Today Lide Plowman concludes this installment of her memories of childhood, especially those of her mother Emily Crane. Lide’s childhood was a happy one, some would say idyllic, but there was much hard work and struggle in pioneer Michigan. The family tree chart is at the end of this post.
Mother and Father used to make evening visits from one to six miles, in always took an ax along to clear the road from accidental trees and limbs fallen across the road. I have a vivid memory of their coming home rather late one night, when the children from Uncle Sammy’s were over playing with us. I stood between the window and door saying something like this, “Here I stand, beside the door, come and kiss me three or four.” And just as Ira Crane was to kiss me, Mother’s hand with a dark glove on came between our faces. Can you imagine the exclamations and running of a lot of frightened children? Mother soon realized our fright and came in to assure us we were in no danger.
Mr. Bower who bought out Uncle Francis Crane had three boys and they would stop in their way to school to warm themselves before our fire. To plague sister Jule Mother would say, “John Bower has come to see my Julie”.
She used her shoulders to keep her pins on and we children would reach for one she would always make a strange noise and quick motion of her head, which always made us jump.
She was a woman who lived for her family. No outside influences caused her to forget them and she always joined with them in a little fun or sports. She was self-sacrificing, I remember as I was getting up to a young lady of her giving me a dress she had bought for herself. Father rather objected to this. She had very good taste in selecting materials, to get good quality, fast color, and pretty figure. Aunt Ellen often spoke of the good taste she had in that way, and she also often remarked how nice and white her floor looked. Mother did not mop everyday but when she did there were no dirty corners or streaks on the floor, but we children stayed in another room or out of doors until the floor was dry. Now how do you think it looked after the night wood had been brought in on a cold, snowy, winter night? You could slide from the door to the hearth, but that was unavoidable so it had to be endured.
Saron and I took a great deal of pleasure in playing checkers but after several days we would have a disagreement, and if it continued our board went up on the “high shelf”. A board as long as the room, nailed to the beams, which made a good place to keep things from the children, and was used for books and medicine. Father lathed and plastered after I can remember and he had some difficulty in getting the plaster to stay on, as it persisted in creeping down. After awhile we would have the checker board until it was taken from us for the same cause. Ivanhoe was kept on this same shelf and when I could find nothing else to read they would get it down for me again, I must have read it as many as ten times, as well as two or three times since I was a woman. I never could get interested in Thaddeus of Warsaw which Father thought was a great book.
For papers we had the Star in the West, a Universalist paper, the New York Tribune, the county paper (first the DeWitt Republican, later the St. John’s Republican) and the Journal of Education. The first three were weeklies and gave us much good reading.
I wish I could make you see as I do the old German tinker who visited us once or twice a year. He was rather a small man with one leg shorter than the other and withered so that he had to use a cane. He was dressed in clothes he made himself from skins of animals, sheep, deer and coon. He had a coonskin cap, a sheepskin coat, and a fur garment for a shirt, with the fur on the inside. His shoes and pants were also made of fur.
In the winter he had a cutter fixed up or I should say made with anything he could find. He drove an ox whose harness consisted of rope, leather, string and a strap, he had picked up in his travels. He minted our tinware as we had no 10 cent store to get new and throw the old away. He usually stayed two or three days and it was as good as a circus to us children, for Mr. Medsker was as good as a clown. We would stand around and watch and listen to him by the hour and he was very funny if things went well, and if they didn’t, we all kept our distance. His ox and rig was as curious to us as wild animals in a circus and I think the children here would be as interested as we were. His home was somewhere in Riley and he had two little girls. One of them came with him once, she was rather good looking. She had to sleep with Till, much to Till’s displeasure.
The nearest doctor was at Lyons, but Dr. Hugg at Ionia was considered best but was twenty miles away in a new country. I think he was with Mother when Till was born. Later Dr. Seinol, a well educated doctor came. Father had great faith in him. He it was, who removed the cancer from Uncle Hiram Brown’s lip with a pair of dull shears, after other doctors had eaten it out and he had suffered a great deal and spent much money. It never broke out again and he lived to be an old man.
It was a great blessing to have a good physician only two and one half miles from us. He lived one mile east of Westphalia, and was our dr. until the Civil War when he moved farther away and later went to the war. After this Dr. Dellenbough came.
I hope you have not tired of these reminiscences as I have enjoyed it and Pearl has insisted that I put in many things that may not interest you. She says next year it must be the children of the “House of Plowmans”.
Hoping you may have many happy Christmases and that the New Years as they come may bring you many blessings.