THE DAY I ALMOST DIED
When I was about four years old, Dad and Uncle Joe was finishing putting the last of the hay on the stack. The last derrick fork had been taken up and Dad had rounded the top of the stack. He had to throw his pitch fork down, then would hold on to the derrick fork tines. Then they would back the derrick horse and let the stacker down off the stack. I was standing next to the stack on one side of the rack. Uncle Joe was on the other side next to the team. Dad said, "Where is Vernell?" Uncle Joe replied, "On the other side by the hay." So, Dad threw the fork toward the center of the rack. Well, I was thinking that I would be safer if I was over with Joe, so I took off running toward him. The fork tines hit me in the back and I went down. Three tines had gone clear through my lungs and shoulder. The one in my shoulder had gone clear through. Uncle Joe grabbed the fork handle to pull it out and lifted me off the ground. He put his knee on me to hold me down while he pulled the fork out. I remember a lot of yelling and Grandma Lenora saying, "You have killed him!" I was having a hard time breathing. I could only take little short breaths. Later on I got so I could breath a little easier. I must have had a pretty good night because I wanted to go play the next day, but Grandma said, no, because I could start bleeding. But, I felt fine and that was the end of that.
When I was four years old, my Uncle Jess, Dad’s oldest brother, who had a ranch down on Promontory, bought me a little two-year old buckskin mustang taken from a herd of wild horses. He was a good horse for 30 years. I won a lot of races on the Fourth of July celebrations in Holbrook, Stone and Snowville. His name was Buck.
One time Mom didn’t get up to fix breakfast. After a while Dad said we had to get a doctor. We had no phone and the nearest one was in Snowville, six miles away. Dad said that I would have to go, because he was too big to ride on Buck.
I got on and Dad gave me a quirt and told me to hit him with every step. I kept him at a dead run the whole way. It was the first time I ever rode down a hill that fast because I had been taught to never run a horse down a hill. When we arrived, he was going as fast as when we started out and I never had to hit him once.
I had a note to give to a lady and she phoned for the doctor who came straight away to see Mom.
Vernell and Warren 1915
STARVING HORSES by Vernell
When I was about eight years old, there was a very harsh winter when the horses that were wintered over in the nearby hills had a hard time foraging for food. There came a day when Dad brought down four of the weakest horses in order to try to save them. He sent me and Harold, who was about six, to take the horses to Grandpa Jess’s place ten miles away where there was enough food for them. Harold was put in a cart pulled by two horses; a hot stone was put at his feet and a blanket wrapped around him. I was mounted on a pony.
Dad told me to drive the horses along slowly because if one of the horses fell, it wouldn’t be strong enough to get back up. Things went okay until we came to a geed lot that had some stock already feeding in it. They horses I was driving veered into the field to forage. I went after them, but as soon as I would get one or two out and back to the road, others would return to the field. I tried and tried until it was getting awfully late. I got cold and tired, so I gave up and Harold and I went to a nearby store to rest and get warm. It was run by a couple everyone called, Aunt Peggy and Uncle Dick. I got to the door but then don’t remember anything until I came to, sitting in a chair next to a warm pot belly stove, wrapped in blankets. When I recovered, Harold and I started out again. I felt awfully bad about having to leave the horses and I thought I would get into trouble. But, when I got home and told my folks, I was told that I should have left them much sooner. Dad heard from Aunt Peggy sometime later, who gave him a scolding that he had sent two little boys to do a man’s job in such foul weather.
I had to stay out of school to do farm work when my Dad couldn’t do it because of the injury to his back. The older I got the more I stayed out so that by the time I got to the 5th grade I had lost a year. Then, I lost interest, until one teacher, Thomas K. Bailey told me if I come to school every day, he would put me through two grades in a year. I told him that I would sure give it a try. He gave me a book on Ancient Greek History and told me to do my best.
We ran out of feed for the horses before the winter was over, so they had to be moved to the mountains where they could find enough dry grass to keep them alive.
Darned if I can figure out where you got the picture of me on the chair. I had it, post card size, with my other pictures. Then it came up missing. I hunted high and low. Every time I would think of it, I would look again but never found it. I thought it was the only one made, and I thought I must have burned it with some old letters and things I was getting rid of. I always felt to bad about it.
What I remember about the trip that day:
Dad and Uncle Joe went to Ogden in a white top buggy. They took the back seat out and tied the back curtain down. They could haul as much in it as they could in a small wagon. I don’t know what the reason for the trip was. It was about a 100 miles away.
I remember when the picture was taken, the man told me to get on the chair. He had me stand up and hold onto the back of the chair. He had something covered with a black sheet. He pulled the sheet partly to one side and told me to look in a funny little thing. He said, “Do you see that right there?” I was leaning forward and said, "Yes, I see it." I straightened up and the big flash of light came.
I remember my dad leaving me at Aunt Kate’s place with Alley Biddle, Kate’s son. Dad said, I will pay you but I want you to be good to him. Alley said he would. Dad left for a while and when he came back I had a red mark on the side of my face. Dad asked me what happened. I said that Alley slapped me but Alley denied it.
Dad and I was walking up the street. We passed a store in an alcove. Outside the store there was four or five rocking horses, painted gray with saddles and bridles. As soon as I saw them, I ran on ahead and climbed on one. I was taking a wild ride when the store keeper came out and said, “It looks like you have bought a horse.” Dad said, “Oh no, we can’t buy it this time.” He lifted me off but I got the reins over the horse and was trying to lead him. I could pull it a little at a time. They were watching me and finally dad said, "Well, I guess I have bought a horse."
I remember on the way home. I guess I had caught a cold because I was coughing at lot and Uncle Joe made me a bed in back of the seat. He gave me some cough syrup and spilled it.
I can remember riding the horse when we got home to Grandpa’s. Everyone was quite pleased with the idea. Harold was about 2 ½ years old and had to ride him, too, only he had to be held on.