Friday, March 22, 2013

MY GRANDMA'S STORY: CHAPTER EIGHT


As written by my grandma, Hazel Florence Browne (Curtis)

GOING TO GRANDMA'S

When I was a tiny baby, shortly after my folks moved from North Dakota back to Minnesota, my mother took my sister Ella May and me up to Marietta, Minnesota to visit grandma and grandpa (Baker). We went on the train.
When we were near each station, the brakeman went through each car calling the name of the station. One little station up near Marietta was called "Hazel Run". The brakeman called out "Next station stop, Hazel Run!" My sister was about three years old and she piped up in her little voice, "She can't, she's too little!"

HAVING OUR PICTURES TAKEN

When I was three years old, my sister Ella May, five, and brother Lloyd, a baby; mother made an appointment for a photographer to take our picture. We had to go to Redwood Falls, Minnesota, eight miles from our home in Delhi. A sudden thunderstorm came up. The lightning made big flashes that made the sky one big flame and the thunder sounded as if the whole world was being knocked to pieces. By the time we reached the photography studio, we were not a very happy group for a picture. They finally calmed us down enough to sit for the camera, but there wasn't a smile on anyone's face. I still have the picture and will show it to you. (Picture is in envelope--back cover).

INTRODUCING YOU TO A TEACHER

The grandma you know is a little old lady with white hair. Perhaps you would like to know her back in 1912 and 1913. She was twenty years old, about the same age your brother Stanley is now. She had blonde/light brown hair like yours.

It was just a week before she was to graduate from San Jose State Normal School when one of our neighbors sent her word that her mother was very sick and needed her at home.  It was too early in the morning to go to the college, so a friend and I went over to the home of Dr. Morris Elmer Dailey, President of the college; to ask him to excuse me from the few tests I still had to take. He hadn't got up yet and still had on his pajamas. He opened his upstairs bedroom window to ask what I wanted. He was very nice and when he found out my mother was ill he excused me from the rest of my work and said he would mail me my diploma. I was graduated in a Christmas class but didn't get to go to my graduation.

I went back to the apartment which I shared with Emma Sedgely (McClellland) and Silva Morrin of Rumsey, California. I packed all my things in my trunk and suitcase and called a taxi to take me to the depot. (There were very few automobiles then--it was still "horse and buggy" days. I went by train to 3rd and Townsend Streets in San Francisco and then by street car to the Ferry Depot, then across the San Francisco Bay and then by train (Northwestern Pacific Railroad) up home to Cloverdale, California. The Menihan Hotel ran a bus drawn by horses that would take passengers to any address in Cloverdale.

So I was home and ready to go to work. Mother had the mumps which is a bad ailment for older people. She caught them from my brother Cyril while she was caring for him. Louise, my sister, was a baby, a year and a half old and my biggest job was taking care of her.  Mother was better in a week or so and then it was my turn to be sick. I didn't get the mumps, but had picked up a "flu" bug only we called it "la-grippe" in those days. I was spending a few days in bed, when a message came from the Superintendent of Schools for Yolo County, California. I had placed an "in case of vacancy" application with her and she had an opening at a school for me: at Tancred, now called Brooks, California at the one-room Canon Schoolhouse.

I didn't have to pack my trunk as I hadn't taken time to unpack. I got up out of bed and went by train to Santa Rosa, California. There was a train in those days that went from Santa Rosa to Suisun once a day, but it had already left so I had to go to a hotel and stay overnight. The next day I went over to Elmira and went on a train that used to go up through Esparto, Capay, Tancred and on to Guinda and Rumsey (the entire Capay Valley).
When I reached Tancred, the rain was pouring down. Charlie Winter was at the depot with a horse and buggy and he gave me a ride and took my baggage over to the Tancred post office which was in the front room of Mrs. Kingbury's home (the home where Buzz and Dot Greene now live, across the field from you). That was to be my boarding place. It was about a mile walk down to the school and a rainy January 1913, cold and windy, even worse than this year (1974). And I was still not feeling well after my spell of "la-grippe".

There were not too many pupils; a dozen or more, some of them very good and some very bad. I had never had any experience teaching all eight grades before, and had always gone to a town school where one teacher taught two grades, so it was all new to me. To make a long story short, I taught for about two months and then found another teacher to take my place. In other words, I was a quitter. The eight grades, the bad storm and my "la-grippe" were too much.

A FRIEND IN NEED

I wasn't feeling very happy about being a quitter and hated to go home and let my family know I was a quitter. You know the Curtis ranch where you now live is very near the old Tancred post office. And the railroad used to go through the front field of the ranch.  Your Aunt Lilith and her husband, Uncle Gene, were living in San Francisco where Uncle Gene had a livery stable. Your grandpa, Vera, was staying with them for a few months during the winter helping in the livery stable. Aunt Lilith was visiting her folks at the ranch. There was no mail delivery in the Capay Valley at that time and everyone came to the post office to get their mail.  One day, Lilith came over and came in to Mrs. Kingsbury's living room to talk to me. She had heard about my quitting the school. Her mother was very timid and was alone at the house when the menfolk were out working on the farm in the fields and orchards. Lilith's younger sister, Pearl, was going to high school in Woodland, California. Lilith asked me if I would like a job to stay with her mother and help her with the housework. I decided that was a good idea, so I moved over to the Curtis ranch and was there until June 1913.

Vera came home in the spring to help his father with the ranch work. He would go into Woodland on Friday afternoons to bring Pearl home and sometimes would ask me to go with him. We became friends but it took ten years for a romance to develop. We were not married until December of 1923. Vera's mother had grown older and could no longer be alone. His folks moved to Esparto but spend much of their time at the ranch still. Lilith and Gene had been managing the ranch. They decided to leave and go to Mayfield near Palo Alto, where they went into the grocery store business.

Vera was now to manage the ranch and needed my help to tend to the house and be company for his mother. So I got a substitute to finish my school year in Clarksburg, where I had been teaching for 3 1/4 years at this point.

In all I taught about ten years: 1913 to 1923: one term in Hermitage District, Mendocino County, California, all grades; one term in Pine Mountain District, Mendocino County, California, all grades; one year in Preston District, Sonoma County, California, all grades; four years in Chicago Park, Nevada County, California, all grades=30 pupils; one year in Guinda, Yolo County, California, first to fourth grades; and three and 1/3 years in Clarksburg, Yolo County, California, Primary grades.


Cañon School, a one-room schoolhouse constructed in Brooks, California (in the Capay Valley, Yolo County) in 1884.  This is where I grew up--Brooks, California:  This is the one-room schoolhouse my grandmother taught in and my mother attended, just a few miles from the farm I grew up on.Cañon School, a one-room schoolhouse constructed in Brooks, California (in the Capay Valley, Yolo County) in 1884. This is where I grew up--Brooks, California: This is the one-room schoolhouse my grandmother taught in and my mother attended, just a few miles from the farm I grew up on.Brooks, California--population 20 when I was a child.  They're not in full bloom--but you can see some of the almond blossoms yet blooming in this picture.Brooks, California--population 20 when I was a child. They're not in full bloom--but you can see some of the almond blossoms yet blooming in this picture.My grandmother on the left, with her brother (center) and sister: from l-r: Hazel Florence Browne, Lloyd Browne and Ella May Browne; circa 1895.  Scared to death from a thunderstorm.My grandmother on the left, with her brother (center) and sister: from l-r: Hazel Florence Browne, Lloyd Browne and Ella May Browne; circa 1895. Scared to death from a thunderstorm.Train depot for the Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad, Marietta, Minnesota--where my grandma spent the largest part of her childhood: her first ten years in a beautiful home in Marietta.  Her father worked at the depot as station agent and telegrapher.Train depot for the Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad, Marietta, Minnesota--where my grandma spent the largest part of her childhood: her first ten years in a beautiful home in Marietta. Her father worked at the depot as station agent and telegrapher.Delhi, Minnesota--My grandma lived here for a time during her childhood and lived in the train depot for Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad, where her father worked as agent.  Some of the photos of their friends are people from this small town in the late 1800's.Delhi, Minnesota--My grandma lived here for a time during her childhood and lived in the train depot for Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad, where her father worked as agent. Some of the photos of their friends are people from this small town in the late 1800's.Hazel Run, Minnesota--which figures in my grandma's story as they were traveling on the train.  Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad.Hazel Run, Minnesota--which figures in my grandma's story as they were traveling on the train. Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad.My grandma, Hazel Florence Browne (Curtis) in 1912 while attending San Jose Normal School in California; born in Boynton, North Dakota in 1892.My grandma, Hazel Florence Browne (Curtis) in 1912 while attending San Jose Normal School in California; born in Boynton, North Dakota in 1892.Historic photo of the farm I grew up on; this would have been in my great grandfather Curtis' time in about the late 1800's.  That's how they used to harvest!Historic photo of the farm I grew up on; this would have been in my great grandfather Curtis' time in about the late 1800's. That's how they used to harvest!The house I lived in on the farm (in Brooks, California (Capay Valley) until I was five.  My dad built a new house just down the gravel road about a half mile from this one in 1968.  The house in the picture was built in the late 1800's and was the original Curtis ranch house.  This is the house my grandma refers to in her story when she was hired to help Mrs. Curtis, after she quit her job at the one-room schoolhouse (Canon School in Brooks, then Tancred, CA).  She later married Mrs. Curtis' son Vera (my grandpa).  My mom was born IN this house in 1924.  My brother and his wife live in it now and recently remodeled it.The house I lived in on the farm (in Brooks, California (Capay Valley) until I was five. My dad built a new house just down the gravel road about a half mile from this one in 1968. The house in the picture was built in the late 1800's and was the original Curtis ranch house. This is the house my grandma refers to in her story when she was hired to help Mrs. Curtis, after she quit her job at the one-room schoolhouse (Canon School in Brooks, then Tancred, CA). She later married Mrs. Curtis' son Vera (my grandpa). My mom was born IN this house in 1924. My brother and his wife live in it now and recently remodeled it.
The Curtis family:  top from left Vera Curtis, my grandfather; standing next to him, Lilith Curtis.  Bottom from left: Pearl Curtis and parents Carrie and Charles Curtis.The Curtis family: top from left Vera Curtis, my grandfather; standing next to him, Lilith Curtis. Bottom from left: Pearl Curtis and parents Carrie and Charles Curtis.
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