Wednesday, August 24, 2016

True Tales Of The Old Model T Jalopy

I came across this photo the other day and it really made me smile, for it reminded me of a story told to me in my teens by my step-dad, Richard Thomas. Now this photo is not of him nor his chums, in fact it came from a photo album once owned by grandpa Dick Scearce's younger sister, Caroline. The car in the photo is what reminded me of the story and since all efforts to identify the fellows in the picture have proved futile I shall use it as a prop for my own tale here today.

When I was about fourteen my step-dad took me out and taught me how to drive. He had a 1970 Ford F-10 pickup which was a 3 speed on the column. I can't say I hated that thing, but learning to drive a manual transmission was not at all easy. Oh the clutching and grinding of gears and false starts, to say nothing of backing into a barbed wire fence, due to sloping ground and letting out the clutch too soon. I think Dad in telling me this story about his early driving days was trying to make me feel better.

When Richard was in high school, he got his very first car, it was an old Model T Ford, which he referred to as his, "Old Jalopy." One sunny afternoon he and his chums, as well as his younger sister Donna and her best friend, Yvonne, (my future mother), all decided to take it out for a spin. It was a canvas top, so they put it down to better enjoy the summer breezes, and since it was dads car, he was driving. 

Now the roads around Snoqualmie Valley, Washington, where they grew up, were much like Hood River Valley in those days, and were mostly dirt and gravel, which made for a lot of dust and careful driving. They drove up over hill and dale at a merry clip, having a good time, when suddenly on a slight curve they started to spin out of control. One minute they were enjoying the ride, and the next they were headed for the ditch. Dad was new to driving so he gave the wheel a fast yank trying to correct  their direction, but instead, the car slewed around in a circle, and they went sliding down the road backwards. Just when they thought they were going to die, of a sudden their careening path was stopped and they were slung up into the air. The car had backed up a guy wire that was anchoring a power pole in place, on the side of the road. 

The car came to an abrupt halt, but was now hooked up on the wire and hung there wobbling in space and wouldn't come back down. Gripping what they could for dear life they hung on with all of their might, so as not to be flung out. At first they didn't know what had happened, but it didn't take long for them to figure it out. They were stuck up that pole wire, with the nose of the car in the dirt, and them desperately trying not to fall out on their heads. This was long days before the required use of seat belts, so it was some fun trying to stay put. Of course Yvonne and Donna were shrieking in terror, but Dad just climbed down and took a look underneath the car, to see what the trouble was and remained calm as a cucumber. 

He said there was nothing to be done, so he left his chums to take care of the girls, and hiked back to town to get a tow truck to come lift the car down off the wire. When they finally got it down, he made them all get back in it, and then drove off like nothing had happened. It made my mom fuming mad, she insisted he take her right home, and she wouldn't ride with him again for a very long time.
Here are these unknown fellows sitting in their, (I believe), 1923 Model T Ford. The picture was most likely taken in or around Hood River, Oregon. I think they were unlucky in their choice of rides, for you can see they are riding on a bare rim and the one fellow is holding the flat. Of course the blowout may have been due to a nail or do you think possibly a bit of overloading?! No wait, there is still room for people on the running boards. ha ha ha

Which reminds me, we used to play, "How many kids can you stuff in a Corvair?" Our top number was thirteen. The Corvair,  a bright red sports cars of diminutive size, was also owned by my step-father, just about the time he married my mother. He sold it afterwards, because she drove it like a maniac, and he thought she might kill us all. But that is a hair raising tale for another day.

UPDATE: The truncated part of my story. When speaking with my sis yesterday I realized I had left out a portion of my story. Since I was focusing on Dad's jalopy story I forgot to tell completely what had prompted it, and my sis said that in all fairness I should not have left it out, so here goes.

When Dad was teaching me how to drive that obnoxious stick driven pick-up truck, he asked me to do a maneuver I had never done before. We were driving on an old dirt road on the farm, that led from the big barn, back to the main road. Now this road was mostly straight, but it followed the fenced pastures, so at one point it turn a 45 degree corner. At this corner their was a fence opening with cedar fence posts and barbed wire fence, through which you could pass and go straight on to the irrigation pond. Just as I turned this corner, Dad asked me to stop and back up into the road leading to the pond.Then drive back the way we had come.

Remember this was my first time driving and I knew nothing about backing up at all, and that stupid truck had a very sensitive clutch. I put the truck into reverse, put my foot on the gas, and let out the clutch. Before I knew what happened, I had zoomed backwards and instead of turning enough to get between the posts onto the other road, I ran slam into one of the cedar fence posts at the edge of the gate opening, denting the back bumper and entangling it in barbed wire. Needless to say we came to a very abrupt halt.

I was pretty shook up, but Dad just calmly hopped out and went to assess the damage, got some wire cutters out of the tool box, cut loose the barbed wire, said he would hammer out the bumper, got back in the truck and away we went.

And that my dear friends is how it came about, that Dad told me his own, new driver accident story. I shall not go into detail about Mom hearing him telling me and reenacting the shrieking part, she and Donna did on that ride. I will just say here, listening to the two different ways they told that story was a real riot. He was so calm and she was so very effusive. ha ha ha

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Our Shadows At Play

                                                I have a friend it's plain to see,
                                                  she likes to come and play with me.
                                                    But she was shy that lovely day,
                                                    so sent her shadow out to play.
                                                   At first I thought, "What shall I do?!"
                                            Then sent my shadow outside too.
                                                 It was so fun, the sun was out,
                                               and stretched our shadows all about.
                                                 Their legs grew long, their bodies short,
                                             they danced about with wild cavort.
Those silly shadows of themselves,
danced around like crazy elves.
All too soon, it made us frown,
our shadows shrunk, the sun went down.
But before it left the sky,
our shadows waved a fond good-bye.

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Tale of The Water Pump

Today boys and girls we are going to talk about what happens when a water pump goes bunk. But where to begin?! I will not regale you will long winded words about being awoke by a strange sound at 6 a.m., or how I got up and rushed around the house trying to figure out where it came from. In fact, I will also not regale you in detail with the tale of my nasty snail hunt at 7 a.m. when I got up, because I couldn't sleep due to the funny sound waking me earlier. I just proceeded on my usual morning walk about the place, only to spy that snails had arisen in the night and were over-running us. Suffice to say my hunt was a success and I filled to bulging a gallon zip-lock bag of them. I stopped counting after 30.
It was in fact this early morning excursion that made me first aware of the adventure that would be my day. It happened on this wise: My perambulating of the yard in search of snails happened to lead me in the proximity of the pump house. A loud hissing sound strengthened as I drew near and I pondered in my mind what it could be? Water pumps are not air compressors, so any hissing sound was not a good omen. I looked at the pump-house and saw water streaming out the eaves and out from under the walls. I opened the door and water was spraying in a jet to the ceiling from the pump. My first thought was oh brother, it has blown a gasket!!!
Here is our pump-house looking so beautiful, complete with a bunch of blooming flowers.
Here is a side view I give you so that you can see its wonderful size. (sarcasm!) The pump-house is 7'3 wide x 4' 3" deep x 5' 3" tall at the front but sloping to 5' at the back. Needless to say a Hobbit would find it snug.
Isn't this a lovely view of the doorway?! It stands at just 4' 3" and yours truly cracked her skull on the top of it three times, as I simply didn't duck quite far enough to enter. I wasn't able to get a pic of the blowing water without getting my camera wet, but you can imagine 2 inches of water on the floor and the entire insides being hosed.
Upon seeing the place engulfed in water, I ran into the house and sought for the switch to turn off the power. Finding them was like looking for codes to your fire-safe. The first switch was 10 down on the left and the pump switch was 2 down on the right. What kind of goof ball doesn't place those two switches close to each other?! Once the power was off, I gave a call to my husband hoping to find out from him the name of a good plumber or where to get help. He was not available, but I got to listen to his nice voicemail. This would not seem so bad but he has gone for his two months visit to the Mainland, so Andrew and I are holding the fort here on Hawaii's Whole Acre. Next I called our friend Ricky who is a grand source for all kinds of help. I did get him, but he was miles out on the ocean, deep sea fishing, which later that night they came in with 2,500 pounds of fish. Woo! Hoo! Needless to say I was feeling a bit panicky by this point as to what to do next?! At this point I woke up Andrew, who leaped right up and came out to access the damage. Much to our relief the pump had not blown up it was, "just a water hose." (Famous last words!!!)
Andrew quickly went into the pump-house and began turning off all of the valves. The yellow handles are the two to our UV light . While he did that I thought to call our next door neighbor Mark, who came right over with his wife Carrie.
 In the far corner, with the blue handle you can just see the main valve to the tank. This stupid thing would not shut and we were afraid to twist it too hard for fear it would break. Here in front are the two main filters.
 Here are the contents of those two blue filters, one is charcoal and the other a string, they do a great job at filtering.
I tried to get a picture of Andrew working but it was so cramped I couldn't get any good ones. He spent hours crouching and kneeling on the hard cement floor. We took turns working and getting back outside because it was so hot and muggy, you liked to drown in your own sweat. I have known sauna's that were cooler.
When we found the split hose, which was the black one you see here, we thought we were home free. The hose was long enough to just clip off and shove back on. Not an easy task but doable. As you can see here this looks pretty good after Andrew got it all back together. Oh for blighted hopes!!! We had no sooner put it all back together and started up the system, when I noticed that now the pump was leaking from the release valve. This meant shutting the system down again and taking it all apart, and removing the valve.
If you take a close look at that hose near the center of the picture, and where it ends on your right, you will see what looks like some type of plug. This is a brass release valve, it has this little screw-in hose-end stuck in its side which holds the hose in place.
Here is what that little part looks like up close. Whoever put this pump together did not use the proper size of this little hose-end. When Andrew attempted to unscrew the valve so that we could put pipe-tape on its threads, it wouldn't turn full circle to the left and hit the pipe coming out of the top of the pump. When I attempted to remove it, the whole thing fell out of the pump into my hand. I was mortified and thought I had broken the pump, but upon closer inspection we found the valve had been glued in the hole with apoxy. At this point I was hot, angry, and tired, and I just wanted to scream. To top it off the black hose had split again rendering it useless. This meant a trip into Hilo to Home Depot for more hose and hopefully a new brass fitting. It all began to feel like a freaking nightmare. This now had taken the better part of the day and our neighbor Mark, and his wife, had gone home.
Before he left he showed us how to remove the cap from this small pipe to take the pressure off the pump. He also instructed us in filling it again, so as to prime the pump before starting up the system. Something I would have thought of myself if I hadn't been so stressed out at this point. I was hot and sweaty and I already had three goose eggs on my head from the doggone door, and poor Andrew wasn't feeling any better, but off to town we went with high hopes of success.
A quick trip there rendered no new fitting, but we did find new hose. I decided an alteration was in order so taking the valve into the garage I put it in the vice and cut 1/4" off the stupid hose-end tip. I cleaned the apoxy off the threads, wrapped them in pipe tape, put the rubber gasket back on, and gave the whole business to Andrew to reassemble.
He put it all back together and it truly was beastly, because the tubing was stiff and the interior opening just slightly too small. I went inside and boiled some water and brought it to him in a pan and he soaked those stubborn tube ends for a few minutes and they finally went on. This was getting on to 6 p.m. and we had been at it all day, but we finally licked it. When we checked on it this morning it was dry and running smoothly. Praise be!
Doesn't this shot make it look nice and roomy?! Well believe me it isn't, and what kind of ding-a-ling puts the pressure tank tight to the wall and the same with the pump?! Can you see the flinky screws holding the pump in place? The whole set up makes me crazy.

Here you can see just how tight a fit it is. So tight I couldn't get my toes out of the shot and my head is leaned over between the studs. Working on this was some kind of nightmare and one of the worst pump-houses I have ever had the misfortune to be stuck in. So let this be a lesson. If you ever have to build a pump-house, build it so you can get at everything comfortably from all sides, and mount your pump higher off the floor. 'Cause even if you can't work on a pump yourself, your plumber will thank you , and maybe you won't die of sticker shock when you get his bill.

Total cost of supplies: Tubing at $2.98. Our sweat equity and Andrews calm approach and mechanical skills: Priceless!

P.S. My husbands timing, which is always perfect, had him returning my call just as we had the whole darn thing fixed. Wouldn't ya know?!!! Ha Ha Ha

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Suit Sample Quilt

Today I have another of those quilts mother gave me as we were cleaning out the barn. At the time I didn't much appreciate it and took it out of sheer politeness. I thought it was the ugliest thing I had ever laid eyes on. However, this quilt has a unique story behind it as quilts often do, if only we knew it or would listen.
As you will see from the pictures I didn't know much about quilts back in the day, and since I didn't like it much, I didn't take proper care of it. When it came to me, aside from a few moth chews from being in the barn, it was in pretty good condition. The back was made of a cherry red cloth, but because it smelled like the barn, I made the mistake of throwing it in the washing machine. It was not colorfast and bled red all through the quilt. I washed it another three times trying to get the red out and it didn't stop running. I dried the quilt outside on a clothes line and after that we used it to pack furniture in our many moves, or hung it on the back porch swing, where the back faded to the color you see today.
I wish now I had listened more closely when mother told me about this quilt, for I cannot remember who she said exactly made it. Only that it was made from the suit samples of her grandpa, Harry Marshall Scearce. He was a suit salesmen at the time of his death, for Jay Marks or J. Marx out of Portland, Oregon. (I could not find this company, so further research is needed.) He was also a representative for the Apple Growers Association of Hood River, and traveled all over the United States. Sadly he died suddenly of a heart attack while on his way back from Hermiston, Oregon in 1928.
Here is where the puzzle comes in. Were these suit samples the ones he had with him when he died? If they were, than the only person who could have made this quilt was his daughter in-law, Wanda Dale Roberts-Scearce. Otherwise known in our family as Grandma Matie, for his dear wife, our grt. grandma, Anne Elston Krout-Scearce, had died the year before he did in 1927. If on the other hand these were quilt sample's he already had, which he gave to his family, then the quilt could have been made by either his wife or Matie. Whoever made it, they made it entirely by machine. The closest date I can come to dating this quilt is 1925-1928.
I know that these two women made their own clothes and were fine seamstresses, but it takes a whole other skill set to be good with a sewing machine. Whoever sewed this did not have a lot of skill using a machine. I think that this was sewn right after they got the machine and therefore its construction is not so good. Either that or they were never good on a machine and should have stuck to hand sewing.

 As you can see none of this is quilted, it is just tied down with dark red wool yarn.
How sad, so bad of me to mistreat this poor thing. You can barely see some of the original red, and even that is not nearly as bright as it first was.
To tell the truth the blocks are sewn together rather well, and there corners line up nicely, it is the backing on the quilt that is so terrible. Just look at that edge stitching. It must have been hard feeding the bulky edge of this quilt through that old machine.

Some of these suit colors are really wild. How about a suit in Lincoln Green?! You would look like Robin Hood. Did you notice the over-all pattern of dark light, dark light? She did a nice job of block layout. Still, the poor thing is made of very itchy wool and I feel sorry for the fellows who had suits made of that stuff.

Note: I had to wash this again the other day, since our move. Fortunately due to a product called, "Soak", which is made for natural fibers. I was able to get most of the red color back our of the wool blocks. What a wonderful product I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Glorified Nine Patch Quilt

Today's post is about a quilt I received as a gift from my sister, many years ago. I had gone to her house to help her clean out a room full of stuff, that had been left there by the old Dorcas Society. When we opened the door I couldn't believe what I saw. Bags of clothes and things literally crammed to the ceiling, filling up the room to the very door.. The old house had very tall nine or ten foot ceilings, so you can just imagine how much stuff was in there. We worked the better part of a day trying to make a dent in the heap, and it was just plain crazy.We had such a blast, it was like some kind of clothing archeological dig. There were clothes dating back twenty or thirty years, with some crazy fashions and fabrics.
I asked her where on earth all of the stuff had come from and she told me it was mostly donated from the ladies of Klickitat to the Dorcas Society, which used to be run out of this old house. I told her I thought Dorcas stuff was supposed to be given away to the poor, but this looked more like a hoarders nest. She had to agree, which is why she was determined to get rid of it all to Goodwill or other charity organizations, so she could make use of the room.
Believe you me I was pretty tired after a day spent sorting and re-bagging old musty clothes, but as I was getting ready to leave, she pulled out of a bag this old lap quilt. She said she didn't want it and would I like to have it for all of my hard work? Never one to turn down a quilt, since we lived in snow country, I accepted her offer and took it home with me. This was back in 1979 or so and I knew next to nothing about old quilts or how they should be treated. Many a time, over the years, this quilt has been tucked around one of my young children on a chilly night or thrown across my husbands lap while he sat in his favorite chair. You might say it has been well used, if not well loved.
It wasn't until very recently that I even remembered still having it, and was very surprised when I came across it in our backyard storage, otherwise know as our large shipping container.
I did a bit of research and found out it was made in a Glorified Nine Patch pattern, that is measures 52" x 60" and its quilt fabrics date from the 1930's or thereabouts. How it came to be tied together with modern acrylic yard and filled with fat modern batting is a question? I think it was probably finished as a top long years before it was finished. It may even have been donated as only a top and finished by the women of the Dorcas Society. As a utility quilt it has certainly served my family well, but now I shall always cherish it for the memory of that hilarious but labor intensive day I had with my sister.

 As you can see it has not been quilted at all and the tying is not pretty either. All of it is machine done and poorly at that.
 Some fabrics did not hold up well over time.
This patches fabric looks very similar to one of the fabrics in Grandma Mary Hanners Apple Core Quilt.
That is why I would date some, if not all of the fabrics, to the 1930's.
This was an old repair made to the quilt before I got it. The sewer is not very good at hiding her stitches, but if she needed it done fast to get it back in use, no one was going to complain about a poor quality repair.
I hope this inspires you to have a look around and see what old quilts you may have, which could bring with them lots of memories.