from Memories and Short Stories
ìThe Water Wheelî
By Willie Bateman

the water wheel Bateman Ed Dad and Emil Nelson Dads water wheelat home in river bottom 1937Our second summer in the river bottom Dad built a water wheel out of an old wooden spoke car wheel with the axle still attached. This in turn was bolted to a large pine log with U bolts. He put extensions on the spokes made out of two by fours and made paddles and boxes out of boards. The whole thing was raised and lowered into the river with a block and tackle and the water was ditched out to the garden. It worked like a dream.

We raised a big garden out on the river bank for two summers and during this time he hand dug a root cellar, walled it up with railroad ties, and put on a tie roof covered with dirt. Come fall it was full of potatoes, fruit jars full of garden stuff, squash, and canned venison. Thereís one thing I can say for sure, and this is it: I might have had patches on my knees and butt, but I never went away from a table hungry.

We were in the river bottom for about two years when Dad dug a well by hand right in back of the house, got a hand pump, and put it in. Boy, this was like living ìUptown.î No more carrying water from the river and the spring. The only thing was you had to make sure the tea kettle and water pail were filled up at night in the winter because you had to pour hot water down the pump rod to thaw it out before you could get water in the morning.

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