Friday, March 23, 2007

Dad Remarries and We Move to Washington – about ages 5-7

(an excerpt from Raymond E. Bennight’s personal history, 1912-2000)

(Missouri) One of dad’s miners had a pretty and talented daughter. She had finished high school and graduated from “Normal School,” a school for training school teachers, and was teaching school – all eight grades in a country school, and all of this by the time she was 18 years old. Well, she and dad were married on the 25th day of November, 1917. She became my mother and brought much to our home. (Her maiden name was Anne Elizabeth Aitken – Scotch ancestry.) Though she was only 12 years older than I, it seemed okay to Ogden and I. Denver and Flo, being older, went to live with an aunt for a while, but we did see them lots of times during the following years.

Since the mine was all worked out by this time, dad decided we should move back to Washington. We started out in the spring of 1919. We traveled in a red “Baby Overland,” a touring car.

It was a tremendous trip right from the start. Because of floodwaters, the road bridge approaches were flooded, so dad drove the car across the railroad bridge while we all walked across. We were afraid a train would come or that we might fall off, or the car might bounce off. It took months to get to Washington as the “main” roads were all dirt and gravel or two rows of ruts. I remember when we had 13 flat or blown-out tires all in one day. Dad was fit to be tied. The mountain roads were frightening. I remember how “mad” dad would get because mom was so afraid sometimes she would get out and walk around some of the bad places. Although it was a long and tiring trip for the adults, it was a great adventure and fun for us boys. Imagine going camping every day for months. I remember dad had a big Colt ’45 revolver he carried in a holster on the car door and he shot some animals for food. We saw lots of animals in those days of few people – deer, buffalo, elk, mountain goats, badger, prairie dogs, coyotes and rattlesnakes. And in Yellowstone, lots of bears.

My brother, Denver, and sister, Flo, were with us in Yellowstone and one night we were sleeping and there was a rattling noise. Flo yelled, “Wake up, Dad – there’s a bear in the beans,” but it was only dad getting some carbide from the car to put in his “Miner’s Lamp” so he could scare the bears away with the bright light. Carbide looks like little rocks and when put in the lower part of a carbide light and water is allowed to drip from the upper compartment through a metering valve onto the carbide, it produces acetylene gas, which shoots through a jet and when lighted makes a very good light.

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