More on Deck Andrews

Continuing with Gerald Nathan Hodgson’s Northwest family narrative, with thanks to Michael Howard Hodgson:

Deck had a reputation for being a hard man to get along with and people warned Dad that he wouldn’t stay there long. However, Dad demonstrated both physical strength and personal independence from the start and Deck was more considerate toward him than he might have been otherwise; also Dad took pride in doing a full day’s work and doing it well. there are two other incidents abut Deck that I will mention:

Deck had made a deal with a cattle buyer to deliver to the railway stockyard a certain number of cattle at a certain price. He had business in Chicago and since the deal had been made he took the train out, leaving Dad to deliver the cattle and receive the check. Dad (about seventeen years old at the time) delivered the cattle, but when the check was offered, he found it was made out for much less than the agreed on price. Although some older men who were around advised him to take the check he refused and went home. He knew Deck was supposed to be home and that they couldn’t ship the cattle out till around noon the next day. Deck got home and Dad explained. Deck asked Dad, “What would you have done if I hadn’t got home?” Dad says, “I’d have gone to the station agent and had the car stopped till payment was made.” Deck says, “Wal, I don’t know now, but I’ll go in the morning early and talk to old Cal.”

Cal was his brother and a lawyer. So Deck went to town the next morning and returned later in high good humor. “You know, Old Cal told me to do just to same thing you did. I went to the station agent first then bought a newspaper and sat in the hotel lobby till the buyer came to look for me, The buyer came up — all sweetness and apologies and gave me a check for the agreed amount.” The buyer would have had to have released the cattle if he hadn’t paid and the railroad would have charged him for the car just the same — also demurrage, if he had delayed.


Lessons in language

Continuing with Gerald Nathan Hodgson’s Northwest family narrative, with thanks to Michael Howard Hodgson:

Deck Andrews was an awfully profane man — as habit of conversation. One time they had a big threshing crew at the place with many teams or horses. They came in from the field late after dark and found that Deck’s small children had got into the barn during the day and carried off all the halters so that the crew couldn’t put the horses away for the night and were all doubtless hungry and tired. Deck and his wife got out with lanterns and tried to find the halters. Deck was raving and what the “little sons-a-bitches” had done with the halters. His wife said, “Dexter, I’m not going to take that! Those kids are just as much yours as mine!”

“Wal, hal, Jen,” he says, “You know I didn’t mean it that way!”

He later got religion and then really had problems.

Foreigners who came to this country learned to swear quicker than anything else — those were the words that they heard oftenest. As in the case of a German boy who repeated another man word for word as he chased the geese out of the horse trough.

Working as a farmhand

Continuing with Gerald Nathan Hodgson’s Northwest family narrative, with thanks to Michael Howard Hodgson:

Dad worked for a lot of different farmers during his lifetime, for brief periods at least. There was one middle-aged German married to a thirteen year old girl. The people he worked for the longest was a man named Bly and another named Dexter (Deck) Andrews. Andrews was a hard working and parsimonious farmer who had married a prosperous wife. He had a well grown family. Dad remembered his employers, their wives, their daughters, and their hired help. Evidently, there were not many sons around. once did mention one spoiled young brat that was a nuisance. At one place, I remember, they ate real well whenever the daughters were at home and made up for it later.

I remember a number of things that he told of his work at Deck Andrews’ place. There was the time that Deck brought home a full barrel of Sorghum molasses. They got it off the wagon somehow – on the porch, perhaps; but then there was the problem of getting it into the house. Dad suggested that they get on opposite sides of the barrel and left. Deck says, “Wal maybe, but if I say set’ er down, set’ er down!” They tried lifting on it but they had scarcely got it raised when old Deck’s knees started to shake and he yelled “Set’er down.” So they had to Scoop out the thick sticky stuff into other containers until the barrel was light enough for Deck to lift it. Later peck, who was a tall skinny guy, was kidding Dad about not being able to reach as high as he could well, Dad says, “There’s no advantage in being able to reach if you can’t lift ,it up there..”

Deck had little aptitude for machinery and preferred to let the hired man use it. He bought a new horse mower. He had hardly got it home when a neighbor borrowed it — used it a while and brought it home with a plate missing that holds the sickle down at the base. Dad could never convince Deck that the part was missing, he said it was a new mower and it ought to work! Dad managed to mow the season’s hay with it but broke the sickle several times. Deck got the sickle welded each time but never got the missing part.

Deck (or perhaps another old farmer) went out in the field with a horse-drawn corn-planter and planted corn all of one morning before he discovered that he had no grain in the hopper. He was very embarrassed about it and remarked — “If I was a young man thinking about girls, I wouldn’t think anything about it, but an old man like me — I must be really slipping.”

More on the Iowa years

Continuing with Gerald Nathan Hodgson’s Northwest family narrative, with thanks to Michael Howard Hodgson:

The Hubbard-Eldora area where Dad grew up is in central Iowa. Present population – Eldora (pop. 3225) — Hubbard (pop. 806). Marshalltown to the, south, Waterloo east, Iowa Falls north, and Webster City west. Union (pop. 534) — Mom’s birthplace. other places that they commonly mentioned are Gifford, New Providence, Bangor, Clemons (pop. 198) and Radcliffe (pop. 615). Dad’s next place of employment, that I remember, was at the Moores (Dad pronounced their name with the ‘s’ added). They were childless, I think. He called the woman Lid. There was little girl who worked there also named Maggie Putney. Dad was about 13 or 14 and Maggie perhaps a little younger. The Moores were not a very moral couple and had a certain perverse sense of humor, They put Dad and Maggie to bed in opposite ends of an attic room. They were both of them just kids and I doubt if there was much attraction between them. Nevertheless, the Moores tried to talk up a future marriage between them. They gave them a “song and dance” about semi-adopting them and giving them a start in life (that, is, a team and “wagon and a set of household goods) once they were old enough to marry. He and the girl discussed the proposition at night across the attic. Maggie thought it might be all right but Dad talked it down. He said it was too far in the future and nobody could tell what might happen in between.

Dad had had what was for him a bitterly memorable experience at an earlier age which doubtless had helped to influence his judgment. Grandad at that time had a pair of nice driving horses — one of them a mare named Flory (Flora?) — both Mom and Dad normally mispronounced names — Ida (ldie) — Palmer (Parmer), and Aunt Kate used to call Myron, Maryon. [Dad’s] parents made a deal with him that if he would get in the wood and kindling each night and build the fires in the morning for a certain amount of time he could have Flory as his own. The other horse died and his father traded Flory off for an old horse and a blind mule.

The only other thing that I remember Dad saying about the Moores was the time he was left alone on the place with just Lid. She asked him to sleep with her — literally. He was still “just a boy” and refused. As he put it — “She sure embarrassed the hell out of me.” Although Dad tended to boast in later years of the wide ranging sex life of his young manhood, I don’t remember him ever claiming more than conversational intimacy with another man’s wife.

Eldora had something of a Wild West look.