Sunday, October 31, 2010

First Trip to Peru - 1972

    In 1970 Hugh graduated from college in Brockport New York and went to Peru in the Peace Corps.  He married while in Peru and we went to Peru the first time in 1972. 

     We drove our pickup camper to Miami and caught the Braniff Airline to Peru.  We went down east of Dallas and bought some peaches at a roadside stand.  It was about the 10th of June when we left and we planned to be gone 3 weeks.

    We went through Philadelphia Miss and we could feel the tension there.  This was about 8 years after the civil rights movement and this was the place where the civil rights workers were murdered and buried in a field or pond.

    We drove on and our next stop was Gainesville Florida where we spent the night.  We didn’t think it would  take long to drive to Miami but it took all day.  We stopped at a small motel in the heart of Little Cuba.  No problem, and we ate out at a Cuban restaurant.  We did go to several attractions in Miami and was it ever hot.

    The next night we stayed at a Howard Johnson Motel near the airport and parked our camper in their lot for  the 3 weeks that we were out of the country.  We left Miami in the evening and I think we flew direct to Lima.  We had never been up in a big jet before and ran into a storm on our journey to Lima.  The plane went up and down and it was a roller coaster ride.  We didn’t know any better so were not unduly frightened.  We arrived in Lima and you always come to the airport in a dense fog.

Hugh and Betty met us at the airport and we stayed overnight in Lima.  We were amazed at how dirty it was around the airport.  Leaving the airport by car one passes miles of slums coyly hidden behind adobe curtain walls that frame the highway.  And then the miscellany of homes that announce the residences of the rich California bungalows, turreted castles and colonial posada’s.

    One third of Peruvians live in Lima, but there is little Peruvian about the place.  It begin as a beach head of foreign power and has never learned to change.  Lima looks to Europe and America as models, and the rest of the country for the wealth to indulge the resulting inferiority complex-a complex evident from the lack of original style and the uncritical imitation of others.

    We left Lima the next day for the home of our son in Huancayo.  Huancayo a city of 100,000 population is located about 180 miles southeast of Lima.  We started up the mountains towards Huancayo.  We followed the Rimac river for many miles.  June is winter time in South America and it is cloudy all the time on the coast.  We saw native women washing clothes including hotel linens along the river.  The sun shines a few miles east of Lima and therefore your clothing will dry fast.

    We started up the mountain and stopped at a restaurant on the way.  We ate lunch at a cafe about a 2 hour drive from Lima.  They did have a modern restroom and we enjoyed our stop.  You have to be careful about eating and I ate papas huancani-which is potatoes with a cheese sauce and boiled egg and it is served cold.  Very good.

     I saw a man relieving himself in the open and that was common placer.  I went to the bathroom at the restaurant and it was modern.  The scenery was so unusual and beautiful.  We followed the river for many miles, at that time in 1972 the roads were mostly graveled.  We kept driving and climbing and arrived at La Oroya which was about half way to Huancayo.  The elevation there is 13000 feet.  We probably stopped to eat and may have drank some coco tea.  Coco tea helps you feel good in the high elevations.  We continued on to the highest spot on the road which is called Ticolo which has an elevation of around 16000 feet.  Then    we continued to Huancayo.  The elevation of the Mantero Valley is about 12000 feet and is called the breadbasket of Peru.  Lots of grain and vegetables are raised there on small  plots.

    We continued on the graveled road and stopped again at La Oroya.  This is a mining city at an elevation of about 13000 feet.  We had driven over the pass at Ticolo at an elevation of 16000 feet.  La Oroya is a very polluted  city and the people that work in the mines have very poor housing.  The mine pollutes the Mantero river for many miles and fish can no longer live in the river.  From La Oroya we followed the Mantero river to Huancayo in the Mantero valley.  This valley is located at an elevation of 12000 feet and is called the bread basket of Peru.

    In the Mantero valley are many small farms which raise potatoes, cabbage, beans, carrots and all other kind of vegetables. The native people of Peru developed most  of the vegetables that we are familiar with.  There is an  in the international Potato institute about 5000 different varieties of potatoes.  I saw and ate many different vegetables and fruits that are unavailable to us in the states.

Huancayo you will find potato sacks made of wool as that is what is available to use.  I can see the small villages on the road to Huancayo with the checkerboard farms stretching to the mountains on both side of the Mantero river. The people live in the villages and go out to work to their farms to work in the morning.

    The busses are full of people and animals and on market day you can see men on bicycles pulling a cart, heavy laden with produce coming to Huancayo to sell the fruits of their labor.

    The men mostly dress western but the women dress in their traditional clothing.  Black skirts, a bright blouse and a large shawl which is used to carry babies and other things.  The babies peek over their mothers shoulders and watch the activity and they never seem to cry.

    We arrived at Huancayo and Hugh and Betty gave us their bed which had a full sized mattress.  The temp dropped to almost freezing every night and got up to about 65 degrees in the daytime.  We had about 3 heavy wool blankets on our bed and it was cold up there.  I asked Hugh about taking a shower and he said he took one about once a week and waited until about 3 in the afternoon.  The shower head had a little electric heater attached to it and it just barely put out warm water.  Once a week was enough. We ate lunch at the house every day about 1 p m and the food was good but strange.  We could not drink water out of the faucet so we drank lots of coffee and soft drinks.  We went out to eat down the street and they had  very  good hamburgers and French fries.  It was cold at night but the stores were open.  We met Hugh’s friend Mr Meyers who owned a hardware store.  His sister owned a place where they wove fabric and hand knitted  sweaters. Her store was called Kami-Maki.  The  Meyers had arrived in Peru from Germany before the Holocost. They and lots of Jewish people could see what was going to happen so they came to South America in the 30’s.

    We stayed with Betty’s Mother in Huancayo for over a week and made day trips to small villages in the area.  There is no heat in the houses so you wear a sweater all the time .  When you go out at night you dress with hat, gloves and a warm coat.  the temperature at night is almost freezing and in the day time in winter it may reach 65 degrees.  Huancayo is 12 degrees south of the equator and the elevation is 12000 feet.

    I was 45 years old and did not have any trouble with the high altitude.  I did lose about ½ pound of weight every day as your body burns more calories at a high altitude and the people ate more food than we were accustomed to eating.  We took at shower about once a week and we waited until about 3 p m.  the water came out of a small electric heater attached to the shower head and it was bitter cold in the bathroom.

    There was a maid in the house who did the cooking and cleaning.  Another maid came in every week to wash clothing by hand and do the ironing.  The food was good but very different from what we were used to.

    We took day trips around Huancayo and went to one village where artists carved gourds for the tourist trade.  We were able to purchase gourds much cheaper at the artists homes than at the markets in Lima.  We also went to a village and purchased hand woven rugs.  Another manufacturing  shop on the outskirts of Huancayo sold hand woven cloth and hand knit sweaters and hand spun yarn.  The owner of the shop was a German woman who had arrived in Peru from Germany before the Holocaust.  Her brother Mr. Meyers owned a hardware store in Huancayo and was a friend of our son.

    Many German Jews came to Peru in the 1930’2 and are citizens there.  They could see the problems coming and they left Germany.  My Grandaughter Carolina husbands Grandmother knew the Meyers family when she lived in Huancayo over 50 years ago.
    Every Sunday in Huancayo there is a Fair or what we would call a flea Market.  Huancayo is a very important business center, being the point of convergence of all the nearby towns and many business transactions are made at the Sunday Fair.  The Fair starts on Saturday afternoon, when all the vendors come from everywhere in the region.  The Fair is truly wonderful for it’s leather goods, ceramics, gold and silver jewelry, textiles, used sewing machines, automobile parts and almost anything you could want or use.  The Fair stretches almost 2 miles and the stalls covered with cloth are 4 lanes wide.  It is the most famous fair in all South America and people come from all over the region to buy and sell.

    We made another day trip to the convent of Santa Rosa de Ocapa founded by the  Monks in 1725.  They have a famous library with thousands of books printed in the 15th century many of which are journals which tell of the early occupation of the Spaniards.  On the outside walls covered by  roof are paintings done by the natives about the life of St Francis of Assaisi.  There is no sense of proportion in the painting and they painted the Peruvian devils instead of what we think of as devils.  The climate is dry and the paintings have not changed in appearance over the years.  What an interesting day that turned out to be.

    We went out in the country to various homes and purchased gourds and a rug and some wool blanketsomes and purchased gourds and a rug and some wool blankets.  Hugh, Dale Gail and I made a trip to Huancavlica and also one trip to Lircay where Betty was born.  Then Betty had a vacation and we started to Cusco which was 600 miles from Huancayo across the mountains.

    We made another day trip to Huancalvica, a mining city about a 3 hours drive from Huancayo.  We stayed in a tourist hotel overnight and then went to Lircay the next day.  Lircay was the small town where Betty was born .  We were surrounded by children as they seldom see white people.  Gail was with us and they came up and touched her red hair.  Lircay had an open sewer and the town was dirty and the children had open sores on their faces.  We only stayed about an hour and then drove back to Huancayo.

    The roads in the mountains are very narrow and the cars go one way one day and the other way the next day.  You are not able in the high mountains to pass another car.  You see people riding small horses or walking on the roads along with cattle, sheep, llamas and alpacas.

    We left Huancayo at night as the road was one way one day and the other way the next day.  The road was narrow and graveled with a lot of bumps.  The car we drove was a Volkswagon and Dale and Hugh sat in front and Gail, Betty and I in the back.  The luggage was behind the back seat and one piece under the hood.  We had packed a lunch and the first day we stopped in a small village to eat.  Hugh and Betty could eat the food but Dale, Gail and I went to the market and had bananas and soda crackers to eat.  We traveled in a Volkswagon,.  It took all day to reach Ayacucho which was a distance of about 200 miles.  We saw people and animals on the road.  The road would go up one mountain and down and up again.  We passed some small villages but no cities of any size during this leg of the journey.  Our top speed was 22 miles per hour.

    We arrived in Ayacucho in the evening and went to the tourist hotel to spend the night.  Ayacucho is a city of colonial flavor, which between the 16th and 17th centuries enjoyed a great splendor for the wealth and nobility of its dwellers.  Even today the city preserves a colonial atmosphere, as if times has stood still.  It has numerous colonial mansions and beautiful churches.  Ayacucho is a very attractive city to visit and it offers all the services expected in a modern city.  Ayacucho is famous the world over for its sought after Ayacuchoan Nativities and its carvings on the Piedra de Humango a kind of soft alabaster.

    We stayed at Ayacucho the first night, which is a fair sized city in the mountains.  We stayed at the tourist hotel and the food there was safe to eat.  The mountains were beautiful and we saw pastures at the high elevations that held cattle, sheep, llama and alpaca in them.  The huts were made of straw and the native people were dressed in bright clothing.  Almost all were barefoot, some with sandals made from auto tires.  When we left Ayacucho the hotel people checked our luggage thinking we had taken a blanket.

    The tourist hotels in all the fairly large cities in Peru are owned and operated by the government.  The hotels are a safe place to rest and the food is safe to eat.

    We left Ayacucho the next morning going south past the gorge of Huanimo at 4100 meters.  We continued south through the small Andean towns of Urcos and Chincheros.  We continued on and stopped at a fairly large city named Andahuyles.  We stopped there to eat but could not find a suitable place.  Hugh and Betty ate soup at  a cafe but they said it would be best if we didn’t eat there.  So we went to the market and purchased bananas and soda crackers.  This was about noon time and we left Andahuayles  on our way to Abanacay.

    We went past some other gorges and beautiful mountains and on the road we passed a wedding party.  The bride was dressed in traditional finery and was riding a small stout pony.  The groom was walking besides the horse.  What a beautiful young couple.

    We continued on towards Abanacay and it became dark.  We could see the lights of Abanacay and thought we  would arrive soon, but we went up one mountain and down another and finally arrived at 10 p.m.  We stopped at the tourist hotel and all they had to eat was bean soup and it was very delicious..  We did not see many people.  I think we drove 14 hours that day and reached the small city of Abancay late that night.  We could see the lights for many miles before we arrived there.  We were hungry and all they had to eat was bean soup and it really tasted good.

    The next morning we left Abanacay on the road to Cuzco and made a stop at the ruins of Saywite.  We stayed a couple of hours at the ruins which consist of a gigantic rock shaped like a cougar, on whose back are hundreds of figures corresponding to animal and vegetal species of the kingdom of the Incas.  There are also carved buildings and inhabitants of the four sections of the empire with their typical dresses.  It was probably the most impressive artifact that we saw in Peru. I think that was the day we saw the ruins in the mountains and the rock carved with a model of a city.  Betty could understand some of the Quecha language but I don’t think she could speak much of it.  We arrived at Cusco the next day and distance from Huancayo was 600 miles.  Many years later I read in a magazine that only strong people should attempt that journey.  I was 45 years old and Dale was 47 at that time.

    We arrived in Cusco and stayed at the John Kennedy Hotel.  It was off the beaten path but was clean and O.K.  We took in the sights around Cusco and saw an interesting Catholic Church with some intricate wood carvings.  We also went to the old rock wall which was built to withstand earthquakes.  We visited the old fortress called basewoman.  We stayed a couple of days in Cusco and then we boarded the train to go see Machu Picchu.  That was a very impressive sight.  We spent a day on that trip and then came back to Cusco and prepared to go back toward Lima via the Pacific Coast Highway.

     We continued on to Cuzco and arrived there on the 3rd day of our trip.  Years later I was reading in a magazine that only healthy and strong people should attempt this trip by car over the mountains from Huancayo to Cuzco.  We stayed at a small hotel in Cuzco and drove out to the fortress at Sacsayhuaman.  The fortress is a huge work of granite rock of a colossal size and was built to serve the palace of the Inca Temple of the Sun and War Square.  It is formed by three defensive walls where huge rocks weighing many tons have been placed with mathematical precision.  When the Spanish arrived in Cuzco they could hardly believe their eyes when they saw the fortress.  It’s construction remains a mystery to this day.  No one has yet come to understand how the enormous rocks over 30 feet high had been moved to this place.

    The square in the center of Cuzco embodies the spirit of Empire more than any other in the world.  Built on an enormous scale 5 Imperial palaces surround the square. Like the street near it, the Plaza retains the format that its founder , Inca emperor Manco Copac gave it.

    We spent 2 days visiting the various cathedrals and palaces and then made our trip by train to Machu Picchu, the lost city of the Incas discovered by Hiram Bingham of Yale University in 1911.

    The train ride to Machu Picchu was quite interesting.  We went past some small villages and stopped at one of them.  Vendors came on the train selling crafts and food and people were outside on the tracks selling things.  Every time you stop your car in a city there will be someone selling bananas, oranges, candy, newspapers and some one will want to wash your windshield.

    We looked at the terraces climbing up the mountains along the railroad.  These terraces are no longer in use.  We arrived in Machu Picchu after about 3 hours and we took a bus up the mountain to see the ruins.  It was overgrown with vegetation when first discovered and the government cleaned and repaired buildings and made it a tourist attraction.  We spend about 3 hours looking at the ruins and we had a guide explain all about the terraces and lookout towers.  We returned to Cuzco by train and the next day we started for Juliaca. 

    We traveled from Cusco to Juliaca and it seemed a long ride.  We stopped at a small mountain village and they didn’t have much to eat.  There were some other travelers also at the small cafe.  They had cheese with them and we had bread, so we just exchanged and were both able to eat cheese sandwiches.  We drove on to Juliaca and were not able to find a good place to stay so we stayed in rooms over a beer joint.  There was loud music and drinking downstairs all night but no one bothered us.  It was so cold there and the beds were dirty.  I slept in all my clothes to keep warm that night.

    The next morning Dale, Hugh, Betty and Gail went to the outdoor market.  I decided to stay in the car quite close to a building.  Seems I picked the favorite spot for people to use the toilet.  The men did it up against the wall and the women spread their wide skirts and squatted .  They would get you for indecent exposure in the U S , but in Peru that was common place.  We left Juliaca in the morning and drove on trying to get to Airquippa by evening.  Aerquippa is a large city but it was vacation time and so we could not find any rooms.  We drove on past Airquippa and went all the way to the coast.  We found rooms at the tourist hotel, Betty, Gail and I had a single bed each and Dale and Hugh had to sleep on a pool table.  The next morning a great big dog woke them up by licking their faces.  That works..

    We started driving on up the coast and the next night we stayed at another tourist hotel.  It had hot running water and so we washed clothes and stayed there another night.  There are small towns along the coast and they are located near where the rivers come out of the mountains.  Otherwise the coastal area is completely dry and nothing grows in the desert.  We continued on up the coast towards Lima and we stopped at one small cafe and ate fresh fish from the ocean.  The flours were dirt and dogs came to your table to beg for food.  We continued on to Lima that day and then we had to got out to the airport to pick up a record player running water and so we washed clothes and stayed there another night.  There are small towns along the coast and they are located near where the rivers come out of the mountains.  Otherwise the coastal area is completely dry and nothing grows in the desert.  We continued on up the coast towards Lima and we stopped at one small cafe and ate fresh fish from the ocean.  The flours were dirt and dogs came to your table to beg for food.  We continued on to Lima that day and then we had to got out to the airport to pick up a record player that was in customs.  Dale dressed up in his best clothes and bribed someone and we got the record player out for Hugh.

    We were going to drive to Puno but had heard from travelers on the road that there was an uprising in that area.  The road toward Puno was in the altaplano and the countryside was desolate.  We stopped at a small village to eat and think all they had was coffee and eggs.  We had bread with us and some other travelers had cheese.  So we shared what we had and got by that way.  We drove to Juliaca the first day and found a room over a beer joint.  The beds were dirty and it was bitterly cold.  That was the one and only time I slept with all my clothes on.  The music blared all night and was glad when morning came.  We got up and every one went to the market except me and I sat in the car.  The native people used the area close to the car as a outside bathroom.  The women squatted and let it go with their skirts covering them up.  The men pissed against the side of a building.  Quite an education for me.

   We continued on up the Pan American highway and the next night we stopped at a tourist hotel where they had hot running water.  Betty and I washed clothes by hand that day so we had clean clothes for the rest of the trip.  38 years ago in Peru keeping your clothes clean was a major job.  I remember eating at an outdoor cafe near the ocean.  We had fried fish and it was delicious.  The floor was dirt and the dogs came up to our table to beg for food.

    We drove on into Lima and went out to the airport and we were able to get the record player out of customs.  Dale dressed up in his best clothes and I think he bribed someone to help him.  That is a way of life in Peru.  You need to grease some ones hands to get anything accomplished.

    We went back to Huancayo and then a few days later we came back to Lima and stayed at Luchos house for a few days.  Lucho was living in the North with his family and the house was vacant.  I think Nelson, Angelica and Rodrigo were with us.  We went to the museums, the zoo and a futbol game.  We had traveled 2800 miles and had seen a lot of Peru in 3 weeks.

    We arrived back in Miami and started back to Oklahoma.  We drove up the east coast of Florida and saw St Augustine.  Then we went to St Cloud and rented a furnished house for $11.00 per night and then we visited Disney world.  It had been opened a week and we were not impressed with it.  We drove back to Ponca City and settled down to getting ready for school again. 
It was quite a trip.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Great Depression

We are now in a downturn in our economy that is being compared to the Great Depression which started with the stock market crash in 1929 and didn't really end until World War 2.

We of that generation were not able or did not prepare our children and grandchildren for this event. The bankers and credit card companies were extending credit to people that did not have the ability to pay their bills and a lot of manufacturing jobs have gone overseas. We are now in the process trying to get our economy and our lives back to what we have perceived as normal.

For those of you who are a generation or 1/2 generation younger than I, let me tell you what I remember about my childhood in the Great Depression.

I was born in 1927 and when I was 1 1/2 years old my Mother contacted TB and was sent to spend 2 1/2 years in a sanatorium. My oldest sister Dorothy was 16 and a Junior in High School. She quit school to help take care of the rest of the family. My sister Daisy was 11, my brother Lawrence was 8, my brother Don was 6 and I was a year and a half old.

We lived on an 80 acre farm 3 miles from the small village of Geneva Minn. My father was 47 years old at that time. He paid one of the neighbor women to do the washing , but otherwise saw that the children had clothes, went to school and of course had to take care of the Dairy herd and the farm work. All the children pitched in and helped.

At that time farmers in Minn where I grew up bartered farm work as there was not much money. We bartered eggs for groceries, had a large garden, an orchard and we raised pigs to be sold to Hormel's in Austin MN.

After my mother came home it was easier on the family. My Mother made most of our clothing and some from flour sacks and some of our clothing was made from things my Uncle Ernest sent to us. Uncle Ernest was a depot agent for the CNW Railroad and had a good job during the depression.

In 1935 my brother Richard was born. My Mother was 46 and my Father was 53 years old. That was the year my parents lost the farm. In 1936 we moved to a rent farm about 10 miles from Geneva. 1936 was a terribly bad winter with a lot of snow. The neighbors came with their sleds and moved us to our rent farm and they had to shovel the snow for half a mile to get the sleds to our new home.

1936 was the same year that my brother Donald broke the snow ahead of me so that we could walk the half mile to school. My brother Lawrence and a neighbor boy took a horse driven sleigh to the small high school in Geneva. They left the horse at the livery stable and this was a 3 mile trip morning and evening. This was 1936

We moved to a farm of 120 acres that was located 2 miles south of Hope MN. My brother Don finished 8th grade at Dist 76 and I was in 3rd grade. My brother Lawrence and sister Daisy walked across the fields to catch the school bus into Ellendale.

I was a mile from school and I remember during spring thaw that the creek came up over the road. My Dad met Don and I and told us to go back to the railroad and walk the track until we got over the creek. We had to come in the back way and at one point we had to walk the barb wire fence to keep from getting our feet wet.

Things begin getting better starting in 1937. We had a large garden and I helped with picking vegetable, shelling peas, helping around the house and watching my little brother so that my Mother could get the never ending work done. I also started milking cows when I was about 9 years old.

My father was able to purchase a Farmall tractor and plow and he did it on credit using 1/3 of his cream check to pay off the tractor.

We helped our neighbors, we did without a lot of material things, made our own fun by playing cards with neighbors and survived quite well. I learned to sew, embroidery, tat and have always been able to entertain myself without spending money.

I can remember when Franklin Roosevelt was elected President. We went to a neighbors house and listened to the radio. The government at that time started a program called WPA and also the CCC. The WPA helped people earn some money so that they could survive and the CCC took young men without jobs and made bridges, lakes and other things. Three things come to mind in our community. Lake Ponca,the High School North stadium and the Bridge over Black Bear Creek going to Stillwater. These programs put people to work and helped us come out of the depression.

Despite the hard times all the children in my family except my oldest sister Dorothy were able to graduate from High School. Don worked for another farmer his Junior and Senior years in High school and I worked for the Supt of Owatonna High School in my Junior and Senior years.

Many of my friends whose families owned their farms did not finish school but having a High School education was a high priority in our family. My Mother had been a High School graduate from Marion Iowa in 1907 and had been a school teacher for 5 years. My father born in 1882 finished grade school and his last English book was McGuffys

This is a strong country and we can put our minds to our problems and come out of this with a better knowledge of how to take care of ourselves. But we have to get back to helping each other and getting our priorities right.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

How we lived in the 1940's

    We were talking yesterday Nov 30 2007 about how we lived in the 40's on the farm.  I remember living 5 miles south of Owatonna on a 360 acre farm and how we had to do some of the work.  First off the water pump was at the bottom of a small hill and we had to carry water up the hill for use in the house.  I think my father used to bring a couple of pails of water to the house when he finished milking in the morning.  One probably went into the resevoir  in the wood burning cook stove and the other was used for drinking water.  We  drank water out of the pail but we always used our own cup.

    I think we had a cistern on this farm and we probably pumped water by hand  into the kitchen sink to wash our hands.  We all used a common linen towel to dry our hands.  We did not have any way to drain the water out so we had a slop bucket under the kitchen sink and you had to watch that it didn't overflow.

    When wash day came around in the winter time the water was heated on top of the wood burning stove in a large copper bottomed boiler.  The white clothes were put in to boil and then later the water was dumped into the washing machine to wash the rest of the clothes. By this time my Mother had a washing machine powered by a Briggs and Stratton motor. Some times in the winter the clothes were hung outside to dry.  They would freeze almost dry and then were brought into our dining room and hung up to finish drying.  If I remember correctly my Mother had a iron that was powered by gasoline instead of the old sad irons that you heated on the stove.

    The next farm we lived on which was  about 5 miles from the farm near Owatonna had a cistern under the house.  When it started to rain you would let the water run out of the gutters for a few minutes and then you had a little lever that you pushed and diverted the clean water into the cistern.  I did not live with my folks on this farm as I had finished High School and was on my own about 3 months after they had moved there.

    That was a way of life that is gone now and I thought I had better write it down so that my children and grandchildren would know a little bit more about life when I was young.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Telegraph operator and Tricks - 1944 - 1946

    In June of 1944 I graduated from High School and found my first job working for a hide, fur, wool and tallow company as an assistant bookkeeper.  I did some filing  and there were people in various small towns in Minnesota that were buying wool.  I had to check their papers to see that they had the figures right on the amount of wool that they were buying.  My pay for the job was $14.00 a week.  My room and breakfast was $2.50 a week.  I would buy a food ticket at a restaurant for $5.00 and my noon meals were $.40 and that was a big meal.  I saved $10.00 a week and after working 8 weeks my job was over.  I then borrowed $150.00 from my parents so that I could attend radio school in Minneapolis  and obtain a better paying job.

    My mother went with me and Myrtle Olson to Minneapolis on the train, rented a hotel room for one night, enrolled me in school and my friend and I found jobs that day to support ourselves .  Myrtle went to work running some kind of a machine in a defense plant and I found a job at a cafe located at 6th and Hennepin in downtown Minneapolis.  The  hours were from 5 p.m. to 10 p m. seven days a week.  My pay was 40 cents an hour plus a few tips.  It was a combination cigar store and lunch counter but we did serve meals.  Mostly it was  ice cream and  sodas and coffee and sandwiches.  But we did also serve meals or so called plate lunches.    

    We found a room at 2433 Emerson Ave South and it had a hot plate in it so we could do some cooking.  The sink was out in the hall and the bathroom was down a flight of stairs.  So we did a little cooking.  There was a washing machine in the basement and we had to put a quarter in to make it run.  Also had an ironing board in the basement so was easy to take care of our clothing.   The room was located a block from the street car line and was 24 blocks south of downtown Minneapolis.  I went to school 5 days a week from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and would come home and study for an hour and then go to work and then come back home and study some more.  Myrtle was working nights so our paths didn’t cross much.

    We learned the international code in school, how to use teletype machines, typing practice and practiced making  airline reservations.  We also studied radio theory and took a test to obtain our amateur radio license.  Had to over to St Paul and take the test in a Federal Building and I passed it.

    In Oct of 1944 seventeen students in the radio school were hired by the Santa Fe Railroad to learn railroad telegraphy.  Our tickets were paid for and off we went to Chicago.  We went through Madison Wisconsin and came into Chicago in the early morning hours  There was miles and miles of industrial area on the way into Chicago.  We went to the Santa Fe  headquarters in Chicago and were hired and given a choice of states that we  could go to.  I picked Oklahoma as I wanted to see some of the country and I had an Aunt living in Elk City that I had never seen.  We spent the day in downtown Chicago and we saw Lake Michigan and we went through the art institute and walked around downtown.

    We found our way to the Dearborn Station and boarded Santa Fe train no 5 on our way to Oklahoma.   The train was crowded with sailors, soldiers and young mothers with crying children.  After 17 long hours on the train we arrived in Arkansas City Kansas the Okla Division headquarters for the Santa Fe. We went to the Train dispatchers office and Maurice Fultz assigned us to the town where we would take our training.  I picked Cherokee Okla , the county seat of Alfalfa  county and it was located in the heart of the wheat country.

    The next morning we left Arkansas City on train No 27.  We came through Ponca City and a lady on the train said this is Ponca City.  We went right down through the refinery on the train  and that was an eye opener.  Betty Soper and I de-trained at Guthrie and had a 3 hour layover.  We walked uptown and it was dirty and red dirt all over.

    We boarded the doodlebug going from Guthrie to Kiowa Kansas and that was another education.  The doodlebug was a gasoline powered train that had a place for express and a mail section and the rest was passenger seats.  My friend Betty disembarked at Crescent and I went on to Cherokee.  I went through Marshall, Lovell, Enid, Hillsdale, Nash , Jet and then Cherokee.  The train traveled through the south edge of the Salt Plains.  It looked like the middle of a desert and the Native Americans used to come to the Salt Plains to get salt in the old days.  I arrived at Cherokee about 3 p.m. and the depot agent took me to a small hotel.  I started work the next morning which was  Oct 18th 1944.

    I was able to purchase some new shoes and some nice winter clothing and made some friends while in Cherokee.  I stayed at the hotel for about 3 weeks and then found a room in a private home.  I stayed there for a couple of months and then found a different room.  Then the last month or so had a nice apartment with a friend and we had a stove and a ice box and did a lot of our cooking.  I stayed in Cherokee about 5 months and then was sent to Newkirk Okla on the main line so that I could learn how to copy train orders on the company telephone and how to run the interlocking plant.  The interlocking plant was used to move the trains from one set of tracks to another.  You pulled a  lever inside the depot and then you pulled another lever to let the train know that the switch was pulled the right way.   Stayed in Newkirk about a month and then was promoted to be a telegraph operator.

    My first job was as third trick operator at Ralston Okla.  Ralston was down on the old Second Dist and had a branch line going to Pawhuska and onto the Southern Kansas Division.  We were working the stock rush and cattle trains came into Ralston and then went into the small towns in the southern part of the Flint Hills to be unloaded.  These trains came out of Texas and the cattle were fed on the rich bluegrass before going to market.  Let me explain about tricks.  First trick was from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Second trick was from 4 p.m. to 12 p.m. and third trick was from 12 p.m. to 8 a.m.  On the main line most of the towns had 3 tricks as they had around the clock coverage for copying train orders and messages.  The operators also sold tickets, wrote up the ticket ledger and depending on where you worked you would also write up freight bills and abstracts. 

    My next job was a Red Rock Okla on the third trick and I copied train orders and cleaned the depot and caught mice.  I stayed there for a couple of months and the main reason I was there was to copy train orders.  The train orders were put out so that trains could meet each other at specific places.  One train would take the siding and the other would be on the main line.  There were siding tracks on the main line where there was not any town at all.  Kildare did not have an operator nor did Otoe , but they had sidings and trains met there.   Starting in about 1955 the Santa Fe installed Centralized Traffic Control and the switches and green boards were controlled by the dispatcher in Arkansas City.  A green board says you can go and a red board says stop.  Just like on the street signals.  This speeded up the trains and did away with the telegraph operators.

    My next job was third trick operator at Cherokee Okla for the wheat harvest.  It was a job for about 2 months and then was back on the extra board again.  The extra board was for operators that didn’t have a permanent job and we relieved operators and agents for their vacations.  Vacations were for 2 weeks at that time so when I was on the extra board, it was moving every two weeks.  The wheat rush at Cherokee was very busy.  Custom combines came into  Cherokee from the south and stayed for about 10 days harvesting the wheat.  The combines then moved on north all the way to Montana for the wheat harvest.  Wheat trains one after the other came into Cherokee on the way to the wheat terminal at Enid Okla.  That still goes on to this day but not so much as it was 60 years ago.

    I next went to Shawnee Okla on first trick for a two week vacation and had to sell a lot of local railroad tickets there.  Then I came back on the branch line and relieved the Agent at Hillsdale for her vacation.  Didn’t have much to do there but bill out a car of wheat ever so often and meet the doodlebug and take off the cream cans and express and mail.  I next went to Nash and relieved the agent.  It was about Oct and had to keep the pot bellied stove supplied with coal and   had to be sure and remember the combination to the safe.  I think I had to take the mail uptown and of course the usual express and cream to be unloaded. 

    I then went to Burlington Okla and relieved the agent there.  Burlington was a small busy little town and they got a carload of stuff in every week and so had to get the box car unloaded and the man came with his truck and hauled the stuff to the small business places.  Had to get the freight bills typed up in a hurry so he could collect the money on the freight.  The good thing about the small towns was that you just worked 6 days a week and didn’t have to work on Sunday.

    I had learned my bookkeeping well and the agents soon begin to ask for me to relieve them as I didn’t mess up the books.  Will tell you more next time as I just got through 1946 on this report.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

My Twenties - 1946 - 1958

    I bid in a job on second trick at Shawnee OK probably in Dec 1945.  The yard office was located about1 ½ miles from the south part of Shawnee at that time.  Trains came in from Pauls Valley on the GCSF portion of the railroad.  I worked with the dispatcher out of Ark City and also out of Ft worth.  Trains crews came in and laid over until they had another train load to go back north or south.  There was a railroad hotel at south Shawnee and a restaurant.  The GCSF  train crews came up from Gainesville Tx.  I could listen in on the dispatchers phone and hear the train orders put out between Purcell and Gainesville.  At that time they had helper engines located at Davis and Ardmore to take the trains over the mountains located south of Davis Okla.

    I had to call train crews to go to work and I copied lots of messages both from Ft worth and Ark City on the telegraph wire.  There were 2 types of messages, one was a preferred message and the other a day message.  Some things were more important than others.

    I roomed with Mr. and Mrs. Jeff Thomas a 221 S Philadelphia St in Shawnee.  They lived about 2 blocks from downtown Shawnee.  I went to work at 3 p.m. and finished at 11 p.m. except during stock rush.  I helped Mrs. Thomas with the washing and ate Sunday dinner with them.  She was one fantastic cook.  The job was easy until stock rush and then we were really busy.  I copied consists of trains and where the cattle were going and when they needed to be watered.  Shawnee was the place they unloaded the cattle to be watered.  The cattle had been in stock cars about 30 hours when they arrived at South Shawnee.  They were shipped from various places west of Ft worth and were destined to go to the Flint Hills in southeastern Kansas to be fattened on the native bluegrass.  I did not see the little towns in Kansas until a few years ago.  Moline, Matfield Green, Burden and Cottonwood Falls are among the small towns where the cattle were finally unloaded.  I have always thought the Flint Hills in Kansas are one of the most unique places in the United States.

    I finished working in south Shawnee about the first of May and then went to Ralston to relieve the agent for his vacation.  After working in Ralston for 2 weeks I went to Marshall for about 3 weeks and then went to Cherokee to work the wheat rush again.  I finished  at Cherokee in August and then went back to Minn for about 10 days.  I had not been home in 18 months and was glad to see my family and my new nephews.  I had not seen Daisy’s boys.  Dale was about 3, Dean was 2 and Dennis was a baby.  Daisy had her hands more than full.  Think they lived by New Richland at that time.

    This was late August when I was in Minn and a strong cold front had came in.  I was wearing a wool suit and it felt very comfortable.  However I started back to Oklahoma and when the train arrived in Kansas City at 11 p.m. the temperature was 105 degrees.  I knew I was back in the south again.  My first job back was the Ponca City first trick.  I had an apprentice helping and it was a busy job.  Sold tickets for 3 passenger trains and the phone rang all the time.  I went out to Wentz pool and got wet.  There were station wagons going out from downtown every hour to the pool.  Very convenient because young people didn’t have cars in 1946.

    Then I went to Guthrie on 2nd trick after working at Ponca City and then over to Enid yard office for a couple of weeks.  Came over to Perry and worked about a month and then I worked at Marshall again.  I ended up on third trick at Guthrie that winter and stayed for a couple of months.  Guthrie was a killer of a job.  Copied about 40 train orders every night and then I had to write up the ticket ledger and usually had about 35 messages on the teletype.  I sold tickets for 2 passenger trains and people came from Stillwater at the last minute to buy tickets going every where.  On top of that I typed up about 30 freight bills after 5 a.m. in the morning.  The next operator that came in told the agent there was no way he was going to do all that work and he didn’t have to do it.

    After finishing work at Guthrie I was due a two week vacation and so went to Minn again.  The folks  were living about one mile north and east of Hope at that time.  I received a letter from my friend Helen Alford that the Newkirk-Ponca City swing job was up for bid.  I sent my bid in on the job and I was the high bidder.  I came to work on the job April 7 1947.  I met Dale the first night on the job and he asked me for a date the following Sunday evening.  He was wearing fancy cowboy boots and was tall and skinny.  Think he weighed about 145 pounds.

    The summer of 1947 the Santa Fe  railroad was doing a lot of repair work to the tracks and to the signals.  They had a huge work  crew and also a signal crew at Newkirk.  The men lived in converted box cars while working on the track.  I went out with Dale ever so often but also went out with some other guys.  A group of us roller skated about 3 times a week at the Newkirk skating rink.  Had lots of fun that summer and I worked hard at my job.  I begin to learn the ticket tariffs and I sold lots of tickets at Ponca City going every where in the United States.  Ponca was a town of about 16000 at that time.

    I worked on Saturdays first trick Ponca.  Sunday first trick Newkirk, Monday Newkirk evening shift, Tuesday Ponca  evening shift, Wednesday Newkirk third trick and Thursday Ponca third trick.  I worked this job until I took maternity leave in July of 1949.

    Dale and I dated for a year and a half before we married on Sept 5 1948.  We were married in Pauls Valley Okla at his sister Lelda’s.  Dale and Lelda’s Aunt Francis and her husband  George Forrester showed up unannounced at Lelda’s house about 11 a.m. on the day we were married.  They had been on a toot and Lelda and her Mother were pissed off good.  Here I was 21 years old and I made small talk with Francis until she left.  She was expecting a baby and I heard all about how she was the black sheep of the family.  Found out years later that one other Aunt and one other Uncle and a couple of Dale’s cousins liked the sauce very well.  They all tried to hide it from me..How funny

    We bought a house at 437 Fairview in August of 1949 and lived at that address for 21 years.  It was a new two bedroom house with a covered breezeway a one car garage and a acre of ground.  We were told what a horrible mistake it was for us to buy  that house but it was a good decision.  I had a garden and Eddie had lots of room to play in.  the Kay County Health Center sits on that piece of ground now.

    I went back to work when Hugh was 8 weeks old.  I didn’t drive a car at that time so Dale took me to work or I called a taxi.  Dale was working from 6 p.m. until 2 a.m. and he would feed Hugh when he got home from work.  It was very hard but I had an automatic washer and that helped.  My job was very demanding and seems like I was short of sleep all the time.  I learned to drive a 1951 Packard with an automatic shift when I was 25 years old.  Then in 1954 we had an Oldsmobile 98 Holiday.  That was a very nice car.

    I would go to Minn on vacation and take Hugh with me.  We went in the early part of Dec when Hugh was 14 months old.  We arrived in Owatonna and stayed with Daisy and Don for a few days.  Then we got on the train to go to St Paul and the train was late.  I missed my train out of St Paul so I sent a telegram to my Dad at Willow River telling him I was on the bus.  I don’t remember how I got to the bus station in St Paul but I was familiar with the cities.  My Dad and Richard met me and we drove out to the farm.  We were snowed in for 5 days and then it was time to go back to Ponca.  We arrived in St Paul and caught the Rock Island to Kansas City.  The train was late into Kansas City and I knew there was a Pullman car on No 23 still out in the yard.  I got some milk for Eddie and found a porter.  We ran down the tracks , me with Ed and the porter with my suitcase.  I bought a lower berth from the conductor and undressed Ed and put him to bed with his bottle. He had cried a little but then went off to sleep.  We woke the next morning, dressed and were in Ponca City.  A man in the upper berth remarked about how well Ed slept.  Can you imagine traveling that way?  We were a better country years ago in a lot of ways.

    .We both enjoyed Hugh and watched him grow up strong and sturdy.  He was a bright little button and he used to sit by his record player when he was 3 years old and play one record over and over.  I didn’t realize that he had a good ear for music.  His singing voice was deep and strong by the time he was 8 years old.  We enrolled Hugh in Lutheran School KG when he was 5 years old and he attended Lutheran School until the end of 4th grade.  Mrs. Smith was his baby sitter until he was 9 years old.  Gram and Peggy helped also.

    Dale’s family thought I should stay home and not go back to work after Hugh was born.  Dale and I didn’t pay much attention and lived our life the way we wanted.  They gave up trying to control after a few years but they would express some critical opinions from time to time.

    I learned to drive a car when I was 25 years old and that made it so much easier for me to work and do my shopping.  Dale had 2 buddies that he went quail hunting with in the fall and sometimes he would go trout line fishing in warm weather.  One morning I got up to go to work and Dale and Ralph Brown had been down on the Red Rock creek running bank lines.  I looked in the bath tub and there were 2 large catfish.   They had gone down after getting off work at 2 a.m. and there was no time to clean them.  That was an unusual surprise.

    Life rocked along through my 20’s.  I had major surgery when I was 28 years old.  We bought a boat and did some water skiing.  We were partners in a cabin with Walt and Jean Cobb.  Dale and Walt built a cabin out of lava bricks and it is still out at Lake Ponca in good condition.

    My brother Richard was killed in a car wreck in 1957.  He was 21  years old at that time.  I went to Minn for the funeral and still get upset thinking about it.  I was still working  as a telegraph operator for the Santa Fe but CTC had been installed and train business was falling off.  I could see that it would be a matter of time and my job would be abolished.  Dale owned a couple of school bus routes and had messed with a freight hauling business and a Fairmont milk route.  Will write about my 30’s in the next installment.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

High School Memories - 1940 - 1944

    In March of 1940 my family who were dairy farmers moved to a different rent farm that contained 320 acres.  My brother Larry had finished High School and we needed a larger farm as our dairy herd was much larger.  I had skipped 4th grade and finished  8th grade at age 13 in 1940.

    My parents decided that I would live with my sister Dorothy and her family and attend school in Ellendale, a consolidated school with about 30 students in each class.  The school had a good library and electric sewing machines in the Home Ec department.  I was happy to be in a larger school as I loved to read and would check out every new book that came in.  I read gone With the Wind that year and took it home so my sis could read it.

    Some of the girls were a little bit mean and cruel but I just ignored them and stuck my nose in a book.  I already knew how to sew clothing and how to cook simple things.  Some of the mean girls really messed up in Home Ec and I had the last laugh.  The first year of High School was a little bit miserable.

    My second, third and fourth years of High School were spent in our county seat town of Owatonna.  It was a small industrial city with a population of about 5000.  I stayed home my second year of High school and car pooled with two neighbor to Owatonna.  Elaine, the neighbor girl was 18 years old and a senior in school.  Elaine took me under her wing and helped me make some new friends.  I really liked Owatonna High School.

    On Dec 7, 1941  Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and the world as we knew it changed forever.  My brother Donald enlisted in the navy and was placed in radio school.  He was assigned to the submarine Robalo.  He spent 2 years in service before being reported missing in action in 1944.  His submarine the Robalo left Freemantle Australia on a mission and did not return.  Don’s death was a terrible loss to our family and me at 17 years of age.

    The next 2 years of high School were spent working for my room and board and going to school.  I was fortunate in that I worked for the Supt of our High School.  They had two small boys in the family that I helped take care of and I helped with the cleaning, cooking and ironing.  At that time I was introduced to classical music which has been a life long pleasure to me.

    One of my favorite teachers in high School was Mr Eder.  He was my Latin teacher and a tough taskmaster indeed.  He would not allow you to come to class unprepared.  The boys who would mess with the other teachers came to Mr Eder’s class and were real gentleman.  Mr Eder was probably a master teacher and Mr Burt the Supt of Schools would mention at home how well he liked Mr Eder.  I think he would use Mr Eder as a sounding board when he had problems as Mr Eder was probably 60 years old at that time.  He could and did teach French, Latin and Spanish.

    I liked High School and learning new things.  I have continued to learn all my life and still enjoy reading and learning.

    These are a few  stories about High School days.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Our Neighbors Where I Grew Up

I am now going talk about some of our close neighbors.  Emma and Chris U had a retarded son Laurie who was able to do farm work but was not able to do school work.  Emma’s Mother Mrs Peterson lived upstairs in the house and none of the neighbors ever saw her.  That is except me.  When I stopped at Emma’s  house on the way to pick up mail Emma would take me upstairs to see grandmother Peterson.  I was 6 or 7 years old at the time and think Grandmother Peterson must have liked small children.  I told Mother that when I was an adult and she said none of the neighbors ever saw Mrs Peterson.  Chris U would see cars coming to our house and he liked to quiz me about who my sister’s boy friends were.  Little as I was I knew better than to tell him.

    Mettie the other neighbor that I visited had come over from Denmark about 1913 or 1914.  Her husband in Denmark had abused her and somehow she saved enough money to come to America.  She knew she had a sister living at Ellendale Minn and she came to New York and then to Ellendale by train.  A lot of people spoke Danish so finding her sister was no problem.  She married Chris Hammerholt and the one thing I was instructed not to ask was why her son’s name was Chris Lindorf and her husband’s name was Hammerholt.

    We had another neighbor who had 5 boys and I can still hear Mrs Paulson’s voice in my head.  She had such a distinctive voice.  Her two oldest boys Vernon and Maurice used to ride horses to our house and visit with my brothers.  They were in the same grade in school as my brothers.  One day Russell the middle son told his Mother he was sick and couldn’t go to school.  Mrs Paulson made him stay in bed all day.  She didn’t put up with any foolishness.  The neighbors all laughed about that.

    One day our teacher Miss Vaughn had to go somewhere and she had a neighbor girl substitute for her.  She warned us ahead of time that Roberta Carr had to go to the outside toilet frequently and we should not say anything.  That was in the day before antibiotics and suppose she had a bladder infection.  Roberta’s brother was in the Philippines at the start of World War 2 and he survived the Bataan death march.

    Our school Dist 64 was a one room school with a basement.  One day the teacher noticed honey bees in the basement.  They called my Father and he came to school wearing a straw hat with a curtain over it and something to smoke out the bees.  He opened up the boards in the basement and took out the honey.  Each child went home with a lard bucket full of honey.  We used lard buckets for our lunch pails.  Nothing fancy for us.

    I started school when I was 6 years old and learned to read almost at once.  The teacher had flash cards with  words on them and after she had gone through the cards one time I had the words memorized.  I would then tell her the next word before it came up.  How funny.  I was a little upset in first grade because I could do the third grade math and I thought I should be something more difficult.  A one room school is quite interesting to a small child because you are able to listen to the upper grades recite and you really learned fast.

    My brother Donald was in 6th grade when I started school.  He would delight in making faces at me if I turned around to look at him.  Of course I would laugh and the teacher would scold me.  I shared 3 years of grade school and one year of High School with him.  Little did I know that I would never see him after I was 16 years old.  He never returned from a submarine mission in 1944.

    When there wasn’t anything better to do in school we practiced penmanship.  We made circles and ups and downs and all kinds of interesting stuff.  Think it was called Palmer Penmanship.  It didn’t help my writing much and I was tired of it after 10 minutes.

    My brother Lawrence was in 8th grade when I started school.  He was the protective older brother.  About 12 years ago we were eating in a cafe in Hoper Minn and he introduced me to someone as little sis.  I was about 67 years old at that time.

    My Mother was probably the best educated farm woman in our small community.  She had graduated from Marion High School in Marion Iowa in 1907.  She had normal training and taught school for 5 years.  She met my Father when she was staying with Uncle Jim Hagerman and teaching school at No 9 Dist.  They had run several school teachers off but not my Mother.  She was 5 ft 10 inches tall and the first day of school she sat a 17 year old boy down in his seat hard , when he was stupid enough to sass her.

    My Mother and Father had both traveled by train in the United States.  My Father had been back east to Williamsport Pa with his cousins Rob Hagerman and Mary Beggs to visit cousins in the area.  My Mother had been to Hot Springs South Dakota to visit her Aunt and cousins.  Their last names were Englebert.  My Father had also worked at Duncan Arizona and when he came back to Iowa he said it took all day on the train from El Paso. Mads Goldfelt and we think he was of the Jewish faith.  He came to America and changed his name to Chris Madison.  This is a little more about my childhood.

Working for Gran Wilker - 1941

Working for Gran Wilker

    Gran Wilker was not related to me, she was my sister Daisy’s mother in law.  The summer I was 16 Gran Wilker fell and broke her arm.  She and her son Melvin farmed and Gran was unable to do her work as usual.

    Melvin came over to my parent’s house to see if I could come over and help them out for about 6 weeks.  The pay was $4.00 a week.  I went upstairs to pack my clothes and then went with Melvin to their farm  east of Owatonna.  I probably helped cook supper and washed dishes that evening.

    The next morning at 6 a.m. the work begin.  First I got up and helped fix breakfast under Mrs Wilkers supervision.  Then I washed the dishes and swept the kitchen floor.  The next job was to go outside and was the cream separator.  Each little disk had to be washed in order and put back in order or the separator would not work.

    Mrs  Wilker has 1000 baby chickens so my next job was to clean all the watering jars and fill them with water.  The water jars were quart fruit jars with a  special bottom on them.  You turned the jars upside down and the water came out slowly as the chicks drank from it.  Every few days I cleaned the brooder house and every day I removed the dead chicks.

    The next job outside was to gather the eggs from the adult chicken nests preferably without getting pecked by the hens.  I then brought the eggs inside, cleaned if necessary and put the eggs in the egg crates.  Most all the farmers wives had small flocks of chickens and the housewife brought groceries with the egg money and whatever money was left over belonged to the housewife.  Hence the words egg money.  After gathering the eggs I had to clean the chicken house and fill the feeders and watering cans.

    I THEN CAME INSIDE AND SOME DAYS I CLEANED HOUSE, SOME DAYS I IRONED CLOTHES AND I ALWAYS HELPED FIX DINNER AND THEN WASHED AND DRIED THE DISHES.  About every other day I helped Mrs Wilker take a bath and I always helped her get dressed in the morning.  After I finished the dishes at noon Gran would say. “Don’t you want to go upstairs and take a nap?”  Gran Wilker has immigrated from Norway and learned English after coming to America.  Gran’s favorite reading material was True Stories, True Confessions, and True romance.  My Mother a former school teacher thought those magazines were trash and wouldn’t let me read them.  But Gran Wilker said” Don’t you want to read my magazines Deloris?”  Gran had a stack of these magazines about a foot tall and I spent my nap time immersed in those magazines all summer.  I never told my Mother about the reading material.

    We went to town shopping once a week and Gran brought home a new magazine every week along with the groceries.  I spent 6 weeks helping out and learned how to cook a lot of good things including how to make dumplings without a receipt.  Gran’s daughter Helen came out every Sunday and did the washing.  I hung the clothing outside on a line and then brought them in, folded and dampened the things to be ironed.  I ironed with a cast iron sad iron.  You had a set of 3 with a removable handle.  You ironed with one while the others were getting hot on the cook stove and you had to change about every 10 minutes.

    I went back home about 3 weeks before school started.  I had made enough money to buy my school clothes and had spending money for about 3 months.  I decided at that time that I would never live on a farm and work that hard.  I guess I was chickened out.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

My First Home - 1925 - 1936

My first Home
    I remember more about how we lived in my first home than the appearance of the house.  My first recollection is sitting on a chair in the kitchen with my feet in a pan of hot water.  I had stepped on a nail embedded in a board.  My sister Dorothy was soaking my feet in hot water, then she proceeded to pour kerosene into the open wound.  Kerosene was used as a germ killer in my childhood.

    The next thing I remember is getting a spanking from my Father.  I had watched my Mother break an egg and pour the egg back and forth between the two shells of the egg.  We had chickens on the farm and I had gone down to the chicken house and cracked several eggs and mixed them up like my Mother did.  I think I did it once and received a scolding.  The second time I broke the eggs I was spanked.  That was the last time I tried breaking eggs.

    One of the fun experiences I had as a child was sneaking off to a small slough close to the road.  I very carefully removed my clothing, hung them on a willow tree and jumped up and down in the cold murky water.  I never did get my hair wet or get caught in the act.

    I had 2 brothers, Donald was 4 years older and Larry was 8 years older than I.  My brothers were experimenting with smoking corn silks one day.  They would send me to the kitchen to get matches and I would bring the matches back outside to the summer kitchen.  My Mother must have been taking a nap.  We didn’t get caught messing with the matches either.

    The farm we lived on the first 8 years of my life contained 80 acres.  I had the run of the farm along with my dog Cindy.  In the summer time I checked out the robin who had built her nest in a worn out grain binder.  I watched the baby Robins grow to large for the nest and mama taught them to fly.  One day I found a pheasant nest with baby pheasants in it.  The Mother pheasant chased me, but I picked up the baby birds in my skirt and took them to the house.  My Mother put the baby birds with a sitting hen and she raised them.  In the fall the pheasants flew away to the cedar trees.

    When I reached the ripe old age of 6, my job was to go after the mail.  The mail box was ½ mile from the house.  Russell the neighbor boy would meet me at the road and we walked and talked all the way to the mail box and back.  In later years I told my sister Dorothy about going to the mail box with Russell.   He was the youngest in a family of eight children.  Only two ever married as their Father was very controlling and the children were shy.  In High School Russell would not visit with the other students.  My sis was surprised that Russell talked to me.

    We didn’t have much money or material things as my childhood was in the middle of the great depression.  However we always had good shoes and good food to eat.  My Mother made my dresses and snow suits.  My Uncle Ernie was a depot agent and he would send my Mother clothing and she would remake clothing for us.

    In 1936 we had a winter with a lot of snow.  Donald would break the waist deep snow so that we could go to school.  Sometimes we skied with wooden skies that fit over our overshoes.  My sister Daisy who was 17 years old contacted pneumonia that winter and laid in bed for 6 weeks with a 104 temperature.  The Doctor came to the house every day and cupped her on the back to break up the congestion.  He lived in a small town 5 miles from us and because of the deep snow used a horse and sleigh to get to the farms.  That same winter my brother Larry and a neighbor boy drove a single tree sleigh to the High School in Geneva that was3 miles from the farm.  They put the horse in the livery stable until school was dismissed.  The High School had one teacher and the students were there until their senior year.  The last year of High School was spent in a larger school at Ellendale which had about 30 students in each class.

    My Father lost the farm in 1936 and we moved to a rent farm about 10 miles from us.  The neighbors came with their horses and sleds and moved us.  The snow was so deep in March that they had to shovel out one road for almost half a mile.  This finishes a few of my  stories  about my first home.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

High School, Radio School & Railroad Assignments - 1944 - 1946

1944 to 1946
    We lived in some of the coldest houses when I was a child.  I could use an axe and split kindling from the time I was about 9 years old.  The stoves were cast iron and we had a cooking stove in the kitchen and then a heating stove in the living room.  We also used coal in the stoves.  I wore long underwear at least until the 8th grade and also wore long cotton stockings held up by a garter belt.  What a contraption that was.  I did wear snow suits in the winter when I walked 1 ½ miles to school.  I think my mother made one snow suit and then I remember one that was store bought.  My shoes were ordered from Mont Ward catalog and sometimes they fit and sometimes they didn’t.  When I worked that summer for Gran Wilker when I was 16 years old I was able to go to town and buy some nice shoes that fit my feet.  Think they were about $4.00 a pair.

    My mother made most of my clothes in High School.  I remember one  nice red skirt with pleats all the way around and also 2 corduroy outfits with a skirt, vest and slacks.  We were allowed in 1943 and 1944 to wear slacks to school as it was cold walking to school.  I lived with the Supt of our High School and he probably noticed that I was walking to school with only ankle socks in the bitter cold weather.

    Now lets get on with what happened when I went to Minneapolis to go to Radio School.  My Mother myself and my friend Myrtle Olson went to Minneapolis on the train.  Mother rented a Hotel room and then we went down to the Radio School on Lake St and finished my enrollment.  We found a room a 2433 Emerson Ave South which was one block from the street car line.  I found a job that day at a cafe on the corner of 6th and Hennepin in the entertainment dist of Minneapolis. That is where the movie theatres were located.  There was a bowling lane located directly over the cafe in which I worked.  The bowlers would come down for a quick snack and two women that worked for the CNW railroad would come in on their break as well as newspaper people that worked in the area.  One of the bartenders who worked in a bar close by always came in for a chicken sandwich every evening when I worked there.  The men who operated the movie projectors in the area also came in.  Was a real homey bunch.  The street car went by on 6th Ave on its way to St Paul and those people came in for coffee and a snack.  My street car went right down Hennepin Ave to within a block of my room in the third story of the apartment house.

    I went to school at 9 a.m. and finished at 3 p.m. with an hour off for lunch.  My room was about 6 blocks from school and I walked to school and back every day.  I then went downtown on the streetcar and went to work at 4 p.m. until 10 p.m.  On Saturdays and Sundays I worked from 4 to 10 and sometimes filled in for someone that wanted off work.  I learned the international radio code and improved my typing and practiced teletyping.  We also learned Radio Law and theory so that we could receive our Amateur radio License.  I was busy going to school and working.  On Saturday we washed our clothes in the basement.  They had an electric washing machine that you put quarters in to make it buzz.  That was an easy way to do washing.

    In Oct of 1944 after spending 7 weeks in radio School a large group of girls were hired by the Santa Fe Railroad as telegraph apprentices.  We were provided tickets to  Chicago.  We arrived in the morning and then went to the Santa Fe  Headquarters where we were assigned to the state that we wanted to go to.  We spent the rest of the day in downtown Chicago and I remember visiting the Art Institute and we were close to lake Michigan.  I and three other girls picked Oklahoma as the state to work in.

    I told another story about coming to Cherokee Okla as a telegraph apprentice.  I worked at Cherokee from Oct until about the middle of February.  I was then sent to Newkirk to learn how to copy train orders over the phone and how to run the interlocking plant at Newkirk.  I was promoted to telegraph operator in April of 1945.  My first job was at Ralston Okla on the third trick.  Ralston had a branch line of the Santa Fe that came in on the old southern Kans Div from Caney Ks.  In April back in those days cattle were shipped from Texas to be fattened for market on the rich grass of the Osage hills.  They were shipped to Pawhuska and Bowring and unloaded at the ranches in those areas.  The cattle trains came off the old second dist of the Okla div of the Santa Fe.  They came through Pauls Valley to Shawnee and then to Ralston.  They tried to keep the cattle trains off the main line as this was a seasonal business that lasted about 4 weeks.  They had to unload the cattle trains every 36 hours to water the cattle.  Shawnee was the place where lots of cattle were unloaded and watered.

    I worked at Ralston about 3 weeks and then went to Red Rock for about 2 months.  They needed a third trick operator to copy train orders whenever a train got stuck for time waiting for another train.  There were 4 classes of trains on the railroad.  The passenger trains were 1st class trains and had the right of way over all other trains.  The 2nd class trains were the red Ball trains with loads of important things like refg cars with meat, fruit and vegetables  ,lumber steel and so forth.  Next were your drag trains without a number that carried wheat, gravel chat and non perishable commodities.  The last classification were the local trains they switched the elevators and dropped off cars at the house tracks at the small towns along the line.

    I next went back to Cherokee Okla in June of 1945 to work the third trick job during wheat harvest.  Cherokee is in the middle of the wheat country and in 1945 custom combines came in from the south and worked their way north to Montana.  They would stay in one community about 10 days and then move on.  There were 2 big elevators in Cherokee and I can’t remember how many car loads of wheat they shipped out but it was sometimes 25 cars a day.  Cherokee had a branch line coming in from the south that started in Presidio Tx.  We received car loads of wheat from Thomas, Fairview, Carmen and Yawed by the train load going to the Enid terminal elevators.  Also had wheat trains coming out of Kiowa Ks.  Wheat harvest was indeed a busy time.

    The war ended in Aug of 1945 and the night the war ended the armory in Cherokee opened up for a dance and all the people came to listen to the music and dance.  I guess we thought all our problems in the world were over.  At that time we did not know what happened to the Jews in Germany or how terrible the conditions were in Russia.

    I finished working in Cherokee in the middle of August and was sent to Shawnee to relieve the operator in the uptown station.  There was a doodlebug train running from Ark City to Pauls Valley Okla.  The train came into Shawnee about 9:30 a.m. from Pauls Valley and the other train from the north came in about 1:00 p.m.  There were a lot of people coming in from the south to shop in Shawnee and I sold a lot of tickets every day.  It was a busy job with a lot of office work.

    The next job I worked was the third trick at Cushing.  I had to learn how to operate the teletype machine.  Mostly it was just learning the forms that I had to learn to send messages.  I also had to write up abstracts, but that was easy thanks to Joe at Cherokee who had taught me that.

    If I remember correctly the next jobs I worked were at Hillsdale ,Nash and Burlington Okla.  These were on the Enid dist and I relieved the agents for their vacations.  I worked those jobs in Nov or Dec and the important thing to learn was how to start a fire in a pot bellied stove and how to bank it so you didn’t have to start a new fire every morning.  I had to sweep the depot and carry out the ashes and bring in coal from the coal shed.  I think I dumped the ashes in the middle of the tracks.  The jobs were easy and I didn’t have much to do.  I sat around and tatted and embroidered and taught myself to knit.  I would maybe bill out a car of wheat and take mail off the doodlebug and take it to the post office.  I was learning more and think my next job was at Edmond Okla on the main line.

    I worked at Edmond Okla for several weeks and would take the trolley to Okla City almost every day and look around.  The trolley went right through Nichols Hills and am glad I was able to do that.  I had to type up freight bills and do some accounting work at Edmond.  I did copy a lot of train orders at Edmond as it was mid way between Guthrie and Okla City.  There was one passenger train that stopped at Edmond.  It was No 27 and came in about 7 a.m.  There were lots of mice in the Edmond depot and I spent some time trapping them.  From Edmond I bid in a job at So Shawnee yard office.  Will tell you about Shawnee in my next writing.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My Mother Keeps Me Busy - 1936 - 1940

My Mother Keeps  Me Busy       

    We lived on a rent farm called the Johnson place 2 miles south of Hope Minn from 1936 to 1940.  I was 8 years old at the time we moved to this farm.

    I was about 9 years old when my Mother taught me to tat.  Tatting is a lace made with a small shuttle and your left hand is the loom.  Oh what a difficult skill it turned out to be.  You wrap the no 30 crochet thread around your left hand and then by using the shuttle you make what is called in macramé a larks head knot.   The knot have to slip on the thread that you hold in your left hand or you have a hard knot that has to be picked out or it won’t work.  I made lots of hard knots that had to be taken out and worked in the correct manner.  Finally I learned how to make the lace and from then on would make a little of it every year.

    I was about 58 years old when I was urged to teach a tatting class.  An elderly woman lived nearby my daughter on Virginia Ave and I felt certain that she was an expert at creating tatting.  She told me to come to her house and she would share her expertise with me.  I visited her about 6 times and my skill level and knowledge increased ten fold. I taught the class and I had one student that learned, practiced and became proficient at tatting.  After teaching the class I decided to design a small piece of tatting and take it to the Blackwell Fair.  The small piece of tatting consumed about 100 hours of my time.  However I won a blue ribbon at the Blackwell Fair.

    The following year I entered the tatting in the Okla City Fair and came home with a Red ribbon.  This came about by learning a difficult skill as a young child.

    I started another project when I was about 10 years old.  If I remember correctly I read an article in the Farmer’s Wife magazine about how to weave a rug.  The instructions were in the magazine and I proceeded to make my loom.  I grubbed up 4 lath boards, which were used behind your walls as a base to which plaster was applied, for my loom.  I put nails into the short sides so I could string my threads around the nails.  I used binder twine for my warp threads and my weaving threads. 

    I don’t remember how many days I spent making the rug but I did finish it and my Mother used it in front of the kitchen door to help keep dirt out of the house.

    Binder twine was used in our oats binder machine to wrap around the golden oats when it was cut in the filed.  The wrapped oats were called bundles.  We then had to gather the bundles together and make them into shocks.  We used about 6 bundles for each shock and they were shaped into the form of a pyramid.  The reason we shocked the oats was so the men could pitch the shocks into a high sideboard wagon and bring to the barn yard to the thrashing machine.  The golden oats straw was belched out of a long metal spout to the straw stack and the oats fell into the grain wagon.  When the grain wagon was full it was taken to the grainery and unloaded by muscle power with a long handled scoop shovel.

    The straw was made into a stack with a wooden platform as a base.  I remember pigs rooting the straw out of the stack and using the straw stack as a resting place.

    The binder twine was made out of hemp and the twine was also used to make ropes by twisting 2 lengths together and dropping it to the ground to twist.  Enough about binder twine oats and the rug.

    When I was in my mid 60’s I read an article in Threads magazine about weaving a small necklace.  I bought some Styrofoam tile and pushed bankers pins in it to make a loom.  I used linen thread for my warp and I used embroidery thread for my weaving.  I inserted beads into my warp threads and also did a little tatting with beads inserted in the tatting.  I also entered this  necklace in the Okla City Fair and came home with another blue ribbon.  The things I learned and persisted at as a child turned into enjoyable hobbies when I reached adulthood.  I think you can do almost anything if you keep working and try to finish your projects.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Johnson Place - 1936

The Johnson place
In March of 1936 we moved to a rent farm called the Johnson place 2 miles south of hope MN. I was in 3rd grade and Don was in 8th grade..This was a smaller school than dist 64, one room with a coat and lunch pail room at the entrance, a pump for water and a sink. A coal furnace and a coal shed outside, also 2 out houses, one for boys and one for girls.

Our teacher was Elaine Eggers and my brother Don was up to his usual teasing and gave her fits. This is the winter we had so much snow and when the spring melt arrived there was water every where..One day Don and I started our usual route home and our Father was coming up the road to meet us. The creek was running over the road under the melting snow pack. He told us to go back and walk the railroad tracks so we could get over the water. Then we had to come home over a muddy field. At one point we had to grab the upper wire of a barbed wire fence and walk on the lower wire to get over some water.

I remember that we were able to go bare footed on the 5th day of May. Our favorite activity at school was playing work up soft ball. We played before school, at recess , during the noon hour and afternoon recess. Think school started at 9 a m and we were out at 4 p m. We also played anti I over and run sheep run.

The boys brought in the coal and carried out the ashes. We also had to go to a neighbor’s house with a pail to get water when the well ran dry. The house was about a quarter mile from school and two children carried the pail. We were assigned jobs like sweeping the floor and cleaning the erasers and blackboards. In the spring we raked the leaves, built a bonfire and had a weiner roast.

The next year I was in 4th grade and had a new teacher Bernice Thompson. She was 19 years old and this was her first school. There were 2 students in 5th grade and I was in 4th grade. The teacher talked my Mother into letting me skip 4th grade. Boy did I ever have trouble with long division. Up until this time I had brought home straight A’s but that changed. I always felt a little uneasy with my social skills the rest of the way through school.

In the summer we went to the free movies at Hope on Tuesday night. Popcorn was five cents and a single dip ice cream cone was also five cents. Money was a little bit easier to come by and I always had a nickel for an ice cream cone. The movies were all cowboy movies and then there were all those old cartoons and a serial. The owner of the movie projector was the industrial arts teacher at Ellendale. We sat on telephone poles that were put on top of other telephone poles. The poles would roll with a little encouragement but the adults kept the kids from getting into to much mischief.

At Christmas time we always had a school program and songs. We worked hard memorizing one act plays and I also learned to clog for one program.
We had 3 or 4 rent families move to Dist 76 the same year 1936. At that time it was an 8 month school and all the families wanted a 9 month school. So they all went to the school board meeting and got that changed. So surprised the board members that so many people turned up at that meeting.

There were several families about the same age in the school dist. They all liked to play pinchole and so on Wednesday night in the winter they would meet at someones house and play cards. The kids all came and ran around inside and that about 10 p m refreshments were served. When you were about 12 you could play cards with the adults. We learned to play pinchole at a young age.

In the summer we raised gardens and I helped take care of my little brother Dick. We had a red wagon with a box on it and I would haul him around a box elder tree in the front yard until he went to sleep.

I raised ducks one year and they used to go down to the creek and bring back bullheads alive. They were to big for the ducks to swallow. I put the fish in the stock tank and guess they surprised the cows when they came to take a drink. Ducks could not sit on their eggs and raise their babies so you put the eggs under a sitting hen. One day a hen with 8 little ducks was in the back yard. It had rained so there was a mud puddle close to the house. The little ducks rushed to the water and the sitting hen went after them. She walked into the water carefully lifting one leg and then the other trying to get her babies out. That was so funny.

I had my own bedroom in this house in the summer and then in the winter I slept with my sister Daisy. She was dating Don at this time and she would come in late at night and put her cold feet one me. My brothers would get my little brother Dick and take him to bed with them. My Mother was 46 when Dick was born and she needed all the help she could get. Dorothy was married and my nephew Warren was born Oct 31, 1936. Dick and Warren were good playmates all through childhood.

Don and I went to our neighbors, the Zak’s and played on Sunday afternoon. Hubert was about Don’s age and Margaret was my age. The boys rode their bikes and Margaret and I played dolls and games. They had a pump organ in their living room and we fiddled with that and Hubert had a concertina and could play a little.

When someone was married in the Bohemian community they celebrated by having a wedding dance. All the families came with their children including my parents who didn’t dance. The girls taught me to dance when I was about 9 years old. The bands were the polka bands and I love that music to this day.

The highlight of the summer was out county fair with all the midway rides. My Father would take us every day. The Fair was held after the harvest and before school started in the fall. We would eat hot dogs and ride on those wild rides and sometimes get sick. Was a good chance for the adults to visit with their neighbors.

One day I was down at the creek that ran through our farm and I saw 2 huge fish in a shallow pool. I ran to the house and told my Dad and he went and caught the fish. I remember my Mother cutting them up and frying them. They were so good to eat.

We always raised about 100 roosters and we would eat them in the summer and then put the rest in the frozen food locker . My Mother would cut off their heads with an axe and I would pluck the feather off by dipping the chicken into almost boiling water. Mother then soaked the chicken in salt water, cut it up and fried it for dinner. I did not taste white meat until I was out on my own and working. If you want chicken to taste real good soak in salt water overnight or at least 2 hours.

We also picked strawberries on the halves and took them to the locker for winter time use. Mother canned our garden produce and she also canned meat for winter use. I helped her from the time I was 10 or 11 years old. I had small hands and my job was to inspect and wash fruit jars. I also helped can tomatoes and peaches. My sisters were away from home by then so I was a big help to my Mother.

School went well for the next few years. On Friday afternoon we would work all afternoon on projects. I learned to embroidery and we made door stops out of wood using a small coping saw to cut out our designs. Also did a small purse by doing some basic weaving. I could also darn stockings at this time

I joined a 4 H club when I was about 11 and made my first dress when I was 12. After that I could take any pattern and make my blouses and dresses. I learned to sew on a treadle machine and I still use my old treadle once in a while.

My brother Don at this time was in High School and he liked oatmeal cookies. Mother didn’t have time to mix them up every day and so Don would come home from school and mix up a batch of cookies. He liked about 10 oatmeal cookies and a orange for lunch.

When I was 12 we moved to another rent farm 6 miles north of Hope. I finished my last 3 months of 8th grade in a different school. Had to make new friends again but that didn’t bother me. Weill talk about that in my next story.