Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sheep Shearing by guest contributor - Florence Callaway

Mary Florence (Davis) and Evan Callaway
October, 1980

We read here about Lou's childhood memories of sheep shearing on Grandpa Davis' ranch. This entry, also about the business of shearing sheep, is courtesy of Lou's aunt - Florence Davis Callaway, Mable Butler's sister. Florence wrote a very detailed personal history and included many great stories about life on the Davis sheep ranch. The men she mentions by name in the excerpt below are all her brothers.

After all the lambs were born and some sent to camp and the ewes who didn’t lamb were separated out together, it was time to get ready for shearing. Daddy found out that if the sheep had contacted cockle-burrs in the pastures and they had them buried in their wool, he would be docked in price. He found it to be true and now what was to be done? The problem was solved by Mother taking the tongues out of shoes and making finger stalls so they could be used to pull the burrs from the wool. Now all the sheep had to be brought in, caught one by one, held on a bench and worked over. The leather stalls worked fine and protected the fingers, as those burrs were sharp as needles. Old shoes and some new ones were used; what a job! We had buckets of burrs to burn. The hoes, too, came in handy. As the boys were now in camp, they were on the lookout for snakes, but also, burr plants were to be chopped out before the burrs got ripe.

Now that the lambing and burring was over, the shearing had to take place. The first year the boys did the shearing by hand, and it was a terribly big job. I will attempt to tell about the process, because my grandchildren and perhaps my great grandchildren will never see it, for even in my day we had machines for the shearing.

Sheep shearing with old-fashioned clippers
photo courtesy of flickr

The shears they used were something like scissors, except much larger, but used the same way. The fleece (the wool which came off of the sheep) was gathered up by hand and put into a big gunny (burlap) sack which was about twenty-four inches in diameter and nine or ten feet long. The gunnysack was suspended on a stand. The boys built the stand with lumber which was taller than the sack and had a hoop which held the sack open at the top of the stand. The sack was suspended down to about two feet above the ground. This had to be sturdy enough for a man to jump into it and tromp down the wool to make it firm in the sack. Norman and Floyd did the shearing, sometimes Daddy. Lemmie picked up the fleece and tied it into a ball, and Garney threw it up to the top of the platform above the sack. Lemmie, Daddy, or one of the hired men packed it down by tromping on it; I think they took turns with the jobs. After a sack was well packed up to the top, it was dropped down to the ground by removing the hoop at the top of the platform. Then the top of the sack was sewn together and tied with an ear on each side to be handled and rolled aside. It was an interesting process and people came from mile around to watch it done. I hope I have explained it sufficient for you to get an idea of what a job it was for them to do.

All work stopped, usually at 10:00 a.m. and Mother, Augusta, Mable and we little girls brought fresh doughnuts, coffee, and water and everyone rested. It took a full batch of bread. Mother made bread in a No. 2 washtub. Was it ever good! She fried our own bread doughnuts. Of course the older girls did the housework, baking, bed making, and the many things keeping the home for all the children and men folk.

The shearing kept up until all sheep on the ranch were sheared and put out to pasture.
The wool sacks were kept in the shed until the buyers made a bid. Usually two or three bids. Then the wool was hauled in to Haswell to be shipped on the train to the buyer.

I'm not sure I could have kept up with the responsibilities of the wife and mother of such a large family. Della and her daughters certainly knew how to work and run a household well. And I don't think I know any boys who would be willing to pull burrs from sheep wool - after cutting up their shoes to do so! My life looks pretty soft!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Married Student Life - Pueblo Junior College

Lou was discharged from the Navy in December 1945 and enrolled at Pueblo Junior College in January 1946. His experiences with junior college athletics are recorded here - basketball, and here - football. However, he was involved in more than sports and recreation during his college years. Following are some notes he made about the other responsibilities he had at that time.

School started again in January [1947], and I was working part time at the college as a custodian. I was also working for R.B. Flemons when I could get on his concession crew at different events such as football games, rodeos, basketball games, or special events of any kind.

Throughout my time at Pueblo Junior College, I had a great time in sports and also was active on the Student Council and in a couple of clubs. I participated in track and also got a job at the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company (CF&I Steel Mill.) So I took a full load at school and worked one week on the evening shift; the next week I worked the graveyard shift, etc. I worked in the galvanizing department where I picked up the scrap wire and refilled the vats with the acid used to galvanize the wire, etc. I kept this job through the summer and was glad to get back to football in late August as the new quarter was about to start.

Spring Quarter, 1948 I did my student teaching at Keating Jr. High with Frank Slack, principal. During the summer I worked for the school district in the recreation department at Park Hill Playground.

Pueblo Junior College Graduation
June, 1948

I graduated in June of 1948 with an Associate of Education Degree, and we decided to stop school and teach a year before trying to go to the Colorado State College of Education at Greeley.

When the school year began in September 1948, I taught physical education at Minnequa Elementary School in District #60 under Julia Braun, principal. I taught the whole school year at Minnequa while serving in the Bishopric. I served with Raby Ficklin, and we joined a basketball team at the YMCA. Our team was sponsored by Meadow Gold Dairy.

During the summer I worked for the Recreation Department of the City of Pueblo and also for R.B. Flemons and sons Concessionaires.

That's what I call a very full schedule!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

50 Years Together

Jess (23 years) - Mable (19 years)
February 5, 1922

Lou's parents, Mable Elsa Davis and Jesse Llewellyn Butler were married on February 5, 1922 on the Davis family ranch near Haswell, Colorado. A Methodist minister, Reverend Warner, performed the ceremony and their friends Georgia Bryan and George Corwin were maid of honor and best man.

On February 5, 1972, they were honored with a 50th Anniversary Reception hosted by their sons and families.

Mable (69 years) - Jesse (73 years)
50 years of marriage

They were the featured story on the cover of the church bulletin
January 30, 1972

They were announced in the local newspaper
Pueblo Chieftain - January 31, 1972

Mable's sisters came for the party.
front: Mable - Jesse - Augusta
back: Rachel - Marjorie - Florence - Edna - Birdie Bell

In a shiny golden Hallmark book engraved with their names and wedding date (barely visible in the lower right corner), Mable carefully kept a record of all those who attended the party as well as all those who sent or brought gifts. "Golden" gifts were plentiful - including gold towels, gold smocked pillows, a gold bedspread and numerous commemorative gold 50th anniversary plates.

What a joyous day of celebration for Jesse and Mable.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

If This Old House Could Talk

While going through one of Dad's notebooks filled with a variety of memorabilia, I came across some memories he had recorded of his childhood home, told from the perspective of the house itself. Some of this information has already been recorded, but I always get excited when I find something in his own handwriting, such as the floor plan below.

1806 E. 5th Street

Either late 1925 or early 1926 I was occupied by the family Butler – Jesse Llewellyn, Mable Elsa, Louis Edward and Charles Lee. On September 7, 1927 Jesse Eldon joined the family. Mr. Butler was a fireman on the Missouri Pacific Railroad.

My neighbor for many years, the Berrys – 1806 East 5th – owned two lots between us. The Berrys were very old – one man, his wife, and a sister. They needed help with their yard and in the house. Mr. and Mrs. Butler took over the care of their lawn and helped them with transportation to doctors, to the grocery store, etc. Mr. Butler planted a large garden on their lot and shared vegetables with them.
The Berrys willed their property to the Butlers, and they were taken care of until they all passed away in a few years.

The large garden (two lots) provided vegetables for eating and also for canning for use during the winter. When the vegetables were ripe, the canning project was a major event concerning the entire family. Eventually they filled the shelves in the basement.
This preservation of food was essential because Mr. Butler's work with the railroad was sporadic, and he was laid off or many months each year until the late ‘30’s. He would find other employment – but would always return to the railroad when they called him back to work.

Floor plan sketched by Dad on notebook paper

When I was built, I had two bedrooms on the east side of my structure with a bathroom in between. The west side was a kitchen and a living room with the front door leading out of the living room onto a porch covered by the roof extending about 10 feet. The porch was the full width of the front of the house.

We added a back porch which added a bedroom on the east side, a hallway to the back door, and on the west side a stairway down to the basement which was only to the hot air furnace which was installed at this time with a coal stoker and a coal bin.

The three boys had been sleeping on one bed and were getting bigger – so Lou was moved to the new bedroom

May 26, 1934 another boy was added to my house. Soon thereafter the parents’ bedroom was extended north and took half of the porch space providing room for a crib, etc.

North bedroom addition - left side of house

Mr. Butler agreed with a man who asked to do the work of extending the bedroom. They agreed on a price which included that the man would provide the materials. He came back and asked to be paid first so he would have the money to buy the materials. He got the money and was never seen again. So Mr. Butler had to finish it himself as the man had removed the north wall of the bedroom so it was exposed to the outside!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

More about Johnny

We were introduced to Johnny Aguirre, and then learned a little about his entrepreneuring ways. Now we get the rest of the story.

Service Station - 1955
photo courtesy of flickr

Firestone Service Station The filling station attendant started to service a car when he heard the cash register clang and he saw a small boy run out of the office and north on Routt Avenue. He yelled for another employee to finish his job, and he took off after the boy.

Johnny ran to the corner and then through the schoolyard and over the fence, down the alley between Routt and Spruce. Part way down the alley he climbed up on another fence and looked to see the man chasing him.

As the man got close, Johnny jumped down into the yard. The man jumped over the fence only to come face to face with a great big dog! So he quickly climbed back up on the fence and looked across the yard. There was Johnny sitting on top of the fence on the other side of the yard, with a big smile on his face! Johnny dropped down on the other side and disappeared.

Zenith Royal 500B Radio - 1956
photo courtesy of flickr

Johnny found a Radio
One day Johnny had a real nice little radio at school. I asked him where he got it and he said he found it in the alley between Northern Avenue and Jones Avenue, near the bridge over the railroad tracks.

Out of curiosity I asked him to show me where he found it. In the alley the stores in Bessemer run right back to the alley with unfinished brick walls on the alley. He took me part way down the alley and reached up about 3 to 4 feet high and removed a brick. There was a space behind the brick and that is where he “found” the radio.

I thought it was a nice place to hide things, especially “loot” which could not be taken home!

Pullman in Pueblo Colorado - 1955
photo courtesy of flickr

Jungle Hideout

On many occasions Johnny would not go home at night. The next morning his sister (who was 12 years older than he) would call the school to see if he was at school. Sometimes he would come to school after being out in “the jungle” all night. He was always dirty and smelled like the campfire he would have had going. Sometimes he would get food from home or steal some, and so he wasn’t always hungry.

After this happened a few times, his sister would call me in the evening and I would go look for him; usually I would not find him. I would always go to his “jungle hideout” first. This was a wooded area over by where the railroad tracks go to the steel mill. It was all cleared out when they extended I-25 highway through the area. It was a hobo jungle and I am sure that he conned many of them into feeding him at times. He probably took them things that he had pilfered from the nearby stores. If that were to happen today, I would fear for his life!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

. . . untiring, devoted leadership

Program from Pueblo Stake Conference
January 16, 1983

After serving as Stake President for nine years, Lou was released in January of 1983. The following thoughts he jotted on note cards were the framework for his talk in conference that morning.

One of the notecards

"What a great blessing and honor it is to serve the Lord.

King Benjamin - only way to serve the Lord is to serve His children.

The automatic blessings that come to your family from service to the Lord will astound you.

In all of these opportunities to serve come so many friends. Assume that people always do what they think is best at the time. And remember that they are all children of our Heavenly Father.

One of the great blessings of serving is the fact that you become a member of a team of men and/or women who bring out the very best in you. Strive to be worthy and available to be a member of one of these teams.

"Our heartfelt thanks to you, President Butler!"

Thursday, February 5, 2009

David Eldon Butler

David Eldon Butler
born 6 August 1948

Just less than a month after Eldon's death, his son David Eldon Butler was born. Susan was living in California, but took David to see his Butler grandparents in Colorado that fall.

David and Susan
Fall, 1948

Grandma Mable (reflected in mirror) - David
Fall, 1948

When David was about a year old, Susan married Rolland Flemons. Rolland adopted David and his name was changed to David Lynn Flemons. For a few years, Susan continued to visit in Colorado on occasion, so David spent time with his Butler Grandparents.

David at Grandma and Grandpa Butler's house
Summer, 1952

David reading with Uncle Lou
Summer, 1952

David - maybe 10 years old
undated photo

Flemons Family - 1959
Debbie - Rolland - David
Terry (front)

Susan later married Gerald McKenzie and David's last name was changed to McKenzie.

McKenzie Family - 1962
Terry - David - Gerald - Susan - Kammy - Debbie

David - high school senior

David graduated from UCLA in 1970 with a Bachelor's Degree in History. In 1973 he received his Juris Doctorate Degree from the University of San Diego and was admitted to the California Bar in 1973.

He learned to fly with the Camp Pendleton Flying Club in 1977, and over the next 20 years owned or had partnership interests in several small planes. He moved to Haines, Alaska about 1995.

David died in a plane crash in Alaska. The following is taken from a letter written by David's mother, Susan, to Lou in June of 1999:

He crashed May 2, 1999. They had Search and Rescue teams for 8 days. They had a memorial for him in Alaska and California.

Dave loved Alaska. So he was really doing what he wanted the last few years. And actually, Dave had said that when it was his time he wanted to go in PAPA (his plane) and fast. So that was what happened. So that's a pretty good thing, to go the way you prefer.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

" . . . I haven't much time"

Eldon "barbering"
June 1948

After getting married, Eldon attended Moler Barber School and after a short time looking for a job, began working as a barber. The following excerpts from letters to his parents, give some interesting history about wages and opportunities at that time.

Undated, but approximately February or March, 1948
I know it's been a long time since I wrote to you but I've been ashamed to face you, even in a letter. You put me through 13 years of school, 9 months of Barbering & now I don't have a job. I feel terrible and can't seem to do anything about it. . . . Waiting is harder than working. I do want to Barber & if I can just hold out I'm sure something will present itself for me. Thanks for the 2 dollars as we have budgeted ourselves too close this week & were afraid we wouldn't be able to stay away from the Baby Bank. We will make it tho and I have confidence that the Lord will answer our prayers.

May 19, 1948

My 20 pay insurance [?] costs 80 cents every 2 weeks & I get $500 back in 20 years so use tip money for insurance. Including tips & commission I bring in an average of $40 a week so we really feel good. Barbering is just what I needed. I work about 4 hours a day at present and wait 6 hours.
I'm getting better & pretty soon will be able to compete with Mom and Aunt Florence. Seriously tho, it's pretty hard to satisfy the average man. My boss has taught me more about barbering, shaving & all than Moler college did. He is a swell man & gives me all the help I need in every way I'd need it. I cut Dr. Towndsend's hair twice now & hope to have a steady customer. I have worked 9 weeks now & have about 63 more weeks to go before I take my master barber test.

We still owe 27 dollars on doctor & hospital bills then the Baby will be paid for in advance. [Baby was due in August.] We have about $165 in the bank now & want to make it one thousand as soon as possible The first $1000 is supposed to be the hardest - the rest comes easy. We have a "Hit & Miss" budget. We try to hit the bank every week, but miss sometimes.

On March 29, 1948 I received a letter from Eldon. He was very excited about his stake missionary work. It was the last letter I received from him prior to his death.

On July 9, 1948 Eldon was killed in a car accident in Los Angeles, California. He had been married 11 months, and Susan was expecting their first child. My parents flew to Los Angeles immediately, and the next day Chuck, Pinkie, Leona and I drove there.

Newspaper report of Eldon's death

Telegrams of condolence sent to Jess & Mable

Eldon's funeral program

Perhaps Eldon had a sense that his life would be short - Mable recorded in the back of Eldon's baby book:
Mother's Day - 1947
Mother, I have to get married and start my family for I haven't much time.

Susan, don't you carry on when I go & tell Mother too. You know where I'm going & what the gospel means to me.