Volume V, No. 1, Fall 1977
by Rose Lorance
as told to Vickie Massey
Life hasn't always treated Rose Lorance gently and yet, she showed no bitterness or anger--just a thankful acceptance of her opportunity to live and share her life with others. I enjoyed listening and was amazed at her ability to remember even the smallest details of her life.
I wouldn't know where to begin...
I was born south of Seymour about ninety-six years ago. That's a long time to remember. There was eight of us children--four brothers and four sisters. I was the youngest. We had a large two story house out the other side of Seymour when I was a little girl.
One of my earliest memories was a burn out--we lost everything we had, everything. Father always got us up in the morning. If you were big enough to get up at all you went to the table to eat. There was no laying in bed at our house. Mother had had a stroke and she couldn't get up. One morning after breakfast us children went back to bed and Father went out to the barn to feed. He happened to look back and a light was coming from under the window upstairs. He turned around and came back to the house to get us all out. He had to carry Mother to one of the neighbors.
We lost everything we had. I think the fire was started by a mouse getting a hold of a match some way. They gnaw on them, you see, and that starts the fire.
We moved five miles south of Phillipsburg and lived there. That was just Papa and me and Mother for a short time after we moved from Seymour to Phillipsburg. There weren't any large houses around us. Ours was just four rooms, one story. We had a fire place in our house, and our cook stove, but no heat in the bedroom just little gas stoves that could be carried from one room to the other. I lost my mother when we lived near Phillipsburg when I was about ten.
Father was a minister and he had the Cumberland Presbyterian Church at Phillipsburg twenty-three years. The way they paid the preacher was by different ones going up and giving some money--love offerings and sometimes he wouldn't be paid very much. They didn't have the arrangements they have now for paying the preacher.
It was just five miles from our house to the Phillipsburg church. We had carriages but no automobiles. We had a side saddle and wore long skirts. I rode a horse to church and back many a time. We usually kept two horses on the farm. We bad one we used for the buggy and one saddle horse. In the winter time when there was big snows we used to build big sleighs to set the wagon bed on and put the spring seat on. Then we'd get in and cover up with quilts to keep from freezing until we got to church. We had big wood stoves set in the center of the church. We had awful good wood fires. The men in the neighborhood would get together and chop wood, haul and stack it up at the church, and would bring in a machine to saw it. My father seen to it that we were in church every Sunday. We didn't work on Sunday.
We had choir Wednesday night at Phillipsburg. We didn't have the music they have to go with the singing now. They just had a place beside the pulpit and they'd fill with singers. We wasn't perfect as they are now, but we knew how to open our mouths and sing. We used to have a lot of gatherings, I guess singing was the most part. Just young folks and anyone that wanted to come, would go and sing for an hour or two at someone's house.
Sometimes after church we had a basket dinner--we called them then special dinners at the church. Back when we first started we didn't have tables to put our dinner on like we do here. We spread our tablecloths down on the ground and set out dinner there--just got around that table and ate like it was good. It was. I was studying about that the other day how terrible that would look to the young folks now--eating off the ground. But we didn't have the tables built, you know, and we had to do that.
We never did any square dancing. I wouldn't even know the first commencement. One thing we never had in our home was a deck of cards. That's one thing Papa wouldn't allow. I wouldn't know one card from another!
When I was a girl, some people had big herds of dairy cows and did lots of milking. We never had anything like that, we'd have three, maybe four, but not a big herd. We had to sell part of the milk but usually just had it for family use. We didn't have a separator. We skimmed the milk, sold the cream and fed the milk to the hogs.
We butchered our own beef and hogs and rendered our own lard. We never bought anything like that. We had a smokehouse. Sometimes it wouldn't be too substantial but it would answer the purpose.
We had bees, never had too many, just enough for our own use. Our men folk did their own hiving and lots of times they'd be out in the field at work and a large swarm of bees would go over. They'd hear them roar as they soared through the air. Then they'd follow the bees and see where they landed. That way we could get our hive and go and fasten it up on the tree--smoke them for them to fall. If the queen bee went into the hive the rest would follow. We've hived many a bee.
We'd build an ash hopper to get lye. We put slabs and let them come together at the ground and then we'd carry ashes from the fireplace and dump it in the ash hopper. Then when that got full of ashes we would pour water on there and we'd set a little bucket down at the end to get the lye as it ran down that little trough. Mother made all of our soap to wash with, and it was strong too!
The women have always done their part. In that day and time they worked in the field just the same as the husband did. They worked together. I remember when we lived near Seymour, mother would always take our clothes down to the James River and do our washing. We'd always leave our big kettle down there and do our washing and not bother about water at the house. We washed on a board and boiled our clothes in a great big iron kettle with legs. We'd put our clothes in there and stir them with a paddle. They was clean too!
Father stayed on as minister at Phillipsburg until I was seventeen years old. After I got through grade school, Papa and I moved to Springfield so I could go to high school. That way I could be at home while I went to school. We lived there three years. Then I met this young man, Jim Inman, there and got married, when I ought to have found me a job and went to work! I liked school. I was going to high school and he was going to business college. Jim finished his college and we decided to get married.
Papa was getting married again, too! He said, "Well, if you're going to I will too. I met a real nice lady out by Seymour that will make a real nice companion for me."
Jim and I had horned in our family three children, just one living. His name was Rueul. When he was about twelve we moved to California and lived there three years, but we came back to the good country. I didn't like the heat there. I could hardly travel up and down those hot streets. My husband worked in the mill and I worked in the fruit. I couldn't pack oranges and make them fit the way they should go. I couldn't pack them to save my life. But I could pack big old ugly lemons.
We had kept our farm back here in Missouri, and finally came home. James River and Wilson Creek ran across the corner of our place. A big cave was on the place and the water would go out there. When it began to rain the creek would start at Springfield and the first thing we knew it would be way up on the side of the hill. Then we had to wade across after the cows. They'd stand over there and look and maybe answer us when we'd call them. We'd have to go across ourselves and put them in the barn for the night.
I love to fish but I wasn't much of a fisherman. We went down to the James River one night and I was sitting up on a big rock and I got a good bite. I jerked him out and I screamed until they heard me in Springfield! I thought it was a snake I had, but it was an eel. I flopped it out on the rock beside me, and I nearly jumped in swapping places! We used to do a lot of fishing late in the evening.
We raised lots of fruit on the farm and corn and oats and wheat--I guess you wonder how we done it all. They come at different times, wasn't all jammed up together.
We raised a lot of watermelons. We prepared our ground, raked it and laid off rows about two feet apart. We made hills and planted seeds around the edge of that hill, three or four seeds to each hole punched around the hill. Then when they'd come up we'd hoe them and take care of them and fight bugs. Then the first thing we'd know we had a solid bed of watermelon vines and lots of watermelons.
When they started to get ripe, Jim would make rows through the patch .so we could get the truck through to pick them up. Jim would haul them to Springfield and sell them along the road like some do today. While Jim was gone I'd go round up a bunch of boys to help me pick and load another truck of watermelon. Jim had a driver bring them to Springfield and sell them out on the street and get a good price for them. Oh, you wouldn't think it was very much I don't guess. We thought we done pretty well. The nice ones we'd get five cents a pound. Sometimes they'd weigh twenty-five pounds. The ground was rich and we had awful big melons.
There's so many things that I forget that we had. When we had a good crop of fruit we'd have, as we called them, apple cuttings and peach cuttings at our homes and we'd notify our neighbors and they'd all come in and we'd have a big peach and apple cutting to can. That was a big help to everybody and we enjoyed it.
We dried fruit, too. First we peeled them, cut them off of the seed and we'd build a scaffold out in the yard. We'd invite our neighbors telling them we were going to have a peach cutting or apple cutting. We'd all get together at night and we'd cut that fruit and put it out on that scaffold and turn every piece the way we wanted it for the sun to hit it first, and then leave it there until it dried. I do that yet. That's the way we had our fruit. We'd go out in the woods, if it was in the woods as it usually was, to pick our gooseberries and wild raspberries and things like that and can them for our winter fruit to make pies out of, usually. Sometimes the men folk would have a contest to see who could eat the most green gosseberries. It wouldn't take many for me to balk on.
The last time we had a burn out my sister-in-law had been sick and I brought her over to our place. Jim was gone. She was sick and wasn't able to help me do anything. I had to slop the hogs and milk eight cows. I had finished slopping the hogs and while I was doing that my sister-in-law put some dinner on an oil stove. It set up against a window. It was a Florence and that was a new stove to me and her too. I never thought to mention it because I didn't know she was going to do that. I come back from taking care of the hogs and I caught sight of the house and I seen it was on fire. My sister-in-law had gone down to the melon patch to see if we had enough for another load. We thought a little breeze had pulled the curtain over and maybe catched the house on fire. I had just had a new linoleum put on the kitchen floor. We were all disturbed.
When Jim got to the house we didn't have anything left. We had just sent our wheat and oats to market. We had a thousand dollars of wheat money and I can't remember how much of the other. We had taken the other money to the bank and had wheat money stored in a basket on the porch with some old things over the top until we could take it to town. We also had a milk check at home hidden in another basket. As I looked at it I said, "Well, there goes all of our years of work."
I told one of our neighbors and we walked around to the kitchen--it had a concrete floor. There was a pile of ashes where the clothes had fell over the top and they told us to pick that up with a shovel, put it in a box and take it to the bank and they'd pay us what it was worth.
The bank paid us everything except a dime and nickel that got so hot they had melted together. I kept it for years. We had to wait a month to get our money from the creamery. Jim said, "We're right back to where we started from."
But we come out of it. We stretched a big tent over a log stand. Jim didn't want to live with anybody. We had to build the house over. We had to wait for them to haul our lumber in. We had a hard time getting lumber to build with. It was right after World War I. Even after they got the house up and was shingling it, a man out of work came out from town one day and he was going to make them all quit work. The neighbors were helping us and it made him mad that we were getting it done so fast and cheap. Another feller rode up on a horse and asked me what was wrong and why they weren't working. I said, "I don't know."
So he went up on the house and he told what he thought about it. He said, "Here these two old people without any place to go and you stopping them from covering a house that they can shelter in?" So they finally finished covering it, but we had to quit for a while to help some of those men in town find work.
I lost my husband, Jim Inman, the father of my boy. I tried keeping the farm a couple of years but it was too much work for me alone and my son was in the Navy then. I tried it a couple of years there by myself. I had such a hard time there I sold the farm. My brothers and sisters lived near Lebanon so when I sold the farm, I came up here. I knew the majority of the people because I had been visiting here with my family that married around Lebanon. I felt more at home up here--not so lonely.
We went to a lot of singing conventions. A crowd of us would get together and sing in public places. There was beautiful singing at places like that. There's different ways a person could serve the Lord.
After a few years I met Clarence. Clarence had lost his wife. His daughter was living at home with him. I married him and lived in the neighborhood here for twenty-three years.
He had a big farm and a big house--two story--a beautiful home and a large barn and he had milk cows there, so we started into the business with about twenty-five milk cows. Then we always had young heifers around. We, of course, raised a garden. In the spring we took care of our garden and planted our potatoes, plowed our ground and planted our corn. We had a lot of hogs too. All goes with the farm, of course. Then we had a great woodland, beautiful trees and farm land on the east of the house. As usual we'd do just like all farmers when the spring come, we done our plowing and planting our corn and potatoes and our garden. We always raised a wonderful garden, just the two of us. We did have his little granddaughter a few years. We milked those dairy cows he and I together as long as he lived.
By and by I had an accident. I put my wash out and mopped the floor. All at once my feet went out from under me and when I fell I said to myself, "If I haven't broken my hip this time I never will." It was quite a long time before I got up, but I finally got up by myself. I don't know how long it was before that hip did give way, but I got up one morning and walked to the dining room. I started to make a step and my hip gave way and I fell on the corner of the stove--just kind of sat down. I felt my hip crush. That settled my dairying.
Clarence died when I was in the hospital. I don't remember how long I was there, three months I guess. While I was there he was home alone. No one knows how it happened. I guess he had probably gone to town and gotten feed early that morning and come back home. Whether he had went into the barn loft for hay or something or not--anyway, he was found laying in the wagon way of the barn with his head in the floor of the crib and a sack of feed across his stomach. He wasn't dead but he couldn't talk.
Our pastor brought him down to the hospital that Sunday to see me. He was in so much pain, but he didn't tell me he'd fallen. He'd go to telling me something, and he'd hurt so bad he'd have to hold his side and he never could tell anything. They said they had an awful time getting him home that evening.
Monday night about midnight at the hospital somebody spoke to me at the head of the bed. It was Clarence's son and I said, "Kenneth, it's about Clarence, isn't it?" He said, "Yes."
I couldn't walk, of course, but they thought I'd be all right. They could take care of me in the wheelchair. He come and got me the next day. I got there in time. When they helped me in the house, the girls were trying to clean him up. He wouldn't go to the doctor. They had went in spite of him and brought a bed out and put in the dining room, so they could get around on his side. I asked him if he wouldn't go to the doctor. I said, '"It might be that he could give you something that would stop this trouble if you'll just go and give it a try." He couldn't talk. Once in a while he could open his eyes and he'd smile. He nodded his head that he'd go, so they got the ambulance and got him into town as quick as they could. He just lasted about two hours. That broke up our happy home. I've been down ever since.
There's not a lot I'd change about my life--I guess some little things. I always worked at everything...never got too hard for me to try. I enjoy working. I've done lots of hard work of ever kind, even help get wood--saw wood and have it for winter.
If I were young and starting over, I'd go to college. I would take some religious course and go to work for the Lord. That ought to be our main course. Oh, you can get married if you have a good man, but you can't always get what you want--a good religious man to go along and work together. But schooling is the main thing. It'll get you through without as many hardships as you would have otherwise. Being a Christian is your life--it's your main course.
When you folks were coming I said, "I don't know if I can remember anything or not." I do try to keep my mind refreshed. I said, well I can almost follow the steps of my life through my mind's eye as I grew up and what I did. We had good times and we had hard times. Now I'm ninety-six years old--too old!
Copyright © 1981 BITTERSWEET, INC.
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