Front Porch
Front Porch
On The Front Porch
Welcome to Sittin' On The Front Porch..
Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often
"Come on in, grab a cup of coffee(the pot is always on),
a cup of tea or your
favorite beverage and
visit with us by the cozy fireplace. When the weather is warm, sit in one of the big rockers, or on the swing out on the porch.
Stop by often and sit a spell with us, you'll always be welcome!
Some days are diamonds, some days full of spurs, but at end of day sittin' on a country porch puts it all in perspective....
The Old West Is A Time and Place of the Heart----
Just Living by the Code of the West"

...If they ever saw a sunrise on a mountain morning
Or watched those cotton candy clouds go by
Then they'd know why I live beneath these western skies

I got peace of mind and elbow room
I love to smell the sage in bloom
Or catch a rainbow on my fishin' line
We've got county fairs and rodeos
There ain't a better place for my kids to grow
Just turn 'em loose in the western summer time 
... Chris LeDoux,
Western Skies

"Hope you will enjoy the stories, the memories, random musings... 
As we make memories just a sittin' on the country porch
Cherished memories are unforgotten treasures
That are the roses that grow in our heart.. to be with you always..

Glad ya'll stopped by....
Wishing happy trails to you until we meet again.."
Diamonds N' Spurs ©SDB2003-2015 All Rights Reserved
 "The pace of life slows down at end of day and life becomes much simpler when we sit a spell on the front porch and soak in the beauty of the land that surrounds us. It is in those moments we quietly reflect and recall the many small blessings that were bestowed upon us throughout the day......"~Diamonds N'Spurs ©SDB2003-2014


CV Front Porch View Double Arch Bridge
CV Front Porch View Double Arch Bridge
Front Porch Views




The ''Early Christmas'
Christmas Comes Early--we must have been really good this year!
~©SBBDS2015 All Rights Reserved
"When I was around 5 years old, Dad and Mom invested in and began raising cattle.They had begun renovating a house on a ranch just south of CV. Plans were to be able to move before school started in the fall. Due to the cattle market completely bottoming out in late spring, that venture and dream of moving back to Kansas did not become a reality, much to the entire family's disappointment. It was also a year, that was tough due to the financial loss. It was a hard time for not only our family but many in the cattle business.

As small children we weren't really aware of how hard and stressful it was for our parents. Mom and Dad prepared us to the fact of how slim the budget was a few weeks before Christmas and that gifts were going to be scarce if almost non-existent. Christmas was always a special time, with all the holiday lights and festivities and we still took our annual drive to look at all the houses decorated around town and went to the annual Christmas parade. We also were well aware of the real reason for the season and participated in church plays depicting the story of the birth of Jesus. So Santa was secondary in many ways and for many reasons for us. Much of our life was still going on as normal that we were still excited and don't think we really grasped how lean it was going to be.

Mom helped us make our lists and letters to Santa, but didn't really ask for much as we knew that it was going to be impossible to get that favorite doll or toy we so desired. The company Dad worked for always had a Christmas party for it's employees and their children. Santa made a big show at those events and we each got a toy along with the annual stocking filled with fruit and candy and the usual stocking stuffers. As Christmas approached, we just knew Santa would be bringing us gifts. We were gently reminded that Santa had so many children to take care of that we may not get all we wanted. Even that could not dampen our spirits and anticipation for the holiday.

Several days before Christmas, we woke up and had a surprise! Santa came early!! We thought, wow, we had been so good that year that he came to our house first and days early!! We were overjoyed and could not believe we were going to get to open our gifts and not wait until Christmas Day. As, we opened the one gift from Santa and went through our traditional stockings full of the usual stocking stuffers, crayons, candy, orange and apple, we were so grateful for the gift he had given us. We also were quite surprised to find so many other gifts under the tree from Dad and Mom as we had not expected more than one gift a piece. We started started opening the annual clothing gifts that Mom always made for us.

When I opened the first gift box and saw a small red metal airplane inside, being the tomboy I was at the time thought this was wonderful, although I immediately thought it was a mistake and meant to give it to my brother. That was not the case. As, each of my siblings opened their gifts, one by one, there was an array of metal toys of all types, cars, trucks, tractors, books, stuffed animals and even a train set for us all to enjoy. We were so excited to even be getting anything at all, however it did seem rather odd for us girls to be getting metal toy planes, trains, cars, and more. Dad and Mom opened our handmade gifts we made for them and expressed their surprise and joy at each one.

It was while we were thanking our parents for our gifts, I saw the tears in their eyes, I wasn't sure what that was about, being so young at the time. They asked if we truly were happy with the toys. Of course, we were thrilled, we had not expected much of anything and here we were surrounded with toys and we were still so ecstatic that Santa had come early!!

Later, that day, we left to go 'up home' as my parents called it, to Kansas where we would spend the rest of our Christmas vacation. We were completely overwhelmed that Christmas came early and so delighted to be going to our grandparents and seeing our aunts, uncles and playing with our cousins.

Years later when discussing favorite memories, Dad and Mom told us the story behind that Christmas. They had gone through all the toys in Dad's grandmother's attic that Dad had played with as a child and picked out his favorites and brought them home. Dad spent hours repairing, painting them and making them look as new as possible.

The 'early Christmas' is one of my very favorite Christmas memories. It is clearly vivid in my mind, with the smells of cinnamon. peppermint, and cedar, the sounds of our voices, the tree all decked out in it's glorious splendor with icicles, ornaments and the bubble lights. I still have some of those toys. The memories flood back and it seems like only yesterday that we opened those special gifts. They are a reminder of that 'early Christmas' many years ago and the love Dad and Mom had for their young children to make it a special time even during the hard times."

“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.” ~ Burton Hillis

Over the River and through the woods memories......
Welcome to our front porch, leave your cares behind, and sit a spell with us, talk much, laugh often'

'Tis the Season
December 6, 2015
©SBDiamondsN'Spurs2003-2015 All Rights Reserved

"I have always loved Christmas. There's a magic in the air that isn't there any other time of the year. The twinkling lights, the festivities, the sights, sounds, smell of pine and cinnamon wafting throughout home and stores overwhelm one's senses. Most of all the real reason for the season gives one a renewed sense of what is important and good and hope.

Holidays throughout the year have always been a special time, but especially so because it meant spending it with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Some of my most precious memories revolve around the holidays. For my siblings and I there was nothing like that 'over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house we go' feeling.

It was well into adulthood when my last grandparent passed away. It broke my heart knowing that holidays without them would never be the same again. My family began new traditions and although our grandparents were dearly missed, we were making new memories.

As a child, the Christmas season usually began for us on Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend. It was the perfect way to end what was a little sad for us children knowing we were headed back 'down home' after such a fun time spent with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins for several days. After church and Sunday dinner, Grandpa would take us out to find a special Christmas tree in one of his pastures. Once we found the best one Dad would cut it down and tie it to the trunk of our car. Then we would say our good-byes and although we were sad to be leaving we knew we would soon be back as we spent most weekends and all holidays 'up home.' We would sing non-stop Christmas carols on our journey home.

Invariably, once we got home it seemed the tree was always too tall and had to be shortened. By now our anticipation of decorating was growing our impatience as we knew it would still be a spell before we could begin hanging all the ornaments and tinsel. Once it was trimmed up and the right height to fit into the living room, it was placed in a bucket filled with sand so we could keep it watered in order for it to not dry out too fast over the next few weeks. We would set up the manger scene with baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the Wise Men and the animals that would remind us of the real reason for season was celebrating the birth of Christ. We placed a red and white fur trimmed tree skirt around the bucket. Only then could the decorating begin on the tree. First, Mom and Dad hung the bubble lights, and the other strands of lights. We would hold our breath hoping that all the bulbs would light and not have to be replaced as that would only delay our part putting all the ornaments on the tree. We always had our homemade items, from paper stars with glitter, angels, bows, to construction paper garlands, then the brightly colored balls and last but not least, the tinsel.

We would step back to gaze at our handiwork as Dad plugged in the lights. The colored lights and the bubble lights reflected off the shimmering tinsel seemingly making the whole tree glisten. The aroma of cedar filled the room. It held our fascination as visions of presents and stockings stuffed with candy and oranges danced through our minds.

As we begin this holiday season, so grateful for the Christmas traditions that were made many years ago, beginning with going to the pasture to cut down that perfect Christmas tree as we began the season of celebrating the birth of Christ. Those memories are forever etched in my heart." ~©DBS2015 All Rights Reserved

"The merry family gatherings -
The old, the very young;
The strangely lovely way they
Harmonize in carols sung.
For Christmas is tradition time -
Traditions that recall
The precious memories down the years,
The sameness of them all."
Helen Lowrie Marshall

Over the River and through the woods memories......
Welcome to our front porch, leave your cares behind, and sit a spell with us, talk much, laugh often'

Christmas Candy
November 30, 2015
©DBS2015 All Rights Reserved
One of the many memories of Christmas that I have from childhood is attending the annual Christmas party held for the families where my Dad worked.  It was complete with entertainment, the anticipation of Santa arriving, gifts and red mesh Christmas stockings filled with an assortment of  hard candies such as ribbon candy, candy canes and much more.  We were rarely allowed to eat candy so we always were excited to receive this as we would be allowed a couple of pieces, and then we would save the rest to put in pretty tins to give to our Great Grandma and Great Aunt, both of whom loved the hard candies. They always acted so surprised and excited to get this annual gift.
"It matters not what the custom may be,
For Christmas is loved by you and by me!
Yes; the years may come and the years may go;
But, when December wind doth, coldly, blow,
We all, I guess, are just children once more
And we plan our gifts, as we did of yore."
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, "Christmas" (1940s)

Over the River and through the woods memories......
Welcome to our front porch, leave your cares behind, and sit a spell with us, talk much, laugh often'
Holiday Birds
November 26, 2015
All Rights Reserved
Holidays were always a special time and going 'up home' to my parent's childhood homes in Cedar Vale, for big family dinners added more excitement and anticipation.The children always ate in the kitchen at Grandpa and Grandma S home. The adults would gather around the dining room table in which several sections had been added to enable more seating. Many times several card tables were set up in the living room to ensure everyone had a place to sit.There are so many memories of the holidays, but several were so memorable that they never fade with time.

One Thanksgiving, there was not enough room in the kitchen for all the children. Since I was the oldest grandchild, I was thrilled to move up to the dining room table with the adults and more excited because I got to sit between Grandma and Grandpa. Now, I would get to hear all the stories and why they always seemed to be laughing.This was going to be great! Little did I know how much fun it was going to be.

The prayer was said, and passing of food began around the table. Everyone talking, laughing telling tales and catching up on what each had been up to since they last saw each other.

Growing up in a time where children were seen but not heard, I sat quietly observing, listening and kept hearing this chirping sound. I leaned over to Grandma and whispered to her 'what it is that noise?' and barely got the words out of my mouth, when we heard this thrashing coming from the fireplace that was right behind the table and out flew two barn swallows.

To say chaos ensued would put it lightly. My aunts quickly started covering up food with napkins, uncles grabbed broom and dust mop, paper bags, empty bowls from the kitchen. The chase was quite a spectacle. The birds, were trying to find an escape and there was no where for them to hide. I found the whole situation quite hilarious from my spot under the table where Grandma had told me to go. Everyone trying to keep an eye on them, shouting out 'there is one there,' 'no here!'. Aunts periodically screaming as the birds would dive bomb trying to escape the broom and dust mop. If the birds were not bad enough, everyone was ducking the broom and dust mop as well. Fortunately, the food was unscathed, because birds do what they do, however, a couple of people did not escape it. I was rolling with laughter at the utter havoc.This was better than watching "I Love Lucy"!!

My uncles eventually were finally able to shoo them out the front door. Lots of teasing ensued after everyone was able to sit back down to eat as to who was the so-called hero of the day. I don't think there was just one as it took them all to corral them out the door. It took all my self control, not to keep laughing uncontrollably the rest of the meal. If only we had video back then for all posterity...

Home is where memories are made for the heart which make the heart smile....

Wishing a Happy Thanksgiving to all from the 'Home is where the Heart is..', 'Porch Sittin' and 'Diamonds n' Spurs' crew!

Over the river and through the woods to be continued...
Over the River and through the woods memories......
Welcome to our front porch, leave your cares behind, and sit a spell with us, talk much, laugh often'

Winter A Season of Comforts
January 7, 2015
Photo Credit:©SBDiamondsN'Spurs2003-2015 All Rights Reserved
As I listen to the howling, blustery wind, watching the birds flying to and fro, squirrels playing in the trees, feeling the cold chill of below freezing temperatures, drinking a cup of hot chocolate, my mind wanders to times past and winter time meals full of comfort foods.  My great grandmother and her sister, my great aunt lived together and one of my favorite meals at their home in Cedar Vale was what they called vegetable soup.  They were on a very, very limited income and whatever they cooked for meals had to go far. Calling it vegetable soup to some would be a real stretch. It consisted of tomato juice, beef broth, potatoes, and beef.  The soup base was so clear you could see the bottom of your bowl. The potatoes were sparse as was the meat. However, it was so flavorful one didn't notice the lack of vegetables and meat. There was always sliced onions, crackers, sweet pickles and sometimes cheese to go with the soup.  Back then,  people always had some type of dessert and my grandma and aunt were no different. They often had  canned peaches and cookies.  Our favorite, though was their delectable chocolate cupcakes with a white icing made with lemon extract.
Enjoying this cold weather as part of the constant cycle of the seasons, knowing that in about 75 days the winter season will give way to spring and will once again be porch sittin'.
"Winter a time to savor comfort foods, feel the warmth from fluffy blankets, soft flannel shirts, fuzzy socks, and hot chocolate...."
Cousins taking time from playing to   pose for Grandma to take a photo
Cousins taking time from playing to pose for Grandma to take a photo
Over the River and through the woods memories......
Welcome to our front porch, leave your cares behind, and sit a spell with us, talk much, laugh often'
Childhood Fun 'Up Home'
September 14, 2014
Home is where the heart is...
All Rights Reserved
Echoes of a time past often float through my mind and heart of my childhood.  It was a time of simpler things, without the electronics of today, where your imagination and reading books could transport one to anywhere they wished to go or become one of the characters in a book. It was a time where listening to the stories of grandparents and great-grandparents and their lives growing up seemed as if they lived in a whole other era like pages in our history books, was at best exciting and at same wondering how they lived without the modern conveniences of indoor plumbing or gas stoves, air conditioning or water coolers and more way back when.... I remember one of my grandpa's brothers, my aunt and uncle, still had an outhouse we used when we went to visit them.  My aunt kept it spic and span, painted it at least once a year,  but I still wasn't too fond of using it.  
Our childhood days were spent exploring, playing in the yard all day, playing hide and seek among my mother's many shrubs and flowers, climbing high up into the treetops, digging in the dirt, making mudpies, playing with my siblings, baseball, riding bikes, hoola hooping, jumping rope, shooting marbles, and just hanging out with each other. Pulling blossoms from the honeysuckle bush to taste the sweet nectar that awaited us inside. Watching a cocoon for what seemed an eternity metamorphsing into a butterfly, and sad to watch it fly away.  Waiting patiently for a robin's egg to hatch a new life. Finding turtles and trying to keep it for a pet, feeding it lettuce only to find one day it had gone on it's way to wherever turtles travel. 
We visited our grandparents and great-grandparents, aunts and uncles in Cedar Vale,and Sedan, and Chautauqua, Ks  quite often.  My parents would tell us to get our things together to go 'up home' to their childhood homes in  Kansas and time to head 'down home' when going back to Oklahoma where we lived about an hour away. It is terms that as an adult still use today when someone asks me where I'm at. Family and close friends automatically know where I am at when we tell them whether we are 'up home' or 'down home'.   
A day or weekend at Grandpa and Grandma S home, typically consisted of playing until exhausted with our cousins.  Seeing how high we could swing, trying to reach to the sky with our toes, sliding down the slide, seeing how fast we could teeter totter on the swing set one our uncles made. We spent hours looking for four leaf clovers, making necklaces and bracelets out of the white clover flowers.
Playing pool with the uncles in the game room attached to the garage, or baseball and football with them as we got older in the huge side yard by grandma and grandpa's house, or watching the uncles and my dad playing basketball, (that was a little too much for us when we were smaller). We spent hours playing games of hide and seek, tag, red rover, having races, and other childhood games. Innocently playing cowboys and Indians, never thinking that someday that  a simple childhood game or play acting would be frowned up in this world. Pretending to be Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Tonto, Lone Ranger, Gene Autry, Pat Brady, Andy Devine, Gabby Hayes, and more.
Bargaining with my uncle who was just slightly less than 3yrs older than me and was more like an older brother than an uncle, that if we could have a tea party, then I would then go play outside, climbing trees, ropes, exploring. I was able to be a little tomboy, but also a girly girl. As we got older, exploring the barn, hiding out in the tree house my uncle had built so he and I could escape, but still be able to watch over my younger cousins and siblings. We could read in somewhat peace and quiet, watch the antics of the younger kids trying to figure out where we were, or catch up on what we had done since the last time we had been up home.  
In the summertime we would gather and pile as many of us as we could in an old jeep and a truck to go on a picnic, wading in the Caney River and fishing. Some days we would go to the swimming pool out near the old city lake several miles north of Sedan.
Often, we would just hang out in the hammock and watch the clouds float by and let our imaginations soar. With the gentle sway of the hammock it was a favorite place to take a short nap.
We rode horses, bicycles, tricycles as our parents visited while they watched over us. After supper in the summer we spent many evenings going outside to cool down, sitting on the porch and sipping sweet iced tea or lemonade catching lightening bugs in mason jars, then letting them go when time to head to bed. Windows were open from spring to late fall, the cicadas and sounds of the night, along with the whirring of the fan lulled us to sleep.
In winter, making snowmen, sledding, snowball fights, making snow angels, then coming in to drink hot chocolate and warm up by the fireplace.
On days when too rainy or too cold to play outdoors,  we filled the days reading books or comic books, such as Archie, Veronica and Betty, Superman, Batman, Tweety Bird and Sylvestor, Woody Woodpecker, Lone Ranger, (were a special treat at Grandpa and Grandma S home if our uncle would let us read them as they were his), books checkers, wooden blocks, coloring books, puzzles, toys, dolls from the wooden box filled with a variety of toys. Playing card games of gin rummy, spades, hearts, monopoly, scrabble  Drawing pictures or playing with clay, there was plenty things to have fun with and to keep us busy and as well as learning.
At my Grandpa and Grandma B's home we filled our day much the same as we did at our other grandparents, we just didn't have all the cousins that we had at my other grandparents as we were the only grandchildren. Coming from a family of six children, we never lacked for someone to hang out and play.

Our Grandma B was a schoolteacher and she always had something fun for us to do, besides the normal activities of playing outside. We would gather flowers, or leaves in the fall to press in books, to save in a scrapbook, or use to leaves to paint and press designs on paper for a picture to frame. Some afternoons were spent traveling the backroads of Chautauqua County. They would tell us stories of their growing up or about our Dad's childhood. Other times, they would tell us tales about the antiques that filled the house and the stories behind where they found them or who they belonged to at one time. They had a dog named Cocoa we would play with, actually all of the dogs they owned through the years they named Cocoa.  We spent hours taking turns swinging, whirling, twirling on a tire swing, playing jacks or hopscotch on the sidewalk, or jumping rope. Some days, after playing we would just do some porch sitting, visiting, sipping on sweet iced tea and always lots of laughter when Grandpa and Grandma B got to reminiscing. Grandma B had a laugh that was infectious. I can still hear it when thinking of her which always brings a smile.
Great Grandma B and Great Aunt Vi  were sisters and when we visited them, their home was like stepping back into time. Their father, my great-great grandfathers was a veteran of the Mexican and Civil Wars, and was the first Mayor of Cedar Vale. We would beg them to tell us stories of growing up as somehow, even as small children, we knew their lives growing up was far different than ours. Our favorite story was the one of the James gang riding through town shooting up the town after they robbed a bank and how the canary they treasured had been shot by a stray bullet. That part of story was sad, but the rest of it was exciting and overwhelmed our senses. They felt lucky that no one in the house had been hurt.  It was just hard to imagine, that it was like one of the cowboy western radio shows that we often listened to on Saturday afternoons was a reality in their lives. They often spoke of their parents and tell us about their lives growing up. It was hard to fathom that it was so long ago, but yet so incredibly close in time since my great grandma and  several of my great aunts were still alive, many being born in the late 1800's.  
My siblings and I enjoyed our time with them and we would help them in the kitchen, making cookies, chicken and noodles, salmon cakes and more. We thought it was great fun to be the one chosen to get water in the pail from the cistern.  They had chickens, and gathering eggs was quite the experience with them. We spent hours outside playing the typical games we played no matter where we were at. Many times, they played the piano for us and we would sing along. We also had to entertain them with our dances we were learning at dance class, or say a piece from our expression lessons, sing for them or play a tune we had learned at our piano lessons. They had a close friend whose children came to play with us from time to time.  We would play red riding hood, sidewalk games, or just do some porch sitting and visit. They had a double glider that we often enjoyed  letting the breeze we created keep us cool as we carried on with our childish banter, stories and giggles. On, Saturday afternoons, we would walk the couple of blocks from their home on Cedar St to downtown, so they could do some shopping, we always stopped in at Hankins drugstore and were treated to a Cherry coke, or a float of our choice until time for the drawing that was held outside in middle of the street where different prizes were given away. Occasionally, after supper on Friday or Saturday nights, we would again walk to town and go to a movie and the Leonard Theatre.
Our days never seemed boring, but always filled with simple fun activities, lots of laughter, and just hanging out with family when we went 'up home'.
The simple times of those days, not doing anything particularly out of the ordinary are the memories that are the most special,  just having quality time with family and friends where you actually got to know each other and form lasting bonds and not get caught up with all the trappings of events, places where you don't have time to really visit or get to know each other.
Echoes of a time past of children giggling and chattering, playing, those simple carefree days are with me to stay forever in my heart...
Over the river and through the woods memories to continue...
Over the River and through the woods memories......
Welcome to our front porch, leave your cares behind, and sit a spell with us, talk much, laugh often'
My Grandmothers' Aprons
September 5, 2014
All Rights Reserved
It was a given that some things didn't change much in my growing up years when visiting my grandparents in Cedar Vale, Ks., on weekends, holidays and vacation time. One of those changeless items was the aprons my grandmas wore. If only we could listen to the stories those aprons could tell.
My grandmothers and great-grandmothers, all of them, when I was growing up wore aprons. It was a part of their daily attire. It was rare for them not to have one on when they were at home. I have many memories of those aprons and what the pockets held that adorned them. If you helped out in the kitchen you were to put one on so as not to mess up your clothes.  My great-grandmother and great-aunt not only wore  aprons, but also still wore the bonnets from an era past when they went outside to do chores. I don't know when it became less fashionable to wear aprons but at some point in time my grandmothers didn't wear them as much.
They made their own aprons and had their everyday aprons as well as a couple of fancier, frillier aprons for holidays, special occasions or when had company for dinner.  Some of their aprons just covered the skirt and tied in a bow in the back. They could be made just of a beautiful fabric, or very frilly with ruffles around the edges.  The aprons they wore daily might be plain and simple or made of colorful patterns or fabric. They covered most of the front of their clothing and had either a tie at the neck or an opening that slipped over one's head with a bib attached to bottom half of the apron and then tied in the back at the waist. They had at least one pocket, most of them had two pockets, which held a treasure trove of items and held anything from a pieces of candy or gum, to letters, pens, rubber bands, handkerchief, buttons that needed to sewn back on clothing and a variety of other items that would be put back in it's place as they went about their chores and cleaning. On occasion those pockets held a wooden spoon or rolling pin for a brief time.
Although, the principal use of  their aprons was and still is to protect the clothing underneath, my grandmothers used them for many other functional purposes. Daily they used their aprons as a potholder for removing hot pots, pans, pies, cakes from the stove top or oven.
They used their aprons to  wipe a dirty face, or hands of of us children or to blot the sweat off their brow while washing dishes, cooking over a hot stove, cleaning or doing laundry.  By taking the corners of the bottom of the apron and pulling it upwards a bit they had a vessel in which to carry, eggs, vegetables they picked from the garden, flowers or clothes from the clothesline. The pockets held clothespins in which to hang just washed laundry.  Kindling was brought in to help start a fire in the fireplace.  There seemed to be no end to what an apron could hold.
Grandma Snyder filled her apron with tomatoes, onions, potatoes, cantaloup and more from her garden.  One year,  her apron often held rocks that were in her garden after manure that was brought in to fertilize the soil somehow had lot of rocks in it. Her aprons held many an apple or cherries just picked from the trees growing near where the horses sometimes grazed. They would wander over to her as they knew she would give them a special treat. Grandma Nora Bell Barger  had a garden for many years and her apron would overflow with green beans, squash, okra and more. Sometimes, her apron was so full we would have to help by picking up what fell out on the ground as we made way from the garden to the house. If too much fell to the ground, we would fill our pockets and use the bottom of our shirts in the same way she was using the apron. I remember my Great-Grandma Barger and Great Aunt Vilette Hills used the apron to move small chicks and to collect eggs. Their apron pockets would be filled with clothespins on laundry day in order to hang up the clothes that they had just washed in soapy water heated by two large metal tubs over a cast iron gas double burner in the wash house and then rinsed  and run through an old wringer on a wooden stand. 
On hot summer days,  my grandmothers would pick up the hem by the corners and used the apron to fan and create a breeze to cool themselves or us children.  At times, the apron could do a quick dusting  with a promise to do it better another day. I was quite shy as a child and remember hiding many times under my grandmas' aprons.
Aprons have been around a long time and still in use, maybe not in same way as it was for my grandmothers, but they are still practical and a sentimental reminder of days long ago when aprons were an essential clothing and  a work item. I have a couple of aprons that I use when cooking on holidays or special occasions.   It is a comforting feeling when I put one on, much the same as eating one's favorite comfort foods, and brings back so many fond memories of my grandmothers and a simpler time.

Over the river and through the woods be continued...
Photo Credit SB DiamondsN'Spurs2003-2014
Photo Credit SB DiamondsN'Spurs2003-2014
Over the River and through the woods memories......
Welcome to our front porch, leave your cares behind, and sit a spell with us, talk much, laugh often'

Country Roads
August 28, 2014...
Home is where the heart is...

Photo Credit:©SBDiamondsN'Spurs2003-2014
All Rights Reserved

Today, partly because of the piece of pie I was enjoying at the local cafe, and partially because one of the old timers in town asked me about my grandparents, Harold and Nora Bell (Guthrie) Barger, memories surfaced of going on road trips with my grandparents. In saying road trips, we went on vacation with them several times to Missouri and Arkansas. However the road trips etched in my mind are when we went for afternoon drives in the country on the dirt roads.

During those road trips, my grandparents would capture our attention for hours as they told us stories of the towns, the landmarks, the people who lived there and of times past.

The countryside was like pages out of a storybook due to my grandparents narratives. They both had deep roots in the area. My grandfathers' roots went back to before the town of Cedar Vale even existed and his grandfather was the first mayor of Cedar Vale. We drove up and down the hills, around curves on the dusty backroads past miles of barbed wire fence held up by tree limbs, fences made of rock, past pastures full of cattle, past wheat, corn, alfalfa and hay fields, ponds, streams, creeks, rivers, lakes, rickety old barns, country schools, cemeteries, old homesteads, and farm houses. As we crossed wooden bridges, I would hold my breath until we reached the end of the bridge and pray this wasn't going to be the day it collapsed.

During the fall, the colors of the trees were vivid and bright. We sometimes stopped to pick up the colorful leaves to press in books later. In the springtime, the redbud trees, and other flowering trees would be bursting forth with blooms to let you know that winter was over. Our imagination visualized the scenes that those pastures, fields, waterways, homesteads, farmhouses held from times past. Wondering about the outlaws who once passed through them, of cowboys tending the cattle on cattle drives, of the Indians who once traveled the Black Dog Trail, or how the pioneers survived the hardships of traveling across the prairie and rolling hills to begin a new life somewhere that was new and unsettled.

Cedar Vale and Sedan were thriving communities where we spent most weekends, holidays and vacations visiting our extended families of grandparents, g- grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. My grandparents made sure we were well entertained with the history and tales of long ago, so that it was an adventure for us kids as we wandered along the back roads, through towns, such as Belknap, Brown, Cascade, Chautauqua, Centre, Colfax, Cloverdale, Elgin, Farmersburg, Grafton, Hale, Hewins, Jonesburg, Leeds, Lone Cherry, Lowe, Monett, Niotaze, Osro, Peru, Rogers, Spring Creek, Wauneta that at one time were bustling with activity. Many towns just held remains of a town long ago abandoned. Some, during those travels were barely surviving. A handful are still in existence to this day.

There were country schools, such as Harper Creek School, Lone Cherry Schoolhouse, Mt. Vernon Schoolhouse, Spring Branch Schoolhouse. Some only had the foundation where the school once stood. Other landmarks dotted the landscape, Robber's Cave, Moonshine Cave, Butcher's Falls, Osro Falls, stone arched bridges like the Railroad Stone Arched Bridge northwest of Elgin, Iron bridges and rainbow arched bridges such as those just east of Cedar Vale, Otter Creek Bridge, Cedar Creek Bridge, churches-- Rock Church, also known as the "Chapel of the Trails", Stone Church, Union Chapel Church, Jonesburg Church, Wee Kirk Chapel, Hart's Mill and many other points of interest such as Stony Point Lookout, Lookout Mountain, Hell's Bend, Shotgun Ridge, Blackdog Trail, sometimes called the Great Osage Trail. Creeks, streams, rivers, meandered throughout the countryside, Caney River, Big and Middle Caney, Spring Creek, Cedar Creek, Otter Creek, Salt Creek, Shanghai Creek, Spring Branch, Dry Creek, Rock Creek, Chautauqua Springs, and others. Some of the lakes in the county Quivera Lake, Sedan City Lake, Kirkpatrick Lake and watershed lakes. We often stopped at the many cemeteries scattered throughout the county where our ancestors were buried and told stories of their lives.

At some point during the afternoon, we would find a cafe in some small town scattered throughout the county where we were usually treated to either a hamburger, fried chicken, roast beef and mashed potatoes or chicken fried steak and all the fixings, and a pop or iced tea. If we ate all of our meal, we were treated to a piece of pie. It seemed that every cafe always had the best pies. Other times we might stop at an old country store for something to drink. In the hot summer time, we eagerly reached into the old ice chests to slide our favorite frosty cold bottle of soda, usually a Grapette, strawberry, or orange across the metal rack and remove it, then pop the cap off on the bottle opener attached to the chest.

Nowadays, many of those communities and landmarks are just names you might find on an old map. Those towns, points of interests though, are more than just a place on a map. 
They each had a story all their own that is a part of the history of Chautauqua County. Many families still own the land once homesteaded by their ancestors.

The beauty of the countryside on the backroads of Chautauqua County, still captures the heart and imagination just as it did during those leisurely afternoon drives on those country roads with my parents, siblings, and grandparents.

'Over the River and through the woods memories ".... to be continued.

Random musings, ponderings, and memories of a small town girl


“Do you still gaze in wonder at the stars in the sky?”

See Life Through the Eyes of a Child and Life is a Better Place
by ©SB November 1, 2011
All Rights Reserved

I was glancing through the lyrics of the song ‘Through the Eyes of a Child” by Mark Burrows and Greg Gilpin when began to ponder and wonder why and when do we on this road of life we travel, do we put aside and lose our inner child on the path to becoming adults? Or do we have that inner child within us always and we are so unsure of ourselves that we lose that part of ourselves in our quest to be responsible and mature. It seems to me that we should cherish and never lose the child’s soul that was given to us at our life's inception. Some of us stay curious, full of energy and joyfulness, accepting and seeing the world dawn with a newness each morning and looking forward to the small surprises the day will surely bestow upon us. Others, somewhere along the way lose that inner child. Perhaps due to the people they surround themselves with, others may for a multitude of reasons or excuses lose that quality. The question then that keeps begging to be answered is why do some lose it in spite of all that happens to them and others don’t and how do they come to the knowledge that one can become a responsible adult while retaining our inner child?

The inner child sees the amazing wonders and beauty of ordinary, everyday events such as the sun rising or the moon setting and the stars twinkling for all the world to see as well being so excited that one can barely contain one’s self when extraordinary life happenings cross our paths. There seems to be no reason that our inner child as a responsible adult should not be brought forth and released, as it is what keeps life amazing and unforgettable.

All this pondering and musing brought back several vivid memories of childhood and how as a child we see the world surrounding us.  It is incredible that so many can lose that same wonderment we have as a child when they reach adulthood. As a child my siblings and I spent many hours playing outside. When indoors would gaze through the big picture window or at times just would sit on the front porch as we watched and listened to the ever evolving world that was beyond the realm of our little corner of the life. Much could be seen and heard. As a child growing and absorbing all that was around me seemed to be ever changing and ever growing. By observing all that went on around us, we were unconsciously learning about responsibilities of adult life as we enjoyed being children in a much simpler time. The neighbors coming and going about their daily business, going to and from their jobs, tending to the housework and their children, household chores, the grass being cut, snow being shoveled, cars being washed in the driveway.

Just as the tree’s colors changing with the seasons, life was ever evolving. As children, we noticed the changes, but in much simpler terms. Warmer weather brought out the bicycles, tricycles, baseballs, basketballs and footballs, hoola hoops, roller skates, and marbles. Colder weather brought snow, sleds and snowball fights and snowmen. My siblings and I spent much time outside, from playing baseball to hide and seek, tag, cowboys and cowgirls(big fans of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Pat Brady, Nellie Bell, Trigger and Bullet, Sky King), red rover, red rover, playing jacks, hopscotch, hoola hooping, jumping rope or climbing trees, pulling blossoms from the honeysuckle bush to taste the nectar that awaited us inside, lying in the grass as we watched shapes of worldly things we envisioned in the clouds as they floated by and wondered if we could possibly sit on the puffy cushions above us without falling through. Watching and waiting patiently on a bird's egg to hatch a new life, witnessing a cocoon metamorphosing into a butterfly, running barefoot through the grass, picking an apple from the tree, finding four leaf clovers, being stung by the occasional bee, catching fireflies in the twilight hours at the end of the day all bring life into perspective, but as a child it was the wonderment of those things that kept us inquisitive, filled with joy, and excited about the dawning of each day wondering what discoveries would be coming our way.

More sights and sounds come to mind from those carefree days, such as the teenage neighbor feeling his oats with a brand new driver's license tries to burn rubber as he leaves the driveway, and the inevitable sounds of his parents yelling at him to slow down before he kills himself or someone else and quit burning up the tires or he wouldn't be using the family car again; sounds of giggles and screams of delight as children played, the occasional sound of a baby crying, and the voice of his mother saying ‘shhhh.... 'Sweet baby' don't cry, all will be ok, momma’s here‘, a barking dog, or cats meowing. Listening to someone practicing the piano or learning to play the flute mingled with the daily sounds of life taking place.

Waking to the smells sounds of coffee brewing, bacon frying, sunrises, hugs from Mom and Dad, siblings scrambling for turns in the bathroom were all part of the beginning of a new day. Some days spent playing outside all day, other days were spent just listening to the rain fall, or the sounds of thunder and lightening seemingly shaking the entire house, the wind blowing through the trees as we played inside during bad weather. The many nights anticipating the morning light which would surely bring fun and adventure as the moon rose in the sky, hearing the quiet of the night, or the soft sounds of snow falling as the sandman drifted us off to sleep into the realms of childhood dreams.

The sounds of whistles for this one and that one as it was time to come home or parents calling a child's name to come in for supper. The sound of the blades of a push mower cutting grass, the whirring and click, click of a water sprinkler watering the lawn, crickets and locusts at night, the sound of a bee humming in the day as if trying to keep harmony with the chirping of the birds.

Smells of baking bread, cakes or pies, as the windows were left open during all but the coldest days of the year. Anticipating ice cream and hearing the whoosh whoosh of the ice as it as we cranked the handle on the ice cream maker. Sounds of church bells ringing on Sunday, the choir singing. Smells of roasts in the oven and fried chicken wafting through the air as families returned home from church and gathered around the table for dinner. The quiet as families napped after  Sunday dinner and the occasional snore from at least one member of the family. The sounds of the clip clopping of a horse hoofs, or ‘hi yo silver’, or Roy Rogers singing ‘Tumbling Tumble Weeds’ or ‘Happy Trails’ coming from the radio as we woke from a nap. Bath water running for the nightly baths, bedtime stories, prayers being said, saying night to each other, the click of the light switch as the day was done. Looking forward for the tomorrows to come as dreams filled our sleepy heads.

Those sights and sounds from childhood remain as picturesque and alive as the scenes that frequently traverse my mind of those carefree days of youth. There is nothing more delightful than hearing the sounds of uncontrollable giggles coming from children at play. One must not forget how it is to giggle with abandonment at some childish antic or something we deemed to be quite hilarious for no reason at all. Many times this occurred at the most inappropriate times which would cause us to giggle even more. Laughter and giggling without restraint is good for the soul. Laughter is contagious and healthy. We should do it more often and release that inner child within us.

Daily life, constant, but ever changing through the eyes of a growing child. Life as it was then, simple childhood memories that filled our days with delight, that we as adults sometimes feel are just things of the past. If we set our inner child within us free, will one see we have lost nothing? All those things are still all around us. No matter how old we become, frail and fragile, it seems that if we continue to see life unclouded, look for the excitement, anticipate it, find an adventure around every corner, life will be filled daily with a treasurer trove of memories to store in our heart.

Dealing with those adult items, we have to tend to in life appears to be just part of being a responsible adult. Those things are also very much a part of life. The other part it seems would be in releasing the inner child we were given upon our inception and seeing the world around us through childlike eyes so that we recognize and realize what is important in this life---the simple pleasures and the ‘gift of life’ itself.

Obviously, I am by no means an expert on such things as ‘the inner child within us‘ and this is just my thoughts, musings, and memories. However, I have released my inner child long ago or maybe I never lost it, and right now I am excited and anticipating the adventures that tomorrow will surely bring along with the responsibilities, but first the sandman needs to work his magic, so that I will be able to keep up with my inner child as a dawning of a new glorious day will be here soon….

“It's not where you look,
But what you see and hear”

More thoughts, random musings and memories of a small town girl to be continued……

N.A.&Genevieve(Hills)Barger Home, Cedar Vale,KS.
N.A.&Genevieve(Hills)Barger Home, Cedar Vale,KS.
Over the River and through the woods.......
by ©SB Aug. 28, 2010 All Rights Reserved
Over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house we go... It was an idyllic childhood, carefree with all the wonderment and innocence of being a child growing up during that period of time.

I was quite fortunate growing up that I still had many grandparents still living, not only my maternal and paternal grandparents, but quite a few of my great-grandparents as well. In total had 7 grandmothers(includes the great-grandmas) and 5 grandpas(also includes the great-grandpas) when I was born.

This writing is about just a few of the treasured memories I have of the times spent at one of my great-grandmothers and her sister, my great aunt, that lived in Cedar Vale. We seemed to spend most weekends and all holidays and many summer days going to Cedar Vale which we always called going "up home". To this day, my family will ask if we are 'up home" or 'down home' when we visit on the phone. We had plenty of family and friends that kept us quite busy visiting, as both my Mom's and Dad's parents, my grandparents, some of my great-grandparents, along with many aunts, uncles, cousins lived in Cedar Vale or nearby in Sedan. My Dad's parents then lived in Sedan just a short drive away and for a time lived in the little town of Chautauqua, then my grandad moved back to Cedar Vale after my grandmother passed away. 

Genevieve (Vieve) G. (Hills) Barger  was my great-grandmother. I and my siblings have wonderful memories of her and my Great Aunt Vilette(Vi) Hills, her sister. Aunt Vi lived with my great-grandmother after my great-grandfather died in the 1930's. They were the daughters of my gg-grandfather and gg-grandmother (Col. F.M and Annie (Proper) Hills. They had 11 other siblings, plus 3 half-brothers. Col. F.M Hills was the first mayor of Cedar Vale and also was elected mayor two other times. His brothers came to Cedar Vale around same time as J. R. Marsh in 1869 and had one of the first businesses with Marsh. Col. F.M. and his wife Anna(Proper) Hills and their 3 oldest children came a short time thereafter around 1872. Great-great Grandpa Hills also had 3 children from his first marriage.  They would have seven more children, all born in Cedar Vale.

Grandma and Aunt Vi  were well into their years when I was born. Fortunately, I was blessed to have them in my life all my growing up years. It always seemed that they had just had their hair done as it was always perfectly styled. Grandma had white hair that had a golden tint laced throughout the finger waves of her hair, whereas Aunt Vi's hair was tight silver curls and a few waves as typical of the hairstyles at that time. Both were short in stature with brown eyes that seem to twinkle whenever we were around. At times they almost seemed fragile, but they were hard workers and very independent women. In order to be able to support themselves, they took in washing and ironing for many people in Cedar Vale. I was mesmerized by how they did their laundry and as a child thought it was a wonderful treat to be able to go and help them. Although, as I grew up, I realized how hard they worked for such a pittance of a fee they charged for their efforts even though it was probably in keeping for the times. They had a wash house out behind their home and they used wash tubs that the water was heated in and kept hot on an old cast iron burner.  Many trips were made back and forth hauling fresh water as needed. They would wash the clothes on an old washboard in hot sudsy water, then rinse them in the tubs of clean hot water and wring them out with an old hand wringer. They would dip the clothes in starch water before hanging to dry on the clothes line.  They then would use an empty pop bottle filled with lemon or lavender scented water and added a sprinkler type top you purchased that was made especially for this purpose in order to sprinkle the clothes to slightly dampen the clothes in preparation to make it easier to iron.  In earlier years before they had an electric iron, they would heat up a couple of cast hand irons on the stove so that they always had one hot and ready to iron with as one would cool off and have to be re-heated. Often when we came to visit, there would be clothing and linens hanging up, having just been freshly washed and ironed waiting on their owners to come pick them up. They continued to do this until the late 1950's when Grandma  was in her late 70's. 

Grandma was a wonderful cook and I remember many of my favorite foods she would make with my aunt; salmon cakes, vegetable soup, chicken and noodles that would melt in your mouth, chocolate cupcakes with white icing flavored with lemon extract instead of the usual vanilla extract which was a welcome treat anytime and many more of our favorites. One of my favorite meals was and still is, were the delicious salmon cakes they would make for us. The meal was not complete without fried potatoes, and creamed corn. We all had our own special place that  we always sat at for meals. The oak chairs seemed so big when I was younger that surrounded the old oak table with claw feet. I felt so special that my place was always between both Grandma and Aunt Vi.

They had a cistern in the big enclosed screened porch attached to the back of the house just beyond the kitchen that we children loved to be able to fetch water as we watched the metal cups come around as they filled the metal pail full of water. It was a white pail trimmed in red that had a wire and black wood handle. They kept it sitting by the kitchen sink complete with a matching white metal dipper outlined in red and covered with a crisp white tea towel that had the days of the week embroidered on it. Even though ice seemed to be scarce, the water from the cistern was always cold and quenched our thirst. Their refrigerator for years was an old wooden ice box, but the icebox they had at that time was still antiquated in my child's mind as it was white box with attached legs that stood on the floor with some black outline trim around the doors that had silver handles and had some type of fan contraption on top of it. The phone they had was a candlestick type phone with no rotary dial and had it's own special ring so they would know that someone was calling them. They did not have a dial phone until the late 1950's or early sixties and were still on a party line for several years. They did not acquire a TV until late 50's, maybe early 60's and even then the picture was a bit fuzzy. They did have a radio but I don't really remember listening to it or watching the tv much. as most of the time everyone was busy visiting and catching up on what was going on in everyone's life. One might wonder if they had indoor plumbing with all the vintage appliances they still used from years past, but, they did indeed have indoor plumbing.  You had go past the stairs just beyond the dining room which were located in what was a pantry in order to get to it. I don't know if it was added on at some point in time or built at same time the house was constructed. It was complete with all the modern plumbing of the era it was built and had a big white porcelain claw foot tub, a pedestal based sink and a commode, which was replete with the wooden water tank box above with a chain pull. It eventually was replaced at some point in time with a more modern one.

When we were younger, we loved to sit on Grandma and Aunt Vi's  laps and cuddle with them. They both had their own special chairs they liked to sit in. They had this wonderful old black leather furniture with walnut wood arms and legs, which included a sofa, a big rocker and and oversized stuffed chair.They also had an old wooden rocker that had a leather seat and it wore through several times as I was growing up. We then used a pillow where the leather had worn thin until the seat was replaced again. There was a big gas stove in the living room that was used to heat the entire house.  In the summer time, ceiling fans kept us cool along with handheld paper fans.

As children, we always seemed to somehow be called upon at some point in time during our visits to perform for Grandma and Aunt Vi. Our parents apparently were quite proud of our accomplishments much to our chagrin. I was quite shy during my younger years, and  it would seem that my parents thought maybe I would overcome that by showing our family our latest acquired talents. By the time I was 4 years old and one of my sisters was 3, we began taking dancing lessons, and in a couple of years we began taking piano, expression lessons, and other lessons to enhance our lives. My grandmother and great aunt were a very enthusiastic audience, so as we grew up, it became less of a chore for our parents to persuade us to perform for them.

I loved going to Grandma and Aunt Vi's as it was like stepping back in time, although as a child wasn't quite aware of how really back in another era it was when we would walk up onto the front porch to enter their home. To us, it was just Grandma and Aunt Vi's home. As you opened  the Victorian style screen door, there was ad wooden front door with a frosted etched glass pane in the top half of the door which held quite a fascination for me.  I spent many daydreaming moments conjuring up stories in my mind about the people that seemed to come alive for me that was etched into the frosted glass. It was a winter time skating scene with a couple of skaters arm in arm gliding across the ice, along with many children and other skaters. During those times that we were "seen and not heard' while the adults visited,  I would become lost for a spell in that scene  with nothing more than the simple but vivid imaginations of a child. Some of the windows in Grandma's home also held my interest and they seemed quite large and at the top of some of them they had stained glass, which I was not accustomed to seeing other than in church. There was also a type of window seat in the dining & living room. They had two bedrooms downstairs and another bedroom upstairs that you accessed just beyond the dining room right before entered the pantry area. The bedroom we slept in seemed quite large as it had two big iron beds in it and room for a cot as well.  In the summer time the windows were open and most times a cool breeze soothed us as the rhythmic sounds of the cicadas serenaded us and lulled us to sleep.  When I hear the cicadas now, it immediately transports me back to those summer nights in Cedar Vale .

Grandma and Aunt Vi seemed to always buy things alike, but they always bought them in different colors, Grandma's would be in blue and Aunt Vi's in pink or red. One of my sisters and I always got the same  identical items from them for Christmas and birthdays, no matter what it was, mine was always pink and  my sister's was blue.

One year the Easter bunny left us the usual assorted eggs to find, but also baby chicks. Mine of course was pink and my sister's was blue and my other sister's
was purple, and my brother's was green.  The chicks somehow managed to survive and were becoming too large for us to keep. We were not too happy with having to give them up and fretted over what was going to happen to them. We were finally informed and delighted to find out that we would be taking them to Grandma's and Aunt Vi's as they raised chickens and sold eggs and had a chicken coop. I don't think it ever dawned on us at the time that those chickens could wind up being on our dinner plates. I do remember that eventually, one by one they all seemed to succumb to the hereafter, except my dear Pinky even though he had become quite cantankerous. In later years, I learned that my Grandma and Aunt Vi, refused to let Pinky have an untimely demise as Pinky, the cute little chick had grown up to be a rooster and ruled the roost in that chicken pen, but their main reason for saving Pinky was because I was so attached to my fine feathered friend and was my pet. One of the first things I would do after arriving at Grandma's house was to go out and check on Pinky out in the chicken coop. I was always afraid he would forget me, but I would call out to him and he would come running over to me.  It was a stand off attachment and love at least on my part, mainly due to the fact Pinky liked to peck at a person  and I certainly was having none of that and Pinky wasn't fond of letting anyone get too close to his flock. So I was quite grateful and I'm sure Pinky was as well for the chicken wire that separated us. We always had quite a chat back and forth with his crowing and my childish banter until my folks, grandma, or Aunt Vi would let me that someone was going to complain because Pinky had crowed long and loud enough for all to hear.

Grandma and Aunt Vi only lived a couple of blocks on what was known as the Hills block for years south of the main  hub of town. They did not own a vehicle and walked everywhere that they needed to go.  On Saturday afternoons, the big treat of the day for us when we were visiting, was that we would get to walk to  town with Grandma and Aunt Vi. We would go to the Hankins Drug store and get an ice cream or cherry coke after Grandma and Aunt Vi had shopped for groceries they needed from the grocery store.  Then at 3:00pm the town would have a drawing for money in the middle of Cedar street  and many of the residents would show up to see if they had won that week. 

We spent a lot of time outside playing the typical games of red rover, jumping rope, hopscotching, hide n' seek,  jacks, blind man's bluff and other games as well as playing anything we thought up. A couple of girls who we became friends with, Ula and Ola would come to visit us sometimes when we were at Grandmas. For some reason, we all loved playing Red Riding Hood off the curb under a couple of big old elm trees. That curb appeared to be so big & high as a child. . Now when see it, I have no idea why we thought it was such big curb and held the fascination it did for us.  When we tired of playing, the double glider surrounded by a trellis arbor full of flowers and roses, which was a welcome respite that we loved to just glide slowly back and forth  and let the breeze we created from gliding back and forth cool us off.

Due to their meager income, their gifts to us at Christmas time must have presented them a great hardship, but somehow they always managed to give us something special. I still have a couple of the beautiful hankies that they gave to us at Christmas. The gifts though, were not what made the holiday special. One of my favorite memories of Christmas time is that the company my dad worked for always had a Christmas party for the families complete with Santa, gifts and mesh Christmas stockings filled with an assortment of candy, particularly hard candies. We, children always saved all the hard candy out of each of our bags and would put the candy in pretty containers and give it to Grandma and Aunt Vi, both of whom loved the hard candies. They always acted so surprised and excited to get this annual gift.  We also would entertain them with a dance or sing Christmas carols.  The meals they prepared  and just being with them and other family members were the best part of the holiday.

Great -Grandma Barger was small in stature, but a hard working woman all her life. I will always remember her quiet and gentle ways. She is dearly missed by all who knew her. Genevieve Geraldine (Hills) Barger passed away at Hays Hospital in Cedar Vale, Ks. After several weeks of illness. At an early age she became a member of the Cedar Vale Baptist Church. She received her education in the Cedar Vale school. She was a Past Worthy Matron of the Order of Eastern Star, receiving her 50th year membership award in 1967. She was also Past noble Grand of the Rebekah Lodge.

"Over the river and through the woods"..... (to be continued)



Col.F.M.& Annie (Proper) Hills & their daughters,
Vilette Hills, Minnie Hills(Smith), Hazel Hills(Perry), Grace Hills(Shue/Barnes), Genevieve Hills(Barger), Daisie Hills(Burdette)
not pictured is Josephine Hills(Bryant)
(on porch of the Hills home, Cedar Vale, Ks)
Branding a calf in a squeeze chute-a demonstration of calf branding in Chautauqua County, KS between 1960 & 1969 Source
Branding a calf in a squeeze chute-a demonstration of calf branding in Chautauqua County, KS between 1960 & 1969 Source Kansas Farmer Magazine
Over the river and through the woods.....To Grandma's and Grandpa's we go, with cousins galore, there was always something to do or going on when we went 'up home'. 
Grandpa Snyder and The Sale Barn
By SB Feb. 21, 2011
Memories frequently flow through my mind and I'm easily transported to those carefree childhood days. Memories are wonderful and can be brought to one's thoughts, by sights, sounds or smells or just random meandering of the mind. Today, the mooing of cattle reminded me of a time past and going to my Grandpa's(Ralph Snyder)Livestock Sale Barn.  In the summertime we often were able to go 'up home' on Fridays to spend the weekend and one of the many treats of going up home on Friday was going to the Sale Barn. One might wonder what kind of treat this would be to a child, but to this kid, it was like nothing else. The sights and sounds were a wonderment for the imagination of  cowgirl at heart whose visions and fantasies of the old wild west could easily have been nothing more than just listening to the cowboy radio shows, or watching the TV westerns which held my attention quite often. The reality was that I had real cowboys in my life, a Grandpa and uncles who are forever etched in my mind as the real deal....
As we approached the sale barn my excitement would grow as I anticipated getting to see my Grandpa Snyder, all the while I'm taking in all the sights and sounds. Cattle are mooing, trucks with trailers are parked everywhere, cowboys on horses, in the cattle pens, and my Uncles Lloyd, Blaine, Keith, and Paul working the cattle and up on the cattle walks high over the pens watching the cattle until one by one they were brought into the sale barn to be sold. The sounds inside of cowboy boots  walking across the dusty floor, the jingle, jangle of spurs, cowboy talk, the laughter, the calfs bawling, the chant of the auctioneer, Uncle Don(my Grandpa's brother)  cracking the whip in the cattle ring and Grandpa with his cowboy hat tilted slightly to the side in the booth surveying and keeping close watch over the whole scene and occasionally hollering out at someone as the cattle are brought up for sale traipses through my mind like a movie. It seemed there was a sea of cowboy hats everywhere you looked. The memory conjures up the smells....manure, cigars, and the sweat of the hard working cowboys which permeated the air at the sale barn. It also brings back the the remembrance of the cafe at the sale barn....the hamburgers were like none other, and the pies, especially the coconut pie could make this little cowgirl's mouth water just thinking about it. 
We usually had lunch first at the sale barn cafe before we would go in to watch the cattle being sold. The sounds, sights and smells were just as vivid in the cafe. The sizzle and smell of hamburgers cooking, the popping of the  hot oil as the French fry basket was set down in it to cook, "order up" being called out by the cook, cowboys talking about the events of the day or the cattle they were buying and selling, sound of a soda as you poured it over glass of ice. If you picked the glass up quickly enough, the fizz sprayed lightly on your face. The hamburgers were the best I've ever eaten, and if we were lucky, we got to have a piece of pie. My favorite and still is coconut cream pie. Simple food, but scrumptious.
Once our tummies were full, we proceeded to the arena, where there were rows and rows of tiered seating overlooking the sale arena. We were told not to move and sit quietly or we might wind up buying a cow.  That was a tall order for children, but for the most part we sat as still as possible. We always somehow managed to catch Grandpa's eye and it was a thrill when he would acknowledge us and we would wave back, only to be told with a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face...not to be doing that again as we might wind up buying something.  Occasionally, Uncle Don would look up and give us a wink as he worked the cattle and once in a while he would notice that we scratched our arm or chin and with a smile would ask us if we were bidding.  Never quite understood how he thought that, but as grew older, it came to light, that many of the ranchers would only give a slight nod, touch their hat, scratch their arm or chin or a variety of other silent ways that the auctioneer and the cowboys helping him would recognize that they were placing a bid.
Grandpa was easily a combination of Roy Rogers, John Wayne, Gene Autry, Ronald Reagan, Ben Johnson,..but he was much more than that-- Grandpa was his own person- a loving husband, father, and grandfather and a true cowboy, who literally lived by the code of the west and the cowboy way.  He was a kind and gentle person who loved his family. He always had time for his grandchildren to sit and talk with them, give advice when asked for and be compassionate when you needed it. Even though there was a bushel and a peck of grandchildren, you always knew you were very special to him.
Nowadays, the Sale Barn has been bought and turned into a home. The only sign that reminds one of days gone past is the road which is now called Sale Barn Rd. Many may remember those days, others just know it as the place where thousands of cattle were once bought and sold and shipped all over the country.  For me, the Sale Barn holds many cherished memories, but the most treasured of all is of a real cowboy- my grandpa.....

Over the river and through the be continued
Letters from F. O. Bryant
(His memories of Cedar Vale)

(These letters were written in 1977)

January 5, 1977
Dear Folks:

Your letter came today and will try to go back about 75 years and chronicle the happenings concerning the Barger family first of all.

Newt's father, Seth, came to C. V. with his family after and bought the blacksmith shop. across the alley from the Baptist church. He taught Newt the trade  and went back to Fairfax, Oklahoma where he still owned his shop.

Harvey Barger joined Newt in the C. V. shop and they added a wagon shop to the business.  Uncle Newt courted Aunt Vieve in Grandfather Hill's front parlor and were in the parlor of the home.(I remember as if it was only yesterday.).................

Newt had a home built and ready to move into and after the honeymoon of a few days began a life of real happiness together. The home was across the street from his mother, father and family. As well as I can remember there were 4 more boys, besides Newt, Eldon, Charles, Archie and Harvey. The girls names-Maude, Fern and Mable. The mother was a red head and so was Newt & Charlie, Arch and Harve were dark haired.  The girls were all red-heads. Seth, the father was a dark-haired powerfully-built Dutchman. He knew his trade and taught his sons to do it right or else.

The Barger family lived on the same block where my family lived so I saw quite of lot of them. Charlie and I used to fish a lot in Cedar Creek where we made fine catches of perch, catfish, bass and soft-shell turtles. We played run-sheep run on the prairie on the hillside between their house and the Mo-Pac depot.

Our family (my dad was a barber) moved to Caney where my father bought a shop (6chairs-2 baths-cigar and tobacco counter, etc) where we lived until I was 13, then back to C.V.  The Bargers, except Newt and Harve, had gone back to Fairfax so I never saw any of them except Charlie who came to visit Newt and Harve. he was about 5'7'' like his his father. All the Barger children went through High School. Bertha was a tomboy. No game was too rough for her to play.

One day Charlie and I were fishing on Cedar creek when he hooked a soft -shelled turtle so large it took both of us to pull it to the shore. I jumped in and got behind the turtle and Charlie got it by a front leg.  We pulled it up on the bank and turned it on it's back. Charlie then ran home and brought back a washtub. We loaded the turtle into the tub and it was so large we had to squeeze it in. We, took it to the hotel and they paid us $2.00 for it.

This sounds like a tall tale but there are many more true experiences we shared as growing boys which cross my memory and was a part of our lives to be remembered as long as we live.

Newt played on the K.O. (Kansas-Oklahoma) baseball league and when he hit a home run it usually went over the board fence at the north end of the race track at Hewins Park-(about 500 feet). He enjoyed the game very much as did Harvey and Charles.

I used to help in the blacksmith shop doing odd jobs. The most important was making caponizing tools for Geroge Beuoy who sold them all over the U.S.A.

I could go on and on but am getting tired and sleepy, so at your pleasure and request will write about the Hill's family which I assure you will be as complete and authentic as possible.

You must admit my memory for my childhood is pretty fair considering my 82 years.

Next time I'll write about the Hill's family.
Frank O. Bryant
(the last of the Bryants)

Letters from F. O. Bryant
(His memories of Cedar Vale)

(These are series of letters written by F.O. Bryant in 1977)

January 7, 1977
Dear family-

You, perhaps know about Grandpa Hills army record. But it may be of interest to learn that his father was a publisher in Philadelphia and that two of his brothers founded Hills Bros. Coffee Co., and that Clara Barton was related to him and came to his funeral in Cedar Vale.  Clara was founder of the American Red Cross.

Yes, Grandpa Hills and I were very close. he was 86 and I wa 21 when he died.  I was his namesake and we had many talks, principally about his army years and I was always a good listener.

I can see him now walking home from his store in his last years wearing the Army Blue, hardly able to make it but a proud soldier, knowing he would not be able to make the walk much longer.

I was his namesake and it made me very sad to see him bravely trying to keep on even though he knew it could not last much longer.

My mother was the oldest and kept books for Grandpa when I was born.

There were 3 boys by Grandpa's former marriage  Oscar, Frank and Milton. Frank was a superintendent on the building of tunnels and underpasses in Los Angeles and Philadelphia.

I have seen the work done under his supervision in both cities and you cannot begin to visualize the scope of the undertakings.

He came through C. V. in 1902 from Los Angels and spent a few days with the Hill's family and of course I and the children had an opportunity to talk to him.

Oscar was the sickly one. he had some kind of respiratory trouble and passed away at age 79.  I was there and saw him laid out just a few minutes after his death.

Milton was 5'2" but a bundle of energy and wit. he and Oscar lived in one of of Grandpa's store buildings where 'Milt' had a combination fishing tackle, garden suppply(seeds, etc) store and did a very good business. He died at age 93.

Here are the names of the children of Grandpa Hills and Anna Marie, his wife. Josephine(my mother), Daisie, Grace, Minerva, Genenvieve, Vilette and Hazel, Gilbert, Abner, William, Karl.

Quite a bunch to round up for Sunday school.  However, Grandpa Hills saw to it that all his chilren got a good eucation both in school and church.

The girls all married except 'Vi' and she was so shy she never had a boyfriend. She made trips to the post office every day but lookd straight ahead, never seeming to hear when a young man spoke to her.  But when I visited her in '52 she expressed the desire to come to California ....

All the girls married well and in a photo taken when I was about 12 there were 42 children. That included a few from 2 of the boys.  Bill and Karl never married. They were hunters, trappers and fishermen.  They made money at it as the area at that time was virgin and alive with all sorts of fur-bearing animals and as the Caney river joined the White River which ran into the Mississippi there were many species of fish.

I grew up with these two and was always with them so I naturally became an accomplished hunter and fisherman. some winters we had 30 traps along the Caney and trapped over a hundred pelts. Mink, raccoon, possum, muskrat and skunk which amounted to between four or five hundred dollars.

We used to set lines and often brought in over a hunred pounds of catfish in one night. The largest was a Mississippi catfish weighing 104 pounds.

In the winter we would camp out on a lake in Oklahoma for a week and hunt ducks. We often came home 70 or 80 which we distributed to our families. The ducks were frozen as the weather was near zero so they kept fresh. The lake was near Ponca City. 

Incidentally, each one of Grandpa's daughters was given a book about the regiment formed by Grandpa during the Civil War. I think it was the Pennsylvania 45th Infantry.  I had one of the books given to me by my mother to be handed down to each generation so Harold must have one or some other descendant. The book has Grandpa's pictures when he was in the army and later when the book was published.

About the pictures you mentioned: I really do not remember seeing them. But I may be able to recognize the people in them.  I can remember the names of just about every person in C.V. At that time as there were only about 1,000 inhabitants and I used to deliver papers all over town.

Well, it's 11:30pm and hoping you are not as tired reading this as I am. I will close for this time. Hoping you and yours a Happy and Prosperous New Year and the very best in every way.

Frank O. Bryant

Letters from F. O. Bryant
(His memories of Cedar Vale)

(These are series of letters written by F.O. Bryant in 1977)

January 16, 1977
Dear Folks-
Sorry!  Gave you the wrong area code..........

Harold Barger was born in the home where Newt and Vieve lived next to Grandpa Hill's home. I remember whnt the house was built.  The Hills' boys built it-foundation and all. Men in those days built their own homes and for $1,000 the homes were really nice.

Harold was just a small boy the last time I saw him. He was husky and had a disposition like Newt's. I'm srue that he made it ok.

One day Newt's horse stepped in a gopher hole in the vacant lot next to their house and I ran up to the shop and told him aobut it. Newt and Harve ran around the block to where the horse was and Newt took hold of the leg in the hole and lifted him right out. Harve just stood and looked. He didn't have time to help.

Grandpa Hill's had a pear tree about 20 ft. outside the kitchen door and it had the most beautiful pear on it. (just one) No, I didn't know it but Grandpa was watching that pear every evening when he came home from the store. Everyone knew, but me, that he was waiting for the pear to ripen. He didn't know I was also watching - and I was crazy about pears.

The pear was nice and yellow so I decided it was time to pick and eat it. I waited until the coast was clear and picked the pear but Aunt Minnie saw me and took it away from me. She told Grandpa what I had done and gave him the pear.  Grandpa lectued me a bit but as I was only six at the time he relented and cut off a generous slice and we both enjoyed eating that delicious pear.

Grandpa Hills had 600 acres of land allotted him by the U.S. Govt after the war. The land was sold by him to purchase 2 blocks where the home stands and south one block.  The business buildings he had built took up a half block.  He had hardware, farm machinery, feed, coal, ice and undertaking, all in connecting buildings.

One thing I must mention-Uncle Newt and Harve came down to the shop before sunup 4th of July morning and took their anvils out into the street, placed them face together after pouring a quanity of black powder in the depression. Then Newt heated the end of a long iron rod and touched the powder which caused a bang that could be heard for miles which woke up the town.  I was only 5 years of age the first time I saw Newt do this but Ican remember it as if it were yesterday.

Newt always had a good supply of skyrockets and after dark on the Fourth he would go out in the street in front of his home and shoot them down the street high in the air.  He always had quite and audience.

Aunt Hazel was quite ill for some time before her death and her son who was manager of a milk processing firm near Denver took her to live with him.  I sent her money each month.  I wrote to Vi quite often but a friend informed me she had arthritis in her hands and was unable to answer letters.

Grandma Hills was from Pennsylvania Dutch stock and was active most of her life.  Everyone loved her and of all the family I loved her the most. She never had a cross word to any of her children.  She was angel if there ever was one.  I still have a pocket knife she gave me one day while I stood in front of the display of knives in Grandpa's store.

Uncle Gilber(Gib) had a chili parlor in one of the stores and made a good living at 10 cents a bowl.

Uncle Albert (Ab) worked on the Santa Fe railroad as baggageman.

Uncle Bill took care of the ice business. He drove the route with a black, blind, horse that needed no driving as he knew the route and never failed to stop at every house that took ice.  Bill was a sharpshooter in WW I and came home with medals all over his chest.

Getting tired so will close for now.  Next letter I will tell you more about myself.

 Frank B

Letters from F. O. Bryant
(His memories of Cedar Vale)

(These are series of letters written by F.O. Bryant in 1977)

January 26 1977
Dear Folks-

You may wonder, at my age, how my memory is so good. I sometimes wonder myself as my wife says "I can't remember things that happened yesterday."

There were so many things happened in Cedar Vale when I was growing up that were really profound and things I could never forget.

Bank robbers, horse thieves, stores broken into and killings right on the main street. Those were really exciting days. One druggist shot and killed another druggist on main street because he called him an S.O. B. A farmer killed another farmer with a shovel over a dispute about the ownership of a little pig that was worth one dollar or less.  The killer served one year in jail.  Then there was a doctor who shot his wife after she had gone to sleep because he thought she was cheating on him.  He also served one year in prison.

Two bank robbers who took $500 from the Dosbaugh Nat'l Bank in C.V. only got as far as Hewins on horses when men behind a rock fence shot and killed them.

A horse thief stole a race horse from the Adams barn and only got 2 miles out of town when a farmer, who was phoned ahead, shot him dead.

There were cowboys who came into town Saturday nights and shot up the town after getting high on bootleg liquor.  They never caused any damage except to the nerves of the townspeople as they shot up in the air as they were riding out.  Those were the good old days!

There were outlaws all over the country and I saw several who they brought in to Grandpa's Undertaking Parlor to be put away. Some men collected rewards for killing desperados but not too much. Maybe $100.00 to $500.00.

One night a young man started to steal a Ford in front of Uncle Gib's Chili Parlor.  He had trouble getting started and as I heard the owner yell  "stop - stop" I just happend to be in the hotel lobby. I took the 12 guage shotgun from behind the front door and ran out just as the car was backing out and shot the rear tire flat.  The man jumped from the car and started to run down the street but when Uncle Gib fired a shot which hit the street near the man he stopped and put his hands in the air.  Uncle Gib always had a 45 caliber pistol under the counter and knew how to use it.  The man got 6 mos.

A salesman came with punchboards one day and Uncle Gib took one with a $60.00 12 guage pump gun.  Uncle Gib asked me if I wanted to be the first punch and to his surprise I won the shotgun.  He and I were alone in the parlor and he said if I took the gun it would make the board worthless so I agreed to leave the gun on the board.  From then on he called a lucky so and so but never asked me to take another punch and I never did.  

Grandpa Hills didn't talk much about the Civil war but he promised to give  me a short sword he carried but Aunt 'Minnie" took it when he died and I never saw it again.  The sword had blood stains on it so he must have cut up a few "enemy" soldiers.

Now for my life-
I was born a blue baby and the doctor told my mother if I lived a year I might make it.

The first thing I remember was when my folks took a trip to Rogers, Arkansas to see his family.  I was 3 years of age.  There was  an outfit across the street making wooden bowls. A mule was going round and round to keep the machine going.

Grandpa Bryant died in Enid, Okla when I was four and I remember seeing him laid out in the living room.  He was a Methodist minister and traveled all around in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and kansas.  I've often wondered about the great number of Bryants in that part of the country!  Ha Ha!

Two of his sons had a hardware store in Rogers, Ark. and my grandmother Bryant died when I was seven.  My father and me went to Rogers to see her just before she died.  The family moved there after Grandfather Bryant died.  One of his sons came through C.V. when I was five on his way to Seattle.  He started a taxi service there and did so well that he bought out a ferry to Vancouver B. C. and later he and his sons built and sold Bryant Boats.

My family moved to Caney, Kans. where my father bought a 6 chair barber shop.  I was eleven then.  I shined shoes, cleaned the bath tubs(2) after men took their baths and cleaned the shop before the shop opened in the morning.

The next move was back to C. V.  I was 13 then.  I worked in the local newspaper three days a week.

One day there was a terrible storm in the hills northwest of C.V. and a water-spout caused a wall of water to come down Cedar Creek and washed out the Mo. Pacific bridge.  A few days later a crew came to build a new bridge. I took my 10 ft cane pole and a can of worms and went to my favorite fishing hole below the bridge to watch them work.

I was watching the men working when one of them slipped and fell in the creek. All I could see was his hand sticking out of the water and being carried by the current toward me.  As he got nearer I suddenly realized his hand was going to go right under my fishing pole.  I lowered the pole and put one arm around a small tree and braced myself. Sure enough the hand closed around the pole and I hung on for dear life.  The pole swung around toward the bank.  Two men workers came down on the run and one of them grabbed him by the arm and the two of them dragged him out.  They rolled him over a log to get the water out of him.  As soon as he was able to stand they took him back to the bridge where in a few minutes he was back at work.

I have never told anyone about this except my mother. I have written about my experience and am going to send it to Readers Digest.

I could go on and on but you must be getting bored so will close for now. Hoping you folks are all ok and will keep in touch.

As ever,
Frank B.
Letters from F. O. Bryant
(His memories of Cedar Vale)

(These are series of letters written by F.O. Bryant in 1977)

February 1, 1977
Dear Folks-

The most spectacular thing I ever witnessed was Haley's Comet in 1910-11. The comet itself went across the sky and was followed by it's tail which filled the whole sky for months with a brilliant shower. No stars, moon or anything in the heavens was visible at night except the millions of sparks above.

That spring Caney River flooded and we were living on a 9 acre farm near the Caney River.  The water was overflowing the banks and coming into our yard. Dad and I hitched our horse to the buggy and got the family in it and by that time the water was about five feet deep. Dad went ahead and I held onto the back of the buggy and we made it safely in C. V. with the water waist deep in some places. That year we moved to Stafford, Kansas where my Dad bought a shop.  I worked on the local paper. 

Teddy Roosevelt was on a trip through the western states electioneering for re-election as president.  Earl Akers owned the paper I was working on. He was Lieutenant Governor of Kansas and arranged for his Uncle to walk up the aisle with a teddy bear and hand it up to Pres. Roosevelt on stage.

It so happened the uncle had an accident the day before he was supposed to go to Hutchinson where the President was speaking, so they asked me to go instead. Of course I accedpted and boarded the train (Santa Fe Mainliner) for Hutchinson, 80 miles in 1 hr, 20 min.

I took my place in the rear of the convention hall and as the President came out on stage I walked down the aisle with the Teddy Bear. It was about 80 feet down the aisle and I thought my knees would give way, I was so excited at meeting my first President. He took the teddy bear and said, "You are the first one to come down and give me a teddy bear. In fact it is the first one I have ever owned. Thank you young man."

By that time I was so excited I could hardly walk back up to the rear of the hall. but he was not the only one who gained from the experience. I met three more Presidents ( Wilson, Hoover and Truman) after that, and two Governors, Warren and Brown of California.

From Hutchinson I went Grenola, Kans. where my father had bought another shop and visited my folks for a few day days.  While there I saw an ad in the K. C. journal where a plant in K.C. neeeded a superintendent. I phoned and was told to come on. I was 19 years of age. I got the job and married my first wife in 1918. In 1922 my only child Patrick was born.

I came to California in 1928 my wife having passed away in the spring.  I hitchhiked all the way from Oklahoma City to Glendale, Calif. where my brother Bill was living. From there I went to Oroville, Calif. My dad and mother and family had moved there where my dad had bought another barber shop.

I was foreman of a commercial shop there for 3 years.  Then I bought a newspaper and job shop in Roseville, Calif. in 1931. The "depression" really hit and I lost $3000.00 on that deal.

From there I went to Sacramento, Calif. and worked in the state printing office until 1947 when I heard of a good job as proofreader on Redonda Breeze.  I married again in 1948. I worked there until retirement in 1964.

In 1952 my wife and I drove east to Philadelphia, Penna. where she had friends. Then we drove South to Florida and back to California.
My wife died in 1970  and I married again to my present wife Nina in 1971.

I bought this home in 1968 and enjoy living here very much.  My son, Pat, came to California in 1955 and brought his children, Nancy and Michael.  He started working for North- American Aviation that year and has been there as an inspector ever since..................

Well, there you have it! There is a lot more in my life that could write about and if you are willing to read more and are not getting tired let me know.

As ever-
Frank B.
Letters from F. O. Bryant
(His memories of Cedar Vale)

(These are series of letters written by F.O. Bryant in 1977)

January 26 1977
Dear Family,

Hi, there you all:

Your most welcome letter came today ...

You may keep the original photo of the girls as you will treasure it more than I and a copy will be all I will need to show my family. They wouldn't know any of the folks but you do.......

Here is some more nostaglia: In the fall when the first freeze kept the bees in their hollow trees down by the Caney river my uncles' Karl and Bill and I would go down to take honey.

They would throw a rope over a limb or fork of the tree and tie the rope around me, under my arms and pull me up to take a look to find out how much honey there was.  they were afraid of the bees but poor me I never was, or didn't have sense enough to be, so being lighter than they I always got the job.  We took our share of the honey and left enough for the bees to live on over the winter.  We wore netting over our heads and long gloves tied tightly around our wrists so we got stung only a few times as the bees were dormant from the cold.

Yes, we had more fun hunting, fishing and trapping along the Caney River as it abounded in plenty of all those species in those days.  Seventy years ago the country was wild and so were the boys and girls.  Wish I could live those days over again.

It does my heart good to hear about you folks putting flowers on the grave of my dear ones. I loved them all and all of them were loved by all who knew them.  I remember Grandpa Hills funeral procession. It was a sad communtiy and some humor was expressed too. All the farm people for miles around came in buggies and wagons and there were about 20 dogs which came along with them The dogs stopped at every tree (and there were many trees) to christen them.

Grandma Hills, God rest her soul, wept for several days and had a sad look on her face for months.  She was the sweetest person I ever knew and dearly loved her family.  I only hope I have lived a life so good that if there is a hereafter I will be privileged to meet her and Grandpa and all the family again, God willing.  I have tried to live up to the good examples set by them.  They were fine people that stood up for themselves. No cream puffs in the family -not one.

The boys used to chase me home from school when I was about 10 years old and one day Bruce Aley was chasing me and instead of going home I ran to my father's barber shop. My father said, "what's the trouble?"  I told him and he said "go out and fight him if he wants to fight."  I had never fought before but soon found out and whipped him so bad his father came down and told my father not to let me pick a fight with his son again.

From then on I did not run.  The boys were confused by this and the word went around that Frank could fight so no more chasing.

All my uncles were crack shots with a rifle and one year my three uncles went to a turkey shoot in Hewins parks.  All you could see was the legs and heads of the turkeys.  They were only allowed 3 shots for $1.00. My Uncle Gilbert shot only once and shot the turkey in the leg.  My Uncle Albert shot once and hit another turkey in the head.  My Uncle Bill shot once and also hit the next turkey in the leg.  The men wouldn't let them shoot any more but we had two crippled birds and one dead one.  My aunts prepared and cooked them for Thanksgiving dinner the next day and the whole family(42 adults and children ) had a wonderful dinner at Grandpa's house.  The adults ate first and children last.  Holidays and dinner at Grandpa and Grandma Hills' home was an occasion we all enjoyed and looked forward to each year.

Here I go again getting writer's cramps.  When I get reminiscing I get carried away. .........I have more memories of old C.V. that may or may not interest you in a much shorter letter.

My very best to all-
Frank B

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