Helen Seymour’s brother continues his trapping career.

One winter when Charles was older, in his early teens, he wanted to set box traps for rabbits.  A Mr. George Burgess would buy all he could catch, but he wanted them alive.  Mother was against the project, but finally Charles persuaded Father to help him convince Mother that it would be all right.  He built one box trap, set it, and to his delight found it sprung the first morning.  Fearing the rabbit would get away if he opened it there, he took the trap home and into the kitchen, all excited.  Mother was against opening the trap in the kitchen, but Father assured her they would get the rabbit into a burlap bag.  They opened the trap a little way and out shot, not a rabbit, but a flying squirrel.  Mother was frightened and ran into the pantry and shut the door, leaving her men folk to cope the best they could.  That squirrel flew and jumped about the kitchen -- up on the window shades and down -- one time making contact with Father’s head, then a quick trip across the hot stove.  The dog barked, the cat ran under the table, and Father and Charles rushed to shut the doors to the other rooms.  Finally they opened the outside door and Mr. Flying Squirrel found freedom again.  Mother came from the pantry and had her say, "No more of this nonsense; if Mr. Burgess has to have live rabbits, someone else will catch them!"

Another of Charles’ projects worked out fine and netted him a nice profit.  This was catching eels.  Ella and I would go with him at dusk each evening and watch Charles set his poles securely, letting the hook and line float out a short distance from shore.  Then we returned home.  Early in the morning was the time the eels would "bite", so Charles was ready to catch them.  He would make the rounds early, put his catch in a burlap bag, and take them to the same Mr. Burgess.  He took all Charles could catch.

Charles wanted a bicycle so very much; for enjoyment and to help him deliver his papers, "The Saturday Globe", a Chicago weekly paper.  Mother suggested raising potatoes.  Father agreed, and together they raised two fields of potatoes; one large field for Father and a smaller field for Charles.  He learned to cut the seed just right, helped plant and cultivate the potatoes.  When the hard work of harvesting was over, they had a bumper crop.  Charles not only had a fine bicycle, but a complete new outfit; suit, overcoat and shoes.

He was a proud boy, and for several years he raised potatoes and made out fine.  He had a great deal of pleasure with his bicycle and let me ride it, too.  That was quite a trick; a boy’s bike and country dirt roads, but I managed.  In order to mount it, I would go to the chopping block, stand on it and get on from there, sometimes falling to the ground, but eventually I learned to balance and the others had no more fun watching me hit the dust.

Family Discipline
When we were quite small, Mother and father decided that not one of their brood was going to be a nuisance to grownups, so we were taught to obey a few simple rules:

Father was a rather small man about 5 foot 6 inches, and weighing about 150 lbs.; very quick in movement and easily moved to anger or laughter.

Mother was 5 foot 6 inches also, very slender in her youth, weighing 102 lbs. when married, and never more than 125 lbs. in later life.  She was calm, even-tempered, slow to anger, but very determined when once aroused.

Father realized his own shortcomings and decided Mother should discipline us.  "You decide and I’ll back you up".  And back her up he did.  Never once in all those years did he reverse a decision she made.  We never could out-wit Mother by asking Father for permission to do something, for he’d always ask, "What did your Mother say?"

They both worked hard and deserved a little peace and quiet in the evening and discipline never hurt us.  They played games with us before bedtime.  I recall such games as "Jack Straws", "Dominoes", "Pitt", "Proverbs", "Old Maid", etc., enjoyed by all gathered round the dining room table.  First, however, Charles filled the wood box and we girls did the supper dishes. 

Mother always kept a short branch from the lilac bush on the shelf back of the stove as a reminder to us.  This she’d use to tingle our legs if we were naughty.  Usually we were punished by losing some privilege, which hurt more than a whipping.

If we showed signs of revolting against Mother’s rules, the stern voice of Father, "Do as your Mother says", was all that needed to start us doing our work.  I suppose I wanted to see if Father meant what he said, as I’d never seen him punish one of us, because when I was about 5 years old, I was playing with paper dolls under the dining room table.  Mother told me to put them away and come wash my hands for dinner.  I lingered even after Father said, "Do as your Mother said".  All at once I decided I’d better wash my hands as Father appeared on his hands and knees, and I felt the sting of that lilac bush whip on my legs.  As Father crawled under the table on one side, I went out the other side in a hurry.  Just couldn’t get to the sink fast enough.

The only time I remember Father punished one of us on his own was when Charles, then a boy of 6, was the cause of a friend falling from a horse.  Bill Griffin had his cousin, Sylvester Northway, behind him on a very gentle horse, and came for a ride as far as our farm.  When they started out the driveway, Charles clapped his hands and shouted, "Get up!" to the horse.  The old horse started to trot and Sylvester slipped off.  Father picked him up and thought he was all right.  Then he took Charles over his knee and gave him a few smart slaps with a shingle.  Mother also scolded him and told him he might have caused a very serious accident.  As it was, Sylvester did fracture a small bone in his arm.

One thing that made Father and Mother very nervous was the thought of one of us falling from a wagon or surrey seat and being run over, so we were never allowed to stand up in any wagon, even when very small.  We knew we wouldn’t go if we did.  If they gave a neighbor’s child a ride to school, it was understood that he sit down, or he’d have to get out and walk.  In this way we all enjoyed the ride.  We sang and told stories along the way, and many were the recitations we practiced when out riding.


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