By Jaunita Cole Walker
Written 1986 (as revised 2004)
Back to the Cole's -
There was never a doubt that my mother was well-trained for bringing up a family. That was her heritage and she remembered it well. The garden was a great source of food. Potatoes and canned vegetables filled the cellar at the end of summer, ready for a long winter. Have you ever thought of the necessity to break ice and snow away from a cellar door in mid-winter when supplies ran low in the house? Maybe when the temperature dropped to zero and the outside door wasn't covered will enough, it was necessary to take down a bucket of hot ashes and live coals to provide heat against freezing.
We always kept milk cows. Ray and Everett, later the other boys had to learn to milk. I usually had to help cook and was dishes, and clean house. Mom scrubbed our clothes on the washboard, boiled the white ones in a boiler on the cook stove. Lye soap was commonly used. Later we bought P&G bar soap - if we could afford it. Our list of groceries was usually rather basic: sugar, flour and coffee. (Corn was ground at the mill in town for cornmeal). Sometimes it was necessary for Mom to catch an old hen and sell it at the produce house to pay for groceries. These chickens were raised by setting hens over about 14 to 16 eggs. It must have been 1930 before we had a brooder house. Small coops were made for each setting hen to raise their brood. As they grew larger, the chicks could go with their mother to the big hen house.
One way to make money in summer was to pick and sell blackberries. There were lots of wild berries in the pasture. We all had to pick, but Everett and Paul usually came out with the least berries. They ate the best as they picked! Berries sold for $0.15 a gallon, later maybe $0.25. I would buy yard goods for a new dress - mostly my dresses were "made-over". We took the berries to town in the wagon - our best transportation then. Usually we knew which people like to buy berries. Sometimes Mom would sell and extra pound of butter or honey.
We did have a telephone. I can't tell the years, but sometime after World War I, the lines needed repaired and poles needed to be replaced. Eventually service was abandoned, I think probably around 1921. I do remember that mom received a call when her sister Maggie died in Welda, Kansas. It was in May of 1920 and Mom took Paul and I with her by train. I remember getting there after night and we were taken to Grandad's store; I believe they lived in rooms at the store. Anyhow, they gave us marshmallow-topped cookies - even pink ones! Cookies came in tin cases on a rack of several varieties. The cases had a glass front door on them so you could see them displayed. Oh, but they were good! Leota Carter, Mom's youngest sister, was about my age and we played together. I can't even remember the ride home on the train. Grandparents and cookies make great impressions on little ones.
Dad was always busy trying to bring in food or cutting wood for our stoves. He kept a sow and pigs, so we butchered our own meat. The butchering was done on a very cold day. I think Dad used a huge barrel for scalding vat. The water was heated in a big kettle outside. This meant getting up real early to start a fire and get things ready. Usually a neighbor would want a hog butchered at the same time and the men would help each other. If several hogs were killed and scalded, lots of well water had to be "drawn" and heated. The men folk were busy all day; the women cooked a big Monday meal. Then all hands were busy in the afternoon taking care of the pork. It was cut up and taken to the smokehouse where it was salted (or salt and sugar cured). Some trimming were ground up in sausage. Fat scraps were rendered in an iron kettle for lard - usually the day after butchering, again over an outside fire.
Dad was also proficient at bee-keeping. This, I believe, was a skill encouraged by his Uncle Rice who had an apiary. Usually we had several hives of bees and they produced well. I can remember Dad using the smoker, robbing the super hive of honey. Bees would crawl off over the veil he wore (hanging from his hat). I can't remember any of us getting stung - unless we stepped barefoot on a bee in clover!
Sometimes we had wild duck, squirrel, or rabbit for table use, but never a deer. usually if Dad went hunting, it was for a duck or squirrel. He was a good marksman. The boys took up fur trapping to make money. From Ray to the youngest boy, all of them had experiences at trapping. They had to bait and set traps, do the skinning of animals, stretch the fur for sale - furs of opossums, skunks and raccoons.
Grandma Cole loved to fish and did so all during summer. Whether the fish were biting or not, she just loved to go to the creek. Galinipper Creek was 1 and 1/2 miles away through the woods. It was required that one of us kids had to go along to help Grandma. She was probably our best teacher of nature. nothing escaped here sharp eyes. She told us about the trees, the flowers, where the springs were, how to watch for snakes, best way to bait your fish hook, and how to catch the fish! Also how to clean fish. Sometimes we thought we wore out sooner than Grandma.
I guess I was like Grandma in some ways. I like the solitude, the beauty of nature and the feeling of being a part of God's plan. She was a religious person, perhaps stern and opinionated at times, but a true servant among the sick. Many times she was called upon to stay in the home where a neighbor was very ill. There were no hospitals. The Osceola doctors knew Grandma Cole was one of the best practical nurses around. Her horse and buggy were a familiar sight in the vicinity, all the way from friends at Montrose and Chalk Level, to Osceola and Lowry City.
The Coopers first lived near Teays Chapel (Montrose) where their father was a Methodist Minister. Grandma Cole and Aunt Mattie Wilson were twins and were always close together. Aunt Mattie lived in Deepwater. Before we owned a car, Grandma would go to Deepwater on the train for a visit, usually several times a year. Occasionally Aunt Mattie would come to visit us, but she had a husband to look after. Besides Grandma loved to go places. They would visit the Brownings, Keys, Calhouns, Lampkins - all from around Teays Chapel. A neighbor would take them fishing on Deepwater Creek or Marshall Creek. Hour upon hour would be spent in talking over good times and people they knew. Aunt Mattie had a small bedroom she would go to and smoke her pipe. When I was taken along for the visit, I would always rather go to Cousin Emma's and visit than to sit in the smoke and listen to the same "old tales"; (Emma Rhoads Birch was a daughter by Mattie's first marriage. Birch's had a family of 6 children)
Uncle Rice Cooper came to our home for a visit almost once a year. I think it was usually the month of May or later. He was a pastor of the Fayette Methodist Church and a chaplain of Central College. He was given by the college an honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity. With this honor, their chapel was re-named "Rice H. Cooper Chapel".
When Uncle Rice came to our house, He was treated like a king.
He was soft-spoken and entertained the children with stories - often ending in laughter. Perhaps venerable is one description of his appearance to us. his influence was good for us.
The Sabbath was always observed when I was growing up. Many times Mom could not go to Sunday School with us, but all of us kids were expected to go. Mom had been a member of the Osceola Baptist Church since she was about 18 years of age. Our schoolhouse at Lewis was the meeting place for a Union Sunday School. My Dad would go with us sometimes, especially after he had a car to take us, but usually we walked the mile and half. Mom saw that everyone had clean clothes, and when we came back hungry she would have a special dinner all ready - I'll never forget the home-baked light bread. Eventually the Union Sunday School broke up because the "Holiness" families built their own church and some of the others had moved away. The Earnhearts were good friends of ours, members of United Brethren - helped out a lot in Sunday school. ~
Whenever a minister would come to preach on Sunday afternoon, Mom would be there - either hitching up a team or walking and carrying a baby. I would always think how happy she must have been when after doing a morning's work she would sit in her rocker and sing to sleep a little one. Songs like: "Just When I Need Him Most", "Will There be any Stars in My Crown" and "When the Roll is Called up Yonder". Then laying the baby down, she would go right back to the hard work. It always made me glad that in later years she was privileged to go almost every Sunday to her church and spend many hours of service for God.
I have mentioned that Lewis School was 1 and 1/2 miles away. It seemed farther when the cold wind blew over the prairie grass hilltop Southeast of our house. We would walk to the Creed place, 1/4 mile South then Southeast across the pasture to the road near school. We girls had to wear dresses or skirts and black sateen bloomers - sometimes ribbed underwear, but there were always enough ways for the wind to freeze me! Sometimes snow would be deep and the boys would break a path for me - when big rains came, Dad would have to put us on a horse to ford the creek down by the Creed's house.
I guess I started in first grade when I was 5 years old. The second year, our teacher, Jim Atteberry, decided I belonged in 3rd grade after being in second grade only briefly. When I reached 5th grade, our teacher was Edna Nickel and she also promoted me two years in one. I graduated from the eighth grade about 2 months before my 12th birthday.
This was 1927. There were no buses to high school. I was too young to leave home, so I was home helping with housework until the year I turned 15. I couldn't imagine not going to high school. Grandma was the one who could get things done - actually she was the only one with money to spare (her Civil War widow's pension was $40 a month!) So I told her that I would ride to Osceola horseback if I had the $2 a month tuition. The folks were reluctant because I wasn't a strong person, healthwise - but they let me start. It wasn't easy to take care of the horse and keep up with school when everything was so new to me. After 2 weeks, Dr. Ruth went to Mom and Dad to ask if I couldn't stay with her sister, Mrs. Lightfoot, in Lowry City, who was alone while her husband traveled as a salesman. So I changed to Lowry City school. By Christmas, Mrs. Lightfoot died suddenly and I had to find a room to rent. It was several blocks from school. Dad would come after me on Friday evening, take me back Monday morning. I remember one time a March snow was at least a foot deep with drifts of 3 feet and we didn't get to school until 11 o'clock! But I wasn't the only one. There were so many late that no one was counted tardy that day.
During my last year of high school (1933-1934), I got a room from (Great) Grandma Rippetoe, who lived not far east of the Methodist Church. Paul was walking to school from home then and he would sometimes eat lunch with me there.
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