Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Story of Mabel (Huff, Stowe, Barmuta) Philbrook Minnesota 1920)

The Life of Mabel Stowe Barmuta 9/27/2011

I was born in Philbrook Minnesota on September 27th 1920 at home.
Philbrook was a one horse town.
The town had two grocery stores and we’d sell all our eggs, milk and cream there
and we’d buy the flour, sugar and salt back from them.
The town had two gas stations and two churches,
one for Catholics and one for Protestants.
We all went to the same school first through eighth grade.
My mom’s name was Alice Huff and she her family had moved from Pennsylvannia to Minnesota and my dad was born in Staples Minnesota.
My dad, Elmer Stowe, had a ranch up in Montana and wanted my mom to go live there but she didn’t want to go. She didn’t want to leave her family.
I had two older sisters, Martha and Myrtle.
My dad picked us out all M names then chose Wallace
for my little brother because he said it was an
upside down M.
We lived two miles out of town on a wheat and cattle farm.
We were pretty well off and had a Ford Model T when I was little.
We didn’t have any electricity and used wood-stoves for heat.
We had one in the kitchen and one in the living room and
my dad had to take his axe and cut down trees all winter
for heat because he was too busy running the farm in the
We had a small two bedroom house with a basement with a cellar.
My dad would bury carrots and beets in sand and they’d keep all year that way.
He just threw the potatoes in a heap.
All the dry food like sugar and flour went in the cupboard
but the cold stuff had to be kept in the lean-to in a bucket
of cold water. You’d have to go out and pump in fresh cold water
a couple times of day to keep it fresh.
In the winter it was so cold you just left it in the lean-to.
We didn’t have indoor plumbing
and had to run out to the biffy to use the restroom.
When it got too cold we had to use a chamber pot.
We didn’t have indoor running water but the
pump was next to house in a lean-to.
That was my job and it would freeze in the winter.
If you forgot to trip the pump to get the water out,
you had to prime it every to get it restarted again.
I’d bring the water in every day after school at four and
fill the cream cans .
I had to fill the tea kettle, the reservoir attached to the stove
to keep hot water, and the water pail for drinking water.
To wash clothes once a week on Monday
we’d boil water on the stove, then fill up the
washing machine. The tub had a crank and
I was the motor. I’d raise and lower the crank
which would make the agitator bar turn back and forth.
After I washed the clothes, mother would boil them for twenty minutes
and then I’d wash them again and then I’d run them through the wringer.
We didn’t have electricity but we used kerosene lamps
with mantels and they gave off a lot of light.
The school was two miles from our farm and we’d walk both ways.
When it snowed a lot my dad would hook up the horses
to the big sleigh that he used to haul trees in the winter.
It was about twelve feet long and five wide.
We had three big draft horses that pulled the sleighs
and plows.
The schoolhouse was white and good-sized and our teacher
had fifty to sixty kids from first to eighth grade.
For fun we worked.
Just kidding. We played tic tac toe and there was a ball and a bat for
the whole school. In winter we’d make snow angels.
We each have a lunch pail and you’d better not lose it.
The lid was attached to the pail
and you’d put in an apple and sandwich and a jar of milk.
Mother would always cook roasts and bake bread and we’d make
sandwiches from that.
There was water cooler was in the school-room with a spigot.
The bigger boys hauled in the wood for the woodstove
that the school board men had cut and delivered to the shed.
At home for fun we kids played card games like Bunko or BINGO
or tic tac toe.
My grandmother lived about two miles away and I’d ride my brother’s bicycle
over on the big road to her house and back but I’d never tell anyone.
I was a good bicycle rider and I’d even stand up on the cross
bar and steer that bicycle with my feet!
At Christmas time we’d go to my grandmother Huff’s house and my aunts and mother would make dinner for all of us.
The last day of school was always a big deal and the school would put
on a big picnic. They’d make sandwiches and potato salad. The homemade ice cream and lemonade were treat foods you’d never have all year. You couldn’t just open a can of lemonade and lemons didn’t grow in Minnesota!
We’d have footraces and I always won my class. I was fast.
The high school was five miles away from our house and I stayed in town
with the high school teacher and his wife.
My mother died when I was sixteen and my dad sold the whole farm he was so heartbroken and got a small house in town. My older sisters had gotten married
and moved away so I went to work.
I went out to my sister’s in Detroit and I went to work at a restaurant.
It was very high falootin and I didn’t like it.

In 1940 I wrote my aunt in Portland Oregon and asked if I could stay with her and she told me to come on out. I got to Portland and stayed there three days and then I took bus to Seattle to my great aunt Bernice’s house near Greenlake.
She told me to go down to Boeing so I did. They hired me and sent me to Boeing school to learn how to make airplanes. The war started soon after that and I got started running a turret lathe making all kinds of airplanes. I ran that machine for ten years making parts for warplanes. They were putting those planes out by the hundreds for the Air Force and sending them to Europe and Japan.
That’s were I met Arky. He couldn’t go to war because he was the only guy that knew how to repair all the machines.
He asked me to go to a movie after work one day and I did.
That started the whole thing rolling.
We went to Thirteen Coins or Russell’s and Lion’s Music Hall where we did the jitterbug. I was pretty good at jitterbugging.
We got married in 1945 and moved to North Seattle near Roosevelt Way.
In 1947 we moved out to here to Kenmore and Arky and his brother Vlad Barmuta started building this house.
The highway from Seattle to Kenmore was still brick back then.
Kenmore was a one-horse town back then and the main restaurants were The Porterhouse right across the highway and we’d go to the Kenmore Community Club down the street.
Arky kept working for Boeing and then he started his own furniture making company below our house called Barmuta Furniture Company.
Kenmore had an annual celebration called Frontier Days.
We had a parade and over by the drive-in theater they had carnival games and rides.
We joined Seattle yacht club and our group would cruise all around the San Juan Islands and one year we went clear up to Juneau Alaska.
Mike was born in 1950 and he went Arrowhead elementary, Kenmore junior high and Inglemoor High School and the UW. He got a job and moved to Everett.
Donna Mae was born in 1957 passed away from cancer when she was five.
After I worked at Boeing I got hired at Eldec Electronics as an inspector.
I retired at some point and here I am today,
having my ninety-first birthday today.
Hard to believe.

I recorded this story while laying on Mabel’s couch, like I was prone to do, gabbing and resting and enjoying “girl time.” She was a terrific next-door neighbor.
Later that day, I took her to renew her driver’s license because she wanted to.
She no longer drove but wanted to have it. Because she could.
There are a few inaccuracies in this story because Mabel's memory was in decline.
I typed verbatim.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Standing in the 747 Engine in Australia

I looked out the plate glass window at the 747
parked at the end of the jet way.
Mary said, "Look at the mechanic down in
that engine. He looks so small."
I looked down and saw him and he did look small.
Even with the nose of the plane almost to the window,
it was so darn long that the mechanic was hundreds of feet away.
My imagination took a quick spin of roughly
two dozen things that could go wrong with that engine
between Sydney Australia and Honolulu Hawaii.
I said, "You know what would be cool?"
Mary looked at me, and I continued.
"What if all fourteen of us got up in that engine for
a picture?" I looked at her twinkling blue eyes and big smile
and continued, "You know how nice they have been to us
this Christmas? They even chipped in for our dinner
because they knew how homesick we were."
Tall thin blond Andy said, "Go ask Gretchen."
I went down the jet-way to the outer stairs
and down the stairs to the tarmac.
"Excuse me" I said to the white-overalled mechanic
when he came down the ladder.
I cranked up my smile as high as it could go,
"I don't suppose we could go up for a photograph?"
He laughed in that sunny "No worries" Australian way.
"Sure lassie, go get your mates."
I ran yelling back to the crew,
"Hurry, hurry! He is going to take our picture in the engine!"
We climbed the ladder into the cowling and huddled together
and the mechanic snapped our picture.
As I stood there with a smile on my face
I did the mental calculations of our combined weight
and wondered what the stress limit on the bolts was.

"Don't Embarrass Troy"

We were in the van on our way home
from Canyon Park Goutback Steakhouse.
Contrary to my New Year's resolution to
lose ten pounds, I was craving gout food.
Terry told me not to embarrass Troy
when we arrived at Dollar Tree for coconut water.
He got out of the van and walked to the window and
told me to peer in the window at our son working.
We had our faces on either side of the round
window decal advertising all the hot sale items.
So I did and he starts tapping on the glass until Troy saw us.
I was thinking, "In what world would this NOT embarrass our child?"
But I didn't say anything...
just peered in as instructed...