Me, about age 3 or 4
The Water Well Gets Cleaned
We, being myself, my parents (Claude and Marie Coleman), moved from near Lowery City, MO, to a farm about 2 miles west of Monegaw Springs when I was about 3 to 4 years old. This is my first clear memory. My dad, Claude Coleman, had a new contract with a local one room school. I do not remember the name of the school, but it was located about 1/2 mile west of our place, which was known as the "Amp Hopkins Farm". I've been told the name of that school was "Prairie Home School". Our neighbors to the north across some pastures about 1/2 mile were named Bill Thompson, and his wife whose name is forgotten by me.
As we were moving in to this place (which had been vacant for a long time), our neighbors suggested that maybe we should clean the well before we used the water for drinking. This well was hand dug, and rock lined. It was probably about thirty feet down to the water line, with a few feet of water and mud after that. Water was drawn up by a bucket on a rope, over a pulley. No pump, naturally, as there was no electricity.
So, my dad bailed out all the water he could by using the bucket, and when the water was gone, he slid down the rope to put mud in the bucket. My mother and a neighbor were to pull up the mud until the bottom of the well was cleared and clean. Well, after my dad got to the bottom of the well, knee deep in mud, and his eyes adjusted to the dim light, he saw what he did not want to see. A big snake lying on the rocks that was the wall of the well. It was just above his head, looking at him. He froze. He yelled. He panicked. But he could not climb up the rope, and my mother and the neighbor could not pull him up using the rope. He was a big guy, weighing about 210 pounds. I got my first lesson in some strange words that I was told later not to remember.
After awhile, he calmed down and there was a plan
hatched. The neighbor would go to the Thompsons place to get help,
while my mother took care of me and reassured my dad. The neighbor
brought back help, they pulled my dad up out of the well, and that was the
last time I heard anything about cleaning of the well. Well, I do remember
some kidding, but my dad never thought it was funny. Yes, after a few
days, the water cleared up, and we used it. I guess that snake got
out, who knows?
Dog Chases the Rabbit First Time
After we got moved into the house on the Amp Hopkins farm, my dad was busy during the week teaching school at the nearby school house. Things got pretty lonesome around there for my mother when he was gone. No close neighbors, except for the Thompsons about 1/2 mile thru the pasture to the north.
We had a big pet dog named "Rex" who was probably a cross between a German shepard and who-knows-what, but he was a rather large dog, I remember that. So, my dad fixed up a two wheeled cart for me to ride in, and a harness for the dog. He was trained to pull me in this cart whenever we went walking around the place. Frequently my mother would put me in the cart, hitch up the dog, and we would go to the Thompsons for a visit, them being the closest neighbors. This worked just fine. I liked it, the dog liked it, and my mother liked it. It was fun.
Well, winter came. The dog cart had wheels and would not work well in the snow and ice. So, my dad took the wheels off the cart and fastened the seat and harness to a sled. Boy, now that was fun. Worked like a charm.
Now at that time, my dad's sister, Blanche, and her husband, Elmer Sagaser, lived about half way between our house and the town of Monegaw Springs. This was about a mile from our house, and was along a dirt road that crossed the creek on an iron bridge, and up a big hill to their house. (Note: Neither this bridge, nor the road, nor the house is there now. At that time, this road continued along the river, across the big bluff, and on into the town of Monegaw) All traces of this road have since been grown over, and it has gone back to nature.
One day there was to be a gathering of ladies at my Aunt Blanche's house to make quilts and to gossip, as they did in those days. My mother hooked up the sled to the dog and put me in it. A fresh snow and ice storm had just happened, and we set out for the Sagaser place. Me on the sled, the dog happy, and my mother walking, no doubt anticipating some nice gossip. About half way to our destination, the dog spotted a rabbit in the snow. He took off after it, me in the sled, my mother yelling at him like crazy. No use, he was determined to catch that rabbit. I held on. We went through a frozen blackberry thicket. Fortunately, most of the blackberry vines had a thick coating of ice on them, which covered most of the briars. But not all of them.
I got scratched up pretty bad. The dog got a big hollering at, and my mother about had a heart attack. I don't remember what happened to the rabbit, but no doubt he got away. We continued on to my Aunt's house, me looking like I had tangled with a wild cat. All the ladies there thought it was awful, and made quite a scene over me, which I enjoyed to the fullest. I recovered nicely. We went back home the same way we came, and saw no more rabbits. Funny the things you can remember, but this is one of them!
Dog Chases Rabbit, Second Time
After the incident during the winter concerning our pet dog "Rex" pulling me on a sled, we had another experience with this mode of transportation.
As summer approached, my mother decided to take a trip into the Town of Monegaw Springs, about 2 miles from our house. Thru the creek bottoms of Big Monegaw Creek, up a big hill, onto a high road leading to the town. This road went parallel to a big bluff overlooking the Osage River, and is named "Younger's Lookout" in honor of the Younger Brothers who supposedly used the bluff for a hide-out from the law. (This "road" is grown over, and untracable today - it only remains in memory)
Well, we set out, me, my mother, and the dog "Rex" pulling me in the two wheeled cart. Things went smoothly for the first half mile or so, until we were on a dirt path parallel to the Big Monegaw Creek. This is when Rex spotted another rabbit. What a ride - me in the cart, the dog chasing the rabbit, my mother chasing all of us, yelling at the dog to stop.
The chase went off the dirt path, down toward the creek, and over the bank of the creek. On the steep slope, the cart tipped over, and I went tumbling down toward the water. At this point the water was very deep, and the bank pretty steep. I stopped right at the edge of the water. After awhile we all gained our composure enough to continue on our way. My mother was scared to death, and I thought it was a lot of fun. I never did find out what the dog, Rex, thought!
We did continue on to the town, my mother bought some groceries or something, and whatever she bought rode in the cart on the way back home. I had to walk the distance as my mother was scared to let me in the cart again so near to the creek. I found out that a two mile walk when you are 4 or 5 years old is quite a distance!
We had been living in the house on the Amp Hopkins farm for awhile, and had gotten to know, and like, the neighbors to the north. My mother would routinely hook up Rex to the cart and we would go up thru the pasture to visit with the Thompsons. Some evenings we would all go over to the Thompsons and make home made ice cream.
Neither we, nor the Thompsons, had electricity, so during the winter, Mr. Thompson, along with help from neighbors would go down to Big Monegaw Creek and cut ice into blocks. They hauled the ice up to the farm where they had constructed an "ice house". This ice house was inside the barn at one end, and was a big room full of sawdust from a saw mill. The ice from the creek was covered with sawdust several feet thick, and it would last almost all summer. So, when ice cream was to be made, ice was dug out of the sawdust and used in a hand cranked ice cream maker. This whole process of storing ice, in this wonderful barn full of sawdust was a serious attraction for me. Whenever I was free to do so while visiting the Thompsons, I would gravitate toward this nice ice house.
I have previously mentioned the Big Monegaw Creek that was about 1/2 mile down the hill from our house. And, I have previously mentioned the open well that we drew water from out in the yard. What I have not yet mentioned was the fact that our house bordered some heavy woods and brush on one side, and corn fields on another side. There was a pasture in the back, leading to the neighbors. Plenty of places for an adventuous four year old to explore.
So, one day I did disappear. My mother looked all around the house for me. Nope, not there. She ran across the pasture to the neighbors to see if I had gone there. They hadn't seen me. They searched the famous ice house and the sawdust, thinking I may have gone in there, as it was an attraction to me. I think they dug holes in the sawdust thinking I got buried there.
My mother went back home frantic (My dad was gone to his school teaching job) and searched the yard, the outbuildings, everywhere she could think of. Then the well dawned on her - was I drowned in the well? Nope, no sign of me in the well that she could see. About this time, my dad got home, and they both called and looked, and looked, but I was nowhere to be found.
They went into the house to decide what to do. We had little furniture, and they sat on the bed to talk. They heard a sound under the bed, and looked. There I was, I had placed a bunch of canned fruit jars in front of me, and I was hiding behind the jars. All they could see were my eyes. I thought it was a great prank. They did not think so. I was introduced to a switching on my bare legs that made me reluctant to hide again. Yes, I can remember that very well!