Monday, March 29, 2010

Welcome Karen

We should all welcome Karen Ella to our blog. Karen is the youngest daughter of Ed and Janet Cottle (Ed is my youngest brother). And notice the second name - ring a bell with any of the people in The Cottle Family History. Welcome aboard Karen.

Things change for Alice - again

Part Nine – Things change for Alice – Again!
March 28, 1918 is a cool spring day at the Cottle Ranch/homestead in Stone, Idaho, with just enough bite in the air to remind one of the winter past and just enough warmth in the sun to hint of the spring to come. Thomas is feeling rather good about life in general and his life in particular as he surveys the barns and corrals where some of the livestock, including a couple of new born calves, are soaking up the spring sunshine. On the national scene the country is bouncing back after yet another stock market crash – and it looks like the long and bloody WWI is finally coming to an end - so the troops will be returning soon and that is a good sign for farmers and ranchers what with commodity prices going nowhere but up. In his own family, Thomas also has reason to feel good. Alice has not only plugged the hole in his heart left by the sudden death of his beloved Ella but has proved a loving mother to his children and an efficient household manager. Leland T. is now a strapping 17 year old young man, with a gentle disposition, a knack for fixing things (it was later said of Leland, “give him a pair of pliers and some baling wire and he could fix anything”) and a proclivity for hard work. His other children from his first marriage, Loretta, Dewey and Ella are entering into their teen years and are a real help around the house and barns. And Clara, Alice’s child from her first marriage, at age 13 remains the apple of Thomas’s eye. After Alice and Thomas marry “3 more children come from this union, Charles, Charlotte and Sterling” (Alice).
So life is good thinks Thomas – But then he chides himself for daydreaming and heads up to the house for lunch. When he arrives Alice is busy rocking baby Sterling but Thomas still walks over and “kinda tickles the back of her neck, a secret way they had of showing affection to one another” (Clara). Then Thomas remembers he has forgotten to feed his favorite horse. “Just keep that lunch warm for a minute, Clara and I’ll be right back!”
The minutes tick by, Clara and Loretta go to the window several times to see if Papa is coming up the path from the barn.
“Don’t worry,” says world wise 14 year Dewey, “that old nag of Papa’s just loves to have his ears scratched before he will eat, Papa will be along shortly.”
“I hope he hurries, I made his favorite sandwich for lunch,” murmurs Clara.
The time drags on. Finally, Alice says, with just a little tremor in her voice. “Dewey, go see what is keeping Papa – tell him his lunch is getting cold and we will eat without him if he doesn’t hustle.”
In no time Dewey returns, but not with Papa, instead he is running full blast, screaming, “Momma, Momma, come quickly something has happened to Papa.”
Everyone joins Dewey and, with a mounting trepidation, they quickly traverse the path back to the barn. And there they discover Papa, looking for all the world like he is just taking a nap. “He was walking up the hill and fell backward, the pitch fork still over his shoulder, both hands holding the handle, one foot in front of the other, just taking a step – his favorite hat still perched on his head” (Clara). And so Thomas Henry Cottle, 41 years old, dies of a massive heart attack. He is at the prime of his life. He leaves behind a grieving widow (twice) Alice and 8 children – the oldest Leland is 17 and the youngest Sterling a mere one year old todler. So here is Alice Kemp Anderson Cottle, a widow for the second at age 36, with 8 young children to raise and a farm to run. In the words of Clara “It was hard. I remember thinking how could Mother do it? But we must take sadness in this world also.”
Tune in next week and see what is in store next for our plucky young heroine Alice Kemp Anderson Cottle as he fights to keep family and homestead together.