Life on the prairie

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

The cold winds, snows and blizzards of the prairie states very much a part of the memories of both my parents. School was mostly reserved for winter and one reason Mom got more schooling was because her father sometimes loaded up the children in a Sled and hauled them to school behind a team of horses.

Mom was once a fairly close observer of a tornado in action. She was in school at the time she saw it — they called them cyclones. Dad was never involved in one but heard many stories from people who had been. An example: a man was caught out in open country with a team and buggy. I think the horse survived, but the buggy was torn to pieces. The man laid down on the ground with his arms around a fence post. He managed to hang on till the storm was past but the wind picked him up and dropped him repeatedly. The cyclone cellar was a common part of the scenery.

When Mom was about 18, her family, including herself joined the Society of Friends (Quakers).

I don’t remember how Mom and Dad happened to meet, through mutual friends at a dance, perhaps, or at a ‘playparty’ where people danced to vocal music such as ‘Skip-to-ma-loo My Darling’. Morm had had one boyfriend before — a young fellow named Sweet.

After their marriage, Dad went in for farm rental and sharecropping and I gather with little more success than Grandad had.

I remember a story he told about an extremely wet day in early spring when it wouldn’t have been practical to work in the field if one had been disposed to. At the time, Dad lived close to a river where there was a bridge so he took a fishing pole down under the bridge and spent most of the day fishing. As it happened, a neighbor drover over the bridge on his way to town and saw Dad there fishing and on his way home he went out of his way to stop and tell “Old ‘Lias” that his son was out wasting his time fishing before he had his spring crop planted. He got Grandad so excited that he came several miles afoot to tell Dad the error of his ways. Dad was pretty burned up about it and told Grandad that the neighbor was no ripsnorter for work and the chances were he would be through with his spring work before the neighbor was.

Another fish story that he told was of driving along a river that had shrunk from floodstage to a lower level, leaving a large school of pickerel stranded in a small side pool. He noticed them somehow and pitched out a few with a shovel, but as he was going away from home he left the rest until he came back — someone else cleaned out the pool, though, before he got there.

In the fall of 1896, Dad had a share in an enormous corn crop which could scarcely be given away.


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