This is Pat Morse's second interview on her memories about growing up in the Cuyahoga Valley.
Morse, Pat (interviewee)
Conklin, Carolyn (interviewer)
Cuyahoga Valley Project
"Pat Morse Interview, 29 June 2011" (2011). Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection. Interview 518097.
Transcription sponsored by Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Pat Morse [00:00:03] Yes, I got your person... The person in charge, I told her a number of things, and after I left the last time I thought, oh, I didn't even mention the threshing and what a big deal that was.
Carolyn Conklin [00:00:20] Alright. My name is Carolyn Conklin. I'm from Cleveland State University. Today is Wednesday, June 29th, 2011. And I'm interviewing Pat Morris. And this is her second interview, so.
Pat Morse [00:00:33] Right. Right.
Carolyn Conklin [00:00:35] We're going to go ahead and start with what you brought with you to talk about.
Pat Morse [00:00:40] Alright. The main thing which I neglected to go into in any depth at all was the threshing of the wheat that occurred each summer, or fall I guess it would be. As a kid I wasn't too interested in what time of the year it was other than that it was nice out in summer. And we had, I think they might, I think that might have been Hale Run Creek that went right to the corner of our property. And they would always stop with this huge steam engine with the threshing machine to fill up with water. And then they'd go next door to where and they were doing the threshing. And I think the thing that the kids liked as much as anything was the meal at noon. Farmers came from all around the Valley and up toward Bath and wherever, and they would trade off, every time threshing needed to be done, they would help each other. So they had a huge array of men around who had worked all morning and the neighbors cooked for them. And I think it was mostly the mother of the 12 in that family who did the cooking. Obviously she was used to cooking in mass anyway. [laughts] And we always got a little bit of food somehow along the way. But it was interesting in that then you would have the straw and a big stack and we could play in that. And they opened up the big barn doors to... Gosh, I'm not sure. Maybe they brought the wheat in there right away or something, But the doors took up... There were two big doors that took up almost half of that one section of the barn and there were kind of like two by fours across the bottom of the doors. So we would put one foot in that two by four, hold onto the side of the door and push until it rammed against the barn and then we'd push back and take turns doing that. So that was part of the fun in our minds at that time in my life. And let me see. I think that's about all. Unless you have a question about the procedure.
Carolyn Conklin [00:03:27] Yeah, if you can explain how you actually thresh hay.
Pat Morse [00:03:30] Oh, okay, it's like I say, I was just a kid, but basically it's the... It's not hay, it's the wheat. And you separate the wheat grains from the stems and whatever. But what ends up is straw. And that is good for bedding because you don't have any of those seed sort of things. And I don't know, I never recall seeing leaves in the straw, but I'm not sure how that worked or what. There weren't any there, and as far as the steam engine goes, it had great big wide belts and it was really large. Of course, to me it wouldn't seem as large now, but it was really a big engine. And you would... Well, like you would with steam trains, you would have all the steam, and it looked like smoke, whatever it was. And it was very noisy and we just thought it was pretty cool. [laughs]
Carolyn Conklin [00:04:43] Who owned the steam engine?
Pat Morse [00:04:45] There was one man in the Valley. The Cranz family had a number of sons, and one of the sons owned the steam engine. And in fact, he was also a well driller and, in fact, he drilled the well where I lived back in the '40s for my brother, and he kept that for a long time, I know as I got older, I heard about how they had, oh, what would you call them? Get togethers of some sort where they... Probably the county fair where they showed their steam engines. And there'd be a collection of them probably in Medina because that was big farm country.
Carolyn Conklin [00:05:41] So did he rent out the engine or was he paid to come?
Pat Morse [00:05:45] He was... I don't know if he was paid. A lot of things were done in exchange. I'm sure he got a meal out of it anyway [laughs] and probably more than that. But it went on all summer. Well, as soon as the wheat got ripe, that would have been toward fall more, so I definitely knew there was trading off of helping each other with getting the threshing done.
Carolyn Conklin [00:06:22] And so that was on your farm?
Pat Morse [00:06:24] It was next door to us. We never really had a farm. We only had an acre of land, which was between, well, being across from the Hale Farm, the manager of the Hale Farm lived next door. And that's the family that had the twelve children. And that's where the barn was, so that's where they did the threshing.
Carolyn Conklin [00:06:51] Was it the Wilsons?
Pat Morse [00:06:53] Wilsons. Yes. You have a good memory there. [laughs]
Carolyn Conklin [00:06:59] Well, we interviewed Ott Wilson.
Pat Morse [00:07:01] Oh, excuse me. Did you? He probably was able to give you more information on the actual farming maybe. His dad being in charge. And I think I discussed that he had the big milk truck and went all over the Valley.
Carolyn Conklin [00:07:21] One of the things that Arrye wanted to get some more information on was the kind of history of the Beaver Marsh area.
Pat Morse [00:07:29] Mmm, you know, I am just really out of it on that, other than the fact that I recall my uncle had a dairy farm and he raised all the food for the cows. So he had corn and he had hay and he had whatever was needed. And my impression was that a lot of that area that was his that he used extended to the Beaver Marsh area. But I really can't... again, I was just... What I saw... I didn't ask a lot of questions about that sort of thing. I know he had a very big silo, which was most interesting, a very high round silo that they filled with whatever. And I am quite sure he never did any threshing [of] any wheat. His was mostly corn that he fed the cows. And they had chickens. I think everybody had chickens. Oh, I know. That was one other thing I didn't mention with the chickens. Now the ideal thing is to have free-range chickens. Well, the Wilsons' chickens were strictly free range [laughs] and our biggest sport with the chickens was to find the eggs. They laid them all over and we'd crawl under the barn and all over the place [laughs] looking for eggs and then we'd have an egg because, well, the boys were always throwing it at the girls. [laughs] So we thought was great sport. One time, which was, as I look back with absolute stupidity, but as kids that were quite a few of us and we decided we wanted this one tree. It was small enough that we could climb. But it was good-sized. I should say the limbs were low so we could climb the tree. Well, the chickens roosted in that tree. So our job was to clean up after the chickens [laughs] and nobody else did, so we wanted them for our tree. So we cleaned up. Kids today wouldn't even give that a second look! They'd run the other way! [laughs] So that was the chickens. But of course, any eggs we found could never be eaten. And I can't remember if they had... Maybe they closed them in somewhere at night and probably during the day they did whatever they wanted, the chickens, that is.
Carolyn Conklin [00:10:35] One of the other sections in our project is trying to capture what was different about raising a family on a farm versus anywhere else. Do you have any stories or anything about your mother maybe that you can share?
Pat Morse [00:10:48] Oh, let me see. As far as stories go, I know, of course, that you might say the kids were pretty much free range too. [laughs] We went wherever we wanted to. We'd kind of go out in the morning and we'd just pretend like we were explorers or whatever and go in the woods. And I might have told those before, I'm not sure. But Mr. Hale would let us go and do whatever we wanted. We were never destructive of anything. But if we went up in the woods to the land that was called the Pinnacle, that was way high up. In fact, if you'd go up Ira Road and Ira Hill and you would get to the right spot, you could get to the Pinnacle from up there, which would be easier. But we never did that. We went through the woods. It actually was nicer climbing through the trees in the woods than walking up the hill. So we would go that way, and there were fruit trees up there. That was part of Mr. Hale's orchard, except for the apples, which he had right near the house, and there were wonderful black cherries up there. So we'd climb the trees and just eat as many as we wanted. And then I had a nightmare about being up there eating black cherries and there were robbers there. [laughs] I don't know what they even knew it was up there, but there were robbers there and they locked us up in a cabin, which wasn't there in reality. And then they would say, Do you want to die sitting up or lying down? I'd say, lying down... No, sitting up! [laughs] I woke up just scared out of my wits. [laughs] And that was part of a free-ranging childhood, I think. And of course, the creek and my uncle, who had the dairy farm, had a large pond and people would ice skate—kids and adults—on that. And in the summer, there were a lot of snakes... Not snakes, I'm sure they were around. We weren't interested in them. What we wanted was the frogs and we'd go frog hunting. It sounds gross, but knock 'em against a tree, [laughs] and my mother would cook the frog legs for us. And to this day I really like frog legs. [laughs] They're so good. So that was kind of a game in a sense. And we always got crabs. And the idea that, I don't know the actually the difference between crayfish and crabs, but they were not edible crabs. We would just kind of play with them. And if you'd get behind their pinchers and then they couldn't pinch [laughs] so that was... We had to be fast to grab frogs and crabs and so forth. And games... Oh my, I might have mentioned this too. I'm not sure. We played was called Andy-Andy Over, and the barn had an extension that came out so, which was more narrow than the barn, so we would get the boys and girls on the other side and you throw the ball over and you'd say, Andy-Andy Over! And then after they, after you caught it, you know I don't recall how many times, maybe five or six times, that you caught the ball. If you caught it, that was one point. If it bounced, maybe it was just maybe it was two and one point, and after you got so many you could run around to the other side and tag one of the kids and then they had to be on your side. So you weren't a winner until you'd gotten all of 'em on your side. You caught the ball and all, and you had to be honest. And we were never sure about the boys [laughs], but it was fun. And we'd play till dark, and we always played baseball. Let's see. As far as my mother goes, I probably told you this one about the straw in the barn and our idea of building a bonfire? [laughs] Okay! I knew you'd remember that one. Everybody does. [laughs] I was, my mom was in the kitchen, which looked in that direction, or it would have been a real disaster. We were very careful, though, and it was so interesting. We thought, now we know you don't build a fire in hay now. And so we had this trail of hay right up to the bonfire and against the barn door. That was real easy. I think we needed a little more science in our lives at that time. [laughs] Okay. Games, games. We'd always have kind of structured games at birthday parties for all the kids, like with musical chairs and... Oh, one of the neighbors who... Her family... I think her family came from people who rented at the Hale Farm, over the summer, cottages or some of them would come and would be hired by Mr. Hale to help with Pauline in the kitchen. And after her husband finally got a job with the Depression being kind of over, they, I guess they bought, oh, it had to be from Mr. Hale, the little acreage up behind the Hale house. Built their home and they would come out in the summertime. Well, she had this cool game, which I used after I started teaching school, called Mum Social. And you'd sit around and you don't, you can't talk to each other [laughs], and that was kind of a tricky game, but we fell for it and the one that could be quiet... And you weren't allowed to laugh and if you laughed then that was against you [laughs] for you had to have more points to be the winner. [laughs] But that was one of her clever games of... Oh, and we always played... Oh, what did they call it? Somebody, somebody come over. You'd have a line. I know I've seen kids at school playing that in more recent times, but a line... Again, usually it was boys against girls. You didn't choose teams then. [laughs] So we would play that. And a lot... As far as seeing Andy-Andy Over, you'd play with bouncing the ball against the barn and catching it or letting it, or straight on, over the top [inaudible] [laughs] Let's see...
Carolyn Conklin [00:18:53] So is there something special about being raised on a farm versus somewhere else?
Pat Morse [00:18:59] Well, I think possibly as far as being special, as an adult, you were on your own to create whatever was fun. And you had to figure out a lot of things because there weren't always adults around and it was safe being out except for the cows and the chickens and the roosters, more the rooster [laughs], the chickens were no problem. I remember a couple of kids were there with their families when my brothers were working in Akron, and they were afraid of the cows and we thought they were the biggest sissies in the world [laughts] because the cows would never hurt you. Well, we did have an occasional bull around, but we knew to stay away from them. We also collected pollywogs and minnows. I guess it was just making do with whatever was around. And I think that that's probably the main thing. I remember my brothers, in raising our gardens each year they would, they would always devise some kind of a something. They finally got a garden tractor rather than a big one. They had both a big tractor for only half an acre garden, but that was their goal to save the handwork and so forth. So they were always coming up with the easier ways to do things. So that could be part of an inventive mindset. And knowing you had to do that and... And you, you walked a lot. Of course, there was never... Well, even until I was in high school there was never any car at home. The one car had to be out getting things ready for farming or being, hopping somewhere else. My brother and his wife took the vegetables door to door for one short period. So, uh... And we had to solve our problems ourselves. We didn't kill each other. [laughs]
Carolyn Conklin [00:21:47] Do you know anything else about it, besides the Wilsons, were there other families you knew?
Pat Morse [00:21:52] Well, the family that built their house behind the Hale farm had three daughters and a son. And I think that probably was part of the difference, not just that family, but the fact that there were big families, basically. And the Cranzes lived at the top of Ira Hill, and that was pretty far away so we didn't play as much with them as we did with the Wilsons and the Sandels behind Hale Farm. I don't think there are any Sandels around it anymore. I know the kids moved to Cal... I mean, the parents with the children, as they were probably high school age, moved to California. So I saw one of them through the years. But and then there was a big family that lived on the Eugene Cranz farm, got in there after the original owners were not living and they took care of the Eugene Cranz and his boys that were grown and still at home. And I think that probably is part of the difference. People just did what needed to be done.
Carolyn Conklin [00:23:24] So did people, say living in Peninsula or Boston or some of the other villages or towns, did they come to farmers to buy things?
Pat Morse [00:23:34] No, no. This farmers market that they have in various places was more of what was done then. They had a large, large market in Akron that I would say the majority of real farmers brought their things. And also where we were on Oak Hill Road, the Bender family lived over on Akron-Peninsula and they were part of our Valley community because I think part of it was the Valley Club. The women had their Valley Club meetings once a month and you were allowed to pick tomatoes after the season was over, like for 50 cents a bushel or whatever. So if you didn't have it in your garden, you just had to go, let's say, across the Valley, drive over and buy what you wanted. In fact, vendors had roadside stands where they were very well known and they raised everything themselves and people would come to them, but they didn't... And let's say with Mr. Hale's farm, people didn't come there to buy. Actually, when I was growing up, he was more involved with the dairy farms through the manager. And if you lived next door, you would trade off. If you had too many tomatoes and they had potatoes, you'd exchange that sort of thing. But it wasn't actually coming to purchase, at least that I recall.
Carolyn Conklin [00:25:46] So over time, how has the actual landscape with the trees and everything, how has that changed?
Pat Morse [00:25:54] Oh, yes, it's grown up, not only the trees, but the houses there have been but now on Oak Hill Road since the park moved in, you don't know that there were houses.
Carolyn Conklin [00:26:22] And what about... Back to the Beaver Marsh, so when when did that become the Beaver Marsh versus...
Pat Morse [00:26:29] Oh gosh. Well, it was after the park moved in, and I think the main emphasis was the trail and the bridge, which really is very nice. It draws a lot of people along the path, along the Towpath Trail. And we actually had a couple of beavers up in our creek. My house is at the edge of the hill, pretty high up, and the creek runs through the bottom of my land. And there... The woods went right up to the creek edge where the beavers have cut down the trees as they come up and the banks then are falling in and creeks coming more into the regular land and the main property. But as far as any date, golly, I think we'd already built our house over on Oak Hill when that really evolved. Let's see. That would have been maybe in the '70s or late '60s.
Carolyn Conklin [00:27:44] Did you... Was the property with your uncle and until then, or with your family?
Pat Morse [00:27:51] My uncle's property, I've probably mentioned earlier, was where my mother was born where the family grew up over there. And I've been talking too much here, and, Iet's see. There was a period of time before the national park kind of took over that Ohio State was going to turn the area into a park. I never recall really the magnitude of the plans. I don't know, at that point I really wasn't interested in that. They were going to do it and what could I do? Then when the national park came, that was another thing. But the national... I think Ohio State bought it from my uncle and then they either transferred to the park or the park bought it from Ohio State. And my aunt was no longer living, so my uncle was actually ready to sell. He was probably close to 90 or so, and I would say that there were quite a few older people. They seemed to live longer. Of course, now there is actually an increase in people living to 100 and so forth. In fact, at Chautauqua this week there were amazing people that were either 100 or close to 100. And even though they had rooms there, it was almost like camping out; you had to share your bathroom and things like that. But there were people enjoying it and very interesting.
Carolyn Conklin [00:30:08] You had mentioned in your first interview that your brothers were involved in the CCC?
Pat Morse [00:30:13] Yeah.
Carolyn Conklin [00:30:14] Is there anything else you can say about that? You talked very briefly, you just mentioned it in the first interview but...
Pat Morse [00:30:20] Okay. Well, I remember... Hmm. My middle brother went the farthest away. He was in Idaho and Utah working in the forests with whatever, whether it was cutting trees or paths, I never, never quite asked or found out what was going on. And I think he was there... It would have had to be in the '30s, I think, and I believe he probably came back as the Depression began to pick up since he was in Gary, Indiana, in the Chicago area in the steel mills. I don't remember how long, actually. And my... [laughs] My brother in the... My oldest brother was sent to Kentucky and worked on parks there, building stairs and paths and so forth. And I know that for a fact. I was only four years old, so that would have been around '35. And my mother said, well, my brother had gotten married, and I said, "Well, I liked him the way he was." [laughs] I was always teased about that when he brought his wife home. And then I was, well, my younger brother was ten years, ten years older, so let's see, he would have been close to 20 probably after he graduated, so that was probably... Well, that was getting close to the Depression being over totally enough that people had [inaudible] close to the war, the Second World War. So he was close by, and I just don't know how, which was three Cs. One of the neighbors who had been in the Valley when we were growing up was in charge of that camp, and I think it was Sand Run Road as it goes toward Market Street. Anything else specific in that vein?
Carolyn Conklin [00:33:23] No, just any details about the camp, specifically the one here...
Pat Morse [00:33:28] Mm-hmm.
Carolyn Conklin [00:33:31] That you remember.
Pat Morse [00:33:31] Well, there was quite a large write up about it in the Beacon Journal, I think probably close to home when they were closing it down, and it was good-sized. And, of course, the men all ate there, so it hadn't... And I never saw the inside of it. I do remember it was quite close to Sand Run Road, which I thought was a little strange. It might have been around Fairmont there as it enters Sand Run Road. It was fairly close to what would be 18 West Market as it was closer to Akron. But that's all I actually remember. And I think my brother stayed overnight there. I don't think he came home, and he might have been home on the weekend. But I was a little more... I was interested in different things than my brother was at that time.
Carolyn Conklin [00:34:39] Is there anything else that you remember or want to share?
Pat Morse [00:34:43] I really can't think of anything in particular.
Carolyn Conklin [00:34:49] Okay! Well, we've got we've got two hours worth of material.
Pat Morse [00:34:52] Yeah! [laughs] Whatever it's worth. There it is! [laughs]
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