Last updated: July 10, 2018
Our Heritage: Niobrarans and Neighbors
June 27, 2018
By Dorothy Dolce Freudenthal
My mother, Inez Ethel Voorhees was born Dec. 17, 1888 at Wessington Springs, S.D. She died Dec. 17, 1964 at Denver, Colo. She married Frank Charles Dolce on Oct. 2, 1914 at Douglas, Wyo. during State Fair with Rolla and Marie Porter, who were witnesses.
My father, Frank Dolce, was born Jan. 9, 1888 at Metlika, Austria. He died on Dec. 23, 1957 at Cody, Wyo.
They sold their homesteads to Minnie and Lawrence Butler in 1928 and left the spring of 1928 about the middle of May. They spent the summer of 1928 traveling and camping with a tent and went to Spaulding, Nebr., Hot Spring, S.D., Thermopolis, Wyo. Through Montana, Washington and Idaho, and back to Spearfish, S.D. In September, 1928 they rented a place next to the State Teachers College, where we three girls went to school at the training school at the college. They left Spearfish in March 1929, and moved to Littleton, Colo., where we three girls finished the rest of the school year.
That spring we moved to a ranch four miles out of Sedalia, Colo. which Dad bought. We lived there the summer of 1929 - the altitude was too high for Dad so he sold the place in the fall and we moved to Thermopolis, Wyo. in September 1929.
Mother, Dad, Betty and Floyd moved to the Bitter Root Valley close to Stevensville, Montana in the year 1935. They left Montana in the spring of 1940 or ‘41 and moved to Cody, Wyo. that fall. Dad was partner with Gerald Smith in a shoe shop in Cody…finally bought out Gerald.
Children: Dorothy Marie (Freudenthal), March 28, 1915; Marjorie Francis (Dumont), June 10, 1919; Betty Jo Alice, Jan. 19, 1922; Floyd Wayne, Nov. 21, 1926.
INCIDENTS THAT I ESPECIALLY REMEMBER. . . . .
A neighborhood party in the haymow of our new barn that Dad had built. The barn was still new and clean and they had a dance in the haymow. (The barn still stands.)
The prairie fires that burned down the wild hay fields on Mother’s part of the homestead. The only way the people could fight a prairie fire was by plowing a furrow to stop the fire and using gunny sacks dipped in barrels of water to beat out the flaming grass. If the neighbors saw a stream of smoke they would come as fast as they could to help put out the fire.
The terrible cold winters. . . and the wind blowing the snow to create a blizzard. Drifts piled high enough that I could reach the top of one of them from the upstairs window.
All of Dad’s horses dying with the “loco weed” poisoning. It was a slow death . . . the horse would go crazy and run into barbed wire and have cuts and would just barely be able to stand and just shake their heads in misery. Dad had to sell our car to buy mules (because they would not eat loco). From then on he used miles to do the farm work. It was another year before he could afford to buy another car, so we used a buggy and team of mules to travel with.
Mother’s first hair cut. . . .it was the fashion for the ladies to bob their hair and very daring and almost scandalous for a woman to cut her hair. My Mother had a long braid of hair hanging down her back (which she usually did up in a bun) but it was braided when she finally talked my Dad into cutting it for her. He didn’t want to do it. . so he just took the scissors and whacked the braid off and there she was with her hair hanging in different lengths. Of course later he did trim it even. You can imagine the tears that were shed by Mother because Dad didn’t cut her hair right and by Dad because he didn’t want her to cut off her “crowning glory.”
The movie house at Jay Em - - it was in an upstairs hall with wooden benches to sit on. We used to go and sit on those hard benches and see Mary Pickford movies (silent). This hall was also used for community dances . . funerals. . and any kind of public meetings.
The homesteaders led a hard life. .always up early and worked hard all day long. But my Dad would never work on Sunday. We didn’t get to go to church very often because it was so far to go, but Sunday was observed at home.
The women baked their own bread from a starter that they kept in a jar from baking to baking. Everybody raised gardens and canned anything they could get their hands on. This meant jars and jars of food processed in the boiler on top of the stove, and a hot fire going for hours on end when it was already too hot outside for a fire. We kids were kept busy gathering dry cow chips from the pasture and bringing bushel baskets full to keep the fire going. Wood had to be hauled from the Rawhide Buttes which was an all day trip with team and wagon to get a load of wood. Of course we had a coal cellar too, but that had to be hauled from town too.
They canned beef and pork and also cured their own hams and bacon. Mother cut the children’s hair- - lots of women just put a mixing bowl on top of the kids head and used it for a guide line to cut their hair. It was tipped to the back of the head and bangs were cut and the hair just slanted to the nape of the neck at the back. We used to call them the “bowl cuts”. This method was used by only the novice. My Mom cut mine straight in back and pulled the front part back and I wore a big hair bow on top of my head to keep it out of my eyes. Very few girls had hair long enough to braid.
If something was needed it was either made out of materials at hand or you just didn’t have it. Most every man cobbled their own families’ shoes. Mothers made practically all the children’s clothes they could. Material always shrunk in those days (no sanforizing) so it was a choice between preserving the bright new color of the percale (because it always faded when you washed it) and making the dress just a little bit too big because you knew it would shrink when washed, or shrinking it first and then it didn’t look so brand new.
People rendered their own lard and churned their own butter. Usually they made their own soap too.
You just didn’t go to a doctor unless you had a broken bone or something very drastic. Any time a communicable disease went around everybody got it, I remember once the whole school got the whooping cough so they just let all the kids come to school any way instead of observing the six week quarantine. The same thing happened when everybody got the “yellow jaundice”, we called it, but I think it was really hepatitis. Most every kid in school got it (no wonder we did . .we had a bucket of water and one dipper for everybody in school). This made some of the kids of sick they had to stay home in bed for a couple of weeks.
Babies were delivered at home with the assistance of a neighbor lady (Mrs. Fae Lynn an R.N.) if she could get there in time. Otherwise the husband was the midwife. Sometimes the doctor would come out later to look at the mother if the family thought it was necessary to call him.
People still had a good life and had lots of good times together. The neighbors visited back and forth regularly, as they lived only a few miles apart. People had dances, and election day was an all day affair with lots of visiting and a big picnic where everybody brought scads of food and put it on a big table made of boards and saw horses. When people went to a dance, they took their kids along and put them to bed in another room until they were ready to go home.
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