Chapter 2: A NEW CHAPTER BEGINS IN MY LIFE
By June of 1924, Aunt Hattie and Mildred had both died of tuberculosis. My mother was not well. She had a cough and depended on me much of the time to help. Ralph would be six years old in August of 1924. Father feared Mother would get tuberculosis, too, unless she was relieved of the hard work required of a farmer's wife. I was ready for High School and Ralph for grade school. Father decided to move back to Sterling, Illinois. Through a realtor, our farm was traded for a large fourteen room house in Minneapolis. This house was near the university and students were glad to rent the extra rooms which it had. Father put a local man in charge of the house and it was a source of income for several years.
Family Photo after Mildred's Funeral, 1924
The sale of our stock and farm equipment was a sad experience for me. We kept Jack with us. I was just thirteen and was enjoying the friendship of the school classmates and friends in the Church. For me, changing school, churches and friends was not a pleasant experience to look forward to. Uncle Charlie decided to move to Sterling too. He and Father moved their furniture and household necessities by railroad to Sterling. Each family then drove to Sterling by car. Graduation exercises for Lloyd and me were held in Monticello late in July. We were in Sterling by that time so, we received our diplomas by mail.
Our family lived with my grandparents until our furniture came. There was a house for rent across the street, so we took it. I became friends with a neighbor girl who lived at the end of the block. She would be a freshman in High School, too. Most of that school year of 1924 and 1925 I remember as being filled with anxiety and new experiences for which I was not prepared. All of my elementary education had taken place in two rural schools with never more than thirty-five students in the whole school. There was always a close relationship between the teacher and myself. At church the attendance very seldom got above one hundred. That was also a comfortable, close relationship.
In High School there were five hundred pupils and a dif-ferent teacher for each of my five classes. Just getting acquainted with the building was a problem. My new girlfriend, Flora Bartlow, was the only one I knew. Lloyd was also a freshman, but we saw each other only in homeroom. He sat in front of me. We never even whispered very much. We were too scared of the Principal, who was called "The Iron Duke," or the Assistant Principal who never smiled.
To add to my problems that first year in Sterling, Ralph had a bad accident. It was hard for him to remember that traffic was worse in the city than in the country. We were always reminding him to watch out for the cars. The church we attended was located on one of the busy highways. After church one Sunday another boy grabbed Ralph's cap and threw it into the street. Ralph, without thinking, ran into the street after it. He was run over by a large touring car. He seemed lifeless, but a friend quickly used artificial respiration and finally got him breathing. He was taken to the hospital in a car while Father held him. For five days he was in a coma and getting worse. Then the doctor used surgery on his spine to relieve the pressure on his brain. His shoulder was broken and chest badly bruised besides his brain concussion. After his spine was tapped he became conscious and came home but had to be confined for several months until he was able to handle himself again. Many movements he had to learn over again as a result of brain damage. We were very thankful when he was able to go back to school and catch up to his classmates.
During my freshman year in High School, I became very nervous, lost my appetite and lost weight until my parents took me to a doctor, who was a long time family friend. This doctor after talking to me seemed to understand some of my fears and causes of my trouble. He gave me a tonic and a written message to the school principal. The physical education teacher called me into her room and after talking to me told me that the doctor wanted me excused from physical education for the rest of the year. That was a big weight lifted from me because that class was the only one I really hated. Having to buy gym clothes, changing clothes in the locker room and spending a whole period exercising seemed such a waste of time to me. My parents also thought the idea was useless and could better be used in studying. By the time my sophomore year started, I was able to handle P.E., but I never liked it.
During my sophomore year, we moved into a house that my Grandparents Hauger bought in Sterling. We paid twenty dollars a month rent. It was a nicer place with more yard, garden and fruit, than the place we had been renting. Father got work in a company called "The Eureka Body Company." They made hearses and fixed wrecked cars. Father liked the work, but the hours were too long. He worked from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.. Ralph and I did not see much of him during the week. Mother got over her cough and began to feel much better. I felt more comfortable in my schoolwork and began to enjoy some social life, especially through my Sunday School class at the Church of the Brethren. With Father's two brothers and their families and his sister Grace Wade and husband Glen and their two boys all living near us, much of our social life involved family visiting.
Mother's father and stepmother lived about fourteen miles north of us near Polo, Illinois. Grandpa Yohn began to feel sick in late 1926. About every other Sunday our family went to visit them at Polo. His trouble was finally diagnosed as cancer of the stomach. The doctor said there was nothing that could be done to make him well. Our whole family felt very sad.
Mother lost her appetite and got so nervous that the rest of us became concerned about her. As the spring of 1927 came, we tried to visit Grandpa and Grandma every week. They lived on a country road. Several times on a rainy day we got stuck in the mud. If a farm was near we asked to be pulled out. Sometimes, as a last resort, Father had to put chains on the muddy car wheels. In those days, leaving home in a car for a trip of several miles often carried with it anxiety. If we made the round trip without tire trouble or getting stuck in mud in summer or snow in winter, we considered ourselves lucky. On May 4, 1927 Grandpa Yohn died. It took Mother quite a while to get to feeling normal again. Grandma Yohn lived with her daughter, Mary Ziegler, who was teaching school. Mary soon got a new Ford car and visited us quite often.
My Grandfather Hauger was the janitor of Central School for many years. Whenever there was a P.T.A. program that included a movie, Helen and I would go. Ralph went to Central School. He played the violin in the school orchestra. He is a better musician than I because he has more of a natural ear for music. But he did not like to take music lessons from Mother. He did take them, though!
High School Annual Picture, 1927
After three years Father got tired of working at the Eureka Company. Another friend of his working there also wanted a change. They decided to go into partnership, repairing car bodies, and doing sheet metal work. They rented a large building on Third Street and started the "Sterling Car Body Repair Shop." Father appreciated being more independent.
In June of 1927, I started helping Aunt Grace with her housework on the farm. She and her husband, Glen, belonged to the Mennonite Church. They had a family of two boys, Paul and Orville. That summer there was to be a weeklong conference at their church. The visitors who wanted to stay over night were to be taken care of by the members. Aunt Grace had four guests several nights, two guests the other evenings. My aunt was an immaculate housekeeper and a very good cook. She made bread for her family besides keeping up with the gardening, strawberry picking, canning and preserving. I got up at 5 a.m. and worked all day until after the evening meal. Two days Aunt Grace and I went to the conference, and then hurried home to get the evening meal and do chores.
I was anxious to earn some money to buy a ticket to the community Chautauqua series. It was held in a large tent in Central Park in Sterling. There was a very fine program of a variety of entertainment, forenoon, afternoon and evening, for a week. The tickets were seven dollars. I got fifty cents a day from Aunt Grace. During the summer of 1928 I earned enough to buy myself a winter coat, hat, and shoes for college.
Life for me became very full and interesting during the summer between my junior and senior years of high school. It continued all during my senior year. A young man came from Washington State to work in Sterling at the Frantz Manufacturing Company. He was the son of a minister and started coming to church and BYPD. Bob was talented and soon was accepting responsibility in the Youth program especially. He was several years older than most of us. Since I was the church pianist he asked to come to our home to bring some music that he had and wanted me to play for him to sing. That sounded like fun.
That was the beginning of a short but pleasant relationship. We organized a youth quartet and Bob and I sang duets. Our youth group exchanged plays and special music numbers with other youth of neighboring Churches of the Brethren. By trading programs we thought was a good way to become acquainted with other Brethren Youth. Bob took me to my first high school football game. We also went to games at Mt. Morris College. A couple times Lloyd double dated with us. There were always programs or parties to go to or music to practice.
At the beginning of my senior year I was elected chairman of the Alumni section of the 1928 High School Annual. With our Faculty Advisor, our committee had to hold many meetings. It got quite tiresome. But our committee turned in all the material before the date due. I had trouble convincing Father to let me buy a class ring. He said it was not worth the price of twenty dollars. Finally he allowed me to order it. It was very pretty. I wore it many years.
I was in the High School Glee Club my senior year, too. We gave a special Cantata which required a lot of practice. The orchestra played in it, too. The name of it was "The Building of the Ship." I thought it was wonderful. So did my parents.
I took French II my senior year and that involved belonging to the "Circle Francais." I was the Secretary and Treasurer. Each meeting was conducted in French and all conversation had to be French. The refreshments had French names. I enjoyed the Club.
Sterling High School Graduation, Age 17
Bob was president of our B.Y. Our youth was asked by the program committee of the church to put on the Christmas program. We gave a play. We also went caroling Christmas Eve. Bob instigated that. As far as I know the Sterling Church had never sponsored a caroling party. I appreciated dating with Bob because he took me places where we heard good music or programs. Then we would go to an ice cream parlor or restaurant to eat. All this was new to me, and I learned a lot.
We went to Mt. Morris to the college several times. Miriam Fackler, a member of the Sterling Church was an English teacher there. We would bring her to her home some times. Bob wanted to continue his education, but Mt. Morris did not suit him. During Christmas vacation he came one evening and before he left, he said he was leaving next day for Chicago to go to the Bethany Seminary of the Church of the Brethren. Naturally, I was very surprised and disappointed in the way he seemed to think that our friendship would be ending, too. I thought at least he could write, but he said he was a poor writer. I saw him once more when he came to Sterling on a quick trip to the Frantz Manufacturing Company on some errand. Life seemed uneventful and dull for a while, but soon I found that our minister's son, Glen, was a pretty nice fellow, too. He was the same age as I, but a year behind me in school.
After Bob left, I was elected President of BYPD. We had parties, redecorated our B.Y. room and tried to have an interesting program every Sunday evening. Glen was chairman of the program committee. He always included me in making out the programs. That meant a weekly meeting. Glen had no car, so that meant, wherever we went, we walked. During my last year in high school, I went to my first movie which was "Ben Hur." I had a hard time getting my parent's consent to go to that movie. Their belief was that Christians did not go to movies. I argued that it was all right to go to good movies. I finally got permission. Our youth group grew from eighteen to twenty-two members during that year of 1928.
As graduation drew nearer, our class voted as to whether we should wear caps and gowns. It was voted down. Times were hard. The money spent on caps and gowns could be spent on a new dress or suit which would last much longer. Mother went with me to buy my graduation dress. I wore this dress for six years.
On June 3, 1928 we had our Baccalaureate service at the large Methodist church in Sterling. On June 8, we had our Graduation program in the High School. I remember two things about that evening. I marched in with a very handsome fellow. We sat on the stage, and it was very hot - no air-conditioning at all. To get eighty-eight on the stage we were crowded. Ours was Sterling's largest graduating class up to that time.
That was a very exciting time. My grandparents and other relatives attended the program. I received many presents. Next day I had my picture taken in my graduation dress and flowers.
All summer Glen and I dated and life centered around B.Y. and its activities. Aunt Grace needed me again to help her with housework. During this time I was becoming better acquainted with a girl I had gone to high school with for four years but had not learned to know very well. She belonged to the Mennonite Church. She asked me to some of their youth parties and through them I made many new friends. Hazel Long became interested in going to Mt. Morris College when she learned I was going there. I never considered any other since both of my parents had graduated from Mt. Morris College. On June 27, with my parents, I went to Mt. Morris. I signed up for room #30 on 3rd floor. In July, Hazel registered to enter Mt. Morris College, too, and we decided to be roommates.
Hazel Long and Florence, 1928-29
In August of 1928, Mary Ziegler and Grandma Yohn invited Lloyd and me to go along with them to Minnesota to visit relatives and friends in West Concord and Monticello. It had been four years since we had seen them. I had written to a couple of my classmates during that time. We enjoyed every minute visiting and seeing the changes which had taken place.
On arriving home, getting ready for college took most of my time. I got a letter from my "Big Sister," Clara Lehman, who was a junior in Mt. Morris College. I appreciated her letter and felt more comfortable about going. She would answer some of my questions, she said. Since College was less than one hour of driving from home, I knew if I forgot anything it would be fairly easy to get. But still I dreaded making this first break from my home environment. Lloyd was going to Lewis Institute in Chicago. Helen and Glen would still be in Sterling as seniors in high school.
Monday, September 10, 1928, at age seventeen, I entered Mt. Morris College. I wanted to earn a limited Elementary Teaching Certificate, which would allow me to teach after attending college only one year. I had a scholarship of fifty dollars because of my high school grades. Father had to borrow three hundred dollars to pay for that year of college for me. I promised to pay it back out of my first checks as a teacher. I helped with expenses, too, by waiting on tables and spending two hours in the kitchen every Saturday. My subjects were Biology with Professor Neher as teacher, English under Lucille Long, History from Professor Weller and Elementary Education from Professor A. W. Shively. I also was in the College Choir and had to take physical education.
All freshmen had to wear green caps for boys and tams for girls. If caught on campus without them, there was a fine to pay. I was appointed Treasurer of the Student Association. Each student was assessed one dollar to cover student activities during the year. This association took care of parties, programs, pep rallies, progressive suppers and movies, especially on weekends. Hazel went home more weekends than I did, although she always said I was welcome to ride home with her. Every time I went home I had to get someone to take my place in the dining hall and kitchen. Glen was always glad when I came home. Sometimes I had lessons to do at college on weekends, but eventually I arranged it so that I went home with Hazel almost every other weekend. During the fall Glen won first place in a track event. He gave me the medal he had won, and I wore it on a chain around my neck for several months.
For the winter term I took "Supervised Play" along with the Education course. Also Physiology replaced Biology under Professor Neher. In Physical Education we had basketball. Hazel hurt her knee and had to go to the doctor several times for a light treatment to take down the swelling. She insisted I go with her each time.
There was an organization on campus called "Student Volunteers." I belonged to it. We conducted prayer meetings once a week at the Mt. Morris Old Folks Home on the south edge of town. There were two Literary Societies on campus - the Amphictyon and Philorhetorian. All I knew about them when I began college was that Father had belonged to the Amphictyon. So I became an "Amphic," too. To learn to speak in public and put on Chapel programs were the main objectives of these societies, I found out.
On February 8, 1929, Father took me to visit the school board of the Fairview School, which was eight miles north of Sterling. Mrs. Herr their teacher was leaving, so I applied to teach the school. Two weeks later I applied at the Science Ridge School where my cousins attended.
In March of 1929 I heard my first Presidential Inaugural Address given by President Herbert Hoover over the radio. The students of the college were all assembled in the college chapel to hear him.
There were three of us from Sterling as freshmen in Mt. Morris: Hazel, Bertha and myself. Hazel did not know Bertha as well as I did. Bertha had different ideas of dating and goals in life than I had. She considered me "stuffy and oldfashioned," but I did not care. My parents often pointed out to me that Bertha's actions would catch up to her. Bertha in her persuasive way got Hazel along with her to violate some of the rules of the college and of the Girls' Dormitory. Mrs. Culler, the Matron visited me at least three times for me to use my influence with Hazel to get her to see they were doing wrong. I finally persuaded Hazel to refuse to go out with Bertha. Eventually Bertha and another friend of hers were dismissed and told not to come back. I felt sorry for Bertha's parents. Her father was one of the College Trustees.
Sandstone Scinece Hall, Mt. Morris College
In the spring I brought two girls from college home with me to Sterling. They lived in Iowa and would not get to their home until Easter. About that time I learned that Glen's parents were moving to Fort Wayne, Indiana, that summer where his father would preach. Glen would enter Manchester College at North Manchester, Indiana, for the fall term.
On Monday, April 15, 8 a.m., on my way back to college, I stopped at Fairview School where I was to meet the School Board. They offered me the contract to teach at one hundred dollars a month. I signed the contract, dating it May 21, 1929, on which date I would be eighteen.
Hazel got the Talbot School which was north of Fairview. We were both happy, having achieved our objective for going to college.
The last weeks of college were very busy and interesting. Lloyd came out from Chicago to visit me one weekend.
I was selected to be in the Golden Jubilee Pageant. Because I was an "A" student, I was exempted from final exams if I promised to be faithful in practice and participate in the presentation of this pageant. Naturally, I promised.
May 31, 1929, was the last day at Mt. Morris College. Hazel's father came for us. My father was not home because he had to go to Minneapolis to redecorate our house there. He came home June 21. About that time he began to think of some way he could turn that house into an Illinois farm.
That summer was very busy and eventful. A neighbor lady, who had been teaching for some time, gave me some of her magazines, etc., which she thought would help me. She was getting married which meant she could not teach anymore. School board members thought that a married woman's place was in her home. The County Superintendent sent me the schedule for Institutes and other important dates for the next school year.
I went to the Chautauqua programs again. Father taught me how to drive. No one needed a driver's license. Hazel had been driving for two years. We had a 1924, four-door Essex. I enjoyed driving very much. It gave me a new sense of freedom. At first Mother would not ride with me, but in time she was glad to. I dated Hazel's brother some, and often she and I would double date. Glen and I saw quite a bit of each other, too. I dreaded the time he and his parents would leave for Indiana.
Uncle Lem's moved to Freeport, Illinois, that summer. Helen had considered college but decided she would try to get work in Freeport instead. Lloyd had work on a farm north of Sterling and was able to buy a new brown Ford with a rumble seat. We had many good times going places in his car. He was dating a fine girl named Ruth.
In August, Glen and his parents left for Fort Wayne. I had four days of Institute. School was to start the day after Labor Day. I went out several times to get acquainted with the facilities at my school. I was lucky with what I had because there were inside chemical toilets off each cloak hall. Also there was a furnace in the basement and a play area there, which many rural schools did not have. The pump was ten feet from the outside door and a stoneware water fountain inside the school. The two country schools that I had attended had a furnace or stove with a metal jacket around it in one corner and outside toilets.
On Labor Day our Y.P.D. was having a picnic at Starved Rock. I did not feel like going, so I stayed home and made lesson plans. I remember that night I had big trouble going to sleep because of concern about my first day of teaching.
Tuesday, September 3, 1929 was my first day of teaching at Fairview School. Wayne Allison was the first pupil to arrive. I often wished all the boys in my school had been as cooperative as Wayne always was. Friday of that first week of teaching I had a flat tire on my way home. The neighbor lady and I had it about fixed by the time a young fellow came by, stopped and offered help. He agreed it was fixed all right, so I finally got home.
Keeping the kind of discipline I wanted kept me alert. Also, sometimes, by looking ahead, I would find a hard arithmetic problem. I took it home and with my parents help we got it! My parents were very supportive of me as I had problems which seemed large to me, but they were put in perspective as I talked them over with my parents or with Mrs. Barge who was the wife of the President of the school board.
That fall my parents closed a real estate deal in which our Minneapolis property was traded for a 142-acre farm at the west edge of Durand, Illinois.
October 3, 1929 was an important day to me! I got my first paycheck of $99.00. The treasurer had taken out one dollar for the Teacher Retirement Fund.
Also in October the Sterling church called Reverend Frank Baldwin as our Pastor. His wife was Cora Alice, and they had three sons, Arthur, Elmer, and Charles who was the youngest and Ralph's age. Ralph was baptized that fall by Reverend Baldwin.
Fairview School, My First Teaching Job
My school district had an active P.T.A. I was told that each month the school was responsible for two numbers on the program. As December arrived, I had to fix hot lunches each noon for the pupils. That meant on Saturdays I bought enough soup, baked beans, etc., for each day the next week. We had a kerosene stove in the girls' cloak room, a big kettle and big spoon and a can opener. The seventh and eighth grade girls generally helped to stir it after we got it into the kettle during recess. Newspapers were placed on each child's desk. I dished it out into each child's bowl, which he or she was responsible for and after "Thanks for the meal" was said by a volunteer, we ate. At least ten minutes was taken for eating. After that they could play, if they had put their lunch pail and newspaper away. I don't think anybody in the district thought our prayer of "Thanks" for the meal was illegal as it seems it would be today.
My first school Christmas program worried me a lot. That year I was surprised to learn that some of my pupils had never heard of Jesus. It seemed I was the first to tell them. Also at Easter, I used the Easter egg hunt after I explained how eggs could be used as symbols for Christ's resurrection. I never heard any criticism about that either which might cause an uproar these days.
Father made a nice surprise for my pupils at Christmas by wiring the Christmas tree lights so they would light from a car battery. There was no electricity in our school.
A young man, who farmed with his parents near my school, asked me quite often for a date. Sometimes I went with him, but mostly I said "no". He did not meet my ideal and besides my parents did not care for him. Also, I always seemed to have schoolwork needing my attention.
Living in town and within walking distance of church, Ralph's grade school and business section of town, especially the library — these were the advantages of our location on Fourth Avenue in Sterling. The Baldwin boys brought new ideas for our Y.P.D. Ralph was in the grade school orchestra as first violin. Mother learned to play the violin too. I enjoyed playing the piano to accompany them. I also went as an accompanist with a pupil of my school and her parents when this pupil was asked to play her horn at different PTAs, etc. Glen's letters from Manchester College came quite regularly which helped to get me acquainted with activities and subjects which that college offered. With Mother's approval I ordered a radio from Spiegel's mail order company. My parents made use of that radio for years. Most of the music in those years was performed live, in the studio. WLS was our favorite station and the Saturday night Barn Dance was Father's favorite program.
In March, 1930, I applied for my school again and in April was asked to sign the contract for $105.00 a month. On Saturday, April 26, I took the two eighth graders to Morrison for their final examinations. Their teachers could look through a hall window to see them but could go no closer. I had not noticed that during the spelling exam Willard's fountain pen ran dry. My girl Floy, seemed to be doing all right. When it was all over, Willard was so nervous that he was sick for two days. A month later I got word they had passed. That was a happy day.
On May 3, 1930, Reverend Baldwin took some of our youth to a BYPD rally and banquet at Polo, Illinois. My cousin Helen Hauger from Freeport was there with her boyfriend, Morris Firebaugh. I also met his brother, Webster.
In June, Reverend Baldwin wanted to go to Annual Conference in Hershey, Pennsylvania. He suggested that I go along. I said if Helen would go too, I would go. She agreed. There was also a man from Lena who went over with us but stayed in that area for the summer. It was our first Conference for Helen and me. We had a chance to go through the Hershey Candy Company and to see Juniata College. Helen and I had never been that far east. The wide rim black felt hats that many of the Brethren men wore and the cape type dress that the Sisters wore interested us very much. This type of dress was not worn by the majority there. What surprised us even more was the way some of these old fashioned men sat on park benches between business sessions chewing tobacco and spitting. This seemed repulsive to us. Reverend Baldwin said he knew of members of our Church of the Brethren who grew tobacco. Helen and I also learned how to stretch our money in order to eat and pay for our room. That was a learning experience vacation for her and me.
When I came home I found that Father had bought an old Maxwell car, a blue coupe, for me to use to go to Fairview School. He paid fifteen dollars for it. With a set of new tires and a new battery, Father got it to run pretty well. I liked the way it handled. But several times something went wrong, and I had to call for help or borrow Grandpa Hauger's Studebaker. Father was always able to fix it, but sometimes it seemed to take too much time to get it running again.
August 11, 1930, was the first Brethren Youth camp at Camp Lewistown, Illinois. Our Brotherhood rented it from the Methodist people. I wanted to go, but Reverend Balwin decided not to go. We learned that Reverend Esbensen of our Freeport church was driving down and had room for me. I met them at Dixon. At Amboy, Reverend Esbensen's car broke down. Morris was one of the passengers. He called home, and his parents consented for him to borrow the Firebaugh's car. Webster brought it to Amboy, followed by his friend who took Webster home. I had a wonderful time at camp, getting to know the Freeport people better, especially Morris. Later at District meeting at Lanark there was a youth Banquet where we campers got together again. Helen and Morris were there.
Fairview School Students, All Eight Grades
School started September 2, 1930. I did not have all the worry and sleepless night before as I had the previous year. It didn't take long for me to see that the former seventh graders who had been a worry to me my first year of teaching would be even more so this second year. George jumped onto a nail where he was playing in the old horse stable at the schoolyard. This building was off limits to all the pupils. I never used it as a garage either. I left my car sit outside behind my school. I took George home so that his mother could take him to the doctor. Who stayed with the children while we were gone? No one. I put them "on their honor". There never was any criticism that I knew of, because what else could I do? We had no telephone, only a big bell in the cupola of the schoolhouse.
My County Superintendent, Mr. Price, always visited school at least twice a year. It made me nervous, but I had no need to be. He never criticized me, but always asked if I had any questions.
On September 24, 1930, I took out a twenty-three year Endowment Life Insurance Policy called "Illinois Life." That policy was sold to me by a friend of Father's who had sold him one some years before. In four years that company went broke and a company from Iowa took it over. It was called "The Life Assurance Society." I did not lose any money on it because I outlived the lien on it. Father lost all of his policy because of the lien on it.
My school board hired a music teacher who came every Monday afternoon and held a thirty minute class. That made it a lot easier for me to get program numbers for P.T.A. meetings and other special school programs.
Father would like to have moved onto the Durand farm in the spring of 1931, but he was short of money to do it right. But he began buying a few implements, etc., and storing them with friends in the country until the next year. He had to rent the farm to a neighbor on the shares again until 1932.
The last half of my second year of teaching made me very nervous. I believe I could have enjoyed it except for one boy in the eighth grade. He was always doing something that irritated and disturbed others and was disobedient to me. I had tried to get cooperation from his parents, but they thought it was my problem. I talked with the school board and they backed me up in whatever I wanted. They would expel him if I said so. Since I had their backing, Dwight got several "shakings" from me. Also, I used a ruler on the palm of his hand. (I hate to think what would happen in such a case today). When I told Dwight what the school board said, he did obey some better. He was intelligent enough that when time came for their eighth grade finals, he and George passed easily enough, and I gave a sigh of relief!
It was then I decided to quit teaching at Fairview at the end of the school year and go to college to upgrade my certificate. Then I could teach in a town or village where the superintendent would have the discipline problems.
I told the school board I was going on to college. I wanted the last day of school program to be something special. After eighth grade boys passed their exams in April, they did not have to attend school any longer. So for two weeks it was really fun to teach and work on the Last Day Program. It was quite a success. Many parents said they wished I would stay on, buy my mind was made up, and I was never sorry. The District gave me $2.75 as a parting gift. I bought a nice purse and a fountain pen with it. I used both for years.
I was planning on going back to Mt. Morris College, but Sunday, April 12, 1931, the girls dormitory and gymnasium of the college burned to the ground. Sandstone, the Science building was hurt too. Then I decided to go to Manchester College. In Glen's letters he had suggested that I further my college education at M.C. while he was there. I sent to M.C. for their catalog.
In May I took my first airplane ride. I had a date with Hazel's brother. There was a plane and pilot using a field north of Sterling to take people up for rides. It wasn't my idea, because I was sure my parents would think it foolish. But my date encouraged me, and we saw several go up, and they acted as if they liked it. So I went. We were strapped in as the only safety measure. The seats were not enclosed, but it was fun, and I was glad I went.
In July my parents took me over to North Manchester, Indiana, to see the college. Glen gave us a tour and introduced us to President Winger. Then we went to visit Glen's parents. Next morning I spoke for a room and work at the college beginning the fall term.
Back in Sterling I divided my time with helping Mother and helping Aunt Grace with canning, cooking and gardening. There were a lot of cucumbers, beans, raspberries, and cherries that year to can. Mother bought peaches at $1.75 a bushel. We canned sixty-three quarts of peaches.
I also tried to look ahead as to what I'd need at college until Christmas. My eyes were bothering me. My doctor advised glasses. Then I got my first pair of glasses. I had my teeth put in shape, too. Dr. Turney filled three teeth charging me a total of two dollars.
The youth of the Church had a farewell party for me. That made me feel a little sad because I knew my parents had plans to move to Durand in six months. That party was ending my membership in the Sterling Youth Department of the Church of the Brethren.
Ruth Brandon, Manchester College Room-mate
Beth Zuck of Lanark wanted to ride to college with us. She was going to be a senior. We left at 5:30 a.m. Sunday, September 6, 1931 and got to North Manchester, Indiana at 4 p.m.. I liked my roommate right away. Her name was Ruth Brandon from Churubusco, Indiana. She and her friends shared their sack lunches with me. My parents brought my trunk and suitcase into my room that was on first floor #106, opposite West End Parlor in Oakwood Hall. Then my parents went downtown to a hotel for the night. Next morning they came to say goodbye. After they left, I came the nearest to having a bad case of homesickness that I have ever had. It happened that Esther Gault was assistant matron of Oakwood Hall and had her office just across the Parlor from my room. Esther was a friend of the Baldwins, and I had met her as she had visited the Baldwins after they first moved to Sterling. She helped me at this time of homesickness, and soon I was feeling better.
That morning I registered, making my first payment of tuition which was $122 a term. My year at M.C. cost around $400. I had work of washing dishes. I signed up to wash three tables of dishes after each meal. There were eight people at a table. During conferences, etc., I would get extra tables. I was paid ten cents a table. Mornings I got eighteen cents a table because of extra cups.
My subjects were psychology under Professor A. R. Eikenberry, Shakespeare from Sadie Wampler, European History from Dr. Andrew Cordier, and College Algebra from Professor Dotterer, and General Gym, first term only.
I had a big sister, Sybil Galbreath. She went with me to several get acquainted parties and helped me wash dishes at first. I was selected to be Proctor on our floor. The girls were cooperative and gave me no trouble. I joined the Philalethea Literary Society. In the spring term I was selected Chairman of the Judiciary Committee of this Society. Our committee had to review the excuses that were given by those who missed meetings, and we had to collect dues. I tried out for the A Cappella Choir and was accepted as an alto. I joined the Student Volunteer Society and was given a Sunday School Class to teach at the west end Mission Chapel, a mile away. We always had to walk, so for the winter term, I resigned from teaching.
I found my subjects harder at M.C. than at M.M.C. Each month I made my grades better. By the end of May, I was getting straight "A"s.
I saw Glen quite regularly at first. I borrowed his math books. He taught at the mission, too, and we went to Walnut Street Church Sunday evenings. I was also getting acquainted with other fine friends. Rachel Schrock was an assistant to Esther Gault in the Oakwood West Matron's Office. Her brother who was a Jr. in college often came over to see her, and I got acquainted with him that way. Rachel often asked me to take her place at the desk when she had other important things to do
Homecoming, October 17, 1931 was a very exciting time with so many things to do and lots of visitors on the campus. Glen's parents and sister and her baby visited me. Ruth's sister came too. The Dramatics Club gave a play, "Death Takes a Holiday," which impressed me very much. Only bad part was that M.C. lost the football game to Defiance that day.
Once in a while I was made aware of what was happening in the world outside M.C. walls. October 18, 1931, Thomas Alva Edison died. In College Chapel, part of the program that day was given to praising Edison's many accomplishments.
Gradually, Glen began going home over weekends more often. There was a difference in our relationship. I didn't mind, because I was getting acquainted with other very interesting and likable friends. Just before Thanksgiving, Glen said he had a steady girl in Fort Wayne, so he and I wouldn't be dating anymore. He quit teaching at the Mission too.
Oakwood Hall, Manchester College, '31-32
In A Cappella, we had to dress alike—white tops and black skirts. I had a skirt, but our tops all had to be made over the same pattern. Professor A. R. Eikenberry's daughter, Helen, helped me make mine. She was one of my best friends in M.C. We spent many pleasant hours together in her home. For over fifty years we have kept in touch.
At Thanksgiving I went to Rachel Schock's home in Middlebury, Indiana with her and her brother. Theirs is a large family. Thirty-three were there for dinner. It was fun and kept me from getting homesick.
I went to the Fall Communion at the Walnut Street Church of the Brethren. It was the largest one I've ever attended. Four hundred took part. For the ordinance of feet washing, we were divided into smaller groups and went into separate rooms. Then all gathered together around the tables for the meal and bread and cup.
Beth Zuck's father came for us at Christmas time. Grandma Hauger had been to a clinic in Missouri where she had been operated upon for cancer and her breast had been removed. I had known she was having health problems, but not that serious. She was home for Christmas and thought she was getting better.
Father asked to borrow money from me to help him get started farming. He wanted to get on our farm in Durand, Illinois. I had mixed feelings, because I wanted to finish a four year course in Elementary Education at M.C. without interruption again. So I said I would think about it. I had already paid him for the money he had borrowed for my Mt. Morris College tuition. I enjoyed that Christmas vacation in Sterling, visiting friends in the church and with Hazel in the Mennonite Church. Father took us back to M.C.
Life again settled into a routine of classes and getting better acquainted with college friends. My roommate had many friends in our dormitory that came from her home school. They became my friends, too. Next door to us was a girl, Helen Petcher, from Citronelle, Alabama. I enjoyed visiting with her and learning much about the people, climate and customs of that state.
Mother wrote that Father needed some of my money, because they were moving to Durand in February. I sent some but still hoped I could continue in M.C. to finish a four year course.
In history class, February 1, 1932, Dr. Cordier talked one whole period on bank closings. Two banks in North Manchester closed that day! I began to be very concerned.
A week later I made a decision which changed my life forever. As a Christmas present my parents had given me a very nice pair of pajamas. All the girls who used the dormitory laundry hung their clothes to dry on lines in the attic. When I went to the attic to get my dry clothes off the line, my nice pajamas were gone. I guess I was in the right mental state to become quite depressed. Nothing else was stolen, but my mind raced ahead with the thought that with a thief in the dormitory, other things could be stolen, too. My pajamas were never found. The same day I wrote to my parents telling Father to inquire that, if there was a vacancy in some school to teach for the next year, I would help him to buy equipment or stock for the farm.
There was a Student Volunteer's Convention held in Indianapolis, Indiana, at a church of a different denomination than mine. I went with a load from M.C. The convention was noisy, I thought. During the sermons, there were "Amens", "Praise the Lord," etc. This type was new to me. I didn't think I liked it. On Sunday we went to the Church of the Brethren where Russell West was the Preacher. I enjoyed that.
Soon I heard from Mother that there was a vacancy in the Durand Village School. I wrote home for them to send me a formal application blank. Ever since Christmas vacation, when Father asked me for money, I had a deep concern over what to do. I prayed daily to be definitely guided. Finally, it seemed that if the Lord wanted me to help my parents with my money, He would give me a school to teach to replace the money. I asked the College Registrar, Mrs. Helman, about getting my certificate upgraded. She said I needed three more hours of composition. I was glad I found out before time to register for the Spring term. So I took three hours of composition from R. C. Wenger the spring term and five hours of Educational Psychology from Eikenberry to make the extra credits I needed for my new Teacher's Certificate. I also took Analytical Geometry instead of Trigonometry.
In March, we had a memorable Chapel talk by President Winger. He said that Manchester College was taken into the North Central Association of Colleges. M.C. had wanted this for years and had worked hard to meet its requirements.
I spent Easter with my parents in Durand. I liked our home which was at the west edge of Durand. I went to see the school principal and the president of the school board, Dr. Young. I also applied for a position in the school at Davis, Illinois. We went to Sterling Easter Sunday to see my Grandparents. It was the last time I saw my Grandmother alive. I spent time with Hazel and other friends in Sterling too.
After Easter I was very busy in college. Besides my studies, the A Cappella Choir was concentrating on giving programs in towns within driving distance of one day. We never stayed over night to give a program. The Y.W. organization needed help to canvas North Manchester to find out what the sentiment was in the town concerning the 18th amendment; whether it should be repealed or not. It was interesting but I didn't enjoy it. I was given several blocks to cover. It was surprising to me the number of people who thought the 18th amendment should be repealed.
In April, I heard from Hazel that she wanted to come after me at the end of the spring term. That made me happy. Father wrote asking me to do something more about getting a teacher's contract. So I went to Dean Meyer, Head of the Education Department of M.C. He was glad to send a recommendation for me to Dr. Young at Durand.
I had not heard much about how Mt. Morris College was getting along after the fire. It was rumored around M.C. that M.M.C. wanted to merge with M.C. Some students of Mt. Morris College and who were friends of mine in Illinois, visited M.C. one weekend. They came to my room and I gave them a tour. They enrolled in M.C. the next Fall.
Our A Cappella Choir was asked to sing at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in June, which was to be held in Anderson, Indiana. We spent the rest of April and May practicing for Conference besides giving programs in other churches during that time.
College life for me was a sheltered life. I scarcely knew what was going on in the world. It was a terrible shock to me when the newspapers in the library had three inch high headlines about the kidnapping of the Lindberg baby. Lindy was a hero to me. In High School we had spent a whole class period in Physics talking about his flight across the Atlantic. I had a scrapbook of his pictures, etc. So I followed the kidnapping quite thoroughly.
May 20, 1932 I received in the mail my contract to teach the first and second grades in the Durand School for 90 dollars a month. That was quite a drop from the $105.00 I got at Fairview the last year. But times were really bad then. Mother said the recommendation the Dean gave was the reason I got the position. That evening four of our girlfriends came into our room and helped me celebrate with ice scream, strawberries, popcorn and lemonade.
Durand School Colleagues - Violet Jupine, Douglas Salisbury, and Grace Ziegler
The last days for me at M.C. were exciting. Hazel Long and Ruth Kreider came for me one day before the senior graduation. Our A Cappella Choir gave three numbers on the graduation program. Then, we put all my things in Hazel's car, and we three girls went visiting Ruth's relatives in Columbia City, Indiana and friends in Goshen College, Goshen, Indiana before we headed for home. At Ruth Kreider's home in Sterling, I heard that Grandma Hauger had died just the night before. I felt bad because I had not come home soon enough to see her again before she died. Her funeral was June 2, 1932. She is buried in the cemetery at the East Edge of Sterling.
My Grandparents had always liked to go to Annual Conference of our Church. So I began talking about going to the Conference in Anderson where our A Cappella Choir was going to sing. Grandpa said he would like to go if Galen and I would do the driving. Hazel wanted to go along, too. So the next day, after Galen graduated from Sterling High School, we left for Indiana in Grandpa Erskine's car. We went via No. Manchester where I picked up my final grades which were all "A"s for which I was thankful. The next day, Saturday, we got to Anderson. Hazel and I got bunk beds there for 25 cents a night. It was great to see the College friends again and to practice our songs. At 1:30 p.m. our choir gave our program. Towards evening Grandpa got restless and insisted on going home the next morning. The rest of us were very disappointed, but we went back to Sterling the next day.
Grandpa would make his home with us for a while. Back in Durand I began making friends with the neighbors and other young people. Marion Van Sykle was the first to call on us. She was a private tutor. The Methodist minister called on us too. Ralph and I went to the Methodist Church some at first. There I met the other three teachers who would be teaching in the grade school with me. Grace Ziegler was a twin. She taught the 3rd and 4th grades. Violet Jupin taught the 5th and 6th grades and Douglas Salisbury had the 7th and 8th grades. The superintendent of the High School was our superintendent too. Douglas and I were the new teachers. Grace took me to the school and then drove around town explaining some things. She and her twin sister, Gladys, had lived there all their lives.
Father and Grandpa had to get his home in Sterling ready to rent. All Grandpa's furniture, dishes, etc., were divided up among Charlie, Lem, Grace and Father. Father brought our share home in his truck. Things were crowded for some time. Grandpa's place was rented for $14.00 a month.
Our family decided we felt more at home in the Freeport Church of the Brethren than in the Methodist at Durand. We went to Freeport quite regularly, except in bad weather. Evenings and for special programs in the Methodist Church, I went with Grace. Helen was dating Martin Johansen then and seemed quite serious about him.
First Church Camp, Lewiston, IL, 1932
Father wanted the rest of my money. The Rock Falls Bank had closed and one never knew when another would close. So I drew out the rest of my money from the Sterling Bank and gave it to Father. On July 30th the Durand bank closed just after Father had taken the money down there. We were sick about it. But the next day, Father went downtown to inquire. The banker gave his money back. He said he knew it was closing, so he never entered Father's money on the books. Even with my money Father needed more than he could get by selling the 1931 crop of corn and oats that the renter had left there. Corn was 32 cents a bushel and oats 15 cents, and Father delivered it to Juda, Wisconsin for that small amount. Finally, they went to Rockford and borrowed $140.00 through the Household Finance Company that charged a terribly high interest.
In August of 1932, Morris wanted to take a carload down to Camp Lewistown again. He asked me. I was glad to go. There was room for one more, so we asked Hazel. Youth camp was a new experience for her. Morris had a carload of five girls. Two leaders of camp were so good that year that I still remember them. Dr. D. W. Kurtz spoke one evening on "Choices." He put them in this order: first choice, Christ; second, your vocation; third, your life companion. Dan West had a class on "Thinking." I'll always remember that camping experience. I got to know Morris better during that week, too.
Monday, August 29, 1932, was my first day of teaching in the Durand grade school. I had 14 beginners and 11 in second grade. The second day of teaching there was a tragic accident that killed two prominent men of Durand. The schools were closed for two half days for the funerals.
First and Second Grades, Durand, IL, 1932
I liked Grace better every day. I also got acquainted with a neighbor girl who liked to ride horses. We often went horseback riding in nice weather. September 29th I got my first check of 89 dollars. One dollar went for teacher's pension.
The BYPD in the Freeport church was very active. Soon my social life was mainly centered there. I was given topics to talk on in their evening programs. My parents came with me on Sunday mornings. Then I would stay over with relatives or friends for the evening service. Morris would take me home. Sometimes another couple came along, so Morris didn't have to drive home alone.
Beth Zuck was teaching at Pecatonica. She wanted to go to Homecoming at M.C. in October of 1932 and wanted me to go along. I was glad for the chance to see Ruth again. Also, Galen and Arthur Baldwin were freshmen there. Ruth arranged for me to stay in Oakwood Hall. I enjoyed that weekend renewing friendships and catching up on news.
In politics, this was going to be my first presidential election that I could take part in. President Hoover was up for reelection. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the Democrat running against him. Many thought that if F.D.R. got in, it would mean the decline of our nation. He promised everything the people wanted to hear. He would repeal the 18th amendment so everyone could have plenty of beer and alcoholic drinks. He would give jobs to all who wanted them. No more banks would close, etc. President Hoover was a peace loving, God fearing man. He never took one cent of his pay as President of the U.S. He said he didn't need it. He gave it all back to the U.S. Treasury. Still, F.D.R. became President!
In November of 1932, I went with Morris to the District BYPD Rally at Franklin Grove, Illinois. I stayed over night with Pauline Trostle. Reverend I. D. Leatherman and Robert Tully were the leaders. This meeting was very worthwhile.
When my November school paycheck came, I could not cash it. We were told there were no funds. Our December check was ten days late. Father needed more money to pay the interest on his farm mortgage. He used my checks as collateral to borrow money at the Rock City Bank. Times then were what have since been called "The Great Depression."
During Christmas vacation I visited Hazel. She gave me a cute black and white puppy. I named him "Jimmy." My parents were glad for him too. He became a good farm dog.
In February of 1933, the Freeport BYPD decided to give a play. Irene Fierheller would be our director. She had been a Mt. Morris College teacher of Dramatics. She chose a play named "Soldiers of the Cross." I was to have one lead part and Webster Firebaugh the other lead part. The practicing took a lot of time and trips to Freeport, but it was fun, and each audience seemed to like it. Irene said that since we had the play learned we might as well take it to the neighboring churches. They were glad to have us come. We went to Lena, Rockford, Milledgeville, and Sterling.
Douglas Salisbury was in charge of a Boy Scout troop in Durand. Several of the girls came to me, asking me to start a Girl Scout troop. I made inquiry of the District Office in Rockford. Miss Carter from that office encouraged me to go ahead and told all that was required. I met all those qualifications and called our first meeting. Miss Carter was there and twenty-three girls came and joined with remarkable enthusiasm. I got some local help from a high school teacher who had been a Girl Scout worker before. That organization continued for years after I left.
As March and April came on, I became uneasy because I was anxious to get a teaching contract for another year. Douglas Salisbury was offered one from the high school to be coach. My mother said "What will you do if you can't get a school"? I said, "I don't know. I'll just have to trust that I will get one." She and I both knew I had given most of my money to them.
By the first of May I was relieved to get the contract, but my pay was $80.00 a month. It was "take it or leave it." I knew there were plenty who wanted my position, so I took it. Grace lost her position as 3rd and 4th grade teacher. The niece of the school board treasurer got Grace's class. Grace had to apply many places and finally found a rural school ten miles away.
On May 6, 1933, I bought a four-door Pontiac from our local dealer. It was a demonstrator. I paid $350.00 with monthly payments of $21.45. By the end of the year I had my car paid for.
spent my twenty-second birthday with Morris and his family who had invited me
for dinner. In the afternoon I asked Morris to drive my car. We went on the
South Freeport Road hunting wild flowers.
Firebaugh Family, 1933
Morris, Catherine, Bert, Maude, Ardis, and Webster (L-R)
Cousin Lloyd Hauger and Ruth Kreider were married at her home in Sterling on May 27, 1933. I played the wedding march. Hazel served the wedding lunch.
We had regular Girl Scout meetings all summer. In June one of my Scouts and I went to the World's Fair in Chicago. We went by train with a large group of Girl Scouts in charge of Miss Carter from Rockford. Each of the Captains who went along were given seven or more girls to be responsible for during the trip. One of my girls lost her purse, so I had to pay her expenses for the rest of the trip.
I had an enjoyable summer in 1933, dating Morris quite regularly. Transportation was a constant problem, but we managed pretty well with the cooperation of both of our families. On the 4th of July Morris and I went to a park in Rockford and took a roller coaster ride. That was my first such ride!
That same month Morris invited me to go with him to the Burgess Cellulose factory picnic. The drinks were free. I was offered a glass of beer. Luckily I got the smell of it first, so I knew what it was and refused it. Morris said that was the first year that beer was allowed at the picnic. President Roosevelt had kept his promise to do away with the 18th amendment. In August I had a chance to go to the World's Fair again. Morris drove and we took Ralph and Ardis along.
I took a carload of girls down to Camp Lewistown again in August. We had no car trouble. We had good camp leaders: Raymond Peters; Mrs. Jeff Mathis; Annetta Mow and Benny Waas.
School started again in September. It was easier. I had eight in the first grade and eleven in second grade. The new seventh and eighth grade teacher was Mr. Elliott. Doris Mann had third and fourth grades.
Morris and I were invited to visit Lloyd and Ruth in Chicago. They took us to visit the WLS. Broadcasting station and to Westmont to see our Uncle and Aunt, Clarence and Ora Yohn. Father began to advise me to think carefully before giving up my school there in Durand, to get married. Rumors were floating that we were engaged, but we were not.
Morris, Beth Zuck, and I went to M.C. homecoming that fall, in my car. Galen had made arrangements for us to stay over night. That was my last trip to M.C. for many years. We brought Arthur Baldwin along back to Sterling because his father and brothers were moving to California, where Reverend Baldwin agreed to preach. Mrs. Baldwin had died during the summer.
The Girl Scouts were asked by Miss Carter to have a cookie sale. The mothers and I got together and made many dozens of cookies. The girls and I sacked them up and sold them around town and wherever we could find a buyer. What a difference between then and now—fifty years later.
November 7th, 1933, Webster and Twila were married. Morris was best man. On Thanksgiving Day 1933, Morris and I became engaged. Our plans then were to go to Bethany Bible School the next year. He wanted to be a missionary, and I would learn nursing. For Christmas, Morris gave me a steamer trunk. I gave him a bathrobe and house slippers.
Mother was very quiet after hearing our plans. I found her crying one day. She said she would not think of interfering in our plans, because she had given Ralph and me to the Lord before we were born. If our plans were to succeed we knew it would take a lot of faith and money for our education before we could go to a foreign field. We talked with Reverend Esbensen about our plans. He counseled with us and advised us that there was much we could do in the Freeport Church since it was still a mission point, partly supported by the outreach program of our Brotherhood. Since Morris had a good job at the Cellulose Company, we could do a lot of good by giving a tithe, too.