Saturday, June 14, 2008

Russell Marion Blood and Father's Day

It seems appropriate as Father's Day approaches, to include some of Dad's own words on how he came to marry Mother and father six children. At the time that Dad met Mother (Minnie Arrilla Wasden), he was living and working for his Aunt Elsie and Uncle Dewey in Sunlight, Wyoming, (mailbox, Painter, Wyoming), which is to the north and a little west of Cody.
"In 1929, Minnie Wasden came up to work at the ranch for the summer. She was a school teacher. But I must go back several years and tell about my romance with another schoolmam.
Dewey's brother Prestly had a ranch at the lower end of Sunlight Basin and they had four children, so they built a small school house and the county hired a school teacher. Her name was Bernice Bruce. She had black hair and dark eyes with long lashes, a tad on the plump side. Needless to say I fell madly in love with her, so did Dewey's boy, Jack, so we took turns courting her. I always felt that I had the upper hand, but later found out that I was being two-timed after a few exchanges with Jack. So then we just strung her along for the rest of the school season.
I thought that Minnie was kind of homely at first" (Mother's pictures of the time do not reflect this - Dad was obviously used to a different kind of beauty), "but she had the kind of classical features that showed so many different facets of character that I found her fascinating, and so established quite a romance.
But, alas, we had a couple of girls from the East who were visiting for a couple of months, and I, feeling my oats, latched on to a girl who was six years older than I. Her name was Pauline Beck. She was a nice girl, and so I abandoned Minnie; mostly, it was an ego trip because here all of a sudden I had a rich girl, also two in the same summer.
There was a rodeo in Cody every summer the third, fourth, and fifth of July, and there was always a big dance. The dance hall was called Wolfville. Minnie and Pauline were there, and I picked up Bernice, who at the time was working in Cody, so I was a busy boy trying to keep all of my girls straightened out. Was I on top of the world! Minnie fooled me, though, because she had taught school at Meeteetsee the last winter, so she had a lot of cowboy friends who took over all of her dances, so that took me down a tad.
I was driving the truck into Cody about two or three times a week, and Pauline usually went with me, so I completely abandoned Minnie, but like all dreams, Pauline went home, and as I watched the train pull out of the Cody train station, I had a terrible feeling of loss. Of course, it was a kind of dream world that I was living in. I really thought I was in love with this twenty-six-year-old girl who probably had never done without anything, and here was this twenty-one-year-old kid without anything except a couple of pairs of Levis and a pair of boots and a big hat.
So, through the long winter, I kept busy working on a new dining room, kitchen, and rough neck dining room, making pole furniture and mourning my lost love. . .
Minnie came back to work in the spring after school was out, and we patched up everything, so we were off to a fresh start. No more rich dudines, but back to reality.
And so our romance blossomed, and how. In the fall she started teaching in Powell, and I did most of the trucking, so we used to meet at Corbett, which was the ditch rider's house. Elna, who was Minnie's sister, and her husband, Oscar House lived there. He was a ditch rider for the Powell irrigation district. Elna used to fix us goodies to eat, so she helped our romance considerably.
Minnie's father was not too keen on the situation. He thought she was maybe chasing after me. I forgot to mention that she was Mormon, and here I was, a Gentile who smoked cigarettes and had a drink occasionally. I left the ranch about Christmas time in 1930. I joined the Mormon Church and we were married on the 23 of December in Bishop Carlton's house in Lovell, Wyoming. Minnie's mother and her sister Sofe were there, but not her father. I'm afraid he thought I was a pretty poor husband for his daughter. On the 24th, Minnie's mother had a family dinner to celebrate the occasion, and on Christmas day we took off for Denver in Minnie's Model A. Coupe. . . "
Now, I want to skip ahead to part of the story that Dad wrote about much later: "When I said I left the ranch to get married, I didn't give a full account of how I left it. Uncle Dewey had gone to New York, and Aunt Elsie, Jack and I were left at the ranch. Aunt Elsie, thinking that Jack and I needed a vacation, gave us each fifty dollars and sent us to Cody. I spent most of mine on a suit" (this was the light brown Hart, Schaffner, and Marx suit that Dad wore for years and years), " and Minnie drove up to meet me and took me down home [Penrose] to face the music. Unfortunately, and this I have always regretted, I left Jack without saying where I was going. I always wondered how he felt when I disappeared - likewise, Aunt Elsie."
There are six adult children alive today, who are very grateful that Dad married Mother, and that we were able to lead the life that we did because of their planning and hard work that they accomplished all of their lives. So, on this Father's Day, we celebrate and say, "Thank you, Dad. We're grateful that the orphan boy finally found a family and a home that he loved all of his life."


Ann said...

Thank you! I never get tired of hearing these stories.

Steve Blood said...

Happy Father's Day to all of you fathers.

Ann said...

And to you as well, Steve.