This year 2015, we had a busy and enjoyable Reunion.
I had mailed 66 announcements in April, the envelopes were sent to a special facility for cancellations that would enhance the appearance of the covers (envelopes).
By June, the announcements were nowhere to be seen.
I printed and mailed postal cards as a safeguard; eventually the envelopes were delivered.
Perhaps, two mailings were better than one but, I don't wish to experience the urgency of preparing the second mailing again.
A fair amount of planing went into the meal preparation.
I was very pleased to purchase a large amount of uncut chicken breast, we cut the chicken strips and marinated them; it was a very good value.
Of course, I drove the truck during the week and my Mom Linda Pfannenschmidt did all of the work in preparation.
I do want to mention that I try to stretch every dollar as far as possible, there were several large cans of beans and other tasty side dishes.
We had three grills and they were coordinated by Robert Pfannenschmidt; the Marine proved to be of grater efficiency as a hot and timely meal was prepared.
Matthew Peter Klimek
(Son of Linda Greene Pfannenschmidt, Grandson of Esther Newton Greene, Great Grandson of Charles Newton)
2015-07-25 Newton Reunion
Bob Kellogg lost his wife to cancer in Jan of 2015.
Reverend Ramon Greene secures the flag at our Family Reunion.
Secretary Linda Pfannenschmidt
(Daughter of Esther Newton Greene, Granddaughter of Charles Newton)
Today it is Bob's birthday and it was cloudy all the way to Letchworth but it is beautiful now.
Brother Ray and Matt beat Bob and me to the Octogan Pavillion.
By 11:00 we were all cooking up boneless marinated chicken breasts which Linda had frozen solid.
Birthday Bob, Brother Ray, Son Matthew and Linda worked hard but it wasn't done until after 12:30 but it was delicious!
Ray Greene prayed and we all tore in for a wonderful tasty feast.
We had 35 folks present after the lovable late group arrived.
They had a problem finding the Octogan Pavillion. We had our business meeting where we read the minutes and the finance statement and had them approved.
The floor was opened for nominations for President and Secretary of the Newton Family Reunion and Matthew Klimek and Linda Pfannenschmidt again ran unopposed.
We voted and the AYES won! Congratulations Matt and Mom!
For 2016 it was decided to list Octogan Pavillion as first choice and St Helena as second.
Matt will submit the request on Jan.1st and see what the Letchworth lottery chooses for us.
Ray passed the hat to collect donations and $78.00 was collected.
Then we went outside to have our official 2015 photos taken.
Back in the pavilion Bob P was ready to start the auction. What a fun time! A canister went for $9.00 and a candelabra sold for $5.50. Thank you for all who contributed and bought. We ended up with $82.00! Our money intake was $160.00.
Thanks to all you wonderful relatives! Thanks also to all who helped clean up and to Randy for hauling out the trash! We love you and love the fun and visiting! Please return on the last Saturday of July in 2016 and bring others. We can't wait to see you there! (by Linda Pfannenschmidt - secretary)
The Newton Family looks toward a camera as many pictures are taken.
The next year 2016:
Sometimes improvements are slow in coming.
I did sit down and ask myself if there was any thing that may make a bit of a difference?
As I thought of the years past, I realized just how much I enjoyed it when Milton Roof had a small PA system that sounded like he was on the radio; it wasn't much louder but, it did make a difference.
I recently bought equipment for my production work; it should be a good fit with the family reunion.
I found a amplifier and two mid sized speakers online; it was a really good deal.
I also bought a set of 4 wireless microphones; good deal on Amazon!
It was simply a matter of finding a reason to acquire these items.
The Newton Reunion is a wonderful excuse to possess these items!
The objective is that we will be able to record the family and interview them as the audio is recorded onto a laptop computer.
We will have sound so that everyone can hear whatever there is to announce.
I am looking forward to 2016, I simply want it to be enjoyable.
Matthew P. Klimek
Nancy Osborn provided a copy of :
Great-Grandma Lucy's Memoirs
To my beloved Grandchildren. This book is lovingly dedicated by their Grandmother, Lucy S. Newton Voss.
I wish to acknowledge, with gratitude, Nancy and Brenda’s tireless effort in typing and also Linda’s help in completing this book. Also, I thank George for the picture.
Because I have wished many times that at least one of my grandparents had left behind some sketches of their childhood and youthful days, I have decided to do just that for a my grandchildren.
Right now this book maybe of little interest, but will no doubt be enjoyed more in later years. My prayer is that in reading of my bygone days, you may find something of value and inspiration.
This book has been long in the making. I attempted to write it some ten or twelve years ago. Now in the year, 1974, I am planning to complete it. I hope you aren’t that long in reading it.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Elwyn
Playing in the barn
Walking in the rain
Cat tail march
Horse and buggy days
Outdoor fun in the winter
Outdoor fun in the summer
The old shop and silver maple
The story of Acts: 5 and its results
Chapter 2: Linda
Keeping house for Grandpa Newton
God’s care and protection
Grandpa’s table prayer
My father’s passing
Christmas at Grandma’s
Descriptions of rooms
Grandma’s and Grandpa’s choirs
Chapter 3: Dale
Living at Edna’s
How I came by my name
Only one 1st cousin in our family
Grandma’s song on my 16th birthday
Back to school at 19
Houghton School and work
Six different schools
Chapter 4: Nancy
When I was 12 years old
My years between 13 and15
At 16 years, the store
Frightened by storm
Seeking the Lord
Falling in love with Jim
Incident in your mother’s babyhood
Incident in Uncle George’s babyhood
Chapter 5: Tom
Our home described
The maple grove and flower beds
The apple orchard
The sugar house
The cow pasture
Chapter 5: Paul
The rumble home
The Quinn place
Aunt Ell’s home
The cheese factory
Chapter 7: Brenda
Incident at the Newton Reunion
Courtship of Fred Tiss
The broken engagement
Chapter 8: Robin
Louella and Edna described
Charlie and I after cows
How little girls dress
Walking to school
The first strawberries
Chapter 9: Cindy
The swing in the door-yard
Two times I burned my leg
The old woodshed
More about Grandmother
Chapter 10: Poems
Sunshine and Shadows
If We Had Known
Jesus, My Wonderful Lord
The Gift of Salvation
Let Him Lead You
From Darkness to Light
I was born in Lewis County about a mile form the little Hamlet of Barnes Corners on January 26, 1891.
My father had gone for the doctor at the time, as we had no telephone. But I didn’t wait for them to return. Evidently, my mother was very uneasy and having some difficulty as I have been told that Aunt Ell couldn’t keep her in bed, and eventually I was born on the kitchen floor, doubled up and bottom first. However, our floors were always warm as the house was well constructed and the cellar ran the full length of it. It seemed so long before my mother heard the first cry that she gratefully thanked God when she heard the first “squawk”.
Fred was the oldest in the family, then Edna, Nellie, Louella and DeWitt. De was only a few days over a year and a half when I arrived. No wonder he was about to stick his finger in my eye when Aunt Ell caught him just in time. I suppose he wondered what those two black spots were when he spied the bundle in the big rocking chair.
My first name, Lucy was after my father’s sister Lucy, whose funeral was held a year to the day before my birth. My mother dearly loved Aunt Lucy. My middle name, Samantha, always bothered me, for I didn’t like it although it was my father’s, mother’s first name and I guess she didn’t like it either for Grandpa Newton always called her “Mat” and I thought that was worse.
Aunt Lucy never changed her name, as she married a man by the name of Fred Newton. She had only one child, a boy named George. So our only cousin was a Newton. He married, was a dentist and lived, after marriage, and died in Missouri… miles away from his close relatives. He had one son named Fred, who has only one son, named Fred. He and his wife, Claudia, live in Hannibal, Mo. (the home town where George and his wife spent their time together.)
Note: I have learned since writing this, George had two sons, one named George, living in Mo. I never saw them.
If I could, I’d take you back to our farm and show you the pigs, calves, horses, and cows. You would be interested.
You would like to have played with us in the old barn, for we were allowed to swing on the hay mow. That may not be allowed these days. Maybe we stole those pleasures, I’m not sure. There were three of your uncles (great uncles that is) on the Newton side. DeWitt, Charlie, Ben and myself mostly played together. Especially on rainy days we took ourselves to the barn to play hide and seek, or whatever we chose. (I can imagine it must have been a relief in the house when we played outside.)
The hay rope hung down where we could reach it, and if we quarreled over anything, it most likely was whose turn it was to take the rope to a high place in the barn, where from some lofty beam we might swoop down like a flying bird.
It seemed that we usually had some neighbor friends playing in the barn with us, too.
There were the high jumps, to see if anyone dared jump from a high perch down onto a low hay. I wonder how many times I did that, landing so sharply that my knees hit my chin, causing me to bite my tongue. But that was the common procedure. We knew we must expect a few bumps in our fun.
The rain, when warm, was a real pleasure to more than just the boys and me. Nellie, I and Louella, if she were home visiting us, would wear old clothes and were allowed to go out and paddle in the mud with our bare feet.
I shall never forget the “cat-tail” march, though now I often marvel to think our mother allowed it. However, you must remember our country roads were really “country roads”. They were thick with deep dust, no cars on the road, and if a horse and buggy or wagon came along, their coming was at lengthy intervals. Perhaps, from one to another was two or four hours or even more in the evening. So, when cat-tails were nice and dry, we were allowed to dip them in kerosene, light them up and each one of us held theirs above their heads and tramped back and forth before our house in the dust, after dark. We no doubt were singing as we went.
Behind our house, or at the side, to the west, beyond a meadow, edged by a fence, was a gulley where we often went to wade and play. The water was seldom very deep there. It came from up in the pasture and made a crooked stream edged by trees and flat, jagged stones. I guess it was mostly the water that fascinated us younger ones and our neighbor’s youngest girl, who lived just about as near our creek as we did. Just why I don’t know, but the memory of that gulley and our playing there brings back vividly to my mind the dark brown plaid panties that I had to wear everyday. I hated them! Why couldn’t I have white ones like my neighbor friends? Why Grandma always made me dark colored under pants, I don’t know! Probably, that could be easily answered as we look back now to the treading in the mud and skipping along and falling down frequently. I recall as though it were yesterday, how some of us would get beneath the bridge (just a little wooden affair) with planks that rattled, sifting dust down on us as a buggy or wagon rolled over it, drawn by horse or team.
We never thought of wearing shoes, only to church or on special occasions. I can image now how smudgy we must have looked, as we came into the house to eat and I am not at all surprised, as I recall the squeals when my hair was combed, not to mention the admonition at bedtime “Wash your feet”. Of course, we knew nothing of a bathroom and I don’t recall ever being in one at anyone’s home until I was twenty years old or more. To call an outhouse a bathroom, we wouldn’t have known what anyone meant. My mother taught us to call it a “privy”. Some said “backhouse” which I thought was very rude. But water closet wasn’t much nicer. Though, I used to think it was refined to call it the “toilet”. Some said “little house” and some called the place “Miss Jones”. Well, now-a-days, with many things that seem worse, we try to make things sound more smug with the words “His and Hers” or “Comfort Station” or “Ladies’ Room” etc.. Which I do agree is much more pleasing.
Mother called the gulley, “the gulf”. Following it to the north, the water ran beneath the small bridge, just mentioned and following it to the south, it wandered a little east, south-east into our cow pasture, where the frogs croaked, blue-flag blossomed and cat-tails grew.
It seemed our pasture bridges were made mostly of stone. I think my grandfather must have built them and it seemed they never wore out. Many times, I rode over them on our stone-boat, which was hand-made, so I suppose he made that, too. It seemed that it was composed of heavy planks bolted onto two very thick runners and something in front (probably a tongue) to hitch the team to. It may have gotten its name from its use for carrying stones gathered out of the fields to the large stone piles in the meadows. Even in my childhood days, there were parts of stone walls on the edge of our farm, facing the road. You have seen them, no doubt, once in a while in your travels. I always admired and enjoy seeing them by the way-side, bringing back memories of long, long ago. These were made, no doubt, from stones gathered from the farms they bordered.
Going through our pasture to our sugar-bush, we passed over many mossy knolls; and besides the sugar house, or some little distance from it, we sometimes found strawberries. It was on one of these travels for berries that I learned that in getting lost, one surely travels in circles. One of my brothers and I lost ourselves one time as we went beyond the sugar house. We seemed to go around and around, never getting where we could see the sugar house. We needed only to look out from the clearing on one side of it, and we could see our farm house some distance away. After rather a terrifying adventure, we finally did find our way out. I’m not sure if that is the time or not, but one time I was out from the house with my youngest brother, “Ben” when it started to rain. It seemed the rain frightened him, and although it wasn’t raining hard, he started running for home with tears running down his face as fast as the rain, I guess.
Ben’s real name was Franklin George. However, when he was quite young, a stranger came by our place and asked him what his name was. His answer always stuck. “I’m Benjamin Franklin from Frog town,” he said. I don’t know where he found that.
We four, DeWitt, Charlie, Ben, and myself, were usually playing games outdoors when the weather permitted. In the winter we slid down hill. Some of our sleds were homemade. In fact, I am not sure we had any that were not. There was one little red sled, which usually slid very good. I guess it was too small for more than one to slide on at once. Whether or not our father or our Grandpa Newton made it, I don’t know. The sleds were of solid wood runners, wide enough so that the edge could be covered with a steel tire, or iron tire from one of the buggy wheels. There were bob-sleds, too, and a load of us kids would pile on when the crust was strong, and if they didn’t slide far, they might end up in a huddle on the way down the hill.
We had no snow suits in those days. They usually were not even thought of. Probably because everyone wore long underwear, and many wore long leggings over long black cotton stockings or home knit woolen ones. We wore home made hoods or toboggan caps such as you see now days, with long tails and a tassel on the end. Our family had no skates or skis when I was young, but we sometimes slid out the door with a milk pan to slide down hill on.
One winter the snow piled so high that it reached the edge of the barn roof. We found lots of fun sliding down the barn roof as far as we could (when the older folks were away for a while). It was hard to understand why it would do any harm to slide over snowy shingles.
This reminds me of the great enjoyment we found sliding down the old shop roof in the summer time. Finally, that was forbidden and I had to get a punishment for breaking the law.
You see, our old shop was a building about the size of a garage. In it were many tools and a work bench for making things. Passing through this room, we enter the hen-house. It was built so that the opposite end of the shop slanted quite noticeably. The lower edge was so low in fact, that the palings from the hens’ part were also used to stick up several feet above the lower edge of the roof to keep the hens in. A good old silver maple with long swaying branches swept way out over the roof as much as to say, “Take my hand and slide.” How often we did just that! We went from the top of the roof to the hen-park paling, sliding in the milk pans we had managed to find in the kitchen. No fear ever entered our heads as we slid down coming to an abrupt stop at the bottom; hanging on a long branch of the tree, gave us a feeling of security.
But yes, this was finally forbidden as a pleasurable pastime. “The shingles wouldbe loosened,” they said, “to say nothing of the wear and tear on the milk pans.” However, as children often are now days, even were then, not always obedient; so it was that one night while my mother was busy getting supper ready, and I knew we were having some one extra to eat, I decided it would be a good time to slide down the roof a few times. The climb to the roof was much too easy, as slats had been nailed along up the side (opposite the kitchen and out of sight from there) all the way to the roof, making it like a ladder nailed to the building. I was nimbly climbing up when I caught my dress on a nail and got quite a tear in it. Never-the-less, I got a slide or two in before supper, but when I came in to eat, Mama said, “How did you tear your dress?” “On a nail.” “Where?” I couldn’t lie. My conscience was always tender about that. “I was climbing up the shop roof,” I said. “Then I caught it.” No, not much of a scolding, but while the others were eating, I was standing behind the kitchen door. There I was until our “company” begged Mama to let me out. My lesson was learned though. I didn’t ever have another jolly slide down the roof.
But that same silver maple seemed to be three trees in one, that came up together to a height of eight or ten feet. There they separated, so it was that someone, (my oldest brother Fred, I suppose) built a platform and a place to sit up there and a stationary ladder to climb up. Here we spent many happy hours.
We used to eat those seeds from the mallow plant, and even the funny tasting seeds, but they didn’t seem to hurt us. We enjoyed picking wild strawberries and smashing them between fresh clean strawberries leaves and eating leaves and all, calling them strawberry pies. Of course, we enjoyed raw rhubarb and salt and raw potatoes and the heart of cabbage, these too with salt.
Mother had a few goose-berry bushes and they were luscious, big, cultivated berries that I really liked to eat when they were ripe.
I remember we had some she had put away, I guess in the cellar cupboard by the cellar stairs. (We didn’t have, and I guess refrigerators were not even invented at that time). Of course, we were told not to eat the goose berries. “They were for pies.” But DeWett and I got in the cellar way and while I chewed the goose berries, he listened to see if they made noise. It just roared in my ears! “Crunch! Crunch!” Then he would chew some and I would listen. “No,” we decided, “Mama can’t hear them.” Many years later, she laughed when I told her about it. Our conscience smote us, because we were disobeying. We, at least I, early learned that disobeying is sin, according to God’s law.
This leads me to think of the incident that took place many years ago when I was quite young. My mother had been reading to us the story out of the Bible about Ananias and Sophia. They sold some land and pretended to bring all the money from it to be used in the Lord’s work. But each of them lied about it for they kept back part of it. Because of this, the first one dropped dead, then the other one came (the wife), she tried to deceive them, too and she dropped down dead, too. (The story is found in the fifth chapter of Acts of the Apostles). This story had quite an impression on me and caused me to realize that I must not lie.
A short time after that, my oldest sister, Edna, (Russel’s mother) told me I had done something, I don’t remember what now, but I hadn’t done it, and I told her so. She declared I was quite guilty of it and I didn’t know whether to say I did or didn’t, because she was sure I did it. So, finally I agreed with her, making myself a liar so I wouldn’t appear guilty to her. How foolish can one be! And how confused!
If a little child pleads innocent, I guess it’s better to believe them, unless you know they are in the habit of telling falsehoods.
How well I recall the days when I, like you, was almost walking on air. The thrill of finding that the one dearest in the world to you, really loves you! What more could one ask, since he was seeking to be all that God wanted him to be and he also had the faith in God the same as you did. I rejoice with you and can only ask the rich blessings of God shall always rest upon you, as you venture out in life and seek to glorify Him, who has so kindly smiled upon you.
When I was 17, I went to live with Grandpa and keep house for him. This was my father’s father. Poor Grandpa! My heart ached for him, for only a few months before, while he was very ill with pneumonia upstairs, Grandma died with the same ailment downstairs. He was too sick to be told until she was dead and buried. Both Grandpa and Grandma were real Christians, so Grandpa had someone to lean upon in his great hour of sorrow. But I knew the home was never the same for him. My youngest brother, Ben (Frank), came and stayed with me and he milked the cows and did the barn chores. Ben was 14 then. So, Grandpa seldom ever spent a night on the farm. He would walk two miles down to my oldest brother’s (Fred’s) and stay overnight and come back when he felt like it. But his heart was so broken it seemed he just couldn’t stay with us. I didn’t mind as I knew he was very unhappy.
I knew nothing about making butter, but I learned. First, the milk had to set in pans until the cream had risen on it, and was thick enough to skim off. I watched it carefully for although the cream should be sour, it must not be allowed to mold, which can easily happen on hot summer days. When I decided I had enough cream saved up to make a pound or two of butter, it had to be stirred frequently and when “ripe” it would soon get the way of making butter, as I had watched my mother many times.
Grandpa let me sell what butter we did not need for our own use. I asked the mailman if he wanted it and he bought all that I had to sell.
I laugh now and wonder how I had the “brass”, for one thing, I recall I got too much salt in the butter and I sold it to him just the same, he told me later and I know now that I should have done something about it. But instead I asked him if he couldn’t soak it in water to take the salt out (think of that), I know now that I should have made it right, but that was before I met the Master “face to face”. I know now I did many foolish things before I found Jesus as my Lord and Savior. But, Mr. Moore (for that was the mailman’s name) was very long suffering with me, and kind. I guess he realized I was young and had no one to guide me at that time.
I think back over those days with a great deal of gratitude to God, for so marvelously watching over me, while being so much alone. I thought little about it at the time, and never felt afraid at night. The only thing I feared was the baker that came once a week. I wasn’t afraid of him until he acted a bit “fresh” toward me. After that, I never saw him again to speak to him. I dreaded his stopping and if Grandpa wasn’t there, I’d lock the door and stay upstairs until he left. He got so he didn’t stop, I guess. Once, when Grandpa was there, he stopped and Grandpa called upstairs to me and told me he was there, but I said, “I don’t want anything,” so that was that.
Grandpa appreciated my being there. He was always kind, and once said, “You keep the house nice and neat, just like your grandma did.” When he was there and ate with us, he always said thanks at the table. His table prayer always was the same, so I recall his words: “Heavenly Father, we thank Thee that we yet live, for the privilege of partaking of our daily food. Bless it to our good and us to Thy service, for Christ’s sake. Amen.” He always spoke in slow, reverent tones, but the “amen” always sounded like “aim” to me and from early childhood I could only think, “Now, aim at the potatoes.”
No meal in our house was without potatoes. They were warmed usually for breakfast and supper and boiled for dinner or baked. Breakfasts were not so much with cereals those days. Instead, fried pork, warmed potatoes, hot Johnny cake and coffee or milk for the children. Coffee we were not allowed only sometimes very weak coffee on Sundays.
For dinner, we had potatoes, garden vegetable, pork in some form or eggs, usually and white bread occasionally. As I recall, we ate Johnny cake more often. But we had plenty of milk and good homemade butter and the white bread was always deliciously homemade, too.
Although I was only about two weeks past five years of age when papa died, leaving eight children, two younger than I, and the oldest not quite seventeen, I little knew how grieved and broken up my mother was. She had hid her sorrow and tried to make things more pleasant for the rest of us. I often think now how brave and noble she was. I can seem to see her now as she used to read to us and sometimes tell of things that happened in her life that amused her. She had a very hearty laugh and sometimes told of jokes that were played on herself. She kept her tears hidden and I never saw her cry. But a little of the realization of her great sorrow was printed indelibly upon my mind, one evening sometime after papa died. I felt so lonely for him that I thought I would pray that God would take me, too. Mama was cooking supper on the big range in the kitchen. There was a wood box partly behind the stove. It was deep and would hold a lot of wood when filled, but this night the wood was low and I got down in out of sight to pray. Suddenly, I heard Mama say, “What are you doing in there, child?” I said, “I’m praying that God will take me to Heaven, so that I can be with Papa.” “Don’t you ever pray that way again!” she said. “It’s bad enough to have him gone.” The words were sharp and pointed that they stuck and I climbed out of the tall wood box and began to realize mama was feeling the loneliness more than I had thought. So, I stopped praying that way.
We never had a telephone in those days and very seldom ever had a doctor. My mother knew many herbs that grew in the fields, and studied a doctor book a great deal. She steeped herbs for various illnesses and made salves for burns, frost bites, chest colds, etc… She also made sticking salve much as we have around the house. If a sliver in finger, hand, or foot was to hard to get, she’d open up the spot and dig it with a sterilized needle and eventually might end the process with a hot sticking salve plaster. That might loosen it and make it feel better. If we had a bad cold, we used to have to soak our feet in hot mustard water until they fairly wrinkled, take a drink of ginger tea, (which by the way, Mother fixed up tasty with plenty of sugar and cold milk, no water). It warmed us up, good. Then she’d rub our chest with turpentine and lard (a mixture she had compounded). All this just before going to bed with a hot stone, or flat iron at our feet, and being in a cold room, we sometimes slept between home-spun, woolen sheets. These things were welcome and comfortable in the winter.
We didn’t seem to ever have a cold, only in the winter and then seldom very serious. We didn’t stay inside much, but Charlie, Ben, DeWitt, and I wanted to be out in the snow, no matter how cold. We didn’t have snow suites, but we all wore long undies to our ankles and buttoned up most of the way to our chins with long sleeves to our wrists. Then we had woolen leggings, which were like stockings without the foot and rubber tape to hold them down under our shoes. We were fortunate if we had to just rubbers to cover our shoes, but I think we did have.
There’s a little idea of how our coat leggings and high rubbers looked. The leggings covered the tops of the shoes, (probably buttoned shoes). And by the time we had played out for a couple of hours, even the tops of our shoes might be wet through, but while we were inside, we usually went bare foot. Our floors were warm (the cellar was under the whole house).
Living out in the country with no telephone made no difference about our good times and parties on winter evenings. Someone would decide to come to our place and they’d ask another neighbor and maybe two or three families would drive in cutters and sleighs. These were usually cousins. We didn’t think of having coffee as we do now. We sometimes ate apples, the older ones played Dominoes, Checkers, or Parcheesi and children Tiddle de Winks, Old Maid, or Hide-and-Seek.
The sleigh rides in themselves were a lot of fun. The men would put a layer of hay in the bottom of the big sleigh and cover it with big horse blankets. Then a dozen or more could sit in, backs to the sides of the sleigh and foot to foot. The driver would stand up in front. If it was very cold, hot stones would be heated and placed at our feet. Sometimes, the men would tie the horse reigns about a post on the sleigh and he’d get out and walk fast to keep warm. The women and young folks were cozy covered with blankets. This was the way we made our trip to Grandma’s every Christmas until I was 16, I think. We were awakened about 5am and we had to see what was in our stockings, the first thing. Just once, I recall a tiny doll was in the top of mine. I know it was a very cheap one, but I was so overjoyed! Most of our Christmas gifts were homemade. We could expect an apple, a piece or two of candy and maybe a pencil. Never anything expensive; maybe an orange. That would be a real treat. But whatever we got, we thought it was wonderful and it all teamed in the great mystery of Christmas.
Now we must all hurry and dress and get our work done as quickly as possible. The men and boys had cows to feed and milk, horses, pigs, and hens to feed. We girls and Mama must get breakfast. (Usually potatoes, meat, pancakes, or Johnny cake and coffee and milk. All the milk we wanted to drink, good butter, and maple syrup or sugar.) There are dishes to wash for the eight of us. Louella would be with us for Christmas. There would be four beds upstairs to make and one or two downstairs. There were floors to sweep. (Some folks had an old-fashioned carpet cleaner to use on the carpeted floors, but not us). A vacuum cleaner was not heard of in those days. Our kitchen and dining room floors were bare wood. I had not heard of linoleum.
The work finished, we dressed in clean clothes, probably not our best, and piled into the sleighs to go to Grandma’s. It was quite early in the forenoon. And just about two miles to drive. Our horses were not too swift. We were apt to be half an hour or about that going there.
I can see Grandma now as we piled out and rushed toward her long porch. She always tried to call out “Merry Christmas” before we did, or so it seemed to me. So we were all shouting “Merry Christmas” about the same time.
Inside the kitchen was cozy and full of the smell of fragrant food and fresh popcorn. Grandpa and Grandma had to kiss us and help us hang up our wraps on the back of the kitchen door; or in that corner where Grandpa had many hooks for them.
Going into Grandma’s dining room, there was a strip of oilcloth (something like think linoleum running diagonally across her home woven, bright colored carpet, from the kitchen door, to a big pantry, which had cupboards containing Grandma’s best china and a milk rack in one end, made to store milk in pans so the cream could rise for churning, or for sweet whipped cream). Beneath this rack, Grandpa had made an opening in the floor about six feet long, covered by a hinged door, and having a depth, like an inside box, of a foot or so. There were open slates in the bottom, just open enough to get air cooled from the cellar beneath. Grandma kept fruit cakes, etc… down in this compartment. The door fit snugly over it and was raised two inches or about that from the floor.
Coming back into the dining room, you will notice an old time clock, much like we have now in our kitchen on a shelf on a wall opposite the kitchen door. At the right as you stand looking at the clock, you will see two windows, one on either side of a beautiful, very large mirror.
Grandma always had a table, partly set; that is the sugar bowl, spoon holder, her best water pitcher and glasses, and maybe a pewter canister, which held salt, pepper, vinegar, and some other condiment, and some smaller salt and pepper shakers all covered over with a beautiful pale blue netting. Some of her real good chairs were around this table and across this room, beneath the clock, a sofa, which we always allude now-a-days as a davenport. A big chunk stove stood not far from the stair door, which was just around the corner from the pantry door I spoke of. Today, a warm fire was burning and the big double doors along that side leading into the parlor were opened wide. On a table just outside the parlor was a great dish-pan full of fluffy popcorn, as much as to say “help yourselves”. Inside the parlor, which we seldom ever entered at anytime except for Christmas, were Grandma’s best furniture. A horse-hair covered set of three chairs and a sofa. We used to sit on the sofa and slide off, it was smooth, but it was prickly also on our legs. We didn’t like it as well to sit on as to look at. A beautiful Christmas tree is in the very center of the room, with an angel and star at the top and strings of popcorn looped around on the branches. There was also a box of Christmas candy for each one, much like we get at church now days. These had been sent from Grandma’s brother, our great-uncle Marenus Goodenough, together with some other gift for all of us together. The other gift might sometimes be a book, “The Brownie Book” was one. Sometimes a subscription to the “Youth’s Companion” or maybe the “Ladies Home Journal”. Whatever the gift, we were always happy over it. Grandma sometimes (maybe always) made individual gifts of some kind for us. So we felt we had lots of nice gifts and the dinner; that would be difficult to describe. It seemed that she had the most delicious rib-roast and stuffing, the fluffiest mashed potatoes and richest brown gravy with homemade bread and butter, plenty of whole milk to drink, topped off with a glorious whipped cream cake. At least it seemed like that to me and I believe all my brothers and sisters, too.
Today we would eat in this beautiful dining room, with the lovely large mirror, behind the table, and the sparkling hanging lamp gleaming with glass pyramids above it. But we were more interested in the food than anything else, although the dining room was used as such only on very rare occasions. In fact, Christmas is the only time, I believe, that I ever ate there. Grandma had a table and chairs in the kitchen where she and Grandpa and other occasional visitors ate.
Grandma’s kitchen was always neat and clean, and she kept the floor painted a sort of dark orange color. A big kitchen range (wood stove) stood at one end of the room. Grandma’s low-padded cretonne covered chair was at one end of the stove near a front window which looked out across the porch in a corner of which Grandpa had laid two flat stones, forming steps down into her pansy bed. Also, a lovely snowball bush stood at the corner of her flower bed. A well kept fence of paneling with heavy woven wire between panels, surrounded the door yard and a path of flat stones led the way from the end of the porch to a wicket gate by the road.
I thought Grandma’s window-sill was almost a miracle. For Grandpa had formed a box the whole length of the window and several inches deep, and made a hinged cover for this. Inside, Grandma could keep spools of thread, thimble, scissors, bees-wax, measuring tape and such handy tools as she needed for sewing. The hinged cover, Grandma had covered with a brown figured oil cloth.
Across the room by the other window sat Grandpa’s chair. It was a big rocker, painted green. I seldom sat in either one. I considered they were for them alone. They wouldn’t look right relaxing in any other chair. Grandma’s chair was low and padded and covered with cretonne.
Grandpa was a carpenter in his own right. There were different things about the house that proved that. There was a cabinet he had made with tiny drawers at the top for various spices, a small table top to set things on and a larger drawer for towels. Then there was the wood box built in beneath the kitchen cupboards besides the things I have already mentioned. There were many other things there to say nothing of various interesting things in our own home which I will describe at another time.
But before I go any further, I must tell you about another look at our Christmas day. If it snowed, we were happy to see the light fluffy snow. It seemed just the natural thing, even as it is now. Well, we took time to eat and enjoy our dinner, and I don’t remember anyone telling us to “keep still”. Maybe that was because we were too busy eating, or maybe just listening to the older ones talk, or maybe it was that we felt that we should be quiet at Grandma’s house. I don’t remember now how we felt about it. But I do recall how Grandpa as usual had very reverently asked the blessing, and then began cutting a rib, brown and meaty for each of us to pick on and then passing other goodies; and it seemed he always had some jolly joke to tell and laugh over, showing a row of small, even teeth, his merry eyes shining out of a heavy gray bearded face. Grandpa’s hair was always grey or so it seemed to me and he had a bushy beard and mustache. He wore his beard long and I never saw grandma’s hair anyway, except when I was combing it, but on top of her head in a small knot. She liked to have me comb her hair, to any extent, but I guess I comb her hair for a half hour or so if I wanted to.
After dinner, there were homemade games. Grandpa had made Ten Pins and a long board with sides attached and the necessary things to shoot Ten Pins. He had other homemade games to play in the house and sometimes we went outdoors to play. But before the games, we went into the parlor and sat around, all eyes on the tree, while someone began taking the gifts and calling off the names. This didn’t take long as it does now, for we were really well off if we received three gifts apiece, including the candy boxes. After this was over, we would look over our candy pieces so fancy and pretty, and compare them with each other. We usually had quite a time exchanging pieces.
In the afternoon other relatives sometimes dropped in. My Grandma’s brother and a sister-in-law and their children. These second cousins were older than I, but I always enjoyed their coming. It added to all the excitement.
Grandpa’s birthday came on Christmas day. He was born on December 25, 1831. One of these cousins of my father, or Grandpa’s brother-in-law’s children (Charlie Goodenough) had a birthday on the 25th, too. Aunt Celia Goodenough was the wife of another brother-in-law of Grandpa Newton. She had two sons and two daughters. The daughters were twins, Etta and Letta; the sons’ names’ were Oscar and Foster.
On one occasion, when Grandpa must have been 70 years old or maybe more, Foster told Grandpa he would like to wrestle with him. (In those days, 70 seemed old). Grandpa enjoyed wrestling when he was younger, but we watched almost with bated breath as they scuffed in the kitchen that day. Foster said, “I’ll let you down easy.” Flop! Down went Foster among cheers and laughter and hand-clapping. Foster laughed with the rest.
Those bright Christmas days at Grandma’s must come to an end. Just a few short years later and we were scattered. The year I was 16 or 17, we got word that Grandma had passed away. When we got to the funeral in the home, we learned that Grandpa was sick upstairs with pneumonia and could not be told of Grandma’s death. I stayed for a while and helped feed him. He was so weak, he was helpless.
Aunt Celia was a big, heavy woman and a good nurse. I recall her picking up the front of the bed sheet so he would have to roll to help gain strength. I grieved with him to have to learn that Grandma was dead and buried before he was strong enough to be told. I don’t know who broke the news to him. Dear Grandpa, his laugh after that so scarce and if he laughed it seemed to have a sad break in it. They had been married for well over 50 years.
I was fourteen when I left home to spend sometime with my oldest sister, Edna. (Russel Kellogg’s mother). Russel’s older brother was a tiny baby then, and I loved babies so much I was quite contented. Besides the next door neighbor had a family of four girls, the oldest one a little older than I, so that helped greatly to fill the gap of being away from my brothers and sisters. I went to school at Rodmen through that school term and thought it was fun because the oldest girl of that family drove their team on a surry and picked up some of the scholars along the way. Only two others besides myself and their family. She stabled the horses somewhere at Rodman and fed them, leaving them there until school was out at night. She drove them home summer and winter and we sang and visited the two or three miles as we came and went.
Those were the days of gramophones. Edna and Arthur didn’t have any, but the Newton’s above us did. The girls kept the records going most of the time when they didn’t have to study. I often spent hours with them. They would pop corn and we would listen to “Edison Record” while we ate popcorn. Some were played over so many times, we learned several songs and some of the conversations.
I recall one of the conversations when the man told of his experience in a restaurant. He said he called, “Waiter, waiter! There’s a cock-roach in my butter!” and the waiter said, “Well, push him in so he won’t get away and I’ll tend him when I get back.”
There were songs by Ada Jones and some man whose last name was Murry, I think and the jokes were told by Uncle Josh. The song, “Aromana, on my honor I’ll take care of you, I’ll be good and true,” etc… and many others were often played.
This Newton family had the same name as my maiden name, but they were no relation. My Aunt Lucy, after whom I was named and who was my father’s sister, married a brother to the father of these girls. So, Aunt Lucy didn’t change her name, only from Miss to Mrs. Newton. These girls, by marriage, would have been nieces of hers, so we used to repeat, “things that are related to the same things are related to each other,” so we must be related.
Aunt Lucy died real young, she had not been married for too long. She had one son, George, and he was the only first cousin we had. Aunt Ell (Mama’s sister) didn’t have any children that lived. And my mother’s brother died while he was in his teens (I think, at least), unmarried. We made a lot of cousin George, and always wanted him to visit us. But Uncle Fred (Aunt Lucy’s husband) married again and lived then in Watertown, where George got his education. Eventually, George decided to be a dentist, so he studied for that (I am not sure where). He practiced a little in Barnes Corners. I recall I had him work on one of my front teeth which I had accidentally broken in an accident.
Finally, he married and they settled in Mo. They had one boy named Fred. He or his wife wrote us a little note every Christmas season. George died with a heart attack several years ago and his wife (Ruby) mourned him so she only lived a short few years after that. Fred had one son I don’t recall his name, but I think it was Rick. I have never seen Ruby or Fred and his wife. We write because we want to keep in touch. Their boy is well educated and has been in Europe for part of his learning. My 1968 Christmas letter said he might chose a job in Rochester, N.Y.
Going back to my school days, I went to Barnes Corners to school until I was 14. That was the Fall I went to Edna’s. I was with her until after Russel’s birth. He was born on August 8, 1906. I was 15 in January before, and I was the first one to wash and dress him. Edna didn’t have things handy as we do now days. I had a wash basin of water and had him on a towel on my lap. I sure handled him quite gingerly. I hardly knew how to do it. My step-father (Mr. Bates) died that year or early in the next. I think it was February 1907. He was in a Veteran’s hospital in Ohio. Mama went out there to the funeral and then I went to the Seven Day Settlement, near Lowville to stay with her for a while after she came back. Before I went there I had my 16th birthday and Grandma Newton played on her tiny accordion for me at her house. I think the song was “What a friend we have in Jesus.” That year at Christmas time, I was pretty lonesome. My mother was running a little country store on the corner and wasn’t having much luck. Somewhere I saw a picture of a step ladder with a sheet covered over it and it was decorated as a Christmas tree. I tried to fix one up but there wasn’t much of anything to put on it for gifts or trimming. I don’t recall getting any present that year.
Then in February 1908 we got word that Grandma had died. I went to the funeral and stayed awhile and helped take care of Grandpa, who was too sick to be told about grandma’s death. (Linda’s letter tells about that). Grandpa passed away in March 1912. They were both dear Christians and we were sad to lose them.
I had been out of school for awhile, but had made up my mind I wanted to go through high. So I was in my first year high and was 21 years old. I had been working for my board since returning to school. At 19 years old I went back to start 6th grade. I felt quite embarrassed, but then I made 7th and 8th the year I was 21 and took my first year’s high school work, as well as 7th and 8th grade at Lowville Academy. I was working for my board at a Catholic home when I began high school. The Lord was very good to me. The woman who now lived in Lowville and really wanted me to stay with her and help her with house work and with her five children, lived next door to us when I was a child in Barnes Corners.
She had three boys, William, Harold and Raymond and two girls, Angeline and I think the baby’s name was Margarite. Angeline was very sweet and really loved me. She was five and Raymond was four. Raymond was full of imagination and I enjoyed the big imaginative stories he told. I was converted when I was 19 and so I was going to church at every opportunity. Mrs. Mahar (the woman where I stayed) used to have some talks with me along religious lines. I really can’t remember any of our conversations, only her emphatic remark one day. She said to me, “You are too tormented religious.”
In the following year, I went to Houghton and finished my high school there. Grandpa Newton died while I was in Lowville in first year high. By this time, your Aunt Nellie and Uncle Cedric were keeping house for Grandpa and had been for sometime. Milton was not very old and was named after my father (Grandpa’s only son), so Grandpa enjoyed him and called him “Mittie”.
After Grandpa’s death, his belongings in the house and all were divided up between the nine of us. You see, there were eight in our family and cousin George made the ninth grandchild. My oldest brother, Fred, was given the farm that Kenneth now owns and Uncle Cedric took the farm of Grandpa’s for their share (Cedric and Nellie). Each of the rest of us had $500.00 a piece.
After I went to Houghton, I still worked what I could. I washed dishes after each meal in our big kitchen, where several other either washed or wiped them. Sometimes I cleaned the Dean’s room or the Matron’s room. 25¢ an hour for such work didn’t add up very fast or very big. In the three years I was there, I can’t recall buying any candy and only once some peanuts. The time I got the peanuts, an old boy friend from Lowville visited me and he gave me $5.00 before he left. We were engaged at one time, but later broke up. I used out of my money from Grandpa and paid for my tuition for high school. At Lowville, I didn’t have to pay tuition at all.
I greatly enjoyed my three years at Houghton school. They are the brightest three years of my whole memory. Charlie (my brother) was there in school with me for one term. While he was there, we rented three rooms, upstairs, down in the village at the time and got our own meals. It was fun. And incidentally, Norris Luckey (Lora’s husband) and another lad rented rooms downstairs in the same building. But Charlie gave up and went back to Lewis Co. after one semester and so I went up to the dorm and rented a room there.
One real icy day while Charlie and I were living down town, we started walking up to school. The walks were so slippery that we could hardly keep from falling. Finally, my foot slipped and I knocked Charlie’s feet out from under him. He went down first and down I came and sat on him.
I sat there laughing. I thought it pretty funny, but he looked pretty sober and said, “I don’t think there’s anything to laugh about.” Ha! Today, he would have laughed as hard as I, for he is a happier Christian than he was then.
It was so good to go to a Christian school. There I found Christian friends and grew stronger in the things of God. There were revivals often and even our President of the school (James Luckey), Norris’ uncle, didn’t hesitate to go up and kneel at the alter in special meetings at the church.
One Sunday evening in a regular preaching service, I sat with some girl friend and just ahead of me sat an elderly woman who seemed to find it hard to keep awake. The minister was talking about “They that sleep, sleep in the night,” or “Awake thou that sleepest”. Something along that line, when this woman’s head dropped back, because she had fallen asleep and bang. (Down dropped her false teeth). Well, you can guess how we girls had a hard time to keep from laughing. Well, we didn’t. The next day the janitor, whom I knew real well, a fine old man, said to me, “Lucy, why were you girls laughing in church last night?” I had a laugh when I told him and he chided me a little, but kindly and said no more.
While I was in school there, Claud Ries (the evangelist we had heard at Short Tract) used to set or help set and clear tables. He ate at the same table I did and would bring dishes out and pile them on the table for me to wash. I knew the girlfriend of his real well sometime before they were married.
He was in college, or studying for the ministry at the time and she stayed at the girls’ dormitory where I stayed. The President of Houghton School at that time was Lora’s husband’s uncle.
When I graduated, there were 20 or us, boys and girls and every one of us had to write and learn an oration and then give it that day. I think the people must have gotten tired, I guess we were two solid hours giving our speeches. The title of mine was “The Unseen Power,” which is influence. I still have it, stowed away somewhere.
I got education, what I got, from five different schools. I was nine years old, I think, I know I wasn’t ten, when a little girlfriend of mine who went to school at Barnes Corners with me told me that after school was out in June, she was going to stay with her grandmother and go to school at New Boston (about two miles or so beyond our home in the opposite direction of Barnes Corners). That made me think that I would like to go and spend the summer with my grandmother and go to New Boston school, too as my grandmother lived about a mile or so from that school. The idea of a different school and the fact, too that I didn’t want Nellie Quinn (for that was my girlfriend’s name) to get ahead of me, began filling me with such desire to go to New Boston school, that I begged Mother to let me stay with Grandma and go there, too. My sister, Nellie, wanted to talk to me about not going, but Mama let me go.
Some days, I got quite lonely, so I got Grandma to let me come home Saturday and Sunday usually.
I used to go all over the hay mow, hunting for eggs and fed the chickens, too. I guess maybe I made up my own bed and put the dishes away and on the table. But Grandma washed and ironed for me and made the nicest sandwiches. They were always the same homemade bread and butter sprinkled with granulated sugar. I usually had one or two of her sugar cookies made with sour cream. I never ate anything that were better and seldom ever ate any that tasted so good.
One day she was rubbing a dress or something of mine on the scrub board (she didn’t have a washing machine) and she must have rubbed into a pin. Grandma was pretty careful with her words, but suddenly I heard her say, “Confound that pin!” It seemed about as if she swore and I felt that she was mad at me for leaving a common pin in my dress. I think she grabbed it out and threw it on the floor as she was speaking. I never heard her speak like that before, so I was scared.
One time she asked me to go down cellar and get something I think it was butter, for breakfast. She must have forgotten after a little and had Grandpa call me for breakfast. He called upstairs, but I heard Grandma asking him, “What did she say?” I hollered, “I’m getting the butter.” Grandpa said, “Oh, she said she’s getting a puzzle.” And Grandma seemed to be disgusted with me as she thought I was upstairs working on a puzzle. I guess she felt different when I came into the room with the butter. Once she sent me to the garden by the house and asked me to get her a hill or two of onions. I was puzzled over “hill” did she mean a row? I pulled up quite a few onions and decided she couldn’t mean one or two rows. Ha! But Grandma didn’t scold me.
When the last day of school came at New Boston, many of the scholars had to learn a piece to speak. I learned Johnney Quinn’s easier than mine. I guess they made him drill on it so much at school. His was:
“They call me Johnney sleepy head
The reason why, I think
I always like to lay in bed,
For just another wink,
When Mother calls, “Come Johnney, dear,”
So very soft and kind
It seems as if I do not hear,
At any rate, I do not mind.
But soon she calls, “Come John Thomas”
In a tone that makes me quake,
I pull my pants on wrong side out
Before I am awake.”
Grandma found this one for me to learn. I can’t remember all of mine though.
“I don’t see why the big folks
Need to go to cooking school.
It’s easy enough to make a cake
If you make it by this rule.
First you dig with a spoon,
A hole in the cool dark ground.
Then you pour in dirt and water
Stirring it round and round.
Next a handful of pebbles
You’re suppose to put into the dough,
What are these for? In this recipe
Pebbles are raisins, you know.
That’s as much as I remember of it.
One day, Grandma had just finished cleaning the barn floor real good, and it left it slippery where the ladder stood, which I used to climb up to the hay mow to hunt for eggs. (The hens stole their nests around in the hay). I got up quite high on the ladder and it started to slip. I just kept my feet on one rung and hung on. When the ladder hit the floor, I was standing up. I was not hurt at all but a little shook up. Grandpa heard the ladder go down and came running in about out of breath and so frightened he fairly stuttered when he tried to talk and ask me if I was all right. When he saw I wasn’t hurt, he was ready to laugh.
The next few years, I was in Barnes Corners school, then Rodman. Then I skipped school for a while. After I was vaccinated, my arm was a long time healing. At school someone was always grabbing it (by accident of course) but it would break the scab again. I got discouraged and coaxed Mama to let me quit school. Later, I was sorry for as I said before, I was old for the class I was in when I went back. For a while I went to the Seven Day Settlement School, then I got 7th and 8th grade at Lowville academy and also my first year high. Then I finished in Houghton.
My last year in Houghton was not an easy one. I had to study hard and didn’t sleep well. My nerves were worn to a frazzle. It so happened at the time that the graduation exercises were first and examinations later. So, I bought my graduation certificate (white leather) ready to be filled out, also went through the exercises and gave my oration, but didn’t pass all my exams so, I never got the certificate of course. I think all I missed was Latin and I didn’t like that or Ancient History.
Since these happenings that I am writing about in this little book are just excerpts of true happenings from my life, I am not hiding facts, even though some of my old acquaintances are still living and although I was once in love with them as a child in some instances and as a young girl in other instances.
I’ll begin my little talk with you back in the days when I was a girl, probably about 11 years old. Your aunt Nellie took me with her when she visited the parents of the man she finally married. There I met her husband’s younger brother, Bernard and his younger sister, Lilly. Lilly was cute and full of imagination. She sat down between Bernard and me and began making up stories, child fashion. Somehow, Bernard happened to put his arm around her and I did, too. Our hands met and we sat there holding hands and getting acquainted. It was the beginning of a long and good friendship. For two or three years we kept in touch with each other. Sometimes, he came down to our house, in the winter and stayed a week or so at a time. I have wondered about it ever since, how he could have missed school so long, but he did; maybe his school was having a vacation, I don’t know. I think they were part of the time for we were out of school sometimes too when he was up. Once in a while, he would go to school with us and visit. I well remember I had a girlfriend who had beautiful golden hair and curly, like Brenda’s. She was a pretty girl. I decided he thought she was pretty nice too, for he gave her a kiss one day and I was pretty jealous. I guess he told me he wouldn’t do it again and I don’t think he did.
One time while he was with us, he made me a cupboard. It was pretty nice, too, I thought. It was about as large as an orange crate, but it was made of rough heavy boards he found then around the barn or shop. It had a shelf or two and a door, too. I can see it now; it surely was a rough piece of work, but I had it up in my room and treasured it, because he made it for me. By this time, I must have been 12 and he was 2 years younger than I. So you see, I thought he was quite a carpenter for a ten year old.
When I was 14 I went to my oldest sister’s house to live with her for over a year. (Some of my days there are described in my letter to Dale). But Bernard used to write to me once in a while, while I was there. How well I remember one letter I got from him at that time. He had had an accident and lost one of his fingers, so he drew a picture around it, his hand, on the paper and traced it. It gave me the creeps when I saw that stub of a finger. Another time I was down to his father’s barn where they had the cows and horses; he slipped away from me and hid behind a big sheep skin or fur coat that hung up in the barn and as I came by it looking for him, he jumped out at me pushing the fur next to me. He thought it was such fun to scare me, but I didn’t. Ha!
Then I was 16, Mama married again and went to live in a place just outside of Lowville, called “Seven Day Settlement”. I went there and lived with them. It was while there that I really sought the Lord for the first time. I was alone way upstairs in that little old store. I prayed and asked God to forgive my sins and save me, but somehow I didn’t have the faith that I needed to believe that He did. Now I know that Bible well enough to know that He was more anxious to save me than I was even to ask Him. So it was that I had some convictions and when they began having the new store open on Sunday, I put up a sign in the front glass, where I thought Mom wouldn’t notice it, which read: “This store will not be opened on Sundays”. However, they eventually found out that the sign was there. I can’t recall anything more than a slight reprimand from my mother; and I don’t recall that they did run the store on Sundays after that.
Those were days when we did feel really poor. We scarcely made anything from the store. I doubt if we much more than covered expenses. I longed for nice new clothes, but just had to get along. Then one Sunday school teacher in Lowville gave Mama a beautiful brocaded black skirt. Mama made me a lovely skirt and suspenders out of it, trimmed with little gold colored buttons. Someone gave me a fine white blouse and I was all set.
But I didn’t want a boyfriend until I was 17. At that time I met and fell in love with Aunt Nellie’s older brother-in-law. He was 9 or 10 years my senior, but it made no difference to me. I thought he was tops. Our friendship grew in leaps and bounds and after a year we were as good as engaged. There was a mutual understanding, though he had never really asked me to marry him, and I had never made him any promises. We were so happy! But although we never had a quarrel, nor a misunderstanding, there was a time when I began to feel that he was not the one for me. I just couldn’t give him up all at once, so I would say, “After so long a time we will have to quit going together.” I guess he thought that I was a little off or something and I should have thought that he would. God was talking to me, but I was not ready to give up that which was so dear to me. He would ask “Why” and I could only say that I believed that God was not willing that we should marry. For some months we still saw each other and kept up a real friendship, but the time had to come when we were to part. One thing, he never went to church with me, but I had grown very careless anyhow and it didn’t matter. Also, I knew that that I must say good-bye, and trust Him. It seemed to hurt me, too. I was aware of the fact that if we continued to write we would certainly be seeing each other some more and I couldn’t stand that without showing him my love and affection. Thus, we parted friends. For sometime, I didn’t see him again.
Some months later, there were special meetings at the church, at Lowville and there it was that I first sought the Lord publicly and in earnest. There He met me and a little later, I saw the Light and realized that He forgave me of all my sins and received me as His child. It was good to know that I was saved on my way to Heaven, but I was a long time getting over the sorrow in my heart, the sorrow of parting and hurting on whom I loved so much. But this is become a means of my getting more closely acquainted with God. Every time I was alone for a short time I found myself crying out to God for help. Well, He did help me very much day by day and I was really happy in Him because I had obeyed Him. About this time, Jim married his old girl friend; I was glad for him.
I had been out of school for a few years, but now I decided I would go back and get a high school education. I had to enter 6th grade. I felt pretty cheap at 19 years in class with those little kids, but for once, I was glad that I was small for my age. I made 7th and 8th in one year, so I found myself in high school at 21.
At this time I was working for my board and lodging in Lowville. At the first place I stayed, the Mrs. was very tight and actually made me feel that I was not welcome to all I wanted to eat. One weekend, I went home and after telling Mama about it, she felt so sorry for me, she put up a lunch of peanut butter sandwiches and apples in a box. I took them up to my room and ate them when I was hungry. I can seem to taste them now. Eventually, the smell of apples in a lunch gets unpleasant, but I greatly appreciated her love and thoughtfulness, in doing this for me. The man of the house was kind to me and sometimes at the table he would offer me something and she would snap up, “She can ask for it if she wants it.” That’s how I felt that I wasn’t welcome to all I wanted. Then she would have bananas off in the dark pantry, even spoiling and never offer me one. I helped with the meals, cleaned up the house, even helped in house cleaning, washing, etc… but she complained about the electricity that I used to study by. That was how I came to buy the little lamp that I have recently given to Brenda. I got kerosene and studied in my room as I wanted to. All this happened before I had passed into high school. Then one day Mister and Misses went away for a day or so. Previous to this, he had begun to act pretty fresh. It bothered me, so I went to the minister and told him and asked his advice. So, while they were gone away, I made up my mind that I would look for another home. I believe the Lord directed me for at the first place, I acquired (it was at the home of an old acquaintance who had moved to Lowville), I found welcome. She had children, but was a good cook and she did most of the cooking, while I washed the dishes, made the beds, helped with the five children. We had an understanding at once just what she expected of me. Although she was a Catholic, we got along just fine. Once she told me that I was “too tormented religiously”. I think that just amused me. Well, to go back, when those first ones (the elderly couple I was with first) found I was all packed up and ready to leave, I guess they didn’t like it. I made no excuses. I couldn’t tolerate his making love to me, or trying to. He had given me a cute penknife at one time and another time a sack of chocolates, I even tossed them away. I realized he was doing this on the sly and began to get my eyes opened when he wanted to kiss me. I felt I just couldn’t even eat them. Only one thing I regretted; I left a really good pair of low shoes on the back stair and when I went back for them no one seemed to know anything about them. So, I had to give them up and buying my own clothes, that meant something.
About this time, Grandpa Newton passed away and when his will was read, we found that each of the grandchildren (except Fred) were left the small fortune of $500.00 each. Fred was given the old homestead. So, after my first year of high school in Lowville, I decided that I would come out to Houghton to finish. My mother’s Uncle Johnnie Benton had told so much about the school, I longed to go into a religious school such as this. By this time Mama was living on the Hoyt farm and she and Mr. Harrington, went down to Lowville and bought a trunk for me and Aunt Ell helped by making come extra clothes for me. Charlie also went there for one year. We hired some rooms upstairs in an old man’s home and at that time, Norris Luckey was rooming downstairs. After Charlie gave up school and went back home, I decided to go up to the hill and live in the Girl’s dorm. I got a job washing dishes, which helped a little and on Saturdays, I found a room or two to clean for someone for 25¢ an hour. I did my own washing on a board. There was no washing machine in the building. Sometimes I did a little ironing for the Matron, or some other job. Outside of study, there was not much time for recreation. Luckily, the tuition was only a minimum to what it is now or my money would never have held out until I graduated, but it did, by my extra work and even after I was married 3 years later, I had a little.
It might interest you if I gave you a little insight into my stay in a Catholic home. One day when I came home from school, who should I find on the back porch, but Bernard Roof. I had not seen him for years; now he was a beautiful specimen of manhood. He reached out to take my hand and was about to kiss me, as in our childhood days. I said, “We are too old for that now.” He laughed. I really don’t remember if he insisted or not. I only know that I was very happy to see him once more. And while I was staying at Jennie’s (the Catholic), he hired a livery and came and got me one day and we rode out to Nellie’s. She was living on Grandpa’s farm at the time.
Also, it was while I was in my first year high that I met a fellow who was converted in or after a prayer meeting at Lowville, one night. Shortly after his conversion, he asked permission to walk me home after church services. I consented and our friendship grew. When I left Houghton, Aunt Ell handed me a note in which she asked me to forget Fred (for that was his name). I didn’t want to forget him and being of age I thought I wouldn’t. So we kept up a correspondence and then one day he came to see me, while I was in Houghton. I think it was during the following Christmas vacation that he proposed to me and we decided that someday we could get married. After graduation, I cam home, and I visited Fred’s family. I liked them. He had two sisters and an Aunt was the housekeeper. I liked all of them, his father included, but somehow for some reason which I cannot explain, Fred told me one day that we must part and go our separate ways. It was the end of the world for me for awhile. But my mother was very understanding.
Later, I spent sometime with Nellie. My old friendship with Bernard was resumed. We had good times together, but my love for him was like that for a brother. I told him so and he reluctantly at last returned to a former acquaintance of his and finally married her. In 1916, I graduated from high school in Houghton and later that summer, Fred and I parted company. I never saw him again.
Late in the year 1917, when men were being drafted for World War 1, I was with Louella and Dave in Fillmore. One day while there, Lloyd Voss stopped in to see him. We fell for each other right away. He and Dave sang together and Louella played for them on the piano. He was there for only a short time, as he was soon to leave for the service. Later, in the winter, he wrote Dave and I happened to be the one who went to the Post Office for the mail that day. Something about my attitude over the letter caused Dave to say, “I’m going to ask him to write to you.” I said, “Oh, no!” all the time hoping he would. Well, evidently he did, and so a correspondence began. For more than a year we wrote back and forth and that is the way I got acquainted with him. I guess we fell in love thought the letters and then he came home in the summer of 1919, I came here and stayed a day or two at his request. I was working at the Peter Loftis at Houghton at the time. She was nice and let me off. And once Lloyd came over and had supper with the Loftis’ and me.
Within a few weeks after his return home we were married. A dear woman who had been friendly to me for sometime and had invited me into her home many times, Mrs. Herman Cronk, had told me that she would make a wedding for me if I’d like when I got married. I took her up on that and she made a nice wedding for us, so we were married in her home. It was around 200 miles from my mother and most of my brother and sisters, so I knew there couldn’t be many of them there with me.
Dave Scott performed the ceremony and of course, Louella and Aunt Ell were there, all the rest were relations of Lloyd or friends of ours. There were over forty there counting the Cronk family and Dave’s and Louella’s children. We took the train from Hunt to Buffalo where we spent a few days with Aunt “Ratie” (Rachel, Lloyd’s aunt) Reynolds. From there we went to Niagara Falls. And while there we visited Vern Reynolds for dinner or supper and Harry’s for a night or so. Finally, we spent a little time with a relative of Lloyd’s at Lima.
Of course, I suppose Lloyd was anxious to see all these relatives as he had only nicely returned from France, but I do not think the ideal honey moon isn’t in visiting friends and relatives. It should be one time when you should share your time with each other exclusively.
Returning to Short Tract, we stayed with Father and Mother Voss, until January. This too was a big mistake, especially since we had a home all ready to live in only a few rods from their home. But in January we came up and started housekeeping. Then followed days when I stayed with Mother, while Father was working away, as mother gave up and took to her bed. She seldom ever sat up in a chair. I used to get breakfast and do up our house work and then go down and spend the day there. Washing dishes, sweeping, cooking and baking. I would get Mother Voss lunch and cook supper for all of us; Father Voss, Lloyd, his brother, Milfred and myself. Father would get Mother’s tray for her at supper time. After dishes were washed, I would return home. This went on for a while and Aunt Lora had her in her home for a little while. When your mother was a few days old, I was taking her down to the house, would put her in a big rocking chair in the kitchen while I was busy there.
One day I discovered she was feverish and sick. Then I had to go back home and stay there with her. We had several doctors for her. I had to stop nursing her and we tried bottle feedings, but she couldn’t keep anything down. She got so sick and kept so feverish I began to wonder if she would live. We had a baby specialist, but he didn’t help. Finally, we went to an old doctor whom we hadn’t tried. He told us to beat an egg and add nine tablespoons of water and give it to her in a bottle. We did this and she was able to keep it down. It was the beginning of her recovery. How grateful we were! In her worst sickness I had learned to pray; “Thy will be done”. Before she was born, when George was only a year and a half old, I went down to spend a little time with Mother Voss, and as I left him in the kitchen and walked into Mother’s room, he said, “I want a drink.” I paid no special attention and didn’t get it for him right off. And suddenly I heard him choking. I rushed to the kitchen and found he had found a small tin can with kerosene in it and had started to drink it. He was choking now. I didn’t know what to do. Someone said, “Break an egg and pour it down him.” I guess I tried it but finally called Nina Hull, who was a practical nurse. She came down and worked over him. I guess they took off part of his clothes and had him flat on the floor, giving him artificial respiration. It seemed as if prayer brought him through more than anything else.
Finally, Mother spent several years here. Then when my health was such that the doctor said I should have a change, Dr. Robert came up with a stretcher and helped move her down to the big house again. By this time, Lora was living there and she took care of her to the day of her death.
Turning back to my girlhood days and Bernard, I would have to say that while I was staying at Nellie’s, before I had met Fred, I found much pleasure in being with him there, though we had no television and no money to attend shows. We played games at home and drove around some. I had to tell him I couldn’t marry him, though he insisted that I should. Again it hurt me to hurt someone I loved. But I told him my love for him was like that of a brother. Never-the-less, I found my heart very sad to say good-bye. I urged him to marry the other one cared for. This he did, I believe before I met Fred.
I should say there is an equal to my first love, though. Because after Gramp and I were married, sometime later Jim came to Nellie’s and then stopped overnight one night here. And then years later, Gramp and I visited him and his wife and spent several days there. I felt that God had given me a wonderful privilege. We all four went to church together the last Sunday night I ever saw him.
The synopsis on yours mentions Oscar Goodenough, but I really have little to say about him; only that he sometimes wanted to take me for a ride and I really have to confess that all I really cared about him and Frank Hart was to have them drive around where I wanted to go. Sometimes to Nellie’s, sometimes to Mama’s and sometimes to church. They were distant cousins, third, I guess.
Gramp and I were married July 30, 1919, but Gramp wanted to stay with his folks for a while. He bought a beautiful new cook stove for about $125.00. Which was quite a lot of money at that time. We bought a lovely wool rug for our living room from the money received as wedding gifts. And I had my antique writing desk and book case that were Grandma Newton’s, also a bureau, wash stand and a few things mama had sent to me. We had got a table at an auction, I think and chairs from Montgomery Ward’s. And Gramp got a bed, double and a folding one from Mother Voss. I had made long curtains of cheese cloth for the living room and had a couple very old folding chairs with cloth seat and back. One rocker and one straight from Grandma Newton and a rocker from Gramp’s folks. We had a big piece of matting on the kitchen floor and Gramp got an iron sink and though we didn’t have running water there was a pipe from it running through the side of the house. So we didn’t have to carry our dish water or wash water out. I painted the sink frequently as it looked fairly good for a while. I remember one time I was expecting Nellie and some folks out from Barnes Corners (about 200 hundred miles away) and I got the sink all painted fresh along with other baking etc. George was quite small and when we heard they couldn’t come after all, he said, “Ma, you wouldn’t had to paint the sink.”
With all of our house being ready to occupy, Gramp wasn’t in a hurry to leave home. Finally, he said, “We’ll start house-keeping the first of January.” So January 1st, 1920, found us beginning to live in the home where we have lived ever since. George was born here a year from the next month, February 23, 1921. But during the summer of 1920, I spent my days mostly down there, caring for Mother Voss. Father worked on the road and took his lunch and Milfred took his, too, to school. So I went down after our breakfast dishes were done and did up the work down there and got lunch for Lloyd, Mother, and myself. I baked and cleaned and waited on Mother. Then when supper was over and the dishes done, I came home, only to start all over the next day. That made five to cook for. Mother ate in bed, so she had a tray and was very difficult to please, sometimes. Poor Father looked after her breakfast and supper and while I don’t know about breakfast, I know that at supper time, she called him away from his meal many times, asking him to fix up something different. She was not one to give him praise or show gratitude and he was one of the most patient men I ever knew.
We had closed our house during the wintry weather and were staying night and day down there at the time when I realized George was on the way. I had kept up the work down there for the five of us through those days when I felt quite heavy. Once when the doctor came to see mother, he stopped in the kitchen where I was at work and said, “Did you ever hear of Cinderella?” Then he emphatically said, “Wrong! Wrong!” He said, “If I had the patience to do it, I could bring Mrs. Voss out of it. But I haven’t the patience.”
When the morning came that I realized George would probably be in the world in a few hours, and we must call the doctor, Mother said, “I can’t stand it to have her have her baby here!” So Lloyd came up here and built up a fire and put bedding around to warm up and I came up here and gave birth to him. We had Dr. Redman for him. I don’t know now why we didn’t have Dr. Lyman, for I remember consulting him about two weeks before and he said probably the baby would be born in about two weeks. He arrived about 1pm. I had been quite uneasy all night before and thought the pains were from constipation. I had finally got Lloyd to give me an enema. But the pains continued. Bessie DeMocker and Norris Luckey’s grandmother took care of us. They kept me down nine days before I sat up and then back to bed to finish up two weeks. No wonder I was weak.
When I grew old enough to think about my surroundings, I found myself living in a big roomy white house with six rooms on the ground floor and five rooms upstairs. I learned that not only I, myself, but all of us, except for my oldest brother, were born in this house. Three of the down stairs rooms were large. There was a pleasant room on the west called the “parlor”. In this room we kept the nicest furniture, and we never played games unless our company came and we might play some sit down game, such as checkers, back gammon or dominos. There was a spare bed-room off the parlor. This seemed like a sort of Sunday room. We never heard of a television in those days or a radio. We had heard and seen record players, but we didn’t own one.
The next room to this one was the living room. It was spacious and pleasant. Mama had an organ and it was situated here. She could play cords to any hymn she wanted to sing and we spent hours around the old organ while she played and most of us sang. Often our neighbors came in and we all sang together, even though they were Catholics. We never thought about the difference in our beliefs. This is how our evenings were often spent in the summer time, although there was the warm summer evening when the neighbors sat with us on the hill side of the lawn and we sang lustily and happily together. I recall especially the song in particular, “When the roll is called up yonder”. It seemed to be quite a favorite. Our house was situated on a small hill which sloped gradually down toward the road. In front of our house was a maple grove of nine or a dozen maple trees, evenly spaced. A swing hung between two in the first row and often a hammock hung between two others.
The long driveway was lined on either side with flower beds of perennial flowers and a lilac bush which never blossomed. I remember one perennial in particular, was heliotrope. It grew quite tall and had clusters of very sweet tiny flowers.
I tried to ride Nellie’s old big bicycle down this drive without tipping over and getting off. It was much too big for me. Fred was the only other one of us that had a bicycle when we were young and unmarried.
Our barn was big and roomy. I recall a large post which we noticed almost as soon as we entered, not but a few feet from the front and off to one side. As I remember it, I would say it was square sided each side a foot and a half or more wide with large wooden pegs driven in it up high. Here were hung the harnesses for the horses. Here at the right front was a pig’s trough, way down to the ground and a shelter space for pigs with an opening for them to run outside in a fenced off pig yard. I wonder how many times I carried potato peelings or corn husks to the barn and dumped them for the pigs.
The barn was on another knoll a little ways from the house. There were two big barn doors in the front and over the doors a long space of windows. When my two oldest brother and sister (Fred and Edna) were children, they took your Aunt Nellie with them upstairs in the barn and let her watch them as they dropped a straw down and watched it sail away. It was a spring day and the stones below were icy. My father was back to the sugar house (about half a mile beyond the barn). Well, it seemed that Nellie (very young, about 2 years old) reached out to catch a straw and fell from the barn onto the icy, hard stones below. Mama was so frightened when she saw what happened. She grabbed her up and started for the sugar house, running I guess and screaming, “Nellie is dead! Nellie is dead!” I suppose the severe fall and blood, etc. made her think she surely couldn’t live. For years, Nellie did have severe headaches and we thought it could be from the fall.
Just to the left as you enter the barn, we step through a doorway where there’s what our folks called a box stall on the left. A stall boarded up like a small room. On the right were two stalls for our horses, Lib and Jim. Lib was the most gentle, thoughtful horse I ever knew. Jim was good, but Lib was better. When the automobile began to move on the road, Lib was just scared stiff. She never reared or kicked or tried to run. She just trembled so with fright, that any of us kids were not afraid of her, we just felt sorry for her. If we were driving and we saw a car coming, we would get out and stand by her until the car went by. And believe it or not, we might drive 8 or 10 miles before another car passed us. In those days, when I was a young teenager, to see a car go by was such a new thing that we would watch it until it climbed the farther hill and then someone would say, “it made it on high”.
I remember the first car that ever passed our house. We knew the owner and now I sometimes wonder why he didn’t give some of us a ride. But he didn’t ever that I knew of. I was 15 or 16 years old before I ever rode in a car.
Well, beyond the horse stables to the right was a row of stanchions for our cows. At this end of the barn, of course there was an opening that let them out to the pasture. The main part of the barn had room for buggies and milk-wagon, plow, etc. Then there were ladders nailed on either side that led to the hay mow. Here we had lots of fun on rainy days. Swinging on the gay rope and jumping from beams into the hay below or making holes in the hay for houses. Of course the last mentioned wasn’t appreciated by the older men. Sometimes the jumping from a height down into the hay caused our knees to come up to our chins and make us bite our tongue, which wasn’t funny. But we didn’t say much if this happened and soon were jumping again.
On either side of our driveway where the hill leveled off, Mama had perennials. On the left stood a lilac bush, on the right were daffodils and sometimes pansies. I think at the end toward the main road a nice bush of heliotrope, a plant with clusters of fine sweet scented purple or lavender flowers, sometimes called baby breath. A big long gate was at the end of our driveway. I hardly know why for I, because I can not recall ever seeing it shut. Across from the driveway opposite the kitchen was another flower bed. Every year Mama and Nellie planted flower seeds of many kinds here. I can see in my mind the bachelor buttons, marigolds, velvet brown and yellow, maid of the mist, columbine, sweet alyssum, poppies, calendulas, sweet peas, etc. At one end of this flower bed was a row of goose berries. They were nice for pies and we kids liked to eat them raw when they were ripe. Beyond was a small group of apple trees, none of them much good. There were crab apples and some other hard apple, good for nothing, but for jell. They were very good for that and there was a big beehive, too, beneath the tree. One tree was just lovely for climbing that was all I guess, I had a good time climbing it. There was a big heavy limb down low that seemed to be just for us to sit on.
I must tell you about our sugar bush. I don’t know how many trees we tapped but I doubt if there were more than 200. We mostly had old wooden buckets. They must have been clumsy to handle and pretty heavy when full of sap. I suppose that was a good reason why our syrup and sugar wasn’t as light colored as some of our neighbors. The old sugar shanty had a loft in it and a ladder leading up to this floor, where there was a make-shift bed so when they boiled all night, they could sleep a little when they got the arch full of long heavy maple sticks. We kids sometimes went up there, but we didn’t enjoy the smoke and steam very much; although, there was a big opening in the roof to let it out.
Between our barn and the sugar house was a big cow pasture. Some of us used to go across the cow pasture into a meadow for wild strawberries. I always felt a bit afraid if there was a bull in the pasture, but Mama always said, “Don’t pay any attention to him, just walk along as if he wasn’t there.” We never were chased by a bull, only in my dreams. In that way, I have had many narrow escapes. Ha! I would usually dream a bull was chasing me and I just got under the fence or over the fence in time.
I can see our neighbors’ house so clearly in my mind. Standing on the porch outside the kitchen door, we could see the roof of their house. A path led through the orchard to the rail fence and to their house. Mr. and Mrs. Rumble lived there. Her name was Ella and his was Seldon. We never came or went by the road. Just by this path.
These neighbors were good people, but not Christians. They came down quite often to spend an hour or so in the early evening. Seldon had one peculiarity different from anyone else I know. Just before coming into the house or rapping on the door, he always blew his nose with such a loud ‘snort’, we always knew who it was. If he came down after dark, he would bring his kerosene lantern. Ella would come with him. She didn’t talk much, she didn’t get much chance, for Seldon was quite a talker and he often sang weird songs. One I remember the chorus was: “With material all to ladium, material all to lay, with material all to ladium, material all to lay.” It was a comical song about the old lady that couldn’t see very well and the old man got some marrow bones and made her suck on them all and the old lady got so blind, she couldn’t see him at all. Then that crazy chorus.
He seemed to have a number of silly songs and we kids thought it was fun to sit and listen to him. One time, Ella had me go up and stay all night with her, because he was going to be away. I remember how awful hard it was for me to stay awake in the evening. It was so still, after being home with three brothers and we four were always together. One was two years older than I and one was three years younger and one was one year younger; DeWitt, Frankie, and Charlie. Ella had a big weaver and made beautiful carpets. What I liked best was the caraway cookies she made; white cookies with caraway seeds on them. The caraway plants grew in an abundance wild around there.
About a mile from our place in the other direction, the Quinn family lived. They were a large family of 8 or 10. Three girls and the rest were all boys. Nellie Quinn was about my age, and we were quite pals. This was a Catholic family. When I first knew them, they lived in a small old house, and Mrs. Quinn’s mother lived with them. Later, they built a beautiful new house. Mr. Quinn used to drink pretty much and one night when I was staying all night with the girls, he came home late and brought whiskey home with him. The children began teasing for a “whiskey sling”. I knew our folks didn’t drink and I didn’t really want any, but they coaxed me to taste of it. I remember to this day that fire that hit my throat. One swallow was enough!! I couldn’t understand how they could like it.
The Quinn’s were Irish and Mrs. Quinn used to sing and clap her hands and stamp her feet to keep time, while her little boys danced a jig a jig. Her song, “Did you ever go into and Irish man’s shanty, where money was scarce and whiskey was plenty? A two legged stool and a table to match, and a hole in the floor, for the turkey to scratch.” They seemed to be quite a happy family in spite of his drinking. My girl friend’s name was Nellie.
One time, Mr. Quinn was to bring his threshing machine up to our house to thresh. When we had threshers, there would be about six men to feed. We had planned a big hearty meal for the threshers and were supposed to be notified far enough ahead so we could bake and cook extra. This day, we expected the threshers for supper and they pulled in from some other farm around 11am to get their machinery set up. A big steam engine dragged in the thresher machine. It was before the days of tractors. I guess my mother must have told him they would have to wait a little for dinner as they hadn’t sent us word that they would be there before supper time. I remember Jack Quinn said, “Sure and what’s the difference? The difference wouldn’t signify! Ha!”
I want to give you a word picture of Aunt Ell’s home. She lived what seemed like a long ways from our place, in those days when once in a while DeWitt would take one or two of us with him and drive out to see them. We had quite a slow horse and it was hitched to a single buggy. It was probably around 10 miles, but it seemed farther. It took us around two hours to get there, I do believe, but when we got there we found a neat white house and a big welcome from Ell and Uncle Milt. Aunt Ell’s father-in-law lived with them. He was a little man with a wisp of grey whiskers. Uncle Milt ran a cheese factory which was a short distance from the house. Aunt Ell was very efficient in helping to make cheese, but she kept her house in spick and span order. It seemed she always had pies, cakes, and cookies one or the other or all of them on hand at once. I marvel now when I think of what wonderful housekeeper she was with all the hours she spent down at the factory, stirring the curd and turning the cheese after they were made.
She hired a man to help and he worked for sometime after Uncle Milt died. I remember how she would have to weigh the milk as people drove in with their big 10 gallon milk cans and dump them; then she would call up to them, how much their milk weighed that morning.
Aunt Ell had no children, so when my sister, Louella, was four years old, Mama let Aunt Ell take her to make her home with her. Aunt Ell didn’t adopt her, but she treated her like her own, making or buying her clothes and giving her a good education. Louella graduated from high school in Houghton and taught school for sometime near Lowville and later on she went to Harlan, Kentucky and taught the poor children there. Then she came back to New York State for a little while and married David Scott, a Wesleyan Minister. She and David went back to Kentucky and again she taught there. She was there until her first baby, Mariella was born. Before Mariella was very old, Louella began to suffer so from hay fever, she had to come back to New York again. A little later, David also came and they settled in Fillmore, where he preached in the Wesleyan Church.
During the year of 1917-18, David decided to offer his services as a chaplain in the training camp. It was a real sacrifice for Louella to let him go for now she had two little girls, Lucille not quite a year and three months younger then Mariella. They always hoped for a boy, but their third child was also a girl, Eunice. From their parish in Fillmore, they moved to Bradford, PA. It was while there and when Eunice was about two year old, that Louella contracted the flu. It was during those days when many people died with the dread disease. I had several distant cousins who died with it. Also, it was said if a woman was pregnant, either she or the baby or both might die. Louella was pregnant and gave a premature birth to a baby. I heard that this baby was a boy, which made the incident more saddening. Louella also died, she left us to be with Jesus. She had lived a beautiful, Christian life since she gave herself to the Lord at the age of twelve.
Louella used to be allowed to come back home and spend some weeks with us, during the summer and Aunt Ell and Uncle Milt came out with her sometimes for a short visit. We always were so happy to have her come out to stay and I know she was happy to come. I suppose Mama let her go to live with Aunt Ell because by the time she was four years old, I was only two and Charlie was one and DeWitt three. Mama had to have her hands full. Fred, Edna and Nellie were older. Edna was Russel Kellogg’s mother. She had four boys and four girls, the same as my mother and your mother had.
Mama’s mother was a sweet little wisp of a woman. She was a dear sweet Christian. Her children were three; Mama, Aunt Ell, and their brother, Charlie. He died quite young, in his teens, I think. Mama’s father was well educated, a beautiful writer. He wrote poetry like your mother, my mother, sister (Louella), and brother (Charlie). Grandpa Steadman was a veteran of the Civil War and somehow, for some reason, he and Grandma parted and each married again. Grandma married a war veteran who was much younger than she. His name was Frank Simons. Grandpa Simons died in Lowville and later, Grandma came back to Fillmore and as Aunt Ell moved out here, they lived together. They had been living with her sometime before she passed away in the summer of 1915.
She was a tiny woman and a very sweet Christian. Grandma Simon was very quiet, not very talkative. She probably didn’t weight over 100 lbs; maybe not that.
Since I said I would tell about Frank Hart in my letter to you, I will begin. I must have been about 15 when he asked me if I would correspond with him. I was always amused at what I called his big words. I was pretty snippy and thought I was pretty smart. Now I know I was very impolite to say the least, and I am ashamed of my actions. In answer to his letter, I wrote back, “I am not old enough to correspond with anyone and if I was, I wouldn’t care to correspond with you!” His sister told me afterwards that he used to sleep with it under his pillow. I did not care for him, but found it handy to let him take me to places I wanted to go. Where ever I wanted to go and couldn’t walk, I’d ask him to take me. I know it was pretty selfish of me, but he seemed to want to offer to take me places. We never went out to a show or the 4th of July celebration together. Money was scarce in those days.
For sometime, I didn’t see him and although there were times when he came to Nellie’s when I was staying there, times when he used to sing, “Asrowana on my honor, I’ll take care of you, I’ll be fond and true.” That was the nearest to any affection, but after sometime of separation (I believe it was the summer I was 18) he said he wanted to see me alone to talk with me. So, I went into Nellie’s dining room to let him talk to me. This is what he said, “1900 years ago, there was a man who said, ‘If you will ask anything in My name, you shall have it.’” He said, “I am asking you to marry me.” I knew he had made up this speech. He had never told me he loved me. He had never touched me to give me any affection. To me it was amusing, though I did feel sorry for him. I tried to explain that one had to live a very close life to the Lord to be able to expect that. But I had no satisfying answer for him. He had never told me he cared for me, let alone propose to me. I hardly expected that! I had always been so indifferent to him. I guess I acted pretty bad. Well, Frank was pretty mad and went out and got drunk, then came back to Nellies’ like that. Nellie was pretty disgusted with him and so was I. I think she put him to bed. He was in no shape to walk. He was jealous over Bernard and me so he told me one time, “Bernard is rotten to the core.” Or some remark like that. It only angered me. I had been friendly with Bernard (Cedric’s younger brother) since I was just a child. He had never so much as told me a dirty story. Our friendship had always been pure and clean and that is a very happy thought to look back on. Of course, I was foolish enough to tell Bernard some of Frank’s ideas and so they met in Nellie’s kitchen one day and Frank said something that angered Bernard, and Bernard dove into Frank. Frank wanted Bernard to make the first move. They had a free-for-all. Frank said he would call the constable, who happened to be a relative of his and have him fine Bernard. I was worried. I thought it might get into the newspaper, but it didn’t. Now, poor Frank was ready to give up. One time, after we were married, he came to one of our family reunions and I played a game of horse shoes with him. Your grandpa didn’t seem to like the idea as he kept making fun of him. The last time I saw him, was at my brother, Fred’s funeral. That day, Dorothy Borland and Nellie were in the front seat and invited me to ride with them in the backseat. There was Frank. I figured that your Grandpa wouldn’t like it, but foolish pride caused me to refuse. I felt afterwards that I had done wrong in refusing. It surely would not have been wrong and I never saw him again. He died suddenly not long afterwards. I learned a lesson there. Never let pride stand in your way of common good sense.
Since my letter to you seems to be all about my boyfriends, I should mention Fred Tiss (yes, that’s an odd name). I met him at a young people’s Christian service. He came quite a bit to prayer meetings and one night Rev. Severence talked and prayed with him and Fred converted. After a little he would come home with me from prayer meeting or evening services. I always walked, so I really was glad to have the company. It was quite a walk from the church to the place where I was staying. It was in the village of Lowville. There were good cement walks and in those days, we seldom ever, in fact, I never heard of any one snatching a purse or stealing. But there were drinking places and I sometimes felt afraid as I came home. For a while the girl who worked next door went with me, but she was a Catholic, so that wasn’t allowed many times. One night when I was walking alone, the streets seemed so quiet and I kept hearing footsteps. When I would walk faster, the foot steps came faster. I felt afraid to look around, but when I did I saw no one and I knew all the footsteps I heard were my own. Fred worked for a telephone company and so sometimes was out of town. Finally, I left Fillmore to finish my last three years of high school in Houghton. Then Fred and I wrote back and forth. One Christmas vacation, I took the train home, or to Lowville, where someone had to pick me up. Fred was going to Lowville on the same train, so we were to meet at Utica or Syracuse, I think. Well, anyway, we missed each other and when I reached Lowville and got off and stepped to the depot, there he was. I don’t know how he missed me before.
He came to our house that night and we spent sometime and one night at an old time pal’s home while we were on vacation. I am not sure which we were at first, but I remember that it was the evening I was in my girl friend’s home, that he popped the question. He gave me a very pretty watch for an engagement gift. It seems as if the face was pink and the numbers blue. Anyhow, we broke up sometime later. I guess I must have left my watch with my sister Louella to get it fixed. When I saw Louella at Gramp’s (Lloyd) and my wedding she was feeling sorry, because Mariella had worn it and lost it. Naturally, at that time, I had no regrets about the watch, so it didn’t bother me. The violin I have was a gift from him, too. I took some lessons on it from a student in Houghton while going to school there. I never saw Fred again after receiving the fateful letter, telling me we must part. That was a big heartbreak, but God was there to help me and so was my precious mother. I am very thankful now for the whole experience. Unpleasant experiences can be a blessing, if we allow them to be. God became more and more real to me and a year or so later, I met your Gramp and so after his return from the service, we were married.
I can’t say “and they lived happily ever after,” as some stories end, for we’ve had our ups and downs. But as we have sought to please God and pray together over our problems, God has knit our hearts more closely together than ever before.
So, I can only say, “Let God direct and have His own way when the way seems rough, there is no better way to get problems ironed out.” The following poem was written after Fred and I broke up:
The Broken Engagement
Oh love that will not let me go!
Sweet as the breath of summer breezes,
I feel thee near me still;
And when my eyes are open to every hallowed spot,
Where he, whom I have loved, had sometime lingered;
Where by the shady trees near the road-side,
By yonder broad-faced rock, on the hill-side.
In distant shady glade,
‘Neath the grand old maple shade,
Where our first fond love was made
Each day to grow more fond and sweet and dear,
Oh love, I feel thee near, how can I let thee go!
God loved me in the sweet old days that now are past,
He loves me still; but in those days it seemed His will
To bring to me another who should love me;
How tenderly two hearts were born
(It seemed for one short time) to beat as one.
What love each knew, only those who truly love can ever tell!
Yet must true lovers part, and pain untold be borne by each?
The very thought seems like a sad death knell.
But God knows best, and though we cannot tell the reason why,
He oft allows sadness to come to each.
Where e’er I look about this place,
It seems that I can see his face,
Beaming so kindly down at me;
Out there beneath the maple tree,
But dusty road where berries, red
Welcomes us; and where you said
So many things to me so dear,
That I would loath to write them here.
Out there upon the sunny slope,
Where we were filled with joyous hopes.
By nodding grain, and forest fair,
Dear Friend, it seems that everywhere
Around here, You are near to me.
The wind comes softly o’er the hill
But it doesn’t seem so very still,
I hear it whisper, tenderly
Your name, in sweetest melody.
The cricket in his happy song,
Sings of you, dear, the whole day long.
And Rover acts real lonesome, too,
Wondering what has become of you.
I saw your sunny face in dream-land
And there I heard your voice, once more;
We were the same old lovers
Just as truly happy lovers,
As we ever were before.
I wonder why we had to part,-
It had nearly broke my heart!!
But God knows best, and I’ll trust Him as before…
If I could only look into your dear face!
If I could only hear your voice today!
But that face; forever dear
And that voice no more, I’ll hear
For you’ve gone from me
So many miles away.
Lucy S. Voss 1916
How would you like me to tell you some of the things that happened when I was young, like you?
I lived on a 100 acre farm, and like you I had seven brothers and sisters. We had a small dairy, some calves, hens, pigs, cats, and a nice big dog; we called him Rover. He was a yellow shepherd.
One sister went to live with my mother’s sister when she was only four years old. My oldest sister went away to teach as soon as she was qualified. My father had died when the oldest of us was not quite 17. This was my brother, Fred. Edna was the school teacher of the family. Your Aunt Louella was the one who lived with my mother’s sister until she was married. Well, I will have to change that a little after all, for she left Aunt Ell the year before she got married. And she went down in Kentucky to teach and do missionary work among the poor there. The next year she and her husband, David Scott, went down into Kentucky where their first child was born. Her name was Mariella. Her other two girls, Lucile and Eunice, were born in Fillmore. Well, so far I have given you more history than anything else, so, maybe I better change the subject and give you a word story of a little bare foot girl named Lucy.
It was about 5:30, the dew is heavy on the grass, and the sun is just rising over the hills, “Lucy! Lu-cy!” The call came up the stair to my room. It seemed to eight year old Lucy that something awful was about to happen as she tried to arouse so suddenly from her sound sleep. “Ye-s,” she finally answered. “Come get up, you and Charlie must go after the cows; the dog didn’t get them all and they don’t come when Fred calls them.” Out of bed I looked out upon the dewy grass. Oh, how beautiful! There must be some very lovely colored stones out there. If I could just remember the spot where I saw that green one or the red one. I thought, when we get back with the cows, I will go out and see what that is. Dressing was not so simple in those days. We wore an under waist with rows of buttons around it and it had to be buttoned up. The under panties buttoned onto it, and then an under skirt buttoned on that. There should be no rubber bands around us for fear of hurting our circulation. Most likely, the dress buttoned down the back, too. I know some did, but we went bare-footed and this early morning it was cold for our feet. Soon we had the cows down in the barnyard and I could see so plain from my bedroom window, the stones that were so pretty. He couldn’t see any from his window, (Charlie, that is) because his window was on the east and mine was on the west. So the sun made it look like there were many diamonds on the grass. Charlie, being a year younger than I, was as fascinated as I, so he was willing to stand down below my window and look where I would tell him. Somehow, we never found anything but wet grass. I guess we finally had to give up and ask Mom why we couldn’t find any of these beautiful things. It was then we learned that sunshine on the dewy grass brought out beautiful rainbow colors.
As soon as we sat down to breakfast of warmed potatoes, fried salt pork, and probably hot Johnny-cake, good homemade butter and fresh milk, we got rather noisy over the different events of the morning. “Children. Children!” I can hear my mother say, “Let your victuals stop your mouth.” Or maybe, “Let’s see how much silence will make.” I didn’t know what she meant by that, but we quieted down for a few minutes.
When school began, we each had our own chores to do before walking over a mile to school. There were no school buses in rural districts, then. Our folks never took us either. Sometimes, though, we were fortunate enough to catch a ride with a neighbor who drew his milk to the cheese factory at the corners.
There were no televisions to take up our time at night and we were usually in bed before nine. Then in the early hours of the morning, we were awakened; never as late as six o’clock. Five or 5:30 was the hour we would get up. There were plenty of things to be done, before we could leave for our long walk to school. The boys had chickens to feed and water, calves to feed, horses to feed and water, unless they were in the pasture, they might have to go after the cows, or they might have to clean the cow stables. On the other hand the girls had to help cook breakfast, wash the dishes, sweep the floors, make up the beds, put up the lunches for five of us, and if we didn’t hurry, we might be late for school. We needed about half an hour to walk to school. If we could leave home about 8:30 we were very glad; usually the scholars from two other homes joined us on the way. There were many times in the winter when the snow was so deep we waded up to our crotch. We would go just a step at a time, very slowly. When we got to school we would be late. We would stand over a hot register, and the snow which had made our clothes so wet, would cause them to drip. We often had a cold, but we didn’t mind that much if we could find a handkerchief. We were not usually sick with a cold. We went bare footed to school until the snow came. I remember going from home from school one night, when the hard snow was coming down, our feet really got cold that night.
One day a new scholar came to school. A neighbor about three quarters of a mile from us had taken for his second wife, a lady from the city. I thought her little boy, who was about my age, was very cute. When he first came he had a pretty sailor suit on and looked just like he was a bit better dressed than any of the other little boys. I fell for him right away, and he liked me, too. So, we became fast friends. One day at school, he laid a note on my desk which read, “Will you marry me?” I remember I was so overcome that when he looked back at me to see how I took it, I just nodded my head . That was it. From then on, he was the only boy in school that meant anything to me. I think that was the year I was eight. A few years later, I was somewhere else in school and I was quite in love with someone else. Aren’t we all much alike?
The little boy in the sailor suit found his step-father did not buy him nice clothes and at last he grew shabby, but that made no difference to me. His hair needed cutting, but that was neglected. I remember one incident that amused me; he never seemed to have a cent to spend and when he needed a lead pencil, he took an egg or two with him in his pocket and traded them at the store for a pencil. I didn’t go anywhere else to school, until I was 13. Only then I did go to New Boston during one summer vacation. I know that a little schoolmate of mine was going there and so I coaxed my mother into letting me go, too.
When we were quite small, we were always looking for the first strawberries of the summer. We knew that our mother was very fond of them, so we would like to surprise her and thought it was fun to bring the first ones to her. Sometimes, we walked along ways to find them. My youngest brother (Frank) really seemed to be afraid of rain when he was quite young. I remember onetime we were quite a ways from the house when it began to rain. It always amused me to see him take off. How he would run! I could never understand why he was so afraid. He would run faster than I, I guess. The tears were streaming down his face. He was the youngest of the family and we all babied him.
Our stairway had a door at the bottom, like yours at West Rush. One day when Mama was away or so busy that she didn’t notice what we were doing, I think it was Charlie, Ben and I had the stair door open and began jumping, each one trying to jump from a step higher than the other. If DeWitt wasn’t with us, I was the oldest. But somehow, I wanted to show how smart I was, so I kept going higher, and guess what happened. I got so high that as I jumped my head hit the top of the door casing. Well, at last it did. All I remembered for a while was that I found myself sitting on the floor and leaning against the side of the door casing. My brothers seemed to be sitting there watching me. I guess they were a little scared, and I know that it stopped the fun. I can’t remember that we ever tried that stunt again. I won the hard way and I found I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was.
When I began to go to school, I remember telling my mother that I had to go up front to see the black board. Mama didn’t seem to think too much about it. One day, when I was up to my grandma’s, she saw someone driving by to the cheese factory, and she said, “Who is that?” I said, “Grandma, I can’t see who it is.” She thought it was funny, I guess. Another time, she wanted to point out some pretty flowers in her pansy bed and she had a hard time trying to get me to see them. She asked me to tell her what time it was by the clock on the front room, once and I walked way up to the clock to see. She said, “You don’t have to go way in to the room to tell me.” And I said, “Why, Grandma, I can’t see unless I do.” That was the first that they discovered that I was near-sighted. When Grandma took me home, she told Mama that I must be near-sighted. So, it happened that Edna, who was teaching then, gave me money to get my first glasses. How much do you think she gave me? I believe it was the sum of two dollars, and she gave it to me for my 10th birthday; with the idea that what was left over I could spend as I pleased. I wonder now if I didn’t tell the oculist that, for a little was left over. I remember just what I bought with the money. In the five-and-dime, I saw what I thought was about the cutest little doll’s carriage that ever was. It was only a few inches long, and lined with pale green cloth. I decided to buy it for a little friend about my age. I think I found more pleasure in buying that for her than in getting something for myself. My glasses, eye test and all cost around $1.75. They had a gold nose-piece and steel frames. Prices and styles have changed some since then.
One fad, which we had when I was a child, was drawing pictures of houses and coloring them in different colors, and making them in different shapes. In those days, nearly everyone painted their houses either white or maybe tan. The white ones were usually trimmed in green, then tan ones trimmed with brown. Our own house was white. And my grandmother’s house was tan with brown blinds. My mother always wanted green blinds. Maybe her home in Heaven will be just that or something much better. Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you.” So I know that she will have a mansion, somewhere. Now days, we see many houses of different colors, just as we dreamed them when I was small.
I know you are not fond of washing dishes, but strange as it may seem, I guess I always liked to wash them. But I had to clear the table, too, when I was real small or young, I should say, and I didn’t always like that. We had a big family, like you, and I remember one Sunday, I can’t really tell why I was punished, but I think it was something about the way I cleared the table or grumbled about it. Anyhow, we couldn’t talk back to our mother and we didn’t too often, but whatever I did that was wrong, I was sent to bed for two hours on a beautiful day. I just couldn’t sleep and the time dragged. I think it was two hours and I know it was awful for me when I was a child. I just couldn’t seem to sleep in the daytime. So, I learned that lesson and never had to be punished again like that. But my mother used to take us (one at a time, of course) if we had to be punished she took us way off by ourselves and gave us a good talking to. Oh, I thought so many times, if she would just give us a good licking instead and have it over with, I would greatly prefer that. But that didn’t happen. I’ve washed dishes ever since I was as old as Julie, about six, I guess. I recall so plainly taking a teaspoon and tasting of the rinsing water, to see what it tasted like. I surely should have known better, if I had been much older. You see, we didn’t have running hot and cold water. We got the water from the pump outside and heated it in a reservoir on the stove. Of course, we had one pan for washing and another for rinsing. The water wasn’t hot enough to burn me when I decided to taste of it. I can taste it now; just like warm slightly salty taste. Ha!
My mother was very patient with us and I know we must have been quite a trial, sometimes. I remember at the table, Charlie, DeWitt, Ben and I (the 4 youngest) probably got to talking too much and I remember her saying, “Children! Children, let’s see how much noise silence makes, or let your victuals stop your mouth.”
Mama was a great hand to sing when she was cooking. She had a very strong soprano voice and could sing so well on high notes. Even when I was upstairs I could hear her singing in the kitchen. Even when she was around 70 years of age, she sang solos in the church at Barnes Corners. I remember the minister was quite surprised one day when she sang high alto (an alto solo).
My father died just a few days after I was five years old. I was very sad and so after being told he had gone to Heaven, I remember I crawled down into a big wood box by the kitchen stove where Mama was getting dinner to eat. Finally, she saw me there and she said, “What are you doing in there?” I said, “I’m praying that God will take me up to Heaven so I can be with Papa.” Then she scolded me and said, “Don’t ever do that again. It’s bad enough to have him gone!” She had kept so cheerful before us that we didn’t think about how bad she felt. So, I never prayed again that I might be taken away.
Our house was situated on a small hill with quite a number of large maples at the foot of it, between our house and the main road. The trees were quite evenly spaced and were much enjoyed in hot summer days. Between two trees we had a nice swing where we spent happy hours. We also had a hammock between two trees. I remember one time, I was swinging with a neighbor girl and we were “pumping” we called it. Suddenly, the swing broke. Neither of us was hurt, but I don’t remember that I still was hanging onto the rope and that kept me from falling. I don’t remember if she fell or not.
Our front of the house had no porch, only a square top to 3 or 4 steps outside our front door. But on the whole east side was a long vine covered porch, covered only halfway with a wood vine. That made it nice and cool. This was on the side where there was one side of the dining room and kitchen. It made a nice place to sit and shell peas, or hull berries or pare potatoes. For when we pared potatoes, we pared a lot of them.
Beyond the kitchen door, the porch reached to the end where there was a door leading into the woodshed. We had a large woodshed. On one end was a landing where we stored our wash tub, wash bench (a large sturdy bench that held the wash tub and rinsing tub). We didn’t have a washing machine. We heated the water in a big brass boiler on the wood stove and boiled some of our white clothes in that, where we cut up some homemade soap and so got the first batch without scrubbing on a board. We used what we called a “pounder”, a couple tin cup-like things attached to a handle, and so we pounded the first batch or so, mostly sheets and pillow cases. Then we had to turn the wringer, which was screwed down to the tub and get them into the rinse water. Unless we had two wringers, which we were not apt to have, we had to change the wringer from the hot water tub and screw it onto the big tub of cold rinsing water. So, you see, we had to begin our washing early and it would take hours to get it done. We also kept the boiler and old boots and the lantern and the kerosene can and other things out here in this woodshed. Nellie and I and I guess some of the rest, were on some loose boards, lying across some of the rafters, high above the blocks of wood in the woodshed. The sides were all boarded up, except on the north side where the platform was. From there, we got wood to carry into the kitchen. On the west, we climbed up and over onto the boards, just for something to do, I suppose. It was an adventure, but I got on the end of a loose board and came sailing down near the place where heavy blocks and the axe were apt to be. Of course, everyone was scared, I guess, I didn’t have time to be. I couldn’t have been more than eight years old. Well, I stayed on the board and never got a scratch, but I don’t remember any of us climbing up there again.
Once, when I was quite young, my sister had me take hold of the handle of the frying pan to keep it a little off the hot stove. She had been frying pork and the hot grease was in it. I suppose it snapped just enough so a splatter of the hot grease hit my hand and I jerked the pan and tipped a good stream of it down my bare leg and foot. I don’t think Mama blamed anyone, but made the best of it. Whoever left me holding the pan was very sorry and Mama had me lie in the hammock under the trees after she carefully did up my burns. Another time, it was in the winter and I was helping with supper. I remember I had woolen stockings on, and we had a contraption we fastened over the cover when we wanted to drain potatoes or vegetables. It really was very handy. I didn’t get it over the kettle just right and over the cover, so it slipped as I tipped it to drain them and the boiling hot water poured over my woolen stockings and foot. Of course, the wool kept the heat in and by the time I got my stockings ready to pull off, it had cooked my leg, so some of the skin came off, too. I had to miss some school while that was healing.
I remember while I was out of school and it was healing, I used to sweep the kitchen floor for Mama with my knee in a chair. My foot was burned the worst, so I couldn’t walk on it and I wanted to help what I could. It made her very happy to see me try to help out, for I heard her telling someone about it. We had no carpet sweeper or vacuum cleaner and our kitchen and dining room floors were bare. I don’t believe linoleum had been manufactured 70 years ago. At least I don’t remember seeing any on anyone’s floor. Grandma Newton always had her floor in the kitchen, and I think in the pantry, painted. I remember the kitchen was always painted a deep orange color and I believe the pantry was gray.
Our kitchen was very large and the floor never painted. It was soft wood and that made it hard to mop, but it had to be mopped at least every Saturday, and swept everyday. We had a dining room off from the kitchen about the size of your kitchen.
Grandpa Newton was a carpenter and he did many nice things for our house. In fact, I believe he had the most to do about building our house. We had big kitchen cupboards, much like those in Aunt Lora’s kitchen, built into one side of the dining room, with lower cupboards for storing food. A refrigerator wasn’t known about then, but some people had ice-boxes. They held chunks of ice in the top and a cupboard for food below. Aunt Ell had one, at one time, but we never did. We had a tall screened cupboard in a very nice big cellar and many things were kept there. Our butter we kept in a jar, covered on the cellar bottom. Our cellar was underneath much of the house. That helped to keep the house warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
We had big boxes of potatoes we raised and my father would get several bushels of different kinds of apples in the fall and spread them out on swing shelves in our cellar, too.
I’ve described the kitchen; now let’s go through it to the west into a big living room. In there we find an organ, where Mama played chords to any song we wanted to sing. We used to spend many happy times all or part of us singing around the organ in the evening.
In the summer time, we sometimes sat on the knoll that our house was situated on and our next door neighbors, the Lesons, would sit with us and we would sing for the fun of singing. I remember in particular singing, “When the roll is called up yonder.” They were Catholics, but they sang the hymns with us and enjoyed it. We used to go to the Catholic picnic each summer. And Catholic children learned pieces to speak at our church, I believe, nearly always for the Children’s Day Program.
In my letter to Dale, I mentioned going to school at New Boston. That school was composed almost entirely of Catholics. I never knew why they ran it through the summer, maybe they had it then and no school in the winter months. I didn’t know, but I think they did.
When I stayed with Grandma and went to school to New Boston that summer, I wanted to go home every Saturday. Grandma didn’t like that. I heard her tell Mama, “When she could do something for me, she wants to go home.” She scrubbed my clothes on a wash board and one day, she was scrubbing hard and she stopped suddenly and said, “Confound that pin.” She looked pretty upset and I guess it really hurt to scrub right onto a sharp pin. I was scared, but she didn’t scold me. She never did. I did what she asked of me, or tried to. Gathered eggs all over the hay mow. Stirred up corn meal and water and fed baby chickens and went berrying with her. Once, she forgot she had sent me down cellar after butter; it took me quite a while and when I got up, she and Grandpa were talking about me. She had asked him to call me and thinking I was upstairs, when I said, “I’m getting the butter.”, he told Grandma I said, “I’m getting a puzzle.”, but everything was okay when I came with the butter. Another time, Grandma asked me to go to the garden and pull up a hill of onions for her. I thought, “A hill of onions must be the same as a row!” So, I started pulling. After a few onions, I thought something was wrong. She just couldn’t want a whole row. So, I took her what I had and told her I didn’t think she would want a whole row. I guess she just laughed, but she explained the difference, no doubt.
Grandma made the loveliest sugar cookies I ever ate. I know she must have put butter and sour cream and eggs in them. Then she rolled them, cut with a great big scalloped cookie cutter and she had an abundance of granulated sugar sprinkled on them. She put up a lunch for school and I carried it in a tin pail, and her home made bread was delicious anyway, but she put plenty of butter on and sprinkled sugar between the slices. So, there were many happy thoughts about Grandma Newton. I thought Grandpa was just “tops”. Grandma punished him sometimes, like he was her little boy and I felt awful sorry for him.
One summer evening, she saw him way down near the pasture where the cows were stanchened, take his milk stool and hit the cow to make her get around for him. After he had milked and brought it to the house, she told him she saw him and did he hit the cow. Grandpa said, “Yes, I know I shouldn’t.” He was quick tempered. Grandma said, “Well, you can’t eat in here with us, you shall eat bread and milk and sit on the porch!” Grandpa (meek as Moses) took his bread and milk and sat out there alone, while I would liked to have sat with him, but didn’t dare to. They never seemed to quarrel, but I do remember one time when Grandpa tried to make someone understand the name of a person and I can see him now (I even remember the name, such a funny one). Grandpa stuck out his chin, head high and long gray whiskers sticking out and he shouted, “I tell you his name is Skinner.” I guess we all remember that, and I had to laugh.
Sunshine and Shadows
Happy birds singing to their little ones near by,
Fleecy clouds sailing against an azure sky;
Garden growing, daily, to help the food supply;
Gay flowers, --scent and color
Attract the butterfly.
Song of birds and sunshine, bright days or gray;
Children’s voices singing in happy fun to play.
Bright scenes of summer, on a hot July day,
How easy it is to wish things might always be this way.
But it takes some unpleasant things
To appreciate the good,
And extreme heat of summer
To enjoy the cold as we should.
It takes some heavy trials
To appreciate God’s love,
And to feel His tender guidance
As He watches from above.
Those hands that often healed the sick.
And touched the fevered brow,-
That stretching o’er the rolling sea
Brought quietness, somehow;
Dear hands that blessed small children,
And restored the widow’s son,
And when 5000 hungered,
He fed them---everyone.
Those hands that healed the leper,
And brought healing to the mind,
Those hands, so full of kindness
Brought sunshine everywhere;
Touched the weary traveler,
And eased the load of care.
The hands of our blessed Savior
Were pierced by cruel men
Who nailed them to a rugged cross,
He suffered thus, and paid the cost
That we might live, again.
We cannot understand, oft times
Why dear ones have to leave
And hearts, now sad and lonely,
Are left behind to grieve;
But this, no one is wise enough
The reason why, to tell
We know, with deep assurance;
“God doeth all things well.”
We were just two kids, Charlie and I.
Lost in the wood, but we would not cry.
We did not cry and we did not shout,
Determined that we would find the way out.
So we traveled around and around and then
Came right back to the same place, again
But our childish prayers
Finally reached the Throne,
When we saw the old sugar-house
We soon rushed home.
If We had Known
If we had known the little bit
That it would take to cheer,
To build, again, the confidence,
Or drive away the fear.
And fill the heart with happiness,
And dry the falling tears—
If we had dreamed the little things
That cost so small to do.
Would pay so high in dividends
And bring so much wealth, too,
I’m sure we’d never hesitate,
That loving word to say,
Or write a word, or kindly smile
On some loved one, today.
-written in 1943
When the day is dark,
And the problems tough,
And every upward path seems rough
There’s always One who has been there, too
And He’s waiting your waving strength to renew, ‘tis Jesus.
As near as your breath,-
As close as the air;
Seek, and you’ll find Him, anywhere;
Ready to help when others fail,
Though problems be many, and trouble, prevail; (our Jesus)
Oh what would we do
If we could not go
For help, from One, who loves us so!
This gentle, loving, faithful Friend,
Who has never failed from beginning to end, This Jesus.
Someone suffered that I might live,
And took my sins away.
Someone was willing His life to give,
That I might live always.
Someone was cruelly treated for me,
Carried my sins to Mt. Calvary
Died on the cross to set me free,
Jesus, the Son of God.
Someone carried His cross for me,
And fell beneath the load,
Bore all my sins at Calvary,-
Traveled that lonely road.
Jesus who loves us so tenderly
Wants us to yield to Him,
Patiently waits as we make our choice,
Will you not turn from sin?
Someone was cruelly treated, you see
Bore all this pain for you and me,
Died on the cross to set us free,-
Jesus, our wonderful Lord.
Thankful for sunny days, so bright,-
Thankful for the moon that shines, at night.
Thankful for every twinkling star,
Shining upon us from afar.
Thankful for friends and clothes and food,
And our many blessings, so fine and good.
Thankful for a church where God’s spirit is felt,
And for the altar where we’ve often knelt.
Thankful for one who brings God’s word,-
To a listening crowd (Sunday morning ‘tis heard)
Thankful for the Holy Spirit Divine,
That dwells within this heart of mine.
And I am as thankful, as I can be,
To know God cares and loves even me
Jesus, My Wonderful Lord
Out of the darkness of sin and shame,
Into the light of His wonderful name.
Seeking forgiveness, in sorrow, I came,
To Jesus, my wonderful Lord.
There at His feet, my burden, I laid,
Knowing His blood for me had been shed;
Oh what a sum, for my soul, He had paid!
Jesus, my wonderful Lord.
Daily, I find, He is near me to bless,
Ready to make my day a success,
Reading His word, I find a caress,
From Jesus, my wonderful Lord.
“Where have you laid him?” she queried,
As she peered within the tomb,
She felt such loneliness and grief,-
Her heart was filled with gloom;
With eyes now filled with tears,
Thinking the gardener near
She was asking Him about her Lord,
And would He tell her where,
He had laid her Master
That she might find Him there.
But Jesus knew her sorrow, He saw the tear-drops start,
Then spoke just one spoke just one word; “Mary,”
Bringing gladness to her heart.
“Mary,” the word was spoken,
In accents clear and sweet.
“Raboni,” in joy she answered,
And in worship, fell at His feet.
“Do not touch me,” He spoke gently,
“I’ve a mission to perform;
I must ascend first to my Father,
On this early Easter morn.”
With joy she sought the Disciples,
To bring them the wonderful word;
“He whom we love, has arisen!
Jesus, our Savior and Lord!”
I stood beneath the canopy
Of God’s great dome, above;
I thought of His boundless mercy,
And the depth of His wondrous love.
The stars gleamed in matchless beauty,
The moon shone, a softening light;
God’s love and power swept o’er me,
I felt His strength, and might.
I heard the hum of insects,
And the cry of a waking child,
As I drank in the quiet beauty,
And down in my heart, I smile.
For there in the pale, pale moonlight,
My Savior stood with me,
And I dreamed of that beautiful city,
Where, someday, I hope to be.
The Gift of Salvation-
Sweet are the truths of our wonderful Lord,
I find revealed in His Holy Word.
The greatest truth in His Word, I see,
How Jesus suffered and died for me.
How He bore all our sins, so freely, too;
There is nothing left for us to do,
But to truly repent, and firmly believe,
And the gift of salvation we may receive.
There’s nothing to lose, and volumes to gain,
As His Word has proven, again and again;
So I beg you to read it,
That you too, shall see,
The gift of salvation
Is joyful and free.
Let Him Lead You
Did you kneel down at your bed-side
E’re you left your room, today?
Did you stop to thank the Savior?
Did you take the time to pray?
Did you pause for just a moment,
E’er the day was filled with work
Asking God’s own hand to guide you,
That you might no duties shirk?
What a joy to know He’s guiding
When you let the Lord control!
Then you know what e’er befall you,
He’s the anchor of your soul.
If you start the day with Jesus,
He’ll be with you through the day
If you’ll hourly let Him lead you,
You need never lose your way.-
From Darkness to Light
Where does the darkness go to
When night is turned to day?
How can the sudden flow of light
Drive all the clouds away?
Such questions we can’t answer,
Although we know it’s true;
Each day we see it happen,
That’s clear to me and you.—
How can the light of Heaven
Enter a darkened soul?
When sins are once forgiven,
And a sinner is made whole?
Again no one can answer,
And yet the one who’s come,
To Jesus for Salvation
Through God’s beloved Son,
In true repentance seeking
The Truth, the Life, the Way
Finds his darkened life is brightened
And his darkness turned to day.
How can we measure God’s wonderful love?
It’s something we never can do.
His love is beyond understanding,
This love for me and you.
It is seen, as the warm rain gently falls,
On the long-hidden seeds in the sod;
Bringing life again, to wood and fern,
In flowers that bloom and nod.
It is seen in the great blue dome, above,
With its rosy streaks at dawn,
Or the sunset, rosy and golden
And purple as the day is done.
His love can be seen in His Children,
In a cheery word or smile,
Helping when most sorely needed,
His troubled one, to beguile.
But greater than all these minor things
Greater, much greater, ‘tis true,
Is the love of God, who sent His Son,
To die for me and you.
E’er I fell asleep, that evening
Tenderly, I breathed this prayer;
“Dear Jesus, I am yours to follow,
Where you lead me, any where.”
Then I fell asleep, and somehow
I saw Him not so far away,-
In our house, I saw Him standing,
But it seemed He could not stay.
How I longed to get near to Him,-
Lay my head against His breast!
Instantly, my prayer was answered,
And my soul had perfect rest.
Oh the joy that filled my soul, then!
Oh what love I felt for Him!
Though He just as soon, departed,
May the vision n’er grow dim.
-All poems written by Lucy Samantha Voss