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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Grams story, Part 2

(Part 1 of Grams Story can be read here.)

Ten year old Jennie‘s life had changed. Living on a wheat ranch in 1912 was arduous – but much more so with the loss of a parent.

Her older sisters married and started families of their own, leaving Jennie in charge of caring for her dad and remaining four siblings. Each day when school released she raced down the road towards home to the washing and ironing. She felt that she could never do anything right for her dad. She had no memories of hugs or kisses. She thought Fern, her younger sister, was the apple of his eye. In spite of this, she still loved Fern with all her heart.

The newspaper reported a story about some other racing after school. Placing bets on whose horse was faster, they competed down the main street of town. The perpetrators were fined.

Talk in town included the bounty on coyote pelts, the new bridge being planned over the Touchet River, and growing Alfalfa as an experimental seed crop

In 1913, news spread quickly that a Saloon was opening in town and construction would begin on a 16-mile stretch of the Inland Empire Highway. Those so inclined wouldn’t need to drive to Walla Walla for a drink anymore, but the new highway made the ride much easier.

The obituaries sadly included many deaths of little ones from childhood diseases and of adults from accidents, tuberculosis, and gangrene.

A circus called Sells-Floto passed through town when Jennie was 12. They paraded through the streets lead by a “Buffalo Bill” famous Indian Scout and fighter. The following January 1915 Helen Keller and her teacher visited a local church.

That same year Raleigh moved to town with his parents, five brothers, and sister Blanche. His parents had been friends with the Dodd’s back in Kansas. It seemed natural that they stay in the small house on the ranch with Jennie’s family until they could find a home of their own. It wasn’t long before the children were fast friends. Sometimes late in the evening Raleigh’s father would play his fiddle. Jennie loved Raleigh’s mom and was impressed by her open affection for her family. She resolved to love any children she may have in the same way.

Raleigh was especially nice to Jennie. He “respected” her and they liked to “talk” and he was “never rude or loud.” Even after Raleigh’s family found a dwelling, he continued to walk her to school each day and find excuses to visit.

In April 1917, the town installed its first electric lights. It also marked the time when young men volunteered for World War I. The women in the valley did their part by knitting blankets for the soldiers.

The friendship that Jennie and Raleigh shared began evolving into something more. They didn’t have much time to spend together, but when the opportunity arose, they managed to linger just a moment longer. Raleigh was working part time for some local farmers, going to school, and playing sports. Jennie was going to school, keeping house, and playing girls’ basketball. Aunti Fern said she doesn’t know how Jennie did that and everything else her dad required of her.

The Army drafted Earl, Jennie’s brother in law, in August 1918. By October, the “influenza” reached the tranquil valley. Schools closed, church services cancelled, and people stayed home in an attempt to stop the spread.

In spite of the quarantine, when the war ended on November 11, the townsfolk built a huge bonfire where young and old came to sing, shout, and give speeches.

By this time, Raleigh was over 6 foot tall. Jennie recalled the day he knocked on the front door for an official first date. He was so handsome and she was all smiles when they went on that Sunday ride in a Model T Ford.

The big parade on February 22, 1919 honored all the local servicemen. This included some from the Spanish American war in addition to 24 veterans of the Civil War. I wonder if Earl was there marching in his uniform and they waved and hooted as he strode past.

Prohibition was in force and every small town had its white lightning. Touchet was no exception and in October, there was a raid on a “corn whiskey” still. Fortunately, the economy didn’t depend on contraband. There was profit in that new crop,Alfalfa, in addition to hay, apples, and wheat.

In 1920, Jennie’s good friend Naomi became the first May Queen. She used a lace curtain for a train, while Raleigh was one of the attendants. He wore tall rubber boots, a cape, and a wide brimmed hat with a feather.

The following summer, Raleigh’s older brother Carl bought a brand new Ford. By this time, Jennie and Raleigh went on dates as much as their busy lives allowed. Jennie’s brother, Roy, and Raleigh’s sister, Blanche, began courting. The four of them would drive into Walla Walla for a “show.” Other times they would hop into the car just for a spin around town.

She graduated from Touchet High School in spring of 1921, with plans to attend Normal School to attain her teaching certificate. It seemed an odd choice for a girl who didn’t like school and was so much in love.

Her father accepted her decision and agreed to help with the tuition. Raleigh went to work full time for a local wheat rancher.

Jennie came home over the holiday and Raleigh took her to a dance at the Touchet Woodmen Hall. Dances were the highlights for everyone in town. It was during a slow sweet dance on a cold winter night that Raleigh said, “I love you. Will you marry me?”

Jennie responded, “When? Soon, I hope.”

22 comments:

BarnGoddess said...

great story! I enjoyed the pictures. So, did she marry R.? how neat that his family lived w/ hers and his mother loved her like her own....that made me feel better about your Grams losing her mom so early in life.

Masago said...

Grams...a beautiful lady.
P.S. "wheat ranch"? Cattle and wheat on the same section of land?

Pam said...

Lovely story Pamela. Thoroughly enjoyed the peek into your past. Thank you for sharing that.

♥Pam

Susie said...

Great love story and a peek a life back then. Jennie certainly had to grow up at a tender age..

James Cooper said...

Fascinating how things are changed so much and yet there exist so many parallels to modern day life. I guess that's my wordy way of saying, "the more things change, the more they stay the same."

Great answer by Jennie to Raleigh's proposal too :-)

Vicki said...

More please more!!!

You do such a good job of telling their story.

Karmyn said...

I can't wait for the "eloping" part.

Devon said...

I want more!!! What a great story of a strong woman! It must have been unusual in her time for a woman so connected to a man to go on to further her education! Good for her!

Great story telling.. You make it so interesting!

Matt said...

A couple of thoughts....

People volunteered for World War I? What were they thinking? Man, times have changed.

Also, could you get arrested by the Constable On Patrol for operating a horse under the influence? I mean, not the horse but the guy riding it....

judypatooote said...

I read part one, and then the second part....I'd hearing stories about my grandparents and my mom and dad....sometimes it's hard to think of them as young people.... After mom died, and I went through her things, I found a letter that my dad wrote her when they first started dating....it was so cute.... he told her he was thinking about her tu lips.... he was german, and i got a kick out of his wording......I wish I would have written down more stories that I heard about the old days..... I enjoyed reading about your grams.....

Jenny said...

I can't wait for part 3. Such a beautiful story!

Brooklyn Frank said...

gr8 story, muchos kudos~!

Melissa said...

Beautiful story, Pamela.

Tammy said...

Pamela, I just went over to read Part 1 and now finished this post...wonderful story so far!
I have always been fascinated with real-life people from another era...and especially preserving stories from our own families.
I'm so enjoying this and all of the pictures!

Susan in va said...

Now don't you go and think that I haven't stopped by here, little lady! I actually came by yesterday. I only had time to read HALF of your post, however :( I didn't want to comment until I read the whole thing.

You're one of my ALL TIME favorite bloggers, Miss Pamela. Not to mention one of my favorite people.

Unfortunately, I STILL haven't finished reading this post! I've always been a SLOW reader ;)

Amanda said...

What a story. And what a history. I miss Gram.

wv: ssxbq
ha ha ha

C said...

Dating used to be so innocent back then. That's a great love story.

swampwitch said...

OK, as you know, I'm just NOW returning home 76 hours late. So, I will take the time later to read BOTH parts. I love your writing.
Thank you for always visiting and commenting at my place even though I was absent from blogging for almost two weeks. Kath <:)

Claudia said...

Aww...and from Karmyn's comment, what??? When do we get the rest of the story???

Mert said...

Beautiful story! i am really enjoying your installments... keep 'em coming!

wolfbaby said...

What a beatiful story!!!

Gattina said...

Not only sounds like a romance it was a romance ! Loved this part of the story too. Poor Jenny had a lot of household scores and I think that's why my grandma wanted only one child, she had enough of raising children with her 11 siblings ! She was the second one and met my grandpa only when she was an "old girl" 24 !!