Friday, January 18, 2008

Life History of William Ricketts Smith, Part 4: Bill's dad Maurice and Baptism

(Part 3 is here.)

In 1930 my dad bought a dray business which he operated until 1939. The business provided us a pretty good living. It was hard work as most of the hauling was done with horses and wagon and all the loading and unloading was done by hand. The work consisted of hauling coal, gravel, ashes, lumber and whatever freight came on the daily passenger and freight trains including mail, parcel post and express as well as merchandise for the local stores. Ice cream came in big five-gallon insulated packers on the passenger train as did most perishables. My Dad seldom asked me to help him but was always happy to have me do so. I helped mostly when he had carloads to unload consisting mostly of lumber, coal or cement and handled the mail often on and off the passenger trains and hauling it with our model "T" truck. My dad was an honest hardworking man.

The property in town was three lots wide, a two-story house, barn, chicken house, coal and ice house, garage and a large vegetable garden. There was no inside plumbing so we also had an outhouse. My high school years were spent there. We had a milk cow and chickens and my dad had a green thumb so we always had a productive garden and we always had enough to eat.

Lodge Grass was my first experience of living in a town and I gradually became less intimidated by other people. When I was 15, I was baptized into the Baptist Church. My mother had been baptized in the Episcopal Church when young and she believed that you should be baptized by immersion instead of sprinkling, so she had been baptized in the Little Big Horn River a year or two before. Our preacher was a young man from Chicago, recently out of seminary, and wanted to have a baptism service at Easter time.

At Easter time in Montana the Little Big Horn is usually frozen over. Rev. Engle had acquired a large metal tank and placed it by the heating stove in the church. There was a well with a hand pump behind the church and some of the men spent several evenings pumping and carrying water in buckets to fill the tank. By the time Easter evening arrived the water may have warmed up to about 50° or so. There were about four or so of us being baptized. My friend Adrian Crosby was first and I was next. As soon as I was baptized I ran home, about two blocks, it was freezing outside, to change into some dry clothes.

(Part 5)

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