P Is For Picnic at Hayrick Mound

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Vining and McGhee families climb Hayrick Mound_Roxio

As told to Gail Martin by her Aunt Bertha McGhee

“On the 4th of July 1916, the McGhee and Vining families of the Tyro, Kansas area had a picnic up on Hayrick Mound, south of Tyro just over the state line in Oklahoma. Our family was all there. Ethel was just a year and a half old and I was thirteen. Besides Grandma Vining with Ruth and Albert, Francis Vining’s family and the Boltes, and Lucy’s family were there. Our family and the Vining family had become close friends in the 6 years we’d lived near each other.

 


Hayrick Mound is a bare hill, flat on top, not too high or steep. We were playing (tag) or ‘poison’ as it was called back in those days. Running and chasing each other. I ran over the side at a place steeper than I thought it was and fell face forward, then my body flipped on over leaving my head turned under. I couldn’t get up.

Albert was the first to reach me but he was afraid to lift me up. He thought I had broken my neck. My brother Jesse reached me next and persuaded Albert to help him get me up. They helped me up and with one of them on each side I was able to walk down to the picnic area although I was half-blinded by the pain. They carried me back down to the car and Papa drove me home and found Dr. Wadell to come check me over.   He decided my neck wasn’t broken so told them to keep me quiet till I could recover then he gave them something to give me for the pain.   I was kept in bed for about a week before I could lift my head without too much pain.

Vining picnic

McGhee and Vining picnic 1916

I don’t remember much about the rest of that summer but when I went back to school that fall I began to have severe headaches that would start before noon and be so
bad I couldn’t even go home alone. The teacher would have someone take me home.
After the 3rd day of that Dr. Waddell came up to the school and noted that the seat I had been assigned was a low desk in front of a high seat. He told the teacher that he would have to get me a seat that matched the desk. The doctor told the teacher that because of the injury I’d have to be very careful of sitting correctly.

After that I had no more head and neck pain and thought no more of that old injury till 1932 in Topeka I became ill, aching all over, especially my head, neck, and back. My doctor there treated me for the ’flu’ but I didn’t respond so he sent me to an orthopedic clinic. The x-rays revealed the old injury and they diagnosed arthritis of the spine which plagued me the rest of my life.”

Notes Clarifying Parts of the Story

    • From Wikipedia, here’s more about poison, a game they were playing:
      Jessie H. Bancroft’s 1909 book Games for the Playground… describes it as follows:
      Children form a ring clasping their hands around a much smaller “poison” circle drawn on the floor or ground. The players are trying to push or pull each other to step into the “poison”. As soon as some players touch the “poison” circle, the other shouts “Poisoned!” and run for safety. The safety consists of finding a piece of dead wood, step on it. Safe children would shout “I am standing on the wood! You can’t get me!” A part of the fun is to try and run from one safe place to another. Players tagged while caught off the wood become poisoned themselves and join the catchers. The game ends when as many as possible become poisoned.
    • Hayrick Mound is in Craig County, Oklahoma. It is 958 feet high at the peak.
    • People/families in the story – Grandma Vining was Nancy Jane Babcock Vining, mother of Ruth, Albert, Francis Henry, Lucy, and Bessie. Nancy, Ruth, and Albert lived across the street from the McGhee family. “Lucy’s” refers to Lucy Vining and husband Charles Edwin Bolte and their 4 children. “Boltes” could be any number of cousins, second cousins and in-laws of the Vinings.  Bertha’s brother, Roy, later married Viola May Bolte (daughter of Edward Bolte and Bessie Vining).

 

Tyro, Kansas – School Photo

In her story, Bertha talks about the school she attended in Tyro. This photo shows her younger brothers in their classroom. Bertha would have been in another classroom for older children.

elmer and austin mcghee school tyro (1280x768)

Elmer and Austin McGhee, Tyro, Kansas