Look to the Stars
by Alice Isom Gubler Stratton
Chapter 14
If Birds Can Fly, Why Can't I?
(1925)

72 April 13. Saturday after scrubbing the front room floor, I put on my overalls and middy and Edith and I went Eastering with Venona Stout, Kate Humphries, Lawrence Stout, and Marcus Campbell. We hiked up the canyon above the Sulphur Springs. The air was sparkly spring and the river a clear trickle After we had eaten our picnic, we hiked back toward the bridge.

"Hey, this is my island," Mark said as he jumped to a little sandbar in the river. With his hands he scooped out a pond in the sand.

"I'll have this peninsula," Edith announced.

We all got landlord fever, and with rocks, weeds, and wet sand dribblinc through our fingers, we built little castles.

From the LaVerkin side of the canyon we heard galloping horses, the clatter or a wagon, and a man frantically yelling, "Woa!"

"It's a runaway!" Mark shouted.

Racing through the shallow water for a better view, we saw a team of horses tearing around the bend, their tails and manes flying.

"Woa, woa," the driver cried, straining on the reins.

The wagon bounced and leaped at the horses' heels as they bolted down the dugway. Instead of making the turn at the bridge, they crashed through the railing. The wagon, with its few bales of hay, literally exploded on the bank below, and the dazed horses clopped out into the water and stood, silently subdued, their broken harnesses and reins dangling. The man had leaped to safety on the bridge.

Suddenly, I realized that Edith was nowhere in sight. When I last saw her, she was running for cover under the bridge. With a sickening sensation, I knew she had not made it. The runaway outfit had come too fast, and she was buried beneath the wreckage, where a cloud of dust still hovered.

73 Panic seized me. Then I saw a blonde head poking up from behind a boulder. It was Edith! Her face was paper-white and the pupils of her eyes dilated big and black.

During the past winter, Kate lived with Uncle John and Aunt Evadna Hopkins, and attended the Cedar High. While there, she made application for summer work with the Utah Parks and was given a job in Zion Canyon In her brief interlude between school and Zion, she helped Aunt Alice Spendlove. When the time came for her to leave, she attempted to break me in on the job.

The last morning before she left, she took me into Aunt Alice's kitchen to fix breakfast. While I watched, she scooped flour from the bin into the sifter, spooned in some baking powder and added a good sized pinch of salt. Next, she worked in a hunk of shortening and poured in just enough milk to make the dough right for rolling and cutting. When she took the biscuits from the oven, they were golden and puffy, and Uncle Will and Aunt Alice bragged on her.

As we did the dishes together, I pleaded, "Please don't go, Kate. I'm scared. I won't know what to do."

Aunt Alice will tell you. All she needs is someone to keep the house clean and to fix the meals."

"Oh Kate," I wailed, "I daresn't cook for other people. What if it doesn't turn out good?"

"You'll do all right. Don't worry."

The next morning I stood helplessly in Aunt Alice's kitchen. Kate was gone and I was on my own. Through the open door I heard the corral gate creek. Uncle Will had gone to tend the horses and milk the cows. He would expect breakfast to be ready when he came in. I longed for the comforting sounds of our own kitchen.

Standing like a scaredy-cat would get nothing done. Mama always sang while she worked. Perhaps that would help.

Resolutely, I scooped flour into the sifter as Kate had done. When Uncle Will came in with the milk, I was singing "Sweet birds, oh say that my lover is true," and stirring a big batch of something. Flour was spilling around the edge of the pan onto the table.

"Just like your mother, singing while you work," Uncle will remarked. "And to think, I thought you were afraid."

So he thought I was afraid! Well, if he only knew! That quaver in my voice was no operatic vibrato. But I sang, and mixed, and rolled, and cut. My! What a big pan of biscuits—three times as many as Kate had made.

As I popped them into the oven, confidence stirred within me. While the biscuits baked, I put a fresh cloth on the table. After setting the table, I put on the milk and apple butter, then scrambled eggs Scrambling is less fussy than worrying about a perfect yolk. Uncle Will asked the blessing, then I went to the oven for the golden, fluffy biscuits. What I pulled out, were anemic dough gobs.

"Oh!" I cried in dismay.

74 "Did you burn you?" Aunt Alice called.

"No. I'm all right," I fibbed. A burn would have been mild compared to what I was feeling as I looked at the pan of sodden blobs. What did I do wrong?

"Good. Now hurry with the biscuits, the eggs are getting cold."

Well! There was no use crawling to the table with them, even if I did feel low. Taking a plate from the cupboard, I heaped the biscuits high. At least there were plenty. Setting them in front of Uncle Will, I hurried back to the kitchen, for fear I would cry.

"Aren't you going to eat?" Aunt Alice asked.

"I forgot something," I replied.

"Everything is on. Come eat your breakfast while it's hot."

Might as well face it, I thought, so I slid into my chair.

"Guess I'll go fishing today," Uncle Will said, straining to lift a biscuit.

"Nonsense. You know you never fish," Aunt Alice remarked.

"But with these sinkers I could fish the very bottom of Blue Springs."

My face burned.

Holding a biscuit above the table in his right hand, he let it fall, at the same time bringing his left hand down with a heavy thud. His eyes twinkled and I knew he was teasing.

"Eat your breakfast. Will," Aunt Alice said, "the biscuits are right tasty." She had spread one with apple-butter and was eating it as though it was good.

Uncle Will bit at one with pretended effort. "Ow, ow, I think I broke something," he said grabbing his jaw.

He was funny, and I laughed, in spite of myself, and then buttered a biscuit and took a bite. Tt wasn't bad at all, especially if one was hungry.

Uncle Will ate at least three of them. "A very substantial breakfast," he said, patting my back as he left the room.

As I cleaned the kitchen, I mulled over the problem of disposing of the heap of left-over biscuits. It was no use putting them in the bread box because Uncle Will would tease me every time he saw them. I could sneak them to the pig pen, but those big, fat pigs were used to good sweet corn, and would probably root the biscuits out of the trough along with the corn cobs, and then I'd really get laughed at. If I threw them into the canal, they'd probably float through the headgate and onto the garden. I'd never hear the last of that. I was afraid to take them to our own pig for fear he wouldn't eat them. If Mama saw them in the trough, she'd ask questions.

Since Uncle will was such a torment, the only way I could be certain that I wouldn't get a box of dehydrated biscuits for Christmas was to dispose of them now. I put them in a paper sack and waited until after dark before going home, then I threw a biscuit into the weeds in each lot as I passed. they lasted all the way home. Uncle will and Aunt Alice never did ask what had become of them.

75 Aunt Alice promised to sew for me, to pay for my help. But the dresses she made for me were a problem. She was a good seamstress, but Grandma had said the difference between Aunt Alice's and Aunt Mary's sewing was that Aunt Mary made clothes to fit now, and Aunt Alice looked to the future. The dresses she made were too big. The Sunday dress she made me was the most beautiful one I had ever seen, of fine, red voile, with puffed sleeves inserted with sheer, flowered material. but it was two sizes too big. The other dress was for school. It was a blue percale, printed with red rings. When it was finished, it hung way below my knees. The style was above the knees.

"Now Alice," she said, "I've made this dress long enough to look nice. I can't stand to see a girl going around showing her knees. Put it on and go show your mother how nice it looks."

I went upstairs to put it on in front of a mirror. Ugh, I thought, I look like I'd walked across the plains. Hastily I started to base up the hem, when Aunt Alice called, "Hurry Alice and show me how it looks." I realized there wasn't a chance, so I pulled the thread out and modeled the dress.

"Now Alice, you look lovely," she said with pride.

Lovely to here, but I felt sick inside, for she was insisting that I wear the dress through town to show Mama. There was no getting out of it, so feeling old fashioned and queer I walked home. Once I hid behind a mulberry clump when a car passed by.

At home I fumed and hemmed the dress where it belonged, hoping Aunt Alice wouldn't notice it. When I got back she peered over her glasses at me and said, "Alice, I didn't know I had made that dress so short. Take it off and I'll let the hem down for you."

"I need to finish my work now," I replied, but I was careful not to wear the dress in front of her anymore.

"Don't you like your new dress?" she asked one day.

"Oh yes, I really like it a lot. I'm saving it for school," I replied.

After Aunt Alice felt better, Uncle Walter Reusch came for me to go to Springdale to help Aunt Marilla. Great Day!!! After three years of peddling Excelcis products, this was reason enough for Papa to consent to let me quit. I had hated the job. I figured people could buy what they wanted at the store, and could get it for less. I developed a great antipathy for door-to-door door salesmen that has never changed. If it hadn't been for three particular women, I could never have stood it. They were Hanna Hall, who always waited, anticipating my call, with her order previously made out, and Lizzy Lee, who sat me down to a cool drink and a friendly visit, and Annie Wright, with her lively good humor. They lightened the burden of my task.

Aunt Marilla was scheduled to go to the hospital and I was to keep house while she was away. Before she left, she told me what to put in Uncle Walter's lunch, and for the next two weeks he got exactly the same thing every day—bottled meat between slices of bread, and a thermos of boiling coffee. I did all of the essential things, like opening a bottle of tomatoes for supper each night, and cooking mush for breakfast, and sweeping and doing the dishes, but someone hinted that when Venona Stout had worked there the summer before, she did things different. Naturally she would. She was a different girl. 76 Venona washed and scrubbed like she actually enjoyed it. And with some feel- ings of guilt, I suspected she was quite a resourceful cook. But I lulled my conscience with the thought that I could get Reita and Allen to sit quiet longer than she could. The balcony above the front porch was a favorite spot, where we curled up on the mattress in the afternoon shade while I read stories to them.

Almost everyone in Oak Creek and Springdale danced, that is, everyone but me. The sound of dance music made me forlorn, for I knew Grandma had been right. Already I was a social failure. Nevertheless, I went to a Saturday night dance with my cousins. I planned to just sit and watch. But because I was a new girl in town, all of the boys asked me to dance. "I don't know how," was my miserable reply. I suffered, and wanted to run home. One boy, who had called on me at Aunt Marilla's, asked for a dance and I refused. Angrily he said, "No girl ever refuses me a second time." I suffered.

During the evening a stranger swaggered in. "The treat's on me, folks," he said, passing a bag of candy to the crowd.

I remembered a story about a girl who took candy from a stranger, and later on she had an illegitimate baby. I stoutly refused the stranger's candy, and everyone ate it but me.

Occasionally, when my work was through, I walked to Oak Creek to see Grandmother.

"You've got to quit hiking along the highway alone," Uncle Walter warned. "You could be kidnapped by some tourist. Grandmother would think you were with us, and we'd think you were with her, and you could be hundreds of miles away before you were missed."

He made me feel leery, but not leery enough. Sunday after church, I wanted to show Grandmother the dress Kate had given me. It was a filmy, lavender georgette, with rose colored roses, and was trimmed with wide ecru lace. My fat braids were wound in a bun over each ear, and I had a sense of well-being. After I had passed the last shade tree in Springdale, the sun bore down upon me. A couple in a Model T car stopped.

"Would you like a ride?" the man asked.

I really wanted to ride, but I knew by their dark glasses that they were tourists and could be dangerous.

"I'll just stand on the running board, " I said, cautiously stepping on. If he goes to kidnap me, I'll jump, I thought. "I want to get off at the road to the big white house in Oak Creek," I said.

"Fine," the man replied.

As I hung on, I realized how easily I could be kidnapped, when he approached the takeoff to Grandmother's, I imagined he speeded his motor. To be on the safe side, I jumped, skidding in the gravel. The man slammed on the brakes.

"You little fool!" he shouted. "Why did you do that? I was goinq to take you to your Grandmother's door. Now get in."

I was dazed and hurt, my dress riddled, gravel ground into the flesh of my hip, arm, and deep into the palm of my right hand. I was bloody and dirty. 77 He took me to Grandmother's house, venting his wrath upon me before leaving. Grandmother and Aunt Emma cleaned my wounds with hot water and soap and dug out gravel. Word got to Uncle Walter and he came after me. I was bandaged and left to do the best I could around the house. I hurt. My arm throbbed painfully all night and the next day. By afternoon, dark red veins ran from my wrist to my elbow. The throbbing and pounding was un- bearable. Aunt Marilla's kids had scattered. Uncle Walter was at work and I was alone. Desperately, I walked to Gotfried Ruesch's house. He was sitting under the shade of his mulberry tree.

"What are these streaks on my arm?" I asked.

"Blood poison," he said in alarm. "Ivan, Rowena, come here," he called to his kids. "Go to the river quick and bring me some fresh squaw-bush bark. Hurry!"

Laboriously he arose from his chair. He was a heavy man, and walking wasn't easy. I followed him into his kitchen, where he mixed a concoction of boiling water, corn meal, sticky-gum, and what else, I wish I knew. When the squaw-bush bark was brought, he pounded it to a pulp and added it to the pasty mixture. Digging out more little rocks that were embedded in my festered hand, he spread the poultice on. It was warm and soothing. Gradually, the throbbing subsided, and like mercury in a thermometer, the angry red lines receded and my wound came clean. I know now that I owe my life to Gotfried Raesch. By the time Aunt Marilla came home, I was healed.

Uncle Walter must have said something to Aunt Marilla about the food he had endured. I never saw such a fancy lunch as the first one she packed for him after she got home. His sandwich was a production of diced meat, dressing and pickles, besides the square of freshly baked, thickly iced cake. My face burned, thinking of the awkward, identical lunches I had given him.

In spite of my feelings of inadequacy, I enjoyed working at Aunt Marilla's. She had a player piano and many rolls of music. One roll I especially liked was "The Fate of Floyd Collins", because it made such a lump in my throat. Floyd was a boy who became lost in a cave in Kentucky, and was never found. As we worked the treadles, the music went from roller to roller, and the words appeared so we could sing along. Ah, what sweet sorrow!

Floyd's fate called to mind the heart rending songs of my childhood. There seemed to be a satisfaction in grieving as we sang, "Oh don't you remember, a long time ago, when two little babes, whose names I don't know were lost in the woods, one bright summer day," etc. The babies died in the woods and the robins covered them with leaves.

I would swallow and swallow, to get the ache out of my throat when Grandma or Papa sang, "'Oh what is this?' the policeman he cried. 'Twas poor little Joe. On the ground he had died. No mother to guide him, in the grave she lie low. Cast on the cold street was poor little Joe'," when they sang about the little girl who tried to get her drunk father out of the saloon, because poor Benny was dead. She pleaded, "Come home, come home, oh Father, dear Father, come home." Also many people died of broken hearts in those old songs. Soulfully we sang about the lonesome cowbov who came home to find the newly made mound where his broken-hearted darling was buried. In the song, "Juanita," the Americano died with a dagger in his heart. At every campfire party, we sang about "the night birds crying, the 78 breezes sighing. Far, oh far, far, away, her brave lies sleeping, while Red Wing's weeping, her heart away," and about the wail of woe in Fallen Leaf's wigwam. There seemed to be something so exquisite in suffering set to music.

Aunt Marilla had lots of happy music, and lots of the very best, but the roll I remember most was about Floyd.

After Aunt Marilla returned home from the hospital, things became more interesting. I was entertained with the exchange of words between her and Uncle Walter. At home, things were never so lively. Papa always called Mama "Sweetheart", and she silently accepted his adoration and that was all there was to it. I had no doubt but what Uncle Walter and Aunt Marilla were just as in love as Papa and Mama, but there always seemed to be some sort of conquest going on.

One morning, Uncle Walter grabbed his lunch bucket, bolted for his pickup and barrelled out like he was leaving forever.

Aunt Marilla said, "I won't be around when he comes home. I'm leaving."

Hastily she stirred up a cake, fried some chicken and made a salad, packing them in a basket.

"We'll just take you and Reet, and go to Mother's and stay. I'm not coming back," she said.

I wondered why she didn't pack any clothes, but didn't ask. As she drove her car toward Oak Creek, she made it quite clear that she was through with Uncle Walter forever. She was so convincing that I knew she would be miserable without him. Just before she got to the turn-off at Grandmother's, Uncle Walter came driving down the road from the Park. He steered his pickup over on her side of the road, forcing her to stop, then he eased his front bumper up against hers. Angrily she bit her lips, glaring at him. He got out of the pickup, walking resolutely around to where she sat under the steering wheel. No western movie, and no Ellison White Chautauqua had ever had half the drama I was witnessing at this moment. Uncle Walter's eyes were narrow slits of steel, and his mouth was set in a firm, straight line. He looked positively romantic. Aunt Marilla proudly held her head high.

"Where do you think you're going?" he said in a firm, level voice.

"To Mother's," she retorted. "I'm leaving you."

"Turn that car around, and go right back home," he ordered, then jumped into his pickup and backed up, leaving her room to turn.

Without one word, she turned the car around, and he followed her home. She set the table with her scrumptious food, and the family ate in total peace. I knew for sure Aunt Marilla was plum in love with Uncle Walter.

After I returned home, Uncle Walter came to pay me, but I refused to take anything. He left fourteen dollars on the table. After it was tithed, it was enough to buy a winter coat from Chicago Mail Order Company, the first pretty coat I had ever owned—a brown one with a fur collar.

How good it was to be home again. In my diary I wrote:

We celebrated by sleeping out in the barn—Katie, Anni and I. We loved it. So did the mosquitos. Mildred came home Sunday, so all four of us slept in the barn. This time, Chess Slack's dog came up in the barn and slept with us. He lay down with me. I told him to go away, but he just yawned, put one arm over me 79 and licked my face.

July 17 — My birthday. Celebrated it by hiking up the hill with Annie, Kate and Mildred. Kate took her Kodak. We hiked to the third falls I found two cactus apples and we each ate half…We went in swimming in the canal…In the evening Annie and I went to wish Aunt Ellen a happy birthday. I was fifteen today and she was fifty-five. We came home and had a candy pull.

Hiking with my sisters was a favorite pastime. My diary continues:

Annie brought a can of pineapple home from work, and some vienna sausages. I made a jelly roll and we hiked through greaswood, matchbrush, cactus and chaparral. We came to some thimble-berry bushes in the red foothills of Goosberry Mountain. Dusty cedar trees along the way stirred homesick longings for Kolob. From Goosberry, we hiked extra miles to get to the road. Fred Bebee came along and picked us up at Lookoff Point. We were glad for the ride.

Cable riding was the current fad in Hurricane. A number of barns had steel cables strung from the gable end, then across the barnyard, where they were fastened tightly either to a post or a gate. On the cable was a pully with a crossbar from which dangled a rope. Standing on the ground, the "rider" gripped his hands tightly onto the ends of the crossbar, and like flying a kite, another boy ran along the ground, pulling the rope until the "rider" had glided up the cable to the peak of the barn. He then sailed down on his own, which was the next best thing to flying.

Usually only boys rode, but one Sunday afternoon, the girls were invited. It happened to be when the St. George Stake was having quarterly conference in Hurricane. I had attended the morning session with the family, and my conscience nagged loudly for me to return in the afternoon, but never before had I been invited to ride the cable, and I might never be invited again, so the folks left me to choose what I thought was right.

Putting on my bib overalls, I crawled through the fence by our lucerne patch, into John Petty's barnyard. Kids were already sailing up and down the wire squealing and laughing noisily as blackbirds. When my turn came, I hung on, and Les Ashton ran along the ground with the tow rope and I soared through the air. One of the wires on the cross bar worked loose, gouging my hand. It hurt. I tried to wiggle free and lost my grip on the bar. One end of it flipped up, leaving me dangling by just one hand. By now, I had reached the top. I either fell slowly, or my mind raced fast, because in that airborn moment at the peak of the barn, I considered the hazards below. The old irons, plows and the red tractor didn't look good for a landing spot.

Then my lights went out, and I felt nothing. When my lights flickered on, I stood up. I hadn't landed in the machinery at all, but on dirt. But something was queer. John Petty's corn patch slithered up from the ground, hanging upside down, corn tassels dangling from the sky, then the world turned black. The next time I opened my eyes, I was in Ira Millet's bedroom. Mama and Papa were bending over me and Trudy was saying, "We haven't let her go to sleep. We've kept her talking all of the time." I wondered how she could say such a thing. I had neither spoken, nor heard a word.

The next time I awoke, it was Monday afternoon. Very strange, I thought, and closed my eyes again. the family said I talked quite a lot in the days that followed, but I didn't know it. What aggravated me most of all, was to 80 open one eye and find Kate holding a mirror in front of me, and laughing. My other eye was swollen shut, and my misshapen face was purple and black. It didn't cheer me any, to see how ugly I was. One foot shot pain up my leg when I tried to move. I couldn't see what Kate had to laugh about. She didn't even know whether I was going to live or not, because there wasn't anyone in town who had fallen as far as I had.

Kate's face blurred and the world passed away. For two weeks, I submerged, then surfaced briefly. All I remembered, was seeing people take shape by my bed and then melt in fog, and seeing that maddening mirror.

The saddest part of the whole ordeal was, that every boy had to take his cable down, by order of his parents. I was filled with humility.

I recovered from my fall in time to pack peaches. Hurricane was mostly orchards at that time, and peaches were shipped by the tons. Men and boys did the picking and girls did the packing. If a girl was extra good, she could pack and face fast enough to earn five or six dollars a day. Two-and-a-half a day was my speed, and that was good.

Peaches were dumped by the wagon load onto burlap-topped tables to be sorted and packed. The fuzz built up and clung like nap on velvet. "Goofer feathers", it was called. Sometimes we packed for fifteen hours a day, and were so weary that all night long we dreamed of peaches. I used to dream of sleeping on the packing tables with nothing on but fuzz, while fruit inspectors marched endlessly by.

After the packing shed closed down, our Bee Hive class took a trip to Grand Canyon. This trip filled pages in my diary. I was so in love with life! I marveled over the ponderosa trees, the little pond that we called Jacob's Lake and the ninety-five foot observation tower that I climbed three times. Maggie Petty was our chaperon, and Alma Isom the chauffeur. Alma had a panel truck that screened us in like monkeys in a cage.

On the first lap of the journey, gas fumes made us all car sick. We were glad when a tire blew out above Gallager's Dugway, so we could get out and lay on the sandrocks among the cedars. In those days, blowouts were incidental to every trip. It took Alma four hours to hike to Pipe Springs and back to fix the tire.

Going through VT Park, we draped ourselves on the outside of the car. Alma let us ride on the running boards, lounge on the fenders, perch on tne back end of the truck, and cling like lizards onto the heavy gauge wire paneling—just anywhere to be on the outside. We were togged out in knickers and hiking boots, with red bandannas tied on our heads.

Mildred was one of the girls hanging onto the wire paneling, and when Alma drove through a narrow cut in the forest, everyone was able to jump off but her. She was wedged between a tree and the car, with a limb gouging her side. Our screams stopped Alma, and he let the truck roll back. She could have been killed.

To me, Mildred was the girl that all love stories were written about. Vicariously I lived her romance with Maurice Judd. No doubt, it was her "in love" look that attracted the black-eyed Italian at the service station at VT Park. "your sister is the most beautiful girl I have ever seen," he said. He took our entire Bee Hive class for a ride in his pickup, just to get her to sit in the seat beside him.

"Can I marry her?" he asked me.

81

"Not,unless you take us both," I retorted.

Well, she wasn't quite that pretty to him.

We slept under four quilts at Grand, and when we were caught in a cloud burst, we found cliff dwellings enough to shelter us all. My closing entry on our Bee Hive trip was, "My heart tugged inside as we ate our last meal before leaving the forest. No one could possibly know how much I longed for just one more day. The truck stopped and I climbed the observation tower and looked over the forest and said goodbye to it. I wish I could live in a forest."

More diary notes:

August 12 — Maurice Judd and Clarence Brooksby came in from Fredonia. Maurice is in love with Mildred and our whole family is in love with him. If Mildred doesn't want him, I'll take him. (Mildred wants him!)

September 10 — Venice and I went to Cedar City with Cliff Spendlove. Venice, Clara and I slept together in the hay loft. We tied our big toes to each other's with strips torn from an old shirt. Clara said it was a way of telling our fortune. The strips were soft, and easy to break. Clara said the one who had the shortest string on in the morning, would be the first to marry. If there was one without any string on at all, they would be an Old Maid. When we woke up in the morning, Clara had a short strip on her big toe. Venice slept in the middle. She had a long strip on each toe, and I had none. That didn't jolt me. I always figured I'd be an Old Maid.

September 12 — Cliff came back from his peddling trip to Beaver, and he brought back a wife! Viola Murdock. And she's no older than I am; Oh my, but she's a beauty! Black hair. Black eyes, and so cute it's' easy to see why he kidnapped her!

September 15 — Hyrum Bradshaw is off hauling wood, and Hortense doesn't like to. sleep alone, so Mama sent me out to stay with her. On my way I met Butch.1 He put his arm around me. Ever since Grandmother Crawford told me about how she kept the boys from being fresh with her, when she was young, I had a mind to try it. This was my first chance.

"Does your arm hurt?" I asked.

"No. Why?"

"Because it's out of place."

If Butch had been like the boys in Grandmother's time, he would have been embarrassed and dropped his arm. But he didn't. He just laughed and hugged me harder and put his face against mine. I kicked his shins until he let me go. Come night, when I said my prayers, I prayed that he would be decent. He's a poor, motherless kid and nothing but a tobacco fiend He smelled like Bull Durham.

December 12, 1925 — Today the entire High School went upon the hill and spent the day building the "H." Anthony Isom was High School President and engineered the building. He formed us into rock brigade lines, fanning us out from the four points of where the "H" was to be built. Rocks were gathered and passed down each line and put into place by those assigned to fill in the block letter. Each line moved, as the rocks became depleted. It was neat and efficient. The "H" was completed and whitewashed before night. It can be seen for miles, when approaching Hurricane. I am glad to be in this history making group.

82 This was my first year high. Our cousin, Elva Crawford, lived at our house and went to school with me. Tuition was high. It cost $28.00 to enter the ninth grade, so I took a janitorial job.

At Christmas time, Annie and Mildred got boxes of chocolates from their beaus and bosses. The biggest box was a five pound one from Charlie Petty. With all of the homemade candy around, the chocolates remained unopened in their pretty boxes on the dresser in the front room. Christmas night, Kate and I found ourselves alone. Mama and Papa and the younger kids had gone to bed and Annie and Mildred were out with Rass and Maurice.

Mischievously, Kate gravitated to the chocolates. "I wonder what the candy in this box tastes like," she mused.

"I'll bet Annie could tell us."

"But she's not here. Look, the ribbon is loose." She slipped off the bow as she spoke. "Ah," she inhaled, lifting the lid. "I know what! I'll get a paring knife and slice into one piece to see what color it is inside." It was pink.

She closed her eyes in ecstasy as the slice of chocolate melted on her tongue. "Raspberry! Ummmm!"

Then impishly she sliced into another piece. "Maple! I love maple!" And she popped that into her mouth.

I was intrigued at what she was doing, but wasn't quite brave enough to help myself, until she said, "I know what! We'll dump all of the chocolates onto the table and repack them. There'll be plenty left over for us."

The idea of repacking the candy seemed fun, so I helped. When we were finished, the boxes looked full, and we had eaten what we wanted. The next day we confessed to Annie and Mildred what we had done, and they actually seemed pleased at our cleverness.

Footnotes

  1. Butch is not his real name.