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Memories of Growing up in Ypsilanti

Memories of Growing up in Ypsilanti image Memories of Growing up in Ypsilanti image Memories of Growing up in Ypsilanti image Memories of Growing up in Ypsilanti image Memories of Growing up in Ypsilanti image Memories of Growing up in Ypsilanti image Memories of Growing up in Ypsilanti image Memories of Growing up in Ypsilanti image Memories of Growing up in Ypsilanti image
Ruth M. Allen
Rights Held By
Ypsilanti Historical Society
OCR Text

Father was in town on business, and when he came home he brought me the most beautiful pencil box. It had flags and E. Pluribus Unum on it. I was so proud. It was the prettiest one I had seen; then and now. He also brought a slate, tho' we had some, from the family and a reader. I was ready to start School.

It seems to me that the Teacher was Miss Mabel Cross. I could be wrong. My Father was quite active in many things. I think he was on the School Board for this school. He used to go to meetings over there with other men. One year the Teacher lived with us. She would go away Friday night and return Sunday night. It happened that she could not find a place to stay. That was the way things were a-way-back-when. Not too many will remember those days.

I have found a paper, “Farmers' Vigilance Association”.

Four townships were covered. I don't know just what they did: I know that a call would come and Father would saddle a horse and take off. Sometimes he would take a gun. I'll make a guess, maybe some farmer's animals got away, or there may have been a wild animal giving trouble. any one know?

Every summer, Father used to let the Signal Corps take a couple of horses. Generally it was Jack and Barney. They used the horses for several years. I was told that Father belonged to the Light Guards, from Ypsilanti. He did not re-enlist in 1898, because they were expecting a child.

Our neighbors were all fine, and tho' we didn't get together too often, all were ready to help each other, two or three times a year, there would be dinners and many would attend.

I do not remember all the places we would go. They would hold them earlier in the afternoon, so the men could get home early enough to get the night chores done. Those were very busy times. There were rare occasions. And it was fine for the children and the folks all had a fine time.

With summer over and preparations made for the coming fall and winter, I looked forward to Halloween. the older children would come by with their pumpkins. When I was old enough to go out that night, I had a tin pumpkin on a stick and Father would take me around to a few homes. The tin pumpkin had a candle in it to light.

the Grandparents. It was fun to get together then.

Next was Christmas. We always had a tree. There were cookies, in different shapes, made and tied to the tree. All kinds of ornaments and strings of gold and silver, for the tree. Each year there would appear a new ornament. We sometimes strung popcorn, to put on the tree. On Christmas morning, the tree would be lighted, for a short time with candles. Father always had a pail of sand and some pails with water, in case we needed it for fire. We were fortunate and never had trouble. I hung a stocking and found some fun taking the little things out of it.

I remember going in to the tree, which was in the parlor, or front living room and there was Polly sitting in her rocker, (both are now in the Ypsilanti Historical Museum) and there was a doll buggy for her and cradle. I was busy putting her to bed and wheeling her around the house. I could sit in the rocking chair and rock her. She was a little big for me to handle, but we had fun. I slept with her for a long time. My two Grandmothers had made her clothes and one made a quilt which I still have.

Along the line, I had a red table and 2 chairs, but finally they broke up. As I received other dolls, I, one time had a high chair for one. I had a rolling pin and potato masher, child size and other toys. There was always a new book or two each year.

The Christmas of 1900; I received Polly. A picture was taken of Polly in her chair and I am standing beside her. The date on the back is January 1901. I had a little tub, maybe 4 or 5 inches wide, or less and a stand with a wringer. My small doll clothes, I would wash in it. I had all kinds of little dishes, as all children have. I have 2 cups, from different sets, that just fit over the end of my finger, now. I still have a vegetable dish, gravy boat and platter, from one set. A sugar, creamer, and butter dish with it's top or cover, in glass, is in my little cupboard. And when the folks went to the State Fair in Detroit, they would bring things home. I have some tin trays, that I used to play with.

One Christmas, I got a sled. I wasn't too old, and Father used to pull me around on it. Many a spill, I took, off the sled. But it didn't hurt, the snow was soft, the sled is in Ypsilanti, too.

The Christmas of 1903, when I went out Christmas morning, and Polly was sitting in her chair, as I had left her the night before to look for Santa. And with her was a beautiful new big doll in a new carriage. There in front of Polly, was a large table and a china cupboard, which Grandfather Trim had made. And a box to unpack, with care, I was told, and it had a new larger set of dishes. So the new doll was to be Helen and her buggy are in Ypsilanti in the Museum. There was a larger doll trunk. Helen had quite a few clothes, so I had plenty to do, and it was so much fun. I had my picture taken with her.

Father made a box, about 18 or 20 inches square and high. I used to keep blocks and toys in it. I could hammer tacks into it and I did like to do that. I put pictures on it with tacks. When in the mood to fix something, I would put tacks in the box. I used it a long time and just where it went or what happened to it, I do not know.

Memorial Day, there was a parade. Many of the children would beg and collect flowers, to pin on the Veterans in the parade. Early in the morning, the ladies would make them up, in time for the parade. Grandfather Trim was always there as long as he lived. One thing I must tell, when Grandfather was near his home, one could always tell, because he came down the street whistling, “Marching Thru Georgia”. He was taken prisoner during the raid on Macon, Ga.

Of course, we had Valentines Day. Then St. Patrick and the wearing of the green. Easter, never on the same day, but a very important day. And the Memorial Day as I have mentioned was a big day and had a great meaning, too. Then July 4th. And another big day.

Speaking of Easter, I have the amber glass hen that I have had for so long, that I can't remember when I got it. A few years ago, I saw one in an antique shop. It looked just like mine, but it had something extra on it. Mine was plain around the nest, this one had small glass circles and I said to the clerk, I have one, but it doesn't have this on it. Oh, she said, yours must be quite old and this is new. Yes, mine is quite old.

Sometime during the summer our Sunday School would have a trip to Belle Isle. We would take the electric car to Detroit and the car would take the track to Jefferson Street and let us off right at the bridge. We would have a fine time. By the time we were ready to go home, we were a tired and weary bunch.

In the summer of some Sunday afternoons, there were horse races at the Fair Grounds. We would drive up West Congress, and at that time it seemed a long way. We would drive the horse up to the fence and watch. There was a grand stand, too, for those who wanted to use it. Pop Corn and pop was sold.

On South Washington Street there was a place where they made and bottled pop. I can't think of the man who had it.

There were Bank concerts, too. They were in Prospect Park. We would drive up and try to find a place in the shade for the horse. Minnie would just stand and the music didn't bother her. It was the same if I drove my pony, Billy.

In the summer, we always put a fly net over the driving horse. This helped to keep the flies off. After the horse was hitched to the carriage, the net would be arranged over the horse. On returning to the barn, it would be carefully removed and hung in the barn.

We had a surrey with the fringe on top. The first one that I remember, was cut up under the front seat and the horse could make a sharp turn and the wheel would go under the front seat. Then we had a top buggy. This had one seat. In the warm weather we took the side curtains. off. We could roll up a small window in back, We could put the top back in a fold, too. Now if it started to rain, it was a scramble to get the curtains on and the robe protector out. This protector would fit over the dash board and hang over the side of the buggy and we could put it up around us. It was material that shed rain or snow. We used it with the surrey, too. The back seat would be alright, because it was protected with the side curtains. We had a “run-about”. It was a one seat carriage with rubber tires. It had no top. Only in warm weather did we use it. Sometimes we would put up an umbrella, if the sun was too hot. We always had one in the run-about.

Someone was in town every day, or just about, and in the warm weather we would take Ice home, our last pick-up for the day. We had a good size ice-box. It had 2 doors under the ice compartment. We had to have a pan under it, to catch the water. (we used the ice box, until sometime after we moved to 119 N. Adams Street.} Shephards Ice Company filled it. And after I was married and needed it, it was sent to me and we used it for 3 or 4 years.

I have mentioned a “spring wagon” and I will explain that. It is about the size of the surrey, but no top. One horse can pull it with no trouble. It had 2 seats. The front and the back. Both of these seats could be removed. When we had a man, with a family, this is the wagon he would drive when he had to go to town.

We had a cutter, for the snow-time. The horse is hitched, in front of one runner, so that it can travel in the sleigh track. After my Brother Joe, was with us, he couldn't stand so much exposure, and we rarely used the cutter. Father got runners put on the buggy too, in place of wheels. There were runners for the light wagon, too. In the winter, not so many trips were made and heavier loads were on, Father drove two horses on it. My pony cart had runners, too. The pony grew such a heavy coat that he looked more like a big bear. His harness would sink into his coat and one could hardly see it. When we were at Brookside, I didn't drive him too far. After we moved nearer to Ypsilanti, I drove him into town very often. The farm wagon had runners, too.

A very important thing for any one to do, during the cold weather, was to carry horse blankets. Any time the horses were to stand, they had blankets put on them and they were tucked in around the harness' to keep them from blowing up in the wind. We also had a “soap-stone”, which we heated and put in so that we could keep our feet warm. We usually had it on one side of the register, and it was warm enough to be comfy, but not hot enough to burn anything.

Yes, at Brookside, we had a furnace. It burned wood. There was plenty of wood cut, from our woods, and it lasted all winter. We also cooked with wood. Most everyone had a “woods” and used it as did we.

Speaking of “woods”, some where back, possibly in my Great Grandfather Timothy McIntire's time, there must have been much wooded land. When my Father, C.L. McIntire passed, 1944, Mother had a letter from a classsmate of Father's. Mr. James Fuller and Father kept in touch, over the years. Mr. Fuller wrote that he and Father were in school and had been friends since they were 10 or 12 years old. He said that when school was in a church, on the corner of Congress and an alley, they were often kept in at recess, for being disorderly in school. the McIntire wood yard was across the street. He was glad that the Cleary College was built there. When I was in James Breakey's office on Huron Street, corner of Washtenaw, he had an old map of Ypsilanti, and we looked at it and it showed the McIntire wood lot, or yard. Mother said she had heard about it. Until I came on to this letter, I had forgotten just how I had gotten this idea. I expect that others sold wood there, too.

Father never knew his Grandfather or Grandmother McIntire. His Grandfather had a 2nd wife. He passed in 1854. I have his key winder watch. My Grandfather used it too.

From what I gathered, Grandfather J.T. McIntire was born in Augusta Township. At one time his Father, Timothy had a large track of land and some small houses in Ypsilanti. Father said that his Father kept selling off land and kept just enough to be able to take care of it himself. I remember that a man came in and paid Father some interest and payment, on land that Grandfather had sold.

The road to the farm was a beautiful drive. On the west side of the road there were rows of big trees. Father said that his Father (J.T.) told him that the Indians used to go past the place where he was born. His Mother let them get drinking water from their well. They were friendly. But his Stepmother had nothing to do with them.

Great Grandfather and Great Grandmother were buried at Stoney Creek, south west of the farm where there were 2 churches, towards Milan. After Grandfather McIntire passed. Father moved his Mother to Highland, beside his Father. She was at Stoney Creek. I think there was a general store across from the churches, or near by. We used to go over that way to spend the day with Uncle Hiram Thompson. He married Grandmother McIntire's sister Adelia, but she had passed away years before. He had a fine housekeeper, Mrs. Coe, a widow, from Milan. He never remarried.

As you see, one thing reminds me of another…The McIntires were from York, Maine.

I have mentioned that Mother's sister, Helen Trim, married W.S. Carpenter, son of the Peter Carpenter's of Ypsilanti, Michigan. They had a son, Sprague Fenton Carpenter. When he was 4 1/2 years, his Mother died. Sprague then went to live with the Carpenters. Of course we were together many times. He would, as he was older, bring friends to Grandmother Trim's and she always had bread and jelly for them. Carpenters lived about 2 blocks south on Adams and I think the house was on that street and about 2 houses off Adams street. It was a large house. Later the Carpenters moved North on Adams Street across from the Congregational church.

By that time, Sprague was old enough to have a pony, and there was a barn in back of that house. So Sprague and I grew up together. He was 2 years older than I. He would drive down to the Brookside farm. He would have one or two friends with him. Three could get into his pony cart. Father would go out to the barn and let us play on the hay. Trixy would have a feast and rest up for the trip back.

Sprague would bring spears, some times. Oh, Me. the boys would spear frogs. there were a lot along the creek. They would spear the frogs and I had to take them off and keep them in a pail. Grandfather Carpenter did like frog legs. I had trouble keeping them in the pail, tho' I had a grainbag over the pail.

Sometimes we would take our shoes and stockings off and wade in the creek. It was an order that we never went bare-foot around the farm. So after wading, we dried our feet and put our shoes and stockings back on. Father was afraid of nails, and many other things that could cut our feet. There were burrs and pickery weeds, and stubbles that were hard to see. As far as I can remember no one was hurt around our farm. All who came there enjoyed it enough to follow the rules.

Do you remember the men who used to drive the country and buy rags? I guess they were called Rag-pickers.

They would weigh the rags and pay for them. And there were men with their wagons that used to sell things, through the country. Pots, pails, pans and other tin things. Of course these same men went around town, too. Some would sell rugs and silk things, table runners, bed spreads and the like.

Now back to Brookside: I mentioned the Hereford cattle and the feeder cattle. I remember two cattle buyers, Mr. Spencer and Mr. Horner, after the steers were properly fed out and ready for market, Father would call these men and a date for taking them into town to their sale pens, was set, providing the day was good. They would always have a good day, even if they had to put it off for a day or two. One time they were short a man, to go horse-back and Father rode horse back and a neighbor rode a horse and I drove Minnie, to bring up the rear. Nothing bothered Minnie. Either Mr. Spencer or Mr. Horner would lead the way. I think it was Mr. Spencer that day. The men on horseback would keep the cattle from turning the wrong road, and street, after we arrived in town. I had gone with Father, several times, in the buggy, so I had the general idea. It seemed, as Mr. Spencer rode ahead, that the cattle got the idea of following him. Then with buggy behind, it all worked pretty well. The men on horses were quite busy. We drove them down Huron Street to Cross and somewhere around the Railroad station, were the pens. After all was in place, Father and the neighbor got in the buggy and lead the horses back to the farm.

Should a pig go to market, they were taken in large crates. This was also used for calves. Chickens were transported in crates too. We also took eggs to sell at the stores. It was surprising how many groceries we could trade 12 dozen eggs for.

Father was very particular about everything, the harnesses were in good repair. He would mend them himself, the wheels on all carriages and farm equipment were carefully greased. In the fall, all things that could be put away for winter, had a good inspection, and were made ready for spring use. All the horses were properly shoed, or shod. In the winter, all horses that were driven on the carriages, had sharp shoes, because of the ice. I have seen horses slip and fall in the harness, but I never saw one of ours fall, tho' at a time it was very slippery. In bad weather we only drove when very necessary.

In the winter, Father and his helper would go to the woods and cut trees. After the trees fell they would trim them and saw them in the length they wanted. Some trees were very large and they used a long saw, with a handle on each end, because it took two men to do it. And of course, the saws had to be sharpened.

So Father would sit on the grinding seat and pump the grinding wheel. I often watched him and the sparks did fly. the wheel was quite large, when he did the big saw, (I think they call it cross-cut saw) he had saw horses on each side to hold it up properly. The buck-saw was entirely different. He used one of those in the wood shed. The wood-shed was in back of the kitchen and under the same roof as the house, the unfinished room up stairs was over the wood-shed and kitchen. I still have the old lamps that were used in the wood-shed. The blue paint is nearly worn off, they had tin reflectors.

The lamps in the kitchen were iron brackets and had mercury reflectors. I have one of those, and my grandson has his name on that, so he will have it. The original reflector is with it. I have the dining room hanging lamps. The shade of one is broken, but I still have it in place. There are 2 lamps in that. It was very pretty. I have the iron hanger and the 2 holders, but the holders or cups are broken off. The parlor hanging lamp had 4 lamps, but I don't know what was done with that. The hall lamp is gone too. I have the piano lamp, original globe, but it is made into an electric light. Father gave this lamp to Mother the Christmas before they were married, 1891.

Of course there were many lamps used every night. And the next day, they were collected, to be filled and the wicks trimmed, and the glass chimneys washed and polished, and returned to their place to be ready for use. This was some job. And the day we had to get the 5 gallons of coal oil or kerosene I sure didn't like. We put something like oil cloth over the can to sit on and fold up around it, while it was in the buggy or carriage. And the barn lanterns were taken care of, just as the lamps were. We had little finger lamps to light and carry to where we would light the light for the room. The handle had a hole in it and one would put a finger through it to carry it. There was no lighting of matches to find the way to the lamp to be lighted. The lanterns for the barn were lighted outside of the barn. Fire was always on everyone's mind back then.

The surrey had lights outside on both sides of the front seat, these held candles. One couldn't see much, but could be seen when about to pass another on the road. Then the oil lamp came out and we had one. It was fastened to the right side of the carriage, and you could see the side of the road. It was up to the horse to follow the road, when very dark. this side light was a big help.

Later we had a car. We had side curtains to put on. After parking on the field, in the cold weather, we took off the side, so Joe could see out. We had a heavy blanket to put over the engine. We didn't have anti-freeze. Each time we put the car up, we had to drain the radiator, and fill it when we took the car out again. Then, if we drove at night, we had to turn on the tank of gas and run quick and light the head lights…the man at the garage told me just how to do it. If there was a building near, he told me to have the bright light just so high. Hard to explain, but I sure remembered it. Then every now and then we had to take the tank in and get another.

We always had self starters put on, but sometimes they didn't always work. So it was crank, and pull a wire to give a little more gas to start on. It was bad if we flooded it. Each time we changed cars, they called and we could have the one “Ruth” can crank. There were some…very hard to crank. And some could break your arm, by a kick back. Can't think of just what they called it.

Thank goodness I learned, before I was married (1920). and I have driven all kinds of roads, you name it, I've been thru it. When we were in Auburn, the road to Bay City, would be full of holes, so pull the throttle down and just hit the tops. And don't forget, before we had snow tires, we drove with chains in the winter snow.