Chapter 13 - Just Growing Up
MY two smallest sisters had given away their new Christmas dresses, now they each
wanted another new dress. We got out the remnant bundles every time Mother sent an
order to Marshall Fields, she would include a remnant bundle. This was short pieces of nice
material that is one and a half to four yards in length, in a bundle of about twelve yards, at
one third of the cost of regular material. Mother said that with four girls to sew for, she
could always use the odd pieces. If any of the pieces were too small to be used in sewing,
they could be cut up for quilting blocks.
May found two pieces that she liked and she could not choose between them, so Mother said, "You were so thoughtful to give your Christmas dress to the Jones girl, now you can have two new dresses." Then Edith picked out two pieces, now I had the pleasure of sewing four new dresses.
At Easter time, we each received one egg. I don't know where Paw got the eggs, they were the first eggs we had received since we came to Montana.
Florence was at the ranch and she was lonely, she invited Sade, Bert and I. to come to the ranch and stay for a week. Mother said, "No. I can't get along without your help." However, Paw disagreed, he said that he thought that we should go, it would be good for us. Paw told Mother, "You should be ashamed of your selfishness, if ever three children worked hard and earned a vacation and a good time, these three have earned it." Bert said, "I will have to finish planting the garden, before I can go." I told Bert, "I will help you." So Bert and I worked in the garden and hurried to finish the planting.
The week at the ranch was wonderful for each of us. We all learned a lot about horses, how to groom them, the correct way to mount a horse, how to guide them, how to sit comfortably when riding, how to ride and how to race. Mr Barker gave Bert a new rope and Bert spent hours learning to swing a rope, trying to learn the many rope tricks the men were showing him.
Mr Barker had a beautiful Collie dog, named Sparky. Sparky made right up to me and started following me around. Then suddenly she deserted me and went to sit by Sade, she was Sade's dog the rest of the time we were at the ranch.
Sade made friends with the cook, she would climb onto a high stool and watch the cook fix all kinds of nice things for our meals.
I liked the Library, it was a large room off of the dining room, one wall was all book shelves from the floor to the ceiling, and all of the shelves were full of books. I had never seen so many books. Mr Barker assured me that he had a very small library. He told me that there were whole buildings made just to hold books, I was surely surprised, I had never heard of anything like that. The library had a very nice fireplace, two nice soft sofas, four big comfortable easy chairs, a square table and Mr. Barker's desk with his special desk chair.
Mr. Barker took down an atlas and he showed me on maps the cities, that he visited, when he made six trips to Foreign Countries. I was amazed, I had never talked to anyone who had been out of the United States before. Mr. Barker said, "You can read any book you want, you can borrow a book to take home to read and when you bring it back, you can take another one.' just take care of my books, they are my good friends." Mr. Barker showed me how to use the Encyclopedia and his three Atlases. He had a great big dictionary, it explained much more about each word than my small dictionary did. I asked him, "Have you read all of these books'?" He said, "Yes, and a great many more." I didn't know what to say to that. I just stood there, looking at all of those books. Mr Barker smiled and said, "I didn't read them all in one day, or even in one year, I am always reading and I think that you and your Father like to read a lot too. Tell Florence that I said, to tell you about Amy. So I went to find Florence.
It was after supper, the men had gone down to the bunk house. Sade and I had kicked off our shoes and we were curled up on one of the nice soft sofas in the library. Florence was sitting in an easy chair beside us. It had been hot in the middle of the day, but now it was chilly, so a bright fire crackled in the fireplace. This is the story Florence told us .....
Authors note: Some people might say that this story does not belong here, however the story about Amy and A. J. together with the entire association with the Barker family, had such a profound influence on all of the Frost family, that I feel that it should be included in this writing.
Chapter 14 - Florence Tells of Amy and A. J.
"It was about fifteen years ago that my Brother fell in love with a very beautiful lady. My
Father had died about three years before, Father had left to A. J. a very nice inheritance.
A. J. has a very good head for business. He invested his money and within two years, he
had doubled it. A. J. had a friend, an old college chum named Rodney Hilman, who had a
little money. Rodney had studied Law, after completing a course of Business
Administration. A. J. and Rodney formed a new partnership and started their own
business, their company was very successful.
Mother had died the year before Father, so my Brother A. J. is all the family I have, except for my Aunt Ellen. I didn't know whither or not I wanted A. J. to get married. I was living with Aunt Ellen. I missed Mother terribly, I was very unhappy. I did not meet A. J.'s beautiful lady until after the wedding. A. J. brought her home to the big house by the sea, that had belonged to my parents, the house where I had spent my childhood. When Amy saw me, she ran to me with open arms, she took me into her arms and into her heart. She was the nicest'. sweetest, most loving, caring and understanding big sister any young girl could have. From the very first moment That I saw her, I felt that she was my very special friend. Whenever I had a problem, I could always go to Amy for help. She was one person who always had time to talk to me, to comfort me, to show me a brighter side of things and to tell me that she loved me. So different from my stiff, straight laced Aunt Ellen. Amy was very busy, she was redecorating the entire house.
Amy had all of the ceilings painted, some of the walls were painted while others were papered with wall paper depicting some very delightful scenes. Now this old mansion had been in the Barker family for five generations. When my Father brought my Mother home to this house, my Mother said, "It is too big, I'll never entertain, I don't care about high society or giving banquets." So she took the keys and she locked the door to the Ballroom, Banquet Hall, Music room and the Grand Parlor. She also locked the doors to four of the large bedrooms, upstairs. No one ever opened those rooms, while my Mother lived. We lived in the rest of the house and had plenty of room, that is how it was that I had lived in a house all of my life and I had only been in half of it.
Now Amy had all of the keys and together we opened doors that had not been used for fifty years * Under the dust and the dirt and the duster covers, we found many lovely treasures. In the Banquet room, we found chests of tableware made of silver, after the tarnish was removed we were amazed at the quality and the quantity of the table silver. There was enough silver to set the table for sixty people, and it looked like new. Amy took one room at a time and made it beautiful, tables, chairs and desks were refinished, some pieces were discarded while some other pieces only needed a real good cleaning. Worn carpets were replaced with polished floors and Oriental Rugs. Amy told me to pick out the colors and the drapes and the bedding, that I wanted for my bedroom. She said, "Its still your room and you are welcome to come and live with us any time,.that you want to."
When Amy was finished with a room, the soft colors blended nicely. The room looked peaceful, comfortable and inviting, a room that made you feel good. I overheard Amy ask A. J., "Am I spending too much money, fixing up the house?" A. J. told her, "It is your house, you have to live in it. I want you to fix it the way that you want it." Then Amy said, "What if I spend all of your money?" A. J. said, "Then, I will just have to make some more money. Amy my darling, with your exquisite good taste and your never ending work, you are creating a very beautiful home for us. I love you and I love your work, I am so proud of everything that you are doing. Every thing you touch becomes a thing of beauty."
The Music room was Amy's thrill. When the Baby Grand Piano was cleaned and polished she had it tuned, when Amy sat down to play it, we all realized that it was an exceptionally fine instrument with strikingly beautiful tones. When Amy played her beautiful piano, it sounded heavenly. A. J. said that Amy needed a vacation, so he took her on a trip to Europe. They went to London, Paris and Rome, going to theaters, art galleries, art auctions and shopping, with plenty of sight seeing. Amy had the time of her life. She came home with many new ideas and dozens of treasures.
I went away to college, it was in a crowded hall and I was hurrying to a class, when I bumped into the man of my life. I said, "Please, excuse me." and started to move down the hall. He took my arm and said, "Please don't run away. I have just found you!" I said, "What do you mean., You have just found me?" He said, "Well, you are the girl that I am going to marry, so we had better get acquainted!" ,I didn't even know his name, however when I looked into his eyes, I began to believe him, that was Norman Howard who a year and a half later, became my wonderful Husband.
A. J. and Amy loved Norman, they gave us a wonderful Wedding. The church was filled with beautiful flowers. The guests were mostly college friends. A. J. walked me down the aisle, he being my only male relative. After the vows were spoken and the ceremony at the church had ended, everyone went to Amy's house for a wedding supper. After supper there was dancing, even Aunt Ellen said, "It was the most elegant wedding that I have ever attended."
Norman and I purchased a modest cottage of three bedrooms, near the college campus. We both were two years from graduation. I never had to worry about my expenses, my Father had set up two trust funds, one for myself and the other for Aunt Ellen. Aunt Ellen didn't like the idea of a trust fund, she wanted her money all at once, like A. J., so that she could do something with it. However Father knew his Sister, he was afraid that if Ellen got a large sum of money, at one time, that it would all be gone in five years. Father set up the trust funds, so that Aunt Ellen and myself would each get a check every month for thirty-five years with the only stipulation being that in the event of either of our deaths, that the remaining money in the fund would be divided between the survivor and A. J. Aunt Ellen stormed about it, however after a short time she was bragging that she was saving a hundred dollars every month. (There came a day when she was very glad that she had her little money.)
Norman and I went back to school, very happy in each other's love, the next year was one of the happiest years of my life, but very uneventful. The following September, A. J. and Amy were talking about possibly going on another trip to Europe. Norman and I were planning our Senior year at college, it would be my last year,, however Norman would need two years of post grad studies, to complete his Law training. I was pregnant but I didn't want to tell anyone yet. I wanted to attend classes until Christmas, I was afraid that if Norman knew that I was expecting, that he would want me to stop my schooling, also I dreaded to tell Amy because, at that time she had been married for four years and she wanted a baby more than anything else in the world. How could I tell her, that I would have a child before she would?
I told Norman on Thanksgiving Day that I wanted to give him another blessing, to be thankful for. He was delighted, as I knew that he would be. We went to Amy and A. J.'s house for Christmas, Amy was radiant, she told me that she was going to give A. J. the very nicest present in the whole world, but that he would have to wait a while to receive it. I asked, "Amy Dear., are you pregnant?" She replied, "Yes, isn't it wonderful?" Then I told her, "So am I." We both laughed and hugged each other. I was so happy for her. Now everything would be all right.
Our adorable daughter was born on the first day in April. April Fool's Day. Norman named her Nellie, Norman was always telling me, what a wonderful woman his Mother had been, her name was Nellie. Now he wanted his first daughter to be named after her Grandmother. Norman said, "I'll name the girls and you can name the boys."
Our Nellie was a strong and healthy little girl, she was so cute and sweet. No baby was ever wanted and loved, more than our precious darling. Amy spent a lot of time at our house, playing with our adorable daughter, she was having a hard time, waiting for her own baby to arrive. The Summer had been very hot and sultry, the heat was very hard on Amy, she just couldn't get cooled off or comfortable. It was the tenth of August and it started to rain, with the change in the weather, Amy started to have pains, so they had to send the carriage for the Doctor and the Nurse, in a driving rain storm.
Amy's house was so large that it was necessary for her to have help. A. J. had hired the Kelly's, who were a middle aged couple. Mrs Kelly was the housekeeper and cook, Mr Kelly took care of the horses and the carriage and kept fire wood in the wood racks for the many fireplaces, as well as removing the ashes and cleaning the hearths, when the fires were out. He also drove Amy, any place she wanted to go. Then there was Dedee, Amy's little maid., Dedee kept Amy's bedroom and sitting room spotless, she took care of all of Amy's clothes, seeing that everything was cleaned properly and fresh, ready for Amy, whenever she needed anything. Now they would add a Nurse to the staff, to help with the care of the newest member of the household.
It was about two o#clock in the afternoon when the baby was born. The rain was still coming down, drumming on-the rooftops and the wind splattering huge raindrops against the windows. Amy thought that she had a hard time, however the Doctor said, "She had a short easy delivery and both Mother and Child are doing just fine." Amy wanted to name her new Son after his Father, however A. J. said, "No no." he hated his name, that is why he always went by his initials only, "I would never name a child my name, I never want to even hear my name again." Amy said, "All right, then I will name him Albert Joseph, he can at least have his Fathers initials."
The next few months were a very happy time for both families, we were very busy, loving and enjoying our wonderful babies. We spent Thanksgiving Day together and we all enjoyed each others company. Christmas came and Aunt Ellen joined us at Amy's house, for a very pleasant time. Our little Nellie was crawling all over and trying to stand up. She furnished us all with many moments of amusement. I invited A. J. and Amy to bring Albert Jose to my house on the first of April, to help us to celebrate Nellie's first Birthday.
On the first day of April, Mr Kelly came with a note saying that Albert Joseph was feverish, so they couldn't come. Amy had sent for the Doctor to come look him over. She hoped that it was only his teeth, it was Albert's first sick spell. I told Mr. Kelly to tell Amy, "I am so very sorry that her baby is sick, I surely hope that it isn't serious, I understand their not wanting to come at a time when they are concerned about their child's health, I hope he will recover quickly and that I send my love."
When Norman came home that evening, he was very concerned about Amy's baby, he had a newspaper telling about a fever that was spreading around, the paper said, "Boil your water! Don't use any water, that hasn't been boiled! Don't go into a house, where they have fever! This fever is very contagious! Boil your water!" It seemed that the whole paper, was a warning about the fever. Norman told me, "Stay in the house with Nellie, don't go anywhere and don't let anyone come into our house." The next day the college was closed, because of the fever epidemic. Norman went to Amy's house to see how things were. He talked to A. J. out in the yard, A. J. had three Doctors and two Nurses with the child, but the little fellow was worse. Amy was frantic! The Doctors were doing everything they could do for little Albert. Amy wouldn't eat, sleep or even rest, she stayed right by her baby, day and night. On the sixth day Amy's little boy passed away, Amy collapsed.
Now it was Amy's life that the Doctors were fighting for. As she lay unconscious for five days. The Doctors assured A. J. that she did not have the fever., her trouble was a case of complete exhaustion. On the sixth day, Amy opened her eyes but she did not seem to see anyone, she ate the food that A. J. fed to her, but she didn't speak a word to anyone. This went on for several days, Amy would eat if A. J. fed her, but she wouldn't do anything for anyone else she wouldn't speak to anyone, just push things away. The Doctor wanted Amy to go to the Hospital for some tests, so the day Amy was in the Hospital, the big house was fumigated.
Slowly, very slowly, Amy's health started to improve. Amy was so withdrawn and depressed, she did not show any interest in the things around her. A. J. thought perhaps a trip to Europe, to the places where she had so much fun and had been so happy, might help to bring her back. Amy agreed very meekly and went willingly, however without enthusiasm.
In London they found gray fog and rain. Amy wandered listlessly through her favorite shop, but found nothing to interest her. She was feeling tired and weak so she returned to her Hotel room. Upon opening the door, Amy was shocked to see her husband kneeling by the bed, he might have been praying but now he was weeping, great choking sobs, that shook his body from head to foot. Amy had never witnessed such misery. With a startled little cry, she ran across the room and threw her arms around her husband. He picked her up and put her on the bed. Amy was saying over and over, "Oh I am so sorry, so sorry. Can you ever forgive me?" A. J. laid down beside Amy, putting his arm around hero assuring her that there was nothing for her to be sorry about. Amy said, "I have been so selfish, thinking only of my own broken heart and empty arms." As they lay on the bed trying to comfort each other, there was a knock on the door. When A. J. answered the door, a messenger gave him a cablegram.
A. J. read the message,'then read out loud to Amy, "Dear Friend; Trouble, trouble, real trouble, come as quickly as possible, Your Friend, Calvin." A. J. got his coat. He said, "I have to see when the next ship sails for America." Amy got up and started packing the suitcases. Amy asked, "Who is your friend Calvin?" A. J. said, "Calvin Woods, he is the President of the Bank where we do most of our Company business." A. J. went to the Hotel's Travel Desk, he was back in just a few minutes, he said, "Hurry, we will take the large suitcase with us and the Hotel will ship the rest later. We will be on board ship in a few hours."
When they left the Hotel, the wind was blowing strong and it was raining. A. J. put his arm around Amy, trying to protect her from the weather and to guide her steps, for she was covering her face to protect herself from the wind and the rain, There was a little lull in the wind and they were able to get across the street to a surrey. It was only a short distance to the train station, where they would take the train to Southampton, where they would board the ship. When they arrived at the pier, there was no waiting line, the Purser was standing at the top of the gangway, when they were halfway up the gangway, the Purser said, "Will you please hurry? the ship is about to sail." A. J. said, "It is hard to hurry, when I am trying to help my wife and I have this large suitcase to manage."
Now they were inside of the ship, the Purser said, "I'll be with you in a moment." Then he and two seamen were busy, closing the gangway port and securing it. Soon he turned to A. J. and asked, "Do you have your tickets?" A. J. said, "No. I didn't have time to wait for them at the Hotel Travel Desk, they told me the ship was sailing soon and I barely had time to arrange for my baggage to be shipped, we just got a cablegram saying to come home quickly, that there is trouble at home, but it didn't say what it was. I wish that I didn't have to start a voyage with the wind blowing like it is." The Purser said, "Well, this is about the safest place you could be right now." A. J. asked, "How is that?"
The Purser said, "Sometimes these high winds can whip up quite a good sized storm. If we can get out of port and past the headland twenty or thirty miles, then the sea, often is not as violent and the wind doesn't seem to be blowing as hard as it really is. However if we were to be caught in a storm in a small harbor like this one, where there isn't any breakwater, there would be no protection, the high waves could smash everything in town. I hope that you never have to experience a really bad storm at sea. There is a storm now in the North Atlantic and we are expecting to have a rough crossing this trip, however I hope that it won't be too bad. Just follow me, I'll show you to your stateroom and make you as comfortable as I can." By the time that we got to our stateroom the ship was moving, the Purser said that nearly half of the passengers cancelled out at the last minute, due to the weather forecast, however those that did come aboard are brave strong and sensible. They will be good company." After the Purser was gone, Amy asked A. J. if they would have to stay in the cabin with the door bolted and the porthole closed and dogged down. A. J. answered, "I don't know, it's like the Purser said, I hope that this crossing won't be too bad." 1. J. and Amy spent the next half hour unpacking their suitcase and putting their clothes in the drawers under the bunk.
Outside the wind was blowing harder, the white caps at the top of each wave was being blown over all of the decks of the ship, so that it was impossible to go out on any of the areas where the decks were exposed to the weather, without getting soaked. The ship was riding well without too much rolling, but as time passed and they got further from land, the ship was heading directly into the full force of the oncoming storm. The bow of the ship was diving into the waves, picking up great sheets of water, that the wind would blow back against the superstructure of the ship. Each time the bow dived down into the waves, the stern would ride high out of the water exposing the ship's propeller, causing the engine to race due to the reduced resistance, then as the bow reared up, throwing tons of water high into the air, the stern would dig down deep into the water and the engine would pound and shake, as it drove the ship through the water, the entire ship would I shudder for a moment, then the bow would dive into the next wave and the entire cycle would start all over again.
........Chapter 14 continues on next file.....