Friday, October 15, 2010

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.

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