Chapter 5

Return from Idaho, The Trow Place

compiled by Larry REA

Doris was born at the TROW place over on the Debast Road.

Doris Marie REA born 15 Nov 1925

Rainier, Columbia Co, OR

Orville: I can remember when Doris was born, but then again it might be one of those family stories where you have heard it so often you remember being there. Dad took us up to the HOGGAT’s, who lived just above us. When he came to get us I didn’t want to leave because we were going to have “dead chicken” for dinner. I don’t remember if I’ve just been told that or if that’s the way it was.

We lived there when Esther got married, I remember that. But I wasn’t in school yet.

Ed: When we lived up in back of Rainier, on the TROW Place, Mom attended prayer meetings at the Nazarenes. Lex used to take Mom down to the prayer meeting. One night he took her down and he went on to the show to help (Uncle) Carl (MYSINGER) operate the show. He came on home to the house, Dad heard him come in and he said “Lex, where’s your mother ?” Lex never even answered, he just turned around and took off on the run. He ran clear downtown. Mom was sitting in the car waiting for him.

Ed: I used to walk into town and go to the show, then walk home again. I would peddle hand bills for the show and they would let me in free. Sometimes Mrs. WITTWER, she worked in the box office, she would holler at me, “Come on in and see the show.”

Her son, John, became the judge in Rainier and had the flower shop.

Ed: At the theatre in Rainier they had a country store on Friday, they gave out groceries and stuff as prizes. They had balloons to blow up. The biggest balloon at the end of the time won the prize. The balloons would get huge, about the time you thought you had the prize won the balloon would pop. Once in awhile they would sneak in a balloon you couldn’t blow up, the kid that got it would blow and blow, get red in the face and not get anywhere. They brought in a wrestling bear one time, there was a half Indian kid who could throw that bear as quick as could be. Finally the bear ran off stage.

Peg: Carl MYSINGER started teaching Ernie the theatre business when he was about 14 years old. That’s where he learned.

Lex: Carl MYSINGER had the movie theatre in Rainier and he broke Ernie in as a projectionist, then he would trade off with him. Ernie didn’t get paid for it right away.

Carl went to Portland and Ernie quit the mill and took that job. I fooled around a time or two and learned to run them too. I never did get paid for it I was just free help. I worked there because I got to see the shows for free. That was quite a thing, we didn’t have TV in those days.

One time, when we lived on the road that went up the hill from the Meiser Store (TROW place) I took Mom to church then ran the theatre projectors. I walked up home and forgot about Mom so I had to go clear back downtown. Carl wasn’t there that night I was running the booth by myself.

Larry: You mentioned that Grandpa (Abija Lee) REA (42) and Ernie (17) helped to build the Oregon and American Sawmill at Vernonia.

Ed: That was about 1925 or 26. They stayed over at Vernonia. The only way to get there from Rainier was to go to St. Helens and go across or go to Clatskanie and cross. It was an all day trip to go over and back.

Lex: I worked over at Vernonia too. I was fourteen when we came back from Idaho the second time. I went to work in the Oregon – American mill in Vernonia when I was 14. Dad was in the mill working and Ernie and I were on the bull gang. Construction was pretty well done, they helped build a loading dock and we worked mostly on cleanup, digging drain ditches and cleaned up the mess they made while they were building. We stayed in a boarding house over there.

Dad was working in the mill and getting $4.00 a day. Ernie and I worked nine hours and we got fifty cents an hour so we made $4.50 a day. We got fifty cents more than Dad but we had to work an extra hour to get it. We worked there one winter, we quit in the spring and went to work down at the L.B. MENEFEE, that’s what the lower mill was called then. (West Rainier) They shut down for a month and old CRAYCRAFT hired Ernie and me up at Prescott.

We bought a car from the Star garage and CRAYCRAFT had an interest in the Star garage, he didn’t want us to miss any car payments. That wasn’t our first car, we had a model T ford before that one.

We went back to the MENEFEE and worked through the winter. The next year both of us went back to Prescott. I went to work at Prescott a few days before my 16th birthday.

Ed: When I was a kid we would put up a picnic lunch on Sunday and drive to St. Helens and across to Vernonia, Mist, Clatskanie and back home. We would stop along the Nehalem River for lunch. We
drove through those big trees. It was kind of like going through the redwoods today, that’s how big the trees were.

(Edgar finished the sixth grade at Rainier (spring of 1926).)

Ed: My sixth grade teacher at Rainier, John E. ROOT, was from Salem. He stood on his head on top of a desk and drank a glass of water to demonstrate that you could swallow while you were upside down, it could be done.

( Abija (Lee) REA worked at the Prescott Mill and moved the family to Prescott.)

Ed: At Prescott we had indoor plumbing, we were the only ones in town that did, everyone else had outside privys.

Ed: I hated the knickers we wore as kids. They buttoned below the knees and we wore long socks, those were dress-up clothes. We wore button shoes and black socks. When we went out to play the socks would fall down around your shoes. I don’t remember when lace shoes came out.

I wore bib overhauls to school and as every day clothes. I think I was in the six or seventh grade before I got to wear pants that required a belt.

Lex: I went to work at the mill in Prescott a few days before my 16th birthday. (18 May 1926) I worked there for 16 years, I had the same partner, Sy GOLDEN, for 12 years.

Lex: At Prescott I pulled lumber on the sorting chain about a year. Dad was working there too, on night shift, he was marking the green chain. Every chance I got I would go up and watch him. Then I went on the day shift and the day marker quit. I asked CRAYCRAFT for the job and he gave it to me, from then on I marked the green chain.

Lex: The first time we lived at Prescott I was only 12 years old, just before we moved to Idaho. The next time we lived there I was working night shifts, Ernie and I. That was before Ernie got married. We stayed with Dad. It cost us $25 a month room and board. Of course we were only making about $75 or $80 a month.

Dad was pretty lenient about that, if we were working he thought we should chip in. $25 a month wasn’t very much.

Lex: We were living at Prescott when I worked there. Ernie and I slept together. When Ernie got married I had to sleep by myself. It was cold winter time and we had a sleeping porch. It was cold out there. We had an extension cord and a light on the end of the bed. I came in at 3 o’clock in the morning and it was colder than all get out so I untied the light cord and put the light bulb in bed with me to warm up the bed. I fell asleep and the light set the bed on fire. I turned over and put my hand in the spot that was on fire and that woke me up. I got up and put out the fire.

(Ernest Lee REA married Wilma Velore MURRAY 26 Apr 1927)

Lex: Ernie married Wilma and they moved to Portland. He read meters and started out at $100 a month. He also got a uniform allowance. When the depression came on I don’t think they ever cut him below $95 a month.

Ed: When we lived at Prescott Omar (10) got poison oak and then I got it from him. That’s the only time I got poison oak. That whole hillside was covered with it.

I believe that was about the sixth grade.

Esther: My first job was house cleaning for a lady in Prescott, a friend of the family. I worked a whole week. I washed clothes on a rub board and I cooked biscuits and dinner every night. I lasted one week. I got paid three dollars and I quit.

Esther: I went to work at the bean cannery in Rainier when I was only 14 (1926). We were living at Prescott but Grandma (Frances Cordelia ALSTON) MYSINGER was living in town and I stayed with her. I had to get a permit because I was so young. At that time we snipped beans by the box, we got paid so much a box. Later I went to work on the belts, then we got paid by the hour.

I hoed mint in West Rainier for $0.25 an hour.

Lex: When Esther worked at the cannery snipping beans she got paid by the box. She could snip beans faster than anyone I ever saw. She still didn’t make any money at it. Mom worked on the belts and I believe Grandma MYSINGER did too.

Ed: I started the seventh grade (fall of 1926) at Prescott. I went to grade seven and started the eighth at Goble (fall of 1927) while we lived on the Jordan Place.

Esther: I went to school half a year at Prescott, then we moved to Goble and lived on the Jordan place. I graduated from the eighth grade at Goble. Edmund and Mabel REA lived down by the highway (about a mile east of Goble).

Ed: Uncle Edmund had a bum leg. He bought some cows over in the valley and while he was loading them into the truck one fell against his leg and crippled him up. It bothered him for years then one day it locked up tight. They operated and took a piece of bone out of his knee.

Ed: When Uncle Edmund shinnied up a rope he would turn over and put his feet up ahead of him. He claimed he could go up the rope faster that way than head first. He was quite a character. He bootlegged whiskey. He poached deer. He played the banjo.

Ed: Uncle Edmund had a still out at Goble. Mom wouldn’t let me help him make whiskey, wouldn’t let me help him run the still, but I helped him carry the stuff he made the mash out of out to the still. He made corn whiskey. I worked for him quite a bit. I did farm work, milked the cows, plowed ground, and spread manure. I stayed at their house while I worked for him.

Ed: There was a big still up behind the Jordan place. The guy that lived there ahead of us delivered milk into Portland. He took it in 10 gallon cans. I guess he hauled a lot of whiskey into Portland.

Ed: Edmund was quite a hunter. He hunted deer out of season, anytime he had a chance. One year he killed 27 deer. They ate a lot of deer meat but I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t sell deer meat too.

Ed: Uncle Edmund died when he was out elk hunting over in Idaho. They didn’t find him for several days. They were about to lynch his hunting partner, they thought he had done away with Edmund. Apparently Edmund took out after a herd of elk and went too far, too fast. They found him leaning against a log, his rifle beside him. He wasn’t very old either (47).

Esther: When we lived on the Jordan place Lex and I had Dad’s car. It was Thanksgiving evening and we went out to see Cordy. We were supposed to be home at a certain time. It was pouring down rain. The car quit us, we were out pushing the car. I don’t know how we were going to get it over Mercer Hill but we were going to coast down into town. Art (ZIMMERMAN) came by and gave us some gas. ( I didn’t know it was Art then, he told me years later it was him.) The car started right up. When we got home, we were late, and Dad wanted to know what happened. We told him we ran out of gas. He took the car the next morning to get gas and the tank was nearly full. I don’t know what happened to make it quit.

Art: It had rained so hard the road was flooded and I couldn’t get home from work. I was headed back to town to stay at the hotel when I found them. They probably hit a puddle and drowned out.

Lex: Up on the JORDAN place, Dad had a bunch of cows. He had six cows or so and he wanted some of them bred so he borrowed the neighbor’s bull. Then he took the notion to take Mom and the rest of the kids to the beach for the weekend. I was working night shift so Dad asked me to look after the cows while he was gone. The first night I went out to milk the cows I saw the bull and thought he had broke in so I opened the gate and ran him off ! Dad didn’t tell me he brought the bull out there.

Art: I knew Lee (REA) first. I saw him down on the green chain at Prescott when I was pulling stickers along side of him. Buck worked at the lath mill where I worked.

Ed: Buck and George HANSEN took a contract to operate the lath mill. Buck ran it nights and George ran it days. They cut lath and broom handle stock. Art (ZIMMERMAN) and Charlie MICK salvaged wood from the wood conveyer before it went into the burner and they put it on the chain for the lath mill. They shut down the lath mill so Buck was out of a job. They didn’t have seniority in those days.

Art: I remember Ernie, the night he got married he quit.

(Earnest Lee REA married Wilma Velore MURRAY 26 Apr 1927)

Esther: He went to Portland as soon as he got married.

Art: Lex worked down there a long time. He graded lumber.

Lex: I was already marking the green chain when I met Art. He started going with Esther. When I was on night shift Art and Harold were on the two inch chain and I was over marking on the one inch chain. Harold was on the clear transfer and Art was stacking there. I knew them but not well until they started going with Esther, we got pretty well aquainted then. I met Oscar after Art, he was down at the lath mill.

Art: The guy at Goble that used to hunt at Seneca, he and Edmund went out to Clark and Wilson’s to steal some pigs. They walked all the way home through the woods.

Ed: I believe that was Russel McKinister, he hunted in Seneca anyway.

Lex: That was Russel McKinister and they went out to Camp Wilark to steal the pigs. I don’t remember if they got the pigs but they walked home through the woods.

Orville: I remember living at Goble, the Jordan place, and getting into green apples. Mom chased me with a switch. I ran and hid up in the loft of the barn. You know me, I hid there and she would never have found me but she hollered, “Orville, where are you? “I answered, “I’m up here.” She said, “Come on down here,” then she tanned my butt with that switch.

Orville: I remember the boys when they were working and they told me, if they found a silver dollar rolling uphill with a log chain on it, they would get it for me. They did bring me some money and I hid it out by the garage. Never did find it again. It was in a milk can. As far as I know it’s still there.

MariJane: Did you bury it ?

Orville: Yeah, I heard about some rich folks burying their money, so I buried mine too.

Orville: I don’t think I could find the Jordan place, if it’s still there I might recognize it. I remember the barn was across a little stream, a wet weather stream.

Ed: When Orville was just a little fellow we had a silver thaw and it was icy. I put him on something so he could slide and he slid down where the pond was, a little depression, and he couldn’t get back up out of there. I finally took a hammer and broke steps in the ice so I could go get him. He was four or five years old.

Ed: When I was in the eighth grade at Goble there were only three of us. I finished the eighth grade at Rainier. We moved to Rainier that spring (1928) when Dad (Lee) went to work at the lower mill (Dubois-Kettering).

We moved back to the Trow Place. Art and Esther were married in that house.

Esther: Dad sold the TROW place but we got it back because whoever bought it didn’t finish paying for it.

Ed: Dad sold the TROW place to PETERS, father of Amos PETERS, Amos owns Peter’s Construction in Longview,WA.

Esther: One time we were going to Idaho to pick apples. I think I was 16 then. (1928) There were nine of us in the car. Ed, Omar, Ruth, Orville, Floy, Doris, Mom, Dad, and me. We were stacked in. The big kids would get in first, then the little kids would sit in our laps. I don’t know what kind of car it was, it had fenders and running board racks. We put our clothes and stuff on the fender and running board on one side, the other side had to be clear so we could open the doors to get in and out.

We had been running over tumble weeds. We saw this big tumble weed out there and Dad hit it. It turned out to be a rock. After Dad hit the rock the sparks were just flying from the motor. When he pulled off the road he pulled up tight against the rock wall, without thinking, we didn’t have much room to get out of the car. We all had to scoot out with the sparks a flying. A car came by and towed us back to Rufus. We stayed at Rufus while Dad got a new motor put in the car.

We didn’t have a place to stay and we didn’t have a tent. We stayed in someone’s garage. The dust was several inches thick. Dad had to order a new engine and put it in.. Us kids used to go up on top of the hills there. The wind really blew.

The day we got ready to go the lady at the rooming house came over and asked me if I wanted to go to work as a waitress. I could have worked the whole time we were there. I would have looked like a mud baby. I believe we were there about a week. That was quite a stay.

Ed: Dad had a Star sedan, that was the car he ran into the rock. He said, ” That’s a tumble weed, No !, it’s a rock and it’s too high!”

Myrtle: He never swore, he used swear words only when he was quoting somebody, then he would put the words in.

Larry: Esther said none of the REA boys ever swore.

Ed: We were scared to swear.

That rock hit the flywheel and broke every main bearing in the motor. We had to put in a new motor.

Us kids would climb the hill behind Rufus. It was real steep, about as steep as you could climb. We would pull our coat up this way and make a sail out of it, the wind blew hard and you could really travel.

Esther: I met Art when I was playing hooky from school. Cordy wanted to go to Prescott to see Lex about something so we walked down town on our lunch hour. She knew Art, she saw his car so she talked him into taking us out to Prescott to see Lex.

Art: I never got away after that.

You know where those three houses were that used to sit across the highway from the Chevrolet garage, SILVA had a garage there then, where the shell station is now. Harold and I, and Curly (GRESSET), lived in the second house out there. Louise (GRESSET) came down to cook for us, she stayed a little while then she left.

Anyhow my Model T was sitting by the Chevrolet garage, that’s the only place I had to park, whether I ate there or not. (?)(?)

Esther: We got married in the Trow house in 1929. WOODS owned it but was called the Trow place.

(Esther married Arthur James ZIMMERMAN 13 May 1929)

Art: Lee went to Idaho and he told Esther and I we could live in their house. We could have the cherries up on the hill. I went up to pick them and old man WOODS came up and ran me out because I was stealing his cherries. He was a banker and owned the place all right. Lee had it rented, or was supposed to have, thought he had it rented.

Myrtle: I was with Art and Esther and helped them pick the cherries. Mr. WOODS let us keep half of what we had picked.

Esther: When we got married Art was making $120 a month working in the lath mill at Prescott. We didn’t have income tax in those days so we got to keep it all. That was a decent wage for those days.

Lex: At Prescott we worked eight hours and forty minutes so we got Saturday after noon off. That was a forty eight hour week straight time. The mills ran pretty steady. They worked Thanksgiving day and News Years day, we worked Christmas eve but not Christmas day. We worked six days a week straight time. When the depression hit they started curtailing work, two or three days a week. We didn’t get vacations but I took a 30 day leave of absence and went to Idaho.

Art: When we first got married I took thirty days leave from the mill and we went over to Idaho. We picked apples and topped onions in the Boise Valley. The mill wasn’t down, we didn’t get a vacation in those days, so I laid off.

Esther: We went over there because the folks were up there.

[See story about Boise valley, Star Orchards. (1929)]

Esther: That was the year that Grandma ROSS died. She got sick right after we left and died after we got back. She actually wasn’t our grandma, she was Buck’s grandma but we called her Grandma.

Ed: We lived up by the high school in 1929. (910 East Street) You remember the house that Coach Eldon KELLER lived in (1955) across the street from Bill JANVRIN ? Al MAGLONE lived there before that. That’s the house we lived in.

Then we lived in the RICE house down in West Rainier in 1930.

I was still home when Esther came home to have Evelyn. There were two houses, I think Mom and Dad just rented the little house and the bean patch, I don’t believe they lived there.

I worked for a Japanese fellow, a cauliflower farmer, in West Rainier. That was a good deal, I got paid for working and he also let me have all the cauliflower I wanted. I would sack it up and take it uptown to sell for seventy-five cents a sack. It was good cauliflower, it might have a little blemish and be discarded. I also sold him beer. He would have a bunch down from Portland, to drink beer, so I would give Art three dollars for a dozen quarts, I got four dollars from the Jap. I was about sixteen then.

The Rice House was just below the bridge, we kept a rowboat and tied it up by the railroad tracks–now there is a sand beach for a quarter of a mile before you get to the river.

When they built the bridge I had a good view, we lived in West Rainier at the Rice House. When they laid the first piece of steel between the two sides one of the guys jumped on and ran across. That made the bigshots mad, they wanted to have a celebration and be the first ones to cross.

Then we moved to Kentucky Flats to Grandma (Frances Cordelia ALSTON) MYSINGER’s house.

Orville: In fact we were in Idaho when I started school. Over at Upper’s Ferry or Lower’s Ferry, something like that. (Lower Fairview according to Ed Rea) We weren’t living there, just visiting, but I started school. I think we were staying with Uncle Ed and Aunt Suzy BOWERS.

I got into trouble at school, I didn’t do it, but I had to wash all the girl’s toilet seats. They said I wet all over them but I wasn’t even in there. They kept me after school. Dad came to get me. He said ” We’re going back to Oregon”. So we moved back to Rainier and I went to school there.

I think we lived in Grandma MYSINGER’s old place out there on Kentucky Flat. I was in school, Doris used to come meet me by that big tree there just above Fern Hill road at that corner. Her and my dog, Teddy.

There used to be a bull dog there, one of those great big, ugly bull dogs. He would sit in my wagon and scare the hell out of me. I wouldn’t take that wagon for nothing, he could have it.

Ed: The bull dog just wanted a ride in the wagon.

Orville: I went to school there until the third grade, we moved to Fern Hill, the WILDER place.

Ed: My Dad didn’t believe in high school. A couple of high school kids worked during the summer at Prescott and they acted like smart alecks. Dad didn’t think much of that. He thought we should take correspondence courses. Ernie and Lex did that. I laid out a year and got a late start the next year. I was just too far behind so I quit and got a job. You didn’t need much education to pull lumber on the green chain or work in the woods.

End of Chapter 5

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