Bevins Tales - BT9 - 1890 Howard and Myrtle Made Decisions and an Announcement
Howard made decisions of which offspring to keep and which to sell
Howard Faced Decisions as his Farm Animals Multiplied
As planned the two older stock cows dropped their calves early in the spring and the two heifers dropped theirs later, giving Howard one new heifer and three male calves for the year. It was a rather easy decision to keep the heifer and sell the three male calves this year. He had not bred the milk cow this year. He had bred one horse which produced a nice foal that would also be sold at the Sale Barn in town at the right time after weaning. Howard looked forward to chatting with some of the men at the Masonic Lodge about when would be the best time to plan to sell this current crop of animals. He would be sure to talk to William in some depth because he knew the McDonalds always had something to sell, and kept up with the market very carefully.
The weather cooperated reasonably well in 1890 and Howard was pleased to have gotten all his crops in very nearly according to his planned schedule. The garden had been just as successful and he and Myrtle enjoyed working on the orchard some again this spring. They began to develop a modest future plan to expand with a few new trees each of the following years. They also discussed the mix of plantings in the garden and decided on a few eliminations and few additions. The size of the garden was just right for them now, so they did make the decision not to expand or contract it, now or in the near future.
In the middle of June, they invited William, Charlotte and Joseph over for a Sunday dinner after church to help celebrate Joseph’s upcoming second birthday. They knew the immediate family was getting together for the ‘official’ observance the following week. They enjoyed their own quiet family time with the neighbors, their cousins. Spending some time with the little one was important to Howard and Myrtle at this time.
Myrtle entered her pie in the Annual Fair in August
Myrtle Entered The Pie Competition at the Fair
The prior summer, Howard and Myrtle had spent some time concentrating on the various types of apples they realized were in their orchard. They talked about that with Ted and Ellen. They said they had never really paid much attention the types, just were happy they were growing well. Giving this further thought, and talking some with her mother about them, Myrtle had experimented with making apple pies with different combinations of the apples. She kept close track of when each type of apple came to ripeness, and which she used in her recipes. She discovered that one particular combination of apples from three specific trees seemed to create an especially delightful flavor for her pies. She had kept this information to herself, hoping to duplicate that success in 1890.
The three trees again had apples in the middle of July and Myrtle was anxious to see if she could duplicate that special flavor in her pies again. When she did, she knew she would enter them in the annual fair the first weekend in August. Only Howard knew what she was doing, and he strongly encouraged her to make those pies and enter them in the fair. Historically, the pie contest was one of the most heated each year, with three or four local ladies tending to win each year, sort of rotating who came out on top. Because of this, new entries were fairly uncommon. As the fair approached. Myrtle was undeterred. She made her pies and hoped for the best.
During the taste testing Saturday morning of the fair, Howard and Myrtle watched as the judges went through their routine. It was sort of a classic dance, that had become a bit of a spectator sport. This year, they suddenly noticed a slight shift in the routine. Rather than just retesting the usual suspects, the judges were including five different entries. They were supposed to be blind tests, but most folks knew which were which. This time, they had included Myrtle’s entry in the final round of testing. In the end, Myrtle did win the blue ribbon for best pie. The judges said it was just something like they had never tasted before. They liked it. The other ladies had to settle for 2nd and 3rd in 1890.
Thanksgiving was a festive set of family gatherings in 1890
Harvest Time Brought News of a New Arrival in the Spring
Fall Harvest was barely underway when Myrtle realized that she was ‘with child.’ They kept it quiet for a while, except for letting their parents know, of course. Myrtle generally found that keeping up a steady work routine was helpful. At least she got away with telling herself that. The harvest was very successful which made the holidays all that much sweeter. She was showing by then, and everyone joined them in the holiday spirit. Both sets of grandparents were especially happy, as this would be a first grandchild for each of them. There is not much of anything much greater than that.
Lewis and Caroline hosted the extended family for Thanksgiving in 1890. Two turkeys were enjoyed by everyone along with all of the traditional trimmings. Family good cheer was the theme of the day. The weather was good, so some enjoyed being out in the yard and garden while others preferred the inside comfort. Lewis and Caroline, along with Jane and Daniel, now seemed to accept that they were now the ‘older generation’ with nearly 2 years having passed since they had lost Victoria. The new ‘younger’ generation was also a reminder of time passing by, of course.
Christmas 1890 also had a different feel as there was actually a beautiful snowfall of about 4 inches during the day and night of Christmas eve. That had not happened in quite a number of years. Everyone enjoyed the beauty, but chores took a little longer for the farmers and their feelings were a bit tempered by the nuisance. Christmas day, as all the families across the valley gathered with their respective families, was a cool crisp day but full of sunshine. By the end of the day, as folks were departing back to their own homes for the night, most of the snow had melted. Roads were still good, except for a few muddy spots. Everyone was filled with the holiday spirit, though, so life was good in the Oak Creek Valley as the end of another successful year, for most, approached.
Note by the author
This set of stories picked up in Oak Springs in 1882 when the Bevins family arrived in Oak Springs including young Howard Bevins, the 14-year-old about to become a High School Freshman. He was in the same class as Myrtle Truesdale. This is their story.
The stories of the "American Centennial at the Homeplace: The Founding (1833-1875)" collection of historical fiction family saga short stories lay the background for the stories of Oak Springs and the Oak Creek Valley. They
have also been published on "The Homeplace Saga" blog (thehomeplaceseries dot blogspot dot com).
“The Homeplace Saga” historical fiction family saga stories are the creation of the author, William Leverne Smith, also known as “Dr. Bill.”