Friday, July 24, 2015

Life IN Boise

Ruth Brubaker (Grandma) was the amazing glue that kept the family together.  Throughout the family history, she is the one constant force, apparent in either the background or leading the charge to live life as a Brubaker.  A well-educated woman, she graduated from the Nebraska State Normal School and began teaching at age 16.  She married Grandpa and raised her large family during the terrible economic times of the 1920s and 1930s. 

An example of  Grandma Brubaker and her inner strength comes from a collection of memories and oral histories, they all tell the story about Grandma and her extended family when they moved to Boise, Idaho in 1937.  In an oral history from Charles Brubaker, Jr, he explained: “We didn’t see dad (Grandpa Brubaker) much because he was on the railroad.  He worked sixteen hours a day, when he worked.  When we moved to Idaho, he was supposed to trade seniority with a guy in Idaho but the guy backed out.   Dad was stuck in Cheyenne while we were in Idaho.”
Grandma’s extended family seems huge, and that caused some problems.  In the Boise home the landlord allowed only three children in the house.  “When the landlady came to collect the rent, us kids would have to hide,” dad said. “My uncle was living with us; his wife and three kids; my mom and us eight kids and my brother-in-law.  It was wall to wall people.”

Feeding this huge group was another challenge to Grandma and the rest of the family.  “My uncle and brother-in-law Bill went out to pick fruit,” Dad remembered.  “When they got done the farmer couldn’t pay them (in cash) so he paid them in plums.  We had a whole garage full of plums.  We all ate those plums.  I hate them to this day.”
Life in the Boise house lasted only about one year.  In 1938 the family moved to Midway, and later that same year moved into the city of Nampa.  Grandma’s resilience and strength continued to shine through.  But those are more stories to tell at a later time.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Summer Means Swimming

In a long, hot summer thoughts inevitably turn to beaches, swim suits, and swimming.  It is an ubiquitous idea (how’s that for a 21 million dollar word).  Today, most people think public swimming pool.  Yet, in the not too distant past, people might look forward to the local swimming pool, the neighborhood fire hydrant, or the local lake.  The Brubaker’s of Idaho looked forward to “water day.”

As my cousin Barbra Ellen tells the story, “We all spent a lot of time at her (Grandma Brubaker’s) house playing and especially water day.  Homeowners got to use irrigation water one day a week and it was flood irrigation.  She would take the water blocks out of the main ditch and the entire yard front & back were flooded.   The ditch was actually in the front of the houses & underground.  We played in the water all day.” 
This picture does not depict the Brubaker’s of Idaho, and yes, I have used this picture before.  These are my sisters, Micki and Trula, at around 1959.  In all likelihood they are in Idaho, but this is definitely not "water day."  Yet, swimming in the summertime was a universal idea.