Opal (Gorrell) Darnold Memories
November 24, 1981
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN
A few memories of my early life for my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, and so on.
I am Opal Dell Gorrell Darnold, born in LaHarpe, Ks., June 13, 1906, and lived there my first 8 to 10 years starting to school there when I was about six. I started to school in an old school called "East Ward". It was a brick square building with 2 or 3 stories high. We moved to Iola, Ks. when I was in the 4th grade.
My father was Ellsworth Grant Gorrell, born in Moran, Ks. 5/18/1877, and he worked in the 'Zink Smelters', as did most of the men in those days. My mother was Rose Mae Clark, born in Linn County, Ks. August 24, 1877.
One of the memories I have of LaHarpe was the street car which ran from LaHarpe to Iola, Ks., distance of 7 miles, once or twice a day. A big adventure in my life was to be allowed to ride the street car to Iola and back by myself. One such trip my mother sent me to Iola to take a canary bird to a cousin's family of my dad and stay over night and return the next day. They lived in a big two story yellow house. This overnight trip gave me my first experience with an indoor bathroom and toilet that had a long chain that you pulled on to flush the water down from a box 4 or 5 ft. up on the wall.
One house we lived in was my father's parents (Gorrell) house. It was close to town and I can remember my mother sending me to the grocery store for something and I could have a penny to buy a dumbbell sucker which consisted of a stick with a ball of taffy on each end and dipped in chocolate - a big treat.
My brother "Orlin Clark Gorrell" was 5 years older than I. His birth date was June 5, 1901. One thing I remember about him was on Saturday nights, my parents insisted he take me to the movie house. It was silent of course and the music was furnished by a lady playing a piano..
Work was not plentiful in those days, and since there were a number of those smelters all over Kansas and Oklahoma, we did a lot of moving. Once I remember we moved to Collinsville, Ok. for a short while then back to LaHarpe and from there, our Uncle John Gorrell asked my dad to come to Centerville, Ks. and work for him on his farm.
During the stay up there, my sister Wilda was born August 6, 1913. I was seven years old. I was sent to the neighbors to stay over night. When they called me to come home and said I had a baby sister, I could hardly get there fast enough, all the while having visions of the doctor bringing the baby in his black bag all doctors carried. Of course we had no baby crib or bed so they had put pillows in a big rocking chair and this was where she was when I first seen her. Just like a big doll. One favorite aunt, Lizzie Bowman, was there to help and took care of my mother and the baby.
This arrangement of farming did not prove to be too successful with two brothers having different ideas of doing things, so back to LaHarpe, Ks. and another house. This was my father's parents house (as mentioned above). They were unable to maintain a home any longer.My grandfather went to Wichita, Ks. to the Mason home and grandmother went up to Centerville to live with Uncle Elmer, dads twin brother.
One thing I remember about grandmother Gorrell was having long white hair. She would sit out on the back porch and take it down and part it in the middle and let us kids brush and comb and pin and pin it up in all kinds of buns and styles. Finally she would get weary of the game and comb and put it back up as she wore it.
Also, I have early memories of Grandpa Gorrell sitting down town on the street with many old cronies talking politics and stories of the Civil War. He had a long white beard and called himself a veternarian. Later I found out most people said he was just a good 'horse doctor'.
As I've said earlier, we moved back and forth from Iola to Centerville, Ks. a number of times. One such time I remember well. Our parents were not getting along so well. This being in Iola, our father came home from somewhere one night and said he was leaving and attempted to take my sister, Wilda, with him. My mother and us girls were in bed. Words flew, and my mother went to the top of the stairs and told him "over my dead body you will", and took her away from him. He left and went back to Centerville, Ks. and got a job at the Prairie Oil & Gas Co. that just opened up in Centerville. During this time, which was two years or so, mother and us girls had to move to a smaller house on Kentucky St. with nothing much to live on. I was about 10 or 11 and Wilda was about 4 or 5.
My parents had been church going people and my Grandfather Clark was a very dear religious man. To our surprise one weekend, here comes my father bringing Grandfather Clark with him to see us and talk our mother into going back with them and back to our father. He had work and rented a house for us on top of the hill across from the school. This arrangement only lasted a short while, possibly a year and a half. My sister and I barely started to school. The old trouble between our folks started all over and mother had had it. A memory that will live with me always followed: We packed our clothes in suit cases and sacks and went across the school yard, down through the timber and across the creek, under barbed wire fences, and up a hill into Grandfather's Clark barnyard and to the house. We stayed there till we girls could go to school and make a decision how and where we could make a living for ourselves.
During this time our father sued for a divorce. I became a hired girl and worked for several familys that were wonderful to me. One family especially by the name of "Devers" of Blue Mound, Ks., accepted me as their own showing me love in many ways. They were a very nice Christian family. One little ritual I especially remember was at night each member would say good night to each other member starting with the mother and father and their children, going the rounds including me such as - "Good night Opal dear, sleep well, and so on.
So many memories from these places I worked, I can't write them all. All were different experiences.
One large family I spent quite some time with on a big farm was the Adams' near Kincaid, Ks. They were a grain and cattle operation owning a lot of land and a huge two story house. The family consisted of Mr. & Mrs. Adams, a son and a daughter and two grandchildren who had lost their parents when they were real small, and two hired men and myself. The daughter was my age so I roomed with her. The work there was very hard - washing for 9 people on a wooden machine that we operated by a handle pulling and pushing. An all day job. Meals were something else. The men went out before day light to do chores and came in for breakfast which consisted of oatmeal, fried potatoes, ham & eggs.
The daughter and I became good friends and had a lot of fun along with hard work of course. In those days our job was gathering eggs and lots of chickens to catch and dress and fry. One thing "Zelda" was a whiz at - she could take a chicken by the neck and give it two or three quick twists and off came the head. So I thought I'd try it once, so I took one by the neck and started to do like Zelka did, but instead my arm took, over and the chicken was going round and round in circles. She took it, did the job. We laughed and laughed till we were nearly sick.
Another fun thing was they put the popcorn up stairs in a small store room and we'd go up most every Sunday afternoon to shell the popcorn off the cob to pop for the evening. We would just sit on top of the stacks of corn and talk and tell things about our dates, etc., till we had enough corn to make several dish pans of popcorn. It took a bunch for 9 people.
Kansas had some bad storms. One such storm it blew and thundered and lightning and hailed and blew in a window right next to our bed. We had to get a blanket and stand upon the bed and hold it up against the window to keep out the rain. That was some job of course. There was a lot of cleaning up to do before we could get back to bed and just in a short time to get up for another day.
During these times I was out working, my mother and Wilda had been doing the same thing. They worked for several families having their own experiences. There would be times when we'd get to see one another for a few days. It was about 1921 or 1922 when we decided to make the move to Iola. Having to make ones own living from the time one is 11 or 12 at $5.00 a week, you grow up pretty fast.
Going back to my first job when I was 12. I worked all summer for a family by the name of Currys. A man and his second wife. They had 4 boys. His two by his former wife, one of hers by a former husband and one baby boy of their own. I was just out of 7th grade, but did learn a lot at this place like how to make bread, how to churn and make butter, can food, and also cook for thrashers. They were very nice to me. The oldest son took me to my first square dance where we had to climb the ladder to get up in the hay loft and sit on bails of hay or straw.
In the fall I had to go back and finish the eighth grade and then I could go on with working. The school was 2 or 3 miles from Grandpa Clarks place so in bad weather mother took us and picked us up on "Old Maude", Grandpa's horse. Poor thing having to have all of us on at once. Was some load.
When I was about 16, my mother and sister and I decided to move to Iola, Ks.,
where we had lived for a few years after leaving LaHarpe, Ks. We lived a while with our brother and his wife and baby. He had work at the cement plant at that time. We had come down to visit them before we moved down from Linn County, Ks.
We had come on the train. One thing that I remember well was when we went back to move our things down, we had to wait some time for the train. Mother bought 25 ct worth of bananas and we went over in the park and had the bananas for our lunch and on the train. We were so sick of bananas we couldn't look at one for a long time. In those days 25 ct worth was a lot, 2 dozen or more. We couldn't aford any thing else to eat since we had to pay our fare and we had very little money. It was a while before we could make the trip back to Iola.
In the meantime our brother rented another house with two bedrooms up stairs. One for them and one for us 3. All three of us slept in one bed. That house wasn't a very well built place especially the upstairs rooms and so cold. It wasn't finished very well. One time our mother woke up in the night and jumped out of bed - a rat had bit her on her nose. Sa we all had to get up and look for that rat.
By this time our mother had got a job at the laundry, so we three found a little three room house near her work and moved in. We picked up a few things to furnish it with. We still all slept in one bed on a feather mattress.
My first job was at the "overall factory". It wasn't long till I had a chance to go to work at S & H Kress "dime store" and was there until I met and married Russell Darnold in 1925.
His parents had lived on a farm south of LaHarpe for years until they had to sell out and moved into lola, Ks. in a big 2 story house on the same street we lived on. Grandmother Darnold was a good cook so they had a boarding house. I use to go by it every day on my way to my job and always thought what a pretty place it was. Russell was working for Pittsburg DeMoines la. Steel Co. but was home part of the time.
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