I Live With Uncle Elmo’s Family
I went to Bristol Junior-Senior High School again the first semester of my eighth grade. At Christmas time, Uncle Elmo and Aunt Madeline were home and came over to visit us. They had a daughter two years old, Ann, and they were expecting a new baby in the summer. Uncle Elmo was Pastor at Alfred Station, New York. Aunt Madeline was so sick they asked if I could go home with them and attend the next semester of eighth grade there while helping them in their home. Mom and Dad talked about it and decided to let me go home with them. That was an exciting trip for me who had never been out of West Virginia. The Pennsylvania Turnpike had just opened and our road we were traveling went under the Turnpike, which had two lanes of traffic going each way. I was really impressed.
When we got to New York State we began to see snow on the road, but we were soon “home.” The parsonage was huge, ceilings high, rooms spacious, a separate dining room and upstairs there were four, maybe five, bedrooms. One was Uncle Elmo’s study. I had my own bedroom. Ann had her own bedroom and Uncle Elmo and Aunt Madeline their room. Downstairs there was a “parlor” that was huge, besides the living room that opened into the dining room.
At church I met Jean Palmer who was in the eighth grade, also, and we became best friends and have staid in touch through the years. She and her husband came to visit us when we lived in Ashaway, Rhode Island. We always saw them when we went to Alfred. God has been good to give me good friends through the years. Jean came to visit me once with Uncle Elmo’s family after I went home. That was special.
Alfred Almond School was even larger – much larger – than Bristol. It had just been built in the country and opened the year before I was there. It had students from First Grade through Twelve. We had not previously registered, so I had to do that before going to my assigned home room. When I opened the door to my home room, everyone rose in greeting and I became embarrassed immediately. Then I realized that the soft bell I heard as I opened the door obviously was the signal to go to the first class. Now I must find my way to my first class. A kind student helped me get to the right place each period throughout the day. I wondered if I could ever learn my way around such a rambling building.
I found classes fairly easy but at times challenging which was good for me. Thankfully, I made good grades and did not have to take State Regents Exams when school was over.
I was on the softball team at school and loved that sport. I remember one very hot, sunny June day I had a heat stroke while playing. I remember after I quit playing and they were putting cool clothes on me. I just kept getting hotter and then got sick at my stomach. I avoided playing hard in hot direct sunlight after that experience.
Every Sabbath Eve (Friday evening), we ate by candle light and lit our Sabbath candle after our supper devotions. Uncle Elmo often led in a singing grace, afterward then we enjoyed our meal as a family. It was a good four months plus that I lived with Uncle Elmo’s family.
I especially enjoyed the Youth Activities at church, and I sang in the choir. I loved Uncle Elmo’s Ann and she loved me. We had good times as I played with her daily. I really missed Ann when I came back home.
While at Uncle Elmo’s I turned thirteen. I went home a teenager. For my birthday Aunt Madeline had made me a beautiful blue plaid jumper with a ruffly white blouse. I wore it proudly for several years. I seemed to have my growth by that time.
Dad’s school was out in May and mine not until after the first week in June was over. That first week of June, Mom and Dad drove to Alfred Station to visit Uncle Elmo’s and Mother’s brother, Orson, and family who lived in Alfred. Uncle Elmo had planned to take me home the next week and then he would take Grandma Randolph back with him to help when Aunt Madeline was in the Hospital. Not wanting Mom and Dad to leave without me, I went home with them! I had been away long enough.
Bond, Mae, Edna Ruth, Rex, Alois and Beth ran out to meet us when Dad drove into the driveway at home. What a happy reunion we had! Aunt Ada had stayed there while Mom and Dad were away to be with the kids at home.
Before I went to live in the Alfred Station Parsonage with Uncle Elmo’s I thought nothing about the size of our home. It was “home” and I loved it and I also loved the people in it. But when I walked into our kitchen I could not believe how low the ceiling was. I walked through the house and marveled at the low ceiling in every room. It was an adjustment being home again and sharing my bedroom with my three sisters. Nevertheless it was great to be home.
I Help Uncle Main and Aunt Gertrude
Before school began again that fall, Mother’s youngest brother, Uncle Main, asked if I could stay with them in Weston until the end of the first semester of school. They were expecting a new baby in the fall. They had three other children, two in school. Their second son had diabetes and needed shots daily. I did go to live with them that semester. Anna Margaret was perhaps three and we shared a bedroom.
The grade school was across the street from the High School a mile or more away from their home. I walked to school with Walter Lee and James Ian week days – the Grade School was across the street from the High School. I dropped them off, went to the High School and then joined the boys and we walked home together. We had to cross Main Street right in the middle of town en route each way. Uncle Main and Aunt Gertrude often thanked me for being so patient with the boys. They were easy boys to love and take care of.
While I was staying with Uncle Main’s, a friend, Dick Bond, from the church in Salem was visiting his Grandparents at Lost Creek. He asked me for a date taking me to a movie downtown. I accepted. Dick came on the street car. It ran behind our back yard. About all I remember about that date was Uncle Main encouraging his boys to tease us. Dick was as bashful as I was. I do not think we dated again. We were good friends. He was in Aunt Lydia’s home where I stayed in Salem sometimes and I went to his home some. His sister, Nellie Jo, and I were good friends. I do remember that Dick gave me some Jorgens hand lotion for Christmas. It was the first lotion I ever had. It smelled so good and it felt good on my hands and face. I do not remember giving him a gift.
While I was in Weston Ruby Oldaker was my best friend. Her twin brothers sang on the radio. They were famous in that area. I introduced Ruby to my family. She and her brothers came to visit, and next thing I knew Bond was dating Ruby and she had little time for me anymore!
I came home from Uncle Main’s just before Christmas. Aunt Lydia worked at Summer’s Variety Store in Salem. She knew they were hiring extra help during the Christmas season so I applied for work and began working for twelve or fifteen dollars a week. I gave part of it to Mom and Dad each week. Can’t remember how much I kept. They liked my work and hired me regularly on weekends and holidays. The next summer I worked all summer at Summers Store.
While I was in Morris School, Dad became a 4-H leader and started a Club at school. I joined 4-H as soon as I was old enough. 4-H projects were many and varied. Each had a booklet to read, fill out the blanks, and follow assignments weekly. We kept a required “journal” of time we spent working on our project and what we accomplished.
The 4-H Pledge we recited monthly at our meetings was, “I pledge my Head to clearer thinking, my Heart to greater loyalty, my Hands to larger service and my Health to better living for my club, my community and my country.” The four leaf clover was our emblem with a capital H filling the center of each leaf. When one project was completed, reported on or demonstrated and judged during a meeting, we could choose another project to work on. At the County Fairs 4-H always had a building full of projects of arts and crafts, sewing, canning, gardening, animal care – rabbits, chickens, pigs, calves, goats, lambs, horses. These projects were judged and County winners named. It was fun for me learning and also competing. My first sewing project included hemming a dish towel. Next I learned to use the treadle sewing machine safely, oiling and dusting all the working parts, then made an apron I was really proud of. In Baking I made muffins, biscuits and gingerbread that I took to the Fair one year. Do not remember if I got any ribbons.
I do not remember if it was in 4-H or in Dad’s “science” class projects that I made booklets identifying trees by their leaves and bark which I had samples of in the booklet. The leaves were pressed between pages of a thick book. I also made a booklet identifying wild flowers and weeds, etc. I loved that type of project.
I was in 4-H through Junior High. At least twice I went to summer 4-H Camp at Jackson Mills with other County children for a week. The first time I went was the summer after I finished Seventh Grade. Dad was on the Staff and I was thankful. I had been to Church Camp so did not get homesick. This was a much larger Camp Complex so I was a bit overwhelmed the first day but soon learned my way around. Projects I took and mastered were cooking, baking, sewing and canning. I did these anyway, but having to keep records faithfully was good for me to learn. I enjoyed each project I took. The next time I was in camp there were other junior high students that I knew so that was fun from the first moment. I was assigned to the “Cherokee” tribe team so I was a “Cherokee” from then on in camp. Teams were named for West Virginia Indian Tribes and we competed all during camp in games, dorm tidiness, co-operation, etc. There was a point system we were given the first day so we knew how we were being judged. Cherokees came out winners one year.
In Eighth Grade, while I lived in Alfred Station, New York, I was in “Campfire Girls”. Aunt Madeline was the Club leader and we met once a month in my best friend Jean Palmer’s home. We went on hikes, learned to identify birds, trees, insects, butterflies. We camped out overnight at least once, learning how to build a fire and cook a meal over the open fire. We slept in sleeping bags under the stars and that was special. It was on Jean’s grandparents’ farm.
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