Biography of Clifford Lackore
January 21, 1898 - November 10, 1985
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MEMORIES OF Old Man Cliff THE CARPENTER
as told and written by Clifford Eugene Lackore in 1975-1985
GROWING UP ON THE IOWA PRAIRIE
I was born January 21, 1898 on a farm near Madison Center, Hancock County, Iowa. I don't remember that cold day in the 1800's, but do remember many of the days at Madison Center School where I graduated from the 8th grade. It was almost a mile walk from home, but my father generally took us with a team and sleigh on really cold or snow-blustery days and came and got us when the weather was stormy. That was quite a chore, I now realize. I spent a nice fall and winter semester at Hayfield, Iowa and the same time, fall and winter, at Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa.
My Grandfather and Grandmother were George and Mary Jane Lackore. As I remember, they had four sons (Charles, John, Mortimer and Frank) and one daughter (Emily). I remember my folks talking of other sons who had died. The daughter married Elmer Lansing. Members of the Lansing family that I remember were Vernon, Walter, Ethel and Hazel. My oldest uncle, Charles, owned a hardware store and implement business in Hayfield, a small town of about 150 people. He also owned the bank which was located in his store. His wife, Tillie, was from a large family. Those I remember were Clarence, Earl, Pearl, Harris (my age), Clark (Hayfield's greatest basketball player), Sylvia and Mabel. Earl and Pearl were both great musicians (piano).
The three oldest sons of George and Mary at one time owned much of the town of Hayfield. Charles was the banker and ran the hardware and implement store. Mort ran the Hayfield Elevator, bought grain and sold coal (much needed during those long, cold winters in Iowa). Frank, the youngest, was a railroad depot agent. A branch of the main train (the so-called "Old Klondike) at Garner which served Hayfield, Crystal Lake, Wodon and Titonka out on the old west. The train left Garner in the morning, made the run (of less than 100 miles) in the forenoon and returned to Garner in the afternoon. They had a passenger car, a mail and baggage car and freight cars picking up and adding to, at each town, cars of hay, grain and other freight or leaving off cars to load with the same. A story was told about the train's crew: With plenty of time to mix pleasure with their job, the crew would stop the train out on the prairie and hunt rabbits (there were lots of rabbits on the prairie in those days). So much for "Old Man Cliff, the Carpenter and Hunter".
My father, John, was a farmer in good old Madison Center, Forest City, Iowa. He bought his farm one year before he was married. I have one brother, Alvin (I called him "Pink") and two sisters, Irene and Viola. Alvin died in 1982 and Irene is also in Gloryland. She and Earl Peterson had twin daughters - Marlys and Marlene. Alvin and Edna had three sons - Arlyn, Calvin and Cecil. My youngest sister, Viola Erdman, had two sons - Larry and Ronald.
The Lackores were Methodists, which was the only Church in good old Hayfield and was across the street from our grandparents' home. My grandmother was a Methodist minister's daughter, a real true Christian. I'll always remember parts of her regular prayers. She ended with asking the blessing on all to the third and fourth generations and am glad and thank the Lord for that wonderful memory.
Back in the old days in the 1800's, I remember my father talking about some of his life out there on the Iowa prairies. There were terrible snow storms and I remember the fine sifting snow, so thick one could hardly breathe. Back to my other story (I am sure it was true). The fine snow blowed through the cracks of their log cabin and was so thick on the bed clothes that Dad could, and did, write his name in the snow on the cloth over his chest.
My father, when Pink and I were really small, was County Constable. I remember (faintly) his big, rusty revolver. It must have been a .38 or larger. He had only one occasion to use it (as dad told it). He had to stop a neighbor in a deal concerning a fence line. The man said, "It's a good thing I was a Christian or I would have shot you!" to which Dad replied, "Then it's a good thing you are!" Dad got rid of that old pistol before Pink and I were old enough to play with it.
LOVE OF MUSIC
I greatly enjoyed music and paid $11 for my first bent-up cornet and I owned two trumpets after that. I played cornet for many years in the Hayfield Band which had about 30 members. About half were farmers, one was my brother Pink (who played his old trombone), my cousin Archie (on clarinet), and eight or more were from the Lackore family (my uncle Frank on saxophone for one). All shared a love of music. We played concerts one night each week, always on the 4th of July and for other celebrations at other towns or places. I played in three other bands with Pink and, some of the time, Archie. I enjoyed this about the most of all the things as I was growing up. I was also the leader of a really nice country orchestra called the Madison Center Rock-A-Doers. We played at basket socials, farm bureau meetings and sometimes for church members (8 to 12 or more). Our snare drummer couldn't read a note. He would say, "How does this one go, Cliff?" But he was a fine rhythm man and enjoyed playing with us.
MARRIAGE & FAMILY
I was married when I was about 25. Most have missed the company of a wonderful, loving and thoughtful wife. We have a great family of six: LaVonne, Donald, Veone, Keith, Dale and Lois. Two live near us here in San Luis Obispo, California. Dale works for Cal Poly College and LaVonne is a retired school teacher.I like carpentry work, working and building with wood. I started working for Barney and Milo Pitken who were father and son contractors from Forest City, Iowa. They framed houses during the summer and finished them during the winter. I got my first job, after field work in the fall, and was paid 35-cents per hour, $3.50 for a (at that time) 10 hour day. I liked my job which was mostly sanding door casings, etc. After we moved to our own farm on the edge of the small town of Colwell (11 miles northeast of Charles City, Iowa), I got a job with Bud Moltz, a contractor from Charles City. I enjoyed working with a gang of 11 or 12 carpenters for about 10 years. I then worked for Stoltz out of New Hampton, who had a contract for 50 houses to be built in Charles City during war times.
I met my wonderful wife at a water fountain in front of the old court house. I had an old Ford and with a friend, Leonard Neilson (who had a date with Winnie's sister Mabel), we all met at the fountain and went for a ride (with me driving and Winnie setting on the far edge of the seat). What a date and what a beginning! Both a bit shy, but we became fond of each other. This all happened at our old home town which is now a city - Forest City, Iowa. I really thank the Lord for my thoughtful and loving wife of more than 60 years. We were married at the Baptist Church by Pastor Tarbox. Afterwards, we went to Mason City and then to visit Winnie's relatives in Corwith and Kanawa. Along the way, we got stuck in a snow bank. So much for that. Now, many many years later, Winnie is the driver of our old Dodge, is my good nurse, part-time secretary and the mother of our family of six - all loving and thoughtful and quite scattered from coast-to-coast. The Lord has blessed us with a fine and thoughtful family.
MOVE TO CALIFORNIA
In 1957 we went west to San Luis Obispo, California. This was a great move. I couldn't stand the cold winter in good old Iowa. I am sure the Lord, our wonderful Savior and God's Son Jesus Christ, really blessed us, took care of us and loved us. We, or rather I, had a job promised by my cousin Vernon Lansing in Riverside, California (south of L.A.). On the way, we stopped here in San Luis Obispo so that Dale could see his girlfriend, Beth Boller. The next morning, from the place where we stayed, I saw a contractor's sign and office about a block down the street. I went to see him. He needed a man, but I had no carpenters' union card. He offered to go to the union office with me the following Monday morning, and did! He told the guy at the office he would give me a job if they would give me a union card. I started working in California, but work slackened during the fall and lots of carpenters were laid off. I got to know Elmer Smith, a contractor who had just starting building. He said that if I could hold off until spring he would hire me as his first carpenter. I worked for him about 15 years until I retired. After starting at 35-cents per hour, I ended up making almost $10.00 per hour.
- LAVONNE is now a retired school teacher. She taught school for many years and still does some tutoring to first graders who are slow in learning to read. Her husband, Donald Todd, died when their two daughters were quite young. Marilyn Metters and her husband, Bud, who works for Warner Bros Studios, live in Valencia, California (near L.A.). They were married in Germany while he was in the U.S. military. They have a son, Todd, now a junior in High School and a daughter, Megan, in Public School. Marilyn works part-time for a college there in Valencia. LaVonne's other daughter, Joanne, lives and works in Eugene, Oregon and has a daughter, Kelly, in High School and a son, Marc, in Public School.
- DONALD works for a chemical plant in Charles City, Iowa. His wife Margaret teaches school in Charles City. They have two sons. David lives in Southern Texas and is attending Texas A&M College. Daniel is a trucker here in California and has a son, Nate.
- VEONE and her husband, Curt Browning, live in Central Florida. Veone has four children by her first marriage. Cindy and her husband Richard Silva, have a jewelry store in Massachusetts. Greg and his wife, Phyllis, have a son, Mark, and a daughter, Ashley. Pam, husband Ron and daughter Amy live in Interlochen, Florida. Douglas and wife Cindy live in Florida. Their two children are Brian and Kyle. Curt has three children - Curtis, Jr., Aleta and Robert. They have a large family and get along well together.
- KEITH is a trucker in east central Iowa. His son, Eric, wife Peggy and son Eric, Jr. are still in Iowa. But Eric has enlisted in the military and is learning a trade. Keith's two adopted sons, Jeff and Randy, are both married.
- DALE lives here in San Luis Obispo and works for Cal Poly College. His wife, Beth, is a real home builder, grand homemaker and good mother to their two children. Mike has a large milk route here in San Luis. Their daughter, Kimi, our youngest grandchild, is now a Sophomore at Cuesta College, likes school and is a great basketball player. Our youngest grandchild in College! How time flies.
- LOIS, our youngest chick, and her husband live in San Angelo, Texas. Dale Anderson, is a retired Navy man and is now a mailman in San Angelo. Lois worked for Sears for many years. They have two sons. Terry married his wife, Carla, in 1984 and they live near Lois and Dale. They both work in a bank in San Angelo. Their other son, Keith, his wife, Tammie, and their daughter, April, live at Austin, Texas. Keith is learning to be a mechanic.
We have many, many grandchildren and great grandchildren and we humbly thank our Lord for this fine family. We belong to the Calvary Baptist Church in San Luis Obispo, which we joined soon after coming to California. We love the Lord, our wonderful savior, and his people. This is 1984 and 27 years in California. We spent about 13 years in Colwell, Iowa where I was a farmer, carpenter, member of Colwell Congregation Church, and part of the time, a deacon. Also, for many years, I was the town clerk and remember writing checks for Town Marshall Dale Boyer, Mayor Russell, for light, street and fire hall and fire truck. I was also the treasurer for the Consolidated Schools for a few years and remember writing checks for five teachers and the janitor. Lots of book work was involved. I remember looking for a mistake of 15-cents for quite some time and then finding it in two places. A 5-cent mistake and a 10-cent one. I remember writing several checks to Margaret Crook and then having to change the name to Margaret Lackore. She has been a great daughter-in-law and still teaches school in Charles City School where they live.
Here is a true story involving LaVonne and Don (who was just big enough to walk): They left the house to go to the field where I was working. Crossing the pasture, there was a water tank with mud around it, caused by water overflowing. Well, Don got stuck in the mud and LaVonne hurried back to the house with this: "Mommy! Mommy! Don can't get out of the mud. I can't help him!"
And now, thinking back and with plenty of time to do just that, I am reminded that I've had a good, full and busy life and am so thankful for so many, many blessings of God, our family, neighbors and friends. And here, an after thought. We bought books and school supplies for more than 35 years. Our family was scattered out a bit, and it was a good thing. It's not easy to raise a family, especially for the mother. May God bless mother.
As I pen these few lines in 1984, I am 86 years and thanking the Lord for each breath and heart beat.
1978 Oral History Interview
by Cliff's Great Granddaughter, Kelly Rabun (age 10)
WHO WERE YOUR VERY BEST FRIENDS AS YOU WERE GROWING UP?
- We had a Sunday School in the old school house out on the prairie and one friend was about as good as another, I guess. They were all we had as friends and we sure got along good.
WHAT WERE PEOPLE LIKE THEN IN COMPARISON WITH THOSE TODAY?
- Quite different. Very different. I don't know. It just seems, maybe I shouldn't say it, but people are a little more selfish. And they don't get along as good as we did. There wasn't so much doing and we had to depend more on each other. More than you do now.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE TOY AND WHAT WAS IT LIKE?
- Toys? Oh boy! I got a little car, believe it or not. That was before I hardly knew what a car was. But you drove it with a chain from the front wheels. I don't remember quite how it was. But, I had a lot of fun with that little thing.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE SPORT AND HOW DID YOU PLAY IT?
- My favorite sport was baseball, of course. You can't call it sand lot it was pasture lot! We played, oh, whenever, like a Sunday afternoon, or something like that.
WHAT WAS YOUR SCHOOL LIKE?
- School? Oh boy! That first school, as I remember it, was quite a bit like mom said. There were seats on both sides and a big-bellied stove in the center and a big recitation seat. That was for each class when the class was called up. That was a long seat for about 10 to 12 pupils. And it was cold in the winter time, believe me!
WHAT DID YOU WEAR TO SCHOOL? DECRIBE IT.
- Overalls, of course. We didn't dress up very much.
ABOUT HOW MUCH DID YOU TRAVEL WITH YOUR FAMILY IN A YEAR AND WHERE DID YOU GO?
- Travel with the family? Well, my mother's father and mother lived in a place called Garner and it was about eleven miles away. About once a month or a month and a half we'd go to see them in a big surrey with the fringe on top and a team of horses. It was quite a drive!
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE PLACE THAT YOU'VE EVER VISITED AND WHAT WAS IT LIKE?
- You mean when I was young, huh? Oh, Pilot Knob. It was a place east of Forest City, Iowa about seven or eight miles and was the highest place in the state.
WHERE DID YOU LIVE? DESCRIBE THE SURROUNDINGS.
- We lived on a farm out on the prairie. I remember my dad telling about prairie dog's holes, mounds and rattlesnakes. And the mounds, of course, were the ground that the prairie dogs dug up to build their burrows and rattlesnakes lived in 'em. How they got along, don't ask me that.
WHAT WAS THE HOUSE AND TOWN YOU LIVED IN LIKE? WHAT WERE THE SURROUNDINGS?
- Like I said before, it was out on the prairie. To begin with, there were no fences and the road, of course, was just sort of a trail. Really a muddy road when it rained. We had a framed house and a barn. Forest City was really young.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST CAR LIKE?
- My first car was an old Ford and I had to crank it to start the motor, you know. It wasn't a self-starter, believe me! It had wooden wheels and if you got a flat tire you just took it off and fixed it.
WHAT KINDS OF TRANSPORTATION WERE THERE WHILE YOU WERE GROWING UP?
- Bicycles were pretty good and there were livery stables in town where you could hire a team and surrey if you wanted to go out in the country a ways.
HOW DID YOU GET TO SCHOOL?
- Oh, we walked about a mile and a half, I guess it was. Only in the winter when it was blizzarding, my dad would take us in the sleigh and I can remember that the horses could hardly face the storm. Weall covered up with blankets and I remember the icicles hanging from the bottom of Dad's moustache.
WHAT KIND OF FOOD DID YOU LIKE?
- We had a lot of cornmeal and a lot of graham bread. Dad would take the corn and some wheat in sacks to a mill about eleven miles from home and have it ground for graham flour and cornmeal. We'd have johnny cakes, mush, cornmeal and real, real wholewheat bread.
WHAT KIND OF VEGETABLES DID YOU GROW IN YOUR GARDEN?
- Most all common vegetables: beets, turnips and carrots were quite popular at that time. Of course, lettuce and tomatos and...
WHAT KINDS OF PRESENTS DID YOU GET FOR CHRISTMAS WHEN YOU WERE YOUNG?
- Presents? Oh boy! We'd hang up our stockings at Christmas time, I remember, and right down in the very toe would be an apple and maybe that would be followed by an orange. That was REALLY something! And sometimes we'd get a jack-knife, my brother and I... each one. And probably some fruit, if there was fruit. Other fruit like a banana, a piece of cake or a cookie. Cookies especially! We didn't get very many presents.
DID YOU CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS THE SAME WAY THAT YOU DO NOW OR DIFFERENTLY?
- Well, no. A little later on we had church programs, Christmas teas probably. We always had time together. That was a very regular and steady thing. We had a wonderful time at Christmas.
WHAT KIND OF MEDICINE DID YOU HAVE FOR COLDS AND FLU?
- Well, for salve we had the old carbolic salve, a black, sticky salve that really did the job. And we had some camphor ointment for colds.
HOW LONG DID $50 LAST DURING YOUR YOUTH AND WHAT DID IT BUY?
- Fifty cents? Fifty dollars! Woah! If you'd have said twenty dollars it would have sounded pretty big. I don't remember ever seeing anything like a fifty dollar piece. When I was a little older, I played in the band, and I'll never forget that first check I got for a concert we played. We played a summer concert for nothing, but when it came to the fall concert they gave us seven dollars a piece. That was really something at that time.
WHAT KIND OF APPLIANCES DID YOU HAVE?
- Whew, boy! There wasn't electricity. I remember my mother had an old egg beater that she beat up eggs with. Of course, she cracked them with her hand, you know. And that was quite an appliance. She baked her pancakes on a big, flat griddle. She could make about four or five cakes at once.
WHAT KINDS OF JOBS DID YOU HAVE?
- Jobs? Well, whatever there was to do on a farm. My dad didn't like machinery. When we got our first combiner, I remember I had to get up there and run that thing. There was a whole raft of levers and I sat up there and cried. But I had the best of it, I remember.
HOW MUCH MONEY DID YOU GET ON YOUR HIGHEST PAYING JOB?
- When I was 18 or 19, I worked for my uncle. He raised sugar beets and I think he paid me $75 a month. But that was extreme. He told me himself. We shoveled piles and piles of beets into wagons to be shipped to the factory.
WHAT DID YOU HAVE TO DO FOR CHORES?
- We had cows to milk, chickens to feed and all those places to clean out. In the winter time we might have to get things loosened up with a pick to clean out behind the cows and the horses.
WHAT THINGS WERE INVENTED WHILE YOU WERE GROWING UP?
- Radio. I remember that. I think I was 10, maybe more than that. Anyways, there were a couple of guys in our town. They were the Ames brothers and they made a radio. I used to listen to that radio. Later on, my cousin Archie and I made a radio. We bought the parts and the earphones. There were no speakers and we couldn't get too far away. Maybe across the lake, about 50 miles.
WHAT KINDS OF BOOKS DID YOU LIKE TO READ?
- I liked novels of the west and Zane Gray. They were good.
WHAT WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE OF THE DEPRESSION?
- That didn't effect us quite as much as city folks because we had our corn and wheat growing and we had our milk and butter, of course, and eggs. We didn't have to buy too much more.
DID YOU AGREE WITH HAVING WAR?
- No. I don't go for that very much. But, I think the first world war we owed France a debt and perhaps that was the thing to do. The second world war was unnecessary. That's my way of thinking. Because, if we'd stayed out of it like Sweden and some of those other countries over there, they would have fought it themselves and we wouldn't have been in it. I think it's just a matter of wanting power and greed.
WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION TO THE KENNEDY ASSASSINATION?
- Well, I'm a Republican, you know. But I liked Kennedy. I think he did the country a lot of good.
WHAT ABOUT THE INVENTIONS THAT HAVE MADE THE MOST PROGRESS IN YOUR LIFETIME?
- Of course, travel in air is one. It's come a long way. And then there's the inventions in mathematics.
DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN YOU TALKED ON YOUR FIRST TELEPHONE?
- Not exactly. I just remember that there were two wires running to our house and there were 16 to 18 parties on each of the two lines. There was a switch above the phone. To reach the other half of the people you had to flip the little switch.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO SAY ANYTHING ELSE?
- I'd like to say that I was born in 1898... way back yonder! It was a different century and I was just thinking... if I should live 20 years I will have lived in three different centuries. Of course, I don't expect that. But the good Lord has been really good to me.