The following was written by Emfred Anderson about his mother. He said, “At times her latest little one was held in the apron as she helped with barnyard chores.”
“My mother has been gone for many years. But, I can still picture her ever ready smile in her faded apron.
“That apron was a jack-of-all-trades. She used it to open the hot stove door when stoking the fire, and to protect her hand when lifting a hot skillet, if no pot holders were at hand.
“She would use her apron to help shoo the flies out of the kitchen while one of us kids held open the screen door.
She also used her apron to brush imaginary dust from a guest’s chair seat, or to rescue half-drowned little chicks from unexpected vicious rainstorm.
“Mother helped with barnyard chores at times, and it was seldom she returned to the house without bringing in an apron load of sticks to feed the big Majestic range in her kitchen. Fuel was a scarce commodity on the plains of South Dakota. Dry weed stems and cow chips were fair game for that big apron.
“Her work and worn hands would knot and twist that apron when there was a cause to worry about her precious brood, and it would dry her tears of relief when they were safe again. Then, too, it would dry the tears of little ones’ skinned knees or other childhood problems.
“Mother’s everyday aprons were faded and worn, however. She always had one for Sunday best, freshly starched and beautiful. We often had guests for Sunday noon dinner when she could show off her beautiful apron.
“She would use the folds of her apron to warm her hands on a chilly morning to keep bottles of milk warm while she made her way to the calf pen. At times it also held the littlest one when she did barnyard chores.
“I wonder, do mothers wear aprons in heaven? If so, mother will be sure to show up, if not in her faded everyday one, then for sure in her Sunday best.”
Emfred, called “Fred,” was born in Baker, Neb., and at the age of five moved to South Dakota where he lived until 1935, when he and his brother, Will, came to Idaho.
Fred said, “Will and I came out of the dust, grasshoppers and drought of South Dakota and saw ‘Beautiful Idaho.” Their little Model T Coupe was big enough to carry all of their worldly possessions.
He also said, “The Depression was on in earnest and all types of people from the well educated to the illiterate were moving. All of them looking for something, anything to improve their lot. We chugged to a stop at Fred and Anna Serr’s farm southwest of Moreland. This began a friendship that lasted as long as they lived.
“Our first job was with Clarence Jackson’s steam powered threshing machine in Little Lost River Valley. Later we picked spuds and topped beets for Ray Cook, southwest of Moreland. With no more work in sight, we packed up our gear on Thanksgiving Day and set our little tent in the lava beds of Tabor, where we trapped coyotes and bobcats all winter. We did this for two years.
“The next two years, Will and I lived in an abandoned shack at Cerro Grande, about five miles northeast of the Big Butte and trapped in the lava beds all winter. There was lots of snow and it got down to 40 below. We would flag down the steam powered locomotive to get groceries from Arco and Blackfoot.”
Fred returned to South Dakota and claimed his bride, Ruth Thomson. Ruth was born May 26, 1919, in Hamill, S.D., and graduated from high school there. She began a career as a clerk in the Tripp County auditor’s office in Winner, S.D. This is when she met Fred, the son of a Swedish cabinet maker. They became engaged and then married Aug. 11, 1940, by a Baptist minister. The very next week, they packed up and moved to Idaho, accompanied by brother Will. Their very first home was a small rock house near Thomas, owned by one of Fred’s first friends, Fred Serr.
It was quite a change for Ruth, moving from the flat lands of South Dakota to the desert and tall mountains of Idaho. Her first job was learning how to become a trapper’s wife. But she was smiling and cheerful as Fred bounced her over hills and valleys in their old ‘39 Chevy pickup. She was always by his side.
Gem State Mink Ranch became their home business that began in 1947 and continued until 1961. Ruth was the bookkeeper and also helped Fred. Their two children, Laura and Phil, gave daily care to the mink.
Fred and Ruth became members of the First Baptist Church in Blackfoot and remained active together until Fred died January 1998. Ruth was an avid student of the Bible. She taught Baptist Sunday School many years in Blackfoot, as well as the adult advisor to the Baptist Youth Fellowship in Blackfoot for more than 10 years.
She passed away March 2007.