Sunday, March 13, 2011

Memoir: Chapter 13: Uncle Reed too unstable to live in our world anymore

Uncle Reed started having a pretty bad time around the time Darrow got killed falling off the School House ledge. He had just gotten home from the mental hospital and as we were driving through town one day, the whole family having just come from Salt Gulch, Reed ran down the road, yelling at us to stop. We pulled along side of him by the school house. He practically screamed at us, “One of the Moosman twins has fallen off School House ledge!”

Daddy and Mother tried to calm Reed down until finally were able to find out that the twin who fell was Darrow. I didn't know him very well even though he was in my room at school, but he was two grades ahead of me which would have made him around 9 years old. The other boys said they all climbed up on the ledge after Sunday school to roll rocks off and Darrow got too close to the edge and started slipping.  He grabbed hold of a little tree, but it broke, and to their horror, he  slipped and slid over the edge of a long drop.
His older brother Dee ran down to try to find him and sent Darwin, the other twin, for help. But he was dead when Dee got to him, his blood spattering the pale sand rock ledge in big spots. Darrow was such a daredevil, the other boys always said, taking chances rolling rocks off the ledges.
We school children marched into his house the day of his funeral and saw Darrow in his casket, his mother sitting beside him. She was another everyone was worried might go mad over his death, as she had been a patient at the state mental, too. She just cried quietly beside the coffin, her hand over her eyes, and looked the picture of a sorrowing mother.

Then Lola Joe, Uncle Reed and Aunt Thirza's fourth daughter just sixteen months old, developed pneumonia. Aunt Thirza came through Salt Gulch and picked up her brother Morias to go with her to take the little girl to the doctor. My cousins always said their mother stopped on Hell's Back Bone bridge and it was then that she discovered Lola Joe was no longer breathing.

Aunt Thirza decided that it was no use expecting Reed to help make cheese, as he just would not finish any work task he was persuaded to start, so they decided to move from the school factory house into her old family home where her brother Merlin, a bachelor, still lived. He and Reed were the best of friends and she had talked to Merlin who said he would help her take care of Reed so he would not have to go back to the state hospital. Marion, my six year old cousin, said that her mother had been having her watch him when she had to do something. Uncle Reed had such a hard time sleeping at night he kept her awake and she was not getting her rest.

The family was relieved when they stopped trying to make cheese and moved as Merlin was a gentle man and they thought he would be a big help in looking after Reed. I am sure Grandma King was exhausted trying to help watch him, too. He liked to come down to the ranch house and move around in the trees preaching to the spirits.

Now comes a time when I had to wonder why some things happen on earth like they do. I even had to wonder why God would let such a thing happen, but I guess God had nothing to do with it.  It was just men drinking.  The next thing that befell Uncle Reed bad enough to send a normal person mad was this. Reed and Merlin went to Richfield through Escalante, so the upper road out of Boulder through Wayne Country must have been closed They stopped in Marysvale canyon on the way and got out of the car. They were standing beside the road. Mother was sure they had bought a bottle and were drinking, so they probably had to relieve themselves.  As they were standing by the road, a car came speeding around the bend. The driver must have been drinking, too, because he swerved the car and hit Merlin, tearing off his leg! The driver did not even stop but dragged part of his leg down the road as he sped away. Uncle Reed was left to try to comfort his dying brother-in-law and best friend. He was waiting by his body when somebody finally stopped to help.
When I heard this story I thought to myself, 'Uncle Reed is never going to get better now. A man with such a fragile mind can only take so much.'  He'd had more than his share of sorrow and pain with his beloved brother and best friend Max got killed when he was bucked off a horse in a rodeo a few years previous. Now his best friend and brother-in-law had been killed in about as horrifying a way as possible. 

Well, the very last time, practically, I ever saw Uncle Reed, we had come down the lane to Grandma's house, and Mother and Dad were down to the corrals talking to the men working there. Marion, Max, and Carol, Reed's daughter with the bad heart defect, were with us. We children got out of the car and ran up to the old ranch house to play. Margie and I had LaRae with us who was only three. She naturally wanted to play, too. 
 Nobody was living in the ranch house that winter. Grandma had gone to her home in Escalante and insisted Grandpa go with her. When we got close to the house I could hear Reed in there shouting as he often did when he was preaching a sermon to the spirits.
My cursed curiosity compelled me to open the door to try to hear more clearly what he was saying. I started moving inside, the other kids following me. It was only then that I noticed a pig carcass laying on the kitchen cutting table. A long sharp butcher knife was laying beside it. The hired men were still in the process of cutting up the meat.
I looked up and saw Reed coming fast out of the living room, rushing toward us. He looked furious maybe because we were interfering with his concentration. As though I was living in a slow motion nightmare, I watched him stop by the table and pick up the long sharp butcher knife. He turned and came toward us, shouting and waving the knife.
I figured he was the angriest at me because I was more a stranger to him and was the biggest child there, so should have known better than to try to eavesdrop on his sermons to the spirits.  I started running to get help as fast as I could. As I ran I prayed I would not hear a scream if he caught one of the children behind me with the butcher knife in his hand slashing at them.

I have never ran faster in my life, straight to Mother and Dad, stammering out what was happening with Uncle Reed. After they checked to see if all the children were safe, unbelievably they just turned away and started talking about something else. They did not bother even to go talk to Reed. I was deflated. I just did not think they understood how frightening Reed had been grabbing up a sharp butcher knife to chase us with.
If he had just hollered at us, told us to get out, we would have run away, but would not have thought anything of it. It was the fact that he picked up the butcher knife that scared me half out of my wits.
I thought well, I guess the grown-ups think since he didn't kill one of us so everything is okay.

I was all wrong about what the adults were thinking--

A week later the Sheriff and two other officers came to pick up Uncle Reed to take him to the State Hospital. Mother and Dad met them a little ways from where Uncle Reed was living with Aunt Thirza, still in the cheese factory house, so I was there. But I didn't know until I saw the Sheriff what they were even going to do.  Mother and Dad had not told me. 
I saw Reed start to cry as soon as he saw the officers. I will never forget him sobbing, “I will be good, I will be good. Please don't take me away.” They just told him to get ready, so he picked up his daughter Marion, calling her “Punkin” and kissed her good-bye.

Oh, I was so sad, so terribly sad, because basically Reed never came home again. I just did not know if the punishment fit the crime or if Reed was really too sick to handle the gift of freedom any more--- I thought about it for years. 

Uncle Reed became a legend in his own time in spite of his violence.  People remembered his witty sayings.  They remembered his love for his little daughters.  He had fought for his life through two terrible childhood illnesses, pneumonia and spinal meningitis.  Everybody tried to keep him from drinking.  They did not always succeed. When I was incarcerated in a mental ward years later, I thought now I am in Uncle Reed country.  

Friday, March 11, 2011

Memoir: Chapter 13: Traveling the new upper road over Hell's Backbone to Escalante where we went to school 2 months

The highlight of my second grade year was a two month visit to the second grade class in Escalante. Mother told Daddy that never again would she stay all winter in Salt Gulch, so after the new year she must have gathered up her brood of four and went to Escalante to stay to Grandma King's house. I don't know if Grandma King was there or not, but Daddy was allowed to visit occasionally. Grandpa Wilson might have rustled up a job teaching high school in Escalante, and I know they lived in the King house one winter in Escalante so we may have lived with them. LaRae would have been walking all over since she was two years old.  I seem to remember her getting a lot of attention with her big eyes and thick hair.  I was seven so Ann would have been born that December in Salt Gulch before Mother took us to live in Escalante.  
We regularly traveled to Escalante on what was called the upper road over Hell's Backbone. Crossing Hell's Backbone bridge was always the worst of the trip for me. I would always ask to walk across the bridge rather than be driven in a car, but was never allowed to indulge my cowardly fears. I just did not trust that bridge! Down in Sand Creek you could look up and see this bridge way up in the air spanning two deep canyons on either side. It just looked very dangerous. When anyone talked about going to the Grand Canyon I always said I did not want to go as I thought I had seen enough deep canyons in my life, I didn't need to see any more.  

I guess I had heard too many stories about how the Escalante cat skinner, “Sixty McInelly” had crossed a dangerous temporary bridge made of planks with his 'cat' to connect the road over two deep canyons. He did not even tell his pregnant wife what he was going to do for fear she would go into labor out of fright. Everybody clapped when Sixty rolled up on the other side without plunging with his heavy cat to the bottom of the gorge. 
The CCC boys had been contracted to build the road so the mail could be brought to Boulder by truck instead of mules. After all, it was 1938. The CCC boys built a lot of roads so why not this one?

Now these same CCC boys were building a road over what they called the lower road into Boulder which was nothing more than a rough wagon trail over sand rock and deep sand. I always asked to be allowed to walk up Thompson's Turnover but was hardly ever allowed to do that either. So Margie and I would lay down in the back of the car and pray while Daddy would sometimes have to make three runs on that hill before he made it to the top in his gutless car. I prayed we would not be like Thompson and turn over into the canyon. There was always a deep canyon to fall into on those old roads.
It did take Daddy a long time to go over the old or the upper road to Escalante to buy a drink. The new faster lower road would probably cause him to become a worse drunk.
I think Mother was half way trying to leave him when she went as far away from him as Escalante to spend a couple of months. I loved my teacher there who taught the second grade.  Her name was Mrs. Helen Schow and she was young and enthusiastic like Golda Petersen had been. Margie got an older teacher named Mrs. Lee in the first grade but she knew her business.
Margie and I made friends with two sisters in Escalante who were the same age as we were named Jean and Joan. I envied them so because their mother combed their hair into ringlets every single day, and she dressed them in the latest fashion. Mother made our dresses but she always hemmed them too long on the grounds that we would grow out of them. They would be in tatters by the second year, but in the meantime we would have to go around in new dresses below the knees like two little old ladies. 
 I think Mother was suspicious of little girls dressed in short dresses with long hair. She never got used to how long straight hair looked since she and her sister had curly hair. Every picture she took of us when our hair was long, we had hairdos that made us look like we were forty years old. Mother's idea of a decent hairdo was not chic. I did not get to wear my long blond hair hanging down my back until I left home.

Well, we had to go home to the ranch some time, so finally Daddy talked Mother into moving back to Salt Gulch just as the spring work was starting. I knew my work load would start up again, too, as now there were two little kids under three to watch when Mother gardened and bottled. But a wonderful thing happened. Bill decided not to work for Daddy anymore so I told Daddy when haying time came I would drive the team hooked to the hay wagon and stomp the hay all day, too.
All I can say is that it was a good thing I waited until I was nearly eight to start doing a man's job. I would be exhausted by the time I stomped hay all day. But I loved driving swaybacked old Pet and her mate. She was the best old dear. She never acted up at all. I told Daddy she was the most patient hardworking old work mare I could imagine. I could hardly wait for Pat, her son, to get old enough to break to the harness.He surely would not be like old Fred, the King's prize work horse in Boulder, who would surely have run away with me, being such a young inexperienced driver. 
But by the time Daddy broke Pat, Old Pet was gone, and the work horse age was coming to an end in that country! Mother eventually tried to persuade everyone to buy Case tractors after she became the dealer
There was still some more upset to come due to the violence of men, but I don't have the strength to write about that today. I will end this chapter with my salute to good old Pet and all the workhorses who worked for mankind for centuries. I could just cry when I think of their faithful service. I think that was also the year that I was looking everywhere for stories about horses. We did still ride the cow ponies and always would on the rough cattle trails. 
Daddy told me when I was a year or two older he would take me to punch cows in Sand Creek where his winter cattle range was in Salt Gulch. I could hardly wait. Riding horses provided me with the purest joy in life I was ever to know in childhood.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Memoir: Chapter 12: A baby angel is sent to our family

I started to read adult fare in the second grade. I just did not think I could wait any longer to find out if there was anything in books that might explain to me what had happened to my father to cause him to behave so differently from how fathers and married men were supposed to act according to my once innocent conception of them. 
Golda Petersen, my first grade teacher, further spurred me on by having a story writing contest for the first four grades she taught in the little room. I did not trust her enough to write about real events as they were transpiring tin my life then,  so I just made up an out and out fairy story. I thought all the fairy stories had already been written long ago so mine would not be acceptable, but to my surprise Miss Petersen awarded me first prize. I don't know but what my winning while being the youngest child in school caused some of the older students to think I was the teacher's pet, but it promptly convinced me I should become a writer.
In the second grade my new teacher, Mrs. Hansen, was quite annoyed when I suggested I might be allowed to go into the big room to look for more interesting books to read. She said I certainly could not, so I started looking around the house to see if I could not tackle some quite simple reading material that my mother and dad were reading on a regular basis. Mother subscribed to as many magazines as she thought my dad would pay for, and I soon located a story in the Saturday Evening post I thought I might be able to get through about two characters named Babe and Little Joe. 
 I had no trouble at all reading the first story, so after that I just read anything Mother and Dad read. I soon did not even read Babe and Little Joe with a lot of interest since little Babe was just too sweet and innocent to even be believable. Nothing ever happened to her that remotely resembled what went on in my life.
I can't tell you what a huge disappointment Zane Grey as a western novel writer was to me. I borrowed every Zane Grey novel I could, hoping each might be better. Mother refused to buy Zane Grey because she and Daddy thought western novels were beneath their intelligence. Hmm, I could see why they did not relate. Nobody in those novels acted remotely like them. Mothers did not spank their kids for nothing, and Dads did not get drunk and still ride their horses very well out in the bad lands with the apt name of "Down Below". 
I do not know where Zane Grey got his information about the wild west, but about all he got right I thought were his descriptions of the canyons and mesas. And good descriptive writing did not satisfy me. I needed novels with more harsh reality in them than Zane Grey seemed capable of grasping.
I was doomed to be disappointed quite often in novels about the west over the next few years, which was why I determined I would grow up and write about the real wild west. I decided I wouldn't care if my stories disgusted the religious and horrified the old, I would tell nothing but the truth. All these pretty stories were nothing but lies and cover-up and did not help at all in sorting out my experiences in life which had taken such a hard turn to the dark side.  
I did not get to read a whole lot in Salt Gulch I had to work so hard, and neither did Mother. But she was my best source of reading material for years. She would do anything to come by a book to read. 
For a while we took Grit Magazine and I used to look forward every week to reading the serial. I even read Grandma King's relief society magazine stories and I had to be desperate to read those, the little boys and girls in that magazine were so sheltered, I could not believe they were real either. Who were these authors kidding? I wondered if Grandma had thought she could pattern her own boys' lives after theirs. If so it was a false hope. 
Now her second the youngest son had caused my mother to get pregnant again with her fourth child that she no more wanted than an elephant to raise along with her other three who were already about three too many with all she had to put up with.
That was about when Daddy started us to saving his dogey calves and every other critter on that place that lost its mother, as if we already didn't have enough chores to do. He would even bring us baby rabbits he found in the fields after he mowed the hay.  They would just die upsetting us and him, making us feel like failures as substitute mothers  You cannot save wild baby rabbits! 
We didn't even have time to go to church most of the time even though Mother loved to go she said to get away from all the work expected of her a few hours. I suspected that is why all the ladies in town were such faithful church goers. That was how they took the day off without feeling guilty! I thought they were still gluttons for punishment to listen to all that dull preaching on the only day they had an excuse to relax. 
Daddy would be home nursing a hangover from his Saturday night party. The only time he went to church was to bless one of his kids if he even managed to do that. Mother had gotten angry with him each time he had failed to be present when one of his children was blessed.  She was keeping count. In her eyes this was a major crime and surely meant he would burn in hell's fires.  As a matter of fact, I did not see how he could ever escape hell's fires even if we were able to persuade him to stay alive long enough for us children to be able to survive his passing. Mother's temper was simply too bad for her to be able to raise us.  The possibility of either one of them left alone to raise us was just not acceptable.     

Mother had decided to have her fourth child in Salt Gulch. She had persuaded or maybe even demanded Grandpa and Grandpa Wilson come over there and deliver it. Imagine! Her own Dad! She said she and Daddy just could not afford for her to go to Richfield to have a baby in a hospital. Grandpa did not want to do it, but he had to or his headstrong daughter might have tried to have it by herself and he could not let that happen! You never knew what reckless thing my strong willed mother might do to get her way. He probably knew he could not get out of it.
Well, Grandma and Grandpa had the worst time getting that fourth kid born. Grandma described over and over in years to come how Grandpa tried to coax that kid out for hours, maybe days until Grandma herself finally went in and laid down on the bed with a heart attack.
Grandpa had to persuade shy Baby Ann to come out and face a hard world with the help of fat Ellen Thompson, a mid wife's helper he told my dad to bring to Mother's bedside in a dire emergency. Mother said he had to pull the baby out with some nasty forceps that caused him to have to reshape her head entirely once she was born.  But Mother always exaggerated. I didn't quite believe every detail of her terrible stories.  Life for her seemed to have become one long horror filled nightmare. But we were probably lucky Ann was't brain damaged.  Or maybe she was but we just didn't know it! 
She turned out to be the first redhead born in our family. That was always her claim to fame. That and having been born in a real log cabin just like Abraham Lincoln who was a saint, too.
Grandpa was so mad over the very real scare he got trying to save Mother and her baby, he told Mother right then and there he would never deliver one of her babies again, and she just better not ask him to! 
Ellen Thompson stayed two weeks. I remember her doing a lot of work Margie and I might have had to do. She was so heavy she could hardly walk so I was surprised she was willing to relieve us child laborers. She probably did not know she could get a lot of work out of children, which a woman who believes in corporal punishment can more easily do. Mother believed in working her children so she could be free to pursue more interesting tasks.  By our age, we did whatever we could to please her, knowing a whole lot worse could happen if we didn't!
Mother was so long getting back on her feet, I got a little bit scared she still might be dying. But she said she was having her first good rest since LaRae was born even if she had to nearly die to be allowed to stay in bed a few days.  
After about three days Mother caught sight of Margie and me and made us come to her bed while she took a pair of scissors and whacked our hair off clear above our ears. And then she told us we had to go to church. I was mortified over her savage hair cut that amounted to cruelty to helpless animals but I was happy to report to our Sunday school class we had a little red headed sister.
You have never seen such a glorious head of strawberry blond hair as that child developed. It grew in looking exactly like a halo. To add to her heavenly appearance, she had one of the sweetest dispositions a child could ever have. I doubt  she even cried. 
Her hair was such an indescribable incandescent strawberry blond it made people stop in their tracks and stare. I am telling you it was a good thing her hair calmed down when she got older as that is all anybody talked about when they saw her.  Her hair, hair, hair. 
Even after her hair went a little darker, although still gloriously wavy, visiting relatives from afar would want to see the child with the halo of strawberry gold hair. I could see from the sensation Ann's hair caused, why people would come from far and wide to see the little Lord Jesus. They could probably see holiness in his eyes. Ann was a real little baby angel with the hair to match and has remained so to this very day.
I am sure the Lord saw that if ever a family needed an angel in their midst it was this one. And sent Ann.  

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Memoir: Chapter eleven: A school girl who instantly hated Dick, Jane, and Spot

The fall after I turned six I went to school for the first time riding the bus to Boulder with the Salt Gulch kids who lived there year around which included Frank and Barbara Coleman and Marilyn and Mack, step children of Morias Hall. Morias had married their mother Marie and brought her to Boulder. She was now pregnant with their second child. 
I had been studying how people lived who did not tolerate alcoholism in their home. Barbara's father, Parley, did not own a ranch as large as my father's Salt Gulch ranch, nor were the water rights as good, but I thought he and his wife Esther lived a more sensible life with their eleven children than my mother and dad did with only three children. Parley did not drink and neither did his boys. 
As far as I could see Barbara's parents never quarreled at all and seemed content with simple entertainments they came up with to keep their children occupied. The kids played all kinds of games and Barbara and Gay were delightful teachers. They  showed Margie and me how much fun we could have playing steal the house in their pasture, and making squaberry beer, and fashioning hollyhock dolls. Sometimes their older sister Leah, who had worked for us at the cheese factory house, would play with us which was even more fun.I always liked it when older kids took an interest in us younger ones. 
Although Barbara and Gay had no horses to ride--their father and older brothers had to use them for farming--they possessed a great deal of nerve. Barbara would even handle snakes when she found them which always caused me to run home. I had developed a phobia about snakes. I had nightmares about them. 
Barbara had also been taken to all the notable places to hike to by her older brothers and sisters. The general history of Salt Gulch the family knew well from living there a long time. She said she would guide me on hikes so I could see all the sights there were to see in Salt Gulch. She even volunteered to take me on hikes in Boulder, once I was old enough. But her family was very proud of the rugged Salt Gulch terrain which they seemed to think was quite as spectacular as the Boulder side. I could hardly wait for summer to come so I could go to legendary places in that country led by an expert like Barbara. She did not know what my father's home town of Escalante was all about but she sure knew the country.

Marilyn, a couple of years older, was very beautiful but did not like Salt Gulch at all. She had been sad about leaving the big city. I felt sorry for her because she had never wanted to be a pioneer girl as I had. I always figured if I could not cross the plains in a covered wagon pulled by oxen, I could still live a primitive pioneer's life on a ranch my grandfather had homesteaded.  
When I got to school I found out there was another girl, Elaine, in the first grade who was from a large family, too. Elaine and Barbara were distantly related. I soon surmised her father was not an alcoholic either, so their home was bound to be more peaceful than ours. I thought Elaine was as beautiful as Marilyn, with her elegant long nose and big almond shaped dark eyes. 
LaRell was the only boy in our class. I felt very sorry for him because his dad had died of a heart ailment a year or so before leaving his mother on a little sandy ranch with eight children to raise and hardly any water rights. They missed their gentle lovable father very badly because they were now dreadfully poor with none of the boys big enough to go to work except Hayward.
But my greatest joy that year was to be my teacher, Golda Petersen, who had been persuaded to teach in Boulder that year but said she was going to leave the following year to go to Wayne Country to marry her fiance, Hans Jackson, another teacher. Golda was red headed and very kind. She made a special point to tell me that she had three younger sisters she dearly loved, who were all red headed! I thought my sisters had beautiful hair, too, but it was not red even though I was very proud to have a red headed Grandmother King. 
In the first grade, I regret to say that I did not like Dick and Jane and Spot at all. I can't tell you how those first grade primers aggravated me. Mother was confused and could not figure out why I so passionately hated Dick, Jane, and Spot. I thought it was too risky to tell her that no children were as simple minded and ignorant about life as Dick and Jane. I just could not wait to get to more interesting books to read. As far as I could see all the primers, even for the grades above me, had the same excruciatingly boring stories in them. 
I could not wait to get to the novels Mother loved to read to my Dad's disgust that might enlighten me about the problems that bedeviled my life.

Given my penchant for analyzing problems I had already concluded that Grandma King with her love of socializing in church had inadvertently done a bad thing moving to Escalante every winter so her children could attend better schools. I doubted if the boys had gotten any better education than the children were getting in the two room school house in Boulder the parents had insisted on building. Why hadn't Grandma and Grandpa King decided to send their kids to the Boulder school, such as it was, allowing husband, wife, and kids to stay together the year around? 
Perhaps it had been the custom back then for some of the women to move to a bigger town in the winter, but I thought it had been a terrible mistake because on her own Grandma was not able to control those wild boys of hers! They needed Grandpa King's stronger hand at all times, even if he applied the bull whip when extremely exasperated. In fact, they got so out of control during the winter, that was probably why he was driven to the bullwhip to try to straighten them out come summer.
I could see from what my cousin Ray had learned in Escalante that he revealed to me on rare visits how my dad and his brothers must have acted at his age. They had undoubtedly tampered with alcohol and tobacco, and since they did not have a ranch in Escalante, were far too idle in town during the winter months when they should have been kept so busy with chores they would not have had time to get into mischief.
Living in town might have seemed more entertaining to Grandma and Aunt Hazel who were saintly women and loved a big town relief society, but why hadn't they seen that town was no good for their boys who tampered with alcohol every one of them even while children!
In fact, since Grandpa King had not married until he was thirty I could not help but wonder if he had fallen into the same temptations as my dad might have done during his teen and bachelor years, which might have caused him to prefer that Grandma live in town while he stayed on the ranch with the hired men! 
Oh, the things I thought about after I was molested that were not to be found in the Dick and Jane and Spot first grade primers! But I thought studying these heavy problems was crucial to my survival, because even though I was now able to keep that molester at bay, every single weekend, my father, who I thought of as two men, came home to disturb the peace of our home with his drunken antics. 

By this point in her marriage, my mother seemed to go slightly insane every time she saw her husband drunk. She would immediately start calling him names and she would fight with him sometimes all night long! She just could not be calm when she saw that he had altered his total personality in a state of drunkenness she could not and would not tolerate without a violent protest. She would always say she had not been raised that way.  Her dad and brothers kept the Mormon Word of Wisdom.  And never drank.  

Therefore Grandma and Grandpa Wilson did not understand alcoholics nor it seemed did Grandma and Grandpa King, since Grandpa was not alcoholic even though his four sons were and some of his grandsons! Some of Grandpa's hired men even got drunk regularly on their days off.
In school, I realized that I was the poor little daughter of a bad town drunk right away from some of the names the school boys would call me at recess, like “Two-fingered Joe!” Hurt, I did not see why they would call me by my father's drunk name, but some of the boys seemed proud they knew what he was called by his drinking buddies. These were the wild boys in school who had older brothers and uncles in their families who partied and drank.
Some of them aspired to grow up and drink too as well as ride horses and punch cattle. Some even stole their mothers' vanilla which they called 'black alky' and got drunk when they were mere children.  
There was a lot to learn at recess, too, that was not contained in those little books about Dick and Jane and Spot. How long was I going to have to wait until I could read novels? I surmised that I was never going to find any real information in children's books. 

Fairy stories like Hansel and Gretel were about all I related to, where the poor parents had no money to feed their children and took them out in the forest for the wolves to eat, but guess what, Hansel dropped little rocks and the kids found their way home to be tolerated I supposed by the parents for a while longer until their money ran out again. 
I thought Hansel and Gretel were frightfully forgiving. I doubted if I would have been that anxious to get back to those parents. Those kids tried so hard to find their way back home so they could be treated the same way all over again! Except maybe the rest of the world was even colder when you thought about what the old witch did to Hansel, fattening him up just like you would a pig or a chicken to kill and eat. 
No, Hansel and Gretel did not seem to belong to the same world as Dick, Jane, and Spot. I was surprised we were even allowed to read such a tragic story about brutal parents that just seemed to be the norm.