Friday, March 26, 2010

MEMOIRS--Chapter eleven--Working ourselves to death in Salt Gulch


Chapter eleven

It is always difficult to get to the downside of molesting which is its bad effect on you. I became a rabid little masturbator which I was sure nobody else my age was. The only one I could think of who might have shared this habit with me was my cousin Ray two years older. He had taught me how to do it on the fence a few months before he had to leave town with his disgraced father. I was sure that he had some older teachers of sexual activities just as I did. He was too obsessed. His mother found his behavior very disturbing, and I was sure that his father's behavior with the young neighbor girl while drinking would not do him any good either, any more than my father's behavior while drinking was doing me. I pretty much attributed my interest in masturbating at the age of six to being awakened by the intimacy of my sexual encounter with Bill. Well, he actually had not hurt me as in pain, but the abduction had certainly been violent. I had no choice in the matter.
But I had made up my mind that if Bill ever bothered me again I would have to tell to save my own life. He had just gotten extremely scarey. I was sitting there thinking that last day in the corn this might be the day I died. I thought of stories I had heard of other little girls who had been similarly abducted but were never seen again. If I ever got home, I was going to have to do something different and I had done that, at least, but now I was masturbating on a regular basis.
I hoped I could keep it a secret because surely only little girls driven mad by bad men did it. I was probably as bad or worse than some of the older boys at school who would run at you and say words like 'fuck.'
LaRell, the only boy in the first grade who come to think of it might have been held back because he had been such a slow reader, did not do it. He came from a religious family. I knew my religious cousin, Winolia, a year older, probably did not even know what the word meant. I stayed to her house a time or two and every night, her dad, my Uncle Joel, who eventually became the bishop, would kneel down and pray the longest time. It was almost laughable to think of my dad doing such a thing.
Uncle Joel moved to Boulder at the behest of his brother, my Grandfather Wilson. Grandpa's dad had died when he was eighteen and he had always kind of looked after his younger brothers. My Aunt Ira, his wife, did not much care for Boulder, but recognized that her husband Joel was such a good man, he was needed among the outlaws of Boulder, including my dad, the husband of his niece, Irene. Mother could almost shed tears over her Wilson relatives and their religious calling as compared to the skeptical King sons who were all rapidly coming to a bad end.
Grandpa Wilson was not as earnest and good as his brother Joel. He had been very handsome as a slender young man, and had an eye for the ladies as they had for him. Grandmother Wilson acted like she was still trying to fight off the ladies, especially now that he was in such demand as the 'Doc' who could deliver babies even better than the local midwives.
LaRae was going to be a year old that winter. She was so cute and smart, and was already making us laugh so hard with her witty remarks as she was to do all her life. And such thick hair she had, everyone marveled over it. Her eyes were bigger and her eye lashes longer than mine. And she had kind of a roman nose, but forever elegant. I was afraid she was going to be the beauty of the family. I did have blond hair which kept me in the limelight, just barely, but I could see my nose was going to be kind of fat and snub like Grandma Wilson's and Margie's was going to be long and sharp like my Grandmother King's nose, which people said was a witch nose. Grandma had a sharp tongue like a witch, too, but was very kind to her grandchildren. She only spoke sharply to Daddy's drunk buddies who she hoped were to blame for leading her son astray, who was older than they were, for gosh sakes! If anything it was the other way around. Daddy was the bad influence. But you cannot reason with mothers who cannot see faults in their sons. Margie's tongue was rather sharp, too, she loved to quarrel with me, but my temperament was more like my Grandma Wilson's. I was always the last one in the crowd to get mad. I always thought about whether I could afford the price I might have to pay.
I could not help but overhear all my mother's worries about getting pregnant again too soon. I hoped that she and Daddy would be able to control themselves as much as she did because you cannot imagine the work she had to do in Salt Gulch while Margie and I tended LaRae. Daddy and she decided to plant a huge garden every year. You could hardly restrain Daddy from planting stuff to cause the ladies in the family a lot of work, a big potato patch, but Mother was just as eager to keep him busy with a big patch of field corn, and when Daddy found out how well alfalfa grew in Salt Gulch he and Mother were improving the land until he had nothing but work, work, work from dawn to dusk. Nobody else could set the irrigation water well enough to please him. He hardly had time to get drunk on the weekend.
That fall I was in school when they had the threshing crew over. I was very sorry I had to miss the threshing because it was fascinating. In those days the men would use something called a binder to put the grain into sheaves which were stored in a stack. When the thrasher came and was pulled in place by two teams of horses if I remember right, there would be an awful racket coming from the engine of the thresher and straw would be flying out one end of it as a man sacked the threshed grain which was hauled to the grainery and poured into bins.
This was when Mother really found out Margie was so allergic to grain, hay, and such, it was not even safe for her to be out around it. If her wheezing even scared Mother, you can believe it was bad. You had to be about dead to scare Mother. She would still act like, well, if you die, we will bury you and go on. I have never seen such a tough woman.
Anyway, Mother had to outdo herself with a delicious meal to feed the hay and the thresher crews. Daddy had to hire an extra hand when I refused to drive the team. I hated to let him think I had turned chicken but I just was not going work anywhere with Bill.
We had the flood the last of May which I already wrote about. I did so hate to write about the molesting. And even worse have to admit I became a masturbater. I doubted if any mother would have let their children play with me if they had known it.
And Bill was still hanging around working for Daddy I suppose hoping he might stumble across me out of sight of my mother or my dad but he never caught me again. I made sure I was as safe as possible with such a devil on the place. Even if I had to stay in the house and wash dishes instead of driving the team when I was six.
I don't know when I found out that Mother was pregnant again!
It must have been a black day for everybody. Margie and I already had to tend LaRae for hours while Mother filled what seemed to me like hundreds of bottles of corn, string beans, tomatoes, peaches, apples, apricots, and pottawatamie plum jam out of the wild ones that grew in Salt Gulch. Oh, if they did not chop her enough wood she would even give the hired men hell. She told Daddy not to plant as many tomatoes next year as she was not going to bottle all the ones that were going to waste ever again! Course she had to make extra bread to feed the hay crews. I will tell you the job of a country woman with no electricity or running water in the house never ended.
She would even send Margie and me to carry big buckets of water from the ditch, and she about came to blows with Daddy because he did not build her a trough to carry the water a little closer to the house. She hardly even had time to jump in a vehicle and go to Boulder to get the mail, which Daddy complained she liked to do for hours. But he somehow always found time to disappear on the weekend to drink. I could see that Daddy thought the only way you could get any time off as a country farmer and rancher was to get drunk. That is the way he had been defying his father for a day off for years and he continued to do it, especially after he was married, acquired a ranch, and was his own damned boss.

The top painting of Salt Gulch is the dream one my Aunt Neta painted, whose dad homesteaded the ranch. The second one is how the house looked when we lived there, a dose of reality.

The little cowboy made by the talented Connie is how people picture the innocence of all little cowboys and girls everywhere.

The last picture is of steers getting fat in green pastures to be sold in the fall, how Daddy made his money, painted by the little baby, LaRae, in the memoir when she grew up to be a good artist until she up and died over twenty years ago. She was a victim of that hard life too. She died, didn't she?


Jeanie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeanie said...

How dreadful that your childhood was taken from you in such a way!
Jeanie xx said...

You were way too young, but so smart. I never caught all the behaviors you did. I was protected by you, who knew danger existed.

DB said...

This brings to mind so many things I've never written about. I wonder if I ever will. You have courage. said...

I love the painting of the cows as part of this entry on Salt Gulch.
It fits! There is a good mix of photo and that actual photo of the old ranch house is reality beside the Aunt Oneta's painting. Nothing like being born 10 miles from the town of Boulder, which is no prize.

Connie said...

WoW La Rae Had real talent as a painter ,also. Such a talented lot you all are...and well yeah--she's still here-in 'spirit'


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