Childhood Memories of Our Yard By A. Dawn Anderson Orrock My first ten years living in Salina have left me with many memories and facts.  First of all, I knew Salina was a very small town.  I knew my parents were well liked.  I knew my mother had some status, although I didn’t realize that was what it was.  Mother was a registered nurse.  We always said, “Registered,” which implied she was at the top of her profession.  I knew my Uncle Oscar was the postmaster.  I knew my father was a farmer and worked construction when he wasn’t farming.  I knew we were poor.  I just didn’t know how poor.  I didn’t feel poor.  We always had good food on the table and Mother made cookies that filled my desire for sweets.  I could afford to go to the movies.  (When I first remembered going, movies cost 10 cents to get in.  Admission was raised to 15 cents and finally 25 cents.)  When Daddy was home, he would always tell us how proud he was of his girls.  I knew my parents loved me.  I felt secure and happy as a child. I had a sister named Edla Jean.  She was four years older than me.  We didn’t always get along when we were young, but we did make some great memories together. Long before I was born, my grandfather, John Anderson, had purchased a quarter of a block at 297 North 200 East, Salina, Utah.  Previous to this, Grandpa and Grandma lived on a farm northeast of Salina.  Grandpa would walk past this desired property on his way from the farm into town; he admired it very much.  One day the property came up for sale.  Mother said the fellow that owned the house had been “run out of town” because of something bad he had done.  Grandpa had been hoping to buy the house but didn’t have quite enough money.  Now this is the miracle, as I see it: Money was sent to Grandpa from members he had helped to get from Sweden to Utah many years before.  The money was just enough for Grandpa to buy the house and lot. While living in the house, Grandpa added a kitchen to the original structure.  He built a barn and some other outbuildings.  I am not sure what other buildings he built, but I remember we had a chicken coop and a granary on the property.  There was an apple orchard and a small plot of fenced-in ground where Grandpa planted lucerne, a grass-like food for the animals. Grandpa also planted the lilac trees.  He was quite a horticulturist.  One of the things he did was to trim the lilac bushes so they grew into beautiful trees.  In my memory, there were three: One tree was on the south of the house, east of the washhouse; another was on the east of the house; and the last was on the north side, just outside the dining room window.  The lilacs were all different colors and fragrances.  I loved the lilac trees!  They must have been a memory for Grandpa of his life in Sweden.  He had spent his life there farming for other relatives. A visual memory returns and returns….. The kitchen is bathed in spring sunshine.  Mother sits in the middle of the room, a towel wrapped around her newly washed hair.  The pretty, young neighbor prepares the perm bottles, papers, curlers and directions.  Mother says, “Alma Dawn, take Marie out on the lawn and read her a story.”  Three- year-old Marie looks at her mother and then at me.  I am 5 years old.  She smiles and takes my hand.  Does she know I can’t read?  Maybe I can. We sit on the green, spring grass, under the fragrant, purple blooms of the lilac tree.  The shady east side of the house is to the back of us with a narrow, dirt path running between a small ditch and the lilac tree.  My memory tells me I am small, with dark brown hair, cut short around my face.  Marie sits at my side and with feelings of great importance, I read to her. Daddy, Mother, Jean and I moved in with Grandpa when I was two years old.  The house that my grandpa loved, I loved.  I was six years old when Grandpa died. (I now have pictures that have been taken long after I lived in that wonderful place.  The barnyard is gone, and a room has been added where the kitchen porch was.  The lilac trees have grown into bushes or have been cut down.  The orchard has been replanted.  Trailers stand in our kitchen yard.  I am sad we don’t have pictures from that era; we will just have to content ourselves with these more recent ones.  The home is well over one hundred years old.) When I was young, summer seemed to last a long time.  There was time to lie out on the grass and watch the clouds take different forms, changing as they drifted across the sky.  We played Mumbly Peg with a sharp kitchen knife or a pocketknife.  Holding the knife on the palm of your hand, you would throw it up in the air, trying to make it land with its point in the ground.  Sometimes we would throw the knife against the trees.  It was a powerful feeling when you were successful in lodging the knife soundly in the tree.  We picked dandelions from the grass and would hold them under our playmate’s chin.  If the dandelions reflected a yellow color, it meant we liked butter.  As I recall, the reflection was always yellow, just another little memory of childhood. In a sandy ditch across the street from our house, we used to build dams to try and catch the irrigation water, as it would begin its trip to the fields.  We would hurry to build a dam farther down the ditch before the water broke through the first dam.  It was great fun and excitement as the water pushed its way to freedom through each dam we built. Sometimes I would carry the sand in cans from the ditch across the street to our back yard on the kitchen side. This part of the yard had no lawn and the dirt was well packed down.  I would fill an area around our tree with sand, creating roads and towns.  Using my imagination, I would play for hours with little toy cars and stick people to populate the towns. The tree that provided shade for my sandy towns and roads had a very straight trunk.  The first limb was very high on the tree.  I remember it being a challenge to climb.  When Uncle Mark drove from Provo to Salina for a visit, Jean and I would bring out a kitchen chair and climb up onto the limb of the tree.  We had a great view from there.  We could see through fields and over sheds to the highway, hoping to catch a glimpse of Uncle Mark’s car before it arrived at our home.  Our stomachs would flip-flop with excitement.  Uncle Mark always brought with him an aunt or two and sometimes Grandma Foote.  This was very exciting for Jean and me. When they arrived, Jean was right there to enjoy the hugs and kisses; I, on the other hand, had hidden someplace because I was so shy.  It took awhile before I could be coaxed out from my hiding place to accept the gifts that were brought from thoughtful, loving aunts. I do remember that Aunt Fern always washed her hair when she came to our house.  She said, “Salina has natural soft water and it’s good for the hair.”  I remember that Aunt Maude brought me a dolly once, and I remember thinking to myself that if my mother or father should die, I would want Aunt Maude to be my mother.  Of course, I nearly cried when I thought such a terrible thing could happen to my parents, but I was glad I had a backup plan. One time, during a visit from Grandma Foote, she was bending down, picking something up in our backyard, when one of our goats saw the perfect target and ran for it, sending Grandma sprawling on the ground, mad as mad could be!  Just little memories of the visits from our extended family members, when I was young and could climb a tree. One more item regarding the straight tree: I understand there was once a bench around the tree where Grandpa Anderson would sit, moving his cane back and forth, while the cat would chase and jump for it.  I love that thought.  It makes me like that tree even more. Our outhouse sat partway into the orchard.  It was located south of our fenced-in yard and east of the barnyard.  It was a “three-seater” outhouse.  Each seat was a different size to accommodate different sizes of people. These seats also graduated in height.  I imagine it was a grand outhouse when first built.  When I was little, I used the little seat.  Much less chance of falling in.  It was a very long walk to the outhouse in the middle of the winter and oh, so cold!  During the depression, WPA (Work Progress Administration) workers built new outhouses in our town.  The work the WPA did was to keep men busy and employed.  Our new outhouse was located closer to the fenced-in yard and the house.  Thanks to a chain that hooked the toilet seat to the door, the seat would go up when you entered and down when you left.  The floor was cement instead of wood.  Mother kept it sparkling clean; often it would smell of Clorox.  We were rather proud of our new outhouse. Another project the WPA did was to cut down trees.  This was terribly sad to me.  We had four huge poplar trees lining the south side of our yard.  Once, lightning struck one of the trees, preventing the lightning from hitting Mother.  She was sitting at the table in front of the kitchen window when it struck.  The lightning did blow out our radio that was sitting on the table right by Mother!  I thought that tree was very heroic.  I guess the poplar trees did have a tendency to lose large limbs when the wind blew hard, but they seemed a very hardy tree to me.  One day, the WPA workers came to our street and cut down our precious trees.  I cried at first, but my adventurous soul soon helped me to see other possibilities.  The tree stumps from those trees were very large.  Some attempt was made to take out the stumps by digging around them, leaving each stump like an island.   Therefore, I made those stumps my world to play on.  I could stand on one stump and pretend I was a princess captured in a castle.  I could be a hero and almost jump from one stump to another! They became part of my imaginary world for a good part of one summer. The spring trees in the orchard were covered with perfumed petals of pink flowers.  The bees buzzed so loudly I could hear them from my upstairs bedroom window.  At night I would kneel down on the floor in front of my long window.  Folding my arms on the windowsill, I would look at the moonlight on the grass below to the huge, white blossoms of the peony bush, which sent up a luscious fragrance, and across the fence to the orchard.  I would drink in the beauty and fragrance while dreaming my childish dreams.  Most of the trees in the orchard were apple trees.  We did have a couple of ugly pear trees.  They were unable to be climbed and only looked pretty in the fall when they changed to a lovely red color.  I never remember going to that side of the orchard.  I’m sure the apples in our orchard were named “Delicious” or “Roman Beauty.”  Only apples with names like that could live in our beautiful orchard.  One exception was a tree near the barnyard that had apples on it we called “crab apples.”  That tree was a challenge to us as kids.  The first limbs grew higher on that tree than on friendlier apple trees.  We would dare each other to try and climb that tree.  One day I did it!  I actually got up onto the first limb, and then I fell!  What a fall!  It knocked the breath out of me for the first time.  I thought I was going to die!  The other children ran in to my mother, calling to her to come out and help.  Then I really knew I was dying!  By the time she arrived, I was well into the bawling stage.  Mothers can be so comforting. A very special tree for Jean and me was situated almost in the middle of the orchard.  The limbs on that tree were placed just right for us to climb and to sit on.  A good, strong limb grew straight out from the tree trunk, with a smaller limb gently growing up behind.  It made a perfect chair for us as we sat eating apples and reading. Sometimes we would get sleepy with the warm sun heating up the day, but we never worried about falling from that stable tree chair—a very lovely memory for me to cling to. The granary was north of the barn.  It was two stories high and had a ladder nailed on one inside wall leading straight up to the loft.  Our dog, Troubles, could climb straight up that ladder, but she would need help getting down.  A Dutch door looked out from the loft towards the barn.  We loved that door.  We would close the bottom half to keep us from falling to the barnyard floor. Then we’d swing the top part of the door open wide, giving us a great view of the whole barnyard, the orchard and beyond. Once, Jean and I cleaned half of the loft.  We pushed unwanted things off to the side that had been stored in the loft. With ropes strung from one side of the room to the other, we hung old blankets, blocking off the messy, unwanted things, leaving us plenty of room to play.  As we were playing in the loft one lovely spring day, Jean and I had an inspiration: We would cut fragrant apple blossom limbs and bring them into the loft of the granary to give it a beautiful look and smell. We must have cut bunches, because that loft was filled with the fragrant limbs.  Our memory of that beautiful loft has lived long with my sister and me—one of those special adventures we enjoyed together. The chicken coop had a very slanted roof.  On a dare, I once jumped off the lower part of the roof into the lucerne field.  I don’t think it was very high off the ground, but somehow I remember that jump proving to others that I was as good as any boy around!  (I prided myself in being a tomboy.) Our barn was really big!  In the barn was another loft like the one in the granary, but larger.  When the hay was cut and delivered, it would be thrown from a wagon outside the barn into a big, story-high opening. The result was a huge haystack on the barn floor.  The loft also had a large window-like opening for hay to be thrown into.  When there was a lot of hay, it would be stacked not only on the barn floor but into the loft as well.  That was my hideaway.  I never invited anyone else to my secret corner in the loft.  I would burrow back into the corner of the hay so I couldn’t be seen, leaving a little opening by the wall for me to squeeze through.  I remember taking some of Mother’s raisin or sugar cookies and climbing the ladder to the loft.  I would carry my loot to my secret corner. There I would eat and read or just pretend.  I loved pretending.  Remember, my sister, Jean, was four years older than me.  Jean was usually off doing her own thing.  It seemed I was often left alone, as though I were an only child, to do my pretending by myself. The huge window in the barn measured about ten feet across and had a beam probably six inches by six inches at the base of the opening.  The large beam gave my friends and me another opportunity to prove ourselves.  We would dare each other to walk from the safety of the loft, across the beam to the end of the opening, hold on to the wall, carefully turn around and walk back once more to the loft.  It was a long drop to the floor of the barn, or worse, to the ground outside of the barn.  I remember being scared but not admitting it to the others as I crossed that wide, wide space.  I was younger than ten when we were having these adventures.  Once, when Jean was doing the dare, she froze.  After she had been so brave to walk across the beam to the wall, she turned and looked down, down, down, to the ground and she couldn’t move.  Mother was called once more to rescue one of her girls, and somehow she did it.  Our memory is blurred as to how.  Poor Mother. As a child I had very long limbs.  Coats that would fit my long arms were very hard to find.  One of my bad experiences in the barn was caused because of my long legs.  All of us neighbor kids would line up in the loft, one behind another, and see how far we could jump onto the newly formed haystack.  The haystack was a few feet out from the loft that year and not quite as high.  Each took their turn.  I was last.  I ran with all my strength...and jumped over the haystack!  I’m not sure I hit hay at all, but that was the second time I knocked my breath out!  Off went the kids to find my mother.  She came.  It had taken me longer to gain back that needed air, and this time I was sure I was dead.  That was the time I received a lecture on not playing in the barn and especially not to play on the hay.  I learned that when we jumped on the hay, it took the blossoms off and the animals didn’t like it as well.  I will add here that my dad never said we couldn’t jump on the hay.  I’m sure memories from his own childhood would have kept him from scolding us.  Mother had been born in the city and couldn’t seem to understand.  Besides, she was very practical. Daddy owned livestock at different times.  Sometimes we would have a horse, a cow, a calf or pigs.  There was a shelter connected to the barn on the north side under the loft for the horses and cows.  On the south side was where the pigs were kept.  I was always afraid of the pigs.  We were told scary stories about them eating little children! One year we had a Guernsey cow.  The milk from the Guernsey was supposed to be very rich and good.  I had followed Daddy out to the barnyard where he was visiting with another farmer.  Daddy told me to “Stay away from that Guernsey.  She’s mean.”  I was playing around, not noticing I was getting nearer and nearer to the cow, when WHAM!  That mean, old Guernsey kicked my backside and sent me flying right into a fresh cow pie!  I went headfirst, sliding in that awful stuff!  Daddy very carefully picked me up and carried me into our yard, yelling at Mother to “get the hose!”  All I could do was stand there, bawling, while Mother turned the hose full force on me and cold water washed off most of the mess.  Poor me.  Poor Mother.  I wonder how many times she had to scrape us off, patch us up, and all the while soothing our tears.  Summers must have seemed long to her, too. At the very back of our barnyard, a fence ran between our place and the neighbors.  Along that fence was a little, sandy ditch.  Now, I’m here to tell you that there were fairies that lived along that ditch.  Jean and I would check almost every day to see if we could see their tiny tracks.  If we looked really closely, we could see slight indentations of little feet that had walked in the sand.  They were clearer some days than others.  I believe the fairies only lived there for one summer.  They probably found a better place the next year. The fence held another memory for me.  Mother and Dad had gone to a meeting out of town and left Jean and me with one of Jean’s friends.  I remember I was ten years old and Jean was fourteen.  Jean and I had a difference of opinion, and she chased me from the house toward that fence.  I believed she was wielding some menacing tool in her hand.  (She has said she wasn’t.)  I was so scared and the adrenaline was pumping so heavily that I cleared that fence!  The fence was probably four feet high, and our barnyard was lower than the yard connected to us.  Fear can do amazing things for our bodies. She didn’t catch me, and I stayed at the neighbors’ that night, as did Jean at a different neighbor’s house.  I learned later that Mother and Dad had gone to a meeting where the topic was, How to Raise Children.  Better late than never. On the south side of the orchard, and over the fence into the neighbors’ yard, was an old abandoned car.  Being a very obedient child (scared, I believe it is called) for the most part, I stayed in our yard, unless I went to a friend’s house to play.  My mother usually knew where I was.  I would often look over the fence, eyeing that car.  I had a great desire to sit in it and pretend that I was driving far away, out of our town, to some beautiful other place.  I didn’t know the neighbors on that side of the yard.  They didn’t have children I played with.  One day, I finally got up the courage to climb the fence and sit in that car.  When I think back on it now, I can see that no one would have really cared if I got into that old car, and the worst thing that would have happened was that I would tear my dress when I climbed the fence.  I probably did. One spring, Daddy brought home two little “dogies”, lambs that didn’t have mothers to feed and take care of them.  He put them in the lucerne field and proceeded to teach Jean and me how to feed them from bottles that looked like big baby bottles.  The lambs had powerful sucking ability.  I had to hold onto the bottle with both hands or the lamb would have sucked it right away from me.  This was very exciting for us, a new adventure.  Sadly, one of the lambs died, but the other was in great shape.  We started teaching the lamb to run with us and then to chase us.  We would run breathlessly around and around our house, finally jumping up on our front porch railing, the lamb right behind, jumping high, trying to get at us.  By the time we reached the safety of the rail we would be quite panicky!  As the lamb grew, she became more dangerous to us, and our playful runs had to stop.  We were too slow, and she would catch up to us and bunt us.  Daddy finally took her away.  I hope we never ate her, but I’m not sure. Jean’s and my job every day was to bring in the coal and the kindling.  That area was located at the west end of our backyard, near the granary.  A big poplar tree stood near there, and it was always surrounded by coal and wood chips.  Our trees almost covered up the sky on that side of the yard.  When I was young, it seemed like it was a long way to carry the heavy coal bucket into the kitchen.  Bringing in the kindling was a lot easier.  I have a feeling I got conned into bringing in the coal quite often.  I have a feeling I was easily conned by my older sister!  Daddy had a wooden stump by the kindling where you could lay a log across it to chop it into kindling with the ax.  I remember once watching Daddy.  He laid a chicken on that stump and chopped off its head.  The poor chicken’s body flopped around for a while before it dropped.  I must not have seen that happen more than once.  I didn’t like that experience.  I can also remember seeing a dead hog hanging from a hook off the granary wall.  The pig was being scraped.  Mother would bring me in the house when these fearful projects were done.  I remember seeing several men out helping with the pig project. They would receive part of the pig. The men looked like they were enjoying each other as they worked together, laughing and talking.  Daddy was always friendly and happy around people. We had lawn around three sides of the yard.  Both Jean and I mowed the lawn using a push mower.  Jean told me that when we would mow the lawn, she used to think of it as mowing Utah, because the lawn was in the shape of a U.  I actually loved mowing the lawn.  I liked the smell of new-mown grass and I liked to work up a sweat.  One day as I was mowing the lawn by the orchard, a little calf that Daddy had temporarily boarded there, started following me back and forth along the fence as I mowed.  Back and forth, back and forth we went.  I visited with the calf as I mowed.  I was totally entranced by that experience and felt I had shared something special with that sweet, little calf. Mother and Dad always planted a garden, which took up half of our backyard.  (Not the barnyard).  Mother bottled lots of vegetables.  I liked them best when she creamed them, although she could never cream them quite as well as Aunt Alvilda.  We had good, thick cream that we scooped from the tops of the bottled milk.  We also had fresh vegetables from our garden.  I loved to work outside, and I do remember working in the garden, weeding until it got so dark I couldn’t see anymore.  Daddy was always saying how proud he was of “his girls.”  I liked working hard so he would be proud of me. Mother planted petunias down our sidewalk from the kitchen to the north side gate.  I know we had “4 o’clocks” planted near the house on the south side.  These two fragrances have always given me a homesick feeling whenever I smell them.  Childhood fragrances are very powerful!  One year, Jean planted zinnias and marigolds together, near the walk on the south side of our house.  I simply loved that summer look and smell!!