Thursday, January 31, 2013


The Things I Remember Don't Always Have a Date

I'm not really sure why, but several things and events during this period of time don't have dates attached to them.
Sometimes we heard FDR giving one of his weekly Fire Side Chats on the radio.  December 7, 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.  Soon rationing of many products began.  I remember: rubber, including tires, gas, sugar and tin products.  These days it is almost impossible to find anything made of tin.  Then, many items were made of tin.

The road from the Little Red House to the river was a two lane path through sand, sage, grass and wild flowers.  A hundred feet or so from the river bank was a sand hill that reached out to the road.  People had started hauling away sand...I'm not sure why.  Maybe they were building something that needed sand and cement.  Maybe their kids needed a sand box.  We had a sand box table in our school room.  After a while folks started using that place as a dump.  Once the war got in full swing, the government bought junk iron.  I remember when we went to the river for a play day, we'd look to see if there was any iron we could pick up to sell.  I remember an old roadster just south of the windmill and cattle tank in our cow lot.  I think Daddy said it had belonged to Uncle Zeb.  I played in it a few times, and then it was gone...sold "to fight the Japs."

Up in the Sand Hills, east of the Little Red House,  just south of the Shelter Belt, in the pasture, there was a thicket of wild Sand Hill Plumb bushes.  For many years, Mother would take us there to pick plumbs,  She used them to make jam and jelly.  O, they were so good!  After a few years, the fruit trees of the orchard produced so that we didn't pick the wild ones so often.

Daddy always loved watermelon.  When he was planting cotton, he had me ride on the planter with a bunch of watermelon seeds in my cap.  I sat there with the cap in my lap.  And I'd drop 2 or 3 seeds through one side of the planter in the row of cotton.  The seeds dropped about 6 feet apart for the whole half mile.  When we turned around to come back.   That gave us two rows of cotton between the rows of watermelons.  I think we planted 6 rows of melons.  When they were ripe, Daddy put out the word in the community.  Anybody was welcome to pick as many as they wanted.  His only rule was, don't break or eat melons in the field.  That would have attracted crows or coyotes.  Those would have destroyed the crop for everybody.

Some time during 1942, the Army began to build an Air Base just east of our County Site, Altus, Ok.  Daddy got work there and met one of his very best and life long friends, Percy Ryan from Ryan, Ok.  They were hired the same day and were sent to work together.  They lived about 125 miles down river from us.  Over the years our two families had many wonderful times of fun and fellowship together.

HOW FAR COULD YOU GO: 1847 - 1899

They were called Clemie and France.  They were born in Arkansas in 1847.  They lived through the Civil War.  She was Margaret Clementine Brenson.  He was Francis Marion Easley.  He grew up with his Grand Parents on the west side of White River.  His Grandpa owned a general store and operated a ferry on the river.  She grew up with her parents on the east side of the river.

After the war they got married.  They were eighteen years old.    His Grandpa soon died.  I don't know about her family at that time.  It seems that she and he" soon left for Texas.  When Uncle Will, their first born, was a year old they left Texas for California.  There they took a train up the coast to the State of Washington.  They were in the same area that Aunt Pearl and Uncle Everett move from Grandpa's farm at the beginning of World War II.  There they saw a combine cutting wheat which was pulled by 64 horses.  For some reason they didn't like it out there.  So they came back to the area around Fort Worth, Texas.  Grandpa and a partner developed a trade route from there to El Paso.  Uncle Lawton has a tin type photograph of Grandpa and his partner on one of their trips.

It seems that he had a farm or an acreage where they raised their family.  Papa told me about living there.  They had a poor neighbor family living down the hill.  Easley's had extra milk from their cow or cows.  They offered buttermilk to that family.  He said the eleven year old daughter came with a two and a half gallon bucket to get the milk.  He remembered watching as she started down the hill toward home.  After a little distance she lifted the bucket and took a good long swig.  He thought that meant how hungry she must have been.

Grandma and Grandpa had six or seven sons and three daughters.  One little boy died, Walter must have been about two years old.  He was between Uncle Virgil and Papa.  I think most, if not all, their family was born there.  Grandpa hired a man to build a good fireplace in their house.  The man guaranteed it would have enough draft to pull a twenty penny nail out the top of the chimney.  He built it with mud mixed with sticks and straw.  After it was well dried, the great test came.  He stuck the nail through a sheet of paper, tossed it into the fireplace and those watching outside the house were totally amazed and pleased to see it come flying out the top. 

Now Grandma could cook inside during cold and rainy weather.  In 1885 Grandpa bought an iron cook stove, so Grandma didn't have to use the fireplace in winter.  In summer she had been cooking over a bonfire.  Papa told me they dried their meat by slicing it thin, then hanging it over a wire.  I asked about the flies?  He said they tied the wire above fly line.  I was so surprised I didn't think to ask, "how high is fly line?"

Finally in 1899, Grandpa and his sons traveled by horse and covered wagon (s) to Jackson County, Oklahoma Territory to purchase a claim an Old Man had staked in 1895.  After the transaction was made, they returned to Texas and brought the family and possessions to their last home, in 1900.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Eight Miles from Town and Eleven Families on the Line

When we moved into Grandpa's house, the phone was where it had been since it was installed.  It was screwed to the wall about 5 feet above the floor.  It was in a wooden case about 18 inches high and maybe 10 inches wide.  The mouth piece was mounted in the middle of the front, which was also a door.  The door could be opened to replace the two batteries which stood upright.  That didn't happen very often.  The ear piece was mounted to the left side about two thirds of the way up.  It hung in a U shaped hanger.  When one lifted it to make a call or to answer a call it had an attached cord about two and a half feet long.  So you stood facing the wall, speaking into the mouth piece and holding the ear piece in your left hand, listening with one's left ear.  The ringer was a little crank on the right side about the middle of the box.

When phones became available, eleven families in our neighborhood got together and built a phone line all the way to the phone company in town, Eldorado, Okla.  They all had access to the line.  Each family had their own ring.  There was a general ring which meant that all homes should pick up and listen to an urgent message.  Otherwise, each family had their own ring made up of long and or short burst of sound.  For instant: long-short-short or long-long-short or 3 shorts or 2 longs, etc.  One rather long ring was for calling central or the operator in town to place a call to another line than our own.  When you made a call, all other families on the line could hear it.  Often one could soon hear other folks picking up to listen in.
Lighting was generally available by means of kerosine lamps.  I don't know how many, other families had, I think at least two.  One for the main room.  In that case, for us, it was the long T room running straight back from the two rooms that faced the road.  That was the room where we had the heat stove.  Generally there was a full sized bed in the northeast corner of that room.  The heat stove was in the middle, left to right, and about two thirds from the west end.  Usually the best lamp with the kerosine was in our main living room.  When bed time came we carried it to the  other bed rooms or there might have been a second lamp to use in another room.  When that's all you have, the light is good, better than candles.

Over the years Granny and Papa had different kinds of lighting applications.  When I first remember and for several years they had a wind charger.  That required a plethora of six volt batteries (the only kind we had for that purpose in those days).  They had lights and light switches in all rooms...looked just like today, but all made with the power of wind.

After a while Thelma and Dillon had wind power and they gave us their Aladdin lamp.  O, my, the whole room seemed full of light.  That was such a joy!  I felt so blessed.

While Lawton and Nina lived in the Little Red House, I think I was there pretty often.  After they moved to the Drew Place, not so often.  Once when Daddy and Lawton were re-roofing the Little Red, Edwin and I were muddling around in the yard.  He was about two and I must have been a little past four.  I saw a bumble bee lighting on the back of his neck.  I reached to pull it away.  We both let out a "bloody murder scream" at the same moment.  The Daddies came bounding down the ladder to see what was the matter.  We had both been stung by that same bee within split seconds of each other.

We had a Rawleigh Man.  He came by once or twice a year.  He stopped his pick-up beside the road in front of the house.  I don't remember, if he honked his horn or hollered.  Some how he got Mother's attention.  His pick-up bed had wooden doors on the sides, with shelves and many little places for storage.  Those were will filled with all kinds of herbs and spices.  He had bottles of oils, salves and flavors.  Any thing a lady might need to help in cooking, baking and making her food taste and smell wonderfully delicious.  Years later, when we moved to northern Illinois, I learned that the huge W. T. Rawleigh plant was just 35 miles northeast of us, in Freeport, Illinois.  It is still there, a gigantic, four story building.  Lou and Al Schwitzer, members of the Ridott Church which I pastored for 16 years, had worked there almost all their adult working lifes. 

 William T. Rawleigh was 17 when he began making salves in his mother's kitchen in 1889.  He drove a mortgaged buggy and a borrowed horse to sell his four salves door to door.  Those four salves: Rawleigh Antiseptic, Rawleigh Internal Liniment, Rawleigh Medicated Ointment, and Rawleigh External AP Oil are all still being made.  During World War II, Australian soldiers carried Rawleigh Antiseptic Salve in their first aid kit to treat wounds and ward off infections.  On January 27, 2009, The W. T. Rawleigh Company announced their celebration of their 120th Anniversary as a direct sales purveyor of home remedies and fine spices and seasonings.  These are all available on line...almost the same as door to door.  Eventually he had seven plants world wide, and would have been considered the Bill Gates of his time.

I remember Lou saying that she ground black pepper all day long, sometimes for a whole week.  Then they would switch over to another spice or herb.  I always liked to run out to the Rawleigh truck with Mother to look at all the products he had for her to consider.  It never occurred to me that some day I would see the building and know the people who were there where it was being processed.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


It Actually Happened in Spiro, Oklahoma

One winter day in Spiro, Ok, Daddy knew his hive of bees were probably in stress for enough food to make it through the rest of the winter.  He told me this story.

He went into the chicken house and selected a nice fat hen.  He killed and dressed her.  (well, I don't remember if he removed her insides.  It probably wouldn't matter, considering the circumstances.)   He put her in the oven and baked her.

When she was ready, the secured her in front of the hive in such a way that coons or other animals could not eat or carry her away.  The outside tempertures were such that bees gathered outside their hive in the heat of the day. 

Being busy with other activities, he forgot about the hen and the hive, for several days.  After a week or two, he went to check......!  All flesh was removed from the bones.  All gristle had been removed.  The bones were laying just were they had fallen.  And the bones were pitted as if the bees had sucked out all the juice and fluid they could get.

It did save the hive until spring.  He never explained how he knew to do it, or why he thought of it.  I mentioned it to Keith a year or two ago and he didn't know anything about it.

I told the story to one of my good friends, "a man who knows all things," and he refuted the possibility.  That same week I had seen a picture in the news paper of an eagle eating a road kill opossum.  He denied that as well, saying "eagles eat only fish."

Below is an article I found (along with others) on the internet:

Moment of Science     Carnivorous Bees

By Don Glass

Posted September 2, 2004

Where in the world are there bees that couldn't care less about flowers, but sure love to sink their mouths into dead animal carcasses?
Bees that eat meat?
The Trigona hypogea is a type of bee found in  South American. It not only collects meat from animal carcasses, but has more recently been discovered to have a taste for live prey as well.
Scientists have seen the bees swiftly raid recently abandoned wasp nests, carrying off wasp eggs, larvae, and pupae until the nest is empty. They’ve observed the bees collecting toad eggs too.
All developing, young bees need protein. Pollen is actually very rich in protein. The adults of most bee species feed predominantly on nectar and save the pollen for their younger colony members. These South American bees simply require a different source of protein. Their anatomy reflects their different eating habits.
The leg modifications that enable most bee species to transport pollen are largely diminished on these bees. Their mouthparts are sharper, sort of tooth-like.
The bees prepare the meat for later consumption by the younger members of the colony by chewing it and then mixing it with sugary liquids, perhaps collected from fruit. Microbes break the mixture down into a viscous goo, which delivers important nutrients to the young bees.

I do recall that Samson found a nest of honey bees inside a Lion carcass. Jud. 14:8.  (might not apply)

Friday, January 18, 2013


Be Careful Little Hands What You Do

After the two rooms were moved from the east end of Grandpa's house, to become feed and grain bins, for the new milk barn, there was still a lot of work to be done.  The west and south walls must go up and a new roof be put on.  Daddy and Lawton were doing the work.

Edwin and I were playing in the cow lot just to the south of the barn wall, maybe 10 feet out.  Daddy and Lawton were nailing up the rafters, etc.  We had gathered several little wood blocks together and were building something as well.  I'm not sure, if we had a blue-print, probably working from the imagination of our minds.  Edwin stood by to be helpful and I gathered up a little block about 2 x 4 inches and maybe 2 inches deep.  I think I set it on another block.  Then with clear knowledge of what to do next, I held the designated block with the fore finger and thumb of my left hand.  I don't remember if there was a second planned procedure, but the first was to take up the hatchet with my right hand and chop the 2 x 4 block in two.  OOPS!!!  Scream Bloody Murder!  

I had cut my left index finger through to the bone.  Both the Daddy's fell like fireballs off that roof.  They rapped rag bandages around it, or maybe it was band-aids.  The blood stopped, the finger healed, the scar stayed with me at least 60 years, or more.  It's barely visible now.

Later, in a few days, the time came to begin roofing the barn with corrugated iron roofing.  One day while they were working, the wind whipped a sheet and cut Lawton on the bridge of his nose.  I don't remember how deep the cut went or if they went to the doctor.  It seems to me that it was not deep and they put on a bandage.

In a year or two, Lawton and Nina moved from the little red house to the Drew Place near Eldorado.  That's where Byrl and Betty have lived for several years.  Nina's Grandma had died and they moved her house to that farm.  So that was their new home for several years.  Everything had to be made new.  I don't know, maybe there was already a barn and the well with a windmill.

Daddy and Lawton built a new chicken house a bit east and to the north of their yard.  It was getting along toward finish.  One day while sawing lumber on the table saw,  just outside the building,  Lawton cut his thumb off.  It was left hanging by a flap of skin. With his other hand, he put it back in place and held it tight.  Daddy drove and they went to Dr. Crow in Olustee.  He was the closest doctor.  It all grew back ok, but got really cold in winter time.


When You Are Boiling Eggs

Well, this is not from the century past.  It happened this week

I think it was Jan. 15, 2013.  I was trying to finish up the story about Pallie's Birth Date.  It was almost noon.  The kids were at school and Joanna was at work.  So Raja, the big black cat, and I had the house to ourselves.  He never bothers me and I usually don't bother him.  If he gets too high on things where he ought not to be, it's pretty funny to shot him with the water gun.  Well, I guess I've never heard him laughing about it.

So I wondered what I'd have for lunch.  I found an egg carton with 4 eggs in it.  Four were more than I wanted to eat, but I thought, if I boil all four, I can eat two and have the rest another day.  I got out a small pan, maybe 2 or 3 pints...put in about a pint of water, the 4 eggs, some salt and the lid on, lit the fire on low, then sat down to work.  After a while I heard the water boiling.  I marked it in my brain, I thought, and kept working.

After a while, not slowly, not kinda, not possibly, but ALL OF A SUDDEN!!!  A most AWFUL EXPLOSION in the kitchen.  At first I couldn't imagine.  Then that little scratch on my brain gave way to reality.  I FORGOT TO LOOK IN ON THE BOILING EGGS.  Now it was too late!

When I got there, the lid was on the floor.  The pan was askew without water, and the fire was blown out.  I turned off the gas,  then looked for the eggs.  One was splattered all over the kitchen.  The other three were still in the pan, shells broken open and eggs burned black.

If it would have been you that did it, I would have roared with laughter!  But under the circumstance, I cleaned up the mess.  Then I looked around for something to eat.  I found some of Deb Vroom's wonderful Christmas Bread and sat down to have a heartfelt, woe is me, comfy meal.  Thanks for the bread Deb!  It has been a joy all through the season.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


It Is Time to Can Corn ... The Clan All Gathered In

Thursday, September 18, 1941.  Because of the wonderful rains we had received throughout the year, we had a great crop of sweet corn.  Donnie was just 11 days past her first birthday.  Daddy had planted a good patch of sweet corn, and now the Family and Friends had come in for the harvest.

The two new grain bins were in place.  A lean-to shed had been put in place on the south side.  That was our new milking barn.  I think it held about 6 cows at a time.  It had a new tin roof.  Water lines had been run up the hill from Grandpa's old hand dug well.  A new hay barn had been added onto the east end, which also gave room for extra cattle or calves... sometime a few sheep and a horse or two.

The cow lot fence came straight east from the mail box along the south side of the driveway to the corner of the bull pen.  There it turned south east to the corner of the grain bin.  There was a large gate which opened either into or out of the cow lot.  There was a large feed trough inside.

Daddy and the men had brought saw-horses and covered them with boards to serve as work tables.  Mother and the Women had brought wash tubs and all things necessary for canning large quantities of sweet corn.  I was so busy with my part of the chores, I don't remember the bond fires under the big black kettles.  I know there were several people and children all around.  Everyone had their own assignments:  picking corn, bringing it to the work sight, stripping off the husks, washing the ears and cleaning out the silks.  That was my job.  I was appointed to be helper to Amy Walker.  I think I was 3 years, 8 months, and 24 days old.  That was the day I learned all things necessary for picking corn silks out of ears of corn.  You really had to pay attention.  Amy assured me that we just could not leave a silk in the corn.  Others would be cutting it off the cobs and we absolutely must do our part the very best.

Somehow the day ended.  The prepared harvest of sweet corn was all taken away.  The sawhorses and table boards were all put in place.  The people left.  Our evening chores were finished.  We must have gone inside for clean-up and supper...wash up and go to bed.  One could not go to bed though without first kneeling beside the bed for "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep."  And then kiss Mother and Daddy on the cheek.  I don't remember many of those ending events that day.

The next day, I remember going to Mother Shumaker's house.  I don't remember waking up, or getting dressed, or eating breakfast, or driving there.  What I do remember is walking into her front room, then going through the bed room door to Aunt Bonnie's room.  And there was Mother lying in the bed, covered up to her chin, and on her shoulder was the face of a new little baby sister sticking out from under the covers, also!  Someone told us, she is Pallie Sue!  How proud we were.  Now we were three.  It was Friday, September 19, 1941 and I was 3 years, 8 months and 25 days old.


We Are Off and Running

You will remember that we moved into / onto Grandpa Easley's River Farm on Friday, January 31, 1941.  It was a very rainy year.  That was good, because the country had just come out of a 10 year drought ... from 1930 to 1940.  The drought had been broken in 1936 or 39 ... but once the rains started, it took a while for them to become consistent again.

FDR was elected president in 1933.  The Dust Bowl was already in full swing, and the Great Depression was singing right along with it.  The president had collected together a bunch of advisers to help get the country going again.  Congress was very reluctant to start spending money.  They weren't concerned about the weather problems in the southwest of the United States.  On Sunday, April 14, 1935, one of FDR's advisers, Hugh Hammond Bennett arrived in Washington, D.C. on that same day a huge black dust bowl Sand Storm roared into town covering the sun and dousing the White House with dirt.  Next day when he spoke to Congress, he said, "Gentlemen, this is what I've come to tell you about."  That year they passed the Soil Conservation Act.  A result of that, was the "Shelter Belt of Trees" across Grandpa"s farm, between the cultivated land and the pasture land.  The tree row was six rows wide and 1/2 mile long, west to east.  Each row was all of one type of trees: mulberries, honey locust, black walnut, Bois d'Arc, evergreen and I'm not sure of the other one ... I think those were the kinds.  The purpose was to help with wind control.  I think they were probably planted in 1939.  Government employs planted them along with many other projects all across the country.

Now the rapid march forward began.   Grandpa died, Uncle Everett and Aunt Pearl moved to Washington State.  We moved in.  The two rooms attached to the porch on the east end of the house were moved to the southeast of the house for the grain bins of a new milk barn.  Then it was time to start planting early crops.  Daddy planted several acres of cow feed, tall stalks with small grains (don't know how to spell it...something like:  hygerra) (does any one know the proper spelling?  It is a grain from Africa.) for use as the year wore by.  Since we had so much rain, the crops grew and grew.

Lawton and Nina with Edwin lived in the little Red House a half mile south of our house.  He helped in the harvest.  They dug two trench silos to the south of our new barn [not the stone dairy barn].  Those were 12 or 14 feet wide and probably 75 or 100 feet long.  I'd guess they were 10 feet deep.  As the harvest was ready, the fodder was ground in the field and dumped into the trenches.  The feed was covered with dirt and cured as it would have in the upright silos of the north.  They also made two trench silos at Papa's place to the west of his barns.  Ours were all used up and empty in a timely manner.  But Papa's weren't used until in the mid 60's when Lawton was working that place.  He opened those silos and the cattle lapped up the silage as if he was hand feeding candy bars.

Early that spring, Papa and the men planted the orchard on our place just to the north of the Shelter Belt.  It was 4 or 5 years before we begin picking fruit off those trees...but O So good!  At the time, those years didn't seem so rushed, but looking back, I know the days and nights were full of non-stop activity, mixed with lots of fun.

I remember walking down the cattle lane from our barn yard to the end of the lane where it opened into the pasture.  About a quarter mile more as I walked along the edge of the hill, the ground was wet and spring water was seeping out.  My shoes got soggy and as I came in sight of Nina's house, I angled off over the side of the hill and made my way down to spend a couple hours playing with Edwin and Nina.  I can only assume that Mother had called ahead to arrange the plans for me to make the trip alone.  Nina must have been watching for me.  I don't remember going home.  So Mother or Daddy must have picked me up.  I couldn't have been more than 3 1/2 years old.  I can't imagine sending one of mine at that age, even in that time period, on that kind of hike.  But I can verify that it really happened.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

In An Earlier Post I Mentioned the Goose Nest

When we moved to Grandpa Easley's place at the end of January 1941, there was evidence of geese, though I don't remember seeing geese.  I know that geese go way back in the history of the family.  On the Easley side, there had to be geese, because I found that goose nest in the milk barn.  And I know the Luker side had geese because  Granny and her just older brother, Uncle Tom, were responsible to drive the geese through the peanut fields in north central Texas.  The geese's jobs were to eat the grass seeds off the grass heads.  As "little granny and little Uncle Tom" followed the geese along, the geese talked:  quack, quack, "you take this one and I'll take that one."  Weed control was their job.  They also served as "watch dogs."  Goose feathers was one of the ways people had good pillows and mattresses.  I think they used straw, cotton or wool as well.

Aunt Thelma's gaggle looked like the goose we had on Grandpa's place.  On the internet I found this information about  "Domestic geese in America generally came from German language countries.  They were bred mainly for meat, eggs, and fattened for liver (foie gras).  These were descended from Greylag geese (Anser anser)."  But the picture I saw seemed a bit different from our geese.

I asked Aunt Thelma once what kind our geese were.  I thought she called them "Tulaps", and she said they were French.  So that part fits better with the information about "the Toulouse breed which originated near Toulouse, France."
They were said to be "ponderous in appearance and to have large dewlaps {flaps of skin hanging under the jaw.)"

It could be that I misunderstood her to say 'Tulap' when she meant to say dewlap.  They were gray like a picture of them.   The picture shows them with the "dewlap," but I don't remember those.  The article said they didn't need a pond. And that certainly was my observation.  It mentioned they would enjoy bathing and playing in water.  Since we seldom had rain, I never saw that trait in action.  It did say they preferred "to stay close to home and made them ideal for large gardens or orchards."  I concur with that idea, except our orchard was so far over in the far side of the fields, the geese never went that there.  It is my belief that they were descended from those "Toulouse, first recorded in 1555."  "Lord Darby first brought them into the United Kingdom in 1840."  Use your imagine to figure how they might have come to America.

I don't remember our geese looking exactly like this one, which I copied from the internet, but I do think it is awfully close.
A tufted Toulouse

So far as I remember, we never butchered a goose or used their eggs.  But of course we had only  that one of gander.  Aunt Thelma was the only one with a gaggle of 10 or 12.  They all wondered around together between her house and the barns and chicken house out back.  When we played at their house, we often met the geese.  They always stuck out their necks and hissed.  We weren't afraid of them, but we moved on one direction and they went the other.  The only real problem I had, was over many years I had recurring dreams  about those geese hissing and then their necks turned into rattlesnakes and came after me.  THAT WAS A PROBLEM!!!

I don't know how many times the family gathered at Thelma and Dillon's house to pick feathers.  People who are serious about it start checking the geese about the middle of April.  When you pluck a feather off the breast and it doesn't have a bloody tail, it's time to pick.  And then ever 6 weeks until the last picking in September.  The time I remember, women and kids were all in the chicken house with all the geese.  Each person had a goose under his left arm with a sock over the goose head.  Geese have 3 weapons of warfare:  claws on their feet, wings for beating you, and a beak for biting anything you get in their way.  We held them under our left arm, their wings tight against our body and their head turned back under our armpit.  With the right hand we picked breast feathers and put them into a paper bag.

People probably have not had paper bags all that long, but I think probably as long as time has been, folks must have been picking feathers off fowls for use in pillows and mattresses.  I have no idea how many feathers a goose will yield in a season, nor how many is required to fill a pillow or a mattress.  Mother sometimes kept the smaller feathers off chickens, when she was cleaning them.  I think feather cleaning must be a real science.

Now back to the River Farm.  We never named the old gander.  Since there were no other geese, the ole fellow got himself a girl-friend.  We had an old brown brindled milk cow, that had some how got crippled.  She couldn't keep up with the other cows when they went out to pasture.  The gander took up with her.  At night in the cow lot, when the cow lay down, the goose hunted her up and squated beside her head.  It was so funny.  There was the old cow, dozing away, and the gander muttering beside her until they both fell asleep.

In the morning, after milking when the cows went out to pasture, the goose waddled along with old brindle.  Probably not every morning, but often, about 10 or 10:30 a.m. from the south pasture there arose such a clatter, we rushed out the door to see what was the matter.  Honking and squawking the old gander appeared in the sky.  He circled the dairy barn a time or two, getting lower with each twist around as he got lower and lower.  He had never learned how to land.  So finally he just ran into the hillside and then the feathers flew.  And the old gander quacked and shouted that he had returned safely home!

Every year the Church Easter Egg Hunt was in Thelma and Dillon's pasture to the west of their barns.  The "prize egg" was one Thelma had decorated and donated to the Saturday hunt.  One year Aunt Thelma gave us one of her hens.  Gander appeared to totally ignore her.  But when her nest of 6 or 8 goslings hatched, he was all "Daddy/"  He proudly quacked along with her and them for several weeks.  But by the time their yellow down had turned gray, he lost interest and hunted up the cow.

For several summers, during really dry weather, Daddy rented cow pasture 8 or 10 miles to the northeast of our place.  We drove all the dry stock 4 miles north of the farm to the east-west road from Dillon's farm to Hi Point Church.  We turned them toward the Church.  At the end of that section, we turned them north again at least 3 or 4 more miles, toward Creta.  When we were in front of Mr. Yeats place we put them in a pasture west, across the road from his mail box.

When autumn came we rode the horses over and brought all the cattle back home.  In about an hour after they were all back in our cow lot, old gander was quacking away right beside the brindle cow.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

What Do You Do With A Leap Year?


            What do Leap Years have to do with us?   One Hundred years ago, 1912, was a Leap Year and a year of weddings.   Seventy-six years ago, 1936, was also a Leap Year and a year of weddings. 

            Granny and Papa, Frank and Kate Easley, were married January 12, 1912 in Texas.   Mother-Shumaker and Grand-daddy, Earnest and Liffa Shumaker, were married September 21, 1912 in Texas.  Neither couple knew the other at that time.  Both couples moved to rural Eldorado, Jackson County, Oklahoma.  There they met and two of each couples children were married in 1936.

            There was a tradition that in Leap Years women could propose to men for marriage.   I don’t know if that’s really true or why, or why couldn’t a woman propose to her man any year?   Anyway………

            Aunt Thelma and Uncle Dillon were married January 4, 1936 and Mother and Daddy were married December 19, 1936.  Mother said that Aunt Thelma thought it was funny that she got her man early in the year and it took Mother almost to the years end before she got her’s.    

            Hope I didn’t waste your time, but just thought you might like that little dab of family trivia on this 29th Day of February, 2012!   

           O my goodness!!!  Here it is almost a whole year  later.   I apologize.  I do hope my failure to send this out when I first wrote it won't warp your sense of time in the universe: nano-seconds, seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, scores of years, centuries, myriads of myriads, thousands of tbousands and eons upon eons.                  Please do have the greatest year yet!!!


Daddy built a bee hive for inside the living room.

Bees and honey were a great, welcome part of our Easley family. Papa had several hives in a row under a large, low, spreading mesquite tree at the entrance of their driveway. I think all the other family members had at lest one hive, maybe a few hives. At least once a year toward fall, we all gathered in Granny and Papa's cement house for the great honey harvest. The men with hats veiled in net all around and tied at the neck, wearing long sleeved shirts and thick gloves, carried bee smokers stuffed with smoldering cotton rag. The bellows on the can kept a supply of smoke ready to drive away the angry bees.

The women and children were set up in the cement house with the extractor, pans, jars, knives, and lots of hot water.  Some cut the caps off the frames.  They were then put inside the extractor.  It could hold 6 or 8 frames.  One of the boys usually turned the crank to spin the honey out of the frames.  The frames were then turned around and spun to extract the honey from the other side.  These empty frames were returned to the men, who later returned them to the hives.  As the extracted honey accumulated in the bottom of the extractor, the women drained the fresh new honey into jars.  The girls helped with cleaning the jars and screwing on the lids.

The caps from the frames were cut off with sharp butcher knives which were kept hot, by dipping them in pans of hot water.  Honey caps were wonderful for eating as the day progressed.  We were all warned, continuously, don't eat too much new honey!  "It can make you sick.  If you ever get sick, eating too much new honey, you may never want to eat any honey again!"  Some of the older folks could testify to that fact.  I don't remember any of us younger folks falling for that mistake.

Lots of honey was extracted each season.  But I don't remember hearing how many jars or gallons may have been taken.

Papa and his sons all read and studied the science of bee culture.  There were excellent books in the family for anyone interested to study.  Papa said, "every person should eat one teaspoon of honey each day."  A pitcher of honey, or syrup was on every dining table of the family.  I don't remember any of the family making syrup in those early days.  But Daddy raised sugar cane and made syrup in later years after they moved to eastern Oklahoma or northwest Arkansas.

One year when we still lived on the River Farm in Grandpa Easley's old house, Daddy made a bee hive for us to watch and study inside the living room.  He built a framework to hold a single bee frame from a hive.  It was enclosed in glass sides.  There were cardboard covers to slide over the glass.  He had drilled a hole through the wall about 5 feet above the living room floor.  A 3/4 inch wide pipe was fitted into the frame work that held the bee frame.  It extended out through the house wall.  So the bees could pass from the outside through the wall into their mini-hive inside our living room.  Because bees generally work in darkness, we only lifted the cardboard sides when we wanted to learn how the bees worked, how they made new sells for new queens, and the royal jelly they fed the newly hatching queens.  The experiment didn't last very long.  I think two frames might have been better, though we couldn't have observed what was going on in the middle.  With the single frame, I think there were not enough bees to raise a strong brood.

You might be interested in asking Ray how to heal wounds with honey!