• “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple. Dr. Suess

Sunday, December 2, 2012


Today, 2 December 2012, marks the 92nd anniversary of the birth of Katherine May Shelton Ames.

Dawn and Katherine Ames 13 September 1947 Indianapolis Indiana

Her first child, Dawn Darlou, generously shares a few memories about Mom Ames as a guest blogger for the occasion. Thank you, DD, for this post.

"Katherine May Shelton was born December 2, 1920, in a snow storm, in a one room cabin way up in the hills of Washington. A little place called Winesap. Her Dad (Clarence Charles Shelton) had the flu and was too sick to go for a doctor so her mom (Sarah Isabel McNicholl Shelton) walked to the neighbor’s farm to ask them to go for the Doctor. They in turn walked to the sawmill to ask someone to go for help. Sarah went back to the cabin to wait for whichever came first; and of course it was my Mom.

"She had 3 older brothers (Herman, Charlie, Gib) and 2 younger brothers (Gerald and Donny); then when she was 21 her half sister was born. She was especial fond of her youngest brother Donald. She recalled that the day he was born they were sent to their cousins to play for the day and had a great time. They had to walk quite a distance to get there and on the way encountered a rattlesnake and got to have a car ride home. She remembers him being so beautiful that she fell asleep leaning on her mother’s bed looking at the baby; that she didn't know how he got there or if they got to keep him. She was 4 at the time.

"She was very sick when she was about 5, I think, and had to go to the hospital. I never knew all the details because she didn't like to talk about it but the inside of her nose had to be scraped and the doctor left the swabbing in and it rotted and she got sicker.

"Their family never had much, and lived in small houses all around Chelan County, mostly living off the land and what jobs her mom could get cooking and cleaning for others or at camps. Her dad was a woodsman. She told stories of going hunting with him and him telling her to find her own way home by following her feelings. She loved going to school and talked about living with other families when she was in grade school and ‘batching’ with her brothers when she started the 8th grade so they would be able to be close to a school to go to. Batching seemed to mean basically living on their own - mostly her and Gerald and Donny. During the depression they had very little to eat and they would go away from the other students during lunch because they didn't want people to know they only had an apple to share and would milk the horse for something to drink.

"One time one of the richer families in town got the 7 year itch. (I never was sure what that is equivalent to today.) The mother was so embarrassed and upset that no one else in the school had it that she asked if Mom could come over for a sleep over. Of course Mom caught it and took it home to her brothers who got it too and took it to school and everyone else in the school got it. They had to take sheep dip baths every night until they got rid of it. (I am guessing it was some kind of fleas or something like that) 

"Mom loved the animals that roamed the mountains around them but she had a healthy respect of the cougars. My memory fails me in remembering if it is one or two stories that she told but there was a large cougar that followed her and Gerald and Donny home one night and she figured the only reason it didn’t attack was because they had their horse with them. As I remember it there had been a cougar in the area that had killed a little boy and when they killed the cougar they found the little boy’s open jack knife in its stomach. They guessed that it was the same one that had followed them home.

"She also gained a great knowledge of the things you could eat to survive and those that were not good for you. She told of how they use to chew pine pitch for gum but one night after chewing it all day Herman died during the night and her parents work until dawn reviving him (moderation in all things). She wanted to be a botanist and learn all she could about plants. After her children had all left home she did do a correspondence course and became a licensed Herbologist. She also took art classes and learned how to draw the plants and flowers with very good detail. She liked to paint old homesteads and mountain type scenery. She carried her camera with her whenever she was out so she could take a photo if she saw something she wanted to paint. 

"When she was about 15 there was a great religious upheaval in the surrounding communities and she attended some of the tent meetings but didn't think if God was a loving God that he would not like you to dress nice and to sing and dance so she decided to pray about it. She went out behind the barn and started to pray. She prayed for a long time and while she was praying a light came out of heaven it scared her so bad that she turned away. When she opened her eyes again she was laying on her back but she knew in her heart that there was a God and he loved her and it wasn't the God that the preacher’s were trying to sell to the people in that area. So when the missionaries came to visit with Dad many years later and she heard Joseph Smith’s experience she knew immediately that this was the church she should join when Dad figured it out. She loved the Lord and passed that on to her children. She seemed to have insight into many things that most of us just hope for, because she knew how to listen and act on the things of the spirit.

Katherine May Shelton and Wallace Will Ames 1942

"The first time she saw Dad she knew he was the man she was to marry. Our parents had a very special bond that most of us only wish we had with our spouses. Such as writing answers to a question at the same time as the question is being written while they were apart from each other during military service. She had that same bond with her children. She loved kids and wanted to use her growing up experiences so she was both a Cub Scout Leader and a Girl Guide Leader. 

"She became a seamstress and during the war she learned to use industrial machines and made tents for the soldiers. When my Dad first went out on his own and started his practice she kept things a float by taking in sewing. She had an old treadle White and we could often hear it going into the wee hours of the morning. She did a lot of other jobs during the war like wallpapering and some construction work. There were no men to do these jobs and she wasn't afraid of ‘mans’ work. 

"She always made sure her family was taken care of and we never went to bed hungry. When I was about 8 my dad was very sick and couldn't work so she made paper roses which were very beautiful. You couldn't tell them from the real thing unless you touched them, and I went door to door selling them.
"She loved her grandchildren and would give them all the time and love they would except she spoiled them but not with worldly things. My kids called her their 'witch Grandma' and still do. They called her a witch because she was always picking some kind of plant and drying in saying what it would be good for, she was so good a fixing things, she always had something brewing and she could twitch her nose.

"She didn't like wasting - especially food; kids that whined about what was put in front of them to eat; and people without good manners: table manners were the most irritating (especially from men).

"She loved to do anything crafty and was homemaking leader several times [for the Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints]. Crochet, Candlewicking, embroidering, needle point, cruel, paint on cloth and oil painting, wood carving, beading , Indian beading and costume making, (including dyeing the feathers - PU ! yes, it smelled very bad when she was boiling Chicken feathers) and of course dress making, weaving (she had a loom at one time for bigger things). She collected and pressed flowers.

"Anything lovely, virtuous or of good report she sought after those things."