Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Centennial

July 20 - 22, 1990:  Centennial.  Nancy came Thursday night.  Tom and Merilyn came Thursday night and stayed with Ted L.'s at Norfolk.  Ray and Aileen here Friday and Saturday -- stayed at Norfolk motel.  Bill, Jenny, Jayme came for Saturday and Sunday, spent the night at Helen's.  Dale's just in Winside on Saturday.

Hmmm.  I am not sure what to think about this one.  I happen to know that Rick and I also made it up for the centennial.  Either Grandma forgot to note that or . . . we didn't make it up to say hello.  I suppose either is equally possible, but I would like to think she forgot us.  I am sure we would have at the very least said hello during or after the alumni banquet.  But it was a huge affair up at the school gym, not in the auditorium downtown like usual.  So, dunno.  My 10 year class reunion got somewhat gobbled up by the centennial celebration, but that's fine.  Tom once told me that reunions after the 20th are more fun than the 10th.  At ten years, you and your classmates are still a bit busy trying to impress with what you drive or where you work or where you live.  However, by 20 years and beyond nobody really cares anymore.

I should have gone on a bit more about family 4th of July picnics in my earlier post.  They are always great fun with lots of fireworks and food and visiting and kids running around.  My favorite foods from our gatherings would be fresh raspberries (from Aunt Myrtle), new potatoes (from anybody) and cream pie (again, I don't care who makes it).  The first picnics I can remember were at Uncle Elmer and Aunt Myrtle's place, then they moved to Leonard and Dorothy Jo's and then to Ramon and Linda's.  It's always a good time, but I certainly miss those of our hosts and hostesses that aren't with us anymore.  Oh, and can't forget Ramon's dog who liked to run at the fireworks instead of away from them.  Such a kick in the pants!

The photo is probably from a previous Old Settler's.  I believe Grandpa grew a beard to enter a contest.  Look how dark his tan is -- I remember those days.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A different sort of quilt

"July 12, 1990:  Helen, John, Irene, Raymond and Marina here in p.m.  Ladies played King's Wild.  Greta here and the others for supper.
July 19, 1990:  Put Mary's baby quilt in the frame.
July 18, 1990:  Norris, Vicky, Dawn and Ann here in p.m."

Nevermind the cards or the company -- in between all the visitors and upcoming centennial celebration, Grandma found time to put my baby's quilt in the frame!  Awww.  It is a baby-sized quilt, but still.  Mitch used it when he was little, but it didn't become a drag-behind blanket for him so it is still in great shape.  He is off living on his own now, but I have the quilt for safekeeping.  I will give it to him one day.

I found a couple of boxes of photos and briefly sorted through some before work yesterday.  Then I looked at those I thought I might use for this blog a little more closely and got a bit emotional.  There is one of Grandma at her last birthday party and one at the last alumni banquet she went to.  She looks so happy and healthy in both photos.  The realization that she died less than a year after they were taken caught me off-guard and I had to blink fast there for awhile.  To counteract that sadness, I picked a photo for today that makes me smile -- Grandpa and Mitch, apparently sharing a laugh.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Oops on the 4th of July

"July 4, 1990:  Picnic at Dorothy Jo's.  None of [the] Lincolnites or Bill's came.
July 5 and 6, 1990:  Bound the quilt.
July 7, 1990:  Picture taken at Stop Inn of all the quilters with the quilt."

I don't remember at all how it happened that none of the Lincolnites or Bill's went to the annual 4th picnic this particular year.  It had been a family tradition for decades.  I thought Grandma said it started -- a family picnic on the 4th itself -- around the time she and Grandpa got married.  In 1990 that would have been over 50 years.  It was mostly unsaid, but still important to Grandma that there be a good showing so the tradition would continue.  As for myself, I was pregnant for this 4th, but not THAT pregnant.  Several of us came up later in the month for the centennial, so maybe that is why we skipped the 4th.

I guess the centennial quilt was not quite finished as Grandma and I reported yesterday, but the bulk of it was done and binding is a one-person job anyway.

Ah, the Stop Inn.  That is where in 1980 I unknowingly gave Kim mono.  I wasn't yet showing symptoms but was contagious.  Kim and I always shared a pop when we played pinball after school.  Guess that would be another oops.

The photo was very likely taken during a 4th of July picnic.  I think there was an impromptu tour of Dorothy Jo's flowers going on.  That's Grandma, Johanna, Dora and Dorothy Jo.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Quilt finished and a Sunday recipe

"July 2, 1990:  Arlene R., Rose, Lila, Arlene P. and I quilted.
July 3, 1990:  I finished the quilt.  Lila and Margaret T. helped take the quilt out of the frame.
July 2 and 3, 1990: Extreme heat.  Temperatures above 100 degrees all over the state.  Valentine had 114 degrees."

Mom says she is pretty sure the quilt was for Winside's centennial.  The centennial celebration started on the 20th so they planned pretty well.  Of course, I don't have a photo of that particular quilt.  Will post if I find one.

The photo I do have is not of the best quality.  It is from some old negatives I found in Grandma's stuff.  I picked it because three of the people in the photo were living in 1890 when Winside became a town. They are Grandma Anna and her parents.  Her mother is the Fehmarn-born ancestor I wrote about the other day.  Her name was Dorothea Magdelena Kahler.  In all fairness, there is another negative where they are staging for their picture and Dorothea is smiling at the confusion (looks like Mom was not cooperating) -- so she wasn't stern and serious all the time.  I wish it were of a better quality.  Her husband, also in this photo, was Ola Svensson Brogren.  There is a family story about how he got to America that I will share another day.  The other two in the photo are Grandma and Mom.

This recipe is one I got from Aunt Helen, but plenty of bakers in the family have made this bread.  It's good stuff!  Too bad the apricot tree in the backyard was already gone by the time Aunt Helen discovered this recipe, otherwise we could have had the best apricots around to use.

Apricot Bread

1 c. snipped dried apricots
2 c. warm water
1 c. sugar
2 t. butter or margarine, softened
1 egg
3/4 c. orange juice
2 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
3/4 c. chopped nuts

Soak apricots in warm water for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, cream the sugar, butter and egg.  Stir in orange juice.  Combine flour, baking powder, soda and salt; stir into creamed mixture just until combined.  Drain apricots well; add to batter with nuts.  Pour into a greased 9"x5"x3" loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes.  Cool 10 minutes in pan before moving to wire rack.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A birthday party

"June 30, 1990:  Rick, Mary and Nancy came in p.m.
July 1, 1990:  Greta had a birthday dinner.  Rick, Mary, Nancy, Irene, Raymond, Marina, Helen, John, Dorothy Jo, Howard and I were there.  Visited all afternoon."

Quite the birthday party, I would say.  Grandma didn't say so, but I am sure Lester was there, too.  I can believe with that group we did visit all afternoon.  Bet there was quite a bit of laughing, too.  This is probably due in part to the fact that the family left Fehmarn once upon a time.

I did some genealogy reseach last year and kept finding that Grandma Anna's ancestors on her mother's side were from different cities, but all the cities were part of Fehmarn, Germany.  I knew people weren't as mobile way back then as they are now, but it was so curious that every single person was from this Fehmarn.  I looked it up and found an easy answer to my question -- Fehmarn is an island.

It is between Germany and Denmark, very close to both.  For being only 70 square miles is size, it has quite a history.  Unfortunately the history is of conflict and war and slavery and burned ships and burned churches and torture going back to at least the 8th century.  If I remember correctly, Grandma Anna's mother (who was born on Fehmarn) was not the cheeriest, easy-goingist person around.  I forgive her completely.  It seems that starting life on Fehmarn would have been sobering at best.

The photo above is of Mom when we were in Rhinebeck, New York for the old timey air show in 2008.  She looks to be having fun and the air show hadn't even started yet.

Speaking of birthdays, my cursory peek at the one family history book shows that February birthdays include Aunt Margaret, Aunt Clara, Aunt Irene, Aunt Helen and Marjorie.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Californians ignored

"June 27, 1990:  Temperatures in the 90's -- was very humid.
June 28, 1990:  Quilted.  Arlene R., Rose, Arlene P., Lila and I.
June 29, 1990:  Raymond and Marina arrived about 10:30.  Played Pinochle at Elta J.'s.  Went to Greta's in evening for her birthday."

Well, my goodness.  Uncle Raymond and Aunt Marina came to visit and Grandma went off playing cards.  Honestly, I am sure they were not ignored, but the way Grandma wrote it made me laugh; guests got here, I went off without them.

Uncle Raymond was born in 1913 and so will be 99 years young this year.  It was always fun when he and Aunt Marina came to visit.  They married when Uncle Raymond was 75 years old and always seemed to me to be a great couple.  Lots of laughs and smiles and loving words.  I did not know Uncle Raymond's first wife, Aunt Ramona very well since they lived in California and she died when I was 14.

Uncle Raymond failed his first physical to enlist in the Army in WWII and then as if the Army knew something no one else did, he got very sick shortly thereafter and would have been somewhat useless to the Army anyway.  Later, he was drafted and did pass his physical.  He served in Europe and was back in the states getting ready for an invasion of Japan when the war ended.

One really can't talk about Uncle Raymond and not mention his flowers.  He grew huge, beautiful flowers.  He would take pictures of them, and photographs simply don't do some subjects justice, flowers being one of them in my opinion.  But when one does show a magnificent bloom like Uncle Raymond's photos did, that just means the real thing was even better.

Look at all the smiles in my photo here.  Well, maybe not Dane so much but Mom and Lester and Uncle Raymond and Aunt Marina are having a good time.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Quilting, quilting and more quilting

"June 25, 1990:  Arlene R., Lila, Rose, Lois and I quilted.
June 26, 1990:  Arlene R., Lila, Rose, Bertha and I quilted.
June 27, 1990:  Arlene P., Lois, Ella M., Leona B. and I quilted.
On Tuesday, Irene D. and Ruby R. brought two plates of cookies and a coffee cake for our lunch."

Wow!  I wonder how many yards of thread those ladies went through.  What did they talk about during all of that quilting?  The quilt in the photo is most likely not the one they were working on, but it is a nice photo of a pretty quilt, so I included it.

I believe Grandma Anna made her first quilt at age 16.  I am not sure about the age at the time of the first one for Grandma or Mom, but they have made multiple, full-sized quilts.  I however, have badly dropped the ball.  Not only have I not made a big girl quilt, the small wall-hanging quilts I have pieced were finished by Mom.  I want to say that Nancy hasn't pieced a big quilt either, but am not sure.  If not, I would like to state we are both in good company in the ball-dropping business.  But boy, we sure do appreciate a good quilt!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Notes from comments

Since it is easier for me to look at the comments all at once than for people to go back and find them on each individual post, here's a recent summary.
Nancy must have been really knocked out from the "little toe surgery" because she reports that Lynn and Kyleah got her there and back and even brought her flowers.  Problem is Kyleah wasn't born yet, so I dunno what Nancy is thinking.  It was either Dane, or Lynn grabbed some little girl and took her on that particular mission.

As for Father's Day and the flooded highway, Nancy also reports that we did wait for her and Dane and so it was a three-car convoy that managed to get over the river and back home that day.

Regarding Grandpa's potatoes, Mom said he always tried to plant at least some on Good Friday with the goal of having new potatoes to eat by Mom's birthday in late June.  One year it was really muddy on Good Friday, so Grandpa stayed on the grass and planted a few potatoes on the edge of the garden in the mud.

Seems Kahlua was mixed with cream soda, as per Mom, something that sounds very, very good to me right now.

Just to keep the younger folk up on things, Mom reports that Dora was Grandpa's first cousin -- her mother (Aunt Kate) and Grandpa's mother were sisters.

Another Dora story (from Nancy, I think . . . I didn't write it down and don't want to go check right now) is that Dora took the bus from Fremont to Norfolk for one of the cousins' Christmas get-togethers we used to have.  It was getting later and closer to when Dora needed to be at the depot to catch the bus back, but Grandpa kept stalling.  Eventually he told her that he and Grandma would drive her back.  This extended the length of her visit and also allowed the three of them to look at all the Christmas lights on the way down.  Dora always remembered how kind that was of Grandpa.

Mitch reports that Aunt Myrtle is not the only plucky woman in the family.  Seems he thinks it is a common trait.

And the chocolate cherry cookies were, and probably still are, a favorite of Tom's.  Grandma often made some when she knew Tom was coming up and also made them at Christmas for him.  Ask his siblings and he was the favored kid.  Always.

Lastly, Mom got me straight on where the California people lived:  Uncle Raymond in Hacienda Heights, Aunt Irene in Alhambra, and Uncle John and Aunt Helen in West Covina.

I think I'm good for now.


"June 24, 1990:  Dora and her friends Johnnie A. and Lorainne S. came -- Dora thought it was the centennial.  These three, Irene and I ate at the Black Knight in Wayne.  Visited with Helen and John afterward."

Once again, I don't have much to work with here.  But, since Dora lived in Fremont and Fremont reminds me of the train ride a bunch of us took, I will post a photo of that event and yak about it a bit.

I believe the train ride on the Fremont Valley Railroad was a gift to Grandpa, but I am not positive about that.  Other photos show that Grandma, Nancy, Mom and Lester, Aunt Irene, Dora, and Rick and I went.  Or perhaps Dora joined us for lunch beforehand and didn't go on the train.  This would have been around 1989, I think.  You will note in the photo that Grandpa has his hand near his back.  I believe he did that when his back hurt -- his bad knee made him have to change his gait a bit, which then bothered his back.  I didn't remember he had that bothering him that early on.  I thought it was only in his later years.  Funny what photos can show sometimes.  Also a bit funny that you can be talking about a man who was then about 82 years old and have it not be "his later years".

I remember from the train ride that it was really bumpy, but fun.  We went to Hooper, got off, gave a little economic boost to the businesses in Hooper, and then got back on and rode back to Fremont.  We didn't get the dinner train ticket package, we just took a ride.  There were a bunch of cub scouts in our car which was somewhat entertaining when the show started.  Our conductor at some point warned us about the train robbers riding alongside the train on their horses.  We looked out and saw them coming after us with guns blazing.  A bit later we stopped and were told the robbers forced the train to stop and that they were boarding the train.  The next thing we knew there were guns being "fired" in our car and our conductor was hauled away by the robbers.  All very exciting!  I recall some of the cub scouts and/or their younger siblings were not too sure it was all a joke.  One photo of the robbers in our car shows a little guy with both hands over his ears looking a little uneasy about the whole thing. 

A fine day all around.  Not so much for the conductor.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Vote for cards

"June 17, 1990:  Nancy had little toe surgery.
June 21, 1990:  Martha called from Lois B's.
June 22, 1990:  Arlene R. helped put the Centennial quilt in the frame."

Well, I must say Grandma didn't give me much to go with here.  If I knew more about Nancy's little toe surgery, I would go on and on with details about that.  However, I am just going to pick a topic of my own.

Back in the day, our family played a lot of cards after family meals.  I mean a lot.  The games I remember most are Manipulation, and 99, and Squeak.  We also played Kings Wild and Tripoly.  I vote that we get back to more cards.  They are good for the mind, keep people (especially me) from munching on the leftovers too much, and I think I have read that laughter is good for the digestion.

I don't know if the photo was taken on a day when we played cards, but I love how Bill and Grandma look soooo thrilled to be sitting next to each other.  And an ashtray!!  The horror!  I can't remember the last time there was one of those on the table at a family event.  Granted, there is a little bit of smoking that goes on outside the house, but not inside.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Abandoned on Father's Day

"June 15, 1990:  Nancy brought Dane along.  Father's Day for dinner:  John, Helen, Irene, Greta, Mary, Rick, Nancy, Dane, Tom and Merilyn.  The kids and I gave Howard a weed eater."

I remember this Father's Day very well.  Not because it was the first with Aunt Helen and Uncle John back in Nebraska.  Not because Grandpa got a weed eater.  But because Tom and Merilyn left me and my husband stranded on the wrong side of a flooded highway.

I think I remember it as clearly as I do because I was pregnant with Mitch at the time and therefore was not completely in control of every single emotion at every single minute.  Rick and I headed south after what I am sure was a lovely day of dining and visiting.  I remember I was wearing a neon lime green t-shirt (hey, it was 1990).  We got just so close to the Platte River and saw that it was covered for quite a ways with water.  It certainly looked to us like it was too deep to try to go through, and others must have thought the same because no one was taking that option.  So, what to do?  There were plenty of country roads around, but we had no idea which ones would take us home and which would simply lead us to another flooded road.  If we followed someone, who knows where we would end up?  I must admit I was beginning to panic.  The river goes all away across the state, for Pete's sake!!  What relief we felt when we saw Tom and Merilyn approaching.  What a shock when they waved and went on by, picked a country road, turned, and were not seen again.  (We didn't all have cell phones at this time, so it wasn't an option to call and ask them to come back.)  They left a pregnant woman and her likeable-but-not-so-resourceful husband stunned and seemingly stranded.

Well, we finally came to the conclusion that we could ask at the house near where we had pulled over.  Turned out a young man that lived there was headed to Lincoln anyway and being from the area, knew how to get around the flooding and over the river.  He was kind enough to let us follow him.  We got home no worse for wear.

That all being said, I don't remember how Nancy and Dane got home.  Maybe they left before us and figured it all out on their own or maybe they stayed an extra day, but I know we did not hang around and wait to help them.  So . . . . until I find the answer to that question, I can't pick on Tom and Merilyn too much.

I couldn't find an appropriate photo, so I picked this one because it has water in it.  I love Dale's bangs and his sweet expression.  That's my diapered butt behind him on the couch.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Potatoes and Sunday recipe

"June 14, 1990:  Howard dug a hill of potatoes -- 3 nice big ones and 1 small one.
June 15, 1990: I had Pinochle Club.
June 16, 1990: We had 1 1/2 inches of rain last night - also a real old-fashioned rumbling thunderstorm."

Grandpa was a gardener extraordinaire.  He grew all kinds of things and grew most very well.  I say that because I believe there was some occasional experimenting that went on with new vegetables.  If they didn't turn out satisfactorily, they simply weren't planted again.  So, for the most part, he stuck with what he knew that would grow for him.

He was inordinately proud of his potatoes and that was probably deserved.  Some vegetables and fruits are upfront about telling you when they are ripe and ready to harvest; strawberries, peas, green beans.  Even carrots will pop up a little bit from the ground to let you know they are of a decent size.  Potatoes do a little of that, but most of the productivity is being done well under the dirt where you can't see.  And there's no turning back -- once you dig up a hill of potatoes, you can't put it all back in to grow some more if you don't like what you find.  Over time Grandpa became a Potato Whisperer.  He could detect a good hill of potatoes like crazy.  And there are plenty of potato lovers in the family, myself included, so Grandpa's efforts were always much appreciated.

I could go on, but I have a recipe and a photo to deal with.  The picture is from the end of a Nebraska vacation that Nancy, Mitch, Anna and I took in 1997 or 1998.  You can see that Nancy put out some petunias that year, too.  I wanted a picture of Grandpa in the garden, but have settled for this one that was taken a stone's throw from the garden.  I also like it because it was at a time when the kids weren't shy about showing they liked each other.

Tuna-Rice Casserole

This is a very basic, stick-to-your-ribs tuna casserole recipe.  Chefs would gasp, but it's good, filling food.  It can be added to I imagine, but I never change it.  It wouldn't remind me of Grandma if I did that.

1/2 c. uncooked rice
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 t. dehydrated onion, optional
2 cans tuna (undrained)
1 soup can milk
Celery or celery salt, optional

Combine all ingredients and place in a greased casserole.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Little Old Lady Tour

"May 31 to  June 6, 1990:  Quilted crazy patch quilt #2.  Rose helped me Tuesday p.m.
June 2, 1990:  Ray and Aileen stopped in p.m. for a short time.  They took Mom's sewing machine to Luayne's.  They had attended Synodical Convention in Lincoln from Wed. to Sat."

I believe it is Rose T. that Grandma is talking about.  I hadn't thought about the Old Lady Tour in quite awhile.  I think it was Mom's idea more than Grandma's, but there was a time when I went visiting little old ladies in town.  It was good for me to be more social, I guess, and nice for the ladies to have a new visitor.  I only remember visits with Rose T.  Maybe others were planned but never came to fruition.

Rose was a good friend of Grandma's and a very nice lady.  I remember being a bit shy and unsure about my visits but I liked going to see her.  I remember her house being somewhat dark and full of "old people stuff" -- stuff I would appreciate more now than I did then.  I am sure she had some nice antiques and maybe some handmade items.  But I mainly recall her being friendly and fun and that we probably had cookies.

I have a scanned photo of one of Grandma's quilts that I planned to post today, but it is on another computer that I can't access right now.  So, I put up a photo of my paternal great-great grandmother, Phoebe Wiseman.  There is quite a story to tell about her that I will save for another day.  She surely deserved a little old lady tour visit, but I bet based on the time that she lived, she probably would not have had the time. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

The cemetery

"May 25 - 28, 1990:  Nancy came Friday night.  Saturday afternoon Greta, Nancy and I shopped in Norfolk -- took our time and really enjoyed ourselves.  Sunday morning Nancy planted the petunias, marigolds, etc. for me.  In the afternoon Irene, Helen, Nancy, Greta and I took flowers to the cemetery.  Afterward visited at Helen's.  Monday ate dinner at the Legion Hall -- visited at Irene's.  Nancy left for Lincoln about 5:30 or 6:00."

Oh, the cemetery.  I know I am not unique this way, but still some folks might find it odd that our hometown cemetery is one of my favorite places.  Physically, it is similar to other cemeteries -- it is up on a hill, has lots of trees, and has some undisturbed prairie sod where the unused plots are.  But I like it because it is pretty and peaceful and several members of my family are there.  Some of those people I knew, others I never met.  But the main reason I like the cemetery is because it is where Grandpa and I used to hang out a lot.  We mowed the cemetery and the school -- when one was finished, it was usually time to start on the other.  It was my first real paid job (well, minus the W-2) and it was fun.

Grandpa rode the riding mower while I got to use a little push mower to trim around every single headstone.  You would think I would have tried to count the stones during one of those many mowing missions, but I never did.  When we took breaks, Grandpa and I would talk.  I only remember two conversations.  One is when Grandpa pointed out a stone and told me so-and-so had planted a rose bush there.  He paused and I looked around a bit.  I thought I knew which stone he meant, but I certainly didn't see a rose bush so I was searching around to find the one he was talking about.  Grandpa waited an appropriate amount of time to enjoy my confusion and then told me the rose bush didn't grow.  I said that was too bad.  He paused and then told me he poured gas on it.  I was horrified.  He laughed.  Then he explained that the lady wouldn't have taken care of it and it would have been hell to mow around, so he did what he did.  He also told me if you pull plants like that out of the ground and then put them right back, they don't grow very well either.  I was still aghast, but he laughed some more and I got over it. 

During the other conversation I recall, Grandpa told me about the night his little sister, Hazel, died.  One winter day, he and Uncle Elmer had taken guns and killed some cats, which was said to be bad luck.  I didn't ask if this was because there were too many barn cats around or why they did this.  At some point, four-year-old Hazel tagged along.  They told her to go back to the house or she would catch her death of cold.  I believe it was during that same night, Grandpa woke up to see the doctor and his folks in the bedroom the kids all shared.  He said he looked over at Hazel and knew that she was dead.  I looked it up, Grandpa was not quite seven years old at that time.  Grandpa never killed another cat in his life. If he had a cat that needed to be put down, he asked someone else to do it for him.

The photo is of Aunt Irene, Aunt Helen and Aunt Clara.  Helen was born about two months after Hazel died and she is pretty little in the picture, so this was taken fairly close in time to that sad event.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Graduations and more Aunt Irene

"May 19, 1990:  Greta, Irene and I went with Dorothy Jo to Stanton in the evening for a barbeque for Teresa's graduation.
May 20, 1990:  Greta and I were at Rodney's for Doree's graduation reception -- then took Irene and went to Carol and Bernie's for Jeff's reception."

Wow. That's the third graduation for the season so far.  See what I mean about the other kids being too far apart from me in age for me to play with?  Heck, these kids weren't born yet when I was drilling holes in the floor!

I went looking for more Aunt Irene stuff since I felt my little bit yesterday just wasn't enough.  I found out that she lived three miles from the first school she taught at and so had a six-mile round trip walk each school day.  In addition to teaching, she did all the janitorial work at the school, started the stoves in the morning, thawed out the water pump and had to deal not only with students older than herself, but also with the clashes between the Scandinavian and German kids.  One time she was well on her way back home and happened to turn and look back at the school.  The flag was still on the flagpole, so she had to walk all the way back and take the flag in and then start for home again.  She apparently was a very good teacher -- and I have no trouble believing that -- because for three years between 1920 and 1929, she was the highest paid rural teacher in the county.  Nice!

I need to scan more photos because once again I have one that doesn't have anything to do with my current post.  But like the others, it's a photo that I like -- people I love sharing a laugh together.  Doesn't get much better than that.  Oh, and thanks to all who have left comments.  :-)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Mixing alcohol and drilling

"May 15, 1990:  John and Helen took possession of their house today.  Greta, Lester, Irene and I were there in late p.m.  We toasted them with champagne.
May 14, 1990:  Started quilting the quilt of 3-inch squares -- finished it May 22."

There Grandma goes jumping around in time again.  But I forgive her.

Champagne?!  What, booze??  Actually, Grandma was at times fond of Fuzzy Navels and Kahlua.  I don't remember what she mixed the Kahlua with, but for a while and at different times, peach schnapps and Kahlua were safe gifts to give.

Destructive drilling, but a little background first.  Dale and I were rather by ourselves, age-wise, at the family gatherings.  The other kids were either too old or too young to play with.  So, for me it was either hang out and listen to the grown-up ladies talk or entertain myself.  On this particular day, I don't know if Dale wasn't around or why we weren't playing together.  I do know he wasn't in on my antics.

Grandpa kept his hand drill and the bits in the Honda House.  I knew how to change the bits myself.  Grandpa would let me drill holes in scrap wood.  He kept miscellaneous pieces of wood in the corner by the door of the Honda House.  Normally he had plans for some of the scraps and no plans for the others.  I always asked him for wood when I wanted to drill because I didn't want to use a piece he had designs on.  Well . . . he was off during this particular family gathering talking to the menfolk and I was trying to think of something to do.  I was much too shy to approach him to ask about the wood with those men around.  And as I said, I didn't want to use wood from the corner that I shouldn't.  So, in my wee five-year-old mind, I thought the safest option was to drill into . . . the floor of the Honda House.  I drilled hole after hole and changed the bits to make different-sized holes and had a wonderful, wonderful time.  That was until the door of the Honda House opened.  In that one instant, the fun disappeared and I had the sudden revelation that maybe the floor wasn't such a good idea.  I am pretty sure Uncle Elmer was there with Grandpa when he peered in.  I was probably in mid-drill, looking like a deer in some headlights.  As was his nature with his kids and grandkids, Grandpa didn't yell or scold.  He did something Dale considered almost worse . . . he just laughed.  And laughed.  And so did Uncle Elmer.  I didn't until several years later, but did appreciate the lack of yelling at the time.

So, the holes stayed in the floor as a constant reminder of a little girl's folly.  Years later, Grandpa installed a woodburning stove in the Honda House.  I think he covered my creative drilling with some regret, but he wisely nailed tin over the holes to avoid the whole place going down in flames in the event an errant cinder crackled out of the stove and fell into a hole.  But, I knew the holes were still there and so did Grandpa.

The photo is from a different family gathering, but as you can see, Mom and Nancy managed to get their picture taken with Grandpa without him acting all put out about it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Mother's Day

"May 13, 1990:  Mother's Day.  Tom and Merilyn were in Iowa Fri. and Sat.  They came to Winside Sun. morning and brought Howard and Irene to Nancy's.  The whole family was there for dinner.  Irene and Howard rode back to Winside with us."

Drilling, schmilling....tomorrow, I promise, to my three readers who probably all know the story already.  But I will get to that tomorrow.

Aunt Irene.  There is nowhere to begin with Aunt Irene stories.  She was sassy and smart and travelled the world and has been informally voted "Most Unique Laugh/Giggle in the Family."  One thing I realized rather early on about Aunt Irene is that her best laughs were on herself.  Things most people would probably not share with others, she shared with a great talent for the humorous.  The most obvious example of this for me is when she took a flower arranging class.  She worked diligently on her arrangement with knowledge gleaned from the class.  Then the instructor asked her to come forward when she was done.  She told how she was so proud to have been picked from the bunch.  Imagine her reaction when the instructor started off with something like, "This is what you do not want to do . . . "  I bet she started laughing right away.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A new baby once upon a time

"May 9, 1990:  More than 1 1/2 in. rain last night and this morning.  Dorothy J. and I were hostesses for Pentecost breakfast.
May 12, 1990:  Greta and I left at 9:00 for Wahoo and Jayson's graduation.  Late afternoon we went to Lincoln to Nancy's."

Sorry, but I will skip the destructive drilling tale to tell one on Nancy.  The Dorothy J. mentioned above is not the person involved, but her last name reminded me of this story. 

Not being ready to discuss the birds and bees with her still very young children, Grandma told Nancy, who was about 5 years old, an unusual story about how her newborn brother Tom came to be the newest member of the household.  She told Nancy that she had fallen down and hurt her leg.  Myrtle J. felt sorry for her and gave her a baby.  For years and years Nancy wasn't sure whether she liked Myrtle J. or not because of that.  Funny thing is, Grandma didn't recall telling Nancy the story.  It was one of those motherly inspirations that come when a mom greatly needs to give an answer to end a discussion and pack it away for quite awhile.  I think it was genius.

I have no graduation picture of Jayson, but here is one of he and one of his daughters at Grandma's 90th birthday party.  And since I didn't find it in time to post on Grandma's 100th, here also is one of Grandma and young family members at that same party.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Feeding birds and a Sunday recipe

"April 20, 1990:  Lester took Shirlee to Omaha to fly back to Florida.
April 30, 1990:  Ice on bird bath Saturday morning and Monday morning."

Ice?  In April?  I think Grandpa already had a bird bath heater by this time, but he had probably retired it for the winter.  Grandpa had at least two birds baths and he liked to feed the birds as well.  It was always a safe Christmas or Father's Day gift to bring an industrial-sized bag of bird "feed".  Grandpa corrected us if we said bird "seed" because he didn't plant it to grow birds.  He would act disgusted that we would make such a silly mistake, but he was teasing, of course.  One of my earliest memories of doing something with Grandpa was when we built a bird house together.  Simple four sides and a roof.  And the hole was small enough that the sparrows couldn't use it; Grandpa liked wrens better.  Maybe drilling that hole for the wrens was what led me down the path of distructive drilling, which will be my story tomorrow.

The recipe is for Monkey Bread.  I think there are many variations, but this is the one Grandma made, and accordingly the one we like best.

Monkey Bread

2 loaves frozen bread dough (don't rise)
2 T. milk
3 oz. pkg. vanilla pudding or butterscotch pudding (not instant)
1/2 c. margarine
1 c. brown sugar

Snip 1 loaf of thawed bread in date-sized pieces into greased 9x13 inch pan.  Melt margarine.  Add milk, brown sugar and pudding mix and nuts to margarine.  Mix and spread mixture over bread in pan.  Snip second loaf over mixture.  Let rise 2 1/2 hours or until dough comes to top of pan.  Then bake in 300 - 350 degree oven for 1/2 hour until top is brown.  Remove from oven and tip over on foil.

This is good stuff.  I made this recipe once and to thaw the bread and not allow it to rise, I think I put it in the refrigerator overnight as per Grandma's suggestion.  If you don't often have dates around to compare in size, snip the pieces to be the size of the hole you make with your finger and thumb.  That should do it.

Oh, and the picture has absolutely nothing to do with anything, but it makes me laugh.  I have no idea why Dale and I felt compelled to make a doll-headed scarecrow in the bathroom, but we look rather pleased with ourselves and Mom thought the event worthy of a photograph.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


"April 15, 1990:  Easter dinner guests at Greta's -- Nancy, Bill, Jenny, Jayson, Jayme, Dale, Lynn and Dane, Shirlee, Howard and I.  Helen and John had dinner at Dorothy Jo's but came in p.m. to visit the family.
April 11, 1990:  I had stomach flu, only time I was sick all winter long."

Okay, now Grandma is goofing with us.  Skipping around chronologically for no apparent reason.  Nice to know that her flu was over in time for Easter, however.  I am not sure why I wasn't at Easter that year -- must have been at the in-laws or sick because normally we would have gone.

The picture is from several Easters later.  Anna appears to be attempting to get Grandpa to give up the egg he is hiding in his hand.  Grandma looks amused.  I loved Anna's hair cut that way, but alas, she grew her own opinion and her hair along with it and she hasn't turned back yet.  Which is funny to me because I remember Mom looking at pictures of me when I was little in a similar haircut and telling me how cute it was.  I probably rolled my eyes because girls of a certain age just don't think that short hair is cute at all.  Long hair is where it's at.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Snow in April

"April 13, 1990:  Snow.  Tom came in p.m. and took Raymond J. to Lincoln.  Raymond left by plane Saturday morning at 7:00.
Saturday:  Bill and Jayme came in p.m.  Bill brought the table of Dora's from Fremont."

The snow must not have been too terrible what with all the driving around that went on.  The table of Dora's must have been the one that extends to a table when it normally looks like a simple chest.  If that's the one, I don't know how often Dora had a chance to use it, but it got lots of use after Grandma got hold of it.

I wish I had a history of Dora's life adventures to review.  I have the impression that she didn't let much stand in her way and had a grand time of it.  I loved to hear her tell stories (how many storytellers do we have in the family anyway?  I seem to mention stories often) and especially liked it when she brought a new card game to the family gatherings.  There was also a very fun game with dice that she taught us, but I cannot remember what it was like anymore.  I recall it was great fun.  I have two items that Dora gave me that I treasure very much.  One is a very small blue and white Danish plate.  The other is a short, heavy clear glass vase that has an etching of a little girl on it. 

Dora is to the right in the picture.  I don't have a date, but the photo was taken at a family 4th of July gathering.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

More quilting and some visitors

"April 1990:  I started quilting the outing flannel rail fence quilt the 4th of April -- finished it on the 10th.  We had .70 inches of rain on Monday, April 9.

Mon. April 9, 1990:  At 2:00 p.m. John, Helen, Shirlee and Raymond J. left West Covina -- arrived in Winside Thursday April 12 about 2:30."

I love how Grandma made a point of the time the group left and when they arrived.  Not sure of the reason for the detail, but I like it.  In reading ahead, it appears that the California visitors came to escort Uncle John and Aunt Helen back to Nebraska.  Everyone both those two eventually left, and they took possession of their Nebraska home within a month or so.

What to say about Aunt Helen?  For some reason, I think it is funny that Gary introduced Aunt Helen to Uncle John.  I think Gary was a teenager at the time and thought John was a decent guy.  Aunt Helen agreed, obviously.

Aunt Helen seemed to me to be able to have fun whenever and wherever she wanted.  Even in telling a story where she was frustrated with someone or aggravated about something, she seemed to end her tale with a laugh at the whole situation.  I like the story about her standing in line to register for the 9th grade.  The superintendent saw her and told her the 4th grade room was downstairs.  I have no trouble at all believing that she politely, but firmly told him how the cow ate the cabbage.  She was all of 4' 4" tall at the time but mighty, I am sure.  She is second from the right in the photo.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Just to follow up -- the Honda House half of that particular outbuilding did have cobs in it at one time, but it also had chickens prior to that.  So we were all rather correct on that.  And the other half of the Honda House building that I called the cob shed or cob house (just what did I call it?) held coal some of the time.

Mom would like to clarify that the very precious picture to the right of me as a wee one was probably taken in April 1962, not June as she first thought.  Well, that wasn't her description of the picture -- that was mine.

Now I believe all is right with the world.

March, all at once

"March 1, 1990:  March came in like a lamb -- but had a sleet storm on 6th and 7th.  We ladies finished my quilt on Wed. March 14.  The last week of March I pieced the 20 blocks for a 9-patch sampler quilt.  Jean and Hank were here Thurs. March 29.  LeRoy P. died of cancer -- was buried March 19.  Shirley F. died of cancer -- was buried March 27."

I am guessing from what she did write, that all of March is condensed in one entry because Grandma was busy quilting and sewing quilt blocks that month.

Jean and Hank.  I must admit I do not remember Hank very well, but from all accounts he was one heck of a good guy.  Not that he minded, I am sure, but it was probably hard to make a memorable impression on a youngster like myself when your other half was Jean.  People talk about someone walking in and lighting up a room; I think Jean made a room sparkle.  I don't recall that she ever seemed nanoseconds away from a good laugh or a good story.  I wish I had written down some of her never-before-heard sayings when we visited in 2004.  The only one I remember is "oh, for crying out the window." 

In a family of quite a few stay-put people, Jean and her sister Marjorie, were adventurous enough to go to Washington DC to work for the Navy when they were young women.  They were there for V-J Day.  The two of them jumped on a street car and went downtown to join in all the celebrating.  After a time the street cars weren't running anymore because of all the people in the streets and they finally got a ride back to their apartment with a Chinese General.  Wow.

Nancy has saved family Christmas letters for some time and told me of a story in Jean's 1994 letter about her putting a plastic plate full of her granddaughter's bars in the oven to save them from a kitten that didn't know yet about staying off of counters.  Hank set the oven on preheat to make a meatloaf.  Well, the plastic plate caught fire.  Jean described in humorous detail her repeated confessions that it was all her fault, how Hank let a "huge black genie" out of the oven when he opened it, and about her son's dashing around finding not one, but two, non-functioning fire extinguishers.  Oh, and the granddaughter's running around crying and scooping up kittens to save from the raging inferno.  Lastly, Jean spoke of her and Hank cleaning up afterwards and busting out laughing often as they did so.  What a bunch!

The picture I have here isn't the best, but Jean has her eyes closed in the other one I have from that trip, so I went with this one.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

More quilting

"February 26, 1990:  Arlene R. and Arlene P. put my Sidewalks of New York quilt in the frame at church.  Quilted in p.m.
February 27, 1990:  Quilted in p.m.
Weather in February was very mild -- too little moisture."

Well, Grandma doesn't give me much to build on here.  I tried to find a photo of the Sidewalks of New York pattern, but could not.  It apparently is much like Trip Around the World, but there are many, many variations of that one.  I didn't find this quilt on Grandma's list of quilts and she does say "my" Sidewalks of New York, so perhaps she kept that one.  And maybe I can find out where it got to and take a picture of the actual quilt.

Speaking of taking pictures, I will need to find some examples to share in the future, but I must say picture taking was not Grandma's strongest talent.  She is taking a picture of Jayme here and I am pretty sure I saw the photos she took -- I think Jayme is visible from the nose up, everything else is blanket.  Grandma also had a habit of cutting peoples' heads off in pictures, so she swung to both extremes.  Quilts, she managed to photograph pretty well, however.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Uncle Elmer and Aunt Myrtle

"February 21, 1990:  Busy Bees at Nelle T's.
February 23, 1990:  Pinochle Club at Elta J's.
February 25, 1990:  We had dinner for Irene's birthday.  For dinner Dorothy Jo, Greta, Irene, Tom, Merilyn, Nancy, Mary, Rick were here for dinner.  For Elmer and Myrtle's 56th wedding anniversary these came in p.m. -- Myrtle, Elmer, Gaylord, Lois, Jeff, Linda, Karen, Bob, Mary, Michelle, Teresa, Carol, Ryan, Doug and Dana."

I have to comment first on the fact that Grandma apparently didn't proof-read the one entry since she had "for dinner" in one sentence twice.  I point this out because when we were kids especially, Dale and I were always delighted to catch Grandma saying "ain't" or using incorrect grammar.  Since she was an English teacher and our go-to expert for correct word usage, it was great to catch her in a mistake.  Not that she cared, of course -- she just laughed.

I will talk of Aunt Irene later, but will instead yak about Uncle Elmer and Aunt Myrtle here.  They are second and third from the left in the photo.  Uncle Elmer was my grandfather's half-brother, older by almost exactly 10 years.  I don't know how old I was before I finally asked and found out why they were brothers but had different last names.  Being "half"-related was not something that mattered -- they were brothers, period.  Which is how it should be, I believe.  Uncle Elmer's father died and his mother married Grandpa's father.  Simple, but I had to ask to find this out.

The couple lived on the farm place where Uncle Elmer and his siblings lived a fair portion of their childhood.  Uncle Elmer died 11 days shy of his 98th birthday, still living independently out in the country.  The night before one of his kids had come out and everyone had a nice evening playing cards.  How great is that?  I remember going to their farm place and there was always a big dog there that scared the heck out of me.  Funny thing is once we got there and got out of the car, I barely remember seeing the dog again.  I think once he knew we were approved company, he let us be.

Since I hung out with the ladies, I knew Aunt Myrtle a bit better than I did Uncle Elmer.  She and I shared a birthday which I knew from a young age, but somehow when I was out on my own, I managed to be late sending a birthday card to her almost every year.  How forgetful can one be to miss that day?  But she never teased me about it.  She had a chalkboard in her kitchen at kid-height, which I thought was extremely cool.  She made a feather doll for me with duck feathers from her own ducks.  I have it sitting out now and it is in fine shape.  I even have the extra feathers she was thoughtful enough to provide in case the doll needed a repair some time.  One of the highlights of our family Fourth of July gathering for me was Aunt Myrtle's raspberries, swimming in sugar.

One favorite story involving Aunt Myrtle was of something that happened when she was in her eighties.  Her daughter and daughter-in-law came out with a load of firewood for her.  They knew Aunt Myrtle would want to come out and help unload it, which they preferred she not do at her age.  So, they thought they would be smart and park the pickup with the bed flush against the doorway of the garage they were unloading in so Aunt Myrtle would not be able to get to the rear of the pickup to help.  The next thing they knew, she was crawling under the pickup to get inside the garage where they were.  I think stubborn is a word they may have used, but I prefer plucky.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sunday recipe and church

"February 15, 1990:  Snow.
February 16, 1990:  No Pinochle Club.
February 18, 1990:  The LCW had charge of church since pastors were on vacation.  Dorothy Jo, Lila and I had charge -- I read the sermon.  Greta and I went shopping in Norfolk in p.m."

Anna copied the recipe for me a long time ago, back when she didn't know how to spell 'chocolate'.  I don't know what the rectangle drawing is -- maybe it's a Rice Krispie bar.  No directions, but I guess just melt and stir and spread over cooled bars.  I don't know why I don't make this more often.  It's tasty!

I can believe Grandma did the sermon at church that Sunday.  Not that others couldn't or wouldn't, but she had a good measured voice for reading and wasn't shy about it.  Or didn't act like she was anyway.  Dale's senior class had her as their commencement speaker in 1977.  Somewhere I have a cassette tape of Grandma practicing.  I don't remember what her speech was all about, but I remember being there and being proud that they chose her for that special occasion.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Chopping wood

"February 13, 1990:  Nancy met Tom and Merilyn at airport at 9:30 p.m.  They were late because of snow in Denver.

February 14, 1990:  Tom took me home.  He took a load of wood back to Lincoln for Nancy and him."

Snow in Denver in February?  Sounds familiar as they are getting walloped this February in 2012 and the snow is coming our way.

There was probably always wood to be taken back to Lincoln.  Or to anywhere.  I think Grandpa sold some of it, but I think he gave lots away, too.  He was a wood chopping machine.  I will have to find one of the photos of his wood pile, well actually wall of wood -- neatly stacked in a long, thick wall.  I remember Tom and I watching Grandpa split a log or two one day.  It was well past Grandpa's cancer diagnosis and I recall he was to the point where he didn't look well anymore or at the very least one could tell he didn't feel well.  But we were all roaming around outside and Grandpa put a log on the stump he used for splitting logs and in about three or four whacks, he had it split.  I used to remember Tom's exact words, but it was kinda quiet between he and I and he said something like, "I'll be damned."  It probably took a lot out of Grandpa to do that, but I suppose he maybe felt a need to do something normal since life in general was rather abnormal at that time.

The photo above has nothing to do with anything, really.  I just found it and liked it.  It was taken in Fremont when a bunch of us went to ride on the train to Hooper.  Taken between 1987 and 1990.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Happy 100th birthday!

"February 11, 1990:  Nancy and I went to Rick and Mary's for a 10:30 brunch.  Dale and Dane came, too.  Lynn wasn't feeling well.  In p.m. Mary, Nancy and I went to movies -- saw "Driving Miss Daisy" -- a wonderful show."

I agree, "Driving Miss Daisy" is a wonderful show.  It was on just this last weekend and I watched most of it. 

Today is Grandma's 100th birthday.  I would have loved to have had a party today for the occasion with Grandma here to enjoy it.

Also born 100 years ago this year were Millvina Dean who would survive the sinking of the Titanic a few months later, Danny Thomas, Eva Braun, Pat Nixon, Foster Brooks, Woodie Guthrie, Art Linkletter, Gene Kelly, Lady Bird Johnson and Ben Hogan.  Two who died that year were Clara Barton and James Herman, our 27th vice president.

I had to include the vice president reference.  Grandma was very fond of lists and data.  When she couldn't sleep, she would recite the presidents in the order they served, and then alphabetically, and then the vice presidents sorted the same two ways.  She also knew all the counties in Nebraska and could recite a few poems by heart as well.  I must admit I did a well-received recitation of "The Cremation of Sam McGee" at the office Christmas party.  I heard of that piece from . . . Grandma. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012


"February 10, 1990:  Mary took me shopping.  Went to Valentino's in evening.  Dale, Lynn, Dane, Robin, Rick, Mary, Nancy and I.  After eating Rick, Mary, Nancy, Dale and Dane visited at Tom's.  Lynn wasn't feeling well so went home right away."

Fine.  I don't remember this either.  But I am sure we had a grand time.  And not to worry, Lynn is feeling fine now.

I would have to look at local history, but I wonder which Valentino's this was.  Was there more than one in 1990?  The original location is rather small, but it still has the best atmosphere.  I remember going there for the first time in high school.  Went to Lincoln with a classmate and her family for some school event.  They were amazed that I hadn't been there before, but we just didn't go to Lincoln much at all while I was still living at home.  I do remember the pizza was very good.

On a separate note, I have a blog-shy pro bono family historian that has some things to add/correct but hasn't done so yet.  We will wait, Mom.  You can do it.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Trip to California

"February 6, 1990:  Mary took Tom and Merilyn to airport at 6:30 a.m. for their trip to Hacienda Heights.  Nancy stayed at Tom's with me."

Alright.  I have no memory of doing this at all.  And I thought it was Aunt Irene who lived in Hacienda Heights, but she was already living in Nebraska again when this was written.  So . . . either I am mixing up where my great aunts and uncles lived in California, or Grandma was mistaken (doubtful), or Hacienda Heights was just the best place to fly in to.  I know Aunt Helen and Uncle John and Uncle Raymond and Aunt Marina were still living in California at that time so certainly Tom and Merilyn got to see them, as well as some of Aunt Helen's kids.  Grandma obviously was at Tom's to house- and cat-sit.  She doesn't mention Grandpa, but I am sure he was holding down the fort at home.