Pioneer Boy - O. A. Roberts

by

Todd Burton

 

Pioneer boys and girls had fun just like the boys and girlsdo today. My grandfather, Orval A. Roberts, lived near Page, North Dakotaabout a mile out of town when he was a boy.

He was born near Kimeo, Kansas on August 5, 1899. He cameto Page with his parents when he was about one and half years old. Theycame in sort of a covered wagon. They drove a team of horses.

When he was a boy on his father's farm, he got up beforesunrise. After he combed his hair and washed his face, he was ready forbreakfast. For breakfast they had pancakes or oatmeal and potatoes. Thenhe went to school. He walked to school during the summer or warm days,and he rode in a wagon on cold winter's days. His father drove him to schoolwith horses.

They did different things than we do now. For one thing,they worked harder. Grandpa had to help with the morning farm chores whenhe was about nine or ten years old. They played all of their games outside. Games the children played were stealing sticks, three old cats (somethinglike baseball), prisoner's base, hide and go seek, and fox and geese. Indoors,they played blind man's bluff especially on cold wintry days.

When Grandpa came to school in the winter, it was coldin the school house. There would never be a fire in the stove, but if therewas it was quite useless.

It it was really cold outside, they were permitted to runaround in the school room to keep their feet warm. They wore bib overallsover warm long johns (underwear). Sometimes, they wore knickers insteadof overalls.

After school, Grandpa would carry wood for the stove, gatherthe eggs, carry out ashes, get a pail of water and chores like that.

Everybody had cows. The children had to help with themilking. They got their milk from the cows. They drank this milk withtheir supper. Grandpa usually had bean soup, potatoes and some fruit forsupper. Sometimes they had a cake.

After supper they family made up their own fun. They cutout pictures, colored or played games. When the new catalogues came, theywould look at it front to back and back to front.

On Sundays, Grandpa's family would not go to church allthe time, because the church was so far away. All the neighbors would cometogether for church. On holidays, they would get together and have parties. Grandpa and the other children would get chairs and place them in a circle. They put a blanket over it and it would be a tent.

The farm was always fun. There was never a dull moment. When it hailed, Grandpa would gather the hail stones and they made icecream. That was always fun.

Grandpa would go fox hunting too. He put some hay in thewagon and took along some water to flush the foxes out of their holes. Sometimes, he got 12 to 13 foxes in one day. Those were nests of baby foxes. He would also go hunting for skunks, badgers, and weasels. They also huntedfor gophers. They liked to hunt gophers during the noon hour at school. His father paid him one cent for each gopher tail he brought home.

The boys and girls of yesteryear had to make up their ownfun, just like we do today. They didn't watch TV like we do, and maybethey had more fun that we do.

Bibliography

Roberts, Orval A., Humboldt, MN, Interview, February 1974+1>Roberts, Orval A., Humboldt, MN, Interview, February 1974