|Autobiography of W. E. Smith.|
|Family Page > William Smith's Autobiography > Chapter 3, Long Beach|
We found out the process of converting grocery man into farmer took more than we had. At least we were trying. One hot summer morning in September I had been out in the field early. Being tired and hot, I went into the house and threw myself down on the parlor floor, which was my habit, for a brief rest. I picked up the morning paper and somehow my eye caught sight of an advertisement which read, "Wanted to trade -- a business clearing $350 per week for small acreage within radius of 25 miles of Los Angeles." Without saying a word to anyone I answered that ad, placed it immediately in the mailbox before anyone knew anything about it, and in a day or two received a reply.[Next: Back at the Ranch, Before 1917] [Contents]
This man had a meat market in Long Beach which he claimed was clearing $350 per week. It sounded so good that even those concerned whom I had not taken into my confidence were elated, and almost immediately forthwith we cleaned up the children and Grandma, hitched up Punch and Judy and set out for Long Beach, a fourteen mile drive over dusty roads with ruts so deep the front wheels of the surrey were nearly half buried in the dust. It was hot. Those poor little mules. When we drove up to the watering trough in Long Beach, they simply stuck their noses in the water but would not drink a drop. They smelled the sulphur in it, so what could I do. Such mule stubbornness -- would that I had more of it. Maybe some of you do not agree with me on that.
Well, we saw the meat market; they came out and saw The Ranch.. My enthusiasm was weakening but we made an agreement whereby they were to bring their things out to The Ranch on a van and we in return would pack our stuff on the same van for return to Long Beach. It was supposed to be one of those old-fashioned trades, such as we had just recently gone through. But I was late in my discovery the next day when I found out the market was indebted to Cudahy Packing Company for about $2500, whereas The Ranch was clear. We were obliged to hold the business in status quo for a period of three and a half years, during which time the Orange County Superior Court was trying to determine who owned what. It was finally agreed we should be given possession of The Ranch again, which was in the spring of 1913. It was a close call of trading property worth about $7000 for a defunct butcher shop. I never was a good trader.
Those three and a half years in Long Beach, while they afforded us a breathing spell and time to recover some of our physical losses, also afforded the Grim Reaper the chance to claim one of our dear little ones, and also that long-legged bird an opportunity to pay us another visit. It felt quite at home with us by this time.
Elizabeth, Dudley, and Edward were registered in the Long Beach Grammar School. It was nearing the end of the school year of June 1911. Dudley had had some argument with a schoolmate and on the way home from school, Dudley, with a disposition like his grandfather's, wanted to settle in the easiest way, but Edward, with a disposition more like his father's, concluded it should be settled the hard way. That was on a Monday evening and Edward was notified to stay after school next day and do penance for his aggressiveness. The poor little fellow took sick that night and never again arose from his bed.
The next day the doctor quarantined the house; we all had to vacate except Mother. It was decided that she should keep vigil. We hired a nurse to keep her company, as THAT BIRD had already left his notice that he would call again soon. Within three days the nurse came down with the scarlet fever and could not be removed from our quarantine, so we had to hire another nurse to nurse the nurse. I had taken up my vigil in a shed in the back yard in order to be close at hand when not in the butcher shop, which was close by. It was early in the morning of the 10th day of Edward's sickness. Mother was taking his temperature when she dropped the thermometer and broke it, and only a few moments later Edward passed on to Heaven. I think Mother must have been shocked at his condition that morning, causing her to drop that thermometer. They dressed him up in his little white suit and laid him in his little white coffin the next day, which was Sunday. The undertaker came with the white hearse drawn by two beautiful white horses. They let me have a last look at my dear little boy. He would have been seven years old on the following August 9th. That was the 3rd day of June 1911.
The house being quarantined, Mother could not leave it. Scobee had been with my meat-cutter in Long Beach and the rest of the family were cared for in Los Angeles with Sadie, Mom and Pop. So I rode out with the driver of the hearse to the cemetery adjoining The Ranch, where we laid that fine little fellow.
Nobody can ever appreciate how I miss that boy and I am thankful to God for his kind Providential care and keeping for the rest of us during the past years8. The sick nurse got well after about two weeks and the family, which had been vacated, returned to normal.8. The above appeared as follows in the original: The house being quarantined, Mother could not leave it, or anybody else, so I rode out with the driver of the hearse to the cemetery adjoining The Ranch, where we laid that fine little fellow. The sick nurse got well after about two weeks and the family which had been vacated returned to normal. Scobee had been with my meat-cutter in Long Beach and the rest of the family were cared for in Los Angeles with Sadie, Mom and Pop. Nobody can ever appreciate how I miss that boy and I am thankful to God for his kind Providential care and keeping for the rest of us during the past years.We made that "butcher shop" make us a living, whereas it had been losing money. On the night of the next August 9th, Edward's birthday, "THAT BIRD" kept his promised appointment. Sure enough, we had been looking for him all that day, when at 10 p.m. we heard the rustle of his wings and before midnight Mother found the sweetest little girl cuddled up beside her. We asked the doctor what her name was and he said, "Doris Rebecca," a birthday present for Edward. How strange God moves in his mysterious ways, and I believe we should never question His will. It seemed as though we had not been well enough seasoned to take up a farmer's life and needed an education in animal vivisection -- but I had a good vivisector and it was not even necessary for me to learn how to sharpen a butcher knife.
The rats in that butcher shop must have been of a very prolific variety -- it seemed as though there was no end to them. We clubbed them, we poisoned them, we trapped them, and I was contemplating the Pied Piper. I found that phosphorus on a bit of meat was a deadly enemy to rats. It took but several nights for that to clean them out. I guess they thought the effervescence was something of a ghostly nature, and were scared away. I have used the same with good results on mice.
One of the most memorable customs of the family was on Sunday afternoons. Mother would gather her flock around her and we'd all go down to the beach and find a nice quiet spot of clean sand where the breakers were rolling at our feet while Mother would read the Sunday School papers to us. We were raised to be good Sabbath observers. So the Long Beach home proved also with all its joys and sorrows, to have its character-building place in our institution.
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