Monday, July 26, 2010

Pickle juice in the gravy and Camping in the 1950

Dad tells the story of the guy who put pickle juice in the gravy in this letter. I am writing in July and reading about Dad's walking and sleeping and roughing it in the Oregon mtns helps me to understand his ease with camping in the Rockies in the 1950s. He was use to just being out there, no fancy blow up mattresses or tents. When we were kids we would go on these camping trips all over Colorado. Dad would work one saturday and then take off the next and also take off a Monday, so we could stay two nights. A lot of the places we stayed were primitive. We were car camping but there were no paved roads or out houses. The water we drank came from the streams and it tasted so cold and so good. If we went hiking we would take canteens and we could stop and fill them up with water, water which was not polluted then. We had the Desoto and Dad made a box to put a lot of stuff up on top. but the tent poles were too long and were tied on the roof separately. We had a huge old canvas army tent with a hinged pole along the ridge and two supporting wooden poles at the ends. It took all five of us to get the tent up, then we had a snap in floor and sleeping bags made out gunny sacks that mom had sewn together. I liked being at the far end of the tent. In the morning I would unsnap the floor and roll out and go sit on a rock by a stream (there was always a stream), early meditation experience. We were awfully lucky to have seen the country we did before the developers and tourists came in droves.

July 8, 1943

Thus. Night. July 8

Dear Folks,

Your letter came today so I will dash off an answer right away before I forget what you’ns wrote and have to read it again.
Yes Dad, the Buick driver would be glad to use another coupon. He has used a couple of coupons from our boss and some from a preacher in Portland already. You see, this guy, his name is Al Howe, and some of the fellows went to Portland on weekend. One of the guys has a girl up there and she arranged a couple of other dates so Al drove up. Well our boss has a wife and 11 month old boy there, so he was eager [to] go too. So we worked a little harder and got off from work at noon Sat. and the boys went to Portland. That is how Al came to use some of the bosses coupons and while there a friends preacher that they were talking to asked Al if he had to use coupons to get gas All said he sure did. Well, the preacher said he hadn’t been using all his and so he gave Al a couple. So send us a coupon and we will see that it is put to a good use. We have averaged about one show a week by some method or another. A couple of time we managed to have an excuse to take one of the Gov’t trucks. The boss went along once and we went to Elkton to see “Air Force.” I didn’t particularly like it but it was a good picture. That trip was on the Gov’t. But we have to have a good excuse or we can’t egt by with using the Gov’t cars.
Today it started to rain along in the middle of the forenoon and so we came in. We were close to camp so we only got damp. The boss had to have his picture taken soon for an identification card that certain Gov’t men seem to have to have so that called for a trip to Eugene. Since we couldn’t work we all went along and went to a show. It was a double feature. “ The Ox Bow Incident” and “Corregidor.” The Ox Bow show was really good. A good moral, about a mob in the west that hung 3 innocent men for a murder that didn’t even happen. Very good and thought provoking. Mom probably wouldn’t like it. The Corregedor one was a typical war show. Not so hot.
Keep on with the farm news Dad. I haven’t made much of a reply to it but I’m still interested. Seems I[‘m] just a farmer at heart yet. I hope your thumb is better by now.
Next Monday we will leave this camp and got to another township northwest of Eugene to finish up 8 miles that are left there then back to this one again. We figure on that taking about 2 weeks. I’ll write from there. I don’t know but I suspect we will have some of our mail forwarded as the cook will stay here to watch the stuff. I might mention about the cook. We don’t like him too well now. He turned out to not to like to spend enough time on his work. He has some dumb ideas too that don’t work so good. Tonight we came home late and the gravy had gotten terribly thick like it will so what did he do but try to thin it with sweet pickle juice. Don’t ever try that mom. It’s terrible.
We are trying to get a better cook from the main camp but haven’t yet.
I’ll tell you about Dick Henly this time. He is a Quaker too from Colorado Denver meeting. A very fine guy. One of the nicest fellows I have know. He is 23 yrs old about 160 lbs. slightly taller then I. Brown hair and eyes. (for Mom) He has two slightly visible scars on he forehead from going through a car windshield once. He doesn’t smoke or have any bad habits. (Buck Guthrie smokes) and he and I agree on a lot of things. Dick and I will probably get to be pretty good friends. Most all the fellows I work with are good fellows but Dick seems to stand out. His father was a C.O. doing non-combatant work in the other war. He farms in Kansas now. Before the draft, Dick was working for “Kanteen” company. Those candy selling machines, he refilled them with candy. As for Buck Guthrie’s smoking, I suspect it can be charged to a “preacher kid complex.”
Say Mom, I read that Christian’s Herald too. Did you read in the one before last “God’s Life-Line”? It is about Kingsley’s Preacher from Des Moines.
P.S. Do you know anything about Dale W.? Who did he marry? I’m getting so I write on the top of the page too Mom. (cut off) couple of months (?) or more. Darn him.

Fri. Morning
The sun isn’t shining very bright cause it is a little cloudy this morning so we havn’t gone to work yet. I’ll see if I can’t get a little more written I was sort of sloppy last night.
No I don’t get to church. We are 9 miles from Drain and I don’t know whether I would go if we were closer or not. I get a lot out of reading and thinking on Sunday. Not that I don’t like church but when a person can’t take root and work in a church it isn’t so interesting and I feel that it isn’t too good for us COs to do too much in the local churches because someone is bound to take offense and accuse us of running things.
We got word a few days ago that the China Unit is all off and any other foreign service for COs. The last War appropriation bill stated that none of the money should be used to train 4-E men or send them abroad. So I guess that will keep us from doing anything of importance in that line.
How is Harry after his 4th of July trip? Walking on air or is he sloppy and deflated? I got a letter from Norma a few days ago. She’s a peach. If Harry doesn’t hang on to her he ought to be kicked. I’ll bet she was disappointed that the rest of the kids didn’t go too. Of course she and Harry will enjoy being alone together if they can get away from her family.
I might mention I’m enjoying the work here and here comes the sun.
So Long,

Sunday, July 18, 2010


I haven't checked all my headings to see if I'm repeating myself. There's the mention of Grandma's jam at the beginning of his letter, so I got into jam recollections. Both mom and dad were great gardeners. Dad did fruit, berries, grapes, some trees - apples, cherries, they also had ruhbarab and gooseberries. Mom did the vegetables and then did alot of the processing of the food. Dad would make grape juice but I think mom did all the rest. We would have apple sauce, crab apple sauce, pickles and jams and jellies. I really didn't know that people bought jam in stores until I stayed over at a friends house and they had some store bought jam, that did not have the flavor of what we ate at home. I really came to appreciate it once I moved away. Then when we would go to visit we would leave with a box of home canned food and a small freezer full of frozen berries and apple sauce. One of my favorites was a raspberry apple sauce, Mom would freeze it and then to use it she would put the container out on the counter to thaw out. We would sneak into the kitchen and scrape some off the frozen lump, it was iced and yummy. We always had bowls of fruit to eat if we were hungry.

July 2, 1943

R 1 Box 100
Youncalla, Oregon
July 2, 1943

Dear family,

Again I say how time flies. I say that every once in a while when I realize that time is sliding by pretty swiftly. When you get this you will have celebrated the 4th and the corn will be layed by. I hope that you were able to get the cultivator fixed. I reckon that mom has a lot of jam canned by now too.
It just started to rain here but it may not be raining to-morrow. It can rain all night and clear up in the morning here or like it was today be clear as a bell all day and then rain at night. By the amount of rain you are getting you will probably have another good corn crop in spite of the late start it got. Some of you asked a few questions that I haven’t answered yet. I don’t think that the weather in general is as hot here as it is in Iowa. When we are working we usually sweat pretty good but cool off as soon as we stop. It feels hot in the sun and cool in the shade. We don’t have much wind here but there is usually a breeze on top of the ridges. So far we have been bothered very little by bugs and mosquitoes but there are lots of them down in the bottom of the canyons when there is a small creek there. They seem to be a small variety of mosquitoes and they hum around a lot but we don’t get many bits. The worst thing we have ran into so far was when the line ran through a swarm of bees. A couple of fellows got stung but I missed them. Then about 200 feet further we ran into a tree with a hornets’ nest in it one guy got stung by them. Then yesterday I was ahead of the rest and I stepped a few inches from a hornets’ nest that had fallen from a tree. I didn’t see it and felt something stick me in the left thigh. I though it was a rose bush and looked down at the hornets coming out like they do in the funny papers. But they didn’t chase me tho and my sting didn’t hurt bad only lasted a half hour or so but there is still a bump there. They sure must have long stingers to go clear through my overalls! About the rose bushes tho. We sometimes come to a pasture when it has been cleared and it will be quite well covered with large rose bushes almost as big as our old lilac bush used to be. They are something to chop through. We run into a black berry or raspberry patch once in a while. Sometimes they are ripe too.
They never have any bad snakes here. We see garter snakes and lots of lizards and snails.
Yea, Mom, sometimes we chop into the wrong tree but we can usually tell by the scar on the bark if it has been marked. It is kind of hard on them to chop into them but if they are a healthy tree they will grow over it again and if not we mark a new one. We have had a lot of trouble finding the old corners they are way off from where they should be. We are sure thet the first guy that surveyed it never ran all the lines or even set all the corners. He gets the corners in the wrong places sometimes he says that there in a creek running down the middle of a ridge so we know he never saw the place. Besides the records show he did this township in 16 days and that is impossible. They used to contract their surveying so that explains it and why it needs to be done over. Well, it is time for me to go to bed on my scented bed of fir boughs. Yes, I have to renew them about every 3 weeks the needles fall off by that time. I just carry in some more.

P.S. Will you send (cutoff) drivers license (cut off)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Rain and West Branch Iowa and One side of the story

This letter mentions rain, which we are grateful for today in southern New Mexico, a fellow from West Branch Iowa and some things about Grandma that I can't figure out since we only have one side of the story here.
Rain. It rains a lot in Oregon but very little here. Today it rained. This isn't the first summer rain, which came in June and was full of the smell of the Creosote bush. I always forget that smell until it rains. The rains from now to September we call the monsoon season. I don't know if they really are monsoons or just a lot of rain. It's enough to start filling up the rain barrels and tanks that Tim has set up to catch the rain off of our roof and to keep the cats indoors. I picked up a friend at her trailer park to give her a ride today and she remarked at the people standing outside on their porches and I said, yeah we do that when it rains we come out. The breeze feels good and we can turn off the swamp cooler and just enjoy the cool air this evening.
West Branch Iowa. Dad was working with someone from West Branch. I first heard of West Branch when my friends in Colorado went off to the Quaker boarding school there. Scattergood School. There were only two or three of us teenagers who attended Meeting and both Esther Hinshaw and Eric Michner went off to Scattergood. At that time in the 60's there was a waiting list to get into the high school and the idea had never occured to my parents or I that I might be interested. By the time we had figured it out, it was too late to try and get in. Later Leonore Goodenow who was the head of the school in the 1960's moved to Denver as our Meeting House resident. She then began to do prison work and invited me along in the early 1970's to worship with prisoners and other Friends at the maximum security prison in Cañon City, Colorado. In 2004 I returned there to do my Basic AVP (Alternatives to Violence) training.
It has also been interesting to me that two young people from Las Cruces Friends Meeting have gone to Scattergood. Many circles and intertwinings in life.

June 25, 1943

R 1 Box 100
Yoncalla, Oregon
June 25, 1943

Dear Folks,

Your letter came on Thursday. Not bad. Today is Friday. We went to the show in Drain. It was a “Tarzan” picture Boy! Oh Boy! We all sort of got a kick out of it. I guess I told you that one of the fellows has a big Buick out here and when his gas is lasting alright we go to a show once in a while. We haven’t seen a good one yet but it gives us something to do a little relaxation.
We have been having too much rain this week to get much done. It rained Sunday and didn’t clear up till yesterday (Thurs.) then the sun went under a big bank of clouds in the afternoon and we had to quit. Then it rained this morning and we didn’t get out till afternoon. So we haven’t done much.
From you letters it seems that things have been happening pretty fast back there. Stella and Grandpa and Grandma coming up and with the weeds and corn growing so fast that you had to plow night and day. I recon that you have sort of caught up with it by now if it hasn’t been raining there and getting you behind again. Say, it would have been nice if you had the little tractor plowing too but I guess that to quote someone “A certain amount of fleas is good for a dog, it keeps him from worrying about being a dog.”
Perhaps you’d be interested in something about the fellows that I live and work with. Maybe I can give a character sketch of one of them in each letter. Sort of a serial. I’ll start with “Buck” Guthrie. His name is Wayne. He’s 22 years old and from West Branch, Iowa. Buck is shorter than I am and a little wider he weighs about 160, slightly chubby. He makes me think of Harry sometimes especially his love affairs. His father is a Friends preacher. He has 9 brothers and sisters one of his brothers was out at Elkton but was transferred back to the Ames unit. Buck hasn’t heard much from him but he don’t like it extra well there we don’t know why. Buck is a pretty good singer and he is always singing something he knows all the latest songs and a lot of old cowboy and hillbilly songs too. Well that’s about enough about him. If this sort of thing is interesting to you I’ll keep it up. It is different thing living with a small group like this and working with them too. We really have a good time, a good bunch I’d say.
How’s the Endeavor Mom? It sounds to me like you may be getting on the right track at least for a while.
I kind of hate to see John Me. leave but I don’t pretend to know what is best. The way you wrote I got the idea that Phinny was the one that you seemed to want. I don’t know anything about him I do have a faint recollection of hearing him once at P.R. and there is a fellow at Elkton that knows them very well I think he is engaged to their daughter. She is (the daughter) quite pretty. I saw her picture. This guys name is Clifford Wolfe.
I might mention that my watch is still going and I guess it is keeping pretty good time tho I haven’t checked it accurately. It sure does have a pretty dial. It is about twice as big as a $1.50 watch like I’m used to. But I am used to it now.
Time to go to bed,

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Breakfast and surveying

There is a lot about surveying in this one and a long list of what was eaten for breakfast. I know when Dad gets to Chicago in '45 he talks about eating something other than meat and eggs for breakfast and becoming citified. As a child I observed him eating Wheaties every morning, then I went off to College and when I came back in '74 he was eating granola. I was in more shock than I was when Nixon resigned, I now knew our world had changed. I also recall that we didn't know he knew how to cook until Mom was in the hospital and he admitted that he could hold and crack two eggs in one hand, which he had learned at Elkton. This letter leaves me wondering what is a WC (in terms of harvesting) and what was 'win-the-war time'?

June 20, 1943

R #1 Box 100
Yoncalla, Oregon
June 20, 1943

Dear home folks,

I got your letter yesterday that was mailed Monday. I guess we have poor connections on both ends. It will probably be a good thing to continue using Airmail.
To give you a better idea of what I am doing I’ll try to sort of give you a travelogue on a day’s work.
The usual beginning, we get up at about a quarter till 6:00 but we go by sun time not “win-the-war-time.” So it would be 7:00 by other people’s time. The reason we use old time is that the instrument we use called the solar compass, takes a bearing from the sun round from about 11:30 to 1:00 the sun is too straight overhead to east a shadow. We used “war time” for a few days and it was quite confusing, it kept us busy figuring out what time it actually was so we changed. I think I told you some of that in the other letter. Well, the cook wakes us up and we eat breakfast. We have things like ham and eggs, oatmeal, cornflakes, cornbread, bacon and eggs, pancakes, fried bread, eggs and toast, oranges and this morning it was omelet. (All that was for mom’s benefit.) Immediately after breakfast we put up our own lunches so we will have what we want. We take rather light lunches as we have to tie them on our belts and carry them that way till noon. We leave camp at 7:00 (old time) on the dot in light truck. The last few days we have been riding a long way before we got to where we were working. Roads aren’t very plentiful here and so far we haven’t had to walk more that 2 miles to get to or from a road. Most roads end up in someone’s barnyard. Take last Fri. we drove about 18 miles to get to a place that was only 1 mile east and 4 ½ miles south of our camp. When we got there we still had to walk about ¼ mile over a couple of gullies. We started out Fri. at what we call a quarter corner. Dad will know what that is. We were running south along the east line of our township. We had a half mile to get to the corner of the township. We made pretty good time and got to the corner at 10:00. That is we got to the place where we thought the corner should be. We had measured and it was the right direction from the last corner. When we get to where a corner should be we look for a fence corner if there is a fence around, many time there isn’t then we look for the old bearing trees, or witness trees as the ranchers call them. They are trees that were blazed the first time this was surveyed and the township number and range and section number carved in them. It has been 90 years since this particular corner had been marked and we failed to find even one bearing tree. We could see that there had been a fir though there and so our notes read BTs destroyed by fire. We did find a four way fence corner which assured us that we were where the ranchers figured their corner was and that’s what we want. To mark the corner that is being used and tell in our notes just how far off it is. Well, after our boss was satisfied that we had the right spot we set up our true corner post. With the proper marks on it to tell what corner it was. We also took four new bearing trees and wrote on them stuff like this. ( illustration, marked 724S R5W S6 BT) This is what the township corner markers had on the top of it. (illustration) here’s what it means: S6 → section 6,
R 5W → Range 5 west, T24 → Township 24.
Maybe that will give you a hazy idea of what we do. We mark the trees a special carving tool that will draw a circle and carve it out at the same time. All letters are in circles and straight lines so there you are. We usually go a mile or a little over each day so that means one section corners and one quarter corner a day. The ax men mark the trees and by now I know what goes on any of them.
Sometimes between 3:00 and 4:00 we start for the truck. If we are getting close to another road then we are to the one we left in the morning they truck driver, who cuts brush when he isn’t driving, goes back and brings the truck around as close as he can get it. He managed to get pretty close Fri night but the boss tells us that the Southwest corner of the township doesn’t have any roads at all so we will have to use a pack outfit and mules to move our camp closer to our work. We haven’t got that far yet and won’t for a while. Don’t worry about this being dangerous. I don’t think it is any worse then anything else. I guess I told you I was an ax man. I don’t know as that is any worse job than some of the others. The chain men have to do book work at night which seems to me to be a disadvantage though they may not put out quite the physical energy on the job. When we find one of our old bearing trees and have to chop with (?) it to make sure (you see after 80 or 90 years the marks are grown over about 8 or 10 inches) the chainman help chop too. I think that all in all one job is as good as another. I wouldn’t mind learning a new one some time later when things lose their novelty but that is up to the boss. We are getting along with him pretty well now that we are learning the job better. His name is Otis Gould and we had been calling him Mr. Gould or Boss and the other day he said he wished we would call him Oat. So he’s Oat now, a step in the right direction.
I hope you can get some sense out of this. I hate to write all about myself but I guess that is what you want to hear. I’ll bet that the old W.C. has plowed out a lot of weeds by now. I hope you can get ahead of them and stay there.
Do I like the watch? You bet. It isn’t the most modern design but it keeps time and probably will fro years and years. Just the thing for me. I’ll bet it cost Dad more than the last 5 watches I’ve had.
What about my drivers license? Will it be sent to me here? Or does it work that way?
Here are those two extra pictures I intended to send last week. I have my photograph album pretty well caught up and got a white pencil to write in it with so will have it really done up.
Guess that’s about all for now
I certainly hope that the Endeavor Society will do better this summer. I wrote to Evelyn and gave her a lot of advice which she probably won’t need.