Chapter 8

The Browning Place

compiled by Larry REA

(Orville) When we moved from the Wilder Place we went to the Browning Place by Stehman school. That was about the 4th or 5th grade. I went to school with Dorothy and Bob ZIMMERMAN.

(Doris, age 8, and Orville, age 11, were listed in the Stehman records for the school year 1934-35. Their teacher was Elsa Erickson.)

When we lived on the Browning place I was swinging on a tire we had tied up in a tree to use as a swing. I was swinging back and forth and Doris came running up, I hit her with both feet in the stomach. She ran in and told Dad, “Daddy, Orville kicked me in the belly.” Boy, he didn’t listen to reasoning at all, he just whipped me. Doris still laughs about that.

Orville: Down at the Browning Place, the boys wanted to get up early so I set the alarm clock, turned a dish pan upside down and put the alarm clock on top of it. Boy, when it went off, they booted me out of bed and I had to build a fire at 05:00 AM !

I was always lazy, one time when it snowed, instead of going to the outhouse, I went to pee out the window and wham, a snowball hit me right in the belly. I think it was Buck that threw it.

Lex: At the Browning place, we used to go across the road on the Borne place and go “hooter” hunting. It was the spring of the year and of course season wasn’t open on them. So we were out there one
time, Art, Ed, me, maybe Omar too. Anyhow we got four hooters. An owl flew out of a tree and I shot it. When we came in we kept the hooters out of sight but we showed the kids, Doris was little then,
we showed them the hoot owl. Mom cooked the hooters for supper and we were talking about the hooters. The next day Doris went to school and told the teacher that we had fried hoot owl for supper
last night.

Ed: Granddad (Theodore Columbus REA) came to stay with us at the Browning place. The barn sat out a couple hundred feet from the house. One day I was sitting out on the porch and Granddad came,
boy, he was just trotting along. He said, ” What’s those green vines out there back of the barn ? ” I told him that was stinging nettle and he said, “Boy, it sure does!”

Myrtle: Stinging nettle didn’t work very well for toilet paper, did it?

Ed: He lived with us and went back and forth to Idaho. He repaired boxes for Uncle Ed BOWERS at the Star Orchards. Uncle Ed used to get so unhappy at him. He paid him to repair boxes. He bought nails
to use but Granddad would gather up all the old nails, hammer them out straight and use them. Ed would tell him, ” Leave them go, it costs me more money to have you take the time to straighten those
nails than it does to buy new ones. ” Granddad just couldn’t waste those nails, he had to straighten and use them.

Granddad went back and forth to Idaho quite a bit. He stayed with Uncle Vesper [KINDALL] and Edmund [REA] over in Idaho. He would stay with Edmund until he got mad at Edmund then he would
come and stay with my folks. When he got unhappy about something he would take off to Idaho again.

Esther: I just barely remember Grandma REA (INMAN), she died before we came to Oregon (1919).

Ed: She got tired, went to bed, and died. She wasn’t very old. She died when I was just a tiny baby.

[Martha Alice (Inman) Rea died 20 sep 1917]

[Theodore Columbus Rea died 11 nov 1938]

Orville: The Browning place isn’t there any more. Lex built a place right by it, Lex’s old place is still there.

Lex: That house wasn’t very big. The first part was 12 x 18, something like that, it didn’t take long to build. It burned down here while back and Sleepy sent me a newspaper clipping that said the loss was $30,000. Gee Whiz, I don’t think I paid over $50 for the materials for that house.


Esther: We were up picking cherries and Evelyn stayed with Mom and Dad, they were living on the Browning place. They started Evelyn in school at Fern Hill even though she was only five years old.
Then they built the house on Floy and Cyril’s (WITHAM) place and moved there. It wasn’t finished and it was real cold so I brought her home to Rainier. I thought that since she had already gone to school at Fern Hill they would let her continue in Rainier but they wouldn’t. So she started all over again the next year.

Larry: Abija Lee Rea purchased land known as, “The SW quarter of the SE quarter of section 36, township 7 North, range 3 West; except 10 acres sold by Dean Stehman and Matilda Stehman to John H. Simon” from Columbia County on a tax certificate. The property was bounded on the North by George Williams and on the East by George Corrigan. The title was dated 3 Nov 1938.

(Apparently the title was issued only after the property was paid for as they lived there as early as 1935-36.)

Ed: Dad [Lee Rea] dealt for the property where Floy and Cyril [Witham] eventually built their house. We were going to build a log house so Mom [Lydia] and I cut logs and peeled them. I think they eventually used the logs for wood. Omar and I started the house, we used green rough-cut second growth lumber from Cecil Girt’s mill. When the lumber dried out it left cracks you could throw a cat through. I went to work at Bradwood before the house was finished. I don’t know who helped Omar finish it.

We had been over to Payette picking fruit and Mom found a kitchen stove she liked so she bought it. They shipped it to Rainier when we came back and we put it in that house. It was a huge stove, one of those old fashioned wood ranges.

When Mom made biscuits, she didn’t use a bowl she mixed them in the top of the flour sack. She used a bread pan to bake in. It was large enough for four or five loaves of bread and she would fill it solid. The biscuits would be four or five inches thick. When she made bread the loaves in the middle had crust only on the top and bottom. We liked the bread on the ends, they had more crust. I would come home from work and get a loaf of bread hot from the oven, peel off the top and put some good cow’s butter and jam on it and eat the whole thing.

We ate lots of fried pie. She would make a pie crust and put fruit on it, fold the crust over and fry it on both sides. Mom also made biscuits we called, “Horned Toads”. The batter was thinner than biscuit batter and she poured it on the pan. When it baked the top was rough, not smooth like a biscuit.

(Orville) Dad had about 40 acres in there. Dad and the boys built the house. Lex built a house on that property. Floy and Cyril bought a piece from Dad and built there. I was basically lazy but I helped. That was about the time Ed had his appendix out, the winter after we moved there. Ed was in one bed and Ruth had pneumonia and was pregnant with Janice. She had a bed in one corner of the room and Ed was in the other corner of the living room.

You could look down through the cracks in the floor. We used green shiplap lumber and when it dried it left cracks in the floor. God, was it cold.

(Ed) I had my appendix out the spring of 1936. Mom was afraid I would freeze to death trying to sleep upstairs so they fixed me a cot by the fire place. Ruth had pneumonia, I guess she slept there too. She was pregnant with Janice at the time.

(Orville) I don’t remember very much about all the kids being there. It was mostly Doris, Floy, Ruth and me. I mostly had my own room except when Omar would come home, he would sack out with me.

(Ed) After I had my appendix out, I couldn’t go back to logging so I operated the ferry from Rainier to the Fibre. That was before the Elsinore, it was the huff-and-puff that Gary (Showalter) bought (ca 1953). I think Bill Manning owned the ferry then. I lived in a boat house on the river. It would tilt with the tide so it was never level.

see chapter on Ed and Sleepy married——–


(Lex) When 3.2 was the only beer we had, they had 5 cent glasses and 10 cent glasses. Ed and I got into a contest to see how much beer we could drink and we drank 32 glasses of beer. The tavern closed so I bought a couple of half gallon jugs and we were going to continue but Ed got sick !

(Lex) One time I went into this same tavern and wanted a glass of beer. I laid down a $20 bill. The bartender said he couldn’t break it just yet, I should wait until he got a little more money in the till. I put the $20 back in my pocket. A little while later the bartender came back and said he could break the $20 so he laid down two tens, picked up one and went to the till. He brought back $9.90 in change and I still had my $20 !

(Orville) In the eighth grade we got up a basketball team, there were just enough to make a team. That year I was sliding down a hill on a bobsled and broke an ankle. I didn’t get to play any more. That was at Fern Hill. I don’t think we ever won a game. That was about the time they built the playshed. It didn’t have a floor, just that hard red clay. You would run and get sweaty and your legs would turn bright red from the clay.


(Orville) I remember the apple pies Sleepy used to make. All that time when we didn’t have any money, they had that old cow, old Cindy. We lived across the road so Floy and Doris and I would go over there and Sleepy, she’s the best pie maker, she would fix some apple pies and whip up some
cream from Cindy, and we would have apple pie and whip cream. She said she was making apple pies in her last letter, I told her that sure brought back some good old memories.

They had that cow for a good long time , she didn’t give a lot of milk but it sure was good and rich.

Orville finished the eighth grade at Fern Hill School.


We moved to town, I went to high school at Rainier. I think they just moved to get Dad closer to work. He worked at the lower mill.

(Larry) Dad tells the story about you being in FFA and for a penny a piece he bought $3.00 worth of chickens.

(Orville) Oh yeah, I had a project, I think we ate most of them, we ate the eggs because there wasn’t any market for them.

I had a brood sow too, we raised pigs. That was the meanest hog I ever saw. You take a little sack of feed, it would grab that sack and run off with it. The sack would weigh close to a hundred pounds.

(Orville) When I was a freshman, we had a deal where I could go to the Treasure Island Expo in San Francisco. That was 1937. Ed and the others helped pay my way. I think it was about $13.00. We stayed in a Boy Scout camp in Oakland. Ed had a camera and gave it to me to take pictures, I took all the pictures I could and when I got home there was a little crack in the camera and not one of them took.

That trip was through FFA and our instuctor, PHILPOTT was his name, nice young guy, of course I thought he was an old man then, he was a nice guy. We spent a week down there and it was fun. We saw Sally RAND. The instructor got kicked out of one display, the woman without a head, they had those tubes running in, it was done with mirrors. The sign says “no cameras “. He climbed up on
the fence and took a picture, they took him and his camera right out the door. That was a good trip.

End of Chapter 8

Print Friendly, PDF & Email