Thursday, April 1, 2010

I have not posted to this family blog in quite a long time. We are on Spring Break, so I had some extra time and decided to post a new blog dedicated to my Grandma Birdie. Now that I am a grandma, I realize how wonderful grandchildren are. I was lucky to have a grandma whom I loved deeply. This is a copy of the beginning of the life sketch I gave at her funeral. I'll finish in the next blog:

In 1889 on the first day of December, William Ezekial Price married Ellen Joyce. They lived in Draper, Utah, and were blessed with many children. They loved giving them long formal names including both royalty and Presidents in their choices. While in Utah, they had Henry Ezekial, Pearl, Frances, William, Olive, Beatrice, and Wilhelmina Constance Birdie (my Grandma Birdie).

When Ellen was expecting Birdie, Willian travelled to Idaho and obtained some homesteading land in the Milo area. He left Ellen behind in Utah so that she could safely have her new baby. Birdie was born on November 29, 1901, and in the spring she moved to her new home in Idaho. There more brothers and sisters joined the family including Grace, Marcus McKinley, Wallace, Russell Poosevelt, and Cora Goldie.

Birdie had a happy childhood growing up in Milo. She usually walked to school; however, sometimes the Price children were able to take the horses. Birdie loved horses; she believed that you could tell if someone was really a good person by the way he treated his horses.

Birdie's formal schooling ended with the eighth grade, but she retained all she had learned at the Milo School and continued learning all her life. As a grandmother, she could still recite poems that she learned in school fifty years before. My favorite poem that I loved to hear was "Somebody's Mother."

When I asked how Birdie met and decided to marry Alfred Ritchie, I discovered that Fred knew this story. He said, "Daddy came along with his fancy horses and buggy and swept mom off her feet." According to Fred, there was no chance for Birdie's other suitors. I am sure that Alfred's kind and loving personality and sense of humor contributed to her decision, but the horses helped.

On October 21, 1917, Birdie married Alfred Coop Ritchie, but she always called him Alf. They started their life together on the old Ritchie homestead. Birdie loved Alf with all her heart. I remember teasing her about getting married so young, and she looked at me very seriously and said, "Vickie, I'm glad I did; he passed away so soon I had that many more years with him."

This young couple faced some real challenges the first few years of their marriage. They lost their first two babies, Harriet Ellen, born August 11, 1918, and baby Ritchie born April 20, 1920.
However, on May 19, 1921, they had a healthy baby boy. They named him after his father Alfred Ritchie. They called Alfred, "Fred" to avoid confusion, and he was the joy of their life. Birdie watched over him carefully. When someone said she was spoiling him, she replied, "I don't like to hear him cry."

Alf was equally proud of his new young son. He invented a carrier made out of a diaper that he could attach to the harness of his horse. After Birdie had fed Fred, Alf would take him out and let him enjoy the rocking motion of the horse. Little baby Fred would get mad when the horse ride ended. Anyone who knows Fred, knows how much he loves horses; now you know one of the reasons why.

Once Birdie left a young Fred inside the house and went outside for awhile. When she returned inside, Fred was nowhere to be found. She and Alf frantically looked for the child. There was a big ditch by the house, and they searched the length of it. Finally, they returned home in despair. At home they found a sleeping Fred. Birdie had a long cloth covering her sewing machine. Fred had curled up inside this "tent," oblivious to the anguish he was causing his parents. Birdie later told Fred that was one of the worst scares that she ever had.

A couple of years later on March 17, 1923, the couple had a beautiful daughter named Dorothy. Donna said she can remember her mom saying that she always held Dorothy's hand tightly when they went out because Dorothy was so pretty she was sure someone would steal her away.

In January of 1926 another daughter was born; the baby was premature and the midwife, sure the child would not survive, did not fill out a birth certificate. She took the small two-pound infant, wrapped her in cotton, and made an incubator out of a warm oven. Against all odds, Ruby survived and was given a birthdate of January 10th.

Three more daughters would be born to Birdie. Donna Mary born November 15, 1928; Joy May born July 13, 1931; and Shirley Jane born August 11, 1935. Shirley's birthdate was the same day as Birdie's first little daughter--only seventeen years later.

Birdie loved her children; she was a strict mother and an immaculate housekeeper. She believed in mopping the floor until the rinse water was entirely clean. "No use putting wax over dirt," she would say. Alf expected his children to treat their mother with respect. Sometimes if they did not, Birdie would tell them that when dad got home he would take care of this.

Birdie and Alf had a farm in the Coltman area, but then the Depression struck with full force, and times were very hard. they had to sell off equipment, horses, and land. They took the money they had left and bought a two-room house and two lots in Ucon. This small house was a home filled with love. Birdie was an excellent cook, and the kids loved her homemade bread and cinnamon rolls. She said the secret was in letting the dough rise twice. She had a bread pan that would make three loaves at a time. The kids would choose if they wanted bread with or without crust. Alf was an expert with sourdough. He made the world's best sourdough biscuits. ...

Well it is 12:30. Ryan is flying home tomorrow, so I need to head to bed, so I can make it to the airport tomorrow. We are all happy to see him. Aisha thinks he has had a LONG day at work. Keeley thinks he lives in the computer now.

I'll finish the Grandma Birdie life sketch in the next blog.