Part of a series of interviews done by the Imnaha School Kids in 1987.
Interviewer: Darla Marks
Q. What is your name?
A. My name is Wayne Marks.
Q. How long have you lived here in this area?
A. I was born May 20, 1918 in Asotin, Washington. I have lived on the Imnaha River since September of 1919, or about 68 years.
Q. What do you like about living here?
A. There is something about this area that is home to me. I love the hills and the river. We can hunt and fish and grow most any kind of fruit and garden vegetable. I like to visit with our friends and neighbors, even they don’t live too close, but they are all good people. I have always loved the ranch life, and to see the little calves, colts and occasionally little puppies. I like to see the calves in the fall when you realize how they grew from the Spring before. I like to see deer and elk on the hills. In springtime, there isn’t anything much cuter than a baby fawn or a little calf elk.
Q. How many people lived here when you first came?
A. Probably twice as many or more people lived on the Imnaha River when I first came, as there were alot of families and homesteads where people lived. Q. What was life like then?
A. When I first came to the river we travelled by team and wagon or on horseback. we didn’t have many roads and I can remember Dad would try to haul enough supplies form town to last through the winter. It was a two day drive to town with a team and wagon and two days coming back home. I can remember after I got old enough to go with him, it was always an argument with my older brother to find out who was going along. We raised our own hogs and always had chickens. Dad cured our own bacon and hams. He always used green alder wood to smoke the meat. We didn’t have refrigeration then. We had beef to eat quite often, usually a criplle or sometimes one that slid or fell off a rim if we could get to it in time. We ate alot of canned meat. During the earlier years, our phone service was very poor and alot of the times a crank type of phonograph and later radios were a prized possession. I can remember using kerosene lamps and lanterns. Later on Alladin lamps when they came about. I remember a lot of times in the evenings we played checkers and later cards. A lot of people played cribbage during this period.
Q. What changes have taken place since then?
A. A lot of changes have come about in the last 30 to 40 years. We have good roads now and you seldom see a team and wagon. Kerosene lights are a thing of the past. Power equipment has taken the place of horse drawn farm equipment. Hay balers and stackers have replaced the old style method of raking and shocking and stacking loose hay. We have good fast cars now. You find the ones made in the 1920-1930’s mostly in antique shops, some with pretty high prices on them. We see planes flying over quite often now, where they weren’t even thought of before. Since 1960 we have had electricity in the Imnaha area and things have changed considerable. Electric deep freezes and refrigerators have replaced ice houses. People used to pack ice blocks in sawdust in what they called their ice house, you never har of such anymore. If an ice house was built right, ice would keep most of the summer.
Q. How did these changes affect you?
A. I think the most and best thing that ever happened here was when we got electricity. Now you can push a button or turn a switch and you have lights or power to run a motor such as a pump or saw. You don’t have to put up with a lantern or lamp. A lot of people have settlite discs for television which wasn’t even heard of before. We have a good telephone service now and good roads. I f we get short of food or anything now, we can get it in a short time. Also if anybody needs a doctor we can call or go out in about an hour.
Q. Which changes affected you the most?
A. I think the most drastic change in this area was when electricity came. It made possible a lot better telephone service, lights, power and was about the only way people down in the canyon could get television. Q. What changes do you think will come to this community in the near future?
A. I think in the future we will see more recreation facilities along the river. Alot of people are beginning to realize what is here and want to take care of it. Q. What was school like when you first came here?
A. I think there were five or six schools on the river at one time in the early days. I went to the Freezeout School for 9 years. I took the 9th grade here which they wouldn’t allow now. Most all the school houses were one room and an anteroom for coats, brooms, wood, water bucket and what not. One teacher usually taught all eight grades. I remember one year there were 21 pupils in our school.
Q. How did you get to school?
A. We rode horseback for four miles and after we got older we walked part of the time if it was cold. We could walk that in about an hour but you didn’t stop to talk with anybody along the way.
Q. What subjects did you study in school?
A. I learned to read, write, spell and studied arithmatic, Geography and history. After graduating at the Freezeout School, I went 3 years to Enterprise High School and graduated in 1937.
Q. Where did your family get its food?
A. We raised alot of our own food such as meat and garden stuff. we had to buy flour, salt and sugar. Mother baked bread alot. I can remeber eating a lot of baking powder biscuits. We always had milk and homemade butter. There is an old wooden churn for butter here yet.
Q. What idd you do for fun when you wer little?
A. We played baseball, once in awhile football if somebody had one. We had a game we called Fox and Goose and Hide and Seek. We most all learned to fish and swim at an early age.
Q.What was farming like then?
A. We had two or three plows at one time what was called a foot burner. You walked behind and steered the plow and guided the two horses that pulled it. We mowed hay with a horse-drawn McCormick Deering mower which cut about a six foot swath. We used a dump rake to rake the hay into windrows and later put it in bunches with a pitchfork. This was called shocking. This was a horse-drawn rake which you tripped with your foot while you guided the team and sometimes you had to hang on with one hand. Later on after a day or two the hay would be pitched on to wagons or what they called slips and hauled to barns or stacks. We stacked the hay sometimes by hand, but usually had what was called a pole and arm derrick which lifted the hay around and placed it where you wanted it on the stack. We used a 4 tined fork called a Jackson fork and cables on the pole and arms derrick and used a horse or team to pull the cable and loads of hay on to the stack. we generally kept about six or eight head of work horses but sometimes not that many as the neighbors traded work, especially when it came to stacking. We always had about two wagons or slips hauling hay. One man on the stack and one out in the field, we called the pitcher, one derrick driver,usually a kid. The one who packed water to the workers was called the Water Boy and was usually one not old enough to work in the field. The Water Boy and derrick driver were sometimes girls. we always had to watch for rattlesnakes when haying too.
Q. Do you have a funny story from childhood you would like to share with us? A. I remember one time while we were still haying with horses, before we had a tractor, us kids always had chores to do at the barn. My younger brother, Dude and his friend could always think up more things to tease or job someone, they didn’t care much about the horses getting fed or the cow getting milked. This one night, I got the best of them at the barn one way or another. We went to the house. After supper, I went out and laid down on a bed or cot on the grass under the locust tree in the yard. Pretty soon I saw these two kids peek around the corner of the house. I knew something was going to happen, so I got up and went out on the lawn between Dad and the hired man. Pretty soon I heard the pump working. At that time we had a well back of the house. I hadn’t anymore than got out in the yard and Mother came out and lay down on that cot on the porch. Pretty quick seen them kids come around the house one on each side of the bucket packing a bucket full of water, I think a three gallon bucket. They just lifted it up there and threw it full length of that cot. Mother raised up and let a scream out of her. The neighbor kid who was rather fat and jolly said “Quick, Dude, that was your Mother!”. There was just two streaks going around the house. It was about nine o’clock before they showed up to go to bed that night, after dark. Of course, Mom thought it was kind of funny after she knew what it was all about. But for two or three nights after that, there wasn’t very much joking or jobbing going on.