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Bob M

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About 1910 George Shadbolt Sr. was asked what "'modern" technology he most appreciated. He had the Churn Ranch 20 miles southeast of Merriman. His quick reply was the Rockford Bridge. Before that he had to ford the swift moving Niobrara whenever he went for supplies or for any other purpose.

In my present status the automatic dishwasher about tops my list. My brother, Stan, and I did a lot of dishes before we became of age. Neither of us liked either the washing or the wiping part of the procedure but we hated the washiing job the worst. Early in the spring a mother cat had several kittens. Stan fell in love with the whole batch and didn't want to share them. In a way, I hated to take advantage of him but I could tell he wanted the kittens bad enough that he'd be willing to sacrifice so I told him he could have my share of the kittens if he'd wash the dishes all summer, until school started, and I would do the wiping. Stan fell for the idea and came to realize that was a long, hard summer!

As we got older, washing dishes still wasn't our favorite pastime. We batched two or three years on the old Bar T which we renamed the Green Valley Ranch, before either of us got married. We were going to work cattle through the chute one fall day and needed extra help. Dad agreed to come out. He was distraught to see quite a few dirty dishes. I guess he thought he'd teach us a lesson so he refused o help with the cattle until he got the dishes washed. We didn't have a sink. It involved going out to the pump on the back side of the house, carrying in water and heating it on the New Perfection kerosene stove.

Stan and I decided to go it alone but we were very much hampered and needed an extra man. After a couple hours, Dad still hadn't showed up. Stan decided to go up to the house to see if he was about ready to give us some help. The water was evidently getting cold in the dishpan. Stan had been a mess sergeant in the army and did the "finger test" on one of the plates on top of the pile that he had washed. It left a greasy trail on the plate. Stan said, "It doesn't look like you're getting these dishes very clean". Dad said, "I know it. I was figuring on washing them again". I don't think Dad ever did make it down to the corral before noon but I think he did transplant the suggesion into our thinking that we should keep our dishwashing a little more current!

Concerning the differnt lifestyle we lead in the 21st century, Stan wrote this story a few years before he passed away. It is entitled:

THE LITTLE SHACK AT THE END OF THE PATH

Several years ago we were helping brand calves at Jack Cobb's ranch south of Merriman. Jack and Rich had their cows and calves in a huge pasture with the Niobrara River running down the middle of it. We were instructed to take everything into the corral. By that time it would be noon and we'd go to the ranch house for dinner. There were probably ten riders on each side of the river spooking the herd out of the cedar trees and canyons.

Steve Moreland, his young son, Will and I were riding on the north side of the river. We came upon Jack's log cabin which really fascinated Will. I saw him go over to his dad and ask him a question. When he came back to where I was he had a smug look on his face. He said, Uncle Stan, I'll bet you don't know what that little building is behind the cabin". I think I about broke his heart when I told him we had an outside "biffy" just like that until after I was married.

The absence of electricity and running water was never a concern to Will and his generation, but now he knows how some of his relatives had to live in "the good old days".
 

Cal

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Soapweed, on my one day off this summer :lol: we canoed down the Niobrara past where there were a number of names carved into the side of the bank up above the river. I saw your cousin Ken's name, and my wife said she saw your name. Do you remember doing that? Some of the dates were from the 80's. Maybe earlier?
 

Soapweed

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I remember carving my name, but not what year. Canoeing that stretch of river is always fun. One time we stopped by your grandparents' old ranch. I took a photo of your grandmother's red dancing slippers on top of their old piano, and it made for an interesting picture. They were always energetic, young-at-heart fun-loving folks, and they loved to go square dancing. Good memories.
 

Cal

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Thanks Soapweed, hope to get the chance to see that picture someday. When my great grandparents initially decided to put that house there, they must have wanted to make it a challenge to get out. Scenic location, but that road up the hill is a booger. Too bad it burned down two years ago, but was getting in bad shape.
 

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