Of course we always cooked from scratch in those days. One of our special things to eat when Grandmother came, was skillet "Caramel Dumplings " my mouth still waters to remember. They were dumplings dropped into a caramel syrup and steamed. The syrup had to be prepared by browning granulated sugar in a skillet and when it was caramel colored, adding water to make a syrup. You then dropped a dumpling dough into the bubbling syrup and covered it with a lid to steam. They came out very rich and fluffy in a thick sauce, and ever so delicious with whipped cream.
The high country of Idaho is hazardous with Rattlesnakes. Rattlesnakes were always a menace. On a fishing trip down Cottonwood creek, Granddad ran across a huge fellow. They took his picture after killing him, and he was as big as a mans arm. Grandmother always prepared a picnic and remained in camp while Grandad fished. Usually it was an outing with extended family. After the Rattle Snake episode she refused to picnic in that particular area again.
Spring in the mountains was one of my favorite times. The earth finally exposed and warmed as the sun beat back the remains of the snow pack, permeated the air with an aroma that I can still smell in my mind's eye, all of these years later. The spring air was so alive. The drone of a bee, the bird and animal noises, stand out in my mind.
One day I wandered up the hill or I should say the meadow behind our cabin. During the winter a Pine sapling had uprooted and the main trunk of the tree lay parallel to the ground, perhaps 3 foot from the ground. As I approached the tree, there was excitement all at once. As I looked closer, I could see a family of tiny "Mountain Blue Birds", nestled in the nest, as the little mother tried in vain to lead me away. I have treasured the visit to that little family all of my life.
One of my play area was a brook, trickling down the mountain from behind the cabin. It was the overflow from a spring beginning in a meadow far up the mountain above. One afternoon I was entranced as I placed object after object beneath a tiny water fall and watched as the water catapulted it away, down the hill. How long I had been thus engrossed, I do not know, but I had moved very little.
All at once I looked up, to see a gigantic Buck Deer, standing over me, not more that 10 feet way. He was as engrossed in watching me, as I had been in my water play. You can imagine my faint heart as I stared up into his gigantic face, looming over me. I must have screamed because he immediately bolted, as did I, as fast as my legs could carry me, to the house. I remember mother trying to quiet me and her going quickly for dad, who was at the mill. All though they tried, they were not able to hunt him down. I never went for a hike in that direction without thinking of that beautiful animal. Perversley, I was so glad they were unable to hunt him down.
We were in Cougar country and at night you could hear Cougar cry. They sounded like a women wailing. Needless to say, I had a health respect for wild animals and was very conscious of how small I was in this massive world. My brother Hubert and I loved to hike and one spot we especially enjoyed was high above our cabin. The hill directly behind our cabin was very bald but once you reached the top you dropped over into a little meadow that was very green and lush with foliage which grew next to a spring.
The meadow contained the remains of a small log cabin which still stood there, testifying to some old trapper or miner of yesteryear. It was a fascinating place to visit.
Directly above the Sawmill and along the side of the hill, there was an old logging road. At the foot of this road was the remains of a blacksmith shop from an earlier Eytchison enterprise. One could find "Oxen Shoes" which had been left behind, from that time they used Oxen to log with. This would have been great Grandfather Elsbury Eytchison's logging area. Caught in the clutches of a bog in the creek was an old wooden cart with wooden wheels that had been used to haul the logs to the first mill site.Undoubtedly pulled by Oxen.
If one hiked up the creek,and followed a trail far enough you could see the Boise Valley far below. Uncle Kirby and Dorothy had the cabin that stood closest to the Sawmill beside this road. One day the log truck got away from the driver ... I suppose the brakes gave way, and it tore down this road. I don't remember now if it wrecked or not. It seemed that there was constantly some episode or another with faulty equipment.
The "Crew" made do with the most primitive of accommodations. They were working during the depression, and so doing what had to be done was there innovative life style. In those days, if one had an emergency and needed brakes repaired, you merely had to ask the cook for a "bacon rind", and you had the material to repair your vehicle. A piece of wire or the proverbial "Bobby Pin" came to the rescue of many emergencies.
Life was more simple then, with simple solutions for the most part. You had to be able to do whatever was needed , using your own initiative.
Mom did not have many conveniences as we know them now, but who did during the depression? Her stove's oven was very small and she improvised by baking the large amount of bread eaten by the crew in a Dutch oven in the yard. Someone had to carry the water from a little spring house just down the hill. We children helped there by carrying little blue lard buckets full to her.
She had to scrub on the board to do the laundry. Nevertheless, she was very proud of the fact that she kept me in dresses and my hair in long ringlets. She was very careful to always have her makeup just so. "...Living in camp was no excuse to let one's self go."
I remember lazy times after the evening meals when the crew, as a happy family, read by the kerosene lanterns, played cards and did other things. One such thing was the contest to blow up by mouth, an inner tube from the car. They did it, and eventually popped it. The fascination was when the air started to cause a bubble on one side. The "Blister" would then weaken and finally blow up.
There were several musical instruments played by various members in the crew. I recall a Guitar, Accordion and a Ju-harp. Much good natured banter and singing was always in evidence.
I remember daddy brought home a new product called "Powdered Milk". This was a novel alternative to canned milk and it had to be tried at once. He made hot Chocolate, which we watched him prepare in anticipation. It was just terrible tasting. They bought Peanut Butter in large square half gallon jars. I remember how Lewis Shaver loved peanut butter and honey.
Lewis and I, at about age three, had a romance going. We decided he should wait till I grew up so we could get married. I never quite forgave him when he married, when I was about 10 years old.
Out of the front door and across the yard, at the other end of path, was the ice cellar. They had dug a room into the hill, lined walls with boards and sawdust for insulation and made a cool house, in which ice was kept for months into the summer, to accommodate the hand turned ice cream maker. Food was also kept in this "cool keeper."
Meat was a problem to keep fresh but one way they took care of it was to hang it on a single tree high in a tree at night. The cold mountain air cooled it during the night. Next morning it would be lowered and wrapped in sheet then canvas. Surprisingly this really worked.