(Written by Monteen Poteete Purdie on the occasion of her parent's Golden Wedding Anniversary)

Frank, the horse, clopped along the muddy, red-clay mountain road scarcely aware of the happy couple in the little black carriage behind. It was mid-morning, rainy, and they had just left the Justice of the Peace where their marriage had been performed, in the buggy, beside a river. The circuit rider minister would not be back for a few weeks so the Justice of the Peace performed the ceremony, as Grandpa Chapman had done when he served in that capacity. They were now starting their life journey together, and if the groom could have foreseen eight girls and two boys he might have wanted to consider this venture a bit further. If the bride could have foreseen the weariness and frustrations, it might have seemed disheartening, but not overwhelming, as having ten children was a goal of hers, and having been a country school teacher, handling children was not difficult for her.

Daddy's grandfather had a two-room log cabin on the family farm and this cabin was their first home. I was born here, and when I was five months old, the promise of easy money and plentiful jobs in California called them from the livelihood of backwoods mountain farming. They came to Bakersfield where Daddy was employed by the Southern Pacific Railroad. From here he was sent to Kerman, up near Fresno. They arrived with their fortune of $80.00 of which they spent $12.00 for a few basic household articles.

Their next daughter arrived in October 1917, and was appropriately called Reinette (Little Queen) after her nurse. Shortly after the birth of Reinette, a trip was made back to Georgia. These were two homesick young people, 3,000 miles away from home, which was a long way in those days. On the train I got the whooping cough and Reinette became ill and remained so through most of the miserable, unusually cold winter.

Later Daddy was transferred to Taft where Max was born. We lived in a little railroad box car, with added rooms, which had been converted into living quarters adjacent to the tracks. I can remember riding over to Bakersfield with Daddy to get Aunt Laurie (Laura Chapman Watson) who was to take care of the family during Mother's confinement. I wasn't too happy about having Aunt Laurie there as she sometimes seemed stern and forbidding. Aunt Laurie's home on the corner of McCord Avenue in Bakersfield has since lost all of its former impression of prosperity. Then it was a well kept home with Persian rugs, piano, musical instruments, vineyards, orchards, cows, pigs, horses, and also at one time a hand pump on the porch that supplied water for the house. Aunt Laurie, (although most of our in-laws don't know her), was a strong, self reliant, compassionate woman with a warm sense of humor. She was Mother's oldest sister, confidant and friend, and was interwoven into the fabric of our lives during those years in a most meaningful way. In this resumŽ of Mother and Daddy's 50 years together, Aunt Laurie deserves a special place. Her death in 1938, from pneumonia, left a poignant loss for Mother.

During the first world war Daddy held two jobs. During the day he worked in a warehouse and at night he was a night watchman for the locomotives on the Railroad. This was also the time of the dreadful influenza epidemic of 1918 when thousands of people died. For protection, people wore masks over their faces when out in public and the prime topic of conversation at that time was of the many people that had the "flu" and those who had died.*

Another trip was made to Georgia shortly after the birth of Ruth, again with the convenience of a railroad pass. I was six years old and that was the last trip home for Mother for over twelve years when she and Aunt Laurie returned because of the ill health of Grandpa Chapman.

While Ruth was still a baby $700 was paid for a little house up on Rose Avenue in Taft. This house also grew along with the increasing family. Daddy was now working with the Standard Oil Company. People were coming to Taft in great numbers because of the oil industry and we always made room for relatives. Our cousin, Wilford (John Wilford Poteete) stayed with us for some time, also Buell (Elliott), Tac and Lowing (Poteete) and Uncle Bob (Chapman) were there at various times. If they weren't living with us they were frequently visiting. This is an opportune moment to tell of how our many relatives have added to our lives--their belonging and being part of us, their interest and concern for us; real friends by choice instead of just relatives. It is extremely satisfying to be part of such a large family circle.

Jeanne was born in 1922....Lucille, 1925....Peggy in 1927. The summer was extremely hot the year Peggy was born and Mother worried for fear Peggy would suffer from the heat during her early infancy. Sometimes the water was so hot coming from the tap that it was unnecessary to heat it before washing dishes.

The laundry was a big chore for us. We didn't have a washing machine for years and it was an arduous job to heat water in the clothes boiler and use the scrub board getting the clothes clean. When we did get our copper-tub Easy Washer machine the laundry was so simple to do in comparison that frequently I fell heir to the job.

Aside from the usual duties of managing a large brood of children, Mother was busy doing all our sewing, and canning great quantities of fruit, jams and jellies. Much of the produce came from Aunt Laurie's and Uncle Tom's. We were grateful for Daddy's love of watermelon and helped him consume huge quantities. During the summers we would go to Pensinger's Ranch in Old River and get dozens of watermelons, and quantities of peaches and corn. Our Hupmobile would be filled with fruit and melons after a trip to Old River.

We were extremely proud of our player piano. Our relatives would gather round and we'd pump out tunes such as "When You and I Were Young, Maggie", "Charlie, My Boy", "Rainbow Round My Shoulder", etc. Before we had the piano we had the wind-up phonograph that provided many hours of satisfied listening.

Then came the time the Standard Oil Co. was having to lay off people and had alerted Daddy of the possibility of being transferred to Bakersfield or being laid off. In case he lost his job he had a trailer made and ready to help us move to Georgia, a move we kids were eagerly anticipating, so it was a great disappointment to us for Daddy to be transferred to Bakersfield.

It did not take long to find our new house. Two and one-half acres with a rickety old house perched about four feet up, was available on McCord near Aunt Laurie, and $2,500 cash made it ours. This was what Mother and Daddy had dreamed of Ñ some land to work on! This property had about 20 large Cottonwood trees, two Chinese Umbrella trees and one apricot tree. The rest of the land had an enormous amount of tall, grey ragweed growing profusely. Daddy, with the help of relatives, quickly removed all the Cottonwood trees to the dismay of the neighbors who thought we were ruining the place. Soon, walnut, almond, peach, plum, fig and apricot trees were planted; also a large patch of corn with beans and a vegetable garden, and alfalfa was brilliantly green in the fields. Cows and chickens and bees helped supplement our food supply.

The Depression was now beginning and Daddy had to work in Santa Fe Springs a few months--greatly interfering with his farm work, and also increasing the responsibilities for Mother who was awaiting the birth of Carol. With Carol's birth there were ten in the family, crowded into this two-bedroom house with no sink, hot water or bathroom. Although times were very bad, our house was built--financed by Mother and Daddy's savings. The old house was moved back out of the way and we lived in it until the new house could be occupied. Of course, all the usable material was salvaged from the old house--doors, windows, faceboards, etc., and used in the new construction, material not bright and new, but serviceable and paid for.

We lived in our new house several months before Alan arrived. We had no pretty accessories in the house such as rugs, pictures, vases, knick-knacks, but we did have a bathroom and everything was paid for, including the new brother.

Money was scarce, but since Mother and Daddy had always been frugal we children scarcely knew the difference. Mother and Daddy have always been keenly grateful and appreciative to Mr. Coats, our grocer, who readily supplied groceries, even though our bill was astonishingly high, and he never hinted that he would appreciate a little money--knowing when at all possible it would be paid. Even though we were poor, we didn't feel poor. We had good health, energy and there was no poverty of spirit.

We were still washing diapers for Alan when it became apparent another little one would join us--Jessie. How I would dread having my babies as Mother had hers. In the hospital I was treated like a queen and everything was wonderful, including our new little bit of humanity, but with Mother, there she was with our noise, confusion, arguments, disorder and kindly, make-shift care. Fifty dollars was the usual price of the confinement, which is unheard of today.

Times began to slowly get better, and after graduation from high school and a job for me we didn't feel the financial strain as acutely. We were able to buy the two adjoining acres for $500.00 and also buy a badly needed second car. The trees had grown, the barn was full of livestock, the older children could do more and help with the younger ones. Aside from church functions, friends and reading, we now had a radio for pleasure. Jack Benny and Amos 'n Andy were Daddy's favorites. When supper time came it was difficult getting the little ones away from Heigh-Ho Silver.

Living in our family wasn't smooth and easy. There was a tremendous amount of work to do and it was hard to keep things in order (youngsters are lazy). There were too many clothes, books and various personal belongings. Getting off to school and Sunday School became increasingly hectic until the moment of departure. I used to feel sorry for Mother always having to go to the barn to milk, but now realize that often she must have been happy to escape to the peaceful cows. The icky mud, manure smells and the buzzing flies must have been preferable to the noisy, irritable children getting ready to go to school with someone complaining about not being able to get in the bathroom, who wore whose stuff, and where the mislaid things were.

Two years after I was married, Reinette and Tim were married. In the interval the house was remodeled with two bedrooms added on upstairs, making it much more convenient--this as a result of Reinette's added paycheck. When Tim became part of our family he added color and interest. His activities had a flair of originality and his joy and interest in people created many diversions and especially exciting times. His generosity and concern for our family has never failed.

The war years come. Max enlisted and eventually was flying B-25's over Northern Italy where he received the Distinguished Flying Cross. Jeanne donned the WAVES uniform and served in Washington, D.C. While so many people were annoyed by food shortages there was always plenty of meat, vegetables, milk and butter and sugar at 201 McCord. Among my many pleasant memories of living with Mother and Daddy was the delicious food--an abundance of good pies, corn, string beans, chickens and steaks. In the winter the freezer was well supplied from the summer's harvest.. Hundreds of gallons of ice cream were made over the years and enjoyed by many. I suppose Mother had made enough biscuits to equal almost anyone either here or in Grass Valley. As far as beans are concerned (green, pink, lima, navy, black-eyed peas), we have had our full share of those.

The war ends. Lucille marries, then Max, Jeanne, Peggy, Carol and Ruth--all to wonderful people they met at church.

At the time of Daddy's retirement Alan is away in the Navy, and Jessie is attending Redlands University. The house is too large and a change is desirable--hence the move to Grass Valley to the beautiful house in the pines, a place richly deserved. After the deep roots in Bakersfield it seemed strange that 201 McCord would no longer be home to us. It was filled with so many happy memories making it dear to our hearts.

In 1954 Jessie returned to Bakersfield to be married by Dr. Barrett who had married all of us children. Bev (Borror) flew to Japan where she and Alan were married. Now Mother and Daddy are alone in their home at last. Our parents are humble and thankful for their children and their families. Their thirty grandchildren and one great grandchild are a rich heritage.

A time of sorrow came in the loss of Peggy and Clyde's newborn son, Charles. Last Year Dorie was killed and Carey was desperately injured. How can we say enough of Dorie? Everyone loved her. How superbly capable, understanding, and loving she was. Superlatives are the only adjectives adequate in telling of Dorie and it was our good fortune that she was one of us. It will be a joyous reunion in heaven to greet her. We feel a miracle, wrought by God, has restored Carey to us.

We now honor the fifty years together of Mother and Daddy. They were hard, taxing years, yet more than filled with the rich rewards of love, companionship and pleasure. We were a fortunate family in that the solid foundation of our home, Mother and Daddy's marriage, was never shaken. Their pleasure was in their family and they devoted their lives, literally, to us--teaching us by the precepts of the Bible. They gave us their best--Daddy with his boundless supply of energy and ability and Mother with her understanding, wise counseling and love.

I feel we are rich and blessed beyond measure.

Monteen Poteete Purdie

(1964)