THE LIFE OF MALISSA JANE CROW FOSTER
My name is Malissa Jane Crow Foster. I was born February 13, 1873 near Elizabethtown, Hardin County, Kentucky. My parents were Peter Thomas Crow and Catherine Jane Laswell Crow. I was the eighth child born to this union. I had nine brothers and sisters. The oldest was Kate, who in later years married Bryant Anderson. Next was Alice who later married Bert Breashers. The next children were Henry Crow, Lula, Agnes, John (Doc), Will, Malissa, Uriah (Rite) and the youngest Edd.
As a child we lived near my Motherís parents, Uriah Laswell and Polly Slack Laswell. They were my favorite grandparents.
About the first thing I remember as a child was when my baby brother Rite was born. My father, or Pa as we always called him, picked me up and carried me in to see him. He was real red, and I asked Pa where he came from, and he said "it had rained the baby and little fishes".
On one occasion, my mother (Ma) and I went to visit a neighbor we called Aunt Janie Hobbs. While they were visiting I got to prowling around and found a baby swallowís nest in their fireplace behind a large screen, and I squeezed one to death that had fallen out of its nest.
Another thing I recall, my mother was always busy. With such a large family, she did her own spinning and weaving and even made clothes for the boys and Pa.
Once when my sister Alice was entertaining her beau I went in and pulled up my long dress and said "Butler look at my new petticoat". She was furious at me for embarrassing her.
Rite was born in 1875, my next brother Edd was born in 1877. When Edd was old enough to wean (about three years old), Ma took him over to stay with Grandma Laswell to break him of the habit. About a month later they went after him the first thing he did, he walked up to Ma and said "Ma I want Tee".
In 1881, I recall my Mother sitting out in the yard, under a shade tree, reading a newspaper about President Garfield had been assassinated by Charles Gataw. Soon someone wrote a song about it. The song went like this:
My name is Charles Gawtaw, my name Iíll never deny,
For the murder of James Garfield, on the scaffold I must die,
Oh little did I think that I, while in my youthful bloom
Would be taken to the gallows, to meet my fatal doom
Some of my cousins, who lived in our area (The French boys) were always writing little songs about someone. One was about an old bachelor. We used to sing:
There was an old man who claimed great riches, in the month of December wore cottonade britches (HI HO DIDDLE HI HO)
If I could find an old plug I would marry (HI HO DIDDLE HI HO)
There was an ole wider lived in the flat, the people all got to scare way the rats (HI HO DIDDLE HI HO)
He picked up his cane and went over the hill to see Liza Jane (HI HO DIDDLE HI HO).
Now my dear woman, I donít have long to tarry, Iíll tell you my business is now for to marry (HI HO DIDDLE HI HO)
She said if youíre a man of your word I believe I would marry (HI HO DIDDLE HI HO)
I am a man of my word and they went on a splurge, and married next morning by the judge (HI HO DIDDLE HI HO)
They started back the same way they came, and at the tunnel they caught the first train (HI HO DIDDLE HI HO)
Jim Carr got the hog, Jim Laswell the cow (HI HO DIDDLE HI HO)
I began at an early age to help with the milking. I supposed I was inclined to see the funny side of life. I had heard the old saying to "Never cry over spilt milk". So one time I was milking and either the cow stuck her foot in the bucket, or I spilt the milk, so it scared me but I got tickled and went to the house just bursting my sides laughing and Ma said "What are you laughing at?" When I could control myself, I said, "I spilt the milk". Needless to say she did not see the funny side of that!
When I was eight years old, my brother Edd went to the wood with my older brothers to play and watch them cut wood. Edd climbed up a small sapling tree and Doc just for fun went over and pretended to chop the tree down and just as he started to chop, Edd slid down just in time for Doc to cut his foot almost off. The boys picked him up and put the foot back as best they could, and carried him a mile home. Then someone rode about ten miles after a doctor. When he arrived he wanted to amputate, but my Dad would not give his permission. So he dressed the foot, then asked if Ma could take care and dress it and she said she could not. I spoke up and said I could, after having watched him I knew I could. As a result, it was my job, the foot healed and with the exception of growing crooked and out of shape it never gave him any trouble. That was my first experience of nursing, one of my main hobbies.
My father was a tall dark complexioned and black headed man. He had a Roman nose and Abe Lincoln beard, and as my Mother often said, "he was the most handsome man around". He was "hot tempered" Pennsylvania Dutch. He owned and operated a distillery, and was a GOOD customer himself. He loved to dance. As I grew older, he would take me to dances.
My Mother was small, only five foot, three inches tall, a blond. She was a kind, sweet Christian Lady, soft spoken and was never known to raise her voice. She was Scotch-Irish and smoked a corncob pipe, and read her Bible. In later years she would rock and sing or tell stories of her life.
"Pete" as Ma always called Pa, paid a man $1,000 to go fight in the Civil War in his place and the war was over before the man had to go. My Father grew tobacco on the farm. One of our jobs was to pick the big old horned worms off the tobacco plants. My oldest brother taught all of the children to chew tobacco. I was only three years old when he taught me to chew.
Once when Pa had gone to town I took Edd and Rite my two youngest brothers down to the distillery and took a proof tester as I had seen my Dad do, putting the tester in and I would give them a taste and we started back to the house. One of the boys fell down and Pa was coming up just at that time, he thought I had gotten them drunk and gave one of the only spankings he ever gave me.
On another occasion, he was drunk and I needed some water hauled to cook with. He said I could use some water out of the pond that was stagnant and I said I would not, I would throw manure in it first. I knew I had said the wrong thing so I started to run and Ma was trying to help me get away from him and almost caused me to get caught. Finally I got away and ran up a hill he said he would go and get the dogs and shotgun. Put he was too far gone, I supposed, so I stayed until dark and he forgot.
My grandparents, Grandma and Grandpa Laswell were getting older, and probably seeing a way to help, as there were so many children and they had plenty and could give them a good education, asked Alice and Kate, my two older sisters to come and stay with them. On one trip over, I heard them talking about me staying too. When I saw what was happening, they were down the road so I grabbed my bonnet and away I ran to catch the wagon.
Two of my sisters died when I was about 7 years old. They were grazing some stock, one would ride and herd them and the other would sit on the cold, damp ground. At the time they were having their period, they took a severe cold and took what was called "galloping consumption" and died within a few days of each other.
While my sister Agnes was so ill, just before she died, she said, "Lissie, if you will go and pick me some gooseberries I will give you my China Doll". It had black hair, and of course I was delighted to do that. It was my first doll.
In later years I had the same problem as Agnes and Lula, but I had a dollar I had made by sowing watermelon seed and I sent by Pa to get a bottle of Merrels Female Tonic to take and it took care of my problem.
When I was ten years old my Dad decided to move. Grandpa Laswell took us to the train. He told my Mother, "Kitty, if you go I will never see you again". How right he was. My two sisters Alice and Kate also stayed with them and we never saw any of them again.
We moved to Benton County, Arkansas, near Eldorado. As a child my Mother lived on a plantation and she loved her "Mammy", a Negro very much. In later years she would spend lots of time telling stories of her girlhood days. When asked if she did not have anything to do since they had slaves, which she did not refer to them as such, she said, "The negros did the cooking and laundry and the men helped in the field, and if she was going somewhere on horseback, Randy, a black boy, would saddle the horse with a side saddle and bring it to the style and she would get on from the riding block". She would tell of her wedding clothes and she said they all had their own work to do and learned to weave and sew. Apparently superstition must have really been passed on during this time as she told some pretty wild tales that were actually supposed to have happened. When asked if she really loved a black mammy she became very indignant and said, ĎI will have you know I loved my mammy". Ma was Methodist in belief.
My Mother told of when she was a young lady, her Aunt read tea leaves. Her Aunt, after drinking her tea, would turn her cup upside down on a saucer and turn it around several times until all of the tea had drained out, then she would pick it up and read the sediments left in the cup. I have seen Ma do this, too, many, many times. One day she said, "Kitty, you are going to show youíre aótoday", and sure enough, she went somewhere on horseback and the horse stumbled and threw her clothes over her head. I am sure she wasnít exposed because of the long pantaloons and petticoats they wore in those days.
Going back to moving to Arkansas again we lived in Arkansas for about two years and from there we moved to Choctaw Nation in 1885, about 13 miles from McAlister. This is where I met for the first time the young man who was to be my husband. As we drove up to a camp fire, there sat a young man poking at a fire with a long stick. Pa pulled up and stopped the team and the young man did not even get up. He said, "Well, old man, you have sure struck a frog pond". His name was Henry Thomas Foster, he was to be our neighbor.
On his way home, he stopped by a neighbor of his, Tom Morgan, and said, "Well, Tommie, I have just met the girl I am going to marry today. I am going to wait for her." I was 12 years old and he was 22 years at this time.
We had moved in two covered wagons on this trip and are to move on Joe Tooles place. My Mother and I went over to Henryís place to get a setting of eggs. He was sitting on the edge of his bed, patching a pair of his pants. He gave me a pretty milk glass fish with ruby red eyes.
Henry had butchered several range hogs for meat. He gave us the pig feet. Ma and I put up a forty-five gallon barrel of them. He built a smoke house to store his meat in. When he had it almost finished, I was working in the yard and he called and said, "Lissie come here I want to show you something". I ran over to see, he opened the door and said "Come on in and lookí, and when I did, he closed the door and grabbed me and hugged me real tight. I felt like I was disgraced and would not speak to him. He told my folks I was mad at him because he would not help me clean the yard. After a while, Henry went to Lyons, Colorado, to work, but he kept in touch by mail.
Another incident happened while we were still in Arkansas. One of our neighbors wife passed away leaving two little girls. Their names were Berry, the daughters were Maggie and Lou, just small children. The girls said, "Josephine took morphine", so naturally the people wondered, but their dad kept trying to show me too much attention. Finally he told me how he treated his first wife and he would treat me still better (as only a hair-lipped could say it). He had told my dad he would give him ten dollars a month to keep the girls, so they became my responsibility. He paid for a while but soon we had the little girls as members of our family.
While we were living in Choctaw, we lived near a creek where I would do our laundry. I would put all of the clothes in a sheet and carry it down to the creek, build a fire under a big black kettle for hot water and boil the clothes in it and spend the day down there rubbing the clothes on a rub board and hanging them on a fence and bushes to dry.
My Dad loved to dance and by this time I was getting old enough to enjoy it also. He would take me to dances far and near on horseback. Often we would dance all night and go home and have to work all day. On one trip a storm came up and the creeks were flooded and we had to stay all night with a family that had several boys. So a woman told that I had to spent the night with the boys, but Pa found out about it and traced it to the one that started it and made her go and tell the ones she told that it wasnít true, or he was going to beat the #*!@ out of her.
He just loved a fight anyway. One day as he and a friend were riding they were passing by a house where a man was beating his wife. So he jumped off his horse and ran to stop it. The man that was with him said he didnít stay inside long because the wife grabbed the broom and both of them jumped on him as he came running out of the house. He said it didnít take Dad long to mount his horse and get away from there.
At one of the dances my Dad and I went to, there was a young lady I would call "high stockinsey" or that was the way she acted. Her boyfriend asked me to dance with him and I accepted (I would never brag, but I was good dancer and loved it). When we danced by her, she said, "Hemp, you are poorly". That rubbed me the wrong way, so I got him whirling real fast by the time we got back to her and when we did I sat him down in her lap and said "Hemp, youíre pushed", and went off well pleased with myself.
We lost our brother Doc while we lived here. He was one of my favorites. He died of pneumonia.
I had a friend whose name was Hardy Myers, and had promised to marry him, but he was accused of murder and he came to me and said he wanted me to release him until he cleared himself of the charges against him.
In the meantime, Henry was keeping in touch and saw this was the time to step in, and someway got me to promise to marry him. Hardy cleared his name and came back to renew his promise, but I told him I was going to go to school, but he had already found out about Henry and vowed he would kill us. But Ma wisely advised me not to repeat anything either of them said, so eventually tempers cooled, or at least Hardy gave up.
It is now 1889. At this time my Dad and oldest brother, Henry, decided to make the run for land. They homesteaded about 15 miles east of Oklahoma City. Henry Foster came back from Colorado to help us move. We had two covered wagons, 75 head of hogs, 21 head of horses, and 25 head of cattle. Pa and Ma rode in one wagon and Henry and I rode in the other. The boys rode horses and drove the horses, cattle, and herded the hogs. In this drive we had a sow and seven shoats. It took 18 days to make this trip. We left the day before Thanksgiving.
On this trip something terrible happened to me. I needed to go to a privy, and we had driven miles and miles and not a tree or a bush in sight. I suppose I asked him to stop when I finally saw a bush, and I had an accident and not a thing to clean up with but a "Devils Snuff Ball", which was not sufficient for my need, so I went back to the wagon stink and all (poor Henry!)
When we finally reached our new home, the old sow and seven shoats disappeared and we later heard they had gone back where we moved from.
Henry helped my dad build a log house to live in. My Dad planted an orchard here and farmed and continued to drink heavily. As long as I was at home I was my dadís right hand, when he wanted anything done he would call on me. Sorry to say, my brothers were not so ambitious, and had a tendency to rile his temper. But my mother was the opposite, with patience for everything except his drinking.
I had promised Henry I would marry him when I was 21 years old. As a result, he had written me to remind me he would be there on February 13, but my brother Henry got the letter and did not tell me. So on my birthday I was down at the cow pen milking, and warming my hands over a bucket of hot coals, and I was just thinking what if Henry Foster did come. I really did not want to get married. All at once there he was, he had hired a rig to come in. I told him I could not get married as I was not ready, so we went to the house and I went behind the big old stove and cried. Ma came and said I would have to go ahead as the preacher was on his way out to perform the wedding. So reluctantly, I got married that night. The preacher slept in the room with Ma and Pa, and Henry and I slept in the room with all the rest of the family, and I went to bed with my corset on. This was on February 13, 1894.
The next day, Henry took me for a ride in the rig he had come out in, and I told him I could not go back with him then. So I stayed at home another month.
Henry was living in Davis, Indian Territory, about 100 miles south of Oklahoma City. He had a handle factory, and did carpenter work. When he came after me the next time the weather was so bad he had to come on the train, the roads were almost impassable. My Dad said, "The only thing wrong with Henry was that he was a damn Republican". Our first place to live was in the Davis Hotel, until we could rent a house to live in.
He built the hotels in Davis and Sulphur. My neighbors in Davis were Mrs. W. M. Freeman, who came and borrowed to get acquainted, and the Fergusonís and Ramseyís.
Our first child was born December 11, 1894, a little girl, premature. She only lived one day. She was a blue baby. I had typhoid and had a fever. She felt cold to me so I put her inside my gown to keep her warm. Sometime in the night, Henry woke me and said, "Lissie, the baby is dead".
During this illness he stayed with me all the time, so he had to keep busy and that is when he made my wardrobe (a heavy wood kind of armoire" to store clothes and things in ~ a storage closet). I would have terrible dreams and as long as he was hammering and making a noise working, I seemed to rest better. In those days the doctors would not let typhoid patients have food, and I felt like I would starve. Someone brought me some peaches and while Henry was gone for a few minutes I ate the whole quart. When he came back he said "Lissie, that will kill you", so I said, "Well go and get some soda and I will make myself vomit, which he did, but I didnít loose my food either.
My second child was born March 7, 1896. We named her Stella May. She was a little blond with dark brown eyes.
As for my schooling, I had very little as they did not have one where I lived. I did go through the Blue Back Speller and McGuffeyís Reader, and when I was about 17 years old some neighbors tried to get me to teach their children, but for some reason I did not.
In 1897 my Dad has a serious accident. Drinking as usual, he was driving a wagon with high sideboards on it and a spring seat. He hit a deep rut and it threw him off and paralyzed him for life. A year or two after this he traded his farm for a place in Oklahoma City on the South Canadian River between South Robinson and South Walker.
While we were living in Davis, Henryís father, who had married again after Henryís mother had passed away, died, leaving Mary Ann, his wife and three children by this marriage, Artie Mae, Grant Perry, Clayton Berry. Artie was 12 years, Grant was 6 years and Berry just a toddler of 3. We took Artie and Grant and Berry part of the time. He was so small he stayed with his mother more. Before long, we heard from Perry, Henryís brother, that his wife had gone off and left him and took the children. She soon got in touch with him and told him to come and get his little Foster looking kids. Perry told Henry he did not know what to do, that he could not take care of them. Henry said, "If you canít, I can" so Perry went after them and hired Emma Gravely and her sister to see after them. Perry had a blacksmith shop in Paoli.
As soon as we could, Henry sold the Factory so we could help Perry. When we moved to Paoli, Artie decided to stay with the Fergusons in Davis. We moved into the house with Perry. While here, Henry and Mr. Bishop built themselves a cotton gin. We moved there in 1897. Henry contracted to build bridges and did threshing in the summer.
Perry soon tired of the single life. He took a trip to Alabama where they were born, met a second cousin of Elizabeth, and they married and came back to Paoli.
Dewey was born in Uncle Perryís house before we moved. Stella named him J. D. or we thought that was what she said, (it could have been "baby"), but I decided to name him Dewey so they would not nickname him and besides they were giving all new babies named after Admiral Dewey a new pair of shoes. Born May 6, 1898, he was fair, had dark hair and blue eyes.
After Perry married Elizabeth, they came back to Paoli and to his house to live. Henry and I moved into a house with a half dug-out. Henry began to make plans to move to Pauls Valley, a town between Paoli and Davis.
While we were still in Paoli, the children and I joined the Methodist Church. Dewey was sprinkled and so was Stella and I.
We moved to Pauls Valley in 1900 in the 200 block Chickasaw. Here Henry bought a sawmill and four head of oxen. He also had the threshing machine and did contracting and carpenter work, and house moving. He also was building us a new home on Spruce Street as we were expecting another child.
My husband, Henry, built the first bridge ever over Rush Creek, on Chickasaw, referred to as the "long bridge". One of the larger houses he moved in those days was later the Kerr home. It had to be moved in sections.
When Stella was small, I sent her to the store after some oatmeal. The storekeeper could not understand her and thinking she wanted candy tried to give her candy. She would not have it. She said, "Me donít want candy, me tell you me wants oatmeal".
Also, when she was small, my brother Edd and Stella and I were going somewhere in a buggy. We were going to have to cross Little River, which was swollen from recent rains. There was no bridge, so we had to ford it. However, this we did not know, as we were riding along, talking and laughing as we always did when we were together. Stella kept saying, "Mama, Mama" until I listened to her. She said, "Mama, just before we get to the Little River I want to sing you a little song". I said "All right Stella", so we drove on and when we were almost there I said, "Stella, we are almost to Little River", and she started singing "Jesus Saves" with all sincerity. We drove on into the swollen stream, and we missed the ford. The horses began to plunge, I grabbed Stella and held on to her, and Edd jumped into the water and swam to the horses to hold their heads up, and guided them across. I felt like the Lord helped us through.
Henry was born in Montgomery, Alabama. His Mother was Elizabeth Godwin Foster. His father was Jefferson Truitt Foster. He had one sister named Sara. His brothers were Perry, Green, and Luther. Sara married a Rice. They had two children, Edd Rice and Delia Rice. They lived around Chickasha. Perry and his family lived in Paoli. Green married a girl in Muldoon, Texas. His wife was postmistress there for 30 years. They had three children. Ray, who was crippled in an initiation when he started to college, and was paralyzed for life, but had a brilliant mind, helped in the post office and was a good electrician. William finished college and was a college coach up in the northern states, married and had children. Ruth married Charlie Ruscher in Smithville, Texas. Luther never married. Artie, J. T. Fosterís daughter by his second marriage, married Alva Smith, who drank so heavily that she left him and became a registered nurse at St. Anthonyís hospital in Oklahoma City.
Grant P. was a nice looking man and had lots of friends, and had a good personality. Married three times, his children were Mary Ellen, Grant P. Jr. and possibly another son.
Berry married Ozella Dendy, an Elmore City girl, and had one daughter, Lenora, and separated. He lived a lonely life and died January 7, 1972.
Henry was 13 years old when his Mother died. When his Dad married again, he went his own way and just did odd jobs for anyone that had work to be done. His Mother died in 1866. They lived in Montgomery, Alabama. He first came north with some Indians on their way to Oklahoma, but since the Indians were not welcome here he went back to Alabama and apparently gradually brought his family here. Some said he came on the "Trail of Tears".
Henry did have another little sister, and a little half brother. His dad had the children with him and he shot at a rat near a keg of gun powder. It blew up and killed both children and burned him severely. However his death was not caused by this explosion. After Jefferson Truittís death, his widow married again and had one son, Narvy Mathis.
Henry Thomas Foster was about 5 ft 11 inches tall, blond and weighed about 165 pounds. He was blond with fine hair, heavy brows, deep set eyes and a mustache. His hair was tousled most of the time. His eyes were steel blue. He was a hard worker, ambitious, and a job never got too hard that he would not try it. He could not endure laziness, but would go out of the way to help anyone in need if they would work when they were able. He would often go to town and find someone with a hard luck story, bring them home and feed them and give them something to do. He was slightly stooped or round shouldered and he was not afraid of anybody or anything. His one bad fault was swearing and he seemed to be unaware of that. He was quick tempered, and awfully plain spoken, but what he said you could depend on being the truth. He did not smoke, chew, or drink, except when he caught a cold, and then he would mix whiskey with hot water and take as medicine.
One time, he was working on a hotel he was building in Sulphur and he fired a man because he came to work drunk. The man got on his horse, and went to town and told a group he was going out and shoot Henry Foster off that building. A friend rode out and told Henry to get down. Henry got his gun and met the man in a ravine. He threw his right hand behind him and said "You blankety, blank, I know what you have come for but you donít have the nerve to do it.
In 1899, Perryís wife, Elizabeth, died when her baby was born. Perry soon took the erysipelas and died within a month. Lena came to live with us again and Albert went to live with a family named Thornton at Lexington, Indian Territory.
Our next baby was born on the 6th of September, 1901, another girl. I named her after Virgie Stribbling because I thought she was so pretty and named her Chrystal after Chrystal Stewart, another friend. She also had a dark complexion, dark hair and brown eyes.
As soon as I was able, we moved to our new home in the 200 block on Spruce Street. We now had three children of our own plus Grant and Lena who were both in school, and there was lots to be done on the new place. Soon we had an orchard growing, also a grape vineyard, and a large garden and even had land enough to plant corn. We also had chickens and a cow. We had a man that lived on the place to take care of the oxen and drive them and help at the saw mill.
In three more years, on May 7, 1904, we had another daughter, Jewell Violet. She was a blond with blue eyes and fair complexion (inherited from her Dad, or Papa as all of the children called Henry). She started early being very plain spoken and what she thought she said regardless of who she was talking to. On one occasion, she went over to a neighborís house and said, "Mrs. Carlton, I have come over to eat up everything you have got." Ethel comes over to our house and eats all of the time." The neighbor said, "Well Honey, you go right ahead, it is on the table", and all she had on the table was pepper sauce. Another time, one of the hired men was getting something out of Papaís tool box, so she hurried to tell him that "Smith was in his playhouse".
By this time Stella was in school, and another baby was on the way. When Jewell was three we had another baby girl, Vivianne Elaine, born April 14, 1907. She was dark haired, had brown eyes and was a very active child, but cried a lot.
By this time, I began to have asthma and, I imagine, a little too much family. There was also the garden to be taken care of, and fruit to be canned, and sewing to keep school clothes in shape and meals to be cooked. Besides, Henry would often bring in a group of men for a meal without much notice, as he always had several men helping him in his work.
As I have mentioned before, I had chewed tobacco since I was a little girl, but Henry didnít know it. So one day, I sent Grant downtown to get me some snuff and Henry caught him down there and said, "What are you doing down here?" (as we did not allow them to run around town). Grant said, "Sister sent me after some snuff". Henry could not stand tobacco in any form. He said it was filthy. Guess he knew the habit was too far done to change.
By this time Grant and Lena were teenagers. Lena was always such a pretty girl. She was so neat and looked nice in her clothes. Grant was just a regular nice looking boy. Henry was proud of him as well as his own son. Artie and Berry would visit and keep in touch, but Berry and Grant did not get along so well. He seemed to resent Grant.
Grant, Lena and Stella all started to school at the 500 block on North Willow (where Stufflebean Funeral Home is now located), before Lee School was built. They started to school in about 1905. At that time, the only sidewalks were made of boards not much wider than to walk single file, with foot bridges over steep places and no paving, just dirt streets. On Sunday morning the church bells would ring when it was time to go to Sunday School. We went to the Methodist Church.
In 1905 my dad developed cancer in his face and was too much for my mother to take care of. So, "Papa" said I would have to go and help her, but I knew I had too many at home to take care of so I went up and brought Ma and Pa home with me, also Lou Berry, one of the girls they reared, to help me take care of them. Pa lived about a year and was buried at Mt Olivet, south of Pauls Valley in 1907. I had kept my children pretty close in the yard. Jewell was real excited and told one of the neighbors "Oh goody, goody, now I am going to get to go somewhere". I had to keep an eye on Virgie. She was always slipping off and going over to Mrs. Anthonyís and always hid under the bed when she saw me coming with a switch. Dewey had more freedom than the girls, but he would go swimming with a boy larger than he was, Ike Byers. I was always uneasy until he came home.
Henry belonged to the Woodman Lodge and when the Rebecca Lodge was organized, I became a member. Our neighbors here were Dr. and Mrs. Calloway who had two daughters at home, Etta and Vivianna and one son, John. Vivianne was always coming over to visit with me and would let me help her medically before she would let her Dad. I really loved and enjoyed her visits. Mrs. Anthony, a widow, was another neighbor. She had three sons, Charlie, Claude and Lloyd (Toad). She had a hard time and had to wash on a rub board for a living. Sometimes when I knew she had washed all day, I would take her over a lunch as I always had to prepare three meals a day. She was a good friend.
Across the street west lived Fay and Dalton Ludey. She was the daughter of J. R. McChesney with the Pauls Valley Bit and Spur Factory. Mrs. Carlton lived down on the corner. She had three daughters, Hattie, Lavoria, and Ethel, two sons, George and Everett. She also did washings for a living. Mr. and Mrs. McCarty were good neighbors with several children, but about the only time we ever visited with them was if there was an illness in the family. One tragedy happened to the McCarty family. Their sons were down on the river and dug a cave and were playing in it and it caved in on one of them and killed him before they could dig him out. And one of Dr. Callowayís grandsons was killed when a team ran away when he was in the wagon. He fell out, the wagon ran over him and he died. His name was Howerton.
I was always having premonitions of things going to happen, or as I always said "warnings". One time when I still lived in Kentucky, we had a big snow storm. It had the roof covered and was way up on the doors and windows when all at once we heard three big thumps like something was hitting the roof, but when we went out to see there was not a mark on the roof nor on the snow. As soon as the mail could get through, we got word that my Grandmother Crow had died that night at the same time we heard the noise.
Another time while we were living in the half-dugout in Paoli, a rooster jumped up in my kitchen window and crowed about 10 am. That afternoon Henry sent me a message he had an accident. A bridge had given away under his steam engine as he tried to cross, but he was not seriously injured. Things like that have happened to me all of my life.
In later years, I have been able to witch for water with a forked peach tree branch, and in most cases water could be found by digging deep enough. They have found water in lots of places where everyone had said "there was none". I really enjoyed doing this. Sometimes the stick would almost twist out of my hand. Sometimes people would give a gift of appreciation.
While we were here, we also had chickens and a cow. The cow fell and broke her neck so I took her calf and I thought I could raise it. She grew up to be such a pet, when she saw me she would go jumping and bucking around even after she had a calf. Henry was afraid she would kill me so I had to sell her.
One man Henry tried to help drank a lot. Once when he was drunk, Jewell went over and was trying to console him. He said, "Nobody loves me" and Jewell stooped down and said "Mama loves you Tom". His name was Tom Spradlin. We just overheard her telling him this.
Another old fellow, Mr. Burk, Henry brought in was an old Spanish-American War veteran. He was always giving the children nickels to polish his shoes or to button his shoes with a button hook. He would come and visit us. He bought Stella a pony when she was big enough to ride. She would take her dadís lunch to him when he was working at the sawmill. She named the pony "Dolly". Once when we were living in Paoli with Perry I picked up his shotgun to move it. It went off and blew the arm off a rocker in the room. Perry came running in scared speechless thinking I had accidentally killed myself.
I could not stand to see anyone rocking a chair and no one in it, or for a picture to fall, or for anyone to break a mirror, or roosters crowing. To me, all this was a sign of back luck. One time when my children were teenagers and had gone to a party, I awoke startled, and when they came to tell me, I said, "I know, you all ran off in a ditch". They really had.
Time flew by and soon Grant joined the Navy. Berry had come to live with us part of the time, but as usual he and Grant did not get along too well. Berry seemed to be a child that no one could get along with. He was always getting into fights. He eventually joined the Air Force.
Lenaís mother, now since she was a young lady, asked her to come and live with her, but she did not stay long. Her Mother had a motive and Lena sensed something was wrong so she went to the police and asked them to call her Uncle Henry. So they sent her back home and Henry sent them the money they had been out. She later married Fred Woodworth, a contractor that laid the first brick streets on Paul Street in Pauls Valley, and they had a very happy life together.
So now I have just my own family. Vivianne walked real early. Then there was another one on the way. Another boy, with medium brown hair, and dark brown eyes. We named him Jack Lee. He was born January 10, 1910. My health was not very good, so Henry decided we might do better on the farm with so many children, and Dr. Gray thought I should get out of Pauls Valley because of my asthmatic condition.
Before we moved to the farm, one of the neighbor girls, Lovora Carlton, fell in love with a man her mother did not want her to marry, so I was their "go-between". They were trying to meet and run off and get married, and her Mother was trying to find them. They left for Oklahoma City and Lovoraís mother came over and said, "She wanted my shoes, she was going to Oklahoma City after them". I told her they were all I had. She said, "That doesnít make any difference, take them off Iíve got to have them." So I did. But they were already married when she found them.
Henry bought a farm one and a half miles south of Liberty school. We moved out there November 11, 1911 and I began to feel better even on the way out. I could breathe better.
It was a hard cold winter and just getting started on the farm with no capital. We managed to get some horses, mules and hogs, also the most needed farm implements. The house we moved into was well build as Henry had built it for a granary. Before we moved out, he built on a bedroom, kitchen and dining room. We had to carry our water up a small hill. We drew the water from a well with a rope and long bucket. There were lots of trees all around the house. Since there was plenty of wood just for the cutting, we used wood in our cook stove as well as the heating stove. Henry brought out some man with a wood saw and soon took care of that need for the winter, clearing away the trees and dynamite the stumps to put more land in cultivation. The first winter was the hardest, adjusting to kerosene lamps and everything in general, but the children loved the freedom of it all.
The children started to school at Liberty School, a two room school house about one mile and a half north of where we lived. It had replaced Elliot Chapel, named for John Elliot, that owned the "Peachland Farm" nearby. It was quite a way for the children to walk, but I dressed them warm. The girls wore heavy long underwear, underskirts and long stockings, and stocking caps. They walked with the neighbor children and took their lunch in a syrup bucket and didnít seem to mind. Miss Onstott taught the Primary through third and Miss Jorden taught the fourth through the eighth.
I had plenty of canned food for the first winter, and there was lots of rabbits and squirrels for meat, and one time we even cooked an opossum, but it did not go over so good.
The next summer we had a good garden and canned food for the first winter and butchered a hog for our meat and soon would buy wagonload of peaches to can and butcher six or eight hogs at one time. Of course, all of that meat had to be taken care of. There was sausage to grind, fat meat to be cut up and rendered for lard and mincemeat to make. We bought our sugar in one hundred pound sacks and syrup in five gallon cans. Since our family was large, everything was bought in large quantities. Soon we would take our own corn to mill and our own wheat to trade for flour. We planted dewberries and grapes.
I set an incubator to hatch my own little chickens and always milked enough cows to have our own milk and butter. There was lots of work, but everybody has a job and with a "little persuasion" carried their own load.
Our first transportation was a wagon. On Saturday, we would go to Pauls Valley and buy the necessary supplies. In 1913, my Mother came to stay with us for awhile, as we were expecting another addition to our family. I had fallen, so I had the most trouble with this baby. Dr. Johnson had to call Dr. Branham for help. Fred Frank was born February 9th, 1913. He was a blond, blue eyes, and fair. He was always a big talker and resembled his dad most of all. Henry always loved for Ma to come. He had the greatest admiration for her, always called her, "Mrs. Crow".
In 1915 Henry came and said he had bought a new hack. It was beautiful, two seated, to be drawn by two horses. It was our first good means of transportation and the only one in the community and we were proud of it.
Stella was a young lady now and helped in the field more than the house. The one thing she loved to do was read anything she could get her hands on. I donít know about the field, but where you found her, somewhere you would find a book. She had a favorite hideout down in the woods in a tree. Even when she was mixing biscuits, she would prop her book up on the meal chest and one time I caught her sitting up on the Majestic range churning and reading (if the milk was not the right temperature the butter would not come until it was warmed a little). She was also dating now, and for awhile she went with Frank Harris. Then she quit going with him and started going with Jim Wall whom she later married. Jim had two children by a former marriage (his first wife had passed away). Floy May, a little girl, and Willard, Stella was only seventeen.
In 1915 we bought the farm that joined us on the north. My Mother was still living in Oklahoma City as I had four brothers down there and she tried to see after their needs, but she came down to help me again as we were expecting another baby. He was born May 12, 1916, blond, fair and brown eyed. Papa named him Edd Crow, after my youngest brother, who would help us on the farm part time. Uriah (Rite) another brother also helped sometimes and my brother Will occasionally. But Henry felt he depended more on Edd. Edd, our new baby and our last, in later years was more like his dad, in general, although they all resembled him in some ways. Fred talked more, Dewey talked less, and Jack talked less, but all were mechanically inclined and would try and usually do anything they undertook, one way or another.
By this time, there was lots of cooking to be done. Our table was long enough to seat at least ten. We always had at least two men that stayed with us to help with the farm work, besides a family of nine (Stella was married). Virgie was old enough to do the cooking, washing, ironing and general house work, except during threshing season, or when we had an extra big crowd to cook for. Dewey, of course, helped Papa (BOYS NEVER DID HOUSE WORK). Jewell helped with the milking and separated the milk and then helped Papa when needed. All of the rest were too little to take on responsibilities, except to bring in wood and corn cobs to put in a can of kerosene to start the fire with.
On the farm, our closest neighbors were the W. D. Rayburn family. They lived across the creek east about half a mile. The Hazlewood family lived further east near the Washita River. All were available when we needed help in time of illness or new babies. Hazelwoods had the only telephone in the neighborhood, except the State School, to call a doctor.
Henry always took on the task of feeding the next to the youngest child, or that is, they sat next to him and he gave them special attention as the rest could kinda root for themselves. That was about the nearest any of the children came to being pampered by their dad as he had a full time job supplying the family needs.
Henry bought our first car while we lived here. It was a Ford, and when he came driving in, we all ran out excited. We did not suspect he was going to buy one (he was full of surprises).
Wherever we lived, Henry was a firm believer of good fences and gates. Here, he had put in an extra large fence post. He was driving at a pretty good speed, and perhaps a little excited over his purchase. Anyway, he saw he wasnít going to stop it, so instead of running into the fence, he headed into the big fence post. It stopped without any damage, but I am sure he was embarrassed, but did not let on, and of course "NOBODY KIDDED HIM". We all laughed to ourselves.
He was not a braggart. He did not brag about what he was going to do or what he had done, but when he made a statement you could rest assured it was true. He was a very opinionated person.
While we were living here, World War I was declared on April 5, 1917. So many young men in our community had to register and take physicals and with very little notice, our eligible men were to meet a train in Pauls Valley to go to camp for a brief training, then shipped overseas for combat. That was a very tragic and trying time for all, to see the young men leaving their homes, parents, and wives for the first time, and many never to return. Our son, Dewey, was eighteen. He and others eighteen and over were in the next registration, but the Armistice was signed before they had to go.
Our community was just an average group of people that were interested in each others welfare. We had dances in our homes for the young people and the older ones that were interested. Everyone danced just for the fun of dancing (no liquor). We had Sunday School and church on Sunday, non-denominational, mostly Church of Christ, Church of God, Baptist, and Holiness. We had one dear little lady, Mrs. Poke, that lived at Pokerville, about two miles south of Pauls Valley. She owned a little country store. She would preach at Liberty when she wasnít preaching somewhere else. She was a shouting, dancing, holiness; a good soul and on fire for the Lord. We also had singings on Sunday afternoons and Sunday evenings in different homes around the community. Also "Literary Society" part of the time when people of the area would take part, singing, giving readings, dialogues, etc. Box suppers and pie suppers were always enjoyed. Some girl would be run for the prettiest girl, and some boy for the ugliest man, and the boys would pay so much for each vote, proceeds to go for a community Christmas tree. We would also have singing schools, and one time a match school. But our entertainments were planned for weekends as everyone had to work through the week. Other preachers that preached at Liberty were Brother J. B. Reeves, Preacher Gueen, and Preacher Walker.
While on our own farm, we had a dipping vat to dip our own cattle and a sorghum mill and made our own syrup. Lots of times if our cows bloated I would stick them to release the gas from their stomach. Otherwise, they would have died. In threshing season, we had bought a cook shack and Virgie helped a woman to cook for the crew.
We were real concerned about Virgie, for three consecutive winters she took pneumonia and it left her with a deep cough for so long we thought she had T.B., but she finally overcame it.
Fred would get real flighty under high temperature. Virgie gave Jack kerosene to drink for a glass of water while she was dressing him for breakfast, but I seemed to always know the right thing to do, just when we were ready to give up hope. One time Jack ate some green apples and it gave him cramp-colic. I had some "old Indian Doctor books" I always studied, until I almost always knew what to do when something happened. Once Fred almost strangled to death when he siphoned gas from a barrel. With this many children there was always something happening. A doctor could hardly have gotten there in time with a horse and buggy their only means of transportation. Vivianne could not have high temperature, with having spasms, and when she took black measles in 1917 and her temperature ran high so long it threw her into convulsions and a stroke which impaired her health. Then Henry and Virgie went to the State Fair in Oklahoma City and both came home with the flu in 1918, the year so many people died, even whole families. Very few families escaped at least a relative. I didnít call a doctor because they didnít know what to do. Henry did not have it too seriously, but it was hard on Virgie. Besides, the doctors had said she could not stand another attack of pneumonia. Her nose bled for eight days before I could check it, but it all turned out ok.
In 1930 Deweyís wife, Rosetta, had phlebitis (blood clot). Her doctor was just giving her dope so Fred took me to Seminole and soon I had treated her until she could rest without dope.
In 1918 a neighborís son, George Miller, had an accident and complications had set in. I had heard he was real sick and I thought I was too tired to go that night, but for some reason I felt I had to go. When I got there they were all crying and said he was dying. So I went and put my hand on his stomach and it was as hard as a rock. So, I ask for some hot water and a towel and it was not long until he had relief, and the family was forever grateful. As I have always said, the Lord sent me down there and let me know what to do.
Henry was not much on doctors, nor would he let me practice on him, but one day in 1910 a piece of steel flew in his eye and he had me call Dr. Maness. He came out to the house and was trying to pick it out. Finally, Henry told the doctor to let Lissie have the knife and I had to get that steel out of his eye. That time I was real nervous.
This is just a few of the things that I have done, and I am happy I was given the knowledge to know what to do. I also nursed Jewell through a case of scarlet fever at a time when few survived that took it. She had quite a bit of trouble with her ears afterward.
Dewey did not like to work with horses, so soon Henry decided to sell the farms and invest in machinery and farming on a larger scale. We moved to the Imon McClure farm one mile west of Liberty School. This is the year Dewey married Rosetta Hayes, a girl from the community. On September 6, 1918 we planned a big wedding. Everyone in the community was excited about the event. We were going to have a big dinner and wedding in the afternoon, but on Sunday Dewey and Rosetta announced they had run off and were married the day before. We had a big day anyway. Everything went on as usual, except of course, Rosetta moved in with us.
But the community did not take it as quietly as they were pretending. One afternoon, Virgie had a visitor and told her of the plans and invited her to meet the group at a certain time and place to "chivalry" them. Everyone had gone to bed fairly early as was usual on the farm. The group of all the young folks, and several that were still young at heart gathered down at the section line at the Liberty Corner. Everyone was quiet until they were close enough to disturb the dogs. Everyone had something to make a loud noise with - tubs, buckets, tin pans, cowbells, and a shotgun. One of the boys fired the shotgun to start it off. Of course, I realized what was happening and ran in and told Dewey and Rosetta to run out the back way out into the corn field to hide. I knew what they might do to Dewey, like ride him on a rail or throw him in a pond, or numerous things they would do for fun. Soon they were all circling the house. Jewell, a teenager, went out on the front porch in her underwear to see what was happening. I got the lights on and invited them in. The house was full and we had lots of fun, but they could not find Dewey and Rosetta as I was the only one that knew where they were. They all wanted me to dance, which I did, and someone noticed I had my shoes on the wrong feet. After an evening of fun, everyone gave up finding them.
In 1919 we rented 450 acres from Miles Lassiter. This place was about three quarters of a mile east of the Liberty School. Henry bought two tractors, one bull and one Fordson, and farming equipment to be used with tractors.
THE CONTINUED STORY OF MALISSA FOSTER
This part of the story is told by Virgie in her own words:
After moving to the Miles Lassiter farm (450 acres) our family consisted of Virgie, Jewell, Vivian, Jack, Fred and Edd. Stella was married to Jim Wall by this time.
There were three extra houses on the farm. Dewey and Rosetta were married and lived in one of the smaller houses on the farm. While they lived here their daughter, Faye, was born. Dewey helped on the farm for a while, and he accepted work operating a crane at the State School for delinquent boys.
The boys at home were too young to be of much help. At this time we had two negro families move on the farm to help out with the work. Jewell helped some on the farm, and we usually had at least two men who helped.
Papa, as usual, was doing too much and he developed a heart condition. Within a year or so he had a stroke and we called in what family he had. Artie, his half sister, his brother Green from Muldoon, Texas, and his brother Grant from Denver, Colorado, all came to be with him. Papa recovered after a while, but was never able to manage the farm as he had before.
Papaís health kept going down. He rented a 160 acre farm across the road from the State Training School. John McClure, an Indian boy, received this land as an allotment, and sold it to the Harts from Pauls Valley. This house was not in very good condition. In 1924, Papa developed pneumonia and passed away.
I had gone to work for the telephone company in 1923, Jewell had married Archie Henderson and moved away. This left Mama with Vivian who was 16 years old, Jack, 13, Fred, 10, and Edd who was 7. Mama rented a farm just west and south of the McClure farm from Mrs. Denson. She kept turkeys, chickens, and grew a large garden. She sold milk, butter, cream and eggs to help with expenses. Papa had insurance that took care of all debts, but left nothing to live on. Due to Mamaís ability to manage, and hard work, she kept the family together.
One of the boysí first business experiences was selling cotton in the fall after Papa passed away. They took the load of cotton to town to sell to the highest bidder. Of course, Jack left the talking up to Fred. After Fred had refused some of the bids, he sold to the one that made the best offer. Mama was real proud of him at 10 years old.
The boys were all mechanically inclined. They always had some kind of a car for transportation. But Jack and Fred did not go to school after they finished at Liberty. Edd did do some high school work. Mama got a chance to invest in a garage, the "Foster Welding Shop". Fred and Jack, and later Edd, all worked there. I married Clarence Casto and moved to Oklahoma City in 1925.
Soon after she invested in the shop, the depression set in, and people were amazed at how Mama was doing so well, and lots of other families were on the soup line and could hardly feed their families. She got a big laugh out of that. She was such a happy, outgoing person and friend to most everyone.
The boys would go on dates, and when they came in late at night she would get up and cook them something to eat. I guess they told her where they had been and probably "a part" of what had happened. But whatever it was, it was all OK by her, as HER sons could do no wrong.
After a while Jack married Allie May Sandridge. Later Fred married Tressia Henderson. As time went on, Edd married Bonnie Faye Smith. This left Mama and Vivian alone. In the meantime, Jewell and Archie had two children, Kathryne and Kenneth. Jewell and Archie divorced and she came back to Mamaís to live. Iím sure Mama was happy to have Jewell home again as she was a good worker and could help her in everything, even to driving for her, as Mama never learned to drive a car. When necessary, she would harness up a team, or go down to the road and hitchhike a ride.
During all this time, they were going to activities at Liberty School, and to Home-Keepers Club meetings, so it was not all work. She was a charter member of the Home-Keepers Home Demonstration Club and really enjoyed talking about the camp trip until her 100th birthday. She would still tell about the group making her plan the skits their group was supposed to do. On one occasion, she dressed up in a Halloween suit, pulled her long hair down like a witchís and did a dance "Turkey in the Straw". The negro cook looked up and saw her and took off. She thought she was the devil, and the other ladies had to catch her and explain what was happening.
Another time, the group told her if she didnít think of something quick they would have to pick chickens. So she got a big old mop bucket and mop, and went out on the stage mopping. She had another lady come by selling newspapers. Mama pretended to be tired and sat down on the bucket to rest. Just as the lady came on the stage calling "papers, papers", coming up to Mama she said, "paper, lady, paper?" Mama said, "no thank you, Iím just resting." Of course being farm women, and knowing about slop jars, it created a big laugh. Later she was presented a picture of pansies as out-going president of Home-Keepers Club.
After a few years Jewell met a man who worked at the dairy where they sold the cream. Homer Pannell was a charmer, so Jewell fell for it and they married again. They lived with Mama several years. Eventually they moved to another farm. They had children of their own, Helen and H. M.
By this time all of Mamaís children had children of their own. Stella and Jimís children were Henry, Frances, Nathan, Jim Bo, Calvin and Bob. Jim had two children by a former marriage, Floy Mae and Willard. Dewey and Rosetta had Faye, Juanita, Lillian and Jimmy Donald. Virgie and Clarence had Marguerite, Eloise, and Charles. Clarence had Eileen by a former marriage. Jewell and Homer had Kathryne, Kenneth, Helen and H.M. Vivian was still single. Jack and Allie had Henry, Jessie, Lois, Evelyn, Anna, Earlene, Darrell Jack, and Thelma. Jack and Allie later divorced and Jack married Margaret in Houston. Fred and Tressia had LaRita Dawn. They divorced and Fred married Merle Morey. Their children were Barbara and Fred Jr. Edd and Bonnieís children were Joy, Hays and Faye Lynn.
At this time, everyone was going to Mamaís for a visit frequently, and she always fed everyone, and usually sent them home with fresh vegetables or canned fruit, eggs, or something. Now, I wonder how she did it for I am sure none of us ever thought to take something to her. But it all turned out to be a family that loved one another. Although we all had our difference of opinions, it didnít affect our love.
One of Mamaís favorite tales to tell was when Kathryne was taking care of Helen and bumped her head and she lapsed into an unconscious state. Mama, Jewell, and Homer were all trying to revive her. Mama saved her when she raised her dress and slapped a cold wash cloth on her chest, and she started crying. But one thing I know, I did not like her medication. But when I got sick, I always felt like all was well as soon as Mama came. I even went home when my first baby came. Mama came to Edmond when my second one came, and she was there when Charles came.
Helen was born while Jewell and Homer lived with Mama in 1937. They moved to the Tom Baker place in 1938 and lived there approximately 2 years. Then they moved to the Doris place. There, Kenneth had appendix surgery and H. M. was born. Mama had blood poisoning from a nail scratch on her head and Jewell and Homer moved back with her for a year until Mama married ole man Morrow. His name was Walter Morrow, but Mama always called him "ole man Morrow". Jewell and family moved to the Mitchell farm.
Mama and Mr. Morrow divorced when she was paying all the bills and his cattle accumulation was bigger than hers - - and she owned all the originals! She then moved in with Jewell and Homer.
In January 1938, Clarence and I moved on the Hill farm south of Liberty. Charles was born Feb 12, 1938. Clarence passed away in December 1938. We moved up to Mamaís. In 1940 the girls and I moved to Pauls Valley and I was working in Dodsonís Cafť. Charles stayed with Mama. In 1944, Jewell and Homer sold out and went to California.
I went to work for the telephone company and bought our home in Pauls Valley. Mama and Vivian came to live with us. After selling her farm equipment and moving back to Pauls Valley with us, she brought a cow and chickens and continued to make a large garden. Mama was in the Rebecca Lodge before moving to the farm. As a result, she reinstated when she moved back to Pauls Valley.
Mama started attending the First Christian Church. She was the Past Noble Grand of the Rebecca Lodge and attended those meetings.
When we moved here, Mama had her choice of bedrooms and Vivian had the next choice. The children and I had the other one. We all shared the kitchen, bath and living room. Mama renewed acquaintances of when she first lived in Pauls Valley. She visited neighbors Nell Price, Mr. and Mrs. Tom Manning and Sally Steel and anyone new who moved in.
Her garden took the whole back yard, except the cow pen and chicken yard. She sold milk, buttermilk, butter and eggs. She also canned vegetables. Vivian helped her some with the chores.
She now had time to do some traveling she never had time to do before. Mama visited her son Jack in Houston, also Lena and Fred Woodworth. Lena was Papaís niece (Perry Fosterís daughter). Mama and Papa had reared Lena. On the trip, she also went to Galveston. Jack also took her to a nightclub and she evidently had a ball. They were dancing "Pistol Packing Mama" and I imagine Mama was putting on quite a show. The other people shouted "turn her loose and let her go". So Jack let go and Mama must have entertained them for a short time.
She flew to Salina, Colorado near Denver to visit Grant Fosterís family. She talked for the longest about what they did and how much she enjoyed the trip.
She was on Danny Williamsí TV show in Oklahoma City when she was 75 years old. He interviewed old timers and she had a wonderful time there. She told him some of her life history. After this, she received a lot of calls and letters. She said she did not get to tell him half as much as she wanted to because they ran out of time. We had a house full of company to watch her on TV.
When I bought this place, Marguerite had married Lloyd Sears from Fort Worth. She met him in Muskogee where she was attending nursing school. After her baby, Tommy, came a year later, she came back home after 2 years of marriage.
Vivian met Edd Parks and married him in about 1953.
When we moved here, it was Charlesí first year of school. Eloise had first gone to Lee School, but moving here we were in a different school zone and they went to Jefferson. I had to work nights at first, so Mama had taken on the responsibility of seeing everything was OK. Of course, this became headquarters for all of our families, as it was for almost 30 years and still is.
One of her hobbies was water witching. Nothing made her happier than for someone to come and ask her to go with them and find a water vein for a well. She used a forked live stick of some kind. She had all the confidence in the world in her ability. On a lot of occasions, she did locate good water wells and tell them how deep they would have to go to find water.
She loved to minister to the sick. A new baby boy had to have its dresses put on from the feet first, and after a bath, she would catch hold of the dress, hold it by the feet, turn it upside down and shake it real good. This was to turn its liver right side up. (Scared you to death when it was your baby!)
On one occasion, Rosetta, Deweyís wife, took phlebitis. Their doctor in Seminole was just giving her drugs. Fred took Mama over to help, and she applied eggs and salt poultices and drew the inflammation to the surface. Rosetta was soon up and around again. Mama was proud of that job!
She had funny little quirks about such things as a black ribbon around the childís neck for croup. If a child got a rusty nail stuck in a foot, she would grease the nail and put it higher than the childís head Ė sure cure!
Donít rock chairs when vacant, broken mirrors are a sure sign of bad luck. Umbrellas never opened in the house and many, many others.
When Charles was about two years old, there was a stray dog came up in their yard. It was acting strangely and scared him. Mama said, "Vivian, get a bucket and go draw a bucket of water to see what the dog will do". Mama got her gun and shot and killed the dog as he was acting strange.
In some of our recordings she told the grandchildren how she would shoot rabbits and skin them for the dogs.
She would shoot at hawks that were after her little chickens, or anything she needed to Ė "no fear there"!
As I was a constant victim of pneumonia, I knew she would poultice my chest with coal oil, turpentine and lard and I donít know what else, but the smell was something else. When I could not stop coughing, she would come with a teaspoon of sugar with a few drops of kerosene on it and hold my nose and make me take it!! "Whew"
When someone had a baby and had "weed in the breast", she would apply hot poultices of sage and grease. Strangely enough, that helped, and gave relief, even if it did smell.
Of course, she made her own liniments and salves. Her "tetter and piles" remedy was powdered calamel and white Vaseline. (That worked.)
Also, she had a sure cure for whooping cough, flaxseed, honey and lemon brewed. To prevent contagious diseases, she tied asafetida on a string and hung it around the neck and sometimes she even gave it to take orally.
All of her remedies were sure cures and when you got sick enough, you didnít mind her practicing on you, because you really got the attention and the works. After all, we all lived through it or because of it.
And anytime you did not feel like getting up, you got the works and soon you got up in self defense. She couldnít tolerate laziness in anyone.
Our doctors from 1911 on were Doctors Braham, Johnson and Calaway Sr. Later Dr. Robinson from Wynnewood.
Before Papaís stroke, someone had to fan him constantly so he could breathe, but during the evening he had a stroke or was partially paralyzed. Since he could not make anyone understand what he wanted, two men who were sitting with him helped him up to a nearby table. Using his left hand he picked all the medication on the table except the medication Dr. Robinson had left him and dropped it on the floor. When his sister Artie, who was a registered nurse, came she said "his problem was mixed medicine". Later Dr. Calaway said Papa had a heart condition, but would not take care of himself. But with a family of eight children, his responsibility was great.
Mamaís remedy for a sty on the eye was to go to a crossroad and say, "sty, sty, leave my eye, catch the next one that passes by".
To wean babies she would let them nurse the last time on the door step when the sign was in the knees. All garden seed had to be planted according to the signs, whether the plants produced above or below the ground.
Her way of dealing with temper tantrums was surprising them by dashing a pan of cold water on them.
When Jack was little, she would put the hem of his dress under a table leg. This way she would know where he was when she was busy.
In later years Mama was a firm believer in the faith healer, Oral Roberts. She was always writing to him concerning some problem with one or another of her large brood. Once she told us Brother Roberts really worked. She had written him to pray for her and her bad habit of dipping snuff. She said after his prayers the snuff got so bitter, she had to put sugar in it in order to dip it.
On our farm, in later September, when the first northerner (freeze) came, everyone had to put on long heavy underwear to be worn until spring. A big event of our life when we were to have a new baby and Papa would make breakfast, and have bachelor biscuits or spoon bread. Then, of course, Grandma, Mamaís mother, would come and stay. At that time, mothers would spend 9 days in bed, probably the only time Mama really got to rest.
On the farm "Hog Killing" day was another event to remember. Papa even let the boys stay home from school. He said, "they would learn more at home that day". He would put up two tall poles, forked at the top, and place another long pole across the top between the forks to hang the butchered hogs on later. In preparation, they would fill a large black kettle with water, then build a fire under it for boiling water, for after the hogs were killed. (For me this was so cruel, I would get out of seeing or hearing distance until that was over). They would knock them in the head, then stab them in the throat to make them bleed. The next process was scalding and scraping all of the hair off them until they looked real white. They were then hung up between the poles. It took two strong men to hang them as they all weighed over 300 pounds. They would butcher seven or more at a time. Then the men would split the hanging hogs down the middle and remove the intestines into tubs. The hogs were washed off good and clean and left to hang all night to get real cold before cutting up. They would always wait until freezing weather to do this, as they had no refrigeration. The next morning again there was work for everyone, and I mean everyone worked. The men would cut off the hams, shoulders, side meat (or they called it "sow belly", but it was really bacon before it was cured). Also, there was tenderloin (it was so good) taken from the ribs. Real butchers make pork chops out of that part now. There was pork ribs, liver, brains, and tenderloin, that to be used up first. Oh yes, and back bone. They trimmed the extra fat off to be rendered into lard later. Then the fatty pieces had to be cut in small pieces to render. Leaner parts of meat had to be cut up small to grind for sausage. Someone had to grind the sausage, of course Mama seasoned it. After the men had it all cut up, Papa and Mama would prepare the meat by putting some kind of sugar curing stuff on it. Then they would either hang it in the smoke house, or pack it in barrels or some place for storing and curing. One time Mama even made "chittlins".
There was still work to be done, even days later, because this was not done in one day! Mama usually did the rendering of the lard and was the overseer of all of it after the butchering was over. There was still mince meat and sauce out of the hog head. Mama always said "they saved everything but the squeal!" We even saved the cracklings after the fat was rendered out of it to make crackling cornbread.
It goes without saying that this was not the most wonderful part of farm life. It was to be endured, not enjoyed, as far as I was concerned.
But then there were happy times, going to school, Sundays, and especially the highlight of the year, the 4th of July picnic when everyone from all over the county, young and old, all got together and went in wagons or buggies or on horse back and took a picnic lunch. There was ice cold lemonade, made in the shade, five cents a glass, popcorn, ice cream cones, and a merry-go-round.
Another busy time of the year was molasses making day. They had a grinder to grind the sugar cane and really press the juice out of it to make syrup. A mule walked in a circle to operate the machine. There was a copper looking vat about 4 feet wide and 12 feet long, with several different sections. A fire was built under it and they would pour the juice in the part where the hottest fire was, and start it cooking, watching it carefully and stirring it constantly with a wooden block on a broom stick type thing, skimming off foam that accumulated. As soon as it got far enough along, they would remove a little partition and release it into the next section to be cooked there to a certain consistency, then released from there to another section, and so on. There must have been ten different sections it had to be cooked in until finally it was cooking over a very low temperature, then run off into gallon buckets to store or sell.
On Saturday, Papa and Mama would go to town to buy the supplies for the week, and to sell the eggs, butter, chickens or what they would not need. I usually had to stay home, clean house and watch all of the younger children, and see that everything was ready for Sunday.
At our house Thursday was my wash day, although Papa often reminded me that his mother did her laundry on a Monday. At this time, there were seven children, plus Papa and Mama, and usually two hired hands to wash for, on a rub board. Early in the morning, I would fill the old black kettle, carrying water from the well where the windmill pumped it, carrying two big buckets at a time. Then build a fire under the kettle to heat the water. Lye soap was cut into shavings in the water to make a good suds. While that was heating, three more tubs of water had to be filled; one to rub the clothes through, the other to rinse them through. Of course, the clothes had to be sorted; first, best whites, underwear, finally, work clothes, overalls, etc. Most everything was first run through the boiling pot, then rubbed through another water, then through two rinses, all rung by hand and hung up to dry. It took all day. Then the clothes had to be gotten in, folded, and some sprinkled to iron the next day. All of the dresses, shorts, pillow cases and under skirts had to be starched, also aprons. Friday was ironing day. That took all day to iron and put them away. (Iím tired just thinking about it. Those were the "good ole days", but who wants to go back?)
There was also broom corn harvesting time, when the broom corn Johnies had to be fed. They were a hungry bunch. I know Mama laughed the first day we fed them. Everyone tried to get to the first table, but she always saved enough back for the second table so they had as much to eat as the first. She said "someone must have had everything on the first table, and the rest did not have enough". They worked at different places.
Threshing days were busy and very exciting, especially for children and people who were not involved. When the whole outfit started moving, the cook shack moved in and set up. They would blow the whistle (just for excitement) on the big steam engine as it slowly moved in. Along came the big water tank to keep the steam supplied with water. Also coal in a wagon for fuel for the engine. Someone was always in charge of that. Papa was overseer of it all. He watched the thresher carefully for trouble. (It was as exciting as the 4th of July). The cook shack brought in and set up in a convenient place close to a well so the men could wash and get a cold drink from the well before eating. It was equipped with a long board, the length of the shack, hinged on each side, to be let down at meal time and used as tables. Inside was refrigeration. Also screens on each side to try and keep out the ever present flies. This is on wheels and pulled in by horses or mules.
The work started early, peeling lots of potatoes, cooking red beans, chicken and dumplings, cobblers, or anything grown in the garden, fresh tomatoes and cornbread or biscuits, coffee or tea.
Mrs. Tom Spradlin did the cooking for our shack. I was her helper. Her husband kept coal fed into the engine. A noon, when it was time to eat, the whistle would blow. They had to stand and eat, or find a place to squat down, usually they stood. The dishes were washed in a big wash tub and the shack cleaned up.
Out in the field, the bundle wagon men were busy loading their wagons with bunches of wheat or oats, which ever they were threshing at the time. There were several of them, two men to a wagon. They had to keep a supply of bundles being fed into the threshing machine at all times. There was also a grain wagon to catch the grain as it was separated from the straw, which was blown into a stack. Everyone was busy, no time to slow down, unless there was a breakdown, then Papa got busy until it was ready to go again. But he was alert, so it did not happen often. These men were paid $2.00 per day, the average farm wage was $1.00 per day. They could finish a field in a day, then move on to another farm, and all that was left was a large straw stack. When they blew the whistle and pulled out, that was all for another year. Papa threshed all around Pauls Valley, Paoli, miles and miles in every direction.
This incident happened possibly in 1914 when we were living on the farm south of Liberty, which was south of the reform school (now the State School, more of a hospital for the mentally retarded). Papa found a teenager hiding in the barn. He questioned him and found he had escaped from the school. He brought him in and gave him supper, had him go to bed, then notified the school. He told Papa he was planning to steal a horse to get away on. He was cold and hungry and I felt so sorry for him because at that time they would punish them severely when they tried to escape. I could not go to sleep and after a while I heard them come after him. They said they had three relays between there and the school to keep him running all of the way, striking him with something all of the way. That was something I could not quit thinking about. It worried me for so long, and it still does something to me when I think about it. Iíll bet if Papa had known they were going to do that, he would have taken him back himself.
A BRIEF SUMMARY OF OUR FAMILY FROM MY VIEW POINT (by Virgie)
Stella was a nice looking young lady, weighing slightly over 100 pounds. She helped Mama some, but preferred working outside. She did most of the sewing. She loved to read. Wherever you saw her, there was a book or something to read nearby. She loved to dance (that was probably the only recreation in the neighborhood at that time).
We had an old stubborn mule named "Blue", that when the 11:30 whistle blew at the State School, always took whoever was working him home. Papa took his quirt to the field one day and he was going to see that Old Blue did not leave the field when the whistle blew. Stella was working him that day. So when the whistle blew and she got close to the end of the row she was cultivating, she got off the plow and went to Blueís head and led him to turn and go one more round, and succeeded in going one more round before noon. But I remember Stella coming crying. I supposed she was upset about old Blue almost getting punished. I can almost hear Papa say, "Iíll bet he donít go in today". Everyone else laughed about ole Blue knowing when to go eat, everyone but Papa.
Dewey did not like to work with or take care of horses or mules or livestock. He never milked a cow. He liked to work with machinery, but he never did anything around the house to help. At our home, that was strictly "womenís work". He was the only boy for so long. He was almost a "privileged character", so we girls thought. But we did love him, just wondered why he did not have to help do what we did. But he also had problems with a mule, not the same one, but he was going to whip one, and Papa said "No you are not". Dewey said, "If I canít I will leave then". Papa said, "alright go but you are not going to whip that mule". So Dewey came to the house and told Mama. She gave him all of the money she had on hand and he left, riding a bicycle, going toward Pauls Valley. We were all crying, I guess thinking we would never see him again. In the meantime, Papa got word to a room and board place in Pauls Valley, owned by Mrs. Gordy, and told her to take care of him. In about a week, here came Dewey back, riding a bicycle, and told Mama he was going to Texas. She begged him to stay and went out to talk to Papa and asked him to talk Dewey into staying. So, here came Papa, walking slowly, but sternly. He said, "Alright now Dewey, if you want to come back and behave yourself, alright, but that has to be done". Then he went back to whatever he was doing. Mama did her bit of talking and smoothing things out and once again we were all happy, we had our brother back. Dewey and I dated together in later years, and went to parties and dances. He watched me like a hawk, and told Mama everything I did. I didnít appreciate that, but otherwise we had no problem. If we went somewhere and he wanted to take a girl home or I had a date, we understood. Only one time, I told him I was going to let John McClure take me home. He said, "Oh no you are not, John is drinking and you are not going" and I didnít, but I wasnít too happy. I wouldnít have gone anyway if I had known he was drinking. I just wanted to go because all of the girls wanted to go with him. But Dewey soon got married.
Virgie Ė After Stella got married, I took over the laundry, the housework, sewing, especially for my sisters and myself, and the cooking and ironing. I like to read, dance, go to parties or just anything for fun. I did tease Jewell a lot, even after we went to bed. I suppose the most fun we had together would be when we washed dishes. We would sing "Casey Jones" or "Steamboat Bill". They were jazzy and we washed and dried dishes as fast as we could to get done. I would try to beat her done. We were pretty loud, but no one was in the kitchen but us so it didnít matter.
Jewell was always the very serious type. She really did not go along with my sense of humor. She helped Mama with the milking, garden or anything they asked her, she was willing to try. After Dewey was gone, Papa would have the men do the lifting of the heavy parts and she would help on the motors. She, like the boys, drove the family car early. She would never clown around like I did. She took care of the cream separator and helped run the tractors.
Vivian was a pretty little girl, very full of life. She learned to walk at a very early age. When she was still small, I would sit her up on the organ, (where the lamps were supposed to sit) and if I didnít watch, she would jump off while I was playing the organ. She had a health problem, high fever would cause her to have a spasm. When she was 10 years old she had black measles. It caused her to have convulsions, and she had a stroke. Mama called Dr. Calaway. He said there was only one thing to do and gave Mama the choice. She agreed to try it and within a half hour she asked for a drink. Then when she was 12 years old, she started having seizures and there were problems from then on. Although they did not seem to bother her attitude on life, except everyone let her have her way, she did OK in school and attended High School in Pauls Valley through the 10th. When I got married she quit. She always helped Mama.
Jack was always quiet, not much to say. The "Apple of Papaís Eye", he must have spent much of the time with Papa, as he was never under foot. He was the "still water runs deep" type, but when he had enough of anything, he would strike quick and sure without saying anything. He also worked on motors before he was strong enough to do the lifting., drove the cars when 10 years old (even to town), but I am sure Papa was along. By this time, most of our farm work was done with machinery.
Fred, did not talk plain at first (like me, there were words I could not say plainly). But he never gave up or let up. He never met a stranger. You might say, he started out tooting his own horn! Machinery was also his first love, or I should say, second, talking was his first. He also drove the car before he could see over the steering wheel. HE had to look under to see where he was going. He resembled his Dad in stature, features and complexion more than any of the boys. He visited me quite often after he grew up, but he kept me worried about him. One time he came up and had a revolver. He and a friend got into it about the other boyís girl friend. Some way the law took his gun and fined him for having it. He came back by and told me about it and said he was supposed to appear the next week before a judge in Oklahoma City. I was real worried, afraid he would not come. I kept tossing and could not sleep. So Clarence said, "Well get up and call Jack to remind him to come." Jack went out to the farm and told him. The next day here he came with a note signed by the Sheriff of Garvin County, giving him permission to carry it as a "Deputy". So I just quit losing any sleep over him.
Edd was our last one. He was so little when I went to work, but he was just about like all of the last ones born into a big family. He did pretty well what he pleased, but did not create any problems. Everyone else was gone as he grew older, except Vivian and Mama. One time when I went home for the weekend, everyone else came to meet me. I went to find him and he was washing and cleaning up before I got in the house. The other boys could have cared less. As they grew older, it seemed Edd was always there when needed, and really helped hold all of the family together and help solve problems.
1907 Oklahoma became a State Ė Peter T Crow died Ė Stella, Dewey, and Virgie started to the new school
1910 Jack was born Ė Jewell started to school
1911 We moved to our farm 5 miles south of Pauls Valley
1912 Everyone was becoming use to farm life Ė Grant, Berry, Artie and Lena all would come and visit every year or two
1913 Fred Frank was born and Grandma Crow came to help and stay a while with us
1914 Stella got married, when we came home from school she was gone
1915 Papa bought another farm adjoining us; we moved over there and had more room
1916 Edd was born and Kitty Jane Crow, our Grandma, came. I liked for her to come, she would tell us so many stories about her years growing up and witch stories
1917 Papa sold out and we moved to the Imon McClure farm just west of Liberty school
1918 Dewey and Rosetta married
1919 Papa rented 450 acres from Miles Lasiter and we moved into a much larger house, also better. We had a windmill, water piped to a water tank just outside the yard fence for stock
1920 Dewey and Rosetta lived in another smaller house on this place. Everyone called it "ween Ďem". There was also two negro families moved in two houses on the place to help with the farm work. One of the women helped Mama when needed. I think Faye was born this year, Dewey and Rosettaís baby.
1921 Papa had a stroke
1922 Jewell and Archie Henderson got married
1923 Virgie went to work for the S.W. Bell Telephone Company
1924 Papa could no longer operate this large a farm due to his health; sold most of his big equipment and rented a smaller farm west of the State School, the old John McClure farm, later sold to Harts. Papa died March 14, 1924 and Mama rented the Denson farm and moved there with Vivian, Jack, Fred and Edd. Grandma Crow was living with us when we moved to the McClure place. After Papa died, Grandma fell and broke her hip and was bedfast until her death in 1925.
1925 Virgie and Clarence Casto got married and she moved to Oklahoma City
* * *
EARLY MEMORIES OF STELLA (WRITTEN ABOUT 1969)
The day we moved to Pauls Valley, Indian Territory, in November 1900, I was 4 years old. We moved to a house where Bonds Auto Supply store is now (1969) It was winter and there were no leaves on the trees. I donít think it was very cold. The first thing I remember as we rode down Chickasaw Street was a little doll in the window of the Valley Hardware Store (where Crabtree No 1 is located now). It was dressed in a blue coat and red pants and turned its head from side to side as though he was watching the people pass. The first thing I remember buying was 10 cents worth of camphor where the 1st National Bank is today. It was on the north side of East Paul Street, the first building from the old depot where the Express office is now. The drug store belonged to C. P. Bruse and I bought the camphor from Joe Ranes. He was a very young man then.
There were some German people lived next door south of us. They had a little girl about my age, and we were real friends. Their name was Fernbeck and they had a furniture store in the rock building south of the 1st National Bank. There was a band in town at that time and they played in the square of Chickasaw and Paul in the evening, and did my brother Dewey and I love it, as we would get out on the sidewalk and dance. I was 4 years old and he was 2.
The next September 6th we had a baby sister, Virgie, and Mr. and Mrs. Fernbeck gave her a little red rocker. Mama used to play the accordion for them. Their boyís name was Otto and the girlís name, Olga. She had a big sleepy doll that was almost as tall as we were. There was a woman who stayed with Mama when Virgie was born that put me and Dewey up to singing "monkey monkey sitting on a rail, picking his teeth with the end of his tail". I thought it was okay then, I was too little to know better.
Papa bought a place at a land sale, it was Block #1 in Paul Valley and built us a new house on it. We moved to it in November 1901. Lena and Grant were going to school where the Stufflebean Funeral Home is now. When we started to eat dinner, they hadnít moved my high chair, so I started to go get it, but went the wrong way and met Lena coming home to lunch. Of course she brought me back, she was our cousin. Grant and Lena lived with us.
Across the street from us was the Burch grocery store. It was up on posts to keep the floods out. We played under it a lot of times. Next to it was Newbergs poultry house, then on the corner was Freemans Store. It had everything, even buggies and harness, and a big dappled horse hooked to the buggy. Of course, it wasnít alive, but it was beautiful to me, like the little man doll run by clock works in the other store. Later, Mr. Freeman had a drawing and gave away the first car in Pauls Valley. Behind Freemans was Kendels grocery. I donít remember the stores on the east side of the street, but the Hightowers had a big dry goods store run by Miss Ruby Perry, who was a teacher for many years in Pauls Valley. Then there was the cafť, Kings Jewelers, and the Globe Hotel on the corner of the alley. There was a big fire and burned the cafť. It seems I can still see the melted glasses after the fire. There were so many pretty colors.
The sidewalks were all of wood and about three feet above the ground. I started to school in September when I was six years old in 1902. I thought my teacher was a beautiful young lady. I donít remember her name, she didnít stay long. When she left, I cried. I think the whole primer class hated to see her go. Then Mrs. Kendell, a red headed teacher came and I never liked her. At the school where the funeral home now stands, I was in the first room, where the office is now, except the old building has been torn down and a beautiful one in its place. The only one I remember in the class was Chalon Bridwell. He could draw the best I ever saw, a boat on the water, just like it was sailing. He was kin the Cochrens and Pumpkin Martin. Mrs. Bush, Miss Ruby Perry, Miss Pearl Latimer and Miss Marguerite Mathews were the teachers I remember, and Mr. Monroe was the superintendent. He had a two room house on the northwest corner where he taught the High School. Miss Mathews was my Sunday School teacher at the Methodist Church where Dewey, Virgie and I went every Sunday. We would have to help Virgie across the cracks in the sidewalks as she was afraid she would fall through them or walk off the walks.
We also went to Junior League and were always in the programs. Mrs. W. O. Patchell was our leader. Our first superintendent was Mr. John Field, a brother of Lee and Julian. Then Mr. J. C. Erwin took his place and held it, I donít know how many years. He was also the editor of the Pauls Valley Enterprise, the first newspaper I remember in Pauls Valley.
Going west of the drug store, I can remember another cafť and Shumates dry goods and Virgil Goodpasture harness and saddle shop. Also Roady and Sparks had a grocery store in there, and the Post Office. Dewey and I would go to Roady and Sparks at noon from school and charge candy to our daddy. I would go down one time and he went down the other. We never knew what the other was doing. But the grocers finally told our dad so that was the end of our buying without a note.
Richardson Robison had a drug store where Otasco is now, and Ted Tethers came to work for them as a very young man. I remember him as a thin blonde young man, but how we all loved him. He was so kind to everyone. There was another drug store at the alley west of the old 1st National, run by Baker and Baker. A Mr. Agnew worked there. He committed suicide. We loved him, too.
I was still quite small when Carry Nation came to town in her fight against liquor.
I can still remember how muddy the streets were when Mr. Fred Woodworth came to Pauls Valley to put the first paving in. From the depot to, I believe, the intersection in front of the old courthouse, which is now Ballards Buick & Pontiac Inc. The jail was behind the old courthouse. I remember snow piled up really deep there as there was a board fence around the jail and the snow drifted against it. Fred Woodworth later married our cousin, Lena Foster.
Mr. Spencer was the first telephone manager in Pauls valley. He also bought the first car, a pretty red one. The first car to come through Pauls Valley was a Stanley Steamer, light color. It stopped at my fatherís blacksmith shop on the way south from Oklahoma City. A big crowd soon gathered.
* * *
JEWELL REMEMBERS "MAMA"
Back in 1916 she belonged to the Home Keepers Club, that was a farm womenís organization. One year, all the clubs went to Turner Falls for camp. Each club had to do a skit. Well, Mama volunteered to act as a cleaning lady in their skit. She had a big bucket and a mop and pretended to mop a while, then sat down on the bucket. Then another lady, Mrs. Hazlewood, came by with newspapers, saying "paper lady?" Mama said, "No, Iím just resting". She really caused a riot of laughter with that remark!
Then, I donít remember if it was during the same camp or not, but anyway, she let her hair down and roughed it up, painted her face, and put on some sloppy clothes - - really looked so awful that some colored ladies ran off and hid because they thought she was the devil. Mama used to laugh a lot about that.
When Edd was about 15 or 16, he was sitting at the end of the table while we were eating dinner. Across the room hung a mirror over the sink. All of a sudden Edd rared back his shoulders and said "WHAT A MAN !". We all looked at him, he was sitting as tall as he could and was looking in that mirror. We really had a laugh about that. He acted so proud of himself. We kidded him a lot about being a "man".
When we lived on the Hart place, where Papa died, Papa had two black greyhound pups, about half grown. Mama was making lye soap in an old wash pot in the back yard. She had it about done, so went in the house a few minutes and when she came back out, one of Papaís pups had jumped into that pot of soap. She got it out as soon as she could, but all of the hair was eat off him. Mama said, "Iím glad Henry wasnít here to see that!"
One time Mama took Virgie and me with her to work the weeds out of the watermelon patch, it was about 1914 or 15. Anyway, she took some peachy plug and star tobacco and her Honest snuff and sat it down by the water jug. Of course, Virgie and I soon got thirsty, as kids will do, especially when they arenít too work brittle. Anyway, when we saw all her "good stuff" as she called it, we decided to try some of it. We each tried it all and none of it was good. So we soon went back to helping Mama hoe the weeds out of the melons. We never did tell her about trying or tasting her tobacco and snuff.
One time, after I left Archie and came home to Mamaís, someone broke the comb and Kathryne and Kenneth both denied it. So Mama said, "well, Iíll find out who did it". We had been eating a meal, so Mama put a knife and a fork crossed on a plate. She would move the knife and look at Kathryne and Kenneth, then she moved the fork, so in a little while Kenneth said, "I didnít do it" with those big eyes of his. Then Kathryne began to cry. She was the one who broke the comb. Mama had her way of figuring things out.
Then the year I was 14 and Virgie was 17, Papa killed hogs. It was in the Fall on Saturday. Mama said he always seemed to do that on a Saturday. The next day, Mama
had all the meat to take care of and needed us to help. She was trimming some for sausage and the fat to make lard. Well, she was good enough to let us go on to church. After church Alpheretta came home with Virgie and there was to be a singing at Ashleyís that afternoon. So they started in asking Mama could we go. At first she said no, I need you to help me. But Alpheretta kept on begging until finally Mama said OK, but you had better be back here to do the milking at 5 oíclock. Well, we went and had a wonderful time. All the young people were there and we sang until about 4 p.m. Then Virgie and I went to take Alpheretta home. We had a horse or a mare, I think it was a mare. Alpheretta lived about 4 miles away, close to the Washita River. Anyway, a young mule got in front of us and kept us from going as fast as we should. We just laughed and giggled all the way, saying it wasnít our fault if we didnít get home by 5 p.m. Well, when we got home about 6 p.m. Mama was very mad. She said get in there and change your clothes. Iím gonna give you a whipping. Well we went to our room. We knew we were gonna get it. She went out and got the crookedest lilac limb you ever saw and she came in the room and she let us have it. It really didnít hurt as much as the humiliation of it all, being 14 and 17. Then to cap it all off, the next Sunday she told everybody about whipping us. That was terrible, we thought. That was the last whipping we ever got.
When we kids were small, Mama usually had a baby nursing. She would sit in a rocker to let the baby nurse and a lot of times, she would sing to help get the baby to sleep. Virgie and I would sit in the floor and listen. She would sing "The House Carpenter" and "Charles Gaetau" and "The Wedding Bells Shall Not Ring Tonight". We loved to hear her sing. The songs were sad but pretty. The song "Charles Gaetau" was about the assassination of President Garfield and "The Wedding Bells" was about a young lover whose fiancťe got killed the day they were to be married.
Then, too, she used to tell us stories about witches in grandmaís time. One was about a woman who was bewitched. She got sick and couldnít seem to get well. So, she called a witch doctor and he told her that the person who put the curse on her would be there in a little while to borrow some flour, but for her to not let her have it. So he made a cross on the floor and said when she crossed that mark she will fall and you will know she is the one who put the curse on you. She will not be able to get up and when she does, she will be covered with black lice, and Grandma said it was true. Virgie didnít like for Mama to tell those witch stories to Eloise and Charles. But Mama loved to tell them and I enjoyed hearing them.
When Mama needed to go to town or anywhere, and the boys werenít there to drive, she would go down to highway 77 and thumb a ride. One time she had caught a ride home and she told the guy where she wanted out and he didnít stop, so she just opened the car door and jumped out. She went a rolliní. It scared her when he didnít stop, she thought he was going to kidnap her and she wasnít about to let him do that.
She use to stay awake when the boys were teenagers and were out late. She would get up and cook them something to eat and they would tell her what happened while they were out. She could always communicate with her children. One time Virgie and the boys
went to a party after I was married and she had a vision that they had a wreck so she stayed up until they came home. Sure enough, they did run off in a ditch. No one was hurt, but it scared them. When they told her about it, she said "I knew it".
Back in 1918, when so many people died with the flu, she bought Quinine and capsules and filled one end, the small one, with soda and a piece of acifidity the size of a wheat grain and the bigger end with Quinine. She kept a box of 100 capsules made up and she bought Indian herb tablets from Mrs. Rayburn. That was her remedy for the flu. When she would hear someone was sick she would go and give them some of her medicine and she didnít lose a one she treated, and whole families died with that flu. The Indian Herb was a laxative, a good one too.
One time Homer got real sick with pneumonia and she cured him with yellow axle grease and turpentine poultice on his chest and back.
When Helen and H. M. and Linda were small, they took the whooping cough. Well, Mama recognized what they had right away, so she made up some cough medicine. It was one cup flax seed steeped for one hour on the old iron cook stove, or range they were called. This made a jell like substance and she strained it and added honey and lemon. She gave that to Helen and H. M. so they didnít ever whoop, but Wallace wouldnít let Kathryne give it to Linda. They took her to the doctor. Well, that poor child whooped til she would lose her breath and was a long time getting over it.
I am so glad the Lord has helped me recall all this. I have never write it down before, so donít know when I will ever recall so much at one time again.
Back before we moved to the country, there was a fellow who worked for Papa. He was bad to drink, so one day he came to our house drunk. He was laying on the floor by the heater. It was a coal stove with little glass windows in the door. Anyway, this guy, Tom Spradlin, was laying there crying. Mama said I went to him and patted him and said, "Mama loves you". She said he had been saying nobody loves me. I was about 5 years old. She used to tell that on me.
She used to tell about a man who came to the house and got something out of Papaís desk, where he kept all of his papers. So, she said I ran out and told Papa Pip was in his play house. The guyís name was Phip.
Mama used to cook for the thresher crew too. All by herself she would have as many as 14 men at a time. She would kill some chickens and make dumplings, a big peach cobbler and open up beans and corn and cook a bunch of creamed potatoes, and would have tomatoes and stuff out of the garden. The men always said they loved to come to our house because Mrs. Foster always had plenty to eat and she usually had fresh light bread and cornbread for them, too.
During the war, flour was rationed and we were only allowed to have a certain amount, so Mama put 100 pounds in the old meal chest and covered it with cornmeal. Papa would shell his corn and take it to Wynnewood and have it ground for cornmeal. He would have 100 pounds ground at a time, so for awhile our biscuits had some cornmeal in them.
Papa made sorghum and sold it for $.50 a gallon. We had lots of molasses cakes. They were so good. Mama could sure make good sausage too. One time she bought some peaches to can. She said she canned four bushels in one day and she was so sore the next day she could hardly raise her arms to comb her hair. She had a peach peeler, so she had us kids take most of the peeling off, but she had to finish the peach after we did our part. She was sure a worker and had time to visit the sick too.
When Papa got sick and before he died, he told Mama, "you help other people get well, why donít you help me?" She said, "Papa, you wonít let me treat you is why I canít help you". He didnít like to take medicine, so wouldnít take it. Sometimes when he had a cold he would take what he called a "toddy". It was a jigger of whiskey in sweetened water.
Mama always raised chickens and turkeys to buy our school clothes. In the spring she would set the hens on 15 eggs and later she also had an incubator that held 150 eggs. Every day those eggs had to be turned. She would let me help her. She would pen her turkey hens of a night and when they wanted to lay, if they had made a nest away from the house, she would let the hen out and have me follow her to her nest. I had to keep out of her sight or she would just fool around. Sometimes she would make out like she was going to her nest and fool me. If Mama had time she would follow the hen herself. She taught me to find their nest and I loved to do it.
Mama would be so tired by 5 p.m. and if the turkeys didnít come home, she would drink a bottle of home brew so it would give her the energy to go hunt them. Sometimes they would be a mile from home. I usually had to go with her and we would drive them home to roost.
When the turkeys first hatched, she would take eggs and milk and cook it and it made a "custard", she called it, and she would feed them a curd from sour (clabber) milk. One time she took some fryers to a restaurant to sell and they had blue bugs. The restaurant owner found them when he dressed them, so he told her he couldnít use her chickens and she asked why. He showed her the blue bugs. They were imbedded in the skin of the fryers. So she came home and got some creosote and put in waste oil and painted all the roosts in the chicken house. That got rid of the blue bugs. She had lots of remedies. Her chickens were sure a mess for a few days with that oil on their feathers.
I was the only one that could hoe the garden like she did. She said Virgie couldnít do it right, so her job was to clean the house and take care of the babies.
Oh yes, when Jack was little he was always getting under foot, so sometimes she would put his dress tail under the dining table leg.
Jack use to have temper tantrums when he was at the table if he didnít get what he wanted. He would fall down on the floor and scream and cry. Well, to stop that she would throw a bucket of cold well water on him. Believe me, he would come out of it quick and stop his crying. She would say, "Iíll just drown you" and he believed it.
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FAYE REMEMBERS "POSITIVE LOVE"
"Positive Love" is my strongest recollection of Mom Foster. Her greeting to me was always "Well Ė Itís little Faye", a big hug, never a kiss cause she dipped snuff.
She was frugal by nature and necessity, but benevolent. She furnished sets of snuff glasses to all.
One summer I got a bad sunburn while picking up potatoes in a halter top. She soothed it with thick cream, a sacrifice for she sold cream to buy staples.
Funny now, just accepted then, was her mode of bathing in the summertime Ė "a shower apparatus she rigged up with a number 3 galvanized tub and siphoning hose". Believe she sat in a chair in her shimmy tail (under garment). This was on the front porch, but it was out in the country. Only a privileged few saw this rite.
She was a stern lady, with wit. Never any doubt "she was at the helm" and she had a ship load of passengers. I have tried to recall where everyone slept. I must have been in the upper echelon because I know the joy of sharing her feather bed.
If she was making a strong point of admonition, she would say, "Now looka here" - - we looka-ed.
How vividly I remember the big table in the kitchen, sharing the long bench which flanked the whole west side with several grand kids. Mom Foster always sat on north end, hired man on south, Aunt Vivianneís stool next to Mom Fosterís left, various Aunts, Uncles east side, west side the bench.
On occasion, Mom Foster would partially drop her false teeth and laugh, her eyes twinkling. This was great fun. Remember there was no television, she was the only comedian around. Entertainment was conversation, a gramophone (you had to wind up), daily walks Ė at least a mile to the mail box (always had to wear a bonnet with staves to hold the front brim straight out).
There were "singings", usually at a country church. There was a womenís club. This was great Ė all the ladies brought food Ė and there were chores, many chores: Twice a day milking, endless milk buckets to wash in dish pans, no sink. Every drop of water had to be drawn from a well. The buckets were hung on limb stubs of an old dead tree just off the back porch to sun dry. Clothes were boiled in a big black iron kettle over a bonfire. Sad irons were heated on the huge wood stove, wood to chop, real axes to grind, corn to shell, bread to bake, eggs to gather, canning of home butchered meat (I was never allowed to watch the butchering Ė just as well!), canned vegetables, and beautiful fruit. The peach peeler intrigued me. They always canned perfect picture jars for the Fair. Potatoes were stored under the house. Then, the three meals a day, trim the lamp wicks, wash the lamp globes, separate the cream from the milk (wash separator parts), churn the milk, and somewhere in between, all clothes were home made, and house cleaning - - - THE GOOD OLE DAYS ! ! ! Course the chores were prorated and Mom Foster was a super Straw Boss.
One of the fondest times was when she would fix us a left-over biscuit and fat side meat from the "warming oven" of that big old stove and we would walk over the field south of the garden to feed the turkeys. I think this was after an afternoon nap. Naps were big, because everyone started work at daybreak or before.
When all the family gathered, Mom Foster would wring several chicken necks, leave them flopping on the ground. Iím relatively sure one of my Aunts, Virgie, Vivian, or Jewell, picked the feathers and prepared. Mom Foster could wring two at a time, one in each hand. Someone would take a door off the hinges, lay it over two saw horses for extra table space. Canít recall why, because the men folk always ate first.
Mom Foster always named new calves after the daughters-in-law.
I remember the wonderful smell of her jar of face cream (think it was "Marvella") only cosmetic I ever saw. I never did ask why she took hair from her brush and put it in a celluloid container.
"Inside to being a grandmother" Ė Never did ask if she loved me, it was just there, and it surpasses all the "things" I give my grand kids. I try to portray that role because I adored that lady.
More Memories from Faye: the peach orchard, loved eating green ones with salt.
The hen house Ė Mom Foster putting eggs in her apron, then in boxes under the bed. She either sold them or put them in an incubator in the cellar. I can imagine the odor of those tiny chicks, huddled so close. So vivid, why would I recall that odor?
When it stormed, all the kids were put down in that dark place with a lantern, shelves of fruit and veggies, dirt walls and floor. The grown-ups stayed topside to watch the clouds.
One time, after our family moved into Pauls Valley, there was a tent meeting. I guess I was with a neighbor, had to be before I was ten (thatís when we moved to a two room shack in Seminole). The preacher announced, "I had a dream when I took a nap this afternoon. God told me that Pauls Valley was to be wiped off the map". At that time, the wind whipped the tent, it was scary. I ran home. Meteors were shooting across the sky, it was one of Oklahomaís biggest meteor showers (This has been attested to in articles I read in years hence). When I got home Mom Foster was there in an open car, Uncle Edd or Fred had to be driving. As far as I know, Mom Foster never drove. They took us to the farm (to the cellar, of course).
That cellar holds memories of cool water melons brought up on hot days, Moon and Star melons, dark green with gold spots. Then they built a new cellar west of the house, near the well, the first one was south of the front porch.
That well is a memory. They pulled it dry, bucket at a time. Then they let me ride down in a bucket. In daytime I could actually see stars when I looked up. Never did have anyone explain why.
Summers we drew water to fill No 3 tubs. Let the sun warm it. Kathryne, Billy (Kenneth) and I splashed it on each other. Now I guarantee that Kathryne and Billy would tell a completely different story about living at Mom Fosterís farm cause they were permanent residents. They heard a lot more "looka heres" than I did. They were a working part of the whole. They chopped weeds from the corn patch. My body was there and I had a hoe, but I was not chastised for non-production. I was just there for love, and I got it. And I loved every last one of um.
When the weeds were being chopped in the corn patch, they covered jugs of drinking water in a gunny sack and draped it over a fence post. The wind blowing over the wet sacking kept the water cool for the workers. There werenít no cookies on premises, if there had been a soft drink it would have been Nephi soda, strawberry or grape (I found out about those goodies later in life).
Then there was the old threshing machine with its huge belts, fun to play on.
The sorghum mill, almost to the mail box. There was a house, the mill, in the front yard was energized by mules going round and round. It was an old grey boarded house. Mom Foster knew the people.
Funny, Iím not sure I can describe furnishing of houses Iíve lived in all these years, but I can tell you about Mom Fosterís kitchen. North wall, a glass fronted buffet, think it was called a china cabinet (no china) Ė snuff glasses Ė and on occasion, a cake on a pedestal, a strange thin egg white icing. To the right a big clock (it was Aunt Vivianneís job to wind it). I think they told the correct time by the whistle from the State School a mile east of the farm. Then a door leading to a lean-to type of room which held a long metal trough like container. It held the milk and cream cans that sat in water, cooled with ice brought from town, cloths draped over the cans into the water Ė crude refrigeration.
On the east wall that stately old black iron stove, door to living/bedroom. South by the door, a wash stand. The sink was a slender metal barrel, cut in half. No faucet, but to the right a bucket with dipper. (I hate the thought of that common cup). To the right of that, another stove, could have been generated by kerosene. They used it in lieu of, or in conjunction with big black wood one.
West wall, a window you could look out to the cellar, well, and of course, a little further from the house, north, the privy. North of the window, the famous "meal chest", think Papa Foster made it, as he did the wardrobe with two thick solid wood sides, thick wood work, counter indented where so many biscuit cutters had raked its surface; two large pull out bins, one for flour, the other for cornmeal; baking power, soda, etc., on a shelf on the back. Couldnít wager a guess as to how many hundreds of pound of flour and meal were worked there.
After my immediate family moved to Seminole, a move I sorely hated, we made many holiday trips back to my heaven, on dirt roads. One such trip, the road to Mom Fosterís was mired in mud. We had to leave the car near the highway between Pauls Valley and Wynnewood and walk, through ankle deep mud, two miles. What a sorry lot we must have presented, and no running water. How can I recall this??? Mom Foster presented us with a beautiful jar of peaches, with that precious thick cream poured over (I think Daddy carried clout in his Motherís eyes).
I cried each time we left. Guess the only solace were the big cold biscuits Mom Foster gave me to take home. This is funny now. My Mother was a prize cook. She probably could have killed me for cherishing those biscuits. Wonder she didnít throw them out the car window.
I canít remember Papa Foster. I still have the little tin ABC plate he gave me. So bent, itís wrinkled. There was a cup, cow stepped on it. They would take me to the cow lot and fill the cup with milk straight from ole Bossy.
One last story about Mom Foster: I was probably a senior in high school, maybe my last time on the farm. She had a hay ride. Donít know how she put it all together. Donít recall who was there except Duane Spradlin Ė G. D. Spradlin. His parents were school teachers at Liberty. I had not seen him since I was a little girl at a Christmas program at the school. He performed a reading about brushing your teeth. I was impressed (not much entertainment in my life then)! On the hay ride he kissed me. First kiss for me. Never heard from him again so guess it wasnít too whippy for him either! Now he is an actor, many character rolls. He was a naval officer in "Winds of War" mini series. If I knew an address I would write my first fan letter and remind him of how unimpressed he was.
FAYE (FOSTER) McKENZIE MARTIN
* * *
MARGUERITEíS MEMORIES OF MALISSA JANE
1938 to 1943 Ė Age 66 to 71
Her shotgun was a 10 gauge shotgun, which most people do not use since it kicks hard into the shoulder when fired. She kept her gun hanging behind the door facing at the top of the front door. This was the room she slept in so she was ready to anytime. Apparently this was a habit due to earlier frontier days when you might need a gun when answering the door. She had a "good eye" and she could always hit her target. Since I slept in the same room, it became a common occurrence for me to be awakened by the sound of the shotgun blasting another chicken hawk out of the sky. The family at that time consisted of 5 females and 1 little boy, so some of the people of the community felt that this family was an easy target for crime. She found that some of the food was disappearing out of the storm cellar. (The canned food was kept there since it was the coolest place on the farm.) One day, she acted like she was leaving the farm, but she doubled back with her shotgun. She found two men in the cellar stealing her food, so she held the gun on them and kept them in the cellar until the sheriff arrived. She didnít have any more trouble with people stealing from her.
One day Aunt Vivian came into the house with a bucket of water and told Malissa that a dog was out by the well and it had started to chase her. Grandmother said, "Vivian, Iíll get my gun and stand on the backporch and you go out after another bucket water. That dog looks like it has rabies, so if it does chase you - - Iíll kill it." Vivian had such trust in Grandmotherís ability to hit her target that she said "OK, Mama" and got her bucket. Now the well was at least 50 feet away from the backporch, Vivian went towards the well Ė the dog did chase her Ė Grandmother did shoot and hit her target. The dogís head was removed and sent to town for testing and the dog did have rabies.
Her Social Affairs
When a Home Demonstration Club was formed at the Liberty Community, she was a charter member. The County Fair was a great event and she always had canned goods and sewing to enter at the fair. It was a bad day if she didnít come home with several blue ribbons. When she was canning for the fair, it was a major event and everyone stood around handing her whatever she requested and watched while she placed each item so carefully into the canning jar.
Malissa Jane loved to dance, even though most of the community thought that dancing was a sin. At least once a month, her granddaughter, Kathryne Henderson, friends, Lurene Owens, Jiggs Williams, Grant Rhodes and several of the teenagers would go up to her in town and say "Miz Foster, can we have a dance at your house tonight?" Now this always happened on a Saturday (which was the only day that everyone went to town). Malissa would never just say "yes" Ė It was always "maybe" or "Iíll think about it". However, it was always said with a smile or a grin. This was the signal to all the kids so she would walk down the street with 8 or 9 teenagers trailing after her saying, "Please, oh Please". She always said yes, but she did so enjoy the attention of the kids. (Plus the attention that all of them attracted). This always seemed to happen around 4 oíclock in the afternoon. So the groceries had to be purchased in a hurry and a quick trip home because all of the furniture had to be moved to have a dance. The bed had to be broken down and moved into the front room along with the dresser. Sometimes the stove would be removed to the backporch (looking back on it, she knew before we went to town about the dance, since she didnít leave the coals banked for easy starting when we returned home). The radio stand was the only item left in the room and the coal oil lamp was placed on top of the radio. Music was furnished by the Billingsley boys who lived Ĺ mile away. They stood next to the lamp, not so they could read the music (they didnít use it), but so they could protect the lamp, since a fire would erupt if anyone knocked over the lamp. The music was strictly country. The type of dance that was called "straight", where the woman moved backward and the man guided her in the direction that he wanted to go. Some of the teenagers danced a new dance called the two step, this was two steps to one side and one step to the other side. One of the senior citizens named Tom Baker always danced twice with all the women regardless of their age, so girls of 12 or 13 danced their first public dance with him. "Put Your Little Foot" and a waltz were always played at least once for Malissa Jane (so they could have another dance later). The Billingsleys were paid by "passing the hat". Six couples would fill the "dance room" so everyone else stood in the kitchen or other bedroom waiting for their turn to dance. After the dance, the men and boys would move the furniture back into the bedroom. This event was the highlight of the month and everyone considered that they had a grand time. To my knowledge, Malissa Jane was the only one in the community that had any social event for the people of Liberty. The next morning all of our family would be in church (at the Liberty Schoolhouse) and invariably Miz Pope or Miz Dockam would preach on the hellfire and danger of dancing. Grandmother would smile and put her quarter (her normal contribution) in the collection plate for the preacher.
TALES THAT VIRGIE CASTO TOLD ME
Around 1916, Henry Foster bought his first automobile. His children saw him driving up the road to the house and they ran out to greet him and admire the new car. He drove up to the plank gate and yelled "whoa" like he always did to the horses - - but the new car didnít understand verbal commands like the horses did and he ran right through the plank gate with the new car that had been driven just 5 miles. Needless to say, none of the children let him see them laughing about his problem.
A week or so later, Grandpa took Grandmother to town for the shopping. Upon their return, Grandpa said "Lissie, you know how hard it is to start this car, so when we get to the mailbox, Iíll slow down and you jump out of the car, get the mail and run and catch up with me". Malissa said, "Alright Papa". Apparently, neither one of them realized that a car going slow is a lot faster than a team of horses and wagon. She jumped out and the car was going so fast that she rolled head over heels for some distance. Grandpa kept driving, so she had to jump up, get the mail, and run to catch the car. I believe that Mother told me that Grandmother ended up walking the rest of the way to the house. One of the trips that Grandpa took to Hot Springs, Arkansas for the mineral baths, he brought home a present for Grandmother. It was a 10í x 12í rug for the house. He was so proud of himself for the purchase, but when Grandmother saw it, she started laughing and hurt his feelings. He had not realized that with 5 small children, no sidewalks or paved streets or grass, there wasnít any way that she could keep mud and dirt off of the rug. (They didnít have electricity or a vacuum cleaner to clean it, so her only way to clean it would have been to put it on the clothes line and beat it.)
Grandpa could not understand why the washing was not done every Monday like his Mother had done it. Grandmother never explained to him that if she washed on Monday, the children would not have clean clothes on Sunday since there was only two sets of clothes for each child. So washing was done on Friday and ironing was done on Saturday so everyone had clean clothes for church on Sunday.
ODDS & ENDS
Grandmother was 5í4" tall and she weighed over 200 pounds at this time. She wore her hair long (it reached down to her waist) and she wore it in a bun on top of her head. She always had a large apron tied around her waist and a small snuff can in the pocket of her apron. Hers was the only family in the Liberty community that consisted only of women. The men of the area could not believe that a single woman could survive at that time without a man to support them. They were convinced that she had to be selling moonshine or whiskey. Maybe it was because she did enjoy a little "nip" of whiskey once in a while. Most of the women thought she was sinning because of it. Malissa would enjoy her whiskey and snuff and be in church every Sunday morning to sing as loud as anyone when they sang "Iíll Fly Away, Oh Glory" and "Beulah Land". She survived by raising a garden, turkeys, chickens and cows. She canned the produce of the garden. She sold the turkeys to the creamery at holiday time. She separated the milk and sold the cream and eggs to the creamery during the year for money. Her grocery list was very simple Ė flour, coffee, cornmeal, brown beans, sugar, salt pork, syrup and spices. During this time frame, I remember it was a great treat to have a day-old loaf of bakery bread or to have an orange or banana, usually only at Christmas time. So, you see, Malissa Jane was one of those pioneer women who was first to assert her rights and do anything that anyone else could do and not be dependent upon anyone. She enjoyed life and people, and she never acted as though life was difficult or hard. I didnít know that we were poor until I was an adult. The cookbooks giving "Soul Food" recipes could have been written by Malissa Jane Foster. I remember how pleased she was when one of the neighborhood boys would kill a possum and bring it to her, so she could have possum and sweet potatoes. (It tasted just as gross as it sounds, I would eat biscuits and syrup those days.)
HER LIFESTYLE IN 1938 AT AGE 66
In 1938, she had a kerosene cookstove that she didnít have in 1910. In 1910 her cookstove was a woodstove. She had a radio that was powered by a wind charger that sat on top of the house. When the wind didnít blow, the radio couldnít be played. These two items are the only difference in her life from 1910 to 1938. Life was very simple and it would be considered very difficult by todayís standards. There was no electricity or running water. Those of you who remember the Denson farm will remember it was a small four room house, one bedroom had two beds, a wardrobe and the big box . (These last two items were made by Henry Foster). The shed bedroom was 9" lower than the rest of the house, it only had room for one bed and a chest of drawers. However, this room was where the #3 washtub was put for all of us to take our baths in the spring and fall season. The kitchen was filled with a kerosene cookstove, foodsafe, mealchest, cream separator, large round table with two leaves in it, a long bench for small children along one side, the wash stand with the wash basin on it, a water bucket with a dipper in it and 3 or 4 buckets of water were sitting beside the wash stand. (For the benefit of you younger people, the dipper was a cup-like device with a long handle on it that was the community drinking cup. Everyone drank out of it.) The washbasin always had water in it and everyone used the same washwater. It was only emptied when the water was very dirty. There was no electricity or running water. Heat was furnished by a woodstove in the bedroom next to the kitchen. This room had only one bed, a stand for the radio, a dresser with a mirror (the only mirror in the house) and 5 or 6 wood chairs with cane or rope bottoms. A coal oil lamp was always sitting on the dresser. The lamp did not give out enough light to read by unless you were sitting directly in under it, and then you blocked off the light from everyone else, so no one read anything after dark. The radio could not be played very much, but Malissa always tried to turn it on for the "Stamps Quartet". There were no newspapers, so we did not hear about Pearl Harbor until the next day when I went to school. Wood had to be carried into the house and if the coals werenít bank properly, a fire had to be started the next morning. This was done by putting a few small twigs in the stove, covering with logs and throwing a small amount of kerosene on the kindling and putting a match to it. Needless to say, it was very cold in the house in the early morning until the fire was "going good". In the summertime, it was so hot in the house that the beds were moved out into the front yard and all of us slept outside, the beds were placed so the shade of the house would cool the beds off after a hot afternoon sun. In the wintertime, Malissa had a featherbed mattress on her bed, and woe be to the child that ever leaned against the featherbed, because the depression of feathers always gave you away. Sad irons were heated on the woodstove in the wintertime, wrapped in towels and placed at the foot of the bed under the covers to get your feet warm after you had undressed. I never could seem to remember that the iron was there, because later at night I would ram my feet down and hit the irons and hurt my toes. Water was carried into the house from the well, or if the well was low on water, then it was carried from the spring down at the bottom of the hill. The spring was about Ĺ block away, but it felt like a mile if you were carrying two buckets of water. Needless to say, no one ever went to the spring with just one bucket.
Washing the clothes was done by building a wood fire in the backyard under a large black pot, boiling the clothes and beating the clothes with a wooden and metal object called a plunger. After the clothes were boiled with the soap, then they were rinsed in other tubs of water and the water wrung out of each article by hand between the tubs. It is very difficult to wring out overalls or sheets by hand. Try it sometime. The black pot was always placed as close to the well as possible because all water had to be pulled up out of the well with a bucket and pulley, and you certainly didnít want to have to pull up that water and then carry it any distance.
Ironing was done by heating a sad iron on the woodstove in the wintertime and on the kerosene cookstove in the summertime. The sad iron was an oval piece of cast iron with the holes in the top so a wooden handle could clamp on it and lift it up. When the sad iron was removed from the stove, it was first rubbed against a paper (Sears catalog worked) to remove the soot from it and if you were feeling really special, then you would run the iron over a branch of cedar to make the clothes smell good. This procedure had to be done quickly because the iron would cool off if you took too much time. There were always 2 irons and usually 3 irons were used so the other irons could be heating while you were using one.
Baths were in a #3 washtub used for washing clothes, water was carried into the house and heated on either the cookstove or woodstove, depending upon the season. If it was real cold outside, the tub was placed close to the woodstove. Then you had to be careful, because the side next to the stove would burn you if you touched it with a leg or back, and the side away from the stove was cold and would send shivers down your back if you touched that side. You tried very hard not to touch either side of the tub. In the summertime the tub was filled with water in the early morning left in the sun for the sun to heat. These baths were taken outside since who wanted to lift a tub full of water, or for that matter, who COULD lift a tube full of water. Wherever the bath was taken, the procedure was always the same. The smallest child was bathed first, then the youngest and the parent was always the last to bathe and everyone used the same bathwater.
Breakfast was not cooked until the cows had been milked and the milk was carried to the house. Coffee was boiled in a coffee pot with a little salt and sometimes an eggshell to keep it from being bitter. The kerosene cookstove was always filled in the afternoon, so there would be fuel for supper and breakfast. Biscuits were made from scratch in a large bowl. Grandmother would dip the bowl down into the flour in the meal chest, make a hole in the flour with her fist, put lard in the hole, shake out some baking powder in her hand, pour some milk and mix it with her hands, sprinkle flour on the mealchest breadboard, and roll the dough out with a rolling pin and her hands. She made big, fat, high biscuits. Eggs were cooked and put on a large platter with the meat, if we had any that day. All of the eggs were cooked the same way, so you considered yourself lucky if you got one that didnít have the yoke broken. There was always plenty of milk, and syrup was set on the table if someone wanted to mix butter and syrup on their plate for something sweet. Once in a while a jar of jam or jelly was opened, but that was usually saved for when company came.
The meal chest was where all of the baking was prepared. It was built by Henry Foster. It was a wooden chest about 42" high with a drop down top that slanted and covered the breadboard when it was let down. The top rested against the wall when it was raised. The breadboard was pulled out to reveal two large areas that would hold 50 pounds of flour on one side and an equal amount of cornmeal on the other. Above the breadboard, there was a small area that held a crock about 6" around that held salt. Various other items were also on this shelf, including the rolling pin. After breakfast, the milk was poured into the cream separator, and buckets placed to catch the cream and skimmed milk (we called it "blue john".) The separator had a handle which was turned. Dishes were washed while the milk was being separated. The cream was poured into the cream can to take to town to sell. The cream separator had to be washed immediately after it was finished or the milk would sour on the parts and be extremely hard to clean. Dishwater was thrown off the back porch when finished washing dishes.
Since everyone got up a little before daylight, everyone went to bed a little after dark, unless company was there, and everyone wanted to listen to them. This didnít seem to be a problem, since you couldnít listen to the radio or read.
The garden was the familyís source of vegetables Ė if we didnít grow it Ė we didnít have it to eat. Vegetables were canned and peaches from the trees were canned and placed in the cellar. Once in a while, a bushel of apples and berries were purchased for canning.
In 1940, her daughter, Virgie, got a job waiting tables at Dodsonís Cafť in Pauls Valley. She worked 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, and she made $5.00 a week. Things were a lot better after that. One of the first purchases was an Aladdin lamp. This was a gasoline lamp with mantles, that had a pump built into it. When the lamp was lit, the whole room had light in it, and you could read a book 7 or 8 feet away from it. One of the next items to be purchased was a gasoline washing machine. It had to be placed on the backporch, since it had a long metal flexible pipe that was called an exhaust. You didnít touch any part of it because it would give you a bad burn. The washing machine had a pedal on it, so you filled the machine with soap and water and pushed real hard with your foot on the pedal and the machine started. You turned one switch and the dasher inside the machine would move back and forth. You turned another switch and the wringer would roll and you could put a pair of overalls or sheets into the wringer and it would wring all the water out of the clothes. But, you had to be real careful, because if you got your fingers caught in the wringer it could pull your whole arm into the wringer, and it was strong enough that it could break bones. The washing could be done in a couple of hours instead of taking all day. The next purchase was a gasoline iron. It was filled with gasoline, pump the pump on it, and it stayed hot until you turned it off or ran out of gas, whichever came first. When it was laid down or set upright, you could see the blue flame shooting out of it. When we had these items, we felt like we had everything the city folks had.
MARGUERITE (CASTO) BILLINGSLEY
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ELOISE Ė MEMORIES OF A "LIVE IN" GRANDDAUGHTER
Having lived in the same house with Grandmother from age 5 until marriage, I have so many memories I could practically write my own book.
I guess my first memory of Grandmother was after I had walked through a field with Mother and Marguerite to Grandmotherís house. I had got in some "stinging nettle". Grandmother got some peach tree leaves, crumbled them up and rubbed them on the terrible stinging places on my legs to relieve the pain.
After we moved in to live with her, I remember her braiding my hair for school and on extra special occasions she used the curling iron. As there was no electricity, she heated the curling iron by placing it in the lamp.
I remember the big dinners we had when everyone in the family came, probably on Sunday. I donít know why, but everyone had to sit at the table to eat. As the table was not big enough for all the people, the men would eat at the 1st table, the kids at the next and the poor women ate at the last table and had what was left. This was before the days of womenís lib for you young people.
For Grandmother to have had only a 3rd grade education, she was a pretty smart lady. I remember being really impressed when she said her ABCs backwards faster than I could say them forward.
Also, the way she spelled "big" words such as c o m, com, p a t, pat, compat, i, compati , b i l, compatibil, i compatibili, t y , compatibility.
One story grandmother used to tell us a lot was about Uncle Dewey. They used to nurse their babies for a long time, as they believed they would not get pregnant again as long as they were nursing the baby. In order to wean him, she put black on her breast. The next time Uncle Dewey came up and said "titty, Momma", she pulled out her breast and showed him it was black and told him the dog got his dinner. He went to the back door and stomped his foot at the dog and said, "Get, you old booger you".
After we moved to town, Grandmother dated a man from Wynnewood, Mr. Ralph Peck. He also had a girlfriend in Wynnewood named Annie Sikes. They were neighbors of Grandmotherís sometime. They used to tell that Annie had a son named R. Q. She would go outside and call him saying, "R. Q., R. Q. come and let me wash you".
I got sidetracked, but Mr. Peck (Grandmother called him that too) would take us to Sulphur to swim. We would go in his Model A Ford. Aunt Vivian, Grandmother and Mr. Peck in the one seat inside and Charles and I in the rumble seat behind.
Grandmother made she and Aunt Vivian bathing suits out of flour sacks. Grandmother was a very large lady but she was very proud of the fact that she could float on her back "all day long".
Grandmother also brought about one of my most embarrassing moments. She always kept her "slop jar" under her bed. One night when one of my boy friends brought me home, we were on the front porch "saying goodnight". Now Grandmother didnít sit on the slop jar as she was large. Anyway the doors were open as we didnít have air-conditioning and only linoleum floors. You can guess the rest. I heard the very distinct sounds of the slop jar being pulled out from under the bed and she let loose. To me, it sounded like Niagara Falls but I didnít tell my boyfriend what it was and I never did know if he figured out why we moved way to the other end of the porch.
Iím sure all the grandchildren can remember the dowser, the rules about not sitting on the edge of the bed, not rocking a chair with no one in it and her backing up to a door and rubbing against it to scratch her back.
ELOISE (CASTO) HARRELL
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BONNIE Ė LITTLE GEMS I REMEMBER ABOUT LISSIE
In her later years, according to her, she couldnít see or hear "a thing", but youíd better not say anything you didnít want her to know, cause sheíd join in the conversation.
One time when we were all down at Pauls Valley, Dave had worn a red plaid shirt. Lissie was sitting in her chair. Sheíd just spent several minutes telling us she just couldnít see anything anymore. Dave came by on his way outside, she reached out and snagged him, and reeled him in and said, "that sure is a purty red shirt Dave".
Another time, Edd and I were down, she was there by herself. Virgie had gone to the store. Again, she told us she couldnít see much. This time she was sitting in her room at the window. Virgie drove up in the front because Edd had the driveway blocked. Lissie said, "thars Virgie."
Her fondness for garlic occasionally got the best of all of us, especially Virgie. There was only her and Virgie there when the incident happened, but Iíll never forget her telling us about it. Virgie came home from work, "she sniffed in this corner, and she sniffed in that corner", accompanied by indignant gestures. "I was laying on the bed and she came over and sniffed me. Then she went in the kitchen and got the spray can, sprayed the whole room and then, by golly, she sprayed me!"
Lissie thought the world of the cistern. We were all scared to death one of the kids would fall in it. One of Haysí favorite stories was about one time when he, Butch and Charles were together at the house alone except for Malissa Jane. She told the kids to stay away from the cistern, that there was an alligator in it. I donít know how old they were, but they were all small. Well, it seems that there was quite a discussion about it. Neither Charles nor Hays wanted to chance being eaten by an alligator, if there was one. So, Butch, being the youngest, they decided to lower him into the cistern. Apparently Butch resisted loudly and fortunately Virgie came home and rescued him. Next time we were down, it was boarded up. Hays wonders what happened to the alligator?
BONNIE (SMITH) FOSTER
* * *
MY MEMORIES OF MAMA FOSTER
My first thought is seeing her sitting in her rocking chair, patting the arms with her hands as she talked, with the foot stool as I recall made of 3 cans.
The first experience of home remedies came as a young girl of 6 or 7, with a severe case of sties on both eyes. None of the medicine Mom tried was working. Mama Foster told her to cut an Irish potato in half and put it over my eye. It worked. Another time when I was older was very strange, but it too worked. Then there was the time I had inward warts. She mixed up a salve, almost lost the end of my finger Ė didnít work.
There were all sorts of amazement for a young child in the backyard: The big tub of huge red worms and how she fed them. The chickens and how weíd beg until sheíd finally let us put out the sitting eggs, way too early. Of course, the garlic, with the stories of how it made you healthy. The mint that smelled so good and tasted good in iced tea.
Most always loved the diving rod, that worked for me and not some of the others. And all the stories that she loved to tell of how people paid others to drill for water, and they couldnít find any, and then sheíd come in with her rod and find it; of finding buried treasure left by outlaws. Charles digging up the front yard because she insisted there was gold or silver buried there and Aunt Virgieís insistence there wasnít.
Of course her snuff and always wanting to hide it (spit glass) when Gay was coming Ė SO THE STORY GOES!
But most of all that she was ALWAYS a happy woman and loved to have someone to visit and share her stories. And last, but not least, the Tennessee Waltz.
As I write the more things come to mind. Sending money to Brother Roberts for Aunt Vivian and other causes because she firmly believed in his powers.
The time when she had to be in her 80s and she came out and jumped rope with us when we were all gathered out at Kathryneís, and I guess it may have been the same day, I vaguely remember, Uncle Walt took her up to fly for the first time, and she loved it.
I was with her at the end and she was still the way I had always seen, even to wiping the corners of her mouth so as to keep the snuff from showing so no one would know.
GAYLE (HODGES) TRAVIS
Great Granddaughter Ė Dewey/Juanita)
* * *
MY MEMORIES OF GRANDMOTHER FOSTER Ė JOY
My early memories of my Foster relations is fragmented. Being a grandchild that was born down in the middle of the pack, Grandmother Foster was always an old lady to me. My memories are quite different than some of the first grandchildren. I can remember visits to Grandmotherís house when she lived out on the "old Denson Place". My memories of these times are not so much of people, but things. I was fascinated with the privy. After all, being a "city" kid (we lived in Pauls Valley and Duncan during my early years), all WE had was a dull old bathroom inside the house. The outdoor facilities offered all sorts of interesting adventures and dangers. As I recall, there was reading material for all ages (the Sears Catalog), which served a dual purpose, and a very small girl had to be very careful how she balanced over that hole Ė who know what would have happened to someone who was unlucky enough to lose their balance and fall in ! !
Another neat thing they had on the farm that we didnít have in the city was kerosene lamps. When it got dark somebody had to go around and light them and they gave off a distinctive smell.
There were chickens on the farm and you had to be pretty careful and keep a sharp eye out if you went bare footed, chicken do between the toes was not a pleasant happening. I never have been a lover of chickens, donít even like to eat them. I wonder if this is because I was traumatized in my youth? I can remember that Grandmother didnít mess around when it came to wringing the chickenís necks. If extras showed up for mealtime, sheíd cut another chicken out of the herd and wring its neck with an expertise built on years of experience.
In those early days, whenever there was any family gathering, there was usually a game of checkers or dominoes going on, especially if Uncle Dewey was around. There was always lots of cousins to play with or if you were lucky, an older one that would let you tag around with them.
After Grandmother moved into town, I visited her and Aunt Virgie by myself quite often. I used to occasionally spend a week with my other Grandmother who also lived in Pauls Valley and she would allow me to walk over to Grandmother Fosters and visit in the afternoon. We used to sit and talk, but I canít remember what about. I can see her now as plain as if it were yesterday sitting there in her rocker. She dipped snuff and her spit can was never very far away. That can was not the most appetizing sight and I tried never to have to LOOK too closely at it. Also, you learned to be very quick to turn a cheek when you were about to get a grandmotherly kiss.
I was fascinated with Grandmotherís ability to find water with her dowser, made preferably from a forked "Ellum" or peach branch. It looked very much like an oversized wishbone. One time she taught me how to do it and I was thrilled when the dowser actually twisted out of my hands. I never tried my hand at actually finding a well though. Who knows? I may have missed my calling. Might have been the greatest water witch of all times. After all, look who my teacher was! She even showed me how that if I cut a notch in the end of the dowser, and inserted a coin, it was possible to find treasure. You could put another coin on the ground and without fail, when she passed over it with her dowser, it would twist almost out of her hands and point down to the coin on the ground. She once convinced Charles that there was buried treasure in the front yard, and Aunt Virgie came home from work one afternoon and found, to her dismay, the front yard being excavated by Charles under the close supervision of the Family Matriarch. To her last days she was convinced there was buried treasure in that yard just waiting to be found by the person with enough energy to dig for it.
She also had quite a reputation as a "floater" and her swim suits were legendary, made from bright flour sacking in sizes to modestly cover her ample proportions. I can remember at least once being witness to her swimming prowesses, on a family picnic at Platt National Park. The little creeks that run through the park are icy cold, fed by natural springs. She just laid back in the water and went bobbing off like a cork. She had a taste for the mineral waters at Platt, and anytime we made a trip there, we always took a jug of the water back for her.
Grandmother loved to dance and always danced the Tennessee Waltz on her birthday to the delight of those who gathered to celebrate those momentous occasions. How many can boast of having a Grandmother who danced the Tennessee Waltz on her 100th birthday?
As an adult I became interested in family history and loved to hear the stories of her girlhood near Elizabethtown, Kentucky. The last time I visited with her, just 10 days before her death, she talked about Kentucky and her Grandparents, Uriah and Polly Laswell whom she never saw after she came to Oklahoma. She told about how her Grandmother Crow always came to visit whenever there was a new baby. The sassy little Malissa did not like her Grandmother Crow Ė "not a-tall", "she was too bossy".
She was a stubborn, independent, hard working, feisty, resourceful and loving lady and Iím proud to be her granddaughter and I can only hope that even just a little bit of that rubbed off on me.
JOY FOSTER SWIHART
* * *
AFTER THOUGHTS Ė MARGUERITE
The only other item that I remember was the "ICYBALD". It was purchased to keep the cream cool until it could be taken to town and sold to the creamery. It was a large metal box about four feet square and probably 30 inches high. The walls of the box were about four inches thick and the lid lifted up to rest against the wall. It had a metal device that rested in a 3" curved hold in one of the walls just under the lid of the box. The metal device was not aluminum, because it was heavy and hard for Malissa Jane to lift up over the top of the box. It had two metal balls about 14" around. These were connected to each other by a curved metal pipe about 2" in circumference. Apparently this pipe was hollow inside. One o the metal balls had a hollow inside with just enough room for the 2" by 9" ice tray to fit inside it. The other metal ball apparently had Freon inside it. The procedure to make ice consisted of setting the ball on a small kerosene stove until it reached a certain temperature and then quickly picking up the device and putting it into the box with the ice cube tray inside. The tray was filled with water and inserted into the ball. The lid was quickly pulled down over the box and it couldnít be opened until the frost had left the ball that had been left hanging on the outside of the box. I remember that it was fascinating to see the frost and condensation form on the ball that was left outside the box. Of course, we never got to eat the ice because it had to stay inside the box to keep it cool. The ice was made every 2 or 3 days and no one ever used it except Malissa Jane.
Malissa Jane always raised flowers. Regardless of how difficult times were, she had to have flowers of some kind. The ones that most of us remember were on the front porch. She had strung some chicken wire from the ground up to the roof of the porch. (We must have borrowed the chicken wire, because the only place that I can remember that had chicken wire was around the garden to keep the chickens out Ė the chickens were never confined while she lived on the farm). The wire on the front porch had sweet peas planted under it every year and the fragrance was delightful when you stepped upon the front porch. She grew flowers on the north side of the house and some herbs. I remember dill as one of the herbs she grew. She always had poppies until the farm agent told everyone to stop growing it since OPIUM could be made from the poppies.
Malissa Jane moved back to Pauls Valley in 1944 to live with her daughter Virgie. She took her chickens and one cow with her. She immediately made a garden on the small town lot. The neighbors did not object to the garden and they didnít object to the chickens until Malissa decided that the chickens needed some green food, and she turned them loose on the front yard. I donít think she wanted them to have the green food so much as she didnít have to buy chicken feed if there were roaming and eating bugs on our yard and the neighborís. The police came to see us quite frequently, since the neighbors didnít appreciate the chicken mess on their sidewalk. Malissa would smile, invite the police to come in and "set" and then she would agree to keep the chickens inside the pen. She would always seem to forget about keeping the chickens penned in a month or so. The cow was the real problem in the neighborhood. The odor did get a little strong in the summer with the manure piled up in one corner of the cow lot. Malissa couldnít understand why the neighbors objected to the cow and odor. After all, in 1900 she had lived just two blocks away and everybody had a cow and chickens. So she simply could not see what all the fuss was about. However, the police finally got forceful and strong talking about the cow. The chickens were kept for another five years and the garden was kept for five years after that. I believe she was 80 or 85 when she finally stopped gardening.
The episode with the cow left a problem between Malissa and the neighbor on the south. It finally got to the point that even mowing the yard an inch on each otherís property would result in an argument. One time in particular, tempers were so heated that Malissa walked up and down the sidewalk in front of the neighbors house, daring her to come out and fight. Malissa said she would whip her -----. Virgie was humiliated and apologized to the neighbor for this episode. Malissa was 85 at the time.
Other Memories 1938-19??
There wasnít any television, radio, newspapers or books, so Malissa entertained the family with ghost and witch stories. Eloise and Charles were always frightened by the tales, which she swore were the truth. She stated that one of the grandmothers was a witch, and she was a witch too. Malissa really was a witch Ė a water witch. The people in the community would ask her to help when they were going to dig a well. She would take a forked branch from an Elm or Peach tree (she preferred peach), holding the branch in both hands, she would walk until the branch turned down towards the ground. She marked that spot and approached from two other angles, until the branch turned down again. She would tell how far down the people would have to dig by the strength of the branch turning down. I cannot begin to count the number of times that they came for her to find water for them, but I never knew of any time that she told them that they had water and they didnít find it at the depth she advised. Of course, sometimes the property didnít have water and she stated the fact. She also stated that she could find metal (gold) by using the forked branch. This created real PROBLEMS between Malissa and Virgie. Malissa would use the branch and tell Charles to dig in certain areas. She knew that there was buried treasure on the lot on Locust Street because some bank robbers had reportedly buried their loot in the area. One time, Virgie came home and found a 3 foot hole that was almost 3 foot deep. There were quite a few words exchanged. Malissa and Charles were told that there would NOT be any more holes dug in the ground. The big explosion came one day when she came home and found a big hole in the grass in the front yard. This hole was almost 3 feet deep and about 4 feet long. There wasnít anyone in the house that didnít know that NO MORE HOLES. Virgie was angry every time she saw the spot until the grass finally grew back.
Malissa liked Ouija boards, but she used the dowser with an insight to human behavior. If she wanted to know who did something or what happened, she would get out the dowser (it was a metal fishing weight with a string tied to it) and ask a question. The dowser would answer by going left to right for yes, and forward and back, for no.
I donít think she was ever intentionally cruel, but sometimes she would make a decision and that was that. When Kenneth came to live with her, she decided that his name was Billy, (I donít know if the name Kenneth had unpleasant memories or not) and no matter how many times Kenneth would say his name was Kenneth, she would say, "no, it isnít, itís Billy". I guess that Jewell, Kathryne, and I were the only ones that called him Kenneth. When he played in the peach orchard though, he wasnít Kenneth Ė he was Ken Maynard (a famous western movie star) and I was always the girl who had to be rescued by Ken throwing his rope. He was 5 or 6 at the time.
Malissa Jane and Her Vices
She always had a small can of snuff in her apron pocket. She tried cigarettes, but they were too expensive for her. She would occasionally smoke a pipe, I guess because her mother did. The item that she really enjoyed was a little nip of whiskey. Now she was living with Virgie, who probably could have qualified for a charter membership in the W.C. T.U. (Womenís Christian Temperance Union) and Oklahoma was a state that was dry. So the only way that you could obtain whiskey was by calling a bootlegger. Malissaís boys would always bring her a pint of whiskey when they came to see her. She would hide it in the top of the wardrobe or various other places. She would go to her hiding place, take a drink (straight) and come back into the living room with a big smile on her face. Virgie would say, "Mama, have you been drinking?" Malissa would get a real horrified look on her face and say, "Who me? Ė No!" Then when Virgie wasnít looking, she would smile a smug little grin.
After a while, Malissa learned about Sen-Sen. So when she went to the wardrobe to get a drink, she would go to her dresser drawer and get a Sen-Sen tablet to take away the smell. All of us knew when she had taken a drink when we smelled the Sen-Sen.
Malissa had a boyfriend named Mr. Peck. He had a little Ford Coupe that he took her and Vivian to Turner Falls to go swimming. Now they didnít make swimming suits big enough to fit Malissa, so she made a top and bottom out of flour sacks. If I remember, one was red and the other yellow. I never saw her swim, but she would lay down on the water and float, and someone would push her across the deep water. After a while the little Ford Coupe leaned over on the passenger side because Malissa was heavy and Mr. Peck was a tall thin man. - - - - - MARGUERITE