Tuesday, November 18, 2014


After We Moved to Grandpa's Place there Were So Many Things to Explore

We had moved into Great Grandpa Easley's house on January 31, 1940.  He had died on Christmas Eve of the previous December.  Mother and Daddy had bought the farm from Grandpa's heirs.  Aunt Pearl and Uncle Everett Davis had been managing the farm and caring for Grandpa.  But they were wanting to leave the farm and take other employment.  So those changes by the adults in my life made a world of difference in my life of adventures!

Donnie was my sister just younger than me and by the laws of nature was required to lay in a basket, be strapped into a highchair or crawl on the floor.  So out the door I went.  Probably the very first place of inquiry was the old 40 year old barn.  There under the cow's stanchion I discovered a goose nest.  There were lots of feathers and the deeper I dug I found an egg or two, then digging a bit deeper there were more eggs, and more eggs, maybe 6 or 8 in the nest.  Long after the fact, I realized how dangerous it might have been, if that old goose would have come while I played with her feathers and eggs.

Just to the east of that barn was the cattle water tank.  The well had been dug years before.  As they dug a hole about three feet across they came to a rock about fifteen feet below ground level.  They could hear water running beneath, so they cemented stones around the outside of the well to two or three feet above ground level.  When all was finished they broke through the stone below and had a very long lasting well of water.  Above the well a windmill had been set up.  Just to the west of the well they built a cement water tank.  The side walls were about three feet high.  The tank probably measured eight feet by twelve feet.  It was a fun place to lean over and splash the water and watch the water bugs skate across the surface.  A young female duck, before she understood all she ought to know, laid two or three eggs in the tank.  After a while they rotted enough that they floated to the top.  We had the joy of fishing them out and breaking them on some rocks.  Once I noticed a water snake in the tank.  I told Daddy about it.  He got a one by twelve board about three feet long.  He laid it on the surface of the water.  Then with a large sledge hammer he slammed it down on the board as hard as he could.  A few days later the snake, killed by the percussion, was floating on the top.

Another point of interest was Uncle Zeb's old roadster.  It had  died its last death to the south of the windmill beside the cattle lane leading from the cow lot to the pasture.  When we moved there the old rubber tires were flat and rotting.  The glass was broken all around.  All the metal was rusted but it was old and thick so would be a long time before it completely rusted away.  The seats were just springs, the coverings were long gone.  Not long after December 7, 1941 Daddy loaded it up and sold it for junk metal to help fight the war with Japan.

In the meadow below the barn I discovered a path through the grass.  I lay down and watched the red ants marching forth and back along their trail.  It was at least an inch wide and completely empty of any grass or weeds.  The ants searched out in the field of grass for seeds they could carry to their den.  All along the path I'd notice ants come into the trail from the sides, out of the meadow and start along with their load of winter food.  Others would be meeting them as they headed out to hunt more seeds.  That little meadow entertained my curious mind for many hours through that summer and beyond.

One day I was walking home from the pasture behind the cows.  As I came down the lain into the area where the cow lot began I noticed an unusual sight.  There in a big mesquite tree hung a swarm of bees.  I hadn't observed that experience before.  So to further develop my increasing knowledge, I threw a small rock into the swarm.  The old queen and most of her swarm kept their cool.  But a few angry young bees let go.  They came after me with a fury.  I only got two or three stings, but I came away with a full grown education when it comes to the sharp end of bees!  And boy did I have a story to tell Mother and Daddy.

Monday, November 17, 2014


Summer Trip 1989:  Yellow Stone / Glacier

 This is the way Jeremy started this Journal:    Jeremy Easley, age 21 . . .
      Southern Illinois University
            Summer Forestry Camp
                 5 August - 18 August  1989
                         Dr. John Byrd
5 August 1989     Breakfast at Denny's with Carl Arbetter.    Tip 90 cents

$5.00 for camping fees     Stopped in Raymond, IL for snacks.  I also bought a book.  The total was $3.55.  Lunch in Galesburg, IL was $3.80.
Herbert Hover Historic Site   . . .   N. P. Passport   $3.07.          Snacks 77cents   Total  $17.09

Camped at Anita State Park     Anita, Iowa     Traveled 600 miles.

Sunday 6 August
Left Anita State park in Iowa about 7 a.m.      Our destination is Jewel Cave and Custer N.P. in South Dakota.   Slept well through the night, woke to a very cool morning with little humidity.   Beautiful morning!

I find Iowa a beautiful landscape.   I don't understand why people look down upon this state.

Rolling hills, golden morning sun.  Cattle in pastures wedged among fields of corn and beans.

Someone asked yesterday where the trees were.  This is the first I have noticed that, unlike Illinois, most of the trees grow along creeks or in fence rows.  Many fields have been terraced adding an interesting look to the landscape.

Sioux City, Iowa.        Not long ago there was a bad plane crash.      Snacks  $2.34.

I've learned that I should be shooting 200 speed film in my camera instead of 400 speed so I sold one roll of film for $5.25.
We are now in South Dakota.   It is unseasonably cold and very cloudy.     Lunch in Mitchell, S.D.  $3.83     Home of the Corn Palace.

THE LICENSE PLATE GAME     10:45 am.   6 August 1989
     Just outside Sioux Falls, S.D.     (not including our vehicles)
                [Here he included the USA and Canadian auto tag names of 41 vehicles they had seen.]

12:45  Rich  is now taking notes for Jeremy now because he's driving  (God help us).
Badlands Visitor Center     $1.56      Wall, S.D.   $1.00 phone     Rich

Mt. Rushmore        souvenirs  $11.60

I started driving at Mitchell, S.D.  The country is still gorgeous.  We are going to the Badlands.  Off to the left out of the rolling hills rose a cliff.  It was almost out of place and took me by surprise.  The change was unexpected and also wonderfully welcome.  This was the beginning of the Badlands.  The landscape of the Badlands was out of this world, possibly from Mars.  After several stops in the Badlands we went to Wall, S.D. and then continued to Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills.  The ponderosa pines of the Black Hills were more fantastic than the Ozark's oak/hickory forest.  These hills don't have much underbrush with many granite outcroppings.  The red bark against the gray stone and brown grass combined with the fresh pine smell was absolutely thrilling.

God has an amazing imagination.  Illinois:  wooded and rolling hills.     Iowa:  rolling hills, few trees and many farms.     South Dakota:  nearly no trees, both plains and hills.     S.D. is the most desolate place I have ever seen.  Yet it is very peaceful.     This has been a wonderful day.    $10.00 gift to Rich.          Traveled 600 miles.

7  August
We camped last night at Custer State Park in a youth group camp ground on Stockade Lake outside Custer, S.D.  The Black Hills are even more beautiful in the morning.  We left at 8:15 Illinois time. As we did we saw at least 10 mule deer before we got out of the park.  These deer were more reddish in color and were smaller in stature, possibly young, than our Illinois whitetail.  We are now traveling to Jewel Cave.  We survived a record low last night of 40 degrees F.  Brrrr.

Jewel Cave was neat although I enjoyed Blanchard Springs Caverns at Blanchard Springs, Arkansas much more.  The features in B.S. had more color and seemed to be more diverse.  The lighting in B.S. was much more spectacular.

Traveling again:  The Black Hills ended almost abruptly upon entering Wyoming.  From hills and pines to hills and grass.  This is absolutely wonderful country.  I am thinking now that I don't have enough time or film to properly document this trip.  This fact by no means indicated that I am less
excited to be on this trip than before.                  Gillette, Wyoming   groceries and lunch   $11:82
                           Below this he listed another one of those:  License Plate Games

Throughout Wyoming, I saw my first antelope.  What imagination!
We have come the way across Wyoming on Interstate 90 and are now in Montana.  Wyoming was mostly prairie grass, lacking trees until we started nearing the Bighorn Mts.  The climate must be a little more wet for there are more trees, although still few compared to home and the grasses are greener and taller.  As we get deeper into Wyoming, I see more hills and beautiful gorges.  Where the earth reveals stone; hues of black, pink, blue, purple and gray form a picturesque scene against the yellow-brown grass.  Montana is quit similar to Wyoming, there are a greater number of trees.  An interesting point:  In these western states, the farmers are allowed to bail the grasses along the interstate.  This seems to be a very practical and feasible agreement for both parties involved.
We just left Custer Battlefield National Memorial and are driving to Bighorn Canyon National Rec. Area.  Located inside the Crow Reservation, the battlefield gave me an eery guilty feeling.  Eery for it is difficult to imagine how it would be to know that this is my time to die.  How would I take it?  I guess you just do what needs to be done and try to forget the inevitable outcome.  That must be what "BRAVERY" is.  God Bless the Brave!  Guilty because of what we, the white man, have done to the native Americans.  Guilty because we are now aliens / foreigners in this Crow Reservation.  Why must one race, Caucasians, have such greed.       
          MONTANA:   BIG SKY
                    BIGHORN MOUNTAINS:   WOW
                              Total           340    miles
                               Total           $11.82
                     LICENSE PLATE GAME

8 August
We have camped through the night at Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area.  Our camp is located at the North end of Bighorn Lake below the tail water of the Yellowtail Dam.  We set up camp about 6pm last evening and are presently breaking camp to leave at 9:15am.  We climbed a stone out croping behind the camp and then took a quick dip in the river.  The water was as cold as the air yesterday morning.  The campsite was very scenic although we had to camp on gravel.  It wasn't bad.  We had a nice fire using cottonwood.  It took a while to get it going good but it was nice when it was fired up good.

Took a tour of Yellowtail Dam.  This was interesting but I don't trust man's creations enough to want to work here.  I paid $6.95 for a book and $7.90 for two rolls of Kodak Gold 100 with 24 exposures.  We are now heading for Yellowstone.
                    LICENSE PLATES

Yellowstone Tower Falls          $30.30 Film     K. Bold 200     36 Exp 5 Rolls

 After Yellowtail Dam, we traveled to Yellowstone.  Our route led us over the Baretooth Mountains.  The road was amazing.  The road rose to 11,000 feet, well above the timber line.  The view from the top was fantastic.  But my favorite part was on the way down.  As we descended a beautifully gorgeous valley appeared.  This valley was full of crystal lakes, green grass and wonderful flowers.  "Jeep Trails" led away from the road.  I must, someday return here to camp.  ABSOLUTELY MAGNIFICENT!!
Well, we continued on to Yellowstone through both the Montana and Wyoming National Forests.  The forest was nice although not like the Black Hills.  Entering Yellowstone by the North East entrance I soon became spellbound.  This land doesn't deserve to be photographed from the windows of a dusty van.  This park deserves to be photographed on foot and painstakingly.  Wonderful, wonderful, magnificent, fantastic.

We have camped in a group camp-ground on the shore of Yellowstone lake.  Tomorrow will be an adventure.

How can people say there is no God when knowing Yellowstone exists.  I feel like a child on his first adventure.  All is new all is different.  ALL IS BEAUTIFUL.  BISON, BIG HORN SHEEP, MOOSE, DEER, GEESE, SWANS, RAVEN, WE HAVE SEEN TODAY.  How can there not be an omnipotent, omnipresent God creator of the universe.  Man always botches things up doesn't he.  Man really has no control over God's creation except by the desire of the great creator.  After creating Yellowstone, "Who is man that Thou art mindful of him?"  May I always be able to sing praises to God for His supreme wisdom and sacrifice.  God truly is merciful to allow an unworthy human race to continue on this earth.  Praise God from whom all Blessings flow.

9 August
Slept wonderfully last night at Bridge Bay group camp.  It rained through the night.   We have shared our camp with a herd of chipmunks.

When people go on vacation they get stupid and careless.  For example, we went within 30 feet of two moose to take pictures.

We have traveled 1806 miles so far.

Lunch  $4.85     Post Cards   60 cents     Candy   93 cents

             PAINT POTS
                  OTHER GEYSERS

Wonderful and Beautiful

Saturday, November 1, 2014


Our Country Halloween Parties Were Most Often at Hattie Whites Farm House

 Halloween in our countryside was made up of farm kids.  Not that we excluded the town kids, its just that they were eight miles away, so didn't come.  I don't remember if it was always on Friday or Saturday night.  We dressed in what costume we had.  Usually when we arrived the big black kettle was setting over a fire in the front yard.  Aunt Thelma was often playing part of the witch stirring the brew.  If there was anything in there to stir, it would have been water to make some steam for affect.

There would have been ten to fifteen kids and a few adults who had driven those who didn't have teenage drivers.  Hiram and Hattie White lived over the fence to the east of our farm.  To get to their place one turned east on the county road a half mile north of our house.  About a half mile along that road one should turn in at Roy Hall's place and go past his house down the dirt road through the pasture of mesquite trees until you crossed the cattle guard.   In another half mile from the county road you'd come to the White family home.

We tumbled out of our cars eyeballing all the other kids dressed in their scary and frightening get ups, trying to guess who each one was.  After we passed the stew pot where Aunt Thelma and another lady or two were making strange and weird sounds, we climbed onto the porch and went into the house.  When we had all assembled, the guessing games began.  Finally everybody had been identified and prizes given to the best dressed, the ugliest, the prettiest and all the other categories.  Several games were played. 

Let me introduce the family.  You have already met the parents.  Older brother, Raymond.  Younger brother, Wade.  And the sister, Betty.   I don't remember ever seeing the brothers on Halloween night.  Hiram was generally reading in a side room.

The best part of the party was always the last and we all wanted to be included.  In the years past, when Hattie was a girl, the youngest in a family of six children, their Daddy was a holiness preacher.  In those days there were a lot of oil boon towns.  So he preached revival meetings in those boon towns and to make a living in daytime he made candy.  He traveled with and lived in a tent.  It was 16 feet long and probably 8 feet wide.  He made and sold pull Taffy candy.  There could be two kinds, hard or soft.  He cooked molasses and other ingredients in his candy kettles.  He had an iron hook which he hung on the back poll of the tent.  As the taffy began to cool, he would rub butter on his hands and pickup the ball of very hot candy.   He hung it on the big iron hook and started stretching the big ball of taffy.  He continued pulling and stretching, pulling and stretching to get air into it and so help in the cooling.  As he worked, the ball of taffy would stretch longer and longer until it reached the whole length of the 16 foot tent.  By the time it was cooled he would lay it on his work table and break it into sell able sizes.

Making pull taffy candy was the highlight of our evening.  Hattie and the ladies had prepared for our candy making fun.  She cooked the ingredients and as soon as it had cooled enough to handle, she began to pull it on her Daddy's big hook.  She had set out cookie sheets on tables.  When it had cooled enough with her pulling it on the hook, she then broke off good sized pieces for each kid to continue the pulling process as long as we could.  When we finally couldn't pull it any more, it was time to stop and begin eating our own home made Pull Taffy Candy.  Everyone always had enough to take home.  Those were great times of fun, learning history of the past and good fellowship with our neighborhood friends.