About this time, the school district was also formed and a new school house was built at the “Forks.” It was a large, one room, frame building with a blackboard all along the north side of the room and three large windows on the south side. There was one door and two windows on the east and one door on the west. It was here that all the dances were held, dancing to the fiddle and the organ. Always during the evening there was time out for one or two numbers from the “step dancers” to show their skill. During the intermission, Grace and Verda May often sang a number or two of the songs which were so popular during these years and which were not the old-time songs.
The years of 1917-1918 were the time of the “Spanish Influenza” epidemic. Very few families escaped having it and the Rowley family was no exception. Hugh Thompson was the first one to get sick, then the two younger boys and Verda May became ill. Hugh Francis and David William were away on a hunting trip and when they came home, Grace wouldn’t let them come in but talked to them through the window. They stayed with a neighbor and took care of the night and morning chores, and also the other family needs. Hugh Thompson was very ill with the flu, while Emerson Adis, Walter Ilith and Verda May had it in lesser degrees. Grace took care of all of them until Hugh Thompson was better and could see that she too was ill. Hugh Thompson told the boys to phone the doctor and have him come and take his wife to the hospital. Hugh Thompson then managed with the rest of them. They lived on onion sandwiches and hot toddies. It was quite a menu, but they survived. It was during this epidemic that Grace lost her Grandmother (Hannah Terrell) in 1918. It was a wonder that Grace didn’t get it sooner as she was always going to the aid of others, regardless of how she felt. Verda May can still remember the little white masks, saturated with antiseptic, that everyone wore over their faces when around any illness.
One Saturday, Grace and Hugh Thompson were going to Idaho Falls to do some shopping. Verda May got permission to go horseback riding. Emerson Adis and Walter Ilith were going along with Verda May and her girlfriend. The boys were riding a work horse and Margaret and Verda May were riding a former racehorse which was almost a razorback. Contrary to instructions, they used a saddle. When they started for home, the boys went ahead of them as the girls had stopped to tighten up the cinch, which felt loose. In turning the corner, the cinch broke and they were thrown to the ground, Margaret landing on top of Verda May. The boys and a neighbor caught the horse, which had stopped running when he caught up with the other horse, and brought him back to the girls and they rode him home — minus the saddle. When Grace returned home, one look at Verda May’s swollen face and she knew her daughter had disobeyed. Verda May acknowledged what she had done and Grace felt she had been punished enough. Verda May soon recovered, but her mental anguish made her vow then and there that whatever she suffered in the future would not be for disobedience to her parents.
To be continued…