Interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin, March 2003
C. You have a museum in your barn? How did you happen to get that started?
F. We were surprised at the stupid answers the children were getting from their questions because some of the parents were giving them some answers that were not true. We came home from a trip in which we visited a number of small private museums and thought, “Why not do the same with the old things stored on our place?” We had our chicken coop that was empty. So we said, “Why don’t we put all of this stuff in the chicken coop and fix it up?” So we cleaned it out and we painted the walls in an afternoon. We enjoyed it. This was a three-generation homestead and there was a lot of stuff we could put in there so that’s what we did.
C. Do you have any groups come in now?
F. No, not any more because it was new then and-a well, to tell you the truth about it we don’t do any more extra presentations because we’re getting too old. It’s hard to do it. When we saw busloads of kids coming up the lane we thought, “What on earth?” (laughs) The busloads of kids were 4th and 5th grade students on a one day break just before school closed in the spring. But it worked out very well because they were not allowed to go into the main barn because we knew where the holes in the floor are but they didn’t. But it worked out very well except for a couple kids that, well, how shall I say it?
H. A couple kids in every bunch.
C. Oh yeah, there’s always a few that will try you out.
F. And I think the good thing that I did was at that time there was a couple of women that I asked to come and help me. We arranged the museum like a home at that time. This was the bedroom and this was the kitchen and what impressed me was the glass Easter egg that we had in the museum and they wanted to know what that was. I told them it was pretty, you could keep it. One little girl asked, “Can I break it?” I said, “Oh no, you don’t break that one.” She said, “My Mother always breaks the eggs.” (laughs)
C. What do you people remember about the Depression, anything?
F. Yeah. We didn’t have a good pair of shoes to wear.
C. Yeah, that would leave an impression on you.
F. That was something because my mother bought a pair of shoes and had two girls. Both of them wanted shoes. I think that’s the thing that I remember the most because we didn’t have enough money to buy two pairs of shoes. (stops to cough)
C. Herold, while she’s getting her breath will you tell me something?
H. The thing that comes to mind right now is that it was during the Depression that I went to college. Because the time from when I graduated from high school until I graduated from college was eight years. Everybody thinks you gotta do it in four years. That’s fine if you can do it in four years. I’d go until the money ran out, then I’d go home until we got enough to go back. We’d acquire a little money for the next quarter and I’d go back there again.
C. You had a job?
H. Well no, here. I worked on the farm here. And-a finally after eight years I made it and maybe on the other hand I was rather fortunate because just as, the day that I graduated a job opened up for me. And that was in 1937. Things were pretty tough then yet, so that worked out real good for me.
C. People have different ways of coping, don’t they?
H. Yeah, seems like it.
C. I know there was a family that lived near us; they couldn’t afford to send all four of their children to college so they paid for the oldest to go and when he finished he got a job and paid expenses for the second one’s education, and so on. They worked it back and forth that way until they all got a college education, helping each other.
H. You know today you hear of all kinds of scholarships that are available. They just seem to throw money at you to go to college, but back then there were a few but not very many. I didn’t even apply for any because I didn’t think I could make it anyway. But as I said, I made it so things worked out for me.
F. Then when you have people like our nephews who say, “What took you so long to go through school?” Well, we kept telling them there wasn’t any money then to go to school.
C. I remember my mother making all our clothes. She sewed and sewed on this one coat for me and her back must have hurt her. She sat hunched over at the machine and every once in a while she’d arch her back to rest it. I felt so bad. She finally got it made. It was a lovely coat but I didn’t like it. I wore it though.
H. During the Depression years–now this really doesn’t have much to do with the Depression–but that was about the time that the times were changing from real horse power to mechanical power. It was beginning to come around here about that time and we were able to get along with one team and tractor, where now people seem to think they have to have two or three tractors. (laughs)
C. Farming’s a lot different.
H. Yeah, that’s right, and as I think back on it now I sometimes wonder how people got along using horses as their means of power but-a apparently they made it.
C. Yeah, well they didn’t have as much land to take care of then as they do now. How big was your farm?
H. Oh, 160 acres.
C. And that was enough back then.
H. That was a big sized farm at that time. Today, why people wouldn’t hardly think of starting with somethin’ like that. But we had several teams of horses. There were three of us, with my brother and I so we kept things goin’.
C. So when did you and Frieda meet each other?
F. At church.
F. Luther League.
H. Well, I suppose you might say that but I think we knew each other before that already. We went to a lot of meetings together and that was how we got to know each other a little better.
C. When did you get married?
F. 1944. The war was on.
C. You were probably farming.
H. No, I was in the service.
C. Oh, you were?
F. His brother was in the Service, and his mother died, all within one year.
That was a hard time.
C. You didn’t get home for the funeral, I suppose?
H. Oh, I was drafted shortly after she died. It was not long after that though.
C. What did you do in the Service, then?
H. Well, I was in antiaircraft, shootin’ down planes, but really to tell you the truth, most of the time I was in I was training. I never got over to where they was doing any real shooting because about the time one unit was trained to go somewhere I got transferred out of it to go somewhere else and do that stuff all over again. I finally wound up in Panama and would you believe it we did the same thing down there again!
C. Y’ought to know how to do that stuff pretty well by that time. (laughs)
H. Well, you went from one different type of unit to another and had to do that same training all over again. It got kind of monotonous but I guess I’m thankful that I didn’t get shot at. I was talking to some of the fellows that I trained with–we had a reunion–and they were telling of some of their experiences they went through while they were over there in Europe and their experience was really good. They brought down a lot of planes. Everybody used to laugh at anti-aircraft but they got really good at it and they brought down a lot of planes.
C. Frieda, what were you doing when he was doing all this?
F. I was working in Napoleon. I ended up in the Recorder’s Office.
C. In the Court House?
F. Um hm. That was interesting because the Recorder had a son that was very active and he was not He and I would compare notes. I can understand
C. Well, sometimes things turn out like that. We just have to accept them, I guess. So when did you two get married, when he got out of the Service?
H. I was home on leave.
C. But you didn’t get out of the service right away then?
H. No. I got out in March 1946.
C. So did you go down to meet him then?
F. I stayed home. He got home once in a while.
H. Once in a while.
C. They didn’t let you do it very often, did they.
F. It was funny. We had planned to get married and it took us a year to get it accomplished because we wanted his sister and brother-in-law here to stand up for us, but they lived in Milwaukee and it was just kind of a setback of a time getting together (laughs).
H. Another interesting deal was you couldn’t just go anyplace and have a dinner because of ration stamps.
C. Oh, that’s right.
H. Frieda approached Mrs. Wincroft in Napoleon and she said, “Yeah, I’ll do the dinner but I don’t have enough stamps to get any meat ready, to buy the supplies.” So Frieda had to really scrounge around here and there to get enough ration stamps for it.
F. Between his Dad and my parents we got enough stamps together so we could have meat for the wedding dinner.
C. No, there weren’t restaurants all around then the way there are now.
H. Oh, I should say not.
C. And people got married in their houses, their parlors. They didn’t have all these big weddings they have now, and they worked just as well too.
H. Yeah, it seemed like it. (laughs)
F. They didn’t have big weddings then either.
C. No, they didn’t. Didn’t have a lot of people. I know my sister-in-law Mary and her husband were married at Christmas time and it was done in Mary’s home.
F. When were you and Doc married then?
C. Ah, 1941. He was in Cheyenne, Wyoming in the service and I called him one day and he was so down because it’s hard. We had decided earlier to get married but we didn’t know when so I so I said, “Well, I could come out to Wyoming and we could get married.” Then there was the longest silence you ever heard on that phone line, and I thought, “Oh no, now what have I done? I probably scared this fellow off. He’ll just want to get rid of me.” And finally he said, “All right.” You know he talked so slowly, so they had a shower for me and we got a wedding dress. It was not white, just a street length with a hat to match. My Dad said, “Here’s $50. I’m glad you’re gettin’ married like this because it’s cheaper than a wedding.” (laughs) I got on this bus and right away I fell asleep. I wanted to see the Missippi River but I was so sleepy. So I asked the woman sitting next to me, “I want to see the Missippi River but I can’t keep my eyes open. Will you wake me up when we cross it?” So all of a sudden she poked me. I gawked at a bit and was just ready to go back to sleep when I thought, “What if he changes his mind and doesn’t meet me at the station?” Well, I never slept a wink after that! (laughs)
F. Y’know, Doc was some relation to my mother but how I don’t know but his mother.
C. Let’s see, what was your maiden name?
F. She was a Leininger.
C. Leininger, yes, that was her maiden name.
F. He often spoke of his parents. Well his parents and my parents were about the same age. So they had lot to share. And Mom would often talk about that.
C. And he was named for the two doctors in Archbold (Edwin and Clarence Murbach). His mother had worked for them.
F. I don’t doubt that a bit, and I don’t know how they were related. I don’t know much about that but Mom talked about that and she talked about the family, about going to visit them, she and Dad, you know. I don’t remember a lot. I know they went together as friends.
C. I’ll bet Buzzie would know. (Ed Winzeler’s sister, Mrs. Robert E. Meyer) I’ll have to ask her. Let’s go back to the Depression when you were little and felt bad about those shoes.
F. Well we just had to wait until she had enough egg money saved up. Chickens were her responsibility and she’d wait until she had enough laid back so she could buy some shoes, you know. We drove horse and buggy to school.
C. Oh you did!
F. Yeah. There were four of us. One of the girls rode with my brother Grover. She would walk about a mile till she got to our house and the next two miles she didn’t have to walk then. She was a nice girl.
C. You lived two miles from the school then?
F. Three miles. No, two miles but she lived three miles from the school.
C. What did you do then, tie up the horse while you were in school?
F. Well, there was a barn right close to where we left the horse and–his name was Brandt. And he could come out every morning and put the horse in the barn. Then when it was time to go home he’d get the horse out and hook it up to the buggy and we’d go home. (laughs)
C. Isn’t that nice? He’d have it all ready for you.
F. He was good to us kids.
C. Was that a one-room school house?
F. No. Ridgeville had a–three grades in one room and three grades in another room. And when I was there we had a high school. That (the high school) was all in one room.
C. So it was like a one-room school in that —
F. There were too many children to put them all in one room. They had to have two rooms.
C. How did they manage to keep order? How many children in one room?
F. Well, they didn’t have as many classes as they do now. They had three classes.
C. Reading, writing, arithmetic and history.
F. That’s right. That’s about what it was, reading, writing, arithmetic. If you were a Freshman you had just three things. But if you had Home Ec there was just one class of Home Ec and that’s the way it was run. You didn’t have as many classes as you have now.
H. In High School you just had three teachers.
C. Is that right?
H. And the Principal was one of them. Yeah. He taught a class.
C. How many students did they have in the high school?
H. Oh I think in our class there was probably 20 kids, to start with. Some dropped out. Apparently they didn’t watch them as closely as they do now. But when I graduated there was just ten in our class.
C. That’s a pretty small class.
H. Oh yeah.
F. There were only seven of us, one boy and six girls.
H. Well, another thing, back then going to High School wasn’t a big thing.
C. No, especially girls, they usually weren’t encouraged to finish high school. What year did you graduate?
C. That was before the Depression hit?
F. Oh yeah.
C. I guess that didn’t hit until 1930.
H. Well, what they considered the Depression was in the fall of 1929. But as far as the farming and farming areas, they were in it years before, from the early 1920’s.
C. Is that right?
H. It was tough, even in the 1920’s. But it was in 1929 that the rest of the country caught up with them. Well, I guess what really brought us out of it then was the second World War.
C. I thought World War II had that effect. People give Franklin Delano Roosevelt credit but when so many of the young men had to go overseas they had to be replaced so they had to find new people for the jobs. And then there was all this equipment that had to be sent over to them and
H. Well, then too at one time during the Depression the unemployment rate was up around 25%
C. Is that right? I didn’t know it was that high.
H. No, now the newspapers put it in big headlines when it gets up to 5 or 6%. It was tough. And there weren’t all those government programs then that are available today. But on the other hand people worked together. If your neighbor was down on certain things you’d help him out a little or somebody else would help.
C. That’s what John Henry said that he’s noticed is the biggest thing, that people helped each other more then. It makes good people because you form the habit of watching out for other people rather than just your own troubles.
H. Well, and then during those years you didn’t have computers and television–all those things so you depended on your neighbors for your–what–entertainment and social events and so on. Our local school, right on that corner from here, lots of times people would gather for a social event. We had a lot of good times.
C. Did you play a lot of games during the Depression?
H. Me personally, or
C. With friends or other?
H. No, the games were mostly basketball and baseball.
C. Oh. You’re talking about sports. I meant table games, sitting around the dining room table.
H. Oh yeah. The neighbors would come over here or we’d go there and play cards maybe for a couple hours, then we’d go home together. And I still remember Dad carrying a kerosene lantern so we could see our way. We didn’t get in the car and drive. We walked a mile or more and if it was after dark we’d play awhile and then walk home again.
F. Well, we played with friends and neighbors. We carried a lantern so we could see to come home. It worked out all right. And when my brother played in a basketball game we’d take the horse and buggy and tie the horse up to a hitching post. It worked out.
C. Do they still have those hitching posts around, I wonder?
H. I haven’t seen any for a long time.
C. And another thing they used to have were these containers for water so the horse could stop and get a drink.
F. I think the last one was at the Telephone CoOp when they had to move that telephone tower.
H. Y’know, in Ridgeville there was one in the center of town.
C. Oh there was?
H. If you came in on Rt. 6 and turned onto the Ridge Road, there was one right at that intersection. There used to be a telephone tower until the Highway Dept. wanted to improve U.S. 6 and then they had to take all that stuff out of there.
C. It’s probably just as well, might have caused some accidents.
H. Well, and with no horses providing transportation I suppose they didn’t need that any more. Although one of our neighbors said that he grew up in town it was part of his job in the summer to take the cattle out in the country to graze. So one of the stops was that ‘water hole’ as he called it in the middle of town.
C. Do you remember what it looked like?
H. I vaguely remember seeing it, as I remember it was a concrete structure, oh maybe about the size of this table, a little smaller maybe, and well, with a pump close by they kept it filled.
C. I wondered how they filled it.
H. Do you remember, Frieda, was there a windmill or did somebody have to pump it by hand?
F. They had to do it by hand. You pumped the water into that big trough.
C. What about in the winter? It’d freeze over, wouldn’t it?
F. Now that I don’t remember. But I know they pumped the water in to that big trough.
It was interesting. (laughs)
H. Well, as our telephone system was there were maybe as many as 10 people on one line and as often happens everybody would listen in on the line. (laughs) And there was a certain ringing code of, say, one long and two short rings and if it was your ring you were expected to answer it but everyone else would pick up that phone and listen in. Each line group was expected to build their own line group and keep it up. Well, if you had some good conscientious people on the line why you had a nice line but, as expected, some lines were kept well and some were–well, if nobody cared too much sometimes your line was down on the ground.
C. Oh really?
H. Yeah, and sometimes the line would break off and maybe during a storm they’d blow over and be laying down on the ground and nobody wanted to be responsible for pickin’ em up off the ground. (laughs) It was crazy enough, sometimes those lines still kept working.
C. Were they afraid to pick ’em up maybe?
H. No. They just didn’t bother to do it. And for long distance you’d tell the operator where you wanted to call to and they would do the connecting. For instance, if you wanted to call from here to Defiance you’d tell the operator in Ridgeville, she would tell the operator in Napoleon. Napoleon operator would call Defiance and follow those to make connections and then we could talk to Defiance.
C. So it would take awhile to connect.
F. And if there was a big snowstorm all the neighbors and everybody got out with their scoop shovels and shoveled it off the roads so they could get through.
C. Oh, so all the neighbors worked together on the roads. John Henry said the men of the neighborhood graveled the roads too. They would haul it in a wagon and shovel it off on the road.
H. Yeah. That was one way of paying their taxes.
C. Oh really.
H. Yeah. They could pay their taxes or if they didn’t want or weren’t able to they could work it off by gravelling the roads and the wagon box that they used, well, it’s hard to describe it. The bottom was made up of 2×4’s and you would just pick up a piece of it and the stones would fall out; the next place in the road you’d pick up another piece and more gravel would fall out and first thing you know you had your wagon empty. That’s the way you got it on the road. Yeah, that was the way some people paid their taxes. On the other hand that’s how some people got their road improved too. Then again generally all people felt, “This is something that’s got to be done so let’s get together and do it.”
C. Did they have meetings then, to plan it or planning by County Engineers then?
H. Oh, they might have a hand in it in their meeting but generally it was just announced that this day we were gonna start gravelling this road, anybody that can help, they would be glad to have them come and help. Those that had wagons, they would use them and others would have to level it off, smooth off the road.
C. They’d use rakes or something.
H. Yeah, shovels or rakes or whatever. They got it done. I remember one time Frieda asked one of the County Commissioners, (This was some time ago.) “How come you’re fixin’ the roads on the south end of the county and we don’t get so much fixed here in the north end?” He said, “If you wouldn’t have such gravel roads up there we could fix up a few of those roads too.” (laughs)
C. Oh, well what did they have if they didn’t have gravel roads? Did they have black top?
H. Well, no,
F. We had more mud than anything else.
H. We had mud roads in the spring. Sometimes we’d sink down that far.
C. A foot?
H. Oh yeah. A foot or more. Sometimes the Ridge Road in the spring when the frost got out of there you were never sure whether you could, if you had an automobile, whether you could get through or not.
C. No, because if you’d sink down far enough you’d be stuck for sure.
H. Oh yeah, and the same was somewhat true with the horse and wagon although generally the horses were able to get through but it was tough sometimes. Another little stinkin’ deal (laughs) some people pulled, they would go out at night and pour a little water on the hole. Then cars would come along and they’d get stuck, then the farmer would have to hitch up his horses and pull them out. Then he charged them for pulling them out. (laughs) There wasn’t very much of that. I don’t want to give the idea that everybody did that but here and there you’d hear of someone doing it.
C. I heard of that happening years ago in the days of the Black Swamp because travel was so hard way back then people just couldn’t go very far and so someone who might have a little tavern and would want them to stop for a beer they’d get a little extra water; they’d get stuck, then “Well come on in!”
H. I remember, it when every farmstead about had cows, horses, pigs, chickens and so forth. About once a week or so somebody in our family would take a horse and buggy and haul five gallons of cream into the creamery in Napoleon. And while they were there they’d do some grocery shopping. That went on for quite a while, I don’t know just how long anymore but-a
C. What would they use that cream for? Making butter?
H. Butter, yeah, and buttermilk.. But that was already in the 1920’s before they had what we think of as the Depression. But that was one of the ways that the farm people had income. And another thing that–well–I think that during the Depression that they had income from was the wheat. It was a cash crop. And as long as they had horses they’d need some of their ground to raise hay. Their corn went to–well the horses would have some corn but they would raise oats, a lot of oats for the horses. But the corn went into the hogs, and the hogs were both a meat supply and also a cash crop you might say, and so they used it up within their own place.
C. You’re talking about a cash crop, that they had extra hogs to sell, how did they get them to market?
H. Well, around here most of them went through a buyer in Ridgeville, let’s see what was his name? Roth. He would collect hogs from people. Maybe he’d have only 3, 4 or 5 hogs to sell
That wouldn’t be enough to interest anybody, but he would gather them all together and sell to a slaughter house someplace or next step on the way to a slaughter house somewhere and
C. Someone would haul with a truck, would he?
H. Yeah, trucks were beginning to be used but at the time I’m talking about it was either haul them in a trailer or a wagon.
C. The horse pulled either one?
H. Yeah. But there again that was during the 1920’s, I’m talking about the Farm Depression ’cause the time, what we think of as the Depression got started the area had oh, gone more to automobiles then already, nothing any like what we have now but they were just beginning to get started and now and then somebody would have a truck and they would use that for hauling things but-a-eventually–and this began to happen during the Depression years–instead of every farm having all of these things they began to specialize, maybe having only 2 or 3 of the things and of course later on they began to have just one item but they got away from a little bit of everything and now you don’t see much livestock on the farms except for those specializing in dairy, hogs or chickens.
C. No, no you don’t. Y’know, I think so many of the young and middle-aged people today are scared to death of a Depression, and I don’t know. We all managed, and I don’t remember anyone saying that they were miserable. It was hard but–
H. That’s one thing I remember. In fact we really didn’t know that we were bad off. Everybody was in the same boat, everybody helped everyone else, and we got along. (laughs)
C. And you did socialize, probably did more talking than they do now, staring at the television. I think that’s kind of a shame in a way.
F. We stayed home more than they do now.
H. You just mentioned that people are afraid of a Depression. I imagine that they should be because my gosh, I wonder what some people really would do today. Look at what they have now. Back then you could depend on someone else helping you, but today could you depend on that?
C. I think we’d go back to that. Now people are so busy making a living, keeping a job and taking care of a family and everything that they just don’t have time or the energy but if there’d be a lot of people without jobs I’ll bet they’d start looking around and see Joe Smith over here or Joe Blow or whatever that needed help and they’d just go over there and help him. Bet they would. We’re all still Christians.
F. I don’t know. They’d have to go sometimes twice a day to go shopping and we, Herold and I, we either have to go to Archbold or to Napoleon. We’re about right in the middle. It’d make a difference. Some of these people aren’t used to that kind of shopping.
H. Well then too, so often that today so many people are so deep in debt. I remember when I was young that was the last thing that anyone wanted to do was to owe anybody anything.
C. Yeah. You wouldn’t think of buying on time unless you had to.
H. That’s right. The only thing you bought on time was the farm.
C. Which you had to. Well what about the car? You probably had to get it on time.
H. There again, yes, some people did but others just said, “We’ve got a horse and buggy so we’ll just wait until we have enough money to buy it.” To them an automobile wasn’t that much of a necessity. But again, during the Depression that began to change during those years until the money accumulated. It was tough but–well I suppose a lot of people tried to buy it on time.
C. Frieda, did you start to say something just now?
F. No. Don’t think so, but if I did, I forgot.
C. Oh. Did they used to drive their horse and buggy past an automobile that was stuck and say, “Get a horse.”
H. Yeah. (laughs) And then too there were some horses that were shy. If they saw an automobile coming down the road the people would get out of the buggy and hold the horse until the automobile was past.
F. They had to train their horses. They weren’t used to a car.
C. Frieda, do you have any memories of your childhood?
F. No I don’t think I have.
C. You don’t want to tell about making mud pies? We used to make mud pies.
F. You’d be lucky if you’d find a top that you could put the pies in. And you couldn’t eat them.
C. Oh no. If you had someone else you could have a little tea party. You’d say, “Here’s a piece of pie.” (laughs)
H. Well I remember–I suppose I was in my early teens there was a harvest of small grain, threshing grain but at that time there was one person who owned the equipment and he would start early as soon as the first crop was ready he would start threshing and he might even be going well into November. Some people would haul their grain into the barn and he would–because he couldn’t get it all done outdoors. He would be running that outfit several months each year.
C. What, threshing machine?
H. Yeah. (laughs) I remember when I was a kid I thought, “Boy, now that’s something. That’s what I want to be when I grow up. I want to run one of those machines.” (laughs)
C. Was that one of those really loud ones like they had at the Fulton County Fair?
H. Steam engines, yeah.
C. They were really loud, and big things.
H. But then, in the 20’s, early 30’s that all began to break up into smaller groups. Maybe 10 or 12 people would get together and buy their own rigs and do their own harvest. Once in a while, and Dad was one of them, a farmer would say, “To heck with you guys. I’ll buy my own outfit.” (laughs) So we had our own outfit, and I was the one running the equipment. I got to do what I wanted. (laughs)
C. They say, that’s why men have always liked tractors and big engines like that, ’cause they’re attracted to the strength of the machine.
H. Oh yeah. Well that was quite an event when you would see that steam engine coming down the lane.
C. What was it like?
H. Oh, to me it was a big picnic ’cause I was a kid at that time and all the neighbors came over with their horse and wagons and helped haul the grain and if we had hauled it in the barn during the summer why they’d be out there pitching the bundles into the machine and somebody would be taking care of the grain but to me just to watch that stuff work, I’d hang around the steam engine a lot and just watch that stuff work. Yeah, it was a big deal and then
C. It was fun to watch them. That’s why they had these inclines going up to the barn I guess. How did that work? The horses went up that incline and that pulled something that pulled the hay over and tripped it and it fell into the haymow. How did that work?
H. Well, if you’re hauling hay, clear up in the peak of the barn there was a track up there and there was a piece of equipment that ran on that track and a rope that ran from there down on to some slings and that’s what the horses pulled on, when the horses pulled on that rope why it took this sling and pulled it clear up there and when it was up there why the horses stopped but it locked in place. It wouldn’t come down. It locked in place, and they would hook to another rope that would pull it one way or another on that track.
C. What would make it go on this other rope?
H. The horses. They would unhook the horses from the first rope put them on the next rope. They would pull the hay over to the next mow and when it was to the point where they wanted to put it why they would call out to stop the horses and it would trip the sling and it would drop.
C. How’d they do that?
H. Well there was a little hook under these slings and there was a little trip rope there. You would grab the rope, give it a pull and that would release the hook causing the sling to part in the middle. The hay would then drop where you wanted it on the mow. But it was a job mowing that hay, oh gosh! On a hot day, you know, and up in that hay it would be a hot job up there.
C. No, ‘mowing’ that means stacking it up in the barn?
H. Oh yeah. You would drop it. It would still be in a bunch. You would tear that bunch apart and spread it around evenly.
C. Oh, so you would be working up in the hay mow? Dusty too, I’ll bet.
H. Oh yeah. They–it got pretty dusty.
F. Do you remember any of this stuff? Did you help with it?
F. Well, I was supposed to stay in the house and help my mother. (laughs)
C. Mother had to get ready to have threshers for dinner.
F. We usually had two tables, 12 at each table.
C. Twelve at a table, now that’s a lot of people.
F. Yeah. This table was Mother’s.
C. Oh, so this might have been one of those tables that seated them.
H. And you know, everybody seemed to know where the good cooks were! (laughs)
F. And if there was one piece of pie left somebody was sittin’ there eyeing that piece. (laughs) He ate it before it got out of there.
C. What about you girls, did you get to eat too?
F. We were the last ones to eat.
H. No, the kids didn’t eat first like they do now. They had to eat last.
F. And they had a big tub out in the yard where they had to wash up before they came in because you know all that dust and stuff.
H. My mother had a special recipe for pumpkin pie and everybody in the neighborhood wanted that pie. And she never told anybody how she made it. (laughs)
F. She had a special recipe for her sugar cookies too.
F. She had the best sugar cookies in the neighborhood.
C. That’s an art, I think. I tried and tried but I never could make them right. So what did you serve when they came to your house?
F. Oh, Mother always got a beef roast when they came to our house, so we had roast beef.
C. Would she make it like a pot roast then?
F. Yeah. And potatoes, very seldom mashed potatoes but she could make gravy, but she could make pie.
H. Home-made bread. Y’know what? When I was growing up I ate so much home-made bread I was happy to get a loaf of boughten bread. Now you get so much boughten bread you’re happy to get home-made. (laughs)
F. A lot of work that was. The neighbors usually came over. The neighbor would come over and help, then Mother would have to go over and help the neighbor when she had it.
H. Oh yeah. Maybe as many as 5 or 6 of the ladies in the neighborhood would get together and help with the dinner.
C. I’ll bet you had a lot of fun too as well as work?
F. Oh, I suppose so.
H. Then the food that was on the table was mostly home grown you might say. They did a lot of canning and if there was any left, sometimes they’d serve that. Potatoes–you could usually expect some kind of potatoes on the table and beef of some kind and maybe canned corn and beans, something like that, but they were home grown.
C. My mother-in-law used to dry green beans. They had a tin roof over the porch. She’d put them out there, and turn them every so often till they were dry.
F. They dried beans and corn.
C. Oh, they did that with corn too?
F. Oh yeah.
C. Speaking of tubs, uh–back in the days before there was running water in the house, did they use these tubs to take baths in?
F. I did!
H. They used the washtub to take a bath in.
F. Oh yeah. I remember my brother didn’t want to be the last one because all the rest of the family had used the tub.
C. Yeah, they could only heat so much water. They didn’t have an unending supply.
Probably before the windmills came they had less than that.
F. I can remember when they put a big tank right in the kitchen and a pump filled that tank and they’d draw on that. But at one end of the cook stove they had a reservoir that kept a certain amount of water warm.
C. What did you use for fuel in the stove?
F. They had a wood stove. It had a reservoir in it.
H. Well, at that time that was a winter’s job. People would go out in the woods and cut trees that needed thinning out; they’d die or something like that. They would have quite a pile of logs, well, not logs really but limbs, then–well I guess it would be logs too. And then in the spring several of the neighbors would get together and cut that into pieces that would fit into the wood stove with a buzz saw. That was part of the regular routine, here on the farm, to harvest the wood.
(end of tape)