We had Literary Societies and would meet once a month at the School House and would always have a debate. Oh, we settled lots of world problems at these meetings. One night during the debate, one old fellow jumped to his feet and said, "A thought just struck me," stood for a while and then said, "And now it just left me," and sat down.
We had an old shoemaker by the name of Rupert who lived not far from our home. He made all the fine boots and calf skin shoes for the neighborhood, and most of the leather came from my father's tannery. He couldn't read or write, so he had his own system of keeping track of the different pairs of boots or shoes.
William Wilson brought a pair of boots to be mended, so Mr. Rupert placed them in a section that he had set off in compartments. One day he sent his son, Raul, to get the boots for him. Raul looked all over and said he couldn't find William Wilson. The old gentleman was greatly provoked, jumped from his cobbler's bench and got them himself, saying, "How can you be so dumb? Can't you see "W" for William and "W" for Wilson?"
The old people were very friendly and hospitable people. When about 10 years old, I would go along with my sister Clara to her teacher of shortland and typing at night at the McCandless home, which was about 2 miles away. While Clara took her lesson, I was entertained by the teacher's mother, Mrs. McCandless. She would sit and talk as though I was a grown man and she told me many a wierd tale.
She had a brother, Philip Frantz, who lived on an adjoining farm and was often there. As they talked, they would unconsciously swear, not realizing they were doing it. One day, Mrs. McCandless must have gotten a little conscious-stricken, and said to philip, "WE must quit this damn swearing," and Philip answered, "By God, we must."
The soil in the early days contained all the elements necessary for growing crops, but as the years of use depleted the lime content, the farmers burned their own lime. This was quite a complicated task and required hard work. We were luckly to have limestone about two miles for our home in abundance.
My father and I would go down the Creek to Coleman's where the water bared the rock along the bank, often 10 feet thick. We would drill holes and shoot the rock loose with dynamite, and then, with a drag sled, pull it up the bank to be hauled home in the winter with sleds.
Then came the building of kilns. First, you would assemble logs for the sides and place them about 15 feet apart, and make the kiln about 30 feet long. Between these logs, you would place old rails or timbers. Then this was covered with straw and two chimneys were built. After this, you covered the straw with slack coal and then a layer of limestone, then a layer of slack, always keeping the small pieces for the outside and throwing the larger ones into the middle.
The sides were slanted up until it became narrow at the bottom. A kiln would burn for 10 to 15 days, and what an odor it made! You always had to throw ground on to keep the heat in, and at last it looked like an oven. When the rains came, the lime would slack, and a thousand bushel kiln would make about 2500 bushels of lime. The farmers hauled this out on the fields with a wagon and scattered it with a shovel. Putting it on this heavy, one could see the effect for years.
Near our home, in Girty, they had a wonderful clay deposit, and Mr. McNoose and George Anderson had a pottery. They furnished the canning jars, jugs, and made water tile for wells and drainage. We have some to this day. Another small industry was at Barrel Valley, a settlement to which it gave its name. They made barrels and sold them throughout the country. I cannot describe this as I had never seen them made.