Monday, October 1, 2012

Amanuensis Monday--Elsie Crocker’s Manuscript, Part 3: Staying with Walter Hawks

In this third installment of her manuscript, Elsie Crocker tells about some of Walter and Flora Underwood’s experiences once they reached their destination. They had already traveled halfway around the world, from England to the western United States, and were finally going to meet Walter Hawkes, whose letters and promise of a sack of tobacco had convinced them to make the journey.

Incidentally, Elsie gives their place of residence as Idaho Falls, Idaho. However, both the 1900 and 1910 censuses give his residence as Hyde Park, in Cache County, Utah. While it is conceivable that Elsie made an error in this claim—which would be understandable considering that she was writing about events that occurred before her own birth—there is also the possibility that the Hawkes family indeed spent some time in Idaho Falls. It is certain that they did have some connections to Idaho. Hyde Park itself is not far from the Idaho border. Moreover, the 1900 census gives the birthplace of Walter Hawkes’ daughter Madia Hawkes (born June 1888) as Idaho. And finally, the 1913 land owners directory for Pocatello, Idaho includes Walter Hawkes of Hyde Park, Utah. By 1920 and 1930, the family is residing in Preston, Franklin, Idaho.

Finally they were reaching their destination, Idaho Falls, Idaho. This was a much larger city than some of the cities they had traveled thru.

Mother, at last was relieved, to know she was going to stay put for a while. They were dead tired, to freshen and to rest for a while would be welcomed. Up to now the journey wasn’t anything to write home about. Mother was waiting to write to her folks, but to tell them about their experiences, her folks wouldn’t understand. She was afraid it would upset them. She was afraid they would want her to come back home. Therefore not many passed between them.

In Idaho Falls, by asking around they soon found Dads cousin. He was well known. His name was Walter Hawks. Everyone was glad the journey was over.

The Hawks seemed so happy the folks had arrived safe and sound. They were received with open arms. They made a big fuss over my brother Walter. I was especially refreshing to get a good bath.

After a while Walter Hawks said “Gee, Walter, I must give you, your sack of tobacco, that I have saved for you.” He handed my dad, a sack of tobacco, but it was a sack of Bull Durm. In England a sack is 100 lbs. He had come all this way for a sack about three inches by four inches and drawn at the top with a draw string. The sack weight about three or four ounces. Mother said you “should have seen Dad’s face, when he saw this tiny sack. This sack the men carried in their pockets, when they went to work. They used to roll their own cigarettes.

I bet my poor dad was disappointed, he had come all this way for a small sack of “Bull Drum”. I do honestly think the promise of this sack of Bull Durm, brought my mom to America.

Dad made light of it and joked about being such a fool. I’m sure it wasn’t the tobacco but the size of the sack.

Dad’s cousin had an upstair apartment ready for them. There were glad to have a place to stay, and such nice people to visit with. This is the first time they had felt comfortable since leaving England.

Dad worked odd jobs, plowing, planting and building fences and so forth. He was happy and worked hard, feeling he was doing things he hadn’t ever done before. Seeing the seed he had planted growing into something to eat. He was doing something worth while.

He did things he thought impossible, like plowing. A person ran behind a one horse plow or sometimes a two horse. You would put the reins over your head and around your neck. You held the two handle plow with both hands, to keep it right in the furlough. The horse was hitched to the plough, infront. It was hard work holding the plow in the furlough, keep it deep enough. After the plowing was done, it had to be disced, that’s chopping up the clods, a harrow was used to level it. Then the real work began, the handwork, making rows planting, watering and hoeing the weeds sometimes thinning. If you thined the small plants the others grew larger. Of course if the thin ones were large enough we would cook them and eat them.

Dad always told us “Where’s there a will there’s a way”

One day Dad’s cousin gave Dad a 100 lb. sack of corn, (we used to call them a gunny sack). They were insulted as in England corn was pig’s food. “What to do with it?” They decided the only place they had was under the bed. So under the bed it went. They had to hide so the cousins couldn’t see it when they came to the apartment. Mom and Dad was afraid their cousins would think they didn’t appreciate their thoughtfulness.

In the meantime Mother was learning to bake bread sew enough to mend their clothes. She was baking bread real good.

Time went by, what’s that smell? Well checking found it to be the corn under the bed. The corn was spoiling. “Oh what to do” They couldn’t carry it doun the stairs, as those kind people would see them. As time went by the smell got worse. So one night they stayed up until midnight. It was dark and everyone in bed and hopefully asleep. Dad very carefully carried that sack doun the stairs. No one saw him and no one ever knew, what he did with it. Mother never asked him what he had done with it. It was such a relief to get it from under the bed. They opened the windows wide that night, something that wasn’t possible before They were afraid their neighbors would smell it.

Dad has planted a lot of corn since and had learned to like it. To bad Mother never asked how to cook it, as I am sure they could have made good use of it. Especially when money was so scarce. Mother always quoted “To waste is to sin”. Or “Waste not is to want not”.
Now you can see fully why I have always loved the story of how my great-grandparents came to America for a “sack of tobacco.” What a punch line! By the way, in case you are confused by “Bull Durm,” that is Elsie’s misspelling of the popular brand name “Bull Durham.”

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