My father was John Alexander Lee, born April 6 1878, the son of James Lee, (Jim
for short), and Cynthia (Hunter) Lee. Grandpa James owned this little farm on Indian
Creek, only five or six miles south of Barnett, Morgan County, Missouri. This is where my
Dad was born and raised, along with two brothers and one sister, roaming those
wonderful Ozark hills, hunting and fishing in the beautiful Missouri streams and growing
into manhood, which time and nature provides for us all.
And then not so many miles away, just four or five "as the crow flies", southeast on
the other side of the hill, flows this swift rolling little stream called Soap Creek. Old folks
say it got its name from an old man crossing the creek at a time when the water was
overflowing its banks. As the story goes, he had his wagon loaded with barrels of
homemade soap when it turned, spilling all of his soap into the swift rolling water. (This is
a true story, so they say.) So this is where my mother was born, lanniah Hibdon, on
December 2, 1877, in a little log cabin nestled right in the very heart of the Ozark Indian
country, near Gravois Mills, Morgan County, Missouri. She was the daughter of Thomas
H. Hibdon and Martha P. (Phillips) Hibdon.
John Lee is twenty years old now, and has wandered off to the Indian Nation in
Vinita, Oklahoma, where his sister lives with her family. 'This was Cherokee Indian
country, but was know as the Indian Nation. But now we find him back in the Ozark hills in
old Missouri, where on February 19, 1900, John A. Lee and lanniah Hibdon, were united
in Holy Matrimony This union lasted almost forty years.
Mother was almost sixty-three years old when she went to meet her Maker on
October15, 1940. Our Dad lived twenty years after her death. He was nearly eighty4hree
years old when he passed away on December 14,1960.
They began their married life together in a log cabin near a little village called
Irontown, in Camden county, Missouri, in the foothills of the Ozarks on the Osage River.
It was a very humble beginning. They didn't have many worldly goods1 but I believe they
had a happy life together. Of course, they had their good and bad days, fat years and lean
years, happy days and sad days, as most families did. In general they were a typical
Ozark couple, starting a new life together in the early nineteen hundreds.
They started a family soon after their marriage, as most couples did in those days.
In that time, that was considered the proper thing to do. On November 10, 1901, their first
child, a daughter, was born. However, it was a very sad day, as she lived only a few
hours. It seemed as though their life was starting out all wrong. Fortunately, they did not
know what lay ahead of them, as they were to encounter many more sad days as they
traveled down the road of life. But they had each other, and that was the most important
thing to them.
Mother told us this little story about how time and courage can help to heal a
broken heart. Some months after the birth and death of their first child, mother was visiting
a neighbor. Dad got home from work before she got home, and he brought a little surprise
for her. He hid in the corner of the cabin behind some quilts she had folded up. When
mother came in, she heard a noise and it sounded just like a child crying. She did not
believe in ghosts, but she heard the sound again and it seemed to be coming from behind
the quilts. She didn't know what she would find, but she went looking for whatever it was.
To her surprise1 she found a tiny little puppy. He was black all over, with a tiny
white spot on his chest. She was very happy with him and she named him Coaly. He grew
to be a large, very smart dog. She trained him to do a lot of things. One unusual trick she
taught him was to ride behind her on a horse. She would visit her neighbors, or go to the
store to get groceries, and Coaly would sit up behind her with his paws under her arms.
The neighbors thought this was very funny. Coaly was a good watchdog, too, as my
brother and I were to learn in the early days of our lives.
On a very cold blustery day on February 5,1903,1, Effie Edna, came to the Lee
home to live. My mother told me that I was very small, but strong and loud. In those days,
doctors were very seldom called on to deliver babies except in the rare situations that a
midwife could not handle. My great-aunt Sade was one of the best, and it was she that
assisted in my birth. She and my Dad named me, and I have often wondered why they
gave me such an ugly name. In the years that I was growing up, our dear old Aunt Saddie
(as some called her), was to play a big part in our lives. They told me that I was a spoiled
little brat. My Aunt Sade and her son Claude helped spoil me, and my Dad helped too.
On September 21.1904, my brother, Raymond Thomas, was born. At that time my
Dad would rock me to sleep and put me to bed every night. I well remember one special
night when r was three years old. Dad was Late getting home for supper, and 1 as I was
getting sleepy, my mother fed my brother and I and put us to bed. But I wouldn't stay in
bed. I wanted my Dad to rock me to sleep, so she spanked me and put me back in bed. I
just laid there and cried for Dad. When he came in I came rolling out of bed and he took
me in his arms and sat down to rock me to sleep before he ate his supper.
Dad was a good father to his children. He did not drink or stay out late with wild
crowds. He nearly always took his family with him anywhere he went. "Mama" as we
called her, and Dad would go to dances and parties when they were young and first
married. Dad would play the banjo at parties. Square dancing was their style in those
days and, of course, waltzing was popular too. But if the parties got too rough with
drinking and fighting, Dad and Mama would leave and go home. As their children were
born and as we grew older, they stopped going to their wild parties.
My earliest memories began when I was three years old. We still lived in Camden
County1 near Climax Springs, a little country village, not far from Irontown. I can clearly
remember the log cabin we lived in. It had a fireplace, and a very high porch. Mother put a
big stick of wood on the fire. It was too long, so one end stuck out far enough for me to sit
on my mother went out to pick up some chips. (There were always lots of chips, where
Dad cut up the wood in stove lengths to burn in the old wood cook stove and fire place.
Mother didn't let the chips just lay there and go to waste. She would pick them up to use
for kindling or store them away in a dry place for a rainy day.) Mother was out picking up
the chips in the big apron she wore over her dress at the woodpile just outside of the front
yard. (Aprons were a must for a housewife in those days.) As I sat on the stick of wood, it
burned up to me1 setting my dress on fire. I remember I had on a white dress with black
It scared me, so I ran to the front door screaming. My mother was scared, too, when
she saw me. She threw her chips down and came running to me, wrapping me in her big
apron and putting out the fire. I did not get burned very badly. It had only ruined my dress
and singed my hair a little.
There was open range in those days, and everyone's stock grazed on the wild grass
in the woods and open spaces all over the country. Late in the evening our cows would
begin coming home, getting a little closer as they grazed along. They just seemed to know
when to start home. Sometimes they would linger a little too long for my mother to get the
milking done before Dad got home for his supper. She would listen for the bell that one old
cow wore on her neck. Every family's cows wore bells, but believe it or not, every bell
would have a different sound. Mother knew her cow bell from all the others. She would
start listening for it, and if they didn't show up by five o'clock in the evening, she would
take her dog, Coaly, and go bring them in.
Coaly was a big dog now and be would help her round up the cows and help to
separate them from the neighbors cows. Mother would tell him to watch me, while she did
her evening chores. She had to feed her chickens and pigs, do the milking, and carry in
water to last over night. Sometimes she would put me on a pallet when she was working
in her garden and tell Coaly to watch me. He wouldn't let anybody or anything come close
to me, not even a chicken.
When I was about three years old and my little brother was just old enough to crawl,
she would put us on the front porch and tell me to watch him and not to let him fall off. He
was too big for me to carry, so I would hold on to his dress tail, for all little boys wore
dresses until they were two or three years old in those days.
Then she would take Coaly with her to help get the cows. She would go as fast as
she could, but sometimes when she got back I would just barely be hanging on to him. He
would be so close to the edge, and I would be pulling back on him with all my strength.
Sometimes I would be crying because I was so scared that I would let him fall.
Every family had a garden, for they had to grow what they could to help provide a
living. They would can and dry their fruits and vegetables, and store them away in their
cellars. Usually the cellars were just dugouts in the hill, or a big hole dug deep in the
ground with a roof made of round poles laid close together with enough earth piled on top
to keep it from freezing inside. Few people had cellars or basements under their houses,
especially the ones that lived in the country. Those that didn't have a cellar would bury
their potatoes, turnips, cabbage and apples in the garden.
I've watched my Dad bury our vegetables many times, he would dig a shallow hole
in the ground. Then he would line it thickly with grass or hay, put the potatoes and turnips
in the same hole with the potatoes on one side and the turnips on the other. Then he
would cover them with grass or hay and cover them real good with the soil from the
garden three or four feet deep. Nothing would ever freeze, no matter how cold it got. He
buried the cabbage and apples the same way. Then if we needed any, Dad would take
the pick and make a hole in the frozen ground and take out as many as he wanted. Then
he would put the grass or hay back in the bole and cover it up real good. You would never
know it had been opened.
Nearly every family would plant a patch of sorghum cane for making molasses. The
molasses was used for sugar, as sugar was hard to get in those days, mostly because
money was scarce. Molasses cakes and cookies were delicious, especially if my mother
made them. (well, we thought so, anyway.) Molasses making time was a big event,
requiring a lot of work. Sometimes the neighbors would exchange work with each other,
as it took two or three people to run the mill and cook the molasses.
The cane had to be just right to produce a lot of juice. Late August or early
September was the time to make molasses. The leaves, or blades, were stripped off first,
then the tops with the seeds in them were cut off. Then the long tall stalks were cut down
and hauled to the mill. The mill had big rollers to crush the juice out. Sometimes the juice
was conveyed into a barrel, but most of the time they just used a large washtub. Of
course, if there was too much juice, it would take two or three tubs.
The mill sat on a foundation made of Logs just high enough for a person to sit in a
chair and feed the cane stalks into the big rollers. They kept a big pile of cane right beside
then, where they could reach down and pick up what they wanted. There was a big long
piece of timber, shaped just right, which they called a sweep or tongue. They would hitch
a horse to the tongue, and around and around it would go all day long.
Sometimes the horse would get tired, or just plain lazy, and stop until someone
would make him go. It was the children's job to keep the horse going. That was a big lob if
the horse got stubborn and didn't want to go. They had a little stick to help persuade him
on, or lead him a round or two.
They would dig a trench in the ground, about four or five feet deep and seven or
eight feet long, and about four or five feet wide. Then they built the walls with rock, using
just plain mud for mortar to hold the rocks together, letting the wall extend three or four
feet above the ground, smoothing off the top so they could set the big pan for cooking the
molasses on it. There was a flue or chimney, (whatever you wanted to call it), at one end
for the smoke to escape. It was built with rock and mud also. One end was open to put the
wood in for the fire. This was called a furnace. The big pan had several petitions in it with
several little gates in the partitions, to let the juice through as it cooked into different
stages. They would pour the juice into the pan and get it to boiling. They used long
handled strainers to keep the scum strained off as it boiled, and large long handled
paddles to keep stirring it, so it wouldn't get too thick and burn. They had to keep the fire
just right. It had to be real hot in the front and have less heat in the back. The raw juice
was poured in at the front of the pan. As it cooked thicker, it was pushed through the little
gates into the partitions. By the time it was pushed through the last partition to the back of
the pan, the sorghum molasses was ready to run out into containers through a hole in the
bottom of the pan, which was kept closed until ready to use.
They would pick black walnuts, butternuts, hickory nuts, hazel-nuts, and pecans and
store them away for winter, which was very delicious in molasses cakes, cookies and
When my mother was real busy, working in her garden or yard, or doing any of the
other work she had to do outside, she would put my brother and I on a pallet close by and
command our faithful dog, Coaly, to watch over us. He wouldn't let anything get close to
us. He would not even let one of us cry. He would get real close to us and try to get us to
stop crying and if we didn't hush, he would go and get cur mother. I very well remember
when I was four years old, my brother and I were playing in a little pool of water in a small
branch, or brook if that is what you want to call it, that flowed close by our little log cabin.
suddenly there was a big old black snake. We started screaming and our Mom came on
the double. But Coaly was right there and had the snake killed before our Mom could get
We had moved into Morgan County by now, on Indian Creek. We did our trading, as
it was called then, (not shopping as it is called now). at a small village called Gravois Mills,
which was three or four miles from our home.
It was about then that a little baby sister came to live with us. A very dear old lady
who everyone called Aunt Caroline Bradshaw brought her to us. I was so proud of her. My
mother let me hold her. She bad lots of thick brown hair and blue eyes. I really thought she
was the most beautiful baby in the world. My mother told me I could name her and that
made me very happy. I called her Cora, after a neighbor lady whom I dearly loved
because she was the mother of my best friend.
Cora, who was later called Corrine, was born on January 23,1907, just a few days
before my fourth birthday. It was about than that I began to help my mother. she would
stand me in a chair at the dining table and put the dish pan in front of me with all the dirty
dishes stacked around me. I would wash them for her and she would dry them with her
tea towel and put them in a cupboard that Dad had built on the side of the wall. This was
just a one room log cabin that we were living in. Dad had built a lean-to (as they called it),
against the log cabin, with a one way roof, and that was our kitchen. It didn't even have a
floor in it but that was all right. Lots of log cabins didn't have any floors in them, just the
black earth which would soon get smooth and hard.
We had a very special neighbor that lived about a half a mile across, on the other
side of Indian creek. Very often my mother would take us three children and go visit with
the Allen family and their three children. Their children were all girls: Binford, the oldest,
was two years older than me, Gladys was about my brother Raymond's age, and Mary
was just a few months old.
Ham and Maybell Allen and my parents were long time friends. We children had lots
of good times together. For instance there was a time we all played in the hog waIler. You
might call it a mud hole, but whatever, it was fun while it lasted. It was a very hot and dry
time of the year. We pulled all our clothes off and got right in the middle of it. We were
having a lot of fun slapping mud on each other, even putting it our hair. When our
mothers, who had been watching us all the time, thought w~ had had enough. they called
us to the house. Then the fun really began. They put us in the wash tub and started
washing the mud off of us and washing it out of our hair.
Then there were the times our mothers would take us to the creek to swim and play
in the water. of course, there was a time we got leeches on us, and once an eel ran us out
of the water. Put most of the time it was fun1 and there was our good old faithful dog Coaly
watching us all the time.
We had a neighbor on the other side of us who we visited a lot too. They were
Charley and Anna Goins, who also had three children. My mother would put us three kids
on an old horse we had and go visit the Goins. she put my brother in front, my baby sister
behind him and me behind her so I could hold her
on. Maria walked and led the old horse. One time, Annie and her children came home with
us. There were four of us on the old horse. Lou was in the middle and was holding my little
sister on. she went to sleep and was about to fall off, and Lou couldn't hold her. We kept
telling my mother and Annie, but they were busy talking and didn't pay any attention to us
until Lou got mad and said a dirty word. Children weren't allowed to say dirty words when
we were growing up. If our mothers heard us we got our mouths washed out with soap.
nut anyway, we got our mothers to stop and see what the commotion was all about.
Then there were the Hilderbrands and Meyers. Dixie (Phillips) Meyers was my first
school teacher. I very well recall visiting in the Rob and Mae Hilderbrands home because
Joe, their second son, was so mean to my brother and me. He would say awful nasty, ugly
things to us and whip us on the legs with a switch when we got close to him. We were
really scared of him. But Maggie and Ella were good to us and we liked them. They were
older than we were too. One time they were going to take us smaller children on a picnic,
so Maggie was getting some food ready to take with us. She got a jar of the mother’s
cream that she was saving to churn for butter. Her mother caught her. Maggie knew her
mother didn't want her to get her cream. Though Maggie was ten or twelve years old her
mother slapped her jaws and made her put the cream back. That made her mad and she
wouldn't take us on our picnic.
The John Hilderbrands lived just a very short ways up the road from us. His wife was
dead, and he had two children who were grown. Mama took us kids to their house on a
Sunday to stay all day and visit with them. There were some were folks there too. Anna
was fixing dinner for her company. She was frying eggs, so Mama told her to just fry
Raymond one egg, for that was all he would eat. But when we went to the table, Raymond
decided he wanted more. Mama told him he couldn’t have but one. That made him mad
so he threw a little mad fit. What did Mama do? She took him out behind the hen house,
took his little pants down and blistered his little bottom. He was only three years old but
my Mania could make a believer out of you, if and when we didn't mind her. She would tell
us what to do and how to act when she took us visiting, and if we did anything we
shouldn't do, all we had to do was to look at her. If she shook her head at us 1 we had
better stop. She almost always waited until we got home, and we knew what was coming
to us. She never forgot, either.
There was also Alfred and Louie Hilderbrand, the old bachelors, and their
housekeeper Vestie. My parents visited them real often. They liked us kids and they
would let us go with them to do their evening chores. We would help carry in the nights
wood and gather in the eggs. The old bachelors would tease me. They both wanted me to
marry them. They would take me on their lap. and we would look at the Sears and
Roebuck catalog. They would help me pick out nice dresses they would get me. Louie told
me we would live in the hen house and he would buy me all kinds of fine clothes. Alfred
told me we would live in a big fine house with nice furniture, but no nice dresses. Well, I
took Louis, you can bet on that.
There was a time Mama took her dog Coaly on behind her on the horse and went to
Gravois Hills to do her trading. she took a big bucket of eggs with her to trade for groceries
and anything else she needed. While she was in the store, someone stole her dog. she
looked everywhere and called him, but he didn't come to her. She knew he had been
stolen, for he wouldn't go with anyone else. My brother and I were very disappointed
when our Mama told us what had happened to our faithful dog Coaly.
About three weeks later someone told my dad that they had seen him at Nathen
Farris' house, that they had him tied up and that was the reason he had not come home.
The Farrises lived about three miles from us so my mother didn't do a thing but get on her
old horse and go over to the Farris's. When she got there, old Coaly knew her and he was
so glad to see her he tried to get loose and whined and barked for her. Put they wouldn't
let him loose. They would not believe my mother. She asked them if she rode up to the rail
fence and he jumped up on the fence and hopped over behind her on the horse, would
they believe her? They said they would, so they turned him loose and that is just what he
did. My mother rode off, leaving a very disappointed family especially their son. He was
crying and calling for her to bring him back. But Coaly was happy to be back home again,
and my brother and I were happy to have him back. Although we didn't know it, Coaly was
not to be with us much longer.
The Fourth of July roiled around and there was a big picnic, or homecoming as it
was called then. Today they call them carnivals. This homecoming was to be at Eldon,
Missouri, about a half a days drive by horse and wagon. Every family in the neighborhood
went and everyone would take their own lunch and families would spread their dinner on
tablecloths spread on the ground. sometimes two or three or more families put their
dinners together. Everyone had a good time and enjoyed each other. They had lots of
cold drinks at the lemonade stand, but lemonade cost money and money was scarce.
especially for country folks. But Dad splurged what he could, and we had ice cream and
lemonade. They had fireworks at night, which was fun for us kids.
Our Uncle Mart and Aunt Jerusha McGordor lived in Eldon. Aunt Jerusha was our
mother's sister, and we would visit them while we were there and sometimes stay two or
three days. Our Uncle Mart loved us kids, and he would buy lots of things for us while we
were there. We always had a good time with Uncle Mart. They had one son. He was two
years older than I. One time Uncle Mart took us kids to the picture show. That was the first
show we had ever seen.
We enjoyed our visit with Uncle Mart and Aunt Jerusha and their son, Dillard. We
had lots of fun at the picnic. But our happiness had turned to sadness, for when we started
home our most prized possession was not to be found. Someone had stolen our faithful
Coaly1 and we never saw him again. We sure did miss him, trotting along behind our
wagon on our way home. My brother and I cried because we did love him very much.
There was another time we went to visit Uncle Mart and Aunt Jerusha. Dad took my
brother and I on our first train ride. He only bought a ticket for himself, as we kids could
ride free. We just went to Etterville, which was six miles east of Eldon. We got off and
waited for the next passenger train going to Eldon 1, which was about an hour. We hopped
on it and came back to Eldon. That was a lot of fun, we thought.
I well remember the Christmas that I was four years old. We went to our Grandpa
Hibdon's. We were up bright and early that morning and found that Santa had put a little
china doll in each of our stocking that we had hung up on the mantle of the fireplace. We
were proud of our little dolls. We had to play with them while Mama and Grandma got
breakfast. My brother dropped his doll and broke it as we were sitting on the stone hearth
of the fireplace and he was going to take mine. I was making such a fuss about it, trying to
keep him from taking mine, that Dad had to break up the fight. He said he would just take
Wezzie's, which was what he called me because he couldn't speak my name. But when
we went to the breakfast table, we had another surprise. Grandma had got us some little
tin cups with pictures of little boys and girls on them. She had them setting by our plates
with milk in them. We thought they were the prettiest cups in the world and that our
Grandma was the best Grandma in the world.
Then after breakfast we had another surprise. Dad told us to lock around and see if
Santa hadn't left us something else. So we began to search and sure enough, we found
two little glass valises full of candy. They were setting up in the window. I believe that was
the happiest Christmas I ever had. My mother had made me a new dress, it was black and
white check calico. My Grandma had got the material for me. When she got herself a new
dress, she always got enough to make me one too, no matter what the color or figure was.
We always loved to go to our Grandmas. She loved us and was good to all of us, but
I was her pet. She let everyone know it too, though she was just a step-grandma to us.
Grandma always kept her table set and she always kept her dishes washed. She
would never leave them over to the next meal, like I have seen some people do. When
she washed her plates, she would place them around the table, turning them upside
down, putting the silverware in place and covering it with a white table cloth. She always
kept two or three different kinds of jelly under that table cloth and we kids knew it. So just
as soon as we got to Grandma's, we got hungry. Just as soon as we got a chance and
caught our mother off guard, we would be tugging at Grandma's apron, asking for bread
and butter and jelly, with the jelly on top. She would always get it for us. But woe to our
little behinds when we got home! For almost always our Mother would tell us not to ask for
something to eat as soon as we got there. But it was so tempting and we were so hungry,
knowing all that good jelly and butter and homemade light bread was under that white
tablecloth, we Just forgot our promise to our Mother. Even though we had the same thing
at home, it was not as good as Grandma's. I'm sure that anyone who had a good
Grandma would agree with me; Grandmas and Grandpas are wonderful people.
Mom and Dad moved again, this time on Soap Creek, not far from Grandpa's. It
was within walking distance and Mama would take us over to Grandpa's quite often.
There was a main event that took place once a year on the first Saturday in August.
All of the neighbors and relatives gathered at the Holst cemetery (previously known as the
Richerson Cemetery), to clean it off and put flowers on the graves for their loved ones
who were buried there. The men would come as early as they could with their rakes,
hoes, picks and axes, and all would pitch in and work until it was done.
There was preaching and singing at eleven o'clock and at twelve the women would
spread their tablecloths on the ground under the big oak trees. What a feast they had
prepared. It was really delicious and everyone was hungry. They carried water from a
spring down under a steep hill. It was the young folks job to get the water. About one thirty
or two o'clock, there was singing and preaching again.
This was the way country folks showed their respect for their deceased loved ones.
It has been a tradition carried down through the years, from as far back as 1860 until the
year of 1980. It has been on the same day of the same month for all these many years.
Dad and Mama had a sale and sold everything we had but two horses and a wagon, a few
cooking utensils, a few dishes, and our clothes. Dad put some bows. as they were called,
on the wagon, then he put a large canvas over them to keep us dry if it rained and that was
our home for twelve days.
The day before we left Dad had one of the old mares out in front of the house,
milking her and letting the milk fall on the ground. He had sold her colt as it was old
enough to get along without her milk anyway. My little brother, Ralph! loved milk, so he
got his little cup and came running out, begging Dad to give him some "hosey milk". Dad
had sold all of our cows and we didn't have any milk. Baby brother cried because Dad
wouldn't let him have any "hosey milk'1.
The Bill Chapman family went with us. They were another one of our close
neighbors who visited us quite often. They had close relatives in Miami and were going
out to be with them. They had four children about our ages. Brian, the oldest, was a little
older than The, so we kids had lots of fun when we camped at the end of the day. We
always stopped before sundown. I was eight years old and I took care of my little brother
while Mama did the cooking and helped Dad with the camp chores
We saw our first automobile on the trip. That was a wonderful sight. It followed
along behind us for a long time and we just sat and looked and talked about it from where
we were in the back of our covered wagon.
We had our dog with us. He would follow along behind the wagon. He was a goad
watch dog and would take care of us children. He wouldn't let anything bother us. He was
almost as good as our faithful Coaly was. One morning we were breaking up camp at just
about sun-up. We had eaten breakfast. Dad and Bill were putting the harnesses on the
horses. I had my little brother astraddle of my hip. That was the only way I could carry him
for he was about as big as I was. He was a chubby little baby and so cute, with those
pretty brown eyes. At least I thought he was.
I was standing at the end of the wagon tongue getting ready to climb into the
wagon, for our mother had told us to get in as we were just about ready to go. Someone
spied a little black dog coming down the road. Mamma told us to hurry and get in the
wagon, for she didn't like the looks of that little dog. she was afraid he was a mad dog. He
didn't look right, his tongue was hanging out of his mouth and he was slobbering. He was
keeping to the middle of the road. He seemed to be blind, and he would have kept on
going if Brian Chapman hadn't hissed their dog on him. Their dog was a big shepherd, but
he wouldn't fight the little dog. He just tucked his tail and ran under the wagon. Then Brian
grabbed him and threw him on the little dog, and he bit him in several places. Then the
little dog turned toward our wagon.
Our dog ran between me and my little brother to protect us and got bit several
times by the little black dog. Maybe you think t wasn't scared. Well, I was. I ran up that
wagon tongue and got in the wagon real fast. About that time a man came along with a
hammer in his hand and asked if we had seen a little black dog, which of course, to our
sorrow, we had. But the little dog had gone on down the road. The man told Dad that the
little dog was mad and had bitten his dog and some of his hogs1 too. He was following the
little dog but hadn't caught up with him. Dad had just told Mama that the little dog wasn't
mad. He had laughed at her and told her there wasn't any harm in him. We never did
know if the man ever found him or not.
Our parents held a little conference just outside of our wagon and decided our
dogs would have to be killed. So Dad and Bill had to take our dogs up to a farm house and
get the farmer to kill them. We kids had cried and begged for them, but to no good. We
heard the shots. Then the squalling and bawling began so loud the farmer could have
heard us if he had been listening. But my mother said she wasn't about to take chances
on the dogs going on with us, so that was that. In other words, that was the law with the
bark on it
I remember another time when we camped. It was by a big river and the cliffs were
high. The road wound around and down to the river where we crossed a big bridge. the
first of that kind we kids had ever seen. We camped on the side of the river before we
crossed the bridge on a flat where we could look down on the river. As I said before we
always camped early. As I remember it had been a long hot day and every one was tired,
including the horses. Dad and Bill unhooked the horses from the wagon and took the
harness off of them and lead them down a very steep bank to the river so they could drink.
Mama and Mrs. Chapman fixed some rocks together and built a fire in between them and
cooked our suppers. Of course, we kids had to do a little exploring. We found same pretty
rocks and some broken dishes, so naturally we built a playhouse. We had a good time. It
was almost dark when our mothers put us to bed. There were some more people camped
there too. It seemed to be a regular campground for travelers.
Well, our journey was almost over now. We arrived at our destination on a Sunday
about noon at the Watson home. They were relatives of the Chapmans but they made us
welcome too. That is where we all made our home until we could find a home of our own.
I remember one thing that stands out very clearly in my mind, of a very naughty trick I did
while we were at the Watsons. "How awful kids can be". Well, I was one of the bad ones.
They had a big garden and on the far side they had three or four rows of a very special
kind of sorghum , or sugar cane as they called it. They wanted to let it get real ripe. to see
how good it would be and were going to save the seed to plant the next year. They had
told us kids to stay out of the garden and not to break any of it down. Well. one afternoon
I decided to walk around and explore the place all by myself. It was vary warm and
everyone was just lolling around and some were sleeping. Most of the kids were taking
their afternoon naps too. I never was one to sleep in the daytime, so here I was just
wandering around, not caring where I went. So all of a sudden 1 I found myself right behind
the garden and no one could see me. Well, I knew right There and then I was going to
climb that high wire fence and break down a stalk of cane and chew it to get the juice out
of it, for we kids liked to chew cane stalks when Dad was making Molasses. I climbed
back over the fence with my stalk of cane and sat right down on the ground and pulled the
leaves off, I peeled it and chewed every bit of it, but I left the chewed up bits and the
leaves piled up right where I had been sitting.
Well, you know the Bible tells you to be sure your sins will find you out. well, that is
exactly what happened to me- for in a few days someone found my little pile of chewed up
cane. Of course, we kids were all rounded up and questioned, but no one seemed to
know anything about it me included. For a long time I felt very guilty about it, but I never
did tell anyone.
In a few weeks Dad found a job making railroad ties over in the river bottom. It was
about two miles over there and he had to walk to work. It wasn't long after Dad went to
work that he took Mama over with him one day and they picked out a spot to build a
house. It was about a quarter of a mile from Spring River, at the edge of the timber where
Dad was working and on the north of a very large peanut field, when they harvested their
peanuts that fall they left plenty of peanuts laying all over the field and they told us we
could have all we wanted. That was lots of fun for us kids to roam, all over the field and
find all the peanuts we wanted. All the peanuts we had ever seen growing before this was
about two short rows in our Grandma Hibdon's garden.
Anyway. the men from all around came and cut down trees and hauled them up to
this spot that Dad and Mom had picked out. They all flew in and built us a log cabin to live
in, in no time flat. Mama and all the neighbor women cooked food for them while they
worked and then before you could say Jack Robertson, we were living in our new home.
Our little house faced the south, with the big trees in front. We were surrounded with
trees, except for the peanut field at the back of us. It was a beautiful spot to build a house.
We had close neighbors all around us. The Adams family lived in sight of us, just across
the river. There was a big bridge across the river to their house. There were two boys and
two girls of the Adams children about our ages, and we visited them quite often. There
was another family that lived in a tent right on the river bank who we visited too.
We were in Indian country, some called it the Indian Nation. We had some Indian
neighbors too. There was a little old man whose name was White. He came to see us just
as soon as we moved in to our new home, to welcome us to their country. He couldn't
speak English very well. The first time he came. he turned at the door and came in
backwards. That was his way of welcoming his new neighbors. We thought that was really
funny, but when he left our mother really gave us a lecture because we had snickered at
his back. I don't think he ever saw us but Mom had and we knew better than to do a thing
like that again. He was a good old fellow and was at our house quit. often.
Well, it was time for my brother Raymond and I start to school. We had to walk
three miles across the prairie except for about a half mile of woods as we left our house.
The Adams kids went with us part of the way, we had to separate at the far edge of the
woods. My brother and I had to come all the way through the woods by ourselves coming
home. It would be almost dark sometimes when we got home, especially when the days
got shorter. There were wolves in the woods and sometimes we could hear them howling
in the distance. We were scared and we would run nearly all the way home. Sometimes, if
it was raining or cloudy, our Mother would come to meet us and were we ever glad to see
her. We were really afraid we would meet a wolf and he would talk to us like he did to
Little Red Riding Hood in the story book
But most of all our mother was worried and afraid we would run off and go back to
Grandpa Hibdon's back in Missouri, for she over-heard us making plans on how and just
what we could do if we did try to go back to Grandpa's. We were very serious and were
really thinking very strongly of running off, for we were homesick, especially Raymond.
We had talked about it several times on our way to school. But one day on a Sunday we
weren't in the mood to play, so we were just sitting on the door step, making plans. We
didn't know our mother just happened to be right inside the door listening to every word
we said. My brother was doing most of the planning. He said we could just slip off some
morning and nobody would miss us. We knew it would be a long journey. I was worried
about something to eat and Raymond said we could stop at people's houses and ask for
rood and they would give us something to eat. I told him we would get awful tired walking
so far, but he said, "Weezie, we will get rides with people, In wagons going our way." He
even thought we might ride dogs that were going our way too, but I wasn't so sure about
that way of travel.
When our mother saw that we really were serious, she stepped out from behind the
door and ended our plans in a hurry. We were all homesick, including Mom and Dad.
We went to Sunny Side School. There were a lot of Indian children going there too.
We had to pass one Indian home on our way. It was a big white two story house with a big
yard and lots of big shade trees. It was a beautiful place. The family who lived there had
four or five children. Their name was Peckum. We thought that was a very funny name,
and as Raymond was always teasing someone he couldn't keep from calling this Indian
girl Ruby Bittum1 as Ruby was her first name. But he got into trouble. It made her mad and
she gave him a chase for his life. But the Peckums were a nice family and sometimes they
would have us to stop and go in with them and their mother would give us cookies and
We had a very naughty teacher. Miss Gertie Brown was her name. She had her
pets and made it known very plainly. but I was not one of them. She seemed to almost
hate me and a little orphan girl named Nellie Hayhurst who lived with her grandmother.
She was a sickly lacking child and small for her age. We were the same age and the same
grade. We wanted to sit together but Miss Brown wouldn't let us. Instead, she put my
brother in the seat with her, which was embarrassing to her and she cried about it. Boys
and girls just did not sit together in school in those days. The other kids laughed at her and
made fun of her for sitting with a boy.
My brother was one of Miss Brown's pets and she would even take him on her lap
and help him with his lessons and give him candy. She would tell Raymond to pinch Nellie
if she even touched him or any of his books, which he did. Then Nellie would cry and Miss
Brown would punish her for crying. Miss Brown even told Raymond to push Nellie off the
porch one day, and he did, for no reason at all, only just to be mean to her. I would feel so
sorry for her and I would scold Raymond for being so mean to her and Miss Brown would
punish me for scolding my little brother. I would tell Mother what he had done and she
would scold him for it. but it didn't do any good, for he would do it again the very next day.
Miss Brown would make me stay in after school if I misspelled a word in my
spelling class or could not pronounce a word in my reading. We would often have to stay
fifteen or twenty minutes and sometimes thirty minutes. That would make my brother and
I have to go all the three miles by ourselves and sometimes it would be almost dark when
we got to the woods. We would be so scared we would hold on to each other and run until
we would be so tired we would have to sit down and rest just a little while. Then we would
hear a wolf howl far off or hear something move in the brush near by, then we would get
up and run again. I was always a fraidy cat, and I would start crying but Raymond would
get me by the hand and say "Weazie" come on, don't be afraid we will meet Mama pretty
soon." And we would.
Mama would send Miss Brown a note almost every day, asking her not to keep us
in after school. She told her to punish me some other way if I had to be punished.
Sometimes she would read Mama's note and most times she would not even look at it. I
studied very hard and Mama would help me at night, so I would know my lesson. Even if
I did not miss any words, Miss Brown would find an excuse of some kind to keep me in
anyway, which would make our mom pretty mad. Then Mama would write her a very
snooty note1 which didn't do any good. She would just read it and throw it into the
Soon the weather got bad and cold1 so Mama just kept us home. Dad and Mama
took us to the county fair that fall, over in Miami. We went around and saw all the exhibits
on display and saw a bundle of rice before it was threshed out of its tiny pods. That was
the first rice we had seen in the bundle like that. Dad had bought a cow, for we all liked
milk and that was part of our living. He had built a barn not far from the house, as winter
was just around the corner and he had to have shelter for the horses, and for the cow, too.
Well, one morning we kids were playing out in front of the house while Mama was hanging
out her clothes on the line to dry, for it was a real warm sunny day for doing the washing.
(that is what we called it back in my time nowadays it's the laundry.)
To our surprise, who do you think we saw walking around our cow giving her the
once over? well, of course, it was Uncle Henry who had told Dad not to buy a cow when
he got to the Indian Nation. St without even speaking to any of us or acting like he was
glad to see us, he just walked up to Mama and asked whose cow was that before she
hardly had time to answer his question, he said 1 thought I told John not to buy a cow."
Well of course, she told him they had bought the cow for we all needed the milk. When
Dad came in from work, that was the first thing Uncle Henry said to him too, but Dad,
being a very good natured man, just passed it off as if ht did not remember him telling him
not to buy a cow. Soon Uncle Henry was in a better mood, telling Dad all the news from
back home and he stayed around for several weeks.
As Autumn wore on into winter and the snow began to fall and drift around our
house, it seemed as though our little cabin was almost buried in the snow. there was one
big snow drift between the cabin and barn so high we could not see the barn. Dad had to
shovel a path to the barn. Then it froze so hard we could walk over the snow and not fall
in. The snow came about Christmas time and stayed on all winter.
But things began to go wrong. My sister came down with pneumonia fever and was
real bad for days. The doctor came and stayed all night with her one night, for he didn't
think she would live till morning. The neighbors came and sat up with us all night for
several nights, until she began to get better. Then Dad got the malaria fever and he was
sick nearly all winter.
Christmas came and we were looking for Santa Claus. So on Christmas Eve we
kids sat our shoes on the dining table for Santa to put something in them. we were so
excited we didn't want to go to bed and Dad had to scold us and make us go to bed. Then
we woke up in the middle of the night and saw something on the table and we just knew
that Santa had already come. We were about to get up and see what it was, but Dad
made us get back in bed and wait until morning. My, that was really hard to do! We just
could not go back to sleep. Dad had to scold us two or three times to make us stop
talking1 before we finally went to sleep. But just about daylight, Raymond woke up and
called for "Wezzie" to wake up and look, for he knew old Santa had left him a little buggie
for he could see the whip sticking up in it.
We always left our lamp burning at night. Well, Dad male us stay in bed until he got
up and made a fire in the old box heating stove and got the house good and warm. But
you can be sure we were out of that bed. so fast you couldn't blink an eye when he finally
told us we could. I really don't remember what my brother got except a Jack in the Bean
Stalk story book. But my sister Cora and I got a little cook stove with a set of little pots and
pans to go with it. And I got a Little Red Riding Hood story book and Cora got a Cinderella
story book. We all got some candy.
As far as we children were concerned we had a very happy Christmas. But as I
said before, we were all homesick Dad was still sick and couldn't work. My little brother
Ralph got sick. I was the only one that did not get sick. Our mother wasn't really sick, but
she did not feel the best in the world, for she was so very homesick, too. It was awfully
cold and snowed a lot. The neighbors helped Dad get in some wood. My brother
Raymond and I helped to carry the wood in at night to keep our house warm. We would
help Mother get in the nights water too. We got our water from a spring quite some
distance from the house. He carried the water in a gallon bucket. Sometimes we had to
make several trips to have enough to last overnight.
One very cold morning Mama had to go do the chores, as Dad was sick and could
not do very much work at all. She had to feed and water the horses and cow and milk the
cow too. My job was to take care of my baby brother, who was sick too. He was crying for
Mama and would not let me do anything for him. I was trying very hard to do everything I
could to please him, so I gave him my yellow headed china doll to play with. I thought that
would stop him from crying. Because he was mad at me anyway, he just grabbed my doll
out of my hands and hit it over the heating stove, breaking it into a half dozen pieces.
When Mama came in I was just sitting there holding him on my lap and we were both
crying. I don't know just what I did after my mother came in but I do know one thing, when
she took my baby brother in her arms, he hushed crying, but there lay my doll broken into
so many pieces that it couldn't be fixed..
But my little brother was sick for a long time. Then to "cap it all off', as the old
saying goes, my brother Raymond got sick. He stayed in bed all the time and wouldn't eat
anything, so Mama and Dad got very worried about him and got a neighbor to get the
doctor from Miami. It was six or seven miles and no one had a telephone. When the
doctor got there he had to take care of the whole family, except Mama and I. He was a
very nice person and was so kind to all of us. But he said that Raymond was just plain
He tried to get him to eat but Raymond didn't want anything but some peaches that
Grandma Hibdon had canned. So the doctor told him he would bring him some peaches
just like Grandma's, but Raymond did not want them because Grandma had not canned
them. Then the doctor told him he would bring him some chicken and dumplings if he
would eat them. "That is if it didn't have to be one of Grandma's old blue hens." Well,
Raymond raised himself up in bed and declared that Grandma had some old blue hens all
right. That made the doctor laugh and say he was doing some good now, for he was trying
to get Raymond mad so he would forget being homesick.
By the time spring rolled around, in March to be exact, Dad and Mama had a sale
and sold everything we had but our clothes and a few keepsakes. They bundled us kids
up and a neighbor took us to Miami. There Dad bought some train tickets for him and
Mama. We kids got on free. So then we were on the train headed for good old Missouri
and Grandpa's house. My, what a trill to know we were going to see our Grandpa and
Grandma again. It had been almost seven months since we had seen them. Dad had
bought our tickets for Eldon, Missouri, and the first place we landed was at our beloved
Uncle Mart and Aunt Jerusha McGorders house, which was alright with all of us. Uncle
Mart's house was just a short distance from the depot. We could even see it when we got
off the train. Uncle Mart met us at the train and helped us with our baggage. We had to
walk to the house. They had board sidewalks in Eldon then and you could hear us coming
long before we got there. Aunt Jerusha and Dillard were waiting on the porch for us.
Well, we were getting close to Grandpa's house and our next stop would be it, only
a few miles west of Eldon. We would go to Grandpa's just as soon as Dad could buy a
team and wagon. But in a few days, Grandpa and Grandma came to Aunt Jerusha's to
see us. That sure was a happy day for all of us.
But it fell our lot to live in Eldon for a while. Dad rented a house for us, not very far
from Aunt Jerusha's. It was a two room hewed log house with a big grassy yard and some
big elm trees for shade. It was a beautiful place. There was a big apple orchard on the
south of the house, also a big garden, and my mother grew lots of vegetables that
summer. We got water from a well, drawing with a rope and well bucket. There was a big
black walnut tree just outside of the back yard fence, where we had a playhouse and we
played there a lot. One day Raymond and I had made some mud horses and chickens
and set them on an old table we had in our playhouse to dry. Mama called us in for our
noon meal and while we were gone some boys slipped in and stole them. We always
thought we knew who got them, but we were never sure. Some boys had passed by while
we were making them. They were some neighbor boys, but we didn't know them very
But we had good neighbors all around us. There was one old lady who lived a
quarter of a mile east of us. Her name was Lydia Taylor. She had a big farm and milked
several cows and sold milk to the folks in town. She also had chickens and eggs. At one
time they had owned slaves and she still had one black man staying there and helping her
with the farm work, as her husband was dead. She lived in a big two story house that was
very spooky looking to my brother and I. Mama would send us over there every day to buy
milk and eggs from her. We were scared of the black man, or "nigger" as we called him.
Even the old lady was spooky looking herself but she was a good old lady and she liked
us kids. Sometimes when she didn't have our milk ready, she would have us come into
her kitchen and give us some cake or cookies. Then she would tell us to go out through
the front door. We were scared to death. We were afraid we would see more "niggers"
hiding somewhere and peeking at us, or maybe grab us. Were we ever glad to get away
from that house. We would run like turkeys until we got out of sight of the house.
Then just south of the orchard and across a meadow, there were the Sparks. Marie
was their oldest daughter. She and I were best of friends and we were about the same
age. We would meet at the edge of the orchard and play. That was about half way
between our homes and we had a playhouse there. She brought Things from her house
and I would bring things from my house, such as broken dishes, old tin cups, bottles, or
anything we could find and make believe we had a fine house. We had a playhouse each,
a short distance apart and we would visit each other. We both had baby brothers and
sometimes we would bring them with us and play like they were our babies. We were in
hollering distance of our homes and when our mothers needed us they would call us.
But one time I remember I wanted to go to Marie's house to play, but Mama said
no, that I couldn't go for some reason or other that I didn't know. But anyway. I was all
peaved so l just mosied off toward the road, where I was out of sight of my Mother. I only
aimed to sit down and pout a while, but after I had my pouting over, the thought struck me
to go on anyway as I was on the road headed that way. I'd stay a little while and Mama
wouldn't miss me, so I thought. But how wrong I was, for I was feeling pretty guilty about
the whole thing as I started back home. I had only got a short distance from their house
when I saw Mama coming with a switch in her hand. I knew what was coming so I crawled
under the fence to make her think I was just playing along the road. But of course she
knew better and I soon found out that I was not fooling her one little bit. She sure made me
wish I had never slipped off, and I never did do it a second time.
Then one afternoon Dad took us three older kids down to the Sparks and told us
we could stay all night. He told us that he and Mama were going to pick huckleberries and
would be gone until the next day, and we were to stay until he came for us. That was
alright with us, for we could have a good time at the Sparks. About ten o'clock the next
morning Dad came to take us home, but guess what? He told us we had a little baby sister
and her name was Janie Opal. She was so cute and the prettiest little girl you ever saw,
as far as I was concerned. And to think they had found her in the huckleberry patch, which
seemed a little fishy to me. But we believed it, because Dad said it was so, and he must
be right because she was our very own little baby sister. Mama let me hold her and I was
so proud of her. But we were not to get to keep her very long, only nine days. She was so
very sick for three or four days and so was our mother. Little Janie Opal was born June
29,1911. The Good Lord, the Master of our lives, saw fit to take her on home, as the
beautiful song goes "to bloom in the Master's bouquet." But it was very hard to give her
up. We all cried and I remember Dad taking Raymond and I on his lap and comforting us.
Our mother was still too sick and weak to go to the funeral. They put her in a little
white casket and Dad let us see her. They took her to the HoIst (Richerson) cemetery, not
far from Grandpa Hibdon's place, on Soap Creek, south of Versailles. As I said before,
Mother and Dad had their ups and downs1 good times and hard times, just like many
other families have, as they journeyed down the road of life. But this was one of the
saddest times they faced for several years. But again they came out on top together,
ready to face life with a determination to win.
School started the last week in August and Raymond and I were all primed and
ready to go. I was in the third grade and Raymond was in the second that year. We didn't
have far to walk. Marie would come by and we would walk together. Our landlord's name
was Pinkberry, and we had to pass by his house on our way to school. He and his wife
were real nice to us and give us candy and cookies. They had a parrot that could talk and
sometimes she would hang his cage out on the front porch. When we passed by he would
say "Hello, Polly wants a cracker"
One day our mother was with us. She stopped to talk to Mrs. Pinkberry
and Raymond was eating candy and had it all over his face. The parrot called him a dirty
faced boy. This embarrassed Raymond and he hid behind Mama because we all laughed
But our school days were shortened here at Eldon. We were going to move again,
this time about five or six miles northeast of Versailles near a small place called Enid.
There was only a little country store1 a black smith shop, and two dwelling houses. Dad
was going to work on a farm for Tom and George Brown, who were brothers. They were
old friends of Dad's, and Tom had been Dad's guardian where Dad was left alone after the
death of his father. Dad was only sixteen years old when his father died. His mother had
died when he was two years old and Grandpa Lee had never married again. So Dad had
made his home most of the time with an older brother and the Brown family until. He was
about twenty years old. Then he had made a trip to the Indian Nation in Oklahoma,
working in and around Miami and Vinita. Living with his only half-sister, Susan Minson
and her family He was twenty-one when he came back to Missouri and met our mother.
Well, anyway, we moved into a small three-room house out there on the prairie
where there were not very many trees and lots of wide-open fields. There were big
farmhouses and windmills everywhere. We had a big shade tree and a beautiful lilac
bush in the front yard. That is where we had our playhouse, right behind this big lilac
bush. There was a big garden on the west of us, also a small barn, and Dad bought a cow
just as soon as he could and some hens to lay our eggs,. We were doing pretty good,
“living the life of Riley”, as they say today.
We got our water from a big dug well or cistern as it was called. It was quite some
distance from the house at the edge of a big wheat field. There was a little path or short
cut across the wheat field and across the little brook or branch, as some would call it. We
could jump across it. On top of this rolling hill was where George Brown, his wife Ollie,
and his bachelor brother Tom lived. They had a big house and lots of trees and flowers
everywhere. They had one of those big windmills to pump their water into a big water tank
for their stock. That was a sight for us kids. We had seen windmills all around over the
country but had never seen one pumping water.
East of their house was a big apple orchard and lots of peaches too. There was also
a long row of peaches on the west of the house along the edge of a meadow. They had a
building at the east edge of the orchard, which they used, for storage and drying sheds for
drying their apples and peaches. Sometimes we kids would go up to this house and play.
They gave us all the apples and peaches we could use. Mama made lots of peach and
apple butter that summer. She cooked it in a big iron kettle over a fire out in our
backyard, using a big long paddle to stir it with. That was Raymond’s job, to help stir it, as
he liked to do it. He also had to keep the fire going. Raymond and I carried the apples to
the house and Mama would peel and core them for making the butter, and for canning
too. We would help her peel and core them sometimes.
Then we carried peaches from this row of peach trees at the edge of the meadow. It
was a long way across the meadow and sometimes we would make two or three trips a
day. We had to climb over a wire fence and go up quite a steep grade to get to the
peaches, but we did it almost every day until the peaches were all gone. I was nine years
old and Raymond was eight that summer.
We were old enough to help our mother do a lot of work around the place. She
would have us carry in the night’s water from the cistern. We fed the chickens and
gathered in the eggs. We even helped her to put out the garden. We helped with the
housework too. Our mother was sick a lot that year. We did not know why, but Dad would
take her over to Latham to see the doctor once a month. Sometimes he would take her to
the old family doctor, Dr. Jack Gunn, in Versailles. So you see, we had to help our mother
because she was sick.
But we had lots of time to play too, and one of our favorite places to play was at the
drying shed on top of the hill at the east end of the orchard. We could play up there when
it was raining and the Browns didn't care. Sometimes our mother would fix us a lunch and
we would take it up to the shed or to some shady tree or just anywhere we chose to go.
We would spread our lunch out on the ground and have a little picnic all of our own. One
time we took our lunch and spread it out by the side of the road near our house on the
bank of the little branch (or brook), in the shade of the big beautiful wild rose bush that
was in full bloom. We broke off big bunches of roses and decorated our table. We always
took our little brother Ralph with us. He was four years old then.
There was a time that my sister Corine (Cora) was playing in our playhouse, out by
the lilac bush. We had got tired. We had been playing with our big china dolls that old
Santa had brought us. So when we got tired we came running in the house, rushing right
on through the front room as we called it in those days, into the kitchen where Mama was
getting supper. As I came by the bed I threw my doll on the bed, so as Corine came
running by she threw her doll on the bed too, hitting my doll and breaking it into a half a
dozen pieces. Then the bawling began. Of course I couldn't keep from crying. It seemed
like I was always getting my dolls broken by someone else. Though Mama glued her up,
she was never pretty any more with all the marks on her face.
Then Mama gave me a little chicken to raise all of my own. I was so proud of him. I
named him Bob. The other chickens would fight with him~ so I kept him in the house. He
was a real pet. I could pick him up anywhere. He was about half grown and had two shiny
tail feathers. But he had got hurt when he was small and his tail was crooked Mama got
tired of him being in the house all the time and in everyone's way. He just would not stay
out with the other chickens. So Mama made me take him up to the little country store at
Enid and sell him. I got fifty cents for him and I go myself a new dress with my money.
That is I got some material to make a dress. I sure hated to sell my little rooster, Bob. But
still I was proud of my fifty cents and my new dress. Mother cut my new dress out and let
me sew it on her sewing machine. I was really proud of myself that I could make my own
dress and I told everyone I saw about it. Mama let me make my doll clothes on her
sewing machine. She even let me make my baby sisters clothes. But that was after she
got her, on August 17, 1913. We didn't even know they had her ordered as they told us
Dad got us kids up in the middle of the night and took us to Kenneth and Grace Hunters 1
a very close neighbor who lived in sight of our house on the north of us. He told us that
Mama was sick and for us to stay until he came for us, which was about ten o'clock the
next morning. Would you know it1 we had another little baby sister She was the prettiest
and the cutest baby girl I had ever seen with all that black curly hair and blue eyes. Well,
she was just a pretty as my big doll that Dillard had given me. Anyway, Dad told us the Dr.
Jack Gunn had brought her to us. Dad said Doctor Jack had some more babies in his car.
There was even a little black baby in there. He said that the black baby had pinched our
little baby on the arm1 leaving a black spot. Later on down the road of life we were to learn
that it was a birthmark. We took Dad at his word though, but we sure did not like it one little
bit that this little nigger baby had pinched our baby.
You can be sure I wanted to hold her, so Mama let me sit in our little rocking chair
and rock her. Oh, I was so proud of her. wanted to name her Georgie and Dad wanted to
name her Pauline, So that became her name, "Georgie Pauline". I soon found out that I
had to help care for her a lot in the weeks and months and even the years to come, for our
mother was very sick all that summer. I was now ten years old.
Dad continued to take our mother to the doctor a lot, so most of the housework fell
on us kids. Well, for one thing, Dad wasn't making enough money to hire help. I had to
learn to cook. Ham would sit in the kitchen door or by the cook stove and keep the fire
going for me. At times she felt like sitting up, and sometimes she would help me peel the
potatoes. She would tell me what to do and how to do it. I even made the bread, as we
could not buy baked bread in those days, especially country folks. Raymond and Corine
had to help too. They would set the table and help to keep the fire going. We had to keep
the oven just right to bake the bread and watch it pretty close to keep it from burning. We
all had to pitch in and do the housework, sweeping, mopping, and making beds. The one
thing that Corine did not like to do was the dishes. She would have a headache just as
soon as she finished eating her meal. Mama thought she really did have a headache for a
long time and would give her a pill. But Corine never did swallow them. Most of the time
she would lie down on the bed, and spit them out over behind her bed or slip outside and
spit them out. When she didn't want to take her pill she would slip out and hide until I got
the dishes washed.
Corine should have known that our mother would find out sooner or later, for she
was always moving the furniture around from one side of the room to the other and that is
just what happened. She had us help her move everything around and clean out from
behind the bed, and low and behold, there were Corine’s pills, which she had to give an
account for. To be sure, Mama was all riled up and very disappointed in Corine. Mama
didn't whip her, but that doesn't mean she was not punished. That means she had to wash
dishes even if she did have a headache, which she didn't. But sometimes she would slip
off anyway and stay gone until she thought I had them washed. So Mama would have me
wash them and leave them in the dishpan for her to dry and put away when she did come
in. We had to use a dishpan, for we didn't have a sink or modern ways of doing things in
Our Mama was very particular about her dishes. She would examine them when we
got them done, especially if we did them in a hurry so we could get out to play. lf they were
not just so-so or not put away in their proper places, we had to come right back and do
them over. We've all had to do our work over from time to time when we did not do it right
the first time. I remember having to do the laundry and ironing over many times until I
learned to do it right. The first time I did the laundry Dad helped me. Of course I had
helped Mama wash our clothes a few times, but l didn't know all about how it was really
done. So Dad got right in there and we put out a big washing. Dad wasn't in the habit of
helping do many things around the house, but since Mama was sick he had been doing a
lot of housework and showing us kids how to work too.
Dad had all of us helping with the wash. Raymond and Corine carried the water from
the cistern at the edge of the wheat field and put it in a big iron kettle out in the back yard.
Dad built a fire under it to heat the water. We put two washtubs on a long wooden bench
in the shade of the house. We had two of them, one to wash our cloths in, and one for the
rinse water. We washed all the white things first and put them in the big kettle with a lot of
soap, (most usually it was homemade lye soap). We boiled them to get them really white,
punching them and stirring them every now and then with a long stick. Usually the stick
was made from an old broomstick. Then we washed the colored things, rubbing them on
the old washboard and washing them through two waters so they would be really clean.
Then we would rinse them through two waters to get all the soap out. We starched all our
pillowcases, table clothes, and almost all of our dresses. We also starched Dad's and the
boy's Sunday shirts and pants and sometimes their overalls. We made our starch with
flour and boiling water, thinning it with cold water so our clothes wouldn't be too stiff. Then
Dad helped me to hang them on the line to dry. He hung his shirts up by the sleeves and
Mama laughed at him, for that wasn't the way she hung them up. But Dad didn't care how
much she teased him. Our dad was a very good-natured man, though he did have a
temper and when he did get mad you had better think twice before you said too much to
Well, it was school time again and we were starting to a new school. I was in the
fourth grade this year and very proud of myself. I loved to go to school and always got
along real good in my grades. Raymond was in the third grade and Corine was in the first.
This was her first year.
We went to Sunny Side School. It was about two miles if we went around the road
but we cut across the fields sometimes as it was closer. That way we could stop and eat
persimmons on our way home. One evening some big boys followed us and they got my
brother to climb the tree to shake the persimmons down. These boys were mad at
Raymond so they threw persimmons at him and wouldn't let him come down for a long
time. That caused us to be late getting home and our mother scolded us. She gave us a
certain time to get home and we had better get there on time or we got into trouble. She
said if we hurried on home we would be getting into trouble with the other kids, for there
was a host of us going the same way for about a mile.
We had lots of fun at school and we played lots of games, such as "Black Man”,”
New York", "New Orleans”,” Dare Base", "Baseball", "Ring Around the Rosey", "Drop the
Handkerchief', and "Hide and Go Seek". Then there were several games we played
inside when it was raining or too cold to play outside during noon hour or recess. We
played "Tic-Tac-Toe" and "Hang Man" on the blackboard. Then there was "Hen Pen",
"Take Home What You Borrowed", and "Who Was You With, What Was You Doing,
When and Where Were You Are' Our teacher would most always play with us and
sometimes she would let us go ice skating during the noon hour on this little creek that run
close by the school house. Sometimes she would go with us smaller kids. When the snow
was deep enough some of the boys would bring their sleds and sometimes they would
pull us girls and little kids up and down the road.
We had lots of fun playing in the snow, throwing snow balls at one another and lying
down in the snow making the print of a body in the snow and making a snow man. Our
teacher would help us make a snow man.
There was a deep ditch we had to cross to get to our skating hole as we called it. We
girls had our play house on the other side of the ditch too, under some big oak trees. As it
was hard to cross some of the boys brought some wide boards and made a bridge over
the ditch for us to cross over on. One day my sister Corine and some more kids were
running across the bridge, when a big boy came running across too with another boy
chasing him. He didn't pay any attention to my sister and pushed her off as he passed her
and threw her shoulder out of place. That was at the noon hour and she cried until the last
recess so the teacher told me to take her home. Mama tried to doctor her by bathing it
with hot water and rubbing liniment and turpentine on it. But it didn't do any good and she
cried all night. So the next morning Dad and Mama took her to Versailles to Dr. Jack
Gunn. He took her on his lap and put her good arm up across his head and told her to pull
his hair if it hurt her as he put her shoulder back in place. He was bald. Anyway it did hurt
and she raked her fingernails across his head leaving some very red marks on his bald
Corine did not get to go back to school that winter as she and the rest of the kids
took the whooping cough. I had already had the whooping cough when 1 was about a
year old and my mother thought I was going to die. She laid me out for dead one time 1 I
was so bad. So she was really worried. She thought the rest of the kids would be as bad
as I had been but they weren't. They got along real good.
1 had to go to school by myself. I didn't miss too many days. When I did miss it was
on account of the weather being too cold and snowy.
Then Christmas came. Our teacher got some of the big boys to go and find a big
nice cedar tree and they helped her to put it up. She brought a big pan of popcorn and
some needles and thread. Then she let us girls string it on the thread. When we got it all
strung on the thread she let all of us help her decorate the tree. We made paper chains
out of different colored paper and strung them on the tree too.
During the noon hour1 after we ate our lunch, she would take the whole school
outside with her, at least the ones that wanted to go. Someone had to stay with the
smaller children anyway. She took us to search for bittersweet berries. Usually you could
find them along the road side or along the fences. They were orange and red in color and
made beautiful decorations for our tree. We gathered arm loads of buck brush berries too.
They were dark red in color also. Then our teacher and the older girls took cedar
branches and put them together with the berries to make a very beautiful decoration for
each window and door too. We also put some on the tree. We didn't have any colored
lights like we do today, but it was a beautiful tree. It was the first Christmas tree I had ever
seen, and I thought it was wonderful.
The teacher wrote all of our names on a slip of paper and put them in a box and we
drew names. Each of us had to close our eyes and draw out a name. Then we had to get
a present for the one whose name we drew out. Somehow I just don't remember whose
name I got, but I do know who got mine. It was Percie Paul, a close neighbor of ours, and
he got me a story book about Tom Thumb, which I was very proud of. I did love to read
and I still do. Our teacher had a Christmas program. We had to practice on it for weeks. I
had to recite a little poem. It was the first time I had ever stood up before a crowd and I
was plenty scared. But I made it and my mother and daddy were real proud of me.
Our parents didn't have much money to buy presents for us kids that year with
Mother being sick so much of the time, but we had real nice Christmas anyway. Santa left
us a big basket of goodies hanging on the front door knob. Believe it or not, there is a
Santa Claus. Well, he did leave us a whole basket full of things, didn't he? It was
Christmas Eve and we were getting ready for bed when Dad just happened to open the
door and there it was. There were toys for all of us kids and handkerchiefs for Dad and
Mama. There was candy, nuts1 oranges and apples. It was a real surprise. We never did
know who put them there but Dad always thought the Browns did it. But of course we kids
just knew it was Santa. He would never miss us, he was such a good old fellow we
Well, as bad as I hate to tell this ugly story on myself, I'll have to do it1 and as long as
I live I'll never live it down. I was a very naughty girl. You see I was stealing an apple out of
this girl's lunch pail. She would always bring an extra apple to eat at the last recess. I did
not have to do it because we had plenty of apples at home. But anyway, I decided to get
that apple. It was cold so the door was kept closed and no one would see me, so I
thought. There was a little room in front of the school house where we kept our lunch pails
All of the kids had to go to the back house now and then and I was no exception. The
teacher would only let one go at a time. We had to raise our hand and ask permission.
Sometimes we would have to raise our hand two or three times before the teacher would
notice you and sometimes there would be two or three hands up at the same time. So we
would have to catch her looking toward us. On this day of all days, I raised my hand and
asked if I could go to the outhouse or "privy," as some called it in those days. She excused
me and I went out, careful closing the door behind me, though first getting into this girls
lunch pail and getting her apple so I could eat it before I came back into the house. I had
done it the days before and did not get caught. But this time I didn't have the door closed
good enough and the wind blew the door open and slammed it back against the wall so
hard that everyone in the school room looked around and saw me as I was about to put
my hand into her lunch pail. I rushed into the room and took my seat just as though I had
not done a thing. This girl saw me but she did not tell the teacher, for she was busy at the
black board and did not look around. You can bet this: I never was guilty of stealing any
more apples. You know the Bible tells us that our sins will find us out, and it is just what
happened to me that day. I was very ashamed and could not look that girl in the face for a
long time. But she was very nice to me and I liked her for that.
There was a girl whose name was Ada Driver and she was my best friend. We were
the same age and in the same grade at school. We walked part of the way home together.
I remember the last time we walked home together. It was on Friday evening. On Monday
she was sick and didn't come to school. That week our teacher resigned. Some big boys
had been giving her some trouble and would not mind her. They were awfully bad boys
and she could not take any more off of them. So there was no more school for several
days until they could find another teacher. Well, that was the last time I saw my friend.
She had appendicitis and died during the time there was no school.
The new teacher didn't get to teach very long as it was nearing the last day of
school, but she had a program and I had to say a little speech. Mama made Corine and I
a new dress and Raymond a new shirt to wear for the last day.
Our mother was nearly well now and she did have to go to the doctor anymore. But
she was pretty nervous at times. I remember one time when the weather was bad and we
had to stay inside a lot. Raymond and Corine had been quarrelling and all day and Mama
had scolded them several times but they still wouldn't stop. So she decided to make them
shake hands and kiss one another. This was very humiliating for Raymond and he would
not do it1 but he would think he would and he even tried to kiss her. But instead, he would
say, "I'll bite her. He would get close enough to kiss her and look around at Mama and
say, "I'll bite her1" until Mama had to laugh. So she let them off with a promise to quit their
I remember one other time when Raymond wouldn't mind Mama. Our neighbor had
a big flock of turkeys and they had come to our house. Raymond would mock the old
gobbler and get him to gobble. As Raymond couldn't go outside he watched them through
the window. Mama got nervous and told him to stop several times1 but he just couldn't
resist the temptation of gobbling at them. Mama made him stand before the looking glass
and gobble for an hour and of course that wasn't so funny. Our mother sure had ways of
punishing us when we didn't obey her that sure did take the joy out of life and made you
wish you had obeyed her in the first place.
The Emory Paul family lived just down the road east of us. They were very close
neighbors of ours and Dad and Mama would take us kids to visit them on Sunday
afternoon. They would play the phonograph for us. That was the first one we had seen
and we thought it was wonderful that it could talk and make music too. There was also
Kenneth and Grace Hunter who lived north of us. They were our very best neighbors and
I remember very well Mama taking us kids to visit Grace one afternoon.
They had one little girl. She was about two years old and her name was Lily. We
liked to carry her around with us and play as if she was our little girl. Grace had a piano
and she would let us play it. Anyway we thought we were playing it. She had a lot of nice
magazines and I just loved to look through them. So while Grace and Mama were visiting
in the living room I had found some paper dolls in one of the magazines and I tore them
out. I folded them up and put them up my bloomer leg to hide them until I got home.
When we got home it was time for me to carry in the night's water from the cistern
down at the edge of the wheat field. When I got back with the water I showed Mama my
paper dolls, telling her that I had found them down by the well, which she didn't believe.
She knew right away where I had got them. She made me confess that I had stole them
and I had lied to her, which was one thing we never got by with. Do you know what she
did? Well, I know exactly. She made me march right back up to the Hunters and tell Grace
what I had done. That was sure hard to do. I was so embarrassed and ashamed I couldn't
look her in the face. Of course1 I was crying so hard I could not talk. But she was real nice
to me and gave me the paper dolls, which made me feel a little better. You can be sure I
never pulled off a stunt like that again. That made two times I had stolen and I got caught
A few days later Grace asked Mama if I could go to Versailles with her, to take care
of her little girl Lily for her1 while she did some shopping, and Mama let me go. She got me
a new dress for helping her. Then I knew she wasn't mad at me.
Oh, I must tell you about the first and only time I took a chew of Dad's tobacco. I had
found this twist of home-grown that Dad had laying upon a shelf. So I twisted off a small
piece and beat it out to the garden behind a big gooseberry bush 1 where I was pretty well
hidden, and began chewing my tobacco. But it wasn't long until l wished I had not seen or
heard of tobacco. I was so sick I just laid down on the ground 1 laid there for a long time,
until I got to feeling better, then slipped into the house and went to bed for awhile. Mama
was busy and did not see me come in and was I ever glad that she didn't see me and
know what I had done. Well, you can bet your bottom dollar I didn't chew anymore
Then there was the time I was shocked by the lightning. That nearly scared all of us
to death. There was an electric storm and it was thundering and lightning real bad and the
wind was blowing very hard. We were all standing in the door watching balls of fire roll
along the wire fence and burst from the lightning just across the road in front of our house.
I had my hand on the screen door when the lightning hit me and I screamed and began to
cry. It scared all of us and we got out of the door in a hurry. My arm and hand was numb all
afternoon. Well, you never caught any of us standing in the door with our hands on the
screen watching a storm after that.
I haven't said much about my baby brother Ralph for quite some time now. He was
three years old by now, and a very pretty little boy to my way of thinking. He was a very
quiet child and played by himself a lot as our baby sister wasn't old enough to play with
him and the three of us older ones were in school most of the time. Days when we were at
home or times when we did not have to work around the house, we were playing too far
from the house to take him with us1 for he was too heavy for me to carry him very far. So
he would have to stay at the house with Mama. Sometimes she would let him play outside
when the weather was good, but he never did get out of the yard. But he would be so quiet
that Mama would call him to find out where he was. He would always answer her. She
would ask him where he was at He would always answer, “Ha, here I'm is." for he
couldn't talk very plainly yet.
There was the time Mama took my brother Ralph and my baby sister Pauline to visit Mrs.
Brown, our landlords wife. While she was there she missed Ralph, so they went looking
for him and found him sitting at the top of the big wind mill out in the barn lot. The cattle
were milling around as they had come up to drink water out of the big water tank. Mama
and Mrs. Brown were scared, for if he had fallen off it would have been certain death. The
wind mill was very tall and the wind was blowing the big wheel around, pumping water for
the cattle. My
Mother talked to him and told him to be very careful and not to be afraid, for he was sitting
backwards and couldn't turn around. So Mama climbed up to
where she could reach him and get hold of him. I don't know how she got down with him
but she did.
By this time out little baby sister was four months old. Raymond had nicknamed her Susie
so we all called her Susie until Dad put a stop to it. He didn't like Susie. He said her name
was Pauline and that we should call her that.
One day Grandpa and Grandma Hibdon came to see us. Grandpa had two big fine
dapple gray horses and he had them hitched to a fancy covered topped buggy. Well, we
thought it was fancy I mean. Old Doc and Roxie were the horse's names and we just knew
they were the prettiest horses in the whole world because they were our Grandpa's. They
were getting old. They were older than I was and I was ten years old by then. Our Mother
and Dad had been married around thirteen years and Grandpa had owned them long
before they had been married. Well, to make a long story short, Grandpa told us that he
was selling them as soon as he got a buyer and sure enough he did. Soon after he got
back home he wrote Mama a card telling her all about it and she cried. She didn't want
Grandpa to sell them.
Well, it came time for us to move again. Dad would just stay a year or two in one
place. Then he would pull up stakes and move. This time it was just a mile southeast of
Tom and George Brown's place, owned by their brother Bosh. It was big white two story
house with six rooms, a front and back porch, and a big basement. The kitchen had a
pantry in it. There was a big grassy yard with lots of roses and other beautiful flowers.
There was a big garden with a row of peach trees along the fence next to the house.
There were also several bee hives setting under the peach trees. Just outside the back
yard on the north side was the chicken yard and a big hen house with plum trees all
around it. There was a big wind mill at the edge of the back yard on the west side of the
house to pump our water and a big water tank for the stock to drink from. There was a
large barn lot as we called it, and a big barn at the far end of the lot.
There was a big orchard on back of the barn with apples and some apricot trees too. That
was the first apricots we had ever seen. Then there were oodles and gobs of wild black
berries and goose berries all around the place. That summer we had fruit and berries
galore and our mother didn't let any go to waste. Of
course we had to help her. She dried lots of apples and peaches and canned some too.
She made lots of jelly of all kinds. Dad robbed the bee hives and got lots of honey too. We
got to see our first swarm of bees leave their hives that spring. Dad didn't want them to
leave. We all had a hand in trying to stop them. We threw gravel and sand among them
and beat on tin pans to make a loud noise. They came down all right and settled on a
small peach tree in the back yard. Dad got a clean empty hive and set it up close to them.
He began beating on a tin pan and they went into the hive.
My brother Raymond helped to get them to go in. He found out they wouldn't sting
him and from that time on he wasn't afraid to work with bees. But they sure didn't like me.
I couldn't even get close to one before they would start buzzing around my head and
scare me half to death. I'd start running and they would keep after me until I got into the
We hadn't been living here very long until our baby sister, Pauline, got real bad sick
and Dad had to get Doctor Jack Gunn to, come out to see her. He told Mamma and Dad
she wouldn't live through the night and he stayed all night with us. My brother Raymond
and I heard the doctor say she was dying and we stayed up all night too. Dad tried to get
us to go to bed but we did not want to. We had lost our little Janie Opal, and we weren't
about to go to bed until Mom and Dad did. Then along about four o'clock in the morning
she began to get better1 and Doctor Jack said she was out of danger so he went home.
He came back to see her in a day or two but she was on the mend and was well in no time.
I remember another time that the doctor was at our house and some of us had colds
so Mama asked him to give all of us a dose of quinine for our colds. He was putting some
of the quinine in some little capsules, so it wouldn't taste so bitter. Corine was standing by
him watching him, so she told him she wanted to take her's the bitter way, with a big grin
on his face he got a small amount on the point of his pocket knife and gave it to her. Then
after all the spitting and taking on she did, and drinking water to take the bitter out of her
mouth, she soon found out she didn't want to take quinine the bitter way.
We had lots of fun that summer, along with all the work we had to do. Company was
always coming and now and then it was unexpected company. I very well remember Aunt
Jerusha and her son Dillard. Aunt Mag Hibdon and all six of her kids came to visit us one
weekend. Aunt Mag was mother's sister-in-law. Uncle Bill Hibdon was Aunt Mag's
husband and Mother's brother. He had got burned to death just a few months ago and
Aunt Mag had moved to Eldon with her children. She had four boys and two girls 1 so when
she came to our house we always had lots of fun.
In July wheat harvest began. There was only one threshing machine in the whole
country and all the farmers took turns getting their wheat threshed. The farmers would cut
their wheat and tie it in small bundles then stack them in what they called shocks1 putting
six or seven bundles in a shock. These were left all over the fields to let the wheat dry out
before threshing it. The threshing machine would be set in the field or the barn yard 1
whichever the farmer wanted. It only took three or four men to run the threshing machine
but all the farmers helped each other out. They would bring their wagons and teams to
help haul the wheat to the machine. Someone had to keep the straw stacked as it came
from the machine, and someone had to take care of the wheat and haul it to the granary
as fast as it was threshed out. Then there was a water boy1 maybe two or three, to keep
fresh water for the men to drink, for it was very hot during threshing time.
But of course we kids had a ball. Usually there were more kids than there were men
in the threshing crew, for every family had from three to six children. We were supposed
to stay outside and play and not to hang around and bother our mothers while they were
cooking and feeding the men and older boys that were helping in the field. After they had
all eaten they would go outside in the shade of the porch or under shade trees in the yard
and tell their tall tales and rest for an hour before they went back to the hot wheal field. In
the meantime, our mothers would get the kids in and feed them. Our mothers would take
time off too and eat with us.
Then everyone pitched in and washed the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen. When
everything was cleaned up and put back in place1 our mothers rounded us up and took us
to the fields to watch the thresh the wheat, which was a lot of fun for us kids.
Then the next day we went to the Ed Krileing farm, who was our next door
neighbor. And the next day was the Smith's turn. The lived on down the road about a mile.
At the Smith's we kids were all playing in the wheat bin. It was nearly half full of new wheat
and we were burying each other. It was lots of fun trying to walk in it too. But the fun ended
when my brother Ralph got a grain of wheat in his ear. Well, I was supposed to be taking
care of him. You see he was only three years old. All at once he started screaming and
believe you me, I got to him fast and got him out of the window and onto the ground. By
that time Mama and all the other women were there. My mom and all the other women
worked a long time and tried a lot of different ways to get that little grain of wheat out of his
ear. Finally it came out.
Ralph was scared and it was hurting him too. So Mother held him on her lap and
pretty soon he was asleep. We kids went back to our playing but not to the wheat bin. We
weren't supposed to play there in the first place. (But you know kids1 they'll do it every
time. Maybe you think our mothers didn't get after us hot and heavy. Well they did. We
were all in trouble. But wheat harvest was over in few weeks and things went back to
normal once again.
Dad and Mama had got us a little red wagon. (Well, actually old Santa had brought
it to us at Christmas.) We put a box in the wagon which was deep enough that our baby
sister couldn't fall out. She was old enough to sit alone by herself now. We would put
Pauline in it. Raymond would pull the wagon and I would hold on to the back to make sure
the wagon wouldn't turn over. We would go over to the back side of the cow pasture,
which was out of sight of the house in a group of oak trees, to play. We had a playhouse
there. We all worked hard, carrying rocks from a little creek which was close by. We would
place the rocks all around the house, leaving an open place for the doors. The rocks were
Sometimes we would have to drive the cows off, for they would be in our playhouse.
Then we would have to fix it over and clean it all up again. Sometimes our mother would
pack us a lunch and let us take it to our playhouse and we would spread it on a cloth on
the ground picnic style and eat it. That was a lot of fun. One day very black cloud came up
and covered the sun before we noticed it thundered and the lightning was real ferocious.
We had to gather our things up in a hurry and put our baby sister in the wagon. Our baby
brother couldn't walk fast enough so I got him up astraddle of my hip and vie ran all the
way to the house.
We just barely made it to the house before it started to pour down rain. When we
got to the house we couldn't find our Mama. She had gone to visit the Krileings and we
didn't know where she was. We were really scared. We thought a cyclone was coming
and would blow us all away. So we went down to the cellar. The door was very heavy. It
took Raymond and I both to lift it. When we all got in we let the cellar door down. Then it
was so dark we couldn't see each other. Talk about a scared bunch of kids, that was us.
Our Mama was gone and a cyclone was coming and we were fastened in dark cellar.
Were we ever glad to hear foot steps above us and our mother calling us! We had to bang
on the door and holler real loud to make her hear us. When she opened the door and we
saw it was our mom, well I think that was the happiest moment of our lives.
We were always getting ourselves into hard places and it was so nice to have our
Mom around to help us out of the tight spots. There was another time when we were
playing house in the living room. I was the mother and, as always, our baby sister, who
was five months old, was my baby. We put some pillows in a dining chair and sat her on
them and tied her in so she wouldn't fall out, so we thought. Raymond was pushing her
across the floor. The chair was our baby buggy. She had gone to sleep and fell over to
one side. The diaper we had her tied in with came undone and she fell to the floor on her
I grabbed her up and went running to our mother, who was out on the back porch
doing the laundry. We were all screaming and crying as loud as we could. We
thought we had killed her, for she had not moved or made a sound. Mama met us in the
dining room and took her from me and went to shaking her When Mama held her up and
looked into her face she was laughing. She thought Mama was playing with her. She
wasn't even hurt. It sure was a wonderful thing to know we hadn't killed her. But our
mother still trusted us to take care of her.
One day that summer Dad and Mama went to Versailles, or to town as we would
say. Dad had bought a team of mares now, old Daisy and old Maude. Old Maude had a
little colt. We called him Linn. He sure was a frisky little thing. We all climbed up on the
fence and watched him run around the barn lot and kick up his heels the day Dad brought
him home. We sure did think he was a dandy. Corine claimed him. She always said that
Dad gave him to her.
Well anyway, Dad put him in the barn on this particular day and told us kids to stay
out of the barn and for once we minded him. He didn't want the colt to follow them to town.
Then he hitched the old mares to the wagon and off to town they went, leaving us kids to
hold down the fort. They were gone five or six hours or longer, for they didn't get back until
about four o'clock and we were beginning to get pretty worried. As soon as they left we
put Pauline in the little red wagon and we took off to our hide-out at the back side of the
cow pasture. But we soon got tired and came back to the house stopping at the barn to
play awhile and peeking in at the little colt. We felt sorry for him because he had to be
locked up in the barn. We played around the barn lot for a while and decided to go to the
house and wait for Dad and Mama, for they were due any time It was getting late and we
were getting worried.
Instead of putting Pauline back in the little wagon, I just carried her to the house,
leaving the box at the barn. When we got to the house we just stopped out in the front
yard. It was cool and shady there. We were all playing on the grass, rolling, turning
somersaults and playing leap frog. We soon discovered we couldn't leave our baby sister
sitting on the ground by herself for she was putting everything in her mouth. But we had
left her box at the barn and no one wanted to go and get it. Finally Raymond hired Corine
to go and get it. I was sifting on the ground holding Pauline and waiting for Corine to come
back. She wasn't gone but a few minutes when she came running back screaming "Mad
Raymond and I both grabbed for our brother Ralph, as I already had Pauline in my
arms and we made a dash to the front porch1 only to find the front door was locked on the
inside. We didn't know what to do but we had to do something or the mad dog would get
us for sure So as we turned to see where we could go or to think of what we could do, we
found Corine standing just off the porch laughing as hard as she could. She was afraid to
go to the barn by herself. (She was always a scaredy cat.) So she pulled this joke on us to
keep from going, and it worked. We were pretty badly scared at the time and of course we
scolded her, but we soon began to see how easy it was for her to fool us. Than all of a
sudden it was funny and what a story we had to tell Mom and Dad when they got home.
We had to make our own games and toys, which kept us busy when there wasn't
any work to do. There were weeds that grew on the road side and in a field near our
house. My brother Raymond and I would play like we were farmers, as the weeds
resembled wheat. We would fence off our farms, using small sticks for the fence posts
and twine string for the wire. Then we would pull the weeds up and tie them in little
bundles and shock them in our fields just like the real farmers shocked their wheat.
Sewing thread came on wooden spools in those days, not on plastic spools as they
do today. When our mother sewed all the thread off the spool she gave the spools to us to
play with. We would cut the spools in two and make wheels for our wagons, using match
boxes for the wagon bed. We also would make corn stalk horses and corn cob dolls We
would leave a little piece of the shuck on and split it just as fine as we could for the hair.
Then we would wrap a piece of cloth around it for it's dress. Raymond even made corn
stalk fiddles using sewing thread for strings. Dad showed us how to make whistles out of
There was a time we were playing house with our dolls and I had my big china doll
that my cousin Dillard had given me. She was the same doll that Corine had broken the
time she was sick and Mama had glued her back together. She was as good as new as far
as I was concerned. I didn't play with her very often, for I was afraid she would get broke.
I had her all dressed up in my baby sister’s clothes. They just fit her and I was so proud of
We pretended that I was living on the back porch and Corine was living out on the
north side of the kitchen where we had a playhouse. Raymond was
playing like he was the train running between our houses. We would hold on to him and
he would. chug-chug along until we got to our destination. He wanted to take my doll over
to visit Corine, as I was not ready to go, but I didn't want him to take her. I was afraid he
would drop her and break her but he swore he would hold her and not drop her. So I finally
gave up and handed her over to him. But he didn't quite get ahold of her as I thought he
had and I turned her loose too
soon. She fell to the floor and broke into dozens of pieces. When I saw what had
happened did I ever throw a fit! I screamed and cried. I was down trying to pick up the
pieces when Mama got out there to see what had happened. She thought we had hurt our
baby sister. Well, that ended our fun for that evening.
The time rolled around once again for the annual grave meeting at the HoIst
Cemetery, being the first Saturday in August each year. This was 1914. Our mother was
getting ready to go. It was several miles down there so we were going to go on Friday and
visit Grandpa Hibdon a few days before coming back1 as we had not visited him and
Grandma for a long time. We kids could hardly wait until we got started. We were so
thrilled because we were going to see our Grandma and Grandpa. Dad had got his
brother, Uncle Marshall, to come and stay at our place and look after things while we were
gone. Mother had worked very hard getting everything ready to go on this trip. She had
made new clothes for all of us and prepared food to take along for the dinner. Dad and
Uncle Marshall were at the barn putting the harness on the horses, getting them ready to
hitch to the wagon.
Dad was leaving old Linn at home, for he was a big colt now and he didn't need his
mother anyway. He had put him in a stall so he couldn't follow. As Raymond was all ready
to go, he just mosied off down to the barn to pass the time and watch Dad harness up the
old mares. As he passed behind old Linn he deliberately hit him on the rump and old Linn
just turned loose and kicked Raymond in the face, smashing his face in and breaking his
nose. Uncle Marshall had seen Raymond fall and he was unconscious when he got to
him. He picked him up and brought him to the house, then he went to get Doctor Jack
Gunn. While we waited for the doctor Mother was washing Raymond's face with cool
water and trying to bring him to. He was still out when the doctor got there. Sorry to say,
that ended our trip to Grandpa's and the graveyard meeting.
It was a long time before Raymond was well again. He carried scar and a crooked
nose for the rest of his life. It really did not ruin his looks to the extent that he wasn't a good
looking kid. really thought he was a very nice looking young man.
Not long after that Dad began to get itchy feet again. In fact he had been talking
about it for several weeks and already checked out a place about five or six miles south of
Versailles, on Little Gravois Creek. Mama always seemed willing to go along with him
wherever he wanted to move. So we moved down in the hills, into a two story, three room
log house. I mean it had one room upstairs and one room downstairs, which was the living
room, and a side room for the kitchen. Dad added another room on the east side of it and
we called it the summer kitchen, for we only used it in the summer for a kitchen. We used
it for a storage room and a wood shed in the winter. There was a log barn east of the
house and a log hen house with half of it partitioned off to be used as a storage room
We got our water from a spring that flowed right from under the hill on the north. It
made quite a stream of water which flowed around the west end of our garden 1 joining
another good sized stream that flowed right in front of our house, on across the county
road and across our field into Little Gravois Creek. There was a high hill southeast of the
house with cliffs of rock hanging out over the branch. They were high enough that we
could walk under them but we had to climb a very steep part of the hill to get to the top. It
was flat on top and we had a play house up there.
We had a little path that wound around the side of the hill to get up there. Our mother
had told us not to ever take Pauline up there. She was two years old now. I almost always
took her with me everywhere I went. She wouldn't let me get away without her, although
sometimes I would slip off from her if Mama was at the house or she was asleep.
We had lots of fun roaming the hills mushroom hunting that spring. There were lots
of sarvice berries too. They grew on small trees and they were very good to eat. They
were scattered around all over the hills. They had little white blooms that looked a lot like
wild plum blooms and they were the first to bloom early in the spring. There were lots of
mushrooms too. Our neighbors, the Marriotts, called them dry land fish.
There were lots of maple sugar trees on our place and Dad tapped all of them.
Raymond and I carried the maple juice or sugar water, whichever one you wanted to call
it, to the house and our mother boiled it down and made maple syrup, and m-m-m-m-m,
that was good. It was delicious on pancakes.
There were lots of wild greens all around our fields and along the creek, which
Mama would gather. There was shonie, sour dock, snakes tongue, wooly britches, squire
weed, wild beet, wild cabbage cow parsley, lambs quarter, hen pepper, polk1 wild lettuce,
ground hog ear and many, many more I'll not mention. We had lots of fun roaming up and
down the creek helping our Mama gather them but there was not a one of us kids that
liked greens. There were lots of wild onions too. There were lots of wild grapes and
blackberries galore. were some of what my mother called sand bar grapes that grew right
on the sand bar along the creek. They got ripe in July. We would gather them and our
mother would make delicious pies and jelly too. We played up and down the little branch
that ran in front of the house.
There were oodles of minnows, craw dads as we called them (or cray fish), and
some sun perch and hog suckers, also mud turtles (or logger heads as some folks called
them.) We would fish for them with a pole made of a long straight willow and twine string
for the line with a straight pin bent in the shape of a fish hook. For bait we used fishing
worms (earthworms)1 and grass hoppers. Then we would wade up and down the branch1
turning over the rocks to find the craw dads. We would build up a fire along the bank 1
clean our craw dad tails1 put them on a long stick and roast them over the fire and eat
them. Well1 the rest of the kids said they liked them. As for me, I have eaten things I liked
We would play like we were Indians. Raymond was the chief and I was the old
squaw. We even built a wigwam to live in. We took several long poles, stood them up on
one end and tied the tops together. Then we laced buck brush in and around the poles
and they looked like real wigwams.
There was a time that our mother took Raymond and hitched up old Daisy and old
Maud to the wagon and went to haul some wood that Dad was cutting out in the woods.
Our mom worked right along with Dad, out in the fields or anywhere there was work to do.
You could always count on Mom to be right there to help Dad. Anyway, after she was
gone Corine and I decided to go on top of the cliff to play in our playhouse up there. So I
got Pauline astraddle of my hip, for that was the way I had to carry her. She was getting to
be quite a load for me to carry but she wouldn't walk1 or she wouldn't let anyone else carry
her. I had her spoiled rotten but that was all right. Baby sisters were supposed to be
spoiled, weren't they?
Well, we got to the top and I was going to watch her real close when I put her down.
But I turned my back to do something and when I turned around to see where she was, to
my horror there she was, leaning against a small bush looking over the edge of the cliff. I
was so scared I grabbed for her and just as I got her in my arms my foot slipped. We both
fell off over the cliff, hitting the ground below and rolling into the branch. I had never turned
loose of her and when we got up out of the water she had blood all over her and she was
I felt so bad, I thought I had killed her. I washed her face in the branch and tried to
stop the blood. She was still crying and I was too. We got her to the house
and she wasn't bleeding so badly by then but we couldn't get her to stop crying. We had
got her all cleaned up and put a clean dress on her but stilt she kept
crying. We had tried everything we could think of but still she kept crying. As we'd tried
everything else, finally we decided to let her play with our big dolls that old
Santa had brought us the first Christmas we had been in our new home.
They were our first sleepy dolls with real hair. Mine was black headed and her
name, Ethel, was written on her. Corine's had light brown hair and her name was Bertha.
We were so proud of them, we wouldn't let Pauline even touch them. We only played with
them when she was asleep or when we could slip off upstairs where she couldn't see us.
But today we were so scared that she might die before our mother got home that we
would have done anything to get her to stop crying. But you can be sure we were very
careful how she handled them. Anyway that stopped her crying.
It wasn't long until we heard Mama and Raymond coming. I grabbed Pauline up
astraddle of my hip and ran to meet them. I was so sure Mama would whip me for not
minding her that 1 started telling her that she should whip me. I was trying to tell her what
I had done as I followed along beside the wagon, as they didn't stop until they got to the
wood yard. I was willing to take my punishment, for I knew I had done wrong. But she just
got off the wagon and took Pauline in her arms. Then we found that Pauline only had a
small cut on her lip. Then I found out that I was hurt too. All the hide was skinned off my
right leg, from my knee to my foot, with the flesh cut deep enough in one place to make a
sore which took several days to heal up. Well1 I didn't get a whipping. I think Mama was so
glad that neither of us were hurt very bad that she even forgot to scold me. You can bet
your bottom dollar 1 had learned my lesson and never did take Pauline on top of the cliff
I was always getting myself into trouble of some kind, like the time we all went with
Dad and the boys to rob a bumble bees' nest. Dad was going to show us how to get the
honey out. The trick was to take a gallon jug and put some water in it and set the jug close
to the nest. The bees would go in the jug and no one would get stung. Dad waited a while
to see what the bees would do Sure enough a few of the bees went into the jug. As you
know bumble bees have their nests in the ground, so Dad started digging and he found
the nest alright. The bumble bees were plenty mad but no one had got stung yet. Dad let
all of us take a peek into the nest before he took the honey out. It was not in honey comb
like regular honey bees made. It was in little cups. There were rows and rows of them with
seals over them so nothing could get into them. There was about a half teaspoon of honey
in each tiny cup. We all got a good taste of it and it was good. Of course I had Pauline
astraddle of my hip and as I stuck my head over for a second peek and to see how Dad
was taking the honey out, one of the mad bees hit me right in the top of the head. Instead
of knocking him off1 I just slapped my hand down on him and he stung me. I started
running, holding him down until he died1 but still I held on to Pauline until I was out of
range of the bees. Well, that was all she wrote. I didn't want to help rob any more bumble
One morning early in the spring our mother sent Raymond and I to bring in the
sugar water from the maple trees Dad had tapped. We took our buckets and started off
and of course we had to play along. Our old dog Joe went on ahead of us. We heard him
barking off up this little hollow. (Some would call it a valley., but we Ozark hill folks call it a
hollow.) Anyway, we went to see what old Joe had treed. There were some rocks on the
side of the hill looking like a small bluff with a little cave going back into the hill. Old Joe
was growling very viciously and fighting something. We thought it was an opossum. We
each got a stick and decided to help him kill it. We thought he was dead so Raymond got
him by the tail and we started to the house with our opossum, taking a short cut across the
hill and missing the maple trees, leaving our buckets behind. By the time we got to the
house our opossum had come to and Mama told us it was really a ground hog. Them
Mama and Raymond skinned the fur off of him and Mama cooked him, which was pretty
good eating. So after the excitement was all over we had to hunt up our buckets and get
the maple juice we were supposed to get in the first place.
There was the time that Dad sent Raymond and I down by the creek to replant a
little patch of corn the crows had eaten up. We went along this little path to the field, which
was real brushy and the weeds were so high you couldn't see the path until you parted
them back to get through them. Our old dog Joe was going along just in front of us and
came upon a big old copperhead snake, right in the path. But old Joe killed him and we
didn't get bit but old Joe did. His head swelled up real big and we sure thought he was
going to die but he did~. Well, anyway, we went ahead and got the corn replanted by
Speaking of snakes, there was a time that Raymond and Sherman Marriott caught a
little green snake and tried to put it around us girls' necks, which made shivers run up and
down our spines and nearly ran us to death trying to get away from them.
The Marriott family was a very close family to us. They only lived a short distance
down the road, west of us. There were three boys and three girls. Sherman was the oldest
and he was older than I. Nettie was the oldest girl. She was my age and we became very
close friends. Her baby brother was a year older than Pauline. She almost always took
him with her everywhere she went, just as I did Pauline, my baby sister. We were together
two or three times a week when we were not working to help our parents.
All kids had to work in those days and by this time we were assigned our own jobs.
Mine was to care for my baby sister and help with the cooking. Corine was to help me with
the dishes. She was to make the beds and I was to clean up the living room. We both had
to carry in enough water from the spring to last over night. Our mother raised big flocks of
turkeys, chickens, ducks and geese. That was our living. 1 helped with the chickens and
turkeys. Corine helped with the ducks and geese and we took turns helping Mama gather
in the eggs. The old turkey hen would hide her nest out in the bushes and weeds and lay
her eggs. covering them up with leaves so no one could find them. So we would have to
watch her to see where she had her nest hid and sometimes that was a very long difficult
job. for that old turkey hen was a wise old bird. If she thought you were spying on her she
would go the opposite direction to throw you off. Sometimes it would be days before we
would find it and if she thought you took any eggs out she would leave her nest for good
and find another one. The old mother goose was just as bad. She didn't like anyone to
bother her nest either.
Sometimes Mama would have twenty-five and up to forty or fifty dozen eggs a week
to sell. She would put them in egg crates that would hold twelve dozen in one crate. There
were fillers, as she called them, that she would put in the bottom of the crate with little
cells that just fit the egg. When she got that one full she placed a piece of cardboard on
top of it, then another filler and so on until the crate was full. That was Mama's job. She
didn't want anyone to help her with this.
When the fryers got big enough to eat they would put them in coops and take them
to the market too. As soon as the ducks, geese and turkeys became old enough, off to the
market they would go. Dad, Mama, and the boys would do the milking, as we always had
three or more cows to milk, though sometimes one of us girls got drug in on the milking.
Most usually it was Corine. But churning was my job most of the time. Sometimes I could
persuade Corine to take over the churning if she was in the right mood.
Dad would chop the wood for the heating stove, splitting some fine enough to burn
in the old wood burning cook stove. The boys' job was to bring the wood in and put it in the
wood box. They would always bring in enough to last overnight. And then there were the
pigs to feed, which was left up to the boys. So you see we were kept pretty busy, but still
we had plenty of time to play and visit our neighbors from time to time.
Looking back over our childhood days, we had a very happy life, at least that is the
way I see it. On rainy days the Marriott children and the Lee children would most always
get together, that is if our parents gave their consent. We would never go anywhere
without asking our parents and we always had a set time to get back home. If we didn't get
back on time we would not get to go back for a while. The Marriott kids were in the same
boat. Their parents were just as strict with them as ours were with us.
The Marriott girls had a playhouse in an old corn crib quite a distance from their
house and that is where you would find us most of the time during the summer months,
playing paper dolls. We would cut whole families of paper dolls out of the last years Sears
and Roebuck and Montgomery Ward catalogs. We even cut out the furniture and any
thing we could find to make a house out
of. If one of the dolls got tore or its head or limb tore, that one was sick and finally died.
Then we would have a funeral for them and take them to the grave yard and bury them.
Our grave yards were behind our garden fence. If one of our dolls died the Marriott kids
dolls would come to our funeral and if theirs died, we would go to theirs. We would put the
dolls between two pieces of broken window glasses, that was their coffin.
On rainy days at our house we played upstairs but if the weather was good we
played outside. We played all kinds of games. One of our favorites was fox and hound.
Someone would be the fox, some the hounds and some were the men. The hound would
chase the fox all over the hills and sometimes we would go quite a distance from the
house. The fox was supposed to keep hidden out as much as he could but sometimes he
would get caught. He was supposed to be a very sly old fox. He could play any kind of
trick he wanted to, just so he wouldn't get caught.
We played in the creek a lot on hot summer days and skated on it in the winter when
it was frozen over with ice. We all had fun fishing too. Sometimes our mothers would go
along with us.
The Need family lived on the south of us just about a half a mile. They had two boys
and four girls. I remember my brothers, Raymond and Ralph, were playing up and down
the creek on one particular day. They had gone a long way down below the Need farm
and were fishing along as they were headed back home. They ran into Hilia and her
brother Jim. I don't know what happened but they got into a fight. I don't know who won,
but Raymond threw Hilia's little kitten in the creek, which made her awfully mad and she
cried. fly brothers ran off and left them to rescue her little kitten by herself.
Hilia was about Raymond's age and Jim was Ralph's age. They had two older girls
but the third girl. whose name was Maud, was my age. We were very close friends and
had some good times together. But Nellie and I were always doing more things together.
We had a little secret game just between the two of us. She was Tom and I was Topsy.
You see we were cats.) We had a whole litter of kittens and they all had names. We would
write letters to each other. Of course the kittens stayed with me. She was supposed to be
Every time anyone from Nellie's house would come to our house, she would send
me a letter and when someone from our house went to her house, I would send her a
letter. 1 would tell her how fast the kittens were growing and how pretty they were. Then
I'd tell her how glad I would be when she could come home. She would write back and tell
me how glad she would be when she got home and how much money she was making.
She was going to send me some. We wrote our letters on empty garden packages or any
other kind of paper we could find. We couldn't just waste good tablet paper on
foolishness. My mother bought baking powder that had the picture of a whole family of
cats on the wrapper. I would take the wrapper off and write my letter on the back of it and
the picture was our family. (I don't remember what brand the baking powder was.) But
anyway, no one knew about our little game until one day when her mother was bringing
me a letter and she decided to see what was in the letter. Did she ever laugh! She had to
tell my mother all about it. Then it wasn't long until both families knew. It wasn't near so
much fun after that, for we had to take a lot of teasing from the other kids.
It was about this time that my cousin Dillard McGorder took sick and died. He was
only eighteen years old and the only child. My mother went out to help Aunt Jerusha and
she was gone for two weeks. So Dad and us kids had to "batch" for a while. That was the
first time our mother had ever left us that long with Dad and we sure did get homesick to
see her before she got back. When she did come, Aunt Jerusha and Uncle Mart came
home with her and stayed a whole month.
One day while she was gone, Corine and 1 were playing paper dolls out in the
wagon bed. Dad was working close by, shoeing the horses. The boys weren't included in
our paper doll game, which they didn't like anyway. But as I have said before, my brother
Raymond was very mischievous and was always playing tricks on us girls. We had our
paper dolls all placed in order when he came along with his straw hat in his hand. He gave
a big strong wave with it and said, "Here comes a cyclone." It blew our paper dolls all over
Well, we didn't say much that time. But by the time we had them all put back in place
again, here came the cyclone again, scattering paper dolls in all directions. of course, we
told Dad and he told him not to do it again, though he did anyway and we hollered to Dad.
By this time Dad was getting very upset at our quarreling and hollering. So Dad picked up
a little board and hit Raymond across the back with it, which made a black and blue mark
on him. Raymond cried and we felt so sorry for him that we almost cried too. We thought
we were the cause of all the trouble. Well, that ended our paper doll playing that day.
There was a time we all got very scared about Raymond. His nose started bleeding
just about chore time and wouldn't stop. He sat down at the edge of a pool of water which
was out in front of our house and washed his face in the cool water. The pool was four or
five feet wide and five or six feet long. He just sat there and let it bleed into the water for
nearly an hour. The pool looked like a pool of blood. Dad and Ralph and Corine went to do
the chores and I carried in the nights water and got supper. By the time supper was ready
it was getting dark and his nose was still bleeding and Dad was getting worried. He didn't
know what to do. We bad tried everything we heard of but nothing would stop it. Raymond
was getting pretty weak and feeling sick. We bathed his head and neck with cool water
out of the spring. We did not have ice or ice boxes in those days. especially us country
folks. Refrigerators were unheard of in 1914.
It was eight or nine o'clock at night and Dad said he had heard some one say that in
a case of this kind if he would hold a dime in the roof of his mouth, it would stop the
bleeding. So Dad gave him a dime and he tried it. Sure enough in a little while it stopped.
We never did know for sure if that was what made it stop or if it just stopped of ifs own
accord. All we were concerned about then was that Raymond was getting awfully sleepy
and Dad didn't know whether to let him go to sleep or not. He had lost so much blood that
Dad was afraid if he went to sleep he would not wake up. But he had to go to sleep.
Our mother came home a few days after this and were we ever glad to see them.
Most of all I sure was glad to see my baby sister. That was the first time she had ever
been away from us that long. We didn't have telephones out in the country, at least not in
our part, in those days. So Mama had written Dad a card telling him what day to meet her,
Uncle Mart, and Aunt Jerusha in Versailles. The mail route ran right in front of our house.
They came to Versailles on the train.
I have just got to tell you this little story about my two brothers. Looking back over
our lives, we sure did some pretty dumb things, some very humorous, and some not so
humorous. of course, we were just like all other kids of that day, and kids all down through
the ages of time for that matter. For kids will be kids.
There was a very warm day and the boys had been gone all after-noon playing at
the barn. Raymond got thirsty and decided to come to the house for a drink of
water. Mama just happened to notice him as he came in so she asked him what he had
been doing as he started to leave. He said, "Nothing, just playing." As
he jumped off the porch he spit, as he had a big chew of tobacco in his mouth and couldn't
talk very plain. So Mama asked him what he was chewing and he
said sassafras. She didn't believe him and she went to see for herself, though she knew
all the time that it was tobacco. He thought he would get away and she would not notice
him. By now he was going out at the gate but she called him back and gave him a
whipping, not for chewing the tobacco though they had been told not to chew it, but for
lying to her.
As I have said before, you just did not lie to our Mom and get by with it. Somehow
she always knew when we were lying. Well anyway, getting the whipping made Raymond
real angry and he wouldn't go back to the barn. instead he climbed to the top of a big
maple tree that was at the gate. He said he was going to jump and kill himself. Mama
knew he wouldn't do it so she told him to go ahead. He sat up there for a long time, feeling
sorry for himself. He was still mad when he came down and didn't go back to the barn.
Ralph got tired of waiting for him to come back and came to the house to see why he
didn't come back. So Mama asked him what they had been doing and he said chewing
tobacco. He didn't get a whipping because he told the truth. She had only punished
Raymond for lying. She always told us never to lie, that if we told the truth no matter how
bad it was, we would never get into trouble. And believe me, she could always tell if we
were lying to her.
While we children had lots of time to play and have our childish fun there was always
plenty of work to do also. Our Dad and Mom told us that hard work was the making of us.
That summer Dad and Mama had put out a big corn crop and Dad never failed to plant a
big field of cane for making sorghum molasses. I mentioned both Mother and Dad, for she
almost always helped him to do everything there was to do. of course we had to do
everything the hard way, for in those day we did not have modern machinery to farm with
such as farmers do now in 1984. Dad plowed. or broke the ground as some would say,
with a breaking plow which was pulled by two horses. Then he would harrow it, breaking
up the big clods of dirt and making the ground smooth. The next thing to do was to make
the rows across the field with one horse hitched to a single shovel plow.
Now here is where we kids got into the game. It was our job to shell the seed corn off
the cob, for Dad always saved his own seed from year to year. He would pick off the best
ears for seed. Then one of us would take a small bucket of the seed corn and plant two or
three grains in each hill about three to four feet apart. Then one of us would go along
behind, pulling the fresh dirt over the grains of corn, using a garden hoe.
When the corn came up and got three or four inches high Dad would start cultivating
it. If the weeds got too much of a start before it got big enough to plow, Mama would take
us kids and our garden hoes and we would clean the weeds out. Then Dad would plow it
with the cultivator and sometimes one of us would follow him to uncover the little stalks if
he happened to cover one up. He would plow it about three times before it got big.
When the corn got about waist high Mama would plant beans in each hill of corn and
they would vine up the corn and most of the time we would have oodles and gobs of
beans to pick and hull in the fall for our winter use. She would always plant lots of
pumpkins and squash in the corn too. We would plow, hoe, and weed the little cane too
but it was more delicate than the corn and was planted closer together. It was much
harder to get the weeds out.
Dad was short on feed for his horses that summer. He always liked to feed his
horses when he was working them. So one of us would stay in the field during noon hour
to let the horses graze on the wild grass and horse weeds, which was plentiful around the
edge of the field. We had to watch them very closely to keep them from getting in the corn
and eating it off. We would get tired of sitting or following them, so we would get on one of
them and just sit there while they were grazing. Usually it was old Maud, for she was the
best one and the easiest to ride. Dad almost always took an hour off for noon and
sometimes longer if he wanted the horses to eat more or if it wasn't a rush job.
He always liked to take a little nap after he ate his dinner. Well, they call it lunch
now, but of course us country folks just called our noon-day meal dinner.) I
never got to graze very often for my job was to quit the field and take Pauline and go to the
house about eleven o'clock and get dinner. We always had a big garden and potato
patch. Sometimes, Mama would send me to the house early so I would have time to
grabbel potatoes for dinner, or pick green beans or peas, which
ever she wanted me to. Sometimes she would just leave me and Pauline to the house to
what ever there was to do and have dinner ready when they came in. Then we would go
back to the field with them in the afternoon.
I was going to explain about grabbeling potatoes. We took a kitchen fork and
scratched the dirt away from around the potato plant, not disturbing the vine or the small
potatoes, just taking out two or three of the biggest ones and covering the little ones and
the roots back up.
It was the middle of August and molasses making time in the Ozarks, which was a
tradition among the country folks of our day and time. All the neighbors helped each
other. Usually there was only one or two cane mills for miles around, so folks would haul
their cane to the nearest mill and swap work with each other or wait until one of the mills
was through, then take it to their own field. But that year my Dad managed to have a mill
of his own, so he and Mom made their own sorghum that year, of course with all of us
We had to strip the long blades off and place them real straight in between the stalks
in little bundles. When we got the blades all stripped off we would go over it again. We
would have to bend the tall stalks over and cut the head off, letting them fall between
every other row. That would be leaving every other row empty, so when we had to pick
them up we wouldn't run over the heads with the wagon, shelling the little seeds off. The
cane seeds were used for chicken feed in the winter. We used a corn knife to cut the cane
heads off and then when that was done, we had to cut the stalks down and haul it to the
mill. Sometimes it took us a week to get it ready for the mill, which was at the end of the
When we got the cane all out of the field Dad put us kids to gathering in the cane
heads first, then the blades, and stored them in the barn for winter feed for the stock. Old
Maud and Old Daisy were very gentle and trustworthy. Raymond and I could harness
them, hook them to the wagon ,and handle them as good as Dad could--well, almost as
good. One day we decided to pile the blades on the wagon as high as we could, so we put
Ralph on top of them to pack them down just as tight as he could. He was only six years
old and wasn't very heavy, but he was trying. We kept piling them higher and he was
jumping up and down, trying to pack them down and bounced himself off. He wasn't hurt
climbed right back up and went to bouncing again. He was having fun and we all had a
good laugh and teased him about it.
Sometimes Mama would send Raymond and I to Gravois Mills to get the groceries
for the week. It was three or four miles and we would ride the old mares. Sometimes she
would send fifty pounds of shell corn and we would stop at Veluenman's Grist Mill and
leave our corn. Then we would go on around the bend to Williams' store and get our
groceries. We would put them in a fifty pound flour sack, thro~ them over old Maud's back
and head for home, stopping at the mill to pick up our corn meal, which was ground and
rea4y for us when we came back by. Raymond usually rode old Daisy and carried the
meal. Then sometimes we would walk, when Dad was working the horses and we didn't
have to get very much.
When the days work was done Dad would turn the horses out to graze all night. It
was open range and everybody's stock was at liberty to go where they pleased.
Sometimes our horses, and the cows too, would range quite a long ways from home. It
was the boys job to round up the horses and cows in the morning. The cows had to be
milked and the horses had to be brushed and curried before they put the harness on them
for work. They wore bells and it wasn't too hard to find them by the jingle of the bells.
There was an old open field just out of sight of the house where the horses would
graze quite often. Sometimes the Marriott kids would meet us up there and we would play
house. We had our houses under some big oak trees. We would pretend that Nellie was
my husband and Nellie was Corine's husband. Pauline was always my baby because she
wouldn't let any one else hardly touch her but me. The Marriott's little brother was Nellie
and Corine's baby. They most always lived at the far end of the field and Nellie and I lived
at the side next to our house. When the old mares were up there grazing around, we
would catch one a piece and ride them to see each~ other. We didn't use a bridle, we
would just pat first one side of their neck and then the other with a little stick to keep them
going straight. It would not have been so much fun if Dad had caught us.
The boys, (I should say my brothers), wouldn't play house wit~ us anymore. They
were getting too big to play girls games anyway. Sometimes we would play ball or
Hide-and-Go-Seek when the Marriott kids came over or if Aunt Sade and her bunch
came. Aunt Sade, who was my mother's aunt, and her son Tommy, who was two years
older than me, were living with her son-in-law, Joe McMillian, and helping him take care of
his children. His wife Ross, Aunt Sade's daughter, had died, leaving a nine day old baby
girl. Her name was Velma. She was a little older than our baby sister. Ross had also left
two small boys. Stanley was the same age as my brother Ralph, and little Lesley was only
two years old. He was a pretty child, so I thought. But he passed away when he was three
When Aunt Sade and Joe came to our house they always stayed two or three
nights. We youngsters would play out in the yard until midnight while the old folks were
visiting. Sometimes it was midnight before they would call us in. Usually it was a
moonlight night, for otherwise we couldn't see.
Hide-and-Go-Seek was our main game at night. If we played inside it had to be in
the kitchen after we got the supper dishes put away. Our inside games were Hen Tin, or
Take Home What You Borrowed, or Hide the Thimble. But whatever we played, we
always had fun. Pauline and Velma were about three years old and played together real
well and became very close friends. They still are, sixty-seven years later.
Well to get back to my story1 the "little brats", that is Corine and I, did a very foolish
thing by showing the younger kids our bi~ dolls one day. We have regretted it to this day,
for they were the last dolls we ever got. Pauline and Velma cried and threw a little
"kinippition" fit because we wouldn't let them have our dolls. Mama got to feeling sorry for
them and said to us, "Why don't you le~ them play with your dolls just a little while?" She
promised to watch them, and wouldn't let them break our dolls. She told us to go on out
and play, so we did, thinking everything would be all right.
But Mama and Aunt Sade got busy and forgot all about watching them. When we
came back to see what they were doing we could not find them. of all places, where do
you think we found them? They were at the branch just outside the front yard. We heard
giggling and laughing before we got to them. We found our dolls in a mess. They were
letting them swim in the water. Their eyes had fallen out and their hair had all came off
and their pretty dresses were ruined. of course I cried. I always did when one of my dolls
There were lots of shade trees in our yard and Dad made us a hammock out of
barrel staves and wire. We wove the wire around the end of the staves. The barrel staves
were curved in the middle, which made it perfect for a hammock. I would lay in the
hammock on long summer days and read when there wasn't any work to do. There were
always a few leisure days in the middle of summer after the crops were laid by. We
were taking the Kansas City Star, a weekly newspaper, and The Capper's Weekly. We
also got the Missouri Ruralist which came once a month, and I read them all. There were
continued stories in all of them and I read every one of them. loved to read and I could
hardly wait for them to come. There was a big apple tree right by the garden gate. It was a
perfect place to climb up in and read and hide from everyone.
This was our second year in the Coffee School. I was in the sixth grade. We had to
walk three miles. The Marriott kids would meet us about a mile up the road and we would
walk and play together all the way to school. One time we were playing Fox and Hound
and took the wrong road and got lost. We were a long way from the main road when we
discovered we were lost. It took a long time to get back on the right track and we were late
getting to school that morning. Miss Russie Stringer was our teacher that year and she
scolded us. She was very strict with us. We couldn't even whisper to our seat-mates. If
she caught us whispering she made us stay in a half hour after school.
That was my brother Ralph's first year in school. Our mother always dressed us
warm for the cold winter days and we didn't miss very many, except when school first
started in late August or early September we would have to stay home and help harvest
the crops. My brother Raymond had to stay home more than I did. I guess this was
because I had to go along to see after Corine and Ralph, though as they grew older they
had to help with the work too.
1 had to study very hard to make my grades. Mama would let me stay up at night
and study until ten or ten-thirty. I never did miss a grade.
Ora Taylor was our teacher the next year. He was a good teacher and we all liked
him. He would get out and play with us. Our school house was at the base of a steep hill
and at the edge of the woods. Our teacher would help us bend bushes over and we would
pretend we were riding them like horses. We girls had just as much fun as the boys did.
The basketball board had fallen down and he helped us put it on a big log at the edge of
the playground for a teeter totter. All the kids that could hang on would get on and we
would make it go real fast to see who could stay on the longest.
We also played jump rope, which was lots of fun. There would be three or four
jumping at the same time and if you missed you had to get out of the game. Then we
would turn the rope just as fast as we could and see how long you could stay in. We called
that giving them hot pepper. Hide-and-Go-Seek was another one of our special games.
That winter we had a big snow and the boys would bring their home-made sleds and
ride down the hill. The teacher and the big boys would carry the basketball board up to the
edge of the woods and all the kids that could get on would get on it. Then someone would
give it a shove and down the hill we would fly, losing some of the kids as we went. Two or
three of the boys would try to guide it with some sticks to make it go straight, but most of
the time it got away from them, turning and twisting every which way. That’s when you
would fall off if you didn't have a good hold.
It wouldn't stop until it hit the road and then it would hit so hard, piling us on top of
each other. One or two times it bounced right on over the road, landing us into the little
stream of water that ran in front of the school house. The water was about knee deep and
was froze over. Most of the time it would stop just at the edge of the water, but this one
time it did not stop. It went kaplump1 ending up in the icy water. Some of the kids hung
onto the board and got their feet wet but one of my girl friends and I fell off, getting wet all
Our teacher gave us special attention. He put a bench up close to the stove and kept
a hot fire all afternoon so we could dry off. We pulled off our shoes and stockings so they
could dry faster. We didn't have to study or go to our classes and we were all dried off by
the time we had to go home.
We had to carry our drinking water from a spring about a quarter of a mile from the
school house. The teacher would send a couple of the big boys to get the water, though
sometimes there would be a couple of the girls who volunteered to go. We all drank from
a dipper that stayed in the bucket. There were thirty-five to forty of us, ranging from the
first to the eighth grade.
The next year Miss Bertha Taylor was our teacher. She was Ora's sister and she
was a good teacher too. Everyone liked her but she was more strict with us. One time she
picked three of her best spellers to go home with her to stay over the weekend. She lived
at Barnett. She was going to take us to the Excelsior School to a spelling match. There
was to be other schools there too. She was hoping we would win for our school. Cora
Fergerson, Gladys Silvey and I were the ones she had picked and we were so thrilled we
could hardly wait for the time to come. But to my sorrow, I did not get to go. My Uncle
Henry Lee saw to that. I cried nearly all day. Mama had got me a new dress and curled my
hair so it would hang in long curls. I was so happy for it wasn't very often that I got a
chance to go on a trip like that.
I well remember that Friday morning. It was raining. It wasn't very often that Dad
took us to school, but this was a very special day for me so he was going to take us. He
had rounded up the old mares off the range, had them saddled and tied to the gate post
and came in to get us. We were all bundled up so we wouldn't get wet. But when we got
out there, no horses were in sight and the saddles and bridles were on the pegs in the
shed where Dad kept them. My Uncle Henry, who was staying with us that winter, had
turned them loose and even ran them off. It was too late and rainy for us to get to school
on time, so we didn't even try to go. Cora and Gladys got to go, but I don't remember how
the spelling match turned out or who won.
Uncle Henry didn't want us to ride the horses. He told Dad they had been working
too hard in the field and that they needed rest. Dad wouldn't argue with him and he almost
always had his own way about things. Though he was always good to us kids and we
liked him, Uncle Henry did have funny ways. We would laugh at him, "at his back." We
wouldn't dare let him know we were laughing at him for anything. It would not have been
healthy for us if our Dad had caught us making fun of him.
Our baby sister had been sick a lot that year and the doctor had come to see her
several times. I recall one time when Mama had gone with Dad to break off corn in the
shock and haul it to the barn. She had taken Raymond and Corine with her and left Ralph
and I at the house to take care of Pauline. If she got very bad Ralph was to go and get
Mama. She had a very high fever and I went to give her a drink and she went into
convulsions1 which nearly scared me to death. That was the first time 1 had ever seen her
like that, so Ralph ran all the way to the field to get Mama. When she got to the house I
was washing Pauline's face with cold water. Then Mama took over, and was I ever glad!
Then Christmas rolled around once again. Miss Bertha had a Christmas tree put up
for us and we had a Christmas program, too. I had a piece to say and 1 sure did flub
things up. When I got to say my piece I forgot what to say and
started in the middle of my poem instead of at the beginning. Miss Bertha
helped me out and finally got through it, but I was so embarrassed 1 cried about
I already knew what my mother got for Corine and me, to put on the tree. She had
them wrapped up in paper and hid them behind our eight day clock she had setting on a
shelf. At least she though she had them hidden. But the trouble was, she had forget there
was a hole in the upstairs floor right over the clock and big enough for me to put my hand
through. Sometimes we kids would peek through it to see what was going on down stairs,
especially if some one came I and we wanted to see who they were. Well, I lust happened
to peek down and spied this thing all wrapped in paper. of course I was very curious so I
just reached down and got it. To my surprise there were two rings and I knew right away
who they were for. So hurried to get them wrapped up and put back where I found them. A
I said before, I never could get away with little sneaky things and sure enough, lust as I put
my hand through the hole my mother caught me and hollered at me. I was scared and
embarrassed too. But I had to come down and face her anyway. But she didn't scold me.
She told me she had got them to put on the Christmas tree for Corine and I.
Well, the next thing we knew the last day of school was almost here and Miss
Bertha was planning another program for us. Our parents were going to be there with well
filled baskets with good things to eat. This was our last year at the Coffee School and our
last time to see Miss Bertha. That was April, 1916.
Easter Sunday came along next, and Aunt Sade and Joe "Mc" came to eat Easter
dinner with us. (Everyone called Joe McMillian "Mc for short). Also Joe's children,
Tommy, who was Aunt Sade's son and Marshall, Joe's half brother, came for dinner too.
Marshall was about my age and I got stuck on him. Oh, I thought he was the most
handsome boy I had ever seen. I thought Tommy was good looking too but he was my
cousin. You see, I was only thirteen and Dad had mad it very plain that 1 was too young to
be even thinking about boys Anyway, Marshall was my secret beau for a long time and
about that time Aunt Sade and Joe moved to Joe's old home place on Camp Branch in
Camden County I didn't see Marshall for two years.
Marshall's mother had died leaving five children and their father had just gone off
and left them to shift for themselves. She had left a tiny baby who died at six weeks old.
The neighbors were helping them now and then, and one neighbor and his wife had taken
little boy, age two, to care for him. The oldest boy, Wilford 1 was only fourteen or fifteen
when he drowned in the Osage River while he and Marshall and two neighbor boys were
swimming there. He was never found. Then there was a girl, two years younger
than-Marshall. Her name was Eula and my Aunt Jerusha took her and raised her, as
Uncle Mart had passed away, leaving Aunt Jerusha alone. Marshall was to make his
home with Joe, his half-brother, for several years, for Joe had bought his old home place
from his Dad.
Well, to get back to the Lee family, someone had given my baby sister a gray and
white kitten which she loved very much. She played with her and had her trained to stay
anywhere she put her until she would come and get her. She had named her Topsy.
Pauline would even dress her up in her own dress and played like she was her own baby.
But old Topsy didn't mind to be dressed up at all. I really think she enjoyed it.
There was a Baptist preacher who began a revival meeting at the Coffee School
house, which lasted four or five weeks. Every family for miles around came to his
meetings and every one had a good time. When the meeting was over they had a basket
dinner and a baptizing on the last day and several were baptized. There was a big hole of
water almost in sight of the school house that he chose for the purpose. We school kids
had skated on it in the winter and the boys had gone
swimming in it when the weather was warm enough and they could slip off from the
teacher. that was the first time we had ever gone to church and we loved it. There wasn't
any church very close to us so we didn't get to go to church
anymore for a long time.
There came a weekend that Grandpa Hibdon and Grandma came to see us and we
were all so happy to see them, as they didn't come very often. Grandma brought me a
new dress. It was just like hers. It was blue calico with tiny white flowers on it. I was so
proud of it because Grandma had given it to me. She was always giving me a new dress.
As 1 said before1 we always thought she was a wonderful Grandma, for she liked us all.
Grandpa brought us an old "bureau"1 or chest of drawers as we would say today.
Grandpa and his brother-in-law, Uncle Dick Phillips1 had made it out of hard maple when
Grandpa and Grandma Martha first went to housekeeping back in 1860. It had some of
Grandma's things in it and he wanted my mother to have it and the things that were in it.
He wanted it to stay in the family as long as possible, and so it still is, in 1984.
Here it was the fall of 1915 and wouldn't you know it, Dad had decided to move
again. This time it was on Camp Branch, in Camden County1 about seven miles from Linn
Creek, which was on the other side of the Osage River. We crossed a swinging bridge to
get to it. It was a toll bridge and cost twenty-five cents for a wagon and team and the
driver, but all that was in the wagon could go over free. A horse backer paid twenty cents
and if you were on foot you paid fifteen cents.
Camp Branch was a small stream emptying into the mighty Osage River, where,
once upon a time, all the people for miles around brought their railroad ties and sold them.
That was their way of making a living in those days, except for farming and raising a few
cattle, hogs, sheep, and poultry. They would stack the ties on the bank of the river, then
they would slide them into the river and make rafts of them and float them down the river
to a small river town called Bagnell, which was a railroad town. It was the only railroad
town for miles and miles on the river. It would take a week to float a large raft down the
river to Bagnell if they had luck.
So here is where the Lee family landed, just a half mile from this great tie landing as
they called it, at the mouth of the Cam Branch. We were to move to a little farm of
twenty-five acres, more or less, in this beautiful little valley with high hills and cliffs on all
sides. There was a two room log house very near a big, cool spring of water, flowing from
under this big hill, just back of the house. There was a log hen house and a small barn and
storage room. We were in sight of the Hibdon School where we would be going to school.
And, best of all, my secret beau lived just around on the other side of the hill, not
more than a half mile west of us. Before we could move in we had to wait until the folks
moved out. Dad had already sold his portion where we lived on Little Gravois Creek to
Mama's half brother, Fred Hibdon, and his wife Sophia. They had one little boy, about five
years old and one little girl and another one on the way. It was due in about a month. I had
eavesdropped on my mother and Sophia and heard everything, which kids were not
supposed to know about in those days. Anyway Fred and his family moved in with us for a
whole month. Now the time had rolled around for the John Lee family to move south. It
was about fifteen or twenty miles to Camp Branch.
So they loaded up two wagons. Fred was taking his wagon and my mother was
driving it, while Fred and Raymond were driving the cattle. They had chickens 1 turkeys,
geese, and ducks all in one wagon, and our furniture, clothes, dishes and what have you,
in the other wagon. That was the one Dad was driving.
Well, Mama said there was not room for all of us to go that trip so I could just stay
with Sophia and her kids, as she needed me anyway as Fred would not get back until the
next day. Well, I didn't want to stay and even cried about
it. But Mama said they would come back to get me in a week, but as it turned out they did
not get back for two weeks. Was 1 ever glad when I saw Dad coming to get another load
of stuff and me! Then in another month later we all went back to get the rest of our stuff
that we had left behind. And low and behold, there was a new baby who the stork had
dropped off at the Hibdon house At least that’s the way we were told he got there.
But the sad part about this move was that I never did get to see my best friend Nellie
Marriott anymore until we were grown. She got married before I did. She raised a large
family of her own. She had twin boys but they didn't live to be more than two or three
years old. Now she has passed on to her reward. She was not a very old woman and most
of her children were still at home. There are So many strange and mysterious things in
this life that we don't understand, and we ask the question, "Why?" But our good Lord
knows why1 and we will understand it better by and by. So we travel down the road of life,
struggling to do the best we can. With our guardian angel there to guide and protect us,
time goes on. So the ache in our heart heals and we find new friends, as we did in our new
home. Here in this part of the country it was beautiful. I have always loved the Ozark hills
and always will.
The first thing we did after we got settled down in our new home was to remodel it.
My mother was very good at doing things like that. She could take just about anything and
make it into something she wanted. She got a roll of building paper. Building paper was a
heavy paper for the purpose of lining old houses. There were only two colors, a blue and
a brown, though later they made it with flowers in it, which was very pretty.
You see this was a log house. It was made of rough logs with the bark on. In
between, the logs were chinked with scrap pieces of wood and all the cracks were daubed
with mud, which made a very warm house. The floor was rough oak lumber. The folks that
moved out were newlyweds and they had built the house but they hadn't papered the
walls or done anything to make it look good.
So Mother and us kids papered it. Mother made some new curtains for the only
window. There was one window in the kitchen too and she made the curtains out of flour
sacks. She trimmed them all up with ruffles and they looked really nice.
As I said before there were only two rooms1 a living room and a bedroom together.
But that was all right, for that was the style for country folks in that day and time. Everyone
kept their beds made up and looking nice, all fluffy with straw mattresses, feather beds
covered with a nice white sheet or a pretty quilt.
We also had big fluffy goose feather pillows setting up at the head of the bed. Everyone
took pride in keeping their bed looking nice.
There was an attic over the living room, big enough for two beds. It was tall enough
for us to stand up in the center1 so we fixed it all up and we kids slept in
the attic. Mama even made a ladder and set it up slanting enough to make a sort of
stairway. We papered it on the underneath side and hung a curtain over the
door. It looked real nice.
The only door went out onto a small porch, a narrow boardwalk led to another porch
and into the kitchen, which we had to remodel too. Then there was a five or six foot
section of empty space between the two rooms which they called a dog trot. That was a
funny way to build a house but a lot of houses were built like that back in those days. The
door were made of rough oak, with a homemade latch on it to keep it fastened. There was
a small hole in the door, and a string was fastened to the latch and put through the hole to
the outside. All you had to do was to pull the~ string and the latch would fly up to unfasten
the door. The latch fit a slot on the inside door facing. That was a very simple way to
fasten your door. No one locked their doors when they went away and no one ever had
their houses raided or anything stolen. We lived in a very nice neighborhood. It was open
range and everybody's stock roamed the woods.
Then the time came for us to start to school and for once we didn't have far to go. It
was only a quarter of a mile. Keith Kays was our teacher and would be our teacher for two
years. I was in the seventh grade. Then Thelma Osborn was the teacher the next year.
Thelma's sister taught at the Purvis School, which was about six miles from our school.
Most schools would have a box supper or a pie supper sometime about the middle
of term and usually a term lasted from eight to nine months. They would sell the pies or
boxes to the highest bidder and the money went to buy something the school needed.
One time we bought a new desk for the teacher. Miss Thelma had invited the Purvis
School over to compete with our school in a spelling match but they had the spelling
match before they sold the pies. Miss Thelma and her sister chose sides and anyone from
the youngest to the oldest could take part in the spelling match. They lined us up on each
side of the building and our teacher gave us the words to spell. If anyone missed a word
they had to take their seat. 1 was the last one to take my seat. I had spelled down both
schools. 0h1 boy, I sure was proud of myself! Well, I was a good speller at one time, (not
boasting on myself1 mind you.) All of my teachers thought I was, so they told me.
Whoever bought your pie had to eat with you. It didn’t make any difference if he was
a married man or not. His wife and kids would most likely help you eat it anyway. That is,
if his wife hadn't brought a pie herself then she was supposed to eat with the one that
bought her pie.
Then there was a bar of soap for the dirtiest man there and a pair of socks for the
man with the biggest feet, and a special cake for the most lovesick couple. They were all
sold to the highest bidder and everyone had a lot of fun. Also, the boy that bought a young
girl's pie was supposed to take her home. of course it did not always happen but of course
it happened to me once, a few years after I had quit going to school. It was a very
embarrassing time, I must say.
You see what happened was my old, big white tomcat had followed me to the pie
supper. I called the cat Hubert after my boyfriend. I did not know he had followed me until
he came into the school house and flopped himself down right at my feet. And there was
my boyfriend, Hubert, sitting behind me. He was going to buy my pie but this other guy
out-bid him and got my pie, which I did not like at all. His name was Lee Scott and he was
from the Purvis neighbor-hood.
Anyway, I had to eat my pie with Lee and when he asked to walk me home, I said
yes. We only lived over the hill about a mile from the school of all things, we had only got
a little way from the schoolhouse when along came my cat. He had missed me and was
calling me as loud as he could. When he caught up with me, he stopped his squalling and
tagged along behind me until we got home. (Oh, I forgot to say, Hubert got a piece of pie
anyway, though he ate with someone else.)
I was fifteen years old now and got to see my secret beau lust about every Sunday.
All the kids in the neighborhood would get together at someone's house and play games,
such as Needles Eye, London Bridge is Falling Down, Ring around the Rosie, or Drop the
Handkerchief. Marshall was always my partner.
My friend Myrtle Hibdon had a swing at her house and we would take turns
swinging. The boys always picked the girl he wanted to swing with and Marshall always
picked me, which sure made me happy. We would get in the swing and someone would
push us and try to make the swing go as high as it could go. But my Dad was still telling
me that I was too young for beaus and sparking, as they called it in those days.
There was the time a neighbor lady was having prayer meeting at her house and
she had invited my folks to come. Somehow Mom and Dad couldn't go but they let
Raymond and I go. This was the first time we had gone anywhere by ourselves at night
and we were a little scared. We had to take the lantern to make a light to see how to walk
in the dark, for there was no moon.
When we got there1 no grownups were there, only a group of youngsters. Of
course we weren't interested in prayer meeting. So she told us we could stay and play
games for an hour or two out in her front yard, which Just suited us fine. We played
Needles Eye and, of course Marshall got me for his partner. Well anyway, by this time we
were more serious and we would get together every time we got a chance. We were both
so bashful we could hardly look at one another. But tonight he got brave and asked me if
he could walk me home. I had to say no, but I sure wanted to say, "Yes, I'd love that very
But you see I was only fifteen and my folks had told me no beaus at my age.
Besides they did not like Marshall. So my brother and I started home but we didn't get
very far until along came Orvill Hibdon, a distant cousin of ours, and Marshall, running as
fast as they could. They caught up with us and Marshall walked along beside me, talking
to me, and just kept walking along beside me as though he was supposed to. Orvill
walked along with Raymond. By the time we got within hearing distance of the house I told
Marshall he could not come any farther. So he told me good night and that he would see
me again. I sure gave my brother strict orders not to tell on me and he didn't. Mom and
Dad were in bed when we got home and did not ask many questions, for we had got home
by ten as that was our orders.
But for days I was afraid they would hear about it somehow and I would get into
trouble. Dad never did whip us very often but we sure were afraid that he would if we
didn't mind him.
We knew we had better mind him, for when he or Mama either one told us not to do
something we knew they meant just what they said. One day Dad put us kids to cutting
sprouts off in this field so he could plow it for corn. Raymond was supposed to cut the
sprouts and the rest of us were to pile them and burn them. But we couldn't get Ralph to
work. He would just get under the shade of a sprout and sit there. Aunt Frances Calton
came over to watch us work and chat with us. She didn't like Ralph very well so she told
Raymond to pile brush an him and set the little devil on fire.
Of course she was only kidding him. She was a good old woman, though she had
her pick of us kids. Raymond and Corine were the ones she favored the most. She and
Uncle Dick1 her husband, kept this little country store just across the field in sight of our
house. She was always giving Corine candy and cookies when she went to the store. She
would call on her to stay with her at nights when Uncle Dick went to Eldon or Versailles for
supplies for the store, as it took two days to make the trip.
Raymond was slipping around and smoking now. He would slip two or three eggs
from the hen house and then slip over to Aunt Frances' store. She would give him tobacco
for them. She knew that Mom and Dad did not want the boys to smoke but she let them
have it anyway. Then one day our mother was going by the hen house and she just
decided to see how many eggs there was in the nest. But when she went back to gather in
the eggs, there were some missing. She knew right away what had happened. She had a
suspicious idea that Raymond was getting her eggs, though she had never caught him at
it. I told you that our mother always knew when we did something wrong and how she
knew, was a mystery to us.
So she asked him if he knew anything about the missing eggs and what he had
done with them. He told her the truth. He didn't get into trouble because he told her the
truth and there wasn't any more missing eggs. But he would slip around and get Dad's
tobacco, for Dad chewed homegrown tobacco that he grew himself. Dad never smoked
much. Usually he would smoke one pipe full of tobacco after supper. So Mom and Dad
made a bargain with the boys, not to smoke. The old mares had baby colts that spring and
Mom and Dad told the boys they could have them if they wouldn't smoke any more. of
course the boys promised not to smoke, for they really wanted the colts. But as the old
saying goes, "Promises are like pie crust, they are easily broken." And that is just what
they did. They could not resist the temptation. Usually smoking made Raymond sick and
he would have to hide out until he got over his sickness. But most of the time Mom would
know when he had been smoking anyway.
But they were doing pretty good, at least Mama thought so until one very cold
morning before breakfast. She went to the kitchen door to call them for breakfast and saw
two little streams of smoke rising above a clump of horse weeds some distance from the
house. She knew exactly what it was, so she marched right down there and caught them
in the very act. So they had broken their promise and did not get the colts.
Spring arrived and as usual Dad and Mom put out a big crop of corn, a cane patch,
a garden, and potatoes. They also planted a good size popcorn patch. It rained a lot that
spring and the weeds and crab grass was about to take the popcorn and cane. The crab
grass was so thick you could hardly tell the little cane stalks from the grass. So Mama took
us kids and our garden hoes and we went to work cleaning and hoeing the crab grass out
of the cane and popcorn. It was a pretty hard Job but we got it done. It would get pretty hot
around noon and we would get to stop and eat our noon meal and rest an hour. Then back
to work we went. Mom would let us rest a little while at the end of each row and one of us
would go and get a fresh bucket of water from the spring that was close by.
One afternoon it was very hot and humid and my brother Raymond had a lazy spell
on him. He was lagging way behind the rest of us so Mama kept urging him to work a little
faster and catch up. Most any other time he was ahead of us but he just kept getting
further behind. By this time Mama was losing her patience with him so she scolded him
and that him very angry. He was hot and the sweat was running down his face so he
pulled off some poison ivy leaves that grew out of a stump close by. He rubbed them all
over his face and arms, just to spite Mama. But she told him that was alright, the poison
ivy wouldn't hurt him because he was mad, and it didn't. He had to finish his work anyway
and he didn't get any help from any of us.
Then there was the times we would have to follow Dad as he plowed the little corn,
to uncover any he would cover up with the cultivator and pull the weeds out he happened
to miss. He almost always plowed the corn three or four times before it got too big. When
it began to joint and was easy to break over, that was the time to quit plowing it.
Of course Mama always planted lots of cornfield beans, as she called them, in the
corn and lots of pumpkins and squash too. So that fall we had to pick beans and hull them
for winter. Then we would haul in the pumpkin and squashes. Sometimes there would be
two or three wagon loads of them. Mama would dry and can all that she thought we would
need for winter and Dad would feed the rest to the cows and pigs.
I'll never forget the old mulberry tree that was close to our garden. It was loaded
with mulberries that summer. Mama would send us to pick mulberries for her to make a
cobbler. We would all climb up in the tree to pick the berries and sometimes we would just
sit up there and pick them and eat them.
Of course our baby sister wasn't old enough to do all the things we four older kids
did. I still had to take care of her and take her with me most of the time. I still carried her
astraddle of my hip. She wasn't very big for her age and was sick a lot of her life.. She had
some very bad sick spells off and on since she was four months old. So we all humored
her and had her "spoiled rotten," as the old timers would say.
Well, I was still sweet on my secret beau, or "feller" as some called our
sweethearts in those days. of course, they are our boy4riends nowadays. And the girls
don't have to be so secret or beat around the bush about their boyfriends as we did.
Parents are not so strict on their girls anymore. Girls1 and boys too1 were more shy and
bashful in those days. The boys had to do all the asking, like if they could escort you home
or not. Then you had to ask your parents if you were not sure and their answer mostly
depended on whether they liked the boy or not.
Also he had to ask you while you were still inside the church, never after you left
the church. Sometimes the boy lived two or three miles on one side of the church house
and you lived two or three miles on the other side. So you see the boy had to think a lot of
you and be very brave if he walked that many miles to be with you. Some of the boys had
horses to ride. They would walk with the girl and lead their horses. He would let one of the
smaller kids ride while he walked with the girl. A boy very seldom stayed all night and if he
did he had to have a very special reason, and your parents had to be the ones to invite
him. The girl wouldn't dare to stay all night in the boys home either.. If she did, she was
just chasing after him and wasn't a very nice girl, according to neighborhood gossip.
Most usually the whole neighborhood of young folks would gang up at one house
on Sundays. Also two or three of our mothers and dads would go home with this one
family too. We would all have a wonderful time. The rule was for our mothers to prepare
dinner and serve it Sometimes there would be three or four tables. The men and boys
were served first, then the mothers and kids. Then after everyone was fed and skeddled
out of the way, mothers and a111 the girls job began. We had to wash up the dishes and
put them away in their proper places. We didn't mind doing the dishes at all. We had lots
of fun doing them. After the dishes were all put away, we youngsters would gather out in
the yard and play games. Just before church time we girls would quit and pretty ourselves
up for church. We would comb each others hair. We all had long hair. No one had ever
heard of anyone culling their hair in our early girlhood days.
Several families rode to church in the old lumber wagon, as they called it, and
some rode horseback. The ones that lived close enough just walked. But the younger
ones always walked, no matter how far it was, unless the weather was too bad.
We girls would start off first and the boys would come on behind. Before we got
very far they would catch up with us. They would walk up beside the girl they wanted to
walk to church with and ask her. of course Marshall was my escort most of the time if he
happened to be in the crowd. But anyway, by this time our closest neighbor, Hubert
Arnold, was my "feller" when Marshall was not there. The Arnolds had moved just a half
mile east of us and had to pass our house going to church. We kids had to pass their
house going to school. So Hubert and I would walk together a lot of the time. Anyway we
were not that serious about each other yet. We were just having fun 5 although some of the
older ones were going steady and three or four of the couples did get married.
We had some wonderful meetings at the Old Rock Dale Church. It was a union
church and several denominations gathered there each Sunday for preaching and
Sunday School. I was a teacher for the junior class for three years and also the young
people's leader for Christian Endeavor Class. Each denomination had its own preacher
for one Sunday each month, except the fifth Sunday. On the fifth Sunday we just had
Sunday School and our young peoples meeting and singing for the night services.
Sometimes we would dismiss the night singing and all would go to the Baptist Church to
hear Robert Woods, or Father Woods as the young folks called him, preach.
Sometimes the Baptists would dismiss their meeting and come to our church and
help us sing. You see the Baptists had their own church house, about a quarter of a mile
on down the road.
There was one day in June of every year that was called children's day. They had a
program and all of the children took part in it. There was one time we girls, all twenty-two
of us, acted out "Nearer My God to Thee". We were all dressed in white.
Then there was the time that a Methodist minister from Lebanon, Missouri, came
and held a revival meeting which lasted four weeks. We called him Brother Nelson. I don't
remember his first name but everyone liked him. He even preached in several school
houses. He had two or three weeks meetings in the Hibdon school house. Then the next
year he came back and held a four weeks meeting in a brush arbor.
It was Just about four or five miles from the church at a place we called the cross
roads, one road running east and west. Going east Just a few miles you would run into
this small country village. called Purvis (or Porters Mill Spring), which was only a county
store, a black smith shop, a church and school house, and a few families. The west end of
the road led you to Gladstone (or Riffle Town) and on to Rocky Mount and Eldon. There
was a store, a black smith shop, a post office, a school and a church house. There were
also several families. It was a very busy little town and these little country stores provided
most anything you wanted to buy. Then the road going north led you to Gravois Mills and
on to Versailles in Morgan County. The south end of the road led you right by the Rock
Dale Church and six miles on down the trail was Linn Creek, which was a very prosperous
little town of several hundred people.
Now back to Reverend Nelson and his revival meeting. There was a host of young
people that went to the alter each night and gave their hearts to the Lord. Getting
converted was the proper way of saying the Lord had forgiven you of your sins. Then in
May, 1915 a whole gang of us were baptized in water and, as I recall, that was one of the
happiest days of my life.
Then sometime in January of 1916 they had a revival meeting at the Baptist
Church and everybody went to hear Brother Woods preach. He was one Baptist who
believed in shouting and he sure could get happy. There was a big snow on the ground
but that didn't stop people from going to that meeting, which lasted four weeks. Most of
the time we went in the wagon. Dad would put a lot of straw or hay in the wagon bed and
Mom would put an old quilt over it. She would heat three or four big rocks and place them
around in the hay where we could put our feet close to them. Then she would cover us up
with another quilt. Dad would hitch the old mares to the wagon and off we would go. We
would keep warm and snug as a bug in a rug, even if the weather did get down to zero
One of my girl friends came home with me for dinner on a Sunday. When we
started back to church that evening Dad decided we would all go horseback. He told
Grace and 1 that we could ride old Daisy. She could get pretty stubborn sometimes but
she was doing pretty good this time until we met a car. She was afraid of cars, for there
was not very many in our part of the country at that time and she was not used to them.
Old Daisy began to act like she might start running and throw us off. We were scared too.
Grace was not used to riding horses and she was holding onto me so tight that I thought
she was going to pull me off so I reined old Daisy off the road until the car went by.
We had rode along the side of the road for a short distance when I reined her back to
the road. She stepped off into a ditch which was level with snow and we didn't know it was
there. Old Daisy fell head long right out onto the road, throwing Grace and I off into the
muddy slush where the snow had melted. There we were, scrambling to get up, when
Mom and Dad got to us. We weren't hurt, but, "my, oh, my" what a muddy mess we were!
It was too far to go back home and change our clothes. Grace couldn't wear my clothes
anyway, as she was bigger and taller than I was. She lived a mile or more on the other
side of the church house, so that was out of the question too. Dad caught old Daisy and
helped us get up on her and we went to church as if nothing had happened. of course we
had to do a lot of explaining as to why we were so muddy and we had to stay pretty. close
to the stove so we could dry off.
Once Frances Parrish was going to come home with me and stay all night but we
got side-tracked and stayed all night with Aunt Sade Hibdon. We had to pass right by her
house and she invited us to stay all night with her, so we did. My brother Raymond was
with us and he went on home by himself. It was not very far on around the hill to our
house, "just a hop, skip and a jump and you were there." I knew I would get into trouble
when I got home the next morning and I didn't have a very good time, knowing I had done
wrong. That was the first time I had ever stayed away from home without asking my
parents and knowing my Mama, I knew what I was in for. So I hurried home the next
morning just as soon as I could get started and told Mama all about why I had stayed and
didn't come on home with Raymond.
Of course she was a little mad at me and scolded me but the worst of all was that
she wouldn't let me go to Aunt Sade's house for a long time unless she went with me. But
our Aunt Sade was a very wonderful old lady and everyone loved her. She told my mom
that it was her fault that I had stayed all night at her house.
One Sunday Aunt Sade invited all the young folks to her house for dinner. Marshall
was still living with them but her son Tomy had left home, as he and Joe couldn't get along
with each other. Tomy had gone to live with his brother Frank, who lived in the southern
part of the state. As I've said before, Mom and Dad didn't like Marshall, so I got to go this
time because Raymond and Corine were with me. Aunt Sade really had a feast for us. We
all helped her and we did the dishes for her. The boys had all gone out in the yard and
were just milling around, wrestling and boxing and mostly waiting for us girls to come out
to start playing games. Our Aunt Sade was right in there with us. She was as much of a
young girl as any of us were.
We played Antie Over for our first game. With this game there were two who had to
be the leaders and they would choose one by one who they wanted on their side until
everyone was chosen for one side or the other. Then the one that had the odd number
would start the game unless both sides had the same in number, then the one that said I
first got to start the game. He or she, whichever, would take the ball and take their gang
around on one side of the house. The other gang would go to the other side. The one that
had the ball would throw the ball over the house, yelling "Antie Over" loud enough so the
other side could hear them and everyone would be trying to catch the ball. If someone
caught it we would all run around the house, surprising them if we could and throwing the
ball at some one. If the ball hit them they had to go on that side and then it was their turn
to throw the ball over the house to the other gang, as they would be on the opposite side
now, for we always had to exchange sides every time someone caught the ball.
The winner was the one that got all the players to come over to their side. If any one
missed throwing the ball all the way over the house they had to say pig tail, and try
throwing it over again. We all got a big kick out of Joe McMillian because he couldn't talk
plain and he would say "pid tail". We all got to saying "pid tail" but Joe didn't care if we did
laugh at him, he had just as much fun with us kids as we had.
We all were getting tired and one by one someone would drop out of the game.
Then Aunt Sade and my brother Raymond were missing. They soon appeared and
Raymond was all dressed up in Auntie's dress and old sun bonnet. He was quite a clown
and put on a pretty good show for us. Raymond was always the life of the party and every
one liked him.
We were all tired as we had run and played so hard all evening. We began to slow
down until the boys all strolled off to the barn lot and started a cob fight. Well, we just
could not keep out of it so we ganged up on them and began to fight against them, Aunt
Sade included. Joe McMillian was included, too. He was the biggest duck in the puddle.
But the boys won the battle. They got too hot for us and we had to give up. It was time for
us to get freshened up for church anyway. What a day we had at Aunt Sade's that
Sunday! We never did forget the good times we had at her house.
There was the time Dad and Mama took us kids to the county fair on the Fourth of
July at Linn Creek. We went in the wagon with the old mares hitched to it. We didn't mind
that at all, as that was the only way we had to go in those days, for cars weren't very
plentiful in our neck of the woods. Beside cars were for rich folks anyway, or so we
thought. We country folks didn't need cars as long as we had a good wagon and team of
horses. We had a good time at the fair. It was a very hot, humid day, the kind you can
have in Missouri in July. The time came for us to leave so we all piled in the wagon and
headed for home. It was around four o'clock in the evening and Dad wanted to get home
early enough to get the chores done before dark. Linn Creek was seven miles southwest
of our home. We had to cross the Osage River on a swinging toll bridge which cost twenty
five cents for the team and wagon and driver, but whoever else was in the wagon could go
across free. If you just walked across, it cost you fifteen cents.
We had to pass by the church house on our way. There was a lot of folks standing
out in the yard so Dad stopped to see what was going on, as it was too early for church to
start. They were just stopping on their way home from the fair to stay for church because
some of the folks lived too far from the church to get back in time. So of course we began
to beg Mom and Dad to stay, but he would not stay. He had to get home to do the chores,
but he told Raymond, Corine and I that we could stay.
The only thing that was troubling us was that we would have to walk home in the
dark by ourselves. But we were going to be brave and do it. We didn't mind to walk home
by ourselves, so we thought. But that was before an awful thunder storm came up during
the church services and rained so hard that all the creeks were up and over flowing their
banks, though we only had a small branch to cross and it would have been run down by
the time we got to it. it was still misting rain and lightning real bad when we came out of the
church house and it was very dark. We didn't have a lantern to light our way and we were
scared. We didn't know Just what to do but we decided to try going home when a Mrs.
Nan Cram, a very good friend of ours, told us she thought we had better go home with
them for the night as they had a lantern to make a light. Besides, she was afraid for us to
go home by ourselves as there was another storm coming up. So you see we were not
very hard to persuade. She told us it would be all right because she would explain it to our
mother and would take the blame for everything. But she didn't know our mother, for we
knew we were in for a hard time and a lot of trouble with Mom and Dad. But because she
insisted and would not take no for an answer, we went home with her.
But I for one could not enjoy our visit. It worried me to know that Mom was worrying
about us. The Crams lived about two miles in the opposite direction, on the other side of
the church house from our home. It was awfully muddy. Corine and I had wore our white
tennis shoes. We didn't want to ruin them in the mud so we took them off and walked
barefooted. The Cram girls took their shoes off too. The oldest girl was two years older
than me but we were the best of friends. Her name was
Beaulahttp://www.livgenmi.com/mocounty.htm and Goldie was the other one. She was
Corine's age. Their only son, Coleman, was about my age. There were four or five
families and their youngsters walking that same direction that night. The Crams lived
about a half mile off the main road and were the first family to leave the main road. The
youngsters were all having a lot of fun splashing along in mud. That is except me. I
couldn't enjoy myself, knowing my mother was worrying about us and also knowing that
we were in trouble.
Well, sure enough we were, though we did hurry home just as fast as our legs
would carry us. It was about nine-thiry when we arrived, very tired, hot, and scared. We
were relieved a little when we didn't find anyone at home because Dad always got up at
five and got out in the field before it got hot and Mama was down in her garden and did not
see us come. So that made us feel a little better, for the moment anyway, that we didn't
have to explain anything yet. So we changed into our old work clothes and headed for the
corn field, where we were supposed to have been, hoeing the crab grass and weeds out
of the corn. And we were really working hard when Mama found us. She didn't whip us but
she sure did give us a tongue lashing We would have rather got a whipping instead, but
anyway, we did not pull that stunt ever again. We really did fly in and worked very hard for
several days without grumbling about it.
We had already moved again by this time, just across on the other side of the field. lt
was south of the schoolhouse but still in sight. This was a two-story log house with the
kitchen a short distance from the rest of the house. There was a log barn with a hen house
attached to it for our chickens. We all liked our new home. of course there was a lot of
work to do, cleaning it up and papering the walls, putting up the curtains and scrubbing
the floors, and also cleaning off the yard. But of course we were all used to hard work and
nobody seemed to mind.
We carried our water from a spring a short distance from the house. There was a
large wooden box set in the spring branch just below the spring, fixed so the water could
flow through it. That was the milk box and that is where we kept the milk and butter to
keep it cool in the summer time. Every family had a milk box or a spring house to keep
their milk and butter, also other food, from spoiling. A real good cool spring flowing out
from under the hill was a wonderful thing for the country folks in those days, for ice boxes
were scarce and refrigerators were not even in the book. Sometimes our mother would
buy about fifty pounds of ice when she went to Linn Creek, and a dozen or two of lemons.
We would have good old country lemonade as long as the ice lasted. Mother would wrap
it in wet gunny sacks and then keep a heavy quilt over it and it would last for three or four
Once our mother had bought some very pretty material to make Corine and I a new dress.
As she had gone visiting and taken Pauline with her we didn't have much to do except to
get Dad and the boys their dinner. So we decided to make our new dresses ourselves. I
spread the material out on the bed and laid the old dress on it for a pattern to cut it by, just
like Mama did. We had to hurry to get them done by the time Mama got back but we did
and had them on when she got back. She bragged on me, for of course I was the one that
had done all the work, as Corine had not done much sewing yet. They were a solid orange
color. I used some black material and cut it in narrow strips to bind the neck and sleeves.
I had made them just alike. We thought they were very pretty. From then on I had a hand
in making nearly all my own clothes. We made all our underclothes too. No one in our
neighborhood ever thought about store-bought clothes, especially the women folks.
Then one bright sunny day, Dad hitched up old Maud and old Daisy to the wagon an
we all piled in. We went by Aunt Sade's and picked up her lunch and off to the wild
strawberry patch we went, which was about three miles from our home, over in the Purvis
neighborhood. The Strawberries were growing around the edge of an old bald hill and
there were oodles and oodles of them. We all got our buckets full and our mom made jam
and jelly galore. But it wasn't so good for Pauline, for she couldn't eat anything that had
too much acid in it. She had eaten too many strawberries so that very evening she had an
appendicitis attack, which scared us all nearly to death. Wereally thought she would die
before Dad could get back with the doctor, as he had to get on old 'laud and ride seven
miles to Linn Creek to get a doctor. No one had a telephone in our part of the country. But
finally they arrived. The doctor gave her something and soon she fell asleep. But she was
sick for several days so I had to stay at the house and take care of her, keep her from
getting out in the hot sun and see that she took her medicine on time, and fix the noon day
meal while the rest of the family went to work in the fields. Pauline had never gone to
school yet. She was sick so much that Mama was afraid to send her. But she was seven
years old that fall so Mama started her in school. Raymond and I had to carry her all the
way. Raymond would get her on his back and play like he was her horse and he would
buck with her and sometimes he would buck her off just for fun. She liked that and would
get back on for him to do it all over again. But she wouldn't walk a step if she did not want
to. I almost always carried her everywhere I went anyway. One morning on our way to
school I got tired and wanted her to let Raymond carry her for a little while but she
wouldn't let anyone carry her but me. I begged her to walk just a little way and let me rest.
We had to climb this steep hill and the road was very good and level for about a half mile
or so until we came to this bald hill1 which was pretty rough. Then we had to go down hill
for quite a distance to the school house.
But all my begging was in vain. So Raymond and I decided to go on and leave her,
for she had sat down in the middle of the road and wouldn't budge an inch. We went on
out of sight and left her crying. We felt sorry for her and went back to see about her. We
were afraid she would get scared by herself and would try to go back home and get lost.
But when we got back where we could see her, there she sat, right where we had left her.
I got her astraddle of my hip and we went on to school.
There were times when she would walk if I would lead her and tell her stories. She
liked Snow White. That was her favorite. I told her The Three Bears, Jack and the
Beanstalk, The Three Little Pigs, Bunny Cotton Tail, Little Red Riding Hood, and others I
have forgotten. I would get so tired of telling them over and over that I would make up a
story of my own. She didn't mind that at all, just so it was a story. But she never did get
tired of Little Snow White and I'd have to tell it every night and morning if I wanted her to
As I mentioned before, we had to climb this long steep hill as we started off to
school. It was a short cut to the main cross country road, which was real smooth all the
way to the old bald hill. The main road went on around the hill. So we took another short
cut, across the old bald hill. One evening we were going home from school.. Just as we
were leaving the old bald hill and entering the main road there was a bush by the side of
the path. In fact there were two bushes, one on each side of the path and their branches
came so close together we had to push them aside to get through.
I was the last one to go through and here was a piece of paper hanging on to a limb
which no one else had noticed but me. I wondered why it was there and what was on it, for
it was not there that morning. I took it off and, lingered far enough behind to read it without
the others knowing. And, would you know it, my heart skipped a beat, for low and behold,
it was a note from my secret beau. It said, “Won't you ask your mother if I can go with you
steady?", signed Marshall. My, was I glad one of the others hadn't found it first! So when
we got home and I caught Mom by herself, I braced myself with what courage I could
muster up and asked her. I told her all about the note and to my surprise she said that it
would be all right, if I would obey certain rules she and Dad had laid down, which wasn't
too hard. Well, I could hardly wait till the next morning so I could hang a note on this same
bush for him, telling him what Mama had said. He found my note all right. He was
watching for us to go by, though we did not see him.
I was sixteen years old then. From that time on until school was out we had a secret
rock we used for a mail box. I would leave a note for him every morning and he would get
it and leave me one and I'd get it as I went home from school. I had learned to whistle
though my hands and every morning as we went across the old bald hill, I would whistle to
him and he would answer me, as he only lived a short distance at the foot of the hill and
across the field to his house. We could see his house in the winter time when the leaves
were all off the trees. Marshall didn't go to school, as his parents were gone and there was
no one that seemed to care if he went or not.
By this time we had moved again. It was about two miles across the hill, into another
hollow, called Pin Hook Hollow. There was a one room log house with a lean-to kitchen.
The living room was a very large room with a fire place at one end. There was another
house jammed up close to the west corner of the living room that we used for a summer
kitchen and a storage room in the winter. There was only one room and an attic. Corine
and 1 would climb up in the attic through a hole in the floor. I think we called It the "scuttle
hole" but it was a good place to play paper dolls on rainy days or to just hide away from
the rest of the family once in a while.
There was a log smoke house out back of the kitchen. That is where Dad would
smoke his meat and store it after he would butcher in the fall. It was also where flom and
us kids would make a big barrel of kraut, and put salt pickles in ten gallon stone jars. Also
there was the fifty gallons of sorghum molasses in a wooden barrel. Dad always had to
have his sorghum if he didn't have anything else. There was a log barn with a shed on the
one side to keep our wagon in the dry when it was not in use. There was also a big hay
loft, for the hay to be stored.for the winter and a dandy place fo us kids to play in on rainy
days. There was a corn crib, which was a very good place to hide when we were playing
The hen house was made of logs too. The barn and hen house sat on a little knoll east of
the house just across a little branch, which would get out of its banks when it rained a lot.
We carried our water from a spring which flowed from under a big hill. There was a milk
box in the spring branch lust below the spring to keep our milk and butter from spoiling.
A country road ran by our house on the south and then there was a big garden just
across the road. Well that just about tells it all, except there were wild huckleberries and
black berries all over the place, also oodles and oodles of wild grapes too. There' was a
wonderful swimming hole or two in the branch just across the field. Well, to make a long
story short, this was a perfect Hillbilly home, right there in these beautiful Ozark hills.
Anyway we all thought it was wonderful and enjoyed every minute. Modern day luxuries
had not come our way yet, but we didn't mind that. Those kind of things were for rich folks
anyway, so we thought.
There was a time that Mother went to the hen house to gather the eggs and put her
hand on a big black snake. He was all coiled up in the hens nest and she didn't see him
until she touched him, which lust about scared her out of her wits and she screamed. All
the kids and Dad too were there in no time flat to see what was wrong. Dad got the hoe
and killed him. He was so full of eggs he couldn't move very fast. He was six feet long.
Once Mom and Dad hitched up the old mares to the wagon and took off to Linn
Creek to do the trading. (of course it is shopping now-adays.) But anyway they had the
wagon box full of frying chickens and several dozens of eggs and whatever else they
could sell or trade for a months supply of groceries. But they had left us kids at home and,
as it was the middle of July and the crops were all laid by, we didn't have anything to do
but play and we could always do a good job of that. We had our orders to stay pretty close
to the house while they were gone.
So we all had decided to go the barn and play Hide-and-Go-Seek. Well, we soon got
tired of that and we girls were going back to the house and the boys went across the field
to the swimming hole. But when we started to the house Pauline wouldn't go because I
wouldn't carry her. I was tired so I wanted her to walk and I would lead her. Corine tried to
carry her but she wouldn't let her because she wanted me to carry her. So we just went off
and left her, crying as loud as she could for Mama.
We waited a long time for her to come on, but she never did come. So I slipped back
to see what she was doing and she was leaning up against the
barn crying her heart out. So I went back to the house and dressed up in Dad's old work
clothes and put his old floppy hat on my head. Then 1 slipped around back of the barn on
the outside of the cow lot, just a short distance from her, and said, "Hello, little girl.
Where's your pa?" When she looked ur and saw me she stopped crying and ran all the
way to the house. She was really scared. I slipped around back of the house and pulled
off Dad's old clothes and when I went into the house, Corine was trying to console her to
get her to stop crying. She had missed me and she knew right away that I had tricked her
into coming to the house by herself. We never could fool her on anything. She always
seemed to know when we were going to pull a joke on her, like the time Dad was going to
play Santa Claus for us kids and the Parrish kids. Dad had dressed up in some old clothes
and had a red handkerchief over his face and a sack of toys over his shoulder. We didn't
have Santa Claus faces and white beards or Santa Claus suits back 'athar" in those
Ozark Hills, when we were youngsters. We had to create our own costumes and that was
all right as far as we were concerned. We loved and enjoyed our way of life.
We were not supposed to ever scare Pauline, whip or scold her, or make her mad.
She was our bbly sister and she was sick so much of the time. the doctor said she had a
bad heart and she might just fall over dead any time. We all tried our best to humor and
pet her to everything she wanted. So you see why she was spoiled so rotten. But we didn't
seem to mind. I rather think we all loved to do the things we did for her.
My best friend at school was Myrtle Hibdon. She was a distant cousin also. We
were in the same class. We sat together and studied the same books. We would study
real hard and get our lessons all caught up so we would have a lot of time to goof off. We
would write letters to our boyfriends, which we weren't supposed to do in school. We
would write our letters in numbers and no one else could read them. We could read in
numbers as good as we could with letters. This is the way we did it: Number one was the
letter A, number 2 was the letter B, number three was the letter C ,and on through the
whole alphabet. It was a lot of fun. We would spend some of our leisure time telling each
other's fortunes on paper. It would tell who we would marry, where we would live, and how
many children we would have. of course, we made sure it came out just the way we
wanted it to. We also made sure our teacher didn't catch us.
Sometimes our teacher would let us teach a class or two each day while she was
busy doing something else. I loved that. That is, I liked all the classes except the fifth
grade. My brother, Raymond, and Orville Hibdon were always goofing off and
mispronounced words just to make me laugh, like the time they had to memorize a poem
of "Winkum, Blinkum and Nod, sailed off one night in a wooden shoe". But they said
Winkum, Blinkum and Nod, and I couldn't get them to say it right. So our teacher saw that
I was having trouble with them and she came and took over and they said it right for her.
I loved school and wouldn't have missed a day if I could have had my way. But of
course we had to help with the work at home when we were needed. We had some good
times at school and most of our teachers were good. We would always get Friday
afternoons off at the last recess. We would have to clean out our desks and straighten up
our books for Monday. Then we would have a spelling match, or a reading, history or
geography contest, or see who was best in arithmetic. Well, arithmetic was not my best
subject. I was not good with figures and anybody could beat me. But no one else could
beat me on any of the other subjects.
Sometimes our teacher would let us older ones roam over the hills and pick wild
grapes, blackhaws, and persimmons, of which there was plenty of each close by. We
weren't supposed to go very far away and to be back by four o'clock. There was this cave
up or the hill, not far from the school house that we were not supposed to go in, but we
always went by it and played around for a while. Raymond and Orville Hibdon would go in
it sometimes. They would have to get down and crawl in but they could stand up when
they got in it. It wasn't a very big space back in it but it had rock formations hanging from
the ceiling that looked like little icicles and the boys would break them off and give them to
the girls for keepsakes.
Hubert Arnold was my "feller" now. The kids at school called us Pa and Ma and we
liked that. We pretended they were our children. Marshall and 1 had just sort of drifted
apart. We were still close friends and he would still walk me home from church once in a
while. But Hubert and I walked to and from school together. He sat just across the isle
from me and we would write love notes and throw then across to each other. This is one
he threw me one evening: "If I was a little pig rooting in your yard, and you were a big dog
would you bite me hard?" Somehow we never did get caught by our teacher and the kids
never told on us. I was always helping him out of a jam when we were taking our
examinations. When he didn't know the answer to a question he would throw a note
across to me and I would throw the answer back. 1 almost always knew the answers and
I never did fail passing my grades.
There was a poor little boy that was partially retarded. Well he wasn't so little, for
he was big for his age. He was eight or ten years old but he couldn't learn very fast and he
was in the first grade and he looked so funny going to class with the first-graders. He was
so much bigger than they were. some of the older boys teased him a lot and played tricks
on him. There was a big water oak tree that stood right on the edge of this large pool of
water. It's roots extended out over the water, which was large enough for three or four
kids to sit on with their feet dangling in the water and eat their lunch. One day Johnny was
sitting on this root and one of the boys pushed him off into the water. lt was pretty cool too.
The water was waist deep. He went in over his head and came up shivering and saying
"Oooh, ooooh." But he never did get mad at them for teasing him.
Once someone went into the school house on the weekend and tore up some
library books. Our teacher was very angry about it and was determined to find out who did
it, so she held a kangaroo court before she started our classes. This boy, Louis Mattox 1
was laying all the blame on Johnny. In the first place Johnny didn't do it so he got a little
upset about it and was trying very hard to defend himself. So he bet a dollar he didn't do it
and Louie swore that Johnny did do it. Poor Johnny was getting madder by the minute
and was almost in tears. This time he bet a big old round dollar that he didn't do it, which
he didn't. But when the truth was finally known, it was Louie, and his parents had to pay
for the books. For one time, I think all the kids in school felt sorry for Johnny.
The older boys were always doing things they shouldn't be doing and were always
getting into trouble, like the time someone came up with the idea of making a gun out of a
sewing thread spool and rubber bands. I don't know just how they did it but they would put
a little stick into the spool and pull the rubber band back real tight and let it go, shooting
the stick a long way. They would shoot the little kids and make them cry. They even
sharpened the sticks or wooden matches and shot us girls and they would hurt, even
leaving a little red speck if the stick was sharpened. They kept the little kids crying and
someone was always going to the teacher, telling on them.
The teacher was getting very aggravated about the whole thing for she had told
them over and over again not to shoot the little ones. She finally told them if they did it
again, they would have to come in and take their seat for the remainder of the recess
period. But Orville, who didn4t think he had to mind her if he didn't want to, just up and shot
one of the little ones as she turned to go back inside. of course they screamed at him and
the teacher turned in time to catch him. So she walked to the door but he didn't give her a
chance to say a word.. He shot her on the lip with a real sharp match stick and it almost
brought blood. Then he wheeled around real quick and headed for home and he never
came back to school any more.
One of our teachers, Miss Thelma Osborn, took us on a picnic. It was on a
Saturday, a very beautiful day. Our mothers helped fill our baskets with lots of good things
to eat and we all met at the school house. So with a lot of energy we took off across
country, laughing, hopping, skipping, running, doing every thing a normal kid would be
doing on a trip like this. This was something very special for us as we didn't get to go on
trips like this very often. Our destination, the Porter Mill Springs, was a three or four mile
hike over in the Purvis community. We were meeting the Purvis School and their teacher,
who was Miss Thelma's sister. The Porter Mill Spring was a very large spring flowing from
under a very high bluff, forming a large stream of water which flowed into the Osage River
not many miles away.
My, oh my, what a day we had! We waded in the water, we had water fights, played
on the sand bar, picked up queer looking rocks and picked wild flowers. Well, our
teachers let us do almost anything we wanted to do, but four o'clock rolled around all too
soon. It was time to start our long trek back home. It was much further going back than it
was coming over because we were all tired. But we all enjoyed every minute of it and it
was a day we never did forget.
This was 1917 and World War had broken out back in April and things were looking
very bad and times were getting harder. One day I went to the mail box, which was a
quarter of a mile from our house, to get the mail and there was a notice from the war
department for Dad to go to Linn Creek, the county seat, and register for the army. I was
so scared that Dad was going to wax that I ran all the way home, crying so hard that I
could hardly tell my mother what I had got. The next morning Dad got on old Maud and
rode to Linn Creek to register but it turned out that he was just a little old and he didn't
have to go.
But all the boys from eighteen years and older had to go. Six of my own cousins
and several of my second cousins had to go. Aunt Sade's son Claude had to go. He was
wounded in battle soon after he went to France and was in the hospital a long time before
he was sent back to the states. He didn't get to come home for two years after the war
was over. There was another cousin, Bill Kennedy, whch was gassed. He got TB soon
after he came home and passed away in the early 1920's. Then Arthur Hibdon was killed
as they were crossing the Rhine River into Germany, just minutes before the Armistice
Things were looking pretty bad. Food and clothes were rationed. Flour and sugar
was very hard to get. Then in 1918 the flu broke out. It was called "influenza" then. We
had never heard of a disease just like it before. There was an epidemic of it nationwide
and a very great number of people died. Our little corner of the woods was not passed up.
Whole families were sick and no one was able to wait on the other. All in our family were
sick but Dad and me. We sure thought that our mother was going to die because she was
so bad. There was a big snow on the ground and it was bitter cold. Dad had to go about a
half a mile to feed his cattle and mill the cows. I had to feed the chickens, gather in the
eggs, carry Ir enough water for the night and help Dad to carry in enough wood fox the
night too. I also had to do the cooking, but that wasn't a very big job for no one was eating
much of anything because they were too sick to eat.
The McMlillians lived on the other side of the hill, north of us about two miles. They
were all down at the same time, so Dad would go over once a day and feed their stock
and get in enough wood and water to last them twenty4our hours or until he could get
back to them sometime the next day. Sometimes other neighbors would drop Ir to help
them and fix them something to eat. One of our very best friends, Mrs. Nan Cram, was a
lifesaver to the whole community. She went far and wide caring for the sick and helping
families who had lost a loved one or two. It wasn't unusual to hear of two or three dying in
one family. fly Aunt Vina's oldest daughter and two children died, just within two or three
hours of each other.
Mrs. Cram never did get the flu, though all of her family war sick at the same time
and she cared for them all by herself. She came over to see us several times while my
mother was so bad. The doctor had given Dad some little white pills to give to the sick
ones. Then there were these special ones that he had to give to Mon every two hours. He
had to start doing his chores early in the evening because he had so much to do,
especially if he had to go tc the Mcflillians. So he told me to give Mother her pill and if he
was not back in two hours to give her another one. When I gave Mother her pill, she
demanded two. She said one wasn't enough. I argued with her but she would’t take no for
an answer. I thought she knew what she was doing and I also thought I had to mind her,
so I gave them to her. Then the hours rolled around and it was time to give her another pill
and she still demanded two, which I tried to talk her out of. But she won and took two
more. She went to sleep, so I thought. I had supper ready when Dad got back. It was dark
by the time he got home. Dad and I ate supper by ourselves. The other children did not
eat very much.
I tried to wake Mother up to feed her but she wouldn't wake up. She was talking so
crazy that we didn't know what to do. Her fever was so high that we decided we had better
sit up with her for we did not think she would live until morning. We sat up until about one
a.m. and she seemed to be resting then. We thought she was asleep so we didn't try to
give her any medicine. She had been so bad we didn't want to disturb her because she
needed the rest. As Dad got into bed beside her she stirred a little but could not talk to us.
She got so quiet we thought she had gone back to sleep. By morning she was better and
could talk to us. She was not asleep all the time. She was so sick she just buried her face
in the pillow and prayed to die. Her tongue was so thick and stiff she could not talk and
she was so thirsty and she couldn't tell us. But she had finally gone to sleep and dreamed
she was Bert Cole, a bachelor neighbor of ours about Dad's age1 who had died that very
day. He had a big shepherd dog that went with him everywhere he went. H. had been over
to see us a few days before. So in her dream she thought she was Bert and she had died
and she told the folks to bury her in the corner of the yard. So they had taken her out and
laid her on the snow and turned the "rough box" as we called it then over her, and this big
old dog came and laid down by her.
The doctor came to see us the next day. He didn't have to be called, everybody
was sick and he was just making his daily rounds, trying to see everyone he could. He
traveled mostly by horseback. He lived at Linn Creek. Dad told him what I had done and
how sick she had been. He said that it was a wonder that she didn't die, for those little
white pills had stricnine in them. It was a good thing we did not give her any water for she
would have died for sure. But our mother did survive that awful night and was with us for
twenty-two years. I am still thanking my Maker for sparing her life. If she had died, I would
have always known that I had killed her.
Christmas came that year and no one was very enthused because so many people
were sick and the war was so bad. Money and food were scarce too. Our mother had told
us that Santa Claus wouldn't be coming to our house this Christmas. But Dad went to Linn
Creek a few days before Christmas with some eggs and two or three old hens. He also
took a bushel or two of shelled corn. He traded the corn for corn meal but no flour or sugar
I had told Dad several weeks back that Corine and 1 would like to have a yard of
wide black hair ribbon as all the girls were wearing big ribbon bows at the back of their
heads. They combed their hair back and braided it in one long braid or just half way and
let the rest hang loose. Then they tied the ribbon at the nape of their neck, making a big
bow. We really thought we had a very fancy hair-do. No one had short hair. We hadn't
even heard of bobbed hair yet.
Well, anyway, we weren't expecting anything but when Dad got back he had our
hair ribbons, which cost about five or ten cents a yard and he brought all of us some
candy. But we were all pretty happy anyway. For one thing we had our mother with us and
she was getting well again, which was more than a lot of families could say who had lost a
loved one or two.
Then Dad got a notice to move. Ross Parrish was our landlord and he wanted us to
get out in thirty days, as he had sold his farm on the Osage River and wanted to move in
this house. He was married to Pearl Kennedy, Mama's neice, and she was expecting her
first child. Ross had been married before and had two children I Ollie and George. They
were both school age and would be going to school with us.
Well, thirty days didn't give us much time to find a place and get moved but we did
it. Dad didn't know just what to do but finally decided to move into this fourteen by sixteen,
one room log cabin just on up Pin Hook Hollow about a half a mile. He had stored his feed
in the cabin and fed his cattle and horses there all winter and it was a mess.
Pin Hook Hollow had gotten its name from a family by the name of Jim Hayes. Jim
had married my mother's second cousin, Effie Calton. They had five boys. The neighbors
said anytime you passed their little log cabin you would see several fishing poles made
from willows, with straight pins bent in the form of fish hooks setting up against the cabin.
So Dad and Mama decided to fix it up and move in. We didn't know who owned it.
Dad said we would just take possession of it and find the owner later and that is what we
did. Dad finally found out the the owner lived in St. Joseph, Missouri, but he never did
come to see us. As I said before it was in a mess.
There wasn't but one window and it was broken out. There was no ceiling and part
of the floor was gone. The chinking had all fallen out. It had a clapboard roof which did
turn away rain but a blowing snow would sift under it. But as I've said before, my mother
was a genius when it came to doing things that nobody else would think of doing, like
fixing up old houses. And as the war was on, money was as scarce as hens teeth, as the
old timers would say.
So we had to make do with whatever we had on hand at the time. My mother
stretched a white flour sack over the window. She sewed old sheets and blankets
together and stretched them real tight and tacked them up for a ceiling. We mixed mud up
for mortar and daubed all the cracks in the wall, inside and out. Then we took newspapers
and tacked them all over the wall inside. And would you believe it, we had a house, clean
and warm enough for a king to live in. Well, we thought so anyway.
We put two beds end to end on one side. Then at the end of the cabin was the
heating stove and the kitchen cabinet. The cook stove had to fit "catty-cornered" in the
corner. A wash stand was squeezed in between the cook stove and the door which was
facing the south. Then there was Mom's sewing machine right behind the door and the
dresser sitting "catty-cornered" in the south east corner. There was the trunk under the
window. Then there was the old "bureau" or chest of The dining table set in the middle of
the floor. So you see we were very badly crowded. As the old fellow said, "we didn't have
room enough to cuss the cat."
There wasn't any room for the boys bed but Mama had a plan. As she had plenty of
feather beds and pillows made of goose feathers and straw matresses and the dining
table was a big long one, she just cleared everything off the table when bed time came
and made the boys bed on the table. Of course they had to get up early the next morning,
but they did anyway as Dad got up at five o'clock every morning rain or shine. In the winter
time he would get up and build a fire in the heating stove and get the house good and
warm before he rousted everyone out of bed. 'lost of the time he and the boys would do
their chores before breakfast. Getting breakfast was a big job in those days and it took us
about an hour to get it ready. We had to make a big pan of biscuits from scratch make a
big bowl of milk gravy, slice salt pork to fry, and sometimes a bowl of fried potatoes. Then
someone had to go to the spring house for the milk and butter. Then there was a big
pitcher of sorghum molasses and sometime Mama would make a pitcher of sugar syrup
when she had the sugar to spare. Mama almost always had lots of jelly and jams, and lots
of canned or dried fruit. She never did fry many eggs except when we had company, for
she had to sell them to buy other things.
We all had our lobs to do. Mine was to help Mother get the breakfast. Corine's job
was to help Raymond feed and milk the cows. fly brother Ralph was only eight years old
but he had to help too. Mostly his job was to carry in the wood. After breakfast I had to
wash the dishes and clean the house up while Corine and Raymond were milking. Mama
almost always took care of the milk and got the cream ready for one of us to churn. That
could be anybody's job that wasn't doing anything else at the time. That was a job that
nobody liked. Mostly it was my job, but sometimes I could talk Corine into churning. Most
of the time Mama would take care of the fowls and the eggs in the winter time, but come
summer, Corine and I both helped.
If there was any field work of any kind we all had to help with that. I got the noon
meal and supper too. We both did the dishes, but Corine always helped with the milking
while I got supper. Mama would help us sometimes if she got the eggs in and the chickens
fed and the baby ones put to bed.
We were old enough now to do the laundry by ourselves. I did most of the washing
by myself on the old wash board. The other kids would carry the wood and water in and
keep the fire going. We would heat the water on the wood cook stove in two iron wash
kettles though we would heat our water outside in the summer time. Corine was to keep
the fire going. The boys only helped when they didn't have anything else to do.
One day Mama was helping Dad and the boys out in the field and left Corine and I
to do the washing by ourselves. We almost always had a big washing. It took us until two
or three o'clock in the afternoon to get it done and we would always get started by eight
o’clock in the morning. The boys couldn't help us that morning, so it was left up to us to do
it all. We made a deal that she was to get the water and keep the fire going and I was to do
all the washing. That included washing and rinsing them all through two waters, boiling
the white things and also starching everything that need starching, and hanging them on
the line. But I ended up getting part of the water and keeping the fire going too.
After Mama left Corine wouldn't do anything but sit on a chair and play with our little
puppy that we called Benny. The boys had named him after my boyfriend but I never
really went with him. He walked me home a few times and the boys just liked to tease me
about him, though I did think he was really good looking and did secretly like him. I even
named my doll Benny.
Oh! I had better get back to my washing. I had to help her carry the first round of
water, which I wasn't supposed to do. When I needed more water or the fire needed some
more wood, I had to tell her to do it. If she didn't want to do it she would just sit there and
tell me to do it myself for that was what they had got me for. I was needing the second
round of water real bad, but she refused to go and that's when I got mad. I picked up a wet
towel and whipped her with it. She grabbed the buckets and started after the water all
right but she didn't even get out of the yard. She came running back, screaming that she
saw a ghost on the fence and she was afraid to go. So I got the buckets and went myself.
What she had seen was our neighbors big old white cat walking on the rail fence that was
between our house and the spring. She would have got in trouble if I had told on her but
she knew I wouldn't tell.
We both had to do the ironing. We starched almost everything, which made ironing
very hard to do. Our mother saw to it that we had everything ironed smooth. Not a wrinkle
could be seen or we would have to do it over. And we had to fold everything and put it in
its proper place, or hang them exactly where they were supposed to hang. So doing the
ironing was another long hard day. We had to use the dining table for an ironing board. I
used one end of the table and Corine used the other end. As it was a very long table there
was quite a space between us. Pauline would sit in the middle and play with her dolls or
her old cat, Topsey. We had to heat our irons on the wood cook stove and we had to have
a very hot fire to keep our irons really hot if we wanted to do a good job. We had two irons
apiece. When one got cold, the other one would be hot, so we always had one ready
when we needed it.
Dad had to build a barn and shelters for the horses, cows and pigs, also some
coops for some of the chickens. But some of them just roosted up in the trees. We had
only kept two or three old geese and an old gander and that old gander was the meanest
old goose in the whole country. He would chase us kids, the chickens, cats and dog, even
the pigs and horses. He would fly up on the old mares' back and hold onto their mane and
whip and whip them with his wings. It would scare the old mares and they would run all
over the barn lot until someone would make him get off. My mother got so mad at him that
she had him for Christmas dinner that year.
That was 1918 and the war with Germany was bad. Later it was called World War
I. Our 1918 Christmas was not much different than our 1917 Christmas. Just about the
only difference was the flu. The "influency" was what they called it then. Anyway,
whatever it was called, it had run its course and nearly everyone was feeling fine.
Our Christmas dinner was roast goose with dressing and sorghum molasses cake
and cookies. Mama had saved back enough flour to make the cake and cookies and
pumpkin pie too. Flour and sugar were rationed so when Mama got any flour or sugar she
always saved it for special occasions. We picked out black walnut kernels for the cake
and for our molasses candy too and we thought they were delicious.
We knew Santa wasn't coming to our house again this Christmas, as our mother
had explained it all to us more than once. Anyway, Dad saddled up old Maud and took off
to Linn Creek on Christmas Eve day to get a few things that Mama needed in the grocery
line and to get Pauline a new pair of shoes. He also got her a china doll head. Mama was
going to make a body for it and some new clothes. So wher we got up Christmas morning
there was her new shoes and doll head setting on the dresser. But we didn't fool her. She
thought maybe Santa had brought the doll, but not the shoes. She just knew Dad had
That had been a good crop year. There was an abundance of corn, kafer corn and
cow peas, which made the cows give a lot more milki And don't leave off the sorghum
cane. It wouldn't have been Dad ii he didn't have that cane patch. We all had worked hard
that summer We had all kinds of vegetables stored away, either canned, dried Oi buried,
as we didn't have a cellar at this place.
This had been a good year for fruit and berries too. One of Mama's cousins who
lived a few miles across the hills had oodles of Alberta peaches and she let us have
several bushels for a small fee. We kids got up early and got to the berry patch,
sometimes by sun-up. It was over a mile to the blackberry patch over on Little Kintch-Low
which was a tie landing on the Osage River. The berry patch was close by, on Brother
Betts' place. He was the minister who had started the Rock Dale Church back in 1914. He
had lived ii this little log cabin right on the river bank. He had passed away about the time
we came to Camp Branch and we had never met him. N' one had ever taken his place
over so the blackberry vines had grow up all over the place, even up around the little log
cabin. So a long as the berries were good picking you would see the Lee kids skipping,
hopping, and running along the path that led up and aroun the hill and across the field to
the berry patch. We would each take a water bucket and a gallon syrup bucket and fill
them up and get back by noon.
Most of the time when we got there we had company. The Garrison children would
be there picking too. We had lots of fun picking berries together. We would help each
other fill our buckets and would all start home at the same time. There were lots of wild
strawberries, they came first, then the huckleberries came next and then the blackberries
about the middle of July. The wild grapes got ripe the last of August and the first of
As soon as the crops were in and all laid by, Dad and the boys went to work and got
logs ready to build a new house. Dad and Mama made clapboards for the roof. They used
the very best of white oak Umber, cut just the right length. Then they used a blunt edge
steel blade with a short wooden handle, (they called it a frow), and split the boards out just
as thin as they wanted them. Then they used rough oak boards for the floor and we had
real windows. When they got everything ready Dad had a house raising. All the neighbors
came and helped build it. The mothers and all the kids came too. The women folks
cooked the meal while the men folks worked on the house and the kids all had a good
time playing in between carrying wood and water for cooking the meals. They got most of
the house built in one day.
They left a space between our little cabin and the new house wide enough for a
good sized porch. Dad put a roof over it and a floor in it. lt was open at both ends. Some
folks called it a dog trot. We planted morning glories and gourds and wild hops at each
end and let them vine up all over the ends and also on the corners of the house. The vines
made a very good shade, as the sun did get pretty hot during the summer.
We papered the walls with newspapers. of course, we chinked in between the logs
with pieces of scrap lumber and dobbed it with mud. That really made it warm. We used
the little log cabin for our kitchen. Our mom made flower beds all around the yard and the
house and we planted zinnias, marigolds, bachelor buttons and touch-me-nots in them.
We thought it was the prettiest place in the whole neighborhood.
Our cows and hogs run out on the open range and would stray a long ways from
home. Most of the time the boys would have to hunt them up and drive them home every
night to milk them. Many times when my mother didn't need me to help her she would let
me take Pauline and go with them to bring the cows in. Though we would have to carry
her most of the way we would take her anyway. We would hunt for mushrooms, wild
greens, black haws, persimmons, wild onions, or what ever was in season. We would
always bring home a big bouquet of wild flowers
One time while the boys were rounding up the cows Pauline and I were exploring
an old bald hill. We were two or three miles from home, over on Little Kintchlo. It seemed
like that was where our cows liked to roam the most. But anyway, we were wandering
around among the rocks on this old bald hill, picking some beautiful red flowers called
Indian paint brush and wild pansies, violets and sweet Williams which were blooming all
over the place. When I looked up I spied this pink dogwood bush some distance away so
we hurried over so we’d over to get a good look. It was a very beautiful little tree and just
loaded with bright pink flowers. So what did we do: We just about broke most of its
branches off and took them home with us. That was the first pink Dogwood we had ever
seen. Corine would never go with us on our long hikes. We all accused her of being lazy,
which wasn't too far from being right. We were all growing older now, dropping off some of
our childish games1 though we still played with our paper dolls now and then, like on rainy
days when we could not go outside. Like I said before, Mom and Dad didn't let us stay idle
very long at a time. They could always find more jobs for us than we wanted to do. Well,
anyway, Pauline had to play by herself quite a lot now. But she never seemed bored or
fussy because she had to play by herself. She was always playing house and she was the
mother. Old Topsy was still in the family and Pauline would dress her up in her doll clothes
and play like she was her baby. Old Topsy liked that. One time she had one little baby
kitten1 which only lived three weeks. It was sick and old Topsy was trying to take care of it.
She found the dresser drawer open, so she put her baby in the drawer. She thought she
had it hid. She sat close by and guarded it. When we found it and took it out she seemed
to be begging us to let it alone. Pauline cried and she got a little box for the casket, then
wrapped it in a white cloth. Ralph dug a hole and they buried it in the back yard. They put
a stone at the head for a marker and Pauline put flowers on the little grave every day.
Pauline was always playing with almost anything she could find or happened to
have at hand, for her babies. She could come up with the oddest things for her children,
such as sticks of stove wood. She would stand two or three up on chairs or the floor or just
about anywhere she happened to be playing. As I remember one time she was playing
out in the yard. She had two sticks of wood setting up and she was talking to them. She
called them Sawdust and Soapsuds. She was scolding them, telling them to sit up and
mind her. It was really amusing to sit back and watch her play when she didn't know you
were watching her.
I loved to read and I would read everything I could find. I was always bringing
library books home with me from school. On rainy days and before bed time every night, I
would read to all the kids and sometimes to Mom and Dad. They all liked to listen to me
read. We kids would all go upstairs about an hour or two before bed time. I would sit on
the floor and they would all gather around me and I would read until time for bed or until
Dad would shout up the stairs "Bed time!", which was around nine thirty or ten p.m.
Then on November 11, 1918, the Armistice was signed. The awful war was over
and the boys were coming home. That was a time for rejoicing for our whole nation. And,
of course, it was a sad time for some because their boys did not make it back home. The
flu epidemic had run its course. It too, had taken its toll of loved ones and friends all over
America, the same as the war had.
It was about this time that we saw our first real airplane. lt flew over our house. The
boys had started to drive in the cows and had just got out of sight of the house when they
heard it. They came running back to tell us but we had heard it too and were all out in the
yard watching it. It was flying real low and we got a real good view of it. Boy1 oh boy, were
we excited! We had something to talk about for a long time
And then, the most exciting thing I can think of was the first time I ever rode in an
automobile that summer. It was the first Model T that came out. It was all black and shiny.
It looked like it had just came out of the factory. We girls thought it was a real beaut,
though we didn't like the one that was driving it. We were all very sure that he wasn't good
looking. But none of that bothered us when he stopped and asked us to ride with him. We
were all surprised and we weren't about to miss the thrill of our lives, so in we got. Charley
Tombs was his name. He was from the Purvis community. He had been to Linn Creek and
was on his way home. He really took us for a ride. He took us almost to Purvis, then
turned around and brought us back to where he had picked us up. Well, from then on he
wasn't such a bad looking boy after all. We all fell for him, or maybe it was his black shiny
Model T we all liked. But the thing was1 he never did ask any of us to ride with him any
He did marry one of our girls from the church though, a few years later. Her name
was Maudie Cole. She was a neice of Bert Cole, the old bachelor that we all thought a lot
of. He was one of the many who did not survive the awful flu epidemic. He was a good
neighbor and was missed by everyone. He was always visiting the sick and helping them
if he was needed. One time he came to see me when I was sick and had a boil on my little
toe. fly foot and leg were swelled so badly that I could not walk for two weeks. Mother had
been doctoring my toe with everything she could think of but nothing seemed to help. Bert
told her to get some slippery elm bark and soak it in water and make a poultice and put
that on my toe~ which she did. Sure enough, it came to a head and broke that night and
stopped hurting. I fell asleep and did not wake up until noon the next day. That was the
first good sleep I had for several nights. my mother had not slept much either, for she had
to be up with me at all times of the night.
There was another time that I remember well. I was seventeen years old. I had a
stone bruise on the bottom of my foot and I thought that surely I would die, it hurt so bad.
I would sit up in the middle of the bed, rubbing my foot and crying. All the kids would laugh
at me and call my crybaby. The boys got stone bruises on their feet every once in a while
and they just kept going. It didn't seem to hurt them as bad as it did me, or maybe I was a
"tender foot." They thought I was, anyway.
Then, of all things, in July of that same summer, the hottest time of the season, I
came down with tonsillitis. I was real sick with a high fever, my throat was so sore I could
not swallow1 and1 of course, I was complaining and crying. Mother told me to get up and
gargle with some of Raymond's medicine, for he had just got over a seige of tonsillitis. He
had been so bad that he did not eat or drink anything for four days. Mom and Dad had
taken him to Linn Creek to the doctor. He couldn't even talk, he was so bad. And my
mother was not able to wait on me either, for she had a big old boil, or "carbunkle' as
some folks called it. It was on the side of her knee. Her leg was so badly swollen that she
could hardly walk. So she was sitting on a pallet on the floor. Pauline was recuperating
from an appendicitis attack and was laying with her head in Mama's lap.
Well, here I was, bawling like a calf. That’s how Raymond put it anyway. You could
always leave it up to him to fix things for you1 one way or another. So there wasn't a thing
for me to do but to quit feeling sorry for myself and get up and gargle with some of
Raymond's medicine. But, sorry to say, I did not make it. As soon as I put my feet on the
floor everything went black. When I came to I had my head in my mothers lap and she
was washing my face with some cold water. Corine had grabbed the water bucket and
had run all the way to the spring to get some fresh water. As it happened I didn't fall on
Mom's sore knee. She said that if I had1 she expected she would have slapped me and I
would have come to, real quick like. That was the first time in my life that I had ever
fainted, as I had never been very sick in my whole life.
September came and school started. We had farther to go now and we still had to
carry Pauline most of the way. The Arnold's bought the Ross Parrish place and, as I have
stated before, we had to pass their house on our way to school So we all walked to school
together. The Parrish children weren't going to the Hibdon school anymore.
There were four of the Arnolds. Hubert was the oldest and my age, also my "feller'.
He would carry my books for me, especially when I had to carry Pauline. Orville was the
next one. He was Raymond's age and they were very close friends. They ran around
together a lot. Whatever one did, the other one was there to help share in the fun, like the
time they both walked Effie flay home. She was a very dear friend of ours and also a
distant cousin. She wanted Raymond to go but he wouldn't go unless she let Orville go
too. They didn't argue with her. They just went anyway, one on one side of her and the
other one on the other side.
Those two boys would do anything for fun. They even rode an old jenny to church
on Sunday morning. They had quite a time with her, she was very stubborn and every
once in a while she would take a notion not to go any further. They would get off and coax
and coax and when she did make up her mind to move on, they would climb back on
again. She would stop again and for all the coaxing they did she would not budge an inch.
Sometimes they would end up leading her in. Then when they would hitch her to the hitch
rail and come into church, their old jenny would just stand out there braying until church
The Arnolds had a big herd of cattle and angora goats too, also some pea fowls. The
Arnolds were fine neighbors. Every so often they would let the boys of the whole
community gather at their house on a Sunday afternoon and have a rodeo. They rode
everything on the place, including the goats. Sometimes they would end up riding the old
jenny, if they could get her to go. That was pretty hard to do, if she didn't want to. They
would get thrown off every once in a while and get bruised up but no one ever got hurt
very badly. They would just get up and try it again. One time my brother Raymond was
thrown head first into the fence and got his face skinned up and his arm and shoulders
bruised pretty bad. He also got his shirt torn off him, but that didn’t stop him from trying
There was a time that Corine and Pauline started off to school one morning by
theirselves as the rest of us had to stay home and work. Our mother had told Pauline she
would have to walk all the way, as Corine was carrying her books and lunch pail. They
had started a little early so they would have plenty of time to get there and not be tardy.
They had not much more that got out of sight of the house when Mother just happened to
be coming in behind them. She found them fighting. Pauline was trying to make Corine
carry her. She was kicking Corine on the shins. She was so busy she did not see Mother
coming up behind her with a little keen switch. Mother spoke to her, switching her little
legs. Well, it sure did help for she walked all the way to school that morning and back that
evening. We all didn't like to see Pauline get a whipping or even scolded for that matter.
Most of the time I had to have a little cry.
The reason Mother was walking down the road that early was that she had heard
the cow bells. They seemed to be just about to the edge of the field. So she decided to
help the boys out as they were busy doing something else at the time. She thought they
were leaving without being milked and that could not happen1 for we needed the milk and
the little calves needed their breakfast too. It seemed like Mother was always there when
she was needed. No matter how, when, or where, she was there. And that was good in
I remember the time that our old dog Joe came to my rescue. It was one morning
when Mother wasn1t at home and the boys were in their wildest mood. Corine and I were
in the kitchen washing up the breakfast dishes and preparing the noon meal. It was a cool
fall day and we had the door closed. The boys had been playing pranks on us all morning
by knocking on the door to make us think someone was there1 but when we opened the
door they would run. But this time it was real. I had got sort of riled by this time so I told
them to come in if their nose was clean. The door flew open and Hugh Scott, an old man
who was a good friend of Dad's, stepped in and grabbed me, for I was close by. He said
that he would just take me home with him for saying that. But he soon regretted grabbing
me, as old Joe was laying on the porch very close to the kitchen door and grabbed Mr.
Scott by the leg of his pants. Old Joe wasn't about to let that old man get me.
There was another time that old Joe thought that we needed help. This happened
before our good friend Bert Cole passed away. Dad and Mama had gone to Eldon. They
had taken Pauline with them and they had left real early that morning. It would be late
when they got back. We didn't have much to do except our chores. It was in the fall and
the hazel nuts were just right to pick. There were lots of them right in sight of our house.
So we played games and picked hazel nuts until we got tired. We took our hazel nuts,
which was a gunny sack full to our Indian wigwam which we had made. It was big enough
for us to sit around in Indian style on the ground and hull our hazel nuts. We had brought
our lunch out and ate it in our wigwam too
It had started to rain and we didn't want to pick any more hazel nuts, anyway, so we
just played hull gull with the ones we had hulled. Old Joe was laying in the door when all of
a sudden he jumped up with his bristles raised and growled very viciously and started
creeping up on something. We were all scared stiff and were afraid to even move until
someone from behind our wigwam began to call for us to call our dog off. It was Bert Cole.
Well, you can guess how relieved we were. We all went filing out the door one by one. Old
Joe sure had him cornered and he couldn't even move until we called him off. Bert said
that was the last time he would ever try to scare us. if he did he would make sure that old
Joe wasn't around. He thought our wigwam was wonderful and even came inside and sat
on the ground and played hull gull with us.
Time rolled by and the years slipped by. The Lee children were growing up, along
with the rest of the kids in our neighborhood and elsewhere. The time had come that Mom
and Dad would let us go visit Grandpa and Grandma Hibdon up on Soap Creek by
ourselves, riding horseback. of course, there were some restrictions. We shouldn't ride
the horse too hard. We were supposed to take care of them, to see that they were fed and
watered good and, most of all, we were supposed to start home in time to get home
before dark. We usually went on Friday and came back on Sunday. Sometimes we would
plan a week or two ahead of time. Dad would tell us that if we worked good that week we
could go. So we would dig right in and work real hard. Raymond would ride old Maud and
Ralph and I old Daisy. Old Daisy didn't like Ralph. Sometimes when he tried to get on her
she would reach around and pull him off. Corine would ride old Linn. She had claimed him
when he was a little colt and she wouldn't let anyone else ride him. In later years
Raymond bought a horse of his own.
Anyway, we had lots of fun going to Grandpa's, and Uncle George's too, for he
lived across Soap Creek and over the next hill. Uncle George and Aunt Ema had seven
children at home then. We would stay one night with Grandpa and one night with Uncle
George's family. It was fifteen or twenty miles up there. We almost always took a short cut
through the country, which was rough country roads up and down hills, though there were
two or three places where the road was pretty smooth for a half a mile or so. That’s where
we would race to see who would get to a certain point or who could get to the Camden
and Morgan county line. of course Ralph and I never won a race very often, for old Daisy
wasn't much of a race horse. There was one time I remember very well. We had got
almost to our halfway mark when Ralph lost his hat. We had to drop out of the race to go
back to find his hat. Oh well, we wouldn't have won anyway. But we did have lots of fun on
our trips to Grandpa's house. There were also times we got to go to visit our Uncle Jur and
Aunt Vina Kennedy. Their children were all married except three and they were about our
age. Uncle Jim was our favorite uncle. He was lots of fun to be with and was always telling
us funny stories.
Then in the fall of 1919 my Grandpa got sick. My mother wouldn’t go and stay with
him and help Grandma take care of him. Sometimes she would stay a whole week,
especially the times when he was real bad. There was one time she came home early one
morning with the intentions of staying home a few days to rest, for she had sat ur all night
and she was very tired. It seemed that he wanted her by his side all the time, although
they had lots of help all the time as the neighbors would take turns setting up every night
and helping with the chores. And there was Uncle George's family who helped. Some of
them were there all of the time. It was the custom of the times that friends and neighbors
would help if any one was sick or if anyone passed away in the neighborhood.
As I was saying, Mother came home to rest a few days, but it didn't work out that
way. Her nephew Tom brought her home. It was real early in the morning and he didn't
stay very long. Although Mother tried to get him to stay for breakfast he wouldn't stay. As
soon as he left Mother went to bed and told us not to wake her ur for breakfast 1 to let her
sleep until she got her sleep out. So we got breakfast and did our chores. Then Dad and
Raymond took off across the country to help Arther Aryes, a very good neighbor of ours,
to do some farm work. About the time they got out of sight of the house Tom came rushing
back to get Mama as he had just got home when someone met him at the gate and told
him that Grandpa was worse and was calling for Mother. So they left as soon as she could
Well, that evening Raymond came home without Dad as they did not get their job
done. Dad stayed all night so they could get to work early the next morning. Raymond
didn't have to go back. Well, Mom thought Dad was coming home that evening and Dad
didn't know that Mama had gone back to Grandpa’s. Anyway, that left us kids to be by
ourselves that night. That was the first time we had stayed by ourselves at night and were
we scared! We were afraid of the dark and our shadows too. So we did our chores real
early, ate our supper, and did our dishes before it got dark.
Then we went into the living room, closed the doors and locked them and pulled the
shades on the windows. We played games until we got tired of them, then I got out the
story books while they all gathered around me and I read to them until about eleven
o'clock. Everyone was getting tired and sleepy. So we decided to go to bed. Also we
decided we would all sleep downstairs. We girls would sleep in Mom and Dad's bed. We
would bring a feather bed and some quilts and pillows down to make the boys bed on the
floor. Corine was going to hold the light up to the top of the stairs so Raymond could see
how to get the bedding and I was to make the bed. But as usual Corine chickened out
because she was so afraid of the dark, so we traded jobs. She would make the bed if I
would hold the light. Then she decided not to make the bed. She said she was tired and
sleepy. She was going on to bed and we could just make the bed by ourselves if we
wanted it made. Raymond and I both tried to talk to her but she wouldn't listen. Then I got
mad and whipped her with a pillow, but I might as well have saved my strenght and breath
too, for she won that battle and I had to make the bed after all. We finally got bedded down
for the rest of the night without any further trouble.
We stayed in bed until the sun was peeping up the next morning before we got up.
We sure were glad when Dad got home that evening. He was a little late getting home and
we were getting just a little worried that he might not come. Was he surprised to find
Mama had gone back to Grandpa's so soon! He thought she was going to be home for a
few days and she thought that Dad would be home that night. After that we stayed home
by ourselves several times, like the time Dad and Mama went to Eldon to visit Aunt
Jerusha. They were gone five days and they took Pauline with them. Dad gave us much
work to do while they were gone besides our regular chores.
One job was to break the ears of corn off the stalks, which was in the shock in the
field. We were to leave the corn in a pile near the shock and cover it with the fodder until
he came home. Then we could haul it to the barn and put it in the corn crib. Dad always
racked the fodder in rows near the barn so it would be easy to get to during the winter
months. We were our own boss, so we didn't get to the field very early as it was pretty
frosty and a little nippie real early in the morning. We played around a lot and left some of
our work undone until the last day. We knew we had better get busy so we got up early
that morning, got our chores done and were in the field by sun-up. It was pretty chilly and
a big frost was on but we dove right in like nobody's business and worked like little toe
heads, as the old saying goes. We never did get Corine to do much though. She would
only sit and cry and say her hands were cold. we would divide the shock up between us,
only Raymond just gave Corine about six stalks and still we ended up doing hers so we
could move on to the next shock. Well, we got done long before Dad and Mama got home.
We sure were proud of ourselves.
That was 1919 and that winter our grandpa kept getting worse. Then on May
20,1920, he passed away. We sure did miss him. He was good to all of us and we all
loved him very dearly. He was 84 years old. Then Mama came home to stay.
Dad had cleared some new ground that winter. of course we kids helped him some
but we didn't miss much school that winter. That was flay, 1920, and locust year. Dad had
us kids planting corn ir the new ground he had just cleared and we kept finding locust hulls
on every weed and grass blade. They seemed to be coming up out of the ground and we
didn't know what they were. We were calling then jar flys and we couldn't understand why
there were so many. We didn't only find the old hulls with a split in the back but there were
hundreds and hundreds of the young locusts crawling all over the place and crawling up
on the trees and bushes. Their wings were not big enough for them to fly.
Dad came by and we had him look at them. He knew what they were as soon as he
saw them. Then in a few days they began to holler “Pharaoh”. There were so many of
them and they hollered so loud you couldn't hear yourself think, as the old saying goes.
But they didn't last but two or three weeks and they were gone, leaving their sign on
every tree limb in the country where they split the bark and laid their eggs. They were
supposed to hatch and fall to the ground, where they would go into the earth and lay
dormant for fourteen years, then come up again. Well, it is true. Every fourteen years the
locusts make their appearance in the month of May or early June.
That faIl, November, 1920, we gave up our home in Pin Hook Hollow and moved up
on Soap Creek to Grandpa's place. His children had agreed to have a sale and sell all of
his things, including his farm which was over a hundred acres, to settle up his estate. So
my mother bought all the other heirs out and put it with her share. Well, here we were,
moving again, into the house where my mother had lived since she was four years old.
It was a beautiful place. The house set on a knoll facing the south with a meadow
sloping down to the edge of Soap Creek. Then just a few hundred feet across Soap Creek
was a high cliff of rock which extended almost the whole length of the farm. The soil was
very rich along here, between the cliff and the creek.
In the spring we would find plenty of spice wood for tea, which was very good. This
was a small bush about four or five feet tall with a very good aroma. You could smell it
long before you found the bush. You just broke off the small branches, and then broke
them into two or three inch pieces and boiled them to make a very delicious tea. It grew
close to the cliffs on Soap Creek. And that wasn't all that made good tea. There was
sassafras, which was very delicious, and you made it from the roots. But you only drank it
in February and March. It was to thin your blood, to start off the spring with. You had to dig
the roots late in the fall after the sap goes down and store them for the winter, because the
ground was almost always froze too hard in February.
And there was lots of wild herbs to make your own medicine. Nearly every
household in the neighborhood used their own home remedies to doctor their families, for
doctors were hard to get in those days. There was lots of wild ginger growing all over the
hillsides, the Indian name for it was blood root. There was golden seal (or yellow root),
ginseng, mullen weed, sarsaparilla, wahwoo, har-hound, jerusalem opium, catnip, and
many others. Also there was the barks of trees that was good to make cough syrup for
colds. There was the wild cherry bark, linn bark, elm, shelly bark, hickory, and others.
When brewed together and sweetened with honey, "now this would cure any cold," so the
old folks thought. Oh! There was penny-royal. It was good for running your fever down if it
was made into a tea. It was also good for seed ticks.
To the west and north were timber trees of all kinds, white oak, black oak, hickory,
black walnut and elm. To the east were fields and meadows gently sloping down to
Walker Branch, which emptied into Soap Creek. There was a road going around the foot
of the hill on the east, crossing Walker Branch then turning north, going through Walker
field. It went on by a big cliff of rocks which seemed to just pop up out of the hill and this
big spring of cool water flowed from under the cliff. I think it was the best water in the
whole wide world.
Well, that was the cave spring to every one around in that par of the country. On the
west of Walker Branch was the hazel nut patch. The road went on across Walker field to
the county road and this was the spot where you could see the headless horseman at
dusk galloping up and down the road. That was the story old timers told but we never did
The house was a two story frame house with four rooms downstairs and one very
large room upstairs and a large front porch with drilled well and a pump on it. So for once
we didn't have to carry our water from a spring. But when my mother was a little girl the
carried their water from the cave spring, a quarter of a mile around the hill and across
Walker field. There was a large room joining the kitchen which Grandpa used for a smoke
house but Mom and Dad remodeled it into a kitchen and dining room. There was an old
fashioned fireplace with large flat stones for the hearth. There was a big garden west of
the house and a big fenced-in yard wit lots of shade trees and flowers, for our Grandma
was a lover C flowers. There was a big barn, hog house, a sheep shed and a chicks
And did we ever have fun! We swam and fished up and down Soa Creek as it ran
right through the middle of the farm. We ala skated in the winter time when our swimming
holes froze over with ice.
There was lots of work to do come spring. There was lots of ha to be put up so we
went to the hay field. That was the first tin we had worked in the hay. Dad mowed it down
and raked it up in what he called wind rows and we kids took our pitch forks and stacked
I in small stacks all over the field. Then early the next morning while the dew was on, we
tied a rope around it down close to tt ground. Then we hitched one of the old mares to it
and pulled it t the main big stack where Dad, Mom, or Raymond would stack it on tt big
stack. When it was finished the big stack would be twenty4 iv or thirty feet around and ten
or twelve feet high. The reason had to pull the little stacks to the big stack while the dew
was C was because they would slide better on the wet hay stubble and nc fall apart.
Well, I think I am getting the cart before the horse here, a the old timers would say.
First of all Dad and Mom would put tk hay frame on the wagon and we would drive by
each little stack of hay and put it on the wagon, piling it so high we had a hard tin climbing
up on it. Sometimes Dad would just walk and guide the horses by the lines. Sometimes he
would let us kids climb up on top and ride to the barn. Then we would put it in the hay loft
until was full. Then he would stack what he couldn't get in the hay lol in these tall stacks in
the field. These were for the stock to feed on in the winter, especially when there was a
big snow. If there was more than he needed he would sell it to someone who needed it.
We planted lots of corn that summer and Dad planted cow peas with the corn. He
said the cow peas would help enrich the soil. We planted pumpkins, squashes and corn
field beans too, and there was the sorghum patch. So you see we had lots of work to do
come fall, for we did raise a bumper crop of everything that year.
We hauled in wagon loads of pumpkins and squashes. There were so many we fed
them to the cows, for we couldn't use them all for ourselves. We hulled bushes of beans
and cow peas and stored them for the winter. And as usual, we dried and canned lots of
fruit and vegetables for the winter too. The way we dried our pumpkin was to wait until it
was cold enough to have a fire in the heating stove. Then we would take a big round
pumpkin and cut a hole in the top and clean the insides, including the seed, out by using a
big spoon. Then we cut strips about an inch wide around the pumpkin, making rings, and
being careful not to cut the rings in two. Then we would peel the outside peeling or "hull"
off and hang them over small poles that were an inch around and about four or five feet
long. We would put as many rings as we could on one pole and then fill another one until
we would have ten or twelve poles full. Then we would place the poles on a frame which
was also made of small poles and was six or seven feet high. We put them upstairs real
close to the chimney and the heat from the stove dried the pumpkin. Dried pumpkin pie
There were lots of hazel nuts, shelly bark hickory nuts, black walnuts and white
walnuts, which were known as buffer nuts. And there was chinky pen, which grew on
small oak-like trees. We had to roast them1 like chestnuts. But they were very good. Dad
bought sheep that year as there was plenty of room for them. So that made us an extra
job, caring for the little lambs and shearing the old sheep, which we didn't like. Also we
had mutton on our diet list and I, for one, didn't like mutton.
We had to walk three miles to school to Gravois Mills. We took a short cut through
the woods. l didn't go as I had already finished the eighth grade and Dad and Mom said
they couldn't afford to let me go to high school. Raymond didn’t like the Gravois Mills
school, so he only went one term there. Pauline was walking all the way now by herself.
as the other kids would not carry her like Raymond and I did. She seemed to be
outgrowing her sickness, for she was not sick so much now.
Our mother got sick that winter though, and she was sick all winter. We had to do all
the work ourselves, as Mother was in bed most of the time. She told Corine and I we could
play Santa Claus that Christmas. We really thought that was fun as we always had a big
flock of chickens to lay eggs and selling them was part of our living. We were milking
several cows that winter and making more butter than we could use. Our mother told
Corine and l we could have all the extra buffer and egg money to buy Christmas presents.
We worked very hard to save all the money we could. I gathered in the eggs and crated
them and churned the buffer and molded it into one pound molds. As it would not keep
very long Corine would take it to the little country store at Gravois Mills and sell it for cash.
That was my part of the money On her way to school she would leave the buffer at the
store and on her way home she would stop by and pick up the money. The egg money
was Corine's part of the money. Then on Saturday Dad would hitch up the old mares to
the wagon and we would take off to the old country store with our produce and exchange
it for a week's sup ply of groceries.
We would take turns going with Dad to the store and each time vie would buy
something with our money until we had a gift for everyone. We had bought a lot of
Christmas candy and we hid it up in the attic over the kitchen. There was a loose board in
the ceiling and we had moved it over and put our candy through this hole, then put the
board back in its place. We didn't think anyone knew where we had it hid. But, would you
know it, I came into the kitchen one day and found our Mom sifting right on top of the
dining table eating candy! She knew all the time that we had it hid in the attic. She had to
get up on the table to reach the attic. Mom and I had a big laugh about it and I had to help
her get off the table. She was pretty dizzy and couldn't get down by herself. She said she
was just waiting for me to come in and find her.
One day Corine went with Dad to the store and Dad got Mother a real pretty fruit
bowl and he hid it up in the hay loft so she wouldn 1t know what he had got her. He told
Corine not to tell her. So Mom just knew Dad had got her something and she tried to get
Corine to tell her but Corine wouldn1t. But that was a dead giveaway that Dad had got her
something and had it hid at the barn. When Mom couldn't get Corine to talk about it she
tried another angle. She played on her sympathy. She told Corine "what if she would die,"
then she would be sorry she had not told her. So Corine led her to the barn to see if they
could find the bowl. She even helped her to get up in the hay loft but they did not find it.
Then by the time they got ready to come back to the house Corine wished she hadn't
helped her to get up in the loft, for Mother was getting pretty tired and dizzy. They had
quite a time getting down out of the hay loft and back to the house.
We had remodeled the summer kitchen and made it warm and cozy and were
using it permanently now. That was a good Christmas that year of 1920, one we never did
forget. We didn't have a tree. Corine and I were just going to give everyone their presents
on Christmas morning. But our mother decided we would just surprise Pauline, as she
was the only one that didn't know there wasn't a real Santa Claus. "So we thought." So
we got up early that Christmas morning, slipping out of bed very carefully. We didn't want
to wake Pauline, but that was kind of hard to do as I slept between her and Corine.
Pauline always slept on the front side, and she almost always got up when we did. But this
morning she played opossum on us. We thought we had got up and got our box of
presents downstairs without her knowing it. But we were very wrong. She had heard
everything and even peeked from under the covers to see what we were doing~ so she
told us later. She had even found our box of presents and looked into it.
Mama had told us to put our box of presents just outside the front door and let
Pauline be the first to find it. Then 1 got breakfast and put it on the table. We were all
ready to eat but Pauline wasn't up yet so Corine had to go get her. She came down and
we all ate our breakfast. We were all just waiting for her to go out that door but she never
did. She just sauntered around and let on like she didn't know anything was going on. So
Raymond went out and made a big to-do about it. He got this old cart that he and Ralph
had made out of cultivator wheels and went running around the house and out across the
yard, hollering for Santa to bring that box back and put it down. Then he came in the
house with it, saying hi made Santa put it down, for he was taking it back with him for hi
didn't think we wanted it. But Pauline wasn't excited the leas little bit. She knew all the
time that Raymond was just trying t pull one on her. But we had a real nice Christmas
anyway. We al had a hand in fixing the Christmas dinner with our mom coming in an'
telling us what to do every now and then. We had chicken an dumplings and pumpkin pie.
Spring arrived rather late that year. Well, it did warm u early and everything began to
grow. The fruit trees all were in full bloom and we had our garden out and it was growing
real good and was looking so pretty. Dad was getting ready to plant corn on April 20,
which happened to be Easter Sunday that year. of course Dad never worked on Sunday
so he would have had to wait until Monday. But the weather man, as he is called today,
settled the whole deal in one night. The south wind was blowing softly and I was nice and
warm. We thought it was really going to be a beautiful Easter Sunday. But how wrong we
were, and surprised and disappointed too. For it had turned cold in the night sometime.
The wind got in the northeast, just right for it to snow, and snow it did ten inches of it. But
I must say1 it sure was beautiful. Our peach trees were in full bloom and the little pink
petals were pretty peeking out through the snow. We had always known that this kind C
weather could happen, having lived in Missouri all of our lives "the old show me state."
Yep, she's a pretty tricky old bear. Bt as the old fellow says, we wouldn't live any place
But anyway, the boys were the most disappointed ones, for the Baughman boys
were coming to our house for Easter. They were going to take their eggs to the creek and
boil them in an old bucket over a camp fire and then go swimming in the creek. But that
cold not wind and ten inches of snow made them change their minds. Instead they ate
their eggs at the dinner table with the rest of the family and they tried to see who could eat
the most. Raymond and Tom stayed with it the longest and Raymond was the winner, but
he paid for it that afternoon. He got sick when they decided to go swimming anyway but
found out that the water was lust a little too cold to swim in, especially without any clothes
on. Instead they we sled riding, all except Raymond. He came to the house and went bed.
Well, that was an Easter we never did forget, even until the day. And this is 1985.
Aunt Jerusha and Grandma Hibdon we visiting with us at this time. As an old tradition of
my mother she would gather us all around her and sing songs, sometimes until bed time,
which was around nine or ten o'clock. And these were t times my Grandma loved. In fact
we all loved sitting around the old fire place on cold winter evenings and singing.
I am getting ahead of my story lust a little, for you see I had gone to Eldon in
February to stay with Aunt Jerusha and work at the pants factory, which was a new thing
in our part of the country. All the women and girls could go to work and earn a little money
of their own. Aunt Jerusha had been after my mother for a long time to let me go out there
and stay with her and work. But my mother wouldn't let me go until I was 18. So on
February the fifth I became 'eligible," and she told me I could go, and go I did. I was so
thrilled I could hardly wait to get my suitcase packed and get started. I was afraid Mother
would change her mind. Dad let Raymond take me and we rode old Maud and old Daisy.
Raymond carried my suitcase and we went across country to Gladstone, a little country
village which was about four or five miles over on Big Gravois Creek. There I got on the
mail hack and rode to Eldon. The mail had to get to Eldon by one o'clock, so I had to get
there early. The mail carrier didn't waste any time in Eldon. He got the mail and got back
to Gladstone by four o'clock and sometimes he would have passengers going both ways
Once upon a time Gladstone was called Riffiletown because there were three or
four families of Riffles living there at the time. Well, I landed in Eldon about one p.m. and
walked to Aunt Jerusha's house. She was glad to see me. So the next morning I went with
her to the factory and landed a job all right. I liked my job just fine and I was just "tickled
pink" when I got my first check. I didn't let my shirt tail touch me until I went to town and the
first thing I bought was a camera.
So now it was Easter and we were at home. I brought my new camera with me and
took pictures of everybody. It had been nearly three months since I had left home and I
was really glad to get home and see all the folks. I’ll have to admit I was pretty homesick at
times, as this was the first time I had been away from home for so long. Aunt Jerusha and
I had rode on the mail hack to Gladstone and Dad had met us and brought us home. Aunt
Jerusha stayed a week and I went back home with her but 1 didn't stay very long. I
decided 1 wanted to stay at home for the summer. I wasn't through taking pictures yet.
There was one very special picture I took of my Mother and old Sally, our old Jersey cow
that had belonged to Grandpa and Mother had bought her at Grandpa's sale. And I got
another special one of the old cave spring over at the edge of Walker field.
Well, in fact I got a lot of special pictures that summer. Pauline's little girl friend
Velma McMillian came to visit with us that summer. They were always playing house with
dolls. They would play like they were cooking and would set their table with a little set of
dishes that Pauline had got for Christmas. Then they would set their dolls up to the table
and feed them. I got their pictures feeding their dolls.
By now the snow was all gone and spring had really arrived in all its beauty. First of
all there was the spice-wood bushes which grew in abundance all along the banks of
Soap Creek over against the high cliffs. You knew it was there by its sweet fragrance long
before you got to it. It made delicious tea and we all loved it.
You just broke the small branches into short pieces and brewed it. And there were
the mushrooms. We had lots of fun hunting them. And there were oodles and gobs of wild
onions and wild greens and, oh so many wild flowers everywhere. But the sweet William
was the most beautiful of them all. There was the blue bells, violets, daisies, Easter Lilies,
buttercups and many many more. Also there was the dogwood. red bud, sarvice berry,
wild plum, wild cherry, the hawthorne and elderberry. Oh yes there was the paw-paws. It
is not a very tall bush, but has a very pretty, odd looking flower. But the fruit doesn't get
ripe until late summer.
Uncle George and Aunt Emma and their nine children lust lived across Soap Creek
and on the other side of the hill. So their kids and we kids had lots of good times together.
We would meet at the old swimming hole almost every day during the hot summer days or
go fishing. And in the winter when the creek froze over, we would have lots of fun skating.
There was a time Dad and Mom took us all to the Walker field to plant corn. We
had shelled the seed corn the night before and Mama had filled a twenty five pound flour
sack full and tied it with a string. It wasn't very far so we all walked except Pauline. She
wasn't feeling very good so Dad put her on old Lynn, as Dad had to have one horse to
hitch to the single shovel plow, as it was called, to lay off the rows. She held the sack of
corn up in front of her playing like it was her baby. When we got to Walker branch and
started to cross it, old Lynn decided he wanted a drink. As there was a pretty deep hole of
water he just turned and waded into it. Pauline couldn't make him go any further so Dad
told her to let him get a drink and he would come on when he got through, which she did.
But in the meantime she was slapping her baby, first to one side and then the other 1
calling her sister and telling her to set up. When old Lynn got through drinking, he shook
himself real hard. Pauline and sister both fell off into the water, spilling part of the seed
corn. As Pauline and sister weren't hurt, only scared and wet, we all had a big laugh and
went on to plant the corn.
Pauline wasn't old enough to work, so she just played around in the sun until she
dried off. Dad layed off the rows and Corine, Ralph, and I took a row apiece and planted
the corn. We would drop two or three grains down in the row every three feet apart. Mama
and Raymond came along behind us with a garden hoe covering the corn. As we were
planting three rows at a time Mama would cover two rows and Raymond one. We had to
do our work the hard way but we got her done just the same.
While I'm on the subject of Walker field, I must tell you a story my mother used to tell
us about what happened in this very field. It seems that Mother and Aunt Jerusha were
helping their father plant corn one very hot and sultry afternoon when a thunderstorm was
brewing in the western sky. Black clouds were rolling up and some distant thundering
could be heard. Aunt Jerusha was about fourteen and Mother was eleven years old at the
time. They were tired and hot and wanted to go to the house. But Grandpa wouldn't tell
them to go because he had something up his sleeve and was having some fun. They
were lagging behind and praying a little prayer of their own. They were asking the Lord to
send a little shower, that way they could go home. They didn't know that Grandpa had
heard them but he had. So he let it start sprinkling rain before he told them they had better
head for the house or they would get wet, which they were very happy to do. But they got
soaking wet before they even got out of the field. He told them he heard them praying and
that their prayers were answered.
Then our Uncle Henry entered the picture again. He had one stiff arm and couldn't
use it very good, but now he had hurt it somehow and he had a sore that wasn't healing
fast. So he came to live with us a few months. He would get mad at us kids every once in
a while but he never would scold us or mistreat us in any way. He would just pout around
a few days and soon get over it. I well remember the time that Dad told us if we worked
good that week we could go to visit Uncle Jim and Aunt Vina Kennedy that weekend. Aunt
Vina was Mothers oldest sister. They lived about ten or fifteen miles southwest of our
place, in the Wilson bend, not far from the Osage River. We loved to go to Uncle Jim's. He
would tell us funny stories. They had a large family of twelve children. They were all
married but the youngest ones and they were about our ages.
So Saturday morning finally rolled around. We four got up early and rushed around
and got our chores all done. Corine and I were getting ready while the boys were out in
the pasture rounding up the horses. They had left the barn lot gate open so the horses
would go into the barn where they would feed them a few ears of corn and put the saddles
on them. Then the boys were going to come in and clean up and be ready by the time the
horses got done eating. But things don't always happen the way you plan, especially if
you have an Uncle Henry around as we did. Well, anyway, when the horses got to the
barn lot gate, low and behold, there was Uncle Henry standing in the gate. He gave a big
hoop and hollered, "Shew! Shew! Shew!" and waved his hat, which scared the horses and
they turned and ran back to the pasture. They almost ran over the boys trying to get away
as they were so close behind them. And did Raymond get mad! He was so mad he cried
and threw rocks at the horses, instead of at Uncle Henry. Uncle Henry had told Dad that
we didn't need to go on that trip, that the horses had worked hard all week and they need
But Dad told the boys to go get them again and we got to go any-way. We were just
a little later getting there than we had planned. But we got there by noon and stayed until
the next evening and got home by sundown.
Well, Uncle Henry was still there when we got back and he wasn't so mad. But he
could be very childish at times. He would get mad at Mom or Dad and pout around for
days. He wouldn't help with the work, only when he wanted to. But he would do the chores
for us when we went to Rock Dale for the weekends. He was a good housekeeper and
everything would be spick and span when we got back. But what he couldn't understand
was why we wanted to go back to "Egypt so much. He called it going down to Egypt.
One time Mama let Corine and l stay a week at Rock Dale. We visited with friends
and we stayed a night or two with Aunt Sade. We helped her with the housework, then in
the evening she would play games with us in the yard. Marshall was staying with them at
this time. I think I mentioned before that Marshall didn't have a home, he just stayed with
Joe and Aunt Sade part of the time and part of the time with his Dad, who lived in
One evening we went to the turnip patch to pull turnips so they could store them
away for the winter. It was pretty cool and it looked like there was going to be some stormy
weather and maybe turn cold1 so Joe had everyone helping. We just pulled the big ones
and put them in piles all over the patch, as it was quite a large patch. When we got them
all pulled we turned back and cut the tops off. Then Joe loaded up the wheel barrow and
took them to the cellar to be used for the winter.
Of course we had to have some fun along with our work, so Joe, Standly, and
Marshall started a turnip fight with the small turnips. It was a pretty hot fight for a while but
the boys won the battle. They got so rough on us we had to make a run for the house. We
had a good time that week but we were glad to see Mom and Dad when they came for us
on Sunday. We had our visit and we were happy to get back home. 'Be it ever so humble,
there's no place like home," so the old song goes..
Then there was the time that Dad and Mom took off to Eldon to visit Aunt Jerusha
for a week, and what a week it was. We did a little of everything, even though we had
plenty to do. Dad had assigned the boys to cutting corn and just shocking it in the field. It
was very hot during the day, so the boys had to get up at daylight and work while it was
cool. They worked until about nine o'clock in the morning and went back to work about
five or six in the evening and worked until it was too dark to see. If the moon was shining
they would work longer. For once we girls didn't have to help in the field.
We had to do all the chores and do the cooking, house cleaning and any other odd
job that needed to be done. We weren't supposed to have any visitors or go visiting
ourselves while our parents were gone. What we did do was to go to the old swimming
hole very day. Then one day we decided to do a little calf riding. Raymond and I were the
only ones brave enough to try it. Raymond caught mine for me and I got on but I didn't
stay on very long. I was thrown off in a jiffy, right into a mud puddle. Raymond rode his but
it wasn't easy. Well, we didn't try that anymore. Mom and Dad had left on Monday and
would not be back until the next Sunday evening. They had taken Pauline with them.
This was late summer, time for wild grapes and paw-paws to be getting ripe.
speaking of paw-paws, here’s a good one that Raymond pulled on my boy friend, Bill
Baughman, and Corine's boy friend, John Allen. We had asked our mother if they could
come to see us on Sunday afternoon and, to our surprise, she said they could come if
they would come right after the noon meal and leave by sun down. So we called them on
the phone and told them what our mom had said. Anyway, that was all right with them.
They knew how strict Dad was and that he didn't like John very well. We had got
acquainted with them at church. John had walked Corine home several times. John was
sixteen years old and Corine was fifteen. But Dad didn't say much for a while and Bill
would walk with me. He just came along with John mostly to walk back with John so he
wouldn't have to walk back by himself. You see we lived about two and a half or three
miles north of the church house and they lived about a mile or two south of the church, so
it was a long walk for them. This was a little country Baptist church over on Mill Creek. It
was called the Bond Church and there was a school house close by where Uncle
George's children went to school. It was Bond School.
Well, we were all ready and waiting for them when Sunday rolled around. But
Raymond didn't like Bill and was mad at us for letting them come. He said he was going to
do everything he could to make him mad. He was going to pick a fight with him and make
him go home. He was pretty sure he could whip him. He started in on him as soon as he
got there and he did everything he could think of. He tried to trip him every time he got
close to him. He slipped around and poured water down his shirt collar. He even told him
to go home, that he wasn't welcome there. I was so embarrassed I didn't know what to do.
I tried to explain to Bill that he was just being ornery, that he didn't mean any of it, but of
course Bill knew better. So far Bill had taken everything in good humor but the worst was
to come later.
Raymond and Ralph got tired of hanging around and pestering us and
disappeared for a while. We knew they were up to something but we couldn't figure out
what it was. They had gone to the paw-paw patch. They were gone about an hour. But
they were coming back, we could hear them as they were coming through the meadow
and around the garden fence to the front yard. They seemed to be pretty happy.
Raymond was whistling and they came in with a bang, slamming doors and shuffling their
feet on the floor. I knew they had something up their sleeve but I couldn't figure it out,
though I didn't have to wait long. Bill and I were in the bedroom and Corine and John were
out on the front porch. Then Raymond stuck his head in the door and called Bill to come
into the living room and see what he had. But Bill wouldn't go, though Corine and John
went to see but they wouldn't tell. Raymond soon got tired of trying to coax Bill in there
and went out on the front porch to torment John a while.
But my curiosity got the best of me and I just had to see what he had done. And of
all things1 there was Bill's new cap1 right in the middle of the floor with three or four over
ripe paw-paws smashed in it, with old Topsey’s litter of four little kittens sitting around it
eating paw-paws. In all of my embarrassment and anger, I actually had to laugh. We all
laughed but poor Bill. It was time for them to go home so he just came on through the front
room and didn't take time to pick up his cap. He thought it was ruined and so did we all.
But my brother Raymond wasn't all bad. He got to feeling sorry for Bill and cleaned his
cap up. It was not in too bad a shape after all, and he took it and gave it to Bill but he did
not apologize for what he had done. What a day that had been!
But we had to lay everything aside now and get our chores done and supper on the
table for Mom and Dad would be there any time now. We tried to act like nothing had ever
happened and 1 am proud to say that Raymond and Bill became very good friends after
that. We never did tell Mom and Dad how naughty the boys had been.
But soon after this had all happened Dad got very angry with John and forbid him
to come to see Corine ever again. He thought he had seen John drunk, but he hadn't, of
course, for John was quite young and had not taken up that habit yet. But some of his
family were known to be heavy drinkers, though his Dad and Mother were counted very
nice and were respected by the whole neighborhood.
Missouri was a dry state and whiskey or liquor of any kind could not be bought
anywhere close. It could be bought at a small town called Cole Camp, but that was
eighteen or twenty miles west of Versailles, Missouri, and still further from our neck of the
woods. But that didn't make any difference with the folks around in the Ozark Hill country,
for there was a moonshine still hid in every nook and corner where it could be hid. So you
could get "white mule" which is what it was called. That was against the law, but who was
going to tell on his neighbor anyway? The law very seldom came looking for any one and
when it did they never found anything.
Well, anyway, Dad was very upset and our Mother was too, but she didn't say
much because she didn't like the AlIens too well herself. And another thing, they thought
John and Corine were getting a little too serious and they were too young to get married.
But it didn't stop them from seeing each other or writing. He never came to the house
anymore, but he would meet her at Gravois Mills every time he could get a chance to
come. As Corine was going to school and we got our mail at the post office because we
didn't live on a rural route, she always got the mail and there was a letter for her almost
every day and Dad didn't know that. Now they had made an agreement with each other,
that no matter what happened, or whoever each had gone with in between that time and
the time she would become eighteen, John would come and get her on January 23,1924,
which he did. Raymond and I knew their plans, but we did not tell anyone. And as for Bill,
I would see him once in a while. We were still good friends, but I still had Marshall on my
list. He was still there when we went to Rock Dale.
Then in July of 1922, Pauline had a really bad appendicitis attack and we all
thought she was going to die. There had been a bad wind storm the night before and it
blew the telephone lines down between Gravois Mills and Versailles and we couldn't get
Dr. Jack Gunn, as he was still our family doctor. So Dad go on old Maud and rode over to
Proctor, a small town about twelve or fifteen miles west of our place on the Osage River,
and got an old doctor by the name of Gibbs. He got on his horse and rode back with Dad.
It was about four o'clock in the evening when they get there. Doctor Gibbs stayed all night
with us and by morning she was better. We sat up all night and kept cold towels on her.
We didn't have any ice or any way to get any, so we just pumped fresh cool water from the
well and by morning her fever was gone and the pain wasn't so bad either. She was sick
for several weeks. The old doctor stayed and ate breakfast with us before he left.
Pauline had slept with me since she was six months old. In fact we all three slept
together. I slept in the middle and Pauline slept on the front side with her arms around my
neck most of the night. And now that she was sick she wouldn't let anyone do anything for
her but me. I had to get her a drink two or three times in the night and I always gave her
medicine to her. And in the day time I had to sit by her bed nearly all day and fan her, as it
was very hot and no one had fans or air conditioners in those days. Sometimes I would
get tired and sleepy and drop my fan and Mom or Corine would take over. If she woke up
and caught either of them sitting by her bed she would call for me. She didn't want them to
fan her. She said they didn't fan her good and sometimes they dropped the fan on her. I
got pretty tired but I was glad she wanted me.
After Pauline got well early that fall Mom and Dad went to visit Aunt Jerusha for a
couple of days, leaving Pauline with us. We didn't have much to do. We gathered hazel
nuts and walnuts for the winter and made molasses candy every day. Raymond built a
little furnace out of rocks and mud with a little chimney to it lust like the one Dad had made
to cook the cane juice in to make our molasses. He made it out in the back yard. It lust fit
Mother's big bread pan, so we made our candy in the bread pan. We put hazel nuts and
walnuts kernels in it. Then we pulled it until it was light and fluffy and brittle.
And of course Raymond couldn't be around the house very long without pulling off
some of his pranks and jokes on us. One was to catch old Topsy and put this little board
on her tail. It was three inches long and an inch wide. It was not very thick but he split it in
the middle, just long enough to slip it on the end of old Tops/s tail. My, oh my, what a
vicious squall she let out. It was hurting her and she was scared so bad she couldn't find
her way out. She was climbing the walls and trying to get out the windows1 but could not
find the door. We were all trying to help her but no one could get a hold of her. We were all
crying but finally Pauline coaxed her to let her help get the board off. Raymond was sorry
that he had hurt old Topsy, so I told him if he wanted to be mean to anything, why didn't he
put the board on his pet pig that was running around in the yard, getting in everyone's way
and rooting in the yard. Well that sounded like fun to him so that is what he did. But as it
turned out, the little pig did not seem to care at all. He just went on grunting and rooting
and wiggling his little curled up tail as if nothing had happened.
Autumn and winter had passed and a new year had begun. I went back to Eldon to
work a while, but I stayed with my Aunt Nag Hibdon and family this time, as Aunt Jerusha
had got married and changed her name. She was Mrs. Joe Barnhart now. We all liked
Uncle Joe but 1 didn't want to stay with them. I went to work for Mrs. Burns who ran a
hotel and my parents did not like that so I didn't stay very long. Also she was only paying
me fifty cents a day and board, so I didn't stay with Aunt Nag very long. But I liked Mrs.
Burns and I liked working for her. She was a kind motherly old lady. She was very strict
with me and would not let me do anything she thought I shouldn't do.
So Valentine's Day rolled around and I was a little homesick, but I couldn't go home
until Mrs. Burns could find someone to take my place. But here comes a real nice
Valentine card from my old boy friend, Bill Baughman, whom I had not heard from in a
long time. I sure was glad to hear from some one back home. So I answered on return
mail1 telling him how glad I was to hear from him. that I was glad he still remembered me
by sending me this beautiful Valentine's card. But to my sorrow and embarrassment I was
to learn very soon that Bill did not send me that card. For Bill came to see me, and we
laughed about it. He was glad I answered it, so he said. And I never found out who sent it
until I got home. It was my sister, Corine. She said Dad helped her but I never did believe
that story. She was very good at pulling little stunts like that on us and telling little white
lies. They seemed so real you had to believe her. We never did get very angry with her for
it was all in fun anyway.
But I did come home in time to help with the spring planting. One day Dad sent the
four of us to the apron string field to replant some corn. That was a long narrow field on
top of the hill above the Cave Spring. And of course Raymond had to make Ralph mad by
teasing him about his old woman, whom he called Hillia and his two kids he called Rosy
and Henry. We never did know why or how he ever got a thing like that started on Ralph,
but just let someone mention Hillia and you had a fight on your hands. Ralph didn't like to
be teased at all. So Raymond soon found out the hard way that Ralph wasn't in any mood
this morning to take anything off of him. So the rocks began to fly and Raymond had to
take cover behind a tree and every time he stuck his head out from behind the tree Ralph
would pelt him with a rock. We tried to make them quit their foolishness and help us
because we had to get done by noon. So Corine and I had to do most of the replanting
Then there was the time that Raymond and Ralph had to take the horses to the
pasture after the days work was done. When they got out of sight of Dad they started
racing them to the far end of the pasture and back. Our old mule Jack, which Raymond
was riding, stumbled and fell as he jumped a ditch, throwing Raymond off, hitting his head
on a rock and cutting a very bad gash in the top of his head. It knocked him out for several
minutes. This scared Ralph pretty badly and he didn't know what to do. Raymond's head
was bleeding very badly and they couldn't get it to stop. As they had to cross Walker
Branch on their way home they found a good hole of water and kept washing his head in
cool water until the blood stopped.
They had been gone a long time. It was beginning to get dark. They knew Mom was
waiting supper on them by now, for they should have been back by sundown. They also
knew that she would be worrying about them. And they didn't know just how they were
going to explain their story. They didn't want to come right out and say they were racing
the poor old horses after a hard day's work. I really don't know what their alibi was, but I do
remember that Raymond slipped in at the back door and came to the supper table with his
cap on with the bill turned to the back. I'll never know how he got by without Mom noticing
it because our parents were very strict when it came to table manners. After supper Mom
and Dad went out on the front porch to relax and for Dad to smoke a pipe of tobacco
before they went to bed. Then Raymond slipped around and told me what had happened.
But I was not to tell and I didn't.
Then there was the time they were having a protracted meeting, as they called it, at
the Bond Church. But of course now in these more modern times we call it a revival
meeting. Well, anyway, whatever ifs called, they were having this meeting in this little
country Baptist church. It was nestled in between two steep hills over in the Mill Creek
neighborhood, which was about three miles south of our place. But distance didn't mean
anything to us. This meeting lasted two weeks or longer. We didn't miss a night and
walked most of the time. The preacher was a single boy not much older than myself. His
name was Johnny Risner and he got stuck or Corine. He lived down in the Shawnee Bend
neighborhood on the Osage River in Camden County. Dad didn't like it any too well
because he paid too much attention to Corine, but he didn't say much about it. So our
Mom and Dad invited him to eat Sunday dinner with us and he accepted. When it came
time to eat, Corine and I had to wait as there wasn't room at the table for all of us. Besides
we were supposed to wait on the table anyway. of course Dad asked the preacher to ask
the blessing on the food and he said his words so fast that we couldn't understand a word.
He sounded just like a little girl we knew at Rock Dale church, saying her little piece for the
children's day program. She couldn't talk very plain. Her little poem was about the dicky
birds and all you could understand was daddy dicky bird, mamma dicky bird and baby
dicky bird. She was only four years old and scared, and she was saying it so fast.
We were standing just inside the kitchen door listening. He could not see us, but
Raymond could. He was sitting at the table facing us. He looked up and wrinkled his eye
brows at us and that set us off. We had to sneak out the back door but Corine snickered
out loud. Well you can guess what we were in for when our Mom got us out by ourselves.
Well, it makes you wish you had minded your manners.
While I am on the subject of laughing at people for doing and saying things that
sound funny to you but you can't laugh1 here's another story. There was a poor old man,
Mart Sidebottom, whom we had known all our lives. He was a very good friend and
neighbor also, but he did have a queer way of saying some words. He was eating dinner
with us one day. I was waiting table and when he emptied his coffee cup I asked if he
wanted some more coffee. He said, "lf you please, Miss, just a little." So when I got his cup
about half full, he began to shout, "Thar, thar, thar!" That meant for me to stop right there.
Raymond was sitting across the table in front of me and of course I had to look at him and
he made this weird face at me. That was all I needed. I had to get to the kitchen in a hurry
and set my coffee pot on the cook stove. I got out of that one pretty easy. I don't think the
old fellow noticed a thing. But Dad did give us a dirty look and we knew what that meant.
I knew better than to look at Raymond in times like those. He was forever getting us in
trouble or embarrassing us in front of people.
It was July 1923 and the fourth was lust around the corner. We were getting ready to
go to Rock Dale to a Fourth of July celebration. All the girls were getting red and white
checked dresses with the checks running bias across the material. Our mother had
ordered some material from the Montgomery Ward catalog to make us girls new dresses.
But when it came it was not what we had ordered. It was red and white checked all right 1
but they were big checks and not running bias ways. We didn't have time to send it back
so Mom just kept it. But Corine threw a fit and wouldn't have hers.
Then Mom told us if we wanted to walk three miles and carry a water bucket full of
eggs to Gravois Mills we could sell them to Bill Williams who ran the general store. Then
we could pick out what we wanted. So we took her up on her offer. Well, we couldn't get
red and white check gingham so Corine picked a white and blue organdy. I guess we
would have done almost anything to get those dresses We sure found out that it was hot,
walking across country and carrying a bucket of eggs. We sure were glad to get back
home about 3 p.m. Our Mom was waiting for us and started working on our dresses as
soon as we got there. She had to really get on the ball as the old saying goes, for she only
had a few hours. But she made it in record breaking time. "Good old faithful Mom." Maybe
she wasn't any better than other mothers around the country, but to us she was the very
best. She was always there when we needed her.
Well, the fourth finally arrived and we were up bright and early putting every thing in
order, like putting out food and water for the chickens and our pets that couldn't get to the
creek for water, for we would be gone over night. At last we were ready. Dad had hitched
up the old mares to the wagon. He had put some hay in the wagon bed for them to munch
on after we got there. We put quilts over the hay for us to ride on. So we all climbed in the
old lumber wagon and picked our places, sitting fiat on the hay. Mom and Dad sat up front
on the spring seat so Dad could guide the horses and Pauline rode between them most of
the time. So off we went to Rock Dale. It was a Fourth of July we never did forget. We
talked about it for days and days.
Then there was another time we all walked to Rock Dale, well most of the way. Dad
had bought a "hack," as it was called. It looked like a two seated buggy without a top. It
would be easier riding than the old lumber wagon. He had bought it from a very close
friend, Walter Cram, who lived near Rock Dale. So Dad told us that if we wanted to walk
we could go and we weren't about to let Dad go to Rock Dale without the whole family
tagging along, even if we did have to walk. So we were off like a "pot leg" come Saturday
morning. Dad put the harness on the mules, old Jack and Pete. By this time they had
been broken to work and ride too. Now old Maud and Daisy could get a rest now and then,
for they were getting old. So Mom and Dad and Pauline rode the mules bareback for a few
miles. Then Corine and I would ride a mile or two. The boys walked nearly all the way as
they didn't want to ride.
Anyway we had a lot of fun on that trip. We took the short cut through the hills and
across the country, not passing too many houses on the way. But we sure were a tired,
hungry bunch when we landed at Aunt Sade's house about five that evening. Then we
went to church the next morning, it being Sunday, and went home with the Walter Cram
family for Sunday dinner and back to church that evening. Then we went back to the
Crams, where we spent the night. But come Monday morning, we were all primed and
ready to start on our homeward journey, riding back in style, I would have you know.
Oh! I had a new boyfriend by then, Alvin Cram was his name. He was my age and
real good looking, though not as good looking as Marshall. He was known by all the girls
in the neighborhood as Ichabod Crane, as he was tall and lanky. He was counted as one
of the best boys in the whole country. And what about Marshall? Well, he just drifted away
into parts unknown, as he didn't live with Joe, his half brother, anymore. But I did get a
letter from him once in a while renewing our friendship.
Anyway, we got home safe and sound in our new rig. We three girls sat in the
second seat, with Mom and Dad in the front seat of course. The boys sat in the back of the
bed with the end gate down and their feet hanging out. Now that's riding in style, wouldn't
Our Grandma Hibdon, Percilla as most people called her, lived with her son Fred
who lived on the head of Soap Creek, which was not very far from our place. She would
come to visit us quite often and stay two or three weeks at a time. She was a good old lady
and we all dearly loved her. She would help us with our work and do all sorts of things for
us and bring us a new dress nearly every time she came. And she would always bring her
little dog Jack with her. He was a short haired terrier with black and white spots on him. He
was a very smart little dog. While Grandpa was still alive, old Jack and his little pal John,
an airdale1 would chase rabbits up to the house and Grandpa would shoot them and they
would have rabbit to eat. Grandpa was old and sick and couldn't go hunting anymore, so
these little dogs supplied them with fresh meat every day or so. Old John finally died and
Grandma gave old Jack to us and he lived to be eighteen years old.
That fall, the boys would take old Jack opossum hunting with them. But he was
getting old and he was so fat and short legged he couldn't keep up with the other dogs
and he couldn't get over fences. One night Corine and I decided to go opossum hunting
with the boys and we took old Jack with us. He was doing just fine. He was trailing along
with the other dogs until we came to this rail fence and he couldn't find his way through it.
So Corine lifted him up to set him over and he was wiggling so because he was so
anxious to get over. She dropped him and that made him mad and he growled at her.
When he got over he just headed for home. We tried to call him back but he wouldn't
Raymond liked to go hunting every night during hunting season but Ralph would get
lazy and wouldn't go with him every night. And Dad did not like to hunt at all and very
seldom went with him. He didn't like to go by himself but he went anyway. He would get
two or three opossums or a skunk nearly every night. He wouldn't be gone more than
three or four hours. He would stretch their hides on boards and let them dry, then sell
them to Bill Williams who ran the general store at Gravois Mills. He made quite a lot of
money for himself that winter.
Then one night he persuaded me to go with him. We were doing pretty good until the
dogs struck a opossum trail and took off like lightning, all excited and yelping so loud they
could be heard for miles around. Raymond was carrying the lantern for it was a very dark
night and you couldn’t see your hand before you. So Raymond got all excited too and
started after the dogs as fast as he could run, leaving me behind in the dark. 1 just could
not keep up. 1 was falling over rocks and old rotten logs and running into trees and
bushes. Raymond was calling for "Wezzie ," (that was me), to come on. I fell down,
skinning the hide off my hands and knees. Right then and there I was ready to go to the
house. But Raymond came back and got me, dragging me along with him until we found
the dogs. They were not too far away. They had an opossum treed up a little old bush.
Raymond got his opossum and then we went home. We weren't very far from the house
but that was the last time 1 went opossum hunting.
Well, here we go again. Dad's got moving on his mind and that means we'll be
leaving as soon as the fall crop is harvested, though we loved all our friends and
neighbors and we loved this dear little farm on Soap Creek in Morgan County. We loved it
because it was our Grandpa Hibdon's place, but we all had a longing to go back to
Camden County, back to Camp Branch and the Osage River. That meant we would be
going back to the precious little old church on the hill called Rock Dale. So in the fall of
1923 we gave up the dear old farm. Mom and Dad sold the farm and rented a farm from
Jay Holst, a close friend, on the Osage River. Part of our land ran right along the banks of
the river and part of it was across the hill in Camp Branch Hollow. That was where the
school house was, so we weren't very far from school.
Our house was a two story, four room box house built on the side of a hill with a front
porch and high steps. But the back door was ground level. There were two big cedar trees
in the front yard. There was a big barn and chicken house. We got our water from an
overflowing spring that flowed from under this big hill. There was a house built over the
spring. It was called the spring house, where we kept our milk and butter cool. This was a
fancy little house with a door we could close to keep the cats and dogs out. There was
plenty of shelves across one end to keep the milk vessels put up. There was a window in
the east side of it to let in the light. Oh, it was a fancy little milk house. It was as handy as
a pocket on a shirt, as some would say.
The country road came right in front of our house, winding around down this long
steep hill on the west side of the house. That winter we had a very deep snow and it
stayed on a long time. And did we have fun, sleigh riding and skating on the ice, for the
river even froze over that winter. The neighbors kids for miles around would come with
their homemade sleds, for that was all the kind they had in those days, to ride down our
hill. It was a long way to the top. We would walk up to the top, pulling our sleds, then two
or three would get on one sled and away we would go. The one guiding the sled really had
to do some maneuvering to keep it in the road and get it around the bend, and most of all
to keep it from going off over the lower edge of the road and spilling us all off, for it was
steep and you didn't know where you might land. You might land against a tree or a big
rock, for they were sticking up everywhere, most of them under the snow at this time.
It happened to Corine and her boy friend, Willie Turpin. They were on this old rickety
sled which was hard to guide. Willie missed the bend in the road and over they went,
nearly burying themselves in the snow. Luckily they weren't hurt but they did have to have
some help getting out of the deep snow and getting their sled back on the road. Ralph and
his best friend, Standly McMillian, put wooden boxes on their sleds. They would set up on
their boxes and go riding down the hill. Even Dad and Joe McMillian got in on the fun.
Raymond got our Mom and Aunt Sade on his sled and he took them for a ride, Aunt Sade,
Joe and their kids came over to our house quite often. On this rather snowy day they had
walked in the deep snow from their house to our house which was about two miles. But
the weather, be it snowy, rainy, hot or cold, didn't seem to make any difference to people
in that day and time, if they wanted to go. As the old saying goes, they just put their foot in
their hand and took off.
Then in the spring when the ice and snow began to melt we watched the ice break
up on the Osage River. That was a wonderful sight. We heard it early one morning and
knew what it was. It was making a very loud crashing noise. The river had been froze for
a long time and the ice was thick. We had skated on the ice and Dad had driven his wagon
and team across it to our neighbors who lived on the other side and so did the neighbors
cross over on the ice also. It had warmed up a little in the night and there was a rise in the
river causing the ice to break up.
Well, as soon as we heard the noise of the big blocks of ice crashing against each
other we all went rushing down to the river to watch the sight and what a sight it was! It
was unbelievable to watch those big blocks of ice roll and tumble and pile up higher than
your head, then break loose and go tumbling on down the river and to pile up again further
on down. We were at the Camp Branch tie landing. This was a special place for us,
sometimes we would just come here and. sit on the bank with our feet dangling in the cool
water and watch a big raft of ties slowly go by.
It was a good place to swim when the river was its normal stage, if we were careful
not to go out too far. But it was a wild and wooly place during flood stage and the water
would back up all over the land for miles around. lt would back half way to our house,
taking the crops and hay stacks or whatever was in its path, washing out water gates and
sometimes washing stock down the river if they got stranded and couldn't get out.
It was at this very tie landing that Wilford McMlillian got drowned. He was Marshall's
older brother. He was never found. Two neighbor boys, Willie and Alvie Hayes, and
Marshall were with him and they saw him go down but he never did come up and he was
never seen again. The boys were scared and started for home to get help. The Hayes
boys lived in Pin Hook Hollow, which was about three miles. So it was getting late by the
time they could round up the neighbors for help and it was the next day before they could
get word to their Dad, who lived in Versailles. They searched for five or six days before
they gave up. There were treacherous undercurrents and swirls out in the deep water and
he had got out too far and got into one which swept him under.
Then there was the time that Dad sent the boys to fix water gates that had been
washed out. The back water was nearly all gone and the river had calmed down a lot and
was almost back to its normal self. Raymond wasn't feeling very well that morning. He
had a headache and that was very unusual for him, for he was never sick. But he went on
to work anyway as two of his friends from the other side of Rock Dale had come over to
spend the day with him. So they worked and played in the water all day and there was
even two or three little showers on them.
When they all got to the house Mom had supper ready and they ate supper. Then
the boys went home and Raymond went to bed. The next day was Sunday and he had
planned on going to Sunday School. Re was just getting old enough to shave and Mom
was helping him and discovered he was broke out in little red pimples all over his face and
neck. He had the measles so she wouldn't let him go to Sunday School. Then in a few
days the other kids came down with the measles at the same time. They were all pretty
sick, with Raymond and Ralph being the worst.
But I was not at home at this time. One of mothers close friends who lived about five
miles from us over in the Shonee Bend neighborhood had came and got me a few days
before to stay with her for a couple of weeks. So my mother called me on the phone and
told that they were all sick and that she was doing just fine, taking care of four children and
helping Dad with the chores. I wanted. to come home but she wouldn't let me. So I stayed
with the Scotts for three weeks. A new baby had come to live with them while I was there.
They had two older children, a girl and a boy. They had lost their oldest little girl when she
was four years old. She was playing with matches and caught herself on fire and they
didn't get to her in time to save her. The Scotts owned this big river farm and he kept a
hired hand all the time. Raymond had been working for them all summer.
So when we heard from Raymond's friends, Tiny Woods and Albert Crabtree, they
both were down with the measles too. It seemed like all the kids in the whole
neighborhood were having the measles. All but me and I never did take them, though I
had lots of chances. I waited until I was almost forty years old before I took the measles
and I really thought I was going to die, 1 was so sick.
There were lots of hickory nuts all up and down the river bottom that fall and we
picked hickory nuts by the bushels and sold them. There was always lots of excitement
and strange things happening in our neck of the woods, like the time that Raymond and
Ralph were just fooling around in the hickory nut grove when they heard someone calling
their names. So they started searching and following the sound until they spotted Earnest
and Elise Hibdon, our close neighbor boys, up in this big hickory nut tree. But they didn't
get very close until this big old sow, (or mommy hog), She had some baby pigs close by,
made a pass at them and they had to run for their lives. Luckily they had their dogs with
them to heir scare her off long enough to get close to the tree and let them get down. She
had kept them up in this tree for three or four hours. They had been walking along picking
up hickory nuts when suddenly she attacked them. There was nothing else to do but climb
this tree. They didn't have their dogs with them.
One other time this same old sow nearly got Raymond. She was in our corn field
helping herself to the corn. She had torn down several shocks of corn and had made
herself a bed in one shock and had her little piggies in it. Raymond and his dog were just
walking through the field and all of a sudden she jumped out and attacked him. The dog
grabbed her by the ear and hung on until Raymond got away. He made for the rail fence
and fell to the ground. She was right there and grabbed for him. He felt her get a mouthful
of his clothes when his dog ran in and got her by the ear again and gave Raymond a
chance to get over the fence. Then she got loose from the dog and made for him but he
jumped over the fence and got away from her.
Our little dog was a short haired fox terrier. He wasn't very big but he was a spunky
little fellow. He could be very mean and vicious when it came to protecting us children.
Our parents could not whip any of us when he was around. He sure would get them. One
time Dad was wrestling with Corine and twisted her arm. He was showing her how an
Indian chief whipped his wife and she screamed. Old Tig, that was his name, jumped and
grabbed Dad growling and hanging on with all his might until Dad turned Corine loose. He
made the blood come in Dad's arm.
And then there was our little dog Benny. He was a short haired terrier too. He was
white with black spots. Old man Stucky poisoned him and he died. He protected us kids
too. He would go to school with us, which was against the rules. He wanted to lay at my
feet and would go to class with me if I would let him. The teacher would try to put him out
but he would growl at her and she would tell one of us to put him out. But he would slip
back in as soon as he caught the door open. We would try to make him stay at home. He
was determined to go no matter how much we scolded him. He would turn and act like he
was going home but in a few minutes there he was1 right behind us. Sometimes he would
go on ahead of us and when we got to school, there he was waiting for us and he would
be so glad to see us1 going from one to the other, jumping all over us as if he was asking
us to forgive him for being so naughty.
It was years later before we found out who gave him the poison. Old man Stuck/s
grandson told the boys that his grandpa had him do it, that he poisoned several dogs
around over the country. He thought they were killing his sheep. But anyway, Benny sure
liked to go to school. Sometimes Mama would shut him up in the house and keep him in
till noon, but as soon as she let him out he would be at school within an hour, whining and
scratching at the door to get in. We thought he was really smart.
And there was our cats. We always had a bunch of cats around. Pauline's old Topsy
was still with us and then there was these two little white kittens of hers. Pauline told
Corine and I we could claim them. Nine was all white with one black ear and a black spot
on his nose and his name was Hubert. Corine's was all white with both ears black and his
name was Marshall, as she had been flirting with Marshall and he had walked her home
from church a few times. So she named her cat after him. Mine followed me everywhere I
went if I would let him. I've already mentioned him following me to the pie supper one
night. Well now our Mom thought that they were catching her little chickens so she hauled
them off one day as she went to Linn Creek. And the next day they were back home. So
the next time she went to Linn Creek Mom sacked our cats up and took them with her,
only this time she took them farther away before she turned them loose. But, low and
behold, a week later there they were, sitting on our front porch. making themselves at
home and so happy to see us.
But my cat, Hubert, was not to be with us very long. One after-noon Mom took all of
us kids and went wild grape hunting. There were oodles of them, not far from our home.
They were growing on low bushes all over the hillside and were not hard to get. We had
almost got to the grape patch when we heard my cat coming1 making his little mournful
cries like he was begging for us to wait for him, which I did, and he followed us all over the
hills. Well, it was getting time to start for home as we all had our buckets full and we were
getting pretty tired. So Mom suggested we take a short cut through the woods, which
would take us by our neighbor Georgie Hibdon's house and we could rest awhile before
going on home. The day was pretty warm so when we got there Nellie, his wife, just put
some chairs out in the front yard for us to sit on under the shade trees. Then she sent one
of her boys to the spring to get some fresh cool water for us, which just hit the spot for we
were all very thirsty.
I had sat down on the front door step and my old cat laid down close to me just
inside the door to wait for me for he was tired too. We didn't stay very long, just long
enough to get rested up a bit, for it was getting late and it would be chore time when we
got home. So Mom thanked Nellie for her hospitality and invited her and her family to visit
us. So we took off down this little winding path that led us through the hickory nut groves
by the Osage River and on across Camp Branch and the landing on around the hill to
home. I left my cat laying on the floor still asleep, thinking he would come on as soon as
he missed me. But he never did. That was the last time I ever saw him. I always thought
Georgie's old fox hounds killed him, for he had a whole pack and they wouldn't let a cat
stay on their place.
The Hibdon boys were at our house quite often. Earnest and Elise were the two
younger ones. They were at our house one day and a very bad thunderstorm came up.
Elise began begging Earnest to go home, as he had heard it "flunder." He couldn't talk
very plain and he was afraid of thunder. He was so scared he cried and Earnest took him
home. They started off running as fast as they could go. We thought it was funny that he
couldn't say thunder and we teased him about it but he was so scared that he didn’t care
if we did tease him.
The Hibdon kids would meet us at the old swimming hole at the mouth of Camp
Branch near the tie landing on the Osage River. Sometimes we would play in the back
water if the river was out of its banks. And sometimes our moms would go along with us.
Then there was the time a fire broke out on the hill just north of the schoolhouse and
the wind was taking it towards our rail fence and our corn field. The weeds were high,
thick, and dry. Mom and I were the only ones at home. We saw the black smoke rolling up
over the hill and we thought it was the school house. Mom said, "Let's go 1" and she
grabbed two or three old gunny sacks, two water buckets and the garden rake and we
started up over this old winding steep hill just as fast as we could go to the school house.
The teacher had already let the children out, but they were not in any danger anyway as
the wind was blowing the fire away from the schoolhouse.
My mother knew how to fight a fire so we went to work, firing against the fire 1 using
our wet gunny sacks to beat out any fire that was about to cross over the line and using
the rake also to rake the dried leaves and grass out of the fire. The teacher let the older
children help us. Some of them kept the buckets full of water and carried them along close
to us so we could wet the gunny sacks as we needed them. Several times the wind blew
some sparks over into the corn field and we would have to work like mad with the wet
sacks to put it out. We had to fight it the whole length of the field, but we didn't lose any of
our corn and there wasn't any damage to the rail fence either. It sure was a scary time for
a while and we weren't sure that it wasn't going to get the best of us. But we all hung right
in there till we won the battle. We didn't look very good with our faces and clothes all black
with smoke and sweaty too. But it made us all feel good that no one got burned and that
we had saved our corn field.
I must tell you about our pet squirrel. His name was Dobbin. Raymond had found
him when he was a little baby. We had to feed him with a spoon. But he is grown up now
and is he ever spoiled! And mean too. He had a cage up in a tree that he would sleep in
when the weather got warm but he came in the house and made his bed in the rag bag
that hung on the wall upstairs when the weather got cold, wet and snowy. We let him run
free and he went anywhere he wanted to. He would even go visiting our neighbor, Uncle
John and Aunt Sarah Hibdon. He would go in and make himself at home. He would get
up in the middle of her bed and take a nap. Sometimes he would be gone all day but he
would always come home at night. You could usually find him in his bed on cool rainy
days and he didn't like to be disturbed.
Sometimes we would tease him and he would get fighting mad. He would hide nuts
everywhere. When we made our beds at night, nuts would roll out from everywhere. They
would be under our pillow, inside the slip, even in the dresser drawers if one was left open
long enough. Our dogs wouldn't bother him and he was not afraid of them. Sometimes
they would find him out in the woods while they were hunting and they wouldn't even bark
at him. That winter when the kids were in school and Mom and I would be setting by the
fire reading or sewing he liked to lay in our laps and sleep. He even crawled in Mom's
apron pocket and if we happened to touch him he would growl at us and even bit us if we
made him mad.
Well, as the years passed so did my secret beau, Marshall. I didn't see him very
often as he didn't stay in these parts anymore. And I fooled around and let Viola Hibdon
take Hubert. Well, that was all right, as Bennie Cantrell was my sweetie pie now.. He was
from the Purvis neighborhood but he wasn't around very long as my Prince Charming
came marching into my life right about now at a cottage prayer meeting one night at Uncle
John Hibdon's house. It was the second time I had seen him. Earl Hagerman was his
name and he was from over around the Rocky Mount country, which was on the east side
of the big Gravois Creek and this little burg called Rifel Town, or Gladstone as it was
called later. He had come over with a friend of his to Rock Dale and met a friend of mine
Effie May. He was going to walk with her to prayer meeting but she wouldn't let him, so
after prayer meeting was over he walked me home.
Anyway everyone was having prayer meetings at their homes around alt over the
country. There was one at someone's house every week. We even had two or three at our
Corine's beau was Haskel Bond now. He was from the Gravois Mills area and he
wasn't well thought of by Mom and Dad. He knew they did not like him but he came to see
It was a good time to pull a joke on Corine. I still remembered the one she pulled on
me a few months ago. So I was over at our neighbor's house one day and I called her on
the telephone. I was lucky that she answered the phone. I changed my voice and told her
that I was Haskell calling. 1 told her that I was over at Georgie Hibdon's and I wanted to
make a date with her and take her to prayer meeting that night. Of course she told him to
come on over, she would be waiting for him. I even called her sweetheart and said that I
would see her in a little while.
I sure did fool her and she told me about it when I got home. It sure was hard for me
to keep a straight face and not laugh just a little, and "not let the cat out of the bag. 1' But
Haskell didn't show up and she wondered why he had let her down. It was a Ions time
before she found out that it was me and was she ever mad!
Then there was the time we all went to prayer meeting at George and Dellie Turpins. They
lived about three miles across country up hills and down hills. That is if you went around
the county road but it was quite a bit shorter distance if you took the short cut across
country by a narrow path leading through the woods, "as the crow flies", so to speak. Also
the path was rough and brushy. Well, the meeting came to a close and every one was
getting ready to go home. Mom and Dad had gone on a little early and told us we could
stay a while to visit with the young folks as they were never in a hurry to leave. Earl was
walking me home and Hardy Sidebottom was with Corine so we asked Mom if we could
go the road, as it would take us longer to get home and we weren't supposed to be too far
behind them. Mom said yes. if we could get the boys to go with us You see, with our
boyfriends with us, she wasn't about to let us go by ourselves. of course the boys played
hard to persuade. They didn't want to go the long way around1 especially just to please us,
as they didn’t like Earl any too good anyway. But finally they said they would go with us.
So we started home and it was one of those nights when there wasn't any moon and
it was so dark you couldn't see your hand before you. But we were doing just fine until we
got to the top of this long steep hill. We hadn't seen or heard a peep from the boys until all
of a sudden they came rushing upon us from behind1 squalling like wild Indians with some
long switches~ giving Earl several hard licks. But they didn't hit me. We didn't fight back
or pay any attention to them, so they went on to Corine and Hardy who were a short
distance ahead of us, switching Hardy with their switches and accidentally hitting Corine
and she cried. They both got pretty mad and tried to fight back, which didn't do any good.
But when the boys got tired of tormenting them, they went rushing on yelling and hopping
like Indians in a war dance. We didn't see or hear of their for a while when suddenly they
jumped out at us again. There were four of them, Ralph and Standly McMillian and
Raymond and Everett Hibdon. This time they ran between us. Ralph and Standly took on
Earl and I, grabbing him by the arms and jerking him forward, lead-mg him on ahead of
me and almost knocking me down.
Raymond and Everett ran between Corine and Hardy. They wouldn’t let us walk
together for a long way. They said they were going to take Earl and Hardy on down the
road and tie them up to a tree and go off and leave them. But of course they didn't. They
finally turned them loose and went running off down the road. That was the last time we
saw them until we were nearly home and there they were, hiding by the side of the road
and jumping out at us, scaring us half to death. They walked along with us acting real nice
all the rest of the way home, acting as though they hadn't done a thing. They would have
got into trouble if we had told on them but we never did tell.
Then there was the time our cousin Charley Lee came to visit us one day and he
invited us to go home with him for a weeks visit. He would take us to a Democratic
Governor's convention they were having at the Ravenswood Farms, near Booneville,
Missouri. Our Mom and Dad let the three of us go and what a week it was! We enjoyed
every minute of it. Charley and his wife Ollie were lots of fun to be with. They had six
children, five boys and one girl.
They had bought a brand new Model T car. So come convention day.. we all got in
their new car and off we went. That was the longest ride vie had ever taken in a car and
the farthest we had ever been away from home. We were all really thrilled. They were
putting on a big barbeque feast, the first one vie had ever heard of. We watched them
barbeque their meat, which consisted of pork6 lamb, and beef. They were cooking it over
an open fire, which was in deep pits they had dug out in the barn lot. It was like being at
the county fair. We toured the mansion, which was wonderful as far as we were
concerned for we had never seen anything like this before. There were beautiful flowers
growing everywhere. They had long tables across the front lawn for everyone to eat on.
They had popcorn and lemonade stands.
There were cars parked everywhere, There must have been hundreds of them. We
had never seen so many cars. It seemed like there were hundreds of people there. Then
in the afternoon Mr. Nelson1 who was running for Governor1 came out on the upstairs
porch (or portico as some called it) with his family and friends and made a speech. Then it
was time to go home. We sure were a tired bunch and were glad to get back home but this
was a big day for us as we had never experienced anything quite like this before. It was a
day to be remembered the rest of our lives. But all too soon our week was gone and
Charley put us in the Model T and headed for Camp Branch and in a short time we were
Then a few months later Charley's wife Ollie passed away, leaving Charley and his
children very lonely. But his mother came to his rescue and took the boy, who was about
eight years old, and sent him to school that winter, She lived in Barnett just about four or
five miles from Charley. Then his sister who lived in St. Louis took the little girl and the
baby boy who was eighteen months old. The girl was about ten years old. And then
Raymond went back out to work for Charley and be with the other three boys on days that
they were not in school as Charley worked every day. He had to leave early and didn't get
back until late so Raymond and the boys had to do the chores, like feeding the stock,
milking the cows, gathering in the eggs, carrying in the nights wood and water. They also
had to clean the house and cook their supper. Raymond did most of the cooking and I
wouldn't say just how good it was, as he had not done much cooking until now. But
Charley would laugh and tell us about the winter that Raymond stayed with them. He said
they ate and didn't say much about it. While Raymond was staying with Charley he
bought himself a Model T car so he could come home when he wanted to.
Then there was the time we had prayer meeting at our house. It was a beautiful
moonlight night in late summer and was real warm. We had our meeting out in the front
yard. Dad had made some lights by using some long neck bottles that would hold a quart
of coal oil, or kerosene as it is called today. Then he twisted a piece of cloth into the bottle
as tight as he could, letting it extend to the bottom of the bottle and leaving a short piece
out to light. This made a very good light and would last several hours. He hung them all
around the edge of the yard, also using several lanterns. So we had lights all over the
place. He used wide boards for seats, placing a block of wood under each end to hold
them up. He used our kitchen chairs too. My Mom and I would lead the singing and
sometimes we would sing a special.
Well, now the meeting was over and everyone had left for home and we had taken
down all the lights and carried everything back inside. Oh! I said everyone had le~ only
Earl was still there and we were sitting on the spring seat which had been taken off the
wagon and placed under the front window. There wasn't any family around as they had all
gone to bed as it was getting late, close on to midnight. Well, there we were, just sitting
there courting, or "sparking". whichever, and to my surprise and delight, he proposed to
me. And would you know, at that very moment my mother stuck her head out the window
and said ,'41ts bedtime." of course, that meant for me to go to bed and for Earl to go home.
Well, I wasn't in any hurry to go so she waited about ten minutes and told us again. Well,
anyway, that was the rules for this family, for our beaus had to leave by ten o'clock and we
had to go to bed. a course this was prayer meeting night and we were allowed a few extra
minutes but we almost always waited for the second call.
Well, I didn't say yes that night but I would tell him the next time he came and I only
had four days to make up my mind for he would be back on Sunday. of course I had my
mind made up a long time ago, if and when he ever did ask me, which I was pretty sure he
was going to. I really didn't want him to see how glad I was so I just kept him waiting and
wondering what I was going to do.
So finally I did say yes and I had also decided to go back to Eldon and work for a
while that winter. There wasn't much to do this time of the year as most of the fall harvest
was already taken care of. Besides the family could get along without Raymond and me
anyway, as he was still working for Charley Lee. Corine and Ralph were still going to
school and Raymond usually came home on the weekends since he had bought a car. So
I had my things all packed and ready to go back with him. He took me on to Eldon and let
me off at Mrs. Burns' and she put me to work.
When Mrs. Burns could spare me, Raymond would come by and get me and we
would go home for a day or two. I remember one time when his girlfriend came home with
us. Rosie Sidebottom was her name. She was working at the pants factory and staying at
Aunt Jerusha's. We had trouble with the old car and when we came to a very steep hill it
wouldn't pull the hill. So Rosie and I got out and walked up the hill and Raymond would
turn it around and back up the hill as the gas tank was in the back of the car and wouldn't
feed the gas to the engine if the hill was real steep. But we finally made it home and back
without too much trouble.
Then Christmas came and I was so homesick to go home for Christmas. Never in
all of our lives had we missed being home for Christmas. But I began to wonder if
Raymond and I were going to make it this time1 as he was having trouble with the old car
and time was slipping away fast. But at the last minute, on Christmas Eve, we got started.
We stopped in Versailles and did our Christmas shopping. I had been saving my money,
which wasn't very much, for this very day. We went to Joquomia General Store, which
was the largest store in town at that time. We bought something for everyone in the family.
But what I remember the most was that I bought my mother a beautiful candy dish for
fifteen cents. It was glass of a dark amber with changeable colors of purple, blue and
green. My mom used it on the table as a pickle or jelly dish.
That was a good Christmas for us that year. It was 1924, and the last one we were
to ever spend in Camden County in our beloved Ozark hills and Camp Branch Holler near
the mighty Osage River. Raymond and I went back to our jobs. Mom and Dad and the
other kids loaded up our things and moved back to Morgan County, near Barnett,
Missouri, on the first of January, 1925.
From then on things were never the same. For on January of that same year, on the
23rd was Corine' 5 eighteenth birthday and along came John Allen and got her as he had
promised he would, back in 1922. My mother cried for weeks and weeks because she
didn't want her to marry John. I wasn't at home much after that and on the nineteenth of
August of that same year Earl and I "tied the knot" as the Hillbilly folks would say. We had
no children that lived, but adopted a boy when he was 22 months old. His name was Lee
One by one the little flock was "flying the coop". My brother Raymond got married to
Bessie Houston on January 29,1929. They had three girls. My baby sister got married to
Herman Turpin on August 27, 1934, and my brother Ralph married Wanda Houston in
July of 1939. They had three boys.
Nearly all of our Rock Dale friends were already married and some had ventured to
other parts of the country. My best school pal's family had moved to Oklahoma and she
had got married there. They had only been married a very short time when her husband
got drowned. They had a little girl named Louceil. She was eighteen months old when
Myrtle came back to Missouri to visit her grandpa and grandma. She stayed at our house
for a while. Then she met Heartly Sidebottom while going to these cottage prayer
meetings and married him. He was Earl's uncle.
My secret beau, Marshall, married Ethel Scott from the Purvis community. She was
teaching at the Hibdon School and was boarding at Aunt Sade's when he met her. My
best friend Grace Cram had won Lloyd Green's heart. He was a close neighbor boy. And
Amy Woods, the Baptist preacher's daughter and Corine's best friend, had eloped with
Bert Francis, a close neighbor boy that Amy's father did not like. It sure did make him
angry. When she didn't come home at all that night he went looking for her the next
morning. He went to everyone's house he could think of. He came to our house as he
knew that Amy and Corine were good friends. But no one seemed to know where they
Well, anyway, this is a natural trend of life. We are born into this world but in a few short
years we are no more. Time marches on and another generation takes our place. So the
time has come for me to close this chapter of our lives. It has been twenty-five years for
my mother and my dad, and, 1 must say, life had not all been a bed of roses. But time and
prayer blots out many tears and hardships and helps each of us to live an overcoming life.
All of our thanks and praises goes to our dear Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And I can
truthfully say that we Lee kids had a wonderful normal happy life.
Mother passed away in October of 1940, at the age of sixty-three She didn't even
make it to their fortieth anniversary. Dad passed away the fourteenth of December in
1960 at the age of eighty-two He had lived cut his four score and ten years, as was
promised to man in The Bible.
My brother Raymond passed away in October of 1962 at the age of fifty-eight years
and my brother Ralph passed away June 10, 1982, a the age of seventy4hree years.
There are only the three of us girls living. Corine's husband passed away in 1959. He was
fifty-four years old. Pauline's husband passed away in 1978 at the age of seventy-one.
This is 1985 and Earl and I are still here and we just celebrated our sixtieth anniversary on
Written by Effie (Lee) Hagerman
313 North Monroe Street