Thursday, 23 January 2014

Life Story: Second Version

(Editor's note: This life story was incomplete when I received it. Hopefully someone in the family finds the rest of it so we'll know what happened next!)


by Claudia Knapp Hess

     "My ancestors were all pioneers to the Rocky Mountains.  They all came here to be in Zion.  My Mother's parents lived in Marysville, Idaho.  My Father's parents lived in Hibbard Idaho, where they had come when Dad was two years old.  They had home-steaded a place a Dad had build a one-room house upon one corner of it and there he brought Mother after they were married.  On May 11, 1911, I arrived:  Ahead of the doctor and causing quite a bit of excitement.  Dr. Walker soon came and Grandmother and Dad who had been there to meet me probably felt better.
     "A friend of Mother's, Claudia Dayly, came to care for us and I was named her name plus part of Mother's as a gesture from Dad.
     "Before I started to school I didn't have any playmates.  I played with my cousins when I could which was not very often.  When I was too small to remember, my first baby sister was born and died.   My first memory is of my baby brother being born.  We played together a lot of course, and I was set to watch him a lot.  I remember of being tied to a rope on whose other end he was tied and I was to keep him on the high places so he could not get into the spring mud-puddles.  I used to like to visit at Grandmother's house.  She lived a quarter of a mile away and two of her daughters were still home.  Aunt Esther and Eveline.  I like them both but I like Aunt Evie very much.  I liked Grandpa too.  He was fat and kept everyone laughing.  He had made a violin.  He made grave markers and made designs upon them.  He was a very good artist.  He was a shoemaker and a sawyer as well as a farmer.  But he had hay-fever and farm work was bad for him on that account.  He used to whittle a lot when I can remember him.  He made us little rolling pins and potato mashers.  He liked Uncle Josh phonograph records and Hawaiian music.
     "When my brother, Warren was small, we were visiting up at Grandmother's one Sunday when Warren disappeared.  Mother found hi in the irrigation canal a long way down stream and was able to get him out.  It was almost like a funeral, they worked and worked over him.  Dad breathed in his mouth and gave him artificial respiration and they prayed over him.  Grandmother and Grandfather both gave him up but Dad would not.  Finally after what seemed hours, he started to breath though he was unconscious until sometime in the night.
     "Then we had a baby sister in December, but she caught whooping cough from us and when she was seven weeks old she died.  Mother's sister, Aunt Alta came and stayed with us a little while then.
     "Every Sunday as far as I can remember Dad would take all of us to Sunday School and almost every Sunday we would go back to Sunday Meeting.  In the long winter evenings we used to sing either wit Dad playing on Grandfather's violin or playing chords on the old organ.  Quite often Dad had meetings and when I was a little older they both went and I entertained the kids by making up stories to tell them.  They were great long stories continued from one night to the next. 
     "World War 1 was raging at this time and we were wondering if Dad would have to go.  Grandmother and Grandfather Hale moved to Smithfield, Utah about this time and they visited us on the way.  Uncle Joe, Mother's brother was drafted.  In February 1918 Mary Marjorie was born, on Valentine's Day.  When she was about seven months old we, Mother, Marjorie, Warren and I went to Smithfield to see Uncle Joe before he had to leave.  It was high adventure.  We went on the train.  We took our lunch and ate on the train but in Cache Junction we had to change trains and we had a long wait there.  Grandmother had petunias in her windows and tea roses in her yard that bloomed all summer and were a lovely dark cerise.
     "When I was seven a new adventure started.  Mother took me in the buggy to school one and a half miles a way.  The school house was made of rock and was square.  It had a wash boiler out front filled with cement to hold the flag pole up.  It had four rooms but the first year I went they only used three.  They had a class called the beginners which had kindergarten activities and took a year to learn.  So when I started as a beginner Mrs. Fullmer was my teacher.  I had to walk to and from school.  I walked with two neighbors who were in the eighth grade.
     "Grandpa died that fall.  The Armistice was signed.  During the winter an epidemic of influenza swept the country.  School was let out and all the neighbors had turns having it.  Grandmother Knapp had it at our place and then all of us did.
     "By the time school started again in the spring I had finished all my books and I was older than most of the other kids so my teacher put me in the first grade.  Then she gave me second grade books and when school was out in the spring she promoted me to the third grade.  My sister Thelma was born that spring. That summer Dad took me up on the canal back of Grandmother's place and baptized me.  Brother Orson Ricks confirmed me the next day.
     "At nights we had to carry in the wood and get the water.  I used to think I pumped more water than any one ever had.  Our reservoir held six big buckets and we only carried small buckets so it took quite a while.
     "Miss Ivins was my third grade teacher for a little while, then they separated the children and used all four rooms and had four teachers, so Miss Squires became our new teacher.  That winter Miss Ivins got influenza and died.
     "After the first year when our neighbors graduated, I walked to school with a girl who lived down the road a ways, Belva Park.  I liked Belva but she sure bullied me around.  We walked to school every day together.
     "In the fourth grade our teacher was Reba Ricks who later became my cousin when she married my cousin Irvin Widdison.  That spring our school house burned down and the school teacher's little sister, Isabelle, who was my dearest friend died after a very long illness.
     "My sister Anna was born that spring.
     "We used to have a lot of programs in school.  Some of us sang a lot and we all tried to find new songs before anyone else could learn them.  We had spelling contests too much like our grandparents used to do.  None of the schoolhouses were modern and we had to hold up our hands with different combinations of fingers protruding for different privileges.  Like one finger to talk to someone else two to go get a drink, three to go out to the old toilet behind and schoolhouse, and four to go up and speak to the teacher.  If we had more fingers they would have thought of a code for them too.
     "Mr. Wardell was our fifth grade teacher.  He was probably my favorite teacher.  He taught us a little music and a little dramatics, poetry appreciations and the fun of a sense of humor.  He also tried to make very good penmen of us. Miss Young was our sixth grade teacher.  The new school house was finished.  It was modern, drinking fountain and all.
     "I was twelve years old this spring. My brother, Alma, was born.  We visited in Ashton for a while. Aunt Finnie, Mother's sister lived there.  It was always fun to visit at Aunt Finnie's place.  We had visited her at Warm River long before when I was about four or five years old.  She had taken us to Great Falls.  Then we had visited them in Ashton on their farm, before they moved into town.  Dad had taken us to Ashton in the buggy and it was really thrilling, we saw big shade trees that looked like some we had seen in the Tarzan shows.  We stayed quite a long time.  WE had plays and dressed up and watched the moonlight on Fall River.  I was ten years old then.  Now two years later when Aunt Finnie lived in town Aunt Theola, Lella, Zara and Maxine were there and Dad's niece, Sylvia Larsen, went up with me and we had a wonderful time.  Zara and Theola played duets and we sang and it seemed almost enchanted.  I remember thinking sadly that we would never all meet like that again.
     "I had been staying summer nights with Grandma, she hated to stay alone in the evenings.  One night there was a terrible storm and I had to walk up there after dark with lightning showing the way ever now and then.  She used to tell me a lot of things.  About the man who “according to the paper) had chopped up his four children.  About her own children who had died.  She had pictures of them on her bedroom walls.  She told me about her second boy who was next to death and who told her he could hear angels singing and music, then he died.  She told about her baby boy who was a twin and whose twin had died at birth.  Raymond wanted her to take him to Rexburg to have his picture taken and she did and not long afterward he had died.  Leaving his picture for her.  I can still see him sitting there on his little chair in his dress.  Two daughters died when they had been little.  One when she was seven years and one when she was tiny.  They were so real to her.  She had a picture of the larger one, but it's eyes were colored wrong she said.  She told of the suitor of one daughter threatening to kill himself if she would not marry him.  She told him she would not so he promptly went out on her bedroom doorstep and shot himself.  She talked about Grandpa and told me the first time she saw him in Conference in Logan, Utah.  She said he was so handsome that she just kept watching him where he was in the balcony.  Then when they left the meeting she saw him again and this time she could see he was crippled.  He always walked with a cane and his feet were crooked due to some disease he had when he was three or four years old.  She used to play phonograph records.  One she had was the Wreck of the Titanic.  I had nightmares a long time after that.  But she told me about pleasant things too.  About the apple-peeling bees they had before she was married.  About the Gypsy who put a curse on her because she would not give her some coral beads she wanted.  The gypsy told her she would never have anything.  She told of the time when she was little and they could hear Indians near by.  She said when anybody died in their tribe that they stayed up all night screaming, cutting themselves with knives and dancing.  One Indian woman used to come over to her mother's home and beg, and she had a cute little girl with black eyes and hair and Grandma, who was small herself at the time used to comp"

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