Strieter Autobiography: Various Boyhood Tales
August 26, 2015 Leave a comment
I would like to relate a few more snippets from my youth.
When I was just a boy, my sister Christiana worked in Manchester for a merchant named Keith. There were two brothers; the oldest was an old bachelor, and the younger one was married but had no children. The younger, a short and very friendly man, brought my sister home in the buggy for a visit and approached my father, asking him to relinquish me to him. He wanted to take me in as his son. He would give me a good training, and if I turned out well, I would go into his business. He had a large general store. He really pressed my father, and toward me he was uncommonly friendly. I took a terrible liking to the idea too, but my father shook his head: “Nothing good will come of it! Deceit sticks between buyer and seller like a nail in the wall. There you will turn into a worldling on me and will too easily get lost eternally on me.” Our dear God would not have it that I become a rich storekeeper.
Another small occurrence: There were two eighty acre plots next to each other, running south to north lengthwise. The eastern eighty were divided. On the southern forty a Hessian family, the Gosenheimers, lived on the southern end. Mr. Gosenheimer was a master tailor. Mrs. Gosenheimer’s sister was there, and they had a boy, somewhat smaller and younger than I. They took us into their home until my father had built his log house. Our house was erected on the northern half of the eighty acres in the east end. On the western eighty a man named Hoberger lived on the west side. Once my father sent me to him on an errand very early in the morning. I headed through the woods. When I was halfway there, a large marsh lay in front of me to the right. Over there, beyond the marsh, was a field. An animal, black, was approaching me across the field. I stopped and asked myself, “What could it be? It’s not a sheep; it’s hanging its head to the ground. It’s also not a pig; it’s much too big. It’s not a dog either.” It came to the fence; then I could tell what it was. It climbed up on the rails and then tumbled down. Ah, it’s a bear! The brute came lumbering right at me. “What should you do? Run away? Then he’ll run after you. Climb up a tree? He can certainly climb too.” I positioned myself behind a tree. I had a dog with me. He soon saw the guy too and started growling softly. I told him to stop. When the bear, a frightfully large guy, was still fifteen rods [82.5 yards] or so in front of me, I thought, “This is it!” I step forward, and Mr. Bear looks up and sees me, hesitates a little while and—then turns aside somewhat to the left and starts running. Now I felt relieved, took care of my errand, returned home, and told my story. Soon after that the poor guy was shot.
Another occurrence: We had a lake to the north, a mile or so away, Lake Pleasant. We, my brother and I, often bathed in it. One time we swam far out and then turned around for shore. We were maybe a few rods [20 yards] or so from shore when I thought, “You can certainly wade now,” and let myself down. But the water went over my head. Now because I was so certain, I started swallowing water right away and immediately I was gone. My brother, five years older and much bigger, noticed it immediately. He grabbed me – he was able to stand – and held me up until I came to my senses.
Another little story: One day we rode the horses to the waterhole, perhaps twenty rods [110 yards] from the stable, but didn’t have any bridles, nothing in our hand but the halter strap. After the waterhole we rode a bit further, a short pleasure ride. We turn, and I put my horse into a gallop, with my brother and his horse following, and we race the horses as fast as they’ll go. On the way it occurs to me: “The stable door is still open. If your horse rushes on in, you are dead.” I get scared, but can’t do anything but jump off, and we’re going much too fast for that. In front of the stable door there was a tall manure pile. Before I came to it, I forcefully shouted, “Ho!” Suddenly my horse stopped and next thing I knew, I was lying on my back on the manure, with my head toward the horse.
One more: It was winter and my mother was visiting my sister Rosine in Scio – Karl Müller’s place – and got sick. She suffered a lot from rheumatism. She was referred to an old English doctor, who was not actually practicing any more and lived on his farm, which was maybe ten miles or so west of us. We received word that we should go to the doctor and get medicine for her. I get on the horse and go. From the doctor though I ride off straight for Müller’s. It was bitterly cold, and evening was setting in. I rode over there on a newly installed road34 that led to the path along which Müllers lived. Suddenly I have to go down a very steep hill. My horse’s hind feet slipped and he sat down and did not get back up until we reached the bottom. Now I was headed to the Müllers. My horse was tired and I was too. I was riding slowly. All at once I became very sleepy. I had heard that you should not fall asleep, otherwise you would freeze to death. I forced my eyes wide open, but I was already pretty much out. It seemed to me like I was seeing a rider on a large, black horse hurrying toward me in a dream. As I was dreaming this, next thing I knew that horse was running right past me. My dream was actually happening. That collision woke me up and now I put my horse in a drive, and pretty soon I was there.
34 Perhaps what is today State Road 52.
[Read the next part here.]