Monday, June 1, 2020

Kings Valley: Memories of Retha Grieg 2

This post continues Retha Allen Grieg's recollections about growing up in Kings Valley.

“One of Aunt Ashney’s granddaughters, Anna Hawley, lives nearby.  We visit often and have talked about the similarity of our growing up years.  We knew very few of today’s conveniences and pleasures.  Radio and television were yet to be invented.  I suppose there were cars in the cities but there wasn’t in the county.  Horses were used for any traveling and the roads were muddy in winter and dusty in summer.  We walked to school, there were no school buses.  As we grew up we both had to do our share of the necessary work such as filling the lamps with coal-oil, trimming the wicks and washing the sooty chimneys.  We both had to carry water for house-hold use.  Many gallons of it were needed for the Monday clothes washing.

Quilt made by Ashna Pickett [the writer's great-aunt]

“When the warm, spring weather came there was a big, extra wash day when winter blankets and quilts were done.  That day two saw horses were set up in the back yard, a stout pole was crossed from one to the other and the big, black iron kettle was swung from the pole.  The kettle was filled with water, a fire built under it and soon blanket and quilt washing was under way.  The soap used was made from wood-ash lye and cracklings from the fat rendering.  The kettle had been used for both the rendering and the soap making.   A large iron kettle was almost indispensable those early days.  Every settler owned one of shared one with a neighbor or relative. 
“The noon meal that outside wash day would likely be apples from the store room and fire-toasted bread covered with brown sugar. Quite often there would be a sprinkling of ashes mixed in with the sugar. (The bread had a way of falling off the toasting sticks to the fire's side). The noon meal on the regular was day was different.  That day we had little white navy beans cooked in their own iron pot.  A big piece of smoked ham or a meaty ham-bone was always boiled with the beans.  If the early garden was ready, there would be a red-leaf lettuce salad.

“Since my father and mother were both pioneer descendents [sic], we heard many stories of the Plains crossing and settlement of the new land.

“One story was about Hopestill [Hopestill King Norton, the writer's great-grandmother]

Portrait of Hopestill King Norton
She was along in her very early Kings Valley home.  She sat down to rest from some heavy work she had been doing and dropped off to sleep, suddenly.  Even though asleep she sensed something disturbing.

Hopestill Norton's rocking chair

On opening her eyes she saw a large, half-clothed indian in her doorway.  He was standing there, arms akimbo, regarding her steadily.  Hopestill was alarmed but not frantically so.  She had been told that indians believed a sleeping person to be in communication with the spirits and must not be awakened lest the spirits be offended and some important message broken off.  The indian was patiently waiting for her to waken by herself that he might ask for food.  Hopestill prepared a meal and took it outside to him.  The indian ate the food, gave her a glance of appreciation and went on his way.  Although it hadn't been really frightening, the circumstances were alarming enough that the telling of it was passed on down to succeeding generations.”

By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon