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Saturday, May 30, 2009

In her Own Words: Marge the Sarge

(I've put this off long enough. What follows is a partly-completed series of notes on her life that my mother wrote sometime in the 1980s. There are 58 numbered pages, of which 2 are missing. All written by hand in pencil, this is the fullest account we'll ever have. Although I know some of her dates to be way off, and some of the truth is played with, I'm not going to edit or correct anything. These are Marge's words as she wrote them. Nothing has been altered, even for spelling. I'll post this in several parts, as it's long, and as I can stand to type it up. I take absolutely no responsibility for what she wrote, for any lies or stories. I'll be sending the original to the family archivist once it's done.)

My first memories are from the hamlet where I was born. It was a very cold-snowy morning on March 16, 1924 7:30 a.m. when another small squall of a baby was heard in the small farmhouse alongside the Delaware River in Horton NY. Laura Mae Day Hendrickson + Fredrick Hendrickson had number 7 child- me! There was no doctor present- as the women those days delivered their children with the help of their mothers and female neighbors as I have been told. My mothers mother -and my Dad- and one other relative were with my mother at the time of my arrival in this vale of tears.

From word of mouth -handed down to each generation I was told a little of the history of my parents. My mother was the daughter of Oly+John Day. I was never told if they were born in the USA but I assumed that they were- and that their parents had been here for at least 1-2 generations before them -Grandmother Oly-had -had 2 sons and 1 daughter (my mother) by Granddad Day- who had passed on some years before my birth. She was at the time of my arrival married to my father's oldest brother Alvie and they had one daughter-Helen-

On my father's side his father was Joseph Hendrickson whose people had also been here for sometime. My Granddad Joseph- was the first white man to settle the town of Livingston Manor, NY- where theres still a placque to him- He married the daughter of a local Indian Chief "Big Feather" and Grandmother was called Little Flower- the Indians usually name their babies after the first thing the mother sees at the time the baby is born. Grandmother had a sister named White Flower-my great aunt. Who I was to learn much later is my spiritual guide along with her husband Brown Bear. From the Shoshone tribe- My Dad's parents had 4 sons and 1 daughter of which my Dad was the youngest.

My parents had 6 children before me. The first was Edith who died at around 1 1/2 from a bee sting in her mouth. Then came Madeline (Nettie as we all called her) Bert, Roy, Elvina, Thelma who died at birth- and now #7 me.

My Dad being a half-breed found it hard to get work off the farm- But about a half mile from the farm there was what everybody called the Acid Factory. I have no idea what was made there. Dad was working there along with the farmwork at the time I was born. Our house was very old. It had 3 small bedrooms-living room + kitchen+ of course no electricity- running water or bathroom- the boys slept in one BRM- the girls in the second- and mom-dad and the youngest child at the time in the 3rd B.R. There was an outhouse- with the infamous 3 holes at the back of the house near the Delaware River- and we got our water from the well or from the river when the well was low. The house was heated by a woodstove in the kitchen used also for cooking and baking and a pot belly stove in the living rm for heat- and every Sat. nite baths in the wash tub. We had an old wind up victrola with one record called the "Two Black Crows. that we kids listened to over + over.

The farm was made up. of 2 cows for milk chickens for the table-and the eggs- 3- or 4 pigs that were butchered in the fall and put in big wooden barrels in brine to get the family through the winter months. Along with the deer my father hunted. He used to trap rabbits as well- and my mother and older kids of the family caught fish mainly trout and eel from the river- these were our main supply of food. Along side the house was a sandhole where we younger kids played. Dad had a very old car- a model. T. that was used very rarely I was playing in the sandhole one day- and had my legs up over the top. As I was laying on my belly- Dad came in with the car -and ran over my legs as he didn't see me- I didn't get badly hurt as I got up and ran into the house.

Our clothes were all made by our mother and grandmother on an old peddle machine or sewn by hand. Material was used over and over handed down from oldest to youngest- + from other branches of the family and neighbors.

Our veg were always grown in a small piece of ground near the barn- and whatever wild- leeks etc that we found in the woods.

About a 1/4 mile from the farm was an old covered wooden bridge going across the Delaware to the main road- that led to the general store- gas station- post office- and the one rm school house that all the kids from the surrounding farms went to. We kids used to love to play hide and seek in the covered bridge- and after dark- scare the Dickens out of each other. It used to scare us half to deathwhen the gypsies would make their camp on a field on the other side of the river from our farm- as we were told that if we were bad we would be sold to the Gypsies. Boy were we kids ever glad to see them pack up and move on. In those days. the KKK was all over. And we used to see them ride down the main road in their white sheets- that made them look like ghosts- headed to who knows where probably to their meetings or whatever else they were up to. They threatened my Dad a few times as half-breeds + Indians seemed to be on their hate list too. I never saw a black person around those parts- so guess that the Indians +half-breeds were the only ones they had to pick on.

On Aug. 3- 1926 the Hendrickson's had another addition. My brother Donald- we lived in Horton until he was about a year old- then Dad moved us to a bigger farm in Franklin Depot NY which was about 6 miles from the town of Sidney Center and my grandmother Oly lived on a farm about ten miles away. Sidney Center was made up of- the Cheer Up General Store- a feed store- post office- 2 churches- Baptist + Methodist- a larger school- a steam train station. The rest of the town were homes and surrounding land- were farms- most of them bigger than the ones in Horton- our farm was about 1/2 mile of dirt road off the main hard road going into town. We were what was know as tennant farmers. There was a good sized orchard with apples and cherry trees- a good piece of land for vegs- about 12-15 cows - a bull- and Dad got chickens ducks- pigs and a team of horses- the house was a little bigger than the one in Horton- there was 2 bedrms upstairs- big rooms- 2 bedrooms off the living rm- and another off the kitchen- so we kids had a bit better sleeping quarters. There was a pump sink in the big kitchen- a big wood stove- for cooking baking + heat- and a big pot bellied stove in the living rm. There was an outhouse in the backyard near a small creek. And a little furthur out the barn and chicken house + pigsty- here life was a bit better- Mom still washed clothes in a couple of big tubs in the backyard- we still chopped wood for the fires- and grew our own veg- plus we had a cornfield- across the creek in the back- and the dirt road that went up a hill were woods where Dad + the older brothers hunted for deer - rabbits- muskrats- which they skinned an tanned the hides and sold- an once in awhile a bear. So our food supply was better along with the farm animals- Mom + Dad both baked bread and pies as we kids picked apples cherries and wild strawberries blackberries an blueberries that grew wild around there. We were also closer to my mothers relatives who lived in that area. Dad made the necessary money at the lumber yard about 5 miles from home- by drawing logs out of the woods to the sawmill where he also operated the saws. This money went for the things that had to be bought such as flour -sugar and stuff that wasn't grown or hunted. Still our clothes were made by hand. Shoes were few and far between and only the members of the family like Mom + Dad and the oldest kids had them.

(Ok, I need a break from typing and this story. I'll be back with part 2; we're only in page 7 God help us.)

This was where #9 was born another brother Alvie Earl- in Nov of 1928- the usual way- no doctor- my own birth certificate wasn't made out til about a week after I was born-

Dad raised fighting roosters on this farm which we kids hated with a passion. He trained them by teasing them with his hat until they would attack- then they were puit into competition with the other farmers around the area. They would attack us when we were in the yard.

Here is where I started school. My older brothers + sisters attended the same one room school housewhich was about 4 miles from the farm on the hard road going away from the town. It was named the Chapel Hill School. We walked back and forth -unless Dad or one of the other farmers were going in that direction then we got a lift- usually on hay wagon- we used to stick or toes in the tar bubbles-on the way- so by the time we got to school our feet were pretty dirty. The school had a coat room and a big classroom with a pot belly stove. In the cost room was always a tub of water where all of us had to wash our feet before we were allowed in the classroom. Our lady teacher was very strict. Every morning she made sure she had a good springy switch which was cut from one of the trees in the schoolyard. She never hesitated to use it across our legs- when we got out of line. Each class had its own section of the room to sit- God forbid anybody such slouch at their desk -cause she would come over pull you up on your feet put her knee in the middle of your back and pull your shoulders back After once or twice of that you made darn sure you didn't slouch- whenever or wherever she was around- she gave a prize of a Bilble to the kids who came out on the top of the grade they were in I got one in the second grade, which my parents prized.

(This is gonna be a loooong project. Since I type lefthanded it needs to come out in bits at a time. Unless I have a volunteer from the family who'd like to finish the job. Hint, hint.)

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