The Wilder Place
compiled by Larry REA
(Ed) I bought my first car when I was sixteen. I had been to Hood River picking fruit. I came home with a little money in my pockets so I bought a Model T Ford from Lowe’s Motors in Rainier. I paid twenty dollars for it and they threw in another car to use as parts.
(Ed) To get your driver’s license you just filled out an application and sent in your money, there was no test. [You had to be sixteen.] That’s how Art got fouled up. He was 15 and said he was 16, then later on he had to get a new license for some reason and he gave his correct age. They refused to give him a license until he came in and took the test.
(Ed) Right after I bought the Model T I went to work for Ralph SPARLING.
(Ed) It was depression time. Dad, Buck, Omar, Ruth, Floy, Orville and Doris were at home. None of them were working. I got a job doing general farm work for Ralph SPARLING. That was my first steady job. I worked for him one summer. Ralph paid me ten dollars a month and my board. I took anything that was good to eat or good for wages to get the ten dollars. Sometimes he paid me with chickens or geese. I got a leather coat, horsehide lined with sheepskin, from him.
Ralph lived across the road from where Donald NYS lives now, on Pellam Hills Road. He had a big field there and I plowed it. I drove a three horse team to pull a walking plow. Ralph drove milk truck and he had about five cows. I wasn’t supposed to milk cows, that wasn’t part of my job but he would
oversleep of a morning and ask me to milk the cows. Pretty soon I was milking cows both night and morning.
Ed: We were living in town [Mysinger place] when I worked for Ralph Sparling. I would come home to visit and I would catch a ride back with Jess Perkins. He would stop at the Lucas barn and buy a
gallon jug of whiskey. The proprietor would say, “Go to the tenth post.” There was the jug, hidden in the bushes. He wouldn’t handle the whiskey at the barn. The barn was a livery stable and a dance hall. There was a lumber mill in behind the barn. Lucas didn’t own the barn then, this was after Lucas lived there.
Myrtle: Lucas lived there when I went to Stehman School. He was the janitor for the school. His son, Alma Lucas, went to Stehman. [Stehman School was across the road from the barn.]
(Ed) Bucko and another guy rode the freights back East and worked on the East Coast for quite a while, about a year.
(Orville) We went to Idaho a lot. When Dad wasn’t working we would go over there and the older ones would work in the apple orchard and the hay. Quite a few of the family lived there. Uncle Ed (BOWERS) had the Star Orchards in the Boise valley. He raised apples. Grandpa (Theodore Columbus REA) was their head box builder.
(Orville) It seems like it took a week to get to Boise, the highway was crooked and steep. It always seemed so hot. We would stop and camp along the way. Mom would cook meals. We just used bed rolls, we didn’t have camping gear at all. Everybody would sleep in a big bedroll. You wouldn’t dare pull over to the side of the road and camp like that today.
(Larry) I can just imagine traveling with a carload of kids, with the way my two kids fight in the backseat now.
(Orville) We didn’t do much fighting, maybe some bickering but Dad wouldn’t stand for too much of that. I was usually the only boy and if I ever hit a girl Dad would beat the pants off me.
(Larry) Dad tells about the irrigation ditches over at Boise and getting fish with pitch forks.
(Orville) Yeah, I didn’t do any of that. My specialty was stealing watermelons. That was great watermelon country, watermelons and cantelopes.
(Larry) When I was a kid there were always relatives around, aunts and uncles, how about your aunts and uncles ?
(Orville) Well, Mom’s uncle Charley ALSTON had the store out at Delena, they didn’t visit us much but we used to go over there once in awhile. Then Uncle Edmund and Aunt Mabel REA lived out at Goble. They had milk cows, like a dairy, out there. I think he had a still out there too, as I remember it.
Uncle Edmund’s place is still standing. It’s just before you get to Goble, from the Portland side, the highway went right by it then but now the highway cuts across the swamp. It went through the
rocks near his place. I think they called it “skillet handle curve” because we had that old Hupmobile with camping gear on it and Dad came close enough we caught the skillet handle on a rock. Something
(Larry) Do you remember much about when they built the bridge ?
(Orville) Oh yeah, we lived down in West Rainier. We used to go play on the woodwork, it’s all fill now. I forgot about living there. I don’t think Ed was there, Omar was there. I remember Mom trying to learn to drive the Hupmobile. She pulled into the yard. Us kids had dug a hole in the yard and Mom
almost put the Hupmobile in the hole before she got it stopped. We lived there quite a while. Right when they were building the bridge. I can’t remember the dates though.
Ed: About a year after Bucko got back from the East Coast Omar [REA] and Richard HUBBARD took off and went to St Louis, Missouri. We were moving into the WILDER place.(1931) The folks took
furniture and stuff out there and left Omar [REA] and Richard HUBBARD to look after it. During the night Omar and Richard took off and headed for Missouri. They rode the freights back to St. Louis.
Lex: When Richard and Omar went to St. Louis they got on that Portland Rose Limited passenger train and rode part way. Then they got on a refrigerated train going east and it didn’t stop for anything. The only thing they had to eat from the time they left Portland until they got to St. Louis was a dime’s worth of salted peanuts.
Orville: We moved out to the WILDER Place, on up above Ed’s there about a mile or so, the house was back off the road aways. Dad was working at the mill off and on, that was during the bad times
though, the WPA times, when we raised everthing we ate. Mom canned everything she could get her hands on. We raised turnips there and we had an old root cellar, we stored it all away in there. We ate
lots of green beans and apple sauce.
Larry: Dad tells me he grew up on green beans and apple sauce.
Lex: Green beans and apple sauce, I remember that very plain. When times were tough that’s what we ate, green beans and apple sauce.
Ed: We had a root house that was about 12 by 15. It was made out of split cedar logs and they piled dirt up against the outside of it. They sealed it over the top and put dirt on top the ceiling then made a roof on top of that, so it was pretty near freeze proof inside.
Anyway, Dad raised a lot of spuds that year. The neighbors would come over and dig spuds for spuds. Nobody had any money to pay anybody to do anything. So they left their spuds in the root house and whenever they wanted spuds to eat they could come over and get their spuds. The root cellar had lots of room in it, the folks kept all their canned goods in there too. They probably grew other stuff but I don’t remember anything but beans and potatoes.
We ate lots of beans and lots of potatoes, I know that. Lots of applesauce, Mom canned lots of applesauce.
(Lee) I remember having bean soup. Mondays were wash days and the boiler was on. We boiled our clothes, we didn’t have purex so we used lye. So the bean pot went on the stove. The oven was hot
too so that was bread day. Mom would make about twenty loaves of bread. We would come home from school at lunch time, run all the way home to have a big bowl of soup.
Mom took a big loaf, I mean she made big loaves, she would tear it into four pieces. We had a big bowl of butter and a pitcher of milk. It wasn’t skim milk either, it was right from the cow. We had a lot of cows.
Beans and home made bread really stand out in my mind, the smell of it. We had bean soup for supper and the next day we had baked beans. There had to be enough that for the next day I could mash beans and mix mayonaise and chopped onions with the beans to make sandwiches for school. That was good. We ate other things of course, we raised it too, but beans were continuous, every Monday.
As kids we ate more bread. It was home made bread which is more delicious to start with and it was home made butter. We just put a little sugar on top of it. You don’t see kids eat it that way anymore, they have to have peanut butter or some other spread.
(Orville) Up on the WILDER Place we didn’t have electricity so there was no refrigeration, we had a pantry to store food in.
(Ed) On the north side of the house we had a screened off cupboard covered with burlap. We wet down the burlap and as the water evaporated it cooled off our perishable foods, that was our refrigerator.
(Orville) I started the third grade at Fern Hill, we lived on the Wilder Place. I had to walk back and forth to school. When we first moved out there us kids hated school so bad. Mom had to take us to school, walk us there, then we would beat her home. We wouldn’t stay at school. Boy, we hated it. Then after that we loved it.
You know, Mom used to cook lunches at Fern Hill. She would walk down and cook lunches for the school. I will never forget that. She cooked a lot of stewed prunes. She was a firm believer in stewed prunes.
Elsie Tracy was one of my teachers. Elsie slapped my face once, just about knocked me down. I grinned at her when I shouldn’t have. I had to stay after school for some reason, I got up and went over to look out the window. She told me to sit down and I just grinned at her. Boy, she laid one on the side of my face. Ed was going to go down and tell her off but Dad wouldn’t let him.
Frieda BAUGHMON was a teacher there, I can’t remember if she was before Elsie TRACY or not.
(Orville) The play shed was built after we started school at Fern Hill. I played in that a lot.
(Orville) Bob (ZIMMERMAN) and I went to school together, we are pretty close to the same age. The only name I knew him by then was Ikie. After they did away with the Stehman School he came to Fern
Hill. He wouldn’t come in, he just stood outside. I knew him so they sent me out to bring him in. He didn’t want to come in. He didn’t care much for school. Old Oscar used to cut his hair, he really clipped him. (Myrtle said the haircut was called a “pigshave”)
(Orville) We went to the movies in Rainier but we had to walk, that was six or seven miles to see a ten cent movie, then we had to walk back.
When I got old enough to drive I would take Mom to church then I would go have some fun.
(Orville) Dad was principal of the Sunday school in Fern Hill, we used the Grange Hall. That was fun going to church there, Dad studied the bible a lot and we went to church and sunday school all the time as kids.
End Chapter 6