A Memorial for Edna Agnes (Wilson) Thorleifson

Memoirs

MOVING TO WASHINGTON STATE
1932

In getting ready for the move, Dad bought two Whippet cars and made a trailer for each car. Dad would drive the six cylinder Whippet and Mel would drive the four cylinder Whippet.

The two trailers were loaded with carefully thought out belongings. First, the two stoves, our pride and joy, the new kitchen Home Comfort range, then the enamel wood and coal heating stove, bedding, a few clothes and boxes and boxes of well packed home-canned food. The other important item was the money earned from the truck garden. We kids took turns riding with Dad in the Whippet six or with Mel in the Whippet four.

We left Kansas the last week in February in 1932. We celebrated Darus’ six year old birthday enroute. We went to Nebraska and visited Aunt Nellie (Mom’s and Aunt Jennie’s sister) for a few days and then continued on to Washington state. Since it was late February and early March, there was still ice and snow on many of the roads as we came through the Rocky Mountains. We saw for the first time many evergreen trees that grew there. I remember Darus exclaiming that now he knew where Santa Claus got all the Christmas trees.

We arrived in Ellensburg in March, 1932. Dad got a job in Thorp working for a farmer named Luther Harrel. Dad wanted to learn all about irrigation farming so that he would be prepared for the Homestead land. Luther Harrel grew diversified crops, had a dairy, and raised purebred Belgian horses. Luther Harrel also had houses for his workers to live in. We had a big two story house and a great big yard. We also got milk and had a garden space.

Since this was a big house, Dad and Mom decided to invite Grandma Wilson to come visit us. None of us kidss had ever seen her. She came by train from California. She had a room all by herself and spent the summer with us. So we had that time to get to know her. Now I realize that I did not ask her any questions that I would like to know the answers to now such as what my Dad was like when he was a boy, why my Dad’s middle name was Hatton, what she did, who her parents and grandparents were and many other questions. I do remember taking walks with her and sometimes listening to the radio together.

At this place in Thorp, we learned about many of Washington’s produce. A peach farmer came by and I remember Mom bought eight boxes of peaches at twenty-five cents a box. We thought they were very delicious. The fish truck came by once a week and we always tried a different kind of fish. I liked the halibut cheeks and the salmon roasts or steaks.

We lived at this place for one year. Then Dad leased a dairy farm on the Mills place which was a few miles away. We still went to the Thorp schools. Mr. Mills furnished all the cows and equipment, but Dad was to do all the work. There were about 20 to 25 cows to milk. That was quite a few in those days, as they had to be milked by hand. That is where I learned to milk cows and Dad, and us kids did it every morning and evening. There was a big cooler where the milk was stored until it was picked up regularly and taken to the dairy in town for further processing.

During 1933, we went on our free time which was week ends to visit the various parcels of sagebrush land to be homesteaded. Dad needed to choose a first, second, and third choice. After he had decided and it was time, he submitted his application and mailed it. While we waited for the reply, he started making plans about living on this new land. The land had to be cleared of the sagebrush, we needed a place to live, it would need cultivating, fencing, a barn built, where would we get drinking water while waiting for a well?

We waited and waited for the reply to see if he got some land and if so, which parcel. This was more exciting than waiting for Christmas. We kept waiting--and on July 1l, 1933 that important letter came. Yes, he got a homestead The 120 acres that he got was situated so that there was a terrific view. We could see the town of Kittitas and the town of Ellensburg, and all the valley with snow capped Mount Rainier in the background.