth and Richard with him to stay with his folks.  He would find out what was the matter with him, come back to the sand hills alone, then I would go to Sioux City, have my work done, taking Mildred with me and go down to Frankfort, pick the children up and come back home.  That way one of us was there to take care of the stock all of the time

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