Memoir

Youthful memories of Driggs, Idaho (1939-1945)


A Memoir by Dallas Guy Cross
January 2011




In 1936 I was born in a Rupert Idaho hospital close to the village of our home in Heyburn. My parents were Virgil Stuart and Ethel Alice (Tobey) Cross. I was the first born of three. My father had just gotten his degree at the University of Idaho in agriculture and education and had his first teaching job in Heyburn. The family moved to Shelly, Idaho where father taught high school and coached. When I was about 4 years old Virgil was appointed as the University of Idaho, County Agricultural Extension Agent for Teton County, considered a training county in the extension program. We moved to Driggs.

We rented a house on Wallace Avenue right across from where the park is now and my first memory of Driggs was a cold, cold winter. It was so cold that my mother knitted slippers for me so my little feet would not stick to the frozen linoleum floor. The house was heated by a central coal burning stove in the living room. The fire invariably went out at night and had to be restarted in the morning. After the stove warmed up, getting dressed while shivering was tolerable only being close to the stove. This was hazardous as often times one of the family would sizzle their backside when bending over to put on socks or pants.

One of our neighbors was Grandma Minor a widow of great age. I would visit her and listen to her stories of traveling as a child on the wagon train during her family's pioneer journey to the West. She also had an old fashioned, curved glass, curio cabinet with fascinating natural curiosities and artifacts. Her root cellar was filled with sand where she stored vegetables during the winter, but most excitingly she also hibernated her two great land terrapins in it as well. She said they were older than she was. During the summer she would have shackles on their legs and a chain to a metal stake in the yard where they munched all vegetation within reach. Upon occasion she would let me climb on the larger one's back and ride a few paces. For several years I would drop in to help Mrs. Minor split kindling and with some chores such as feeding garbage to her reptiles.

My mother gave birth to my brother, Lary Alvin, in 1940 and we moved to the light yellow, stucco house on the SW corner of Ashley and First Street. The house was two storey and originally built out of logs. Our neighbors to the west were the Minor family. Mr. Minor was the son or grandson of Grandma Minor. I think Mr. Minor had a dairy farm because almost every week Mrs. Minor would separate cream on her back porch with a hand-cranked separator, an operation I always liked to watch. They also would hand make ice cream on the Fourth of July and I tried to be close by to be offered a sample. I remember some of their children, Doyle a teenager, an older brother, Minettte (sp) about my age and Sally who was younger.

Two doors south on First Street lived the Atchleys. Mr. Atchley was a lawyer in town. His wife was kind and very formal, and they had three children. Shelby Hugh Jr, Ardys Arlene and Audrienne who was my age. Their concrete back steps had a big pock in it where a gravel stone had come loose and this was the place we went when we had dried apricot pits to crack with a rock or hammer. Mrs. Atchley would chase me away on solo nut cracking episodes because I made too much noise.

The Atchley back porch was one of several places where we led sheep herder horses we found straying around in town during late summer in order to get on their backs. They were usually found grazing in the back yard vegetable gardens. There was one sway-backed horse that I loved to ride. The kids called him Bucky. After leading Bucky to a porch he would stand still while I got on his back. Then I made rodeo with him by holding onto his mane and sliding back about 6 inches over a tender spot which made him buck. He would usually quit bucking when I slid forward again, but one memorable and last time he didn't and I became airborne and landed hard.

I remember the Atchley living room with all the fine, stuffed furniture and in particular a print of a lone wolf in a cold-blue snow scene hanging on the wall. The most exciting thing at the Atchley's was their Christmas tree. It was usually a blue spruce completely covered with multi colored lights; tinsel, chenille and popcorn robes; ice sickles and family ornaments of every size and shape; and topped with a beautiful angel. In comparison, our tree, although dearly loved, always seemed scraggly and quite bare.

Across the street in what is now the park was a barracks-shaped building that had formerly been the LDS meeting hall. It was then being used to store all sorts of household items, wagons and stuff in boxes. It was always locked up. pigeons fluttered in and out of a hole in the loft door. One of our neighbor ladies informed me she liked to eat pigeon squab after I told her that I knew where lots of pigeons were roosting. I was always climbing trees and sheds and soon found a way to climb up to access the shuttered door to the attic and open it by moving a board. I harvested squab and was rewarded with a nickel for each one. One time I fell through the plaster ceiling onto a buggy being stored below and had a difficult time piling furniture and boxes up sufficiently high to escape back through the hole. After the mysterious "break in" was announced around the town grapevine I gave up my secret pigeon raids.

I did continue in the bird business as there was a dime bounty on magpie heads. On week ends I would go to the creek, South of town behind Sant's store and service station, and scout for nests in the surrounding cottonwood trees. There was competition for magpie bounties and I remember that the Beckstead boys, Eugene and Donald, and my friend Marvin Dalley were active competitors. So I conducted my scouting with much stealth and secrecy. Once I found a nest site I would climb up the tree and dig my way, sometimes with bleeding, through the sharp and scratchy sticks until I could just reach the interior nest and feel for eggs or young chicks. This was hazardous work because often angry parents would dive bomb me striking me in the head with horrible shrieks. Afterwards, I watched the nest until the chicks fledged out with black heads and white feathers on their body. The bounty was only for adult birds showing black and white and chicks didn't count. After catching them and cutting their heads off I would take my trophies to the game warden for payment. In those days pop was a nickel and the matinee movie was nine cents so a few magpies went a long way.

Supplementing the magpie earnings, I looked forward to getting a haircut because I was known as a restless kid and the barber would give me a nickel to sit still while getting a two-bit haircut. We both benefited because it was worth five cents to the barber not to hear an angry review of hair butchery from my mother.

Our family watched with interest the building of the new LDS church just catty-corner, across the street from our house. We wondered what the big horns were for that were installed high up on the roof. We found out shortly after it was built when an onerous voice came out of them on a Saturday morning proclaiming to the town, "Aaaaaall right! This is Bishop Clarence Murdock. Everyone out! Bring your hoes. Today we are going to cultivate (some church or parishioners' field)." Being one of only a couple gentile families in Driggs, we usually covered our ears and went back to sleep.

The new lawn around the church promised me another opportunity for revenue. There was one secret patch where I could almost always find a four-leaf clover or two. Responding to an advertisement in a comic book I mailed in several clover leaves with 3 cent return postage expecting a 25-cent cash reward. I received no response and my mother and I were out the 3-cent stamps and an envelope.

Mr. Murdock was also a teacher at our grade school and the new church had a wonderful auditorium in it. So he marched us to the church auditorium from school. There we were inculcated with musical knowledge through the then high tech sound system as part of our cultural education experience. I still fondly reflect back to my first introduction of the sounds of different orchestral musical instruments from the recording and narration of "Peter and the Wolf." I also entered the recording world as I had memorized "The Night Before Christmas" poem and a bachelor neighbor on Ashley Street had a record player that recorded my squeaky rendition on a small, red record that my parents played proudly. He balked, however, when I returned, by myself, asking him to record another verse I had memorized.

In 1940, when newborn brother Lary Alvin came home from the Driggs hospital, dad opened up the upstairs and I was moved there to a huge room. I slept on a bed with an iron bed frame and when the dreadful lightening storms came I would curl up in the center careful not to touch the frame, especially after I stuck a bobby pin in the electric wall socket and found out what hurt electricity could cause. I also remember being terrified by a ball of Saint Elmo's fire racing around the chimney pipe of the stove in our living room. After one storm my mother told me that a retired couple had been struck by lightning and killed while they were sitting on their front porch holding hands. They were watching the storm from their house on the highway leading to Tetonia

The weather continued to hallmark my young life in Driggs. I remember rain storms so fierce that the wind broke major limbs off the trees with large cracking sounds outside my bedroom window. Afterwards there were tadpoles and minnows flopping on the yard, evidently from rain clouds stocked with aquatic life by mini-tornados or water spouts. After that I never wondered how the lakes high in the mountains were planted with fish or frogs..

Winter was challenging with snow on the ground up to my waist most of the time. We would carve out tunnels on the lawn after the snow crusted over and extended them to the huge piles the snow plows left beside our street. There we built forts with steps to lob snow balls at enemy neighbor children, usually Boyd and Terry Fullmer. We took candles in the tunnels for warmth and soon the walls would melt and freeze solidly. When spring came the tunnels were the last to melt making the lawn look as if huge moles had been burrowing across it.

My father, although not a veterinarian, was the nearest thing they had in the county when stock became ill or injured. On one of his veterinary trips in winter he was coming home through the Teton Pass, driving in the deep cuts left after the snow plows had cleared the road. An Elk, spooked by the headlights, jumped off the snow bank crashing, feet first, through the front window of the car. Father was flailed by its kicking hoofs and managed to escape into the back seat before the animal extricated its bloody self and move on. Dad was a mess with lacerations to his face and torso. In freezing cold, with no window he drove home and mom ministered to his wounds. With no hot water bottle, as will be explained later, dad had to get in the bathtub to warm up and recover his ability to move..

I am always reminded of winter school in Driggs when I now hear of canceled classes because of scant ice or snow.. When I was in the second grade only one day of school was canceled. The morning temperature was minus 20 degrees and we got the message that there would be no school because the school's boiler pipes had frozen up and there was no heat. Even during white out blizzards we walked to school. We waited for two high school boys, usually one was Hugh Atchley or Doyle Minor, to come by with a large rope tied between them. We would grab the rope with hand-knitted mittens and follow them, slogging through the blinding snow, to the grade school where they dropped us off and continued on to the high school.

We always looked forward to the winter races held in Driggs. Teams often came from other states and Canada. For two days there were snorting horses in tandem pulling sleighs and multi-dog teams pulling sleds. Claude Dalley was my dad's hunting partner and an older son of his took my dad and me in one of the horse sleighs for a thrilling practice run on the race course around the countryside. I remember the cold wind in my face, horse noises and the sound the runners made in the crunchy snow.

Especially of interest to local kids were the races down Main Street with single dog drawn sleds. The youth races were grouped by age and anxious parents would stage the children and dogs at the starting line until a shot was fired to start. Invariably, as soon as the shot went off the dogs would start fighting each other and the real contest was to see which team was first separated and on their way. My father was able to get our English setter out of the foray. With me crying "Mush Diane," and freezing tears in my eyes I won the 6-7-year old race. My prize was all the nickels my frozen hands could hold as filled by Mr. Hoffman, the drug store owner. I later redeemed some at the marble counter of his store treating my mother to an ice cream sundae while I had a fine malted milk noisily prepared by "Pinky," the friendly drugstore clerk with a facial tic. As usual he didn't let the mixer scrape the side of the metal container, even once.

The setter, Diane, was a major resource to my mother in winter. Not only would Diane entertain me but had other chores as well. Mother would hitch her up to a sled with an attached, canvas covered orange crate, write a shopping list and tell Diane, "Go to the store." Diane would pull the empty sleigh to Leigh Fullmer's Grocery Store on Main Street. Mr. Fullmer would fill the order and tell Diane, "Home Diane." Reliably, Diane would sled the groceries back home where mother was waiting for them. Sometimes I would accompany Diane and enjoy the ride to the store, When the box filled up I had to walk back home with her.

Winter was also a time where there wasn't much farming or ranching work, other than to work on equipment, feed the stock and milk. This made the bar downtown a popular place in which my dad and other folks frequently hung out to get out of the house and play cards. One night he and the town physician, Dr. Head, got into an argument and a fight resulted. The next day I had full blown tonsillitis, a high fever and the doctor with a bruised face was summoned to the hospital where he determined the tonsils must be removed, immediately. I was fitted with what looked like an oversized tea strainer over my mouth and nose and the doctor started pouring ether over it telling me to breath. In the midst of swirling around and around in a whirlpool of fumes I lashed out my fist and hit the doctor on his nose. I was told that it caused a nose bleed but by that time I was out. Looking back I marvel he competently performed the operation after consecutive assaults by two different generations of the same family.

Then there was Spring, the long awaited spring time that annoyingly came while school was still in session. Spring was the time of marbles. I had become competent in ring games and Jimmie Meikle and Boyd and Terry Fullmer were frequent competitors. However, the popular marble game was to play "pots" where we dug nine depressions arranged in a square in the ground. The center pot held the prize marbles with which we started the game. If, from a distance, you lagged your marble into a corner pot you could take out a marble, into a side pot you had to put one in, and if you were first to lag into the center pot you won all the marbles. Some kids, notably the ornery Beckstead kids, had an unfair advantage. They must of had a source of big steel ball bearings from machinery at home. These steelies didn't bounce and stayed in the pot. Furthermore, lagged steelies had the annoying consequence of chipping or fracturing our glass, agate and (if you could get away with them) dough baby marbles when they collided. I set out to make the game more equal and made friends with a mechanic down at the railroad station. From him I finally picked up two ball bearing steelies, one of which was large enough that, under the threat of a mutual demolition derby, I could finally negotiate a fair match using only glass marbles to lag.

When summer came I wanted a bicycle as several of my classmates were starting to ride. My father announced that he had located a used bike for me that Mr. Meikle of the bank had for sale. It was a small bike with a basket on which his son and my friend, Jimmie, had learned to ride but outgrown. I had hoped for a full sized one but any bike was good enough now that the snow was gone. The new mode of transportation extended the geographical range for my adventures and gave more efficiency to my continued quest for magpie bounties.

With a bike it was much easier to visit the Challenge Creamery just outside of town and cage a handful of tooth-squeaky curds from the dairymen. The creamery was close to a pasture west of the railroad tracks where a deep-cut creek ran. I would kick over semi-dried cow pies in the pasture and gather fishing worms into my Prince Albert pipe tobacco can. It just fitted into my pocket. On one of my first fishing trips I fell in the creek through a large muskrat hole on the overhanging bank and was seriously scared. I barely managed to get out over the steep sod bank by grabbing strongly-rooted weeds such as thistles. I dried my clothes as much as possible and returned home with ten very small trout which amazed my parents and amply fed us that evening.

I now had semi-rapid transportation to a large gravel pit that was quite a ways out of town. It had been used by the county to build roads but was now flooded with a shallow end and a high gravel embankment on the deep end. My parents had taken me there to wade in the shallow end and chase pollywogs in the moss patches. Now I could go out to the pond and explore the pit on my own. There were almost always other youngsters there and I enviously watched the bigger kids at the deep end swimming and jumping off of the high bank. I was determined to learn to swim and join them. There were several planks at the pit and us younger kids enjoyed floating on them and by paddling venture into deeper and deeper water, against my parents' wishes. I scrounged a beat up inner tube and patched it sufficiently, using the repair kit from Dad's car, to only lose air slowly. With it I could paddle to the deeper waters but found out they were cold and I didn't stay there very long. Finally, with my mother watching, I could jump off the bank at the deep end and dog paddle back to shore.

The railroad tracks fascinated me. I spent a lot of time walking the rails, clomping noisily down the ties with condensed milk cans crimped to the heels of my shoes. I would listen for trains with my ear to the rail imagining I was Jesse James plotting to rob them. I would pick up clumps of lost coal for the stove, and look for colorful caterpillars that crawled around the warm ties to take home. My friends and I would lay pennies on the rails and wait for the train to squeeze them flat and later be shown proudly. I also traded them for prize marbles. A uniformly squished penny was hard to come by and squishing didn't work well with the new steel ones. The Indian head pennies were the best for trading. I also hung around the depot watching the telegraph operator through the window with a slot underneath it. During the war we would wonder to each other what secret message had just come over the clicking telegraph key, an enemy balloon floating in or an air raid?

Steam engines on trains were the rule in those days and the necessary water tank tower was a constant invitation for us to inspect, even though I had been warned I would be subject to the parental belt if I climbed up on it. We would relate to each other a commonly told tale about someone who fell in it and drowned after not being able climb out because of the slippery inner sides. A frequent subject for my bad dreams. Only once did I venture up the outside metal rungs and fearfully peeped under the trap door to see the dark, deep waters inside. I did, however, see ladder rungs in there lessening my worry and putting aside the drowning story. When I was a third grader my father responded to my frequent pleas for a train ride. He arranged for me to be accompanied by the brakeman and ride in the caboose of a freight train to Tetonia where the station agent later put me on a return train back to Driggs. What bliss!

Driggs school house
Driggs School House

I do not remember all the names of my grade school teachers but I know I was significant to them because I spent a lot of time in school standing tip-toed with my nose in a ring drawn on the black board. The teacher could also count on my misdemeanors to have me stay after school and clean the blackboard trays. My penance sometimes included cleaning the erasers by banging them together outside, or running them through the hand-cranked brush-wheel cleaner that looked like a stone, grinder wheel with fenders. When I got home the chalk on my clothes was a dead give away to my mother that I had misbehaved and needed an attitude correction. I finally figured out that the chalk was an unspoken form of teacher-parent communication and thereafter shook and brushed out my clothes more thoroughly.

We very were well schooled in the three R's. I was five when I entered the first grade and to the good sense of the Teton school system learned words using phonetics. Since then I found out I am somewhat dyslexic and would have lagged far behind with any other method. My failing, however, was in penmanship. We had desks with bottles of ink in inkwells and wrote using our straight pens. During practice time I would get bored with big loops and little loops and often draw running outlines of the Teton Mountain peaks I could glimpse from my desk. The ink bottle also sponsored an angry communication to my parents when I dipped the tips of a classmate's pig tails in it. I think her name was Sue. A forced apology to the girl and her mother, who had to cut off some of her hair and try to clean a ruined dress, together with a significant disciplinary encounter quashed any temptation for a repeat offense.

Recess was the most significant period of time to me in school. In the play yard outside were two pieces of equipment that were well used, the merry-go-round and the giant strides. The merry-go-round gave me my first physics lesson on centrifugal force. Kids would push it so fast that it was all you could do to hang on to the bars and if you slipped your grip you would be flung out on to the ground usually resulting in torn pants and scrapes to the hands and knees. The giant strides had chains hanging from a revolving disk at the top of a ten-foot pole. On the end of the chains were iron bar grips from which the bigger kids hung while taking big leaps as the unit spun with two riders in tandem. Being too small, I would get another boy to lift me up to reach the bar-handle and thus be at the mercy of anyone who set the device in motion on the other handle. I would grip tightly with white knuckles until it safely slowed down, usually after much pleading. After slowing down I could release and only tumble a couple of times. I saw older kids get serious cuts and lumps on their heads from the free-swinging handles, and in one case a broken tooth. As usual, any injury was the fault of the kids because we all knew of the danger. The school was not blamed. This is a far cry from nowdays where the fault always lies outside of the recklessness of the kids or lack of parental guidance; and laid on the table of public responsibility.

Recess and lunch time in early summer was also the time of the Indian potato. Using pocket knives or sharp sticks we would probe the perimeter of the school yard and nearby lots for these onion-tasting bulbs found buried in the ground beneath long slender leaves, sometimes having a white flower. Although not enough were ever found to constitute a snack, they did make our breath smell funny and abate hunger until we went home for supper.

World War II had a major impact on Driggs families, and on me. I remember the hubbub and alarm going though out our home and around town when Pearl Harbor was bombed, and when President Roosevelt declared war through the static of our RCA radio. Soon thereafter service flags began to appear in the windows and on doors of Driggs' homes. Proudly displayed were banners with a white field and a red border with a blue star for each family member in active duty, and, sadly, with a gold star with a blue edge for a member who died during service. At the front of the Teton County courthouse a memorial was placed and I would solemnly walk up to see if another name had been added to those who had fallen in giving ultimate service to our country. Some of the families of the fallen I knew but most I did not. The list seemed so long for such a small county.

My father joined the Civil Defense and as a County Agent, important to the war effort for food production, was allowed to buy a used 1940 olive drab Army Ford. He would be called by the Civil Defense at odd hours to spot and chase Japanese balloons carrying incendiary devices and booby traps. They were supposed to start forest fires and bring down the morale of the American people. To me it seemed they had the opposite response in Driggs by engendering patriotic resolve. Late one night my father came in the door after chasing a balloon and handed me a large piece of rice paper with Japanese script on it. It was part of a balloon. He told me not to tell anyone because the FBI wanted secrecy, but they located a balloon that had gone down and landed on a beaver lodge. The resulting fire was extinguished in the pond before they got to it.

During the war many Driggs residents left for military duty, or war time jobs. My father experienced a major loss when his teen age secretarial assistant, Yvonne Sant, responded to her patriotic urge and joined the Women's Army Corps. Yvonne also baby sat my family. In recent years I reconnected with Yvonne and her husband Harry Scott before they sold the old Sant family property, then a trailer park. More recently, Yvonne joined my family in Driggs to cast my father's ashes into the Teton River per his final request.

War time also directly affected the citizens of Teton County with scarcity and rationing. Those commodities needed by our troops and those that came from abroad such as spices, pepper, and rubber were either not available or rationed. Mom, to her later embarrassment, hoarded pepper sufficient to supply us five years after the war. You needed ration stamps to buy gasoline, tires, meat, sugar and other embargoed items. Ranch folks were often willing to trade their red, meat stamps for the green, gasoline ration stamps. Claude Dalley and my dad solved our meat problem with regular stocking of our freezer locker in the grocery store with Wyoming elk, deer, one rubber moose and a dreadfully tasting bear. The bear's hide warmly graced our cold living room floor until the dog chewed off its nose and ears making it unsightly to mother. Several times I went to school in the morning noticing a freshly swept drive in front of our garage. Peeking in the door I would see an elk carcass hanging in the cold awaiting butchering. The drive had been swept to cover up the tire track that a game warden might have been following.

Wartime was also a time where the will of the official community increasingly impacted personal lives. Everyone, with Civil Defense warden encouragement, responded to siren-announced black outs by pulling down shades and extinguishing exterior lights as they could be navigation aids and targets for enemy planes flying overhead. Folks also responded by growing more of their own vegetables in victory gardens an activity that increased agricultural queries at the County Agent's office. It seems everybody bought war bonds and stamps to fund the government's need for money, and responded to community drives for rubber and scrap needed for the war effort.

There was one practice in Driggs during my childhood that has since been abandoned. It was imposed quarantine. Quarantine signs were officially placed on the doors of homes by the county health department to isolate occupants with highly contagious diseases such as small pox. These signs also signaled neighbors to rally and provide the quarantined family with food and necessities until the threat of spreading the illness was over. Mom sent me to these homes with food and with an admonition to hand it off at the door and not to enter the house.

Good tires and tubes were virtually impossible to find during the war and the OK tire shop at the corner of Andrews street and the highway was very busy with their new process of retreading by vulcanization. Every automobile had an inner tube patching kit and a hand air pump. Wartime tires were so poor you could almost count on a flat tire during any trip over 50 miles. When we went to Rexburg to see our first Technicolor movie, "Bambi," I prayed we would get our usual flat on the way home so as not to be late or miss the movie. At the Driggs Orpheum movie theater I caused quite a stir when once I fell asleep and did not wake when the movie ended and continued sleeping when they closed the building. My alarmed parents rousted someone at midnight who let them in to find me slumped in a row near the front. Thereafter I had to attend night movies with a companion.

I supplemented my magpie hunting income during the war with scrap scrounging for metal, rubber tires and tubes found along the roads, railroad tracks and in vacant lots. Huge scrap drives cleaned the countryside of derelict cars, tractors, and machinery. I did my part and got extra pocket change for my bits and pieces. I also got into trouble for "donating" our only rubber hot water bottle to the war effort. My income flow was cut back when I was given a war stamp book and encouraged strongly to buy saving stamps at ten cents apiece. My parents often reminded me that my war stamps would help support my dad's cousin, Wesley "Frog" Whorton, from Hagerman who was an artillery sergeant in Europe. We were always eager to get second hand news about him from his liberty mail letters to home. He was wounded by a huge clump of mud in an artillery versus artillery duel with the Germans and came home with bags of military souvenirs at the end of the war. I particularly admired an officer's dagger with a swastika on the handle and he promised it to me. Somehow it was passed on when he died and is probably in the memorabilia of other part of the family.

From the enemy and friendly aircraft profiles issued by the Civil Defense I became familiar with military aircraft and soon the P-38 Lightning was my favorite. I always looked for them in the popular war news reels that preceded most movies at the theater. I got a model kit for a P-38 as a birthday present and built it out of balsa wood with an over abundance of glue. The kids would all try to identify planes flying high overhead but they were usually too far away to recognize, except for the one P-38 I loudly identified from its twin boom tail outline. An airplane-knowledgeable friend dashed cold water on my success when he said it might have been a new Northrop P-61 Black Widow also having twin tails.

Once an airplane circled round and round buzzing the town making every one nervous. It finally headed for the railroad station where it landed in a pasture. Like lemmings every kid in town ran in that direction and crowded around the pasture fence after being warned not to get too close. It was a Piper Cub I found out when I was finally allowed to approach and touch it. I was amazed that it was so small and covered with flimsy cloth; not like any airplane I had imagined while flying my pipedream missions against Messerschmitt fighters or Zeros.

In 1944, towards the end of the war, my sister, Susan Mable was born in the Driggs hospital. Then also my grandparents, Alvin Wesley and Ora Mae Cross moved from San Francisco to a small home on the north end of Main Street. My cousin, Shirley Cross , looking to me like a full sized Shirley Temple, visited us that summer from California and we soon had most of the teen age boys in Driggs hanging around the house.

Northeast of town Claude Dalley and my dad began growing seed potatoes, and my dad and Grandfather Cross planted carrots in another field for seed to satisfy the demand created by home victory gardens during the war. I soon learned how to cultivate with hoe, irrigate and dig holes for gopher cyanide bombs, all under father's or grandfather's supervision. One of my jobs was to climb up and remove the large can that kept rain out of the John Deer tractor's exhaust stack. My favorite thing was to not remove the can and watch it get blown way up in the air when the hand cranked engine first came to life with a belch. Usually the bottom of the can was blown out and crankily I was ordered to find a replacement before quitting time. With a sly suggestion from my grandfather, I discovered that if I stuck several lids inside the can the trajectory would be even higher and the can was good for more than one launch.

A streak hail storm came through the region and wiped out lots of crops all around dad's fields. The seed potato field was damaged just a little but the hail completely missed the carrot field with vulnerable seed heads just getting ready for threshing. Grandfather had been "underemployed" most of his life according to Grandmother. He had busted out of a rented farm in Gooding, moved to California as a streetcar conductor and gardener for the hospital where grandmother worked as a practical nurse. The carrot seeds were sold for a good price. When dad told grandfather how much they had netted, he asked grandfather how he wanted his share. His response, with tears of joy, was a request, "I have never held a hundred dollar bill in my hand. So please give me just one hundred dollar bill and put the rest in the bank."

In 1945, while I was in the middle of the fourth grade year, my father received news that he would be transferred from Teton County to Jerome County. Our family moved to Jerome with the help of an old family friend, Leo Handy and his trucks in Heyburn, and Uncle Norman Hintze, who was already living in Jerome and working as an Idaho Power lineman. It was in the middle of winter and to keep them away from my little brother I had previously buried in a corner of the garden a large MJB coffee can filled with all of my marbles. The ground was now covered with a foot of snow and frozen solid. I tried but could not find them and sorrowfully had to leave them behind. Being there were lots of agates and fancy marbles in the lot, I now wonder when I next visit Driggs whether I could use a metal detector to find the steelies and recover my lost treasure after some sixty five years.



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