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!