From Ohio to Montana
In Defiance, Ohio, we lived with Grandmother's
sister, Orpha Bower. On the next street and across the alley
from Aunt Orpha's, her daughter, Edith Bower Stoner lived
with her husband and three children, Letha, Lorin and Vernon,
named for my brother. (Edith was Dad's second wife after
Mother's death.) Several things I remember about living there.
Once I got into Dad's dresser drawer and Aunt Orpha's where
they each kept a revolver. I was found sitting on the stairs
playing with them. I have no idea if they were loaded or
not. Letha was older than I but always included me in their
games of Hide-and Seek. One evening, looking up into the
eaves I saw a huge spider which frightened me. They still
do, all except Daddy Long Legs. Poor Aunt Orpha! If there
was a cobweb anywhere I demanded that she get rid of it.
One day a German family invited all the neighborhood children
to a birthday party. I was having a wonderful time until
Dad came to see how things were going and found beer was
being served. I got taken home immediately. Since Mother's
asthma didn't improve in Ohio we left for Montana where my
great-aunt Eliza lived. I have told in another place episodes
from my life in her log cabin up the Rattlesnake.
In 1910 after we moved to Cherry Street, one of the worst
forest fires Montana had ever experienced started west of
Missoula near the towns of Superior and Caldwell, Idaho.
Both towns and others were situated in a narrow valley without
much room for anything but a road, railroad tracks, a few
shacks and mines in the hills. The people were caught with
no way to escape and the railroad engineers refused to run
trains into the inferno. The fire was so bad that in Missoula,
miles and miles away, the streetlights had to be turned on
at three in the afternoon because of the ashes that were
falling and the smoke. Finally Mickey McCann, a railroad
engineer who lived across the street from us, volunteered
to take a train to rescue the people. I remember hearing
him tell of soaking a blanket and wrapping it around him
and just opening the throttle (if that is what you do on
a train engine) and letting the train go. Mother and Dad
went to the Missoula N.P. depot to see the train and people.
Most people escaped with only their nightclothes. They lost
everything. Incidentally, Wilbur would never stop at the
roadside marker telling about this fire and Mickey McCann.
And I'll have to confess, I didn't either when Myrtle and
I took our trip to Missoula.
Editor's note: The stay in Ohio made a huge impression on
Grandmother, and from the way she spoke I imagined they had
stayed there for at least a year, but it was
only a month
In November, 1909 Harry, Viola, Jennie and Hazel had a formal
portrait taken in Mt. Carmel, Connecticut. Then there are
pictures of Hazel "Up the Rattlesnake", Montana in the snow
winter. By June 1910 they had left Aunt Eliza's cabin and
were living on Cherry Street where Vern was born.
08/20/2000 JA typed Handwritten on green steno book, top
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