Wednesday, February 2, 2011


After losing his mother changes were made in the family’s lifestyle. The ranch was leased out and Grandpa Haggerty moved them into the nearby town of Union. After her death there were several people in the community that came into their life to help their dad with housekeeping and child care. One of these families was the Cadwells. They had two boys and one girl. The boy closest to dad’s age was called Fat and what his real name was I do not know, however when I met him as a little 5 year old girl that was still his name and it remained until his death. Fat went on to be a farmer, his older brother left the small town life to work for Standard Oil in San Francisco and his little sister married a local farmer and stayed in the county. The Cadwells home was always open to the Haggerty children and dad told many stories about time spent there. Mrs. Cadwell supplied childcare for the recently widowed father and they all felt at home with this family. My favorite story from dad was about a trick Fat played on them. They all piled in bed, just like today’s sleepovers, and Fat said cover your head I am going to spit in the ocean. Thinking that he was going to spit on them they dove under the covers only to suffocate from Fat breaking wind! During my childhood just the mention of spitting in the ocean brought torrents of laughter. Oh for those simpler less sophisticated times! Their housekeeper was Mrs. Kamberg. She was a widowed mother. She kept the laundry done and the house clean as well as put good meals on the table. Her son Bert was a life long friend of dad’s even though they lived in different states most of their adult life. Bert would often stop by when he was in Portland and I remember him and his wife well. Unfortunately, he had developed arthritis as a young man and it caused him to be bent over from a young age. He was a very successful business man inspite of his handicap.
In those days Union, was like most small towns, self contained. A mix of horse drawn carriages or wagons and a sprinkling of automobiles provided the main transportation. It took too long to get to the largest town in the county that might have more to chose from so everything the citizens needed to survive was available at the local merchants. The butcher shop cut meat as you requested, the hardware served the needs of the townpeople as well as supplies for the surrounding farms and ranches. Clothing was available from work clothes to wedding dresses in the small department store and a dime store supplied a variety of fabrics, yarn, embroidery thread and all the supplies needed to create the finished product. After moving to town my Grandfather bought a general store which supplied groceries and other items not found in the other stores. There was a creamery, a flour mill and a lumber mill and all these supplied jobs to the townspeople.
Grandpa had been a miner before he married my grandmother and they moved to the Wilkinson family 750 acre homestead where my grandmother and subsequently her children were both born.. He had carried on there with his cheese business and the milk ranch, but now he found himself a widower with three children. He was not a young man as he was 40 when my dad his oldest child was born and was now in his fifties. In those days it was unusual to start anew at his age but he had a family to support and educate.
After moving to town my Grandfather bought a general store which supplied groceries and other items not found in the other stores. He was a popular merchant for several reasons. His store carried the necessities, he had a quick wit and he was a very loving and caring man. Unforturnately the latter characteristic was eventually his undoing. In the late 30’s early 40’s things began to change in Union and a new grocery store opened called Cash and Carry. Those words created the dynamic that spelled the end of Grandpa’s store. The reason - the name meant what it said. You pay cash and I can turn that money around into filing my store with the a larger variety of fresh groceries. In Grandpa’s store the customers ran a tab and paid when they could. This crippled the ability to maintain a steady flow of fresh items that were in demand as cash was not always available and in those days the suppliers did not wait for their money. They brought the produce, canned goods, etc., etc. and you payed for it.. The world was changing and the old-fashioned ways were changing. Sadly many of the customers abandoned the Haggerty General Store leaving behind unpaid tabs and Grandpa was forced out of business. I remember being in his store when I was very young. It was not long after the end of the store, when, I was six, that my parents bought the ranch from Grandpa. My life was then imprinted with the beauty of open space, and the joy of feeling at home in a small town where the merchants knew you and it was safe to roam freely.

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