Back row, from left: Karen Jo (Hopkins) Norton holding Mitzi Norton, Darrell Ferrin (in plaid shirt), Donald Norton (behind Darrell), Robert Emmett Norton, E.L. Ashlock, Gladys Leota (Grauberger) Norton, Jim Hudson, Betty (Lacey) Hudson nee Norton, Billy Bob Norton being held by Wanda Leota (Norton) Ashlock, Alice Lorene (Norton) Ferrin. Front row, from left: Randy Norton, Greg Norton, Jerry Ferrin, Brent Ferrin, Janet Ferrin, Christa Ashlock, ______ Hudson, Debbie Norton.
Photo by Wendel Ferrin, circa 1960, Protection, Kansas.
Family History Interview with
Donald Eugene Norton & Alice Lorene (Norton) Wilson by Jerry D. Ferrin, 23 Sept 1988, Tucson, Az.Jerry: Who was Betty Norton?
Surnames in this history: Ashlock, Butts, Chronister, Ferrin, Grauberger, Grimes, Hale, Hardin, Hosford, Hudson, Kerstetter, Lacey, Norton, Prillman, Riner, Roark, Schuber, Scott, Tedder & Weber.
Robert Emmett Norton Gladys Leota (Grauberger) Norton William Robert "Bill" Norton
Alice: Betty was Robert William Norton's wife. She was from Coldwater and her maiden name was Lacey. Debbie Norton is her daughter.
Jerry: How did Betty die?
Alice: She died of an overdose of sleeping pills that were a prescription drug. She got hooked on them because she had back problems. She took an overdose. After Bill died, she married...
Don: I don't know what his name was, a big guy.
Don: Yeah, that was it. He worked for Boeing up in Wichita.
Alice: They had two boys and the boys came home from school and found their mother dead. Debbie was 18 years old when their mother died.
Jerry: You were telling me that Roy Norton, your uncle who was killed in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, played Hawaiian-style guitar...
Don: Right. That's about all that I can remember about him. He had picks on his fingers and he was a very good guitarist - that's basically what I remember about him. I was so small when he went in the war.
Alice: He played guitar plus he sang and was real good at yodeling.
Jerry: What were some of Grandma Gladys (Grauberger) Norton's favorite songs?
Alice: "In the Garden", "Good Night and Good Morning", which we had sang at her funeral when she died, "The Old Rugged Cross", "Will the Circle Be Unbroken", "I'll Take My Vacation in Heaven" - and she certainly did get her vacation in Heaven 'cause she never got one before she died.
Don: What about before she got religion?
Alice: Before she became religious, some of her favorite songs were: :'Put My Little Shoes Away", "Letter Edged in Black"...
Jerry: What were some of Grandpa Robert Emmet Norton's favorite songs?
Alice: Well, on the violin he played "Snow Deer" - remember that, Don?
Don: And "Turkey in the Straw".
Alice: I especially remember "Snow Deer". That was his favorite. It was a good dance piece. He liked all the polka music the Shoddish... I remember that we used to go to the dances when Don was 2 or 3 years old, or less, and Dad played the violin at the dances. We'd go in the wagon, usually, and they'd bed us down on the benches when we got tired. And Mom and Dad taught me to dance. And Don was so little - he'd stand between Dad's knees and dance while Dad played. People would throw him money because he was so cute dancin'. Then at the end of the dance, early morning, they'd load us up and drag us home.
Jerry: How did Grandpa act when he played?
Alice: He was very lively. He was good on his fiddle and he played a jew's harp. He played a harmonica some and a banjo some, not a lot as I remember.
Don: We had an old four-string banjo that I could beat time on but I never learned to chord or anything. I used to play that, it seems like, at some of those dances a little bit.
Alice: A little bit, I think.
At left: Charles William Norton & Lettie Ann (Grimes) Norton with their sons, Robert Emmett Norton (standing) and Wesley Roy Norton. Photo from the collection of Christa (Ashlock) Taylor.
Jerry: Do you remember anything about the musical tastes of anyone else in your family such as your Grandpa Charles William Norton?
Alice: I don't remember... I was 16 when Grandpa Charlie Norton died, I don't remember him having any interest in music. He wasn t well. He was just a very quiet, kind, sweet person and that's all I can really remember about him. Grandma Norton (Lettie Ann Grimes Norton) was the one that rode herd on everybody and was the prominent figure in the family, so to speak.
Don: Grandpa had palsy.
Alice: Yeah, he shook from palsy, he wasn't well. He came up and lived with Mom and Dad for several months at a time, or stayed with them because he was sick, and I remember he shook pretty bad. Lettie Norton was the one who liked to wear the pants, so to speak. She smoked and enjoyed her beer. Nobody ever crossed her.
At left: Lettie Ann (Grimes) Norton with one of her sons, either Robert Emmett Norton or Lesley Roy Norton. Photo from the collection of Christa (Ashlock) Taylor.
Don: She was a very heavy smoker and drinker.
Alice: Yeah, which upset Grandpa Norton - Don's and my dad - immensely because he didn't believe in drinking or smoking and he could not feature or understand his mother drinking or smoking or swearing or anything like that.
Jerry: Did she go to a church or belong to a church?
Alice: No. So far as I know, none of my dad's people ever went to church.
Jerry: How about your mother's people?
Alice: Grandpa Carl Grauberger went to church all the time.. different churches, I don't know where he belonged, really, but we could find that out from Aunt Edna Weber. I remember that about every Sunday he would go to church. And Mom didn't always get to attend church when we were growing up but she saw to it that we went to Sunday School and Bible School.
Jerry: Why didn't she get to attend church?
Alice: When we were little, she couldn't drive. Unless it was close enough for us to walk or unless a neighbor took us, she had no way to get us to church.
Don: We normally lived a long way out in the country and there was no way of going. A lot of times Dad was away working in other areas - he wasn't even home.
Alice: We used to walk across the pastures to Bible School when we first moved from Oklahoma to Kansas. And then when we moved into Protection was when Dad got religion and joined the Church of God.
Jerry: Who converted him?
Don: It was because of me really because I had pneumonia and the doctor said I was going to die and I think it was Aunt Net who came over and said the only thing left to do is pray. And Dad, I guess, prayed and made a promise to God that if I lived, he'd start living a Christian life. And supposedly the next morning I was up and wanting to go play. And he turned to religion over that; he kept his promise.
Alice: He turned about face and he did live his religion to the fullest, I mean, the way he believed Christianity should be lived.
Jerry: He never drank or smoked?
Don: He said that when he was young, :he smoked, and that an Indian broke him of smoking somehow with scraping stuff off his fingernails and putting it in his tobacco. And as far as drinking, I guess he tried it a little when he was young, but he never did drink.
Alice: He only used it for medicinal purposes.
Jerry: And what were they?
Alice: Bad, bad colds or flu or something like that.
Don: He'd give us a teaspoon of whiskey with sugar in it - course he also gave us a teaspoon of kerosene with sugar in it.
Alice: And he'd rub your chest with homemade skunk grease or something like that -old homemade Indian remedies.
Jerry: I grew up thinking that if there was anything that swam, walked, crawled, slithered or flew around our part of Kansas, Grandpa Norton would catch it or shoot it, then eat it.
Alice: Pretty much.
Jerry: What sort of game do you remember eating that he had killed?
Don: Rabbits, ducks, geese, quail, pheasants...
Don: I don't remember eating any snakes.
Jerry: Frog legs?
Don: Froglegs, turtles - he loved turtles, especially the big snappers.
Jerry: How would he cook them?
Don: Oh, he fry 'em. He'd clean the meat out of 'em and Mom would fry 'em. He claimed there were 7 different flavors of meat in a turtle.
Alice: There was, too.
Don: It all tasted like chicken to me.
Jerry: What kind of wild greens did you gather and eat?
Alice: We gathered wild greens that were like spinach.
Don: Lamb's quarter.
Jerry: Did you eat watercress?
Alice: We didn't have watercress. We had wild celery, I remember, which we'd chew on sometimes, and wild sugar cane. We had wild plums.
Don: We used horehound to make cough syrup. Horehound grew wild in Oklahoma. It was a weed of some kind. You'd cook it into a liquid - it was awful tastin' stuff.
Jerry: I remember that Grandpa Norton used to have horehound candy.
Don:Yes, he loved it. You can still buy it. It's made all over the world.
Alice: We had wild currants. We made currant jelly. And we had crabapples and crabapple jelly.
Jerry: What did Grandpa grow in his garden?
Don: Peanuts, potatos, tomatos, sweet potatos, corn, beets...
Alice: Green beans, peas, cabbage...
Don: He grew dill for dill pickles. Rhubarb...
Alice: We had turnips...
Don: Mom liked peppers. Dad didn't like 'em. Mom liked green peppers. She always had green bell peppers.
Jerry: What kind of fruit trees did they have?
Alice: He had cherries, black cherries, peaches, plums, apples, pears, apricots...
Jerry: What kind of livestock or barnyard animals did you have when you were growing up?
Don: We always had milk cows.
Alice: Milk cows, chickens, pigs, turkeys, geese, guineas...
Don: I don't believe we had guineas in Kansas, just in Oklahoma.
Alice: I don't believe we did. Guineas in Oklahoma.
Don: We also ate guinea hens. I can remember that.
Alice: We also had ducks.
Jerry: One of my early memories is going past the chicken yard at Grandpa and Grandma Norton's - those geese were so mean. At that time, Darrell and I didn't dare go through there without Grandma Norton with us.
Don: Some of the turkeys would get mean too.
Alice: Yeah, they'd flog the heck out of you. When you walked past, they'd jump on you and flog you with their wings. I remember one time I kept telling Dad that the old turkey gobbler was chasing me and he didn't believe it. I kept cryin' and hollerin'. So one day he found it flogging me so he got it behind the car and pulled it for a ways... it broke it of. it, it never did flog me again. It didn't break its neck but it broke it from flogging me anyway.
Jerry: Did you usually have dogs and cats?
Alice: Yeah, we always had dogs and cats. And horses to ride.
Jerry: Did he also use horses for plowing?
Alice: Yeah, he used horses for farming, but we also had our horses for riding.
Don: That was in Oklahoma before my time, I guess. We didn't have horses in Kansas that I can remember.
Alice: We had two horses, I know, in Oklahoma. One was named Old Man. If he didn't like you riding him when he got tired, he'd rake you off his back by going under the clothesline. Then we had Silver - he was high spirited. We'd ride him and he'd go in the barn to rake you off with the barn door if he didn't like you. Dad always had riding horses.
Jerry: So when you were young and you went someplace, you'd go in a horsedrawn wagon?
Alice: When we were real little, yeah.
Don: When we moved to Kansas, we had a Model-A Ford.
Jerry: Uncle Carl Grauberger told a story about how Uncle Tom Hosford moved your family from Oklahoma to Protection, Ks, and that Uncle Tom drove in first gear all the way.
Alice: Well, he did. He had a car but he couldn't remember what gear was what so half the time he'd chug along in low because he couldn't remember how to shift gears.
Jerry: Who was Uncle Tom Hosford?
Alice: He was married to a sister of my Grand-dad, Charles William Norton. Her name was Rosie Norton. Uncle Tom had two daughters: Belle Tedder and Ida Roark. Ida married Punk Roark - they called him Punk, I don't know what his real name was. Punk Roark had a son called Buddy. He was just a real, real good kid. He was older than I was, about my brother Bill's age, and we used to play together in Oklahoma all the time. When he got a little older, he went into the service. He didn't get along with Ida, Punk's wife, and they always treated Buddy kind of bad. So, anyway, before he went into service he married Ida Mae Chronister. He came home once from the service and when he went back from his furlough was the last time anyone ever saw him. They never did know what happened to him. He disappeared. Nobody ever knew what became of Buddy.
Jerry: He disappeared while on furlough from the service?
Alice: He came home but he never got back to the service so far as anyone knew. He never showed up and they thought that there was foul play but no one could ever prove it. I remember growing up with Buddy. He was a real nice kid.
Jerry: Well, I see that Shirley has made a list of stories she has heard Don tell, so let's ask her what they are.
At left: 'Uncle' Tom Hosford holding Darrell Ferrin at the Norton's house in Protection, Kansas, about 1953. Photo from the collection of Alice (Norton) Ferrin.
Alice: OK, but before we go on, I want to say one thing more about Uncle Tom. When he moved us to Kansas to work for J.B. and Pluma Waters, Uncle Tom worked for Ray Butts the next farm over. When we moved into Protection. we moved into a little, teeny, tiny house. So Uncle Tom, who was not a carpenter , and Dad, who was not a carpenter, decided to enlarge our house: make us a big house. So, anyway, they built a house around the little, tiny, teeny house we lived in and then they threw the house from the inside out and we were left with quite a... well, authentic, very one of a kind type house which we lived in and which Wanda and E.L. Ashlock still live in.
Jerry: Where was the original house?
Don: It was inside the final house. They just built around it.
Jerry: Which room was it in?
Alice: Well, it was just a little, small house, and as they tore down one room, they built one a little bigger...
Don: Didn't they drag in the part that is the kitchen from somewhere else?
Alice: Yeah the kitchen part they brought in and attached to the house.
Don: We had an outdoor bathroom, an outhouse, until Wendel (Ferrin) and I built a regular bathroom on the house.
Alice: And it wasn't even completed when Mom passed away. She'd always wanted a bathroom and she died before it was really completely finished.
Don: We always took our baths in a big old washtub.
Jerry: I can remember getting a bath that way over there when I was little and visitirig with Grandpa and Grandma.
Alice: And if you were the oldest, you got there first and (laughs) the other ones had to bathe in the dirty water. (Laughs) Now, let's go on to Shirley's list of stories.
Shirley: Here's the list, Don, you tell 'em.
Don: One time we had company and Mom made cherry pies. When she'd can cherries, she always canned cherries with pits and without pits and she'd use the ones without pits for the pies. Well, she got them mixed up. Luckily, Dad got the first piece of pie and he bit into it and almost broke a tooth off on one of the pits: Mom had got the cherries mixed up.
Jerry: What did he say?
Don: It seems like he said: "Gladys, you better not give your company this pie."
Don: And I can remember that when I was a small child and we first moved to Kansas Uncle Tom worked for Ray Butts and he used to take me out on the tractor when he was plowing and I used to spend all day on the tractor with him. When 1'd get sleepy, he'd stop and pull weeds and make me a bed on the floorboard of the tractor and I'd sleep right on the tractor with him.
Alice: Another thing that I remember about Mom is that she always wore an apron - and a bonnet if she was in the garden. An apron in those days, was just part of your dress. You wore an apron to keep your good clothes clean so, if company came or you had to run to the store, you took your apron off and your clothes were clean. And she also would gather eggs in her apron and, of course, she'd wipe our tears and our snotty little noses with her apron tail - she'd shoo flies away from the screen door with her apron tail before going through the door so that flies wouldn't get into the house - everything was done around her apron. So, anyway, I took her up to the drug store in Protection one time and she didn't have her apron on but she thought she did. So, before she went into the drug store, she pulled up her dress tail and shooed the flies away from the door. Two or three people saw her and it just embarrassed the devil out of her 'cause they'd seen her underskirt. (Laughs) She was kind of Dutchy: always excited about something.
Don: But I never saw her get mad, even when us kids would be mean, she wouldn't get mad at us, she'd threaten to tell Dad when he got home and that would normally quiet us down because Dad would whip us with a razor strap.
Alice: But we knew she wouldn't tell him 'cause she couldn't stand to see us hurt. She wouldn't tell on us because she didn't want us to get spanked. Once in the while she'd get the fly swatter if we were really, really onrey, but she never wanted any of us hurt in any way, shape or form.
Don: Back to Uncle Tom: he always smoked, chewed tobacco and I guess he drank, though I never saw him drink. He'd smoke cigars until they were too short to smoke in his mouth, then he'd put 'em in his pipe and finish smokin' 'em until they were all gone. He chewed Day's Work plug tobacco.
Jerry: How did he dress?
Don: He always dressed in overalls. I don't think I ever saw him in anything but overalls and a flannel shirt, if I remember right. I don't think he ever wore any short sleeve shirts, even in the hot summertime.
Alice: Just long-sleeved flannel shirts, overalls...
Jerry: And a grey felt hat, right?
Alice: I don't remember him wearing a hat that much, he had real thick white hair and a big, white moustache...
Don: His moustache was always tobacco-stained. He'd smoke a pipe until it stunk so bad that you could hardly stand to be in the room with it, and if he broke it, he'd almost cry because he'd have to get a new one and break it in. So he'd have the stem all taped up and wired up, trying to keep on smokin' it until the pipe just fell apart.
Jerry: When did he die?
Don: I can't remember. I was in the military and gone away when he died.
Alice: It was after we (Wendel and Alice Norton Ferrin and children) moved to Tucson in 1966. He was in the Ashland, Kansas, rest home when he died.
Don: He spent most of his years in Englewood, Kansas; that's where he lived and he used to ride the train over to Protection to visit us. And us kids (William Robert "Bill", Alice Lorene, Donald Eugene and Wanda Leota Norton) would ride the train over to Englewood to spend time with him and Aunt Belle Tedder.
Alice: Belle's kids were: Lowell, Berlice,George Clay and Bonnie Tedder. We used to go back and forth to visit them - and they'd come to visit us - on the old Doodlebug train.
Jerry: When did you and Grandma Nellie Ferrin take me and my siblings for a ride on the Doodlebug? It was just before it quit running. Or maybe Grandma Nellie took us to Pratt, Kansas, on the train.
Alice: I think she took you to Pratt on it. You were little when it stopped running, but I'm not sure what year that was.
Don: I don't remember either but I know that the Doodlebug turned around in Engelwood It ran between Englewood and Wichita, Kansas. Englewood is probably thirty miles from Ashland, Kansas, southwest of Ashland.
Jerry: What was Uncle Tom Hosford's occupation?
Alice: Just working for farmers.
Don: That's all I can remember but, supposedly, at one time he was a sheriff or town marshall or something.
Alice: Yeah, I think he was in Englewood for a little while.
Jerry: I can remember when Darrell and I were real small, we were at Uncle Tom's one time and he showed us a revolver and some badges but I don't recall the story he told about them.
Don: I think he was a Marshall in Oklahoma for a while, but that was before I was born. I don't know that much about it.
Alice: I don't remember either.
Jerry: What were some of the jobs your dad, Robert Emmet Norton, had?
Don: Well, he started out farming for people. I guess he rented land in Oklahoma for a while and when he was a young man he worked for the W.P.A. in Oklahoma. He laid brick...
Alice: He went to Colorado at different times to work on ranches. He worked at Pagossa Springs, Colorado, several different times.
Don: One of his friends, Bill Scott, owned a ranch in Colorado at one time. I think Dad worked for him.
Alice: Yeah, I think he did. That's right.
Don: When we moved to Protection, he worked for farmers. And, then when he got older, ~e trimmed trees. I can remember sawing trees for the fire, because we always had wood-burning stoves to heat the house. He had an old International truck; he'd take a tire off one of the back wheels and run a belt to a buzzsaw and we'd saw wood all day long and have a stack of wood in our yard higher than the house.
Jerry: I recall that circular saw he had rigged up to run off a belt which went around one of the back rims of that old truck. And his pickup - he usually had an old 1950 to '53 GMC or Chevy pickup trucks...
Don: And he had everything in the world on the back of them that you can think of - it looked like a junkyard on the back of his pickup: he hung his saws, his axes and other tools on the side racks. I've helped him cut posts for farmers. He'd cut posts from locust or caltapa trees and sell them. In his later years, he'd haul trash for people. I think he charged twenty-five dollars per month and he'd furnish a 55 gallon oil drum to put the trash in. He mowed yards...
Alice: But he never charged old ladies that didn't have any money or didn't have a husband to do chores for them. He was always going around doing something free for people out of the goodness of his heart.
Don: He was also a good haystacker. A lot of farmers around Protection wanted him to stack their alfalfa bales because his stacks never blew over or fell over.
Jerry: He had a double hernia, too, didn't he?
Don: He had a hernia...
Jerry: I can remember him wearing a truss belt when his hernias bothered him.
Don: Right. And he also had hemmrhoids.
Alice: He wasn t in too good a shape, physically.
Don: After he became religious, he would not go to a doctor because he thought God would heal anything. The first time I can remember him ever going to a hospital was when he got those cysts or growths in his stomach. At one time when we first moved to Protection, he used to go to a chiropractor. He was from Buffalo, Oklahoma, wasn't he?
Alice: Yeah. Then he went to Doc Hale in Protection.
Don: Well, Doc Hale was a chiropractor.
Alice: Before we moved into town, one of my funniest memories was that Mary Sanders and I had dressed up in Mom's old clothes - dresses, bonnets and all that garb - we were out playing and Smokey, our dog, who was quite protective of the farm against people coming around, chased us up the windmill and there we sat for ever so long before Mom could get us down out of the windmill. The dog didn't recognize us.
Don: Maybe you can tell more than I can about the time I had a harrow tooth run in my nose. I was riding on a harrow - we lived in Oklahoma; we had just moved to this place and Dad had borrowed a team of horses and they were real spooky, and they also had knots in the lines and they started turning real sharp and they turned the harrow over on top of me. Dad rushed me to about three towns before he finally found a doctor and they taped my face all up and stopped the bleeding, took me home and Wanda thought I was a booger man and I guess that you got upset with Dad because you thought he had hurt me, but I don't remember that except from having been told about it.
Alice: Yeah, anytime anyone would hurt Don, I would get upset with them, whether it was Dad or Mom or whoever.
Jerry: Is that the scar you've still got right there on the bridge of your nose?
Don: Yeah. Supposedly one of them hit me in the eyebrow and a little bit closer and it would have put my eye out. Plus the one that went in my nose, the doctor said that if it had gone probably one 32nd of an inch deeper, it would have killed me.
Jerry: Will you tell the story about you, Grandpa Robert Norton and the movie theater in Protection?
Don. Dad didn't believe in movies oncst he had become religious and I had snuck off with some friends and gone to a movie. I was sitting in the movie house watching the movie and, all of a sudden, I heard this real deep voice asking: "Is Don Norton in there?". It scared the devil out of me so I jumped up and went out of the back door of the theater and I was home by the time Dad got home.
Jerry: What else didn't he believe in?
Don: Playing cards...
Alice: Dancing, make up, going uptown for a Coke on Sunday afternoon - he didn't believe in anything once he got religious.
Jerry: What was that story you told about putting on make up after you left the house before you went to school?
Alice: Well, I was used to wearing make up and when he decided he didn't want me wearing makeup, he would try to wipe it off. So, I'd wait until I headed for school and put it on, then I'd take it off before I got home so he'd never know.
Don: I can remember him getting quite upset with you when you started dating. If you came in very late at all, he'd tell you that you were going straight to hell.
Alice: Yeah, and you didn't date two guys at a time. You didn't have a date with one guy and then have a date with another guy the same week or later. You went with one guy... you quit him, and you got another boyfriend but you didn't have two or three dates in a short period of time. I mean, even if you weren't serious, even if you didn't know them, you went with one person and if you weren't gonna go with them anymore, you quit 'em and went with somebody else.
Jerry: He was quite a bit older than Grandma Norton, wasn't he?
Alice: Eleven years.
Jerry: Didn't he tell a story about when they met?
Alice: Lydia Grauberger, Mom's mother, died when Carl was six months old and Leroy was two years old. And then there was the other girl who was a little bit younger than Mom. Mom had to quit school and raise the kids - cook and help Grandpa Grauberger and raise the kids. So, anyway, Dad was on a farm next to theirs and he and a friend were riding across the pasture and he saw this shy, real pretty, dark-eyed, dark-haired girl walking across the field. He told his friend: "That's my wife if I never get her". So, sure enough, he started going to see her and he finally won her over and marry her. Then they took Leroy and Carl to raise because the county was going to take them because Grandpa Grauberger wasn't spending enough time with them and raising them, so Dad and Mom took them for a while to raise them.
Jerry: Was he working?
Alice: I guess part of the time. I guess he worked on farms, I don't know. Then, when he got older, he moved into Okeene, Oklahoma and worked for the city. But then Carl went back to live with Grandpa Grauberger when he was in high school, and Leroy went to work for a fellow who owned a dairy. He ended up in Enid, Oklahoma, working for Gold Spot Dairy and has lived there ever since.
Jerry: Is he still living there?
Alice: But we should probably say something about Don and Wanda.
Don: I think we should say something about Grandpa Grauberger: I can remember going and staying with him as a kid, and as a result of rationing during the war, the second world war, he hoarded coffee and sugar. You'd go to his house and under his bed and in every closet he had, there'd be pound after pound of coffee and sugar. And I can also remember that he'd come to visit us in Kansas and he used to smoke. And he told Mom and everybody that he'd quit smokin'. When we went over to get the cow - we had a place called The Seven Acres in Protection where we kept our milk cow, and Grandpa and I would go over there to get the cow and Grandpa would send me over the hill to get the cow and I'd come back over the hill and see him there smokin' and he'd put it out real quick, scared that I'd tell Mom that he was still smokin'.
Don: And I'd also remember that Grandpa Grauberger and I stole some watermelons out of somebody's patch one time. I don't remember... it must have been in Oklahoma.
Alice: (Laughs) I don't remember that either.
Don: But he was a character and I always loved Grandpa Grauberger 'cause he was just like a kid to us.
Jerry: Did he speak to you in German?
Don: He'd speak to Mom in German when he didn't want us to know what they were talking about and I'd embarass Mom periodically because I learned enough German to repeat what she and Grandpa were talking about.
Jerry: So Grandma Gladys Norton spoke German?
Alice: She didn't speak English until she started school. She spoke German till she started first grade.
Don: As far as I remember, Grandpa never spoke German to us kids.
Alice: He couldn't read or write English, though. Don: There was some woman named Ethyl and he used to call her "Asshole" because he couldn't pronounce Ethyl.
Alice: (Laughs) He liked the ladies because, of course, his wife - Grandma Lydia (Schuber) Grauberger - died when their kids were little, so he liked the girls, didn't he, Don?
Alice: He was married a couple times after that, but it didn't last.
Jerry: Who'd he marry?
Alice: I don't remember, a couple of floozies.
From left, back row: Donald Eugene Norton, Betty (Lacey) Norton, William Robert "Bill" Norton, Jerry D. Ferrin being held by his grand uncle, Carl Eugene Grauberger, Robert Emmet Norton, Carl Grauberger, Gladys Leota (Grauberger) Norton.
Front row: Laverne _______(?) Grauberger, Alice Lorene (Norton) Ferrin, Darrell G. Ferrin, Wanda Leota Norton.
Photo by Wendel Ferrin, late 1952, Protection, Comanche County, Kansas.
At left: Bill Norton holding Darrell Ferrin at the Norton's house in Protection, Kansas, about 1953. Photo from the collection of Alice (Norton) Ferrin.
Jerry: Will you talk about Bill Norton, your older brother, for a minute?
Alice: Well, Bill was the oldest, he was almost 2 years older than me. When he was 13 years old, he had Scarlet Fever and it left him with heart damage. The doctor said Bill would live 7 years, but he lived 13 years more before he died.
Don: I can remember that when he was young, the doctor told him he had to stay in bed and couldn't even go to school. So Dad and Mom tried that but Bill was just wasting away- losing a lot of weight and getting weak so Dad said "The devil with that", so he went out and bought him a .22 rifle and a fishing pole and told him to fish and hunt and that if he died, at least he would die a little bit happier. Then Bill started getting better and he went back to school.
Alice: He had that heart condition always - he lived with that, knowing that he didn't have that long to live... He liked cars, old cars, he liked mechanics, he liked to hunt and fish...
Don: He got into photography for a while: he developed his own pictures.
Alice: Yeah, photography, he liked kids - he especially liked kids. In fact, when he died, he was playing with kids.
Don: He was chasing one, wasn't he, with a rope? He was going to rope him and just fell over dead.
Alice: Yeah. He was just playing a game with a lasso with kids when he died. He always liked kids. He was just kind of easy going, maybe because he was always sick.
Don: He was tall and skinny. What was he, maybe six foot two or six foot three? Alice: Yeah he was 6'2" or 6'3".
Don: And he always wore stupid old hats.
Alice: Yeah, Black hats... cowboy hats. And then we had Wanda... I can't remember where she was born Where was she born?
Jerry: Five miles east and five miles south of Hennessey, Oklahoma.
Alice: Oh, well, she must have been born shortly before we moved to Kansas. What do we remember about her?
Don: I can remember shooting her with a BB gun once. She was following me and wouldn't quit when I told her to quit so I shot her with my BB gun. The folks were pretty upset about about that.
Alice: I remember that she got the piano lessons. The folks never would let her work out. I worked out from the time I was in the 5th grade. I worked for Grace and Bud Prillman when we were still in the country south of Protection. Then, when we moved into town, I continued to work. I worked for Chet Hardin...
Jerry: What kind of work were you doing?
Alice: Just housework.
Jerry: Ironing and cleaning and stuff like that?
Alice: Yeah, and canning... and I worked for Roy Kerstetter, Nevin Riner. and I worked in the locker plant in Protection packaging meat, grinding hamburger and stuff like that.
Jerry: How old were you?
Alice: I worked there when I was a freshman and in the beginning of my sophmore year in high school. And I worked in the local hardware store at the counter. And I worked in a cafe, but the folks never would let Wanda work. But the funny thing I remember about Mom was that we finally got a piano and Wanda could have lessons. And Dad was supposed to do some work for this old gal who was giving Wanda lessons. She lived at Coldwater. She was giving Wanda piano lessons. She was coming to the house - fifty cents a lesson - but she spent all her time flirting with Dad instead of teaching Wanda piano. Well, that would upset Mom so, finally, she wouldn't let her come around there any more to give Wanda lessons.
Jerry: Did Wanda ever learn to play the piano?
Alice: A little bit, not a lot.
Jerry: How did you preserve the food that Grandpa and Grandma grew?
Alice: Canning it, smoking it or curing it with salt.
Jerry: Did you bury stuff in the ground, like turnips, to preserve it?
Alice: Yeah: turnips, potatos and apples. We'd hang the onions.
Don: Hang 'em and dry 'em.
Alice: We grew a lot of peanuts in Oklahoma in the Sand Hills, so we'd bring those in and put 'em in an old granary until they got dry and ready to roast and us kids would get into them and eat those raw peanuts and we'd end up with bellyaches sometimes. Then Mom would bring the peanuts in and roast them in the oven and we'd sit around and eat roasted peanuts in the evenings.
Don: I can remember that we very seldom got toys for Christmas when we were kids but they'd put fruit and nuts in our shoes and, when we got up on Christmas morning, we'd always find nuts and stuff like that in our shoes.
Alice: The big event of the year after we moved to Kansas was Easter. Mom always made a big thing out of Easter. She'd always get up early, go out and make nests - actually make holes in the ground, put grass in them, put eggs in then she'd tell us that the Easter Bunny had brought them and we believed her for years and, even after we were bigger, she would still do the same thing.
Jerry: She used to make colored eggs, didn't she?
Alice: Yeah, she colored eggs and hid 'em. That was when we used to have family reunions, at Easter time. That's when our relatives from Oklahoma would come up. Remember, we'd have a big, big get-together at Easter?
Jerry: And who would be present?
Alice: Well, Grandpa Carl Grauberger and young Carl Grauberger and usually Uncle Rueben and Aunt Edna Weber... of course, all of Mom's kids.
Jerry: How about your Norton relatives?
Alice: They didn't usually come to those family reunions.
Don: In fact, they didn't come to Protection hardly ever.
Alice: We'd go to visit them in Oklahoma but they never traveled.
Don: I remember going down there in that old Model A Ford to visit them. We'd stop at those little grocery stores - there used to be a lot of little grocery stores along the highway - and we'd stop and get lunch meat and bread, and that's what we ate. Once in a while, we'd get a Coke or Pepsi or something.
Alice: That was a treat to get a Coke. I remember the first Coke I ever drank. It was a little tiny bottle and it fizzed up - I thought that was the greatest thing in the world.
Jerry: Where were you at?
Alice: A little filling station somewhere as we were going to Oklahoma to visit somebody.
Don: It was only about 150 miles but it would take several hours to get there. Those old Model A's would only drive about 30 miles per hour.
Jerry: Did Grandpa Robert Norton sing when he played the fiddle?
Don: Normally, not at the dances that I can remember, of course, I was too small to remember much about them.
Alice: No, I don't remember Dad singing. After he joined the church, he'd sing some but he didn't usually sing.
Jerry: Your brother Bill played guitar some too, didn't he?
Alice: Some, yeah.
Jerry: Did he sing?
Alice: Oh, he sang as he played, but I don't remember that he was outstanding -he did it for fun.
Jerry: Do you have any stories about Don when he was growing up?
Alice: Well, it seems as though all the time we were growing up, I was always protecting him as he went through all his onrey little things I wouldn't tell Mom on him. She would tell me things he would do but I would never admit I knew it. He was just the usual onrey kid as he grew up as I remember. He was always popular with the kids in school; he always had a lot of buddies.
Don: I started working for farmers before I started high school.
Alice: I can remember when he started working, he could hardly see over the steering wheel; he started driving tractors and pitching bales. He worked all through high school. And he played football.
Jerry: What position?
Don: I played running back or defensive end most of the time.
Jerry: And then you went into the Air Force soon after you got out of Protection High School?
Don: I graduated in May and went into the Air Force in June; and I spent the next 20 years in the Air Force. I went thru Basic Training in San Antone, Texas, then I went from basic training to Amarillo, Texas - that's where I went to Tech. School as an aircraft mechanic - I left there and went to Loring, Maine, as an aircraft mechanic, then I went to Austin, Texas - still working on aircraft I went from Austin, Texas to _____ville, Arkansas - then they decided to cross-train me into Electronics and I went into Missle Guidance and I went thru school at Wichita Falls, Texas, I went from there to Lincoln, Nebrasha. When they phased the missile out of the inventory and I went into Ground Radio Communications and I went back to Biloxi, Mississippi to school, and from Biloxi I went to Wichita Kansas and I was in Communications - or Ground Radio if you want to call it that - on the Titan II missle. I went from there to Labrador on a radar site as an air to ground radio technician. I went from Labrador back to Mississippi where I was in Quality Control on electronic equipment; I went from Biloxi, Mississippi, to England and then I retired after I left England. Of course, I had TDY duty in Iceland and some other places.
Jerry: And TDY means...
Don: Temporary Duty assignment - it wasn't a permanent assignment; you'd go there for a while to perform duties.
Jerry: You were meritoriously advanced a number of times, weren't you?
Don: I always got promoted ahead of when I was supposed to: I made Senior Master Sargent in 20 years, which was pretty difficult to do. I had the offer to make Chief Master Sargent, which is the highest you can make, but I would have had to sign up for 2 more years and I was tired of moving so I went ahead and got out. I had already been selected for it.
Jerry: I recall how proud Mom has been of you over the years for how well you did in the Air Force and how rapidly you advanced.
Don: I was called "the teenaged Master Sargent": I made Master Sargent so fast that some of my friends were calling me "the teenaged Master Sargent".
Alice: As I said before, he was very ambititious, very good in school, very intelligent... he was also pretty mischievious; he was always up to something -trying~to stay a step ahead of Mom She used to send us to school... one morning it was so foggy we couldn't hardly see to get there, it's a wonder we got there, it was a mile across the field, and he was always on my shirt tail. I remember one day, after I was married and had already left home, I went over home and Mom took me into his bedroom, closed the door, promised me to secrecy, opened a drawer and got this little man in a wooden barrel out: when you pushed on its head, the barrel came up and the man's little privates showed; Mom was very shocked that her son would have something like that. And one time he got loaded and came home wearing someone else's coat; and then he would get sick on hamburgers, he told Mom, but really he had had one too many beers. He was very normal when he grew up.
Don: I used to smoke while I was in high school and I didn't think Mom knew about it. She told me, years later after I had left home, that she had known I smoked because when she washed my shirts, there was always loose tobacco in the bottom of the pockets.
Alice: In other words, Mom knew just about everything that went on...
Don: But she never told Dad and Dad didn't know it; he didn't know how onrey we were.
Alice: Don came home from school for lunch one day and I happened to be there... his cigarettes fell out on the divan so, trying to convince Mom that they weren't his, he actually got up and went over and threw them in the wood stove and just didn't know how in the world those cigarettes got there.
Don: Alice put them there.
Alice: Mom told me later: "Sis, I knew those were his cigarettes". (Laughs)
Don: I was still in high school and had a '46 Ford coupe. I was working on the elevator - building a new elevator in Coldwater and the foreman and I had had gone up to a dance in Greensburg one night and we were drinking. This guy was pretty drunk and he sat his beer upside down on the floorboard of my car. The next morning I was home and Dad and Mom got up to go to church. Their car wouldn't start so they wanted to drive mine. When they got home from church, Dad said: "Who's been smoking in your car? It smells like a pool hall". He thought that the smell was from smoke but it was actually from beer being spilled in the car.
Alice: Dad and Mom were very, very generous, kind, hard-working parents. You might not have had everything you wanted financially - or thought you wanted - but you always had plenty of food and plenty of security. They were very generous, not only to us, but to everybody around them. If anybody needed a pair of shoes and Dad only had one pair, he'd give them the shoes off his feet.
Jerry: I remember a guy from down the street coming to borrow shoes from Grandpa Norton one time.
Alice: That was one of the Duncan boys; he needed a pair of shoes to go to a funeral so Dad went and got his only pair of dress shoes and let him wear them to the funeral.
Don: Mom could make food out of anything. Even when she didn't have enough to make it out of, somehow she could make it stretch: no matter who showed up, she always had enough food to feed everybody.
Alice: That's the thing we remember most about her: no matter who came down the road, Dad would drag them in to eat, or - if we had friends over - there was always food for everybody. It never made a difference how many people were there. We always told her that she was such a good cook that she could boil a dishrag and make soup out of it.
Jerry: What German foods did she make?
Alice: Case noodles...
Don: Rivacanoova, whatever that is.
Alice: Cabbage biscuits - bread with cabbage inside - I don't know the German name for them.
Alice: Something which Dad called Fruit Soup; it had a German name. I can tell you the-name of it later.
Jerry: Did she make sausage?
Alice: She always made sausage and had lots of pork.
Don: A lot of times, Dad would shoot jackrabbits and mix the rabbit meat in with the pork sausage; it made the sausage a little leaner and it also made the jackrabbit edible. Mom made some sort of cheese, a white cheese and a yellow cheese. I don't know that they had any particular name. She always had big 5-gallon crocks of Dill pickles and sauerkraut.
Alice: And plenty of home-made bread. That's how Don and I learned how to run fast: we used to try to get home first to get the heel off the bread.
Don: Dad insisted on home-made bread. He said that eating "boughten" bread was just like going out and letting the moon shine down your throat. And he had to have gravy for every meal.
Alice: Then, as we got out of high school, we all got married. Bill married Betty Lacey and a month before their first daughter, Debbie, was born, Bill died of his heart attack. Then I got married and moved the the farm outside Wilmore and that's when I started having my family. Don, of course, married and had his family while he was moving all over in the service. Wanda got married, stayed around Protection, lived part of the time with the folks and part of the time just around there close. Then, when Wendel and I and our kids (Darrell, Jerry, Brent and Janet) moved to Tucson in 1966 was when our (extended) family started kind of breaking up. After Mom passed away in '63, everybody kind of scattered, then Dad died died in '73 and that kind of ended our being close in miles. We've continued to stay close, but not in miles.
Don: Of course, being in the military, from about 1955 on, I wasn't around the folks that~ much. I was always quite a ways away.
Alice: Where were you when Mom died?
Don: Lincoln, Nebraska. When Grandma Lettie Norton died, I was in Labrador. I don't remember where I was at when Grandpa Grauberger died; which year did he die in?
Jerry: He died the 23rd of November, 1969, in Okeene, Oklahoma.
Carl E. Grauberger, 20 April 1886 - 23 November 1969, and his wife, Lydia (Schuber) Grauberger, 1888 - 1926, are buried in the Ebenfeld Cemetery, Okeene, Blaine County, Oklahoma.
Photo of Carl E. Grauberger's gravestone
Photo of Lydia (Schuber) Grauberger's gravestone
This web page was added to this site by Jerry Ferrin, July 7th, 2002. Thanks to Christa (Ashlock) Taylor for the photos of Charles W. Norton's family.