Growing up in Baca County, Episode #2b, by John Havens.

A couple years ago, Kathy pushed out a series in the Plainsman Herald by John Havens. We are going to replay that on this blog over the next few weeks. Kathy’s intro is as follows:

A Little Bit of History, By Kathy Nutt.

A while back we received a letter and several pages of history from John Havens of Pratt, KS.  He grew up in Vilas area and would like to share his personal stories about growing up in Baca County with us.  So we will have several episodes of his story and many of us can relate to happenings throughout his life story.  Thank you Mr. Havens for sharing your life with us.

Growing up in Baca County, Episode #2b, by John Havens.

One of the social events of the community was the county dances. These were held in various farm homes. In later years when I visited in some of those homes I was amazed that they could accommodate a crowd for a dance. There were very few large farm houses such as one sees in Iowa and other states.

   But in the homes where dances were held the hosts would clear all the furniture out of the living room, or some called it the front room, and there would be a space for the musicians and enough room for six or eight couple to dance.

   If there was a piano, my Mother played it. My Grandad Hutches played the violin, or may it was a fiddle. My Uncle Vess Hutches played the guitar and there were others who helped provide music.

   The women sat inside while many of the men stayed outside except when they came in to dance. Sometimes a little home-brew helped to liven up the party.

   There was one couple who could dance the Heel and Tow Polka and I always enjoyed watching them. Each couple had their style of dancing and it was usually a fun, relaxing evening.

   I started my first year of school after moving to the basement house. There were several kids on the bus, and all of us had to take our own lunches to school.

   Just recently, in October of 2015, I had the privilege of once again riding over that bus route, thanks to Randy Hutches for providing the transportation. I had drawn up a map of how I remembered that route. We found most of the farms, but I was amazed when I discovered that out of about thirty farms on that route only about eight are still active farms. Only a few trees or an old barn or shed marks the spot where a family once lived.

   I really don’t recall how our evenings were spent at home. We no longer had kerosene lamps, but gas lamps that used mantels and had to have air pumped into the bottom part of the lamp. On some evenings Dad and the hired man brought corn, still on the cob, into the house and sitting newr the wood-burning stove they would strip the kernels of corn into tubs or buckets to be used for seed or feed later.

   Oh, and how cold I forget the Saturday night baths? We did not have fancy, modern bathrooms like many homes have today, but the bath tub was a galvanized metal wash tub. Hot water came from the teakettle on the stove and cold water from the well. Some homes had the old pot-bellied heating stove which if you stood in front of it you would fry on one side and freeze on the other, or visa-versa. But in spite of all the inconveniences, the people lived through those days.