Ashes and cinders were
whipped up and out of the bonfire by the now prevailing north wind. Bell
wiped them from her eyes before they could become an irritant. This fire set
exactly in front of the "lean to" where she and her family had lived, here
beside the river. If it was a miserable existence, she only had to think
back a few months before when they were at the mercy of the blowing sand in
the western part of the state where the dust bowl was raging.
Winter was approaching and
Joe was working fervently to try to get a log cabin finished. It was small
maybe fifteen foot by thirty foot. The log cabin was to serve to get them
through the frigid Oklahoma season coming up.
"Are you ready to get things
moved in the cabin?" Joe was a man of few words but when he was finished
with a project he was anxious to move on to the next step.
"It won't be much of a move
for me." "I think there is maybe thirty minutes required to pick up this
campground." "Dennis is getting worse with this cold he has." "We need to
get him inside." "Especially since the winds are switching to the north."
"We can't keep this "lean to" warm much longer.
The "lean to" to which Bell
referred was simply two long posts set at an angle out from a higher place
on two trees that were close together. Over these posts a canvas tarpaulin
was draped. The front of the lean to was always open allowing the heat of
the ever burning bonfire to keep the area warm and dry in case of rain. It
wasn't much of a camp but it was what they had. It was outdoors and because
the Osage were living around them they felt no intimidation from the
The move into the cabin was
easy and just in the time to save one of the two children who were ill. They
lost Inis to the measles. Now Bell was doing battle for her son, Dennis. He
was gravely ill with pneumonia.
The tired woman huddled close
to the stove with the child where a kettle there was continually sprinkled
with the herbs the Osage women gave her. No cold drafts were wanted at this
time and since the ground was too frozen to allow them a material (mud) for
chinking in between the logs, Joe took packed straw and shoved it between
the cracks to keep out the cold wind.
Joe had to spend time
bringing in game for their food and this made the bringing in of wood the
younger son, Lee's, responsibility. Lee was only a boy of eight. Children of
this time lived the realities for the necessity of fighting to live. He went
about the task of bringing in firewood with a serious dedication. Sometimes,
even the driftwood from the river which did not burn well was still used.
Their combined efforts gave Dennis a chance to live. The fever was fought
through and when it broke he was back with the living.
This cabin was also the one
where Elizabeth Ann Brewer Collins, Mrs. Nathaniel Stewart Collins, Bell's
mother, spent her last days. Some of the grandchildren told the story of
remembering their grandmother in bed, but having a weekly Bible study with a
visiting minister. Between visits she voraciously read the "Golden Age,"
which he left. Elizabeth Ann had been a Christian all her life. There are
saved receipts of as much as a forty dollar donation to her minister. At
that time when a loaf of bread was five cents this amounted to quite a
sizable donation. However, when she became ill she had no one to minister to
her spiritual needs. The visiting person who went from door to door called
on her and spent an hour a week with her in Bible study and it gave her
comfort before her death. She would have been very pleased to have seen a
Golden Age her children enjoyed. Yet, she will be even more greatly pleased
to see the ultimate Golden Age.