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~ Kathy M.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Tin Pot Valley, Chapter XXVIII: "Only Half Full" by Wilfred Brown

This week's Sepia Saturday theme has to do with two men in hats standing outside the entrance of a coffee shop.  I have shown this photo of my Great-Grandparents, Talitha Letsom Hedrick and her husband Benjamin Hedrick, before.  They are celebrating a special anniversary, probably their 50th.  There are plenty of coffee cups there, so there must have been some coffee about to be served.

The story below maybe off theme, but it has been a long time since we have all visited one of our favorite little places, Tin Pot Valley.  

So, please grab yourself a cup of your choice (coffee or tea), and settle down to a cute story, written by my distant cousin, Wilfred Brown, grandson to my Great-Great Uncle Horace and Aunt Aurilla Putnam of Oregon.



Tin Pot Valley, Chapter XXVIII:

Wilfred Brown
"Only Half Full"

Horace Putnam moved slower in the years that followed -- and as his strength ran down, so did the productiveness of the the Putnam Ranch.

Hired men driving the tractor did not plow as well as Chester had, or operate as well as the implements for the tilling of the soil.  The prized dairy cows, descendants of the Chief and his successors, did not give down milk in the volume they had, and the cream checks that long had been the mainstay of ranch income likewise dwindled.

But Horace Putnam did not worry much.  As he had for years past, he spent much of his time at projects that did not contribute greatly to the ranch economy, while brush grew thicker in the fence-rows, and encroached on fields and pastures, and fences fell into a state of disrepair.

He visited happily with those who stopped by -- relatives and old family friends and their descendants -- talking mainly about days and people long-gone.  The visitors usually had time to stay for dinner.

Source: The Iowa Agriculturist  "Sulky Corn Cultivator"

Putnam buggies and hacks had long since fallen apart, in the years since Chester brought his first Model-T Ford.  Grandpa once would have walked, when he went up the valley to visit George and Sue Hedrick, taking his time, looking at things and poking with his stick.  But now he didn't quite feel up to it.  So he hitched his aging horses to the sulky corn-cultivator and drove over to Hedricks.  He found it an acceptable one-man vehicle, and used it often for personal transportation after that. 

Horace Putnam spent many hours at a far corner of his ranch digging on a ditch -- a small canal -- that was aimed at draining a small swamp into Elk Creek.  It wasn't clear to me how beneficial that would be, for removing the massive growth of trees, brush, berry vine and other vegetation to make the swamp land cultivatable would be an even more horrendous task.  But Grandpa kept digging away, from time to time when the mood struck him, even though he never did get his ditch done.

He pointed out to me the spectacular possibilities of another canal that wouldn't have to be so much larger.  He noted that the divide between the Willamette and Umpqua River watersheds, at a community called Divide, south of Cottage Grove, is hardly perceptible.  Then the water headed for the Umpqua descends rapidly to the much lower altitudes of Drain and Elkton.  Not much of a ditch to connect the two river systems, said Grandpa, and you'd have the majestic Willamette River and most of its tributaries flowing south instead of north, down Pass Creek Canyon and into Elk Creek at Drain. 

Off-hand, I could see no reason why anyone might want that -- but it was quite an idea, and having seen some of the other things done in rearranging the natural landscape, I wouldn't be surprised to see a small matter like reversing the flow of the Willamette River some day take place. 

Mary Cunningham and Margaret Brown, both too young for automotive drivers' licenses, got Grandpa's permission to drive the Model-T around the ranch for practice, and thought up all sorts of errands to attend to without going onto the county road. 

The lovely ladies in this picture are not Mary and Margaret.  They are Vera Patchen and my very own Grandmother, Florence Hedrick (soon to be Traylor).  They are posing along with my Grandpa Ben Hedrick's Model T nicknamed "Old Hank".  Ben and Horace Greeley Putnam (Grandpa in this story) were brother-in-laws and neighbors.

They asked Grandpa if they could paint the Ford.  He thought it was a good idea.  Rust was showing in a few places, and he said he'd get some black paint next time he went to Drain. 

But that wasn't what the girls had in mind.  With some white paint they found in a half-filled can in the woodshed, one afternoon when Grandpa was away at his ditch, they touched up the car after the fashion of teen-agers of those days.  On the right side of the car they painted the warning:  "Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here!" . . . On the radiator grill:  "Here Comes Trouble!" . . . Across the hood, a variate of the introduction of a current canine movie star:  "Tin, tin, tin, the wonder car!"  And there were a number more. 

Horace Cunningham happened by, and added a contribution by painting across the back of the Model-T a perhaps timely warning:  "HELL IS ONLY HALF FULL!" 

Horace Putnam said nothing, when he saw the decorated car, but they knew from the crinkles around his eyes that he was mightily amused by the creative efforts of his grandchidlren.

The next morning, when Grandma and Lou came out, to drive into Drain for Sunday School and church with the younger children, Grandma was really shocked -- particularly by the warning on the rear. 

Perhaps Uncle John Hedrick and Grandma Florence joined them on the trip in to town for Sunday School at times.

Lou ordered her son to do something about his handiwork.  But time was pressing, and Horace did it only to he extent of getting the paint can and obliterating the offensive four letters -- considered a "swear-word" among Methodists.  Then the party proceeded into Drain, to Sunday School and church, with Grandma still not at all happy to be riding in such a conveyance. 

The last time I saw the old Model-T, when it had long since ceased to run and was half-hidden in a thicket of blackberry vines, a fading inscription still showed above the rust -- a blot of white paint, then the words:  **** IS ONLY HALF FULL!"

(Pages 174-177)

Here are some other chapters previously posted from Tin Pot Valley:

So, there you are, my friends.  If you enjoyed this story, please visit my Sepia Saturday friends by "CLICKING HERE" to find other neat photos and stories.  To read more about my family and other stories featuring old photos, memories and more, please look for this picture of me and my dad on the left-hand sidebar and read whatever else catches your fancy.  Thanks so much for visiting!

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

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Lisa Ricard Claro said...

Hahaha! This story is awesome. Mary and Margaret had a great sense of humor, and kudos to Grandpa for playing along and playing it up!

Lynn said...

This sounds really interesting and I'll have to read it all at a later time.... like after I'm out of school. Hope all is well.

Brett Payne said...

I like the photos of the women and girls posing with the cars - great fun.

Bob Scotney said...

A delightful read again. I look forward to these stories Kathy.

Wendy said...

"Tin tin tin" - how clever! These Tin Pot stories are always so much fun to read.

Postcardy said...

I wish I could see a photo of that painted car!

Tattered and Lost said...

Great fun!

Alan Burnett said...

Another wonderful Tin Pot Valley story and, as always, perfectly illustrated.

Sharon said...

I always enjoy reading about Tin Pot Valley.

I also look forward to reading your A-Z posts.

Sharon said...

Another great post. Wow. I love your paranormal photos. Amazing! You must have at least one guardian angel watching your family!

Little Nell said...

Beautifully told story, and those photos are wonderful!

Cassmob (Pauleen) said...

Classic story of the car's revamp and also wonderful photos. Love the names of places.

Mike Brubaker said...

Henry Ford was noted for saying his Model T was available in any color as long as it was black. A fun story. Wouldn't it be great to have a photo of that car now!

Kathy Morales said...

A fun story! I thought Grandpa would be angry, but guess he had a good sense of humor. My sister says when she learned to write her name, she was so proud that she wrote it (in chalk) on every brick she could reach on the outside of the house. My dad was not pleased. Good thing she didn't use paint!

Karen S. said...

Oh my gosh, always a fun time reading your posts, and of course the coolest of photos to go along with it. I am a fan of that old, old car, I never know what they're called or anything but I know they are exceptional! BUT! I am so glad I don't have to have them to drive today! Ha! Ha! Could you imagine!

Boobook said...

What a fabulous name you grandmother had. I wish I had a few like that - it would make family history research so much easier:)

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