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Clarice Rohne Photos  Father: Albert Bertelson  Mother:  Clara Tergerson Bertelson

Clarice Rohne

Clarice Bertelson (Rohne)

    Dad (Albert Bertelson) said when they first moved to Texas in 1885, there were a lot of Indians around, but they were friendly and helped the ignorant immigrants to learn many things about raising the kind of foods adapted to the territory. When he rode his horse, the grass was so tall everywhere; it reached up to the stirrups. There was no sumac, and few trees, except Live Oak, Walnut, and Cottonwood. The people ate wild dewberries, blackhaw berries, and the ripe prickle pears. They would carefully rub them in the dirt to remove the tiny prickles then rub the dirt off on their pants and eat them. The kids did not try that much, because they were afraid of the stickers. When it was wet in the fields, or Dad was through with his work (weekends and in the fall) he would go with us to the "round-top" mountain and look for Indian arrowheads. There were a lot of them, but we failed to save them. We would have them in our "play house" (any shed or bin that was empty). Dad was a self-educated man; he knew the names of all the birds, and wild flowers. He only got to go to school for four years as there were so many in their family of fourteen, and he was the fourth child. The only time I every heard Dad talk ugly was when he was trying to milk a cow; he had bought from Reinert Reierson. She had never been milked, so he was having quite a time of it. We kids were watching from a distance, and all at once she ran and jumped a 6-foot solid plank door, by the barn. We thought he had to be very upset. Dad said, "Dad gum it to Hell!"

Father, Albert Bertelson, bought 180 acres of mostly undeveloped land for $1800 in 1905. It had an old barn by the Meridian Creek. Mother, Clara Belinda (Tergerson) and Father lived in the barn after they were married. It had a dirt floor, but Clara kept it swept clean. She was a fanatic about cleaning house. This prong of Meridian Creek went west, past the Percival schoolhouse, by the mountain on Brummett's place. Mr. Brummett had three batches of children and his house came all the way out to the road. His house was on the right and the barns were on the left-hand side of the road. This road later became Highway 22 from Cranfills Gap to Hamilton. It was later straightened and paved; across mountains many thought were too high to build on.

Dad cleared 6 acres by the road in 1905 and made 6 bales of cotton on it in 1906 (the year I was born). He picked a bale in 5 days, alone, and ginned it on the 6th. He would unload the bale onto planks until he got 3 bales and would load them and take them to Clifton, Hamilton, or Hico to sell. Sam Finson, his wife and mother picked theirs and swore Dad had help, as they couldn't pick nearly that fast. Dad was a champion picker, ("no hulls, mind you, get it all out of the burr the first grab"). He took two rows and walked or crawled between them. He always wore leather kneepads to protect his knees. When I was growing up, I would get astride a row by him. I never could pick enough crawling, my back would eventually get numb, but I could pick more than anyone else could my age in the patch. I always raced at everything I did, even when I was alone.

Dad and Uncle Mack built a house by the road the summer of 1906. This home has been added to but still stands as of 1980. It had a large bedroom and kitchen with an enclosed stairway. Upstairs had two windows, one in the north end and one in the south end. The brick chimney (flue) came up the wall that was between the two rooms. We had a cast iron heater in the bedroom and a cast iron cook stove in the kitchen. Thelma and I slept upstairs after Esther was born. The warm flue kept it from being too cold. On real cold nights Mama put hot salt bags at our feet, later, if the kitchen wasn't being heated at night, she covered some stove lids with paper and put them at our feet. I used to cry at night with my legs hurting, somehow she knew as she would come up and rub them with Watkins liniment so I could go back to sleep.

Mama (Clara Tergerson Bertelson) always talked Norwegian on the telephone to her sisters so the "Amerikansk" couldn't understand them, and she and Dad always talked Norwegian at home. When I started school, all of the Norwegian stopped at home. Now my children think we deprived them by not teaching them a second language.

In 1913, when I was 7, we moved to a 400-acre farm, which was really nice, it had a lot of trees in the yard. It had a real lawn fencing around it and a white painted 2x4 all around just below the scalloped top (metal). I guess the planks (on level sawed-off posts) were 3 to 3-1/2 feet off the ground. We walked on them barefooted. We had a huge mulberry tree in the yard that we sat in most of the summer and ate mulberries.

Sometimes there would be tiny white mites on them, but we would just blow them off. We sat up in the loft of the huge red barn, climbing up the rafters on the planks that went across the top of the loft walls to hold the two sides together, and climb into the little vented square top on the center of the roof. When we sat and looked out the top of the barn, we could see the rooster on the weathervane and the lightening rod on the top of the house. The barn, granary and house all had grounded lightening rods on them; we thought the shiny balls on them were beautiful. I guess we who remember them will always be homesick for the 'White House', as we called it. The house later burned to the ground.

In January of 1919, every family was hit by a ravishing flu. Mama was expecting her sixth child. Dad and I didn't go to bed; we took care of all of them. That summer before I turned 13, I was too weak to walk; Mama took me to the doctor. He did not find anything, probably gave me something for "worms". Mama's remedies included: (1) Each spring a "thru" of calomel, the doctor put the powder in papers and we had to swallow about five powders before bedtime, then we took a big dose of castrol oil or Epsom salts the next morning, (2) Frequently, she would give us a cupful of hot Watkins tea (laxative) or sugar in a tablespoon with four drops of turpentine for three days in a row to kill stomach, pin or tape worms. (Everyone seemed to have them.), (3) When we had a cold, we always had to take castor oil to get rid of the phlegm! If we coughed we would get mustard and flour paste on a cloth on our chest and shift. The shift would be turned about to the back, with a hot cook stove lid wrapped in paper held against the mustard plaster (if it was cold weather).

We had a mare named Dolly that Mama hitched to the buggy. We usually went to visit Grandma Tergerson and Mama's unmarried brothers and sisters, when Dad would be gone all day. Dolly had a habit of getting wads of grass in her cheeks. One day while putting the bridle bit into her mouth, Mama decided to take the cud out, she did not get her finger out fast enough, so it got chomped. We always had a telephone (one long and three short rings on line number 15). The doctor came and cleaned her finger well and I believe took some stitches. No-trip that time!

We visited the Finson's a lot, their children were Clara born 1907, a year younger than I, Pier born 1908, 2-1/2 years younger, and Selma born 1910, 4 years younger, later they had twins Ella and Edwin. They had a cellar built into the clay hillside that was an attraction for us we did not have one. One morning Thelma and I could not find anyone at the Finsons'; they were all below the hill from the house, delivering piglets. I was so embarrassed I could have "crawled in a hole and pulled it with me" (an old saying), we were not subject to any birthing at home.

Dad had a well dug and put in a windmill and water tank before he built the house. Most of our neighbors had cisterns or hand-dug wells. They had to pull the water buckets on ropes, over a pulley on a scaffold. The wells mostly had rocks around them waist high, then a board for cover (I was afraid of them). Charlie Cranfills lived about 1/2 mile down in the pasture on the other side of the Finsons. He came to our place and hauled water in 50 gallon wooden barrels for 2 years before they dug a well.

The barn had six stalls with feed troughs at the walk by the doors of the three bins. There was a room for the harness in the center of the barn shed, which was enclosed. Once Dad walked into a stall behind old Pete (a mule), which kicked Dad way out into the pen. If Dad hadn't been so close to Pete, he probably would have been killed. One two-year-old horse that was red, fat, and beautiful, got her foot tangled up in some barbed wire and almost cut it off, it got infected. Dad kept putting hot medicine, etc, but I guess it finally got in so much pain; she chased Dad out of the pen and fell over dead. I cried and I guess the rest did too.

In the "White House" the rooms were 16'x16' or 18'x18', downstairs, there was a kitchen, bedroom and parlor with a wide hall between the bedroom and parlor. The doors were ornate and painted and trimmed in 3 muted colors, gray, rose, and off-white. The front and back hall doors were one half glass (for light). There was a porch across the hall and one window in each of the two adjoining from rooms looked out onto the porch. All three downstairs rooms had four long windows (two panes in each half) that rattled. It was a big two-story house; my room, which I shared with my sister, Thelma, was finished. Sis and I had a bed, a small table and a kerosene lamp in our room. We had a closet on each side, where we hung our clothes on nails on the plate and rafters. (The plate was the 2x6 or 6x6 that the walls from the downstairs were nailed to. It was about 3 feet off the floor upstairs). The closet roof slanted, and we could see daylight through the shingles. There was no stove, only a flue to the stove in the parlor below us. We very seldom had a fire in that heater, the stairwell was open, and the upper hall was partly sealed. It had an open closet in one corner (no door), with only nails on which to hang clothes. Mom sunned the mattresses on the porch roof by putting them through the windows.

Esther and Agnes slept in the west room across the hall. Every fall we would stand on the kitchen table and scrub the beaded ceiling and walls, down to where we could reach from the floor, some patches were leaner than others as we used lye in the water, and as the water got dirtier, the swatch we washed got dirtier.

The room over the kitchen never was finished; it was our playroom (if it wasn't too hot or Mom didn't have a quilt or comforter hung from the rafters). Upstairs was hot in the summer and cold in the winter and this room had three rattling windows, the only furnishings in the north room were paper dolls and our cuttings. We would cut out paper dolls from Sears and Ward catalogs and work so hard getting slips of paper, dividing the room and setting up our dolls. Then Mom would bang on the ceiling with the broom and yell, "get down here and help with something or other!" Then Mom would clean the room and burn everything. (She said it was because we hadn't cleaned up our mess.) We never got the time, since she would call us to help. If it wasn't cold, Mama used that room to quilt or put up comforters. She carded the cotton that Dad saved from the bales he ginned and then she tied them with twine onto the frames.

To make a comforter: First, layout the card cotton on 3-layer plaits, close together, then put the cover on, and the fun begins. Using darning needles and "carpet" thread (from huge coneshaped spools) tack the comforter.

Double your thread, mark off squares (if it didn't have checks), run your needle down through all the thickness', then come up again about 1/4" from the down thread. Tie a hitch knot and cut the four threads about 1-1/2" long, as they are a decoration (if you make straight rows). Usually, the knots were made about four or five inches apart in squares.

When Mama quilted, she took a chalk and tied a string in the middle. Then she tied a big knot in the end of the string the distance she wanted the "shell" to go (about 15"). She put a finger on the knot in the corner of the quilt and ran the chalk from an upright position, in a fan shape, to the bottom of the quilt. Then she pulled back on her string 1-1/2" (about) and kept going like that until she had all the curves small. She would finish the last with a straight seam. I, being left-handed, hated fan quilting; it was backward for me, so I got the corner seams at the bottom of her fans.

I did my first sewing on the machine at the age of 3 (sewed my index finger, needed only 1 lesson!). I had helped Mama sew as far back as I could remember but hadn't made a dress alone. When Mama made a new dress, she only used a waist and sleeve pattern (out of newspaper) and a tape measure or old dress to go by. When I was 14, I asked Mama to make a pink cotton chambray dress with white pique collar and cuffs to wear to a Literary Society that night at the schoolhouse. I was on the program, Thelma sang alto and I sang soprano at almost every program. Mama was gone when I got home from school, so I cut, sewed and wore the dress that night. I forgot that chambray shrinks something awful, so after it was washed a smaller sister inherited it.

Aunt Jennie tried to teach me how to crochet when I was about 8 or 9. "You do it backward, old lefty, so you'll have to learn it by yourself." So I did. Thelma and I crocheted edging (1/2" to 1-1/2") on all our panties and petticoats for summer. In winter we wore long johns, flannel long-sleeved undershirts make like dresses, with a waistband and gathered skirt (usually a drab gray). We had long black stockings and flannel bloomers with buttonholes to button onto our drawer waists. Drawer waists were round necked with no sleeves. They had three buttons down the back, a big button on each side and the front. The drop seat had to be buttoned on the same buttons. They also, had a button, in front to hold them together. There were white drawer waists and drawers to almost the knees in summer (these were with the crocheted edging).

All our Sunday clothes were white when we were children; they were made of beautifully embroidered material. (I have pictures to prove it.) All had to be starched and ironed every week, we usually had on Sunday dress and two, maybe three, school dresses. We wore one dress for four days and a clean one for Friday. We had high-topped black laced shoes. To go to school, we walked through a 35-acre field and on the road about 1/1 0 mile, then through seepy pasture (about 1-3/4 miles in all). After the 9th grade, I stayed with Grandpa and Grandma Tergerson until she passed away in January 1925, then I walked the 4 miles to the Cranfills Gap School, and I finished the 10th grade. I thought a lot of Ben Anderson, our 10th grade school teacher. The main reason I liked Mr. Anderson was because he taught me the rules, etc., in plain geometry that I had missed when picking cotton for 2 weeks after school started. I almost always missed a couple of weeks at the beginning of school and again at the end of school to help with the planting and harvesting. At that time there were only four big rooms for 10 grades, there were no indoor restrooms. The building only had a long cold hall with two rooms on each side, Mr. Anderson taught the 9th and 10th grades in the same room.

In March of 1926, Dad got me a job as the clerk in the material, overalls, shoes, hats, ribbon and lace, etc., part of Bronstads' store in the Gap. They had an adjoining room for groceries and another room for buying chickens, eggs, and cream, and other things. I worked there until August 1927 at $40 per month. I walked four miles to work for a while, and then I stayed with Grandpa Bertelson and Aunt Christine for a few months.

Uncle Chris was still living then, he was in bed a lot by then, he had epilepsy and was having seizures often at night, so Aunt Christine had a lot to do. She was glad for the $15 a month I paid her. Aunt Christine was the church organist and choir director. They sang all four parts, as a lot of the men sang in choir then, too. I spent 2 months in the summer of '26 with Selena Knudson on their farm about 2 miles from the store. I didn't have quite so far to walk. Her folks were working on another farm on the mountain. She stayed home to care for the cows and chickens.

In the early spring 1927, Dad and Mom and seven of the kids moved into a vacant house in the Gap. They let Parks have the farm (400 acres) in fall of '26. Dad owed him $10,000 and had no way of ever paying it back. They stored their furniture in one room and went west and picked cotton all fall.

Grandpa Tergerson died in the fall of '26, so Mama inherited $800.00, and they used it to move to the Plains of Texas.

In the winter of '26 and spring of '27, Juliette (Ernest's sister) and I had one room at Mrs. Ed Sorley's (an old woman). We had a place to do our own cooking. Harry Larson had a skating rink in the gap and gave me the job of selling tickets late evening and nights, so I could skate, all I wanted for free. I got to be pretty good at it; I was too timid to have much fun before I was nineteen years old. I always laughed a lot (couldn't seem to sober up like some). I felt like a fool, now I'm glad I can laugh after all I have gone through in life. It could have been so much better if I had only had more self-esteem. Ernest made fun of my big lips when we first dated. Mama said I was so "chicken-breasted" I was hard to sew for; I thought I looked like a freak. My sister, Anna Marie, always said none of us needed to see a psychiatrist as we had enough sisters to tell us what was wrong with us. I wish there had been more people to tell us what was "right" with us! No one ever told me I was smart until Vivian Jackson, a teacher at Live Oak school, said I was the smartest one in school.

I picked cotton for Osrow Cranfill in the fall before I got married to Ernest Rohne and he worked in the gin. I was buying a cedar chest, linens, China, flatware, piano, etc. I ended up with $50 in Ernest's car too. I had enough money saved to buy the furniture we needed when we got married. The cabinet (Alvon and Jeanette have it now) cost $30; the sewing machine from Wards, $27; two gx12 linoleum rugs, $33. My wedding dress was luggage tan, an original, for $37.50 (an unheard of price for a dress). The shoes, hose and hat were the same color. After the wedding, we spent a few weeks at his folks until we got the P.C. Nelson empty house a small farm behind August Enger.

There were muddy roads and gates every direction, the house had one big bedroom, one small bedroom, and a shed room across back (roof leaked like a sieve). There was a water faucet on the porch at the end of the shed room, so it was hard to keep water in winter. There was not much bathing, and it was hard to wash clothes. The house was about two feet above the ground, with rocks here and there for underpinning. So we had cold air everywhere, I stood against the North wall, behind the house, with two tubs and a rub board to wash clothes.

We plowed up a space behind the barn and had a nice garden. Ernest's folks gave us a bed with a spring and mattress, and a few hens for a wedding present. We bought baby chicks and fixed up a shed behind the barn to raise them in. We had a few turkeys, but they got Roup (it is like sinus trouble, it makes the sides of the head swell, so the turkeys gasped for breath) from drinking contaminated water. The wooden water storage tank leaked all the time. I used a straight-edged razor, slit the swollen places on their heads and drained the mucus, and put antiseptic on them, some died.

Ernest dug stumps to make a 65-acre field out of a pasture (on his Dad's farm) and we had that in cotton in 1928. Troy was born 9 April; he played in the cotton wagon. He was breast-fed (as were all my other children) so I do not guess I picked too much that fall. We made a little money, but Ernest had traded our "glass" coupe ('22 Ford) to Milton Brown for a '24 Model T with no side curtains.

We went to visit my folks in August; it took 16 hours to go to where they had settled, on a section of land, 15 miles south of Plainview. They were working the land with mules and horses and raising lots of hogs and milking about 40 cows (by hand). They gave us a pig; we put it in a crate bolted to the running board (don't have that on cars now). It took longer to come home, as it had rained between Post and Snyder. There is a river at Justiceburg (has a long bridge now, but not then). Cars were having trouble crossing because of quicksand; so patrolmen guided cars across. Some stalled out, but we went around them, the Ford was higher off the ground.

That fall, Ernest bought a 1927 Chevrolet Coupe, for the car, he gave all of our crop and a note. I didn't even know he signed an insurance policy until we got a bill for it. I was so hurt and mad, too. I had an interest in the first car and it was good enough for us! We moved to the Chris Rohne's place in the fall of 1928, and lived in a new three-room, two-porched house. They dug a new well and built some sheds, etc. I think there was a barn there, too. We raised turkeys for Uncle Chris, worked land, etc. For that we received $60 per month. That was good those days.

My Dad wanted help after moving to the Plains, so we bought a 4-wheel trailer and packed all the furniture we needed for two rooms. We pulled it behind our car ('27 coupe), and moved late fall 1929. We moved to Happy Union, where my sisters went to school (3 miles). It really gets cold on the "plains"; we lived upstairs in two rooms. We had 80 acres of cotton, made only 10 small bales (on halves).

Ernest's Dad had gone into debt heavily in 1924. He bought a lot of cattle and land from Frazier Boone. He built a big house, chicken houses, huge sheep pen and shell barn and lots, dug a well, and built a car shed and washhouse. Then in '29 he found that he had a malignant tumor in his lymph gland in the right jaw. They operated but it was far too advanced, by fa111929, he had a hole in his left jaw into his mouth and suffered something awful.

We went back to Cranfills Gap for Christmas and stayed through most of January. He died 22 Feb 1930, two days after his 46th birthday. Ernest promised him we'd come back and help his mother, as Olga, Cora and Cecil were at home. We came back, even though we had a promise of 165-acres, mostly in cultivation, a good house and cattle (milk cows) and horses (to work on halves). The promise came from Pruett, the man who owned the section Dad farmed (1-1/2 miles from Plainview) .It was a big disappointment to leave all that.

We moved in 1931 into the old house where Ernest was reared, near Live Oak Schoolhouse. Tom Boone owned it, we paid no rent, but I papered those walls, too, just like I did all the old houses we moved into. It didn't cost much; wallpaper was about 6 cents a double roll and I made flour paste. We bought two incubators that spring and set 400 eggs. I turned them twice a day, filled a coal oil lamp, trimmed the wick each night, and kept the water filled. The lamp kept the water warm, the temperature had to 98 degrees at all times. (It takes 3 weeks to hatch chickens.) We had to put the chicks in a "smoke house" no windows, so the door had to be propped open so that they could get light. We bought one milk cow from a neighbor and traded our trailer for another one. One got her head in the oats one night, foundered and died.

That spring I got eczema in my nose and on my throat from using too much Vicks ointment. I had blocked sinus a lot, to ease it; I heated salt in a pan on the stove, put it into a flour sack and held it on my cheeks. I was pregnant with Alvon, and got such a toxic condition I got bloated. I weighed 184 pounds the last time I weighed before he was born on 29 Nov 1931. That was the 4th time I had seen a doctor in my whole life.

We moved to a house Otto Nygaard owned in 1933 and lived there for two years. That was the first time we had not moved every year! They say, "Two moves are equal to a burn," so I guess we were burned out 3 times in 6 years. We did leave a lot of things each time, Otto owed $3,500 on the place (175-acres), and he had to sell in 1934. I sure did want to buy it; in fact, I still dream we are living there. That was the leanest time during the Depression, but we had such good neighbors, we visited each other quite often.

Axel Knudson's had about eight children. The boys were so timid they would stay in their room when we would visit. Edwin Sorley's wife died when Leroy (retarded) was born, so he lived just down the road with his oldest child Ada Mae and Leroy. He was so good to us, once, when Ernest was up in the windmill tower working on the wheel, something slipped and caught his arm. He was pinned up there. I called Edwin and he left in such a hurry he forgot that he could come faster in his car. He ran all the way (mostly up hill) and was worn out entirely when he got there. Ernest had to reassure him; we thought he was going to pass out. He drank some water and rested, then climbed the tower with a crow bar. He tied Ernest to the wheel before he pried his arm loose by lifting the part that had fallen.

At that time there were many beggars walking through the country. Since we lived on the road to Cranfills Gap (about 1-1/2 miles), they would stop to ask for water and food. If we were eating, we would have them come in and eat with us. One old man had some kind of seizure at the table; so after that we brought a plate of food out to the porch. They would usually get to Edwin Sorley's around nightfall and sleep in his barn.

In 1934 Eudoris was born on 11 May. We didn't make many gardens that year. It turned off too dry. That was the year Roosevelt brought up his brainstorm, "The New Deal", and we have been going backward as a nation ever since. He said the farmers were "overproducing", so the ones who had the most cattle killed the most. They shot them and buried them; each family was allowed to can one for eating. The government paid $6 for large calves and $10 for each cow they had killed. The crops were already planted and a certain portion we were forced to be plowed under. Farmers received a dole for doing it. Axel Knudson had cotton already made when he turned it under. It was a field just across the fence from our chicken house.

We had 200 laying hens (that were our living). Ernest was working for his mother most of the time, so I took the cases of eggs into town (until we got an "egg man" who came to the homes and bought eggs.). I had to buy "egg mash" and cracked corn first, then gas and groceries. Eggs were 10 cents per dozen, thirty dozen in a case; so one case was $3.00.

On 29 Dec 1980, Dad (Albert Bertelson) would have been 100; he did so want to live to be 100. He worked to hard and had too many nosebleeds and was bitten by a rattlesnake in 1921. Later, a tree fell on him while he was cutting firewood down by the Meridian Creek on our place; he tore something loose on his right side. (That probably bothered him). The malignant tumors the doctors removed from his colon could have been after-effects. He didn't get better in the hospital, so he tried to go home, he died 12 Jun 1958 at the age of 77 years, 5 months. Terry, our baby brother, born 8 Sep 1932, had epileptic seizures and he had had one just 8 weeks before Dad left us, and died by suffocation in his pillow. We feel it was God's hand that took Terry, so Mama did not have to care for Terry alone. Terry was unconscious when his head jerked into his pillow; he didn't have to suffer anymore.

Clarice Bertelson Rohne as written by Karen Rohne Todd and Eudoris Rohne Dahl about 1980