Monday, May 30, 2011

Childhood Musings

Thoughts on My Early Years
Bart Hymas Eborn - The Early Years

While the world was still teetering on the edge of the Great Depression and the rumblings of war were growing louder and louder in Europe and Asia, far removed from threats of the impending world calamities, a baby boy was born to Darrell and Edna Hymas Eborn. It was May 29, 1940. The birth was not a typical birth even by the standards of this remote region at the time. My parent's, Darrell and Edna Eborn, were living in a small two-room cabin on a small farm in Lanark, Bear Lake County, Idaho, that they had purchased from a Depression-stressed landholder during this time of severe economic hardship, which reached from the cities of America, to the Dust Bowl of Kansas and Oklahoma, to the fruit orchards of California and the cotton fields of the Old South even into the remotest corners of America, such as the Bear Lake Valley, which straddled the Utah-Idaho state line near Idaho's most southeastern corner. Spring comes late to this Rocky Mountain Valley, which lies at an elevation of nearly 6000 feet above sea level, but by late May the snow had gone and the grass was green and on that day covered with a profusion of bright yellow dandelions. The birth of the child was immanently awaited that day, as the young mother had already begun to feel the early signs of childbirth.

The morning chores were done and Darrell, my father, knowing that there was much work to be done in cleaning the long irrigation ditches, which brought the precious water to his otherwise dusty acres prepared to cross the nearby slough and go to work with some of the other farmers, who shared the same ditches. Before he left the cabin though, he gave his beloved wife a kiss and told her to hang a white dish towel on the back door of the cabin if she needed him. Just after the sun reached midpoint in its traverse across the clear blue sky, Darrell noticed the towel hanging on the cabin door. He excused himself and ran, shovel in hand,the quarter mile to the cabin, where he found Edna experiencing the severe pains of child birth. They had not planned to have a doctor's services, since they could ill afford it, but as mentioned before this was not to be an ordinary birth. After what seemed like hours of agonizing pain, with no progress toward delivery, Darrell recognized that some help needed to be summoned. At about this same moment, Uncle Harlan, who lived up the lane about a quarter of a mile showed up in his recently purchased vehicle. There was no telephone service, and Darrell asked his brother to please go to Paris, Idaho, a distance of about six miles, as quickly as he could and see if he could find Dr. Spencer Rich, the nearest doctor, who could lend assistance. Harlan tore off down the lane leaving a cloud of dust billowing up behind his car, as he headed south toward Paris. Just before reaching the doctor's office the car overheated and stalled. Harlan jumped out and ran the remaining distance to the doctor's office. Luckily the Doctor was there and he and Uncle Harlan jumped in the doctor's car and sped off in the direction of Lanark, where the young mother continued to struggle simultaneously for birth and life, for herself and her yet unborn child. The doctor quickly ascertained that the child was breached and could not be born without help. First he administered Ether to the exhausted mother and after a time he was successful in turning the baby and it was delivered. I remember mother telling me, that "the Ether made her hands and arms feel just like old Popeye's." According to my father's words: the baby, a boy, was dark blue when he was born, and it was feared that perhaps neither mother nor child would live. Prayers were offered and blessings pronounced and after what seemed to be an eternity a more normal coloring developed in the eight and one-half pound baby boy and the young mother stopped bleeding and began to stabilize. Several hours passed and after both mother and son were stabilized and it appeared things would be alright the exhausted doctor left, and was replaced by my Uncle Harlan's wife, Agnes, who watched over and cared for the the newborn son and his mother. It was decided, that the child's name would be Bart Hymas Eborn. The middle name was Edna's maiden name. Bart joined a three-year old brother as the second son in this young family. You may wonder how I know this earliest part of my history. It was told to me in later years by my mother and I have never forgotten it, nor have I ever ceased to give thanks for the miracle of my birth and the life of my mother. It was a very difficult birth, even a miracle birth, considering the circumstances.

I have often wondered why it turned out as it did. According to our family's belief, if a child dies before the age of accountability (age eight) that child is immediately taken home to our Father in Heaven and dwells in the Celestial Kingdom. Those who live beyond that day are required to prove their faithfulness through all the rest of life's experiences. And so I go through the remainder of my days, joyfully, with the blessed assurance, that I have a Father in Heaven, who has created me and preserved my life, that I might, in my own way, glorify Him and extend His glory through my own family and my service to others. I am grateful to my mother and father for recounting the events of my birth and counseling me as to the purpose of my life.
Their words and example have left an indelible impression on my mind and soul.

Young Childhood

I don't suppose, I'm much different than most other people, when it comes to remembering the very earliest years of life. The circumstances of my birth were told to me by my mother and we both reminisced often about what might have been and what was now to be. As for the earliest years, however, there are but a few vivid memories and I find it difficult pinpoint the exact year of their happening.

The above photograph was taken when I was one year old. I'm sure I was a year and some months, but I don't know exactly how many months. So for as I know it is the earliest picture of me in existence. A look at this picture, I think, speaks volumes about those earliest months of my life and my development after the frightening experiences of my birth. It show that, despite the hard times, I was loved and cared for. It shows that I had been nourished sufficiently to grow at a normal rate. The bright eyes and the smile tell me that my mother and father took good care of me and that they loved me. There is much to be learned from a picture, if we will just take the time and reflect on what stories it might tell. There is an old Chinese saying which says: " A picture is worth a thousand words. I really believe this is true and hope that any of you, who read this will take some time and contemplate the stories behind the pictures. The writing under the picture. "1 yr old Bart" was written by my mother.

As mentioned, I was born to a young farm couple and my earliest childhood recollections, generally have to do with family and things that were common around the farm, but noteworthy to a young and inquisitive child, such as I was. I remember the farm animals and some of the conditions of home and farm that made impressions on me at a rather tender age, though I don't remember my exact age at the time. The picture of me watching the baby pigs as they ate, is the second photograph of me that is in my possession. The caption on the back of the photo says that I was three years old. I remember being fascinated with animals and many aspects of nature, which were so abundant on the farm. My father and mother had a few milk cows, as can be seen in the picture. I remember watching Dad milk them by hand and squirting milk at me from the cows teats as I watched. We always had a few pigs and some chickens.The rules of economics were rather simple in this part of the world when I was growing up.
In later years, I remember my Dad talking about an elderly neighbor, David Orr, who explained what it took to sustain a family in our little corner of the world at the the time. He said: "You have to have two
cows for every kid." I think that simplified it a little too much, even for that age and place, but it does remind us that, the basics are rather simple and that people can get by with very little if they really have to. There are times, now that I am older, that I wonder if the "goodold days" really were better. Life was definitely much simpler and less stressful. People worked hard. They worked together and they for they most part they enjoyed one another.

For the first six years of my life we called a little two-room log cabin home. This photograph is the only existing picture of my birth place. It shows my older brother, Ellis, who was three years older than I was, sitting on the porch by the front door of the house. I have a few very early memories of this place. One of the first was of the numerous ground squirrels around the yard and even under the porch.
I remember distinctly their calls and how they would scurry for cover when someone came near. They were especially numerous, in my recollection, under the clothes lines not far distant from our front door.
I remember a beautiful mountain bluebird that made its nest in a crack in the wall of the house near the front door. It seemed to come every year and find the same spot to nest. I was always intrigued by the little birds.
Some other early memories of our home have to do with the winter seasons, which can be long and bitterly cold in the Bear Lake Valley. I recall my mother tucking Ellis and me into our beds with a large warm rock that had been heated in the oven of the wood burning stove, then wrapped in a blanket and lovingly placed in our bed before we went to sleep for the night. It was a surprisingly good idea and helped to keep us warm on the bitter cold nights. Our bed was heavily covered with quilts my mother had made, mostly from scraps of worn out clothing, and together with the hot rock kept us snug and warm. The room itself often became very cold during the winter nights. I remember mother bringing us a glass of water on several occasions when we were thirsty after we had gone to bed. She would then leave the half filled glass of water on a small night stand next to our bed. On more than one occasion, I remember waking in the morning to find the water in the glass had turned to ice. Our small cabin home was located on a little knoll and was exposed to the fierce winter winds and blizzards, which came during the winter months. On one occasion, I remember getting out of bed in the morning and stepping in a small drift of snow on the bedroom floor caused by the wind sifting the snow through a small crack near the floor in the north wall of the cabin bedroom. Looking back I wonder how we survived, but what I remember most were the smiles, the laughter, the home-made bread and the feeling of security there with my parents and my brother and later a little sister, all happily living in two small rooms.
One other story about the cabin home we lived in was related to me by my father. When he purchased the farm in 1937 it had only one building on it, the two-room log cabin where I was born, but it was located in the field nearly a quarter of a mile from the nearest road of any kind. Dad and Mother wanted to live a little closer to civilization so it was determined that they would move the house across the slough and then several hundred yards further next to the dirt road which has now become known as Lanark Lane. On some maps I have even seen it labeled "Eborn Road". Dad secured the help of many neighbors, each of whom brought their team of horses, and after the cabin was jacked up and placed on wooden runners, hooked to the home and using real "horse power" the home was moved to the spot where I was to be born. There was no water, so Dad dug a well with a shovel and his own two hands. This well served us for several years. There was no bathroom facilities in the house, and so, like most other people of the time a wooden outhouse was built north of our home at a distance of maybe twenty-five or thirty yards. Very vividly do I remember tearing another page from an outdated Sear-Roebuck Catalog to wipe my rear end. One thing I do not remember at our home was our parents complaining or murmuring about what now were are perceived as obviously very primitive living conditions.

This is the first family photo taken of our little family, which by then consisted of Mom and Dad, my older brother Ellis, myself, and by this time a cute baby sister, Brenda. The cabin home in the background was the home of our neighbors, John and Elsie Roberts and their six children.
Our cabin home looked much like this one. This picture also shows another major reason for going to the great effort to move the home across the slough to a location near the road, electric lines which were relatively new in this part of the country at the time, though all electricity was used for in our home was to power two small light bulbs, one in each room. I remember also the constant struggle to find firewood, not only to keep us warm during the cold of winter, but also to cook three meals a day and to heat our bath and wash water. Most often the men in Lanark would get the wood out of the mountains during the early winter months when there was less to do on the farm, but also when the snow made transporting the loads of wood by horse drawn sleigh easier. The men of the town would often work at his project together and then would take a community saw from place to place where the men would saw up their own firewood and then move on to the neighbor's place to do the same for him, and so it went until all the community firewood needs for the winter and into the next summer had been met.
by Bart


  1. Thanks for the post. Speaking of the cold Winters and the out-house out back. One morning when I was about 9 I awakened and had to go to the "out-house" really bad. There was no time to put on warm clothes and I just opened the door and streaked for the comfort of the most important (at that moment)room in town. I was barefoot and only had on some long-john underware. My bare feet were sinking in the snow as I went. It was really cold and I was getting in trouble really fast. By the time I got back to the house I was in tears and had unbelievable pain in my feet and legs. Mom and Dad heard me fussing and crying and got up to see what the problem was. They helped warm up my feet but we had no heat and no warm water. They rubbed my feet which helped to help take the pain away. Lesson learned, but illustrates the problem of living on Lanark lane in the 1940's.

  2. Wow, I can't believe how much things have changed in a generation or two. Thanks for the post.