Rural Bryant, SD, Presents:
Part I, "Early Years,"
Two Excerpts of the Autobiography
of Florence N. Foreman Chapin,
Native of Bryant, SD,
I stuck with Florence Chapin's spelling, which was unique to her, as it expresses her better than if I corrected anything.--Ed.
Now let me tell you where I was born. It was on a farm located 4 miles North of Manchester, South Dakota in Kingsbury County. The home town of our painter Harvey Dunn. It was on the bank of the Red Stone Creek. I joined my Father-Sidney, Mother-Hazel, Sister-Luella, and later a Brother-Robert born into our family - he died in infancy. They named me Florence Nadeen, my last name was Foreman. It was a short time after my brother died that my mother died. My mother's parents, Peter and Elizabeth Ferguson, agreed to take on the job of rearing my sister and I. They had a large family of 11 children of their own. Some of the older children were married and left the nest but for a while there was quite a few of us at home. I was the youngest of all.
We had a large butte 1 mile East of Grandpa's farm we used to climb and walk up on. You could see the town of DeSmet, South Dakota 4 miles South and 8 miles East of us from up there. The Indians had burried their dead up on it It had sunken holes and stones. Many crocus (our state flower) grew in the spring on it so we used to pick the crocdus and bring bouquets home. That was a fascinating thing to do to hunt them. During the dirty thirtys a few arrow heads were found up there on the Butte also. The grasshoppers were terrible thick. You couldn't walk without stepping on them and crushing them.
My grandfather let the township build a school house on the corner of his yard giving them the land to set it on. The school was called the Ferguson school. They got the drinking water to drink from the well on Grandpa's farm. The kids took turns carrying it from the well. I had only to cross the yard to go to school and started school at the age of 5 years. The teacher, Marjorie Moore, sort of babied me. Once she let me bring a little pair of scissors home from school. My grandpa was a honest man and figured I might have taken them without permission so that very night he made me take them back over to the school house. Now I was afraid it was dark outside but, I went. My sister and Aunt followed me to make sure I did go put them back. I opened up the school door and threw them in. Next morning they asked the teacher if I had permission to bring scizzors home. She said Yes! I told her she could take them home and use them. It made quite an impression on me.
Grandpa played his violin about every evening. During these years the neighbors, George Mulinberg family, used to come up to our house and visit. They had musical instruments and talen to play as did my grandpa. He played his violin, John my uncle played the according and uncle George played the guitar and some other instruments. Uncle Truman played a harmonica, and Aunt Doris the piano. So there was some good times enjoyed. I usually ended up going upstairs to bed. I was younger and needed the rest.
There was a few times I got hurt. I had gone to a circus and saw them perform. Us kids decided to stretch a 4 X 4 plank across 2 barrels and walk the plank. All was well until I had a one foot slip and the plank came down on my wrist as I fell to the ground. The result was an arm in a sling made from an old dish towel. It helped to hold my arm up. It hurt a lot but they never took us to a doctor in those days. My Grandma rubbed black tar and linament on it. It was rather sticky and the tar smelled but if you didn't mind the odor it wasn't so bad.
My sister was two years older than I and my Aunt 4 years older. We used to play hide and go seek out in the yards. One time we couldn't find my sister so left her go as it was time to go in for our evening meal we called supper. When we sat down to the table Grandma said, "Where's Luella?" We told her we couldn't find her. So out we all went looking for her. When we got near her she called out "here I am". She had fallen asleep in an old dirt scraper she climbed into and when she awoke was scared of the dark so she lay there until we came to find her. She also fell down a hole in the hay mow. It had been slightly covered by hay. She went across it and down she went falling straddle of an old sow's back in the pen below. Later she couldn't walk for a few weeks. I felt so sorry for her as she couldn't come out to play with us, only watch us out the window.
My Grandfather and Grandmother and Aunt Doris went for a visit in another state leaving my sister and I in the care of our Aunt Blanche. We had a granary we climbed up into as the bin was empty so we had taken a rope over the rafters with a board seat and made a swing. One day, Luella and I were out there swinging and the rope busted. I fell on a board with a spike nail sticking upwards in it. Driving the spike with the board on it into my leg just below the knee. I walked part way to the house with the spike and board in my leg. Aunt came and met me and she had to pull the board and nail out of my leg. Then she made bread poultice and put on it to draw out the poison. My aunt had to hitch up old Spot to the buggy as she couldn't leave me alone and I couldn't walk after the cows so I created a little problem.
It was in the spring and we always gathered the eggs from goose nests to save until we put under the goose later when she went to set on her eggs. The older kids talked me into climbing under the granary as I was smaller and dumber to reach the nest. So this time the old goose was on her nest and out she came and grabbed me with her beak and gave me a good flopping with her wings. I never forgot it! The other kids laughed and thought it was funny.
We had several miles to go down to the pasture and bring the cows home to milk. The pasture was across the road from Grandpa's farm buildings. When the Red Stone Creek got high on its banks and the cows couldn't be chased to the bridge across it they'd swim across anywhere. I can recall grabbing a cow by the tail, hanging on, and she'd swim you across to the other side of the creek. We used to have to be careful going bare foot in this creek because there were crabs that would grab your toe and bite you. I remember they were weird looking. We had a teacher once that liked to go down and catch them and eat them. She knew how to cook them and to her they were a delicacy. I never envied her.
Once I got chased by our bull. It was near the barn so I ran to the hay rack climbed into it and on up into the hay loft of the barn. Of course I never forgot this.
Grandpa had lots of animals. A lot of horses to farm with a pair of mules. Jack and Jinny were their names. It was quite a thing to get them all tot he barn to feed. If one would go out and whistle their tune they'd all come stringing along to get their oats. It was put in boxes by the mangers where they were filled with hay for them to eat. Sometimes the chicken hens got in the boxes and layed eggs. Then the men would just break the egg over the oats and let the horses eat them. It made their coats of hair nice and slick and shinny. We had a jackass we called Maude. Us kids road her. She had broke into the granary and ate till she fondered herself. Then her hoofs grew shaped like a rocking chair. She had a tough mouth. The bit didn't phase her. She pretty much went wherever she wanted to go be it up a ditch or down it. She always smelt like a mule. We had a lot of fun with her anyway.
We also had Spot, a small Indian pony. We rode her after cows. Sometimes she had a habit of putting her head down and letting you fall over her head and neck to the ground. When the cattle wouldn't hurry home she'd go up behind them and bite them on their behind.
Grandpa owned a bull called Salt & Pepper. The boys used to ride him. He was tame and gentle. When the Uncles were still home, they hitched a team up to the bob sled (sometimes we used it for a stone boat.) It had cast iron runners under it. We would all climb on it to go for a ride over the snow. They used to hitch on a board and we would go board riding. Falling off in snow and running to catch up was a lot of fun.
One bright crisp winter day my sister, two aunts, and I decided to go down to the creek near where I was born. It was covered with ice. We just skated on it with our shoes as we had no skates. I stood upon the bridge where a steel railing was on both sides looking down. I put my tongue on the cold railing. It stuck so I yanked it loose leaving some skin on the railing. It began to bleed and the other kids got excited. They thought I was bleeding to death so they got me on the sled and ran home as fast as they could go. Home was about 3/4 miles away and about halfway, they decided to check my tongue and it wasn't bleeding anymore. I caught a good jacking up as I had't reported it to them.
The teacher in those days built the furnace fire in the school each morning unless they had someone else to do it. One morning the teacher was late so a neighbor built the fire getting it warmed up for us kids. I happened to stand up close to the open door of the furance. I had my winter coat on and it caught fire in the back burning a big hole in my coat. The neighbor men saw it was smoking and grabbed me and patted it out.
It was when I was in the 4th grade my grandparents decided to move down on a farm by DeSmet, South Dakiota that they owned. Leaving the uncles on the old home place by Manchester, Grandpa was getting older and needed to cut back on some of the field work. It was quite a change going to town school coming in from the country. Now we had to walk to and from school 1 1/2 miles. One morning my sister, a neighbor girl, and myself were on our way to school walking down the road. A neighbor came up behind us in his car and waited to honk his horn until he was right behind us. My sister and the other girl took one ditch and I took the other. The neighbor girl decided to run across the road into the other ditch and the car had to take the ditch I was in to avoid hitting the girl. He then hit me in the ditch and scraped the back of my legs pretty bad so the jolt was felt. I sat on the bumper where it caught my legs and folded them. I sure hung on best I could to the car. He got it stopped just before we hit the fence. That was the only time we ever got a ride to school with him.
It had a nice teacher. She gave me a pencil with a tastle on it for being the best writer in my class. This really puffed me up. I suppose there was about 30 pupils in the 4th grade class. We were getting into the 1930s. The winter was very cold with many blizzards. One day they let school out early so naturally I started to walk home in the blizzard. A man living in DeSmet saw me and figured I'd never make it home so he got water and put in his car radiator and started out after me. I got within 1/2 mile of home by the time he caught up to me. My hands, legs, and face were froze somewhat. He got snow and put on my face before he'd take me further. Our clothes were thin, our mittens poor, and we were not dressed as warm as we could have been. No money to buy anything without any crops. It was the dirty thirties coming. The wind blew and dust storms came. No money to even pay taxes. We had vegetables, milk and eggs and a chicken to eat. Not much fruit and the animals we had couldn't sell as no one had money to buy.
My Grandma owned two big black pans she filled them with Johnny cake for supper sometimes. That would be all we'd have. There was a couple of the kids that didn't like it so they got a crust of bread saved for them to chew on. We used just milk and sugar on our piece of cornbread split open on our plates. I can recall when us kids were very young the family law was to eat your food on your plate before you could have anymore so us kids had the habit of sticking our crusts underneath the table where there was a board that braced the table in each corner. It was ideal hiding place for them. In these same black pans Grandma made home made bread and each pan held three big loaves of bread side by side.
Cottage cheese was always made in big batches as there was plenty of milk to make it from. Our cream was churned by putting it into a syrup pail and shaking it until the buttermilk divided fromt he butter. Then the butter was washed and all liquid patted out of it then salt was added. Later when I married and keeping house and had work done I knew how to churn butter and always baked my own home made bread and made lots of cottage cheese.
We used to butcher our own pigs. Grandpa had a smnoke house made from tin. He used to get some hickory wood or apple log and made a fire and smoke the bacon and hams. Lots of meat was home canned in those days. Clair [Florence's husband] and I used to butcher. We skinned the pig skin off the meat with sharp butcher knives. Then I'd take Morton smoked salt and bub on the hams. Soak and cure the bacon in a brine made out of smoke salt. When it was ready to eat we would take a piece out of brine, slice it, and parboil it in skim milk to get the salt from it. Then fry it down after pouring the milk off. It was delicious. I canned a lot of meat and vegetables also as I always raised a big garden. Grandma raised a big garden also. Potato digging [took] several days. We picked potatoes and hauled into the basement. There was plenty for us a few extra to give away. So no one ever went hungry at our house.
When we caught a cold we had a stocking that we wrapped around our necks after we put goose grease on that was from a pan on the back of the heating stove. We rubbed it on our throat and swallowed a spoon or so on the inside first. Another remedy we used was several drops of kerosene on a little sugar in a spoon. When we swallowed the kerosene it seemed to cut the cold. We had quinine, a powder, we took for a headache. A laxative was castor oil or epson salts. When we had the measles Grandma brought us hot lemonade. We stayed in bed mostly then. I can recall having pink eye. It's very painful. I had to wear a blind fold and have no light on my eyes. We were pretty healthy and were used to no pampering. I was pretty old before I ever saw the inside of a doctor's office. They just didn't take us to doctors then - hardly ever. I was married and probably thirty five years old before I went to a dentist.
Grandpa owned six quarters of land so taxes still had to be paid. You couldn't sell the land either. They wouldn't let Grandpa on W.P.A. as he owned land. I remember Grandma took a regular tree branch and decorated it up for Christmas. If we got a gift it was necessities like shoes, et. We never burnt any coal. We cut down trees having a 1/2 mile of solid timber. I helped Grandpa fall quite a few trees. Then we cut the logs up by hand with saws on a saw horse. My sister and I usually did this and then Grandpa would split the stumps with a wedge he drove into the stump with a wedge he drove into the stump with a sledge hammer or an axe. We'd then carry and stack them into the back porch a week's supply at a time. We had a wood burning stove plus a cook stove to heat the house. The downstairs house was always warm, but there was a few nights we heated bricks and wrapped them in cloth and took to bed and kept our feet warm until we got the bed upstairs warmed up.
I can remember the white frost on the top covers where I breathed on. We had no heated rooms. We had no windmill and pumped our house water and carried it into the house in pails.
This well water we pumped was also used to water the horses. We had a tank we pumped full for them. We had a shallow well dug down by the slough where the weater was close to the surface about 8 feet down. Grandpa made a frame around the well. We had a rope with a pail tied on it which we flipped over in the water pulling it up and dumped into the tank for the cows to drink. one day I was down pulling water for the cows and a storm was approaching. The wind started to blow. I got back to the house just in time as the dust was so heavy the darkness came just like night time. Grandma opened the cellar door and we went down in the basement. There had been rumors that the world was coming to an end. But it was a dirt storm and left a lot of unwanted dust and dirt all over. Nothing grew in fields but thistles.
Just about this time my Aunt Blanche needed some help. She had a new baby. The other two children were 7 and 2 year olds. My Aunt was very ill in bed for quite a while after the youngest was born. So I did the cooking, washing dishes, and also washed clothes over the board as there was no washing machine. I was 11 years old [imagine heaping all this heavy adult labor on a 11 year old today in 2014! It would be called child labor, which is illegal and would carry a penalty, probably prosecution, fines and even perhaps jail-time, for anyone who subjected a child of that age to this kind of work, but back then it was a necessity for someone to do such work, when adults were incapacitated for some reason. You just couldn't go and hire someone and pay them wages, as there was absolutely no money available for hired help, and if family couldn't pitch in, well, everyone would have suffered dearly! This goes to show, that laws can be unworkable, in certain circumstances, and if applied, they will create greater injustice and misery than if things were just left as they were, and the people do what is necessary for their own survival, without the government's intervention with its unworkable, unrealistic laws.
As for what Florence describes happened to her at age 11, it occurred about 1934, during the thick of the Dirty Thirties, with its incredible dust storms, drought, famine, and plagues of locusts adding to the misery of man and beast, not to mention the general economic doldrums of the Great Depression that gripped the entire nation until WWII broke out and the war industries ignited a revival of the economy.--Ed.].
My aunt told me to bake a cake so I was more than delighted as I'd never done this before. I liked to cook and still like to. Not only that, I enjoy eating. One can tell that by looking at me! Well, anyway she had a flour sifter that measured just 2 cups. Everyone made cakes (by scratch) they called it in those days. There was no mixes in the stores to buy. She told me how to add the ingredients when it come to putting in the flour she said add 2 cups of flour, so I pout two sifters of flour in the batter which equaled 4 cups all told. So when the cake was done it was rather dry and solid. My aunt said, "What did you do?" Of course we figured it out. But as I recall we ate the cake anyway. No one threw food away if it was at all edible in those days. So I started right out being a poor cook. But acquired a few skills in that time since.
My cousin and I used to walk after the sheep in the morning. I can still smell the aroma outdoors as we got close to the house of fresh perked coffee. My Aunt perked her coffee on the old cook stove. MMM the delightful aroma of it in the air.
We always had to dig a grave with a shovel or burn down an old straw pile with dead animals in those days. There was no dead animal truck to call upon. It was a job I detested to have to dig a grave, but it did happen that I helped several times.
My uncle owned and do at the same time.
My Uncle drove a Model T Coupe. It was light in weight, not much room for passengers. When my Uncle, Aunt, myself and their three kids got packed into it there was no room to spare. But of course we usually all didn't go the same time.
My uncle worked some on W.P.A. a project the government originated to help the poor. They received commodities now and then. They got canned meat, etc. Sometimes theyt had a quarter of fresh beef that was given away if you got it before it was kept too long without refridgeration. There was no refrigerators. The butter and other things were put in a pail and dropped down in the cool cistern or basement to keep as cool as we could until we drew it up at meal time or whenever.
I stayed two summers and a winter with them. So I went back to the old Ferguson school again as they only lived 3 miles from there. One morning my uncle was gong to crank up the Model T Coupe car. We had to take my cousin and I to school. The crank back fired and broke my uncle's arm. I had to run 3/4 mile to the neighbors for help to take Uncle to the doctor.
My uncle made a thistle burner out of a barrel. It had handles on the sides, a draft door at bottom, and the top lid came off. It had a chimney pipe at the back. Every night my cousin and I took the barrel out to the thistle stack and filled and packed this barrel with thistles, carried it in and set it up to light a fire the next morning. This took the chill off the house as the hard coal stove was very slow to heat up till it got started good. It's a wonder that the thistle burner didn't burn the house down as it got very blood red and very hot around it.
In the summer my uncle told my cousin andI if we'd swat flys outside the house he'd give us a penny for every one hundred flys we swatted. So we really tried to earn a fortune for a while. Well, at the end of the second summer I stayed at my Aunts. I decided they could manage without me. My Aunt was better by now. I wanted to go back home to Grandpa's. The summer I was 13 years old we were getting a little crop again after the worst of the thirties were gone by. So just my Grandpa and my uncle were around to do the threshing. My Grandpa owned his own thresher. Uncle John lived on the place by Manchester. He was now married. They were short of help so Grandpa offered me a job for 50 cents a day hauling bundles. I first helped spike pitch and later hauled with a team and rack and pitched into the thresher. A brother-in-law of my uncle's helped out also. So we had quite a crew. I had helped with the shocking of grain before and that fall I shocked a field of cane which was taller than my head. Grandpa hauled it up and stacked it later to feed the cows. We always milked cows so there were nightly chores to do after school. My sister and I got into a disagreement when carrying hay to the barn for the cows. I got some hay down her neck and she threw her pitch fork at me. It landed with one tine going in the side of my ankle. It swelled up and I couldn't get a shoe on for several days. Grandma made a flax poultice and put it on it to draw the poison out. So I stayed home from school for a few days.
My aunt had graduated from high school and went up to Bartron Hospital in Watertown to take her nurses' training so there was only Grandparents, sister and I at home.
The summer I was 16 years old some folks,a mother and two sons by Manchester,needed a hired girl. So I went to help them out. There I stayed and worked for two years. I got $2.50 a week. It bought my clothes. I was mostly running the household as the lady was older and sort of senile. She forgot things and was unable to work. The one brother got married that summer so he brought his wife there to live also until fall. We got along well and we cooked for threshers three weeks that year. There was always several hired men to cook for also. I made baking powder biscuits every morning for breakfast as that was what they liked. They were made from cream and baked in the old cook stove oven when it was really a hot oven.
The mother and one son went on vacation for two weeks that summer to Illinois so I went back to Grandparents' home as the newly weds wanted to be alone for that time. Grandpa had bought a Model A Ford car and the salesman showed me how to shift gears, etc. Grandma had to take the cream and eggs down town to sell. We had usually carried them so I told Grandma I cold drive her down in the car (my first car driving as I had never driven before. Grandpa took the wagon and team over to the field. I had to put water into the car radiator so I got the water for it and over come a yearling colt goofing around and fell thru the boards across the well opening into the well head first and neck pinned under her. I ran out to the field to tell Grandpa. He drove the wagon and team back and put a rope under the colt's neck and head. He hitched the team on to the rope and pulled the colt right out of the well. The colt was unhurt. So then I drove Grandma down town. I soon learned to slow down around corners otherwise we got by o.k.
Well! I went back to Moore's to work. My sister worked in Manchester for a family with a new baby. So we went a few places together. I had my first date with my husband, Clair Anderson, about this time. We double dated a few times with my sister and her boyfriend....So we became sweethearts.
The other Moore brother was going to get married so I quit working there and got a job in DeSmet working for a dentist and family awhile. I didn't like it there so quit and went to work for the druggist and family. I liked it there and stayed until my husband and I got married in June.
We planned to get married on June 10th and did. The big celebration of Old Settlers day was in DeSmet. So rather than get married in DeSmet, we went to Lake Preston and got married. My sister and Clair's cousin stood up with us. We came back to DeSmet and celebrated the rest of the day. Then we went to Huron, stayed in a hotel and on to Wolsey, South Dakota for a short honeymoon.
Clair and I always attended the DeSmet Old Settlers day on June 10th since it was our wedding anniversary. On our 31st wedding anniversary Captain 11 was in town. He came over and said, "I hate to come between husband and wife on their anniversary, but just watch we do it." We had our picture taken together.
We came back and lived with Clair's folks from June until October as Clair was farming with his dad. We had a few chickens to lay eggs and a cow to milk, so we made ice cream.
Spring came and we got a farm security loan and started farming on our own. We rented several different places at this time.
During the war years we had a good Model A Ford but tires were poor and rubber was scarce so had to trade the Model A for a coupe car that had better tires as we couldn't get tires for the Model A.
One day we drove down to see Clair's folks and show them the car. I'd gotten 600 baby chicks in the brooder house. They were all right we figured. We came home, the wind had come up and the brooder stove had gotten sort of high. We got it regulated and went in to eat our evening meal, came back out to go milk the cows and the brooder house was afire. We carried water from the cistern as fast as we could pump it and got the fire out. But only saved around 100 chicks. We moved over by Bryant on a farm we rented 6 1/2 years.
inder. We cut and shocked our grain and hired a threshing machine to thresh it. I drove the tractor and Clair rode the binder.
We milked cows and raised chickens to lay eggs to sell. We separated the milk and cream and sold the cream. We turned the seperator by hand until the later years when we got an electric seperator. We bought baby calves at the sale barn and taught them how to drink from a pail. We always had more milk than the cows' calves could drink after we seperated it. This made a few more chores but we had something to sell later. The money came in handy.
One day when doing the evening milking we always used kickers on our cows so they couldn't step when milking them by hand. Clair sit just behind me with a cow he was milking and had the kickers on her. My cow also had kickers on her. His cow got started kicking raising both feet up and back coming down and up again. My cow figured she she'd better follow so up went her feet too. Now here I was between two kicking cows so I jumped out behind them. I could only go as far as the wall about four feet back so I dodged first one cow and then the other until they kicked off the kickers. Then they stopped. I shook a little afterwards for a little while. By the way kickers are a strong chain with two clamps that fit around the cows legs and sort of have a hole to fasten them on.
We cut and baled alfalfa bales so we usually hauled and moved them back up into the haymow for the winter. I always helped with haying driving the tractor and stacked hay by hand with a pitch fork making sure it would split a rain drop so the hay would keep well. Later years we got a man to come with a hay hauler and moved the haystacks by the barn for winter cattle feeding.
It wasn't always work and no play. We used to enjoy going fishing at Lake Byron, Lake Norden and Cherry Lake close by us. I'd help the neighbors with chores. They milked cows too. She was afraid of the cows. I did theirs and ours. The men were in the field. When they came home we had a picnic supper and a trip to the lake planned for the evening. We also went fishing with my aunt and uncle and their kids quite a few times coming home. One time we decided to do our chores and then theirs and then aunt and I fried home dressed chickens that she had raised and had ready for the fry pan. This was 12 o'clock midnite. I suppose we must not of caught any fish that they decided to boast our morale by frying chicken and eating it. They were happy times.
Usually we packed tuna sandwiches and beans in case we didn't catch fish. We usually caught a few bull heads.
We used to hurry with supper and the chores on Wednesday and Saturday nights in the summer to go to the town nearby. Maybe Bryant or DeSmet it depended upon where we lived. If you didn't get in early with your cream and eggs to sell and then find a parking spot it was a little difficult to park on main street. These little towns were booming then. After we got our cream and egg check we bought the necessary groceries for the week supply. If there was some money left over we usually treated ourselves to the local movie, popcorn, and maybe if there was enough money we went into the cafe and had a banana split before going home to a good nights sleep.
Well! It was one of these nights when we went into Bryant on Saturday night. I'd gotten a nice spring coat and hat. Yes, we were all dressed up and a hat was necessary too. We decided to go into the appliance store. The automatic pump came out on washing machines. Clair and I decided to see it. So the demonstrator of the machine turned it on. He'd had some dirty clothes he'd washed before in it, and I'm not sure what happened but there was this big hose the water went into and out it came spraying me from head to toe. The man was completely embarrassed. I was soaked. So we had to go home. I couldn't change clothes and go back as we only had one set of town clothes the rest were everyday clothes you never wore any place else. You could buy a ice cream cone for 5 cents and a package of gum for 5 cents. Usually candy bars were 5c also. Our payments when we sold our products were equally the same so it was just as hard to find spare money than as any other time.
There was never any snow plows to clean our roads out in the winter time. You either shoveled it open by hand or stayed home until it melted. If the road was blocked the carrier of mail didn't have to bring your mail only made the effort as far as he could go. We had a few winters of lots of snow and were blocked in. There was some real big blizzards that we lived through.
We were married 7 years and no babys. We decided to adopt a child so applied thru the State Welfare. We were interviewed and accepted. We got a letter saying they had a little boy we could bring home when we saw him if we wanted him. So we made an appointment going early and staying overnite in a hotel. We were both tired so ordered a few sandwiches up to our room. Clair put the order in for four sandwiches. We figured that we'd each eat two sandwiches a piece. That's what we called two slices of bread put together. When the waiter came with them we had four plates with two sandwiches on each plate. Clair didn't want them to know he was so dumb so we kept the sandwiches and ate them.
Next day we went to see our son. He was so cute and we fell in love with him right away so he came home with us. They loaned us the clothes he had been wearing. We stopped in Huron, South Dakota and bought a complete layette for David. We called him David Roy because Clair said, "name him something easy to spell when he goes to school, something short." And we both liked the name of David Roy. He was 6 months old and weighed 12 1/2 lbs when we got him. He seemed to gain readily and grew catching up to size later. We were very proud of him.
We started David in Sunday School at age of 5 years. We joined the Manchester Orthodox Presbyterian church then also. David and I were baptized. Clair was already a baptized member as a child. I taught Sunday Schoola nd was a Superintendent a few years. Also taught Bible School in Manchester. On Christmas Eve we put on a program and passed out candy sacks to everyone. Later on I taught Sunday School and Bible School in Bancroft Orthodox Presbyterian church. The two churches were affiliated. Then I taught Sunday School quite a few years in Willow Lake Presbyterian church. I enjoyed this very much always getting more out of it than I gave. I hope my pupils were inspired also. It was a rewarding job.
One day after a day of regular work time approachd to go get David from school and a salesman stopped by. I finally got him dismissed as it was time to go pick up David from school. We had about four miles to go after him. Just north of our place about one half mile was two hills up one down the hill and up the next hill and down again. I was running late so was going about thirty five miles per hour. As I got over the second hill (couldn't see over the hill until you were upon whatever was behind it) there set a car with three hunters in it smack dab in the center of the road. My brain flashed a quick response to me. It said, "take the ditch if you hit them head on you'll all be killed." So in a split second I poulled over to my passing side of the car into the slope going into the ditch. As I drove I saw then where I could maybe pass. Iw as one inch from hitting and scrapping their car on the side. I kept my cool as I passed them. I pulled my car up on the road letting up my nerve. The car then swayed and I figured it was going to roll but, somehow I got it under control. Thanking my Lord for a close call. It was several years later and a person we had baling alfalfa for us said to me "you had a narrow escape north of here aways didn't you?" I said "how did you know,?" and he said, "cause I was one of the three in the car." We thought we were all going for a second. So I found out who they were and knew that God had guided me as it was a narrow escape. I said nothing just thanking my Lord for his guidance.
We lived in a rented place. The corner of the house near the foundation had an opening in it. The honey bees found a home too. So one winter my husband, Clair, his nephew, and a neighbor decided to investigate under the floor sills. In the basement they cut a hole thru the rocks to get under a crawl space and there found oodles of honey. They filled up several tubs squaling with delight. We rendered the honey cone and separated the honey. It was simply delicious. We all had honey that winter. They made a door for future convenience to get into the bee business but the bees decided to leave then.
It was these same years that my husband was going out to plow and decided to set the wheel of the tractor out. The wrench slipped and it threw him against the plow brace breaking two ribs. Ig ot him intot he car and drove him into town about 5 miles per hour as every bump hurt him. I had to milk the cows and chor for a while by myself.
It was from this farm we moved to the farm we purchased by Bancroft. We were about ready to move when I got the mumps. I was 39 years old. David had them a while before I got them. It seemed everyone who never had mumps was getting them that year. So Clair had inside and outside work to do and took David to and from school.
We took several trips but mostly kept on the job. It was hard to get someone to milk cows. We always milked our same cows morning andnight.
We had some stray dogs that came over to visit us in the night. David slept upstairs in the house and heard the dogs barking and got up and came down and told us but by the time Clair got the gun loaded and got out by the barn they had disappeared. They had tore the wool and killed several sheep. We finally shut up our sheep sot he dogs couldn't get them then they went over to a neibhors about five miles away and attacked his flock. He stayed out and layed for them catching them. That ended that.
Clair went to the sale barn and bought 3 geese and a pony. The pony wasa bealutiful black trick riding pony. David was to have him but it was ok in the fall both Clair and David rode him then he was in the barn and David fed him oats. Come spring David took and rode him one day as he couldn't hold him back with the bridle. He threw David off fortunately where there was a snow bank that he lit into otherwise he might of broke his neck. So we took the pony back to the sale barn finding out he would jump fences and do tricks. Clair gave David a calf from the pen of calves whichever he wanted. She grew up and raised a few calves for him. The geese was quite a deal too. All three were ganders and we found out we traded a gander for a gander and no eggs came. It's amazing how many people can't tell a goose from a gander. So back to the sale barn went the geese too.
I took up a hobby I had spent sometime doing ceramics at my neighbor's house. She had her shop in her basement. I made gifts mostly for others. One day when she was oil painting and free hand drawing she let me try it and I liked it. I decided to get my own paints and canvas. I was given an easel so I painted quite a few pictures giving some away and sold a few. After Clair passed away I never did do much more painting. Like on the farm I had a painting room so it was neve so handy again to pick it up and leave it without a painting room.
Through out the yars I always made and took my Grandmother a birthday cake on her birthday. It was th 21st of March. She lived and owned the house where Ma & Pa Charles Ingalls lived that's now on display in DeSmet. My Grandmother was 98 years old when she died so there was quite a few cakes I made for her. We held open house for her on her 9oth birthday at her home. Maxine Thomas (Laura Ingalls Wilder's cousin) became a good friend of my Grandmother. Maxine lived in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. I corresponded for Grandmother with Maxine. Grandma went blind so I did write for her. I got to know Maxine through her letters and corresponded with her after Grandmother didn't. Maxine called Grandma on her birthday wishing her well. The Laura Ingalls Wilder Society now owns this property I always call my Grandma's home.
We bought our farm in Bancroft territory in the winter of 1961-1962 we moved there. We were busy settling in. David went to Bancroft school and graduated from high school there. Then in 1965 some of our friends and David decided to hold open house at the Bancroft auditorium in honor of our 25th wedding anniversary. It was a lovely time. There was over 100 people present. I could never forget the joy of it all.
David soon after went into the Navy as his draft number came up. So Clair and I were alone once again. Clair's health began to fail some. I took him to the hospital many times with pneumonia, etc the next four years.
It was August 7th, 1968 in harvest time. We had just finishd combining at our place. A neighbor needed someone to swath grain. Clair took on the job to help out. He was close by in the neighbor field that day. I was very busy washing clothes, going to town with cream and eggs to Willow Lake. I brought Clair lunch in the field . It looked sort of as if it might storm so Clair decided he better finish the field just in case it would go down. I was busy and never listened to the radio. Although others said the tornado warning was being declared all afternoon. It was a very hot, muggy, close day. I put the cows in the barn to milk waiting supper till Clair came in from the field.
It was late being he finished up. We ate, went out and milked the cows and turned them out of the barn, got into the house when it broke loose. The storm hit. Lights went out. I lit a candle, lights came back on. Buckets of water it seemed were being dumped on us. I believe we had 5 inches in a short time. With the tornado that struck we heard the squeak and bang and ripping of our buildings going down. We were busy trying to keep things dry. The shingles were ripped off the bedroom and kitchen roof tops. The weater was coming in all over, what a mess. Our bed, mattress etc. was ruined. When it was all over we waited until daybreak to see the damage. It was all gone. Our new car was destroyed sitting in the garage. We got the pickup out of the garage as it was just dented on the top so we saved that. Clair went into DeSmet, got the cream separator welded before we could separate, it was around 2:30 in the afternoon before we got the cows in the staunchions.
They were still fastened in the cement on the barn floor but the roof of the barn was gone and the cows weren't anxious to go into them. Well! We had cars and people came. Some were relatives and friends, others were sight seekers. Bumper to bumper the yard was full of cars. The road was full from Thursday thru Monday. It was a relief when they quit coming.
Clair went into DeSmet andhired two carpenters to rebuild our farm. So we had them the rest of the fall. We put the bathroom into the house. Now my husband was against putting the toilet indoors. He was a bit old fashioned but when winter came and the outhouse got all banked up with snow he resorted to the indoor plumbing.
Our son was in Viet Nam when the tornado hit our place, then went back to Guam before flying home that fall as he had served his time overseas. Then he went back to California where he was stationed on State side. He came home in the sprint time. When he went back to California he took his bride back with him. When his time was thru in the Navy he came back and lived in Huron where their son Shon, and our first grandson was born. We drove up to Huron January 16th to see our grandson. He was a big beautiful baby. I got to baby sit with him some and really enjoyed being Grandma. They later moved to Sheridan, Wyoming so it was rough not see them live so close but knew we had to let go. So we made several trips out to Wyoming to see our kids.
I've since acquired four more grandchildren--James, Michael, Raymond, and Angela. We only had the three oldest grandchildren when the spring of 1977 came. Clair had been in and out of hospital several different times with pneumonia.
In the spring of 1976 we bought a house in Bryant. We cleaned and painted this all up with the intentions of moving that fall. Then it was a dry year and not much crops. So Clair thought better wait until next year and sell out. We left the house setting empty in Bryant.
Then Clair had to have a tooth pulled. It didn't want to stop bleeding and wouldn't clot so we went back to Lake Preston dentist. Next day he packed it and got the bleeding stopped. Then his doctor in DeSmet wanted him to come in for tests at the hospital. We had to transfer him to Sioux Valley Hospital in Sioux Falls. He was there several weeks before they found cancer int he blood marrow of the bone--myloma of the spine. Then we got transferred to a motel.
I took him over to Medical X-ray Center five days a week, wheeled him in a wheel chair after I took him over in the car. He took cobalt and chemotherapy treatments. We came home to Bancroft the last of April. When we came thru DeSmet, I left him at his sisters. I went out to the Farm to start up the stove and get the house warmed up for Clair.
When I opened the door I had quite an experience. The table cloth in the table was hanging practically on the floor, magazines, etc. scattered all over. Breakfast food knocked over in the kitchen and scattered on the floor. I thought someone must of broke into the house. I crept in looked things over, found a dead black bird in the fish aquarium. He had gone in the water and couldn't get out. He was the culprit and did all the mess.
He had got down the chimney and when the draft on the stove pipe opened with wind blowing he had gotten thru and put in the house. So he must of got hungry and ate the breakfast food and needed some water to drink.
David came home a few days on Mother's Day he went back to Wyoming. Clair and I went to church and out to the Oxbow restaurant in DeSmet for dinner. We visited his sister and brother and family. Then we had some company, and several nights later Clair entered the DeSmet hospital and died two days later on May 14, 1977. David came home for the funeral and after he went home I started getting ready for a sale and held this on August 10th. David came back and helped with the sale and we moved some things over to Bryant house where I moved in.
God gives me joy in the common things:
In the dawn that lives, the eve that sings.
In the new grass sparkling after rain,
In the late wind's wild and weird refrain.
In the springtime's spacious field of gold,
In the precious light by winter doled.
God gives me joy in the loan of friends,
In their dear home talk as summer ends.
In the songs of children, unrestrained.
In the sober wisdom age has gained.
God gives me joy in the tasks that press,
In the memories that burn and bless.
In the thought that life has love to spend,
In the faith that God's at journey's end.
God give me hope for each day that springs,
God give me joy in the common things!
--Thomas Curtis Clark
"I hope you got as much enjoyment out of reading my Life as I did writing it. God bless you.
Florence N. Chapin. P.S. Thanks for reading my life."