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RECOLLECTIONS OF THE WHITESIDE FAMILY

Jean Lougeay

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Lily, Daisy, Ollie and Dorothy lived together at the old home for many years, operating Whiteside Gardens where they sold plants, cut flowers and vegetables. They always looked for new, improved varieties and were most generous in sharing them. Whenever we visited they would take us for a walk in the garden and keep asking, "Do you have any of this? Oh, you must take some! " I don’t believe we ever went home empty handed and I still have flowers from there that very few others have.

Their purebred herd of cattle imported from Guernsey, were well-kept and cared for enabling them to sell quality milk, cream and butter. The dairy was spotless. It was all so clean that without being pasteurized, milk kept for a very long time. When my boys were small, we bought their whole milk for 60 cents a gallon, and cream so thick it couldn’t be poured.

Cats were another matter. They need not be pure-bred, nor even any particular breed; any stray alley cat was welcomed. As this was well-known, anyone who no longer wanted a cat simply dumped it on their door step and it had a home for life. All the cats slept in the barn and did a good job of keeping mice under control.

Out in the yard was a bench made from a big split log on which was kept a supply of small grains for the birds. One day I was nearby, talking with Lily and noticed quite a few cats strolling near the bench. I asked her whether they didn’t catch the birds. "Oh no! " she replied. "We told the kitties not to, so they wouldn’t do that! " Improbable as that seems, I never did see a cat even look at a bird. Perhaps having all the good rich milk they could hold had some part in that. They must also have told their big collie dogs not to bother the kitties as I never knew of a scuffle. A Peaceable Kingdom indeed.

Ray and his sisters differed somewhat in their attitudes toward the cats. The ladies’ feelings could be summed up by a quote, "Oh, we mustn’t speak harshly to the kitties! " Ray was kind to animals but didn’t feel they had priority. When visiting his sisters there often would be a horde of cats milling about and it took skill to negotiate a path between them. Now Ray was near-sighted and wore thick glasses; He was also portly and walked erect, even leaning back. So obviously it wasn’t easy to see the cats at his feet. His solution was to just forge ahead. If he stepped on one or shoved it with his foot he just murmured, "Oops, kitty" and kept on going.

There is an exciting story of the Whitesides younger days. The family had staked a claim to some land out west where there supposedly was gold. I assume it was in California during the Gold Rush days. To make the claim binding, someone would have to live there for a number of years, so Lawrence, the eldest boy, went out. He was mysteriously killed. Then Don, who I believe was the youngest of the family, went out and also was killed. Ray, the remaining son, was not interested in risking his life for the cause. So Lily, a true pioneer, took over. As I’ve indicated she was tiny but strong and determined.

Typically, she made friends with an Indian woman. One day when she returned to her cabin and opened the door a rattlesnake struck at her but she was able to quickly slam the door. Her Indian friend warned that this was no accident, but that someone had put the snake inside and teased it so that it would strike when the door was opened. She went to the claims office, explained the situation, and the deed was granted without the need for further occupation. I think that story sums up the Whiteside character.

 
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