Category Archives: Puyallup

My Grandma

This story is about Margaret Ragsdale Caple. Although my aunt says she was born in Kentucky all of her records indicate Missouri as her birth place. The family came to live in Puyallup sometime between 1900 and 1904.  The Puyallup house, in this story, burnt down in the late 1930’s. The G.A.R. home mentioned was the Meeker mansion. Today it has been restored back to to the way it was when it was Ezra Meeker’s home and is a museum.

Margaret Ragsdale Caple with grandchildren in 1923

Margaret Ragsdale Caple with her 5 grandchildren in 1923. Standing in back are Robert Caple and Blanche McKay. The girl standing in front is Iva Caple Bailey and the older baby is her brother, Roger Verle Caple. Margaret McKay is on the right.

My Grandma

by Iva Bailey

I was only twelve when my grandma Caple died, but I have many good memories of her.

For the first eight years of my life, grandma lived right next door to us in Puyallup. We all lived on 16th street, south-east, in what was then called Meeker Junction.

The house grandma lived in was a large, two-story, white house with a big bay window in the living room that grandma called the parlor. There was a porch that went almost all the way around the house. This was the home my dad grew up in and the house that was for a short time, my second home.

My grandfather Caple had died in 1920 when I was only two years old. I really couldn’t remember him but his memory seemed to live on in the house too.

Grandma had snappy brown eyes and long beautiful hair when it was combed out she could sit on it. She would let me brush and comb her hair, then she put it up on her head with big, bone pins and pretty combs. To me she was beautiful.

Even though grandma was born in Kentucky, she was of English parentage and she was an avid tea drinker. She and I had many tea parties, complete with Johnny cakes, as she called the little cakes she made. I remember, in particular, the sassafras tea she would make for us.  It tasted so good to me then.

Years later, when I was grown up, I bought some sassafras bark and made some tea, but it didn’t taste the same as grandma’s.

The feather bed she had brought with her from Missouri, in the covered wagon. How I loved to spend the night with grandma and sleep in the big feather bed. In the morning there would be sunken spot where we had slept. She would let me help her fluff and make up the bed again.

When I was about eight, grandma traded the big white house in Puyallup for a house in Orting, which was about ten miles away from Meeker Junction. She was a Civil War veteran’s widow and as such was entitled to commodities. To get the commodities she had to live in Orting where there was a colony of soldier’s widows. There was then, and still is, a soldiers home there.

Once a month the army officials would deliver grandma, coffee, tea, sugar and other staples. To grandma on her small widow’s pension, this was a big help.

I can remember how really upset I was by this move. Grandma traded houses with a lady by the name of Mrs. Zettiker. I didn’t like this lady. She had taken my grandma’s house away from us, or so I thought in my childish mind. I can remember my dad trying to explain to me that it was to grandmas best interest that she make this move.

Mr. Zettiker came and she changed grandma’s house. She put a bathroom in the room that had been my play house. She tore off the big porch that my cousins and I had played on when it rained. All this didn’t make me like her any better. I was glad she never lived in the house. She rented it out and I had several “best” friends there during my growing up years.

I would visit grandma every chance I had, which was pretty often. Dad worked in the logging camp which was above Orting, so he would take me along often, when he went to work, and I would spend the day or week-end with grandma. We had some good times together, grandma and I.

It was the summer before I was twelve that will always live in my memory. Grandma had gotten up early one August morning to water her garden. She left me sleeping in the big feather bed that she and I loved so much. In a short time she was back. She was talking to me but I couldn’t understand her. She lay down on the bed beside me and I knew something was wrong. I don’t even remember getting dressed, but I guess I did. I ran to the neighbors and hysterically told her that something was wrong with my  grandma.

The neighbor helped me call my dad in Puyallup. We had no telephone at home, so I had to call a neighbor who got Daddy to the phone. I was so hysterical by the time Daddy got to the telephone he could hardly understand all that I was trying to tell him. He knew something was wrong with grandma.

 By the time my mother and dad got to us, grandma was in a coma. She had a stroke and never regained consciousness.

They moved her to the G.A.R. home in Puyallup. There she died a few days later on August 5th, 1930. She was seventy-two.

She was laid to rest with my grandfather in the Orting Soldiers cemetery on August 8th, which happens to be my dad’s birthday. It seemed to me then, that part of the light had gone out of my world.Headstone-Caple, Margaret Malinda (Ragsdale)

Advertisements

Grandma’s Wash Tubs

 

Laundry drying on the rope outside

The Grandmother in this story is Martha Smith Phillips. She was born in 1877 in Tama County, Iowa. Her family moved to the Black Hills in the 1880’s and she worked in a laundry for a short time in Riverdale, Wyoming before marrying Alexander Phillips. She passed away in 1973.

Grandma’s Wash Tubs 

By Iva Bailey

When I go to do my wash in these days of automatic washer and dryers, I think of my Grandma Phillip’s wash tubs. They were two big galvanized tubs, one for washing the other for rinsing. They sat side by side on a bench in the kitchen close to the wood range, where the water was heated in a wash boiler.

In my earliest memories the tubs had to be filled from the water heated on the stove. Later coils were put in the stove and a tall range boiler or tank,as we called it, stood in the corner and was connected  to the coils in the stove. Grandma thought then, that she was special to have such a luxury.

Grandma always washed on Monday. The clothes were scrubbed on a wash board. If they were really dirty they were then boiled on the stove in the boiler after which they were put in a tub of bluing water to rinse.

Grandma liked windy days to wash clothes.The wind would blow them dry faster and they would smell fresh.They were hung on the line with round-top peg clothespins.They didn’t have the spring kind until later. They were better because they wouldn’t fall off the line. The whites were always as white as snow waving in the breeze.

Tuesday was ironing day. She never put off ironing like I do when I wash clothes in my automatic washing machine. It is so easy to put it off, I hate to iron. Grandma liked to iron. She had two flat irons she heated up on the stove. She always tested it with a wet finger. If it sizzled it was just right for ironing. She ironed with one a while then, the other heated one. She especially liked doing up, as she called it, the white men’s shirts. She had worked in a laundry in South Dakota in her earlier days and was never happier than when she was ironing.

Grandma also used her tubs for baths before bath tubs. She also used them for canning fruits and vegetables. The jars were washed and sterilized, filled and cooked in the jars. I remember green beans always took a long time. It was a hot job in the heat of the sun and the heat of the stove.

Grandma Phillips lived to be ninety-six and before her life ended, she had some of the conviences of modern-day, but I think the happiest days were the days she would hang her sparkling white clothes on the line to dry.