Friday, March 12, 2010

MEMOIRS--Chapter three-- Little Uncle Bill


Chapter three

Margie and I had another fall from a horse with a relative on board, only this time it was our little Uncle Bill, two years younger than I, and one year younger than Margie. Grandma and Grandpa Wilson and little Uncle Bill had moved to Boulder, they thought for good. Grandpa bought a house and a small ranch property, but they said they might have to leave in the winter to work so they could be sure to pay the mortgage until they could make enough money around Boulder. Grandpa Wilson had a lot of skills including delivering babies so it wasn't long until “Doc” Wilson was in demand among poor Boulder ladies who could not afford to go over the mountain to give birth. Grandpa had also been to chiropractor's school, but country folks weren't as apt to go to get their backs adjusted as city folks, so that wasn't going to buy many groceries. Grandpa had set up a sawmill years before close to the mountain and spent summers sawing lumber.
He had even spent one summer with his family on the road years before sharpening knives and putting on shows to earn money for his family's supper. They did not need lodgings as they camped out. In case they made no money that day, Grandma made Lumpy Dick, which was a pioneer dish made from flour and milk stirred into lumps, brought to a boil, and eaten with sugar and cream (if they had any). Daddy thought it was the worst dish he ever ate, but we children liked eating real poor people's food. We made Lumpy Dick when Daddy was camped out on his winter ranges or gone to party. I did think it was no wonder Mother married Daddy, no matter his reputation, as the Kings were known for the fullest cellars in town.
If all else failed Grandpa could still teach school, which he decided to do the first year, only no school teacher's job opened up in Boulder so he took one in Escalante. It was still summer though, and he and Grandma were working very hard ranching. Grandma had to bottle the pie cherries off five trees in their newly acquired orchard, as she was not inclined to let any food go to waste.
Grandpa was the largest man in town at that time, and I thought he didn't need cherry pie to eat all winter but you could not stop women of Mormon pioneer stock from bottling until they dropped. I am sure Grandpa got heavy from eating poor people's food and hardly a speck of meat except what deer he could shoot. He was always a fisherman, too. Mother gave them a ham now and then when they lived in the city, but she resented doing that because Grandpa so highly disapproved of Daddy's drinking he could hardly be in the same room with him.
I had a great deal of sympathy for my little Uncle Bill because he had been born a change of life baby, and people said that Grandma no longer had the oomph to make a kid. She and Grandpa had been so careful for fifteen years, after their last son Kent was born, who was one of the most brilliant fellows ever related to anyone in that country. I don't know how else to put it, but Bill was slower than the rest of them, but it always bothered me a little because both Mother and Uncle Kent and possibly the other family members, too, acted so embarrassed and ashamed of little Uncle Bill they hardly even claimed him! Grandpa and Grandma, however, were kind and patient with their little son. I am sure Grandpa did not whip him. So he had gotten a lot less cruel in his old age.
Grandma had this long story she used to tell almost every time she had a chance about the terrible birth of little Bill when she was 52 years old, and how he was born two months or maybe it was three premature, was little enough to fit in a shoe box, and had to be so carefully nursed to save his life. Oddly enough whenever she told this story I always had the feeling she had disconnected from little Uncle Bill. She never seem able to concentrate on him even when he was right in the room with her other times, either.
All of a sudden I realized that my mother always told about my birth the same way! At first she said she was in labor 36 terrible hours when her uterus just would not dilate, and then after I heard the story a few times I realized she had increased the labor to 76 hours of terrible agony and I was shocked to hear her say she even visited the valley of the shadow of death. I think I ran outside about then. Otherwise I figured I could never bring myself to have sex and give birth to a child.
Mother never focused on me either without saying something like, 'Get your hair out of your eyes! I am going to have to cut off that damned hair. Bring me the scissors.” Mother 's hair was curly so she did not realize that her children with straight hair might grow their hair over their eyes practically overnight. She could hardly contain her endless disgust with my hair. If it was long she would braid it, pulling it as hard as she could so the braids would not fall out.
I was a natural blond like my dad, and everyone was always exclaiming over the color of my hair, so I think that is why Mother would cut it off so short. I was never allowed to just let it hang. She had to compete with a natural blond from the time I was born. My dad tried not to make a fuss over me, but Mother's jealousy made me uncomfortable, and I wondered if going so many places with him could lead to trouble.
Well, yes, it did, but I promised myself I would not mention a word of my troubles with men until we moved to Salt Gulch. I hate to think about that part of my life. I always compare it to a black bog.
Anyway, Margie and I took little Uncle Bill down to the ranch and either Grandpa King or the hired men gave us a gentle old horse to ride. We didn't take the saddle. We rode our horse bareback because there were three of us. I was holding the reins guiding him and that darned horse took a notion to go on the trail beside the road where there was a deep gully. He went down into the gully and when he came back out all three of us slid down his back and hit the ground.
It hurt enough we all got up screaming. Besides I was scared that I might be responsible for breaking little Uncle Bill's bones taking him horseback riding when he was so young. He was just a toddler. Well, that is what happens to tots who insist on riding horses. Mother and Grandma came running down the road and hurriedly checked us out. Grandma was a trained nurse, and she pronounced us okay.
I think that was the last time, however, she let her son go with Margie and me off down to Grandpa King's to see if we could borrow a horse. Maybe she did not actually think Grandpa would accommodate us, but I was mighty crazy about horses and could be very persuasive. I knew Grandpa King would give anybody a horse to ride if they asked for one. He liked anybody who loved horses.

Gerry, Margie, and Clyde King (Daddy) in top photo, sitting on the back steps of the old ranch house, Grandma and Grandpa Wilson second photo. Grandma and little Uncle Bill in third. Grandpa King on his horse "Shake Hands" acquired from the circus (he could do tricks) and his hired men branding calves.

5 comments: said...

The pictures work. It's not easy to get in all the happenings of the times. said...

The pictures work. It's not easy to get in all the happenings of the times. said...

The pictures work. It's not easy to get in all the happenings of the times.

Cathy said...

O what a charming read this is! BTW I got the same "hair out of your eyes" thing from my Mom lol. This is truly enjoyable, I'd say it's what journals are for.

LaRena said...

This chapter is not onkly charming but also touching. You are doing a great job and I am sure your book will become a great treasurte to your children. Keep up the good work Gerry.


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