The Life and Times of William Roy Caple-A new life in in Puyallup, 1901

For a time, Roy’s family stayed in a boarding house. His father started his own delivery business. By September, they settled on a small ten-acre farm near Meeker Junction. Unlike the one room sod house they’d had in Oklahoma, this house had a covered porch, a proper parlor with a bay window, a dining room, kitchen, and four bedrooms on the upper floor. Roy shared a room with Joe while Lida and Richard had their own.

At 16, Roy felt he should find work instead of going to school. To his surprise, both his father and mother urged him to go continue his studies and graduate from the eighth grade.

“You love learning,” said his mother, “And for once we can afford to let you devote your time to studies.”

In the fall of 1901, Roy found himself back at Spinning school, where he’d gone as a first grader. After classes, he helped his dad with deliveries which made him feel better about not working full time.

In the summer, berry and hop picking gave him the money for his personal needs. His dad let him use an acre of his farmland to experiment with growing berries on his own.

In June, 2 years later, Roy sat on the stage of the school as the valedictorian of his graduating class.  His parents had bought him a new suit for the occasion. Nervous, he twisted his program as his classmate, Robert Dargan, finished his recitation of “My first Recital.” He felt clammy as the girls sang the song “Hey-ho Merry Jane.”

“And now,” said the Superintendent of the schools J. M. Layhue, “our valedictorian, Roy Caple, will give his speech titled, “Out of the Camp and into the Field.

Roy rose and walked to the podium. He gazed into the crowd and spotted his family in the front row.

He took a deep breath and began. “And so gathered here today…”

He remembered little of the rest of the speech, just being relieved when he finished and the audience applauded. He wasn’t much for the limelight, although being valedictorian had been an honor.

His teachers at Spinning urged him to go on to high school. But at eighteen, he felt it was time to join the workforce. He couldn’t depend on his parents forever. His Dad was getting old, he’d be sixty soon.

“I understand how you feel,” said his teacher, “but you have such a keen mind. Perhaps you can continue your studies with correspondence courses.”

“Now that’s worth looking into,” said Roy.

His dream to become of becoming an electrical engineer seemed impossible. Even if he took correspondence courses, he’d never find the time to complete both high school and college. He’d have to do the best he could to learn it on his own.

That summer, he kept busy picking berries and then hops. He enjoyed working with berries and expanded his own field. But it was seasonal and weather dependent. Did he really want to take the chance on such a business even if he found the money to buy the needed acreage?

He could continue to work for his dad and one day take over the transport business. Except he found it hard to work for his dad.

In September, he stood outside the neighborhood store as train on the other side of the road roared past loaded with logs when a neighborhood friend emerged from the store.

“Hey Ernie,” Roy called. “I haven’t seen you around in a while. What are you up to?”

“I started working as a logger,” said Ernie. “Just back here to visit the folks for a few days. What about you?”

“Looking for work, now that picking season is over.” His friend swept his hand up to the hills surrounding the valley. “There’s plenty of money to be made in up there. You’ve got the muscle and brawn a logger needs. I’m sure the place I work for could use you. Plus, it’s close enough to come home every weekend for your mother’s home cooking.”

“Guess I could try it,” said Roy.

Ernie folded his arms in front of himself. “First you got to get yourself some better work clothes.”

Roy looked at his overalls, shirt, and sturdy shoes. “What’s wrong with these?”

“You need some tin pants.” Ernie guffawed, “course they aren’t made of tin but a thick waterproof canvas.”

He pointed at Roy’s feet. “And a pair of good cork boots and pants that only come to their top. Otherwise, they hang up on the brush and cause injuries. Also, you’ll need thicker shirts to prevent bug bites and scratches and warm socks. It doesn’t pay to skimp on logging clothes unless you enjoy spending all your spare time mending.”

Roy heeded Ernie’s advice and invested some of his hard-earned berry picking money on good logging clothes. And on the first Monday in October he followed Ernie to a logging camp near Alderton to inquire about work.

When they arrived, Ernie pointed to an office in a railroad car. “I’ll introduce you.”

They stepped inside the office.

A man rose from a desk covered in paperwork. “Do you need something?”

Ernie turned to Roy. “This is my friend, Roy Caple. He’s looking for work. I can attest that he is a real hard worker. You won’t go wrong hiring him.”

The man looked Roy over. “Well, you’re dressed like a logger. And those broad shoulders look like they could handle the work. We always need more buckers. Do you know what they do?” 

 “I believe they’re the ones who cut the limbs off the felled trees.” 

“You’re hired,” said the man.

He thrust out his hand to shake. “I’m Mr. Smith, by the way.”

He assigned Roy to Ernie’s bunk house.

“I hope you aren’t expecting much,” said Ernie as they approached the bunkhouses.


Author’s notes:

Info on the house came from the 1910 census, and my aunts written memories of the house. I also have a photograph. The info of the graduation ceremony came from the program in my possession.

The store Roy stood in front of still stands some 100 years later on the corner of Pioneer and SE. 16th street. Just this past week I drove past it as a train on the other side of the road roared past my car.

The house pictured above burnt down in the late 1930’s when his parents no longer lived there.

testing

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s