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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Reminicing the Vaughn Heritage 4

Looking Towards Heaven (Pictured above is a well-loved man, named Dad and Grandpa.)

**Note** This is the fourth of 6 articles that were written by my maternal Grandfather, Alfred Tennyson Vaughn before his death July 25, 1999. I didn't know they existed, until I did some family searching on the net and they came up. They were published in 2000 after his death. Needless to say, since I didn't know these were out there, I was in tears when I saw them. They are a cherished gift from Grandpa, who was a wonderful writer and poet! We love and miss you Grandpa!

The Vaughn Heritage
Alfred Tennyson Vaughn

Editor's note: This week, in the fourth installment of The Vaughn Heritage, we read about winter fun, family activities and making do with what the family had.

Fun, Frolic and Making Do

After the harvesting was done, and the work load lightened, we spent many long winter evenings in the main room to study, read, or play games by the light of the kerosene lamp.
Often Father would gather us around him and read from his favorite magazines-- Collier's, Saturday Evening Post, and American Magazine.
"Scattergood Baines" was a favorite serial story. Dad also read book novels to us like "The Shepherd of Kingdom Come," "Shepherd of the Hills," and Zane Grey stories.
On weekends, the family would gather around the organ in the living room. Dad would play his violin, and some of us played ukulele or guitar, and sing favorite folk songs.
Our family provided musical programs for church and the school at times and entertained them with jokes about human nature.
Old southern living and customs provided a very interesting evening of entertainment.
Although Father had chosen a Scottish lassie for his bride, some of his familiar folk songs were, "My Wild Irish Rose," and "I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen." No doubt, he still remembered Kitty, the Irish colleen that he gave up to marry Mother.
The only communication system in the valley was a telephone line that ran about 15 miles from the Central Office in Entiat to Brief.
The system had three or four multiple party lines with up to ten subscribers on each line. Each subscriber had a ringing code of short and long rings.
However, regardless of whose number was rung, you could almost count how many others were listening by the number of clicks after you picked up your receiver. It was almost impossible to keep a secret in those days.
Most social events took place at churches, school houses, picnics and private clubs.
Each school had programs planned for most of the holidays. Christmas was the biggest event of all, complete with a "real" Santa Claus.
Weddings and funerals drew many families out from their daily routines. Later, a dance hall near us provided the valley with entertainment and gossip. And, nearly every Sunday dawned with one or more cars off the road between there and town. The dance hall was also used as a roller rink and for other activities in the valley.
Each school year was ended with an outdoor picnic that few people missed attending.
Although our family, like many others in the valley, never had much money, the younger children never knew it. I suppose today we would be regarded as living in the poverty level.
Mother and Dad never talked about those problems around us. But, we were taught to appreciate and take care of what we had, and not to worry about what we did not have.
The few toys that were given us were well made, and we learned how to invent games and to make some toys from what was on hand.
Sling shots were made from the fork of a willow. The rubber bands for them came from worn out inner tubes, and the leather pocket from worn out shoes.
Our fishing poles grew along the river bank. All we needed to do was select a green slender willow about six or seven feet long, tie 15 feet of stout string to the end, and make a hook out of a pin or fine wire.
Later on, when we got fishing line and hooks from the store, we knew how to take care of them. The steel pole had to wait a while longer.
Of course, we never had to buy bait as angleworms and grasshoppers were plentiful around the farm and penny winkles and other marine life were found on rocks in the river.
The mountain brook trout and Dolly Vardens and cutthroat were welcome treats for supper and breakfast.
What energy we had left over after our chores was used up in hiking and swimming in summer and sledding and skating in winter.
When we got big enough to make our own skis, then we could
enjoy that sport as well.
On the Bonar ranch, just down river from us, was a pond built at the head of the irrigation canal. It was the Bonar's donation to our community to use for swimming and skating.
And if the ice got thick enough, we joined with our neighbors to cut ice to store in our sawdust icehouses for the coming year. When the river ice was thick enough, then the pond was spared.
Other winter activities were bobsledding, skating parties, dog sledding with Rover, house to house sleigh rides and candy pulls.
The pond was almost a mile from our house. When the water was not too high in the river, we waded across as a shortcut to the pond. Otherwise, we walked around to the bridge and through the Bonar orchard.
During the hot weather we had to watch out for rattlesnakes that came down to the irrigation ditch for water. The snakes came in all sizes, and it was not unusual to see at least one each week.
As far as I know, none of our family was ever bitten by them. There were also bull snakes and garter snakes which we used to tease the girls.
Sometimes one got put into the school teacher's desk or waste basket, or a small frog.

Next week: School time and the Christmas holidays.

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