My Life As I Remember
The First Fifteen Years And Ten Months
This is the life story as Juanita Atwood Chaffin wrote in her book. She did not complete it.
April 29, 1981
I was the fifth daughter of the family of ten children. Born to Martin Camp Atwood and Matilda May Smuin Atwood.
So at least papa had three sons with his seven daughters. But I really never noticed that he was any more parchailed (partial) to his sons in any way. I suppose people called us gypsey's or vagabonds. For we moved from place to place. We never completed one school term in the same school till I was 14 years old. Now for my memories as I remember.
I was about 3 years old when we moved from Vernal, Utah to Idaho some where. Mom's youngest brother, uncle Will was with us. When we came to Green River. It had to be forded, so papa put Mom, Ike (Martin Ivan), and I in the trolley car that was on cables. Uncle Will was going to row a boat across with Bessie, Orabell, Lizzie, Opal and himself, while papa took the wagon. We always traveled in a covered wagon. Well guess what. I screamed and cried for it frightened me to be so high avove the water. So pa put me in the boat and Opal up with mom and Ike. Uncle Will told me if I cried he'd throw me out. Well I never cried but I was scared of water and high places most of my life and I never did like Uncle Will as long as he lived. We must of moved to Wood Valley, Idaho. For I remember us setting on a dirt celler for most of one afternoon and when we were allowed in the house we had a baby sister Norma, that everyone was pleased with.
Papa hunted coyotes with large hounds and we lived in Arco, Idaho. I probabley was passed 5 for Ike was 3 years old. Us kids had puppies as pets, but not large hounds. We had a small female dog that had pups and one day she jumped out of her box and tried to climb the wall with foam running from her mouth. Mom took the broom and got her outside and some little boy was walking along the road and the dog chased him. Mom had a terrible time keeping the dog from getting to the boy and bitting him. Any way she managed then I guess papa killed her and the pups for she was rabied. Our dogs ate animals that died and pa brought home to them as he found them dead. So he got some animals that had died of the rabies. Again back to my story. A couple days after the small female dog had the rabies, Orabell went to the store and we had a huge black hound and when she came back he almost got her, for he had rabies and it seemed to hit them all at once and they just went crazy, trying to bite everyone. If Uncle Charles another one of mom's brothers hadn't been there the hound would probably killed Orabell, for I think he shot him. Then a few nites later us kids was playing out in the yard and our pup started after us, we ran up a trail and around it or wagon, screaming and papa ran out and grabbed the pup by the hind feet and hit it's head on the ground so it was gone. But no kids had gotten bit. Then I think we had one grey hound and one blue hound left, which must of been penned up. For no dogs were loose in Arco anywhere for most of them had rabies. Then our brother Ike got sick. He would play with the dogs and carry bones in his mouth before we knew they were sick. Mom had tried hard to make him understand he wasn't a dog and leave the bones alone. But he was just a baby too and wouldn't think it wasn't suppose to be done. Well he had the rabies. We could sit on the bed till he started to have an attack then all left the room except mom and papa. They'd put a piece of stick in his mouth and hold him down for if they didn't catch him in time they couldn't unclinch his hands. He'd pull his hair out and if he got the iron head of bed he'd bend it. The Dr. dame every day. He almost died and Ike was sick for 3 weeks or more. I don't know what the Dr. did for him. But after he got better he had to learn to walk all over again. Such a frail little guy he was, of course we all spoiled him worse then before which was bad enough. We were all thankful he lived. He has a speach problem. Stutters quite bad. I've often wondered if that wasn't caused from his serious illness, and talking of being spoiled, according to all my sisters I was the one that was really spoiled. But most of my young years, I remember terrible pains I had in my stomach and mom tying usually a diaper tight around me to ease the pain. They took me to the Dr. but I don't remeber what he did or what I had. I remember taking Vermifugh (Vermifuge - an anti-parasitic) by the bottles but don't no what it was for. I started school at Arco, Idaho and of course we were the new kids and was picked on and made fun of. We couldn't even get home after school without kids cleaning our clocks. Till one nite our sister Orabell came to meet us and she was quite a fighter. Did she ever clean a couple of kids good and proper and they were boy's too, so that we were left alone. Pretty well.
Then we moved to Mud Lake, Idaho. What a place that was, sage brush and sand hills. Papa hauled wood from around the lava rocks somewhere and sold the wood. Then we all worked sugar beets and potatoes. Sugar beets I didn't mind, spuds I hated. Bessie and Opal was cooking for us. Mom, papa and all us kids that could lift a beet or spud worked. Well I got tired and mom let me go home early and I think Bessie had made cookies or something and I took one and Opal took it away from me so I bit her. Then they said I'd really get a whipping when papa came in for dinner. So I hid under an over turned beet box. They all hunted and called me. But I was too scared to move till papa said I must of fell in an old cement sistern. It had about 10 feet of water so he was going to dive in, well I knew he couldn't get out. So I crawled out and said I'd been asleep. Anyway I didn't get a whipping. But I never hid again either.
The summer of 1929 Uncle John Atwood, his daughter, and couple of his sons came up from Alberta Canada, and a half brother of papa's. This half brother had lice but no one got lice. But Uncle Johnnies kids had seven year itch and we all got it and I think it lasted almost 7 years, 2 or 3 anyway. Well papa always was looking for the gold at the rainbow's end. Don't no how mom ever stood moving so much but she did. And Uncle Johnnie talked us into going to Canada. I was in grade 3 that year. So to Etna we went. Which is just outside of Cardston and we went by wagon so got there for school, new kids again. With our itch and sores and ragged clothes and from the states, well you'd have to go to school in Canada to no what I mean. We had to say AA for A and Z'd for Z and thy for the which. I never did so every morning regular I stood before the class and said my ABC's and each morning I said them U.S.A way and read from their books U.S.A way. They put me back in the 2nd grade which didn't bother me in the least. I wasn't a Canadian and I figured I was just as good as any of them. The Royal Mounties really fasicated (fascinated) me with their bright red tops and blue pants with the red strips and they were quite nice too. Then the middle of the school year we moved to Raymond about a 100 miles or so from Etna. Bessie stayed as she was working. The next school wasn't so bad for we had a lot of cousins in it and wasn't picked on so bad. I really liked Uncle Nephi and Aunt Jessie and their upteen kids, I liked Uncle Johnnie and Aunt Aggie and their bunch of kids, only I never cared much for Uncle Johnnie on Sundays. We could play cards on any day of the week but Sunday. He ranted and raved. I went home, I told papa and asked how come. Papa said he was sort of a hypricroties (hypocrite). The mormons really didn't believe in playing cards and Uncle Johnnie only forbid it on Sunday. I thought and still do that was silly. We had cow's to milk, seemed like most of the time we had cows. Anyway it was mine or Opal's or Ike's job to get the cows in to milk, usualley mine and Ikes for we cold ride horses and Opal didn't like to. Well mom was especting again in the family way is what I heard all my life. I didn't get no what pregnent meant when I was married. So our sister Orabell took over the running of the house, papa was herding sheep and only came home every couple of nites. Well I guess you no if we couldn't find the cows on time Orabell would clean our clock like she thought she should, even Lizzie's, haven't mentioned her much yet. But she was there a timid girl afraid of both Orabell and Opal but did her share of work along with every one else. We had a big old pot bellied iron heater and it was red hot and Norma came flying in and fell and hit her arm on the stove and she culled the skin down from her elbow to her wrist. Mom put the skin back as good as she could and put ornint (ointment) on her arm and bandaged it. But I'll never forget the burn she had but she doesn't even have a scar. Papa got Ike his first pony and it was for me too, but I hated it. It was corral balky and wouldn't leave the corral. But we rode it any way. Then mom (May 1930) went to Raymond to my Aunts and Uncle Charlie Atwood's place. She was gone for about 11 or 12 days and the twins were born there. Doris and Darrel and some lady offered mom $1,000 for Doris but mom said absolutley not. This lady thought since mom had so many kids she'd sell her one, really made my mother disgusted and angry too. They were born the 14 of May 1930. Bessie married Ralph Woodward May 15, 1930 and she never knew the twins were borned when she got married. Uncle Charl mom's brother was with us, for he and papa hunted coyotes in Canada too. With the two hounds that lived from the rabie deal. I always liked Uncle Charl. He was always good to me when I was little. He called me Pee Wee and when he went fishing in a lake some place in our journies he'd take me but would he ever give me H-- if I got excited or made a noise when I caught one. Scare them away PeeWee he'd say, so shut up, but he done it in a nice way. So I'd try to be quiet which was awful hard for me to do.
The twins was 3 weeks old, when up we went our covered wagon for mom and the babes. And we were on our way back to Montana this time, was I ever glad I'd had all of Canada I wanted for the rest of my life. Ralph had a wagon and team and they came with us. We crossed the line after dark as Ralph was a canadian and wasn't supposed to come to the U.S. So we crossed the line somewhere by Cut Bank and came through the Indian burial grounds for it was day lite and by then we saw bodies in the tops of trees and we had to get out of there before someone saw us. It was real spooky to. Then I remember rolling hills and when we got to the top I was afraid to ride in the wagan down them, So out I'd get and Opal had to go with me and we'd have to walk down all these hills. No wonder she could of done away with me. Probably was sacred to walk by my self. Then in that journey we came to a river. I believe it was the Milk River anyway it was deep, and papa put me on a saddle pony Ike on one and Ralph rode one. Well old fraidy cat me would have drown if Ralph hadn't of keep my pony moving for when it hit deep water and started to swim I just hung on and did nothing papa was sure mad at me. But mom was just as mad at him for putting me on the horse when I was scared of deep water. But we all made it even the twins.
Opal slept with mom in the wagon with one of them (twins) and the rest of us slept out side, and we didn't have sleeping bags. They probably weren't invented at this time we had ticks of straw blankets and tarp to keep us dry. One day on this journey we stopped and Opal an I crawled through a fence and into the sage brush to go to pottie. Then we came back running down hill and Opal could really run. She got to the fence and cut hugh cuts in both legs above the knees which she has large scares yet. Mom dr. them to and they healed, I though she'd cut both legs off.
We finally came to the Blackfoot Valley and papa camped in one of Aloise Lensing fields by a small creek and some shade It was haying time there and papa went to hay there I believe he helped hay around the Helemville area. Orabel went to work cooking for Alois and his haying crew. He had lots of canned stuff and milk and eggs and butter and she brought home different things Opal helped her at the cooking so she made 2 or 3 trips. Al and Orabell was married the 11th of Aug 1930. Guess he liked her cooking or didn't want to have her caught stealing from him. For he told her he knew she took things back to the bunch of us.
Dave Matti had a ranch there and his place wasn't very far from where we were camped So each night Ike and I took a pail and went over at milking time and he gave us milk. He had a crazy brother and sister. His brothers name was mike and I was really scared of him. So I always waited for Dave to come to the barn. He was weired but he never went to Warm Springs (a place for the insane people at that time) and his sister went and finally died there and Mike was in and out of Warm Springs often and the last I knew of him he was at Galen with a bunch of men from Warm Springs.
After haying season was over we moved to a place called New Chicago. It was a rail road station I guess between Drummond and Hall Montana and it had a school and a church. Us kids went to church there and I was baptised in what I think was called Little Lost River. It was sure cold and they had to dunk me twice as the 1st time my big toe came up I was so scared I could of really told them off only I wasn't suppose to Opal went with us. Then we moved to Hall in the middle of the school year. And we drove this corral balky pony to a buggy about 4 or 5 miles to school I was 9 yrs old Opal 11 1/2 and Ike 7 We had better horses but I guess none as safe, for I and Ike rode horses all our lives Opal didn't like to ride maybe thats why we went in the buggy. One day at school and the first bell rung and I headed for the outside john as fast as i could and some boy was coming as fast as he could run and we meet at the cornor of the building head on My eye swelled shut and I had a hugh lump for days over my left eye still have a small knot there I never went to school for about a week. Didn't go to a Dr. either.
The twins were fair sized babies by this time and had to be spoon fed their meals. Lizzie was suppose to feed one and mom the other one. One meal Lizzie wanted to finish her story so mom told Opal to feed the baby and it made Opal mad and she almost chocked the one she was feeding Mom kept telling her not to fed the baby so fast but she didn't pay any attention After the baby chocked papa used the razor strap on her and she never shed one tear she was to stubron and ornery to cry and it was the last whipping he ever gave her. But Lizzie fed the baby at meal times after that Opal slept with one at nite is why Lizzie was suppose to fed it at meal times. All of us had chores and work we had to do. Mine and Ikes was getting the cows and horses in and cutting wood and bringing it in at night. Seems like that is all I did was cut and carry wood One day in school some kid was picking on Ike becasue he couldn't say what he was trying to. Our teacher was Mrs. Burrnett and I really liked her. But when this kid was nasty to Ike I just slid him out of his seat on the floor. Well guess you no our teacher seen me and pinned a big sign on my back that I had to wear the rest of the day saying I was not supposed to knock children out of their seats. But I never cared really. I guess all of us girls was to protective of Ike and his speech. But he never liked kids and he could really fight too.
Papa had an old model T and Ralph and Bessie was in Idaho. Where Duane was born in April 1931 had a terrible time bringing Duane into this old world. They both almost died. The nurse put Duane on a hot water bottle a pillow 2 or 3 days before he cried and she burnt the whole right side of his butt and that is why he has such a terrible time today.
They came back where we were. Orabell had Patsy in 1931 and we saw her a few times. Anyway Uncle Charles came up and wanted us to go to Idaho again (Mud Lake) so Papa sold the horses and bought another old Model A. Lizzie was 14 and he put her in this car and they drove around the corral a few times and he loaded our junk in the cars and she drove it to Mud Lake. But Papa wouldn't let anyone ride with her and she was supposed to follow him and Uncle Charles followed her. Anyway there was a detour sign she never saw and almost went into the river don't know just what river it was about scared us all to death. But we made it there all in one piece and in cars this time.
I about forgot we raised bum lambs too everywhere we went fed them on the bottle and sold the neutered males each fall. Guess we got rid of all our stocks when we went to Idaho by car Papa got a job on a ranch from a man named Frankie Reno. He got Ike a real nice little grey mare (pony)and broke her to ride. We both liked Piegon that is what Ike named her. Lizzie had a horse named Blue Bell that jumped sideways at anything and there was tumbleweeds everyplace and sandhills and rattlesnakes. But we grew up with rattlers and learned how to keep from getting bit by one Us girls at least 3 of us slept in a shed outside and mom would go out and beat the bed with a broom before we went to bed. Then turn the covers back to see if we had any snakes in the bed. Because one time she found a snake in the bed. We wasn't really afraid of them but we were careful.
Papa run some range horses in so I could pick me out a pony Well me I had to take Piegons colt She was a little bay mare stocky built Papa didn't want me to take her and Frankie Reno didn't either there was a lot nicer saddle ponies than her but I just wouldn't listen so they cut her out and kept in the carrol and turned the rest loose. She was real onrey and I was afraid of her Pa snubbed her to his saddle horse, with his saddle on and led her around off and on for 2 or 3 days. Then he put me on her but still kept her snubbed to his horse for quite a while then turned us loose Course no saddle because he wouldn't let us have saddles till the horses were gentle. Guesss she bucked or kicked up because he piled me off and I wouldn't get back on so Ike helped finish breaking her and what a pony she turned out to be. It was like riding a lumber wagon and when you went to get on her she'd turn her head and bite you on the behind and send you right off the other side of her. I kinda liked the ornery little thing thou. But I'd get so mad at her. She had the saddle so me and Ike took turns riding her. Course I'd sooner ride Pigon bare back than her with a saddle. Ike & I rode pidgon alot double and we had a dry gravel creek bed we used to like to ride her as fast as she oould go and she'd try to jump this small creek bed and she'd land in the middle. Well she got to limping and papa looked at her foot and we were graveling her foot. He really bawled us out for he oould tell what we'd been doing and he said the gravel would workway up her leg. But we were just kids and it was fun so we kept on doing that One morning we got up and her leg was swelled clear to her shoulder and she oouldn't get her head down. Boy was our dad mad. He threaten to kill her right on the spot. We cried and begged him not to. So he fixed a sling between to poles and put a rope someway around her so her feet didn't touch the ground We kept hay piled hi enough for her to eat and carried water in a pail for her to drink and each day papa dug rock's and gravel out of her foot and soaked her leg and shoulder and rubbed the rocks down till she was well enough to stand. We never rode her for all summer and she alway's had a limp after that When we rode her fast her shoulder would give way you oould feel it. If we slowed her up she'd be OK other wise she'd fall. Me I never slowed her up. She'd roll one way and I would the other she fell 21 times with me and she never ever fell on me She was one smart littlehorse. Well, anyway while Pidgon was laid up, it left us Trixie, the little bay that was mine and Blue Bell that was Lizzie's, to ride
Frankie Reno had a bunch of cattle that he put on the rang and to get to the range we had to go thro what was called Rattle Snake Den It really was the snakes were so thick you oould hardley see anything but snakes. Ike and I had the job of putting these cattle out on the range Papa warned us not to get off our horses for any reason and if one was struck we were to oome home Just walk the horse that was bite and the other oome and get him he was working sheep. For once we did as we were told. Made 2 trips there and back OK but these dumb oows came back every oouple of days. Well the 3rd trip we made we wasn't so lucky I was riding Blue Bell and watching real close so when she jumped side ways I'd still be on her. I saw the snake coil and strick her. So we turned around and Ike went after pa as fast as little stocky Trixie oould go and I really walked Blue Bell slow and papa met me and I put a turiquet above the swelling and cut her leg open to bleed her. We got her home but she almost died from the snake bite. So that left Trixie and Frankie Reno's 15 hands hi foundered horse. He was really a saddle horse but he had got in grain and got foundered on it and it left him stiff. They didn't really want me to ride him for he oould run like the wind and both Frankie and papa knew what I did when I got out of sight. But I said I wouldn't ride him fast and he did have the oows to take back 2 or 3 times more before they finalley decided to stay, I left Ike like he was afoot. But the horse never fell with me and I always just was riding on a trot when I came in sight. Cloudy was the horses name and Ike never ever told on me and i'd wait for him to catch up. But he'd be all sweaty so they knew how fast I rode any horse.
Papa had a pacing horse he called Shorty but I oouldn't ride him at all, only when pa was along or close behind me. Then came Kicker. He was a oolt that a oow had hooked and tore him open and Frankie was going to kill him. Papa looked him over and said he thought he oould heal him up. So Frankie gave him to Norma, was she ever trilled over thid little old black oolt. Papa fixed some sort of mixture with Iysol and bathed him to or three times a day and he even fixed a diaper affair and bound on him and each day he would walked him to keep him going. Norma always begged to ride him but he was to young and weak even thro she wasn't very big pa wouldn't let her but she oould led him around.
That winter we moved back to Monteview I believe in an old house, so us kids oould go to school. Kicker was healed but still to young to be rode. Papa worked with the sheep out at Frankies One day when we got home from school mom said Jaunita you have to go out and tell papa we have to have some hay. Well poor Pidgon had stood all day tied at school with just a little bit of hay and she was the one I had to ride I really don't remember weather it was 15 miles out where papa was or 15 miles the round trip, for I must of been 10 or 10 1/2 years old by then. Anyway I was afraid of the dark so I started and when I got to pa's camp Pidgon was give out. I had something to eat with pa and he scolded me for riding the pony so hard. I told him I was afraid of the dark by my self. So he let me take his horse Shorty and told me to let him just pace and he'd take me home before dark. So me I really planned on do that. But it kept getting dusky and dark I thought so I said oome on Shorty lets go home and we got home before dark but not on a pace. Mom said papa will be mad when he gets here to-morrow that you rode Shorty so hard. But he really wasn't he just asked what time I got home and I told him before dark and he grinned and said I told you Shorty would make it before dark. I said he sure did but papa took him back with him the next day.
Some time that winter Pa was home still excersing Kicker and we had a big snow bank and Norm wanted to ride. So papa put her on the oolt and gave her the halter rope and he trotted a few steps and kicked up and she landed in the snow bank right on her head just her heels was waving in the air. She splutter and spit and cussed good damn horse she'd kick his teeth out. Pa just laughted and so did me and Ike but she was mad at everyone. But it was really funny.
Frankie had let papa have a long horn milk oow to so he must of got rid of his sheep, for our dad was home. Anyway the oow had a calf and it was penned up and the way we'd bring the oow home was go out by the calf pen and bawl like the calf and the oow would really oome running Then we would climb the fence before she got there. One nite Norma was out with papa and she was bellowing for the oow to oome and the oow came but little sister didn't climb the fence and the oow caught her with her horns Threw Norm in the air and caught her with her horns again as she came down and threw her again before pa got to them to make the oow get back. He picked Norm up and came to the house as fast as he oould run yelling mama, mama