By Harry Austin Clapp
I can remember when gasoline was purchased at the drug store by the ounce and used for cleaning purposes; when the Standard Oil Company threw it away as refuse and would have been glad of a market at one cent per gallon; when candles were used in every home and they were made in the home by dipping the wick in fat until the desired size was obtained; when the first candle molds were used; when the first naptha lamp came to our town; when kerosene sold at eight cents per gallon, and came in big wooden barrels, painted blue, and each barrel was tested for flashing by a state inspector before a sale was allowed; when I saw the first electric light, an arc, in Chicago, in front of the Grand Pacific Hotel. It was a curiosity and I doubt if there were more than two dozen in the town; when the first fonograf came to our town, brought by a showman who asked twenty-five cents to use it and hear it squeak "Papa, Momma. Mary had a little lamb;" when the first telefone was established in our town and I considered it wonderful when I talked with a friend twelve miles distant. Before that we used a fone made of a tin can with a bladder stretched across the opening, and for short distance, it gave fair service. I can remember when locomotives burned wood and had stacks that were about four feet across the top. Great wood yards were in every railroad yard and the engineers paid for the wood delivered to them with brass checks, good for one cord, one-half cord, as the case might be. I have several of the wood tokens used by the Northern Indiana and Southern Michigan, afterwards the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern and now a part of the New York Central; when the engine boilers were bound in brass and the machine painted red and striped with gold; when the crew always used the same engine and had to take care of it and keep it up; when the coaches were coupled with link and pin and the only brakes were operated by hand, and the water for drinking was kept in tea kettles with loops around the outside which held tin cups and at stated times the brakeman would pass through the train and offer water to the passengers and at times when the engineer whistled for brakes he would drop the container and rush to the platform and twist on the brake wheels; when no tickets were sold, all fares being paid in cash to the conductor and he would allow his friends to ride at reduced rates and often free of charge; when the conductor hired his won crew.
I can remember when every store was supplied with hitching racks, board walks and cloth awnings; when back of every church was a long row of stalls in which teams were driven to protect them the weather. I can remember when hogs sold for five cents a pound and cattle for six cents; when ham and bacon retained for eight to ten cents, eggs six cents, butter ten, twenty-five pounds sugar for one dollar and crackers twenty pounds for a dollar, liver, tongue and heart free if one carried it away, if not fed to the dogs. Apples free if one picked them but fifteen cents per barrel provided one furnished the barrel, potatoes twenty to twenty-five cents per bushel and wheat was good money at eighty cents per bushel. I can remember when a shave cost ten cents and a hair cut the same and one who kept a private mug at the barber shop was a plutocrat. The mugs were decorated with flowers and the name of the owner emblazoned in gold. I have my mug at this time, so I was a Pluto. It was the height of aristocracy to own one's razor. One could sit in comfort in the barber shop, hear talk of the latest news, solve all local and national problems and enjoy reading the Police Gazette and look at the shapely and beautiful legs displayed therein. The barber shop was always open Sunday mornings and there gathered the solid men of the town to have a week's growth of spinach removed so they could go to church with friend wife.
I can remember when all shot guns were muzzle loaders and the hunter carried powder and shot in cow horn flasks slung from his shoulder; when the first breech loaders appeared and a ten-gauge was considered the thing and a twelve nothing but a toy for boys to use. At that time shells were made of brass and saved for re-loading. I can remember when all goods were marked in shillings and the purchaser was informed that twenty-five pounds of sugar was offered for eight shillings. I can remember when at all elections each party printed its own tickets and distributed them all over the town and it was a common thing to accompany a voter right up to the polls and see that he voted as he was paid to vote. I have in my possession a ballot used when Lincoln and Hamblin ran and my grandfather's name is on the ticket as Register of Deeds.
I can remember a three-inch fall of snow caused the girls to hold up their skirts until we could see their ankles. Today the show would be four feet deep before it would cause any skirt raising and then one would see nothing except what one has long ago tired of seeing. I can remember when each town had its own time and the railroad another and how the local burghers put up a fight against the use of standard time; when a day's work began at seven in the morning and ended at six p. m., and stone masons received $1.50 and carpenters the same salary and on that they were fine citizens, owned their own homes and reared and educated large families; when stores opened at 6 a. m. and remained open until nine or ten at night and clerks received $25.00 per month if they were good ones. I can remember the members of all families took the Saturday night bath in the big wooden tub in the kitchen and my mother, much to my disgust, insisted on giving me the once over and scrubbed my ears. Gosh, how I hated the ordeal.
Just here the miserable wretch butts in to say, "some one should give you the once over now."
I can remember when many people died from inflammation of the bowels, for fashionable appendicitis was unknown and even then to cut into the abdominal cavity was to lose the patient. I can remember when a well-known surgeon amputated a finger at the hand with his jack knife which he sharpened on his boot. I can remember when an income of fifty dollars a month was riches and enabled a man to keep a driving horse and knowingly discuss the virtues of side-bar buggles, timpkin springs and single-strap harness. Such a man owned a good home, raised his family in affluence and sent them away for the finish. I can remember when every village supported from three to fifteen saloons and at least one house of ill fame and when gamblers were considered pretty fair citizens. I can remember when it was considered the proper thing for young boys to "sow their wild oats" but if a girl made a miss-step she was shunned by all good Christians and became a social leper.
I can remember when the local physician did all the tooth pulling and a man was considered a bit nutty who went out of town and had a tooth filled. On his return it was his pleasure to show it to all the gobs and relate his experience while in the dental chair. I can remember when the firm of A. Clapp & Son, Merchants and Bankers (my grandfather and father) issued their own money. The bills were engraved and bore the words, "A. Clapp & Son will pay to the bearer on demand the sum of one dollar." It was passed in all the country about and it was good money for it was always redeemed on demand. I have several specimens of it in my possession. I can remember that when any inhabitant of our town or surrounding country died that the church bell tolled the number of years of the deceased's age and folks would stop their work and counting would say, "seventy-one, seventy-two, seventy-three, well, I guess old lady Rogers has gone." I can remember when much of the wheat was cut with a cradle; when the first reaper appeared which cut the wheat and delivered it in bunches for men who followed to bind; when the first Marsh harvester appeared which employed two men on a platform who bound the wheat and threw on the ground for the followers to carry into shocks. I can remember many other things, but--
"The leaves of memory seem to make a mournful rustling in the dark."
--The First of Drift Wood, by Longfellow.
Looking back on what I can remember and thinking of the changes that have come to pass during my years, I am forced to believe that the world has made great progress, that people live better lives, that they are more and more coming to arrange their lives, their thoughts, on the teachings of Jesus Christ and that in the distant future they world will attain some what near perfection. It will not be this century or the next or the next, but just as certain as God is in His Heaven and the Spirit of His Son walks this earth men will come to follow him more and more and the time will come when man will see a great light that shines from a new day. Read Deuteronomy xxxi:6.
I also remember that last Monday the Son of a King came to Homecroft and gave me a big pork roast. Maybe it weighed twenty pounds, maybe not more than six, but it sure was a fine roast and as I and the miserable wretch filled our tummies we again thanked that Son of a King for his thoughtfulness. I am glad I joined the King's Daughters.
Tom Fulcher is gathering about him his family for a son has arrived to cultivate the old Gableman place and a daughter, Mrs. Hendricks, and family have moved to the Holsworth farm. Mr. and Mrs. Fulcher certainly have three splendid daughters but I do not think any of them were brought up on the biscuits Tom made, else they would not have such fine complexions. I think the family's health will be better now that Mrs. Fulcher is back on the cooking job.
Mrs. Seth Corse was taken ill Tuesday night and was carried to Blessing where she will be with her daughter, Mrs. Duller.
The truck bringing in a load of school pupils.
For the benefit of the lady readers of the Tribune I will say that I am not as old as some of the boys and
"If there's any one here who wants to kiss me,
They will find me as young as I used to be."
(Osculation to be without knowledge of or in the presence of the Miserable Wretch.)
The Daily Tribune, February 8, 1929
By Harry Austin Clapp
[Local information taken from longer article.]
That court house clock reposing in some junk pile is in my thoughts almost daily, and I miss it every time I visit Bay City. It was so friendly, especially when approaching the town by night. In order to allow folks to use the clock, why not erect a campanile or clock tower on the court house grounds? Build it at least twenty-five feet higher than the court house and in the top install the clock so its friendly face could be visible for some miles and its hands beckon the approaching visitor to the city. The slender proportions of a campanile pointing to the sky would give an impression of lightness and grace. Dedicate it to those who gave their lives during the late war and have it consecrated by the American Legion.
Judd Mortimer Lewis in Saturday's Houston Post-Dispatch tells of a man who ate five pies each day during his life and lived to be eighty-seven. Had he ate less pies and consumed more of the famous Carrie Nelson Superlative Noodles there would have been no reason for him to die so young.
Frances Eisel has blossomed out into a red bird. I always knew she was a bird and am glad it is a red bird for the color is satisfying to my eye.
As many of our girls are now wearing trousers, I wonder why us boys should not wear dresses. A dress would look swell on Arthur Soekland. Few fellows have as fine a figure.
Mr. and Mrs. Carl Boeker down with influenza, but better as this is written. Neither of them use R. J. R.
Here comes Miss Frances Mayfield, county health nurse with a beautiful bouquet consisting of rich, red tomatoes and beautiful green head lettuce. I enjoyed the fragrance and flavor. Miss Mayfield reports that she is receiving real co-operation from the teachers and pupils of Bay View school in the health sponsorship of the Industrial League. She states that at the county scholastic meet which will be held at Palacios in March she will lead a health parade and expects that our local school will participate 100 percent strong. There seems to be some misunderstanding as to the duties of a county health nurse, and I confess that I did not understand, so I have taken the trouble to investigate and find that while she is under the joint control of the county court and the state board of health, the latter define and regulate her duties and they are divided into two divisions: (a) one-half of her time must be spent in school work, and (b) one-half her time in maternity and infancy cases. Well, one-half and one-half make one, so I can see that she has very little time for other cases and if, when, and as, she answers calls to attend any outside these two divisions she does so by stealing the time from her regular duties. Some seem to think the county nurse is at the beck and call of any person who may be down in bed with an illness. At the time of the late cyclone disaster she was ordered by the state board of health and the county court to drop her regular duties and give her time to the stricken ones which she did. From now on Miss Mayfield will visit the school every Monday teaching the children health rules and first aid.
I am writing this under difficulties for am suffering from what I diagnose as a cracked rib. It is the fifth member of the lower clavicle close to the pantod which of course may involve the vermifuge and if this occurs it seems reasonable that the carborundum may be infected which might make it necessary to open the abdominal cavity and remove the cevrix. I give this information so you readers will pardon the rambling nature of these thoughts, for how can a man concentrate with a busted slat?
Well, when you boys and girls read this, remember that my only sister is here at Homecroft and that I, sister and the miserable wretch are having happiness in great gobs. No man ever had a better sister than my Lucy, and few ever had one so fine, splendid and loyal and--well, anyway I love her all the day and all the night. Lucy arrived just in time to meet the recent norther which sent the mercury down to 24 and she is not at all fascinated with the "Sunny South."
Arnold, Dorothy and Clifford Franzen drifted home the other day, probably to get a snack of home cooking. Everyone glad to see these fine kiddos.
The Daily Tribune, February 13, 1929
By Harry Austin Clapp.
"The keener tempests rise, and fuming dun
From all the livid east, or piercing north.
Thick clouds ascend: in whose capacious womb
A vapory deluge lies, to snow congealed.
Heavy they roll their fleecy world along;
And the sky saddens with the gathering storm.
As I read these words it comes to me that Mr. James Thompson must have spent some time in the "Sunny Southland," else how could he have found, originated, or established the inspiration that enabled him to write the words which I find by reading The Seasons: Winter?
It very well describes what happened during the past week. A norther fierce as a hungry lion swooped down on us poor mortals and folded us in its icy embrace. Well, you win the bet, for Mrs. Mercury dropped clear down to what is called, for measurements sake, twenty-four above zero. Suffering flounders, but us burghers crawled into our holes and set up prayers for "clearing weather and rising temperatures." What cared we if the papers did announce that in Montana it was twenty-four below zero? All we knew was that in Collegeport it was--
"Clear as a bell,
Cold as hell."
We shivered and hung over our stoves and at night I snuggled close to the miserable wretch and thanked the Lord that she was good for a warming pad.
Trying to write a letter to Mary Louise, I gave up, for as I wrote her "my fingers are froze while I write with my nose."
At times I thought that to die freezing would not be unpleasant, but rather agreeable for life during the days of norther lasted was just one damned fight after another, not for food, but for wood, and it seemed that never could the stove's appetite for wood be satisfied, gratified, pleased. The waters of the bay, driven out to sea by the forty-mile gale, left great flats of mud which froze in the icy blasts, leaving hundreds of trout and red fish stranded on the flats while oyster reefs exposed by the low tide were covered with frozen spray.
Robert Murry quit rolling the bull long enough to wade out in the dead bay and bring in sixty big trout which were so nearly frozen that they could no longer wiggle a tail. Others did the same.
My sister, Lucy, is disgusted with the "Sunny South" and wishes she was back in Indiana where it is about ten below zero. No accounting for some peoples' taste.
Read in the paper that they had a fresh outbreak of foot and mouth disease in California. Here in Texas--right in our capital city of Austin--we have a regular epidemic of the same disease and some action should be taken to frustrate, defeat, balk, thwart or, if you know what I mean, to bring naught any attempt to spread the infection. Now, take Judge Carpenter, he is up there milling around with the infected herd and who knows but that he will return to Bay City and infect the inhabitants of that burg which is located 25 miles from a bay. It might spread to this city and with the presence of the disease already established here we might very easily be wiped off the map.
Twenty years ago when a woman wore enough clothes to load John Merck's truck, it took her two hours to dress. Ten years ago when she wore half as many, it still required two hours to dress, and now, when she wears as near nothing as possible and avoid arrest for exposure of her person, she still uses up two hours for dressing. I wonder whereinthehell any time is saved. Maybe John Merck can explain the matter.
"When the evening shadows fall,
Comes the soft sonorous call,
By the streamlet 'neath the moon,
When the cowslips are in bloom,
Faintly sounds the harp like trill,
"Whippoorwill! Whippoorwill! Whippoorwill!"
Like a tale that music tells,
Through the woodland's swampy dells,
Where the bluebell droops its head
When the twilight sky is red,
Softly comes that mournful trill,
"Whippoorwill! Whippoorwill! Whippoorwill!"
I love the whippoorwill as he sounds his swooping call at night, but say, if you care to see something beautiful, come down to the post office any night and see our "Red bird."
The outlaws who, by breaking up the discipline in one of the rooms of our local school and caused a worthy young woman to give up her position have reason to be very proud of their work. She lost about four month's salary which was badly needed and they gained nothing of any value.
You hoodlums, young outlaws, I congratulate you on the success of your venture. You have done something of which your parents will be very proud and every patron of the school shares in the pride.
The Bowers store is giving real service since Mrs. Ash has been in charge. Real pleasure to spend a nickel with her.
Ira Corporon hung up a couple of fine hogs the other day in his smoke house, but the other morning found that some two-legged miscreant had eloped with the meat. Must have been the same fellow who stole the coal from the school house.
The Woman's Club held their annual Valentine party at the Holsworth home with the usual fine eats. The games were quite silly stuff, but caused considerable amusement to those who watched L. E. Liggett and George Braden caper about trying to imitate children. Seems to me that so dignified an organization as the Woman's Club could by some device, scheme, artifice, expedient, design, or if you know what I mean, arrange a program with dignity and at the same time of lasting value to the guests. It was a fine party after all is said and done and enjoyed by those fortunate enough to have an invitation.
Well, anyway, we are all set for the annual celebration of Washington's birthday. This affair is sponsored by the Woman's Union. If the menu includes some of the famous Carrie Nelson Noodles I will arrange to be present, but no noodles and all I can say is "I dunno."
Mrs. Emmitt Chiles sports red tin signs on front and rear of her Dodge and so is eligible to operate outside of the city limits.
Quite a number of our local cars dare not operate farther than the post office.
Verner Bowers started by auto for a party at Wadsworth and stalled in the mud near the river bridge. He reports the walking quite sloppy and from the looks of his clothing it was that--plus.
The Bachman store is now in the hardware business which supplies a long felt want.
When this is printed I will be all alone, for my sister and the miserable wretch have went to San Antonio. In their absence there is an opening for some good looking, warm-hearted, lonesome girl to find a happy home and loving friend husband. Of course it would be on the installment plan, for the miserable wretch will only be gone four days. Hurry up girls and file your applications.
They go to visit my adorable daughter who taps the keys in San Antonio.
"I can vision the coloring come and glow
In the face of my treasure,
I may not see with mine eyes but I know
That she will enjoy the meeting in full measure.
At times, I think the days are wasted and so tall
But the sacrifice is for me a pleasing duty
For Mary Louise has answered the call
That brings to her life a flowering beauty."
--Fragments From Hack.
Well, anyway, sister Lucy, daughter Mary Louise and the miserable wretch, will have a happy four days and so I am glad that I can stay at home, milk cows, feed chickens, make B. M. cook my meals and at night fight the chilling air.
Had a splendid letter from Ora and Oscar. They are happy in their new life and both attend night school, and soon Ora will be tapping the keys something like this: "Mr. Carex Smitz, Baw Kity, Tesaz: Pleze renez mi Tribuwn fur Another yEar fur de exclosed $p:50 cents. yoUrw Trulx, Oxa cHapxn. Nothing like being an expert on the Corona.
Weather looks settled and farmers are arranging to get the land ready for planting. Looks like about 3,000 acres of cotton. Jack Holsworth reports that under his management 600 acres will be planted.
Lent is here with its season of denial and 'tis good for many to remember that way back yonder more than two thousand years a more than man denied Himself that we might have and enjoy those things that we now possess. The Lenten season should cause us all to reflect on the past, arrange in these forty days our lives so that with Easter we may enter into a new, a joyous life, a more spiritual living for the balance of the year.
Daily Tribune, February 22, 1929
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