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.