Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sugar Mama: Pearl Drake Haynes

I knew my Great Grandma Pearl pretty well, but not when she looked this good! This is a wedding picture or a picture taken as a newlywed. (I'll share the whole picture another time...) She died at 991/2 when I was in high school. I've been thinking about her a little more over the last couple of years while we watch the world change with the "economic downturn", wondering how she responded and survived during the Great Depression as a young mother. She would have been 33 in 1930 and had five children, ages 3 - 12. I have some written memories by my Grandpa, her son Jack, and this weekend I also visited with her daughter Mary for some stories.

(Me-->Dad-->Grandpa Jack-->Pearl Drake Haynes)
First of all, I was a little surprised talking to Aunt Mary to find out that Grandma Pearl actually had light brown hair. "Oh yes, she was 'Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair'" says Mary. I only knew her with silver white hair and had always pictured her with black her as a youth because she looked so much like my Grandpa Jack I've always kind of considered her his female double. Even Aunt Ida Lou, Pearl's daughter-in-law who was also there for our visit, was surprised. She had also only known her with white hair because she went gray quite early in life. Because of the hard times? I don't know but I hope it's not genetic. Mary then pointed out, "That's why she was named Pearl, because when she was born her Dad saw her and declared that she was fair and pretty as a pearl."
Mary said she remembered that her mom went to work for a little while during the depression. She figures that the little boys (Jack and Seth) would have been in Kindergarten and 1st grade maybe. Pearl worked at the sugar plant "dipping" powdered sugar into boxes. At the end of the day she would be coated in powdered sugar, and when she came home the little boys would race to the door and proceed to kiss all the sugar off of her face. How sweet! I bet she really liked these happy moments because Jack says "I guess Seth and I were a little mischievous...in fact we could be little buggers! Mary used to call us the "twin" brothers from Hell!"

Here are some other memories of Grandpa Jack that reveal a little more what living in the Depression was like for his family.

"When I was 3, we moved to the Campbell ranch west of Great Falls, Montana (Manchester area). We lived in a boxcar there 1 year. The walls were not insulated, so in the winter we even used the rugs as blankets!"
The family then moved 10 miles west to Simms. Jack remembers this: "We didn't have any indoor plumbing...we didn't even have an outhouse! We used the corner of the sheep shed, with a pole for a seat! Mother bought me a pair of coveralls with a square button up 'trap-door' in the back. The pole was too high for me, and one day the trap-door trapped more than it should have, and I ran to the house for help! Mother was not pleased." Currently potty-training my two year old, I can't imagine trying to get my child up on a pole without falling off. Aack! This whole situation makes me feel so thankful for what I have.
Well, about this time Pearl's dad, Daniel Newell Drake died, and Pearl got on a train to Ogden with the two little boys. I love this next story--it reminds me so much of my rascal sons. "Mother and Seth and I rode the train from Great Falls, Montana, to his funeral. Seth and I were pretty excited about the train ride! Around Butte, a man came by selling Cracker Jacks! I said loudly [as I can completely imagine my hammy Grandpa saying, even as a child], 'Mother, can I have some Cracker Jacks?' Poor Mother didn't have a cent of money! She had to say 'No!' I kept begging, so to quiet me, Mother reached over and pinched my behind! I shouted, 'Mother, quit pinching me!' A fellow in the seat in front of me said, 'Lady, would you mind if I bought your son some Cracker Jacks?' He did! Taped to the outside of the box was my prize...a pea shooter! I shot Seth with a peanut from my box, so Mother took my pea shooter away and put it in the window sill. When we got off the train, I forgot it and was heartbroken!"
Okay, I still laugh every time I read that story.
The family moved back to Utah to be by Pearl's mother and stayed for a few years.
"We were living in the town of Taylor in the Blue house. We had no running water, and had to use an outhouse or a chamber pot. It had an upstairs. It was about 1935. We had only 5 or 10 acres. We raised watermelon and cantaloupe. Dad worked part time for Brother Petersen. The depression was very serious! ...We had a few cows and sold butter and cream. F.D.R. sent a man around to buy old cows for $10 each. We sold him 2 cows and took the $20! He shot the cows and we promptly butchered them and Mother canned the meat in quart jars!"
Crazy times, I guess. This next story is very The Grapes of Wrath to me.
"I guess things were pretty bad, because Dad decided to go to California to find work. We had 5 kids and 2 adults in a 1929 Model A! Mary got to sit in the front, and 4 boys stuffed in the back like sardines! Verl took his $1.00 and bought a sack of chocolate squares to eat on the way....we went through Reno and over Donner pass. On the other side it was solid fog for miles. When we finally broke out into the bright California sun, we started singing, 'California, Here we come!' [okay, never mind about that Grapes of Wrath comparison...this family was having way more fun] Seth said, 'Speed up, Dad! Let's see how fast she'll go downhill!' Dad opened the spark lever on the [left?] side, and the gas lever on the right side and let it go! We reached 70 MPH! The boys were all grinning and waving as we passed everyone up." The anticipated job with their uncle Garrett Webster was gone when they arrived, so they visited relatives, toured a little, and "Dad stopped every chance he got and applied for work, standing in long lines! When we got to Long Beach, gas was 10 cents a gallon! We stayed in L.A. with Mother's nephew. I remember buying a bag of oranges. Boy, were they good! When we finally got back from California, it had snowed 2 feet at Taylor. The snow had come down the chimney and filled the stove with snow! It was late, and we climbed into cold beds. Later, we moved half mile away to share crop the Green Place. We raised 15 acres of wheat, 10 acres of watermelon, some cantaloupe, 20 acres of tomatoes and a 1 acre garden. Everything was flood irrigated. Water was scarce, so the farmers had to take turns."
Mary said her mom canned SO much and even made her own ketchup. I don't think those tough Mormon women back then were slackers of any sort.