My life in Florida began when Mom and Pop, along with Grandma and Grandpa (Theron) Clark and Uncle Harry Clark decided to homestead. Each couple had 160 acres. I was six months old and my brother Wayne was two years old. The family lived a year in St. Cloud while we got ready to move to the "claim." Grandpa was a carpenter, and he worked at this in St. Cloud. Mom wrote penny picture postcards to her sister Lemo, back in Garrett, Indiana. She talked about the wonder of going barefoot in December. My sister Mary was born on February 22, 1911. When she was seventeen days old, Pop drove all of us in a wagon pulled by Grandpa's horse out to the one-room "shack" he and Grandpa had constructed in the pine woods of our homestead. Here we were to spend our next five years.
The claim did not prosper for there was no capital to set out an orange grove or begin a herd of cattle. Mom and Pop had decided not to sell their home in Garrett, Indiana. Our family was very poor. Mary and I played in the sand, pulling an old kettle with a rope tied to it. We enjoyed the woods where we found a bird's nest, down low. We saw terrapins, squirrels, cranes, and various kinds of snakes. Mary and I enjoyed bouncing in the branches of fallen trees, and we were excited when the neighbor's cattle would roam close to our shack--there were no fences. Once Pop shot through the kitchen screen door at some animal marauder after the chickens. I don't remember if he hit the animal or not, but I remember the hole in the screen door.
I walked to a little schoolhouse for a few months, crossing a small creek on a log, getting there more or less on time, as Mom used "sun time." We put on a program one time and little Mary was in it, even though she wasn't in school. "Merry, merry, rollicking, frolicking May, into the woods came skipping one day." Mary wasn't even in school yet. She forgot the last line, went back to her seat, remembered it, and went back up front and finished it. What a cutie she was!