The following humorous autobiographical story of Julius Myron Alexander's childhood was published in the Healdsburg (CA) Tribune on 12 October 1929:
Monday October 14th , Julius Myron Alexander will celebrate the seventy-second anniversary of his birth. For several weeks Mr. Alexander has been confined to a bed in the Healdsburg General Hospital, and during his convalescence has jotted down some random thoughts anent the years that have passed over his head and some of the events that have had an influence on his colorful life. Here they are:
By Julius Myron Alexander
Of the three outstanding events of a lifetime—birth, marriage and death—I have the license to write of only one of these. The first one I attended; the second one, for some unexplained reason, I skipped; the third one is still ahead of me, with a good start to catch up pretty soon.
If one is getting along in years, it is no particular disgrace to tell of the mileposts of time, so here goes.
I was born in Alexander valley, October 14, 1857. That was just 72 years ago, to save you subtraction mentally. That is farther back than a lot of you fellows can remember. For instance, Reuben Baer was nixy in those days. Bill Hill didn’t even know there was a Tennessee. I am writing this in the very house in which Harold and Ira Rosenberg were born some long years after 1857. Al Garret was floating around somewhere in space looking for a pipe line to bid on. Joe Miller was counting the stars and making a monthly report. George Sherriffs had never heard about prunes or red spiders. Charley Sherriffs was playing with the angels and organizing a civic center, with a fire alarm. Ed Norton was writing a law brief on territorial transgression on the planet Mars. George Warfield was telling Socretes about futurities in the stock market. I only beat Ed Haigh and Ed Besson by a few cogs. Dr. Weaver and Dr. Swisher were playing marbles on this earth several jumps ahead of me, and Dr. Stone was already counting on a democratic majority. Fred Young was practicing flying with asbestos wings about a mile and a half the other side of the sun. Guy Rose was doing some electric wiring for Mrs. Jove, and Dr. Ed. Beeson was practicing jumping over the moon. Jim Seawell had learned to play golf and was looking for a good player down here. He did not mention his teacher’s name.
These are but the names of a few local fellows from whom I won out in getting stabilized on this earth.
The season of my advent was in the fall and I am sure I have a very hazy instinctive remembrance that it was quite chilly that night. In fact I am sure it was. After I was sloshed around in the wash tub by the kitchen stove for awhile they put a long skirt on me about three times my length. Just why they wasted so much material I do not know. I knew it was too long when they were making it, but did not think best to criticize their work. It was 12 miles in the country and the one doctor of the community was in town breaking a wild mustang and talking politics, so a neighborhood lady friend, who had a great interest in young people, came over and introduced me to the squirrels and blue jays. It was also a very dark night and the hoot owls, panthers and wild cats added to the October desolation. As I have stated they furnished me with clothes, but I had to go somewhere and rush for food. I guess that is the way with all of us, for we are always looking for something to eat. I guess I found it somewhere, for I managed to pull through. I was not very strong so my father, after a few months, would take me down to Maacama creek every frosty morning and dip me under the cold water. He was Methodist and he should have only sprinkled me, but he came within a stone’s throw of making me a full-fledged Baptist. I also took awaysome of my high regard for water.
For the next few years I was boss of the ranch. When I was 12 years of age they sent me to the old Maacama school, which was a mile and a half away. My brother and sister would haul me there in a little home made wagon. It was a pretty rough road over the rocks and brush. Each one of us had a little red dinner pail. I never see a school child carrying a dinner bucket but what I am envious of its contents. Two hard-boiled eggs, two pieces of bread with jam or jelly between, a piece of pie, some cookies and a green onion and a bottle of milk. A feast fit for a hungry king! Nowadays onions do not go to school. Garlic may be admissable with caviar and a sprinkle of limberger. At the old school house of woodpecker holes and yellow jackets’ nests I accumulated quite a colony of “country school bugs” and barefoot “stickers.” All mothers were prepared with a trap for the bugs which brought to us a tearful inspection. Now, after 72 years school day looks have reduced themselves to babyhood beauty. A sad and peculiar trait how years circle us back to baby life—teeth, hair, and with most of us our mental faculties.
From country school days, with all of their boyhood sports, I merged into a regular pioneer farm boy, plowing, chopping wood, mowing hay, cradling and binding grain, and riding the range for stock. A farmer boy’s life was a lot of pleasures if it is not made too much of farm drudgery. We did not have many close neighbors and Healdsburg 72 years ago was but a few shacks. plank sidewalks, oak tracts, madrone groves, sloughs, oxen, Indians, dust, vaqueros and democrats. It was a kleidoscope picture of a store or two, saloons, blacksmith shops, a China wash house, ox yokes, chewing tobacco and revolvers. Crowning it all was the unsurpassed virgin beauty of its mountains, its forests, streams and flower-covered lands. Do not wish to grow old, but it is really pleasant to march with the years from pioneer days, through a favored land, with God’s good people, on toward the century mark. Now for just ahead I would go, like one “who wraps the drapery of his couch about him and lies down to pleasant dreams.”
[Julius Myron Alexander ("Poet Laureate of Sonoma County") was my great-great-uncle.]
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