Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Great Aunt Bessie

Bullet from Revolver Ends life of Bessie West.Was member of Well Known Pioneer Family

Seldom have the people of Palouse been so saddened as they were Sunday afternoon when the news made its way from home to home that Bessie West, the 18-year old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George. E. West, pioneers of the Eden Valley district, was dead from a bullet wound, inflicted by a gun in her own hands. At first those who knew the girl best could not believe the sad story. Death occurred about 15 minutes after the shot was fired, the girl being unable to utter a word after the bullet had pierced her heart.
Bessie, who was a member of the freshman class in the Palouse high school, and president of the class, was living in the home of Mrs. Ada Oderlin and attending school.  There were several others rooming at the house, including Misses Teeple and Dunn, teachers in the Palouse school, and Dr. J. H. Bailey.  Sunday afternoon, about 2:45 Bessie went upstairs, and within a few minutes after the sound of a gunshot and of the falling body was heard.  She had gone into the room occupied by Miss Teeple and had secured a loaded revolver, which happened to be in a bureau drawer.  Miss Dunn, who was in the adjoining room, heard the noise, but did not know what it was.  She went to the door and saw the girl lying on the floor and believing she had fainted, hurried down stairs and called to the other in the house. There was no blood in evidence and at first Mrs. Oderlin, Dr. Bailey and Miss Steeple, who had hurried to her thought she had fallen in a faint and endeavored to revive her.  She was laid on a bed and the bullet wound was noticed by Mrs. Oderline, who had unloosened her clothing. Dr. E.K. Wolfe was called and arrived just before she drew her last breath.  The gun was found on a table in the room, near where she had fallen, and probably dropped from her hand as she fell.
While it was thought at first that the shooting was accidental, the finding of a note in the girl’s room a short time after the tragedy, led to the belief that the girl may have, in a fit of despondency, fired the gun intentionally. The note was brief and left no clue to the reason if the shooting was intentional.  It merely stated: “There is no comfort in sticking around here.” Bernice West, the oldest brother, who lives in town, was notified at once and the parents were called by telephone.
The parents, who are broken-hearted over the death of their only daughter, and the closest friends of the girl, are at a total loss to know of any reason why she should wish to die. Her life has in every way been a most exemplary one.  She wanted for nothing and her home life and her life in town and in school, seemed to lack nothing.  She had attended church Sunday morning and about noon had called her mother up over the telephone and talked with her for some time.  To those in the house she seemed to be as cheerful and happy as ever.  There can be no other explanation if the shooting was not accidental, that that she had become, for a moment, mentally irresponsible.
Bessie West was born at the farm home northwest of Palouse.  She attended the district school until she had completed the eighth grad and then came to Palouse to take her high school work.  Her home environment was of the best and she had always lived up to the home life. Being the only daughter and youngest child, she was the idol of her parents and of her three brothers, and her life seemed in every respect a happy one.

The funeral was held Tuesday afternoon from the Baptist church, the service being conducted by the Rev. C. R. Delephine, pastor of the church.  The high esteem in which the dead girl and the members of the family are held was evidenced by the crowd which packed the church, scores of neighbors driving over the almost impassable roads to attend the service. Practically all of the member s of the high school were in attendance.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Random Memories of Grandmother Anna Simon
My maternal grandmother was an integral part of our lives when we were young.  One of our favorite places was at Grandmother Ann’s. She, like us, lived on the edge of town and her house was the last one on the hill next to a big field of alfalfa. I remember playing in the field, running like the wind.  I could see our house across the football field and beyond from that vantage point and it seemed like the edge of the world.
There was a tire swing in the back yard of my grandparent’s house near the barn. What child doesn’t love a swing?  I loved to watch my grandmother hang laundry as I sat on that swing.  I can still picture her among the clean, wet garments as she patiently attached them one by one to the lines with the wooden clothespins. She had one of those hanging bags where she kept her clothespins. There is nothing like smelling so fresh when dry. In the winter she had an inside clothesline on a pulley that stretched from the living room into the kitchen. Grandma had a wringer washer in the bathroom of her house.  It was fascinating to watch the clothes as they churned and churned in the washer tub.  The highlight was when she put them through the wringer. She was always warning us not to keep our fingers back and not to put anything else through.  I took her at her word, as I imagined that a crushed finger would be quite painful. There was a big bathtub with clawed feet in that bathroom.   I loved to take baths there, except for Grandmother would through a handful of Tide laundry soap into the water, which would make the tub really slippery and it was a bit irritating to the skin. I guess she wanted to make sure we were clean.
Another place we kids liked to play was near the town water tank which was across the way near Grandmother’s house. It was a big round brick building surrounded by trees, long grasses, and thorny bushes and very mysterious to explore. We never figured out how to get inside it but were satisfied to play near it.  For some reason there was a feeling that we weren’t supposed to be there, although I don’t think any of the adults told us we couldn’t. There was a vegetable garden beside the house, and I also remember her beautiful irises, her snowball bush, and her lilacs. Ahh yes, those hot summer afternoons were the best!
            Grandma’s rocking chair was a beautiful wooden chair.  She would rock me to sleep on occasion and I loved it.  I thought about her when I rocked my own grandson to sleep.  I felt like she was with me. She loved to watch Gunsmoke.  She napped every afternoon and at some point she walked to her neighbor’s to get the newspaper. Her cellar was full of preserves and jams, as she loved to garden. I used to help her snap peas.
            Grandma Simon crocheted.  She made tablecloths and so many doilies.  I was so amazed at how quickly these were created and how many patterns she knew. She tried to teach me once, when I was a girl, but I just didn’t get the hang of it.  I didn’t inherit the knack for handcrafts.  She used to make special doilies for the back of Grandpa’s easy chair so that he would leave oily marks from his head.  She also put them on the arms of the easy chair and the sofa. I have some of my grandmother’s doilies, which my mother has given me.  I treasure them.

            Grandma wore an apron every day, a bib apron with big pockets.  She had a special dress up apron that she wore when she went places, which wasn’t often. I remember so many times, too, when she kept a handkerchief  in the pocket of her apron.  At the slightest hint of a sniffle out came the hanky.   Now I am thinking that may have not been that sanitary, as she sometimes had several of us grandkids around at one time.  We survived, so it must not have hurt us. 

the water tower: