This is the sixth and final post of this series (not seven, as I originally wrote). I’ll be posting more Cameron County, Pennsylvania history from my grandparents over the coming weeks, but it will have fewer personal stories.
This final section ends, not in 1966 when my grandmother started writing, but in 1973, just three years before she died. Maybe you’re researching Cameron County families, or maybe you just joined me for the ride, either way, I hope you enjoyed “My Life Mostly in Cameron County”. But, during this last leg of the trip, when my grandmother writes, they “had lots of clean fun and didn’t get into any trouble doing our thing”, don’t you have to have one final laugh?
I remember the Sunday school picnics which was held in the grove down by the creek. The property belonged to Mrs. Rockwell and later to her grandson, Roy Page, but all the town took part. No picnic I’ve ever been to since matched the cooking of Mrs. Jenks, Kate Clark, Dora Lester, my mother, Aunt Jennie Schwab, and the Fauvers. The homemade ice cream, fried chicken, pies and cakes galore. Nobody had a can of beer or bottle either. Years and years later I used to take my Sunday school class to that same picnic grounds and they learned to swim in my old swimming hole.
Guess that’s almost all I can remember to write about.
Well, when I was about 4, we lived in the house where Margaret and her daughter Jean was born. I was an unruly brat--get tantrums, run out and throw myself in the road (no cars then), yell and cry like a banshee. Mom of course would have to come and get me. One day Haze Dunlevy said, “Mrs. Schwab, do you mind if I break her of that habit?” He worked in the store on the corner. Mom said, “ Go ahead.” He sure did. First time I pulled another tantrum, he got a pail of cold water and I got it full force. I don’t remember it, but Mom said I never tried that trick again.
When I see all the things kids have today, I wonder how we got so much pleasure out of what we did, but we enjoyed our days to the fullest, had lots of clean fun and didn’t get into any trouble doing our thing. Summertime swimming in the creeks—no pools. Picnics and our simple games. Winter was sled-riding time, solo or on bobsleds, and ice skating. And I want to say this, the creeks had much more water in them then than they do now. My dad used to help cut ice on the main stream to fill the ice houses for the hotels, store, or anyone who had an ice house—no refrigerators or ice boxes then. They’d drive the horses and sleds right out on the ice which would be 24 to 30 or more inches thick. No washing machines. No electric irons. We carried water from springs or wells, used oil lamps. They had to be filled every day and the globes washed also. I was almost 16 when I went to Jamestown, NY, stayed at my grandmother’s. I worked in the Falconer Woolen Mills for six months and came back home and went to Emporium. Worked at the St. Charles Hotel for about three months, then back home, only to go back and work for the Dolan’s at City Hotel. Stayed there until 1915.
I had seen Riley Murray as he worked on Mr. Dolan’s automobile, but not until the day my dad and two brothers were struck with lightening did I ever talk to him. After Dad got out of the hospital, we began to go steadily. I had been going with Al Zwald, but he was an electrician on the Pennsylvania Railroad transferred to Keating and we just drifted apart. I quit my job and came home a month before Eloise was born.
Then August 18, 1915 Riley and I was married. We didn’t have any honeymoon (from Emporium to Cameron). I stayed home from August until October. We boarded with Frank Gerbers in the house Preach lives now until January. Went to light housekeeping at John Fenton’s, East Allegany Avenue January till June 21st. We moved into the apartment over Aunt Sadie Morton’s store June 21, Riley’s 21st birthday. It is now the house next to Felix Sinderveski’s store. East Allegany--lived there until 1917. We moved to 255 East 6th Street when Bus [ed. note: Riley Murray, Jr] was one year old. He was born in Port Allegany Hospital. Life seems to have moved along swiftly. I was busy raising my three boys. I don’t seem to remember any outstanding things except the boys as they came along. Byron on August 18, 1918, on our third anniversary. He was such a big, fat baby, then along came Erwin, July 15, 1920 and from then on my health seemed to go downhill. I was taken to the hospital, operated on August 18, 1920 and for weeks didn’t know anyone. Had another operation November 20, 1920 and that was a dilly, too. Was in the hospital until December 24 and had to stay in bed after I got home. Couldn’t even lift the baby, Erwin, too, was big and fat.
When Tiltons lived in the house where Mom and Dad died, and Bernie Tilton was about four years old, he choked on a round sour-ball candy. Jennie screamed and I was at Shuyter’s sitting on their porch. I ran up and for a few minutes I never worked so hard or fast. He was about gone. I did everything I knew what to do, so one last resort, I sat him up on the table, hit him between the shoulders hard as I could and up came the ball. Doctor got there shortly after and said that’s what saved Bernie as he’d have been dead by the time Dr. Bush got there. I don’t remember how sore Bernie’s back was, but I know my hand was swollen and sore for days.
About five years later, Kenneth Chandler broke his leg. I helped Dr. Bush set it before he sent Kenneth to Williamsport Hospital. Compound fracture, it was bad. When Francis Burfield fell off the fire escape at the schoolhouse a year or so after that, I helped Dr. Johnston get him ready for the hospital. Francis broke his arm.
Don’t remember dates, but I was nurse for Dr. Bush when Mrs. Charlie Viner’s boy was born. Bush had two babies coming at the same time and they both had the same nurse, so Bush got me to be at Viner’s while he ran between both houses. Good thing they weren’t too far apart. Then I was nurse for JoAnn’s birth, followed by Gary, Donna, Jean Schreffler (Dorothy Lundquist’s girl). I also nursed Martha through pneumonia. 1928 I stayed five days and nights with Grandma Murray, washed and laid her out when she died. I went to Sylvania to work that fall. Didn’t only work one year, my health went on the bum, so I was home to grunt and groan. I stayed and worked with Riley’s Aunt Sadie until she died 48 hours later back in 1931.
As the boys grew, our house seemed always to be filled with extra boys. When the boys were in their younger years, Riley worked on the railroad days, ran the picture show nights, so I was busy handling the task of raising our three boys. We went on long hikes together, sometimes just the boys and I, but Riley always went when he wasn’t at work. But railroading was seven days a week at first.
Guess I’d better end this babble. I’m now 76 years old going fast into the 77 years. We will celebrate our 58th wedding anniversary August 18, 1973. Our life was filled to the brim, had some hard knocks, but came through okay. I loved life and enjoyed every minute of it. I have been very fortunate. Been blessed with a very thoughtful husband. I’ve never regretted my marriage. Riley has always been my main standby. He was always by my side when he was needed. We have three wonderful boys--they’ve been a credit to us and our town, always been very proud of them, three daughters-in-law that have been very good to us—our own daughters (if we had had one) couldn’t have been any better. We now have 10 grandchildren and four great grands. And I know their parents are as proud of them as we are of them and as we have been of our sons. We are no longer as active as of old. I don’t mind growing old and gray, but I do hate to be crippled and useless. There’s so little I can do to be useful, but I do what I am able to do and find there are others worse off than I. So I accept what I can’t change and sit and enjoy the young folks, tend to my knitting and sewing. Just taking life easy.
Just me. F.E.M.