Friday, January 11, 2008

Life History of William Ricketts Smith, Part 3: Showers, Indians, and Electricity

(Part 2 is here.)

We lived in our oilfield shack at Parkman Camp from about January 1927 until March 1928. We had free natural gas and the water tank was right by our house. There was a "company" bath house and if you had a membership you could bathe there. The first shower bath I ever saw. My dad worked for one of the oil companies and we bought our groceries at the commisary in Midwest. Times were pretty good for us.

By the spring of 1928, my dad had saved up a little money and he couldn't stand being away from the farm any longer so we made a trip to Lodge Grass, Montana where my dad rented a farm from an Indian named Martinez. By the time we got started moving, the spring thaw was beginning and the roads were solid mud or rather sloppy mud. The engine went out of the truck and my dad bought another one and with all the other expenses, we were nearly broke when we finally reached the farm.

Our neighbor was an old Indian, Chester Otter Chief, and he painted his face. I had never seen an Indian before and he used to peer at us through the bushes along the creek. My mother was afraid of him, so was I. The fields were foul but my dad was able to grow a fair crop of barely but it was worth about 20 cents a bushel I guess. So he decided to buy some pigs and feed them the barley and maybe make better money that way so he moved us into town and we didn't have to ride the bus anymore. The bus was a horse-drawn covered wagon. It had a small coal-burning stove and would have been comfortable except it was so rough riding.

In the early part of 1929 I became ill with typhoid fever and came very near to dying. I missed almost two months of school and was a long time after that recovering my strength. The evening of the fourth of April brought a telegram saying that my Great Grandmother Zane had passed away. The same year the town of Lodge Grass incorporated and installed a light plant bringing us the first electric lights we ever had in our home. Also in 1929 my Grandfather Fox bought a farm on Owl Creek southeast of Lodge Grass and a house in town in which we lived for ten years.

(Part 4)

1 comment:

  1. I just dropped by to say hello. I'll come back when I have a few minutes (have to get the last one off to school and me off to work) to catchup.