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Rebecca Jane Dame

Female 1885 - 1955  (70 years)  Submit Photo / DocumentSubmit Photo / Document    Has more than 100 ancestors and 19 descendants in this family tree.

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  • Name Rebecca Jane Dame 
    Born 12 Jan 1885  Meadow, Millard, Utah, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Female 
    Census 1900  Meadow, Millard, Utah, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Initiatory (LDS) 2 Sep 1903  MANTI Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Census 1940  Meadow, Millard, Utah, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    FamilySearch ID KWCF-B7G 
    Died 9 Oct 1955  Fillmore, Millard, Utah, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Buried 14 Oct 1955  Meadow, Millard, Utah, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Headstones Submit Headstone Photo Submit Headstone Photo 
    Person ID I5229  mytree
    Last Modified 21 Sep 2014 

    Father Joseph Smith Dame,   b. 17 Mar 1856, Fillmore, Millard, Utah, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 16 May 1929, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 73 years) 
    Mother Sarah Rebecca Stott,   b. 18 Mar 1858, Fillmore, Millard, Utah, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 13 Sep 1940, Meadow, Millard, Utah, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 82 years) 
    Married 12 Dec 1879  St. George, Washington, Utah, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F3343  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family William Henry Reay,   b. 5 May 1886, Kanosh, Millard, Utah, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 15 Jun 1948, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 62 years) 
    Married 3 Jan 1910  Fillmore, Millard, Utah, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Children 
     1. Don Reay,   b. 16 Apr 1910, Meadow, Millard, Utah, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 28 Jun 1990  (Age 80 years)
     2. Lee Reay,   b. 9 Apr 1912, Meadow, Millard, Utah, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 17 Jun 2001  (Age 89 years)
    +3. Delmar H Reay,   b. 16 Mar 1914, Meadow, Millard, Utah, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 19 Oct 2000  (Age 86 years)
    +4. Von Reay,   b. 12 Aug 1915, Meadow, Millard, Utah, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 25 Dec 1983  (Age 68 years)
    +5. Claree Reay,   b. 30 Sep 1917, Meadow, Millard, Utah, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 9 Nov 2007, Orem, Utah, Utah, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 90 years)
     6. Fay Reay,   b. 29 Dec 1920, Meadow, Millard, Utah, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 30 Jan 2005, Sun City, Maricopa, Arizona, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 84 years)
    Last Modified 20 Jan 2021 
    Family ID F3647  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 12 Jan 1885 - Meadow, Millard, Utah, United States Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsCensus - 1900 - Meadow, Millard, Utah, United States Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsInitiatory (LDS) - 2 Sep 1903 - MANTI Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 3 Jan 1910 - Fillmore, Millard, Utah, United States Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsCensus - 1940 - Meadow, Millard, Utah, United States Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 9 Oct 1955 - Fillmore, Millard, Utah, United States Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBuried - 14 Oct 1955 - Meadow, Millard, Utah, United States Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 

  • Headstones
    Reay, William H b1886 - Dame, Rebecca J b1885
    Reay, William H b1886 - Dame, Rebecca J b1885

  • Notes 
    • Description of Home
      I grew up in Meadow, Utah, population 190 people. We lived in a two bedroom frame house located on the same four-acre town lot that we shared with Grandma Dame. Grandma’s house was a small two-bedroom home made of red brick, and her pride and joy. The lot was divided up into a large corral, pasture, garden area, and two orchards. This was in addition to large door yards around each home. The corral was equipped with a barn, pig pens, chicken coop, and granaries.
      The area around the homes was well organized and virtually self sufficient. The orchard provided apples, pears, walnuts, and goose berries. Oh, and I must not forget: grandma’s peppermint for tea. The gardens provided corn, tomatoes peas, cucumbers, potatoes, carrots, radishes, lettuce, asparagus, and rhubarb. It also provided a lot of hard work. The corrals and pasture area housed and partially fed the animals which provided milk, beef, pork, chicken, butter, and eggs. The door yards were adorned with large beautiful flower gardens which were the pride of Mom and Grandma. The family had a great deal of pride in how things looked.
      Wash Day
      In fact this was taken to great lengths at times: for instance, on wash day. Washing was a big production before automatic washers. Several large tubs were used in sequence. First a tub with lye soap in it: The soap had to be cut in small pieces so it would dissolve in the water. Then there was a rinse tub and tubs with bluing. Each article of clothing had to be agitated and wrung out by hand several times as it went through the process. Well anyway it was a matter of great pride to get your washing out on the line first on wash day. Also the appearance of the wash was very important. Tradition had developed on just how each piece was hung: hanging the wash was no haphazard affair. Each category Of clothing had to hang together and in strict order, such as first all the sheets, then all the towels, etc.

      Making Soap

      The family was self-sufficient in many other ways. I mentioned lye soap, well it was home made. Every spring Mom would take all the lard, bacon rinds, and grease drippings which they had been saving all year, and make soap. They would take a large cast iron pot out into the corral and hang it on an A frame. They would then fill it full of the lard, throw in several cans of lye and build a large fire under it.
      That big pot hanging over the fire always reminded me of a witch’s cauldron. Anyway, it would boil all day until the mixture started to get stringy. I remember Mother dipping in a spoon then holding the spoon over the pot slowly dripping the contents back into the pot to check it’s progress. When these drips would form long strings it was ready. They would skim off all the debris and then strain the mixture. After the mixture cooled it was poured into forms, making a cube three inches on a side.
      After a few days of drying in the sun, the cubes of soap were knocked out of the frames and placed on drying tables. The soap would be left to dry in the sun for several days until it was dry all the way through.
      Mother Reay
      Mother was very active in the church and she had her primary focus on serving her Father in Heaven. She held many callings but she seemed to have a gift for teaching and was frequently called to teach. She had long shiny brown hair that came down to the middle of her back when she let it down. She kept her long hair though out her life. I recall when she would wash her hair and dry it. She would go into the sunlight and leaning forward and slowly combing it until it was dry. She would then carefully make it into two long braids which she fashioned into a crown around her head. It was something she took joy in.
      She loved her flower gardens and she would work tirelessly and would have beautiful roses and geraniums. I don’t remember her asking us to work but anything we felt like doing we did and then we would go off to play. She never insisted that we work with her. I look back and wished that I had done more.

      Taking Care of Sarah Rebecca Dame My Grandmother

      Grandmother lived in the red brick house on the corner and she was mentally ill. She would sometimes just wander off and someone would always have to be with her to watch her. We kids would take turns sleeping at Grandmas to make sure she was kept safe.
      Sometimes she would get out of the house without us knowing, but she didn't get far before someone in town would come and tell us where she was. We would drop everything and run to find her before she could get hurt. It would take quite a while for us kids to get her back home. She would sometimes grab on to something and refuse to let go. Well we would sit there until she decided to let go. Other times she would just drag her feet and insist that her back was broken. Taking care of Grandma was a great blessing for us kids because we got a chance to serve.
      It is interesting to note that many people of that time thought that mental illness was inherited and that no one wanted their kids to marry yours if they knew that there was someone in the family who was mentally ill. Grandma felt that one day she may end up like her mother. She had a special bedroom prepared in such event that was equipped with locks and its own heating system. Of course she never needed it but she did not want to be a burden.

      Friends --Loa Stewart

      Loa lived on the same town block with us. We had a hole through the fence so that we could go back on fourth without the need to climb over. I remember one of our favorite places to play was around the base of the hay derrick. The derrick was constructed out of large poles that were eight inches in diameter. These poles were laid in a square attached at the corners. There was a pole that laid over the center of the rectangle bisecting it through the center forming two large rectangular openings which we pretended were the outline of our homes. She would work in a portion of the base and me in mine. We would mark out the enclosed space with scrap wood and make pretend rooms and we played there most of summer.

      Herding Cows

      One of my more pleasant duties as a child was herding cows. I would walk behind the cows with a switch and direct them out to a nearby wilderness area and let the cows graze on the new spring grasses. Mom would have me pack a sandwich and I would lie down in the shade and just watch the clouds and in my mind imagine seeing all sorts of things. Sometimes one of my friends would be herding some cows nearby and we would get together to eat lunch. It was just very laid back, a very slow idyllic childhood.

      Going To Church

      The Church was the focus of not only our spiritual lives but also our focus for culture, fun and games. We would have traveling shows and orchestras which would always serve as an excuse for a town to have party or get together. The Church events were also highly integrated with the schools and we would put on plays, relief society bazaars, and dances with the music provided by the Meadow band.

      In the garden was a long row of asparagus and rhubarb. At that time it was called pie plant. One day our neighbor boy, Melvin Duncan, came over to our house, knocked on the door, and asked if he could get some rhubarb. My brother, Fay, answered the door, and said, “Sure can.” He looked in the cupboard and the medicine cabinet. He couldn't find any, so he went back to the door and asked, “What did you bring to get it in/” Melvin held up a gunny sack. Fay was flabbergasted and said, “Do you know where they keep it/” “Sure. Out in the garden.” So they filled the sack with fresh rhubarb.
      Going to Warm Springs

      One of our favorite summer time activities was going to Warm Springs and we would manage to get there at least once a week. I recall it being a very informal thing. Someone would get their horse drawn hay wagon which we called a hay rack and then they would drive around town and holler out that they were going to warm springs. Anyone that wanted to would run out and jump on the slow moving wagon.
      We would visit, sing and generally have a party just getting there which would take about an hour and a half. I don’t ever remember anybody being overly concerned about the safety aspect of these trips. There seemed to be an inherent trust that everyone would look out for each other. We then would return having just as much fun as we had going there. Nobody ever got hurt or was drowned--the Lord must have assigned several hard- working guardian angles that kept us safe.



      Excerpt From Lee Reay" Book "Lambs in the Meadow"

      Living in town was a new and thrilling experience for me. There were children to play with. We could walk to church or to grandma's house. We had managed to move in, but conveniences would have to come later.

      For a year we carried all our water in buckets from grandma's hydrant before we had the money to bring the water to our lot from the main wooden stave pipeline a block away. It was a great day when we finally had a hydrant on our own lot. Mom was ecstatic “Imagine! Running water within twenty feet of our house!” she exclaimed. It took another ten years to bring the water the last twenty feet to the kitchen sink.

      Everyone in town had a wood pile. I learned that cedar wood burns very well when I set our woodpile on fire. It took Roy and me a long time and half a box of matches to get it started. But when the fire caught, it became the biggest bonfire I had ever seen. Our woodpile crackled into flames six feet high.

      Uncle Joe Stott saw the fire from across the street and came running with two buckets of water. Uncle Joe and mom beat the flames with a broom and a carpet while Roy and I ran as hard as we could, carrying water from Uncle Joe's hydrant. Finally, we had the fire out and a little bit of the charred woodpile was left. In dad's absence, Uncle Joe sat me down to a good lesson on how important a woodpile was. Then he gave me the switching I deserved. The pain has been gone a long time, but I well remember what happens to little boys who play with matches.



      Excerpt from "Lambs in the Meadow" by Lee Reay

      Saturday night was when everyone in town took a bath. Farm work, especially in summer, was hot, dusty, and tiring. We let the dirt pile up, washing only our face and hands, until Saturday. Taking a bath was too much trouble any other time. But we all wanted to be clean and fresh for the Sabbath day.
      Bath night for a big family required some planning. We always quit working in the fields early on Saturday afternoon so we could get the farm chores out of the way and have a bath. Dad and his boys milked the cows, slopped the pigs, fed the livestock, and separated the milk. Mom and Claree fixed dinner, hauled in ten gallons of water from the hydrant, and laid out our clean clothes.

      In preparation for the baths, a copper washboiler full of water was heating on the Home Comfort. The big enameled teakettle was hissing hot, and five gallons of water was warming in the blue enameled reservoir beside the stove firebox. The big wood box was full, but it would be empty when all our eight baths were over.

      When dinner was over, our kitchen doubled as a bathroom. Mom ranged six high spindle back kitchen chairs in a semi circle in front of the stove and hung a blanket over them. Inside the circle was our galvanized washtub. When hot and cold water were mixed and tested in the tub, the bathroom was ready for its first customer.

      Claree, our only sister, was always first. She got the clean water. When she had bathed and toweled, it was Fay's turn. More hot water was added and he soaped the week's dirt off. After him came Von, with more hot water added. After three had bathed, the tub was getting full and the water looked like thin gravy- that's when it was emptied.

      We carried the tub outside and spilled the water into our garden ditch. Delmar, I, and Don followed suit with another change of water. Mom and dad were always last. It was quite cozy bathing with all eight of us in the room. Although privacy was hard to achieve, modesty was always maintained. We had only one coal oil lamp, and the bather was always in the shadows.

      When the baths were over, the younger children were tucked into bed, while those over twelve started primping for the dance. At twelve a boy could be ordained a deacon in the Church, graduate from knickers to long pants, and start going to grownup dances.

      When everyone had bathed we had gone through about thirty gallons of water, and all eight of us were clean. But much of the water was on the kitchen floor. It was difficult for an adult to squat in the tub and have any room to wash. A lot of water always managed to get on the floor. After the water was mopped up and we were dressed in our best clean clothes, we boys were ready to go to the “flickers,” or to a dance, or courting.

      I've often thought that maybe the Warm Springs swimming hole was so popular because of the trouble it was to take a bath at home. All over town the bath ritual was performed on Saturday night. Very few homes had indoor bathrooms.

      In summertime, we often rigged a shower bath outside under our trees, using a garden hose and a perforated bucket hung from a limb. It was cold, but invigorating. Even in cold water mom's homemade soap brought the dirt off. One way or another, we were always clean on the Sabbath.

      Until we could start earning our own money, none of the Reay boys owned more than one pair of shoes. On Saturday night we cleaned them up the best we could and gave them a good “blackin' “ with a thick mixture of stove soot and water mixed on the spot on the back side of a stove lid. We brushed it on with a circular bristle brush and let it dry. The result was a dull finish which came off when it was rubbed. But it was soot black and lasted through Sunday.

      Mom believed that God made available to mankind an increased portion of his Holy Spirit on Sunday. On his day he helped us to be our very best selves. To us, the Sabbath was a very special time.


      Excerpt From Lee Reay's Book. "Lambs in the Meadow"

      It was at this time of new Spring awakening, in 1912, that my parents, Will and Jane Reay, decided to build their home on a 160 acre homestead of sagebrush covered land near The Meadows, five miles northwest of Meadow Creek Town.

      They marked the corners of their claim with stout cedar posts and chose the place to build their first home. As they worked, they proudly referred to the small sea of sagebrush as “our land.” (It would be four years before a document signed by Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States, would give them a clear title.)

      Like a robin gathering nesting materials, Will brought rocks, boards, nails, and shingles to the chosen spot, adding more to the pile each day. Finally, on a clear spring day when the warming sun had coaxed the last frost out of the ground, he was ready to start building.

      With the help of his father, Alexander, and younger brother, Fay, Will hammered together in one month a square single room house, which made up in versatility what it lacked in convenience. As the need required, it became bedroom, kitchen, parlor, dining room, bathroom, and laundry. When it was finished, he proudly gave it two coats of rich white paint. There it stood, resplendent in the evening sun like a newly painted picture in a sage green frame.

      Shortly after Will and Jane had moved into this house, I was born at 2:00 a.m., April 9, 1912. Later, Dad told me, “You pushed us pretty hard. We barely had the house finished when you came. You were the first crop we harvested.”

      Our county's only doctor was ten miles away and very busy. Doctors weren't called for such ordinary things as childbirth, but were reserved for real emergencies. Children were brought into the world by midwives -friendly neighbor women, qualified by experience with big families of their own. Midwives used home remedies, lots of hot water, and unlimited kindness. Regardless of relationship they were always called “aunt” by everyone in town.

      It was “Aunt” Bea Stewart who brought me screaming and kicking into the world. Years afterward she told me, “You didn't want to come.” Sometimes the midwife lived in with the family. In other cases the blossoming mother moved in with the midwife, depending on who had the most room.

      The cost of a midwife was whatever the family could afford. These angels of mercy never asked a price in dollars and were seldom paid in money. They stayed as long as they thought necessary, often for two weeks, cooking the family meals and caring for the mother and child.

      Whatever pay was offered was acceptable. Usually it was in more practical goods than money: meat, fresh from the killing, a weaned calf, a milk cow, several loads of hay, or five sacks of flour fresh from the grist mill. Payment stretched out over several years, but love and appreciation lasted a lifetime. On frequent occasions throughout my childhood, Mom gratefully sent me down to “Aunt” Bea's house with fragrant, oven fresh loaves of warm bread, thick molds of newly churned butter, a “mess” of the first spring peas, and always head cheese at hog killing time.

      “Aunt” Bea was the second wife in a polygamous Mormon family. Her ruggedly handsome, white haired husband, Jim Stewart cared for and lived alternately with both families in their separate homes. “Aunt” Bea called Jim's other wife “sister.” When “Aunt” Bea was away from her family with a patient, Mary came over and cared for “Aunt” Bea's family as if it were her own. There was more than enough love to go around in those two families. They had twenty two children, who shared and cared for each other.

      When my brother Don was born two years before me “Dad and mom had been living with Grandpa Alexander Reay on his ranch. Dad had taken mom to Meadow in the wagon, to stay with “Aunt” Ollie Duncan until the baby was born. “Aunt” Ollie was a midwife but could not leave her family, so Mom went to her. There, in her little three room house, Don was born. Mom stayed two weeks with “Aunt” Ollie, until Dad came with the wagon to take her back to the ranch.

      The balance of the children, Delmar, Von, Claree, and Fay were all ushered into the world by another midwife, “Aunt” Bea Howard. She was a lifetime professional, present at the birth of an entire generation of “Meadowcrickers.”

      Our homestead house was a model of simplicity, a wooden rectangle about 12 feet by 15 feet, with no shelter over its single door. It stood on neat little two foot high stacks of flat rocks about six feet apart just high enough for the chill north wind to whistle under the house in winter and slip its icy fingers through the joints of the floor. The inside of our house was the part I saw most and knew best.

      As a child I was sickly and not expected to live very long. Mom and Dad had my picture taken so they could remember me. But I did live, and spent lots of time in my hand made crib studying the walls and ceiling.

      Our floor and all four walls were covered with green linoleum. It had a stylized leaf pattern which stretched across the room in endless garlands, over the floor, and up the walls. Carefully, I traced the leaves with my eyes until they disappeared into the ceiling, which was a single large sheet of rough white cloth nailed to the rafters. Sometimes the cloth sagged. “Indian Head Factory” was blazoned in red block letters at regular distances across the cloth. These were the second words I learned to read.

      One of my most vivid memories is watching mice chase each other across our cloth ceiling. The cloth would sag down in a progressive line as their little feet pattered across.

      The first words I learned were cast into the iron footrest which circled our round wood burning stove. While other children were still learning to spell “cat,” I could spell and pronounce “Round Oak Stove Company, Dowagiac, Michigan.”

      In the beginning, dad carried our water in a barrel from grandpa’s ranch. It was soon evident we needed a water well of our own, so dad dug one by hand, about six feet deep and four feet wide, beside the house. He lined it with rock and placed loose boards over the top. When water was needed, someone just removed the middle boards and lowered a bucket with a rope tied to its bail. The well slowly filled with water to a depth of about three feet. The water replaced itself as it was bucketed out. Dad drew water from this well for all the animals we kept: a coop of chickens, two pigs, two milk cows, two horses, a burro, and a dog. Mom lifted water for the house, bathing, drinking, cooking, and washing.

      Large skating water bugs, frogs, and an occasional green water snake found the cool well. They stayed in the rocky crevices of the walls and didn't bother us. Mom was always careful to fill her bucket from the middle of the well and look it over carefully as she brought it up with the lifting rope. We kept a tin dipper on a nail on a post by the well for thirsty visitors. How cool and refreshing the water was.

      Don, who was two years older than I, could walk and had the full run of the yard. His favorite pet was a long eared burro named Donk. Don and Donk were inseparable and often played games together. When Don would sit down in the yard, Donk would come running and jump over him. It always scared mom, but Donk's flying heels always cleared Don's head by a few inches.

      One spring day Don sat down beside the well. Donk came running, made a great flying leap and landed on the boards [illustration: il-pg5.jpg] covering the well. They broke and Donk fell into the well, butt end first. Only his front feet and clumsy head, with its great long ears, were out of the water.

      Don ran toward the house screaming, “Mama, come quick! Donk fell into the well!” Mom came running to see what the matter was. She grabbed the floundering burro by his two big ears and pulled with all her might. She was a strong woman and lifted Donk up in the well high enough so that his front feet could come up over the edge. He was struggling for a foothold as she jounced him up and down the way one rocks a car to get it out of a mud hole. Each time she pulled she shouted, “Climb, Donk, climb!”

      Finally with a mighty heave and much scrabbling of his sharp little feet, Donk literally walked up the side of the well and out. When it was over, Donk stood quivering in the sun while mom held his funny head in her arms and wept.

      Donk remained part of our family for years. One of his playmates was a fat tailed “bummer” lamb which mom had thawed out in the oven of our big Home Comfort stove one cold spring day. Our old dog, Jack, completed “the trio.”

      Donk had strange eating habits. He liked to eat the tops out of my straw hats. I would sit in the yard, crying and hanging onto the brim’ of my hat, while Donk stood there leisurely eating the top out of it. The top of my head was always open to the sky.

      Jack was a big shaggy dog who had a natural protective feeling about our family, our land, and our animals. He was a mortal enemy of snakes and seemed to know that the rattlesnake was most dangerous of all. He killed dozens of them without ever being struck.

      When a rattlesnake would coil and rattle, Jack would dart in and out, barking furiously, teasing him into a strike. His big body was unbelievably fast and always anticipated the strike just enough to be out of range when it came. When the snake was stretched out before he could recoil Jack would pounce on him, grab the muscular body in his teeth, and shake it violently. Then he would toss it about six feet into the air. When the snake hit the ground, Jack was on him again, repeating the bone breaking punishment until the snake was dead. Jack kept our little green island in the sagebrush free of snakes.

      When my brother, Delmar, came along two years later, the three animals were his constant companions. When he would wander out into the lush green alfalfa, lie down, and go to sleep, his three loyal pets would stand guard until he awakened. Whenever Mom wanted to find Delmar, she would look for Donk, who was the tallest of the four, and there Delmar would be.

      Our un-insulated lumber homestead house was freezing cold on winter nights. The water bucket was always frozen solid in the morning. Pans of fresh milk from the night before were covered with iced cream. Until dad could get a fire going in the old Home Comfort stove, January mornings were a teeth chattering experience. Sometimes we stayed in bed until nature made us get out, bundle up, and tramp through the sparkling snow to the outhouse.

      Don, Delmar, and I slept together in a separate bed from mom and dad, but when the night was especially cold we would wake up and crawl in bed with them. They would put us at the foot of the bed, alternating “heads and tails,” with their feet between us

      On the coldest nights mom preheated our bed with hot flatirons wrapped in newspapers, but this wasn't as cozy as sleeping with our parents. Sometimes when it was really cold we would warm ourselves by remembering how balmy and pleasant our summers were. I remember particularly one beautiful summer Sunday evening. Dad and mom were sitting in the kitchen chairs outside our house watching the sun go down behind the Cricket Mountains While Don and I played with Donk.

      Suddenly there was a frightened squawking from the direction of the chicken pen. A coyote suddenly appeared from behind the coop, with one of our fat laying hens in his mouth. He had the hen's neck in his jaws and had thrown her body across his Shoulder like a sack of meal. Casually, almost impudently, he started trotting across the plowed strip toward the brush. Jack took after the coyote in bellowing pursuit. The coyote stretched out and ran for all he was worth. But the heavy hen was slowing him down. Jack was gaining by great leaps and barking furiously.

      Finally, just before he reached the safety of the brush, the coyote made a wise choice. He dropped the hen and ran for his life. Once in the brush Jack could never catch him.

      The panic stricken hen gathered herself up among the furrows and staggered drunkenly back toward the chicken pen, where dad disgustedly scooped her up, tossed her over the fence, and scolded her for getting outside the wire.

      Jack would patrol the yard regularly. Occasionally at night he would intercept a sly coyote quietly poking his long nose through the openings in the chicken yard fence, probing for a hole large enough to slide his lithe body through.

      There was seldom a time when chicken hawks were not circling above the brush looking for mice. They were equally fond of little chickens. In the spring, a sudden great fluttering and squawking signaled a raid by one of these feathered pillagers. Sometimes we would see the great bird climbing rapidly into the sky with a half grown chick in his talons. Most often they left with empty claws as the mother hen hustled her chicks under cover. Once a chicken hawk wrestled too long on the ground with a chicken and Jack got the fighting bird in his mouth. One crunch of his lethal jaws quieted the feathered hunter forever.

      Earliest Memories

      Vaguely at first. then with the rush and wonder of childhood, my world came into focus and began unfolding like a blossoming rose. I remember it well, back to that far distant vanishing point where it dissolves, like a mirage, into nothingness.

      At first, my world extended only to the edge of the sagebrush which framed our twenty acres of cleared land on all sides, with our tiny homestead cabin in the center. The 200 yard strip of plow turned sod was like a moat around our little home protecting it and isolating it from that other world which began at the edge of the brush.

      There the wild creatures lived and defended their domain with every means at their command. I was warned each day that I must never wander beyond the plowed borders, which expanded daily as my father walked behind the moldboard plow. Dad owned more of the arid alkali laden land than he was ever able to clear and plow. It was unfenced, and all the wild creatures considered it their land to roam across at their pleasure.

      The brush was the hunting ground of the coyote, the denning place of jackrabbits, the home of ground owls and field mice. Here deadly diamondback rattlesnakes slithered and shed their skins as they grew bigger. Fearsome looking ****** toads” blended with the mottled earth and could never be seen until they moved.

      Beyond the borders of the brush, lizards of all sizes stalked flies, spiders, and sometimes each other. Yellow scorpions walked stiffly on arthritic looking legs, their poisonous stingers curled up over their backs. Here also, the fearsome, hairy black tarantulas lived in dark holes among the sagebrush roots. Outside their front doors they wove a stout webwork of tiny, almost invisible, fibers strong enough to trap and hold all flying and crawling insects, such as scorpions, stinkbugs, and bumblebees.

      As a child, I was most afraid of tarantulas. I found them to be ugly, quiet workers. They did not seek trouble, but they could defend themselves if the need arose. In battle their thick, hairy bodies moved unbelievably fast and their stout legs enabled them to leap many times their length.

      In the brush, and above it, where the red tailed hawk and the great gray owl circled menacingly, most creatures lived by taking the life of another. They had no way to store food. Fresh food must be found, killed, and eaten every day. Our sea of sagebrush was an ecosystem. It was neither a thicket nor a desert, but something in between. Within its shady passageways, life and death filled each day of the wild creatures who lived there, beyond human sight In the searing heat of a summer afternoon little life could be seen in the brush. But hawks and turkey buzzards, constantly soaring above, let us know that the wild creatures were still there, taking a siesta in cool burrows or in the shade of a spreading sage.

      I learned, to my sorrow, that walking through the brush at any time of day or night was a dangerous thing for me to do, mainly because I had no shoes. Even grownups with leather shoes walked cautiously with roving eyes, searching the ground ahead for clumps of prickly pear, wandering scorpions, or rattlesnakes. They watched for movement and had ears tuned to pick up the crisp staccato warning of the diamond back rattler. Even as a child I noticed that the rattler never came seeking one and never gave ground when found. He always saw one first and let him pass by, if he would. But he was ready for battle if one came too close. His stout muscular body, coiled like a steel spring, was capable of striking its entire length. When he rattled, one was within his range.

      Once having heard the dry crisp rattle of a diamondback, one never forgets or mistakes it. Whenever I heard it, I tried to “freeze,” not take another step until I knew where he was. A rattler is camouflaged by nature and difficult to see among the ground debris. He waits quietly in a taut coil, flat scaly head poised, his black forked tongue darting in and out. The only sound comes from the last four inches of his tail, where the ***** buttons left from each succeeding shedding of his skin rattle against each other, agitated by the rapid vibration of his upward pointing tail. There is no mistaking the signal. He means business, and fear is not in him. I've seen him strike horses, cattle, or humans impartially.

      Our cabin and our few cultivated acres stood like an island in a vast blue gray sea of sagebrush. It reached above my head, up past the stirrups of a horseman riding through it. But beyond the brush a mile or so, and still within my vision from my perch on dad's shoulders, I could see a vast green meadow half a mile wide stretching diagonally across our valley like a great emerald sash. Hundreds of cattle grazed there, colorful slow moving blobs polka dotting the Meadows.

      My parents tried hard to make the homestead productive. Day after day I sat on our doorstep and watched dad railing sagebrush. Later, when I was about twelve, I helped him break other ground from the brush to the plow.

      Sagebrush is a tough, deep rooted, fibrous plant which clings tenaciously to the ground in which its roots travel as much as ten feet to find water. It's a hard plant to uproot and break down. But its topwood is brittle and can be cleared from the land.
      Dad had acquired two twenty foot lengths of “high iron” from the railroad at Black Rock. It was heavy duty rail, fourteen pounds to the foot. He chained the ends together and connected them with a long logchain, to which he fastened the doubletrees, with a strong steel clevis. To these he hitched Chub and Sam, our horses.

      As dad yelled threats and encouragement to the horses, they lunged forward, dragging the heavy railroad iron through the brush, uprooting some and breaking some down. It was rough, hard, hot work for both man and beast. After the brush had been railed from both directions, and broken down as much as possible, it was time for the horses to rest and the men to work even harder. With a heavy grubbing hoe and a sharp axe dad chopped the brush from its roots and stripped as many strands as he could from the ground.

      When I was six and Don was eight it was our job to gather the grubbed sagebrush into huge piles to be burned. How exciting it was to watch it bum with flames leaping as high as twenty feet into the air!

      Even after the surface brush was cleared, the ground was full of roots, and it was almost impossible to hold the hand plow in any kind of a straight furrow as it bucked, jerked, and ripped its way through the ground. The land had to be plowed crisscross both ways, then cleared again of the broken and protruding roots. It took several years of cropping the land to get the roots and rocks out of it. Homesteading was hard work, but the only kind of life mom and dad knew. Their satisfaction came from owning their land and raising their family on it.

      The wild creatures didn't like our breaking up their home. Each resisted in his own way. The field mice took to their burrows and were roasted under the burning brush piles. Jack rabbits hopped away from the crashing noise of the breaking brush. Lizards, “homy toads,” scorpions, and spiders crawled or slithered into the roots of the brush. The diamondback rattler coiled to strike and stood his ground.

      As the great horses came lunging through the brush, dragging the bouncing 600 pound bundle of railroad irons, the noise of breaking brush and tearing roots drowned out the snake's warning rattle. If a horse's foot came close, the rattler struck. Most often horses were struck on the hoof or the bony part of the ankle and never knew it happened. But sometimes the snake struck high, even above the knee. When that happened trouble followed quickly. The frightened horse would rear or shy away. If dad didn't see the strike he would immediately begin looking for fang marks on the horse's legs, and for the snake itself. When this happened work was over for the day, as dad made every effort to save his precious horse.

      Using his pocketknife, dad would cut the bite in cross patch fashion so it could bleed freely. Sometimes he would suck blood from the cut and spit it out, hoping to keep the venom from spreading. Then he would unhitch the horse and walk him to the corral before his rapidly swelling leg made it too painful for him to walk. Sometimes it would swell to twice its normal size as dad prepared a poultice to bring out the infection. Sometimes the poultice was made of fresh cow manure. Other times it was a thick plaster of the slimy blue clay mud which surrounded our slough. The plaster was held in place by a gunny sack tied around the swollen leg. Some of the ranchers simply led their stricken horse or cow into the miry blue mud at the slough until it covered the wound, and tied the animal there for a week or more.

      We never lost an animal to rattler strikes, although many of our animals were bitten. Our sheep were generally safe from rattlesnakes, as their thick wool protected them from being bitten.

      Even after the ground was broken and the crops planted, the struggle never let up. The rain had to fall or the plants could not grow. We had no living springs for our crops and were beyond the reach of a creek. If rain did not come when it was needed, the tender plants withered and died in the sun baked soil. Weeds grew where nothing else would, and had to be continually chopped out by hand hoeing. Dad often said, “We should learn to eat the weeds.” We treated every wanted plant like a delicate child and thanked God when it grew.

      Our worst enemies were jackrabbits and grasshoppers. Each evening, as darkness slowly fell over our homestead, myriads of ghostly gray creatures came hopping stealthily out of the brush to feed on our young green wheat or corn. The rabbits harvested the outer dozen rows before the kernels ever formed.

      Grasshoppers seemed to come from nowhere. When the crops were green and tender the “hoppers” always appeared, continually eating away at the tender leaves. Scorpions were the other unwanted tenants of our land. I never liked them much, but they fascinated me, and I watched them a lot. I found them to be evil tempered loners, never frolicking or traveling together, as other creatures do. There must have been some affection shown at mating time, but I never saw it.

      These long legged yellow creatures grew to two inches in length, moved quietly in shady places, and struck swiftly. Bugs, wasps, flies, and spiders were their prey. One body puncture from the scorpion's sharp tail paralyzed his victims so he could drag them home and eat them at his leisure.

      I never knew of a scorpion sting ever killing a human being, but mom always suspected that that was what had killed her older sister, Emmalea. As a little girl, Emmalea was walking barefoot through the calf pasture when something stung her on her left foot. It swelled immediately, turned blue, and in three days Emmalea was dead. Neighbors said probably a “cowkiller” had stung her. “Cowkillers” were large red and white bugs of bad reputation, but they were always convicted on circumstantial evidence.

      As boys growing up in the country, we always had live pets of one kind or another. I usually had a particularly ferocious scorpion, which I kept in a canning jar with some fresh grass. Each day I fed him live flies and other bugs. I wanted to keep him healthy, because he was my battler. Other boys had pet scorpions, too, and occasionally we had matched scorpion fights. We would place two scorpions in a glass jar and watch them. We bet marbles, spool tops, and wads of pine gum on the outcome.

      At first the scorpions would keep as far away from each other as possible, slowly circling the floor of the bottle. Eventually, sometimes hours later, one would pounce on the other. They would wrestle, head to head, biting with their mandibles, while striking at each other with their lethal tails. It was a battle to the death of one, and often both, contestants. The survivor was returned free to his wild domain.

      Wood ticks were everywhere in the brush. Each day, in summer? Mom gave us children tick inspection and pulled off as many ticks as she could find. We learned later that they were probably the most dangerous of all the creatures of the brush. They would quietly crawl up our bodies and into our ears. There, out of sight in the dark, they probed deep for blood veins and swelled like tiny balloons as they gorged themselves. A tick would fasten his head deep into the flesh where he could tap blood. His head would break off if anyone tried to pull him out, and infection would follow.

      Sometimes I knew a tick was in my ear because I could feel the tick move occasionally. At other times I could not hear in that ear, or it would ache. When Mom became suspicious, she would look into my ear in strong light. If she saw a tick I would get the hot oil treatment. Mom would lay me down and pour hot olive oil into my ear. The tick would slowly back out to keep from drowning in the oil. If mom could see the tick's body she would touch his rear end with a hot knife blade, and he would wiggle his way out where she could catch him.

      I am one of the fortunate people who have survived Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. A tick gave it to me when I was about eight years old. After I spent three months in bed recovering from the fever, we found the tick's body imbedded in my head when a large patch of scalp came off as I was combing my matted hair. It left a bald spot two inches across and took years to fully cover with new hair. I was delirious for several weeks, in bed all summer, and too weak to attend school when it started in the fall. All this from one tiny wood tick. Mom said, “God has saved you for more important work. See that you do it.”

      I have many fond memories of life on the homestead, and of the wild creatures who shared it with us. But I had to agree with the old timers who said, “Everything in the desert either sticks, stings, or stinks.” When dad finally gave up the struggle and decided to move our little house into town, I asked him why we were moving from the homestead. “I guess you can say we were starved out,” he said with a tired smile.

      It was very exciting watching dad and several neighboring ranchers jack up our house and shove the running gears of two extended wagons under it. When the house was securely on the two wagons, the ranchers simply drove the two teams carefully at the same plodding walk the entire six miles into Meadow. There they carefully jacked up the house again, pulled the wagons out from under it, and slowly let it down onto its foundation. There it sat, surrounded by knee high weeds, looking forlorn and unwanted on the west half of Grandma Dame's lot, almost in the middle of town.