Sunday, May 2, 2010

Remember how cold it was back in the 1930's?

Well, our new friend Naoma has written me another email. She doesn't seem to get the hang of how to make a comment, but she knows things that the rest of us would never know if it weren't for her telling us. She saw the harsh winters of the 30's that the Old-Timers, that were here then, still talk about.


My mother lives in our downstairs apartment. She has been reading Naoma's stuff. It's been a new source of interest to her, but she doesn't comment on my blog much. She knows how to, but claims it's too much trouble. I just went downstairs to ask her if she remembered how cold it was in the 1930's. She was born in 1923, so she remembers in well. I ask her if she remembered what year that Gramma Ruby Branscomb said that Grampa Roy drove the model “T” up the slough to Great Grampa Ed Branscomb's place. It was so cold that the slough froze over. As I recall gramma said that it was around 1933. My mother said that she remembers one winter when she was in high school, that it got down to -4 deg in Laytoville.


My cousin helped produce the book “Through the Eyes of the Elders”. The students all remarked that they had no idea how cold it got back in the '30's.

Naoma's latest post has to do with how cold it got back then and sent it to me. I posted it below:


Ernie
Thank you so much for the instructions.  It sounds so much simpler and
maybe I can do it.  It has be so wonderful (,a word Joe likes :-0 ) to be
able to read in your space "ernies place" and the other comments.  So
much I have learned about the place I loved so much as I was growing up.
There is one more story I'd like to share....Tho ' it is spring here and
snow is far off yet, I remember back in 1935 or 1936 we spent
Thanksgiving vacation at the Circle E.  Dad was an Advertising Salesman
for Alexander Film Company out of Colorado and he had to travel a lot, so
he had taken the family up to be with grandma and Grandpa.  The weather
set in and we had the biggest snow we had ever seen.  On the flat the
snow kept coming down...not drifts...so that the fence was covered and
the cows could walk over into the yard.  It was a bad winter, as some of
the stock was lost....any way, dad tried to come in to get us to get us
to school .  He could only drive as far as the Butts Store on Bull Creek,
as the one way road up to Mottole and Panther gap was snowed in.  ( in
those days that road was one narrow curvy track...only one car at a time)
 as one got to a curve the thing to do was to honk the horn to let anyone
coming in the opposite direction. know that there was someone there.
Then one car had to back up (up hill, as it wasn't safe to back down
hill) until there was a place wide enough for a car to get pass .,
Anyway...dad bought a pair of skis and poles.  He had never been on skis
, put a pack on his back ( Xmas presents , food etc.) and started up the
Motolle road.  I really don't know the distance he walked on those skis,
but the folks always said it was 20 miles to South Fork.  I don't know
the distance to Butt's Store...nor do I remember how long it took, but I
know he started out early and it was late afternoon when he got to my
Grandparents House.  He called out , as we always did , when we came
close to the house , and just as he was feeling very proud of himself and
everyone rushed out to greet him the skis slid right out from under him
and he fell flat on his back.  He told us later that he had not fallen
once on the whole long trip up hill until he had called out to us!!!  I
don't know where Gramps got the mules, but some time later dad walked
back and caught the mail carrier to take him down the hill.  The road had
been cleared of snow by that time.  Dad got the car and brought it to the
spot where the trail met the main road...and we rode the mules out to the
car.  If I walked .still, as much as we did in those days , I might live
to be 110 !!   Thanks for the conversations.  How I would love to be able
to sit down at quiet bench and listen to all of you tell of your
memories.
 Naoma



THIS JUST IN, EXTRA, EXTRA, EXTRA, Naoma knows how to comment. As evidenced below!!!

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't remember the year but Ken Stillwell said he saw 18 inches of snow in Garberville in 36' or 38'.

Oregon

Anonymous said...

Oops. I meant Ken Parker.

Oregon

Ernie Branscomb said...

My mother knows all mabout this stuff, but she is busy being shy.

Anonymous said...

Naoma,
I remember the years you were talking about the snow, it was 18inches in Laytonville where I lived at the time and the Jack Rabbits were running around on top of the snow and chewing the bark off of the pear trees in the 0rchard to get something to eat as everything was covered with snow.
Elsie (Ernie's mom)

Ross Sherburn said...

i have pictures of snow in Laytonville about 1954,just off "Branscomb" road!!! BUT IT WAS JUST A "SKIFF" OF SNOW!

Anonymous said...

Joseph,
I was going to school in Willits when Sea Bicuit was still racing at the time. He was still at the Ridgewood Ranch.

Whenever he raced it was exciting times in Willits.

Elsie

Ross SHERBURN said...

i'd rather hear about the twin girls at the soda fountain!!!

suzy blah blah said...

-- everyone rushed out to greet him the skis slid right out from under him
and he fell flat on his back.


LOL! --classic.

Anonymous said...

Suzy,i was chasin' Horse Lizards between G'ville&Benbow,before you were born!!

suzy blah blah said...

-i know all about that, it's caused by yakking too much, probably tellin old lizard tales. Suzy gargles with apple cider vinegar, cayenne, and honey. and i always keep some throat lozenges in the glove.

Anonymous said...

Hello "Ernie's Mom" Please tell Ernie some of your experiences...they must not be lost. Since T.V. , texting, etc. the young folks don't have any idea of what life was {once apon a time ago"). No longer does one have "quiet times" to sit around and talk. Even now a youngster doesn't know how to sit quiet at dusk and listen to the night sounds start up...nor to hear the dawn awakening. Our youngsters are getting deaf from from "boom boxes" and all they can think of is "Wheelies" and burning "rubber" off the tires. They are born to noise and action. Blessings to the people that open up their farms so youngsters can see where their groceries really come from!!! Please do share your experiences. Thanks, Naomaredger

Idaho said...

Ladies, I am quite curious how you folks kept meat from spoiling back then before refridgeration. I am sneaking a warm weather question onto a cold storyline, pardon me. Beside some canning, was meat stored heavily salted, or?

How Indians kept all their smoked meats and provisions from molding has always baffled me.

Joseph said...

Around here in Pennsylvania, in addition to salting meat, some people had spring houses. It is not hard to find them. But I was also thinking the past few days about the Latsha Place, up by Panther Gap, which Carlo Mazonne-Clementi bought and set up his Dell-Arte summer drama workshops. There was a great spring there, and the water that came from the springs along Cold Spring Ridge was about 37 degrees. When the Latshas lived there, they had a spring house built over a big spring. It was very effective. As I look back, I think my Dad's enduring anger over losing that land was mostly that he had intended to make use of that spring, perhaps for its value as a cooler site. If I remember correctly, the spring was shaded by some really big pepperwood trees. As I'm sure most of you can imagine, it was a great place to be on a hot summer day.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Idaho
I asked Mom about what they did about not having refrigeration. She is suddenly shy again about doing a comment, so I'm doing it for her. It's amazing how helpless little-ol-ladies can be if they can get somebody else to do things for them.

She said that the produce was left in the garden, and only picked when it was needed for the most part. Some of the produce was pickled or canned in fruit jars. The potatoes and root crops were stored in root cellars.

The meat that they ate on the homestead was mostly pork and chicken. She said that sometimes they decided at the last minute to have chicken. They would just go out in the yard, grab a chicken, chop its head off clean and pluck it and cook it up, no big deal. The pork was mostly cured and smoked in the smokehouse, where it stayed until eaten. The pork hams and shoulders were cured with salt, sugar, and potassium nitrate. (Salt Petre) They injected that solution around the bone and into the joints to keep in from “souring“. The smaller cuts of meat were ground up and made into link sausage with the sheep gut that they kept salt cured and dried. They soaked it up and rinsed it before stuffing it with seasoned pork. The pork fat was rendered out and used for baking, frying and any other thing that fat was used for. Sausage was often fried up and placed in a crock, hot pork fat was poured over it and left to harden, the sausage would last all winter that way.



The beef was used mostly for milk cows, if the cows had a male calf it was made into a steer, and fattened. When it was about a year old in the fall, when it cooled off, they would butcher it. The meat would have to age at least a week to tenderize and give it a better flavor. After that it was cut into steaks and the whole family would stuff themselves with fresh cooked beef. The rest of the beef was canned in fruit jars, with a little salt pepper, and a slice of onion, and a piece of garlic. Yum, that was good stuff! It was warmed up added to a corn starch gravy and served over potatoes. Yum, Yum!

Sometimes some of the beef was “corned”. It was soaked several times in a potassium Nitrate solution and all of the blood was rinsed out. It would last a long time that way. It was then stewed up with carrots, potatoes, and cabbage. Yum, yum, yum!

You should have some of my families sausage recipes!!!

Fish were caught fresh in the creeks and cured and smoked in the smokehouse. The fish just stayed there until eaten, which wasn’t long. Most of the old-timers had a favorite recipe for smoked fish and there was always arguments over whose was the best. Now, I hope that my mom is happy that I did this post for her!

Oops! I just accidentally shot my refrigerator. Oh well, accidents happen.

Ernie Branscomb said...

My mother also has a story about the lake in Laytonville that froze over and people were ice skating on it. Robin shelley and Spyrock are very familiar with that lake. Did you ever see it frozen over Robin?

Idaho said...

Thanks for taking the time for a thorough answer Ernie. The smokehouse was a storage location I hadn't thought of.
I don't mean to intimidate with questions, but, what greens did you grow Ernie, or Elsie!

Ernie Branscomb said...

Well, Mom's gone to bed. but I can answer that. Steamed beet greens served with sliced beets was/is one of Mom's favorites. They grew Swiss chard, all kinds of lettuce, green and red leaf, iceberg. They grew tons of cabbage, and cole-slaw was a fave dish on the farm. They grew parsley, which I have no idea why. We used to eat a little fresh right out of the garden, but that was about it.

While I'm on a roll, my grandmother, my mother, and my whole family worked a lot in the garden. The garden was always open to people that needed or wanted vegetables. I don't remember anyone abusing the privilege.

But, there was hardly a thing that couldn't be found in the family garden. We don't have enough room in this comment to describe it, but I know now how precious it was. Everything was watered with spring water and all of the fertilizers were right off the farm. My family knew just how much to use and when. It was a totally organic farm before anybody knew what “organic” was.

Idaho said...

That's so cool Ernie, you are indeed fortunate to have that experience. It is amazing how much food a garden can grow.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Ernie for telling us about your mom's garden!! Keep her talking Please!! Also, there was "coolers". a slatted woodOrange box attatched to a tree ( or house ) a hinged slatted door on it and a "gunny sack" ( burlap potato sack) spread and wrapped around it with a drip system of a dish pan with holes punched in it and water that slowly dripped out of the pan onto the sack and the cool air and water kept the butter cool and other stuff cool , not cold but kept it from getting rancid. Also a good leafy tree to hang the meat out over night...be sure to get it before the flies found it...and fresh live chickens, like you said.. I still think that chicken and fish should be as fresh as possible. I hated to see Grandpa kill a chicken. He held the wings to keep it from flopping and then let it go...Flop,Flop, Flop all the way down the slope until it hit the fence. Gram would put it in the boiling water and pluck it ect. When we had our own farm in Siskiyou Co. I had to take the ax and do some of that myself...no fun. Oh, some of you may be interested in an Indian way to use all the parts of a deer. Seperate all the muscle meat from the bone. Find the grain...strip off all the striffling..cut into 1/4 " slices...wash in water until the water runs clear. Dredge in salted and peppered flour ( a little garlic too ) and chicken fry in about 1/2 cup of Vegatable oil. Turn only once as it browns. Brown on both sides.Don't overcook!! It is work and patience. Also...don't forget Jerky. !!! Use a screen over the pit and good smoke , ( Madrone, Mahogany green fir green oak).Keep the flies away! Serve up a good plate of fried venison and you will come around for more.!! Without water no homestead was worth it's salt...no wonder there was "water wars"..in the hill everyone had to have a good spring. One had to be careful in digging inta a "Spring" it could fowl up the whole water supply, even change the direction of the flow. I can remember Joe's mother having to load 50 gallon drums into the car ( later truck) and fill by hand from the "wattering trough spring ) that Joe's dad had built along the upper road on the way to the Motttole Road. Naoma

Anonymous said...

I reread about the venison...forgot to say that the meat must be cut Cross Grain. The Grain and washing are the key to tender bites of the meat. Naoma

Idaho said...

Naoma you are the new "belle of the blog", move over, SBB.
.. Thanks so much for answering my question about keeping food cool...I did learn some new things, and a new word...striffling...that was very informative. You are a great source of stories. It would seem like all that meat hanging around would bring in the predators, did your dogs protect the place for you?

Anonymous said...

Idaho...I think the word is strifning..that white stringy stuff around the musule meat...Ho my...how I need the "spell" connection!! My "Smarts" aren't like Joe's. Any way , Sharp knife, like a skinning knife..cuts away the white thin stuff and doesn't waste any meat. Like I said, the grain and washing are important...just like a roast cutting across the grain makes it more tender. Naoma

Anonymous said...

Oh Idaho...don't forget these were the days of the "depression" A large family did not keep a deer too long " hanging" around..It was eaten or canned. A black tail is smaller than a "Mule deer" and both are smaller than a steer. And also....there was the big blocks of ice...I can't remember my folks buying ice at "the Ranch" or using it. It was thrill when Gramp was able to get Gram the Servil gas referater...and also a white gas iron....it was the "sad irons" then. Gram taught me to use those and how to keep them hot, but she wouldn't let me use the gas iron. Hey!!! do any of you gals remember baking an Angel Food Cake with a Wood Stove???? I had a delicious flat one when I forgot the stove needed to be kept full of wood!!! Odd , for some reason it was about an inch thick!! Naoma

olmanriver said...

This is as good as it gets!

Robin Shelley said...

The lake freezing over was before my time, Ernie. I think I've mentioned here before that my dad rode his horse onto the frozen lake. Must've been in the 1950s.

Dave Kirby said...

Everett Tosten told me that he and his brother Gordon had walked across the frozen south fork to Miranda when they were kids in the thirties. As I recall it was "33". I think that was the famous "year without summer ". One way to preserve pork was to put alternating layers of meat and lard in a barrel making sure the meat was totally covered with lard. This method I believe was fairly common among German immigrants.

Anonymous said...

I laugh when I read that your dad rode his horse onto the frozen lake Robin. I know you dad is smarter than that. Must have been the neighbors horse. LOL

Oregon

Anonymous said...

By the way folks, I guess this has been a mild winter here in Yakima County, WA. but for the first time in my life I saw a frozen river. I ain't kiddin' either. Saw it with my own eyes. I've seen this before on TV and pictures but this was the Yakima River close to where I live. I will take pictures next winter.

Oregon

Anonymous said...

I was told by an old timer that they cooled their meat by hanging it into their well hole, since the well was always cold. And, in 2000 we visited the ranch where my mother lived in her young teens, to the south of Farley Peak. As we hiked around she showed us the remains of a storage built into the side of the hill by the Groscups, for a root cellar. Kewl...

Cousin

Anonymous said...

We had a very cold winter in Laytonville around 1990. Everyone's water pipes froze and broke, and the seasonal creek and waterfall on our property froze solid. It was most beautiful and awesome. I have photographs but don't know how to post them. Can you imagine the water freezing as it flowed over the rocks. Such a beautiful greenish white color. There's also a medium sized lake on the property that was frozen hard enough for the kids to walk on, however they weren't allowed to go out too far. I believe the temp was about 6 degrees over Thanksgiving that year. Ern, mom was living in your mother's house at that time.

I believe that it was in the 30s when the snow got so deep in the mountains that the train got stuck on it's way north, and they had to go rescue the animals within.

Cousin

Idaho said...

In 22 years of going up and down highway 101, Long Valley has always reminded me of a Colorado valley and seems to attract that kind of weather.

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