Once, as I remember, I went through it and figured out that there were eight or ten houses along Bald Mountain Road in 1925, on that whole road from the school up. The Kresges lived down at the bottom of the road. Then from there up there were eight or ten houses - the Stchurs, our house, the Kenzakoskis', the two houses on the Mayock farm, the Kowalskis', and ah... the Gruvers' and the Stetzes... How many is that? Eight. They were all farmers except for the Mayocks. The Mayocks were both dentists. They had dentist offices downtown. The two houses on the Mayock farm were their summer places. But it was a real farm. They always had caretakers there, the Mayocks did. Stasik (first name unknown) was the name of the caretaker and Stasik and his wife ran the farm for them. The Stasiks lived in one of the Mayock houses but nobody lived in the other one except for a few weeks in the summer time. Stasik's wife, her last name was Dunn, and after we had been on the mountain a few years her parents moved up to the mountain to live. They were pretty old even then. I guess they came there to retire.
The Kenzakoskis were farmers and they also worked in the mines. I think they must have been the only ones to work in town on the side. The Gruvers were just farmers. Mrs. Kowalski worked their farm together with Mr. Kowalski. They had a small farm. The Stetzes lived entirely off their farm up at the end of the road. They were Russians, too, the Stetzes. Wasyl Stetz' wife's maiden name was Eva Pawlak but my Mom said that we weren't related. But she came from the same area of Galicia so she might have been some kind of distant relative.
I think we must have been one of the last families to move to Bald Mountain to do full-time farming. Most of the ones that came after us lived on the mountain but they worked in town.
The Kings moved up to Bald Mountain just about the same time as we did. Before they moved up the mountain, they had been living down where the quarry is, or was... Do you know where the quarry was? Near the railway arch? Well, they lived across from the quarry. Their name was Kinovitch then, or something like that and they chopped it off and made King out of it. They moved from the quarry to a farm down on the slope. The slope was down in front of Baba's house, down along Baba's stone wall fence. There was a regular pathway that went down there and if you followed that you came to a creek. Well, you go down there and that's where the Kings moved. That's where they bought the farm. That's where Matt King and his brothers were raised.
But that Arch, the Arch over Bald Mountain Road... the train tracks were on that Arch, the tracks went right over the top of the Arch from Mountain Top to Scranton. Once I saw a little handcar going along there, a little handcar with two men on it, pumping on handles to make it go. When a train went by, we used to wave to the man on the caboose and he would always wave back. That was near Kresgeville school.
I was 6 when I started at Kresgeville School right... a mile from home. I guess that must have been in September 1925, about four months after we came there. The school was right where... You know where Kresge's house is? - you come to Bald Mountain Road? Well, there's a house there on the right and the school was close to that house on the right. But the school's gone now. They put it on rollers or something and moved it to a new place. We walked all the way there, one mile, one mile to school. We walked in the winter, too. That was nothing special - we didn't mind the snow. We walked a mile to school and a mile back even in the snow. Nobody seemed to complain about anything in those days. We had high-topped shoes, so walking in the snow was no problem. High-topped shoes were shoes just like a pair of shoes but they went high up, almost to your knees or little below - middle of your calf, anyway. Down at the bottom there were holes for the laces but higher up there were clasps or hooks. You criss-crossed the lacing over those hooks. You started on one side with the laces and then you went to the other side and back and forth like that. It was easy lacing high-topped shoes. No trouble at all.
With high-topped shoes you didn't have socks to the ankles. You had socks that came above the boots, underneath the knees. With high-topped shoes on your feet, walking to school in the snow on a unplowed road was no problem.
I got a new pair of high-topped shoes like that not long after I started school. I was so happy with those shoes! I don't know if I ever had had a pair of new shoes before and I remember them! There was even a little knife in them! There was a little pocket on one side of one of the shoes and there was a little knife in it! Ha, ha, ha... But don't tell anybody about that! I guess they were boys' shoes, but I wore them.
Miss Galagher, Miss Rowan and Mr. Moran were my teachers at Kresgeville School. I had Miss Galagher one year, Miss Rowan the second and then the third to the eighth we had Mr. Moran. Mr. Moran bought some jacks and a ball for the children so they would have something to do during recess. He bought a lot of things for the kids to play with. He bought the things with his own money.
Elizabeth Laubaugh - she was my best friend in grade school. I didn't have too awful many playmates up on the Mountain and we got very close. She was my little friend at Kresgeville School. Then once when Elizabeth was walking along side of the highway, on East End Boulevard a truck toppled over on her. That's where she lived, on East End Boulevard. The truck didn't hit her, it tipped over on top of her as it was going along the highway. It toppled right over on her and squashed her. The road must have been very uneven or else the truck was loaded wrong. They told us what happened one day at school, and, oh, how I cried. That must have been first or second grade that Elizabeth was killed. I must have cried two weeks.
After that I played a lot with Helen Kowalski and Della Kenzakoski. There was old Reo, an old Reo car, that used to be parked behind Kenzakoski house. The Kenzakoskis had a lot of boys - Chester, Joe, Leo, three boys. Those boys had an old car. I guess they were doing something with the motor. I remember sitting in it with Della, eating plums one day, and she wanted to pretend that it was a playhouse. I remember telling her that I couldn't pretend that that old wreak was a house. I don't remember much else of what we did... oh - sometimes Helen, Della and I would put up three or four cents each and buy a ten cent bag of candy which was a big bag in those days.
When I went to school for the first year I was a great reader so the teacher promoted me from the first grade to the third. I liked geography best. I liked the idea of traveling, exporting and importing things from state to state and whatever - different parts of the country. 'Cause I loved travel. I loved going places. So I liked geography a lot. I went there to school 8 years, until I was fourteen.
During the first years after we had come to Bald Mountain several other families came there, too. Most of them were Russian families from Irishtown - the Obereces, the Wawrushes, the Kubiaks... The Dunns, too, they weren't Russian though.
There were two boys in the Oberec family, John and Michael, and one girl, too - Victoria - but she died young. As far as I know there was no dad in that family, I don't know what happened to him. There was no dad in the Wawrush family either. I think I know what happened to him, though. I think he was killed in a hunting accident. But I don't know when that happened. It must have been early on because I never saw him. There were about six or seven girls in that family and one boy.
With the woods all around were plenty of snakes up there on Bald Mountain - copperheads, rattlesnakes and garden snakes. Those are the only ones that I know. The rattlesnakes and copperheads were poisonous. Just after we moved up there my father said I should watch out for snakes and he said that a snake caused us to die. Now I realize that he was probably thinking of the Biblical story of Adam and Eve and the snake but I had never heard about that and I didn't make that connection. Then just a short time later I did see a rattlesnake going across the road. I killed it with stones, throwing stones down on it. I was thinking about Anna or Elizabeth. Yes! Ah-huh! I kept on for the longest time because snakes writhe long after they're dead, and I just kept on throwing stones. My feelings towards snakes never changed. They're still the same today.
There were lots of bears, too, oh yes, oh yes. There's always been lots of bears on Bald Mountain. I saw my first bear just a short time after we first came up to the mountain. I saw a mother bear and her two cubs walking through the... to the left of our house there was a field we called the "cow yard" and that's where I saw a mother black bear and her cubs... in the cow yard. I remember my mother said stay away from anything like that. But the bears kept pretty much to themselves so you never had to go out of your way to avoid them. I never heard of the bears making any kind of disturbance. There were lots of bears but I seldom saw them. It's only when they were doing a lot of building somewhere and disturbed their places, their pathways, that the bears roamed around and you saw them.
Our house on Bald Mountain was a two story wood house with wooden shingles on the roof. When we first moved there, there were no porches on the front. My Mom had them added on soon after we moved up there... that must have been in '26. They were double porches, one on top with a door from the bedroom and one on the first floor. There was a piece of paper in the trunk in the attic that said something about 75 dollars or something. I think that was for the wood for the porches, what she paid for it. No, the porches weren't there when we moved in, my Mom had them put up not too long after they bought the house.
The house had three bedrooms, and three rooms downstairs, kitchen, parlor and dining room, six in all. And a hallway to the upstairs. That's where the bedrooms were. The girls had one bedroom, the boys another. Whoever was smallest, the baby, slept with our parents in the third bedroom. In Helen's and my bedroom there was one bed and a dresser, and that's it. Maybe we had a mirror too, 'cause I remember I had a pair of new pajamas and I remember looking at myself in the mirror, but maybe that was later on.
Our kitchen had gray paneled walls. We had two pictures. We had a picture of the Saint. And one showing Judas with the bag showing in the front, sitting at the table. I don't know what the... the Last Supper, I guess, when the plan was made, where they... whatever it is. Everybody around there had a copy of that picture.
Stuck behind those pictures we had dried pussy willow twigs. The Russians used pussy willow like the Catholics use palm leaves. We got new ones every year blessed at the church. If there was a bad storm my mother would take one of those twigs and burn it in the stove so the smoke would go up and protect... ha, that's just superstition, to protect the house from lightning. That's something she got from my grandmother.
We had something in the kitchen that I really liked a lot. It was a crib and it was kind of suspended on wires and it had a coil spring underneath that you wound the spring with a crank and the crib rocked gently back and forth by itself with the baby in it while you were doing your work. My mother worked at the table and the baby rocked back and forth. That was a real nice crib. I still think they should have something like that nowadays so the baby would rock back and forth gently.
There was a little shed about five feet outside the house, behind the kitchen, connected by a breezeway. We called it the summer shanty. There was a little wood-burner there and we did some cooking there in the summer when it was hot. I spent a summer with my grandparents before my parents bought their farm and I met the people that lived in our house before us. They made pies in that summer kitchen. They used it as a pie shop. They made pies. They sold them downtown, in the valley. I visited them when I was living with my grandparents that one summer and I remember them telling me not to touch the pies. When we lived there we took baths there in the summer shanty, in the summer. That's where we washed clothes in there, too. Once somebody gave my parents a washing machine. I guess it must have been somebody in Irishtown, 'cause who else could it have been? I guess they didn't like it and they gave it to my parents and they set it up in the summer shanty. The washing machine had a tub with wash board sides. It had wash board sides... You know what a wash board looks like? Corrugated metal? With ridges? Well, it had wash board sides and something that spun the clothes around and it had a crank and you turned the crank and it washed the clothes against the sides of the tub. But it was too hard to move the crank so we didn't use it.
We tore down the summer shanty sometime during the early thirties and put a door there, where the breezeway connected the summer shanty to the house. So the doorway was in the back and that's how you came out of the house is through the back. We had a screen door there in the summer, but like my father said, "Every time that they open the door, they don't push on the wood part, they push on the screen." So the screen got pushed out of the frame and he had to replace the screen occasionally. If the corner of the screen got pushed out the flies could get in. Even if the screen wasn't pushed out, the flies could get in 'cause people were always opening the door, going in and out. And we didn't have any screens on the windows at all. So in the summer we always had two, three rolls of flypaper stuck up.
Flypaper, oh, yes. That came in rolls and there were two kinds. The first kind, the oldest kind, came in packages of three, wrapped in light brown paper. You took one of those rolls and you unrolled it so that it was like a long strip about two inches wide and about thirty inches long. On one end there was a little loop made of string. You put that string around the head of a thumbtack on the ceiling and hung it up that way. On that kind of flypaper there was protective paper on both sides and after you hung it up you peeled the paper off. Inside it was real sticky. The sticky stuff made the flypaper so you could almost see through it and 'cause it had been rolled up so long it hung down like a curl of hair, all twisted.
The second kind of flypaper came in some kind of a paper container, a cardboard container and the flypaper was wrapped around on the inside. The container had a little paper cap on it with a string hanging out from under the cap. You took the cap off and pulled the string and the flypaper unrolled from inside. You put that kind of flypaper up the same way with a thumbtack.
Fly papper had a smell, but not real strong. If you smelled it real close there was a stink to it. I don't remember exactly what it smelled like, but there was a smell. And, boy, those things really worked on the flies! The flies loved the smell and they'd stick right to it, never got away! You unrolled it and and you put a tack in it and hung it up on the ceiling and caught the flies. Yes, yes, oh sure, yes, we had flypaper for the flies in those days!
The outhouse was out near the trees. That was the only toilet we had. Up to nine people had to use it. My mother would keep it nice and clean, scrub it, dump water, alot of water, in it and it would run out into the ground - you never had to dig it out or anything. But in the winter, boy, was it cold. You'd put your shoes on, run out there, then run right back in!
You didn't have toilet paper in those days, you used a rag and a pan of water instead of toilet paper, but it irritates me greatly that you write down stuff like that. Details like that will just completely ruin whatever it is you're writing.
Deedo was a hard worker but he was hard to get along with. If things didn't go the way he wanted them to go he got very upset. He had a really terrible temper. If he got angry, all the kids got scared. It was a little scary just to go ask him something.
He had a big mustache, he always did. I don't remember how he wore his hair. I guess you would have to try to find an old photograph to find out. I know there was an old picture of him sitting next to a pile of potatoes, his bandurki. I guess he was proud of his harvest.
I don't know exactly what other crops he planted besides potatoes. Corn, that was one thing. As I remember it, the cornfield was on the way up towards the mountain... you know, when you pass the front of the house and go up towards Bald Mountain on the right. There was sort of a road there that went up towards the stone wall. That's where the cornfield was. He had a scarecrow in that field, yes, yes, he did, in the cornfield. He put up a wood form like a cross and he put a head on it, a stuffed burlap bag with a string around the neck. He put a hat on the head and a jacket on the cross-bar. That's how he made the scarecrow. It stuck up just above the corn. The corn seemed to grow so tall in those days. When I was little my grandfather's corn towered above me, at least two feet higher than I was. Corn seems shorter when I see it today. I don't know why that is.
Deedo had grapes. That's another thing he grew. He used to make wine out of the grapes. I remember once a whole bunch of people came up from Irishtown to help pick them. I don't know how they made the wine, though. I was never around when they did it. He made wine out of choke-cherries, too. That I remember. A choke-cherry is a berry. It has a good taste to it, but it grows on a small bush in clusters like a grape but with a big bone in it like a cherry.
Deedo had a truck, a Reo built sometime around the First World War. It had those flat tires on it - solid rubber tires on steel rims. He used it to take his potatoes down to the city, haul hay to the barn. It was a farm truck. What's left of it is still parked behind the stone wall that goes down behind the house. Eighty years and it's still there.
Baba had her hair in a bun on the back of her head. I don't think she ever cut it. It'd go down to her fanny when she let it out, but she always wore it rolled up in a bun on the back of her head. She was nice. She was a wonderful person (photo, another photo). I know very little about her family. All I know is that Baba had a brother named Maksym that stayed in Europe. That's all I know about her family. Once Baba and us kids were sitting on a little bank in the field one evening and the stars came out and there was a falling star and Baba said, "there's a falling star, that means there's a death somewhere." That was something she believed. She believed a lot of old stuff. She believed that wine and honey or vinegar and honey, I forget which, was good for colds and fevers. She showed me a weed called badka that she said was good for cuts. It has a pear-shaped, smooth leaf about three inches long. I don't know if it has an English name. You've probably seen badka on the ground lots of times, but didn't know what it was. Any of the kids can show you what badka is if you go up on the Mountain. If you have a cut or a sore, that's when you use badka. Put badka on the cut, wrap it up with a rag - it cures right up! My brother John said Baba put bear salve on a boil he had and then badka on top of that and wrapped it with a strip of cloth and it worked. All the blood and puss came right out in a day. That's what John says. He says that Badka is still a big cure in the Ukraine.
Baba had a garden, just like we did. She did most of the work in the garden. Deedo, he was more with the horses, the cows. It was Baba that did most of the work in the garden. She planted a lot of onions. She grew some peanuts once, too. She took us up to her garden to take a look at the peanuts that she grew. It was just a peanut bed, not an acre or anything, just a small area of peanuts. She didn't pull up any, she just showed us what she had planted. Peanuts were something new then. I don't know what she did with them. They ate them, I guess.
Baba always made her own butter. She had a butter churn, a wooden butter churn with a up-and-down stick that came out of the top. I helped her make it once. She was making butter one day and then she went to do something and she let work the churn for a while. But I only helped her make butter that once, just that one time.
She had her garden out in the field. And she had like a flowerbed along that wall that you can see from our house. She had hollyhocks and poppies. I remember when I was walking around with her one day she said that you must not eat the seeds from the poppies. The poppy seeds are a narcotic at a certain period... in its growth and then it looses that effect. We ate poppy seed roll all the time. Baba's flower bed was only two, three feet wide along the wall and there were only maybe thirty, thirty-five poppies, just a little area. So I don't think she harvested the seeds. It was too little. I guess they bought their poppy seeds just Iike we did. My mother bought ours and put them in a grinder...