purchased the Moon home with the farm. It was then that D. A. Bisel offered to sell to
us his store with the home located at the back, but tied to the store. We accepted his
offer and soon we were in the mercantile business and selling dry goods, groceries, gas
and oil, etc.
My children were fast growing up to manhood and womanhood. Harold and Susie Duke were married. Harold and Susie then moved to Woodland from Charleston and he took over most all the buying and freighting business in connection with his mother, who watched very closely the buying of all dry goods and groceries.
Harold was in the truck much of the time between Salt Lake City and Woodland or out on the road somewhere selling bulls or other cattle; sometimes selling oil at wholesale prices.
During the years 1929 and 1930 (until the
fire) our business prospered.
We purchased the home and farm of 73 acres from Charlie Fraughton, also the home of Mrs. Pace with 35 acres of land. The Fraughton home was purchased for Harold and Susie.
Sarah, my wife, and daughters were good clerks and we were having good returns through sales.
We were no satisfied with the old store in the shape it was in, so we decided to remodel and enlarge by extending it out in front. By the 25th of July, 1930, the work was nearing completion. To do all this I borrowed money from my brother Ralph.
I had in the store new wire to completely rewire the whole building. The evening before the fire, Fred Haueter and I were up in the top of the building and I noticed the workmen had been careless in loosening some of the electric wires and let them sag and touch each other. Fred and I straightened them out the best we could hurriedly, but I instructed him to get right into the job immediately the next day and get all the rewiring done.
The morning before the fire occurred, Sarah and Ralph had gone to Salt Lake City for another load of goods. They had already recently stocked the store with several thousand dollars worth of store supplies. Fifteen to twenty barrels of car engine oil was out in the oil room and on the front steps.
Most of the boys and I were out at the Fitzgerald farm when the fire broke out. We saw the smoke but was not alarmed, thinking it was the result of someone burning brush out and away from the store. It was not long, however, until Luella came rushing towards us in the car and called for us. We hurried home but the fire had then nearly completed its damaging work. Crowds of people were at the fire by that time.
When the folks told me how near that Little Stella and Little LaVon (Graces baby) came to being burned, but had been saved, my heart was filled with joy to learn that no lives had been lost. Yes, it was a big property loss, but nothing mattered like losing a loved one.
A telephone message was sent to Sarah and Ralph at Salt Lake City advising them of the fire so they would load no more merchandise.
I felt so weak and I sat down to listen to the stories the people had to tell. Harold came and sat by my side. He wished to speak a word of cheer. He said to me, "Father, dont feel too bad about what has happened. No lives have been lost. We can build another store. Maybe someday we may feel that this fire has become a blessing to us." Harold was always very optimistic.
It was a hard financial blow to us. Our store and everything inside was gone. Our home was destroyed. Our furniture and fixtures, our clothing, our beds, our piano and other musical instruments, our books and records, our life savings of treasures. All of Ralph's and Elmas wedding presents were gone. They had many grand things with which to commence housekeeping.
What shall we do now? I wouldnt want to get discouraged as long as my wife and family were so optimistic about things. Maybe too optimistic; inasmuch as everybody was feeling the effects of the hard depression!
There were several families at Woodland that we had let have groceries to keep them from starving. (However, we felt bad when a father would head his list of necessary wants with tobacco, tea and coffee.) We had let the men work for us on the ranch, hauling rock, cutting trees or brush or doing other kinds of work.
At that time, I recomposed the poem "The Ant and the Cricket". I gave it the title "That Silly Jack Ricketts".
Oh, that silly Jack Ricketts, accustomed to shirk
Thru the long sunny months instead of going to work.
Then began to complain when he found up at home,
His cupboard was empty, and tobacco all gone.
Not a crumb could he find, and he looked all around.
No tobacco had he, neither coffee or tea.
"Oh, what will become" said Jack Ricketts, "of me?"
At last by starvation and famine made bold,
So sad and forlorn, so hungry and cold.
Away he set off to see brother-in-law Dick.
To see if to keep him alive we would give him
An armful of wood and a sack of tobacco;
He wished only to borrow,
Would be after more tomorrow;
If not, hed sure die without any tobacco.
Said Dick to Jack Ricketts,
"Im your brother-in-law tis true
But seldom do we meet such fellows as you.
But tell me dear Jack,
Did you lay nothing by
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