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^ales ^om ^wo "^^ers I 

^ales ^rom ^wo '^^^ers I 

A Two Rivers Arts Council Publication 

College of Fine Arts Development 

Western Illinois University 

Macomb, Illinois 

^ales ^rom ^wo '^B^ers I 


Jerrilee Cain 

John E. Hallwas 

Victor Hicken 

Copywright 1981 by Western Illinois University 

Library of Congress Catalog Card No.: 81-51362 

Cover photograph courtesy of Mrs. Lyman Ray of Macomb; photographs at the head of each chapter are 
from Archives and Special Collections, Western Illinois University Library. 


1 Community Life 


Ernest A. Peyroru Sr. 5 



Jane Nash Lund 7 







THE ELLISVILLE OPERA HOUSE Willis R. Harkless and Angela Fomeris 16 

"UNCLE TOM'S CABIN" IN RUSHVILLE Florence M. Woodworth 16 







MARIETTA AND COAL CUT Kermit F. Oliver 26 

Ida C.Jackson 28 


BUG TUSSLE Frank Hersman 29 

II Earning A Living 



Kenneth Weinant 38 


THE DAY THE RAINS CAME Ruth S. Pollitt 41 


Marguerite Campbell Hill 44 




PLOWING IN 1913 Ollie Alexander 49 

John C. Willev 50 


WORKING WITH HORSES Homer A. Canfield 53 

III Family Life 

LONG AGO ALONG THE MISSISSIPPI Evangeline Dickhoener Norton 59 


CHRISTMAS LONG AGO Esther HoUender 63 



VIEWING HALLEY'S COMET IN 1910 Edna Williams 67 


THE BLOWN-UP BANK Virgie Mead 69 


DADDY JENKINS Ethel Jenkins Wetterling 72 

p. J. FLEMING-MY POP Mary W. Heitzig 73 


GRANDMA Katherine Boden 11 

I REMEMBER GRANDMA Marion Lister Zejmowicz 11 

IV School Days, School Days 


Burdette Graham 85 



COUNTRY SCHOOL DAYS Pierre Marshall 90 

WE ALL REMEMBER Nina Senders, Edna Codling, 

Bertha Ensworth, Zalea Elliott, Osee L. Anderson, Faye Douglas 92 

Erma Elliott Swearingen 93 

Beula Selters 93 




DE JA VU Marion Y. Baker 97 

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT Burton O. Goodwin 98 

LONG TOWN Nelda B.Cain 99 

V Tin Lizzies, Etc. 




THE RUNAWAY Eunice Stone DeShane 108 


THE PONY CART Martha Lewis Crabb 110 

OUR FIRST AUTOMOBILE H. Harlan Bloomer 111 


SEEING LUCKY LINDY Pauline Dittmer 115 



George W. Carpenter 118 

THE BIRTH OF ROUTE 136 Orville Larson 119 



VJ Hard Times 


HAPPINESS WAS HOMEMADE Lillian Nelson Combites 127 

DEATH IN YEARS GONE BY Olive L. Orsbom 128 

PRAIRIE DOCTOR Genevieve Hagerty 128 

TO BE GERMAN IN 1917-1918 Ora M. Huffendick 130 

MEMORIES OF A "FRESH AIR" CHILD Marguerite Foster 131 

MY FIRST REAL JOB BenPadget 132 

GOOD OLD DEPRESSION DAYS Virginia Dee Schneider 133 

MOLDY WHEAT Roxie Heaton 135 


A DEAL IS A DEAL Elsie L.Dixon 137 

THECCCANDME Lowell Clover 138 

THE PRICE OF THINGS DelbertLutz 139 

TRAMP? Sarah Catherine McKone 140 

THE WATERTOWN FLOOD OF 1922 Martin E. Herstedt 141 

THE WINTER OF THE FLOOD Margaret Sipes Lawson 142 

BE ARDSTOWN'S DRY FLOOD Vivian May Pate 143 

THE BAKERY WAGON Bob Hulsen 145 

VU Farm Life 

THE LITTLE FARMS Flov K. Chapman 151 

ALL THE NEEDS OF DAILY LIFE Adelphia J . Dean 153 



A RURAL CHILDHOOD Edith F. Aden 156 

LIFE ON NUBBIN' RIDGE Ora Lee Douglas 157 

FARMSTYLE: 1909 TO 1920 Dorothy B. Berry 158 

THE WINTER OF 1936 Francis Harrison 160 

MOVING DAY: 1899 Lvdia Kanauss 161 

CREAM AND EGGS BY U.S. MAIL Ruth H. Lingle 161 

THE CIDER MILL Laurence L. Rover 163 





PICKING CORN M^i/merV. DeMff 172 



GLADACRES ORCHARD Eleanor Dodds 175 

ALONG A COUNTRY MILE Burdette Graham 176 

THE YARDS HAD PANSIES L;7/iari Elizabeth Terry 177 

NO BAND-AIDS Loren S. Ct/rhs 178 

FISHING CROOKED CREEK Clare Becku-ith 179 

FLEAS AND PHD.'S Margaret Eyman 180 

THE WAY IT WAS Clarice Trone Dickerson 181 

List of Authors m 




Plymouth Opera House 



Our thanks to all of the many writers who submitted stories to the 1980 Tales from Two 
Rivers writing contest. Although there was not room in the book for every story, the names of all 
the contestants are recorded in the index of this book. Each author has contributed to the 
preservation of Illinois social history. Editing of the contributions has generally been restricted 
to instances where the meaning was unclear, although some memoirs were only printed in part 
because of space limitations. 

To Dean Forrest Suycott, College of Fine Arts, and Dr. William E. Brattain, University 
Union, both of whom provided the leadership necessary to organize the Two Rivers Arts Council. 

To the lUinois Arts Council and the lUinois Humanities Council for funding that made 
possible the writing contest from which these stories are drawn and the publication of this book. 
Tales from Two Rivers I. 

To John Hallwas and Victor Hicken for editing the manuscripts and providing invaluable 
advice concerning the publication of this book. 

To Terri Garner, Beth Shallenberger and Laurie Miller, who xeroxed, typed, retyped, filed and 
otherwise made possible the organization of the book itself. 

To the following banks, community organizations, and businesses that supported the project: 
Meiss-Burton Sundries; Plymouth LaHarpe Lions Club; Brenda Sayre, Macomb; Everly House, 
Macomb; Snyder Vaughn-Haven, Inc., Rushville; Americana Healthcare Center, Macomb; 
Fulton County Arts Council; Warren County Historical Society; Security Savings and Loan 
Association, Monmouth; Macomb Kewanis Club; Astoria Rebekah Lodge; C.P.E.O. Chapter, 

Table Grove; State Street Bank and Trust, Quincy; Galesburg Community Arts Council; 
Carthage Lions Club; Mt. Sterling Chamber of Commerce; First National Bank of Berry; Table 
Grove Jaycee's; Henderson County Historical Society, Raritan; Spoon River Senior Citizens, 

We hope you enjoy the book! 

'VtbltL CjU^' 


Jerrilee Cain (Contest Director) 



Carol Bailey 
Rossann Baker 
Jane Boyd 
William Brattain 
Shirley Burton 
Nancy Butler 
Jerrilee Cain, Exec. Sec. 
Larry Carsen 

Clay Edwards 

Jack Furgason, Business Manager 

Bruce Gardner 

John Graham 

Mary Graham 

John Hallwas 

Carolyn Hamilton 

Lynne Kern 

Yvonne Knapp, President 

Eileen Rauschert 

Forrest Suycott 

Diane Snyder 

Helen Thomson, Vice President 

Gloria Tomlinson 

Jerry Tyson 

Carol Yeoman, Treasurer 


Patti Flint, Galesburg 
John Hageboeck, MoUne 

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For the communities of western Illinois, and all of small- 
town America, the 1920's made a big difference. Automobiles 
had been around in ever-increasing numbers since before 
World War I, but they did little to link one town with another 
until hard roads were constructed in the twenties. Those 
same roads allowed farmers to transport livestock and 
produce by truck to urban centers, thus bypassing the 
country towns which had been important rail shipping 
points. Likewise, wind-up phonographs, silent-film movie 
theatres, and crystal set radios had been on the scene since 
the early years of the century, but significant improvements 
in those mechanical sources of entertainment did much to 
popularize them in the twenties. As a result, people came into 
closer contact with the economic and cultural environment 
that lay beyond their home towns. 

But while those developments exerted a centrifugal 
force, propelhng people into a larger world, the communities 
of which they were a part underwent rapid change. The 
blacksmith shops disappeared, with their mingled smell of 
smoke and sweat, and their constant clanging of hammers on 
hot metal; and the last of the livery stables vanished, where 
men had gathered to talk of crops and livestock, sports and 
women, amidst the smell of cured hay, feed, and horse 
manure. A certain masculinity was gone from the small town 
with the coming of the automobile. 

In other ways, too, there was change. With hard- 
surfaced roads and affordable cars, the rural population was 
not so dependent upon the nearest village for a market and 
supply center. Competition had come to Main Street, and 
soon there were fewer small-town stores selhng clothes, 
hardware, drugs, furniture, and groceries— and fewer 
photograph studios and funeral parlors. The dechne that set 
in during the twenties continued in the Depression, as 
townspeople and farm famihes ahke learned to get along with 
less. Soon, each small town was no longer the complete Uttle 

world that it had once been, and today there is an 
unshakeable feehng of emptiness and abandonment in places 
like Augusta, Fountain Green, Keithsburg, Kirkwood, 
Marietta, Vermont, and Warsaw. 

Local live entertainment also waned. Weekly band 
concerts that once brought the community together at the 
park in summertime eventually disappeared, as phonographs 
and radios became common and the Depression dried up the 
money that had financed those groups. Without the bands, 
Fourth of July and Memorial Day parades lost some of their 
spectacle and excitement. Now, unused bandstands remain 
as curiosities— community heirlooms— in villages hke Adair, 
Colchester, and Elmwood, and musical participation in local 
parades is left to the children. But fortunately, we have 
memoirs hke Ernest A. Peyron's "The 1910 Fourth of July 
Celebration in LaHarpe," which vividly portrays the color 
and excitement of community entertainment long ago. 

Other hve entertainment vanished, too. Movie theatres 
killed the opera houses that had once brought Uncle Tom 's 
Cabin, The Count of Monte Cristo. pianist Bhnd Boone, 
Dashington and Talbot's Minstrels, magic exhibitions, and 
numerous other shows to Carthage, Oquawka, Rushville, and 
similar places. As a result, townspeople no longer gathered to 
view and approve local performers either. Now, the few 
remaining opera houses— in EUisville, Rushville, and 
Raritan— stand empty, although some local residents are 
beginning to work toward their restoration. "Memories of the 
Plymouth Opera House" by Small Burdett, "The EUisville 
Opera House" by Willis Harkless, and "Uncle Tom's Cabin in 
Rushville" by Florence Woodworth describe those 
fascinating community entertainment halls during their 
heyday and reveal what they meant to local people. 

For much the same reasons, chautauqua also 
disappeared in the twenties, after reaching a high point in the 
previous decade. Many famihes had camped on the local 
chautauqua grounds during that marvelous summer week 

when the program of plays, music, and speeches brought 
instruction and entertainment to their town. 

County fairs, community picnics. Old Settlers' 
celebrations, box suppers, pie socials, square dances, and 
other social activities have also declined or completely 
disappeared, as the forces of our electronic culture have 
diminished the interest in participatory entertainment and 
the apparent need for community contact. So we are indebted 
to "Recollections of the Henry County Fair, 1906-1907" by 
Jane Nash Lund, "The Pie Social in Calhoun County" by 
Marie Freesmeyer, "Old Settler's Day in Plymouth" by 
Harold S. Donkle, and other fine memoirs in this section for 
reveaUng part of our lost heritage of community social 

Thus, the various changes that took place in western 
Illinois towns decades ago resulted in more than economic 

decline. Cultural vitahty diminished, and so did community 
togetherness. In a sense, the end of community isolation and 
provincialism has brought an increase of individual isolation. 
Townspeople do not know each other as well as they used to. 
Communities do not provide the rich social contact that once 
offered recognition, support, encouragement, and security to 
those who "belonged." The small town is no longer an 
extension of the family. 

All of the memoirs that follow recall the richness and 
vitality of community life in western Illinois more than half a 
century ago. While everyone recognizes that the "good old 
days" for most people were also marked by deprivation, 
restriction, and hardship, town life clearly provided a kind of 
fulfillment that made up for the narrowness and adversity 
which simply had to be endured. 


Ernest A. Peyron, Sr. 

The Fourth of July celebration was an annual affair in 
LaHarpe, Ilhnois where I hved, and one particular year, 1910, 
stands out clearly in my mind today. I was ten years old then. 

As usual, a large crowd assembled. People came in on 
the morning and noon trains and others arrived in the horse- 
drawn buggies and wagons from the neighboring 
communities. Preston Jones, from the northeast country, 
brought his family to town in a wagon to which was hitched a 
team of oxen. This created some added interest, especially 
among the younger set. Only a few automobiles were in the 
vicinity at that time, and the fact that there would be auto 
races, aroused much interest and excitement. Some great 
concern was coupled with excitement at one point, however, 
when one of the horses became frightened and ran away, 
causing the buggy to overturn and endangering the 
occupants. No serious injuries were sustained so all turned 
out well. I do not recall what, if any, reaction to the 
automobiles was made by the oxen. The City Park was the 
center of entertainment. The Parkland and Orendorff Band 
from Peoria and a singing group from Ft. Madison furnished 
music and song. Contests and games were provided for 
participation of both old and young. 

The LaHarpe Clothing Store managers worked out a 
little plan of their own to add to the day's enjoyment. They 
advertised that they would furnish free dinners and prizes to 
the largest group of out-of-town residents arriving at their 
store in one vehicle between the hours of 10:00 and 11:00 a.m. 
This plan provoked a very amusing idea in the minds of some 
close friends and a practical joke began to take form. 
Everyone in the west country and the La Crosse vicinity were 
notified of the plot and told to meet at the railroad crossing 
near the J. B. Campbell home before 11:00 that morning. 
Some trucks were borrowed from the Scott Lionberger 

Threshers outfit, and a platform 10 ft. by 18 ft. was built and 
assembled on the truck. Then three teams of horses were 
hitched to the vehicle, and 138 people chmbed aboard and 
reported for registry at the appointed time and place. 
However, this well-laid plan, which originated at the La 
Crosse Church on the previous Sunday, sprang a leak and the 
Merchants learned of the plot. They quietly cooperated and 
engaged some ladies of the Christian Church to prepare 
dinner for the crowd. They kept their bargain. Prizes were 
awarded as advertised and a good feeling of fellowship 

Afternoon activities took place at the Fairgrounds 
where auto races and horse races held the interest of 
everyone. As a County Fair was held in LaHarpe each year in 
those days, the track and amphitheatre were always 
available. Race horses were trained on the track at all times. 

Another feature that went over big was when Mr. 
Jericho, the Druggist, in association with other merchants, 
scattered 500 pennies on the street. Some of the pennies had 
special markings which when presented to the merchants, 
gave them an extra prize. This caused quite a scramble 
among some of the ladies as weU as all of the kids and it 
afforded much amusement. 

As evening approached, all gathered in the Park again 
to listen to the music. When darkness fell, a beautiful display 
of fireworks terminated the day's celebration. Well, almost. 
The noise and the hghts of firecrackers, rockets and roman 
candles were not appreciated by the horses hitched to the 
Park raihngs, and they caused a Uttle trouble for their 
owners. But it was a great day and one never to be completely 


Burdette Graham 

Plans were made many weeks in advance for the big 
affair which happened in August for many years in the town 

of Adair, Illinois. This event really lasted the better part of 
two days because the first day, Thursday, was for getting 
ready, and Thursday night was a band concert. Traffic was 
routed around side streets, and the main street between the 
railroad tracks on the east and the business district on the 
west was made into a beautiful arena for various events. 
Seats were made from two by eights and tile. On the east side 
of the arena was a stage used for various things but mainly 
for the pageant which was held on Friday night. Fish was 
served at noon and in the evening on Friday. 

The fish were cooked in large flat pans over fires built 
between concrete or stone blocks. Several local people were 
known as the expert chefs, particularly men named Oldfield 
and Garrison. 

On Friday afternoon the big parade took place with 
floats displaying many of the wares of local farmers and 
businesses. Among these were L. A. McGrew's Horses and 
Cattle and Auctioneer Business; Herndon Brothers Store, 
with farm machinery, tools, engines, and food; Herndon 's 
farm, with purebred hogs and cattle and horses; local 
churches; and other businesses and clubs. 

After the parade a horse show took place where the 
leading breeds were Belgians, Percherons, and Clydesdales. 
Sometimes a lighter horse would show up, but usually the 
draft animals were the main show. 

Usually some sporting events entertained the crowd for 
a while. One event was Wheel Barrow Polo. In this event six 
members made up a team. Each team consisted of six wheel 
barrows, a rider with a broom, and a pusher. The idea was to 
get the ball, a socker ball, across the goal line by only hitting 
with the broom. When the whistle blew, the six members 
converged on the middle of the arena and began batting the 
ball everywhere, and of course, each tried to hit it toward his 
goal hue. The problems came with someone of the opposite 
team being in the way, running into the opposite players, and 
missing the ball with the broom while hitting someone of the 
opposite team. Many spills happened, but I do not remember 

any broken legs, or heads. There were many wheel barrows 
without wheels, and some went on to finish by having the 
pusher become a puller and dragging the wheel barrow and 
its rider with his broom into the thick of battle. About the 
only foul was touching the ball with hands or feet, or hitting 
it when not in a wheel barrow. 

Another event was Model T polo. Two Model T's, each 
with a bumper of 2 x 12 lumber, made up a team. The ball was 
a large five-foot-diameter leather or canvas affair. The idea 
was to get it to the goal past the other team, who also had two 
Model T's fixed up the same way. Lots of pushing went on 
but nothing like modern demolition derbies. The cars seemed 
to come out in pretty good shape. The idea was to out-drive 
the other team and slip around an end or through an opening. 

In another year a Model T race was staged in the arena. 
The cars could not run out of low gear, or low pedal. They 
were fixed up with their hoods off and exhaust pipes 
extended straight out from the block, or straight pipes. So 
many laps around were necessary, and of course, the one done 
in the least time won. A lot of noise and dust was made and 
most of the cars became overheated, with steam flying out. 
No wrecks or injuries happened, but I doubt that this race 
was ever staged another year. It was a little hard on the cars. 

After this almost everyone went home to chore and get 
ready for the night performance. Almost everyone ate fish 
either before going home to chore or went early and came 
back and ate. Some people— in fact, many— came from towns 
and farms many miles away, and so of course, they arranged 
for someone else to chore and stayed around town and 
shopped or watched games like horseshoes or croquet. 

The night stage show was made up of local players, who 
had practiced many weeks before so as to present a good 
performance. After the curtain call came, everyone went 

THE EARLY 1900's 

Ruby Sexton 

I was born near Adair on July 16, 1895, on a farm near 
Pilot Grove School. This is where I started my school years. 
There was just my brother and I; he was five years younger. 

Soon after we started to school my dad brought a 
farm— still near Adair— where we moved into a log house. We 
attended Pilot Grove School and Church. Pilot Grove School 
continued until the late 1930's when rural schools began to be 

When my parents decided the log cabin was getting out- 
dated, dad had the framing boards sawed from our own 
timber and built a new house. This is still my home. In those 
days it was quite a nice dwelling, having furnace heat, where 
you could go downstairs from an inside door made in the 
floor. It was seven rooms and a bath. I remember how proud 
my mother was of her new rag carpet, loom woven, and she 
put it in our parlor after sewing many strips together. 

The Pilot Grove Church always had summer revivals. 
My dad put up a small dam across the little creek in our 
pasture and baptisms were held at this httle water hole. 
Many times the dam would have to be replaced each year. 

The village of Adair was our shopping center. At that 
time Adair had two doctors, a drug store, a barber shop, a 
harness shop and a hardware store. There were two stores 
that sold both food and staples and dry goods. One of these 
dry good stores also had the bank vault and a little window 
for transactions. Adair once had stock shipping and you 
could drive animals to town or haul them in a wagon and ship 
them by train. Adair has always had a thriving lumber yard 
business and an elevator, likewise a Post Office. 

I can recall visiting my aunt who had the telephone 
switchboard in her house. She might have to stop drying 
dishes or peeling potatoes to give a signal ring on another Une 
that was not connected to the person's line who was calling. I 

still have the big tall chair she sat on at busy times of the day 
to pull and punch the plugs. The grape-vine gossip traveled 
from house to house because anyone who wished could hsten 
in on any conversation, if your conscience didn't hurt you. 
My aunt's house was really a center of information and 
probably sometimes misinformation. 

Adair's biggest crowd could be found on the 4th of July, 
when all turned out with their lunch baskets to watch or 
participate in a big parade or a band concert in the park, 
where the bandstand still is. There were also horse shows and 
races, fish fries and home talent plays. 

In the days of my childhood I recall having been very 
fond of a gentleman school teacher at Pilot Grove. I guess I 
must have been an upper class pupil. Grading was not done 
as it is today, and I probably was about sixteen— old enough 
to be casting sheep eyes at the opposite sex. I sometimes 
went back to pick up a book after school was dismissed just 
to see him one more time. He didn't give me any extra 
attention. Of course, he was much older than I and later he 
married a nice lady and continued teaching school at local 
areas until retirement. Shortly after his retirement she 
passed away. After a few years went by, he called upon me. I 
had had a few sweethearts, but none that pleased myself and 
my parents, who influenced me very much. After courting 
this "way back when" school teacher for a couple of years, we 
were married. I was forty-two years old. 



Jane Nash Lund 

The fair was a big event for small fry way back then. 
Children were admitted free on Wednesdays, and so of course 
that was the day we went. Mother packed a big picnic lunch. 
Father hitched the horses to the big open buggy, and we were 
off to the fair. There were rows of hitch racks for the horses. 

many of them filled. The calliope on the Merry-go-Round was 
blaring, and lots of people were stroUing around. 

My brother and 1 were each given a quarter to spend. 
We dashed off to join the excitement while our parents 
headed for the barns to see the livestock. 

The big attraction for us was the one ride on the 
grounds, the Merry-go-Round. Tickets were six for a quarter, 
so one of our precious coins went for three rides apiece. 
Dividing the second quarter caused a few arguements. The 
tickets burned a hole in our pocket so we had to take a ride at 
once. The painted horses pranced, the calUope blared, and the 
steam engine whistle blew. We were very thrilled. 

A tour of the grounds was next in order. The south end 
of the grounds was a park-like area with lots of big trees. 
There was a log cabin that had been built by the Old Settler's 
Association. It contained a big fireplace, and various old 
tools. A big amphitheater faced the race track. Back of the 
amphitheater was the cream candy stand. The candy bubbled 
and boiled in a big pit, and an iron hook was fastened to a tree 
in front of the stand. When the taffy was cooked a big blob of 
it was hung on the hook and a man pulled and worked it into 
snowy white ribbons. These were cut into strips about a foot 
long, wrapped in wax paper, and sold to the waiting patrons. 
After some arguements one of our nickels went for candy, as 
that could be divided. Dust, flys, ants, and other insects were 
plentiful way back then, but there were no inspectors to tell 
us how very unsanitary it all was. 

The next attraction was the ice stand. They had a sort of 
a griddle where they dropped a ladle of batter, flipped it like a 
pancake, and rolled it into a cone to be filled with ice cream to 
sell for a nickel. I think that there was also a lemonade stand. 
The product could have been described by the old phrase 
"made in the shade and stired with a spade." The ice that 
they used all came from a river or pond, and had been 
preserved in sawdust. 

Two small buildings housed fancy work, vegetables, 
small grains, and seed corn. There was also a dilapidated open 

building where some local organization served dinners. 
There were also a few games of chance. 

A big tent housed cages of chickens of all descriptions. 
There were several rows of horse barns. A. G. Soderburg and 
E. A. South exhibited their world famous Clydesdales. There 
were big black Percherons and fancy driving horses decked 
out in elaborate trappings. The race horse barns were farther 
back. Drivers in bright silks strolled about, but that area was 
off Omits for small fry. There were a lot of pens of hogs in all 
colors and a few cattle. 

By now we had covered the grounds and were ready to 
meet our parents in the grove. Several famihes of friends and 
relatives joined with us to spread their blankets on the 
ground for a big picnic dinner. 

After dinner came the horse races and sometimes even a 
ballon ascension, which we watched big-eyed. In between we 
clambered up and down the ampitheater seats to invest our 
remaining pennies and use our other ride tickets. 

We arrived home tired but happy, with a few stomach 
aches perhaps, but all of that went along with the annual visit 
to "the great Henry County Fair." 


Ruby Davenport Kish 

Before the days of radio and television, people would 
think that back then people did not have any fun. Well that 
just isn't so. You have heard of the old saying, "You never 
miss what you have not had." We used to have all kinds of 
fun, but it was a different kind of fun and always shared by 
others, which helped to bring people closer together. One of 
the best times I ever had was when we went to the Anti- 
Horsethief Picnic. 

When I was a child there were very few cars around and 
only the wealthy had them. We managed to have one or two 
old Model T's, but we could wear ourselves out cranking 

them or break an arm trying to get them started. My father 
would sometimes give up in disgust, and we'd all pile in the 
wagon and go. Back in those days a farmer had to rely on his 
horses for transportation and farming. 

In pioneer times when horse thieves began to flourish 
farmers banded together and started the Anti-Horsethief 
Association for their own protection. The organization 
progressed and continued long after horse thieves became 
extinct. Members paid a smaU fee and they met on the third 
Thursday of July for their annual picnic. It was the summer 
of July 1926, and my mother and father had talked and 
planned for days to attend the picnic. Mom baked, fried up a 
lot of chicken, and made potato salad, deviled eggs, and 
pickles. When the beautiful sunshiney day arrived, we piled 
in the old wagon with our huge basket of food. We had all 
bathed and scoured the night before, and we put on our best 
clean clothes, and with two horses puUing the wagon we 
started out down the road for the picnic grounds. 

We had traveled about ten miles, when we came to a 
timbered area with a small clearing up front shaded by some 
very large oak and walnut trees. The farm women had set up 
tables by placing some long boards on saw horses. The tables 
were then spread with newspapers to give them a clean neat 
appearance, and the farm wives were busily setting their 
goodies out on the table in preparation for the noon meal. We 
children walked along the tables eyeing everything and 
deciding just what we would grab when it got to be our turn 
in line. We were shooed away occasionally by our angry 
mothers. The amount of sandwiches, meats, salads, cakes, 
pies and cookies was enough to make any child's eyes bulge. 
Everyone of us children took more than we could eat, and we 
ate more than we should have but the adults knew better. 
There was ice cream, aU we could eat. 

After we had rested awhile in the shade the games were 
started. There were small and useful prizes. For children, 
they had bought things like pencil boxes, tablets, crayons, 
etc. Adults as well as children participated in the sack race. 

What made it so much fun was that everyone came up with 
the darndest partners. One would go a httle faster than the 
other one, their feet would tangle and down they'd go. One 
game was the egg-in-the-spoon racing contest which usually 
ended up a mess, for most everyone dropped the egg and it 
broke and splattered. We had few winners on that one but it 
sure was a lot of fun. 

After the games, the men played horseshoes and the 
women and children sprawled out on a blanket in the 
shade— the women to gossip and the children to get an 
earfuU. We had a very rewarding, fun-filled day as we were 
famihes enjoying good clean fun. That is something most 
famihes miss today. 

When the men got tired of horseshoes and talk they 
decided to hold the final contest of the day, the largest family 
competition. Each man was to round up his family and put 
them in his wagon and bring them to the judges' place. The 
winner was to receive a hundred pounds of corn meal, a 
hundred pounds of sugar and a hundred pounds of flour. My 
father managed somehow to get us all together in the wagon 
and bring us before the judges. That was the hardest test of 
the day, getting everyone together when it came time to go 
home. You could find one and then another would run off and 
disappear. Well, we won, as there were eight children in our 
family and our parents made ten. The other parents came up 
short. My father and mother sure were glad to win those 
prizes, for it would be that much that they wouldn't have to 

It was decided that since we were loaded up that we 
might as well go home. We children were happy too that we 
had won the best prize of all, and I in my childhke way of 
thinking decided that my father was the smartest man there 
since he had the largest family. I have often chuckled to 
myself later in hfe about that train of thought, but I have 
never forgotten the fun of that Anti-Horsethief Picnic. 


Marie Freesmeyer 

In the peninsula county between the two rivers, we were 
quite isolated from the cities with their multiplicity of 
entertainments. However, there were several local activities 
which adequately compensated. One was the annual pie social 
(closely related to the box social in other areas) held at most 
of the elementary schools during the apple harvesting season. 
Why in that particular season? Because that was the time of 
year when the lads had the most pocket money and were 
most apt to be free with it. 

The object of the socials was to enable the school to 
purchase a few extras, such as playground equipment, art 
supplies, books, pictures— or maybe even an organ or piano. 

Go back with me, if you will, and visit such a pie social. I 
can recall many of these events, both as a student and later as 
a teacher. 

In most districts, these events were advertised only by 
word of mouth or "the grapevine," as we called it. The date, 
set by the school well in advance, was quickly spread to be 
sure that no other school in that vicinity would select the 
same date. It was usually on a Friday night so that the late 
hour of revelry would not prevent even the youngest child 
from attending. This was an occasion for the old and young 
alike to participate, or at least to enjoy. 

During the days prior to the date, the pie social was the 
main topic of conversation, especially among the students 
and the apple crews of that area. The fellows joked about who 
would "bid in" whose pie and how much they might be willing 
to pay for it. Usually there was wide-spread knowledge of 
which boy was "sweet on" which girl, and plans were made to 
bid against him, thus making him pay dearly for the privilege 
of eating pie with her. 

During the intervening time the girls in the community 
spent endless hours planning the kind of pie to bake and in 
decorating a box to put it in. Great competition was waged 

among them in both the quality of the pie and the beauty of 
the box, then for making ribbons, bows, and even flowers. It 
is difficult to imagine the colorful display that these boxes 
made when they were finally assembled. 

In spite of the seemingly endless number of days before 
the arrival of this eventful evening, it finally dawned. The 
schoolroom was scrubbed and shining. Every desk had been 
put in order and all loose objects securely tucked away. 
Lamps and lanterns had been provided for at least a dim 
light, and ample space had been prepared for the numerous 
boxes with their precious contents. The teacher had 
instructed one of the students to prepare two sets of 
numerals, one for the boxes and one to be given to the 
purchaser. The teacher usually served as secretary and one of 
the school board members as treasurer for the evening. 

The auctioneer, who was usually a local man with a bit 
of talent and a "a gift for gab," had been contacted weeks 
ahead. He arrived early to get details from the teacher and to 
see that everything was in readiness for a successful evening. 
Weather cooperating, it was rightfully presupposed that 
there would be a large crowd or a "packed house." 

The auctioneer took his place at the front of the room 
and held up the first box, which one of the older students had 
handed him. The secretary took the number of the box; the 
crowd settled down for business, and the bidding started. He 
may have had to work slowly and kid a bit to get as much as a 
two dollar bid on this first box. (No girl wanted her box to be 
auctioned first, and several warned or bribed those in charge.) 
But as the evening progressed the bidding became livelier, 
especially when warned by the auctioneer that they were 
nearing the end or that a particular box is exceptionally 
heavy so it must be a dehcious pie. Of course, the more 
attractive boxes sold best because it was assumed that they 
were made by an older girl. 1 have known the boys to bid 
against a man who wanted a particular girl's pie and make 
him pay as much as ten dollars for it. That was almost a 
week's wages in those days. 


After all the pies had been sold, some girls were 
ecstatically happy, but others were quite dour because of the 
one who had purchased their pie and with whom they must 
sit and share it. But the claiming of the boxes and its owner 
would have to wait. There were more exciting things on the 

A large cake was held up as the auctioneer announced 
that it would be given to the girl in the audience who received 
the most votes as the prettiest girl. Several minutes were 
allowed for putting names of the nominees on the board, then 
the voting began at a penny a vote. This never failed to cause 
a lot of excitement and fun. During the voting the auctioneer 
held his big pocket watch in his hand to let them know just 
how much time was left for the contest. First one then 
another of the young men stepped forward with enough 
collected money to put their favorite candidate ahead. During 
the last few minutes voting took place at a rapid pace, and 
the room was a din from cheers of first one group then 
another. The cake contest was frequently the most financially 
rewarding part of the social. I recaU one particular contest 
which earned over one hundred dollars. 

Then there was a contest to see who would win the jar of 
pickles for being the most lovesick couple. There was always 
a lot of fun and joking during the nominating but seldom the 
heated voting that took place in the earlier competition. 

Sometimes there was a pillow donated to be given to the 
laziest man. This, too, provided much joking and many 
humorous comments but all in good clean fun. Frequently 
this was won by the auctioneer himself, and he probably 
contributed in his own behalf. 

"Now boys, come up and claim your boxes; then you can 
claim its owner," concluded the auctioneer at a rather late 
hour (still early by today's standard). The purchaser would 
seek out the girl whose name matched the number on the 
secretary's sheet. All the time he was hoping for his favorite 
pie, but more importantly, he was hoping that the girl would 
be a suitable and pleasant companion. I'm sure the older 

fellows were a bit disappointed when the owner proved to be a 
ten or twelve year old school girl. 

When all had found their partners, it made a very pretty 
sight to see the various couples sitting in those single, 
student desks eating, talking, and laughing. Most of them 
were discussing the happenings of the evening, all the time 
looking around to see who was eating with whom. Older 
women did not think it appropriate for them to bring a pie, 
and the men who had not purchased one never failed to 
receive generous portions from friends and neighbors. 

When all had eaten too much, wraps and belongings 
were collected and the exodus began. But the year's pie social 
would provide material for much rehashing, laughter, and 
even a bit of gossip for many days after. Too, it provided the 
school with ample funds for purchasing some of the things 
which the teacher and pupils would use for the remainder of 
that term and perhaps many more. 

The pie social is a tradition fondly remembered by the 
people of that era and locally. It may have been the beginning 
of many a romance which terminated in marriage. 


Muriel Camer 

I first saw the man who would be my husband when I 
was shopping in Stronghurst. This was about 1920. My best 
friend, Goldie Booten, and I were in the dry goods store. She 
saw this young man walk past the front of the store. He was 
wearing a white suit, and he seemed to be looking right at us. 
Goldie said to me, "Muriel, that guy is after you!" Why, I 
didn't believe her and just said, "Oh no, I'm too fat!" But 
after the third time he walked past, he came in and asked me 
for a date. I guess it was love at first sight because after that 
first date, we saw each other three times a week until we 
married two years later. There was not a better man than 

Morris Carrier. He was patient, kind, and loving ... a good 

For some entertainment whUe we courted, he would 
sometimes buy a bag of candy at the store and we would go 
for a buggy ride. Often, we would go to the box socials or 
dances in the community. 

Some neighbors had a dance one evening while we were 
courting that was especially memorable. Mr. and Mrs. Frank 
Veech built a large new chicken house that spring. They 
planned to raise chickens and sell them. It had electricity, 
wood floors, and nice windows. Before they put the chickens 
in it, they decided to have a dance to celebrate its completion. 
They invited all the neighbors to come to a dance in the new 
chicken house. 

Morris came in his horse and buggy to pick me up. It 
was about dusk on a spring evening. He wore a white shirt 
and navy blue pants. I wore my best dress. It was a long, 
brown, lace georgette. Morris always called me 'Red' or 
'Punkin' because my long hair was light auburn. That night, I 
wore it in puffs at my ears in a style that the other girls 
jokingly called 'Kootie Garages.' 

Mrs. Veech had a table set up in the chicken house with 
coffee, sandwiches, and pies for the refreshments. Three 
musicians— a banjo player, a fiddler, and a guitar player— had 
chairs in one corner. Another man called the square dances. 
They were neighborhood men who could play both round and 
square dance music for the neighborhood dances. Some of the 
tunes they played at the dance at the chicken house were: 
"The Irish Washer Woman," "The 8th of January," "Skip to 
My Lou," and "The Tennessee Waltz." 

There were about sixty people at the dance, both young 
and old. My parents, Goldie Booten, Mr. and Mrs. Vern 
Likely, Maude Justice, and some of the Burrel family were 
there. Miss Georgetta, the school teacher, did not go to 

Some of the older ones knew how to schottische, and old 
Virg Davis would dance a jig if he was in the right mood. 

When the square dance caller said "Swing your corner!" 
during one of the square dances, Maude Justice did just that. 
Maude was a very large woman, and although Morris was 
average height and weO muscled, Maude was a lot bigger. She 
just picked him up and swung him right around! 

About midnight, they played "Home Sweet Home," and 
Morris and I danced the last dance in the new chicken house. 


William F. Irvin 

Those of you who have grown up in the era of radio, 
television, movies, and the easy mobiUty that comes with 
good roads may well wonder how those of us who grew up 
during the early 1920's spent the long winter evenings in a 
small town. Roads in those days were such that, for all 
practical purposes, Brooklyn was an isolated community 
during the winter months. The telephone was there, but in a 
very primitive form. The two stores were able to keep a 
supply of staples only because storekeepers made occasional 
trips to Augusta, through mud or on a frozen, rutted road. 
Consequently, our entertainment was pretty much of our own 

Ice skating was one of our major recreations. After a 
couple of nights when the temperature was zero or below, we 
skated on " The Crick." (To all of us of that era, the Lamoine 
River will always be "The Crick.") This was a short walk for 
most of us. "The Crick" was always preferred because the ice 
was better, and one had the feehng that he could skate on and 
on for miles. Actually, some of the older boys did skate as far 
as Birmingham. We usually skated from the dam to 
"Blackburn's Bend" and back. There was always a fire, and 
usually someone would pull up small logs to use as seats 
around it. Lanterns were placed at the open water where ice 
had been cut to be stored for summer use. When the ice was 
good and the weather not too bitterly cold, this activity 

involved most of the community. I was among the youngest 
of the group, which ranged in age from eight or ten to sixty or 

When "The Crick" was not safe we skated at "The Cut- 
off." This was the old river bed, which had silted up after 
"The Crick" changed its course many years before. The water 
was shallow, so ice formed more rapidly, and the only real 
danger was that of getting wet if the ice should break. After 
supper we would gather in small groups and walk the two 
miles to "The Cut-off." The usual fire was built, and we would 
skate for a couple of hours before we started the walk home. 
Sleeping was never a problem after such an evening. 

Snow, of course, spoiled the skating, but it made 
coasting possible. There were several good hiUs near town, all 
of which sloped to a common valley. Most of the young people 
congregated there. Some of the older boys had made bob- 
sleds, which would seat up to eight, and most of us had our 
own small sled with steel runners. The coasting started for us 
younger ones immediately after school. Then after supper, 
the whole group came. We swished down the hills and 
dragged the sleds back until we knew that we would be in 
trouble at home if we didn't get there soon. 

There were many nights when there was neither ice nor 
snow. On these evenings the lucky ones who were from large 
famihes played Flinch, Somerset, Old Maid, and Checkers. In 
the families where playing cards were allowed they also 
played Rummy, Pitch, Seven Up, Hearts and Five Hundred. 
As an only child I wasn't able to play these games unless 
when we had guests or when we visited neighbors. However, 
I loved to read, and my parents made a quantity of reading 
material available. They subscribed to the Saturday Evening 
Post, Ladies Home Journal, Cosmopolitan, and National 
Geographic. These, along with the books I found at school, 
fiUed many winter evenings. 

AU of this may seem dull to those of you from later 
generations. However, we had good times. I sometimes 
wonder if all our modern passive entertainment brings as 

much real pleasure as we found in creating our own 


Harold L. Donkle 

1 was raised in Plymouth in the early years of the 
century. When Old Settlers' Day, a local celebration, came 
around, we kids could hardly wait. 

The arrival of the Merry-Go-Round was the biggest 
thrill. First, a track was layed and the Merry-Go-Round was 
built on this. A large cable went completely around it, and 
this was attached to the source of power, an upright steam 
engine. When it was completely assembled, we kids would 
mount the horse we had picked, waiting for the steam engine 
to blow its whistle to let us know the free ride was about to 
begin. The horses rocked back and forward, not like they do 

Also, at one Old Settlers' celebration I took my girl on 
the Lovers Tub. Years later, I married her. 

One of the main attractions of the celebration was the 
balloon ascension. This took place off the public square. A 
trench was dug to make a furnace with a stove pipe to supply 
hot air for the balloon. The balloon was held upright by two 
tall poles with a rope over the top. The opening at the bottom 
was placed over the stove pipe and a fire built to supply hot 
air to fill the balloon. When it was filled, ropes hung down the 
sides and men held onto these to hold it down. 

Finally, the superman arrived on the scene dressed in 
bright red tights. He would place himself on a trapeze kind of 
thing on the parachute. At a given order, those holding the 
ropes let go and away the balloon, parachute and man went 
up into the bright blue yonder. When they were away from 
the village, he would cut the parachute loose and float down 
to earth. The balloon would turn upside down, and the hot air 
escaped letting it fall to the ground also. 

On Old Settlers' Day a few years later, a two- wing 
monoplane circled above and landed just west of the village. 
When we kids arrived at the place we noticed a tall, gawky 
feOow in flying cap and goggles standing on its side. He was 
barn storming and taking people for rides, and many went. 
Imagine our surprise, in later years, when we heard of his solo 
flight across the ocean. 


Small Burdett 

Opera Houses were the center of community 
entertainment in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Prior to 
1904, Plymouth was served by the King Opera House located 
over the King Department Store on the south side business 
district, including the King Store and Opera House. The 
buildings were replaced by a row of one story brick business 
buildings, leaving no place for an upstairs Opera House. 

Frank Noel, seeing the need for a replacement for this 
loss, constructed a Noel Palace Opera House. The name and 
year, 1906, are still inlaid in the side walk where the entrance 
was. The building was an impressive one for a town the size of 
Plymouth. It was built of concrete blocks two stories tall, 
with an extra high second story to serve the Opera House 
section. The high balcony windows gave it the appearance of 
a three story building from the front. The ground floor 
housed two stores and an eight or ten-foot-wide stairway in 
the center, leading to the Opera House on the second floor. 

The Opera House was very well designed. It included a 
balcony, at least eight rows deep, across the entire front of 
the building. Each row was elevated by means of large steps, 
similar to those in modern stadiums. Doors led from the 
landing at the top of the entrance steps to rooms across the 
front of the building under the balcony. These rooms were 
used at various times as offices and apartments. The main 
floor was a large square hardwood floor with folding theatre 

seats, complete with a wire hat holder under each seat. The 
seats were joined together in sections of six or eight so they 
could be easily removed for activities using the floor. They 
were numbered so they could be reserved when desired. 

The stage is what really added to the value of the 
structure as a theatre. It was a large stage with regulation 
foot lights, border Lights, etc., and above all a large fly loft, 
allowing scenery to be pulled up without rolling. This made 
possible the easy hanging and fast changing of special 
scenery carried by the larger road shows. The permanent or 
stock scenery consisted of a front curtain with a lake scene in 
the center, surrounded, as was the custom, with ads of local 
business firms. A few feet back was the street drop, a httle 
farther back the garden drop or Olio, and then a woods drop 
farthest back, at full stage. A reversible interior set was built 
on flats or frames, one side of a parlor set, the other side more 
rustic for cabin interiors or any plain building interior. 

Dressing rooms were partitioned off at the side of the 
stage and the stage door was in the back. It was reached by 
an outside stairway. A rail on each side of the stairs served as 
a track for a platform dolly with flange wheels, built high in 
the back to keep it level on the incline. Baggage and heavy 
properties were pulled up to the stage door on this by means 
of rope block and tackle. Without this arrangement for 
handling heavy baggage, the large seating capacity and the 
well equipped stage, it would have been impossible to play 
the shows appearing here in the "hey-day" of the old Opera 

Situated on the Burhngton Railroad with Galesburg 
and Macomb to the north and Quincy to the south, and with 
the ideal facihties for presenting a production, Plymouth 
became a regular stop for road shows, both large and small. 
The farming country was heavily populated at that time, 
made up of small farms, some as small as forty acres, so 
attendance was consistently good and Plymouth became 
known as a good show town. 

I was just two years old when the Opera House first 

opened, so of course, I don't remember the earliest 
attractions. I was no doubt in attendance, however, as my 
parents were twenty-five years of age at the time, and 
babysitters had not yet become a way of life. I can also 
remember being there when I didn't know exactly what was 
going on and being frightened by any shooting in the plays. 
And I remember a frequently recurring nightmare in my 
early childhood, dreaming of falling out of the front row of the 
balcony, always jumping awake before hitting the main floor. 

In those early years many of the better one-night stand 
plays showed in Plymouth, with good sized casts and lots of 
special scenery. After all these years, I stiU remember two 
titles. The Royal Slave and The Warning Bell, that played 
around 1911. 

There were many repertiore companies, changing plays 
each night for a week with variety specialties between the 
acts and an occasional tabloid musical. 

The minstrel shows were one of the top line attractions 
of those days. Several of the better ones, both all-black and 
all-white, played in the old Opera House, the minstrel semi- 
circle reaching aU the way across the stage. These shows 
travelled and lived in their own railroad car or cars with state 
rooms and baggage space. A uniformed band concert in front 
of the Opera House shortly after noon was a standard 

1 remember one of the larger all-black minstrel shows 
that played here a time or two was the P. G. Lowry Minstrels. 
Mr. Lowry was an exceptionally good cornet man, and during 
the summer season he had the side show band and minstrel 
performance in the Ringhng Brothers Circus for many years. 

There were several novelty attractions, too. I remember 
a glass blowing show in particular. They gave a good 
exhibition of glass blowing, both large and small pieces, and 
sold blown glass novelties. 

An occasional hypnotic show was always good 
entertainment. One that played in town when I was in the 
lower grades stayed for several days. They used a store 

window next to the Opera House to plug the show. On one 
day and night, one of their lady subjects was doing a window 
sleep, and on another, one of their male subjects was pedaling 
a bicycle in the window. 1 imagine they got out and rested 
during the wee morning hours but if they did, they 
apparently got away with it. 

The number of large road shows decreased sharply just 
prior to the first World War. This was probably due in part to 
the movies and to movie and vaudeville combinations taking 
over many of the previously available theatres in the larger 
towns. Smaller shows, however, continued to play into the 
middle 1920's. These included one or two medicine shows 
each year. 

There were many home talent shows aU down through 
the years. These were presented in the Opera House before 
other facihties were available. 

The large main floor was ideal for many 
activities— roller skating, dances, play parties, etc. It was 
also used for the early basket ball games. The north 
storeroom downstairs were converted into a movie theatre 
which was there for many years. 

Since the life of the Opera House spanned my childhood 
and youth, it always seemed to me that it had been there for 
many, many years. This was not true, of course, since it was 
completely destroyed by fire in 1935, just twenty nine years 
after its opening. A depressing pile of ashes and rubble was 
left where it had stood so proudly on the southwest corner of 
the square. Although the old Palace Opera House is gone 
forever, it is still fondly remembered by the old timers of the 


Willis Harkless* 

Among my memories are stories of Christmas parties in 
the early 1900's at the old Ellisville Opera House, where 
entire famihes came to celebrate the holiday by having a 
program in which village children participated. An enormous 
Christmas tree was laboriously hauled up the steep flight of 
steps and erected in the large hall where it stood stretching 
upward to the very high ceiUng. The tree ghttered in the 
flickering glow of forty or fifty small candles, and it is a 
wonder something didn't catch on fire. Presents were heaped 
under the tree, for every child in EUisville was remembered. 
The biggest event in most children's lives was receiving a gift 
from under that huge Christmas tree in the Old Opera House. 
The Opera House was also the scene of many theatrical 
productions, the most notable of which were put on by a 
family named Gordinier from Bushnell. They would come to 
town, usuaUy for a week's stay, and were transported by a 
team and wagon. On one occasion after remaining a week and 
presenting a number of plays, the citizens of EUisville refused 
to let them leave, begging them to stay on. The troup 
protested that they had already exhausted their repertoire, 
but the people of Ellisville insisted, and so they stayed 
another week, presenting plays with scripts in their hands. 
No one cared; they were starved for entertainment. 

On the other hand, the people of EUisviUe were pretty 
good most of the time at coming up with their own 
entertainment. I remember that, as a child, I got roped into 
being in home talent productions, much to my dismay and 
other peoples' amusement. 

Dances every Saturday night in the Old Opera House 
were memorable occasions. Local musicians, David Sheckler 
on piano, John Passent on the drums, and Scotty Morrison 
on a C-melody sax, played until the wee hours. John would 

*As told to Angelo Forneris 

cut loose on the drums and "beat the tar" out of them (long 
before Gene Krupa's solos!) 

People who hved over at EUisviUe Stations would 
trudge over, through the woods, along the banks of a smaU 
creek, carrying their shoes in their hands. Once at the Opera 
House, they would wash off their feet, put their shoes back 
on, and dance up a storm. 

ElhsviUe Station was a small cluster of houses, known 
as "The Dirty Dozen," located a short distance north of 
EUisviUe. The girls from the Stations loved to come, as they 
would try their best to get the EUisville boys to dance with 
them, causing many a squabble at the dance. 

Invariably there were a few boisterous young men 
around looking for a fight. One night some unusuaUy active 
gent threw his fist through the back door. But the Old Opera 
House wiU always be remembered as a place of wonderful 
community entertainment. 


Florence Woodworth 

I was born in Schuyler County, lUinois, and spent the 
first twelve years of my Ufe there. My parents lived on a farm 
about three miles southwest of the county seat of RushviUe. 
Living in the country, it was quite a treat to get to go to 
town. On occasion a circus or a carnival would come to 
RushviUe, and father and mother would take my sister, 
Edith, and I to enjoy the sights. 

But the one occasion that stiU remains so vividly in my 
mind was being privileged to see the play. Uncle Tom's 
Cabin. I was about five years old at the time, and I had not 
started to school yet. The play was given in a tent on a vacant 
lot in RushviUe, by a traveling summer stock company in the 
year of 1900. 

My father and mother, with my sister and I, drove to 
town in a surrey with a fringe on top, drawn by a team of 

spirited driving horses. Father was late getting his evening 
chores finished, and when we arrived at the show, there was 
standing room only. Of course, I was too small to see well, as 
we were in the back of the tent, so father hoisted me up on his 

There before my eyes was enacted the drama of Harriet 
Beecher Stowe's noted book, Topsy was played by a small 
lady, who was said to be in her sixties. Uncle Tom, the slave, 
was whipped by Simon Legree; Eliza and her baby were 
trying to escape from slavery and were being chased by real 
blood hounds. They were crossing the river on simulated 
blocks of ice. But the cUmax, to be always remembered, was 
the death of httle Eva and her ascension to heaven. A wire 
was attached to her body and she was drawn out of sight. 

In the time between then and the present, I have sat in a 
large Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles and marveled at the 
vast crowd of people there. I have also attended light opera in 
the Civic Auditorium in Los Angeles, where I saw The Firefly 
and heard the noted Rudolph Friml perform on the piano. 

Of all the entertainment I have witnessed, the httle 
play, Uncle Tom 's Cabin, still remains most fixed in my mind. 
I did not wholly understand the moral of the play at the time, 
but in later years, when studying history, I knew it involved 
the freeing of the slaves and also the cause of the great 
conflict between the North and the South. 


Marjory M. Reed 

Many people treasure their childhood memories and file 
them under various categories for future need. Some are kept 
for the warmth felt, an event of hilarity, a shared happening, 
or an outstanding occurrence. Frequently, a current activity 
will trigger a nostalgic memory, and this is removed from the 
file and rerun hke a silent movie. 

A deteriorated store building was recently demolished 
in Oquawka, the village of my childhood. A wealth of my 

yesterday memories were submerged in this faded brick 
building. It was the first grocery store, which I could 
remember, of my father's. He was C. M. Stotts, son of Emma 
and Albert Stotts. I was only five when our family returned 
from Wisconsin to open a grocery store in this town on the 
Mississippi River. 

The river brought much color to our lives. An advance 
man would place posters in Dad's store publicizing a coming 
attraction to our community, and he would leave 
comphmentary tickets for the courtesy. One such event was 
an all-day excursion boat trip. This was a gala family affair. 
With well-stocked picnic baskets and a blanket, they would 
board at the end of Schuyler Street. Walking up the 
seemingly narrow gangplank onto the boat began an exciting 
day. Every corner of that boat was explored by the children. 
The thrill of the trip was watching the huge wooden paddle 
wheel turning over, churning huge foaming waves. We stood 
at the boat's railing and watched the changing shoreline. 
When tired, we curled up in a chair and napped. We did not 
always return on schedule as sometimes the heavy laden boat 
became stuck on a sandbar in the middle of the river. It 
usually took hours to dislodge the boat and we would arrive 
home after dark, very hungry and weary. 

Mr. McOlgan operated a ferry boat from Oquawka, 
transporting vehicles and people to their destination along 
the river. A pleasant pastime was sitting on the riverbank 
and watching the ferry, with its occupants, slide away from 
the shore and slowly disappear. 

During the summer, the music of a calliope in the 
distance would summon all to the mainstreet shoreline. By 
the time the showboat steamed into view, the river bank was 
hned with villagers. It was a colorful boat, with merry 
passengers waving from the decks and the calhope playing 
loudly. We waited in anticipation as the boat was slowly 
moored and the gangplank lowered. A few costumed 
musicians disembarked, followed by a "spiel " man. With a 
carnival atmosphere, they paraded up Schuyler Street, 


trailed by dancing children and enthusiastic adults. Halting 
near Meloan's Drug store, a short concert was given, followed 
by the ballyhoo for the nightly dramas to be presented during 
the week. Such entertainment occurred only one week of a 
year and we rarely missed a performance. The excitement of 
faUing in step with other townspeople, treading cautiously up 
the gangplank, seeking an empty seat, gazing at the artistry 
of the stage curtain, and becoming entranced with the 
presentation, produced many lasting memories. 

Oquawka Beach attracted summer tourists from a large 
area. At that time, people referred to the areas north along 
the river as Oquawka Beach, North Beach, and Mill Slough; 
These were highly popular resort areas during an era of time. 
Cabins populated every corner of this area. Families from far 
off cities owned or rented cabins for the summer. Band 
concerts were routine entertainment. One attraction was a 
large dance pavilion, with an attached refreshment stand. For 
a while my parents and grandparents served chicken or fish 
dinners in a building adjacent to the dance pavilion. It was 
great fun spending my summers there with my grandparents. 
I slept on a cot in the screened dining room and was wakened 
by the hilarity blasting from the cabin. During the day, I 
would help with some light chores and become a part of the 
constant commotion. I waded barefoot through the hot sand, 
following a trail down to the two beach houses, then down the 
wood steps to the beach proper. Boards, fastened to cables, 
formed a boundary for non-swimmers, and I never ventured 
outside of the boards and I was afraid of them. Most of the 
trees in the area were locust and are remembered for their 
thorns and highly scented flowers. Many times I made 
garlands of these blossoms and adorned myself. Sometimes 
my barefeet contacted the ever-present sandburrs and, unless 
easily removed, would send me hobbling for help. 

Small circuses came to Oquawka, setting up their tents 
in open fields in the north part of town. At a set time all their 
performers and animals paraded down Schuyler Street. 
Seeing animals foreign to our soil attracted the villagers. The 

glittering costumes, agile performers, and flashy circus 
wagons drew the spectators to the big tent. 

In those days, small town merchants sponsored 
gatherings for their community. My most unforgetable 
experience was near Thanksgiving. Chickens, ducks, geese, 
and a turkey were dropped from the roof of our store 
building. Citizens clutched, pushed, shoved, fell and chased 
until each bird was captured. I was perched above watching 
this exciting affair. Then, the prize of the afternoon was 
brought forward. A greased pig was released in front of a line 
of determined participants. Scrambling madly, the pursuers 
fought hard to subdue and hold that shppery pig, but without 
luck. The chase went for two blocks, in and out of the crowd 
and buildings, the pig evading each grasp. At the river's 
edge, the pig was cornered, terrified of the screaming, 
grabbing mob. So, it ventured onto the river's ice. The ice was 
not thick enough to hold even a shoat. The remorseful 
pursuers tried to save the animal, but it was lost to the river. 

Near Christmas dad placed a large decorated tree at the 
front of the store. Later, Santa appeared for the evening and 
presented treats to the children of the community. 
Sometimes the families were served an oyster stew supper. 
There was always merriment and celebrations. 

During the winter, men of the community spent time 
cutting ice from the river. Light trucks drove onto the ice and 
were loaded with huge rectangles of ice. The town's ice house 
was across the alley from our store. It was an immense barn- 
like building, covered with dulled tin and piled high inside 
with sawdust. The ice was sent down a trough ramp, placed 
between the truck and the ice house door. A man, on each side 
of the door, would catch hold of the cake with tongs and drag 
it into the storage place, to be covered with sawdust. 
Watching this procedure, we greatly anticipated next 
summer's enjoyment, the cool aroma, chips of ice melting in 
our mouths and wading barefoot in the cool damp sawdust. 

Memories of yesteryear flood us at times. We need them 

for our refreshment— the forgotten thrill, the known 
affection, the reminding experience. 


Florence Ourth 

I will never forget the first time I came to Nauvoo. It 
was in June of 1921. Our family had been invited to spend a 
two weeks vacation with our aunt and uncle, John and Ida 
Layton, who were caretakers and guides at the Joseph Smith 
homes. We were Uving in Independence, Missouri, at the 
time. We children were so excited riding the Santa Fe train to 
Fort Madison, Iowa. From there we were to take a steamboat 
down the Mississippi to Nauvoo. 

Excitedly we watched as the boat, the Keokuk, came 
down the river from Burhngton. It was a beautiful sight as it 
glided along, its white paint gleaming in the sunshine, the 
gang plank drawn up in front, the pilot house looking hke a 
summer pavilion with its lace-like fihgree between two 
funnels that belched out black smoke. 

Once on board, we walked to the back of the boat so we 
could watch the paddle-wheel. I remember the beautiful little 
rainbows that appeared as the sun shone on the water that 
dripped from the paddles as the big wheel churned the water 
that left a wake behind us. 

Then we went to the front of the boat to stand by the 
rail with the wind in our faces, looking at the scenery on 
either shore. We could also see where many islands had once 
been because of the dead trees, bleached a whitish-gray by 
the sun, standing in water that had been backed up from the 
dam built near Keokuk in 1912. 

All too soon there were two long and three short blasts 
from the boat whistle. "She's blowing for a landing," said a 
man who seemed to realize that this was our first river-boat 
ride. Soon she was tied up to big iron rings embedded in 
cement on the river bank. As we walked down the gang plank. 

up the bank, and down the two blocks of dirt road to the 
Joseph Smith Mansion House, where we would be staying, it 
seemed like we were stepping back into history. 

It had been in 1918 that Uncle John and Aunt Ida 
Layton had been sent by the Reorganized Church of Jesus 
Christ from Independence, Missouri, to restore the Mansion 
House, the log cabin homestead, and the Nauvoo House that 
had been started as a hotel back in the 1840's. No one had 
hved in them for some time, and they had become very 
dilapidated. But every once in a while, some one would come 
to see where Joseph Smith had once hved. Soon the place 
took on a new appearance, and the Laytons were in a better 
position to receive and guide visitors. 

At that time, there were many old Mormon houses that 
are gone now. They were not being lived in, some with doors 
ajar. 1 remember how my sister, Mildred, my brother Jack 
and I walked down the grassy lanes that had once been well- 
worn streets, and wandered through the empty houses, 
wondering what it was like in Joseph Smith's time when the 
city had a population of about twelve thousand. 

But it was the river that fascinated us. We had 
originally lived in the east and had spent summers on the 
coast of Maine and at Cape Cod, and when we moved to the 
middle west, it was the water we had missed most of all. So 
every afternoon we went swimming with other young people 
of the community, in front of the Nauvoo House. It was all 
open water then; now it has filled in. My father rented a boat 
from some fishermen. George and Louis Kachle. He tied it to 
a big stump on the bank with a long rope, and we spent hours 
rowing out as far as the rope would let us and then back 
again. In the evenings my father and mother would take us 
rowing in the moonhght. We would go past the old stone 
house of Captain James White, who had been the first settler 
here, coming in 1832. The water from the dam had backed up 
into the house, and it would make ghostly sloshing noises and 

It had been such a wonderful vacation, and in that two 
weeks we had fallen in love with Nauvoo, We came the next 
summer and spent a month camping in the big Nauvoo 
House, which is close to the river. I remember how peaceful it 
was to go to sleep at night hearing the water lap against the 
shore. Then the next year, 1923, we came to hve. 

Again we took the steamer, the Keokuk, from Fort 
Madison to Nauvoo. It happened to be the same day that 
Nauvoo High School students were returning from 
Burlington on an excursion they had taken for their school 
picnic. My cousin, Esther Irene Layton, was their English 
teacher and she introduced us to all these happy, friendly, 
young people, who would be our classmates in the faU. I could 
not help noticing one tall young man with black, curly hair 
who seemed to be very popular. His name was Arnold Ourth. 
Little did I dream that six years later he would become my 

Another event that I will never forget, happened in 
1928, when Frederick M. Smith, the grandson of Joseph 
Smith, decided that the time had come to find the bodies of 
Joseph and his brother Hyrum. They had been secretly 
buried in 1844 after their assassination by an angry mob at 
Carthage. W. O. Hands, a civil engineer, had been sent from 
Kansas City to superintend the project. My father had been 
among those who had helped with the work. Soon deep 
trenches criss-crossed the area designated for the search, but 
no trace of the bodies could be found. 

Sixteen years before, Joseph Smith III and Alexander, 
then the only hving sons of Joseph Smith, Jr., were in 
Nauvoo with their eldest sons, one of whom was Frederick M. 
Smith. They were told that someday they might need to look 
for the bodies. When that time came, they were told to look 
for the old spring house, and the bodies would be lying in the 
northwest corner under the floor. But all evidence of any 
springhouse had disappeared. It was January and the 
weather was turning cold. Some of the workmen were 
suggesting that the search be given up as not worth further 

effort. The dam at Keokuk had raised the water, and there 
was an uneasy feeling that possibly water covered their 

But W. O. Hands was a man of great faith. I remember 
he asked the members of our congregation to spend Sunday 
in fasting and prayer. Even the children responded to this 
request. These prayers were answered in a wonderful way. He 
said that in the small hours of Monday he was awake, and 
with an earnest prayer for direction, he went out to where 
they had been digging. No vision was seen, no voice was 
heard, but with what he felt was a divinely directed gesture, 
he swept the hght across a spot not yet opened and said, "We 
will explore this today." 

Later that morning as the men began to dig at the place 
selected, they soon uncovered four sides of a brick 
foundation. Trenches had previously been dug on all four 
sides, but this had been missed. About four feet below the 
surface, they came upon and uncovered a skull easily 
recogizable as that of Hyrum by the bullet hole under the 
right eye and through the top of the skull. The remains of 
Joseph were just south of Hyrum. When the sands and gravel 
were cleaned away, they found every bone of their bodies 
except about four inches of Joseph's right arm which 
evidently had been shattered by a bullet and decomposed. 

When I came home from teaching school that evening, 
my father sent me down to see the bodies, saying, "This is 
history." I will always remember the feehng of sadness that 
came over me as I looked at the bodies of Joseph, Hyrum, and 
Emma, Joseph's wife, whose body had been taken up so that 
she might lie beside her husband. 

It was that same year that my husband-to-be, Arnold 
Ourth, bought and restored one of the Old Mormon houses. It 
had belonged to a man named William Marks in the 1840's. It 
was just two blocks west of the Mansion House, where 
Joseph and Emma had lived, a block from the cemetery 
where they were buried, and next door on the west was where 
Hyrum had hved. The big stone that covered the well he had 

dug beside the road was still there. But best of all, it was near 
the river that 1 loved, only a half block from the boat landing. 
This is where 1 was carried over the threshold the night I was 
married in June of 1929. 

But that year, the Keokuk, the boat on which we had 
first met, stopped running. No longer were there enough 
passengers and cargo for it to be profitable. For us, 
something important was gone from the river. 


Mary H. Siegfried 

To be able to remember the events of World War I 
brands one as an old-timer. Those of us whose high school 
years covered the period 1914-1918 were witnesses to this 
great conflict, as reflected in our home towns. We had been 
told by our history and geography teachers that there 
wouldn't be any major wars among the great world powers in 
the future. People were too civilized, and wars would be 
fought only by small, less civiUzed countries. All kinds of 
treaties and pacts were being made by the "Big-shot" 
diplomats, and we thought these would bring peace, not war. 
Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy, the Central Powers, 
formed the Triple Alliance, and England, France and Russia 
were the Triple Entente. 

Here in peaceful America, we were shocked in August, 
1914, when the newspapers carried large headUnes about the 
war, telling of horrible atrocities committed by German 
soldiers on Belgian children. Most of these stories were 
grossly exaggerated, and some proved to be absolutely false, 
but the purpose, to get America into the conflicts, was finally 
accomplished. England went to the aid of France. There were 
no radio or television in those days. All news came by cable or 
telegraph to the newspapers, where it reached the people. 

At first, most of the American people were opposed to 
getting into the war. Many Americans were of German 

descent and had relatives Uving in Germany, and many 
others were opposed to getting into a war that was not our 
own making. In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson ran for re- 
election on the campaign slogan, "He kept us out of war," 
and he won the election to his second term. 

By the spring of 1917 antagonism mounted, until on 
April 6, 1917, war was openly declared against the Central 
Powers, and the United States was definitely a part of the 

Mobilization began immediately, and there was no area 
that was left untouched in the total commitment to service. 
The draft was nationwide for all men from twenty-one to 
thirty-five years old. To finance the great conflict, bonds were 
issued by the government called Liberty Bonds, and patriotic 
meetings were held in all communities to encourage the sales. 

AU civilians were given some service to do for their 
country. To provide an adequate food supply, war gardens 
were planted, vacant lots were plowed up and small patches 
along roadsides and railway right-of-ways. Instructions for 
raising and canning fruits and vegetables were issued by the 
Home Bureau and the makers of canning jars. The slogan 
Pressure canners for home canning came into use, but most 
of the canning was done by open kettle for tomatoes and acid 
fruits and by the water bath for non-acid vegetables. Peas 
and sweet corn were boiled for three hours in the water bath 
and green beans for two hours before they were deemed safe 
for winter storage. I helped my mother can over 700 quarts 
that summer, besides drying some apples and sweet corn. 

Food prices began to rise rapidly, as well as the cost of 
fuel and other commodities. Rationing was begun on many 
staple foods. The one that affected us young people the most 
was the rationing of sugar to two pounds a month per person. 

My senior year at Carthage High School began in 
September, 1917, when everything to promote the war effort 
was getting underway. We were asked to memorize the words 

of "America" and "The Star Spangled Banner" so we could 
sing them at outdoor rallies. 

Red Cross Chapters were organized in all the small 
towns. The members sewed hospital garments and made 
surgical dressings for army hospitals. Knitted articles, such 
as mufflers, sleeveless sweaters, helmets, wristlets, and 
socks, were made for the soldiers in action. The high school 
girls were enhsted in the knitting projects. Since knitting had 
been out of style for many years, few girls knew how. Our 
teachers, Ida Helfrich and Josephine Simmons, held sessions 
after school, teaching us to knit. Our first accomplishments 
were two afghans, knit in square blocks from yarn remants 
we brought from home. They were used for wheel-chair 
patients in war hospitals. Then we made mufflers, sleeveless 
sweaters, helmets, wristlets, and socks from gray yarn 
furnished by the local Red Cross. The socks were the most 
complicated, and not all girls learned the art of "turning a 

During the summer and fall of 1917 contingents of 
draftees were sent every few weeks to Camp Dodge, Iowa, or 
some other camp, for basic training. They marched in a body 
down Main Street in Carthage to the railroad station, 
preceeded by the flag and accompanied by a marching band. 
Many citizens followed along on the sidewalks to wish them 

Service flags began to appear in the windows of homes 
of service men. These had a white field surrounded by a red 
border, and a blue star was placed on the white field for every 
member in service. When a soldier gave his life for his 
country, the blue star was replaced by a gold star. Service 
flags were also hung on the waUs of churches, with a star for 
each member in service. 

Anti-German sentiment began to increase, and churches 
in German communities who still held their services in their 
mother-tongue were pressured into changing to English. Two 
churches in the Carthage area, Zion's Kirche, whose church 
building is now the VFW hall, and Immanuel Lutheran 

Church south of Carthage, which is still a strong 
congregation, were pressured into holding services in 
EngUsh. Several High Schools and Carthage College had 
courses in German, which they finally were forced to 
discontinue. As college credit would not be given for only one 
year of a language, five of us senior girls began our second 
year in order to receive college credit. In the spring of 1918 
the students arrived one morning to find that the German 
books had disappeared during the night. We felt this was a 
useless demonstration of pseudo-patriotism. The 
superintendent visited our class that day, and said that there 
was so much feehng against teaching German that we would 
have to drop the course. "As all of you are making passing 
grades, you will receive your credit," he said. The coUege was 
forced to drop all German courses. They were restored again 
in 1920. 

In the fall of 1918 I entered Carthage College as a 
freshman. Here everything was geared to help the War effort. 
A branch of service known as the student army training 
corps was stationed on the campus, and a building to house 
the men, called The Barracks, was built, which remained on 
the campus many years. The members were enlisted men and 
wore the olive-drab uniforms of World War I. Training 
periods were alternated with college classes. 

During the fall of that year, talk of peace began to 
circulate, and conferences began between the European 
powers to consider treaty terms. We thought little about it 
until suddenly on November 1 1 the word was spread that the 
armistice had been signed and "The War to End All Wars" 
was over. 

The whole town of Carthage went wild that day, and 
that afternoon a large impromptu parade was organized. The 
streets were filled with people walking round and round the 
square, singing patriotic songs, and the bands played until 

The joy of the war's ending was suddenly overshadowed 
by the flu epidemic that hit Hancock County in full force. 

Schools and public meetings were closed for many weeks. 
There was a great deal of panic as the death rate was rather 
high throughout America. The epidemic died down with the 
arrival of Spring. The season was gratefully welcomed. 
Carthage, and the nation, looked forward to a lasting peace. 


Beulah Jean McMillian 

My father, Reverend Albert G. Parker, moved to the 
Camp Creek Church near Macomb on December 20, 1917. 
Our family of eleven was reduced to Mother, Elliott, a junior 
in high school, Neil in the seventh grade, and I in the sixth 
grade. My father started me keeping a diary on September 1, 
1918, from which the facts have been gathered for this 

Monday, November 11, 1918: As I was sleeping 
peacefully this morning, I was awakened by father and 
mother asking if I heard the whistles blowing. Of course, I 
could not help but hear them, although we were six miles 
away. While we were listening, someone on the party hne 
called Central. When Central answered the person asked, "Is 
the war over?" Central said, "Yes." Elliott was listening and 
heard several of the telephone receivers click, which meant 
that other people had listened. He started on a run up the 
stairs, yelling at the top of his voice, "Whoopeeeeee." The 
whistles were making so much noise that we were awake 
nearly an hour listening to them. During that time we heard 
several guns go off. We also heard our rooster crow for the 
first time. Other roosters in the neighborhood were making as 
much noise as they could. 

We washed the clothes, and in the afternoon we got 
ready and went to town to see what people were doing to 
celebrate. We had to park the Ford on a side street, like the 
rest of the people. We then walked around the Square 
listening to people blow their whistles. Boys were riding 

bicycles to which were attached tin cans, buckets, and any 
other tin they could get a hold of— anything that would make 
a noise. Some of the people with whom we talked said that 
that kind of din had been going on since 2:30 a.m. 

At 3:00 p.m. they had a kind of parade in which anyone 
could join in. Elliott ran across a bunch of High School boys 
whom he knew, and joined in the parade, being among the 
first ones. 

Almost every house in town had one to ten flags 
decorating it. After Father, Mother, and I had watched the 
parade for awhile and walked around the square, we started 
up Jackson Street. Meeting Ruth Binnie and her mother and 
Mrs. Campbell, we went back to Mrs. Campbell's and visited 
until about 4:30. Elliott came at about that time. As the sun 
was setting low we started for home. 

There was to be a Big Parade at 7:00 p.m. to bury the 
Kaiser. I suppose there must have been a great noise in 
Macomb, although we could hear only the whistles. It was 
quite an exciting day, and it was a happy one. 


Keith L. Wilkey 

The care-free days between the close of World War I and 
the Great Depression of the 1930's fill my reverie with the 
most pleasant thoughts and memories of my life in Paloma. 
The lazy summer afternoons, when I played with my chums 
around my father's general store, the village grain elevator, 
the lumber yard situated on the north side of the Burlington 
Railroad siding track, and the stock yard, with its bawling 
cattle and grunting hogs, were the most pleasant of aU my 

Our general store during the 1920's was the hub of 
community hfe. Virtually everyone came to the store— the 
rich, the poor, the middle-class, the downtrodden, the 

youngsters, and those who were walking feebly in the 
twilight of life. 

Though the average family was much less dependent 
upon food items that were "store bought" than they were 
upon their cellar, orchard, and pantry, there was something 
about going to the store that was difficult to resist. The store 
was an exchange center— a clearing house for neighborhood 
news. "I heard it at the store" preceded and ended many a 
conversation during the halycon years of the drowsy 1920's. 

Radios, with their morning-glory-type loud speakers 
and three dial station selectors, were the prerogative of the 
well-to-do. To be invited to the home of the banker or a retired 
farmer, who had an Atwater Kent Superhetrodyne, and to 
spend the evening listening to the Goodyear Silvertown 
Orchestra or Coon Sanders and the Nighthawks, from 
WDAF Kansas City, was to have a very pleasant time. 

The inauguration of President Calvin Coolidge, on 
March 4, 1925, was the first time that an important occasion 
was broadcast nationwide. The seventh and eighth grade 
pupils, by previous arrangement with the teacher, went to 
the home of the mail carrier, who possessed one of the better 
receiving sets, and were instructed to listen carefully and 
report back to school the next day. In memory 1 can still hear 
the 30th president begin his oration in his northeastern nasal 
twang: "My Countrymen . , ," 

The Twenties was the heyday of the Model T Ford. 
During that 10-year period, more than fifteen million of these 
versatile conveyences were on the American roads and 
streets. The "T" was the badge of the middle-class. Those 
families "with money" rode in Hupmobiles, Paiges, Pierce- 
Arrows, and of course, Packards and Cadillacs. But the 
Model T was the farmer's friend and was identified with most 
small towners. 

The term "used car" lay ahead in the future. If the 
citizen of the 1920's couldn't afford to spend the $500 for a 
new car, some village entrepreneur found him a "second- 
handed" one. 

The more mechanically inclined men had their Ford 
tuned up so it would start with a small tug on the choke wire 
and a quarter turn of the crank. Tools required were a pair of 
pUars, a screwdriver and a monkey wrench. 

Life and death were matters of community concern. 
Most babies were born in the home and most deaths occurred 
in the family bedroom. A black wreath or satin bow was 
attached to the front door of the house where the Rider On 
the Pale Horse had made his visit. Two neighbors "sat up 
with the corpse" all night, and most funerals were conducted 
in the front room, later moving to the church. 

When a member of the family fell iU to a communicable 
disease, the local constabulary tacked a quarantine sign on 
the house, and no one could enter or leave until the period was 
up, usually 14 days. 

History has dubbed the nostalgic interlude between the 
Great War and the Great Depression "The Roaring 
Twenties." To some, perhaps it was. To others, the end of the 
1920's was the lull before the storm; to yet others it was the 
time of "Coolidge Prosperity." But to a sub-teen-age, small- 
town boy, those were the innocent years, a time of life when 
such words as "frustration" and "tension" had yet to be 

It was a time when interests were in the president's 
fishing expeditions. Jack Dempsey and Billy Sunday, 
Lindbergh and Babe Ruth. It was a time of dusty country 
roads and windmill fans whirling in the morning sun. It was a 
time of plug tobacco and five cent soda pop. It was also a 
happy, carefree and most pleasant era, which will always 
live in the memory of those who knew it. 


Stella Hatchings 

The town of Glasgow was laid out in 1836 by Ashford 
Smith, and a second addition was developed in 1837 by David 


Rankin, Moses, Rueben, and Elisha Wetmore. The surveying 
and platting was done by Seneca McEvers. 

In the following years settlers came from New York, 
Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. People with 
the family name Adams, Blair, Cumby, Haney, Gauges, 
Wilson, Young, Leitze, McGleasson, Smith, Sherwin, 
Killebrew, Farington, and Coats became Glasgow folks. The 
town grew rapidly. Very soon a school was established. In 
1856 the Baptist church was founded, and the Christian 
Church came in 1872. Several small industries thrived. There 
were three general stores and a hat store. Two blacksmith 
shops were busy. There was plenty of water and timber. The 
location was high above the lakes and swamp area along the 
Ilhnois River. It was hoped that the railroad, soon to be built, 
would pass through Glasgow, just west of the town. It 
seemed that Glasgow might grow into a fair sized city. 

Then in the early nineteen hundreds the growth 
stopped. The railroad bypassed our town. It was decided that 
Big Sandy was too small for river barges. Without 
transportation the small factories could not complete with 
those of larger places. 

A few families moved away, but most felt that they 
could adjust to living in a small community where everyone 
knew his neighbors. Those early settlers had put down roots. 
They were content to live and farm in a small, inland town. 
They learned to develop their talents for a good social life in 
the place where they had grown up. 

In 1893 Mr. U. S. Collins came to Glasgow to teach 
school. He was a very talented man, and he recognized much 
musical ability in the community and set about to develop it. 
Soon Glasgow had a brass band, a part of the Collin's 
Comedy Company Band; members who played included 
Byron McEvers, Charles Wilson, Beal Cotter, Warren 
Hanback, Albert Hanback, William Handback, Max Smith, 
Joe Leitze, and perhaps John Leitze. Band men wore 
uniforms and hats with plumes. They had a high wagon 
drawn by four dapple gray horses, also wearing plumes. The 

band members rode in the wagon and carried their 
instruments. Mr. Joe Smith cared for the horses and band 
wagon. He drove a pair of black horses hitched to a buggy to 
lead aU the parades. The band practiced on Sunday 
afternoons for the many concerts and affairs at which they 

For many years Glasgow was noted for the home-talent 
plays they gave in the hall above the McEvers General store. 
Later this became the Cumby store and hall. In 1912 a play. 
Bound by an Oath, was given by the following cast: William 
Killebrew, J. P. Ward, Earl Veach, P. E. Smithson; Lee 
Leitze, Ola Fundel, Lola Coats, Mrs. Lee Leitze, Anna Leitze 
Overton, Byron McEvers, and William Cumby. The 
admission was twenty-five cents and the proceeds went to 
the Christian Sunday School. 

In 1924 a play, Prairie Rose, was directed by Max 
Smith, with the cast being Audry Howard, Mrs. George 
Leitze, Madlyn McEvers, Mrs. Ed Cumby, Everett 
McGlasson, Millard McGlasson, Claude Haney, George 
Leitze, Carl Vestal, John Ward, and Dale Blair. 

Stella Fox directed The Iron Hand for the benefit of the 
Baptist Church. This cast included Claude and Edith 
Sherwin, Gladys, Hettie, and Veta Hanback, Estel Cowper, 
Carl Vestal, Martha Cunningham, and J. P. Ward. 

When the play The Shepperd of the Hills was given, all 
the scenery was painted by Mrs. Leo Savage, who had a great 
talent but no formal training. 

For many years, at least one home talent play was given 
each winter. It was performed first in Glasgow, and then 
taken to neighboring villages, and it was always well 

Almost every farmer planted a patch of cane each 
spring and hauled it to Frankie Barrow's sorghum mill in 
early fall to be made into sorghum. Each family needed at 
least one barrel of sorghum for table use during the winter 
and for the many "taffy pull" parties they would be hosting 
during the cold months. 

Square dancing was a popular form of entertainment in 
those years. Three brothers, Charles, Jack, and Jim Clanton, 
furnished the vioUn music and did the calling for dances held 
in the pubUc hall almost weekly. 

Some parents did not approve of dancing, but did allow 
their children to attend "play parties" in homes, if they were 
invited. Most play party games were exactly hke dances 
except that there was no music and no caller. Instead, the 
players sang the directions. How I did love those old 
fashioned play parties! 

Most Glasgow men belonged to either the Red Men's 
Brotherhood or the Modern Wood Men of America. Each 
summer the Red Men held a money-making "pow-wow." This 
lasted three days and was much hke a carnival. It was held in 
the public square, which was also the school yard. There was 
always a Merry-Go-Round, refreshment stands, and free 
entertainment. People came from far and near for the pow- 
wow. I remember well the first one I attended. My sister and 
I went with our neighbors. Dad gave us each a dollar for our 
lunch, and we could use the change in any way we chose. We 
felt rich! We decided to waste none on sandwiches. Gladys 
bought as many rides on the Merry-Go-Round as her dollar 
would pay for. 1 spent all of mine for ice cream cones! I was 
never more frightened in my life than when a group of men 
dressed as Indians galloped in with a prisoner, tied him to a 
stake, and set fire to a circle of straw about him. Not until he 
had been rescued by white riders and the Indians had fled did 
I realize that it was just an act! This "burning at the stake" 
was always part of every pow-wow, but I never did enjoy 
watching it. 

As far back as 1873 Glasgow and other towns in Scott 
County had a burgoo picnic. Burgoo is a mixture of many 
vegetables and meats cooked together in a huge iron kettle 
over an open fire. In the early years men went squirrel 
hunting for part of the meat. Beef, pork, and many chickens 
also went into the soup kettle. In the afternoon most of the 
towns people were there in the school yard at work dressing 

the squirrels and chickens, shucking big piles of corn, and 
peeUng potatoes, onions, and carrots. Cabbage, tomatoes, 
and navy beans were also put in. The Allen family supervised 
and added the secret seasonings supposed to have come from 

The burgoo was cooked all night, with men stirring 
constantly with big wooden paddles. When morning came the 
aroma of that thick, delicious soup called everyone to the 
park. The entire community had dinner at the tables set up 
for them. Many visitors came. The celebration lasted all day 
and until all the soup had been eaten. 

In recent years the Burgoo Homecoming has been held 
on the Saturday before Labor Day. Many folks from other 
towns and other states plan their vacations so as to be in 
their home town of Glasgow on this date. Doesn't this prove 
that those early settlers really did put down roots? 


Kermit F. Oliver 

I was born between Marietta and Leaman, Illinois in 
Fulton County. Marieta is still in existence on Illinois State 
Route 95, but there is nothing left of old Leaman except a 
coal dump, some old wells and cisterns, and a few piles of 
large sandrocks covered with moss and vines. 

These sandrocks had been quarried out of the sides of 
the hills and were to be made into grindstones and 
whetstones at the factory. The whetstones were boxed and 
sent all over the world. Some of the large stones were squared 
with special hand tools and hauled on wagons or loaded on 
cars of the T. P. & W. Railroad, which had a short spur 
alongside the factory. These square and rectangular stones 
can still be found as bridge abutments, building foundations, 
and walls in many parts of the country. When the railroads 
were built these stones were used (and in most cases are still 
in place) in abutments and foundations for the many bridges. 

These stones are still piled here and there, as the factory shut 
down because cement, a new product, was more efficient, and 
a sandstone in Ohio was found to be free of iron specks, 
making better grindstones and whetstones than Leaman's 
stones. Also, emery stone was invented, which was superior 
in grinding and sharpening to the sandstone. 

This factory also made different kinds of tiles from clay 
dug from the hills around there. I never knew if the bricks 
used in building the large flue for the kilns were made there or 
from another source. 

When the neighbor boys, my brothers, and I might 
happen along by there at dusk (between 1911 and 1916), it 
was a very exhilarating feeling to watch the hundreds of 
chimney swallows (or sweeps) swarming like bees around and 
around the top of the old flue. When it was almost too dark to 
see them, they would gather in what looked like the tail of a 
tornado and were seemingly drawn or sucked down inside to 
rest for the night. Many times we went to the base and looked 
up inside to see the hundreds of mudhke nests stuck to the 
inside of the flue. There were several inches of fallen nests at our 
feet, having accumulated since abandonment of the factory 
several years back. We were very cautious while exploring 
the old caved-in coalmines (we called them banks), the 
remains of the old homes, and the old store, hotel, post office, 
and various piles of stones, as many rattlesnakes had been 
seen and killed around there. I haven't heard of any having 
been seen or killed for years, but perhaps it's because of the 
briars, vines, and thicket growth of many years. No one 
ventures into it except in the fall of the year to hunt deer after 
the snakes have hibernated. There were no deer then, but lots 
of quail and rabbits. The hoot owls, foxes, hawks, and other 
predators have nearly extinguished them. The state stocked 
the deer a few years back, and then coyotes moved in. 

In earlier days there was a road (a wagon road, as cars 
were unknown then) winding south past the Marietta T. P. & 
W. depot toward Table Grove. It branched off here and there. 
One branch went west through the Point Pleasant 

neighborhood, where the neat white church and cemetery are 
still used today. 

There was a stockyard with lots of partitions and 
loading chute, along with a narrow gauge set of rails from the 
T. P. & W. to the two derricks. The quarried stones were 
hauled on small cars on this track to be loaded on flat cars 
and shipped after being shaped with hand tools. There was a 
gasoline engine in a shed with a large cooling tank. I was too 
young to understand how the engine worked in relation to the 
quarry, but it, the derricks, and rail tracks were there after 
the quarry shut down. 

My father also had an ice house alongside the railroad 
side track, too. I was quite young, perhaps four or five years 
of age, when it was in use, and so I don't know if he had the 
ice shipped in by rail or just where he did get it from, but 1 
can remember being in the sawdust in the summer when he 
was taking ice out. It was hot outside, but in the sawdust it 
was so cool on my bare feet. 

There was a wagon road going east from the depot along 
the railroad tracks. It crossed the creek (Humphrey's Run) by 
fording it twice before it came to Leaman, one mile East of the 
Marietta depot, and crossed the railroad twice before it came 
to Coal Cut, one mile East of Leaman— once just after fording 
the creek the second time and again right near the old store 
and factory at Leaman. Except for about sixty rods near Coal 
Cut, the road has been closed many years, and no signs that a 
road had ever been along there exists today. As a matter of 
fact, the creek has cut into the right-of-way in at least five 
places, and in some places it flows alongside and right 
against the railroad tracks where the road used to be. 

Sometimes the creek gets out of its banks and washes 
the railroad tracks out. My father showed us where a train 
engine ran off washed-out tracks and was buried in the 
Barker's Creek. This is the creek that Humphrey's Run 
empties into, just a few yards above where the engine buried 
itself in the soft mud, sand, and slit. At that time, there 
wasn't equipment to get it out. 

Coal Cut is just a name given to a cut through a narrow 
ridge that was made to build the railroad through. It had a 
vein of coal all the way along where the track was laid. It has 
been said, and I'm pretty sure it's true, that a stagecoach 
road was on the ridge, and there are still signs of where it 
came down the hill just north of where the cut was made. 
Also, the same road was used to haul grain, coal, food, and 
other products to towns, mills, and farms. There are a few 
signs of the old lime kilns on the farm just to the south of the 
cut. My father used to tell of how some of his mother's folk 
(the Melvins) dug the lime rock out along Barker's Creek and 
burnt it in kilns; then when it was slacked, it was loaded on 
wagons and hauled to Bushnell. If a rain came up whOe on the 
road, the lime had to be protected from the rain, because if it 
got wet, it would heat and burn the wagon. The stagecoach 
road ran south and east past the hme kilns, following the 
ridge to the Spoon River, and crossed it in the Zoleman Riffle 
and on south toward Bernadotte. 

There was a township road that branched off the one 
along the railroad, right at the west end of the Coal Cut. It 
wound south across Barker's Creek (with no bridge) to a 
settlement called Buckwheat, then west connecting with the 
road south of Marietta toward Table Grove. These roads were 
on Rural Route 2 out of Marietta for years. The road ran 
along the T. P. & W. easterly to Seville (another almost 
forgotten town) and on to Smithfield. There was a small 
platform frame of heavy timber filled with sand and fine 
cinders to step on from railroad coaches at a flag stop just a 
few yards east of Coal Cut. To the south of this was a group 
of large and medium size cabins, called Camp Griffith, named 
after Doctor Griffith of Bushnell. It had a Delco electric 
system, the first I had ever seen. 

There had been no sign of any habitation there the last 
fifty-five years. This was on Spoon River; and a few rods 
south, there was a log shack built under an over-hanging 
sandrock. It was rumored that it might have been part of the 

Underground Railroad. It is all gone, and silt and soil have 
filled in where it once was. 


Ida C. Jackson 

I will endeavor to chronicle Fountain Green in the days 
of its youth, as related by my grandmother Leach many years 

The focal point of the village in those early days was the 
general store and post office, named The Arcade, where the 
men folks gathered nightly to listen to the proprietor, Mr. C. 
C. Tyler, and my grandfather read the news of the world from 
the one and only copy of the daily newspaper which the 
village boasted. 

Whenever a wagon load of merchandise, shipped by 
boat from St. Louis to Warsaw, arrived in town, The Arcade 
was the gathering place for the women and girls of the 
neighborhood, who feasted their eyes on the exquisite pieces 
of china and glassware, the bolts of cloth from which all 
articles of clothing for the entire family were fashioned, as 
well as a few priceless books and still fewer "ready made" 
articles of clothing. In addition to tlje above mentioned items, 
staples groceries of all kinds, almost everything in the 
hardware line, small farm and garden tools, kerosene for the 
lamps, repairs for the horses' harness, and other items could 
be found at The Arcade. 

A prey to the ravages of time, this fine old building has 
been gone for many years, and while it still lives in the 
memory of some of us who have been here for three score 
years and more, the younger generations have no idea that it 
ever existed. 

According to Grandmother the nearest the Civil War 
came to Fountain Green was one summer night when a band 
of southern raiders ventured into this territory seeking any 


supplies that they could pillage. Having heard that threshing 
operations were in progress on a farm a few miles from, town, 
they stopped there and "made off" with some fifteen or 
twenty horses being used for the threshing. Fortunately, one 
of the boys on the farm managed to sneak into the barn and 
escape with a horse which he rode into Fountain Green to 
warn the villagers that the raiders were coming. 
Grandmother recaUed having hidden their valuables, such as 
silverware and important papers, in the unused brick oven. 
However, the raiders apparently became suspicious that the 
townspeople had been warned and so they took their loot and 
headed back toward the South. 

Such are a few of her reminiscences of Fountain Green, a 
town which derived its name, according to legend, from the 
village green and the seven natural springs or fountains 
whose waters bubbled forth from the ground. The latter 
quenched the thirst of the first settlers to arrive here and 
provided a drink for the graceful deer and other wildhfe that 
roamed the prairies in that era. 

Many more interesting stories could be written about 
this Uttle hamlet, but space does not permit. Suffice it to say, 
that so far as this writer is concerned. Fountain Green is the 
"garden spot" of the world and the closest thing to paradise 
of this earth. 

was one of the oldest in the county. I attended this school, 
and it was the only formal education 1 received. My father 
and his brothers and sisters also attended this school. We 
used to go to the settlement during recess and watch the 
workers. I recall that they used a steam engine for power, 
with wood for fuel. 


Frank C. Hersman 

Bug Tussle is not a town. It is a well known but not well 
defined neighorhood in Brown County. I do not know how it 
got its name, but 1 do know what a feller told me. He said that 
when you go fishin' there your contemplations may be rudely 
interrupted by a tussle with the bugs. 

Bug Tussle is not hard to find. It's near Buckhorn, right 
close to Honeywell, not far from Wheeler Ridge, over by 
Hersman, in the vicinity of Suratt Hollow, and down the line 
from Gilbirdsport. 

Harlan E. Moore was a native of Bug Tussle, but now 
he's dead. 1 don't know of anyone else who was from there. 


Ira J. Allen 

1 can still remember playing in the ruins of the Tyson 
Creek settlement in Appanoose Township, Hancock County, 
where previous to 1890 there were three kilns where they 
burned rock to make lime, a saw mill to saw the native 
lumber, a brick and tile factory, and a sorghum mill. This 
settlement was destroyed around 1890 by an ice gorge from 
the creek and never rebuilt. The location of this settlement 
was approximately one-half mile from Center School, which 


II Sarning c^ Living 



Any senior citizen in America today has been affected in 
some way by two important dogmas or arguments: the 
principle, so common in nineteenth-century America, that 
work never hurt anybody: and the notion that the Great 
Depression of the 1930's was an event which was 
catastrophic but which had its virtues as well as its dire 
effects. The first was culturally old and given to each child 
almost at birth. The second was learned the hard way, for the 
Depression came along just hke the seven lean years in the 
Bible, and had to be tolerated. It is altogether possible that 
the first dogma no longer hves in the cultural idiom of 
America today, and in regard to the second, to phrase it in the 
manner of the 1960's, one could not know the Depression 
unless he lived it. 

When one of our senior citizen writers states about 
working for his father's business, "I got nothing but the 
privilege of working," he is expressing part of the heritage of 
an earUer America. Indeed, it was part and parcel of the 
Industrial Revolution everywhere. Thomas Carlyle, the 
Scottish historian and essayist, laid down the parameters to 
such thinking in his Sartor Resartus. some of which was 
required reading in many college courses down to 1940. 
Work, said Carlyle, is it own excuse for being. Out of labor 
and the sense of accomplishment comes the greatest rewards. 
Ralph Waldo Emerson touched upon the same principle in 
various essays written for an American reading pubhc. 
Thomas Edison laid his own success as an inventor not to 
brilliance but to work: it was the result mostly of perspiration 
rather than inspiration. Henry Ford, not literate enough to be 
acquainted with Thomas Carlyle, expressed what were to him 
the same immutable laws. Work, said Ford, is the most 
important anodyne in hfe. It is the only activity which makes 
the painful passage of life more bearable. 

The great Depression was something else again. It took 
an American society which had been well used to the fact that 

there were other frontiers to open in hard times, and it 
revealed that for the moment these frontiers had vanished. 
There were no lands in Colorado to which one could escape; no 
great forests left uncut: no fresh deposits of gold, silver, or 
iron to be staked out for the taking. The stark facts of the 
Depression are almost impossible to believe today. In March 
of 1933, for instance. United States Steel did not have a 
single worker at the smelting forges. For the first time in 
American history, military service was more attractive than 
civilian life, and to be chosen by recruiting officers to enter 
the army or the navy was considered a remarkable 
achievement. The Great American Depression was a 
traumatic development of major magnitude, and most senior 
citizens still talk and write about it with some feeling. 

Both the acceptance of work and the hardships of the 
Depression find their ways into most of the following articles. 
A retired school teacher writes that she was also the janitor 
of her small rural school. It was not a hardship, she says, for 
she was "familiar with carrying coal, wood, and cobs and with 
taking out the ashes. ..." Other retired teachers tell about 
struggling through deep snows and floods, for as one school 
board member said, "We never have closed the school 
because of the weather!" 

There are reveahng glimpses of hfe in the hard days of 
the 1930's. Oren Dennis, running a chicken hatchery in 
Augusta, Illinois, hit upon the idea of canning chickens. With 
the help of wilhng workers, he built a local business into a 
national one. John C. Willey, one of the Depression nomads of 
the 1930's, returned to his home in Colchester to work in a 
small family coal mine nearby. Mary K. DeWitt was forced to 
quit Western Ilhnois State CoUege after one year because of 
financial problems. One of the lucky ones, she was able to find 
a teaching job in Schuyler County even though she was only 
eighteen years old. Marguerite Campbell Hill managed to 
finish college in 1931 only to find that teaching positions 
were not to be had. With luck and a great deal of common 
sense, she persuaded the Board of Education at Dallas City 


to take her on. She concludes her piece by writing: "In this 
age the assignment and the salary would seem unbelievably 
ridiculous. In that day, I was one sublimely happy and 
grateful person." Josephine Oblinger describes her teaching 
life in the 1930's and adds a piquant note by pointing out that 
many of her students carried "lard sandwiches" in their 
lunch pails. 

Shaped by the past and tempered by the Great 
Depression, these elders are a different breed. How well they 
would understand the plight of an Illinois farm wife as 
described in the Saturday Evening Post, April 17, 1937. 
Puzzled by what was happening to America as a result of the 

Depression-inspired relief programs, she wrote, " We talk 
about relief as the girl and her loving parents must have 
talked about marriage to the villain in those old days when 
the villain always held the mortgage on the old homestead." 
She concludes, "I can't help thinking, however, that many 
folks on relief aren't lazy and grasping. But won't they 
become so?. . ." 

Most of these people have never heard of Carlyle's 
Sartor Resartus, but one may be sure that virtuaOy all of 
them would find grounds for agreement. "Produce!" Carlyle 
wrote. "Were it but the pitifulest infinitesimal fraction of a 
product, produce it in God's name." 


Edward R. Lewis, Jr. 

Passing through the Spoon River Country, one might 
pause for a moment in Canton and observe a building on the 
south west corner of the square. "That looks like an old- 
fashioned drug store!," you may remark. Upon entering it 
you will find that it is not far removed from its original 
appearance in 1915, with it's high pressed-tin ceihng, 
mahogany wall fixtures with sliding glass doors and mirrored 
back, original soda fountain and back bar with its shghtly 
risque oil painting of dancing nymphs and satyrs, and three 
adjacent booths topped with leaded glass light fixtures. 

How can a pharmacy survive in this era of stainless 
steel, glass, and plastic with its ever changing style of 
operation? Possibly the answer hes in an examination of my 
formative years, which were spent in a similar drug store. 

Born in Beardstown, Illinois, in an apartment on the 
second floor above the Denton Drug Store, my first 
remembrance is of playing in the back room of that store on 
the corner of Third and State streets, where my father was 
employed as a registered pharmacist. It was a large area 
comprising about one third of the entire store, and contained 
(in addition to the prescription counter with its adjoining 
shelves containing glass-stoppered and labeled bottles) a roll- 
top desk, which was never used as a desk but as a depository 
for receipts, bills, and trade journals. The room also had 
shelves to the ceiling for storage of cans of paint. 

On either side of the prescription counter two swinging 
doors led to the front room with its high tin ceiUng and black 
and white mosiac tile floor. In the center was a large horse- 
shoe display case, and a soda fountain near the front door. 
The waUs were hned with double-decked fixtures; the top 
deck was for storage and was reached by a rolling step-ladder 
which traveled from front to back of the store in the narrow 
aisle. The front of the two-story brick buUding contained two 

large display windows which were attractively decorated 
with colored crepe paper. 

In 1926, the last of the major floods hit Beardstown, 
completely inundating the community, and it was a time of 
great excitement for aU. Basement merchandise, including 
waU paper, window glass, and fifty gallon drums of 
turpentine, linseed oil, and mineral oil. was quickly removed 
overnight by flat boats and stored on the high ground behind 
our home. This gave me real enjoyment, chmbing on the 
tables and the shelving there. The basement of the drug store 
was flooded to keep the building from floating away. A sea 
wall was constructed of sand bags around the entire half- 
block of the building which, in addition to the drug store, 
contained about five other businesses. My principal job was 
to run around the levee and chase off the river rats so the 
appearance of the area would be more inviting to the few 
customers arriving by row boat. 

During my grade-school days, I began working for my 
father who had by then purchased a half interest in the 
business. The firm became known as Denton & Lewis Drug 
Store, with Mr. Denton moving to Springfield where he 
purchased an existing drug store. My first duties were to 
sweep the floor, empty wastebaskets, and dust shelf bottles 
containing syrups, tinctures, and fluid extracts. The latter 
was most distasteful, because those bottles were nearly 
impossible to clean— and clean they had to be! My first 
question, upon learning that my father had a half interest, 
was: "Did you buy the front half or the back half? I hope it 
was the back half, because that is where I want to be." 

That back room was a fascinating place for a young boy. 
There I did my home work for school with a Benjamin air rifle 
at my side to pick off the rats as they came at night to roam 
the shelves containing the paint cans. Frequently, I was 
invited to numerous rat hunts conducted by the owners of the 
business in the building. I don't think they felt that they 
would reduce the rat population markedly, but it did prove to 
be a great sport as they chased them from one end of the 

building to the other. They used 22 calibre rifles with bird 
shot, and I used my B-B gun. My kills were often as good as 
theirs because I had studied the escape patterns of the rats, 
and knew where they would run. Later, my father bought a 
ferret, which he kept in the basement during the daytime, and 
at night it was allowed to roam the entire store. With the 
introduction of the ferret, there was a mass exodus of the rats 
from the store. 

My first clerking experiences included the fireworks and 
valentine counters. Working at the soda fountain came later, 
when I was tall enough to reach the wash basins and clean the 
glasses and dishes. Summertime proved to be the most 
difficult since I was assigned to the task of stirring the five- 
gallon tub of chocolate syrup which cooked for about one 
hour upon a gas stove. There was no air conditioning in those 
days, and it was hot! As a reward, I received a chocolate soda. 
Other soda fountain syrups were more simple to make from 
sugar, water and concentrated flavors. The day had passed 
when druggists made their own flavored syrups from fresh 
fruits. Likewise, the era of exotic soda fountain concoctions 
such as Peach Blow, Razzle Dazzle, Moxie Extract, and 
Blood Orange Nectar faded away following the turn-of-the- 

Saturday nights during the summer months were the 
busiest times for the drug store soda fountain. Scores of 
people flocked around the fountain following the Saturday 
night band concerts in the public square, and it was not 
uncommmon for the entire working force to remain on duty 
untO midnight, when the last customer had gone and the 
fountain had been thoroughly cleaned for the following day's 
business. During the week days, the soda fountain, adjacent 
cigar counter and magazine rack were the meeting places for 
the local basketball armchair strategists and political 

As I grew older, I was given the responsibility of 
packaging standard home remedies, such as Epsom salts, 
sulfur, alum, castor oil, spirit of camphor, and other remedies 

which sold for five or ten cents an ounce. First, the bottles for 
liquids had to be washed to remove the adhering straw 
packing. Corks of the proper size were selected for the 
bottles, and the bottles were filled from a tin dispensing tank 
with a pump on top. Solid drug products were carefully 
weighed and placed into cardboard containers, and all were 
given pre-printed labels selected from a cabinet containing 
rolls of standard "shop labels." Later, I was entrusted with 
the more complex manufacturing of citrate of magnesia— a 
great mover in those days. 

My first bicycle came when I was ten years old, and was 
a result of the pressure which I put on my father since I was 
required to deliver sale bills door-to-door. The next ultimatum 
which I gave my father came during the delivery of an 
exceptionally heavy set of propaganda. This was a booklet, 
similar in size to an almanac, which promoted Lydia 
Pinkham's Vegetable Compound. One hot summer day, as I 
delivered those missives door-to-door up one side of the street 
and down the other, I began to receive considerable needling 
from those residents sitting on their front porches as I passed 
along the street. The title of the booklet was: "There is a 
Baby in every Bottle." Since I could not see anything 
humerous in my serious business of delivering advertising, I 
threatened to quit. Fortunately, my father could see my 
point, and I was promoted to a more desirable position as 
clerk at fifty cents a week. 

With the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt and his 
subsequent letter programs, such as the NRA and early labor 
laws, I soon found myself out of a job. Working ten to twelve 
hours a day was not a concern to me, but now I was 
considered too young to work. This lasted only a few months, 
because the Lewis family moved to Canton, Illinois. W. S. 
Denton found himself a victim of the Depression Years, lost 
his store in Springfield, and returned to Beardstown. 
Conditions at that time did not warrant both he and my 
father together in business in a small commmunity, and the 
partnership dissolved. 


Upon arriving in Canton, I again found myself 
employed in my father's drug store, which he had purchased 
from Henry B. Gustine, a firm which had been in business 
since 1889. This time, however, I did not receive fifty cents a 
week salary. I got nothing but the privilege of working. The 
year was 1937. America just chmbing out of the Depression 
but was rapidly sinking into a recession. 

In 1943, I graduated from pharmacy school and spent 
the following three years as a combat officer in the United 
States Navy. The Lewis Pharmacy was little changed when I 
returned following those seven years of absence. It was still a 
small-town community drug store with all the charm of its 
early years. 


Mrs. Omega White 

My story began in the Spring of 1918. I lived on a farm 
near Stronghurst with my parents, a sister, and three 

My tall blond "prince charming" hved in Media and was 
soon to go into military service. His folks were neighbors to 
the County Superintendent of School. He was also a friend of 
my boyfriend. 

When Mr. B., the superintendent, knew my boyfriend 
was going into the army, he came to their house and took our 
pictures. He then insisted that I take the teacher's 
examination. I thought I wasn't qualified, especially in 
science. But Mr. B. gave me books and a great deal of 
encouragement. So I went to Oquawka to take the 
examination and, upon entering the room, was given the 
number thirteen. No one else wanted it. When I received my 
grades, Mr. B. wrote on the card: "Who said number thirteen 
is unlucky?" 

Having obtained my teacher's certificate, I borrowed 

two hundred dollars from the Stronghurst State Bank. I 
packed a trunk with my very simple wardrobe and went to 
Summer School at Normal, Illinois. 

One of the texts I studied was The Psychology and 
Pedagogy of Beading by Huey. Another was The Teacher and 
the School by Colegrove. I must confess these gave me very 
httle to apply to the type of school that I was to teach in. I 
also observed some classroom teaching. I would have enjoyed 
more of that. 

I applied for a position in two districts and got the one 
at Hopper. It was a one room school located in a very sandy 
area, with scrub oaks and cacti. The school house was painted 
white and had a small hall for coats and boots. There were no 
near fences but some very close neighbors. There were 
blackboards and a teacher's desk with a bell. I was the 
janitor, but this wasn't a hardship as there was a small coal 
house near. I was famihar with carrying coal, wood, and cobs 
and taking out the ashes because I did that at home. 

I was fortunate to have the older brother of a pupil build 
the fires when the weather was very cold. The stove burned 
soft coal and was an upright one. The desks were single and 
graduated in size. A yardstick was very useful as a point or 
"attention getter." 

I drove a horse and buggy to school. "Old Hickory" was 
one of a kind. I had to beat him on the way to school, but he 
knew the way home and nothing stopped him then (not even 
the black jack oaks). I put him in the barn across the road. He 
was so tall I had to climb on the manger to get the bridle bit 
in his mouth. Once he threw his head and knocked me off the 
manger, and I got a very bad sprained ankle. As I prepared 
lessons I reviewed and studied. And 1 never studied harder in 
my life, as 1 had to keep ahead of the pupils. There was a 
dictionary and wall maps. I bought a flag and pictures of 
Washington and Lincoln. I also gave a box social to raise 
money for books. 

1 am proud to say that I had very good discipline in 
spite of the fact one sixth grader was man-sized. He was one 


of eight children attending from the same family. These 
children never gave me any trouble because their father told 
them that if they were given a "licking" in school, they would 
get one when they got home. I imagine the teachers today 
would like to hear that. 

On nice days we would take nature hikes at the noon 
hour. In winter we would build snow forts and have snow ball 
battles. Once I was hit on the head with a snow ball, and 
"Tiny Tim" became very angry because they weren't 
supposed to hit the teacher. I assured him it was fair in 

I liked teaching in Henderson County because of the 
course of study. This we foUowed religiously, and so I always 
knew when I had covered everything in every subject. That is 
not easy when you have all eight grades and twenty-two 

The first graders were always dear to me, and I always 
felt they loved me, too. I began to consider it an honor to pull 
teeth. They just knew I wouldn't hurt them. 

My greatest regret was that we never had enough 
beginner readers. The youngsters learned so fast. I should 
have supplied my own, but on fifty dollars a month, I didn't 
feel all that rich. 

My next one-room school was in my own district and 
close to home. I only had three girls that year. But I had my 
two brothers. No problem there, but I had to prove that I 
showed no favoritism. 

One cold morning, some of the boys were studying near 
the stove when they saw the County Superintendent drive 
up. They hurried to their seats and were perfect dears 
(without being told). Fortunately, Mr. B. always 
complimented me on my work and appearance so I was never 
too nervous when he visited. 


Kenneth Weinant 

Isaac Strauss, a native of Bavaria Germany, came to 
New York City with his widowed mother when he was 
fourteen years of age. After a few years there, he came west 
and became a peddler travehng the countryside with a pack 
on his back. His headquarters were in Peoria. When he was 
twenty-three years old he opened the store in Pittsfield in 
partnership with his brother Jacob. 

The two brothers had combined capital of about 
$3,000.00 when they decided on the big venture of opening a 
family store. They sacrificed to save money to start and were 
willing to deprive themselves if necessary to provide a good 
line of merchandise. Uncle Ike, as we called him was granted 
a peddler license, third class, on May 1, 1863. Uncle Jake 
stayed in the store. The Strauss brothers were more than 
generous in sharing their wealth with all community projects 
and individuals. 

I, Kenneth Weinant, will now tell you my story of forty- 
eight years in this store, from March, 1922 to June, 1970. One 
Saturday night I went in the store to buy a cap. I was in my 
senior year of High School, when I was asked by Isaac, the 
son of Uncle Jake, who was by then deceased, if I would like to 
work for them. I then had planned to hire out as an 
apprentice to Harry Branch, who was a building contractor. 
Mr. Strauss said, "Why don't you come in the morning before 
school and on Saturday and see if you like it." So I did. The 
first morning, as I was filhng the old cedar water keg. Uncle 
Ike, the older gentleman, tapped me on the shoulder and said, 
"Vot are you doing here young man?" I replied, "I started to 
work for you this morning." He said, "Veil I don't know if we 
need you or not." I stayed. 

We had no cash register at this time so the paper 
currency of all denominations was dropped in a large wooden 
drawer, but the coins were kept in separate tills. We had no 


sales slips so we used the paper that came between the rolls of 
hair ribbons, which were in style in 1922. We had a charge 
sales book, which we used, turning them in at night. Wilham 
Strauss then transferred them to the day book and then to 
the ledger. 

This department store carried clothing for the entire 
family, as well as floor coverings, a complete line of dry 
goods, sewing machines, Edison phonographs, notions, etc.. 
In the earlier days they bought wool fleeces; the holes where 
the long burlap sacks hung for filling still show in the 
warehouse floor. Geese, duck, and chicken feathers were 
bought and sold. Feather ticks were the style instead of 
mattresses. The straw ticks were also good bedding. Rag rugs 
came in rolls thirty-six inches wide and were sewed together 
for the rooms. I remember the matting was made in Japan or 
China. This was also in use for bedrooms. Many kitchen 
floors were bare, until later on when felt base and linoleum 
were introduced. I enjoyed going to St. Louis to buy for the 

I worked in several departments in the store but mostly 
in the gents' furnishings, suits, and floor coverings. I 
remember the horse and buggy days, when they were tied to 
the old hitching rack that was around the court house square. 
The farmers with their families came to Pittsfield, which is 
Pike County Seat. Butter and egg and poultry money 
provided funds for the family necessities. Also, chairs, 
benches, and rest rooms were furnished for the public. 

When I was seventeen, the men all wore stiff collars and 
three-piece suits. All of our merchandise was of high quality. 
The dry goods, such as muslin, outing flannel, dress prints, 
calico, ginghams, and etc., were shipped by boat from Rice- 
Stix or Ely Walker, which were merchants in St. Louis. 
Sometimes the goods were shipped by railroad and brought 
up on large flat-bed dray wagons, which were pulled by a 
team of large draft horses. 

1 remember buying for the gents' furnishing 
department 450 dozen double-thumb Kokomo gloves at one 

time, and 1.50 dozen two-thumb mittens, plus aU other kinds 
of work gloves. Our aisles were crowded with customers, and 
the counters and the shelves were stocked with goods. We 
had no definite closing time on Saturday night; the door was 
never locked while we were in the store. Of course, we were 
straightening up the stock, and we could be sure of our 
regular late customers shortly before midnight. Then, Ike 
Strauss would take us to the Bert Niccum restaurant for ham 
sandwiches sliced by hand— nice and thick from a large baked 
ham. Of course, we had anything else we wanted. 

They were very generous with gifts at Christmas. We 
were paid monthly, quite different from today. During the 
Depression of 1930, we were cut 50% in time and 20% in 
wages. I was married and had two children. This is the time 
we brought our first home. Quite a struggle, but we made it. 

Shortly before Christmas in 1945 the store was sold to 
Henry and Albert Wuellner of Alton, Illinois. The name 
"Strauss " was to be retained. The store was remodeled, there 
were shorter working hours, and a raise in weekly pay was 
granted. The manager and I went to the Mohawk Carpet 
Mills in New York and took training. I enjoyed taking 
contracts for churches and homes for floorcoverings. I 
thoroughly enjoyed my forty-eight years in the store and my 
associations with my customers. If you gave me a family 
name, I could tell you the town in Pike County that they 
came from. 

My associations under the new management were most 
pleasant. Although I have been retired for ten years, I visited 
the store many times after I left, and it brought many 
memories of days gone by: happy times, store parties, 
Christmas rush, meeting former customers. The store is now 


Kathryn Link 

These aging feet have covered many miles on many 

roads to many schools, as both student and teacher; but in 
retrospect, two incidents take precedence. 

The first involves the building of the highway, now 
known as Route 9. and the spring thaw of 1929. Much of the 
grading and many of the fills had been done in the summer 
and fall of '28 so that the road crews could get in a full season 
of cement laying when the weather settled in the spring. We 
lived west of LaHarpe, near a fairly large fill just east of the 
Durham-LaHarpe township line. My sister and I, she the 
teacher, and I a student, drove a horse and buggy to the old 
Washington School, just north of the Lamoine River bridge. 

When the warm spring days began to bring the frost out 
of the ground, the bottom went out of the clay fills. One 
Monday morning we started to school as usual, but our good 
old horse, despite all her valiant efforts, could not negotiate 
the mud. FinaUy, she got down in the belly-deep mire, and my 
sister had to get out and unfasten the tugs so that "Old Nell" 
could get back on her feet. At last, we managed to get 
through that mudhole, but we knew that a worse one lay 
farther down the road. 

We drove to the next house, where an elderly widower 
lived, and asked his permission to leave our buggy there: we 
then rode our horse on to school. We spent the rest of the 
week with a family who lived near the school house, and, on 
Friday, our parents came for us with a team, making the trip 
through Disco, thus avoiding the terrible mud of the 
proposed new "hard road." 

The second road to school stands out in my memory 
when I recall my first year of teaching. That was the winter of 
'39 and '40. After trying all summer to find a teaching 
position in my major field or in a one-room rural school, 1 
gave up and entered business college. Late in October, one of 
the rural schools for which I had appUed lost its teacher to a 
government position, and the directors called me to begin 
teaching on November first. I took a room in the home of one 
of the school directors and his wife. After a couple of weeks 1 
purchased an eight-year-old car (for $35.00) so that I could go 

home on weekends. The school was south and east of Basco, 
in the opposite corner of Hancock County from my parents' 

That winter brought considerable snow, and on two 
different weekends my father had trouble getting me out of 
our ungraveled lane to the highway. He suggested succinctly 
that if it appeared that the lane was going to be impassable I 
should not come home for the weekend. About mid-January, I 
started home one weekend in a snow storm. By the time 1 got 
to Carthage it was getting so bad that I remembered my 
father's words, turned around, and returned to my room near 
the school. 

The snow continued throughout the weekend, 
accompanied by blustery winds, and when we awoke on 
Monday morning, snow drifts loomed fence high on all the 
roads. In my innocence, I suggested to the school director 
with whom I boarded that maybe we shouldn't have school. 
His reply was: " We never have closed the school because of 
the weather!" He went on to explain to me that I would be 
unable to walk in the road five-eights mile to school, but that 
I should go through the pasture that adjoined the road. He 
told me that a large draw went through the land, and that I 
would have to go around it to the east. I donned knee-high 
hiking boots over jodphurs (this was before slacks), my 
warmest sweater, coat, mittens, scarf, and cap. In my book 
bag I placed a change of footwear and a skirt— no proper 
school mistress could appear before her students in 
pants— and taking this bag in one hand and my dinner bucket 
in the other, I set out. 

Being unfamiliar with the terrain, I did not go far 
enough east to get around the big draw, and suddenly, I 
found myself waist deep in snow, half-way between home and 
school and out of sight of both. The more I tried to get out, 
the deeper into the snow I sank until I became a bit frantic 
and began to feel that I would not get out at all. Soon I 
noticed a three-strand barb wire fence at the top of the bank, 
I had an idea. I tossed my book bag and dinner bucket up to 


the fence, leaving my hands free. Then I turned over on my 
back, placed my arms above my head, and using my heels to 
push, I inched myself up until I could reach the fence and pull 
myself to the top of the bank. From there on, it was easy 
going. I arrived at school about forty-five minutes after I had 
left home. 

No one else had arrived, but I built the fire in the 
furnace, then walked about forty rods to a neighboring house. 
The mother of the students who lived there told me that all 
the parents were waiting until they saw smoke coming out of 
the schoolhouse chimney before they started their children to 
school. By ten o'clock the students began arriving, and we 
had a short day of school. None of them had any dry clothes 
to put on, and all ten sat throughout the day, drying out from 
their trip to school. I dismissed them shortly after three, 
banked the fire, and' took my long walk back to my room. 

By that time the snow was hard and crusty, and each 
step involved breaking through with each foot into the deep 
snow and pulling it out again. I did not fall into the ditch, but 
it took me almost an hour to get home. I was so exhausted 
that I lay on the living room floor without removing my coat 
to rest. The landlord came in, and finding me there, asked 
what was wrong. "Nothing," I replied. "I'm just exhausted!" 

That night at supper we discussed the situation, and I 
explained how wet the children were when they arrived at 
school. The landlord phoned the other two directors, only one 
of whom had children in school. After much discussion, they 
decided to close the school until the roads were open. 

I was snowed in, miles from anyone I reaUy knew. The 
people with whom I roomed had a year-old baby, and it was 
their custom to go to bed about 8:30 when the infant got 
sleepy. The next few days were very long. Late in the week we 
received word that some neighbors were going to take their 
team and wagon, meet another family who lived on the 
highway, and go to Carthage. If I would walk the mile and 
half to the other family's home, I could ride along. I walked! 
In Carthage, I phoned my parents, who came to get me. It 

was another week before we resumed school, and about a 
month before the road on which I lived was cleared so that I 
could get my car out. 

I'll never forget the winter of '39 and '40. 


Ruth S. Point t 

It rained, and it rained, and it rained! The rain had 
started the previous afternoon— not one of those gentle 
spring rains, but a continuing downpour. All night long the 
rain came down. In the morning, as I prepared breakfast 
while my husband fed the stock and curried the horses, I 
frequently glanced out the window at the deluge. Only one 
thought was in my mind: "How will I ever get to school?" 

The Burhans School, where I was teaching that year, 
was located on the top of a hill on the west side of Duck Creek 
a few miles south and west of the little village of Monterey in 
Fulton County. As anyone who was ever acquainted with the 
area southeast of Canton, known as "Duck Creek," will 
remember, this particular stream was notorious for its flash 
floods. Just the summer before, an extra powerful flood had 
washed out the bridge at the bottom of Burhan's Hill, and it 
had been replaced with a temporary bridge consisting of steel 
stringers, stretched across from bank to bank, and on which 
has been placed a row of heavy bridge planks. 

Our home was on the next road to the south, at the top 
of a hill on the east side of Duck Creek. In good weather I 
drove a Model T to school, but since gravel roads in rural 
areas were an unheard-of luxury in the 20's, it was impossible 
to drive a car on those muddy roads after a good rain. My 
only way to get to school then was to walk cross-lots, a 
distance of about 1 3/4 miles, climbing many fences and 
crossing several small branches that wound their way 
between the hills and eventually flowed into Duck Creek. 

Ordinarilv, these branches were so narrow that one little 


leap easily carried me to the other side, but this morning it 
would be different. When I had come home from school the 
afternoon before, it was difficult for me to cross these swollen 
streams. After all the rain we had been having. I knew that 
crossing them would be impossible that morning, and it was 
much too far for me to walk around by the road. However. 
Will solved the problem for me when he came in for breakfast. 
"I better walk to school with you this morning." he said, "to 
be sure you make it O.K. If I wear my hip boots. I'm sure T'll 
have no trouble getting across those branches." 

What a trip that was! When we came to the first branch, 
it looked more Uke a rushing lake. The water was very deep, 
but Will was able to wade it. so he picked me up and quickly 
carried me across. At each succeeding branch it was the same 
story, and each time he carried me across safely. 

At last we reached the road and headed toward the 
bridge. As we rounded the bend just before reaching it. we 
were dismayed to discover that no bridge was in sight. We 
could see where the road entered the rushing water and the 
place where it went out, but not one speck of the bridge was 

Taking a long stick in his hands. Will felt in the water at 
the place where the bridge should be. The stick struck the 
plank, and showed that the water over it was not very deep, 
so he went on. Cautiously, he inched his way to the other side, 
always feehng ahead of himself to be sure that each plank 
remained in place. When he had ascertained that it was safe, 
he returned, picked me up. and again feeling his way. carried 
me across as the water rushed around his feet and legs. With 
a big sigh of relief, we climbed the hill to the schoolhouse. 
Never, before or since, was the sight of that httle old building 
quite so welcome. 

The first thing we did was to build a fire in the stove in 
order to dispell the damp chill, and to help dry ourselves out, 
and then I proceeded to do my other other janitorial duties 
and await the arrival of the children. Nine o'clock came, but 
no pupil had arrived-then 9:30, 10:00, and finally 10:30; still 

no pupils had come. Of course, we knew that none of the 
children who Uved east of the creek could get there, but I 
looked for those who lived on the west side. I learned later 
that the parents were so sure that I would be unable to get 
there that they had kept their children home. 

When no child had arrived by 10:30. we decided that 
none would come, so we started for home. To our 
consternation we discovered that the water had risen so 
rapidly during the time we were at the schoolhouse that 
crossing back over the creek was an utter impossibility. 
There was nothing for us to do but to follow the windings of 
the creek, hoping that in some way we could manage to get 
across or around those flooded streams and get home. Many 
branches flowed into the creek from the west as from the 
east, and by the time we reached the first one, the water had 
become so deep and the current so swift that Will couldn't 
wade it alone, to say nothing of trying to carry me. We 
followed the branch upstream until we came to a water-gap, a 
place where a fence had been built across the stream. 
Hanging onto the top wire, and placing our feet on the 
bottom wire, we edged our way along sideways until we 
reached the opposite side. Then, in and out, we followed the 
windings of the creek until we came to the next branch, which 
we crossed in the same way. I do not remember how many of 
these we crossed in that manner, but there were several. 
Needless to say, our hearts were in our mouths, as the saying 
goes, and a prayer was on our Hps, because we well knew what 
the consequences would be if either of us should slip, or one of 
those wires should break. 

Finally, about 2:30 in the afternoon, wet, hungry, and 
completely exhausted, we reached Will's parents' home. We 
were still a half mile from our own home, but after we had 
eaten some dinner and rested for a while, that was a simple 
matter of plowing through the mud down one hill, across a 
bridge that WAS there, up another muddy hill and 
Oh!-"There's NO place like HOME!" 

Did I hear someone sigh for the "good old days'?" 



Robert Little 

When I was a little boy, my dad had a job as traveling 
salesman for a stationery firm in Chicago. He sold school 
supplies and stationery to bookstores over a large part of 
Illinois. He was away from home all week but came home for 
Sunday. Dad wanted to get a job so he could be at home every 
day, and when a vacancy appeared for a rural mail carrier out 
of Macomb on route five, Dad took the examination and 
passed. That was about 1912. 

The roads were all dirt so Dad bought a horse and 
buggy. The mail route was a long one, about twenty-eight 
miles, and very hilly, which made it hard for one horse. So 
Dad bought another and changed horses each day. He put a 
tongue in a two-wheel cart and drove both horses when the 
roads were very muddy. In the spring when the frost was 
going out of the ground, the mud rolled up on the wheels like 
snow does when making a snow man, and dad would stop and 
push the mud out from between the spokes with a spade or 
paddle so that the horse could pull the cart. 

When the weather was nice it was pleasant carrying the 
mail, but when it was stormy the job was sometimes 
disagreeable. So Dad built a mail wagon which was all 
enclosed and had sliding doors. In the winter he would heat a 
charcoal brick in the furnace each morning and put it in the 
foot warmer. It would stay warm all day. 

One day after a big snow storm. Dad got out on the 
route about six miles and got stuck in a snow drift. It was 
impossible to go on so he unhitched the horses and rode one 
and led the other home, leaving the mail wagon in the road. 

After some time Dad bought a Ford touring car, and 
then he was home by noon. Sometimes on Saturdays I would 
go with him on the route, and he taught me how to run the 
car. I had to stop at each box at just the right place to put the 
mail in, and it was good experience for a beginner. In those 
days there were no drivers' licenses or age limits for driving. 

Most every farmer butchered his own hogs, and many of 
Dad's patrons would put a package of meat in the box for 
him. I can remember times when he would come home in the 
evening and handing Mom a package of meat would say, 
"Aren't I a good provider?" 

One time when Dad was about ten miles from home he 
passed two men driving a hog. Just as he got even with them, 
the hog suddenly darted across the road and gashed the horse 
in the front leg. Dad tied a sack around the leg but the horse 
lost a lot of blood and was very weak when they got home. It 
was a couple of months before the horse was able to work 

I remember one of Dad's experiences when he got 
caught in a flood. It was on the fifth of July, and it rained 
about five inches that morning before he left town. By the 
time he got to Kiljordan Creek, the water was over the road 
and still rising. It was a long way to the bridge, and before 
Dad got to the deepest place, the water was already up to the 
bottom of the buggy. There was no room to turn around 
without getting in the ditch, and believe it or not, the horse 
tried to sit down in the water. To keep the horse from 
breaking the shafts, Dad unhitched him and tied him to a 
tree. The water was still rising, and Dad feared the mail 
would get wet so he hung the mail sack on a tree limb and 
waited for the water to recede. It was about two hours before 
it was safe enough to go on. Dad learned never to cross a 
flooded road again. 

It was fun for me to ride with Dad on the route and 
especially during one Christmas vacation when he was riding 
in the sleigh. I decided to go on the route, and one morning I 
helped put the sleigh bells on the horses and got ready for the 
trip. It was a nice day and I enjoyed the ride. When I would 
get cold, I would run behind the sleigh until I warmed up. It 
was really fun riding in the sleigh and listening to the sleigh 

When going to high school I had time each morning to 
help Dad sort the mail at the post office. I knew the names of 

everyone on the route and also made friends with many of 
them. I went to the fiftieth wedding anniversary of one 
couple about two years ago. 


Marguerite Campbell Hill 

Here I was in the spring of 1931 about to graduate from 
college and hoping for a job in a high school, teaching 
English, history, or Latin— or a combination of two or aU. 
Anything for a job! 

The stock market had crashed in 1929. In Illinois Len 
Small was governor and hard roads (concrete roads) were 
being built all over the state. Anyone taking a trip by auto 
had to be a good driver in order to weave in and out over the 
numerous detours where the paving was still incomplete. 

The "Great Depression" had oppressed the entire 
nation for many months. Corn got down to 12C to 15<f per 
bushel; many people burned it for fuel. A 200-pound hog 
could be bought for $6.00 at 3t per pound. Money could be 
borrowed at 4%, only there wasn't much money available. 
Good land could be purchased for $150.00 per acre. GasoHne 
was around 10c a gallon, a loaf of bread could be had for 8c, a 
pound of butter for a quarter, and enough round steak to feed 
a family of four for 25c. In the cities many men who bought 
heavily in the stock market on 10% margin put guns to their 
heads, or jumped out of skyscraper windows, rather than face 
financial ruin. Soup kitchens were swamped, unemployment 
was rampant. The man on salary, even though very small, 
was the lucky one. 

And I, graduating from Western Illinois State Teachers 
College, now known as Western Illinois University, craved to 
become one of the salaried people— a teacher. 

Financing a college education in those days was not 
easy. The Depression had practically wiped out my father. 

who had been a successful businessman in our community. 
Fortunately, our home was right across the street from the 
Western campus, so I could stay at home, and my mother had 
begun to take in roomers— college students— at $2.50 a 
person per week, and that included breakfast. Tuition at that 
time was about $16.00 per twelve-week term, three terms a 
year, plus two six-week summer terms. 

Times were so pinched that my mother urged me to take 
what was then called a 2' 2-year certificate, with which one 
was entitled to teach. But I begged to be allowed to finish my 
four years, promising to take classes all summer the two 
remaining years, and to take five courses instead of the 
customary four as many terms as were necessary in order to 
complete the four year's work for a bachelor's degree in three 
years. She and my father consented. 

I had kept my part of the bargain, and here I was hoping 
with all my heart for a teaching job. I had written several 
letters of application and had made personal interviews with 
two high school principals, one in Media and one in Dallas 
City. The latter, a large red-haired man with a deep resonant 
voice, interviewed me for over an hour on my quaUfications. 
His final question was, "What kind of cigarettes do you 
smoke. Miss Campbell?" I answered, "I don't smoke. Sir," to 
which he responded (which was not unusual for that day), 
"That is good because the last teacher lost her job partly 
because of her smoking." Then, by way of encouragement, he 
added "I'd Uke to have you meet with the board. Miss 
Campbell. Frankly, I am pleased with your application. 
Western sent two other applicants, but Mr. M. preferred a 
music-English combination, and Miss G. rather snootily 
asked if, this being a river town, we have any 'river rats' here 
in the high school. I don't think she would work out in this 
community. Could you come for our next board meeting 
Tuesday night at 7:30?" 

My brother rather grudgingly agreed to take me the 35 
miles to meet with the Dallas City school board in regard to 
the vacancy in English. We arrived about 30 minutes before 
the appointed time, so we drove around to look over the town. 
Even at dusk we liked the appearance of the small river town 

built along the shore of the Mississippi River on a series of 
four parallel streets, each one at a higher level as it left the 

I knew my admonishments to my brother not to dri\e 
too fast, not to stare, not to smoke, etc., were ridiculous, but 
getting the job was terribly important to me. There were 
many, many applicants for few jobs. Several of my friends, in 
discouragement, had dropped out of college only a few weeks 
before graduation. 

The high school building looked like a tall, old, stone 
castle, round turrets and all. The office where the board met 
was on the third floor. Timidly, but determined, I climbed the 
well worn steps. At the top, in the anteroom of the office, I 
was shocked to see a young woman who was obviously 
another candidate for the job I wanted so badly. My heart 
sank. I had thought all other candidates were ehminated. The 
principal came out of the inner office in a few minutes and 
introduced the young lady as Miss X. We made polite 
conversation until she was called in to meet the board. I felt 
even lower, for she had disclosed that she had already taught 
five years. And, alas, I had no experience. This surely would 
give her a great advantage. 

After what seemed to me a very long time, the young 
lady re-entered the outer office, bade me an indifferent 
farewell, and left. I was summoned to enter. In the days of 
the community high schools, there was a five-man school 
board, and I do mean "man." A woman board member was 
unheard of. I faced six men: the principal and five, ruddy- 
faced, casually dressed men. I was so tense I scarcely 
remembered the next morning what questions they had 
asked me. They were considerate and kind, but non- 
committal. At length the president of the board dismissed me 
with, "We thank you for coming. Miss Campbell. We will 
consider your apphcation and let you know." 

That was all. I didn't know whether they approved of 
me or not. When I stood to leave, the principal rose, too, and 
walked out to the outer office with me and on into the hall, 
saying, "Thank you again for coming. Miss Campbell. I think 
you will be hearing from me tomorrow. You don't need to 
worry about Miss X. When this community high school was 

formed, her father was one of those who fought bitterly 
against it. People have not forgotten. And, more important, I 
feel you are better qualified for the position. I like what your 
instructors have to say about you and your record. " 

The world became a much more beautiful place. I 
thought I could not possibly wait for what tomorrow would 
bring, but I could and did. As promised, the next day I 
received a telephone call from the principal to tell me I was 
being sent a contract to teach four years of English and to 
direct two plays in the Dallas City High School the next year, 
for a salary of $1,250. In this age the assignment and the 
salary would seem unbelievably ridiculous. In that day, I was 
one sublimely happy and grateful person. 


Olive Navarre 

No school telephones were in operation decades ago, 
which made it necessary for the teacher to see that a child 
who became ill at school be taken home. I was thankful this 
did not happen for some years, or at least until I had bought a 
car. In that instance, as I was enroute to the sick child's 
home, I found that I could not go any further, so had to walk 
about half a mile and get a farmer, with his tractor, to get my 
car out of the road ditch. The roads had thawed and it was icy 
underneath. All this time I had left the older children in 
charge at the school. 

A jacket stove, in one corner of the room, provided heat. 
Usually, long ranks of wood were corded outside the window 
near the stove corner, and at recess, the larger boys 
volunteered to hand the pieces of wood through the open 
window. It was the teacher who started the fire in that stove 
and tried to keep the room comfortable during the school day. 

Sweeping the floor, and dusting and washing the 
blackboards, was a daily routine, but the day was not over, as 
lesson plans had to be made and test papers were waiting to 

be graded. Substitute teachers were unheard of. If a teacher 
was ill, school was canceled for that day. I remember one cold 
snowy day when I started out through the drifted snow, and 
after going about a half mile, which was about half the 
distance, I was nearly exhausted and had to turn back. These 
conditions lasted until 1946, and then consohdation began. 
Then, four grades were in each room, buses were in use, a 
water system was available, and the children had access to a 

Up to this time, our social event for the year was a pie 
supper to make money for school use. The girls brought pies 
and the young men bid upon the pie. If they wanted a certain 
pie, which their girl friend had brought, it was hkely to bring 
a high price. 

The big event would be the last day of school, 
sometimes as early as April 1. This consisted of a big basket 
dinner, and a visit from the parents, probably the only day 
they would ever come to the school. All took part in games. 
The teacher furnished ice-cream, a treat for the children in 
those days. A book, or some other prize, was given by the 
teacher for perfect attendance throughout the year. 


Lyle W. Robbins 

It was Friday and five o'clock on that extremely cold 
February afternoon in the 1930's. I had just completed a 
week substituting in a country grade school in the northwest 
corner of Schuyler County, Ilhnois, for a teacher recovering 
from the flu. A heavy snow had been on the ground for three 
weeks, and I had been walking the four miles from home. This 
evening I thought it would be quicker if I cut through the 
deep woods, known as the Crain Woods, rather than take the 
road west to the road leading south that separated Schuyler 
County from Adams County on the west. 

The sky was overcast and darkness was approaching. I 

had finished sweeping the floor in the Uttle one-room school of 
a dozen pupils. 1 checked the stove, locked the door and, in 
the approaching darkness, set out across the dark woods for 
home. The snow was deep, without a path, and the roadway 
would have been easier walking. I carried a small flashlight in 
my overcoat pocket. Already I was having misgivings about 
taking the shortcut. 

I had planned to get through the Crain Woods within a 
half hour. I reasoned I had that much time before pitch 
darkness would set in. By then 1 would have safely reached 
the roadway where I could easily walk the last two miles. As 
long as I walked in a southwesterly direction I would surely 
reach the road before complete darkness overtook me. 

I knew how the countryside appeared when I entered 
the woods. I could visuaUze how it would look when I again 
came upon the road leading home. 

What I had not reckoned with was how things might 
appear, or for that matter not appear at all, when I reached 
the middle of the woods and found myself engulfed in almost 
complete darkness. Why couldn't I set the clock back just 15 
minutes? That's all the time I needed— just 15 minutes. 

I knew I would soon have to cross a big creek. There 
would be little water in it, and what there was would be frozen 
and covered with snow. The creek should be about half way 
into those woods. But I came upon no creek. Was I still going 

I stopped and sat on a log. The snow was deep. Which 
was southwest? Any direction could be southwest. Which 
southwest was the right southwest? I was lost! Oh well, 
people had been lost before. Maybe I wouldn't get home as 
soon, but what difference would that make? I was just a 
young unmarried kid with no wife waiting for me. So, what of 
it if I was lost? 

The piercing howl of a timber wolf sent a chill over me, 
causing me to become suddenly alert. Another timber wolf 
nearer by answered, and then another, seemingly closer than 
the first two. I stood erect. I took the flashlight from my coat 


pocket and switched it on. Muscles all over my body became 
tense. I felt like running. But where does a lost person run? 

I let out a terrific yell— a yell that would frighten even 
one of their own kind— or so I thought. But apparently it 
made little impression upon them, for they immediately 
resumed that blood curdling howling, this time as a chorus. 
And they seemed nearer. 

With the heavy snow that had been on the ground for 
the past three weeks, I was sure they were hungry. I had a 
pocket knife in my coat pocket. It had a large blade. I opened 
the knife, held it firmly in my right hand and the hghted 
flashlight in my left, and waited . . . and waited . . . and 

The howhng continued. How long before they made 
their kill? Was all this howling a ritual to be performed before 
the beginning of the feast? 

I thought about a lot of things. It would have been nice 
to have gotten married and raised a family. Maybe I could 
have studied law or medicine. Maybe I would have been a 
little kinder to some of the folks I had known. 

I remembered reading a story about a fellow who was 
overcome by a pack of wolves. He had a Winchester repeating 
rifle and had killed several of the wolves before he had to 
reload and the inevitable happened. How I wished for that 
Winchester. With no more than three to attack I might stand 
a chance with the Winchester. Would the flashlight keep 
them away? Perhaps— until the batteries wore out. Perhaps I 
could chmb a tree. But it was bitterly cold and, without 
movement, I would surely freeze in a tree. A tree would mean 
certain death if I stayed there. Furthermore, the wolves 
would have just that much more time to locate me. Any 
coward could freeze to death in a tree. I decided my chances 
were better on the ground with the wolves. 

I would have to make the best of a very bad situation. 
Maybe I could cut up one of the hungry rascals before the 
other two finished me off. Any choice seemed better than 
freezing to death in a tree. 

Then it occurred to me that if I had a big club I could 
possibly keep all those hungry critters away from me. Now, 
to find the club. Still holding the open knife, and a flashlight, 
I started running, running in the direction opposite of the 
howling nearest me. Suddenly I came upon the creek. Near 
the bank, with the aid of the flashlight, I found a dead sapling 
about three inches in diameter and nearly four feet in length, 
with a hard wood growth about the size of a Mason quart jar 
at its base. This would indeed be an excellent weapon. Just 
one look at this monstrosity of nature should be enought to 
discourage any wolf. The wolves continued to howl. I crossed 
the creek, knife in one hand and the cave man's club in the 
other. I followed the creek upstream to the bridge on the road 
which I should have taken in the first place. Now it was only a 
two and one-half mile walk home on the familiar road 
separating the counties of Schuyler and Adams. 

The wolves stopped their howling, and I stepped Uvely 
toward home. I closed the knife and put it in my pocket but 
still clutched my new found weapon, I thanked the Lord for 
deliverance and assured him that I would get married and 
raise a family— maybe even go to medical school or law 

I arrived home safely and put the cave man's club in the 
tool shed. I decided not to say anything to my folks about my 
adventure. I didn't think anyone would believe the story 
anyway. But one day my father and my younger brother 
found that formidable weapon in the tool shed and asked me 
if I knew anything about it. I then related the incident to 
them exactly as it had happened. They insisted that what I 
had heard were hoot owls and that hoot owls never harmed 
anyone. For a long time they kept the club to show folks how 
I was able to protect myself from those fierce hoot owls. 
Nevertheless, the following summer an occasional large 
timber wolf was observed in the area of the Grain Woods by 
local people. 

I have never argued with my folks about the facts of 
this incident. Although I know I did, in fact, have a near 

encounter with wolves, I will never be able to live down the 
shame of that unjust accusation of being attacked by hoot 


Florence Braun 

This once shiny home that stands just behind two 
perfectly shaped maple trees is only a shadow of its former 
self. These beautiful trees are like two old friends that have 
stood guard by the fence and on each side of the gate, 
watching over the ones who came and went with loving care 
for so many years. The hmbs stretch out to shade the yard 
and the house where once so much activity took place. These 
trees are still ahve, and I wonder what they must think of the 
now still, quiet home. 

We thought we would go inside the house to see if we 
could find anything there to remind us of Grandfather 
Roberts' former home that we had visited so often. After 
looking in each room it almost seemed that ghosts were 
coming and going. Mostly going, as the doors and windows 
were all open now. 

The people who last hved here left without taking 
anything along, and so it is all in a state of disarray, besides 
the deterioration of the house. On the floor hes old family 
photographs among the dirt and trash, to remind us of the 
former people who hved here. Many years before this, Dr. 
Turner had this home in St. Mary's, and the building which 
still stands back of this old house was east of the house and 
was his office. 

As time passed, my Grandfather Roberts moved here in 
1919 to live in this small village in the house where Dr. 
Turner had formerly lived. He moved the doctor's office back 
of the house to use for storage and had a cellar underneath. 
He started in the fur buying business and had a long building 
that was well ventillated and equipped with a workshop 

where he spent hours and days cleaning, stretching, and 
repairing the animal skins. 

Each animal, no matter what size, had a board that was 
made to fit perfectly and stretch each animal fur. As a child I 
was just fascinated by all the sizes and shapes of the skins of 
the many animals. The most wanted animals in those days 
were wild mink, sometimes worth $25.00, also, he skinned red 
fox, raccoons, muskrats, skunks, opossums, and sometimes 
even rabbits with the white tails, and an occasional house cat. 
One of the prettiest furs was the red fox that ladies wore over 
silk and satin dresses. 

One day, when I came into my Grandfather's house, he 
had paid $22.50 for a very special red fox skin, and my 
grandmother was trying to help him sew a small rip in this 
expensive fur. She worked with a fine thread trying to hide 
the small tear in the very dehcate fur. Quite a few arguments 
went on before the fur was finished and ready to dry on the 
special board. 

I can still see the skins hanging in this building in neat 
rows to the top. How I dreamed of someday being a lady and 
wearing a coat made of these small skins! As I grew older, I 
didn't care for this anymore, as by then there were lots of fun 

My grandfather did not drive a car so he drove a horse 
cart, calling on anyone who he thought might have furs to 
sell. This proved to be too slow so he would get some one to 
drive his Model T quite often, especially my youngest 
brother, Virden. They would drive for several days, returning 
with a large amount of furs. He would send large shipments 
to the eastern market, and others were sold to other buyers or 
shipped to St. Louis. 

At one time, he bought an exceptionally nice red fox, 
and it was sold to one of the local ladies as a furpiece for 
$22.00. During a good year, when prices were high, he bought 
several thousand dollars worth of furs. By the early thirties, 
the women's fashions had changed, and fur was no longer in 
style so the market dropped to almost nothing. 


The Roberts family lived here for many years and 
enjoyed life in the small town, with a garden, fruit trees, and 
even chickens. Many happy family gatherings took place 
here, and activities often took place at the church. In 1929, at 
the age of seventy, my grandfather was immersed in baptism 
at the church, and he attended regularly until his death. 

If this old house, that has lost all its former beauty, 
could talk, it would tell of the many struggles and sad 
occasions of the people who lived here and also of the happy 
times that were spent here. It served its purpose well. 

Ollie Alexander 

Our neighbor, Andy, who lived on a farm adjoining my 
father's farm to the north, bought a large thirty-horsepower 
steam engine with a large grain separator, intending to 
thrash grain for the neighbors. He also bought a seven- 
bottom plow to puU with his engine. This engine looked more 
like a railroad locomotive than a machine to thrash grain 

My father had me plow a twenty-two-acre field with a 
gang plow and four horses, which took a swath of twenty-four 
inches. At the same time, Andy started plowing a thirty-acre 
field adjoining the field I was plowing. He started in the 
center of his field and plowed in a circle. It took three men to 
run his plow: one to lift the plow, one to run the engine, and 
one to haul coal and water. Most of the time he was waiting 
on coal and water, and all the time I was plowing three or four 
acres a day with my horses. My dad told me it looked hke I 
was going to have my field plowed before Andy did his— and I 
did! Andy finished the corners of his field with a walking 
plow and a team of big gray horses. It was the largest team of 
horses I had ever seen. People said they were used to pull 
brewery wagons in Quincy before he bought them. 

In the summer of 1914, Andy took a contract to plow in 
the Lima Lake bottoms north of Quincy. He drove his steam 
engine and plow from La Prairie to the bottoms, a distance of 
about forty miles, only to find that he had to take off all but 
three plows because of the willow brush and the gumbo soil 
which pulled so hard. He didn't have much luck there either.! 

He finally came back to La Prairie where he pulled silo 
cutters, thrashed grain, and sawed wood. The bridges in 
those days weren't built very strong, and his engine was so 
heavy that he broke many of them down. The township road 
commissioners didn't welcome him. One day he broke 
through the bridge across Cedar Creek. The coal tender 
behind the engine caught on the bridge, and nothing but the 
back wheels went through the bridge. It was about twenty 
feet to the bottom of the creek bed. He spent all winter 
blocking up under it with railroad ties and fixing it so he 
could finish crossing. 

Finally, he loaded his engine and separator on two 
railroad cars and shipped them to Fergus Falls, Minnesota, in 
the Red River Valley district, where he thrashed for two 
seasons. We heard he drove it off the levee. He was fond of his 
bottle and sometimes he would drink too much, and so we 
wondered if that had happened to him. 

In western IlHnois, before we had barbed wire and 
woven wire fencing, the farmers set out hedge plants to 
divide the fields and define the boundaries of their farms. The 
hedge plants were small and required special care, such as 
hoeing and watering, for a few years until they had a good 
start to survive. Some hedge rows were kept mowed and 
trimmed, especially along the roads, and though beautiful, 
they required a lot of work. Others were let grow for several 
years into trees and were later cut for fence posts. Some of 
these posts would last forty or fifty years and some even 
longer. The fence rows provided good protection for birds, 
quail, rabbits, etc. Hedge trees had a good root system, and 
I've seen roots twenty to thirty feet long. Crops didn't grow 
within that twenty or thirty feet on either side of full grown 

hedge rows because the hedge took so much moisture from 
the soil. 

After two years Andy came back and lived with his 
brother and bought a small steam engine. This time he got 
into the business of pulling hedge. He brought himself a 
block and tackle— or block and "tickle," as he called it, for he 
was hard of hearing and pronunced a lot of words queer. He 
would fasten one end to a large tree or something solid and 
hitch the other end to his steam engine, and in this way, he 
pulled a lot of hedge in this part of the country. Finally, large 
bulldozers were used to do the job, and they were so much 
faster than Andy's steam engine, which was about worn out 
anway. Andy finally went to Alton, Illinois and was married 
at the age of 60. I suppose he passed away by now and been 
forgotten by aU but the old timers. 


John C. Willey 

I graduated from Industry High School in 1932, which 
was, of course, during the Great Depression. After hoboing in 
the West and serving a session with the CCC in California, I 
was again, in 1936, home with Dad and Ma in Bethel 
Township, McDonough County, lUinois. I had no job, but 
Dad had, on his farm, bank coal mines, down in what they 
called "The Coal Holler" (and which had been mined since 
before I was born). I decided to try my skill at being a "coal 

These mines were tunnels back under a hill. Anyone who 
started had to "drive" his own entry. The entry was a seven- 
foot-wide face of coal which was about thirty-two inches deep. 
This coal was to be removed along with about four inches of 
fireclay underneath. Car tracks made of one-by-four boards 
were laid end to end from the outside of the coal car, with a 

drainage ditch being dug between. Board strips were nailed 
along the sides of the tracks to keep the cars from running off 
on one side or the other. 

After the entry had been dug out for about twenty-six 
feet, one began digging at right angles to the entry-way in a 
span of about seven feet wide to begin a "room". A turn-table 
about five feet square of sohd boards was put in the entry- 
way. This was for turning the coal car in and out of the room. 

The room was carried in for about eight feet, with the 
right rib being kept straight. The left rib was for widening the 
room. Every "fall" of coal taken out widened the room until it 
became about twelve to fourteen feet wide. In the widened 
part wooden props (poles) were set about four feet apart to 
help hold up the roof. These props were of spHt oak with a 
one-by-four wooden cap on the top of each to make it easier to 
drive them under the roof. 

The extra space now available was used for the "gob" 
pile. This was the fireclay, rock, and slack (the fine, powdery 
coal) which always came down with the coal. 

To get a "fall" a pick was used. This was a tool about 
twelve to fourteen inches on either side of the "eye" and 
made of steel. The steel tapered to a point on each end. It was 
sharpened by beating with a ball-peen hammer after being 
heated red hot in the shanty stove. 

To begin work, one took this clay pick and sat down 
before the coalface. Placing one shoulder on one knee one 
began digging at the clay underneath the coal. To get all the 
coal from under the right-hand corner, one had to learn to 
mine left-handed. Then, one took a heavier pick and knocked 
down about eight inches of the coal across the coal-face along 
the bottom. Now, by mining out the fireclay a second time 
across, the depth would be about pick handle length. 

Next, each corner of the coal-face was cut back to match 
the depth of the clay mined out from underneath. On the one 
side the coal-cut was made straight, while the other angled in 
so that the coal would break out. The pick used for this had a 
short handle and short points. 

This same pick was used to dig wedge holes about two 
feet apart in the coal where it lay against the soapstone roof. 
Then iron wedges were driven into these holes with a short- 
handled sledge, being careful to exert the same pressure all 
along the face of coal. This caused all the coal to come down 
at the same time. 

There would be about forty to sixty bushels of coal in 
each fall (eighty pounds to the bushel). It was loaded into the 
coal car using a short-handled fork which allowed the slak to 
sift out. A miner could push out about ten bushels (800 
pounds) to the car-load. He would stand behind and, bending 
over the car, push it along the wooden track to the outside, 
where it was dumped in a pile and left to await a burner. If a 
buyer came while the miner was inside, he would walk down 
the entry a ways and pound on the track with a hammer. The 
sound carried quite well. 

Platform scales were kept at the mine so that the buyer 
could weigh his wagon or truck. The coal was sold for ten 
cents per bushel, with local people buying it for their homes 
and other haulers taking it to the city to resell for a profit for 

The rooms were driven back until one of two things 
happened: the roof caved in, or the air went bad. Sometimes 
an air-shaft could be dug down from the outside of the hill to 
the entry-way. Curtains, if hung there, might force air 
circulation back into the mine interior. 

There were also two things which might really close a 
mine: the roof going bad, or the coal seam dipping down too 
low for the water to be ditched out. In this last instance 
sumps might be dug so that the water could either run or be 
pumped out. This was not very practical, so miners usually 
just went farther "down the Holler" to open a new mine. 

After about thirty-five feet back into a room, there 
would be no way to circulate the air. Then, if there was a room 
next to yours which was also driven back this far, the two of 
you would "pull the pillar." This meant beginning at the far 
end and bringing down the coal-wall between the two rooms. 

This was considered "easy" coal, as there were no corners to 
cut and the constant pressure of the roof caused the coal to 
fall as quickly as the clay was mined from under it. However, 
one needed good ears to hear the creaking and groaning of the 
coal, or it would "get you." 

Special clothing was a necessity. I wore short rubber 
boots and denim pants. Squares of old rubber inner tubes 
were sewn on the knees and the seat to protect from the 
roughness and the dampness. Since it was not cold in the 
mine, only an undershirt, or no shirt, was needed. It was only 
in the shanty on a zero morning when the pants had frozen 
stiff that it was really bad! Then, there was usually a fire in 
the shanty stove. Everyone also wore a cap with a carbide 
lamp mounted above the bill, as there was no other light in 
the mine. 

Besides the hard work there were always dreaded 
dangers in mining coal. Always, the roof might come in; a roof 
of sandstone was considered safest, but often times it was 
soapstone, which was always wet and fuU of seams. A loose 
stone could often be detected by sounding with a sledge 

I remember one instance when a general ring came over 
the neighborhood party telephone line. A neighbor lady who 
had expected her husband for lunch had run to the mine when 
he did not arrive. She found him pinned under a rock. I, 
among others, drove there quickly when she gave the alarm. 
He was pinned face down with his knees spread. The rock was 
about twelve feet long and two feet thick, so we had to 
"mine" under him to lower his body before pulling him out. 
He would have been killed had the rock not come to rest on 
his pile of mined coal. 

In another instance a man we knew was killed when he 
went back for a last car of coal which was under a loose rock. 
Another time, a young man was taken into the mine by his 
brother for his first time, and he was killed by a falling rock. 

One time I was wheehng coal for a co-worker, who was 
pulling a pillar. We could hear the rock behind us tearing and 

pinging as it settled. One evening, he said we should take out 
our tools. Next morning we found that indeed the roof had 
"come in." 

Even tools could be a problem. One time I accidentally 
struck the top of my foot with the point of the pick. I just 
pulled it out and went ahead working. By morning my foot 
was sore and swollen. It was several days before I could walk 
on it. Some said the points were poisonous. 

Another saying among miners was that one could not 
drink alcohol while working in the mines. The oxygen used by 
the body in burning up the alcohol left the miner short so he 
could see very poorly. 


Leota Lawton 

Oreo Dennis served his country during World War I. 
Returning to his parent's home in Augusta, Illinois, he began 
to help his father with the poultry and egg business. He also 
helped farmers to cull out their chickens. He and Marion 
Lawless were soon married and they settled in a small home 
in Augusta. Not too long afterwards he took over his father's 

His friends in the Chicago area then began asking him 
for dressed chickens. He and Marion would dress them. Then 
he would pack them in ice, put them in wooden boxes, and 
have them sent on the afternoon passenger train. They would 
be delivered the next day. More requests would come 
in— even from their Augusta friends. 

Oren then started a hatchery and hired Roy Alexander 
and John Fosdyck to help with running it. Business was 
growing so fast that he hired Ethel Phillips, Grace Moore, 
and Mary Elbe to help dress the chickens and help in other 
ways. He never advertised his products in a newspaper. It 
was done from mouth to mouth; his customers did the 
advertising for him. 

In the Depression year of 1932 he hit on the idea of 
canning chickens, but he didn't know how to start it. One 
morning when he was culling chickens for me, I told him that 
I would be happy to do it. So at the appointed time, I packed 
my pressure cooker, pint cans, lids, and sealer, and drove 
from my home near Plymouth down to his lovely home in 
Augusta. Marion, Oren, and I had a good time canning twelve 
cans of chicken that day. Several of these were given to 
friends to see how they liked them. 

Oren then ordered the necessary equipment, and the 
next year they canned 108 cans, giving them to other friends 
and grocers nearby. Positive results! 

The next problem was to build a cannery and to equip it 
with large pressure cookers, vats, and cans, and then to hire 
more help. While this was being done, Marion and Oren's 
sister, Ruth Worrell of Bowen with two other ladies, canned 
12,000 cans of boned chicken in the basement kitchen, using 
two kerosene stoves and five small pressure cookers. This 
took them six months. 

Oren's brother Ross did most of the dressing of seventy 
chickens every afternoon. Roy Alexander was the first 
travehng salesman for the family. He would pack 100 cases 
with twelve cans in each and drive to grocery stores and 
eating places and ask them to try out the Dennis Chicken 
Products. He kept doing this until he had covered most of the 
state. This was good advertising. 

Then customers began asking for canned turkey. So 
Oren started a turkey farm two and a half miles east of 
Augusta. Between 6,000 and 8,000 were raised the first year. 
A night shift of workers was started, and twenty-three 
women were hired, many driving long distances. Things were 
growing. And the U.S. Department of Agriculture was daily 
inspecting everything. 

Oren and his group had expanded so much that they 
incorporated and elected Paul as President and William 
Goodrich as Vice President. Later Eugene Cooper took his 
place. Paul then began to advertise their products in 

newspapers, and many large orders began coming in. Most of 
the products were sent to foreign countries to feed the needy. 

There were several brokers dealing with the company. 
One was Paul Beane, who lived near Boston, Mass. He and 
his wife came to Augusta to look over the equipment and 
became acquainted with me. Finding out that I was going to 
Boston soon, they invited me to visit them in their home. 
This I did and was taken down to Plymouth, Massachusetts, 
to see the old Mayflower and other historical things. It was a 
most enjoyable visit. 

The Dennis Chicken Products Company was finaUy 
shipping out two car loads of their products every two or 
three days. This continued until they sold out to Modern 
Foods, Inc. of Winter Haven, Florida. A large number of 
people in this area had been employed by the Dennis 
company, and they were sorry to see the plant close. 


Homer A. Canfield 

Like all the men in my day, I worked with horses. I 
worked for seventy-five cents or a dollar a day on farms 
around Rushville. I'd get up, do chores, feed the horses and 
the hogs, and then go in for breakfast. After eating, I 'd hitch 
the teams that we would need for the day's work. Sometimes 
it would be four or five, or maybe only two, depending on the 
work to be done. Maybe we'd plow with two in the morning 
and hitch four to a harrow in the afternoon and work the field 
down. There weren't any hoes like there are today. If you'd 
have seen one of them things back then, you'd thought the 
world was coming to an end. 

My first horse was a worker, but not a racer. About 
1918 1 bought a dark colored horse from a friend of mine. The 
horse was almost black and his name was Skip. He was a 
good road horse, not a draft horse. 

Sometimes two drivers would meet and challenge each 

other to a race. It was just a friendly challenge to see who had 
the best horse. On weekends, we'd go over to the little town of 
Ray. It was just a httle place that had a tile factory, but 
south of town there was a big hill and then a flat stretch of 
land. We'd race each other on that flat stretch. 

Then, Rushville was pretty busy country town of about 
two thousand people. I met my future wife, Nola Wainman, 
at a carnival in Rushville. I stiU had my horse. Skip, and a 
buggy when we met. That was in 1920. I took her for a ride on 
the Merry-Go- Round and then walked home with her and her 

I used to take my buggy and horse to pick her up on 
dates. One afternoon, it was in the spring, I came into town to 
get Nola. I stopped the buggy along LaFayette Street to let 
the horse get a drink of water. The tank of water was near the 
blacksmith shop, and when I had stepped out of the buggy, 
somebody in the shop started up one of those gasoline 

It made an awful racket and scared Skip. He jumped 
and ran away with my buggy. He took off through the church 
yard, and he hit some of the stones and skinned up some of 
the big maple trees. He broke my buggy to pieces before he 

It happened about as fast as you could snap your 
fingers. All I could do was stand there and watch where he 
was going and think how I would catch him. He name was 
Skip, and he really did that time! 

I had to put him in the livery barn for the night. My 
buggy was all broken up, so I stayed in town that night. It 
cost two bits to stay at the boarding house. The new buggy 
cost twenty-five dollars— a lot of money, but it is less than 
you'd pay for one tire now. 

Ill family Life 


The American family has undergone profound changes 
in the twentieth century, changes that have resulted from 
economic and social developments affecting fathers, mothers, 
children, and grand-parents. The shortening of the average 
work day and work week earlier in the century provided men 
with more time to spend with their families, and that, in turn, 
increased the direct impact of fathers on their children's 
lives. More recently, the need for a second source of family 
income and the improvement of job opportunities for women 
has led milhons of mothers into the nation's work force, 
thereby greatly reducing the time many of them spend with 
their family and calling for significant adjustments from 
husbands and children. With the consolidation of country 
schools after World War II, and increased farm 
mechanization, more rural children could participate in 
professionally supervised extracurricular activities. 
Youngsters were no longer so dependent upon the family 
alone for entertainment. And with the increased mobihty and 
economic independence of young couples, senior citizens have 
ceased to be closely involved with the lives of their children 
and grandchildren. Nursing homes are booming. 

Without question, the western Illinois family of decades 
ago, especially the rural family, was more of an 
interdependent economic unit than its present-day 
counterpart. While the father toiled long days in the field, the 
mother was busy with essential, time-consuming, home- 
based activities: cooking, washing, sewing, canning, making 
soap, tending the garden, etc. For most women, there was 
simply no possibility of pursuing goals that lay outside the 
direct interests of the family. And so, quite naturally, caring 
for her family and molding the lives of her children became 
virtually every woman's chief challenge and accomphshment. 
And children— often a half dozen or more— did assigned 
chores as soon as they were old enough: feeding the livestock, 
churning butter, gathering eggs, sawing wood for the 
fireplace or stove, and so on. For many youngsters, the 
amount of respect they received varied directly with the 
contribution they made to the survival of the family. 

Likewise, the respect of children for their parents came 
naturally, for father and mother were the main workers, upon 
whom the rest of the family was utterly dependent. And 
"first-hand knowledge of the work ethic" was not just part of 
the experience of rural children, as Edith Allison indicates in 
"Family Survival in the Good Old Days, " a memoir of her 
childhood. There was often work for all but the most feeble 
grandparents, too— giving them the essential feeling of self- 
worth that comes with making a contribution. 

Likewise, in this predominantly rural and small-town 
region, in a day before country clubs and bridge groups, 
entertainment was usually family oriented. Community 
events— picnics, box suppers, pie socials, parades, etc.— were 
intended for families, and at home, story-telling was not 
uncommon and celebrations often included family singing. 
Pianos and organs were commonplace in the homes of those 
who could afford them. Children learned traditional games 
that could be played by brothers and sisters of almost any 
age— including tag, hide and seek, fox and geese, and andy 
over. Passive entertainment, too, was more often than not a 
group experience, for when cabinet radios became popular, 
families gathered round them in the evening to hear Eddie 
Cantor, Amos and Andy, or Fibber McGee and Molly. Even 
when parents and children were doing different things, they 
were often together, especially in the long winter evenings 
when they shared the warmth of the cast-iron stove in a home 
that lacked central heating. 

All of this produced a great sense of closeness, not only 
between siblings but between one generation and another. 
Edythe H. Johnson's "My Family and the Swedish Baptist 
Church" and Lucille H. Irvin's "Winter Evenings in the 
Twenties" are especially effective memiors because they 
convey that quality and the joy which came with it. Because 
grandparents were often present, recaUing family members 
who had already passed away, children felt a sense of 
continuity, of belonging to something larger than the present 
moment. And as the closing reminiscences in this part of the 
collection — "Grandma" by Katherine Boden, and "I 
Remember Grandma" by Marion Lister Zejmowicz— so 
clearly reveal, grandparents often made an indelible 


impression on their grandchildren, although that was 
sometimes not fully realized until many years later. Perhaps 
the current interest in genealogy is an attempt to gain a sense 
of continuity that would have come naturally in a three- 
generation family unit. 

The memoirs in this section of Tales from Two Rivers I 
reveal how deeply the struggles and pleasures of family life 
molded the lives of young people in the very different world 
of decades ago, for these authors— these senior citizens— they 
were children then. 



Evangeline Dickhoener Norton 

We were seven members of a second generation 
German-Swiss family. Dad came to this country at the age of 
ten and became the second oldest of nine children whose 
parents left Germany to escape wars. They came directly to 
Quincy. Our mother left Bachenbulac, Switzerland at the age 
of eight and, boarding the steamship Labrador with her 
mother, brother John, and sister Elise, entrained to St. Louis. 
Here they were met by our grandfather Conrad Heusser, who 
took them to Moberly, Missouri and, finally, to Quincy. 

Dad and Mom met here and married, and the five of us 
spent our childhood here. Our parents spoke and wrote 
excellent English and German. Unhke our recent immigrants 
in the Southwest, their parents insisted they use the 
language of their new country. Mother, the oldest, was placed 
in the first grade because of the language barrier, but she 
learned rapidly. It seems ludicrous that the teacher of today 
should learn the foreign language instead of the child. No 
wonder the conformity of a rehgion as well as the retention of 
the native language sets our new immigrants apart. My sister 
and 1 were deprived of learning German at high school 
because it was forbidden. The war with Germany had 
intervened, and Mr. Langhanke, the German professor and 
father of the actress Mary Astor, was dismissed. I recall a 
professor at Macomb Normal Teachers College chiding me 
because I didn't learn German when I had such a good 

Living in the city with a few conveniences didn't seem 
to bother us. The cistern on the back porch, outdoor toilets, 
indoor potties, and wooden tubs which doubled for bath and 
laundry, were facts of our young lives. Then, too, there were 
those awful straw mattresses and the straw under the nailed- 
down bedroom carpet which often drifted out, to the chagrin 
of our Mom. 

Our kitchen was lit up by one of those eerie gas lights. 
Do you remember those fragile mantles which engulfed the 
flame? It could withstand excessive heat, but it couldn't be 
touched, and I accidentally proved this by bringing a football 

into the house, which was strictly forbidden. Alone in the 
kitchen, 1 kicked a bull's eye at that mantle and globe, much 
to my sorrow. 

In winter getting ready for school was a struggle. 
Sitting on the floor before the stove, we began our attack. 
The legs of our long underwear had to be lapped over and 
made smooth so the stocking could be drawn over. If one was 
lucky enough to find both shoes at once, there ensued a battle 
to get them on, and then to find a button hook to ensnare the 
long row of shoe buttons. The boys had laces. 

Vanity begins early in a girl's hfe, as evidenced by the 
fact 1 still remember a beautiful red plush coat my parents 
bought for me from the Sears catalogue. I ielt great the day I 
walked into Dewey School as a first grader. Though there 
were street cars. Mom had httle time to shop up town and the 
catalogue was revered by us youngsters. 

Reading was easy and I learned quickly. My teacher, 
Josephine Herleman, used the phonic method. I can close my 
eyes and still see the chart she used. On the sheet there were 
the telephone lines that illustrated the "1" sound. I was never 
able to identify with that sound as I walked along country 
roads and hstened to the hum of rural lines. The cows in their 
pasture mooed their "m" sound and a snake hissed for the 

When the family spent a year with our paternal 
grandparents, our youngest sister Dolores, too young to 
attend school, spent much time "talking" to our eighty-six 
year old grandpa who spoke only German. He derived so 
much pleasure from her company. I regret the rest of us 
didn't take time to communicate with him some way. He was 
a powerful man and had been a member of the Kaiser's elite 

In winter the front room was cold until company came. 
Then the low-flung wood stove was lit, sending out heat in 
concentric circles close-about it. Nothing was as fragrant as 
the scent of pine and oranges while the room slowly warmed 
up for five expectant youngsters waiting for the door to open. 
There isn't any sight that equals the Christmas tree 
resplendent in its shining glory with candles aglow on 
Christmas morning. That two beautiful china dolls were gifts 

from our aunt, that the sled called "Dreadnaught" had to be 
handed to Dad from the Parcel Post man outside the window, 
that Mom and Dad had decorated the tree: these were secrets 
divulged later. Mom always insisted we sing "Holy Night" 
("Stille Nacht") and other Christmas songs in German. That 
was her way of keeping our heritage. That was my favorite 
part of our Christmas ritual. 

In summer I Spy, Jump Rope, Steps, Hop Scotch, Run 
Sheep Run, Tag, and Pussy Wants a Corner enlightened our 
hves. We also spent hours cutting and pasting to show Red 
Riding Hood meeting the wolf in the woods inside a show box 
with a peep hole. Tying a string to the shoe box, we proceeded 
down the side walk with our Pinny Pinny Poppy Show, 
hoping for customers with a pin. 

Our brother Eugene loved the outdoors. One day while 
fishing he saw a shike poke wading about. He dived at it, 
grabbing its long legs. Sliding dangerously toward the marsh 
he managed to hold on to the bird's legs until it made gashes 
on his face. He had to give up, but he earned the admiration 
of his companions for being clever and quick enough to even 
get near to so elusive a bird. 

Dad often went around the sloughs in Missouri and 
Illinois near the river to hunt turtles. One time he went with 
Uncle Henry and cousin Carl. Dad had a steel rod about three 
and a half feet long to probe the edges of the water where 
turtle tracks were traced in the mud. He caught several large 
animals who showed great tenacity. 

Arriving home with his gunny sack of turtles. Dad put 
them on the back porch. In a short time there was a great 
squawking. Some chickens had walked across the sack and 
one unfortunate hen was caught by a turtle. With an audience 
of five frightened kids. Dad got a pair of pliers, and after 
great effort, released the shocked chicken. Somehow I felt so 
sorry for the turtle, but the turtle soup with its 
accompaniment of turtle eggs was a compensating treat. 

It was a special day, indeed, when we took the ferry 
from the foot of Broadway and paddled across to Sherman 
Park in Missouri. The huge paddle wheels fascinated us. In 
the park we moved quickly from one kind of equipment to 

another. The swings were our favorites. Dad always got in 
some fishing. 

On one outing I was assigned to watch the young fry to 
see that they stayed away from the water. At first, I thought 
it was impossible to watch so many, for the smaUest were the worst 
offenders. They have a duck-like affinity for water. Finally, in 
desperation I announced, "Now watch the great actor!" 
Then, taking hold of a branch overhanging the slough, I 
grabbed with both hands in preparation for a healthy swing. 
The branch broke and I went down to the water, too scared to 
utter a sound. Dad and his friend came running and pulled me 
out. I thought my arms would leave their sockets. I spent the 
rest of the day sitting on a tree stump drying out and feeling 
hke the most abused person in the world. The kids? They 
finally stayed quite inland, too scared to follow my act. 

Since our dad passed away while we were all in school, 
we had to contrive ways to substitute for the things we 
wanted. In earlier days everyone had a library table, but as 
we began to feel social pressures, we felt we had to have a 
coffee table for it was the latest fashion. So Henry solved the 
problem by cutting off a portion of the legs of the library 
table. We loved it. Henry brought it down from the attic this 
year to be used as a base for his Christmas tree. That 
conjures up wonderful memories. His beautiful pink marble 
top coffee table can compete only feebly with the veneration 
we share for the old short-legged library table. 

I have made four ship crossings over the Pacific to the 
Hawaiian Islands, where I lived for a time during the Second 
World War, and I have made two ship crossings over the 
Atlantic on Dutch liners to Europe, but today I derive much 
consolation from crossing the bridge to Missouri and 
watching the eternal flow of that great river which drew my 
parents to this part of the world from so far away. 


Edith Alva Allison 

Water Town was an older part of East Moline that had 
js its occupants many colored families who had been 

recruited from the South with promises of work. My father, 
James Rush, was among those black men who settled in 
Water Town. In regard to the community's name, Jim often 
told his children that he had fished in water that had stood 
high on the ground in the area where houses stood now. 

John Deere, that grand old company that still 
commands respect in this area, stood in all its majesty, 
spewing black smoke from its furnaces. Jim worked in the 
cupalo, hot steel spewing splashes of melted fire on him. He 
loved the work. And he had a reputation as one hell of an iron 
pourer. A day in the shop gave him a feeling of power, power 
for this black man who was the child of slaves. 

All the houses looked ahke, with a different color 
perhaps or a turn here and there. Very taD, two rooms 
upstairs and two rooms down. And a running water toilet in 
the basement. How the children did love that toilet! The big 
round stove that sat in the hving room gave heat for the 
house, and the upstairs was always toasty warm. The kitchen 
stove kept water hot in a side pocket and a hot pot of soup 
simmered on top of the woodburning stove. After work. Papa 
took the boys out in the truck to go get more wood. It was 
only ten dollars a load, all you could carry. House rent was 
$15.00 a month, and our large garden provided plentifully all 
year round. In the winter a large hole was dug in the ground 
for storage: butter, cabbage, coUards, potatoes, rutabagas, 
green beans, all the vegetables that would keep. I can almost 
smell the aroma that came from collard greens cooking all 
over the neighborhood, with salt pork, corn bread and apple 

The apples we children had picked from the orchard on 
Hampton. We all took our httle gunny sacks and filled them 
or put them in a wagon, a homemade wagon that the wheel 
kept coming off. But we made it home, helping each other, 
some eight or nine children. 

Those were the good old days, indeed, for we were not 
yet aware of all that went on in the world. We were helping our 
family to survive. Most of us had no time to get into trouble, 
for our folks were wise in giving us first-hand knowledge of 
the work ethic. 


Edythe H. Johnson 

My father, Niels Christiansen, came from Denmark 
when he was just a young man. He had been orphaned when 
he was ten years old. He went to Hve with his grandparents 
for a time, worked on a ship, and eventually came to America. 
He went to night school to learn to read and write the English 

My mother was Hilma Rydgren before she married my 
father. Four of her brothers and sisters came to this country 
to work before they went back to Sweden for the parents and 
youngest sister. Mama worked as a maid for two dollars a 
week until she met and married my father. They spent most 
of their married life on a farm seven miles south of 
Monmouth, Illinois. 

I went to church in Monmouth. My folks were charter 
members of the httle church called the Swedish Baptist 
Church. It was organized in 1888. As httle children, my 
mother and father took us to Sunday School and church. 
Once in awhile, when the weather was real bad, I would walk 
to church with my father. That was seven miles! Because 
they were real good church members, they didn't hke to miss 
their meetings. They were wonderful people, wonderful 
Christian people. I'm so thankful for the heritage I have. 

The chapel was on North E Street in Monmouth. It was 
just a frame building, but it is still standing. It is a dwelhng 
now. Later on, about 1925, they built a real nice building on 
North Sunny Lane. It was a good place, with new residents in 
a new part of town. 

At first I imagine there were about ten famiUes that 
were either Swedish or Danish that got together. They had a 
struggle to get back and forth to the meetings, as they all had 
such big families, but they remained true. When I first went 
to church and in the early years of the Swedish Baptist 
Church, the services were in the Swedish language. They 
finally had to change to EngUsh because so many couldn't 

speak or understand Swedish, but they started as a Swedish 
speaking church. My parents spoke some Swedish in the 
home and I learned some; I've always wished that I had 
learned more. 

Father at one time taught a Sunday School class, but 
Mother was too busy with the babies. She had eleven. They 
lost a boy at fifteen and a fifteen-month-old baby, so they had 
their sorrows. But they always took their sorrows to the Lord 
in prayer and received comfort. 

There was music in our home. We had a little organ that 
you pumped with your feet. My mother especially loved some 
of the old hymns. Sometimes in the evening, she would say, 
"Now girls, if you wiU go and play the organ and sing, I will 
do the dishes." And that suited us just fine, and we'd sing 
while she did the dishes. 

Some of her favorites were "Rock of Ages," "I Have a 
Friend, " and "A City Four-Square." I learned to sing "I 
Have a Friend" in both Swedish and English. The lyrics are: 

I have a friend who loveth me. 
He gave His life on Calvary. 
My sins upon the cross He bore, 
And I am saved forevermore. 
AUeluya! He's my friend, 
He's with me to my Journey's end. 
He walks beside me all the day 
And gives to me a crown some day. 

I remember there was a very good Sunday School 
teacher when I was ten or twelve years old. Her name was 
Mrs. Beda Landon Asplound. Her husband was the Reverend 
E. A. Asplound. The minister that married me was E. H. 
Oleson. (I married Arvid Johnson in 1916.) 

They had a baptistry in that first little church. My older 
brothers and sisters and I were baptized there. My younger 
sisters and brothers were baptized at the chapel on South 1st. 
I was thirteen or fourteen when I was baptized, and two or 
three others were baptized that same day. Reverend Peterson 

baptized me. Sometimes we would have special meetings, and 
maybe there would be several who would go forward and 
dedicate their hves to Christ. 

The highhght of the Sunday School year was the 4th of 
July picnic. We went to Cedar Creek and had home-made ice 
cream. The children always took part in a Christmas 
program, and at one time there was a ladies' quartet that 
performed special musical numbers. The choir usually sang at 
Easter services. 

In the winter, we went to church in a bobsled. Papa 
would put straw in the bottom of the bobsled and my mother 
would heat bricks to put at our feet. Then they'd put all kinds 
of blankets and covers over us. One time, we were going to 
the Christmas program and my father was driving the horses 
to the bobsled. I got so cold on the way to the Church that my 
parents thought I had frozen my feet but I had to speak a 
piece, so I had to be alright! They weren't frozen and I was 
able to give my part. 

Later on, my father brought a new double buggy, and 
we'd go to Church in it. It had a front seat and a back seat 
Just Uke an automobile. We thought when he got that new 
double buggy that we were really somebody riding in it. My 
parents didn't send us to Church; they went with us. That 
was the nice thing. The times we walked the seven miles were 
when it was just too bad to get there any other way. We went 
regularly and didn't like to miss. AU these years our Church 
has had prayer meeting on Wednesday night. It is now called 
the Immanuel Baptist Church, and they still have the 
Wednesday prayer meetings. I think they have been blessed 
for it. 

The Church was an influence in our daily Ufe, too. I can 
remember when we were httle children playing outside in the 
evening, we would hear the door open. Mama would call to us, 
"Come in! Papa is going to read to us from the Bible." We 
wouldn't want to quit playing, but in we'd go and he would 
read to us. Afterwards, we would have prayer together, with 
Mother or Father offering a prayer for the family. 


Esther Hollender 

Christmas at our house during the 1920's actually 
began on the day after Thanksgiving. While Mama was 
putting leftover turkey on the table, her thoughts were of the 
plans she was making for the Christmas baking. 

Although she was of Scotch-Irish ancestry, Mama 
readily accepted the German customs of my father's family. 
Among these traditions was the baking of German Christmas 
cookies— Springerle, Lebkuchen, and Pfefferneuse. Oh, the 
pungent aroma that came from Mama's kitchen on the day 
after Thanksgiving when she began mixing the Lebkuchen 
(or honey cakes). The deUghtful smell of honey, spices, citron 
and grated orange peel was almost too much for us children 
to resist. 

Lebkuchen is characterized by its almond on top of each 
cookie, and our job was to place that almond carefully in the 
center. After the cookies were baked, Mama would brush 
them Hghtly with a sugar glaze, making them sparkle hke a 
Christmas star. 

A few days later we would make Springerle— the most 
unusual of all German cookies, because it resembles a httle 
white pillow in shape with an embossed cameo-like design on 
top. This design was made by a springerle board, which has 
been handed down in our family for several generations. The 
designs of fruit, flowers, and animals were handcarved in 
Germany by my great grandfather. 

In those days we did not have electric mixers, so the 
eggs and sugar had to be beaten by hand for one sohd hour. 
This was Daddy's job, because his arm was the strongest. We 
little ones would gather around the chair as he sat holding the 
big mixing bowl, stirring with a rhythmic beat as he sang 
German folk songs to us. We watched as the eggs and sugar 
were transformed into a mountain of foamy, whipped 
creamlike batter. Then the delicious smell of anise filled the 
air as the drops of extract were put in. After the cookies were 

rolled, pressed, and cut into squares, they were left covered 
over night in pans on the kitchen table. 

In the morning the old black wood stove was heated to 
just the right temperature, and as the cookies baked they 
puffed up on top like mounds of snow. We children were 
allowed to taste only one or two cookies apiece that morning 
as they came out of the oven, fresh and warm. The rest were 
stored away in cannisters to "mellow" for the hohdays. It 
seemed that they became softer and better with age, and 
made welcome gifts for our friends and neighbors. 

Although the Pfefferneuse had ah-eady been made, they 
did not interest me because I found out the word meant 
"pepper nuts," and I was not fond of pepper. They do 
resemble walnuts in their size and shape. 

The excitement of Christmas would build up each day, 
until we were nearly bursting with excitement. Perhaps the 
reason why the cooking meant so much to us children was the 
fact that in the 1920's there was no television to watch, and 
our battery radio, which was handmade by our uncle, could 
only be heard by one person at a time on the set of ear phones. 
So there was no entertainment as fascinating for us as the 
Christmas baking— especially making the sugar cookies, 
which were saved until last. Bells, Santas, stars and 
snowmen, all sparkling with colored icing, were threaded with 
strings to be hung on the tree. 

On Christmas Eve we carried on another family 
tradition— oyster stew for supper. Although we never cared 
for oysters at any other time, they held special glamour on 
Christmas Eve. And, of course, the meal was completed with 
a heaping plate of Mama's cookies. 

Before our stockings were hung on that magical night, 
we would gather around the living room coal stove, with its 
reflection on the warm fire inside glowing through the panes 
of isinglass, and we would hear the story of the Christ child. 
Each of my three older brothers and I had prepared a poem to 

recite. One that I remember was very fitting for those days: 
See Johnny carry in the woods? 
My, but Johnny's being good. 
What makes Johnny seem so spry? 
It's only Christmas drawing nigh. 

After the stories and poems came the best part of 
all— the carols! Daddy, in his deep bass voice, sang "Stille 
Nacht" and "Oh, Tannenbaum" while we children tried to keep 
up with the words in German, and Mama, weary as she was 
from Christmas preparations, played the piano and sang in 
her sweet alto voice. 

Climbing into bed, we were filled with contentment and 
excitement over the big day to come— believing that St. 
Nicholaus would enter while we were asleep— bringing not 
only gifts but the Christmas tree as well. 

In the morning we rushed into the living room to find 
our toys— and to unload our stockings, filled with nuts, candy 
and an orange at the bottom. 

And, oh the tree! Our first glimpse of it— standing there 
in all its shining glory. There were no electric Christmas tree 
hghts, so Daddy would carefully light the little spiral 
candles— cUpped onto the tree in holders that came from 
Germany. (I often wonder how we escaped having a fire. 

On the tree there was a little cornucopia for each of us, 
and it held a special surprise. One year I received a tiny doll in 
a peanut shell; her eyes actually opened and shut. Another 
year, during the lean years, there was a small bottle of 
perfume wrapped in green crepe paper wrapping that came 
from a bar of PalmoHve soap. 

Children in those times— at least in our family— received 
only a few toys at Christmas, but we never tired of playing 
games and bundUng up to go out in the snow. While we tried 
out the new sled. Mama would prepare Christmas dinner. 
Sometimes she baked a goose which we had bought "on 
foot." I hated to see the goose killed for two reasons: it was 
sad to part with a pet, and I knew that the horrible goose 

grease would be saved to mix with turpentine and rubbed on 
our chests the next time we had a cold. But the taste of that 
bird would make up for the losses. 

Christmas night we were so exhausted we were ready to 
go to bed early— filled with mixed emotions over the thrill of 
the day, and of it's passing. As long as I can remember we 
were each given a dose of Syrup of Pepsin on Christmas night 
to "clear our systems" of the rich food we had eaten. And so 
ended the Christmases long ago. 

Does tradition play any part in our modern lives today? 
Any one who enters our house at Christmas will find that it 
lives on in our family. On Christmas Eve we will be sitting at 
our candle-lit table eating oyster stew, and yes, there will be a 
heaping plate of German cookies which we started making 
the day after Thanksgiving. 

After dinner, the children, grandchildren, grandmas and 
grandpas will be gathering near the brightly lit tree and 
singing Christmas carols— both in English and in 
German— and we'll pray that the Christ child will enter. But, 
as I play the piano for the singing, it will be difficult for me to 
see the notes because my eyes will become misty with the 
remembrance of those Christmases of long ago. 


Lucille H. Irvin 

The "Roaring Twenties" may have been just that for 
some people, but as I recall the winter evenings of my 
childhood, they were a quiet, peaceful time after the evening 
chores were finished. Evening chores in those days meant 
that, at the barn, all the horses, cows, and pigs were watered, 
fed, and bedded down for the night. Everything done by 
hand, without the benefit of electricity. The chickens had 
been fed and watered, and all the eggs gathered, sometimes 
from such strange places as the hayloft or under a shed as 
well as from the henhouse. Evening preparations at the house 

meant that the lamps had to be filled with kerosene and the 
lamp chimneys cleaned, ready to light as soon as it was dark. 
Enough wood to fill the woodbox had to be brought in and the 
coal bucket filled and brought in, as well as enough water to 
last the night. These tasks were shared by the family. 

When supper was over and the dishes washed, dried, 
and put away, we gathered in the dining room (the family 
room, as it is called today) because the base burner was there. 
This was a stove that used hard coal (anthracite) which 
burned with a beautiful blue-orange flame or glow, visible on 
three sides of the stove through a group or series of small 
isinglass windows. You were warmed just by watching the 
everchanging patterns of the flames as the coals burned to 
give a comfortable constant heat. The evening was spent 
around the dining room table, with the coal oil lamp in the 
center of the table so everyone had enough light to read the 
newspaper, magazine, or book of his choice. 1 don't remember 
a daily paper until later years. The country paper and the 
telephone were the sources of our news, but we had several 
farm and women's magazines. The Prairie Farmer was a 
necessary part of every farm household, and I looked forward 
each week to the cartoon of "Spud and SUm." However, 
Mother's magazines were my favorites because they had at 
least one page for children. The McCalls always had the page 
of "Dolly Dimple" paper dolls to cut out and dress, but the 
Delineator had a page to be torn out and made into a 
children's magazine of four pages, filled with stories, 
pictures, and puzzles. There were no children's magazines or 
cartoon books in those days. 

Of course, before I was old enough to read, both Mother 
and Dad read to me on winter evenings, and I heard stories 
over and over until I had them memorized. As I grew and was 
in school, there was home-work to do and school library books 
to read. Dad and I spent lots of time around that dining room 
table working on the multiplication tables, which he insisted 
I must learn and I was sure that I never could. 

We also had exciting evenings when we went to visit 

some of our neighbors. The car had been drained (before the 
days of Prestone) and put away for the winter because the 
muddy roads in those days were not conductive to winter 
driving and side-curtains didn't keep out the cold. You didn't 
hitch up the horses that had worked during the day just to go 
to a neighbor's house a mile or so away. You walked. After 
bundling up in our layers of warm winter clothes, we trudged 
off in the snow down the road, climbed the fences, and went 
across the field. Sometimes we carried a lantern, but usually 
not, because our eyes soon adjusted to the darkness. It was 
exciting and so beautiful— the hum of the telephone wires in 
the cold, the crunch of the snow beneath your feet, and the 
stars so very bright overhead. You felt that you could almost 
reach up and touch them. If the moon was shining, 
everything took on an entirely new look, with the light and 
shadows changing familiar things into a strange new world. 

The neighbors always met us at the door with a happy, 
warm welcome, insisting that we bring our boots in to warm 
behind the stove. After exchanging news and pleasantries of 
the day the menfolks usually settled down in the kitchen to 
play Pitch, while the women visited, exchanging recipes and 
gossip— not necessarily in that order. As I remember, the 
walk home was never as much fun because it was bedtime, 
and we were tired and sleepy. The snow seemed a bit deeper. 

Winter evenings were similar in other households. 
Sometimes my parents left me with my grandparents, who 
lived in town. They also sat around the dining room table, but 
instead of the coal oil lamp, they had one ceiling fixture in the 
middle of the room. (As a rather interesting side note along 
this line, my grandmother's light bill never ran over the 
minimum one dollar a month. Can you imagine that in this 
day and age? You must realize that she had only one light 
fixture in the ceiling of each room, no outlets in any room, and 
an electric iron was the only appliance that she owned, so she 
enjoyed very few of the advantages of electricity compared to 
modern day use.) 

My grandfather died when I was just seven years old so 

I don't remember him too weU, but I do recall him peehng 
apples for us. Grandmother saw to it that a dozen or so apples 
were in a certain small pan, along with a sharp knife, and were 
on the dining room table each night. (These were homegrown 
apples from the farm orchard, which were by the crateful in 
the cellar.) Grandpa would take the apple from the pan and 
very carefuUy start peeling round and round the apple so the 
peeling came off in one long, thin strand. Then your apple was 
ready to eat, and you had best eat every bite of it. Grandpa 
continued to peel apples for everyone round the table until we 
had all we wanted. 

These were the days before radio, and with that new 
invention came a whole new world, but that is another story 
for another time. 


Nellie F. Roe 

My memories take me back to when I was a child 
growing up in the twenties. I was the middle child in a family 
of seven children. My father died when I was eight years old 
so we got a head-start on the Depression by several years. 
Picture, if you will, a row of identical four-room houses where 
grass and shrubbery had long ago given up trying to grow. 
The only privacy to be had was to retire to the "Out-house" in 
back, and even that didn't always work since it was a "two- 
holer." An occasional Model T or Maxwell "chugged" along 
the dusty road in front, trains "whistled" or "puffed" along 
the railroad tracks in back, and a town "dump" was close by 
with a wealth of unsanitary (we didnt know it then) play 

Some of the games we played stand out in my memory, 
and I'll attempt to describe a few that we enjoyed most. 
Many were original but all had at least two things in 
common: they cost nothing and were played just for fun. You 

stopped when you got tired or it got dark, whichever came 

Street Cars 

This game encouraged any latent artistic abilities. You 
"rounded up" an old shoe box and scraps of colored tissue 
paper. After cutting out squares around the sides and ends of 
the box for "windows," you pasted the tissue paper over 
them on the inside of the box. Then a stub of candle about an 
inch high was anchored firmly in candle wax in the center of 
the box and a string tied to one end. The center of the lid that 
would fit over the candle was then cut out. When it got dusk, 
you ht the candle, put the lid on, and puOed it up and down 
the sidewalk. The more street cars there were, the more fun it 
was. The light shining through the tissue paper was a pretty 
sight— or so we thought. 


One of the major toy companies had a plastic version of 
this toy, but I'm sure half the fun was in making them and 
the "clatter" they created. You started with two sturdy 
empty tin cans the same size, turned them over and punched 
two holes on the top edges opposite each other. We used a 
hammer and a spike nail to make the holes. You then found a 
heavy wire, cut it the right length, and inserted the two ends 
through the holes, leaving a loop of wire on top long enough 
to be easily grasped with your hands when you stood on the 
cans. After adjusting to fit, you twisted the two ends of the 
wire together so they would not pull through the holes and 
pushed them up into the can. Then you stood on the cans, 
pulled up on the wire handles and took off. We became very 
proficient as to going up and down steps and even doing a 
little "jig" now and then. 


This is one game where the one who was "it" had the 
most fun. He thought of a certain color and stood in front of a 


row of players with a cup of water that had a teaspoon in it 
"poised" for action. One by one, the players guessed the color 
of his water— with mixed emotions. If they guessed the color 
he was thinking of. they got a teaspoonful of water in their 
face, but then they got to be "it". This game would gather 
momemtum, as there was always some "joker" who had 
trouble judging a teaspoonful, and there was not any way of 
proving "it" didn't change his color until he reached the right 
person. Recommended for hot weather and old clothes! 

"Nosey" Poker 

1 have always suspected this game was the brainchild of 
a "diabolical" older brother since he always seemed to win. It 
had nothing to do with poker. It was played like ordinary 
"Rummy," with one notable exception. The one who won had 
the privilege of taking as many cards as the other players had 
left and flipping them across their noses the same number of 
times. I always seemed to get caught with a fistful. 
Strange— big noses seem to run my family! 

Ah, the bittersweet memories of the games we played! 
There were many of them, but I grow weary just thinking of 
all that expended energy and the skinned knees and stubbed 
toes that were part of my childhood. Would I want those days 
back for my grandchildren? 


Edna Williams 

"Now," said Mother, as she seated her five small 
children around the square and battered dining-room table, 
"I want all of you to hsten with both ears. I am going to tell 
you just once more about the comet we are going to see 

So she repeated slowly and carefully all the information 
she had been able to gather about Halley's comet. I feel sure 
that for weeks she had combed every newspaper and 

encyclopedia she could lay her hands on. She was not given to 
doing things half-way, and if she had made up her mind that 
her children were going to see the comet, then they should 
know all she could find about it. 

Mother must have been very adept in passing this 
information on to us. In language we could understand, she 
told us much of what to expect. She said that many people 
had a terrible fear of Halley's comet. They felt it was a 
warning of great trouble coming to visit the earth. Some felt 
it would hit the world and destroy it. Others thought it would 
use up all the oxygen from the air, while there were those who 
said a great sickness would visit the earth. There were even 
those, she told us, who gathered food and water and 
barricaded themselves in caves, thinking they would thus 
escape the terrible things the comet would surely bring. 

It was not until I was grown that I realized how 
carefully she must have told us all this. As far as I know, 
none us felt fear, only anticipation and excitement that was 
almost unbearable. 

So after she had gone over everything slowly and 
carefully, she said, "Now off to bed with you and go right to 
sleep. Late in the night, I will wake you and take you to the 
orchard with me and we will all see Halley's comet. I think 
you will hke to watch it moving through the sky." 

And I remember so well Grandmother saying, "Now, 
Mary, aren't you being a mite fooUsh? Those children will aO 
be so sleepy that come morning they won't remember a thing 
that they watched." 

I was greatly worried. Would Mother listen to 
Grandmother and leave us to sleep the night through? I need 
not have fretted. Mother was a very determined lady so late 
that night she herded five sleepy, stumbling offspring to the 
orchard and stationed us on a slope to watch. And this was 
one time that Grandmother was wrong— so very wrong, 
because seventy years later, I can still see that gorgeous 
creature of magic blazing its way across the sky, trailing 
behind it an unbelieveably long and beautiful tail. From now 

back through all the years, I recall a feehng of awe. I was 
much too young to comprehend aU 1 was seeing. 

That was in 1910. 1 wonder if I wiU still be around to see 
Halley's comet when it appears in 1986. I wonder if an old, 
old woman, hkely by then leaning on two stout canes, will 
slowly make her way to the same orchard slope to take the 
place of the five-year old girl who stood there in such 
wonderment and witnessed a miracle fresh from the hand of 


Mildred M. Nelson 

It was the summer of 1932. We were still in the 
Depression years and rnoney was a scarce item. People who 
had money did not trust the banks, and so they either hid 
their "dough" around their homes or they buried it in some 
secret place. Although we were a poor family, my sister and 1 
buried some"dough" in a secret place one day too. 

I was the oldest of a family of eight children and quite 
strong for a thirteen-year-old girl. That was probably why 
quite often it was my job to make the bread for the family. It 
took strong arms to knead the large batches of bread dough. I 
could also throw a forty-eight-pound sack of flour over my 
shoulder and walk the three or four blocks from the Pittenger 
Grocery Store in Tennessee, Illinois, through the town park 
to our house. The bag of flour cost about $1.10 in 1932. That 
was just about what my father earned in a ten-or twelve-hour 

We usually baked bread two or three times a week and 
so we used a lot of flour. This flour came in white cotton bags, 
and my Mother certainly put these sacks to use. She made 
aprons, pillow cases, handerchiefs, dish towels, and even 
underwear from them. 

To make our bread, we used what we called an 
Oklahoma Starter. This was a yeast mixture which was 

divided into two parts. One part was put aside for the next 
time bread was made, and the other part was used for the 
bread that was being made that day. Water, salt, sugar, flour, 
and other ingredients were added. The dough was kneaded to 
the right consistency, placed in a greased crock or pan, 
covered with a dish towel and put in a warm place to rise. 
Then the dough was worked down, formed into loaves and 
allowed to raise again. If the dough did not raise enough to be 
baked by meal time, small pieces of dough could be pinched 
off, stretched, and fried in hot fat until brown. This was a 
delicious substitute for bread. 

On this particular summer day there was going to be a 
girl's Softball game over on the railroad grounds. My eleven- 
year-old sister, Irene, was to do the dinner dishes, and 1 was 
to mix and knead the bread dough. Then we could be on our 
way to this big ball game. My Mother had fixed the yeast 
mixture with the right amount of water and other ingredients 
and left the pan on the kitchen table. She took some of our 
younger brothers and sisters and went outside to do some 
garden work. While 1 was scrubbing my hands and cleaning 
my fingernails in preparation to mix the bread, my sister 
began clearing the dinner dishes from the table. Without my 
knowing about it, she accidently dumped the left-over water 
from aU the water glasses and vinegar from the wilted lettuce 
that we had for dinner into the yeast mixture pan. 

1 had nothing but the ball game on my mind. I paid no 
attention to the large amount of Uquid with the floating 
pieces of lettuce in the pan. I just started throwing in flour 
and more flour. Finally I had the dough stiff enough to start 
kneading it. It seemed hke I just had to keep adding more 
and more flour. Occasionally, 1 did remove a piece of lettuce 
from the dough, but I guess I just thought a little lettuce 
won't hurt anyone. Soon I had a huge pile of dough. I 
wondered why in the world my Mother had to have such a 
large batch of bread made on this particular day when we 
wanted to hurry up and get to that ball game! 

About this time my Mother came in from the garden. 


She took one look at the pile of dough and almost went into 
hysterics. She became even more upset when she spied the 
pieces of lettuce protruding from the mass of dough. What in 
the world had we done to get such a pile of dough and where 
did the pieces of lettuce come from? My sister finally 
admitted that perhaps she had put the "slobbers" from the 
water glasses and the vinegar from the wilted lettuce in the 
wrong pan! 

We begged Mother not to tell our Father. We knew that 
he had to work very hard to provide for his large family and 
we had wasted a lot of flour. She finally agreed to keep our 
secret, but we would not be going to the ball game and we 
would have to dispose of all that dough. 

There was an old floorless slaughter house on our 
property which was not in use anymore. We decided that 
would be the ideal place to hide the evidence. We dug a deep 
hole, dumped in the pile of dough, and covered it with the 
black soil from inside the building. We felt much better about 
the whole thing just to get that dough out of sight. 

The next morning when we entered the old building, we 
could not believe our eyes! The hot summer night had caused 
the dough to raise and it looked liked a big pile of vanilla ice 
cream with chocolate topping. Well, there remained only one 
thing to do. We had to get rid of that evidence again. With 
boards we pushed the dough back down in the hole. Again we 
covered it with soil but this time we also placed boards and 
bricks on top. 

My Mother did keep our secret, and it was many years 
before our Father finally found out about "the day we buried 
the dough." 


Virgie Mead 

I was about a year old when my family moved back to 
Illinois. They hved on a farm about a mile west of Carman 

which was owned by my grandfather, William H. Marsden. I 
spent all of my childhood on this farm. The house we lived in 
had been originaUy built as a hotel by my great-grandfather, 
Thomas Marsden. He came from England and was one of the 
pioneer settlers of Shokokan, as the community west of 
Carman on the Mississippi River was known. Shokokan had 
been quite an active river landing in my great-grandfather's 
day. Steamboats stopped there and travelers stayed over at 
his hotel. When they built the dam at Keokuk, it shot the 
water around to Burlington, and the big boats couldn't land 
at Shokokan any more. 

When my grandfather retired from farming, my parents 
took over the farm and we hved in the old hotel. It was a 
wonderful house for us children to grow up in. There were six 
bedrooms upstairs and two down. My sister and I shared one 
of the upstairs rooms and my brother slept across the hall. 
My parents' room was downstairs. We were glad that the 
house was so large and we could have all the kids in the 
country when we had a school party. 

Also on the farm was the old office building for the 
lumber business that my great-grandfather had owned. It 
was a few hundred feet west of the house, along the lane to 
the barns and livestock area. There was a big sign across the 
front that said "Office." The one-room building was 
weathered and no longer used as an office, so it became my 
playhouse. Of course, the other children played too, but it 
was mostly my playhouse. 

In the office was a large bank, or safe that great- 
grandfather used for his lumber business. It was a box type 
safe and was always locked. No one in our family ever knew 
the combination. We did not know what was inside, but none 
of the family ever tried to open it and find out. 

I used the safe for a table in my playhouse. I had my 
dishes and little kettles, hke anyone would have, setting on it. 
There were shelves on some of the walls, and that old office 
just made a wonderful playhouse. 

One night in the late 1890's when I was about six or 


seven, there was a terrible storm. My sister slept through the 
storm, but I was always afraid of them, so when I heard this 
large boom of thunder, I jumped out of bed and ran 
downstairs to my parents. They soothed me and convinced 
me the storm was about over and sent me back to bed. 

The next day when I went back to my playhouse at the 
old office, I opened the door and discovered papers scattered 
all over the floor. The front of the safe was jagged and torn 
and my little dishes were all around the room. It was a mess! 
Someone had blown up the bank, and that was the loud 
"thunder" I heard during the night. 

I ran to tell my parents what I'd seen. I think my exact 
words were, "The bank fell apart!" Pretty soon it was news 
all over the neighborhood. Of course, that was a sight, and 
everyone wanted to see the blown-up bank. 

Years and years ago, they had a very likable sheriff. Bob 
McDill, but whether he was sheriff at that time, I just can't 
say. I don't even know if they took fingerprints or anything, 
but I do know they never apprehended anyone. Apparently 
someone thought there was money in the safe and used 
nitroglycerin to open it. It was too heavy to readily move it 
out of the building, so they just blew it apart. If they found 
any money, they got away with it. There were only papers 
scattered around when I found it. We never had any inkling 
as to who did it. 

The whole neighborhood was excited about the bank 
being blown-up and they came from all over to see it. 
Eventually things calmed down and we cleaned the office. I 
tried to rearrange my little broken dishes, kettles and things 
that I had. I continued to use the wrecked safe for a table and 
the office for my playhouse until I outgrew such things, but 
even now, the picture of that blown-up bank is as vivid as it 
was when I was seven years old. 


Iva I. Peters 

Many things can bring back a memory. Quite often a 
melody can bring back a flood of memories long forgotten. 
Recently, I heard a poem that I learned as a child and 
surprised myself by still being able to recite most of it, even 
though it had not entered my mind in years. Likewise, a 
memory can bring back many things, and for me this is 
particularly true in the sense of smell. So many of the smells 
that stand out in my memory are no longer available. Some 
were seasonal, and some were year round. My earliest 
memory of awareness of an everyday smell was the fresh 
aroma of home-made lye soap with which my mother washed 
and boiled our bed clothes. How marvelous to be tucked into 
a bed freshly dressed with fresh laundered sheets and cases 
which had dried on an outdoor line in God's sunshine and 
breezes. Even as a child, I recall the sense of well-being that 
came with a bath and fresh smelling clothes. 

Most of the smells, however, which bring back 
memories are of a seasonal nature. Springtime brought such 
delightful smells after the closed-in heavy smells of winter. 
My mother was a great harvester of "greens," and in early 
spring we had an abundance of dandehons, dock, mustard 
and lambs quarter. These were cooked together for hours 
with a little water and bacon grease, and were presumably 
good for one's blood which had "thickened" through the 
winter. Likewise, the tea from the sassafras root gathered 
from the woods. Both sassafras and greens produced an 
aroma when cooking that was almost intoxicating to one who 
loved them as I did. Quite a different springtime smell was 
that of the wild flowers on the hillsides north of our house in 
west Schuyler County. Fragrances from the violets, sweet 
wiUiams, and, of course, the "pansy hill." Quite often, we 
would step on and crush a plant we called the "penny royal," 
which gave off an aroma exactly like a doublemint gum 
factory. My favorite spring smell close by our house was a 

huge lilac bush which I loved. Also, there was an old 
fashioned yellow rose that was a dehght to sniff but too 
thorny and unfriendly to pick or arrange in a bouquet. My 
parents always had a small fruit orchard, including peach, 
apple, pears, and cherry trees. This orchard was a fair land of 
bloom amid a mantle of perfume around early May. It was in 
this area my brother and I did most of our playing. AD these 
springtime smells delighted my senses, and I can still recall 
dreading that it would be a whole year before they came 

Summer soon followed and brought a new array of 
smells. One that I loved best was a field of clover hay in full 
bloom— a rare sight today. Riding in a car at night without 
even seeing it, one always knew when a clover field was in 
bloom with the wonderful fragrance heavy in the night air. 
And strangely, it was no less wonderful after it was cured and 
in the barn. The fresh smell drowned out all the unpleasant 
odors associated with the old barns. In any season, there is a 
nostalgia in old barns, especially where horses were kept. 
There was an aroma peculiar to horses and the leather 
harness hanging from the hooks. Even the grain stored in the 
small bins in the barn contributed to the feeling of weU-being. 
Early into summer we began harvesting from the strawberry 
bed and the fruit trees. Later on, we gathered gallons of wild 
berries from the woods which are now almost extinct. What 
can surpass these fragrances, either raw or while cooking? 
Chemistry has not yet perfected the additives that we have 
become so used to, that make preserving them easier but 
somehow robs them of the genuine smell and taste of the 
fruit. The same is true of the freshly harvested vegetables. 
The smell of new peas or beans cooking is quite enough, but 
to have the bonus of eating them is almost too much! Those 
who have never cooked or eaten these fresh fruits and 
vegetables have missed one of life's delights. Another 
summer smell and taste that is almost forgotten is 
sauerkraut made in a huge stone jar. My sisters and I took 
turns "stamping" the fresh cut cabbage with a wooden 

instrument. Layered with salt, and put away in a dark cool 
place with weights on top, it became "cured" after several 
weeks. In due time it became kraut— crisp, white, and tangy, 
with a smell that makes my mouth water as I think about it. 

Autumn also brought its scents, although perhaps 
fewer than the other seasons. The smell of burning leaves 
and the nostalgic smell of wood smoke, helping to take the 
chill off of the first frosty mornings. These are smells we may 
still enjoy today, although automatic heat and government 
standards have made them more rare, and in some areas even 
illegal. My most vivid memory of an autumn smell was the 
extraordinary privilege of living near a sorghum mill. The sap 
from the cane was extracted and boiled in a series of vats, 
causing the high clouds of steam to drift about the area. 
After many boilings, it was finally thick, dark, delicious 
sorghum. Any crisp fall morning, all the air around our home 
was permeated with that tantalizing fragrance, although the 
mill was at least one half mile from our home. It is a pleasant 
memory, held only by a minority privileged to live near a 
sorghum mill. The country school house was also nearby, and 
the mill was the favorite stopping place for the students, who 
loved to chew on the cane or help themselves to the foam that 
had been skimmed off the boiling syrup. 

Also, en route to school was a tiny country store. It was 
very old and the floor was made of very wide boards, wavy 
with age. It was the social center of the neighborhood, where 
farmers came and sat on nail kegs around a huge coal burning 
stove as they swapped the news of the day. This place, too, 
was unique in its smells. It was a day when everything was 
not canned or pre-packaged, and so consequently the store 
was filled with many and varied aromas. There were spices, 
apples, kraut, rope, binder twine and leather halter, all kinds 
of assorted merchandise packed into one small area. Many of 
the foods were in barrels, while cured meats and haunches of 
dried beef were sometimes suspended from the ceihng. 
Bananas also hung from the ceiling, from what seemed to be a 
branch of the tree. The country store is gone, as are the nail 


kegs and the pot bellied stove, and the smell of the exposed 
food in a less germ conscious age are only a memory. 

The smells of autumn finally gave way to winter, when I 
came to appreciate the honest aromas from my mother's 
kitchen. Several times a week when I came home from school 
the smeU of baking bread greeted me. What is more 
tantalizing than that? Nothing, unless it was accompanied by 
smells that surrounded butchering days. Outside in the back 
yard my father would be rendering lard in a large iron kettle. 
Clouds of steam filled the yard. Inside mother would be 
preparing home stuffed sausage to can. She did this in large 
bread pans in the oven, later sealing in gaDon containers. 
Coohng on the table would be eight loaves of that tempting 
bread made with Oklahoma Starter and Town Crier flour. All 
the mothers I knew in those days were divided into two 
camps: those who baked with Town Crier and those who 
baked with Mother's Best. She would cut us a shce off one of 
those loaves, and we would wrap it about one of those hot 
plump sausages. This was the ultimate in an after-school 
snack, and nothing has smelled or tasted so wonderful since. 

The winter smell that lingers with me most vividly, 
however, is the smell of oranges. This occurred, of course, 
only on Christmas, because parents of eight growing children 
did not indulge in such luxuries except at Christmas. Even 
today, the smell of an orange reminds me of those long ago 
Christmas mornings, when the aroma that filled the room 
was almost as wonderful as the gifts that were hidden in the 
branches of the cedar tree cut in our woods. 


Ethel Jenkins Wetterling 

My father, Lewis B. Jenkins, was a cabinet maker in Terre 
Haute, Henderson County, Illinois. He was bom in 1840 in New 
Jersey and moved to Illinois when he was seventeen. He and his 
parents and brothers came to Burlington, Iowa by railroad and 

to Terre Haute by ox cart. They are all buried in the Terre Haute 
Cemetery. Daddy came from a family of wagon makers, and it 
was through this that he learned his trade. 

He was known by everyone as "Daddy Jenkins." Partly it 
was because he lived to be such an old man and lived in that little 
town such a long time, and partly it was because he had ten 
daughters. My twin sister, Edith, and I were the yoimgest. My 
older sisters were handy with the household chores and could 
quilt and sew, but I liked to go with my father. 

Daddy served in the Civil War. He didn't like to talk about 
it much, but on his birthday, we would get five or six of the other 
veterans who lived within driving distance to come and visit with 
him. After the War, he returned to Illinois and married Melinda 
Josephine Hubbard, who came from Indiana. 

It is hard to believe it now, but Terre Haute once had two 
stores, a post office, two doctors, a barber shop, a millin er, a 
blacksmith shop, a harness shop, and two churches. At one time, 
five of my sisters sang in the church choir. 

Daddy owned the blacksmith shop building and had his 
cabinet shop on the second floor. It was a big two-story building 
with a good many windows. The boards were weathered and not 
painted, but he kept everything neat and clean inside. There was 
a large door on one end of his shop with a wooden ramp that 
reached the groimd. When he finished making a wheel for a 
wagon or a carriage, he would lower it down the ramp to the 
ground and the blacksmith would take it and put the iron on the 
rim. A Mr. Peasley was the blacksmith for a time. In later years 
Daddy didn't work on wagon wheels and such, and the 
blacksmith shop was in the other end of town. 

When he first started his business. Daddy made coffins. 
People from all over the country would come to his shop to get a 
coffin when there was a death in the family. They didn't take 
bodies to funeral homes in those days. Daddy had white lining 
and braid for a baby's coffin and black for an adult's. 

In later years, he was more of a cabinet maker and made 
things like desks, stools, plate racks, and what-not shelves. He 
was really famous for his hope chests. He made cedar chests by 
the dozen. They were quite the rage and they went all over. He 

would go to Burlington for his lumber and bring it back to the 
shop to work on it. As he got older and not able to work quite so 
hard, he had a little shop built in the back yard at our house. The 
old shop was about a block from our home. 

He would get up early and go to work. He didn't seem to 
have one favorite thing to work on, but just enjoyed all his work. 
Sometimes a customer would give him an idea as to how he 
wanted a desk or chest and Daddy would work it up. He did his 
work by hand; he even had a hand lathe. 

Daddy didn't spank us children, but you knew when he 
wanted something done. He was not a big man. He had blue eyes 
and a short beard. He whistled as he worked and people would 
stop to visit with him in his shop. 

As I said, he kept his shop very neat and clean. He would 
let us get a little hammer or something, but we had to put it back 
in the same place. Daddy would fill a bushel basket with wood 
shavings and chips and pack in downstairs from his shop. My 
twin sister Edith and I would carry it to the house for our mother 
to use as kindling. 

I am very proud of my father; he was a good man. He lived 
to be 102 years old. 


Mary W. Heitzig 

The fire engine clanged around the corner on two 
wheels. Suddenly the engine slowed and the bell stopped 
ringing as the fire chief shouted, "Come on P. J. Your house 
is on fire!" P. J., undisturbed, replied, "Go ahead, boys, you 
can do more than I can. I'll be there after while." It was 
Saturday night, and Pop, always calm, had more important 
business. Of course, by the time he arrived home, the fire out; 
everything was quiet, as everybody was exhausted from the 
hysteria of the previous hours. Even though Pop had to sleep 
in a different room— his room was burned out— he did go to 
bed, and he was the only one in the family who slept that 
night. He had neither questioned nor sympathized, but had 

quietly surveyed the damage, found another room, said his 
prayers, and gone to bed. 

Pop had the same composed personality with citizens of 
the community that he had at home with his wife and 
children. He could calm a frustrated bank cashier or a 
bankrupt farmer as easily as he could an upset child. On 
many occasions, he personally "staked" a young farmer or 
business man at the edge of despondency or bankruptcy if he 
felt that the man had character. His only request was that 
the recipient should repay when possible or forget it as he 
would a gift. Those emergency loans and/or gifts were never 
recorded, but they were made known many years later by 
grateful mourners at his funeral. 

Pop was a city farmer and a country banker. Although 
he Lived in Jersey, a small town, he was more "country" than 
banker in appearance and temperament. On one occasion 
when it was necessary for him to see the president of a large 
metropolitan bank, an unwary office girl almost lost her 
position when she announced to her employer that a 
"hayseed" from Jersey had been trying to see him for two 

P. J.'s only expensive item of clothing was shoes, but he 
was never seen wearing new shoes. He always had a brother- 
in-law or a country cousin wear them until they were shabby 
enough to be comfortable. His blue serge suits always had the 
glow of long wear on the seat and sleeves. We spent many 
hours at the ironing board steaming his shiny suits with 
vinegar. I have understood in more recent years that his idea 
was to give the impression of, or literally to be, a "shining 
example" of conservatism. This conservatism was shown, not 
only in his attire, but in everything he possessed and 
everything he executed. 

During the post- World War I years and years of the 
Depression, he had the most solid bank in the state, 
according to the examiners' reports. The surplus and 
undivided assets were enormous. He had seen the market 
crash coming and was prepared for it. At the time of the bank 


moratorium in 1929, his bank was one of the few that 
survived. This was attributed, partly, if not altogether, to P. 
J.'s reputation of conservatism and reliability. His sincere 
manner in dealing with the common "dirt" farmer was the 
same as that he employed with a representative of Federal 
Reserve or Chase National Bank. 

He was always prompt. He was always at the bank 
exactly thirty minutes before the doors were to be opened, 
and he left exactly thirty minutes after the doors were closed. 
Occasionally, he stopped along the street to exchange 
civilities or possibly to make a livestock transaction. 

After banking hours, he always drove the country to 
make a survey of crops and to check soil fertility; he often 
came home with three or four handkerchief full of dirt into 
which he put a few grains of seed. He kept these soil samples 
carefully labeled and watered on top of the warming oven in 
the kitchen stove. That spot was reserved for the agricultural 

The laboratory never bothered anyone until he once 
tried adding natural fertilizer. At that point. Pop, who was 
always the "king of his castle," was nevertheless ordered to 
find new quarters for this farm laboratory or Umit the 

With farms consisting of over one thousand acres of 
land, he had a large-scale farming operation that he 
considered as outside activity. He had no farm 
manager— only hired hands. This required daily contact and 
good labor-management relations. One of Pop's platitudes 
was, "A good man is worth a little more." His attitude 
toward his farm hands was always firm but kind and 

In the summer when the days were long, he always went 
to the country in the evening to, this time taking the whole 
family or all those who were too little to do anything else. We 
were allowed to get out and play while he checked the crops or 
livestock. Some evenings we had to stay in the car in the 
middle of a cattle or pig-pen, with manure smell making our 

eyes water. The stench was even worse when Pop returned to 
the car, but no one ever remarked about it, as it was 
considered vulgar to discuss odors. 

On Saturday nights we didn't go to the country, as the 
farmer's came to town to "catch up" on the week's news and 
business while the wives did their week's shopping. More 
livestock and money changed hands on those Saturday 
nights than during the whole week. Our small-town Main 
Street was a veritable Wall Street without ticker tapes or 
white collars. Pop was always there, ready to buy pigs, cows, 
horses, or hay that anybody offered as a bargain. He also 
carried on banking business there on the street, arranging for 
loans or deposits to be made the following week. 

He was always noted for picking up bargains when 
others thought the stock (live or otherwise) was worthless, 
when the seller was over-stocked or was short of feed or 
money. Even my mother was one of his alleged "bargains." 
She had been a country school teacher when he found her on a 
hillside, bargain-hunting tour (according to him). 

In the evening just before bedtime, he did his book-work 
in the midst of family bedlam, as one of us practiced piano 
while others worked on school homework. We dehberately 
saved our piano practice and studying until Pop was at home, 
as he obviously respected us for any integrity we could 
manage to show. 

It was necessary to confine all conversation to serious 
discussion. Meal-time conversation always consisted of a 
symposium on the day's intellectual accomphshments, even 
though none of us was intellectually incUned. Discussion of 
comics and gossip were taboo. One evening at dinner. Bill, a 
younger brother, was excited about the action of a comic- 
strip character, Elmer Tuggle. In his enthusiasm, he asked 
the opinion of Ted, another brother, as to whether Elmer 
would survive his current predicament. "Elmer?" said Pop. 
"Is Elmer one of your classmates or a character in your 
reading lesson?" Nobody dared laugh, but the remark started 
a chain reaction of suppressed giggles. 


Excessive laughter was always condemned as being 
immature and inexcusable, just as fighting, arguing, and all 
other obstreperous childish pastimes were. Pop always 
wanted us to be quiet and serious in action and purpose. As 
we all lacked the desired characteristics, we learned deceptive 
methods by the time we started school. Most of our "pencil 
and paper" money usuaUy went for candy. At regular 
intervals we had our "thrift" lecture, as we continued on the 
"dole" system in spite of our periodic pleas for regular 
allowances. However, his words of wisdom went either over 
our heads or under the table in form of shin-kick subterfuge. 

Education for his children seemed to be one of Pop's 
highest ideals. (We didn't know until many years later how 
hard Mom pushed him toward that ideal.) It would be more 
romantic to assume that he had gone to school only two or 
three years, but we did learn through much probing that he 
had gone through the eighth grade. However, he never 
mentioned, bemoaned, or regretted his lack of education. 
Neither did he brag that he had gone farther in school than 
some of his contemporaries. 

Although Pop never showed an obvious discontent in 
reviewing his own life and struggles, I can remember moods 
which definitely showed discontent and unrest which were 
too subtle for his children's perception. Still running true to 
form, he showed no obvious elation over occasions such as the 
graduation days of his children. He never missed a 
graduation of any of his children whether it was from grade 
school or law school. 

AU seven of us went to college as a matter of course. 
There was a limited choice of schools. Sectarian colleges were 
preferred if they were not co-educational. My oldest brother, 
Joe set the pattern. Pop had never approved travel as 
education. He looked upon travel as a luxury and an 
extravagance. Therefore, Joe picked schools in the farthest 
regions of the country. Again the apphcation of the old 
"pencil and paper" scheme of our childhood provided us with 
spending money. 

As a part of this thrift program, humiUty and modesty 
were characteristics which he required from his family. Any 
pride of possession or affluence was considered sinful. 
Application blanks always included "Father's Occupation," 
which we fiUed in as "farmer," never "banker," for fear 
someone might think we were "assuming airs." 

Pop definitely frowned on arrogance or ostentation. Our 
home was in a good enough neighborhood, but my mother 
always longed for a better house in the "right" neighborhood. 
There was one large house which she particularly coveted. 
Pop took her to see it one day after the lawyer who had owned 
it had declared bankruptcy. P. J. showed her a dozen 
drawbacks and convinced her that the house was an 
extravagant monstrosity. Being a real estate salesman 
among other things, his salesmanship was as good in reverse 
as it was in the normal channels. 

Pop's conservatism carried him into fear of infirmity. 
He had always been ashamed of illness as a form of weakness. 
He must have felt that he had to hold his family and his bank 
together with his own two hands. 

It seems ironic that his frailty had to appear gradually 
in the form of a tremor in his hands. He tried for months to 
cover his syndrome of Parkinson's disease. The once-solid 
man's body was becoming literally shaky. He refused to go to 
the bank to let others see his weakness. He refused to go to a 
hospital where strange eyes could see the great man 
crumbhng. His body turned to stone as he went through a 
process of slow deterioration. The man who had always been 
self-sufficient, humble, and entire had to be attended to every 
minute of the day. He had disposed of his farms and much of 
his other assets to his heirs years before, and he felt by this 
time that his family and his bank would continue in the 
conservative pattern he had set. 


Eleanor P. Gingerich 

I am a native of McDonough County, having spent my 
first six years in Blandinsville where my father was a country 
doctor. However, since he died when I was quite small, my 
memories of him come only from stories told to me by my 
mother, who was the school nurse and truant officer for the 
Macomb PubUc Schools for many years, and my uncle, my 
father's brother, Loring H. Provine. The following is an 
account written from observations made by my uncle. 

My father. Dr. George S. Provine, was a graduate of the 
College of Physicians and Surgeons of the University of 
Illinois in Chicago, and he was a practicing physician in 
McDonough County early in the 1900's. During his senior 
year in medical school, he was undecided as to the type of 
practice he wanted. He favored general practice, but the 
offers from hospitals and large doctor's offices with good 
starting salaries were very tempting. Starting one's own 
practice was a slow and the income small, but after he finally 
decided general practice was what he preferred, a small 
community which offered a challenge was his wish. After 
visiting and considering several locations, he decided upon 
the small town of Tennessee, Illinois. It was a fine 
agricultural community with a need for a doctor. 

The opportunity came in a few years to move into a 
larger practice at Blandinsville, and even though reluctant, 
my father decided to make the move. This was a fine farming 
community where the roads were good in summer, but good 
farm land makes poor roads in winter so that making calls in 
winter was something to consider. During good weather he 
used his automobile, one of the first in the county, but as the 
rains came and the roads became bad, he depended upon his 
horse and buggy. There came a time when this was 
impossible so he used a two-wheeled cart instead of the four- 
wheeled buggy, but the roads became almost impassable, 
even for this, and so he rode horseback along the fences 

instead of using the roads. The winter practice was rugged 
since he could not tell how long it would take to reach his 
patient or how long he would be there. He was always 
considerate of his horse, and when he arrrived at the patient's 
house, day or night, he made sure the horse was under shelter 
and well taken care of during his visit. 

During the early years of his practice, the means of 
communication was the rural telephone, which consisted of 
party lines, with each family having its own signal or number 
of rings of the telephone bell. When any subscriber rang 
anyone else, all would answer, but when the doctor's number 
rang, he could hear the click of every receiver as the 
neighbors hstened in, so at times he would have to be quite 
firm and say, "Will you please all hang up? The message to 
me is so faint because you are all on the line that I cannot get 
the message." 

In his days the doctor's office was also the apothecary 
shop of the town as there were no drug stores. The doctors 
carried a supply of pills and powders for usual ailments in 
their bags with them since prescriptions were useless because 
of the lack of drug stores. At times, in serious cases, he had 
his bandages and dressings steriUzed by putting them in a 
hot oven of the stove at home for a given length of time, and 
then he handled them with a pair of tongs such as were found 
around the kitchen to handle hot things in order that they 
would not be touched before using. 

My father Uved his profession as a family doctor, being 
on call night and day the year round. In 1919 one call that he 
made in midwinter was his last, for he made it when he was ill 
with appendicitis. His appendix ruptured, peritonitis set in, 
and nothing could be done to help him, even though Dr. 
Holmes of Macomb, came to examine him. Since roads from 
Blandinsville to Macomb were in very bad shape, he could not 
be moved there for surgery. At one point, both Dr. Holmes 
and my father felt he was somewhat better, but such was not 
the case, and he passed away in February of 1919 at the age 
of 36. 


Katherine Boden 

Every evening after supper my two older brothers went 
to my uncle's house where my grandmother hved. In the 
tower room off her bedroom she sat on her platform rocker 
with four grandchildren on the floor around her and read a 
chapter from Uncle Tom's Cabin. I could hardly wait till I 
was old enough to join them, but that was not to be. 
Grandma had a stroke and then her reading days were over. 

I missed more than Topsy and Eva (characters in Uncle 
Tom's Cabin). Grandma was a fine Sunday School teacher, 
and the women she taught, forty years after her death, still 
called their class by her name. 

She was imperiously regal. She could even say, "That 
ain't nice, Bobby! " and still seem queenly. Her bedroom had 
a fascination for me with the bed which folded up to the wall 
in the daytime. Her httle apartment on the second floor was a 
sort of place of magic, another world. But she was not an 
indulgent grandmother. It was she who discovered the boys 
playing cards in the basement coal room on Sunday and put a 
stop to it. Their parents were probably overlooking it. 

It was always a treat when she came to visit us for a few 
days, though we Uved only a block apart, and I was sad when 
she wanted to go back home. She used to tell stories about 
President McKinley, who had been in her class at school. One 
time when the teacher called on him to recite, she heard him 
say under his breath, "Damn!" That was when they were 
about twelve years old. When he was killed, she cried, the 
folks told us. 

From time to time she had the local seamstress come to 
make her several dresses. One was always black silk; another 
was purple. All of them swept the floor. In a picture I have 
she is wearing a black hat, a towering basket. 

She was hesitant to marry her husband because he had 
red hair, and she couldn't bear the thought of any of her 
children having red hair. Not one of her two sons or nine 

grandchildren did. She became a widow fairly young, and 
there were other suitors, but her sons forbade her to remarry. 
She must have been more indulgent to them than to my 
generation. At her husband's death she moved to 
Champaign, Illinois, bought a large house, and rented rooms 
to college students while her sons went to school. 

There is an old decanter in the family which Grandma 
described as her mother-in-law's camphor bottle. Her 
younger sister denied this, saying "Huh! It was her whiskey 
bottle." Maybe it was. 

When I reahze how httle I can tell about this marvelous 
person, I regret that I didn't ask her questions about her 
earher hfe and visit her more often. When I was a school 
teacher I used to urge my high school students to have long 
interviews with their grandparents before all those precious 
memories were lost forever. 


Marion Lister Zejmowicz 

Grandpa was aging. His injured leg made walking 
difficult. So, after World War I, he and Grandma moved to a 
little six-acre site overlooking Plum River Valley in northern 
Carroll County, Illinois. There they chose to hve out their 
hves— within ten miles of all their seven children and seven 

It was a quaint, white frame house— 1880-ish with a 
small front porch for afternoon and evening "sittin." The 
downstairs consisted of a large kitchen and parlor. We rarely 
sat in the parlor because the kitchen was so pleasant. It was 
neither fancy nor formal, but, oh, the happy times we spent in 
that room! It had a pine table and cupboards, bentwood 
hickory chairs and a big. shiny, black cook stove on which 
Grandma always seemed to have plump chicken and golden 
noodles simmering— just in case "Das Kinder" came home. 
And, come we did— almost every Sunday! I can remember the 


almost white pine floors, scrubbed white by Grandma with 
her homemade lye soap. In the surrounding yard were trees 
to climb, flowers to enjoy, vegetables and fruits to pick, for 
Grandma, along with being economical, truly loved nature. 

We had not been there very long before Grandma would 
find some pink and white peppermints tucked away in the 
cupboard— the kind with the three XXX 's etched on top. 
Also, she could always find— or we did— some bittersweet 
chocolate chunks which disappeared in no time at all. And 
there were cookies— big, round, sugar cookies with a raisin in 
the center of each. 

Grandma was reaUy a striking woman— tall and slender, 
even as the years crept up on her. She was pin neat, with her 
gray hair pulled back severely, carefully plaited into a single 
braid and pinned high upon her head. We always wondered 
how she kept it so clean because we never saw her wash it. 
But every morning she took it down, brushed it thoroughly, 
and proceeded to braid and pin. She dressed meticulously but 
plainly, in somber calico prints and clean aprons, and on 
Sunday, for church, she was lovely in a white blouse, navy or 
black serge skirt and a fashionable dark straw hat— usually 
with gay flowers and ribbon trim. A new hat for Easter was a 

Grandma learned EngUsh from her children. In the early 
years of their marriage Grandpa and Grandma spoke only 
German. The children never spoke Enghsh until they 
attended school. Grandma always loved books and had been 
a good student. Her father had been a loving parent, a gentle 
man who took time to instill the love of books and music and 

Since she never had formal American schoohng 
Grandma studied right along with her children— learning to 
read, write and spell as they did. She did very well with the 
language. True, she never lost her German accent, but, that 
was part of her charm. Sometimes she made mistakes, and 
sometimes she used German when Enghsh failed her. She 
wrote beautifully— her penmanship, formed in her 

homeland— was beautiful. If she couldn't spell a word, she 
found a dictionary or a newspaper— or she asked. 

Grandma loved to sing. Her grandfather had played the 
violin well, and there were always music and singing in her 
home and heart. 1 can still hear her lovely voice singing "O 
Taimenbaum" or "Die Lorelei" as we sat around the piano on a 
cold winter evening. I was reluctant to play the piano for 
those "German songs." Pride in heritage is a more modern 
feehng. I'm sure it must have hurt Grandma quite a bit the 
way the younger generation acted. It secretly delighted 
Grandma when I later signed up for a course in German. 

About twice each summer Grandpa and Grandma would 
come for a day's visit. They would arrive in the morning, 
driving a buggy drawn by the chestnut-colored "Doll," stay a 
few hours with us, and then drive the ten miles of dirt roads 
back to their home. I may have been only five or six years old, 
but I knew that when Grandma and Grandpa came there 
would be candy in her purse, and a bag of cookies in the 
basket along with a freshly dressed chicken— drawn that 
very day— big brown eggs, and other farm dehcacies. 

When grandma didn't want us to understand, she would 
talk in German to Mom and our aunts. One time Grandma 
had to pay off brother Frank because he picked up a German 
word spoken to our mother that was not really fit for a 
chgnified German-American lady to have said. It must have 
had a musical sound for it stuck in the brain of a seven-year- 
old brother; he kept repeating it for weeks. In desperation, 
she gave him a dime not to say it ever again! He never 
did— not until he became a smart alec adult! 

One of Grandma's favorite descriptions for someone 
who exaggerated or told tales was, "Ach— he's just a 
Munchausen." Once she found a picture illustrating one of 
Baron Munchausen's stories. It showed a rider atop half a 
horse— the rear half being left on the other side of a wicket 
gate. The horse was drinking at a public trough and the water 
was pouring out the rear— a huge stream flooding the 

Our father adored Grandmother Keller. His own mother 
had died before he married, and so she stepped right into his 
heart. Grandma felt the same way about him. He could do no 
wrong. Since his name was "Lister" she associated him with 
Joseph Lister, the discoverer of the importance of antiseptics 
in surgery. She was sure our dad was his relative, and so she 
was Listerine Antiseptics most ardent user. She used 
Listerine for everything— mouth wash, cuts, bruises, hair 
dressing — you name it! 

Dad and Grandma were both kind and gentle and 
shared a great love of trees and flowers. Her philosophy was 
that a person should plant at least one tree every year. There 
is a Damson Plum, still bearing fruit, in the old retirement 
home yard— planted by Grandma. 

Our mother died in 1949. Grandma, herself, was 84, but 
it broke her heart that the ring of children was broken by the 
death of her youngest. She was not strong enough to attend 
the services, but she went to her garden and, in the quiet of 
her sadness, carefully gathered all of her beautiful, blood-red 

carnations— a whole armful. My father placed them on the 
casket. No greater love had any mother. Afterwards my 
father and Grandma silently clasped each other, their tears 
streaming together. 

Time never erased the difficult years spent in Germany. 
Grandma steadfastly refused to eat "Cream of Wheat," 
explaining "That was all I had in the old country." She 
recalled the terrible voyage on the ocean crossing. Grandma 
used to teU us of the storm— how the ship's captain was ready 
to chop the mast of the sailing vessel when suddenly the 
violet storm subsided. When, in the middle 1930's, she 
received appealing letters of propaganda from the Hitler 
government urging her "to visit your Vaterland" and she 
could have well afforded the trip, she was greatly insulted. 
She was an American! AU the rest was behind her. 

Grandma died in 1950. SHps of her carefully tended red 
carnations flourish in all of our gardens today and remind us 
of our wonderful 100% American grandmother. 

IV School IDays, School T)ays 



In America, the one-room school has a direct association 
with the historical development of what is now called the 
Middle West. Specifically, it had its origins in law, the great 
Ordinance of 1785, which prescribed procedures by which the 
land in Ohio, Indiana, lUinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan was 
to be surveyed and sold. An added part of that Ordinance 
also provided that one section in each township be set aside 
for a pubUc school. 

A hundred years later, the country or rural school was a 
flourishing aspect of American education in almost every 
state, though it might be added that, at the time, its zenith of 
influence had already been reached. As cities grew, as 
farming areas were denuded of people, as farms continued to 
grow in size, and as the population shifted from one area to 
another, the country school began its long and slow demise. 
The final coup was the commencement of the great national 
road building program in the 1920's and 1930's, all of which 
made it possible for the transportation of students from 
farming areas to so-called community grade and high schools. 

All of the foUowing articles touch upon the country or 
rural school in some way. One may quickly note that they are 
written with great affection for a time in American society 
when life could be a great deal more simple. For this reason 
and others, one must approach such nostalgic commentaries 
with some caution. The country school is a fact of history: 
that point is not arguable. Yet, one must remember Mdrk 
Twain's acerbic comment about the romanticized Indians in 
James Fenimore Cooper's novels; he claimed that such people 
never existed. One may apply the same yardstick to country 
schools as described by the following commentators. 

There are reasons for this, of course. Memory is 
selective. The ugher tones are muted and the more attractive 
ones are amphfied. To most of the individuals who write here 
about the educational experiences of their youth, the country 

school of ancient days is viewed through a thin patina of 
childhood wonder and pleasure. They describe wintry 
mornings when icicles hung from eaves in the stalactite 
clusters, and how rime-covered windows were laced with 
evocative but impermanent etchings. 

There were little things which were part of the knowable 
and unknowable aspects of youth. A gentle lady writes of 
watching a tumble bug cross the road during a childhood 
walk to school. She did not know why the insect behaved that 
way, but in retrospect, she assumed that it had something to 
do with the cycle of life. 

Others write of hearty breakfasts heralded by odors 
wafting up from the country kitchen: pancakes smothered in 
molasses and surrounded by home made sausage, always 
served sufficient doUops of mother love. In apparent 
bemusement, some writers touch upon social practices of the 
day. There were outhouses for the boys, outhouses for the 
girls, but nostalgic reflection describes that, in those early 
days, one did not make scatalogical reference to them. 

Such pictures are memories of only one side of the past. 
Hardships then are made into object lessons today. "It was 
all for the best," is a common assumption. The rigors of the 
old days built character, it is argued. Yet, the truth is that 
some facets of those country school days were difficult 
indeed. Those rudely built structures were terribly cold in 
winter and insufferable in summer. Heat, which came from a 
hard working stove in the center of the floor, seldom found its 
way to the back of the room. Smells of asafetida, balm, 
lotions, and commercial salves emanated from socks wrapped 
around the necks of ill children. Buildings were never 
insulated, of course: few schools had anything in the way of 
libraries. By every material standard by which comfort and 
opportunity can be measured, the country school of eighty 
years ago was immeasurably deficient to the worst inner city 
school of today. 

Why, then, the disparity in results? How did children, 
after only eight grades of instruction in country schools. 

learn to read and write with a relatively high degree of 

The answers to such questions are multifaceted in 
nature. A great deal of the education derived by country 
school students of decades ago was achieved out of such 
simple instincts as pride and ambition. A great deal more 
emerged from other characteristics of the system. One of the 
following writers sums up her days in rural school by saying, 
"I never tired of books." That imphes something of a 
different nature than one occasionally sees today. What she 
is saying, of course, is that she went to school to learn— not 
necessarily to be taught. There is a subtle shade of difference 
between the desire to know and the wish to be taught. One is 
active; the other is passive. One calls for the exercise of mind 
and imagination; it means bringing Tom Sawyer or The 
Hoosier Schoolmaster into the mind's eye by means of words. 
The other is best iOustrated by the plaintive and almost 
insufferable title of a recent college editorial, a plea to college 
instructors to "Inspire Us." 

The first approach calls for quantity of sacrifice to begin 
with— getting up on cold mornings, long walks through deep 

snow, and sack lunches containing the inevitable and 
sometimes odorous hard boiled egg. The other approach, 
more a part of our own times, calls for a short walk to a bus 
stop and warm meals served at a school cafeteria. In an 
attenuated sense, one may argue that our elders thought it a 
privilege to attend school, while their grandchildren assume 
education to be a painlessly achieved right. 

What also runs through these pieces is a sense of 
belonging. The school was a community center. Parents 
participated in various social activities connected with it. 
There was a sense of union, of place, and of being. One woman 
writes of the contentment of her youthful summer nights. 
Each star was a "tiny hole in the heavens." "When one 
bUnked," she continued, "I'd think that an angel just 
happened to stop over the hole. Sometimes I wonder if the 
little ones of today really enjoy any quiet moments like that, 
or the sights and sounds of various seasons." 

Is it possible that they don't? 



Burdette Graham 

Home base for me during rural school days was Wetzel 
School. This school was three and one half miles south of 
Adair. I called it home base because that is where I went to 
school, and many things happening at other schools became 
known to us through students or teachers of our home school. 
I attended school there from 1915 to 1922 and, to get out, 
spent many days with the teacher (on Saturdays and during 
the early part of the summer) reviewing the county test which 
we took in the study hall of the laboratory school at Western. 
I passed the test, so 1 could enroll at Adair Community High 
School in the faU of 1922, but 1 passed the old grade school at 
least two times each school day on my way to high school. 

A few years after I left grade school, one of the tough 
boys told the rest he would show them how tough he really 
was so he drew back and drove his fist into the wall beside the 
main door. To his and everyone's surprise his fist and whole 
arm went through the wall and outside. Actually all he went 
through was paint and plaster, as this area was just below the 
great bell tower, and some leakage had drawn the termites 
who had eaten aU the wood from under the plaster and paint. 
The next fall almost the entire east end of the school house 
was replaced by the summer work crew and carpenters. One 
of the jobs of the rural teacher was to make a list of 
everything needing repair and give it to the school board. 

Another job of the teacher was janitor. He or she had to 
arrive at school at least one hour before the students and get 
the fire in the stove going so students could sit and study at 
nine o'clock. Some of the boys helped bring in coal and cobs 
and carry out the ashes. The coal and cob house was a 
favorite place to take the lunch boxes at noon, and there some 
unusual stories were told, mostly by the older boys, some 
sixteen or seventeen years of age. 

Boiled eggs were a common part of the contents of 

dinner pails, and usually these were broken by holding in the 
open hand and striking the egg on the forehead. Some of the 
older boys wanted to give the httle boys a try at egg 
breaking, and the little boys became quite good at it, until 
someone brought a rotten egg— 1 suppose by mistake, but I 
doubt this too because it was not boiled— and when the egg 
breaker hit his head with it, he became plastered with rotten 
egg. A clean up job was in order, but no one could get the 
smell away, so the whole school just had to grin and bear it. 1 
think everyone after that day had to break his own eggs. 

We also had another fine place out of the wind to eat 
lunch. A large stone was out of the foundation of the New 
Salem Christian Church, which was just across the road, east 
from the school. Only about thirty inches of headroom were 
there, but we could aU relax as we stretched out and talked 
and ate. 

Little kids soon learned to think and not just try 
everything the older one suggested. 1 licked the frosty pump 
handle and could not get loose, just because some older kid 
told me to. I also looked up a coat sleeve to see stars in the 
middle of the day, only to get a pail of water dumped in my 
face down the coat sleeve. This kind of experience might not 
have happened if I had been in a room full of kids the same 
age, but the applied type of democracy in the old rural school 
gave me the opportunity to observe, experience, and develop 
social attitudes and confidence. 

The old outdoor toilet was not apart from our learning 
experiences either, as everyone took turns in being excused, 
one at a time. One little chap returned one very cold day, 
crying and cold, saying he had dropped his sweater down the 

1 began by saying Wetzel School was home base for me. 
The other schools I knew well were Nevada, two miles south, 
where our neighbor girl, Mildred Dean, went to school; Lick 
Skillet, two miles north on the road to Adair, which I passed 
and talked about each time we rode by on the trip to Adair; 
Pennington Point, two miles west of Lick Skillet, where we 


went to play basketball on an outdoor court; Mud Acre, 
because I thought the name was funny, called that because it 
really was buUt in a vaOey that got quite muddy from time to 
time; and Sixteen, because my mother taught there, when she 
was sixteen years old, having been at Western Normal when 
only part of the first floor of Sherman Hall was finished. I 
almost forgot to mention Frog Pond. It was farther away, 
being three miles northwest of Adair, but known to me 
because my dad had gone to school there when he first came 
to New Salem Township, in the eighteen-nineties when Frog 
Pond really was that, because of the frogs which lived under 
the floor. That whole area was very wet, until tile was laid to 
carry the water from the fields to ditches which were many 
miles away. 

The schools did a good job of education, I beheve, as I 
know of no student who went to any of these schools, who 
became a criminal, or pauper, or in any way dependent on 
anyone, and I feel that all the students turned out to be good 
leaders, sucessful farmers, or business men and community 
workers. It just was not the style to do anything else. 

Let me describe some more of the happenings at these 
schools, which really makes them seem like the "Good Old 
Days." Nevada seemed to be the place where most of the 
night events took place. A stage was built at the back of this 
school on a raised platform, with a curtain to pull across and 
small dressing rooms at each side. In one play, I remember. 
Jay Trotter, now Dr. Trotter in Carthage, was playing the 
part of an old man, with cane and beard. As he was entering 
the stage, someone off stage tried to help him onto the stage 
by poking him in the ribs. He jumped to the middle of the 
stage and let out a war whoop that would have scared an 
Indian, and almost ran over other characters on the stage. 
Well, of course, this was the hit of the evening, with the 
audience about falhng out of their seats. 

The same night was a cold one, and all the Model T 
Fords had to have special help to get them running. The 
procedure was to jack up one rear wheel and put the thing in 

high gear, so the magneto gave a hot spark and the weight of 
the wheel helped keep things moving until a few cylinders 
took hold and kept the outfit going. This night for some 
reason, Clinton Dean's car would not start and the water in 
the radiator froze. The radiator was taken off and into the 
school stove several times to thaw out before both car and 
radiator were working at the same time and the trip home 
accompUshed. When home was reached, the radiator and 
engine had to be drained of water, because anti-freeze such as 
we now have was not available. 

Another night event at Nevada turned out lucky for me. 
Some of the neighbor boys went to prove that spooks did 
things on HaUoween night. They took the pump out of the 
well and bent it around the flag pole. The school directors 
found out who was playing spook and rounded up the bunch, 
but left me out because I was at home with an infected knee 
burn from the basketball court. This was one time an injury 
paid off as the rest had to buy a new pump and admit that 
they did the dirty work. 

The biggest event at Nevada was the debate put on by 
the Debate Society. I remember some of the debaters, such as 
Martin McFadden, CUnton Dean, George Dean, and Henry 
Beckwith. A subject was picked for debate several months 
ahead so all would have time to gather information. One 
which was needed to argue various sides of the question. 
Teams were picked and being for the pro-position, called the 
affirmative, and the other opposed, called the negative. 

The debate night at Nevada, usually after harvest and 
Christmas, was their first meeting in combat and always 
brought out a good crowd. The affirmative team would have 
the first speaker state the question and present arguments 
for, after which the first speaker for the negative would 
present all the arguments against, and then, and I never 
knew why, the other negative speaker would appear and 
argue some more. Then the other affirmative speaker would 
present all the closing arguments. I do not remember 
anything about who judged the debate, but I do remember 

that the arguments continued in the community for a long 
time after this night. 

Getting to school was quite a problem, as we lived one 
and one-half miles from school. Most of the time we walked, 
but sometimes in extreme weather we were taken by horse 
and buggy, or if the snow was deep our hired man would take 
us in his sleigh. One morning when the snow was quite deep 
and a thick crust covered it, he was taking us to school when 
one runner of the sleigh broke through the crust and over we 
went into the snow drift, and we did break the crust and got 
very wet and cold. A few minutes around the big stove at 
school and we dried out. 

I think the most interesting times in the country were 
along the road to school, as there were several big hedges 
grown full of all kinds of bushes, such as gooseberry and 
plum, and every spring these had many kinds of birds, such 
as brown thrashers, blackbirds, mourning doves, 
woodpeckers, and many others, and all seemed to be singing 
at the same time, to establish their territory, I guess. 

Sometimes to save time and footwear we would cut 
across the fields for home and save about one-half mile. This 
is where we located all the skunk dens, and learned to know 
the meadow birds, such as meadowlark, killdeer, and many 

Last days of school were always great for several 
reasons. First, we found out whether we passed or not. 
Secondly, we liked the idea of freedom from tests and studies, 
but mostly we loved the picnic and ball game that was the 
main event, when the parents came and tried to show us who 
could play ball the best. The parents usually won, but the big 
picnic feed which was brought in by the parents made 
everything else seem fine. We all wished the teacher a nice 
summer, and she took all our pictures up in front of the school 
house, and we all said goodbye until next September. Really, 
school was a lot of fun and, though we didn't know it, very 
valuable also. 


Esther Sypherd 

The air was clear and cold and our feet made crisp 
crunching sounds on the snow as we trudged along on our 
way to school. We had to walk one and one-half miles to the 
little red-brick school-house on the hill. This winter there was 
so much snow that the roads were drifted shut in many 
places. Farmers had opened their fences to allow the horse- 
drawn sleds to travel across the fields where the snow was 
not so deep. We walked across the fields too, following the 
sled tracks, making our walk somewhat longer. 

We were well-insulated against the cold, starting with a 
suit of long underwear. Then came the long woolen stockings 
our mother had knit. These had to be pulled carefully over the 
underwear so as not to leave unsightly bulges. On top of this 
went warm petticoats, a dress, a sweater, and high-top 
button shoes. Then the outer layer was appUed— boots, a 
coat, and hand-knit mittens and cap. I can still remember the 
glorious sense of freedom when we could shed some of these 
garments when the weather warmed up in the spring. 

We were fortified from within by a substantial 
breakfast. Oranges were a special treat reserved for 
Christmas or when we were ill. Our fruit was home-canned 
berries grown on our farm, or dried apples cooked with 
prunes. There was plenty of milk from our own cows and eggs 
from our flock of hens. Then, there would be pancakes or fried 
mush topped with molasses made from the cane grown on our 
farm, and sausage made from our own hogs and smoked in 
the smokehouse there. 

Our lunch pail was packed with sandwiches for the noon 
lunch. Our mother had baked the bread and churned the 
butter that the sandwiches were made from. The filling was 
dried beef cured and and smoked on our farm. Home-baked 
cookies and an apple from the basement completed the menu. 
Also in the pail was a small folding drinking cup that would 

be filled with water from the bucket of water the teacher had 
filled that morning at the pump outside the door. 

As we walked along, neighbor children would join us, 
and when we reached the top of the last hill we could see the 
school with smoke curhng from the chimney. Then we knew 
that the teacher, who was also the janitor, had a good fire 
going in the big heating stove, and we walked a little faster 
toward the welcome warmth. 

As we trooped noisily into the room, stamping the snow 
from our boots, we were greeted by friends who had arrived 
earlier and were huddled around the stove trying to get some 
feeling back into icy fingers and toes. We put our lunch pails 
on a shelf behind the door and hung our coats and caps on 
hooks along the wall. Then, with much tugging and grunting, 
the boots came off and were placed near the stove to warm up 
before we had to venture out into the cold again. Our 
bookbags were emptied, and the contents stowed in our desks 
that stood in prim rows fastened securely to the floor. The 
smaU desks for beginners were on a raised platform. The "big 
kids" occupied the seats at the back of the room, and the 
middle-sized seats in the center were the domain of the 
middle grades. Each desk had an open shelf under the desk 
top where books and writing materials had to be arranged 
carefully so that nothing would fall out. The large geography 
book was the hardest to fit in, but a very useful book to use as 
a screen when we did something we wanted to hide from the 
teacher's sharp eyes. There was a groove to hold pencils 
across the front of the desk, and at one corner an ink well. 
During a cold week-end with no heat in the building the ink 
would freeze and bulge up out of the well. 

By the time nine o'clock came, the poor teacher felt as if 
she had already done a day's work. She had come early to get 
the room warm; she had brought a pail of water in from the 
pump outside to quench our thirst throughout the day; she 
had seen that the aisles were swept clean and that the snow 
was cleared from the platform outside the door. As her pupils 
arrived, she helped the smaller ones struggle out of their 

heavy coats and boots. She would have little chance to relax 
during the day, as she taught all the subject for each grade 
from one through eight. All this for seventy dollars a month 
for eight months from September to May! Usually the 
teacher was someone who lived in the area so she could avoid 
having to pay room and board. 

When the teacher rang the small hand bell on her desk, 
everything became reasonably quiet as we took our assigned 
seats. If we had something to say we raised our hand and 
waited for the teacher's permission. Whispering was against 
the rules, punishable by having to stay in our seat fifteen 
minutes during recess. We communicated with written notes 
slyly passed back and forth when the teacher's back was 

The program for the day usually started with a fifteen 
minute period called "Opening Exercises." During this time 
we might recite poems we had memorized or the teacher 
might read from some good book. Depending on the teacher, 
we might have Bible reading and the Lord's Prayer, although 
there was no ruUng against it. If we were lucky enough to 
have a teacher who could play the squeaky, old reed organ we 
would sing old favorites such as "Old Black Joe, " "Juanita," 
"Sweet and Low," "Flow Gently Sweet Alton," and, of 
course, "America." 

When classes started, the first graders were called to 
the front of the room first to continue the laborious task of 
learning their numbers and letters. As the day progressed, 
each grade had its turn to go to the front of the room to 
divulge what they had learned about the subject being 
studied that period. Besides reading, writing, and arithmetic, 
we were taught language, physiology, geography, history, 
spelling and penmanship. There was httle chance of having 
individual help with lessons, so we got what we could on our 
own and from hstening as older children recited their lessons. 

The recess periods of fifteen minutes in mid-morning 
and mid-afternoon passed very quickly. After the necessary 
visits to the small houses at the end of two paths, one for girls 

and one for boys, there was barely time to get a game started 
before the bell rang. At noon we ate our lunches at our desks, 
then hurried out to the playground. In winter we built snow 
forts and had the most glorious snow-ball fights. Or, after a 
new-fallen snow we would make a large circle in the snow to 
play Fox and Geese. Sometimes the children would bring 
their sleds and go sliding down a hill next to the playground. 
The noon hour passed very quickly. Even when the weather 
was too bad for us to play out of doors, we enjoyed indoor 
games such as Fruit Basket Upset and Hide the Thimble, or 
blackboard games like Tic-Tac-Toe. When the weather got 
warm in the spring, we looked forward to playing baseball 
and strenuous running games. Our favorites were Prisoner's 
Goal, Pom-Pom-Pullaway, Hide and Seek, and Handy-over. 
When the inevitable bell called us back to the tedious task of 
becoming educated, we were breathless and rosy-cheeked. 
With very little playground supervision, surprisingly few 
fights erupted. Those that did were settled quickly among 

A knock at the school-room door was always a welcome 
interruption in the daily routine. It might be one of our 
parents with a message for us, or it might the county 
superintendent of schools on his annual visit. He would ask 
the teacher a few questions to find out if she was following his 
prescribed curriculum, tell us a few stories, and be on his way 
to the next school. 

The whole experience of going to a one-room country 
school taught me much more than the Three R's. It taught 
me respect for the rights of others, self-reliance, and the value 
of cooperation. There were fringe benefits too— many happy 


Neita Schutz 

The Oak Dale one-room country school was built on my 
father's farm in Walkerville Township, Greene County, 
Illinois. Children attended from six years of age all through 
the eight grades. All were farm people, and the boys often 
stayed at home to work with the harvest in the fall and with 
the planting in the spring. Some Hved three miles or more 
away, close to the Illinois River, and since walking was the 
only transportation, they could attend only in good weather 
in the fall and spring. Therefore, it was not unusual to have 
fifteen or sixteen-year-olds doing second grade work since 
they attended school only a few weeks during the year. There 
was only one teacher and sometimes forty or more pupils. 

After passing the eighth grade examination, very few 
went on to high school as this involved a ten-mile drive by 
buggy or horseback. OccasionaUy, a well-to-do family would 
pay room and board in town for their child to attend high 
school. I was one of those who did not get to continue my 
education beyond the eighth grade. I merely stayed at home, 
helping my mother with the canning, sewing, etc. 

Often the teacher of the nearby one-room school hved 
miles away but boarded during the week with some of the 
families in the community. In bad weather, especially after a 
big rain and the creeks were "up," the teacher might not 
arrive by starting time (9 a.m.) on Monday morning. I 
remember one teacher called me early one Monday morning 
asking if I would go down and teach until he could get there. I 
had Just finished the eighth grade the year before, and all the 
pupils knew me, but I decided to try it anyway. After our 
opening song, the classes began. As I was walking up an 
aisle, something hit my back. It was a bunch of dried 
cockleburrs and they stuck to my clothing. I asked the 
pupils: "Who threw this?" Of course, no one knew and the 
room became deadly quiet. One boy especially, who was 


usually "Peck's Bad Boy," was very busy with his book and 
had an innocent look on his face. I merely laughed the matter 
off and went on with the classes until the teacher arrived at 
about 11 a.m. He paid me 50<t for substituting for him, and 
took his place at the desk. Years later the "Peck's Bad Boy" 
admitted to me that he was the one who threw the burrs. 

The old Oak Dale School was closed years ago when 
consohdation of districts went into effect. It has now been 
torn down, and the land has returned to the farm that was my 
father's, but it now belongs to my nephew. 


Pierre Marshall 

When I went to the country school, 1910-1918, our 
enrollment was small— from four to about ten. The year there 
were four, one boy was out a long time with a serious illness, 
or there would have been five. We played simple games 
because there were not enough for the opposing teams that 
many games required. We played ball a lot, but of the "move- 
up" kind, with players moving up, as we played, from fielder 
to pitcher, to catcher, to batter, and back to the field when 

There weren't usually basemen, but if the baU was 
thrown between the runner and the base he was running to, 
he was "out." "Women's Lib" was practiced, as girls and 
boys both played in order to have enough. The bat was 
homemade from a straight stick, and the ball was twine 
string wound to proper size, then sewed through and through 
so it wouldn't ravel and unwind. 

"Last One on the Cinderpile" was just as it sounds. 
There was a flattened mound of cinders in the schoolyard, 
and when we dashed for it the last one there was "it," until he 
"tagged" one of the daring souls who were running around 
the yard trying to evade being tagged. Very active, but it 
required no brains or skill. 

"Andy Over" was on a similar level, but with more 
chance of exercising a bit of strategy. We divided into two 
groups, one on each side of the schoolhouse. A ball was 
thrown over the comb of the roof. If it was not caught on the 
other side, it was thrown back over. When it was caught the 
whole group ran around the ends of the building to the other 
side, with the group on the other side doing the same, 
meeting each other as they changed sides. Whoever had the 
ball "tagged" one or more of the other group as they met, if 
he could, and the tagged one then had to go with the side that 
tagged him, and so on, until all were on one side, or the school 
bell rang us inside. 

There was a hill on the road past the school. It was close 
by, so it was real handy for sliding down when there was 
snow, which made the hill so sHck the farmers' teams could 
hardly get up it. There was also a grass pasture with a pond 
in it next to the schoolyard, and there were gopher dens in the 
hill by the pond. We sometimes had a great time carrying 
water from the pond and pouring it in their holes. It brought 
them out aU right. 

There wasn't a well on the school ground, so we carried a 
three-gallon bucket of water from our house or the neighbors, 
each about an eighth of a mile from the school. The bucket sat 
on a bench at the back of the room, with a washpan and soap, 
and one towel on a hook. There was a drinking cup, but some 
of us had our own httle metal telescoping cups. Needless to 
say, there wasn't too much washing done. We washed our 
hands, but probably not our faces very often. Before school 
started in the fall the yard was mowed and the schoolhouse 
cleaned, by the neighbors. The teacher was the janitor, but 
we boys did carry in coal from the nearby coalhouse— part of 
the time, anyway. There were two other small buildings at far 
corners of the yard, with a path to each. One, especially, 
seemed to have a number of initials and other carvings on and 
in it. 

The heating plant was a good-sized, tall round stove in 
the middle of the room. There was no jacket around it, so it 

was direct heat. On real cold mornings we had to hover near it 
in some unused seats, but after the room once got warm it did 
pretty well. The ceiling was high, of course, about twelve feet. 
All of our shirts and the girls' dresses were made at home. We 
wore black, ribbed, cotton stockings. There was a place in 
Racine, Wisconsin that sold replacement feet for such 
stockings, and Mother sometimes sent for them. The worn 
out stocking feet were cut off and the "Racine Feet" sewed 
on. We wore high schoes, not low ones, and I suppose the 
seam was out of sight below the shoe tops. 

There was a pedal pump organ, bought some years 
before by having programs and box suppers. The girls 
weren't always happy about some fellows who bought their 
boxes either. If the teacher hved in Vermont, she walked the 
mile and a quarter to and from school each day. If they were 
from other areas, they boarded and roomed with one or 
another of the neighbors. One teacher lived with her parents 
on a farm two or three miles away. She drove a horse and 
buggy to school when it was muddy. She was a good teacher, 
but was not always prompt. One rather cold morning we kids 
were all there and waiting to get in the house, but no teacher 
came to unlock. At nine o'clock my older brother, an eighth 
grader and the biggest boy there, found a screen he could 
open and a window sash he could raise, and we all got inside 
that way. The teacher came after a few minutes and sternly 
demanded to know: "Who did this?" My brother rather 
calmy said, "I did." I don't remember that any more came of 
it, and I don't really see how it could have. 

Nearly everyone took their dinners, in a tin bucket or a 
cardboard box with a wire bail. There were no thermos bottles 
then, so it was all cold or, at least, not hot. We often spoke in 
later years of how much variety our mother managed to get 
into those dinner buckets, day after day, and aU prepared 
"from scratch." There weren't ready-prepared foods then, or 
we in the country didn't have them if there were. We didn't 
always have ice at home either. Why we didn't all die of food 

poisioning with no government regulations to guard us is a 
mystery to me. 

There was usually a picnic on the last day of school. 
Incidentally, our school year was only seven months long. We 
were always out in early or mid-April, and had usually 
covered the work required for the year. Most of the other 
country schools did have eight months. Sometimes the picnic 
was at school, but on at least three occasions I was asked to 
find a place for it, I always went to the woods, where I'd find 
a shady, level spot beside the crick. Once it must have been 
nearly a mile from school, and we had to walk, as it wasn't 
near a road. Most of the mothers usually went, and they must 
have been truly dedicated to walk to the place I picked. Of 
course, there were baskets and all other picnic assessories to 
carry, to. 


Ruth Johnson 

School got more interesting as I grew older. When 
school began in the fall, it was nice to get a new pencil box, 
color crayons, and a tablet. Slates were used for much of the 
working out of arithmetic problems and for spelling practice. 
The usual recitation bench stood across the front of the room, 
facing the black-board. The coal burner stove stood in the 
center, and the older wooden desks were well initialed. This 
shelf also held our dinner pails. We had a fair amount of 
Library books, and I think I read them all. During recess we 
played baseball, anteover, run sheep run, and statue. 

Our teachers on the whole were dedicated and good. 
Always there would be Bible reading and prayer to begin the 
day. Some teachers would read a part of a book each day. I 
felt I lived in the pages of Little Women and Little Men by 
Louisa Alcott. Group singing was a big part of school for me. 
I remember such songs as "Listen to the Mocking Bird," 
"Old Black Joe," and "Tenting on the Old Camp Ground." 

Those old cold and cough remedies were really 
something! Denver Mud(ugh) was white and gooey. It was 
smeared on our chests, then covered with a layer of cotton, 
and then a woolen cloth. After a few days it was loose enough 
to come off. There was also Musterole for our chests or 
throats. Before going to bed we drank hot lemonade, or hot 
toddy. Papa used to apply turpentine to sores and cuts. In 
those days doctors were good about house calls. 

Long-Johns were a part of winter. These would stretch 
out of shape, so we would make a fold in the ankle part, then 
sUde our long black stockings over that. Everyone wore black 
laced shoes. Children wore leggings, which are now called 

In the summer evenings I'd love to watch the stars. I 
thought that each star was a tiny hole in the heavens. When 
one blinked, I'd think that an angel just happened to step 
over the hole. Sometimes I wonder if the little ones of today 
really enjoy any quiet moments like that, or the sights and 
sounds of the various seasons. 


Nina Senders 
Bertha Ensworth 
Edna Codling 
Zalea Elliott 
Osee Anderson 
Faye Douglas 

The old, one-room country school has vanished, but the 
memories of our school days remain. All eight grades were in 
the same white, one-room buUding. The school was situated 
on a two-acre lot with a flagpole in the front. 

Beyond a small entry was the one large room. This was 
our classroom, lunchroom, library, coatroom and playroom. 
There were several rows of desks, ranging from small one for 

first-graders to the big double desks for the eighth grade. 
These were the status symbols! The desks were scarred with 
initials and scratches, which made it difficult to write without 
punching holes in the paper. The Yucatan gum and parafin 
under the desks resembled mud daubers nests. The 
blackboard ran the fuU length of the front wall. The alphabet 
letters were tacked above it. There were several world maps 
which were on roller shades and a big thick dictionary which 
was on the table in the corner. 

A large, old, oak teachers' desk was in the front of the 
room. Along one side of the wall was a big bookcase with 
books and encyclopedias, and above them were the classic 
portraits of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln 
staring sternly at us. 

There were two long recitation benches at the front of 
the schoolroom, almost reaching across the room. Each class 
took its turn going to the recitation seats when the teacher 

Reading classes were first in the morning, foOowed by 
arithmetic, history, grammar, geography, spelling and 
writing. Spelling and writing were the last subjects of the 
day. The hours of the school were from nine a.m. to four p.m., 
because when it got dark and gloomy we had no lights. For 
socials the families brought lamps from home to light the 

A big cast iron stove was in the middle of the room. A 
coal bucket sat in front of the stove. The teacher arrived early 
and started the fire. On cold mornings the room might be 
slightly warm, but after walking two or three miles to school 
you were cold! When you got there you stood near the stove 
for a while to get warm. You stood facing the stove for a short 
time then turned your back and held your hands behind you. 
After you began to get warm you took off your coat. You 
wiggled, squirmed, and pulled at your overshoes until you got 
them off. You tried to find a place to put them under the 
stove. Then you looked for a nail to hang your wet coat. When 
the coal bucket was empty, the older boys took it to the coal 

shed to fill it. Sometimes it was a struggle for two boys to 
carry the bucket of coal. Another job for the boys was to 
pump a bucket of water to drink, and of course, all of us drank 
from the same dipper. 

Remembering those country school days, we now realize 
that the strongest feature were the socials and annual 
programs held at the school. The fact that our school was a 
community center became evident when we put on our annual 
program. The teacher assigned parts to everyone. As the 
program date drew nearer, we spent lots of time practicing. 

A few days before the program we would hang curtains, 
which separated the audience from the stage and dressing 
room. Then the teacher would announce which one of the 
older kids had been chosen to pull the curtains. The curtain- 
pulling job had to be done by a very conscientious person 
because of the different problems that arose. Curtain pulling 
was sometimes the only way to get some of the smaller kids 
off the stage. 

After the program, the mothers put out sandwiches, pie, 
and coffee. Then everyone went home, sad that the program 
was over for another year. 

High School. As 1 said in my presentation speech, "The name 
of each one in the service is attached to a star in the flag, so 
that, not only at the present time but in the years to come, 
the students of Mt. Sterling High School may never forget 
the part that the students from Mt. Sterling High had in this 
war." Still quoting: "These young people have given up, for 
the present at least, their educations, their ambitions, their 
homes, and we do not know how soon some of them will give 
up their hves for their country." Patriotism was high. We 
hadn't been involved in a war for almost twenty years— since 
the Spanish-American War. 

The service flag that was presented in good faith, and 
which was accepted by a member of the junior class in the 
same spirit of patriotism, was not kept nor respected. A few 
years ago, a local student said, upon my inquiry about the 
service flag, "Is that what it is? 1 had wondered what that old 
rag in the corner of the gym meant." That is what the 
American flag has become in some instances— an old rag. 
What has become of our patriotism? 


Erma Elliott Swearingen 

The special event that I remember in connection with 
the Mt. Sterling Opera House was graduation time, 1918. The 
old high school had no auditorium to accommodate large 
groups. Therefore, the opera house was used. As a member of 
the class of 1918, 1 was privileged or commissioned to present 
the class gift to the school. We were in the midst of World 
War I. The gift was a service flag made by a women's 
organization. A star was placed on it for every man and the 
one woman in the service who had attended Mt. Sterling 


Beula Selters 

Cora Hamilton, the principal, said, "The Training 
School was organized for the practical application of 
principles of pedagogy and psychology studied in the 
classroom." Miss Hamilton wanted the subject matter to be 
taught in a given amount of time, with lesson plans handed in 
two weeks ahead of time. They showed objectives, materials 
used, procedure, and evaluation. Every Monday evening was 
critics' night, when critics and practice teachers met for 
suggestions and criticism. Here trials and tribulations, joys, 
sorrows, and funny incidents were discussed. 

Considerable emphasis was placed upon practical living 


experiences. Children were encouraged to learn by doing. A 
part of Nature Study was making of gardens. Children could 
be seen going over the hill with rakes and hoes to a garden 
near Murray Street. A great variety of vegetables were raised 
and sold to townspeople. Then, at Christmas time, 
cooperation and friendship between the grades was stressed. 
The third and fourth grades made boxes of candy for the first 
and second grades. The fifth and sixth grades made dolls for 
the third and fourth grade girls, and animals for the boys. 
Upper grades made various types of presents for each other, 
such as book ends, waste baskets, candlesticks, and fancy 
work. The last afternoon before Christmas vacation was a 
gala affair, where all presents were exchanged in the gym. 

In 1921, there were eight grades on the first floor of 
Sherman Hall. The principal's office was west of the front 
entrance, and the gym was north and down several steps. 
Each critic teacher had charge of her own room. 

My first experience in teaching was in the spring of 
1922, with Miss Mary Bennett as my critic. I was assigned to 
teach fourth grade history. What did I know about history? 
There were so many professors' bright children in that grade: 
Dorothy Waggoner, James Currens, and John Thompson. 
"Perhaps they knew more than I do," I agonized. 

And the disciphne! There was George, who talked all the 
time and whom the children called "Quackey." Miss Bennett 
advised me to be firm and perhaps surprise him sometimes. 
One day when we were studying, George spoke up, "Its so 
quiet in here, I can't think!" Then another time, I was writing 
on the blackboard and heard him talking. I thought "Now I'll 
scare that boy." So, I whirled around and shouted, "George, I 
want that stopping talked! ' ' Of course, everyone laughed and 
so did I. But at last I got off on the right foot. 


Elizabeth Kiddoo 

Dear Karen, Chris, Doug and Angela: 

I want to share some memories with you. The past 
comes crowding in around me with demands for equal time, 
but this letter can only give you a brief glimpse of my 

You will probably never have the privilege of going to a 
country school. I say privilege because I learned many more 
things than our textbooks taught in the eight years that I 

We always walked the mile each way. (What other way 
was there?) That included hot faU days on dusty roads and 
bitter cold ones when the wind left my legs stinging. No 
slacks for Grandma. Girls wore dresses. Then there were days 
that were heavenly, days when we dallied looking for the first 
spring flower, or stopped to watch tumble-bugs crossing the 

Do you know what a tumble bug is? I haven't seen one 
in years, but when we farmed with horses, they were 
plentiful. These bugs laid their eggs in smaO balls of horse 
manure. (The balls were about the size of a large marble.) 
Then, two of them, a papa and a mama, I suppose, would roll 
it with them. They took it along at a good clip, and it was 
great sport to bar their way with our foot. 

School included the magic times of recess and lunch 
hour, and we managed to make our leisure time a whopping 
success. The girls loved to play house. After we'd done our 
stint of Red Rover, Handy Andy, and baseball, we could 
usually persuade the boys to join us. But, after standing 
around looking fooUsh, they would wander off to play 
mumblety-peg. We'd won our point so we would let them go. 

Our "house" was a corner of the playground. In these 
days of toy stoves, furniture and utensils, you would think 
our play things very primitive. We imagined a lot and made 
do with strange things. Once, we got into trouble doing that. 


Do you know what burdock looks like? How the burrs 
stick and cling as you walk by them in the fall? Well, we 
discovered these burrs could be matted together into 
marvelous pans and cups. We spent one whole noon hour on a 
warm September day creating our masterpieces. The trouble 
began when the beU called us in— all sticky and perspiring. It 
seems these sneaky burrs shed their spines at the slighest 
provocation. And we had provoked them. They paid us back 
by giving us a classic case of itch. Our kindly teacher rubbed 
our skin with cold cream. But she probably had the 
squirmiest bunch of kids in history that afternoon. 

Miss Miller had never heard of correlating studies to 
make them more interesting. She just taught us the things 
she knew and loved. She not only gave us book learning, but 
also taught us to appreciate what we took for granted. 

She brought in the lovely mildweed worm. We watched 
it slowly encase itself in an iridescent chrysalis— only to 
emerge days later as a Monarch butterfly. Our teacher had 

She also taught us to love poetry. The first goldenrod in 
the fall always reminds me of her and the poem we recited, 
"To a Goldenrod." 




Viola A. Stout 

Country school was like a family affair. The older ones 
helped the little ones. AU eight grades were taught; 
sometimes the fifth and sixth grades, and the seventh and 
eighth grades, were alternated, the fifth and seventh taught 
on year, and the sixth and eighth the next. Younger ones 
learned some from hearing the older ones recite. Strange to 

say, we learned to spell, read, and write. We learned the 
discipline of taking time to do things well. Perhaps this is 
because the teacher was always saying, "Spell correctly, read 
correctly, write correctly." 

What winter fun we had! Instead of morning and 
afternoon recess, we used barely five minutes each for going 
to the little house out back, giving us 20 extra minutes at 
noon. We all, big and little, went to the hill nearby for 
coasting, for some of the boys brought sleds. The teacher 
rang two bells. At the warning bell we were expected to start 
back, but sometimes we were not quite there when the last 
bell rang. Then the clothes were spread to dry before time to 
go home. 

Physical education was not a compulsory subject; 
hence, it was not avoided by anyone. Most of the teachers 
played the. piano, and children sang every day, just for 

I especially remember an apple tree near a fence on the 
way to school. Such delicious fruit! Somehow we knew that 
the farmer did not object to our taking some, as long as the 
apples were not wasted and the fence not broken. 

This is not to imply that we always got along together. 
There were many quarrels and some fist fights on the way 
home. But we just about had to work together, with few 
prejudices. Perhaps this was partially because, although our 
parents were not aU church goers, practically all of them 
believed in the Ten Commandments. Actions were either 
right or they were wrong. When a child was punished by the 
teacher for wrongdoing, parents did not rush to school to 
blame the teacher. In fact, they were sometimes doubly 
punished. If a child in a fit of anger took and damaged a book 
belonging to another child, the teacher took him to apologize, 
and father had him work for the money for another book. This 
was not considered unfair by the other students. 


Nell Dace Turner 

To all women who think the old days were better I 
dedicate this script, with the reminder that way back then, a 
man who was without pride, fear, or conscience could leave 
his wife if he had the means to escape into the wild west or get 
aboard a tramp steamer. But a woman that married and hved 
to rue it, endured it if it killed her, and it frequently did. 
Among the many pearls of wisdom I have heard from men, 
the one that made a renegade of me was that "a woman didn't 
need an education to suckle a baby." 

We had a landlord who looked more like Santa Claus 
than any man I have seen since, and I stiU think he was the 
biggest cheat between these two rivers. They say this world 
has been hanging in space for a mind boggling length of time. 
In such a stretch of time there must have been human blood 
spilled on most of it because humans wanted to control a 
piece of the earth enough to risk death for it. He did. 

But there were other people. One Mabel Croxton, now 
Mabel Crandall, cut up an old dress and made one for me so I 
could go to Sunday School. Then there was my grandfather, 
whose farm looked Uke a garden of Gods because he loved it 
so. Naked trees grew misty with the new born buds in spring. 
Orchards followed with an extravaganza of bloom. 
Strawberry rows, nurse cropped with Ladino clover with its 
dehcate pink bloom, a riot of color and breath taking 
fragrance growing out of black soil and mold and decay. 
Raspberry rows in bloom looked hke a church aisle decorated 
for a wedding. Fruit and nuts in the fall because he'd no more 
allow a nut tree to be cut than he would a fruit tree. Good 

There was asparagus, one cutting of which would buy a 
week's supply of groceries. We still see some of it along road 
fences but nothing Uke the old days because we fertilized it 
with chicken manure, and the chickens are gone, too. I don't 
believe chemical fertilizers are anything more than 

stimulants, which along with herbicides will lay our land 
waste long before nuclear weapons will. 

This old fashioned farm was my Bible and compass thru 
a distraught childhood and the money panic of 1907, when 
Chicago packers were sending spoiled meat to the soldiers of 
the Spanish-American War. Teddy Roosevelt was telling 
them that he'd slap them in jail if he ever got the power. They 
told him they'd worry about that when he got the power. You 
know what happened in 1907 when Teddy pulled the trigger 
that got us pure food laws. My Grandmother assured me that 
I could have everything from lots of apples to a parlor organ 
if I'd go to school and study hard. So go to school 1 did, thru 
storms that can now stall the school busses, and I have a 
parlor organ with twenty-two speakers. 

At the end of grade school 1 went to the courthouse in 
RushviUe to write my final examination, and there in the 
judge's seat was our county superintendent. He fulfilled his 
official duty by riding from school to school with a shotgun 
under his buggy seat, stopping at most of the barns to shoot 
pigeons. That was when 1 learned to love pigeons and learned 
of the noble sacrifices they can make to protect their young, 
but the ultra dignified superintendent threw me so that day, 
that when 1 picked up the questions, 1 was in such a panic I 
couldn't have answered a single one of them. 1 even lost the 
quarter Mother had given me to buy a hot meal in a 
restaurant. She said it would help me to think better. This 
was the last straw, and 1 fell to sobbing so that other writers 
gathered round to comfort me. I soon found that they didn't 
like the superintendent any better than I did, and they 
guessed that it was he that threw me. That made me feel less 
alone, and when they told me the papers would be graded in 
Springfield, that helped too. One of them found my quarter 
on the floor, and by then I had the wit to look and see how the 
superintendent had taken this. He had fallen asleep, his 
mouth was hanging open, and from that day to this I've been 
pretty careful about going to sleep in public for fear of 
looking as silly as he did then. 

I picked up the questions and found there were ten of 
them, and it said to answer any eight. Still shaky, I answered 
aU of them. 

The superintendent left at noon, which improved the air, 
so I stayed and wrote straight thru, not a bit hungry or tired, 
and was able to buy enough beefsteak with my quarter for 
the whole family. 

I waited three agonizing weeks for the return of the 
papers. I was cleaning out the cistern when Dad called me to 
come up. He and mother were all smiles. 1 had won a Lindley 
Scholarship, and that was how I landed at Western. There I 
bathed a biUion dishes at Grote Hall, then called Monroe 
Hall, to pay my board. 

I suppose all State Universities are wonderful, but if I 
were totally unbiased, I still think I'd love Western the most. 
While other colleges were making punk preachers out of 
crackerjack mechanics. Western was ferreting out natural 
talents and giving elective courses. 

I still wonder who or by what process they pick their 
teachers, for it is certainly uncanny how they never miss. 

Oscar Champion made bookkeeping hke an absorbing 
game. His course alone would have enabled anyone who 
undertook it to make a hving. 

CaroUne Grote lectured us about losing our minds over a 
boy for no better reason than that he had curly hair, but she 
didn't make us feel like simpletons when we did. She thought 
we'd get over it, but unfortunately some of us never did. 

Martha Hinkle was one we all wanted to be like. She 
made the poor students working their way through feel that 
they had something the wealthy ones hadn't, we really did, 
but how were we to know that then? 

From those days to these when I pass a Red Cross sign 
with the words "The Greatest Mother on Earth, " I think of 
Cora Hamilton. It was hke she taught students to swim when 
she knew they had a deep dark river to cross. According to 
her theory, it was a rare child that hadn't a talent of some 
kind, and if it could be found, that child would exceed a 

normal one in that particular thing. I have heard that one of 
her pupils invented a plough part while working in a Canton 

1 can't remember the name of my history teacher, but 
she made history seem as thrilUng as a "Who-done-it" and as 
unforgetable as a first love. 

A fat jolly geography teacher, whose name also escapes 
me, made geography class seem hke a world tour. I still think 
most people could take such a tour without seeing and 
hearing the things he talked about. If he caught us dozing or 
not paying attention, he'd say: "Now there goes all my 
sweetness wasted on the desert air." 

Apropos of Miss Hamilton's theory that there are few 
without talent, a thoroughly disoriented old lady taught me 
how to unravel yarn and I made a httle extra money there 
mending faculty pants, which points up to the fact that the 
profession that tops the list in molding our future is among 
the poorest paid, for here were landmark teachers still having 
to wear patched pants. 


Marion Y. Baker 

Not too many years after I left, all the httle country 
schools were ruthlessly converted to grain storage, homes for 
the imaginative or the improvident, or were allowed to sadly 
rot away. The lucky ones were bulldozed or moved, and their 
httle plots of ground were absorbed by the surrounding 
fields. Their contribution to education had come to an end; 
they and their outbuildings had disappeared. I wonder what 
ever happened to our well? Soon all that was left were the 
frail memories of those of us who had spent important hours 
within their walls. Even those memories faded unless jogged 
by circumstance. 

Some years ago my memory received a jog. With my 

family well grown, I returned to the class room, this time in a 
city university. Heady "new" ideas were daily fare within our 
graduate classes. Challenging assignments included 
consideration of these new ideas. Suddenly multi-level class 
rooms, individuahzed progress, and independent study 
gained new meaning. Somewhere there was a feehng, "I've 
been here before." Some way I knew many of the strengths 
and weaknesses of these new ideas. Sometime back in my 
childhood, I had experienced the prototype of the most recent 
educational cure-all: the open classroom. With a rush, the 
picture emerged— clear and unadorned. There was the child 
who was allowed to keep all her text books in the neat piles on 
top of her desk, not in it. Only her most important papers 
were housed inside the desk. At her own pace, she adjusted to 
the normal use of a school desk, and no trauma marred the 
cheerful turning of the days. 

Most of the time during those years I was the only 
member of my grade, and so I could advance as rapidly as my 
abihty and the teacher's time would permit. When not busy 
with required assignments, I was free to indulge in a wide 
spectrum of mind-stretching activities. There was the terrific 
experience of listening to the older students' lessons. There 
was the exploration of the non-educational contents of "the 
bookcase. " There was almost unhmited time to draw, to cut, 
to paste, and to dream. The only hmitations were "no noise" 
and "regular work done." 

Mother fretted the year one fairly inexperienced teacher 
had me go through the same reader three times, while one of 
my class-mates was stumbling through it once. What my 
mother didn't realize was that, with my required fifteen 
minutes of oral reading out of the way, I had free reign to 
shudder, first at the pictures and later at the text of a 
ferocious tome on Africa. There were also two or three 
volumes of the "Boy Allies" series, a sort of Horatio Alger 
treatment of World War I. These and a wide variety of other 
books marked my early "independent studies" program. 

I would be most remiss if I failed to salute the 

"enrichment program " which our dedicated teachers 
provided. Extra hours and energy were spent teaching us 
"the Charleston," organizing field days with other country 
schools, and encouraging us to reach out to the world beyond. 
I am sure the actual amount of knowledge we accumulated 
was hmited, but we were respected, encouraged, and 
rewarded at a time when each of these was supremely 
important. So it was that I never found my one room school 
experience a hindrance. In fact, as I stand and listen to the 
wind in the dry cornfield of September, I deeply wish all 
children could have such a Liberating experience. There is no 
doubt I came from a family where education was prized 
beyond most things. But my one room school took the 
healthy curiosity nurtured by my family and encouraged it 
sturdy growth. 


Burton O. Goodwin 

As time went on, we grew up and wore long pants, 
sharpened our pocket knives to the point where we could get 
the "fuzz" off that was beginning to appear on our faces, and 
we were ready to step out and Uke the girls. In school the 
notes would be written and passed down the aisles, and the 
whispering and giggUng started until our teacher, Mabel 
Persinger, who was probably eighteen or nineteen years old, 
would punish those caught whispering by making them write 
the word "whisper," or some other word, 100 times on the 
blackboard. That way we learned how to spell as the rest of 
the school laughed. The worst punishment she gave was to 
draw a ring on the blackboard about 3 inches above our nose, 
and she would make us hold our noses in this ring for 10 
minutes. To do this we had to stand on our tiptoes to reach 
the ring, and our legs would hurt and it was very tu-esome, so 

we would drop our heels to the floor. Immediately she gave us 
a "whack" with her Uttle whip, and we returned to the 
"tiptoe" position again. 


Nelda B. Cain 

When I taught school I always enjoyed playing Long 
Town at recess time with my pupils. Everyone enjoyed this 
game. I've wondered how it got its name. We began by 
having two players choose up sides. One of these would toss 
the bat to the other, who'd catch it by the handle with one 
hand. Then each of these two in his turn would place his hand 
above the other's hand proceeding toward the top. Whoever 
reached the top first with enough grasp that he was able to 
toss the bat ten feet behind him, had first choice of the 
players, and they took turns choosing till all players were 
chosen. First graders were the last to be chosen, but all were 
allowed to play. This game has two bases. The first one was 
near the batter's box, and the second was about fifty yards 
away. This last distance depended on the space available. The 
bat was a home-made one of a heavy board three or four 
inches wide, whittled smooth especially at the handle. The 
ball was also home-made of an old sock, which was unravelled 
and wound into a ball. This was stitched over and over to hold 
the yarn in place. The children made these balls at home and 
were very proud to make a new one when the old one became 
worn and frazzled. This happened quite frequently, no matter 
how well it was made. 

Since Team A got first choice of players, it was the rule 
that Team B was to get the bats first and Team A was to take 
the field. Now there are three ways the fielding team can get 
the bats. First, it can catch a base runner off the base and hit 
him with the ball. (You can see how it was necessary to have a 

soft ball.) Secondly, you can catch a fly (a batted ball). 
Thirdly, if the last batter on the side that is batting strikes 
but misses and the catcher catches it, he is out and there are 
no more batters. In all three of these cases, the fielding team 
must scramble onto a base without getting hit and if they 
accomphshed this, they have the bats. (I should mention that 
a fly can be called caught if it's caught in the air or on its first 

Now it's time for the first batter to be up, usually it's a 
first grader. The best batters are saved for the last. He 
strikes and misses. The catcher catches it so the first grader 
must get on first base. He's allowed to walk to first base in 
this case. The next batter hits a fly which enables both the 
batter and the first grader, both, to get to second base safely. 
Now they are hoping that the next batter will get a hit that 
will get them safely home where they can await their next 
time at bat. So it goes, with the bats changing sides real 
often. I wonder if anyone ever plays Long Town anymore? It 
is a lot more fun than Softball. 

^,^^^^^^. i^^ ^ ^ ^ ^i i, ^i^r .^^^^^^J^^ ^^ , ^^ , '' l ^^:^^,^/ , ^f'i^^^ 

V ^in Lizzies, 8tc. 


In terms of its total social, economic, political and 
historical implications, the automobile had been more 
important than almost any other twentieth-century 
innovation. It removed romance and courtship from the 
parlor, the front porch swing and the gazebo, and it placed it 
in the perilous confines of the front (or back) seat of the 
family Buick. The entire quick food business, now the biggest 
industry in America, owes its growth to the ability of people 
to transport themselves by automobile. Shopping centers 
have replaced town squares. City families which had been 
Democratic in their political affihation now form the basis of 
the new American surban conservatism. Some economists 
and historians will even argue that the rise and the decline of 
the automobile may well parallel the rise and fall of the 
American hegemony. 

All of this began a long time ago, and although all of the 
following pieces do not concern themselves with the auto, 
most do. In some ways, and rather fortunately to, the 
automobile in its earhest form was not entirely devoid of 
personality. Farmers who had been used to horses with 
varying dispositions— animals who balked at trains or noises 
or ruts in the road— quickly found a deja vu in the 
automobile. Few of those early Overlands, Stars, 
Oldsmobiles, or Model T Fords were devoid of some 
individual quirk. To play upon a punnish aspect of the beast, 
they were "a cranky" lot. That is to say, until the innovation 
of the self-starter, the engine had to be turned over by hand 
and crank until spark and gasoline combined to set the engine 
going all by itself. 

There were times when the struggles between machines 
and men were titanic ones. In winter, engines which were cold 
and sticky with turgid oil were cranked and cranked and 
cranked. Once started, the radiator of the car had to be 
quickly fiUed with water— antifreeze not being commonly 
available then. Even with the engine purring along in frigid 

weather, there was no quarantee that, through some freak of 
wind and nature, the radiator would not freeze as soHd as the 
water in the barnyard trough. This calamity would, unless 
corrected, bring down further problems upon the back of the 
hitherto proud automobile owner. 

Americans of some sixty or seventy years ago were an 
adventurous lot. The characteristic was in some ways a 
remnant of the frontier period. There was almost nothing in 
the way of a road system, and whatever routes existed were 
merely mud roads marked by painted slashes upon telephone 
or power poles. Traveling fifty miles from home was a major 
expedition. One of our contributors detailed a trip from her 
western Illinois residence to a small town in western Missouri 
in 1920. What a risk that was! Several hundred miles were to 
be covered on mud roads, with undependable tires and 
engine, without roadside restaurants or motels, and almost 
nothing in the way of necessary comforts. Yet she writes: "I 
can still recall our excitement at the prospect of making our 
first trip in our secondhand Model T Ford." 

But this was the 1920's and a decade of the kind of 
individualism which helped to transform America into the 
industrial giant which it came to be. Lindbergh, as is noted 
by one of our writers, was flying the mail route from St. Louis 
to Chicago; in a few years he would fly his little Ryan 
monoplane all the way from New York to Paris. Other 
Americans were inventing, discovering and, in some cases, 
just taking risks for the sheer pleasure of doing so. Isoroko 
Yamamoto, a later architect of early Japanese naval 
successes in World War II, noted this trait in the American 
character. He wrote: "It is a mistake to regard the Americans 
as luxury-loving and weak. I can tell you Americans are full 
of the spirit of justice, fight and adventure. Also their 
thinking is very advanced and scientific. Lindbergh's solo 
crossing of the Atlantic is a sort of valiant act which is 
normal for them." 

During the mid-1920's, both state and federal roads 
were laid down throughout lUinois— narrow ribbons of 

concrete or brick when viewed from a distance, yet still wide 
enough to allow two cars to pass abreast. But many of the old 
ways remained, reluctant to go with the passage of time and 
change. Even in 1930, while the Great Depression raged, one 
could see the standing remains of Hvery stables in the smaller 
and more remote towns. Many farmers still depended upon 
horses— the "Saries" and "Maudes" of writer Beulah 
Bellow's youth. Other travelers, as one may see, still 
travelled on the Illinois or Mississippi rivers by steamboat. 
Almost all of these writers do not bemoan the passing of the 
horse or boat age, however. Progress in their eyes has been 
the elimination of the horse as a mode of transport and the 
eventual building of more comfortable automobiles as well as 
the roads upon which to drive them. 

Almost every philosopher, trained or homespun, 
recognizes that a life is but an instant in the long history of 
the universe. Yet, for the senior citizens of the 1980's, the 
changes within that instant have been momentous and 
startUng. When Charles Edgar Duryea was maturing into 
adulthood in the 1880's, the automobile was but a dream of 

the visionary mind. Fortunately for himself and for the 
nation, Duryea was well-favored with that sort of mental 
equipment. When he attended a two-year course in a 
seminary at LaHarpe, Illinois, he chose to write a graduation 
thesis entitled "Rapid Transit Other Than on Rails." Not 
only did he predict the automobile— a self-fulfilling prophecy 
in his case— but he also prophesied that individuals would be 
flying from the United States to Europe in from six to twelve 

Most of the senior citizens who write here have hved 
long enough to have gone from the horse transport to the 
space age. None of it has been easy, though it is a common 
error of the young to suppose that it was so. Progress never 
really is easy. One of our writers describes a harrowing ride 
with her mother across a flooding stream in a Model T Ford. 
Once having reached safety on the other side, the mother, 
with a sigh of relief, cried: "Whee kids, we made it." Each of 
the senior citizens who write below could very properly make 
the same thankful statement. 


Bob Hulsen 

Five kids clapped their hands, Mom brushed the seat 
cushions in admiration, and Dad grinned when we got a 
Model T. Little did we know about the nature of this 
mechanical addition to our family and the adventures it was 
to provide. The car had a personahty. It could purr like a 
kitten and kick like a mulel Getting along with it required 
coordination of hands, feet, ears and eyes far more precise 
than required by any horse. Almost everyone called the 
Model T their "Tin Lizzie" or "Flivver." 

The Model T had three floor pedals: the clutch, on the 
left, reverse, in the middle, and brake, on the right. Attached 
to the steering column were two levers: the spark, on the left, 
and the gas (accelerator today), on the right. The driver was 
required to regulate and relate the gas to the spark. Retarded 
spark and accelerated gas would give the car coughing fits 
and a terrible stuttering. Too much spark and not enough gas 
would allow the engine to idle, and it would die. Speeders in 
those days bragged about "holding its ears all the way 
down." This meant advancing both gas and spark as far as 
possible for maximum speed. (Good Lizzies would do about 
40 miles per hour at top speed, and that was flying!) 

Starting the engine was tricky and often dangerous. 
Cars were fitted with a crank which protruded from beneath 
the radiator. There were two ways to crank a Ford: spin the 
engine or the quarter pull. Cars in good shape or warm could 
usually be started with a quarter turn upward pull. Cold 
engines, or those with minor illness, required spinning. This 
meant engaging the crank and turning the engine as fast as 
possible. The first step was always to set the gas and spark 
levers. If the spark was advanced, the car would kick the 
crank backward. Just as a person on crutches today 
commonly signifies a skiing accident, in those days a broken 
arm was often an indication of too much spark and the thumb 
over the crank. Safetv-conscious drivers learned to crank bv 

not using the opposing thumb. The car also needed choking 
while being cranked. This was accomplished by means of a 
wire protruding from the side of the radiator. A finger 
through the loop in the wire held the choke out with the left 
hand while the motor was cranked with the right hand. Care 
was taken to be sure the crank was engaged because the spin 
was started by pushing down on the crank. Mom lost a tooth 
during her first lesson in starting the car when the crank 
slipped out on the downward push and she bit the 
radiator cap. 

No sane person ever attempted to start his car on a 
winter morning without a teakettle of boiling water and a 
jack. The procedure was to jack up a rear wheel so it would 
turn while the car was cranked. Next was the pouring of 
boiling water over the manifold and carburetor to warm 
things up and get Lizzie in the notion of running. People were 
frequently run over by ungrateful cars when the engine 
started and the car slipped off the jack. 

Tin Lizzies had two speeds, low and high. Pushing the 
clutch pedal all the way to the floor put the car in low gear. 
Holding the clutch pedal half way down kept the vehicle in 
neutral and releasing the clutch pedal altogether shifted to 
high gear. When standing, the car was running, the driving 
sequence went like this: 

1. Push clutch halfway to floor. 

2. Release emergency brake. 

3. Give her some gas (accelerate). 

4. Push clutch to floor— more gas. 

5. When rolling good— 

(a) Retard gas lever (decelerate). 

(b) Take foot off clutch 

(c) Give her more gas and set speed 

To stop the car, you had to shut off the gas, push the 
clutch half way to the floor (left foot) and push the brake 
pedal all the way to floor (right foot). Hazards: If the clutch 


was more than half way down, the car would continue to 
move in low gear. (A lady in our town, was trying to stop for a 
rail crossing, eventually hit and pushed over flagman's 
shanty— and him in it!) If the clutch was less half way down, 
the car would remain in high gear, and would hop, buck, and 
die. In going up hills, if the car refused to climb in low, 
chances were the transmission bands were worn. In this 
event, an option was to turn the car around, hold the clutch 
pedal half way down, press the reverse pedal all the way to 
the floor, give it some gas, and back up the hill. 

Maintenance of the Model T was not difficult, and most 
famihes handled it unless the car had a serious affliction, like 
burned out bearings or broken connecting rods. Grinding 
valves, removing carbon, and changing brake bands were 
Saturday morning jobs about once a month. Bands were a 
composition material which lined horseshoe-shaped steel 
strips, and they could be purchased at almost any business 
establishment, except saloons. A hazard was the possibility 
of dropping the bolts down into the transmission. That was a 
calamity! What started as a 2-hour job could last a week 
while we tried to invent ways to fish the bolts from the 
bowels of Old Lizzie. Anyone with a Ford Wrench (a thinner 
version of the Monkey Wrench), a pair of pliers, a 
screwdriver, a spark plug wrench, a couple of spring levers 
(with which to change tires), and a tire pump could maintain a 
Model T in reasonable operating condition. 

The air-conditioning system was simple. We took off the 
side curtains. They were made of a canvas-like material with 
isingglass for windows. The glass was usually very murky 
and cracked; it broke easily and had a short life. The curtains 
were fastened by snaps or turn buttons, most of which got 
damaged early in the Ufe of the car. The coldest hands I ever 
remember were from holding the side curtains to keep them 
from flapping. It was no mystery why horses bolted when 
they met that strange creature rushing along flopping its 
wings because the occupants couldn't tie down the curtains. 

A trip of 50 miles was a major undertaking. Those were 
the days of high pressure tires. They were about three inches 
in diameter, and we put from 50 to 90 pounds of air in them. 
They didn't last many miles and frequently blew out with a 
terrible bang! Everyone took plenty of spares. I can 
remember old Liz looking like she had a roll of hfesavers 
strapped to her back. We had blowouts and flats ever few 
miles, but we carried repair kits of cement and patches of old 
inner tubes. 

The gas tank was under the front seat. To check the fuel 
supply, everybody got out, the cushion was removed, and the 
level of gas was measured with a wooden stick carried under 
the seat. Checking the oil was accomphshed by crawling 
under the car and opening a petcock. There were two on the 
transmission case. Service stations and wealthier people had 
a three-foot rod with a U-shaped tip on one end with which to 
open the cocks to check the oil without crawling beneath the 

The only antifreeze was alcohol (the de-natured variety). 
Occasionally, since those were Prohibition days, thirsty souls 
tried a Uttle of this radiator water to ease the tension. Papers 
periodically carried sad stories of the loss of eyesight and 
even death caused by drinking antifreeze. 

A common disease among older Fords was a loosening 
and wearing of the front wheel brushings and spindles. 
Sometimes while cruising along at a fair rate of speed the car 
would go into an uncontrollable "shimmy." The front wheels 
would wobble fiercely, and the vibration was so violent even 
the strongest men could not hold the steering wheel steady. 
There was only one remedy. It was to stop the car and start 
over again. It would run straight for awhile until it hit two 
rocks or bumps in the road at a certain angle that would 
throw old Liz into the "shimmy." It was impossible to make a 
favorable impression on anyone if you had a car that would 
unexpectedly give its impersonation of the St. Vitus Dance. 

Frequently, passengers would complain until the driver 
stopped and instituted a search for an offending horse hair 


that had worked its way through the cushion and was 
causing discomfort. This was a chronic ailment of older or 
misused flivvers. 

It was a mighty long step from a horse and buggy to a 
"fUwer." Model T's would operate over roads no modern car 
would tackle. They weren't much for looks or comfort, but 
they produced millions of home grown mechanics and made 
an automobile a necessity. 


Hattie S. Smith 

"Come away with me Lucile, in my merry Oldsmobile" 
was a popular song in the early days of the automobile. 

Very few young men were so fortunate as to have a 
father who owned a car, and not many of those were trusted 
to drive it. I was in my teens when my father purchased our 
first car, and I was one of the first women in our 
neighborhood to learn to drive. My father farmed for many 
years with horses and the machinery which was used with 
them, but he couldn't seem to learn how to operate a car. 
Unhke a horse the car would not stay in the road while father 
looked at the crops and Hvestock of his neighbors as he 
passed by so I was given the job of being his driver. 

You didn't just cUmb into the car and take off, if you 
were going more than a mile or two. First, you inspected the 
gasohne supply, which you chd by inserting a stick which was 
marked to indicate gallons into the tank located under the 
front seat. If more was needed, you got it from a steel barrel 
by inserting a short length of rubber hose into the opening on 
the side and then with your thumb held firmly over the end 
you quickly drew the hose part way out and into a can with a 
spout. If this did not start the gasohne flowing you had to 
suck on the hose until the flow started. You were lucky if you 
didn't get a mouthfull of the stuff. Then you poured what you 
could into the car's tank, which was not easy. 

There were oil cups to tighten and a few places to oil 
with a can with a long spout. Be sure to put water in the 
radiator— it always leaked. Inspect the tires— at least one 
was sure to need some air which was supphed by hand 
operated pump and much hard work. Make sure you have a 
supply of tire patches, for you might need one before you got 
back home. 

One of the greatest hazards of ch-iving was meeting or 
passing horse-drawn vehicles, for the horses didn't like those 
noisy wagons. They were Ukely to take to the ditch or stand 
on their hind legs and paw the air while the driver tried to 
control them— and no doubt said some harsh words about 
cars and the folks who drove them. 

One man said it was easier to get his horse past a car 
than it was to get his wife past it, as she insisted on getting 
out of the carriage and standing by the fence until the 
approaching car had passed by. 

You might wonder about the coats called dusters, and 
the veils over our hats, which we wore when we dressed in our 
best clothes, but if you ever traveled a country road in 
summer when the dust was inches deep and billowing into the 
sky like a fog, you would know why. 

One hot summer day I was taking some of the family to 
town when I heard a hissing sound and then a bumping and I 
knew a tire was flat. Changing a tire wasn't a simple matter 
of taking off a wheel and putting on another, as there was no 
spare. First, you raised the wheel off the ground by a thing 
called a jack, loosened a few bolts, and removed the tire and 
the metal rim on which it was mounted. Pry off the tire and 
remove the tube, pump a httle air into it so you could find the 
leak and then apply a patch. Put it all back together and 
pump if full of air again. Nice exercise on a hot day. Off we go 
again, but soon there was that hissing sound again. As I 
looked for a level place to park, my young cousin in the back 
seat began to laugh and admitted that he had made the noise. 

An old lady friend of my mothers had remarked that she 
couldn't come to visit us anymore because it was hard for her 


to climb into the carriage, so mother told her that I would 
come get her in our car, which I did one sunny day. I got her 
seated by me and started off at a slow pace, as I didn't want 
to frighten her. After a few minutes, she said: "Ah, let it go, I 
ain't scared." So I speeded up to probably a 30 mile hour 
pace, which was considered fast enough, while Mrs. K. held 
on to her sun-bonnet with both hands and got a thriU out of 
her first car ride. 

You didn't go anywhere when the roads were muddy 
and, if you were caught out on the road in a storm, it was best 
to stop for a while because it was no small job to unroll the 
side curtains from where they were held in the top of the car 
and get them buttoned in place. You had even more trouble if 
the top was folded down the way we liked it in the summer. 

In winter, cars were put in storage, as there was no anti- 
freeze and the radiator soon froze. The roads were usually too 
rough to drive on anyway. 

Then about 1920 someone thought of spraying crude oil 
on the roads to hold down the dust and also to shed water so 
the roads didn't get so muddy. This worked very well, except 
the sticky stuff splashed up on the cars, stuck to our shoes, 
and ruined clothes. 

Yes, those were the "good old days." Well, you can have 
them, I much prefer the present roads and convenient cars, 
and I am thankful that I am still able to use both of them. 


Eunice Stone DeShane 

This particular event happened more than sixty years 
ago, but I can still recall it as if it were yesterday. Runaways 
were quite common then because horses were traded, bought, 
sold, and raised from colts, and they were quite valuable. 
Some were born mean, and no amount of work or training 

with them would change them. Some had long family 
histories recorded in the stud book. Others were just horses. 
Some were kept in the family 'til they died, others were 
"trading stock", to be traded or sold to any unwary buyer. It 
was just such a horse that my father acquired at a horse sale 
one summer's day. He came leading her home tied to the 
saddle horn of an older horse that had belonged to my 
grandfather. This horse was named Sam, and anyone could 
do anything with him. My father drove him "single, double, 
either side of the pole." 

When my father came down the lane, I could see that 
this horse he had bought was "something different." She was 
a beautiful sorrel color with white feet and a white stripe 
down her nose. My father said everyone bid on her, and we 
paid a big price for her. My mother was worried because she 
seemed so "high strung"; that is, she would throw her head 
up and look all round. At the sale no one seemed to know 
where she had come from or who her owner was— which was 
unusual. But my father thought she was beautiful, and of 
course, she was. 

He couldn't wait to hitch her up with Sam. We called her 
Bonnie, which was an appropriate name. He drove them all 
around and told my mother that this team was matched well 
by size and seemed to share the load, what ever it was. They 
pulled evenly together. 

My father had a livestock feed and grain business, 
where he sold hay and ground feed— salt-block and 
barrel— and molasses. He would have to haul feed home from 
the depot down in Moline. Usually farmers would go right 
down to the depot and load up from the railroad car which 
would stand on the siding until the feed or hay was all sold 
from it. 

One day not long after he had bought Bonnie, he told us 
that he was going to go to the depot to get a load of feed so 
that he could empty the car, and not pay storage on it. 

I remember 1 wanted to go with him, and he said that I 
would have to wait until next time because he had to stop at 

Gottsch harness shop to have Bonnie's bridle repaired. She 
had caught it in the barn and had torn off the throat latch. 

I was really upset, because even though I was only four 
years old, my father used to let me drive the team or Sam on 
the road cart, when he went down town. I really thought I 
was big! We would pick up the mail at the post office on third 
avenue between 18th and 19th Street. 

Anyway, on this certain day he told me I had to stay 
home. Boy was I upset! I wanted to drive the new horse. I can 
remember my mother telling my father to be careful. It would 
be the first time my dad took Bonnie downtown. He had gone 
to the post office and was going to the harness shop for the 
repairs. He took off Bonnie's bridle and tied a rope from a 
halter to the harness on "Sam". He went inside with the 
bridle and was on his way out to stand by the horses when a 
train whistle sounded a couple of blocks away. 

Before he got outside to the horses, they were rounding 
the corner and heading back toward home. The train whistle 
had frightened Bonnie, and even though Sam was not afraid, 
Bonnie was puUing him along. The tongue came out of the 
neck yoke and was going from side to side on the street. My 
father could not get to them; he could only stand and watch. 
The crossing guard had seen the horses coming toward the 
railroad tracks, and he came running down the street to see if 
he could stop them. He thought I was in the wagon! I usuaUy 
sat down, and so he couldn't see me anyway. When he found 
out I wasn't in there, he told my father that he was so 
reheved! Anyway, the wagon broke loose from the horses, 
but they came to where some rail cars were on the siding. 
Sam set his feet and stopped, but Bonnie kept on down the 
track. She jumped between two raikoad boxcars and stripped 
off her harness. My father finally caught both horses and 
went along picking up the pieces of harness and the wagon. 

He had to leave every bit of harness, except the collars, 
with Mr. Gottsch to repair. He borrowed a couple of halters 
and led those two horses home. He had to wait about a week 
for the harness to be sewed. It was just hke new when he 

drove down and picked it up with Sam on cart. I can still see 
my father leading the horses to the barn with only their 
collars on. My mother was so upset! She said: "What if 
Eunice had been with you? She may have been killed!" I 
guess I wasn't supposed to have gone with him that day. 

We didn't have Bonnie much longer. She died of the 
"colic." To her dying day whenever she heard even a far-a- 
way train whistle she was ready to run. No one ever found out 
why. It must have been a terrible fear. We all speculated on 
it. She could have been in a train wreck. Horses were shipped 
by rail sometimes. We would only guess the reason, and we 
would forever wonder about it. 


Esther Halemuyer 

I was born and grew up on a small place just west of the 
small town of Brussels. I was the only child my Dad and 
Mother had, who were living with my Great Aunt. She spoke 
nothing but German. My husband, my daughter, and I are 
still Hving at the same place, in the south end of Calhoun 
County, which is almost surrounded by the Illinois and 
Mississippi Rivers, except where Calhoun joins Pike County 
at the north end. 

During the early years of my life, we had a large garden, 
and some apple trees, and we milked several cows and made 
and sold butter. We had quite a few chickens, hogs for 
butchering, and several horses to use for buggy and wagon 

Since Calhoun never had any railroads, those were the 
days when everything was shipped to St. Louis by 
steamboats. There were landing places along both rivers, 
where the farmers took their livestock and grain to be taken 
to the markets in that city. 

Some of the names of the landing places along our two 

rivers where the boats stopped to load the produce had names 
like Hastings, Buches, Royal, Martins, Poppeltons, Blooms, 
Ours, Calhoun, plus a lot more. 

My dad would hitch the horses to our buggy and take 
two wooden cases of eggs to a landing on boat days. Each egg 
case contained thirty dozen eggs. 

When apples were ripe, they were picked and put in 
wooden barrels (which held two and one-half bushels of 
apples), and loaded on a wooden wagon, and then horses were 
hitched to the wagon. Livestock was also loaded in wagons 
and shipped the same way. Wheat was put in sacks, which 
were filled with about 150 pounds of grain. 

All the stores in this area got their supplies by boats 
coming from St. Louis. Coffee, flour, and sugar were shipped 
in 100-pound bags. Crackers came in large wooden boxes. 
Even ice cream came by boats. The ice cream was put in 
metal cans, and those cans were put in heavy wooden 
containers, which had ice packed around the metal cans. 

Also, in those days, my dad would take my mother and 
myself by horse and buggy to one of the landings to get the 
boat to go to St. Louis, to our dentist. And because I had to 
wear glasses since the age of 1 1 years, we would go to our eye 

The boats were built in two stories. The lower deck was 
where hvestock was put in small pens, and chickens were 
shipped in wooden coops. Grain was stored; also apple barrels 
were put down here. At that time Calhoun was known as the 
apple county. There was also a place for the hard working 
deck hands to stay, who slept between landings. 

The upstairs had small state rooms on both sides of the 
boat, which were the sleeping rooms for the passengers. The 
large center was used for serving home cooked meals for the 
passengers. On the very top was the pilot house. It was where 
the pilot operated the boat, which used a wood-burning 

It would usually take us about ten to twelve hours to 
make the trip to St. Louis. However, one time we were 24 

hours making this trip, as there was so much produce from 
Calhoun to get loaded. 

When we got to the St. Louis landing dock, we would go 
up the hiU and get a trolley car and stay at our cousin's home 
for about a week or ten days. Then, when ready to come back 
home, we would go to the boat dock and get on a boat that 
was going to Calhoun. 

Most of these childhood trips were a great pleasure to 
me, and 1 have always remembered them with pleasure. 


Martha Crabb 

After dinner Charlotte and MarGinny helped Mamma 
with the dishes and then went to the barn lot and out to their 
own tool-house under the hedge row and near the big farm 
gate. It was not really a tool-house but they loved it anyway. 
They had collected old rusty nails, pieces of iron from wagons 
and machinery, bolts, nuts, screws, and broken tools. 
Perhaps there were some tools not so broken, and papa would 
not have approved had he known about it. All of these things 
they had carefully sorted out, and with great precision they 
had all of their treasure laid out on the hog house roof. It was 
a wonderful place— up high where there was privacy, and 
since it was under the old hedge trees, there was a green 
ceihng which swept down over the entire tool house. It was 
even nicer when the July and August sun sent shafts of hot 
sunshine through holes in the hedge tree ceihng, and the 
whole place smelled of warm pine mixed with a faint trace of 

They played there most of the sunny afternoon. After 
they got the cows. Mamma caUed them to get cleaned up and 
set the table. All of this they did excitedly and quickly 
because they knew that, after supper. Midget would be 
hitched to the new pony cart. 

After supper the whole family went to the barn lot to 
hitch Midget to the cart. He behaved so well that papa 
decided the girls could take him out on the road. Midget 
trotted along the dusty road, and his httle white face and blue 
eyes never gave a hint that he intended to do anything except 
to pull that cart. 

It was a glorious evening, with the bright round sun 
going to bed in the cloudless western sky. The bats were 
beginning to dart into the barn lot to start their nightly 
dipping and turning for flying insects. 

The girls had gone as far as the pasture gate when papa 
called to them to turn around and come back. Charlotte was 
driving, and so she pulled on the left Une to turn Midget. He 
obeyed, but as soon as he had completely turned the cart, he 
seemed to be possessed of evil mischief. He stood on his front 
feet, gave some squeahng noises, and with both back feet at 
the same time, he started kicking and battering the lovely 
dash board. He just stood there sending out those two white 
feet of his time after time, making splinters of the dash. 

Charlotte and MarGinny, who had started out in such 
high spirits, were terrified and both started screaming. 
Midget did not stop kicking until Papa, who had seen the 
trouble, came running and stopped him. You see Midget 
respected Papa and knew better than to make trouble when 
he was there, so he stopped kicking. Midget was hke that. He 
loved the girls, but he Uked to tease them sometimes— hke 
the times he would throw them from his back into mud 
puddles and then trot down the road to wait for them. 

Charlotte and MarGinny loved him dearly in spite of his 
mischievousness, and I am happy to say that before school 
started. Midget had been broken to drive, and the beautiful 
pony cart had been restored to its original perfection. 


H. Harlan Bloomer 

In 1913 Galva, Illinois, was a quiet country town of 
shaded dirt streets and a downtown section with uneven 
brick pavement. Most of the vehicular traffic was 
horsedrawn: ice wagons, drays for delivery of crates of 
household goods, buggies, and carriages, dusty-black coal 
wagons, and ambhng grocery dehvery carts. Since the boys 
who delivered groceries often were rewarded by a handout of 
cookies at the kitchen door, my earhest vocational goal was 
to drive a dehvery cart, with its colorful tilting umbrella to 
shade the driver from the beating summer sun. And, of 
course, there were always the cookies. Who could ask for 

A hitching rack in front of our house provided not only 
an anchor spot for visiting horses, but was a special perch 
from which a five-year-old boy could swing and perform 
childish acrobatics, or merely sit and watch the casual 
activities of a summer day. Nothing moved very fast, or very 
often, except on those exciting occasions when the wondrous 
horse-drawn fire engine with a steam-powered pump raced 
by, its bell clanging and the firemen hanging proudly and 
precariously at their assigned places. 

Automobiles were making their appearance in 
increasing numbers: Overlands, Everetts, Hupmobiles, 
Stanley Steamers, Model-T Fords, and other names long 
since passed into obhvion. There was a Pierce-Arrow that 
belonged to our neighbor, the town banker, a portly man who 
on weekdays drove an old gray Premiere with shaking 
fenders and a spinning fly-wheel visible beneath the car. The 
Pierce-Arrow, guided by a liveried chauffeur, was reserved 
for Sundays and other special occasions. It was a purring 
giant with headhghts molded into the front fenders, its 
brakes and shift levers on the left side, a fenderwell for the 
spare tires on the right side, and a brass horn that gave off 

melodious sounds when the chauffeur squeezed the rubber 

Our first car, purchased in the spring of 1913, had none 
of the grandeur and few of the appurtenances that graced the 
automobiles belonging to the more affluent citizens of Galva. 
The car was a MaxweO, a small, plain, black, four-cyhnder, 
five-passenger, open touring car, with headlights fueled by 
acetyUne gas. The engine drew its sustenance from a gasoline 
tank under the cushion of the front seat on the passenger's 
side. There was no gasoline gauge, and so my father always 
carried a wooden yardstick in the car to determine when a gas 
refill was needed. If that was misplaced, any convenient stick 
could be used to probe the fuel level in the tank. 

Our car was utihtarian in every sense except as a 
reliable mode of transportation. Its tires were narrow, its 
seats were stiffly cushioned, and its springs must have been 
adapted from those designed for a wagon or buggy. The car 
jounced and the passengers bounced over bumpy dirt streets 
and rutty country roads. 

To make way for our acquisition of the Maxwell, the 
black surrey and team of horses that had been transporting 
us were somehow disposed of. The new car was brought to 
the planked barn floor where my father used to back the 
surrey into place so that the horses could be harnessed and 
hitched for occasional afternoon drives. He was a Methodist 
minister, and Sunday afternoons were good times for 
pastoral visitations, or funerals, or (rarely) a drive out to 
some country parishioner's home for Sunday dinner after the 
morning church service. There was little pleasure driving as 
such in the new car, but my sister and I were always welcome 
to ride along. In fact, we had little choice, since there was no 
one to stay home with us. Since my mother was usually 
expected to take part in the pastoral calls, and our Manx 
maid had been dispensed with, along with other unnecessary 
expenses, in order to make it possible to purchase the car. 
Her five-dollar-a-week wages, plus room and board, had 
become an unbearable drain on a minister's meager income. 

Although those country rides in and around Galva are 
only dimly remembered, I can recall my father driving, with 
my mother beside him nervously holding onto the side of the 
front seat, dressed in her hnen duster and her voile scarf 
holding her hat in place, while my sister and I, in uneasy 
"sibship", clung to whatever braces we could grab in the 
back of the car. My sister was nearly six years older than I 
and too bossy, I thought, and was always reminding me that 
girls were smarter than boys. I defended myself as best I 
could, and was usuaOy bested, although she protested 
vigorously that my biting was unfair when her greater size 
and physical strength overpowered me. 

The "key" that turned on the ignition was a slender flat 
tapered stick about the size of a small nail file. In fact, after 
the stick was lost or broken, one of my mother's nail files 
replaced it for the two years that we owned the car. No one 
ever tried to steal it. 

The left front door was a fake, a mere embossed metal 
outline marking the place where a doorway should have been. 
My father entered the driver's seat by stepping over the side 
of the car after having cranked the car to start it. The trick 
was to crank the engine and then get back to the controls on 
the steering column to lean the choke and advance the spark 
before the engine stalled. There was no time to dilly-dally. 

The acetyline tank for the lights was fastened to the 
running board on the driver's side, and had to be replaced or 
recharged occasionally. The gas ran through a small copper 
tube to porcelain jets in the headlights. To light them my 
father opened the valve on the tank, and then rushed to each 
headlight door before the next gust of wind would extinguish 

Wind and rain were our biggest hazards, next to dust, 
flat tires, dirty spark plugs, a leaky radiator, and an unstable 
carburetor. For rain we had tire chains and black curtains 
with smaD isinglass windows. The curtains were only 
moderate protectors against wind and rain, thus compelling 
us children to huddle in the center of the back seat, hidden 

under a black fuzzy robe with huge bright red roses 
decorating its center— a heritage from the surrey. It hung, 
when not in use, on a brass railing also borrowed from the 
surrey and fastened to the back of the front seat of the 

To deal with frequent flat tires we carried a full 
armament of patches, spare inner tubes, spare casings, and 
necessary tools. Spark plugs were something to be cleaned 
after every 50 miles or so, and no trip of a hundred miles (a 
full day's trip) could be completed without cleaning them, and 
perhaps replacing a cracked one from the store of spare parts 
carried for such emergency. We envied, but scarcely believed, 
those car owners who claimed that they "never" had to clean 
their spark plugs. 

The carburetor was a mystery to me, of course, and 
evidently to my father as well. It drew its air through a small 
pinhole, regulated by a needle which bobbed on a small cork 
floating in gasoline in the chamber of the carburetor. When 
the needle stuck it had to be jarred loose, but my father, 
being uncertain as to the exact location of the offending 
mechanism, would grasp a screwdriver firmly by the shaft 
and pound various parts of the engine somewhat at random 
until the vacuum was broken and the car could be started 

Of aU the memories of our first car, two events are most 
vividly retained: the burning out of the main crankcase 
bearing soon after we acquired the car, and our struggles to 
master Kickapoo HiU, which somehow stood unavoidably 
between Galva and Peoria. 

The loss of the bearing was a casualty of the failure of 
my father to understand that crankcase oil had to be checked 
and replaced frequently. Thus, we had not driven the car very 
far before it developed an insistent knock that grew steadily 
worse. I imagined that someone must be under the hood, 
pounding the engine with a hammer. 

The "garage" where my father went for repair of the car 
was a converted blacksmith shop that did double duty as a 

smithy and garage. As a small boy I was especially 
fascinated by the appearance and behavior of the blacksmith- 
mechanic, who seemed immediately to know what the trouble 
was. He Hstened to the engine judiciously, chewed a while on 
a wad of something, and then spat a copious stream of dark 
brown juice. Up to that time, my only acquaintance with a 
liquid of that color was associated with chocolate candy, 
which I took to be one of hfe's pleasures. I stared in 
amazement that anyone would be so foolish as to chew a 
chocolate cream and then spit most of it out. The car had not 
run very well from the beginning, but after a new bearing was 
poured and scraped, it was even more unpredictable. 

The challenge of Kickapoo Hill was never approached 
without apprehension, even when the weather was good. On 
rainy, muddy days, it was a hazard almost impossible to 
overcome. When the roads were dry, there were still clouds of 
dust, and ruts from the wagon and car traffic of muddy days. 
A bend in the road that made it difficult for our car to gain 
enough momentum to carry its underpowered engine to the 
top of the hill. As we commenced our climb, my father would 
accelerate to top speed while my mother would say, "Henry, 
you're going too fast. Slow down or we'O upset." But my 
father, a determined man, would call for us to hold on tight 
while he drove full speed ahead, until half-way up the hill the 
engine would come to chugging halt. While my father held 
the footbrake (the emergency brake was not rehable), my 
sister and I would scramble out to look for stones, or logs, or 
anything we could move into position behind the wheels to 
prevent the car from rolUng back down hill. If my father was 
unable to restart the engine, we would aU pile back into the 
car to start the long coast backwards down the hill to a flat 
area where perhaps we could get the car started for the next 
try to reach the top. Sometimes we had to depend 
ignominiously on a tow from a more powerful car, or a team of 
horses supphed by a nearby farmer. 

And then there was the radiator. The engine was easily 
overheated by the power demands placed on it. Gradually we 

learned to plan ahead for accessible water sources free of 
menacing dogs, and for roadside spots where we could eat a 
bite of lunch while we fought off the buzzing fUes, yellow 
jackets, and roadside dust. 

When after two years we sold the car, it was replaced 
unaccountably with another Maxwell, this time with an 
electric starter and electric lights, but unfortunately with few 
other improvements. Nevertheless, automobiles then, as now, 
held a fascination for everyone, and any family was willing to 
sacrifice a good bit for the fancied benefits of car ownership. 
My father was glad to be spared the labor of tending the 
horses, cleaning the stables, and oiling and repairing the 
harness. But for me, the trade-off was uneven. The flank of a 
car didn't respond when you patted it with a small hand, and 
there were no gentle nuzzles in search of a cautiously 
tendered lump of sugar. 


Beulah Jay Mason 

I shall never forget one summer afternoon back in 1916. 

After dinner my father said that mother and I should 
hurry up and get the dishes done and be cleaned up by one 
o'clock. True to form, I asked the reason why, but he just 
looked at me and said I must do as I was told for once. We 
had just finished a hurried change of clothes when father 
came into the house and told me to look out of the window. 

There in the middle of the barnyard stood a brand new 
automobile, big as Ufe, its top down just like our buggy. I 
could have been no more excited were I going to the moon. 

After a flurry of "Ohs" and "Ahs" mother was packed 
into the back seat and I was ordered to deposit myself behind 
the steering wheel. Wilbur I sham, the garage man, cranked 
it, then hoisted his ponderous form into the seat beside me. I 

was told what to do with my feet and what to do with my 
hands, and then to go ahead. "Jehovah, tie me down!" I was 
fit to fly. 

The thing bucked a time or two. I hadn't learned it all, 
but I oozed it through the barnyard gate and out onto the 
road. After we had driven around for a while, a time of 
herding it between fences, a time of too much gas one 
moment and a tongue-biting stop the next, Mr. Isham told 
me to head for town. As we turned the post office corner, he 
asked me to stop in front of his salesroom in the middle of the 
block. He got out, stretched, puUed in his midriff, slammed 
the door with a bang, and said, "Okay, kid, take it home." I 
gulped, my mother turned green, but above all, you should 
have seen my father's face when I whirled through the 
barnyard gate and stopped about two feet from the corner of 
the corncrib. 

But there was the day I forgot to put the top down. I 
drove into the driveway of the corncrib and ripped the fabric 
on a bolt which projected from the middle of the ceiling. My 
father must have rued the day he sold that matching team of 
carriage bays. 

There was another day that I drove to town. It rained, 
and I was afraid to go home. I went to the repair shop, as my 
father told me to, and asked the man if he would please put on 
my chains, for I couldn't. He turned his back and growled 
that I should go on home, and I'd have to learn to drive 
sometime. "I'll show him," I said to myself, and so ... I went 
home. My father was furious. 

If you never saw the unpaved roads around our town 
here in IlUnois back then, you have missed something. They 
were carefully graded into a ridge straight down the middle. 
That was how one could tell which side of the road he was on. 
But when it rained, if you didn't straddle that center ridge 
just right, the chances were you would shde sideways into the 
ditch, and a team or two of horses would be needed to fish you 
out. Now you know why my father was as mad as a hatter at 
that man because he wouldn't put on the chains. 

But it was not all bad. There was joy and 
excitement— the joy of speeding at aU of twenty-five miles an 
hour on the way home from school, the wind riffling my hair; 
the excitement of driving over the old river bridge on 
Saturday, the loose planks rattling as though the whole 
structure were about to fall apart. And there was the fun of 
taking the dog for a ride, just around the section, his head in 
my lap. And, above all, there was that remarkable summer 
afternoon I learned to drive an automobile, the only driver's 
lesson I ever had. It is called learning the hard way. You 
drive, or else. 

Back in the early thirties when the driver's Ucense 
legislation was passed, there was no such thing as a driver's 
test, only a notarized affidavit. The idea of a driver's test 
came later, but it didn't hit me until 1970, when a person had 
to be tested every three years on and after age seventy. 

I was scared to death. I had no idea what they would do 
to me. I liked to drive so much that I knew, were I grounded, 
it would mean the very end. But by guess or by gosh, I 
passed the written part. Then it got down to cases. I had to 

The examiner checked the car and then got in beside me. 
The car was new. In a condescending manner, he asked, 
"When did you learn to drive?"— as though he thought it 
were yesterday. I said, "1916." His mouth flew open, he 
stared, and then he said, "My God, I wasn't even born yet!" 
There was httle left for me to say but, "No young man, I 
don't think you were." He passed me, and in my wallet at this 
moment is my fourth driver's license, good until March, 1982. 


Pauline Dittmer 

In late February, 1980, I visited the Kennedy Space 
Center on Cape Canaveral, Florida. The Center is on a huge 

expanse of ground, swamps, and water, 140,000 acres in all, 
teeming with endangered species of birds, mammals, and 
reptiles. It is awe-inspiring to visit this center, to see a vast 
array of early rockets, including the Mercury Mission Control 
Center and a huge space museum fuU of things from 
twentieth-century man's adventures in space. 

This visit into the future reminded me of a past incident 
in my life that took place in the early part of this century 
when air travel was new. It was probably about 1924, and I 
was a pupil in the Paloma Grade School. At this time, it was a 
habit of every one in our area to run outside when an 
occasional plane flew over our town. This time the plane flew 
over our school quite low and, to our amazement, landed in a 
cow pasture just north of us. With the teacher's permission, 
we all rushed to the plane, and we were thrilled to see the tall 
sUm young pilot. He grinned and was very patient with all of 
us, answering our questions and not seeming to mind when 
some of the more adventurous boys climbed all over the small 
plane. He was out of gas, and this was an emergency landing. 
He walked a few short blocks to Jeffery's Garage with his gas 
can, came back, and filled the tank with enough gas to get to 
the next airport. Just before he left, he noticed my youngest 
sister, lone Wright, standing there looking wistfully at the 
plane. lone was always the smallest kid in school. He picked 
her up and set her in the cockpit: after a brief look around he 
set her back on the ground and was off in the wide blue 

For months the whole town talked about the young pilot 
and the exciting event in our otherwise simple life. The young 
man's name was Charles Lindbergh, and I remember how 
excited we all were when he made the first solo flight across 
the ocean to France about three years later. We were amazed 
that this famous young man had dropped out of the skies and 
into our midst for a brief impromptu visit, dressed in his 
traditional coveralls and a cap on his head with goggles 
attached. Even then his looks commanded respect, and no 
one would have ever thought of calling him "CharUe." 


George W. Carpenter 

It was a warm afternoon in July in the early twenties, 
and I, a college student home for a few days, was faced with 
the same problem that has faced millions of other students: 
"How am I going to get back to college for Monday morning 
classes?" Part of my problem was the location of my home 
town. It was Hardin, the county seat of Calhoun County, a 
long narrow county, without a railroad, and lying between 
two rivers, the Illinois and the Mississippi. It was about 
seventy-five miles south of Quincy, where I attended Gem 
City Business CoUege. Our neighbor, Mark Twain of 
Hannibal, once said about us: "Calhoun County has the finest 
apples, the prettiest girls, and the worst roads of any county 
in the Midwest." Our family owned no car, and few of our 
relatives or neighbors would offer to drive anyone on a round 
trip to a distant city like Quincy. 

Grandfather, as usual, came up with a solution: "Go by 
steamboat; that's the only way to travel." From Hardin I had 
two ways to get to Quincy by boat. I could cross the county, 
to Hamburg, a Mississippi River village, and get on the 
steamboat, the "Belle of Calhoun", and arrive at my college 
town. The difficulty was getting someone to take me to 
Hamburg very early on a Sunday morning. Finally, it was 
decided I would go on an Illinois River boat, the "Bald 
Eagle," to Meredosia, where I would catch a train to Quincy. 
It sounded simple, so my problem was solved— at least, I 
thought so. 

About 2 a.m. Sunday morning, Grandfather awakened 
me to tell me he heard the whistle of the steamer down the 
river, and we should get ready and walk down to the Hardin 
landing. In a half hour, Grandfather and I were talking to 
many of our friends who were there to meet relatives or 
friends who were returning from St. Louis. (I should tell you 
that the landings of those days were no elaborate places, just 
a large frame building with a dirt or gravel floor, and no 

waiting rooms.) The man who lived nearby and operated the 
place worked on a commission. In case of bad weather, he 
allowed passengers waiting for the boat to use the living 
room of his home. 

While the colored deck hands were unloading the 
freight, I went on the boat and waited for the clerk to return 
to the boat. The chief clerk was asleep, and the young 
assistant, known by river people as the "Mud Clerk," was 
doing the disagreeable night work. When he arrived, I paid a 
fare, less than $2.00 to ride to Meredosia, but that did not 
entitle me any meals or a room. Our first stop was at 
DeGerha, or Godar Landing, a little French community three 
miles up the river. There we got a passenger, J. Edward 
Godar, ex-school teacher, and son of the owner of the land. He 
bought a ticket to Peoria where he would get a train for 
Chicago. This fellow passenger, now about ninety-five years 
of age, lives in the same community, but the old warehouse 
has been torn down, and the property used by the State of 
Illinois as a Conservation Area. 

A small chart on the wall of the boat showed that it was 
about fifty-five miles from Hardin to Meredosia, and that the 
boat might stop as many as fifteen times. However, if there 
was no freight or passengers to get off or on the boat, no stop 
was made. About noon, we could see the village of Meredosia, 
population about 400, on the east bank of the river. My first 
concern was to get to the little railway station and purchase 
my rail ticket. Here I received my first bad news of the day. 
The station agent informed me that a strike had started 
somewhere in the East, and there would be no Sunday trains, 
but I would be able to continue my journey Monday noon. 
The other piece of bad news was that this train did not go to 
Quincy, and I would have to change to another Une at Golden. 
I went a block away to engage a room at the small frame 
hotel, and then to locate a cafe. I spent the afternoon at a ball 
game at the edge of town, and eating watermelon with one of 
the men I had met at the game. Anyone from that part of 
Illinois will know that Meredosia is in the "Watermelon 

Belt," where millions are grown each year. The problem for 
the farmers was the rail strike. Every yard and field had 
thousands of melons ready for the market. There were few 
trucks, and there was no way to move the crop. 

One Monday noon I found that, because of the strike, 
my train was four hours late. At Golden, the next train was 
three hours behind schedule. It was 10:30 Monday evening 
when I finally arrived at my room on Oak Street in Quincy. 

Last month I had to go to the same city on legal 
business. I walked out to my Ford LTD, and in two blocks, I 
was on the "Great River Road" headed for the Adams 
County Court House in Quincy. On arrival, I parked the car, 
went to the Circuit Court Room, showed my PRESS PASS to 
the Deputy, and went to my seat, to await the arrival of His 
Honor, the Judge. 

Then I looked at my Time, and it said it was one and a 
half hours since I had left my home in Hardin. Did I tell you 
that in 1922 it had taken me a boat trip, two rail journeys, 
five meals, a hotel room, forty-five hours, and the loss of a 
day at Gem City to make the same trip of seventy-five miles? 


Beulah Burrows 

"Beulah, you'll have to drive Old Sarie today because 
Old Maude is tired. You've been driving her so much." So 
said my father, Elwood MiUer, years ago when I had to drive 
the horse and buggy to high school because the roads were so 
bad I couldn't get through in the old Model T. 

I didn't like to drive Old Sarie because I couldn't trust 
her like Old Maude. You never knew when she would see a 
piece of paper along the side of the road and shy clear over in 
the ditch on the other side of the road. We had to cross a 
viaduct over the railroad tracks, and I just prayed there 
wouldn't be a train going through when we had to cross. 

Many times I would stop and rest her if there was a train 
coming. I couldn't tie the lines to the bow of the buggy top to 
warm my hands. If it was very cold, my mother would heat a 
soap stone and wrap it in papers to put under my feet. Many 
times I would sit on it to warm my body or hold it on my lap 
to warm my hands. 

One evening, going home with my friend Florence, who 
rode with me, I noticed a tractor had been travelling the road. 
That was when the wheel's were metal with big lugs. Mud 
had collected between the lugs, and a big chuck had fallen off 
on the viaduct. When we got near it we noticed it, and so did 
Old Sarie. She balked and went to backing. It didn't do any 
good to whip and slap her with the Unes. She just kept on 
backing. There was a fence built along the sides for 
protection but some of the fence was gone. We were two 
scared girls! Finally she got the buggy backed to the 
fence— just a few inches from where the fence was down. We 
thanked the Lord we were lucky. I got out and removed every 
piece of dirt, but still she wouldn't budge. I tried to lead her 
but to no avail. Finally, I talked Florence into going back to 
get Mr. Pugh, who Uved near. Well, bless my soul! When Old 
Sarie saw them coming, she was ready to go right now. I had 
all I could do to hold her. Mr. Pugh insisted on getting in with 
us and driving her down the road a ways. We really 
appreciated that and we got home okay. 

Now Old Maude was very dependable, but she had one 
bad habit. When we got her hitched to the buggy, she was 
ready to go right now. Florence was afraid to get in first and 
hold her, and she was afraid to get in when the buggy was 
moving. What a time we had! Finally, one morning Florence 
was so happy. She had solved our problem. Tie her up first, 
and then we could both get in the buggy. I laughed and said, 
"Who would untie her?" 

One evening Old Maude was especially nervous, and 
together we could not hold her down. She ran and ran and 
ran. We had to puU off the road a bit to let Florence get out, 
and we wondered how wed get her stopped. She was so used 


to pulling over that she did it and stopped just long enough 
for Florence to get out, but she wouldn't wait for Florence to 
get her bucket out of the back. I was supposed to dehver a 
package to the next house down the road for a friend. (I was 
dehvery girl for all the neighbors.) My friend was standing 
there, but I couldn't get that old mare to a stop, so I just 
threw the package on the bank and told her I couldn't stop 
the horse. 

Well, she kept on running. I had to go down a big hill, 
and when 1 pulled over the top of the hill, I saw a wagon and 
team of horses about ready to cross the bridge, and it was so 
narrow. I wondered what she would do. Well, she kept 
prancing along behind the wagon until he barely got over the 
bridge and she pulled out to go around. I was so afraid our 
wheels would lock— but luck was with me. She ran up that big 
hill and kept on going. We lived four and a half miles from 
Vermont, where the school was. About one half mile from 
home, we had to go up a small hill and she slowed down. I was 
so angry with her, I took the whip and made her run the rest 
of the way home. 

Daddy came out to put the horse away, and he said, 
"What on earth have you been doing?" (She was a black 
horse but now she was white with lather.) I said, "Daddy, I 
didn't drive her. She did it herself. She ran all the way until 
the httle hill, when she slowed down, so I just took the whip 
and made her run the rest of the way. I thought if she could 
run that far, she should be able to run the rest of the way." 
Daddy just shook his head and led her off to the barn for a 
good rub-down. Why did she run? Who knows, unless the 
boys that kept their horses in the same barn had put a burr 
under her tail, but they would never confess. 


George W. Carpenter 

On Sunday, January 20, 1980, two prominent senior 
citizens of Calhoun County, Andrew and Margaret Robeen of 
Hardin, were celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary at 
the Knights of Columbus Hall. A number of their older 
friends were discussing the details of the wedding, weather, 
and road conditions when one of them asked: "Andy, what 
kind of car were you driving on your wedding day?" After a 
pause, he answered, "BeUeve it or not, on the day we were 
married there wasn't an automobile in Calhoun County." 

Andy was right. It wasn't until the summer of 1910 that 
salesmen began to interest the people of the county in buying 
one of the new "Horseless Carriages." Many of the citizens 
had seen a few of the new inventions on the country roads, 
but they hadn't had a chance to ride in one. In the southern 
part of Calhoun, Dr. Tidball of Grafton drove one to visit 
some of his patients around Brussels and Golden Eagle, 
without the aid of a chauffeur or driver. About the same time, 
Frank Whiteside, a prominent Carrollton Attorney, informed 
court officials in Hardin that he planned to drive over to 
Hardin in his new car. It attracted much attention when it 
crossed the Kampsville Ferry and made its way down to the 
county seat. At every recess of the court, the jurors were 
examing the car as though it were a part of the evidence of 
the criminal case they were to decide on later in the day. 

About the middle of 1910, several prominent farm 
famihes decided they would invest in the new method of 
transportation. They were the Stephen McDonalds, south of 
Hardin, and the Charles Fester Sr. family, west of Brussels. 
Before buying the International Touring car being shown to 
them, the McDonalds informed the salesman that the car 
must prove its hill climbing abihty. They said the 
International would have to cHmb three hills which they 
would select. They chose Fuller Hill, East of Batchtown, 


Rocky Hill, west of Hardin, and Crader Hill, three miles 
south of Hamburg. It passed the test, and the next Sunday 
the McDonalds arrived at church in Hardin in their new 
International. About the same week, a dealer from Alton or 
St. Louis convinced Charles Fester Sr. of near Brussels that 
he should buy a new Reo for his family. 

By 1912, there were only a dozen cars in the county, but 
in the next six or eight years, five or six hundred may have 
been purchased. The interesting thing is that we are able to 
tell what happened to those first two cars. The International 
was bought by a St. Louis newspaperman in the 1930's and 
later taken to Michigan. In 1948 it was still in that state in 
working condition. The Reo is still on the Fester Farm, where 
it has been resting in a shed or barn for the last fifty years. 
Many buyers have stopped to look at it, but the family isn't 
interested in selling. It may have another fifty years of 
resting ahead of it. 


Orville Larson 

As a lad of six years old, how well I remember my 
parents talking about the "aU weather road" that was going 
to be built by our home. Well, the "all weather road" became 
a reaUty in the summer of 1925, when what is now Highway 
136 was constructed from Carthage to Tennessee, Illinois. No 
more disappointments about having to stay home because it 

How well I remember all of the horses and mules used in 
construction of the road! As I sat on the bank in front of our 
home, I increased my vocabulary immensely by hstening to 
the conversations of the mule skinners: they were the drivers 
of the mule teams. 

The dirt was moved by horse-drawn wagons, three 
mules to a cart. For long hauls and for the shorter hauls, they 

used a two-wheeled slip scraper with a two mule hitch. A dirt 
excavator was used to cut through the hills and to load the 
dirt on the wagons, and it was manipulated with a twenty- 
mule-team hitch. There was only one caterpillar tractor used 
on the job, to my knowledge. The cement and gravel was 
shipped to the nearest depot and hauled to cement mixers in 
sohd rubber tired trucks. The water was piped from Crooked 
Creek in three-inch pipes. 

Instead of trailers, as observed at modern construction 
sites today, you viewed tents and cook shacks, which the 
laborers hved in while on the job. Some of the laborers were 
local people. The laborers received a wage of $3.00 a day. 
There were also bridge gangs building the bridges as the road 
was made. There were several construction gangs. The ones 1 
remember were Camerson and Joyce from Keokuk, Iowa, 
George Strunk and Sons, and Crispin. Some of the bridge 
gang boarded at our home. 

The road east of the Larson homestead was a new route 
and didn't follow the old road. The terrain was rough, and 
some of it was solid rock so there was dynamiting too. The 
construction began in the early spring of 1924, according to a 
family diary, on June 19, 1925; "the men commenced running 
the cement and were working in front of the Larson home. In 
Jan. 3, 1925, there was an explosion at Crispin Camps— four 
men were injured and had to be taken to the hospital. On July 
2, 1925, it was 106 degrees in the shade, and one of the 
workers got too hot." 

Are we progressing or regressing? When we experience 
a project like this completed in a year, all hand labor without 
any cranes or big machines and has served for 55 years and 
now with all the energy powered machines and two or three 
years to complete one bridge. Unbelievable! 


Edna Schoonover 

When we children were at our playhouse about 1/8 of a 
mile from the main road we heard an awful noise. My older 
brother Doyle said, "One of them things caOed an automobile 
is coming."' We ran as fast as we could and climbed upon the 
old rail fence to watch it go by. It was about two miles away 
when we first heard it. That was the first car we had ever seen 
in action. 

A few years later my dad bought a car called a Model T 
Ford. It was a high slung car with small tires. There was side 
curtains kept under the back seat to be put on in cold weather, 
and there was a battery to start the engine. Then it was 
switched over to a magnet to run the car while driving. There 
was a carbide tank on one of the fenders, with tubes to the 
lamps. Water had to be added to the tank to form a gas, and 
the lights had to be lit with a match. The horn was on the side 
of the car, with one rubber bulb that had to be pressed hard to 
make it go honk. The gas tank was under the front seat so the 
driver had to get out of the car while getting gas. The gas 
tank would hold ten gallons of gas that you could buy at ten 
cents a gallon. 

When our car was delivered, we took it to the pasture 
and took turns driving it around in circles to learn to drive. 
That is, all but my mother. She never would drive, saying, 
"Driving the car is a man's work". 

Dad took the car out on the road for the first time when 
driving up to the lot gate. When he got home, he said, 
"Whoopee! Whoopee!"— like he always did to the team of 
horses, but the car didn't stop until it had rammed the gate 
and killed the engine, breaking several boards in the gate and 
bending one of the lamps upward. 

My older brother took Dad into town for the day on 
business and was to go for him in the evening. When turning 
a corner on the way home, he let the car keep turning until the 
front of it was in the ditch. He walked home, got the team of 

horses, got the car out, and pulled it home. He went after Dad 
with the horse and buggy. When Dad give him heck for it and 
asked what his mind was on, he said, "I was eating peanuts." 

Our roads were dust in the summer and ruts through 
winter and spring. Returning from town one day, we were in a 
rut it was almost impossible to get out of and met a team and 
wagon that were also in the rut. The driver stopped his team 
and sat there. Dad got out and put up his engine hood like he 
was having engine trouble. The fellow pulled his team to one 
side and went around us, yelling at Dad, "You had better get 
a horse," Dad got back in and we went on home. 

The faU of 1909 was dry so we were able to have the car 
on the road until Christmas. On Christmas afternoon. Dad 
said, "Let's take a car ride over to my brother's." So the five 
of us went, and on the way home, as we were going down a 
slope, a tire blew out, jerking the car to one side and flipping 
it upside down across the ditch at the roadside. We tore the 
side curtain to pieces on the highest side of the car and got 
out. One side of the top of the car was crushed until it had to 
be taken off, and we drove it topless until we got a new car. 
None of the rest of the family was hurt, but I came out of it 
with a broken collar bone. That is one Christmas I well 

When we got a new car, our first one was pulled into a 
shed part of the barn and left there for months. One evening, 
when I was out there milking the cows, I saw the car was 
missing. I didn't ask why or how as I felt so bad about our 
first car being gone, I didn't want to talk about it. Sometime 
later, when at the back side of the farm picking wild 
blackberries, I came to a ditch we called the trash ditch, 
where all the trash from the farm was put to hold it from 
washing out deeper. Looking down into this ditch I saw a 
sight I will never forget. It was our first car, topless and 
minus the wheels and engine, laying on its side like it was at 
rest. I went on to the house, thinking of all the bad times and 
extra good times we had had with our first car. 


Sylvia Gillaspie 

Mother was our pillar of strength. She taught herself to 
drive, and as long as she was behind the wheel, she wasn't 
afraid of anything. One year it had rained a lot and Old 
Henderson was out of her banks. We lived south of 
Gladstone, and Mother needed groceries from Oquawka. She 
put my brothers and I in the Ford. We were bound for the 
store. We had crossed the Covered Bridge at Henderson 
Creek, and just at the base was water. It looked hke a river. 
Mom said, "Hang on kids, we're going through. Put your feet 
up in the seat, and sit still." We were too scared to do 
anything else. She pushed in the low gear pedal and carefully 
eased the car into the water. When I looked at the floor of the 
car, the water was running over it. After we had reached dry 
ground again. Mom let out a sigh. "Whee, kids, we made it," 
she said. 

VI '^ard 'ioimes 


"Isn't it great we only remember the best and happiest 
things most?" writes Lillian Combites in "Happiness was 
Homemade," the first story in the foUowing section. 
Certainly one can wonder at the accepting and sometimes 
cheerful manner with which people seem to have experienced 
disaster and hardship in the early part of this century. It is 
even possible to chuckle while reading about Depression 
episodes the way they are described in "The Bakery Wagon" 
or "A Deal is a Deal." 

How did parents remain cheerful when each winter 
dreaded infections such as diptheria and pneumonia 
threatened the hves of their children and their neighbor's 
children'? In those days of epidemics, several children in a 
single family might die within one week. That was a time 
before the medical profession had such support systems as 
modern hospital technology, sulfa drugs and penicillin. In 
Genevieve Hagerty's story, "The Prairie Doctor," the 
doctor's own baby is treated at home, and though the house 
is periodically "aired out" to rid it of germs and to prevent 
further infection, the baby dies. The day after the funeral, the 
family rallies to celebrate the birthday of another child. 

In another story, Olive L. Osborn tells how in days gone 
by death was celebrated almost ritualistically. Children of 
that era recall watching the black, horse-drawn hearse 
bumping over frozen, rutted country roads enroute to the 
cemetary. The hearse was followed by buggies and spring 
wagons carrying the family and friends of the deceased, and 
it was not unusual to hear anguished wails and sobs from the 
women or to see distraught mourners collapsed in the arms of 
others in the entourage. Death and mourning was not a 
private affair. Neighbors sat up at night with the corpse, 
black wreaths and crepe marked the house of the dead, and 
the community gathered to share in the mourning. 

But hardships weren't always crises. Everyday 
conditions of living during the early 1900's might be 

considered difficult if contrasted with those of the 1980's. For 
example, Ben Padget recalls, in "My First Real Job," the 
time when a man might work fifty hours during a six-day 
week before negotiations between business and labor brought 
about the eight-hour work day, the minimum wage, the five- 
day week, paid vacations, health insurance, social security, 
paid retirements, and cost-of-hving salary increases. Few 
labor unions were around to represent the worker's needs to 
company management: in most places each individual worker 
was responsible for estabhshing his own position and salary 
with his employer. 

The need to rely solely on one's own ingenuity or 
resources became less important as the century advanced 
because massive amounts of federal legislation moved some 
of the responsibility for meeting crises and hard luck from the 
shoulders of the individual to those of the government. The 
emphasis on rugged individualism, which had initially 
characterized the philosophy of the United States 
government, changed to recognition that government should 
stand ready to help its citizens when they were in need. This 
shift in governmental philosophy can be noted in the three 
flood stories that are taken from different decades of this 
century. In 1922, the Herstedt family of Moline took care of 
themselves when flood waters filled the lower part of their 
home. They moved upstairs, continued their daily work 
pattern by borrowing a boat, and by waiting for the waters to 
recede. In the 1930's Margaret Sipes Lawson's family relied 
on their own resources and help from their neighbors but 
were supphed with a Red Cross tent to serve as alternative 
housing. However, by the 1940's, 'Vivian Pate's family, 
evacuated from Beardstown when the IlUnois River 
threatened to overflow, had such support agencies available 
to them as the Red Cross, the National Guard, the Salvation 
Army, Disaster Relief, and state and local protection and 
service agencies mobihzed especially to assist the evacuees. 
No longer was economic devastation resulting from disaster 
to be borne solelv bv the individual. 

Marguerite Foster produces with words the images and 
emotions experienced by a nine-year-old "fresh air" child sent 
out of the heated congestion of Chicago to stay with a farm 
family near Table Grove for the summer. The practice of 
sending children of immigrant and factory-worker families by 
train to what was beUeved to be healthier conditions in 
country homes was common in Illinois during the first fifty 
years of the 1900's. Churches and, later, social welfare 
agencies administered these "fresh air" programs. As in the 
case of Mrs. Foster, it was not uncommon for a genuine 
affection to develop between the child and foster family and, 
in this instance, it led to a bond between all of the members of 
the respective city and country famihes. Mrs. Foster's prose 
style is especiaUy strong in its ability to convey not only the 
facts but the cultural context of her childhood background 
and experience. This is captured in soUtary phrases and 
simple sentences and is presented as it seems to have been 
recalled: as images that merge and re-emerge 
kaleidoscopically without apparent order and, at the same 
time, provide the reader with the richness of the author's 
memories, immersed as they are in elements of love, 
lonehness, fear, confusion, gratitude, and joy. Mrs. Foster's 
story is the reality of an orphaned "fresh air" child. 

In other stories a young mother alone at home with 
young children is frightened by a "tramp" and a German- 
American citizen is harassed during W. W. I. Also, several 
authors describe the Depression of the 1930's. Today, 
however, "tramps" have disappeared from our highways and 
railroads; nationaUty groups in west-central Illinois are 
completely absorbed into the cultural environment; and the 
Depression of the 1930's has given way to worries about the 
economic inflation of the 1980's. 

What do the authors say about hardships that were 
suffered and were characteristic of the early years of this 
century? Virginia Dee Schneider states, "Sometimes I believe it 
wouldn't hurt everyone to go through a Depression .... It 
taught us to value money but not at the expense of making it 
a god. Money alone does not bring happiness." Does the 
experience of hard times and disaster encourage the 
development of desirable human personality traits? Lillian 
Combites ends her story with this observation: "I believe I 
am fortunate to have lived the period of time I did .... I don't 
know where honesty, respect, and the qualities that make 
character have gone. It frightens me." 


Lillian Nelson Combites 

I was born in 1916, eight months after my father's 
death. Mama had five other children under ten years old. The 
years were not easy, with World War I just over and the 
Depression yet to come. 

Isn't it great we only remember the best and happiest 
things most? I will try to recall as many as 1 can. 1 was born 
in a httle four-room house and hved there for eighteen years, 
with two brothers, three sisters, and Mama. Sometimes in 
winter months my sisters, brothers-in law, and their children 
moved in with us until spring work opened up. 

Mama washed on the board and ironed for folks. She 
marked clothes with different colored embroidery thread for 
teachers. We caUed them Mr. Red, Mr. Green, Mr. Lavender, 
or other color of thread. We turned the wringer and had to 
wait as she scrubbed each piece. There was P & G, Fels 
Naptha, and home-made lye soap. We used Lewis lye to 
soften the water. Sometimes, if we said bad words, she 
washed our mouths with soap. There was Rub No More, with 
a mama elephant sitting on a wooden stool, scrubbing a baby 
elephant in a wooden tub. We got premiums for these box 
tops. Bon Ami was used as cleanser. Toilet soaps were: Jap 
Rose, Coco Hard Water Casteel, Palmolive, smelly Life Buoy, 
and others. We washed our hair with soap and rinsed with 
vinegar in the last rinse. When ladies' hair cuts came in style, 
Mama cut many of them. We heated flat irons on coal range 
to iron. A big barrel set by house, and we had to hit the side of 
the barrel so wiggle tails would go to bottom in order to get 
clear water. We carried water in to use and out to dispose of. 

One cannot reminisce without recalUng the old toilet, 
shanty, privy or whatever you wish to call it. It was a little 
square building with a half moon near the roof. The seat had 
two holes and, sometimes, a small, lower one for children. The 
catalogue was close by, with no slick or colored pages as now. 
Halloweeners were hard on these as a pastime was upsetting 

them, or taking them up town to put on buildings or set on 
Main Street. Mama finally put ours inside the shed we had 
partitioned for coal, corn cobs, and storage. Twice a year the 
scavenger came with a wagon of big barrels and charged so 
much a bucket to clean and sprinkled lime in the pit. Also 
essentials was the Chamber pot, thunder mug, or whatever 
you called it. It was used nights or in sickness. Mama worked 
in a hotel before she was married, and traveling salesmen had 
to pay fifty cents extra for this service. Many jokes were 
made about it and still are, but it was no joke. On cold winter 
nights it was a blessing. 

We had caster oil, syrup pepsin, coco quinine (for 
babies), quinine (for adults), and iodine (for lots of things). We 
greased with kerosene and lard, used horehound, onion syrup, 
vinegar candy, Smith Brother's black cough drops, flax seed 
poultices, liniments, Raleigh salve, and camphor for various 
ills. Most families had their own specials, and sometimes they 
worked. I washed medicine bottles my neighbors gave me 
and boiled them. The doctor paid me two cents for small, 
three cents for medium, and five cents for large bottles. He 
put in new corks and used them over. 

I sold subscriptions to Comfort, Good Stories, 
Household, and Farmer's Wife magazines for premiums. 
Once I got a baby doll, with rubber hands, arms, feet, and 
legs, and head on cloth body. My brother cut her fingers nails 
and ruined her hands. Another time I got a httle blue dinner 
bucket filled with marshmallow eggs, and by the time they 
came they were so hard we could hardly chew them. On 
Valentine's Day we begged the lady paper hanger for old 
sample books. We took the paper without writing, made 
hearts and colored them, cut out the "Campbell Kid" and 
other pictures, and pasted them on. Boughten valentines 
were seldem given. If you got one you felt nigh unto Heaven. 
We cut some of the paper, folded it, punched holes, and tied 
yarn through for scratch paper to save our Big Chief and 
Golden Rod tablets. 

We had enough in our family to play most games. Our 

home was the gathering place for all, as Mama kept us home 
so she knew what we were doing. Some indoor games were: 
Cards, Carom, Dominos, checkers. Rook, Flinch, and others. 
We played school, dolls, and paper dolls; we made and flew 
kites, made soap box cars, and played croquet, horse shoes, 
and ball; we fished, skated, coasted, walked rails on tracks, 
walked hitch rails, went barefoot, and did all things so free 
and fun. Some outdoor games were: hide and seek, Red 
Rover, Last Couple Out, Run sheep run, fox and geese, snow 
forts and snow angels. Sometimes we'd just holler to hear 

There were tent shows, such as the Gordeniers, with 
Uncle Tom 's Cabin and other classics. Chautauquas were in 
big tents. Gypsies came in wooden covered wagons painted in 
bright colors. We went inside our houses and locked the 
doors. Store keepers locked up if the gypsies were seen in 
time. Some folks had fortunes told. Later, when they came by 
cars, they were escorted through town by pohce. Schools had 
Literary programs every month, with skits, music, and 
talent. Box suppers and spelling bees were held. The 
Salvation Army was on the streets, and medicine wagon 
shows came with patent medicine that cured everything. We 
had band concerts and ice cream socials, too. The silent 
movies came, with a piano player between reels. My brothers 
helped set up tents and mama loaned furniture so we got 
passes to tent shows. 

We slept in unheated rooms under comforts we'd made. 
We warmed beds with heated flat irons or hot water bottle. 
Everyone wore long underwear and warm clothing. We did 
not get electricity until I was a senior, so lamps were used 
and chimneys were washed daily and filled with kerosene. 

We were quarantined for Measles, Mumps, whooping 
cough, chicken pox, scarlet fever, diptheria, and small pox. A 
big sign was put on front of the house, and we had to stay in. 
A wreath was hung on the door when a death was in the 
home. The corpse was kept home and neighbors or friends sat 
up nights. Respect was important. Everyone was called 

Grandpa, Grandma, Uncle, Aunt, Mr. or Mrs., even if they 
were no relation. Mama wouldn't let us accept money for 
running errands for neighbors or helping someone. We had to 
treat one person as good as another and befriend anyone in 
trouble or need. 

I could go on forever. I beheve I am fortunate to Uve in 
the period of time I did. It is hard to relate now. I don't know 
where honesty, respect, and the quahties that make character 
have gone. It frightens me. 


Olive L. Orsborn 

The dead were kept at home, and friends and neighbors 
came in and sat up all night, with pie and lots of black coffee. 
A funeral was lengthy, often two hours, with lots of hymns 
and several preachers. Men wore black arm bands, and 
women dressed in black and carried a black handkerchief. For 
several weeks the stationery that the family sent was edged 
in black. Often, pictures were taken of the deceased laid out in 
the casket. Some hair was saved for jewelry, or a sample put 
in a locket. Flowers were not used to the extent that they 
were later. Also, a large funeral was the rule, and neighbors 
for miles brought in food to feed the crowd. A funeral cost 
about $200 complete. The very rich had private mausoleums, 
but burial in the ground was the rule, and a year of mourning 
was the custom. Anyone remarrying sooner was frowned 
upon by the family and the community. 


Genevieve Hagerty 

It was a bitterly cold November day in 1922 when my 
doctor Daddy returned from an all-night house call in 

Woodhull, Illinois, the snow so deep he couldn't drive his 
FrankUn car. The horse looked wild as he trotted the sleigh 
into the barn, his flared nostrils puffing steam, and the ice 
covered harness jingUng. We kids pounced on Daddy when he 
finally came into the house. First we unwound the long 
knitted scarf with its pungent smell of wet wool. Then we 
peeled off his buffalo mittens and his long coat and hat made 
of the same smelly fur. Finally, we tugged at his tight boots, 
but he didn't enter into the ritual with his usual playfuhiess. 

Mama quickly put the baby into the baby buggy and 
whispered something to Daddy. He was sitting in the big, 
black leather rocker, his stockinged feet and cold, red hands 
extended toward the hissing radiator. His face crumpled, and 
the words strangled in his throat, as he told her his patient 
had died, a strapping farm wife, the mother of six. He had 
done everything known to medicine, but she had died of 
pneumonia. All night he had fixed fever powders, and helped 
women relatives with mustard plasters, cool sponges, and 
nourishment. His very presence gave comfort to the husband 
and older children. 

Mama rubbed his red hands and told him to lie down 
and rest awhile before office hours, but he said he couldn't 
nap because he had to air out the house. My two oldest 
brothers were lying in the folding bed, sick with whooping 
cough, and I was home from first grade because we were 
quarantined. Daddy sent us well ones upstairs, sent Mama 
and the baby to the kitchen, and told the boys to cover up. 
Then he propped open the parlor and dining room doors with 
chairs so the bad air could get out. We only went as far as the 
top landing so we could get a few whiffs of the frosty air. I 
could never figure out exactly when the stale air went out, 
but 1 could tell easily when the fresh came in. We kept 
inching down, a step at a time, to let the cold tingle our 
nostrils and to see who got the first goose flesh. Then Daddy 
noticed and shouted at us to get back upstairs before we 
caught our death of pneumonia. Finally, he shut the outside 
doors and let us downstairs. 

I opened the kitchen door and Mama hollered at me to 
shut it quick before a draft hit the baby. Drafts were like 
stale air. The grownups talked about them, but we kids could 
never see them. Mama had the baby on her lap in front of the 
open oven door of the cookstove, and she was rubbing him 
with home rendered lard melted on a saucer. Winter baths 
made our skin red and chapped. I didn't mind getting a bath 
only once a week in winter, but the legs of my long underwear 
got so stretched out, they made lumps under my stockings. 

The baby, our seventh, was fat and cute and lots more 
fun than a doll. I handed Mama his clean, warm clothes from 
the wooden rack. The shirt had pin tabs so the diaper could be 
fastened without tearing. That kept his shirt down so his 
chest was warm and he wouldn't get the dreaded pneumonia. 

By Christmas time, the rest of us kids all had whooping 
cough. Our Christmas tree in the parlor was nearly touching 
the ceiling. Stringing popcorn and cranberries for it had kept 
us busy, and at night the candles on the trees reflected off the 
tinfoil, and made flickering shadows on the walls. 

I looked forward to my sixth birthday in January when 
we would all be well. The few presents were not nearly as 
exciting as being the birthday child in a large family. Getting 
to choose the dinner menu and the flavor of the cake, having 
the whole family sing "Happy Birthday" just to you. and 
blowing out the candles and making a wish were spine- 
tingling experiences. 

But on that birthday, none of us wanted a party. Our 
baby had suddenly and frighteningly developed pneumonia. 
Now I knew what Daddy did at the homes where killing 
diseases had sneaked in with drafts and stale air. He and 
Mama worked over the baby as he laid on the big bed in the 
spare room. For years afterward, I associated pneumonia 
with the look of cold, soggy, mustard plasters being replaced 
with steamy, hot ones: with the baby, gasping and feverish, 
with half open eyes and dry, cracked lips: but most of all with 
the isolation I felt from my parents and the baby. 

Grandpa, the hired girl, and an aunt came to take care of 

the horses and us other kids. Two doctors came from the city, 
our priest stopped by, and it seemed like everyone in that 
little town came to the back door with food, questions, or just 
a prayer. 

Mama cried a lot and Daddy had tears in his eyes when 
he didn't know we were watching. Bedtime finally came for us 
kids. We kissed Daddy and Mama, looked at the baby, said 
extra long prayers, and finaUy slept. 

When I woke up, the sun was shining on the snow, and it 
hurt my eyes. I felt confused, hke I 'd overslept, so I hurried 
downstairs in my nightgown to see why no one had called me. 
The house was quiet, the hired girl was making toast over a 
cob fire, the oatmeal was bubbling in a big kettle on the 
cookstove. Mama was sitting in a chair, just staring; she 
didn't even see me. Suddenly 1 remembered yesterday, and 
the baby, and . . . and I just knew he was dead! I grabbed my 
mouth so a big scream wouldn't get out, and I ran to Mama. 
Her eyes saw me then and she gathered me to her, cradled me 
like I was the baby myself, and we both cried and cried. 

That afternoon the undertaker brought the baby home 
in a Uttle white box with satin sheets. Daddy called it a bed. I 
knew the undertaker sold furniture in the front of his 
building, but I d never seen that kind of baby bed in the store 
window. He also nailed a wreath with white streamers on the 
front door so everyone knew a baby was dead. 

Daddy and Mama and the undertaker went into the 
spare bedroom and closed the door. Then Mama came out 
crying and tried to hide the tears behind her apron. The 
undertaker left and Daddy called us kids in. He turned off the 
radiator so it was chilly. I didn't want to look at the baby at 
first because I remembered when he was dying. But when I 
got up the nerve, I felt happy. He looked just like he was 
sleeping, dressed in his good white dress because he was only 
eight months old and too young for coveralls. Daddy told us 
how Grandma could rock him to sleep in Heaven now, and he 
held the little ones up to see better. I decided it was just 
sickness and not death that was bad. 

None of us kids went to the funeral. The cemetery was 
at a city far away, and I felt so lonesome and sad and grown 
up when Daddy and Mama left. The other kids coaxed me to 
play hide and go seek, and the hired girl wanted to read to me, 
but I just huddled in the corner of the big rocker and watched 
the clock. Mama told me they would be home when the big 
hand was on the twelve and the little one on the four. The 
loud tick-tock and the shiny gold pendulum swinging back 
and forth made me drowsy. The next thing I knew. Daddy 
was saying it was time for the birthday girl to have her cake. 
I heard Mama tell the hired girl that life had to get back to 
normal for the children's sake. 

Although it was two days late, it proved one of my 
happiest birthdays. We all made a big fuss over my two-year- 
old brother, who had suddenly regained the title of "the 
baby." We laughed instead of scolded when he stuck his 
fingers in the chocolate frosting. We almost seemed happier 
because the baby died, but I knew we were only pretending. 
After everyone sang "Happy Birthday", and I blew out all 
my candles, I made a wish that none of the rest of us would 
die of pneumonia. Then I made a second wish that Mama 
would have another baby soon. More than a half-century ago, 
that was much more likely to come true than my first wish. 

TO BE GERMAN IN 1917-18 

Ora M. Hufendick 

My earliest memory is of the Christmas of 1917. My 
sister and I received a toy train that we could push on the 
floor for Christmas. My parents explained that we could 
receive no other toys as our country was engaged in a war. It 
brought a fear to my heart that was to be rekindled many 
times in the next few years. War was a dead weight; war was 
terrible. I felt this same weight every time our country has 
been engaged in conflict. 

Our people lived in this country since 1855 but, during 
the war, anyone with German ancestry was thought to be 
pro-German. One night there was a noise at the barn. My 
father said that only a few nights before, a cross had been 
burned upon a neighbor's lawn. He crawled out upon the 
porch upstairs and fired the shotgun in the general direction 
of the barn in an effort to scare the intruders away. We were 
all fearful. 

The crosses were set and burned by "night riders." 
Yellow paint would be found painted on the barns of those 
thought to be pro-German. We had no near relatives in 
Germany nor did we even correspond with anyone there. It 
must have been a terribly upsetting experience for those who 
did have relatives there. 

Finally, at last, peace came. The Armistice was signed 
November 11, 1918. The church bells rang out the good news. 
Everyone was jubilant. The war was over. The boys were 
coming home. For those whose sons lay buried in France, the 
war would never be over. For them the world would never be 
the same again. It would never be the same for any of us, but 
we didn't know it then. 

The glad news of the Armistice had hardly ceased 
reverberating over the countryside when we were hit with the 
flu epidemic. Our whole family, my parents and my sister and 
I, were all iU at the same time. I can recall how very tired the 
doctor looked as he came to our home on calls. My 
grandmother stayed with us and cared for us. A half mile 
away, a young couple were found wandering about in the 
snow. Both were delirious. They both died leaving four httle 
children. All Christmas services were cancelled at the 
churches. Crowds would only spread the disease. A young 
mother died, leaving a baby two days old and three other 
little children. Funerals were held at home, with only the 
immediate family attending. Those who were able to go did 
not go because of fear of contacting the illness. 

Our dear Pastor came to visit us when we were all ill. At the 
age of two, I loved him very much. I meant to go to him to sit 

on his knees as I always did. I collapsed in a heap upon the 
floor. How surprised I was at the trick my legs played on me! 
The country doctor, overworked as he was, called upon 
all his patients as often as possible. Due to the excellent 
nursing our grandmother gave us, our whole family 
recovered. It is the only time during my hfetime that no 
Christmas services were held at our httle country church. 


Marguerite Foster 

I was an orphan from Chicago. Some time around the 
1900. A train load of what were called "fresh air children" out 
of Chicago come to the surrounding communities and were 
divided among people who would keep them for the summer. 
My oldest brother and sister were first to come. They stayed 
with the James Hammond family. Next year a brother and 
two sisters and myself. I going to the Sam Hammond family 
just down the road. There were nine of us. When Hammond 
folks shipped cattle, they would visit as our home was near 
the stock yard. My mother passed away leaving 2 small girls, 
one 2 weeks old. Her sisters took the 2 small ones. I was 
already here. I was took to Galesburg, put on a train with a 
tag, name, and where to go for funeral. On the farm was lots 
of chores in them days. I carried slop to hogs, would lead hay 
horse, go to field to shuck corn by dayUght, and to pick up 
what went over the side boards. Think I was about nine then. 

Two wonderful women: Grandma Hammond and NeUa. 
I used to go with Aunt Nelia to the Robert Ausbury home 
when them boys were httle. When a new baby was expected, 
they would get ready and wait for moon to change. 
Butchering and thrashing was a neighborhood affair. More 
women, children, and grand children than older got to wait on 
table which was one big long table some time two put 
together. Of course were some nice looking young men. Two 


of the Hammond boys were married and had families my age 
and what good time we had' Was a neighborhood playground: 
ball games, croquet, horse shoe, etc., every week end! What a 
wonderful family! I helped raise their children and felt so 
close to them. I was married at that time and also lived in 
Table Grove. Then they helped me with our three. Two of the 
Hammonds and wives were so good to me. I feel I can never 
repay them for everything they have done for me. What a 
wonderful family. 

My Mother, Father, aU her and his brothers and sisters 
come over from Ireland and were married in this time. They 
could sure do the Irish jig. 

I have always been so thankful my Children's father 
was spared to help raise them. For no one knows the 
hardships as an orphan. Folks had mean goats, Turkey 
gobblers. Only way I could get to barn was watch my chance. 
Leading hay horse: when hay fork hit the cable, horse would 
jerk. Scared would fall on me. Then when unloading corn, 
driving horses over the auger made me feel scared I wouldn't 
get over in time. Then hoist the wagon to get all the corn out. 
Would hold on to side boards afraid I would go in auger too. 
There were 3 ponies. One real small he was stubborn as most 
shelton ponies are. One eve went to get the cows. Didn't know 
the dog was following and sure had a stampede. As was a lot 
of Mother cows with little calves pony took off with me I sure 
was scared. 

We sure had beautiful cook stoves and little babys 
would have coUc and would keep them warm with oven open 
till late at nite. Also my jobs was every morning was lamp 
chimneys and fill lamps with kersene. Which is hard to get 
now. Then the milk had to be filled morning and eve and in 
hot weather more often. Wish had a little of good milk and 
cream now. Also had a cupboard fixing hung in the well to 
keep things cool. Oh so many things in the good old days! On 
Sunday mornings we all ways had 3 visitors gather around 
cook stove to discuss the news. My job to see coal bucket was 
half full of ashes for all four men chewed tobacco. We all 

washed dishes on the stove to keep water hot so tryed to get 
done before they come. 

Oh so many memories when can't sleep. 

As soon as thrashing was over was job of dumping old 
straw from bed ticks and fill with new. The Wetzel church all 
ways good chorus and at Xmas time a big tree. In them days 
everyone gave dishes so tree was full of gifts. The ministers 
were all ways boarded over week ins. Was a community of 
lots of young people. Either walked or had a buggy ride. The 
first car ride I had was a one seat, handle bar for steering 
wheel. Got down hills but had to push it back up. I am so glad 
they still keep the Adair band stand in good condition. For 
not many landmarks left. We so many enjoyable evenings at 
the concerts. Table Grove school was also included. Every 
one tryed to be first in town to get a goodplace to sit in cars. 
Of course the younger ones hked to walk around. I used to my 
self in Table Grove. Would walk round and round. Hard road 
was not there then and was a beautiful little town. But not 
now. First Camp Ellis, now coal company. Table Grove at one 
time was Laural Hill and Adair was Shu Fly. Them were also 
the good old horse and Buggy days. I am so thankful every 
day for all my good friends and neighbors. 


Ben Podge t 

When I saw my first real job, I mean a steady six day a 
week job, the time was late May in the year 1920. I had just 
graduated from grade school and was in the labor market. My 
brothers and I worked part time during the summer 
vacations for local farmers and truck gardeners. One of my 
uncles worked at the Weaver Manufacturing Co. in 
Springfield, lUinois and he told me they were hiring help. I 
was almost sixteen and decided to apply for a job. As I had 

never seen the inside of a factory, believe me, I would be 
unskilled labor. 

My family lived north of Springfield, so I dressed up in 
my graduation suit and walked into town to hunt for a job. 
The factory located on South Ninth Street and 1 was very 
unfamiliar with that end of town. I had to inquire as to which 
street car to ride. I was nervous and frightened, but I needed 
a job. At that time Frank Malec was the Superintendent. He 
was a short heavy set man with a brusque and commanding 
manner. Mr. Malec asked me a few questions and then hired 
me. I was introduced to Mr. Feger and told he was to be my 
boss. I asked Mr. Malec when I should report for work, and 
he said: "Right Now!" Mr. Feger took me out to the locker 
room and dug up an old pair of pants and a shirt so I could 
change and go to work. So I put in my first day on a real job. 

We worked fifty hours a week. Nine hours a day for five 
days, and five hours on Saturday. It was a treat to get 
Saturday afternoon off. The starting pay was forty cents per 
hour, so on Saturday we received twenty dollars in cash. We 
had no vacations, insurance, overtime, severance pay or 
unemployment insurance. In fact, no fringe benefits at aO. 
This was general practice and condition throughout the 
country at this time. 

The Weaver Manufacturing Co. was founded by two 
brothers, Mr. 1. A. and Mr. G. E. Weaver, who along with 
Charles Hodgson, F. A. Bohnhorst and Charles Clapp, built a 
very good organization. The plant was devoted exclusively to 
the manufacture of machinery to service passenger cars and 
trucks. In 1920 the products were all mechanically operated, 
but as roads and automobiles progressed, the equipment 
became more modern. 

From 1929 and the depression I worked only part time 
and at reduced pay, but somehow we made it. I must have 
liked it at Weavers, as I worked there until I retired in 1969. 


Virginia Dee Schneider 

The Depression Era (1929-1934) could have defeated us. 
No work, little money, with families doubling up to save on 
cost of shelter, utihty bills, etc., could have been a 
frustrating, demeaning and a nerve-wracking experience. In 
our family, however, we were taught to make the best of it. 
My father used to say: "If you get a lemon, make lemonade! " 
With that philosophy to guide us, the depression provided us 
with a store of pleasant memories. 

Frequently, we remind my oldest sister of her trip to the 
corner grocery-meat market during the depression. Since 
neckbones were inexpensive, my mother asked her to buy 3 
lbs. of them for stew. Somehow, Sis, who just loved pork- 
chops, brought 3 lbs. of pork chops! Mother was quite upset 
about it, but what a feast we enjoyed that evening. For 
several days after, however, we fasted on sUm pickings. 
Luckily for me, I didn't mind eating hot milk over buttered 

Going to the corner store during the depression was 
quite a stimulating experience. You would hear all the latest 
news right there. Who had money for newspapers? The 
butcher would ask whether Grandma Brown's rheumatism 
was still bothering her. The grocery clerk wanted to know if 
Billy's foot healed after he stepped on a sharp piece of glass. 
(A very common happening in those days because kids went 
barefoot all summer long to save on shoes. We loved it 
though. Especially, when we'd walk over mud puddles and 
feel the mud squish through our toes!) 

In many ways, it was more enjoyable to go to the store 
in those days. You didn't wait on yourself. You just stood by 
the counter and waited your turn while the clerks walked 
back and forth bringing your order to the counter. You didn't 
have to decide which cereal to buy because they didn't stock 
fifty varieties. As I remember, the grocer carried oatmeal, 
farina, or corn-flakes. Life was simpler then. 


Too, you could buy on credit all week. Whenever you 
purchased anything, the store-keeper would jot down the 
total of your purchase on a smaO pad that he used for each 
customer. When we paid our bill on Saturday, he usually 
rewarded us with a sack of candy for prompt payment. That 
really made our day. All week long as we went past that 
candy counter, we drooled with anticipation. The sight of 
those Mary Janes, chocolate Soldiers, and hcorice whips was 

If we ever did acquire a few pennies for candy, it was 
most difficult to decide which candy to purchase. While the 
store-clerk tried to help us make up our minds, the pennies 
became hot in our fists. We wanted to get the most for our 
pennies, which we didn't get very often. 

Once in a great while, a fond aunt or uncle would treat 
us to a nickel ice cream cone on a hot summer day. Isn't it odd 
that today when we can buy ice cream by the half-gallon, 
somehow it doesn't taste half as good'? 

Another happy depression days' memory centers 
around the fun we experienced around a camp fire with a 
plain old potato roast. In the cool, crisp air of fall, we sat 
around the fire waiting for the potatoes to get baked. 
Depression was in fuU swing, but roasting our potatoes was 
such a pleasure that we did not feel deprived. Most everyone 
had a vegetable garden: thus potatoes were easy to come by. 
The hardest part came when we had to "con " our mothers to 
get the butter and salt. (Oleo was not available in the form it 
is today. You had to put the yellow color in yourself, a messy 

When we blew on the thick burned potato crusts, salted, 
and buttered, we looked forward to good eating as well as the 
entertainment that followed. Everyone told of some exciting 
incident in their Uves, exaggerating for effect, no doubt. 
Someone would pull out a harmonica and we would enjoy a 

We girls played with dolls. Our little 4 to 6 inch dolls 
were made of celluloid or china. As long as they had arms and 

legs that moved, that was enough for us. These, we bought 
for lOit at the corner store. We had to be careful though not to 
get a dent in the ceOuloid dolls. The china doDs would break 
very easily if dropped. That problem was solved by carrying 
them around carefuOy in a padded shoebox. We made our 
own doU clothes from scraps of material left from our 
mother's sewing projects. Sometimes, we swapped material 
with friends. It didn't matter that the dresses were simply 
cut providing an opening for the head and arms; using large 
stitches. What a nice variety of doll clothes we could acquire 
this way. For 10<t we could enjoy a whole summer playing 
with our doUs and sewing for them. 

During the depression, we used to buy soles at the dime 
store and glue them onto our shoes to repair them cheaply. 
My father was repairing his shoes that way one day in our 
garage. When I went to call him for dinner, I stepped right 
onto his soles with the glue still tacky. He hadn't attached 
them to the shoes, just left the gluey soles on the floor to dry 
a little. How I managed to set my right foot over his right 
sole and left over his left sole, I'll never know. 

We got by money-wise, because my parents were able to 
get part time jobs now and then. Also, we didn't spend what 
we didn't have. UtiUty bills were low. There were very few 
electrical apphances in those days. With a vegetable garden 
to sustain us during the summer, with the surplus of canned 
food for winter use, we didn't go hungry. Dad raised pigeons 
and, every now and then, potted squab was on the menu. Dad 
also repaired aO our shoes and cut our hair. Mother and Dad 
both took care of the garden with us kids helping with the 
weeding. Mom also sewed all our clothes. In addition, she 
knitted caps, mufflers, mittens for neighbors and friends, 
which brought us a httle extra money. We were most careful 
not to waste anything. 

Sometimes I believe it wouldn't hurt everyone to go 
through a depression. It certainly didn't hurt us. It taught us 
to value money but not at the expense of making it a god. 
Money alone does not bring happiness. 



Roxie Heaton 

This I write is about the happenings of the first ten 
years of sixty-seven years of marriage. The events took place 
from August 10, 1910 to 1920 on farms in Schuyler County, 
Illinois. The first year we farmed my parents' farm was 
situated about half way between Littleton and Vermont, 
Illinois. My husband wishing more than 80 acres, rented 
another 60 acres which joined my parents' farm. My parents 
had given us a cow, 60 laying hens, 2 pigs, and a feather bed. 
My husband owned a team of horses and a new rubber tired 
buggy. He had saved S200 by working for his uncle who 
farmed a large farm near 'Vermont. My father and his father 
signed a note when we bought the machinery needed. The 
first year went along very uneventful. Our first child was 
born there July 23, 1911. 

My husband, still wishing more ground, rented a 24-acre 
farm which bordered on the banks of Sugar Creek. Here is 
where our troubles began. Of course, many more horses and 
more machinery was needed, so instead of paying off our 
loans we went deeper in debt. However, the rich bottom land 
produced good crops and we were doing quite well. We were 
dreaming of paying off some of our debts. The third year was 
when the calamity began. My husband and brother, who 
worked as our hired hand, had worked very hard to shock a 
large field of wheat. The spring had been a very wet one. I 
remember how tired they both looked but I was so thankful 
to think at last we could look forward to reducing our loans. 
Alas, that was not to be. When we awoke the next morning 
old Sugar Creek had risen and the whole bottom was flooded. 
More than half of those lovely big shocks of wheat were in the 
creek. My husband and brother were able to rescue most of 
them and set them up to dry. 

I always aimed to raise 200 young chickens by setting 
hens. The hens would set on 13 eggs for 3 weeks. They were 
just about at the frying stage when they begin to die like 

flies. These chickens would just jump up and down, then fall 
over dead. An uncle of my husband's who ran a poultry 
business in Vermont came out and said he never heard of the 
Uke. He cut one of the chickens open and found its craw filled 
with molded wheat we had fed them. 

Troubles never ended. Later a large number of our brood 
sows died with the cholera. A good neighbor said to my 
husband: "You have had so much bad luck I will lend you my 
boar." The boar tusked our best cow and we had to have the 
veterinarian saw her leg off at the knee. The same year one of 
mares gave birth to a colt that had no front legs. The landlord 
said it was a healthy colt in every other way, but to take it 
behind the barn and kUl and bury it. "You have no time to 
fool with it," he said. We were told later it could have made us 
rich if the circus people had learned of it. 

That same year the oldest little boy pulled the stopper 
out of the washing machine and the second little one who was 
just learning to walk was scalded from his neck down to his 
ankle. But for the grace of God and a dedicated doctor, we 
could have lost him. That next year, on a hot summer day, a 
neighbor and I and our daughter took a walk to a new 
windmill. On the way back she ran ahead. Being real thirsty, 
she picked up a jar in the barn and drank from it. It turned 
out it was kerosene her dad used to fUl his lantern. We took 
her to Industry to the doctor. He gave her something to make 
her vomit. She was very sick, but being a sturdy healthy little 
girl, she recovered. 

Despite all the hard work, hard times and setbacks, we 
have had many happy times and great love for one another. 


Anna M. Becchelli 

We came to Kincaid when it was close to the 
Depression, in 1928. I had never seen a coal mining town 


before and, when we got off the train, I wanted to cry. 
Everything looked black from the coal dust. It was so ugly, I 
wanted to get back on the train and leave. But I didn't have 
any money, so I had to stay. 

My dad got a job in the coal mine. In those days 
everything was all hand done. Hand shoveling, and hand 
digging coal with picks. When they put in the machines, two 
years later, my dad and a lot of other men were laid off. My 
dad was past 50. Then it got worse for everyone when the 
Depression hit. 

We Uved in a three-room house, two bedrooms and a 
kitchen and a closed-in side where we kept coal and wood. We 
had a well in front of the back door by the kitchen, thank 
God, because we didn't have running water. There was an 
outhouse way next to the back alley. It was about 75 feet 
from the house. My dad closed the front porch in and made 
himself a little shop where he kept his tools to sharpen knifes 
and scissors. He fixed shoes, too, so he made a few dimes and 
quarters that way. We planted a garden and had chickens 
and a cow. 

The mine was on strike during the Depression. The 
scabs came from the south because they worked cheap. There 
was a rumor at that time that some came from prisons and 
had been promised their freedom if they would work in the 
mine. The town was desolate looking. Stores boarded up, 
houses empty where famihes had moved to the city to try to 
find work. It was dangerous to go out at night because there 
was no electricity in the town, so everyone stayed inside. One 
dark night this man we knew went and knocked at a friend's 
house and for an answer he got two bullets through the door. 
He hollered, "What's the matter with you?" His friend 
opened the door and he showed him his hat with two bullet 
holes in it! Everyone was nervous at that time because of the 
bombing and shooting. 

I remember when they would pile up the sulphur from 
out of the mine, and it would come into town in a yeDow 
smoke that would choke you when you would breath it. The 

company doctor would tell us: "Oh, it won't hurt you, it's 
good for you!" But nobody believed him. 

Sometimes the mine would leave one or two box cars on 
purpose, on the railroads tracks filled with waste sulphur coaL 
The men would climb up on top and knock a httle coal from 
the sulphur down, and those waiting below would pick it up 
to put it in buckets. But you had to look sharp not to get 
caught or they would put you in jail. One day my friend 
Clorinda went with her bucket and the railroad man found her 
with her bucket full. He said, "You're trespassin; what's your 
name?" He wanted to arrest her, so old Clorinda said, "You 
want your coal; here you sonofabitch!" And she threw the 
coal bucket in his face, picked up her skirts and ran. He 
chased her but she ran down alleys and he lost her. And she 
wasn't skinny either! She was 45. 

Nobody had any money in those days. The Relief 
Office used to give everybody a sack of navy 
beans, oatmeal, canned meat, rice, coffee, and lard. 
I used to soak the beans all night and some would cook and 
some wouldn't. They would be hard as bricks because they 
would mix old beans with new. You couldn't eat them. 
Finally, I didn't mess with them. I would cook them up and 
give them to the chickens. The canned meat dad wouldn't eat. 
He'd say, "I don't want to die. That damn meat is poison!" 
Other people said it came from TB cows! All because they 
had put a cartoon in the paper about the canned meat with 
poison skull and cross bone sign on the cans. For the coffee, 
you had to spread it all out on newspaper and pick out the 
sticks and Httle rocks and burnt beans. They scraped the 
bottoms of the barrels to give us. Then you would toast it up 
in the stove to bring out oil and flavor because it was so old. 
We were supposed to get a few clothes too but none of us did. 
I took flour sacks and made undergarments with them 
because the material was fine. For 50 to 60<t I would get 
enough material from the store to sew a dress with. They 
allotted you $15.00 a month for two people to live on. If you 
wanted to make it last, you had 50c a day. 

The electricity was a dollar and a half a month just for 
lights. We didn't have it, but the neighbors next door had a 
bunch of kids and an electric washing machine. At night I 
used to hear it go clinkity clunk, chnkity clunk! They had a 
wire at the end of a long pole and they would touch it to a bare 
spot on the wire in the alley. When they were done washing 
clothes down would come the long pole with the wire. 

All the miners wouldn't buy coal during the strike so 
they all went to the woods to cut trees down all day, five and 
six men at a time, my dad too. Those that had trucks would 
bring it home and divide up according to the work they did. 
They did this all winter and some had wood piled up all the 
way from the back door to the alley. 

Once during the strike there was a rumor that a bunch 
of company thugs were going to come at night and shoot 
through the houses at random, and my dad having been 
through the first World War decided to make a safe place for 
us in the barn, so he dug a trench big enough for two people to 
scoot down in. I looked at it and said: "I won't go in a grave 
before I die. I'm gonna go home in my own warm bed and go 
to sleep. If they kill me o.k. I'm not gonna Hve this kind of 
life, being afraid in the cold and dark,." So after a while he 
came in too. 

The Depression went from bad to worse so you had to 
take what work you could. I had my name in at St. John 
Hospital to get a job for 10 months. One day when I was 
laying in bed with the flu, they sent word I was hired. I got 
up, flu and all. Packed my cardboard suitcase I paid a dollar 
for and went. Otherwise, some other girl in line would have 
got the job. They worked you hard. I got $4.00 a week. I 
worked 7 days a week and got three hours off on Sunday. In 
the morning the sisters rang a bell for you to get up at 5:30 
and go to mass, then to work. It was Uke being in the army. 
When I went to eat in the kitchen, out of the window I saw 
the breadline. It stretched a block or longer. Young men and 
old, waiting in the morning for a cup of coffee and a slice of 
bread, at noon some kind of soup in a bowl and bread and, at 

night, soup again. When we were tired the sisters would ask 
us: 'Would you rather be in the bread hne with them? You're 
luckv! " 


Elsie L. Dixon 

In Calhoun County, State of Illinois, this is how I best 
remember how some folks sociahzed during the winters of the 
depression. With little money to spend, the entertainment 
was usually at the card table. 

With the black wood stove burning hotter than a fire 
cracker, the game started as did the conversation. We had 
jerk coffee for supper. (Know what jerk coffee is? It's when 
someone tied a coffee bean on a string and dragged it through 
the water in the coffee pot. That's jerk.) Yeh, another fellow 
said it was so weak we set a glass of water beside it in case it 
fainted. Another said, "Well we use Mississippi River water 
for ours; it has a better color that way, more mud color." 
"Let's deal," and the card game started. The expert 
player kept a rabbit's foot tied on a shoe string and when he 
started winning he'd swing that rabbit's foot under the hired 
man's nose. Now that fellow was a hard loser so he'd get so 
angry, and he would get up from the game and would go 
home, leaving his coat. He was walking, of course; no cars 
those days for most people. [W^hy, in the State of Illinois 
there were three state poHce (one later retired to Calhoun 
County) his place was not well kept, full of weeds, so folks 
would say to him, "Steve why don't you clean your yard, why 
don't you paint your house?" Soon Steve called that place 
"whydoncha".] Back to the card game. Sometimes someone 
would go into the room where the lady school teacher kept 
her coat. They'd stick a chunk of limburger cheese up her coat 
sleeve. Skunk smelled good in comparison. 

In February one of those card players would send ugly 


Valentines to most of the other players. If one person lived 
near a blacksmith shop, he'd smear some old grease on the 
Valentine. Then the one who received the Valentine thought 
the Blacksmith sent it to him and he's quit speaking until 
summer to the Blacksmith. At the card table the Blacksmith 
would really take a beating. About eleven p.m. the host for 
the evening would bring a big dish of apples, crackling crisp 
from the cellar, and another pan of pecans gathered from 
Calhoun's Illinois River bottom land and lots of cold cider 
from a wood barrel. The game would stop for a break and then 
they'd play again, using 2 to 4 decks of cards or; if they'd 
play Pitch, one deck was used. They sat around a big round 
cherry wood table in the dining room. The lights were 
furnished by a Delco plant system that made a noise hke a 
John Deere tractor. The game was played most times until 2 
or 3 a.m. They'd talk so much sometimes, they'd forget whose 
deal it was. That was entertainment: 1929. Those games 
aren't played much since the people have cars. Now its 
"where do we go" and all dealers think they have the best 
deal and the name of the game isn't in the cards. 


Lowell Clover 

For a country boy, it was a long way from Henderson 
County, Illinois to Ft. Sheridan Army Base in Chicago, but 
that's where I found myself in late August, 1934. At that 
time there were no jobs and no money, so the government of 
the United States put into operation what was known as the 
CCC. For us poor boys, it was a chance to work and send a 
little money to the folks at home to keep them going. The pay 
was $30 per month, $25 of which was sent to the folks back 

When we left for Chicago we were told not to take any 
more clothes than we absolutely needed, for all our clothes 

would be furnished. When we arrived in Chicago on the train, 
we went directly to Ft. Sheridan. The wind coming off the 
lake was so cold! There were maybe 300 guys standing in line 
waiting for clothes. It got darker and colder and still no 
clothes were issued. Finally, we were each given two 
blankets, a pillow and a cot. We slept in tents that night— boy 
was I glad to wrap up in a blanket! We just slept in the same 
clothes we had on when we left from home. Next morning we 
ate breakfast and got in line again for clothes. The doughboy 
clothes were coming out of warehouse storage. When we got 
our clothes, boy did they fit! HA! They'd ask your size and 
then just throw out anything. Nothing fit; even the 
undershorts were too big! The dress pants were heavy wool 
breaches worn with leggings. Breeches were full to the knee, 
then laced tight. Leggings fit tight below the knee to the foot 
with a strap under the foot. They laced up the outside on each 
leg. The leggins given to me were for the same leg! I just wore 
them anyway. Everybody laughed! 

At Ft. Sheridan we got shots and vaccinations and 
waited to be sent out to a camp of unknown destination. 
Sometimes it got tiresome just sitting around. 

On a certain day, the head of the construction gang was 
recruiting volunteers to be truck drivers. He wanted guys 
that had driven a truck. Well, I had never driven a truck but 
volunteered anyway, just to have something to do. We all got 
in the back end of a truck and were driven to the construction 
site. The truck driving job? Well, it was to push a 
wheelbarrow filled with cement up a ramp to a second story 
of the building project! In order to get guys to work, a lot of 
trickery was used. 

Once we got to the camp at Galva, Illinois, there was 
always plenty of work to be done. When we arrived, the 
campsite was nothing but a field of cornstalks and lots of 
mud! Tents had to be set up— most guys had never even set 
up a tent. The legs sunk in the mud until the bottom of our 
cots touched the ground. In the center of each tent was a 
cone-shaped stove with a chimney going up through the 

center. The first night we loaded that stove up with coal and 
dead wood from hedge trees. Boy, did we have a hot tent! The 
ground in our tent was hard as concrete by the next morning, 
we could sweep it up. We were lucky, the tent right across 
from ours burned down. 

In good weather we did conservation work on farms in 
the area. In the winter we cleared highways and backroads of 
snow. We'd scoop snow by hand till the roads were clear. 
After being in CCC awhile, I was given the job of mapping 
farms, planning fences, waterways, etc.. One day I was out on 
a mapping job alone. I had a chpboard with a sheet of graph 
paper, then a piece of paper on top for figuring and on top a 
heavier sheet all wrapped together with a rubber band. After 
I had finished mapping, I sat down, ate lunch, and took a nap. 
When I woke up I discovered that grasshoppers had eaten all 
my paper, except for a little piece under the chp. All my work 
was gone! The next day I went back and did it aO over again. 

Camp was not all work. There were dances and picture 
shows in the downtown Galva on Saturday night. CCC. 
guys and their dates could get into the shows for half-price, 
15 or 20<f. Sometimes some of the local girls would wait in 
front of the movie house and offer to pay their own way in if 
the guy would take them in as their date. In the summer, 
dances were outside on cement in town. Sometimes big bands 
would put tents and give free shows. They were paid by the 

We even had a couple of pets, one cat and one dog. The 
cat was a favorite of everyone. We all hked to carry her 
around. She was here, there and everywhere in camp. We 
knew she was going to have kittens, everybody was watching 
her to make sure she was in someplace when the time came 
for her to have them. This one morning as I went in for 
breakfast someone was yelling, "Bloom, hey Bloom, the cat 
had kittens and you'll never guess where— in the sugar 
barrel!" We just took the cat and kittens out of the barrel, 
scraped the top and used the sugar. After everyone had 

eaten, we took them where the kittens had been born. You 
should have heard them! 

In the four years I spent in the CCC. there were more 
funny experiences than I can begin to tell or even remember. 
These are just a few of them. 


Delbert Lutz 

Frenchtown was a small settlement started by 
Frenchmen about 1830, on the site where the Frenchtown 
schools were built at a later date. It was located about six 
miles north of Nauvoo and consisted of a black-smith shop, 
store, tavern and some cabins. The surrounding 
neighborhood was later called Frenchtown. 

About 1933 I sold hogs that weighed over eighteen 
hundred pounds for a total sum of forty-four dollars and some 
cents. About this time we shipped four sheep to Chicago and 
received less than a dollar for the four. We bought one 
hundred bushels of apples for five dollars; the man that I 
bought them from helped me truck them home and put them 
in the basement. We sold them, a few bushels at a time, in Ft. 
Madison for twenty-five and thirty-five cents a bushel. The 
toll to cross the bridge was the same as it is today, so it took 
the profit from two bushels of apples to pay the toll. 

The following represents part of a tomato grower's 
contract copied from the original. Take note that the price 
paid was one-third a cent per pound: 

"During the year 1933 the under-signed agrees to 
raise and dehver to the Keokuk Canning Company 
at its receiving place at Ft. Madison in Lee County, 
Iowa, eight acres of tomatoes at twenty cents per 
box. The tomatoes to be ripe, smooth, free from 
knobs, rot and green, weight sixty pounds net to the 
box and not less than three and one half ounces 


each. To be delivered in vehicles with springs to 
prevent injury to the tomatoes. The tomatoes when 
deUvered to be fresh, sound, healthy, free from 
disease, rot or taint and in every way fit for canning. 
All stems to be removed by grower. The grower will 
not raise or deliver during said year, in said county, 
any tomatoes except for said company. April 1933. 
P. H. Fulton— for the company. Delbert Lutz and 
Otis Lutz— growers." 

The plants were one dollar a thousand. We used about 
fifteen thousand and they were set by hand, using no kind of 

I bought a Model T truck in 1930 for $102.50 and a 1940 
model Pontiac in 1940 for $450.00 I brought both home with 
no down-payment. We bought our only tractor in 1937 for 
$450.00 It sold at our sale in 1940 for $40.00. It was in good 

I remember buying hamburger and coney sandwiches 
for a nickel. I started to work at the Sheaffer Pen Company in 
1940 for forty cents per hour. I would get a meal at a 
restaurant for twenty cents. I mixed concrete for a neighbor 
for $.25 per hour. Was glad to get it and wished the job had 
lasted longer. This was the Depression in Frenchtown. 


Sarah Catherine McKone 

She was trapped, cornered, and I'll never forget the 
fleeting look of cold fury on her face as the three of us 
approached her with exclamations of delight as we led the 
Stranger to her. 

She was my mother; young, her years were less than 
thirty. She was alone, quite alone, on the farm with us three 
children, ages six, five, and three. She had no means of 

outside communication: no telephone, no passers-by, no 
lights except the sun, coal oil lamp, and candles she made and 
molded from sheeps' tallow. No watch dog to protect her from 
impending danger. My father was not at home. He was to be 
away for two days and two nights. He had driven with a horse 
team and buggy to Macomb to consult with a doctor and 
have treatment. He was recovering from an attack of 

This was a warm summer day in the year of 1907 or 
1908, and early that morning our good neighbor "Sebe" had 
ridden in on horseback and given a warning! "There is a 
stranger heading this way. He has scared several women. He 
is either an escaped convict or a tramp, and is considered 
dangerous." Mother was to keep a watchful eye and use 
caution. If she saw any strange man coming, best go into the 
house and lock the door. 

Sebe rode on his way to warn others, and Mother called 
us into the house. She told us, not any alarming detail, but we 
were sternly warned to keep watch and come immediately to 
the house if any stranger was seen coming. 

Later in the day, she went to the garden at the back of 
the house. She told us to stay in the front yard, near the road, 
and keep an eye out. We wasted no time and were soon busy 
with the joy of playing, and had no thought of possible 
danger. We were running toward the road when we saw him. 
He was coming through the gate. He was friendly. In fact, his 
toadying manner charmed us. We rushed to him and took him 
by the hands. He asked if our mother was at home. "Yes, oh 
yes! Mommie is here." With all thought of the stern warnings 
forgotten, hand in hand we led him to her. When she saw the 
stranger and the overwhelming hospitahty with which we 
were greeting him, she was silent and hostile. She had been 
betrayed. But discretion being the better part of valor, and 
mother being a wise and cautious person, also resourceful, 
she kindly asked him to come to the porch and sit where he 
could rest. She asked my older brother to pump a glass of cool 
water from the well, and she fetched food, which the man ate 

ravenously. Then she, having had ample time to collect her 
wits, told the "white he." She was sorry she had no time to 
prepare warm food, but her papa, our grandpa, was coming 
shortly to pick her and the children up, and take them home 
for the night. This fell on our young ears as a total surprise, 
which we greeted with: "Mommy, we didn't know Grandpa 
was coming. "Goody, Goody! Grandpa's coming and he'll be 
driving Nick and Pet, and he'll bring us some peppermint 
candy and we're gonna stay all night." 

Mother now added smoothly to the lie. "I didn't tell the 
children Papa was coming. It is so hard for them to wait." 

There were many tramps in the early years of the 
twentieth century. They travelled by foot, or freight train 
cars. They Uved by begging or asking from door to door for 
money and food. They were usuaOy hungry, needy and 
harmless. They were also cunning. If you were kind enough to 
feed a Tramp, there was usually a rash of them which made it 
appear that "Word got Around." When you got tired of 
seeing them coming, or tired of seeing one everytime you 
looked up, it was time to stop feeding them. Later in my life I 
lived close to a railroad track, and had many of them. Finally 
I (for I was afraid of them) found a solution. When I saw one 
coming, I would go into the yard in plain view, call the big 
coUie dog, and he would bark savagely. This would drive the 
tramp back to the tracks. The ones I remember were 
unkempt, dirty, and hairy. I probably had my share of these 
"Knights-of-the-Road," but I never encountered any who 
made ugly threats. I never gave them money. 

On that day so long ago, after the Stranger had rested a 
bit, mother excused him with rather a pressing note: " I don't 
want to keep papa waiting, and I have so much to do. The 
children will walk you to the gate." We led him by the hand to 
the gate and told him good bye. He had come from the East 
and started to walk to the West, in a manner of one who is 
continuing a long journey. Mother and the three of us 
watched until he was well out of sight. 

Mother, her anger gone, and feeling safe, now tried once 

again to explain. My older brother who was the "Little Man 
of the Family" when father was away, seemed to understand. 
My younger one was too young to think it was anything but a 
lark. I, for the hfe of me, did not understand, and with the 
childish wisdom of my tender years, tried to defend the tramp 
and argued, "But Mommy, he was such a nice man!" 


Martin E. Herstedt 

Bom in Moline, Illinois, July 25, 1911 of Swedish 
parentage. I attended kindergarten, also in Moline, at Willard 
School. Then we moved from Mohne, to East Moline, 
Illinois— the Watertown Section of that city. It is still known 
as such. 

Ten years rolled along, and as we were located about 
two blocks from the Mississippi River, the high waters of 
1922 decided to visit us. Watertown was appropriately 
named. The snows up north filled the hills, and its tributaries 
grew to overflowing as the spring thaws of March and April 
occured and, as is known, the moisture had to seek its own 
level. Because the melting and thawing came with such 
rapidity, we were soon surrounded, as Honey Creek ran very 
close to all the residences in that area, overflowed its banks, 
and 13th Street in front of our houses became a veritable 
Venice. Our folks had a boat and raft tied to the back porch. 
There was nothing wrong with that to me, although I was 
alarmed when the water filled the basement. 

The water attained the level of the second step from 
entering the kitchen and the front room. The upstairs 
contained two bedrooms, one for dad and mother and baby 
brother, and one for my older brother and I. But the pluses 
were decidedly in us boy's favor. My older brother, who is 
eighteen months my senior, would go along with Dad in the 

rowboat to John Deere Harvester Works, to a higher spot, 
where he got out of the boat, and walked the remaining 
distance to the shop. Cne of us would row over to the place to 
^ pick up Dad at the end of the working day, and to row back 
home. Us two boys took turns doing this. 

What made this wonderful, was that we didn't have to 
go to school for a couple of weeks until the water receded. The 
grocery situation was also taken care of by rowing to upper 
Watertown. Shades of Huck Finn! The raft wasn't 
overlooked, and my brother and I did quite a bit of exploring. 
It was particularly deep where Honey Creek flowed. One day 
while venturing with the raft, in that region, I knew I was 
close to the Creek and I was going under some willows. I tried 
to puU myself through by grabbing a sturdy branch. The raft 
decided it had enough of me, it kept going its own way, and I 
was left suspended in midair, holding on to the branch. 
Fortunately, another raft was in the vicinity with two well- 
grown boys maneuvering about. My shouts caught their 
attention. One boy either jumped or dived in and swam over 
to me. At that particular point he was standing, as it was on 
the edge of the bank, where I was holding this branch. He 
told me to let go, which I promptly did, and I found I was 
submerged only to my chest. The fact that he performed an 
heroic act has been with me through the years. 


Margaret Sipes Laivson 

It was nearing my fifteenth birthday when the big flood 
came. In spite of the fact that the great Illinois River usually 
reached flood stage in the spring, this year really heavy and 
continuous rains through September had brought the waters 
steadily up and up untU the entire populace of the fertile 
valley were gloomily watching for a sign of the sun. This last 

morning before the final break my father told me and my 
older brother Elmer not to go to school today but stay home 
with our mother and younger brothers while he worked with 
other men sandbagging the levees in a futile effort to hold 
back the raging waters. A few days before we had all walked 
down to the levees, and the water was high enough for us to 
stand on the top of the levee and touch it by merely stooping 
and reaching out. The river itself had backed up into a 
smaller creek whose levees were much lower and weaker and 
it was this levee the men were trying to save. When my father 
came home just about bedtime, he reported that they had all 
but given up and were only keeping watch so they could 
notify people in the event it broke before morning. We were 
told to go to bed as the phone would wake us if anything 
happened. I suspected that neither my father or mother got 
very much sleep that night and sometime before daylight the 
dreaded message came: "Get your family out, the levee has 
broken!" Since the full force of the water did not strike the 
break, he was advised to wait till daylight because the 
continous rain had made the Ughtly oUed dirt roads 
practically impassable even for horses. So a busy few hours 
followed. The most necessary clothes and bedding plus a few 
treasured keepsakes were packed in a large trunk to be taken 
with us when we left. By daylight we had eaten the last 
breakfast we were to have in our own home for months. A 
calm but very worried family waited for day to break in 
almost utter silence. By daybreak the sturdiest team of 
horses was hitched to a wagon with all the extra mules tied on 
behind. The gates to all the pastures and hog lots were 
opened, so the hvestock could fend for themselves and the 
trunk was loaded in the wagon. With a long backward look we 
set out for the high ground over two miles away. The 
incoming water had naturally sought out the low places and 
so most of the road was still out of the water. However, about 
halfway to the bluffs in a direct Une with the break was a low 
place where the water crossed the road and ran into a already 
full drainage ditch. We all knew father was an expert at 


handling the horses, but when the water became deep enough 
to reach the bottom of the wagon bed, and the horses began 
to swim because they could no longer touch the road, a few 
minutes of tense silence was broken only by the quiet urging 
of my father's voice talking calmly to his team. A few 
nervous crowding motions of the lead mules made the wagon 
sway dangerously, but the steady team hitched in front paid 
no attention to the pull from the back and solid ground was 
soon reached. An older rather dilapidated house long 
unoccupied was taken over for the time, and after I, my 
mother and two younger brothers were safely unloaded with 
the few possessions in the trunk, father and Elmer took the 
teams and two wagons and went back to see if it was possible 
to return and save the other furniture. Since the flood water 
had so very much ground to spread in, it took several days to 
actually fiU the whole valley with deep enough water to be 
impossible to travel. Any of the essential furniture was 
stored in the barn loft above the level of any flood, and all the 
rest of the day was spent making trips out to the high ground 
with enough furniture and other possessions to keep house 
for an indefinite period of time. 

In 1926 there was no flood insurance and no 
government "bail-outs." Every farmer was solely responsible 
for his loss and for providing for his family for the winter 
months ahead. Also, there was the problem of seed, etc. for 
the coming spring. A landowner, Mr. Adams, who also lost 
some of his crop, but who lived up on the bluffs, was a great 
help. A road project requiring men and teams (no big 
mechanical bulldozers) was to be started there. The big 
problem was that the house we had temporarily occupied was 
too far away for daily travel. The problem was solved by 
moving into tents in a pasture behind Mr. Adam's House. 
Water was carried from their well and since outdoor 
plumbing was all most people had, there was no problem in 
that area. Two tents were borrowed from the Red Cross, and 
the Glasgow Sportsmen Club loaned a large white one. The 
white tent and one other were floored. One was a sleeping 

tent and one was to cook and live in. The third unfloored one 
was used for storage only. 

The Adams family were building a new house that fall 
and it was completed in early December. As soon as they 
moved into it, we were to Live in their old house. 

Although the water had receded slowly, when the ice 
froze, there was still enough water underneath that only the 
tops of the fence posts were showed through. At the farm 
there were about two hundred pecan trees. A large number of 
nuts feO on the ice, and on a sunny winter afternoon our 
family and some friends walked on the ice, pulling the httle 
brothers on a sled and picked up several sacks of very nice 

It must have been a very long winter to my parents. 
When spring came, the clean-up and moving back began. The 
water mark in our house, which was on a fairly high 
foundation, was in the middle of the upper sash of the 
windows which meant that the water had been at least as 
much as eight feet deep. 

The big day finally came and the furniture was moved 
back, the hvestock penned in the proper places and plans 
made for a new and better season. 


Vivian May Pate 

It was the morning of my 29th birthday. The date: May 
22, 1943. 

All spring, the Illinois River had slowly, steadily, 
chmbed upward. I had hved in Beardstown only four years 
and being confronted by high water was a new experience. 
But the "old timers" took it calmly enough (to all outward 
appearances, at least). 

When the flood gates were slid into place and splash 

boards added to the top of the seawall, we "new comers" 
really felt uneasy. Because then began the age old conflict of 
man against the elements. 

"The flood water won't get into the town. We'll keep it 
out," the men predicted. 

Thousands of sandbags were stacked along the seawall 
and levees and piled high to fortify the strength of the 

Seep water doggedly inched into the low spots all over 

"It will reach 30 feet before it starts to rest," was the 
verdict of those who knew the moods of the River. 

Rumors were flying about that when 29 feet was passed, 
the elderly, the women, and the children would be evacuated 
for safety's sake. The men would remain in town and continue 
to sandbag. As I had an ailing sixty-year-old mother and a 
lively four-year-old son, I was deeply concerned. 

When the much-dreaded 29-foot stage was reached, 
people quietly began to pack suitcases and put them in the 
trunks of cars. We moved from our home on West 7th Street 
into a house "somewhere in Wolfe's addition" in the east side. 
At least we were in a much higher part of town. But we 
stayed there only overnight. 

The next morning, shortly after breakfast (which no one 
seemed to have the appetite to touch) the warning whistle 
began to sound off. It meant: "Get out of town! " They tell me 
it blew five times but we were in the car and headed out of 
town, toward Virginia, before the third blast ended. 

As we swung into the line of fast moving cars, my 
husband turned to me, grinned, and said: "Happy birthday, 
MA!" Except for the music from the car radio, the rest of the 
trip was made in complete silence. 

When we bumped across the railroad tracks into 
Virginia, the radio was playing one of my favorite songs: 
"Heartaches." Then the realization of what was actually 
happening finally liit me. "Would the sea wall hold? Were the 
splash boards really strong enough? And if it came to the 

worse and water did flood the town, would we have a home 
left to which to return? Then, I seemed to hear those hopeful 
brave voices, "We'll keep it out." 

We immediately found a large, airy, comfortable, up- 
stairs bedroom at Lippert rooming house. The other rooms 
were instantly snapped up by our next door neighbors, the 
Andy Sherrills, a Franks family, and the Reverend Tom Allen 
and his wife and daughter. Reverend Allen was the minister 
of the First Southern Baptist Church. Maybe it was Sunday. 
I don't remember, but Rev. Allen held church services that 
evening at Virginia High School gymnasium. Ironically 
enough, the first hymm was "Higher Ground!" 

Later on, army cots were set up in that gymnasium and 
it became "home" for a lot of the flood refugees for the next 
two weeks. 

Food for us was furnished by the Red Cross. It was 
prepared in the kitchen and served in the dining room at the 
Methodist Church. I can honestly say no one went hungry. 

Back in Beardstown the Salvation Army had set up 
temporary headquarters where they served their world 
renowned hot coffee and doughnuts. The National Guard 
moved in and the town was under martial law. The levee had 
broken "somewhere" and a guardsman, a colored fellow, had 

Write-ups and pictures of our plight appeared in many 
newspapers. Whenever the newsbreaks came on radio 
stations, flood reports took top priority. But only those who 
have hved through such an experience know the anxiety and 
fear it brings. If there is anything more uncertain than the 
date of the Judgment Day, it's what a wild, rampaging, 
flooding river will do next. 

The flood fighters were well aware of this. Still they 
continued the battle. 

"The flood water won't get into the town," they said. 
And it didn't! "We wiU keep it out," they had also said. And 
they did! 

Also, true was the "old timers" prediction that it would 


crest at 30 feet. Some claim it went a little higher. Then, it 
began to fall, very slowly. We were told we wouldn't be 
allowed to come home until it was down to 25 feet. So we 
waited, more hopefully now. 

At last came that lovely morning when we saw aU of 
those state police cars and State of Illinois orange trucks 
Uned up around the court house square. Someone shouted, 
"We're going home." 

It didn't take very long for every vehicle to become 
fiUed up. Suitcases and boxes were Uterally thrown and 
tossed as their happy owners scrambled in after them. As a 
truck load of us came barreling back to Beardstown some 
joked, "The closer to home you get, the better it smells." 


Bob Hulsen 

The going was pretty hard in the early Twenties for 
some people— at least it was for our family of Mom and Dad 
and five kids. Although Dad was a skiUed machinist, he 
found a job driving a bakery wagon. In those days, all sorts of 
merchandise was sold house to house. 

The wagon was a big white home-made structure 
mounted on an abandoned Ford chassis. It had rubber tires, 
was painted white, and had windows that could be let down 
into the sides with a strap. Dad would often take me along to 
help drive the old horse, Kate, who knew the route and who 
usually pulled the big old rig peacefully. It was great fun to 
ride down the street, ringing the big bell to call our 
customers, who bought coffee cakes, cookies, pies, bread and 
other goodies. 

Kate had been a farm horse and was not really in love 
with the city. Some things petrified her and she resorted to 
her only defense: Run! One of the hazards was the platform 

and canvas which electric and telephone linemen hoisted up 
on poles to protect them while they worked. We had to keep a 
sharp eye because Kate could spot one of those platforms a 
mile away. If a canvas flapped in the wind, we were off, a 
runaway at breakneck speed rocking the topheavy old wagon 
dangerously! Another hazard was a factory whistle. 
Somehow Kate never got used to it. We always checked the 
clock to be certain not to pass a plant at noon hour because a 
toot from the factory whistle meant big trouble for Dad and 

The old wagon was well-planned. Foods were all kept in 
lockers. Pies were carried on shelves made of wires. The 
lockers were about 12 inches wide and extended from floor to 
ceiling and doors were fastened at the top by a latch. 

In those days, a tire company named Fisk made inner 
tubes for tires that were red-orange in color. The color, I 
believe, was a trademark. One day as we rolled along, old 
Kate kept trying to turn her head and look back at the wagon. 
Pop exclaimed: "I wonder what that old horse sees?" He let 
the window down and leaned out to discover there was a hole 
in the side of the tire on the right front wheel and the high 
pressure had forced the tube out of the hole. There was an 
orange-red bubble as big as a washtub going round and round 
on the outside of the wheel. Dad jumped back and grabbed 
for the reins, but it was too late— BANG! And away we went! 

We had a miraculous escape from injury or death on 
that run, but a pie locker came unlatched. Banana cream, 
lemon meringue, chocolate, apple, cherry, and coconut 
cream— fifteen pies all together on the floor. What a mess! 



VII ^arm Life 


"The 'Little Farms' were the link between the pioneer 
with his log cabin and garden patch and the modern, shining, 
new mechanized agriculture, " writes Floy Chapman in the 
story that introduces this section of Tales from Two Rivers. 
She goes on to describe how these "little farms" disappear 
daily under the blade of the bulldozer, victims of modern 
methods of farming that the United States Department of 
Agriculture itemizes as: four wheel drive tractors; 
electronically controlled harvesters; pesticides; fertilizers; 
hybreds; and disease controlling drugs. Fewer farmers are 
now able to farm greater acreages, and so the "Uttle farms" 
have been absorbed into large scale agricultural operations. 

Mrs. Adelphia Dean, in her story "All the Needs of 
Daily Life," writes of the unique quahty of the "little farms": 
they produced almost all of the food, fuel, clothing and daily 
needs of the farm family. They were a "self-sufficient" unit. 
By virtue of that characteristic, they epitomized what 
Thomas Jefferson felt was the optimum substrate of a 
healthy nation, a system of self sufficient farms with httle 
need or interest in markets. His thinking pervaded that of the 
Founding Fathers, who envisioned the small farm as the 
basis for democratic government since, to them, land 
ownership inferred a responsible citizenry and, also, brought 
with it the political power of the vote. And so the "httle 
farms" discussed in this section are more than nostalgic 
memories; they are symbols of what Americans have 
considered from the very beginnings of our country to be of 
value to society. 

On these "httle farms" each member of the family 
participated in labor which contributed to the well being of 
the whole family. Wilma Keilman tells how the entire family 
traveled by wagon to the mines to get their coal or to the 
timber to cut a winter's supply of wood. Wives helped their 
husbands in all phases of farm work, and also did the 

gardening, canning, sewing, and baking. Children worked, 
too, in this era before child labor laws were a part of the 
national conscience. They fed chickens, carried wood and 
water into the house, churned butter, milked cows and more! 
Nor do any of the authors seem to have resented their 
labor— they felt needed and they worked together. Their 
work was a part of the social and recreational fabric of hfe. 
Cutting wood for fuel was, also, the time for a picnic; learning 
to crochet needed mittens and caps was a lovingly 
remembered time spent with mother; and picking berries was 
a game to see who filled their buckets first! 

The camaraderie of shared goals was not contained 
solely within the farm family. It was manifest among the 
separate "Uttle farms" of a community. Edith L. Weinant 
and Minnie J. Bryan write of days when farmers and their 
famihes came together to butcher livestock and dress the 
meat. They made up harvest crews that rotated from farm to 
farm, threshing grain and eating the platters of fried chicken, 
cream gravy, biscuits, home grown vegetables and freshly 
baked pies prepared by their womenfolks. On Nubbin' Ridge 
the neighbors combined forces to provide telephone service to 
the community, and in Pike County the rural mailcarrier not 
only distributed letters, but, also, took eggs and cream to 
town for the farmers on his route and then returned the next 
day with their money or the items they had asked him to 
purchase for them! The "Uttle farms" formed a cohesive and 
integrated environment for their inhabitants. 

But imperceptively things were changing. And the 
changes seem to have been welcomed. Paul Sloan writes, "I 
detested farm hfe but welcomed the new motor driven 
tractors. A horse-drawn plow consisted of two twelve-inch 
moldboard plows drawn by four horses. The tractor pulled 
the same twenty-four-inch plows without the loss of time 
when we had to blow the horses, aUowing them to get their 
second wind." Mr. Sloan describes the coming of the binder 
and the steam powered threshing machine. Dwight Croxton 
teUs of the coming of the cornplanter and the "riding" 


cultivator. Happy to have his physical labor ameliorated by 
the new machiriery, did the family farmer foresee his future? 
Did he envision the land divested of hedge rows, the fields 
stretching beyond fences to extend to the horizon, his 
neighbor's homes bulldozed into cellar holes to give way to 
additional acreage, and the small woodlots leveled and added 
to the tillable acre count? 

In 1979, Report Number 438, issued by the U.S. 
Department of Agriculture, included a prediction that in the 
future farm size would continue to grow; small, family farms 
would disappear; and the agricultural influence on rural 
communities would decrease until rural America would 
become undistinguishable from urban America. The report 
asks the following questions: 1. Will the intangible values 
inherent in a rural culture and valued as a part of the 
American tradition be lost if small farms are foreclosed as a 
way of life? 2. Do we as society want this to happen? 

Mrs. Dean is perhaps responding to these questions when 
she writes, "Who has time anymore to sit on the front porch for a 
visit with neighbors? Haven't we lost something . . .?" And Clarice 
Trone Dickerson ends her story pensively, "In these 75 years 
there have been cars, electricity and gas for heat . . . airplanes, 

atom and hydrogen bombs, trips to the moon and, in the next 75 
years, we cannot imagine how much more progress will be made. 
We only hope it will be for the betterment of mankind." 

The next 75 years may bring a revitalization of the 
"little farms" . Research, such as has been cited above, 
reflects a growing concern that these "little farms" are vital 
to the health of our society. For the first time since 1900 the 
following legislation has been enacted at the federal level, 
which provides for research to aid in small farm development: 
The Agricultural Act of 1970; the Rural Development Act of 
1972; and the Food Development Act of 1977. The National 
Rural Center in Washington D. C. issued a publication. 
Towards a Federal Small Farms Policy, in 1978 that called 
for federal attention to the demise of the "family farm" by 
stating "... the fact that more than a miUion famihes, despite 
the prevailing views of experts, remain intent on exercising 
the option to earn income from smaller-scale farms argues 
strongly for a fresh and comprehensive look at the factors 
affecting the economic viability of such operations." And 
Wendell Berry writes in The Unsettling of America^ "... care 
of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy and, after 
all, our most pleasing responsibiUty." 


Floy K. Chapman 

The "Little Farms" were the link between the pioneer 
with his log cabin and garden patch and the modern shining 
new mechanized agriculture. The men and women of my age 
are its children. Often we have longed to return, but time 
marches on and one never goes back. We dwell upon the good, 
and reject the unpleasant memories in the interest of 
personal sanity. Quickly we push aside the memories of the 
great physical struggle involved in wresting a hvelihood from 
the soil with man and horse power. We tend to forget the long 
hours of labor, the unending struggle against the encroaching 
forest with its insects and animals, the prejudices that 
crippled our relationship with others, and the ignorance that 
fostered disease and crippling disasters . . . even death itself. 

I was born six miles west of White Hall, in Greene 
County, Illinois, on one of the "Little Farms," in February of 
190L I believe our "Little Farm" was typical of hundreds in 
the state at that time. In memory, it lingers on as clearly as if 
I could go to it anytime, but in reality, it is no more. In a 
neighborhood that boasted 26 houses, a church, a school, a 
mail route, and a Justice of the Peace, only six houses are left. 
Of these, all except two are occupied by elderly people living 
alone, but there was a time when things were different. 

Ours was a five-room frame house, immaculately white, 
with a pantry and front and back porches. The foundation of 
the house and the walls of the dirt-floored cellar under the 
house were of native limestone rock. The interior walls were 
of solid white plaster, and the woodwork was painted bright 
blue. Our landlord Uved with us and we children loved him. 
He was old and joUy and fat and he wore wooden shoes that 
made a big noise when he walked. He had built the farm and 
he loved it with a passion. 

Near the porch was a well with a box over it and a wheel 
on a frame that helped to Uft the two big wooden buckets of 
water from the well. My parents lifted all the water we used 

from that deep Umestone-walled well, by hand. There was no 
cistern, but the well water was cool and plentiful. 

Back of the house was a red-painted smoke house that 
served a thousand purposes. In it was a small room where the 
meat was hung after butchering and smoked until cured with 
hickory chips smoldering in a heavy metal bucket set safely 
on a limestone rock. 

To the west was a beautiful garden spot with a big patch 
of raspberries, grapes and blackberries. Rhubarb, sage, and 
currants and gooseberries grew in profusion along the edge of 
the garden. An orchard with cherry, apple, peach, plum and 
pear trees spread to the west. 

To the north was a large horse lot, surrounded by 
wooden board fences. Near its center was the large barn itself 
with a hayloft, cribs for corn, bins for oats and wheat, and 
stalls for the horses. Nearby were lots and shed for cows and 
hogs. Great elms furnished shade in the heat of summer. A 
big gate opened into a pasture of blue grass and a well of 
Limestone furnished water for this horses' paradise. In the 
spring, little colts ran after their mothers and the milk cows 
rested under the trees, chewing their cuds in quiet 

Colts, calves, and hogs were cash crops as was the 
wheat and poultry. 

There was not enough plow land on the "Little Farm" so 
my father shared-cropped for farmers not too far away, or 
went to the Illinois River bottoms to put in corn or wheat. He 
and a neighbor boy would live in a shanty in the bottom 
during the planting and harvesting times, hoping the river 
would not flood and take the crop down to New Orleans, as it 
often did. 

Mother and we children and a hired girl (paid the 
magnificent sum of $2 a week) would care for the little farm 
while the men were gone. Both women were busy all day long 
every day. Each day the cows were milked twice and milk was 
strained into white stoneware crocks sitting on the cool 
earthen floor of the cellar. Every morning the cream would be 


skimmed and saved to be churned by hand in the old 
bentwood churn. The skimmed milk was fed to the hogs, 
chickens, turkeys, cats, and dogs. 

Livestock and three children had to be fed and cared for. 
Washing, ironing and canning had to be done. Often the 
skimmed milk would be used to make cottage cheese which 
was hung in a white sack over the wire clothesline to drain. 
When the curds were dry, they would be broken up by hand, 
salted, and mixed with rich yellow cream. 

There was, of course, no refrigerator or ice box, but in 
the summer, the skimmed cream was hung in the well in a 
bucket safely anchored by a strong rope. Every week the 
cream would be churned, molded in a wheatprint one pound 
wooden mold, or packed into one pound crocks to be delivered 
to choice customers in town at 25 cents a pound. 

Early in the morning on deUvery day, Mother would 
hitch Old Bonnie to the buggy and take us two older children 
with her to White Hall, six miles away, to dehver the butter 
and cheese, and to shop. Generally the hired girl would keep 
the baby at home, but we two older children would be 
carefully dressed and combed before we started on our high 
adventure. Mother would look young and pretty to us. We 
were proud of the fact that we were clean and decent and not 
"beholden" to any one. 

From early spring until late fall, a peddler came to our 
door once a week. He bought eggs and poultry, and sold 
groceries and other things we needed. We could hear him 
singing as he came driving his old horse hitched to a one- 
horse wagon. We were dehghted to see him and the stick 
candy with which he was so generous. 

About 3/4 mile from our house was a one-room country 
school. Often thirty children would be in attendence and all 
eight grades were taught. Once a year the County 
Superintendent of Schools would come to inspect the school 
and offer suggestions for improvement. When we saw his 
team of horses hitched to a buggy coming down the road, we 
slicked down our hair and put on our good behavior. 

Across from the school, the Justice of the Peace lived 
and tried small cases and settled disputes among neighbors. 
Sometimes he would even marry a young couple, but he never 
issued any divorce papers. There simply was no divorce. He 
was always clean shaven and neatly dressed, well read for his 
time, and ready for any emergency that might arise. 

GeneraDy neighborhood business was settled without 
resorting to the sheriff or outsiders. 

Less than a mile west of the school house, a white 
country church stood for almost a century. It was an 
important influence in maintaining order and decency. We 
were proud and took care of our own. Life sent sickness and 
death, pain, frustration, and sorrow, but there was also peace 
and joy and love. 

Wildlife was unbelievably abundant. Bluebirds built 
their nests in the hollow oak posts near our doors. Thrushes, 
red birds, and robins were our closet friends. In spring the air 
was fuU of song and the flutter of wings. 

Everyone over 12 was adept with the use of guns, but I 
cannot remember that they were used except for obtaining 
food or protection from predators. In early winter there was 
trapping for fur and many a family Christmas was paid for 
with fur from skunks, raccoons, opossums, foxes, mink, and 
muskrats. Rabbits, squirrels, and fish were every day table 
fare for those who had the time or cared to take the effort 

Today, not only are the people gone, but the very face of 
the earth itself is altered. Bulldozers have scooped out ponds, 
leveled hills and ripped out trees to be piled and burned. The 
wells, buildings, and fences of the Uttle farms have been 
covered or destroyed. With the aid of modern agricultural 
chemistry, machinery, and know-how, fields of soy beans and 
corn cover the land. You can travel for miles without seeing a 
horse or a Jersey cow. 

There is still a fence row beside a dirt lane that leads 
back to the place where we were once so happy. Prairie grass 
grows where there was once a house, and a well flanked by 

Butter and Egg and Bouncing Betty. Do you suppose, if by 
some chance, I went back there, I might be able to find the 
little blue granite cup from which I drank so happily almost 
80 years ago? 


Adelphia J. Dean 

By the five senses of taste, touch, smell, hearing and 
seeing we remember vividly our past experiences of youth 
and maturity as we knew it and lived hfe. 

The farm family had to be self sufficient, in that they 
worked raising most of their own food, providing for their 
clothing, heat and almost all the needs of daily life. Farm 
homes of my childhood consisted of four or five rooms, back 
and front porch on the ground level and two upstairs 
rooms— one for the boys and one for the girls. We had no 
inside plumbing, maybe a pitcher pump connected to a 
cistern over a zinc basin. The back porch was necessary for 
the rubber boots, chicken feed, milk buckets and bushel 
baskets for the feeding of the farm animals. We had no plastic 
to cover windows and many times in winter the moisture in 
the house froze on the windows, making indescribable 
pictures of palm trees, ferns, etc.. It was a painful experience 
for a child to put his tongue against this frosty window pane 
for you usually ended up with a very sore tongue. Who can 
forget the spectre of winter underwear frozen stiff on the 
clothes line? People had to dress warm as there was no 
central heat and this included long underwear, either cotton 
or wool, wool shirts and overalls for the men— for the 
women— also long underwear, cotton flannel petticoats, 
ribbed black cotton stockings and black sateen bloomers for 
the girls. This underwear was worn until around Decoration 
Day and when removed seemed as if you had shed your 
second skin. Such freedom. Bathing was on Saturday night in 

the family wash tub. As the water cooled, the warm water 
was replenished from the copper tea kettle or reservoir 
attached to the kitchen range. I am sure most children my 
age remember the comb rack over the wash basin with the 
Bible verse: "Give us this day our daily bread." The water 
bucket with the tin dipper and the slop bucket. The water pail 
many times empty and the slop bucket full. This was carried 
to the hogs, who thoroughly enjoyed the dishwater. And who 
can forget the comforting sound of the tea kettle singing on 
the Majestic range. The kitchen was the hub of the home. 
Early spring time would sometimes find a huge box back of 
the stove with a hen and her baby chicks sheltered from a 
cold April rain, waiting until the weather warmed up. The 
crocks of milk, the cream, the churning of butter, baking 
bread, those dehcious smells of the kitchen. 

Saturday was the day we got to the village store. Here 
was where the sense of smell was most evident. One side of 
the store had the hard goods or materials. The smell of 
gingham plaids, chambray, outing flannel, muslins, the laces 
and buttons. All 100 percent cotton. A woman wasn't really 
in style unless she possessed a black taffeta dress or skirt. 
This was worn on Sunday or to a funeral. On the opposite side 
of the store were the staples of coffee, sugar, cheese, crackers, 
coal oil. Very few canned goods. Flour came in cloth 
sacks— 25 lb. sacks that were bleached and used. My 
grandmother's favorite brand— Kansas Girl. Eggs sold for 12 
cents a dozen, butter 10 cents a pound. The food bill was met 
by the seUing of eggs, butter and milk. 

Speaking of floor coverings— we had carpets made of 
torn rags, woven on a loom. These strips were sown together 
to cover the front room. At house cleaning time they were 
ripped apart, washed and dried in the hot sun, sewn back 
together and stretched over fresh wheat straw. Such a clean, 
delightful, odor. The wood heater had been stored in a wash 
room until early September. We didn't need the E.P.A. in my 
youth. My father-in-law hauled cord wood— good hickory and 
black oak for $6.00 a load— to a prominent citizen— about 12 


miles from his home. At Thanksgiving and Christmas they 
usually had home grown turkeys and geese to sell for the 
holidays. This provided for their own family's Christmas. We 
didn't have access to bananas and oranges only during the 
holidays. The cave was well stocked with apples, cabbage, 
potatoes, onions, and kraut. I can almost smell the apples 
now. I cannot close this without mentioning the hair ribbons. 
The beautiful colors, red and blue plaid, pink, lavendar, plain 
blue. We braided our hair in 1912. It was washed in soft 
water, caught in a rain barrel, with Grandpa's Tar soap. I 
know it would have been a relief to our dear mothers had 
short hair been popular in that age. 

Who has time anymore to sit on a front porch for a visit 
with neighbors? Haven't we lost something in this fast 
development of news and transportation? We know there wiU 
never be a return to our early ways of living but the experiences 
we had will always be a part of us growing to maturity. 


Idapearl Kruse 

I was born March 5, 1892, in the famed Mormon town of 
Nauvoo, Illinois, and grew up in a period of time known as the 
"Gay Nineties." My parents moved to a farm in Sonora 
Township when I was two and a half years old. 

I walked to and from a one room school called the 
"Gibraltar" which was built of Native stone and had 2 door's 
on the South and three window's on the East and West side 
built in the late 1860's. 

In those day's there was a "huckster" that traveled 
what was known as the "prairie" road from Nauvoo to 
Hamilton and people on either side of his route came to his 
stopping places to buy staple groceries such as sugar, flour, 
yeast, fruits and vegetables in season and other item's such 

as lace; pin's; hooks and eye's, button's thread; slate pencils, 
and lead pencil's plus other items. A neighbor girl and myself 
walked a mile, barefooted in summer to exchange butter 
which we carried in a ten gallon stone jar, plus eggs which we 
would exchange for needed article's. 

Beside turpentine, quinines, patent medicine and pills 
which could be purchased at A.C. Mills Drug Store in 
Nauvoo, people were resourceful and made tea from sassafras 
bark for a blood purifier. Also Penny Royal leaves and 
Juniper berries made into tea to stimulate the kidneys. Hot 
onion poultices over a rubbing of goose grease were effective 
in pneumonia and heavy bronchial infection's; and for a 
person afflicted with dropsy as was my Grandfather George 
Diemer. I gathered the leaves of the Mullen Plant which he 
bound around his ankle's and this would make them weep 
and reheve sweUing. Beside Rhubarb and asparagus in early 
spring we gathered dandehon's which we ate raw or cooked 
for green's with horse radish leaves, plantain, bitter lettuce, 
sour dill, lamb's quarter flavored with ham or bacon, and we 
thereby received needed mineral salts and vitamins. 
Mushrooms were an added delicacy. 

Hops grew wild along fence rows and they were 
gathered and dried to make a winter's supply of yeast by 
adding corn meal and salt. 

ShaUots or multipher onion's (commonly called winter 
onions) that grew along the paths our Saviour walked in 
Jerusalem and bore a clump of sets on the top of a stalk were 
carried to every nation on earth by tourists and most every 
home had some. They were used as green onions raw and 
could be used in cooking— the sets which dripped in the fall 
were hghtly covered with soil. Black Berries grew wild 
around the springs and fence rows and, when getting cows in 
for milking, we would take a kettle along and gather them. 
With cream and sugar they were deUcious as well as in pie 
and jeUies. Goose berries and straw berries grew wild, also. A 
supply of walnuts, hickory nuts and butter nuts were 
gathered in the fall and used in baking and candy making all 

winter long— most people had bee hive's full of honey, their 
own home killed beef, pork and chicken and wild game such 
as quail, deer, and rabbits and squirrel's varied the menu. 
Hominy was made from corn and jars of Sour Kraut from 
cabbage. Root crops were buried in straw-lined pits and kept 
good all winter. 


Wilma Keilman 

I wonder if some of the younger generation, (especially 
the young farm wives) would enjoy looking back over the 
years with me to the first years of my life on the farm. They 
were very remarkable and happy years. 

We were very happy in a nice comfortable home, but 
without most of the conveniences the farmers are blessed 
with in our modern day. Yes, we kept nice and warm, but not 
with gas or electricity. Our fuel was coal and wood, but it 
wasn't delivered to us; we had to go after it. We would hitch a 
team of horses to the big farm wagon, and start to the coal 
mine which was many miles away, and spend the night there 
to be among the first ones the next morning to get our 
allotment of coal. We could then get started early enough to 
get home before dark. You may be a little surprised to know 
we spent the night there, sleeping in the bottom of the wagon 
bed and hoping it would not rain. I will admit it wasn't very 
comfortable place to sleep, but with the blankets and pillows 
we had taken with us, we managed to get by. 

And now, about the wood. We went to the timber and 
cut down trees, working all of them into small pieces with saw 
and axe. and really enjoying doing it. On the nice days we 
would have a nice fire built, and sit by it to eat our noon 
lunch, and drink our coffee, and really relax. We used the 
wood not only in the furnace, but also in our old fashioned 

cook stove, which was really a great blessing, with it's 
reservoir of hot water handy at aU times. 

Did we have water in the house? Oh, no. We had a 
cistern outside which was kept filled if it rained often enough, 
from the rain water that ran off the house. We carried our 
drinking water from a deep well near the barn, where an old 
fashioned wind-mill kept a full tank of water for the horses, 
cattle and hogs, as well as allowing it to be changed to hand 
pumped water drawn into the containers we carried to use in 
the home. The wind-mill had to be watched closely, as on a 
real windy day it would cause the tank to run over, making 
mud around the tank. 

We did not go very much, and did not have TV for 
entertainment, as we have today, and were very happy to be 
kept busy. However, we did enjoy bobsled parties, when we 
had enough snow on the ground to use the bobsled. Those 
who never knew the joy of riding in a bobsled have sure 
missed a lot of pleasure. One of the farmers would put a 
wagon box on four runners, put straw in the bottom of the 
box, then put spring seats in, and with a lot of blankets we 
were ready for a wonderful evening together. The joyful 
sound of sleigh bells on the horses made the evening even 
more enjoyable. 

Of course we had young stock at all times, even colts to 
grow and be trained to help puD the farm implements along 
with three older horses. It was also my job to help my 
"Hubby" get all four of the horses hitched, and get started to 
the field through several gates. We would hitch the three 
older ones first, then I watched them while he got the young 
horse that he often referred to as "that stubborn sow", 
because when his mother hogs had little pigs, they were 
usually quite stubborn. 

Every day when plowing started. 

Came the same tune morn and noon, 

"Will you help me hitch the horses 
So I can get started soon" 

I would leave my household duties 

And go straightway to the barn. 
Bridle up the "old grey mare" 

That "Hubby" says "ain't worth a darn." 

Then I'd lead her out to water 

And hitch her to the old gang plow, 

Watch the leaders, Bess and Beauty 

While "Hubby" got that stubborn sow. 

When at last, he got the tugs hitched 

On that pracing, stubborn colt. 
Then 'twas "hold them all a minute 

'Till I run and get my coat". 

Now, he'd say, "We"ll soon be started. 

If you'll open wide the gate. 
Watch those calves they don't get thru tho 

Or it's sure to make me late." 

He would scarcely get them started, 

'Till he'd stop, and then I'd hear 
"I forgot about the windmill. 

Will you please throw it in gear?" 

"Watch the tank, it don't run over. 

Making mud around the lot. 
And call the veterinarian for me, 

I was going to, but forgot." 

Farmwork depended on energy in the early part of this 
century and part of that energy was contributed at no cost to 
the farmer— by his wife. 


Edith F. Aden 

When I was about three years old, my parents had a 

chance to rent a farm next to our grandfather's, in Columbus 
Township. This farm was owned by my two uncles and 
consisted of eight acres. A lot of it was timber and my mother 
and father cleared a lot of it to farm. They raised wheat, corn, 
oats, hay, and cane which was processed into Sorghum. In 
the fall of the year, we children stripped the leaves from the 
cane and my father hauled the stalks to the mill where the 
dehcious molasses was made. Many delicious gingerbread 
and molasses cookies were made in my mother's kitchen. 
Mother made aO her own bread, cakes, pies, cookies, and 
cinnamon rolls. The house where we moved into was a small 
four room one. My mother and father spent much time 
plastering, painting. Mother raised chickens in the spring of 
the year. Father raised hogs, cattle, sheep. Most of the crops 
he raised were fed to the Uvestock. 

This farm sat back off the main road which, of course, at 
that time was aU dirt, with many hiUs and hollows. There was 
a large creek which ran across the farm. This creek is called 
McKee Creek and is large. 

By the time I was big enough to remember, I started to 
school and was a very wiUing pupil as I loved school. My 
older sisters and brothers were out of school when I started. 
So that left my younger sister, Mildred, and I to go to school 
together. We were very close and, no matter what I did, she 
was always there to help me. We had three miles to walk to 
school and come rain, sleet, snow, sunshine, or what have 
you, we were nearly always there. My mother was a beautiful 
seamstress and made all our clothes. She even made my 
father's and brother's overalls and jackets. She did a lot of 
crocheting, too. In the winter time she made us warm 
mittens, caps, scarves and sweaters. We always had the Old 
Sears Roebuck catalog handy, and most of the material for 
her work came fom there. When I was four years old, my older 
sister gave me a crochet needle and a spool of red crochet 
thread, and when ever my mother sat down to crochet I was 
always there to learn. To this day I love to crochet, and I 
know she is there watching me. 

As I said before, our farm was practically cut off from 
the outside world, and it was up to my sister and I to make 
our own fun. We would go hunting in the fall of the year and 
hunt rabbits and squirrels. We had a little black and white 
dog. My older sister taught him to do many tricks. He was 
one of the best squirrel treers. He would go to the timber and 
before we could get there he would have one treed. We would 
stand below the tree and yell to the top of our voices which 
would make the squirrel fall. The dog would grab it and give 
it a couple of shakes and then lay it at our feet, and go on to 
the next tree to tree another one. Many an afternoon we 
would come home with five or six squirrels. The rabbits we 
would run into a hollow log and take a long wire and twist 
them out. Then we would kill them. Many a happy hour was 
spent on the banks of the old creek. Most of our toys were 
hand made. We even made dishes from the clay along the 
creek bank. We would mold the dishes and then bake them in 
the oven until they were hard. I loved to sew so I would make 
little rompers and dress up our cats, which we always had. 
We would train them to drink from a bottle and sleep in a 
Uttle bed my brother made for them. 

On Sundays father would hitch up the team of horses to 
the old surrey and we would go to Camp Point to church. This 
was a one room white church located at the west edge of 
Camp Point. In the afternoon we would go across the timber 
to the neighbor's house to play with their chOdren which were 
about our age. In the summertime we would play house. We 
had several large trees on the farm and under these trees we 
would make our home. We used wooden boxes for our stoves, 
cupboards, and table, and herring kegs for chairs. Of course 
we always had our cats for babies. Our little dog was always 
near, too. 

We went to a little white school house which had one 
teacher and eight grades. Sometimes the teacher would let 
me teach the lower grades which made me very proud. We 
spent many an happy hour at that little old school. In the 
spring of the year we would go on trips in the woods and pick 

wild flowers. We would learn about aU the trees in the woods. 
Some times the old creek would overflow its bank, and would 
flood the bottom land where father had his crops planted. 
Many a time we sat on the hiU and watched the wheat, oats, 
and corn go down the creek. Of course that would be the end 
of the crops for that year. Then father got wise and as soon as 
the grain was cut he would haul it to high ground where the 
water couldn't get to it. 

It was not all fun and play on the farm. We had our 
chores to do which consisted of milking the cows, feeding the 
chickens, bringing in the wood so mother would have enough 
to last her through the night and the next day. The oil lamps 
had to be cleaned and kept full of oil. The chimneys had to 
shine or we would have to do them over. We churned the 
butter in a round wooden churn which we turned by hand. 
Then there was the old wooden wash tubs which mother 
spent most of the day washing on the old wash board with 
soap she made. In the winter time there were the butchering 
days where the hogs were killed and processed and smoked in 
a Smokehouse over hickory logs. Dehcious Hams, Bacon, and 
Sausage were always ready for us. On long winter evenings 
we would set around the httle old wood stove and, with a 
long-handled cornpopper, mother would pop corn. Sometimes 
she would make us pop corn balls. We played dominoes or 
checkers or cards and she would nearly always beat us. Our 
father loved to read and he would read to us, or help us with 
our studies for school. 


Ora Lee Douglas 

I have lived in Hancock and Schuyler counties and I 
have seen many changes. World War I was just over when we 
moved to Schuyler County to the neighborhood known as 

Nubbin Ridge. After three or four years of no rainfall on the 
poor clay soil, we knew the reason for the name. 

The roads left much to be desired. If it did rain, the mud 
was five or six inches deep. One hill was so bad the horses got 
down in the mud. The farmers all worked together to take 
care of their problems. They formed a threshing company, 
bought an old steam engine, tank wagon, separator, and 
clover huller. After all the grain in our neighborhood was 
threshed, they went to neighborhoods that didn't have an 

About this time it became apparent that better 
communications were needed. A Farmers Mutual Telephone 
Company was formed. Since there was already a telephone 
office in Augusta, they could use that switchboard but with 
only one operator on duty at a time, she was badly 
overworked. One family in the middle of the community was 
chosen to have a call bell arrangement, whereby neighbors at 
either end of the Une could caU to be switched to call the 
others without having to go through the telephone office. 
Most of the telephone operators were women, but in an 
emergency, Ellsworth Mathews, the maintenance man would 

The church and school worked together to have 
programs especially at Christmas time. It had to be held in 
the church which was larger as friends and relatives came 
from far and near to hear and see the kids and adults recite, 
sing and give one-act plays. At the end of the program Santa 
would come with gifts and treats for everyone. 

Dessies Bunnell was working in Quincy and brought a 
radio home to her folks. They gave the emergency ring on the 
telphone, held the speaker close to the phone so we could 
enjoy the music, usually from W.L.S. with Lula Belle and 

Camp Bunnell put in a Sorghum miU in 1924. The mill 
was puUed by a team of horses. Two men ground cane until 
noon, then they joined Mr. and Mrs. Bunnell at the 
evaporator and watched it cook until it was done about five 

o'clock that evening. After working hard all day they had 
from sixty to seventy-five gallons of sorghum. The foam 
which formed on top was usually kept to make taffy. People 
from miles around grew cane and brought it to the miU to be 
made into sorghum. 

About once a month the neighbors would get together 
at one of the homes and play games or sing. Bert Boltons had 
a new player piano and all enjoyed singing along with it. Of 
course we had good refreshments, everyone took sandwiches 
or pie and the hostess always had coffee. When the snow was 
deep, Harold Witcher hitched his big team to the bobsled and 
packed it full of straw and people to go to the party. 

It was about 1930 when electricity was brought in, so 
you can see we were a very progressive community, maybe 
not as rapid as the cities, but we worked at it just the same. 


Dorothy B. Berry 

I grew up on the Currier farm, seven miles southeast of 
Neponset, Illinois. With three brothers and two sisters (the 
younger six of a family of twelve) I walked to the one-room 
school house, a mile and three quarters from home. My first 
teacher was a man, Harmon J. Boyd from Bradford. He had a 
dimple in his chin and we thought it was caused by his 
leaning his chin on a pencil as he sat at his desk. 

Neither at school nor at home did we have inside 
plumbing or water system. At home, it was the appointed 
chore for one of us girls to attend to emptying the vessels 
that were, one in each bedroom, used— then the contents 
removed to the outhouse. It was never spoken of nor 
recognized by us kids of one sex that those of the other sex 
had these personal needs. So, if on the premises at home or 
school, a boy saw a girl heading toward the outhouse and he 

was so brazen as to chant, "I know where you're going," he 
was apt to spend fifteen minutes sitting in a corner and not 
speak or be spoken to. This was the punishment meted out by 
teacher or parent. 

The horse-and-buggy rig provided our transportation to 
Sunday School and Church in Osceola, three miles away, and 
for shopping in Kewanee, ten miles to the west. 

One or two of us at a time got to ride with Mama for an 
all-day trip to Kewanee. We either took a sack lunch to eat in 
the lounge at the balcony of Lyman-Lays or we would have a 
bowl of soup in Yordy's Cafe. 

In Lyman-Lays we could buy shoes, groceries, and 
clothing. Then we could leave our parcels in the Parcel Room 
while we shopped in other stores— Bondi's, Szolds or 
Butterwicks. When shopping was completed, we picked up 
our parcels from the Parcel Room and went to our rig which 
had been waiting for us in the back of Lumans. 

One day, brother Dean dared me to climb right behind 
him as far as he went, right up the ladder of the sixty-foot 
windmill. I did! Then I looked down and FROZE. Mama had 
to be called out to talk me down. 

Dad and my brothers milked the several cows by hand, 
then Dad ran the milk through the cream separator that was 
in the house. This was a night and morning chore. One 
Sunday evening my brother and his family came from 
Kewanee just as Dad was running the separator. Dad gave a 
cup of milk to the two little girls and was tickled when he 
heard the older one say: "Grandpa runs it through the 

We churned the cream to make butter— we kids often 
took turns at turning the barrel-shaped chum with its handle. 
The churn was on a frame. When butter formed Mama would 
scoop it out into a big crock for salting; the buttermilk then 
was drained from the churn into a big pitcher. We might be 
rewarded with a glass of buttermilk with a doughnut or 

Mail was brought by the rural carrier, Wilbur Blake, 

using horse and buggy, from Neponset Post Office. Later the 
carrier was William Headley using an automobile. The mail 
was delivered six days of the week, except on holidays. We 
kids were glad to see the mail if it included a parcel of goods 
ordered from Sears Roebuck or Montgomery Ward 

Every Monday was wash day. We had a hand-powered 
machine and again we kids might be called on to push the 
handle that moved the agitator. Always the white clothes 
were also boiled in the copper boiler on the coal range in the 

The clothes and other items, rinsed, would be hung on 
the wire clothesUne that was strung from tree to tree or pole 
to pole, for drying— sometimes, for freezing. What a sight to 
see the long winter underwear frozen and swinging on the 
clothesline! Sooner or later it would be dry. 

Interesting times were when the threshing machinery 
arrived, late in July, and pulled up into a side lot. There the 
bundles of oats from the fields would be put into the machine, 
the steam-power (later, gasohne powered) caused the machine 
to separate the seed from the straw, each came out a separate 
spout— the seed into a waiting wagon, and the straw onto the 
ground. The seed was hauled to the elevator in Neponset and 
eventually shipped by freight cars to the Chicago market. 
The clean, dry straw was used for different purposes— often it 
meant new filling for the straw ticks (mattresses) on the beds. 
It was great fun to pounce and he down on a newly filled tick! 

For hauHng the grain and also the fattened hogs to 
market meant that Dad would need help. He would have his 
hst of helpers handy, neighbors with a team and wagon, and 
would go to the box style telephone that hung on the wall of 
the dining room. He would hft down the receiver (the 
listening device) from its hook on the left side of the box, turn 
the handle on the right side, one ring. He would hear 
"Number, please" from the operator in the telephone office in 
Neponset. Dad would answer: "Central, I need to call several 
numbers to get help for tomorrow." Central would say: "Give 


me your first number; when you have finished talking I '11 be 
ready for your next number." If the numbers were on our 
"line" Dad could ring them himself— two longs and a short 
for one party, three longs for another, etc. It was also possible 
to listen, to "rubber" on another person's talking on our 
hne— learning what was going on with neighbors. 

By 1920, automobiles were replacing the horse-drawn 
rigs, gasoline powered machinery was used on the farm, 
cement roads were facihtating travel. 

Entering high school was the first step toward taking 
the country girl out of the country but it never did take the 
country out of the country girl. 


Francis Harrison 

We had known several long, hard, cold winters in rural 
Brooklyn township. Ma, Pa, Benny and I were preparing for 
the hoUdays and bad weather when it started snowing about 
two weeks before Christmas in '36. 

We had about sixty cords of wood stacked when the 
man with the gasoline powered buzz saw came by. One of the 
neighbors paid the dollar an hour for the use of the saw, so he 
got half of the sawed wood. Benny split around fourteen 
cords into pieces small enough to use in our cook stove. 

When we had finished with the wood Pa decided to send 
us to the slaughterhouse with an old sow. She weighed 
around five hundred and fifty pounds and Pa thought she 
was just too big for us to butcher at home. Benny and I built 
a crate for her, loaded it on the old straight sled and headed 
for Lenhart's Slaughterhouse north of Littleton. It had been 
snowing for about a week at that time so all the roads were 
drifted shut. The only way we had to clean roads was with 

scoop shovels, so everybody just had to give up and wait for 
it to quit snowing and blowing. 

Our old two horse team puUed the sled over the snow. 
We got within three miles of the slaughterhouse, going through 
yards, ditches, wherever the horses could get through. We 
were rounding a corner at the old Kirkham place when the 
sled tipped sideways and the crate sUd off into a snowbank. 
We had a devil of a time getting that big old sow back on the 
sled. Earl Royer and a couple of his boys came out to help us 
but it stUl took an hour or more before we were back on our 

It kept snowing all the time the sow was being 
butchered. The day before Christmas we had to go back after 
our meat. By that time the snow was about as high as our 
ceihng; but off we went with our sled and team. About a 
quarter of a mile from Lenharts the snow was drifted so high 
that the horses couldn't go any farther. Benny and I left the 
sled and set out on foot to get the meat. We carried the 
hanging meat by hand the quarter mile back to the sled. It 
took several trips before we got everything loaded. We got 
the team turned around and struggled towards home. 

We unloaded the sides of pork in the kitchen. It was cold 
enough we didn't have to worry about it thawing out there. 
For the next six weeks the temperature was near about zero 
and it reached twenty below zero every night. We left the 
meat out in the open and just enough of it thawed out by 
suppertime each day that we could carve it off and fry it for 
supper or breakfast the next morning. 

During that storm of '36-'37 everyone was snowbound. 
The cows went dry; the chickens quit laying; so by the time 
we could get to town all the pork was gone, and so was the 
wood. We even used the neighbor's wood. It had never been 
deUvered because of the storm. 

It took six weeks to get the roads cleaned out by hand 
without them drfiting back in again. Then we started cutting 
more wood and storing groceries for the next siege. 



Lydia Kanauss 

When I was five years old in the year of 1899, we lived in 
a large brick house near Bluff Hall Church. My two sisters 
and 1, with neighbor children, walked to Bluff Hall Church. 
The children that went to Sunday School got their meals and 
lemonade free. My parents were preparing to move the next 
day to my father's boyhood home. My mother stayed at home 
baking bread and cake, and getting things ready to move. 

Late that afternoon my father and little sister in the 
spring wagon came to take us home, and to get some of the 
neighbors to help move. That evening he took over a load of 
things to the place we were going to move to where he had 
two cows to milk. He stayed all night there, and came home 
early the next morning, Everybody had farm wagons and 
spring wagons, horses and mules at that time. That was the 
way of transportation at that time. 

My two aunts and baby cousin, my two sisters and I 
with a box of food for dinner were the first to go. On the way 
the neighbor children were at the gates waving goodbye. It 
was only four miles but at that time, it seemed like it was far 

My mother's cousin was waiting at the kitchen door 
with a bucket of yellow apples and to help prepare dinner. 
Soon some of the wagons came with the stove, table and 
chairs. They set up the stove, and put the table Ln place. The 
women got busy baking apple pies, and peeling potatoes, and 
cooking what we had for dinner. I remember we had boiled 
ham, country sausage, potatoes and vegetables, bread, cake, 
pie, also canned fruit, jelly, jam and butter. 

All the other wagons came together with the furniture 
and other things. My brother, mother, and little sister in the 
spring wagon were the last to come. Our shepherd dog, Rapp, 
was tied to the whip socket. My aunts and another lady were 
in the back seat. The lady was holding our little dog. My two 
aunts were each holding a cat. After dinner the women were 

tacking down carpets and getting the bedrooms ready, so we 
had a place to sleep. 

The men went back to bring the cattle and livestock and 
farm machinery. It was a new adventure for me. 

Ruth H. Lingle 

Gone, my friends, is a colorful and sentimentally 
important locale, stolen, or obliterated by two formidable 
conspirators— time and progress. 

I am referring to the vicinity of my childhood. It was a 
httle village nestled in a hollow encompassed by majestically 
high and thickly forested hills. The babbUng brook that 
flowed around the hills to converge with the placid and 
beautiful Illinois River, gave the settlement its name. Bee 

At the time I was growing up there, the population was 
thirty-seven when everyone was at home. 

The store was a gray block building with the words, 
"United States Post Office," on one window and on the other 
window were the words, "T.B. Fisher, General Store." 

In front of the store were two hitchracks. On the cement 
porch were two wooden benches which were worn smooth by 
the congenial fellowship that made the store the social center 
of the neighborhood. 

I would Like to tell you more about the store but I will 
only say in passing, that it had a smell all it's own. It was a 
blend of freshly ground coffee, the big wheel of longhorn 
cheese that was covered with a screen, the bologna and bacon 
hanging from the wall, and the odor of coal oil and vinegar in 
the barrels nearby, that mingled with tobacco, and pipe 

Most anytime there would be men and boys there telling 


yarns, playing checkers, pitching pennies at a crack in the 
floor, or just listening for any juicy bit of gossip they might 

This village was far from illiterate as nearly every 
family subscribed to a St. Louis daily paper. Political 
arguments were frequent and hotly contested, so each read 
his papers diligently so that his opponent could not come up 
with something he had not noticed in the paper. I'm sure 
many national crises could have been averted if Washington 
D.C. had only consulted these knowledgeable patriots. 

I remember one cold morning I waited there to ride to 
Pearl with Mr. Watts; he was the mail carrier and stopped at 
Bee Creek on his route from Kampsville to Pearl. He was a 
pleasant, obliging, and neighborly person that everyone 

Finally we heard the rattle of his rig as the horses 
trotted across the wooden bridge and down to the hitchrack. 
He was warmly clad in a black horse-hide coat that showed 
the wear of many winters. His broad brimmed hat was black, 
and he wore four buckled overshoes. He picked up the poker 
and stirred the fire and directed into it a stream of tobacco 
juice before he closed the stove door. 

He picked up the mail sack and we climbed into the 
buggy. He took up a lot of space and there was a case of eggs 
where I thought my feet ought to go. He soon adjusted 
himself and the eggs, then he pulled a heavy dusty lap robe 
up over us. He shook the reins and clucked to the horses, and 
then we were on our way. The ground was frozen and rough 
with ruts and chuck-holes, and we could see the frost in the 
air from the horses' nostrils as they trotted up the road. 

The first house along the bluff road from the store was 
partly hidden by apple trees. Bob and Ida Moore and their 
son, Rob, lived there. 

Next was a big red barn with a lot of hogs around it. The 
tall white house where Pete Kassinger lived, was just beyond 
it. We turned a corner to pass by the old house where there 

was a frame around the well, and a lilac bush near it. Mr. 
Watts said that was where Matt Newnom used to live. 

The next farm used to be called the "HaU Place," but 
Jeff and Lula Wheeler and their children, Ora and Mamie, 
were living there now. Mr. Watts picked up a letter from their 
mail box, with the money to buy the stamp when he got to the 
post office. 

Down the grade and on the right side of the road was a 
huge moss grown boulder that had fallen from the bluff above 
the road. 

A short distance farther on, we passed the neat new 
home of the Thomas Lumleys. They were relatively 
newcomers so I did not know the names of their small 

"The Otwell Place," was occupied by John and Mina 
Vaughn and their children, Virgil, Earl, and Gladys. The flag 
was up on their box and Mr. Watts stopped and picked up 
some letters. 

Then the road dipped steeply into a narrow creek, 
coming out of it and going up a steep incline. Where the road 
made a turn, there stood Mary Jackson by her mail box. She 
was holding a tin bucket of cream for Mr. Watts to take to 
market for her. She asked him to take the money and bring 
her a spool of white thread and a plug of "Horse Shoe" 
chewing tobacco for her husband. 

Then down the hill and up another one and down and 
around the bend was where Harland and Edna Fisher and 
their children; Jeral, lima, and little Josephine lived. Edna 
heard us coming and ran out to the road to ask Mr. Watts to 
go to the office and tell Dr. Thurmon to send them some more 
cough medicine as the children still had colds and sounded 

From there on, for a short distance, the trees grew so 
close to the road that they almost made a canopy over it in 
the summer time. 

Set back from the road a short distance was the home of 


Charlie and Lizzie Crater, their children were Loren and Irma. 
At the top of the next hill was the home of Henry and Lena 
Crater and their sons; Ed, Dick, and Bill Newnom. Lona was 
waiting with a couple of cases of eggs. Mr. Watts made a 
place for them in the back of the buggy. She handed him her 
hst but she also told him to bring her a roll of cotton battin 
for a quilt, a quarter's worth of sugar and a box of matches. 
His only comment after he drove on, was that he was going to 
have a lot of errands to do when we got to town. 

The next hollow was supposed to be haunted because 
they said that in the early days a man had been hanged there. 
We were now half way to Pearl. 

We followed the curve of the hills and just before going 
down into a steep inchne, we came to a long rust colored 
house where I beUeve a family by the name of Daniels hved. 
Crossing the branch and walking through the sand slowed 
the horses down to a walk but we were about out of the sand 
when we came to the McPherson home. It was a large white 
house with flower bushes in front of it. Mr. Watts picked up 
some letters from their box. 

There were no more houses for a while but when we 
came to the MuUigan spring, Mr. Watts watered the horses 
and handed me a drink in a rusty tin can that was put there 
for that purpose. If it had any germs in it I didn't notice them 
as the water was clear and tasted good. The water flowed 
from a spring through a pipe into a large wooden watering 
trough, that was covered with moss that ghstened as the 
water flowed over it. It had been there for many years and 
run winter and summer. 

There was only a couple more houses along the road but 
I didn't know who lived in them. 

Then we turned down into "Dog Town," a suburb of 
Pearl. From here we could see the towering hill that had 
supported a quarry for years. We could also see the C. & A. 
railroad bridge over the Illinois River. We turned west and 
passed a couple of houses as we came into town, then it was 

up and over the railroad tracks and down the main street of 
Pearl to the post office. 

We had left Bee Creek about nine o'clock and now it was 
after eleven. We had driven five miles. 

Time (50 years) and progress has taken away the store, 
Mr. Watts and his team, the sand branch, the Mulligan 
spring and aO the people but one that I have called by name. 

Now Scenic Route 100 is a ribbon of gray between the 
river and the bluffs. As for me, all that is left is the hills and 
the memories. I love it still; it was home. 


Laurence L. Royer 

When fall of the year came on the home farm, all regular 
farm work took second place to cider making. Since most of 
the apples used were "drops," the busy time was near the 
close of the picking season, usually in October, unless a storm 
with high winds blew a lot of apples down earlier. 

My father started business with a second-hand cider 
mill in which a heavy wooden beam was used to press the 
juice from the ground apples. I don't remember this null since 
he started with it about the time I was born in 1899. My 
earhest recollection was of the new mill; the latest thing, with 
a hydraulic press, complete with enough equipment to grind 
and press at the same time making it a continuous operation. 

The ground apples were folded in coarse woven cloths 
and sacked, with wooden dividers between, until there was 
enough for a pressing. They were then moved over the 
hydraulic piston, the pump was started, and the piston came 
up and pressed out the cider. While they were being pressed 
another batch was made ready. 

The cider ran into a wooden box under the press, large 
enough to hold about one hundred gallons. A large funnel was 

placed in the customer's barrel and the cider dipped into it. 
My father placed clean straw in the funnel to act as a strainer 
and he had a dust pan to dip the last of the cider out of the 

A single bed load of apples (25 bushels) would make a 
barrel of cider and maybe a Little more, and many times 
people would bring a double bed fuU and have enough for two 
barrels. If the apples were mellow they didn't make as much 
cider, but it had a richer taste. We always kept extra jugs so 
if there was more than a man's barrels would hold, there 
would be a place to put the extra cider. There was always 
plenty of cider to drink. 

At the start of the season and again near the close, my 
father operated the mill only certain days of the week but 
during the busy season it ran every day except Sunday. It 
was about twenty rods from the house and boys liked to shp 
in on Sunday's and help themselves to the cider. I think it 
says something about the times that there was never any 
vandahsm and I don't think a jug was ever stolen. 

My father charged a dollar a barrel for making cider and 
some days he made ten or fifteen barrels. Top wages for a 
man at that time was a doUar a day so it was a good business. 

When I was a boy many things came in barrels. Vinegar 
and molasses and many dry items like salt, flour, and sugar. 
Later when paper cartons became popular I asked my father 
why they used barrels for so many things. 

He said "A barrel was the only container that could be 
put together by the pioneers without nails or other hardware. 
They were held together by wooden hoops notched to fasten 
without nails. In a day when everything was moved and 
loaded by hand nothing could equal a barrel for convenience." 

A fifty gallon barrel full of cider weighs close to four 
hundred pounds and I have seen my father, single handed, 
roll a full barrel up a skid and set it on end in a wagon. That 
could be done with no container of any other shape. A man 
could take his barrel of cider home, ease it down the steps into 
the cellar, put in a little "mother" from the old vinegar barrel 

and be all set for next summer's pickles. All farm houses had 
outside cellar ways. 

At that time most small machines were turned with a 
crank. Big machines like saw miUs and threshing rigs used 
steam power. Water was pumped by windmills and hydrauhc 
rams but most light machinery depended on horse power of 
some kind. Cane mills and some grinders were powered by 
horses on a long pole going round and round. 

My father used a treadmill to operate the cider press. 
This was an endless apron mounted on rollers and set in a 
frame at an angle so the horses walked up hiU. It had a brake 
to stop it and a governor to control the speed. It was wide 
enough for two horses so you might call it a two horse-power 
machine. That was about right too, for it lacked power for the 
job and after a few years he brought a second hand gasoUne 
engine, and old tube ignitor without any electric system. It 
must have been new in the 1890's. 

Someone might ask: "Where did all the apples that were 
ground at the mill come from?" Almost every farmstead at 
that time had an orchard. They varied in size from a half 
dozen trees to several acres. Contrary to what you might 
assume from the Johnny Appleseed story, these were mostly 
grafted trees of named varieties. I will describe those with 
which I have had some personal experience, so the Hst is not 

One of the first to ripen and that was its chief claim to 

An early yellow apple, rather flat and good for cooking or 

eating raw. 

An applesauce apple, quite tart. As someone said: "When 

they're hot they're done but they do sour a lot of sugar. 

A large red streaked apple and the biggest that grew in our 



A large faU apple lightly red streaked and nicknamed, 

"Sheep Nose, " because of its' shape. It was a long lived 

tree and the patriarch of many orchards. 

A faU apple still on the market occasionally. They had the 

habit of bearing every other year. Sometimes one branch 

would bear one year and the rest of the tree the next. 

A large yellow apple and a favorite of the older orchards. 

A rather flat shaped apple, rich and juicy, and my 

mother's favorite. 

Not highly regarded generally but a standard apple for 

many years. They made "The best fried apples of any." 

Still on the market and considered one of the best all-round 

apples. My folks chose it for apple butter. 

A greenish colored apple with a little bump next to the 


A yellow apple with a faint tint of red on the sunny side. 

They had a dinstinctive flavor which you like real well or 

not at all. 

A greenish apple with red streaks. The flesh had a yellow 

tinge. They were at their best in midwinter. 

A large red late apple. In my grandfather's orchard they 

grew lopsided as though pressed out of shape when they 

were little. 

They were usually yellow and ripened in early fall. They 

were eating apples and seldom cooked well. We had a red 

sweet apple in our orchard which the folks used for dried 


A real old timer. They were flat in shape and rusty in color, 

hence their name. They were good if you waited until 

spring to eat them. 

A late apple and the one my father liked to bury. 

My father often buried apples. He would dig a shallow 
hole, Hne it with forest leaves or straw, put in the apples and 
cover them with more leaves. This was all covered with about 
four inches of earth. In the spring, when the ground thawed, 
we would dig a hole in the side of the mound and reach in for 
the apples: a special treat at that time of the year. 

Apple butter making started in the evening. The apples 
were peeled with a peeler, quartered and cored to be ready for 
the next day. The forty gallon copper kettle was hung on a 
pole over the fire and when barely warm was scrubbed with 
vinegar and salt to remove the tarnish. The cider and apples 
were put in the kettle and cooked the biggest part of the day 
with constant stirring. This was the real cider apple butter 
and would keep in open jars until the next summer. My father 
liked it but we children didn't so the recipe was later changed 
with sugar and spice added at the proper time. 

The farm orchards are mostly gone now. The trend is 
toward specialization, so we have fruit farms, poultry farms, 
dairy farms, hog farms, etc., all leading to economics in 
production and we see the results in the dazzling display at 
the supermarket. But I feel that we have lost much of the 
independence that gave farm life its special appeal. 

This may be true, or it may be only the morbid musings 
of one who finds the skills that he has learned largely useless 
in a changing world. 


Edith Weinant 

Home killed and home cured pork was an important 
item in the diet of early days. Grandfather killed eight or nine 
hogs each winter to supply his family with meat and lard. The 
general rule for the number of hogs needed to keep the family 
in meat to eat was one hog for each member of the family. 
Hogs that weighed about 400 pounds were the preferred size; 
however, sows or boars which would weigh 700 or 800 pounds 
were also killed for meat. 

One hog was butchered early in the winter, probably in 
November, but the main butchering took place in December 
or early in January. Cold weather was chosen so that the 
parts of the meat that were not "cured" could be used before 
they would spoil. Also if the weather was not cold, the meat 
would spoil before it took the salt— before it became "cured." 

After they were scraped clean, the hogs were hung on a 
supported pole by the hind legs. They were opened by making 
a sht along the center of the belly from the head to the tail. 
Gutting the hog was a particular job; it must be done right so 
that the internal organs— the heart and Over— and the other 
meat would not be polluted by opening the intestines or the 
gall bladder. As each hog was gutted, a tub was set under it 
to catch the entrails. The heart and hver were placed in a dish 
pan, and the fat was stripped off the intestines. One nice Hver 
was taken to the house, and they had fresh liver for dinner. If 
a hver didn't look just right, they threw it away. 

By the time the hogs were all gutted, it was nearly noon; 
so they were left hanging to cool while the men went to the 
house for dinner. A row of eight or nine hogs hanging in this 
manner made quite a picture. 

After dinner the hogs were taken down from the pole 
and cut up. The shoulders, sides, and hams were cut apart 
and trimmed. "Trimming" was cutting off the extra fat. The 
trimmings that had lean in them were put into the sausage; 
those that didn't went into the lard. 

They made a great deal of sausage, cutting up whole 
shoulders especially from old sows whose meat might be 
tough. The tenderloin was also put into the sausage. The 
meat was ground in their own sausage grinder, which of 
course, was cranked by hand. Several large dish pans full 
were made. It was seasoned with salt, black pepper, and 
home grown sage, which was fresh and of full strength. A 
good recipe to follow in seasoning the sausage was one-half 
teaspoon of pepper, one teaspoon salt, and one and one-half 
teaspoon of sage, all level measurements, to each pound of 
meat. After it was seasoned, the sausage might be put away 
in a cold place for a few days until the women could find time 
to fry it down. To "fry it down" it was made into round cakes, 
fried until it was cooked through, and put in a stone jar, 
covered with fresh lard, and stored in a cold place. Thereafter, 
when sausage was on the menu, the desired number of 
sausage cakes were dug out of the lard and merely heated 
before serving. Grandmother's sausage was wonderful, lean, 
perfectly seasoned; the product sold at meat counters now 
and called sausage bears Uttle resemblance to it. 

The lard was rendered in the afternoon of the butchering 
in a large iron kettle outside over an open fire. The lard fat 
was cut into small pieces and heated until most of the grease 
was drawn out. Care must be exercised to not get it too hot or 
the lard would not be snowy white. While still hot, the lard 
was separated from the crackhngs and stored in stone jars or 
six gallon lard cans in a cool place. The average hog would 
yield six to eight gallons of lard; a large sow eighteen to 
twenty gallons. Large quantities of lard were used for frying, 
making pies, and in home-made hght-bread and other 
breads— corn bread and biscuits. Sometimes they sold lard to 
the stores in town. The crackhngs were saved for soap 

One of the best treats of butchering time was the 
backbones. The present-day meat cutter leaves the backbone 
on the pork chops or the pork loin roasts. At Grandmother's 
the back bone was cut out by itself with a generous amount of 

meat left on it. It was cut into chunks and boiled with 
potatoes or other vegetables. Grandmother often cooked 
them with turnips. They were dehcious. 

Ribs were also highly prized. A generous amount of 
meat was left on the ribs also, and they were fried. 

The liver, heart, backbones, and ribs were used fresh 
without curing. Since the family could not use so much fresh 
meat before it might spoil, they shared it with their 
neighbors. The neighbors were sure to appreciate a mess of 
backbones or ribs. The pigs' feet were pickled and stored in 
stone jars. The ears, the heart, and some of the Uver were 
made into head cheese, sometimes called souse. The head was 
boiled, the meat removed from the bones, ground and made 
into mincemeat. 

The ingredients used in the mincemeat were chopped 
apples, raisins, currants, the ground meat, spices, and 
vinegar. Sometimes gooseberries were put into the 
mincemeat, then the vinegar was not used. The mincemeat 
also was stored in stone jars or canned in glass Mason jars. 

The hams, shoulders, and sides were cured, and if 
properly cared for would keep for months. To cure them, they 
were salted heavily and kept in a cold place for about two 
weeks to take the salt. To sugar cure the meat, brown sugar 
was mixed with the salt. After it had taken the salt it was 
hung up in the smokehouse and smoked by burning hickory 
or sassafras wood in an iron kettle under it. Smoking the 
meat improved the flavor. Smoked, sugar cured country ham 
was everything that has been said for it. These smoked hams, 
shoulders, and sides were left hanging until used. When 
spring came. Grandmother made a paste with red pepper and 
brushed it over the meat. This kept the "blow" flies from it. 
The pepper was washed or trimmed off before the meat was 

Soap Making 

Grandmother, as all farm women of her day, made her 

own laundry soap. It was made from the crackhngs of lard 
rendering, from surplus meat fryings, and from left-over lard 
which had become too rancid to use for cooking. 
Grandmother didn't even buy the lye to make the soap; it was 
made from wood ashes. A large ash hopper stood near the 
back yard fence. This hopper resembled the corner of a 
building resting on its corner. Looking at it from either end, it 
was V-shaped with a wooden trough under it. The ashes from 
the stoves were put into this hopper, when soap making time 
drew near, the first new moon in March, they started pouring 
water on the ashes. As the water seeped down through the 
ashes it dissolved the lye in them, so that when it was caught 
in the trough that emptied into a wooden bucket, it was a 
strong solution of lye. This lye solution was boiled with the 
crackhngs or grease in the large iron kettle out of doors. The 
soap made in this manner was of a jelly-like consistency and 
was called soft-soap. It was stored in barrels in the 


Minnie J. Bryan 

The moon is in its right phase. The weather is perfect so 
yesterday was a busy day. The barn yard was put in order for 
the yearly butchering of the family pork supply. Four choice 
fat shoats were removed from the feed lot to a clean well 
starved pen where they would be held without food and water 
till slaughtered. Stacks of hickory wood split and baskets of 
corncobs were conveniently placed. Huge iron kettles were 
scoured till they shone. One had iron legs on which it was to 
rest— others were hung by chain through their bails, 
suspended from another chain stretched between two poles 
set in the ground before the ground was frozen. These kettles 
will be used on the morrow to heat gallons of water and later 
to render lard, cook head and other bones for making 


scrapple. From the shed's attic came long, thick heavy foot 
wide boards to make a scalding table on the low wheeled 
wagons. The scalding barrel had been soaking in the watering 
tank for over a week and is ready to use and is rolled into 
place at the end of the scalding table. The butcher knives are 
given razor sharp edges. The neighbor men would bring their 
own favorite knife when they came to help. The rifle was 
cleaned and placed on the back porch by the door with a new 
box of shells. 

Mother has been making "in the house" preparations, 
baking bread, getting the lard press and large lard jars 
recleaned, with every large crock, pan, bucket and tub put in 
readiness. Some fat hens lost their lives for who would want 
only fresh pork for a "Butcher Mans" dinner. By ten o'clock 
some of the neighbor ladies and young children would be 
joining the group. 

My family arose very early for besides the usual farm 
chores— gallons of water must be pumped and carried to the 
huge black iron kettles. Fires must be kindled under them 
and kept fed so they might light the surroundings with 
blazing glory. Someone must watch and keep the fires 
burning for the water must be scalding when the help arrived. 
The most accurate marksman would be handed the loaded 
rifle. One hog at a time was driven from the pen. The first 
bullet would generaUy fall the shoat, then its throat would be 
slashed to allow free bleeding. When all signs of hfe were 
gone, grab hooks were placed in tendons of hind legs above 
and Ufted into place and the pig raised and lowered in the 
scalding water which had been carried from the kettle to the 
scalding barrel. Some wood ashes were added to the hot water 
to aid in the slipping of the hair. Tests were frequently made 
to know just when to stop scalding and start scraping the 
carcass. Fires must be kept going and kettles refilled for the 
next slaughter. Soon aU hair was gone from the snout to tail. 
A single tree was placed in the tendons and ropes through the 
pulley were pulled by strong arms and the carcass would be 
hung head down between the set of poles. First off came the 

head. One man would start removing the tongue and brains 
by sawing the head into pieces. Others would be carefully 
opening the body cavity with one long shce. The insides were 
pulled into the waiting tub below. From these the heart and 
hver were removed to a bucket and covered with cold water. 
The bladder went into a separate small container. All fat was 
removed from the intestines. The tub was then carried 
farther away where the smaU intestines were separated from 
the large one, the small ones emptied of their contents and 
rinsed, placed in a bucket of warm water and carried to the 
house to be further cleaned. This was the ladies job. With 
case knife in hand and a scraping board on their laps, they 
worked to clean the intestines. The pets were confined so 
meat wouldn't be sampled. Although they were fuO of scraps 
tossed to them already, the dogs and cats waited to snatch 
some more. 

The afternoon brought further trimming and shaping of 
pieces, lard cutting, and rendering. The fat was cut in 
uniform cubes, then placed in an iron kettle to cook. Here skill 
was needed. The long wooden ladle kept stirring contents till 
the bhsters on each piece were ripe— just right— for if too 
done the lard would be brown and, if not done enough, the 
lard would spoil before the next year. At just the right time, 
the fire would be raked from under the hot kettle. The liquid 
was removed, the fat cubes pressed, all strained through 
cloth and carried to the cellar in buckets and slowly poured 
into the large lard jars for fear of cracking them. Many would 
sample the cracklings as they came from the press. 

Some of the men were grinding the salt and peppered 
trimmings into sausage, taking turns on the handle of the 
grinder. The ground pork would get further mixing in the tub 
for even distributing of meat and seasonings before the 
stuffing of casings began. The lard press was brought inside, 
plates exchanged, stuff er spout inserted, casings placed on 
spout, then handle turned and meat pressed into casings. 
Some of the sausage sap extended on outside, the casings 
were turned inside out on a special stick and then scraped 

again. They would finish a shiny clear white, to be placed in 
cold salt water awaiting the sausage press special spout. How 
1 loved to watch the sausage stuffing process! To all of us 
children not yet in school— or who could beg to stay 
home— this was a "Great Day." 

When all the animals had met their fate and hung 
shining from the scaffold— it was time to get each into 
pieces— hams, shoulders, ribs, backbones, tenderloins— etc. 
Each piece was carried to the smoke house and placed on 
cleaned boards to await more cooling and trimming. Small 
trimmings went into separate containers to be cut into lard or 
ground into sausage. The head and other bones were placed in 
one of the iron kettles, covered with water to be cooked over 
open fire, then cooled, meat picked from bones and returned 
to broth in the kettle, seasoned, and when boiling again, 
cornmeal was slowly added and the mixture became scrapple, 
which would make many a later breakfast, fried and served 
with syrup. Everyone kept busy and waited the call to dinner. 

My dad would remove the fat from the bladders, clean 
and scrape them, drain the rinse water from them, insert a 
goose quill in the bladder neck and blow air into the bladder 
filling it as a balloon. Securely tied shut and hung to dry in a 
warm place, we children had play balls. 

Neighbors carried home fresh meat, generally back 
bones or spare ribs and hver and sausage to enjoy till their 
butchering day. They also took a crock of scrapple. 

Enough was left of cake, pie and other goodies for 
family supper and next day meals. Mother would be busy 
frying sausage and hand sliced bacon in a large pan that just 
fit oven and iron skillets would cover top of cookstove, 
preparing this meat to store in jars for summer months. 
Father would be putting the salt mixture on some of the 
sides, the hams, and shoulder. Sometimes these were placed 
in a large barrel of brine for weeks— then hung to drain. 
Either way they were always hung in the smoke house from 
the rafters and given a good old hickory smoking, then 
carefully wrapped in brown paper, placed in a cloth sack and 

hung in the oats bin or buried in the oats until consumed. 

During the depression of the 1930's, our feed lots were 
full of fattened hogs— the demand or market for them nil. My 
husband and I would dress a hog, and prepare the meat to be 
retailed at the local grocery. We would clear $1.10 to $1.25 
per head for our labor. These were long days, with greasy 
presses and utensils to wash each time, and the meat to 
deliver. Thus "Butchering Day" lost all its fun for us. 


Arthur E. Bowles 

In the early days of the 1920's there were a great 
number of horses in Quincy. The big transfer company's had 
25 to 30 head each and there were smaller transfer companies, 
too. Most of the grocery stores had a horse for delivery. Also, 
some famihes had a driving horse for pleasure. And a few had 
cows, too. So hay, corn and oats had to come from the farms 
around Quincy. 

My dad farmed a lot of land and raised a great deal of 
hay. He had two hay barns at home, a big barn on my 
grandmother's farm, and an extra large one on the Bredweg 
place. It was a hay barn, used only for storing hay. The hay 
was clover and timothy mixed. (Alfalfa was unknown in those 
days.) He would mow the hay one afternoon and, if the 
weather was hot, it was ready to be stored the next day as 
soon as the dew was off. We had a hay loader that was pulled 
behind the rack wagon. It straddled the windrows, and raked 
the hay, and elevated it onto the wagon. Then it was driven to 
the barn that had a track across in the top with a carrier and a 
harpoon fork. It was my job to ride the horse that pulled the 
load of hay on the fork up into the barn. The horse was 
hitched to the hay fork rope. I think I was so small, I had to 
be hfted to the horse's back. When the man would get the hay 

fork set in the hay on the wagon and holler "go ahead"' the 
horse would start pulUng. Then when it was in the barn about 
where the man in the loft wanted it, he would holler "dump 
it." The man on the wagon would jerk a trip rope, the hay 
would drop off the fork into the loft, and the horse I was on 
would stop when he heard the man call, "dump it", turn 
around and walk back to the starting point for the next load. 
It took about five hfts to unload one wagon. My legs hurt so 
from riding the horse all day that I would cry, but I had to 
stay right on the job, and only 5 years old. 

Then that winter all that hay was hauled to Quincy to 
feed the city horses. When I got a few years older, Dad would 
take me with him early of a morning to load the wagon with 
the hay. He would get in the barn and fork the hay out to me 
on the wagon. Then when it was loaded I would walk across 
the fields to school. I got there about ten o'clock. One 
morning he told me to put on a big load. I was a little peeved 
at him for keeping me from school so much so I thought: "I'll 
fix him." I knew he was going to the bottom road so I made 
the load wide and high and tramped it down. But as it was 
Saturday, I was going with him. We got the binding pole on 
top and the load bound down and took out. He got to the rail 
road viaduct on Front and Cedar and I dropped off. He drove 
right on without thinking. Got in about a third of the way and 
couldn't go any further. Then he was mad! Mr. Chandler 
came by and put his team on the end of the wagon-tongue and 
the four horses pulled it through! 

We took it to the city market on 9th and Hampshire. 
The city garage and the fire station weren't there then, so the 
half block square was the market. The loads of hay, corn and 
oats were all brought there. The buyers would come by and 
pick out the load that looked the best to them and if the price 
suited them would buy it. Then the load was taken to their 
stable and unloaded, and paid for then. There was a scale 
house at the market where you weighed the load before 
delivering it. There was lots of rivalry between the hay 
haulers about who could put on the best load. The better built 

loads were the ones that would sell first. They were built 
high, wide and neat, and the four corners square. 

Sometimes in the early fall there would be loads of 
potatoes, apples and turnips at the market. I saw a boy with a 
load of potatoes there. A man offered him 85 cents per bushel 
for them but the boy said: "Nope. Dad told me to get six bits 
a bushel or bring them back home." The man told the boy to 
go to the river and wash them and he would give him six bits 
and the boy did. 

When the feed market was a little slow some of the loads 
wouldn't sell that day, so the farmers would put the teams in 
a livery stable. Across Hampshire Street from the market 
was a farmer's hotel and restaurant and farmers would stay 
there for the night, and seO the next day. 

One time in winter I took a load of hay to Quincy. North 
12th had just been paved then. There was snow on the 
ground but it melted the day before and water had run out on 
the pavement and froze in places that night. I made it O.K. 
till I got to the Cedar Creek hill and about to where Seminary 
Road is now and both horses fell down on the slick place. A 
man came by and helped me block the wheels and get the 
horses up and unhitched. I took them back, to Freeses Coal 
Yard and had to let the load set in the street till about noon 
before it thawed enough to let the horses stand up and pull 
the load. I was afraid I would get arrested for blocking '2 of 
the street but Mr. Mulch came by and said don't worry at all, 
for the law can't do a thing with you. I had to do hauhng in 
those days when it was sure cold. Sometimes I would buckle 
the ends of the lines together and put them around my waist 
and walk at the side of the load to keep warm. I froze my toes 
and fingers every winter and those steel wagon tires would 
screech on the snow on a cold day. We would have the team 
sharp shod for the winter hauhng. 

When I hauled hay to Quincy, I had a time trying to 
figure how much to charge from the weight on the scale 
ticket. Frank Pfeiffer showed me how. He had a grocery store 
where I always stopped on the way home for a candy bar or a 

bottle of soda. The weight of the hay times the price per ton 
and divide by half. It would come out just right each time. 
The price of the hay was around twelve to sixteen doDars per 
ton. There was a question after the hay was cut in the field on 
knowing when it was cured enough to be stored for, if there 
was too much moisture or sap in it when put in the loft, it 
would heat and sometimes get afire. It was good-bye barn 
then. A few years later when alfalfa was raised it was worse 
than the clover on getting hot in the hay mow. 

A cattle buyer came by our farm and bought a few cattle 
from my dad and more around the country in Ursa, Riverside, 
and Elhngton townships. He hired several of us boys that 
had a horse to go to each place and get the cattle he bought. 
When the riders had gathered the cattle, they met with the 
cattle at Spring Lake Corners. We had quite a drive. We took 
them in 12th Street. Ever so often one would bolt (with a httle) 
urging from us boys so we could show off our horsemanship 
and cowboy tactics), right up into people's yards and 
sometimes around their houses. If there were any girls in 
sight, we would give a war whoop to add a httle color to our 
fancy riding. I think some of the younger cattle got into the 
spirit of the thing with us. When we got to Spring Street we 
went west toward the stock yards. When we went by 
Blessing Hospital, there were lots of people waving and 
looking out the windows. The street was paved with brick so 
the cattle and horses' feet on the pavement and the cows' 
bawUng made a lot of noise. We got them into the stock yards 
and never lost a head to rustlers or Indians. When I go to 
12th Street now and, when in Blessing Hospital last summer, 
it seems like a dream. Could I have been part of that? I expect 
that was the last herd of cattle that were ever driven through 
the streets of Quincy. 

If the younger farmers of today had to go back and 
shuck all that corn and scoop it out into the crib and all the 
other work that first took muscle and backbone, there would 
be no farming done today. 


Paul Sloan 

I was born in West Central lUinois in one of the smallest 
counties in the state. My dad purchased one of the first 
tractors in our community. I detested farm hfe but welcomed 
the new motor driven tractor. A horse-drawn plow consisted 
of two 12-inch moldboard plows drawn by four horses. The 
tractor pulled the same 24-inch plows without the loss of time 
when we had to "blow the horses," aDowing them to get their 
second wind. 

Harvest time was a memorable time. A mechanical 
vehicle, drawn by four horses, harvested the small grain; 
wheat and oats. The "binder," as it was caOed, cut the 
ripened grain. It was elevated a certain amount by weight 
accvunulated, a mechanical device compressed the grain stalks 
into a bundle which was tied by another mechanical device 
with binder twine, then kicked it out onto a bundle carrier. 
After a sufficient number of bundles accumulated on the 
bundle platform the operator of the binder pressed a foot 
lever, dumping the neatly tied grain bundles on the field. 

A so-called "shocker," a man, followed, and stacked the 
bundles into "shocks". All grain bundles were uniform. The 
grain heads were uppermost. The bundles of grain were 
securely jammed, butt side down, in a circle, with the grain 
heads at the top. A "cap" which was an open bundle of grain, 
was spread out and placed atop the shock to divert rain and 
moisture from the upright grain bundles. Threshing time was 
a combination of hohday and culmination of harvest time, 
looked forward to by aU the household. 

The steam-driven engine drew the separator, placing it 
in position with the wind blowing from the front to the rear of 
the separator. The bundles of ripened grain were thrown into 
the throat of the apparatus from horse-drawn hay racks, then 
through the bowels of the contraption, the grain being beaten 
from the grain stalks, separated from the straw and elevated 
mechanically to a bin atop the machine which measured and 

automaticany dumped about five bushels into a metal funnel 
and on into grain-tight horse-drawn wagons. The separated 
straw was stacked by a huge steel receptacle which rotated to 
evenly distribute the straw. 

How lonesome after the threshing crew departed. 
Known as a threshing ring, neighbors gathered at the various 
farm homes to assist with harvesting operations. 

Another event was corn harvesting time in the fall and 
early winter. There were horse-drawn wagons, one for each 
husker and corn picker. Each participant was equipped with a 
husking key, a metal semisharp instrument attached to a 
leather strap which was attached to the palm of the hand; or a 
hook, a similar device, except that it strapped to the entire 

To operate the husker or shucker grasped the ear of 
corn, held it firmly with one hand; the other encased with a 
husking key or palm hook, stripped the husk from the ear of 
corn. The ear was then tossed into the awaiting wagon. A so- 
called "bumpboard" was placed higher than the wagon to 
guard against throwing the com over the wagon. 

Each fall, itinerant corn buskers came to farm homes to 
shuck corn. Payment varied somewhat with current prices an 
average of 5<t per bushel. Good shuckers would average from 
100 to nearly 150 bushels per day. Sunrise to sundown, 
personally, I shucked 100 bushels in one day, including 
scooping the ears of corn into an aerating bin. 

One morning my dad had me take a mare to the 
neighboring farm to get her "serviced." When I arrived at my 
destined farm the owner led his staUion stud horse to my 
mare to get acquainted. Although I knew from farm Ufe all 
about the birds and bees, I was shocked and disgusted as I 
watched the mating procedure. I had been reared by a 
reUgious mother and such things were taboo. The sudden 
animal passion depressed me, although I had always 
witnessed the sexual activities of farm animals as a necessary 
evil. The birth of animals was a routine matter. UsuaUy, each 
spring advertisements appeared in the local newspaper of 

staUions or studs standing the season. The usual fee for such 
services was $10 to $15 with a written guarantee the foal 
would stand and suck. 


Wilmer V. DeWitt 

When I was a young man about twenty years old, I 
helped several years in picking corn, or "shucking" corn. I 
would arise very early in the morning, feed the team of draft 
horses, harness them, return to the house for breakfast, then 
hitch the team to a wagon, drive to the field— all before sun- 
up. The field might be frozen or mud axle deep, as long as it 
wasn't raining. 

Lining the team astraddle a row of corn that had already 
been shucked, I would pick or shuck two rows of corn at a 
time, using a shucking hook on my right hand over my glove 
as I was right-handed. A left-handed person would wear it on 
the left hand. It was necessary to wear gloves on both hands 
as usually it would be very frosty, would freeze the gloves 
and crack the hands, causing lots of discomfort. The 
shucking hook was a tool with a sharp steel hook fastened 
hke a bracelet around the wrist. 

If no corn had been shucked in the field, then it would be 
necessary to straddle the first two rows of corn, and those 
would be picked later. I would wrap the lines around a rod on 
the wagon, then call "Get up" to the horses, and the well- 
behaved team would respond by going a few feet forward 
until I would call "whoa." This procedure continued all 
morning, with the horses eating from the stalks as they 
waited for their commands, with two rows at a time, shucking 
back and forth through the field untU the wagon became 

Driving the loaded wagon to the crib, I would let the 
scoop board at the back of the wagon down, then with an old 

fashioned heavy iron scoop (no aluminum scoops those days), 
would unload the corn into the crib for storage to be used for 
the winter to feed the livestock. 

It was usually lunch time after one load was unloaded. I 
would water the horses, eat my own lunch, then return to the 
field and continue picking, repeating the same process, 
getting another load. Two loads a day were the average, 
averaging 80-100 bushels a day. In those days, corn averaged 
about 56 bushels to the acre and fields ranged from ten to 
forty acres. Corn picking would continue sometimes for 
several weeks— not just several days. 

FoOowing the last load each day, the team would be 
unhitched, unharnessed, fed, and bedded down for the night. 
All this ended a day of picking com in the days gone by. 


J. Dwight Croxton 

Being born on a farm December 13, 1892, I have seen 
about as much change as anyone. We broke our ground with 
two horses and a twelve foot walking plow, working it down 
with a home made drag. When it came time to plant com, it 
was a man and boys' job, there being a small wooden seat 
between the boxes where I sat, and when a white piece of 
mushn, which was tacked to the rim of the wheel would come 
around even with the frame, I would pull a lever, dropping the 
hill of corn in the ground. Of course when the check wire came 
along, I lost my job, except when planting across the ends. 

When it came time to cultivate, it was the hand hoes and 
double shovel, me on horse and Dad mnning the double 
shovel, requiring a complete round to cultivate one row. Then 
came what they called the muley cultivator, which was two 
double shovels fastened together in front with a large iron 
arch, with two wheels but no tongue, using two horses and 
cultivating one row each time through the field. Trouble was, it 

would not only lay down with you at the end of the field but 
would just about roU over. 

Then came the one row cultivator with tongue. Soon 
after, there came riding one, which we thought was the last 

When it came time to harvest our crops, it was the 
shucking peg and corn knife, most of it being shucked but 
part being cut and put in shocks, to be fed to livestock in 
winter. Our small grain was harvested with a three horse 6' 
binder, bundles put in shocks, with one spread out, forming 
the cap, to wait about two weeks, getting in condition to be 

My first thrill of seeing a steam engine was seeing it 
being pulled up our lane with six horses. It was known as 
bottle or upright engine, belonging to a Mr. Lem Wilson, who 
soon traded it for one self propelled. The separator had a 
platform where the men who fed the machine stood with a 
boy on each side of him to cut the bands. The wind stacker 
was still a long ways off, there being an endless apron just 
piling straw on the ground. We had a long hay rope with a 
pony and boy on each end who would ride in ever so often, 
dragging the straw out. 

There were no automatic weighers, the grain being 
angered into a box on the ground, containing two half bushel 
measures. When one would get full, one man would strike it 
off with a stick, slipping it by a little lever which tallied the 
number of bushels threshed. It was put into 2'/2 bushels 
Bemis sacks, as very few farmers had wheat-tight wagons. If 
you wanted to show your muscle, there was the place to do it, 
handling those 2'/2 bushel sacks. 

I remember Dad and I getting up way before daybreak, 
harnessing our team. Dad on one, me on the other, riding to 
Augusta, bringing out our first new wagon, it being made 
right there m Augusta by Herleman's. I can still see the 
honest sweat mn off BLU Herleman's face and bare arms 
while running the forge and making the iron parts. I think the 
price Dad paid was $58, spring seat and all. 

When it came time to go to high school, my folks 
thought what is now called Western University at Macomb 
the best place, as my oldest sister had gone there the first 
year it opened. I suppose there were about 20 from these 
parts who boarded the train at Augusta. At that time there 
was only the main building, power house and grandstand. 
Grote Hall was just being started. 

I worked at about every job you can think of, from baby 
sitting, beating rugs, milking Professor Drake's cow and 
taking her to and from West Jackson Street with bricks. 
Finally, a schoobnate, Harlow Wayne, and I got the job of 
taking care of the Macomb club rooms. That meant being 
there every morning at 5 o'clock to clean up and then at night 
setting up pins, as the bowUng puis had to be set up by hand. 

One of the big events of the day was when the President 
let out school so we could see the Cross Country Automobile 
Race, as they were to come right through town, there being 
around 20 cars, going about 20 miles per hour. I don't beUeve 
a single car in the race is in production today. Believe it or 
not, there were only about a dozen cars in Macomb then, 
including a Mitchell, Winston, National, Stutz Bearcat, 
Western, Apperson Jack Rabbit, Ford, and a Hupmobile. 

After graduation on June 13, 1913, I spent about a year 
in different states: Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Minnesota, South 
Dakota, and Iowa, seUing vacuum cleaners, which was 
educational as well as profitable. I made enough to let me 
come home, marry the little girl I once asked to ride home 
with me from church. 

♦Professor John Drake, taught Physical Science at 
Western Illinois Normal School, Macomb. Left in 1913 to 
take a position at Emporia, Virginia. The barn in which 
young Croxton worked burned shortly thereafter, in what 
was considered one of Macomb's most spectacular early fires. 
Professor Drake lived on Normal Street in Macomb. His 
home still stands. 


Inez Koehler 

We rented our farm from my Grandfather White of 
Augusta, Illinois. Threshing wheat and oats was a big day at 
our house. First the wheat was cut with a binder drawn by 
horses and made into bundles and then shocked with about 
six or eight bundles in a shock. Two or three weeks later, the 
oats were cut and we shocked them, too. 

When Dad was about finished cutting a field, we kids 
would go out and see if we could kill a rabbit or two that had been 
hiding in the field. Usually we took our dog Jimmy with us. 
He was about as excited as we were. They were nice tender 
rabbits and Mom would fry them for us and make good 

After the shocked grain stood in the field a few weeks to 
dry out, the threshing ring would say its about time we got 
busy and started threshing. They would start at one end of 
the neighborhood or with whoever had grain dry first and 
then proceed along the way. We kids just loved for the big 
steam engine and the separator to come to our house. 
Sometimes the threshermen would stay all night so they 
could fire up the engine the next morning. The engine had a 
whistle which they would blow. It burned coal and you could 
see and smell the smoke. 

The neighbor men helped and they would drive their 
horses and hay racks over to our farm. Some of the men 
pitched bundles on the racks. Sometimes the horses would be 
scared of the whistle or the engine and run off. What 
excitement then! 

Grandfather and Grandmother White would drive six 
miles to our house first in the buggy and later in their big 
Studebaker (which wouldn't always start). Grandpa and 
Grandma Musich (my Mom's parents) would come too. They 
only hved one mile from us. Sometimes Grandma and Aunt 
Mabel would drive "Old Molly" over to the buggy. I loved for 
Aunt Mabel to come— she was my aunt but was only 6 years 

older than me. My Aunt Alice White and Aunt Cecil Musich 
would come too. My mother would be so busy getting 
chickens ready to fry, making pies, digging new potatoes, 
picking green beans, baking a dozen loaves of bread, 
churning butter and many other things. We didn't have a 
refrigerator in those days so things couldn't be prepared until 
the very day we threshed. Sometimes it would rain and the 
men went home and that was something, as so much food 
would spoil if it wasn't used that day. 

Later, when I was older, I was the "water girl". I had to 
haul jugs of water in the buggy to the men in the field. They 
really enjoyed the water as it was so hot in July and August. 
Sometimes we had to fix lunch for the men to eat in the 
morning and again in the afternoon. 

When the men came in for dinner, we would have the 
wash pans, soap and towels outside in the yard for them to 
wash up before they came in to eat. Sometimes the men 
would get in a "water fight." They would have so much fun. 
Sometimes they would just have "fights" to see who was the 
best man. 

It was a Uvely crowd and we looked forward to 
threshing time every summer. Some would move away 
during the year and there would be a few new faces. 

My dad usually had the best wheat crop. He was real 
proud of that and always stacked the straw. He could really 
make a good straw stack and the cattle liked that in the 

I know we all miss the good times we had during those 
years when the neighbors got together and helped each other. 
After a while the men started buying combines and it was the 
beginning of another era. 


Eleanor Dodds 

My father bought the small farm of twelve and a half 

acres at the north edge of Rushville in 1919— or was it '18? 
My first introduction was on a Sunday afternoon when the 
fanuly visited the place. Whether to confirm that it was the 
proper future family home for us, or to rejoice in its purchase, 
I'm not sure. That orchard, as a separate yet integral part of 
the farm, was all we'd dreamed about and more. There were 
ten to a dozen kinds of apples planted in rows rather far 
apart. Some trees had likely died. We presume the orchard 
had been there for forty years before our coming. It had been 
planted by Mr. Spangler, we were told; a far-seeing man, 
certainly. The apples spanned the season from early summer 
apples to winter keepers. Most of the varieties would now be 
in the hard-to-find category. 

We loved the Sheepnose, of which there were several 
trees. They were also called strawberry apple and had a 
wonderful odor. They were pink with a well defined stripe 
which was a creamy, flesh color. We believe this was a parent 
of the now popular Red Dehcious. 

Expect you've heard of Wealthies. They were a striped 
summer apple, good in many ways. Then there were Sweet 
Apples, true to their name. I didn't care for them very much 
and have never seen any since. 

I believe my favorite was a Snow Apple tree which grew 
outside the orchard in a field corner. The fruit was dark red 
striped with shghtly pink flesh when fully ripe, but very 
white before that. 

Two Jonathan apple trees next to the cornfield fence 
bore heavily and supplied us with lots of apples to use, give 
away, and perhaps sell. One year we made a big kettle of 
apple butter. I went to sleep before it was canned. I believe it 
made over fifty quarts. 

There were others. Some bore well; other tree's products 
were not, or hardly fit to use. We didn't spray them; hardly 
anyone did nearly sixty years ago. 

One year I remember the circus was in town and, of 
course, we children wanted to go. We were short of money, 
not too unusual, so my father made a deal with the 


management. He traded a barrel of apples for tickets for all of 
us. We surely enjoyed the treat of the entertainment, our first 
circus. I'm rather sure, and apples were surplus anyway. 

We nearly always had a cow that pastured in the 
orchard and chdckens roamed there, too. The trees were fine 
for climbing, such different shapes— "something for 
everyone". At Easter-time we spent a joyful afternoon 
hunting colored eggs in nests in the long grass. Strangely, I 
don't remember any tree houses. There was a cave though 
which was a hideout for many games and children. "Open 
Sesame" was one of our favorite expressions, so Ah Babi and 
the Forty Thieves must have been the source of our 
inspiration at playtime. The orchard was a wonderful place 
for games with the neighbor children. "Hide and Seek" was a 
favorite or various kinds of tag. Sometimes we took doDs and 
their equipment to play house there. 

There were also clumps of asparagus in the orchard. 
Gathering this on an early May morning, one got very 
wet— also tired as it took a lot of walking. However, it could 
be sold at the Denny house, now the big white apartment 
house across from the Rushville library. Every extra quarter 
came in handy for school supplies or for Sunday School 

At least one year, or perhaps more, we made cider from 
surplus apples. More than one kind is supposed to make the 
best cider and we had them! Beheve I hadn't mentioned 
Minkler, a winter apple, or Russet, which didn't amount to 
much. Another summer apple was Maiden Blush, which had 
lots of pectin for jelly. 

In the middle of the orchard was a cluster of persimmon 
trees. It took the fruit so long to get ripe; after a heavy frost. 
I canned some persimmon butter once, but doubt it was ever 
eaten. There was a barberry bush close to the persimmon 
trees. The bush was considered poisonous to wheat, so 
someone in authority came and cut it down. I presume the 
birds had dropped the seed there long before. 

Another use we put the orchard to was a pet cemetary. 

We always had a dog and usually a number of pets. They 
found us or we found them! Inevitably, some died of old age 
or other affliction and we always had a funeral. Perhaps we 
were sacrilegious, but we sang and prayed with much feeling, 
I'm sure, as we loved our pets. They aU had names; long ones 
often. My brother could reel off all 23 names of his favorite 
cat, but I could only remember two or three. 

Once, some children from "the other side of the tracks" 
came and picked up some apples, filled their shirts and ran. 
Willard saw them and ran after them, getting the apples 
back. I "felt badly about it for we would have been glad to give 
them some if they'd asked. We had more than we could use. 

We lived on this place until I was in college, 1935 in fact. 
A few years before, the apple trees had started to die, and my 
brother cut them down for fuel. They didn't make a very hot 
fire, but helped. Sad ending, but still enjoyed after years of 

Many changes have come to this farm in the forty-five 
years since we left it. A veterinarian's laboratory and factory 
are where the orchard was. Mr. Spangler is probably 
forgotten or never known except I'll always be grateful to 
him for some of my happy childhood memories. 


Burdette Graham 

I am writing about what I remember about happenings 
on the country road four and one-half miles southwest of 

The earUest thing I remember on this road was the old 
horse-drawn road grader, which the neighbors operated 
together, and which excused them from paying a road tax 
called the poll-tax. This grader seemed as big as a two story 
house to me as I stood in the front yard and watched it being 


used. It was painted green and one man rode up front to drive 
the teams pulling it, and another rode up high and behind and 
controlled the blade which cut and moved the earth from the 
ditches along the road. After grading I remember running on 
the nice smooth surface along the ditches. 

Across the road from our house and garden was a scale 
house and pen used by neighbors to weigh stock or loads of 
grain. The old Keach farm was on both sides of the road and 
they built and used the scale but made it available for 
neighbors who often drove hogs or cattle to market. 

About one fourth mile east down this road was the 
biggest patch of wild strawberries I have ever seen, and just 
a little east of the berry patch was a fence Une marker buried 
just below the surface in the road. Usually it was protruding 
a httle— this round large rock— and graders would catch on it, 
or a buggy wheel would hit it and almost bounce the riders 

When traffic from cars and wagons was heavy and the 
road was dry, as in summer, great piles of dust would build 
up along the main tire tracks. We liked to run barefooted in 
the dust. 

After a big rain in June we would all start down the road 
in different directions, digging the Sour Dock and other big 
weeds and throwing them into the roadway where they could 
not take root again. All such trips along the road made us 
well aware of every detail along the road, each rodent den, 
bird nest, unusual weed, or plant, such as the big taU grass 
which we caUed Prairie Grass. 

Usually each year in June or July we would have insects 
such as Army worms or Chinch bugs to try to control. We 
have seen the Army worms crossing the road from a grain 
field, which had become dry and ripe, to a fresh new corn 
field, and so thick on the road that they almost made a solid 
cover. We tried to stop them by plowing a furrow and 
dragging a log to make a dust which they could not cross, and 
by dragging a log in the furrow to crush them. This was a 
very big mess and only a few were stopped in their march to 

new food. In the case of Chinch bugs we used a spray Une of 
half inch wide and they did not like to cross it, but enough 
always got to the new food supply some way. Not much like 
the modern controls of today. 

We were never too busy to help someone who got stuck 
in the deep ruts which wore down in the soft muddy roads. 
Neighbors were always ready to help if called on, and usually 
they did not wait to be called on. They could see if you needed 
help and would come and offer to help. A lot of fun for kids on 
a Country Mile. 


Lillian Elizabeth Terry 

In the year 1908, my parents and we three children were 
living in the town of Rushville, the county seat of Schuyler 
County. In that year they purchased a small farm in 
Brooklyn township. It was a thrill to move to our future home 
by wagon loads of furniture and supplies. 

We attended the nearby country churches where most 
all of the young grew to manhood and womanhood. I shall 
never forget as a child, at the White Oak church, a minister 
from Littleton by the name of Sturgel. Another incident, I 
will always remember while attending a revival at the same 
church, everything went weU until the altar call was given, 
several went forward kneehng at the altar. When they stood 
to testify that their sins were forgiven, the congregation's 
attention was drawn to a tall man standing with his back to 
the audience. He was dressed in a blue suit, but overall 
suspenders were hanging below his coat tail. It was a cold 
night. I suppose he had put the overalls on for warmth, 
forgetting to fasten up the suspenders. Everyone laughed so 
much that the minister stopped the service. 

We children used to go with our father to the mill at 


Brooklyn with wheat to be ground into flour, and white corn 
into meal. The miller was Samuel Johnson. He was a small 
man, always covered with dust from grinding. He resembled 
the dwarfs we used to see in the story books. 

Later we purchased our flour by the fifty pound sack, 
laying in a supply to last all winter. There were many kinds, 
each claiming to make more loaves to the sack. There were 
Liberty Bell, Montclair, and Town Crier, just to mention a 

Everyone walked then; very few owned a car. There was 
very httle shrubbery in the yards, most of the yards had 
pansies, verbenas, and phlox blooming along their walks. 
When walking by the homes there were deUcious smells of 
cooking drifting in the air. Most everyone had a porch swing 
and, after the days work was done, the inhabitants came out 
to sit and cool off and to greet the passers by. 

Sometimes my Aunt sent us to Strietburger's bakery on 
the east side of the square in Rushville for bread or a pie. 
What a thrill to see the delicious baked items! Their bread 
tasted hke cake to me. 

My, the girls were lovely then and their beaus were 
grand young men. Some married. Storms and disasters took 
their tolls, but those that did marry stayed together, it took 
hard work, also team work and many years to accumulate, for 
the future, but for those that did, the results can be judged. 


Loren S. Curtis 

Going back something over fifty years, well, in fact, 
let's say that 1916 was the year I came into the world. I don't 
remember that day too clearly but I learned later I had an 
older brother and we Uved on a family farm owned by my 
grandfather. The farm was in Schuyler County on a ridge just 

South of Gin Ridge. I realize only a few people might admit 
living on Gin Ridge, but it is true. We lived on Center Ridge. 
Those were the days before Pampers and baby food in jars. 

We had a very nice saddle mare we used mainly for a 
stock horse. I was about four years old when I started riding 
behind the saddle with my dad. We would feed the cattle and 
check the fences and flood gaps. One time we were riding 
down a very steep hill when the girt broke and the saddle 
turned underneath the horse. Another time she cut a corner 
of the fence too close and caught my leg on a nail. It cut the 
flesh just below the knee and so my father took a cut of Star 
chewing tobacco from his mouth and put over it and tied his 
red bandana kerchief over it and we went on our way. Of 
course it would require stitches at the emergency ward if it 
were today. Another time when we stopped to open a wire 
gap, he got off and had the rein over his arm when the horse 
jerked loose and started running. I leaned over the saddle to 
grab the reins and struck my chin on the bare steel saddle 
horn. It made a cut under my chin, close to my throat. I fell to 
the ground and the horse ran away. My wound started 
bleeding "hke a stuck hog" as the expression was, and my 
dad had to carry me about a rrule to our house. Were my folks 
ever frightened! Stitches, I don't remember. A scar, yes! 

One day my dad was hitching his team to the Emerson 
mower. I got on the seat which was about four feet from the 
ground. But when I stepped off, I stepped with my bare foot 
on a board with nails in it. The nails went into my foot so 
deep, he had to put his foot on the board and pull my leg to 
get them out. My mother called my grandmother and she 
suggested mother treat it with a cow-poultice. But my 
mother misunderstood. She put a pine tar poultice on instead. 
Later when my grandmother learned of this, she said she 
meant cow poultice and for the folks to bring me to her house 
to stay while she doctored me. My Grandfather would watch 
the neighbor's cows and when a fresh poultice would fall to 
the ground, he would run with the fire shovel and fetch it for 
grandmother to wrap on my foot. I hobbled around for two or 

three weeks on a home made crutch made from a maple tree 
limb with a pad in the fork to rest my knee on. Yes, it healed. 


Clare Beckwith 

I first saw the hght of day on March 30, 1906, in 
Webster, Illinois, a small settlement southwest of Fountain 
Green, Illinois in Hancock County. At the age of six my 
parents and I moved three miles west of LaHarpe, lUinois on 
Route 9 where I have resided for nearly sixty-eight years. 

The west branch of Crooked Creek flows north of our 
home, makes a big curve, and flows south of my farm, 
curving hke a horseshoe. Although less than ten miles from 
the Mississippi River, there is a ridge of high ground which 
divides the watershed, and Crooked Creek takes off in a 
southeasterly direction, flowing into the Illinois River about 
ten miles south of Beardstown. 

Today Crooked Creek is called the LaMoine River on the 
road signs and maps, but to me it is still called "Crooked 
Creek." If you wonder how it got its name, you have only to 
follow its many meanders, and see how it curves, changes 
directions, and zigzags. In pioneer days, the west branch 
south of Route 136, west of Carthage a few miles, is said to 
have made a big loop through the bottom for seven miles, and 
then come back to within a hundred yards of itself. All this 
makes for many deep holes, where washouts have created 
deep waters, making for excellent fishing. This brings me to 
the beginning of my story. 

It was in the spring of 1925 and I was attending 
W.I.S.T.S. (Western lUinois State Teacher's CoUege) as it 
was called at that time. I was rooming on West Carroll Street 
near the railroad track close to the old brick factory where 
Haeger Pottery is today. It was Saturday, and I had just 
come back from dinner from Flack's restaurant on the 

southeast corner of the square where 1 had an excellent 
dinner of meat, vegetables, drink, and dessert for twenty-five 
cents and no sales tax. What was my surprise when my Uncle 
Ed Beckwith pulled up in his Model T Ford, and invited me to 
go fishing with him down on "Big Creek." By Big Creek he 
meant below where the west branch and the east branch of 
Crooked Creek join about three miles south of Route 136 and 
nearly straight south of Joetta, lUinois. The east branch 
comes from the Bushnell area, north of Bardolph, north of 
Macomb, and on west, north of Colchester. 

I was dehghted (hke the Lightning bug that got his tail 
in a fan) and away we went. We first went to Joetta, where 
my Uncles Ed and Jess Beckwith and Aunt LilHan Weakley 
operated a country store. First we went to Cedar Creek, 
which is about a half mile north of Joetta, and caught a 
supply of bait consisting of sunfish, frogs, and chubbs. Then 
we went south six or seven miles, pulled into a friendly 
farmer's barnyard, and drove all the way to the very bank of 
the creek. 

Uncle found poles where he had hid them in the weeds 
for future use, and we proceeded to put out about twenty-five 
bank lines. The water was deep everywhere, and the poles 
could be put fairly close together, so it was not a long walk to 
run the hues. 

At one place, a dead tree with long limbs lay in the 
creek, and when we stepped up to the bank, the water boiled 
and the whole tree shook. Uncle said we had scared the carp 
fish and they were beating a retreat. There were that many! 
We caught one nice channel cat of about two pounds while we 
were putting out the hnes, and then we went back to Joetta to 
eat supper. 

After supper we arrived at the creek, ht two kerosene 
lanterns, grabbed two gunny sacks, and steered for the poles. 
The first one had a dandy channel cat of about three pounds. 
Soon we had a half-dozen averaging near two pounds each. 
They were the finest eating fish in the world, and especially 
out of Crooked Creek where food for the fish is abundant in 

the spring of the year when the buds are floating on the 

Presently we came to a pole set in extra deep water. 
About three-fourths of the pole was visible, the other fourth 
being pulled under water and slowly weaving. We set the 
lanterns to best advantage and Uncle began to work the fish 
slowly to the bank. When its head appeared at the water's 
edge, in the dim light I thought it was a turtle's back, but 
Uncle shouted for me to grab it around the head. I grabbed it 
and started up the bank. 

I got nearly to the top when it gave a big flop, came off 
the hook, and started rolling for the creek. In the dim light 
Uncle threw himself flat in the soft mud at the water's edge, 
and caught the fish on his midsection. He grabbed it around 
its head and, that time, we landed it safely. We caught a total 
of sixteen channel cats that evening; more than we could 
hardly carry. 

We arrived back at Joetta near eleven o'clock. First we 
weighed the big cat. It tipped the scales at eight pounds— not 
a record for a flathead river cat, but a good catch at that. 

Next morning we caught five more and one carp of 
about four pounds; smaU for a carp. We dressed flsh till noon, 
and then Uncle Ed brought me home, dividing the fish about 
half and half between our two families. 

Today the same effort would probably net only a small 
fraction of such results. Traps, nets, pollution from 
fertihzers, herbicides, and insecticides have reduced the fish 
population in Old Crooked until not many people any longer 
set bank lines. Still I don't know where fishing in the wild is 

If the long talked about dam is built across Crooked 
Creek a short distance below Colmar, it wiU flood the bottom 
lands, and give the fish a chance to come back in big 
numbers— which they are capable of doing in only a few 
years. I will never forget that fishing trip on that memorable 
day back in the spring of 1925. 


Margaret Eyman 

My Ufe as the wife of a farmer started on June 28, 1916. 

We started farming on a shoe string. Our activities 
centered around our friends and neighbors, and church. We 
played some cards for fun— no betting, not even matches! 
Some-r-set and Rook. We had many funny experiences and 
some not so much fun. We visited friends one cold snowy 
night to play cards and were having such a good time. We 
stayed until 2 o'clock. We drove a horse and buggy. Snow 
was on the ground and large drifts on each side of the road. 
The buggy wheel roUed up on one and over the buggy went, 
spilling both of us out in the snow. The horse had to be 
unhitched, the buggy turned back, right side up and the 
horse hitched up again. Fortunately the horse was gentle and 
we were no worse for wear. This happened long before our 
daughter was born. 

A few years later after we had acquired some milk cows, 
it became my job to take the cream to town in a 5 gallon can. 
Unfortunately I decided to sell some hens, putting all in the 
Model T which we had acquired. Turning a corner— over went 
the cream can— all over the hens. I heard them making a 
funny noise, so I stopped to investigate. The hens swimming 
in cream! It was necessary to go back home; wash the hens 
off and put them in the coal room to dry and wash the inside 
of the car. It wasn't funny as it was in November and cold. 
We also needed the money. 

Our home seemed to be a good place for company, so 
when Earl's brother Ralph received his doctor's degree from 
the University of California, he was hired as a teacher at 
Tallahassee, Florida, and drove there by way of our place 
with his wife and four youngsters. It didn't take long for 
them to find out that we had fleas in our barn. My! My! Such 
a time! You could scratch all night with only one flea in bed 
with you. They bothered some people worse than others and 


some of the youngsters got infection from them but they left 
IHinois much wiser. 

We also had company from Chicago and the mother of a 
little boy decided the barn was her place to read her Rosary 
with more sad experiences for her and the fleas. Incidentally, 
we got rid of the fleas by using gas tar we bought in 


Clarice Trone Dickerson 

There is so much to write about the "Good Old Days." 
In reading it may not sound so good and many times it 
wasn't, but we always had a good time when people came, 
when we went to school and church. There were lots of times 
when we were at home for fun, too. 

Our home was two miles from Ridgeville School #50 and 
one half mile off the main highway. When I was born in 1905, 
we had a two room log house covered with unpainted boards. 
There was a very narrow stairway that led to a floored attic 
upstairs. Our kitchen was built-on and joined the house by a 
covered entryway. In the winter the kitchen got very cold at 
night, as we had a flat top wood-burning cookstove with 
reservoir for water on back, and oven underneath the top of 
stove and back of firebox. That stove lasted for at least 15 
years before we got a range with a warming closet on top. 

We went to the circus when it came to Rushville. They 
unloaded at the depot and marched the elephants and 
animals that could walk, and hauled the hons etc. In their 
decorated cages, they marched from the depot uptown on the 
square and east on Lafayette Street and turned north on east 
side of the Washington School, and went north to the 
fairground. My grandmother lived east of school and we 
watched them from there. We also went to the fair, and, when 
I was quite small, they had a balloonist and he would go up 

and drift around. We went in the "surrey" and took feed 
along. My father would unhitch the horses and feed them 
while we were at the fair or where ever we went to for a day. 

We never had a telphone until 1908 and no electric 
lights as long as our family of 12 children were growing up. 
We washed much of the time with a tub and wash board, and 
always boiled the clothes in a boiler with soap and lye added 
to the water. The water always had to be skimmed before the 
clothes were put in to get rid of the hard elements in the 
water. We made lye by having a square shaped hopper that 
came down to a V shape at bottom, filled with wood ashes, 
and when it rained or got wet the water that dripped through 
into a crock or other such container made the lye. 

Our father built a barn about 1908 and it was buUt of 
timbers cut from wood sawed on our farm by Jim Anderson, 
who set up his saw miU and stayed in a httle room built on his 
wagon while he sawed the timber. He had a phonograph and 
brought it at night for us to hear. It had cyHnders that the 
music was on. We thought he was quite a nice man. My 
Grandfather Alonzo Kinnear had a livery barn and kept 
horses and buggies or other conveyances while people were in 
town. He also had two beautiful horses and a buggy of his 
own that he hired out to people to use. The livery barn was 
located where later the Deans Dairy was, and is now parking 
lot space between the Schuyler State Bank and the Feigel 
food store across the street from the Courthouse and jail. He 
was a very dear man and kept the schoolboys' horses while 
they attended high school. In 1919. in February, the flu was 
very bad and he contracted it from someone, and lived only 3 or 4 
days after he took it. 

My mother had twelve children and never went to see a 
doctor before any of them were born. All were born at home. 
The doctors always came to our house. The doctor who 
dehvered me was Doctor Bellomy. He had white hair and 
seemed quite old but he went where he was called in all kinds 
of weather in a "rig" and on horseback. He lived in the big 
house east of Pleasantview. 

Everyone, until we were toward or in our teens, 
travelled by buggy wagon or on horseback. Relatives from 
nearby neighborhoods or towns came and, if from very far 
from home, always ate what meals we had. Not much was 
bought out of store. Flour, sugar and rice were staples bought 
in stores but we raised our vegetables, potatoes, cabbage, 
kraut, cane for sorghum molasses, apples, cherries and 
peaches, and also pears. Most everyone had an orchard with 
these fruit trees and also blackberries. All these were canned 
for winter by the half gallon or quart, and all members of the 
family worked at keeping the garden. Kraut was made in a 
large crock or barrel containers. Apples, potatoes, cabbage. 

carrots, and many other vegetables were placed in the cellar 
or buried in straw in ground in a well drained place. 

We had Gipsys that came through the country every 
summer and news soon spread through the neighborhood, as 
they were pretty tricky sometimes and liked chicken. Also 
many peddlers came along and peddled material, beautiful 
dishes, paper weights, and all kinds of gadgets, and even eye 
glasses that way. In these 75 years there have been cars, 
electricity and gas for heat— airplanes, atom and hydrogen 
bombs, trips to the moon and, in the next 75 years, we cannot 
imagine how much more progress will be made. We only hope 
it wiO be for the betterment of mankind. 

List of (Authors 


All manuscripts entered in the 1980 Tales from Two 
Rivers writing contest have been placed in Western Illinois 
University's Ubrary. Together with the authors whose stories 
appear in this book, the following writers shared their own 

Smith, May F. 
Taylor, Margaret N. 
Thale, Ethel Wagner 
Von Holt, Ura May (Mrs.) 
Wiegand, NelUe 
Wilkey, Keith L. 
Woods, Mildred M. 

experiences of western Illinois history and all of their works 
are available to researchers at the library's Archives and 
Special Collections department. 


Aden, Edith F. 

Alexander, Ollie M. 

Bowles, Arthur E. 

Brick, Helen Z. 

Cason, Leila H. 

Croxton, Mildred 

Debres, Margaret 

Dittmer, Pauline 

Fornell, Irma 

Frieburg, Gerald M. 

Gunn, Frances S. (Mrs.) 

HoUender, Esther 

Hulsen, Bob 

Ift, Etta M. (Mrs.) 

Kanauss, Lydia 

Koehler, Inez 

Krupa, JuUus 

Leapley, Alice De Witt 

McCullough, James R. 

McFarland, Vera 

Minear, Sara B. 

Moellring, Roy (Mrs.) 

Norton, Evangeline Dickhoener 

Owen, Roy Sr. (Mrs.) 

Riggins, Jerry A. Sr. (Mrs.) 

Rose, Violet 

Ruddell, Sara J. 

Shanholtzer, Wesley A. 


Ashbaker, J. Emmett 
Clark, Carol 
Haas, Art 
Hersman, Frank 
O'Connell, Nellie A. 
Roe, NelUe F. 
Swearingen, Erma Elliott 
Tice, Duward F. 
Unger, Clara Roberts 


Shearburn, Dorothy 


Bryant, Evelyn 
Carpenter, George W. 
Dixon, Elsie L. 
Halemeyer, Esther 
Navarre, OUve 


Beadles, Elmer L. 
Blessman, AUce Greb 
Kirchner, Janette 
Murphy, Lucille G. (Mrs.) 
Pate, Vivian May 


BeccheUi, Anna (Mrs.) 
Jacoby, Cleeta Davidson 
Lebeter, Madeline 


Ames, Grace 
Auigley, Anna 
Baker, Marion Y. 
Boden, Katherine 
Bowman, Mabel 
Boyce, Ava 
Breeding, Grace 
Burrows, Beulah 
Clemens, Valera Kelly 
Coultas, Julian E. 
Dean, Blanche AureUa 
Derry, Elsie Mae 
Forneris, Angelo 

Foster, Marguerite 
Guyton, Marian S. 
Helle, Joe 
Keeney, Frances 
Lewis, Edward R., Jr. 
Marshall, Pierre 
Myers, Helen (Mrs.) 
Orsborn, Olive L. 
Scak, Aletha 
Schoonover, Edna 
Workman, Garnet (Mrs.) 


Chapman, Floy K. 
Schutz, Neita 
Stout, Viola Ann 


Allen, Ira J. 
Beckwith, Clare 
Braun, Florence 
Burdett, Small 
Clover, Lowell 
Cludray, Ellen 
Curtis, Loren S. 
Dean, Adelphia J. 
Donkle, Harold L. 
Douglas, Ora Lee 

Dunn, Helen R. 
Eyman, Margaret 
Grainger, Ora 
Harl, Mary 
Hufendick, Ora M. 
Jackson, Ida C. 
Junk, Lucilk 
Kruse, Idapearl 
Lawton, Leota (Mrs.) 
Link, Kathryn 
Lionberger, Bertha 
Lutz, Delbert 
Ourth, Florence 
Peyron, Ernest A., Sr. 
Peyron, Jane 
Rice, Margaret K. 
Scheuremann, Mattie (Mrs.) 
Siegfried, Mary H. Miss 
Spangler, Mamie E. 
Summers, Vilette May 
White, Helen E. 
Williams, Edna 


Canfield, Homer A. 
Garner, Muriel 
Gillaspie, Sylvia 
Kane, John W. (Mrs.) 
Mead, Virgie L. 
Sanderson, Mabelle 


DeShane, Eunice Stone 
Johnson, Ruth 
Martin, Inez 

Nash Lund, Jane 
Norcross, Kenneth M. 
Schillinger, Grace V. 


Ayres, Ruth E. 
Fink, Allie 
Freesmeyer, Marie 
Heitzig, Mary W. 
Lawson, Margaret Sipes 
Ratz, Eula 
Shanks, Mary L. 
Strunk, Charles B. (Mrs.) 


Baker, Berniece 
Clausen, Maree L. 
Close, Edith M. 
Hagerty, Genevieve 
Hansen, Dorothy 
Hicks, Grace 
Reed, Marjory M. 
Ruth, Eola Marie 
Self, Opal 
Simms, Louise 
Smith, Imogne 
Thompson, Marie Sellers 


Berry, Dorothy B. 

Cook, Mary Helen Kiegley 

Mason, Beulah Jay 


Lawrence, Lorene 
Waters, Irene Clopton 


Jones, Trevor L. 
Scherer, Alyce 
Walker, Lucille J. 
Wheat, Mary 


Bloomer, Harlan H. 
Bricker, Mary Harriet 
Bryan, Minnie J. 
Bump, Floyd R. 
Butcher, Clarence A. 
Combites, Lillian (Nelson) 
Crabb, Martha L. 
DeJong, Marie H. 
DeMuth, EUen Taylor 
Feaster, Marian 
Fugate, Clela M. 
Gingerich, Eleanor P. 
Gorsuch, Geneva 
Graham, Burdette 
Grieshaber, Jedidja Margaret 
Haffner, May F. 
Harper, Charles H. 
Heaton, Roxie Stroops 
Hurst, Mabel 
Larson, Orville 
Lefler, Floradell 
Little, Robert 
Logan, David E. 
Logan, Gladys M. 

Lybarger, Rilla 

Madison, Marie 

McKone, Sarah Catherine 

McMillan, Beulah J. (Mrs.) 

Meacham, Lena 

Meyers, Forrest 

Myers, Goldie 

Nelson, Mildred M. 

Oliver, Kermit F. 

Oiler, Thorlo W. 

Pace, Paulince 

Patrick, Mary L. S. 

Ray, Darlene (Mrs.) 

Robbins, Lyle W. 

Robinson, Nell Windsor (Mrs.) 

Selters, Beula 

Senders, Nina 

Sexton, Ruby L. 

Sypherd, Esther M. 

Taylor, Helen A. 

Thomson, Frances 

Torrance, Josie A. 

Willey, Esther 

Welley. John C. 

Wilson, Agnes 

Wood worth, Florence M. 

Masten, Fora M. 
Shannon, Helen 


Kiddoo, Elizabeth 


Armstrong, Margaret 
Moore, Grace Worman 
Shanahan, Mabel 
Smith, Hattie S. 
Vandeventer, Dorothy 


Chamberlain, Reeta Vestal 

Cockrum, Margaret 

Cox. Edith W. 

Cox, William H. H. 

Dixon, Norma R. 

Doil, Eloise 

Engle, Amy 

Ervin, Viola 

Hinchee, Bernice (Mrs.) 

Kerr, Ruth T. 

Lingle, Ruth H. 

Torbeck, Mary E. 

Weinant, Edith L. 

Weinant, Kenneth 


Allison, Edith 
Guise, Katherine 
Herstedt, Martin E. 
Lashbrook, Blondell 
Lund, Geraldine 
Melin, Ethel L. 
Reed, Mary Ann 
Smith, John 
Zejmowicz, Marion Lister 


Barr, Lois Erma Watkins 

Beatty, F. Coninne 

Beger, Junius 

Harris, Renee Murray 

Johnston, Laura M. 

Jones, Fred C. 

Kish, Ruby Davenport 

Oblinger, Josephine 

Padget, Ben 

Scharf, Margaret Lloyd 

Schneider, Virginia (Dee) 


Armstrong, Raymond E. 
Bartlow, Evelyn Long 
Cain, Nelda B. (Mrs.) 
Clark, Eva M. 
Clements, Ethel 
Croxton, J. Dwight 
Degits, Frieda T. 
Devitt, E. Blake 
DeWitt, Mary K. 
DeWitt, Wilmer 
Dickerson, Clarice T. 
Dodds, Eleanor T. 
Espy, Chester (Mrs.) 
Fisk, Grace 
Goodwin, Burton O. 
Harrison, Francis 
Irvin, William F. 
Irvin, Lucille H. 
Kearby, Ruth A. 
Knott, Vivian 

Peters, Iva I. 
Quigley, Katie 
Royer, Laurence L. 
Sloan, Paul 
Terry, Charles (Mrs.) 
Thompson, Leslie Edward 
Turner, NeU Dace 
Tyson, Guy 


Hutchings, Stella 


Miller, Lillian D. 


Robertson, Dorothy (Mrs.) 


Hill, Marguerite Cambell 
Johnson, Edythe H. 
Keiknan, Wilma 
Miller, Anna Pauline 
Pollitt, Ruth S. 
Raberg, Thomas 
Shanks, Beulah B. 
Stewart, Carl R. 
Wetterling, Ethel Jenkins 
White, Omega (Mrs.) 


Florence, Jennie (Mrs.) 
Japson, Andrew 
Japson, Andrew (Mrs.) 


"Those who are living as retirees in today's world 
are the new pioneers, the first large generation of 
achievers of long life. As they share what it is like to 
be long living in the land of the young, they may paint 
the way for changes that will make our world a better 
world for people of all ages. " 

Dr. Sterling E. Alam 

Specialist in Gerontology 

University of Illinois 

"The writers of the essays in this little book see 
and feel their relationships with the past Readers will 
sense the importance of traditions and roots and will 
be moved to sense their own. " 

Dr Charles R. Keller 

Professor of History Emeritus 

Williams College, Mass. 

"Kate had been a farm horse and was not really in 
love with the city. Some things petrified her and she 
resorted to her only defense: Run! . . . Another hazard 
was the factory whistle. Somehow Kate never got used 
to it. We always checked the clock to be certain not to 
pass a plant at noon hour because a toot from the 
factory whistle meant big trouble for Dad and me. " 

Bob Hulsen 
Adams County 

"About 1933 I sold hogs that weighed over 
eighteen hundred pounds for a total sum of forty-four 
dollars and some cents. About this time we shipped 
four sheep to Chicago and received less than a dollar 
for the four " 

Delbert Lutz 
Hancock County 

"A neighbor lady who expected her husband for 
lunch had run to the mine when he did not arrive. She 
found him pinned under a rock. I, among others, drove 
there quickly . . . He was pinned face down with his 
knees spread. The rock was about twelve feet long and 
two feet thick, so we had to 'mine' under him before 
pulling him out " John C Willey 

McDonough County 

" If they played Pitch, one deck was used. They sat 
around a big round cherry wood table in the dining 
room. The lights were furnished by a Delco plant 
system that made a noise like a John Deere tractor. 
The game was played most times until 2 or 3 am. They 'd 
talk so much sometimes, they 'd forget whose deal it 
was. That was entertainment: 1929. " 

Elsie L. Dixon 
Calhoun County 

"Our teachers on the whole were dedicated and 
good. Always there would be Bible reading and prayer 
to begin the day. Some teachers read a part of the book 
each day . . . Group singing was a big part of school for 
me. I remember such songs as 'Listen to the 
Mockingbird', "Old Black Joe', and "Tenting On the 
Old Camp Ground". ^^,^ ^ j^,^^^^^ 

Kewanee County 

"Do you know what a tumblebug is? I haven't seen 
one in years, but when we farmed with horses, they 
were plentiful. These bugs laid their eggs in small balls 
of horse manure . . . Then two of them, a papa and 
mama, I suppose, would roll it with them. They took it 
along at a good clip ..." Elizabeth Kiddoo 

Mercer County