Sunday, July 3, 2016


Dobson home, 1912
It was Saturday, June 25 – early morning. Mike had left for a group cycling experience – 100 miles from Harpster to Elk City and back. I was west of the house picking service berries. My companion, Bess, was sniffing out the berries on the ground. Nellie had stayed behind to nap on her pillow. The sun, rising higher, would soon make the day hot, but just then a cool country breeze wafted through the branches of the old bush, evoking thoughts of Ina and her family.

Back: Ethel, Myrtle, Irl, Pearl; Front: Jack, Shirley, Ina, Vance
Suddenly it was summer, 1912. Ina’s six children, ranging in age from two years to twenty, were all gathered for breakfast in the cramped little kitchen. Today it was just oatmeal, eggs, bacon, and toast because in addition to her regular cooking and housework, it was time to pick and process the service berries.

“Now remember,” Ina said in supervisory tones, speaking directly to eight-year-old Vance, “your chores first, and then the serviceberries must be picked before you go to the canyon to fish.”

“Ahhh!” moaned Vance under his breath, but Ina shot him a look that brooked no more complaint.

It was understood that Irl and Myrtle, 16 and 18 respectively, would hoe beans today. Myrtle was secretly envious of those who would pick berries but knew that she would not be excused from weeding.

“Ethel,” continued Ina, “You help me with the breakfast dishes and caring for Shirley. We’ll pick the berries and make the juice today. Tomorrow we’ll make the jelly. The berries are good and plentiful this year, and I hope to have enough for at least two batches of jelly and a pie or two.
Serviceberry bush on left of picture

“Pearl, you start picking,” continued Ina. “Be sure to wear that old straw hat to protect your face from the sun. Start with the bush in the yard. We’ll join you there when we finish the dishes and then move to the bush at the edge of the west field.”
Dobson home, 1912

Within the hour, Ina, Pearl, Vance, and Ethel were picking serviceberries, pails strapped to their waists with belts. Little Shirley played on a blanket in the shade. As they picked, they visited quietly among themselves.

Well – you know – something like that. Next post I’ll tell more about my serviceberry experience. KW


Chris said...

Enjoyed this! (And if that was a "quick" breakfast, I'm impressed.) I'm also impressed with Mike's 100 mile bike ride!!! Yikes!

Kathy said...

Mike enjoyed making that century ride from start to finish with his cycling group. He was interested to see the area where that terrific slide occurred since we've read so much about it.

Well, I was guessing on breakfast, of course, but farmers must have a hearty breakfast. At first I said oatmeal and toast, but then I figured they probably always had bacon and eggs on hand. I believe Ina would have prepared a big meal for noon and a light meal for supper.