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Joe Lucky and
Kathryn Hill Lucky

"Heritage of the High Country
A History of Del Bonita and Surrounding Districts
Pages 430-431

Joe, Kathy and their two children, Myrtle and Joe Jr. came from Muscatine, Iowa, to Alberta in 1912. Joe got a job at the Lethbridge Iron Works until the land was opened for filing on the homesteads in the Del Bonita area. He was one of the many who stood in line on filing day.

Joe's dad was a fairly well-to-do farmer in Iowa. He believed though, that children should go out and work for their own living without any handouts from the family. However, when Joe filed on his homestead, his dad sent him two hundred dollars to buy a team of horses and a democrat. It sure was a boon to Joe and Kathy during their short stay in the Del Bonita district.

They lived in a sod house the first year, and it was quite cozy and warm. Joe built a one-room house with an upstairs. He made a hinged staircase. To raise the stairs up he rigged up some pulleys and ropes with a bucket attached to it. They would fill the bucket with rocks and the stairs would lift up. When they wanted it down, they took the rocks out. This gave them quite a bit more room downstairs during the day.

One of the first things Joe did, was dig a well. Buck Hayes a neighbor, helped him. They were down about thirty feet, and Joe was filling the buckets with dirt. Buck had pulled a bucketful to the top, when it slipped out of his hands and fell back down, Buck leaned over the well, and called slowly, "J-o-e, " got no answer, so called again, "J-o-e. " Finally a voice said, "W-e-l-l?" Buck said, "I dropped the bucket." Joe replied, "S-o I s-e-e. " They got the well finished without any further mishaps.

Joe was a real good blacksmith, so he set up a shop at his farm. Homesteaders from all around came to have plough shares sharpened and other work done. Many times he was not paid, but he did the work regardless. Many of the homesteaders had to come a long way, and they were always asked in to share a meal no matter how meager it was. Sometimes Kathy wondered what she was going to have for the next meal, but she never complained.

Joe was always trying to make something new. One of his inventions was a wind buggy. He rigged up a light buggy with a sail, and by pushing a handle he could turn it to catch the wind and steer it along the way he wanted to go. One brisk windy day they decided to try it out. Joe, Kathy and the children piled into the buggy, and away they went. They were rolling merrily along, and as they passed Ed Woods' (Kathy's stepfather's) place, they waved and told them they should buy a car as that was the way to travel. Everything went fine until they came to a big coulee. They could no longer control it and the wind blew them right down into the bottom, where they tipped over. Nobody was hurt but they had to walk home. When they came to the Woods farm, Ed said, "That is why I never bought a car. I knew I would never be able to control the darn thing". The invention didn't work, but they all had a good laugh over it. Another time, Joe decided to fix up something to turn the ice cream freezer. He jacked up a wheel on a Ford, put pulleys and belts on the wheel and the freezer, and started the car up. It turned the freezer as neat as could be.

When some neighbors came over one Sunday, they decided to go on a picnic. They packed lunch and mixed up the ice cream. Joe was going to show them how slick his invention worked. They all gathered around the car watching it turn the freezer. It worked fine until the ice cream got hard, then it just threw bucket and all down the coulee. The folks had an enjoyable picnic without dessert.

In the early days, when company came, people made up their own entertainment. Joe made a violin out of a cigar box and put some violin strings on it. He could not play it, but Jack Woods who was musically inclined, could knock a tune out of it. Whenever they got together after that, out would come the cigar box violin. Jack would play while the rest danced around in the crowded room and enjoyed themselves immensely.

Kathy never complained about the hardships she had to endure, or the few possessions she had in her home. She only had odd plates and cups to serve the meals on, so when her mother gave her a set of new dishes they became her pride and joy. They had company one Sunday, and she proudly set the table with her new dishes. When dinner was over, she put the dishes in a dishpan filled with water and set it on the stove to heat before washing them.

Meanwhile, in came Joe with a stove lid lifter he had made. It latched right onto the lid. He picked up a stove lid to show them how it worked. "See," he said, as he whirled it around, "it won't let go". Suddenly there was a crash, and the lid landed right in the middle of the dishpan, and broke nearly all the new dishes. That was one time when Kathy lost her temper, and wished in none too gentle terms, that Joe and his inventions were somewhere else.

The Luckys had a horse named Ruby, who had a colt. They also had a pet pig and a dog. The post office was over three miles away at the Bill Newton farm, and it was not an unusual sight to see Kathy driving Ruby hitched to a buggy, with the colt, pig, and dog trailing behind, come down for the mail. Wherever Ruby went, she was always followed by the colt, pig, and dog. There seemed never to be a dull moment when the Luckys were around.

Joe succumbed to flu during the 1918-19 epidemic. He was buried in Magrath cemetery.

Kathy stayed with her mother for a while, and then she and the children went back to Muscatine, Iowa. She had two brothers living there.

Myrtle married a Williams, and they had one son. She passed away at the age of thirty-two. Young Joe married and had five children. The last time his aunt heard from him, he was still living in Iowa.

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Copyright 2000
Mary Tollestrup