Category Archives: 52 ancestors in 52 weeks

My Grandma

This story is about Margaret Ragsdale Caple. Although my aunt says she was born in Kentucky all of her records indicate Missouri as her birth place. The family came to live in Puyallup sometime between 1900 and 1904.  The Puyallup house, in this story, burnt down in the late 1930’s. The G.A.R. home mentioned was the Meeker mansion. Today it has been restored back to to the way it was when it was Ezra Meeker’s home and is a museum.

Margaret Ragsdale Caple with grandchildren in 1923

Margaret Ragsdale Caple with her 5 grandchildren in 1923. Standing in back are Robert Caple and Blanche McKay. The girl standing in front is Iva Caple Bailey and the older baby is her brother, Roger Verle Caple. Margaret McKay is on the right.

My Grandma

by Iva Bailey

I was only twelve when my grandma Caple died, but I have many good memories of her.

For the first eight years of my life, grandma lived right next door to us in Puyallup. We all lived on 16th street, south-east, in what was then called Meeker Junction.

The house grandma lived in was a large, two-story, white house with a big bay window in the living room that grandma called the parlor. There was a porch that went almost all the way around the house. This was the home my dad grew up in and the house that was for a short time, my second home.

My grandfather Caple had died in 1920 when I was only two years old. I really couldn’t remember him but his memory seemed to live on in the house too.

Grandma had snappy brown eyes and long beautiful hair when it was combed out she could sit on it. She would let me brush and comb her hair, then she put it up on her head with big, bone pins and pretty combs. To me she was beautiful.

Even though grandma was born in Kentucky, she was of English parentage and she was an avid tea drinker. She and I had many tea parties, complete with Johnny cakes, as she called the little cakes she made. I remember, in particular, the sassafras tea she would make for us.  It tasted so good to me then.

Years later, when I was grown up, I bought some sassafras bark and made some tea, but it didn’t taste the same as grandma’s.

The feather bed she had brought with her from Missouri, in the covered wagon. How I loved to spend the night with grandma and sleep in the big feather bed. In the morning there would be sunken spot where we had slept. She would let me help her fluff and make up the bed again.

When I was about eight, grandma traded the big white house in Puyallup for a house in Orting, which was about ten miles away from Meeker Junction. She was a Civil War veteran’s widow and as such was entitled to commodities. To get the commodities she had to live in Orting where there was a colony of soldier’s widows. There was then, and still is, a soldiers home there.

Once a month the army officials would deliver grandma, coffee, tea, sugar and other staples. To grandma on her small widow’s pension, this was a big help.

I can remember how really upset I was by this move. Grandma traded houses with a lady by the name of Mrs. Zettiker. I didn’t like this lady. She had taken my grandma’s house away from us, or so I thought in my childish mind. I can remember my dad trying to explain to me that it was to grandmas best interest that she make this move.

Mr. Zettiker came and she changed grandma’s house. She put a bathroom in the room that had been my play house. She tore off the big porch that my cousins and I had played on when it rained. All this didn’t make me like her any better. I was glad she never lived in the house. She rented it out and I had several “best” friends there during my growing up years.

I would visit grandma every chance I had, which was pretty often. Dad worked in the logging camp which was above Orting, so he would take me along often, when he went to work, and I would spend the day or week-end with grandma. We had some good times together, grandma and I.

It was the summer before I was twelve that will always live in my memory. Grandma had gotten up early one August morning to water her garden. She left me sleeping in the big feather bed that she and I loved so much. In a short time she was back. She was talking to me but I couldn’t understand her. She lay down on the bed beside me and I knew something was wrong. I don’t even remember getting dressed, but I guess I did. I ran to the neighbors and hysterically told her that something was wrong with my  grandma.

The neighbor helped me call my dad in Puyallup. We had no telephone at home, so I had to call a neighbor who got Daddy to the phone. I was so hysterical by the time Daddy got to the telephone he could hardly understand all that I was trying to tell him. He knew something was wrong with grandma.

 By the time my mother and dad got to us, grandma was in a coma. She had a stroke and never regained consciousness.

They moved her to the G.A.R. home in Puyallup. There she died a few days later on August 5th, 1930. She was seventy-two.

She was laid to rest with my grandfather in the Orting Soldiers cemetery on August 8th, which happens to be my dad’s birthday. It seemed to me then, that part of the light had gone out of my world.Headstone-Caple, Margaret Malinda (Ragsdale)

Movies Of Days Gone By

cinematographic camera with cinema icon vector illustration design

This short piece on movies of long ago was in the envelope along with the previous posted story “Grandmas Do Wear Pants.”

Movies Of Days Gone By

by Iva Bailey

Yesterday, the second day of 1988, I sat watching some old silent movies on the television with my two granddaughters, April and Johni. The girls thought they were really funny. I suppose to young people who have never known anything but wide-screen talking movies they do seem a little odd.

My earliest memories of going to the movies were at the old Dream Theater in Puyallup. The theater wasn’t very big and was only open on Saturday and Sundays. It was heated by a big old wood heater. If you got there early you would freeze until the fire got going good and before the movie was over you would be roasting. We would start out by setting down in front by the heater and gradually move back as the heat got to us. There was a pipe organ that was played all during the movies. As the excitement on the screen built up, the music would get louder and louder. I remember how I would set close to my dad, so he could read the conversation flashed on the screen. It was much easier for all concerned when I was old enough to go to school and learned to read for myself. I especially like the dog stories and Rin-Tin-Tin was my favorite.

When I was older and could attend the movies by myself or with a friend, there were serials that were continued from week to week and would always end at the most exciting spot, that kept us saving our nickles so we could go week after week. Sometimes we could talk the doorman into letting us in for free. Then we could buy a bag of popcorn or a candy bar. Nickles were hard to come by in those days.

Later on when the talking movies came in, another theater opened up. It was called the Liberty. This theater was larger and more elaborate. The Liberty is still there but the old Dream Theater has been gone a long time.  The town wasn’t large enough for two theaters after television came in.

Once in a while now when some movie is supposed to be special, Jack and I go, but they just aren’t the same. They leave nothing to the imagination, they tell it all.  The old movies, April and Johni and I saw on television may have been funny to them, but to me they brought back memories.

Grandma’s Wash Tubs

 

Laundry drying on the rope outside

The Grandmother in this story is Martha Smith Phillips. She was born in 1877 in Tama County, Iowa. Her family moved to the Black Hills in the 1880’s and she worked in a laundry for a short time in Riverdale, Wyoming before marrying Alexander Phillips. She passed away in 1973.

Grandma’s Wash Tubs 

By Iva Bailey

When I go to do my wash in these days of automatic washer and dryers, I think of my Grandma Phillip’s wash tubs. They were two big galvanized tubs, one for washing the other for rinsing. They sat side by side on a bench in the kitchen close to the wood range, where the water was heated in a wash boiler.

In my earliest memories the tubs had to be filled from the water heated on the stove. Later coils were put in the stove and a tall range boiler or tank,as we called it, stood in the corner and was connected  to the coils in the stove. Grandma thought then, that she was special to have such a luxury.

Grandma always washed on Monday. The clothes were scrubbed on a wash board. If they were really dirty they were then boiled on the stove in the boiler after which they were put in a tub of bluing water to rinse.

Grandma liked windy days to wash clothes.The wind would blow them dry faster and they would smell fresh.They were hung on the line with round-top peg clothespins.They didn’t have the spring kind until later. They were better because they wouldn’t fall off the line. The whites were always as white as snow waving in the breeze.

Tuesday was ironing day. She never put off ironing like I do when I wash clothes in my automatic washing machine. It is so easy to put it off, I hate to iron. Grandma liked to iron. She had two flat irons she heated up on the stove. She always tested it with a wet finger. If it sizzled it was just right for ironing. She ironed with one a while then, the other heated one. She especially liked doing up, as she called it, the white men’s shirts. She had worked in a laundry in South Dakota in her earlier days and was never happier than when she was ironing.

Grandma also used her tubs for baths before bath tubs. She also used them for canning fruits and vegetables. The jars were washed and sterilized, filled and cooked in the jars. I remember green beans always took a long time. It was a hot job in the heat of the sun and the heat of the stove.

Grandma Phillips lived to be ninety-six and before her life ended, she had some of the conviences of modern-day, but I think the happiest days were the days she would hang her sparkling white clothes on the line to dry.

An Unforgettable Experience

Here is another logging camp story written by my Aunt about her family’s move to Kinzou, Oregon. Today it is considered a ghost town. It existed as a company town from 1927 until 1978.

An Unforgettable Experience

by Iva Bailey

One day in the summer of 1928 our family, my dad, my mother, my brother and my-self set out on a trip to Oregon. Our destination was a new logging camp opening up in the Blue Mountains near Condon, at least this was the largest town I can remember near the camp.

My mother had asthma and the doctor had told daddy that a high dry climate might help her, and Kinzou was that.

My dad had been preparing for this trip all winter. He had built a cupboard that fit on the running board of our model T Ford. In this cupboard, my mother put all the staples we would need in our long camp-out on the way to Oregon.

To us this was a long trip, as most of our trips up until then had been to logging camps surrounding the Puyallup Valley.

My mother had made us blouses and skirts out of some kind of khaki colored material that would not show the dirt, because it would be hard to wash clothes on the road. I can remember those clothes so well. They weren’t very glamorous but they were serviceable. We had a new tent and daddy had made us beds out of canvas that he set up on blocks of wood we would pick up after we got there. They rolled up so they wouldn’t take up much room. I can’t remember too much about how they were made and I can’t remember being uncomfortable.

We started out from Puyallup one morning right after school was out so it must have been in early June. We went as far as Winlock, Washington which is probably about 60 miles from Puyallup. We had friends who lived there so we stayed over-night with them.

The next night I remember we stayed in Vancouver, Washington. We weren’t traveling very fast but with our model T and the load we had that was fast. I can remember going through Portland. This was the first time I had been out of the state of Washington and going across the Columbia river into Portland, Oregon was something to see. The Columbia river was quite a bit larger than the Puyallup river where we lived.

We must have camped at several places before we finally got to Condon. I can remember Condon though because the trees and everything were so different from the ones we had around Puyallup. It was very hot and dusty.

In Condon daddy bought us a little stove. He hadn’t wanted to carry one all the way from Puyallup and take up our precious space in the car. We bought the food supplies we would need before we went up into the hills to the camp.

The road up to the camp was narrow and rough. If we didn’t stay in the tire tracks we would get stuck in the sand. I can remember one place on the road in particular because it scared me to death every time we went on it.

The model T was really quite top-heavy with our cupboard on the side of the car filled with staples and all our other gear. This place in the road slanted into a canyon. We would have to all get on the other side of the car to keep the car from going down into the canyon.

We finally got to the camp and looked around for a place to set up for the summer.

Daddy had told me there would be rattle snakes there so I was looking for them, I sure didn’t want him setting our tent up on a snake. I can’t really remember seeing one but I imagined a lot.

This was a new camp and they were still building. My dad got a job unloading bricks from a rail road box car. It was a hard job but my dad being a logger was use to hard work.

I can’t remember to many things that happened in particular while we were there but there were a few unforgettable experiences.

There was a mill-pond where they dumped the logs they brought out of the woods. It was hot there and the people, especially the kids, would swim in the pond. Verle, my brother and I couldn’t swim but were allowed to wade close to the shore. On this day Verle went too far out and was climbing on a log when it rolled. He went under the log and I started screaming. There was a man close by and he pulled him out. I was sure scared and watched him a lot closer after that.

I can remember another day when dad decided we would go into town for some supplies. There was a company store in the camp but the prices were higher than they were in town, and you didn’t have much choice. I never really looked forward to those trips into town because of that road.

It was a very hot day this time. We hadn’t gone very far when we had a flat tire. We had a spare one but the tube had patches on it. It was so hot the patches would melt off and we would be flat again. Dad patched the tube all the way into town.

We finally got there and bought a new tube before the return trip. I had taken us so long to get there, dad was afraid it would get dark before we could get back to camp. He had heard they were building a new road that would be a short-cut back. He figured it might be finished enough for us to get back so he decided to try it. It went a long ways but not far enough. We came to the end. It was very narrow road with a canyon on both sides and absolutely no way to turn around.

Dad made us all get out and he backed all the way out while we walked. Needless to say it was dark when we got back to camp. I never was so scared in my life. There were no street lights out there in those woods and I knew what was just off that road. It was a deep canyon. To this day I have a fear of narrow roads and I think it all began that day.

We stayed in the camp about two months. Dad worked in the mill and filed saws for the loggers. My mother didn’t seem to be getting any better in fact she was having all kinds of problems. Dad decided we had better leave and get back to civilization where there were doctors.

The day we left was so hot and my mother was so sick, I will never forget it. We went to Toppenish, Washington. Toppenish is close to Yakima. She had relations there.

We stayed there the rest of summer and daddy worked in a prune orchard. My mother was better there and she was happier with relations. We went back home in time for school it was a summer I will never forget.

The Way It Was

In this piece my Aunt, Iva Bailey writes about the summer of 1926 or 27 when she and her family went to live in a logging camp. The photo is of her father William Roy Caple (on the right) and his felling partner Gus, taken around 1913-1916.

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 The Way It Was

Today the hills overlooking the Puyallup valley are covered with highways and housing. 

I can remember when they were covered with century old douglas fir, hemlock, spruce and cedar. This is where I was born and lived my childhood. It was here in my growing-up-years, my dad worked as a logger.

I can remember one time when dad took us, my brother, my mother and myself up into the forest to live for the summer. We lived in a large tent and a lean-to that dad built out of shakes he split from a big cedar tree.

The bunk house and the rest of the logging camp were in the valley but my dad was the fire watchman that summer, so had to be up where the logging was going on. Sometimes a spark from some of the logging equipment would start a fire and it would have to be put out before it reached the log trees.

There were no logging roads in those day as that was before the days of the logging trucks.  Everything was brought in and out on a logging train. The only way the men could get to the woods was on a train or by walking.

The men in the camp built steps into the side of the hill. As I think of it now it must have taken a long time to build all of those steps. 

On weekends, when the camp was closed, we would go home which was only about 6 or seven miles away. My mother would do the washing and stock up on food for the next week.

Dad would always try to get us back before dark but sometimes we didn’t make it and we would be climbing the steps in the dark. Dad would go ahead with a lantern and we would follow behind. 

I can’t remember being afraid but there must have been all kinds of animals watching us as we made our way up the stairs of the hill. There were lots of squirrels and chipmunks up there and we would have trouble keeping them out of our food.

It was exciting watching the men cut down the big trees with their big cross-cut saws. They always seemed to know which way the tree was going to fall.

One of my Dad’s jobs was to fire up the boiler on the donkey that would pick up the logs and load them on to the flat cars of the logging train.

    A donkey engine with unknown crew.

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Another of my dad’s jobs that summer was to prepare and serve the food that would come up on the train for the men’s lunch at noon. There was always lots of left overs for us. Loggers are big eaters and there would always be lots of cake, donuts and pie.

At the end of the day when the logs were all loaded on the train, the men would jump on the train and ride it back to camp.

There was always lots of sawdust around. I can remember playing with the saw dust like most kids play in the sand. There was lots of wild berries up there and often after dad finished work we would pick berries and my mother would can or make jam out of them.

Some times dad would take us on the logging train. That was really a thrill. When we passed through the camp on the way to the mill, we would know to jump off when it slowed for a curve.

Sometimes the logs would roll off the train. It was really quite dangerous because they were big logs. My mother would take us to get away from the tracks when the train went by.

When the summer was over and all danger of fire passed, we would go back home just in time for school.

It seemed to me then that there would always be lots of big trees but now they are all gone and in their place are highways and buildings. The only thing that hasn’t changed is Mount Rainer. It still looks down on Puyallup valley like a king on a throne.  

More Voices From The Past

Silhouette

I am sharing another story written by my Aunt, Iva Bailey. In this one she gives a window of what it was like when the little neighborhood store provided most of a family’s grocery needs. I also have fond memories of this store. A visit to my Great-Grandma Phillip’s house always included a trip to the little corner store for penny candy or an ice cream treat.

Mr. Bryan’s Store

I remember Mr. Bryan’s store. A store that was quite different from our supermarkets today. Different than our small neighborhood groceries also.

The store was on “our corner,” the corner of 16th st. and East Pioneer. Mr. Bryan had this store long before I was ever born so he was a pretty old man. Or at least he seemed so at the time. Now I would say he was middle-aged.

As I remember most everything came in bulk. Shortening and lard was in large wooden tubs. Peanut butter was in large pails. Almost everyone baked their own bread then so the only way flour came was in big, 100 pound sacks. The flour sacks were used after they were empty for dish towels and even clothes. I remember having under-slips and bloomers made from flour sacks. Sugar also came in 100 pound sacks but you could buy it by it by the pound in bulk. I remember Mr. Bryan scooping it out and weighing it on his scales. I remember the large round cakes of cheese, portions were cut off as large as the customer  wanted.

Bananas came on the stock. I still can see the big stock hanging in front of the window just inside. There would be another stock of green bananas in the store-room still packed in the hay it came in. Mr. Bryan would let some of the kids go into the store room and pick the sun flowers seeds out of the chick feed, that was always fun. The seeds were good to eat even if they were mixed in with the corn and other seeds. The feed was in big bins and we would have to practically stand on our head to get into the bins.

Mr. Bryan’s store was just like the pictures of olden day stores you see today. It had the big pot-bellied stove where all the men in the neighborhood that wasn’t working congregated and spent most of the day. There was always plenty of people in the store.

I remember the time our house caught fire. We had no phone so my dad told me to run to Mr. Bryan to call the fire department. I know no one ever ran faster. When I announced our house was on fire, all the men rushed out and was soon helping my dad put the fire out. Dad had the fire out long before the fire department got there. There was a big hole burnt in our roof. We were lucky it wasn’t more serious as it was a very windy day.

Mr. and Mrs. Bryan lived down the street from us in a great big house. I remember Mrs. Bryan’s attic. She had trunks of old clothes and she would let the neighborhood kids play there on rainy days. It was lots of fun trying on all those fancy dresses and hats she had.

The kids in the neighborhood were all disappointed when Mr. Bryan sold his store. It was never the same after that.

The store is still there and through the years has had many different owners but not of them were as unique as Mr. Bryan.

                

More Voices From The PAst

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More Voices From The PAst
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Martha Smith Phillips

This piece was written by my Aunt Iva Bailey about her Grandmother Martha Smith Phillips in 1979. Although she said her grandmother moved to Wyoming as a baby she was older. The family moved to Wyoming around 1887 or 88, born in 1877, she would have been 10 or 11 when they moved. The family did live in Nebraska in 1885 and probably lived there about 2 years before moving to Wyoming. Her future husband’s family were their neighbors in Iowa and the families may have followed each other to Wyoming. Martha and Alex married Aug. 1, 1895 making them 18 and 28 not 17 and 27.

Grandma’s Are Nice
Grandma Martha Maria Phillips was not only my grandma, she was my friend, my playmate and after we lost my mother she was like a mother to me. It was to her I took a lot of my teen-age troubles as well as the happy things that happened during the teen-age years. Things that dads just don’t understand the importance of even if they are the best dad a girl could ever have.
Grandma Phillips was born in Iowa but moved with her parents to Iowa when she was a small baby. I guess she knew my grandfather all her life. Grandfather Alexander Phillips like to tell the story of how he fell in love with her as he pushed her baby carriage when she was a baby. Grandpa was 10 years older than grandma.  They were married when she was seventeen and he twenty- seven. She was always his Mattie and he her Allie.

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Mattie and her brother William I. Smith taken in Nebraska.

To grandma was born three children, two girls and a boy.  They were born at a time when parents were called mama and papa. Even we grandchildren called grandpa, Papa. Grandma told many times how lonesome it was for them after my mother married my dad and came to Washington to live.  She told me how happy they were when they knew they were to be grandparents. How they waited for the news of my birth, when they knew it was time.
I guess having my mother so far away and then a grandchild was too much for them so they packed up and came to Washington to live.
It seems to me the very first thing I can really remember was grandma telling me I had a baby brother. I was three years old then and I guess it was the most important thing to happen to me in my young life so it stayed in my memory.
Grandma was small, I don’t think she ever weighed much over a hundred pounds but she was full of energy. She taught me to jump rope and she jumped right along with me, even red-hot peppers.
Grandma had dark brown hair and brown eyes. In the early days her hair was long. Later on when short hair came into style she had it cut and then she would curl her hair with a curling iron she heated by putting it in the kerosene lamp.  This was before the electric curling irons we have today. She was very proud of her appearance and hated the wrinkles all grandmas are bound to get sooner or later. I remember coming home from school one day, to find mother, grandma and my aunt at our house. They all three had egg smeared all over their face and neck. It was partially dry and they looked terrible. Grandma explained to me it was a secret and I wasn’t to tell anyone. I thought it strange at the time but I suppose it worked as well as the stuff they sell for the same purpose today.

Grandma and Papa lived on a farm a few miles from our home but when my mother died, they moved in closer to us. It was nice to have them close by and not quite so lonesome.

No one could make apple pie like grandma. I can see Papa yet, sitting in a chair peeling and cutting up the apples while grandma made the crust, crust that would melt in your mouth. They had a wood stove and grandma knew just how much wood to put in to keep a fire that would bake a golden crust. I use to watch grandma make the crust and I would do everything she did but my pie crust never turned out like hers.

When I was married and moved to Bremerton, we went back to Puyallup as often as we could. Grandma and Papa loved seeing the great-grandchildren.

One day Papa was out mowing the lawn. He came in, sat down in the chair to rest, went to sleep and never woke up. It was a shock to all of us because he had always seemed so well.  He was 87 years old.  Grandma and Papa had always been so close. He had always taken care of her in sickness and in health. We were so afraid Grandma couldn’t live without him but she was stronger than we thought. Some of the sparkle went out of her brown eyes but she seemed to enjoy life and her family.

As she grew older she seemed to live more and more in the past but she loved having her great-grandchildren and by now her great great- grandchildren around her.

She never forgot I was her first grandchild. Every time I would go to see her she would say “here comes my first.” She lived to be 97. She went to be with my mother and papa just a few days before Mother’s day in 1973. She had lived a full and for most part a happy life.

 

Voices FromThe Past

By default I have become the historian and keeper of the family photos and papers. Among this collection are the courtship letters my Caple grandparent’s wrote 100 years ago. In the process of getting ready to write about and share these letters, I began rereading the stories my Aunt Iva, their daughter, wrote of her family memories.Written mostly in the 1980’s these stories also deserve to be shared. Below is the one she titled “My Mother.”

The photo is of my Grandparents William Roy Caple and Mae Edith Phillips on their wedding day August, 1, 1917.

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    My Mother

by Iva Bailey

When I think of my mother, I think mostly of a girl of sixteen whom my father met when her family moved next door to his family in Puyallup.

The Phillips family came to Puyallup one day, when my mother was barely fifteen. They came from Wyoming. I’m not sure if they came with the idea of making their home here or if they came to visit some of my grandfather’s family who had come earlier.

It must have been love at first sight for my mom and dad because there was never any one else for either of them.

The family remained in Puyallup for a little over a year before my grandmother became so homesick for her family they decided to go back to Wyoming.

It was to be four long years before mom and dad married.

Dad worked in logging camps in and around the Puyallup Valley. Some of the winters  would be so snowy and cold they would shut the camp down until the snow melted in the spring. When this happened my dad would go to Wyoming to visit my mother and her folks, some times he would stay until it was time for the camps to open up again. In between those times the courtship was carried on by letters.

After my dad passed away in 1972 at the age of 86, I found a lot of the letters mom and dad had written through the years before they were married. From the letters I got to know the girl who was to be my mother. The girl my Dad addressed in the letters  as “Pet”, “my little Mazie” and “my little Wyoming girl.”  From the letters I learned of their loneliness when they were apart and their happiness when they were together. I could see and feel my mother grow from a young girl to a young woman. I learned the things that made her happy and the things that made her sad.

The letters told of things that happened on both sides of my family during those years. I got to know some of the relatives I had only heard mentioned once in a while when I was growing up, relatives that had died before I was born. In those letters I found dried flowers my Dad had picked in the woods while he worked and sent to his little Wyoming girl. In turn my mother had sent wild prairies flowers to him.

 They had worked out a code that they carried on a little private correspondence with. They called it their China letter. It consisted of numbers. We have tried every way to figure out this code but so far we have failed. Just about every one of the letters contain a small sheet of the numbers. It was their way of saying to each other what they didn’t want he rest of the family to hear.

Dad finally went to South Dakota to work in the Homestead gold mine in Lead which was close to Mona, Wyoming where the Phillips family lived.

After a time, on August 1, 1917, they were married. They lived in Lead until later that year in a blinding snowstorm, they left South Dakota to make their home in Washington.

At first they lived in an apartment in the Scott Hotel which was located a block away from the home, my dad soon built for his little Mazie from Wyoming, and I grew up in. He built the house himself. The front porch was built of cobblestone he carried from the Carbon River stone by stone in a pail. It must have taken a long time because there were a lot of stones in that porch. The house had all the conveniences that other houses built at that time had. Dad often express his regrets in later years, that my mother never knew the conveniences added through the years, but I am sure she was happy in that house.

My mother had beautiful black hair and pretty brown snappy eyes. She was about 5 ft 6 and never weighed more than 120 lbs. When I was young my desire was to grow up to look like she did.

I was born while they were still building the house. Dad was working in the Todd ship yard in Tacoma while he was working on the house so it went slow. This was the time of the first world war.

My brother Verle was born when I was nearly 4. My Mother had the measles shortly after that and from that time on she was to suffer from Asthma.  The attacks she had were so terrible she had to fight to breathe. Now they have oxygen and drugs that would have relieved her but then the remedies would help for a while but soon have no affect at all. I remember the powder she would burn in a little container. I think it was Beladona leaves made into a powder. It smelled terrible. The smell would wake me up at night and I would know my mother was having an attack. It was a helpless feeling knowing I couldn’t help her. Dad tried everything possible to get help for her.  We moved to another climate for a time but she only got worse so we came back home again.

There were times when she would feel real good and we would have such good times. She liked to sew and could make anything she put her mind to. I remember the pretty dresses she made for me. She never used a pattern. She could look at a dress in a catalog and make one just like it.

As I look back it seems like such a short time. I was fourteen in 1933 when her heart could no longer stand the strain of the asthma attacks. She passed away Nov. 10th of that year. She was just 37.

 

4th of July 1910 style

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The Samuel Caple home, Puyallup, WA, 1905. The woman standing is Margaret, the seated gentleman, Samuel. The little girl is probably their youngest child, Lida. The young man standing on the right might be a son. The man on the left is unknown.
Family History writing prompt 6 – choose an ancestor and a census where they appear, throw a block party for everyone on the page. What are they celebrating, doing and talking about?
I chose the page of the 1910 census where my Great Grandparents, Samuel and Margaret Caple appeared. They were living on Schuman St., Puyallup, Ward 3, roll T624-1665, 6a, Enumeration District 210, Image 1105.
Of the 50 people enumerated on this page only 10 were born in the state of WA and only one was an adult. Most were born in the Midwest with one person from Germany and one from Scotland.
Of the Twelve families listed, five rented their homes, seven owned and of those seven, three had mortgages. Nine families were listed as living in houses and three families on farms. Much to surprise my great grandparents were one of those with a farm. Proving the adage that one should always look again at documents you think you have already gleaned all the information from.
Occupations varied, with one full-time farmer, one express business, three loggers, two sawmill workers, two retail workers, one employed at the box factory, one carpenter, and one rail road worker.
Those interested in social history should google the July 4th heavy-weight fight between Jack Johnson and James Jefferies, mentioned in this story. The fight sparked both riots and celebrations nation-wide.

4th of July, 1910

 Margaret pushed open the screen door and stepped onto the porch. The sight of Mt. Rainer, silhouetted majestically against the blue sky, made her pause. What a splendid night for a 4th of July supper.

Laughter erupted from the far end of the porch where Naomi Bailey, the Alger girls and her daughter Lida were having a good time playing a game of jacks.

It gladdened her heart to see Lida with chums. Living in a sod house in Oklahoma had been lonely. Leaving had been the right decision, it was nice having neighbors and friends close at hand.

Her eyes scanned the street, under the trees next door, the men had set up tables and chairs for supper. Now the women were busy filling the tables with platters of sliced ham, fried chicken, homemade breads, jams and jellies, deviled eggs and salads. Plates of cakes, cookie and pies and berries fresh from her son Roy’s berry patch, filled the dessert table along with pitchers of lemonade and iced tea to quench their thirst.

Grunts and groans arose from the side of the house where her three sons, home from the logging camps, were supervising the nine year-old Bailey twins, Harold and Howard, as they cranked the churn on the ice cream maker.

“Come on you can do it,” urged her son Roy. “A little more muscle work and you’ll be done.

At 26, 24 and 20 her three dark-haired sons were a good-looking trio. She’d noticed the way the girls looked at them. Soon someone would steal their hearts.

She reached up and brushed a tear from her eye, her thoughts drifting to her missing children. Sammy should be standing there with the three of them. Had it really been 10 years since they’d lost him. It had been even longer since Ida and baby Bertle had passed.

Guffaws from down the street interrupted her sad thoughts. The older men of the neighborhood were gathered around Mr. Bryan’s shiny, black Model T. Ever since he come home with that car, her Sam could speak of little else. He’d even begun to talk of getting a truck of his own. She shook her head, such nonsense.

The rest of he men were gathered by their barn, deep in conversation. No doubt discussing today’s heavy-weight fight between Johnson and Jefferies. Fights – another piece of nonsense.

Stepping off the porch Margaret strode toward the food tables to add her yeast rolls to the tables.

No doubt about it, President Taft would be proud of how her neighborhood had answered the call for a safe and sane 4th. She just hoped it remained that way later when it was time to shoot the fireworks off at Spinning school.

1930

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My Father, Roger Verle Caple

Family history writing prompt 5:  Choose an ancestor, a year and 3 items from a Sears catalog of the same year, to give this person. Why did you make the choices you made?

For this prompt I used the 1930 Sears fall/winter catalog and my Dad, who would have been eight years-old. To make my pretend gift giving more fun, I decided to include his sister and one item the entire family could enjoy.

The opening page of the 1930 fall/winter catalog proclaimed itself to be the “thrift book of the nation” and went on to say, “reckless spending is a thing of the past” and promised, “prices much lower than anytime in the past ten years.”

By the winter of 1930 the Great Depression had begun. The census taken earlier in the year had listed my Grandfather’s work as logging, an industry the depression would hit hard. It is possible that by December he no longer had regular work. A tight rein on expenditures would be needed if his family were to survive the coming years.

Imaginary Gifts

I can see my dad, laying on a rug, the catalog opened to the dog-eared page filled with Lionel trains. Oh how he longed to have one of those trains. Why they even had real lights.

I’m sure he spent time looking at the other toys – the trucks, cars, balls, games and building sets etc. He must have thought the giant stocking filled with 30 gifts including whistles, a mitt, balls, puzzles, yo yo’s, crayons, marbles and much more would be nice to receive.  But what he really wanted was a train.

His sister, who had just turned 12, was outgrowing toys, it was the dresses, hats and coats for the stylish 12-16 year old that captured her attention. When she got to the pages filled with radios and telephones, she probably dreamed of the day when her family could finally own one.

With this in mind I made the following choices:

For my Dad, I chose the most popular Lionel electric train set priced at 11.98 including postage. It came complete with track, a locomotive with 2 headlights, 2 illuminated pullman cars, one illuminating observation car, warning signals, etc. It also needed a 10 volt transformer or battery at an additional $3.59, making the set a total of $15.67. When you realize in today’s dollars the set would have cost $214.39, you can understand why he didn’t get one. A family worried about their future didn’t have money for such purchases.

My next choice was the stocking filled with trinkets. What little boy wouldn’t enjoy getting a stocking filled with 30 gifts. At $1.79 it seems like a bargain, but in today’s world it would be $25. More likely he got one or two inexpensive cars and a stocking filled with oranges, nuts and candy.

My Dad enjoyed engineering so for my third gift I chose the “Starter Erector” set. Cheaper than the train at  $4.51, it would still cost $62.00 today. There were many fancier and more expensive sets but the starter set seemed best for an eight year-old.

For his sister, I chose a dress that was a saving from the similar dress sold the previous year – or so the catalog said. Made of a good, warm cotton suiting, with a smart woven pattern, embroidered stitching and a hip belt, it came in medium blue and sold for  $3.98. ($54.73 today)

To  go over the dress I added a wrap style, navy blue coat of 9/10 chinchilla wool with a genuine fur collar. It had a heavy fleecy cotton suede lining. The cost was $9.95. ($136.73 today)

To complete the look I picked a navy Classmates hat styled for the modern girl who demanded the newest fashions. Framing the face it gave a look of youthfulness and charm and came with felt bow and rhinestone ornaments. The cost was $2.98. ($40.98 today)

One of the questions asked on the 1930 census was whether or not the household owned a radio. Of the 15 houses enumerated on the same page as my Dad’s family, 7 households had radios. Their house was not one of them, so my pick for the family gift was a radio.

Knowing my grandfather was a frugal man, who would never approve the purchase of the $164 console radio, ($2,255.24 today) complete with a remote for turning it on and setting the stations from ones’ easy chair, I chose a modest table top model at  $41.50. ($570.69 today)

It was billed as the greatest performing all-electric receiver ever offered. With 8-tube-all-electric neutrodyne, it came in a dark rich bronze color. Apparently you still needed to purchase the tubes bringing the total price to 61.50. ( $845.00 today)

I don’t know when the family finally got a radio. My aunt wrote that her Mother enjoyed going to her parent’s house to listen to western music shows. My Grandmother passed away 3 years later, so I am guessing they didn’t have a radio until after 1933.  My Dad never did get the train he so wanted.