Leo left me with several things to remember, but I must tell of his experience when we were all out making sorghum molasses one fall. Dad had just cleaned out the coals of fire and ashes in one of the earth-built furnaces where we boiled down the cane-juice into finger-lickin' good molasses. The hot coals and ashes were in a big pile, and Leo wasn't very old... just running around watching us all work. He started running and ran right through that pile of live, hot coals, and came out with both feet burned and blistered terribly. That took a few days of bandaging and doctoring and loving care, but he's been with us for a long time. He is now 75.
Mother, Aunt Ruby, Paul and Carl
Oh yes, I had a touch of life's bad experiences too. Ruby and I always milked the cows from the time we were big enough. We milked out in the barn yard, just wherever the cows stood. I had my cow milked and was waiting on Ruby to finish, so I just leaned up against a cow, waiting. Carl, too young to milk, decided he'd have some fun, so he twisted the cow's tail. She jumped and threw me to the ground and broke my arm in the elbow, so I have gone through life with a crooked arm; but I've worked all my life, and still love to work at almost 85. If the big rock my elbow hit hadn't been there, I likely wouldn't have broken my arm.
I must tell how, on Saturdays, before Model T days, we went to get our groceries and to my grandma's house. Dad had a home-made sled-type thing he would put the wagon-box on. He'd put straw in the wagon-box and we'd put home-made, heavy quilts or comforters on the bed of hay. Then Mom would wrap the big rocks she had heated up overnight on the old wood heater. She'd wrap them in heavy paper and line them up on one side of the wagon box, one for each child's feet to keep us warm during the six-mile ride to Grandma's house. Then, more heavy quilts went on top of us. Just picture five kids lined up in that wagon bed with Mom and Dad on an old spring seat. One time on our trip, Dad had to go across a big snowdrift in the road. The sled upset, and out rolled five kids, that many blankets, and all those warm rocks. Dad and Mom had to work so hard picking up kids, straw, and all, getting us ready to go on for four more miles to Grandma's house. Those rocks melted down in the snow bank. I'm glad I have that memory; we kids, with our teeth chattering, thought it was fun. Anyhow, Grandma's pot of beans tasted better than usual that day.
In 1928, when my sister got married to Lloyd, they took his sister and me along. I was almost 16, and his sister was 17. Lloyd had a one-seated old Model T coupe, and we four rode to Bethany for their courthouse wedding, performed by the judge. We took our lunch, a sandwich of some kind, since we had no money to buy a hamburger, even though hamburgers were six for twenty-five cents then. We ate our home-made sandwich with four of us packed in that car. Having my sister gone was something new; we had always slept in the same bed, and my three brothers all slept in one bed. Ruby and Lloyd had been married almost two years when their baby girl came along. She only lived four weeks, and then died of pneumonia. I about lived with my sister and her husband from May 3, 1928, until I was married in December, 1932; so we had lots of memories of picking wild raspberries, gooseberries, and blackberries. I am so very thankful for all those depression years. I was at my sister's place so much.
Her little boy was born in March, 1932, and I did my best to help her spoil him.
This was quite different than in 1915 when my oldest brother arrived in the family; I was 3 1/2 years old then, and my folks told me later that Ruby, my older sister, was just starting to school and was also happy at having a baby brother. So her country school teacher took the whole school (eight grades), around fifteen children, to our house to see that special little baby brother. My mom told me it was OK for them all to come in, but it frightened me; so I crawled under our old wood-burning range, which had legs high enough for me to get under (so the story goes). I stayed there till the whole school left. But we were proud that a boy had now arrived in our home, and for me it turned out to be great: From the time he was five years old until he was twenty, he was my special fishing buddy. If we wanted to take our poles (made from the old elm tree in the yard) with a hook, line and cork (or bobber) on Little Creek, Dad or Mom usually would let us go if we first weeded or hoed a couple rows in the garden. We were glad to do that, as we about always knew we'd catch a few fish, and Mom would dress them for supper. We usually took a sandwich apiece in a tin gallon bucket, and a half-gallon fruit jar full of well water, in case we got thirsty. Nothing can take away good childhood memories like that.
As time went on, two more boys were added to the family in 1919 and 1922; then in 1929 came the little sister, who only lived two days. I've said a lot about the 'teens and 'twenties, but so much of our younger years were so good, with our two loving parents.