Betty’s Memories


Elizabeth Jane Linenberger, Huddle, Burnett (that’s me) doesn’t have any personal stories of western Kansas, specifically Orion, Ks. like my 6 brothers and 6 sisters might have.

One memory I have is being in a bed in the east room at the Collin’s place.  I looked out the east window and saw men with a lantern across the road.  Someone said they think dad and maybe Elmer or Omer were helping a cow have a calf.

Anyway I do want to tell you what Irene told me.  She said that she would lay on the bed and then put me on her chest to keep me breathing when I had pneumonia.  She also said that not long after I was born dad came to her and asked her to help take care of the kids, Elmer, Edna, Jack, Haddie, Agnes, Phil and me because mom was so sick.  She told me about being so young, I think she was only about 12 or 13 and had quite a time being in charge of cooking, cleaning, washing and getting the kids to school.  I wish I could have taped her stories about a goat eating something that was on the clothesline and about having to pay some one to polish all the shoes, and about how she and daddy got very close as they worked together while mom was sick.

I think we moved from the Collins place around Enosdale which is west and south of Washington, to the Nutsch’s place north of Morrowville.  I remember mom telling me I was five years old and was so lonesome for Phil and Jack and Aggie that the teacher agreed to have me come to school.  Since I was born on Feb. 28, 1935, I must have been 5 years and 10 month old when I started.

I sure remember how Jack, Phil and I would pretend we were a neighbor called “Puddle Nutsch”.  I also remember that one day a brick had fallen on my right foot, then the next day I stepped on a garden hoe and cut my big toe.  I don’t remember if it all hurt, but I sure remember feeling special  because dad carried me to the out house (toilet), upstairs to bed and I even got to sit on his lap when we ate. Now that was something!

I remember that I was sick a lot and would be put in mom and dad’s bed which was downstairs.  I can still hear mom telling Elmer not to make me laugh or to tease me and make me cry because I was sick.  But as soon as the folks would be out of sight Elmer would come in and tease me.  No harm done I guess because I’m still here.

I remember sitting on the ground and playing under a wagon, and I was going to hit Agnes with something and dad swatted me good on the behind.  I used to use a stick to draw things in the dirt until a chicken would come and steal it.

Oh, since I went to school when I was 5 I remember working so hard but then was told that I would have to be in first grade again because I was supposed to wait until I was 6 anyway.  Boy that sure made me not want to try real hard in school, but then we moved to a place south of Washington.  Oh, I forgot to mention that the school I started at was called Lowe Center School.  It was at that school that I broke my nose.  I’ll bet Edna remembers that better than I do, but I know the next day my head was all swollen up and when mom  called the doctor he said as long  as it was so swollen he couldn’t do anything to help.  Do you know I was 29 years old when I found out other people could breathe out of their nose!!

Other sketchy memories of Nutsch’s place are:

- Me bawling my eyes out cause I couldn’t sleep with Irene cause she had a friend over.

- Agnes and I getting so scared when our cats, Tebby and Tabby, came in the out house one night.

- Having to pick soy beans by hand.

- Being in the car that Elmer was driving when a wheel came off.

- Falling in the slop pail, a bucket we throwed table scraps in for the pigs, making a big mess.

- A white dog we called Spitz.

- Using small bones for toys, the little bones were cats and dogs and the bigger ones were horses and cows.

- My teacher was Mrs. Zack.

Then we moved to a place south of Washington and went to a country school about 2 miles north and west.  Our teachers name was Miss Evans and she would give me a ride on her shoulders.  I got scarlet fever just a day or two before the quarantine was to be lifted and that meant another 6 weeks of having a red quarantine sign on the house. Boy not too many of the family was happy about that.  Agnes, Phil and Jack were just getting over their bout and then I get it!

All the while they had scarlet fever Elmer and dad lived in a car in the garage. They couldn’t come in the house at all.  One time Elmer ran from the east porch through the kitchen and out the back porch saying “now maybe I’ll get it so I can lay in bed and not have to do any work”.  Sorry Elmer if that isn’t how it was but that’s how I remember it. 

When we all got well the walls had to be washed down with some kind of soap.  The mattress’s had to be aired out and when we finally got back to school the books had burned pages because since scarlet fever was so contagious the books had to be baked to kill any germs.

My sketchy memories from about 6 or 7 to when I started in “town school” which was about when I was in the 4th grade:

- Having to wear brown long stockings and overalls to school.

- Jack and I making tiny little bricks out of mud, drying them in the sun and then building a barn with a silo out of them.

- Taking a little ant, dropped it in white shoe polish and following it from the back porch all the way across the yard and then chickened out when it went into the pig pen.

- Riding behind the saddle on the pony Elmer used to get the cows, then falling off when Elmer would go up a steep creek bank, but would be raring to go the next time he said, “hey, candy armed, knocked kneed and pigeon toes, do you want to go with me to get the cows?” and old dummy me would go.

- Getting stuck up high on the windmill with Phil after Jack talked us into going up as high as he did to see if we could tell when mom and dad got to town.  Then Jack would have to go “take a leek” get down and leave us screaming and scared as we’d close our eyes as we climbed down.

- Having to wash the white woodwork in the kitchen while Agnes baked pies, cookies and cake, then getting mad when all the married kids would come home on Sundays and brag about her goodies but never saying a word about the clean woodwork in the kitchen.

- Celebrating with a big dinner when Elmer came home from the army and watching him get under the table when our cat jumped from a chair on the floor.

- Getting to sing in the choir and singing a solo.

- Being so scared the first day I went to school in town.  I don’t remember if Phil was the first to go or if it was me but I sure missed not having Phil, Agnes and Jack close by.

My memories of Miss Thompson, as my 4th grade teacher are not clear, but that’s when I got to play a band instrument.  It was the trombone, but I had to switch to a French horn because then the folks didn’t have to pay rent on it.  I was in the marching band and I also got to be one of the May Fete Queens.

I started working as a waitress at the Colonial  Cafe that Aggie and her husband Paul Green owned.  I helped take care of their baby girl, Patti, when I was 13 and the first day I worked at the cafe was during the Washington County fair.  We served over 200 people at the noon meal and boy did I learn fast. I’ll never forget when a family came in from Kentucky and asked for a soda.  I went back to the kitchen to ask Eva Wilbrandt for a box of soda.  She said “What the Hell are you going to do with soda?"  When I told her that’s what the customer ordered she said “what they want is pop.  Where they come from it’s called soda, Dummy!”.  She was my best buddy and always joked with me, so I went to Paul to see if she was right, and of course she was.

One night two young guys came in the cafe that worked for the Kansas Power and Light Company.  They were both from Cedar Vale, Kansas.  Their names were Cordis A. Huddle and Don Slaughter.  I ended up marrying Cordis who I found out was nick-named Duff because when his brother Curt, saw him for the first time he said, “man that’s a little duffer,” and the name stuck.

We became engaged the night I graduated from high school and I don’t remember a thing the speaker said.  We were married on October 24, 1953 and rented the upstairs apartment from Mr. and Mrs. King.  In 1955 on November 10th, our son Christopher was born.  Duff and I moved to Wichita when he was three month old.

On February 13, 1956 Duff was killed while working for the Pioneer Chemical Company.  He had inhaled benzene hexachloride while cleaning out a storage tank. Chris and I moved back to Washington and it was during this time I got to spend time with my dad.  He helped me rent a house, buy furniture and he really seemed to be enjoying our times together.  In April I took dad to Concordia.  Agnes and mom took him back to Concordia in July and were told that dad had cancer of the kidney.  When he died I was sure that any man I ever loved or would love would die.  But in October of 1956 a letter came from Jim Burnett that said, “you don’t know me but I’m John and Anna Burnett’s son and I hope you will write to me”. When I asked mom if she knew him she said “no not really, because he’s been in the Navy” and I shouldn’t answer the letter because he was much older than me.  Anyway, you know kids, I wrote to him out of loneliness and curiosity.

Jim proposed to me before Christmas of 1956 and were married on February 14, 1957.  Because he had used up his furlough time and if we would not get married in February, we would have to wait another 18 months when he would get time off from the Navy.  We lived in Naval housing in Long Beach California for 3 months then got sent to San Diego until 1959.  He got out of the Navy in January 23, 1959 but we couldn’t leave California because Lisa Leigh Ann was born on January 24th.

Richard was born in Rochester, MN. on Sept 21, 1960 and we then moved to Cannon Falls Minnesota.  In 1963 our youngest daughter was born on April 9th.  We lived in Cannon Falls until 1968 then moved to Wymore, NE. for a year.  Moved back to Cannon Falls in 1969.  In 1971 we moved to Rochester and worked at Saint Mary’s Hospital until Jim retired in July 1986.  We moved to Warsaw, Mo. and stayed there until 1995.  We left because Jim’s heart was not right and since he had Mayo Clinic Insurance we moved back to Minnesota.