Born: February 15, 1914 to 1983
From Kansas to Northern Colorado
Dads birthday is the 15th of February. He was born in Kansas. He graduated from high school in Kansas. He and two of his brothers, left Kansas after he graduated to go work on a dam in Montana where he bought a motorcycle with his earnings and struck out for places beyond and ended in Colorado. His brothers went back to Kansas. He met Mom, who was born in Wellington, Colorado. It still a mystery how they met. They were married in August of 1936. They took up residence on a small farm and Dad fed sheep for the renter.
That started his life long disdain of sheep. Then they rented an 80 acre irrigation farm north-east of Fort Collins, Colorado where me, my sisters and brothers were born and grew up.
The farm belonged to Sam Kemp, who was known for his Japanese white corn that he canned and sold to Safeway, known as Kemp Korn. The farm also came with milk cows, pigs and chickens.
Dad sold milk to Poudre Valley Creamery. Every morning he had to have the milking done at a certain time for the “milk man” to pick up the heavy milk cans full of milk. Dad had an old cart he put the full cans in, to take it to the end of the drive way for the “milk man” to pick up. We rode in that cart many a morning and back to the barn again. It was almost the highlight of our day.
The fields were planted in alfalfa and corn. Dad added sugar beets. A hands-on crop that brought him lots of accolades in the sugar beet industry. He was voted into the “Big 10” many times for raising sugar beets with high content of sugar. The farm was labor intense as were all farms of the 1930 and 40’s era. All crops had to be “irrigated up” which meant that each row had to have an little irrigation ditch for water to flow through so he could have crops. I can remember Dad pulling on his irrigation boots at 3 in the morning on irrigation days to go check the water. With shovel in hand he would walk the rows to see if any of the rows were plugged up with weeds or debris. He checked them every four hours – in between he had other chores to do. We used to go climb in the old International pick-up in the hot afternoon hot sun just to be with him. If he “walked the field” usually sugar beets, we would go with him sometimes, being careful not to damage the water ditches. I always ended up on his shoulders when we got to the other end of the field as my short legs would not carry me back. He would call to me “Come-on Cotton-top, wanna go with me?” He knew very well he would have to carry me back.
He would harness the horses, Barney and Babe (he left Dan in the corral) and they plodded off to other corners of the farm for cultivating and plowing. Dan would have his turn the next day. They were big gentle work horses and we got to ride on the broad backs of them when Dad was on his way back to the barn. We would watch him remove the harnesses, (I still remember the smell of the warm leather harnesses) rub them down with a big feed sack and lead them to the water tank and feed then big buckets of oats.
In 1945 he bought the farm from Sam. Dad began to expand his herd of cattle and experimented with planting beans and cucumbers. He hauled and sold cucumbers to Dreher Pickle Company who had big vats of fermenting pickles on the east side of Fort Collins. Dad and Bill Dreher became good friends that lasted for years. They would go to Mexico and fish in the fall. Sometimes Mom would go with them.
Dad changed the name of the farm to McClure’s Shamrock Shorthorn Ranch in 1950. He began his long love of raising Shorthorn cattle. The hearty cattle were bred in Scotland for the long cold damp days. They had longer hair, and were many different colors. That is where our 4-H show cattle came from that we showed in the State Fair in Loveland and Denver Stock Show. Dad was a big influence in the 4-H community. I am proud to say his great grandson, Justin Bivens carries on that tradition today, being involved in showing cattle for years and now in the show judging. Great job Justin! Justin has a son, Jayson who is in 4-H and shows cattle today. Jayson would be Dads great great grandson. Justin is the son of Rex and Regina McClure Bivens. His brother Cody was also involved in 4-H show cattle. Regina and Rex were 4-H group leaders for many years.
Dad had a Palamino cutting horse named Trigger. He was big and powerful and knew what he was to do the minute you put your foot in the stirrup. We had various horse off and on on the farm, thanks to Uncle Guy. Shetlands, Welsh and various assortments that Uncle guy would drag home from the auction barn – probably because they did not sell. They had a short life on our farm. The Sheltland, we could not ride at all as he would never let us get on him. The Welsh was a “stubborn jug-headed horse.” (Dads discription!) She let you get on and then stand still and twitch and stomp. We fell off more than once from that horse. Another horse Uncle guy brought home was a big bony old mare. She would let you ride bare back, but head for the nearest tree branch and go under it trying to knock you off her back. We fell off or got knocked off of her many times too. One day Ginger and I got on her because we wanted ride double. She just stood still and no matter how we tried to get her to move, she would not budge! Ginger had a white handkerchief (remember those?) and took it out of her pocket. I waved it right in front of her eyes. She took off like a bullet – right for the corral and the fed troughs. She stopped quickly leaned to the side and dumped both of us into the feed trough. We got hurt. The horse went back to the sale barn for the next unsuspecting person.
In 1954 we had a devastating hail storm that ruined all the crops for miles around. It broke windows and poked holes in car roofs. It also killed some cattle. In 1955 Dad sold the farm and bought the John Deere dealership in Fort Collins, next to Toliver and Kenny’s Hardware Store. A big sign out in front said “WE SELL COAL.” In 1959 or 60 Dad built the John Deere Dealership store east of town on Highway 14. The big sign said McClure and Sons John Deere Dealers. He expanded his business greatly to southern Wyoming, Western Nebraska and Western Kansas. He also opened up another store in Ault. He was in his element, meeting all his old farmer and rancher friends, telling jokes and stories of the past and planning for the future. He also met many new farmer and ranchers. He became friends with the John Deere Salesman who traveled through out that area. Dad won several trips to Havana and to Hawaii through the John Deere Company. Mom so enjoyed those trips as she never traveled outside of the 20-30 mile parameter of where she was born and raised in Wellington. He sold the dealership eventually and retired to their home not to far from the dealership. He visited often and had coffee or a malt with is old friends at the Charcoal Broiler.
We always celebrated Dads birthday with a big angel food cake that Mom baked for him, starting back on the farm when the chicken laid eggs and Ginger gathered. I remember Mom in early years with the big hand egg beater, beating those 13 eggs whites until the stood in peaks. She careful put the full tube cake pan full of fluffy batter in the oven and ever so gently shut the door. Then she would turn around and shoo us all out the door because if we stomped our feet or banged a door, the cake would fall and we would not have a birthday cake for Dad. We obeyed well as we wanted to see Dad’s face when we all sang Happy Birthday!
Birthdays We Celebrate in February
All great granddaughters and grandsons and great grandsons of Dad’s.
February 3 Sierra Johnson, great granddaughter
February 9 Kaylie Noble, great granddaughter
February 12 Justin Bivens, great grandson
February 13 Cody Bivens, great grandson
February 15 John Melvin Mcclure, Dad, grandpa, great grandpa
February 18 Ean McClure, grandson
February 20 Mitch McClure, grandson
There are many more grand children we celebrate in different months.
The Grannie Annie series is written by a 47 year resident of Alaska, Ann Berg of Nikiski. Ann shares her collections of recipes from family and friends. She has gathered recipes for more that 50 years. Some are her own creation. Her love of recipes and food came from her Mother, a self taught wonderful cook. She hopes you enjoy the recipes and that the stories will bring a smile to your day.
Grannie Annie can be reached at anninalaska@gci. net
The “Grannie Annie” Cook Book Series includes: “Grannie Annie’s Cookin’ on the Woodstove”; “Grannie Annie’s Cookin’ at the Homestead”; “Grannie Annie’s Cookin’ Fish from Cold Alaskan Waters”; and “Grannie Annie’s Eat Dessert First.” They are available at M & M Market in Nikiski.