These are a random collection (that will be added to from time to time) of stories and thoughts from various periods of my life. I hope you enjoy them.
The stories include: Early Childhood Memoir, Leaving Kansas in 1941,1941 Arrival in Skagit Area, One Room School, Immigrant Grandfather, Tenakee Hot Spring Adventure 1979 – 1981, Running in Alaska 1981, Emerald
City Marathon March 27th, 1983, Silver Star Peak Climb, Mount Baker Climb 1983, A Stolen Shower in Alaska, A Timer’s
Reflections On The Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials 1984, An Evening with an Alpha Male
WHO AM I?, Our Sister June, On Death and Dying,Home Remedies, Hard Times Recipes, Finding Our House
Early Childhood Memoir
One of my early childhood memories is of
standing on a kitchen chair with one of my mother’s aprons covering my entire
body watching her cook. At that time, around age four, I was given the
cake batter spoon to lick. When I finished licking the spoon, my chair
was placed in front of a dishpan filled with soapy water and allowedto
wash the dishes. By the time I was twelve years old I was the family
baker, helping on baking day with the countless loaves of bread, and always
baking the cakes and cookies. My interest in cooking far outweighed my
interest in washing dishes at that age. I then developed a life long
interest in gathering recipes from many sources,
Art, for me, had its first expression in food
decoration. Family event cake decoration became my forte. My school
experiences through twelve years did nit include art instruction. It dates one
doesn’t it, to have gone through twelve years of school without an art
experience? We did sing and write though. I spent my first four years of
schooling in a one-room country school with a single teacher for all eight
grades. Miss Butler, a wonderful caring teacher, was what was termed an
She lived with her retired father. In
those days women teachers were not allowed to marry. My lack of
early art awareness continued through the next eight years of my schooling took
place in Concrete, Washington.
Leaving Kansas - Off the Grid
The Stone family was made up of my parents,
four brothers and one sister at the time we left my state of birth, Kansas, in
1941 because of a family crisis. That is another story. My Dad
turned a 1939 Chevrolet car into a pickup by removing the back seat area and
building a big box that he then placed on a welded metal framework. He
was quite clever at mechanics and cars. He mounted the box attaching it
to the front half of the car and then covered the box with rainproof
canvas. In a heavy rain storm the water seeped in and made life miserable
for the three brothers and myself atop our entire worldly goods on the long
ride to the state of Washington. The other two children rode in the front
seat with our parents. Prior to our leaving we had a big farm sale of
everything we owned.
Our destination was the upper Skagit Valley
near Sauk Mountain. Former Kansas neighbors had assured my Dad by letter that
working in the logging industry in the upper Valley was profitable enough to
support a family. We arrived in late August and I had my first ride on a
small hand wound ferry attached to heavy cable with room for about six cars,
the Faber Ferry. Soon after arrival my parents bought a big army tent
with a wooden floor and a small wood stove. We set it up in the friend’s
orchard on the banks of the Skagit River. Our first winter it rained and it
rained. I remember the smell of mildew and never being warm enough.
In the spring we rented a house in Concrete where another brother was born not
too long afterwards. From there we found a forty-acre stump ranch high on
a hillside facing Sauk Mountain. It was there we left the grid behind.
In the center of the forty acres on a large,
cleared area sat a house made of cedar shakes inside and out. Two tiny
bedrooms, a living room and kitchen of equal size sat between the
bedrooms. No electricity, though we did have two kerosene Aladdin lamps
and no telephones. Our water supply was a fast running creek several
hundred feet down in a gully. Every day we kids, several times a day,
trudged up and down the gully slope with two buckets to fetch water. Our
produce was kept in a wooden crate in the creek tied to a small tree. If
the summer weather became really hot we would drive to the Sauk Store and buy a
block of ice that we placed in an icebox with doors. We kept it outside
on the back porch facing the north. It had an upper section for storing
food above the ice.
A large Monarch wood-firing kitchen range was
a main source of heat and cooking. If had an attached hot water
reservoir. Behind the stove hung a large copper boiler to hold water for
baths. I still have that boiler. It now serves as a plant container in my
garden. I can’t look at it without remembering the Saturday bath ritual that I
shared with my younger sister. We carried our own water and put it in the
stove reservoir and boiler to heat. While that took place we carried more
water to cool the bath if it was too hot. Our bathtub was a big round
galvanized tub that was also used for laundry one day a week. A privacy
curtain hung between the living room and the kitchen. Needless to say we
did not bathe daily. We did use a washcloth and pan of soapy
water to take what my mother termed “spit baths” before walking the mile
downhill to the ferry landing to catch the school bus that delivered us to
school in Concrete
Our hand-built outhouse sat against the forest
some distance from the house. It featured two holes and a Sears catalog
for reading and to use for toilet paper. Near the house we had a huge
garden plot. Under the woodshed there was a root cellar for storing root
vegetables, including potatoes and all of the canning. We grew most of
our own food. My mother’s yearly goal was to preserve one thousand quarts
of food, vegetables, fruits, venison, salmon, pickles, jams and jellies.
We always kept a milk cow and several younger heads of stock. We did not
have fences so they often wandered into the edge of the woods. My dad
hung a cowbell around each animal’s neck. We kids took turns finding them
and herding them back home. I actually made a game out of it by sometimes
running through the woods listening for a bell. Other times I walked very
quietly observing my surroundings. It was not unusual to see deer,
occasional bobcats, drumming grouse, pheasants, rabbits, and birds.
I remember one really scary
experience. My brother Marion and I were assigned the task of leading a
yearling heifer up to a distant neighbors high pasture on our mountainside and
were instructed to leave her there with his bull that lived in that pasture for
breeding purposes. Our two dogs accompanied us. We needed to go
through an old logging road gate to get there. As we approached the gate
a mother bear stood up on her hind legs and growled at us. Her two cubs
were right behind her. I can still see that fierce face. That day
for the first time in my life I saw the hackles rise on our two dogs.
They took a look at the bear, turned tail and headed for home. They by
far beat us as we decided to do a retreat ourselves as fast as we could.
The only problem was that we had dropped the rope on the heifer and she was
left behind to fend for herself. Our dad was not happy. He did
retrieve her unharmed and delivered her to the high pasture himself.
I believe my connection with animals and
wild creatures resulted from those strong early woods experiences. Some sixty
plus years later, I still have strong connections to birds and animals.
Once in the 1970’s on a hiking trip near Lake Ozette I made friends with a
young female deer near our camping site. I was searching the surrounding
woods for mushrooms to add to our campfire dinner. Suddenly I had the
feeling that someone or something was following me. I sat down on a log
and I could hear something break a twig or two while walking slowly along where
I had just been walking. A young female deer stopped in its tracks and
just looked at me. I talked to her quietly and she took hesitant steps
toward me. I slowly stood up and made my way toward our camping spot
where we had our sleeping bags stretched out on a canvas for sleeping that
night. As I stepped into the clearing I put my arm gently around the
deer’s neck. She let me do that for several moments. My husband was
watching, and he couldn’t believe it.
He took a photo of the gorgeous animal when I
knelt down and we sniffed each others’ face. She followed me to the
sleeping bed area and proceeded to sniff each bag. When she came to my
bag she started to pee on it. My husband yelled and my
startled new friend ran away, and I never saw her again.
One Room School
Another of my early childhood memories is of
standing on a kitchen chair with one of my mother’s aprons covering my entire
body watching her cook. At that time, around age four, I was given the
cake batter spoon to lick. When I finished licking the spoon, my chair
was placed in front of a dishpan filled with soapy water and I was allowed to
wash the dishes. Our house was located next to the city jail that was in
a house that belonged to a Black husband and wife. He was the jailor and
she was the jail cook. They had no children and were very friendly and
kind to our family. My three brothers and I loved those two people. The
wife baked cookies often and always would bring us over a plate full to share.
By the time I was twelve years old and living
on a mountainside off of the grid in Washington State above the Sauk Ferry that
took us to and fro over the Skagit River. I became the family baker,
helping on baking day with the countless loaves of bread, and always baking the
cakes and cookies. My interest in cooking far outweighed my interest in
washing dishes at that age. Especially since we had no running water in
our house. We had to carry it uphill from a fast-moving mountain creek
and heat it in a boiler on top of our big Monarch wood kitchen stove. It
was then I developed a life long interest in gathering recipes from many
Art, for me, had its first expression in food
decoration. Family event cake decoration became my forte. My school
experiences through twelve years did not include art instruction. It dates one
doesn’t it, to have gone through twelve years of school without an art
experience? My first four years of schooling took place in Kansas. From 1941
when I entered the fifth grade through my high school graduation I attended school
in Concrete, Washington
My very first month of first grade started out
in an Erie, Kansas elementary school. I was five years of age. At
that time we lived in a large two story rented house on the banks of the Neosho
River. My three older brothers and I walked about a mile to and from that
school daily. My experience there was horrible. The teacher singled
me out from day one. She accused me of steeling another student’s
lunch and took me in front of my classmates and lectured on my misbehavior as a
thief. All of our lunches were set on a shelf in the coatroom very close
together in paper bags. I had picked up the one by my coat and looked in
it and saw a marshmallow topped cookie. I had watched my mother put one
in the top of my paper bag. I started to go sit down when another girl
claimed I had stolen her lunch. She had had the same kind of cookie in
her lunch that I had. I was mortified. A week later I used the
signal the teacher had told us to use if we really had to go to the bathroom.
If it was to urinate you held one finger up. I held my finger up and she
ignored me so I started waving it to make sure she knew I really had to
go. I finally wet my pants as a result. Again she called me to her desk
and told me to walk home and change my clothes. Again I was
mortified. I could not understand why she did not like me. Lucky
for me our relationship lasted a little over a month. The Neosho River
flooded and destroyed our house and we moved to a large farm some distance
away. My dad took me with him to visit our old house when the flood
receded enough that we could get to it. I will never forget his taking me
inside the front door and looking up to see snakes hanging from the ceiling in
loops. I had nightmares about snakes for a number of years. Dad had
brought a large galvanized tub and pitchfork along. He used the fork to
stab stranded fish in big puddles in our former orchard and filled the
tub. We ate fish for a long time.
When we moved from our flooded home to the
farm some miles away we attended a one-room school named Orcutt. I was still
five years old. Our school had no indoor plumbing. We had one
outdoor toilet for everyone. Our schools soul source of heat was a pot-
bellied wood stove. Miss Butler had the older boys bring in the wood to
fill it. She always made learning so much fun. We had music
as well as reading, writing, penmanship, and arithmetic. She taught us
songs as she played an ancient piano. We read age appropriate books out loud
selected from her mini library. Not too long after I arrived at the
school we did an all class musical performance for all the parents. I
remember I danced and sang with a white formal glove on one hand. I loved
it. I don’t remember what the song was titled but I remember the glove
was part of the performance.
Our whole family attended pie socials where
all the neighbors got together at the school for a social evening with pies,
homemade ice cream, coffee and treats for the kids. One time I ate so
much popcorn that I got sick. I didn’t eat popcorn again for years.
That little one room school was a delight for
me. It really turned me on to reading for pleasure and learning and
exploring the world around me became an obsession that I still enjoy at age
Miss Butler was a wonderful caring
teacher, and was what was termed an “old maid”. She lived with her
retired father who often visited the school and did repair and upkeep when
needed. In those days women teachers were not allowed to marry.
My lack of early art awareness continued through the next eight years starting
fifth grade through high school graduation in 1949.
That little one room school was a delight for
me. It had a shelf of books for all ages of first grade through eighth
grade. We practiced our reading skills by reading aloud from a book suitable
for our age group. Our school had no indoor plumbing. We had one outdoor
toilet. The school was heated by a pot-bellied woodstove. Our
teacher had the older boys bring in the wood to fill it. She really made
learning fun. She taught music accompanied by an ancient piano and all
students sang together like a choir. Not too long after my dad bought the
large family farm that was located a short distance from a one room.
As a child I recall that my family didn’t
visit a doctor unless it was a real emergency. I had severe earaches
often. My Dad would light up his smoking pipe and blow warm tobacco
smoke in my ear and Mom would then stuff cotton in my ear to hold the heat in
and the cold air out. If we had a severe toothache there was a bag
of salt that lived in the warming oven above the ancient Monarch kitchen
woodstove’s cooking surface. The very warm bag of salt was placed against the
jaw to soothe the aching area. If one of we children had a heavy
cold Mom cooked sliced onions with sugar and placed them in a flannel bag she
had made. The poultice was then placed on our chest and held in
place by torn strips of old flannel sheets. Other times she would
smear our chest with Vicks Vapo Rub and wrap us in warm
flannels. For bee stings a paste of baking soda and vinegar was
applied to the sting area. Rhubarb juice could also be
used. This one I could not stand, it involved using skunk grease rubbed
on your chest. Needless to say you didn’t go to school the
next day. All of the old remedies came alive again while reading my
late mother’s diary.
When my oldest brother was a toddler he was
seriously burned in 1928. My parents took him to a doctor who told
them to go to a filling station and buy separator oil by the gallon and to keep
the burned areas saturated in oil day and night. He was in bed for
three months and had to learn to crawl and walk a second time.
Later on in life my Mom learned that the Aloe
Vera plant is a magical way to heal and take away the pain of serious
burns. She from then on kept potted Aloe Veras on the
windowsills in her home. She gifted me with several when I move to
Fir Island in 1972. They have had to be repotted a number of times
over the years and are enormous now. They are now in large pots that
I move into the garden in late spring and leave them there until late
October. I really learned the truth of their healing qualities while
creating a stained glass Christmas present. I made the mistake of picking up a
soldering iron by the wrong end. It seared the entire palm of my
hand. While howling with pain I cut a long piece of the Aloe plant,
split it lengthwise and placed the juice side on the burned area. Within
minutes the pain started to ease. I wrapped my hand with the aloe
adhered to it lightly in a dishtowel. After all pain had subsided I
removed the sticky aloe plant to find that my bright red burned area looked
almost normal and did not have a single blister.
My grandmother recorded how her grandmother had used an unusual home remedy to
treat her as a schoolgirl in the 1870’s. Grandma Gough was in the
first grade when spinal meningitis broke out in the school and all but three of
the children in the first grade class died of the disease. My
grandmother was treated by her grandmother (my great grandmother
Clum). She called for a washtub, a chair, a blanket and pots of
boiling water with ears of corn in them to put in the tub. The chair
was set in the tub. The small patient wrapped in a blanket was
placed on the chair. She was steamed for long periods of
time. The grandmothers kept adding hot corn to the
tub. My grandmother was the only one of the three children who
lived that wasn’t crippled in some way. Much of the flesh along her
backbone came off as she slowly healed.
Alfred Albertine, Great-grandfather of My
Three Children - early 50s
In the early 1950’s, when my children were
very young, their paternal great-grandfather, Alfred Albertine liked to drop by
to visit. He would sit in my kitchen by our old Monarch wood range and
tell me stories about his early days in the Skagit Valley. I would iron
or cook as he talked.
Alfred was born in the Tyrol area of
Austria. On occasion he would talk of his extremely painful childhood in
Austria. His father was a professional soldier, otherwise known as a
mercenary. The father was away from home a lot. At age six,
Alfred’s father sold him to a winery. He never lived with his parents
again. The winery owner put him to work at a very young age.
When Alfred turned eighteen years of age he
escaped his servitude and fled Austria on a ship traveling to the United
States. When he arrived on the docks of New York City he was greeted by
people who threw rotten tomatoes at him. He thought it was because he was
just another foreigner who spoke very little English and would be a competitor
looking for work. Jobs were hard to find so he left the area immediately
and migrated to Michigan and found work in the iron mines. He stayed
there for two years. He traveled to Nanaimo, Vancouver Island,
Canada. He worked in mines there for the next six years. During
that time he wrote to relatives in Austria and asked them to find him an
Mary Menghini arrived in Nanaimo in
1896. After their marriage in Nanaimo they traveled to Skagit County in
Washington State and settled in on a one hundred acre homestead near Day
Creek. At that time there were no dams on the Skagit River and it flooded
often. During the four years they tried farming at Day Creek there were
numerous floods. Each time the river managed to take a chunk of their
land as well as many of their survival crops. At times they were stranded
in the hayloft of their barn for several days at a time. In 1900 they
moved across the river onto twenty acres at Lyman. There they were able
to become successful farmers. Over the years the family built their
holdings back up to one hundred acres. They had a large Guernsey dairy
herd that supplied milk to the Valley for over fifty years. The family
maintained a milk delivery route for Carnation Milk Company for most of those
years starting with horses and wagons and then in later times changing to a
hard-rubber wheeled truck.
The Albertines raised eight children in their
large Lyman home. Grandad Albertine’s greatest joy was to keep his
children close, even as adults. He could hardly stand it when any one of
them chose to live elsewhere. One daughter moved to another state. He
never forgave her for that. The loss of two sons in the War of 1918 was
almost more than he could bear. One daughter and one son never married
and lived in his home until their death long after his death.
1941 Arrival in Skagit Area
I would like to tell you a story, a love
story. Granted it started out as a love-hate relationship. It took
years of experiencing the many moods, the encompassing diversity and beauty,
the richness found only in long-term relationships that develop slowly into a
My first winter here at age ten was the winter
of 1941-42. Our parents and we six children lived in an army tent
on the west side of the Skagit River. We were camped in the orchard of
friends who had left my birth state Kansas a year or two before we did to
become loggers rather than farmers.
It rained and it rained, all winter long.
For a child used to clear cold weather interspersed with snowdrifts that
were higher than the fence posts, it was miserable. Climbing into, always
damp clothing smelling of mildew was a hated task. Things began to
improve when we moved into a rented house in Concrete, WA for a short time
before we purchased our forty-acre stump ranch with a small house built of
cedar shakes, inside and out. The house and a pole barn sat high on a
hillside facing Sauk Mountain across the narrow Upper Skagit Valley. The Skagit
River snaked its way down through the Valley towards the sea. It was
there, high on the hillside, where I grew my Victory Garden, learned to cook
and preserve food. We kids roamed the woods with the bears, cougars, deer
and all sorts of small animals.
My interest in Valley history started there
while listening to “old timers” tales of the settling of the Valley. The
first European-American settlers arrived in the Skagit Valley in the
mid-1800’s. A good share of those first arrivals in the Valley were
farmers. Many were of Scandinavian heritage. They were drawn
to the Skagit River’s rich silt loam. A fertile soil that took the Skagit
20,000 years to lay down at the river’s mouth. It was not an easy task to
clear land of the giant trees that forested the area. Remember this was
the era of horses and oxen for transportation and farming. The main cash
crops of that period were oats, barley, and hay. The Skagit farmers’
grains supplied the entire west coast down as far as San Francisco. It
was pre-1900 that the Valley established their record for being the supplier of
seed to the entire world, a record that is still maintained today. Too,
the farmers grew many potatoes plus hops for beer production. Dairying
became a major industry in the early 1900’s. Creameries for making butter
and cheese were located near the river for ease of transportation. The
settlers took the best land they could find along fresh water entries into the
salt tides of Puget Sound. It was a time of grueling work diking and
draining the flats along the banks of the Skagit.
My love affair with the Valley has spanned
well over Seventy-five years. My childhood years were in the upper reaches
of the Skagit. As a child bride of seventeen I moved half way down the
river and lived on a thirty-four acre farm at Lyman, In 1972 I traveled down
the last segment of the Skagit River Valley to Fir Island. I found a
haven of fertile loam. My life’s love of the land expanding as the
gardens I tend expanded Sunflowers fifteen feet tall, vegetables and
fruit glowing, growing, bird life so diverse, so beautiful. My seasonal
calendar attuned to their migrations. Who wouldn’t love this Valley?
Tenakee Hot Spring Adventure 1979 – 1981
In 1979 through 1981 I was a commercial salmon
fisher person in Alaska. In 1981 my crew and several other fishing boats
traveled to the island of Chichagof in Southeast Alaska. The island is
only accessible by boat or seaplane. We had a break between fishing
openings and really needed a rest. Late that night we arrived and tied
our 55 foot commercial fishing boat, the Carol, to the only dock
available. The other two boats traveling with us had to tie their boats
to ours. The captain of the boat next to us had had a few nips on the way in
and when he attempted to step from his boat on to ours he didn’t quite make it
and had to be fished out of the cold, cold sea by crew-members. That was
the beginning of our Tenakee adventures.
Later that night as we had dinner with the
locals in the only bar café in the village of Tenakee Hot Springs we learned
that grizzly bears had been spotted that day on the nearby river. My son
and the crew became very excited about the possibility of seeing grizzlies the
next day. Son Chuck planned an adventure for the next morning to find the
river and the grizzlies. We were told by the locals of a wonderful hot
springs close to the village created in a deep rock formation. Men and women
had different time slots to make use of the therapeutic hot spring waters in
the cliff cave of natural rock. Women were allowed to use it for an hour
late at night. I couldn’t wait to do so. Inside, by the hand
chiseled stone steps, metal pitchers full of hot soapy water were lined up and
were to be used for a bath. The sign said to step away from the spring
and give your self a soapy shower and then rinse with more hot water before
entering the pool. I sat at the bottom of the steps in the pool for over
an hour. As I tried to stand I became very dizzy. I had to wait a
few minutes before I could climb back up the steps. A bit spooky as no
one else was in the area.
Next morning bright and early my son Chuck,
myself and several other crewmembers headed for the river on a very foggy
morning. As we hiked along the rocky coastline we heard sharp sounds that
sounded like gunshots followed by loud whooshes. Suddenly, as the fog
began to rise, a pod of orcas appeared right beside us and they were oh so
close to the shoreline. They looked so beautiful and mystical as the sun
broke through the fog coating everything with a golden glow. It was a
totally magic experience.
On our way back to the boat from the river we
found ourselves in a wet area along the shore that was filled with live
crabs. One crab latched on to the toe of son Chuck’s rubber knee
boot. He was not easy to dislodge. He left a hole in the
boot. We hurried to the boat and grabbed a bucket each and headed back to
After boiling them and cleaning them we filled
a thirteen quart stainless steel mixing bowl with crab meat and crab cocktail
ingredients. I also made four loaves of sourdough bread that day.
We and members from the other boats we were docked with had a crab cocktail
dinner with fresh bread. We ate every crumb of the food.
Running in Alaska 1981
Running in Alaska is an experience! On
July 21, 1981 I flew up to Ketchikan, AK with my daughter Marcia on a so-called
working vacation to fill in for a sick crewmember on our 55-foot long salmon
purse seiner. Sunshine greeted us when we stepped off the plane at 8:20
AM. We were whisked off to the F.V. Carol. The minute we boarded
her in Thomas Basin the crew decided we should all climb Deer Mountain since
this was the first sunny day since their arrival in Alaska on July 1st.
Having only our feet for transportation, we started our hike at Thomas
Basin. The climb was fairly easy and we were rewarded by several
viewpoints that overlooked the many small bays and islands that surround
Ketchikan which is located on the shore of Tongass Narrows. On the
way to the top of the mountain we crossed numerous small snowfields (a little
scary because if one should slip it was a long way down.) About two
thirds of the way up we had to cajole Marcia to continue. By the time we
reached the top and began to play in snow as we hiked across a saddle she
recovered fully and did some pretty fancy skiing on tenny-runners. In
fact we all did a lot of running up there to avoid being frozen to death by
flying snowballs. We were all wearing shorts and that wet snow was a
little like ice cubes.
Two thirds of the way down two of us decided
to run down the rest of the way. It was really not recommended as the
trail zig-zags across the side of the mountain Nevertheless, we did
run to the bottom. The rest of the crew decided they would walk from
there to the boat. I ran the rest of the way since my legs were already
warmed up and I felt the need to run some distance.
The next morning, we received the sobering
news that an eighteen-year-old off of another purse seiner had also climbed
Deer Mountain the previous day. He had not returned. Search teams
and search dogs were out looking for him. They found his body five days
later at the bottom of a cliff near the point where our group had started
running and walking down the mountain.
I continued to run each day we were in
port. There were plenty of places to run. I ran to Saxman Indian
Village two miles south of Ketchikan to look at a fair-sized collection of
totem poles and then ran back to the boat. Just running to the post
office is a run of about four miles one-way. Ketchikan is stretched out
along the waterfront with lots of boat and small plane activity at all times of
the day and night.
My favorite run while there was to a place
called Wards Cove. It is six-miles out and six miles back along some
beautiful waterfront. I was amazed by the friendliness of the people I
passed along the way. Most asked where I was running to and seemed
shocked that I intended to run twelve miles non-stop in one day. At the
half-way mark I did make a brief pass through a large fish cannery at Ward’s Cove
before running back to Ketchikan. The road crew that was repairing the
highway gave me a cheer as I neared the end of my twelve mile run, giving me my
final boost needed to finish strong. One of them who had been standing
all day with a stop sign in his hand exclaimed, “I can’t even run a mile and
she isn’t even breathing hard.” I didn’t stop to explain to him that if
you are a distance runner in good shape nine to ten minute pleasure miles don’t
make you breathe hard.
The working part of my vacation was to fill in
for a crew member who became quite ill the second day I was there. We
took him to the hospital and found out he had mono. He slept a lot.
We wanted to fly him home, but he didn’t want to go. Having worked as a
crewmember doing the cooking and running the deck equipment for the two
previous years, the skipper wanted me to stay. So, I did. Fishing
proved to be unprofitable that year as the large, predicted run did not show up
on schedule. We caught as many as other boats did in the area, but
finally decided it wasn’t enough. At the end of the fishing day on Sunday
August 1 we unloaded to a tender at Chacon Point, stowed our nets in the hold
and headed down the Inside Passage to try our luck fishing for sockeye at
Salmon Banks. I was on the boat for the last five days and nights fishing
with no shower, I couldn’t wait to get home to a hot sudsy shower. I
couldn’t run during those days. Instead I made a jump rope out of a heavy
stiff rope. I don’t know which got the most exercise, my legs or my arms.
The high point for me on the way down through
the Inside Passage was playing with the porpoises that love to frolic in the
spray created by the bow of the boat. The more I applauded and talked to
them, the longer they stayed and performed. There are no words to
describe the feeling I felt when one of those large, graceful forms would turn
on its side and lock one thought-provoking eye with my eyes.
A Stolen Shower in Alaska - 1981
Background: The year is 1981. The
final year of a three-year commercial fishing venture in Southeast Alaska
aboard the fishing vessel, The Carol. Built in the 1930’s, it was a
classic fifty-five-foot-long wooden hulled salmon fishing boat. It was
meant for work with no luxuries apparent. It had no place to
shower. It did have a very tight toilet, but you could not turn around in
it. A compact galley was the one place with the most comfort. A
small one-bunk room for the skipper adjoined it. Since I was the only
female of a six-person working crew, I was allowed to sleep there. The
skipper slept down below just off of the fish hold below decks with the rest of
the crew. I was the cook, and I ran the equipment on the deck.
Quite fragrant any time, but especially so when you were fishing around the
clock because of a forty-eight hour opening.
You fished at the whim of the Alaska State
Fisheries Department. Sometimes you fished for a week without going
ashore. A cannery fish tender boat followed the fishing fleet around the
fishing grounds. When you had a full hold you radioed the tender and they
would tie up to your boat and our crew, including myself, threw the fish into
the a lowered basket and they were weighed and then dumped into the tenders
iced hold. We had to separate the sockeyes from the lowly humpy because
the price varied immensely. Kings and silvers were also separated by
species. It was a real fishy job. Not unusual to get slapped in the
face with a fish if you moved carelessly. Do you think we needed a shower
after a week at sea? Uh-huh!!!
Well, let me tell you about one particular
shower that I will never forget. We had been fishing night and day for a
week without going ashore. It was midnight or later when we arrived in Ketchikan
and tied up at our cannery’s dock. We had in the past been allowed to
shower there when all of the public showers in town were closed. Because
of unknown complaints by cannery workers it was decided we could no longer do
that. The cannery had gone so far as to put up a barbed wire fence and
locked gate across the dock blocking boat crews from entering the
cannery. We were not happy. We discussed what we should do.
The crew voted that we should climb over the damn fence gate and just go in and
take a shower anyhow. I agreed that my need for a shower was greater than
my nervousness about stealing one. So, with a bit of difficulty and a lot
of adrenalin we made it over the obstacles and joyously found the showers
unlocked. Without lights we each found a shower space and the water
flowed hot and furiously. I lathered myself with soap from the top of my
head to the bottom of my feet. Uh-oh, all of a sudden flashing red lights
reflected on the walls. The crew whispered loudly, HIDE! Under the
bench I went wrapped in a soapy towel barely able to breath for fear of being
hauled in the nude to a police station. No-one made a sound. I had
no idea where the rest of the crew was hiding. I saw a policeman with a
flashlight shining it around the building. Luckily he had it aimed above
the bench where I was hiding. Finally he went back to his cruiser with
its flashing lights and left the area. When he was gone everyone whooped
and then we finished our stolen showers. At the time I wondered why they
had windows in a shower room. Could it be it was to catch shower thieves?
Emerald City Marathon March 27th, 1983
Emerald City Marathon, Silver Star Peak, Mount
Baker, all poetic names, for Linda Patterson and I they are poetic
firsts. We met in an aerobics class in late November of 1979 shortly
after the death of my husband Ross Newell in July of that year. She
and her husband, Jim Patterson, were always positioned directly across
from me in an aerobics class held in the Burlington High School gym.
About two thirds of the way through the month long class taught by a young man
named Dave, Linda marched across the gym with hands on her hips and said, “You
look like someone we would like to know.” Thus began a relationship that
has lasted over forty years.
From aerobics we graduated into running
together almost daily averaging twenty to forty miles a week. Many
mornings before heading to Cascade Middle School to teach I would roll out of
bed at five a.m., drive sixteen miles to Big Lake to join Linda in an eight and
three/tenths mile run around Big Lake’s hilly circumference. At the end
of our run we would jump into the cold waters of the lake before finishing up
with a twenty minute warm up in their hot tub. Our longest run prior to
1983 and our participation in the Emerald City marathon was a half marathon
sponsored by Skagit Runners Club and Skagit Valley College. I was
delighted to come in first in my fifty to sixty year old age division.
There were two thousand runners that ran the marathon.
We ran the very first Seattle Emerald City
Marathon on March 27th, 1983. I remember a cold wind,
especially down by the water as we approached the finish line at the King
Dome. Our route included starting in downtown Seattle and running across
the Mercer Island Bridge. I have a great memory of running across the
bridge and just as we reached the turn around spot we were greeted by a great
Mariachi band playing the Tequila song. At the appropriate moment in the
music two thousand runners shouted TEQUILA. Our route then took us
through the Arboretum and across town to Ballard and its waterfront area ending
up along the downtown waterfront leading to the finish line.
I managed to come in fourth for my age group,
fifty to sixty years old division. The next day I couldn’t walk. In
the afternoon a friend drove to my doctor who x-rayed my foot. The
x-ray showed a small crack in one of my foot’s metatarsais bones. I knew
exactly when that happened. The Saturday before our scheduled marathon
several of my fellow Skagit Runners and I had ran from the Bow Post office up Chuckanut
Drive to Bellingham for breakfast as our last training run. About half
way there I jumped off a bank into a trail along the road. I felt a small
pop but finished the run. I did no running the week before the marathon
and instead soaked in my hot tub for a half hour every day.
I ran for well over fifteen years.
Running led to our first Mountain climbing experience. Each unique
sporting experience was a fulfilled challenge, each anticipated with some fear
and a lot of eagerness; including fear of the unknown, the unexpected. I
had a desire to find out just what it is that draws thousands of people to run
a marathon and hundreds to climb snow covered peaks. All the time
thinking, can I really run twenty-six point two miles? Climb 9,000 feet on snow
and ice? D
Did we find out what it is that inspires
people to push themselves to new limits? Perhaps. I started running
and exercising to help me sleep after my husband’s unexpected death by cardiac
arrest. It helped me survive.
Most of the people we climbed with were
members of the Skagit Runners’ club. Experienced climbers, Mike
Woodmansee and Warren Krug, organized both of the climbs that we
accomplished. We discovered that people who are distance runners
are also physically able to climb rugged mountains.
Mount Baker Climb, 1983
For the past month, every time I looked at
Mount Baker, the same questions flashed through my mind. Am I really
going to do it? Am I crazy enough to attempt to climb that mountain and
cross all those crevasse-strewn glaciers with only one other major mountain
climb to my credit? Those thoughts were always followed by flashback
images of flying over Mount Baker in a small plane with friend Jim Abrahamson
two years ago. I remember looking down at the multiple fissures
encircling the entire mountain and thinking that it was a mighty scary looking
On July 15, 1983 I did climb to the top and I
am crazy enough to cross the glaciers with all their crevasses. I loved
it! Climbing Mount Baker is like most everything else one does that
appears to be a challenge. The anticipation is more frightening than the
actual deed. Not to say that there wasn’t a moment or two of
excitement. Several of our group of nineteen managed to sample the thrill
of one leg suddenly disappearing into a snow bridge covered crevasse
edge. I managed to do it twice. The first time I got out of it by
myself with the help of my ice axe. The second time I wasn’t so lucky.
Jim and Linda Patterson did a great ice axe arrest preventing me from dropping
farther down into a crevasse as our rope leader Mike stabilized my
predicament. Katie Dahl fell through a crevasse with both legs up to her
waist. She seemed to think that was enough of that and the mountain could
just pick on someone else for the rest of the day.
Most of the people climbing that day were
members of the Skagit Runners Club. We started our climb at the 3500-foot
level parking lot just for climbers. The climb was organized and
led by experienced climbers, Mike Woodmansee and Warren Krug. The other
members of our party were Jim and Linda Patterson, Mac and Linda Mac Gregor, John
and Katie Dahl, Carl and Carlene Corbin, John Pickett, Kent Haberly, John
Reynolds, Jere La Folette, Walter Phfal, Don Slack, Howard Shapiro, Paul ?, and
myself, Lavone Newell.
We left Kulshan parking lot at 5:10 a.m.
By twelve noon most of us were on the summit of Mount Baker. By 1:00 p.m.
the last of our group reached the top. It took us seven hours to climb
7000 + feet to reach the 10,500 foot summit. We spent over an hour on top
eating our lunch and taking photos, and visiting with some Canadian
climbers. The flat area at the summit is large enough to fit a football
field on it with room to spare. After climbing up and up for hours it
seemed a little surrealistic to walk across such a level area of that size so
high in the sky. At one edge there is a small cone that is thirty or so
feet higher. It was on top of that area that everyone paused to
photograph the surrounding views of mountain after mountain with Baker Lake
lying far below and to the southeast.
I couldn’t help but compare the mammoth size
of Baker’s summit to the minute area at the top the spire on Silver Star Peak
that our same group climbed in June. There were sixteen of us on that
climb (the first ever real mountain climb that over half of the group had
made). It was all we could do to make room for everyone on Silver Star’s
six foot by ten foot mountain top that included a snow covered cornice along
After photographing the view on Baker we were
discussing how we could get the entire group together in a photograph when two
young men with skis on their backs arrived. John Pickett recognized one
of them as a photographer he had met some time ago. He asked him to take
the photo. I think the best photo of all, though, might be the one
snapped of him with a dozen of our group’s cameras hanging all over him as he
patiently took two shots of the group with each camera.
When the photo session ended we did a
combination plunge step, slip and slide, and glissading down the Roman
Wall. We looked back up the slope to see the two skiers, Cliff Leight and
Monty Tuengel gracefully traversing the Roman Wall we had just struggled
down. They passed us at that point and we watched them sail down across
the glaciers, skimming over crevasses. They made it all look so easy as
if there was nothing to it.
At the base of the Roman Wall four of our
experienced climbers; Warren Krug, Mike Woodmansee, Don Slack and Jere La
Follette decided to bag another peak before the day was over. Since each
of them was on a different rope we had to do some jockeying around to allow the
four of them to head up the Hanging Glacier Dome on one rope. John
Reynolds replaced Mike Woodmansee on our rope and we headed out at a trot down
the glacier fields. Going down was a breeze compared to going up. When
no large crevasses showed up ahead of us we glissaded down on our rears.
Glissading is fast, but occasionally painful when you hit an ice lump at high
speed. It took us less than four hours from the top to get back to the
spot where we had left our cars. Sure did feel good to remove those
boots, wash our faces and just sit back and look up at Baker and say, “We Did
It felt so good that I met friends at a local
spot in Mount Vernon to listen to music and dance the night away. I slept
well that night.
Silver Star Peak Climb 1984
We climbed Silver Star Peak the weekend of June 9 and 10, 1984. I was
fifty-three and Linda was thirty-seven years old. Sixteen people
completed the weekend climb.
The original plan for that weekend was that
Mike and Warren, our two experienced climbers would lead twenty Skagit Runners
up to the summit of Mount Baker. It was to be a mix of experienced and
inexperienced climbers. I believe it all started when Skagit Runner,
Linda MacGregor, mentioned to Mike Woodmansee, an avid runner and teacher of
mountaineering, that she would like to climb again. Linda had done some
climbing in Alaska several years ago. Mike had climbed two hundred
different peaks by that time. Some of them he had climbed more that once.
Why did we climb Silver Star instead of Mount
Baker? Weather! Mike called for several planning meetings prior to
the chosen date to go over equipment lists, food lists, and alternate plans if
the weather did not cooperate. Our first alternate was Silver Star Peak
on the east side of the Cascades. It poured all night the eve of our
departure date. When we arrived at Skagit Valley College parking lot at 5:30
a.m. it was not raining but the weatherman predicted showers. We decided
it wouldn’t be much fun to be on top of Baker in a cloud- bank.
We loaded all our packs and ourselves into
several vehicles and headed up the North Cross Highway. We signed in at
the Marblemount Ranger Station on our way over the pass. It was 9:00 a.m.
when the last person dropped down over the rocky bank by the sign that pointed
to Silver Star Peak. When I looked up to the top of that spire I began to
have some slight doubts about our collective sanity. Mike had just
pointed out to the group that we were going to go straight up through the trees
and rocks to the snow line. When we reached that point we would
angle back over the large field of snow and ice that looked a little like
avalanche material to me. We would, one at a time, attach to a rope
and step off of the col that would be our pass to the other side of a giant
snow field. From the col we would drop, and we did literally, attached to
a rope by a locking carabiner also called a D-ring that was hooked over our
climbing-harnass. We dropped straight down about a hundred feet and
glided for a very long distance on the snow field.. That was a real
thrill. It wasn’t easy to take that major step off into space. For some
it took a while but we all did it.
From there we angled back up the side of the
mountain with miniature snow balls shooting down the incline we had to cross to
get to our camping area. Oh, how they smarted when they hit you on the
hand or the side of the face. Our camp was on a saddle where we spent the
night in our three man tents.
It was such a relief to take off our packs and
take a look around at the awesome view that surrounded us. Linda and I
staked out our tent spot right in the middle of the area that was barely large
enough for all of the tents. Everyone was feeling pretty good by that
time. We got our little stoves going and the party atmosphere
expanded. Several of us heated up our food and shared our assorted
dinners and ended up with a seven-course dinner. Not bad for being 7700
feet up in ice and snow, sipping a hot drink while looking out over layer after
layer of snow covered mountains. It gave one a high similar to the one
attributed to running.
Bedtime arrived early on the
mountaintop. So does 4:15 a.m., the time decided upon for our final
assault of the rocky spire that formed the summit of Silver Star. During
the night the wind blew hard and sleet pelted the tent. At wake-up time
the weather was gorgeous. Mike assured us that we would be on the apex in
a very short time. When we reached our first crevasse we roped up in
groups of four. Linda and I roped up behind Jere LaFollette and Mike
The crevasse was beautiful with gorgeous
shades of blue down inside. The only thing that made me nervous was the
cracking and popping noises going on inside it. About a hundred feet from
the summit we were treated to a spectacular view that in one direction looked
down on Liberty Bell Mountain and Highway Twenty and the ranges to the
north. In the other direction there were countless layers of mountains.
Our final fifty feet was a steep incline of snow covered rocks. Before we
could sit on the top of our chosen spire we had one last obstacle to
overcome. We had to work our way up through a chimney that offered
very little in handholds or footholds. I think that was the time I was
most appreciative of being roped to the lead climber who had wrapped his rope
around a solid rock at the top. There was no room for moving around on
the top. By the time sixteen of us were there no one dared move. As
we drank in the view in all directions, Mike pointed out major peaks in the
area, naming them for us.
One doesn’t realize how vast the Cascades are
until they are viewed from above.
Again the trickiest part of going down from
the summit to our camp area was going down over the rocks and through the
chimney. When we reached the solid glacier area we glissaded down.
Sitting down and sliding certainly speeds up the return trip. If we went
too fast we could slow down by ice axe arrests. I’m sure our jubilant
yells could be heard for some distance.
Back in camp it took very little time to pack
up our tents. Since we had several long glissading areas to cover on the
way down, Mike decided to give we beginners an hour’s lesson perfecting our
self arrests with the ice axe. We had to slide down a bank feet first,
then head first, and then backwards head first. Our test was to self
arrest ourselves at the halfway mark. Some people had to do it several
times before they got it right. Believe me, while glissading down that
long one thousand feet from the col I was thankful for the practice. I
used my newly learned techniques several times. I found that heels are
pretty good brakes, also.
Further down the mountain we came across
gigantic bear tracks in the snow. I have seen numerous bear paw prints in
the past but none as large as these. The bear appeared to be following
deer tracks. Sure glad we didn’t meet that bear face to face.
Those who completed the climb were Linda and
Mac Mac Gregor, Katie and John Dahl, Carlene Corbin and her dad, Carl, John
Pickett, Walter Phfal, Dan Bailey, Fred Heydrich, John Reynolds, Jere La
Follette, Warren Krug, Mike Woodmansee, Linda Patterson and myself.
A Timer’s Reflections On The Women’s Olympic
Marathon Trials 1984
Exciting? Yes! The names in
women’s distance running – Joan Benoit, Julie Brown, the Shea sisters, Karen Dunn,
Marianne Dickerson, Sue King, and my own personal favorite, Sister Marion
Irvine: all gathered together in one spectacular marathon. The first ever
Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials. There were two-hundred-sixty-seven
women, who had each already run a qualifying marathon at 2:51:16 or less,
between April 1, 1983 and April 16, 1984, from all parts of the United
States making them eligible to take part in the elite run. They ranged in
age from sixteen year old Cathy Schiro of Dover, New Hampshire to the oldest
competitor, the fifty-four year old Dominican nun, Sister Marion Irving from
San Francisco, California. Schiro’s best qualifying time was 2:45:16,
Irvine’s was 2:51:01. In the trials, Schiro finished ninth in
2:34:24. Irvine ‘s time was 2:52:04
The final briefing for the official timers
took place from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. in a room just east of the starting
line. It was during this briefing that I was handed a yellow flag and
told that part of my duties at the thirteen mile mark was to wave it at all
remaining runners at precisely one hour and forty-four minutes after the
starting gun. I was also told to give them a verbal warning that they
were close to being removed from the course.
The marathon was scheduled to start at exactly
9:25 a.m. That gave we timers an opportunity to walk out to the starting
area and share some of the pre-race tensions of the competitors. Looking
down the avenue lined with American flags did give one a special feeling.
At 9:20 all timers who were not already at their post were grouped together
near the starting line with eyes glued to the starter’s gun. Right on
time we all pushed the starting button on our stopwatches. Those of us
stationed at eight miles and out were then bussed to our positions. We
followed the runners for the first three miles. At that point we cut
across the course to the eight-mile mark. The bus dropped each timer off
at his or her post. Mine. At the thirteen-mile mark, was on the Yelm
highway next to a huge Christmas tree farm.
About fifteen minutes prior to the approach of
the first runner to my post a car with four Olympic officials came by and
checked my stopwatch against the official clock they were carrying with
them. After a few seconds of comparing the two they formally announced
that I was a certified timer with the certified time. I have wondered
since what would have happened if the two timepieces had not agreed.
As I eagerly awaited the first runner, I
listened to a ham radio operator’s commentary on the approaching runners.
Up to the twelve mile mark Joan Benoit and Betty Springs were step for
step. Somewhere between the twelve mile mark and the thirteen mile area
Benoit cruised away from all contenders. When I first sighted her she was
Benoit is almost indescribable. The
photos I have seen in the past did not do justice to the five foot three inch,
one hundred-five pound dynamo. She is pretty, petite, and all guts.
The most difficult part of being an official timer was refraining from cheering
her on as she neared my milepost. I did get to take a good look at her
smooth running form as she led the pack gliding towards me before I
concentrated on calling out splits for the next half hour or so. Benoit
crossed the thirteen mile mark alone at 1:12:34. From then on all I saw
were legs and blurs of bodies approaching my watch. Trying to out shout
the hovering television helicopters as the leaders went by was a real
At 1:39:32 the last runner passed by my post.
(Yea, I didn’t have to use my yellow flag.) She did run a bit
awkwardly but then you might too if you were six months pregnant.
Directly behind her was a medical wagon. A bus followed it. The
course officials, including myself were being picked up by the bus to be
returned to the starting line. As we rode along behind our pregnant
runner we listened to the bus radio. Benoit was almost to the finish
line. Julie Brown not far behind her. It sounded like a real battle
shaping up for third place. While the races top spots were being decided
the last runner was gaining quite a rooting section on our bus. She had
already announced that the child she was carrying is a boy. By mile
eighteen she was within thirty seconds of being flagged off of the
course. Runners had to do eight minute miles or less to receive an
official time. The hills were beginning to take a toll on her. It
seemed that Michelle Davis intended to have her unborn son be the only male to
run the first ever Women’s Olympic Trials Marathon. At each mile the red
flag came out. Michelle kept running. Finally the medics must have
decided to take her in hand. One jumped out of the van and ran along side
of Michelle, obviously telling her she must slow down. After the second
medic joined her she did walk and she removed her race number. At that
point our bus passed her. Michelle finished her run at 4:01.
By the time I arrived at the finish line it
was time for the awards ceremony. One of the first people I spotted was
Joan Benoit. As I looked around I found the area was alive with lovely
ladies wearing orchid leis. The conversation centered on how each had
performed in the marathon. Second place Julie Brown did not even look
tired. Julie Isphording was euphoric. As she signed my program I
asked her if she was getting tired of people congratulating her. Her
response-“Oh, no, this is what I have been working for. I can’t get
enough of it”. Joan Benoit was much calmer. Her movements revealed
that the race had taken its toll on the speedster. I am totally in awe of
the twenty-six-year old Benoit who had recently had undergone arthroscopic
surgery on her right knee., and who also suffered from a sore hamstring the
week before the Marathon. One of the most gracious runners I chatted with
was Sister Marion Irvine. She had hoped to run the distance in 2:50 but
missed that time by one minute. That didn’t seem to phase her at all. She
laughed and said she would try again to break 2:50 next January in Osaka,
Japan. If I as an older runner need a model, Sister Marion fills the
An Evening with an Alpha Male Coyote Trickster
My husband Dick and I regularly spend the
month of March on Dove Mountain north of Tucson, Arizona and have for nearly
twenty years. We often hike in a 1200 acre Desert Preserve located less than a
mile from the house where we stay. Only non-motorized traffic is allowed on its
nine miles of trails. We often met coyotes, javelinas (collared peccary,
similar to wild boars, considered dangerous if babies are with them.), occasional
rattlesnakes, jack rabbits, roadrunners and assorted other creatures and
birds. Too, there were bicycles and horses on occasion. We also
hiked in high desert area near the top of Dove Mountain without trails.
late afternoon we decided to do a trail-less hike up to the top of the
mountain. We actually became a bit lost as it was starting to get
dark. I spotted a pair of coyotes ahead of us and decided I wanted to
photograph them. We slowly inched toward them and every time we got close
enough to take a picture they would trot faster and finally disappeared off to
the side. We turned towards where we thought our house was at a fast walk
because it was really starting to get dark. I sensed something behind me.
I looked back to see the two coyotes were following us. The one in front
was a large male coyote in very good shape and the other following him we
thought was his mate. About then we spotted the tower that marked where
the house was located and hiked home as fast as we could without running.
We learned later that we had wandered in to the area that was filled with
THE ARTS AS A PROTEST TOOL, 1989
My love affair with the Skagit Valley began when I
moved to this state with my parents during the summer of 1941. The Valley was basically pastoral. All of my life I have been attached to the
land; to growing things, to preserving the fruits of the soil. That connection has given me a strong feeling
of reverence for the valley’s many offerings; its landscapes and waterscapes,
its beasts and birds, its quality of life.
I personally think of the Skagit Valley as a national treasure that
needs to be, must be protected. The
changes I have observed taking place since the 1940’s are phenomenal. Over the past five years my concern for the
valley has changed from concern to foreboding.
When I view the major changes in growth exploding throughout the area
today I am frightened. The rapidly
increasing zoning variances; the building frenzy along I-5, spreading like an
unchecked cancerous growth through the heart of the valley; the implications of
the Hollyhock Farm project sitting on a drawing board waiting to happen. That project alone would eat up hundreds of
farmland acres near Cook Road just out of Burlington. It would create Skagit County’s own Knox
Berry entertainment center with an unprecedented population explosion that
would flood our overcrowded schools, the massive traffic increases that it
would involve are difficult to imagine.
It is my fondest hope that the stalwart Skagitonians
who rallied as a unit and prevented a proposed nuclear power plant from being
built on Bacus Hill near Lyman will rise again to prevent the rape of the
farmland of Skagit County. It is this
hope that causes me, Lavone Newell, teacher-artist, to publicly take a
political stand through my art pieces. I
can think of no better or more appropriate vehicle to do that than is offered
through the Centennial celebration art show titled, “From the Hands of Women”,
that will be displayed at the Anacortes Art Gallery starting November 11, 1989. What better way to express the political
freedom that has been characteristic of Washington State’s during its one
hundred years of formal statehood?
Note: My wish to have Skagitonian’s rise up and prevent
the Hollyhock Farm development was granted
through citizen activism and bless one of the original owners of the farmland
who utterly refused to sell it to developers.
She died just recently. Today,
December 2, 2020 it is still farmland may it always continue to be farmland.
Two-Week Trip of a Lifetime to Greece’s
Cyclades Islands – late 1990s
I flew to Sweden in the late 1990’s to join my dear
friends, Lennart and Christiane for a
planned two week vacation trip. From Sweden we flew to the Island of Santorini
located in the Greek Cyclades Islands off the coast of Greece. Santorini is one of the most picturesque
Islands I have ever seen. We rented a
car there so we could travel by ferry to other islands. Our main destination was a villa on the
island of Paros near its main city, Naoussa.
The Villa was to be our headquarters for the next two weeks. The occasion was a family reunion for
everyone who attended except for me.
The whole family sort of adopted me and I was honored to be
included. The extended family members
homes were in Sweden, Germany, and the U.S.A.
It was a wondrous experience. We
spent one night on Santorini before taking a ferry to our rented villa on the
island of Paros.
Before checking in to our villa on Paros we drove
around the island to enjoy its beauty.
Immediately I found a favorite spot on Paros. We drove up a short byway road on a hillside. That lane led to a signature church, gleaming
white with a bright blue dome amid a stone paved, enclosed courtyard framed by
surrounding cypress trees. All was
warmed to the bone by hot sun. At the
very top of the hillside at its highest point in a crevice formed by two
hillocks sat a Monastery basking in sun and wind. We were told later that only men were allowed
to visit the monastery.
We each took a short walk through the herbs and
wildflowers below the church. I waded
through wind swept tides of native herbs and brilliant wildflowers including
lavender geraniums, large yellow chamomile, red field poppies, giant Queen
Anne’s lace, bears britches, purple thistles and flowering succulents. Wild herbs were everywhere. Each scented step filled my being with the
blended aromas of wild thyme, sage, oregano, alliums, and chamomile. A strong desire to roll in this exotic carpet
became almost overpowering. My camera
could only capture a small essence of what I saw and the feelings evoked in the
Gentle bell sounds arose out of a rocky ledge. To my left appeared a herd of long-legged
sheep. Some white, some black, gamboling
up and across the mountain. Their long
faces and animated ears reminded me of the ancient Gods of Greece. Where had I seen them before? Not in America, perhaps in the margins of an
illuminated manuscript? The sound of
bells lingered as the sheep disappeared from sight. My lovely walk had one more delightful
surprise. Several women dressed in long
black dresses with aprons and scarfs on their heads were slowly roaming the hillside. By silently watching them for a few moments I
could see they were gathering wild capers and putting them in their copious
We returned to our car and made our way to the
villa. It was within walking distance to
the town of Naoussa and it was very close to a beach with beautiful sandy areas
and rocks to sit on and watch the colorful fishing boats at work or catch a
flaming sunset in the evenings.
The food in Greece was fantastic. Most evenings our group walked to uptown
Naoussa late in the evenings. It is a Greek
tradition to eat your final meal of the day between 9:30 p.m. and
midnight. Our favorite open-air
restaurant is near the town square and close to the harbor of Naoussa. The streets are narrow, lined with trees, and
become a gathering place for both tourists and native Greeks. The food was FANTASTIC. Greek salads are luscious. Filled with sun ripened tomatoes, peppers,
cucumbers, sweet red onions, Greek olives and fresh capers. On top is a large slab of feta cheese
sprinkled with dried oregano. Served
with a simple olive oil and vinegar dressing.
Lamb dishes in a red sauce, garlic sauce, crème fraisch with stroganoff
and many mushrooms, kebobs with veggies and all so tasty. I loved the boiled potatoes sliced and
drizzled with fresh lemon juice and salt.
The thick stand alone yogurt served on a platter arranged with fresh
sliced fruit drizzled with honey is heavenly.
One of our most unusual experiences on Paros was
watching the arrest of young Albanians as we sat having our dinner. Opposite of the outdoor restaurant is a
playground with swings, teeter-totters, slides and a basketball hoop. We watched groups of young men shooting
baskets as a major contest. At the end
of the little street is a massive beautiful church. A few cars and a lot of motorbikes park at
the edge of the playground. Close to
midnight a number of policemen quietly appeared a few feet beyond where we were
sitting. Some began to examine the
parked motorbikes while others approached the young men playing
basketball. The next thing I saw was one
of the young men being handcuffed. As we
watched, several more were led to newly arrived police cars, handcuffed and
taken away. A police van was placed in a
position to block the road exit near the church. A motorbike arrived and parked next to the
other bikes. The police asked for papers
and when the proper ones were not there, he too, was handcuffed and taken away. The final arrest was of a young man who drove
up in an old car. The whole operation
covered about an hour and was done very quietly. Our waiter, Demetri explained
to us that all those arrested were young Albanians who had entered the island
As an avid bird watcher I couldn’t help but notice that
while all this took place we had another interested observer. Right after the police event started a large
owl landed in the top of a small tree just across from where we sat. It didn’t fly away until the sting operation
MUSIC CAFÉ ON PAROS
Most days, after spending several hours on the beaches
near our villa a group of the younger generation of female cousins from Sweden
and Germany and myself explored the town.
One day early after our arrival on Paros we discovered the Music Café on
a side street. It served a great variety
of coffees, had a Greek treats menu and served alcoholic drinks. It was always filled with lively Greek
music. We came to love it. We went there
almost every day. Lennart decided we
ladies needed an escort so he chaperoned us daily. The Café was ran by handsome young males, two
bartenders and a D. J. who were all very friendly and loved to watch us dance.
One evening towards the end of our stay on Paros
several women joined us at the Music Café.
One was from Australia, one was from Finland, one was from France and
one was Greek. Our own group included a Swede, a German, and an American. We were a dancing United Nations. That night
we danced and we danced. Even the two
bartenders were dancing behind the Bar and they gave each of us a free drink in
celebration of the joyous event.
When the vacation was over and I had returned to Fir
Island I couldn’t believe that my best friends, Jim and Linda Patterson and
Terry and Julie Rousseau were told about that dance night on Paros while
sailing along the coast of Greece some time later. The Australian woman that took part in our
dance was a crewmember on the sailboat that they were passengers on.
WEEKEND SURPRISE ON PAROS
Two days before we were to leave Paros we had a
wonderful experience. Lennart,
Christiana, and I were on our way to a last visit at the Music Café. As we mounted the wide white marble stairs
that led up to the main town Plaza where all Naoussa major events were held, we
heard loud Greek dance music coming up the steps on the other side of the
plaza. Suddenly the National Greek
dancing troupe filled the Square in their traditional dance costumes. They were so beautiful as they danced across
the space. It seems we, simply by luck,
were attending the troupes’ yearly public performance sponsored by the
government. Once a year the troupe chose
an especially picturesque Greek location to perform. I was ecstatic because earlier in the year I
had driven from my home on Fir Island to Seattle’s Mountaineer Club location to
take a class in Greek line dancing. It
was worth the long drive to Seatttle. There
I met two dancer-teachers that are now lifelong friends. Patty Leverett and her teaching partner Sonny Newman. I ended up taking several classes from them,
including the Tango class.
As I watched the performance unfold I must have been
dancing in place because one of the Greek women dancers came out of the line
and took me by the hand and led me to the stage. I actually danced with the Greek
dancers. The dancer kept saying to me as
I danced with them, “you know. You know”.
I was speechless. It was such a
thrill. I think my friends could hardly
believe it either.
WHO AM I?
This is a paper I wrote in the early 1980’s
for a workshop I attended.
Am I that fourth child born to struggling
farmers living on the edge of the Great Depression on November 20th,
Am I the transplanted ten year-old Kansan
separated by half a continent from the grandmother I adored? She of the
wondrous storytelling and heart felt poetry. That trip from Kansas to
Washington State was done in the manner of the dust Bowl Okies traveling
west. Six siblings four of us piled atop all of the family’s worldly
possessions in an old canopied pick-up truck made out of a 1930’scar with the
backseats removed and a canvas covered wooden box . We camped out along
the way renting a motel for one night so all could take a shower?
Or, am I the maturing child living off the
grid in the deep woods on the the South side of the Skagit River living miles
from neighbors in an area accessible only by a hand-wound cable ferry that
crossed the Skagit as needed from 6;00am to midnight daily?
Or, Am I the young woman who married three
days after high school graduation at age seventeen and birthing three children
by age twenty-one? I became a farmer’s wife, milking cows, raising hay
crops, gardening, and preserving food on a thirty-four acre farm half way down
the Skagit River on the eastern edge of Lyman? A young adult developing a
burning interest in art and in learning for learning’s sake.
Perhaps I am the art teacher who spent
twenty-three years in the same room at Cascade Junior High (later it became a
Middle School) in Sedro Woolley. A teacher, experiencing growing pains
along with her students intense creativity. Twenty-three years surrounded
with puberty, what an experience.
Or, am I the woman who married my best friend
at age forty and spent the next seven years working with him on an ultimate art
piece, the house and gardens I live in on Fir Island. We followed his
dream in 1979 and bought into a commercial fishing vessel. On that salmon
purse seiner, the Carol, my husband fell dead at my feet the first day of the
first salmon fishing opening. He suffered a massive cardiac arrest.
I worked summers on the boat for the next three years before selling our
interest in it and escaping the $500,000 loan that used our home as collateral.
Am I the so-called retiree, fulfilling a
long-term dream of publishing a book with art, poetry, and good cooking?
My days were filled with gardening, painting, and writing at my own pace,
feeling strongly the need to record on canvas or paper my view of nature and
I suspect I am all of these things. I
feel privileged to have experienced so much diversity, and to have lived so
many lives in one lifetime.
Our Sister June
My most vivid memory as a small child is the
following story of my sister June Stone’s birth. The second most vivid
memory is of dancing with my father from the time I was a year or so old.
He would play the harmonica and he and I would dance. I particularly
remember visits to Dad’s oldest brother, Uncle John where he worked as a car
mechanic. Uncle John was a tall man and he always wore coveralls that
were covered with grease. Every time dad and I danced on our visits with
him he would end up giving me a shiny new penny when we finished. What still
amazes me about Uncle John is the fact that he had twelve children and probably
couldn’t afford to give me even one shiny new penny. My dad told me later
that I started dancing as soon as I could walk. What I remember most is
dancing to music anytime I heard it and receiving that shiny new penny as a
reward. I can still “feel the music” today as I approach my ninetieth
birthday. I think I’d like to leave this life dancing. Dad
and I were always the Saturday night entertainment for our large family from
the time I was a small child. Of course I was born during the Great
Depression on November 20, 1931. Food was scarce, jobs were scarce,
and the only entertainment was that which you made for yourself.
My sister June’s Story:
Yvonne June Stone was born June 25, 1934 in a
modest home near Galesburg, Kansas. She joined three older brothers and
one older sister. I am that older sister. I remember the beautiful
sunny day of her birth so well because I, at age two years and seven months,
observed her birth while hidden high on a gigantic pile of quilts and blankets
that were atop an ancient steamer trunk in our parents’ bedroom. I was
supposed to be next door at our neighbors’ house. My grandmother had
taken me over there to spend the afternoon while June's birth took place.
I must have sensed something unusual was happening because I sneaked back home
and scurried into my mother’s bedroom unnoticed by anyone. I climbed to the top
of the bedding that nearly touched the ceiling. The entire event is
etched forever in my memory. I lay, sucking my thumb, watching her birth
unfold. I saw my mother, with hands above her head, gripping the brass bedstead
while moaning and writhing on the bed. I thought the midwife and my
grandmother were trying to take her legs off. I was mesmerized when my
grandmother held out her hands and caught my sister as she emerged from between
my mother’s legs. The words she spoke still ring in my ears. ‘This
child will do wondrous things because she has a veil over her face’. Her
head was covered with a film that I have since learned is called a caul.
As my grandmother started to clear the film away I began to cry and remember
asking, “why did you try to take mama’s leg off?” I was in deep
trouble. The visible consternation scared me seriously.
Another strong recollection of June is of a
happy little sister with a ringlet-covered head framing big brown eyes. I
remember our father calling her his “little brown eyed Gypsy”. We were
probably both under the age of five at that time. June was always a
cowgirl at heart. Oh, how she wanted to have a horse, it never
happened. I can see her now in her black cowboy hat she wore throughout
her childhood.. Somewhere in my copious photo files I have a slide of her
zooming around the fifty bed hospital June had helped build and ran for close
to forty years in Ippy. The Ippy compound is located in Central African
Republic. When June arrived there in the 1960’s it was known as French
Equatorial Africa. The photo is of June zipping around on her moped wearing a
colorful African sleeveless dress, cowboy Stetson on her head and cowboy boots
on her feet. In Africa women wore dresses, never slacks or jeans.
But let us return to the days of our
childhood. Being girls, we were assigned to do the dishes every
day. Neither of us ever wanted to deal with the heavy, greasy pans.
That was probably the only time we ever argued. As children we always slept in
the same bed. It turns out our bedroom was a day bed in the living room
where we slept feet to feet. We were bed partners until I left home at
age seventeen. Our little cedar shake house in the woods had only two
small bedrooms, one on each side of a living room that opened up into a
kitchen, similar to a cross. By this time our family had grown in number.
Now, seven living children filled the small
house. The three older brothers slept in one bedroom our parents in the
other. The two current babies had a crib in with our parents. That
left the day bed, also used as a couch, to June and I.
Our religious upbringing was varied. In
our last Kansas church the locals termed it a “Holy Roller” church. It had a
fiery minister. I recall that when we first started attending that church
I was a bit scared of the loudness of the sermons. One Sunday I spoke up
to my parents and asked in my normal voice a question about the service.
I remember asking “if God created us who created God? I remember my
parents being quite upset by my outspoken question. I was well scolded
when we returned home. In Washington State our family continued to
worship God in the church closest to our home. During June’s formative
years, we lived on the south side of the Skagit River in an area called
Sauk. The only way to cross the river was on the Faber Ferry, a
hand-wound, gas driven, ferry attached to cables that spanned the river.
As a result, June and siblings (including me) often attended Sunday school
classes in the home of Florence Hockett, a woman instrumental in the building
of the Community Bible Church in Concrete.
During those early years we also attended the
Presbyterian Church in Concrete. That might explain why, as adults, two
older brothers became Catholic and another joined a Southern Baptist
congregation. My children were raised as Episcopalians. June
started out as a teenager with the Community Bible Church in Concrete.
Later, while attending nursing school in Everett, she joined Calvary Baptist
Church and remained a member until the day she died. Our younger sister and
family belong to the Assembly of God Church in Concrete. Most Sundays,
our large family joined our parents for after church Sunday dinners of chicken
and noodles or chicken and dumplings until our parents’ deaths. Not once can I
recall criticism from anyone over a family member’s choice of religious
expression. One can’t help but think that our parental example of
tolerance of all faiths, if practiced throughout the world, could make our
world a much more peaceful, pleasant place for all.
At age fifteen June made the decision to
become a medical missionary in Africa. She spent close to forty years in
Africa doing just that.
She graduated at the top of her class from
Concrete high school. After graduation she enrolled in a college in
New York State where she graduated with high honors. She then went to
Everett and completed a three-year nursing course, again with high
honors. She spent the next year working as a surgical nurse at an Everett
hospital. From there she traveled to The Sorbonne College in Paris and
spent eighteen months learning the French language. From Paris she
traveled to Fort Krampel in Africa to learn the Sango dialect that would allow
her to communicate with the native Africans in French Equatorial Africa. That
country is now Central African Republic. She then officially became a medical
missionary with Baptists Mid- Missions. The stories that unfolded through
those years are amazing. Each fifth year she left Africa on leave for
more training in tropical medicines in places like Scotland, England, Wales and
in the United States. Each leave included travel from church to church in
the United States to raise money for medical supplies and cash to support her
work in Africa. Her supporting churches covered the West coast of
America, and included Alaska and Hawaii.
Her experiences throughout her nearly forty
years in Africa were amazing. Her first term was scarily highlighted for,
we her family, by an actual act of cannibalism that took place in her
area. Three men from the closest village went off to a hunting area to
try to find meat for their needy families. Two of the three men returned
and did not seem to know what had happened to the third man. His family was
very upset. It was noted that they came back with smoked meat that turned
out to be human flesh. They were even so bold as to serve their hunting
partner’s flesh at their homes.
Over the years there were many snake
stories. Everything from their appearance hanging from the thatch roofs
during services in small churches, to the one who traveled with her in her car
for many miles, to the six foot plus “bad snake” that came to dinner. The
visit took place on June’s birthday. On the Ippy station, a missionary
pilot who flew patients to and from the hospital and his wife lived close by to
June. He was flying on a mission that day. His wife decided that
June should come to her house and have a birthday lunch. As they sat down
at the table they heard a noise, like a bottle breaking. When they went
to investigate they saw a huge snake forcing his way through what had been a
small hole in the screen door. He slithered into the room and
disappeared. The snake suddenly reappeared. It stuck its head
around the doorway about half way up the wall. They called African
workers to come and remove the snake. The men took one look at it and
shouted, “bad snake, bad snake”. It disappeared behind a buffet.
They ran to a residence nearby for help and neighbor, Larry Beckman, came over
with a pellet gun and shot the snake over and over. Finally it was
dead. They took it out to the road and measured it. Larry, who was
well over six feet tall, lay down beside it. The snake stretched out well
beyond six feet long.
There were years when June and the African
midwife nurses she had helped train delivered as many as five hundred babies a
year. Each of those newborn babies received a layette of flannel diapers
and a baby gown. The layettes were made by church members and loyal
supporters throughout the USA. I remember a photo of one adorable baby
that June took care of until she could find a relative. Baby Pierre slept
in a bassinet made out of a dresser drawer in June’s bedroom. The mother died
during labor. It was quite some time before the father came to claim the baby.
I recall another photograph of, what June
termed, an African ambulance. It showed two men with a strong pole over
their shoulders. Between them there was a blanket attached to the pole
and the victim needing medical assistance was therein reclined. I believe
that our sister June deserves sainthood. The stories in my head go on and
Those last years at Ippy, where she had
managed the hospital for most of her years in Africa, were difficult for a
number of reasons. The area was overrun with rebel groups, called
bandits, who threatened her medical compound repeatedly. Her hospital was
filled beyond its capacity with young mothers who were HIV positive as were
their babies. The men didn’t come in for treatment. Most of the
African population would not accept the fact that sexual promiscuity had
anything to do with the disease.
In the summer of 1996 June was forced to leave
her hospital by French Military escort. Rebels were killing anyone and
everyone with white skin. She received a radio-telephone call from a
French African diamond collector. June had taken care of his wife at an
earlier date at her small hospital. He told her to turn over the hospital
and her home to the native Africans she trusted most. The few hours
before the rescue operation took place also included a long trek to the Bambari
airfield. Immediately June chose to give head nurse Joseph, an African
nurse she had trained many years before, the assistant head nurse, and the
hospital cashier, Timothy, control of everything pertaining to the hospital.
She and the only other white woman on the station had to choose what they would
take with them. Each person being airlifted out of the area was allowed
to bring one bag of personal items.
For June it was a very difficult task after
spending more than thirty-five years living in Africa. Their instructions
were to travel some distance to a small, grassy airfield to join other whites
from numerous European nations. Many were merchants from throughout the Ippy
area. They were told that at 5:30 a.m. a French troop transport plane would
land and they had less than ten minutes to load and be back in the air.
They were instructed to line up in a row. At 5:30 am exactly, two French
jet fighter planes zoomed crisscross across the area to check for rebels. The
troop transport plane landed, opened up the back loading door, and out popped
about thirty-five soldiers who surrounded the airplane. Like clockwork,
the waiting group of people marched in, handing their one suitcase to a
soldier. The plane was back in the air within seven minutes heading for
Bangui. At Bangui they landed at the French controlled airport that was
walled in similar to a fort. When they landed June was escorted to an
American airplane that took her to the Cameroons. She flew from there to
Switzerland and then to the U.S.A. As her plane left Bangui the rebels
were shooting at the plane. June told me by that time she was so tired that she
just didn’t care and she simply drifted off to sleep
Another unusual memory shortly after June’s
birth that relates to my Grandmother Gough. The house was the same one
that June was born in 1934. That house was located not far from
Grandmother Gough’s farm. Someone knocked loudly on the door. My grandmother
exclaimed, “Uncle Ed is dead.” My mother said, “he is fine What are
you talking about?” She opened the door to another of my Grandmother’s
brother who said, ”Ed just died of a heart attack.” Grandmother
seems to have been what has been termed a seer.
On Death and Dying
My introduction to death arrived early in my
life. It was an unpleasant and baffling experience. I was around
six years old and had great admiration for my pretty blonde eleven-year old
cousin, Lois. I thought of her as a lovely princess. She was always
clothed in frilly dresses and wore patent leather shoes. Her naturally
curly hair sported ribbons to match her clothes. She lived in town and had her
own girly bedroom. I lived on a farm and shared sleeping quarters with my
siblings. My clothes were hand-me-downs and I wore sturdy
I do know I was awe struck by her sweet
persona. She suddenly became quite ill and was very weak and bed ridden.
Her bedroom was darkened by heavy drapes. After a while rails were added
to her bed so she could not roll out of it in her weakened state. I now
know she had developed leukemia. At the time no one explained to me what
was happening even though we continued to visit her until her
death. After her funeral attended by all of the family we went back
to her home and her father and mother carried all of her bed and bedding and
her clothes to the back yard and burned them. To this day I don’t really
know why they did that. I was appalled and couldn’t wait to return to our
farm. That same year Lois’s father was injured in a hunting accident and
died shortly afterwards.
As the oldest girl child, the fourth born of
seven siblings I became an alternate mother of my sibling babies. Mother
often worked outside in our immense gardens. Some summers my mother
worked as a field boss for a large strawberry field near Concrete. I
believe the field where she worked belonged to the Sukuma Brothers. It
was her job to keep the kids filling their strawberry flats of boxes while
discouraging filling their stomachs or starting a strawberry war. The
temptation to throw the biggest, juiciest berry at the nearest human target
cost many a youngster his job. For some that was a welcome release.
I was twelve years old when my baby sister,
Gertrude Helen Jane Stone, was born three months premature. Her birth was
traumatic. Six months into Mom’s pregnancy she had a severe attack of
appendicitis in the wee hours of the night. We lived high on a hillside a
mile above the only way to a hospital. We first had to cross the Skagit
River on a hand-wound ferry. The ferry was closed from midnight until six
a.m. The hospital was located in Sedro Woolley some thirty plus miles
away. My oldest brother was rousted out of bed and sent on a mile run to
the ferry landing to beat loudly on a metal disc and yell loudly to awaken the
ferry operator who lived on the other side of the river to telephone for the
Concrete emergency ambulance to meet the ferry. I was left at home to
baby sit at the house while dad dressed mom and drove her to the ferry in our
old beaten up pickup truck. By the time mom reached the hospital in the
ambulance her appendix had ruptured. When they did the surgery they
delivered the baby, Gertrude Helen Jane, at the same time. She weighed
less than two pounds. She was not expected to survive. Mother named
her Gertrude Helen after the nurses who took such great care of both mother and
child. Jane was my paternal grandmother’s name. It is a very large
name for such a mite of a baby. Recovery for both took a very long
time. Little Gertrude’s premature birth caused her to suffer from
hydrocelphalus. In simple terms the soft area on the top of the head
enlarged rather than closed as it normally does and filled with fluid. I
tended baby Gertrude a lot over her first two years. The only word she
could say clearly was mama. Mother was mama and I was mama.
Less than a week after her second birthday, as
I was changing her diaper she gave a strange little cry and her eyes rolled
back. I picked her up and she went limp in my arms. I held her
close to comfort her. But in my soul I knew she was gone. I took
her out to my mother who was working in the garden. I simply handed
Gertrude to her. Mother took one look and pointed her finger in the direction
of the river and said quietly, “Go, get your dad”. My father was a
boom-man rafting logs on the Skagit River about a mile and a half north of our
home that sat on the mountainside in a heavily wooded area. I ran through
the woods on a path we called the shortcut. The path cut off a mile or so
of distance to where Dad worked. I will never forget that run, bushes
slapping me in the face, running through a small creek that crossed the
path. I can still hear the squish of my wet shoes and socks. When I
arrived at the riverbank my dad took one look at me and threw down his long
pike pole that he moved logs around with and ran across the rafted logs in his
cork boots as if he was were on dry land. I told him my story and we
jumped into his old truck. Mother was waiting for us at the end of the
mile long lane to our home. She was standing there with Baby Gertrude
wrapped in a quilt. I can still see her little foot poking from under the
covers. I was told to go home to tend to the other two young siblings.
I stood for a moment and listened to the drumbeat of the truck’s loose fender
as my parents drove rapidly away before I turned and headed up the long hill to
the house. My parents returned much later with a beautiful frilly white
satin lined child’s casket that contained the body of my little sister.
My father got out of the vehicle and dropped on his knees to the ground.
That was the only time in my life I ever saw
my father sob uncontrollably.
My mother gave birth to ten children between 1923
and 1949, a period of twenty-six years. Eight of them lived to
adulthood. One son, Robert Lee Stone, was stillborn in 1939 before we left
Kansas and Gertrude Helen Jane died at age two in 1944.