I am Alfred William Stillman.
I was born in a town called Garwin, Iowa, on July 30, 1914; my Father was Joseph LaVerne Stillman; my Mother was Addie Carpenter Stillman.

Joseph LaVerne Stillman…Addie Carpenter Stillman

At that time, I had two brothers and one sister. My brother Ralph was two years older than I and the older brother Glen was 12 years older than I ; my sister Lucille was 10 years older than I.

Lucile Marjorie Stillman…Ralph Eugene Stillman…Glen Carroll Stillman
Circa 1913

Ralph Eugene Stillman…Alfred William Stillman
Circa 1916

I have pictures of my Mother and Father, when they were young.

Back Center - Edwin Coggeshall Stillman...Back Right - Joseph LaVerne Stillman
Middle Row - Joseph Fulton Stillman...Arthur Main Stillman…Adaliza Cordelia Burdick Stillman...Margaret May Stillman
Front Row - Benjamin Silas Stillman...Phoebe Charlotte Stillman
circa 1887

Back - Addie Carpenter
Front - Ray Carpenter...Keren Adeliade Dewey Carpenter...Robert LeRoy "Roy" Carpenter
circa 1894

I found pictures of Garwin, Iowa, the place where I was born, and one of the old houses in Beaman, Iowa. A town called Conrad was the County Seat and was where all the doctors and lawyers were at that time and the only dentist. The picture of the house in Beaman I took while on a trip with my wife, daughter Margie and my sister Lucille back in 1970. At this time I recalled we received the Conrad Newspaper many years after arriving in Biloxi, and it stopped coming when we were asked to pay for it (Smile). We called it the "Conrad Screwdriver".

My earliest recollection of Garwin, IA was living in a large farm house with relatives. I recall them and others milking cows, and of me riding in a buggy drawn by two ponies; of riding down a steep hill on the grass on a piece of sheet metal for a sled. Near by was a lady who made jelly beans and oatmeal cookies, and of riding with her in a one horse open sleigh in the winter.

Garwin, IA

Garwin High School, Garwin, IA

Seventh Day Baptist Church, Garwin, IA

1917 Post Card Sent from Gentry, AR to Garwin, IA

Beaman, IA

After about two years, my Mother and Father moved from Garwin, IA to Beaman, IA, about 4 miles away, and it was 6 miles away to Conrad, the County Seat.

To accomplish this move, my father contacted the railroad ticket master to have the household goods moved to Beaman, IA - beds, stoves and such. However, the railroad expected my father to do some kind of work for them to cover the costs. This was called barter, as mostly no one had any cash money. The move to and from the house to the railroad was accomplished by borrowing some farmers horse and wagon. This was called drayage.

After the move was accomplished and things were placed on order in the kitchen, living and bed room, the big clean up began. The house was owned by a Mrs. Gist Beaman, who had moved to California and the rent was 10 dollars a month.

Beaman, IA House

Now, there was no well for water to drink, so it had to be carried by hand in buckets from the neighbors - the Follansbies and the Newtons - nearby. However, there was cistern water from a pump in the kitchen, the cistern water was boiled before drinking it .The cistern water was made available each time it rained by waiting until the roof was washed, then turn the valve to let water in to the cistern, and when it filled turn it in to a large barrel outside the kitchen window. This water was also used to wash clothes and for mopping the floors in the house.

By the way - the roof of the house was covered with copper sheeting and this would be unusual now because copper is so expensive. Lightning rods had to be used - 2 foot above the ridge row of houses - to keep them from being struck by lightning. For light in the house we used coal oil or kerosene lamps; and, for phones we used the old party line telephones - your phone had so many rings. We usually took a bath once a week in a No 3 washtub, using cistern water; and, in the summertime it was in the yard; in the winter-time it was in the kitchen near the cook stove.

In the house was a bathroom, used as a storage room, with a large bath tub made of wood encased in aluminum and a commode, and lavatory type wash basin of wood encased in aluminum - it was called tin in those days. Of course, there was no use of either because there was no water to be used for bathing and sewage. It was a two story house, with a large cellar with stairs down there from the kitchen, where vegetables and stuff was stored for summer and winter. Part of the cellar was partitioned off for use of wood and coal for the pot bellied stove used in the living room, and also for the kitchen stove. One part of the cellar was used for refrigeration of kitchen goods, like milk, butter, and such. There was an opening outside where two large wooden doors could be opened to permit coal and wood and corn cobs to be unloaded. The corn cobs were used to start the fires in the stoves, with a little kerosene - then the wood to get coals to make the coal burn. The underground cellar was also a place to hide from tornadoes and storms. In the summertime there was lots of dried corn, apples, and cherries to be dried and stored there for winter use. The apples and potatoes, squash and pumpkins were stored there along with many cans of vegetables. Apples, beans, corn and such were dried, in cheese cloth or stuff like window curtains and put in containers. For use in the winter, they were soaked in water overnight and then cooked in sugar to make sauce and pies and cakes. It was a case of survival because real money was very scarce. During the other months the chickens and surplus garden products were exchanged for flour and such at the country store.

Mom and Dad had the downstairs bedroom off the big living room. In the living room there was a big pot bellied stove that heated all of the house except for the kitchen. In the living room there was a big extended picture window across the front of it. And in it we used to play hide and seek in the cabinets under the windows. One end extended to the front bedroom. Most houses were built back during the Civil War and had places to hide. One could go from the living room to the bedroom up stairs and not be seen. There was a trap door from the big bedroom to the bedroom upstairs on up to the attic. Ralph and I had the bedroom up over the big bedroom and Lucille and Glen had separate bedrooms up over the living room There were plenty of clothes closets through out the house, this didn't help much because we didn't have too many clothes..

Now off the northwest corner of the house there was a room that was "Off Limits" to all. It contained furniture and things that belonged to a Mrs. Gist, the former owner; and, she owned by inheritance the house we lived in known as the Beaman House. She lived in California and my father sent her $10.00 a month for rent. However, the rent never amounted to much after the house was painted and fixed up by my Father - this again was called "Barter". To the west of the house was a two-story barn, where horses and buggies were once kept. On the ground floor there were stalls where hay could be thrown from above, and a stairway was on the left going upstairs. A place was there to store wood and corncobs for a back up for use in the house. As an added thought my father bought his first Model T Ford and put it in where the horse stalls used to be. At this time while converting the barn he was using the neighbors garage and in doing so he forgot to use the brakes in time and went right on through the back of the neighbor's garage. Needless to say the car was not damaged and the garage was repaired without any trouble. The headlights were lighted by using carbide powder, which had a water drip from above to make a gas which was burned to make a fairly good light - this was better than kerosene. Now at that time there were no car batteries, and a magneto was used to produce a spark to get the engine to run, and this was helped by jacking up a back wheel to get the pistons to turn over in the engine - the spark was on the left of the steering wheel - and, the gas was on the right and it worked. The clutch was in the middle of the main clutch and brake so it worked when properly used; an added hand brake was on the left of the driver.

Now to get back to a description of the place -
Next to the Barn or garage there was a "Bathroom" known as a "Half Moon" or four-seater, with covers, and an outside door. After each use, one used a scoop of "quicklime" and threw it down below. These were moved about every four years to a new location. This Privy was used as a Reading Room or Library because toilet tissue was usually an old Sears-Roebuck or Montgomery Ward catalog. On cold nights they were not used much as "Slop Jars" were used in most family bed rooms, with lids of course - and Seers and Rareback was used for TP. And since I was the youngest it was my duty to empty and clean these "Chamber Pots". On Halloween it was customary to have the privies pushed over by the neighbor boys, and sometimes a buggy or such was put up on top of peoples houses.

While I am on the subject of bathrooms the Methodist Minister had the only inside Privy - bathtub, commode, lavatory and all. So his son George Snider invited my bother Ralph and I , one at a time, to come over and spend the night to see how this new invention worked - needless to say we had a great time. George had a pony that we rode often. One time I fell off and the pony - which was blind and did not step on me - I just sat there and it stopped before anything bad happened.

Just north of the barn was the chicken house, where a big red rooster ruled the area. I had to use a big stick to defend myself from it while I fed the chickens, turkeys, and ducks; and, believe me it was an art. There I was taught to dress and clean a chicken; first chop or ring its head off and put it in a pot of boiling hot water; and, then pull out all the feathers, chop off its legs, the rest of the neck and gut it saving the craw and heart; and, of course doing a good job, because you had to eat it too - that does make a difference. Next the eggs were collected and washed and candled, by holding a light where one could see it was good; and, then take about half or most of then to the grocery store to swap for flour, bacon, as money did not exist. It was barter or else.

Our big garden was about ½ acre, on the north side on a hill was asparagus and rhubarb and such which came up early each Spring. When the strawberries came up they had been covered with leaves and such from the snow. In this garden we raised strawberries, raspberries, potatoes, broccoli, turnips, rutabaga, string beans, butter beans (lima), lettuce, English peas, and such. Next in the front yard we had two big apple trees, one with striped green apples for pies, and one with big red eating apples, These eaten raw were "Very Good" and when dried for Winter use made the nicest apple pie you could ever want. As previously mentioned we cut them and dried them or cloths on saw horses so they could dry in the sun. Nothing escaped being used as "Food" was on the priority list.

In the front yard we had many big maple trees and in the Spring they were used in making maple syrup. A hole was drilled into the tree and a wooden spigot was inserted to catch the sap. This was rather tedious but ended up with a small amount of syrup when boiled for a long time.

Added thoughts -
Anytime one of us kids, especially Ralph or I, said bad words we had our mouths washed with "Lye Soap". Children at that time were "seen but not heard". And, if I really misbehaved I was sent to pick out the switch to be used or send to get my "Fathers Razor Strap". This did not happen too many times - or - if I did something wrong at the table I skipped the next meal or so. There we had "Country Living" - I wore button-up shoes and hand me down clothes. Having two brothers older than me, I never knew what it was to have something new.

My father was a carpenter by trade, but was always glad to get a job of any kind. He served a few years as janitor of the consolidated school in Beaman, and I remember helping him clean the blackboards and such. Getting $75.00 a month for doing janitor work was real good those days. I recall making my first 50 cents. To do this I had to trap a groundhog on a farm and kill it and take the front paws to the bank to collect the "Bounty". I did this only once because I did not like what I had done.
Back in those days a boy wore short pants and socks and button shoes until he was 12 years old and then after becoming 12 years old he was allowed to wear long pants. This was the dividing line for "Middle Youths". Most of our shoes were leather and my father was an expert in half-soling shoes. We only had two pair of overalls - one on and one off.
We went barefoot in the summertime. When we went to school or somewhere important we put our shoes on when we got there. We made our own toys. For example - I would find a hoop usually as large as I could push with a stick with a board nailed across the bottom; this was my automobile. Next I made a "Peg Board" - I took a broom stick and cut he last 5 inches off and took a knife and trimmed down the edges sort of sharp and then tapped the sharp end and when it tipped up - I hit it as far as I could; then there was mumble-peg using a 3 bladed knife to see if you could seat the knife in a piece of wood.

I used to make arrows out of two or three-foot shingles, mostly cedar or pine; the heavy end had a nail driven in it, then the arrow was trimmed down with a two or three inch fin on the rear - the light end; then in the middle which was balanced, I put a notch to catch a knot at the end of t he string; then I made a sling from a whip-like branch and with a two or three-foot string attached with a large knot on the end, I put the knot end in the notch and with the wind to my back, I was able to make it t ravel about a quarter of a mile.

Another thing I used to do was to save a large ball of string and put a thin wire on the end, then find some bait of corn or carrot, and put the bait near or about on the hole of a "Ground Squirrel" then I would wait till one showed up and pull the string - most of the time I would catch the squirrel and turn it lose because I did not need it for food. These exercises were to teach me to find food should I get lost in the woods or somewhere. I carried the glass from a flashlight to use to make a fire instead of matches.

When I was five or six years old, most families had the custom of their children making "May Baskets" on May first and filling them with candies; then the boys would take it to a girl-friend's home and put the basket on the door handle with the girls name on it and wait till she answered the door; then the boy was to run as fast as he could, or wait till the girl caught him, and then kissed him - hmm, I usually ran too fast.

When my brother Glen and his friends wanted a day off from school, they would kill a skunk and freeze it (in the Winter time) and then early in the morning, put it on a radiator in the school. By doing this they had a day off and maybe 2 days for the entire school.

Beaman School, Beaman, IA

While in Beaman while in the 4th or 5th grade, I recall a girl named Elizabeth, who had long hair, and sat in from of me in school. So I dipped her hair in my inkwell, and this made her furious; later on we became friends.
When my family moved to Biloxi, later on, I used to write her letters; and, then in the 12th grade she told me she was going to get married and not to write to her any more.
In 1995, prior going to Los Angeles to visit my son Bill - my sister Lucille called Elizabeth's brother about one of her class reunions - he mentioned Elisabeth was out in Apache Junction, AZ and asked for me to stop over and see her. So I did. I stayed at the Grand Hotel; Sam, my sister Lucille's son-in-law, met me at Phoenix Airport and transported me there. Elizabeth and I toured the Apache Junction Area and Desert and went to Church on the weekend. Later on I heard she passed on and had a brother-in-law in here West Plains, MO. This is now just a memory

Note> See Table of Contents and find "Visiting Bill In Los Angeles" and the Story of my visit to Apache Junction in 1995 was completed = with pictures. .

There are a few other stories about my parents;
At one time my mother ran for Mayor of Beaman, IA and ended up being on the Town Council. It was not unusual for a person to serve in an Office - because it was an honor and they served without any pay whatsoever.

In his Beaman High School days, my brother Glen back made a radio out of a magnet and such, the first thing I heard was church bells - on a Sunday. We obtained our milk from a couple named The Charley Johnsons. It was my job to go get a quart or so of milk each day, in metal cans; and, one day the Johnson's bull got lose and I had to wait a long time - in the snow - before I could get the milk. Sometimes we went there for Bible Studies and Church. Mr. Johnson had a small horse that he had carved out of wood. They had an apple orchard and many cherry trees, of which we were invited to share in the products. In the Seventh Day Baptist Church up on the Hill, I was one of the boys that helped pump the organ by either turning the bellows or pumping it.

My brother Glen and his friends made a boat and put hydroplane blades on the motor attached to the rear of it; it was used both summer and winter - until they had a bad accident. The town had an ice house that was filled with ice during the Winter and in the Summer one could get ice for a reasonable amount or fee.

A family that used to go by the house in a wagon or sleigh quite often; they used to holler at me to go with them in the sleigh - then a while later they found me; I had tied my sled to their sleigh - then I was really lost" - then they took me back home; and, boy was I glad they did; I never tried that any more.

During this time I had learned how to mow the yard, plant a garden, raise chickens, and clean them, to wash clothes, be a chamber maid, skate on ice, (using 2 blades on each skate), harness and drive a team of horses, husk corn, make maple syrup, make my own toys, shovel coal, and manage to get through the 4th grade in school.

South to Hammond, LA and to Biloxi, MS

The Story of My Life