Clifford L. and Sadie Ellis Clem
Written by Clifford L. Clem
Submitted by  Bob Heliker at

Many times while I was trying to write about my parents or grandparents, I wished I had written while Dad and Grandpa were still available to clarify the many questions which have risen. I made the statement that it would have been easier if Dad and Grandpa had left the story of their own lives. Remembering this statement, I will try to find something about my life, which may be interesting and of value to my descendants. I would also urge the other descendants of A. Ralph Clem to write an account of their lives and include such memories as they have.

Being a P. K. (preacher's kid) meant that we moved often. I hated those moves. L I hated to leave the friends I had made and the school I had gotten used to. I hated to walk into the new school and face all the students staring at me. I soon found friends in the new locations, however, and discovered that there were too friends to be found everywhere.

All our moves prior to 1928 were done by train. A month or more before the date of moving, Dad would begin to pack our belongings in boxes and barrels, being careful to list the contents of each box. The boxcar had to be ordered in ample time to have it on the sidetrack the day of moving.

On moving day, the men from the church would come to the parsonage with horses and wagons. All our belongings were loaded into the wagons, and the wagon train started to the railroad, as distance of perhaps 5 miles. Prior to 1915, Dad owned a horse and buggy, and possibly a cow. There too were loaded into the boxcar. Dad traveled in the freight train to look after his stock, while Mother, Esther and I traveled to our new home in a passenger train.  Later, when Dad had no livestock, the loaded boxcar was sealed and the family drove to our new home.

When the boxcar reached its destination, another wagon train hauled our belongings to our new home.

After 1928, our moving was done by truck. This was much easier because the goods were picked up at one house and delivered at another house. This moving by truck has continued to present time, but the open farm trucks have changed to the modern moving vans.

In 1918, eight of us began our education in the little white schoolhouse about a mile east of Elk Valley Church. Our teacher was a young man named Emery Austin. The school offered all grades from first to eighth in one room. In the front of the room was a bench where each class recited.

One Saturday, some boys decided to take honey from bees that had swarmed in the attic of the schoolhouse. Somehow, the smoker didn't work as they had planned and the schoolhouse burned to the ground. It wasn't long until 1" x 12" boards were fastened to the backs of some of the pews of the church to act as desks and school continued in Elk Valley Church the rest of the year.

In the spring, Esther came down with scarlet fever, and the parsonage was quarantined for six weeks.  Groceries could be brought to us and left in the yard for Dad to pick up. Nothing was to pass from the quarantined house. At the end of six weeks, the doctor came out to examine us and lift the quarantine.  However, the doctor said I had scarlet fever, so we were isolated an additional six weeks. I was not sick, but I was not allowed to go barefooted.

Maybe I should mention the process that was necessary to get out of quarantine. At that time people believed that the germs lived indefinitely, and that the disease could be contacted by such things as pulling off loose wallpaper. Several fumigation candles were purchased. All of the books were taken off of the shelves, and stood up in an open shape. All clothing was taken out of the drawers and hung around the house so the fumigation would penetrate the cloth. A special medicated soap was purchased and each person was to take a bath and shampoo his or her hair. The clothes we had been wearing were thrown into the house to be fumigated, and we put on clean clothes. The fumigation candles were lighted, and after several hours, we could enter the stinky but germless house.

I remember World War I when we lived at Alda, Nebraska. Each noon or recess, we boys marched back and forth across the playground carrying our stick guns. We students were also taught to knit and each student knitted six inch squares. When we had made enough squares, somebody sewed them into a blanket of many colors.

I remember early in the morning a train stopped at our village and tooted the whistles. Eventually somebody went to see what the reason was. That was Nov. 11, 1919, and World War I was over. School was dismissed, and many of us celebrated in Grand Island, Nebraska. The date of November 11 was kept as a holiday for many years.

Some time while we lived in Alda, a bandleader organized a town band. Dad played the cornet, and I had a piccolo. However, I spent more time blowing Dad's horn than I did practicing my piccolo. I don't think I contributed very much to that band, but when I tot to high school, I played the coronet in the band and orchestra. We didn't have the nice uniforms as the high school musicians have today, but sometimes we had hats to designate we were in the band.

In the fall of l928, I went to Nebraska Central College at Central City, Nebraska, a school owned and operated by the Friend's Church. About four weeks after school started, the Allen bank closed. I went to each person I had given a check to and gave him the news that my check was no good. However, the checks didn't come back at once, and I was able to pay for each check as it returned.

In 1932, I graduated from Nebraska Central College, and looked for work. However, it was more than a year before I found steady work.  With the prospect of steady work starting at $8.00 per week, Sadie and I were married on August 16, 1933. Wages continued low, but they gradually raised.

World War II came on us and I registered for the draft. I drew number 63, and in a short time my number came up.  By this time, we had three little boys who looked to me for a living. We were expecting another child in February, so I asked the draft board if my draft could be deferred until after the baby was born.  The draft board said that if I would get into defense work that they would defer me as requested.  I went to work at Windcharger, a defense factory in Sioux City, Iowa. We continued to live on a farmstead outside of Allen for a time until we could move to Sioux City.

After the war, Windcharger Company began to close the defense work. I went to work for a carpenter, but it wasn't long until Dad needed some help, so I went to work with him  (Dad was not preaching at this time, and was carpentering full time.) I enjoyed working with Dad, but Sadie and I wanted to move to Greenleaf, Idaho.  We knew that if we were gong to make this move we should go soon because our boys were nearing high school age.  In the fall of 1948, we moved to Greenleaf, Idaho, where I had a job building houses. We felt everything was going our way.

About Christmas time, we finished the houses we were building, and the company closed down for the winter. Yes, these were hard times for us, for I had taken off time to make arrangements to move to Idaho, and the moving cost money. However, several small jobs came along, and the three months without steady work taught us to look further ahead.

I loved carpenter work, and I continued this work in Idaho, but I also learned that carpentering closed down during the winter months. The best thing to do was to look for work for the winter, and I could carpenter in the summer months. I took a contract to teach school in 1953, and enjoyed working with young people.  Sadie and I both taught until we retired in 1974.

When we retired, we sold our house in Grangeville, Idaho, and moved to a beautiful mobile home park near Tigard, Oregon. We are close to or children and have many friends here. We have enjoyed our retirement.

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