Visiting my Aunt Creta’s Farm as a young boy
While we lived in Idaho, we often visited my Mother’s sister, Aunt Creta on her farm. It was 15 to 20 miles, by gravel road, from Dietrich, Idaho. It was a pretty big farm owned by several brothers. In fact it had been several farms at one time because there were at least 2 abandoned houses about a mile from the house my cousins lived in. There were many things that made their farm so fun to visit.
The fore mentioned abandon houses were fun. There was old furniture: beds, phonograph player ( the old windup kind) tables, chairs curtains. There were attics and some of the window glass had not been broken. I remember one time when we stayed overnight my cousin Aubry and I were given a blanket and a pillow and told to go sleep on a mattress in one of the abandon houses. It was spooky. There was no electricity and the place was littered with stuff like a typical abandon house. But it was better than the time I ended up In a bed under a giant weeping willow tree with my cousin’s uncle Sam’s feet next to my head. I think there were three other kids in that bed with us. Two by Sam’s feet and 2 by his head. Let me emphasize right-by-his-feet; this was not a king-size, not even a queen-size and his feet were not all that clean. This was his summer bed, an iron post double, under the weeping willow near the house. He had a heavy army surplus tarp at the foot of the bed which he pulled up over the bed if it should rain, but it didn’t rain much in the summer in that part of Idaho. The bed was about half way between the house and the outhouse. . Looking back on it I am amazed that Sam was willing to share his bed with 4 grade-school age kids. He was not like your favorite fun loving uncle that played with the young kids to the contrary, I don’t remember carrying on a conversation with him or him playing with any of the kids.
The kitchen did have running water and a sink but that was all the plumbing they had. The outhouse was a 2 hole. I often wondered why they made it with 2 holes since I can’t imagine 2 people in there at the same time. Last year’s Sears Catalog was nailed to the wall. It served 2 purposes you could window shop while sitting and then you could select an uninteresting page to serve as toilet paper. In those days toilet paper was still sold as the littlest luxury and the Wise’s did not spend on luxuries.
In the farm yard were all kinds of old equipment that no longer worked. Old trucks cars, sheep camp wagons and tractors, I think there philosophy was that they couldn’t get what it was worth if they sold it so they kept it. At any rate it was a fun place for a little kid to play. I remember a model A Ford and machines that I really didn’t know what they were for but they had lots of levers to pull and cranks to turn. They also had lots of horses and saddles. We were each outfitted and sent off to explore with the admonition not to run the horses too much. I remember Aunt Creta deciding to get a little work out of me so she gave me the job of herding cattle. They had an alfalfa field which the cattle must not get into because it will kill them. If they eat green alfalfa they will bloat. But the ditch banks had lots of grass and Aunt Creta thought that if I would just chase the cattle out of the alfalfa and make them stay on the ditch banks she could make good use of the feed available. This was pretty fun for a few hours but got very tiring quickly and it wasn’t long until I was complaining.
Along the ditches were some huge trees that had been planted by the pioneers who first farmed the area. I don’t know what kind they were but they had big branches that went out horizontally and were large enough that I could walk on them without any fear of falling.
The railroad tracks went through their farm and we liked to walk along the rails and we would put a penny on the track when we heard a train coming. After the train passed we would find our penny mashed so flat you couldn’t tell it had been a penny. One day as we walked I noticed some shiny rocks when I picked one up I immediately noticed that it was unusually heavy. I later learned that ore cars traveled along that track from a silver mine and these shiny rocks were silver ore so we went back and gathered bags full of the chunks of ore that had fallen from the train. When I rode the train home after staying for several days I took a cardboard box full with me. As I was trying to get this heavy box into the overhead compartment on the train a man offered to help. As he lifted it he noticed the weight and remarked, “What have you got in their your gold treasure?” I was quite surprised that he had guessed what was inside.
While we were out exploring we came across an area with large boulders as we climbed around in them we discovered that there were pieces of small insulated wire of many different colors. We began collecting it and came home with fists full. We braided it into wrist bands and lanyards. That find entertained us for several days. I later learned that it was wire that had been used to detonate dynamite.
Amusement parks are fun but they are pretty boring when compared with staying for a week at Aunt Creta’s farm.