Facts and Events
From The Daily American Republic newspaper of Sunday, October 30, 2005 in a section entitled "Mark Twain National Forest" in an article on page 3E "Civilian Conservation Corps enrollees share Memories" . Charles Featherston, was born in Ripley County. At age 16, (claiming to be 21) he got work at a Power Company and later joined the Missouri National Guard. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt initiated the CCC, (then really 21) Featherston was in the first contingent of Doniphan boys to enroll. In a later interview, he recalled his first days in the CCC and being mixed among city boys: "In 1933 lots of Doniphan boys were eager to get into the new CCC organization. Not all could meet the stringent requirements, and I felt fortunate to get in....The Army Post apparently was totally unprepared and incapable of taking care of the large contingent of Southeast Missouri boys fresh from their farms and hills. Army personnel hearded us around like cattle, had us march awhile, then fled to shelter from the pounding rain--abandoned us, cold, wet and confused. "We Doniphan boys pretty well were able to take care of ourselves, and trained by the National Guard...But we were hardly prepared for the influx of 200 young wiseneheimers from poverty stricken families in St. Louis. Foreign accents and abrupt behavior made them strange to us. But we were more strange to them and were more at home in the camp habitat. In the city, they were mostly rough, tough, streetwise kids. In the woods, their plight was pathetic. The hoot of an owl at night would set them trembling. They dared not step out of the camp for fear of being eaten by bears. They did not know how to use most of the tools; in fact, many had never seen saws, axes, etc., before and had no conception of safety practices necessary in handling them. They got hurt and hurt other boys by their carelessness. Many of them were pale and scrawny. But clean air, regular hours, hard work and good food transformed most of them. "After discharge, I continued in construction and building similar to my work in the CCC. The experience was valuable to me, as it was to a lot of young people of those days".
Story provided by Forest Service. Camp # 1729 Drain, Oregon Camp Gunther
Charles H. Featherston Obituary
Charles H. Featherston, 87, of Poplar Bluff, formerly of Doniphan, died Sunday, Jan. 16, 2000 at The Cedargate.
Mr. Featherston was born April 25, 1912, in Ripley County. He was a maintenance supervisor with ARCO Oil Co. in Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois. He served in the Civilian Conservation Corps Camp at Bardley and Eugene, Ore. He was a past member of the Masonic Lodge in Doniphan and he enjoyed hunting and fishing. He served nine years in the Missouri Army National Guard at Doniphan.
On May 3, 1938, he married Ellen O'Brien at Doniphan. She survives.
Also surviving are three children, Charles Ronald Featherston of Houston, Texas, Ellen Elaine Boston of New Orleans, La. and Sally Louise Boyd of Tyler, Texas: two brothers, Gene Featherston of Doniphan and Jim Featherston of Rosebud: three sisters, Clarice Braschler and Veta Sutherland, both of Doniphan, and Lois Madsen of Binghampton, N.Y.; eight grand-children and six great-grandchildren.
Visitation is set at 9 a.m., Wednesday at Cotrell Funeral Chapel. A funeral is scheduled at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the funeral home chapel with Rev. Gregg Guy and the Rev. Bob Featherston officiating. Burial will be at Memorial Gardens Cemetery.,
My father, Charles, was an avid outdoorsman. He was Daniel Boone reincarnated. He was a great hunter and fisherman and game was the most likely meat served at most meals (a favorite breakfast was fried squirrel, gravy and biscuits!) but he loved to fish more than anything. He was an award winning fisherman and had the trophies and reputation as the guide to have on the Current River.
Current River, where we grew up, is one of the us Scenic waterways. It is fed entirely from springs coming out of limestone caves in Van Buren, Missouri. It is always cold and clear--swift and dangerous. Many drowning deaths occur each year as well as overturned boats and loss of equipment but the fishing is unparalleled. My dad worked only long enough to get time off to head to the river. My Mother got up early (little past midnight) to take my dad to a starting point on the Current or other rivers and he would float all day and sometimes for two days and my Mother dutifully picked him up at the agreed upon ending point. Every weekend, Dad assembled the equipment necessary for a family and we headed to the river to spend the night on a gravel bar or at a base camp we had on the river. Food never tasted better and we never ate better. My Mother is the Hush Puppy queen of the United States! My mother endured this routine for many years (she was afraid of water and had never learned to swim) but finally put her foot down. She thought we were all growing up to be river rats as she called it. Family outings slowed down after that.
The extend of my Dad's reputation as a guide and expert didn't really hit me until I came across a letter from a former Governor of Missouri thanking him for his fishing trip and offering to do whatever he could for my dad. He always had friends in high places that he never used unless necessary.
More can be read about my dad in his brother Jim's stories about the local area. Jim Featherston has written many books about being a sheriff and game warden in that part of Missouri and the books provide a rich understanding of the place and time of that part of Missouri we call "Home".
It could be that these family trips is a primary reason why the three children are so close. Ron, Elaine and Sally speak to each other at least once a week.
Title of one of Jim Featherston's book is " Reflections Along the Current: Tales of the Ozarks", Oct 1989, Harrow Books
10/96 IF IT HADN'T BEEN FOR CHARLES
Clarice, Veta and Ed came to Wildwood for an October visit. Donna and I were overjoyed. It was their first visit here and providence provided perfect weather for the event. The woods were beginning to don autumn colors; the temperature was ideal for outdoor roaming around the neighborhood with a stop at the Bourbeuse River.
Kinfolk visits like all good things end far to soon. Before they headed back to Doniphan, we chose a small local cafe as the place to have our last supper--which was really a lunch. As we ate, Veta talked about our brother Charles.
"If it hadn't been for Charles I couldn't have gone to high school," she said. "If it hadn't been for Charles I wouldn't have been able to go to my graduation because we didn't have the money to buy a graduation dress." She went on to enumerate some of the many things her oldest brother had done for her, including transportation to enable her to teach.
The conversation stuck in my mind for days. So many scenes from my childhood came back, scenes that I had wish I had shared with my sisters in that Rosebud cafe. It's not too late to do it now with this letter. If it hadn't been for my brother, Charles, who chose to join the CCC's to send twenty five dollars a month home, I wouldn't have known the security those dollars meant to our comfort and security. Our family during those lean years were sharecroppers on poor hill land.
If it hadn't been for Charles I would never have known how to hunt or fish. The nights I walked behind my brothers, Charles and Gene, through woods lit only by the moon and a kerosine lantern; while we waited for Old Wolf to tree a possum we sometimes built a warming fire and talked. Those memories remain warm and dear to my heart. If it hadn't been for Charles, I wouldn't have had the .22 ammunition to rabbit hunt with Wolf. If it hadn't been for Charles, I would have been ignorant about the cause of the strange feelings in my developing body. I would have been dependent on misinformation from my peers given during recesses at Belleview school. My father, who grew up without a father of his own, due to grandpa's early death, didn't know how to talk with his sons about sex. Charles understood that I needed straight talk and honest answers, so he gave them to me.
If it hadn't been for Charles who dug out two hard-earned dollars and gave them to me so I could take my first airplane ride when the barnstorming Ford "Tin Goose" trimotored airplane landed on the Schlutz farm, I wouldn't known the thrill of flight. I was also the envy of every boy in the Belleville district. I will always be grateful to him for putting his siblings ahead of his own self interests. I remember the bruised and wounded shoulders he got, along with meager pay, for loading ties into boxcars in the Doniphan tie yards. I also remember how he spent some of the torture wages he earned at the job to buy soda for our fourth of July when we lived on the old pear orchard place. I honor, love and adore my oldest brother.
But I can't stop here. If it hadn't been for my sister Clarice, I would be much poorer in mind and spirit. She was so special when I was very young that I couldn't accept it, for a long time, when she married Arnold. I remember her sitting at the old organ learning to read shaped notes and to play the notes. I remember how she took loving care of us when Mother and Dad went to town. Clarice, like all my sisters and brothers, has been more than family. She remained my friend. If it hadn't been for Clarice taking my two youngest children into her home, they no doubt would have lost a year of school and more. My oldest sister has been a lifetime inspiration for me with her example, courage and determination. At an age when most people quite and sit, she completed high school. She had to drop out of school when she was a young girl. She self-taught herself to be a very good writer. Her work will endure long after she goes to her reward. I honor, love and adore my sister Clarice.
I cannot imagine life with my brother Gene. Good, quiet, solid, dependable brother Gene. His retiring ways masks an awesome brain. He has spent a life learning and has the wonderful ability to retain what he learns. He soaks up knowledge like a sponge. If it hadn't been for Gene coming to St. Louis, when he got out of the Navy, I don't know how I would have made it. It wasn't easy for Gene to leave home again so soon. He was always a home loving person and would have perferred to stay home longer. But he came to St. Louis and supported me in every way, from money to moral support. Because he is special to me, I rejoiced when he met and married a special woman--Florence. I honor, love and adore my brother Gene.
If it hadn't been for my sister Veta I would probably have dropped out of high school. She had blazed the way. Her courage in everything from picking strawberries to pay for her clothes, to digging into her books at the kitchen table, by the light of a kerosine lamp, graduating with top grades, was an inspiration. I was so proud when she began teaching as soon as she graduated from high school. She was only a kid herself, but she was a good teacher. She didn't make much money but she helped with family with what she made. Years later, when she and Ed took my youngest son into their home, she showed again what family meant to her. Jon didn't appreciate then the love that motivated the act, but as times goes by the understanding that Veta did what I was unable to do for him grows. I honor, love and adore my sister Veta.
If it hadn't been for my sister Dorothy, I would have missed a wonderful childhood friend. My lovely, energetic, sparkling and lively sister caused me to get close to the edge of real danger a few times. She could skin a cat, hang from her heels from a timber in a hayloft, climb a tall tree or do anything with a challenge attached. She never "tattled" on me, but I will never know if it was all loyalty or the knowledge that I could "tattle: on her that sealed my lips. I didn't want to see her grow up and not wear boy's bib overalls. One of my lifetime grustrations has been that I was unable to soften some of the blows life dealt to my caring, unselfish sister. When she died, a friend in Ventura attended her funeral. He said that the place was filled with grieving young people. We would have expected nothing less. Dorothy lived for others. I honor, love and adore my sister Dorothy.
If it hadn't been for my youngest sister, Lois, I would have been the youngest, with all the perks and privileges that position carries, but I forgave her for that early on. Oh, how I suffered for her! I had to walk to country school with her when she was so little it slowed me down to where I couldn't keep up with my current love, LoLo Grissom. She was always theatrical. She told the teacher she was blind during the school day and I had to lead her home. The humiliation of it was seasoned somewhat because I got to see a miracle. Lois regained her sight just before I led her to Mom. Because she is five years younger, she was at the bottom of the food chain, so to speak. Or better put, the bottom of the pecking order. When my older siblings passed me a sticky wicket, I passed it on to Louis. I'll say this for her--she wasn't one to suffer in silence. However, if I had been permitted to write the specifications for a younger sister, the blue print would have been exactly like she is. I honor, love and adore my sister Lois.
I write these things because I want you to know what you mean to me. I wish I had done so years ago when I could have sent it to Dorothy.
Jimmy Featherston, age 73 Wildwood October 1996
The Prospect News Weekly Newspaper Bicentennial Editions, Doniphan, Missouri Charles Featherston, resident of 1607 Big Bend, Poplar Bluff, but former county resident, remembers one of the tedious routines performed at his home during his childhood years—the weekly washday.
For his manuscript published herein, Featherston received a check for $10 and a bicentennial patch.
WASHDAY In the good old days was a weekly affair unless there happened to be a young baby, small children or an emergency. Some families chose Monday as washday, while others chose to do it on some other day of the week. Those who wanted to put it off as long as possible waiting until Saturday, but for some reason, I know not what, ours came on Tuesday. We lived in a dry area and I think it might have been that we had to haul water on Monday before washing on Tuesday.
We felt we were lucky if it rained and we had soft rain water for the wash. At the sound of the first thunder clap, indicating an approaching cloud, Mother would hustle us kids into gathering buckets, dish pans and every kind of vessel that could hold water, and placing them under the drip of the house, while she hastened to rinse out the rain barrel and put up the lead trough to the cistern lest a drop of the precious liquid be lost. However, it seemed, we were always short of water and hauled a lot, especially drinking water.
Preparations for washing included scouring the yard, chicken yard, barn lot and surrounding area for scraps of old lumber, corn cobs, fallen tree limbs, etc. to use for wash wood. We cleaned as we heated wash water. Nothing was purposely burned that could be used for wash wood. If in a yard cleaning binge, all scraps were piled near the kettle—waiting for washday.
Next came the job of filling the big, 20 gallon outdoor kettle with water, lighting the fire and while it heated, shaving generous slabs of home-made lye soap, or if fresh out, substituting store bought P and G White Naptha or some other famous brand. A merry sprinkling of “Merry War Hog” lye christened the water and it was ready to be heated to the boiling point.
While water was heating, clothes were sorted as to color and amount of soil and laid out in piles to await their turn in the washing process. White sheets and best whites claimed the honor of being first to be rubbed through a mixture of the kettle-hot water, placed in a big, number 3 galvanized tub and diluted with enough cold water to stand the hands in. The rub board surface was covered with a generous coating of soap and action began. A bountiful application of muscle power propelling the clothes up and down the rub board persuaded, even the stubbornest dirt to surrender rather than endure this rough treatment.
This combination of lye, soap, hot water and rub board not only removed dirt from clothes but would also remove calluses, stains, nail (hang or good) hide or whatever, from the hands of the one doing the wash. A conditioner, but not a good one, but for those who were dilatory about keeping their hands clean they got one good cleaning per week.
After undergoing the rubbing treatment and a vigorous wringing, clothes were transferred to the boiling water in the kettle and left to boil. Vigorous prods from time to time with the “Punching Stick” kept them down under until they got the proper scald.
Once removed from the boiling water they were run through a clear rinse before rinsing in blueing water—the final rinse. This was made by placing marble-sized balls of blueing into a rag of several thicknesses, forming a pouch, and tying with a string. One could not use the balls, in the raw, as the clothes would be so spotted they would have to be rewashed. The pouch of blueing was shuffled through the water until it looked to the expert—not too blue, not too light. Then the pouch was put up to dry till the next week.
The middle clothes came next, Towels, underwear, wash rage, etc. Lastly came the “rough clothes”. They consisted of overalls, jeans, work shirts and such. All received the same treatment unless there happed to be special things such as pretty new prints, a silk hankie, scarf, etc.; these were rubbed on the board, subjected to harsh treatment or boiled.
Starch water was always made and on hand for things that needed starching. Not having a store bought prepared starch such as ARGO, was no excuse for not having stiffly starched shirt collars and cuffs or Sunday dresses. Flour starch was made and strained through a cloth or flour sack to remove the lumps—lumpy starch was no fun to iron over. A little blueing was also added to the starch.
A very important part of the wash was hanging them out to dry. Unless it was raining they were hung outside, then they were brought inside and draped over quickly improvised lines or maybe on porches that most everyone had then. Sheets were always hung together and other clothes hung in the order washed. It was very important to have good galvanized lines that wouldn’t rust to my family. Throwing the wash on fences or bushes was not in good taste, and done only after all lines were full. Our folks used to tell us to be careful and not marry a girl whose mother placed her dingy wash on the fence to dry. Just not good. Very much a no, no thing.
Good clean denims always looked good to me and still do, but not dirty ones. I’ve worked almost all of my life with some kind of mechanics and dirty work. In early life I watched railroad men go to work in clean, starched clothes and I asked one who he wore starched clothes. He told me they were easier to wash clean and I tried it. It worked!
Sometimes I would have to bribe or threaten my sisters to get them to iron them as they were harder to iron (and ironing with irons headed on a wood cook stove was no snap) than soft clothes, and took some doing. Sometimes I ended up doing it myself, but I found that I liked it and was the envy of fellow workers.
Washing like cooking was an important event with most people then and wash-day blues was a “Rainy Day” not the work. I have retired now and do the washing. Probably not the proper way, but still get it done--if left alone. I notice Ellen now walks with a rolling gait, but I bet her undies are clean.
The Featherston motto on their coat of arms is "Able and willing"