I was born to James Wilford Wardle and Melissa Ann Shaw at Victor, Idaho on October 29, 1915. I was their first child. Wilford was 24 and Melissa 22 and they had been married about two and a half years at the time of my birth. I was born in a little two-room log cabin with a doctor in attendance.
The home into which I was born was better furnished than the homes of most young couples of that time. My father and his brother, Roy had been sent into some really rough situations from the time my father was about 14. They were out herding sheep for months at a time with some very rough men. Their father promised them that if they would not smoke that he would give each of them a $100 when they married. Roy did not keep his bargain, but Wilford did. However, instead of giving Wilford the promised $100, his parents selected and bought furniture for the young couple. Melissa always resented this. She had wanted to select her own furniture. The furniture chosen was good and included a bed, a chest of drawers, a low dresser with mirror, a square wooden table, chairs and a rocker, the one that was always in the home of my parents and which I now have.
At first, Wilford earned their living by working with his father freighting in and out of Teton Basin. The winter that I was one and a half we lived in a little house on a flat by Tetonia. My father was sick much of the winter with rheumatism and related ailments which kept him practically bed fast. Melissa had to take care of the horses, milk the cows (a chore she was to have much of her life), chop wood, carry water, care for her husband and child and keep house.
I seem to have a memory of this time. I had a bright red coat, cap, and mittens. My mother would put these on me and take me out of doors. I loved to be out in the cold, crisp air and the dazzling sunshine and run around on the crusted snow. Flocks of birds were about and I would try to catch them. I would get away from my mother and run swiftly and lightly on the crusted snow. She would break through the crust as she tried to catch me. Sometimes getting me back was difficult.
My parents homesteaded on the hills east of Tetonia and Clawson, but there really wasn't much land suitable for farming. The little house was nestled in the quaking asps. By this time Lula had joined our family. I have a few memories of this home. The first is its already mentioned location. Then I remember the house being warm, spotlessly clean and lamp-lit. We rode in a wagon if we went anywhere.
My chief memory is rather frightening. For an outhouse, my father nailed a short length of quaking asp trunk between two other trees. We had to sort of sit on and hang over the trunk to go to the bathroom. This outhouse was a short distance from the house and on the other side of a little knoll. I remember being afraid to go there alone in the dark. Something must have frightened me badly on one trip because I had a reoccurring nightmare about the knoll and the trip to it. I dreamed that I was on my way to the outhouse when the side of the knoll opened like a big door. Inside was hell, with huge fires, blowing smoke, demons and a devil dressed in red with horns, tail and a pitchfork who stood just inside the opening and came after me. I dreamed this same dream every night of my life form about age three or four until I was twelve. I remember lying in bed, terrified and trying to force myself to stay awake so I wouldn't dream it. But, I'd always fall asleep and have the dream, waking up just before the devil caught me. I prayed, oh how I prayed to not have the dream, but I guess I didn't pray hard enough the the nightly dream continued. When I was twelve, the dream suddenly ceased. One night I had the dream as usual. the next night I did not and I never had it again. However, I still see ever;y detail of that terrible dream as is I were having it now.
We lived in various places n the Basin until I was five. Then we moved to Pocatello. By this time my brother Willie had been born. Soon after arriving in Pocatello my sister Myrtle had been born. A terrible flu epidemic hit the country. Pocatello was hard hit. Everyone in our family had the flu. I remember that our beds were moved into the living room where the stove could keep us warm. We tried to take care of each other. My Grandmother Wardle, my aunts, and some other people helped us as they could. My father, Willie and Myrtle were especially sick, with pneumonia along with the flu. Papa nearly died, but recovered. Little two-year-old Willie and baby Myrtle did die, only three days apart. A brief combined service was held for them in our home. We were all so sick that we just lay in our beds and watched. Other people buried them.
This year I started school at five years of age and loved it! I went to Washington School and had a wonderful teacher. I can still see her face, but I have forgotten her name.
The next year we moved to a house on S Fourth and I attended Whittier School. That school year was wonderful too. I always loved school.
Another little sister, Wanda, was born to us this year. When she was three months old, she, Lula and I all got whooping cough. Little Wanda also got pneumonia and died. My parents had lost three children in about a year and a half. This was before there were wonder drugs to treat diseases. Pneumonia often developed along with other diseases and is was usually fatal. Home remedies were used. For minor things they often worked, but for something like pneumonia they were totally ineffective. I remember Mama giving Lula and me a teaspoon of sugar over which she had poured coal oil. This was supposed to treat the whooping cough. Lula and I held it in our mouths until Mama turned away. Then we spit it behind the bed.
We lived for a time in a little house beside Uncle Roy and Aunt Beulah. Then we moved the Tyhee and lived in a basement house on the reservation. Lula and I went to Tyhee School for a short time. During these Pocatello years my father worked for the railroad, did odd jobs, and worked with his team.
We stayed in Tyhee only a short time and then moved back to the Basin. We stayed with Grandpa Shaw at Tetonia for awhile and I attended school there. Then we moved back to Driggs. We moved frequently, but stayed in the Basin. Most of the time I attended the Driggs Elementary School.
Sometimes Lula and I had to walk several miles to school. Often when we were crossing an empty flat, the coyotes would run along with us. they would parallel our course, but stay at a distance. It was kind of a game. Sometimes we rode a horse. I remember being given and alto horn to play. I would carry it home on the horse so that I could practice. In the winter, it would freeze solid and I had to set it behind the heater in the front room to thaw out so that I could practice.
My best friend at school was Verla Byrne. We were much alike and had fun together. Thelma Larsen was also a good friend.
In the winter time, we wore cotton union suits. these had long sleeves, long legs, buttons up the front and a crop seat. We wore long dark stockings. It was quite a feat to get these on over the long-legged union suits with as few wrinkles as possible. The stockings were held up by an invention of Mama's called a panty waist. this was a few straps of cloth, usually and old flour sack, which went over our shoulders and around our waist. It had four long pieces of one inch elastic with a garter on each end with were fastened to our stockings. We wore flannel petticoats, dark colored dresses and sometimes pretty aprons. We never wore long pants unless we worked in the fields, and not always then. Our coats were heavy and when we were young were often made by Mama. She also usually crocheted our thick, warm caps and mittens. Many of our clothes were made from flour or grain sacks or old clothing people had given my mother. She would rip these old things apart, clean and press them and make clothes for all of us. She was a talented and ingenious seamstress who could make attractive clothing from very little. She used a good, old Singer treadle machine. Our shoes were rather heavy ones that laced over the ankles.
We usually bathed once a week, on Saturday, so we'd be clean for Sunday school. Water was heated on the wood-burning stove and put into a round, galvanized tin tub, a number three. The tub would be placed before the stove with a chair or two near, over which blankets were hung for privacy and to keep us warm. It was so hard to get and heat the water that usually two children used the same water. First, one would bathe and then the other. How I hated to be number two in the tub! After the baths, the water was used to mop the floor. Then the tube was carried outside and dumped.
Our hair was also washed on Saturday night. Lula and I had long hair which was made into ringlets. Mama made rag curls. She had torn old cloths into strips about six inches long and one and a half inches wide. When our hair was wet, Mama would take a small section and begin rolling it around the cloth until she reached our heads. Then she would tie the ends together, making a big knot of hair and cloth. Our heads would be covered with these. Sleeping was very difficult, but Lula and I endured it once a week to have beautiful curls to go to Sunday school. Until about 22, when my hair began to darken, it was always m most beautiful feature. It was long, straight and medium fine. It was bright, shining gold in color.
When we washed between baths, we used a wash basin. We had a wash bench on which we placed a bucket of water carried in from a stream or well. The was basin, a soap dish with a bar of soap and a spotlessly clean towel hung near by. If warm water was wanted, it could be added from the tea kettle simmering on the stove or from the reservoir, a tank attached to the stove beside the oven. The dirty water was thrown out the doors. I was always very particular about washing and rinsing my face before going to bed. This required two trips outside to throw the water away. On cold nights, it was hard to step outdoors. I would previously have made a trip to the outhouse where we used catalogues for toilet paper.
In all my years, until I was about 12, the only times we lived in a house with water and a bathroom in it were when we lived in Pocatello.
Clothes washing was hard work. the water had to be carried in and placed in a boiler, an oblong, tin container about three feet long and two feet high. This was placed on the stove and the water heated and used, along with water from the reservoir, to do the washing. We children carried the water and kept buckets of cold water ready to add to the hot. Washing was done in the old number three, placed on two chairs. Clothes would be sorted into piles. Mama would put a batch of whites in the tub, take a bar of soap, which she had sometimes made, and scrub each individual piece up and down on the scrub board. In the case of a large article like a sheet, it had to be turned around and done in parts. Then the clothes were wrung by hand, placed in a pile on the table and the next pile done in the same water. When the water got dirty it was changed. If one scrubbing was not enough the piles of clothes were scrubbed again. White clothes were put in the boiler and boiled to get them very white. Then the clothes were put into another tub to rinse and finally carried out to the line in an old bushel fruit basket and hung there. In the winter, they froze stiff which dried them a little, but they would have to be brought in the house and dried around the stoves. They were spotless and smelled so good! Most of the scrubbing and wringing were done by Mama. We children were too little to do it.
Washing was an all day job, always done on Monday. On wash days our supper was cooked in the oven because the top of the stove was covered. What good smells there were in the warm, steam kitchen.
On Tuesdays we ironed. We had an ironing board and three or four irons which were heated on the stove. We had a removable handle which could be transferred from a cooling iron to a hot one.
Most of my mother's life she washed like this. Later we got a washer which we could work by pushing a stick back and forth. It had a wringer which we could turn by hand. Then we got a gas washer which was a miracle. When we finally got an electric Maytag, it was heaven. However, I was 12 or 13 before this happened and even then, there were long periods of time when it was back to the wash board for my mother. At the end of the wash day, her hands would be raw in some places and red and swollen all over. Most of the people I knew washed in this same way.
The houses in which we lived were small and we didn't have a lot of furniture, but each person had a private place for his clothes and possessions. Lula and I each had a drawer in the tall chest of drawers. We kept things folded precisely in certain places. Nothing was ever out of place. No one ever got in another's drawer.
Wilford and Phyliss were born to our family while we lived in the Basin. We were living in a little two-room house in Driggs when Phyliss was born on Valentine's Day. We children slept in the kitchen while she was born in the bedroom. We didn't hear a sound. I was awakened with the news that I had a new little baby sister. I was sent across town to tell my mother's sister, Aunt Allie. I remember it being bright, shining day with crisp, crusted snow to walk on.
My mother's sisters, Aunt Allie and Aunt Rose, usually lived somewhere near and Lula and I had good times at their houses and fun playing with our cousins. Once Aunt Rose and Uncle Jim lived on a farm where the road turns from Tetonia to head for Driggs. Uncle Jim had a herd of sheep which included several mean old rams which he kept in a pasture out behind the house. Trees had been cut down to make room for the pasture leaving big stumps about four feet high. We child loved to anger the rams until they chases us. then we would run to a stump, clamber up on it and cling there as the rams ran and butted into the stump in an effort to dislodge us. Fun!
My aunts were warm and loving and welcomed us into their homes. They, like my mother, had learned to keep an immaculate house form their Pennsylvania Dutch mother. Aunt Rose and Uncle Jim were very vocal and noisy with a large, vocal family. I remember being in their warm, spotless home for supper. I frequently stayed overnight with my cousins. The Henries were having a loud argument. The dinner plates were upside down on the table and the chairs turned with their backs to the table, so kneeling for family prayer would be easy. The arguing stopped as we knelt to pray, but began again before we were back on our feet.
Worth, Hazel and Vannie were our special friends. But Elva, a young lady getting ready to teach school, was my special person. I admired her and loved her dearly. She was my ideal.
Aunt Allie and Uncle Howard were quieter, but their home too was fun. Lamar was my special friend. I called him Os because he had been named Osmond after Grandpa Shaw. We had fun exploring the cricks and playing out of doors.
My mother's brothers, Jim and ray, had farms north of Clawson. Uncle Jim had a dry farm and Uncle ray a farm down on Badger Creek. We went there too. Uncle Earl didn't marry until later.
My mother was next to the youngest in her family so there were lots of cousins around my age. My father was the oldest in his family so my Wardle cousins were all a lot younger than I. But his two youngest brothers, Orrin and Norval, were three and five years older than I and we played together a lot. In fact, we became good friends.
My grandmother Shaw died when I was three. I remember her as warm and loving. I remember her taking me to the root cellar for a special apple. I treasure a bowl she gave me which she had gotten in a sack of cereal. She and my mother were close, and if she had lived I'm sure she and I would have been close too.
My grandfather Shaw was a little, precise, Englishman with big walrus mustache. He expected everyone to jump when he spoke, and everyone did. He invited no closeness, but was not unkind, just frightening. He could do everything perfectly. He built his house, which still stands, using pegs for nails. It was a beautiful house with a large living room and kitchen. There were four bedrooms, a bath (with no water), a pantry and a glassed-in front porch. He built a desk for his bedroom, a wood box, a flour bin and other articles of furniture for his home, which were works of art. He had books in a tall glass-fronted bookcase, books I was allowed to read. There was a tall old clock kept high on a shelf where no child could reach it. He climbed up on a chair each day to wind it. No one else ever touched it. No one even thought of disobeying him. I used to iron his handkerchiefs and they had to be just so or be done over. He never remarried, but lived alone for fifteen years after my grandmother's death, keeping everything in the house as well as she had done, plus doing his farm work. In his front room, he had a big window along the south wall. Here he kept Grandma's geraniums. I have never seen such a big, profusely blooming plants. He drank his English tea and put the used tea leaves and left-over tea on the plants. He insisted that was why they flourished.
Grandpa had built a blacksmith shop with everything just so. He had a big wheel which, when turned, worked the bellows of his forge. he let Lula and me turn the wheel. It was about ten inches in diameter with a long arm which had to by pulled down to turn it Lula and I would take turns jumping to catch the arm, then our weight would pull it down, forcing the wheel to turn and blow the bellows. The blacksmith shop was a place of enchantment, with hundreds of items arranged on the walls. grandpa cold here make anything.
He had built a spring house over a spring. Grandpa was one of the earliest settlers in Teton Basin. He chose a fertile spot on the south side of the foothills that were just east of Tetonia. There was a wonderful spring on the property. Later, the town of Tetonia used this spring as a source of it town water. Grandpa's spring house was the closes building to the house. It was built of boards on a rock base and was about ten feet by ten feet. It had sides, a roof, a little window and three foot square door at about waist level. The bottom of the house was the spring, the pool it formed and the stream which flowed from it. The rock foundation protruded about a foot inside, forming a little shelf all around the spring house. Grandpa had built other shelves within easy reach. One opened the door and put in or took out what was needed. In the spring house we kept our milk. It was strained through a fine cloth into milk pans, pans about fifteen inches diameter and about three inches high. these pans were placed on the spring house shelves. After the cream rose it was skimmed from the pans and used. In the spring house, we kept our butter which have been made in a wooden, hand-turned churn and then formed in a butter press. This as a little ox about 6" x 3" x3" with a little design on the bottom. After the box was filled with butter, a flat press with a stick in the middle for a handle was used to force the butter into a solid rectangle. the butter was them dumped out onto a plate, ready for use. In the spring house we kept anything else we needed to keep cold--meat, vegetables, pickles, etc. Crocks were set on the sandy bottom of the pool to hold some things. A dipper, a long-handled cup, hung outside, beside the door. How good the icy water tasted on a hot day. The spring house was painted a dark red with a white trim, as were all the other outbuildings. The house was white.
Grandpa Shaw had built an ice house. It had a roof, walls that lacked about a foot of reaching the roof and a door. In the winter he cut blocks of ice from the Teton River and packed them in sawdust in the ice house. All summer long we had ice. The blocks had to have the sawdust brushed off and then be quickly rinsed off. We made ice cream in a wooden, hand-turned ice cream freezer, had ice for chilling watermelons, on rare occasions, and ice for drinks. The ice lasted all summer.
The farm also had a root cellar, a grain house, a machine shed and numerous barns and corrals.
The cows were milked across a road, away from the house. The corral had a high, rather ornate gate.
Around the house were huge cottonwoods. They had been started by my mother and her younger brother Earl. When they moved to the big house from the little log house in which they first lived, Mother and Earl took a little wagon made by their father, went down to the crick, dug up little cottonwoods, pulled them to the house and planted them all around the square, fenced yard. the yard had grass and flowers. There was a large vegetable garden near the house.
Above the house, up a little stream, was a place where Lula and I loved to play. The stream had cut through rock and soil and formed banks that had little rock ledges and flattened boulders. they were our castles, with trees, grass, flowers and water all about. What fun we had playing there!
We never lived at my Grandmother Shaw's for a long time, but we seemed to go there rather frequently and stay for a few weeks. Once we stayed for most of the summer. At such times my father would be working some place he couldn't take us or looking for a new home for us. Once we lived across the crick from Grandpa for several months. Grandpa Shaw always welcomed us and was kind to us. In fact, I think he liked having us there. My mother always seemed glad to be in her old home. She took over the care of the house and worked hard, but she was a little afraid of her father. One time she made a cake and put so much vanilla in it that we could not eat it and the whole house reeked. She aired out the house, disposed of the cake and cautioned us not to tell Grandpa because she knew he would be displeased about the waste.
Grandpa Shaw had a shaggy ld dog named Whiskers who was his constant companion.
He had wagons, sleds, buggies and a "white top." The "white top" was a two-seated buggy with a white canvas top and white canvas sides which could be rolled up or down. It was used only on special occasions.
Grandma Shaw had dropsy for years before her death and had great difficulty getting around. One of the greatest joys of her life was to go to church, especially Relief Society meeting. Grandpa was ornery and would seldom take her. He was always too busy. This was a great sorrow for her.
She was very good at all housewifely skills, especially sewing which Melissa learned from her. Mother and daughter were very close. Melissa tried to save her mother as much work as possible.