Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Life Story of Mabel Claudia Knapp Hess - Part 2

Part I • Part II


"Once my youthful world was bounded
By a circle at your feet,
Then the lines were stretched and widened
To the schoolyard and the street.
But the center of my circle
Was your tender, watchful care.
And when storms or darkness gathered,
My footsteps led me there.

Far horizons called and claimed me,
But they kept us not apart.
For an ever-open highroad
Was the pathway to your heart.
And although the circle widens
To some distant, shining star,
I know your love will find me,
And your hand will not be far."

~Josephine Wetzler

When I was eight, my dad talked to me a lot about being baptized. Then one Saturday in the May right after I turned eight, he took me up back of Grandma’s house to a turn in the canal and baptized me. The man who confirmed me was Orson Ricks. His daughter was so sweet and good, you just loved to be around her. Her name was Isabella. She had pretty red hair; it was long and in two pigtails around her head. Her oldest sister was my teacher in the fourth grade. Near the end of the year our teacher married my cousin, Irvin Widdison, then even later the schoolhouse burned down. Then on May the 4th or 5th, Isabella died. She was so pretty when we went to see her. Her hair was so shiny and a white bow was on her tummy to hide the swelled look a little. They said she had dropsy and leakage of the heart. I was one of the flower girls and carried gladiolas. As I stood by  her, I promised never to forget her, or how she looked; and always to close my eyes in prayer, because she did.

That summer Dad helped me join the Farm Bureau’s Pig Club. The class work was a little over my head, as I was younger than the rest, so Isabella’s older brother Robert helped me with long division in figuring pig-feed. I had two purebreds, Madison Beauty and Black Bob. Bob finally grew to be a huge beast, about 700 pounds, and Madison Beauty was about 500 pounds, but she was a good-looking lady and never outgrew it. When I was in the fifth grade, we had to go two miles to school, until the new building was finished. Mr. Henry Wardell was our teacher. Two grades were about all we needed in one room and as he taught the sixth grade about Longfellow and some of his favorites, we listened in. So from him I learned to love poetry. He was a great dramatist, and because of him I can see how powerful a good teacher could be.

About this time Dad had a hired man named Bunker Box. He worked in the summer and fall for us, then went to Ricks in the winter. He was a football and basketball star, and the most real matador I have ever seen. One day Segus, who was Dad’s purebred Holstein bull, got loose. When he was a year younger, I had chased him with a home made bow and arrow, but a year changes a bull. When Bunker and Dad tried to corral Segus, he took serious offense. So around and around they went. The orchard had only small trees 12 feet high or so, and a little more than a broomstick trunks, but they were all the protection Bunker had most of the time. Even so, Segus plowed into a couple of them. We kids climbed in the manure spreader to see the show from a safer distance, and the show was really on. They purred and dodged, and at tight moments Bunker chewed his apple harder than ever and the bull got the core right between the eyes. I remember this very clearly, but not the climax. Finally, though, with both Bunker and Dad mounted and working together, they drove the bull to a sturdier corral. Bunker was a big blond fellow with this shoulders, like my own son much later and like him, too, he fell heavily and swiftly for one girl, Eva Fritchie. Soon they were married and moved away.

We used to have a lot of programs in our school. It was a real challenge to keep one renderable song ahead so we could sing at the next one. They probably sounded pretty silly to the teacher. We had a lot of peanut showers, too. Everybody brought a big bag of peanuts to school, then in the afternoon, after recess, we’d get someone to call her out and when she came we all threw peanuts at her or him. After that we gathered them again and had a party.
In the summers, the two celebrations I looked forward to, were the fourth and twenty-fourth of July. There were the program, parades, rodeos, fireworks, and foot races that made them all such wonderful days. They helped us remember our independence and the pioneers.

No comments:

Post a Comment