From The Past

Tillie & Frank

Tillie was a cook in a hotel in Minneapolis when she was a young woman. That was where she learned to make Indian cookies, but that's another story. When she moved to Wheaton, she was cooking at a hotel there. Frank's first wife (Clifford and Roxie's mother) died and he moved to Wheaton. He had a dray business there, and came in to the hotel to eat. That's how they met. Tillie was fairly famous for her pastries, and Mom says whenever there was a gathering at the church the pastor would ask the ladies to volunteer to bring food, but then he would say, "Tillie, you bring pies." Tillie learned to read and write when her kids started to school. She also "called" all the square dances in town. Mom tells the story of a wealthy farm woman who hired Frank's dray to deliver a spool of thread, because she couldn't get into town. He laughed about that for years. (Not part of a story, but did you know Tillie and her sisters were all six feet tall? Big Viking girls.

As told By Karla Ault Smith

Tom & Lena

Tom and Lena both grew up in Hussem, a town in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. But they didn't know each other. They met and married here. That part of Germany has historically changed hands between Denmark, Germany, and in the early-mid part of the 1800s, became part of Prussia. All Prussian men were required to be in the army at age 18, and that was part of the reason the family came here. Tom was a teenager, and his father had served in the Danish army. He didn't want to be in the Prussian army. Mom said even when they were old, Lena would have liked to go back home for a visit, but Tom always said he would be shot as a deserter and wouldn't go back. Uncle John told me the story of the voyage over- Tom got seasick as soon as he couldn't see land. It was a 21 day voyage, and he stayed sick till some one told him land was in sight again. He also said he was a stow-away, but the whole family came together. I read one account of a similar voyage, and there is apparently little difference in the German language between "stowage" and "steerage". So my guess is they were in the bottom of the boat. (They never did speak English, and that's why my mom and your dad grew up bilingual- English and German. Mom doesn't remember much, but sometimes she remembers a phrase or two.) Lena came as a servant to a wealthy family. A sort of nanny for their kids. Mom said Lena had two brothers, maybe in N.Dakota. One was a witness at Tom and Lena's wedding, and he is the man in the Golden anniversary picture. (The woman was one of Tom's sisters, the other witness at their wedding,) I haven't had any luck locating Hoefer's or Hoeffer's (Mom's pretty sure it was 1 f) Let me know if you have any other information there. Her parents were Martin and Gretchen.  I keep thinking I should write down all the stories Uncle John and Mom have told me. You probably have some too, from your Dad. Maybe this is a good place to post them for anyone interested..... Karla

As told by Karla Ault Smith

Racing the new car

Another fun story about Mom and our grandfather. (some of you may remember him, but of course, not me.) He bought a new model A and Mom took it for a ride to town. She was about 15 at the time. One of the boys from school was driving his dad's new Willy's Knight (not sure what this is.) He was bragging that his new car was better than Mom's and the argument resulted in a race. The news reached the farm before Mom did and when she got home, her dad called her into the barn. He asked her if she had been racing the new car. "Yes, Daddy." He fussed at her for a while, really chewed her out. When she was sufficiently chastised, he said, " Just one more question.... Did you win?" Mom said, "I sure did." He smiled at her and said, "Good. Now don't do it again."

As told by Karla Ault Smith

My 1953 Rambler

After my first car was done I got a 1953 Nash Rambler Country Club 2 door hardtop with a continental kit. I had just met my lifetime sweetheart and was able to go meet her and her family at the bowling alley as a sort of first date. The car was brand new and I did not know much about it, as I only had it a day or two, and I had a flat tire on the way there and could not find the jack at first and then could figure how to use it so I finally made it but was late. We did some visiting and I met her parents as we did some bowling. I could not bowl so that was a disaster but that was the least of my worries for the evening as I was with the most beautiful girl the good lord ever put on earth so that did not matter much. I finally got up the courage to ask for permission to take her out to show her my new car. Well it was new to me as it was 1959 and the car was 1953 and 6 years old already. Anyhow we seen the car and set in it to visit some and as time progressed my love was checking radio, windows, and handles and stuff and while looking to move the seat she pulled a handle and the seat reclined clear to the back seat. I did not know that did that and was I ever embarrassed. Many of the Nash products were set up for the hunting/camping people and even came with a mattress you could put in for camping when the seats were reclined. We were both very embarrassed, because that is how it should be and how it was in the old days, but we got over it eventually and have been together happily married for 48 years when this was written.

As remembered by Lewis L Orcutt

Grandma's shirt

Here is a story I was told but can't remember who told it. I think it was mom. When I was very young and we were either on the Murphy farm or Andy Ahrens all the neighbors would get together for harvest season and the men would work gathering in the crops and the women would all be there getting the food ready for the noon meal. Grandma Orcutt, Tillie, was very good at this and she could put a meal together from nothing in very short order. One day when the harvesters were at our house and the noon meal came around grandma required all the men to stop at the well pump on the way to the house to clean off all the dust from the threshing and to put on a shirt before coming in for the meal. They all took turns running the pump and cleaning up and then came in for the meal. Grandma always had a shirt or two by the door for those that forgot theirs out at the wagon. One of the fellows came in with no shirt and grandma asked him to please wear one hanging by the door. He refused and would not leave like she asked him so, being the women she was she grabbed him by the ear and the back of the pants and marched him outside and said he wasn't welcome at her table. I'm not sure if he got fed that day but he didn't get back inside without the shirt.

As remembered by Lewis L Orcutt

Another 1953 Rambler story

This one occurred about  1963 or 1964 while we were still in burns Oregon. Times were tough and our car was a problem and we got another 1953 Rambler 2 door hardtop country club to use till I could the other one going again. We did not have much money and Tammy needed milk and stuff and I was working 3 jobs just to try and make ends meet. We decided Carol would go back with my folks for awhile to make things get caught up and that was okay but after a month we decided we were ahead far enough and I would go back to Iowa to get her. All we had was the 1953 Rambler so that was the car we would use. I drove straight through to Iowa from Oregon and got almost 28 miles to the gallon. Unbelievable! A wire for the overdrive came loose on the way but I finally got that figured out and I pulled in there on Sunday afternoon and I only left Oregon on Friday night after work at 4PM. What a trip and was I tired. We were back together and life was good. We used that as a vacation and family time and the folks gave us some stuff and dad and I fabricated a hitch for the Rambler and we loaded the stuff in the Rambler hooked up the trailer dad gave us and headed back to Oregon. We did not have the money for a motel as they were $2.00 or $3.00 a night so we just drove late and slept in the car. Real late one night we were very tired out in the middle of Wyoming and pulled off on this side area of the road and went to sleep. Some where towards morning we were awakened with this real loud noise and when we opened our eyes there was a huge white light headed straight at us. I was frozen and could not act and could not figure what to do. Turns out it was a train and we were parked parallel to the tracks and about 4 feet from them and had the biggest surprise and scare of our life. We moved the car to a different area and went back to sleep. Farther on in the trip and almost home we were in eastern Oregon and going over stinking water pass and the car was over heating bad and it was very late and one of those pitch black nights so we pulled off to the side of the road on a small pullout area and bedded down for the night as I could not see enough to check the problem. When morning came we were freezing cold and there was about 6 inches of snow on the ground and more coming down. I found the water pump linkage was broken so the pump would not work so I got some parts off of Tammy's high chair and a piece of garden hose in the trailer and made a repair and we got on the road again before the snow got deep enough to stop us till the plows came. We finally arrived in Burns and the Rambler got only 26 miles per gallon pulling the trailer and we found a nice but small house to rent and life was back to normal. The Rambler took us on many wonderful outings while it lasted.

As remembered by Lewis L Orcutt

The Dam

This tale starts as many others on a warm summer day with not much to do and to much time to do it. Uncle Carl & Aunt Ella came to visit and there were Bob, Dick, Dolly, & Irene who was just a Baby around 1951. We lived at Dunbar Iowa and had finished all the pine cone fights from the pine tree forts we made, rotten egg fights from the old nests we found, superman flights from the hay loft into the hay with moms dish towels as capes, pushed all the corn down in the corn crib where we weren't suppose to be, hid all of Dolly's dolls so she couldn't find them, had the water fights and got muddy, and there just wasn't any thing to do. Life was just boring. We ended up down by the creek across the road but there wasn't enough water to swim or make a real mess so we started a dam and as the process continued it got deep enough to swim and have a good time. Unknown to us the creek ran through the neighbors farm past the barn and was used to water his cows. As the day wore on and the evening chores started the neighbor came to talk to dad about the water as his cows were coming in from the pasture to be milked and they had no water. Dad & Uncle Carl came down to the creek and tanned our little butts and made us tear down the dam. What a boring life. As I remember it the tanning didn't hurt much and both parents had this want to be angry sheepish twinkle in the eyes and why is it that these things always happened when cousins Bob & Dick & Dolly were there and how did our parents manage through all this.

As remembered by Lewis L. Orcutt

The Vacation

It all started with a vacation trip to Iowa from California to visit family and friends. We left San Bernardino California and stopped up at the top of a mountain pass to have some lunch and let the kids run off some steam. I forgot the movie camera on the roof of the car trying to get everyone back in and going and that was the end of it. Later on that day we stopped for some lunch and on getting back on the road my wife left her purse on the car roof while getting in and we lost that and had to call and cancel all credit cards and things. Can this get any worse. The next day we stopped for trek in the desert and when we left we did not notice till we were 40 miles down the road we had left the dogs back where we stopped. A hurried trip back found a car just captured the small one and the other was running across the desert. After some calling they both got away and came running to us. Later on in the trip we stopped to get some Ice Cream and Tammy left one of the windows part way down and after another 30 miles or so we missed the cat so another trip back had us trying to coax it out from under a building. That night we then got bedded down with Carol & I in the tent and Tammy and grandma in the station wagon. About 2 in the morning I was awakened with Carol saying something huge was leaning or laying on her side of the tent and, she thought it was a bear, so struggling for a flashlight I stumbled out to find the wind picked up a huge tumble weed and was blowing it against the tent. On the last night of the trip we were driving late through Missouri to get home before any more mishaps could occur and it appeared like there was a forest fire or something as it was getting very smoky and hard to see. It was a cool evening and we had all the windows up and after several miles it was very thick so I rolled my window down to see better only to discover it was clear as a bell out and right then by my feet the floorboard burst into flames, Carol panicked, I was almost stopped and off the road and she opened the door and jumped out. At that point all I could hear and feel was thump thump with a bump bump. All we could think was we ran over her and in another 30 feet got stopped and jumped out to see what happened and saw the stuff from her side of the station wagon, blankets, pillows, chip bags, snacks and all scattered that 30 feet with her at the end and all okay. The bumps etc was the blankets and all. There were other small incidents along the way but this was the trip from #%k)*!?!!!

As remembered by Lewis L. Orcutt

Grandpa's Chickens

When I was young and times were different and many things came from the garden and things you raised in the garden, you traded items and services with friends and neighbors to get by. Grandpa raised chickens, ducks and garden things for this purpose. Neighbors would come from all around to get his chickens etc. I remember helping mixing the food for the ducks and chickens and helping with the egg gathering and the wooden eggs in the nest to help the chickens lay more. But most of all I remember the neighbors coming for the chickens for eating. Grandpa had them in a fenced in yard and the people would come and chase them around a little but couldn't catch them and grandpa would tell them that's enough as that was to hard on the chickens and they lost weight. Others would come with a rifle and grandpa would tell them that was to costly. At this point he would just lead them to the fence and tell them to pick out the chicken they wanted. After they picked out the one they liked grandpa would pick a short stick about 2 feet long, that he fashioned from an old broken hoe handle, and walk around the fence a little and throw the stick at the chicken of choice. With the whole flock in the yard milling around  I never seen him miss the back of the head of the chicken of their choice. For a small amount more he would clean and dress them also.

As remembered by Lewis L Orcutt

My wading boots

When we lived on the Ahrens farm in Minnesota we had a bad flood around 1947-48. At any rate dad and grandpa had to use a rowboat to get to the hay stack to feed the cattle and to get to the barn to milk. I wanted a pair of boots to go out in the water and play. My brother and I decided to try and make some from some old inner tubes dad had. We asked Grandma and mom for thread etc to put them together but they always leaked. Grandma finally got some stuff together and helped us knowing that it wouldn't work but she never discouraged the idea. After several try's and her showing us some different sewing techniques we got them to be almost water proof. She always gave us this support and some of the fond memories I have are of her in her apron and the smells of her cooking and canning.

As remembered by Lewis L Orcutt

Bored In Denver

I thought I'd let you all know that the airlines have now tagged me as a potential terrorist. You'd think they would have noticed that I average about a flight a week, and would eventually get used to me being there. (I'm the short gray-haired lady who spends half my life standing in lines at airports.) Some of the security people in Austin recognize me now. They chat with me while I'm standing in their lines. But the computers don't recognize me. Some of the things that spur the computers to flag your ticket are 1) flying alone and 2) one way trips. I suppose there are other triggers, but they probably don't apply to me. Lately, I'm doing a bunch of loopy trips- home to Denver to Dallas then home, home to Denver to San Antonio then home. The airlines (or their computers anyway) see these as a bunch of one way tickets. VERY SUSPICIOUS! I've had so many wands waved over me I expect to turn into a frog one of these days. I've been unpacked, repacked, x-rayed, patted down, checked with those little chemical detectors, and stared at by dogs and by boys with guns. Then I get to do it all again at the gate. I've had to remove coats, jackets, shoes, and watches. It has taken me as much as 2.5 hours to get through these procedures. You'll be happy to know that I have maintained my sense of humor. In a way, it's flattering to think I somehow look like a threat. I must remind someone of Wonder Woman. This could change my whole image of myself. I could start to feel like Wonder Woman. Real terrorists better hope they aren't sitting next to ME! I'll kick their butts... In reality the luggage conveyor belt outruns me. I'm exhausted by the time I get my suitcase out of the trunk of my car. I choose my airlines based on how much room there is "under the seat in front of you" - when you're 5'2" the overhead bin really is over your head and getting a briefcase up there (or down from there) is like an Olympic event. I scored a 7 on Armrest climbing- a bad landing I don't want to talk about. It is comforting to you all, I'm sure, to know that you are being so well protected. There is apparently a whole new category of terrorist to worry about. Short, fat, gray-haired ladies hanging out at airports. None of THEM are going to get past all the security measures. Oh well, maybe someday things will get back to normal. Does anyone remember what normal used to be?   

Really bored in Denver. (Karla)

Karla's Story And she' sticking to it

The Pregnancy

Many years ago, a few months before our first wedding anniversary or maybe the month before, Carol and I were window shopping in Burns Oregon. Window shopping was all we could afford in 1963 with a new baby on the way. This was in the olden days before ultra sound and cell phones when you used the needle over the wrist thing to determine the sex of the child. Needless to say we didn't know the sex of our child and didn't care as long it was healthy. Burns was and old cowboy town, older than the needle thing, and very much not of the 1962 modern world we left when we got married and set out on our life together. It did have a gas station with the gas pump right in the side walk, one stop light, it's last main street gun fight in 1956, mostly your house doors didn't lock but no one cared and the industry for the area was ranching and logging. As we walked and looked in the windows of the stores there, we held hands or gave each other a peck on the cheek or put our arm around each other as we stopped and talked about all our dreams. After a short time we noticed these two old ladies, maybe 40, watching us and muttering about one thing or another so we decided to listen and see what the problem was. In short order we heard small comments from one of them like, how disgraceful holding hands like that, or well I never when we kissed, or there ought to a law forbidding that. After a short while we came to a small jewelry store and stopped to look at the rings and such and there could be no mistaking that Carol was pregnant because she was taller laying down than standing up and carried everything out front. Shortly the two ladies came within ear shot and I gave Carol a real kiss on the lips not just a peck on the cheek and commented rather loudly, Honey we should probably think about getting married pretty soon as the baby is about due. The commotion was hilarious and the lady that had not been talking much commented to the other lady, aren't you ashamed of your self, couldn't you see the rings she was wearing.

The Devil made me do it.

Spare Tire

Two years into our marriage and first assignment our $75.00 1953 Ford that brought us to Oregon died on us and we got a 1957 Plymouth Belvedere. At the end of another the engine went out in it and I had to rebuild it but that is another story. Back on the road we noticed the tires were getting really bald and it never did have a spare. We babied it along and caught rides whenever we could to make them last. We stayed off the logging roads and just drove on pavement. After about 6 months with some trips to Portland and Vancouver and the base in Idaho we could see the tires were really getting bad but we had no money for new ones or even a spare. I finally found a rim in the junk yard for $2.00 and was able to get an old used tire from the shell station for $3.00 and Walla we had a spare. I finally got it on the rim and aired up and then put it in the trunk. The next morning on my way to work about half way up the mountain to the radar site both back tires went flat and there I was with a $5.00 spare that did me no good whatsoever. And so begins the Orcutt Luck. 

As remembered by Lewis L Orcutt



Oh Bother