Stories Told By Ruth
When I was a little girl, we lived in a small town where everyone knew everyone else. So you had to be good cause if Mrs. So and So saw you doing something you shouldn't, it was a sure thing Mom or Dad would find out, but they also cared about you and neighbors helped each other.
I remember walking to school one day. I walked through a pile of ashes not knowing, but soon found out that they were very hot and had just been dumped from a coal burning heater. One of the embers got inside my shoe and burned the side of my foot! The owner of the ashes heard my cries and came out, then carried me home to Mom and helped take care of the burn. He also promised to be more careful of where he put his ashes from then on.
Another time while walking to school, we always took short cuts through vacant lots and down unpaved lanes to save time. One such path went by a pasture and there were always a few cows out grazing, but one day there a was a big old bull out there. We knew that bulls always charged anything red - my brother Gene and sister Pat both had very red hair so we all took off screaming and crying that the bull was after us. By the time we reached the school yard some teachers and some other kids came to our rescue and assured us that the bull was still behind the fence!
Christmas was always special because Mom and Dad made it that way. We didn't get a lot of toys, but there was a lot of love. Santa brought each one something special and in our stocking we had an apple, an orange, a few mixed nuts, and a candy cane. I remember several packages came in the mail and they were never opened, no matter how we begged, until Christmas morning. The Christmas tree was never up and decorated until Christmas Eve. Then the unopened packages were placed behind the tree for the next day and that was all we saw until Christmas morning when we got up and saw that Santa had come. Then when everyone was up and dressed, Dad would pick one of the packages and untie the string (we didn't have tape in the olden days). He would wind the string into a ball, then carefully unwrap the outer paper and fold it neatly and lay it aside, then he opened the box and took out the presents. From Granddad and Aunt Grace it was always cookies and home made candy, divinity fudge and peanut brittle. From Grandma and Aunt Willow and Uncle Claude there was fruit and nuts and maybe a small toy, but also homemade jelly and jam preserves. Dad opening the boxes was always the memory of Christmas because he made it so suspenseful. Each package was opened in the same methodical way. Dad loved to watch the suspense he created in us. I think that was the best part of Christmas for him. One time years later, we got back at him by putting his Christmas gift inside several separately tied boxes ending with a large carton. When he finally got to the bottom, he found a fifth of White Horse Scotch and a box of his favorite cigars, so he figured it was worth every knot he untied.
Dad was a Railroad Bull as they use to call the special officers. His job was to police the trains and keep the hobos off. All the hobos knew Dad as a kind and fair person, so they usually never gave him any trouble. But if they were in trouble they knew whom to turn to. One night after we had all gone to bed, my oldest sister and I heard this strange sound - shuffle, clunk, shuffle, clunk - then out front the gate opened with a squeak, so we looked out the window and saw this bent old man coming towards the house. We quickly went to Mom and Dad's bedroom and told them that someone was trying to get in the house. So Dad got up and went to see. It turned out that the man was an old guy who just wanted Dad to give him a place to sleep in out of the cold. So Dad took him over to the jail and put him in a cell with the door open so he could leave the next day. All the hobos also knew our house as a good meal if they did some wood chopping (in those days we all used a lot of wood, winter and summer, because we cooked on wood burning stoves).
Once Upon a Rock
A favorite treat was going for a ride. We had a Model A Ford and it was full with Mom and seven kids. One night we went for a ride out west of town and after a mile or so we saw some sheep and talked Mom into going over to see them. Model A's were like 4 wheel drives, they went anywhere. We soon arrived where the sheep weren't and rocks were in abundance! Large rocks, and Mom drove right over one and got hung up so we all had to walk back to the highway where some friends picked us up and took us home. Then some of the men from town went back out and lifted the car off the rock and brought it home to us. That was the last time we went to see the sheep!! Besides one of my brothers came down with chicken pox that night so Mom had her hands full with chicken pox's going through 6 kids!!
A Swelling Time
Mom always said that I was so ornery that she had to spank the mumps out of me. It all began when I was asked to peel some potatoes for dinner and I preferred to talk to my friend Martha who lived next door. So I peeled a couple of potatoes, then ran outside and called Martha, who was also supposed to be helping her Mom fix dinner. So we talked some before both Moms called us back in and set us firmly to our chores, which we did until we thought of something else to say. After the third time, Mom was more than firm and I ended up peeling the peels that I had so generously peeled off. Then I was sent to bed. Yes I could eat and do dishes but then right back to bed. The next morning I was a very plump faced child and not feeling too well. Mom didn't need anyone to tell her that I had the mumps since I was about the third or forth one to get them. Martha's Mom woke up to the same thing.
The Grand Canyon
Living at the Grand Canyon was like living in a wonderland for us kids! The snow was four to six feet deep and drifts up to some rooftops. Deer roamed freely thru out the town and some were almost tame. Once one of the boys coaxed a huge buck in on the back porch and almost into the house before it got scared and bolted away. Sledding was our favorite pass time. There are lots of hills in and around the town and a couple were closed to cars just so we could sled on them.
The Haunted House
When we moved to Flagstaff in 1938, Dad was without a job so finding a house with reasonable rent was top on his list. The one he found was in an estate of a man who had died by hanging himself in the attic, and up to this time the lawyers in charge couldn't keep it rented because all the previous tenants claimed that it was haunted. But Dad needed a house that would take care of a family of Mom and 7 kids. So he moved us in and went to work for his brother for awhile, then got on with the Forrest Service as a game warden during elk and deer season, so he was gone a good bit of the time.
Nothing ever happened when Dad was home, but when he was gone, we began experiencing some very odd things. Mom use to read to us children in the evening before bedtime, and one night we were all sitting in front of her on the couch, when Spike (our dog) suddenly started growling and starring towards the back door. We kids could see a bright light up against the back door window, like a large flashlight. We were frozen with fear but Spike headed for the door growling and snarling. Mom followed then all of us behind her. The light went out and we found nothing. The screened in porch off the kitchen was secure and no sign of anything.
Another night Mom got up to check all of us and with Spike leading, she was in the hall where the bedrooms and bathroom were, when the toilet flushed and Spike growled. She opened the bathroom door to an empty room!! Little things like this happened quite frequently. The one time we were left alone because Mom had to go to the Grand Canon to see about a house Dad was going to rent, there were no happenings. Years later the house was sold and remodeled completely, so the poor ghost was laid to rest.
Bob & Ruth Dewsnap