Our Prize Possessions
My brother John and I were given four medium sized steel traps to keep us busy getting rid of the gophers that ruined our fields. We were taught how to set the traps hopefully without catching our fingers. We learned to trap gophers, which gave us $.10 bounty for each set of front paws. We took them to the county treasurer’s once in a pail of salt solution. The cashier never opened the pail of paws just asked, “How many set of paws do you have?” The season for trapping was open anytime the ground wasn’t frozen. One year we caught seventy gophers, which helped to buy a Flexible Flyer Sled.
Minks, raccoons, muskrats, and rabbits were our prey. We were never sure what might be in our traps when we hurried to check them before we went to school.
We skinned and stretched the hides on boards to dry.
My neighbor, Bill McCarthy, agreed to get us the best price he could for the hides. We knew he would hold out for a better price than my dad would. One day the catch was a skunk that peppered John before he could get away. He came to school; the teachers refused to let him in. He went home and my mother made him bathe and change his clothes in the wood shed. The wood carried the smell into the kitchen. We were mighty careful after that session to approach our catch slowly.
The first theater performance I attended was a stage play. “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” This December day my father took us to town in a sleigh. My sister, Martha, chaperoned Matthew, John and me to the Orpheum’s 2:00 p.m. performance. We were to meet my father at the livery on 1st Street to go home. Nothing was certain as to the time the play might be over. At 5:30 the play ended, but my father had hitched the team and was waiting since 4 o’clock.
How surprised we were when we came out of the theater to find the streets all lighted. People were rushing to board the streetcar. We hurried down three blocks to the livery to find a very impatient father ready to hurry the team, the fourteen miles home. We didn’t even relive the joy we had at the theater. I thought how great it would be when I was old enough to attend another such play.
I have never been as thrilled by any play as I was that true to life play with adults and children and one scene so vivid, a mother and child crossing an ice covered creek to freedom. I thought that in a whole lifetime no performance could equal that one.
Ole & Lena Are Back