The Hopyard Hobo - Part 6 (Written by my late father)
Part 1 of my father's short journal told about the depression and his experiences in
Picture from OREGON HISTORIC PHOTOGRAPH COLLECTION
SALEM PUBLIC LIBRARY
By this time, I was well acquainted with the Boss's family. I liked them all and seemed to be liked equally well by them. Winston and Nora were both college debaters and almost every evening they brought some subject to discuss. We had some lively arguments on finance, politics, religion, psychology, and sociology. They accused me of being a college graduate, but I convinced them I had only a grade school education, but "polished" by experience gained by thirteen years of bubble chasing and a great deal of general reading.
I admired Nora very much and dated her a time or two. I learned that she was in love with a young man whom her parents disliked. The younger daughter, Beth, was interested chiefly in outdoor sports. She especially liked swimming and almost every day we went bathing in the
On the Fourth of July, our Russian foreman gave a barbecue. Work was forgotten and everybody celebrated. I enjoyed the best barbecued meat I have ever eaten. We ended the day in royal fashion with an ice cream supper and fireworks.
Wondering what it was like to keep company with a Russian girl, I asked Grace, the older of the two girls, for a date. She said yes. I went out with her several times afterward but she suddenly dropped me like a hot potato. I seem to be extremely unlucky in my romantic adventures.
By this time, all of the work, except patrolling the wires, was done until picking time. The hops were a solid wall of green vines hanging full of cream colored, fluffy, cone-shaped fruit called hop berries. The weight, which the trellis supported, was enormous. Winston, Fritz, and myself were kept busy every day repairing wires or replacing broken poles.
It was the sixteenth of June. Nora had a long talk with me and confided that she was in a dilemma. She had told her sweetheart to apply for a marriage license four days before. Now she had decided to quit him, late in the game as it was. She wanted my advice as to what to do.
"Why quit Charlie"? I asked. How could I know how to advise?
But, the next day when Charlie came, Nora's father ordered him away before she could do so herself. This made her angry. Perhaps after all she really loved the boy. She had said his only fault was his lack of education.
In the evening when I came home from work, I asked Nora how she had solved her problem.
She answered, "Al, I am going to elope with Charlie tonight. I want you to help me, but promise not to tell anyone about it."
Somehow, she had contrived to tell Charlie to meet her at that night at a certain corner on the highway. Everything worked in her favor, for all were asleep by ten.
The upper floor of the house consisted of three rooms. The girls were in one, the boys another, while I occupied the third. At ten or a few minutes after, I went to the door of the girls' room and barely whispered. Nora was already dressed in pajamas for speedy travel in making her escape. She carried a small bundle of some kind.
I calmly walked down the stairway. Nora followed as silently as a shadow. I opened the door and she scooted away in the darkness.
To a certain extent, Charlie was my rival, and I was helping my own adversary. But, instead of thinking about that, I was wondering about the storm in the morning when Nora's absence was discovered.
The next morning I was waiting for breakfast when the mother called for Nora to wake up and come down. About this time, Beth came in with the note which Nora had left, telling of her elopement. Mr.Putman took it calmly, but Mrs. Putman burst into violent weeping.
Believe me, I kept my mouth shut and was innocent as could be. I could have been getting myself into a lot of trouble. Mrs. Putman thought I must have heard her leave as she passed my door but I kept a poker face and told nothing.
In order to quiet the turmoil, Mr. Putman suggested a week's trip to the coast. They left Fritz and me in charge of the hop yard. They returned from the coast in better spirits.
Later on, Nora and Charlie were forgiven and amiable relations existed again. Nora did not tell of my help so I was safe. But, I shall be careful never again to give Dan Cupid a lift.