MORE HARD YEARS|
1930 - 1940
As anyone who has lost a father or mother can attest, there is a empty feeling of being alone without them. No doubt, all of the family felt this loss of our father, Edward Sr., and our sweet mother, Rosina, as they departed this life for the next. To a large extent they had been the cementing force which had held this family together. But now they were gone. Yet their influence remained with us and the cohesiveness of this family continued. If ever a family had been prepared to carry on without their parents, this family was. Except for our brother Fred, each of us children now had a family of our own. And soon, even Fred would be married. As our lives moved forward, the children of Edward and Rosina, now parents ourselves, taught our children the qualities our parents had taught us.
He was also very interested in physical fitness. He was a frequent jogger long before the term was even invented. He continued to maintain himself in excellent physical shape throughout his life. He was also always interested in building. As it has already been mentioned he helped build several barns for the Durtschi brothers in Teton Valley. He graduated from college with a degree in drafting. This remained one of the great loves throughout his life. Fred was a very colorful and unique member of the family. In fact, he was considered eccentric by many people. Another great love of his was writing. It has been claimed by some that he was addicted to it. During his life he filled many journals. These journals were written on a variety of materials ranging from bound hard cover volumes to brown paper bags. Fred felt that a person's penmanship told a lot about oneself and he was very careful and precise with his writing. The characteristics of his penmanship were very distinctive. He wrote with an old-fashioned quill pen and bottled ink. His ink was often green. Fred's writing certainly had a style all his own. It was very elegant, and punctuated with lots of flair; each letter was artfully made in an exact, precise manner. Besides his journals, he loved to write letters, and frequently spent many hours carefully writing them in his meticulous and uncompromising style. For him, pencils were a tool to be used in drafting but never, never in letters.
Dreams, the visions of the night, certainly can be messages to man from the Lord. Dreams had a great influence on Fred's life. "I was in my late twenties (if I remember correctly) when I really began to take serious note of my dreams," Fred said. "The Lord had been giving me dreams for a long time and I was treating them as 'pearls before swine'. By 1931 I was recording my dreams in my journals. With the help of the Lord, I received the interpretations, and wrote them down also. At times I have spent much of the day thinking about one of my dreams and its interpretation. As I did this, I thought of how I should put my life in accordance with it. After I had truly learned the source of my dreams, I would have come under condemnation had I not obeyed them. Because I did heed the dreams the Lord gave me, He blessed me so that my dreams came more frequently. It was not uncommon for the Lord to bless me with a dream every night. If it was possible I would write it down the first thing in the morning to be sure I would not forget it. Then during the day I would struggle with the Lord for the interpretation.
"Scriptural history is rife with dreams from the Lord," Fred added. "Joseph of Egypt had dreams which got him in trouble with his brothers. But his giving heed to his dreams eventually made him the number two man in all of Egypt. The Lord showed things in dreams to Solomon, Nebuchadnezzar, and many other early kings. Daniel was called of God in a dream. And all around Christ's birth the Lord gave his will through dreams. Joseph was told in a dream about Christ's conception. The Wise Men were warned in a dream not to return to Jerusalem and Herod. Joseph was warned in a dream to flee with the Babe out of Bethlehem into Egypt. And after Herod's death when it was safe to return, a dream sent them home to Nazareth. Of course, it has been prophesied that visions will continue in the last days. As Paul said, 'And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams'. I felt very humbled that the Lord had chosen me to be the bearer of such blessings. Towards the latter part of my life I had many, many volumes of journals filled with my dreams, and innermost thoughts. There were many times I was ridiculed because of my dreams by many people, and sometimes even my own brothers. They could not understand as I changed jobs, or even moved to another city as a result of a dream I had received from the Lord. But have not the holy men of the ages had to endure the same kind of misunderstanding? I, and later my family, moved back and forth between Salt Lake, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco many, many times during the 1930's and 1940's. Driggs should certainly be added to the above list of regular residences, as we frequently came back to Driggs to work for my brothers and other relatives.
"Whenever my residence was near a temple, such as in Salt Lake, I went to the House of the Lord often. In June of 1933 while in the Salt Lake Temple, I met a young lady named Ruth Lougy. We were very impressed with each other the first time we met. The courtship lasted scarcely a week, when during the cool of the evening I walked up to pay my beautiful, sweet and loving young friend, Sister Ruth E. Lougy, a visit. We had a lovely time together. Never before in my life have I had the experience of seeing the power of love weld my heart to that of any lady I ever met, so readily; never have I come in contact with a young lady whose love seemed so serene, so pure as hers and so sweet as her disposition. The next day we decided to set apart the day following to sincere and earnest fasting and prayer for divine guidance in our intended move. The Lord gave his approval and we were married for time and eternity in that same holy building in which we had met just one week before."
We now leave Fred with his new wife and turn to the rest of the family. The depression years had struck, and it was difficult to earn a living. But it was hardest for the wives who had lost their husbands. This was especially true for Clara and her 11 children in Provo. Her boys could not find jobs. "Soon the time came when I couldn't make the payments on our place," Clara stated. "But I always managed to pay the interest, which was $300.00 a year. For several years we did this, and to help make those payments I had to sell a lot of our land, a few acres at a time. To earn money I picked fruit, took care of children and did housework for other people.
"One winter," Clara confided, "I took in my home five motherless children from the Welfare. The father was an alcoholic and was getting treatments in the Utah State Hospital. Two months later he came and stayed at my house also. They stayed with us for 10 months, and as soon as school was out, they went back to their home in American Fork.
"The next fall, the Welfare brought me five other orphaned children who stayed with me 10 months. The next two winters I worked in the school kitchen serving lunch. Finally, I was able to pay off my debts. The bills were for the house and one acre of land and the doctor bill for the two broken arms of my two youngest children. Then I was finally out of debt! I had no help from the Church and only 10 dollars a month from the county for two years."
In Teton Valley the families never got rich on the farm but usually had enough good food to eat and enough work for the children to do so they could learn responsibility. Many times, they got discouraged at the way things were going. Alfred said, "During the depression -- 1933 to 1940 -- conditions were bad. We got 10 cents a pound for butterfat, and 5 cents a dozen for eggs. Good milk cows sold for 15 dollars. We received from 15 cents to 25 cents for a bushel of wheat, and we had to pay 98 cents for a sack of flour. But the mortgage didn't go down like our earnings, for we had to pay 8 to 10% interest to the bank for money we had borrowed.
"The thing that caused me the most anxiety was the building of a new, very much needed, three-unit church," Alfred continued. "Before the depression, people of the ward decided to build a rock building. We presented our plan to the Presiding Bishopric and Church architect. The answer was that we would not be able to pay for a building like that. They counseled us to build a one unit building with shingles on the outside. I was one of those who said, 'As far as I am concerned, if we still have to carry the benches outside every time we have a social or dance, we will stay right where we are, even though it is inadequate.'
"We appointed a building committee consisting of Charles Christensen, Elmer Rigby and T. Ross Wilson, who also acted as Secretary. Correspondence was carried on for a full year with the Church architect before we got permission to go ahead and build. The permission finally came, saying, 'Now we have been corresponding long enough. Go ahead and build as big and as expensive as you want. You will receive $6,000 from the church and no more.' In those days the church paid 50% on any building, but not ours. When we got through it had cost us over $17,000. But we got what 99% of the people of the ward wanted. A little more than half of the ward's share could be paid in labor and material.
"Had we known that we were going into the worst depression that ever struck this country, we would never have started to build at that time," Alfred remembered. "In March of 1931, we started to work in the rock quarry and within three weeks we had most of the needed rocks on the building spot. During the winter of 1931-32 we hauled the gravel. That fall we put the basement in. In August of 1933, we commenced to build. Money was hard to get, but we kept on building. In 1934 we thought (at least we hoped) the depression was about over but then came what President Roosevelt called a 'recession', and that for us farmers was worse than the depression ever was. I hated to ask the people for money but we had to have $1,045 to pay the bill. I wrote to the Presiding Bishopric and asked them for $1000, which under the present circumstances, we were unable to raise. The answer came and it was short. It said, 'We told you so.' That was the time when I came near apostatizing from the Church. It never pays to get mad."
"Life is not always sunshine, it is not always rain
It is not always pleasure, it is not always pain."
"It was nearly Conference time and all the Bishops were expected to go to Conference. I went, and after the meetings I went to see the Presiding Bishopric and try to explain to them what we farmers were up against. Somehow I got through to Brother David Smith. He said, 'All right, we will pay the $1045, but don't come back for any more appropriations.' Well, we finally got our Church completed in 1936, and it was dedicated by Elder Harold B. Lee. We were so proud of our new Church.
"We bought the furniture for the church for the sum of $1,000. The church paid $600 of it and the night the furniture was delivered we had a party where we raised the other $400. No more collecting so far as the Church building was concerned!!!
"I've said earlier that my brother Ed and I felt it was our duty to do our share towards helping the desert blossom. Digging canals, putting desert land under cultivation and helping to build meeting places for the Saints was the way to do this. Well, here is where I had a chance to help build a new Church house to my heart's content. It was a struggle but it was a great achievement for a small ward like Pratt, averaging 200 members. Achievement brings joy and there is no achievement without labor."
During those depression years times were not any easier for John, Alfred's brother. He said, "I went to town on one occasion without money. We needed at least $2.50 worth of groceries, and I said to the storekeeper that I needed the groceries but I couldn't pay for them. He said, 'When will you be able to pay for them?'
"I said, 'I cannot even tell you that because right now, to be honest, I don't know when I'll have the money. But I know I will be able to pay for them.' I had confidence that the Lord was going to bless me with life, health, and strength to keep on working, and that I was going to be able to pay for those groceries. I could see that it was bothering him, so I said, 'Don't let it bother you,' and walked across the street to his competitor and said the same thing to him.
"He just chuckled and said, 'You're just as welcome as if you had the money.' Of course, he had our business for several years, and he never lost a dollar on us. If we didn't have the cash money he would say to me, 'You don't happen to have a good cow to sell?' I would say I did. He'd come up, and I'd sell him a good cow to straighten up the store bill. That is one way we got along during the depression. We were blessed and never lost a thing. Many of our neighbors lost their farms and everything they had during the depression. Once they spoke of foreclosing on me. I wrote them a good, stiff letter that I was doing my best and they were going to get their money. I just read the law to them, and they took me at my word."
The depression deepened. John related, "One of the farmers I knew was losing his farm and wanted to sell his sheep. No one had any money however, so he could not find a buyer. Finally he dropped the price on his herd to a very small fraction of what they were actually worth. Luella and I saw this as a fantastic opportunity to get a valuable herd. However, we were as broke as everyone else, and didn't have the money. Finally I found a source where we could borrow funds sufficient to purchase the sheep. We were already in debt so badly for the lumber for the house. It seemed fool-hardy to go further into debt, even for such a tempting proposition as this. The Church also strongly encouraged us to keep out of debt, especially during those times. As Brigham Young had said, 'I can tell any man how to get rich. You simply spend less than you earn.' Well, we weren't even doing that. About this time we had Stake Conference and a general authority, Richard R. Lyman, had come to speak. I had an appointment with him to discuss the matter. He stated that it was not out of order to go into debt for a sound business venture and that I should purchase the sheep. A few days after Conference, the necessary loan was secured and the sheep were purchased. This added numerous sheep to the livestock we already had. It took a lot of extra work to take care of the sheep. But this depression couldn't last forever. After the country was back to normal we hoped these sheep could be sold for their true value and help pay off the debts. My son, John Ray, turned into a regular sheep herder during the depression years while we had the sheep. And we came through those years in good condition."
"There probably was no one who knew me who wasn't painfully aware of my affliction. I had to be very careful to keep my distance from others in order to spare them both the embarrassment and smell of being around my halitosis. When I did have to interact with others, such as at work or at Church, they usually were most kind in saying the condition did not exist. But I knew the truth and was careful to keep my distance. When they asked me why I was off by myself when I did attend Church or other meetings, or why I sometimes skipped Church, I had to tell them the terrible truth, which usually caused both of us embarrassment. Then they felt compelled to tell me that it just wasn't so. I wish it wasn't so! But everywhere I went, I left a wake of offensive odor floating on the air like some evil black cloud of poisonous gas."
Fred would have been a much happier and successful person had he believed those of his family who loved him and assured him that his "condition" was more imagined than real. But he would not listen, as he was absolutely convinced that it was so. As you will remember, he believed this ever since his mission.
"There was something I could do about my affliction, however, and that was a careful diet." Fred continued, "I found out early that some foods aggravated it while other foods helped. Oranges were one food which helped me and it seems I have eaten tens of thousands of them in my lifetime.
"We had moved to Los Angeles the same year we were married. Aman (who later changed his name to Arnold) was born there. Belden was born in Salt Lake early in 1938, and Cleon was likewise born in that city in 1940. Between 1933 and 1945 our little family moved at least a couple of times between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles as well as San Francisco. I had a great love for California, particularly San Francisco. At one time in the late 30's when times were hard, I left Ruth and the children in Salt Lake and went to California seeking work. It was difficult to leave them and I sent for them as soon as I had a job and felt I could keep them from starving. The depression years were not easy for the family. Jobs were scarce and often only temporary. Pay was low, but so were living costs. Looking back in my journals, I see the grocery bill was usually less than 50 cents a day and rent was about $3.00 per week."
Back in Teton Basin, John and Luella's last baby, Don Lorell, was born May 18, 1938. After Don was born, the school board asked Luella to come back and teach school again. After some deliberation John and Luella decided that this would be a good move for their family.
On the Feuz homestead in Jackson, the years had drifted by as if a dream. By the late 1930's, only their son, Ed, was at home, and even though all the sons helped when they could, it seemed to Fred and Caroline that they worked harder than ever.
As mentioned before, Edward Sr. and Rosina's third to last child, Emma was the only member of the original Durtschi family not to move away from Midway. Emma and her husband, John Lundin, lived out their days on the family farm. Though she was lonely for her parents, and brothers and sisters, Emma had her husband and children around her. And they loved and respected her.
There was always more on the farm than a person could do. The whole family kept busy working from morning to evening. Not only did this family work hard but they spent time playing hard. Emma was a wonderful gardener. Things really grew in grand profusion under her tender, loving care. Her head lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, and other vegetables were the best in the valley. She also had many beautiful flower beds. Every fall at the fair she took first place on her flowers, especially her gladiolas. Whenever anyone was brave enough to come to see her, she literally filled their car or buggy with flowers and sweet peas. Schneitters Hot Pots Resort always bought her flowers for their dining room tables. Yes, their farm was a garden of Eden. The farm and her family was her whole life, and she gave everything she had to them. For years her family earned extra money by peddling vegetables in Park City. They raised acres of peas. Each week, several hundred pound sacks were picked for the weekly journey to Park City. Emma worked long and faithfully to see that these vegetables were ready.
Emma's daughter, Lucinda, remembered many joyful, and some unhappy times on the farm. Lucinda recalled her mother's nature with these words. "Mother was quiet and lived most of her life within. As children, we didn't comprehend the loneliness of Mother. If we children could have just realized a little sooner, we could have made her life so much happier. All she did was work! work! work! She washed clothes on a washboard for a family of 12. Tirelessly, she worked far into the night with mending, sewing, and canning. The only time I ever remember hearing her sing was when we were playing a game of hide and seek. If you were found you had to do whatever you were told to do. Once when we found Mother behind the big tree we told her to sing a song. And as she was singing all of us children circled around her. She lifted her head and her voice came clear and sweet. We didn't understand the words because they were the words of her dear homeland. Her native language in song and stories was a privilege that slipped away from us unappreciated and lost forever. Only after she was gone were we able to realize how precious our mother was. If there is a lesson to be learned from her life for those of us who follow, it is to be a devoted mother. Life is so precious and deserves every effort. Each mother should give it her all. Mothers should see that when their children are grown, they have given them wonderful memories. These memories will see them through the trials of life. They will be memories that will be an anchor and give strength and courage to them to live a worthy and noble life."
John and Emma had 10 children. Their son, John, was the eldest. Emma was the eldest girl born to this fine couple. Anton was their next child, and after him came Anna. Then along came another girl, Lucinda. Eighteen months later, Laura came. Next in line was Vera, then Julia was born. Now Emma had a change in this long line of girls and a 9-pound baby boy was born. As the midwife brought this not so little baby boy into the kitchen she told Emma's husband John, "I feel so sorry for her. This was a hard birth".
"I was impressed with his big frame, and especially his big knees," Lucinda related. "Yes, he was to be a big 'Andrew Lundin', the second. Andrew started playing football when he was very young. I remember coming out of the school when the eighth graders were playing football. A big dust cloud was rolling over the field and when it cleared, who was in the middle of it all, but little Andrew Lundin."
"Last, but not least, was born another sweet little girl, Mayme. She was the pride and joy of the entire family. The children loved her dearly and carried her tirelessly on their backs wherever they went. In short, she was worshipped by all her older brothers and sisters. Her school days were happy and filled with friends and fun. She was very young when her mother passed away."
John and Emma's children had a most exciting and rewarding childhood. No doubt, similar parallel experiences were taking place in the other families of Edward Durtschi, Sr., as well.
Lucinda told, "Our family was born and reared on a big beautiful farm in the foothills of Midway. Mere words can never do justice to so wonderful a place as was our home on the farm. There was a large apple orchard up along the hillside with delicious wonderful apples. In the spring, after a long hard winter, it was a thrill to dig around in the straw and find a big red juicy apple that had escaped the hard frosts of winter. During the cold winter nights we would devour one bushel of apples each night, between supper and bedtime. Ten growing children can put away with a lot of food, believe me.
"There was a hot pot beside our two story home which was full of wonderful warm water. A room was built over the hot pot and this was connected to the house. The Lundins might have been poor, but we had a heated, indoor swimming pool! Unfortunately, this didn't last forever. Because of the steam and hot water, the floor boards started to rot. Besides this the house was sinking into the ground. So the house was moved to save it. My first recollection of life and home was the day Dad moved the house. He put it on large logs. Then he hooked a team of horses to it and pulled it about three of four hundred feet to the east. To my very young eyes it seemed the house was as big as a mountain and it was very exciting. Father moved the house so gently he didn't even disturb Mother who was cooking a meal. The room which used to enclose the swimming pool was then converted into a kitchen.
"Shade trees were everywhere," Lucinda continued, "for Grandfather Lundin planted well. The road leading from the gate was lined on both sides with trees. In front of the house was a line of old-fashioned yellow roses, called Mother of Millions. They had a fragrance which to this day holds a magic spell for me. We looked for and often found chicken nests among those fragrant little Mother of Millions rose bushes. Over in the other end of the field by Kuhni Gertsch's fence we had a patch of Irish Cobblers. Then, too, there was a large patch of horse radish, growing in abundance. There were two trees in the orchard called Green Gages, the preserves of which no words can describe: Angel's food, golden in color, once tasted had a flavor to be remembered forever. There were cherries, Italian prunes, Blue Damson plums, Potowatomee plums, and pears of different assortments. Oh indeed, it was a haven, especially in the spring at blossom time. We children laid on the grass as we looked up into the trees. They were loaded with blossoms and bees, millions upon millions of honey bees buzzing in pure delight. I can almost smell that glorious aroma now. The first fruit to ripen was the cherries. It is said you ca not raise cherries in Heber Valley. But John and Emma Lundin could and did. However, it was a bitter contest between his 10 children and the robins each spring when the cherries began to ripen. As we climbed the trees to get the first delicious fruit, the birds would go wild. They were chirping and flapping their wings, trying to frighten us away.
"There was an orchard northeast of the house which we called the Little Orchard. This was a very special orchard because it contained the most delicious apples, Red Astrickens. It was exciting for us to reach down in the fragrant spearmint and find a ripe, red striped apple. There are no words adequate to describe the delicious flavor and aroma. Then behind the cellar another kind of apple grew. We called these 'Back-of-the-Cellar Apples.' The biggest tree hung over the roof of the cellar. We climbed up in the tree from that roof and enjoyed the sweetness that can only come from tree ripened fruit. To the west of the house was another small orchard where big reddish purple plums grew. Also in this area we kept a herd of pigs. It was a scary thing to slip into the pen and climb a tree before the pigs came grunting after you to see if you had something to eat. Of course, the best fruit was always on the highest limbs. It was really a challenge to get those big red juicy plums. Needless to say, the pigs got their share.
"In this same area there were two large trees. We had a swing that took us up so high, our heads touched the limbs. As if all this wasn't enough, there was another lovely orchard of Wealthy, Yellow Transparent, Astrickens, Satsuma Plums, Blue Damson and Potowatomee Plums. Also included were Bartlet, Winter Pears and a sprinkling of seedling apples which were strangely sweet and different tasting. As a very small child walking home from school, it was pure joy to go into that wonderful orchard and eat my fill of all these precious fruits.
"This was called 'The Lower Place,' and was part of our farm. It was situated on the southeast corner of the farm, down by the road. This held a special fascination for us children. We were very shy, like wild untamed humans. We loved to go down to the family's vacant house and play as we watched the people passing on the road. The Ernest Kohler family lived across the road from this vacant house. We always tried to be very careful that they didn't see us because if they did they would come over. If we saw them coming first, there was a wild scramble of lively bodies. Out the back window we flew and up into the tall grass where we escaped to hide. Then we sent back our incendiary bombs 'via Laura.' We thought up the names and she delivered them without fear. Sometimes we were so engrossed in our play that the Kohlers sneaked up on us and surprised us. Oh, the awful fear when this happened. There was a place under the stairs we hid and when they found us they surrounded us and tormented us with, 'has the cat got your tongue?' How I hated that expression. They seemed so big and fearful to our small frightened little minds.
"There was a large tree by the front porch of the empty house we played in. We led our horses up to it and climbed up into its big inviting branches. Then we played circus, and as the horse went around we jumped out of the tree onto the horse's back. This play, of course, was enjoyed when we were certain the Kohlers were not at home. One day while we were playing, our little dog ran out in the road and was run over by a car. Later Dad picked it up. Its little head drooped from side to side, signifying a broken neck. This was a terrible ordeal for all of us.
"In the fall after school started, we began the long hours and days of picking apples. This wasn't such a pleasant thing. We came home and kicked off our hot new shoes and changed our one and only dress. Then we dove into the large plates of sauerkraut and delicious boiled potatoes with butter, salt, and pepper. My, what wonderful flavor! After this was enjoyed, then came the work. All of us had to go up into the orchard and pick apples. We picked hundreds of bushels of apples. As we picked, it seemed like there was a never-ending supply of them. We were all very agile and could climb trees like monkeys as we filled our picking sacks. Our feet, sore from being in those new shoes all day, felt a relief to be out of their prison as they clung to the smooth bark of the trees. Yes, there was joy in this work, of seeing trees bare and stripped of their fruit. We kept a mental notation of how many more trees were left to be picked. Then we counted how many bushels had been taken down to the granary where they were stored for the winter. After the apples were picked came the time for cider making. Hundreds of gallons of cider were made. Some we hardened into vinegar. And some we kept until it was hard and sparkly enough to sting its way down the throat. We had a little siphon hose that was inserted into the hole in the wooden barrel. All of us sucked the tangy cider to our heart's content. My mother was the one who liked this the most. She would lean over the barrel and enjoy the sweet refreshment. Having been born in Switzerland, she was accustomed to a cellar filled with red wine. Many times she referred to this delicacy and found cider a substitute for it.
"Then there was the making of plum preserves. They were cooked on an open fire out in the yard in a big copper kettle. It held about 25 gallons of preserves. The plums were cooked and stirred and sweetened. When they had boiled down sufficiently, they were carried into the house and poured into a big 50-gallon wooden barrel. In the winter it was a joy to have fresh baked bread. On top of this we had our delicious plum preserve mixed with thick cow's cream -- mousse, as we called it. To top that off, many times in the summer we took our hot bread and jam out to the barn. Dad filled our glasses with milk straight from the cow. We buried our noses in the warm foamy milk and drank and ate to our heart's content. Yes, we were so poor, but so rich!
"As I said before, our farm was more than the usual farm. It had everything; cattle, horses, dogs, cats, pigs, chickens, a big garden, and a potato patch. It had orchards filled with every kind of fruit imaginable. Springs that came out of the hillside. And uneven terrain that could be turned into anything your imagination could conjure up. There were dusty trails for kids to walk barefoot on. There were Swamps and mud holes galore, and two big canals running through the farm from north to south. These were lined with big Balm-of-Gilead trees. And, of course, in addition to this, there were all kinds of interesting herbs and brush. In all of this there were all kinds of snakes, squirrels, badgers, chipmunks, weasels, and many more animals.
"There was a big long shop full of all kinds of machinery. There was a mowing machine, and a knife sharpening wheel that was run by water which was also used to grind grain for the chickens," Lucinda said, "Our big, beautiful farm had everything for making growing children happy. We could hardly wait to get home from school so we could get back to exploring all the many mysteries that our own little world had an abundance of.
"There was a swamp above the lower canal where we spent many happy hours playing in mud holes. With a little work of stomping and mixing we made the most wonderful mud bath you could ever imagine. We also made a mud slide by carrying mud up onto the grass to make it slippery so we could slide down. All our clothing was removed, of course, for this fun. What a picture we made, like otters at play. When we got tired of playing in the mud we washed ourselves off in the canal which was full of crystal clear icy cold water. Many happy hours were spent floating down this canal.
"We used to swim in a small pool east of the little brick house where Grandfather and Grandmother Lundin lived until their death. This was small and only about a foot deep. It measured 8 feet long, and 3 feet across. We also spent many happy hours in this little pool splashing and letting the water run over the edges and down over the hill. We must have been very small children when we played there.
"When we children got bigger, Dad saw the need of a better place to swim. So he and the boys got busy and proceeded to dig a swimming pool. They blasted the rocks which went flying high over the house! Then after the smoke cleared we all rushed up to see what damage had been done. The horse and scoop shovel were taken down in the hole and the loose dirt and rocks were dragged up. This was repeated until it was completed. Then we filled it with warm water from one of the hot springs. That old swimming pool proved to be a boon to hot, tired bodies at the close of a hard, hot, dusty day in the hay field. Oh, the many hours of joy we all spent in the good old swimming pool. After swimming, we climbed the tree by the shop and went up on the roof to dry off and play.
"This same shop roof is where in later years we dried many, many bushels of apples, pears, and plums for winter. Mother used to sit for hours peeling and preparing this fruit. She worked so hard for us and did it so tirelessly. As we children grew older we had to sit and peel apples until one or two o'clock in the morning. How I dreaded those sessions. Each bushel seemed to hold at least a million apples. How tired and miserable I remember feeling before the last apple was peeled.
"One joy I remember is the squirrels Dad used to catch. He made cages for them that turned when the squirrels walked on the side. They soon discovered that their weight made the wheel turn, and they would get into the wheel and run for hours. When they got tired, they knew just how to get out of the wheel and into the cozy box where they ate and slept. Many times the 'Town Kids' and their parents came to see the cute squirrels perform. This was quite an occasion because it was an unusual experience to have anyone come to the Lundin Farm.
"I enjoyed going after the cows we kept in the pasture behind the pots. It gave me a chance to get out from the confines of the farm without having to go to school. I was always thrilled when it was my turn. I'd get the horse and choose with secret delight which road I would take. I had to decide whether to go down past Biglers to the road and on up over the 'Pots', or out the other end of the orchard. There was a thrill and a certain dread connected with this experience. If Emery Buehler came along it gave him great joy to scare us by riding his horse swiftly up the sloping road as he shouted remarks at us. I rode swiftly along by the line of trees. As the sun flashed between the trees it made a flashing pattern that almost blinded me. I then opened the gate, called the cows and started home with them which was something of a great adventure for me. There was always, as I said, a certain dread, yet this made it the great adventure it was. If a car came along, the horse was always jumpy and the cows wouldn't move out of the road fast enough. Nearing the end of my journey, I brought them through the orchard to watch them file into the clean stable. Each cow knew exactly which place was hers. Many times I would hurry into the house and get the buckets and start to milk. I'd work as fast as I could to see how many cows I could milk before the rest of my brothers and sisters came.
"Every fall the cabbage we raised was picked and placed in a big pile by the cellar. Then one of the family, usually the smallest one, had to go down to the ditch and scrub their feet. This was not such an easy task after running free as the wind bare foot all summer long. Sometimes the feet had become chapped from repeated wading in the streams and mud baths. (Time was not wasted on baths and scrubbing feet during the summer. That was something to be endured the months we had to spend in school.) Someone was sent over to Maria Mitchell's to borrow the cabbage cutter. Then the fun began as the cabbage was shredded and dumped into a large fifty-gallon wooden barrel. The one with the clean feet stomped it. Salt was added according to the need and so the process went on until the cabbage was all snugly pounded into the barrel. The others who were not actively involved in making it had the fun of tasting it as the barrel was being filled. Their job was to see that just the right amount of salt was added. Of course, Mother was the official taster.
"Another old-fashioned household chore that fascinated me was making cheese. Milk was heated and continually stirred in the big copper kettle until it was just lukewarm. Then rennet was added and it was stirred again. It was then allowed to stand until the milk was a big chunk of curd. After that Mother took a big knife and cut through it many times. It was then slowly stirred and heated once more until the whey separated. This was then drained off. The curd was placed on a mold with cheese cloth lining it. A press was placed on top of the cheese and the pressure slowly drained off all the whey. After the required wait, there was a big, beautiful block of cheese. These were covered with wax and placed in the cheese cupboard to age. Before the wax was applied, the cheese was rubbed with salt to preserve it. After it aged, we sliced cheese off the big round cheese, melted it in the frying pan, and ate to our heart's content. Yes, life on the farm was a happy, glorious adventure.
"Another chore we had was digging, planting, and watering potatoes. They were usually planted up above the canal where the ground was very steep. At one time the potato patch was up above and south of the 'Little Oak Brush'. It was steep, and I used to love the challenge of watering it as I took a small stream of water out of the upper canal. It was very fascinating for me to put a very small stream of water in each row so it wouldn't flood. Then I'd sit and watch these little streams creep down the steep rows until they reached the bottom. It seemed like a wonderful adventure to get the water set just right. I felt such a sense of accomplishment. In the fall we dug them up. Some of the potatoes were 8 or 10 inches long, as big as a squash. We took one to school to show. I thought this was the biggest potato in the world. It was always fun to dig the potatoes in the fall. The potato digger clap - clapped along, and the beautiful potatoes fell onto the newly dug earth. The only thing I did not like was digging the dirt on either side to find any hidden potatoes. I always liked hauling the potatoes. The wagon was backed up to the back of the brick house and they were pushed out of the wagon. They ran down the shoot and into the tunnel cellar like a stream of water. Many wagon loads of potatoes were harvested each year. They were needed to feed this large family with 10 children.
"There were many more wonderful experiences that could be written but this is enough to paint the picture of life of the farm.
"One day in early March, 1940 Mother started getting a very bad stomach pain. It went on for a couple of days, then finally it got so bad she had to be put into bed. That was when Dad called the doctor. When the doctor arrived, he went in and examined Mother. The only thing he could find wrong with her was an enlarged abdomen. But he couldn't understand what was causing it. It is now believed she had a ruptured appendix. From when the pains first started, Mother lasted only about one week." Then Emma, the mother of this once happy family passed away on the 18th of March 1940. "After mother died," Lucinda added, "Father died too. He didn't die physically, but spiritually. In those days, the family took their loved ones home, instead of to a funeral home. The entire family was numb with shock. Father tried to explain to the younger children what was happening, but was unable to. I can still remember Father coming into the room where Mother was as he looked into the casket. It was more than he could take and he openly wept. He said, 'She looks just like she did when she was my bride.' Mom looked so beautiful lying there. Her hair didn't even have a touch of gray. She was still a young woman. Father only lived four years after that.
"When Mother was alive we didn't understand that it was her influence which made the farm blossom like a rose. More than we had ever dreamed, she was the power and motivation behind the family and the farm. It turned out that all this work was just too much for her and all the pressure wore her out before her time. After her passing, the farm went down hill. It was never so beautiful as when she was there to help take care of it. As is often the case, the hard work a mother does is not really understood until she is no longer there to do it. This was something none of the family were prepared to accept and life took a definite change. All the children were left alone to take over the responsibilities their mother had carried for so long. It was a very sad experience for all of us. The whole family gave up for a time and everything fell apart. Everyone in the family remained devastated. It was a pitiful situation. Father had a hard time trying to run the farm and take care of the house and children. But he reached down within himself and found the strength and courage to carry on.
"Later, Dad had a case of ruptured appendix of his own. He didn't want to go to the doctor, but we saw to it that he went anyway. 'You're going to the doctor,' we said. 'We are taking you whether you want to go or not.' He came through it all right, but only because of the miracle of sulfa drugs. They had just come into existence.
"During most of the early years on the farm we made only enough money to pay the interest on the loan. Now Dad worked hard several years to get the farm out of debt. Finally he saved enough money to pay the farm off. For many years Father had looked forward with anticipation to this exciting event. It was with great satisfaction that he took the money for the final payment and left the house to get in his car. But unfortunately he couldn't get the car to start. The longer he tried to get it started, the more upset he became. In the midst of this, he had a massive stroke and died. He was 69 when he died. Andrew, Vera, Julia, and Mayme, were still at home. After Father died, Mamie, the youngest, lived with me for a while then moved east and lived with Laura. Julia and Vera met young men and got married. My brother, John, came home and ran the farm. He only ran it for a couple of years and then died of cancer.
"Andrew went into the service during the war and was wounded and sent home. Shrapnel hit his knee and badly ripped his leg muscles. The doctors fully expected him to be crippled for the rest of his life. But when he came home the doctors said they never saw anyone fight for life like Andrew did. He overcame his handicap and now lives a normal life. With my brother John gone, the remaining family got together and decided what was to become of the farm. My sisters and I thought it would be best to give the farm to Andrew. And he still has the farm now.
"As Dad and Mother have both passed away, the old home is deserted and tumbled down," Lucinda laments. "But deep in our hearts, we will always live again the wonderful childhood memories of our early lives. In my mind's eye I will always see the clean, warm kitchen with a fire crackling in the stove. I remember the aroma of freshly baked bread. There were countless nights when we all sat around the table. A coal oil lamp stood in the center to furnish the light, by which we studied our lessons and did our reading. These memories will live on as long as we live. The older we get, the more these cherished memories will be renewed within our hearts. And we express our gratitude to our dear parents who gave their all that we might have a happy, carefree childhood on the greatest farm in the whole world."
Childhood memories, lived anew, Of ice cream, cake fresh baked on Birthdays, not a few. Of Mother sweet, so lonely then, with children ten. How could it be? No self-fulfillment, no hard earned praise. Just toil and inner thoughts. And shattered dreams. A girl once radiant with youth. Too soon grown old beyond her meager days. Then, Mother ill? Oh no, it couldn't be, So soon to end a life of work and toil, For those she loved, but never told. Ah, yes, loved enough to give her all, For our comfort and our need. Never once complaining, patient, toiling, Hoping, praying, to succeed. Now gone these many years, But memories dear, shall never fade. Of silent tender sweetest Mother, How dear she was to those she loved. And so we go on through the years, Searching, living, fighting back the tears. No blame, for grand Mother too, at times, was lost In fears. Wished yet in illness, her dear ones could go back To God who gave them birth. Better far than tear drenched earth. Yes, God had greater gifts for those who care. On that wondrous day, when we meet Him there."
--Lucinda Lundin Jensen
This work Copyright 1987 for the Durtschi Family by Mark Durtschi.
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