Masthead


Hunting Cows With Grand-dad


The following letter was written to by Joe Bell (son of Joseph Bell, Jr.) from his pharmacy in Seattle, Washington to Fred and Mabel Bell 1942.  It speaks of Ebenezer and Mary Curtis and well as some other folks from the Curtisville area.  The spelling and punctuation of the original has been retained because of the flavor they provide to the story.  Contributed by Debbie Hess.

Seattle- Washington
2818-E-55-St.
7/12/42

Dear Mabel and Fred:

I enjoyed your letter very much-they alway give me that, intenet longing, to go back, to see you all-and have a long visit.  There is not any news, to speak of-Pat was quietly - married, in the little Church, around the corner.  Two brides maids-the other two were coming-one had the mumps and the other could not get away-Leonard the groom-every once in a while, before the ceremony-when I’d catch his alone-brace up my boy-your shaking all over-even your legs are buckling-cut it out-before you go to pieces-after three warnings-Pat came over and said Dad’ what are you up to - dont’do - what ever you are doing-cut it out-Leonard does not know you as we do-and he believes you.  I always introduce Bill and Dick’s wives-as my daughters-it cuts our that cold blooded-Daughter-in-law.  I guess I’ ’I’ll have to say there is my son by marriage. We all seem to be-all the time to much book work keeps me nose to the grind-stone almost night and day.  That must be expected-in time of war-Men-young men-leaving-over head-some nights-great lights searching the sky.  All around, criss-crossing.  We had, about ten days extra hot weather around 90 degrees-so unusual - I never sold so much pop and cold drinks-in so short time in life-som many ran out. I had a lot stored in the store basement.  We cannot get but a dribble of sugar to make syrup, for the fountain.  I takes from three, to four sax of sugar, a month, in the summer we use glucose and honey-and all the ready mixed syrups.

Hunting cows-with Grand dad

The cattle turned playful-after the first frost, or so the fall-and wandered along away from home-the deer flies-gathered in a patch on thir backs-then bite in until the blood would ooz out-the only way the poor cow could bush them off-was to run through the thick brush-and scrape them off.  Often it would get dark and we could not find them.  After the corn was husk and hauled to the stack-then Grand-dad turned the cows in on the farm.  One fall morning-grand-dad woke me up early- I then thought that he wanted me for company-his hearing was not so good-the cows lying down in the early morning-chewing their cuds - the faint tinkle, took a good pair of young ears to locate them.  Each heard had about tow bell cows - a leader and a follower.  We followed the old cow trail-skirted the Phillips Farm-(I gave it a long look, just for fun, but more to see if one of his pretty daughters were out milking the cows) the cow trail rain over brush - grandad had a lot of good habits of the Indian-as-he walked like one-as he hiked along the trail- he turned his head from one side to the other-always constantly on the alert-we ran across a lot of cold spoor. soon we climbed the hill leading away from Wilber creek-and headed for another old burning-where the-white clover was thick, and tender.  The morning was cold, the grass and brush, coated with frost-some fog  drifted in from the Au Sable- met as we dipped into the lowlands, again. Flocks of birds-were assembling-debating, who would be their leader in their, long flight to the South lands. once in awhile an old crow-would caw a jib to them-from his roost-in some tall tree.  The birds were in good shape for their long flight - they had over forty days on grain, and dried seeds.  There muscle were firm and fit, to resist the strong the strong cross wind and not tire easily - their feathers had that smooth gloss-that halved the resistance of the elements.  In the clover patch-we ran across more cattle spoor-it was cold - I thought it was planted there about four oclock in the morning-there was to much crust on - grandad said it was set there about-nine oclock the night before-In the distance was a clearing of a few acres near a little creek - a squatters cabin - grandad knew the so squatters-as we neared the clearing-one of his dogs barked-his wife came our and, hastly pulled all the femnine apparel off the clothes line - ”Granddad” see that “what is she doing that for. My son she dos-ent want the pesky varments of man to see her intimante clothing.  Womer at tecky on them things. The squatters’ name had a dutch twang to it.  He was a small weazened man-the years-had withered his frame-stretched his skin snugly around it, then tanned it to a walnut brown.  His wife called him Podgie - Grandad, hailed him as Podge, addressed his wife, as Babe-when he did his voice had a lingering fondness-his eyes circled her with-the same gentle strength.  They were hidden under the cover of gruffness-Come on in Eb, have a bite and sit awhile. as Babe passed by, she gave me a love pat-on my top knot.  Eb is this brat-one of your kin?  Eb nodded his head and grinned  She was a gigantis woman-well built-so well proportioned-broad back-massive hipps - one wondered-how she to those great hips-so high off the ground-going from one- she had the appearance of an auto trailer-going up the road.  Grandad dad politely declined, the invitation-to sit and have a bite the milch cows-would soon move on-restless from carrying to much milk-after we had dropped out of ear shot for the house. I was curious  about-Babe being so big-Granddad she is an awful big woman - in’t she?  How did she get so big?  My son she did not get that size in one day-it took many years to do that-and in that strong body of hers ‘beats a kind heart-and soul-that loves pure and simple things-and her huge hands-always sowing seeds of kindness. Gramp increased his stride I had to dog trot to keep up.  He skirted the hillside and followed the cow trail some distance, from Podges’ clearing.  Then we paused to listen  for the tinkle of cow bell-facing the down wind-we got our first tinkle-from the cow heard.  We gave up the trail-dropped down to the Wilber Creek-across a wild grass meadow-the frosty dew on the wild grass-turned my bare feet -blue-it was but a short time-we came across some fresh cow spoor-Grand found a warm cow pad near a low log-set down my boy and put your feet on the warm cow cake.  I sat down-drew from my coat pocket, several sandwiches-of thick slices of conpone - with lots of sow bacon, wedge intween.  Grand mother had fore-seen my wolfish hunger-which I had over looked in the excitement of going with Grandad. I offered Gramp one of the delicious-sow bacon pons - eate it yourself my son-it will stick to your ribs-it is a long treck home.  He reached in his hip pocket, drew out a long plug of Southern twist chewing tobacco-and worried off, a liberal chew with his front teeth.  I sat there-munching the delicious conpons - Grand his southern twist - I enjoyed Grandads’ company-there he sat-opposite me-on his log-chewing his tobacco-its brown juice-oozing out of the east, and west side of his countenance.  Gramp never hurried me or showed any signs, of nervousness.  But he made up for lost-time when we again hit the trail.  The cattle took a beeline for home-Shep, the old farm dog-came out to meet us near the farm gates-he jumped up and liked my face-I guess that he was sorry that, he had stayed at home-or it may have been, the delicious conpon - Grandmother has a hot meal waiting up. Grandmother was such a thoughtful generous soul, of Irish extraction.  Often her brother Ed, and I were tired and sleeply - she would turn her head aside-long enough to give ups time to crawl into bed without washing our feet.

                                                                                                                                  Write Soon
                                                                                                                                        Sincerely
                                                                                                                                              and
                                                                                                                                         Affectionalty
                                                                                                                                             Your
                                                                                                                                              Bro
                                                                                                                                              Joe

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