Friday, April 16, 2010

MEMOIRS--Chapter 19--Moving back to Boulder when I was 9


Chapter nineteen

Oh what a busy bunch we were when we moved to the new house in Boulder, in a place Grandpa King always said was 'God's Country'. Daddy seemed glad to be living back home. He got busy building corrals and the barn after having fenced his share of the pasture off. I thought he seemed very satisfied about what he had been able to get his dad to agree to him taking. Mother said, however, that Cecil who was now working for Grandpa King was angry over having the pasture divided up, only another way a rich man's son was given the chance to get ahead while a poor hired man had to labor away at the King ranch taking all kinds of responsibility, unable to earn anything but a wage he could hardly live on. When he was drinking, Mother snorted Cecil liked to call himself Cecil 'King,' but he would just have to accept that he wasn't a King. Mother was after all the rich man's son's wife, and Grandpa had given her the land free and clear she said in case she had to divorce Clyde. At least she thought that's what he had done. Years later, it was discovered that Grandpa never recorded the land at the court house as having change hands, but since it had long been in Clyde's possession it was transferred because he had sold out to an out of town buyer when his lungs got so bad he could no longer work hard.
As far Mother, she seemed beside herself in a new situation alive with all kinds of possibilities. In fact, she could not get her store building constructed fast enough and decided to open a one room store as had existed at the cheese factory in hers and Daddy's bedroom down stairs. Daddy when he heard about this plan, shouted as was his wont when he heard something that greatly disturbed him, for a couple of days. I was not happy with this plan either, as Mother and Dad were going to have to move upstairs where we girls slept. That was like sharing our sleeping space with two giant ogres apt to break into horrible roars at any given moment. In fact, I recall a most disturbing dialogue taking place up there the night before Mother was to go out to Richfield to have some some sort of medical procedure. I heard her shouting to Daddy, “Hurry up and get it over with!” Conversations coming from my parents of this nature were very disillusioning but I hoped that the store building would soon be finished and they would move back down stairs far enough away from me that I could not hear any noises whatsoever resembling sex.
In fact for years, if I woke up and heard any noise that sounded like sex to me I would not be able to sleep even though it was very unlikely I could have heard anything from my bedroom coming from theirs down stairs. It might be from the wind blowing a branch of a tree strong enough against the window to make a rubbing noise. Once you have been traumatized by sounds of sex emanating from your parents accompanied by curses you are not going to recover very fast, probably not until you leave their home.
Anyway, Mother said that Daddy was spending so much money drinking she had no choice but to open a store as fast as possible to earn some money.
And she also had to earn money to employ a local carpenter practically full time for the next three years. Mother decided she did not like the staircase ascending to the top of the stairs in front of her and Daddy's bedroom, so she ordered it turned around. The carpenters were weeks doing that job. They also fenced off the front room, as Mother said the big long open room into the dining area was too cold. Eventually the staircase started in the dining room to the side of the bathroom door and was enclosed instead of open. All the spaciousness of the big open room with a visible staircase was gone, but Mother was happy with her decision--for a while.
Daddy fenced in a garden plot and fertilized it and also an orchard spot, all with Mother prodding him. She said he wouldn't have gotten around to all this for weeks without her insistence he do it now! Mother ordered trees. They built a shed eventually for machinery and a cellar to store potatoes, apples, and winter squash.
I hadn't lived there very long at all when I took a little walking tour of the pasture and over the fence saw a neighbor, a big kid about four years older than I was, who spotted me and walked toward me as fast as he could. He called, “Do you want to fuck?” I whirled around and hurried back home as fast as I could go. Another SOB molester! I knew I was going to have to watch out for that kid!
The worst damn thing about the place was the fact that we had no water running into the house yet, and we had to start carrying it from the ditch from past the front yard. Washing was an all day job, carrying buckets of water from the ditch, filling an outside tub, and heating the water, then carrying it onto the back porch where the washer was set up. Then we would carry more water from the ditch to the porch to fill the rinse tub. After Mother had taken us through the process a few times, she told Margie and me that would be our job from now on every Saturday!
By the time we had done it a few times, I came up with the plan of taking turns so we could not quarrel so much. By the time I was ten and Margie was nine we did the family wash all the time, with no help from Mother thank you, sometimes as high as eight batches of clothes, and carrying all the water.
Mother had plans for a cistern and promised us little hardworking washerwomen that soon we would be able to use a hose to fill the tubs instead of carrying the big heavy buckets.
Incidentally I knew that no other woman in town would have expected such young kids to do the family wash, but Mother meant it when she said that with five daughters she should not have to do any house work at all! All the other mothers worried about tattle tale gray sheets, but Mother did not care as long as they got washed.
Since Linda was still a toddler and Ann a year and half older than she was, and LaRae, two years older than Ann, it looked like Margie and I were going to get worked about to death before the other three could earn their keep.
What made me the maddest was Mother not washing the dishes from the big noon dinner. There they would be when Margie and I came home from school, and we would have to wash those before we could start supper. Mother cooked breakfast. I guess she washed the breakfast dishes when we went to school. And she would iron most of the clothes. We used heavy stove irons and did the 'easy' flat stuff. She always ironed Daddy's shirts. After a while she got so sick of the old stove irons, she bought an iron that ran on white gas. When she lit that thing a flame would shoot up clear to the ceiling. I would run outside! I would not touch that iron, and Mother could not get me to.
Now other than these chores Mother was not a fussy housekeeper. In fact, we used to joke that the kitchen floor often looked as though chickens had the run of the house. Stuff would be spilled all over the floor, and apparently everybody was too tired to mop most days. Upstairs, after Mother and Dad moved back into their bedroom, would usually be one unholy mess with clothes scattered everywhere. Mother had this one storage closet where trunks of old clothes were kept that the little kids loved to drag out to play dress-up. Mother never even looked upstairs most days. Once in a while she might go up there and scream and holler at everybody while she cleaned it up, with our help of course.
Eventually the carpenter finished the store building enough for Mother to move in and the cistern really did get built in another year or so, only it was another big chore to fill it. Somebody had to sit there most of day and watch it so they could turn it off when it was full. Only another task to do among so many more.
I preferred to water the garden and orchard to working in the house. I always liked the outdoor work the best. I preferred Daddy as a boss rather than Mother because he wasn't so prone to run off. Mother would no more than get us started on some big job and someone would ring the store bell and she would be gone until it was done.
I know as soon as we moved to Boulder I was just as hot to trot as Mother was to get everything done I had planned. I asked Daddy if he would let me and Barbara Coleman ride horses to camp out over night to our pasture. I was nine. I thought I had enough experience by now handling horses. I had only been up there once helping to drive cattle, but I was sure I could find it again. He said we could, so I went down and got Buttons, a big tame gray horse they were now using for a pack horse. I rode Old Don I believe. Barbara and I set out riding the eight miles to King's pasture. We forgot the matches and had to go back a mile, and then we stopped for some worms along a ditch bank Daddy showed me. I loved the neat summer camp the Kings kept at the pasture Grandpa said we could use.

We did just fine until we discovered when morning came that Buttons had pulled loose from the tree where we tied the horses up, as Daddy said to do, and was gone. We finally found him down to the bottom of that 460 acre pasture running around with some other horses. We chased him and chased him but we could not get close enough to grab the rope he was dragging. I knew Daddy would just kill me if we did not come back with Buttons. I finally thought to go look for some oats, and sure enough there was a nose sack there I filled with some oats. Buttons just loved oats and let us walk right up to him shaking that nose sack.
After such a stressful morning we did not even want to try to catch any fish, so we just went on back home.
I think that is all that happened of interest when I was nine.

God's Country header made by Connie. A green Boulder taken some years after we moved back. My sister Linda sitting in a wagon in front of the new house. (It is labeled my sister Margie, but that is a mistake) Linda was down by the ditch. This picture by my sister LaRae looks as though it could have been painted in King's Pasture.

2 comments: said...

You are getting older and working harder! No wonder there was no time to play. We had to take those times and run for the hills.
Good entry.

Bohemian Cowboy said...

I loved reading this entry, it seems the more you write on your memoirs, the more definitive your style is. Its a very easy and interesting read. I'm keeping them all in a file on my computer. I'm learning so much about Boulder and family, and its interesting how certain things in the writing just 'stick with me'. Thank you for doing this, as always, a son is always informed about his own identity through his mother's writing, making such a complete picture... still in Phoenix, but I need to go soon...


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