I inherited most of my Mother’s writing. She had done much of her writing on PC’s and DOS on the old five inch floppies. In transferring the files from DOS to Macintosh and from Word to OpenOffice, some of the formatting was lost. Someday, I may go back and edit this further but for now, I am posting as is with the formatting problems intact.

 

THE STORY OF MY LIFE

 

BY NUDEL

 

This  is  going  to  be  a  very bitter and angry book.  I don’t  know why anyone would want to read it.  My advice, is to throw  it  in  the wastebasket.  I have lived for over seventy-five  years,  and each year I have grown more angry, resentful, hateful.   I can’t imagine why I have such a wonderful husband, who  never  fails to tell me he loves me each day–usually many times.   When  I  ask  him  “Why?” as I usually do, he answers, “Because  you are a sweet little darlin.'”  I always tell him I

am  not  sweet, and he answers that he ought to know because he has  lived  with me for all these years, (now 28), and he knows how  generous,  kind,  and   considerate I am.  Of course, that sounds  great.   He  has always been one to uplift me and build my  self-esteem.   I  know  he  is  sincere,  but  it is almost impossible  for  me  to believe that he really can see anything sweet, kind or generous in me.  I am a very hateful person. Surely  no  one can be anything other than evil, and be so ull  of  hate  as  I  am.   I  hate everything.  I hate almost everybody.   I  hate  the  wind.   I hate the cold.  I hate the heat.   I  hate  the  dust.   I  hate  the insects.  I hate hayfever.   I  hate  headaches.  I hate to work.  I hate injustice and  pain, and fear, and heartache, and disappointment, and all the  things  that make people unhappy.  It’s a screwd-up world.  t’s a mess!

Everybody  other  than  me, is a damn-fool.  Come to think of  it, I am a damn-fool, too.  That doesn’t make it any easier to  stand  all  the other damn-fools.  I don’t like anybody.  I don’t  even  like kids.  I don’t like dogs.  I don’t like cats, and  I don’t like old people.  No one could possibly be a sweet darlin’  who  doesn’t  like  kids  and  old  people.   Is there anything  I do like?  Yes, I like rivers and trees, and horses, and goats, and deer, and wolves, and birds.  I like good music–just   the   kind   I   like.    I  like  kindness,  neatness, consideration,  good  judgment,  intelligence,  information.  I  like  striving  for  excellence–in  others.   I  don’t want to strive for anything.

Maybe  my  liking for kindness was learned from my mother.  I  resent my mother, because she never showed any affection for me,  or  approval.  I resent that very much.  On the othr hnad, I  recognize  that  she was a very fine and wise woman.  My dad was  brilliant–and  crazy–but my mother was wise.  I remember when  we  lived  at  the  “Green  Place,”  where  there were no screens  on  the  doors,  how my mother used to hate the flies.  She  would  keep  the doors  closed until she almost roasted in the  hot  summer time, in order to shut out a few of the flies.  Even  hating  them  so,  she would shudder and remark about how burning  was  too  bad for any  living thing, when my dad would get  up  in  the  morning, while the flies were immobilized all over  the  ceiling,  and take a lighted piece of paper and burn them.   Also,  even  though  my mother hated ticks to the point that  she  would  literally  get  sick  when  she saw  one, she didn’t  want  any  of  us  to  put  them in the fire.  That was really  the  only  way  we  could  be at all sure they would be killed, as they are almost impossible to kill any other way.

Anyhow,  these things go to show how exceptionally kind my mother  was.   She  didn’t  want anything, however menacing, or excecrable,  to  suffer.   I guess I got some of that from her.  I  hate  to  see  anything  suffer.  I guess that’s why I don’t like  this  world.   It  consists mostly of suffering.  I can’t understand  why  people  go  on  having  kids.  Seems to me the worst sin anyone could commit. How  or  why  a  gentle, intelligent woman, like my mother ever  married,  or  lived  with a man like my dad, I will never understand.   He  was  mean, ill-tempered, and disageeable.  He could  be  very  charming,  and  he  seemed to know everything.  That  wasn’t  just  my opinion.  People used to love to come to our  house  and eat brown beans, and mama’s light bread, instead of  the  good food they could have had in their own homes–that is,  when  we  had  beans  and  the  flour  for  mama  to  make light bread.   Many  times  we didn’t.  On the occasions when we  did  have  this  much, people came as often as they could, from miles  around,  to  eat and listen to my dad.  He could be very interesting,  and as I said, very charming.  He certainly was a different  man  when other people were around, than he was when we  were  alone.  If we ever happened to say anything the least bit  derogatory  about  him  in  the  presence  of any of these people,  including  my  sister-in-law,  Annie–Deb’s wife–they would  insist  that  we were just angry because he wanted us to “do  right.”   Ha!  Little  he cared what we did, as long as we kept  out  of his way; didn’t cause him any trouble.  And those same  people  who  admired him so much and basked in his charm, would  have  been appalled, probably, if they had known that as soon  as  they  were  out of our door and on their way home, my dad  couldn’t vent his contempt for them enough.  They were all “damn fools.”

Mama,  even  though  she  was  a  gentle  and wise person,

didn’t  seem  to  be  able to stand us kids any better than dad

could.   She  couldn’t  even  stand  to have us in the house to

help  with the constant work of cleaning, mending, washing, and

cooking  when she had anything to cook.  She wanted us to carry

the  water  needed, and she wanted us to carry in wood, and cut

it  too,  when dad wasn’t in the mood.  Occasionally, she would

allow  one  of us to bake a cake, or do some other chore in the

kitchen, if she could be in some other room.

She  wanted  us to help with the gardening, when there was

a  garden,  the  harvesting  from  that garden when there was a

garden,  and  the picking of apples while we lived at the Green

place,  where  there  was a scraggly, little, dry-land orchard.

Sometimes,  we  were  wanted  to wash clothes on the board, but

even  that, she usually did herself, rather than have any of us

“in her way.”

She  wanted  us  to  run  to  the cellar to take the fresh

milk,  when  we had any, or to get the milk and butter, when we

had  any, or to bring potatoes, apples, canned fruit and so on,

when  there  was  any  there.   I guess we had something in the

cellar  about  as  often  as  there  was nothing.  If it didn’t  happen  to  rain enough to raise a garden, or bring some apples

on  the  old apple trees, or if dad had got hungry for beef and

killed  mama’s milk cow or butchered all her laying hens, there

was sometimes something to eat in that cellar.

I  don’t  remember  of  my dad’s ever working a day in his

life.   The  older  ones  talked  sometimes,  of  his working a

little  in  the  cotton  fields,  the  butcher-shop,  or in the

woods,  but  even  they  usually  admitted  that  that was very

little.   It  was  up  to  mama  to  keep us alive.  She worked

absolute  miracles  to  do  so.  She never seemed to resent the

fact  that  dad  didn’t  work,  or  even do anything around the

house,  such  as gathering the wood, unless he just happened to

want  to.   She  seemed  to take it for granted that that was a

man’s  prerogative.   The  boys,  when they were home, were not

really  required  to  do  anything,  either.   They  were to be

waited  on.  They were to sit at the table and be served first,

if  there  was any food in the house.  Their clothes were to be

washed,  and  their  beds  to be made, and their food prepared,

and  their  every  need,  insofar as it was possible, was to be

met–just as dad”s was.

There  were nine children in our family.  Mama and dad had

had  ten,  but  our  youngest sister, Nina Belle, died when she

was  less  than  two  years  old.  The children, from oldest to

youngest,  were  Deb,  (Delbert),  Haden,  Ray, Bert, (Bertha),

Flo,  (Florence),  Hank,  (Lois),  Ole,  (Olive),  me,  Nellie,

(Nudel–noodle for years), and Billie, (Lola).

I  hated, and still hate, all my brothers, and my dad.  My

sisters  were  all wonderful people–but even they had faults–

probably  none  of  them as many as I had, and still have.  For

some  unknown  reason,  I always wanted to be “good,” and tried

every  day  of my life to improve.  I didn’t have much success,

but I never could give up.  Kind of silly, really.

Of  the  nine  children,  I was the “goat,” of the family.

One  might  think that that was just my opinion, and I had even

begun  to  think  this myself, when one of my sisters said that  she  knew  this  was  true.   Flo  had  told  Ole  that she had

thought,  at  first,  that  I was just complaining, when I said

that  everyone  in  the  family hated me, but later she decided

that I really was the “goat.”  Ole said that she agreed.

If  that  is  true, I wonder why Ole seems to be as bitter

as  I  am.   She  doesn’t  express her bitterness as openly and

often,  but  she  certainly is as bitter.  It seemed to me that

everyone  in  the  family,  and  everyone  else she met, always

loved  Ole.   That,  it  seems,  should have given her a lot of

self-esteem,  and  confidence.   It  surely  didn’w  work  that

way.    She  almost  never,  if ever, talks about her hatred or

resentment, as I do, but she shows her anger in other ways.

“I  don’t  feel that I have a right to the space I take up

on  this  earth,” is one of the things she says, that shows her

anger.   Another  is  “Why  did  I  have to be the one that was

really  the  damn fool?”  Deb always called everyone other than

himself  a damn fool, no matter how intelligent, well informed,

and  reasonable  any  of  those people were.  I told Ole, and I

sincerely  believe,  that  the  one  that was the damn fool, in

almost  every  case,  was  Deb,  himself.  I believe, that like

dad,  Deb is brilliant.  He has an extraordinary memory, and he

has  always  read  a  great  deal–so he is well informed.  But

information  is  not  all  there  is  to intelligence.  Deb has

absolutely  no  power  to reason.  He has absolutely no “common

sense.”   This  was  true,  too, of dad, Haden, and to a lesser

degree, Ray.

Just  as  dad  was,  all these brothers were exceptionally

charming.   Everyone  seemed  to  think  they  were outstanding

people,  smarter  than  anyone else, more capable and even more

ethical  than  the  average  person.   Ha ha!  Ethics, justice,

understanding  of  anyone  who  disagreed with them, was beyond

their  ken.   Everyone who disagreed with them was a damn fool,

and  that was the end of it.  Deb is the only one of them still

living.   Well informed as he is, you would think he would like

to  converse with other people who were somewhere nearly on the

same  intellectual level.  Not he.  All his friends were picked from  the least informed, the least educated..  In this way, he

could  “lord,”  it  over  all  his friends.  He could make them

believe  that  he  was  the most important, and smartest man on

earth.   He  loved  that feeling of being judged to be up there

somewhere near the gods.

When  he  was  accidently  thrown  with  someone  who  was

educated,  or  well  informed,  he  couldn’t be vehement enough

about  what  a  damn  fool  that  person  was.   If that person

disagreed  with  him,  his  hostility seemed to know no bounds.

He  couldn’t show his contempt enough.  He would not argue with

this  type, however.  He would bide his time, until he was with

his  “inferiors,”  again, and then vent his contempt for anyone

who  dared  not  think as he did.  His “arguments,” were always

toward  those  whom  he  knew he could override, or with those,

like  his  sisters,  and nieces and nephews, whom he knew would

not  dare  contradict  him.   We,  his sisters, had always been

taught  that we did not dispute the word of the older ones.  In

fact,  I  was  scared  to  death  of  all  of  my brothers, and

believed  I  didn’t  have  any  right watsoever to cross any of

them.   All  my  sisters  were  quite  a lot the same way, even

though  some  of them did not, and do not hate Deb as much as I

do–or claim not to.

CHAPTER ll

I  was  born  near   Tulia,  Texas,  in 1913.  I was, as I

said,  the  eighth  child  of  Mattie  and   Haden Walling.  My

mother  admitted that she never did want any children, and I am

quite  sure my dad never did, either.  He almost always behaved

as  if  he  hated  us.   It is true, I think, that mama and dad

both  enjoyed  their  new  babies after they arrived, until the

next  one  came–then  the older  one was shunted over into the

annoying  “growing  up,”  group  and  the baby was the new pet.   Mama  always  carried  the new baby around on her hip while she

cooked  and  did the other necessary chores.  Dad liked to play

with  the  babies,  like  a  child with a new puppy, until they

cried,  or  needed attention, or until he tired of playing.  If

the  psychologists  are  correct, this is probably the only–or

one  of  the  only  things,  that  prevented  us all from being

completely  ruined  by  the  lack  of love and attention.  That

first  two  years, they say, are formative, and even though the

shock  of suddenly being no longer the pet, was devastating, to

say  the  least,  this  first  two years was probably extremely

beneficial for what mental stability we have.

The  fact  that I realize that my brothers and my dad, and

my  mother,  too,  were  certainly  molded by the same kinds of

nonsalubrious  circumstances  I  was, does not make me feel any

more  love  for  them.   Like mama with the flies, and ticks, I

would  not  do  any  of them any harm, if I could.  I wish them

only  the  best,  but  my  hatred  is  not  lessened.  This, of

course,   brings   up  another  psychological  question.   Just

exactly  what  is hate; and what is love.  Can one hate and not

wish  the  object  of  that hate any harm?  Can one deplore the

actions  of  others, and that abject malevolence,  not be hate,

but  be  love,  because  you  do  not  wish  any  harm  to  the

perpetrator  of  pain  and heartache?  I am not sure.  I do not

believe  that anyone could say that I love my dad and brothers,

because   I  would  make  some  sacrifice  to  keep  them  from

heartache or suffering.

I  can  remember  some  of  the things that happened in my

life  before  we left Texas.  I was not yet three when we left.

I  remember of sitting on the dresser, which was in the living-

room.   I remember mama sitting in a rocking-chair, holding the

baby.   That  baby  had to be Billie, of course.  I remember of

sensing  somehow,  that  mama  was  worried  that I would knock

something  off  the dresser top, or get the mirror, where I was

looking  at myself, soiled.  The Molotte girls were combing my

hair  and  making a fuss over me.  They were close to Flo’s and

Hank’s  ages.  I  was loving the attention.  I didn’t want mama  to  be  worried,  but  I  didn’t  want  the girls to stop their

attentions, either.  I honestly believe that from that day on–

and  maybe  even  before–I  never had another day without some

guilt  or  feeling  of  failing in my obligations, and what was

expected of me.

When  the girls decided it was time for them to go home, I

remember  of  them taking the little, dusty path that led under

the  wire  fence.   Flo and Hank were running up that path with

them.   I  was behind.  I ran as far as the fence.  I can still

see  Flo  and  Hank  crawling under that fence in the dust, but

couldn’t get under it.  That is as far as I can remember, too.

The  next  memories  I  have  are of arriving at Grandma’s

house  in  New  Mexico.   We arrived in a wagon.  Aunt Mary and

Lou  came running out, in their long dresses, to meet us.  They

helped  us  down, and there again, we were treated like someone

could  care  about  us.   They  were  genuinely glad to see us.

They  hugged  us and led us into the house.  That is almost all

I  remember  about  that  occasion.  One other thing, is that I

remember  of  looking into the bright blue eyes of someone–the

others  disagree  on who it was–who picked me up by the ankles

and  saying  “Hold  your  back  tip,”  brought me in an upright

position, as I held my back stiff, to be even with his eyes.

We  were really on our way to Montana, where dad and Haden

had  already gone.  We had come from Texas in the wagon, but we

were  to  go  the  rest  of the way by train.  When Billie, who

couldn’t  have  been  more  than eighteen months old, heard the

plans  to  go  on  the  train,  she said, “I can’t go.  I can’t

straddle the train!”

I  don’t  remember  anything  about  that trip.  I do know

that  all  of  us  kids got sick, with measles, I think it was,

and  that  mama  had  to  take us off the train and remain in a

hotel  somewhere  until  we were released from quarantine.  How

she  paid  for  this,  I  have  no idea.  We never did have any

money.   I  wouldn’t  be surprised to know that she had to wire

some  of  her  relatives for enough to bail us out.  That would

have  been  very  difficult  for mama.  She had a great deal of  pride.   She  never did ask anyone for anything, excepting in a

very few cases of absolute necessity.

I  don’t  remember  about arriving in Montana.  I remember

of  hearing  the  others  talk  about  it.   They  said dad was

working  in  a butcher-shop.  In fact, I think he owned a half-

interest  in  it.  He was a good butcher.  Dad  could do almost

anything.   He could have made a good living as a carpenter, or

cabinet  maker,  or  probably  even  building furniture, or any

one  of  many  other things.  He just didn’t want to work.  Who

am  I to judge him.  I didn’t want to work, either.  I know and

can  explain  why  I didn’t want to work but I can’t understand

why he didn’t.

As  always,  we  moved  every few months, in Montana.  Dad

always   saw  “greener  pastures,”  somewhere  else…anywhere,

other  than  where  he  was.  He had dragged mama, and whatever

children  they had at the time, around with him ever since they

were married.

Of  course  almost  all  the  work and worry of moving was

mama’s.   Dad  never  did  much of anything he didn’t just want

to.   Mama  was an exceptionally clean and sanitary woman.  She

never  moved  into  a  place  without  cleaning, scrubbing, and

making  the  place as neat as possible.  She never moved out of

a  place  without  leaving  it  sparkling  clean, too.  Well, I

shouldn’t  use  the  word  “sparkling.”   None of the places we

ever  lived  could  have been said to sparkle under the best of

circumstances.

Dad  sold  his  half-interest  in  the butcher-shop and we

moved.   Dad  had a falling-out with the man we rented our next

place  from,  and  wouldn’t  stay there.  Haden and Ray went to

work  in  the  harvest  field.  Haden was young and strong.  He

had  to be about sixteen then.  Ray was a scrawnie kid, so thin

one  would wonder how his back held his body  up.   They worked

twelve  hours  a day out in that hot sun and dust, seven days a

week.   I  think  that  some  of  the  older ones said that dad

worked part of the time, too.

I  still  have  a  letter  Ray wrote to me.  He told about  dad’s  going  to  their  boss and collecting their wages at the

end  of the week.  He took the money and went into town and got

drunk.   He  also  had  always  to  have  his  tobacco, and his

coffee,  whether  there  was  anything  to eat in the house, or

not.   More than likely he bought a few groceries too, with the

boys’ money.

I  can  remember quite a few incidents that happened after

we  moved into what was called the “Fred Lowe” place.  Mama and

Bert  had  managed  to acquire a couple of nice milk cows and a

couple  of  heifer  calves.    It was wonderful to have all the

milk,  cottage  cheese,  cream  and butter we wanted.  Bert was

alway  a  “tomboy.”  She and mama had problems over this.  Mama

wanted  her  girls  to be “little ladies.”  Bert didn’t want to

be  a  lady.  She refused.  I think it was probably a very good

thing  she didn’t want to be a lady, because the things she had

to  do,  most young ladies would resent a lot.  She always took

care  of  the  cows  and  calves.  She took care of the horses,

too,  when  we  had  them.   She loved horses more than she did

anything else in the world, I think.

Anyway,  when  I was about five, Bert began taking me with

her  to get the cows.  I loved pattering along after her in the

dusty  trails.   I,  like  she, enjoyed being outside more than

inside  the  house.  I spent every minute I could with Bert.  I

think  to  this  day,  I  have to give Bert a lot of credit for

saving  my  sanity.   She  seemed  to enjoy my company, and she

took  good  care of me.  When we found the cows each night, she

would  lift  me up onto Old Pale’s back, and I would ride home.

It  was a joyful experience.  Just being with Bert was a joyful

experience.   She  liked to talk.  She was very intelligent and

creative.   She taught me many things.  She didn’t know she was

teaching  me–there  was nothing pedagogic about her.  She just

talked  to  me about things that interested her.  Mostly how to

care for the animals.

When  we  got  back  to the barn with the cows, Bert would

send  me  to the house to get the milk-bucket.  Mama always put  some  hot  water  from  the teakettle in it, so that Bert could

rince  the  pail out before milking.  Bert usually sat me up in

the  manger  while  she milked.  I was afraid of the long horns

the  cows  tossed around.  Quite often, Bert would have to send

me  back  to  the house to get a five pound lard pail, in which

to  finish  the  milking.   When  the weather permitted it, she

milked  outside.   Even though there were times in my life when

Bert  got  irritated  with me, and one time she slapped me very

hard  for  I  know not what even to this day, I still feel that

Bert  simply  was  not  on  the  same level with other mortals.

Well,  actually  she  wasn’t.   She  was  more intelligent than

most,  and  far  more talented than anyone else ever realilzed.

She  never  had  any  idea, I believe, herself how talented she

was.   She  used  up her life and wasted her talent working for

wages–to  support  a worthless son and his children.  The only

other  person  who  realized her full potential for art, was my

son,  Jim Tarbert.  He remembers and often talks about the fact

that  she could draw animals with a few scribbles of the pen or

pencil.   They  were  as  uniform as any picture could possibly

be.   It didn’t matter what position the animal she was drawing

was  in–a  horse  bucking, a dog jumping, a rooster crowing, a

man  falling  from  a  saddle,  or anything else, it was all in

proportion,  each  joint  just  as  it  would  be  if it were a

photograph.

I  don’t think most people, even most artists, realize how

hard  that  is  to  do.   Even  Leonardo  Da Vinci, had to make

several  marks  with  the pencil, from which he then chose that

which  looked  most  right.   That  is  the  way  he taught his

students  to  do.   Bert never erased a mark, nor had to choose

among  them.   When she made one, it was already right–always.

What  wouldn’t  I give for a smidgeon of that talent.  Millions

of  other  people  would  give  a  great deal to have that much

talent,   too–but   few,  if  any  anywhere,  were  ever  that

talented.  What a waste!

All  of  us  were  talented.   Any  of the boys could play

almost  any  musical  instrument  they picked up.  They all had  wonderful  voices, too.  Ray had the best.  His voice and dad’s

were  capable  of  raising emotions one hadn’t previously known

one  had.   Ray could make you cry or laugh, or want to do both

at  the  same  time.   He could make you feel that you had been

carried  away out of your own body and existed without body–or

that  your  body had been reincarnated into anotherr completely

different.   Actually,  no  one could describe what he could do

with his singing voice–so I don’t know why I am trying…

How  hard  to  believe that a man gifted with such unusual

qualities,  along  with  his great charm, handsome countenance,

good  body,  beautiful  eyes,  strong,  white teeth, could be a

molester  of  children.   What  made  him  so  unhappy.  People

adored  him,  men,  women  and  children.   He  could have done

anything  with  his  life  he  chose.   He  could  have  become

president  of  the  United  States.   People swarmed around him

like  flies after honey.  There would have been a lot of energy

thrown  behind  anything  he  wanted to do, as all these people

would have backed him to the Nth degree.

He  died  a miserable drunk, without ever realizing any of

his  potential–without,  indeed, ever even knowing he had that

potential.   He  was  always  unhappy and depressed.  He had no

self-esteem,  no  confidence  in  himself  or  his ability.  He

never  got  to  enjoy all the gifts he had been handed.  what a

waste.

Who  knows  what  drove  him  to  molest  little girls.  I

believe  that  there  is  something in the lives of people like

him,  that  causes them to be perverted.  I have read that some

large  per  cent  of  all  sexual  molesters  of children, were

sexually  molested  when  they  were  children.   I  don’t know

whether  anything  like  this ever happened to him, or not.  It

certainly could have.

It  makes me wonder about myself too, when I think that he

came  within  a  hair’s breadth raping my daughter when she was

only  about twelve, and that I can still feel more love for him

than  I  do  for Haden, Deb, or my dad.  While I do not believe

there  is  a  more  heinous  crime than child abuse, especially  sexual  abuse,  I  supose  the fact that Ray treated me with so

much  more  respect than the others did, that my feelings about

him  were not so twisted.  While I do not believe that Haden or

Deb  or  my  dad  would have sexually abused a child, certainly

they  abused  me,  and all the other children in the family who

were  young  enough that they could manhandle them, or maneuver

them,  or  control  them.   Maybe  that is part of the reason I

don’t  feel  even as much hatred toward Ray, even though I feel

more hatred for his crimes.

When  we  had  to  leave the Fred Lowe place, Dad sold all

our  cows.  They wee Red and Pale, with cales, Sunshine, nearly

ready  to  calve  and  and  Tulip,  a  young heifer.  Tulip was

red,with  little  freckles  on her hooves.  Bert led me over to

her  and  stooping  down,  pointed  to one of tose freckles and

said,  “See  that little freckle?  Don’t ever forget it as long

as you live.

When  I  was a a child, I had terrible nightmares.  I feel

sure  in light of the psychological books I have read that they

were  a result of my fear and hatred of my brother Haden and my

dad.   Haden  hated  me,  and  he never lost any chance to make

that  known  to  me.   Mama  said that when  I was about a year

old,  Haden came home, after being away for several months.  He

came  over  and  picked  me  up and I squalled.  Haden was like

dad.   He  liked  kids  as  long  as  they  didn’t give him any

trouble,  and  were  fun to play with.  He couldn’t stand a kid

that  “squalled.”  Ever since that day he hated me.  He kept me

in misery any time he was near, for the rest of my life.

Haden  liked  Flo  and  Ole  and Billie.  They hadn’t ever

squalled  when  he  wanted to play with them, I guess.  Flo was

the  most  daring  one  of  the  girls.  She defied him now and

then,  and  he  liked  her  “spunk.”  Ole was so quiet that she

never  caused  anyone  any trouble of any kind.  Billie was the

baby,  and  she  too,  showed her spunk.  One time when we were

all  on  the train, Ole and Billie were riding in the seat with

Haden.   Billie stood up and when Haden started to make her sit

 

down,  she said, “I’ll spit in your eye!”  Haden laughed and no

one  in  the  family  ever  forgot that.  If I had ever had any

spunk it had all been taken out of me long before that.

I  may  never have had any, but I am inclined to believe I

had  had.   I  was  always called “feisty.”  I was the one that

always  fought back, other than to Haden.  I don’t know whether

the  family  disliked  me  because  I  was  feisty–that caused

“trouble”–or  whether I got feisty from knowing that I was not

capable of achieving approval.

In  one  of the homes we lived in in Montana, we girls all

slept  upstairs.   I  was  scared to death.  When we moved into

that  house, we were told that it was”haunted.”  There were big

stains  on  the  stairsteps,  and  we were told that they  were

blood  stains;  that  a  man had been murdered there–or that a

man had murdered his wife.  Of course we kids believed it.

Anyway,  by  this  time,  I was having terrible nightmares

every  nitht,  which  helped  further  to take all that “spunk”

Haden  admired,  out  of me.  I discovered later, that Hank had

nightmares, too, which kept her in a constant  nervous state.

I  don’t  remember  whether it was before we lived in that

house  or  after,  that  we were all out playing one night.  We

had  some  company,  but  I don’t remember who the company was.

anyway,  we  were all running and having quite a good time.  It

began  to  get dark.  All the company left.  Somehow, Haden got

Hank  and  me over to an old abandoned cellar and down into it.

I  think  we  must  have all gone into it at first.  Anyhow, he

got  everyone  out excepting Hank and me, and then put the door

down.   It  was very dark, damp, spider-filled, and smelly.  Of

course  Hank  and  I  became  hysterical.   We could hear Haden

laughing  up  above.   I  don’t  remember how we got out, but I

expect  Flo  induced him to open the door.  Incidents like this

certainly didn’t add to our showing any “spunk”

He  hated  Hank,  too,  and treated her in the same way he

treated  me.   He  caused  her to have a nervous breakdown.  We

didn’t   know  what  a  nervous breakdown was at that time, but  after  I  learned  what they are like, it was easy to know that

was  what  she  suffered.  She  couldn’t  ever  relax.  She had

nightmares,  too, and had “trembling” spells.  One time she was

looking  down  over  the  banister  and  saw Bert.  She started

screaming.   She  was  so  frightened  she  almost fainted just

ecause  she  hadn’t expected to see Bert there at that time.  I

don’t  know  what  all  he  did  to make Hank so nervous, but I

expect  that  he  started  in  on  her  years before he started

torturing me.  She is five years older than I.

 

As  poor  as  we were and as much as we moved around, mama

always  managed  to  keep her feather-bed.  She made it up each

morning  and spread it over with a snow-white sheet.  (We never

since  I  can  remember,  had sheetss for our beds, but somehow

mama  managed to keep that one, and keep it sparkling white for

her  feather-bed).   Most  of  the time that feather-bed was in

the  living-room.  Everyone in the house knew that it was taboo

to  go  near  that  bed.  Mama would not have any dents made in

it, or any grimey hands touching it.

However,  if one of us was sick enough, mama would usually

put  us  in  her  sacred feather-bed.  I had begun to have very

severe  headaches  by the time I was five.  I expect the causes

were   mental   and   physical–fear,  dread,  lack  of  sleep,

malnutrution.    Anyhow,  Mama  put  me  in  her  bed  at these

times.   On  several different occasions Haden came to the bed,

picked  me  up  by one  heel, swung me around.  “You don’t have

any  headache!” he said.  “Get out of that bed and quit puttin’

on.”   Mama never said a word.  As I said before, I believe she

and  dad were afraid of Haden.  Maybe he had taken the “spunk,”

out  of  them,  too, by that time.  He was seventeen when I was

five.

My  hatred  of Deb seems to me as intense as my hatred for

Haden.   I  can’t  understand this myself, because in many ways

Deb  did champion me at times.  I remember of calling him “good

Haden,”  and  Haden  “bad  Haden,” when I was little.  I really

didn’t  know them apart, otherwise.  They were gone out to work

 

sometimes  and  when  they would return, I never was sure which

was  which.   Deb  did  make  Haden  put  me down on one of the

occasions  when  he picked me up by the heel to swing me around

when  I  had such a splitting headache.  Deb was older, and had

probably  put  the  fear  of  God  into  Haden  when  they were

small.     As far as I know, he was the only person who had any

influence whatsoever on Haden’s terrible behavior.

When  we  lived  in  the  house with the upstairs, Deb got

sick.   He  was  in bed in a room downstairs.  We kids would go

in  to see if he needed a drink of water, or something,  Two or

three  different  times,  when  I did this, he grabbed my wrist

and   wouldn’t  let  me  go.   This  brought  on  contradictory

emotions.   It  scared  me  because  I was helpless.  But I was

flattered  that anyone would want me around enough to hold onto

me  in  that  way.  I thought (much later),  that it might have

been  an  opening to sexual child abuse.  My sister says–and I

am  inclined  to believe now that she is right–that he did the

same  thing  to her, and that she believes he was simply lonely

in  there  hour  after hour by himself, and wanted our company.

In any case, it left a pretty deep imprssion on me.

When  we  lived  at  this house, we owned two horses.  One

was  Old  Nell.   She  was very old, In fact, I believe some of

the  neighbors had turned her out to “pasture.”  Dad got her in

and  used  her  to pull the buggy and to plow the garden and so

forth.   We  also  had  a beautiful horse named  Rosenanti.  He

was  a  good  saddle-horse.   Bert loved to ride him.  Mama and

dad  worried  about  her  as  they  were not sure the horse was

safe.

At  this  time  Mama  still had a nice old coat her mother

had  given  her.  It was cut in at the waist, and flared at the

bottom,  as  was  the  style.  Mama also had a becoming hat she

had  been able to hang onto.  Once in a while, she would decide

she  could dispense with her everlasting chores.  She would get

dressed  up,  put  on  her hat, hitch up the horse to the buggy

and  drive away to “Aunt Betty’s.”  Aunt Betty was her mother’s

sister.   She  had  married  a Divine.  They were comparatively

wealthy  wheat  farmers.   I think they had had an influence on

mama  and  dad  in  getting  them  to go to Montana from Texas.

Mama  usually  took me with her.  She was irritated with me for

having  to  go, but she didn’t dare leave me at home when Haden

was  around.   I  hated  the long, dusty trips, but I did enjoy

being  at  Aunt  Betty’s.   They  always  had  good food, and I

always  was given some kind of treat, often an apple.  Also, it

was a pleasure to be dressed in my best clothes.

One  time when we went to Minnie’s, I was trying as usual,

to  be  good,  but  the  strong smell of apples assailed me.  I

said,  “I  smell  apples.”   Mama scolded me and shushed me up.

She  believed that I was bidding for an apple.  As much as this

might  have been like me, on that occasion, I was not hoping to

get  one–but the wonderful smell overwhelmed me so much that I

lurted it out.  I got an apple.

Someties,  mama  would take some of the other children.  I

think  they  enjoyed  going on these trips, too.  Minnie Divine

was  mama’s  cousin  and  they  loved  each  other.   Orion was

Minnie’s  brother.   There  was  also  a retarded boy, Paul, in

this  family.   There  were  two married sister’s.  Their names

were  Molly  Henderson  and  Nannie Bivens.  I believe they had

both  gone to Oaksdale, Washington, to live at the time we were

in Montana.

We  used  the  poor old worn out horse, too, to go to pick

chokecherries.   Flo  and  Hank  and  Ole and I usually went on

these  trips.   I wasn’t able to pick enough berries to make it

pay  to take me along, but I was at least out of mama’s way.  I

enjoyed  these  excursions.   It  was cool by the pond where we

went.   I  liked the bitter chokecherries–we were all probably

starved  for  fruit, and the chokecherries were rich in citrus.

I  even  got  a  few in the bottom of my bucket to add to those

taken  home  for mama to make chokecherry syrup.  The old horse

was  allowed  to  drink and browse while we picked berries.  We

usually  had some kind of lunch, too.  I don’t remember what it

was,  but  it did make the whole day seem like a picnic outing.          No  small  part  of my liking to go along was that we were away

from  my  dad all that time.  I wasn’t as afraid of my dad as I

was  of Haden, but I hated to be around him, and tried to avoid

him any time I could.

One  day  Old Nell could not be found.  Hank worried about

her.   One  of the neighbors reported that he had seen her over

near  the pond.  Hank and one of the others, probably Flo, went

to   look   for  her.   She  was  there,  bogged  down  in  the

quicksand.   Han  and  whoever  was  with her tried to help her

out.   Of  course  their efforts were worse than useless.  Each

struggle  the  horse  made, caused her to sink farther into the

mud.   She  lay there and died.  That was almost more than Hank

could  bear.   It  seemed to leave a greater scar on her psyche

than it did on the others.

There  was  a  heartbreak too, for Bert over Rosenanti.  I

don’t remember just what happened, but I believe dad sold him.

 

From  there  we moved to Carter.   We didn’t have any land

there,  or  any  milk  cows, even though it was in the country.

We  lived  about a mile from the town.  I was not old enough to

go  to  school,  but  once  in a while, I was allowed to go and

visit  in Ole’s room.  I remember two incidents there.  One was

when  the  teacher  told  the  children  to go to the board for

something.   I  went  along,  not  knowing what was expected of

me.   As  I  stood there I felt the warm wet urine pouring down

my  legs.   I  wet  my pants and wet all over the floor.  I had

been  so accustomed to not having any “spunk” that I was afraid

to tell the teacher I had to go to the toilet.

Another  time,  Ray  came  in  to  meet us when we got out

ofschool.   He brought each of us a box of cracker jacks.  What

a  treat!    A  special treat like that was something we hardly

ever  had.   It was delicious, besides the wonderful feeling of

having  it  seem  someone  cared about us.  That was the way it

was  for  me,  anyway.  Maybe things like that were some of the

reasons  I  could  forgive  Ray  for  his  abhorant crimes more

easily than I could Haden and Deb.

While  we  were living at that house, Hank and Flo and Ole

were  caught  in  a showstorm.  They almost always cut across a

field  to  go to or from school.  It was freezing weather.  The

storm  became blinding.  Ole was so cold she could hardly move,

and  almost  refused to try.  She had been with the older girls

on  another  occasion,  when  they  were  caught in a blizzard.

That  time,  dad  went out and found them.  He always got a lot

of  credit  for  knowing just where to look, and for being able

to  find  his way in the “white-out.”  When he got the children

home,  Ole’s hands were frozen.  Dad soaked them in cold water,

and  then  a  little warmer and a little warmer until they were

thawed  without serious damage.  However, to this day, when her

hands  get cold, they become almost paralyzed.  Probably one of

the  things  that  made  it  so difficult for Ole to keep going

this  second  time  was  the fact that her hands were so nearly

frozen again, and had lost all feeling.

Flo  and  Hank  got  Ole’s  muffler  from her neck, put it

around  her  middle  and  pulled  her  along  to  make her keep

going.   They  arrived  at  a  neighbor’s  house about two city

blocks away from our house.

The  neighbors  were  afraid  they were going to be blamed

for  Ole’s  frozen  hands,  or  for delaying the children about

getting  home,  so  they  were  not  very cooperative.  Flo was

always  the  aggressive  one in our family.  She went ahead and

soaked  Ole’s  hands  as  Dad had done, and probably saved them

from  being  completely  ruined.   Hank  stayed with Ole at the

neighbors  and  Flo went to get dad.  Dad went down and carried

Ole home and ministered to her hands again.

There  was  a  country  road  up between the wheat fields,

where  we  kids  liked to walk.  One time we were walking along

up  this  road.   We saw an old broken colored, glass door-knob

lying  in  the  road.   Hank and Flo told Ole and me it was the

devil’s  eye.   I don’t think it bothered Ole, but it scared me

out  of  my  wits.   One  thing that did scare Ole, though, was

that  the  older girls asked her to run up ahead for something.

Probably  some  game  they  were inventing.  When she had run a

few  dozen  yards, they yelled “That’s far ‘nough.”  Ole turned

and  ran  back  as  fast  as she could, crying “Where’s Farnuf?

Where’s Farnuf?”

We  still had a buggy, even though there were no horses to

pull  it.   We  kids liked to take the buggy out and coast down

the  hill  in  it.  The older ones fixed it up some way so that

it  could  be  guided  to a degree.  We wuld all get in it, and

start  down  the  hill.  It was exciting, if far more dangerous

than we knew.

It  was  at  this  house  too,  that Deb somehow had got a

motorcycle.   He  was  riding  it  down that same hill, when it

flipped  and  threw  him  off.   He was quite badly injured.  I

didn’t  know  it  for  years,  but  he  and Haden were drinking

whenever  they  could  get  hold  of  anything  intoxicating to

drink.

I  don’t  know  what  we  lived  on at that time.  I don’t

remember  of any of the boys or dad working, but there may have

been  some  work  in  the  harvests in the fall.  Bert and Flo,

young  as  they were had jobs when school was out, in the homes

of  people  who  wanted help with their housework.  Bert worked

for  a  family  by  the  name  of  Miers.   They  were terribly

stingy.   They  wouldn’t  allow  Bert to have more than one egg

for  breakfast,  and showed their parsimony in many other ways.

While  she  was  working  there,  also, Bert had to fend of the

advances  of  Mr.  Meirs.   She  was about fifteen years old at

that time.

Flo  worked  for  a family by the name of Fourboards.  She

didn’t  enjoy it, but didn’t have as much trouble I believe, as

did  Bert.   Of  course, as I said, Flo was the most aggressive

one  of  the  children,  and  would have made demands that Bert

wouldn’t  have. It always seemed like forever between the girls

visits  home.   It seemed like Heaven  too, to us younger ones,

when they could come home for a day.

I  don’t  know  why;   I  never  did  know why we moved so  often,  but  we  moved  from  that  house  to  Eureka.  When we

arrived  there,  we  found  a little house up on a hilltop.  We

got  into  it  somehow, and stayed there overnight.  Right next

to  us  was  a  family by the name of    .  They evidently were

French.   They  had  a girl by the name of Fifi, and one by the

name  of      .  they were close to Bert’s age, and they became

quite  good friends.  Almost sixty years later, when my husband

took  me  to  Eurika to see if there were any thing left that I

could  recognize,  we  found  the house in which the     ‘s had

lived, and several others that we recognized, still standing.

We  finally  settled in a little house down over a hill to

which  there  were several wooden steps.  For some reason there

was  a  barn.   However, there was no room for a milk-cow, or a

horse.  We  lived  right in town.  Mama did have a fine garden.

There  was  a  sawmill  where  Haden  got  work.  I believe Deb

worked  at  the  sawmill,  too,  for  a  while.  Dad, as usual,

didn’t  do  anything.   There  was a period in there somewhere,

when  he  and  Deb  and Haden worked in the woods.  It must not

have  been  for  very  long.   It was as long, I expect, as Dad

enjoyed  the  good  food they could afford out there where they

camped  and  the freedom to drink and do as he pleased, without

interference.   Mama  never gave him much trouble, it seemed to

me,  about anything, but she did hate for him to drink, and let

him  know  it.   I  don’t remember of their ever fighting about

this, but Ole says they often did.

The  boys,  Haden especially, must have given mama some of

his  money.   Anyway,  we  lived better there than we had for a

long  time.   We  had  food  on  the table most of the time.  I

remember  of  wanting  a pink dress more than I wanted anything

in  the world.  One time mama went to town and brought home two

pink dresses for me.  I could hardly contain my happiness.

Mama  took in washings.  She had to do all that laundry by

hand  on a washboard, of course, besides taking care of all her

family,  doing  all the cooking, mending and so on, and keeping

our  clothes  clean.    Flo  and  Hank sold mustard plasters to  earn  a  bit  of  money.  They did pretty well with them.  Mama

even  had  to  use  some  of  the  mustard plastars on her poor

aching  muscles,  in  order to keep going.  As I said, I cannot

imagine why she ever lived with dad.

.    We  kids had to deliver the laundry.  Once, when Ole and I

delivered  some,  we  saw a tricycle on a big, shaded porch.  I

ached  to  ride  it.  I don’t know how we managed it, but I did

wind  up  by  riding  it  up  the porch.  I couldn’t express my

thrill at that once-in-a-lifetime event.

There  were  some  people  living abut three-quarters of a

mile  from  out  farther from town than we did.  Thier name was

Gardner.   There was a girl named Aida, who was Ole’s age.  She

and  Ole  became  quite  good  friends.   She  had some kind of

speech  impediment.   She  had an older sister named Irene, who

was  about  Bert’s  age.   Irene was cosidered a little “wild,”

and  mama hated for her daughter to be friends with her.  Also,

there  were two boys in the Gardner family, Orb and Clyde.  The

boys  liked  to  drink and I think Irene did, too.  Bert didn’t

like  the  boys,  and  she  never  did drink, but I’m sure most

everyone  who saw Bert and Irene together so much, thought Bert

was as wild as Irene was.

Deb  liked  the  boy–or  at  least he liked to run around

with  them  and  drink  with  them.  They drove to Canada every

time  they  could  and  brought back bottles of whiskey.  Haden

liked  to  drink  too,  but  he didn’t spend much time with the

Gardner  boys.   I  think  we  have a picture, though, of Haden

taken  with the two boys.  Also, we have a picture of Ray taken

with  Clyde Gardner.  This picture shows how scrawney Ray still

was at that time.

There  was  a  girl named Hannah Broderick, who lived down

the  road  from us, too.  She limped.  Somehow, this frightened

me.   One  of  my worst nightmares was a dream that someone was

cutting  off  my  kneecaps–and  I  thought that was why Hannah

limped;  because  her  kneecaps had been cut off.  We never did

get  very  well acquainted with her.  Maybe her limp frightened  everyone else, too.  She always walked alone.

Next  door  to  us  lived a woman and her little daughter.

Their  name  was Sullivan.  Mama said afterward that the mother

was  crazy.   I  am inclined to believe it now.  We saw her out

nailing  boards  over  all her windowd and doors.  She said she

was  nailing them up, so that her husband couldn’t get in.  She

was  kind  of  a pretty woman, and not any older, I think, than

Bert.   Her daughter, Cora, was four years old.  She introduced

me  to  sex.  In fact it seemed that sex was about all that was

ever  on  her  mind.  I was appalled at first, but childlike, I

began  to  enjoy  the sex games.  I felt guilty, because it was

against  the  rules in our house to ever mention anything about

our  “private  parts,”  or  show  our  naked selves to even our

sisters  or our mother.  I began to play sex-games even with my

doll.   Of  course,  guilty  as  I  felt,  my feelings were not

really  very different about myself than they had always been–

I  had  always  felt  guilty  about  most  everything I did, or

thought.   I  thought  I  was  a “bad” person, in any case.  In

later  years  I  tried  to  draw  Ole and Billie into these sex

games, but without much success.

About  a block up the street from us lived a family by the

name  of  Welling.  There were four or five girls and they were

all  beautiful.   One  of  them  was  about  my  age.   When my

youngest  sister  died  while we were living at that house, she

came  down  one time and sat on a little bench beside the house

with  me.   She  told me that she thought it was her fault that

Nina  had  died.  She said she had hated Nina, because Nina was

prettier than she was.

Mr  Welling had a patch of potatoes.  He wanted us kids to

come  up  and  help  them  hoe up all the weeds from the potato

patch.   I  went  along.  I couldn’t tell the potatoes from the

weeds,  and  proceeded  to  hoe  up  as  many potatoes as I did

weeds.   Mr.  Welling  seemed  a  little  irritated,  and  kept

showing  me  which  was  which,  but  he never did make me stop

hoeing.

We  kids  all liked to play in the old barn.  Flo and Hand

were  good  at  inventing games.  There were big square cuts in

the  upper floor which had been used to pitch hay down through.

One  day I fell down through one of those holes, and fell right

on  a  stack  of  old  lumber,  where there was a nail sitcking

straight  up  through  a board.  The older girls took me to the

house,  where  I  was  taken care of–but what I remember best,

was  that  I  was scolded for being dumb enough to fall through

that hole.

Facebook Comments

Close Menu
%d bloggers like this: