Thursday, March 3, 2011

My Life Mostly in Cameron County, Part 5

Parts              One       Two      Three      Four

Part Five:

After our house burned, we moved into the first house above the Block Row.  We didn’t live there very long, then moved into the McFadden place, owned at that time by Mrs. Charlie Clinton.  I went to work at the City Hotel as head dining room girl in 1913 and one year after I was there, Dad and the two boys were struck with lightening.  That’s the day I met Riley Murray.  Mr. Dolan had Riley drive us, Mr. and Mrs. Dolan and myself, to Cameron.  Mr. Dolan had just bought a new Ford and Riley took care of it and was teaching Mr. Dolan to drive.  What a scene—Dad unconscious, Nelson so badly burned he couldn’t be moved, Dr. Johnston and Dr. Falk getting Dad ready for the hospital and Charles paralyzed, couldn’t stand or walk, but otherwise okay.  Dad had such a wonderful garden; I stayed home to take care of it for a while and to help take care of Nelson, as we had to wrap him in sheets wrung out of lime water and linseed oil every half hour.  I had to get on the bed and straddle him, put my arm under his knees while he put his arm around my neck.  That’s the only way we could lift him, he was burned so bad. 

Nelson was completely undressed, his brown jacket was tacked, as though by an ax, about 12 feet up in the tree nearby.  His underwear looked as though someone had shot BBs through the entire suit.  Mrs. Page took off her apron and wrapped him up to carry him to the house.  Mr. Jenks carried Dad, who was more cut than burned.  He had a pocketknife in his right hand pocket, it opened up and really cut him bad.  Mrs. Jenks carried Charles up to Mother.  Dad was taken to Ridgway Hospital.  Uncle John got the 4:15 Flyer to stop right by the house to put Dad on.  He was in the hospital for 6 weeks and Nelson got out of bed the day Dad got home.  That was before the road as you know it was built.  When we lived there, the road went back of Sadie Bunces house at the foot of the hill to Sterling Run.

A few weeks after this happened, I had to go up Russel Hollow for the cows.  I got old John out, put a blanket on his back—we had no saddle.  Everything went okay until a clap of thunder.  Poor old John was so stiff he crow-hopped and over the gate he went.  When we landed on the other side, I thought I was cut in two.  I slid off and away he went for the barn.  I had to get the cow from then on as we knew he was afraid of thunder and lightening.  He was hitched to the plow with his mate, Tom, who was killed when Dad and the boys were struck.  The only mark on old Tom was all the hair was burned off the inside of his left ear.  But the lightening made a hole in the ground big enough, that all the neighbor men had to do was roll Tom into it and cover him up.  John was on the plowed furrow, but Tom was on firm ground.

The Anderson Brothers built the new road and changed the course of the river, too.  A few years later the wooden railroad bridge was rebuilt or replaced by the iron one that stands there today.  Also torn down was the big wooden bridge which spanned the river where the old road was.  I think the stone pillars still stand there today.  I remember the Anderson Brothers well as I worked for one of the nephews.  They lived in the Isaac Wykoff home.  The house at that time was owned by Nancy Moore.  We all called her Aunt Nancy.  Her granddaughter, Cora Emig, was a telephone operator at the railroad tower.  That was the same year Tommy Page died of diphtheria.  I went down to the Pages through knee deep snow, didn’t notice the quarantine sign on the front door, as I always went to the back door.  As I entered Roy said, “Oh, Frances, you can’t come in.  We have Tommy’s bed down in the dining room.  He’s got diphtheria.  Tommy heard me talking and said, “I want to see Frances.”  So I went in and he said, “Frances, will you milk the cows?  We haven’t had any milk as Mom won’t leave me and I want some milk.”  So away I went, armed with two big pails.  Roy couldn’t milk, but he had fed and watered both cows.  They hadn’t been milked for 36 hours so their bags were really caked and sore.  What a time I had.  The big white cow was a devil at any time; she kicked me over half a dozen times before I got her milked.  The younger cow went into the manger a couple of times.  I lost a lot of milk, but got one full pail and part of another one. 

The Page home as it now stands was built on the foundation of the old Rockwell home.  Mrs. Rockwell was Roy Page’s grandmother.  His mother was her only daughter.  Mrs. Rockwell was known as a famous herb doctor and midwife.  She was always busy during the early days of lumbering in and near Cameron.  I used to stay nights with her when I was about 10 or 12 as Roy and his family lived in Keating.  He was head electrician on the Pennsylvania Rail Road from Renova to Emporium.  Mrs. Rockwell was quite old when I stayed with her.  She died in 1912 from cancer.  When I took the milk to the house, I found out they were running short of food, so I went to Uncle John’s store, told them about the Pages.  Jake Lester took his big hand sled and they loaded up all kinds of food and took it down.  As long as the Pages were tagged up until Tommy died, which was in about 8 or 10 days, every woman in Cameron prepared food and it was taken to the Pages.  I went every day and milked those two cows until Mrs. Page was ready to take over.  Tommy was buried in their front yard between the graves of his grandmother and his great-grandmother.  No one else ever got the diphtheria, but a little over a year later their young girl. Lethia, died.  She mourned over the death of Tommy.  She was 4 years old and would stand by their front window and sing “Tell Tommy I’ll Soon Be There”.  Dr. Bush said she just mourned herself to death.  I worked at the Pages before she was born and afterwards or whenever Mary needed help.

When we lived at the mouth of Mooley Hollow, Jack Clark and Dad used to trap bears.  In the flats between Russell Hollow and Whitehead, they made the bear traps out of saplings like a log cabin about 8 feet square.  Grace Clark and I used to go to the trap line every day to see if we had caught anything, as Dad and Mr. Clark worked all day in the mines. but there was a such heavy snowstorm, the snow was so deep we missed one morning in 1910.  When we got there on the second day, boy was that bear mad, hungry and thirsty.  He had the place almost tore apart and we sure hit for home.  Dad got Uncle John’s horse, Prince, and the wagon and we went to get old bruin.  Dad shot him and what a job to get him in the wagon.  The smell of that bear—Prince went wild.  We had an awful time getting it in the wagon.  Jack and Dad could hardly lift it and I had to fight ole Prince.  They sold the bear as was to some man who wanted the hide for a rug.  None of the Clarks or us would eat bear meat.  They also hunted jackrabbits at the old Huff farm at the head of Hunts Run.  They sure was big and such long ears.

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