Below is unprocessed text taken from a scan of our PDF document. It's messy;we know. If you would like to help us clean up these transcripts, please email Devin Becker at firstname.lastname@example.org
This fourth interview with Clara Payne Grove took place at her home in Moscow,Idaho, on December 16, 1975. The interviewer Is Sam Schrager.
CLARA PAYNE GROVE: — Moscow. I do know that I had a pickup at my door, well,I suppose at least 20 years ago, and I think it's more than that. And that's the first I knew about it, and I never thought of it again until they were looking for a person for the position that I have, a representative, it used to be called the Center, and then they got high -toned a little more and began to call us representatives. I never knew why they said Center, because you're no more the center of anything than anybody else in it is. But that's what I was for eleven years, til they changed it. But, it's really an international organi zation. They have it various other countries. I don't know just how many. And, I'm proud of Moscow. I don't know whether they tell every representative that or not, maybe they don't, but they say that Moscow turns in more goods than any place in the area. And the area goes from Moses Lake to Missoula from Walla Walla to the boundary, so it's a pret ty good sized area. But I did a lot of work on it before I got it work ed up. I would stand on the street and hand out cards. I'd stop peo ple and tell them about it. Every week I would call ten on the phone and advertise it. And. now, I am not advertising because we are getting all the goods that the big truck will take away. Well, there's no use of us getting more than they'll take away, so I'm not advertising We do have this slump right now before Christmas, but people don't want to be called on an advertisement right now, they're too busy! So, they get a rest from me.
SAM SCHRAGER: I wanted to ask you about some of the attitudes in the early days thatyou remember, the way people felt about things because it's pretty clear to me that things have changed quite a bit in the general thinking of people in these days. And one thing I wanted to ask you about was the role of women, because I have this idea in the early days, it was more along the lines of a — the husband ruled and the wife obeyed. Now is an accurate idea of what it was like then?
CLARA PAYNE GROVE: Well, it used to be that there was a very distinct line between the sexes. And, while the line is still there, everybody is— well, not everybody— but most of the people are doing their best to do anything they can to obscure the line; to erase it. Well, they can t erase it, but they^liave pretty well obscured it. But, it used to be that a woman's place was defined. Well, it isn't now. Her place is any yahoo thing that she wants to do or work at or play with, or anything and it's accepted. And those ridiculous pantsuits are more than accepted; they're fairly worshipped! And, at the time I was young, you never heard of such a thing as a woman wearing trousers! In a great emergency, when she was compelled to do it, she would put on her husband's— well, I was going to say Levis— I'll tell you how I got reproved for saying that—but she would put on her husband's overalls over her dress for whatever she had to do, like cleaning the barn or so on. But she didn't wear it after she went back to the house, it came off when she went in. And there was no such thing as a pantsuit— which, well, I have my own idea of them!
SS: If you could describe how a woman's role was defined; how her life wasdefined in those days—how would it be?
CG: Well, we did the housework, and I look at it from a farm viewpoint because I was born and raised on a farm; and I'm a farmer yet. But if they were on a farm, the woman took care of the chickens almost entirely. It was seldom that a man took care of the chickens. That was woman's work. And, more especially in the people of German extraction, the women would carry the swill pail to the hogs. Maybe you don't know what a swill pail is! Well, every kitchen had a swill pail, and that's the name it went by, and into it went— well, we would call it garbage, but into that went liquid leavings, like the glass of milk that had been partly drunk, or the coffee that was left in the cup or the coffeepot. ^And, if water was scarce, the dishwater always went into the swill pail and sometimes even if water was not scarce. It was quite common to em pty the dishpan, when you were through with the dishes, into the swill pail. And, in a great many homes a woman carried that and put it in the trough for the hogs. And, she did quite a lot of the garden work. In some cases, in many cases, she did all of the garden work; and every farm had a garden, of course. And, as now, it was quite common that she led the family devotions. And, she, in many families, ruled the children more, perhaps, than is common now. Although, I don't know, perhaps the fathers still don't pay much attention to the children. Leave them to the wife and the winds to grow up as best they can! And, she belonged to the circle of her church, and there were years that it went by the name of The Ladies Aid. And, they didn't divide it up into bun ches, it was all the women of the church. And, she taught school, most ly, and there were a few piano teachers. And, in general, they were the head of the children before the children were mature. And after they were mature, they got acquainted with their father more. And, as nearly as I can tell, women were more content to just be a housewife than they are now. I think they had a real contentment in their role. And they really looked to the men more for opinion and counseling and that sort of thing, although there has always been— this is one that I read and it was good. A woman was entertaining a friend, and the hostess' husband came stamping in and told the two women what he thought of the President and the Congress and the weather and one thing and an other, until he had finished what he had to say, he said, "I am the head of this household, and my wife knows it." And he stamped out. And when the sound of his footsteps had died away, his wife said, "Yes, he is the head of this house and I know it, but I'm the neck that turns the head, and he doesn't know it!" (Laughter) Well, that sort of defined a woman's position at that time. The husband was the head, but quite a lot of the women were the neck. Does that sort of define it?
SS: That certainly does— goes a long ways towards defining it. It's a bigquestion, because it involves the whole society. Do you think that wom en in farms— rural areas had a much different kind of role than the women in towns? Of, course, I realize that on farms they had to do farm tasks, but do you think there was a very great difference between ?
CG: I think there was quite a difference, mostly. There would be exceptions,perhaps. But, I think mostly you knew which was the farm woman and which was the town woman. I think their lives were so different. The automobile coming in had a big effect on that matter. If a woman had to go and harness the farm team and hitch them to the lumberwagon, a buggy, if they had one—but everybody didn't—but she had to harness the team and hitch them to a vehicle and drive at a rate of six or eight miles an hour, she wasn't going to do a lot of going. In fact, she was n't going to do much of any going except on Saturday, when the father,-- and Dad used to be Father or Pa, but there was no Dad— either he would go to town, or she would go to town or the whole family would go. And, there was this difference— when a mother went anywhere, of course, she took the children with her. What else could she do? There was no such thing as a babysitter. And, nobody felt the need of it. And it is true I don't think the children at that time were so much better, really, al though we didn't have this crime wave or anything similar to it in any way—but I don't mean to say that they were b£tter, but they were dif ferent. That is to say, if the mother took three or four young child ren with her, she would sit them each on a chair at an age when their feet would stick straight out before them, and they would sit there and they might possibly exchange words with each other once in a while, but they didn't interrupt conversations, and they were not noisy, and they didn't ask for anything to play with and they sat there. That was it. And they might sit there for a couple of hours without ever getting down or being among those present at all! So that people at that time were not like the people at this time. The adults had to be different or they could not have produced that difference in the children.
SS: Was it a demanding— an asserting of authority— demanding that the kidsrespect the authority of the parents and the rules and be obedient— just unquestioning?
CG: i think that the difference in the feminine and mascule authority overthe children was just about the same as it is now. That is to say, — I wonder if I can express this just like I want it— the mother has a field of authority in which the children recognize it and are obedient. And the father has more of an overreach—the mother does not reach into the father's authority; but the father's authority does overreach the household. It's like this: A friend of mine between here and Troy had taken me out to visit her one day and she was going to bring me home, and the grandchildren had come from Troy to Grandma's for a visit, and she was going to bring the children in the car with her she brought me home. Well, the children got into the car and they started a regu lar rumpus royal, and Grandma told them they would have to be quiet beGROVE fore she could start the car. And, Grandma asked them to be quiet, and Grandma begged them to be quiet and she urged them to be quiet, and the riot went right on] And, Dad stepped up to the car and he just simply looked in at them for a little bit until they got quiet, which they did when Dad looked in there! And he simply said, quietly,"No fighting in the car." and walked away. And those children didn't put on another bit of rumpus the whole way to town. (Chuckles) that is the difference between mascule and feminine authority over children. I don't know well, yes, I do know why it is. The feminine and the masculine were created in that mold. And when you come right down to it, it isn't a bad mold.
SS: It means that the children have a certain amount of fear of their father, which they really don't have for their mother? Am I correct in say ing that?
CG: They don't feel toward the mother— I don't mean toward the mother— Imean the mother's authority— they don't feel toward it as they do to ward father's authority. It can be that there is a mother who is in the habit of whipping her children to get obedience, and she doesn't get it as father gets it. And perhaps he is always just simply quiet and mild with the children. But the male and the female were created as they were created, and we can't get around it! We can try, but we don't succeed.
SS: Could the mother on a farm— how would you consider her responsibilityas compared to the father's? I mean to make decisions and that kind of thing? Her power to make decisions, as compared to the father's? Did she have to consult with him on any matter of importance?
CG: Well, depending on what it was. There were areas of strictly femininework like cooking and so on, that she just ad-libbed as she pleased, and she was supposed to. But, if it came to any business matter then father's word was, unless she could persuade him, which some of us are pretty good at doing sometimes. But, the father must be consulted on all business, and if there was some thing that a child f doing that upsetting to the household, and wouldn t stop it for the mother, she relayed it to the father and let him deal with it, so that they recog nized the father's authority in a way they didn't the mother's, and yet there were many things that the mother's authority was first. Intimate things about— especially with little children. Although it was and still is a fact that— take a young baby that is very fretful and is crying and fussing and the mother can't quiet it, if the father takes it frequently the child quiets at once. Well, for one thing, some wom en say they are as strong as a man; they are not, it doesn't come out that way in a test. And, ( child doesn't feel any give as though it might, you know, slip out from. mother's arm, with father it doesn't feel that give, it feels the muscle that's under it, and that of itself is quieting. And, as a usual thing, the father is longer armed and broader shouldered and makes a more comfortable resting place for the child, more the size that it needs. So that both father and mother have a place and neither one is greater than that of the other. It's different but not greater.
SS: When you express the feeling that women were more contented in the roleof homemaker than they are now— I find that interesting. Because it seems as though women had less authority than they have now. It seems as though, if the men made the decisions. I think in today's modern marriage decisions are looked at as being a matter of mutual consent, perhaps moreso than it used to be.
CG: Well, that is very personal to each. It isn't anything a person cangeneralize, and there are women at the present time who do have the old-time sense, and there are men who do have the old-time sense, but they are not so common. And, in my opinion, — on the radio I heard this scientist explain that the chemical effect of the chlorine that was ordered inAall drinking water, was ordered there by the Communists because its chemical effect is to reduce responsibility. And,Athe ir responsibility of the people at the present time is a shocking thing. So, I think perhaps that scientist might have been right that chlorine reduces responsibility.
SS: Do you think that the amount of responsibility that the women had inthose days was fair, was just? Or do you think that its been better to widen the rights and opportunities for women to go outside of the home and make their way in any way they can?
CG: Well, I think that that was about the same from the time of Adam andEve until today. I doubt if it has varied greatly. While it's true that we have this women's lib and other foolishness now, but still down at the foundation of the matter, I think the ratio is perhaps somewhat the same. People are people, and they are different in different or to put it more correctly, they behave differently in different For instance; when I was a child, if I had addressed you as Sam, I would have been in high disgrace. Adults were Mr. and Mrs. and among the adults they were Mr. and Mrs. unless they were extremely intimate friends or related. We had none of this first name business. It just wasn't done.
SS: Did that mean that the friendships themselves were different in thosedays?
CG: Well, they — the behavior was different. And, in my opinion, the lackof formality that we have now »was promoted to promote the sex situation that prevails at the present time. And, I think everybody admits that it does prevail. The formality of our address; the fact that no such thing as male and female going down the street holding hands or with their arms around each other— there was no such thing seen or heard of— it just wasn't known. You couldn't do that. And I think that formality is a check on loose sexuality.
SS: This makes me think of a question that I have from when we talked before about divorce and about why divorce was considered so wrong in those days. Nowdays, of course, it's common as cake, it's not unusual at all.
CG: Well, we have the scripture for it that there is only one reason fordivorce; just one, no more. And the people were closer to following the scriptural mandates than they are now. That would be one reason. And another reason— men and women were more content at that time than they are now. They were not up in the air all the time. They were— they either had or didn't have- whichever it was- and they were content with it. I'm old-time enough that in a prayer of thanksgiving I al ways say, that I have everything. Well, some people say I don't have nothin'! That my house isn't fit to live in, that it isn't right at at all. The furniture isn't right; nothings right. If I say the truth of the matter, that I am content with it, on what grounds are they going to be able to say that I don't have everything? If I felt something was lacking I couldn't be content. But I say that I have everything, and I do. That is to say, that I'm content with what I have. And, when I was a child people were not rife with nerves, like they are now. They didn't have nerves as they do now. They weren't always busy with some thing or other. Occasionally there would be someone who kept much bus ier than anybody else did, and it was noticeable. It was remarkable— "What was the matter with her, anyway?"
SS: Nerves meaning— you're thinking of someone that was— couldn't sit stillfor example?
CG: They could sit still. They could sit quietly down reading the newspaper.They didn't have to have a Wild West, and the newspapers were clean. And there wasn't so much reporting of what crime and so on that there was.
SS: What was it you said that a person who was nervous as standing out? Whatwould a nervous person be lifce ? Someone who couldn't sit still? Who was
CG: Someone who was wild with nerves was noticeable as one, not as the mass,but as one, and they were very noticeable. There was a contentment pre vailing. And, I went through hardtimes, and people took it hard, but they didn't go wild about it to other people. If they had any wildness they kept it to themselves. I remember Mother always feeding the men who came to the door asking for a handout. One time a neighbor woman told me, "Yes, and someday your mother's going to get killed by one of those men." Well, I ran home quickly and told her and she said, "No, no man is as dangerous as a hungry man, so I just feed him." Well, that's logic. And a man who is hungry is more unfortunate than one who isn't. Mother just fed them over and over and over.
SS: When you were young and growing up, a man or a woman who was divorced —was a person divorced regarded as someone not trustworthy?
CG: They were not quite accepted like other people were. They were just alittle on the outer fringe. And divorces were so rare. As much as^ like sixty years ago a bunch of us were together one day and one of them spoke about a recent divorce and when the others had threshed it over, this one woman said, "Well, I always say if I can't get along with the husband £ have, how do I know that I' U get along with any other one?" That was the opinion— she had expressed the opinion of the world. That if you can't do with one partner maybe you wouldn't with any other. And there was very little divorce. And, I don't remember just when it was, but I do remember that I began to notice when a man would divorce his wife, way back when.I was a child and so on, a man wouldn't think of getting a divorce. He might threaten his wife into her getting a divorce for his benefit, but he didn't ask for a divorce anymore than he'd said, "Well, go on open the doors and put my coat on me and do the things you should." It just wasn't done. But, I noticed in the paper now and then that a man had divorced his wife.
SS: The age of marriage for young people— was it much different when youwere growing up than now?
CG: I could very well say there was no such thing as double teen marriage.It's true that a girl might marry at eighteen or nineteen, which was considered young, and a way back in my grandmother's time in the 1820's and 30's and 40's, it was considered that a girl should be married be fore she was twenty, definitely. She must be married in her teens. But I don't remember any marriage way back in which both were teenage. A girl might marry a man who could vote, that was a recognized age of some importance, and it was twenty-one; which should be twenty-five at the present time, instead of eighteen.
SS: Did young people learn responsibilities at a younger age?As to what they learned— they learned responsibility about living, where as now they learn science and all that kind of thing. There was that sharp difference. The young people might go through high school but the necessity for taking anything beyond high school— it wasn't consid ered there was any necessity for it. Of course, some did go to college but not by hordes. It was a few who went to college. We had a college in the town in which I lived for some years in my youth, it was known as Redfield College, which it wasn't, but it was in Redfield, South Dak ota. First it was in Redfield, Dakota Territory, before the state was divided. It was a Congregational school maintained by the Congregation al Church in general, not of the town.but the general conference.
SS: You described to me the story of the—
CG: That college had men and women well up in their twenties and some of themin their thirties who were learning geography and math and all that kind of thing, because they hadn't been to high school. And we did have one little boy there, he was young enough that he was still wearing knee trousers, that was a mark of whether you were considered adult, was whe ther you wore knee trousers or could have long ones, and this little fellow was still wearing the long black stockings and knee trousers. His mother had died; his father was a pastor of the church in some town near. And he had this one boy on his hands when his wife died, and he didn't know how to care for the boy and to go on with his pastorate work. I think at the present time any boy like that would have been considered that he could forage for himself. He didn't need any looking after or anything. But anyway, whether it interfered with his pastorate, or whe ther he thought it was too lonesome for the boy, or whatever, he sent him to college, and there he was with this group of men. And I used to think just how lonesome he must feel in the dorm, at the table, in class, every where with all grown people. But he was there for the rest of the school year. I don't know what became of him then.
SS: We talked a little bit about the difference between women on farms andin town, and I'm curious in a more general way of the difference between country life and town life in the early days when you were growing up.
CG: Well, for one thing, the farm women in general did not keep up with thefashions like the town women did. Of course, farming at that time was not a very lucrative proposition. The crops were poor and the prices were low, so that in some cases it was impossible— many cases— but in general, the farm women did not keep up with the fashions like the town women did. Since it is more difficult to attend school if you live out of town, than if you live in town where the school is, and the school that is near you goes only through the eighth grade, —there was a school on every quarter section— but it went only through the eighth grade, and in general they did not have as much book education as the town women did. Although, £Q far as newspapers were concerned, I think they were receiving more attention from farm women than they were from town women. The farm woman didn't go to the evening meetings whatever it was, which would be held in town, but she'd read the paper and she knew what the news was, and she knew what politics was doing, although I don't know that women ever talked politics, I never heard them talking it.
SS: But you think she knew what was going on in any case?
CG: I think she knew pretty well whatever was in the newspaper.
SS: Do you think the farm people in the country had a certain amount of distrust of the townspeople and their way of living?
CG: Well, the cooking was far different in town than in the country. In thecountry if you were mashing the potatoes you put in a big lump of butter half a cup of cream, in town you put in a quarter of a cup of skimmed milk. There was that difference in cooking. And, in town now and then they could buy a steak for a quarter. My father used to go downtown and buy a quarter's worth of steak and the family was fed steak. And people on the farms, mostly, did their own butchering so that they had hams and bacon and steak and roasts and everything. And that made a big difference in how the cooking went on. And the very fact that the woman helped with saving the new calves, like taking it into the kitchen if it was a cold weather calf until it got on it's feet and full of milk. And she took care of the chickens, and now and then she took the horses to water. And you know, handling livestock put something into the system that isn't there otherwise. It makes a little difference. (Chuckles) Perhaps I should tell you— it's a story of the early, early days in Moscow, very early days—I heard it when I first came here. It happened just right down ., across here, on the creek. There was one house the other side of the creek. The man who lived in it was in the habit of, after he was through his day's work coming into town and get ting pretty well hopped up with liquor. But to go home to where he liv ed across the creek, there was just a log to cross the creek on. So one time he had gotten pretty well filled up with liquor and he started home and he got across the log without falling in. It was currently told that he always fell into the creek. It would be.of course. But this time he didn't fall in and he went to the door of this one house and knocked and a woman opened the door and he said, "Lady, would you please tell me where"— he mentioned his name, "lives?" And she said, "You do, you old fool. Don't you know your own house?" He said, "No, lady, I don't live here I didn't fall in the creek]" (Chuckles) That was a favorite story here in the early days. And, in those early days when I came— that was early— the old-timers would tell me, "Huh, you've hardly arrived yet." When I'd been here twenty or thirty years! But Hays Street was practically thai"edge of the town, and just on the other side of Hays Street there was a house in a few acres of ground that were cultivated, right there facing on Hays, and Orchard Avenue was, the whole thing, was clear out in the country. And the settlement that's just south of the campus was the King Dairy, and as far south of the creek. There was a house on the hilL and one or two down closer to the creek.
SS: When you grew up in South Dakota you must have seen much more the tailend of the real pioneering, because I imagine there was still a lot of the homesteaders in the country where you grew up.
CG: I have seen a lot of pioneering. I was raised in it in South Dakota—not South Dakota, Dakota Territory—I was about four when we went onto Father's homestead there, and that was pioneer, no fooling about that! We had a large claim house. It was larger than these two rooms a little, I'd say, but it wasn't as large as the whole house, I would say, and that was quite a large house. So they had school in our house, and my Aunt Ellen Connor taught the school. In those times a rule was a rule and that's it! And it was a rule that a child did not go to school un til he was six. Well, I was five and my brother was two years younger, and then we had four older than we were; two girls and two boys. Well, that four were in school, but Freddie and I were not old enough for School. And with Mother who went on with her baking or sewing or what ever, we had one end of the schoolroom and the school was in the other end. And at one time, a terrible storm, it might have been a blizzard, I don't remember it, but, anyway, as it struck and before it immediately got thick, everybody was started home. Aunt Ellen, who was teaching, and her youngest brother was in school, and her oldest brothers' older children were in school. That was the school. And they were all started home, all got home. And I saw pioneer life there. And I saw pioneer life in North Dakota in the end of the 1800's. And there the people were very interesting. There was the Slav-Russian and the German-Rus sian and the Scandinavians and here and there there were some Americans. But they were not too common. And one of the Slav-Russians had built his house, I think as they did in Russia, of sod, and as they did in all of the new countries; built of sod, because there wouldn't be any thing else. And a sod house properly put up is a real house. The bliz zards don't go through it, and the heat of the sun in summer don't go through it. But they had built their house of sod and they had built the windows right in with the sod. They didn't open at all. And the only way into a house was through the door that opened in through the barn. You went through the barn, down the alley between the two rows of stock, and then you got into the house where the windows could not be opened, and that was the only door.^ My brother was in a harvest crew that traded work at this place. At that time, for harvest or anything that required more men, they traded work. They didn't hire, and he was in the crew that was trading work. And he said it was just almost more than he could live through to sit at the table while they had dinner! But that's the way they lived. One of the girls was in my school. Her hair was black, but actually her hair was gray with the lice that were in it! And she just endured it. The Slav-Russian is of a very low walked on order. They have never had any opportunity at all, and they are a very low people. But of the German-Russians— I had in one school a little girl named Amanda Markmakowski. Her father had died, her mother was Russian, so she spoke Russian. And her stepfather was German, so she spoke German, and she spoke both of the languages. She was eight years old. She spoke both of the languages fluently, and spoke English without any accent of either of her other languages. So there she was at eight years competent with three languages. She had big gray eyes, and when she stood to recite, she looked straight into my eyes and never turned her gaze once, and whatever I said she could repeat verbatim any time afterwards. She took it all. I never had such a remarkable child as she was.
SS: I didn't know that you taught school.
CG: Oh, I taught for seven years before I married. I taught in South Dakotaand North Dakota and Montana. And in Montana, it was new there when I there, not the really new, but they told me a good many of the early day tales, and they would tell me about Brother Van. Brother Van was the Reverend Willian Van Orsdell. He was the first Methodist mis sionary ever to go to Montana Territory. Well, it was a state at the time I lived there, but it had been a territory when he there. And he got with the people to the extent that he had no name but Brother Van, to such an extent that in his final illness he said, "Now on my stone put nothing but two dates and the words Brother Van." So his stone is marked with two dates and Brother Van. And on Rock Creek, that was settled a little more than Trout Creek where I lived, and they were a slightly different set of people. And he went there preaching at cer tain intervals— stated intervals— and everybody would turn out for the preaching. And they wanted him to come and have Thanksgiving din ner. In that neighborhood the people all got together every Thanksgiv ing Day and had a general dinner. And they wanted him to join them. And he said, "Well, I'll tell you what I'll do." He said, "If you'll build a church here, like you ought to, I'll have Thanksgiving dinner with you every year as long as I live." Which he did as long as he was able to travel that far. He got a horse, he went horseback just as other people did.
SS: Did he have to ride^circuit? Did he have to ride a circuit? Did hehave a wide area to cover?
CG: He rode a circuit, and he rode a horse. And he got in with the Indians.There wasn't anybody he couldn't make friends with. And the Indians took him on a buffalo hunt, and they waited very politely for him to shoot the first buffalo, which he did. And then they, with their arrows got their buffalo. But he was riding on a part of his circuit one night, it was dark and rain was pouring, and he thought, "Well, nobody is going to go to that schoolhouse a night like this. If I see a light anywhere I'm going to stop and ask to spend the night." Well, he saw a light and went to the door and knocked and the girl with a shotgun in her hands came to the door. He introduced himself and asked if he could spend the night. She said, "No, you can't." She said, "We have only one spare bed and we're keeping that for J)pother Van, and we can't keep you. And my mother and father are at the schoolhouse now waiting for Brother Van." So he got back in the saddle and went on in a hurry. And they took him home with them at the close of the meeting and this girl he became engaged to. And just days before they were to be mar ried, without any explanation that anybody could think of she died. And he never paid the slightest attention to any woman specially, you know, after that. Just lived by himself and went on with his work. And at one time someone hunted up Brother Van in a hurry and they told him that the Indians had taken a certain man captive and that they were camp ed about two miles from Gregory Flat, and would he be able to do anything about getting the man? Well, he got into his saddle and went out there in a hurry and when he got to Gregory Flat he dropped the reins so his horse would stay there and started this two miles back to where the Indians would be camped.
And when he got back the dogs started barking and he knew he'd been heard, that thedogs knew he was coming and there for knew that something was doing and he started singing. He loved to sing. He had a sort of a tenor voice, not a clear high tenor, but a very good tenor voice, and he did love to sing. And he started singing when the dogs started barking. Well, when he got to the camp the Indians were sitting in a circle around the^campfire, and he just simply went and sat down among them and sat there until the chief began after a while to talk to him. The Chief passed the peace pipe and he took his pull on the peace pipe and passed it on. And after a while the Chief spoke to him, and he said what he had come to to see this man, and he let the Indian lead the talking and he'd talk a little now and then and he seemed to know just the thing to say. So after a while the Chief told someone to go and cut the man's bindings loose. So the man got on his feet and the Chief told he could go now and take the man with him. So they left. That was Brother Van. And there the story, I didn't hear it direct, but I've heard it— but this I heard so direct that there was no question on the story at all. But it was said that Brother Van always wore his pulpit clothing so that they would recognize him as a divine. And he was wearing his pul pit clothing and a posse came along hunting for a horse thief and one of the posse said, "That's the man." So they seized Brother Van. And he said, no, he wasn't the thief "We'll hang you anyway and then we'll ask the questions when we get you hung." Well, he said he wasn't the thief, he was Brother Van. And one of the men said, "Well, I know how we can tell whether he's Brother Van or not. I've heard him sing,"— I can't think of what the story was, the hymn—"but I've heard him sing that. Let him sing it now and I'll know whether that's Brother Van or not." So Brother Van started on the hymn and after a little this man said, "That is Brother Van. There is no question about it!" And this time he wasn't wearing his pulpit suit for some reason. But after that he never was out without his pulpit suit on.
SS: What part of Montana was this? Where in Montana?
CG: It was the other side of Great Falls, between Great Falls and Lewistownand and Harlow
SS: What was it like being a teacher during those years that you taught inthe little schoolhouses? I imagine that conditions must have been fairly rugged then?
CG: Well, they were rugged but we were rugged, tool And you can believeit or not, my very first school I had twenty-five dollars a month, my own, twenty-five dollars month! And I had about a dozen pupils, I think, there might have been a bit more than that, but not much, if there was any . And, at that time, they handed you a contract and a broom and a fire shovel and you were all ready to teach! So, they told me I could board with Mrs. Mead. So I went over to Mrs. Mead's and they told me it was a little over a mile— about a mile— well, to me a mile was nothing, I could walk it in fifteen minutes without hurrying. And, I went over and she said, yes, she would keep me for ten dollars a month. Well, that wasn't my first school, that was my second, but, I said, "I paid only eight dollars at my other school." She said, "Yes, but I have to have ten dollars and I'll do your washing, too." Well, that was something. So, for ten dollars I had my board and lodging and washing! And then I had fifteen left. And we had readin , writin, and 'rithmetic, that's what we had. And if they were old enough, they had a geography book. And you were just somebody when you got to the place where you could have a geography book! But, you had a reader and you had a speller— and could they spell! They learned the letters that went into each word, and they knew how to say them. And, I'd tap my bell and the next class would come up and stand in front of me—I was sitting on my rostrum, about a foot or a little higher, maybe eighteen inches high— I was sitting at my desk up there and they stood before me and they recited for fifteen minutes and I tapped my bell and they went and sat down and went on with their work. And they had good times together. There was one school I taught in which these little Slav-Russian boys came in and they were crying, and they said, "The girls won't let me play." And, I said, I knew why— I said, "Why don't they let you play?" They said our hands are too dirty. I said, "Well, when you go home, you wash your hands with soap until they're just real clean all over, and the girls' let you play tomorrow." Well, they did, they had orders! But, oh, their hands! You can't imagine^a human being could be as dirty as those boys were. And, they did, they washed their hands, but they didn't go any farther. (Chuckles) But I felt sorry for the poor little youngsters.
SS: Did you find that there were wide differences in ability among the children you taught? Did you find among the children that you taught that there were wide differences? In ability?
CG: Yes, there was. Yes, this second school that I spoke of— there was aboy who— well, I wouldn't say he wasn't bright, he was just an ordinary youngster, but he couldn't take books as fast as the rest of them did, and I was too inexperienced to recognize the problem for what it was, and could have been done. But, he was a nice little boy and about living, you didn't see any difference in him and any of the rest of them.
At another school I had a girl that came to school just a little while,she was the oldest of the family and she was ten or eleven at this time. And because she had never been in school enough to learn to use a book, it was very difficult for her, and she came just a little while. They were Russian, but not Slav* And, I did have some that were really bright. And I had one boy that stammered quite badly. And I wrote a note to his mother and asked her if there was something I could do to help him get over it. She sent back a note saying, "Let him alone, don't say anything about it. Just let him alone." Well, I'm not sure that was the thing to do, but I did. But he did stammer badly, and that held him backward, because he was so selfconscious. The brother older was one of those people that just takes with everybody; he was a wonder ful boy. And then they had— then they had two-- well, they really were adult sisters—they were, I think fifteen and seventeen. They were the two first of the children. And they had six children in school and they had two more at home at the same time, and I heard afterward that they had one or two more than that. Their farming wasn't panning out at all, and they were living on practically nothing. But the mother was a very superior person, very superior. And she took in sewing^ And did those youngsters know how to work! They'd better learn] I know I was there one time when she asked the oldest girl to do something or other and the girl was dipping something into something and she turned to one of the others and she says, "Hand me that—" And the mother said, "Ollie, when you start something, before you start it you say to yourself, "Now what am I going to need while I do that." And you get it." That's the way she brought her youngsters up. And they were nice children. And the father was such a good soul. Slow, but so good.
SS: Was the lot of this family unusual, or was it common that the familiesthere were having a rough time makinga go of it?
CG: Well, six at that time was not considered a large family. If you wentbeyond six, it was getting a little sizeable, but six was not a large family.
SS: I mean, their lot, as far as having a hard time getting along, like theywere having? Was that common for families in the area? Was everybody struggling? Most people struggling?
CG: Nearly all of them. Nearly all of them were having a struggle. Forone thing, it just wasn't a crop climate. There was a time there in the earliest days that the annual rainfall was fourteen inches. Well, that's supposed to be below anything that will raise a crop. And they hadn't gotten onto how to farm as much as they did later. And then later I heard one year, in a letter, about that the crops were being rained out. I said, "Well, I'll believe that when I see it!" Well, in that same summer or the next, I was on a train from Huron to Redfield and in build ing the railroads they always made a ditch alongside, and it was gumbo land; and gumbo holds the rain almost like plastic would, and right be side the track in this ditch, that was about that wide, I think, corn was planted and water was standing inches deep on the corn and the corn was yellow and puny. I've seen crops rained out.
SS: What area was this that you're describings what part of Dakota?
CG: It was— well, I began in Falk County. All my teaching was in FalkCounty,Amy certificate was from Falk County. And it's way east of the Missouri River, Aberdeen on the north and Huron on the south,— I guess Huron was about as much south as it was east—but there was Brookings and Redfield was the town for that part.
SS: Well, were most of the people on the farms still optimistic of beingable to be successful, or was that period of boom already past?
CG: In the very early days, there was a stream of prairie schooners, that iscovered wagons, going West and a stream of them going East. And one of them that was going East had a sign on it that said, "Going back to wife's folks!" (Chuckles) So that was for some years like that. And then, after a while, I think people began to believe that they were going to make a success of it.
SS: I think one more thing about this teaching—. What made you decide tobecome a teacher?
CG: Because my older sister compelled me to (Chuckles) She knew what wasproper for me! She had the idea— I wanted to be a nurse, I wanted to take training. I might even see a man in his bed if I nursed! She wasn't going to have me in any occupation like that! So I had to teach. And, I guess I made a success of it. I had a letter from the chairman of the board of directors of one school that I might teach his school anytime I wanted to. And nobody complained that I know.
SS: Was it hard for you to teach because it was not what you wanted to do?Or did you just go ahead and do it anyway?
CG: No, I liked it. I liked it. I enjoyed it. I've done quite a lot ofkinds of work. Enough that at eighty-two I matriculated over here at the University (Idaho) In this little space at the bottom that says "What occupations have you followed?" I filled all of that space and went all around all the margins with different jobs I'd worked at! But I can't say that there were any of them that I objected to, really. They were all right; it was work and they had remuneration, to some ex tent, at least. I don't think I hated anything I did, no matter what it was. And in my teaching, well, there were interesting things that came up, pleasant things and sometimes there would be something funny. I really enjoyed it. In one quizz I had asked the question, Name some natural curiosity of South Dakota. One boy wrote cabbages and apples! He was right. Cabbages and apples were very scarce. (Chuckles) But it was an odd reply.
SS: Talking about the circuit riding. I was wondering, did you ever attenda revival? A religious revival?
SS: What were they like then?
CG: Well, I attended one that impressed me more than any other one. It wasin a church, we had a small church at Garneill, Montana, and the people of the little settlement were there and there were some people who had come some miles to attend the meeting. This was not I think Rever end Van it was not Brother Van. The building was filled to a mea sure that it was physically filled— not only myself—but everybody felt the Holy Spirit filling that building. Everybody was held spellbound, and one man rose to testify; he was just an uneducated sheepherder, and he rose and faced us, he had his cap in his hands, and he rolled his cap over and over and over and the preacher said, "Well, the brother has no thing-he can say to us." The man was totally unable to say one word. But he'd made his testimony. My brother told me of a meeting in a town in Montana— I wish that I could remember the name of that town, but I can't— it's toward Great Falls, not so far out of Great Falls, they were having a revival there, and this brother of mine and two uncles went in from where they were camped in their prairie schooner, and attend ed the meeting. And the brother said that when the altar call was made the people just sat. There was no movement whatever, they just sat. And the pastor tried talking; he wasn't getting anywhere. And these two uncles of mine, one of them was very dignified and quiet and backward, and the other one was of the cannonball type. In fact, he was elected to the legislature at the time the workingmen were trying to put over the eight hour law, and to the time he died he had one of the pens with which the Governor signed the bill, and they put him in to work for the bill.
And it was largely his work that got it in. Well, he was just that cannonball type. He could just be sitting and he'd just rise up and every body would notice him. And he'd start to speak and they'd just sit there with their eyes on him listening. So when the preacher was having no suc cess with his altar call, Uncle Charlie just simply got up and started talking and my brother said that in just minutes— two or three minutes— they altar was full of people! And he, himself,— I don't know that he ever claimed to be Christian, or whether he didn't. I don't know. But, anyway, just the fact that he was talking— He's the only one anywhere in the whole connection that I ever knew being like that. I do have a nephew who makes friends with everybody. He told me one time, it's a fact, he said he could stand on a street corner in any city in the United States and inside of an hour somebody would pass him, stand ing on the street corner, that he knew from reading about him, or had met or personally f(new, he said he had tried it, and there never was a time but in an hour that person would pass. And the memory he had. He could go back to the time he was four or five years old and tell you exactly what had happened at what place, when. And one time someone— I had a bunch of college men eating here one time and my nephew was here a whileand one time one of them mentioned a baseball game some years back, something special about it that they'd been talking and he'd mentioned this, and this nephew of mine spoke up and said, "Yes, and the score was " He named the two teams and the score of each of them several years back. I never saw anything like it.
SS: Before you get off the subject of revivals, I wanted to know more aboutwhat that revival was like, the one you mentioned that was so moving. Because we have little record in this area of what they revivals were like. What was involved in them.
CG: These people were stricken with it, with the Spirit, but there was no response to the altar call.
SS: No, I don't mean the one with your brother, I mean the one before that.You described being in the hall with the feeling of the Holy Spirit.
CG: That was in a church. Well, that's the one I mean. That's the one Imean when I say that the people were stricken, there was no response, which I couldn't understand. But that's the way it was.
SS: How did they usually go? Were they long, the revivals? Did they lastfor days, or just for a short period of time?
CG: They might last for, oh, two or three or four evenings, or they mightbe just one evening. Frequently were only one evening, more frequently. And then there were the camp meetings, and they lasted a week. And at the camp meetings— well, they just had a series of service right down through the day. Made use of all the time they were there. But it was a session of classes with learning and^the great speakers of the nation speaking on whatever that speaker's topic was. They were an educational affair, and they were quite largely attended. That was a paid attend ance. You paid for attending.
SS: To think of what Christianity was like in those days; for instance, wasthe Sabbath observed very strictly?
CG: With many people it was. My grandmother observed it so strictly that oneday when my sister said to her, "Grandmother, are you going to wash to morrow?" And Grandmother said, "I try to observe the Sabbath." She wouldn't say yes or no! And there was— when I lived near Garneill,— there was a Phillipps family there that the mother and the sons went on running the farm after the father died. And one day a neighbor man rode over and Mrs. Phillipps was a great worker, and here was Mrs. Phillipps all dressed up in her Sunday best, and he wondered how that was, but she asked the man in and took him into the parlor and here'-sat the P.hilipps family in their Sunday best sitting around the room, and he talked a little while and Mrs. Phillipps was just as usual and everybody else was, only they were just sitting dressed up. And finally, he said,"Mrs. Phillipps is there something wrong, has something happened to you? Is anything the matter?" She said, "Well, why do you ask?" "Well," he said, "I was surprised when you folks work the fields continuously that you were all sitting here dressed up." She said, "I alwa*- observe the Sabbath that way." He said, "Yes, but this is Monday!" (Laughter) And she said, "Well, anyway we observed the Sabbath. Go get your work clothes on and go to work!" (More laughter) She was quite a woman.
SS: In the use of scripture then— I get the idea that scripture and thequotation, the citing of scripture, was much more important then than in Christianity today. Is that true?
CG: That is true. We had the King James Version of the Scripture and wedidn't need anything else to go with it. We used that, and it was very common and most of the homes had a great, big, family bible. A book about that thick, probably. Something like that size. And it had the King James version of the Bible and then it had blank leaves for family records and all that. And that was very common. We never knew what became of ours. I had a sister who married a widower, and when my sis ter died his children went in and took what they wanted and burned the rest. And we don't know whether they took the bible or burned it. And my sister had Grandmother's sidesaddle, be worth five thousand dollars right now, whether they took or burned it, we don't know. But, any way that's the way things go. You can just say with belief in it that nothing is safe; anything is likely to happen.
SS: The preacher that you were telling me about— the preacher who you werejust telling me about before that had all the adventures and was so well known—
CG: Van Orsdell.
SS: Did you see him?
CG: Oh, yes, I knew him personally. At one time he and I were both on thetrain from Moore to Lewistown—it isn't Lewiston, it's Lewistown— we were both on the train. He was sitting in the back of the coach with a bunch of men and they were having a good time laughing and joking and as we all rose to go out when the train got to Lewistown, I waited f@r the jam to get out of the door, I was in no hurry, like jamming with the rest of them, so I simply stood until a little of the crush would be by, and he came along and he was a great, big, tall man, and he stooped down over me and he said, "Oh, Sister, I am so frightened, can you tell me which bus to take?" (Chuckles) Well, there was one cab, and he had said, "can you tell me which cab to take?" There was one horsedrawn cab in town! (Chuckles) And he'd known the place when it was just a vil lage. But that was Brother Van. He always had to have his fun.
SS: What was he like to listen to as a preacher?
CG: He didn't have sermons. He'd get up to preach a sermon and— well, he'dquote some scripture and maybe he'd make a few remarks and he'd say some thing like, "I know you boys are having a hard time, but be as good as you can, won't you?" And then he'd start singing. And everybody would join in and they'd sing a hymn, and then he'd talk a little longer, and he'd hope their crops were coming well— he didn't preach a sermon at all. But he did put some very pointed remarks in here and there that fit ted, and he knew how to fit them. But you couldn't say that he ever preached a sermon. But he did love to sing. His favorite song was, "Beyond the smiling and the weeping, I shall be soon." Well, he wasn't very soon, his girlfriend wasl but he was getting I think, pretty well into the seventies perhaps, I'm not sure, just how old he was, but he wasn't a young man by any means.
SS: These stories that you were telling about him, I take it that these werestories that were fairly well known by the congregation?
CG: Yes. Yes, just common talk.
SS: The time that he came to the house at night and then went on to the meeting from there, did you ever hear whether there were many people at that meeting?
CG: No, I never did.
SS: Her parents were there anyway.
CG: Her parents were there. No, I never heard whether there were other people or nothing about it, because they'd told the story; that was it.
SS: Was there much talk about going to Heaven or being damned, when you wereyoung? In the services in church? Being saved?
CG: Well, distinctly, there was a Heaven and a Hell, and some prechexs harped on the two and other preachers didn't mention them. In Redfield, at one time, we had an extremely remarkable man. For his sermon that was preached the Sunday that— of the teachers' meeting when the certificates*- the examinations were made and the certificates were awarded, th:? group practically all went to his church Sunday morning, and knowing that they would be there, he had a collection of small stones that he had picked up here and there, there were plenty. And he compared life to those stones until— I wasn't at church that Sunday, my sister was— and she said as they went out the teachers were all saying wasn't that the most remarkable sermon you ever heard? Did you ever hear a better sermon? He had just captivated his audience with it. And he was very much given to small words that are in common use. He didn't have to use five or six syllables to a word to express himself. He just talked plain every day language in a plain everyday way. But he did preach remarkable ser mons and they were real sermons. But, I can't remember him ever talking about Heaven and Hell. He brought it right to the people today. He had come out on recommendation of a doctor that he bring his wife to a dif ferent climate. But she died in spite of all that could be done for her. He made himself very unpopular by, later on, I don't know, a couple of years or so, he married his wife's nitce, who had taken care of his wife in her last time. Well, his wife's miace was no relation to him, and there were some of the people who couldn there was anything wrong in him marrying her, but some of them were very bitter about it. But, he was a remarkable man.
SS: When you say his sermons were remarkable: does that mean that when thisidea, that he would get it down to the people and make it mean something in their lives?
CG: He could reach them. Yes, whatever he said, reached the people. Theyunderstood it. And I think they took it to heart. I know he was very popular up to the time he made his second marriage.
SS: I'm trying to understand more about the difference between the countryand town in the early days. And, I've had the idea from things people have said, towns often were not as friendly, to country people when they moved into town. The towns were in some ways more closed than neigh borhoods that were friendly and open. Is that true, do you think? Or does that just depend too much?
CG: I think perhaps that wasn't true to any great extent. It might havebeen localized here and there to a marked degree, but in general I would n't think there was such a great difference. And, there wasn't so much of country people moving into town as there is now. They probably just stayed on the farm until they died.
SS: Do you think that town people were more caught up in the idea of gettingahead and getting a better status in life than country people?
CG: No. No, I don't. It's true that they might make more display but Ithink the country people were just as ambitious and just as much inter ested in getting on as any town people could be. But, a person might have an idea from the fact that back in those early days the farming was so far from being remunerative as it has been at times since, that the people had no opportunity to get ahead as perhaps someone in the town did. And so they might have thought the town people were more am bitious with the people in the country working about eighteen hours a day and hoping and doing everything they could to get ahead. Near Redfield there was one farmer— and why others didn't take a pattern from him, I don't know—he planted wheat, oats, barley, speltz, corn, and he planted all the crops, about so much of it. Well, some of it would fail and some of it didn't. Every year, there was never a year that he didn't have some crops that gave him a return. And he had horses and mules and cattle and sheep and hogs and chickens and turkeys and ducks and geese. People would sometimes laugh-.at him about having such a mixture, he'd say, "Well, I get something, if I don't get it from one I get it from another." And yet, nobody took a pattern from him and he wasn't having a hard time. He was well-to-do. His son was going to college. Well, that meant that he could pay the college expenses and hire someone to take the son's place on the farm. It didn't worry him any. He really made a success of what he did.
SS: This idea of becoming successful and getting ahead in the early days—if farming wasn't paying well, then it seems like almost everybody that farmed wouldn't be doing too well until things changed quite a bit. And seems like— I wonder why many more people didn't become discouraged, or if they somehow believed in themselves that they were going to get ahead some day if they stuck with it long enough.
CG: People at that time were more stalwart than they are now, and they didn't become discouraged as much as people do now. They didn't become any thing extrovert as much as people do now. They had a trail that they followed, and if there was no trail there, they made one, and you just couldn't move them like you can people now. You didn't hear of all this moving around and so on. And, at that time, practically all of the old people, when they needed care were cared for by their own. It is true right now that in order to be employed, a great many men must move fre quently. And it is true, that when he gets into this next town, a one room apartment or at best, a one bedroom apartment is what he can pay for. Well, you can't take your parents into a place like that. People could before. I know a place in which a man and his wife, when they were old, were living with their son, and I'm sure they had only a one room shanty, and they lived there until the man died there. And he died on the third of July. Well, his body had to lie right there until burial so, they buried him the morning of the fourth of July. And the people all came to the funeral before they went to celebrate. But, there they lived, that old couple and the son in that one room shanty and there he died, and there he lay until they could bury him. Those things were not so uncommon. The trouble with the people now, in my opinion, began with the dole. The oh, what ?
SS: The WPA?
CG: Yes. The WPA and that kind of thing. That was handed out to the peopleto break their backbones and it did. And seeing that that broke their backbones, they've done more until they've broken us all up. But we had no such thing then. Our near ancestors, we didn't go way back to find it, the next generation back of us had probably been absolutely pioneers to a place where there was nothing, to where no human being had ever been. Well, you have to have backbone if you go to that place and come out. And a good many lived there and either got out and pioneered else where, or lost the pioneer spirit and stayed on what they had there. But they had a backbone that the people now don't know anything about at all. We're soft.
SS: The memories of pioneering that you heard and what you knew about— incases where the conditions were just rugged, the very beginnings like that, do you know of what different kinds of effort that demanded of— let's say the women, the wives in that kind of situation? Would women do the things that under normal conditions would never have to do to get by?
CG: They'd get by in any way that they could. It wasn't how do we do it?It was do we arrive? And they arrived. There were few deaths because of pioneering. In fact, I don't think I know of any death that was caused by pioneering. Back in my family, there were three sisters who lived together in a cabin in the woods. And in the spring one day, two of the sisters were out cleaning up the winter fall from the trees and so on, cleaning up around the house outside. And one of the sisters was in the house. It happened that she was the smallest of the three, but she was in the house and the other two cleaning up outside and one of them looked up from her raking outside and she said, "Sis-Hirs a bear;" And she and the sister that were outside ran in, and the sister that was inside grabbed the door and let them in and then she slammed the door and the three of them put their weight on the door and they had it with the bear's head in and his neck caught in the door. Well, this youngest sister happened to be the most expert, the little one-, she wasn't little because she was young, she was just the smallest— but being the smallest even then she was the most expert with an axe cr any of the sisters. So the two heavier sisters held the door, and of course, they kept the axe in the house, where would they keep it?— they had nothing but the house— she grabbed the axe and she chopped the bear's hear until the bear fell dead, and then the sisters fell down with ex haustion! Well, anyway, they had a bearskin. They could make mocassins or they could make a rug or whatever it was they needed. And, although it was in the spring, and the bear was almost meatless from it's winter hibernation, but still it would make soup, at least. So they were in! And they didn't think anything of that, it was just what came up and they had to do it, and they did it.
SS: Was that extremely rare for a woman or women to pioneer by themselves?
CG: No. It wasn't rare at all for a woman to be alone a long time. Nowwhether there was any one else who lived in this cabin at any time, I never heard. I just heard this much. But for a woman to be alone endlessly while her husband was gone to market a hundred miles away, or was hunting or whatever—
SS: Maybe out getting work someplace else.
CG: There an incident in our own family. The man— now when I say he was ahunter, I'm saying the same thing as though I had said he was a doctorhe was a blacksmith, he was anything else. A hunter was a man who pro fessionally was a hunter, and he made his living that way and provided skins and meat on a cash basis. Well, this man was a hunter and he would be gone sometimes long time on a hunt. And he was gone a long time and when he would go home— when he would get nearly home, close to homehe would go cautiously until he would get in sight of the house to see whether he had a house left-there or whether the Indians had burned it down, and they might still be around the fire. Well, he was going cau tiously the last way through the timber and he got where he could see and here was his wife and the three children, the youngest a baby in arms, and one of two years or so old, and one older than that, and his wife had saddled her horse and led it up to the stump that was the block and she had the baby in her arms and the two year old behind the saddle and the younger one standing on the block with her with the baby in her arms, and she was trying to get on with the baby in her arms and get the boy on the block up behind the saddle with the other child, but the horse, with anyone on the block would not go near it. It would keep circuling back away from the block, and she couldn't reach the one there, because she couldn't get the horse up to it. Well, then she got off and put the baby down on the block and put the older boy on behind the little one and got on and thought she'd pick up the baby, but the horse would not go to the block with the baby lying on it. And she was trying every maneuver she could make with the three children, and her husband watched her quite a while, and finally he showed himself and he said, "Wife, what are you trying to do?" She said, "I've stayed he along with the bear and the deer and the panther and the rest of them as long as I can and I'm going somewhere, and the horse won't go up to the block." He said, "Well, let's unsaddle the horse and put her away and I'll be home a while now."
There's a story that you told me when I was here before that we didn'ttake down and it was a good one. And that was the story about a stage coach that was caught in a storm. How does that story go? Well, it was in Montana earlier than the days I was there, and I was there when it was quite early. But, I saw the house where the people went to and I don't know that it was the same family there or not. But this stage was going from Harlem to Lewistown, which is quite a distance, and a blizzard overtook the stage and the man said he would go to this house, which he could still see, and see if they could stay overnight. Well, at that time in that country you did not ask to stay overnight, you went and they said, "Have you had supper, yet, we are just going to sit down, sit down with us, and we'll fix you a bed." You didn't ask, they offered. But he went in and explained that the blizzard had overtaken them just outside here, and he had a coach of people and could they come in and stay til the blizzard was over? They said, no, they didn't take people in. Well, here, they just weren't going to take him in, that's all there was to it. So, he went on thinking he could get to some other place, or something. And one of his horses fell dead. He had a coach of men and a twelve year old girl, and as soon as the horse fell dead, he took all the blankets that were available, 70 he had in the coach and put them down by the horse, while it was still warm and bedded the twelve year old girl there and covered her all up and then he had the men all circle in a line and all clasp hands and they circuled around that horse with the little girl lying by it and when it would get to be whatever he thought might be an hour or so he would tell them that now they could stop for five minutes, but not let go of hands and stand right where they were, and he would see about the little girl that she was all right. And she was keeping warm enough with the blan kets and had that warmth to start with, and she was asleep and then he would get into the circle with the men and, "Now, we'll circle again for about an hour and then we'll stop five minutes again." And they kept that up until morning and the storm was over.
And they told quite a story about Mrs. Winters. She believed in observing the Sabbath. They were ranchers— well, he was a cattleman out on Beaver Creek. And he wanted and did, always wait until Sunday for his dehorning and branding and so forth, because the other men were avail able on Sunday. Well, I don't know why they couldn't be available on any other day, but they weren't. But, anyway, he did all of that on Sunday and she tried to talk him out of it— that the Sabbath was the Lord's Day and it was not for that purpose. But, anyway, he'd say.^'I can get the other men here and I need help." So he kept right on with it. So finally, one Sunday with a bible in her hand climbed to the top rail of the corral— she didn't say a word to the men at all— she just climbed to the top rail of the corral and she sat there reading aloud, paying no attention to the men at all, just reading aloud. (Chuckles) Well, after a littlejOne of the men got on his horse and rode away. Pretty soon another man got on his horse and rode away. Well, they quit their work right then! She never said a word about it at all.(Chuckles) They used to tell that story about it, and for a long time I had the sewing machine, I bought it from Mrs. Winters, the sewing machine that she'd always had. I don't know whether there were any more sewing mach ines in the country or not, but I had it for years.
SS: The story that you just told about keeping the little girl alive throughthe night; what did that do to the reputation of the family that hadn't taken them in?
CG: The neighbors would have nothing to do with them. If he could get hiscattle branded by himself, "Go and brand them, we're not going to help you!" They wouldn't have anything to do with them at all; never went near them. I don't know how long they stayed there or whether they were there when I was there or not. But, anyway, the neighbors had nothing to do with them.
SS: And the girl because of the warmth of the horse
CG: The girl was entirely all right. They just went on to Lewistown withher and everything was all right. And it was back in the early days— there had been a Chinese who had gone Giltedge beyond Lewistown, Giltedge was strictly a mining town. He had gone in there and started a store, and they soon ran him out, they told him they weren't having any Chinese in Giltedge. And they just let him go peacefully, they didn't harm him in any way. But later on.this Chinaman wanted to go back into Giltedge to take care of some business matter, I don't know, it might have been property he was selling or something, but he had a business matter. So he told the stage driver that he had this business in Gilt edge that he had to go to finish and would the stage driver take him in to Giltedge? He said, "Yes, you get in the stage and I'll take you. It'll be alright." So the man rode in the stage until Lewistown, Giltedge would be the next town. The driver came to him and he said, "Now, you'll have to come sit on the seat with me, and I'll fix it when we get into Giltedge so that you'll be alright." "But," he said, "you can't ride in there by yourself,I'11 have to tend to it." So he put the Chinaman up on the box with him, and when he got into the edge of Giltedge a man saw the Chinaman and he started on the run downtown chanting, "Chinaman in town. Chinaman in town." And so when the driver stopped there was a mob there waiting for the stage and the driver said, "It's alright, boys, let him alone, he's going out with me in the morning, so you let him stay tonight because he wants to do some business." "Oh, that's h"i alright." And they left. So he tended to his business and then he went out in the morning with the stage. But that's the way he fared. And Giltedge was quite a mining town at one time.
SS: I'm not going to stay much longer, I'm going to go soon, but before Ido, I would like to shift to Moscow and ask you a couple of more things about Moscow that I had written down. One is— We talked quite a bit about the WCTU already, I know, but we never talked about the work that you did when you were organizing for them. When you were driving around. You mentioned to me that you drove by car.
CG: I had a little, old, '32 Chev coupe, and it was just really a part of me.I know one time I had stopped overnight with friends. And, well, some town up the way, and I was taken quite ill during the night. And so, in the morning I said I was going home, I couldn't go any farther on this trip. And Gladys said, "No, I don't think you should start home, I think you should stay til you feel right." And, I said, "Well, all I have to do is to -slap that little coupe's ears and say, "Go home." And it'll go." So I came on home that trip. But I went around in that little coupe, through— well, I was in Lewistown and Grangeville and Orofino— and what's that town right up by the border? On the river.
SS: By Montana?
CG: Bonners Ferry.
SS: Bonners Ferry, oh, yes.
CG: Yes. I was up there.
SS: Clear around the northern part of the state then?
CG: Well, I worked in the northern part because I live up here, but I didmake a trip in the south. Well, I drove my car to a convention at— oh way down in South Idaho— Twin Falls or— no.
SS: What was the job you were doing when you were driving around?
CG: I was organizing new groups and helping up the old groups. Doing whatI could to get them more active and understand the work and all that better. I spoke from pulpits and from school rostrums and anyplace I could get an audience. And in one school in South Idaho, instead of calling all the pupils together for me to speak to. they told me I could speak five minutes room-by-room. And, I said, "Well, send a girl with a watch because I can't keep track of my watch and speak five minutes and say anything." So, he gave the girl his watch and told her to let me know when the five minutes was up. So I spoke five minutes in each room of that school. hiA ordinarily they called a conclave of the whole group. And I spoke from one pulpit in which the pastor had me the door with him to greet all the people as they left. That's the only time that happened. But I had spoken from other pulpits as well as other rostrums.
SS: I don't expect you to remember any more, of course, what you said, butif you could just give me a little idea of what you would say to people.
CG: I would tell them what the Womens Christian Temperance Union is. Thatit's a group of women banded together for the protection of the home and the coming of Christ's Golden Rule in custom and in law. And that among otherrtdeeds that we have done that our— the woman who first thought of it and first organized it, Frances Willard, was responsible for the Child Labor Law. She had seen little children working in fac tories so weary, hopeless and she decided that there should be a law to stop it. And she got it put over. And at one time, we had what we called the Polyglot Petition; it was a petition outlawing alcoholic liquors. And it was signed by women in several countries of the world. It was signed by I guess, probably millions of women.
SS: Is this the one they took to the White House? 'Cause you told me aboutthis.
CG: Yes. They took it to the White House; they had put all these names,pasted the paper with them on on a roll of muslin and it made a roll that was described as being as big as a sheep! And one man said he couldn't carry it in alone he had to have a man help him with it, so two men carried it into the President and the women kept right on writ ing to the President. Well, at that time, if a man got a dozen letters a day he'd had quite a lot of them; if he got a hundred that was stup endous, but people from all over the world were writing to him constant ly and he was getting piled under with letters. He called the national president and he said to her, "Madam, if you will call off your women I will give you anything that you askl" So that is what a petition will do, and I say that we do not need to endure these postage raises. If a million or two or three or more millions of the inhabitants of the United States put a push on Congress, Congress would be compelled to do something about it. We could stop it and have it lowered to what would be more reasonable.
SS: How large was the group of WCTU members here locally here when you firstbecame involved with the group?
CG: At one time— you mean in general?
SS: No, I mean locally, in Moscow.
CG: Right here?
SS: Yes, in the 1930's when you first got started?
CG: I think there was something like fifty members. And we have always hada good many inactive members. People who don't want liquor, but they don't want to be identified with the work of getting rid of it. We've always had those. And now, we have about six or eight who regularly attend the meetings, and I think we have a little more than a dozen mem bers. We have our inactive ones as usual. And, then, there are those who do what they can, but they're not physically able to get into the work like some people do, or to get to the meetings. We have those and we treasure them. At one time, worldwide, we had the largest women's group. But I think it was the Rebeccas that exceeded us, the last that I knew. And I presume there are others now that have larger membership than we have.
SS: You said to me at one point when we were talking that Moscow is a lotfriendlier now than it was in the earlier days. I am wondering what it was like, as you remember it then. And what were towns like it like that they have gotten more open and more friendly since then.
CG: Was Moscow like what?
SS: Oh, I thought you said that Moscow was not as friendly in the earlierdays as it is now.
CG: Well, it was not as friendly. But now, Moscow is an extremelyfriendlyplace; unusually so. But I don't know when the change took place, real ly, but it did, thoroughly.
SS: What kind of a change was it? I mean, what were people like before?
CG: There were the old-timers, and they were sort of a group by themselves,the old-timers. And then there was the University group, they were a group by themselves. Then there were the laboring people, they were a group, and then there were the moneyed people and they were a group. It was all cut up into groups.
SS: So, it sounds that it was more or less social groups that—.
CG: It was groups. Each group separated from all the others.
SS: How did you feel that you fit in, when you came here.
CG: Oh, I didn't fit! I didn't fit at all. (Chuckles) But I do find it nowthat it's friendly. The things that are done for me, ate just almost beyond belief. Everybody trying to do something for me. They're just so good to me. And, I do appreciate it.
SS: Perhaps it's because you're one of the most valued citizens in Moscow.I think people feel that way.
CG: Oh, I don't know about that. But I do remember what they did for meat the closing session of the Conversation Class. The citation is over there on the machine, standing there at your right hand, I think. The framed— bring it over to the light so you can see it. You can turn on that light next to it by pushing the button that is on the far side of the base that pushes.
SS: Oh, I pulled the plug out when I put the—You had gotten your teaching certificate way back then, after high school, I take it, so you could teach.
CG: I got my teaching certificate first in South Dakota and then I got acertificate in North Dakota. You see at that time, when you started teaching, if you were not college, which I certainly wasn't, you got a third grade certificate and that was good for one year only, and if you couldn't get a second grade at the end of the year, you were out. The examination was a little more difficult, not much. And I had a certificate in South Dakota, two certificates there, third grade and then the second grade. And not being college I never had a first grade which was life. And the first grade certificate was very rare. There was just almost nobody that had the first grade certificate^ There was a brother and sister from Missouri that had their first grade cer tificates and taught in Montana. And that was just a marvel to people, they'd speak about, "Oh, yes, but you know, she has a first grade." It was a matter of comment! And then in Montana I had to get a Montana certificate, and that was still a second grade certificate. And you can renew those— I don't remember,—I think they ran for two years. It was a year anyway, but you could always renew the second as many times as you wanted to. And that was what you did.
SS: You were eighty-two when you started to go to the University?
CG: I was eighty-two!
SS: How long did you go?
CG: Two years. And I took only one subject. It was in English. And Ihad Journalism with Gibbs the last semester. Now that was going to school, when you can go to school to. Gibbs. Having taught for seven years. I knew whether he was teaching or whether he wasn't!
SS: And he was good, huh?
CG: Oh, he was good. He did make one mistake one time. "Well," he said,"I shouldn't have said that, I should have waited for you to say it." And went right on just as though he hadn't made a mistake. That's the only mistake he made the whole semester. And, he knew precisely what he had for us $vy that time, and he told us precisely what we would have the next time. We noticed that so much because we'd had— well, I'm sure that the professor that we had— I had all the time before that— was a relation that had to be taken care of, so somebody that was in good here got him in here for a couple of years.
SS: Did you feel that you learned a great deal when you were going to schoolthen?
CG: I felt that I received— I wouldn't say learned, I'd say received— agreat deal. Maybe I can express it this way; I cooked on the campus for ten years, and I cooked for six years for a place where they had no room for me, so'd I'd come home for the afternoon and go back and get the dinner and come home for the night. And in the short days when the campus would be lighted when I'd come home, I'd stand on the top of Sixth Street hill and I'd say, "I own part of that." One woman said to me, "I'd like to know how you own any part of it." And I said, "Well you do too, you pay taxes and so do I," I said, "anybody that pays tax es owns part of the University." But I'd stand there and say, "I own part of that." But after I was a student I would stand on the top of the Sixth Street hill and say, "I am a part of that.1' And that was the difference it made to me. I received a culture there that I had not met with anywhere else. And it made a distinct difference in me. If you would known me before, I think you'd see it.
SS: What do you think the difference in culture is?
CG: Well, for one thing, it hardened me, in a necessary way. I had beentoo easily shifted by the current. But it hardened me in a way that has been very beneficial to me. And being a part of it, I was somebody ill S that I never had been before. Not that I lost what I had been before, but merely added this. It was really a very high adventure for me. AS far as learning was concerned, the first three semesters with this young professor— I wouldAsay,vI lear^much of anything. And I didn t acquire as much, although I was acquiring it. One day one girl stopped me at the foot of the steps and she said to me, "Well, why are you doing this? Is it for what you get out of it?" "Well, do you do anything for what you get out of it?" I told her, yes, that was why I was doing it! And went on my way laughing at such a question. (Chuckles) I read of one boy onetime who declared all through high school that he never would go to college. Well, when he graduated from Coll^Q^ . ., he had a wealthy uncle, and this uncle said, "I'll give you a thousand dollars a year as long as you go to college. If you'll go the full year I'll give you a thousand dollars." Well, at that time a thousand dollars was a fortune. If the head of a family had a thousand dollars anywhere he was rich.
So this boy thought, "Huh, I could pay the college expensesand I could have a good time and I'll have a thousand dollars when I get through, and won't I have a good time then!" So, he went to college. He got all taken up with it and he decided, well, two thousand'd be bet ter than one, he'd go another year. And he went on until in the '70's he had taken every degree that he could find in a college! college because they want to. They get from it something that is not to be had anywhere else. There are lots more things that you can't get anywhere but in that thing, like a certain profession$and so on, but if you hate college you don't get the college atmosphere inbuilt into you. And in the two years, well, I knew I was changed, I wasn't the same as I had been. And I was very glad I went. And I had thoroughly determined to go three years and probably four, but I got down and couldn't get up, and that was the end of it. (Chuckles) I had fun getting into college. My daughter was home and she had talked to me for years about going to college, and she said, "Well, Mother, now that you can, you go to college." Well, when I was cooking I couldn't; I liked to eat too well to quit and go to college. And she was home^for a visit, and as she was getting ready to leave she said, "Mother, have you enrolled at college?" And I said, no, I hadn't,rhadn't thought of it this time. She said, "You go up on the hill and enroll." Well, that was law! I went right up on the hill and said to the secretary that I wanted to enroll. She said, "You can't, enrollment is closed." I said, "Well, I intend to enroll." So she sent me to Doctor 'ic^elcteU' Well, she sent me to the dean, he was just leaving so he sent me to Doctor Towelson. And Doctor Towel^on listened to me and he very nice ly explained to me that enrollment was closed and-and-and. And, I said "Yes, but I'm going to enroll and go to class this afternoon." Did you ever hear anything any greener? (Laughter) He said, "Well, you can't. Would you like a ride home?" And, I said, "No, thank you, I mean to go to class this afternoon. I'm going over to the —called it the it was the Perch— and get a bite over there and then go to class." He had to give in. He couldn't have me sitting on the cam pus when I didn't belong there. And if I was going to belong, what could he do about it? Nothing. So, he said, "Well, there is a meeting of the faculty tonight and I'll take this up and see what we can do for you." But, he took me over to the class of this young professor that I spoke of—he had English— he took me over. They wanted to talk a little bit so I got out of their hearing so they could talk a little. And I was accepted and I kept right on going and I finally got word what my fees would be— special student, but still I did have small fee. I don't know what it was. It was just a small amount, But I was admitted as a special student.
SS: I was just going to ask you one thing more. What I was going to askyou; what were the attitudes of the young people, the kids, at having someone so much older in their classes?
CG: Well, they wondered about it, but there was no demonstration of anykind, except one day Doctor "well you know, anybody is apt to fly off the handle now and then—and Doctor ToweiLson had spoken to this boy in a way that was kind of rough, and he ran and caught up with me and told me how he felt about Doctor ToweiLson. Just because I was an older person and I'd understand. But that was the only bit of dem onstration of any kind. But Doctor ToweLson did tell me later that they asked him how old I was and he said he told them that he didn't know, but he thought I must be high in the sixties because I'd been around Moscow ever since he'd been there. He graduated here. Well, it happened that I was eighty-two anyway It was a wonderful experience.
Direct segment link:
4:00 - Women's role defined in early days; Work of women on the farm; women in the role of homemaker
Direct segment link:
12:00 - Differences between town women and farm women, children's behavior; and men and women's authority over children
Direct segment link:
25:00 - Fundamental nature of men and women unchanging through history, although behavior changes; Decay of conduct of people today.
Direct segment link:
Direct segment link:
30:00 - Few people were nervous and just put up with hard times; her mother fed the hungry; How divorce was rare and unacceptable
Direct segment link:
Direct segment link:
Direct segment link:
Direct segment link:
Direct segment link:
Direct segment link:
63:00 - One of the Van Orsdell's engagement; saving a Native American; and saving himself from hanging
Direct segment link:
Direct segment link:
Direct segment link:
Direct segment link:
Direct segment link:
Direct segment link:
108:00 - Country people versus town people; people being more hardy then they are now; caring for the elderly despite poverty
Direct segment link:
Direct segment link:
125:00 - A stagecoach turned away from shelter and family is ostracized for it; Chinese man nearly mobbed on arrive in Montana
Direct segment link:
Direct segment link:
148:00 - Teaching certificates; starting at the University of Idaho; what she learned at the university
Direct segment link: