Monday, May 14, 2012

One Man's Journey - Part III

Now that I have all of the above written, which was probably unnecessary, I’d better get on with the story.

The Runaway

National Archives photo
As near as I can figure, it was March or April 1906, so I was just past my 3rd birthday and Bill was nine or ten months old. Mama had to go some place so she hitched up a team to the buckboard. Being early in the spring, the horses had not been worked too much during the winter months. Consequently, they were extremely frisky and wanted to run, and run they did. Mama had placed me on the right side of the seat with Bill in the middle. Mama was a strong young woman, but it was an impossibility to hold two kids with her right arm and control the runaway team with the other (left arm). Anyway, it wasn’t long before we hit one of those culverts that, due to the weather, was partly out of the ground. You can imagine what happened to old buckboard. By this time, Mama was hanging onto Bill, and I was up in the air someplace. When I came down just in front of the rear wheel, I landed in a mud hole. Somewhere in that brief moment, I hit something on the left side of my head. I don’t remember much for a while. How Mama got the team stopped and turned around I’ll never know, for some reason I never asked her in later years.

We got back to the house okay. Papa was out in the field and Mama yelled and hollered for him to come quick. They stood me on the table to look at the wound. I guess it was pretty bad, because Mama suddenly said “There is his brains,” but it later developed that my skull was not penetrated; so, it must have been my white skull that shocked her. I don’t remember anything more about this incident. There were three outstanding things I remember – 1- horses running, 2- sitting in the mud hole, 3- standing on the table.

I don’t remember too much that was happening until Bill started to walk. At this point, things are quite jumbled. There were a lot of thing happening, but I don’t know in what sequence.

Chewing Tobacco

Union Leader Cut Plug
Joe Mabel(
There was the incident of chewing tobacco. Most men and some women chewed tobacco as well as smoked, so one day I go a hold of a piece of leather strap and decided to make a plug of chewing tobacco. Of course, Bill had to have a piece, so we took it out to the chopping block. Bill wasn’t much taller than the block, but he managed to hold the piece of leather so I could divide it with the ax. Fortunately, the ax was very dull except for a small area on the back side. I missed the strap and hit the back of his hand. The blade angled across the back of his hand, cutting off the first finger just above the joint.

You can imagine the screaming and hollering that ensued. The tip of the finger was hanging by a thin strip of skin. We both made a dash for the house. Mama immediately replaced the cut off tip and bound it with a cloth. We didn’t have such things as bandages and adhesive tape. I have no idea if she sterilized in any way, nor do I know if we went to the doctor. Anyway, the finger grew together okay, but it was always a little crooked. At this point, I would say that Bill was about one and a half years old and I would be about four.

Bill and the Runaway

Canyon City Mural (Grant County, Oregon scenic images) (graD0100)
Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons
Papa would go to town {Caldwell, Idaho} once in a while. He normally used what we called the lumber wagon, because he had to haul stock feed, coal and other heavy items. Whenever he returned from one of these trips, he always brought us some chewing gum. I can never forget standing at the corner of the shack with Bill and looking up at Papa waiting for him to toss the package. He looked like he was 10 feet in the air to two little guys, but as far as I know, he never disappointed us.

One day, he drove in and we were not there to meet him. He left the team standing still hitched to the wagon at the corner of the house. The lines were tied to the brake handle (yes, there were brakes on wagons). Papa went someplace. At this time, Bill and I showed up to get our treats. Since Papa wasn't there, Bill proceeded to climb up into the wagon. He could just about see over the side boards. I don't know what happened, but all of a sudden, the horses took off running, around the barn and then around the hay stacks. The horses were running hard, making a short circle around the hay stacks, so the dust was flying and so were the chickens and anything else in the way. I don't remember how Papa got them stopped, but I shall always remember Bill's little head sticking above the dashboard, hanging on for dear life.

to be continued...

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