Monday Sept 9
We drove out to Sauvie Island yesterday morning. So many memories. One of the most pronounced was of our days working for Lou Hyatt. He was the father of one of my mother’s college friends who retired and became a Sauvie Island gentleman farmer. Sauvie Island is a gorgeous hideaway just outside Portland at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers. Lou Hyatt had about 15 acres, 10 cows, and a huge garden filled with corn, tomatoes, pumpkins, beans, and beets! His heart condition forced him to find some help maintaining his domain. Assistance came in the form of three young Bolin boys. He picked us up Saturday mornings and we enjoyed the rush of riding in the back of his beleaguered pick-up truck. Our first task each Saturday was the grim job of checking the rat traps in his barn and disposing of the unfortunates! We burned brush and tires, moved irrigation pipe, weeded the garden, cut firewood, picked ripe vegetables, mended fence, and a host of other new adventures for preteen and teenage city boys. Eventually, we thinned the corn. He planted a lot of seeds, but as they grew, he had us remove the weaker, smaller stalks leaving the bigger ones with about six inches of their own space. The discarded stalks were gathered and placed onto a wooden table near the dilapidated shed. They were then fed down the table and into the business side of an old lawn mower that was mounted perpendicular to the ground. For safety sake, the blades and motor were covered with a tarp that also served to keep the mulched corn stalks from flying too far afield. The chopped corn stalks then fell out of the lawnmower and tarp into a galvanized washtub. We carried the tubs to the cows and let them enjoy a healthy breakfast!
OSHA didn’t care one bit! It wasn’t established until 1970!
Frank was always the older, wiser cousin on my mother’s side of the family. He lived on a farm in the country, had a 22-rifle, owned a small rowboat that he kept on their fishing/irrigation pond. He could catch snakes with his hands! A pretty amazing big cousin.
His dad, my Uncle Pete, was a jolly man with a wry sense of humor. He often smiled and threatened to take me out to the well house and strap me on the spanking machine! I never actually saw it, but I was sure it was out there! I always behaved around Uncle Pete. Uncle Pete’s father lived in a small building behind their farmhouse. I remember having a hard time understanding him and thought he was a little scary. I later learned that as a teenager, he worked as a shoemaker’s helper in Copenhagen, Denmark. Just before a ship sailed for the USA, he slung three pairs of shoes over his shoulder and convinced the guard at the gangplank that the captain had ordered the shoes. His job was to deliver them to the captain and to make sure they fit. Once on board he stowed away and made it to the USA – with three pairs of shoes to sell and start his new life.