Sunday, February 27, 2011

My Life Mostly in Cameron County-Frances Schwab Murray, 1966-Part 2


As a fair warning, this is the second of seven parts.  I want to to keep the length of each post manageable for readers.


A year later Alice was born.  Dr. Smith of Emporium was Mom’s doctor, her first doctor at childbirth.  We lived in that house until Alice was about 2-1/2 years old, when Dad and Uncle Alfred built our house next door to the big boarding house that Grandpa Stewart ran, just above the coke ovens.  We lived there until 1906 when we moved to Detroit, Michigan.  We went by train to Buffalo, caught a boat and sailed the lake to Detroit.  It was my first sight of a big boat and water everywhere.  I was a nosy kid and had to explore the workings of the boat.  Mother missed me and with the sailors’ help, where did they find me, but down in the engine room watching those big wheels turn.  I’d never saw an indoors toilet before either until on that boat.  Every time you sat down water rushed up so you can imagine how many times Lake Erie rushed up and washed me. 

This being the day after Halloween 1966, it brings back memories of Oct. 31, 1906 in Michigan.  A gang of us kids went out--at that time it was all tricks, no treats--upset an outhouse.  The poor Italian fellow when it went over—his yells.  We lit out as fast as we could run and crawled under someone’s porch as the cops were hot on our trail.  That was down near the River Rouch [ed. note-Rouge] where the Ford Motor plant is now built. 

At that time, 1906, that big field was our playground.  We lived on Peterson Street.  My grandparents lived on Homels Street-the alley separated the two houses.  One day a bunch of us kids set out to see the Wildwood Cemetery [ed. note-Woodmere Cemetery] where Uncle George’s son Howard was buried.  A couple of the kids who lived on Peterson Street, were along.  There I saw my first vault and crematory.  Boy, what a scare.  Us kids watched as they put a body in a big pan and pushed it into the furnace.  As the heat increased, the body began to sit up.  When it moved, so did us kids and I know I never went back there again. 

We spent a lot of our time watching the soldiers as they drilled and paraded at Ft. Dearborn.  My dad worked in the tunnel that was being put under the Detroit River.  Uncle Howard Burlingame was the Super on that job.  He was Aunt Alice Clark’s first husband.  When the job was done, Dad went back to Pennsylvania.  He was working in Idamar, PA digging coal so in Jan 1907, Mother and us 5 kids, with Uncle Ed, left for PA too.  We went by train through that tunnel that Dad helped to build.  We stayed a short time with Aunt Jennie and Uncle Fred until our furniture came. 

We moved into one of the houses in the Block Row.  There, in May 1907, my youngest brother was born.  Dr. Walter Bush was Mom’s doctor and my brother was the first baby he brought after coming to Cameron County.  A few days after the baby was born, all 5 of us kids came down with whooping cough.  The hired help (our Aunt Esther) left, and when the baby was 10 days old, he got the whooping cough.  I slept on a cot in Mom’s room and I had to jump up and stick my finger down his throat to get the phlegm up.  Boy, what a job for a 10 year old kid.  Then a few days later we 5 kids came down with the mumps, so Dad had to come home as I didn’t dare go near the baby.  Dad was like a bull in a china shop.  He and I cooked some rice for our supper.  I don’t remember how much we used, but as it cooked, we bailed it out of the kettle with the dipper.  When it was done, we had a dishpan full.  Dad carried most of it out to the pig. 

Those were the days—no running water, outhouses, oil lamps, coal or wood stoves to heat those old houses.  The snow blew in on the floor through the doors and windows.  Bread froze, so did the water pail. 

Dan O’Brian, big lumberjack, he as the tallest and biggest man I had ever seen, in 1907.  He used to come to Schwab Bros. store, in Cameron, from his shanty house way up in the hills, to buy his groceries.  We kids were scared to death of him, as tales of his fighting powers were known by all the folks in Cameron.  He always wore a sleeveless jacket made from a cowhide, fur side out.  Summer or winter.  And a coonskin cap, but a tailless one.

That spring Dad and us kids were planting potatoes.  We’d had an early thaw, lots of snow and the early rains had the nearby creek running bank-to-bank with cold, muddy water.  The neighborhood kids, Yuharts, were throwing sticks in the stream.  Anne was about four years old.  She slipped into the stream and was washed down by us.  Dad and I together got her out.  Dad rolled her over a barrel.  Boy, did the water ever come out of her.  No first aid as we know it now.  When Charles was about 2 years old, we moved across the river at the mouth of Mooley Hollow.  That’s the house where Mary was born in 1910 and Evelyn in 1912.  The house was across the road from where Jack Stuart lives now.

One spring day shortly after Mary was born, Dad and several others and I went berrying in Russel Hollow for raspberries.  I stepped over an old log and a rattler hit.  He missed my leg, but its teeth got caught in my woolen skirt.  Boy did I ever move and yelled “I’m bit”.  Dad yelled stand still, but I took off for home and I could run.  The road out of the Hollow was fenced off and had a fence across the road, leading to the main road into Hunts Run.  When I got to that fence, I didn’t wait to open it up, but went over the top.  Somewhere in that leap I lost the snake.  Boy was Dad mad when he caught up with me, but I had only the yellowish-green marks on my skirt to show where it had hit.  My berry-picking was over for that day.  The summer before Evelyn was born I almost got it again while picking berries in Mooley Hollow.  I had come home for a couple of days.  I was working in Driftwood at Riley’s Hotel.  I had worn Dad’s Wisconsin boots.  They were high top boots (leather) and came up to my knees.  That’s what saved my leg as I stepped over a log in a dried up creek bed.  I was carrying a revolver, so I shot it.   

Up to this time, in the same hollow, there was some of the remains of a lumber camp.  Us kids used to play around them.  One day the three Lupole kids, my brother Nelson, and myself went up the hollow to pick gooseberries and my dog Shep followed.  As usual he went off after a squirrel.  Pretty soon we started for home, but he didn’t come to our call until we were pretty well in sight of home.  He came tearing down the road followed by an old mother bear.  He’d been chasing her cubs.  Boy, Shep was scared.  He’d run between my legs and down I’d go.  That old bear followed us clear to Walker’s house.  Good thing their place was fenced in.  We sure did a quick crawl under that fence and the old bear turned back.  I was about 13 at that time.

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