Tag Archives: Puyallup

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

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

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

“Busy,” said Roy. “How about yours?”

“Oh, you know the usual housekeeping chores.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes, is it a stroke?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Different things like that got them by.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What’s happened?”

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

“What,” stammered Roy.

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

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

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

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

Lida Caple Mckay circa 1916

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Author’s notes:

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

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

Chapter 20 -The Life and Times of William Roy Caple- The Birth of a Child

In early December Roy had the house finished enough for them to move in to before the arrival of the baby. He finally had a place to settle. It was a two-story house with one bedroom downstairs. He’d finish the two bedrooms and bathroom upstairs later. Besides, sewer lines had still not come to their street, so they’d have to rely on the little house back until it did. Mae couldn’t get over the roomy kitchen where he made the counters just right for her 5’ 6’ height. He’d built and painted the cupboards a creamy white.

“Oh, Roy,” said Mae the first time she saw it completed. “It’s even better than my dreams.”  

In the large dining room, he’d built a plate rail for Mae to display her prettiest plates. He also built her glass china closet for the fine china.

Mae opened the cabinet door. “At last, a place to display our wedding china.”

 A long window seat sat in front of two big windows that looked out into the yard.

He showed her the hidden storage he had built under the seat. “I thought you could put seldom used items here.”

From the sears catalog, they selected a large table and chairs to sit in front of it.

 At the other end of the room, he’d built in a sideboard with two drawers at the bottom to keep their linens. And they purchased another Walnut sideboard to sit in front of the window that overlooked the back porch and yard.

For months now he had admired a house near the Scott Hotel with a big cobblestone porch. Every time he and Mae walked past; they admired it.

“One of those would look great as our front porch.” He put his arms around Mae, “Can’t you see us relaxing in wicker chairs as the sun goes down.”

“I’d love it,” said Mae, “do you think you could do it?”

“Yes, I believe I can.”

She leaned into him, “Sounds heavenly, maybe make one a rocker to lull our babe asleep.”

For now, some wooden steps up to the front door would suffice. It was a project to save for later, after the baby arrived and he’d had time to finish the upstairs rooms.

In the early hours of December 17th, 1918, Mae roused Roy from his sleep.

“It’s time’ “she said, “I think today is the day our baby arrives.”

 He hurried to dress and went next door to fetch his mother to stay with Mae while he summoned the doctor.

Once the doctor arrived, his mother banished him next door.

“Go on now,” she said as she pushed him out the door. “Go keep your dad company. I will call you as soon as the baby arrives.”

Most of the day Roy paced outside on his parents’ big porch despite the cold December air. From time to time his dad would come out and join him.

“Relax son,” said his dad, “she’ll be fine, your mother birthed seven of you with nary a problem.”   

It seemed an eternity until his mother stepped outside the door. He could tell by the big smile on her face that all was well.He reached his front yard just as the doctor emerged from the door. “Congratulations, Mr. Caple, Mother, and baby are doing fine. Sorry I’m in a hurry, I have another call to make.”

Roy stepped inside the house and opened the door of their bedroom. An exhausted but ecstatic looking Mae held a tiny bundle. She smiled up at him, “It’s girl.”

She opened the blanket to show off the baby. Such perfection he’d never saw. Ten little toes and fingers, a tuft of black hair like her mother’s and blue eyes like his. His heart was overwhelmed, he never had felt such love before.

He leaned over and kissed Mae.

“You can hold her,” she said.

He took the baby into his arms. Such a precious little bundle.

He gazed down at the baby’s sweet face. “What should we name you?”

“How about Iva,” said Mae. “I love that name.”

“Iva,” repeated Roy. And Mae for her beautiful mother.”

The baby yawned and closed her eyes as if to say she liked it too.

The following year of 1919 was a busy, happy one. At the end of the war Roy lost his job in the shipyard but soon found work for a small logging company near Crocker and the Carbon River. He acquired a Model T to make the one-hour commute, enabling him to be home with his family each evening. When he had an extra few minutes, he’d stop along the river and fill two buckets with rocks the right size and shape to create the stone front porch. When spring arrived, they planted a cherry, four apple and pear trees. And he finished the upstairs bedrooms and bath.

In July his sister Lida and her husband George, still living with his parents, welcomed a baby girl they named Blanche into the world. Giving the two families even more reasons to enjoy each other’s company.

Mae’s grandparents along with her Aunt Sadie and her husband Bert Merchant came for an extended stay, renting a house nearby. They enjoyed showing them the local sights on the weekends

 When December arrived, Roy brought home a Christmas tree on little Iva’s first birthday. “Seems like her birthday is a good day to put up a tree.” It would become a yearly tradition.

 He hurried to dress and went next door to fetch his mother to stay with Mae while he summoned the doctor.

Once the doctor arrived, his mother banished him next door.

“Go on now,” she said as she pushed him out the door. “Go keep your dad company. I will call you as soon as the baby arrives.”

Most of the day Roy paced outside on his parents’ big porch despite the cold December air. From time to time his dad would come out and join him.

“Relax son,” said his dad, “she’ll be fine, your mother birthed seven of you with nary a problem.”   

It seemed an eternity until his mother stepped outside the door. He could tell by the big smile on her face that all was well.

He reached his front yard just as the doctor emerged from the door. “Congratulations, Mr. Caple, Mother, and baby are doing fine. Sorry I’m in a hurry, I have another call to make.”

Roy stepped inside the house and opened the door of their bedroom. An exhausted but ecstatic looking Mae held a tiny bundle. She smiled up at him, “It’s girl.”

She opened the blanket to show off the baby. Such perfection he’d never saw. Ten little toes and fingers, a tuft of black hair like her mother’s and blue eyes like his. His heart was overwhelmed, he never had felt such love before.

He leaned over and kissed Mae.

“You can hold her,” she said.

He took the baby into his arms. Such a precious little bundle.

“What should we name you?”  he said gazing down at the baby’s sweet face.

“How about Iva,” said Mae. “I love that name.”

“Iva,” repeated Roy. And Mae for her beautiful mother.”

The baby yawned and closed her eyes as if to say she liked it too.

The following year of 1919 was a busy, happy one. At the end of the war Roy lost his job in the shipyard but soon found work for a small logging company near Crocker and the Carbon River. He acquired a Model T to make the one-hour commute, enabling him to be home with his family each evening. When he had an extra few minutes, he’d stop along the river and fill two buckets with rocks the right size and shape to create the stone front porch. When spring arrived, they planted a cherry, four apple and pear trees. And he finished the upstairs bedrooms and bath.

In July his sister Lida and her husband George, still living with his parents, welcomed a baby girl they named Blanche into the world. Giving the two families even more reasons to enjoy each other’s company.

Mae’s grandparents along with her Aunt Sadie and her husband Bert Merchant came for an extended stay, renting a house nearby. They enjoyed showing them the local sights on the weekends.

 When December arrived, Roy brought home a Christmas tree on little Iva’s first birthday. “Seems like her birthday is a good day to put up a tree.”

It would become a yearly tradition.

After the birthday cake at his parents house Roy carried a sleeping Iva home. He and Mae tucked her into her crib. They wrapped their arms around each other and gazed down at her sweet face.

Mae said, “It’s hard to believe an entire year has gone by since she entered the world, isn’t it?

Roy kissed his wife. “Seems like yesterday, she’s growing too fast. Just think next year she’ll want to decorate that tree in the front room with us.”

Mae laughed. “More like she’ll be pulling all the tinsel off.”

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Author’s notes:

The description of the interior of the house comes from a piece my Aunt Iva wrote of her childhood home, which my dad agreed was just the way he remembered it.

We visited the house once or twice a year when I was growing up. I too remember the built-in cupboards in the dining room and the bench window seat with a big dining table in front.

My aunt told me they always went and got their Christmas tree on her birthday. A tradition she wasn’t overly fond of. She would have preferred the day be reserved for just her birthday.

Chapter 18 – The Life And Times Of William Roy Caple – Roy Marries -1917-1918

Roy and Mae picked a day for their wedding in mid August. Roy found a small house to rent. It contained a sitting room, kitchen, one bedroom and all the furniture  needed to start married life.

When Mae’s parents had brought her to Lead to take a look at it. She had thrown her arms around him. “Oh, Roy I love it. It’s a storybook house.”

 Her mother had nodded in agreement. “It’s a perfect starter home.”

Roy had hoped his parents and sister would come to witness the occasion. His mother had written back that she didn’t think his dad was up to the long train trip and Lida had upped and eloped at the end of May just before her eighteenth birthday. Neither the newlyweds nor his brothers could spare the cash to make the trip.

He and Mae decided to keep the ceremony small. Just some members of Mae’s family, able to attend a Wednesday wedding.

When the day of the wedding arrived Roy laid down his new dark suit, white shirt, and dark blue silk tie he’d purchased for the occasion on his bed and went downstairs for breakfast and to bid his fellow boarding companions goodbye. Afterwards donned in his suit he bade goodbye to Mrs. Olsen.

 “We’re going to miss your face at the dinner table tonight,” she said. “I wish you and that bride of yours all the best. And don’t forget to bring her around so I can meet her.”

“ Will do,”  said Roy as he bounded down the steps of his boarding house in a rush to catch the train to Belle Fourche and his bride. He couldn’t be late today of all days.

At a quarter of three he stood inside the vestibule of the Belle Fourche church with his best man and the minister. Butterflies danced in his stomach. Somewhere else in the church he knew his bride waited. Is she as nervous as I am?

 Out in the main church area he spotted his soon-to-be brother-in-law, thirteen-year-old Daniel, seating the guests.

At last, the moment came, an organ began to play music. The minister beckoned Roy and his best man to join him in front of the alter.

Mae’s sister walked down the aisle, and then came Mae looking more beautiful than ever before. She wore a long white dress which danced at the top of white ankle boots. The elbow length sleeves of her dress met long white gloves. Her slender waist was accented by a wide band above which revealed a  bodice trimmed with a white caplet. The heart necklace he’d given her on her birthday graced her throat and in her hands she carried a bouquet of white flowers.

At the altar they locked eyes on one and other.

“You look beautiful,” Roy whispered. And at last they began to exchange the words he’d waited so long for.

“Roy,” said the Minister, “Will you take Mae to be your wife to love and cherish until death to you part.”

 “I do.”

Mae handed her glove to her sister and he slipped an engraved gold band on her finger.

 She the repeated words and slipped a gold band on his finger.

“ I now pronounce you man and wife,” said the minister.

Arm and arm they made their way down the aisle where they were soon encircled by the family wishing them congratulations and well wishes.

The minister directed him over to the parish office to sign the register. Roy dipped the pen in the ink well and signed his legal name William Roy Caple upon the certificate. He handed the pen to Mae. Her her face radianting like the warm summer sun. She dipped the pen into the ink and signed Mae Edith Phillips, then passed the pen to her sister and the best man to sign as witnesses. Then the two of them returned to the church to have their formal wedding photo taken.

Outside they joined the group waiting and strolled the few blocks to the Phillips house where a celebratory dinner had been made. Afterwards they checked into the Belle Fourche Hotel to spend their first night as a married couple.

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Six months later, a blast of frigid air hit Roy’s face as he emerged from the homestead mine. What, he wondered, had happened to the warm start of the day? Why the thermometer on the front porch had registered sixty when he’d headed off to work. Now it felt cold enough to be zero.

He huddled his chin into his light jacket and hustled home.

Mae opened the front door as he reached for the handle. She threw her arms around him in a warm embrace. “Goodness, you must be half frozen to death. This morning felt like spring and now it’s winter again.”

He nuzzled himself inside her warm arms, “I didn’t take the time to notice the temperature before I came in. Did you look?”

“I did, it’s twenty. That’s South Dakota for you spring one minute and winter the next.”

He shivered, “I believe that’s the biggest temperature change I have witnessed, in all my life, in such a brief time. And here I thought I thought I’d relish a warm stroll in sun on the way home.”

Mae took one of his icy hands in her warm one and led him into the kitchen where a pot of soup bubbled on the stove.

 She put a blanket around his shoulders and poured him a cup of hot coffee. “This should warm you up.”

Roy greedily sipped the warm coffee as the warmth of it and the cook stove gradually unthawed him. He observed his wife as she stirred the pot of soup. She looked as beautiful today as the day they’d wed. Had it really been 6 months since that day? He glanced at the room; Mae had added touches to make it feel like home. A picture of her old homestead hung on the wall along side a photo of his parent’s house in Puyallup. Red gingham curtains framed the windows reminding him of the ones his mother had hung in their Oklahoma Soddy as did the big, braided rag rug under table. The only difference was here a crocheted lace cloth graced their table where they’d had a piece of old oil cloth instead.

He sniffed the air. “Something smells delicious.”

“I thought you’d need something to warm your innards tonight so I made potato and bacon soup and crusty wheat rolls.”

She ladled the soup into two bowls and placed them on the table along with a basket of hot rolls. Then she joined him.

Blowing on a spoonful she set it down. “It needs to cool to cool a bit. Just think, next March we’ll be in Puyallup. I doubt we’ll find it so cold there.”

Roy reached for a roll and slathered it with butter. “Warmer, but wet. Are you positive you’re okay with leaving your family.”

As much as he longed to return to Puyallup and leave the wretched gold mine behind, his wife needed to be content too. They’d talked of moving ever since they got engaged last May.

She got up to pour him some more coffee. “I’m positive. I can’t wait for you to build our dream home.”

He swallowed a spoonful of soup. “I’d feel better if this blasted war would end. There’s talking of upping the draft to include my age bracket. ”

Mae reached for another roll, “Surely it won’t come to that. And if it does, your parents would be next door to help if needed. I’d be fine, it’s you I’d worry about.”

Roy reached for another roll. “Are you sure you are okay with moving?”

“Roy, I will miss my family but I don’t like you working in that gold mine any more than you do. There is no future for us here. Besides, I have family in Puyallup. Maybe not Mama and Papa, but they’re family just the same. And your brother said he could you a job at the shipyards in Tacoma. You’re better suited for that work and it’s safer too.”

Roy looked into her determined eyes. “That settles it. What do you say we leave in May just after your birthday?”

She smiled, “That’s a splendid idea. We can throw a birthday-going party at the same time. She got up and went to the stove. “Let me refill your bowl. Stop worrying about taking me away from mama and papa. I’m not a kid anymore, I know moving to Puyallup is the right choice for us.”

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Author’s notes:

My grandfather often mentioned the sudden temperature drop he experience while working in the gold mine in Lead. He worked deep in the mine and was surprised when he emerged at the end of the day to find it well below freezing when it had been a warm spring morning when he had left for work. I chose to include it in here in this story.

I am not sure when they moved to Puyallup but a local South Dakota newspaper mentioned they had gone to visit Mae’s aunt Sadie in late april of 1918 most likely to say good-bye. By September when Roy had to register for the draft he is working in a Tacoma Shipyard. So it had to have been sometime in the late spring or summer of 1918.

Chapter 16- The Life and Times of William Roy Caple -Roy Moves to Wyoming

For the next 2 years Roy continued to write to his Wyoming girl. At the end of the 1914 logging season, he once again went to spend the winter break in Wyoming. He had been saddened when his parents had decided to move to Missouri to be close to his mother’s family. He considered moving with them but he liked Puyallup. Maybe he could buy his parent’s home, he thought. He was thankful when they decided to make the trip a visit rather than a permanent move.

His parents were getting older and particularly his father was showing his age. He preferred they lived close so he and his brothers could look after them. His brother Joe married at the end of 1914. Sometimes both his brothers joined him for a time in the logging camp. Their presence kept him from feeling lonely for family, especially when Richard was there as he would often serenade, he and Gus in   the evenings with his violin playing. He continued to care for his raspberry field. But at the end of the season in 1915 decided to let the field go. His dad could use the income selling the property would yield. Roy purchased the lot next to his parents house from his dad in hopes he could some day build his forever home on it.

By the fall of 1915 logging wages were low. Rumbles of discontent filled the air. Men in all sorts of work talked of striking and forming unions. Roy preferred to  avoid conflict if I could be avoided.

Thoughts of Mae continued to occupy his days. Her parents were having a tough time making a living off their homestead property. They both hoped her parents would decide to sell the property and join their family in the Puyallup area. Instead, they moved from their ranch to Belle Fourche to run a boarding house.

In November a logging operation in Spearfish, South Dakota, where he’d inquired about work the previous winter, wrote, and said they were looking for loggers, if he was interested.

As much as he hated to leave his family and friends in Puyallup, he needed to be closer to Mae. He made the difficult decision move to South Dakota. He’d hang on to the lot of land he had purchased from his father. He still hoped to one day return, build his Wyoming girl her dream home, where together they’d raise a family and grow old. In the meantime, he’d cast his lot in South Dakota.

On a chilly day in early December, he stood with his parents waiting beside the tracks to board a train headed to the Black Hills.

His mother wiped tears from her eyes, “Please give the Phillips our regards, especially Mae. And bundle up, it get’s so cold there.”

He gave his mother a gentle hug. “Don’t worry I remember the cold we got in Oklahoma. And don’t forget I have already spent the better part of two winters there.”

His father reached out his hand to shake and then thought better and gave him a hug. “Son, please tell me you will bring that girl of yours back for at least a visit if not to live. This isn’t good-bye it’s just adios until we see each other again. Soon, I hope.”

Logging in Spearfish allowed him to see Mae on weekends. In December of 1916 he left his Spearfish logging camp and arrived in Belle Fourche and took a room in the hotel. After he deposited his bag and gave himself a shave. He descended the stairs out to the street whistling Jingle Bells in anticipation of seeing Mae in a few minutes.

On arrival Mae flung open the door. He read the look of alarm on her face. His gut felt sucker punched..

He reached for her hand. “What is it?

She handed him a telegram.

“This arrived this morning from your mother.”

His heart started to palpitate as he took it from her hands. Something happened to my father, or it’s one of my brothers. His hands trembled as he opened it.

 Mr. Cook killed yesterday in accident. Planning for his burial in Sumner. Details will follow in a letter. Mother and Dad.

Mae took one look at his blanched face. “Its sad news isn’t it. Is it your father?”

“No,” he said, “It’s Gus, he’s dead.”

“Oh no,” said Mae. “He’s so young. Here sit down, this is such a shock. Does it say what happened?”

Roy shook his head. “No just it was an accident that occurred yesterday. I am in shock.”

“Let me get you some tea”

“No, I don’t need want any. I’m sorry I don’t think I want to go out for dinner , I need to be alone for a bit and get some air.”

“It’s alright,” she said softly. “I understand. But please come back in a bit and let me know you’re okay.”

“I will.”

He got up to leave. He walked down the steps of their boarding house not sure where he was headed. He walked aimlessly for the next hour. Gus who’d been so full of life. His falling partner, an orphaned kid from Sweden who’d come to make his fortune in America. His life snuffed out too soon. He wondered if a tree he’d been falling had taken him. He’d seen other men lose their life that way. It wasn’t an image he wanted of Gus. No, he’d remember him the way he’d been when he’d left the logging camp in November. Full of life and plans for a future on a piece of land he’d recently purchased. He shook his head wondering if he’d be dead too if he’d been working with him yesterday. Or could he have done something to save him? Just like the day he lost his big brother, in an instant life is gone. He took a gulp of fresh air. There was only one place he wanted to be right now. That was in the arms of his sweetheart. He looked around, he wandered around a bit and was now over by the town stockyards. He turned left and headed back for the Phillips boarding house. He knew Mae would be there anxiously waiting for his return.

A few days later Roy received a letter from his mother with the details of Gus’ death.

October 10, 1916,

Dear Roy,

Your father and I have just returned from laying Gus to rest. We buried him in the Sumner cemetery. I know you must wonder what happened. From what we were told by the loggers who accompanied his body to town, a large limb fell unexpectedly from a tree, breaking his neck and crushing his skull instantly. You can take comfort in knowing his death was instantaneous.

I am told his will leaves you as sole heir. I have enclosed the address for the attorney, taking care of his matters. He asks that you write immediately so the probate can be closed. Your presence in town will not be necessary, he can take care of the matter by mail.

Roy folded the letter in half. And took a deep breath of air. So it was a “widow maker,” the name his fellow loggers gave to the giant limbs that storms left lodged in the tree canopy until one day something set them flying from the tree. One could run from a falling tree, but if you didn’t see one of those coming, they were impossible to escape.

It didn’t surprise him Gus had left him the heir of his will, but it was sad he had so few to mourn his loss.

Logging in South Dakota provided even lower wages than Roy had been earning in Washington. No matter how careful he was with his money, he’d never be able to support a family on it. Working in Lead at the Home Stake mine seemed to be the only alternative. Faced between choosing to work in the mine or leaving Mae behind, he chose the mine. It would  be another year before Mae turned twenty-one. Though they’d talked of marrying anyway, Roy was a man of his word.

“Mae I promised you Father I’d wait until your twenty-one before asking for you hand in marriage. Some cowboy might still come along and sweep you off your feet.”

She laughed, “Fat chance of that. I only have eyes for you.”      


Author’s notes:

[i] Gus Cook was a real person and my grandfather’s falling partner. His death certificate confirms the date of death and that he was killed by a falling limb giving him a crushed skull and broken neck. Roy’s mother Margaret Caple was listed on his death certificate as person giving his date of birth, place, etc. It stated he had no known family. He is buried in the Sumner cemetery, Pierce County, Washington. Roy inherited the piece of land he had recently purchased just outside of Puyallup city limits.

Chapter 15-The Life And Times OF William Roy Caple-Mae Moves to Wyoming

The next few days were the best and worst days of Roy’s life. They were best because he’d had so many memorable moments with Mae, the worse because the day after Thanksgiving Mae’s family announced they were returning to Wyoming in December.

They’d promised to write, but he supposed it was only a matter of time before some Wyoming cowboy swept her off her feet and he’d be forgotten. He debated for several weeks whether to write at all. What was the point of writing when she was so far away for more than friendship?

True, she had sent both him and Lida letters. He’d been careful when he answered to keep it polite and distant. He’d been right in the beginning; it was plain foolish to think of making any life plans with her especially now that she lived in Wyoming.

Still, he couldn’t stop the frequency in which the memory of her brown doe like eyes, dark hair, and dimples revealed when she smiled popped into his mind.

He’d walked into town today, with the intention of getting some new work clothes. He hoped the logging camps would soon be back in operation. If he got back to work he could stop thinking of the pretty girl named Mae.

He’d left the clothing store with his purchases and passed the stationary store window done up in red, pink, and white hearts. “Remember those you love this February 14.”  The display window said.

I bet Mother and Lida would like a card he thought as he opened the door of the store.

Hearing the bell above the door ring a clerk in a long white apron covering a dark dress approached him. “Could I be of assistance?” she asked.

“Yes, I’d like to get a card for my mother and sister.”

She directed him to two sections marked Mother and Sister.

 “Thank you for your help,” said Roy, handing her his selections. “I’ll take these two.” 

“Are you sure there isn’t someone else you’d like to send a card to?” she asked.

He glanced at the cards again. “I guess it could get a couple for my friends in Wyoming. Nothing flowery though.”

The clerk directed him to some generic valentine cards. He found a one that featured two children sitting on the grass surrounded in moonlight. “By the great moons pale beam, life just seems like a grand sweet dream.” I’ll get this one for Hazel. For Daniel he found a card featuring George Washington as a lad that simply said, “Valentine Greetings

He was about to choose another such generic card for Mae when he spotted a card with a big red heart and a face that looked a lot like Mae in the corner. The heart itself was encircled with a gold chain and lock in the shape of a heart. Printed on the heart were the words “A heart’s secret.” Below the heart were the words

You are safely locked into a heart that pines, and beats for you alone, so this fair Valentine Day, I’ll claim you as my own.”

He knew if he sent this one there would be no denying what his intent was still. He threw all caution to the wind and handed the card to the clerk. “I’ll take this one too.”

“A very fine selection,“ said the clerk. Whoever is getting this one must be very special indeed.”

“She is,” Roy murmured.

The clerk wrapped his cards up in brown paper and handed them to him, “I am sure your loved ones will appreciate these.”

With the packet clutched to his chest he stepped back onto the street and glanced into the window of the leather shop next door. His eyes landed on a braided quirt. He recalled the conversation he’d had with Mae about her horse, Drummer.

 I bet she could use one of those when she is out riding.

He turned the knob of the leather shop door and said to the clerk looking up from the counter.” I’d like to purchase the quirt you have displayed in the window.”

“Ah said the clerk, “That’s one of our best. Is it a gift, for someone special?”

“Yes, said Roy, “for someone very special.”

Back at the house he readied the valentine cards for mailing. He placed the quirt in a box along with the fancy red valentine and wrote. “Mae Phillips, Mona, Wyoming.”

The next morning he walked to the Post Office. He gulped as he handed the box to the to the postmaster. His heart quivered as though he had actually sent it, instead of a paper one. Would Mae accept his gift with the same love he’d sent it. Perhaps he’d get a letter back saying she was sorry but they could only be friends or worse never answer. Whichever happened he guessed he’d burnt his bridges.

Mae took her time answering his card but when she did, she there was no doubt in his mind she shared his feelings.

Logging began again in March. He was content to go back to work. Arduous work helped keep his mind off Mae at least during the workday. But each night when he arrived back at the bunkhouse, he hoped a letter from her had arrived.

“I swear,” said Gus as Roy hurried out the door for mail call, “you’re more lovesick than I thought possible.”

Roy wanted to deny it but he couldn’t, he was lovesick.

On the first of May he spotted a big box of chocolates for sale in the company store. Perfect timing he thought. I’ll send it for Mae’s birthday. To accompany the box he chose a beautiful card trimmed in bright spring flowers. How he wished he could be with her to celebrate her 17th birthday.

By the first of June he lived for her letters which usually arrived twice weekly. A letter sent his heart soaring, when an expected one failed to come, it sank. He reminded himself that the mail was not dependable, all sorts of things could hold it up. It didn’t mean a Wyoming cowboy had grabbed her attention.

The first of July found him back home to tend to his raspberry crop. He recalled the day he and Mae had picked together and cemented their friendship. He wished he could send her some of the berries but knew they’d never survive the journey so instead he sent her two apple boxes of cherries from his father’s orchard.

After the berries were harvested, he headed back to the logging camp to join Gus once again in falling trees.

On his first night back, Gus shared some pamphlets he’d picked up on free homestead land in Montana. “These have gotten me thinking, maybe I should try and get some of this free land. What do you think Roy?”

“I’d be careful,” said Roy. “My Dad homesteaded in Kansas, got swindled out of one over in Spokane and had another one Oklahoma and none of them proved to amount to much. I’d be sure to look the area in question over carefully first.”

Still, he browsed the pamphlets. Despite his reservations he began to think he should try a homestead in Montana. He knew he preferred to be in WA and near his family but the lure of free of free land was strong and Montana was a lot closer to Wyoming, Maybe Mae would prefer a ranch life.

He wrote to her, “I’ve got half a notion to go look at some of the homestead land in Montana when the logging camp closes for winter.”

He was surprised when he got a letter from Mae extending an invitation for him to spend some of his winter break with her family in Wyoming.

“You could look the land in Montana over on your way back to Washington,” she wrote.

He mulled the idea over and decided to accept the Phillips family invitation.

So, in mid-December 1913 he found himself in downtown Tacoma gazing at the decked-out Christmas windows. He’d come to town to get Mae a Christmas gift and when he spotted a fur muff and stole in one of the department stores windows, he knew he’d found the perfect gift.

He arrived in Wyoming on Dec. 23rd, 1913. Mae’s Aunt Sadie and Uncle Bert had picked him up. He enjoyed meeting all of her extended family, especially Sadie and Bert, who were closer in age to he and Mae than most aunts and uncles.

He had done his best to help the Phillips with all their chores and to not interfere with their daily life. He had very few chances to be alone with Mae, but the ones they had cemented their love. They discussed the possibility of her moving to Washington after she turned eighteen in the coming new year. She said she would consider, but he knew if she did her parents would be heartbroken, something she didn’t want to do. Instead, she hoped they’d want to move back to Puyallup.

He’d also had a serious talk with Alex Phillips Mae’s father.

Mae’s quite smitten with you,” he’d said.

“And I her,” said Roy.

“She is only 17,” stated Alex.

“I know,” said Roy, “it’s just she seems mature beyond her years.”

“I take it then; your intentions are toward a future of marriage.”

“I believe so,” said Roy.

“You are a fine young man, of that I have no doubt, but your age difference concerns me. I’d like you to promise me something.”

“What’s that?” asked Roy.

“Wait until she is twenty-one before you ask for her hand in marriage. If you honor this request, I will not stand in the way of you courting her.”

Roy sighed, twenty-one was more than 3 years away. Not that he was in a position to offer his hand in marriage, anyway. He figured Mae would be willing to live in whatever logging camps he found work in, but he wanted more than that for his future family. He wanted his wife and children to have the stability of one home and a community that could be theirs forever. He wanted none of the moving around his family had been subject to growing up. During the next 3 years, he’d work hard to make this possible.

 “Alright, sir, I agree.”

The two men shook hands.

Mae was less than pleased when Roy told of his promise. “I am capable of making up my own mind.”

He did stop in Montana and look over some homestead land. But it looked arid and dry, much like the places his dad had failed being a successful homesteader. Besides, he didn’t really think ranching was in his blood. He didn’t have what it took to be a cowboy.


Author’s notes:

i] The details about the valentines, quirt. Christmas gift, chocolates and cherries come from letters Mae wrote to Roy. The original letters are in my possession. They are also in here in my blog.

A quirt is a short, braided leather piece used by the rider to give a horse signals. I have in my possession the quirt he gave her.

Gus was my grandfather’s falling partner and we know from the letters that they shared a bunkhouse together with, sometimes the addition of his brother Richard.

From the letters I also learned do he looked at homestead land in Montana on his return trip to Puyallup after his winter visit in Wyoming.

My grandfather always told us he promised to not ask for Mae’s hand in marriage until she turned 21.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

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.

Photo by Rodion Kutsaiev on Pexels.com

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.

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.