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.

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