Monthly Archives: January 2023

Chapter 24-The Life and Times of William Roy Caple- 1933

After his Sister’s death Roy took solace in spending time with his wife and children.  Mae’s parents had decided to rent a farm just out of town on Waller Road.  They had a four-bedroom farmhouse and when Mae felt well, they enjoyed weekend visits.

Roy did his best to help his father-in-law with some of the heavier work while Mae and her mother worked in the kitchen.

One evening they sat in their parlor listening to the player piano with Verle pretending to play the tunes.

Roy bent over and whispered to Mae. “Looks like we have a new musician in the family.”

Mae laughed, “Yes, even though he can’t carry a simple tune.”

On Sunday as they got ready to leave his mother-in-law handed him a basket. “Mind you handle this with care. I put a dozen eggs inside, the hens have been laying more than we can use this week and I also put in a pitcher of milk and a freshly baked bread.”

The next morning, they enjoyed scrambled eggs and toast slathered with fresh berry preserves.

“May I be excused?”  asked Verle as he wiped the jam from his lips.

“Where are you off to in such a hurry? “ Roy asked,

“The guys are going to have a baseball game and I don’t want to be late.”

“Well, then by all means be off with you. Mae if you don’t mind, I think I’ll take my coffee out to the porch and enjoy the fresh air while I read the paper.”

“Go ahead. Iva and I will do the dishes then we’ll make some pies with the berries we picked on Friday.”

Roy stepped out onto the porch and settled himself upon the wooden rocker he’d made. Across the road from the store, he could hear the Salvation Army setting up their band in the Hobo camp.

A bit later Mae wiping her hands on her apron came out. “Mind if I join you. Iva says she can handle the pie making by herself.”

“It would be my pleasure,” said Roy as the sounds of “Onward Christian Soldier” began to drift a cross the road.

“I see were being serenaded again”

“Ah yes,” said Roy. “I don’t know why they bother the men never pay any attention to them.”

Mae took a sip of her coffee.” I thought we’d take the pies to this evening’s neighborhood potluck.”

“Just so long as you leave some extra pieces at home for me and Verle.”

 There was nothing he or his son loved more than berry pie.

The neighborhood had taken to holding potlucks every Sunday night. Nothing fancy everyone brought whatever they could contribute and the men pooled their money together to buy some wieners to roast over a bonfire. The tough times seemed easier when they were shared.

He and his son took in baseball games whenever they could. Iva had become a teenager.

 One morning Mae informed him. “Iva is going to go get herself a perm today with some of the money she’s earned.”

Roy frowned, “What’s wrong with her hair the way nature made it.”

“Oh Roy, every girl wants curls. So no matter what you think when you see her this evening, say something nice. She’s sure she’ll be the cats meow.”

Roy kissed his wife on the head. “Don’t worry, I will be sure to tell her she’s beautiful just like her mother.”

On Friday November 10th, 1933 Roy came home early in the afternoon after delivering a cord of wood to a neighbor. He found Mae leaning back in the chair, wheezing.

 He sat down in front of his wife; her wheezing breaths were coming in short gasps. “How long has this been going on?”

“Not long, could you see if there’s any belladonna left in the cupboard.”

He rummaged around the cupboard and found some shoved in the back. He returned to Mae’s side who continued, wheezing in short, strained gasps.

“Try to keep your breath regular. Remember in for five and out for five, come on breathe in 1, 2,3, 4, 5. Now out 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.”

As her labored wheezing continued his mind raced ahead. What would he do if she turned blue or lost consciousness?”

 I’m getting the doctor,” said Roy.

“No, she whimpered, we can’t afford it.”

“Yes,” said Roy, “you need his help. I’ll be right back.”

He ran over to the store as fast as his legs would carry him. “Call doctor for me. Mae’s having a bad asthma attack.”

He raced home. Inside the house, he dropped to her side. “Come on Mae, come on, take some deep breaths in for five and out for five. You can do it, you’re doing well.”

Despite his calm reassurance her breaths grew torturous, with each inhalation, it was as if she was at war with herself. The seconds crawled by until the doctor arrived it was as if time had stood still.

The doctor when he arrived dropped to her side.”How long as this been going on?”

“I’m not sure. I found her wheezing when I got home about an hour ago. But it’s getting worse.”

After listening to her heart and lungs the doctor hung the stethoscope around his neck. “Help me move her into the bed. I’m going to give her a shot of morphine.”

After the shot Mae’s breathing started to ease. A sense of relief flooded his body but then he realized she wasn’t breathing at all. The doctor grabbed his stethoscope and put the round metal end on her chest.

His face grew graven. He took the ends out of his ears shaking his head. “I’m so sorry. She’s gone.”

“No,” moaned Roy, as his own heart raced. “It can’t be. She can’t be gone.”

“I thought her heart would be strong enough for the morphine. There’s nothing else I can do. You have my deepest condolences. I will step out and leave you alone to say your good-byes”.

Tears streamed down Roy’s face as he accompanied the doctor to the door. “I’m afraid I can’t pay you.”

“Don’t even think of it, there is no need to pay.” He patted Roy on the shoulder. “I have no words to tell you sorry I am for your loss. I’ll let the folks over at the store notify your family for you.”

 Roy went back to the bedroom where Mae lay. She looked so peaceful. He laid his head down on her chest and sobbed. “How am I ever to go on without you?”

 It wasn’t supposed to end like this. She was only thirty-seven, she had so much more life to live. Why at 48 he was the older one. They were meant to grow old together, watch their children graduate, get married and play with the grandchildren sure to come.

“Oh, Mae,” he sobbed. “There will never be another for me. You were my one and only love, of this you can be sure.”

When no more tears would come he wiped his eyes and stood. Shaking and feeling lost he glanced at the clock. The children would be home from school soon. They couldn’t find him like this, he had to be strong when he told them their mother had passed. He walked into the front room and closed the bedroom door behind him.

He had never felt so alone in all his life.


Authors Notes:

  1. Information about the rented farm and player piano came from my Dad’s writings and reminisces he shared with me. As did the info about the Sunday neighborhood potlucks.
  2. A note Mae wrote to her mother described Iva getting a perm for the first time.
  3. Info about Mae’s death came from things my grandfather said along with his children’s memories of that day. He death certificate verified the info.

Chapter 23-The Life and Times of William Roy Caple-1929-1933

On October 24th, 1929, Roy hurried home from work looking forward to a relaxing evening. He scooped up the newspapers from on the doorstep before entering the house.

Mae came out of the kitchen, drying her hands on a dish towel. “How was your day?”

“Busy,” said Roy. “How about yours?”

“Oh, you know the usual housekeeping chores.”

She came over and gave him a kiss and nodded toward the rolled-up newspaper in his hand. “The children are upstairs doing their homework. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a few minutes to relax  and enjoy your papers before they come down for dinner.”

Roy sat in his easy chair and unfolded the paper. He liked keeping up with the news and subscribed to both the Puyallup Herald and The Tacoma News Tribune. Bold headlines topped The Tribune.

Dark Day on Wall Street. Conditions almost panicky as millions of values vanish every minute.’

 Hmm, that doesn’t sound good. Thank goodness I don’t have anything invested in the stock market.

Over the next few days, the news grew gloomier as the paper reported increased losses in the stock market. By the end of the year, stocks had dropped $15 billion. Remembering how destitute the recession of 1893 had left his family, Roy worried a bit.

Still life for the next 10 months hummed along normally. He continued to work for the logging camp near Crocker. His job as a saw filer provided better pay than the back breaking logging work he’d done in his younger years. The children grew and brought joy into his and Mae’s life. She still had asthma attacks, but in between they had good times.

His mother had moved to Orting a couple of years earlier in order to get the rations entitled to Civil War veteran widows. On a Friday in late July of 1930, he dropped the children off at her house on his way to work, to spend a long weekend with their grandmother.

The next morning he and Mae were enjoying a leisurely breakfast when someone from the nearby grocer rapped on their back door.

“Mr. Caple, Mr. Caple, come quick you have an urgent phone call.”

Roy hustled out the back door and took a shortcut across the yard to the corner store on Pioneer Street.

Mr. Bryant, the store owner, nodded to the receiver lying beside the phone box. “I think it’s your Iva she sounds hysterical?”

Chills ran up and down his spine. With shaking hands he picked up the receiver and spoke into the box on the wall, “Hello.”

“Daddy,” bawled Iva. “You have to come quick, it’s awful.”

 She was so hysterical he could barely make out what she was saying, but evidently something had happened to his mother and the neighbor was with her.

“We’ll be there as fast as we can come, try to calm down.” He hung up the receiver and dashed out of the door.

Mae was pacing in the yard when he crossed the street. “What’s happened?”

 “Something’s wrong with Mother. I couldn’t make out much from what Iva was saying but the neighbor is there.”

I’ll get my purse and be right out,” she said, as he headed for their Model T.

When they got to Orting, they found Iva crying in the yard.

Mae wrapped her arms around her. “What’s happened?”

“I don’t know, It’s grandma. Mrs. Wilson called the doctor, he’s with her now. She got up from bed like usual and told me to sleep a while longer. But when she came back, she talked really funny, I couldn’t understand anything she said. She got in bed and then she couldn’t get back up.”

A stroke, thought Roy as he hurried into her house. In the bedroom he found the doctor bent over his mother. He turned his head toward Roy when he entered the room.  “Are you her son?”

“Yes, is it a stroke?”

He nodded. “I’m afraid so. I doubt she’ll ever recover. She won’t be able to stay here.”

Roy decided to move her to the old Meeker Mansion which had become a home for Civil war veteran widows. That way she’d be close enough to check on daily. On August 5th, 1930, she passed away peacefully in her sleep.

 A few days later the family gathered in Orting’s soldier’s cemetery to say their good-byes as they laid her to rest, on the gentle slope of a hill, next to his father.

Bereft himself he tried to give comfort to his sister Lida who took the loss of her mother especially hard.

In the years ahead Roy would think of his mother’s death as the beginning of the lean years, the bad years.     

 By 1931 the full brunt of the stock market collapse had hit Puyallup. Industry after industry curtailed  operations or went out of business. The logging operations where he worked shrank and then stopped.

 In 1932 Roy found himself out of work with no prospects of another job. Their small savings dwindled as he and Mae struggled to keep food on the table. Thankfully there was no mortgage on their house to worry about.

During the 1930’s most homes in Puyallup used firewood for heat. Roy decided to lease some of the  logged off land on the hills above Orting. The big trees were gone but plenty of small timber had been left behind that he could cut he could cut for firewood. He’d take orders for cords of wood or sell it on the streets. Sometimes all he got was 5$ per cord. Poor wages, but  nearly everyone in town was in the same boat. Sometimes he found work filing a few saws for loggers and or helping bring in a farmer’s crops.  In the summer the family picked raspberries and then blackberries. If they worked hard, they could bring in as much as a dollar or two each day

As much as possible he let the money the children earned be used for their school and clothing needs. But sometimes it couldn’t be helped they needed a few of their hard-earned dollars to make ends meet.

Fortunately Mae was nimble with the needle. She kept herself and Iva in clothing by turning sugar sacks and old clothes into something new. Still many a night they went to bed with their stomachs unsatisfied by the meager portions the evening meal had provided. Roy loathed those nights. He had never wanted his children to experience hunger the way he had a times during his childhood. On top of that his wife’s health continued to be precarious.

The freight trains that rolled a block away from their home began to carry men hunting for work. Because their house was close to a junction the trains frequently slowed or stopped there making it an easy spot for men to hop on or off.  A hobo camp sprang up on space near the tracks. Not a day went by without some of the men coming by their house looking for work in exchange for something to eat.

He and Mae were sorry they couldn’t give them any kind of work. But they did their best to see to it they never went away empty handed. Sometimes all they could offer was a carrot to help make soup or a cup of fresh coffee. His family grew used to hearing the Salvation Army group each Sunday when they came to the camp to pray and sing. The children thought it funny to watch the men hang their just washed underwear as the band played onward Christian soldier. Though the sanitary conditions were terrible, the camp was peaceful.

Mae canned vegetables from their garden to help get them through the winters and they picked berries together as a family wherever they could find free ones.

In the spring when their stock of home canned vegetables grew low Roy donned his leather gloves and picked nettles and other edible weeds. Mae cleaned and cooked them into a kind of edible spinach. His children didn’t care for it. But in lean times any food for free was welcomed.

One time he asked a farmer if he could have some apples knowing he was going to dump them as part of a government program to give growers more money.

“No,” said the farmer I can’t give them to you. “But I will tell you where I am dumping them.”

 Different things like that got them by.

His sister had been subject for years to periods of melancholy which grew worse after their mother’s death. After a rest at the Western Washington Sanatorium in Steilacoom she seemed better but then her dark moods came back.

He and Mae did their best to help his brother-in-law with their three girls and cheer his sister up. Lida and Mae had long been friends and the two families got together often. Their two oldest children were close in age to Iva and Verle and they enjoyed playing together. The two men had much in common as Roy too struggled to keep his family afloat and cope with Mae’s asthma attacks.

Early in the evening of January 6, 1933, Roy took his son Verle over to his wife’s relatives’ home to help with some bathroom repairs.

He had just reattached the faucet to the sink when heard a knock on the front door. A voice said, “I’m looking for Roy Caple his wife told me I could find him here.”

Dread filled his body as he placed the wrench on the floor. “Why had Mae sent for him?”

He found his brother-in-law George McKay in the front room, wearing a pinched face and bloodshot eyes.

“What’s happened?”

“It’s Lida,” said George as he broke down into sobs. “She’s gone.”

“What,” stammered Roy.

“She took her life,” said George. “She thought she ’d become too much of burden for me.”

“No,” moaned Roy as he covered his face with his hands. “How could she think that? We all loved her so.”

 “I left the girls with Mae. They were the ones who found her. I’d given anything for them to not have been the ones to find her.”

On January 10th the family huddled once again around a graveside, this time three brothers minus their baby sister.

Lida Caple Mckay circa 1916


Author’s notes:

  1. Most of the information on the depression years in this chapter came from both my dad’s and aunts writings and discussions I had with them. Both wrote and talked of being with their grandmother the day she had her stroke. Both wrote and talked of the hobo camp near their home.

2. My dad told me how he had gone with his Dad to help a relative the night they found his Aunt Lida had passed away. And her two oldest daughters told me about how she had sent their youngest sister to school with them that day. And how they were the ones who found her hanging in the attic.

Chapter 22-The Life and Times of William Roy Caple-The 1920’s

Although he missed his dad the year 1921 went by in a happy blur. He found time to install an indoor bathroom. The fruit trees were growing and had even bore a bit of fruit.

The following spring Mae’s parents and sibling moved into a house near theirs deciding to make Puyallup their permanent home. Her dad found work as a janitor at the WSU farm.

On August 30th of 1922, a baby boy joined the family. His birth overjoyed them. With a girl and a boy, they had the perfect family. They named him Roger Verle, but he soon became known as just Verle.

A few months later Mae developed a high fever, cough, and rash. Roy summoned her mother to check on her.

“Looks like she has measles,” she said. “She never had them as a child.”

She recovered, but the persistent cough continued. He grew concerned when in addition to the cough she sometimes wheezed.

“Perhaps you should go see Dr. Clay.” he suggested.

“Roy don’t worry so about me. You know coughs can linger for quite some time. I just need a little more time to recover.”

One day shortly after that conversation he came home from work to find their front door ajar. Inside he heard a voice say, “breath in through the nose and out through the mouth. That’s it, easy now.”

He pushed open the door. Mae sat upright in a dining chair her eyes closed, beads of sweat sat on her forehead, her chest quivered. Beside her sat Dr. Clay listening to her lungs through his stethoscope. Nearby hovered her mother.

“What’s happened?” asked Roy.

The doctor looked up and removed his stethoscope from Mae’s chest. “She’s had a bad asthma attack. But you can relax the worst is over.”

“Asthma,” stammered Roy.

“Yes, “said Dr. Clay. “I’m afraid there isn’t much I can do for it. There are some home remedies that might work. Often a strong cup of coffee or holding one’s head over a steaming bowl of hot water supplies relief or warm flannels to the chest when breathing grows labored. I’ll give you some belladonna powders, if you have a particularly horrific attack, you can burn it. Many find it brings relief.”

He scribbled out a bill and handed it to Roy. “Try to have her avoid stress. You can expect more episodes. It’s best to stay calm and let them pass. If they seem to get out of hand give me a call.”

Roy went to Mae’s side and took her hand. “How are you doing?”

“Better, but I got so scared, it felt like I couldn’t breathe. Thank goodness, Mama was here when it happened.”

“Were you doing anything stressful?”

“No, I had put Verle and Iva down for their naps. Mama and I sat down to visit and relax over a cup of tea and suddenly it felt like I couldn’t breathe.”

He looked at his mother-in-law.

“She gave me quite a scare. I summoned your mother and the doctor. When he arrived, your mother took the children next door.”   

Asthma would be a cloud over their head from then ever after. Roy was grateful that the children had two loving grandmothers and a grandfather close by to help when things were too much for his wife. She had periods of time when she’d be quite well. But just when he thought the asthma attacks were over, she’d wake up in the middle of the night gasping for air.

She’d say, “Roy don’t get up, you have work in the morning. I’ll just make myself a strong cup of coffee and sit in the rocker for bit.”

Often that was enough. He grew to dread the smell of belladonna burning. It meant her breathing hadn’t eased.

He’d get up and gently rub her shoulders, “breathe in for five, that’s it, now breathe out for five,” until her breathing eased.

If he noticed her lips turning blue, he knew she wasn’t getting enough oxygen and he summoned the doctor.

In between attacks they lived life much as ordinary families did. Each spring he tilled the earth for her to plant a garden full of vegetables and flowers. They took joy in watching their children grow.

He continued to strive to learn and better himself by reading and when he could afford it take correspondence courses. And he continued to love building things.

When he told Mae he’d always wanted to build a log cabin. She suggested he build a small one the children could play in. It took him a while to find, cut and haul enough logs just the right size.

The children eagerly watched him as he built it.

  “When will it be done, Daddy,” said Iva.” I want to play in it tomorrow.”

“Now Iva,” said his wife, “let your father rest. He’s already put in a hard day’s work. He will finish it in due time.”

He took the windows out of an old, discarded car and gave the cabin two windows. Mae made red checkered curtains for it, which reminded him of the ones his mother had made long ago. He installed a small bed and built a little table and chairs. Wooden apple crates became shelves and a wooden grape basket supplied a crib for Iva’s dolls. The children were elated with it.

Next, he built a small house on the property, to house his in-laws.

The summer of 1927 he got a job as the fire watchman for a logging camp. It meant he needed to be on site 24 hours a day five days a week.

“Mae,” he said. “How would you and the children like to come with me and spend the summer in the woods. You haven’t had a breathing spell in a long while.”

“I’d love it, it would be good for the children to get out in nature more.”

He put up a large tent up for them to sleep in. He split cedar for shakes and built a lean-to of them for Mae to cook in.

When the logging crew went back to camp each evening, they would have the woods to themselves. They picked berries which Mae canned or made into jam. Every weekend they’d load up the Model -t and make the 16-mile trek back to Puyallup. Mae would get the washing done and they’d stock up on the needed groceries for the next week.

That fall and winter Mae had so many bad asthmas attacks he feared for her life.

“The only thing I can suggest,” the doctor said, “is to move to high dry climate.”

He hated the thought of moving. Iva had started school and Verle would be ready for first grade the coming year. He didn’t want them to have a childhood full of moves, as he’d had. Puyallup had been his home now for most of the last 25 years. But he loved his wife too much not to consider the doctor’s suggestion.

During the winter of 1928 one of the loggers, he worked with said, “I heard of new logging camp starting  up high in the Blue Mountains of Oregon.

 “Really”, Roy said. “My wife’s doctor said a high dry climate might be best for her. Thanks for the tip I am  going to look into working there.”

 When he suggested it to Mae she said, “Roy, I don’t know. Our roots are here in Puyallup. We both agreed we didn’t want our children to move around the way you and I did.”

“I know, but your health is also important for them.”

“But we don’t know if it will even help. I’d hate to leave this house behind only to find we should have stayed put.”

“What if we went to try it out for the summer?”  “Your parents could look out for our place  here. If we like it in Oregon we can sell the place later, if not we’ll come back.”

“I guess we could try that.”

He spent his spare time the rest of the winter building a cupboard to fit the running board of their Model T Ford to accommodate the staples they needed on the long camping trip it would take to get to Kinzou, Oregon. They left as soon as the school year ended. He got a job unloading the bricks from the railroad for the new buildings being built.

While the new town of Kinzou provided a high, dry climate it was also dusty. Many a day he’d come home to find Mae coughing and wheezing. One hot, dry evening as they relaxed outside, he heard her begin to wheeze.

“Roy,” she said, I’m having trouble breathing.”

 He got her a strong cup of coffee. “Sip it slow and remember to breathe in five and out five.”

 The wheezing continued.

 “Roy, can you get me the belladonna.”

 He rummaged inside the lean-to cupboard and took it back to where she sat. “There isn’t much left but I will light what we have.”

 By now her breath was coming in short gasps. His mind raced ahead what if she got worse? What if she needed a doctor? There were none for miles around.

 Fortunately, the spell passed but he knew  they needed to leave Kinzou.

When Mae’s relatives in Yakima, WA had heard they were going to try living in a high dry, climate. Her Aunt Ann had written.

Why don’t you move to Yakima instead? The elevation might not be so high but it is warm and dry. There are plenty of jobs for Roy in the orchards.

He decided to move the family there for the rest of the summer. While he worked as a pruner in the orchards Mae had the support of a loving family to help with the children.

When he asked her if she’d consider staying there?

 She said, “Of course not, Puyallup is home, I can’t wait to go back.”

 They returned in time for the children to be back at school.

Verle age 6-1928


Authors notes:

  1. According to my grandfather, my grandmother loved a little boy in the neighborhood named Verle, but she thought two Verles in the same area would be confusing. They decided to name my dad, Roger Verle, instead. While he was still quite young the neighbor boy moved away and my dad was ever after known as Verle.

2. My grandfather said Mae developed asthma after contracting measles while my dad was still a baby. However on her death certificate her doctor wrote the start of her asthma as occurring the year before he was born.

3. In her memories my aunt Iva wrote of how she hated the smell of belladonna burning because she knew it meant her mother was having trouble breathing.

4. The information about the log cabin playhouse came from my aunt Iva’s written memories of it and my dad’s memories. I recall when I was small and we drove down River Road in Puyallup my dad would point out a log cabin sitting in a junkyard on the side of the road and saying it was once his playhouse. My grandfather had sold it to the owner toward the end of the Great Depression for 10 dollars for use as the junk yards office.

5. Both my aunt Iva and dad spoke and wrote of the summer they spent in the woods when there dad was a fire watchman. They both remembered it with fondness.

6. Kinzou was a new logging camp in the Blue Mountains of Oregon. It never became successful and ceased to exist. Information of the town and preparation for the journey came from my aunt’s and dad’s written account of that summer. Both recalled the day my dad almost drowned when playing in the log pond. Apparently my Dad crawled on a log which rolled him under. My aunt screamed and a one-armed man pulled him out. He always said his sister saved his life that day for if she hadn’t screamed for help he would have drowned.

7. According to my dad the place in Yakima where Mae’s relatives lived was quite isolated. He recalled that even in the days of cars they would have to send a horse and wagon out to collect them whenever they visited.

Chapter 21-The Life and Times of William Roy Caple-1920

Samuel Hugh Caple 1945-1920

Most of the next year passed in a blur. Iva continued to delight them and now that she was mobile Mae spent a lot of time chasing after her. Roy continued to work in the logging camp but now had a safer job as a saw filer. In October he finished the stone porch.

Mae came out and stood on it the day he declared it done. “I can hardly wait until the weather warms and we can sit out here.”

In late November a shadow hung over their heads when his father developed an infection in his foot. His diabetes complicated the situation and despite the attention of his mother and doctor the infection grew worse.

On December first, his mother came over to his house with a grave look upon her face. “Roy, the doctor just left, he said your father’s leg has turned gangrene. It has to come off.”

No, he thought, how can it be this bad.

“Your father has absolutely refused to allow it. You know what that means, I can’t bear the thought of losing him. Please talk some sense into him.”

Chills rolled over Roy’s body. Over the years he and his old man had had their differences, but he’d always been there for him all the same. He wasn’t ready to lose him either. But his dad had a stubborn streak. Once he made up his mind, it was impossible to change. Still, he had to try. Maybe if he let him think about it overnight, he’d be more amendable to listening to him.

The day next day he trudged up the stairs to his parent’s room. His hand quivered as he turned the knob. His father lay on the bed under a blue and white quilt his mother had made. A putrid smell of rotting flesh filled the air. A deathly pallor sat upon his father’s cheeks.

He approached the bed, “dad.”

His father’s eyes fluttered open. “The doctor says he needs to amputate your foot if you want to live. The family still needs you; I need you.”

“No, you don’t,” answered his father. “No one needs an invalid and I don’t want to spend more time living in the soldiers’ home. Once was enough for me. It’s better this way. My life has reached its end. I am okay with that.”

Roy felt a sadness squeeze his heart as he took a deep breath. “Dad, there’s still time to reconsider.”

“No,” said his dad. “My mind’s made up; I saw enough legs sawed off in the war to know it’s not for me. If it means the end, then so be it.”

The family kept vigil over his dad for the next few days as his father became delirious with pain and finally on Dec. 6th, he drew his last breath. They buried him in the Soldiers cemetery in nearby Orting with a simple headstone, bearing the name Sam’l H. Caple and his regiment in the Civil War, Company B, 5th Iowa infantry.


Writers notes.

Details of Roy’s father’s death come from what my grandfather and aunt told me and from Samuel’s death certificate.