Mabel Life & Times

Chapter Two
"Uh! April Fool"

      One hot afternoon in summer, Gertrude, who was one of the older girls, left the house with a book under her arm looking for a cool shady place where she could spend a quiet afternoon under a tree somewhere. She walked out near the chicken yard where a big maple tree spread its wide branches over the dim coolness below. Here Gertie settled herself in comfort to enjoy her book, which was a thrilling romance no doubt, and read the afternoon away.
      The chicken yard was made of split cedar pickets nailed to poles at top and bottom right enough to keep the chickens and the animals out. The hens were scratching and singing out in the yard and taking their dust baths in the sun.
      Gertie was deeply engrossed in her book, when all at once she felt a sense of danger that made her look up and to her horror she saw a big tawny cougar creeping along on his belly like a cat getting ready to spring on a mouse.
      Gertie was paralyzed with horror and thought these were her last minutes on earth and was too frightened to even scream. However, the big cat wasn't after her at all, and hadn't even seen her. It was a fat hen in the chicken yard that he was after, and had all picked out. He didn't even see her sitting under the tree for he had his eye on the chicken. So, with a long graceful leap, he sailed over the top of that high fence, grabbed the hen and sailed back over again in no time at all, and disappeared into the forest to enjoy his ill-gotten dinner. Gertie made for the house as soon as she was able to stand after the fright. She was so terrified that she could hardly speak to tell about her experience out there.
      There was plenty of wild game to be had, so no one ever heard of a cougar attacking a human being. No one ever trapped them for bounty as they do now, so they were numerous. Quite often a cougar would follow in Alex's footsteps all the way home from work but never harmed him. This worried Clara, but Alex would say, "Oh, pshaw, they won't hurt me." Often their screams like a terrified woman in torture.
      One day Mabel was outside playing near an old Dominick Hen and her little chicks. She picked one of the little chicks up to love it but the chick fluttered and peeped. The hen thought that Mabel was harming the chick so she flew at her with her wings and pecked her in the face and squawked at her. Mabel was sure that the hen said, "Stop that, stop that," so she dropped the chick and went to the house in tearful woe with black rings around her eyes where she had rubbed dirt into them. "What ails you Clara said?" Between sobs, Mabel told here that that old hen flew at her and pecked her in the face and hit her with her wings and said "Stop that, stop that just because I picked up one of her little chicks." Clara washed her face and said, "You silly child, hens can't talk." "She did too, Ma. I heard her as plain as could be." However, Clara didn't argue with her about it and Mabel had a fear of old hens and their chicks after that.
      One day Mabel was playing on the banks of the creek and accidentally fell in. She began spouting water and yelling her head off. She at last got the attention of her brother Norman who happened to be not too far away, so he came running to find Mabel in the hole, and nearly drowned. The only thing that kept her from it, was a root that stuck out from the bank of the Hole and she grabbed for that and hung on and howled. She was about frozen and her hair hanging all wet over her face made her look like a drowned Rat. Norman reached down and grabbed the back of her dress and by the hair and pulled her out, more frightened than hurt, and herded her back to the house in front of him, and prodded her along saying, "You had no business playing near that hole anyway, and it served your right, beside, I'm going to tell Pay on you." This made her scream all the harder, and Clara came to the door saying, "That's enough now, so let her alone", and led Mabel into the house and into dry clothes.
      It was in the year of 1896 that Alex ran for Clerk of Skagit County and was elected to Office. The family then moved to Burlington where they bought a home over near the old Methodist Church (This house is now burned down). [Erle Howell's book, Methodism in the Northwest, lists these details about other Skagit county Methodist churches. Burlington: The First Methodist Church was established in 1891 and the building was completed on Jan. 29, 1893. Charles McDermoth was the pastor. A parsonage was built in 1904 under Rev. J.W. Kearn and the church was rebuilt in 1907.Burlington Methodist Church, possibly the one the Boyds lived next too. from Skagit Settlers, S.V. Historical Series A new building was dedicated in 1956. Skagit River Journal; Methodist churches in Skagit county] Clara was very happy here, and it was the first good home that she ever had that wasn't primitive. There was a good Orchard and garden spot, berry patch and everything that she had always dreamed of. The house was good, and had three bedrooms, front room, Dining room, kitchen and porch. This looked like a mansion to her. She took great pleasure in it. She enjoyed it all that summer, but her good fortune did not last too long, for the next September, she took sick and passed away leaving Alex with seven children.

END NOTES: 1890-1899

      These END NOTES follow the end of "The Boyd Family History" by Mabel Boyd Royal-Steen. It will hopefully give a fuller overview of what happened to Mabel and her siblings right after the death of their mother in 1897.

      He couldn't hold his job and care for the children too, so he sold the place in Burlington, and moved to Mount Vernon where his work was. He rented a house across the street where Carnation Milk plant is at present, and up the hill a ways, and moved the family there, so that he could be home nights, instead of leaving them to their own devices.
      Before this and before they left Burlington, Mollie one of the older girls, married Johnny Johnson. He belonged to the Odd Fellows Lodge and She, the Rebecckas. They were married at the Lodge in Burlington.
      The young folks at home were sure that the newlyweds would be home that night as Alex was in Mount Vernon. They fixed Alex's bedroom all up for a joke on the newlyweds. Instead of coming home, the newlyweds went to a hotel and their father came home to sleep in his bedroom himself. They had put a pail of water sitting over the door so that it would fall and spill over whomever came through. They had the bed so that it would fall down, and had put pins and tin cans in it. All of this was to welcome the newly weds home. They all went to bed laughing to themselves, and wondering what the bridal couple would say. But to their fear and dismay, it was Alex who opened the door to his bedroom. Down came the pail of water, pail and all and covered his head and drenching him from the head down. He choked and snorted and cursed beneath the pail. Tearing it from his head he tossed it out, madder than a wet hen, and tore off his wet clothes and racing around the room in search of dry ones. It was in January and the house was cold, so he found them at last and quickly scrambled into them, then made a dash for the bed, which promptly fell to the floor, rattling the tin cans and sticking him with the pins. This really set him off so he jumped out of bed yelling in rage "You young folks get right out of bed and clean up this mess." They really thought that he was going to take the toe of his boot to them that time. So their good joke on the newlyweds backfired, and it was them the joke was on. He was no person to enjoy a joke anyway, and there is another joke that they placed on him that soured on them.
      This was when the family lived at the "Old Camp," [Clear Lake] and there was the first day of April, just the sort of day that was good for jokes. The rain was coming down and everything soggy. The night before the children decided that they would wake up the next morning and play a joke before their father and mother was out of bed, so hashed it all over the night before.
      The next morning, they were up early and yelled, "Get up quick Pa, for the house is on fire, Hurry." Their father leaped out of bed, jumped into his shoes, and in his undershirt and drawers made for the barn where a ladder was kept. He never stopped to find out where the fire was before taking off to the barn. He came back toting the big ladder, this was more than the children bargained for and they got good and scared. Alex put the latter up tot he house before yelling, "Where's the Fire?" The kids were thoroughly frightened by now, as they looked up on the roof at Alex in his underclothes, while the rail poured down his back, and the wind flapping his shirt tail, "Where's the fire I say?" The children nudged each other and said you are supposed to say "April Fool, No you say it" and this went on until one of them squeaked up in a scared voice and said "Uh! April Fools." He promptly climbed down the ladder looking like a bear in a trap, and saying nothing because he was so mad, and couldn't find words to express himself, and went back to bed where he could get warm again. Every time he heard "April Fool" during the day he would say, "Shut that up and don't let me hear that again today.
      Like all children, Mabel always got in her share of mischief when there was no mother to look after them. Alex tried to keep his possessions put away from them, and his shaving mug and brush was on a drawer of a washstand in his room. In spite of the fact that he threatened any child who bothered his shaving materials, yet they always fascinated Mabel. One day she was messing around in her father's room, she thought she would like to know just how it felt to have that nice white lather all over her face. After thinking it over, she thought she would try making some too, for it must be fun so she went to the kitchen and got a glass of water, and took the shaving brush and stirred up a real good lather and spread it all over and working it in good with the brush, and had the razor all ready to start in when her brother Norman peeked in the door and stopped there and said, "Mabel Boyd." In another minute, she would have started to scrape her face with the razor which was one of those old straight razors that was as sharp as only a razor can be. "Mabel Boyd," again he repeated, "what are you doing with Pa's shaving things? You know very well that he said to keep out of his things. That sharp razor could cut your head off. I'm going to tell him you see if I don't." "You shut up and get out of here" Mabel replied, as she grabbed up the tail of her dress and started mopping the lather from her face, and putting the razor and mug back where she found it. "You are going to have whiskers too, you just see if you don't," he said as he went out the door. "I won't either," replied Mabel, "and you bet out of here.
      Men always grow whiskers when they shave, so next day as Mabel was eating bread and syrup after playing with their old black dog, laying her head on him, the hairs from the dog stuck on her little sticky face. When Norman saw them, he said "Ah, Ha, I told you that you'd have whiskers" and to prove it he pulled a long black hair from her face, and then another, saying "I told you so, now didn't I?" "You stop saying that" she replied, and began to cry.
      I suppose she could picture a big black beard all over her face. However, this frightened her into leaving the shaving things alone.
      As soon as Alex looked at his shaving mug he knew that someone had been messing around with it, and finally found the guilty one, and threatened her with a stick if she even tried to shave again.
To be continued...
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