Kinda looks like the Bedford's are petering out. Our great grandmother was the youngest and only girl of 21 children. It's said when their father went to the country store in the spring to buy straw hats for the 20 boys and suggested a reduction because of number, he was told to bring them in and they'd get hats free; so that number of children was unusual even then.
Grandmother, who was a Molyneux, was one of 17, father one of 13 and of us there were seven. Dropping to one seems almost like race suicide but son Dan reverses the trend with five and still going strong. Our seven were: Clara, Josephine, Carleton W., Lyman D., William H., Elizabeth, and Helen.
We got along well together under mother's wise directions and rather strict discipline. Father was too busy looking after outdoor activities and the chores, for we always kept a lot of stock, especially hogs of which he was one of largest raisers in Iowa.
Mother had taught school in Pennsylvania and knew how to handle kids. A willow switch was kept handy and used with effect. Can remember her saying how each swish hurt her as much as me and I assured her that it was O.K. to mutually forego the current pain. But her best and most used punishment was a dark closet off the kitchen. A few moments or hours in there in quiet meditation seldom failed to produce an agreement to go along as desired.
On account of his lameness, father seldom did hard work but did the planning for the hired men and drove to Reinbeck and Waterloo to take farm products to market and bring back the many things required by so large a family. Often he took some of us along and at noon we would sit on a barrel or keg in the general store munching crackers and a fresh slice of cheese. he often returned long after supper and mother would give him a cold snack--bread, butter, cold meat and cold boiled potatoes. Can remember sitting opposite him at table and watching him put a generous dab of our own home churned butter on his knife and drawing it thru the potato, leaving the butter on it, and then biting off the portion with the butter. Boy it looked good. Remember going to Waterloo, 15 miles away, on wagon loaded both ways so horses could not go faster than a walk. Returning late at night I lay on sacks of mill feed and watched the heat lightning and fireflies and tho scared stiff did not let on to father. He told me of the early days when he hauled to and from Waterloo and waded much of the way to keep warm and spare the team.
Iowa is the foremost agricultural state and Black Hawk one of its best counties and Lincoln, in its southwest corner, is perhaps one of its most uniformly fertile townships.
During the Civil War, father, as the eldest remaining son, was left in charge of the Jonas Bedford farm in Sullivan County, Pa. when his father and brother Edmund joined the Union Army. He would perhaps have been unable to join up anyway because of his youth, a stiff hip and being a "bleeder", a condition that the doctors at that time were unable as now to control.
His father and Edmund having returned from war, father followed the sage advice of Benjamin Franklin to "Go West Young Man". After working for others a year or more to get the lay of the land and see how things were done in a prairie state he selected a piece of land about 15 miles southwest of Waterloo. When this district was first taken up, the early settlers were from the Eastern states where there were lots of trees and streams supplying abundant fuel and water. Naturally they took up the land in the West most like what they were used to, settling along the rivers and streams in the woods that fringed their banks and leaving till last the far more fertile and better lying lands back on the rolling prairie.
Father, having scouted around, very shrewdly selected 560 gently rolling acres with scarcely any waste in a neighborhood seldom equaled for fertility. One of his first acts was to send back to Forksville Pa. for Martha Whitely, his sweetheart, who busied herself teaching school while awaiting his summons to join him in the West. All around the Bedfords were other 100% American settlers. To the north was William Hicks of grand old English Stock and brother of Steve Hicks, partner of father in early days in running a threshing machine. At that time present day combines were unknown and the grain was separated from straw by threshers pulled from place to place by horses and run by a horse power which was a real merry go around with real horses and a man in the center with a long whip to keep tugs all taut.
To northwest were Whites; to west some distance away were Salsberrys; on the south Ingalls; farther south Two Times Jake, where one of first creameries in Iowa was to be located; still farther south the Barretts; and to the east Mr. Wyatt who had no fingers on one hard. Also our good friends the McManus family. George, the oldest son, went to West Point and has had a brilliant army career. Tom, in spite of infantile paralysis, became a fine Eye, Ear and Nose Specialist. Oscar, a shoe salesman and merchant. Alice became Mrs. Steve Hicks and raised a fine large family on a wonderful 5 section ranch near Tracy, Minn., the house on the central section and the others on each side of the central one. Mr. McManus was somewhat absent minded. One time when digging a well he jumped down in it when about 10 feet in depth just to see how it looked from inside and had no way of getting out. After yelling for Sallie to bring a ladder most of the afternoon it dawned on him that she was over in Illinois on a visit but by a Herculean effort he finally go out.
One Sunday Oscar was over visiting us and a terrific rain storm came up and night coming on mother persuaded him to stay all night. Noting his absence later, we wondered what had become of him. A knock on the door and there he was, wet and bedraggled from his trip home across the fields to tell his mother he was going to stay all night on account of the storm and not to worry. Farther north on the Diagonal Road lived Aunt Sally and Uncle John--really our Aunt but also Aunt to the whole community. Near them our closest friends the Taylors. Mrs. Taylor was a Hicks. Clem, Thode, Mary, Henry, Marthe, and John, the last four, were about our ages and we visited back and forth a lot, mostly on Sundays.
So much for the neighbors. They were all friendly and I can remember of neither father nor mother ever having any differences with them. We visited back and forth mostly on Sundays. On the Lincoln farm, tho only five or six years old, it was my job to drive in the cows for milking which was done in the farm yard summers as it was cooler than inside and less troubled with flies. As I was rounding up the cows one late afternoon one did not join the rest but stayed off in the weeds. I went over to get her and found she had a new born calf. I looked it over, rousing her wrath and she started to hook me, pinning me against the ground but luckily I was so small that I slipped right between her horns. Meanwhile hollering for help--out comes Jo from nowhere with a big club and whacked the cow's head and rescued a badly scared blubbering lad.
We put our hay in the barn loft by means of a hay fork pulled up by a horse on which they let me ride. One day I was trying to help by hauling on the rope and my hand was drawn into the pulley. The flesh was burned out of inside to cords and bones. Uncle Alfred, who was practicing in Reinbeck, was sent for and did a good job of saving the use of my right hand.
Uncles Edmond and Lyman often stopped enroute to Grandpas and when one of them came we would one after another get in a chair for examination and casual fixing of our teeth. Perhaps this early attention accounts for our all having our own teeth.
We had an ice house that was filled each winter with ice from a nearby pond. Often the cakes of ice contained bullheads and we chipped these out of the cakes and put them in tubs of water and soon they would be swimming around lively.
We had no bath tubs in those days and on Saturday nights mother would heat a tub of water to set in middle of kitchen floor after supper so we could one after another take our weekly bath. In winter we had trouble with pump freezing so after bringing in the water for supper we would raise the wooden pump handle causing the water to gurgle back down in well. Next morning we would take a tea kettle of hot water to prime the pump. For winter heat we used hard coal and had a bulging burner with ising glass that seemed to add to its cheerful warmth. In the cook stove we used willow wood which gave out short lived heat but we had lots of it for when father first took over the land the state paid a bonus for trees and he planted willows along the roads. We always had a carefully ricked pile of the willow wood located strategically midway between the chick sale and the kitchen so we could bring along an armful of wood. A Spartan touch was father's paying me a nickel to run out to the "chic sale" thru the ice and snow in by bare feet. Could be that the source of the general family constipation might to attributed to that same situation which necessitated one's putting off to the last minute so his stay there in the bitter cold would be as brief as possible.
In the winter we wore felt boots and heavy woolen underwear. We slept upstairs where heat was only that of stove pipe going thru from below. On real cold nights mother would heat a soap stone or flat iron and wrap it up and put it between the blankets for our feet.
When riding in cutter or bobsled we had two buffalo hides father had picked up while there were still buffalo. A heated soap stone or lantern also were used for warmth. We had no storm windows and frost on panes was half an inch thick.
Occasionally when things went against me I'd run away--always north and mother would send Jo who would find me under a culvert and patch things up. One evening when we children were invited over to neighbor Whites for supper I was evidently thwarted in some manner and had a tantrum and slip beneath the table from which I refused to emerge and ate there. When we reached home and mother heard about it I was really in the doghouse for a month or more. I still am ashamed.
Having our own ice and cream we often made ice cream especially when we had Sunday visitors. Once when Aunt Sally was there I asked her to put my ice cream in the oven so I could eat it faster. She got a big kick out of that. In winter Clara and Jo would take snow and cream and vanilla and make what we thot was pretty tasty ice cream.
My size worked to my advantage for because of my light weight I not only rode the horse on the hay fork but during harvest one of lead team on the binder and after our oats were cut I rode lead for neighbors being paid the princely sum of 50 cents per day--- dawn to dark. This was first money I ever earned.
Father thot there was more money in hogs than in any other stock because they matured so quickly. Before the days of trucks getting these fat hogs to town was a problem. Starting about 3:00 A.M. while it was cool we would drive them to Reinbeck 5 1/2 miles distant. It was a job. Many of the over fat ones would become so exhausted that they'd lie down and defy all efforts to get them up. Then they would have to hoisted into a following wagon and what a job that was with a 300 to 400 pound mass of squirming and squealing mess of lard and sow belly. Every few years cholera would sweep thru the herd and take all but a very few. In later years when cholera struck we loaded the whole caboodle on cars and sent them to Chicago and those still alive sold on the market and we got 50 cents a hundred for the dead.
A mile north of us was "the prairie" a section of land that had never been broken or fenced. Visiting the Taylors one day, Thode said there was a flock of geese on a pond in the "prairie" and he'd show us how to get some of them. We drove a herd of cattle down to the pond keeping well concealed among and behind them. The geese were not alarmed by a herd of cattle coming to drink and we were able to get almost among them before they took off and Thode got a couple of nice Canadian honkers.
To catch rabbits we made box traps that tripped when they touched the apple or vegetable bait and when there was a light fall of snow we'd look for them in newly broken sod catching them with our hands as they huddled in a loop of the sod.
Father had planted rows of willows along the road causing the snow to drift deeply along them. Going to school, instead of walking the road we always walked over or thru the drifts.
We generally had a hired girl who was paid $2.00 per month and two hired men who got $20.00 in summer and their board only in winter. They were treated like members of the family and ate at the family table. Joe Maerlein, a German, was with us for years and took over the farm on cash rental basis when father had sale and quit farming to drop most of his hard earned cash in the southern California boom which busted in 1888. Father's Auction Sale was one of largest if not the very largest held in Iowa up to that time. He picked a time for closing out in a period of inflation and got high prices for the large number of horses, cattle, and hogs.
He was a young man to retire but perhaps was aware of family trend to reach business ability apex before fifty and slip back thereafter.
Subsequent experience proved it was a mistake not to move back onto old place instead of buying another on Black Hawk near Hudson tho this was no doubt done because Joe Maerlein was on old place with a lease and school facilities were better at Hudson.
No school buses or Rural High Schools in those days. Our first school was 1 1/2 miles north on corner of the prairie section. Later a single room school house was built 1/2 mile south of our house and that's where I started to school. Teachers got $20.00 to $30.00 per month and boarded around the neighborhood.
Soon after father started farming he bought a black yearling colt and they named it Fred for some unknown reason. He grew up to be a good, willing, faithful, general utility farm horse. Because of his gentle disposition he became a great favorite among us children. With only a bridle we would lead him up to the gate and all five scramble on his back, each one clinging to the one ahead--piloting him around at a slow walk; when he went up a hill all might slide back off his tail but he would just stand there waiting for us to get back on. As he grew older he became an iron gray, a light gray and finally a dead white color. When we had the auction sale Fred was kept and taken along to Waterloo and then to Hudson farm. He became blind but we rode him and drove him in a cart tho he had such a tough mouth it was almost impossible to guide him and hold him.
Returning from Hudson one day with Mrs. Ecklos, who did our washing, he bolted and I succeeded in turning him in at our neighbor's driveway and into their barn door; shedding harness, cart, Mrs. Ecklo, and me. I was badly scared and Mrs. Ecklos swallowed her cud of tobacco. Have seen women smoke pipes and cigars but she is only one I ever saw chew tobacco.
Fred had the run of the barn and barn yard and none of the other horses resented his presence or encroachments. Our horses were kept two to a stall and when they could not get along peaceably we would put old Fred in with the mean one and he always seemed welcome. On the Hudson farm we missed him for a couple of days and knew it was not like him to wander off so father told me to look for him. Finally I noticed a black head and ears sticking up from the soft muck of a spring in pasture and there he was mired down with only his head sticking up. Father seemed to know what to do and his method was drastic but effective. He had us hitch a chain around Old Fred's neck and yank him out with a heavy team. After a few days and a lot of dousing with water he resumed his old whiteness. When short a horse for farm work we often used him to fill in with his old time spirit. He would lead his co-workers but as the day went along his energy would fade till he dropped behind hardly able to keep going; much less help pull the load but next morning he'd be out in front again. But he was getting old and stiff. Could not get up without help so he stood for months at a time even sleeping that way. End came at 31 years after a long life of faithful service and it seemed like losing one of the family.
In 1887 we were living in Waterloo. After leaving farm, father's brothers Edmund, Lyman and Alf wrote him from Calif. telling him of the boom that was on and the unbelievable fortunes that were being made with little effort. This was the most hectic time in Calif. history. Railroad fares from East were made a low as $1.00 to increase the influx. Father decided on a looksee and mother who no doubt was the more conservative of the two thot she better go along and took Besse who was a babe in arms and Will who was about seven. The other four of us were sent up to Rushmore to spend the winter with our grandparents. Aunt Mina, Uncle Dan and little daughter were also there which made it fine for all of us tho crowded.
Grandfather was some guy. He ruled with a rod of iron or rather a cane with hook on end which he would thrust out so fast that he would be drawing a culprit to him before he even realized that trouble was brewing--and generally I was the drawn one. Grandfather got arthritis in Civil War and his hips were stiff so he walked on crutches and when he sat in chair he was about half standing up. Went upstairs backward as he had use of knees. Very religious and constantly singing. Kept a constant supply of hard peppermint candy which he nibbled at and once in a great while shared with us kids. I was about 9 and 'tis said I kept things pretty well stirred up in school. We were deadly afraid of grandfather and one look from him just about slayed us.
We often had boiled beans and as is sometimes the case these would have a semblance of sprout that looked like a worm. Tho I just knew these were worms, I grimly swallowed them down rather than protest and incur the rath of grandfather.
Aunt Mina and grandmother made things fine for us and we had many new and interesting experiences.
Winter of '88 still stands out as that of the great blizzard and we were in the midst of it. Could not go to school and had to stay indoors. Remember seeing a covered handsled going by with a woman on it who had frozen to death. Trains did not get thru for weeks and when they did there were open coal cars filled with frozen cattle on their backs with feet sticking up showing how they had perished on their feet.
Uncle Lath and Aunt Alida made our stay pleasant and we spent a lot of time with them. On Saturdays I went to Uncle's store and packed the eggs he took in trade in oats so they would not break. No egg cartons in those days.
Returning from Calif. father, after dropping all his ready cash, doubtless felt somewhat hard up and the necessity of getting 3 active sons outside city influences and where they could not only learn how to do things on a farm but be helpful in getting him back on his feet. Evidently still resourceful he purchased a 377 acre farm 3/4 miles southwest of Hudson and most of it lying along the Black Hawk Creek. Tho perhaps a better location, quality and lay of land did not compare with old farm in Lincoln Township. We generally got along with one man who was often a new-comer Dane.
We three boys were a problem especially Will and I. We were eternally scrapping, not mad at each other but picking and nagging so we were very little use doing chores or in the fields. Father partially solved this situation by putting one of us to work with the hired man, the other with more serious and steadier brother Carl. Will was bigger than I tho no stronger nor more active and I could beat him in a wrestle or scrap and made it a point to keep him impressed with my ability to do so. In fact when a neighbor boy of Will's size and age visited us I took on the two of them with good results according to my not very modest way of thinking.
An Iowa hog and cattle farm of that day always had an abundance of cobs in the pens and barn yard. We even stoked the cook stove with those from the sheller. These cobs were an ever-ready missile and seldom a day passed that Will and I did not in best Indian tradition from concealment behind barn, corn crib, wood shed or hedge, shower each other with these ill-smelling things freshly gathered from the hog pen. We were wary of father's catching us at this and when he showed up around a building we were always palzy-walzy. One day when he had set me to work in the garden Will flipped a few from behind a shed and I retaliated with some well selected clods of dirt. Unknown to us father was observing things and tho not an active man he grabbed me by the seat of the pants and tossed me clear over the 5 foot garden fence.
I had a nice light 20 gauge shot gun and rather than purchase ready loaded shells I had some brass shells I loaded with powder and shot. When one of these missed fire I punched out the cap setting it off not only getting badly cut up but scaring mother and having gun taken away from me for a year.
I was not much for work, in fact was so light I really could not do heavy work but could handle a team nicely and I often worked this situation to my advantage. I didn't like to milk so after supper when someone was supposed to go to Hudson for the daily paper and being the youngest Will had first chance. I took over the job by stressing the spooky goings on I had noticed thru the fence as I passed the cemetery. In the morning I avoided milking by having to get an early breakfast and hitch up team to take milk to creamery. We had a spotted team of mares, Belle and Nell, former the latter's mother and much slower. Near Hudson the creamery was in a hollow approached from both east and west by long sloping hills. Arriving at Shaffner's at top of hill one could look across and see any other milk wagon coming down opposite hill so in order to be first to unload we ran our teams for it. Belle was a slow old poke and in order to get up speed I both whacked her with end of lines and yelled, "Get up Belle" at the top of my voice.
Much to my surprise Mr. Thompson, who lived half way down the hill called me aside one Sunday after church and in a kindly, whimsical way said, "Lyman I know Belle does hate to get up but it is hardly necessary for you to call her nearly every morning."
Later Mr. Alexander started a milk route so I lost my morning job.
One day when he was loading up our cans I hid behind a nearby tree and yelled "Alexander the Great Commander, shot a goose but killed the gander. "Unfortunately my ever vigilant mother overheard it and invited me back of the house for you know what.
Carl was not up to much devilment but Will and I kept things stirred up. We made pipes out of cobs using hollow weeds for stems and smoking corn silk instead of tobacco. On the south side of the corn crib was our favorite rendezvous.
I had bought a bronco for about $10.50 at a sale where they were being sold from a carload shipped in from the West. One day when Will and I were fussing in the barn, father came upon us and gave us a good scolding. After he left I announced I was leaving home and would no longer suffer such unbearable conditions. Will asked what I was going to do about my bronco and I told him he could have it. That was a mistake.
Walking west on the Railroad track mulling over my various grievances. It soon became a little chilly and I got hungry and decided I'd better go back but I can well remember what I planned to do the next time and the thot kept intruding, "Why next time? Why not now when you have already taken the fatal step?" My return was somewhat embarrassed by Will's insistence that the pony was his by gift. He razzed me about that for a long time and I lacked an adequate comeback.
One of my chores was to get up the cows from the Black Hawk pasture below the railroad. Much of this was wooded with lovely oaks. There were some fish in the creek-- bullheads, suckers, sunfish, and a few bass and pickerel. I kept a cane pole and line in a tree and found time to fish awhile when cows were supposed to be across the creek. Often Will went along and we stripped and went in swimming. Across the creek Joe Slusher had set out a race track in our pasture. Just to be doing something we'd run around the half mile track in nude even tho there was a nearby road.
One day after a heavy rain when I went for cows they were across the creek which was bank full. I studied the situation and decided I could hold my breath a couple minutes, surely long enough to walk under the water across the creek. Leaving my clothes on the bank I plunged in but luckily took along an inch board about two feet long. Blub-blub and I was splashing around in the swift current but hanging onto the board. After floundering with the current a few rods my knees touched a sandbar and I was across. But what a fix to be in. Wrong side of creek and naked. Only bridge at Hudson and I could see myself dashing thru town much to the amusement of onlookers. I however drove the cows across the creek which they had to swim, landing on a bar below. All went across except the old Brandhorst cow, she hung behind the rest and did not seem to want to leave me on the north side. I grabbed her meaning and also her tail and over she went with me whipping thru the water behind her.
As 4th of July approached there was a lot of rivalry between east and west sides of Hudson. Each tried to set off the most spectacular fireworks. Bill Sheerest, manager of Lumber Yard, was on our side and did most of it.
Halloween was one of our most look for holiday. Chic Sales were tipped over, buggies installed on porch and roofs. Lee Popp and I spent couple of laborious hours putting an 80 pound shoat in our upstairs school room. Next morning when we came to school it stood with its front feet on window sill looking out.
In our woods were some fine walnut and butternut trees. We harvested these and ran them thru the corn sheller to remove the hulls and then spread them out on a shed roof to dry.
Each spring and fall the Indians from Tama reservation south of us went thru on their way to and from the "Big Woods". There would be a hundred or more of them; bucks, squaws and children. Bucks on horseback, the squaws on foot behind their tents and belongings which were half carried, half hauled on two poles fastened to pony sides and let drag behind. They wore blankets of bright colors and were interesting to watch. When they hove in sight on hill to west we would gather any unburied hens and throw them in road for them to carry off. One night about 9:00 P.M. a big buck knocked at our back door and asked if we had not recently lost a fat hog. Father told him yes but it had been buried days before. The Indian asked where and came back next day and dug it up.
At school we had various teachers, some fine, others more of the old school like Benson Crownover who used to help us during haying and was strong and active in spite of his age of 60 or more.
One day I did something that started him for my vicinity so I sat tight grasping the seat on both sides. He grabbed me by shoulder but only got my shirt. His favorite expression was "spry as a cat 67 years old" and I would reply, "a cat of that age would not be very spry" but he never changed his wording.
A tragic end came to Orville Eighmey, son of a neighbor, who was working for us. He, Will and I were shocking oats far from house when a black thunder storm threatened and we started for house. When we came to railroad Orville leaped off and opened gates and then instead of rejoining us started for house on foot. A flash of lightning struck him down as he ran along the fence. The rain was falling in sheets I hitched horse to open seat- less buggy and ran it to Hudson for Doctor but nothing could be done.
We went to Baptist Church at Hudson. Often five of us were in the Choir, Besse playing the organ and rest of us singing. Were interested in the girls a little too. Used to see them home from church. Even went to Prayer Meeting and sat behind row of girls and after getting up from knees lo and behold we would be in same row with them.
Remember distinctly how sore I was when I asked a girl to have some ice cream with me at Wilson's and he asked me if I wanted dish with two spoons.
We had a big powerful team of gray mules that I worked. One day I was down on bottom mowing hay and whenever I came to end near the woods the mules snorted and appeared terrified. Finally they bolted and I fell off but luckily not in front of the sickle. Running at top speed to the end of piece of clover they remembered their training, stopped, turned the corner and were standing there when I caught up.
Mr. Vaughan traveled a stallion from farm to farm. When he'd come to our place he would call me aside and say, "Lyman as I came thru Hudson I saw a man with one side of his face white." Duly impressed I'd ask him what color was the other side and he'd reply "white too" and then he'd have a big laugh and go thru the same performance next time he came.
Just a little tribute to good old Jo who always knew where to look for our underwear and socks.
We had a light driving team that could sure hit the road tho one was always a little ahead of the other. We had these for years and they were known the country over. Will used to drive them to Waterloo to see his girl and come home late at night and sleep all the way to awaken only when they rumbled across the sidewalk at home.
We did not have a smoke house so father took a piano box and set it on and using cover for a door. He put hooks in top to hang the hams on and up about three inches of dirt on bottom to build fire on. I gathered cobs in the pig pen to burn and furnish the smoke. He was very careful to look after the smoking process himself so I did not pay much attention to how it was done. One day he told me to build a fire under the hams and to cover it up well. After I had the fire going good I covered it well with more cobs instead of with dirt which would have made lots of smoke but no flames. Soon the box was belching smoke and flames thru every crack and cranny and the hams were half cooked. I certainly got the dickens and we had ham three times a day for two weeks.
There was an old batch in Hudson Named Bert Hall and he was quite a character. One Sunday afternoon he drove up in a newly pointed buggy dressed in his best Sunday go to Meeting clothes and said he had come to see Clara. We hardly knew him but Clara visited with him. We kidded her a lot about her new beau. The next Sunday here he came again and told father he came to ask his permission to marry Clara. We kids thot this had gone about far enough so we took a half dozen eggs and put them under his seat cushion so when he sat down they all squashed and made a mess of things. He finally married another girl and I went to the charivari but he would not even come to the door, much less treat us.
When I was about 13-14 and not only very small but spindling, mother thot perhaps a change of climate might start me growing again so I was sent for summer to Uncle Dor's on farm between Jackson, Minn. and Spirit Lake, Iowa. They were a delightful family consisting of Uncle Dor, Aunt Jonie, Fred, Irving, and Carrie.
I had an old single barreled muzzle loading shot gun which I loaded with powder, paper wad, then shot and another wad, firmly tamped with a ramrod and finally a cap. With this I shot a lot of black birds which we ate and one unsuspecting prairie hen.
Uncle had a flock of sheep, old ewes and lambs. He butchered some of the ewes that were too old for further use and their meat was really the toughest I ever encountered. In fact it was hardly possible to stick a fork in the gravy
Riding to town one day on load of sacked grain I fell asleep and on awakening asked Uncle why we were returning home. He assured me we were not. I was turned around and stayed that way balance of my stay. To me the sun rose in west and set in east.
When I prepared to leave for home Uncle said if I stayed and helped with the haying he would pay me. My job was mowing and raking the wild slough grass about a mile from the house. Had two mowers each with gunny sack on seat to ease somewhat the hard riding. Hitching up one morning I noticed lots of bees and when I went to get on the seat there was a swarm of bees hanging on sack. What to do. That being the better machine I tried to switch bees to other by carrying sack to other seat. Result was bees clinging to both mower seats and I had to return to house.
Another day I noticed an old ewe on wrong side of fence and thot I'd drive her ahead of team till we came to a gate where she could be returned. Sitting on mower I could not keep her in sight so I stood up on seat to watch her over horses' heads. Coming to a rough spot I lost my balance and fell with one foot thru each wheel. Frightened I yelled "Whoa" and fortunately the team stopped and I extricated myself without injury. When starting home I missed train I had written home I'd take, so there was no one to meet me at midnight when I arrived at Reinbeck. Anxious to get home 11 miles away I set out on railroad track. Was dark and spooky and this was not helped when couple roughly dressed men caught up with me and openly discussed robbing me but did not tho they surely had me scared.
Arriving home I found folks had gone to Raits at Morrison for night when I was not on train as expected.
Had fine time at Uncle Dor's and think my visit did me a lot of good.
Hudson having no high school all of us attended Normal about 8 miles north of Hudson. Carl and I roomed together and were in same classes having only one set of books. For reasons of their own perhaps, after the first few sessions we were invariably seated in front row where Carl was addressed as "Mr. Bedford" and I as "Lyman" and I didn't like this.
We had military drill which was considered quite a bore and something to get out of if possible. I was both short and light weighing only 85 pounds but no weakling. Given a gun my shoulder would sag and droop till one look brought dismissal for the day.
Because of my size I was enlisted in the Preparatory football team, but made a sorry showing having never seen a game and had no idea what I was supposed to do.
But the saddest blow of all was one day when I asked for ticket to Hudson and the station agent asked if I wanted half fare. Said he could see I was only a kid. Another embarrassment was when Jo was going to Normal and I drove her up arriving there too late to return before dark so she prevailed on me to stay all night and had me sleep on the floor right there where not only she slept but her swell looking room mate.
In the fall father sent for us every Friday P.M. and we had to pick up potatoes and other tasks wholly beneath "college men."
We ate in clubs run on co-operative basis and believe it or not rates were often as low as $1.05 per week--about what a meal would cost now.
Carl had quit Normal to go in Bank in Hudson and when father asked me if I'd like to go in the Bank at Reinbeck I thought it a great opportunity. I was janitor and bookkeeper. Got $21.00 per month and saved enough to buy a bicycle to ride home week ends.
Stayed at Mr. Wilson's for couple months till Clara and Doctor got settled and then lived with them which was swell arrangement.
Mr. Wilson was an old fashioned banker. He would call me to his desk and tell me things that I have found since were wise and well thought out. Our loans were all unsecured, made from a personal standpoint. He told me to avoid loaning to preachers, threshers and stud horse men. I stood in profound awe of him and feared to incur his displeasure.
I mopped the well worn and splintered floor with an immense sponge. On frosty mornings Mr. Wilson would say, "Lyman have you noticed that on a cold day a lazy man steps just as lively as any other?" Hope he didn't mean me.
Lying in bed one night I got to worrying about whether I had locked the bank door and got up, dressed and went down to find all OK.
We went to Bank at 8:00 A.M. and stayed till 6:00 P.M. and the Bank was open for business during that time. At 4:00 P.M. we would strike a balance, counting the cash and what came in after that went on next day's business. Never saw this done elsewhere.
Mr. Wilson wanted me to always be busy. If he saw me doing nothing he would give me a handful of bills and tell me to straighten out the corners.
Doctor had a large practice, much of it in the country for which he had a spirited sorrel team that would surely cover the ground.
It was at Reinbeck I got in the habit of taking a little nap after lunch. Without it I often dozed off at my high desk and I feared Mr. Wilson would catch me at it.
Spanish American War was on, and the hullabaloo over those who joined up was a great contrast with the matter of fact exits of our boys in World War II and since.
Before the day of adding machines we used the old Boston Ledger and I added up all the balances every day and got to be fast and accurate. I admitted it. Tho last of the month Mr. Horstman, our teller, would take over so I could work on pass books. He would add it up in half the time it took me and seldom miss hitting a balance the first time.
We did the bookkeeping for the farmers and most of the business men. In many instances 12 to 15 pages of names had to be written in a passbook and each page added and amount brought forward.
I ran around with the High School crowd and really enjoyed my stay in Reinbeck. Living with Clara and Doctor made it almost like living at home.
While there father passed away at just about the time Dewey took Manila in the Philippines.
The fall of 1900 after 1 1/2 years in Reinbeck and year at Hudson under Carl, I decided I wished to continue my college education. Being 21 years old I was able to enter S.U.I. as a "special" even though I had not had the required preparatory work. But along with regular work I had to make up lacking subjects at Iowa City Academy the first couple of years. During Senior year I carried also law. Had I to do it over I would not be loaded down with so much work and would enter more into the recreational and social aspects of college life.
I took a minor part in the usual college politics being defeated for Freshman President and Manager Junior Annual but was successful in electing my man President of Senior Class with my resulting appointment as head of lucrative Senior Class Play. Was also President of Zitagathian and member of Dramatic Club and "Royal Cup Bearer" of Junior Honor society.
Roomed with Frank D. Kern of Reinbeck the whole four years and tho much younger than I and taking few of same subjects we were great pals. We did the usual foolish things. Were involved in Freshman--Sophomore scrap and I got thrown thru large plate glass P.O. window. Inquiry revealed it was insured which was a relief to me. We took trips over to Grinnell generally beating our way on the blind or a freight. Thought that rather smart.
Recall the time we rode on flat car and had written the Reinbeck girls to expect us on a certain passenger train. We were in coveralls over our good clothes and planned to jump off near town, conceal coveralls in a familiar culvert, hide in woods on other side of track and when passenger train came in alight on depot platform thru car platform. The girls were there but alas the engine huffed and puffed without slowing up till it stopped right at depot with us sitting in a row on the side of the flat car.
Invited to a weekend house party at Colfax near Des Moines I found it necessary to get back for Monday classes and I had only $.50 so elected to travel via the blind. Made it to Brooklyn but was evidently detected and train stopped on outskirts and I leaped off closely pursued by the threatening brakeman. Backing up to keep a watch on him so I could regain blind soon as he waved train ahead, I backed up against a steep bank and lost my footing. The Brakie swung his heavy lantern and cut open my cheek to bone beneath my left eye. Blood ran down my face and onto my clothes and I felt the necessity of a Doctor's attention. Tho it was midnight I found one and he fixed up the cut and I paid him the $.50--seeking him I saw a sign on office door that I have never forgotten. It was "Doctor Lawyer Dentist". evidently there was a Dentist by the name of Lawyer.
Being busted I again went down to railroad yards and crawled into hay rack of a cattle car arriving at Iowa City next morning. My face was a sight and I stayed in room for week and Frank brought my meals. I got kind of used to my looks which I said arose from bumping into a door in dark and thought I'd go home for a weekend but one look at me and mother shooed me out of town.
While at Iowa City, had letter from Uncle Lath asking if I'd come and run his Bank while he took a California trip. Arriving there day before his departure I told him he better show me the run of things. His little Bank had been outgrowth of his General Store and was what is known as a private Bank.
Looking over books I found neither expense nor profit and loss accounts. I asked him what he did if he needed to buy a broom or something else necessary. Or what if someone came in and paid their interest. He said he paid bills out of his pocket where he also put what came in. Said however it might not be good if I did same so told me to open accounts.
Safe was not just that and he told me not to keep more than 600 in cash so when a check in excess of that came in I just told them to wait till noon train came in and then I'd phone to Adrian Bank for it.
Lot of doings by the young folks and we often went on picnics or off for weekends and I was told to lock up and put sign on door, "Call the store" just like Uncle did.
One evening some business men told me in strict confidence that there were a couple very suspicious characters in town and their actions indicated the Bank was to be robbed that night. They very generously supplied me with a shot gun and I lay all night in a little cubby hole over the Bank entrance with the gun stuck out the window ready for any emergency. Nothing happened!
After graduating at S.U.I. in 1904 and returning to Waterloo where mother had moved, I applied for a job at Black Hawk National and became a bookkeeper at $50.00 per month. A number of my friends were on Board, i.e. Jim Loonan, George Johnson, Alec Glenny, Dr. Small, Ralph Law as assistant cashier so with help of these and a lot of hard work, I rapidly advanced to teller and assistant cashier and having acquired 10 shares of stock was elected a Director.
Those were boom day in Waterloo and its 11 banks were involved more or less in the activity. All went under during the following debacle excepting one, the over conservative Waterloo Savings.
I did not think highly of the Black Hawk management and was in the mood for a change.
I enjoyed my stay in Waterloo and became acquainted with Hazel, an East-sider and like me she also thought the wide-open spaces of the last West would be the ideal place to start out.
Matt Johnston, who stayed at Waterloo Y.M.C.A., was salesman for J.I. Case Threshing Machine Co. and in the fall after threshing season in Iowa he was sent to southern Alberta to collect on machines sold there on time. He came back enthused by the big wheat crops and money to be made there by buying CPR lands and raising wheat or reselling land. I told him to buy a half section and we would own it jointly. He picked a nice level half about 2 1/2 miles north east of Parkland and that was our first venture in Alberta. Paid $16.00 per acre, 1/10 down.
We talked Alberta and its great future every week end and somehow Ed Middleton, who was a mail slinger on railroad and a good friend of Matts, was included in the conferences. We got so enthused that there seemed no future to our jobs in bank, threshing machines and mail slinging. We decided to take the big step and go west and carve out the fortunes so temptingly awaiting our entry into the "Big Adventure".
I sensed that after Ed and I had quit our jobs, Matt wondered if he had not talked too much and taken on quite a lot of responsibility.
Ed and I and Herman Paul who thought he'd like to get in on the easy money went to Claresholm, Alberta and were driven out to see the available lands by Milnes and Noble the CPR Agents. We found that all the most desirable lands near town had been taken up.
The CPR owned the alternate sections in each township excepting sec. 29 reserved for schools and sec. 8 reserved by Hudson Bay Co., the original owner of all lands.
We were taken out in a double seated buggy drawn by horse. All was slightly rolling prairie free of brush, trees and stone. We wondered how Milnes knew the where abouts of the land he was showing. When the land was surveyed many years before on each section corner four holes were dug and the soil heaped in middle and an iron Government stake driven in and on this stake was chiseled section number, township and range. Many of these stakes were missing, having been pulled up by cowboys and used to stake their broncos. In order to spot the corners, Milnes tied rag around rear wheel and using compass or sun for direction counted the requisite number of revolutions and sure enough there would be the next sec. corner.
About 24 miles north of midway between Stavely and Parkland he showed us a nice section with a southern slope running down to a shallow lake, sec. 7-15-24 west rth. As the lake cut into the northwest 1/4 we took only 3/4 and took the sw. 1/4 sec. 5 instead. We paid $14.50 per acre, 1/10 down, balance over 10 years @ 6%. Note, when we sold land buyer assumed balance and the title has changed half dozen times, I believe that original contract to me from CPR has never been paid up tho 44 years old because just a few years ago CPR wrote me inquiring about my contract.
When we inspected land it had a heavy growth of buffalo grass which ripens and comes up year after year until turned under or burned off. We found out later that many years had contributed to that growth. While we were breaking up the section we had no buildings nor fences so we tied horses to wagon and mowed the buffalo grass and piled it in the wagon to feed the horses and one cow.
When winter approached we were worried about what to do with horses and cow. Neighbors said to just turn them loose, which we did and horses ate grass when available and stayed around straw stacks when there was snow on ground. In the spring all horses were in good condition but cow was missing. She doubtless helped some homesteader thru the winter.
We went around to Farm Sales in Iowa and bid in the six horses and cow, also harness, wagon, mower, rake and other stuff we thought we would need. Matt told us that horse with heaves got well in the rarified Alberta Air, so we got some cheaper on that account and sure enough they were O.K. in Alberta. Made lots of mistakes tho. Bought harness without britchens and wagon without brakes so had difficulty getting up and down the coulees which were about 300 feet below prairie level.
Ed found a man, Nate, at Manchester who was a jack of all trades and we hired him to help build house and barn, his wife Margaret to cook and their baby to attract the flies away from table while we ate.
Nate rode in car to care for stock enroute, Ed bought a bunch of ear corn for feed and piled this on top of a little turtle backed Ford which thus escaped the customs at the boarder. When we unloaded at Stavely the corn was quite a novelty to the old country homesteaders and some wanted to buy some of the ears at a nickel a piece.
For some reason I could not go when the others did and arrived at Stavely about a week later and no one to meet me. After making the rounds of all the bars I ran across a couple of old homesteaders that said they were not far from 15-24 and would be glad to have me ride out with them. They spent most of the afternoon going from bar to bar so they were well tanked up when we started out. They had a team that had a lot of life and left town on a dead run and I grabbed the reins and did the driving for the first few miles. They insisted that I ride on the wagon seat with one of them while the other sat behind on some big packages brought in town.
About midnight I estimated we were south of our land and said I'd get off and walk across if they could show me the right direction to go. I asked where the north star was and one of them lit matches looking for it. I went on home with them and when we unloaded the big packages 2 feet by 4 by 4, I was surprised to learn it was smoking tobacco and would have to last till fall. They had only a one room shack with one bed and insisted I occupy it. Said they could sleep in their chairs. When I awoke in the morning both were in bed with me with their feet toward head of bed. They cooked a breakfast of bacon and flapjacks over a stove heated by buffalo chips.
I found we were only a few miles from our land and they drove me over. When we topped the hill east of our place great masses of smoke were arising from a grass fire set by our steam engine and the engine with its plows was weaving back and forth trying to head off the blaze, so that was my first experience with Alberta farming.
Ed went over to Crow's Nest Pass and picked up a carload of lumber for house and barn. We built the two story house which we were quite proud of but in after years it looked like a monstrosity. It was only 16 feet wide due to the fact that lumber was largely 16 feet lengths. Up the middle went a steep narrow stairs to a single large sleeping room. Plaster not being available we celled both upstairs and down.
When we got around to barn we did better and built a hip roofed structure that would not have been too bad even in Iowa.
My first night I slept on ground near the chicken coop but mosquitoes, yowling coyotes and milling around of the turned loose horses kept me awake and I picked up my bed roll and snuck into the chicken coop for the balance of the night
Poor Margaret did not take to pioneer life and was very unhappy. She even put the baby in carriage and started off across the prairie toward the 24 mile distant railroad. Nate went after her and got her to return.
Water was quite a problem. The lake had no outlet and was saline. 1 1/2 miles west our neighbor had a well and we hauled water from there in barrels for ourselves and stock.
Ed was our best worker and an optimist. He was first up in morning and routed Matt and me out. He was untiring for about a week, then would come a day when he would lie in bed all day. Next day he would be up and at 'em as usual. When we had occasion to twit him about something we would say, "Perhaps that's your day in the tent".
We had bought a Case steam engine and set of John Deere plows with 8 bottoms. We found there was a lot we did not know about power farming. Engine was more economical when burning straw than when burning coal. We could not haul steam coal 24 miles from railroad so we used the poor grade mined in the hills 6 miles east by some homesteaders.
The water in the lake was so alkaline that when turned to steam it cut the lubrication so we had constant breakdown and had to send to Calgary for repairs. No telephones so Ed would take Ford and go to Stavely and wire from there.
My job was to ride the plow platform taking them out at end and putting them back in after engine got turned around.
The famous "May and June" rains were absent as usual so to hasten the job we plowed both night and day. About half the poor quality coal went up the smoke stack and the engine with head light going and sparks shooting up was really something. Prairie got so dry that I could not get plows into ground so we turned to building the house.
Ed had gone over to Crow's Nest Pass and got a car load of lumber to unload at Parkland. My job was to haul it the 24 miles to our place. I started out about 4:00 A.M. with one of the good horses and Matt a light one that had been buffeted around in the car until he was almost too weak to stand. Just West of Little Bow I stopped at a farm house for breakfast. It was late afternoon by time I got loaded up and almost dark when I got to the deep coulee in which Little Bow ran. Not having any brakes on wagon nor breechen on harness I could see that load could not be held back from running up on horses so I broke off some small trees and bushes and tied them to rear of wagon for a drag. All the way back poor old Matt had been dragging his foot and I could barely keep him moving, so I took a rope and tied the other horses whiffle tree to the axle so had to pull the whole load. Reached home about midnight and that was the last time I took Matt.
The sod we had to break had of course never been disturbed before and was very tough. It took four good horses to pull a breaking plow but a homesteader east of us had two big black bulls he broke with. He would start about 4:00 A.M. and turn them loose to graze on prairie at 10:00. Yoke them up again at 4:00 and plow until dark. Nose flies seemed to bother them and one day we saw them heading for the lake on the run, pulling him and the plow with them. They got rid of flies by plunging into the lake.
One morning when we came out from eating breakfast we looked east and there were the elevators and stores of the new town of Champion 5 1/2 miles away. It was a mirage for there was a hill between us and town.
While we were working on our breaking, cultivating, seeding and building, the CPR was building a railroad to the east of us and that year got as far as Carmengay where Little Bow had to be bridged. Railway advertised a lot sale at Carmengay so we decided to knock off work and give the homesteaders a treat by steaming right up main street in our Ford which we gave a good washing and coat of red paint. But alas the Ford did fine on the level and even on the trail down the coulee but when we forded the Little Bow and tried to come up the other side it was just no soap and even Ed who was our auto expert couldn't get a bark out of it so we had to walk the rest of the way. Forget how we got back home.
Another time the Ford played a stellar role. Our neighbors to the east took quite a shine to me and invited me over there for Sunday chicken dinner. I did not want to make Ed and Matt jealous so I secretly shaved in the tent and donned my wrinkled Sunday best and snuck out over the prairie. I figured if I got half way they could not catch up with me for I knew the Ford had leaked all the water out of its radiator and there was none in the barrels. About 1/2 mile from my destination I heard a lot of whooping and yelling and banging and sure enough there they came in the Ford. They had taken a pail of milk and put it in the radiator which was boiling and blowing white bubbles. I could see they were not going to pick me up but pass me and get there first with some cock and bull story. Road men had started to work the road and grader had cut some long, thin strips of sod. I picked one of these about 10 feet long when they went whooping by I wrapped it right around their necks.
In spite of the advice of all the old timers we drilled in winter wheat. This was in the fall of 1909, 1910 was so dry that very little of the wheat came up and it was not worth cutting but 1911 was a wet year and the volunteer wheat went about 35 poor grade bushels. It was so soft we put it in open bins in field. Along came a prairie fire that burned off the stubble and the sides of the bins and some of the wheat and spoiled it all.
I had maintained that the inspection of grain at Winnipeg was a hit and miss affair and that grades were largely determined by where the wheat came from. I said to go ahead and ship what could be salvaged--sure enough we got same grades on this vile smelling stuff as our other shipments.
About a year after selling the place on 1/2 crop payment plan including engine, horses and all equipment, along came another prairie fire and burned our greatly prized hip roofed barn. We however had insurance but this provided it must be protected by a fire brake. We put in a claim and when the inspector came he insisted on being taken to verify the loss. I got our buyer on the phone and told him to get busy and plow a fire brake around the former cite of the barn. Then on the 50 mile trip to farm from L Lothbridge we had various car difficulties so we didn't arrive till after dark and the inspector did not get out of the car when he saw the very evident fire brake around the smoking ashes.
While we were breaking land and building the house and barn we hired a homesteader with only one eye to haul water and another experienced one to run the engine which was better for threshing than for pulling plows so at end of season we found our breaking had cost us $10.50, and we could have hired it done for $3.50 per acre. Uncle Alec Glenny came out to see us and never got over how I looked on the plows covered with grease and dust.
Tho close to lake I do not recall being bothered much with mosquitoes except evenings when smoke of bonfire kept them away but flying back ants were a curse and seemed attracted by anything black so Matt's black hair was their special target. He got rid of them when disking or harrowing by wrapping a black stocking around a broom and erecting it above his head for them to light on. It seemed to be my lot to do the climbing to high spots when we were building house and barn.
We were young and congenial and had a lot of fun kidding each other. We only got our mail when someone went to Stavely for groceries. I wrote Hazel and mother every week but mailing of my letters was only when some of us or neighbors went to town.
After we got winter wheat in and completed farm and house, we went to Lethbridge and opened a real estate office taking in with us Will Weber who had been there for some time.
We bought a 2 cylinder Reo car which was cranked by a handle on the side instead of in front. I complained to agent from whom we bought it about having tire trouble and he told me that was to be expected if we took it out in rainy weather and got tires wet. His garage was two story, the upper being reached by a narrow steep ramp. When Matt was learning to drive he mastered the go ahead and back up levers but not the neutral. He drove up the ramp into garage and then reversed out again. After going back and forth a number of times he shouted "next time I get in, shut the door".
The Reo was a lemon and I sold it to a hotel keeper at Purple Springs on railroad to east of us. Ernie Codd took the train east about every day and he watched the parallel highway to see how new owner was getting along. It took him nearly a week to get home and the last we heard of Reo was that it had stalled on railroad track and been demolished by a freight train.
About 10 years later I was inspecting some of my land south of Grassy Lake and was caught by night fall at Purple Springs. I registered at hotel and buried my face behind a newspaper. After awhile the proprietor began walking up and down in front of me and sizing me up from all angles. Finally he pulled the paper away and said, "Aren't you the SOB that sold me that good for nothing Reo Car?"
Real Estate being a little slow we took on some other lines. Matt became U.S. Consul. We were agents for J.I. Case Co. and John Deere Plows. I became commissioner and could legalize instruments about like our Notary Publics.
The late fall of 1909 I returned to Waterloo and Hazel and I were married at the Vale home on Independence Ave. We went to New Orleans to Mardi Gras on our honeymoon. It took a lot of courage and intestinal fortitude for a girl like Hazel who had never been away from home more than a week or two at a time to leave her folks and school friends to go to a new country like southern Alberta.
The next spring Jay Owens came up from Waterloo and we organized Western Auto Co. and built a big galvanized iron garage. We were agents for Overland, EMF and Case cars. Pete Weber, one-eared bother of Will, was also interested in Auto Co. and slept above front part winter and summer.
It was remarkable how patriotic Americans get when they get out of U.S.A. We observed all the American holidays with flags and bunting and without fail an English woman 3 doors distant would get out her Canadian and British flags so as not to be out done.
Uncle Tom and Steve Hicks came to see us, also Besse and Lloyd on their honeymoon.
1909 was not a very good year for moisture but 1910 was the worst Alberta ever experienced. This was unfortunately Hazel's first year in Alberta and got her off to a bad start. After first staying in rooms at a Mrs. Campbells we built a 2 story house on a 26 foot lot. It now seems ridiculous that with hundreds of square miles of prairie on all sides city lots 25 feet wide were being sold.
Mrs. Ford Cummings on our street and Mrs. Clark, Mrs. Heeb and Miss Henderson were just about Hazels only congenial friends. Mrs. Jay Owens should have been included but with her friend Mrs. Hill she took up with some Greeks down town.
But the worst drawback was the ever blowing west wind. It was told that a traveling man walking thru Galt Square lost his hat and did not even chase after it but the next day in Coaldale, 20 miles to the east, he just happened to see it hopping along and retrieved it. I remember many times being out in the country at meal time when I'd just flip my felt hat up against west side of building and peel it off when I came out.
A stiff wind flattened out a machine shed erected with sides of wide boards. It was left lying that way for about a week. Meanwhile it was noticed that the family cat was gone but no one connected its absence with the fallen building. When the shed was straightened up there was the cat wedged between two of the wide boards compressed to a one inch thickness but still alive. All four legs were in a row and one eye above the other. The wind still harassed it and it had to go with the wind or right against it otherwise it would flip over on its side like a shingle.
The land north toward Calgary had had a number of good crops and was selling at 25 to 50 per acre so we confined our activity to that east and southeast where it could be had for 20 to 10 per acre. We found this district had less rainfall with resultant less grass.
One of my first sales was to a Wisconsin farmer whom I took down between the Coulees about 40 miles east of Sterling. I took Pete along because he knew about the district. It was near dark when we started back and our acetylene lights would not work so Pete rode on the hood holding a lantern so I could keep to the trail.
On another occasion when I was driving the Overland 20 miles south of Grassy Lake I hit a rock and stopped to see what damage had been done. Found the rock had pierced the oil pan and oil was slowly leaking out. I took an inner tube I had along and cut it and then slit it the long way and brought it up snugly under the pan and up over the hood and saved enough oil for the run home.
There were buffalo skulls all over the prairie, so numerous that one homesteader had gathered them up and erected a fence of them around his quarter.
When driving over the prairie one had to keep away from pot holes that had in years gone by been full of water because coming on them from all sides would be deep trails cut by buffalo going to and from water.
Hazel, Jay, Grace and I went on a trip to the foothills west of Stavely. Had some good trout fishing in the little streams that wandered thru the heavy grass of the meadows. Stayed over night at a cattle ranch.
Lethbridge became all agog over a visit of the Duke of Comaught. At the reception it seemed very essential that the ladies learn the proper way to curtsy. It was treated as a joke by us Americans and we taught little Dan to "bow to the duke" which he did very nicely.
Hazel usually left for Waterloo about Oct. 1st. but I would stay till Dec. 1st. When Dan was born I received wire and started at once sending her a wire when I crossed the line but I think the operator just pocketed my money for wire was not sent.
Alberta winter climate was tempered by Chinooks, warm winds from west thru Crow's Nest Pass. Sometimes one would go home for supper with temperature 10 to 20 degrees below and find caves dripping an hour or two later.
We sold a Case outfit to a Matt Dimmer north of Coaldale and he loafed around our office. One day when a Chinook was blowing I asked him if he came in with a bobsled and suggested he had better be starting home but he hung around the bars most of afternoon. Later he reported he could just keep front bobs on snow and hind ones dragged in mud.
Life was not too bad for me as there was a bunch of us tied together by various bonds. Matt and Ed, Jay Owens, Will and Pete Weber, Ernest Codd. We were a light hearted bunch making play out of what should have been work.
For Hazel it was just waiting for time to go back to Iowa. There were only 3 or 4 congenial friends and the eternal winds were enough to drive anyone to distraction.
Many things happened that helped us men forget the wind and the lack of business. We bought a fine Case sedan and sold it to C.S. Greet, a sheep man at Coaldale. Replaced it with another that would not sell. Matt said he had an idea. He went down to the Point where the "Ladies of the night" held out and showed it to the colored Madam. She seemed interested so after dark he took her for a ride. Keeping us posted on his progress and prospects the RE man across the hall thought he would have a little fun and called Matt on phone and with a swell imitation of Madam's voice said she was just about decided to buy the car which certainly ran swell at night but she would like to see how it ran daytime and would he drive around and pick her up and drive right down the main business street. Poor Matt hemmed and hawed and told her he was so tied up with business that he just couldn't get away. We were all wise to what was going on and got a big kick out of it. Matt sold her and called once a week for the payments which were in $5.00 bills, the going rate in her business. It was an unwritten rule that the girls from the "Point" should not appear on street except on Friday afternoons and strangely that was the very day other ladies chose to go down town so they could observe the latest in styles.
When Hazel's folks visited us we took a trip down to Waterton Lake and rode the length of the lake in a motor boat, seeing where drilling for oil had been done years before and seeing a stream coming from a fall over a rock ledge with no sign of stream showing from below.
Being the Case salesman, Codd loafed in our office most of time. On a bad day with temperature about 20 degrees below, Codd would say that he was due for a trip to Cardston and would get out his expense account book; 50 cents for taxi to depot, $4.50 fare to Cardston, $1.00 for dinner there and another for eating it, $4.50 for return fare, 50 cents for taxi. "Nice trip. Get out the cards and we'll have a go at hi, low, Jack and the game." His friend Mac, Rumdey salesman, often hung around the office also. He was quite a drinker and complained about tire trouble. I asked how he knew when a tire was soft. He said he could tell by running over a rock. Bragged about the speed of his car so we arranged a race to Coaldale and back. We drove out a few miles to watch them whiz by and sure enough here he came in a cloud of dust. We waved at him and he put on brakes, turned and came back. I asked him about the race and he replied. "Gee whiz, we're racing now."
O.W,. Kerr, large operators, sold thru Q.T. Latrup, lands around Chin where water was hard to find. At a fine model set of buildings they had a deep dry well to which their man hauled water and from which he hauled water when they were showing land. One day a homesteader came in and said he wanted to list his 2 quarters for sale. One was bare land the other was in wheat. For bare 1/2 he asked $16, for improved $15 an acre. I asked him why the difference in favor of the bare land and he said it would cost $1.00 per acre to cut wheat.
An interesting sight was the line extending for blocks of those registering for homesteads when districts S.C. were opened for entry. If Friday was day for registering, line would begin to form Monday and with weather 10 to 40 degrees below there they would stick, building fires, lying on bed ticks or buffalo robes, anything to hold out against the cold. When they had to visit toilet or replenish food supply their place would be kept for them by those in line. Often the land they had inspected and chosen would be taken by someone ahead and they would have to take lands they had not seen.
The last year or two in Lethbridge, Gage Shannon, a close friend of Matt's at the Waterloo Y, came and took a job collecting for Standard Trust of Winnipeg, He also looked after Owendale, a going ranch near Cardston. Gage had a Hupmobile roadster that we called the bumble bee because that's what it looked like.
Will Weber thought he could do better going it alone and he was first to break away from Iowa Alberta Land Co., then Ed left to take charge of a big farming project in Saskatchewan.
Times were pretty tough and we did about everything to earn an honest dollar. One day when Fair was on we ran the big Case back and forth to Fair Grounds as a taxi and made an easy $80.00. We took Codd on some of his trips and he paid us well. We wrote fire and hail insurance and were agents for a Winnipeg Grain firm.
Hail came down one day scaring Hazel with its infernal racket and busting all the glass in our light well. I was watching it fall in the street when a hail stone about the size of an egg hit a horse between the ears and it dropped with its legs spraddled out flat but soon got on its feet again and seemed O.K.
1910 was a dry year, 1911 and 12 not much better on account of early frost and 1913 was again a poor year so Hazel receiving a wire telling of Luther's passing away, we decided to call it quits. Alberta had not brought forth the golden fleece and to get away from the dry years that exceeded the good and the ever blowing winds we elected to try California, which at least was a far more pleasant place to starve if starve we must.
Not content to stay idle I found an ad in paper asking for inventory help by Bullocks. I was paid $2.00 per day and had to work nights about half the time for nothing extra. I was known as "B 52" and was one of about 60. This was cut down to 15, then to 4, and 1 and that was I. I figured they liked my work and hoped my $2.00 per day might be raised, but no soap. When I notified Bullocks I was quitting I was asked to see Mr. Bigelow, the head mogul, and he assured me I was making a great mistake for a great future awaited me at Bullocks. I told him my measly $2.00 a day did not indicate much.
I began looking around for something better, perhaps in banking line. I happened to go over to Chino where cousin Woodhead said there was good opening for Bank. After looking it over I called up Fred Snedicor whom I knew at Iowa and he told me to come over to Corona as Citizens Bank was looking for Cashier to replace McCorkle who had gone pink and was mixed up with Job Harriman in his Llano venture east of Pear Blossom.
Citizens was small state Bank with about same stockholders as First National run by George and Fred Snedicor. I got the job thru them and we worked together. I was only one in Bank and had very little to do. Often there was so little business that I would only write up the books a couple times a week. I got pretty discouraged and the climax was a day when not a single soul came in. That just about got my goat. One day a dark complexioned young man came in and wanted change for a $10.00 bill. He shoved the change back and wanted it broken up different. He stayed around and seemed so pleased with himself it made me uneasy. That afternoon I balanced $10.00 short and concluded he had done me.
I found a gang of Gypsies had left town and were on way to Elsinore. I got hold of deputy sheriff and we caught up to them beyond Glen Ivy Springs. The deputy gave them a scare that made them disgorge the $10.00 and another $10.00 for his trouble. On returning I called First National and Corona National and asked how they balanced. Corona National said they were $20.00 short and said a dark fellow had also been there for change. It was getting late and Deputy said they would take after them next morning. He caught up with them again beyond Elsinore and got $20.00 back and an extra $20.00 for his trouble. Returning with Deputy a coyote ran across road in front of our car and deputy pulled out his colt and tried to plug him but instead shattered the wind shield.
With Hazel's folks living close to us and Snedicors getting us into the right bunch of people our stay in Corona was very pleasant. The one big drawback was the northers that could always be foreseen by the fact that the day before the air would be so clear that it would seem like you could put your hand on the mountains 40 miles away across the valley.
Although about 40 I had whooping cough which is perhaps caused of my present asthma. I kept a pail under Bank counter so when I had a bad attack and had to throw up I had something to use. Some of my friends used to come in and get me laughing just to see and hear me whoop.
I generally carried my lunch and did not close up at noon. After eating I would get my nap by putting my head down on counter. I kept alert however and if door opened I would be up ready for business and no one the wiser.
I remember one day there was a church or lodge dinner and I thought I'd close up and get a hot meal. When I got back I was surprised to find front door unlocked but nothing had been disturbed so I guess no one knew of my negligence.
While at Corona we lost one of the finest men I have ever know, Mr. Vale, Hazel's father. He was loved by all who knew him.
The Bank was on corner adjoining the Post Office and had door in Post Office corridor. Standing at my counter I could see across corridor into postmaster's office. One day I called him on phone saying I was Supt. of Phones and was blowing out the phones. I asked him to put something over receiver so dust would not dirty up his office. I could see him looking in drawers till he found some cheese cloth which he put over receiver and fastened with rubber bands. About then he looked up and saw me watching him and grinning and realized there was a "nigger in the woodpile".
Hazel's folks were always glad to look after Dan so we were not tied down. There was a lot of activity at the Country club and we found them a very congenial crowd. We put on a number of home talent shows. In one of these, Fred S. and I played the parts of the Katzenjammer Kids. Rather undignified for two bankers but went over good.
Our crowd included the Snedicors, Lymans, Resses, Whites Blairs, Claysons, Reids, Andrews, Phillips, and Dena Cooper. We were a congenial bunch and had a lot of good times together.
Grant Phillips and I went on a lot of trips, generally to the desert. He had a big old Stutz that we called old Betsy. One trip we went to Mecca on north end of Salton Sea and from there up a deep dry canyon as far as car could go and then hiked from there to a mining claim he had filed on but let lapse and he wondered if any one else had filed on it. Returning we stopped at Coachella where they were having a big celebration climaxed by 5 mile auto race open to all. We entered Old Betsy, stripped her down by taking off fenders and muffler. When Ralph DePalma returned to L.A. after the Corona contest in which he kept his racer at Grant's garage, he left a couple coveralls with "Ralph DePalma" imblazed on the back. We put those on and Grant turned up Old Betsy so you could hear her roar for two miles. We drove around the course a couple times to get the lay of the lands.
Then the officials timidly approached us with the dilemma confronting them. None of the other contestants would enter for they could see they didn't have a chance against the city slickers and would we please withdraw our entry and not spoil the day. We did.
Another time we planned to go to Imperial Valley on a hunting trip and unwisely promised our crowd a big duck dinner when we got back. It was raining when we left Corona but we figured it would not be on desert. We ran into a cloudburst at Beaumont and Banning and put up for night at San Gorgonia Inn. Next day we found bridge over Whitewater Channel out but got past the point by driving down the channel with help of current. Before us was solid sheet of water in middle of which we got mired down. After a number of fruitless efforts along came a Model T Ford sticking to mountain with left wheels in water and rights tilted up on mountain edge. He saw we were in trouble and waded over. After surveying the situation he asked Grant if he might give it a try. Grant was ready to try anything and told him to go ahead. He got in the driver's seat and Grant cranked it up. He raced that engine till it shook Old Betsy out of the holes it had dug and then throw it into gear and darned it he didn't go tearing out of there and over to the edge of the mountain. Never saw anything like it.
We finally reached Indio but it had taken 3 of our 4 days to go half way so we decided to turn back. We got a room upstairs in a rooming house. There seemed to be no rest room facilities inside or out so we took advantage of the open window. Looking back as we left next morning we could see streaks in the dust from window down.
As we had announced we'd give a big duck dinner when we got back we lifted a couple of turkeys on way home and at the dinner they were ducks.
Another time we went over to Deep Creek fishing. We had to ford the Mojave and some one had made this possible by placing rocks just about wide enough for a car. As we were going across Grant happened to look over the bank and there was a winsome lass putting on her stockings. Unconsciously he veered the front wheels toward her and off of the narrow trail and we were mired down in the sand. We had to gather rocks and brush to get out.
One of the big events was the 100 mile race over Corona's famous 3 mile paved circular street. Never was the city so jammed with people before or since. It was all the talk for many weeks before and after.
Our 4 year stay at Corona was a very pleasant one. We still have a lot of friends there and Hazel sees them at annual "Old Timers" picnic.
There were few paved roads and the resultant isolation brought about closer neighborliness and many "home town" entertainments.
In 1917 when World War I was on we decided like a lot of Midwesterners that Iowa was pretty good after all and we would like to be back in Waterloo near our relatives and friends. I wrote to brother Carl to look around and see if any Bank jobs were available. He replied right back that Security Savings did not have a cashier and that its Pres., Tressa Trumbauer, sister of my former Boss Fay McElhinney, said I could have the job. So we pulled up stakes, leaving a lot of good friends in Corona, and returned to Iowa, renting a house in Highland on the East side. We didn't like the winter, California had spoiled us and we soon felt that our return to Iowa had been a mistake.
I did not return with the folks but went to Alberta hoping to sell some of the land I had there but ending up by buying some more. Enroute I stopped at Mott, N. Dak. to visit Will Glenny and then drove on to Havre, Montana, where I bought a second hand Ford. I drove north into Canada stopping nights with homesteaders and leaving the Ford parked on highest available hill for when cold it was almost impossible to crank. 20 miles out of Lethbridge it quit entirely and I phoned Ernie Codd and he came out and towed me in.
I hung around Matt's office but he was more interested in a Hail Insurance Co. he had started then in Real Estate. I took a couple trips down south of Medicine Hat in the big ranch country, farther east than I had ever been before.
When ready to leave for California a young man from Matt's office wanted to go too so we had the Ford's front seat cut back for sleeping. We also bought a double Hudson Bay blanket which we cut in two, a half for each. We got together a cooking outfit so we could cook our own meals. My pal had evidently been a cook in a restaurant so he did the cooking. We would spend an hour getting up a good hot meal and then he'd go off in the woods somewhere and return when everything was cold. Coming south we came to a 15 mile up grade and the Ford quit on us. Hoping to find the trouble we got out all our cooking utensil including coffee pot and drained the crank case in them. We could find nothing wrong so we poured the oil back in, put things together and twisted the crank and she started up. Guess it was just too hot.
At Fresno I registered for the draft.
The last place we camped was by a little stream in what is now the south end of "Grape Vine". I thought I'd surprise Hazel and not tell her of my coming so no one was home when I reached San Gabriel. All were off on a picnic with Grant Phillips family.
Back in California the next thing was to find a job.
I looked over Glendale and other nearby towns where there might be an opening for a new bank but had I found such a place I could do nothing about it as I had no ready capital.
Happened to go in First National, Alhambra, and consulted Pres. Hammond. He said it was too bad I had not come in a few days sooner as their cashier, a Mr. Wilson of family after which Wilson Jct., Iowa was named, had resigned and the directors had elected a new cashier only the day before. I noticed the Cashier's desk was not occupied and he explained this by saying the new man was out of town and they had not been able to get in touch with him.
Modestly suggesting they had just missed getting a very able man for the place I gave them names of T.C. Jameson and the Snedicots at Corona and D.J. Wilson in Westwood to phone to. I also submitted a very flattering recommendation from Pres. Tressa which she had kindly allowed me to write myself. All sources having praised me and my banking ability highly, the Directors reconsidered and gave me the job. I started work Oct. 1, 1918.
The First National had a capital of $50,000 and $600,000 deposits. It was one of the Hillman string of banks and had a lot of their paper which I cased out by always being short of loanable funds when their paper came due.
Along about 1921, Pres. Hammond got in a little jam and I was made Pres. I had brother W.H. come out from Iowa and take the Cashiership. Jose McClunkey, who had been Carl's assistant cashier, came out to Calif. to look around and I offered him a job as escrow man. Up to then I had been handling the escrows in a crude sort of way myself. I wrote on a big envelope the owners offer to sell at certain price and had him sign. Then I had buyer agree to buy on above terms and sign. My system has since been cause of lot of merriment among orthodox escrow men but not one has ever been able to pick a flaw in its efficiency.
Gage Shannon, who had gone to run a bank at Pine River, Minn., wrote me about opportunities in Calif. I replied there was an opening in Alhambra for a Mortgage Co. First National was not able to make Real Estate loans at that time and Jess and I had been placing such mortgagees as came in escrows with various customers and charging 2 and 3% for the service. The commissions had built up a fund of about $10,000 and this was used to start Mortgage Co. We gave stock in Company to W.H. Strifler, our Vice Pres. and Judge Northrup. We bought the shares of these a few years later leaving Gage, Jess and I each holding 1/3/ interest.
Having heard that Bank of Italy (now Bank of America) was about to put a branch in Alhambra we organized the citizens Bank at Garfield and Main, the First National's old location. We sent two of our tellers, Art Foreman and Wynne Savage to run it and it did very well.
Thinking they were getting too liberal on loans I had Gage take the presidency and transferred Jess to Mortgage Co. Proof that my fears about Citizens loan policy were groundless came when we sold it to Bank of America and had to charge off only a $40.00 note.
After Jess left escrow department, though replaced by a very efficient title trained man, Mortgage Co. got few if any leads from Escrow Dept. Ability to smell out leads and deals as Jess and Gage did seems to be gift of only a very few.
About 1922 brother Carl came out from Iowa and ran a branch of the Mortgage Co. in Monterey Park, afterward opening a Real Estate and Insurance Agency of his own on south Garfield.
The Mortgage Co. has handled millions in loans charging 2 and 3% commission and of late years being unable to compete with Govt. and Insurance Co. cheap rates buying Trust Deeds and Mortgages at a discount. Never missed paying 10% semi-annual dividends.
In the course of time Gage followed his invariable practice of cashing in to see real worth and Jess and I bought his third.
Mortgage Co. had been changed to a partnership which his attorney advised Jess was liable to cause a lot of complications in case either partner passed away so when I had heart attack I consented to it being terminated. Was greatly surprised to learn that my share of assets amounted to four times the original total capital.
The First National had a rapid growth due to an upsurge in real estate activity in Southern Calif. Mother loaned me $5,000 to put in its stock and I then took all that was offered for sale till another party and I had control, counting that of W.H., Gage and Jess.
Something came up that indicated I should have a written agreement with this other party and this he refused making me still further disturbed. I offered him $500 per share for the stock I had picked up for him at per and he took it. I had a number of my friends put their notes in the Bank so I could raise the necessary $70,000. Then I called the directors together, declared 100% dividend and this with what I had, enabled me to get loan at Wells Fargo of San Francisco, paying off my friend's notes. First National was a money maker--one year 105%.
We went thru the 1929 panic O.K. but a couple years later many of the Banks in San Gabriel Valley failed and unfortunately most of them were First National's and people got the idea there might be some connection between banks of the same name.
We had sold Citizens to Bank of America and they were about to put in a branch and Gage had installed a Trust Dept. in First National. We never had any run but our deposits were going down until we had lost a million and a half. To raise money we had to sell bonds at a loss. Physically I was in bad shape from prostate trouble. Was very nervous. I usually went to Bank just after it opened but one morning I was early and the door was closed and curtains drawn. I was so shocked it took weeks for me to snap out of it.
Bank of America offered to take us over and merge with their branch. Sale of Bank was hardest thing I ever did. It was my pride and joy and my heart is still bound up in the old First National. It seemed like the sale was safeguarding the interests of depositors and other stockholders.
Bank of America kept all our employees and treated us very well but it was hard for us who had done about as we pleased and were one big happy family to adapt ourselves to their rigid rules. Their double check system was especially obnoxious. Any important duty like locking or opening the vault or safe had to be done by two with their signatures.
Gage was made manager and W.H. assistant manager. I became Vice Pres. but never took my job very serious. I kidded them about their elaborate system as compared with our simple but effective one.
Their head examiner asked me to go over the loans with him the following morning. I forgot about it and come down at my usual time. Asked why I was late. I told him that my invariable custom was to go to toilet after breakfast but that morning I had to wait for some other employee to get in proper mood to go with me as required by the double check system.
Another time when A.P. Giannini, the head mogul from San Francisco, was looking over our loans I took him out to the Club for lunch. As we were eating at a table overlooking the first too, four husky young fellows drove off and A.P. asked me who those fellows were wasting their time in the middle of the day. I replied that I didn't know who they were but did know who they ain't. "Well, who ain't they he asked. "They ain't Bank of America men," I replied. He always called me L.D. and I called him A.P.
We have taken great interest and pride in doings of our First National boys. Gage succeeded me as Vice Pres. of Bank of America, until his retirement. W.H. retired when he reached that age. Jess still had the Alhambra Mortgage Co. which has always done well when conditions were good or bad. Gale Esslinger is manager of a large Bank of America branch in Pasadena. Stan Ashe, after long service with Alhambra Branch could have had any position in system, bought citrus and grape ranch at Sangor. Paul Lyon, after making his stake at Sangor, is easing into Real Estate at Arrowhead Lake.
The two Arts, Krueso and Forman, are Pres. and Vice Pres. of First Federal Savings with deposits of $13,000,000. Joe Jones, has probably done best of all being Vice Pres. of Security First National. John Hood, Helen's husband, also has a very responsible position with Security First National. Clete Murphy is National Bank examiner. "Wally" Wachhols surprised us by ending up manager Calif. Bank, El Sereno Branch. John Wilson has a desk job at Alhambra Branch and is only one left of first Nationals' at Alhambra Branch, which has 35 million deposits and whose Board will not let me resign tho I have been unable to attend for 2 1/2 years.
Our girls, Beatrice, Garnett, Stella, Cora, Elsie, and Jean have mostly married and done well but all say First National was tops to work for.
When we kids were young and capable of enjoying something different, especially if it involved a trip on the railroad, the Bedfords had a reunion at grandfather's in Rushmore, Minn. All the Uncles and Aunts and numerous cousins were there. We had a wonderful time and I still marvel how accommodations for all of us were provided. We must have been parceled out to all the neighbors. Uncle Lathe, who had a general store at that time, saw to it that we all were taken care of and there was something doing all the time.
Thanks to Tom and Jo for the many good times had at Lake Ada. The climax was the Bedford reunion which proved to be the last meeting of all the brothers and sisters. Reunion included Besse's 6 children, Clara's, Dr. Joe, Ethel and daughter, Helen and son Joe, Jo's, Helene, Bob, and two boys, Carl, Ray and Francis, Will's, John, and my Dan. Dan the biggest and Bobbie the smallest. Dan L. and John B. the best axe man. We did have such a good time visiting, eating, fishing, swimming, and ragging. As usual Tom was the good natured recipient of our attention.
Dr. Van did his utmost to keep Tom on defensive. One night Ray and Francis arrived unannounced and Ray, not wanting to disturb our slumbers, was unable to find sleeping space so decided to return to Pine River to spend the rest of the night. He took along Tom's pants with his pocketbook. In the morning Hell was popping--Tom had been robbed and was begging loan of some pants so he could get up. After a forenoon of turmoil, Ray and Francis showed up and were told of the tragic situation and how Tom just knew who did it. It was that old duffer who tried to rob me in Pine River the previous day. Ray revealed a strange co-incidence. As he was coming out he noticed a bundle along the road. On inspection this proved to be a dirty old pair of trousers which he was about to toss in bushes but changed his mind and brought along. Tom at once wanted to know about his pocketbook and asked for pants which strangely enough had not been pilfered.
The day before we had gone to Pine River to see the "sights". A closing out sale was going on and we were among the crowd looking for bargains. Being roughly jostled I felt an unusual pressure on my hip picket and reaching back grasped a hand that was removing my pocketbook. Hand belonged to tall, gaunt, clerical appearing man who protested loudly my unwarranted grabbing of his hand. Jo being right behind and witness of whole thing sure told him.
Pocketbooks were central figures in lot of occurances there. I am about to let you in on a deep dyed secret I have been keeping all these years.
One night having occasion to visit the Chic Sale and having neither spotlight nor matches I left door open. Unexpectedly Dan Loonan and party arrived from Iowa and headlight lit up my temporary abode in a very embarrassing way and startling me into jumping up only to hear a sickening plop in the water about 8 feet below. I knew at once it was my purse with all my money and travelers checks. Returning to house I lay there couple hours wondering what to do.
About midnight I tried to sneak out but Will heard me and wanted to know what trouble was. I told him I had eaten something that disagreed with me and asked for loan of flash light. With this I found my fish pole and line with "Red head" plug which has lot of hooks attached. Light showed the pocket book floating serenely below. The first cast hooked it up--contents in good shape but I heaved the pocket book in the lake.
Starting home after a wonderful time we were stopped by highway officers at Mississippi Bridge and told some of our party had had accident and to return to Brainerd. Clara wanted to stop at the Watson's to return some shoes they had left at Lake. As they stopped across road from Watson's, Clara stepped from in front of car to be struck down by car from rear. Both legs were broken and then set at Brainerd Hospital these had to be reset at Davenport. This accident sobered the spirit of hilarity in which we left camp.
While there Carl received a wire from a large number of former fellow townsmen at Hudson urging him to return that way but regretted this was not possible.
W.H. and young John took the sedan and went home via Cedar Falls.
I had gone to Chicago and got a new Lincoln Zephyr so C.W., Dan and I drove back to Calif. in that, stopping overnight at Pipistone, Minn. with Tracy Hicks.
Asthma is a spasmatic contraction of the mucous lining of the bronchial tubes and induces a difficulty in exhaling. In bronchitis difficulty is inhaling.
As a rule asthma does not occur late in life but mine came shortly after my retirement at age of 60.
When I was about 37 at Corona I had the whooping cough lasting most of a summer and this perhaps may have had something to do with my later condition.
Dan and I drove to Florida, winter of about 1940. It was cold and rainy there and there was no heat in our Motor Court, resulting in my taking a severe cold. We kept going and I thought I could wear it out. Shortly after this I gradually began wheezing at times and realized I was becoming asthmatic.
Going East the air-conditioning in sleeper aggravated my condition and I was bad at Waterloo. Besse loaned me a car to drive to Rochester where they tried to make out I did not have asthma at my age but finally agreed I did. Said to seek a dry climate and avoid exertion and colds.
Continuing on to Lethbridge I became worse and after week in hotel room, unable to even go to his office, Mr. Peat, my agent, took me to Catholic Hospital. doctor said I could not go home on train because of air conditioning nor by air because of my heart. so Dan borrowed Ralph's sedan and came to Lethbridge for me and gave me hypos enroute home.
I spent the next three years in hospitals and rest homes, losing weight from my 173 normal to low of 112. Was in Garfield, Pottengers, Huntington, Lancaster, and Loma Linda Hospitals. Also in Rest homes in Temple City, Monrovia, and Danning. Took various remedies, mostly inhalants.
Finally came to conclusion that one with chronic bronchial asthma needs desert air and altitude between 2500 and 3000 feet. Avoid sweets and starches, sleep with windows closed or nearly so to avoid night air.
I had difficulty breathing while lying down so got in habit of sitting in armchair with feet elevated to keep ankles and foot from swelling. Still sleep that why most of the time because I have become accustomed to it.
Remedies that have helped are asthma-efren and a medicine sent by Dr. Tucker Labs. of Mr. Gilliad, Ohio. At Tucson a Dr. Jacobson gave me a prescription which, with drops of Iodide, I have used since with good results. When I was real bad I took hypos of adrenalin and got so I gave these myself in leg or shoulder. Asthma is often caused by an allergy such as pollen or some food.
While I was at Loma Linda Dr. Rogers gave me 200 Allergy tests but only one reacted. Dogs. But experience since indicates "Brownie" does not affect me adversely.
Moisture in air was bad for me. Spells generally came about 3 A.M. when night air was most evident. Gas heat emits a certain amount of moisture as well as burning up oxygen in air. I like electric heat and carry my glow lamp whenever I leave home.
Asthma is hereditary. Uncle Alf who had about the same build as I, had it and his daughter, cousin Francis, did also and her son Kenneth has.
My worst experience was the 8 days in oxygen tent at Huntington Hospital but this was followed by a distinct improvement when Hazel and Dan took me over Angelus Crest Highway to Pear Blossom just east of Little Rock and on edge of Mojave Desert at 3000 feet altitude. Living in Motor Court even tho we had foot of snow I was better and got strong enough to take long walks.
My experience there convinced me that what I needed was desert air and altitude and Cherry Valley has these and is also good for Dan's arthritis so here we are.
It is said one does not die from asthma but it wears out the heart. So the asthma is the primary cause of my present condition.
As a rule I think these should be avoided especially among relatives. One of the surest ways to break up a close friendship is to enter a partnership with a friend or relative and have a divergence of interests develop.
In Alberta, Matt, Ed, and I got along fine but after a couple of years Ed thought he could do better elsewhere so we took over his interest. Matt and I had joint interest in Lands for a number of years. When I left Alberta we divided up.
After coming to Alhambra, Gage, Jess and I were joint owners of Alhambra Mortgage Co. which always paid 10% each half year but Gage, following his cashing up complex sold to Jess and me. We continued on until I had recent heart attack. When Jess took over sole ownership dividing with me a surprising amount of assets--my share many times total original capital.
Gage and I bought two sections of Alberta land at $1.00 per acre but after a few years he traded his share to me for my 1/3 of an industrial lot. I sold land on bushel plan. Along came Would War II and I made killing. Price went up from 30 cents to $1.55 per bushel.
I do not want to criticize Gage for his system of cashing in on small profits. He is such a shrewd buyer that he has made it pay big and has kept liquid all the time. My failing has been that I often hold on to things so long they lose value.
I had as a partner a Greek, John Demes of San Gabriel. We built some houses and sold them. Also a service station.
We built a small 5 room house on corner of lot in the Mexican district. We sold it to some Mexicans who paid on it a few years and moved out. We found they had not paid their taxes nor the assessments for having not only front of lot but the side also. I called up owner of the 1500 street bonds and offered him $500. He just laughed at me saying there was nice house on lot. I had John get hold of house mover and that very night that became a vacant lot. In transit for house was offered corner lot on Garvey and used it to build a service station on.
About a mouth later owner of bonds called up and I told him to drive by and see his lot and called his attention to fact that unpaid taxes came ahead of his bonds. 20 years after, Title Co. would not issue title without quit claim from me. Did I stick him!
My partnership with Ralph Perkins, a young go-getter a little older than Dan, was more varied and interesting as well as more profitable even tho looking back it seems somewhat fantastic.
When real young Ralph was always pulling off some big deal but never realized on his efforts or ability. He generally quit too soon or hung on too long. while still in school he was distributor for the Herald-Express, L.A. and had dozens, perhaps hundreds of boys working for him. Later he started an Alhambra Shopper and took so much advertising away from local daily he could have sold out for big money but didn't. Then he got together salesmen for a light fixture and put it in nearly all the stores in district. He then put in a big service station with dozen pumps. Had a nigger polish customers cars, shine their shoes and lot of other things. Gave coupons on set of dishes or part of set so they had to buy more gas to complete set.
About this time he began coming to me for advice and got it in his head I was helping him go thru with his deals and end up with something for himself. He suggested I go in with him on some service stations which I did. We picked up strategic corners, built stations and rented to big oil companies. We never operated them. At one time we had six stations but found some of our locations were too good. Stop and go signals were installed or traffic became so dense that cars could not turn in. As these conditions developed, Ralph was always able to worm out with a profit.
We next had a whirl at the theatre business and owned in whole or part four theatres. We about broke even on these.
Ralph thought bowling had a great future but I told him it took too much capital. He replied that he had an old fellow who would build the alleys so all we had to buy was the balls and so it was. We sold them at a nice profit.
Meanwhile, on his own hook, Ralph had got together and was running a portable roller skating rink and in spite of the grief of moving from place to place and operating in a tent in all kinds of weather was making money. His old mechanic built floor in sections that fitted together and made moving possible.
One day he told me he knew of 14 lots zoned for business in residence district of East Pasadena and he thought this ideal permanent location for a rink. I went in with him and even put up some money. We built an oak floor 200 x 200 and he ran an open air rink. Having no top it was subject to rain and fog and all kinds of grief. To protect the floor he got an immense tarpaulin to pull over at night and when it rained. Ralph was a second P.T. Barnum. He had something doing every night to draw in the kids and even the grown-ups. Some nights blondes got in free, then brunettes, then those wearing shorts. Always something special doing.
Dan being available just then, Ralph made him manager and tho he did not like the job he made good and stuck it out till World War II tied him up.
So much grief developed from open air that Ralph created two big telephone poles at each end of rink connected by heavy steel cable supporting a heavy circus tent with no posts in center. After they got it decorated with big colored streamers and festoons hanging so that tenting was concealed it was certainly a thing of beauty and did away with the tarpaulin. I remember going over there after a few days rain before rink was covered and there was 8 or 10 inches of water standing on the floor. Must have been hundreds of tons. It was necessary to get a fire engine to remove it.
Going over one morning after a wind storm in the night I was appalled to see the top gone, just a few ribbons of canvas hanging from the central cable. But nothing ever daunted Ralph. He had got agent to slip into his insurance a comprehensive clause that covered wind damage and we collected almost enough insurance to put on a permanent top.
Lots of grief in roller skating but Dan and Ralph dodged or met it as occasion demanded. They ran a high class rink, no profanity nor drinking and no Mexican or Colored skaters. To keep these out Cashier would ask to see their cards and explain this was private club for members only. When one took his being ejected to Court Ralph luckily had number of witnesses, including a deputy sheriff who testified ejectee had been drinking.
Schools, Churches, P.T.A., Lodges, Scouts, all had special skating parties and impression was spread that parents could rest easy if children were at the "Moonlight Rollerway".
We sold rink to two Jews for $85,000 but they could not get along with each other and hired Ralph at $1,000 a month to run rink which he did with proviso that neither should come around. One died and Ralph took over his share and owns most of it now but rents it. Is said to be swellest rink in California.
Ralph and I next built some business rentals on one of our service stations corners. But as usual the location was too good. An underpass is planed that will leave station and stores high and dry so Ralph bought my half and traded for Apartment Hotel in Pasadena.
The only property we now have together is 75 foot front new building in central business district which I planned but never have seen but am told its a beauty.
Only one of our many deals was a dud--Theatre at Fallbrook. Ralph is a great guy with lots of drive and a way of handling people.
Anytime I get in a jam he can work it out and there is nothing he would not do for me or for Dan. Has done pretty well for himself and is worth a million. His one weakness is never delegating authority. In every deal or business he always carries the load. Makes all the decisions, unravels all the snarls.
Ralph is a great hand for hunting. Is best shot with a shot gun I have ever seen. He generally took me along on his trips and he would shoot a limit for himself and another for me.
We went to Blythe and Imperial Valley for doves and again for ducks. Went to Tulelake on state northern border for ducks and geese. For big game we went to Wyoming where we got 4 moose, 3 bucks and an elk. He now plans trip around World stopping off in India and Africa for real big game. Wish I could go along. We went to Mexico dozens of times. Dan and I had many enjoyable trips.
When cousin Joe Vanderveer was here one summer along with Grant Phillips and Bill we packed into the Kings River Canyon country, pretty wild then but opened by roads since. We took in nearly all the parks, the Grand Canyon country, pretty Yosemite, Zion, and Yellowstone. We went to Alaska and inland from Skagway to White Horse on the Yukon. Dan was a fine fellow to go with, never complained and liked to do the same things I did.
Our last trip was through the southern states to Florida and there I caught a bad cold but kept going and think that brought on my asthma, either that or the whooping cough I had at Corona.
At Alhambra there were a number of fellows that did a lot of hunting and most of them were good shots but the trip was the thing rather than the game.
Val Woodbury, Dr. Duesnell and a couple others and I went up to Bodfish reached through Mojave Desert via Walker Pass and near Kernville and Isabelle, now being moved to make lake above a dam being built on Kern River.
We generally camped near an old codger who had pack of dogs trained to track and tree mountain lions. We hunted quail, rabbits and in season deer. Leigh Railsbach went on one of these trips and shot a buck as he was returning to camp. We dressed it and wanted to hang it up to cool but he was so excited he put it in back of car and went right home to tell of his prowess. A few days later he broke the news that not letting it cool out had spoiled the meat so we were all out of luck.
A bunch of us went down to Imperial Valley for ducks. Started from Alhambra about midnight. There was bright moonlight so we decided to try shooting ducks we could hear feeding in the flooded fields. I could see ducks skimming along the surface of the water and tho I shot repeatedly at them had no results. I reported this to others and they had a laugh, I had been shooting at the shadows cast on water by the flying ducks.
As we were leaving the ponds at sun-up a big flock of blackbirds went over and I let them have both barrels. 24 came down so we had blackbirds on toast for breakfast. To secure blinds we had to go to the Mussel Point Club House which we found crowded. Among others were some lady hunters and R.G. Field and Frank Andres, both specialists in profanity, were each looking for the other to warn him about presence of ladies.
R.G. Field and I went on a fishing trip and camped on the Sesho beyond and above Fillmore. When we had made camp and were ready to lie down I asked R.G. what that terrible racking coughing noise was. He replied that an old man named McDoodle had come up there 20 years before on account of his T.B. and that he was still alive but had to cough every so often. The cough continued all night and I couldn't sleep for thinking of his suffering. Next day on way home R.G. told me that cough was really from a tin can on the exhaust of an oil well engine placed there so attendant could tell if working and lack of it would awaken him.
On one of my hunting trips to Tulelake there were a dozen of us from Alhambra that took dinner together at the local hotel. All were crack shots except me but insisted I share equally with them in the more than 200 ducks and geese. I felt that I was being given a free ride and wanted to do something for the bunch so the last night I invited them to have a Champagne Dinner on me. It was a great success as some of the fellows were pretty well lit even before we sat down but when I got the bill it was really something.
Same bunch still goes up there and always has a final big dinner and Ralph says they invariably stand and say a toast to the absent L.D.
Desert air and 3000 ft. altitude of Pear Blossom agreed with me and Dan thought same conditions favorable to his arthritic. Thought he'd like fruit raising. Prices at Little Rock too high and water condition around Pear Blossom very bad.
Thought Beaumont a better location, having good water conditions and dry air from desert only 10 miles east.
Dan bought 10 acre old cherry grove with good house. Hazel wanted to be close by so she bought an adobe house and two acres about 3 miles west. This house has large sitting room with fire place, two bedrooms and den, dining room, kitchen and a large rumpus room with another fireplace. House is well built with oil mixed adobe and with partitions also of adobe. Sitting and dining rooms are finished with adobe bricks showing.
We bought an attractive stone cottage at Fallsvale above Forrest Home in San Bernardino Mts. but did not use it much. We were there with Dan's and the Martins on Dan's birthday when a neighbor brought word Dan's house had burned down but neighbors had saved much of the furniture.
Dan and Betty got a place to live in Beaumont while a new house was being built. This was during World War II so it was hard to get building material but Dan's popularity along with some scarce lumber and plumbing from my Alhambra friends enabled him to rebuild.
Owner of the remaining 8 acre cherry grove of our 10 acre parcel threatened to sell to some niggers so Dan took that over.
Having a chance to sell his home place he did so and bought 27 acres on Oak Glen Road with 18 acres of full bearing Golden Delicious Apples and 2 acres cherries. Residence is in canyon reached by half mile private road. On west and north sides of house are immense live oaks hundreds of years old. Betty named the ranch "Sleepy Hollow". They built onto house an addition with living room, four bedrooms, two baths and two fireplaces.
He has interset the 40 ft. apart apple trees with other varieties of apples and cherries. His method of marketing is both unique and cost saving. He has mailing list of 1500. People come in cars and he furnishes them with pails and ladders and weighs the cherries they pick collecting 10 to 20 cents per pound. Many bring their lunches and their kids. They come in slacks, overalls, shorts, and bathing suits. On Sundays there are hundreds of cars, thousands in the Valley.
When ripe, cherries have to be picked as they only last a few days.
Dan likes apples better, they stay good for weeks and can be put in cold storage. He has a packing house on main highway between Valley and Oak Glen, 4 miles above where most of apples are raised. Hires pickers and runs apples thru grader that brushes them off and sorts them according to size. Puts them in 2nd hand boxes loose and gets $1.00 to $3.50 for them. Culls and wind falls are traded for cider for which he has heavy demand at 90 cent gallon. The very small apples are sold to Mexicans who peddle them from door to door in Mexico one apple to a family. Dan allows 15 cents for the box and these poor fellows dump the apples in car or pickup and thus save cost of boxes.
Dan's variety is in big demand among peddlers, fruit stands and even the Oak Glen growers so he has no trouble getting rid of crop right at road side. Apples take more care than cherries. In addition to irrigating by sprinklers and cultivating ground it is necessary to prune, thin and spray about 11 times for the various pests that beset them.
Dan's kids, Laddie 10, Irene 8, Ann 7, and Gingie Pie 3, are a lively bunch and we get a big kick out of having them so near us. They are always ready to sing, dance or clown and don't have to be coaxed. Their ever increasing menagerie includes goats, chickens, ducks, dogs, cats and Hazel just bought them a young burro they are learning to ride.
Bettie is a wonderful mother and has something brewing for them all the time. She makes most of their clothes. She belongs to a number of clubs and teaches in the Sunday School. Their home is the popular gathering place of the Martins and of their many friends.
Dan is active in school, hospital and farm circles. He has an Oakie who has been with him for years and who is very good in handling the various utensils used in fruit growing.
Dan pays us a late afternoon daily visit which we appreciate greatly.
Hazel likes it here. She has some close friends in Beaumont and Banning and they get together for cards or a trip weekly or oftener. She takes a very active part in church doings especially the Guild, of which she is serving her second term as Pres. As head of the annual bazaar she made a profit of $1100., much in excess of any previous one.
The Rector of St. Stephens is Robert Key whom we knew as a little boy at Corona and where younger brother was a special friend of Dan's.
Beaumont is a slow town of 3500 with very little business tho on 99, the main southern hi-way to east. In one respect it is outstanding, have about 30 eating places of which a half dozen are really good and attract business from all surrounding towns. We get very little fog here and none of the smog that besets Los Angeles and adjacent communities.
Hazel always has a good up to date car and does a lot of driving. she is a fine driver.
Palm Springs is only about 35 miles east of us and we are near the Freeway that is nearly continuous from L.A., east this far and beyond.
We all like it here and the climatic conditions are favorable both summer and winter. All the months and years I have been confined indoors Hazel has seen that I got the best of care and has done it so willingly that it has made it much easier and more bearable for me.