Friday, June 30, 2017

I don't know if Grandma would approve

Tues., April 30, 1935 - Cloudy and muddy.  Irene brought the invitation to a school party on Friday.  Got a ride with her and Howard to town.  Mom and I made the dessert for tomorrow nite.  Howard took me to Goodlings.
Wed., May 1, 1935 - Still muddy.  Walked into town, had a 1-1/2 mile ride with H. E. Simon.  My party went along fine.  Mayme won the prize.  Rews didn't come because of roads and Leffler was sick.  The other were Helen, Irene, Ella Mann, Ethel Lewis, Gladys Reichert, Theola Nuss, Marjorie Misfeldt, Mayme Voss and Lydia Kant.  We played High Five.  Iversens took me to Goodlings.
Thurs., May 2, 1935 - Tired as the dickens today.  Cold and cloudy.  Went to bed early.

Grandma has used "the dickens" two posts in a row, so I decided to get to the bottom of that phrase.  Here is what I found, similar to other sites, on

    When Pat was on WNYC, a caller suggested Charles Dickens as the source of “What the dickens!” Actually, it was Shakespeare. Here’s the exchange, from The Merry Wives of Windsor. “Mrs. Page: I cannot tell what the dickens his name is my husband had him of. What do you call your knight’s name, sirrah? Robin: Sir John Falstaff.”

     Well (as Falstaff once said … we think), whaddya know!

     OK, Shakespeare used the phrase more than two centuries before Charles Dickens saw the light of day. But the Bard wasn’t necessarily the first person to use it.

     So who the dickens is responsible for all the exclamations that feature the word “dickens”?

     The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed.) says “dickens” used in this sense is a euphemism for “devil,” influenced by the name Dickens.

     So Charles wasn’t responsible for the usage, but the surname “Dickens” may have had something to do with it.

     The Oxford English Dictionary says the expression “the dickens!” is “an interjectional exclamation expressing astonishment, impatience, irritation, etc.; usually with interrogative words, as what, where, how, why, etc.”

     The OED labels it as a slang or colloquial term meaning “the deuce, the devil.” It says the exclamation is “apparently substituted for ‘devil,’ as having the same initial sound.”

     But the dictionary says there’s no evidence to support suggestions that “dickens” evolved from the term “devilkin” or “deilkin” (little devil).

     The OED notes, though, that “Dickin” or “Dickon,” a diminutive of Dick, “was in use long before the earliest known instance of this, and Dickens as a surname was probably also already in existence.”

     So who is the first person to use a “dickens” expression in print?

     The earliest citation in the OED is from Thomas Heywood’s play King Edward IV (1st Part), published in 1599: “What the dickens is it loue that makes ye prate to me so fondly.”

     Did Heywood get there before Shakespeare? Maybe, maybe not. We don’t know for sure.

     Merry Wives was written sometime before Shakespeare died in 1616, but the earliest written version of the play now available is from the First Folio, published in 1623.

     Nevertheless, some scholars think it was written in the late 1590s, so perhaps “dickens” is another “first” for Shakespeare.

Now, I don't know that Grandma would necessarily care that her cute phrase was invoking the Devil, but she likely would have found it interesting.  Or perhaps, being the smart cookie she was, she knew it all along.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017


Sat., April 27, 1935 - Went to Norfolk on train this noon.  Got favors for my party on May 1.  Got a new sweater.  Tried it on tonite and found out it was too small. To bed early.
Sun., April 28, 1935 - Washed and waved my hair this a.m.  We practiced at the pavilion this p.m.  We had a good crowd tonite.  Play went off fine.  Howard brought me home.
Mon., April 29, 1935 - Rainy.  I'm tired as the dickens.  Frederick Niemann has measles.  We talked over Co. Exams.  The eighth graders should pass.  To bed early tonite.

Here's some interesting information regarding measles from

     Measles, an infectious disease caused by a virus, primarily infects children. The symptoms of measles include high fever, headache, hacking cough, conjunctivitis, and a rash. This rash usually begins inside the mouth as white spots (called Koplik's spots) and progresses to a red rash that spreads to face, neck, trunk, and extremities. The incubation period of measles varies, but is usually 10-12 days until symptoms appear. Due to this incubation period, measles are sometimes called nine- or ten-day measles. (Rubeola is yet another name for the illness). Whatever its name, patients normally make a full recovery from the disease, but complications can arise if a secondary bacterial infection occurs (such as pneumonia or ear infection).

     Measles was described as long ago as the ninth century when a Persian physician, Rhazes, first differentiated between measles and smallpox. He also made the observation that fever is a defense the body has against a disease, not a disease itself. His writings on the subject were translated into English and published in 1847.

     The virus that causes measles was first discovered in the 1930s. John F. Enders of Children's Hospital in Boston eventually isolated the measles virus in 1954 and began looking for an attenuated strain to be suitable for a live-virus vaccine. A successful immunization program for measles was begun soon after.

     Today, measles is controlled in the United States with a vaccination that confers immunity against measles, mumps, and rubella and is commonly called the MMR vaccine. After a series of measles epidemics occurred in the teenage population, a second MMR shot is now required of many school-age children, as it was found that only one vaccination appeared not to confer lifelong immunity.

Here is a bit more from an article about the recent phenomenon of parents not vaccinating their children.  How heartbreaking to have lived through the outbreak in Baltimore in the 1930s.  From

     In the 1930s, measles infections in Baltimore sickened thousands and killed or permanently injured hundreds of children every year. Outbreaks came and went, seemingly at random, bringing
uncertainty, fear, and tragedy to families across our city.  Then a scientist recognized a pattern. He found that the outbreaks occurred at times when most children in Baltimore had not experienced measles and were therefore susceptible to the infection. He correctly reasoned that when enough children were immune to measles by virtue of having survived a past infection, the virus could not easily spread.  This pattern turned out to be the key to the effectiveness of vaccination, one of the safest and most successful medical advances in history. By increasing the number of children who are immune, vaccines prevent outbreaks of lethal disease.

     After an effective measles vaccine was developed in the 1960s, the number of measles cases in
Baltimore began to decline. For the last ten years, our city has seen zero measles infections. Zero
hospitalizations. Zero permanent injuries. Zero deaths.

I am not sure of the time frame for "the last ten years", but the same article cites data from 2014, so that helps narrow it down a bit.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

More rain ruining things

Wed., April 24, 1935 - Cleared up today.  Went to bed early tonite.  Gave 8th graders final instructions for examinations tomorrow.
Thurs., April 25, 1935 - We practiced at the school house tonite, or rather said our parts.  Allen stopped at school house and gave me the questions.
Fri., April 26, 1935 - Warm today.  Mrs. Goodling brought me home at 4:15.  Baked cookies for lodge tonite.  Alma and I on committee.  Rained about 7:30.  Only a few at lodge.

I have to imagine that 8th grade examinations were somewhat stressful for the 8th graders.  Kids my age took all-encompassing tests every now and then, but they were just to see where we were at (I think), not to determine if we went to the next grade or not.  I guess back in the day, they were essentially college finals for 8th graders.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Rain, rain go away

Sun., April 21, 1935 - Easter Sunday.  Went to church with Mom.  Slept all afternoon.  Howard and I were going to a show but it was too late by the time we were ready to go.
Mon., April 22, 1935 - Warm today. Dust storm this p.m.  Planted some trees.  Practiced tonite at north school.  Started to rain about 10:30 and scared everyone home.
Tues., April 23, 1935 - Didn't rain much last night.  Cloudy all day.  Studied a little tonite.  Raining good when I went to bed.

Just as the idea of taking a train to Wayne or Norfolk and back again is foreign to me, so is the fact that rain was such an issue back in the day.  A mixed bag, I suppose, since at some times of the year rain was desirable for crops, but it sure seems to have often put a damper on social events.

I do not know where the above photo was taken, but a search of "Easter 1935" brought me to it and I thought all the happy people at an Easter wedding was too good not to share.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Happy 50th birthday to Grandma Anna

Thurs., April 18, 1935 - Helen went today to spend several days at Lindsey [sic].  Warm today.  Irene came after me and we went to Ethel's party.  Rews, Nuss, Lefler, Gladys Reichert were the other guests.  Played Hearts - had a good time and good lunch.
Fri., April 19, 1935 - Mom's fiftieth birthday.  Donald and Allen brought cars and took us to Dist. 40.  Warm today, had a good time.  Into town at 4:30, fixed dessert for club tomorrow nite.  Went to church tonite -- took Holy Communion.  After church Ray, Willie, Lillie, Louis, Martha and baby, Harry and Mary Kahler and Grandma Ruschmann came up to our place.  We had a midnight lunch.
Sat., April 20, 1935 - Worked like the dickens getting ready for card club tonite.  Only 8 members were there and they didn't come until 10:00!  Brr!  Nuss, Ethel, Rews were here by 8:30.

I am finding it difficult to imagine Grandma Anna at 50 years old.  I just realized that on this particular birthday, Grandma Anna had a 23-year-old daughter and when I was 50, my baby boy was 21-years-old.  I never did the math before to realize Grandma Anna had her firstborn at around the same age I did.  I found that the median age of brides when Grandma Anna got married was 21.6, whereas she was 25.  So, she had children a little later than others in her time, I am thinking.  All this doesn't mean anything really, just a bit of rambling on my part.  Here she is with Grandma and Uncle Ray, probably shy of 50, but I love the attitude:

I am guessing Grandma meant Aunt Helen went to Lindsay, a town in Nebraska, although I am confused as to why she would spend several days there.  So far as I know, we do not have family in that area.  This is what wikipedia says about Lindsay:

     In 1862, subject to the provisions of the Homestead Act, families began settling in the fertile land near Shell Creek. Lindsay was platted in 1886.  A large share of the early settlers being natives of Lindsay, Ontario, Canada caused the name to be selected. Lindsay was incorporated as a village on March 7, 1888.  By the early 20th century, Lindsay had an electric utility and water system comprising a 100-ft well and a 60,000-gallon tank.  The Chicago and North Western Railroad's Albion Line consisted of 115 miles of tracks through Lindsay, on which were operated four freight trains and two passenger trains daily. By 1917, the population of Lindsay had grown to almost 500 people.  What is now the Lindsay Corporation was founded in the village in 1955 by Paul Zimmerer as the Lindsay Manufacturing Company to be a maker of irrigation and farm automation equipment. The company has retained a manufacturing facility in Lindsay, but is now headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska and its stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange with a ticker symbol of LNN.  In 2005, the company accounted for 80% of employment in Lindsay, employing about 460 persons of the village's total employment of 577.  As of the census of 2010, there were 255 people, 111 households, and 77 families residing in the village.

Two things . . . Canadians?  And a business started in a little Nebraska village is now traded on the NYSE.  Nicely done, Lindsay.  (That's a photo of Lindsay above.)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Another party

Mon., April 15, 1935 - Read the invitation from Dist. 40 to their Easter party this Friday.  We've decided to accept.  To bed early tonite.  Robert treated for his birthday.
Tues., April 16, 1935 - Goodlings went to the show at Wayne tonite.  I went along and stayed at Uncle Chris's.  We played Pinochle.
Wed., April 17, 1935 - We practiced at north school tonite.  Everyone seemed tired and made funny mistakes.

I suppose those teachers all coordinated their parties so that invitations didn't cross in the mail.  I still wish I had gone to country school like some of my classmates did.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Grandpa at a convention?

Fri., April 12, 1935 - Cleared up today.  Warm outside.  Went to lodge tonite.  I'm on the next lunch committee with Alma.
Sat., April 13, 1935 - To Wayne this a.m.  Had a ride there with Chas. Misfeldt's.  To Sewell's office and at Aunt M.  Went on the noon train through to Norfolk.  Got new white slippers, some things for my party also.
Sun., April 14, 1935 - Confirmation services today, Louis B. one to be confirmed.  Had to stand in the hall.  Howard went to a W.O.W. convention at Lincoln this a.m.  Mom, Irene, Helen and I saw Will Rogers in "Life Begins at 40" at Wayne tonite.

I did not know that Grandpa ever went to anything close to a convention, but I'm glad to learn that he did.  I know he was a young man then and I knew him only as a grandfather, but I am imagining him having a difficult time sitting still for speeches and conferences and such.  It would have kept him inside too long.

I am a bit intrigued by the movie Grandma and the others went to see.  Here's a plot summary from IMDB:

     Kenesaw H. Clark (Will Rogers), owner and editor of the local small-town newspaper where the subscriptions are usually paid off in farm produce, comes upon young Lee Austin (Richard Cromwell), just out of jail and about to commit a crime. Clark takes him under his wing to put him on the straight and narrow, and also serves as Cupid in Lee's courtship of Adele Anderson, and gets himself in wrong with Colonel Joseph Abercrombie, the town banker and political boss. Losing his paper, Clark picks out the laziest man in town, T. Watterson Meriwether and runs him as a opposition candidate against Abercrombie. Believing that there is something strange about the hatred that Abercrombie and his son Joe have for Lee, Clark digs up the files of the crime that sent Lee to jail. Clark, with the aid of Meriwether and his hog-calling relatives, breaks up the Colonel's hog show/political rally, and then learns and proves that young Joe Abercrombie had stolen the money instead of Lee.

That all sounds like a fun story, but I learned from wikipedia that the movie is based on a non-fiction self-help book which is not at all what the plot would infer.  Wikipedia explains the book was "written during a time of rapid increase in life expectancy (at the time of its publication American life expectancy at birth was around 60 and climbing fast, from being only at age 40 fifty years before), it was very popular and influential.  More an extended essay and exhortation than a detailed self-help book in the modern sense, the general thrust of the book is that, given the current conditions of the world, one could look forward to many years of fulfilling and happy existence after age 40, provided that one maintained the proper positive attitude."  So, maybe the movie and its characters are drawn from a story in the book that was used as an example to make a point.  In any event, I hope they had a good time.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Not much to see here, but . . .

Tues., April 9, 1935 - Rained just about all afternoon.  We were going to practice tonite so we can give the play at Hoskins the 28th of this month, but the rain kept everyone at home.
Wed., April 10, 1935 - Rained this morning.  Went to Davis' tonite.  We played High Five after supper.  Raining when we went to bed.
Thurs., April 11, 1935 - Snowing this morning.  By this afternoon the snow had all melted.

Pretty tame stuff.

However, here in 2017 it is June 7th which means it is Grandpa and Grandma's wedding anniversary.  I will get to it in time, but I can't resist sharing now what Grandma wrote on that day:

Sun., June 7, 1936 - Nice warm sunshiny day.  Annie Miller came at 11:00.  Ray went to Wayne for my flowers.  He stopped for Howard and Helen on way back.  We went to the parsonage at 1:30, home again at 2:00.  After dinner went to Norfolk to have pictures taken.

Now, I know they got married that day but someone without that knowledge couldn't be certain from what Grandma wrote.  She does say "my flowers" instead of just "flowers" so one could suppose there was a special reason to be at the parsonage with flowers.  But she doesn't say marriage or wedding or ceremony or anything like that.  So matter of fact -- I am not surprised.