Chapter Five-Grand Junction:1900

Mr. Orr had one or two rental houses in town and one of them vacant, for which he asked me to print a for sale sign, another mark of confidence. He marveled that I could do such fine handwork.

I had rough yet adequate sleeping quarters in a shed alongside the house on a cot, which was kept clean and made-up by Mrs. Orr. My own mother could not have been more solicitous for my comfort, in fact, she was the embodiment of kindness to me, a mere hired hand so alien to what will later be shown to be ingrained habits acquired through a lifetime of struggle and self-denial.

The first thing I had done upon arriving at the Junction was to take out a $1 membership in the local library. She advised me to while way the hours off-duty at the library and read  The Kentucky Cardinal and Aftermath, which I did, and the impact of those two books will remain in my memory forever.

Jacobs came out to call on me several times to compare notes, and occasionally I went to town and slept with him overnight. At such times he would have a bag of grape nuts under his pillow to munch on. He didn.t seem to be getting any benefit whatever from his trip, in contrast with me, and had concluded to light out for home alone, not to curtail my stay and the last time out to see me he as notified me. He casually remarked that he didn’t see how I could wrestle those heavy ladders about, and rather discounted my living quarters at the Orr’s. I must remark that Mr. Orr had just finished building a new stone house, after the 20 years since he pioneered his holdings, and I was quartered in an old adjunct of the original dwelling.

Before leaving, Mr. Jacobs advised me of his investigations around the area, and the one, which had struck him most favorably, was a ranch about 2-1/2 miles out. It was for sale. Owned by a Mr. Yetter, a German, of pioneer days, and, in the twilight of life, he wanted to go back east. Jacobs asked me to go out and look at his place, perhaps from my own standpoint, as he was done with his investigations and no longer interested. Jacobs decided to go home forthwith, and he did just that. Strangely enough, soon after getting back east he found a cure for his throat that relieved him for the rest of his life. I also learned that, up until the time Jacobs returned, Mrs. Jacobs had been a welcome associate in the home with my wife.

Thereupon, with a vacant day or some reason for a day off, I went to the Yetter’s place and to make a long story short, before I left I made tentative arrangements to buy the place, $2800 for the whole 40 acres, or would split it in half and sell me 20 acres for $1500. I spent the whole afternoon in charting the entire orchard of 557 trees, mixed peach and apple alternating. Eight acres were in trees, long cultivated and subdued from the original raw desert. The other 12 acres were in the raw, never having had water, and of course never plowed or leveled.

After supper, just at twilight, when I got ready to go to town I asked the old man how much I owed him for his hospitality and he said,  “oh, I let mamma run those things”, were upon I put the same question to the wife and she said repeating her exact words, “oh, I guess 25-cents will be about right”. So I paid mamma the sum asked but by eastern standards I thought after my day’s work in the hot sun, as much in their interest as mine, they might have remitted the 25-cent charge. However, looking at it in its proper light, I knew those people worked hard for what they had. They went through a lot to build their farm in the early days on the frontier.

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