Sunday, December 19, 2010

. . . so many wonderful memories

A request to the Davis grandchildren for Christmas memories brought several responses.  These are from Alice Bell Higgs.

I have so many wonderful memories of Grandma and Grandpa Davis I hardly know where to start.  
Early style Cracker Jack box
One Christmas I remember we went to Haswell and to the ranch and Grandma Davis had made a bushel basket of Cracker Jacks.  I have tried to make some for my kids and I end up with a whole bunch of very soggy popcorn not even the birds would eat!

 She also had saved a lot of spools and made whistles for all of us.  
I've never been able to make those either.

 One time she was making taffy for us to help pull, and Hubert was just tall enough to reach up and put his fingers into that hot candy.  Grandma grabbed him up and sent one of the boys to the shop for a small can of kerosene.  She sat and rocked that baby with his fingers in that kerosene until he went to sleep.  Grandma always knew what to do.  I guess when you raise 14 kids you have to!  I don't remember if we made the taffy.

Alice Bell and others sent more memories that I will share in future posts.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving on the Davis Ranch

Lou - 7 years old - 1930

One of my earliest memories of a Thanksgiving was at Grandpa and Grandma Davis’ ranch. We arrived on the day before Thanksgiving and everything was very exciting as families began arriving; it was great fun to greet them as they came in.

We could spot the cars as they came down the dirt road several minutes before they would arrive. Everyone looked forward to seeing the cousins, aunts and uncles. Many of them we had not seen since the previous Christmas or Thanksgiving.

After supper Grandpa would get out the cards and the men would play “High Five.” They would laugh and joke and rib one another about things in the past. I loved to watch them play, and once in a while they would need one more player at one of the tables and I would get to play.  

During one game, Uncle Johnny was shuffling the cards and they scattered all over the table and some on the floor. He was laughing about it and said, “Man, I need a basket to corral all of these cards! Louis, run out and get me a basket.”  I didn’t know what he meant – but I knew I wanted to help, so I ran out into the yard and got him a basket! For many years – if anyone dropped the cards, they would yell for me to go get them a basket.

Early Thanksgiving morning the women would be in Grandma’s huge kitchen getting both breakfast and preparing the dinner. The men and boys would be eating and then going outside where they were getting ready to go coyote hunting.

Uncle Johnny, who lived on the ranch, would be getting the two greyhounds ready and most of the men were getting their guns ready. They would be talking about previous years’ hunting experiences and comparing guns and ammunition.

Some of the men, mostly the ones who lived on or close to the Davis Ranch or those who lived on or near the Harriman Ranch in Fowler, had “coyote cars or pickups.” They took great pride in having these tuned up to get a quick start and to be able to go over rough prairie lands. They preferred vehicles in which they could stand in the back and shoot over the cab while the vehicle was going full speed. The coyote cars also had to be able to turn very sharply and double back whenever the coyote felt they were getting too close to him.
Can you imagine what it is like in the back of a pickup (with sideboards) when three or four men are all trying to remain standing, aiming their guns at the coyote when he decides to stop and go the other way? The driver jams on the brakes and cranks the steering wheel around to follow the coyote. Men have been known to be thrown out onto the prairie grass and cactus plants and then roll over and over trying to stop! Clark Harriman rolled out once and they spent hours picking the cactus out of him! For some reason the wives are very much against their husbands taking the family car coyote hunting!

By noon the hunters would return and the big Thanksgiving dinner would be ready. The tables would be set up all over the house for the meal. After the meal the dishes were taken to the kitchen and the card games would begin again.

What will your children and grandchildren remember about Thanksgiving holidays?

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Guess who celebrated 85 years today?

Flowers, pies and balloons make a great celebration.
(And a cute great grandson in the background doesn't hurt.)

Happy Birthday, Mom!

and may you have as many more as you want.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Rachel Caroline Davis

Rachel Caroline Davis
14th child of Harker and Della Davis
born:  7 November 1915 - Haswell, Colorado
died:  4 January 1982 - Pueblo, Colorado

Rachel about 3 years old

With nephew Delbert Butler and son, Richard Steele

With children Janet Freeland, Earl Freeland, and Richard Steele - circa 1945

Rachel and Carl Freeland

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

School of Choice

Because the Davis family lived so far out in the country, getting the children to school was an ongoing challenge.  Obviously Harker and Della were committed to education, and they tried a variety of school settings in their efforts to allow their children to gain an education.

Birdie - School was quite a problem.  The first winter [after moving to Kendrick] it was decided that Mother and all the children would move to Pueblo [about 90 miles away] for the winter and attend school.  

Birdie's simple statement doesn't really do justice to the challenging situation this would have been.  At this time there were 7 children in the family.  The four oldest - Birdie (12), Norman (9), Augusta (8), and Floyd (6) went to school.  The younger ones - Lemuel (4), Mable (3), and Garnons (1 1/2) kept their mother Della busy at home, and Johnny was born in October of that year.  No phones or email would have made communication with Harker who had stayed on the ranch, slow and infrequent, and I suppose he was only able to visit on rare occasions.

Norman - . . . Dad moved us all to Pueblo for school.  It was a 90 mile move.  Dad rented a town house [a house in town, as opposed to the country].  It was a new experience for us country kids, and we had lots of new experiences.  For one thing, I was run home from school every night by a gang of bullies.  Birdie had to take my part [defend me] lots of times.  One night Dad happened to be there, and was cleaning the barn in the alley when he saw those big toughies chasing Floyd and I.  I had picked up a wire with a bolt tied to the end and was swinging it around and around over my head to keep them off.  As we neared the barn, Dad stepped out and invited the boys to come on, one at a time, and he would see a fair fight.  But the boys very quietly slipped away.

Johnny was born in October, so there was another one to take home in the spring when Dad came for us.  The moving was a big task as the children were too small to be a big help, and Mother was far from well.  Birdie worried a great deal about it.  But dad had to hurry to get the moving over as lambing time was close at hand.

Next they tried a neighborhood school:

Birdie - The winter of 1907 we drove to school. Mr. Deming/Denning had two children ready to go, so he and Daddy hired a teacher, and he taught us in a nice two room cottage just east of the Deming residence.  It was five miles for us to drive, but we had a nice two seat spring wagon and a team of little bay mares to drive.

This arrangement didn't work out so well.  The Demings were well to do people, and their children had everything and were spoiled terribly by Grandpa and Grandma who lived with them.  One day Grandpa did the washing as usual and had the lines full of white sheets.  We were out playing baseball at noon, and Ned got mad at Floyd and picked up a ball of mud and threw it at Floyd who ran into the school house; Ned's mud hit a sheet.  He ran in to tell his Grandpa that Floyd threw the mud on his sheet.  The old man was short and pudgy; here he came on the prance, mad and talking as fast as he ran.  He called Floyd a nasty name and said there was always a black sheep in every family, and he was the one in our family.  This made me mad, so we hitched up our team and all went home and told our daddy.  Well, Daddy took me and back we went to see what the rumpus was all about.  After some time Daddy said he never had caught me in a lie, and if I said Floyd didn't do it, he knew he didn't.  The old man apologized, and we went to school the rest of that year, but I never felt just right toward the old man again.

School transportation was also an issue while living on the plains. 

Norman - I well remember when Richard was born, April 1907.  At that time we were going to school at Denning's and driving old Roanie.  Although it was April, we left school that day in a storm.  It was snowing and blowing so we could hardly see where we were going.  About half way home, we could no longer see the road, but Roanie knew where he was going, and he plodded right along.  When we got home we felt nearly frozen. The hired man took charge of the horse, and we went in the house and saw the new baby. 

Private school was the last hope, but obviously the children were not happy with the teacher.  

 Birdie - The next year Daddy built a little one-room cement house and hired a teacher who was proving up on a homestead by the Post Office.  He had no transportation so some of us went for him Sunday evening and took him back Friday evening.  We put a folding bed and a dresser in the school room so he slept out there, but ate with us.  We kept him for two years.  By that time I could hardly tolerate him.  He began to feel like he owned the place and was so attentive to me, wiping dishes, setting the table, just always in the way. 

Mable - [In Kendrick] Daddy built us a school house, and we were taught by Mr. Wiley.  He was single and didn't care for a very curious little girl, so I got spanked every day.  If I could see him today, I'd kick him on the shins! 

Undated, unlabeled picture of some of the Davis girls.

After this, Harker decided his family needed more social life and a better school situation.  He had a chance to sell the ranch and all the sheep, so it let it all go.


Friday, October 29, 2010

Was that in the job description?

15 March 1985 - We usually get here to the Institute building by 8:00 a.m. and then at 11:30 we go get some lunch and take care of errands and are back by 1:00 p.m.  Then we usually have just a sandwich or a bowl of soup or something light for supper here at the Institute, and then we go home around 10:30 - 11:30 p.m.  In between times, we manage to keep busy being very poor janitors, bookkeepers, and host/hostess.  We have most of the time to ourselves in the morning, and only a few kids now and then in the afternoon on school days.

15 March 1985 - Mary L. got a letter Thursday that if she had her application in by today, Friday at 4:00 p.m. she could have a job with General Motors in Oklahoma City this summer.  So she asked if we would we pick her up at 5 a.m. and take her to the Kansas City Airport so she could get home in time to get this job which pays $10/hour.  Leona said we would.

We closed the institute at 10:30 last night and got up at 4:00 this morning and went over to pick up Mary.  But she had gone back to sleep after being called.  We left just before 5:30 and the plane was to leave at 6:40.  We thought we knew where it was, but we didn't.  Needless to say, we missed the plane!  After several calls to her uncle in Oklahoma City, we found out that she didn't have to go down there anyway; she could just mail the stuff in.  So we got back about 10 a.m., went to the trailer and had a nap and lunch.  Then we went back to the Institute in the afternoon.

Leona working her magic with the Bernina

31 January 1986 - A boy that I had never seen before brought a pair of brown pants in.  He was going to start a new job that evening, and he wanted me to take an inch off each side and hem them.  It was already 3:00, and I had to teach a class at 6:00.  I told him that I didn't have any brown thread, so he told me to use black.  My black thread was gone too, so he said for me to use blue.  I used my blind hemmer, so they did get hemmed, but the stitch was terrible.  The thread could be pulled out like a basting stitch, so I told him not to catch his toe in the hem!  There's another pair of pants here that I've go to take some out of the waist.  I don't know why these kids don't buy things to fit.  They don't seem to understand or care that I don't know how to do these things.  [That attitude] is catching too.  When Lou broke the zipper in his jacket he just gave it to me to put a new zipper in it.  I can remember the day when I would have taken it some place and had it done . . .

8 February 1986 -We have been trying not to get the flu and sore throat that almost everybody in Lawrence has had.  It has really made a lot of the Indian kids sick, but they keep coming in.  It's a wonder the authorities don't get me for dispensing medicine without a license.  The students go to the med center down the street, and then they are afraid to take the medicine they are given.  So they ask me for salt to gargle with, throat spray, aspirin, and cough drops.  They only use the throat spray once, because they don't like the taste, but I had to start buying cheaper cough drops so I could afford to share them.  Amelia has been asking for them for three weeks, and she's still sick.  I must not be much of a doctor!

Helping Madonna learn to sew
14 February 1986 - This day has not gone as I had planned it.  I had it all figured out on paper by 8:00 this morning.  I was going to make Valentine cookies to serve tonight,m take the hood off of Molly's coat and get a hair cut.  By the time we bought pop (8 cases) at the Food Barn, bought candy bars (20 packages) at Wal-Mart, mailed some things at the Post Office, ran some things off at Kinko's, and bought my dancer pads at the shoe cobbler's, I was out of steam.

". . . when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, 
ye are only in the service of your God." 
Mosiah 2: 17

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Nursing duty

 15 March 1985 - Tuesday morning we took Ethelyn to the KU Medical Center Hospital in Kansas City and got her admitted for the purpose of patching her right ear drum which had been 1/3 eaten away.  She was really scared.

When we were getting her admitted to the hospital, we had to help her a lot with the many questions they asked her, but when we got her up to her room and the nurse started asking her another series of questions, it got rather difficult.  When she said she didn't know what the nurse meant by "When did you have your last bowel movement?" Leona just sat there, and the nurse and I had a heck of a time explaining that one to her!  When we left her at 12:30 as we had to get back to the Institute, she started to cry - 21 years old and never been in a hospital before.  She had a TV and a private room, Leona bought her some magazines, and she was in no pain, but was just scared of this strange new world she was in.  It sure looked good to us, all that quiet and an opportunity to relax and sleep!

We hurried back over to the institute - about 40 miles away.  About 6:30 she called to say that she just felt like crying and wanted to talk to us, so I talked to her (collect call) for a while and reassured her that all would be well.  Surgery was to be the next morning at 10:00.

Ethelyn in May, 1986 -- she survived the surgery!
At 8:15 a.m. the next day, I got another collect call from the hospital - 1 hour and 30 minutes until operating time and, "I'm scared."  So we talked for about 15 minutes.  The surgery went well.  In the evening, Leona took her sister over to the hospital and visited her.  Ethelyn said that whenever she got scared and wanted to cry, she just said a prayer and everything got better.  She came home about 9:00 on Thursday.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

We're in the right place

Lou teaching Institute Class
 4 November 1985 - I'm always studying for our institute classes now.  We each teach one at Haskell and one at the KU (University of Kansas) Institute.  We really only prepare two lessons a week, but it keeps us busy.  I only prepare Relief Society in addition to that.  Lou always does the Family Home Evening lesson.  Of course I do games and songs, and I have to be ready for that.

Leona sitting in on Lou's class
8 February 1986 - Our institute classes went well this week.  We picked up one more student, and we have a chance to pick up four more this week.  We never really know [who will come] until they show up, and then from week to week we wonder if they will keep coming.  Right now we have ten who seldom miss.  For Haskell, that is really good. In fact, according to people around here, it may never have happened before.
Haskell Institute Class
 21 February 1986 - We have fifteen in our Haskell class now.  It's really great to have that many kids coming.  I had such a good feeling  - a sense of accomplishment I guess - when the class was over.  One of our problems is that the students don't understand a lot of terminology.  One of the more vocal girls asked what I meant by "iniquity."  If all the kids would ask, I wouldn't worry.  I'm sure Dad does a better job of explaining than I do.  We just about have to start out with the idea that they know nothing [about the Gospel] and take it from there.  However, when  new student comes into the class, then we realize how much the others have learned.  After an experience like last night, we know we're in the right place and doing the thing we ought to be doing.

10 September 1986 - We thought the new Catholic Center would take some of our kids, but they're concerned because they are not having many kids.  Lisa said that Father John is wondering what they are doing wrong.  I guess our popcorn is better!  We have twenty-four kids enrolled in our New Testament class, and we're still growing.

Leona studying
20 February 1987 - I spent most of yesterday getting ready for my institute lesson.  My lesson was on Galatians.  I read it through the first time, and it didn't seem like much.  Then I started reading the institute manual and Paul's Life and Letters, a symposium book on the New Testament, and found out it was a very interesting lesson!  I'm really enjoying reading the writings of Paul.  I'm just beginning to appreciate what a great man he was.  I can understand why we are told to read our scriptural reference three times before we give the lesson.

". . . teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness . . ., 
to love one another and serve one another." 
Mosiah 4: 15

Friday, October 15, 2010

"Willful" Aunt Sadie

In about 1903, one of Della's sisters came to live with the Davis family.  Sadie must have seemed very glamorous to the Davis children who were growing up in a large family on the Colorado plains.  She was just 7 years old when her mother died and had been living with another sister, Cannie.  Moving to the ranch must have been a real shock to Sadie as the contrast in lifestyles was evident even to 10 year old Birdie.

Birdie - Aunt Sadie Schafer, one of Mother's sisters, came to visit us about this time.  She was fifteen, very nice looking and real well dressed.  She had lived with her other sister in Raton, New Mexico ever since her mother died.  She became willful, and Aunt Cannie couldn't handle her (so we learned later) so they sent her to live with us.   I remember the day Daddy brought her home.  She was dressed so nice and had such good luggage and carried a new banjo.  We children really thought Aunt Cannie must be a real rich person to give her so much.  She stayed three years and ran off with a boyfriend and went back to Aunt Cannie.

Norman - Aunt Sadie Schafer was sent to live with us as her sister, Aunt Cannie, was having trouble with her.  At 15 years of age she had a mind of her own and was not easily directed.  After two or three years, she took off with her boyfriend and never came back, though we did hear from  her occasionally.

I love the descriptions - "willful" and "not easily directed."  Obviously she was a handful for her sisters!  But I wonder what life was like for 7 year old Sadie when her mother died.   I can't really imagine how lonely and displaced she would have felt when she went to live with her sister even though her father was still living.  I wonder how hard it was for all of them (Aunt Cannie was just 23) to adjust to the new family situation.  

I'd sure like to read her journal . . .

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Have you any wool?

With the addition of two more children, Mable Elsa - born 20 July 1902 and Garnons Hughes - born 12 January 1904, Grandpa Davis decided to change his line of work from farming to raising sheep.  Note that as the oldest daughter, Birdie was very aware of the details of the living conditions and household responsibilities.  Norman was much more involved in the work of handling a sheep ranch.  More about that later.

Birdie - With doctor bills and so much expense, Daddy thought he had to get into more money than farming, so he sold the homestead and bought a place a Kendrick, Colorado where he could run sheep. He had bought a few sheep already, but really went into the sheep business and bought two bands. We had to start all over again to build a home. There was only a two room shack on this place besides some sheds and corrals. There was a well in the creek and long trough to water the sheep. It was a hand chain pump deal and we kids had to see that the trough was full of water when the sheep came in. In the evening we also had to help the herders pump the water until both bands were watered.

As I mentioned, the house was a shack of two rooms. These became our kitchen and dining room. Lumber had to be bought from Calhan, Colorado and hauled to add on to the shack. Through a busy summer and herding sheep they finally completed four bedrooms which were built on the north side.

We were ten miles from the Post Office and a little store run by Mr. and Mrs. John Mortimer. It was five miles to the nearest neighbor (the only neighbor.) These were busy days, lonely days and trying days, for the only entertainment was made by the family. Mother hardly ever went to town. I was only 12 and with chores, cooking and care of six children to be responsible for, she couldn’t see herself leaving over night. There can be lots of things happen to that size family in 24 hours. Rattlesnakes were plentiful, too. We never went out with the sheep without a hoe or long stick to kill them with. We never wanted any to get away.

All our trading was done at Calhan which was 30 miles away. It took two days to make the trip for groceries, coal and lumber. It was only made about once a month after we got our lumber to build. We bought everything by the case, 100 pounds of sugar, oatmeal and flour by the 500#. We made all our own clothes so yards and yards of print and overall denim for boys’ jeans and jackets. I went with Daddy most of the time; though I was only 12 I could help make some of the choices. One time when Daddy went to town alone, he came home with a big box of shoes – all sizes, boys and girls – it was all the odds and ends the store had. All of us picked one pair of shoes and the rest were kept for later use. It was an exciting time.

One of our biggest chores was to haul water to the house. On wash day especially it was a big chore, and another big water hauling day too was Saturday, for each had to have their Saturday night bath. We did have a power washing machine run by gas motor. One time when it was real cold Mother let too much gas fumes come back into the house and we all got sick. She had put the exhaust pipe out the window and the wind blew it back into the house.

Norman - With the increased responsibilities Dad began to realize he had to do something more for a living, so knowing the sheep business, he decided to try that. He knew a man by the name of Matheson who lived somewhere east of Limon, Colorado. Dad went to see him, and made a deal to buy a thousand old ewes, on time.

Our house was only a two room affair, and much too small for the growing family.  Dad took the lumber wagon with a four horse team and made a two day trip to town and brought back lumber and supplies to build on badly needed bedrooms.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Why I've been AWOL

I didn't take a month off just for vacation. . . I didn't ignore the piles and files of family pictures just to read a novel. . . I didn't miss birthdays just to be mean (Happy belated, Lou, Jr.!) . . . I didn't neglect the family history just because the weather was nice . . .  and I didn't abandon this blog just because I felt like it.  

But we've been busy around here.

After an unexpected hospital stay at the end of August, Leona left her townhouse and moved a mile down the street to a new home with me and Don.  We've all been busy sorting, purging, packing, unpacking, saving, giving away, and generally settling in to our new surroundings.  Finally, Leona's beautiful pictures are hung, her clock (although not yet on the wall) is chiming down the hall, and the pile of boxes to be processed is dwindling.  

I think I'm about settled enough to return to the blogging world.  Check back soon!

Friday, September 3, 2010

We have a lot of kids in here

 A glimpse into the daily routine at the Institute Building.  It sounds exhausting to me!

3 October 1984 - We spent the last two Saturdays over at the Topeka Stake Center with Haskell's two volleyball teams.  We give them breakfast here at the institute building and then buy their lunch at Burger King after the games.  We took 1st and 2nd place in the Stake Tournament and will play in another tournament on October 20.  The kids really have enjoyed it, and they are looking forward to basketball season, both a girls' team and a boys' team.

It could be a late night - they've just started!

Group activity on the keyboard

 4 November 1985 - It's after 10:00 right now, and we should be closed, but they're watching football on TV.  There are also kids working a puzzle, playing the keyboard, playing Asteroids, and playing pool.  Two boys just came in and asked me to get them some pop.  We sell 25 cent pop and candy bars.  Since pop is 50 cents in the dorm, we have a big business.  It brings a lot of kids in, and I guess that's what we're supposed to do.

Asteroids expert
31 January 1986 - It is 4:30 in the afternoon, and we have a lot of kids in here.  There's always somebody playing asteroids and somebody waiting to play Asteroids.  There are also some kids playing pool, and somebody playing the keyboard.  Several come over and watch TV every afternoon -- "Benson," "The Jeffersons," "Three's Company."  Some of the girls come over earlier and watch their soap operas.  I have to get out so I won't get hooked on them.  They do look interesting!

 The kids are watching Johnny Lingo.  I can just about recite it because I've seen it so often.  I still enjoy it.  Of course, I had hoped that someone would turn to the "Wheel of Fortune."  I still like game shows.  I don't watch them anymore than I did when I taught school.

I wonder how many pounds of popcorn she popped in three years . . .
 16 February 1986 - Church is over, and I'm a little bit ahead on popping corn, so I'll write awhile.  I'm over in a corner, so maybe everybody will go to Lou when they need something.  There's a video on that I really enjoy - "Man From Snowy River."  I've seen different parts of it at least two dozen times, and I still enjoy it.  Well, I've already had to pop more corn and sell pop and candy.  Lou must have found a better corner.  He's probably in playing pool or Asteroids.  I'm afraid the way we keep the Sabbath Day holy leaves something  to be desired!  These kids have come a long way, but we still need to work on our Sunday evenings.  They're just better off in here than in other things they find to do.

Skating like a pro

I get by with a little help from my friends!

2 March 1987 - Friday evening we took eleven of our kids over to Manhattan to the Stake Young Adult party.  They played games at the institute and then went ice skating.  Some had never skated before.  They really had fun.  Jeff said he rode two hours just to get his "butt" wet.  It kind of bothered those kids who are really good at several sports to be such novices at ice skating.

". . . and they did fellowship one with another . . . and did have great joy."  
Helaman 6:4

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Getting to know you

December 1984
 30 August 1984 - We are beginning to get to know the students who come over to the institute pretty well, at least on a first name basis.  We usually have 15 or 20 of them in during the evening, and they visit, read, listen to the stereo, and play ping-pong and pool.  They are very friendly.  They are dressed in casual clothes, running shorts, and tee shirts.  They are not real fancy clothes, but always clean.  So far, even in some rather exciting games, we have yet to hear a cuss word among them.  As is so typical of us, we seem to have a lot more boys than girls, though there are some girls. 

at Institute Graduation - April, 1995

Some of the girls asked Leona if we would teach them to slow dance and wanted to know what it was like to be married so long!

3 October 1984 - We now have 43 members coming in fairly regularly and about 30 non-members, but a few of our members we have yet to meet.  Mother is going in to pop popcorn for the evening since she and some of the girls are going over to the Lawrence Ward for a Relief Society meeting.  The girls are really taking to Mom now and are coming to see her a lot about everything.

Leona and girls after a pie baking activity - February 1987
30 October 1984 - I'm certainly having trouble getting the words on paper.  There's a stereo blaring behind me and the ball bouncing in front of me.  I'm amazed at our tolerance level where music is concerned.  I even go around singing, "Purple Rain -- Purple Rain."  I can almost tell who is in the lounge by the music on the stereo.  If I hear country-western, I know that Cora or Lana are around.  I really enjoy country western, but some of the lyrics embarrass me if there are a lot of students around!  

14 February 1986 - Dad's barber really cuts his hair short.  The other night we were talking to Darlene and Lorraine.  I said I needed to get a haircut.  Darlene said, "You don't need a haircut."  I assured her I did, because my hair was too long.  Lorraine said, "Well, I guess we'll hae two bald heads around here instead of one.

16 February 1986 - I just went over to the house and got a wire hanger for a boy who locked his keys in his car.  I sure do hope he has a car!

Institute girls - October 1984
Molly Yazzie and Kaye Begay went with us to a fireside.  They always wear dresses to church now.  I never thought dresses would look so good!  Most of my girls still wear blue jeans.

 ". . . wilt thou make thyself known unto me . . ." 
Alma 22:18

Friday, August 27, 2010

School Days

Birdie - When I was ready for school I had to go to the “Lone Star” school which was three miles southwest of our place. Daddy bought a little high-spirited pony, and I rode horseback for three years. Lots of mornings I would be so cold I couldn’t walk when I’d get there. A boy about 15 years old always was there to build the fire and get the school house warm. Many times he would carry me in and set me by the stove, and if it was stormy he would get my pony and put me on her to go home at night. There were 7 kids riding horseback to school, only two going my way, but we did enjoy it when it wasn’t too cold.

Uncle Jim and gotten married by now, and Aunt Fern was sure I’d get hurt riding that pony. No wonder she worried, for we would go by her home on a dead run, dinner pails rattling and girls giggling, talking and yelling like three little Indians.

After I went three years horseback, Norman was ready for school, so Daddy bought a cart and we drove to school two years. Then Augusta (born 5 August 1897) was ready to go. She had to sit down front in a basket at our feet. We had one gate to go through if we went by Uncle Jim’s place. This particular evening we had to give Uncle Jim a note from Daddy, so we went that way. Norman opened the gate, but he couldn’t shut it, so I got out to help him and the pony started off on a trot. We couldn’t run fast enough to catch her, so we told Gusta to jump out. What did she do? She threw out lunch pails, quilts and everything else in the cart before she jumped out! So besides walking on home, we had all those things to carry. Imagine three unhappy tired children lugging all that down the road. When the pony arrived home without her passengers Mother sent Uncle Jack back to pick us up and were we ever glad

Norman - As time went on there were three of us going to school. Birdie, as the eldest, was our driver, and things do happen! [One time we had] a broken buggy shaft by bumping a cow that was too gentle to move out of the way. [Another time] there was a barbed wire gate to pass through. It was tight and hard to close. Augusta was too small to be of much help, so I had to call on Birdie. Augusta was left in the buggy. The horse became impatient to get started and headed for home while we were shutting the gate. Birdie shouted to Augusta to get out. She did, but first she emptied out the robes, dinner pails and books. So we were loaded as we started to trudge home. When the horse and empty buggy got to Uncle Jim’s place, he turned it around and came back and got us.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Farming on the Colorado Prairie

Raising, feeding and caring for 13 children living on the Colorado prairie, Della and Harker Davis experienced long days of hard work.  The responsibilities of the home and children fell to Della, and Harker took his commitment to provide a living for his family very seriously. Circumstances required that the children work alongside the adults whenever possible - even planting potatoes!

Antique potato planter probably similar to the one used by Grandpa Davis.

Norman - One year Dad put in 80 acres of potatoes. The potatoes for planting were cut in quite large pieces, so they would provide moisture to start the plant along, and each piece must have at least one eye. A potato planter in those days was made either as a sled with a V-shaped plow effect, or with wheels and the same sort of plow. The person doing the planting had a seat, and a large box containing the potatoes to be planted.

Horse drawn potato planter

The year the 80 acres were planted I was still a small boy, but Dad gave me a gentle team with which to work the knife weeder. At the end of the field I turned too short, and somehow the horses became tangled. They took off down the field, turning the knife sled over on me as they went. I managed to escape injury, and the horses were not hurt, though they tangled in the lines and tugs, and one animal was down by the time Dad got there. He was working with another team in the same field, and had seen my difficulty. I remember helping pick up potatoes that fall. There were several pickers, as we hired help.

Seed potatoes with eyes ready to plant
 Birdie - Where the land was plowed for sod, became our field after plowing deeper and working it up. Corn and potatoes were the main crops. Some milo (a grain sorghum) and corn was planted for hay crops. The corn was planted with a hand planter, but potatoes were planted with a riding planter. I rode the horse while Uncle Jim dropped the potatoes one piece at a time down a chute to where a V shaped digger made a ditch in the row. It was a regular nightly chore to have the men bring tubs and a sack of potatoes into the kitchen. We would cut them in pieces, each piece having at least one eye. This done, we went to bed knowing the next day’s planting was ready for us. This was the order of the day for a week or so, for we planted several acres of potatoes which were taken to Colorado Springs and Cripple Creek to exchange for apples or groceries for winter use.

We also raised beef and pork which was butchered and taken to market. Several trips were made each winter. Sometimes we were able to get a load of coal from Canon City which was used in our cook stove and a large heater.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Family Home Evening . . . continued

Reminder - Monday nights are reserved for Family Home Evening
 4 November 1985 - Our FHE was fun tonight.  Lou read the short story "The High Place" by the Yorgasons.  Then he talked about "asking" when they need something and read a few appropriate scriptures.  We sang quite a few fun songs and played a great game.  They love games!  Our refreshments were nachos and Kool-aid.  They love to eat, too!  They put away a gallon of nacho cheese and six pounds of tortilla chips.


Construction zone
 25 December 1985 - Our last family home evening before Christmas vacation was fun.  We made gingerbread houses with graham crackers.  We had icing all over the place.  Even the "macho" boys loved it.  Some of them didn't take the houses home.  I tried to hang them on the tree, but they were so heavy with icing that I could only hang them on the inner heavier branches.

The makings of a village
16 February 1986 - We played a fun game at Family Home Evening last week.  It was called Gangster.  It's dodge ball with a different twist.  You try to hit the gangster.  He has a body guard in the circle with him, and the body guard is supposed to protect him by keeping the ball away from  him.  The gangster can keep away from the ball, but he can't touch it.

". . . how oft have I gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and have nourished you."
3 Nephi 10: 4

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Family Home Evening

Institute bulletin board - January 1986
 30 August 1984 - We had our first Family home evening last Monday night.  We had four girls and seven boys to start out with.  We were really apprehensive as to what they would like to do.  We started out with one of the boys giving the opening prayer, and then Leona started to lead them in some songs out of an Institute book  She felt that was too formal and decided to revert to her Cub Scout and first grade days and taught them to sing "Ravioli."  They really loosened up, and the boys seemed to enjoy it even more than the girls did.  Then she taught them "B-I-N-G-O", and they really enjoyed that.  Then we sang "Down in the Valley" and "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" and then I gave the lesson - a very short one.  I told them the old Scoutmaster's Minute story of the farmhand who could sleep on a windy night, and related that to being constantly prepared for their tests here at Haskell.  Then I referred back to the parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25: 1-13) and their need for preparation.  Then we played "Matthew, Mark, Luke and John."  They really seemed to have a good time, and a friend of one of our members asked when we were going to do it again.  So, I guess we got by okay.  The cinnamon rolls Leona made and the punch and the dip and chips were well accepted also!

Refreshment time!
30 October 1984 - We weren't too happy about our Family Home Evening last night.  We had a very small group for the opening and lesson.  They then all start coming in for the games, and by refreshment time the whole gang's there.  I'm afraid I know what they have a testimony of.  I wish I knew how to combat it.  Lou and I plot and plan, but we still reach most of them with food only.

Playing "Old Plug"

Game time

 19 November 1984 - I've been planning our Family Home Evening.  It is so hard to choose games.  Some students want "wild" games, and some want quiet games.  It's not unusual to start a game with 5 and end up with 20.  The ranks swell to 40 when the refreshments come out.

Dad does an excellent job on the lesson.  He makes them up 'from scratch' and presents them so well.  I told him he should publish them when we're through.  He has a neat one planned this evening using the analogy of football plays and the gospel.

In these posts about Haskell, Lou's comments are in blue, and Leona's in maroon

Monday, August 16, 2010

Kona Kai update

Balcony view

I just found more pictures of the Kona Kai apartments.  

Check them out on this post - The Kona Kai Oasis.  Click on the pictures to make them bigger.


Friday, August 13, 2010

By way of explanation. . .

New arrivals - September, 1984
 Louis and Leona served as Church Service Personnel at Haskell Indian Junior College from August 1984 - May 1987.  They were at Haskell during the school year and then returned home during the summer for some much needed breaks.  Those three years were very rewarding, but very busy, as they were the spiritual leaders, activity directors, counselors, chauffeurs, cooks, and tailors to the LDS students at the junior college. They stayed up late, got up early, popped more popcorn than we can imagine, and even hosted at least one wedding!

During their time, Dad kept an extensive journal and took countless pictures (think 4 notebooks full!) to document the details - the highs and lows of their service.  Needless to say, I won't be posting all of that here.  Most of the material for these blog posts will be excerpts from letters they wrote home, with enough pictures mixed in to give an overview of their experience at Haskell.  Remember, this was the 80's and the pictures will prove it.  You're going to love them!

In addition to the Haskell experience,  I'll continue telling the Davis family history.  I plan to alternate these two stories on a weekly basis, so if you get tired of one, just wait a week and the other will show up.