A Family of Ten in a Ten Room House on Ten Acres
Time for Fun
A Christmas to Remember
Grandfather's Search for Gold
Digging Up the Dinosaur
My First Train Ride
My First Teaching Job
World War II
My father Leroy E. Lindsey was born February 10, 1870, in Calwell County, Missouri. My mother Eva Alpha Shaffer was born September 23, 1876, in Cowgill, Missouri. In 1902 our folks were married.
They lived in Braymer, Missouri, where Marie was born. When she was about two years old, father became restless for Colorado, and the family went by train to Durango, Colorado. They lived in Bayfield (named after my father's Uncle Will Bay). Martin and Mark were born in Bayfield. Then the family moved to Ignacio on a Ute Indian Reservation. Charles, Paul, Billie Lou and I were all born there. L.E. was born in Missouri when my mother was called back there because her father was ill.
Father worked at the Hans Aspas store. He also ran a livery
stable and homesteaded land that was planted in
crops. He did part-time carpenter work and built the house we lived in. He was busy providing for his big family. However, he did find time to prospect for gold in the Silverton and Ouray areas.
Father served on the school board and because of his foresight, an eight-grade school was established. However, when Marie was old enough to enter high school, Mother insisted on returning to "civilization," which she hoped would be back in Missouri. She wanted to live where her children could get a better education.
In the fall of 1918, we moved in a big Case car with nine people and what possessions we could carry. I was two and a half years old when we made this move, so I only remember stories that were told about it later. One story was that the second night of the trip we camped at the foot of Oak Creek Pass. That night a bear tried to get to the food box. Father frightened it away by shooting his gun in the air.
We never got as far as Missouri, but we made it to Cañon
City, Colorado, which would be our home town for the next twenty-five years.
After living in town in Cañon City, Colorado, several years, our family moved to a ten room house on ten acres of land. It was on Lincoln Park, the garden and orchard area of Cañon City.
My memories began here when I was about five years old. This was in the 1920s, and there were both conveniences and inconveniences in those days.
There were no gas or electric furnaces or stoves, microwaves, or electric kitchen appliances. Instead in our kitchen was a big black cook stove that burned coal. The stove had a reservoir on one side, which held hot water and a warming oven on top to keep food warm. The stove also kept the big kitchen warm. In the dining room was a black and chrome pot bellied stove. The front room had a fireplace that burned wood. The heating bill amounted to a few dollars as coal could be bought for five dollars a ton. The wood for the fireplace came from old apple and pine trees that grew on nearby hills.
When I was little, there were no restaurants such as McDonald's, Burger King, Taco Bell, or other fast food places. We did have an ice cream wagon pulled by a horse that would come past our house in the summertime. We could buy an ice cream cone for a nickel.
Mother spent many hours in preparing food for our big family. She baked bread and rolls twice a week. A "starter" was used from one baking day to the next. We had vegetables from our own vegetable garden and fruit from our own orchard, milk from our cow Bossy, and chicken and eggs from Mother's Plymouth Rock chickens. Every summer Mother canned 500 quarts of fruit plus many jars of grape jelly and apple butter. We traded apples for mountain grown potatoes. Our grocery bill, mostly spent on sugar and flour, was less than $40 a month.
When we were old enough to help with the work, we all had chores to do. By the time I was in the fourth grade, I peeled potatoes and apples to cook for supper and set the table. As I grew older, I hand washed the dishes after the evening meal. Billie Lou wiped them (if she could be found). I have washed many a dish in my lifetime! You can see why I appreciate a dishwasher now.
Monday was wash day. Cooking and washing were both big tasks for Mother. The work clothes had to be put into the double boiler on top of the stove. Lye had been added to the water to soften it. Then the clothes were scrubbed on a wash board. The white shirts and aprons were rinsed in bluing water and then starched. The clean wet clothes were hung on clotheslines outside to blow dry in the wind. Shirts, dresses, and linens had to be ironed with "flat irons" heated on the cook stove. Mother would have been delighted to have the modern laundry convenience we take for granted.
On the ten acres was a big barn with a hay loft and manger, an apple cellar, a coal house, chicken house, and two privys, one near the house and the other in the orchard. There was a windmill near the barn to pump water. Most of the land was an apple orchard. An acre of it was a Concord grape vineyard. There was a garden space and other fruit trees. Water flowed through irrigation ditches to the orchard.
Television wasn't invented until much later. We did have music though. There was a Kimball upright piano in the front room, which Marie played very well. The boys also made musical noise on various horns: Martin, saxophone; Mark, trombone; L.E., saxophone; Charles, clarinet; Paul, coronet. Billie Lou and I both took "Etude" piano lessons from Miss Roming. Billie Lou didn't practice but made better music playing by ear. I practiced, but without a musical ear, I gave up at the "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers."
I remember a small Edison gramophone, which played cylinder records. One day L.E. or Charles sold it to Austin Rose, a neighbor, for a dollar. Wouldn't it have been a great antique now!
When radio became popular, Martin made an earphone cyrstal set. Or we could listen to it if he put it in the middle of a bowl on the dining room table. We would hover around trying to hear the sounds. Later we had an Atwater Kent battery set. The folks listened to Will Rogers, Amos and Andy, and Fibber MaGee and Molly. In the afternoon Mother listened to Stella Dallas, a radio soap opera, while she mended clothes.
Except for a paved road on Main Street downtown, our roads were covered with gravel. The horse and buggy was still being used by some people, including our neighbor Mr. Smith, the postman, the ice cream wagon. We owned a Buick touring car and a Ford truck for hauling produce. But most of the time our transportation to school or town was walking. Our father needed the car to go to the Empire Zinc Plant six miles away. He worked ten hours a day as a carpenter for wages of four dollars a day.
I have told about what you might consider inconveniences,
but we did have time as a family to gather around
the dining room table for meals. We didn't have the stress of traffic. Neighbors were friendly. Doors were not locked at night. Entertainment consisted of going downtown on Saturday night. We knew about everyone else there, and we would window shop and visit. Sometimes we would go to the movie theater and see a silent film, usually a western. Life was simpler!
We all had our own chores to do when we were old enough to manage them. But playing was more fun!
Marie and Lucille McCartney, neighbor girls about our ages, spent many hours playing with us. We would go back and forth to each other's houses to play. In the summer, we waded or tried to swim in the big irrigation ditch. We would scrape out sand castles along the banks of the small ditches. Our lawn had a big platform swing, and we would play with our dolls or rock the kittens. We also played on the rope swing in the orchard.
When we were in grade school, more of the neighbor kids gathered in our yard. We had a big ditch in one corner of the ten acres. In the fall, it would be empty. We would sit on its bank and play school after spending the day in school. There was Marthe Rose, Jean Chapman, Frank Hammel, Robert and Arthur Galbreth, Marie and Lucille and Billie Lou and I. I liked being the teacher. We had reading, writing, arithmetic, reciting, and the whole bit.
My brothers were all older. They had their own baseball diamond, and "rolling equipment," consisting of bicycles and cars, which kept them busy.
Paul did teach me how to ride his bike. After I was on the bike, he steadied it and then gave it a shove. I was on my own then. Most of their fun with us was teasing. Summer evenings L.E., Charles, and Paul let us play kick the can and other hiding games with them. I remember one moonlit night, they took us snipe hunting out in the orchard. We sat there holding our sacks open until Mother sent them after us.
On Winter evenings while the others played board games or cards, I would find a corner and a good book and read.
I especially remember the Christmas when I was nine years old, and my younger sister Billie Lou was six. We were excited when my father brought home a tall Christmas tree that he had cut near the hills where he worked. We helped to decorate the tree with a star and other ornaments that had been saved from past years. We added red and green paper chains that we had made at school.
Christmas eve finally arrived. Our family opened our presents at that time instead of Christmas morning so that my mother would have more time to prepare a big dinner the next day. We all gathered in the front room around our tree.
As we walked into the parlor, I spied a big doll in a wicker chair. Would it be for me or for my sister? When it was my turn for a present, I reached for the doll. The tag read, "To Doris and Billie Lou from Santa." Now how was I going to share that doll with my sister? She was usually the one to get her way. Later we agreed to name our doll "Polly."
My other present was a prettily wrapped package from my older sister Marie who lived in Washington D.C. If she couldn't join our big family at Christmas, she would mail presents to each one of us. When I unwrapped this gift, I was overjoyed to see that it was Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. However, on opening the cover, I found that it said, "To Doris and Billie Lou from Marie." Did I have to share this present too?
As it turned out, Billie Lou was not interested in reading a book, and she preferred to be a tomboy rather than to play with dolls.
I loved that book and read it many times. I now have it on my bookshelf. As for the doll, I only have a picture of her left.
Fifteen years after we received Polly for Christmas, my parents decided to move from Colorado to California. I was teaching in California then and was not home for the big move. Unfortunately, Polly was left behind, sitting in her chair, in a corner of the basement. My folks just didn't have room to take one more thing. Years later, someone in my family stopped by our old house. They did ask about the items that had been left in the basement, but according to the tenants, there was no doll.
I wish Polly could have been a part of my current doll
collection, but I will have to make do with her photograph and the memories
of the Christmas long ago when I first saw her sitting under our Christmas
When I was a child, the neighbors seemed to know that I loved all creatures, great and small! I took home the unwanted pregnant cat. I took home the very old canary the lady down the street got rid of because it sang no more. I found a horned toad on a hiking trip in the hills and took it home though it was soon lost. My dad brought me a tiny wild baby rabbit, which I was unsuccessful in taming.
In the Capper's Farmer magazine, a beautiful picture of a pony appeared that some boy or girl could win by selling a "cure-all" salve. I entered the contest. Most of the adults in the neighborhood contributed their dollar for a jar. Evidently I didn't sell enough salve to win the pony, but I did get a picture of the pony.
Doris with her kitten.
By summertime, the pregnant cat had her seven little kittens in the manger of our barn. How I loved those kittens. I played with them by the hour. My older brothers knew where to find me when my mother would send one of them to tell me it was time for dinner. They would tease me and tell me that I smelled like the barn. This didn't stop me from playing with the kittens. Soon they were old enough to leave the manger. Then I would play with them on the lawn near our house.
I remember dressing them in doll clothes. This was not a good idea as several times they ran under the house and would come out without any clothes on. This meant that my dolls would be missing a dress when I played with them. I was now playing with my dolls more as most of the kittens had mysteriously disappeared.
When grade school started that fall, our janitor Mrs. Hammel brought a basket with a mother cat and her white angora kittens to school and kept them in the furnace room. She was so proud of those kittens, and once in a while, she would show them to a few of us girls.
Mrs. Hammel lived not far from us. She liked my mother because she could come to our house to use the telephone. She made many long visits on it! Maybe it was a payback, but anyway, she told my mother that she would like to give me one of the kittens.
It was a happy day for me when Mrs. Hammel finally brought the kitten to our house. She was a beautiful white kitten with blue eyes. (She looked like the cat on the Fancy Feast commercial.) I named my kitten Snowball and had her for a pet many years.
Of all my pets I must say that Rusty was the most faithful. My brother Paul brought this puppy home when he quit working at the Gilman mine and was moving to California. It was cold the night they came in. We made a bed by the kitchen stove for the brown furry pup. He accepted us right away.
I was teaching school at the time. I would walk a mile to the bus stop every day. Rusty would follow me. I scolded him to go home, but he would hang back a while and then make an appearance when the bus started up. He soon gave up trying to follow the bus four more miles to my school. However, when I returned on the bus at four o'clock, Rusty would be there to accompany me home.
Four years later when I moved with my folks to California,
we gave Rusty to a rancher who lived twenty-five miles from Cañon
City. Several months later, Joe, our former neighbor, noticed Rusty back
home waiting for us. Joe wrote us about poor Rusty. By this time, we had
bought a house with a fenced-in yard. I wrote Joe to send our dog out to
Santa Ana. He crated Rusty up and put him on a train to California. As
the train neared Ash Fork, Arizona, confused Rusty chewed himself free
from the crate and jumped off the train. Now he headed for home again.
The desert heat exhausted him, and he was taken in by a rancher. When the
rancher made his next trip to town, he read an award sign posted for the
dog by the railway company. The rancher brought Rusty into town, and our
dog was again sent on his way to us in California. My brother Mark, who
was a veterinarian, picked him up at the Los Angeles train station and
brought him home to us. What a reunion! I don't know whether I or my dog
The following is a story my daughter Paula wrote for an English assignment when she was in the eighth grade.
Most of the story is based on facts that I told her about her grandfather's interest in prospecting for gold.
Most of my father's prospecting happened when the family lived in Ignacio, Colorado, on the Ute Reservation. Any chance he had, he would prospect in the mountains near Silverton and Ouray. At one time, he bought shares in the Cave Basin Copper Mining Company; however, it wasn't a lucrative investment.
When I was two and a half years old, we moved to Cañon City, Colorado. We were a family of ten. My father worked at the Empire Zinc Company all week with extra jobs on Saturday. Some Sundays his recreation was to have my mother fix a picnic lunch, and we would drive to the nearby moutains. Soon after lunch, he would leave with his pick and later return with some specimens of ore in his pocket.
I remember how excited he and my brother Martin were one time when they were heating rock specimens and some gold beads appeared. Unfortunately, it turned out to be not gold, but a residue from the pan they had used.
I well remember Shorty Brooks and the dirty, crumpled paper he showed my father and Martin of a lost gold mine. How excited they were as they planned that trip!
On another prospecting occasion, L.E., Charles, Paul, and I went with my father up the Salida Road and stopped in a picnic area. Father did some prospecting while we played tag. I was stepping across the creek on a log, slipped, and fell in. When Father returned, he built a fire so that I could dry out before we returned home.
Some years later when I was the only one still at home, my father and I tried some gold panning on Phantom Creek. A gold mine at Cripple Creek had re-opened and tailings from the mine ran down Phantom Creek. The gold we sought was still illusive, but I'm sure that my father, a true prospector, continued to dream that some day he would strike it rich.
Grandfather's Search for Gold
by Paula Darnell
As I remember my grandfather late in his life, he was a tall, gaunt man with white hair carrying his cane about wherever he walked. He had many jobs in his lifetime of eighty-two years: hired hand, prospector, farm manager, livery stable owner, penitentiary guard, deputy sheriff, and carpenter. Grandfather was an independent man who preferred to be his own boss rather than work for anyone else. He was an expert hunter and fisherman and could dress out a deer faster than anyone in Colorado. His neighbors often called upon him for this duty, and he willingly obliged them. As a young man, he stood out because he was six feet three inches tall and thin for that height with hair the color of desert sand at noon and penetrating green eyes. He wore a mustache, smoked a corn cob pipe, which was always the first item he picked up in the morning, and used Granger tobacco exclusively. He caught gold fever during his first prospecting experience, and this later led him to seek a lost gold mine high in the Colorado Rockies.
In 1888 Grandfather made his first trip to Colorado from
Braymer, Missouri, by covered wagon along with his uncle Will Bay, who
intended to homestead some land near Guffey, Colorado. After arriving at
Guffey, located on the Arkansas River between Cañon City and Salida,
Grandfather worked on his uncle's farm for a few years. Such work did not
appeal to him as much as the excitement of prospecting, a common pursuit
in those days. He met a prospector, and together they decided to search
for gold at Cripple Creek. With Grandfather's grubstake the two young men
bought supplies for the journey and started for Cripple Creek on foot.
Even today the road to Cripple Creek is rough and so narrow that only one
car may pass through. Often the bridges wash out, rendering the road impassable.
The road led the two up shadowy Phantom Canyon. The country was dusty and
dry, the sandy soil red with iron. Scrub cactus, pine, and an occasional
rattlesnake were their lone companions. The creek itself, over nine thousand
feet high, ran cold and clear over the little pebbles of quartz, basalt,
and feldspar that lined its bed. But when the rains came, it was transformed
a speeding torrent of rusty red filled with debris. The town of Cripple Creek was an aggregation of prospectors' shanties, and Grandfather and his partner William joined these men in their own lean-to. Not until 1901 did the town become a metropolis of 50,000, only to diminish later to a population of 800. Outside their camp, Grandfather and his partner searched in vain for gold, picking at the earth and panning any ore that looked promising.
After only one week in camp, a message came through to Grandfather saying that his father was dying and that he must return to Missouri at once. As he traveled back home in a railway car, he reminisced about how different this trip was from the first one in the covered wagon. He stayed in Missouri a year, met and married his first wife, Louella Goldsworthy Lindsey, and took her back with him to Cripple Creek. But the pioneer life was hard on her, and she died a year later. On his arrival at Cripple Creek, he was stunned to learn that William Pigg, his former partner, had struck a rich vein in the meantime and was now a wealthy man. Although Grandfather had given him his grubstake a year earlier, Pigg felt no obligation to share his new wealth with Grandfather, and the two quarreled bitterly. However, there was nothing Grandfather could do. William did not even return the original grubstake.
Twenty-five years later, after remarrying and having a family of ten children, Grandfather had settled down to work at the Empire Zinc Company in Cañon City. There he met Shorty Brooks who worked as a carpenter's helper. Brooks was a short stocky man with carrot red hair and blue eyes who liked to sing ballads. He had inherited a dirty wrinkled scrap of paper from a dying friend, and this was to lead the two men on a search for a lost gold mine.
Each day after they finished work for the next two weeks, the partners diligently studied the paper and planned their search for the lost mine. It was on a fiery hot August day that my uncle Martin Lindsey, then a young man of eighteen, Grandfather, and Shorty sat around the dining room table illuminated by the sun's slanting rays and poured over the map. A trek was planned for the Labor Day weekend. The search would lead them through Wet Mountain Valley and high into the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range. They planned to travel by car as far as Westcliff and pack in from there.
On Friday night, the three started their journey loaded down with homemade bread, salt pork, canned beans, coffee, a can of sorghum, one of milk, a frying pan, a coffee pot, and some fishhooks. Grandfather drove his black Buick touring car up Hardscrabble Road to Westcliff where they left it. On horseback they packed in, traveling, as the map indicated, between Crestone Peak and Cretone Needle. After going through the pass, they were forced to leave their horses at an abandoned shack where they stayed the first night.
Next morning they continued on foot. They climbed the rocky cliffs and followed a deer trail to a small lake gleaming in the morning sun. The countryside was deserted. It seemed to them that no other man had seen this virgin land, but the idea was only their illusion.
According to the map, the mine shaft was located on the rocky west edge of the lake. Ground spruce and quaken aspen obscured many of the rocks. Immediately the three began to scour the area. All day they searched behind the crub trees near the shore. That night they camped on a sandy pointed extending out into the lake. It was cold at night, and when they awakened at dawn, light snow flakes were falling. Alarmed, since they all knew the dangers of being trapped in the mountains during an early snow storm, they packed their gear and began the journey back without even pausing to have breakfast.
Uncle Martin led the way. A distant rumble made them hesitate. A small rockslide tumbled down the side of the hill, leaving some wooden planks exposed. Excitedly, they rushed to the spot and dislodged two small boulders. They peered into the gaping cavity and knew that here was the mine they sought and had dreamed of discovering.
Grandfather hacked out a few ore specimens with his pick and stuffed them in his pack. All the time the snow had been coming down slowly, but now it threatened them as a howling, twisting wind pushed the flakes into grotesque shapes on the ground while on the lake, whitecaps had formed. They knew that if they remained, they would be trapped in a blinding snowstorm and might not be able to make their way through the pass.
Reluctantly but hurriedly, they left and returned at last to Cañon City. An analysis of the ore proved it to be very rich, and they planned another journey for the following spring.
But on that trip and many other later journeys, they were unable to locate the lost gold mine. Had another rockslide buried it forever? Even today, it waits, crying out to be rediscovered.
In junior high school, I belonged to the Girl Scouts, the Latin Club, and the Drama Club. I did get so far in the Drama Club that I was chosen to give the commencement speech when we finished ninth grade. All I remember of my speech was saying, "veni, vidi, venci" (we came; we saw; we conquered). Miss Tullis, the Latin teacher, was quite impressed that I had used a Latin saying in my speech, and she praised my effusively.
In high school, our history teacher, Mr. Kendell, was more interested in geology than the subject he taught. So he formed a club devoted to geology. Many Saturdays we would hike in the nearby hills and gather rock specimens to identify at meetings. Not far from Cañon City, there were coal, quartz, and talc mines. I also remember one trip to Red Canyon where we found many garnets brought to the surface of an ant hill by big red ants.
But our proudest club project in Red Canyon was helping dig up bones from a huge dinosaur. This was organized by a group from the University of Colorado School of Mines. The skeleton was taken to Denver to the Museum of Nature and Science, where the skeleton was carefully put together for display there. I never got to see it in Denver, but hopefully it is still there, and I can brag that I was one of the people to dig it up.
In 1933 the Great Depression was sweeping the country. Many men were without jobs. My father, who had been employed as a carpenter with the Empire Zinc Company for fifteen years, was laid off when the company closed its plant in Cañon City, Colorado.
The Empire Zinc Company also owned hard rock mines not far from Leadville in Gilman, Colorado. The superintendent for whom my father had worked was transferred there. He needed to hire more miners, and he offered jobs to my brothers Charles and Paul, who were in their late teens at the time.
My parents were apprehensive, but it was a chance for my brothers to earn enough money for college tuition, and so they reluctantly agreed that the boys could accept the jobs. On one of their trips home to get supplies and restock on food, my brothers suggested that I might go back with them as I could help with the cooking and other chores. I was sixteen and would be a senior in high school in the fall. I thought of it as an adventure and joined them in the 150 mile truck ride to the high country. We lived in an old abandoned house on top of a hill. The boys worked the graveyard shift at the mine, and I packed lunches for them. Each morning at 9 a.m. they returned, weary, dirty, and hungry. I wasn't afraid to stay alone at night except for one time when I heard a racket near the back steps. The next morning a porcupine waddled out from under the steps. The two weeks I was staying soon went by.
The Denver and Rio Grande Railroad ran through the canyon, and I planned to return home on the train. Two nurses had been transferred from the Cañon City plant and had been making trips back and forth on the train. They insisted that I use one of their extra return tickets to Cañon City.
I boarded the train at 9 p.m. and was scheduled to arrive at the Cañon City train station, where my father would meet me, at 2 a.m. When the conductor came by to punch my ticket, he informed me that my ticket would expire at midnight. It would be that time when we reached Salida, and I would need to buy a ticket if I wanted to stay on the train until it reached Cañon City.
I did not have enough money with me to purchase a ticket, and so I panicked. A brakeman, who had been standing behind the conductor when he took my ticket, returned to my car later by himself and told me to act like I was asleep when we reached Salida. I tried this ploy, but unfortunately, the conductor knew I wasn't really asleep, and he ordered me off the train.
I got off. It was midnight. Although it was dark, I could see several rough-looking men leaning against the outside wall of the station. They were wearing cowboy hats pulled over their eyes, and high-heeled boots. Cigarettes dangled from their mouths. I was terrified. I knew no one in this town whom I could ask for help.
I turned around and headed back for the train. I hurried up the steps on the back of the coach I had just been put off of. The conductor was nowhere in sight, but after the train left the station, a different conductor came by to collect tickets. He told me that he would take my suitcase and hold it inside the Cañon City station until I paid for traveling between Salida and Cañon City.
When we arrived in my hometown, the conductor got off the train with my suitcase in hand. My father, a tall man, was right there to meet me. The conductor must have been intimidated for he set my suitcase down and, without a word, high-tailed it into the station.
On the way home, I told my father of the experience I suffered on my first train ride. When he heard how I had been treated by the conductors, he was furious. The conductor who left my bag on the platform was right to be intimidated. Had my father known about what happened before we left the station, he surely would have punched the conductor in the nose!
In June 1934, I was graduated from Cañon City High School. The Great Depression had left its mark on our class. We decided not to have a class annual since we didn't have funds to pay for one. I did receive a scholarship for tuition and fees at a state college.
Charles had worked at the hard rock mine in Gilman, Colorado, and saved $500. His goal was to be a teacher. He planned to attend Western State Teachers' College in Gunnison, Colorado. He offered to help me financially if I wanted to go there too.
We couldn't afford to stay in the dorms. We first stayed in one upstairs room. The landlady provided a screen between our beds. The kitchen for the upstairs tenants was a kerosine burning stove and a few pots and dishes. It was all very unsatisfactory, and after the first quarter, we found rooms in another home with kitchen privileges.
Graduation from Western State College.
The second year, I had a part-time job in the college administration office. I moved to Chipita Hall, the girls' dorm. My roommate was Nadine Hemphill. We lived in the basement economy rooms. Here the girls were allowed to have a hot plate and do some light cooking. Most of our fare was soup and sandwiches. One evening we decided that wieners and sauerkraut would taste good. When the housemother returned from the school cafeteria across the street and came down our hall, we heard her repeat: "What's that smell? What's that smell?" She passed our door and went sniffing her way on past us.
In Colorado, elementary teachers could receive a teaching certificate in two years, and there was also a three-year teaching certificate. So I donned my cap and gown twice at Western State. I earned my three-year degree by going to school two years and three summers.After I had taught school for seven years, our family moved to Santa Ana. I enrolled at Whittier College in Whittier, California, where I earned my Bachelor's Degree in January 1944.
In 1936, there still was a high rate of unemployment, so I felt lucky to be hired to teach the first four grades at Fruitmere, a rural school near Cañon City. My beginning salary was $70 a month for nine months of teaching, for a grand total of $630 a year. I lived at home with my parents and helped with finances.
Mr. Haskins was the self-appointed principal who thought it was his duty to supervise a beginning teacher. He taught fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grades, but he spent much time traipsing into my classroom. At Western State, I had a reading professor from Columbia University (she kept us aware of that!). She introduced the Progressive Reading Method, which we were supposed to teach. It left out phonics. Mr. Haskins thought phonics should be taught, and I must admit I also thought it was a better method to introduce new words to the students. I could remember my first grade teacher Miss Gibbs and how we were drilled on phonics, and we were soon reading.
After the first few days, Mr. Haskins thought it was time for all the school to gather around the piano for music. When I was hired, I was asked by the members of the school board about music, and I told them that I couldn't sing but that I would take piano lessons that summer. 101 Best Songs was the music book, and I could manage most of the songs in it. I will never forget the first song, "My Country 'Tis of Thee" and the awful noise behind me, led by Mr. Haskins. It really shook me up, and I lost touch on the piano keys forever! Music time was resolved by the lady who lived across from the school. She came over several times a month and played the piano. Unfortunately, the students' voices didn't improve much.
Doris at twenty.
Another problem I had was trying to start a fire in the pot bellied stove that burned coal. My father solved that by chopping me kindling from cedar wood. This started a fire under the coal and got it burning.
Another bad day at school came when there was a visit from the Superintendent of Schools. The children were all responding well in a spelling bee when all of a sudden, my smartest student, who had consumed too much venison for dinner, became sick. Everyone was gagging including me. I immediately sent the class out for recess. The superintendent made a fast exit to Mr. Haskins' room, and I was the clean-up crew.
Thank goodness, there were more good days than bad. The children were well behaved and responded well to my teaching. They liked school and Miss Lindsey. The school day lasted from nine in the morning until four o'clock in the afternoon. Most of the students brought lunch. I can still smell those peanut butter sandwiches and eggs. Some brought soup and put it on the back of the stove to keep warm. Before the end of the day, we were all tired. I read stories or a book while the children rested before their long ride home.
I taught two years at Fruitmere and then was hired in the Cañon City system to teach fifth and sixth grades at Harrison Elementary School. My salary was $100 a month in town. After teaching at Harrison for five years, I moved to California.
Our family was so proud of my youngest brother Paul. Like the rest of us, he now had a career. In March 1941, he was graduated from flying school at Randolf Field in Texas and was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps at Kelly Field, Texas. It was a great event for me too, as I traveled to Texas to attend the graduation ceremonies and the banquet that followed honoring all those fine-looking fliers.
On December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese.
We didn't realize at the time that it would escalate into World War II
and involve some 16 million U.S. troops, nor did our family know how much
it would affect our lives and careers.
By January, 1942, Paul was in combat in the South Pacific Theatre. He was first pilot on a B-17 Flying Fortress with a crew of eight. He flew many bombing missions the next seven months from Java to New Guinea. In August his 19th Bombardment Group was sent near Cairns, Australia. On the evening of August 7, 1942, Paul was one of a crew of eight who volunteered to test flares. The plane caught on fire from a flare. The plane made it across the Barrier Reef before it went into the sea, and all on board were killed.
When our parents received the missing-in-action telegram, they were inconsolable in their grief. Our close-knit family now had one missing member forever.
Later the folks received Paul's medals. The Distinguished
Flying Cross and Distinguished Service Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters
had been awarded to him for bravery in action. But it was his safe return
that our family had prayed for.
The lives of my sisters and brothers at home had also been disrupted by the war. Martin, an electrical contractor and Charles, a high school teacher, left their careers to work on minesweepers being built at Huntington Beach, California. L.E. was transferred from Los Angeles to Cleveland, Ohio, to work on a defense project for California Edison. Marie was in Washington D.C. in the State Department, and Billie Lou left teaching to join the Red Cross. Mark didn't pass the army physical when he was drafted, so he was able to continue his veterinary practice in Santa Ana.
Paul Lindsey in uniform.
My father wanted to leave Cañon City and move to Santa Ana to be near his sons. This we did in 1943. I enrolled at Whittier College to work on my four-year degree. During the day, I was in class, and in the evening, I worked on the swing shift at McDonald Douglass in Long Beach.
I received my B.A. degree in January 1944. I taught a fifth and sixth grade class in Anaheim and also taught a semester in Santa Ana. I spent the summer before I was hired in Santa Ana in Denver, Colorado where I lived with a former college girl friend and worked at the Rocky Mountain Depot. Many G.I.s were stationed in or near Denver. We girls attended U.S.O. dances on Saturday nights. One Saturday when Blue Baron was playing at Elitiches, I met a good-looking soldier named James Roderick Darnell. We dated only seven times before he was sent overseas to the European Theatre, where he fought in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Germany . He was wounded in action, for which he received the Purple Heart. Many years later the French government also awarded him a medal for his service in France during the Battle of the Bulge. During the two years that he was away, we wrote letters. The war in Europe was over when he returned to the United States, but the war with Japan continued. His division was going to be sent to fight in the Pacific Theatre, and they were on the train from New York to California when they heard that Japan had surrendered, and the war was now over.
I was teaching in Santa Ana, and Rod was stationed at Camp Pendleton in San Luis Obispo.. He used to come down on leave to see me. One morning at 7 a.m., I met him at the Santa Ana Railroad Station before school. On the way home, he asked me to pull over to the curb. There he proposed to me and put the engagement ring on my finger. This was in September after the war had ended. He soon received his discharge from the army and returned home to Iowa to resume his job.
Doris with her soldier boyfriend.
At Christmastime I went by train to Clear Lake, Iowa,
where his parents lived. And on a very snowy Christmas morning, we were
married at 8 a.m. in the First Methodist Church in Clear Lake. We had a
family reception at 1204 Main Avenue, the family home and the same house
where we later lived for thirty years.
Just married Christmas 1945.