Chapter 14-The Life and Times of William Roy Caple- Thanksgiving 1912

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Four days before Thanksgiving, Roy headed home. An early cold snap had closed the logging camp down for the winter. He’d miss making a little more money for the year, but he welcomed the chance to relax in his parents’ cozy house.

On his first morning home as he stood on his parent’s porch and spotted Mae out walking. He sprang down the steps and scurried over to her side. “Would you mind a little company as you walk?”

She tilted her head demurely. “Not at all.”

At the next block they headed west on Pioneer. As Spinning school came into sight Mae stopped in front of the handsome, two-story, brick building.

 “It’s quite a school compared the one room one I attended. Did you go there?”

“I did though not continuously. I went for first grade and finished with the seventh and eighth grade. In between, we were mostly in Oklahoma. School there only went for three months a year, mostly in the winter, consequently it took me forever to finish.”  

Mae nodded. I can understand that in Wyoming winters were often too cold, so we often didn’t finish our school term into well into summer.”

Where in Wyoming?” Roy asked as they began to walk again.

“A little place called Mona,” said Mae.” It’s in the Black Hills in an area called the Bear Mountains. I guess Aladdin would be the nearest place you’d be likely to find on a map.”

I am a bit familiar with the Black Hills, said Roy, your place must be near the South Dakota borderline.”

Yes, in fact we got most of our supplies there.”

“Did your dad ranch?”

“Yes, he came there as a homesteader with my grandparents and his many aunts and uncles. He still owns the place but he’s renting it now to my cousin.”

“Ahh,” said Roy, “that’s something we have in common as my dad homesteaded too, in Kansas where I was born, and then in Oklahoma.”

At Main Street they headed north toward the fairgrounds. They strolled past the big, white, wooden roller coaster.

Roy gazed at the structure. “Did you get s chance to go to the fair in September?”

Mae nodded, “Lillian and I went, but we chickened out of riding this roller coaster.”

“That’s a shame,” said Roy. “I’ve ridden it. It’s quite a thrill.”

“If I’d a handsome hunk like you to protect me, I might have gone. We did ride the merry- go- round. If you’d been along, we could have ridden double. I miss my horse.”

“The merry-go-round horse,” he teased.

Mae’s eyes crinkled in laughter. “No, my real l horse. The one I left in Wyoming. I hope my cousin is taking good care of Drummer.”

 Roy  nodded. “I had a horse when we lived in Oklahoma. Nowadays I am quite content to walk or catch a train.”

They turned around to walk back toward home. A car beeped its’ horn at them as they crossed the street.

 “You never see automobiles where we live in the Black Hills.” said Mae.

“Didn’t see them here either until a few years ago when Doc Kushner bought one. He nodded to the showroom window they passed, full of new cars. “Times are a changing, that’s for sure.”

When they walked back down their block for home, Roy asked. How would you like to join me for a movie in town tomorrow? I’ll ask Lida along so we’ll be chaperoned.”

“I’d love to,” she said.

“Great, I’ll find out what time it’s playing let you know later today,”

He watched her as she climbed the scant steps to her porch. When she reached the door, she turned and waved, sending his heart into flip flops. Justin is right, maturity matters more than age.

They had the best time going to the movie. Lida and Hazel bounced ahead of them as they walked to town, leaving him and Mae to carry on a conversation without them. Afterwards, he’d treated them to chicken dinner at the diner.

Thanksgiving morning, the sun peeking through the windows awakened him. Reluctant to get out of his warm bed, he yawned and stretched. Logging camp never allowed him the luxury of sleeping in. Below him he heard his mother and sister bustling in the kitchen. His stomach growled thinking of the feast awaiting him later. He could hardly wait, well, that and the fact that Mae would be there.

 He forced himself to crawl out of his cozy, warm bed. Throwing on his overcoat he made a bee line to the necessary house out back and back up the stairs where he splashed the chilly water from the pitcher on his face and pulled from the closet his best suit of clothes. Once dressed he headed back down the stairs. The scent of turkey roasting mingled with spices and the yeasty smell of bread rising accosted his nose on entering the kitchen.

His mother looked up from the pot she stirred. “I’m glad you slept in; you work too hard in the woods.” She nodded toward the dining nook in the corner. “I left a light breakfast on the table for you, everyone else has eaten. Help yourself to coffee.”

Roy took a cup from the cupboard and filled it from the coffee pot simmering on the stove. Careful not to spill, he carried it over to the nook and settled himself on the bench beside the table. He reached for the bread, jam, and fruit his mother had left for him. “Who all will be here for dinner?”

His mother wiped her hands on her apron. “Well, there’s your dad and I, you boys and Lida, Aunt Ida, and the Phillips family. So, the answer is twelve.”

Roy finished eating and took his plate and cup to the to the sink.

“Do you need me to help?”

She pointed to the cupboards. Your father and brothers have gone to fetch Aunt Ida so I could use someone to get my good china down.”

Roy carried the china to the dining room table covered in a freshly ironed white, embroidered tablecloth.

“Anything else you’d like me to do?”

“No, that’s it for now. Why don’t you work up an appetite by going for a walk?”

Roy rubbed his stomach. “Not needed; the smell of that turkey roasting is driving me wild. But I can tell when I am not wanted and walk does sound nice.”   

Grabbing his hat and over coat from the hook in the front foyer he headed down the front steps. He felt disappointed when he saw no one out on the street. He’d prefer to have someone to walk with especially if it we’re Mae. He headed over to the Henry’s and found Justin and Lillian in her yard. He joined them in conversation.

After a while he looked at his pocket watch. “Goodness look at the time. I’d better be off for home. Mother will throttle me if I am late for her dinner. “   

As he approached the house, he spotted Lida in the parlor window. She opened the front door. “It’s about time you got home. Our guests have arrived and you’ve been sauntering around town.”

 “Sorry,” he said, “I lost track of time.”

Hanging up his overcoat and hat on the coat tree, he stepped into the parlor where his dad, brothers, and Mr. Phillips sat conversing.

 “Spotted you talking to Justin and Lillian.” said his father, “I imagine they caught you up on all the latest news.”

Roy nodded, finding a place to sit. “Sorry, I’m the last one here.”

 “Your Father was just telling us about his time in Andersonville prison,” said Mr. Phillips. “It’s a wonder he survived.

“Well, I for one am glad he did,” said Roy.

His brother Richard laughed. “We wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t.”

Mr. Phillips smiled, “I guess not. Your brothers were telling me they had a good year harvesting the wheat and apple crops east of the mountains. Still finding plenty of trees to cut down, are you?”

Roy shifted in his chair, “Don’t suppose they’ll ever run out of enormous trees.”

Mr. Phillips nodded. “They’re sure bigger than the timber we have in the Black Hills. I hear they feed you well out in those woods.”

“True,” said Roy. “But our cook quit in September. Another logger agreed to take the job but only until someone complained.”

“Goodness how did that work out?” asked Mae walking into the room.

“He’d been a cook before, so he did okay.”

“Did anyone complain?” asked Mae.

“No, but one day, but he got tired of cooking so added a box full of salt to the soup. One of the men took a taste and said, “My, this soup is salty.”

Then he remembered the complaining rule and added, “Just the way I like it.”

Laughter filled the room.

“Oh my, she said that is funny. Did he quit?” asked Mae

“No, but they soon found us a new cook.”

 Mae clapped her hands. “I almost forgot I’m supposed to say dinner is ready.”

Roy jumped from his chair to be the first to follow Mae into the dining room. A large roasted turkey sat at the head of the table while steam rose off dishes of yams, mashed potatoes, beans, and cornbread stuffing.

Roy pulled out a chair for Mae “Allow me.”

“Thank you,” she said as she sat.

She patted the chair next to her. “And please take this one next to me.”

Roy wasted no time in doing so.

After everyone took their seats his mother bowed her head, “let us give thanks.”

Everyone bowed their heads in thanksgiving.

Raising her head back up, his mother handed his dad the carving knife. “Let the feasting begin.”

His dad began to carve the turkey as the other savory dishes were passed around. Soon heaps of turkey dressing, mashed potatoes, beans, rolls, and salad sat on everyone’s plate.

Roy swallowed a bit of mashed potatoes and turned to Mae. “Would you like to accompany me to the new movie starting Saturday? Hazel could go too.”

“I can’t speak for her,” said Mae, “but I’d love to go.”

______________________________________________________________________________________

Author’s notes: 

Both of my grandparents made references to this special Thanksgiving dinner in 1912 in their letters to each other. Also they referenced going out to movies and for meals together.

According to my grandfather his dad often referred to his experiences in Andersonville prison during the civil war.

The story of the salt in the soup was a favorite my grandfather told of his logging experiences.

The first car in Puyallup was owned by Doc Kushner according to Puyallup history.

Chapter 13- The Life and Times of William Roy Caple-Getting to Know Mae

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Roy and Gus caught the last train out of camp on a Saturday a to attend his mother’s birthday party in March. Late in arriving they found the house brimming with friends and family including the Phillips family.

His mother threw her arms around him. “Oh, Roy I’m so happy you made it. And you too Gus she said giving him a hug. “Now all my children are here. You may have missed dinner but you are just in time for cake.”

One of the neighbor ladies handed him a slice if cake. Roy noticed Mae in the kitchen helping the neighbor women with the dinner dishes.

He hoped to find a moment to talk to her alone later and joined the men conversing in the corner of the parlor where her overheard her father speaking to another of their neighbors.

“I know she looks older,” he said as took another bite of cake, “but Mae is only fifteen.”

Fifteen thought Roy dismayed. She’s way to young for me to court. Still, he had a challenging time taking his eyes off of her the rest of the evening.

 Gus and Roy returned to the logging camp Sunday night; Gus teased. “Roy, I do believe you’ve been bit by the love bug. I saw how you never took your eyes off of Mae.”

Roy shook his head, “No way, didn’t you also hear, she’s only fifteen. She’s just a girl.”

Still at odd moments, he daydreamed of the girl with dark hair and eyes the color of melting chocolate. He decided it would be best if he stayed away from Puyallup until he had forgotten her. When he had idle time on his hands, which wasn’t often, he’d coax Gus or another logger to go fishing or hiking.

 On a Sunday in late June, Roy sat on the bunkhouse stairs dozing in the warm sun.

An envelope waving n front of his face startled him. “Wake up, sleepyhead. I’ve brought a letter from your mother, “said Gus.

He blinked and shook the sleep out of his eyes. Sitting up straight, he grabbed the envelope from Gus. “Thanks, I wonder what news she has.”

He unfolded the note written on crisp linen paper.

Dear son,

Your father says the first of the raspberries are turning red. It’s time to come home and tend to the picking. We hope to see you down home, soon. Will wait until then to catch you up on the news around here.

Love, mother

Roy went inside the bunkhouse. He sat the letter down on his bunk and turned to Gus. “Time for me to tend to the raspberry picking. Any chance I can entice you down to Puyallup to help with picking?”

Gus laughed. “No way, Guess I must find me a different falling partner for a while.”

“Just so you take me back,” said Roy. He really wasn’t worried. The two of them had worked out a good sawing rhythm which made them efficient fallers. He knew he’d take him back.

He picked up his knapsack and put his things inside. “Think about coming down for the Fourth of July, though.”

“Will do,” said Gus. Roy caught the first train out the next morning. he stepped off the train at the depot just in time to catch his father loading a delivery.

 Roy waved his arms in the air. “Hey, Dad, wait up.”

He dashed along to the side of the tracks.

His dad looked down from his seat on the wagon, “Spec, you’d like a ride home.”  

“If it isn’t too much trouble.”

“Climb on up.”

Whoa,” yelled his father as he drew the wagon up in front of their house, “I have a few more deliveries to make. Tell your Mother I should be back around four.”

“Will do,” said Roy as he jumped out of the wagon and went up to the house.

His sister Lida met him at the door. At thirteen she was getting to be a looker with her dark dancing curls and eyes that looked like a rich dark chocolate. She threw her arms around him, almost sucking the air out of him. “I’m so glad to have you home. I wish you’d quit logging so you could live here full time. I miss you too much.”

“I gather school must be out already,” said Roy, setting his duffle bag down. “Where is mother?”

“I think she’s next door visiting with Mrs. Phillips. We’ve rounded up an entire crew of pickers for you.”

“Really,” said Roy, relieved he wouldn’t have to worry finding pickers. “Are they anyone I know?”

Lida smiled. “Well, you know me and mother and we have Lillian Henry and the Phillips family next door, Justin Phillips, both of his aunts, a girl named Blanche and a few others from school.”

“Sounds like an interesting crew,” said Roy. “Glad to hear there are a few adults in the group to keep you giggling girls in line.”

Lida threw a silk fringed sofa pillow at him, “make yourself at home, I am going to meet my friend, Blanch.”

Roy went up the stairs and deposited his duffel bag inside his room. Guess I might as well mosey outside and check on the raspberries.

He walked the neat rows of raspberry canes, pleased at how lush, and laden with fruit they were. Here and there he plucked an already ripe berry into his mouth. There was nothing he liked better than berries. He reckoned another day or two of sun and the crop would be ready to pick. After leaving the berry fields, he wandered over to look at the cherry trees his dad had planted when they’d move to Puyallup. They too hung heavy with fruit. He reached up and enjoyed a few low hanging ripe ones. Looks like it’s going to be a good harvest this year, he thought.

Picking went well that summer, the girls Lida had rounded up were diligent workers even if they prattled on and on about things as they picked. They kept him busy checking in their flats. He noticed Mae liked to pick mostly with Justin or her parents and aunts. She seemed past the giggling stage his sister and her friends were in.

Twice his mother had pointed out what an attractive girl Lillian was. “Roy, she’s 19 you should think about courting her, it’s high time you settle down and started a family of your own.”

Roy sighed; He wanted to settle down one day, but not until he had a nice nest egg for the future saved. He never wanted to move his family from place to place without a dime to their name like his father had. Besides, as nice as Lillian seemed to be, he didn’t find himself attracted to her. He thought Justin was, though. It was Justin’s cousin, Mae, who captivated his heart.

Yesterday Justin had suggested they take the girls out on a double date. “I’ll ask Lillian and you can ask, Mae.”

Roy crossed his arms, “Don’t you think she’s a might young for me.”

“Not at all,” said Justin. “She may only be 16, but she’s mature beyond her years.”

“I thought she was only fifteen,” said Roy.

Justin shook his head, “Nope, she turned 16 back in May.”

“Still seems too young to me,” Roy said.

On the last day of the berry season, Roy woke to sunshine. He stretched, climbed out of bed, donned his gray trousers, freshly starched white shirt, and a brown vest and went downstairs to the kitchen.

His mother filled his teacup with coffee, “Sure, you don’t need my help, today. I understand most of the Phillips folks are gone.”

He grabbed a piece of toast set on the table and slathered it with butter, “I’ll be fine with a skeleton crew, we have little left to pick.”

He rose, lifted his felt hat from the hook next to the door and headed out the front door. “See you at supper.”

 He assigned his remaining pickers in teams of two. As they headed into the field, Mae came scurrying up to him. “Sorry, I’m late. I had to help Mama with some chores first.”

“Quite alright,” he said. “As long as you don’t mind partnering with me.”

She batted her eyelashes at him “Of course I don’t mind.”

She reached for a wooden flat and carrier to take into the field. Roy grabbed it from her, “Allow me.”

He set the flat and carrier at the head of a row. “I’ll just go get another one for myself”

 Returning, he couldn’t ignore how beautiful the scene before him looked. Mount Rainer stood majestically above his raspberry field with Mae looked equally beautiful in her a long-sleeved white blouse. A dark skirt with a cinched white apron revealed her slim waist.

 He headed down the other side of the row and soon stood on the opposite side of her unnoticed.

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She plucked a large raspberry from the bush. “So good,” she murmured to herself.

“Sure are,” he said.

 Startled, she said, “Oh goodness, you caught me eating part of your precious crop. Sometimes I just can’t resist.”

“Think nothing of it.” He plucked a berry, reached across the row, and dropped it in her mouth. “Have another.”

 She laughed.

He groaned how he’d love to reach over and draw her close enough to kiss her raspberry-stained lips.

Before long she surprised him by plucking a big ripe raspberry in his mouth. “How is logging going? I can’t get over how enormous the trees are here It must take forever to cut those big ones down.”

“The bigger ones take all day,” he admitted. “But there are plenty of days we can get two or three smaller ones down.”

“I noticed you reading a book the other day during our lunch break,” she said. “I love to read; Mama says I have my nose in a book too often. There always seems to be chores to do, so I don’t really don’t get to read much.”

Roy reached for another group of ripe berries, “Me either and I’m razzed a lot in camp for reading as much as I do. I don’t mind though, it’s better than drinking or gambling my earnings away. I’m saving my money to buy some land of my own.”

“Sounds sensible, having a place to call your own is important, I think. What do you like to read?”

“Almost anything,” He reached or for another plump raspberry and dropped it into her mouth. “But I’m studying too.”

“Oh, I’d like a chance to go on to Normal school, but Papa thinks schooling beyond the eighth grade is a waste for women when we’ll just end up married, anyway. He thinks I should just stay home and learn to keep house and cook. But I’m already an excellent cook. I want to earn my own money, which is why I am picking berries.”

“What are you currently studying?” she asked.

“Electricity, It’s the future. I plan to electrify my home and soon as it’s available in this area. Course I will need a house first, but maybe by the time electricity comes to Puyallup I’ll have one.”

“Oh, wouldn’t that be nice and indoor plumbing? You must learn how to do that, too.”

 All that day they picked. Occasionally they surprised the other and held up a red, ripe berry to the other’s mouth. They talked and laughed until quitting time arrived. He’d never enjoyed picking with someone so much. She could be the girl, he thought, if only she were older.

Chapter 12-The Life And Times of William Roy Caple-Meeting Mae

At the start of 1912, Roy was 26 years old. He’d yet to meet a girl he cared enough about to marry. Not that there was much chance of meeting a girl in a logging camp.

From time to time, he’d attended the dances the camp held. A dancer he was not. The legs, which kept him out of harm’s way in the woods, turned to mush when he tried to dance.

He’d learned to read the sounds of the woods. Every ping, chug or whistle he heard meant something different. He’d grown accustomed to the steady sawing sound the buckers made cutting limbs from the giant trees into logs that would fit on trains. Daily he experienced the shattering sounds of mighty trees as they fell to the ground.

Besides the logging, he ran a raspberry field on some of his father’s acreage. It was a small operation; one he could manage himself with the help of a few hired pickers at harvest.

He’d toyed with the idea of buying enough land to raise berries full time. But that meant taking out a mortgage and giving up the nest egg he’d saved. He’d spent his childhood being poor, he loathed the thought of borrowing money. He wanted to be debt free. So, he stuck to logging.

Now it was a Friday in late February, it was time to get his raspberry field in order for the coming growing season.

 “Timber,” yelled Roy as he leaped from his springboard.

Together he and his falling partner, Gus, watched as a tree let out one last groan, creak, and snap before it fell in a thunderous roar. It had taken them all day to topple the immense tree, but together they had gotten it done.

Gus tugged on his end of their twelve-foot crosscut saw, “bet the lumber from that one is enough to build an entire house.”

“You’re probably right,” nodded Roy. “What do you say we take this saw over to the dentist shack and head for camp.”

On the way Roy, chuckled to himself as he remembered his first day logging. He’d thought the dentist shack meant a real dentist, not someone who sharpened the blades on their saws. It hadn’t taken him long to learn that loggers had a language all their own. Now he now spoke it as well as any of them.

At the shack, he and Gus heaved the saw onto the counter. Come Monday morning its teeth would once again be razor sharp, like a hungry piranha ready to munch way its way through any tree it encountered.

“You still fixing to go home tonight?” asked Gus, as they headed for the crummy, a train car, which took the men to and from the bunkhouses to the woods.

“Can’t put if off any longer,” said Roy. “Sure you don’t want to come along and help me prune?”

Gus adjusted his spectacles. “I reckon I’ll stay put and rest. Give my regards to folks. Tell them again how much I appreciated spending the holidays with them. Sure made this orphan feel less lonesome.”

“Guess, I’d rest too, if I could,” said Roy, as the crummy jerked to a stop near the bunkhouses. “I’d better hurry if I’m going to catch the last train into town tonight.”

At the bunkhouse he washed and changed into clean clothes. Finished, he glanced at his pocket watch.

“Time for me to go,” he said to Gus. “See you Sunday night.”

The next morning Roy awakened to sun streaming through the bedroom window of his parent’s house. One eye cocked open, he squinted at the clock. “6:30 already,” he mumbled, “I’d better get a move on, I meant to be up earlier.”

He donned a clean pair of overhauls and a plaid shirt and ventured downstairs to the kitchen where his mother poured him a cup of coffee and set it on the table. “It’s nice to have you home. I miss the days when all my boys lived here. Your father is already off making deliveries. He said to tell you he left the pruning shears you need on the back porch.”

“Thanks,” said Roy, sitting down to drink the coffee. “I should’ve been off earlier, too. I really hadn’t meant to sleep so long.”

His mother buttered a piece of bread. “Did I tell you new folks have moved into the rental next door.”

“No, Tell me more.”

His mother swallowed, “They’re the nicest family, I hope they stay. They’re some relation to your friend Justin Phillips and the Henry’s. The last folks barely moved in and they left.”

“You, don’t say.” Roy gulped his coffee and scooted his chair back. “Sorry I can’t dawdle over a breakfast. I’ve got a lot of work to do before I head back to Nagrom tomorrow.”

He grabbed his jacket and hat and opened the back door. “See you at supper.”

He hunkered his chin down inside his jacket to ward off the morning chill, as he headed toward his berry field. The morning sun had risen above the foothills surrounding the valley, bathing them in a pale pink. High above rose the majestic peak of Mt. Rainer.

Roy stood at the head of his field and gazed at the view. Today Mt. Rainer looked as though it was holding court over the entire valley. I’ll never tire of this view, he thought. Sure beats flat, dusty Oklahoma. I can’t believe it’s been 11 years since we left there. Mother and Father are right, time flies. I best stop my gawking and get to work though, or I’ll never get done. 

Several hours later, engrossed in his work, a voice startled him.

“Hello, you must be one of the Caple’s sons.”

 Roy looked up from where he knelt on the ground. A tall, bald-headed man extended his hand to shake. “Name’s Alex, Phillips. And which son might you be?”

“I’m Roy, the middle son. Mother mentioned you’d move next door. She said you’re related you to my friend Justin.”

“He’s my nephew. My brother John, his dad, lives across the Narrows in Tacoma. I have a brother Herbert and Hue here in town, though.”

Roy set his pruner down. “I’m acquainted with both of them. Mother mentioned you’re also related to the Henry’s.”

Alex nodded, “We’re shirt-tail relatives. And I have two daughters and a son. Hazel, my middle one goes to school with your sister, Lida. And I mustn’t forget my wife, Mattie. Speaking of her, I’d better scoot on home or she’ll have me in the doghouse. Hope to see you again soon.”

“Might be awhile,” said Roy, “nowadays I spend more time in logging camps than home.”

He seems nice enough thought Roy as he got back to work. When the sun dropped low in the western sky, he stopped and surveyed what his work. Content with what he’d accomplished, he picked up his tools and headed for home. As he approached the house, he noticed his sister Lida stood in front with a knot of people.

He took his hat off as he passed them and bade them a “good-day.”

Lida ran over and tugged on his arm, “Wait, I want to introduce you to our new neighbors.”

She held onto his hand and led him back to the group. “This is my brother Roy.”

She pointed to a dark-haired girl with an enormous bow pinned in back. “This is Hazel, she goes to school with me.”

A freckle faced red-headed boy peeked out from behind her.

“That’s Daniel,” Lida said, “he’s kind of shy and eight.”

 She pointed to a tall, young woman on her right. “And this is their big sister.”

Roy found he couldn’t take his eyes off of her. Something about her dark hair and eyes the color of melted chocolate captivated him.

 She put her hand out to shake. “How do you do, I’m Mae.”

He reached out to take her hand, then noticed how filthy his was. Swiftly he dropped it to his side. “I’m sorry I’m really not dressed for socializing. I’ve spent the day working in my raspberry field.”

She smiled at him, revealing enchanting dimples. “It’s okay, it’s nice to meet you just the same.”

 He waved his hand goodbye, “Nice to meet you, too.”

Great, he thought. Some impression I must have made in these mucky clothes. He opened the back door and stepped into the kitchen.

His Mother looked up from something she stirred on the stove. “Roy, take those muddy boots off before you take another step.”

“Sorry, Mother, I forgot I wasn’t at camp.”

He balanced on one leg and the other and shook off his boots. He headed to the sink to wash. The delicious smell of cooking vegetables and beef filled the air. “Mmm, something smells wonderful,” he said as he grabbed a bar of handmade soap and lathered his hands. “What’s for dinner?”

“Beef stew,” she said, “and because I know how much you love them – biscuits. You’ve just enough time to change into clean clothes before it’s done.”

Roy chuckled. “They aren’t that bad, are they? But I’ll change.”

“Please do,” she said, swatting the air behind him. “And don’t you get smart with me.”

Upstairs, he slid his feet into a clean pair of trousers and thought about the girl he’d just met. I sure wish I weren’t headed back to Nagrom tomorrow; I think I’d like to get to know her.

Monday afternoon found Roy and Gus standing on springboards falling another tree. Hitting a patch of sap, they stopped to clean their saw.

Gus grabbed the bottle of oil they always kept handy. While he cleaned his side of the saw, he said, “You aren’t very talkative today. I’ve barely heard a word out of you since you got back last night. You’ve got a dreamy, faraway look in your eye. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear you’d met a girl.”

“I have,” said Roy, reaching for the oil to clean his side of the saw.

“What!” said Gus, “Are you serious?”

“I am, and I’ll be darned if I can’t get her out of my mind.”

“Tell me about her, is she a looker?”

Roy let out a whistle, “I’d say so, tallish, slender, dark hair and the most enchanting brown eyes. Trouble is, I met her while I had my muddy work clothes on, I don’t thing I made much of an impression.”

“I wouldn’t worry about it,” said Gus. “Surely she’s seen men in work clothes before. Did you talk to her much, how old is she?”

“Well, really we didn’t talk, just a glad to meet you. As far as age goes, I’d say twenty.”

“Will you see her again?”

“I spect so her family moved into the vacant house next door.”

Gus gave his side of the saw a pull, “Sounds to me like you and I need to plan an outing to Puyallup soon.”

Roy gave his side of the saw a push. “Mother’s birthday is next month maybe I will go then.”


Chapter 11-The Life And Times of William Roy Caple-The Wild West Show

Roy and his dad joined the throng headed for the show grounds. Several thousand folks decked out in their best dresses and suits roamed about the many tents set up outside the main arena.

They joined a group in front of a shooting demonstration. The sharpshooter lit a 12-candle candelabra. He set it on a gentleman’s head. Bang, out went a candle flame, bang out went the next and next until all were blown out.

 The crowd clapped and cheered at the end of the demo. “Don’t forget folks, you’ll see much more if you get a ticket for the main event,” said the sharpshooter.

Roy touched his father’s elbow, “What do you say, we head over to the main arena and get our seats?

iHis His father walking in front of him said, “that’s splendid idea.”

They joined the long line that snaked around the main arena. The line moved quickly and soon a, a man took their tickets, “Enjoy the show and stick around afterwards for more side shows.”

“Will do, “said Roy as he gave the ticket taker a brief wave.

The soft sound of mini booms accompanied by the buttery sweet smell of popcorn filled the air. Roy’s dad sniffed. “That smells mighty good. What you say I spring for a couple of bags.”

Roy rubbed his stomach. “Thought lunch stuffed me, but who can resist that smell.”

“Two popcorns,” said his dad to the man working the popping machine.

The man handed them each a bag, “That will be 20 cents.”  

Roy’s father handed him two dimes. Popcorn in hand, they headed for the crowded grandstand. They found their seats in the front row of wooden bleachers.

Roy leaned toward his dad, “whoa aren’t these dandy seats.”

His Dad nodded in agreement as they settled themselves.

Roy grabbed a handful of popcorn and munched as he watched all the stagehands scramble to get things set up. “Hard to believe how much stuff they bring in for one of these shows, isn’t it?”

“Yep, I read in the paper this morning, it took 48 train cars”

“Forty-eight,” repeated Roy, “that’s a lot.”

The two men grew quiet as they munched on their popcorn. Marching music filled the air as a voice over the loudspeaker announced, “Ladies and Gentlemen may I present Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders.”

The crowd stood and roared. “Ladies and Gentlemen please, be seated,” blared the loudspeaker as Buffalo Bill sitting tall upon his horse entered the arena.

He wore his trademarked fringed leather jacket, work gloves, felt hat and in one handheld his shotgun. The crowd let out a deafening roar as he took off his hat, held it high and circled the arena.

Roy yelled over the roar of the crowd. “I can’t believe it I am looking in person at the most famous in all the world.”

Roy’s dad leaned over closer to Roy’s ear. “When I knew him, he wasn’t famous or gray, guess I wasn’t either,” he laughed.

Buffalo Bill put his hat back on.

The loudspeaker blared, “May I present the Congress of Rough riders.”

The clipped clop of horse hooves filled the air as riders from all corners of the world filled the arena, Russian Cossacks, mounted troops from Germany, Mexicans, Spaniard, Filipinos, Cowboys, and Chief Sitting Bull with the Sioux warriors in full headdress.

Roy’s dad yelled over the crowds cheering, “And I thought I could ride, they put me to shame.”

He had never seen such an extravaganza, he, and his dad along with the rest of the crowd, sat transfixed as one incredible act followed another.

 Buffalo stampeded across the field as a buffalo hunt was reenacted.

His dad leaned over; “I heard about those buffalo hunts but never experienced one myself.”

They both stood to cheer and applauded with the rest of the crowd when the Deadwood stagecoach raced onto the field followed by blood thirsty whoops and holler of Indians in hot pursuit. Other acts featured Indians dressed in the native costumes and feather headdresses preformed some of their native dances. Riders on horseback showed off their riding skills and sharp shooters their shooting skills. Roy sat breathless as cowboys sat astride horses that did their best to buck them off, and other showed of their skills as they lassoed cattle and horses.

Roy nudged his dad, “I certainly never mastered those skills when we lived in Oklahoma, but Milo wasn’t bad at it.”

“I reckon so,” said his dad. “That would’ve been something if he had gone to work for Cody. Don’t suppose he’d ever want too though.”

The reenactment of Custer’s last stand interrupted their conversation. The crowd went wild and Roy found he needed to sit and catch his breath after all the cheering he did. Only to have his heart race again when finale started. An Indian attack on a settler’s cabin.

As the announcer announced the end of the show, Roy put his bowler hat back upon his head. “That was quite the show. What did you think Dad?”

“I’d say Cody found his niche in life, all right. Thanks for bringing me, son. I never believed I could enjoy it so much.”

“They exited the Arena. Roy waved toward the tents set up around the grounds. Let’s take in a few more side shows before we head home.”

They watched some Indians show off some of their dancing. Their bodies rose and dropped up and down with the beat of the drum. The bronco bucking and sharpshooting acts reminded Roy he would never have made a good cowboy.

After viewing the elephants his dad said, “I reckon it’s time we called it a day.”

They walked past a row of performer’s tents toward the exit. A voice said, “If it isn’t Sam Caple. It’s been years since I saw you.”

His father stepped toward the nearest tent. “Why, Bill, I am surprised you recognized me, it’s indeed been years.”

Oh my God, thought Roy, It’s Buffalo Bill himself. Dad wasn’t telling a tale; he really knew him.

He heard Buffalo Bill say. “I’d recognize those blue eyes of yours anywhere. So, are you living here, now?” 

“Sure do,” said his dad, “Well, actually next door in the town of Puyallup.”

 He motioned for Roy to come closer. “This is my son, Roy. “

Cody reached out his hand to shake, “Glad to meet you. Your Pa and I go way back to our scouting and freighting days.”

Roy gulped, what did one say to someone so famous. “Nice, nice to meet you, sir,” he stammered.

A man came to Cody’s side. He whispered something in his ear, Cody nodded and turned back to them, “I’d love to reminisce with you but I have some affairs to attend to.”

 He leaned over and shook his dad’s hand. “Sam, it was nice seeing you after all these years. Take care,” and he turned and disappeared into his tent.

  


Author’s Notes:

Details for the Wild West show came from watching clips of the show on You Tube. My grandfather often mentioned going to see this show with his dad and how surprised he was when after the show Cody recognized his dad calling him by name. The Puyallup newspaper has an interview with his dad shortly after Cody passed away where he tells of their freighting days when he knew him. Another newspaper article in Kansas mentioned Milo’s prowess as a cowboy.

Chapter 10-The Life and Times of William Roy Caple, 1910

Roy stood on the corner of Meridian and Pioneer and watched cars weave in and around the horse driven wagons going down the street. In 1907 Doc Kushner had brought the first car to Puyallup, and now three years later everyone seemed to be yearning for a car. If he hadn’t spent more time in a logging camps than town, he’d be tempted, too. He turned to the building looming above him. Plastered on the side of its wall was a huge advertisement. “Buffalo Bill Cody Wild West show, coming soon to Tacoma, Washington, September 16, 1910.”

Roy ran his fingers across his thick, black mustache. How many times had he heard his dad brag, “I knew Cody back in the day before he was famous, when we both freighted between the forts in Kansas.” Though it had been long before he was born, Roy had never quite believed the story. He’d probably worked in the same area as Cody all right but he suspected he only knew him from afar.

 Just then, his friend Jimmy Phillips startled him with a tap on the back. “Surprised to see you here, what brings what brings you to town?” 

“Just taking a short break from logging. I got bruised pretty good by some falling branches the other day and decided a few days of rest were in order. I’ll be back at camp soon enough.”

Jimmy waved at poster behind Roy’s back, “what I’d give to go to that Wild West show.” 

“I’d love to go too,” said Roy.

“Well, I definitely can’t afford it right now.” said Jimmy. “Between your logging and berry fields you must have some money saved up. You certainly aren’t one to drink and gamble it away. I bet you could swing it. I’d like to talk longer but I have an appointment to make. Stop by the house if going to be around a few more days. Maybe we can do a little fishing before you go back to camp.”

Roy watched his friend cross the street and pondered. I’m not one to spend money foolishly, but I do have a nice nest egg saved up. Seeing that Wild West show would sure be something. But do I really want to spend the money? I’d have to stay here in Puyallup a couple of extra days, but I bet Dad would get a kick out of going with me. We don’t get a chance to spend time together much anymore. We could just go and partake in the parade and free parts of the show. No if I’m going to do it, I should take in the whole show. Maybe I should make sure Dad is free first.  Oh heck, if I don’t get the tickets now I never will. I’ll take Lida if Dad can’t go. She would love going, too.

 Throwing caution to the wind, he strode into the drug store.

“May I help you,” said the pretty young woman at the counter.

“Yes, I’d like two tickets to Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.”

“Certainly, she said, and will there be anything else. “No, thanks” said Roy, “just the tickets will be fine.”

“All Right, that will be two dollars.”

Roy took out his worn, leather wallet from his back pocket and handed the woman two green backs.

 She handed him the tickets, “Enjoy the show. I wish I could afford to go.”

“I probably shouldn’t splurge either,” he said, “but I want to do something special for my dad, I’m taking him.”

At home that evening, he pulled the two tickets out of his wallet and waved them in front of his dad’s face. “Look what I bought? How would you like to go with me on the 16th?”

His Dad’s eyes widened, “Those set you back a bit. I’d love to go. Why I remember how Cody and I ran freight back in Kansas like it was yesterday. He was quite the performer, even then.”

“Great,” said Roy. “What you say you and I make a whole day of it.”

“Sounds like plan to me,” nodded his father.

The morning of September 16, 1910 dawned bright and sunny, both men dressed in their Sunday best.

Roy’s Mother handed them both their bowler hats at the front door and waved them goodbye. “Have a wonderful time.”

 They caught the electric train into Tacoma and joined the throngs of people all decked in their finest suits and dresses to watch for Cody’s arrival.

Clip- clop, clip-clop down the street appeared two fine white horses drawing a carriage where Buffalo Bill himself sat. The throngs cheered. Behind him trailed Cossacks, Indians, Mexican Spaniards, Filipinos, cowboys, the famous Roosevelt Rough Riders all dressed to the hilt and interspersed with bands.

When the last of them disappeared into the distance. Roy turned to his dad, “what you say we get ourselves an early lunch and then head over to the event grounds in plenty of time for the 2:00 show.”

His dad tipped his head, “Sounds good to me. I wouldn’t mind getting a load off my feet for a bit how about we try a meal across the street in that Jap restaurant. Since you bought the tickets, lunch is on me.”

Roy stepped off the curb. “Deal.”

The two men negotiated their way past the cars, buggies and throngs of people and crossed to the other side of the street.

They found a table inside the restaurant and sat down.

A man came and filled their glasses with water.” What can I get you?”

Roy scanned the menu, “I’ll take the number 3.”

His Dad lifted his eyes from the menu, “make mine the same.”

The waiter bowed his head, “two number 3’s coming right up.” And he walked away.

His father leaned into the table. “He speaks pretty good English, don’t you think?”

 “Yes,” said Roy, “I imagine he was born here and not Japan.”

“Getting to be a lot of them farming in the valley,” said his dad. “Wasn’t that parade something else. Never saw so many interesting folks or animals in my life.”

“Sure was,” said Roy. “Cody is quite a show man. His fancy carriage even had a footman.”

“Yep,” said his dad, “It sure wasn’t that way back when I first knew him, he drove an ordinary freighting wagon.”

Roy was glad the arrival of food interrupted his dad’s story. He’d heard enough of his freighting stories with Cody to last a lifetime.

The two men dug into their food. Roy thought the rice tasted particularly good. He wasn’t something he partook in often. Meat, plenty of potatoes and bread were the mainstays of logging camp food.

When they finished, their waiter returned with the check. His Dad took out his wallet and paid the sum then he pushed back his chair, “I reckon we should mosey over to show grounds. Don’t want to miss anything.”


 


 Author’s notes:

My grandfather often talked about how his father had worked with Cody freighting in Kansas and their visit to the Wild West show when it had come to Tacoma. He said he was so surprised when Cody recognized his Dad. There is a Puyallup newspaper article written after Cody died where Sam is interviewed and said the same thing. An archivist at the Cody museum in Wyoming told me that for my grandfather getting to meet Cody would be much like meeting the most famous person of today.

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.

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.

Chapter 6: THE Life And Times of William Roy Caple- Move to Washington

Twelve days after Lida’s birthday the train Roy’s family rode eased into another station with a puff of smoke and moan like an old lady rising from rocking chair.

Roy frowned at his dad and brother Joe said, “Not another stop, at this rate we’ll never get to Washington.”

Going over to the cattle car door Joe eased it back a crack to let in some air. He mopped the sweat from his brow. Man is it ever hot. At least when we’re moving, the air circulates through the louvered sides. What I wouldn’t give to be in the comfort of coach with Mother, Richard and Lida.”

Their dad rose from the bench where he sat. “Those cars get hot, too. Sure, miss seeing my little girl’s smiling face, though. I bet you 2 bits to a dollar right now your mother is fit to be tied trying to keep that wiggly angel contained to her seat.”

He motioned for both boys to stay back and opened the cattle car’s door and gazed out. “This stop is where they change crew and service the engine. We will be here a while. Say if I don’t spot a Harvey House.  Reckon I’ll hop off and see if I can’t scare up some grub for the three of us and maybe catch sight of your mother letting our little Lida stretch her legs. Remember to stay out of view, I can’t afford to buy you boys a ticket.”

 As his dad strode off Roy and Joe stared out at the station. Mounds of luggage sat heaped on the loading platform, waiting to be loaded into the baggage cars. Two Harvey girls dressed in black dresses and voluminous white aprons hurried toward the restaurant.

Joe stared at their attractive young faces. “They sure know how to choose lookers. Sure, wish you and I were the one getting off. I’d love to talk to one of those pretty girls.”

Roy took a deep breath and plugged his nose. “This place smells worse than an outhouse. I reckon the smell coming off us is none to pleasant. They’d run the other way if we came near them.”

Joe laughed, “Spose your right, guess I’ll go take a snooze in the hay until Dad returns with something to eat. With all the stopping and starting this train does at night. I haven’t slept well.”

Roy joined Tango his horse in her stall. He handed her a carrot and patted her side. “I know the all the jostling of the train is hard on you. We aren’t going to move for a spell, so why don’t you take a snooze too.”

  He reached for his ruck sack stashed in the corner of the stall and pulled out his copy of American Family Robinson.

“I’m just going to curl up here and read another chapter. It’s kind of a fantastic story, but it does make for good reading. Thought I’d have finished it by now but reading while in motion kind of makes me seasick.”

As he finished Chapter 11, he heard the cattle car door creak open.

  His dad set a box on the floor and hoisted himself inside, “I’ve come bearing food.”

Roy left the pioneer family and Indian chief deep in some prehistoric cave. He put the book back in his rucksack and joined his brother and dad beside the box. An unbelievably good smell permeated the air. Roy’s mouth watered, “tell me that’s chicken I smell.”

“Indeed, it is, and biscuits almost as good as your mother’s.”

Roy bit into a chicken leg and groaned. “I think I must be in heaven.”

 “Also bought you some cherry pie to top that off with, said his dad.” Saw your mother, Richard, and of course your sister. We were able to enjoy a meal together, and then I took little sis outside to let her run off some of her energy. Hopefully, it was enough to give your mother a little rest. And of course, she sent you, her love.”

Roy clomped some Jam on a biscuit as the train jerked.

  “Feels like we are on the roll again,” said Joe.

His father nodded. “The more we roll, the sooner we get to Cheney. Our next stop should be just after dark. It will be harder to spot you so you can get off and stretch your legs a bit.”

He took a blue paisley scarf from around his neck and wiped the sweat trickling off his forehead.  “Not to mention it’ll be cooler.”

Two days later the train blew its horn and as it screeched to a stop. The sign above the depot said Cheney.  Out on the platform, people scurried about ready to greet folks’ disembarking while others readied themselves to board.  Wagons waited on the nearby streets to take folks to their destinations.

Roy spotted his mother, Lida, and Richard standing in front of the station, waiting for them to have their turn to unload the wagon and horses from the cattle car. Once off, they planned to take their wagon and horses to the public corral and spend the night at the home of a friend, his mother had made when they had lived here before.

Roy wondered how long it would take for them to find a home of their own. Would this be the place he’d make his forever home?



Authors notes:

The book Roy is reading is in my possession and bears his name and word Caple, Oklahoma.  It is considered the fore runner of today’s science fiction novels. The book was printed in 1853. The copy my grandfather had was a boys book club edtioin from the 1880’s.

My grandfather often spoke of this trip and how hot it was inside the  cattle car. He said he and Joe were allowed off on stops after dark to stretch their legs. One stop was beside and orange grove. He said they picked some of the oranges and they were delicious.

Chapter 5- The Life and Times of William Roy Caple- Lida has a birthday

     After breakfast on June 1st, 1900, Roy scooped up his sister Lida from her highchair. He kissed her on the cheek. “Happy birthday, my dear little sister. Can you tell me how old you are?”

     Lida held up one finger.

     Roy laughed and held up one of his own fingers, “Yes, you are one today.”

     His mother turned from the batter she was beating in a big blue bowl. She motioned to Richard and Roy. “Before you boys run off, I want you to move the table out into the yard. Looks like it’s going to be a good day for a picnic.”

     Roy set Lida down and handed her a rag doll. He motioned toward his mother, “best leave her alone until she gets your cake in the oven.”

     His mother tipped the mixing bowl and poured the batter into the round baking pans. “I’m making our dear little Lida a chocolate cake. And I will not have your clomping feet make my cake fall, so off with the table and stay out.”

    “She sure is going to a lot of bother,” said Richard said as the two shuffled the table out the door and into the yard, “for a birthday Little sis won’t even remember.”

     “Your right,” said Roy, “but we are the ones benefiting from good eats tonight, so I’m not complaining.” He rubbed his stomach, “there’s no meal I love better than Mother’s fried chicken, biscuits mashed potatoes and gravy. Besides, with our leaving soon, might be the last time we get to enjoy such a meal for a spell.”

     “What do you think it will be like in Washington state.” asked Richard. “Is it anything like here? I was born there, but I don’t remember it at all.”

    “I can’t recall much either” Roy answered, “except  Cheney is  kind of dry like here. I remember living in Puyallup a heap better. But until we moved here, we never stayed anywhere long.”

     “I don’t really remember any place but here,” said his brother. “I kind of wish we were staying. I will miss Milo.” 

     “I know but he is determined to see to his homestead claim through to the end. For once I have to agree with father, this place doesn’t have much to offer anymore. Might be different if Sammy lived and Uncle Will was still alive. The whole family could have gone into the cattle ranching business like they talked about. I just hope we don’t start moving from place to place again like we used to. I am ready to put roots down, except not here. It’s just too hard to eke out a living. Someday I hope to marry and have a family of my own, and I want them to have one place to call home.”

     Roy’s mother hollered from the doorway, “would you entertain your sister outside for a spell. I’m not able to get anything done with her underfoot.”

    Roy went to the doorway and took his sister in his arms. Come on Lida, let’s get a carrot. “I let you feed Tango.” 

    “Hosy,” said Lida.

     “Horse,” said Roy,” but I guess for one hosy is good enough.”

     Roy couldn’t help but have a soft spot in his heart for his baby sister. I mean, who wouldn’t with her dark curls and sparkling, brown eyes. His family had been so sad after his brother Sammy had died; she’d been like a breath of fresh air. She was the one who could make his mother and father smile whenever their thoughts went to the ones they’d lost. All she’d have to do was reach her chubby, arms out for a hug to put a smile back on all their faces. She’d been a life safer for the whole family.

     Out in the barn, he handed his sister a carrot and held her up to Tango so she could feed him. He let her sit a spell on his back before put her back down.

     “I’ve got more chores to do let’s go find Richard, I bet he’ll swing with you in the orchard.”

     He was throwing fresh hay down for the animals when his father and brother Joe returned with the wagon from their trip to Hardesty.

     His Dad jumped down and handed the reins to Roy, “I got everything squared away for our move west. I’ve got a cattle car reserved for our horses and wagon. You and Joe will ride with me in it to tend to the animals.”

     Roy frowned as he started to unhitch the horses from the wagon. Riding in a cattle car did not sound enjoyable.

     “What about Mother, Lida, and Richard?”

     “They’ll be riding coach,” said his father. “Technically the railroad only allows one person to ride in cattle cars to tend the stock. I figure since I’ll have the whole car to myself I can get away with having you two in there. Wouldn’t do to have your mother and Lida in there and Richard is young enough to ride at reduced fare, he can help your mother out.”

     He helped Roy put the harnesses away and led the horses to the corral, then strode toward the house, “Going inside to let your mother know we leave in 10 days.”

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Author’s notes: Information on this move came from my grandfather’s stories.

Photo is of Samuel Hugh Cape

Chapter 4- The Life and Times of William Roy Caple

Roy’s mother Margaret Melinda Ragsdale Caple

     Two weeks later, on June 1, 1899, Roy’s Aunt Susan woke the boys early. Three days ago she’d come to help his mother until the baby came.

    “Your new brother or sister is on its way. Your Dad left to fetch the midwife. You boys dress quick while I put breakfast on the table.”

     Roy pulled on a cotton checked shirt and over all’s. He had just sat down to eat when his dad sat down to eat returned with the midwife.

     Seeing Roy and his brothers eating, she said, “They should be outside.” Then she went over to the bed where his mother laid.

     The last of his tinned peaches had barely slid down his throat when his aunt scooped up his bowl, “Out!”

She herded him, his brothers and father over to the door. “Let us women do our work. I’ll call you after the baby arrives until then stay outside.”

     Out in the barn, they started their morning chores. Richard scooped up oats for the horses, “How long do you reckon it will be until the baby gets here?”

     Over the whiz of milk, hitting a bucket, his father said, ” It can take quite a while. Reckon it could be suppertime before we get the call.”

     Finished with the milking his father said, “Richard and Roy, you finish up the barn chores. Joe, I want you to ride over and help Milo with the fence mending. I won’t be going today.”

     He picked up the two pails of milk and headed to the house. A few minutes later he came out into the yard and began to pace.

     Roy knew little about the birthing of babies, he knew it could be dangerous. He remembered hearing the whispers of the womenfolk when Mrs. Manning had died. Mr. Manning hadn’t been able to care for the baby or their other children. He’d heard the kids were now living in Kansas with their grandparents.

   No, he refused to think that way. Hadn’t his mother already born six of them without a problem. Why should this time be different? What would become of him and his brothers without his mother? His father at 54 found keeping up with the ranch chores increasingly difficult, he’d never manage without his mother’s help, especially now that they didn’t have Sammy’s help anymore. How would any of them manage? He’d probably have to quit school and work full time around the ranch.

    Last week, his dad and uncle had ridden off to Guymon to make the final proof on their claim since the required 5 years had passed. Soon the land would be theirs. When he returned, he began talking of selling the place and moving elsewhere.

     “Too many sad memories, here now that Sammy’s gone.” He hitched his leg over his other knee, “seems like now would be a good time to sell.”

     To Roy’s surprise, his mother nodded. “Maybe you are right. Once this baby gets here and has some time to grow, I’d love to move back near my kin in Missouri. I know they’d welcome us and help you start a new teamster business. We could buy us a little farm for our personal needs.”

   When his pitchfork shoveling the hay hit the creaking barn floor Roy set it in the corner and sent over to went over to his horse’s stall.” Hey, Tango, how’s it going?”

    The horse stuck his head over the gate. His nuzzled his nose checking Roy’s shirt pocket for carrots. Finding nothing, he rested his chin on Roy’s shoulder.

     “Sorry, I have nothing for you. Maybe later,” he told the horse. He picked up a brush and combed the course dry hair of her mane.

  Roy winced when heard muffled groans coming from the house.

     “Guess you know the baby’s on its way. Sure, takes a long time, don’t it?”

     He nodded toward the doorway where Roy’s father paced. “Reckon he’s going to dig a trench if he keeps going back and forth like that. Richard’s weeding Mother’s garden, so it’s just me and you.”

     He pulled the brush through the tangles of the horse’s mane.” I think father’s worried. Heck, I’m worried, sure wish Sammy were here. He always could take my mind off bad things.”

     His stomach growled. “I had little time to eat breakfast this morning. Don’t suppose it would do me much good to complain. Too bad it isn’t later in the year. I could pluck us a carrot out of the garden or an apple from the tree.”

     A voice pierced the air. “Sam!”

     Roy hurried out of the barn in time to see his father enter the house. He crossed his fingers. Please let him reappear with good news.

     His brother Richard left the garden where he’d been weeding. “Is the baby here, is it here now,” he yelled into Roy’s ear. “Should we go in and see.”

     Roy looked at his brother’s dirt crusted hands and then his own. “I reckon we should wait a bit. Let’s go wash up at the pump. I don’t expect they’d let us in with these filthy hands.”

     Richard stared at his hands and laughed. “You’re right, mother would never let me in with muddy paws like this.”

    They went back inside the barn after they washed and practiced spinning circles with their ropes. Roy was practicing his lasso when their father entered the barn smiling from ear to ear. Roy sighed in relief. A smile that big could only mean good news.

       “It’s a girl. Mother and baby are doing just fine. Go on inside and meet your new sister, she’s a beauty.”

 He grabbed the saddle for his horse. “I’m riding out to let Milo and Joe know. Let your mother I’ll be right back.”

     Roy and Richard left the barn. In the doorway of their soddy stood the midwife. When she saw them, she called, “If it isn’t the two big brothers, come meet your new sister.”

     Roy slipped into the Soddy; his mother still laid in the bed over in the corner. She looked asleep as he and Richard tiptoed her side.

 His Mother’s eyes fluttered open. They looked tired, but the sad worn look of the past two weeks had disappeared.

      “Boys,” she motioned them to the swaddled bundle next to her, “meet your new sister. We’ve named her Lida Lenora. Isn’t she the most beautiful thing you’ve ever saw?”

      Roy looked at the tiny red, scrunched-up face above which sat a shock of dark hair. A beauty wasn’t the words he’d used to describe her, but he knew better than to say that. So he just stared at her. The baby opened her eyes. She turned her head and gazed into his, as if to say welcome. It was instant love; he knew he’d do anything to protect her as she grew up.