Sunday, June 27, 2010

Washing clothes

I got away from the blog this month. the June heat comes and we run off to Yearly Meeting and then back and had a wonderful house concert with Patricia Morrison. So now I can get back into the routine.
Dad is off surveying and washes clothes by hand which reminds me of washing clothes. When Tim, Jenny and I lived in Hillsboro and off grid and newly married trying to figure everything out, somehow clothes washing became a big deal. Jenny and I came with our washing machine, I had felt proud do buy it when she was almost 1, I figured that the machine cost as much as a diaper service. We bought diapers and the washing machine. When we got married the machine was about 7 years old and still good. Being off grid we had no electricity to run it, it sat on our front porch for a few weeks, then one day at the General Store Cafe Ben and Doreen mentioned they were in need of a washing machine. They were the new owners of the cafe and new to town. In a flash Tim had made a deal to trade our washing machine for meals at the cafe. I was in a bit of shock at the speed of the deal, but we had not had any other bright ideas of what to do with it. I think it took us about three months to use up the credit we had gotten from the machine.
Tim had a washing machine which ran on gasoline, it was a challenge to me. It started the way a lawn mower does by pulling a cord, this worked well for Tim (who is 6 ft tall) but for me it seemed to need to be pulled about two inches beyond my 5ft ability to pull it. It was also noisy and smelly. So I bought a James washer. This is a hand washer, a small tub with a side handle you move back and forth. I still miss this machine, we have given away both of these since moving into Las Cruces and bought another electric - low use machine. The handwasher worked well for me and the kids in the neighborhood and those close to 5ft tall, others had to bend over to use it. The best washing was when we had enough rainwater in the barrel to wash the clothes in the fresh rain water.
A long story about washing clothes.

June 14, 1943

R#1 Box 100
Yoncolla, Oregon
June 14, 1943

Dear folks

Today I got Dad’s card from Jeff saying that you were send my ring, glass case and watch. I’ll sure appreciate a watch. I have sort of gotten used to not having one but it will be easy to get use to having one again. I still reach for my watch pocket occasionally. There are 2 watches beside the boss’s in the crew. So another may be sort of handy sometimes. Sometimes we are a little way apart which we are cutting brush along the “line.”
Yesterday (Sunday) I went into Camp Elkton. I printed a few pictures for some mysteries (?) that I brought back with me. I sent a couple of extra prints. If I don’t forget like I did with the sugar stamp. I trust you found that in the next letter. I guessed you hadn’t got my letter telling my new address before you sent the package. It will be forwarded tho.
It is getting a little late and I’m sort of sleepy. I did my washing tonight too. I used to hear about bending over a washboard but now I know about it. I’d rather send my clothes to a laundry. But we are living the simple life.
We surveyed a mile today and that’s pretty good. The Boss said that was all the expected of us. I’m not so tired I guess I’m getting broken in now but it really pooed me the first week.
I recon that you men folk are plowing corn like the dickens. I hope you have the new cultivator by now or at leas see it coming.
I’ll tell you about the guys I work with sometimes. --- with an interesting bunch. Good variety of personalities and background. All pretty good guys.
Time to sign off.
A quarter of a century old

P.S. Mom’s birthday card came a day late due to forwarding but it was just as good. Thanks Mom.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Corn and Surveying

There is a lot of info in this letter about surveying, I suspect it has changed a lot in the last 67 years. I remember helping Tim set up and mark off spots for building on our property in Hillsboro. We didn't have any chains but I held a stick where he told me to and he would look through his device at another point.
Thinking about planting corn reminded me of the blue corn Tim has planted in the front yard, a very small patch. Two years ago we grew beans, quite a few of them in the front yard. I got very fond of blue corn the year that I lived at the Zen Center in Jemez Springs. We planted corn, a lot of it and harvested the blue corn, then dried it. My favorite was when we would grind it fresh in the morning and make atole for breakfast, yum.
Another memory of corn was visiting Grandma Aldrich (who lived to be 96) at the nursing home. If we came in the summer or early fall, she would look at us with longing and say 'I bet you'll have some roasting ears at Charles'. It was very good. Nice to think about summer treats as the heat here is into the 100's.

June 6, 1943

Box 100 R#1
Yoncolla, Oregon
June 6, 1943

Dear folks,

I suppose you are still wondering what I am doing and what it is all about. That address is a farmer’s down the road about ½ mile. They call them ranches out here tho. One of the fellows was talking to him and he said it would be alright if we used his mailbox. So we are. So far there has been a trip to town every morning but if it gets so we can work all day we probably won’t get in to town more than once a week. So that mail box will be handy.
I’m not sure what I told you but I don’t think it was much. I didn’t know much about the project then. I still don’t know everything but I know a lot more than I did.
The purpose of our surveying seems to be to make an accurate map and find out the true location of the present (?) section corner. This area was surveyed in 1855 and they did a very sloppy job so the thing to do is find out how far they are off. We are surveying public land that is in alternating sections so by surveying the public land lines we also find the lines of the private land too. We don’t change any of the corners no matter how far off they are we just record the error.
The instrument we use is called a solar compass and takes its bearings from the sun. That is they set it in the sun and by reading it and applying certain deviation corrections they can tell where true north is. Is that clear? (as mud)
I guess I told you there were 8 of us C.P.S.ers on the crew and a Gov’t Engineer. Out of the 8 men there is one instrument man, one truck driver, one corner man, two chain men and 3 ax men. I’m an ax man. We have light double bitted shorthandled axes that work pretty good in the brush.
We ax men carve a good enough trail out of the wilderness for the chain men to follow. That isn’t a very clear path either we just cut of the waist of it. The chain that I speak of is a steel tape 330 feet long (5 chains) it is divided into 500 parts called links (66 feet to a chain, 100 links). We slide down and climb up slopes that run from 20°-40° slant. It is pretty hard work but interesting and not monotonous. I like it pretty well. We see some pretty big trees once in a while but most of them aren’t as big only 2 or 3 feet.
Did I tell you about our beds. One day when it was raining we started to make beds. Some of the fellows made theirs out of some old canvas we had but I made one out of a couple of poles with small sticks across and fir boughs over them almost as soft as a mattress. It isn’t bad at all. I sleep very well. I have taken two bathes in our creek. It is pretty cold but it gets you clean. I have washed some of my clothes too. We are away from the luxury of washing machines.
Well, I’ve writing 2 ½ pages about myself. I was glad to hear that you got the corn and beans in before it rained. I suppose by the time you get this you will be plowing corn. I hope you get that little cultivator.
I’m getting a little sleepy guess I’ll have to quit. We have a pretty good cook he’s from N.Y. City and is a nature lover. Knows the names of plants and bugs and stuff. He just goes wild about this country. We have very good food and rationing don’t bother us much. The boss got a special batch of points for us cause we have to go deeper into the wilderness on pack-mules. That will really be something. Oh boy!
There are some loggers working about 1 ½ miles up the road we saw them work one day that was something new too.
The other night we drove into Drain to see a show. One of the guys has a ’40 Buick. I think I’ll have a very good summer.
God is good. Better than I deserve.
P.S. Enclosing Drivers License. See what you can do. Thanks.
P.S.S. I found that sugar stamp I told you about in my other letter I guess I forgot to put it in.
I signed the application on my Drivers license but didn’t know which box to put an X in you find out which on and X it will you