As we begin the next chapter, the family is getting ready to move away from Fountain, Mi, to Lake Ann, in Benzie County. The first of many many moves.
(Start with Chapter 1, Chapter 2)
The Babies God Gave Me
Handwritten manuscript by Lula J. Wanamaker LaGuire
Fred went north to get work on another railroad. He put some of our furnitue in a grocery store as colateral so I could get groceries, and to offset what we owed there, and sold my large dresser so I had money to go to Lake Ann. I knew we would need the furniture to keep house with so asked the store keeper -- an old school mate of mine -- if he had any objection to my taking it with me. He said he had not..
Cap and Maude and their little Nina had moved in with me and my youngsters, and it was a good thing as Cap crated my sewing machine, (which I could hardly get along without) and helped me get goods to the depot. Also, we didn't have to go into different quarters while I got three babies and me ready to move.
Brother Scott here was a great help as he went with us to Lake Ann. This would have been a trial to me otherwise as we had to change trains and wait at a depot a long time. He even held the baby while I went to the restroom, and that was something as he was bashful and not used to babies. How I have wished, I had more time to help him overcome his shyness, and he find a nice girl to go with!
But with three babies it seemed my hands were full. And the little fellows started running off almost as soon as we were settled. The railroad was not far away and lovely Lake Ann was just south of the city of Lake Ann. Not to mention the threat of getting lost; the one that scared me the most. Of course, now it was harder to chase after the little fellows and leave a tiny baby alone.
We had a rather good looking house for those times, which had been newly papered. I bought cloth and made a large door curtain etc., and soon had it looking cozy and homelike. Fred got a job as section foreman and our credit was good again, so we started running in debt again as we always did. He did not want it any other way and laughed at me to scorn if I even mentioned paying cash for what we bought.
Lake Ann had been a thriving city at the time but about four years before we landed there, it had been ravaged by a terrible fire that took about half the town. The people had not recovered fully from the shock, but were barely trying to make a come back. A new school house perched on a high hill looked good and one day Orvie and a little neighbor girl thought they would go to school. There was quite a scare in our neighborhood until they were discvoered and brought home. My days were filled with sewing, cooking, washing, ironing, tending baby and running after those two little runaways. I bought cloth and made many pieces of clothing for us all. The house where we lived when winter came was not warm at all and we moved to the other side of the town in a warmer, more compact house.
Our stay in Lake Ann lasted only about a year and Fred was ordered to go to Cedar Run, a city so small it needed a round up to get it together.
When spring arrived in Lake Ann, Fred was working at Platte River where he had been sent for a while and one day it was so lovely out, son shining, rivulets tickling everywhere. I bundled the two boys up and let them play out doors. That night poor Raphie cried fretfully with an earache. Orvie developed bronchitis and the littlest got such a cough it seemed he would tear his tender lungs out coughting. I was alone with them and did everything I could think of, like glazing Orvie with turpentine and lard, putting warm poultices on Ralph's ear, etc.
I worked over them almost all night, but still the baby coughed frightfully, Ralphie moaned with his ear, and Orvie though more quiet was really sick. The snow was deep -- over my knees between our place and the next neighbors, but I knew I must get a doctor, so I wrapped up and waded over to the neighbors and finally wakened them and asked if he could go for a doctor for my kids. H was willing and did just that and by daylight one came -- They had a doctor in Lake Ann.
Well he left and I and the youngsters were soon resting but they were ill quite a while. The neighbors came and helped some and I sent for their father and he came home.
I couldn't figure out how the little boys got so bad a cold just in one day -- they must have been coming down with it before the nice day when I let them play out. My sister Grace came to visit us that spring and her boy had a very bad case of croup while there. Again, we had Dr. Shelladay and he came out OK. But sister didn't enjoy her stay very much and soon left for her home in Kalkaska - I believe that is where they lived then.
I had to hire my washing done and an elderly man about 75 and his young wife did it for us. This was a great help and I finally got my ironing caught up. One day the boys were playing on some logs that had been skidded there and Ralphie caught his leg between two logs. The washer man's little son ran and called his father and the old fellow ran like a dear and went and pushed the log enough to release Ralphie's leg. This is one time he escaped injury. These people were real friends.
It was after that that we went to Cedar Run. Fred had been boarding with a woman name of Mrs Noris for a few days and our first glimpse of that sprawling "city" was at her home just under a steep high hill I had my three little fellows dressed as cute as possible. By doing my own sewing I could have prettier clothes for them than as if I bought them ready made. Even then we couldn't afford to buy an awful lot of material. Ralphie was in kilts. Orvie was in knee pants, and Dougie in short dresses. Yes, boys wore dresses then, but not as general as a few years earlier.
At table were, besides our family, the young depot agent, Mrs. Noris and her brother John, a queer old gray-headed sort of hunch back who was under her thumb. We all ate heartily and enjoyed a pleasant meal and Ralphie made everyone laugh by asking for "one of them things with a stem on," when he wanted a pickled crab apple.
After lunch we went to see our new home. It was not beautiful, I can assure you -- only a low, long, log house of two rooms, not a porch nor a shade tree and one acre of land. We soon were settled in it with only the necessary furniture. It did not take long to arrange our few belongings; two beds side by side in one room and cook stove, table and chairs, and cupboard in the other. At that time we didn't care too much about what we lived in as long as we all could be together.
I began to get acquainted with our neighbors a few at a time. Good, friendly, homey folks. We learned to like them all. Fred plowed up some ground and we had a garden -- seems I can still hear him cursing that team as he drove them, so loudly that all the neighbors could hear and be regaled by his profanity. I felt sorry for those horses, of course. They didn't understand.
I don't remember much about the garden, only one day I picked a mess of peas in the hot sun with my head aching fit to kill.
The store was a quarter mile from there and I'd put two babies in the buggy and push them over while the oldest walked and we would do our trading.
Mrs. Wynkoop had lovely cloth and embroidery, etc. and it was a temptation for me to buy and I made two lovely blouses for the older boys with tucked fronts and embroidered collars, and a lovely white dress for the baby, all tucks insertion and embroidery. Yes and even blue ribbon drawn thru the insertion. My next two or three babies helped wear it out. But I knew I must not buy too heavily -- but did get what we needed.
Mrs. Wynkoop was a pretty woman and her man had three sons and ran the store and the town you might say.
We did not stay in the log shack very long as it was a little isolated, but sold it and moved over near the store where they sold dry goods, groceries, meats, clothing and shoes. We even bought our milk and coal from them. Well, it was nice to have everything handy -- and when Fred drew his check, we either, he or I, would make it over and turn it over to Mrs. Wynkoop. Sometimes we had a little change coming back. If not I'd ask her if I could keep back dollars, as we needed it for a doctor or something.
There was no doctor there and we had no money for doctor bills any way, but of course teeth must be cared for, at least to some extent, and I had to have a new winter coat. I got one in Traverse City for $2; a 3/4 coat and real good for that price.
Well we lived from hand to mouth and managed to get by. Most of the young folks and children had a contagious disease I called Cuban itch. It consisted of painful sores on hands and feet. My boys got it naturally. And every day I bathed their sores in water with carbolic acid in it and sewed clean bandages over the sores. When the puss was cleaned away it left trenches in the flesh, an offensive sight. But when taken care of of they soon healed and the disease disappeared.
(From Wikipedia: Alastrim, also known as variola minor, is the milder strain of the variola virus that causes smallpox. ... Other names for alastrim include: white pox, kaffir pox, Cuban itch, West Indian pox, milk pox, and pseudovariola.)
Little Tommy Wynkoop about Orvie's age, ran about with raw sores uncovered. He played at will around Cedar Run Creek and had little care. But when someone asked Mrs. Wynkoop if she was not afraid something would happen to him, she remarked, "Oh, the devil takes care of his own."
Her older boy and Tommy were not exactly normal and the middle boy who was real good, loving, smart, broke his nose playing ball and spoiled his good looks! Some children grow up to amount to something even in spite of careless parents. People had a lot to say about Mrs. W. and I guess she thought she might as well give them something to talk about. She was a rather good neighbor.
Continue reading - CHAPTER 4 .