A History of the Burns Family
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Guy's Memoir  

Author's Note

Below is Guy's memoir, pieced together from various accounts scribbled on small pieces of paper at various times toward the end of his life.  Below is a sample of his handwriting, which is why a typed transcript of his responses is included below.

 

Born July 6, 1884, 10 1/2 pounds.

Freedom Station was the mailing address, Portage County, Ohio.

Father Lorenzo Dow Burns, mother Mary Rebecca Burns.

Mother was a little woman, must have been a tremendous ordeal for her.

Born at home.

I do not remember the house where I was born, but have pictures of it when it became dilapidated and deserted.

Lived there for about 3 years.

My first recollection was at a house in Windham O. I was about 4 years old. It was a double dwelling with a porch the whole width of the front. When we lived there Dad went to Wisconsin to work in the...woods in the winter. That is the kind of work he did in Penna before he came to Ohio. Mother and I stayed at home. Grandfather and Grandmother Mason lived with us. They both died before I was old enough to know them

A family by the name of Fleming occupied one half of the house. They had a boy about my age with whom I played. I recall one day he and I built a fire under the porch for which I got my bottom paddled and I guess he did too.


Photo labeled Center of the World

At that place my first recollection of Dad was that he had gone to work in Wisconsin and when he came home in the spring, he had a heavy beard and moustache and I was afraid of him. I was about 3 years old. Don't know how long we lived at this particular place. There was a grocery store at the corner, almost next door. One day I went over there and got into the chicken coop (which I recall as being very large) and in which they kept the fowl they dressed and sold at the store. I got lost in there and raised quite a howl until I was rescued.

From this double house we moved to the country where Dad worked for neighboring farmers. I remember the old Christy place. While we lived there mother kept me indoors by setting a pail of water in the doorway. I would not go near it as I was very much afraid of water. We had a neighbor by the name of Spahlinger, who lived almost a mile away. I remember I used to like to run away and go to the house as they had several grown daughters who made a lot of fuss over me which I evidently liked. Poor Mother used to have to come and get me, which was a burden on her.

They had a large open tank by the house that they caught rain water in, and one day (as Mrs. Spahlinger realized that it was hard for Mother to come and get me all the time) she picked me up and held me over the tank and said, "Guy, if you ever come running over here again, I am going to thrown you in the tank." I never went there again unless Mother was along.

That was practically the only incident I can remember while we lived at that house, but it stood out in my memory all my life.

Dad worked at farm labor at the time for George Miller, a prominent farmer of that region. Mother worked as a domestic for them before she married Father. He then made a deal with a man by the name of Bernard Christie to farm a little farm near Windham in shares.

We moved to the farm house and lived there a year or so.

I recall that we had 4 or 5 cows, some pigs, and 2-3 horses. Our house sat on a ridge and below us was a spring and spring house where we got our water. All the water had to be carried up the hill.

The spring house was used as a refrigerator. There was a long trough in it and the water from the spring ran down through it. Milk and the things that required a cool place were put in crocks and set in the trough.

I recall a lot of things about the farm. The days when we butchered the pigs. The days we threshed the grain.
The trips to town with grain to trade for groceries and flour.

Mother used to make soft soap. We had a barrel set up in the backyard on a platform in which we put all the wood ashes. Water was poured on top of the barrels which filtered down through the ashes. The result was lye which she used to put with the hog fats and other fats that were saved to make soft soap.

I recall that when we first went on this farm that the grain was cut by hand with a tool called a cradle and it was a back breaking job. After the grain was cut and laid down some one followed and bound up the grain in bundles. The binding was made of shoots of grain itself fashioned into a band to tie up the bundles.

Before we left this farm our next crop of grain was cut by a mower drawn by horses which went through the grain and cut it and laid it down to be bound and shocked.

In those days about all you bought at the store to eat was sugar, coffee and flour and perhaps a few other things such as spices, as you were quite self-sufficient as far as food was concerned, with corned beef, smoked ham, and bacon sausage and all sorts of canned vegetables raised in the garden.

In those days most of the canning was done in crockery jars with a lid and sealed with sealing wax.

Both mother and dad worked very hard on this farm and just when they were getting along real good the owner sold it, which meant we had to move.

I recall we had a neighbor by the name of Reese who had 2 children about May’s and my age named Meggie and Cecil with whom we played all the time.  We were inseparable as there were no other kids.


The experience on the farm was wonderful and it was a sad day when we had to move to the Center of the World and leave our friends.

...in the meantime dad got a job on a railroad, the P and W (Pittsburg and Western) as a track man, and worked for a man by the name of Baker whose family became good friends of ours.

By this time I was 5 years old and had developed a desire to fish. There was a beautiful little spring stream in the woods back of us that had a lot of black chub in it. I caught a lot of them with a bent pin.

It was while we lived there that dad took me fishing the first time. We went to a pond about a mile distant that contained a lot of sunfish. He sat me on a stump with a slim hickory pole. I had the time of my life pulling in four fish. That was my first fishing trip.

Pigs – riding them around in the pig yard.  There were no neighbor children. I recall one winter day that I thot I would be kind to the one lone duck that we had. I put her in a box for the night and promptly forgot about her for 4 days. When I opened the box she was dead.

I recall the Christmas we had at that place. I received a set of blocks and May received a little China doll with the usual orange in our stockings. That was the only time we saw an orange. We both played with the doll and blocks. Shortly after that Christmas we moved about a mile to a crossroads called the Center of the World. You could start there and go anyplace in the world. We lived quite close to the Mahoning River and I recall a covered bridge that was quite near to us.

We were within sight of a graveyard and poor Mother when she had to go outside of the door at night would rush back in. I guess that she saw ghosts. She was very much afraid of the night as her brothers had scared her many times when she was a girl.

I started to school when we lived there. My teacher’s name was Nat Lewes who taught in the little country School.

Came to Cuyahoga Falls in 1894 at the age of 10. Graduated at the old East high school in 1904 [1902]. Eleven graduated.

Married to Ada M. Howe by Reverend Hurd of the Falls Christian Church May 27, 1904. We met for the first time April First 1904 at Cuyahoga Falls O where I lived from the time I was 10 years old. Love at first sight. My first and only sweetheart, engaged to be married before the month of April was out. Married 27th day of May. Married at our church parsonage.

Our first child Evelyn born May 9, 1905. When we were married I was working as an iron molder apprentice at 15 cents per hour, 10 hours a day, 6 days a week. $9 a week.

Decided that was too hard a [job]. Took night courses in bookkeeping for 2 years. Went to work for the Miller Rubber Co, where I worked for almost 20 years. Became assistant cashier.

Helped to organize scouting in Cuyahoga Falls district, and was the first scout Commander of the District and held that position for several years.

Was also Chairman of the Board of the First Christian Church and very active in the building program.

The Miller Rubber Co sold out to the B F Goodrich Co in 1930 and I then became cashier in charge of accounts payable and accounts receivable. Because of the 1930 panic, they cut down on employees as much as possible and I lost my job in 1933. We stuck it out until 1935. In the meantime we had used up all our resources and were practically broke; you just could not buy a job.

So in 1935 we decided to come to Seattle because our 2 youngest sons wanted to go west. Left Cuyahoga Falls June 30th 1935.

We had rigged up a ton and 1/2 truck with a canvas top in which we traveled, slept, and ate just like the old covered wagons. It was quite an adventure enjoyed by both us and the boys. The youngest Bob was 12 and David was 18. We landed in Seattle after a 3-week trip practically broke. Did not know anybody there.

Finally got a job managing the Melrose apartments at $20.00 a month and an apartment. Glad to get it. Were there about 8 months and got a better job managing the [Waverly] apartments at $65.00 a month and apartment for us and one for the two boys. Since then, the apartment house has made way for the freeway.

One day while cleaning some walls in an apartment we accidentally upset a a bucket of cleaning solution on a rug and were very much alarmed that we might have harmed the rug, but after wiping up the spill we had a nice clean spot on the rug. From there we began to experiment with the cleaner on the rugs and furniture in the apartment, and also solicited jobs from other apartments, bringing in furniture and rugs to the basement of the apartment on top o a model A Ford sedan.

This went on for some time when we decided to quit the apartment and start a cleaning business for ourselves. So we rented floor space at 121 1/2 Yale No and bought a pick up truck on time, and we were in business.

We stayed at this locale about 1 1/2 years and then bought the building we presently occupy at 1008 Yale Ave No. Our business prospered wonderfully.

In the meantime our other 2 children came to Seattle to live. Evelyn, who is the oldest, took a position in the Public Health Department at the University of Washington, where she still works and will return next year.

Our oldest boy Don came later. He now teaches at West Seattle High School.

Robert the youngest is a doctor, a pediatrician.

David, the next to youngest, takes care of the business.

We have 6 grandchildren, aged 15 to 29 years, and 8 great-grandchildren, ranging from 2 months to 10 years of age.

We have had a wonderful happy life together and have a very closely knit family of which we are very proud. Our 4 children all live in Seattle and all the grandchildren and great-grandchildren, except the oldest granddaughter, whose husband.....[unfinished]