Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Life Story of Mabel Claudia Knapp Hess

Mabel Claudia Knapp was born in the early dawn of May 11, 1911. She was the first child of Justin Willis Knapp and Mabel Fedelia Hale. She was born at Madison, co., Idaho, in a little town named Hibbard. 
Weight: Eight pounds, Height; 20 inches, Hair: Brown, eyes brown, the doctor was Joseph Walker.


 Early Life...
When I was about a year old, Mother became sick and I had to stay with Grandmother Hale, for a while. They took a picture of me while I was there. I was frightened when they took it and it shows. Later when I went back to my home, my first sister was born. She only lived a half hour because her cord was twisted and she was undernourished because of it.. Her feet were crooked, too. Her name was Justie, and I have no memory of her.  

About a year later, my brother Warren was born. I can remember vaguely when this happened. The next summer, Dad decided we needed another room on the one room we had, so he built one. Until the door was hung, they had an old quilt hung over the door space. I was afraid coyotes would get in. We frequently heard them bark and yap at nights. Sometimes before my brother was big enough to go along, I used to go with my dad on the horse behind his saddle. We’d go on errands, and to the pasture after the cows.

When Warren was over a year old, we had a new little sister. They named her Elizabeth Marie. She was born in December, and at Christmas time when we went to the dance, we got whooping cough. The baby caught it, too, when she was seven week old, she died. I can remember how she coughed and coughed, and then she’d get weaker and weaker, until she’d lost consciousness. My parents worked over her and brought her back to consciousness after she seemed dark and gone, but once they could not. I wasn’t frightened, I just felt like I was looking on. Later I deeply regretted not having a sister near my own age. She was a lovely child was tall and had brown flecks in her eyes. My brother and I could not go to her funeral because we still had whooping cough. A woman named Alice Smith stayed with us when Mother and Dad went to the funeral.

The next summer, when we went out to play, there was still some gravel out in the yard, so Mother would let me play on it and put a small rope around my waist. The other end was put on Warren, so I could keep him out of the mud at the bottom of the pile.

Once that summer, while we were at Grandmother’s, Warren walked away, and when mother found him, he was in the canal. All of us looked for him, but we looked in other places. All afternoon they worked over him, and gave him artificial respiration, and finally Dad breathed in his mouth, before he finally started to breathe on his own, even then he was unconscious until the day.

Nearly every Sunday, we went to church in the buggy. When it was new it had a top on it with black fringe all around, but the fringe wore off. Then the top wore off, but we rode to church in it, anyway. One way we looked we could see the Teton Peaks, and the way we could see two huge buttes, and off to the northwest, we could see the Sawtooth Range.

As far back as I can remember, my dad was Sunday School Superintendent. In the winter, the auxiliary organizations put on plays to pay their expense through the coming year. There were a lot of dances and programs, too. We had a sleigh with a large wagon box on it, and new straw in it with quilts over the straw. We sat on the quilt over the straw, wrapped in more quilts, when we went anywhere while there was snow on the ground. On winter nights when Dad didn’t have to go to a meeting to play-practice, he played chords on the old organ or borrowed Grandpa’s violin, and we sang songs Nights when they left, I made up stories and told them to the children until they went to sleep.

When I was real small, I had two aunts living with Grandma. I enjoyed them even when they teased me all the time. When I was six years old, the World War I was still being fought, and pretty bisque dolls that had come from Germany didn’t come any more. That Christmas I received a celluloid doll with a collapsible rubber column for its body, that could collapse by pushing down her head to make her squawk. She was very disgusting. Just before that time Warren and I had the hard measles. Dad carried us in the kitchen in the morning, then back to bed at night. Along about then, Warren had picked up the lovely bisque doll I had, and had thrown it at me, and broken it. Now I had to put up with this monstrosity. In February, on Valentine’s Day, my next baby sister was born. I was almost six years older. In the winters, we used to go with Dad in the sleigh to feed the stock out in a field. He took the gun along, so sometimes we’d get a big white rabbit to eat. Sometimes we went with him to hunt ducks. Quite a few times I went with my grandfather to fish. He fished along the banks of the Teton River.

When my baby sister was about six months old, we went on a train trip to Smithfield, Utah to visit my grandparents. It was quite a great adventure. We stopped at Cache Junction for quite a few hours, then went on. My uncle Joe had been drafted into the army, and would soon leave to go.

Grandmother had a large house (it seemed) with four rooms, a glass door, and full basement. The basement was lined with bottles of fruit and other canned food. We stayed two weeks.

The fall when I was seven, Mother took me in the buggy to school. It was the first I had been away. But it was wonderful. Ah, to learn to read! The teacher was Mrs. Fullmer. Her husband was a soldier and was away at war. She told about “The Little Red Hen.” After the first day, I walked one and a half miles to school with two eighth graders who lived across the street. Their names were Leslie and Afton Park. In the late fall the war ended, and a few days later my grandfather died. He had previously had a stroke and now he had another after he’d been in a coma for seven or eight days, he did. Dad and Grandma cried, and they shaved his mustache off. There was a lot of influenza so they held his funeral outside and we children couldn’t go. After Christmas, a lot of people caught the flu, including Grandma. She was staying a while with us, and then we caught it. School stopped because so many had it. Nothing tasted good. Grandma was well by the time we were sick, and she gave us tomatoes and vinegar, but that didn’t taste good, either.

In March, another baby sister was born; they named her Thelma. My teacher said I could read well enough so I could go into the second grade. That meant that I had skipped the first grade entirely, because the first year you went to school, you were a beginner. Miss Ivins was my teacher at first, and then they put two grades of children in each of four rooms, so it took another teacher. We had the new one, Miss Squires.

By that spring I was eight years old. Mother wanted to get her father a nice gift for Father’s day. I told her I thought he would appreciate a home-made book best. On my eighth birthday she made one for me. It was a small book full of poems. I loved them. A lot that are still my favorites are there. For forty years I have kept as much of it as I could reasonably keep from falling apart. Mothers don’t always get much credit, but maybe it’s a little like praising of part of yourself.

"Poem of the Week"~ Post Register Newspaper

"My joy in spring is more than
birds that sing;
And it is more than budded leaves
that start;
'Tis recollections of a former
A spring that now is lost, save
in my heart:
Small eggs of blue in orchards
white in May
Armloads of lilacs on our
Wedding Day."

By Claudia K. Hess
Shelley, Idaho, United States