Monday, May 7, 2012

One Man's Journey - Part II

Oregon 1903
I don’t know exactly what Papa had when he traveled the 150 miles (approximately, since the road is now changed) from La Grande to Fort Boise. But I do know (was told) he had the dray wagon loaded with household goods and food for the animals and himself.

He had four horses and one cow. The trip took him a little over three weeks. The roads were not much more than trails. We can now cover the same distance in three hours. How he made it by himself will always remain a mystery.

Since I was very young at this point, I couldn’t tell what was going on, and it is hard to tell just when I began to remember incidents. Bill was born in Boise on July 23, 1905, so I think that is just about the starting point at 2-½ years old. There is one incident in particular that makes me believe this.

[When recording the information in this story, I have always referred to my little brother as Bill. He was a very large baby – 11 lbs. 12 oz. at birth. Someone suggested he be named the Duke. someone else suggested the Colonel – and as you know, he was always called Colonel. I have used Bill because it’s shorter and will continue to do so.]

First, I think I should tell you that Papa and, of course, Mama either homesteaded or purchased land three miles east of Caldwell, Idaho, approximately 25 miles west of Fort Boise and one mile north of the railroad tracks. I don’t know if the buildings were on the place when he got it. The buildings consisted of a tar paper shack, two barns and a privy; but, I can’t remember where the privy was located (or the well). I do remember the shack was a one room affair. I remember the location of the bed, kitchen range and table. We had two chairs that I can remember. (I have started a picture of the house and its environs and hopefully I’ll get it finished to help explain the details).

First Memories

For a little over 2-½ years, I had been king pin of the place. I had gotten all of the attention, so naturally, I must have been somewhat concerned when suddenly a fat redhead kid showed up and who sat on Mama’s lap where I had been sitting. It must have been enough to shake anyone up. I was very, very lonely. I don’t think I showed my disappointment too much, neither did I try to harm my new little brother.

As far as I can remember, the shack (house) had only one window. It was located about the center of the wall on the west side.

My mama was setting in a rocker with the baby. I was setting in a child’s rocker (Mildred’s) facing her. The western sun was streaming through the window and there were a number of flies buzzing lazily around. That was the moment that whole world had deserted me. From that time on until his death, Bill was part of my life.
Tule Lake Relocation Center, Newell, California. This view shows an irrigation ditch which supplies . . . - NARA - 538378
via Wikimedia Commons

While he was growing, things were happening to me. I’ve always been fascinated with water and to keep me out of the various irrigation ditches, Mama fastened an empty five-gallon kerosene can to me. The fences were built with barbed wire, usually two to three strands. I would put the can over the lower strand and then crawl under the strand of wire. Well, that didn’t work too well for me since I couldn’t go anywhere.

Mama raised quite a few turkeys and a number of geese. Those guys would peck me just about where a belt crosses one’s back; I still have the scars. As fast as I could run, I couldn’t get away from them.

The turkeys were not so lucky. They were fenced in a small area in the yard. I was able to get into the enclosure. Unfortunately, my loving methods were fatal for the little turkeys. That was the first time I remember being spanked. (HARD!!)

I used to visit a lady across the road who had a nice raspberry patch and she could make good cookies, too. She may have been a widow because I never saw a man around. One day, we were picking raspberries and she started to beat the ground. She had found a rattlesnake coiled in the shade. She then showed me where she had been bitten on her hand and the marks the snake had made with his fangs. She was treated by an Indian who used a chicken feather to spread some liquid on her arm, which had swollen almost to the bursting point. Probably later visits were confined to the house and the cookies. (Maybe more about rattlesnakes later.)

At this point, things were happening pretty fast for a couple of little boys, so it is hard to keep things in order. In order to tell you the next story, I think I should say a few! words about “Buckboard”. Maybe you already know, but I couldn’t find a description in the encyclopedia. I mentioned this vehicle somewhere above. I don’t think it is the same buckboard mentioned above unless Papa trailed it behind the wagon on the trip from La Grande, and that would be very unlikely.

Whoever invented the thing probably didn't have too much material to work with since it amounted to four wheels, two (2) axles, a floor attached to the axles, a seat which could be anything from a flat board to something that had a low back and sides to it. There were no springs. The sides and back of our seat had 4-6 inch pieces across the sides and back to prevent sliding off the back or sides. You weren't supposed to fall off the front of the seat.

It was pulled either by one horse or two. If only one horse was used, a pair of shafts were attached to the front axle. If two horses were used, then a tongue (wooden) was used. When shafts were used, only a single tree was necessary to fasten the tugs to. Our buckboard was used with two horses so a tongue was required, a yoke to hold the tongue up and a double tree to fasten the tugs to be able to pull the contraption. Actually, the vehicle was quite light, so normally only one horse could be used.
Buckboard Farmington Hills Michigan

to be continued...

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