Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer was soon over and time to go home. Only two eventful things happened on the way home. I came home the northern route. I was wearing Southern California clothes and as we went over one of those mountain passes in Colorado, I think I would have frozen if a brake man had not felt sorry for us and opened a box car for us. The other time was in KC. I was sleeping in the ice compartment of a refrigerator car when I was awakened by someone yelling, "Do you want me to throw this ice down on you?"

I arrived home three days after school started.

I forgot to tell you about the summer of 1934. School got out a little earlier than it does now. As soon as school was out I started working, plowing a river bottom farm in preparation to plant corn. This field was large enough that it took an hour or more to plow around it. Of course, that steel wheeled Farmall didn't move very fast pulling two 14" plows. I had never driven anything except a Model "T" before. Spain Armstrong, the owner, had plowed the first furrow around the field. He said, "Just keep your right wheel in the furrow and keep going until 6 o'clock tonight when you will be relieved by a driver who will drive until 6 o'clock in the morning." The only thing that tractor stopped for was fuel and to change drivers. We were over a week getting this field ready to plant. My job here was done. I was paid ten cents per hour which was the same family men were getting at the stone crusher and they did not sit down. When I finished this job I went to work for Dale Anderson clearing buck brush from his farm. There were no bush hogs in those days. Six or eight men and boys (I thought I was a man then because I did as much or more work than any one on the crew) would line up with grubbing hoe in hand and work our way across the field digging out buck brush by the roots. Sometime during the summer I was taken off this crew and put to helping an old man (about the age of dad) who was building a stone fence on the farm. I don't know what this fence enclosed, unless it was an old cemetery, although I don't remember seeing any grave stones. Mr. Anderson paid us $.75 cents a day for ten hours work. I never had a five dollar bill in my hand all summer.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

...They lived about a block from a restaurant they ran on the corner of Holliston and Green. After cleaning up and changing clothes, they took me to see Dale. He was running a small gas station up in the hills of La Canada. He had an army cot and a hot plate and was living in the station. I came home with Dale's friends and spent the night with them. The next day I found an older couple who rented me a sleeping room and three meals a day for seven dollars a week. The same day I got a job in a car wash which joined the restaurant. This wash consisted of a building with a large circular moving track about eight feet wide with approximately five foot aisles on each side. The track, when full, would hold fifteen to twenty cars. My job was to chamois dry the side next to me, put the chamois in a washing machine in my area, get out two (one for each hand) clean ones, run them through the wringer, and dry the next car. We were paid by the car. I made $18.00 to $25.00 a week. I worked two or three weeks and saved $25.00 to make a down payment on a 1928 Chevy Roadster.

During this time, Dale had traded his station for a four room house with gas pumps in the front. I moved in with him and drove to work. I would get out and drive around on Sundays. The only places of importance I remember is going to the national Air Races in LA and going aboard the battleship USS Pennsylvania anchored off San Diego.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

While living on the farm I graduated from Shawswick High School majoring in math. My buddy and I cut wood with a cross cut saw evenings and Saturdays for spending money. During the summer of 1935, I dug mussels from the river, walking from the river to home and back, sometimes camping where I cooked out the shells. As soon as school was out in 1936, I headed for California where my buddy had gone the year before. I had to promise mom and dad I would come back in the fall and finish school before they would give me permission to go.

Mom sewed a pocket in the waist band of my boxer shorts where I had ten dollars. I packed a duffel bag with a couple extra pairs of pants, underwear, socks and a razor, and was ready to go.

I started out hitch hiking and by mid-afternoon was in Washington, Indiana, forty miles from home. I decided I would never make it at this rate so I went to the B&O railroad yards and hopped a freight train to St. Louis. I had ridden trains before. Some of the neighborhood boys had ridden trains to the Indy 500, the State Fair, the Kentucky Derby and several trips to the races at Salem. I knew a train always stopped before crossing another line's tracks. I knew that if the engine was flying white flags she was heading down the line and not a local that would leave me stranded in the middle of nowhere. I knew to get in a box car if I could. They were cleaner and warmer. I also knew if I had to catch a train on the run, to catch the ladder at the front of the car in case I lost my grip because I would bounce off the side of the car and not fall between them or under the wheels.

I got in an empty box car in Washington, Indiana, and was on my way again. I was awakened in East St. Louis, Illinois, by a RR worker shining a light in my face and ordering me off the Railroad property. As I left the yards, I met another young man in his early twenties who was also headed west. We decided we would have a better chance picking up a train on the other side of the river. We walked across the bridge and was walking down the street when the cops stopped us. After emptying my duffel bag and no gun or knife was found, they told us the Missouri Pacific yards were at the end of the street we were on and that we could catch a train west there, but for us not to stop until we got there. By the time we reached the yards it was midnight. We found a clearing by a small stream where we laid down and went to sleep.

We awoke about day break. I saw a building a few blocks in the distance that had "Bakery" written on the side. I knew our breakfast was waiting. My knew traveling buddy carried coffee grounds in his pocket. He would make coffee while I was gone. I had learned how to eat on the road long before. Back then there were neighborhood meat markets. One could go into one of these meat markets and ask for a bologna heel (the first cut from a roll of bologna that people wouldn't buy) and the butcher would give it to you. If he had to cut a new stick, sometimes he would cut it a little heavy. Bakers would give you day old bread and pastries. I came back with a large bag of sweet rolls. He had the coffee ready. He had found a suitable can, got water from the stream (this was before all the pollution we have now and one could drink from most any stream you came across) and boiled it over a small fire he had built. From here we got a ride to Texarkana, Arkansas, then to Ft. Worth and El Paso, Texas, Yuma, Arizona and to Needles, California. Water was the hardest thing to come by. A restaurant would not give you water unless you bought something. While we were riding we could usually find a refrigerated car and get ice. In those days a refrigerated car had a space about four feet wide across each end of the car for ice. They had doors about two feet square they used for filling the ice and we used for climbing into the ice compartment when we found one empty. It was one of these ice chests I was riding in when I arrived in Needles. At this time California was trying to keep all transits out. They would pick up hitch hikers and would "shake down" trains coming into the state. They overlooked me and one other fellow I met on the street shortly after getting off. I went to a gas station to use the restroom and while there overheard a fellow who had a truck load of cantaloupes and a broken axle. He was waiting for another truck to transfer his load for a ride to LA. He was as happy as I, for the temperature was over 100 degrees. We arrived at the market shortly after midnight. I don't know where he spent the rest of the night but he let me sleep in his truck until morning. I took a street car from LA to Pasadena. Here I located friends of my buddy, Dale Cooper....

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

In the early fall of 1931, we moved to Bedford, Indiana. Mr. Pittman, who was renting room to Mom's two sisters, Helen and Nancy, put us on a small 37 acre farm he had bought southeast of town. It was Dad's understanding (there was no paperwork) he was to take care of the place for his rent. We cleaned out the property lines and built woven wire fences around the farm and cross fences dividing the place into four, approximately even parts, Mr. Pittman furnishing the material and us the labor. Dad bought a cow for milk. The cow gave more milk than we could use so he bought a pig to help get rid of the milk and to butcher in the fall. Mr. Pittman was out most every weekend checking on his investment. When he saw us raising that pig on surplus milk and a little ground corn, dollar signs began to flash in his eyes. We should have another cow, three breed brood sows, purebred, of course. This called for a new barn and a tractor to till the land for corn and hay. Dad was working on WPA (Works Progress Administration) at the time and with the farm was quite busy. This happened gradually over a period of five to seven years. When dad finally found out what was going on, he took Mr. Pittman a check for a load of hogs and Mr. Pittman gave him a receipt. Dad asked what that was for and was told it was on his account. When the truth came out, Mr. Pittman was charging dad for every penny he was putting into the farm, while dad was thinking all the time he was just paying high rent. Mom and Dad soon moved to town.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Eastman Kodak was giving every boy that was twelve in July this year a new Box camera. I don't know how I got to town (Terre Haute) to pick it up, but I do remember keeping and using it for several years. It was during my sixth grade, at Glenn, that I learned to like and appreciate math. We had a teacher by the name of Combs who had his left arm off at the elbow. He had a way of teaching math that all his students learned and liked. Math has been my favorite subject since then.

It seemed times got harder by each day. Dad worked for the grocery store owner to buy what we couldn't raise. Mom did ironing for some school teachers. I had a paper route. But we couldn't raise enough money to make payments on the mortgage on the difference when he traded homes. At this time you could live in your home for a year after foreclosure while you tried to redeem it. This was just a year's free rent because there was no money and everyone knew it. A few days before we were to be set out we found a house in Seelyville, a few miles east, owned by a widow who let us live in it just to keep it from sitting empty. We lived here one summer and about a month or so after school started.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

We moved from New Castle to Glenair, a small coal mining community about eight miles east of Terre Haute, Indiana. Dad had traded his place in Clinton on three acres and an eight room house here. Here we really had some hard times. We raised a big garden and picked berries that mom canned. We picked strawberries, apples and peaches and took fruit for wages. We picked up enough coal that had fallen off coal trains to keep us warm through the winter. We lucked out on coal many times. I had a morning paper route and had to go to the Inter "Unban Line" (a large street car that ran from Terre Haute to Brazil). They would throw my bundles off for me to deliver. There was a rail line that went back to the mine about two miles away. They would park a line of coal cars on this track I passed every morning. When I would see parked cars, I would check them out for coal that had hung to the car. When I would find coal, I would inform dad before I passed my papers. Many times we would find four or five hundred pounds this way.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

It is now 1925 and John Lewis is stirring up trouble among coal miners, encouraging them to strike against their employers. He had son pitted against father, brother against brother, and neighbor against neighbor. He eventually persuaded enough men to strike that they spent more time on strike than they did in the mines and as a result, Clinton died. These strikes affected dad's business in two ways. One, the people either did not have the money for decorating or at least were afraid to spend it. Two, as soon as the miners would "go out" many of them would pick up a paint brush and work for less than dad did. If dad would go to the mine and offer to work for the going wage, these same minors who were undercutting him called him "scab". Anyone who tried to work in the mines were subject to beatings, arson, and sometimes murder. The attitude of union men has not changed in seventy-five years. If a plant is struck today, many of the workers will pick up a paint brush or saw and hammer and work for less than a tradesman and call the man whose job he takes a "scab" if he tries to work in the plant being struck.

It is now November 1925. Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is a boom town. One of the church members and dad decide to move their families to Florida. Dad was driving the lead car, a Model T touring car, with mom and Dorothy riding with him. I, with the other two children, were with the friend following dad. The only thing I remember of this trip was at an intersection in Rushville, Indiana. I saw dad's car laying in its top with the wheels spinning. Now some quick decisions had to be made. Mom and us four kids were put on a train or maybe a bus to mom's sister in Bedford, Indiana. Dad went ahead with the friend to Florida where he worked for some time.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Our Aunt lived on 21st Street between "N" and "O" Streets. At the time, 21st Street was an unimpressive crushed stone street. We walked to school at "Central", a red brick building on 16Th Street between "N" and "O". During the spring and summer of 1926, 21st was paved with concrete. The grading was done with pick and shovel. The excess dirt was shoveled into a box (approximately one yard capacity) on the back of a stripped down Model T Ford. They dumped this dirt around my Aunt's basement walls. The house was street level but due to the slope of the land, most of the walls were exposed. The concrete mix, sand, and crushed stone was shoveled from the back of one of the small trucks into a hopper on the ground then winched up and dumped into a rotating drum, turned by a gas engine, where water was added. Then the mixture was dumped on the street where it was leveled off by a crew using hand tools. The foreman took a liking to some of us kids, or maybe he felt sorry for us, but everyday he would take us to the store on Washington Avenue and let us pick out a few cents worth of candy. Another thing I remember about this summer is that the New Dixie Highway (State Road 37) Bridge was opened.

Sometime in the fall of 1926, dad returned from Florida, and got a job on a painting crew in New Castle, Indiana. At this time, New Castle was a booming auto (Chrysler) steel milling town and work was plentiful. It seems like every place dad went, the union was on his heels. In just a couple years or so they were striking Chrysler and the steel mill and scabbing dad's work. During the four years we lived in New Castle, I learned the town pretty well. I collected junk to sell, had a paper route, sold magazines and Cloverine salve house to house. I remember selling "Extra" papers on the street when Charles Lindberg crossed the Atlantic and again when Louie Meyer won the Indianapolis 500 race.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I remember us raising fryer chickens at one time. We had a nice new chicken house. At one end was an incubator where the eggs were put to hatch. Next to this was a brooder where the newly hatched were put till they grew to a certain size. These pieces of equipment were operated by Kerosene as we had no electricity. The chicken business was short lived because they got diseased and more died than were sold. We burned the dead in a four plate laundry stove and I can still smell them when I think back to this time.

My sister Eunice, brother William and sister Dorothy were born here in Fairview. The only one I remember was Dorothy. Mom's fourteen year old brother was staying with us at the time and the job fell to him to keep us three children in the front yard. We saw the Doctor going in the house carrying a black bag. When he left we were allowed in and there was a new baby. Of course, we all, including my uncle, thought the doctor brought her in that little black bag.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The only thing I remember about going to worship there was I was given the job of passing out the song books and New Testaments that were kept on a lower shelf of a stand table that was also used as the communion table. I was also allowed to hang onto the end of the bell rope as it was being rung. At this time I was seven years old. Families sat together. The best I can remember were there was a minimum of six families I can remember by name. There could have been more as the building was a fair sized little building. They didn't have a fall time preacher. Different men would read a scripture or give a short talk. When prayer was had, everyone got on their knees. Services were quite long then as compared to now, but no one seemed to mind, as that is what they were used to and they did go to learn. Where as now I wonder why most people go, that do.

I went (walked) to school here my first year and from the beginning of my second year until November. The only education I remember was not too pleasant. My sister Eunice started her first year when I started my second. I know this was her idea because I did not do this during my first year...we would go to a grocery store across the street from school and buy candy on dad's grocery bill. This practice lasted only one week as dad paid his bill weekly. Our education was with a razor strap instead of a pencil and paper. That's why we remember it so well.

As I said before we had no running water so dad shaved in the kitchen. We had a medicine cabinet on the wall between the kitchen and bedroom. He used the mirror on this cabinet to see to shave. He used a straight razor and had two razor straps hanging on the door trim next to the mirror. If dad wanted to teach us something we were not to forget, he always used this strap (mom used a switch). Before he would whip us he would take these two straps by the ends and separate them by pushing the ends toward each other then jerk them apart making a loud pop. This popping really scared us more than the strap on our bottoms hurt but it did get the message across.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Another memory I have is of the public well at the end of the street. There was no running water or electricity in town and those who did not have wells of their own carried water from the well. Wells in this area were dug by hand to a depth of 25-50 feet, the top was covered with heavy boards and water was drawn by bucket and rope or a hand pump. This one had a hand pump. I probably would not remember this well if some neighborhood boys had not thrown a snake and some frogs into it. I remember dad and some neighbor men cleaning them out. A rope was tied around one man's waist (I don't remember which man) and let down by the other two men.

Dad carried the water before and after work. We had a "wash stand" which was a table about four foot square. We set two buckets of water on it. One had a long handled dipper in it for drinking and dipping water into another container. Mom also used this table for preparing food. We always, except on A Avenue in New Castle, had a garden. What we didn't eat fresh, mom canned by cold packing. I don't know where this name came from because she put a wooden rack (strips of lath) on the bottom of a copper wash boiler (an oblong container about 16"-18" deep). She set filled canning jars on this rack. The rack was to keep the jars off the bottom and absorbing heat too fast and breaking. She filled it with water just below the lids. This would boil for the required time, then lifted out with wire tongs and the lids tightened while still hot. When the contents cooled it caused a vacuum and as long as the seal was not broken the contents would keep for months, sometimes two or three years, or more.

Monday, July 19, 2010

My parents were very religious and during a gospel meeting at Stonington Church of Christ in the fall after I was born, a visiting preacher, by name, Cook, talked them into moving to Clinton, Indiana. Clinton was a booming coal mining town at the time. This gave my dad a perfect opportunity to ply his trade as an interior and exterior decorator.

They bought a small place in Fairview on the edge of Clinton where we lived until November of 1925. I remember little of those seven years. I do remember seeing my first airplane there. A WWI plane flew down the street. If you could call it that. It was composed of cinders, no curb, no side, no walks. But it did keep the horse drawn vehicles and once in awhile a model "T" from sinking axle deep in the mud. This plane flew approximately 50 feet above the street and as it passed all the towns people came out of their houses and ran down the street after it. It landed in a pasture about two blocks from our house. The towns people encircled it leaving a respectable distance between them and the plane. After the pilot climbed out and leaned against a wing, two or three of the braver men went forward and talked to him.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I, Emerson Vince Row, was born July 12,1918, in Stonington, Indiana, a small stone mill hamlet in the southeastern part of Lawrence County, to Odos Bellman Row (1886-December 6, 1969) and Grace Cletius (Akin) Row (September 30, 1893-April 23, 1973). They were married September 29, 1917.

Odos was born to William Henry Row (birth date unknown, possibly 1850 and died in 1886) and Rhoda (Krutsinger) Row (December 22, 1852-December 20, 1904). Grace was born to John Henry Akin (December 3, 1862-November 24,1934) and Dorothy (Lee) Akin (18_-December 14,1942). They were married December 27, 1888. Both are buried at Lawrenceport.

I never knew Dad's parents. They died while he was young. I know very little about Mom's parents except what I have heard. We lived away from Bedford when I was small and only saw them on rare visits.

Mom's Grandfather Addison Akin came from one of the Carolina's. The Pickett family (Mom's Grandmother's family) joined a wagon train out of Carolina headed west. Addison rode a horse. It seems he was the only Akin in the train. I don't know if he and the Pickett girl kept company before they left or if he met her on the way. Anyhow, fate brought them together. It seems as if the whole Pickett clan settled around Lawrenceport, Indiana, since I have heard Mom talk about different Uncles and Aunt Picketts.

John Henry, Mom's dad, was one of Addison's children. Mom's mother Dorothy was a Lee. I don't know anything about them except they must have been a prominent family as there was a Lee School at Stonington. John Henry was a farmer according to Nancy, Mom's sister. I never knew him to do anything except help his neighbor make apple jack and peach brandy. When I knew them they lived in a three bedroom house located where the Grissom Airport is now. The house was on the edge of a large fairly level field that has been used for an airfield for as long as I can remember.

After WWI men (boys) who were pilots during the war would acquire a surplus war plane and go about the country and take up people for a ride over town. I think they
got three dollars a person per ride. This was three days pay in those days. The plane was a biplane. It had two open cockpits and the pilot operated the plane from the rear seat, or cockpit. They were started (the engines) by one man getting hold of the propeller and spinning it by hand. I've never seen it happen, but I have heard of men losing an arm or head by not stepping back quick enough when the engine started.

The first time I remember at my Grandparents was on the 4th of July of '23,'24, or '25. There were three planes there taking up passengers. During the afternoon they put on an airshow. They would dive, roll and loop the loops. They had parachute jumps and men walking on the wings. A real good show for what they had to work with. My grand dad I thought was a little on the lazy side and liked to be babied. I remember it being told on him, he was sitting in front of the fireplace and the fire popped. Hot coals flew out into the room and he said, "Doad", a nick name Grandma went by, "Do you reckon that went down my shoe?" He always wore low top boots and when he sat down his pant legs were above his boot tops. Grandpa had chin whiskers a little longer than his hand was wide. He would sit on the front porch in a caned bottom chair. He would tilt the chair back on two legs with the top of the chair touching the house. He would stroke his beard with one hand and swat flies with the other, spitting tobacco juice once in a while, most of the time clearing the porch.

Grandma was a little on the short side and fairly plump when I first remember her. I don't think she gained weight by licking the spoons after a meal because the chickens that ate the scraps that were thrown out were never fat. But that woman could always fix up a meal out of most nothing. She made what she called "dog bread" biscuits made from flour and water, flat as a pancake but edible while hot, water gravy, actually hot wallpaper paste, and a vegetable if she had one. None of them starved. My two Uncles Lowell and Albert were living at home at that time. They would bring their girlfriends in for dinner. They didn't seem to mind. May have been they didn't have any better at home.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


This is a story that my Grandpa wrote several years ago. He wrote it with paper and pencil for his family to enjoy. Some are sad stories and some are funny stories. I will pass the stories on to you just as he wrote them with the exception of correcting spelling here or there. I don't want to change too much, then it wouldn't be his story. As I read the way he has written some of this I can almost here him telling it....

I thought this would be the best way to share it with our distant family. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!