Grandmother and Grandson

 

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Agnes Ellen Gurney Pinkerton and her grandson (my grandfather) William Douglass Pinkerton, Jr. The picture was taken in the late 1930’s in Santa Barbara, California

 

 

Thank you for reading

J. R. Findsen

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My Life’s Story: Chapter 5

 

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My Life’s Story

by Eleanor Van Dusen Bowen

 

Chapter 5: McPhee Colorado

 

It was in June 1924, that McPhee, Colorado became the next place for me to live in for a short while. It was near Delores but it does not exist anymore. A new sawmill was being built here with a huge logging operation in connection with it. It was here that Charles had come to find work and he was hired to work as a carpenter in the building of the mill. ‘The pay was out of this world!!’ as they say today. It was all of four dollars a day!

To move us, Mother hired a man who had a Model T Ford truck to haul our stuff over to McPhee and he took us along. While I was riding on top of the load and were about half way to Durango, the pin came loose where the steering rod joined in a ball and joint connection to the rods of the front wheels. Suddenly the truck careened off the road onto a slightly slanted shoulder. Luckily, I was holding on to a rope when I was thrown to the other side hurting my back. As the truck righted itself, I was thrown to the other side before he brought the truck to a stop. I wasn’t badly hurt, but, Mother made me ride in the cab the rest of the way. It didn’t take the man long to put in a new pin and we were soon on our way again.

At McPhee, we moved into a three room, board house. The rooms were in a row with no doors, just doorways between them. When the front door was opened, one could see straight through to the back door. Mother put up curtains at the inner doorways for a bit more privacy, and of course, there was the outdoor privy with two holes in the seat. There was water piped behind each row of houses with a faucet in each yard and we had to carry our water into the house for every need.

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I remember that Mother bought two dozen laying hens. She sold eggs at one dollar per dozen all winter. I had to take care of them and deliver the eggs to her customers.

That summer was fun for me, because there were tea parties and sewing clubs for the girls. The boys played ballgames and swam in the Delores River for their entertainment. Then at night, both the boys and girls played games of hide and seek or kick the can and many others that I do not remember the names for them. We were allowed to play outside until nine o’clock which was the curfew hour for all children.

When it was time for school to start, the school was not ready, so we had to have classes in a four room house until it was finished and ready to use.

The only church service was a Sabbath School on a Saturday afternoon sponsored by five ladies who were Seventh-day Adventist. After attending it regularly, it became the only church, of which, I ever wanted to be a member.

In August, I had my first date. It was with an older man. He was nineteen years old and he was working in the mill. He took me to the movies in Delores that night, and his folks went with us; or as I look back, maybe it was they who took us. He had the unbelievable name of Cicero!

I experienced my third introduction to death, here. The Company had given a picnic for all the young people, down by the river. Floyd Bales who was sixteen, drowned August 16th in the Delores River. I think he had cramps. His body was rescued and he was carried back to his home in camp and the doctor was called. Then he was loaded on a truck and his body was taken to Mancos, Colorado, his home, for burial.

That fall, I had my first spell of partial blindness. A traveling eye doctor, as we called him, came to McPhee. On one of my good days, he tested my eyes and then he sent to Denver, Colorado for glasses for me. When I received them, I put them on and I could see clearly again. They were the first thing I put on in the morning and the last thing I took off at night when I went to bed.

Mr. Austin came home in December. I think he must have had itching feet like a hobo, because we were soon planning a trip to California. Before we could talk Mother into leaving, Bill and Elmer Austin, Mr. Austin’s sons, showed up at our house. Bill was included in our plans for the trip but Elmer went to work in the woods under a Mr. Attie Roberts.

I had received a big, beautiful doll for Christmas. I was kidded about it a lot, I didn’t care as I liked dolls and I spent hours making clothes for it.

The winter months were cold, snowy and muddy under foot. After the holidays were over, I had another attack of not seeing very good and this influenced Mother to agree to the trip to California. She seemed to think that I was suffering from snow blindness, even though the report from Denver stated that I had astigmatism.

February found us packing, storing and getting the old Model T Touring car ready to go. We had to see that the curtains were in good shape so as to keep us comfortable from the wind and cold and possible snow on the way. I seem to remember that we got cold and miserable several times before we finished our trip, which turned out be almost a complete circle back where we had started from.

We started out for Gallup, New Mexico the latter part of February. It was a real nice day when we left, but it did not stay that way long.
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If you wish to know more about McPhee Colorado the National Parks Service has a webpage detailing the town’s history. It is also the sources of the pictures above.

 

Catch up on Eleanor’s Story: Chapter 4, Chapter 3, Chapter 2, Chapter 1

 

Thank you for reading.

J. R. Findsen

 

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How to Preserve a Husband Part 1

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One of the things I love about my dearly departed mother-in-law is even after two years she is still giving me wonderful little gifts. While looking through a stack of her old cookbooks, I found a golden nugget of wisdom, a recipe for preserving a husband. It is a lovely piece of advice pickled in farmhouse humor.

The recipe for a relationship is timeless. The quote cleverly restates the golden rule. That universal proverb we all learned as children. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

The quote is not attributed to an author. It only reveals that it was found in an older cookbook. My mother-in-law’s well-loved cookbook, tattered and worn, appears than dirt. I can only wonder how old the quote is. Finding its origins could take considerable digging. In what time era would you place the farmhouse quote?

It is a recipe for preservation worth preserving.

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Thank you for reading.

J. R. Findsen

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My Life’s Story: Chapter 4

 

My Life’s Story

by Eleanor Van Dusen Bowen

 

Chapter 4: Bayfield Colorado

 

Mother bought a herd of twelve Jersey milk cows to take up to the ranch in Colorado. We loaded up the covered wagon to make the move with. She drove the wagon and Charles drove the cattle behind the wagon. We arrived at the Marr’s home, which was a short way north of Bayfield, about three weeks before Christmas. The snow wasn’t so bad yet, but that we could get up to the ranch and get settled in. Mr. Marr assured Mother that there would be enough hay and other feed for the cattle and mules until spring.

Charles made a trip into town on snowshoes to get things for Christmas and to pick up our mail and a package that was from my father. We had a wonderful Christmas. Charles went out and cut a tree as tall as the ceiling in the living room. Harry and I made all of our tree decorations, and decorated the tree ourselves.

On New Year’s morning we awoke to find snow four feet deep against the window and it had blown onto the porch and against the door. Charles had to literally dig his way to the barn that morning, so that he could do the chores.

When we all went ty a party on a ranch, every woman that came brought food and everyone stayed all night eating and dancing until morning. The children were bedded down on pallets and beds. We usually made the trip to the party in a sleigh with hot bricks for our feet and blankets to wrap up in. It was real fun and we looked forward to every party that was given.

Since school would not start until the first of April, we had plenty of time to play in the snow, to snowshoe and ski on the mountain side behind our house. We would walk the trapline that Charles had set out soon after we got settled. We thought that we were helping bring in the furs from the animals that he had caught in the traps. He made quite a bit of money from the sale of the furs.

When school started, Harry and I went to school in a little one room building with two cloakrooms. We always had a hot drink with our lunches. We rode horse back to school each morning. It was about seven miles by the road and five miles by the short cut through the gap. The pony that we rode was mine and her name was Penny, because she had a shiny coppered colored coat of hair. She had a colt that spring and its name was Redwing. Mother gave the colt to Harry for his own pony when it was grown up.

Mrs. Painter was our teacher and she taught eight grades. Many times, Mrs. Painter would have me listen to the first grade children read or maybe it would be giving out the spelling words to the second and third grade children. I often thought how nice it would be to be a teacher, but I never got the chance to go to school to learn to become one because of ill health when I was young.

In September, Harry became ill with appendicitis and died in the Mercy Hospital in Durango, Colorado.

When School was out, Mother and I moved into Bayfield, but Charles remained on the ranch until the cows were sold. Mr. Austin went south to find work. I went to the Bayfield grade school and I had to take the seventh grade over due to some rules they had of children coming in to town from a country school.

Our fun, that winter, was skating on the ice in the river and the ice on the ponds, and sledding down Wheeler’s Hill on the hard packed snow on the road, and roasting marshmallows over a camp fire. We would use the campfire to warm ourselves by between trips down the hill or after skating for a while. At night the stars were clear and bright and when the moon was full, the country side looked like a fairy winter wonderland. The air would be cold and crisp and we see our breath like a fog in the air. At the end of the evening we would walk home where our mothers would have hot chocolate waiting for us to warm our insides, before we had to go to bed.

When school was out for the summer, Mother and I got ready to move to McPhee, Colorado where Charles had already gone to get work, as there was a new sawmill being built there.

 

To be continued…

 

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Catch up on Eleanor’s story: Chapter 3, Chapter 2, Chapter 1

 

 

Thank you for reading.

J. R. Findsen

 

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter.