Maude Walker Grows Up on the Oregon South Coast

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Maude Walker was born in 1881 into a not-so-ordinary childhood at an isolated homestead overlooking Pistol River, on Oregon’s South Coast.
The family, which included five brothers, seldom went to town, because it was a long, rough trail through thick woodlands or a risky low-tide scramble along the beach.  A schooner delivered flour, sugar, and corn meal once a year, and mail came by packhorse once a week.
They slept on straw mattresses with flour-sack sheets.  Mama made soap from boiled lye, lard, and bear grease, and she crafted their clothes from castoffs given by relatives.
School days took place in summer months, and the long walk to the school house risked meeting cougars or wild pigs.  Everyone helped clear the land, build fences, tend livestock, till the soil, and plant crops and gardens.  Chores seemed never ending.
Still, Maud and her brothers found time to pick huckleberries, play hide and seek, and ride stick horses over the hillsides accompanied by their pony, Chocta.  They frequented a swimming hole, using washtubs as boats.
As an adult, Walker briefly left the area, but memories of her youth drew her back home.
Source: Sponaugle, Ella. Pistol River Recollections. Gold Beach, Ore., Curry County Historical Society, 2003

Laurel Gerkman