1928-30 were the really tough years, not only in the valley of the Clark's Fork River, but all across the nation. However, since gathering their own fuel, growing a garden, raising chickens, pigs, and cattle could always be supplemented with a rifle, ammunition and a steady aim, staying warm and dry and having enough to eat wasn't the grim reality city dwellers faced. About the worst that could happen was losing their property to delinquent taxes -- but then, after the majority of property taxes went delinquent, neighbors were in the same boat they were. So life went only slightly out of kilter for most, and there generally was something to laugh about.
Twins, Clyde and Claude Jenkins with older brother,
Richard 'Dick' Jenkins. Courtesy Stewart and Agnes
"That glass'll break if you spit on it," one said to the other. "No it won't." "It will too." One twin spit on it. Sure enough, the glass chimney shattered into a million fragments. The seats of both twins pants got warmed."1. Ina King, one of the two first graduating seniors from Noxon High School met Cyril Mercer at Dover, Idaho, fell in love, and married him. They moved back to Noxon where Cyril worked in timber up on Rock Creek. As the lumber industry faltered, work became increasingly scarce. Cyril and Ina left Noxon.2.
Annie Allan, Grandma, with Robert,
Agnes, Clyde and Merle Jenkins.
Circa 1920s. Courtesy Stewart and
Agnes Hampton collection.
School children trooped down the hill from school, along main street, stopping in Larson's Store occasionally for a candy bar, or trading in "hickies" at Brown's pool hall for an ice cream. Early summer sunshine made them restless for summer vacation, about the time C. L. Maynard wrote from Yakima, Washington, asking to rent the old People's Commercial Store building to put in a barber chair and possibly a pool hall.4.
C. H. Norton, weary of the silent movie fad, noisy kids and sweeping up popcorn, sold his big hall to Marineus Larson and Henry Larson November 21, 1928. Marion shoved the velvet seats to the wall and held popular dances.6.
"Ed Raynor, a blonde kid, died. Bob Jenkins and I was diggin' the grave. We dug all the graves. It was free gratis. Somebody had to do it. We were digging about five feet or so, and we run into an old coffin. We'd started that morning and the funeral was 1 o'clock.
"It was getting around noon so we just shoveled dirt in and covered it up. We never knew the name of the first one.
"My dad had new lines from harness. We used them to lower the coffin because we'd have a hard time pulling a rope out. Then we'd cover the grave afterwards."Lois Raynor died [later on]. I think there was three Raynor kids died [altogether]."7.
"A program of prohibition enforcements embracing radical changes in the Volstead law and suggesting that even the Marines might be called upon as they were once called to put an end to mail robberies, was advanced today by Dr. Clarence True Wilson.
"Wilson, who is secretary of the Methodist Board of Temperance Prohibition and Public Morals, outlined his plan in an article written for the July 13 issue of Collier's Weekly."Wilson proposed punishing purchasers the same as sellers; deportation of aliens who violated the prohibition law; make it mandatory for courts to padlock for one-year premises where the law is violated. Wilson claimed,
"Two governors have led their states to rebel against the Union," New York and Maryland. Two other states, he said, Montana and Wisconsin, "have voluntarily taken themselves out of the Union. He pointed out the oaths taken by the president and every man in the armed services to uphold the laws of the land - and that the 18th amendment was one of them."
"From information gained, several other places are being watched by federal officers and we may hear of some more getting a free ride to Missoula."12.Almost every phase of prohibition enforcement work in the nation increased during 1929. Criminal prohibition prosecutions instituted totaled 56,786. The number of cases terminated was 56,455. 18,690 were pending the end of June. There were 47,100 convictions. All jails were overflowing with persons who committed this federal crime.13.
"My family and I arrived in Noxon in 1929 when I was six years old," Viola Vorderbrueggen said.
"Fran (Dad) and Mary (Mom), and my brother, Bert. We came from Minnesota by way of Longview Washington." Garner Vaughn enticed them to come west.The Vorderbrueggen's had decided to return to Minnesota after about nine months in Washingon, Viola said, "where we almost starved to death." Mr. Vaughn had traded for land at Noxon, sight unseen.
"He asked dad to stop in and have a look at his land when we headed back to Minnesota.
"We arrived at Bull River on a hot July day in 1929. We had a flat tire just before we got there. Dad got out to change the tire and as he passed by another wheel, that tire blew and when he started to take the spare tire off it's place at the rear of the car, it blew too. He spent some time patching tires before we could continue on."We camped that night in an old house on the Pilik place, after cleaning out all the manure left by horses and other animals that had been in the house.
"Vaughn's land proved to be worthless to him. He either rented or took a contract to put up the hay on the Thomson place on Bull River and talked Dad into staying to help with the hay. By the time it was up school was just starting. Since I was just starting school, Mom said we were not going to continue on our way to Minnesota until spring.
"We moved in to Noxon and rented the house, where Fanny Hampton planted the oak tree, from Sheldon Brown. The following spring our neighbors, living in the house just above us, became ill with typhoid fever. Frightened by that, my parents moved us to the Weare place at the mouth of Pilgrim Creek. We enjoyed the large orchard there to the utmost.
"Eleven year old Bert used to take a dozen apples to bed with him at night. In the morning there would be a pile of a dozen apple cores under his bed." ("I was not to move away from Noxon until I got married in 1942.")15.
"There are two forms of business mergers going on in the country. One is operated upon a lesser scale and has for its objective legitimate economic conservation of resources, production and distribution, with a resultant lessening of cost to the consuming public.
"The other, the huge scale consolidation combinations of business and finance, engineered largely thru stock ownership manipulations, and promulgated under the guise of beneficent service to the public, in reality capitalizing the public's credulousness in buying stocks, and having for their secret objective the capitalistic control of the nation's resources and wealth.
"This latter group of mergers constitutes a menace against which the hostility of the people is slowly rising.
"The general public is to blame for the rapid growth of the tremendous combines which increase in number each week. It is the public's money that is being used by the masters of Wall Street to make it possible to assimilate these vicious combines into the economic structure of the country.
"Back of the scenes a few men are reaping the profits, while the stock-mad public holds the bag.
"These manipulations of Wall Street dump on the stock exchanges and into the investment markets huge issues of stocks created in the legerdemain of corporate consolidations and combines and coated with the artful guile of attractiveness to the stock buying public.
"These stocks represent the money the big business gamblers use to form their gigantic trusts, the secret purpose of which is not one whit less nefarious than a Simon pure gamble with the credulous stock buying public. If the actual business of the combine becomes prosperous there is a chance the small investor will make a few dollars, but the greater chance is that he will lose all that he puts into the stocks of such enterprises by the time the organization securities have been 'Wetted and Squeezed' in the course of developing further and permanent consolidation and control, or an untimely end of the combine is reached in the graveyard of business ...
"Of late the public has fallen for stocks, something the average investor knows absolutely nothing about. During the recent 18-month stock market orgy, it is estimated that some fifteen million small investors (little gamblers) gambled with big business (big gamblers) to the tune of approximately $15,000,000,000 but the government income tax department is not able to find any new millionaires in this group of little gamblers.
"Labor is but another name for the 35,000,000 man-power of industrial America, which constitutes the most important part of its consuming public and no small part of the small investors who have been and are gambling with the big business gamblers. And well it behooves labor to remember that the gobbling up of business properties by capitalistic combines bred and reared in the Machiavellian unscrupulousness of Wall Street, is leading to wholesale dismissals of wage carpers and the ultimate enslavement of American labor."In subsequent issues, the editor of the Sanders County Independent Ledger continued to warn readers against investing in the stock market.
"Cliff offered the job of making cedar posts, which started a long term association of friendship," Les Snyder said.
"The previous winter, C.R. had used the river to drive a raft of cedar to the lower Bull River Bridge. As far as I recollect, that was the last log drive down the river. Making the timber at the Bull River bridge location lasted 3-4 months."16.While the sons were making posts, Ernie returned went back to South Dakota and brought his wife and their three children out to Montana. When all the family arrived they moved to C.R.'s old logging camp on the Connelly Meadow,17 south of the Lincoln-Sanders county line. There was a house, bunkhouse and an old barn for the horses.18.
Art said, "After that, we made cedar posts and poles in the upper Bull River and Bull Lake area for him."Their association followed the typical Bull River rules of neighborliness of that time. The Snyder kids shoveled manure and fed horses. Ernie filed saws. C.R. and the Snyders were getting poles out near Bull Lake. Long, straight cedar poles with average 36" butts and 9"-11" tops. One pole measured 115 feet long.
"Using a team of two horses, the poles were loaded onto two trucks, one of which had no cab," Art said. "Twenty feet of the pole hung out over the cab base and another truck under the pole where it bunked up high over the tail. The two trucks could negotiate the pole over the heads of the two drivers, like a broomstick on roller skates. Someone stopped traffic on the curves, out ahead of the load. We'd generally haul one long pole and two smaller ones.
"During the winter, with ice on the lake, we had poles to haul. Buster, C.R.'s son was driving team, skidding out 35 and 40 footers. Les, Dad and I were using cant hooks. C.R. was cussing Buster. Buster walked off. C. R. asked Les to drive the team, so Les took them.
"Poles were stopping perfect. Then two of them shot out ahead on the ice. C.R. began cussing. The same thing happened with the next pole. C.R. again cussed Les. Dad said, 'Hey, knock it off! That's my kid!'
"C.R. was on the stack with a peavey and when he aimed it at Dad, I throwed my can't hook, hitting C.R. in the belly. He ended the day. We all went home."Cliff Weare told his own version of his agreement with Snyder.
"I give Snyder a place to live, on Bull River. He wasn't much of a post splitter and he was a drinker, but he had a nice, little wife, you know. Tall, skinny woman, and a family. Two bigger boys that could work. He didn't have nothin' and no place to go. Whenever I could I got a venison for them and brought them spuds, too. He worked for me awhile there."20.
Art Snyder said, "C.R. was always hard and slow to get pay from."Dad had to pressure him. We came down to his house to get money to pay off our credit at Larson's store. C.R. was in the house reading his paper. When we came in he dropped it over his six-shooter on the desk. But Dad saw his gun. He told C.R. he needed money. C.R. offered a check, but Dad didn't want his paper, so he said, 'No, I'll take cash.'
"Both reached for the gun, Dad getting to it first. He held it on Weare. Just then Mrs. Weare came in. She said, 'I knew it! I knew you'd mess around and someone would get you!'.
"C.R. directed her to get the cash from the safe and pay Dad. Dad threw the shells on the desk before we left. It didn't faze C.R. Within the week he came back up to our house for coffee. Mrs. Weare, Ethel, was a really nice person. We used to bring a grouse or two to her. It was her favorite dish," Art said.During 1929, Pend d'Oreille Creamery Co., of Sandpoint, Idaho had been paying reasonable prices for shipments they received: Butterfat, Sweet Cream, 42 cents; sour cream 42 cents. Prices f.o.b. promising correct tests, honest weights, prompt settlements and courteous treatment.22.
Now only a year later, creamery prices dropped to 31 cents, severely depleting cash incomes from the cans of cream shipped on the Dinky, that most farmers relied on.23.
"Colonization of the Clark's Fork valley west of Thompson Falls and near Trout Creek is assured according to B. M. Baligrodsky, immigration agent for the Northern Pacific Railway, [who] said that for two years representatives of the party of settlers, which recently came to the valley, had been investigating its possibilities.
"They came more and more to realize the opportunities that the valley offered for diversified farming pursuits. As a result ... ten families came here a short time ago to cast their lot on the logged-off valley lands of the Clark's Fork valley. They represent only the advance guard of the others that are to come.
"A combination of circumstances has made possible the start on the colonization of the valley. Industrial conditions in large Eastern cities, it is said, has caused many of the Polish people, who previously farmed in Europe and later in America, to turn the West where they can escape the cities and again engage in farming.
"The valley offered a wonderful opportunity, fertile land with good water and many small streams. The people attracted here are men who will make the most of the opportunities that are offered by the soil and nature and you will find that from now on the Clark's Fork valley will expand rapidly.
"Lands are not more than five miles from the railroad. Handy shipping facilities will be available.
"The new settlers, who arrived a short time ago, are already clearing their lands and building homes in the new country, which is to be their home in the favored spot of Montana.
"During the last week, two families arrived in the district from Wheeling, West Virginia, after an inspection tour made the year before. A Butte man, who became interested in the settlement work in the valley, purchased the Hotel at Trout Creek and also acquired farm land, logged off land of the Blackfoot Land and Development Company of which Dan Arms is manager."
"The youngest and most precious child of electrical science had its world premier as a theatre attraction. "Merrill Tranor, laboratory assistant of Dr. E. F. W. Alexanderson, television pioneer, was seen and heard as he explained the way in which the pictures and the sound reached the theatre. Dr. Alexanderson is a consulting engineer of the General Electric company and the Radio Corporation of America." This is the culmination of several years' experimentation.
"isn't the terrifying figure it used to be, and the slump in the commodity prices threatens to make it still less formidable.Average cost of living decreased 20.8%. Peak costs were in June 1920, and rents and home furnishings declined steadily since 1923.26.
"The consumer dollar goes much farther than it did in 1920, and a bit further than in 1929. Purchasing power of the retail of 'home' dollar applied to foodstuffs last May was $1.056 compared with $1. in July 1929."A family spending $50 monthly for food saved from $2.50 to $3 a month,
"no small item in homes were pennies are potent."
However, when Miss Isabel Braden, county nurse, resigned, her action created a furor the length and breadth of the county. Women in particular were up in the air over it. Petitions circulated, pushed by clubs and churches in each community.27. The weekly newspaper informed readers that nevertheless, the county commissioners, guardians of the taxpayer's dollar, meeting in August,
The Weares were about to see some of their dreams come true in 1930, due to the continuing downturn in the economy.
"Ed Hessman come along. He was a tramp from Blue Hills, Nebraska," Clifford Weare said. "He knocked at the door one morning just as we'd got through eating breakfast. In 1930, during the Depression. He wanted something to eat.
'"All right. Come right in,' I said. 'There's lots of stuff on the table yet.'
"'Oh,he says, 'I'm too dirty. I don't want to go in there and eat. If you give me some potatoes and a little piece of meat and some bread, I'll go up inthe woods and cook it up myself.'
"I give him some pork and potatoes and stuff and some butter. I was starting the service station that morning. A fella was gonna help me build the service station. When he come along we went to work at that. Clearing up the ground there to put that concrete building up. I was chopping the line out where I wanted the building, you know. I staked it off. And here come Ed Hessman back.
"'I'd like to do a little something to pay for the feed that you give me,' he said.
"Well, alright. I don't need you but you can stay if you want to. You can commence to shovel around.' He stayed with me three years."29.Supplies used in the building Weare's service station included 5 ton of Red Top plaster, 50 sacks cement, 5 sacks lime, corner beads, oriental stucco, shingles and tin, ($135.55), and windows ($178), plus frames with pockets and pulleys and moldings.30.
George Ostlund, who had worked for Weare earlier had gone up to Thompson Falls for some promised carpenter work. Ostlund had gotten on a drinking spree and went back to Spokane, where Weare had first engaged him to build a two-story house, down closer to the Clark's Fork River that bordered Weare's homestead.
On March 31, 1930, George sent Weare a plea for $15 so he could get back to
"do the work at Noxon I promised to day, the deals at Thompson Falls are canceleld for the present, nothing doing here [Spokane] at present either."Ostlund owed Henry Larson and Mrs. Jenkins and in his letter to Weare he wrote, "I am in dire need of funds ..." and said that he'd sue Weare to get wages owed him, if necessary.
Ostlund calculated 254 hours between September 23, 1929 and March 13, 1930. At 75 cents an hour - $190.50, deducting 19 days board ($23.75) store ($10) and advances of $55; laundry, cigars and envelopes, leaving a balance due him of $90.20.
Two weeks later, Ostlund again wrote to Weare, from Spokane.
"... I see your attitude toward me is not pleasant, yet I presume that you deem it a great act of charity to have me stay at your ranch ... if you had settled with me before I left during Xmas, you would not have needed to extend this charity in my behalf."Ostlund goes on to tell Weare he had understood he wouldn't be charged board "in consideration of looking after things," and that he [George] was to keep track of the work done on the house. He wrote that he'd been warned that
"the outcome of our dealoings would not be satisfactory, and now that you have refused to help me in anyway ..." it distressed him.
"I regret very much that you and I should end our affairs in controversy ... In conclusion, I wish to thank you for any past favors by you, and I can assure our acquaintance has been a happy one, but I never thought our dealing should end in such a manner, wishing you every success."31.In November, Ranger Cramer transferred from Noxon to Supervisor's Office to act as assistant to Supervisor,32 and just before Christmas, Vivian Olver sent his son, Felix, to Weare,
"to fix up a note and mortgage for $45" so Olver could pay his store bill at Larson's. Mortgae terms, six months "so as to have plenty of time, but I''ll pay as soon before that date as possible. P.S. Will you let Felix have some potatoes. We could use from one to five sacks, the field run are good enough for us. What you can spare."Weare helped Felix load the car with sacks of spuds, put in some jars from Ethel's canning, and rounded out the transaction with his booming hearty laugh, along with assurances that times would get better.33.
Before Christmas, Weare paid Ostlund another $10 on his account - balance due $35.
Clifford R. Weare wrote out a holographic will leaving everything to his wife, Thel, except for $1 to each of his children, stipulating that son Clifford would help his mother and she to settle up with him. Enough post and poles were on hand to clear all his debts: $500 the the bank, $720 for his truck, $315 to Henry Larson, and $400 to his mother, Emma Weare, plus a "few small debts." 34.
Never missing an opportunity, they also held Ladies Club meetings in the lunchroom, and often as not hand-crafted garments and quilts as they passed the afternoon, waiting to ride home on the schoolbus that brought them to town in the morning.
"disregarded the wishes of a few hundred people petitioning them and have decided that Sanders County is to have no county nurse.
"Economics can be carrried too far it seems to us when the health and welfare of our young people are concerned. But the above is the decision of the county fathers at this time. We cannot predict what the future will bring forth, but we suggest an election and let the people decide."FOOTNOTES
- Loren "Lanky" Jamison, oral history 1990.
- Cyril and Ina Mercer, oral history September 22, 1983.
- Audrey Moore Brixen, letter February 6, 1990.
- Clifford R. Weare papers, march 12, 1928.
- Stewart and Agnes Hampton, oral history November 18, 1983.
- Margaret Cluzen, letter, Henry Larson sold out to Marineus January 16, 1935 after Marion made the front part of the building into a beer parlor.
- Loren "Lanky" Jamison, tape-recorded oral history December 26, 1986.
- Ruth Dettwiler McQuaide, oral history April 19, 1988.
- Sanders County Independent Ledger, May 1, 1929.
- Clifford R. Weare papers, February 24, 1929.
- Sanders County Independent Ledger, May 29, 1929.
- Sanders County Independent Ledger, September 25, 1929.
- Sanders County Independent Ledger, December 4, 1929.
- Sanders County Independent Ledger, July 17, 1929.
- Viola Vorderbrueggen Ekstedt, letter January 6, 1987.
- Les Snyder, letter January 30, 1974.
- Les Snyder, letter January 30, 1974.
- Art Snyder, oral history, 1990.
- Clifford R. Weare papers, October 5, 1929.20. Clifford R. Weare, oral history, var.
- Clifford R. Weare, tape-recorded oral history. var.
- Art Snyder, oral history, 1990.
- Sanders County Independent Ledger, May 29, 1929.
- Sanders County Independent Ledger, May 28, 1930. Also May 29, 1929: New NPRR train schedule - West; Local Gas Train 3:05 p.m. No. 3-2:22 p.m.; No. 5-3:50 a.m. East: Local Gas Train 12:22 p.m.; No.4-12:39 p.m. and No. 5-2:14 a.m. No. 1 and No.2 don't stop. R. A. Hartman agent at T. Falls, May 29, 1919.
- Sanders County Independent Ledger, March 19, 1930.
- Sanders County Independent Ledger, May 21, 1930.
- Sanders County Independent Ledger, July 16, 1930.
- Sanders County Independent Ledger, June 18, 1930.
- Sanders County Independent Ledger, August 27, 1930.
- Clifford R. Weare, tape-recorded oral history March 10, 1972,
- Clifford R. Weare papers, 1929.
- Clifford R. Weare papers, April 1, 1930; var.
- Sanders County Independent Ledger, November 19, 1930.
- Clifford R. Weare papers, December 15, 1930.
- Clifford R. Weare papers, October 8, 1930.