When my brother Frank and I were growing up we lived in or near the small village of Greer, Idaho several different times. Our grandparents Charlie and Elsie Stockard, our fathers parents, had a ranch on the bench land between Greer and Fraser and raised stock and garden produce. They also sold cream, butter and eggs. Our parents Frank and Edith Stockard lived with uncle Albert, at the near by ranch he owned, 1/2 mile away. Albert was our grandfathers brother. I was born on December 12, 1937 while we lived with uncle Albert.

[Photo Left: My Father Frank Stockard & Brother Kenneth]

Our father died in a hunting accident in October 1939 on the Stockard ranch. A few months later my brother Frank was born. ( March 28,1940.) We continued to live on the Stockard ranches most of the time until Frank learned to walk, and then we moved to Orofino. Grandma’s daughter Beulah (Reed) and her husband Everett Walker and son Howard lived at Greer and we visited them often. The Walkers lived in a house across from the old store for a time and later moved to the Stenzle house that later was remodeled into a nursing home.

[Photo Right: Edith & Frank Stockard [my parents] at the Walker home in Greer 1938]

When Howard, Frank and I were still quite young we would go with aunt Beulah to herd the cows home for the evening milking. During the day the cows would roam the steep hill side above Greer where the summer feed was abundant. We would stop every few feet and pick wild flowers.


[Photo Left: Kenneth Stockard working field at Charles & Elsie Stockard Ranch]

The first sunny spring days would bring out the bright yellow buttercups, the first person finding one would report it to the "Orofino Tribune" and the readers would know spring was on it’s way. It was almost a contest, people driving the grade or people taking walks would start watching for the first buttercup as soon as the snow melted. Next to bloom would be the blue bells, yellow bells and lamb tongues. A short time later the sun flowers and Indian paint brushes would show their bright heads. The sunflowers didn’t smell very nice but Aunt Beulah and grandma Stockard were always proud to put them in a pretty vase and sit them on the table. I also remember Howard and I would pick tiny ferns from the rocks near the house in Greer.




[Photo Right: Greer School]

I have wonderful memories of the Greer school. I was very impressed with the wood sidewalk that was high off the ground that we walked across to get to the school house. December meant the Christmas play where we girls dressed in frilly ruffled cheesecloth dresses and flitted around the stage pretending we were fairies. I remember attending parties at the Greer school long before I went to school. My mom told me about attending a Christmas dance at the Greer School in December 1937. I was just 12 days old.

[Photo Left: Frank and brother Ken Stockard and myself in foreground]

My mom loved to dance and my father Frank Stockard and his brother Kenneth played for the dances. Back in those days of the depression many young people didn't have the money to own a car but usually someone in the crowd had a car and they would pool their money for gas. If there were no cars available they would walk to the dances. Sometimes it would be several miles.

On May Day we made May baskets and filled them with wild lowers and delivered them in secret to our friends. At school we had a May pole and danced around it hanging onto the long colored streamers. That was always a dress up day at school.

My three favorite activities at school were the giant strides, the merry-go-round and the swings and all three made me ill but that didn’t matter I’d get right back on. My first year at Greer was in the second grade. I lived with my grandparents on the hill between Greer and Fraser.

[Photo Right: Cousins, Louise Stockard, Rex & Jack Grove and Howard Walker at the C.R. Stockard Ranch.]

I and my cousins Rex and Jack Grove (they lived in our grand-uncle Albert Stockards house a half mile from our grandparents ranch). Albert worked in the ship yards at Vancouver that year. We walked a mile over the hill to the Greer School. As the weather got colder I would stay with my aunt and uncle, Everett and Beulah Walker in Greer. I remember she put my hair up in rags each evening so I would have long curls. My cousin Howard and I loved going to the store where we would buy crackerjacks and bags of orange sliced candy. The crackerjacks tasted good but the prize inside the box was the important thing.

The next school year my brother Frank was in the first grade and we lived with our parents in Moscow, ldaho. A few weeks after school started we moved to Greer. After a short time our step father and mother moved away to go to a new job and we went back to live with the grandparents. We walked over the hill to the school. The first quarter of mile we would run like the wind. When we reached the rocks and cliffs we would sit down and slide on the moss covered rocks.

[Photo Left: Winter at the Stockard Ranch]

As fall turned from warm weather into winter the trip over the hill wasn’t so nice. Goat weed grew all over the hills and if it rained or snowed the flower tops were cold and wet. By the time we reached the school we were very cold and the teacher would have us stand near the big wood stove and dry out. We weren't the only kids that walked to school. Some mornings the big stove would be surrounded with wet children. Later in the school year we started walking the mile to the highway and rode the Gaffney Stage to and from school. Either way we went to school, our grandfather, Charlie, would meet us most evenings. Even though we walked mostly the same route each night we imagined every bush and stump was a bear so we were very happy to see the flashlight in the distance.

By the time I was in the 4th grade and Frank in the 2nd our mother and step-father had moved to Greer. We lived in a house next to the Truckositz family.

[Photo Right: Frank Stockard]

My bedroom was on the back side of the house next to the hill. One pane of the window was broken and on the out side were two graves beneath the window. Every night I was afraid to go to sleep but I never told anyone until I was an adult. I was told by my grandparents that the graves were men that died in a smallpox epidemic in Greer during the building of the railroad. Next door to our house was a large house that had been owned by a Doctor at one time. I know nothing of this man but would like to get information on him or his family. During the time we lived there the house was torn down. Early in the school year we moved to Orofino. At the age of 18, I again stayed the last summer with my grandparents. I worked in Greer. I rode back and forth to Greer with my uncle Ken, who by that time lived with his family on the Albert Stockard ranch. Before I was married in I 959 I made one last visit to the ranch and visited my grandparents for two weeks. The next year they moved to Lewiston.

Even when we lived with our mother, as the end of school approached we started planning our summer. The day school was out we would go to the stage depot and ride the bus to the grandparents ranch where we would stay the summer. What a wonderful place to be! Every day was a happy one. We awoke each morning to the smell of strong coffee, frying bacon or sausage, hot cakes, eggs hot or cold cereal the table would be laden with jams, jelly, home made butter and several kinds of home canned fruit. Grandma cooked a special gravy from the sausage drippings. She just added fresh cream and we poured it on our pancakes or biscuits. We drank gallons of fresh milk.



[Photo Left: Louise, grandmother Elsie Stockard, daughter-in-law, Mary Reed and daughter]

If we wanted to visit relatives or our mother we would walk over the hill to Greer and catch the train (called the Galloping Goose) It was just a small car and operated on it’s own with out a locomotive. It traveled from Lewiston on up the Clearwater River and back each day. I have an early memory of another train that hauled logs and freight and had a passenger car. Standing at the Greer station we could hear the train coming in the distance, It seem like forever before we would see it in the distance. The big engine would put on it's brakes and the steam would surround us. The conductor would step from the train and set the stool on the train platform and help us onto the train. Riding from Greer to Kamiah we would travel through several tunnels. My brother, Frank hated the tunnels when he was young but as we grew older we both looked forward to them. Traveling from Lewiston to Cottonwood we traveled over many high wooden trestles. I remember traveling from Kamiah to Greer one trip when the train had several Nezperce Indian passengers. They were very handsome people. The women dressed in ankle length dresses and beautiful shawls and wore little round hats. The men wore braids that hung in the front over their shoulders. As they spoke in their own language we were spellbound and not just a little afraid. Now that I look back I’m sure they knew how we felt and were seeing it as a good joke on us.



[Photo Right: Frank, Albert and Louise Stockard, Frank & Louise are the children of Frank & Edith Stockard. Albert is their grand-uncle]

Our grandfathers, brother, Albert Stockard lived on the ranch a half a mile away. He had never married. His house was as clean and neat as a pin. The bed was in the living room and always made. In the kitchen was a huge Majestic wood range, a few cupboards, a wooden table and chairs. He carried his water from an artesian spring. It was always icy cold, he served us hot black coffee with lots of added sugar and cream. He would step down into the spare room where he would return with candy bars and hard cheese. After lunch we would return to the living room where he would go to the old trunk, open it and sometimes bring out Alka-seltzer bottles filled with quarters he had saved for us. Later we would go out into the yard and he would show us the trees and flowers our father had planted. Uncle Albert raised a garden and was always proud of his straight rows. He stored his food in an underground cellar. The roof was steep and ground level. He was always neat and clean. He took us to the Clearwater County Fair where we rode the rides and ate cotton candy. The same day he bought us each a ball point pen. They were something new. I believe he paid $5.00 each for them.


[Photo Left: The Ranch]

Easter was a special holiday. Grandma’s son Lester Reed his wife Mary and their 5 children came over from Cottonwood. Aunt Buelah Uncle Everett and boys. Uncle Albert and sometimes other family members came for the day. Frank and I would stand at the lower yard fence and watch for them across the canyon. As soon as we saw them we would run to the last of two gates to open before getting to the house and have the gate open for them to drive through, then jump into the back of the pickup and ride the remaining quarter mile to the house, laughing and talking with the cousins. Grandma had rows of tulips and daffodils in the yard where the Easter rabbit left lots of colored eggs. Dinner was served at noon and was quite a feast with baked ham, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, chicken gravy, salad, pickled beets, dill and sweet pickles, cake, pie and several kinds of home canned fruit, including canned peaches with whipped cream,washed down with fresh milk and strong coffee. My grandfather sipped his coffee from a deep saucer in the southern way and had a special spoon. After lunch (we called it dinner) some of us would take a walk over the hill to the homestead. We gathered flowers along the way. Sometimes we would play in the barn. Playing in the hay was ok but sometimes when no adults were watching we pulled each other up high on the hay fork that hung from the top of the barn and then dropped it. This was very dangerous but as kids we never considered that, even though we knew we shouldn’t, we just couldn’t resist. Sometimes grandad would hitch up the horses and take us on the sled. My grandparents never owned a car and neither ever learned to drive. They only went to town a few times a year and usually one of the family came and drove them. A couple of times a year they would take a separate trip to visit one of the children. If granddad stayed at home and Frank and I would stay with him we knew exactly what we would eat for each meal of the day. He fried potatoes in bacon grease, fried eggs, cooked thick pieces of home cured ham and made thick slices of toast in the oven. To this day it’s one of my favorite meals.



[Photo Right: My Grandparents Charles & Elsie Stockard]

In the summertime my grandmother would rise about 3:00 o’clock, dress and go to the garden. She would hoe and pull weeds until about seven when she would return to get breakfast. I would get up and make a tour around the large yard in my night gown to check out the flowers. After breakfast we would wash the dishes and head for the garden in the far field. There we would hoe watermelons, cantaloupe, cucumbers, squash and green beans. The pole beans were our favorite to pick because we could set under the vines and pick the beans in the shade. First though grandma would shake the bushes with her cane in case a rattlesnake would be there. When the melons and squash began to develop we would write our names in the rind and watch while they grew and our names became larger. When the melons were ripe we would go to the watermelon patch and granddad would break a melon open and we would just eat the heart and then go to another melon and do the same. We were never permitted to eat the cucumbers in the field. It was believed that the peel of a cucumber was not healthy. About 11:00 o’clock grandma would say “Lets head for the house !" Frank and I would start to run but in looking back we could see her hoeing or pulling weeds as she walked. Back we would run, telling her to hurry and she would say “I’m coming”.

It seemed to us it took a long time to get back to the house. We would have a lunch of fruit and leftovers while granddad listened to the national and farm news. After lunch the table would be covered with a cloth and we would retire to the living room to take a nap. Actually they would take a nap and Frank and I would play quietly inside or go to our favorite imaginary farm behind the chicken house. We had various shapes and sizes of farm machinery made from blocks of wood, metal cans, small toys and small jars. We plowed fields, planted crops and made roads in our imaginations. Not far from there we had a small playhouse with a real tiny majestic wood stove. Of course we couldn’t build a fire but we spent many hours making cakes, pie’s, etc. After the evening meal (again listening to the news) of fried chicken, pork, potatoes, fresh bread, salad and several kinds of canned fruit. Later we would go to the garden near the barn and do some hoeing. Grandma also raised flowers in this garden. She also had a strawberry patch there. Before going to bed the granddad would get a kitchen chair for himself and grandma and bring it to the yard. Some evenings uncle Albert would join us. As the sun started to set they would talk of the day, while Frank and I would run and play with the dog Shep. The frogs and crickets gave us evening music, even after retiring we could hear the frogs and crickets.

[Photo Left: Richard Stockard brother of Frank]

The winter evenings we would sit around the radio and listen to "Fibber Magee and Molly”, “Gildersleeve,” "Life of Riley”, Grand Old Oprey, Judy Canova and other popular radio shows. Grandad would build up the wood stove until the fir would crackle and pop and smell wonderful. One year a cricket moved in for a short time and my brother Frank looked forward to keeping his self occupied with it. Before bed time we would stand around the piano and sing while grandma played. Grandad always layed on a longes. I never knew of him sitting or laying down to rest with out a paper or book to read. He was very interested in learning and taught us the importance of education, he thought things over before he spoke. We children would think he wasn't going to answer but if we had patience he always would. He was a serious person but always had time to talk to us or find a lost ball or toy. He had a sense of humor and liked to tease or play jokes on us. Grandad loved hunting and fishing. A family member told a story about when he was young, and lived near Columbia, Tennessee. She said "He would take a book, his rifle and his hound dog and put the dog on a scent, then sit down and read his book until the dog had something treed.” Hunting, fishing and reading were his great loves.

[Photo Right: Charles Stockard with his horses]

As the Christmas season neared, grandad and Frank would go to the woods and cut three trees. Two small ones for the top of the piano and one larger one for the floor. After getting the beautiful glass decorations from the upstairs grandma would tell us of the history of each before we hung them on the tree. Next we would string popped corn and sometimes cranberries. All our gifts were home made. Granddad would make us tractors from spools and rubber bands, Wooden tops and other fancy toys. One year grandma made me a rag doll and used forest green yarn (from her grandmothers shawl ) for the hair. I had many beautiful dolls in my growing up years but none were ever loved as much as the rag doll with the green hair.

Time has come and gone and I’m now in my late 60’s but the memories of smells, sights and sounds are still bright and clear in my mind. The smell of a freshly lit fire of fir takes me back to the living room of my grandparents on a winter day. Lilacs make me think of my grandma’s kitchen, the smell of apples right from the tree remind me of the shed room, a dark cool room with a dirt floor where boxes of apples were stored for the winter, the smell of smoked ham or bacon reminds me of the smoke house where the meat was hung and smoked. You could still smell the smoke when you entered the room even after the smoking was done and wind in the trees takes me hack to my childhood at the ranch above Greer on the bench land above the Clearwater River. It was a very happy childhood and I have relived it in my memories many times.

***
I'd like to thank my brother Frank, my children, Tina and Brian and my grandsons Steve and Heath for all the hours they have gone with me to research , write and listen to "my life story" and never complain. I'd also like to thank Roxy Gess Smith for inviting me to add articles to her web page and for the beautiful graphics. Most of all I'd like to thank my late grandparents for "The garden of Love"


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