Martin Duell remembers life on West Mountain in the 1950's

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Life on West Mountain in the 1950’s

Starting in 1950 my father would take me to Leona Duell Swart and Cliff Swart's house on Sickle hill Rd. He would bring a bag of groceries to them and leave me there for a week of deer hunting in Nov.

They didn’t have electric, water (no well or creek). There was a well up the road by tractor but only in the summer. In the winter they melted snow for drinking but usually the water bucket in the house would be frozen in the morning. Couldn’t get to the outhouse in the winter either.

There was a big round table and chairs with a tall oil lantern. A big black wood stove for cooking, heating water and provide some heat. Sometimes we would have to take turns all night to keep it burning. Leona would do some ironing by heating up the iron on the stove. She made the best tasting bread in the old stove with her home made butter.

They tried to grow buckwheat but the deer took must of it. We would go hunting at night for raccoons which the fat and meat would be canned and stored in the dugout below the house.

There was an oil stove in the other room that provided must of the heat but not enough for the two rooms. The stove pipe went thru the attic where we had feather beds, Well below freezing up there but very warm in the beds. We went up by flashlight but in the morning hurry down to get next to the wood stove.

Once a week or so a car would go by on that old dirt road which provided more talk as we sat and talked about the day. I never heard anyone complain about the hard life they had.

One day Leona sent her son Millard and I by tractor to get a milk can a few miles away. There was an old guy leaning against the house getting some sun. The ground was frozen. I saw an old woman trying to get to the barn with hay to feed the cows. She was very bent and had two canes and rope between her arms to carry the hay. When we got back home asked Leona what happened to the old lady? She said both her legs had been broken and they let them heal the way the were!!

After I got out of the Air force in early 1960”s I went back to Leona and Cliff’s. Then they had water and electric. They were all setting on the floor and the table and chairs were gone! What happened I asked? It got so cold they burnt them up!!

Went back for several more years. I was always very welcomed by them.

I so loved that place and the memories of them.

Martin Duell

For more picture of the parents and sibling of Leona Duell, see the family photo album of the Philo Duell family uploaded by Martin Duell.