The Fire (circa 1906)
One day, Papa had to go to town to get some work done at a blacksmith shop. He took me with him. A small stream runs through Caldwell. The blacksmith shop stood on the northeast side of the stream, which was called Indian Creek, and a large livery stable stood on the southwest side of Indian Creek. I really can’t imagine how many horses were lodged in this building, but I would think there may have been 20 or 30.
While we were at the shop, a fire broke out in the livery. To me, it was quite a sight. We were probably about 200 feet from the fire. Of course, there was no fire department as we now have. I was more interested in the action. There were horses running in all directions. Men were going into the stable and loosing the horses or leading them out. Anyway, as soon as they would get a horse out, he would break away and run back into the fire. From later references, I would guess that nearly all horses stabled in the barn died.
Some time later, perhaps a couple of days, we went back to town and they had stacked all of the horse carcasses in a huge pile and were burning them. You can only imagine the stench. I suppose they could have buried them.
|alfalfa (photo courtesy wikimedia commons)
This incident occurred when we were all at a neighbor’s place putting up alfalfa hay. I think I mentioned above the large ditch, or high line as we called it, running through the area feeding branch canals. From an educated guess, I could say the high line was 14 to 16 feet wide and, of course, very deep – five to eight feet. The farmer had built a waterwheel, what for I do not know, downstream; and close to the wheel the farmer had made a bridge (foot) by placing a couple of 12” planks across the ditch.
|example of a waterwheel (photo courtesy wikimedia commons)
Bill’s 1st haircut (Fall of 1907)
I’m sure I didn’t mention this incident anywhere in this report, but I witnessed the dastardly act and the affect it had on our mother.
As you know, you Uncle Bill had very curly red hair, and for some reason, Mama wanted to keep him looking like a little girl? During threshing season, she had to go to town for supplies. One of the threshing crew sat Bill down on the wash basin stand and cut all the long curls off as well as the braid which was always tied with a ribbon. I don’t know where Papa was; maybe they both went to town. Anyway, when Mama got home and saw Bill, she just about flipped. I’m sure she could have killed the guy right there. It was a bum joke and maybe she should have killed him. She did save the braid and some curls for years.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned several times that economics was kind of tough. We seemed to always have plenty to eat, but very little money (I guess here that the barter system was pretty much in effect).
Of course, I can’t remember what my parents did for recreation or entertainment. I remember one year we went to Boise. The Scottish people were putting on a big wing ding and some girls doing the sword dance and Highland fling. Also on that trip, Bill and I were outfitted with boots (black) with a red top and a tassel at the top of each boot. I can imagine that we outgrew them rather rapidly.
The water springs
There is a lot of natural hot water coming out of the earth around Boise and extending east and north into the Sun Valley country and the Salmon River. Mama had a number of relatives living in that area, having cattle ranches and dairies. I remember only one visit to the area, but I’m sure there were several. We would go by train to Gooding and from there to Ketchum by stage, and we were picked up in Ketchum by some member of the family to go to their place.
|A to B: Caldwell to Sun Valley
The one thing I distinctly remember was the hot water springs. They had a log cabin – or house – which had two springs (large) bubbling out of the earth (guessing, I would say they were about 10 feet apart). One was boiling hot and the other was ice cold. I could stand on the edge of these pools and watch the men wash their milk cans in the hot water while you could get a nice cold dipper of cold water form the other pool. In Boise, they had what was called a natatorium or large covered swimming pool filled by hot water springs.
I’m sure we visited other relatives in Boise, but there was only one person that I remember, a woman, or girl, who had a deformed back, the result of falling out of a swing located on the front porch of their house. Mama could not let me near that swing for fear that I could be injured.
|Western History/Genealogy Department, Denver Public Library
Whenever a circus came to town (Caldwell), we would always go. I saw Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show a couple of times. He looked like the pictures of him, and he always rode a white horse.
Of course, there was the County Fair each year, but I believe I should go into that faze in the next era of this narrative since I was involved to some degree.
to be continued...