SLOW SUNDAY AFTERNOONS WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
Arley was born in Polk County—maybe at Wetmore—near Delano. Chester Moss seemed to be his primary link back to where his life began. There was a perception that they were cousins but I haven’t discovered the link. I do know these two men had a strong bond of shared memories and that they loved the countryside where they were born.
Some of my earliest memories are a series of Sunday afternoon drives through the country to visit the Mosses. We would go after church, Harriett still in her Sunday best dress, hat and purse. I can’t imagine why she didn’t change to comfortable clothes! On the drive to Delano, Arley would point out familiar sites along the way where he’d spent his early years.
As soon as we got out of the car, it was like stepping into a different world. Everything seemed so slow moving and peaceful. Chester would be wearing tan workclothes and a hat, and his wife Ada a simple print dress. They had three daughters, the older two already grown, but their youngest Haroldean was always kind enough to entertain me (although she was about 10 years older).
The men would sit outside on wooden cane bottom chairs under a big tree. Chester liked to tilt his chair backward against the tree as he talked. Arley always seemed more relaxed here than anywhere else. Sometimes they would walk around the farm, checking out the crops and livestock. I think Chester had horses, and that was another shared love with Arley.
I was most fascinated with their house! It was old, unpainted wood, with a tin roof and heated by a fireplace. Just stepping inside was like going to another world. The house was always dark, with wallpapered walls and unfinished wooden floors. The furniture was dark and there was always a strong smell of smoke from the fireplace. The old clock on the mantel ticked loudly and chimed on the quarter hour. They cooked on a wood stove, used a dipper and bucket to get water from their well. There was no indoor toilet and they were still using kerosene lamps.
Those Sunday afternoon visits eventually became less frequent over the years and then stopped. Chester died at age 90 in 1980 and Ada at 104 in 1996. They were still living on the Moss farm near Delano. This week I found a 2019 online obituary for Haroldean—Wilma Haroldean Moss Wiggins of Polk County . It listed her parents, siblings, children and grandchildren. It said she had worked many years at The Drug Store in the county seat of Benton. There was a slideshow including photos from her early years on the farm. I remember the place she first called home. It was a wonderful place to visit on Sunday afternoons!