Jernberg Family Stories

 In 1982 Elaine Munns and her sister Kay Bare stayed in Phoenix with their parents Dave and Cleo Jernberg.  While there, they recorded 3 tapes, both sides, of stories told by Dave and Cleo of their early years, homesteading in Idaho, and raising a family. This is part 5 of the series.

1940s Dances and Events at Liddy Hot Springs

What about the dances at Liddy’s?  When did you start going to the dances at Liddy’s?

DAVE:  Oh, I don’t remember when, but I went there when it was up in …. taking cattle up to Medicine Lodge in 1927.

CLEO:  Well, we went to the dances at Liddy’s.  After you kids were big enough to go with us, we went to the dances up there all the time.

CLEO:  Fourth of July, wouldn’t get home until morning.  Boy, the fifth of July was an awful day.  Kids were cranky and I was cranky, and I think Daddy was cranky, too.

You used to say that when you took us to the dances, you just stacked us up in the corner.  You remember what you used to tell me about that?

DAVE:  Well, that was when, our first dances we headed out there and people would drive in teams from all ways and come bring their kids and they didn’t have a babysitter and so somebody would put their kid in the car and put a blanket over it and somebody would come along and put another blanket over it and put a kid on top of that and pile them up in the corner.

Kind of had to go home in the same order that they came, huh?

DAVE:  Yeah. 

CLEO:  I can remember we used to take Kay to the dances in the baby buggy.

CLEO:  Oh, wasn’t she a mess?  Never would be quiet, never go to sleep, I thought if we took the baby buggy, she would go to sleep.

ELAINE:  She used to sit up and hang onto the side and dance back up and down to the music all the time.  I can remember that. 

The Dance Music 

ELAINE:  OK.  Tell me some of the dance bands that played at the dances you went to. 

DAVE:  Copenhagen Twins, they played there, they was mighty full, they both played accordions and they were pretty good and they had been playing a lot until just lately I guess.  They played tunes of all kinds.  And then Roy’s Rhythm Rockers played there quite a lot.

CLEO:  Peggy’s mother, Mrs. Wheeler, played with them.

DAVE:  Yeah, Freddy’s mother, Mrs. Wheeler.

ELAINE:  Peggy’s mother.

CLEO:  No, Peggy’s mother.

DAVE:  And then I don’t know some of the others.

CLEO:  When they played at Terreton, they would get the biggest crowds I’ve ever seen.  People just packed in there, they were just like sardines.

A 4th of July (Not) To Be Forgotten

ELAINE:  Tell us about the dances at Liddy’s.

DAVE:  Well, it was on the Fourth of July.  Went up there for the Fourth of July and we went up there early in the morning.  We went to the dance, and I and him was sitting in the back of the pickup and he was drunk.  We stayed all day and went to the dance and didn’t come home until in the next, in the morning.  And he raised up in the pickup and he said, “When we gonna get to Liddy’s?”.

ELAINE:  He missed the whole party huh?

CLEO:  He missed everything.

KAY:  They used to have rodeos up there, too, didn’t they?  In the afternoon and then we’d stay, stay and we’d all go swimming and then we’d stay for the dance didn’t we?

DAVE:  Uh huh.

Cleo Breaks Her Toe at Liddy Hot Springs

Didn’t you break your toe or something?

CLEO:  I sure did.  That was before Kay, that was before you were born.  They had races up there for women and I felt like running and so I thought, well I could beat them and I fell down and I broke my toe.  I fell down and broke my toe, and it still bothers me.  It still gets out of joint.

You broke your ankle once, too, didn’t you?

CLEO:  Yeah, I broke my leg.

DAVE:  She stepped out of that other building there and stepped on some ice.

CLEO:  No, soap.  I’d been making soap and I took the soap pan out and scraped it all off on this big rock, remember we had that big rock for a step at that old building and so I got through, I come out there in a hurry and stepped on it and I just flew through the air and I come down and I heard my leg.  It just cracked.  It healed fast though.

Ben losing his pea coat Navy jacket at Liddy’s Hot Springs around 1949

ELAINE:  Do you remember when Ben came home on leave from the Navy with his new pea coat Navy jacket, do you remember what happened to it?  He went to the Liddy’s dance and I think it was of the Johnson’s got drunk and put his new pea coat on that, that all wool navy blue coat that he was so proud of and jumped in the swimming pool with it.

CLEO:  Oh wow.

ELAINE:  Shrunk it up and so he didn’t have a navy coat.

CLEO:  I didn’t know that.

Elaine goes home from the dance with a guy - 1949 approx

ELAINE:  Do you remember one time you took me up to Liddy’s to the dance and this guy wanted me to go home with him and I told him that I couldn’t because I had to go home with whoever brought me and I had come with you, and he went and asked you if it was all right if he took me home and you said yes, do you remember that?

DAVE:  No.

ELAINE:  And I was so mad at you cause I was using that for my excuse.

CLEO:  Who was the guy?  I’ve forgotten.

ELAINE:  It was G***** P********.  I shouldn’t say that on the tape.

CLEO:  Oh, that’s all right.

ELAINE:  Anyway, I told him that my Dad might have said that but he didn’t mean it, I still had to go home with him.  That was a rule in our family.  Daddy was too easy going.

CLEO:  Yeah, I’ll say. 

Early 1940s - Getting the “Itch”

ELAINE: What about the itch?  When you speak about the itch, tell us about the itch.  People don’t have that anymore.

CLEO:  Yeah, they called it scab, we called it seven year’s itch.  It was really was the doctors call scabbies.  It was from the little parasite under your skin.

DAVE:  You’d get it, some kids would have it and then they would come and sleep with our kids and then.

You said you had the itch?

DAVE:  Yeah, we got it.  Kids would come sleep with our kids and then they got the itch and then I got the itch.  Then I had to drive my cattle in the fall and round up, would be several days with that itch up there, rounding up the cattle, never slept.  And the ?? in the bunkhouses was Howie Mann; and he had lice and so we got lice along with the itch.  It was a bad time.

CLEO:  It was hard to get rid of.  You had to boil your clothes and put all this stuff on your body.

DAVE:  So, when I got home, I went to the doctor, Dr. Kline, to see what to do about it.  He says “What’ll you do, what are you using?”  And I said, “We’re using sulfur and lard”.  And, well, he says, “That’s fine, just go ahead and use it”.  Then he charged me $3.00 and I left.

KAY:  I remember when we were little kids, you used to tuck us in and you said, “Sleep tight and don’t let the bedbugs bite.”  Did you ever have bedbugs bite really or was that just a ...

DAVE:  Well, we didn’t have them but…

CLEO:  I know that’s one thing I never did have was bed bugs.

DAVE:  A lot of people had them.  And the bedbugs disappeared when they got that DDT, that finished it.

KAY:  That took care of all those kind of bugs, huh?

CLEO:  I remember one time Daddy told Benny that and he’d come out of that bed but fast.  He was just little, about two.  And so, we never did dare tell him that anymore cause he was really upset.

1940 Charlie O’Tool Gets Shot

You said something about him (Brosek) shooting Charlie O’Toole.  What happened there?

DAVE:  Well, that was years later that he was running his cattle over there around Hamer and that ... herding stuff and they was mad at Charlie O’Toole.  He kept a … he had a fellow staying with him, about a halfwit, and got talked him into shooting Charlie O’Toole.  They climbed on it and they dug a place in the gravel pit, figured on shooting him and burying him.  And Charlie wanted to show them he didn’t die and he crawled for several … for a mile or two up to some neighbor’s place.  They thought they’d … that he was buried in this gravel pit and then they took his car.  This halfwit took the car and drove in an alley in Idaho Falls and left it.  They figured that he’d went to Idaho Falls and then disappeared there and didn’t know where he went.

CLEO:  But it didn’t turn out that way.

DAVE:  It didn’t turn out cause he didn’t die.  He made it to ….

Did they ever catch up with him for doing it?

DAVE:  Well, they put this guy in jail for about a year only he didn’t stay in there a year, in a little while they turned him out.

But Brosek got away?

DAVE:  Oh Brosek, they didn’t have nothing on him.  He was on the side, he didn’t do the shooting, they didn’t have nothing on him.  But everybody knew that he was the head of the deal.  They wanted to get Charlie O’Toole out of there so they’d get his range and stuff I guess.

1940 or so - Cleo and Freddy Make Soap

You and Freddy used to make soap quite a bit didn’t you?

CLEO:  Yeah, we used to make soap all of the time?

Where did you get the big kettle?

CLEO:  Oh, we got that big kettle from Mrs. Wagner.  She gave it to us.

DAVE:  You got the kettle didn’t you?

CLEO:  Yeah, Elaine has it now.  And one time, we were, Freddy and Mrs. Jones and I we were out there, it was in the spring and we had scarves around our heads stirring this soap you know, in this great big kettle and there was three guys, I guess they were hunters or something and they came down the ditch bank and they stopped and they looked and they backed up and come in there to see what in the world we were doing.  They couldn’t figure out what three women would be doing with that great big cook kettle with a fire under it.

1940s - Getting Kids Ready for School

DAVE:  Tell about when the kids used to go to school.

CLEO:  They were so slow I couldn’t get them ready for school and the bus would be coming. And so Dave would get over here and hold the door open, and then we’d get one going and then the other.  Lots of times, Ben was always last.

DAVE:  You’d be putting their coats on or something.

CLEO:  Yeah, I’d be running along with Ben putting his coat on half way to the bus, holding the door open.  Kind of like Dagwood.

Ice Skating

ELAINE: Did you used to ice skate?

DAVE:  Oh, we did a little, yeah.

CLEO:  I used to ice skate a lot.  Yeah, we ice skated at after we came out to the lake.

ELAINE:  I remember you and Daddy ice-skating with us clear up to the Jefferson wells and back one day.

CLEO:  Yeah, you and Beverly, Beverly McCrary.

ELAINE:  And Ben, I think Ben was there, too.

CLEO:  Was Ben with us?  And I know how surprised you were that Daddy and I could skate, and we even skated ahead of you.

ELAINE:  We thought you were old.  We probably wondered how you made it.

CLEO:  Yeah.

DAVE:  You thought we was real old … we was young.

CLEO:  Not real.

ELAINE:  Not much younger than I am now, 40 years ago.

CLEO:  You were 45 and I was about 40.

1941 – 1943 Ben Starts Riding Horses

Ben used to ride horses with you, did he?

DAVE:  Yeah, after he got 10, 12, he was an older kid.

Did you take him with you when he was a little boy?

CLEO:  We took him everywhere.  We took you to Denver.  I didn’t know what a babysitter, I said “what’s a babysitter.”  I didn’t know what a babysitter was?

You couldn’t call for a babysitter.

CLEO:  No.

DAVE:  Benny used to, when he got 10, 12 years old, he used to help me ride.

1942 Kay Turns all the Power Off

ELAINE:  We were going to talk to you about how Kay turned all the power off.

KAY:  Mother can tell you that story.  I don’t remember.

CLEO:  Well I know that we were out of electricity and we couldn’t not figure it out.  We went everywhere and tried all of the lights and everything.  We went outside and there Kay was sitting down playing with, what is it.

It was the fuses.

The main fuse.

CLEO:  The fuses out of our box and we’d never figured out to this day how she got them out cause she couldn’t have reached them and she couldn’t have reached them.  I don’t think she could’ve reached them on a chair even, but I don’t know how she got them, but she had them so that was all, that took the fuses back and we were OK.

1942 Kay Drinks Horse Milk

ELAINE:  Kay, do you remember when you were little when the old horse died, and they milked the horse and you drank the horse milk.

KAY:  Yeah, but we milked one that was alive, too.  We had an old mare that was really, really gentle.  A big old mare and we went out there and milked her cause we wanted to see what horse milk tasted like.  It wasn’t too bad.  It was pretty good.  We brought it in and put it in the fridge and got it cold and it wasn’t too bad.

DAVE:  That one old mare would get down and couldn’t hardly get up and she had a colt and she’d be laying down and he’d, she’d lift her leg up and.

KAY:  Oh yeah, that was Benny’s Palomino mare there.  That wasn’t too many years ago.  I saw her out there.  She would lay down and lift up her leg.  It was too much work to get up and nurse the colt, so she just let him eat while she laying down, yeah.  Those were awful cute colts she had.

DAVE:  Uh-huh.

1943 or 1944 - Kay’s Imaginary Friend

ELAINE:  Kay, do you remember your little imaginary friend?

KAY:  No.  But you guys used to tell me about it.

ELAINE:  I remember Kay had the imaginary friend and his name was Bobo and she’d play with him out in the yard and talk for herself and talk for Bobo and everything and whenever she’d do anything naughty and Mother would get after her, she’d say I didn’t do it, Bobo did it.  You remember that don’t you Mother?

CLEO:  Uh huh.

How cute.

Kay used to get into a little bit of trouble once in a while didn’t she?

CLEO:  Yes, she was always into everything.  All of my keepsakes that I’d had all these years that you and Ben never bothered because you had each other to play with but she was lonely, and she just got into everything.  The thing that she did that upset me the most … she got that little picture of you and Ben and I think you were about 2 and she was 3.  We had it taken by that big tree in Lorenzo, you remember seeing the picture.  And she got a ballpoint pen and colored both of your eyes all blue with the pen.  It just ruined the picture.

KAY:  I can kind of remember doing that.  I remember thinking that it wasn’t colored, and it would be prettier if they had colored eyes and stuff and I was going to fix it.

1943 and on - Kay Bugs Elaine

KAY:  And then there were the times that, when you were going to school and I was still home. I had kind of big feet so I could wear your shoes.  And I’d put on your nylons and your garter belt and your shoes and your bra and everything and I’d get dressed all up in your clothes.  I took your jewelry one time when I was going to school and gave it to some of my friends and you were really mad at me. Mother said that I wouldn’t do anything like that, and she wouldn’t let you hit me.

KIM:  Couldn’t hit her, huh?

KAY:  She used to protect me.  The other thing I remember was when I used to get up in the morning, everybody else was gone to school and stuff.  It was kind of late but Mama always had a tea kettle on the little cook stove or the little trash burner and she’d put a dish of oatmeal in the top of the tea kettle and keep it warm for me.  So when I got up I had warm oatmeal to eat out of the top of the tea kettle and it always tasted so good.

CLEO:  You other kids didn’t ever sleep like that.

KAY:  She was glad, she was glad that the longer I slept, the better off she was.

CLEO:  A shorter day.

KAY:  Another thing I remember was … Elaine and I used to sleep together, and I wet the bed. And she just hated me, and she’d scream at Mother.  We had the washing machine in our bedroom, it was right up against the bed.  One night I was cold or something and I kept trying to get closer to her.  And she got up and crawled over on the other side and let me fall off on the floor and I hit the washing machine.  She thought it was really funny.

ELAINE:  Can you imagine being awakened from a sound sleep by somebody wetting the bed?  That was the day before plastic pants, you know, they didn’t have plastic pants.  And Kay was my bed partner and I remember hollering Mama.  And then she’d have to come in and put a towel on it so I couldn’t.

CLEO:  Yeah, a big towel under it to keep it dry.

ELAINE:  When we got ready to come on this trip, Gladys says “Do you think you and Kay can get along being bed partners?” And I said, “I hope she’s outgrown wetting the bed.  If she has, I think I can handle it.”

1944 Kay Cuts Curlers Out of Her Hair

ELAINE:  Can you remember when Mother used to put your hair up and the bangs in one of those little rubber curlers and ..?

KAY:  And I cut them off.

ELAINE:  And you cut the curler off right next to your head.

KAY:  I couldn’t get them undone and I worked and worked and there wasn’t anybody there to help me so I took the scissors and cut them off.

Had real short bangs then.

1944 or so - Listening To The Radio and Sharing the Newspaper

ELAINE:  What were some of the programs you used to listen to?

CLEO:  Oh, Amos and Andy, and Fibber McGee and Molly, we just loved those programs.  About the only two that I can remember right quick.

ELAINE:  Ben and I used to run home from school and listen to the Lone Ranger and some of those shows just the same as kids nowadays run home for television.  And Mother would get mad cause it was too loud and she was tired.

CLEO:  Couldn’t stand that noise.

You used to always have a nap before we came home.

CLEO:  Yes, so I could stand you the rest of the day.  If I could lie down about 2:30 or 3:00 for a half hour before they got home on the bus, then I could take them the rest of the day, but they’d come in and the first thing they’d start fighting about is the newspaper, especially when Kay was little, she’d hide it from them.  She’d hide the newspaper and then they’d have to find the newspaper and then one of them wanted it and the other one wanted it.

ELAINE:  Daddy started that though.  You used to hide the funnies.  Do you remember?  So that I could read them once in a while cause Ben could always outrun me.  Do you remember doing that?

DAVE:  No I don’t.

ELAINE:  I can remember Daddy used to hide them for me once in a while because Ben could always outrun me and I never, ever got to read the funnies on Monday cause he could outrun me and Daddy would hide them so that I’d at least have a fair chance of.

1944 - Elaine and Ben Tell Kay She’s Adopted

KAY:  I remember Ben and Elaine used to tell me I was adopted, and I used to be really be worried about it.

CLEO:  Benny used to just tease you all the time about being adopted.  One time you came to me and you said, “Mama, am I adopted?”  And I said, “Well if you are, we adopted Benny from the very same people.”  And then you never did worry about it anymore.

KAY:  Ben used to be pretty good company.  He always kind of liked me.  Elaine didn’t like me, but Ben did.

ELAINE:  Oh, I liked you, too.  Remember when I used to braid your hair.

KAY:  Yeah.

CLEO:  She liked you too, but you were just hard to live with.

ELAINE:  I let you draw circles on the paper for every time I pulled and then you got to hit me for each circle.

1944 / 1945 - Jack and Doris and Yellowstone Park

KAY:  What year was it that we went with Jack and Doris to the Yellowstone Park?

CLEO:  Oh, and Doris cooked breakfast was that in the Missouri River?

KAY:  Yeah.

CLEO:  Were you with us Elaine?  No, it was just Kay and Janet and Julie.  I don’t know what year that was, but I know you and Julie and Janet went with us.

KAY:  And we camped out a lot.  That was the first time I’d ever seen an electric train.  They had those electric train kits.

CLEO:  We stayed all night.  We just camped right out in the open by the Missouri River and Doris got up the next morning and made hot pancakes for us.  I thought they were so good.

KAY:  I remember going through the park too when I was about six.  What happened then?

CLEO:  Oh yes, that’s when we had Mikayla as a baby.  And we had to carry her.  Daddy would carry her a ways and then I’d carry her a ways and I remember one time we went way out through those, where all those little board planks were that we had to go out and see all those mud pots and everything and when we got back, well, one of her shoes was gone.  She’d lost a shoe.  When we found out her shoe was gone, we had to retrace our tracks and go all the way back to find that shoe and we found it because that was quite an important thing, shoes those days, we didn’t have money to buy any more.  We just went on a shoestring to the park I remember when we ran out of money and our gas was getting low, we started for home and Freddy and Roy went around through Jackson or something. 

KAY:  I can remember watching them feed the bears.  They don’t let you do that at the park anymore.

CLEO:  No, they don’t do that anymore.  And I couldn’t.  The rest of you all went down to watch them feed the bears but I had to sit in the car and keep Kay cause they said the baby couldn’t go down to watch feed the bears.  That was about all I remember.

KAY:  Daddy remembers sleeping out and a bear bothering him.

CLEO:  Yeah, a big old bear was sniffing right around the edge of the tent in the night.  Freddy was frying bacon for breakfast and the bears started coming after her and she had to take her frying pan full of bacon and run and jump in the car and shut the door.  He was going to take her bacon away from her.

1947 Kay's Horse Shows Up Without Kay

DAVE:  I remember that one time, Janet and Benny was going riding and got Kay to go out horseback riding with them.  They rode out in the desert, out in the swamps around there.  On the way back why Kay was riding old Chief and he took a notion, the bridle come off and away he went.  She fell off and here come the horse just a flying and boy we was worried.  We thought…

CLEO:  Oh, that was terrible.  I could see that horse coming and Benny was chasing the horse trying to catch it, and I could see something flying in the air just like, you know, it was the bridle.  He was kicking and that bridle was flying in the air and I thought it was Kay, I was just oh.  And when Benny got there, why he said Kay fell off back in the brush, but she’s all right.  But he was still trying to catch the horse.

DAVE:  And then Kay was crying and we wanted to know what was the matter with her and she says, “I fell off the right hand side of the horse and Benny told me I was supposed to get off to the left.”

CLEO:  Yeah, that was the whole worry for her cause she fell off of the wrong side.

KAY:  Well, I remember when I fell off, I lit in some rocks and he came by to see if I was all right. And he says I better catch that horse before Mother sees it or she’ll have a heart attack, and he took off after it.  And he says, “You stay here, and I’ll go see if I can get the horse back for you.”  But evidently, he didn’t get it before it got to the house.

CLEO:  Oh, if I would have had a weak heart, I would have had a heart attack cause I knew that was you that was going in the air but it was the bridle that he was kicking every time.

KAY:  We used to ride Old Chief out to the bridge and that was all the further he’d go.  He’d stop.  He wouldn’t go any further than that.  He had his limit.  He knew we couldn’t make him go so he’d go out there and stop and then he’d turn around and come back and we’d be so mad.

CLEO:  He’d trot back, wouldn’t he?

KAY:  Yeah.

ELAINE:  I used to ride him to school in the spring when the roads were all broken up and the bus couldn’t go.  Ben and Keith Shriver, those are the boys who would ride their horses.  I’d have my lunch bucket in one hand and be about halfway home when they’d come by and decide that they were racing to see who could run their horses the furthest.  And when they would get to me, Chief would run with them too.  I would just live in fear that they were going to show up while I was riding home because I couldn’t hold the horse and the lunch bucket both, and I didn’t enjoy riding horses anyway. 

1948 - Scaring Cleo and Freddy with Critters

KAY:  We were talking about when we used to go up in the field and work in the hay.  We used to have a bunch of kind of grass-looking hay up there that Daddy used to take the old mowing machine and the horses, and we used to go up and cut it.  I went along and I don’t know whether I was much help or not but Mother always fixed lunch for us and we had a really good lunch.  Then this one time, we decided it would be funny, so I caught a whole bunch of frogs and put in the lunch bucket.  Mother never has liked things like frogs or mice or anything like that very well anyway, and she was doing the dishes and she opened the bucket and all these frogs jumped out all over the whole kitchen.  I remember her throwing her arms in the air and screaming and she was really mad at us.  Finally got over it.

PATTY:  Did Grandpa let you do that?

KAY:  Yes, he thought it was funny.

ELAINE:  You know, I don’t think we did it thinking that Mother was going to open them.  I think we just wanted to keep the frogs.  I don’t think we really meant to scare her. 

KAY:  No.  I think we knew what we were doing.

CLEO:  I think you did, too, because you were just so quiet when I was doing the dishes.  You all were sitting there like this when I was doing the dishes and I said well, it’s a good thing your Mother has got a good strong heart or I’d have had a heart attack right there.

ELAINE:  I know, when we wanted to scare Freddy, we’d do it with the grasshopper.  She was as afraid of grasshoppers as anybody was mice.  Kay, remember the time that Beverly McCreary and I made you walk down the slew along the side of the road and scare up the frogs so that we could catch them? Mother had gone to town and she had told us how she and Daddy had eaten frog legs and how good they were, and so we made you wade in the slew and scare all of the frogs up and then we caught them.  Then we had Daddy cut all their legs off for them and we cooked them, and they jumped all over the frying pan and we had frogs legs.

CLEO:  Yeah, I remember having frog’s legs.  They weren’t very big, but they tasted pretty good.

ELAINE:  We ate them bones, we ate them bones and all.

CLEO:  Yeah, they were, yeah.

1948 and 1949 - Sleeping In Not Allowed

ELAINE:  The thing that I remember about Mother was that she came in and started hollering, it’s almost 7:00 when it was only 5 after 6.  You know, the minute past the hour was almost the next hour all of the time, you know.  And if we were ever out late and wanted to sleep in, the rule was:  we all had to get up and eat breakfast and then clean the house up and then we could have a nap.  But nobody was allowed to sleep-in in the morning.

CLEO:  Oh, we just couldn’t, it was such a mess because you could see our beds and everything.  Had to get up and get our beds made.

1948 - Kay Ice Skates To Roy and Freddie’s for Thanksgiving

KAY:  And I can remember, too, ice skating over to Roy and Freddy’s, from our house to Roy and Freddy’s on Thanksgiving.  A couple of times it was cold enough there was ice.

CLEO:  Did we go with you?  Did we ice skate with you?

KAY:  I’m not sure.  I don’t remember.

ELAINE:  You did sometimes when, a couple of times I think, but a lot of times we went.  One time I had a stick and I was flipping Ben back and forth on the stick.  And I got him too close to the edge and he went in the and got wet, do you remember that?  I had to dry his clothes out over the stove so he could get back on.

1948 - Neighbor Mr. Mitchell Dies 

ELAINE:  Right up there where the house is now, the Mitchell family used to live next door to us.

DAVE:  Yeah.

KAY:  There were Sandy and.

CLEO:  No, that was Tom.

DAVE:  Tom, that’s right.

KAY:  That was Tom that lived next door to us across the ditch.

CLEO:  Yeah, Sandy, you know where he lives.  Yeah that was Tom and Bessie and Lyle and Donald and then they had these two other boys, Warren.

DAVE:  The other Mitchells lived there when we first lived there.

KAY:  Well, they came back, too, because I don’t remember when Donald and those guys lived there.  That’s when Elaine was little.

ELAINE:  After Tom and Bessie moved away, then the older folks came back and lived there.  Do you remember the day he died?  Do you remember the day Mr. Mitchell died?

CLEO:  Yes, I was upset.  Benny was out riding on his horse and he came loping over there and said that Mr. Mitchell was dead.  He found him, Benny found him up here.  He’d come in with his, he’d been plowing and he came in to, I guess he’d got sick and felt like he was having terrible pains or something and he brought his horses and plows in and was just unhooking his horses and just sat up against the fence to rest a minute and he just died right there.  And Benny was the one who had found him.

ELAINE:  And then you went over and milked their goats for a while, didn’t you?

DAVE:  Yeah, I went over and she had told me to, Mrs. Mitchell, they had goats and they told me how to milk them, you put Nellie on first and Janie on second and I went over and thought the heck with that, I’ll milk them the way, first one, first come.

ELAINE:  First come first served.

DAVE:  Had them get up on a little platform and then you milked them from there.

ELAINE:  What did they do with the goat’s milk?

DAVE:  I don’t know.

CLEO:  Oh I think she made all kinds of things.

ELAINE:  Cheese and stuff.

CLEO:  Cheeses and everything.  They really utilized it.

ELAINE:  They got up so early in the morning.

CLEO:  Oh yes.  On Mondays, if I couldn’t see.  When I got up and looked out the back door, if I couldn’t see Mrs. Mitchell’s washing on the line I knew that we’d better go over and see how she was cause that was.

She was up and had it all done before anybody else got up huh?

CLEO:  Yeah, very early risers those people were.

DAVE:  And I went over when, when he died they helped pack him in the house and a couple of duck hunters come along there and I got them to come help me and we packed him and put him in the house in the shed.

CLEO:  And he was just like he was sitting.  He’d had rigor mortis and he was just in a sitting position.  They had him under the arm and he was just sitting when they carried him in.

DAVE:  One of the fellows was a Brunt, he was the Dad to this Dr. Brunt there now that we go to.

ELAINE:  It was not Doc Cunning huh?

CLEO:  Uh huh.

1949 - The New Car

ELAINE:  Tell us about the winter of 48 and 49.  We talked about the car .....tell us about the new car.

CLEO:  Oh, Elaine you tell us about how we went in there.  I’ve forgotten just how.

ELAINE:  We bought a new 1950 Ford car; it was kind of a mint green color.  We knew we were going to get it and we went in to pick it up it didn’t have the seat covers on it.  We hated to bring it home because we didn’t want to ruin the seats.  In those days, you wore the seat covers out, but you never saw the seats of the new car.  And so, Mother and you stayed in to bring the car home and the next day.  You were going to bring it home the next day and the rest of us went home to do the chores.  Grandma and Great Grandma were staying with us and we went home, and then that’s when the storm came up and you stayed in town.

CLEO:  We stayed with Aunt Sarah, Kay and I and it was Kay’s 10th birthday and I remember I took her out and bought her a camera for her 10th birthday and we went to a show, it was Father Knows Best.  And then we thought, and then we just stayed and waited and listened to the radio to see what in the world, when we could get home and when it finally cleared up and they thought we could make it, we started out and we got as far as Gerard’s and we couldn’t go any farther because the roads from the Mud Lake store out to where we lived were just absolutely level.  There was no travel of any kind on the roads.

I remember we walked over the hedge to get in the house.  We didn’t have to.  The hedge and the fence were all covered with snowdrifts and we just walked right over the top to get to the house.

CLEO:  So we left our new car at Gerards until spring.  It was a long, long time before we got that car home and Eldon came and got us in the Jeep and he came on the ditch bank to get us.

Do you remember about feeding cows in that, was it pretty hard to get around?

DAVE:  Oh yeah.  We got, we’d around some way.

CLEO:  You had sleds didn’t you?  Sled and horses.

DAVE:  Yeah.

CLEO:  You couldn’t have gone with the truck that year.

DAVE:  We had a team, a sleigh that we didn’t want to feed them with until later when we got a truck and used it.

1949  - Elaine runs Ben up the Derrick

KAY:  Did you tell them on the tape about running him up the derrick?


ELAINE:  Do you remember Daddy when I pulled Ben up and he’d burned his hands …pulled him up the derrick?

CLEO:  He threw a duck egg.

KAY:  A rotten duck egg.

ELAINE:  No, that was afterwards.

ELAINE:  Bud was stacking, and Ben and some of the guys were bringing the hay in.  I was driving the derrick horse, and they just would holler at me all kinds of things just to get me confused while I was taking the hay up.  So I got so I’d watch the load and just kind of tried to ignore all of the dumb things they were hollering at me until I got the hay up then I’d listen for them to tell me to trip it.  One day, they were hollering and screaming all these things at me and I didn’t realize it, I was pulling Ben up.  He got a half hitch around his leg and had the trip rope through his hands and I got him about half way up the side of the stack when the rope tripped and it burned around his ankles, around his wrist and through his hands.  I remember he had to hold his spoon between two fingers to eat his dinner.  And if Daddy hadn’t been there, I think he would’ve killed me.  He was so angry when he came down and I couldn’t outrun him, and Daddy hollered at him and stopped him from hurting me.  But he got a little bit even because a couple of weeks later I was sitting on the side of the derrick waiting for him to come to the derrick to move it.  All of a sudden, this duck egg hit just above my head and came down and splashed all over the top of my head and it was rotten as heck..  I can still smell it.  It is the worst smell I can ever imagine.  I don’t think limburger cheese or anything could have ever been that bad.  I went into Grandma’s, Grandma Jernberg’s, and she let me wash my hair.  But with all the shampoo and everything, I couldn’t get rid of that smell for several days.  He thought that was funny because he was so angry at me for ….

1949 Anton Tomchock gets Electrocuted

We wanted you to tell us the story about what happened to Anton Tomchock when he got electrocuted.

DAVE:  Huh?

When Anton got electrocuted.

DAVE:  It was a short stove.

Yeah, but what year was that?

DAVE:  I don’t know, what year was it Cleo?

CLEO:  Oh let’s see, what year was that?  Gosh, that was before.  Although you remember it, don’t you Kay?

KAY:  Yeah, I remember it.  I must’ve been about 8 or something, 10.

CLEO:  Elaine probably won’t remember because she was fishing with McCreary’s that day.

How old were you when you were fishing?

ELAINE:  Tell us about Anton, did he work for you?

DAVE:  Yeah, he was running the place.

KAY:  He lived there, down there where Grandma and Grandpa used to live and he was cleaning his stove wasn’t he?

DAVE:  He was cleaning the soot out of the, it was above the oven I believe and it, when they blew it.  Scrapers with the handle on them was touching against his chest when lightning hit the aerial, the radio aerial and come down and hit the stove and then hit him and he caved into it.  His chest about an inch or two caved in.

KAY:  I wasn’t very old, but I remember his wife, Laverne, was that her name?

DAVE:  Yeah.

KAY:  Came through the gate.  She didn’t even open our gate.  She just drove threw it and the wire flew everywhere and then we said there must be something terribly the matter because she came in there so fast and you guys went back down and you came back home and you said that Anton was dead. 

1940 – 1949 Elaine’s Calves and Her Insurance Policies

ELAINE:  Daddy, do you remember when you used to sell me a calf and then give me an insurance policy.

DAVE:  No.

KAY:  We used to do pretty good on raising calves cause Daddy would give us the calf and we’d say that was ours and then when we got ready to sell it and we’d go out and pick out the very best nicest looking one out there and say that one was ours and he never did complain.  He just let us have it.

CLEO:  And he furnished the feed and everything.

KAY:  Yeah.

ELAINE:  He let me buy one one time and that’s when I got the insurance policy because I couldn’t stand to have my money tied up in something that I wasn’t sure was going to live so he made me an insurance policy and that calf died and I didn’t ever have to pay for it.

CLEO:  Must’ve been one of the little weak runts.

KAY:  I remember one year I went to the sale and bought a calf.  I went with you and we bought a calf for $60 which was quite a bit of money.  And then cattle went down and we kept her for a couple of years and she was barren and her ears froze and everything.  We sold her for $60 after we’d had her for two or three years.

CLEO:  Had the use of her.

KAY:  Yeah.  Just got to feed her was all.

CLEO:  Yeah I remember that.  You know I never really thought of that.

1950 Grandpa “Winterizes” the Cows

ELAINE:  What did you used to do with your cows when they got down and couldn’t get up?

DAVE:  Used to have to lift some of them.  I had one, one on the homestead that weekend of spring, got down and I had to get a tripod and a set of pulleys and pull her up on her feet and finally after I, I’d done that for oh a week or so and then I could go out there and all I had to do, I just put the tripod over her and then she’d get up.

CLEO:  Is that the one that drowned?

DAVE:  Then I done that for a week or so and then I went out one morning and she got out and the water was right there and drowned.

CLEO:  Just put her nose in a little puddle.

After all that work.

DAVE:  The water wasn’t very deep, just she had to lay down and drown.

ELAINE:  We used to say that Daddy didn’t feed the cows, he just went out and held them up out there until summer came.

DAVE:  One time I was driving, going up with a load of hay and Tom Mitchell come out and he, he says “I want to go with you and see what you feed them cattle.”  And so he got in my truck and he come back and people, he was telling people afterwards he says “I rode with Dave up to feed the cattle, he just drove around and let them look at the hay and then he brought the hay back.” 

ELAINE:  You were a little stingy with your hay weren’t you?

KAY:  Yeah.

DAVE:  You had to be.

CLEO:  That’s how he made go of it.

DAVE:  The cold ought seemed to pull the cattle through all the time.

ELAINE:  You just wintered them.  We used to call it wintering them.

CLEO:  You didn’t feed them, you just wintered them.

ELAINE:  We used to put that grass hay up, that probably didn’t have much protein or anything in it either did it?

DAVE:  No.  That one winter, I got, we got mowing machines and mowed all the tules[1] up there and piled them up and boy that was a good deal.  They ate on them all winter.

ELAINE:  I remember doing that and I remember thinking “If Daddy would just go plow a stretch around the outside edge so that I could see the end I could handle it” but we’d just get where I thought it was the end and then he’d decide to mow and rake another patch and I thought maybe we were going to be doing that the rest of our lives.

KAY:  It used to be kind of fun.  We’d ride along and take lunch and ride the buck rake and.

KAY:  Those tules used to be really tall up there cause I used to ride the horse through and I couldn’t see over them.

CLEO:  And if you’d lost a cow and go in there, the only way you could see is if she switched her tail.

DAVE:  I went, I was over to sell some cows one time, to take a truckload into market and I went out to get them and the tules, had a cow and I started to bring her home and she ducked around some tules and I couldn’t find her.  I looked all around in them big tules and I couldn’t find her.  I got so I had to get her the next time I sold cattle.  They was so thick I could see if they just moved a little to one side, you couldn’t find them.

KAY:  That’s where I always used to go when Mother cleaned chickens.  I hated the smell of the chickens being cleaned so whenever they got busy cleaning chickens, I’d saddle up the horse and go up and ride around in the tules until they got all through and then I’d come back.

The “Quarter” Horse

KAY:  Tell me about the horse you put the quarter in.  What was his name and how come you put the quarter, we had that horse around there for a long time, that work horse that had a quarter underneath his skin?

DAVE:  I don’t know that.

How come you put the quarter in there?  Who did that?

DAVE:  I don’t remember.  I don’t remember much about it.  I remember we put the quarter in there.

Well, he was Sweeney or something.

DAVE:  Huh?

KAY:  We had a Sweeney.

KIM:  What’s that?

CLEO:  Ask Daddy what a Sweeney is.

KAY:  What’s a Sweeney?

DAVE:  A Sweeney when you’re working, the shoulder kind of caves in a little bit, the muscles, put a quarter in to try to something needed in there to irritate it I guess.

Thought maybe the quarter would build it back up huh?

DAVE:  Have to irritate it so, it needs to be irritated.

KAY:  I remember after the horse died, Ben and I went out with a knife and tried to find the quarter and we never could find it.  We went to see if it was still there.


[1] A tule is any of various large bulrushes  especially : a tall sedge (Schoenoplectus acutus synonym Scirpus acutus) of North America that grows in dense stands along freshwater wetlands.  The roots and seeds of tule, a reed that grows along shorelines and in the shallows, were eaten and the reeds themselves were used to make baskets, cord, sandals and clothing.