Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Quiet Man

Arthur Boucher was a quiet man who didn't argue, complain, or talk too much. He began life in Texas County, Missouri, the son of Samuel Boucher and Rossea Whitlock. It was Rossea's second marriage; Art had a half sister named Pearl, and two brothers, Luther and Edward. Edward did not live long. Art was born in 12 February 1880. He was a handsome man, about six feet tall and slender, with dark wavy hair and brown eyes. As an older man, he was bald and wore glasses, but was still a handsome man.

Art grew up in Willow Springs, Howell, Missouri. He went to school with several cousins, and his future wife, Leta Lavina Murray. Leta remembered the first time she saw Art. He was standing in front of the stove in the school room. It was February 12th. He looked at her and said, "Two great men were born today, me and Abraham Lincoln."

He finished high school and went to work for the Santa Fe Railroad. In 1903, he and Luther moved to Tacoma, Pierce, Washington, where he worked for the Northern Pacific Railroad. A year later, Leta took the train to Tacoma where they were married on 20 April 1904. Art's mother, Rossea, traveled with Leta and lived with them for the first 17 years of their marriage.

Art had a long career with the Northern Pacific. When he retired, he had worked for 32 years without being absent for a single day's pay. He spent 43 years working for railroads, 41 years with the NP. He started at the South Tacoma paint shops in July, 1903. and was transferred to the store department at South Tacoma in 1907. In September 1916, he went to the position of chief clerk to the division storekeeper at Spokane. Then in 1922 he was transerred to the division accounting office in Spokane. Lastly, in 1932 he was transferred to the district accounting office in Tacoma, where he worked up to the time of his retirement.

Art and Leta had five chilren. Wanda was born in 1905, Russell in 1906, and Dale in 1908; all in Tacoma. Tragedy struck the little family on 10 April 10 1913, when Wanda died suddenly. About Wanda, Betty said, "The family had taken a trip back to Missouri for a visit. Although they had no relatives back there, Mother's family had all moved west, they had many friends who they had grown up with and with whom they corresponded all of their lives. On the return trip from Missouri, Wanda became ill on the train. She died shortly after they got home of tubercular meningitis. My mother always told me that Wanda was such a good child; almost too good. I know that Dad worshipped her and he grieved for her for many years. I was never told much about Wanda. I suppose it was because Mother and Dad didn't want to be reminded. Mother did tell me that I took Wanda's place with Dad. There were no other girls in the family; just Wanda and myself."

After Art was transferred to Spokane, Betty was born in 1921, and Bill in 1922. That must have been something of a shock for parents in their forties. Betty and Bill were both born at home, 2924 Standard, in Spokane. Art owned a Model T Ford in Spokane, which they drove in the summer. Art "put it up on blocks" in the winter and they rode the street car. Art had a big garden and Leta kept chickens. He was an avid fisherman.

In 1931, they returned to Tacoma and bought a house at 4332 South Bell Street, where they lived for many years. During World War II, Betty bought the house next door to them. When the war was over, Betty and Ray built a house at 8418 East B Street, next door to her brother Bill and his wife, Frankie. So Art bought the lot next door to Betty and built a one bedroom retirement home for them. Their address was 8422 East B Street.

The house had a long hallway that was covered with snapshots of family and loved ones. Their kitchen was yelllow and contained a large, black wood stove that made the best toast in the world. Leta also had a wringer washer machine in her small laundry room off the kitchen. They still kept chickens and they had a large vegetable garden. A bulletin board next to the back door contained sayings and clippings of items of interest. One poem, in particular, always caught my attention. It said--
It doesn't do to do much talkin',
When you're mad enough to choke.
For the word that hits the hardest,
Is the word that's never spoke.
Let the other fella do the talkin',
'Till the storm has rolled away.
Then he'll do a heap a thinkin',
'Bout the things you didn't say.

In their later years, Art sat in his rocking chair with his feet up, pipe in his mouth, hat on his head, listening to the radio. He enjoyed baseball. The picture over his rocker was a needlepoint Russell made for their 50th wedding anniversary of their family tree with their children and grandchildren represented on the branches of the tree. Leta sat in her little rocking chair and did embroidery or made crocheted rugs from old clothing. Art wasn't much for going places, but Leta had her social outings and rode the bus since they did not own a car. Every afternoon he would get up from his chair and walk to the mail box for the mail. And that was as far as he went.

On 20 April 1954, Art and Leta celebrated their Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary. All of their family gathered together to honor them at a reception held at the Plymouth Congregational Church where the family attended church together.

Art's most singular trait was that he was a quiet man. His daughter, Betty said that if he didn't like something you never knew it because he didn't say. He had a little sign next to his chair that said, "Ve get too soon oldt undt too late schmart." As his granddaughter, I remember drinking buttermilk with him. It's how I learned to love buttermilk. On birthdays my mother would purchase two cans of pipe tobacco, one of Velvet and one of Granger, which he mixed together. That was what we always got him.

When he was old, the doctor told him to quit smoking, so he did. He started eating potato chips and chocolates. Then they told him to give those up too. I always thought he died because there just wasn't anything left he could do. I thought it would not have hurt to let him enjoy his candy and chips.

Art died on February 24, 1967. He was eighty-seven years old.

1 comment:

Honor said...

their Bell St. house wasn't far from here.