Upper Wolf School: The winter of 1929-30 I taught the Upper Wolf School, 4½ miles up one big hill and down two going to school and up two big hills and down one coming home. This was a little the toughest winter I ever had. Every day, five days a week, I walked 9 miles. Soon after school began, Brady took blood poisoning, and I would go down to Sutton twice a week. This added 20 to 45 miles, which made 65 miles each week besides teaching and doing my own cooking. I told Brady in March if I lived through the winter I would be so tough they couldn’t split me with a wedge and blow torch. I did live through the winter, and I was tough-but oh, so tired and ready to rest.
This was a rather backward school. Most of the children did not learn very well, and their moral status was very low. You could not believe what many said, and their fingers were so sticky. Yes, and they knew nothing about property rights. When I went to school the first day, the glass was broken out of more than half the windows and the roof was torn off the coal house. The children said the teacher watched them tear it off at noon and recess. The sash was broken out of some of the windows. One of the board told me that they gave me that school because I had taken such good care of the house at Poplar Ridge and maybe I could care for that one, too. There were no windows broken out while I was there.
Selling Fruit Trees: I began to sell fruit trees for Stark Brothers. I had fine luck. In the next few years I sold several hundred dollars worth besides getting our own trees much cheaper. I sold trees for at least 15 years and enjoyed it very much. I liked to get out among the farmers.
Weasels and Hawks in our Poultry: Elmo came up again and spent the summer with me. It was this summer that Pepper decided to clean the farm of weasels. He started by finding four in a rock pile. We got them all, an old one and three young ones about three-fourths grown.
We had two old hens and 24 little chickens in a coop up by the new house we were building. One morning when we went to work, we found one old hen dead and all the little chickens gone. I told Elmo that it was a weasel and told him to go down and get the guns and we would get the nasty thief before night. About 4 p.m. Pepper said he had found it in a brush pile. I asked Elmo if he would shoot it if I scared it out; he said he sure would. I scared it out, but no shot was fired. I asked him why he didn’t shoot. He said it went so fast he didn’t have a chance. Then I asked him if he would shoot it if I scared it out again. He said he absolutely would, but no shot was fired when it came out. I told him he had let it get away, but Pepper soon said it was up a bushy, leafy poplar. You ought to have heard that pup rave!
We soon located the thieving murderer. Elmo tried the .22, but he was so nervous that he missed. Then he grabbed the shot gun and rolled him out. So ended the weasels’ first attempt to sabotage the Randolphs’ poultry business in the death of the saboteur.
Three more times our poultry were raided. The next time I had gone to the lower hen house late in the evening to feed the hens. When I came back, I found a nice big young rooster dead. I picked it up to see what was the matter and found its throat was out. I went into the house. The cat came in and ran under the bed. Something squalled, and I smelled a weasel. Just then I saw a weasel run from under the bed. It got behind a board in the other room, and I shot it. So that was number two properly avenged.
The third time a weasel killed five young guineas in about one minute. When the old hen squalled, Archie, Mamma, Pepper and I rushed out. Pepper chased it up a bush, and Archie shot at it and missed. As that was the only shell we had, Archie went to Ira’s and got a shell and killed it. So five little guineas were most perfectly avenged.
Now comes the fourth attack on the poultry industry. One morning when we went out where about 300 young chickens were in open shelters, we found a chicken with its throat cut. Pepper took the weasel’s trail and holed it under a stump, but we couldn’t get it. That night I told Pepper to watch the chickens. When we went out the next morning, the chickens were all right. Pepper ran under the hill and said that he knew where the cowardly little thief was. We went down and dug it out. Pepper at once showed that blood-thirsty varmint that he was more than a match for any four-footed blood-sucker that ever lived. Never again did the weasel clan challenge our ability to protect our kingdom.
Before we conquered the weasels, we had another enemy to meet. I had a flock of 13 lovely young chickens. When I came home one Wednesday, there were only 12; on Thursday evening there were 11; and Friday there were only 10. When I saw how my flock was being destroyed, I said, “You have got your last chicken.” I watched all day; about 5 p.m. I heard a fuss from the chickens. I saw the hawk coming and waited till it was right over the chickens; then I let him have it. He dropped to the ground with such a surprised look on his face. He took a step or two and ceased to exist. He had paid the penalty for trying to destroy all the poultry on the farm of the Randolphs. The next morning just after daylight, I saw the mate of the hawk I killed sitting in a tree, so I shot it. This ended the threat to my little chickens.
Soon after this I found a hen had been killed by a hawk. This kept up till they had-killed three or four hens. I tried every way I could but failed to get it. One day after school was out Bee Huffman and I were up by the three walnuts when he saw a big hawk on the fence. I ran and got the gun. When I shot, Bee said I got it for it could hardly fly. I lost no more chickens, so I guess I did. This ended my trouble with hawks, but I had a few chickens stolen.
One evening when I came from school, I saw one of my roosters (worth at least $24) and four hens were gone. I thought at first that someone had stolen them to get a pen of superfine Rhode Island Reds, but Brady found the rooster’s band near a house on the outskirts of Sutton. A girl with a very shady reputation lived there, and two boys from the Ridge were going to see her. They undoubtedly had taken them down to have chicken to eat. Brady gave the band to the state cop and told him to go and get them. The cop was sent to another beat the next day and took the band with him, so we lost the evidence and could do nothing about it. We never lost more than two or three chickens at a time, and that was by boys who ate them.
More About Pepper: Pepper was a great hunter, but the trouble was he would go out before hunting season and get all the possums on the farm. The boys who hunted said there was no need to hunt on our farm for Pepper got them all. (I failed to tell that Elmo left Pepper on the farm when he went back to Salem the second summer.) Many a night I would hear Pepper barking and would know he would stay till daylight when the possum would come down and then he would die.
Pepper went everywhere with me. One night as we came from Sutton he found a fine big possum near the road. He went with me to Upper Wolf School every day but two. The children loved to have him there. Two or three times someone tried to claim the pup, but I said, “No,” very emphatically.
He had one very bad fault. He would go courting. One time he went down to Sutton and was gone for two weeks. Nearly all dogs in the country were poisoned, and I gave Pepper up, but he came home. As is sure to happen, he went once too often; and a man down on Buckeye who had a gyp shot him. He was very old, so he would not go out with me to work in hot weather but would come down to me in the evening. So died a noble dog, whose one fault, if it was a fault, was overshadowed by the finest nature and greatest intelligence with the truest loyalty, with no fear nor the least care for what might happen to him while he was doing what he felt was his work. I am no child nor have dealt with but few dogs but have owned some very fine dogs (in fact, I owned a very fine dog since Pepper died). But with all due respect to other dogs I ever owned and all dogs owned by anyone else, to my mind he stood head and shoulders above all of them. I declare of all dogs I ever knew, he was prince of them all.
Back at Poplar Ridge, 1929-30
The winter of 1929-30 I taught at Poplar Ridge, which was my last term for several years as I wanted to teach nearer the farm on Bug Ridge. This winter I did not board at Hosey’s. Instead I bached in a shanty out at Curt Hosey’s.
There was quite a mix-up about my assistant. The board hired Clyde Facemire’s girl (one of the board said she had been loafing on the job and they thought I would make her teach), but on the first day there was no assistant. I let a high school girl who wanted to teach that day take charge. At recess an auto drove up and a lady got out. She said she was Mrs. Skidmore, a sister of the girl who had the school, that Clyde’s girl let her sister have the school when she decided not to teach it. Her sister (Miss Ann Baxter) had been in an auto wreck and could not come to teach her school for a month. Mrs. Skidmore said she would come at the first of the next week and teach for three weeks till her sister could come. About 9 p.m. Clyde’s girl came up and said she was the teacher of the Cleveland School and that she would be up the next morning to teach. She did not come, and Miss Baxter taught the school. She was a very bright girl, but I found from her own account that she was tricky and thought it was smart to cheat.
Trouble at a Christmas Program: This year we planned a Christmas program, and one of the toughs bragged he would break it up. I had never asked for help, but I decided that two rooms, a hall and a big porch were more than I could handle by myself. I decided I would need two to help me. The trustee agreed he would help, but I didn’t believe he would be much help. So I went to Ed Davis (a big able man who was a special friend of mine), and he said, “Mr. Randolph, I’ll do anything you tell me to do. If you tell me to knock a man down, I’ll knock him down. If you tell me to throw him out of the house, I’ll throw him out.” I said, “All right, we’ll have a program.” A few days later Ene Perine (another big man) sent me word if I needed help he would help. I told his boy to tell him okay.
But as so often happens, when I needed help, none of them were there. A drunk man came onto the lot and began to swear. I allowed no swearing on the school grounds, so I said to him, ”We allow no swearing on the school grounds.” His reply was, “That’s the way we are in the habit of talking when we are out in the woods.” “Pardon me, you are not out in the woods tonight.” He kept on talking, and I told him there was no use talking, that he had to stop swearing. He wanted to know what I would do if he didn’t stop. I told him I’d put him in Sutton jail. “Sutton jail? That’s a pretty bad place, isn’t it?” he said. I told him there was no use talking about it, just stop swearing. He turned to Hans Hosey and said, “That’s the way we talked out in the woods, ain’t it, Hans?” Hans told him yes, but that no swearing would be allowed there.
I felt that I was in a tight place as he was considered a dangerous man and there seemed to be no help near. There were two Hosey boys (about 20 years old) standing on the porch. After Harris left, one of them said to me, “Mr. Randolph, we boys don’t want any trouble. We came here with our mothers and sisters to have a nice time. If there is any trouble, call on us.” This made me feel good!
One who said he would help me was out in the woods with another man. I guess they thought there was likely to be trouble so they were getting them a cudgel apiece. When they heard what had happened, one of them said, “We’ll fill Sutton jail.” The other spoke up, “Don’t say a word about Sutton jail. We’ll give ’em a hospital bill.” That settled the whole trouble.
A little later the man came out and said he didn’t mean any harm and that he would like to stay in and listen to the program. His nephew told him, “You’ve got too much, Charley.” “Yes,” he said, “I’ve got too much. I’ll just go on out the road,” and he did. His nephew told me he’d see that Charley didn’t bother us.
I expected trouble later, but he said when he sobered up that he got a bottle of whiskey when he got off the train at Centralia and drank too much and that I treated him exactly right by making him behave himself. So this ended happily, and I found I had the backing of the whole neighborhood.
This was the last program I had here for several years. I had a warm spot in my heart for these people. Whenever I went back, which was often, or whenever I met any of them, they had a warm welcome for me.
Friends on Poplar Ridge: I think it would be well for me to mention a few of my friends up on Poplar Ridge. Ed Davis was one of my stanch friends who got me the school again in 1939 and I would like to see him again. He sent nine children to me.
Martin Lynch was a good friend. He sent seven to me. Hans Hosey was another friend. Although he could not read, he sent his girl to me till she got an eighth grade diploma. Uncle Sell and Aunt Nancy Hosey were among my splendid friends. Their girl Gladys got a diploma. Dave and Sarah Hosey were where I boarded for three years and were among my best friends during my first four years of teaching there. Four of their children went to me. The youngest graduated from high school. Dave’s youngest brother was a good friend who sent five children to school to me.
I don’t want to forget John Dillon, who told me when I went there that he was 72 years old and the father of 22 children (there were two born after that) and that he hoped to have children in school as long as he lived. He sent eight to me. He died at the age of 90 and had two still in school.
A. C. Hosey was a friend with whom I spent one winter in a shanty and roomed one winter in his home. I boarded one winter with A. C.’s boy, who married Lexie Lynch. They were very nice to me. I think this is about enough to show I had a lot of friends.
I should mention Ene Perine, whose two boys went to school to me and then graduated from high school. Preacher Heron was a splendid friend, although none of his children went to school to me. I feel that I did good work in that school.
Spruce Lick School, 1930-31
I will now go to the winter of 1930-31, when I stayed at the Spruce Lick School. I will not write much about this school, for I am ashamed of it. If I had known what I was getting into, I would never have taught it-never, never!
You may wonder what kind of school could have such an effect on one who had taught where he had the worst, most disobedient, the vilest, the worst liars, the degenerate, and the immoral. But where others disobeyed, these didn’t know the meaning of the word obey. Where others were vile, these were below beasts. Where others were liars, these did not know truth. Where others were degenerate, these were reprobates. Where others were immoral, these knew not what the word moral meant. You ask, “How can children be so low?” That’s easy; they drank it in from their parents, from other people, and from other children as a baby drinks in its first breath of air.
Now don’t get the idea that there were no respectable people in the neighborhood, but they were so very scarce. Their children had grown up in the riffraff so that there were no high grade students among them.
I have had some filthy children in school, but I never saw anything like these children. An 8-year-old girl would write filthy stuff on a piece of paper, throw it down on the floor, then pick it up and bring it up to me and say she found it on the floor. I finally told her she wrote it herself and not to bring any more to me or she would be in bad. That stopped it. They would steal out chalk and write filth on stones and fences. I would not have taught that school again for twice the wages.
One of the toughest of these girls married Harm Sanson the next winter, when she was hardly 15. One of my friends speaking of her called her, “Harm’s little Hell Cat.” I thought this was a perfect description of her.
No School, 1931-32 This school cost me dearly, for one member of the board refused to give me a school. Brady went to him about it, but he denied it. Brady said to him, “You are a dirty, stinking skunk, and I believe you are a dirty liar.” Brady then went over to the secretary and to another member of the board, who told him no one else had said a word against my having a school except Marshal Skidmore. So Brady went back and told him, “Marshal, I told you, you were a dirty stinking skunk and that I believed you were a dirty liar; now I know it.” Marshal went off waving his hand back and saying, “Brady, I didn’t have a thing to do with it.”
The next winter I saw him (he was running for re-election), and he came up and shook hands and asked me if I was going to ask for a school. I answered very firmly, “I am.” He said, “That’s all right. Maybe you are mad at me. Your son is very mad at me.” I told him I was; not because he didn’t give me a school but for denying he was to blame when he was. He tried to dodge, but I gave him no consolation.
He tried for a solid hour to keep me from getting a school when the board met, but my friend Barnett stayed with him and got me a school. I did not electioneer against friend Skidmore, but I heard of numbers of people whom I had never known saying, “I won’t vote for Skidmore for the way he treated Randolph.” When the voting was over, both the other candidates beat him badly.
Improving the Farm: While I had no school, I built fences, cleaned up the farm, and began to keep stock on it. Brady let me have a cow to keep that he bought and did not need. We kept Old White Face (that was the cow’s name) for eight or ten years. She raised eight or nine calves and made Brady $200, although she only cost him $25.
In the spring of 1932 Pud Gillespie and I drove the posts and strung the wire from the Stout line to the road just below where the house now is, thus separating the orchard from the pasture. A little later Clyde Garrison and I ran the fence down the road to the Huffman line. After that we cut the timber for 18,000 feet of lumber. Hezzie Tharp hauled the logs. He had enough lumber to build a house, where Archie’s lived, and a good barn.
Upper Wolf School, 1932-33
The winter of 1932-33 I taught the Upper Wolf School. I had a very successful term except there was not enough money for but 4½ months of school. I taught an extra month as the children were badly behind in their grades and I wanted to promote them.
At Christmas time we invited the parents in to a little program. I had them do some spelling, some ciphering, some reciting of poetry, and writing on the board by the first grade. In fact, I gave them a fair idea of what they were learning. There was a fair number of the parents, both men and women, present. I called on each of them to speak, and three or four did. Ev Facemire said he knew that his two girls had made between one and two grades. He thought they must be an exception, but he saw that the others were doing the same. He went on to say that a first grade girl wrote better than half the teachers in Braxton County.
Jim Davis told us that he was more than pleased with the school; then in less than a month he was trying to get the patrons to work to get Zena Hartley to teach their school the next winter. He went to one of my friends and said, “We can get Zena Hartley to teach our school next winter.” His reply was, “I’m very well suited with the teacher we have.”
Of course there was a good reason why Jim wanted Zena to teach there. His son Bill, a widower with three children, was courting Zena. She would board at Jim’s and Bill could court her. A lot of people are selfish, and Jim was very selfish.
I taught four weeks free and built the fire and swept the house most of the time. As soon as they found I would teach some extra time, a few of them asked, “Can they make us go?” Only about 14 came, and about 10 quit. I told them when the government offered ten pounds of meat free, worth about 75 cents, they would go 15 to 20 miles and spend all day to get it. But when they were offered a free education for their children, they would keep them at home. “Oh, consistency, thou art a jewel.”
An Orchard on Our Farm
When school was out, I went back to work on the farm. About 1930 I set a piece of ground across the road from our place, on Clyde Facemire’s farm, in fruit trees. There were about seven acres of it. Clyde furnished the trees; Brady and I were to take care of the orchard and get all the fruit and crops that grew on it for ten years. We did not get much fruit, but we did get a lot of crops. When Clyde took it over, it was a very fine orchard, and it has since developed into one of the best orchards in Braxton County. I set out an orchard on our farm also. It is also a fine orchard, but it was slow to develop as it did not have the care it should have had.
Archie and Avis Move to Our Farm During the Depression
In March of this year Archie came up and wanted to build a house on the farm and work for some things on the farm when he didn’t have work on the W.P.A. or some government job. We had the lumber, so Brady and I both said okay. So Archie and I said we would build the house in a jiffy, which we did and soon had it ready for them to go to housekeeping.
The committee would not give Archie any work, so Brady wrote to Charleston and told them about it. He reminded them that the president had advised young couples to leave the cities, go out on farms, get work with the W.P.A. part-time and work on the farm to help out. He told them Archie had done this and they wouldn’t give him a day’s work. The next day the lady who had charge came rushing into the post office and said to Brady, “What in the world did you write to those folks down at Charleston? I just got a letter that would burn you up.” Brady answered her, “Why didn’t you give him work?” Brady told her he must have at least three days a week, and he got it. We sure stick together.
Archie and I worked together and raised a fine crop. The children ran loose on the farm and got fat.
More Snakes: One evening the Swigers were going to a neighbors but forgot something and sent Alois (he was four years old) back after it. He soon came back and said there was a snake by the door. Archie went back and found a copperhead lying by the door. Archie immediately sent it to the land of forgetfulness.
This was a small one, but I killed two or three very large ones. I killed two between the garden and the hen house-both were large. One of these crawled across the path and stopped with its head on one side of the path and its tail on the other. If it had gone ahead, it would have been safe, for there was thick grass just beyond. But it stopped to watch me, so I called Mamma. She brought me a hoe, and I killed it.
I think the largest snake I ever saw was in the corn near the Stout line. The bull dog we got from Archie was trailing, and every little bit she would jump back as if there was a snake. I went to look, and a snake was coiled up in a low place two rows above the one I was hoeing. I killed it quick. I am sure it was as large as my wrist and 3½ feet long. It sure was some snake!
I am sure of all the copperheads I ever saw, I only let two or three get away. This is quite a record as they stay in big grass or filth. I think this will be enough to prove that I lived in a rather wild section.
Archie worked on a high school project until in the fall, when they started building sanitary toilets. He got a job as foreman on a gang on Bug Ridge. This let him get to his work without walking so far, and the pay was very good. When they quit building toilets, he went back to Ohio and got a job. Avis soon went to him.
More About Schools
I taught the same school the next winter. This winter I had a good school and a number of very good friends. Among whom were John Woods, Jim Hosey, Barnett the mailman, and Ev Facemire.
In the late winter a new school law was passed in West Virginia making the county the school unit. The state superintendent of schools appointed the new school board until an election was held. The son-in-law of John D. Sutton was appointed as president, and he got the other members to agree they would hire no married women nor old teachers. So I was left out for the two years he was in office. Brady went to see if he couldn’t get him to change his mind and give me a school. He told Brady to tell me to get another job as I would never get another school. He was running for a second term, and Brady told him he had better be careful as another man tried the same thing and was not elected. He said he was not afraid of that, but he was defeated just the same.
No School for Two Years: For two years I had no school (1934-36), and things were rather tough. I sold some fruit trees, got a few days teaching, raised my own meat and potatoes and had my butter and eggs. In the term of 1934-35 I got some teaching to do as substitute, but they got another teacher to do some of it. I got along but was not able to pay any on the farm. Neither was Brady, but they did not crowd us.
Squire Baughman got the Lower Stony Creek School the term of 1935-36 and died in February. The superintendent told Brady that I was to finish the school, but the substitute teacher cut such a fuss about it that the board let her have it. They told Brady not to act mad as they could not help it, but that I should have a school the next winter (1936).
A Hard Winter: The winter of 1934-35 was a very hard one, and we had three or four very deep snows that lay on a long time. Jennie and Elmo planned to come to the Ridge for Christmas, but the snow was so deep a car could not get on the Ridge. They wrote for me to come down to Sutton and Elmo would meet me there. The snow was very deep, but I waded down Buckeye to Sutton. When I got there, Elmo was not there. So I trudged back through the snow to the Ridge. They wrote me that the roads were so slick and covered with ice that everyone said it would be all any one’s life was worth to go on the road afoot, much less in an auto. It sure was so, and I expect it was very lucky he did not try it.
The snow lay on for several weeks, and it was very cold. It finally went off and got some warmer, but it was still cold. I had to carry the fodder from across the road (about 150 yards) and go into the woods nearby and saw wood-I had become an expert one-man sawer-and carry it up to the house.
One day I had no wood nor fodder either. It seemed to be going to get warmer, so I decided to wait till about 3 p.m. and get fodder and wood to last two or three days. Just before 3 p.m. I noticed the sun had ceased to shine and it was getting dark. So I grabbed my hat and coat, picked up a rope, and ran for the fodder. The wind was howling. Before I got to the fodder, the snow was a regular blizzard. When I got a load, the wind would almost pick me up and take me to the barn. I carried fodder, took care of the stock, cut wood and piled it in the house till after dark. By that time it was cold. I got my supper, made a roaring fire, and sat by it till nearly midnight. I could not go to sleep, for the wind shook the house and the cold seemed to penetrate every place. We had a thermometer that would register 10 degrees below. When I got up the next morning, there was more than a foot of snow on the ground. The mercury was down in the bulb, and it never came back in sight for three days and nights. It was 17 degrees for some time.
I had between 10,000 and 12,000 feet of lumber, and I got Cliff Gillespie to snake it up through Olta’s place on the snow. He brought a big team he had one Friday morning. I went down and uncovered the lumber and helped him load till 11 o’clock. Then I went up to get his dinner. It was very cold, and he said I froze out. I went back after dinner, but we did not get along very well as we were dragging it on the ground. The snow went off over the end of the week, so we did not get to haul right away again.
In about a week we had another fall of snow just about as deep as the other one (this made three snows of over a foot) which laid on the ground for some weeks. Cliff came back and cut a forked sapling, nailed a 2 by 4 on the back end, and put the end of the lumber on this and chained it fast. This way we took it out, as Father used to say, “like a hen a walking.” Cliff told me when he got in that first night and began to get warm that he began to ache and that he didn’t get over it for several days. In fact, he was nearly frozen. After the first day we got along fine. Some of the neighbors wanted the job and said it was worth $10 per M. I got it done by the day for about $1.75. I was lucky to have a fine snow to skid it on.
Raising and Selling Pigs: I kept a sow and raised two litters of pigs (one in the spring and one in the fall). Then I would butcher her and keep a pig to raise more pigs. It got so people would speak for pigs and not take them. This would leave them on my hands, so I quit raising pigs.
One time I had four hogs to kill. Elmo and Ashby came up one morning and butchered one of them and took it to Salem. About the middle of December Cliff and I butchered the others. While we were butchering them, a man by the name of Collins, from Sutton, came to buy some potatoes to take to Burgoo. Cliff told me to let him take one of the hogs, pay for what he could sell and bring back the rest. Cliff said he was all right, so I let him have one cheap. He came back with the money and wanted another, but a cent less. I let him have it, but he never came back. He paid Brady all but $11. He said he couldn’t sell it all and the snow was so deep he couldn’t bring it back. He took it a second trip and sold it on time and would pay it as soon as he got it. But he never paid. He was all right, Brady told me, for he owned a house in Sutton and was a big church member. The house belonged to his wife and he was a dirty rascal.
Cliff said he would get it for me as he was to blame for his getting the hog. But Collins would not pay. I finally traded it on a billy goat. I offered him a fair trade, but he wanted some boot. He thought he could get the money from Collins, so I let him have an order and told him he could have all he could get out of it. He never – got – a – cent.
Loans Never Repaid: I should not complain, for I loaned money to a number who were in need and never got it back. A Sutton boy borrowed $3 to meet his girl and get married. They lived together about three months, and she left him. I never got the $3.
I loaned $10 to Boo Cutlip during World War II to go into Ohio to a job. I never got it. I loaned Wilson Stout $25 to take his family to a war job; I never saw a cent of it. I did loan to some who paid. I just charge it to profit and loss.
Jennie Came to Bug Ridge, 1936
In the spring of 1936 Jennie came onto the Ridge to stay, and was I glad! Elmo had gone to the Seminary at Alfred, and he did not come to stay with us any more. We raised a fine garden and had fruit-strawberries, grapes, peaches, cherries, and apples and some years, plums and apricots. We raised potatoes and corn. We always had one or two hogs to kill besides having plenty of eggs and chickens. Jennie worked hard and helped raise things, so we had plenty to eat. I had a school this winter, and we had two cows and several chickens, so we got along very well.
This was one of the mildest winters I had ever seen. We had only two little snows (not enough to track anything) till March. Peaches and plums were in bloom in February. Of course, we had none of them as a snow fell the first of March (six inches deep), and it was 10 degrees above.
Things were much easier this winter as Mamma was here and I only had to do the chores and get the wood.
More Improvements on our Farm: In the fall we cut a lot of logs for a barn. That winter I hired Cliff Gillespie and Worthie Thorp to build the barn. Ira helped some. I had some trouble about the roof. I wanted a galvanized roof. There was only partly enough in town, so I had the hardware man order it. It was supposed to come in three days, but it didn’t. A week passed; a big snow came, and still no roofing. After two weeks I bought rubber roofing and finished the barn. I got a very good barn that was warm and very handy. Cliff did a very good job and did it cheap. This was one of the best improvements I had made on the farm.
A few years later I got a fine cellar with cement walls and floor. Charley and Ed Davis built it for me. I got George Thorp to move a house that stood by the side of it over on the cellar, so we had a cellar and a cellar house.
I could keep all the stock in the barn, feed them there and never have to milk in the cold, snow, or rain. Oh, it was grand! The cellar was also grand. We could keep the milk and butter nice and cool, keep the airtights in perfect shape and also keep the apples, potatoes, turnips, and all kinds of vegetables in fine shape-and we didn’t have to be bothered with rats. We now had a good barn, a good cellar and a good hen house, and a fairly good house. We also had a good well, but it was very unhandy. It looked as if we were about ready to live.