If you haven't already done so, you may want to read The Introduction to this series of posts.
Life at Traverse City
I must tell of the things we did here. In the spring we went to the woods for Arbutus. This fragrant little flower would bloom while some snow was still on the ground, under the oak leaves. We would turn the leaves back and there were the lovely little wax white flowers. They have a beautiful scent and I'd love to see some of them once more. In the summer we gathered wild strawberries and later, ground huckleberries (wild blueberries) all so good and fun to pick. In the fall there were many small puffball mushrooms, which I loved to gather and the family liked to eat. The wintergreen berries were nice in the fall; we loved to nibble them.
Decoration Day of 1909 an old Civil War soldier was to talk to my second grade class. Our teacher asked us all to bring flowers. We had no garden at the time and I didn't know what I could take. I was just mortified to go to school without any flowers so I told Mama and she came through. She took two white Geranium blossoms, one red one and a leaf or two. She found some blue ribbon to tie them together. And the next day at school the old soldier took my red, white and blue offering and held it with all the other beautiful bouquets about him - I was so proud of it.
One thing I remember is still a mystery to me. We had moved to another house in Traverse City and one of our neighbors was Catholic. They had a baby about eight months old and probably I had been with him a lot. One day Mama dressed me up in my best clothes and I went to this home. I was the only "outsider" there and a priest came and baptized the baby. I sat beside them, the baby and the priest, and watched this in wonder. I still wonder why I was there for I was only seven or eight years old. And I wonder if the little fellow was sick, but I'll never know.
There were bad times there too. Papa and Jack Smith came home one night, late and intoxicated. Sometimes Papa became very abusive to Mama when he was drunk. And this was the very worst time of all. I ran across the street and told Mr. Giadop that my Papa was sick and to please go to him. I guess he really settled him down, Papa walked all night. When he came home there was a bad mark on his head where I had hit him with a stove poker, but he never knew that I had done it. It hadn't helped at all and it always hurt me to know that I'd injured my beloved Papa.
The Jack Smith I tell you about was an old Civil War Veteran from Columbia City. He had never married and had no relatives, at least not close enough to care for him, so he came to Traverse City to be with us. He rented a room there and every Pension Day he would take one of us kids to the movie (5 cents) and buy us a small gift and candy. How we all loved Jack, and when we came back home he did too and we always visited him whenever we went to town.
After we had been in Traverse City some time the folks bought a house at 838 State Street. This was a nice little house, about one block from the Bay, near the school and Jane went to kindergarten. There was no church near our neighborhood but on the way to school I saw that there was a Missionary Church in an old store building. So I started going there for Sunday school.
I had been steeped in religion thru Grandma Brubaker and Grandpa Wise. They both said grace at every meal and Grandpa would sing old hymns to us as he rocked us in his rocking chair. I also had gone to church with Grandma Brubaker many times so I was very religious as a small child. My Sunday school teacher said once that if a child died without baptism, he would go to Hell. I always remembered this but it never worried me because I believed so much in the gentle Jesus and knew he would never harm a small child. So I guess I began to form my own opinions at an early age - I was thirteen years old before I was baptized.
Some of this time Mama sold magazine subscriptions. She had a lot of samples and we kids loved to cut out the dolls, etc. which McCall’s always had. Other children learned about this and we sold these to the other kids. I don't remember how much we charged, probably pennies, but we felt like we were rich merchants.
We often had pennies to spend, and boy, what fun you could have with a penny. Even little penny dolls could be purchased and I bought many of these. Also long licorice whips; those were my favorites. Once Chloie Davis (Papa's cousin) and her husband came to visit us. He gave us each a dime to spend and we were millionaires for a short time.
One time a schoolmate asked me to a picnic. There were about seven of us kids and the picnic was in a woods near the school. We had bananas and cookies and a lot of candy. Later we learned that the boy, our host, had used his grandmother's charge account and had thrown this party without the knowledge of any grownup. This was really bad and all of us kids were questioned.
We were all happy in Traverse City. Mama and Papa had a good social life here. They joined the Spanish American War Vets and Auxiliary. And though Papa became intoxicated several times and this was always bad, still, they made up afterwards and were very happy.