Favorite Oviatt Stories

FAVORITE FAMILY STORIES

TO OUR PARENTS, AUNTS AND UNCLES

When we were small, we took things in our stride

Good times simply meant you all were there

With lots of cousins to share our secrets with.

As teenagers we sometimes had our doubts

Why did everybody know our business too?

And worse yet have opinions on the case?

But grudgingly we still had to admit

The good times were still best when shared with you

And when the times were bad, you saw us through.

Well, now we’re having children of our own

We look back on our past and shake our heads.

You suffered through with us and I suppose

We too must suffer sleepless nights in bed –

But we’ve your footsteps, filled with love, to tread!

EDITOR’S NOTE:

We’re so excited to finally have these memoirs down on paper.

As much as possible we have retained the words of the storyteller because we think it’s more fun that way.  We reserve the right to hide in the bathroom if we have gotten anything wrong.

Our thanks to everyone who submitted stories

Illustrated by Gayle Rice & Bruce Duff

Compiled and edited by Jocelyn Lee & Doris Wood

INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF PARLEY OVIATT

Parley Oviatt was born in Farmington, Utah, August 31, 1877. He was the sixth child in a family of 10 children.  His parents — Dee Oviatt and Josephine Workman — were pioneers who had crossed the plains, married and settled in Farmington, Utah.

SHOEING THE OXEN

Parley’s father was a blacksmith and had a shop in Farmington.  No doubt he was very busy and often the young boys in the family had to help pump the bellows to keep the fire going and the coals hot.  Among the regular jobs a blacksmith had to do was one that ParI thought was great fun to watch.  It was shoeing the oxen. In front of the shop was a hoist made out of logs and canvas.  This “oxen stock” was much like a four-poster bed.  The oxen stood in the middle and a great big strap went under their belly to lift them up for the shoeing process, for oxen cannot balance on three feet like a horse.  Alongside this frame was a “windlass” — a thing shaped like a ship’s wheel, which was cranked to raise the bellyband and thus lift the oxen off the ground.  The oxen shoes were shoes quite different from the horseshoes.  Oxen have cleft feet and so their shoes were shaped like two small crescents for each hoof.

FARMINGTON THEN!

If you visited Farmington, Utah today, you could still see many old rock and brick buildings that would have been used when Parley was a young boy.  The old church where they probably went to Primary in — the one in which Aurelia S. Rogers organized the Primary just two years after Parl was born.  There is even an old flourmill, which is now a restaurant.  Parl’s parent’s home was made of brick and rock and had five rooms.  It was built in a side hill with a basement under part of the house.  In the corner of the basement was a natural spring and water was piped to the barn that was built further down the hill.

MAKING THE BEST OF THINGS

Parl’s father never whipped the boys very often, but found other ways to punish them.  Uncle Jack (Parl’s younger brother) recalls two specific times they were punished,

“Our basement was on, of my first recollections because me and my brother Parley, were locked up in it one day as punishment.  After plugging up the pipe where the water ran out with mother’s dirty clothes, we found her wooden tub and went sailing around.  I remember another day being locked in the granary with my brother Parley. This time we found some sleigh bells, strapped them around us and we had a wonderful time playing horse.”

RUNAWAYS

Parl’s parents died when he was small, his mother died about six months before his father.  His mother died from a scald or burn and his father died from “inflammation of the bowels”.  With their parents gone, the children were scattered among relatives to be taken care of.  Parley and Jack were taken to San Pete, Utah to live with one, of their father’s brothers, Uncle Henry Oviatt and then to live with a cousin, Delbert Oviatt, uncle Henry’s son.

While living here, Parley and Uncle Jack decided to run away and return to Farmington.  In Uncle Jack’s words,

“. ..along with the help of an older boy, whose father had a store, we provisioned ourselves with a pair of blankets, two loaves of bread and a bit of money.  A short distance from town we found a gentle team of horses, used our suspenders for ropes, climbed on the horses and rode them for about 15 miles, then turned them loose and walked into Price, Utah, a freighting station at that time.  Here we found some men around a campfire.  We joined them, and then when they had retired we crawled into a secluded spot and rolled up in our blankets.  Next morning we ate the remaining loaf of bread for our breakfast.  The other boys wanted to crawl into a boxcar and go on the train, but I rebelled, so we walked along the railway tracks the second day.  That night we found a place to sleep some bushes.  We had used our money to buy some bread and meat.  The third day we continued our walk.  In the evening, we saw a lighted house.  We were so tired and hungry that we went to it and asked for lodging.  This man owned a sheep ranch.  They took us in giving us supper and a bed.  I do not remember what we had for supper, but I do remember how glad I was to get to sleep in a good bed.  Next morning, the man told us that the sheriff had been there looking for us so we had better go home.  The lady made us a good lunch and gave us another blanket.  The merchant’s boy and I went home again, but Parley stayed and was hired to help with the sheep.  Here he lived for two years.  I guess I just sneaked in home because no one seemed to have missed me.  I was not punished.”

Thanks to the Mary and Jack Oviatt Family and their children for sharing their family history with us and giving us these insights into the early life of Parley Oviatt.  The research on Shoeing the Oxen was done by Catherine Oviatt Hudson (January 11, 1928) at the Provincial Museum Archives. Edmonton. Alberta.  Much of the text, including the incidents told in Uncle Jack’s words come, from “The Life Story of John Frederick Oviatt, Our Memories” by Mary and Jack Oviatt. Christmas 1957.

LOOKING BACK

stories recorded by Stella, Mattie & Lillian

FIRE IN THE KITCHEN

Whenever Mom and Dad went into town shopping or to Relief Society or anywhere they had about eight children they had to leave at home and of course, the older ones were supposed to take care of the younger ones.  They went to town one day and left Ralph and Dee — I can’t remember Leland being there — but there was Mattie and me (Stella) and Lillian who was the baby then.  Now if they were gone very long we had a hard time thinking of things to do to keep us interested.  Some of us would go out and jump off the coal shed, others would climb on the hill and come down on the wheels from the buggy.  You had to perch on the axel with the two wheels and that was a really hard thing to do.  Sometimes you would go around with the wheels underneath.  We were doing that one time and we saw smoke coming out of the kitchen.  We all ran back, Ralph leading all of us.  Dee wasn’t with us.  He had stayed in the house.

Ralph called to Dee, “What are you doing Dee?”  And Dee replied, “Oh I just started a little fire here.”  Looking up we saw flames all up one side of where the little wood box was in the kitchen.  He had taken a little piece of paper and put it up under the grate and when it wouldn’t go out, he decided to throw it in the wood box.  It had set the whole wood box on fire!

Lillian was the baby and she was sitting in a high chair not far from the wood box and all around her were flames. We ran in, never thinking to take her out.  We started screaming and crying.  Mom and Dad were coming up the road by Smiths, which was almost straight east.  They saw the flames coming out of the kitchen.  They whipped the horses up and sure came flying!  Other neighbors had seen the fire and they came dashing over on horseback and in buggies.

Someone said, “Why didn’t you take Lillian out?” All we could say was “We didn’t know what to do!”

They were climbing on the roof and pouring water down and taking axes and breaking into the roof to get the fire that was in between.  I remember them trying to pump the water faster, and you could only pump it so fast.  They used all the water in the trough, and finally got it out.  When we stopped to check how badly burned Lillian was, there was just a little tiny scorch up the back of her nightgown.  How she was ever saved, I’ll never know. (Stella)

THE VISITOR

We were living on the farm east of Stavely in the 191O’s and 2O’s.  It was really an exciting time.  I don’t think times are as exciting now as they were then because there were always visits from Buffalo Bill and wandering cowboys and tramps.  My Mother and Dad never turned anyone away from the door.  It didn’t matter what they wore or what they looked like, if they were hungry, they were fed.

One time a man came to the door and Mom and Dad fed him along with their own 12 children.  In a big family like that you doled out your dishes of dessert evenly.  The day this man came, I (Stella) had been sent from the table.  Mother was very, very careful about our manners.  If we didn’t say please and thank you, or if we talked out of turn, we were sent from the table.  And I got sent from the table without my rice pudding!

Meanwhile the tramp came along and Mom and Dad fed him and they gave him my rice pudding.  And it had raisins in it too.  He ate and then he thanked Mom and Dad and left.  We ran outside to see which way he had gone and he was nowhere in sight.  And of course, in level country like that you could see people coming and going for miles.  There was always a lot of speculation that maybe he was one of the Three Nephites who had come to pay us a visit.

DONNA AND THE INDIANS

On Sunday afternoons we would go down in our Democrat — all of us piled into it to see the Indians, who would have kind of a rodeo on the flats near where we have our family reunion. The Indians would ride and boys would bicker for ponies.  The Indians would sing beautifully.  There were a lot of things to entertain us.  The little Indian children weren’t very modest and they would come and sit in the middle of the field and Mother would be so shocked because she was very prim.  (I remember I said I had a bellyache once and she made me go into the bedroom and stay until I learned to say stomachache because no lady would say belly.)

The Indians really liked the white people.  One Sunday we were down watching this rodeo in the flats near Willow Creek.  We were all sitting in the buggy up quite high and right beside a teepee.  An Indian lady came out and she had a tiny new baby.  We were all excited to see the little baby.  But we had a little baby too.  We had Donna and she was a pretty little thing, very white.

Dad said, “We’ll trade with you.”  The woman was delighted.  She grabbed Donna and went into the teepee.  Mother and the kids all started crying.  We thought we’d never get the baby back.  All the little girls were crying, “We want our baby sister back!”  Dad went into the teepee and said that we really didn’t want to trade.  We wanted to keep our baby.  On his return, we all settled down.  Donna must have had a keen memory about that because she was always afraid, after that, of anyone with a big hat that resembled the Indians.

THE GYPSIES

Sunday was a real quiet time for us. Dad and Mom had a lot of church books with stories about the pioneers.  We really enjoyed them. We were expected to read and not carouse around on Sunday. Although we did go to those rodeos.  Lillian says, however, that the rodeos weren’t on Sunday, but that on Sunday we used to go to hear the Indians sing as they stopped over on their way back from the Calgary Stampede. They didn’t believe in traveling on Sunday.

Some Sundays the Gypsies who traveled around the country then would stop in and ask Mom and Dad for milk.  They would always try to tell our fortunes.  They would tell Mom to go and get a real clear glass of water.  She always had to put a silver piece in the bottom and cover it with a linen handkerchief.  Then the gypsy would look through it and say, “Now you all must be very quiet so I can concentrate.”  She would pretend to tell our fortunes.

Meanwhile their children would be in the chicken coop.  We’d hear a noisy fluttering out there. When Dad smartened up, he realized they were stealing chickens and stuffing them in their gunnysacks.  Dad would always give them one or two anyway.

I remember talking with Mom about whether they really could tell fortunes, and she said “I think they can because my aunt used to tell us kids to write notes to each other and fold them very small, and then she’d hold them up against our foreheads and she could read every line that was on them.  If the pioneers lost their horses or their cows, she would take a glass of water and look through it and she could tell where they were.  I think that was Aunt Turey (Keturah), she spoke of.  Aunt Turey also smoked a pipe!

GRANDMA SIMPSON

I (Lillian) remember Grandma Simpson coming.  I always thought Grandma was so cranky and I hoped that I’d never be a cranky old grandma like she was.  But it was always exciting when she came. And she always made sure we had such good manners.  Well, when you get twelve children around a table you can imagine what kind of manners you have.  Especially when there was only one serving of everything for everyone.  I remember she used to always get a second serving and she would reach for it and say, “Excuse an old lady for reaching.”

One day I wanted a second serving of rice and so I stood up and said, “Excuse an old lady for reaching.” I sure got slapped for that and all the kids sure laughed!

UNCLE FRANK

It was always fun, too, to have Dad’s relatives come. That was Uncle Frank — Aunt Lucy had died — and there were two boys and one girl, Little Frank, Joel and Josephine.  We used to climb on Little Frank’s knee and thought we were feeding him paper. He’d always pretend to have a mouthful of paper and swallow it, while he really had it hidden somewhere behind.  We thought he was the most wonderful person in the world because he could eat paper.

He taught us how to spell ‘woodpecker’. WE – E – O – EDDLY – WOOD – C – E – OCK – EEDLY – PECK – ECK – OCKER.  We thought he was so funny. We just loved him.  (Lillian)

AN EVENING TALE

It was a lot different when we were growing up on the farm because we didn’t have a T.V. or radio to entertain us.  But the older folks would sit around and talk late into the night and tell things that had happened to them. I (Stella) remember Dad telling a story about when he and Uncle Frank went out hunting for moose. They would go out in the Fall to get meat and bring it home and dress it. I remember their dream was to get a moose with a nice hide to make a real nice rug for the floor. Mom wasn’t too fussy about that. She didn’t like the wild meat, too much, but Dad and Uncle Frank used to go back on the Livingstone range to hunt for moose.

One Fall they went back and a big storm came up and they had to seek shelter. Dad remembered there was a cabin back there. I think they called it Streeters cabin.  He and Uncle Frank went back to this cabin and bedded down for the night.  The door had been broken off so they leaned the door against the opening and crawled into two bunk beds that were built with a partition just big enough for the beds.  On the other side of the partition was a huge stone fireplace. Uncle Frank slept on the inside of the bed and Dad on the front.

They were pretty tired and it was cold and blizzarding out.  In the middle of the night Dad heard music.  He thought that was strange.  There was no way to have music in a cabin so far from civilization.  He saw a funny light so he looked around the partition and there in front of the fireplace was a woman with her three children playing their violins.  He was spellbound because they played and then they put their violins in the cases and turned around, lifted the door off the opening and went out.  Then they put the door back just as he and Uncle Frank had left it.  Dad shook himself, thinking it was a dream and tried to sleep, but the same thing happened two more times.  Finally Dad woke Uncle Frank and told him he wouldn’t stay in the cabin any longer.  The storm had subsided somewhat so they headed back down the trail.  On the way they met the ranger who commented on the storm and asked them where they had stayed the night.  Dad described the cabin and the ranger said that the previous forest ranger had lived in that cabin.  Then he told them this story:

“The previous ranger stayed there one winter with his wife and three children.  But they ran out of supplies and he had to go into MacLeod to get them leaving his wife and children there.  While he was gone a snow slide occurred which completely covered the cabin.  It was so deep they couldn’t dig it out.  They had to wait until spring.  When the thaw came, he went up to find the bodies.  He found them around the fireplace with their musical instruments in their hands.  They had suffocated but the mother had kept them playing their violins until the last breath had gone from them and they died around the fireplace.”

PROTECTED FOR A PURPOSE

Mom and Dad made quite a few trips by covered wagon from their home places in the States up to Southern Alberta.  One time they came up and mother was expecting one of the children. They were bringing up a cow that was tied behind the wagon and there was a heavy, heavy rain.

Although they didn’t have much money, Dad thought that because of Mother’s condition they should spend the night in a hotel. So they tied their horses and cow to the wagon up on a hill and went down into the town of Butte, Montana to find a hotel.

Now Dad’s father and mother died when he was quite young, and from what I (Stella) remember him saying, he was shuttled around between his aunts. But one of his aunts — I’m not sure which one it was — had more or less fostered him. I think he had a special feeling for her and she for him because he was a little orphan boy.

Anyway, Mom and Dad went to bed in the hotel and in the night this aunt who had died quite a few years before appeared to him and said, “ParI, take your wife and leave the hotel.” Dad thought he was just over-tired and was imagining things. But she came three times in the night.  Finally he got up and woke Mother. Mother was so skeptical and said she thought he was just tired, and she really didn’t want to go out in the rain and cold. You can imagine how frustrating it would be to leave the warm hotel and climb back up the hill to crawl into clammy bed sheets, but they did. They got up and wandered back up the lane to where their wagon was and they got into bed. In the morning when they got up and looked down to where the hotel was, it had burned to the ground.

So their lives were spared. I suppose the Lord knew they were going to have a big family with lots of descendants, and he would need Mom and Dad to bring them into the world.

BOYS WILL BE BOYS

Stella’s Reflections of her Brothers
(Henry Kenneth Oviatt, Ralph Floyd Oviatt, Lester Leland Oviatt)

LIFE ON THE FARM

The little farm house where most of the Oviatt children were born, stands out very clearly in my mind and even now, as I go past it on the frequent excursions we make to Willow Creek Provincial Park, I fancy I can hear the excited shouts as one or the other of my brothers came down the hill on the two front wheels and axle of the two seater buggy.  We girls looked on in awe at their daring.  That hill really looked huge but as I see it now, it looks little more than a slight rise in the field.

The house itself was a typical homestead, though we had only two small bedrooms, we did have a dining room.  Real luxury for a farm home at that time.  Can you imagine 12 children and the mom and dad bedding down in comfort in such small quarters? The baby usually slept with Mom and Dad.  Six girls, three at the top and three at the bottom on the davenport in the, living room and five, boys in bunk beds in the 6’ x 8’ bedroom.  What ever else such cramped quarters offered we were at least warm. Often too much so.  There came a season when the school teacher boarded with us. An impossibility you might say for even one more to squeeze in.  However, by that time, my Dad had moved a small building from a farm across the way that, after Mother scrubbed it from top to toe with lye water, became the bunkhouse where the boys slept.  The beds were not much more than shelves on which were laid straw ticks made of flour bags.  It was the younger children’s job to tote it out to the field and replace the straw once a month.

Then Fredrick Ethelbert Louis Priestley moved in.  The novelty was too great for the kids and the poor man was harassed beyond reason, the younger ones banging on his window when he tried to study and the older ones planning some hanky-panky to befuddle a green English boy not more than 18- 19 years old. He was a brilliant young chap.  (I have learned since that he has written and published a number of books.)

Ralph decided it was time to introduce F.E.L.P. (as we called him) to a trip “snipe hunting” and so Leland and Kenneth and some local boys got Mr. Priestley all rigged up to go.

First he was put on a horse and given a good size grain bag.   Then they stationed him at one dark corner of the field beside a small slough.  The boys told him to tie his horse some 300 yards away and crouch down holding the bag open while they went around the lake and chased the snipes around into the bag.  The plan was to slip back and get his horse and go home leaving him afoot to stand guard in anticipation all night.  In spite of the fact that it was edging on to daylight (around 4”30 a.m.) before he wisened up and hiked home to find the boys home and asleep I can’t remember him ever becoming angry.  Even when the boys switched his horse for a really stubborn work horse who unless you had a strong hold on the bridle would turn and bolt into the barn knocking you off.  That was “Old Nuts” called that because he was seemingly very stupid.

There was no end to the tricks the boys played on this greenhorn from England but whether he got his money’s worth boarding at $15 per month would be a mystery.  He only stayed the one term and then went on to the next neighbor to board.

A SATURDAY AFTERNOON ON THE FARM

As Kenneth, Ralph and Leland got older. They scouted the hills and mountains west of us for wild horses.  These horses were theirs if they had no brands on them and many an exciting Saturday afternoon was spent breaking them for domestic use.  Some not so easily trained were sold to the local rodeo organizers to be used for exhibition wild horse breaking.

Others they would trade to the Nomadic Indians and it was a real competition seeing who would get the better of whom.  Often the Indians would try to pawn a lame horse off and there would be quite a hassle.

Many of these wild horse’ had been abandoned by homesteaders who left to go coal mining around Lethbridge and Blairmore.

Now the girls in the family were not to be outdone by the bronco breaking of their brothers.  So it was that one afternoon Lillian and Lou and Dolena decided to practice their riding skills by riding the pigs.  At one such time, Lou had managed to stay on across the pigpen only to end up in the swill trough when the pig decided to go under the fence and get away.

DEE’S DILEMMAS

(Dee Albert Oviatt)

MOONLIGHT ESCAPADES

Mom and Dad went away once.  Kenneth, Ralph and Leland were away also. Stella and Parley and I thought it would be fun to get up and milk the cow, at 3 o’clock in the morning.  It was a beautiful moonlight night.  We wondered why we didn’t get very much milk.  We gave the chickens too much wheat and they stopped laying.

A GIFT FOR THE TEACHER

Some of us boys went to school early one day. We thought we would playa joke on our teacher. We put 2 live mice under the bell. When she picked up the bell and saw the mice she was very upset.  When she found out who did it she kept us in for 2 weeks and she made us write sentences on the blackboard.

STELLA’S STORIES

(Stella Maude Oviatt)

CONFERENCE AT PINE COULEE WARD

I don’t think my folks ever missed Sunday School or Sacrament. I can never remember them staying home, winter or summer.  If no horses were available, we walked the mile and a half in rain, shine or snow.

How my mother ever kept all of her family in neat starched dress and white shirts I could never figure out and when Easter comes I really find myself amazed when I think how we all had new Easter bonnets. I remember the last one I had at Pine Coulee.  It was a beautiful white panama.  Around the crown was a 1 inch wide black velvet ribbon that hung down my back and fluttered in the wind.  On the front, sewn to the ribbon was a tiny little nosegay of flowers.  How proud I was of it.  We took really good care of our hats.  They were all stacked in a flour bag on mother’s shelf along with the two layers of wedding cake, long since dried and hard (and which we often climbed on the foot of mom’s bedstead and broke off a piece of it to chew on for hours). This was a stolen treat because mom would never have let us have it; it was so old and stale.

When conference time came, we would all get dressed up with our Easter hats on, and bowls of baked beans, fried chicken and potato salad stored in under the buggy seats and off we’d all go.  Our stake visitors traveled from Cardston (we were in the Alberta Stake then) all the way up to Stavely, Pine Coulee, by horse and buggy. That was a long drive and made a long day, but as soon as the reports and conference was over, the long tables were set up with all kinds of food.  Sister Lucas’s chocolate cake was the most sought after treat and big bowls of jell-o with whipped cream were such a rare delight.

President Hugh Brown, Brother Cahoon, Brother Jacobs, and President Wood were visitors at times.  How well I remember the stories Brother Brown used to tell when it was his turn to talk to us.  After listening to Brother Nunham Stanford most of the year, Hugh B. Brown was a rare treat.  As I think now of Brother Stanford’s talks in Sacrament meetings, I often wonder if we younger children weren’t more terrorized by the vigorous and vehement way he spoke, by his pounding on the pulpit, than we were of the fire and damnation of which he preached (shouted).

But Brother Brown must have been blessed with the rare gift of speaking in parables because many of his stories which were so interesting then come back to me now and I find tucked into the phrases a timely lesson or a message encouraging me to try harder.  “The Little Train That Tho’t He Could and Did” was one of my favorites.  Through the years I often use some of his stories in trying to explain a particular point in a lesson. The one that has most often come to my mind is this one:

“Two friends were walking in the summer sunshine one afternoon. So engrossed were they in their conversation that before they realized it they had entered a field occupied by a very belligerent bull. He had seen them and wasted no time letting them know how much he objected to their intrusion.   Too late to get to the other side of the fence, one man climbed quickly up a tree, but his friend wasn’t so lucky and barely made it into a crevice in the hillside.  The bull snorted and pawed and glared at them and would lose interest and ignore them until the fellow in the hole kept bobbing his head up further antagonizing the bull.  The minutes dragged and the man in the tree spoke up in frustration. “Come on,” he said, “This is no time for games.  I am sure if you’d keep down in the cave out of sight this bull would soon tire of watching you and wander off.”

“Well, my friend,” he was told, “it’s all very well for you to talk.  You’re pretty comfortable up there where you are.  I am getting hungry and tired too, and would sure like to get home before dark, but you may as well know that there is a bear down this hole!”

In other words, you don’t judge people by appearances because you never know what is behind them to make them behave the way they do.

GROWING UP IN A BIG FAMILY

Everybody at school really thought we were funny because when the teacher played “God Save The King”, we would always sing “My Country ‘Tis of Thee”. Mother dearly loved the American songs and so she taught us the American anthem long before we ever realized we had a “King”.  Many times there would be tears in her eyes as she sang with us.  Idaho was a very long ways away when you thought of traveling by horse and buggy.

Also I remember telling my school chum I had to go buy a tablet for my mother, and then when I got and paid for a writing pad, she sure thought I was odd. Tablets were medicine.

Every fall mom would get a letter from Grandma Grover Simpson saying she was sending us some dried apples and apricots.  “You must go right down to the ‘depot’ and see if anything has arrived for us yet,” she would say.  So of course, we, Mattie and I, started out.  Where the ‘depot’ was we hadn’t the slightest idea.  Obviously the thing to do was ask someone, but no one had ever heard of it.  We would be asked what we needed to go there for.  After explaining that we were to pick up a parcel from our Grandma in the States, we would be directed to the train station or freight office.  Usually there would be two big cotton flour bags full of dried apples and/or apricots and a large cardboard carton too big for two little girls to carry so we’d have to go and get the older boys to bring the little wagon.

Needless to say, we would have treats of dried apples for weeks, which we ate by the handful –mmm –delicious!

Of course, the box would contain clothes and flour bags and shoes, which we girls would vie with each other to see who would get what. Being the oldest girl, most often I could have the shoes with high heels and pointed toes.  And I would squeeze my bigger feet into them even if they did hurt a lot.  I must have made quite a spectacle–a little scrawny girl of eight or nine, with straggly blonde hair and freckled face in shoes meant for a young woman of much more maturity, but I really thought I was something to behold.

It wouldn’t be long till we all had new pantywaists and panties made from the flour bags.  Sometimes the brand of flour was obvious in print on the seat of our pants.  The pants themselves were really something else again made with long stovepipe legs with elastic around the bottom and buttoned onto a vest.  Mother spent many hours teaching us to work the buttonholes.  You can imagine how embarrassing it was when a button came off at school and one side would drag way down below our knees.  Fortunately, our dresses were worn almost to our ankles.  The hard thing was to find the button that had come off, as they were really scarce.

THE PRAYER OF FIVE FRIGHTENED CHILDREN

Going to town to shop about 6-7 miles away, or to Relief Society often made it necessary for me as the oldest girl to watch the younger children. Sometimes the baby would fall asleep, then Mickey, Mattie, Lou, Dolena and I would go out to the farmyard and tease the old ram (sheep) so he would chase us but we would run and fall into the manger leaving him very frustrated.  When we tired of that we would climb on the coal shed and jump off the 6-8 foot roof.  We could see up the road to town from the top and watched for the bugging coming bring our folks home.  Once we forgot to check on the sleeping baby.  When we finally remembered and rushed in to see him, we found he had awakened and crawled from his single cot in the dining room to the kitchen.

He had pulled a pan of lye water down from the cupboard shelf and spilled it over himself.  Having been warned many times about how dangerous lye could be (our well water was very hard and so it was used a lot), we were really scared.

We decided to kneel down and pray that it wouldn’t hurt him (Parley Odell Oviatt).  So we carried him out into the yard and all of us knelt down and prayed that he would be all right.

He had no ill effects from the incident but we were so frightened we really watched him carefully after that.

A TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE ON THE FARM

I think one of the saddest experiences I had on the farm was butchering time.  Having such a small house, most of our waking time was spent outside when the weather permitted.  Hence we were very friendly to the animals around the farm.

When it came time to provide the family with fresh meat, we really used to worry about which animal would be the one.  It was many weeks before I could come to enjoy eating meat afterwards.

With most of the farm boys it was an exciting time because they would compete to see who would get the bladder for a football.  The girls, of course, didn’t bother because they had clothes pegs to play with.  Each one became a member of their play family, and we drew faces on them.  It didn’t matter to us that they had no arms or hair.  They were so exciting and beautiful.  I can’t remember when clothes ‘pegs’ went out and clothes ‘pins’ came in but it must have been a hard blow to those of us who enjoyed playing house with them.

HALLOWEEN

After the harvest was over the older boys in the family were hard-pressed to find activities in the small community of Pine Coulee for fun.  Occasionally one or the other of the neighbors would move the furniture out of one bedroom and there was always someone to play the violin while teenagers would dance and the older folks would play parlor games together in tl1e living room (parlor).  Arthur Hayes played sometimes.  When Halloween came Aunt Mary and Uncle Jack came over with their family and we younger ones would pop corn and play Hide and Seek, Run Sheep Run, and other outdoor games around the now empty fields with their haystacks, but the older boys who were fortunate enough to have a horse to ride went over the country side playing tricks on the farmer’s around.  It wasn’t unusual to find your buggy or wagon precariously perched on the top of a barn or school roof or your outhouses tipped over.

On one occasion, Kenneth, my older brother, and his friends roamed around and chanced on a group of horses pasturing not far from our farm.  They took their pocketknives and stripped the horses of all the hair off their tails.  October was most generally a pretty cold month and it was with a great deal of consternation that my dad learned the next morning of the episode and that many of the horses had had their tails frozen.

Of course, the farmers were pretty upset because the horses really suffered.  Although it was often necessary to shorten the length of their tails in the spring and it was a real race to see who could make the most money by acquiring grain bags full of the hair to sell it along with the accumulation of gopher tails (for which there was a whole nickel bounty paid).  They weren’t allowed to collect on this particular bag of horsehair though’ and had to pay some of their hard earned harvest wages to compensate.

And on the same Halloween night, Dee and his friends ran a herd of pigs in the schoolhouse to frighten the lady teacher when she appeared for school the next morning.  That was a real sorry episode because they were obliged to scrub the school down before school could open.

MATTIE’S MUSINGS
(Mattie Rose Oviatt)

I was born in Pine Coulee and was very spoiled by my Aunt Mary and Aunt Mattie.  Aunt Mary took me home with her quite often because by this time she only had boys — Clifford, Delmar and Conrad, then Lila, so I had pretty hair ribbons and lots of things my older sister didn’t.  Wouldn’t that make you upset too?

Our Dad died in June after he bought a home in Claresholm some 15 or 20 miles from our home at Pine Coulee.

Our life on the farm about 6 miles west of the small town of Stavely was filled with many good experiences.  Our grandmother Simpson sent boxes of dried apples and other things, also clothes to be made over for us from St. Anthony, Idaho. We sure had fun dressing up in these clothes before Mother got them made over.

MEMORIES OF FATHER

We were very fortunate to have good parents — lots of loving.  Our father always brought us something from town such as pencils which he cut up and sharpened, so we would each have one and erasers and crayons.  It kept him very busy keeping us in running shoes and plenty to eat.  In fall he’d buy apples, which came into town by the carload.  We had plenty of vegetables and meat and good substantial food.  Our Dad had a favorite rose patch up over the hill.  He would take us up there almost everyday and we’d carry water to put on them and always he’d pick a few to take to Mom.

NEIGHBORS AND FRIENDS

Quite often as children we would go down to Campbell’s’, a quarter mile west of the farm to play, with instructions to come home in a half or three-quarters of an hour.  One time Mrs. Campbell hadn’t her baking done yet.  She always had cookies for us.  When it was time to go home, my sister, Lillian said, “I’ll go home if you’ll give me some cookies.”  I couldn’t say Lillian so I always called her baby.  I was so embarrassed and told her I would tell Mom and she wouldn’t ever be able to come and play.  Mrs. Campbell hurried and got some in the oven and we went happily on our way.

SISTERS

In Claresholm we had a five-roomed house.  We girls – 7 of us – had to share a room.  We slept 3 at the top of each bed and we really had many fun times telling ghost stories and sharing each others clothes and troubles.  I guess that’s why we are all very concerned about each others welfare still.

BAKING BREAD

Mother also gave us many tasks, namely, I was to bake bread while she went to Calgary by train to visit Stella.  This was one of her few pleasures.  She told me to see that the break got baked.  I kept putting it off and didn’t start until night and left it to rise overnight.  Needless to say it was all over the table and floor come morning.

A TESTIMONY OF PRAYER

We girls used to get to go on the train, then miles to Stavely sometimes.  I once found a wristwatch under the seat ahead and was very thrilled as I had prayed so hard for one.  I cared for it very closely and told Mother.  She told me to take it to the Post Office and they would put a sign up and if no one claimed it, I could have it.  It must have been about a few days later when a lady came and claimed it and asked Mother what I wanted most.  Mother said that I had been saving for a watch.  She gave me exactly the amount I needed – seven dollars.  I got a watch, also an answer to my prayers.  Many, many times through being honest and prayerful I was compensated and I gained a strong testimony.  I never have doubted that the gospel is true for which I am indeed very grateful.  I thank my Father in Heaven every night for comforts of life and answers to my prayers.

MICKEY’S MEMORIES

(Lillian Josephine Oviatt)

MEMORIES OF HOME

I think we are some of the most fortunate people in that memories of our childhood are all pleasant – except the death of my father when I was 11.  But remembering him, I am reminded of a happy, affectionate and attentive father.  And mom, while not having much time for affection and personal attentiveness, what with 12 children and a husband to care for, was a meticulous housekeeper – considering what she had and a miracle worker to provide food for such a gang.  I do not remember every being hungry or neglected and in those days there wasn’t the glamorous “pre-packaged”, packed with vitamins” food nor ready made cereals, washed rice and beans and the multitude of other prepared foods we enjoy today.  Everything but the bare staples was produced on the farm – a rocky half-section of land farmed with a one-horse plow and ancient “Machinery”.

AT UNCLE JACKS

I think some of the most pleasant memories were associated with the visits to and from neighbors and friends and relatives.  Particularly with Aunt Mary and Uncle Jack’s family, who numbered 11, almost one for each of ours.  Conrad and Ellis, two of their boys my age went together like “bread and butter” to me.  We were such good friends.  But then it was fun to play with all members of the family.  We would stay at their place whenever mom made her infrequent visits “home” to the States.  There must have been at least 8 extras for Aunt Mary, because there were 7 girls and 5 boys in our family.  I think the older boys would stay home and do chores while we 8 younger one would go to Uncle Jacks.

Now where would you put 19 kids and 2 adults to sleep if you were to have “company” for a week?  Well, there was a four-room house, a granary, a hayloft and a shed.  I think the favorite place was the shed.  This was a three-sided lean-to sometimes used for storing harnesses and maybe the Democrat – our “Rolls Royce” in those days, and where the chickens used to roost occasionally.

Have you ever slept with a cow?  Well, the shed being the favorite sleeping place, ‘cause it was almost like sleeping outside, was also visited by a wandering cow during the night, who might pass on by, or might just lay down a few feet from the foot of our bed.  Of course, we slept on the ground.  What on – I don’t recall, but I remember waking during the night terrified at the dark outline of a cow laying or standing nearby.  But I would snuggle down under my covers, head and all.  Preferring to suffocate rather than brave what terrors of what might befall me in the dark between the shed and the house if I were to run to the house.

Not only did our parents feed large families, but often in those days, there were men roaming the countryside, some for excitement, others looking for work, whom we always labeled tramps.  These men were never turned away from our doors but were always given food and a bed if necessary.  I remember one of these occasions while visiting at Uncle Jacks.  We girls, Dolena, Lou and myself, at least, as well as the cousins, Marie and Lila were permitted to sit at the big dining table with the adults for dinner this particular day.  I remember we had fresh peas from the garden.  Marie was sitting next to the tramp, who had been invited to stay for dinner.  When he served himself to the peas, one pea fell off the spoon and rolled past Marie.  The tramp turned to her and said, “Madam, would you please hand me that pea.”  “Madam” who was only about 8 years old seriously handed him the pea while the rest of us giggled and tittered while the adults continued their conversation uninterrupted by this little sideplay.

PROGRAMS AND PREACHERS

I suppose to many our lives were dull and unexciting, but to us life was happy, secure and safe.  Then there were the house parties, Christmas concerts and Conferences of The Church where everyone gathered at the little schoolhouse – the center of our activities.  Always the excitement of the years was the annual Christmas concert.  School kids practiced for weeks the drills, plays and recitations that were presented on the program and in which almost every member of the community participated.

I was a candy cane in a drill once, for which my teacher had made me a candy cane costume, of which I was so proud.  Not only that, there were two recitations I was privileged to given on different programs, “Little Dominique” and “Circumstances After Cases” and which dad had me recite everytime we had company.  Santa Claus came too and every child received a gift, which was handed out by Santa Claus.

Conferences of our small branch of The Church were exciting times too.  People came from far and near and the little schoolhouse was packed to eat the mounds of food prepared for all and to hear the sermons delivered by local and visiting brethren, such as Hugh B. Brown and E. J. Wood who would often talk just to the children telling us stories which I am sure shaped and influenced our lives.  Stories such as “The Little Train That Thought He Could”, “The Roses Being Pruned”, and “The Men and The Bull and Bear”.  There were also the sermons pounded out by Nunham Stanford, whose preaching and emphatic pounding of the pulpit left many subdued and repentant for a few days.

A HARD WAY TO MAKE A LIVING

Behind our farm was a big hill (at least it was big to me at that age) where lots of our fun activities took place.  In winter we would slide down it on the scoop shovel – our only sleigh – and in the summer we picked the beautiful wild flowers and looked for pretty rocks, which dotted the ground.  I even had one small business venture with these rocks.  To me they were beautiful, some shift and marbled, others red, purple and blue.  I gathered a jam pail full one time and sold them to a visiting child for a dime.  For a while I was rich till Dad found out and made me give back the money.  I guess he could see no use in families trading rocks.  He probably remembered the hours and hard work of clearing the land of these pesky things, which were certainly plentiful.

THE PUMPHOUSE

Mom and Dad were some of the earliest pioneers of the time, having come from Utah in about 1901 with one small baby.  Not only did they pioneer the Pine Coulee District, but were stalwart members of The Church and helped to form the Pine Coulee Branch of The Church there.  They were some of its earliest leaders and teachers along with the Browns, Lucas’, Stanford’s, Smiths and Jones’.

Life wasn’t easy for these early pioneers for they did not enjoy any of the comforts of life, which we take for granted today.  We did have a well though with a hand pump – later by a small engine – which pumped hard alkali water.  It was carried in and out after use by hand in big water pails.  I remember that little black engine that pumped our water.  It was housed just inside the pump house, which had many uses – garage, workshop and washhouse.  The engine had a wide belt, which the men often lifted onto a wide shaft while the engine was running.  The belt went out a small square hole in the side of the shed and onto a bigger wheel attached to the pump over the watering trough – which we kids sometimes used as a wading pool – green moss notwithstanding.

DEE DEE’S DIGEST
(Dolena Irene Oviatt)

RUNNING AWAY

One day when I was about 4 years old and Parley 5, we decided to run away from home.  We only got as far as the Coulee when Frank Rodgers, a neighbor, came along and asked us where we were going.  When we told him, we said we better go back home with him.  When we resisted, he picked us up kicking and screaming and put us in his buggy and held onto us while he drove the horses back home.  He is a Temple worker and I see him occasionally. He always reminds me of the time we ran away from home. I never held any hard feelings towards him though.

Our house was a small frame house with two bedrooms (the boys slept in the bunkhouse). For some reason, it was always catching on fire where the chimney went up through the ceiling above the kitchen stove.  On these occasions, we smaller children were always carried outside and sat in the middle of the yard and told to stay put.  Then everyone else grabbed a milk pail and formed a bucket brigade between the pump house and the back door.  What a mess!  And poor Mom, I suppose she had to clean up the mess.

MATTIE AND THE BILLYGOAT

It was at this same pump house that Mattie was milking I the cow one evening and the billygoat took after her.  Mom ran in to save her and the goat took after Mom.  Then someone tried to save them both and the billygoat took after them.  Lots of excitement, but of course, no movie camera.

SCHOOL DAYS

I went to school a few times before I actually started.  Probably because Mom wanted to go someplace and I was one too many kids.  I must have been a fragile, sickly little punk because Mom made the other kids carry my lunch pail.

We had to walk about a mile or a mile and a half to a one-room school, which was also where we held Church and Sunday School.  There were double desks and I got to sit with Parley.   Gee, I liked that.  After I started school, I was terrified of that walk to school.  You see we had to pass Manson Campbell’s pasture.  He was a prosperous neighbor who had purebred Hereford cattle and his bulls used to follow us down, on the inside of their fence bellering and pawing the dirt.  I never took any chances.  I’d be on the inside of our pasture so there would be two fences between us.  The older kids said bulls get mad when they see red, so I’d cover up anything red on me and run all the way home.  In Grade I, children used to get out a half-hour earlier than the other Grades.  All the Grades I –VI were taught by one teacher.  What a contrast to our schools today with a different teacher for every grade and subject, with libraries, gymnasiums, well-equipped labs and kitchens, lunch rooms and with wall-to-wall broadloom.

SECONDHAND TREATS

We never had any money, so we never had gum and candy.  We had Mom or the older girls make pulled taffy.  Sometimes we’d lay on the floor under our big dining room table and with a knife we’d pry off any that was put there by who knows and we’d chew that. One day I got some that tasted terrible, probably tobacco or an abscessed tooth. YUK! That sure cured me.

THE OPENING

One day when I was only about 5 years old, Mom and Dad came home from town with a huge box which Dad put in the middle of the kitchen floor and he told us children that we could unpack the new dishes.  They were white with a green border and buried in excelsior.  He cautioned us to be careful and not break any.  There seemed to be a thousand pieces.  I can still remember reaching into the big box and feeling for and finding a dish, then squealing “I got a cup, no a saucer, no it’s a plate!”  What a mess!  What a noise with all six of us. As young as I was, I remember my Dad standing and watching and saying to Mom, “Leave them alone Maudie, I’ll clean up the mess”.

CLOSE CALLS AND CURES

We used to sleep on mattresses made of straw–our own straw that is — and every week or so the straw had to be changed.  Probably because we wet the bed.  So with all our beds this was a big job.  One Saturday the older girls were down at the straw stack and were changing the straw — jumping and tumbling and having fun, when Mickey kicked me in the stomach and knocked the wind out of me.  I layed so white and motionless on the straw they were all certain I was dead, so they all ran to the house to tell Mom, who rushed right ” out and carried me back to the house and with the help of some of Watkins smelling salts, I was revived.

We spent many hours in the wintertime on the hill behind the barn “sleighing” using a scoop shovel. It seems we sat in the scoop and hung onto the handle.  I tried this one-day after I grew up and I still couldn’t figure it out.  On this same hill, we used to ride our “stick” horses down — our horses being old brooms.  Once my spirited charger stumbled and I ended up with it in my mouth and out again.  I have an extra dimple on my cheek to prove this really happened.

The fact that I seem to be the only one in the family that ever got hurt is a natural supposition that someone else’s story isn’t going to relate. For instance, the time we were down in Aunt Mary’s pasture climbing on rocks and I either fell off or was pushed off a cliff and got a terrible nosebleed.   My cousin, Ellis, and my sister, Mickey, each took one of my hands and made me run home so fast my feet didn’t even touch the ground.  When we reached the house there was no one there. The kids didn’t know what to do for me so they put me on a couch behind the door.  I heard Lou say that she read somewhere that if a person lost a cup of blood they’d die.  I laid there for quite a while expecting to die any minute — and that darn Lou couldn’t even read!

The most exciting times of all were when Mom’s relations would come for a visit.  They used to come loaded with stuff for their poor relations.  Trunks full of used clothes and boxes full of dried fruit.  Mom’s folks from Idaho used to have their own fruit trees and were pretty “well off”.  I think they probably thought “poor Maudie with all those kids and nothing to feed them”.  It was fun trying on all the clothes.  Mom’s younger sister, Mattie, used to work in a department store and I think she took all the junk that wouldn’t sell and brought it up.  I remember trying on shoes — I found a pair my size, both for the right foot and I even wore them!  We had this thing about the States, as though it was another planet and whatever came from there had to be the best.

VISITS FROM THE RELATIVES

Mom’s relations were good to Mom, but sometimes when they were leaving to go home, I’d wonder what went through her mind.  What were her thoughts?  Did she wish she could go back with them and forget that run-down farm and all those dirty-nosed kids?  Being a pioneer has no attraction for me and her experiences were harder than most pioneers.  I’ll always remember Mom’s hands.  I figured there was nothing she couldn’t do!  When she wiped my nose on her apron I used to see how cracked and rough they were and they always seemed to smell of onions.

MOVING TO TOWN

In the fall of 1924, my Dad decided it was time to move to Claresholm about 13 or 14 miles away.   It was very exciting.  Someone said that Dad suspected that he wouldn’t live much longer.  Stella was ready for high school and he had big plans for her.  I’m not sure what his reasons were, but I know that we loaded all our treasures on a hayrack.  That was one long ride, and the one thing I remember about that trip was that our old cat, Tabby, was with us.  Lou, Parley, Davis and Mickey and I and two older boys, Dee and Leland drove the team.  About halfway there the boys decided the town was no place for a cat so they made her get off.  We kids cried and pleaded with the boys not to put her off, but it was no use.

Now this may sound uncanny and even unbelievable, but it’s true.  About a week later this cat, who had never been further than the barn away, walked in our back door — dirty, bedraggled and very glad to see us.  We cleaned and fed her and were so excited to have her back.

DRAMA IN REAL LIFE

When the 9th of October comes around every fall, I gaze out the window and more times than not, there’s a few snowflakes falling or even some rain.  I let my thoughts go back to the year in 1918 to a small frame house on a home stead seven and a half miles southwest of the town of Stavely, in a district which was then known as the Pine Coulee — and this year was no exception, it was raining pitchforks!

This little house was already bursting at the seams with 9 children, five boys and four girls ranging in ages of from one to sixteen years, so what’s so exciting when another new baby is about to arrive?  The Mother and Dad had been married August 14, 1901 and had come to Canada in 1904 in a wagon to homestead, with a four-month old baby. They had brought all their belongings.  They owned the wagon and the team, which pulled it and had one hundred dollars.

It wasn’t easy.  A new baby in a wagon and a Canadian winter coming on.  There were many disappointments.  Work was scarce.  They soon learned what hard work was; in fact, after several short-term jobs, they landed work at the Johnson Sawmill west of Fort MacLeod, Alberta where the mother cooked for the whole crew of men for 75¢ cents a day and the father worked for $1.00 a day.

The mother continued at this job three years and in the first spring she had her second baby boy, whom they called Ralph.  They then moved to Claresholm and worked on the Bartlett Ranch, on the river bottom for one year.  Then they bought their own place in 1908, seven and a half miles west of Stavely, Alberta.

The house was small, two bedrooms, a kitchen, living room and dining room.  Here 10 more children were born.  The boys slept in a bunkhouse and the girls all slept in one bed, three at the top and 3 at the bottom.

And so it was on that very cold and rainy night in the fall of 1918, the mother probably whispered to the father “I’m going to have my baby tonight.”  They both set about to put the rest of the children to bed with a minimum of fuss, then the father slipped out, saddled his horse and rode seven and a half miles to town to get the doctor.  Hospitals were few and far between back then, son most babies were born at home.

The doctor was a young, English fellow fresh out of medical school and had been in Stavely only a few months.  He wasn’t used to the ways of these pioneers and when he was summoned on a night like this to travel seven and a half miles, he probably came reluctantly.

Anyway, Dr. Auld arrived at the farm about midnight in his own little buggy.  After first checking his patient, he sat down in the only comfortable chair to wait.  He took a sip of the chloroform, then another and another and soon he went fast asleep.

The mother was in the final stages of labor, so the nervous father went to awaken the doctor.  After much persuasion, he could see it was impossible.  He jumped on his horse and hurried off to a neighbor, Mrs. Edna Stanford, two and a half miles away and who was a very close friend.  They got back just in time to deliver the baby!  The doctor was still fast asleep so they finished the job.

By this time the father, who was as worn out as the mother, went to the doctor and shook him and finally dragged him to his feet.  “How much do I owe you for coming out”

The doctor stammers, “$25 should cover it.” and he dropped back into the chair.  He was dragged up again and helped to the door and told to get!

It was very early in the morning by now and the rain was still coming down.  The doctor left somewhat “shamefaced”.

However, he only got a quarter of a mile down the Coulee, when he slid off the road into the ditch and found he needed help to pull himself back up on the road.  Too embarrassed to go back to Parl Oviatt’s he walked half a mile further to Manson Campbell’s place.  Mr. Campbell, who was a very fine person and a prosperous Hereford breeder, hitched up a team, went up and soon had the doctor back on the road.  At this point, the doctor, making a real effort to act sober, said, “How much do I owe you for pulling me out of the ditch?”

Mr. Campbell said, “How much did you charge Parley Oviatt?”

“Twenty-five dollars.”

“Well, I think that’s about what I’ll charge!”  So he took Parl’s cheque and tore it up.

Drama, indeed!  The poor mother, who should have been the star, gets third billing next to the father and doctor.  This should be the end of the story, but it isn’t.  The baby in the story is me; and some may think I should have been the last baby for this couple, but not so.  Two more little girls came – Doris in 1920 and Idonna in 1923.

My mother was 37 when I was born. She had been married just 17 years.  I was her twelfth child (two children died in infancy).

My Mom’s Patriarchal Blessing says:

“Thou hast been blessed with a posterity wherein the Priesthood shall ever remain, God deigns to make of these a holy mother in Israel … thou shall be one of the invited guests who shall sit at the table with Savior and hear him bless his Zion in the earth.”

No wonder when my birthday comes around, I remember with a deep sense of gratitude the drama, the sacrifice, the pain and the circumstances in our home.  What a privilege to be born to loving parents who cherish the Gospel and have an underlying testimony of it.

(Written June 12, 1980, with the help of my brothers and sisters who are my loving critics.)

DORIS’ DICOURSE

(The Condensed Version)

Doris Oviatt

ROAD RUNNER

I was always the Road Runner.  If mother wanted something from the store, I was off and running and back before she could change her mind.  I guess that’s how I stayed skinny – between that and playing “Hooky” from school with Helen Mulholland and going to a farm south and west of Stavely in a grain truck and getting home later than was customary.  Mother asked if I had brought homework and I said “No” which was the truth, but all the time she knew I hadn’t even gone to school because the “truant” officer had come to find out why I was not in class.  I vowed I’d never go back, but I was there the next morning.  Mr. Carl Johnson gave me a tearjerker of a lecture about my mother being a widow with enough problems raising her large family without such conduct from me.  He tried to extract a promise that I would never do it again.  I couldn’t promise because I said, “If ever a good opportunity came along and I felt so inclined, I’d probably do it again and I couldn’t commit myself.” – but I never did.  When I was 17, my mom died and I never completed High School.

ROYALTY FOR DINNER

Then there was the time I invited Mayor David Elton for Sunday dinner.  He had just had his teeth out and was glad not to have to refuse roast beef at one of the bishopric’s houses.  We had bean soup and homemade bread!  I was so proud – we had royalty for dinner at our house!

DONNA’S DIARIES

(Vennice Idonna Oviatt)

GROWING UP AT THE “HOMEPLACE”

My earlier years were during the Dirty Thirties (the Depression) times.  Money was scarce and jobs were hard to comeby.  Those that did have jobs worked early and late and received meager pay.

Mother had a cow and used to sell a Rogers syrup pail of milk to the Chinese Restaurant for 25¢, which would buy enough hamburger for one meal.  Even then, sometimes, the 25¢ was squandered to buy treats, much to Mother’s dismay.  How she managed to feed twelve hungry children and extra company, I’ll never know.  She must have been a genius, because no one was ever turned away.

One of my Mother’s friends, Aunt Maine Smith, (she wasn’t really our aunt, but everyone called her that) had to have her teeth removed, and as hospitals weren’t in existence then, our kitchen table, which was long enough to accommodate our large family, was scrubbed and prepared for the operating table.  About 5 or 6 of us kids decided that we were going to hinder under the table and see what was going on, but that was short-lived because we were scooted outside in a hurry.

Quilting parties were the “in” thing for the early pioneers of our country and Mother attended many.  She even had many “quilting bees” at our home.

Mother used to catch the train in the morning and go to Stavely to Relief Society, then come home on the train that evening.  That evening several of we children would go down to the train station to meet her.  The conductor would ask us what we were there for and we’d say, “We have come to meet our mother”.  He’d say, “Well, how long has she bee gone?” and we’d say “Oh, she went to Stavely this morning.”  He would just smile and turn away.

SPARE TIME FUN

Many happy hours were spent in the Fall time in playing “Cupie Doll’ on the lawn. We raked the leaves into reams of rooms and had ‘parties and dressed the dolls for such occasions.  I think every child in the neighborhood took part in it.

I learned to knit, by us girls from my class in school having a knitting club. Then I taught Mattie how to knit and she became an expert. She made some beautiful dresses and sweaters and knitted articles for her family and all of us.

MEMORIES OF MOTHER

Mother was kind and patient and very considerate. Our home was always open to young people.  Each fall she would make a big wooden barrel of dill pickles, which was kept in the kitchen, behind the living room door.  Those pickles made the best dill pickle sandwiches, along with her homemade bread.  I think when Mom got her new Maytag washer.  It must have been a real highlight in her life. I remember that she was surely proud of it.  I learned baby-sitting at an early age and I used to get enough money when I was twelve to buy material for new dresses, which Mattie and Mother made for me.  Mother always wanted us girls to “act like ladies” and whenever we’d do something or say something out of line she’d say “now wasn’t that ladylike!”

Mother always said that being as I was the youngest, I would be with her the longest, but I believe that I was short-changed because she passed away when I was fourteen years old and I feel that that was a very crucial time in my life.  I needed her most at that age.  People say time heals.  Yes, I suppose it does in a way, but to those of you who have your mothers and dads, all I can say is appreciate them, be kind and considerate to them and tell them every day how much you love them.

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