Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Life of Hazlette Brubaker :: Part 10 ~ Childhood on the Farm

If you haven't already done so, you may want to read The Introduction to this series of posts.

Childhood on the Farm

Jane and Bill worked in the fields and milked cows, etc. while I helped Mama and raised the garden with Papa supervising. I baked all the bread for the family from the time I was eleven years old, also I cooked and baked cakes, but Mama always baked the pies.

Mama and Papa often gave parties. They both liked people and loved to entertain. We always had a party on the 4th of July or anytime that more than one of the family could come over. This, of course, meant Mama's family because Grandma Brubaker was all the family that Papa had.

On one 4th of July, about 1914, Grace and Lena Zintzmeister and Aunt Rose [1] were at Grandma Wise's. Papa bought a five-gallon tub of Ice Cream and made five gallons of lemonade in a big crock. He made tables in the front yard and they were loaded with good things to eat. This was a thing to remember always. Jane and I had new dresses to wear and were very proud of them. Papa always had fire works on the 4th.

Once Jane decided to have a party. She didn't tell Mama or me, she just invited all the kids that had practiced for the Children's Meeting. When we looked down the road and saw all these girls coming dressed in party clothes, we wondered where they were going and Jane said " Oh, I forgot to tell you they are coming here for a party!" Well, Mama and I got busy and while the kids played games we popped corn and Mama made fudge and they all had a grand time.

As we got older we had more formal parties and the biggest one was just before we moved to North Webster. When I was 14 years old Mama invited kids from three different neighborhoods. We really had a nice party with the living room, kitchen and dining porch all decorated and we played party games. It was lots of fun. This was the end of us as a family for Mama and Papa began to have more serious trouble while we were living in North Webster, and Grandma Wise died, and Mama and Papa finally separated.

We had fun all by ourselves that stay in my memory. One time when the yellow Harvester apples were getting over-ripe and had fallen to the ground, someone picked one up and threw it, this started the battle of the apples! It was confined to the dining porch and even though we had to clean it all up afterwards it still was lots of fun. This same thing happened with water on very hot days. Someone would toss a cup of water on Papa and then it really started. The supply tank was in the dining porch so it was real handy.

One of the fun times of "the good old days" was the last day of school. The teacher organized a program of entertainment and there was an enormous carry-in dinner. Every one in the district came and it was one of the highlights of the year.

As you older ones know, school was a one-room affair near Goose Lake, Scott School. My brother, sister and I went to the same school that both Mama and Papa attended. They seem to have had more interesting things to do than we did. For one thing there were older kids - not many went to High School as the closet one was Columbia City and this was in the horse and buggy days. They had spelling bees and Mama had won several prizes for spelling "down" the school. They had box suppers where the girls decorated boxes and filled them with goodies for the boys to buy at auction, then the girl would get to eat with whichever boy bought her box. It was all so simple, but when Mama or Papa would tell us about their good times, we always thought it was wonderful.

In the winter our walk to school, in below zero weather, was really terrible. No one ever said it was too cold or stormy to go. We just walked that mile, most of it with the wind off the frozen lake. One day I remember Mama had me wear her big shawl over my coat. I really didn't get too cold, but Jane and Billy nearly froze. I carried their dinner pails and gave Jane my mittens, but we had to work with her when we got to school - her fingers were frost bitten.

It was several years later that they had consolidated school in Troy Township. Thagrus Burns started to school after it was consolidated and rode one of the first "school hacks". He would have had almost twice as far to walk if they hadn't consolidated.

My parents were both friendly and loved having people about so we had lots of company. People from Huntington or Fort Wayne would drop in on Sunday mornings. I helped Mama many times to catch a couple of chickens, kill, dress, and fry them after the company came! This was before refrigeration and unless notified in advance of their coming, we had to get the freshest meat. I have often thought how easy they could have telephoned, but everyone seemed afraid of long distance phone calls.

We also had several friends who came and stayed for a while. One was Jack Smith, an old soldier and Civil War veteran. He would come for weeks at a time and when we were in Traverse City, he came and stayed a while, liked it so well that he rented a room upstairs and stayed until cold weather.

After we had been back on the farm for sometime, one of our old neighbors from Traverse City, Mrs. Gradop, came for a week and stayed and stayed and stayed! Mama got awfully tired of her and finally wrote her daughter to send for her. She was just "too much".


[1] Aunt Rose was Rose Wise Zinsmeister, sister of “Grandpa” William P. Wise. Grace and Lena were her daughters. They lived in Lorain, Ohio.

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