THROUGH THE YEARS
Martha Eliza (Roesch) Picton
SPRING OF 1970
The other day I read in the National Geographic magazine where they predict a big revolution in American agriculture during the 21st century. This article got me to thinking of all the changes and progress in Agriculture and the life of the rural family in the last sixty-two years since my birth.
I was born on a farm nine miles north-east of Falls City, Nebraska, on December 2, 1907. I was the fifth child in a family of eight children.
In 1912, I moved with my parents and four older sisters and brothers to a farm south of Falls City, a 240 acre farm located two and one half miles northwest of Reserve, Kansas. This was a very modern home in a progressive rural community. The house on this farm was only ten years old.
This modern house had a furnace, carbide lights, a bathtub, a kitchen sink, also a cistern pump. Having water in the house was so wonderful
The children pumped the water from the cistern to a storage tank in a room above the kitchen. From that tank the water ran to the sink and bathtub through pipes. It was fun to turn on the faucets and get water
The cistern was a reservoir for storing rain water, which drained off the roof of our house into the cistern, therefore the water was not suitable for drinking, but there was a well close to the house so the family didn't have to carry the drinking water very far.
Only a few farm homes in those days had carbide lights, a furnace, kitchen sink, a bathtub, and water in the house. The bathroom had only a tub, no stool.
Mother was very happy to have such a nice home. My three younger brothers were born on this farm. My parents retired from the farm and moved to Falls City in the fall of 1930.
April 1921 snow storm. Yes, I remember this day very well, since I froze my feet that day. It was blowing a twelve inch snow, it blocked all the East-West rural roads. I don't know the temperature, but it was awful cold
I was in the seventh grade at Little Chapel School, District No. 55, one half mile north and two miles west of Reserve Kansas.
My brother Henry, and I, were to take final examinations in Reserve, that day. All the 7th, 8th, 9th grade students of the surrounding community, had to go to Reserve that day to take their finals. Since we had only eight months of school a year at that time, it was time for the rural schools to close for summer vacation.
The year I was in the 9th grade was the last year they taught the 9th grade in the Kansas rural schools.
If I remember right my father started out with Henry and me, around 7:00 A.M. He had two horses hitched to a carriage. The carriage had side curtains to help keep the snow and wind off of us, but it drifted through. My father was in the front seat driving the horses, Henry and I were on the back seat, we were all covered with lap robes.
We were less than a quarter mile from home when the horses got stuck, our horses tugged and pulled until the double tree broke. My father unhitched the horses, and he and the horses went home to get another double tree and etc.
Henry and I stayed in the carriage, we pulled the robe up over our heads to keep warm. I think we should have spent more time in trying to keep our feet warm than our heads.
My brother Fred came back with my father, the horses, shovels, and etc. They hitched the horses to the back of the carriage to pull it out, with the blowing snow they had a terrible time to get the carriage out. Henry got out to help them, after he got out I just kept getting colder and colder. If I remember right it was around 9:30 A.M. when we got back home.
My hands and feet hurt awful and it seemed that the pains just shot up to my chest, the pain in my chest was awful. I just walked the floor wringing my hands and crying. Mother took off my wraps, then she put my feet and hands in water, she also massaged my hands and feet.
My hands turned out all right, but my toes turned blue and black and peeled. For several years in the winter, when my feet got chilled, my toes turned blue and black and peeled They would itch and just about drive me crazy. Sometimes in the evening when they itched so bad, I would go out and dig my toes, shoes, and all in the snow to cool my feet off, to stop the itching. I guess now we would use an ice bag to take out the fever, but this helped.
I had a long braid of hair, when the snow blew in through the side curtains, it froze on my hair, my braid was frozen stiff, when I got home.
Yes, I will always remember the twelve inches of blowing snow on April 16, 1921.
There was also a blizzard on the Easter Sunday, when I was to be confirmed. Our confirmation was postponed for a week.
I recall seeing covered wagons travel down the road, past our home, as we looked out of our North kitchen window, on my parents farm South of Falls City, Nebraska and Northwest of Reserve, Kansas. My parents moved to this farm in 1912. All of the covered wagons had chimneys, some times there was smoke coming out the chimney. Sometimes there were two or three covered wagons traveling together, they were always leading extra horses, in fact some were horse traders. They liked to spend the night on the school house lawn, across the road from our home. My father and older brothers talked to them, some were headed to Oklahoma. I don't know how many years the covered wagons went past our home before they were crowded off the roads by horseless carriages, as the cars were called in those days.
With the cars came the gypsies, they drove big expensive cars, several carloads traveled together. My parents hated to see them stop and spend the night on the school house lawn, because they stole from the community. Now we have laws to take care of the gypsies.
In our community they didn't have cars yet when I was born. I remember while riding with my parents in the carriage if we met a horseless carriage, as cars were called in those days, my father always drove to the side of the road and stopped. My father got out of our carriage and walked up in front of his horses, he held the reins tight and tried to calm and control his horses, since they were so afraid of that motor driven horseless carriage. I was so scared and would get so frightened, because sometimes the frightened horses would rare up. People just hated to meet a car. These were the years when people were talking of laws to bar such trouble making vehicles off of the roads.
My parents had an old two seated spring wagon or surry with a fringe on top, and when the top leaked they took it off.
In the early days people jacked up their cars during the winter, at that time the cars didn't have side curtains. Of course they didn't have anti-freeze yet.
Just about every family was getting a car when my parents got their first car which was in the summer of 1916. It was a seven passenger Case car. My parents needed a big car since their were ten in our family.
The cars didn't have heaters yet, but our car had side curtains which helped to keep out the cold in the winter.
During the summer if we were caught in a rain the family tried to put on the side curtains to keep them dry while the driver kept on driving, he was anxious to get home before the roads got slick, in those days all the roads were dirt roads.
We were so happy when they started to make sedan cars. My parents second car was a new Plymouth sedan in 1928, it also had a heater.
Now cars have radios and air-conditioning, but they still burn gasoline. I expect them to change from gasoline to some other kind of fuel before the end of this decade.
While we had heard of airplanes, or flying machines, but we never saw any until after World War I. I was outside feeding our kittens, when I heard an awful roar, as I looked up, an airplane was going over me, real low. I rushed in the house to tell the family, I met them rushing out, my father hurried back in the house to call a neighbor. We were all excited.
From lanes through fields to dirt roads, to gravel roads, to pavement and blacktop highways, to freeways and interstate highways, but most of our highways still aren't ready for all the traffic of the present day. We never dreamed that during our life, while watching T.V. we would see people land on the moon, and travel in space. Of course we had never heard of radio and T.V.
DUST BOWL DAYS
The years of 1933, 1934, 1935 and 1936 were drought years and the years of the Dust Bowl. The dust rolled across Kansas and Nebraska, blotting out the sun and halting traffic. I remember those days well, the dust came in our house, around the windows and doors, it was terrible, some days it was red sandy soil that entered the home of my parents, that was a year before we were married. This blowing dirt and sand was so hard to clean up, it seemed to cover everything. Due to the dry ground there was also a lot of local dust blowing.
In 1934, Falls City had an acute water shortage, the Nemaha River, from which Falls City received its water supply for many years, had almost ceased to flow, the only water that came to Falls City was pumped by emergency pumps from holes in the Nemaha stream. My brother Henry came from his home near Reserve, Kansas, and brought us a cream can full of water.
EARLY MARRIED YEARS
I lived in Falls City with my parents in Falls City, for five years before our marriage in September 1935. I was very fortunate in being raised in a modern farm home. My parents home in Falls City was much more modern. Our first home after our marriage wasn't so modern, therefore I had a new experience and learned to endure the hardships that others had been enduring.
The winter of 1935 and 1936 has gone down in history as one of the most severe winters in history. Before Christmas in 1935, there was a pre-Christmas blizzard. That winter the temperature dropped below zero everyday for thirty consecutive days. On January 31st the temperature dropped to 22 degrees below zero. On February 5th, to 24 degrees below zero, on February 19th to 20 below zero. There were several other days when the official temperature dropped to 10 to 12 and 17 degrees below zero.
On February 10th, a heavy snow fell on older snow, building drifts up to five and eight feet deep in many places, and many roads remained blocked until the middle of March. This community had so much snow in the winter of 1935 and 1936, even the old timers said, they had never seen any thing like it. Snow drifts were from five to eight feet high. The men in our neighborhood would all get together in the morning and scoop open the road. In those days the farmers always opened up their roads with shovels. After they got the road open around noon we went to town and got our groceries, and that night the roads would drift shut again. It kept this up for five or six weeks. While this snow caused us great inconveniences it saved our wheat crop which turned our to be our only income for the year of 1936.
We slept in an unheated room, it froze ice in our bedroom and it did not thaw out for about six weeks. I had lived in a furnace heated home most of my life, then after our marriage we lived in a cold house with no heat in our bedroom. I learned what it was like to have it freeze in our bedroom almost every night that severe winter, in fact for thirty days the temperature went below zero every night and our bedroom never got above freezing in all that time. We wonder how we were able to go upstairs to that cold freezing room every evening, crawl in that cold bed, then get out of bed in the morning in that cold bedroom, and go down stairs to a cold kitchen. We still have those heavy sheep wool comforters that kept us warm in bed that winter.
In those days people did not have sleeping bags, or electric blankets. There was no rural electricity. We used our kerosine lamps. We also had to go out in zero and below weather, and up the path to our outdoor rest room. So much for the good old days.
After being used to electricity, and then to go back to a kerosene lamp wasn't easy. In Falls City my parents had a nice bathroom, then instead of a bathroom, I had to get used to taking my baths in a wash tub in our kitchen. All the heat we had in our kitchen was from our cook stove. We really fed that stove corn cobs and wood to heat it, but we just couldn't get the floor warm. Without a furnace our floors were always cold. So we opened up the oven door and rested our feet on the oven door to warm them up. After being used to cooking with natural gas in Falls City, I was spoiled , and had to learn to cook with cobs and wood again on our kitchen range.
In the years of 1934 and 1936 we had severe droughts. The year of 1935 was also dry with a poor corn crop, which was Samuel's chief crop. Being happy newly weds we looked forward to good crops in 1936
The terrible winter of 1935 and 1936 was followed by a severe drought. Samuel quit farming with horses in 1936, the first spring after our marriage. He got a tractor and tractor equipment. He was so happy he got his work done so quickly with his tractor. He planted 160 acres of corn that spring and took care of it alone. He had two row tractor equipment. Farming 160 acres of corn would of taken an extra man if Samuel farmed with horses but now with a tractor he was able to farm it alone. We were so happy, we thought we were sitting on top of the world. Then that summer it was so hot and dry so due to the terrible heat and drought, our corn all dried up. We didn't even raise a half bushel of corn. How thankful we were that we had a good wheat crop, which helped carry us through. Our trouble was that Samuel had not planted very much wheat, his chief crop was corn.
These crop failures were especially hard on the farmers since they were still suffering from the depression following the economic "Crash" of 1929. Those were very difficult years, we learned to do without things, which helped us to become more mature and understanding, and ready to face what life had in store for us.
Having 160 acres of corn all dry up was hard to take especially after we had bought new farming equipment, and our first baby was on the way. We were thankful we had a good wheat crop, and we looked forward to raising better crops the next year.
With love in my heart, I was willing to give up all the conveniences of a modern home, therefore I gladly endured these hardships, hoping I wouldn't have to endure them long, which I didn't.
Conditions in the rural homes were improving fast. In February 1941 we moved from nine miles northeast of Hiawatha, our first home to five and one half miles southwest of Falls City, Ne. This house had a bathroom. Besides having more farm land, Samuel also raised a lot of pigs, fattened cattle, and milked a lot of cows, so we had a hired man all year around.
While living on this farm Samuel and a neighbor bought a two row corn picker together. This picker really speeded up corn picking. The first pickers did not shell the corn; therefore, we still had to hire someone to shell our corn.
When we farmed, before the days of using fertilizer, Samuel put barnyard manure on our fields. Samuel thought he had a bumper crop if his corn averaged 45 bushel to the acre.
After World War I, through research, mechanization, fertilizers. insect and weed control, life on the farm really progressed. A government project, R.E.A., brought electricity to the rural area in the late 1930's and 1940's. The R.E.A. built an electric line past our home around 1944. We were so happy to get electricity. What pleasure it was to put the kerosene lamps on the shelve. We were thrilled to have an electric washing machine, electric iron, and etc.
OLD TIME WAYS
I was born in the horse and buggy days, when women wore long underwear down to and over their ankles, also high top shoes and long skirts. When they rode in a buggy or spring wagon and in later years a carriage, they had to dress real warm in the winter. They wrapped heated flat irons or bricks up real good, then they put their feet on them while riding in the buggy. They also put warm lap robes over their laps in the winter. In the summer they put light weight lap robes or dusters over their laps to keep off the dust. Samuel's grandparents had a charcoal foot warmer in later years, this foot warmer was really nice
In the early days they used corn cobs and wood for fuel to cook and heat. Bringing in the fuel was a chore for the children. In later years some people burned coal in their heating stoves. All men, women, and children wore heavy underwear during the winter to keep warm, the floors were always cold before the day of the furnace. Most of the bedrooms were unheated, it would freeze in them in the cold winter days and nights. People took heated flat irons and bricks to bed with them to help warm up the bed. Instead of a mattress we slept on a feather bed, which was a ticking cover filled with feathers. The feather bed was fine in winter, but hot in summer. We also covered with heavy sheep wool comforters which my mother made.
My father had the wool sheared off his sheep every spring. My mother washed the wool in some sort of solution to remove the oil and dirt. After several washings she laid it on an old sheet, which had been placed on the grass. After it was thoroughly dry she carted it or pulled it apart until it was a soft fleece. A carter was a sort of a wire brush. She would put wool on one carter, then take another carter and pull it back and forth, which made the wool nice and white, soft and fluffy. She usually carded the wool during the winter. Carting wool was a good job for the family in the winter evenings. We children did not have a carter, we just pulled it apart with our fingers, until it was soft and fluffy.
After the wool was carted, Mother put it between dark outing flannel for a comforter, and we all helped her knot it with colored yarn. Mother made nice warm comforters with this wool. Mother made three of these warm wool comforters for Samuel and I before we were married. We really appreciated them, especially the first winter we were married, the winter of 1935 and 36, which has gone down in history as one of the coldest.
Samuel slept on a corn shuck mattress when he was young. Every fall his parents would dump out all the old corn shucks from the ticking cover and filled it with clean new shucks. I think people started to buy mattresses around the time we were born, therefore they still used feather beds and corn shuck mattresses for the children.
As far back as I can remember my mother had a sewing machine, in fact I think she took sewing lessons before she was married. She made pillow cases, baby diapers, our slips, summer underwear, and tea towels from sugar and flour sacks.
Mother also was the family barber All she had to cut hair with was a scissors and comb. She didn't get a clipper until after World War I.
In the early days every family had a shoe repair set. My father used to repair our shoes. Then they got shoe repair shops in Falls City, so our parents took our shoes to the shop to have them repaired.
We all attended school in a one room school house. After my parents moved south of Falls City, the school house was across the road from their place, which was so convenient for us children. . Living so close to school Mother felt it was her duty to board the school teacher, after all what's one more in a family of ten. That big dinning room table was loaded with home made bread, butter and lots of other good food. We girls did the dishes after supper, then the children all got their lessons for the next day.
The rural high schools were getting started in the small towns while we children were growing up. My older sisters, brothers, and I weren't fortunate enough to attend high school. Please excuse my poor English and misspelled words since I didn't get to attend high school.
Our three children also attended a one room school until we moved to Falls City in 1949. They also graduated from college.
Now in 1970 there aren't many one room schools any more, and the small town high schools have all consolidated. All the rural children including high school students are bused to town or consolidated schools. Some ride the bus for two hours.
Mother baked bread twice a week for our family. All the baking really heated our kitchen during the summer. She had a kerosene stove to cook on but the early ones didn't bake good.
I also baked bread for several years after we were married, then we started to buy our bread. I also had a kerosene stove, it baked alright, I really appreciated it during the summer.
When I was young every family did their own butchering. Neighbors would help one another butcher. It was a big job to butcher, cure and can the meat for summer use. In the winter we ate lots of fresh mutton and beef also vegetables and fruits which Mother canned during the summer
Canning of fruits, vegetables, meat, even chicken, became very popular when I was young. They were using glass fruit jars. Samuel's grandmother used earthenware jars to can in, they used earthenware jars before they had glass jars. In the early days they did very little canning. They dried fruit instead of canning it They made a brine to cure their meat in. I don't know the recipe of the brine cure which my parents used, but here is the recipe of a sugar cure which I used to make after we were married.
Sugar Cure for Pork
Half a dish pan salt, 1 & a half lb. brown sugar, quarter lb. pepper, quarter gallon molasses, 1 teaspoon saltpeter.
Mix this mixture with hands, it will swell and make about one dish pan of meat cure, or enough for one hog.
Samuel and I smoked and cured our meat like this for several years, then freezing became popular.
Slaughter houses and Locker Plants started up in all the towns, where they would butcher the livestock, render the lard, cut up the meat, wrap, freeze and store the meat in private lockers. We rented a locker where we stored our frozen meat, fruits and vegetables.
After we got electricity, we got a deep freeze, then we stored our frozen food at home, which was so convenient.
Mother canned about 100 quarts of beef every winter for her family to eat during the summer months. I also canned beef for several years until we rented a locker.
My parents butchered three or four hogs every February to cure for summer eating. They got up real early on butchering day to get the fire started under a big iron kettle, to heat the water to scald the hogs. The neighbors also came early to help since it was a big days work.
As soon as they had the insides out of the hogs, they brought the intestines to the house for the women to clean and scrape. By scraping them they got them real clean. After the intestines were cleaned they called them casings.
Grinding the meat for sausage was a big job, my father or brothers always helped or rather did the grinding. They ground the meat into a big wash tub, where it was seasoned and mixed then it was stuffed in the casings with a sausage stuffer.
The next day Mother fried the sausage and the side meat from the hogs. After the meat and sausage were fried, Mother would put it in big earthenware crocks, then she poured hot lard over the meat to keep it for summer eating. After the meat and hot lard had cooled, then the crocks of meat and sausage were carried to the cave where it was cool.
The hams and shoulders were hung in the smoke house, where they were smoked and cured for later use.
They rendered their lard in a big iron kettle outside. After they had the fire going under the kettle, then they had to keep stirring the fat to keep it from scorching. After the fat was rendered then they dipped the hot lard into crocks, when it was cool they carried the crocks of lard to the cave also.
Butchering was such a big job it would take about a week to get the meat all taken care of, the lard rendered, and everything cleaned up. Those greasy butchering pots, pans, and etc. were hard to wash.
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Before the days of canning they dried their fruit. I remember mother drying fruit when I was real young. Mother had us children put the peeled and sliced apples on a cloth on our flat porch roof to dry. We would climb out of the window every morning and put the apples in the sun. About sundown we would bring the apples in the house. We had to do this about a week until the apples got dry. The dried apples were stored in a flour sack and hung in a dry place. Whenever Mother wanted dry apples she would get some out of the sack and cook them.
In early days they also cooked their apple butter outside in the big iron kettle Apple butter was a spread to put on bread. Fresh baked bread with homemade butter and apple butter was a real treat In latter years Mother cooked her apple butter in a dish pan in the oven. This is the way I made apple butter for a number of years
Samuel likes to tell about going with his father to get cabbage which they cut up for sauerkraut They hitched a team of horses to a hayrack and drove to the cabbage patch, they loaded the cabbage on the rack and hauled it to the house. This was a family project, every one helped. Someone pulled off the outside leaves of the cabbage head, and cut out the bad spots. After the cabbage was all cleaned and ready to be cut up, someone cut it with a big kraut cutter. After it was cut, the cabbage was put in a big twenty gallon earthenware crock, where someone added salt and stomped the cabbage down in the crock with a stomper. They added cabbage to the crock as they cut it, they continued to stomp and add cabbage and salt until they had the crock filled. After the crock was full they put a board across the top and weighed it down with a rock. As the cabbage remained in the crock it cured for winter eating.
I also made sauerkraut but I canned it in glass jars.
My parents had a big orchard also a big garden while we children were growing up, so Mother with the help of us children did lots of canning. She would can several hundred quarts of fruits and vegetables every year.
I also did a lot of canning for our family before we froze our vegetables, fruit, and meat. Freezing certainly made life a lot easier for the housewife.
When we were young Mother set hens every spring to hatch baby chickens. Setting hens and raising baby chicks was a big job.
Mother set the hens in a nest lined with straw. She kept them covered up at first until they got used to setting in the nest, then she put about fifteen eggs under each hen. For the first three days she kept the hens covered, she just uncovered the hens so they could get off the nest to drink water and eat, then she covered them up again. After three days she kept them uncovered. The hens sat on the eggs for three weeks. They only got off the nests to drink water and eat, or that's all the longer they were to stay off but sometimes some hens stayed off the nest longer and chilled the eggs, or if it was real cold the eggs would chill while the hen was eating. If the eggs chilled then they didn't hatch good.
After three weeks the baby chicks hatched. Mother would take the mother hen and her baby chicks and put them in a chicken coop. My father made the chicken coops, each hen had a separate coop for her brood. Mother kept the mother hens and their baby chicks penned up in their coops for three days, of course she put food and water in the coops. If it was cool a mother hen would spread her wings over her baby chicks to keep them warm.
After three days Mother would leave the mother hen and her chicks out of the coop, that's if it was dry and sunny. She would send us out to open the coops after the dew dried off. The mother hen kept her chicks close to her side all the time, if they wandered from her side, she would cluck for them to follow her. In the evening as it started to get dark the mother hen clucked for her chicks to follow her and she would lead them back to their coop. After the hens and their chicks were in their coops, we children would shut up the coops. Keeping the feeders filled and carrying water for the chickens was a job for us children. Every one helped in those days.
If a sudden shower came up the mother hen would set down and cluck her chicks to her side, then she spread out her wings to cover up her chicks to keep them dry. This worked fine if it wasn't a big rain, but if it was a heavy rain then they got soaked. If it got real dark and looked like a big rain, then the mother hen would take her brood back to the coop, and sometimes we would try to drive them to their coops, so we could shut them up before it started to rain.
If we didn't get them shut up before the rain, then after the rain we would take a box and go out and look for wet chickens. We wrapped the wet baby chicks in dry rags and took them in the kitchen by the stove to warm them up and dry them off. Some recovered and some died.
Gathering the eggs, also feeding and carrying water to the chickens was always a chore for us children.
Hatching and raising chickens has really progressed by the time Samuel and I got married. Hatcheries had started up all over the country. How happy I was that I didn't have to set hens. Every March we bought three hundred baby chicks from the hatchery.
We put our baby chicks in a brooder house, which was heated with an oil brooder stove, after we got electricity, we got an electric brooder stove. We would keep our baby chicks in the brooder house until it was warm enough to turn them out on the grass. While we had to keep the brooder house clean, and feed and water the chicks, but it was a lot less work than in Mother's day
My father ground all their chicken feed. We bought starter feed for the first two weeks, after that we fed them feed what Samuel ground, he also ground and mixed all the feed for our laying hens.
When we were young every farmer had milk cows. In the early days they separated the cream from the milk through a water separator. All I can remember of my parents having was a cream separator, where a member of the family turned a handle to separate the cream from the milk, they had to turn this handle real fast in order to separate the cream from the milk.
Samuel and I also had a hand cream separator until we got electricity, then we had an electric motor put on our cream separator. After we got electricity Samuel also got an electric milking machine since he milked so many cows, he milked around twenty cows. Samuel had an old radio in the barn to entertain him and the cows while he was milking them.
When we were young every family churned their own butter, this was another chore for us children.
I also churned butter for awhile after we were married, until trucks picked up our cream and eggs from our farm home, then we had them leave us butter as they picked up our cream. I was. real happy about this.
When we were young our parents took their eggs to the grocery store and traded them on groceries. At that time the grocery stores were home owned, they also bought fruits, vegetables, potatoes, melons, even butter from the farmers. After the chain grocery stores opened up they didn't buy from the farmers.
My parents sold their cream to a Produce Station. We were so happy when the Creamery came to our farm and picked up our cream and eggs. The cream and egg money was used to buy groceries and clothing for the family.
Times change so fast that the Hatcheries which started up all over the country in the late 1920's and early 1930's all went out of business in the late 1950's and 1960's, because the price of eggs and chickens was so cheap, therefore many farmers stopped raising chickens, others just raise enough for their family use. There are some feed dealers who take orders for baby chicks, they get them from the big hatcheries.
Most of the chickens are now raised on the big chicken breeding farms, where they have big chicken houses with about six floors with chickens on each floor. These chickens are given fast growing foods and are ready for market in a short time, they never leave their pens until ready for market.
The Sebatha Kansas Creamery that picked up our cream and eggs has discontinued the pickup route also due to lack of cream and eggs. Farmers don't milk much any more, especially not those that farm so much.
There are still some dairy farms which are government inspected. They have spotless dairy parlors, they sell whole milk, the creamery sends out a bulk milk truck to these farms every morning to get the fresh milk.
The Produce Stations in Falls City have all closed up, but one station, of course he doesn't get much produce, but he sells livestock feed and takes orders for baby chickens, he also sells fresh eggs if he is lucky enough to buy some.
In the horse and buggy days going to town for supplies was an all day job, especially if one lived far from town, so before winter set in the farmer would go to town with his horses and a wagon and get a good supply of flour, sugar, coffee, spices, and other necessities.
Farmers didn't buy many groceries in those days, since they had their own meat, milk, cream, butter, lard, chickens, eggs, fruit, potatoes, and other vegetables. Oranges were always a treat for Christmas. The first jello I remember of Mother buying was around 1917 when we had a treat of fruit salad.
In the last decade lots of farmers have discontinued having gardens, raising chickens, and milking cows. They buy all their food.
Life has really changed since my childhood. When I was a little girl my father used all one row walking-implements. I'll never forget all the excitement around the farm when my father got two row riding implements.
In those days harvesting the wheat was always a big job. My father cut his wheat with a binder and horses. The binder cut the wheat and tied it in bundles. Two or three men would follow the binder on foot and put the bundles in small shocks. Then several weeks later a threshing machine run by a steam engine came and threshed the wheat. The neighbors all helped one another at threshing time since it took a crew of between twenty-four to twenty-eight men. My father and about a half dozen other neighbors owned the threshing machine and steam engine. Wagons hauled the bundles of wheat to the threshing machine, the men threw the bundles of wheat in the threshing machine, which threshed the wheat, the wheat run into wagons and the straw was blown out on a straw pile. During the 1920's they started to haul the grain to the elevators with trucks which reduced the number of men in the threshing crew to about twenty or twenty-two men.
Cooking for all these men was also a very busy time for the women. The crew of three men that run the threshing machine always spent the night since they had to get up around 4:00 AM to fire up the steam engine before breakfast. So the day started early with extra men for breakfast.
The farm women also helped one another cook for the threshing crew. The children enjoyed the excitement of threshing. In the early days the threshing crew was served ham, canned meat, chicken and sausage for meat plus home canned vegetables and fruit. For deserts they had canned fruit, cakes and pies. For drinks they served ice tea and lemonade. My mother always had 4 or 5 meals of cooking for threshers because my father raised a lot of wheat. There were so many dishes to wash and dry.
Our neighbors had a ice house, they put ice in the ice house every winter. My father helped them put up ice, which he thought was a terrible cold and nasty job, especially since sometimes they got rather wet. They gave my father ice in the summer time for payment to use for threshing.
As our neighbor came to help thresh he brought ice along for my father's pay. My parents didn't have an ice box, so my parents put the ice in a washtub, wrapped it in gunny sacks and newspapers, and carried it down into the cave. Mother would chop off a chunk for ice tea, since ice tea was the chief drink served the threshing crew at meal time. We also used the ice to make ice cream, and the rest of the ice was used to help keep the left overs cool, which we set on and around the ice in the tub.
After the farmers had cars then they went to town every morning and bought fresh meat and other groceries for the day. I remember hearing my parents talk about spending over $10.00 for groceries, which they thought was an awful lot of money for groceries. Ten dollars wouldn't go very far now in buying fresh meat and other groceries to feed twenty men for dinner and supper. Since my father raised a lot of wheat my parents had the threshers for four or five meals.
During the 1920's people went all out in cooking for the threshing crew. For deserts at the noon meal, they usually had fruit salad and cake or something in that order, also a choice of two kinds of pie, which were some kind of a meringue pie and a fruit pie For the evening meal they usually had home made ice cream and cake, also fruit and a meringue pie. My mother baked around a dozen pies every morning since there were also cooks and children to feed besides the threshing crew. The men in the threshing crew worked up big appetites with long hours, hard work and lots of fresh air, so they always enjoyed the double deserts.
My mother always made noodles for the threshing crew, which was a specialty of hers, I don't think anyone could make noodles like Mothers noodles tasted. Mother make her noodles before threshing day and stored them.
Washing dishes for all this cooking and serving so many people was another big job, therefore it took a lot of help especially at meal time since the dishes always had to be washed before the table could be set again for the next group of men.
While cooking for those hungry threshing crews was lots of work but my mother always said she was glad to do it since most of the crew were young men and boys who really enjoyed all the good food. Mother said she was happy to bake and cook for them, and have them enjoy good food instead of drinking alcoholic drinks, which this crew didn't do, of course this was in the 1920's, the days of prohibition, and law abiding people didn't drink then. The older citizens had all lived in the days before prohibition so they knew what it was like then and they really appreciated the days of prohibition. Mother always said she was so glad she could raise her family in the days of prohibition
Of course the bootleggers were busy during prohibition just like the demonstrators are now. The bootleggers and law breakers of that day were a minority group just like the hippies, Yippies, and etc. are today.
The law abiding people thought it was a great set back for our nation when Prohibition was repealed.
The first summer after our marriage I also cooked for threshers for one meal. As a rule the soil in that community produced better corn than wheat so Samuel hadn't planted much wheat. After all the snow of the winter of 1935 and 1936 the wheat was real good, even if everything else dried up that summer in the drought and hot weather. The income of that wheat helped carry us through the year, even pay for the hospital bill for the birth of our first child that December.
The next summer Samuel bought a combine, which threshed the wheat as it was cut. It took three men to harvest our wheat, one to run the tractor, one to run the combine, and one to haul the wheat to market. Samuel also combined wheat for some of our neighbors to help pay for the combine. Those big threshing days were ending. I sure was glad and felt very lucky that I only had to cook for a threshing crew one meal.
Samuel's first combine was pulled by a tractor. Now they have big air conditioned combines with their own motors. The combines are equipped with a radio and two way talkies. Some farmers now raise hundreds of acres of wheat every year. This big combine is operated by one man, and often his wife hauls the grain to the elevator in a truck, so they don't need to hire any help. What a change from those big threshing days. The harvesting of wheat has really progressed in my day.
In my youth and when we got married all the corn was picked by hand, the men who picked corn were called "corn shuckers". They used a corn pek on their one hand to help pull the shucks off of the ears of corn.
Corn shelling was a big job when they hauled all the corn to market with horses and wagons. Certain people owned corn shellers and shelled for others. Corn shelling was another big project, because all the corn had to be hauled to the grain elevator with a box wagon and horses. Sometimes in the winter the men almost froze hauling the grain. It also took a crew of men to shell the corn and haul it to the elevator. The neighbors all helped one another with this big job. We always cooked for the crew. After the day of trucks hauling the corn to market was much less work for the farmers.
The farmers still shucked their corn by hand when we got married. In the Fall of 1936 we didn't have any corn to pick due to the drought. After that Samuel hired a couple of corn shuckers every fall to help him pick corn, since he planted a lot of corn.
It was hard to hire good men, one corn shucker we had would go to town and try to drink up all the money he earned, one night he just kept falling out of bed. This was after the repeal of prohibition and drinking was getting bad again.
Shelling corn wasn't a chore anymore, because the corn was all delivered to the elevator by truck.
Now the farm equipment is all six row equipment, what progress from the one row walking equipment of my childhood. When I was young, 80 acres was all one man could farm, now lots of young farmers farm as much as 1,500 acres with the help of their wives, of course they don't do any chores when they farm that much land.
These big air-conditioned combines also have picker heads, so they can use them for harvesting both wheat and corn, also milo and soy beans, crops they were just starting to plant when we left the farm. These combine-picker-sheller outfits also shell the corn as they pick it. Just think picking and shelling six rows of corn at one time, after all the slow work of picking it by hand in my younger days. These big combine-picker-sheller outfits cost a lot.
Now a lot of farmers engage a Flying Aerial Service, which has airplanes to do crop dusting or spray to kill the weeds so they won't have to do so much cultivation to keep the corn clean and free from weeds. Samuel always went over our corn three times to kill the weeds. No wonder they can farm so much ground now.
The seeds are treated with insecticides before they are planted. When "Crop Dusting" a mild pesticide is used with herbicides to kill both insects and weeds.
Fertilizer has been one of the basic factors of the Agricultural revolution With more and more fertilizer, farmers reap record crops year after year. The year of 1969, Richardson County's Corn crop averaged 88 bushel to the acre. Fields in the county had yields far exceeding 100 bushel to the acre, but the overall average of 72,940 acres was 88 bushel to the acre.
Through mechanization, self-propelled combines permit a farmer to ride in an air-conditioned cab to harvest a crop that used to take a crew of eighty men. Today one of these big combines can combine one hundred acres a day, which is a far cry from the days of my youth, as I remember my father cutting wheat with a horse drawn binder. After which the wheat bundles were set up in shocks to dry, then a couple weeks later a crew of twenty some men hauled it to the threshing machine where it was threshed.
My parents thought my father had a big acreage of wheat, but I don't think he ever planted 100 acres of wheat, the most I remember was 70 acres. At that time 70 acres was a big acreage of wheat. Instead of delivering the wheat to market by wagons, now the farmers wife delivers it to market by truck.
It takes a lot of money to farm now, but with good weather they have a good income.
Fattening cattle has also changed since we lift the farm twenty years ago. Through research and automation cattle feeding has progressed just like farming.
The raising, feeding, and caring of livestock has changed so much since we left the farm. In fact conditions have improved so much that the hogs have it much better than we did twenty years ago. The hogs are now housed in electric heated, air-conditioned hog houses. What a life of luxury.
Near La Cygne, Kans., a helicopter recently planted 310 acres of corn in four hours-a farmer using eight row planters would take three-maybe four-days to seed that acreage!"
-May, 1970 Progress is going faster than I realized. I thought they had eight row equipment but I wasn't positive. Planting by helicopter is a surprise to me.
August 3, 1970__They already make sixteen row farm equipment. I think twelve row is the biggest they have in Falls City.
In 1870 just 100 years ago Stephen Picton, Samuel's grandfather, left Wales, and came to U.S.A. He bought a farm located eight miles northeast of Hiawatha. He farmed this farm with oxen for several years, and now to think that this land is being farmed with all this big farm equipment. From oxen to sixteen row equipment in 100 years.
[Farm land has increased in price, a farm near the farm Samuel's Grandfather Stephen Picton, that he paid $10 an acre in 1870, sold for $2080 an acre in 1982, due to inflation. Most of this land was bought with lots of borrowed money, at high interest. Due to lack of rain, crops were poor. Not being able to pay the interest and taxes, a number of these farmers are going broke in 1985.]
I was also mistaken about the price of a combine-picker-sheller-outfit. They cost over twenty thousand dollars. [1984-I heard the other week that the big picker-sheller-combines now cost over $100,000.00]
It doesn't seem possible that life can progress this much in sixty two years since my birth. Todays advances are based on yesterday's research, therefore I won't be surprised and believe the big revolution in Agriculture that Scientists and researchers predict in the 21st century is possible.
In our childhood all the youth hated washday, it was such a busy day, when the children weren't in school they all helped on washday. When the children were in school father would help run the machine or perhaps washing was done on Saturday when the children could help.
Early in the morning on washday, Mother would fill a wash boiler, by bucket with water, and heat it on the cook stove. We kept putting cobs in the stove to get the water hot. When the water was hot, Mother dipped it into a bucket and carried it to the wash machine, which was usually in the kitchen during the winter, but in the summer they put the wash machine on the porch or under a tree, which made it more pleasant to wash only it was far to carry the hot water, especially with small children running around.
While Mother was filling the wash machine with hot water, one of the children was shaving soap flakes, off of: the homemade laundry soap. into the wash machine. Mother put all white laundry in the first machine, and then it was ready for the children to start pushing a handle back and forth which worked the machine and washed our laundry.
As soon as Mother had the hot water out of the boiler she again filled it with water, and we kept putting cobs in the stove to get the water to boiling since all good white laundry was boiled.
While the first machine was being washed, other children filled a washtub with rinse water. The children also carried this water by bucket.
The wash machine had a wringer on it, when the laundry was washed about ten minutes, real soiled ones were washed longer, then the hot laundry was pulled out of the hot water by a sawed off broom handle, and put through the wringer into the rinse water. The wringer was worked by turning a handle,
which was another job for children.
After the first laundry was out of the wash machine, Mother put more laundry in the machine. The children took turns in running the wash machine and wringer.
The white laundry was rinsed by hand in the wash tub, then the laundry was wrung again through the wringer. While we were wringing this laundry, Mother was putting it into flour sacks, then she put the bags of laundry in the boiler and boiled them, all diapers had to be boiled. She usually had two or three machines of white laundry.
After all the white laundry was washed, then the towels and underwear were washed, the towels especially the tea towels were also boiled. Next Mother washed the better colored clothes like dresses, shirts, and etc. Then the more soiled work clothes. When Mother put another machine of laundry in the wash machine, she always added more soap, but all the laundry was washed through the same water, of course everything was washed twice. The same rinse water was also used for all the laundry. After the laundry had all been washed and rinsed once, then the wash water and rinse water were all emptied by bucket, another job for the children.
Mother washed out the machine and rinse tub, then she took the bags of laundry out of the boiler by the broom handle and carried them in a big dish pan to the wash machine, where she emptied the bags of laundry into the wash machine, then she carried boiling water by bucket from the boiler and put it in the wash machine, she also added cold water and soap and the machine was ready for the children to start washing again.
Mother had kept some of the boiling water in the boiler, so now she put the towels and etc. in the boiler and boiled them. While one of the children was washing the first machine the second time, others were filling the washtub with rinse water again. Some of us children were turning all our black stockings and the men's socks inside out before they were washed the second time. In those days women's hose were called stockings. All my stockings were black except in the summer I had a pair of white stockings to wear to church.
After all the laundry was washed and rinsed the second time in the same water, which was called the second water, then the wash water and rinse water were again emptied by bucket. While we children emptied the wash and rinse water, Mother was busy making starch and starching things, she starched all our dresses a little.
If at all possible the laundry was hung on a line outside. In the winter Mother liked to have the white things freeze to whiten them, but she didn't want the colored clothes to freeze, she said, freezing faded them. In the summer she laid stained articles, like diapers on the grass to dry, she said direct sun would take out the stains, They didn't have bleaches at that time.
Mother was so thankful that she had a wash machine, with a wringer, a lot of other women didn't have it so convenient. Some women washed on a board, or they used a stomper, they put their laundry in a washtub, added water and soap, and stomped them clean with a stomper. They had to wring all their laundry by hand, which was a big job. Some people also had to carry their wash water so far. Since washing was such a job people didn't change clothes as much as we do now with automatic washers, in fact they didn't have near as many clothes as we do now.
I moved Falls City with my parents in 1930. Then my parents bought an electric washing machine, with that you only had to wash the laundry once, but she still had to boil the white things.
When Samuel and I got married in 1935 we got a gas motor washing machine, after we got electricity in 1944 and we had an electric motor put on our machine. Later we got a spin dry machine, which I thought was fine Now all I do is put our laundry in our automatic washer and it does the rest. How wonderful!
When I think of all the hard work my mother had to do as a mother and housewife, I really appreciate it that I was born thirty years later than she was.
Mother ironed with flat irons, which were heated on the cook stove, there were three irons in a set, that way two irons were always heating, while one ironed with the third iron. I also ironed with flat irons until we got electricity.
My parents made all their laundry soap. They added lye and water to used lard, they cooked all this together in the big iron kettle outside. They stirred this mixture while it was cooking. After the soap was cooked and partly cooled, Mother dipped it into flat containers. When the soap was set, Mother cut it into bars.
I also made our laundry soap for the first fifteen years after our marriage, only I didn't cook it like my mother did when I was young. In later years my mother made what they called a cold soap and that's the kind I made. We used lye, melted tallow, old lard and water. Mother was so glad when the lye can had this recipe on the outside, she tried the recipe and was real proud of her nice soap, she was so glad she didn't have to cook soap any more.
The care of the sick has changed so much during my life. When we were young, nearly every family had what they called a "Doctor Book". I remember seeing my mother refer to the "Doctor Book" a number of times. Of course every family used home remedies.
I remember a remedy we used for sore throats. If our throat felt sore or if we were afraid we would get a sore throat, then before we went to bed we would take a stocking off of one of our feet and wrap it around our neck. The perspiration from our foot was to help cure our sore throat. I doubt if the "Doctor Book" advised the stocking remedy, but it didn't hurt us. I never used this stocking remedy for our children. I suppose it was a remedy that was handed down from generation to generation.
In those days some families didn't have a doctor to deliver their babies. They just had grandma or a neighbor to help deliver the baby and bathe it.
A doctor was present at the birth of all of us children; my parents had a family doctor, who came to the farm to deliver us children. A neighbor lady always came to help my father heat the water, help the doctor, bathe the new baby and care for us children. I remember when one of my younger brothers was born, my older brother said, the doctor is carrying a bag, so we are going to have another baby.
In those days there wasn't a hospital around here, so doctors even performed surgery in the home. I remember when a doctor and his wife, who was a nurse, came to our farm home and removed my brothers tonsils
I don't know the year they built a hospital in Falls City, I was still very young Our three children were all born at the hospital in Falls City.
Now in 1970 prices have soared due to inflation, especially in hospital care. We now have Medicare so the doctors are over worked and the hospitals are crowded.
As I have stated they didn't have hospitals around here when I was born, therefore all babies were born in the home, now they are all born in the hospital.
My mother stayed in bed only a few days after giving birth to a baby. When our children were born all mothers were to stay in bed and not get up until the ninth day, some doctors even had all their mothers remain in bed for two weeks. Mothers got so weak lying in bed for so long. Now the young mothers get up in a few days just like in Grandma's day.
Our doctor owned the Falls City Hospital when our children were born. For one hundred dollars our doctor delivered our baby, cared for me in a private room at the hospital for ten days, and cared for our new baby in the nursery, also gave me regular check-ups during pregnancy including x-rays before the birth of our baby, our doctor said knowing the position of the baby and etc. would be a big help to him in delivering our baby. At that time all mothers were kept in private rooms.
In those days one hundred dollars seemed like and awful lot of money. Our doctors rates were the same for all three of our children. The hundred dollars included all medications.
I think the private room rates were four or five dollars a day at that time which was in the years from 1936 to 1942. Now one bed in a two bed room is forty or forty-five dollars a day. One just can't afford to be sick any more. [1984, rooms with 2 beds are now $150.00 a day for each bed.]
When I was small all girls had long hair. Mother usually fixed my hair in braids. Occasionally for special events she would curl them. She rolled my hair on rags to curl them, she made what they now call banana curls. Mother tore strips of rags about twelve inches long, and one and one half inches wide. She folded the rag strip in the center, then she took one end of the rag, and a strip of hair about one and one half inches wide, and rolled them around the other end of the rag. Then she tied the two ends of the rag together to make a curl. She proceeded this way until she had rag curls around my head. She dampened my hair before she curled them, when they were dry, she removed the rages, the curl didn't stay in very good, but I was happy. In later years they had kid curlers that worked in the same order, only much better.
When I was a teenager we heated curling irons on the stove or on a kerosene lamp. After the curling iron was hot I tested it on tissue paper if it didn't burn the paper then I curled my hair. If it scorched the tissue paper, then we had to let it cool before we used it on our hair. We always had to heat and test the iron before the next curl. When I was a teenager short hair became the style. I think I was around sixteen years old then I had my hair cut. I was so glad then they started to give permanent waves, since my hair were straight. The first permanent wave I got they put so many things on my head, these curlers were on a machine, after these curlers were all attached to my head, my head got so top heavy I could hardly hold my head up. I don't remember how long we sat under that machine, with electricity turned on to help make my curls, it seemed like a long time. Now I just put a permanent waving solution on my hair, its so simple.
Of course fashions have changed since the wearing of floor length dresses and bustles in the 1890's, to the present day when young mothers, high school and college girls wear their dresses four or five inches above the knee, these short dresses are worn with panty hose. When I was young women didn't wear shorts and slacks.
I have my grandfather, Jacob Roesch's wedding shirt, which looks like a night shirt. My grandfather was a tailor, he spun and wove the material from which he made his wedding shirt in 1868.
When my father was a young man he wore celluloid collars, around 1900 the cloth collars became fashionable. Around 1915 or later they started to make men's shirts with collars.
In the early days the mourners dressed in black for a year after the death of a relative. My parents were married on February 10,1898, since my mother's father was killed in an accident six months before, my mother made herself a beautiful black wedding dress, but she did wear a long white bridal veil
My mother also wore a black mourning veil to the funeral of relatives, and for several weeks after the funeral. Mother couldn't stand to wear the mourning veil over her face, so she just draped it over her black hat. The last time I remember Mother wearing the veil was to her nieces funeral around 1914. We children and Mother were so glad when the custom of wearing mourning clothes ended.
BURIAL of the DEAD
The burial of the dead has also changed a lot since my childhood While I know that in the early days the family or friends of the family made the burial box, or coffins as they called them in those days, I don't remember of seeing a home made coffin. I also think they were already embalming the dead when I was born.
In those days they kept the dead at home until burial. When there was a death in the home the undertakers always hung a black wreath on the door. I remember seeing these wreaths on the front doors as we drove past the home.
When there was a dead body in the home, neighbors and friends always sat up in the home at night with the dead, which was the custom.
I remember spending the night with a neighbor lady, while her husband and my father sat up at the home of another neighbor, who had a death in their family. I stayed with this neighbor lady and her two small children because she was afraid to stay alone.
These men who stay with the dead at night, would go in the evening and stay until morning. Members or friends of the bereaved family would get up during the night and serve a lunch to the men who were sitting with the dead. My parents thought this was a foolish custom, but they did it to show respect for the dead and their family. and you couldn't let friends down in time of sorrow.
I remember hearing my parents tell when a neighbor and his wife both died from spinal meningitis. The neighbors were all afraid to go the home, but you just couldn't leave people alone when they had such sorrow My father went to the house and sat up one night, but when he came home he changed his clothes in the barn. He left his clothes hang in the barn for some time, until they thought the germs were dead. My mother took a pan of water and soap out to the barn so my father could wash the germs off before he came to the house near his family.
Since my parents thought this custom of sitting up with the dead was a foolish custom they were very happy when the undertakers took the dead to the funeral home to embalm them and kept them there until the funeral, which is still the custom.
Around 1915 there were often between thirty to forty students in a one room school house. The teacher not only had all eight grades to teach, but they also had to do the custodian work, and take care of a heating stove or furnace. This was hard for the young teachers, especially young girls. At that time most of them were young girls, a student could teach right out of High School. Both Samuel and I only had one man teacher the rest were girls.
Discipline was one of the major problems for these young teachers, especially the older boys. When my older sisters and brothers went to school, the older boys helped their fathers pick corn in the fall, then in the winter months they went to school, and tried to drive their teacher crazy, then in the spring they quit school and worked in the field.
By the time Samuel and I went to school they had laws that the students had to go to school the full term, and after they were sixteen years old, the School Board could refuse admittance. The school term was then eight months. When our children attended school it was a nine month term, and there were not many students in the rural schools. Most of the one room schools are now closed.
Samuel attended Shore School. I attended Little Chapel School, District 55, west of Reserve in Brown County, Kansas. In the early years they had religious services at Little Chapel School; therefore, the name “Little Chapel”.
Children and Mud
We lived one and one half miles from the rural school which our children attended. The first half mile was on a gravel road which was a good road, but the next mile was a clay road without a bottom.
Never having lived near a clay road before and having gravel by our home we didn't realize how bad clay roads could get. This gumbo just clung on shoes and tires. It rolled something terrible which helped make driving impossible.
One evening Owen didn't come home from school until it was almost dark, he was covered with mud from head to foot. I had to take his muddy clothes off outside before I took him in the house to clean him up.
Since he had such an awful time walking home, Samuel decided to take him to school in the car the next morning. It had frozen just a little during the night so Samuel got Owen to school alright, but on the return trip the gumbo rolled around the wheels. Samuel stopped and cleaned the mud from under the fender, then he would go a few feet and have to stop again. It took him from 9:00 A.M. till 1:30 P.M. to travel that mile. He even ran out of gas grinding so much so he went to a house on the way and got gas. What a relief when Samuel came home.
Samuel knew he would have to find another way to get Owen back and forth to school. I was also to the point where I couldn't take any more worry. Samuel bought a spring wagon, with the spring wagon and a team of horses he got Owen to and from school alright on that gumbo.
But one forgets, especially since we didn't have any clay around our house, so when Dorothy was five and one half years old and Mary was just seven years old, they had another experience. Their overshoes got so heavy they could hardly move their legs, then they would fall down, after they got up they would get stuck in the deep mud. A neighbor lady said when they went by her place they would take their hands and pull one leg out of the mud, then they would pull out the other leg and so on until they fell again. They lost their mittens and dinner pail in the mud and couldn't find them.
A young gentlemen on horseback rode past the corner, he saw the little girls a short distance from the corner, he waited until they got to the corner, then he cleaned the mud off of their overshoes and told them they would make it alright from that corner, which they did. It was getting dark when they came home covered with mud from head to foot.
Owen, age eleven years, and neighbor boys got home just fine, they were older, their legs were longer and they knew enough to walk in the weeds beside the road. Owen didn't know what happened to the girls since he and the other boys never waited on the little girls with their short legs.
We never left this happen again, of course around home it was drying off and Samuel didn't think the roads would be bad.
When Samuel took the children to school the next morning, they saw a big ball of mud, the girls said that looks like our lunch pail, Samuel stopped and sure enough their lunch pail was inside that ball of mud.
Samuel knew he had to find some kind of transportation to get his little girls to school. He was happy to find this old three seated spring wagon, that's what they called them those days. The catalog listed them as a surry with a fringe on top, the top was off of this surry when Samuel bought it.
One just can't imagine that a road can become so impossible to travel, unless one has to travel it.
BEFORE the DAYS of the ELECTRIC PIPE ORGAN
Samuel enjoyed telling about the time he went with his parents and sisters to visit his Uncle James Picton, who was the custodian at the First Baptist Church in Hiawatha, Kansas. Uncle Jim took them to the church, and showed them the Pipe organ. When the organist played the organ for the church service, then Uncle Jim was in the back room, pumping the organ by hand to keep it going. I suppose the organist was happy she didn't have to use the foot pump organ any more.
The original First Baptist Church in Hiawatha, Kansas, that the Picton ancestors joined after coming to U.S.A. in 1870, burned down in 1892.
[On May 23, 1894, an organ recital was given on the new organ at the First Baptist Church in Hiawatha. I don't know when this organ was converted to an electric organ.
In 1979, this nine pipe organ from the First Baptist Church in Hiawatha, was installed in the Museum Church at Sycamore Springs, near Morrill, Kansas. It's the oldest nine pipe organ in the state of Kansas.]
Home photography has improved as much the last 50 years. We got a box Kodak in 1937, to take pictures of our first child, Owen. We always took pictures of our children on their birthdays and over Christmas with their presents. Since we didn't have a flash for our Kodak, we had to carry our childrens presents out side, then bundle our children up, and take them out in all kinds of weather. In those days the pictures were all black and white, because they didn't have colored film.
MY PARENTS TELEPHONE
The first telephones that I remember, hung on the wall, they had boxes on the front, in these boxes there were two batteries, each about eight inches high, and six inches in circumference. About every year the telephone company installed new batteries. Before installing the batteries in the phones they put the date of installation on them. They would leave the old batteries with the family, the children really enjoyed them, because they still had some power.
OUR FIRST RADIO
BEFORE WE GOT ELECTRICITY
The power for our first radio was also off of a big battery, like a car battery. It seemed that our radio battery run down so often, and taking these batteries to town to have charged was quite a chore, because one had to be so careful and not get acid on ones clothes or in the car. Wind chargers were a new thing. Samuel bought one to charge our radio battery, he put it on top of our house, it worked real good. We used it until we got electricity, then we sold it.
OUR ICY BALL REFRIGERATOR
We had an icy ball refrigerator before we got electricity. Around 1939, the pastor moved at of our church, the Mt. Zion Methodist Church, located about eleven miles northeast of Hiawatha, Kansas. They asked us if we would like to buy their Icy Ball for $10. We decided to buy the refrigerator. I had never heard of an Icy Ball before. I don't think they were very popular, because they were a lot of heavy work, but they kept things cold, and they froze ice cubes.
There were two big balls connected together like two balls hanging from two ends of a rod. Every 24 hours these balls would have to be removed from the refrigerator, then one ball was put in a tub of water and the other ball was heated over a small kerosene stove for one hour. One day one ball was heated, with the ball in water and the next day the other ball was heated, and etc. These balls were heavy, I couldn't handle them, Samuel had to do it. We used this icy ball until we got electricity.
Since our grandchildren are receiving prizes on essays that they have written, it has reminded me that I also received second place and a five dollar prize in 1923, when I was fifteen years old. The first prize was ten dollars.
The Falls City Chamber of Commerce sponsored a contest on "Why I Like My Farm Home". The first three prize winners were from Brown County, Kansas. I lived near Reserve, Kansas. The Judges had a hard time in making decisions, because there were so many entries, not only from the Falls City area and surrounding communities, including Pawnee and Auburn, Nebraska, also Robinson, White Cloud, Hiawatha, Sebatha and Hamlin, Kansas. My essay was printed in the Falls City Journal and the Falls City October Trade News.
From 1964 through 1982, Samuel and I took a nice vacation every summer. When ever the weather was fit we slept in our tent, we have a three inch foam mattress, this made a good bed. With our tent we didn't have to worry about a motel every evening, and we had our own bedding. We always stayed at Campgrounds, most of the time we were close to showers and restrooms, since we stopped before dark, there was always room for another tent.
In June 1972, we went to the Worlds Fair at Spokane, Washington. We also went to the Worlds Fair at Knoxville, Tennessee in 1982. We've enjoyed most of the points of interest, and beauty in our U.S. one or more times.
We've been to all fifty states in our U.S. except Alaska and Hawaii. We've been in Canada and Mexico, also to Key West, Florida, an Island in the Atlantic Ocean, and Catalina Island in the Pacific Ocean.
Todays advances are based on yesterdays research. Therefore I would not be surprised, and I believe that the computer will revolutionize our country in ways far beyond our dreams. Scientists and researchers predict what seems impossible in the 21st century.
Additional Comments by Owen Picton
The parents of Martha Eliza (Roesch) Picton were Henry Roesch and Mary(Zimmerman) Roesch. Martha (Roesch) Picton died July 3, 1987. Samuel Picton died July 22, 1984.
Lisa Tubach and Mary Syre typed most of this material a number of years ago. Topics were edited, titled and material rearranged under specific titles by Owen Picton in 1998
If you like this life story, would you consider making a donation to a church or religious affiliated non profit institution or if unable, then to a Space Exploration through a Foundation or other non profit institution. Do this in the memory of Martha Eliza Picton.
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