Monday, July 30, 2012

way west, continued


It was a hard trip for the older people, but the young folks seemed to enjoy every bit of it. In the evening when the day was done, and the cattle had all been corralled and supper was over, the young men would bring out their violins and banjos and make music and they would sing  songs, some of which I still hear on the radio.  And they would dance by the light of the moon and the campfires.  They courted and made love to the girls. My Aunt Mollie was 16 at the time.  Two years later she married the captain’s son.
It was growing late in the summer.  Everyone was getting short of temper.  The oxen were slow and plodding.  They were growing weary, and needed constant urging with the bull whip.  The men swore long and loud.  They forgot all about being gentlemen and that there were ladies present.  They called a spade a spade if you know what I mean.  Fuel for the fires became scarce.  Fall was in the air and the long train that had stayed together through thick and thin began breaking up and going in different directions.
My folks were headed for the Oregon valley and they began taking short cuts. At one place they loaded their wagons and oxen on railroad flatcars and went through country so rugged there were no wagon trails.  They went over steep mountains and deep canyons and my poor mother was terrified.  They finally reached Walla Walla. There, Father sold his oxen and bought horses and went down the Columbia River on a steamboat and camped near Portland.  To them the valley was Paradise.  As they drove south to Corvallis they passed farmers with loads of fruit and at night when they camped the farmers would come to visit them and bring them fruit and potatoes and other produce and not charge them a cent. How good everything tasted after bacon and pancakes for so long.