On a hot August day in 1874 great swarms of grasshoppers appeared like a black storm cloud. They dropped to the ground like a heavy blanket and everything that was growing disappeared, gardens were completely eaten. Only potatoes in the ground and the wheat which had been harvested were saved. My grandmother, in Reno County, Kansas put a linen tablecloth over their open bucket well to keep them out of the well and they ate it to the last thread.
I was born in 1888 and when the beginning of the Twentieth century rolled around I was old enough to remember how things were in those days. One who looks back, living in those days was very simple as compared with today. The homes were small. I lived in a three-room house until I was eight years of age; a living room, bedroom and kitchen. There was a cast iron cook stove and heating stove. There was the washboiler, a tub and the corrigated wash board and the irons were heated on the stove. Wood, corncobs, and by necessity coal (if money was available) were used for fuel winter and summer. There was no stainless steel or aluminum so most of the cooking utensils were made of cast iron. There was not much money; not much need as there was not much to buy-clothing, shoes and staple groceries. There were no tin cans so fruit and vegetables were not for sale in the stores. Most of the food had to be produced on the farms.
The first car I ever saw happened one day when I was working in the field about a half mile from our house. My parents were in, the house so I ran to the house, got them into the yard so we could watch the car drive by-it wasn't going very fast!!
At the turn of the century there were still a few oxen being used on the farm, but the horse was rapidly taking their place as a draft animal. In 1910 at St. Joseph, Missouri, I saw a circus wagon mired in the mud that six draft horses could not pull out. The horses were unhitched and four oxen were put in their places and pulled the wagon out. The horses plunged and floundered in the mud and would not pull together. The oxen put their weight against their yokes all pulling together. Due to their cloven hoofs, they did not flounder in the mud.
I have always had a deep respect and love for the horse. When I was a boy my Papa bought me a pinto pony which he purchased from the Indians. It was a very spirited pony and the best horse I every owned. I loved that horse.
In the early development of the plane, the Wright Brothers traveled to the large cities and made exhibition flights. In the summer of 1906 when they came to Wichita, Kansas, my father hitched a team of horses to the family carriage and took the family a distance of eight miles to see the flight. It was a windy afternoon and the flight was postponed until the next day. We returned home and then went back the next day and we saw for the first time man fly in the air.
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