Pemberton, Wendell, 1906-1987; Memoirs, pp 052 – 096

[page 52b] CHAPTER (Tape) IV

Well, back to the 240! I don’t exactly remember the year, probably the early or middle 1920’s, the corn was down, and down bad. There had been a 14″ snowfall that had thawed and melted to about 8″ to 12″, with a quarter to a half-inch ice on it. Half the ears of that corn were frozen in the ice. You had to pick every ear to break it loose from the ice, or at least about 80% of them. Of course, the stalk had broken off all the heavy ears and they were hanging down with their noses in the snow and ice. We picked that corn by hand for weeks. That was about the meanest, ugliest job I ever had in my lifetime. My dad would get us up and we’d go to the field in the moonlight before the sun came up, but light enough to see by the moon at any rate. I think Stanley was with us all the time; the three of us worked together. Dad, I think, was with us most of the time. Anyway, that is what we did. When you have a well-trained team, they stay in the row, and move and stop exactly when you tell them. There was a wagon box, a triple box, with sideboards on the other side. You don’t even have to look towards the wagon. You just put your head down, grab the ears and heave them towards the wagon like you were throwing them against the side of the barn. You hardly ever miss.

You start out in the morning with dry clothes and dry mittens but during the day it gets sloppy because it thaws, and then you are wet as a drowned rat, clear to your elbows. The front of your clothes are wet, and when the sun drops over the hill, it starts freezing again! Your mittens freeze solid on the back and the palm, where you are grabbing the corn, usually stays wet. Your overalls freeze to your hips. Every morning, every day, was the same thing.

When we came in at night, we had to shovel the corn off by hand, up over that sideboard, and heave it back up into a great big homespun wire crib we had. I mean, that is work!

That same year, I built a smokehouse. Stanley was always the butcher, the meat curer, the meat cutter. He was a good hand at doing anything. When he got married and left, though, I did the killing and the butchering. In those days we had what was called a “ham sugar-curer”. We’d use a lot of brown sugar and different kinds of spices and stuff. We’d put the hams down into a wooden barrel of brine. Well, about this [page 53b] time, we had gotten behind in our work, the meat was in the brine and was maybe two weeks overdue. Before I got around to get that meat hung up in my little smokehouse (I had built it on a hillside and run tile from the firebox ‘way up to the smokehouse so by that time the smoke is cool and doesn’t heat up the meat too bad) well, when I took that meat out of the barrel, you could stick your finger through that hog hide anywhere. The hide had swelled up to about 1/2″ thick and snow white. It looked horrible! I thought, “Oh, no! How could I have ruined this whole big beautiful hog?”

Well, I went ahead and hung it up anyway. I smoked it good. The smoke and the warmth dried it out, and would you believe that that was the most delicious ham we ever put into our mouths? I have never, ever tasted ham as fine and delicious as that ham was! We had that ham all during that awful siege of digging that corn out from under the ice, and it was a real honest-to-goodness treat.

I would like to mention the cars we had during the period of the early ’20’s. Stanley had bought an old Nash. He cut the back end off and made a pickup out of it. It had big, old, high 18″ rims (600.18 I believe). Incidentally, out in my yard today, I have the wheels from a 1926 Nash, under a homemade trailer. That car of Stanley’s, chained up, would go through two feet of snow or mud like you wouldn’t believe. The mud in that country, in the spring, when the thaw came, was absolutely impossible. If you could keep up your speed, you could throw it off the wheels, but otherwise, the mud would build up between the wheels and the fenders and there was no way! You could pull it with four horses and slide the wheels and break the axles. That clay, after the winter thaw, would loosen up and roll up on the wheels to 12″ wide. The only way to manage was to back up and go ahead to get a track broken out so you could get up enough speed to throw that mud off before it wedged between the body of the car and the underside of the fenders. I’ve been stuck so many times, and have spent so many hours digging out, you couldn’t believe it!

Then, we bought a 1924 Ford Coupe, one of the finest cars that ever came out of a factory. In all the years, probably eight or ten years, we never added a quart of oil to that Ford. We bought oil by the barrel, and when the oil got low, we’d drop it out and put in fresh oil, and that car never quit running. I drove it to Lake Okoboji up in the northwest corner of the state in 1926, which my pal called “Anyhoo”. This was the boy with the osteomyelitis. He always had one crutch. He was a real sharp cookie, a good kid, but kind of wild. We were so scotch–there was a stem up into the carburetor and you could screw the carburetor down, but when you do that, it makes the mixture so lean that it hits the [page 54b] valves quite hot. I saved on the gas, but I burned the valves completely out of that car!

I took the motor out, under the trees, and tumbled it end over end into the chicken house on straw. Why the straw? Because that was the only place on the ranch where I could get that thing in out of the cold to work on it. On straw, you didn’t dare to drop a part or a nut because you would never see it again.

I sent to “Monkey Wards” [Mongomery Ward, a large mail-order house] and got a set of valve replacing tools. Now, I had never done this sort of work before and I don’t remember seeing Stanley doing this job, but I ordered the valves and a valve facing seat, and would you believe that the pilot that went into the head of that valve cutter was screwed in from the bottom on, little, short threads? I took one look at that thing and figured the pressure it would be under when you were trying to cut. There was no way in this world it could work. Even though I was a dumb kid at that age, I fired them back and got my money and went somewhere else and bought a set with a solid pilot that went clear through the cutter so there was no way in the world for it to wobble or vary.

Well, I overhauled the Ford in the chicken house, put it together again, and that car ran for years and years. I couldn’t have been over sixteen or seventeen years old. That was my first mechanic job. I bought my first socket sets. I still have the old Hinchdale Sears and Roebuck socket set, or about 90 percent of it. That was a fabulous experience for me because the basic principles never changed, and when I went to the logging camps and overhauled Caterpillars and locomotives, there was no problem. I had a good boss and good helpers. As I’ve said a hundred times, if you can break a mule and do a really good job, you can run a locomotive and do a good job! That 1924 car was the best model they made until they changed over and began making the 1929-30 type. It had bumpers on the front and back; it had hub caps with a red dot in the center like Packards. I had a dealer stop me and ask me what kind of a car that was. No car had bumpers in those days except Cadillacs and Rolls Royce.

That ’24 Ford was the cattle car of all times. We used it on all the cattle drives for years and years. The top rotted completely; in fact, it came off. I used to get a big kick out of going down the road in it and just before I met someone, I would stand up with my head and shoulders out the top. No one ran off the road–quite! I drove that car to school for years, with log chains on the bumpers, front and back, and mud piled on it when it still had a top on it.

When I was in high school, I had the respect and permission of the teachers and the principal to leave class at [page 55b] any time to go out and take care of my stock. Everybody knew I had that responsibility. Oh, I could have had a lot of fun, playing hooky and having a ball, but I would rather have the confidence of my teachers and my principal. I didn’t lie to them, they respected me, and I appreciated that. Here again was a great lesson, being a straight shooter and of the things one can accomplish if he has the grit to do what he is supposed to do.

I’m sure I didn’t mention the 1918 Ford that preceded the 1924 Coupe. We ran it for years too. It was the cattle driving car before the ’24. Then too, Dad got an Overland Coupe with a box on the back and a toolbox on the side, in a trade of some kind. We never liked that one and didn’t use it much. I think he traded it off.

Have I told about the hammermills that came into that country during the early 1920’s? Everybody got the idea of buying these hammer mills. Farmers would shovel grain, by hand, into the wagon, take it down to the hammermill, shovel it off into a bin, run it through the grinder, then back into the wagon, take it clear out back home, shovel it off again, then pack it out by hand to feed it to the stock! They really went for that. I guess there was a little advantage in grinding it, but Holy Cow, not that much advantage! Anyway, Stanley had a mill at Grizwold, Iowa which was 50 miles east of Omaha–we were a hundred miles east. I went out there and ran the mill a time or two when his wife was sick. Then that mill came back to Greenfield and was stored in a neighbor’s barn for a couple or three years.

Anyway, I wanted the cream and milk money from a little bunch of cows, so bad, that I went to town with the mules, the only time I was in town all summer long. I was so downtrodden and depressed with all work and no play that I drove the mules in, and when they saw that white pavement, I almost had to break their backs to get them to step on it. I, loaded up with sand and cement, drew plans, made the forms, and built the building. I got that heavy, Hart-Parr 40-horse, cast-iron frame motor and hammer mill–I think it was all on one frame, in one unit. I measured out the base, cemented the bolts in, and, here’s another funny thing, when I rolled the mill in there on steel rollers on planks and let it down, the darned thing fit! I put plow beams in that cement building corners and all kinds of old steel in there. If somebody hasn’t dynamited it, I’ll bet it’s there yet.

When I was a kid, I got so put-out with people who would build cement foundations with no reinforcing in them, on a hillside, and the frost would freeze them, they’d crack and open up, and the next thing you knew, here was the foundation lying on its side, and the building sliding down the hill. It [page 56b] was that way all over the country, so I vowed I’d never, ever pull a boo-boo like that. So that’s what I did, and the darned mill worked!

You could put a stream of oats in that mill at the same time you put dry corn fodder with the coin on it (cut with a binder, shocked, and when dry, you take this whole big bundle of corn and shove it in the mill) at the same time you are running a stream of oats, barley, or some kind of grain, and can pUlverize that stuff almost like flour. It makes excellent, excellent cow feed. Those cows really kicked out the milk on that kind of feed.

That was a great satisfaction to me, having the privilege of building that and seeing it work, because I got the cream money! I only had about six cows out of a rough beef herd. Some of them only gave a quart or two of milk, but hey, I milked them because I wanted those pennies!

I had quite an experience at this time. I went over to get the mill out of storage at this good farmer’s shed. In the meantime, he had leased his place out to some people. When I went to check out the mill, I flipped up the cover on the magneto, and the cover was full of field dust. I thought, “Hey, what goes on here?” The mill had never been but in a field. If there was dust, it would have been flour. I snooped around and questioned people. I came to find out that the boys who were leasing this man’s place, weren’t such fine people. His magneto had gone out so he simply went into the shed and stole mine, put his back on there, buttoned it up and said nothing to anybody. The more I thought about it, the madder I got.

I decided not to put up with that, so I called the man who owned the place, told him what I had found, and told him I knew what had happened. He got ahold of these other people and the next time I came out, my magneto was back on where it belonged! Another great lesson.

This fine man who owned the ranch where the mill was stored, wanted to help me, so he gave me a job hauling manure–cleaning out his barn. I got into the worst mess of my lifetime and learned another lesson! He had used cornstalks for bedding. Those cornstalks were sopping wet, five feet long, under ten inches of hard-packed manure. It was like trying to break a rope. There was no way I could stick that fork in there and come up with a forkful of manure without digging, picking, and untangling those cornstalks. I thought, “Never, never in my life will I allow a cornstalk in manure that has to be removed by hand.” In those days there was no power equipment of any kind. I kept my promise!

Before I go any further, I must take time out to talk of my younger brother, JC. JC was born eight years after we [page 57b] were [8 years after Wendell, 12 after Stanley], and that makes a tremendous handicap. He was always too little to “follow the herd”. Always too little to “go get the stuff”. Always too little to do this or do that. We HAD to work. We HAD to go, and I’d get so provoked at JC. I’d be out harrowing on that big hill in the dirt, the dust, the heat, the sweat running off me, and I’d holler for water or make the high sign for water. Mother would send him out with a bucket of ice-cold water and I’d see him coming down the hill as I was going up the big hill, and when I came back down the big hill, JC would be going back towards the house again. I had to guess where he might have hidden the water. I had to hunt for it. I got so exasperated with that kid that I could bawl!

JC always swore (and never had any other idea in his head) that never was he going to do hard work. He always said, “If I’m so dumb that I can’t make a machine to do this work, I’ll just sit down in the dirt and bawl.”

He kept his promise. When JC came west into the orchards here in Washington, and saw his first cherry tree and the pickers picking cherries with 22′ ladders on my fruit ranch in Grandview, he sat right down with his back against a cherry tree and drew out a machine to pick cherries! If I had a blueprint of his first drawing, it would be almost identical to–the APE is one brand–those three-wheeled things with the buckling, folding boom, and a basket for a human, that you can put in or out or up or down, dodging any limb, and go anywhere to pick the fruit. That’s what this kid did, and that’s how he was all his life.

He is now in San Diego and has built up a multi-multi-million dollar business called Scanivalve. He has sold his product all over the world, the wind tunnels, a little gadget about the size of a toothbrush holder. Simultaneously it registers 48 pressures at the same time, and he can run those pressures now on those big computer banks, a machine as big as a refrigerator, but the heart of the thing is this little Scanivalve that he has perfected. His help, who has been with him for 35 years, are artists at measuring and honing and fitting those parts together to the millionth of an inch. This is his baby. He never patented anything. [JC actually had many patents, but only very rarely spoke of them to anyone, as Wendell’s ignorance here shows.] All he ever said was that anyone who wanted to go through what he went through to develop “this thing” is welcome to it. Would you believe he is still in business and he has been all over the world.

His wife, he had a hard time with his first wife (it just didn’t work out) then he met Van. She is a Greek girl, and she is brilliant. She has a heart to match that fabulous mind, a very rare combination. I can remember my father saying over and over that he had hardly ever in his life seen [page 58b] a man who could work like a horse and still use his head. I found that to be very true in my case.

Anyway, when JC was born, he was one of the cutest little boys that ever breathed the breath of life. Dad used to take him to town and everywhere. He was a joy. Everyone was astounded at this lovely little boy that Mother had had when she was quite old. Then comes the bad thing. I was so ugly and so depressed because of the way we were forced to work, without money, and JC never had any idea of putting out any hard work. That was just “too dumb”. Of course, I teased him.

I had this wonderful magnetic power. I could just look at him across the table, glare at him, and he’d take a hand and swipe his food and dishes all off on the floor and say, “NOW, look what you made me do!” Of course, he got whopped. But pretty quick Dad caught on, and then guess who got whopped. Great lesson!

My cousin, Wilma, that cousin, the adopted girl, my mother’s sister, Mary, had a son born to her about the same time I was born. Mary’s little boy died. So they adopted this beautiful little blue-eyed, black-haired girl who was a living doll. She was the only girl that I had any association with, you might say, all my growing-up years. We were just out in the sticks, running stock all the time. Oh yes, I went to Sunday School. I was in church practically every Sunday. I used to ride an old sweaty horse to the chapel, about three miles away, Sunday after Sunday. Oh, at times there might be some young kids there my age, but time and time again, I was alone, and that was sure discouraging. There were all kinds of false philosophies like, “You can’t do anything on Sunday.” You couldn’t do this or that because it was Sunday. I became very depressed.

In high school I went with a lovely girl for a year or two, and I got so beat down because of the horrible hours I was forced to work that I did a terrible, terrible thing. I just quit her without explaining anything, and I will go to my grave in sorrow and shame for not talking to this wonderful little gal and telling her why. I was so beat down and the pressures–no money and too much hard work.

Anyway, JC started his business and with the brains of this Van he married–she is the bookkeeper, the organizer–and JC with his fantastic electronic and mechanical mind, he builds his own machinery to produce the things in his shops. He can do anything like that. That is his life, and Van will manage it. They came across southern Russia a year or so ago in broad daylight. This never happens in certain areas. This wife of his gave some money to the men on the train and got them to give them tickets to cross southern Russia. JC [page 59b] said the most astounding thing to him was what the permafrost had done. It has sunk and heaved and sunk and heaved until the stone houses and the log houses are cocked up at precarious angles, almost none of them level. I thought that [was] extremely interesting.

You can sit and talk to that girl by the hour and she is the most interesting person to talk to. For example, she went back to Greece to meet the childhood churn that she loved. She found her coming over a rocky hill with a hand scythe over her shoulder, sun-beaten and wrinkled, and looked a hundred and twenty years old. She recognized Van and threw her arms around her.

They really had a reunion! JC was there. A delicacy of Greece is a green, black-walnut boiled in sugar, if you can imagine. A green walnut is about the sourest, ugliest tasting thing you can imagine, but of course, they boil it in sugar. JC got one, he tasted it and hid the rest, but when they saw his plate was empty, they insisted he have another. He had quite a time to keep from eating green walnuts!

Now comes another bad part. Of course, I’m to blame, a lot. This lovely little girl, Wilma, beautiful personality, used to see us corning down the street and she’d run to meet us. She’d wedge in between us, put her arms around JC and look at me and say, “Oh, JC, has he hurt you? Has he been bullying you again?”

She’d walk down the street doing that, and I was so embarrassed I’d just about corne uncorked. She did that over and over and over. She made a fool of JC and made two fools of me. It wasn’t anything like the big deal she made of it. That really hurt! It never stopped.

One spring when the folks were gone, JC and I were eating dinner at Aunt Mary’s. When the noon whistle blew, he ran down and got his lunch, coat and hat on. When time came to go back to school, he jumped off the back porch with no hat and no coat on. I hollered at him to come back and get his hat and coat on because there was a 50 mph wind roaring. The maple trees were leaning over. “JC! Come back and get your hat and coat!”

He yelled back, “I don’t have to mind you!” He ran the eight or ten blocks in that wind, got chilled, and got pneumonia. Mother sat by his bed for days and days not knowing whether he was going to live or not. Finally his fever broke and he got over the pneumonia. He has had bad lungs ever since just because of that ordeal, which might have been avoided if I had been a little more intelligent in dealing with the situation. That really hurt me. JC, to this day, has a hard time to keep from feeling he was horribly abused by that big, ugly brother of his.

[page 60] JC came out [to California] and logged with me all one summer. I gave him my job of taking care of the equipment at night and went out and drove Cat all summer, eating that 18″ red dirt so he could have a chance to go back to college. I taught the gospel to that boy–everything that I have known, everything I have believed, the whole ball of wax. At no time did he accept one ounce of it, and still doesn’t. In fact, he has spent his life downgrading Mormonism, always digging up things that seemed, supposedly, to totally refute the claim of the fullness of the gospel as restored by the prophet, Joseph Smith. I don’t have much comment on this.

I recall the statement of a man, made years ago, that I have never forgotten. I was in a dentist’s chair. This man had been a Mormon but his wife would not listen to the church and he had had to live with this horrible anti-Mormon feeling for a lifetime. As he waited for the filling in my tooth to set, he was looking out across his garden in the back, he said, “You know, in all the ages of man on earth, whenever a person or a group have not been right and have not been in possession of the truth, they have always sought to build up themselves or their group or their nation at the expense of someone else, or some other group, or some other nation, and that never changes.”

I have thought of that statement hundreds of times over the last fifty years. The more I study history, especially the Old Testament, I realize that this is exactly what has happened. Recently I read of twenty-seven civilizations that had been destroyed, and only three had been conquered from without. The others rotted and disintegrated from within. The Roman empire, of course, is the supreme example of this eternal fact–of the destruction of nations by their own filth and their own unwillingness to follow plain and simple truths.

This brings to my mind the age old truth that something for nothing is never good for anyone. Being human, I am positive this is one of the hardest lessons of life I had to learn because everyone hopes to discover a gold mine or some scheme or patent–something that will put them into a position of financial success and glory. If I hadn’t been forced into the positions I was in, who knows, perhaps I would never have learned that one simple lesson. Again I repeat President David O. MCKay’s statement, “Born free or shackled at birth with inherited riches.”

I just saw a piece here in the paper concerning the plight of people who have been on welfare. When the government attempts to cut any of their programs, they immediately rush to some other dole system–the churches or some other thing [page 61] for more gifts. That will never stop, I am sure.

I see another interesting thing in my notes here. I think this was when we were living on the 240. I don’t remember if I was on the west place or the east place, and to save me, I can’t remember which horse I had. I do know I had a long-barreled .22 pistol that I was pretty catty with. I got on my horse and went to hunt rabbits a mile or two south, down in a kind of a waste country–a little swampy and brushy–and I came onto a piece of ground that was sod, real old tough sod that had been plowed. There were hundred of things that looked like miniature pup tents with the flaps open, where the sod had kicked up. There was an inch of snow, and I had never seen so many rabbit tracks in my life. These rabbits had crawled into the little pup tent-type openings in that kicked-up sod. They made perfect little houses for them. Going against the sod, I could see the rabbits sitting in them. All I had to do was walk around quietly, come up from behind, and reach over and grab them by the head. I picked up eighteen or twenty rabbits, and I never fired a shot! I slipped them on my belt–through the tendons of the hind legs–and do you know how much twenty rabbits weigh?

Anyway, I got to where the old mare was and she must have been a dandy because she didn’t spook. Usually a horse will go crazy at the smell of blood. I tried every way in the world to get on that horse, but there was no way I could do it with that tonnage of rabbits hanging on me. So, I took my belt off, threaded them back on the belt and heaved them over her neck, half on each side. Whatever horse it was, she was a real dandy to put up with that. Usually, when you go to put elk meat or deer meat on a horse, they go absolutely crazy.

Before I get into something rather deep–I think Dad told this, I’m not sure, but I didn’t hear it for many, many years. Anyway, it was when he was a young man and going into Chicago with cattle. He had his cattle unloaded and was going uptown to see the sights, with his roll of clothes under his arm. He had gone several blocks; there were a lot of shops with things in the windows that would interest a farm boy, and he heard somebody yell. He looked up and here carne a cow that had broken out of the stockyard, as wild-eyed as any cow that had ever run the range. Man! she was sure she was headed back to the range. Dad laid his clothes on the curb, walked out into the middle of the street, and someone yelled, “Get out of there, kid. She’ll kill ya’.”

Dad stopped in the middle of the street, perfectly still. Of course, the cow was seeing a thousand things that were strange to her. When she tried to go by, and he must have done everything absolutely perfect because he flipped her. She hit the pavement so hard that when she got up she ran back [page 62] the way she had come, wide open, and didn’t even know the difference. Dad walked over and picked up his clothes like it was an everyday occurrence, which it was. He said he then went into the shops, looking at things, and went into a place where there were men at desks, writing or figuring, or something.

He fooled around for awhile and when he got close enough, he looked over this desk, and one man wasn’t writing or figuring anything, he was just fiddling with his pencil. Dad thought that was odd, so he sidled around past the other desk and the other man was doing the same thing. It spooked Dad so much he got out of there and didn’t go into any more shops. He thought it must have been some kind of a trap to roll somebody!

When I got big enough so that I could have gone to Chicago, I think the local buyer bought the stock, so there was no reason to go to Chicago with your own cattle like in the good old days. I remember Dad shipping in cattle to unload onto the 720. Several times we went down there to put the cattle on the 720 pasture. I don’t remember how many cattle there were, per car, but it was several hundred that were on the place there, and I don’t think Dad ever went into Chicago after he took Stanley with him on a trip or two.

Now, maybe I should take a little time to go back to childhood to see if I can figure out what made me tick. As I have said before, I have always been curious and, as you know, it got me into trouble.

I slept out under the stars a lot at night when I was a kid, out with the cattle. Some of those nights were so brilliant–maybe without a moon but the stars were just out of this world. I was continually in wonderment and awe. What are they? How far away are they? The moon was really intriguing! During the years I spent around old Grant Bunche, the one who had the horse who had to get in out of the weather because if there was lightening, he’d run through the fences–the old man who was always watching for tornadoes and talking about the end of the world. That was the big thing in those days–in the religious profession. That bothered me quite a lot even at the age of eight and ten years old. I must have driven my folks crazy always asking, “Why?”.

As I have said, I was in church nearly every Sunday all those years, but I could never understand why the ministers were always squabbling. They all used the same book. They all claimed to be going to the same place. They all swore they worshipped the same God, so why was there all this undercurrent of bickering? I have seen ministers stand toe to toe and one of them will say, “I don’t believe that, Reverend, not for one minute, no siree.” On and on it went, it never ended in all those years. Of course without the gospel, the [page 63] God they described was this great mystical being, without body parts or passions, so big he filled the entire universe, yet so small he could dwell in the tiniest spot, like in the human heart. No way could I comprehend all this. As I read the Bible, it didn’t teach of a God like that.

I heard a lot of ministers preach over the years, fine men, but as I sit here, try as I might, I cannot remember more than two or three them. Two of these men had farmed for years and years before even trying to preach.

One man, Reverend Dewel, farmed for forty years before he tried to preach. I never once heard him raise his voice like most of the ministers did. He simply came up, quietly opened some books, got some papers out in front of him, and would tell of some event from history or the present. Many times he spoke of the Roman Empire and its fall and collapse. Then he would make the comparison between the Old Testament and what was continually happening to the Israelites when they disobeyed, and he could really make a parallel that you could understand. Every time that man talked, one wanted to reach for paper and pencil. With the other men, that didn’t happen. They would yell and rail and get their voices way up high, going on and on, never ending.

One night I was in a group of maybe 150 to 200 people. There were several ministers on the stand. One of the ministers stood up, put his finger up and this is what he said, “Do you know you can ride a horse from the Mexican border to the Canadian line and stay in a Mormon home every night? The Mormon threat is that bad in the west!”

There I was, a teenage kid, sitting right down smack in front of him. That was all I ever heard all my life. So, when anyone would try to tell me about Mormonism, I would be as violently against it as anyone could be because I had never heard anyone say anything good about it.

When I was a kid, two men came down the road. I think they may have been Mormon missionaries. They were two, together, and they were dressed like Mormon missionaries. My mother opened the door, very graciously accepted their literature, and it went straight from their hands, into her hands, and into the big, old burner. That was the end of that. She didn’t let them in.

You know when you have never known the truth, or have never known of pre-existence, you don’t know what you’re looking for. You only know you are confused. There is no way you can understand or comprehend the God they are trying to teach you about, and when you go home and open the Bible, that doesn’t help one bit. It just isn’t there–as they were trying to explain it.

I got a kick for many years, whenever I went to a new [page 64] church, of getting the hymn book out and looking in the front of it for the Creed. It used to be called the Nicene Creed, the Athenian Creed, the Apostles Creed–I guess there are a dozen different names, and I’m sure it has been changed a hundred times since the original Nicene Creed was written when Constantine, the pagan Roman Emperor, called the bishops together and had them write a creed and quit their squabbling. So they wrote the Nicene Creed and manufactured an incomprehensible God. I’m sure the word “incomprehensible” was in the original creed along toward the end. Now, try to figure that one out when you’re a kid really trying to learn–see how far you get.

While on the 240, the man who had the 80 across the road (which, eventually, was turned into my name) was quite a guy, a good man but he didn’t raise very good crops. His fences were always down; his stock was always up in my dad’s corn cribs. Night after night we’d chase the darned animals out of that corn crib. At one time there were wire cribs allover the hill. But, this man was really a fisherman! He always asked me to go, and whenever I could, I went with him. He’d stop a cultivator anywhere at any time when he’d get to thinking about those fish, and he just had to stop and go fishing. I stood on the bank with that man by the hour, by the day, by the week, talking about religion. I couldn’t understand why he didn’t believe.

One day, he told me. “Wendell, when I was a youngster and going to church, I knelt down and prayed as hard as any human on earth ever prayed. And you know what? I never felt a gosh darned thing!” Gosh darned–that was a common expression in those days.

Here I was, trying with all my heart to believe; in fact, I did believe, if I had something to hang onto. I can distinctly remember that until I was twenty-five years old, always asking, “Why? If there really is a God, why is He silent?” I was always convinced He was silent. Of all the things I investigated all the wild claims and miracles I heard about, I figured out that nearly all were some kind of a hoax because they didn’t quite hold water.

Needless to say, in my wildest dreams, I never thought and had no possible way of knowing, it had already happened. In my time, almost, and in my country! But, because of experiences I had had, I was able to figure out a lot of things that, otherwise, without all those experiences, I’d have been pretty helpless.

I don’t think I have yet mentioned the Ku Klux Klan. I worked for the Ku Klux Klan for four years, all through high school, played football with kids that were on the other side of the square–the fiery circle–the anti-Klans. That town [page 65] was cut like it had been cut in two with a knife. Of course, it didn’t bother us kids much; we didn’t have anything to gain or to lose–no big deal with us–but the Grand Dragon of the state of Iowa, Ralph Hoyt, was my boss. He had a drugstore there for years, and I worked for him mornings and nights for at least a year or two. He was a good man, a fine man. There were many splendid people in that town, including my brother and my father, who were convinced that it was good.

It is very difficult to go back that many years but their belief, I am told, was the same as the old A.P.A. (American Protective Association) during the Revolutionary War. They told me it was absolutely an all-American, Protestant, militant, white, organization. Of course, to exclude the Negro wasn’t right, and the Protestant part wasn’t right, but the American ideals of our Corrstitution were splendid.

I think what I appreciate the most now was the experience I had because of seeing the extent to which people would go–almost going crazy–simply because of their different ideologies and because they couldn’t find out what was going on on the “other side” –as I mentioned, the Fiery Circle Anti-Klan on one side and the Ku Klux Klan on the other. I witnessed good men lose their businesses overnight. The Grand Dragon’s father was a good man. He was knocked down in the street, hit over the head with a pair of pliers, and all over absolutely nothing.

This was when I first learned that you will not find the truth in the newspapers. The big syndicates, if for any reason it isn’t to their advantage or to their liking, they do not have to publish the truth. They can distort the truth in any way they wish as long as they have the power. I remember this was quite a shock to me. I didn’t know this could happen in this country. All the things I saw in the Ku Klux Klan was a great help to me in overcoming the anti-Mormon stuff that I had been taught all my life. It taught me to go to the source to find out what I wanted to know about anything, and never, ever go on hearsay or publications or anything of the kind.

Because it was Protestant, of course, there was always tpe anti-Catholic angle. We would have ex-Catholic priests come and lecture. That was not good. One man came who was a really rotten, filthy man, and my boss, the Grand Dragon, in that meeting, (some of the neighbor boys came–huge boys–I think there were four brothers) and when he began to say things that were not correct about the Catholics, they stood up and called him on it. It was a vicious situation, but my boss got up and stopped it, and I don’t think that ever happened again. That in itself was a real education for a young kid to witness.

When I came West, because the Klan was secret and we were [page 66} under oath not to divulge anything, I wondered who the Klan leader would be. The man who was the head of the Klan was in Susanville, California where I logged. He was the village drunk, so to speak, an alcoholic, and I had not yet opened my mouth about the Klan, but that was the end of the Klan experience. You ask why the Klan in the first place?

Well, there were some pretty rotten political things pulled in the early days, the old Chicago Pendergast (or New York). It was pretty rank, and the Roman Catholics, where they controlled a huge percentage of the population like back in Boston, were determined they were going to use taxes for their schools, etc.–little things like that. No way was it right. No way was it correct when you compare it with restored gospel, it doesn’t have one leg to stand on from any angle in the world.

As far as the underhanded things that were done, the TV has shown “Specials” on the Klan over and over. There is no way I can possibly believe that the thing I worked in for four years–drove this man all over the state of Iowa–was the same thing portrayed on TV. In fact, just a few years before I came to Washington, we had a bookkeeper from Alabama who worked in the tire shop where I worked, and he was prancing back and forth there in front of a group of men one night, telling about all the men the Ku Klux Klan had broken up and put into the hospital. I stepped out and called him a liar. Guess what! I had to apologize to that group because there was no way I could prove that where he was, where he came from, that there wasn’t a lot of scullduggery going on. All I can say is that where I was in the four yeqrs I worked in it, it did not ever happen, not once, because my boss wouldn’t have stood for that, not for one second.

My boss was in the Aragon Forest in the Rainbow Division in World War I. He got acquainted with a boy from New York City. They were both tremendous doers, and when they parted on the dock in New York City, they made a pledge that they would dedicate the rest of their lives to do something for humanity and, hopefully, they could do enough that there would never be another war as vicious as the one they had come through.

The Klan has signs and signals. You can walk down the street past a man and, by the code–just a word or two–find out if he’s a member. When I went into the Temple at Salt Lake City, I was electrified with interest because of the similarity. I had heard about the Masons. I didn’t know anything about their rituals, but I was astounded that the Klan was actually some type of counterfeit of the Saviour’s clan! Now that I am older and all these years have gone by, I know that Satan has a counterfeit for every phase of the plan [page 67] of our Father in Heaven. There is no doubt in my mind at all. That is what Satan does. Counterfeit, subvert, corrupt, and destroy–that is his aim.

These two boys, when they were in the war,were called out time and time again on special assignments to go out into “No Man’s Land” on spy missions. Over and over those two boys would be the only ones who carne back unscathed. This happened so many times that it really made a bond between the two young men, and this was why they made the covenant to try to do something for humanity, to devote their lives to helping people.

Now–if my head will work, I will try to state some of the conversation of these two men as they got off their ship, put their arms around each other and made their covenant. I assume they corresponded some over the years, and after Ralph Hoyt got to be Grand Dragon of the state of Iowa, he wrote to his friend in New York City and, of course, under cover, he gave a few signs, hoping that if the mother man was a member of the Klan, would pick it up. Would you believe, the boy from New York wrote him a letter and across the front page in great, big letters, “Hey, you corne here and I will show you a real Klan!”

My dear old Quaker dad and my lovely, lovely mother and my brother and myself, and nearly all the ministers in that town, became members of the Ku Klux Klan because of the influence of this one, good friend.

[page 68] CHAPTER (Tape) V

I seem to have left out one very important thing in our lives. JC was probably about three years old when Uncle Jim came down to my father and he said, “Now, Addison, it just isn’t right, the work that you do and the hours you put in, I want you to cut this off and I want to take you and your family fishing with me up in Wisconsin. I know the most fabulous lake in the world, and I want you to go with me.”

I can’t remember if Uncle Jim’s wife was dead at that time, or not, perhaps she was. Anyway, we went on the train from Des Moines. It was Whitefish Lake. I don’t remember the town it was close to but we rented a cabin. I have never seen mosquitoes like that! They stuck on the screens at night in a cloud, and the little ones could squeeze through the screens. This was a large lake, a very large lake, and the man who owned the resort had about a 16′ or 20′ launch with a top on it with a fringe around the top. It had curtains that would drop down. He always towed a rowboat behind the launch. We went several miles, away around, to get into the fishing areas. You talk about fish! They had walleyed pike, the meaty white fish, something like tuna, absolutely delicious and with very few bones. They had pickerel, a long, skinny fish. Then there was the muskelunge. It wasn’t a good fish to eat. It had a huge, ugly mouth and it was a horrible fighter. If you were a fisherman and wanted a fight on your hands, you fished for the muskelunge. {Now when I name it, it doesn’t sound right at all.} Would you believe six or eight people would get three washtubs full of fish, all up to two feet long, as long as the top of the washtub, and their tails would even hang over the side–a few of them? He processed those fish some way so there wasn’t any waste. We never got less than a tub and a half to three tubs every time we went out.

One day he took us down to the dam, ‘way down around where the lake got narrow and the hills were high on the sides. A wonderful dam. I had never seen anything like that in my life. It was 1919 and I was born in ’06, so I was ten [sic] years old. I was up on this dam, and when we came back down we climbed down an iron ladder and then stepped on to the floating wharf to go to our boat, about 30 yards away. [page 69] Wouldn’t you know, I turned around and jumped down on this wharf, like all kids would do, and it was wet. My feet went out from under me; I slipped and slid and barely stopped with my feet and sit-down hanging over the edge of that thing. I threw my body way back to try to stay on. My dad really bawled me out. ‘ He pointed out that if I had gone under there, under that wharf, they’d have never have gotten me out. I really didn’t need the scolding because I was really hurting. I knew the danger. I had been swimming and hand fishing by that time.

This Ray South that I have mentioned, was. the hand fisherman of all fishermens. We would go with him time and time again. Coming back that night, possibly from four to
nine miles, there came up a storm. I mean, it really stormed! Before we got within a mile or a mile and a half of home, it was so violent that that big launch was taking water, and we were afraid. The man running the launch stood up at the controls and kept nudging that boat to hit the gigantic waves endwise so that they wouldn’t completely swamp us. He fought the waves and maneuvered that boat, and would you believe, Uncle Jim, to take the weight out of that launch, got into the rowboat on the end of a 30’ rope and sat back there manipulating that boat around so the waves wouldn’t swamp it. I will not forget that as long as I live. He laughed and pretended he was having a ball so we wouldn’t panic. That was fabulous Uncle Jim.

On the way back, we came to the big bridge over the Des Moines River. JC was between two and three years old. We had a folding drinking cup which was quite the thing in those days. Of course, we wiped it off, and we shared. When we went over the bridge, JC was all excited and said, “Whee!” as he threw the drinking cup out there. I knew better than that at ten years old, and I thought that was so horrible. I didn’t understand why my folks didn’t punish him for throwing that cup into the river. I can still see it making the long flight before it hit the water.

I have to go back aways now to a very early memory. The first memory I have that was really associated with the word, “father”. It was in the winter, I was very young, and there was a blizzard. My little mother had shined that light and put it in the window. She tried with all her heart to keep fear off her face for our sakes. Stanley might have been six or seven at that time. It got dark and late, and the blizzard became bad. (As you know, in a blizzard, you can’t see anything. Somehow horses have the affinity to follow a trail or a road where humans are a total failure.) Somehow she managed to keep us from becoming as worried as she was because [page 70] the only indication of fear was when she knelt in the twilight to pray. Then, she couldn’t hide the fear.

Many miles away, maybe it was 20 to 30 below. My father had had a few bobsleds. I remember the rides in the old bobsled, originally. This Robbie who got his neck broken, Dad’s favorite saddle horse that he had brought down to that country–we had his hide made into a beautiful, Morgan horse, tanned robe. We also had a buffalo robe. I can still remember that huge thick hair and fur on that robe. There was no way in those days to keep it clean and so Mother wouldn’t put up with that for long, and it disappeared

Anyway, eventually, way off in the distance, you heard iron tires on that 40 degree-below frozen snow. They make a noise like you can’t believe with all four wheels breaking through frozen snow–sound like four sirens. We heard that ‘way in the distance. Mother raised the window a little bit and, sure enough, that was the wagon! Closer and closer, up the half-mile lane, stopped, went through the gate, stopped, closed the gate, came around that ridge (about a half-mile), ‘way around to the west and north and back down east to the buildings. I remember so well the details of the sounds that night. The tug harness and my father’s voice as he undid the harness, dropped the tongue and the neck yolk. As the animals went into the barn, he spoke to each one as he pulled the harness off. I heard the rumble of the harness as he heaved it on the hook at the back of the stall. Then, putting the corn in the feedbox. Noisy–rumble, rumble, rumble, as those tired beasts devoured their overdue supper.

Finally, he came in the door. He was covered with snow. There were frost crystals all over the front of his great big, brown coat. I don’t know what that coat was made of but it was a long coat–thick, heavy, with a big fur collar. He even had frost crystals on his eyewinkers, his hair, and his cap. I remember that so distinctly!

Another event about this time; I was sitting on the floor with Old Tom in my arms, and he carne in through the door with that coat on. The cat thought he was a prehistoric monster and about tore me to pieces. Of course I tried to hang onto him, and he climbed up over my shoulders, I bent forward and he climbed down my back–really peeled me up but I was determined I could hold him, and he was determined to get away.

This man never changed. Over the years, I never could understand why any man would work like that man worked. He produced a crop after he was broke and losing his land and owed the bank. He told the bank they could sue if they wanted to but they wouldn’t get ten cents on the dollar, but if they’d leave him alone, he’d pay it. Now, that I have stood [page 71] many, many times where he once stood, I know only too well what men do when they simply have to do it.

This was some time after the 20’s. I’m putting this in here because I want to leave my high school athletic story all in one block. So, I will put in here, the ten-cent corn.

One year, corn was ten cents per bushel! A good family that had the eighty rented across the road, by the name of Don Schimm–later you will see that his son and I went west to seek our fortunes–this good man paid, I think, his cash rent with ten cent corn. I have wondered and wondered what went through that man’s mind as he was picking that corn in the cold and shoving it into the great big, huge, long crib on the original home place.

My father sold every hoof of stock on that ranch. Anything on the ranch he could get a penny out of, he sold and bought ten cent corn. He had people all around the country picking their corn, hauling it and putting it in woven wire cribs. They made those cribs just about as far as a man could throw a shovelful, up and across, from all four sides. Dad had corn piled all over that hillside. Here again, this was when my friend and neighbor’s sows and horses were in that corn night after night. We’d never heard of an electric fence. My dad would not let me build a fence across our driveway, which was a steep cut. It would have had to have been fenced down both sides with a gate at the end. He said he didn’t want to have to fool with a gate, and yet, we spent enough time chasing that stock out of there, to build twenty gates!

It was about the first or second spring after that ten-cent corn that I had the privilege to see shellers come in and shell that same corn at eighty-six cents a bushel! I think I mentioned that I was with my dad when he paid off that final note at the bank. Here again, a gigantic lesson of what patience and faith can do. Dad used to say, “Grit your teeth and hang on; things will turn around.”

But what is a teenager to do? Working all those hours and keeping up with a man who had to change horses at noon, and be in the furrow every night until you couldn’t see it? It may have been good for him, but it was rough on me and my brother!

Speaking of rough, here is another tremendous lesson concerning my father and the goodness of the Quaker people. My brother, when he broke those big, raw mules, (and their mouths were so tough they would slide you through field with both your boots plowing two furrows) would wrap those lines around his wrists and grind his teeth. One time he said, “You damned Sons of ‘B’s.”

When he got them stopped and came back, my father said to [page 72] my brother, “When my father, the minister, got ground into the dirt by the stock and the mules, he would call them ‘bitches’. When I got really wild, I called my horses, ‘Sons of B’s”. I noticed you called your horses, “Damned Sons of B’s”. Now, what will your children call their mules?”

I have never known a more potent lesson than that one. It took the Quakers four generations before they got down to where they would take the name of the Lord in vain. How about that?

As many times as I have thought back to those years, I have had a feeling of remorse hit me every single time because of my attitude. Oh, I worked, you bet I did. I held up my end but I was ugly. I never smiled and that was a terrible, terrible thing. I didn’t give my dear old dad the support and love that he deserved, but the Quaker philosophy was not to show emotion. It was actually frowned upon, belittled, or made fun of. This was wrong but by the same token, I never heard of the word, ‘incest’; I didn’t know what that meant in my entire youth because they were so strict in their dealings with things that were wrong in their own families.

Somewhere during this time, before the real crash really hit, you could have bought a trainload of lard for four cents a pound. I know hogs were around two-and-a-half cents, cattle were three plus cents per pound, and when things were supposed to have been pretty good; later on, my dad could have gotten twelve cents a pound for every hoof of stuff he owned, probably 200 head. I was so disgusted with my dad because he just didn’t get around and just didn’t get things done. Those cattle all sold at eight cents per pound. – Think of the terrible loss!

Now, I sit where my dad sat, and I don’t get one-tenth of the things done that I should be doing.

In Dad’s last few years, he was awfully stove up with arthritis. It was pitiful to watch him try to get his legs and feet up inside of the wagon box. He had to really scold the mules to get them to hold still so he had time to pick up his feet and get into the wagon. He had had no one knows how many slight strokes. Mother told us about several times that she would call Steve. She was quite concerned. Dad would never admit anything was wrong. So she would call Steve and say, “Steve, could you please come up? Addison is acting very peculiar.” So Steve always came over with some kind of any excuse, like maybe he wanted to borrow something from Dad. He’d sit down and visit and visit. Maybe stay two or three hours and try to figure out what shape Dad was in, before he’d leave. So, he’d had several strokes before he closed up his business and came out to Grandview to live in the house in the orchard. I think he closed his business in 1943. I have what [page 73] I think is his last sale bill; the month was October, but they didn’t put the year on it. According to the letters Mother wrote, it would be 1943. He lived there in Stanley’s orchard and died in January of 1945.

He was able to enjoy himself there. They raised a big garden. When they came in December of 1944, we were able to visit and be with them a lot. Dad wasn’t in too bad shape at that time. In the winter of ’45 he began to get worse. He was taking some high-powered liver shots to keep his system functioning. Finally, when he became pretty bad, the doctor asked us if we wanted to continue those liver shots which were perpetuating a body that was unable to function. We said that knowing our dad like we know him, he wouldn’t want them to be continued so they stopped giving him the medicine. In just a day or two, Dad was gone.

I remember Stanley and I carried our father out into the hearse. It was quite a thing to do that. It made us realize that this same thing had been done all through the centuries as people took care of their forebears.

At my mother’s funeral, in Grandview, about 1961 or ’62, my brother wasn’t on the program at all, but at the graveside. Just before the service, my brother stepped forward and addressed the group. “I have dreaded this day as far back as I can remember, but as I stand here this day, it is one of the happiest days of my life. I realize what a great woman my mother was and how I realized what she meant to me and to all those around her. It is a great privilege to be able to stand with her here and bear witness to this in her behalf.” I thought that was a splendid thing to do. She was a great woman until the day she died. Like the Stake President in Klamath Falls said of his mother–he had farmed with them, helped to get in many crops of potatoes–“I have never in my life known a woman who could set such a splendid table with so little as this good woman could. I am sure when the kings and queens of the different dispensations are gathered together, she will stand among them.” I thought that was about as fine a tribute as I had ever heard.

I might say here that the last time we visited Klamath Falls, the last time I saw her alive, as we prepared to leave, I put my arm around her and bent down to give her a kiss, and I stepped back to within eighteen inches of her, looked at her, and at least for a fleeting second, she was transfigured. I saw her apparently as she would be, and there are no words in our language to describe what I saw! The sheer beauty of it, and at her age, is totally indescribable in this life. I had a premonition that she knew (I don’t believe she said anything) that she would not see us again; I don’t know, but that is what happened. I saw it! I know what I saw as sure [page 74] as I live!

It’s so easy for us to say we have never seen a miracle, never have known the miraculous things that some people talk of, but that is not true. This type of thing has happened many times, and when we stop to think back, and are forced to remember our history, then these few moments become very vivid and real, and we know they did happen, without a doubt.

Today is February 7, 1985. I have played the tapes that I have made so far–four and a half tapes. I’ve gone over and over them but I can’t improve on them.

I think I should make a insert here and say again that it is agonizing to try to write a history and try to remember back all those years. I have thought, made pages of notes of things as they came to me, and find that I am very fortunate in remembering most of the harrowing experiences of my childhood. I can’t remember what I read ten minutes ago though, and to try to sort through this stuff and get it into chronological order–it just isn’t quite going to happen, but I’m still going to try. I have said many times that I would have to fight to write my life history, but I know that my life’s experiences are so different from the average guy’s that they are going to say, “Why that hallucinating old fooll”

Be that as it may, I am writing it to the very best of my ability and will try to express my feelings as I lived through it. I will try to tie it in with the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the history of this world, as we have it, by the best historians and, of course, by the scriptures, especially the late scriptures, and the great knowledge brought forth by the Book of Mormon and the establishment of the true church directly under the hand of the Saviour Himself, in person, as He appeared to the young lad. Not by the lad’s greatness, I am sure, but because the time was right. All the prophets that ever opened their mouths testified of the coming of the Saviour and the things that would happen and would be established in the last times before his reappearance.

I am as positive of the things I have gone through and studied and become convinced of, as I am that I live. It would be as easy for someone to tell me my hands are not a part of my body as to tell me that this thing is a hoax–that it has been concocted by man. I don’t care how brilliant they might think they are, I defy any human being to put it together like it really is and then try to make all the details and all the evidence fit together as it does from all history and all prophecies. There is no way it could have been falsified.

[page 75] So, I will continue and tell of the things that were very impressive upon me. If you will remember, all the time I went to high school, I had to take care of cattle. I could hardly get enough sleep to keep going. Now, one of the things that was a thrill to me was watermelons!

I don’t know that my father ever put a watermelon seed in the ground in his life, but on this 240 when we had been there a year or so, I sent away somewhere and got some watermelon, cantaloupe, or muskmelon seeds. That first year saw the most fabulous melon patch I have ever seen in my life! We planted the same seeds in the same ground the next years and for years to come, and not one year did we ever again have a melon patch to compare with the first one. We had what we called the green Kleckley Sweets. You couldn’t put three melons in a big, long white grain sack that held 120 pounds of wheat. You could get two of them in, most of the time, but never ‘three. We had muskmelons (or cantaloupe, I’m not sure) that were eight and ten inches in diameter. The meat on them was a full three to three-and-a-half inches thick, and they were absolutely exquisitely delicious! I’ve never seen anything like it, ever!

I took the team and a single box full of straw and took a load of those melons in. I parked the mules in the town square in the shade of the big elm trees by the courthouse and practically sold that load out, and had $21.00 in my pocket! I drove home that night with the fear in my heart that I might be robbed. I had never had money like that before!

Another really fabulous thing for me was the teachers and the principal and my fabulous coach. That coach was as fine a man as ever stepped onto a fooball field anywhere in the history of this nation. It is unbelievable how he could inspire young kids.

Now, the sad part–I see by my report card that I was in the eighth grade in 1921, I believe. I was a freshman in 1922, sophomore in 1923, junior in ’24, and because of the violent injury, I played my last game on Thanksgiving of 1924 and never played again. I have lived in grinding pain much of my life because of football. Would you believe the old family doctor walked across town more than once to sit down with my father and mother and tell them that this boy, this gangling skinny kid who never weighed over 135 pounds . . I see that when I left the 8th grade I was 5’3″ and weighed 93 pounds. Whe~ a freshman, 106 pounds. Some of our men weighed 165 to 185. We had the lightest team in the whole area but we had the thrill of playing undefeated for two full years.

My freshman year, I,could do nothing, but because of this inspiring coach, I never missed a practice. When we started the second year, we played the alumni scrimmage. The football

[page 76] field was at the County Fair Grounds. My brother’s pal, Lyle Ray, was a fabulous football player. He was built like an ape with great wide shoulders and huge, long arms. His nickname was “Ape” and he carried that nickname all through school. He had little short legs, tiny hips, and this gigantic upper body and arms. I saw him reach out and nail them time and time again with one hand; one ankle, but if he got a hold, they never got away.

Anyway, in this alumni game, he was playing fullback, going through with his head down, splitting right through everybody. I played right end. He carne around towards me once and I dove for his legs with everything I had. His knee — his legs went like stearn pile drivers. One of those knees hit my helmet right smack dead-center, and knocked me out. Things went flying, and that old earth kept bumping me from seven different directions. The coach walked up, put his hands on the ball and said, “That’s the first tackle that’s been made here today.” (I hadn’t touched him with my hands, but I knocked him end over end. I got credit for that.)

There was no stopping me, ever, ever. I played every game for two years, the whole game, except when we were way ahead, and he’d put in substitutes. This fabulous coach — I can still hear that man yelling, “stay on your feet! You can’t play football rolling around like a bunch of old women.” He would say, “Don’t you ever, ever let one man get you down. If you have to go down, be sure you take two men with you.”

He also said, “If you live clean, train and work, and if you plan, which means practice and learning the plays and working a plan, you will win.” He said it a thousand times. Clean living, hard work, planning, and you are a winner.

Another thing he told us that turned out to be true. “When you play against a team that starts to play dirty and nasty and tries to hurt someone, to knock men out, you buckle down and play football, and you will win,” he would say. “You are less apt to get hurt if you make a good clean tackle and stay with that man on the ground, than if you’re up flying around in the air.”

After the rest of us had gone in to shower, all the little kids in the neighborhood would gather around, and the coach would have kids kick goal. The little kids would run the balls back, and every time they’d get loose he’d holler and throw his ball down for the little kids and throw passes to them. They got the biggest kick out of that. Those little kids one day became big kids, and they had all that practice and experience behind them for when they went on the football field.

My brother had this coach for four years and I had him for four years, but during the last year I was hurt and didn’t get [page 77] to play a single game.

I will tell this story now as it is the most appropriate time. Our center’s name was Johnny Baker. Johnny was heavy-set, not fast, and because of this, he played center.
He had real thick legs and thighs, and he did our kicking. This boy would stand out there after we went in to shower, night after night and kick and kick and kick. The little kids would run the ball back, and the coach would throw them passes. That was in 1924. His father ran the one-horse patent medicine wagon. He had qUite a family. There were some older sisters. How he fed his family, I will never know. Johnny and his family moved to California. I never heard of him again.

Years later when I went into the logging camp in 1929, I think it was that winter that things were pretty tough and the plant shut down so there wasn’t a workshop in the winter. I came up to White Bluffs, Washington, where the Hanford Project is now, to work for my brother’s wife’s sister [Isabelle Potter Burns], who had an orchard. I picked and packed apples there that fall. When I came into town in the fall, probably around Thanksgiving, I stopped at a service station. I went to open the door and the old door rattled and made a lot of noise. I stepped inside and a bUnch of men at the back end of the store. They all threw up their hands and said, “Quiet! Quiet! Quiet!”

I thought, “What the Sam Hill?” Notre Dame! It had been undefeated for four years. They had what they called the “four horsemen” of the backfield. I used to be able to name them all. The only one I can think of now is Stottlemeyer. Those four boys had played together, undefeated, for four years. They were playing the University of Southern California and had a tie set up for a close game. There was a field kick coming up. They said Johnny Baker was going to try for field goal in one of the longest tries recorded at that time. There was quite a pause. Pretty soon, he kicked it.

“It’s good! It’s good!” the radio roared, and the crowd went absolutely crazy. That kick defeated Notre Dame the first time in years.

I thought there wasn’t a chance in a million that was my little friend that I used to hunt rabbits with, in the snow, with sticks when we didn’t have a dime to buy a shell [ammunition] with, etc., etc.,

The boy that bapitzed me went with me to Iowa State with me to take a Forestry course, and I got a violent ear infection right at semester, lost my math credit which I had to have to have done anything in mechanics or electrics. So, Borner went to Medford, Oregon, into the Forest Service. His ranger was a Mormon, and a good one. Of course, Horner joined [page 78] the church.

Homer had worked with me and was practically raised with me, married my cousin. I went back to Klamath Falls when I left White Bluffs. We went to a picture show, probably a “shoot ’em up”, I don’t know, but we sat side by side. They used to have the Fox Newsreel between shows and before they started. Would you believe we sat there together and saw this boy we had played with for four years, kick that goal that beat Notre Dame, and it was our Johnny Baker! Talk about a couple of kids getting a thrill!

He shook his head, backed up, looked up, shook his head, and finally heaved a great big breath and let fly. That thing went through there as if you had shot it with a cannon. ‘Nuff said. This was the kind of men that we were privileged to train under.

He left our school and went down to East High of Des Moines where he had hundreds and hundreds of kids. Our struggle was to get twenty-two kids suited up so we could scrimmage. This good man, at East High, during the next fifteen years, won eighty-seven percent of his football games. He never lost a Big Six Track Meet. What that may mean in high school now, I have no idea, but he won every one until he retired. Incidently, he married my Latin teacher. She was a lovely girl. Also, I had an English teacher that I just thought the world of, all through high school.

My first car wreck — would you believe we were going past a blind alley, high buildings on both sides, just going down the street past this blind alley that came out of a corner of the Square. Here came a kid out of that blind alley, cutting a corner, during school hours, just as tight as he could make it. Well, Holy Cats! There was nothing to do. In order to miss him I had pulled to the left as far as I could, over against the curb, and he hit me on the right side, catching his right front wheel on my front wheel, shoving me over into a telephone pole. All it did to that old Model T was to bend a fender down and knock both hub caps off. I have been hit three times, I think, in my life, the only wrecks I have had in seventy years of driving, and two of those times I was off the road as far as I could get and almost stopped dead still. But it was this “hookey kid” who gave me my first crack-up.

The old family doctor who took care of my black and blue faces and bandaged me up so many times, sat my mother and father down two or three times and explained to them, “This boy has absolutely no business on the football field.” But, you know, I HAD to play football! My brother played, and his friends played, so under this fabulous coach, I went ahead. As I sit here, of all the lessons of life I learned, I think it was the privilege of playing football that gave me [page 79] the confidence I needed so badly during those critical years without the gospel or a reason for why I was on this earth. I don’t complain, and even right now, as I sit here I have pain in my back. I was X-rayed a week ago, and the doctor said it looks like the lower vertebraes have so much calcified “stalagtites” that it looks like they are fused together.

When my brother came back from California in 1919 in such a pitiful state, he couldn’t do anything, but the second year he played football, after that violent illness, was the year before I started to play.

Valley Junction is a division of the Rock Island Railroad in the suburb of Des Moines, and those boys were giant men; first, second and third descendants of the Italians who came to this country to build railroads. They were huge men. They had new, white headgear, which I had never seen. They looked like a bunch of elephants coming out onto the field. Well, they came down for a practice game. They had a fullback who was a tycoon and the fullback broke his leg. You could hear it pop clear across the field. One of those big guys tackled him at the ankles, his foot hit the ground, and it snapped his leg. I remember that he laughed and they went out and put him on a car cushion, carried him back to the car, and he joked all the way. Anyway, the score was 18 to 0 in our favor. Another great lesson.

The first time I got my back hurt was the first part of the first year when I played all the time, I believe. We played a team that had a very poor coach and very poorly trained kids. They were great big farm kids and they were tough but they didn’t know how to play football. I played end and went down on all the punts. This great big tackle — I roared down on a punt and I didn’t know he was coming after me at all. He stepped over in front of me and hooked me in the chest with his elbows, hiked me up in the air, I came down on my sit-down on that hard ground and wacked my back. Hey! I couldn’t walk. I didn’t play the rest of that game. Then I could walk but couldn’t run, so I went to a chiropractor and as a result, in two weeks, I was back playing.

From then on, chiropractors were miracle men, and I took dozens of treatments after that for back injuries that didn’t accomplish a thing. Over the years I have learned that if you use a vibrator and do the best you can with exercise, your good old anatomy has the ability to heal itself. I only went to one chiropractor since, in Iowa, years after that. My friend, Homer Wakefield and his wife, nearly went crazy that I wouldn’t go to a chiropractor, but I told them a chiropractor had never really done anything for me, but to please them I went. I had a cold. They guaranteed that he could knock that [page 80] cold in three days, so I went. Well, he worked on my head, my nose, and my back. I took two treatments and may as well have taken a drink of water.

The second time I got a horrible back injury was, as so many times, in scrimmage with our own team. The first team line was playing against the first team backfield. We had the scrub backfield with us. We were whipping them and they got mad. Here again, a late hit is what it amounted to. I tackled him from behind, let go, and started to get up. That first line team was mad and they pushed a whole pile of kids on top of me and caught me in a sitting position. They bent my head over to the left until my head came down and hit the side of my left calf and knee, if you can believe it. It kinked my back between my shoulders so viciously, that if someone had driven a wooden peg in my back, with a hammer, it couldn’t possibly have hurt worse.

I don’t know what I did — went to the chiropractor, of course, and played football, but that was a horrible thing. That would be towards the end of the season of the first year I played, but that is how I got violently hurt, and it was because the kids roared in there after the whistle had blown. That so often happens in professional football.

Atlantic, Iowa was always a tough team. They were quite a ways away and the first year I played them was my second year. There were four German boys — light headed German boys. They were tall and wiry and the shiftiest boys I ever saw on a football team. Three brothers in the backfield! I suppose they had romped and wrestled all their lives. Their father ran a machine shop in Atlantic. These kids were something else! I had been coached that when I played end, under no condition do you allow anyone to get outside of you. You drive every play in and let the other men do the tackling. O.K. Because I had chased sheep and cattle and anything on legs all my life, when I went on the football team, I never missed tackles. It just didn’t happen.

Anyway, these brothers ganged up on me. They came around and I had that man in my arms as sure as any man I ever tackled in my life. His brother slipped around and dropped on my feet from behind. It stopped me like a shot. I can still remember, my fingers just stripped down his legs. He got outside of me and ran 45 yards. He almost made a touchdown. Whether or not they scored on that, I don’t know; they probably did. Well, we were clear down to the far corner of the field, the crowd was on the opposite side of the field, and my coach couldn’t see what had happened. Maybe it didn’t make any difference. When they lined up again, there was somebody to take my place. That never had happened before, or since

[page 81] I still remember the hideous feeling I had. We wonder why kids commit suicide. In the heat of that situation, if there had been a well there, when I was walking off that field with my head down in shame, I was sure I would have dived into it, headfirst. That just shows some of the pressure a young kid can be under. I didn’t realize that could be possible until I went through it. Now I know.

Anyway, they were ahead of us by one point and we lined up to kick goal. We kicked a goal and wouldn’t you know, the darned ball spun underneath, coming back toward us, hit that goal post and went twenty feet, straight into the air. Then it started spinning the other way, spinning away from us, and because of that spin, it dropped down, hit the goal post, bounced up, fell over on its side, and counted as a goal! That was a tied game. That was what kept us from being defeated in all those years.

Creston, Iowa, about twenty miles south on the CB&Q Railroad was always our rival. Here again, there were four brothers in the field. They had stubby, black whiskers! How old they were I have no idea, or how that could be. This was the toughest game we played every year, and my coach would coach us for one full year as to how we were to outsmart this team. How do you suppose he did it? They were really big kids, and he would say, “Don’t you ever line up and snap that ball and don’t you ever, ever, ever let them find their places.” That is how we were trained.

We played the Thanksgiving game on the frozen ground with an inch-skiff of snow on it. We’d slide like heck, and it wasn’t funny. Oooh! That ground was hard. I played against a great, big tackle who outweighed me like you can’t believe. He was dirty and dirty-mouthed. I got hit in the face the first place in that cold, cold weather, and had tears in my eyes so I couldn’t see.

Anyway, we got the jump on them and got a touchdown right away quick. They got mad. He cussed and told me he was going to kill me. He just went crazy. Said he was going to kick a lung out of me. I remembered what my coach had told me over and over again. Can you believe we beat that team 40 to O? This was the payoff after all those years of this man telling us what to do when that happened. I did it, and it worked.

A kind of a sad thing was the fact that I think my dear, old Dad only saw me play one or two games in all those years. I see I made the same mistake. I remember the young kids I worked with and taught in Sunday School when I got older. I mentioned something one day about kids and this kid says, “Big deal! When did you ever come to a football game? When did you ever watch me play?”

You know, they were right. I didn’t go to games. I got [page 82} beat down with work, trying to payoff a mortgage and raise my family.

Another team we played that was always a tough game was a long way from home. We drove in those old Model T touring cars with those great, big kids in the back seat. We were cramped up in there so when we got out of the car we couldn’t walk. Anyway, this game was a tough one. Big kids, and tough. This one time, we beat them hands down, six ways from Sunday, and every single time we made a long gain, that “ref” would call a playback on something. I caught the longest pass I ever saw thrown. The coach had always told us that when we caught a pass, no matter what the score, always go to the goal line and put that ball down, and then if the penalty is canceled or anything, then we’ve got the score.

So, like a darned fool, I ran across the field and over the goal line as I had been coached. They called it back anyway. We made two or three great long runs and they called everyone of them back. We about went crazy.

The fullback that I played against, would always come around and clip me, a body block. He’d throw those spikes up and kick me in the back, every time. I couldn’t get away from him. If I was trying to get at the guy with the ball, the fullback would run interference when he wasn’t carrying the ball — which he wasn’t most of the time because he was such a good blocker — and he kicked me in the back. I’ll tell you, it got insane. I walked up to the referee and pulled up my shirt in the back, I was so black and blue you couldn’t put your finger on a spot that wasn’t. I said, “Is there any reason for this? Do you think he should get by with this?” He just turned his head and walked off.

Wouldn’t you know a bunch of cattle buyers in our area would follow our games? They’d go to the towns and gamble; they’d bet and get lots of bets. Sometimes they would bet against themselves or bet on the points or the score, or something. We didn’t know anything about that until it was all over.

Anyway, after all those plays were called back, we finally won that thing 18 to 12 or 18 to 6, a pretty fair score, but we should have had a 40 to 0 score. I could never understand that. It was months before it finally leaked out that those guys over there were betting like maniacs on that Guthrie Center game.

[page 83] CHAPTER (Tape) VI.1

As I mentioned, the town of Creston wa the biggest opposition team we had in all those years. These boys were Italians on the CB&Q Railroad. There were four brothers in the backfield on this team and they had stubby, black whiskers. The last year I played, we went down there and wouldn’t you know, something happened that just never happens in little towns like ours? The quarterback and fullback had taken out a wild girl and a jug of wine the night before this game. Somehow, I suspected, my coach knew that. They were absolutely helpless; they got sick; they messed their clothes. They whined and complained. The coach sat on that bench, looked right straight ahead and said, “Play ball!”

Normally, he would have yanked those kids out of there with the first booboo they made and they would have stayed out. He left them in there to take their medicine, and it took me years to figure that out. I went out of my head. We should have beat that team 40 to 0, but they beat us 7 to O. I didn’t know what was going on.

They only came around my side twice, and I sacked them both times for a 15/20 yard loss, and they never came around that side again. I got to watching the muscles in the center’s hands, and every time before he passed a ball back, he would fudge, and when he would fudge, I’d jump, and, since I wasn’t getting penalized, I played that to the hilt. I could jump ten to fifteen feet every play, and the ref didn’t penalize me because the guy would fudge the ball a little. After you’ve played for years and have dodged those livestock all those years — I can’t tell you how to do it but, somehow, you can get in between the interference and grab the feet of the guy who has the ball, and I did that over and over. I was going crosswise and reaching around, half-sideways, and got the guy with the ball twisted around with his feet under my back. About three of those big interference guys, fell like cordwood across us, and poked those calks up into my back from that guy’s shoes, and I was hurt. I was hurt so bad I couldn’t even see. I know now I was totally out of my head — out on that field. The coach offered to take me out, but I lied to him and told him I was O.K. I do believe I went ahead and played all of that game, but I never played again.

I wore a steel jacket for nine full months, in the fall of 1924, and the weather was hot and sweaty.

[page 84] I went all over the country in that steel jacket. Even on that trip I told you about when I burned the valves out of that Ford. I even went swimming with that brace, and I took a boat out in the lake against high waves, just to see what I could do. I found I could control it — could put it endwise against those giant waves. When I came back in, there was a bunch on the shore who just cussed me out from every angle. They called me a damned fool and asked me if I was trying to kill myself. Anyway I found out I could control a boat!

So anyway, these guys were tough and big and we lost the game. I remember bawling for hours. I couldn’t stop — something I had never done before. No question about it, I was out of my head.

I went down to Iowa City sometime the next spring. There was a bone specialist, a Dr. Steiner, who shuttled between Iowa City and Germany, a world famous specialist. They X-rayed my back and the X-rays never showed a break. X-rays don’t show cartilage, and the cartilage between my vertebraes were crushed. That was my weak spot. The vertebrae were cocked around and pinched the spinal cord. I was put into a syphiletic ward with all kinds of people with syphilis. They did spinal tap after spinal tap, determined that that specimen was going to show syphilis. One of the last things they did was to put me into a body cast and when they took it off, he made another steel brace exactly like the one I had worn for nine months. Here I was, my whole life ahead of me and I didn’t know if I would ever work another day.
I said, “Dr. Stein, what can I expect. I have been in the steel brace and in the body cast and I- haven’t bent my back once, in all that time.”

He said, “What would you do if you saw a five dollar bill on the floor?”

I said, “Well, I’d pick it up.” So I held my back rigid, bent my legs, and went straight down, as if I had picked it up. Well, the cockeyed man hit that curtain and threw it completely up over the railing and went out of there like a scared rabbit. I never saw him again. If I had it to do over, so help me, I would tackle the guy. I talked to him just like I’m talking now, dead serious; I didn’t do anything wrong. I suppose he thought that was perhaps the first time in his career that somebody might be questioning his expertise.

I’ve been in and out of hospitals all my life and have seen as much rank ignorance among the so-called brains in hospitals as I have seen in any Mexican farmhand, and this is no joke.

Now, I made a mistake on the dates. I played my last game in the fall of 1924. Then I went to the doctors, over and [page 85] over, trying to find something to do for this back, and couldn’t, and the next year was my senior year so I went to school in the fall of 1925. That was when I put the steel brace on. I ran the line at the football games and that was a kind of a mess. I’d get so excited, having played all those years and then couldn’t play, that I’d go crazy. The referee came over there two or three times and I would have to apologize. I told him what condition I was in and why, so I went ahead and was the lineman, but it was an ordeal to keep my mouth shut because of the excitement.

I went down to Iowa City in the spring of 1926, the year I graduated. Just the other night I got into the letters that my school pals had written me when I was in Iowa City Hospital. The thrill of those letters, and especially from my teacher, who wrote to me and talked to me just like I was her brother. All the years, the relationships I had with my teachers was fabulous.

When I came out of the cast, he gave me the brace and I never put it on! The summer before, I would lie up in that south room on a hard mattress and look out across the countryside, and I would wonder if I would be able to do anything again in my life — my back was that bad. That was before I had the brace on. One afternoon I got up and walked to the back of the place. We had a spring there that watered the big stock tank. There was a rabbit in the spring. It had just gotten in there and drowned. They couldn’t leave it in there to rot, so I very carefully got down and braced myself, got a weed and pulled the rabbit over towards me. I had to reach down three or four feet. When I started to ease that rabbit towards me, the pain hit me in the back just like someone had slipped up behind me and stuck a butcher knife in it. To this day, I don’t know how I kept from falling in. I was hanging there, head down, with my legs over the edge of the curb. I knew I had to get out some way, somehow. I remember I lay there for hours before I could get up and walk. It was bad.

I grew up about a year behind other kids who were my same age. The quarterback that lost us the game was a big kid. In the 4th or 5th grade, we were playing one day when there were no teachers around. He grabbed me around the neck and got a hammerlock on my neck. He hurt me so bad that I went crazy. To think my friend would pull a stunt like that! It was hideous! He said I was to surrender to him and I was so mad I told him I would never surrender. (This would be surrendering to a bully, and all my life, I have resented bullies.) He tried to break my neck. He hung on to me for hours. I would never surrender. I don’t know how any human being could be that dumb, but that is what I did. Along towards dark, we had [page 86] rolled allover the school yard and down by the blackberry patch.

Then his friend came along and the two of them piled on me. They were determined to break my head off my body. Of course. I was so mad I was crazy. I remember getting my arms through a woven wire fence and the two of them tried to twist my neck off. Anyway, it got dark and they had to go home. When they let me go, I couldn’t walk, just wobbled. I couldn’t even stay on the sidewalk to get home, no way. I was going to stop and tell his folks about it, so I got up on the porch and knocked on the door. His mother came out, but I couldn’t talk. Somehow, she guessed what had happened, and I had about three more blocks to home. I remember the agony of those three blocks. I don’t know what I told the folks but I’m sure there was no way I could keep it from them.

I didn’t know until I went into Salt Lake in 1938 and asked for my patriarchal blessing — when I got the blessing and was told I fought on the side of the Saviour in the war in heaven in the defense of the freedom of agency, etc. That has stuck in my being since before I came to this earth — the violent hatred of injustice to anybody on earth.

As a result of this, perhaps, I took exercises all my high school years. Probably started in the 8th grade. I’d open the window in my upstairs room even if it was 40 below, and would work on my neck, especially. That may have been the thing that kept me alive in my football years because ever since I got my neck hurt so badly, I have worked on it and tried to strengthen it.

I don’t think I mentioned that our coach would run; in fact, he ran the four miles to school. When he was in college, he won all field athletic events hands down.
Somehow, when he’d go out at night before bedtime, he’d run across town, and he caught this big fullback smoking more than once. I stood beside that boy two different times, I think, when he’d get out of school and come down to dress up for football, the coach would say, “Turn in your suit.”

Oh, he’d whine and ask Why. The coach would tell him he saw him smoking and would make him miss a game. That happened more than once. This same boy was always dirty-mouthed around the girls. That always bugged me, even in grade school. Before it was over, he had ruined one of the finest little girls. She went out to Omaha, Nebraska, and years later, she died. I just would think she died of a broken heart because of the ordeal of what she went through. In those days, there was no real help for that kind of a situation. It was sad.

This hospital ordeal was in 1926 when I went down to Iowa City. I came back home in ’26 after being in the hospital, and I got stronger during that summer. The big deal was, as

[page 87] my back got stronger, I was feeling better and able to work, I felt pretty good because of the determination to bring my body back into good shape. So, Homer Wakefield, my pal, who I worked with, played football with, went to school with — he played left end most of the time and I played right end all the time. We stripped down an old Model T car. I had $10.00 and a roll of blankets. I think Homer had about the same. We went down to Iowa State College in the fall of 1926 and started a Forestry Course. I’m pretty sure I started my course because I wanted to get away from working those long hours and never seeing any money. So, we did. We had to apply for a job to get enough money to keep us going. Would you believe I got a job as a nursemaid?

I was sent way out east of Ames, about two miles out — there were busses and streetcars to shuttle back and forth on. The woman was a multimillion-dollar insurance man’s only daughter and she had married the “all American football player”. He was actually digging graves in a cemetery to feed himself and his little family! So, you can imagine the pressure within that little family. They had a baby boy just barely walking. My job was to do the dishes, set the table, diaper the little guy, and take care of him while his mother did quite a bit of running around socially. So, that’s what I did! I had to cook some of the meals, do the cleaning, the washing, etc. No problem. I’d done that all my life!

Anyway, I had been there about two weeks when one night she said to me, “Now, beginning Monday morning, we would expect you to serve us two at the table.”
I batted my eyes and I thought, “Well, O.K. If that’s my job, that’s what I’ll do!”

That night, my friend from across the section on the farm where I was raised, Lloyd Wambole, (he’d come down to the college) didn’t have a place to stay so he asked if there was any chance that he could come out and stay until he found a place. So, I asked them. I told him I knew the boy — that I had grown up with him — and she said it was O.K. So he came out, stayed all night, got up the next morning and went back to school. He didn’t eat, just slept there.

That night when I came in, (I don’t remember if it was in the winter but it got dark pretty early) I was sitting on the edge of the bed, just ready to change my clothes and go out to get supper and whatever had to be done. Anyway, that woman came and stood in the door and started in on me like I had never heard a human being in all my life. She said, “You know what? You’re just plain cheap trash. You’re never going to amount to anything because all you want to do is run with your gang!”
I had been a loner from day one. I didn’t have any gang [page 88] and I hadn’t lied to her about the neighbor boy who wanted to stay there. Her husband came in and got ahold of her, tried to shut her up, but she got worse. She told bald-faced lies, but I didn’t know humans could do that and, like an idiot, I didn’t even go to bed. I stretched out across the bed, in shock. I must have had to go somewhere and came back because it was about 11:00 o’clock at night. I had just come in when this happened. It was sleeting and snowing — a blizzard. There were no busses at that time of the night and it was a two-mile walk to the college. I wouldn’t have any place to go when I got there, except I knew one thing — after a harangue and harrassment like that, I knew I didn’t have a job. No way would a woman who had that much hatred towards me have me in her house, so I laid back across the bed and did finally go to sleep.

I got up before daylight. Didn’t have much trouble getting my clothes together because all I had was that bedroll and practically the clothes I had on my back, and a little suitcase. I walked out and walked the two miles to the college and went to my friend, Homer Wakefield. He was in a house with twenty-eight boys. The people who ran it were pretty good people. They had teenage kids in college. So, I went in there and begged for a job. By golly, they put me to work washing dishes. I washed dishes for the twenty-eight kids in that boarding house.

Well, the next day, a man came to the door and made a demand that Wendell Pemberton come out and go to the main office. So I went to the main office and the Dean of Men was a Mormon. I had never seen a Mormon before. I had heard about them but had never met a person who would admit they were Mormon. All I knew was that he was a Mormon and I didn’t understand how that could be as it was such a nice college. Anyway, he set me down across the table and he says, “What’s this I hear? A woman called in this morning and said you were working for them and you slipped out in the middle of the night and they never had a chance to check their silverware and stuff. She said they have no idea how much stuff was stolen.”

I about swallowed my Adam’s apple. I told him exactly what had happened, and you know, that man accepted everything I said, without question. He didn’t doubt me for a single second. He excused me. You know, I have never forgotten that! My first audience with a Mormon! Of course, he was a good man. That was my first respect and contrary to all I had heard about the Mormon people. He treated me like I was a real, honest-to-goodness human being, and I have never forgotten it.

I enjoyed the swimming down there at the swimming pool. [page 89] There was a swimming coach who took an interest in me and thought maybe he could make a diver out of me, I don’t know. Anyway, about the first thing I did was to make a high dive and come down real close to the board, like a professional is supposed to do, but I forgot to straighten my legs out, and I caught the calf of my leg on the tip of the board. It caused a charley-horse in the muscles of that leg and I couldn’t walk for a week. It was horribly painful — out of this world!

I got quite a kick out of wrestling with the kids that I used to run around with. I couldn’t throw them. I was a skinny beanpole. (5’11” and 130 lbs) But they couldn’t throw me either. I could always, somehow, wiggle away from them. At the end of the first quarter, I had a fabulous chemistry professor, and a world famous botany professor. I really enjoyed their classes, especially the chemistry. That guy made it so simple, like it was an everyday occurence. He’d say, for example: A guy goes to wash his hands in the hand bowl. His mother would scold him because she thought he didn’t have his hands clean, but the kid swore that it was the soap that made the ring around the washbowl.

The professor said, “You know, Johnnie was right, that time.” And he’d put down the equation and show how the curdling of the scum would stick to the basin. Everything that man taught, he would simplify, bringing it down to earth so we could understand it, and strangely, you could pretty well remember it! But, in order to handle those equations, he would write the full length of the blackboard. Now, I never had the brain to handle that. On my chemistry test, on the final quarter test, I got 25% or 27%, but man! did I have a lot of company!

Anyway, I got an ear infection from that swimming pool, an outer ear infection, in my right ear. It was really something! My head swelled up and ooh did it hurt! My right eye was bloodshot and the darned college nurse! The lining of my ear had a whole series of little boils-like. They had broken in there and there were pieces of skin in my ear canal. Well, this nurse had a pair of long tweezers. She went down in there, got ahold of the lining of my ear and was determined it had to come out! Hey. I was a pretty tough guy, been black and blue from football, bucked off broncs, dodged bulls, black and blue much of my life, but I wasn’t man enough to stand that pain! So, she says, “Well, I’ll have to send you downtown to a specialist.”

I went downtown to a specialist, an older man. He looked into that ear and exploded into a tirade of cussing! Who in the “‘$*%&(%$* has been in this ear?”
She had pulled a bunch of the lining of my ear and had [page 90] pulled it loose! Another lesson about those with their B.S. degrees!

So anyway, they gave me “gas”. I had never had that before. He lanced the ear and that did relieve it. It got better, but that was right in the semester finals and I didn’t get my math credit — the one thing, of all things, that you had to have if you do anything at all in electronics or mechanical engineering, which I was determined to do as, by that time, I was thoroughly fed up with looking at the rear end of the mule. I thought I would change my life.

I never went back to school. I don’t remember the details. Of course, I worked at horne. We always had the 150 head of steers to run plus the hogs and other livestock to care for. We had quite an acreage of corn and wheat and stuff. Life was pretty drab; pretty ugly by this time. Never ever had any money; couldn’t see how on earth we could pull out from under those mortgaged acres of land, and I couldn’t see a future at all.

It was in 1927, that the neighbor boy Dad had on the 80 at that time, Don Schinn, (man whose father filled Dad’s corn crib with ten cent corn), got ahold of me and said he was going to Nebraska to work in the wheat harvest. He told how much money to be made and boy, that sounded pretty good to me, so we had an old stripped down Model T, about a 1918, I think. It had sat alongside the road for a long time and someone had robbed a bunch of stuff off it. Anyway, we got the car and fixed it up. We got our bedrolls and some grub and set out to seek our fortunes. We must have gotten started in the afternoon. It was 100 miles to Council Bluffs. We got out west of Omaha somewhere and it got dark. Well, when you are that age and are going out west to seek your fortune, there is no way you stop to rest. Wouldn’t you know, the old Model T blew out its lights? There was no one on the road in those days. It was a dirt road, real light dirt, and hey, you could see those wheel tracks in the dark!

We were going along with a grove of trees on each side and a farm building once in awhile. As long as we could see those tracks, we knew there wasn’t anything coming. I don’t know why we didn’t realize another car might be doing exactly the same thing we were doing, but like I say, when you are young you have to hurry. Well, we thought we felt something bump under the wheels. We slowed down a little and something else bumped a wheel. Something else scraped the side of the car, and here was a hog as high as my eye. There was a herd of black hogs in the road. Then we really slowed down. But, remember! We kept moving.

We came up to open country and quite a bit of light came down on the road. Again we went over a hill and got into a [page 91] place where it was a little darker. We thought we had passed something white, real close to us, and I really slowed down. We went about 50 yards and something white came at us. I don’t know whether we had the windshield completely off or not, we may not even have had a windshield. If we had, we would have had to lie down. So, this white object almost hit me in the face. We were in a bunch of white-faced cattle that had bedded down in the middle of the road. That was it; we decided we had better park, so we eased through the cattle and got up on a little hill. There, was one of the biggest bulls I had ever seen. We eased by him too.

Soon, the moon came out. After a few miles we came to a farmstead with big barns but no house, so we”opened the gate and went into the barnyard (there was no stock). We rolled out our bedrolls, really stretched out, heaved big sighs, and readied ourselves for a long, night’s sleep. I hadn’t slept on the ground before, that I know of. When morning came, (we both had illuminated watches you could see in the dark) I looked at my watch, and we had been asleep exactly nine minutes! We turned over and got comfortable again, slept soundly, and when morning came, we looked at our watches, and we had been asleep fifteen minutes. The rest of the night went just like that — trying to get comfortable.

Come daylight, we went on to Carney, Nebraska, and a few miles south of Carney, the Southern Pacific makes a sweep from Omaha and then follows the Platte River out. My friend knew a man in Carney by the name of Mr. Lathrop. He had been in Greenfield, Iowa, and had moved to a farm in Nebraska. He was a [Klu Klux] Klansman. We stayed in his barnyard for awhile and helped to shock his grain. Then we went to work for Elmer Holstein. We hauled bundles out of the field and stacked them at the barnyard. We made great, round, high stacks which came up to a point on top. Then, they would put the threshing machines between a couple of stacks so they could pitch off the stack into the threshing machine from both sides. That is how they did the grain in those days. Or, they had to have a whole bunch of hayracks and haul bundles out of the field, up to the threshing machine and have a hayrack for bundles on each side and have two men pitching into the machine that way. It was about half and half. If the stacks were done right, they would turn water, and it didn’t matter how long they stayed there; they could still be threshed.

This man, where we boarded and slept, had a son about twenty years old — a normal looking boy who was with us on the wagons and out in the field. The boy had epileptic fits. I had never seen one, didn’t know anything about them. We were coming in from the field and were a couple hundred yards from the stack — my pal was driving the team and I was on the wagon [page 92] ahead, looking back at this panorama–and I heard a noise like a horse choking, just a terrible, strangling, choking sound, loud enough to be above the noise of the horses, wagon, and the whole sheebang. I saw the father on the stack wave his arms and start yelling. “Hang on to himl Hold on to him!” I looked back and saw my friend in the center of the wagon with his arm around the center brace, feet hanging. My pal reached down and got him by the nape of the neck and was holding him to keep him from falling under the horses. When we got to the stack, his father stretched the boy out, put something in his mouth, and put something under his head. That boy’s body vibrated convulsively. He’d bang himself hard enough on the ground that it would actually shake. He made horrible noises. And that was my first experience with epilepsy.

We worked there, shocking. and stacking grain, and stayed until it was threshed out. This man was a sharpshooter for the Winchester cartridge company. He went around to fairs and rodeos, shooting these little black, plastic balls, about the size of a golf ball. Held throw them into the air and then shoot them with a rifle. He had a score of like 97 out of 100. We were amazed that any human being could be that good a shot. It just didnlt make sense! But he’d say, “There’s nothing to it. You can do it. Anyone can do if he really wants to try.”

I says, “O.K. Show me.” I had hunted ever since I was eight years old when I sent away to Popular Mechanics magazine and got an 18″ bronze barreled single-shot rifle. You clean a bronze barrel with soap and water, if you can believe itl I made fabulous shots with that gun for many years. The boys would come out from town with the fancy equipment to hunt squirrels or rabbits, and I’d go out with them. Time and time again l’d have three or four or five squirrels or rabbits and, sometimes, they had nothing. So l’d give them part of what I had.

And so it was that we went to the harvest in the West, south of Triney, Nebraska. Elmer Holstein was a pretty good guy. He had sons and daughters and also had a boy working there who was cultivating corn about a mile or so from us. During a hail squall, his four-horse team was hit by lightening. He was sitting on the iron cultivator seat. The lightening went down through all that steel and killed him. I think it killed the horses too, but I can’t remember if it killed all of them. But it was a direct hit, and those horses just about exploded. I donlt think I went to the funeral. I suppose he was from somewhere else. It was quite a thing to work with someone and then find he had been killed like that.

We shocked grain in the potholes of that Nebraska country [page 93] in the most stifling heat of my lifetime. They called them potholes because the ground was swampy and damp so they could raise grain (becaUSe of the dampness) otherwise, Nebraska is mostly a sandpile. I could always keep going if I could get lots of water, but when I ran out of water, I was in big trouble.

When we left there, we went to Bellevue, Kansas, on the north side. We didn’t get a job there as we were a little too early, so we came back to the man we knew in Nebraska and stayed there and worked awhile. When the threshing was done, it was time to move on. He knew somebody from Iowa in the town of Orient, seven miles south of Greenfield. This man had gone to Minnesota years before and had gotten quite a spread going there — a wheat spread.

Those big tractor totally enthralled me! They had steel wheels, I think 36″ wide, and they were higher than my head. He ran the big threshing machine, threshed all fall. So we shocked grain and ran the binder. They had two binders tied together, and I ran them quite a bit of the time to get out of the shocking. Shocking is hard work — really hard work. The man discovered I had a little mechanical ability and they would tie two binders together with some kind of an off-set mechanism and they could cut twice as much as with one binder.

This man had a brother there who wasn’t married and he had a housekeeper. I was to go to his house to help him, so I went over and he wasn’t home. Here was a barnful of horses. I was there all day and I knew that towards evening I should water the horses. I led the first few out to the tank, watered them, and put them back in the barn. I went to the back stall where they had a great, big, black team. They had on a set of heavy hamed [sic] harness. I back the first one out and I had a hold on the bit in my right hand: I was backing him out to my right and was just ready to step between the horse and a big timber in the middle of the barn stall, and that horse jumped and lunged ahead. If I had been a foot ahead, it would have killed me instantly. My right hand got between this iron-hamed [sic] harness and that 8″ x 8″ timber and the horse rammed his body in there with all this weight and then slid off and peeled the skin on my right hand from my wrist clear down over the right half of my hand. peeled the skin completely off my knuckles to where I could see the white tendons in there. I thought my little finger had been cut off, but the tendons were still there. I had absolutely nothing to put on that hand.

I went into the house and all the housekeeper had was Cold Cream. So I plastered this hand with Cold Cream and she made a sling and wrapped it up. I didn’t sleep a wink that night. [page 94] Gee Whiz that thing hurtl And guess what, as a result of this, I got to ride the second binder for weeks because I could ride it and use my feet to trip the bundle carrier, and so forth, and you use your other hand to reach over to manipulate the other lever. It didn’t turn too bad after all. I didn’t have to shock that big, old, heavy grain. The Red River Valley grain was really high-yielding grain.

So I stayed there until the threshing was all done. The boy who run the threshing machine was, I think, an orphan that this good man had taken in as a little, dirty-nosed kid. He’d grown up then and was about twenty-eight years old, and the mechanic. He would take the crankshaft out of those engines in the winter and pour the babbitt and pour new bearings in them. Of course I was totally fascinated with all of this as I had never been around big machinery. The work a machine can do is astronomical compared to six or eight head of mules!

There was a little, old, dried-up man there who worked with the threshing crew, and he was an I.W.W. (International Workers of the world), a wobbley, some kind of a Marxist ideology in the early days that the I.W.W. swept across the country. What did they do — the good union people? They burned the farmers’ wheat fields! I supposed they wanted a raise or something, but anyway, that was in 1917 when the Revolution was going on in Russia and they were trying to organize the labor people of the world into the I.W.W.. This little, old, man would tell of burning the fields, if you can believe it. Another lesson–seeing what people will do when they get wound up over some cause, right or wrong.

The owner’s name was Buck Imman and he was a “buck” — a great, big, tough guy. He and his wife were very devout Catholics. His mechanic was an alcoholic, and the boy he ran with was alcoholic. None of my people ever drank liquor and because I was an athlete and had this wonderful coach, I never had the slightest interest in touching it. One day these guys got me in the car with them, going to a rodeo or somewhere.
We went miles and miles across country, and these men had a bottle. They passed that bottle back and forth, and every time it went in front of me he’d say, “Oh, pardon mel He doesn’t drink,” and then they’d pass it way out around me. There I was with a pocketful of Hershey bars. This went on all day on that long trip. By afternoon, I was so disgusted that I grabbed the bottle, tipped it up, hogged it all down, and heaved it out. I went on eating my Hershey bar just as if nothing had happened. Can you believe I’d have died in my tracks before I would have allowed that stuff to have any effect on me? I got hot. I got hotter, and I just about burned up. I had to go to the bathroom about every ten

[page 95] minutes, but still, I didn’t stagger or allow that stuff to have any effect on me, whatsoever. Can you think of anything worse than for a young person to get that idea in his head? Well, that’s what happened.

These crazy guys — I stayed and did the plowing that fall. This man had beautiful horses and would you believe he insisted I take these great, big lugs — dancing, prancing, four head of horses, and put on those single-bottom plows. I guess it was three horses on the single-bottom and four on the two-bottom. He insisted that I ploW his garden. Well, Jiminy Christmas! If I hadn’t had years of experience behind me I’d have gone crazy, but I took those crazy horses and I plowed the garden! And, I did a pretty good job!

By that time the threshing was all over so I went on this big plow outfit. I and this mechanic too the Altmatater (SPELL) with eight or ten bottoms. There was a platform behind the platform that you stood on and these big ten-foot levers up as high as you could reach. When you came to the end of the field, they would plow a furrow across the end of the field, and as your wheels hit that furrow, you’d reach up and grab these levers and bring them down to lift each set of plows out. For a ten-bottom plow there were five levers and you had to work really fast to jerk those five plows out of the ground. You went out, turned around, and when you came back in, you had to quickly fly that lever up in the air to let the ploW down and grab another before you went past the furrow. That was my job. I “sat plows” until it froze up and you couldn’t plow anymore.

I got a real thrill out of that Altmatater. When you got onto boggy ground, those great, wide wheels, when they would start to spin out, there was a big lever that came right up from the floor. It had only two positions — back for reverse, and the other was to go ahead. When that thing would spin out and start to slip, he could reverse the lever, back and forth, and get that big tractor rocking and just go right through the darnedest mud holes and gumbo of the Red River Valley. I just couldn’t believe how he could manipulate that tractor and never get it stuck. To me, that was a great thrill.

The tractor had what they called a “guider” on the front. There was an iron pole, about 6″, stuck way out in front with this lopsided wheel on it that ran in one direction. The wheel would run against the furrow and guide the tractor. You didn’t have to touch that tractor. We plowed two-mile furrows, if you can believe that. Only once in a great while, if the wheel would hit a rock and bounce out of the furrow, would you ever have to touch it.

One day when he got off to go to the bathroom and I was behind the haystack, I took the tractor, turned it around, [page 96] tripped the lever, and when that wheel came into the furrow and dropped in, then I ran back on the platform and let the plows down, got back up in the seat and watched it go across the field, untouched. At the other end, you trip the lever, spin the wheel around and around, make a big turn, fly back to the platform and take the plow.

About Jackson Pemberton

I started the Pemberton Family World Wide in 2010 as a place to publish findings of the Pemberton One-Name Study based in London.
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