My memories are
most clear beginning in Orion, “out west”.
I think mom and dad lived some place else when I was born, but I’m not
sure where, maybe Collier, Kansas.
My early memories of our farm at Orion are of the house with its four
rooms, kitchen, living room and a bedroom north of
the living room where we girls slept, a bedroom north of the kitchen
where mom and dad slept and the stairs to the basement (in my mind) led off from
mom and dad’s bedroom.
The boys slept in the basement.
I remember the cellar being east and a bit north (not too far either way
really) of the kitchen door.
The granary was east of the house and as far as my memory is concerned I
guess we didn’t have either a toilet or a barn, because try as hard as I can I
can’t place either one.
Some of the things
I remember “out west” are; we kids, probably from Edna and maybe Elmer on
down to Jack and Agnes, playing in the yard close to the granary and watching
black dust clouds coming and how we knew we were to get right to the house.
I remember mom, or someone, putting wet tea towels over the crib of
whoever was the baby and how the dust settled on the wet towel and turned to
remember being scared the baby would choke from the dust.
The dust during a dust storm would build up along the mop boards,
especially in the living room and there would be “drifts” of dust along the
I also remember we
kids playing around and on a buggy and me trying to walk on the tongue and it
came down on Jack and nearly crushed him.
Edna lifted it off of him, and I know she has a clearer memory of this
than I do, because I was so sure, for years, that I was not only going to Hell
for hurting Jack, but for most of my life I felt responsible if Jack did
anything not quite right or if he got sick with anything.
So, if Jack wants to know who is to blame for any or all of the bad
things in his life, it’s probably me.
I remember we same
kids, and this time I know Elmer was with us, playing in the same area of the
yard on and around the wagon which was sitting just north (or west) of the
saw a big old bull coming across the pasture north of the house, I think we
called it the pony pasture.
Anyhow, we either knew this bull was dangerous or we thought he was and
we all, except Elmer, climbed into the wagon for protection.
Elmer climbed on the roof of the granary and mom came out of the kitchen
waving a tea towel and yelling at the bull.
Here again, Edna or Elmer would have to remember what happened to the
bull, because I don’t remember anything except the fear and excitement.
But, it’s obvious we kids and mom came out okay.
I remember getting
ready for my first day of school.
I had turned 5 years old in July, so I guess it would have been 1934.
Anyhow, I had a new dress that mom or one of the older girls had made and
I was trying it on and thrilled about the dress and school, but then I started
to cry and didn’t want to go to school.
I remember Issie trying to soothe me clear up to going to bed the night
don’t know if I made it through the first day, but I do remember Omer having
to take me home at least once by buggy because I was “sick” at school.
In my memory I wasn’t really sick, so I wonder if this going home was
my first day or maybe I really did get sick later.
I remember Phil
was born, a couple of us were in a rocking chair in the kitchen outside of mom
and dad’s bedroom and dad came out and asked us what to name the new baby and
I remember saying, “Abraham Lincoln”, and everyone laughed their heads off
and I don’t think I realized what was so funny until I was much older and in
also remember watching the “little kids” out west and even giving Betty a
laid her on one of the beds in the girls’ bedroom and used just a wash basin
and washcloth, but it was a big deal to me.
I loved “taking care of the kids” and think my love for taking care
of babies started way back then.
I remember how
much trouble I had remembering Betty’s name, “Betty Jane”, and after she
was born and we went to school, I knew I would be asked what the new baby’s
name was and I just couldn’t remember the Jane part, so I told myself to
remember “Chain” for Jane.
I don’t know if I ever called her “Betty Chain” out loud, but in my
mind I still hear “Betty Chain”.
Let’s see what
else “out west” I can remember.
I remember we kids finding a big gunny sack of peanuts, in the shell,
just before Christmas and that was so scary, the sack was down in the basement
and when we found it we knew it was peanuts that Santa Claus always brought and
finding it was like blowing Christmas away.
I remember either older brothers and sisters or mom and dad explaining
that sometimes Santa Claus brought stuff like peanuts or candy early and I
don’t remember really doubting Santa Claus at that time.
I also remember
Elmer having to go out to shut the granary door one night and how scared he was
and how mad dad got with him and me wanting to go with him, which just made dad
yell at me too.
But, he got out and back just fine.
I remember Ben and
Joe coming to pick up Issie and Frances for a date, (I don’t remember Victor
and Katie there, but maybe Vic went to pick up Katy), anyhow, Joe had brought a
box of chocolate bunnies in a box and Frances gave us each a little of the
remember thinking Frances was the luckiest person in the world to get something
like that. I
also remember mom hurting her feelings by saying Joe shouldn’t have spent his
money on candy, but I knew mom wasn’t thinking clearly, because candy like
that had to mean true love and mom was just too old to know anything about love.
I don’t really
remember Frances and Joe moving to Washington County, but I do remember Issie
and Ben’s wedding and also Victor and Katy’s wedding and I remember when the
letter came that Frances and Joe were married.
I remember Issie and Ben kneeling on a sheet in the living room to
receive mom and dad’s blessing the morning of their wedding.
I thought they were married at that moment because we kids didn’t go to
the actual wedding.
We went over to the Brungardt’s and waited for the grown ups to come.
I remember Irene being in charge of us and it seems like we spent the
night at the Brungardt’s or at least late into the night.
I think the grown ups went to the wedding dance.
I don’t remember the actual wedding of Victor and Katy either.
What I remember most is the night before the wedding and Vic laying on
one of the beds in we girls’ bedroom and him saying how nervous he was and we
kids trying to make him calm down.
Whether it was to calm him or whether he needed it I don’t know, but I
do know I personally combed and re-combed his hair that evening and at that time
he did have hair to comb.
Even on the top of his head.
I remember Grandma
and Aunt Regina visiting us and Jack was talking a mile a minute to them.
Aunt Regina said, “he is like a phonograph”.
Jack, or Jakey as we called him, was telling them about going to Kansas
City and we all were getting a kick out of his story.
He must have been only 4 or 5 because it was just before we left there to
move to Enosdale, in Washington County
Oh, one memory I
have that is awfully fragmented, is of hearing a calf bawling all evening and
into the night and mom or someone telling us that the calf’s mother had been
killed by some men who had come to our farm.
I have mentioned this memory to the older ones and I think maybe this was
at the time of FDR’s killing livestock to control prices, anyhow, I have lots
of these fragments of memories out there and can’t always tie them into
something anyone remembers.
For instance, I remember asking Edna and Elmer how to spell G_U_M.
I didn’t realize that was how you spelled gum and they made such fun of
me, but why on earth did I need or want to know that - I don’t remember.
Of course, my best grade in spelling was about 20, so I am sure that’s
why they thought it was so funny.
Also, I remember
Edna and I burying a can with “treasures” in it just outside of the door of
the granary before we left for out trip to Enosdale.
We promised we would come back some day and dig it up.
In case anyone wonders, we never did.
We took off for
our move to Enosdale in the car with mom and dad, Irene, Edna, me, Jack, Agnes,
Phil and Betty, that’s nine of us.
We had a can to pee in and mom had some food, bologna is all I remember.
We stopped at grandma Kinderknecht’s house for the night and I remember
Edna and I going up these steep stairs to a little room that was dark as pitch
and I don’t know who else was in there.
It was so dark and scary that anyone could have been in there with us and
I wouldn’t remember them.
I also remember when someone came to get us in the morning how surprised
I was that everything was okay.
We left Grandma Kinderknecht’s house very early, in the dark, and this was in March I think, anyhow we all packed in the car, (I don’t know what kind it was, but it was not a station wagon or van). We had a chamber pot or just a large can along and I suppose, bologna and bread. We didn’t stop to go to the toilet or to eat. We used the pot and we would yell, “slam it out the window”, and on we would go.
We got to
Washington County after dark and I think dad was not sure where our farm was,
because we went to the Brungardt’s farm north of Morrowville and some slept
there and some at Issie and Ben’s place, just south of there.
The next day we went to our farm by Enosdale and as we drove into the
driveway, it looked like the most beautiful place on earth.
There were trees lining the driveway, big evergreens in the yard and
mulberry trees behind the house.
I remember mom and dad were so happy and they laughed while setting up
It seemed like all was right with the world.
Elmer and Omer were already there as they had come with the truck and the
seems to me that Victor and Katy were there to help us move during the day.
That place always has been the beginning of my good childhood memories,
of course since I was only 6 years old, maybe I don’t have too many memories
before that. We
kids used to play under those big evergreen trees and make “farms” and use
our bone “animals”.
I don’t know how to spell the word for those bones, but it sounded like
“bonics” to me.
Anyhow, the place under the trees were perfect for our homes.
I don’t think we
ever had trees where we lived out west and I remember I sure was impressed.
Later, dad planted other trees, fruit and some for a wind break.
We used to shake the mulberries from the trees and we had pies, etc. and
canned them too.
We kids used to play paper dolls, cut from the catalog, under the big
It had like a shelf under the top part, probably to hold extra leafs,
anyhow, it was perfect to use as “town” for our paper families.
It was at this table that I remember Jack, who was about 5 years old,
asking Al for some bread at supper, well Al fixed “jelly bread”, Jack took a
look at it and turned the bread over and when Al asked why he was doing that,
Jack said, “I don’t want jelly”, so he just turned it over so he
couldn’t see the jelly.
Al was “working out” somewhere and wasn’t home very often and I
think Jack didn’t want to say anything against what Al had done.
Anyhow, everyone laughed and then when Jack was still about that same
age, he came to mom after supper one evening, he pulled up his shirt, showed her
his back and ran his fingers over his spine, feeling the bumps, and said, “see
here are the peas I ate for supper”, and every one got a big kick out of that.
We moved to
Enosdale before the school year was over, but I, and I think Edna too, didn’t
have to go to school, (Hawkeye District), until the fall.
The teacher said our records from Union School, out west, were good
enough to pass on to the next grade.
I had started first grade out west in Union School right after *I turned
5 in July, so Emogene Stevenson would have someone in her grade, so when we
moved in 1936(?), I would have been finishing the second grade, so I must have
started third grade in the fall of 1936 at the Hawkeye School.
I think Jack could have started school that year too, but mom held him
back to start with Agnes the next year.
This makes me think about our ages when we moved to Enosdale.
Frances, Vic, Issie and Al were already in Washington County, the way I
and Omer came up with the big truck and Omer must have turned 14 years old in
February and Elmer 13 years in February, so Irene was 13, Edna 9. me 6, (to be 7
in July), Jack 5 (to be 6 in June), Agnes 4 (to be 5 in April), Phil just turned
3 in March and Betty must have turned 1 in February.
It’s hard to believe how young we all were.
I remember when school started in the fall.
Irene had to stay home a lot to help mom and Omer had to carry me to
school that winter because of the snow drifts.
Omer must have graduated from the 8th grade that next spring, 1937, and
then Irene in 1938.
I remember Jack and Agnes starting to school and that must have been the
fall of 1938.
All of us younger
kids had the whopping cough either the winter of 37-38 or the next year 38-39
and I think it was 37-38.
Boy that was awful, as soon as you started to cough, you couldn’t get
your breath and you felt like you were going to never breathe again.
Betty got so sick and Agnes did too.
She always stayed with Vic and Katy and I used to envy her because she
was their only child and it seemed that she was treated so special by Vic and
course, now that I am grown I know she felt pushed aside by mom and dad and
didn’t always feel so special at home.
It’s funny how the same situation can look so different to two people.
I remember when Betty, about 2 I think, lost her bottle.
We looked everywhere and couldn’t find it.
Irene was watching us that evening, I don’t know where mom and dad
were, but Betty was weaned for good that night.
I think the bottle showed up later behind the china cabinet.
It was on the
Enosdale farm that dad had mules for the first time, that I remember, and dad
and the boys shaved a part of the upper tail on the mules, I don’t know why,
but Jack, Agnes and I think Phil and I proceeded to do the same thing to one of
our cats, I did the actual shaving and I don’t know what they did, but I
remember us being in the south porch when we were caught.
I don’t remember if we got spanked, but I don’t think so.
I also remember
our neighbor to the north, don’t remember his name, being killed, I think he
was sawing trees or something.
Anyhow, they had his coffin in the house and we went to their house in
the evening. That
was my first experience with death and it really impressed me.
I remember the
year mom and dad got some kind of a federal land bank check, Vic can tell what
it really was, but what I remember is how happy they were and how I thought we
were rich. They
went to Fairbury and bought a davenport, and other stuff too, maybe, but I
remember we kids laying on that “made out” davenport and all of us listening
to the old battery radio, “the Grand Old Opry”, boy what a thrill.
I remember us listening to a German speech and mom and dad discussing
what was said.
It has always seemed that they were upset by that speech and I have often
wondered if it could have been one of Hitler’s early speeches that we now read
The Nutsch Place
I remember when
Carl Nutsch came to our house at Enosdale and afterwards the talk of moving.
When we moved to the Nutsch Place we had to share the house with the
Nutsch family as they couldn’t leave when they were supposed to, so Agnes,
Jack, Phil, Betty and Irene had to stay with Victor and Katy for what seemed a
long time. I
loved that house and farm.
Low center school wasn’t any more special than any other school but the
house and farms are special to me.
It seems like the farm did good and we would go to the Reno dance hall
and Morrowville free outdoor movies.
Mom was active in the alter society and quilting club and in my memory
those were good times.
I was at the
Nutsch place that Elmer must have “worked out” some, because it was our last
year or so there that I started helping dad with the chores.
I loved the milking and didn’t really mind the other stuff.
Although I never cared for the chickens.
In the spring we would get a bunch of baby chicks and put them in the
brooder house with the heater in the center.
Dad and I, and maybe others, took turns sleeping in the brooder house to
keep it warm so the chicks wouldn’t bunch up and smother.
I tried to raise ducks there one year and when they were almost ready to
sell, I went out one morning to feed them and they were all dead.
I was going to get a piano with my duck money which, of course, was no
a while later dad came to get us in the wagon from school and he said there was
surprise for us at home.
He and mom had run across an old piano and bought it, what a thrill.
I remember Betty coming to visit school and on the way home she was
running and fell and broke her nose.
That was the start of a lot of nose trouble for her.
Also, I remember the awful earaches I had at that age and I would lay in
mom and dad’s bed just off the living room and it was on one of those Sundays
that I was in bed with an earache that the news of Pearl Harbor came over the
seems that I was more excited than scared, but I’ll bet the older ones who
were in the room with dad have more sober memories.
I would have just turned 11 in July so I guess I didn’t really know
what war meant.
I know I was
pretty romantic about things at that time.
Al and Josephine had gotten married, I think in April of that year, and
boy they were the most romantic couple on earth to me.
Then when Mary was born, it was like they were one of those radio serials
come to life. I
was going to be just like them.
I graduated from Low Center, 8th grade, in the spring of 1942, (I
wouldn’t be 13 until that July).
Issie and Ben asked me to come to their place, it was east of Washington
but I don’t remember whose farm it was.
Anyhow, Ben was working someplace during the day and I was to do chores
for him. They
promised me $20.00 for the winter, boy was I something.
That was a great time in my life, of course I had spent many summers with
Issie and Ben, just as Edna spent time with Frances and Joe, and Agnes was Vic
and Katie’s girl.
But, now I was Ben’s “hired hand”.
Ben treated me like I knew what I was doing and I really took the job
during the day Issie and I did the other work and I remember she ordered a
checker board cake pan from a special catalog and I went to the mail box for
days waiting for that special thing.
When it finally came, she baked a checker board cake and it was
course in return for the chores and the $20.00, I managed at the end of the
winter to have scarlet fever at their house.
That was the year Larry was born and mom moved Edna over to help Issie
when the baby was about due and I moved over to help Frances move into that
place around Hanover that had the big Eagle statue in the front yard.
The morning after we moved in, of course, boxes, etc. were setting
everywhere and Alfred came downstairs and said some cuss word and because I had
discovered that I was really grown up and awfully smart, I said, “Alfred, you
won’t get to see Jesus if you talk like that”.
Well he, about 6 years old, shot back at me, “Oh shit, I saw Jesus this
morning”, and he pointed to a pile of pictures on the floor.
Frances and I about busted up trying not to laugh and when our kids said
“bad” words, I always remembered that incident.
Anyhow, after Larry was born, I came from Frances and Joe’s to Issie
and Ben’s and I don’t know why both Edna and I were there and I don’t know
who else had scarlet fever, but I got it and was sick at Issie’s and when we
were let out of quarantine, Edna and I went home and almost right away we were
First the 4 younger ones had it and then mom got it and was so awfully
this time Elmer and dad had to live in the garage with the car as their bedroom.
That’s the only way we could keep on selling milk to the milk truck.
Elmer can tell more about this.
Edna may not remember this quite the same as I do, because she was the
oldest so she probably had most of the responsibility.
But, I remember she and I thought we were hot stuff taking charge of the
house and kids.
And, of course, we were well by then, so we were full of p. and vinegar.
We cooked pretty much the way we wanted and thought we were hot stuff.
One day Edna
washed my hair and my hair was always so thick and wavy and Edna, I don’t
remember what we did to my hair, but do you remember it stuck out so far it
would have taken a bushed basket to cover it?
We, or rather you, I guess, took a picture of it out in the front yard,
out on the Collins farm, and then you and I stood together and held the camera
in the front as far as we could and took our own picture.
I remember how awful those pictures were and I haven’t seen one for
I hope I mercifully tore them up somewhere down the line.
Edna, you and I did some weird things, like coming home from Hawkeye
School at Enosdale and we cut across the pasture, or field (I don’t remember
which it was), anyway, we were coming close to the draw just before the barn and
we decided we would pretend that we had grown together like Siamese twins.
Well, we started down that draw joined at the hip, started to go crazy
laughing, fell into the draw and I wet my pants.
Well, things weren’t so funny all of a sudden, but one, or both of us
decided I should go directly to the toilet and you would go get moms talcum
powder from her bedroom, bring it out to me and I would shake it over my wet
panties and no one would ever know what happened.
Well, we carried out our plan, went in the house, changed our school
clothes and no one ever said a word.
But, I have often wondered what, #1) did I wear to school the next day as
we didn’t have that many changes and #2) what did mom think when she washed
those panties caked with talcum powder.
Well, back to our
scarlet fever days, after mom got well and we were let out of quarantine, we had
that big house to fumigate and it seems like Omer had just been discharged from
the army and helped us.
I know mom was still not well and Edna and I did most of the scrubbing of
walls, etc. This
was in the spring of 1943 and when things got back to normal after scarlet
fever, Edna went to work in town at the hotel for Mrs. Welch and I worked for
the Freemans for awhile, helping her with spring cleaning and also picking
I hated that strawberry picking and they had what seemed like acres of them.
They were good and kind people and let me borrow as many books, magazines
and papers that I wanted, and oh how I loved to read.
Always have and still do.
Anyhow, by June or July I was hired out to Avis Jackson, east of town.
She was the younger kids’ teacher in the country school south of town.
She was cold and mean.
I worked sun up to sun down and when she was around me she would always
have some cutting remark to make about me personally.
When I helped serve the men from the harvest, she would tell them to look
me over because mom and dad had so many kids that they sent the girls out as
hired girls during harvest hoping that a young farm hand would take her off of
their hands. she
always had to add that there were so many kids because we were Catholic.
Then she would have her lady friends over in the afternoon and I would
serve lemonade or something and while I was serving them she would tell the
ladies how I came from poor farmers with lots of kids.
That I had never gone to high school, I had been out of the 8th grade the
year before, and wouldn’t ever be good for anything except, “having babies
for the pope”, and then would laugh and laugh.
Well I was turning
14 that July and I knew how babies came about, but I also knew that if the Pope
wanted babies from me, as a good Catholic girl, I would give him some.
Just how this was going to take place I didn’t know because I didn’t
know about birth control and didn’t realize that’s what they were talking
anyhow, it wasn’t the having the babies for the Pope that pissed me off and
got myself to thinking, it was her comment about not going to high school that
turned me into a rebel.
So, the next Sunday, mom and dad picked me up before church and took me
back after Sunday chores, just before dad went out to do chores and he, mom and
I were in the kitchen, I announced that I was not going to keep on being a hired
girl and I was going to go to high school.
Mom was real upset with me and dad said he might have an idea, but I was
to go on back that week and we would see what happened with his idea during the
next week. Well,
I didn’t have to wait the full week.
Dad and mom came to pick me up on Saturday on their way to town and dad
said he had talked with our neighbor, Mr. Wineger’s daughter was keeping house
for Judge Andy Freeborn in town and she would be leaving in the fall to go to
Kansas City to have an operation on her legs, which had been damaged by polio
several years before.
Anyway, the deal was that during the month of August, I would work with
Geneva and learn the job and then I would work for my board and room with the
Judge and go to high school.
Now dad did have one concern, he said he wasn’t sure if, “they took
Catholics in the high school”, and we were to see Mr. Darby and Mrs. Beach in
the high school office that afternoon to check and then I would meet the Judge
and Geneva. If
everything worked out, we would go pick up my things at Avis Jackson’s house
and I would start work on Monday.
Well, we went to the High School, but dad didn’t come in with me and I
walked into the office and asked Mr. Darby if Catholic kids could come to High
School and he said in his gruff manner, “well, I don’t know.
Why would a Catholic kid want to come to high school?”
Well, I was so scared, that I don’t know what I said and I came to
learn later that Mr. Darby just talked like that and it wasn’t just me.
Anyhow, I got started in high school and Edna started the same year and I
think Connie Daugherty, Edna and I were the only Catholics, but we weren’t
My high school
days were some of the best days of my life.
I loved school.
I loved the friends I made and I loved living in town.
I got the Judge’s breakfast in the morning, cleaned the downstairs and
went to school.
I was excused from my study hall just before lunch and went to get his
lunch and clean his rooms upstairs, went back to school, then did the wash after
school on Mondays and hung them out overnight, and brought what was dry in the
next morning and the rest after school the next afternoon.
In February or March, the judge had a stroke one evening and I called
Farrell Lobaugh who was a close friend of his and Mary Alice Lobaugh was my
The judge was confused and a bit combative, so I was sent to friends of
his, the Groodys.
Mr. Lobaugh and some other man took the judge to a Topeka Hospital where
he died several weeks later.
Dick Groody was
going into the service and he and his wife wanted me to stay with the family
until school was out, which I did.
After school was out I spent the summer on the farm helping with chores,
shocking wheat and whatever dad needed.
By this time,
Elmer was in the service.
Omer was “batching” on a place somewhere and Jack and Phil were old
enough to be most of the help.
That fall, 1944, I started working for Gladys Brown, she was the wife of
the Rexall drug store owner’s son and she and her 2 little girls were living
with the Browns while her husband, Dr. John Brown was in the Navy.
After Dr. Brown was discharged, I started working in Browns Drug Store
and except for a short time in early 1946, I lived with the Browns.
In the month or two that I moved in with 3 other girls I got the measles
really bad and had to go home where I went into a coma and was quite sick.
Dr. Gomel told me later that the St. Vitus dance I had was caused by
rheumatic fever I had from the measles and I should never get pregnant.
Well, I was only 16 or 17 and mom had already told me not to get pregnant
so it didn’t mean much to me.
Then later, when I did get pregnant, the Doctor said the heart murmur
from the rheumatic fever was a slight one and it never caused a problem.
Elmer came home
from he service and Al went into service sometime in my last years of high
in 1946 I think, Al may have gone in 1945, anyhow, dad and I went by bus down to
Montrose, Missouri for Elmer and Alvena’s wedding and I got so car sick I
couldn’t hardly hold my head up.
I hate busses!
In our last year of high school, or at least I think it was the last
year, Edna had so many sinus infections and was awfully sick and I worried about
her a lot. But
we both graduated in 1947.
I had been in
touch with the orphanage in St. Mary’s, Kansas about working there after
director advised me to become an RN first and then come there, so I started
writing to various hospitals in Kansas and Nebraska to apply for a scholarship.
Dr. Huntly was very helpful in my attempt to get information from schools
of nursing and at one time he said St. Elizabeths in Lincoln still had the Army
Nurses Cadet program through the Federal Government and they not only paid the
full school tuition, but also gave a small stipend while you were training.
Well, Mrs. Beach, Dr. Huntly and I worked on a letter applying for that
program and I was accepted in about March or April, 1947.
But, by May and before graduation, St. Elizabeths notified me that the
government was disbanding the Army Nurses Program, but they had a scholarship
available which I qualified for, it would pay for tuition, books and uniforms
and if I was interested I could start work in the Hospital Pharmacy right after
graduation and live free in the nurses home.
By doing this I could save money to help meet my other expenses.
I got $100 a month and worked part of May, all of June, July and August
and I felt rich!
I had just gotten a raise at Browns Drug Store early that year, when Mr.
Brown asked me to stay on and manage the place because he was in poor health
I was earning 35 cents an hour at the time I left.
Anyhow, the Browns took me to Lincoln after graduation and I worked in
the pharmacy until classes started in September.
We students had 6 weeks training , working in the hospital and then we
worked and went to class during the day and the upperclassmen ran the hospital
at night with the first year students as their trainees.
There was a night supervisor on call, but by the time you were a senior,
you were expected to be capable of running the place and looking back on those
days, when I went back to nursing, I think we were better trained to care for
patients while we were students than girls are now who have graduated.
Of course we didn’t have the test, etc. to work with se we didn’t
have much involved medical science in our training, as there wasn’t near the
knowledge available to doctors or nurses.
Well, in the way
of kids in any school or college, we were always setting up blind dates with a
friend of a friend, etc., so as time went on one of my friends who was dating
John Moore, from her home town, asked me to go on a date with John’s roommate,
which I did. About
4 months later that “friend” and I were engaged and when classes were over
for that year, I resigned from nurses training and went back to work in the
Al and I got
married in August of 1948.
Al graduated from the university of Nebraska in January, 1949.
We moved to Kansas City where he went to work for Hallmark Cards.
Gary was born in December, 1949, Bob in August, 1951, Kenny in February,
1954, and Kathy in January, 1956.
Al worked for Hallmark 6˝ years and then went to work for Bendix until
he retired in October, 1987.
Jack lived with us
right after he graduated from high school and worked for Hallmark, too.
He went into the Navy after 8 or 9 months and we moved into another
was in this place that I walked out the back door to empty the garbage and the
sidewalk gave way and I fell into an empty cistern that had been in the olden
days, but not used for a long time.
That injury eventually caused a ruptured disk and 6 weeks in the hospital
in traction after we had the first four kids.
The didn’t do the laminectomies back then like they do now and in time
I was pretty good.
Phil stayed with
us a short time too and worked for Hallmark, but he hated the city and went back
Elmer and Alvena moved to Kansas City and we visited back and forth and it was
so good to have family here.
Elmer stayed with us a couple of times when he was first in KC and
looking for a house for Alvena and Phyllis and then later while their house was
being built in Raytown.
It was with Elmer’s help that we were able to buy our first house.
Al, of course had the GI loan, but we didn’t have enough saved for the
down payment. Well,
we thought we could just borrow it, but were told we couldn’t borrow for a
down payment and when we told Elmer, he said, “That’s no problem, I’ll
lend you the down payment and after the deal on the house is closed you can
borrow money to pay me back and no one will be the wiser.”
And that’s what we did.
We were generous to Elmer though, as we allowed him to drive the first
nail in our new house, to hang the curtains.
We lived in that house 12 years and Jack lived with us there after he got
out of the Navy up to when he and Bonnie got married.
Kenny had developed such a closeness to Jack by that time that he really
resented Bonnie at first because he felt she was taking his “buddy” away.
That was kind of sad and funny too.
And, of course in no time Bonnie was his buddy too.
Then in about 1958 or so Frank came to live with us and work in KC.
Boy that was a great time for me, trying to keep my senses.
By that time I was taking in children to baby-sit for a little extra
money and Frank had to be on the job by some ungodly hour like 3 or 4 am.
Anyway, he and I would get up at 2 am.
I would fix breakfast for us and his lunch and then I would do up the
dishes from supper the night before and clean up before the first kids started
to come. Well,
Al and Frank were like a couple of kids themselves, they teased me about
everything under the sun and they were continually competing with each other in
everything from badminton to who could cuss the loudest and longest.
Al, Jack and Frank did a lot of hunting in that winter (58-59).
On their way to hunt one Sunday morning, they hit a patch of ice and
wrecked Jack’s car.
Bonnie and the girls were at our house and about 2 or 3 in the afternoon
the hospital called to say Al was in an accident and they needed to admit him.
About that same time Jack and Frank came walking in with swollen eyes,
split lips and scrapes and bruises all over.
Frank stayed with the kids and I went to the hospital expecting Al to
look really bad.
He didn’t have a scratch, but he did have a bad concussion that kept
him in the hospital almost a week.
In 1963, we were
expecting another baby and needed a bigger house, so we built the one we are in
in January Terri was born.
She was 14 years younger than Gary, the oldest, and 8 years younger than
Kathy, who was the youngest of the 4 oldest children.
Terri was like a mascot for all of us.
The older kids were old enough to enjoy her and help take care of her.
I had to keep a chart as to who held her last and for how long, so no one
was cheated. Those
were good years.
Then in 1968, Gary left home to go to college, graduated in 1972 with a
degree in electrical engineering.
Bob graduated in 1969 from high school and went to WestPoint, resigned
after 1˝ years, came back to KC and got his PHD in Biochemistry and then went
to Switzerland for a year doing research, funded by the Swiss government.
Kenny went into the Navy in July, 1972, and was discharged a year later
and was eventually found to have the mental illness of Schizophrenia.
He was able to work until the fall of 1987 and now lives on disability.
Kathy got married and left home in late 1973 to follow her husband who
was in the Air Force.
She came home to live with us again in 1974 when her husband was sent to
in the fall of 1969, I had a stroke and my illness and recovery was really hard
on Kenny, Kathy and Terri.
But, I recovered completely in about 18 months and felt very lucky.
I had been very
active in volunteer work in the schools, church and boy and girl scouts and
I managed the high school book store for 8 years, was a teacher’s
assistant for 6 years and then worked as a paid assistant school nurse,
librarian and school secretary.
In 1975 I went back to school to get my degree in nursing and worked as a
Registered Nurse in a critical care unit in St. Joseph Hospital in Kansas City
While Kathy and
Jason were living here, while her husband was in Vietnam, the house next door
blew up and burned to the ground on New Year’s Eve.
We were asleep, the phone rang about 2 am with a wrong number and as I
hung up the phone, Al said, “Oh, my God, the house next door is on fire!”
We called the fire department, grabbed Jason and ran outside.
The explosion knocked me down in the hall and Al down in the driveway.
Windows were blown out in our house and the walls at the south side of
the house were buckled almost off the foundation.
The floors in the bedrooms were burned by sparks and there were burned
spots on the mattresses.
The metal windows were completely torn loose by the explosion.
That was an exciting and scary time and thankfully no one was hurt.
In 1987, just
after Terri’s 23rd birthday, she was murdered by her boyfriend when she told
him she wanted to break off their relationship.
This was a horrible time for the whole family.
The hospital where I was working offered early retirement for those whose
years of service and their age totaled a certain number.
This was in February of 1987, right after Terri’s murder.
Kathy was taking Terri’s death really hard and Kenny started drinking
wife had just walked out on him, leaving him with their 18 month old baby and
Gary’s wife was pregnant with their 6th child.
So, I retired!!!
Kathy did go through a really bad time, in fact she tried to commit
suicide 3 times and spent lots of time in the hospital before she worked through
her grief. Kenny
went into treatment for alcohol abuse that year and had several bad psychotic
episodes and finally he couldn’t hold a job any longer and he was offered and
took disability retirement.
Kathy, Bob and Kenny are doing Okay now.
Kenny will always need help, but we have learned to handle it.
Al retired in October, 1987 and we have become very involved with the
Mental Health System and the Criminal Justice System, working with our state
legislators to change the law regarding the Insanity Plea, which is what
Terri’s murderer used.
And, we have become active in and leaders of the support group,
“Parents of Murdered Children” and I volunteer one day a week in the
prosecuting attorney’s office working with victims of crime.
In 1992 we worked hard in Missouri and Kansas to pass the Victims’
Rights Constitutional Amendment in those states.
Betty and Jim, Elmer and Alvena, Jack and Bonnie, Frances, Dot and John
and Janet helped us so much in Missouri.
In Washington, Frank and Gina, Agnes and Stewart, Al and Josephine, Issie
and Ben and lots more came to hear us speak on the amendment and both states
passed it by 85-87%.
I have put stuff
in here that I am not sure is wanted for these “memories”, we were asked to
write, so anything you feel should be left out, just leave it out or don’t
Harriett &/or Hedwig