My Forty Years Scribblin's
Historical Accounts
The Curran Family

This story was written in 1996 and published in the Summer 1996 issue of the Charity Peak Outlook. Mildred draws a portrait of a hard-working family in Evaro.


The Curran family came to farm at Evaro about 1920, but tragedy struck while they were moving from Miller Creek. Mr. Curran's car was hit and he was killed on a railroad crossing in Missoula. Mrs. Curran settled in to make a home for part of her large family, three of whom were married, one grown, one old enough to work at odd jobs and four still in grade school or under school age.

Rosie, in the upper grades, spent most of her spare time taking care of the toddler. She often loaded her little sister in her baby buggy and pushed it down the Evaro canyon two to three miles, scrounging for empty "pop" bottles. She then labored back up the grade with the baby, packed in bottles, for which Rosie could collect a small sum—a poor day's pay for a hot and dusty piece of work.

Harvey was too small to do much except carry water and wood. But John, a popular red-head with freckles and a temper to match, was his mother's right hand man. When life got too rough for John he was apt to "fly off the handle" in which case his mother would grab and hold his hands because John's anger soon sputtered and fizzled out if he couldn't move these appendages. The Currans had a team of work horses and John was a good teamster. He handled the horses for farm work leaving his next oldest brother free to work away from home. I think the only time John was free to be a kid was when he was in school.

During those years the main thoroughfare through Evaro was a narrow dirt road with its choking dust clouds in summer, and slippery mud during spring and fall rains. These latter conditions caused the model T traffic to bounce out of one rut into another, jiggling the occupants for several generations back.

In due season my grandfather, W.L. Johnson, would hear from the County Commissioners asking if he would please grade the road or hire someone else to do it. Since Mrs. Curran had little visible income, grandpa hired John for the job.

The grader of those days was a flat contraption with a board to stand on and a box that he could (sometimes) sit down on. It had blades that were lifted or lowered by hand levers. John started in the morning and went until mid-day, then turned and came back up the other side of the road, getting home by evening. Not being very large for his age he needed a hefty boulder on board for ballast. Regulation wages for that time was $5 a day for a man and a team. John, the grader man, his mother's standby and sometimes breadwinner, was twelve years old!