Saturday, March 13, 2010

MEMOIRS--Chapter four--Little sister to come


Chapter four

Mother was pregnant with the first child she would be having in four and a half years. I had become aware that she had aborted her third child, conceived not too long after Margie was born because she just could not bear to have another child so close. She asked an aunt to send her a catheter to start labor. Since her dad was living close by now she thought he would be able to stop the bleeding if she got into trouble. I got alarmed about her state of mind when she said one day that she would not be able to go to heaven like the rest of us because she had sinned. I asked her why and she more or less told me what she had done to our little brother or sister. She did not go into many details then, but I knew quite well she was constantly upset over my dad's drinking and thought her family had no idea what it was to live with such a terrible alcoholic.
Everybody was always trying to figure out why my dad carried his drinking to such extremes. I was, too. I didn't see how any wife could be expected to put up with how he drank, as fond as I was of him.
He had even gone out and gotten drunk as she was giving birth to me in Salt Lake. It seemed that nothing was important enough to slow him down. I tried to comfort her the best I could. She said that her sin had even caused her to lose twin boys in a miscarriage following the abortion, because her uterus was 'unstable' as she put it.
I knew the towns people who learned about her abortion looked down on my mother for doing it, but I figured they did not know how extremely she had been tried. If they had not been there to comfort her and get involved in the family troubles I did not think they had a right to point the finger. Mother was having a tough enough time as it was in her unhappy marriage as well as imagining she was damned to hell forever. I thought she was plenty sorry and to prove it she was now having her third child without doing a thing to herself.
But she had not even had LaRae yet when another tragedy hit the King family again due to the alcoholism that plagued the King sons and some of the grandsons. Glen, the oldest son, who was running the Salt Gulch ranch had become a bad drinker. His wife Hazel lived in Escalante just as my grandmother did so her seven children could attend Escalante schools. They had already lost a little red headed son with pneumonia when I was three or four. I only remember seeing Ward twice before he died.
I used to see Uncle Glen quite often who would come to see his folks, sometimes dining at the main ranch house and arguing politics like all the King men did at the dinner table. Well, I knew he had a drinking problem, and I thought that his youngest son Ray was getting quite a sexual education in Escalante outside of church and school, which he would try to teach Margie and me as fast as he could when he visited. He taught me to masturbate on the fence when I just turned five and he was just showing us how mothers and dads did it in the grainery when his mother came and grabbed him by the ear and told us that she would tell our mother and dad on us, too.
I was very relieved when neither my mother or dad said anything to us, even though Ray got an awful ear pulling from his mother and he might have gotten even worse when his dad saw him. He was two years older than I was, so I was not able to resist his teaching very well. I thought he needed disciplining all right, but I was not sure that an ear pulling and terrible scolding would even do the job.
Now it seemed that his dad was in even worse trouble. A local girl from Salt Gulch who also went to high school in Escalante since there was no high school provided for the children of Boulder caught rides home to see her folks however she could. Glen had been drinking when she asked him for a ride to Salt Gulch from Escalante which is what led to the terrible trouble that followed. He and the girl were seen under a tree by a local rancher who called the girl's mother. She confessed that Glen had made sexual advances to her and since he was in his forties and had seven children and she was an underage teen, it was obvious a crime had been committed. The parents were very upset but agreed that if Glen would leave the country they would not prosecute him and go for imprisonment since he had a large family.
I woke up at the cheese factory house one morning to hear that Uncle Glen and Aunt Hazel had spent the night at our house and had gotten into a terrible fight. He had been drinking heavily and the upshot of it was that he chased her down the lane trying to catch her and choke her.
His life had virtually ended as a family man, that was plain to see. The family packed up and left with the four younger children, including Ray. Roma was to go to my aunt Neta's where she lived the next four years. Aunt Neta was my dad's sister. Park and Stuart, the two oldest sons, were left behind to Grandpa's. It would be decided later on if they would join the family after they had gotten settled and Glen had found work. I believe Uncle Glen did find a job for a while, but the drinking and the quarreling continued. Eventually Uncle Glen and Aunt Hazel separated, and he went to his death some years later under suspicion of suicide.
I wondered if such a fate was in store for our family as the quarrels were much the same, not quite so violent, since Daddy was a little less hot tempered I think than his brother Glen, but he was still mean.
But guess who was going to buy the Salt Gulch ranch, not just lease it as Uncle Glen had done, but out right buy it? My father once again prodded by my determined mother who recognized opportunity when she saw it talked to his dad and struck a bargain. His dad probably had little faith in a hard drinking son but I am sure he had more in his determined daughter-in-law, Irene.
She could soon see that Daddy thought cheese making was beneath him, and it was very hard for her to climb up the ladder to let the steam out of the boiler when she was pregnant, let alone with a baby crying for her, so she looked around for a way that Daddy could be inspired to make a better living for them, and she could be just a hardworking country wife again.
The one thing my dad could do while still drinking was cowboy and farm. He had been doing that for years, ever since his dad despaired of him ever finishing his university course to become a lawyer. I could not see my dad ever becoming a lawyer either. He was just too country. He could not even drive in the city without getting picked up for running red lights, after all those years. Rules were made to be broken was his philosophy of life.
Grandpa was probably a little that way, too, which was why he had gone off in the wilds to homestead Salt Gulch ranch. And later took the chance to add to his holdings by buying his Boulder ranch, which was a jewel ranch anyway you look at it. That way he could do as he pleased with no questions asked.

He probably thought since he had taken a solemn vow never to drink and smoke, naturally his sons wouldn't either. But that is where he miscalculated. His sons smoked 'bull durm' when still tots and drank everything around the place with alcohol in it. Grandma had to hide her bottles of the vanilla she liked because her boys would drink it all for its alcoholic contents and there would be none at all for her cakes.
I don't know what I would have done with such boys. Grandma preached to them day and night and that did no good. They were impervious. I do not think the world has yet discovered what to do to keep rebellious boys from giving their parents fits. Grandpa King still whipped his grown son Clyde with a bull whip. He had even attempted to give his mentally ill son Reed a lashing with the bull whip when they were punching cattle, and my dad, convinced that the bull whip would cause Reed to get even more unhinged, rode between them and took the lashing from his dad, who really hit him hard for interfering and implying he was a cruel dad. Grandpa had once even hit my Dad's pet dog with a shovel and killed him because he would not let go of a calf when told to 'siccem.' Daddy told mother his dad knew a bulldog would not let go, so he never should have taken him. He was a long time forgiving his dad killing his beloved dog, and I don't blame him.
Anyway, Mother was very relieved when she was able to turn the cheese factory over to Uncle Reed and Aunt Thirza to see if they could run it. Uncle Reed needed to make a living somehow for his growing family. He would not work for his dad. And once again before you could wink an eye we found ourselves living in the Salt Gulch house, with an agreement with Grandpa King to buy it. Otherwise Mother said she would not be any part of it. She also told Grandpa, she said proudly, that he was not to go after Daddy with a bullwhip anymore. I was surprised. I thought as mad as she got at Daddy, she would have enjoyed Grandpa whipping him to straighten him up. But I guess she didn't. People are funny that way.
Did Daddy drink because he got savagely whipped or did he drink because Grandma spoiled him? In Salt Gulch I was doomed to start thinking about what made Daddy tick day and night. I came to think that how sane Daddy stayed would determine the fate of the whole family. If he drank himself to death we would all go down. Or at least, we would have a far worse time than we already did. Mother was not stable. She did not like kids all that well. Daddy was the best parent, bad as he could be at times. She needed him to keep her in line, and he needed her and his family to inspire him to stay alive. Poor Uncle Glen. I was not surprised when he decided life was no longer worth living after he was banished for good from his Utah home and wife and family.

Connie's beautiful imaginative header of the land of the Daughters of the Shadow Men. King sons when young in top photo. Uncle Reed when he was on a Mormon mission. Uncle Glen when he was a soldier in World War I. Boulder including the Emerald green jewel King ranch. Carol King, Reed's daughter with the bad heart defect, and me. Carol died when she was 8 when she acquired chicken pox.


Paula said...

I like the pictures of you when you were a little girl. I like the hair cut. So cute.

LaRena said...

You really have some great old pictures and I think placing them as you go along with your story is a stroke of genius. It helps to make your story come alive. Most books just stick them together in the middle which I don't think is nearly as affective as the way you have chosen to do them. I am really caught up in your story as I got bits and pieces from Grandma and Grandpa Halls brief comments. It is very nice to have all the happenings put together and I am impressed with how much work you have done. Ddid you have most of these early chapters written in your journals? They don't really sound like that and are very fresh and readable. I'm excited about how many people will be enjoying your story.

Connie's header is lovely and seems to have just the right feel to start such a chapter. She is very creative and a friend to be cherished.

Amrita said...

Are you going to publish this in book form, your family and geneations to come will appriciate it. said...

Did you talk about Max dying? Didn't this with Glen happen after Max's death? I'm trying to get the time line again. Interesting chapter. said...

Lovely Header...Connie's doing great!


Blog Archive