"That is the most moving obituary I have ever read"
Dorothy May Aikman Kleinecke
Dorothy was born in Boise Idaho and grew up in Caldwell Idaho as one of six sisters. After high school Dorothy went off to college in Pocatello Idaho.
She worked a summer job there in nearby Yellowstone National Park. She met her husband Ed at college and they married and moved to Sparks Nevada.
In subsequent years, the Sierra Nevada mountains were their go-to place for holidays as they began raising their four children.
In about 1961 they moved to the Sacramento California area and later to Weimar California. After the children were raised, they divorced and Dorothy took a job as a Business Services Assistant for the Department of Fish and Game of the State of California. Some of this job involved hiking through fields to find "lost" equipment belonging to the state. She really enjoyed this job.
After retirement, Dorothy moved up to the Pacific Northwest, trying out towns near the Oregon/Washington border. Eventually she moved to Bellingham Washington based upon the observation "they have a lot of used bookstores there".
She was always part of a walking group while she lived in Bellingham and even a couple of years ago was frequently seen walking the hallways of The Willows retirement center.
I'll let her describe her growing up years - from her memoirs:
ENDINGS AND BEGINNINGS
Talk about timing--I was born at Boise, Idaho, April 14, 1930. My grandfather Aikman died just two days before I was born so it must have been a very tough time for my
parents, especially Dad. I understand that Grandfather had been ill for a couple of years so his death at 77 years of age was probably not unexpected, I suspect that he was diabetic as he had turned blind prior to his death. My parents lived at Murphy, Idaho and were raising turkeys to feed the people working the mines in the Silver City area. My two older sisters, Ruth and Mary, were both born at Boise, as Murphy was a very small primitive community and the nearest hospital was St. Lukes in Boise. My birth certificate doesn't say whether I was born at the hospital so I could have been born there or maybe even at Grandmother Aikman's house. It was not uncommon for women to have their babies at home in those days. Good heavens! My mother about to give birth in the house might just have driven Grandpa over the edge! On top of that, the country was still suffering from the depths of the "Great Depression."
The Depression meant that the stock market had "crashed," zoomed downward; leaving many, many investors and businessmen destitute. The popular thing in those days was for everyone who had any money at all, to "play" the stock market. Consequently, a lot of people invested not knowing what they were doing. We learn the hard way! It took many years for the country to recover. People were traveling the railroad boxcars from one place to another trying desperately to find jobs. Poverty showed up in many little ways. My sister Ruth tells me she remembers Dad making a Christmas tree out of Spare sticks of wood because we could not afford to buy a tree. We were really the lucky ones though, because we lived on a farm. Dad had a chicken hatchery. Mom had a kitchen garden and canned fruit and vegetables. Dad's family were sheepmen, so Dad always had a few sheep and, of course, with several children, a cow to keep us in milk. To this day my favorite meal is the humble potato soup.
When I was two we moved to Caldwell. The mines were gradually closing at Silver City, so things were dying
down in the area. Dad borrowed on his military insurance and bought ten acres just outside of town on a lovely hill about a mile from the center of Caldwell. our first home there was later called the "bunkhouse," a one-room shack complete with an outhouse close by. I have a hard time imagining my mother with three children and another on the way surviving these conditions. Dad soon built the main house along with some chicken houses so then we lived in---luxury? The kitchen had an old wood stove for cooking and was located at the far end of the "living room." The middle of this large room was a coal-fed potbellied stove for warmth. I remember bathing and then being placed near the stove to warm. More than one little butt was scorched by that stove. It was a kind of torture~--needing the warmth but afraid to get too close. The "luxury" house boasted two bedrooms with a bathroom in between. One was for us kids and the other was for Mom and the baby. I remember the old claw-footed bathtub and the closet at the end of the room. The bathroom had two doors, one to each bedroom. No chance for privacy. It was not too long before Dad added on to the house with a large bedroom on the other side of the living room, for us kids, complete with bunk beds made by him. Our old bedroom became the kitchen and the end of the "living room" became a dining room, I don't remember when it was done, but there was a semi-wall, curved and arched, between the two rooms. Grandmother Aikman's massive old oak table was the scene of many big Sunday dinners.
Still later, Dad built upward, adding an upstairs. This had four rooms and a bath. Real luxury! Our old bedroom downstairs became Mom and Dad's and their old bedroom became a place for Dad's desk and the piano. I loved this room, not just for the piano which I struggled to master, but it held a huge Boston fern on a stand. It was awesome!
This old house, built in the early 30's has seen a lot of remodeling jobs, including a correction to the sway-backed roof line before the second story went up. It has also seen a lot of heartache, struggle, small pleasures, celebrations and triumphs. It still stands today. My sister, Phyllis, has built a doll house replica of the old house. It is a masterpiece!
SCHOOL AND PANTIES
When I started first grade, there was no preschool or kindergarten. We were plunged right into day long sessions of real school. There were no nap rugs or snack
It was so exciting. I had envied my sisters, getting on the big school bus and disappearing into an whole different world. We had to get very early in order to eat breakfast, fix our lunches, and walk up the dirt road to the place where the bus stopped.
When we got to the school, we had time to play a little outside before the bell rang. Ours was the "first bus". The school district didn't have lots of money for buses, so one bus ran two trips, before and after school.
I was very shy and, the first day, awed by the whole thing. About mid-morning, things got so exciting and wonderful, that the agony was too much-~and, you guessed it. I wet my pants! Oh, the embarrassment, the shame! It was almost more than I could bear. The teacher didn't make a big thing of it. She was a very young teacher and I just loved her. She was so understanding.
Learning to read was, I thought, the most wonderful thing in the world. Now, I was a real person! About the second grade, I discovered "funny books." These were comics. They cost 10¢ a book and were read avidly and traded to friends for more reading. I really think my love of reading for fun came from these cheap tomes.
That winter, 1936, we had an unusual amount of snow--about six feet. The bus couldn't get up the hill, so everyone had to walk about a half-mile to the bottom of the hill. "Snow days" were unheard of in those times. School was held no matter what! Mom decided that walking through all that snow was more than I could handle, so she kept me home. This was very so unusual to be home on a school day. I wasn't even sick!
I didn't have much in the way of sickness at school. My sisters had brought home all the usual things, measles and chicken pox in the years before I started school, so I was immune to the ones that took so much time away from clases.
It got very cold in the winters, so Mom made me and my sisters some snow pants. I think these were wool, They were a deep blue color. Well, in those days dyes were not very good, and when the pants got wet, the color bled onto our underclothes. Lots of blue panties! Normally we wore long stockings held up by a garter belt. For us little ones these garter belts were made of wide elastic that was extended up over the shoulders to stay in place during play. When I see the young people wearing tights, I think they really aren't so much different, and they
are so warm.
Some the favorite games at recess were jacks, hop scotch, and jump rope. The school boasted a chinny bar and a monkey bar. The chinny bar was not too difficult to master. My favorite position was to put one leg over and swing around and around the bar. Just hanging by my knees was great too. My mother discovered this and decided to make some cute little bloomer panties to match my dresses, so I wouldn't look quite so indecent. Panties themselves were interesting then. The elastic was run through a channel in the top of the fabric. Well, the elastic was not very good, or had been washed too many times, and could, and did, break at the most inopportune times. A safety pin on panties was a common sight in the girl's restroom. The monkey bar was a real scary challenge. I spent a lot of time just hanging on at the first bar, afraid to let go and swing to the next bar.
One other recess time play was "jump-the-ditch." my best friend, Betty Stephenson, found a small irrigation ditch at the edge of the playground. We would get on either side of the ditch facing each other but a little offset and jump the ditch, turn around and jump again. We would get going very fast and thought this was great fun. One day, however, we miscalculated and met in the middle of the ditch. It wasn't deep, only about a foot, so mostly we just got our feet wet. The teacher didn't think it was funny!
I remember the Valentine box. I believe it was the second grade. It was made of a big old round hat box, all decorated by the teacher. Mom always bought enough valentines for the whole class and a list of the students was provided by the teacher. I remember there was one girl in the class named Barbara Smith. She didn't dress well and was quite often just plain dirty so of course she was a kind of outcast and teased by her classmates. Mom got wind of the fact that I didn't intend a card for her and she talked me into giving her one. I was glad
I did. I think it was the only one she got. It was definitely a popularity thing which I hadn't even thought of. By the fourth grade the character of the thing changed because we were becoming aware of the fact that boys were different from girls. Anyway I got a big nickel valentine from this special boy, Jimmy Fraiser, and of course was thrilled. Most of the cards cost a penny or less.
I had gone to Sunday School as soon as they would take me. It was customary for Dad to drive all of us kids to Sunday School and then pick us up. Mom and Dad never went to Church but Mom was active in the Ladies Aid Society. Looking back, I believe they needed a quiet time just for themselves more than they needed Church. I remember Shirley Waterman, in the second or third grade class mentioning something about a brother. I asked Mom what a brother was! All I had was sisters!
The first time I was allowed in the Church sanctuary, I was so impressed. The beautiful blue carpet--the dark brown pews--the incline down to the alter, the whole place felt peaceful and beautiful, and awesome. I was not aware that it was shabby and in a few years it would be torn down and a new church was in the making. There were several years when church was held at the College of Idaho campus.
THINGS I DID, I SHOULDN'T HA' DONE
Because we were a large family, we girls had a lot more freedom than an only child or the small children today. Mom and Dad could not keep track of all of us, full time. Consequently we found more things to do to get into trouble. My parents were reasonably strict, but what they didn't know wouldn't hurt our little bottoms.
I recall sledding down the big hill beyond our neighbor's house, a pasture that ended with a irrigation canal. Real scary, but fun. It took real talent to stop before the ditch. It was mostly empty in the winter but still a long ways down. This same canal was used for swimming in the summer, but only if we didn't get caught. We were allowed to swim in the small ditches, but the big canal was not allowed. I had a tough time learning to swim, The only way I could stay afloat was to swim upstream. I usually swam about two feet. When I took the Red Cross lessons at the City pool, I had a miserable time. I didn't like my eyes under water. And the "Deadman's Float" really scared me. I didn't want any part of being dead!
I was part monkey when it came to trees and fences. My favorite place to be was the apple tree on the far side of the small orchard, with a book in my hand. The fence that was perfect to walk on was just beyond the clothesline area, so Mom usually caught, and stopped me there.
One of the favorite things to do in mid-summer when there was nothing to do, was to have a seed spitting contest. The boy across the street, Eddie Barr, was the
Champion. I admired him very much. The favorite seeds were cherry, and they were wonderful to eat right off the tree, but we made do with apricot seeds too.
The best play area was beyond the back pasture in the lot where the orchardist stacked his apple boxes. We made these into buildings. I'm sure he must have known what
we were doing but seemed to be very tolerant. He would chase us out of his orchard when the apples were ripe, but was known to have offered some applejack to Dad. When I was about ten some of the older boys used the "house" to play strip poker. I never understood the game and had nothing much to show so didn't play. It wasn't much of a game for some of the boys either. In summer they were barefoot and just wore one-piece overalls, so they lost everything in a hurry!
The biggest ugly was the "Rose Garden Caper". Betty Stephenson, who always got me into trouble, found that if you took the heads off the sprinklers, water would shoot
up into the air like Old Faithful geyser. So--several of us, including my sisters, Margaret and Mary, took off the heads, hid them in the retaining wall rocks or just
left them. Of course, we were too scared to go watch when they turned on the water that evening. It was reported to the police and one of the neighbor girls told on us, so Dad got a call and boy! were we in trouble! Mary wouldn't admit she was there, and it was a long, long time before I forgave her.
Vitamins were another problem. They were sugar coated pink things that Dad insisted we take. They were awful if held in the mouth after the coating was gone. I hated them and so did most of my sisters, as a number of them were found under the couch cushions.
Climbing the City Water Tank was another no no. I was a real fraidy-cat so I never climbed very high, but my friend Betty went so far up it nearly made my heart stop. It seems like I was always looking over my shoulder with her. Betty also introduced me to cigarettes. She stole a few from her older sister's pack and we took them out behind the garage to try it out. I thought it not only was dumb but tasted bad. I still think so. I tried them again when I got to college age and my friends were smoking, No go. I suppose they were trying to look grown up and worldly. I thought they just looked funny trying to find a place to put the ash, and trying to blow the smoke sideways in a crowed room.
Washing clothes was a big deal and occupied half a day. Not only were there a lot of sheets, towels and regular clothes to wash, but they all had to be hung up outside on the clothesline. Mom usually did most of this but us girls brought the clothes in when they were dry. They smelled so fresh and clean in the summer. Winter was a different story. We brought in clothes that weren't quite dry and frozen stiff. They crumpled when they had been in the house a while but they sure were miserable to handle getting them off the line! Indoor dryers hadn't
been invented then.
Ironing was another continuing chore. PermaPress was unheard of as was Polyester. Most clothes were cotton, except for wool coats. Those cottons had to be ironed. The first thing to be done was to dampen them. They were sprinkled with the help of a Coke bottle that was topped with a cork-lined sprinkle head, or by just a bowl of water. The method was to dip your hand in the water then shake it over the clothes. The clothes were then individually rolled and placed in a pillow case to dampen through, One of the dangers was leaving them too long and acquiring mildew. Oh! Those were the days! Some of the other chores were, to make sure the water trough for the cows was full, and help Dad gather eggs. I hated those chickens, mostly because I was such a coward. The chickens in the chicken house would spook if you just walked right in, and fly all over the place, so we learned to knock softly, then ease in. There was always an old cock or two who resented the intrusion and made for me. Dad told me to just grab a hold of him and toss him a ways away. I learned to do this to the point that anger took
over from fright and I really threw those damn cocks. I don't think I ever hurt them because, of course, they could fly and always landed upright. The next hazard was being pecked as I reached under the hen to take the egg. She resented the theft. The baby chickens that Dad took from the hatchery section to sell were so cute, and fragile that I learned to love them and almost learned to sex them (determine whether they were male or female). I guess I wasn't gentle enough, so that job didn't last long.
One of the fun things about new calves was teaching them to drink milk from a bucket. They wanted to suck of course, and so we took a handful of milk from the bucket and inserted it into its mouth until it got the idea that the source was in the bucket not in the cow's tit. That rough tongue and the terrific suction was something not to be forgotten.
Watching Dad milk the cows was a treat because he would show off by squirting a stream at the resident cat. The cat was well trained but still usually got some on its face. Dad had a T-stool which took some getting used to be able to sit on the thing and concentrate of trying to get milk. I never was very good at it. Definitely took skilled, strong hands for that job.
Dad used an apparatus called a separator to separate the cream from the milk, This was a real honor to help Dad operate this. It had to be just right and, Oh! so clean. Dad sold the milk to a local creamery. The milk was put into big milk cans and left at the end of the driveway to be picked up. Mom used. the cream for making butter and for baking. Looking back, we really had the best of everything. Chickens, eggs, milk and cream and a vegetable garden plus a few fruit trees.
Sheep were another part of our lives. Dad always had enough to butcher and to sell a little wool. The only time they were a problem was when they needed to be herded to another pasture. I decided that they were the dumbest animals living. They never went were they were supposed to, but on the other hand the newborn lambs were the cutest animals living.
Mom always had a kitchen garden so weeding was a hated chore. Apparently I was not a good weeder. I remember Dad telling me to pull them all the way out and lay them
down so they didn't re-grow. Nowadays I don't take any chances. I take them out and put them in a compost pile.
Piles. What we had a lot of, was manure piles. Cleaning chicken houses was a constant chore. Early on, Dad used straw on the floor of the houses, then changed to wood shavings. Cleaning meant moving the chickens to a neighboring area in the chicken house, raking the shavings and manure into the manure spreader, and then hosing it down with disinfectant. A very smelly business. The manure was used to spread on the five acre parcel used for alfalfa or other crops and for the cow pasture. The extra was stored in piles.
One of us, I think it was Margaret, was caught trying to burn down the chicken houses. She really hated those darn chickens and the mess they made.
One of the fun things to do but had to be bought was to do a job for Dad so we could buy "penny candy". Usually we could sweep out the garage. Then, it was off to Darlings Auto Court where Mr. Darling had a small store along with the cabins he rented. Oh, the decisions to be made. Some things were five for a penny but the best things were one penny. The walk to the "store" was about half a mile.
I don't remember getting an allowance. We were given lunch money, but as soon as we were 13 or 14, we were earning our own money by baby sitting or detasseling corn.
Caldwell boasted a seed company and when I was old enough, I went to work for real wages---60¢ and hour! Corn was planted with about five rows with a row or two of another kind of corn in between, The five rows had to have their tassels removed for correct pollination from the other rows of corn, An upward tug was all that was needed. The work was not difficult but was hot and steady. Walking in the rows was interesting too. I still walk on the outside edges of my feet sometimes when I'm tired. But, Oh! The lovely money! We had a boss named Joe, a
real quiet, kind man, who would, on occasion, buy us all a bottle of pop at Marsing on the way back to town.
One of the fun things we did in summer when life got dull was to color cattails. Dad was the cutter, and looking back, this was no small job. Each of us had about five cattails and there was always at least three or four of us. That's a lot of cutting. We used table knives to scrape designs on the tails, most of the time just long stripes. Then we colored them with crayons. The final touch was to twist the tail. Grabbing the tail in both hands and twisting the hands in opposite directions. This gave the stripes a spiral look.
We always had a swing in the front yard and it got a lot of use. Early on it was an old tire on a rope, then a wooden board.
Running through the sprinkler was heaven on a hot summer day. The water so cold and the air so hot! The sprinkler was a circular affair with lot of tiny holes so it was
a gentle sprinkle.
For a very special treat we would drive up into the mountains and pick huckleberries. Mom had her own special places she liked to go. Those berries were so small, it seemed to take forever to make a showing, but the pies and jam were worth all the trouble.
Every August, we would go up to McCall to Shady Beach Camp. This was living the good life! This was a tent camp. The frames included floor and part of a wall and framework for the upper wall and roof. A wood stove was available and in a cooking tent some cupboards and a table. The whole upper part was covered by canvas. Each tent had a name and there were paths all over, mostly leading to the lake or the office. The lake came complete with a dock and rowboats. Since we were all different ages and different strengths a pair of us rowing never really worked well but we had fun trying. The beach was sandy and shallow so we could swim. The water was so cold we had to take a long time getting used to it--by inches. The area boasted a stable where we could rent horses. They were mostly sway-backed and old, but then maybe the manager knew we weren't really riders. We could rent for a half-hour or an hour but none of us had a watch so the time wasn't real.
BICYCLE & SKATES
Learning to ride the bike was a real struggle for me. The bike was too tall for me and heavy but I was determined, (The Aikman stubbornness!) I would start on the lawn by a tree, where I could hang on and push off on a slight downhill toward the driveway. It took a long time to get my balance, but finally one day it happened and I went all the way down the driveway! Skating was a struggle also, mostly because I really didn't have a good place to do it except in front of the chicken houses or in them when they were being cleaned. Skates were clamped to shoes at each side of the toe area and tightened with a skate key. Ice skating was a real grownup thing to do but didn't happen too often. The best place was at Lake Lowell. I seemed to have weak ankles so was never very good, but sure liked it. My first pair of shoe ice skates, Mom bought at a pawn shop. It was during the war, and anything metal was just not being made.
One of our unusual chores was performed by all of us or any one of us that was available. The driveway was gravel and long, so we knew a few seconds before a car arrived at the front door. This prompted quick action. The carpet always seemed to hold bits of lint, thread and miscellaneous debris. All hands fell to and picked up the larger stuff by hand and put it in the garbage. This was dubbed the Aikman method of cleaning.
Mealtime chores were divided into:
Setting the table,
Clearing the table & scraping the dishes,
Washing the dishes and
Drying the dishes.
(Each chore was done by a different person.)
The litney for setting the table was;
Salt and Pepper,
cream and sugar,
bread, butter and jam,
something to eat with (plates & silver) and
something to drink with (glasses or cups).
The dishes were washed in order also. First the glasses, then the silver, then plates and finally the pots with the fry pans last of all. That old fry pan was not non-stick so quite often it was left to soak.
We had a "party line". This meant that about five families shared the telephone line. A "private line" could be had, but the cost was much more. In order to know who was wanted on the line, the operator rang a certain number of times. At one time, we were "five rings". You learned to listen and to stop whatever you were doing to make sure who it was for. It was not unknown for a fellow party-liner to listen in, and, of course, in an emergency, one could ask for the parties to please hang up so you could make a call. The calls were not monitored for time, and Mom liked to talk, so I'm sure she frustrated several people in her hour long, or longer, calls.
The grocery shopping was done at the Piggly-Wiggly store on the corner of Main and Kimball. I remember the old wood floors and most of the merchandise behind counters. The old man who ran the store must have known everyone's financial status, likes and dislikes and attitudes. I'm not sure but the far part of the store may have had dry goods.
The other store that was important to our lives was the shoe store, owned by Mr. Garber. We must have spent a lot of money there. Each of us had two pair, one for everyday and a pair for Sunday school. They had an X-Ray machine that you could look through the top and see your foot bones. Very primitive, but guess it helped get the right fit.
The other main store was The Golden Rule where we bought. clothes, mostly coats and yard good for sewing. I don't remember spending a lot of time here as Mom made most of our clothes.
VISITING RELATIVES-SUNDAY DINNERS
Mom was very close to her brothers and sisters and to Grandmother and Grandfather Bevington, and we often visited them on a Sunday. They always seemed to find plenty of things to talk about and we had lots of cousins to play with. I don't remember if we ate with them or not. The meals I remember were with Grandma Aikman and Mr. And Mrs. Jim in Boise. At Mrs. Jims, we ate with them, Harry and William, brothers of Mr. Jim. When they were by themselves they ate at a small table and, sort of got out of the habit of passing food. When they were at our house, it was a problem because we had so many and the table was so long. One of the standing jokes when someone forgets to be aware of someone else's need is to say, "Please pass the _______, Mrs. Jim." Never the less, the Jims were our favorite people. They were so kind and did so much for us. She made the best Scotch short bread in the whole world.
When we had to go to the dentist, we went to Nampa to a friend of Dad's from his college days. He would reserve a whole half day and take care of all of us kids and I guess Dad and Mom too, although I don't remember them in the Dentist's chair. Dad and Dr. Gould would talk while the work was going on. I remember one time the doctor waving around the needle, talking and me getting scared and white to the point that they finally noticed that I was about to pass out. I was embarrassed but also angry. I have a fine distrust for dentists still.
The medical doctors we saw was a twosome of Dr. Cole and Dr. Kaley. Dr. Cole was white haired and I liked him, but Dr Kaley was dark with big busy eyebrows and stood for no nonsense. I got a gash on my leg from swinging on the pointed end of the anvil on Dad's workbench and Dad grabbed me and had Ruth hold my leg together while he drove me to Dr. Kaley. He took five stitches in my leg and the scar is still with me.
One of our real treats was to learn dancing from Dad's cousin, Elise (Sproat) Mikelson. She was a stocky sort of person and was very patient with us. She had not been married long and her husband, Bill, played the piano for us. We learned the Highland Fling, the Sword Dance, and the Irish Lilt. Ruth learned the Sailor's Hornpipe and a Russian dance. When the Scottish Robert Burns celebration was in Boise, we, Mary and I, did the Scottish dances. We had a lot of fun and got a lot of experience. One time we had no piano player so we danced to a bagpipe. Another time in the intricacies of the sword dance, the sword was kicked off the stage. The introduction always stated that the dances we did were in celebration of victory in
battle and we started by raising the crossed sword and sheath then laying it on the floor to dance upon. We also danced for several organizations in Caldwell on occasion. It was scary to dance in public but at least I didn't have to say anything, just smile.
The holiday that most impressed me was, of course, Christmas. Christmas was a very big thing at the Aikman household. All of us bought simple gifts for each other. There were many secret whisperings going on behind closed doors. The tree held an angel at the top. I thought she was beautiful. As I got older, she did too. A little shabby around the edges. We opened our gifts on Christmas morning. Oh, the unbearable agony to wake up early and have to stay in bed just a little longer, seemed like hours. We always got a doll, that I later learned was from Mrs.Jim. She was a very special lady, Dad's cousin's wife. The other gift from Santa Claus was a hardback book. This was always so great, because after the original excitement, here was this wonderful book with my very own name in the front, to be read. We each had many gifts, because there were so many of us. I remember getting a "Big Five" writing tablet--cost, five cents! The sheer volume of gifts, no matter the cost, was delightful!
Mrs. Jim was the one who made Easter special. Mrs .Jim and Mr. Jim were actually the Jim Aikmans. They had no children of their own so we got a lot of attention from them. I think that they were Dad's favorite relatives.
We had an Easter egg hunt with lots of eggs since that was the business Dad was in. The eggs were hidden by Dad. We almost never found all of them, so the dogs had a special treat. We usually had a new Easter outfit and maybe even new shoes for this special day, but the most special thing was the Easter Basket. This was a "store-bought" affair, garbed in colored cellophane, and held lovely candy goodies. (Cellophane was the plastic wrap type of thing that was used in those days. It was very stiff and crackley and was only used to wrap special gifts or floral pieces.) "Store bought" was real special for us. Mostly, all items possible were homemade, including clothes and bread.
May first is a Russian holiday. I rather think my mother took up this holiday when she lived in South Dakota There were a lot of people of Russian decent living there. This holiday has disappeared because of our differences with Russia. It is too bad.
We marked the day by making small baskets out of construction paper. Mom usually made some fudge candy to put in the bottom and then we filled the basket with flowers, usually lilacs. We sneaked over to a neighbor's house, set the basket on the front step, knocked on the door and ran and hid. Peeking through the bushes to see the look on their faces was such fun! I think I liked this holiday much more than Halloween.
When Dad finished building the upstairs and we were about to move in, Mom took me aside and told me that one of the front bedrooms was to be mine and Joan's. She gave me to understand that it would be my job to see that Joan took care of her things and got dressed properly. In other words I was in charge of another person. I thought, "Hey! I'm not little any more!"
AS I GREW OLDER
I started wearing glasses in the 6th grade. At that time, the 6th grade and the seventh was in the old Van Buren school. I don't remember hating them as some do, but I think I developed tunnel vision which stayed with me until I discovered contacts as a mature adult. I know I read a lot and had lots to read, thanks to Mom. My favorite books were Nancy Drew books. Earlier it was comic books. These were to be had for ten cents each. It was custom to trade books with friends when we finished. My love of reading has continued throughout my life. When I have several books to read, I really feel rich. I don't have to ration myself so that I don't run out of something to read. Mom and Dad took several magazines, Colliers, Post, the journal for farm families and of course the local newspaper. The Post was my favorite because of all the cartoons and jokes. I always turned to the end of the magazine first because that's where the jokes were.
Learning to 'set' my hair was also a painful process. We used 'bobby pins' and trying to look in the mirror and turn the strand of hair the right direction was a slow job. We slept with this mess so that we looked good in the morning. I remember getting a 'perm' before a Scottish celebration. They used those heat curlers connected to electricity. Each curler connected separately. It's a wonder we had any hair left. Mom always cut our hair. A 'Dutch bob" when we were little and then later she braided our hair. I can still feel the painful pulling to get it
straight and tight. The ends were done with rubber bands which didn't always come off easy.
The Fourth-0f-July at home was done from the front lawn shooting off into the front two-acre field near the driveway. Dad lit all the fireworks except the sparklers that we were allowed to handle. I don't think I really enjoyed it---they frightened me, even though Dad was very careful.
"That is the most moving obituary I have ever read"