Chapter 7-The Life And Times of William Roy Caple-Leaving Spokane

     Cheney didn’t prove to be their home long. Within a couple of months, his father felt they’d be better off in nearby Spokane. A brief time later, he announced there were better opportunities on the west side of the mountains. All of his life, Roy’s dad thought the grass was greener somewhere else, and so once again they headed in search of a better place to live.

     Ever since they’d left Cheney, his parents had been bickering over where they should settle. Before they left Spokane, Roy 16, and his brother Joe 18, considered staying put on their own.

     Discussing it one day, Joe had said, “I’m just not sure this is where I want to live.”

     “And it would devastate mother, if we stayed behind,” added Roy. “Besides, I’d like a chance to finish grammar school and maybe go to high school even if I am getting old. I’ll never finish if I set off on my own.”

     Joe rubbed his stomach. “I don’t care about schooling, but I’d miss Mother’s cooking. I don’t spect the two of us could make much of anything edible.”

     Roy nodded, “And I’d like to live close enough to watch little sis grow up and help Mother and Dad if needed. They’re not getting any younger, you know. If we stay here we’ll be too far to help much.”

     “You’re right, besides, when we lived in Washington before I liked the green western side of the mountains better. The climate here reminds me too much of Oklahoma.”

     And so, they dropped any thought of staying behind.

     On an early fall day in 1901 the family wagon rolled down a long dusty road called Pioneer Way. They entered the town of Puyallup, Washington where 10 years previously they had lived.

 “Whoa,” said his father as he pulled the wagon to a stop in front of the businesses on main street. “You folks sit tight while I go inside and check out prospects for work.”

     He jumped out, tied the horses to a hitching post, and headed into a nearby building.

     Under her breath, Roy heard his mother mumble, “And soon you’ll be back saying you’ve heard of a better place.”

     Roy gazed at all the businesses lining both sides of the street. “Looks like this place has grown a bit since we last lived here.”

     “Looks a heap more prosperous, too,” said Joe.

     His mother fiddled with her bonnet, “I always thought we should have stayed here. From the looks of all the activity, they’ve recovered just fine from the depression that drove your dad to leave. I’m sure we’d have managed here just as well as we did in Oklahoma.”

    “So why don’t we stay,” said Roy. “I don’t remember a lot about this place except being happy to go to the fine new school they’d just built. If Father wants to move on, let him. I’ll stay here with you.”

     “You could count me in, too,” said Joe. “Between the three of us, I’m sure we could make a living.”

     Roy made a smacking sound with his lips. “Mother, with your good cooking, you could run a boarding house. I’m sure Joe and I could find some kind of work.”  

     “Humph,” grunted his mother, “I’d hate to leave your father. You boys might be old enough to go without him, but Richard and Lida are still so young. I need some time to think on this a bit. You two stay in the wagon and keep an eye Richard and Lida while they nap.”

     She hitched up her skirts, climbed from the wagon, and commenced marching up and down the street.

     A few minutes later, his father appeared from the store he’d gone into. Spotting their mother down the street, he called, “Maggie, just heard of a town a few miles down the road that sounds like it has better prospects. Let’s get back to the wagon. I want to check it out before nightfall.”

     His mother walked back to where his father stood.

     Joe groaned, “Here we go, moving on again.” 

     But to Roy’s astonishment, his mother planted her feet wide, held her chin high and said, “Samuel Hugh Caple, this place is good as any. Go on, if you must, but the children and I are staying put.”

    She bustled over to the wagon. “Boys, you can unload our things here. I’m sure the hotel across the street has room to put us up for the night.”[i]

     His father stood, his mouth agape in shock. Then he rushed to her side. “You don’t seriously mean you’d stay here without me, do you?”

      His mother’s eyes locked on his. “Indeed I do. So, which is it, Sam? Either you stay or the children and I go it alone.”

     His father stood stunned and silent. He took his hat off and swept his hands through his hair.

      “I think I need me a few minutes to deliberate,” he stuttered before he strode off.

     Roy, too dumbfounded to say anything, watched as his father marched to the far end of main street and stood rubbing his forehead. After a bit, he tramped back to where his mother still stood on the sidewalk.

     Holding his fists tight, he said, “Maggie, you win. I could never leave you and the children. If you say this is the place we should live, then Puyallup we stay.”

     His mother reached up and gave his Father a kiss on the cheek. “Oh Sam, I knew you’d make the right decision.”

     His Dad glanced up at the wagon where Roy sat dumbfounded. “What do you say? Looks like Puyallup has become our new home.”

Author’s notes:


[i] My grandfather often told the story of how they were sitting in the wagon in front of what is now Pioneer Park and his father coming out if a business and saying he’d just been told of a better town nearby. He said his mother put her foot down and refused to go, if he wanted to go he’d do it alone.

The family had lived in Puyallup in 1891. Samuel is listed in the towns directory has an express man at Marker Junction which was near the town depot in those days. My grandfather said he attended 1st grade and the then new Spinning school.

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