Hume, Missouri Memories

Brian Hobson shared the following memoirs from the autobiography of his grandmother, Helen Carder Hobson, who lived in Hume from the ages of about 3 through high school, 1920 - 1935 or so. Her father was John Carder, superintendant of the mine for Klaner. It paints an interesting picture of life and times around Hume.

I, Helen Lucille Carder, came into this world May 3, 1917, to the home of John and Isabel Carder in Sherman TX. I was the youngest of 4 girls: Ethel 12, Adeline 10, and Corine 4 ½.

My mother had a high school education; my father and his older brother Luke had to quit school when my father was in the fourth grade, to support their mother. Something had happened to their father; I don't know what. I never knew any of my grandparents.

My father worked for the Kansas City Southern Railroad. When I was 3 months old, he was transferred to Pittsburg, KS. We all came in our own car. It seems my mother could have come on the train, since Papa worked for the railroad, but they all elected to come together in the car, which was a 1916 Regal. The trip took 5 days. We had a tent and cots for sleeping - no motels and not many restaurants. I remember my older sisters saying they got their first store bought dresses because all their dresses were dirty. I feel real lucky they didn't somehow lose me along the way. Imagine a 3 month old baby on a trip like that (WOW). In those days the roads were narrow trails fording creeks and I'm sure many other problems. Sometimes everybody but Papa had to get out while he drove, to be sure he could make it (I really don't remember much about it anyway).

We lived in Pittsburg until my mother died in February 1920. I think I can remember the day my mother died. I remember walking around seeing people's knees and wondering what was going on.

In the meantime, Papa had quit working for the railroad and was working for J. F. Klaner Coal Co. Soon after mother's death he was sent to Hume, Missouri to be superintendent of a strip coal mine. A vein of coal had been found there and Klaner decided to mine it. The company built us a new house near the mine. The house had 3 bedrooms, living room, dining room, kitchen, and sort of a bathroom with lavatory and tub. The room started out as a big closet and Papa eventually put in the lavatory and tub. Since water was carried from a well at the end of the back porch, that's the way the tub was filled - cold water. Kettles of water were heated on the stove and added to make it more comfortable. The water drained out into the pasture. Later Papa piped water into the house, around the coal stove, under the covering jacket, and into the bathtub. In cold weather the water was very hot. Come to think of it, I don't think we had the tub at first, because I can remember taking a bath in a wash tub behind the stove when I was real small.

As I grew up, I would go down to the mine with Papa. I remember I sat on the bank, and Papa would slide down the bank of the pit on his bottom to get down to the coal steam shovel. Much faster.

We had a Dodge car. One day the top was down and as Papa was turning the car around, the door flew open and I fell out. Papa didn't see me, and in the process he almost ran over me. He just bumped me in the side. It scared him real bad---me, too. He picked me up and rushed to the doctor. I wasn't really hurt, no bad effects after we both recovered from the scare.

I can remember Papa shaving at the lavatory with his straight edge razor. He got pretty dirty at the mine, but he always cleaned up before supper.

When he first went to Hume, we girls stayed in Pittsburg with Uncle Luke, my father's brother and his family. Papa lived in a boarding house in Hume. He married one of the women who worked there so he could have a home for us. After Mother died, her sister, Aunt Bess wanted to take me to raise since I was so small. Papa said no, he would keep us together. I am thankful to him for that.

Dad was always good to us girls and generous. We all loved music, we had a piano and lots of sheet music which Ethel and Adeline played while they were still living at home. I was quite small then but I remember we all sang all the words to all the music and had fun. Dad used to sing his old funny songs. I wish I could remember them. I also wish you could have known him. I'm sure it wasn't too easy for him all those years raising 4 girls by himself.

When we moved to Hume, Ethel and Adeline were in high school, Corine in grade school and they let me start 1st grade when I was 4 years old. When I was in the third grade the class was too large so they put 8 of us girls in the 4th grade. I was too young (boy, I can't believe I said that) and pushed too fast and from there on I wasn't a very good student. In fact I thought I was pretty dumb, until I was 35 or 40 years old then I began to realize I was just about as smart as everyone else, smarter than some (Uh huh).

I started driving when I was 12. There was no driver's test or driver's license. When you got big enough to learn, and your folks would let you - you drove. The first time I drove a car on my own, a friend from Pittsburg, Ruth Miller, was visiting and I asked Papa if we could take the car to go swimming in a strip pit. He said, "Can you drive?" and I said, "No, but Ruth can". She drove to the pit and I drove home. From then on I was driving. Dad was very generous about letting me have the car. The streets were wide, there wasn't much traffic, so it really wasn't difficult - much different than in the 1990's.

During my high school days, there wasn't much to do in the small town of Hume. We mostly just "hung out" around the big square down town. There was a park in the middle and real wide streets. There was one small creek out north of town where we had wiener roasts. We also roasted marshmallows, and when they got nice and gray, we had marshmallow fights, told ghost stories, etc. Lots of Saturdays we girls met uptown and hiked out to the country with our sack lunches. To be really daring, sometimes someone brought a pack of cigarettes, and everybody tried them out (YUCK). We all really decided it really wasn't as much fun as we thought it would be.

I had one good friend whose home I visited often. Her name was Florine Thompson. We spent lots of time walking in the woods. She was a farm girl, and drove her dad's truck to market down to Fort Scott with loads of various things. I usually went with her. Those were fun times.

Life wasn't too peaceful and happy when I was growing up. My father and step mother, Fern, has nothing in common, and certainly not compatible. They were separated when I was 13. I stayed with Papa in Hume until I graduated from high school, a few days after my 16th birthday. Then I went to Pittsburg to live with Ethel and her family. When they extracted all the coal from the vein in Hume, of course the mine was out of business; and my father was no longer needed there. Uncle Luke worked for Klaner too, so Klaner kind of took care of Papa. He was sent to other strip mines to work, but he was just sort of lost. While working at one of these other mines, in December, 1936, he fell about 15 feet, landing on his head. He was unconscious for about 2 weeks before he died; January 1, 1937. I'm glad he died then because they said his brain was crushed and he would have been a vegetable. He was a good man.

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Barbara J. Marlow Irwin passed away August 21, 2009. I am her husband, Lyndon Irwin, and I maybe able to answer simple questions, but please be aware that these are not my lines. So if you are wondering what the source of a certain item might be, its likely I won't know.