UNCLE SAM SMITH
By his niece, Edith Smith
(See also article by his sister Martha My Three Brothers)
Uncle Sam, whom we loved, lived all our early years on his place next to ours. After selling that place to Jeff Thompson, lived on the Buck Smith Place on Turkey Creek in the Chiricahua Mountains. He farmed and worked hard for Henry Smith and was the best pal a bunch of kids ever had. Seldom was he cross with us and would laugh and talk with us, join in our games, hike with us, and was a good uncle and friend, even in our usual kid mischief way. Marylee and I often stayed at this place as our aunt Ollie Montgomery family had lived there, so we knew the place well. We learned a few lessons there. Auntie had warned us to stay away from the water trough, the weather was cold and kids just will get wet. But Marylee was determined to get something from the bottom of the trough, naturally she stooped in a position that was handy to SPAT, so Auntie gave Marylee a right SMART ONE, right where she needed it. I knew from the sound that it hurt, but Marylee knew from the feel and she said auntie had a paddle with pins in it.
We, four older kids, helped Uncle Sam harvest his corn – Archie, Charles, Marylee, and I. He had such a beautiful fat team to pull his wagon – Ted was a Strawberry Roan with black mane and tail, and Sis was a bright Bay with black mane and tail. Uncle Sam loved his horses and he treated them kindly and gently, therefore, they did everything he told them to do. He would tell them, "Go ahead" and when they would tug the wagon up the field rows far enough, he would say, "enough, Whoa" and they would stop until another command was given.
In school days we kids and Andy Hamilton who lived just west of Uncle Sam, often stopped in on our way home if Uncle Sam was there. He would set on the pot of his special soda beans with home cured ham hocks and afterwards he had very few beans or biscuits left. Sometimes when he was not home we would stop by and eat cold beans and biscuits, but he never did reprimand us, even if we left him short of beans and biscuits for his supper.
He often rode horseback with us in later years, and after Marylee and I got married, he would ride Charlie’s "Midnight" horse to the valley to visit. He loved to talk with Vernie and Freddie, our husbands, as well as all the Kambitsches. Those were great times.
In later years Uncle Sam went to work for Uncle Bert in Benson, but he worried so much that his beloved horses were being neglected while he was away. So he built a small shack close to my father’s place and worked at odd jobs. He lived frugally so money was not a big worry to him. He always lived a good, clean, honest life, as had been taught by his parents, the early Mormon settlers, Charles Pears Smith and Mary Wilkinson.
We knew one of Papa’s uncles, John Wilkinson, who visited us at the 5/4 home, called Uncle Jack. Marylee and I adored him. He liked our wild 4 O’clocks and we made bouquets for him, we kept him swamped with them. Each evening after we had milked the cow and were on our way home, we would stop by the plants to pick a pretty bouquet for Uncle. He told us he put a bouquet on each side of his pillow so no matter which way he turned he could still smell the sweet perfume.
Oh! The sweet memories one recalls of childhood days. There were visits of Uncle Hyrum and Aunt Laura and family. Vermel was near our age and a good playmate, but when Margie came to visit us she was such a golden haired doll, we must have nearly kept her smothered as Marylee and I fought every day as to whose baby she would be that day.
Then our Uncle Charley’s visits from Bisbee (the shoe repair man for the soldiers at Ft. Huachuca. He would gather all the better shoes around our home as he was ready to leave, and then when he returned he would bring them back – such a lovely arm load of almost new firm looking SHOES, so polished, thick soles and new laces. Gee! How well I remember, it seemed like we all had an overhaul. We were so proud of those shoes and our uncle who could perform such great miracles.
We had visits from Aunt Martha and Rhoda and Walt, and sometimes Ben would drop by on a Sunday for a visit when he worked for Uncle William Riggs. We called him uncle William, as he was a brother to Aunt Martha’s, Branick Riggs, although, I don’t ever recall seeing Uncle Branick Riggs.
There were visits from Aunt Mary whenever some of her adult children could bring her. She raised her oldest daughter’s children after their parent’s death. She was kept busy right up until her olden years crept upon her. In 1939 the grandson had learned to drive and brought her for a visit.
They all loved Uncle Sam. As a teenager and a great reader, I enjoyed the continued stories in the magazines and Uncle Sam and I waited for their arrival in the mailbox every month. We really had some laughs recalling various incidents. After Uncle Sam’s death, March 6, 1940, there have been many times, I definitely heard his tuneless cheerful whistle. My brother, Charles, copies exactly – even my son, Norman, has much the same whistle, when he DOES decide to whistle. I looked out across the prairie where Uncle Sam used to come riding in, but NOWHERE, could I see him or Midnight anymore, and of course I feel lonely and BLUE.
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