The winter we were living on the Merrill place I hitched up the iron gray team. Burt and Duke, and hauled a load of wood. Francis had come over and he was helping me unload the wood. I was working just behind Duke’s single tree when I felt a brush on both sides of me and I ask Francis, “did Duke kick at me?” He said, “He sure did and a foot went on each side of you as slick as a whistle,” and he had a good laugh.
My wife’s relatives lived with us for quite a while, especially her younger sister, Melva and her brother Harold. Her dad was with us for a while, too.
While living on this same place I got up one Sunday morning, it must have been in January or February and the day seemed so sunny and warm that I decided to air out the potato cellar. We had been in Church for a while when I looked out of the window and saw they were frosting up. It was getting cold and I saw a blizzard coming. I left church and hurried home. I shut the doors and put some heat down there. If I had been much longer everything in the cellar would have been frozen. This is an example of how quickly the weather changed in Montana. Some times in the winter it could be really cold when you went to bed and when you got up a Chinook wind would have melted almost all of the snow.
Francis had been living on the Leo Morgan place, but because of this terrible depression he couldn’t make payments so the bank decided to foreclose. They took back the place and sold everything Francis had; and because I had signed with him, they took everything I had too. I asked the bank to sell things on time because people didn’t have money. If they could have had easy payments people would have paid more for out things.
Between Francis and I, we had at least $10,000 in stock and cattle besides the place. They sold out the whole thing for $1,006. A flock of sheep sold for $2.00 a head; big short horned cattle sold for around $15.00 each; a very good four section harrow and a completely overhauled hay stacker (it cost $52.00 just to overhaul it) sold for $6.00 apiece. Then they wanted us to pay the balance of $4,000. We couldn’t, so they sold the note to a Mr. Harbolt in Chinook. About two years later he sold it to Francis and me for $200 cash. We paid it, not because we thought we owed it, but just because we wanted to clear our names.
Franklin D. Roosevelt had been elected President and he started doing things to help the people get back on their feet, such as the NRA (National Recovery Service) and the PWA (Public Works Administration). I went to work for the NRA with a four horse team building reservoirs. The money I earned saved us from starving and going without clothing. The full account of this experience is to be found in the history in the history of Lillian Alcorn Rowley’s life.
Well, after losing all we had in the Leo Morgan episode, we moved back on the farm with the folks. We were better off because I was working on the NRA nine days a month, the rest of the time I could help Dad, trap and such. I was paid $11, a day and I must say that was the biggest money I ever saw I was most grateful for it and it seems like we made it go a long ways.
To be continued…