Tuesday, March 1, 2011

My Life Mostly in Cameron County, Part 4

Part    One   Two   Three

Part Four: 

Several miles from Cameron was at one time a little village by itself, the Old Pump Station at Cameron, before my time, but us kids often went up there in later years and went through some of the homes that was still standing when I was about 14.

Town of Calder, the brick works was there and it was a busy little place.  Some beautiful brick homes were built, especially the Super’s house.  Arlene Mitchel and her brother went to Cameron School.  Her father, Walter Mitchel, was Super.  While someone was sick or away, a short time only, when I was about 14, I washed dishes at the McCracken’s boarding house there. 

The road to my grandparent’s farm went past the brick works so we got a thrill watching the men work at the kilns.  We didn’t get to the farm often in winter, but we sure had to walk there a lot in the summer to help.  When we lived in the Block Row, a bunch of us kids were going hunting for nuts.  We hadn’t got out of sight of the houses when a bobcat (we always called them wild cats) was treed by the noise of us kids.  We sent a couple of the younger kids back to get Charles Stuart while we kept the bobcat in the tree. It was a big fellow and Charlie soon had it with his trusty gun.  All us kids were armed with clubs and every time it moved, we put the rocks after it.  So it stayed put in the tree. 

The big event for the more daring of us kids was to push the hand car owned by the brick works about a 1.2 mile up the track, get on and let it pick up speed as it came down the hollow and ride down past town, past the Valley Hotel and store.  Sometimes it jumped the track and someone got hurt, not serious, but we could’ve been killed.  My arthritis, the doctor claims, is from an injury.  I had so many, no telling which one is to blame.  But the winter Charles was born, Uncle Fred couldn’t bring our coal to the house.  He had to dump it by the creek, so I had to carry it, by the pail, to the house.  I was about 10 years old, crossing the bridge, the ties were about 2-1/2 feet apart, covered with about six inches of ice.  I slipped, went through, pails, coal and all onto the ice about ten feet below.  My left knee was cut badly.  I had to crawl through snow about a block.  That’s the leg that hurts so much now.

Several years before we went to Michigan, Dad and Mr. Clark was timbering the Brady Drift mine on Sunday.  I took Dad’s dinner pail up to him.  I went in that mine to the very end—cool, dark and damp—water dripped down from the roof.  Jack had stepped on a nail so Dad put me on the mule and sent me to get first aid material, which was turpentine and bandages.  But little ole Jack (mule’s name) and I made out okay, but I could have made better time going the short cut path down the mountain. 

How we Canoe Run kids fought the Cameron kids at school.  Guess that’s when I learned to throw rocks so good.  The girls who couldn’t throw had to carry the coats and pails while the boys and girls fought the Cameron gang.  We were called the “Coal Eaters” and we called them “Cameron Snakes”.  Of course we fought among ourselves, our lard pail dinner buckets made good weapons.  I used one up fine on Frank Walsh and another time on Mary Greenalch (a cousin).  She was as bad as I was to fight, but she always pulled my long curly hair, which gave me a good chance to use my fists on her (my Dad made me a boy early).

She was the cause of my having to stand in the corner the only time in my school life.  Before we went to Michigan, I was about eight years old, we came in at recess time.  She pulled my head back by the curls.  I jumped up and hit her over the head with my book (Geography).  It sure went bang.  Uncle John was the teacher, boy was he strict.  He called us both up to his desk.  She cried, but I was mad.  So he stood her on one side of the chimney, me on the other.  I was partly hid by a big map.  I wrote and erased as I wrote all kinds of things.  He couldn’t catch me, so he let me go to my seat after about ½ hour, but she had to stay one hour.  He gave me quite a talking to late and said, “Weren’t you afraid I’d whip you?”  I said, “No, because if you did, my dad would lick you.  I wasn’t the one who started it.”  His terms as a school teacher was filled with his brutal whippings.  Everyone was scared to death of him, even boys bigger than him.

When Evelyn was 4 months old, our house caught fire January 1913.  Dad had gone to work.  Mother was dressing the kids before the big stove in the dining room when she heard a noise, thought the baby had fallen out of bed, said go see.  When I opened the stair door, the smoke billowed down into the room.  I finally made it upstairs and got the baby out of the burning bed.  Screams from the kids brought the neighbors through deep snow and cold.  They carried the half-dressed kids to the neighbors while Mom and I tried to get some of our things to safety.  Everybody in town came to help.  We got out most everything in the downstairs, but nothing from upstairs.  We had only the clothes on our backs.  I tried going back upstairs, but went through the extra pipe hole in the floor.  Mom got up on a chair and pushed my leg back up, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this, as the flames were really hot.  Mrs. Kate Clark, bless her soul, had to revive Evelyn who was overcome by smoke.  That was a day I shall always remember.  That same Mrs. Clark had saved my life a few years earlier.  I had jumped over a fence, bare-footed into a pile of broken glass, trying to head off our runaway cow.  I was so weak from loss of blood, I couldn’t sit up when she came to our house, with a Bible.  She used only that to read a verse from as she ran her hand over my feet.  The bleeding stopped at once.  I could never remember what she read, but still to this day in 1966, I have the scars on my feet.

From blogger:
When I was about 5 or 6, I came across my brother, who was 6 or 7, brawling with another kid.  Not understanding the gender norms of the times (late 1950s), I ran up, swung my metal lunch box and hit the kid in the head. (He wasn’t hurt badly.)

So, some type of genetic memory involved, or what?


  1. The Bible verse is Ezekiel 16:6 =)

  2. Hi. I actually feel pretty certain that it is Ezekiel. My name is Leah Miller and I am a relative of yours. My brother and I were just playing around on google tonight when we asked my mom (June Miller, formally June Murray) for her family names. We stumbled upon your blog.

    Your grandmother is my my mom's grandmother as well. She is the daughter of Leah (Zerbe) and Erwin Murray. She grew up in Emporium and said with us tonight as I read through your blog. As soon as she saw the picture of Frances in the pendant she knew it was the right history.

    She was so happy to see all of the work you had done. While I sat reading the stories my mom finished every single one. She remembered listening to her grandma talk about them. The reason why I say the verse is from Ezekiel is because when I read that story about Frances foot my mom said "Yup, I remember this and the verse and my grandma said the verse read like this..." So, I googled exactly what she said and it turned out to be Ezekiel 16:6.

    I wanted to thank you for typing this all up. I have always wanted to learn more about my family history and I never thought I would stumble across this! Thank you so much and I really look forward to reading more! Keep it coming!

    P.S.-Did you know Schwab (I believe it was Francis..I'll have to check with my mom) had a dynamite/TNT business? The business did something with the Panama Canal I believe and he provided the funds to build Schwab Auditorium at Penn State.

  3. When I saw your name, I thought immediately of Aunt Leah and it made me think the only way anyone would know is if they heard her tell the story directly. I never thought I'd encounter not-so-distant relatives here!

    Say hi to your mom for me. I remember her well. Tell her to email me if she'd like. I'm in touch with my Byron Murray cousins and we were sad to have lost touch with her.

    Yes, I knew about the dynamite business. John Schwab was the president. I have a post coming up about the explosion in 1957 that shut it down. Didn't know about Schwab Auditorium. That's going to make some of my PSU family members excited.

  4. just googled Schwab Auditorium--not our Schwab, no relation at all. oh, well.

  5. really? My mom always said it was the same Schwab...maybe she knows something more than I. Not sure. I look forward to hearing more. This was really exciting for me! Could you email me your address so I can sent it to my mom? Mine is lmiller178@gmail.com. Thanks so much!