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Above: tiny hamlet of Ramah NM

Ivan Merriman Lewis  -  Growing up  (Ramah 1915 - 1937)        [To Print]

I was born two miles from Ramah, McKinley County, New Mexico in a rock house about three miles down in the fields; it was a small house about 18x20 or so. My father was Benjamin Tarlton Lewis, my mother was Lula Eugenia Hassell. I was born the 24th of April, 1915.

I am told that Tom O'Fallon was the post- haste messenger sent for Sister Elva Bond to be present at my "Homecoming." My mother had a problem caring for me because of her illness so I was taken to my grandparents. When the problem still persisted I was taken care of by my grandmother.

Thanks to the efforts of my grandmother, I could read fairly well by the time I was 4 years old. (My grandmother was born the 6th of November 1860. She was 55 years old by the time I was born.)

My father had moved to Bluewater, New Mexico by the time my sister was born June 1, 1916. Sometime after that they had moved back to Ramah. They were living in a little log house just north of us. (On the same lot.)

When I was 3 years old, on my birthday, a cousin about my same age was visiting us with his father. We somehow had a difference of opinion out by the north gate. I ended up with a bloody nose and ran to my mother who was quite sympathetic and fixed me up.

The next event I remember was the death of my mother the following September. My mother was born September 3, 1895, by the 14th of September 1918, she had passed on. I remember the funeral quite distinctly and stopping in front of Grandfather's house for additional chairs to put in the wagon for the trip to the cemetery, south of town. Then I remember climbing up into the wagon where the coffin was, and riding out to the cemetery. So you can see how it was that I lived all my life with my grandparents. I lived in Ramah until I was 19 years old. Only the highlights can I remember until I started to school.

I don't remember my father at all until I was six or so. The earliest I remember him was when he was tinkering with his car so it would run better. I remember the hood was off and he was tinkering with something, I reached over with my hand and asked him what it was and it bit me. I think it was the coil, it bit me good. I started to cry and my Dad laughed and told me I shouldn't get too excited about a LITTLE thing like that. (While I was dying, couldn't he see.) Anyway, I went back to the house and told Grandma, I don't think he likes me.

Anyway, he came back some time later and took my sister and I on a little vacation up on the mountain where he worked. He worked at the logging camp, running the loader and filling in as a fireman on the engine when the train was loaded and headed for the mill. My sister and I got to ride back to the sawmill sitting up on the side of the fuel box up above the train. We could see and smell the train smoke coming out of the stack. My dad was stripped to the waist and was putting the scrap lumber into the fire box. We were gone about a week.

This was in 1922. We were staying with the Bloomfields, in a little shack out on the flat. This is where they brought the logs and laid them out in the flat. There were big wheels about 8 feet tall that they hauled them in with. They fastened them onto the axle and hauled several in at once. There were several teams hauling them in. The loader was free out in the loading yard. Two guy's were fastening the two ends of the cables on to the logs. Then my Dad would swing them around and load them onto the railroad car. There were 20 or more cars to load before they would haul them off. When we got home we had a story to tell all the other kids about our adventures. The first day of school, I also remember our teacher was a red-headed Irish woman named Mrs.Munger. She was equal to her "red hair" and her Irish. I think she gave all of us a "licken" the first day just to let us know she was the boss. Anyway I got a licken and cried loudly and later ducked out and went home.

My grade teachers were: 1st grade, Miss Munger; 2nd and 3rd grade, Miss Earline; 4th grade, Miss Moore; 5th grade, Miss Mauffey; 6th grade, Mr.William (Bill) Jarvis; 7th and 8th., Mr. Leland Hill.

Miss Moore was small, lean, dark and a well-liked teacher. She was very young. Her right hand was deformed and she never took it out of her pocket. No one ever saw it. She was very handy with her left hand. She always, or nearly so, brought a long willow to school. We all developed a healthy respect for it. It seemed that it covered the entire schoolroom. She would be on the far side of the room and one would be pretending to study and pull someone else's hair and zing would go the willow past one's ear and study was considered immediately. We were in the top north room of the red sandstone schoolhouse.

The 5th grade was ruled by Miss Mauffey. She was of medium height and quite plump. It was her who undertook to whip several boys for some mischief with a 1x3 inch hardwood slat from one of the benches. Burl Merrill refused to cry, as all the others did quickly, and she nearly wore herself and the board out in her attempt. He never did oblige her by crying but became very angry and cussed a bit.

Bill Jarvis was unusual and peculiar. He instituted some very original practices. If the line we formed morning, noon and after recess was not strictly straight or someone's head stuck out too far he would descend the steps and try to knock it off.

Many Friday afternoons he would stop school and ring the fire bell. When we would get outside, he would have a race around the racetrack north of the school house and the winner would get to go home. Then he would match races and the winner would go home. Then we would chase him and the one to catch him first would go home. Sometimes he would suddenly call it off, and the rest of us not already gone would go back to our studies.

Mr. Jarvis had us thinking we were a little tough. When Mr. Asel Burke came from Nutrioso, Arizona, I think to teach us the 7th grade, he tried to be tough with us and got himself ran off. He would pull our ears when we would make a mistake in our lessons. He went so far as to sit on a leg or two, and bump our heads on the floor by our ears. Burl Merrill didn't take kindly to that and after school proceeded to beat up the old man. (The next day he left.)

About a week before he left he surprised me by suddenly reaching for my ear while I was reading. (He made us stand by his side of the desk while we read.) I was not aware of any mistake and I became instantly angry. I fed him the book, left the room, and started for home. Mr.Burke followed me outdoors and called me to come back. I offered to 'rock' him off the steps if he followed me, and went home. When Grandma found out what had happened she did not make me return as I had expected.

We had six more teachers in quick succession, within a month, I believe. We were soured on school teachers and dealt them all the misery we could, so we were quite sure by now that they were going to make it tough for us. The last of the teachers was a stranger, one Mr. Hill. He was a little hill at that. Most of the 8th grade boys were as tall as he. We thought he would be as easy to run off as the rest, as he was a quite pleasant little man. We had it made up among us that if he picked on one of us, the rest would take it up. So far, so good.

George James was the first picked on. He flipped a "Spit-wad" at someone and Mr. Hill saw it. He had smilingly told us what he expected of us upon his arrival, so we knew the test was about to be applied. He quietly arose and without saying a word walked down and knocked George out of his seat with the flat of his hand. George's seat was near the back of the room and Mr. Hill turned around with his back to the to the wall and looked around. Most of us boys had risen in our seats to assist the spit-wad flipper and some were nearly up on the teacher when he turned. He asked where we thought we were going, no one replied but continued to slowly advance on him. He then said if we wanted to play he knew how to play our way and the first one to get near enough would get the same type of play as George. Well, we had a little time to think about it and lost our nerve. So we had a teacher and he was a good one.

Later in the year Burl and I tricked him into letting us out on April Fool's Day. We told him that the kids were all going to ditch school at the morning recess. So we got him to tell them that we were going to have a holiday and line us all up at the door and then say it's April Fool, but to have it locked so we won't run off and we can all stay in at recess. Well he did, but I had a skeleton key and lined up next to the door. When he said 'April Fool ' I had the door unlocked and we all shouted 'April Fool to you' and ran out and went up into the hills east of town where we stayed 'till late afternoon. Aftermath: we got an extra recess or two inside at that.

Oh yes, when Bill Jarvis was teaching, I had a little scare. We were at the blackboard doing addition. We were in the south room, upper story of the old school house. Wayne Clauson was next to the door (west) and I next. We got to blowing chalk and patting erasers and Mr.Jarvis looked up and caught me in the act. He was quick to anger and he strode over to me and doubled up his fists and asked me what I was doing. I told him. I knew he was going to make a pass at me and I kept watch of his fists. I saw him move in time to duck, which was successful. He hit the blackboard. I was more scared than ever. He wound up with a hook which I managed to duck and he connected with Wayne and knocked him into the door which rattled and Wayne clouded up and rained. He again took aim but did not hit. He told me I had better mind my business and then went back to his desk and gave me more addition. I could not add the marks I managed to make on the blackboard. Aftermath: Wayne's mother chased him around the room the next day with a stick.

Gene Autry was my first high school principal, believe it or not. He was from Enid, Oklahoma. Not the movie star. He could sing and play the guitar, though.

Mr. Everett A. Snyder was from the same town and also taught. He was preparing to be a minister, but later joined the L.D.S. Church.

While growing up at Ramah I attended all Church Auxiliaries, was quite active in Scouting, having become a Life Scout.

The Old House

This is a description of the house on the property. The house was at the most, 50 feet wide by 70 feet deep, plus about 8 feet add-on to the south, all the way across. Up top there was an upstairs. At first this was accessed by a set of stairs that were inside up on the south wall of the kitchen up into the room at the top. Later it came up from the outside between the south wall and the porch that had been put on coming south from the house. Then you crossed the ceiling to a point midway of the upstairs, then in.

The kitchen was directly west of the living room, which occupied the northwest corner of the house. There was a pantry just north of the house which was just north by the well which gave a lot of coolness to the Pantry. We would let down milk and things that we wanted to keep cool.

Just west of this was a room that was Grandpa's bedroom in the end. This room extended out 4 or 5 feet to the west. Grandma and Carrie slept in the southwest bedroom. Uncle Rudger slept in the room just south of the living room. And I slept just south of that. (It was just a screen porch with canvassed part that I could let down in the summer time when it was warm.) It would get 45 below in the winter time. The house was out of rough-sawn boards with 1x4 boards over the cracks, no insulation.

There was a log cabin northwest of the main building about 12x18 feet. It had a "punching" bag in it. The kind that fastens top and bottom. There was other stuff there too. It was a catch-all room.

Further down the lot was a granary. Next the "wood pile" where the wood was hauled long and cut to fit the stoves. There were two or three huge arm loads cut daily.

Along the lot line was another log building, it was about 12x20 feet, this was our "blacksmith" shop. It stood empty now, with some dry corn and other things.

Oh yes, there was a cellar dug in the south end and covered up. Just south of that was the chicken coop with a fenced runway. There was another building, the "privy."

Oh yes, there was another "root cellar" just west of the log cabin. By it there was a plum tree with juiciest of fruit. There was another tree between the plum and the plum tree and the Granary. It was an apple tree that had sweet apples on it.

There was also a lawn around the house with trees on it. To the north of the house there was a locust tree. There was another big tree, what kind I don't know. There was another just off the corner of the house. I don't remember what it was, either. There was the walk a catalpa tree, another bush, then there was a row of three apple trees in a row south of the house. There were some gooseberry bushes and some currant bushes south of that. Outside the lot was a row of huge popular trees, growing along a ditch bank, they must be a hundred years old by now.

Now for the other lot, the lot where the "stables" are. There is a big tree or two that you can see. Also there is a big thicket of plums up by the north fence, running down the fence line. There is also a line of apple trees down the north fence line, hard apples, good for the wintertime. Another apple tree directly behind the stable, winter crab, a small apple, but very sweet.

Grandpa used to have quite a bit of land, but sold it off so he wouldn't have to take care of it. I used to own 15 acres out by the hill south of town. I traded it off when I left town. I used to own a 100 acres south of town, about four miles southeast.

I am going to insert a description of the corrals and the barn, before I describe the "Ranch." The corral was built out of an assortment of "poles" or trees about five inches or so in diameter, and 7 or 8 feet long, placed one on top of the other between two logs (which were placed upright and were "dug in" 3 feet or so into the ground and "tamped in" to the ground with the shovel handle). The main gate was 8 feet long by about 5 feet above the top of the gate on to an extension above the gate. This end of the gate extended above the gate about 6 inches or so. The wire could be fastened to the top of the gate thus holding the end of the gate up so it didn't sag when it got older.

We had a calf corral in the northeast corner where we kept the calves from interfering while we were milking the cows. There was a water trough on the north side of the corral where the "stock" could be "watered." There was another gate on the northwest corner.

There were three sections in the barn, where we kept the horses. We would unload the hay, loose, into the overhead parts of the barn, then pitch it down from there. There were three mangers in the barn. We didn't have doors in the barn, only a rope to keep the horses in. One day I decided to jump the rope, it wasn't very high. Before I thought it out, I jumped over it. As I jumped I hit my head on the top of the door, and the next thing I was "Coming To" laying out in the corral. There was a large "goose egg" on the top of my head, and a large pain to go with it.

Another day, a calf got out of the corral. Immediately I thought of a horse that had belonged to my father. His name was "Watermelon." I could call him out if I needed him. I wouldn't need a bridle or anything. He could catch a calf and turn him around and head him back. So I hollered "come here" a couple of times and here he was. I took him by the mane and we went outside the gate where I got on.

We quickly got ahead of the calf and back we came. The calf went through the small opening and didn't touch the gate. I could see my legs getting smashed between the gate and the outside, so just as we came to the gate, I threw my legs into the air, and fell off into the corral. Well, I was inside, the calf was inside, the horse was inside, with a badly bruised shoulder. Well, my triumph was turned into ashes. What do I tell my uncle, who now owned the horse. (The horse got the name "Watermelon" because he could run the quarter of mile and beat most other horses, thus winning the prize for the quarter mile.)

I remember the board fence in front of our place. About a 1x6 gate was upright 1x4s. The north fence was woven wire, with spaces about 3x4 or so. The south fence about the same, and the west about 1x4 vertically, solid, no spaces. When we went to school we would go out the gate on the front (east). But when we came home for dinner I would go over the fence corner (northeast) to the back kitchen door, which was closer.

One day I saw a sight that I never would have dreamed of. Burl Merrill was coming down the sidewalk poking a stick through the fence with Bond's dog barking at him from the other side. Now Ines Bond had told him not to do it, because it made her dog meaner. Now there was a gate about 30 ft up the fence with a large rose bush on either side of it, and Ines was standing with the rose bushes for cover. As Burl came to them Ines stepped out. She reminded him of her instruction to him. He just gave her a noise that was disrespectful. She didn't argue the point, she just suddenly reached up her hands and gave him a chop on either side of his neck. As he ducked down she gave him a knee in his groin; he fell on the ground. She was about to kick him in the rear when he suddenly took off on all fours, till he got to the corner, then he got up and ran home. Which was the corner of the same block. Well, that put a stop to his dog harassment. Ines had a big brother who taught her this trick.

We used to go over to the dance hall (Lambson's) and box, there were several of us. We got a lot of exercise doing it. There were no grudge fights. Also we used to have wrestling up at the old place east of the school. It had a lot of straw in it at one time.

Alma Lambson and I decided to go to Vernon, AZ one day. I knew of a motorcycle up there that was for sale. We didn't have a way up there so we took off walking. We had walked to Joe Day's ranch across the Arizona line. By then we were thirsty, very thirsty. There was a well being drilled there and we thought it was a very good place to get a drink. So we walked over there. A barrel was sitting there and we looked in and all we saw was a lot of mud. It was quite runny on top so we skimmed off the top and drank it. That was the best mud I ever tasted.

We had gotten back on the road and a car came by. It was some Indians and we hitched a ride to St.Johns. From there it was relatively easy to hitch a ride to Vernon. Teb Whiting was the guy we were looking for, he had the motorcycle we were looking for. He was demonstrating it for us and it threw a valve. Well, we didn't have the time to wait for a valve to be ordered and installed, so we returned. We got a ride to St.Johns and back to Ramah. It was 80 miles to St.Johns and about 20, 25 miles on to Vernon. It was summertime and we had the desire and the time to go there. Afterward it was tough not to have the motorcycle.

Wash day was Monday. We would heat the water (while getting breakfast) in the reservoir in the stove and some water in a tub on the stove. (We didn't have electric heating in those days, no electricity for lights, nothing.) Then we carried the water out to the washer. We had a washer that ran with a handle that you pulled back and forth. The wringer worked by hand, in other words you turned a handle to wring out your clothes. You tightened or loosened the wringer to get the tension you needed. You had to substitute clean cool water for the first rinse, then wring out, then hang them out to dry. When the clothes were all through, the water must be dumped into the irrigation ditch. When the clothes were dry, they were ironed. That took another day.

We grew up with kerosene lamps. First, you must buy the kerosene. Then you must have a lamp. Then you must have a wick, the wick must be trimmed so that it gives a clear light. Then you must have a "globe" to spread the light. Then you must find a place to put the light so that it shines on the page you are reading. A kerosene light requires constant tending, so that the light is constant. (These are the lights that I up with. It was only after I was in the last grade in high school that I had lights that I could see by.)

Alma and I had a fight one day after school in the ditch and the snow at the lower end of the lot across the street by Joe Bond's place. We must have fought for half an hour, 'til we were give out. We then got to talking about how much fun it would be if we could put it together, (instead of separately like our folks would like. We were both "little So and So's.") So we agreed to try it. We were ever after known as "Mutt 'n Jeff," because he was so short and I was so tall. We both had "22s" and carried them with us until we were out of town and ready to shoot a prairie dog or something. We got pretty good with them.

We were "rabbit" hunting one day and one ran around the hill, so he went one way and I the other. I suddenly saw the rabbit sitting by a bush, and was stopped to shoot him. Just as I pulled the trigger, a bullet went through my hat. I instinctively dropped myself down. It was Alma had shot my hat, thinking there was a rabbit stopped there. There was bush or some obstruction between us. We were both pretty shaken and decided then and there to not split up for any reason but to keep each other in sight. One "cottontail" and a hat with a hole in it. The hunt was over, we decided to go home

We wanted to talk to Hubert Bloomfield one evening about something, I don't remember. Anyway, he slept in the cellar by his house, it was cool in the summer and warm in the winter. This was in the summer. He wasn't there so we picked his lock and went in. There was his bed and underneath his pillow was a sack with a gun in it and several bullets in it. We took the bullets and unloaded the six-shooter so he wouldn't be tempted to shoot at us, if he found out who-did-it. Well, we had quite a bit of time. So we rigged up a bucket over his door with water in it to cool him off when he came in, and some alfalfa under his sheet to keep him cool. And left.

There was a horse named Trixie that I owned. Got her on a trade. I gave a five pound bucket of piņons, a pair of chaps and a bicycle for her. She would lie down, shake hands, kneel on command, and another thing or two. She was also "Loco," she would fall down and get up on her own. She would fall down on a high lope (I found this out later, to my surprise, and hurt). I was loping along with a passenger aboard, when she fell headlong with me one day as we were coming along above Bloomfield's on the path to Ramah. She not only fell but stepped on my ankle and my passenger also got hurt (bruised). It was the 4th of July 1929 or 1930. I didn't enjoy the 4th at all, what with an ankle that throbbed and hurt. She was a small horse, about two thirds the size of an ordinary horse, brown in color. She was a "cute" horse. What'd you think, did I give too much for her?

Seems like Stanley was always "thumbing" a ride with me, going down the "lane" toward Clawson's. (Stanley was my passenger, above). He was always getting "offside" and pulling me offside. I decided to look for his getting "offside" and help him hit bottom first. So next time he came off, I twisted real hard and he hit bottom first. Seemed like a soft landing for me. Anyway, that's the last he thumbed a ride.

When I was quite young my Uncle Rudger made me a sled for Christmas. I got a free ride down the "Lane" Christmas Day behind a horse pulling it with Uncle Rudger on the horse, who else. As the horse picked up speed to a gallop, the rope went round and round, and so did my sled until it threw me off. I got snow in my face and all over as I fell off. Afterward, I was happy self-propelling it. Or tying on to something that went smoothly along.

Watering horses in the winter was something of an adventure. We would saddle up one of the horses and take the whole bunch down to the bridge at the Zuni (it might crust over but it would run all year long).The horses would be frisky in the morning and be hard to contain, some would buck, some run but they would be frisky. Often I would have to hold on to the reins to keep my horse from bucking. There were two corners we would have to make. One to the left and one to the right. Once they had been around them you were all right. Returning was a different matter. You would have to beat them to the corners and head them up the right street. Also the corral was in the middle of the street and you would have trouble to get them to turn into the gate. ( There were fences all the way down and back).

There were bears there in the summer. Not too often, they had to travel in the dark of night. One night my grandmother had a sick call. It was down the lane about 3/4 mile from our house. She was there 'til after midnight. My grandfather came to our front gate a little after that and heard a noise coming up the street. He waited at the front gate to see what it was, there were two bears came trotting up the street and went on by, headed north. He went on down the street to where it turned west and turned to go west and met my grandmother coming home. She asked him if he had seen two bears coming up the road, he said he had. They had turned north up the road and disappeared. She had seen the two bears as she came out the gate where she was. She had waited for them to get some distance ahead of her before she took off behind them

(There is a bear story that circulated around in the early days of telling bear stories. This one concerns a man who had had considerable success with hunting bears. He had a friend who wanted to go bear hunting. So he told this fellow that he would like to get a bear. So, after several put-offs the man offered to take him and go. They went way up in the mountain to a cabin where the man had been before. In the morning the bear hunter said he would go out and scout around and see if he could find any sign of bear. He had left his rifle on the bed, he had only been gone about 5 minutes when he discovered a bear on one side of a bush eating fruit off the bush. Not having his rifle he turned and ran for the cabin, he turned and looked back and the bear was right behind him, just as he got to the door he fell down, the bear sailed through the door, the man, quick as a wink, jumped up and slammed the door shut, and hollered, "There is you a bear, I'll go get another.")

Wood hauling. When the wood pile got low it was time to haul another load or so. It would depend on whether there was a cold spell coming on. Grandpa and I hauled the wood that we cooked with and loaded the stove for fire in the wintertime. We would get the horses ready. We would water them and put the harness on, hitch them to the wagon and head for the hills. We would each have an ax and look for logs we could handle (load on). Grandpa would place a log on the wagon and see that it lay flat on the bottom. Then put on another and another until we had it loaded. Now all logs weren't even so we would fit them on until we had enough. Then we would go home.

Now our wood pile would be next to the fence line so we wouldn't have so far to throw it. Next came the chopping of the wood. We would cut it with an ax until we had enough for the day, whether it be one, two, or three arm's full and take it to the house and deposit it in the wood box (s). The chips we reused to start fires, also the bark off trees. We would take out the ashes and put them in a pile. (We used the ash for making soap and sprinkling in the outhouse.)

Bananas. Tom Bloomfield loved bananas. (He could eat a lot of food and never gain a pound.) There was a lot of guessing about how many he could eat. Finally Uncle Gilbert decided to find out. One day he called Tom to the store before noon one day and asked him if he thought he could eat three dozen banana's at one sitting. He said he could. Well, Uncle Gilbert said there was bet on as to how many he could eat at one sitting. Well, Tom ate the three dozen, Tom ate 6 or 7 more. Well, Tom said he'd like a couple of dozen to take home. Well.

Bicycles. Bicycling was one of my pets as a child. I don't know when I started riding a bike. I do know that when I was sixteen or so I rode my bike to Wilford's store. Out in the boonies a ways (8 or 10 miles). Nothing better to do.

When I got there, there was Burl Merrill. Think up something to do. There was a hill that ran south of the store. It was sandy for quite away, see, so Burl decided he could outrun a horse there. So he borrowed my bike and tied a rope on to it and ran through the sand. Well, Alfred was on the horse and ran him pretty fast down the hill through the sand. Well the rope got to wringing the bike and it up set and hurt Burl pretty bad. Well, Burl sat in the sand and held his head and my bike was kind of roughed up too. Grace ran out to Burl and held his head in her lap. He was always doing something like that.

I painted my bike one day. It had alternate black and white stripes running around the bike, and not level with each other. I also painted my belt to match. It was quite a sight. I did my 50 miles in one day, too. I went to Zuni and back which was 19 miles each way. Then I rode around to various places to make 50 miles. That was a requirement for the merit badge. I also earned 52 merit badges. I did not complete my lifesaving badge, so I didn't get my Eagle Scout Badge.

I got into a fracas one day with Lester Johnston. We were fooling around one Sunday, vying for the girls attention. He was flashing a mirror into the girls' eyes. I told him to cut it out. Well, he did. That was at the church house. Then we got down in front of our house still arguing I was telling him off about some pictures he had left for me to do. I had finally had enough, and I bopped him one in the stomach, then I hit him in the head; we wrestled around some. My Uncle Rudger undertook to separate us and Burl Merrill undertook it too seriously to pull him off and Burl and Rudger mixed it up for a little bit but the damage had already been done. My right hand had been employed in hitting Lester in the head, where I broke my hand, actually my index finger. It was hurting a lot and the fight broke up.

Well, I got a ride to Zuni where there was a doctor who fixed me up. He put my hand over a roll of bandage and taped it up. And let me go. It was a week or so before I want back to see him. When I went in to see him it was sticking up behind my hand. He and the nurse had a little conflab in the back of the room and pretty soon they both came back and undertook it to break my hand again. The doctor jumped up on my hand and broke it over with his knee. I hurt. I told the doctor that I was going on a mission and that when I returned he was going to find out how badly it hurt me to have it broken again. Well, I was angry as well as hurt. (It's still crooked today. This is what can come of not keeping the Sabbath day.)

Let us not forget that there are mountain lions in them thar hills. One day my Uncle Rudger came riding in on horse back with a story that is hard to believe. He said that he was up in the hills when he was jumped by a lion. He had ridden a horse underneath a tree and a lion had gotten a free ride on the back of his horse, and hung on for quite a ways, because to the horse couldn't shake him. He said if we didn't believe him to have a look at his horse. There was scratch marks all down his rump. Clarence Davis and I were up north of Ramah, fooling around and we heard a baby crying north of us. Now we knew of no baby up there. We looked at each other and took off for home. It was a mountain lion.

I was always climbing cliffs. There were number of cliffs for me to climb. The first one was up to the lake, the reservoir point, on the east side. There was a rough place on the east side of it that would stand it. It was about 75 or 80 ft high. It took about 15 or 20 minutes to climb. A little longer to come back down.

There was another place on the other side of the lake that was the opposite situation. We had to come down from the top side of it. You had to find a place to come down before you could get into the cave, about 6 or 7 ft in and 20 ft long. At this time there was an eagle's nest there with some baby eagles in it. We saw them in their nest, and the mother eagle flying around outside. The mother eagle came swooping down into the cave with her feet outstretched for us. We had to fight her off with our 22 rifles. She couldn't get a hold of them, and we determined not to shoot her, if it were possible.
The irrigation ditch that ran around the town was quite a diversity. It fed water to the town plots. It must be cleaned every year. It must be cleaned of the variety of weeds that not only grow around the sides of the ditch, and the accumulated trash, but dumped outside the ditch. To accomplish this we used several 'slip' scrapers and a team of horses to pull them. (A slip scraper is approximately 2 1/2 feet long, a little over a foot high at the back tapering to a little over about six or seven inches high at the front. It has a ball and socket type connection that allows the scraper to be lifted up and down and to be dumped. Two or three teams of horses made up the maximum 'team.' Several teams made up a ditch crew. The smaller ditches were cleaned by hand. (Shovels, etc.)

When the water was in the ditch, each person had an assignment of so much time of watering. It was up that person to take the water by opening the headgate and turning the water in. As they are through, turn it off and the next person takes it. There was a "water" master that keeps order in the use of the water. There were times that the ditch would be big enough to take care of several people at one time. Stealing water could be a serious crime. The first 'water master' was John Tenney, he was called Uncle "Aha he aha ha" because he had a hare lip and he talked that way. He was a fair man though.

When I was 12 years old I became a Deacon in the Aaronic Priesthood. This was quite an honor. I was tall and gangly. I stuck out like a sore thumb. I passed the Sacrament every Sunday and did other things that they did. I became president of the Quorum.

I also joined the Boy Scouts at the same time. I participated in all the activities; I took part in the Merit Badge program. I got 53 Merit Badges.

When I was about 14 or so I became eligible to go to McGaffey on a two-week Scout trip. There I earned several Scouting Merit Badges. I had a wonderful time listening to an older man telling how he became a 'lumber jack.'

I remember a time when we were late finding the campsite after dark. We were late getting there, it was dark and we could see the campfires burning up the draw. Trouble was we had to negotiate our way down off the ridge to the canyon below. It was dark and we had to jump from one cliff after another. It took us about thirty minutes for each one. We made it to camp all right.

Another time we were going up a cliff, climbing it. There were places where you could be that no help was available, and George Johnston, who was famous as the guy who would stop a climb, would hang up. He hung up. We waited up top, the group on the bottom climbed down and waited. Finally he got his courage back and climbed on up. Well, all was well, then.

On the final day we decided to put everything in the pot and go for a final exploration, and then everyone was supposed to eat of the final soup and then depart. Well, George was the last one out. He put a bough of a cedar tree into the soup. Then he came along. Well, when we got back and started on the final soup, it was awful. George was the last one in line for it. We determined it was him put the bough in the soup and we were all waiting for him to taste it. Well, we poured it out after he ate as much as he could and departed.

Another time when I was about 14 years old I was posted at the fork of the road where I was supposed to stop Apostle Richard R. Lyman and his party, and tell them where the churchhouse was that he was going to dedicate. (It was a block to the left and a block to the right.) Now it was that simple. Well, as soon as they came up the lane I spotted them and stopped them. When I explained where it was, I saw a twinkle in Apostle Lyman's eye, as he invited me to climb up on the running board and show them the way. When we got there I introduced him and his party to all who were there.

Alma Lambson and I were always going "somewhere" together. We almost always had our '22's with us. "Just in case." One day along about three o'clock we were up on the south of the Reservoir, a couple of miles and ran into Cal Clawson who had a deer across his saddle, and was walking along leading his horse. Well, it wasn't hunting season yet, and Alma knowing a good thing when he saw it said, "Well now, Cal, you know hunting season is not here and if you'll give us a piece we won't report you. Cal said, "Well, it's mighty nice of you, not to report it, and to think you would like a piece of the deer meat." Anyway, we got a piece of the deer.

The "Shalico," the dedication the Zunis hold at the end of the year, or thereabouts, we all go down there in cars as it's 19 miles down there, and very cold. They dedicate all the houses that they have built during the year. They sing and dance the whole night through. They have pig meat (sometimes dog meat). They have costumes they represent to amuse us with. They have a dedication ceremony that they go through. It's all new and strange to us.

School is somewhat a strange experience to those who go there expecting nothing new. There was a basement that we went to, in high school. I came back after lunch expecting to study and read up on some things before school. Some of the kids saw me coming and slammed the door on me. I tried the door and it was locked. I asked them to open the door as I had some studying to do. The door was still locked, so I backed up the stairs and took a run at the door, and to my surprise it fell down flat on the inside. As I was looking at it , who should appear but Mr. Sainsbury. Well, I looked at him and he looked at me. I said, "It was locked and they wouldn't unlock it, so I made a power play and it came down." He looked at me and said, "Well, I guess that if you'll pay for fixing it, we'll let it go." And so it was that I fixed the door, and so it was.

After school was the time for fighting. I had some trinket that I had flashed around. Somebody wanted it. So after school there were three of them started after me. I tucked it in my pocket and clasped my hand around it. They took me down and I hung on. Presently one of them got around my feet and I kicked him in the belly, right hard. Well, it knocked the wind out of him. Another walked around him to see how he was, and I kicked him in the side and that was two. So then I got up and ran for home. I kept my trinket in my pocket.

There was a lot of snow in Ramah in the year 1930. It started snowing the night we had the dance up at the church house on New Year's Eve. I remember we had planned a spectacular sight in the street southeast of the church, a little noise to go with it. I had discovered some powder in a wooden bucket in the log cabin north of our place. I had taken it up to the church house and had hidden it outside. (Now this was black powder in the container. I didn't know if it was loud when it blew or not.)

Well, we didn't have a fuse to set it off, so we poured gasoline on the keg and a little bit down the street a little way, and lit it with a match, then ran to the church house. There was two of us so as not to arouse suspicion. However, I was keeping track of the window, not in the window, but where I could see out. Pretty soon, (about 5 minutes) there was a medium loud "huff and puff" outside, as the sky lit up. (I was where I could see it all.) It went up about 30 or 40 feet into the air. Everyone, so it seemed, ran to a window to see what was going on. There sat the remains of the bucket burning in the middle of the road. This occurred about ten o'clock.

There was about four inches of snow by then. I wore no coat, I was in my shirt, it was comparatively warm by the time the dance let out. (Somewhere around one o'clock or so.) There was around a foot of snow on the ground by then as I waded home.( About a block from my house.) When we woke up there was about three feet of snow on the ground And still snowing. There was over 3 feet of snow.

There were two Indian boys, in their teens, coming home from McGaffey, got caught in the storm and froze to death, after a day or so in the snow. (It was later that they were found, laying together in snow) There were others that had a hard time with all that snow. There were some other Indians picking pinons the day before that were caught in the snow. There were a lot of cattle that had nothing to eat. There were a lot of airplanes flying over looking for people and stock. There were a lot of people that received food from the air, as well as the livestock with bales of hay dropped to them from the air.

I remember the fun we had with our sleighs being pulled around the town as soon as we got the roads open. We would tie our sleds together and be pulled around the block. It was fun to be on the last sled when we went around the corners, the last sled would whip around and it took a pretty good rider to stay on it as it whipped around the corner. ( I was only 15 at the time, so it seemed we had a lot of fun.)

We would cut ice from the lake and store it in "Ice houses" There were two or three in town. We had to make a road to the lake, clear off a place, and then cut the ice with an ice saw into blocks and load it into sleighs and haul it out to the "Ice houses." Then wait for summer to use it. This was the Winter of the Big Snow."

Working on the dam, restoring it, is a very tedious job. First, it is a trial to do with slip scrapers. First, a pattern must be laid out to put the dirt where you want it. First, you establish a circle of dirt where you want it. Then move it gradually forward so the dirt lays in, in patterns, so to speak. So that the dirt moves in just so.

After awhile you will need the dirt hauled in wagons. The dirt is dumped by moving two by fours from being flat to edge wise. This takes an expert hand. Then a wagon dump must be built with a center hole in it to dump the dirt into the wagons.

The most successful way is to find a dirt pile that can be cut down in the middle of it, and the top part built up, with boards or sticks of wood, to hold the structure together. It's a structure where the dirt is dumped on top crosswise to the direction the wagons drive under. It requires quite a bit of hand shoveling, at first. Afterward, it requires moving the dirt a short distance to load the wagons. Also it requires plowing the dirt that is so hard that one can easily load the scrapers. (If the dirt is frozen, for instance.) It takes a large plow with a bigger bite than the ordinary plow. It usually takes 2 or 3 teams of horses, or mules to pull it.

I drove a team of mules for John P.W. Bloomfield pulling the plow for awhile. With 2 other teams. My mules had an instinctive timing. When it was high noon, my mules knew it. They would stop and refuse to go until I put the feed bags on. One day they stopped before the rest of the teams were ready. The boss looked at his watch and they were about two minutes fast. I put the feed bags on and they were right. Two fellows checked their watches and the boss's watch was two minutes slow.

The boss was Walter Crockett. He was a good, fair man not a Mormon but a good man. This was a W.P.A. project. It was good till school started.

I once brought a team of horses to him at his ranch, from Gallup. I went to Gallup with someone in a pickup. Then picked up the team at the corral. I rode one horse and led the other. I had a lunch, (rather two or three lunches) to take me over to Ramah. I tanked up on water so I wouldn't have to carry any with me. I took a "short cut" through from Gallup to Ramah. It saved me about 10 miles, only 35 miles instead of 45. It took only 6 or 7 hours. Partly walking and partly galloping. I hesitated to trot, too rough. Anyway, I made it to Ramah that day

I headed for the Crockett ranch the next day. I don't remember how long it took. I do remember what happened before I got there. I was going along the road, asleep, as were the horses when the horse I was riding put his front foot in a "prairie dog hole" and fell down with me. I was pinned to the ground, under him. As we fell here came the other horse over me stepping on the horse I was riding, his foot just missing me. He came to the end of the rope and turned and looked at us on the ground as if to say, "what in the world are you doing on the ground." The horse I was riding, I couldn't get him to get up.

Up the hill a little way was a little Indian boy who saw the whole thing. He came down to see what he might do to help the horse get up and get me going again. (The horse was laying on my left leg and I was hurting.) He managed to get the horse to get up. I got off and looked him over. He seemed to be all right except to be hurt where the other horse had stepped on him. My leg was scraped a little. I was all right, thanks to the little Indian boy. I told him "ashyhey nei." I thanked him.

I delivered the horses to Mr. Crockett. When I told him of the mishap on the road he looked the horses over and said he would keep track of them and see that they were all right. I unsaddled the horse I had ridden, threw it in the back of the pickup and he took me home.

One Saturday I had invited Bro. Sainsbury to go piņoning with me. I had talked with him the night before. I went up to get him and he had Doris in back. We, I didn't invite her along so I got in the front seat with him. As we rode along I talked with him about everything. As soon as we stopped I got out and showed him some piņons in a good place to start. He got his bucket and stuff and took off. As he left he said I'll see you kids tonight. And took off. I hadn't planned on spending the day with Doris. So I was a little hesitant about how to spend the day. I started to pick piņons and put them in a sack. I was a little perturbed that he had ignored my signal. He had given his daughter to me to care for, for the whole day. Anyway, I determined to make the best of it. I picked the whole day. I found a rat's nest and cleaned it out. At the end of the day, she had no where to put the piņon she picked, so I put them all in my sack. When it came time to go I gave half my piņons to her. I sat in the front seat on the way home.

The chapel of our church had moveable seating where we could move them back for cleaning and dancing. We had dances nearly every Friday night barring plays or other entertainment. I was one of the foremost dancers (after doing my duty helping play for the dance). Bishop Bloomfield policed the dance; when we danced the Schottische I was prone to dance it a little wildly. Bishop would try to calm it down. (He was a pretty good bishop, though).

Afterward though, Bishop Clawson was a good bishop, too. I remember the 8th grade Senior Prom. There was some older boys who had started school after we did who did not graduate when we did. They swore they would break the dance up by drinking and roughhousing it up. Now we knew who they were and were keeping an eye on them. Robert Merrill, Russell Swatzell, Arby Swatzell, (Arby was not going to school but was going to help break up the dance) plus one or two more.

It was going pretty smoothly until Russell was dancing improperly with a girl. And Bishop asked him to straighten up or get off the floor. Now Russell understood him but kept on dancing out of line. Bishop Clawson started across the floor to stop him. Arby was dancing with another, and was keeping an eye out for Russell. Now about this time Joe Day, who was watching the progress of things "happened" to be near Arby. As Bishop just caught up with Russell, Arby turned his partner loose at Joe, never breaking step, and Bam Bam he hit Arby who wasn't looking and laid him out. By this time Bishop hit Russell and knocked him clear across the floor and into the benches on the sides. By this time Robert was dancing with another girl and was in the wing that took off into the steps downstairs, I had started up the stairs and heard a commotion and there above me was Robert hanging over the stairs, and my Uncle Jesse with his hand on Robert's throat telling him he would drop him over if he didn't straighten up. And I got me up the stairs before anything happened. Anyway, Robert straightened up and all was well. Three down and out. The dance went on as planned.

I was hoeing the garden one time, it was the corn patch. My grandfather had me hoe the corn. As I was going down the row I found a dime lying in the furrow, I picked it up and thought how careless my Grandfather was losing his money. I thought, well, I'll hoe it good and see after another row or so. The row after that I found another dime. Well another, keep on hoeing. After another, and another. Well, we'll see. Another. Well, I found another dime, and three pennies. That's all, 33 cents.

It was watering time, you know how I tell, by looking at the water master's timetable. It told what time I could take the water and what time to turn it off. So I went to take the water by taking out the head gate and turning the water in to the lot. Then turning the water down the furrows 3 or 4 or 5 at a time depending on how much water we had. It took so long to irrigate the garden. And the lawn, and the trees, and the other vegetables, and everything.

It took time to plow. First you had to get the horses, and harness them, then find the plow, then open the gate, then commence plowing in the middle of whatever you are going to plow. First, you make a furrow down, then tip your plow and turn around, then raise the plow upright, put it in the ground and plow back up the other side of the furrow and plow it out then repeat till the plowing is done. Also plow out the ditches. Put the plow away. Unharness your horses and put them in the stables and get them some grain, put their nose bags on and rub them down and take the feed bags off. Then give them some hay.

Hauling hay. First, you harness the horses, take them to the wagons, drive them over the tongue, hitch them up (meaning lift up the tongue, place it in the middle of the two, snap on then hook the double-tree on one side, hook the double-tree to the other side.) You then steer them by pulling on the right rein, turn left by pulling on the left rein. You tell them when to start by saying "Git up" and stop by saying "Whoa." This is very important because you are going to stop and start many times for a load of hay.

If there are two of you, one handles the horses and pitches hay on to the rack. The other just pitches hay. There are times when you need a stomper, a person on top of the load stomping the hay down while the two men on the ground pitch it. Then it is hauled to the stack and unloaded on to the stack. The quitting procedure is the reverse of the start up.

Once I loaned my tractor to Stanley Lewis to make a stock tank, he did all right except he used an error in judgment. He used a flat tire as excuse for not bringing the tractor out of the pit. That night it rained hard and the tractor was in the bottom of the pit mostly covered with water. Well, I fished it out of the hole and fixed the flat and towed it in to Dick Bloomfield's barn. Where I overhauled it a piece at a time. It took me nearly all winter to do all the work that it needed. Time and money.

I bought my first car after I came back from my mission in Samoa in 1937. I went to Gallup, New Mexico and bought a Model A Ford Coupe. [$135.00, $100 down and $35 over the next 6 months.] I took it to St.Johns twice before I got married.

The second time I went it was stake conference. Sunday evening, Daisy and I were sitting on the couch, hand in hand, we had just eaten. Her mother had just gotten up from the table and said, "Are you two getting married?" It had not been so long since I had asked her (in high school but we broke up). Then I said, "Will you marry me?" She said, "Oh, yes." I said, "When?" She said, "How about tomorrow." I said, "Okay." We went from there to the porch to plan it. We got to bed about two A.M. We went up to Jay's and Mable's and got them to come. Then we went to the courthouse and got the license and back home.

11 August 1937. There were invited: Hugh Richey, who was the Bishop, who performed the ceremony. Vivian Rencher, Tamer Jones, Elizabeth Stradling, Leigh Richey, Luella Richey, Jay Richey, Mabel Richey, Mary Ann Richey, Katie James and more. Tamer Jones and Elizabeth Stradling signed as witnesses. We had ice cream and chocolate cake. We had our picture taken afterwards. Daisy had a bunch of gladiolas flowers.

We went back to Ramah, where I found a house south of Bond's store. We stayed at Grandma's house until we found one. It was a two-room house, big enough, and that's all. It had a smoky cook stove and that's all. Golden Farr brought a piano that Daisy had bought. Also some other things. We didn't have a potty outdoors for a little while. Had to dig one.

The sawmill job at Box S was only part time. And paid $3 per day. I was stacking lumber in the yard. Daisy and I lived for a time in a little lumber shack at the mill. Then came into Ramah where I rented a two-room house from EA. Bond where we lived the summer of 1937 and into the fall.

We didn't get to the temple until the fall, 26 October, 1937. When we came back, Hugh Richey, Daisy's brother, offered me a job driving a John Deere tractor pulling a "tumble bug" to build stock tanks east of St. Johns for Jake Barth and others.

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      Life Sketch
      Letters 1937-38 - Ramah
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      Growing up 1915-37 -  Ramah
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