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The Chores

The Armstrong family home was located on Algoma Avenue, just north of 14 Mile Road. Cedar Creek flows through the farm. Photo courtesy of the Algoma Township Historical Society.

By Eloise Armstrong Covey
Courtesy of the Algoma Historical Society

Eloise Armstrong Covey died in June at the age of 90. She was a longtime resident of Algoma Township and often shared her memories and stories of her childhood with The Post. We are reprinting a story here that ran in the Algoma Township Historical Society newsletter.

When I was a little girl we lived on a 120-acre farm that my parents, Milton and Minnie Armstrong, owned on what is now Algoma Avenue and 14 Mile Road. Helping with the chores was a required thing with all farm kids, and after we came home from school, we changed from our school clothes to our work clothes, as there was plenty of work to be done. We usually had about eight or ten head of milking cows plus calves, horses, pigs and chickens.

The cows were pastured in the woods, about an eighth mile from the barn and where Cedar Creek ran through it. We would have to go down the stump fence-lined lane, find the cows and drive them up the lane to the barn. Sometimes they were ornery and ran across the creek and we would have to wade across and drive them back. I learned to milk cows when I was very young. The calves nursed from their mothers for a while and then they had to be taught to drink from a pail. We would put some warm milk in the pail and dip our fingers in the milk and then put our fingers in the calves’ mouth and then we slowly lowered our hand into the pail until they learned to drink from the pail.

In the winter, the fence lane would fill with snowdrifts between the stumps but we still had to drive the cows to the creek for water until the lane filled completely with snow and the creek froze. Then we had to pump water by the hand pump and carry it to the barn for the animals to drink after the path to the barn was shoveled. Chickens and pigs also had to be cared for and wood chopped and carried in for the kitchen stove and the living room stove.

In the evening, we studied by kerosene lamps and went to bed by 9:00 p.m. Chores had to be done in the morning before we changed to school clothes for another day at school.

We did not have electricity for many years. My parents got electricity when I was about 18 years old.

How well I remember the cold, snowy, shoveled path to the “out house” and the Sears & Roebuck Catalog for toilet paper.

Food had to be carried to the basement in summer to keep it as cool as possible. Vegetables and fruits were kept there for winter use.

I’m glad I experienced those years. We were happy and pretty healthy. God bless us. I’m glad for the “good old days” but more for the conveniences of today!

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One Response to “The Chores”

  1. Ron Rhoades says:

    I am 75 years old and also lived in Algoma township. I lived on the 16 mile road and went to Algoma school. I remember all 8 grades in the one the room school. I remember pumping water from the iced up pump and wading through snow drifts to get to school. My family was dysfunctional so I left home and went to Chicago to complete my schooling. I had a friend at the school whose name was Bruce Armstrong, maybe a relative of Eloise. Thanks for the memories.

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