Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Move from horse to Ford power brought problems to home dairy

Dad and Mom decided two things: He’d buy the first light delivery truck that arrived, and he’d learn to operate it and repair it when needed. He had to go to Kansas City to Sweeney’s Automobile School to learn how to operate and repair the Model T Ford.

Dad was particular about his cows, knew their names, knew which ones were greedy and which ones needed special rations. He did his own feeding, and each cow knew her name and could go to her own special stanchion.

He trusted his two hired men to do the feeding, but he and Mom decided to ask Grandpa Meyers to come to oversee and help with the dairy while Dad was away.

When the first Ford car arrived in Columbia, the town buzzed with excitement!

Of course the first T Ford was not Dad’s truck, but Mr. Clinkscales had located a truck body over in Illinois, and he assured Dad that he would have it converted into a truck.

Dad soon kissed us kids and Mom goodbye and left for Kansas City to study Fords.

Grandpa shooed me out of the cow barn the first time I took my tiny glass milk bottle to Tommy Williams; he squirted the bottle about half-full of warm, foamy milk directly from the cow. He did this for me each evening, but Grandpa would have none of that child’s play in the milk barn or the wash house.

We had to make some other changes, and I was soon wishing Dad would hurry home.

Mom kept my brother and me busy with trips to the woods for "leaf mold" for her flower pots. Jim and I gathered shiny horse chestnuts. They were dark brown, lopsided and shiny, and the outer hull was easily removed. We played that they were bales of hay or hogs going to market. They lasted, clean and shiny, and didn’t smell bad.

Our Columbia cousins, Kathryn and Jennie Mell Henry, came out to visit and to enjoy the woods on some weekends.

We had favorite places they enjoyed: a rock formation where many years of erosion by wind and rains had changed the limestone into a covered bridge.

Farther along the creek, there was a rock formation that, from one perspective, looked like a balanced rock.

We took pictures and ate picnics, and Mom devoured the letters from Dad, who was thrilled with what he was learning at Sweeney’s Auto School.

Then came a letter with "Caution" and other information on the outside of a sealed envelope. "Scarlet Fever," written in big red letters, made Mom cry, and she held Jim and me close to her and explained that Daddy would be all right but had to stay in Kansas City longer, and Grandpa Meyers would have to stay with us longer than we had planned.

Mom couldn’t keep back the tears; "Scarlet Fever" written on the outside of the letter in red letters was a dreaded message.

Dad was quarantined for 28 days.

He could be back in his automobile classes in a week, but students would not be permitted to leave the school for 28 days.

To be continued.

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