I was asked to write some things down that I remember, before they are lost to unrelenting time. So first off I apologize to every one who has a talent for this, but this ain’t for them it’s for the one that asked for it. My earliest memory is about 1944 in Kansas City KS in a little house made from a garage in the back of the owners house on Wood Ave. There is a picture of me standing beside this house with bad burn on my right arm where I touched it to a hot stove. though I don’t remember the accident. I do remember one night in a terrible storm the house next to the owners house was struck by lighting and caught fire. Fire trucks and firemen were on the scene with a big ladder I guess getting people out of the upstairs bedroom. I remember the flowers in the ladies house behind ours and I remember a young man walking by with his arm in a sling. Dad said he was the owners son “Got pepperd with buckshot for being a peepin’ Tom”. I remember an ambulance that came to take my Dad to the hospital for an ulcer attack and how sick he was when he came back home. Later he said he wouldn’t let them work on him because the doctors couldn’t make up there minds about what to do.
Right after that we moved back to Missouri to a farm owned by Hobart Bean about 3 miles from where I was born in a 3 room shack that was a log cabin on the west end, which was mom and dads bedroom. Mom said the floor slanted so bad she had to push the dresser back to the wall every morning. They called it the Emett Redford place. Mom said the old doctor came to the house to deliver me and laid me on the kitchen table where I immediately turned over on my stomach. Doc. Wendel said “say that boys gonna be a handful” or something like that. Rosie and I visited the old place sometime in the 70s. There was a spring coming out of the hill side where mom got our water with lots of water cress; fresh and pure. If you ever had a bacon and water cress, on one of moms biscuits you got a little taste of heaven. It was Abandoned with small trees growing in the front from being neglected and forgotten. Inside; news papers from 1938 and 40 lined the walls floor to cieling to keep out the cold. The ceiling was tar paper nailed with roofing nails. Mom said you could here the mice running to and fro all night long across that tar paper. I took a door panel from the door that was falling apart and we left. There were daffodils growing on the hill next to the house just like Mom said on Feb 12th 1941 my first day.
Dad paid Doc. Wendel with a ton of hay cause he had no money he was making .50 cents a day so there wasn’t any extra. I remember Mom said the Christmas Eve before I was born he walked a mile and a half in the snow to Barn’s Store to get our presents. Three oranges; One for himself and one for my brother and sister and a 10 cent powder puff for Mom. They had just come back from California where they lived in a tent while Dad picked fruit to keep us going. Dad loved it but Mom hated it so they came back; back to .50 cents a day.
He was sick and weak for awhile at the Beans place but finally he went to a Doctor who lived way up in hills; who had a reputation for healing people with ulcers. He gave him some gray powder; like ashes and told him to buy a goat and drink lots of goats milk and eat raw eggs, take an ax and go to the woods and start choppin’. as soon as he was better he went to work for a time in Springfield that had something to do with war production but it didn’t last long after the war ended. One day while my brother J.D. and I were walking back from the pond not far from the house J.D. took some lead B.B.s in his mouth as he always did to load them down the the long magazine of the B.B. gun “cause it’s easier this way” he got a funny look on his face ” I swallowed one he said “quick beat me on the back” and began to try and throw up. “I could die of lead poisoning” lets run home mom will know what to do…..she gave him a piece of bread and told him it would take care of it.
Dad put in a crop of corn with my uncle Ports horse and plow, then in ’47 we moved to the Nicholson place another farm about 7 miles south. It was about 100 acres, hilly and rocky but had an orchard, hen house, outhouse, smoke house, a good well, a barn and 25 head of cows to milk ……night and day 7 days a week. But it looked like adventure to me and it was my favorite place to live and I think J.D.s too. (to be continued)
There are a few more memories of the old Bean place that I could write about. Mom was pregnant with the 4th child so when she went to the hospital my grandma Jane Inman came to take care of us. My grandpa Inman had died from what they thought was appendicitis a few years earlier I think in ’44 or ’45. He had refused to go to the hospital and died in agony, I can barely remember him but I know he had snow white hair. He worked part time in a cabinet shop and I think I saw him there once.
Some time went by and one day Dad came home to tell us that our brother Carl had died right after birth; then he broke down and cried heart broken. I know it was hard on him and mom and I think dad had just about had enough. But he withstood the blow and went on with the job at hand. He always did. I remember him talking about working for the railroad. They expected the road gang to pick up a railroad tie soaked in creosote and carry it on your shoulder to where ever they needed it. He said it was so hot your shirt would turn white with the salt from your sweat and you would wear the skin off your shoulder in no time. He was the bravest man I ever knew right to the end.
J.D. showed me how to smoke what ever was available shoot a B.B. gun,clean a squirrel and a catfish but no cussin’. He knew mom would find out where I got it. We had one old Guernsey cow on the Beans place and Dad kept a 50 lb sack of bran next to the door of the barn to feed her a handful each time he milked her. I would walk by that sack and grab me a handful; I thought it was good eating. Other things that happened…. I cut my hand pretty bad on a barbwire fence and came home one day to find my dog Major shot with a .22 and bleeding. Dad said he may have been someplace he shouldn’t have been. The smell of kerosene lamps before we got Electricity, Mom washing clothes on a ringer washer with a little gasoline motor for power and the whole house smelled like exhaust. Double pneumonia when I was about five and old doc Wendel letting me play with his watch while I lay on the couch close to death while he was listening to my chest with his stethoscope.
The Nicholson place had plenty for a little guy to explore and I knew ever inch of it. There was a spring fed stream that went by the barn and dumped into a bigger creek going under the one lane bridge below the house which in turn dumped into Elk river about 1/2 mile down the road and round the bend. Ground hogs, squirrels, rabbits, muskrats, hoot owls and Mocking birds by the thousands kept us entertained in the day and when the sun went down there was Sky King, The Lone Ranger for action and Fibber Mcgee and Molly and Amos an’ Andy kept us in stitches on the radio. Dad was making a little extra from the milk check he got in the deal on shares while he worked in the fields for old man Nicholson. For the first time in a long while we were doing better.