"My 2nd & 3rd Grades"
Me, about age 7 & 8
At age 7, we moved from that big old hotel in Monegaw to a farm house closer to the school where my dad was teaching. It was known then as "The Estice Place". The new school was the "Chalk Level" school and was 1-3/4 miles from our new residence. I can't remember much about this year, because I was so homesick for Monegaw and my friends. Only two or three incidents stick in my mind.
First, my parents hired "Shorty" Malicoat to move our stuff from Monegaw to the Estice Place. Shorty, or more likely Shorty's dad, Frank, had a rather large truck with stock rack sideboards on it. That truck got loaded down, and we started up the "Club House Hill" which was the main road going east out of Monegaw. That road was gravel, had a lot of rocks, and at one spot near the top was very steep. The truck was so loaded on the back that Shorty could not steer, the front wheels were so near to lifting off the road. Shorty stopped and my Dad sat on the front fender to add enough weight to the front wheels so they could finally make it up that hill. (Years later our school bus had the problems in that spot. Not from the front wheels lifting, but from snow and ice. Us kids would get out and pretend to push the bus, when in reality we were trying to hold it back. It always made it somehow.)
After starting the second grade in the Chalk Level school, my parents discovered that I could not read a word after my first grade in Monegaw. What an embarrassment - the school teacher's kid could not read! So, they decided each day after school, in addition to my regular school work, I would study my Reader, at home, with their help, for at least one hour. I had no inkling what reading was all about, all those letters in that book looked to me like chicken tracks. They helped me thru that book so many times that instead of reading, I actually memorized what was on each page. When my parents realized what I was doing, they would call out to me while I was out in the yard, "Tip, read page 23". I "read" it perfectly. I had memorized the entire book, page by page. So, they started me on a second grade book, and after awhile, I actually did learn to read.
Wading to School
Another memory of this place was that on the way to school (dad and I both walked) there was a small creek that sometimes flooded the road. My dad would strip off his clothes, put me on his shoulders holding his clothes, and wade across. No one around to see, so no worries!
Another memory, was when the Second World War was just starting. I heard a lot about the Germans and Japanese and the war. Not being knowledgeable about geography, I envisioned them coming across a big pasture to our south. In my mind, I could just see rows of soldiers marching toward our house. I sat out in the yard on many days and kept a wary eye out to the south for the enemy. What I would have done about it if they came, I've no idea. None ever showed up, naturally.
Grandad Carpenter Passes Away
My mother's parents lived on the old family farm, about 10 miles west of Monegaw. I used to go there with my parents and loved to see the livestock and just nose around the place. They lived in an old hand-hewn log house with a shed-like kitchen on the north side, and a living room and another indoor kitchen on the south side. The log part had a steep stairway leading up to a floored attic.
We were told that Grandpa was going to Heaven, and none of us kids knew exactly what it meant, but everyone was crying. After he died my grandmother was left there all alone on that farm with no way to take care of it. My uncle Leslie, with about 6 kids by now, decided to move onto this farm to help grandma run the place. They lived about 6 or 7 miles to the northeast from the farm.
I was probably about five when this photo was taken, and it is the only picture of him I have. I do remember him calling us kids one by one in to his room during his last days, and telling each of us "goodbye". I was the oldest of the grandkids, and well remember him sitting in his old rocking chair during this fairwell - he lived three or four days after this. After his passing, the hearse picked up the body and delivered it to the church and cemetary. It took the "back way" thru the timber to the old iron bridge across Big Monegaw Creek. I specifically remember this, as the hearse got high-centered on the dropoff from the bridge and all the men had to push and push to get it unstuck.
Saga of The Great Cattle Drive
Cousins Jack and Bill were ages 7 and 4 at the time. I was also age 7. Uncle Leslie had three or four cows and a bull that he needed to move to the home place. Us three boys were assigned the job of driving these cows and the bull those 6 or 7 miles. The drive was on dirt roads, and part of the time we had fences on both sides of the road, part of the time there were no fences. We knew the way alright, but the livestock didn't. They would get in someone's corn field, or hay field, on someplace where they didn't belong and we would have to chase them back onto the road, headed in the right direction.
We were half scared of the bull, but he never bothered us. Near the end of this cattle drive was an old iron bridge across Big Monegaw Creek. It must have taken us hours to get those cows to cross that bridge! We finally made it across the creek and the last 3/4 of a mile was thru unfenced timber. just before we got them to the home place, they broke loose and scattered thru that timber. We ran our legs off trying to get them back on the trail, and finally won out! However, in the chase Jack lost one of his shoes, and we looked and looked and never did find it.
After the heartbreak of living in this old farm house, away from my friends for a full year, I was given another big blow to my boyhood. My dad took a teaching job in Appleton City - a good 25 miles from Monegaw! Was there no justice in the world, I probably thought? My parents reasoned with me, and explained it was a necessary move, because my dad would be making a lot more money. They told me his contract would pay him $100 per month! Never had he earned so much! That year was so miserable to me, that I guess I blanked it out. I have few memories of living there, except for the fact that we were not in Monegaw Springs, where I thought we belonged! A lost year in my boyhood.
Visiting My Aunt And Uncle
I had an uncle and aunt (Murlen and Jesie Carpenter) who lived about a mile from my cousins place on the family farm. They lived at the top of a big hill and my cousin Jack had walked over to visit with me. I was staying at my uncle's place for a few days, and Jack and I found several nice things to do. One of the remembered things was we had discovered a horse drawn buggy in a shed. We decided the thing to do was to tie up the tongue of the buggy so it would clear the ground, and we would ride it to the bottom of the hill, thru his sheep pasture. We had it all planned. When we got to the bottom, we were going to hitch up some sheep and have them pull the buggy back up the hill. The sheep didn't like our plan at all. We pushed and shoved that buggy trying to get it back up the hill ourselves, but of course we could not move it. The uncle had to hitch up his horse to go retrieve the buggy. I think our stay was cut short after that.
Visiting My Aunt and Uncle, Again
Right after the event with the buggy, this Aunt and Uncle moved to another farm, right outside of the small town of Taberville, Mo. I spent a lot of happy hours there, as they had a nice farm to rabbit hunt on, a creek to play in, and some small fish was in that creek. Sometimes I was allowed to stay with them for a week or so at a time. In addition, the old home place where my cousins lived that I had so much fun with was only five or six miles away. This meant that at times, my cousins and myself were at this aunt's and uncle's place at the same time.
During one visit when all my cousin playmates were there, my uncle had just finished harvesting his wheat. In those days, the farmers had a thrashing machine come to there farm to "thresh" the grain, and all the left over straw was blown into a nice pile. This pile was relative waterproof, and was used to feed livestock during the coming winters. Well, myself, my cousins, and my Aunt all were exploring this new pile of straw after the harvest was completed. We got to climbing up the straw pile, and sliding down the other side. This was repeated a few dozen times, with my aunt participating with us kids in destroying that pile of feed. We had it scattered all over the place. My Uncle was annoyed, irritated, cross, angry, infuriated, exasperated, irked, piqued, nettled, displeased, put out, and disgruntled with us kids, but he was even more vexed at my Aunt for being part and parcel of the wreckage.!
3rd Grade in Appleton City, and Visiting My Cousins on the Farm
Unmitigated misery. A total waste of a year of my growing-up. The only good memory I have of this place was that it only lasted a year. I think my parents took pity on me, and the next year we moved back to Monegaw! I had no friends there, and really didn't want any!
However, the one bright spot that remains in my memory is this event. My grandmother, who still lived on the home place, along with my cousins had a foot operated upright organ. Our grandmother was gone somewhere, and left all us kids at home. A big mistake. Cousin Jack, cousin Bill, and myself, for some un-rembered reason, decided that organ was taking up too much space in the small house. It was too heavy for us three to move it outside, so we took hammers and broke it into smaller pieces. We got the pieces all outside about the same time our grandma got back home.
Our grandma was a poor person, and had very few nice things in life. This organ was her pride and joy. We were truly remorseful about destroying her prized possession. She told us to remove the wreckage from her sight. We did. We took some tools and retrieved the little pieces which produced the sounds when air was passed thru them, I don't know the name of these parts. These small pieces were put in a bag, and the next time we went fishing in Big Monegaw Creek, about a mile away, we took these pieces with us.
It was our belief that tossing small pebbles into the creek near where our baited hooks were, that it would attract curious fish, which would then bite our bait. We disposed of all these small organ pieces by tossing them into the creek. I suppose they are still there today, as I think they were made of brass or something. Yes, we did catch a nice stringer of fish that day, but I doubt the tossing had anything to do with it.
This is about the time that cousin Jack and I got mad at cousin Bill for some reason. Or, maybe we were bored and just wanted some action, who knows? Bill was four or five years younger than Jack or I. For excitement we took cousin Bill out to the corner of the yard, stripped all his clothes off, and put him up in the fork of a big cottonwood tree. First of all, he could not climb down that big tree, and secondly he didn't want to come down with no clothes on. So he wailed long enough, and loud enough to get grandma's attention. He got rescued, Jack and I got a good whompin. We did have our excitement for the day.
My uncle Murlin had moved from the "home place" but was on a farm about 1/2 mile away. He still farmed a 40 acre field on the home place, and raised corn on it. One spring, he planted his corn in this field, and right afterward, it came a big "gully washer" rain. It washed out a lot of the corn because the ground was very sandy in spots. So, he hired Jack and me to re-plant the washed-out corn.
He gave each of us a hoe and filled our pockets full of corn seed. We were to go down each row, and the places where no corn was coming up, we were to use the hoe handles, punch a hole, drop in a seed, the step on it to cover the seed. The agreed price we were to be paid was starting at 2 cents each, per day. Then, every day after that, the wages were to double. 4 cents the second day. 8 cents the third day. 16 cents the fourth day, 32 cents the fifth day, and 64 cents the sixth day. (I guess this was because each day we became more proficient)
After the sixth day, we got laid off and each of us had $1.24 coming, which he paid. We were rich! Jack and I took our money and walked about 4 or 5 miles to a general store in a small town named Johnson City. We bought all the penny "Kits" candy they had. We ate all we could hold, got sick, ate some more, got sick, etc. Eventually we realized we could not eat all that candy by ourselves, so we took the rest of it to Jack's house and shared with all his brothers and sisters. Believe it or not, I still like "Kits"!