Donald A. Davis, b. 1920

My name is Donald A. Davis. There’s more than oneDavis, so I go by the middle initial.  I’m eighty-four, will be eighty-five October tenth. I was born in 1920, a mile up theToltRiver, east ofTolt River Road.  That’s where I was born, up there on a twenty-acre stump ranch.  And I had seven brothers and sisters, four boys and three girls. There was me and my brother Harold, and Kenneth, andClyde.  Viola was my oldest sister, and Pauline was two years older than I am.  And Edith was two years younger than I was.

They’re all dead but me. Every one of ’em.  Just lost a brother this year, so….  The last one.  But  I’ve got one more relative in town—Garnett Paar. That’s the only two of us left here in town.  Her mother was my dad’s sister—that’s the way it come around—so we’re first cousins.

Well, we lived up there on that stump ranch, and he was the fire warden, oh, for at least twenty-five years or more.  And he had a cabin up on Stossel Creek.  That’s six miles from Carnation, up the Tolt  River, where the source of the Tolt  River was.  So he was three-quarters of a mile this side of that.  He built a cabin all out of wood, all hand split.  We spent our summers up there when I was younger.  Had to walk in.  We did have a horse trail across on the other side of where the old homesteads used to be up there.  So then we forded the river twice to get to the cabin.  And we fished and we swam and we did what we had to do.  Real nice upbringin’, I think.All that upper country up there was just homesteaders.  Timber claims is what they were.  So they all sold out—Weyerhaeuser finally bought ’em all out.

Then my dad went to school up on Stossel Creek in the 1890s, had a log schoolhouse up there, which I’ve got several of benches that come out of there, because I dug a lot of old bottles and stuff on these old homesteads.  And I haven’t got any of ’em put together.  They’re different than what we would use now.  They put together the seats and stuff, all fastened down with wire.  Had to drill a hole through each piece.  And they was about four feet wide with a desk out in front from the next one, about six inches wide.  So that’s all the desk you had.  You put ’em in rows.  I got some small ones and big ones.  That was interesting, to go through all of that by then.  I found them, and they was about fourteen inches under the ground.  So I really don’t know what happened to the schoolhouse, because it was there.  Then I went back a few years later, and it wasn’t there.  Somebody hauled it out of there, or what.  But there was nothin’ left of it.

So then my dad lived up between the forks when he was a boy.  I think he was born in 1887.  So then around 1900, they moved to Carnation—or Tolt—it wasn’t Carnation then, it was Tolt.  Then they had the store downtown—my grandmother and granddad.  And the Twin Gables house is down in Carnation.  You know where that is?  It’s right next to the service station.  It’s got two gables, and it’s been built in between ’em.  Granddad built that in 1904, or right around there.  He built half of it.  Then his brother-in-law, Cowles [phonetic], built the other half.  Then my granddad built the place where Garnett lives there, just goin’ up the Tolt  River.  Her house is the second house.  The house is still there, it was built in 1904.  And then it had a big barn built the same time, and I have some of the boards from 1904 out in the shed out here.  Garnett give them to me.  So that’s about all I know about that, ’til I got older.

My Mother come from Pleasant  Hill.  That’s up this way, where the great big house is up there. She lived two places past that.  She was a Williams.  She married my dad, she was about, oh, five or six years younger than my dad.  They run the store—Grandmother did—for years.  Then my granddad had it first, and he died in 1904.  So then they took pictures of the old post office one time, and nobody knew who took his place.  Well, my grandmother took the mail route over—the post office, there was no route, it was the post office.  They had that in the old store.  I can still remember that bein’ there, where it was in there.  But then they moved the post office across the street after they got there.  Well, see, that was before my time, because I was born in 1920.  So this is hearsay on that part of it.

I always remember goin’ fishin’ when I was a kid.  The river was at our back door, you know.   Mother would say, “Donny, go down and catch some fish for lunch.”  “How many you want?”  “Well, how many can you eat?”  So we had the whole family there, so she’d tell me and I’d go down and catch that many fish.  I’d be gone twenty minutes to half an hour.  That’s all it took.  I did that a lot.  And we always—I remember picking blackberries.  They logged the hill up there north of the road.  We went up in there, and she always canned at least a hundred quarts of wild blackberries every year, a hundred quarts.  And then we picked them and black caps and huckleberries, whatever we had, you know—had a great big garden.  We never went hungry, even during the Depression.  We never were without.

And then my dad, after fire season was over, he would work for the county, or he went and worked in the woods a lot.  He felled timber, a lot of timber and stuff like that—worked in the woods all his life.  He loved to make things out of wood, which I do too.

Oh, it was fun growin’ up.  Went to school down in Carnation—or Tolt.  That’s the reason I said, “Well, we didn’t learn too much, we come from Tolt.” But there’s a lot of smart guys come out of there.

My dad was kind of tough on us. When we was told to do somethin’, and didn’t mind,  we’d get it.  You didn’t do it tomorrow, you did it when you was told. My mother was kind of quiet, but when she said somethin’, you’d better listen to her.  Well, he was the same way.  We had chores to do.  When I was old enough, I had to do the milkin’.  My brothers, they kind of graduated away from that, so I had to.We had two or three most of the time.  I remember buyin’ two cows one time from my grandparents—Williams.  We give $5.00 for one, and $7.50 for the other one.  We got by good, we always had milk and stuff like that.  Had lots to eat.

Donald Davis
Date of interview: 06/17/05
Interviewed by Jerry Mader, Tolt River Studios, Carnation, WA
Partial support from King County 4-Culture Heritage Special Projects
Transcribed by Jardee Transcription, Tucson, Arizona