February 25, 2005

Teechie's Story: Part I

Happy 80th Birthday!

The other day I found a letter written by my great-great aunt Teresa. It’s several typed pages long, kind of a personal history, and I thought it was pretty interesting. I am well aware that’s just because she’s my relative, but I think I’ll transcribe some of it here, anyway. I always liked Teechie (she passed away several years ago). She had an interesting life, and everyone loved her. She never married. Pretty cool lady.

Here’s what she has to say about her childhood (I think I’ll do separate entries later on her teaching career and her travels. I know you’re ON THE EDGE OF YOUR SEAT!):


I was born at Dead Ox, between Granite Station and Woody, in Kern County in 1897. Our home was on the east side of the road. My dad was a cattleman.

It was spring when I was born at the home on the lower ranch. A midwife attended to my mother and me. At that time, I had two sisters, Mary and Nora, so everyone was a little disappointed when they saw another girl.

After I was born, Jim came, the most welcome child in the family. Then came Catherine (we called her Dolly because she was such a little girl). Then there was Margaret, and finally the second boy, Walter, was born at the upper ranch above Poso Flat in the Greenhorn Mountains. I was about seven when Walter was born. There was a forestry man staying with us that night who had come up by stage to inspect the forests nearby. He was a well-educated man, but didn’t seem to know much about forests. We got a kick out of that.

We made our own fun, as we had no tennis racquets or basketballs. We had stick horses. Three of us rode one horse to school
[one of the real ones, I assume]. We never stayed home from school because of weather. I remember one morning we were two hours late to school because it was snowing and we had to walk to school, and I cried because I was so late.

We lived mostly at the upper ranch until Christmas, and in January we moved to the foothills. So we had two schools and two teachers every year. Quite a contrast, too – the first teacher was a young, fresh girl just out of school herself, and the second teacher was a sour old woman.

We never took vacations. Our travel was moving from one ranch to the other. But twice a year dad used to come down and get supplies from Bakersfield. He got sacks of flour and sugar and beans, and all the staples we’d need, and a box of crackers. We had our own garden, and beef and pigs. We smoked our own bacon, raised our own chickens, had our own eggs and milk. We picked wild gooseberries and elderberries for dessert. We had quail and dove and rabbits.

My dad was generous… you would never have known he was trying to save money. Once there was a Christmas dance with a decorated tree at Granite School. We wanted to go, but dad didn’t feel well. He didn’t feel he could ride that far. But we cried, and he took us all on horseback to that dance, 13 miles away, and stayed until 3 a.m., then brought us all back. We brought basket lunches, and everyone shared.

My mother, Sarah, came from Ireland. She was a large woman, magnanimous and sociable. My dad was quiet, like I am, but Mama liked life, and was the life of the family. She loved dancing, and would dance with us kids [I guess when they weren't bellyaching about going to the school dance!]. I remember one of the first treats my dad brought us from town was a phonograph, when they first came out. I remember listening to the Blue Danube Waltz and Yankee Doodle. Playing the phonograph was a great treat for us in the evening.

My dad was quite a serious type of person. He was very generous and tenderhearted. Mama had a quick temper, and dad was very even-tempered, so they made a good pair. She was the life and he was the stabilizer.

All righty, I think that's about all we need from Teechie tonight! Stay tuned for Teechie's Story: Part II, where she calls her little sister "mentally defective" and makes racial slurs about her students!

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