Chapter 3: OUR WEDDING, NEW FAMILY, AND FARM
My parents were having serious financial problems again. Farmers' prices were unbelievably low. A neighbor sold a cow to a packing company in Chicago. He received a bill from the company for feed because the selling price of the cow did not pay for the feed she ate while waiting to be sold. Times were so discouraging that I was afraid Father would get sick with worry. There was Federal money available since the Democrats were in power, but certain regulations had to be obeyed too. Since it appeared there was no other way, Father decided to go along with the government program. His corn-crib was sealed and he was given money for it. He spent it all to pay the interest on his mortgage.
Father could raise, by the law, just a certain number of pigs. Two of our neighbors counted our little pigs. Father, because he had taken special care of them as they were born, had too many. So the surplus was taken away and supposed to be killed! But we knew of some families living by the railroad tracks, all at once now had little pigs to eat their garbage. One of our corn-cribs was broken into one night, and corn was stolen. Even though it was reported, nothing was done because Father had no proof.
In February we learned that Bethany Hospital would not take married women into their nurse's training school. We had set our wedding date for June 7th which was Morris' parents' wedding anniversary date. I hoped my school would be out by then. I told the Girl Scouts' Sponsoring Club Chairman to find another Girl Scout Captain for the next year. When I was offered my teaching contract for the next year I told them I had other plans.
Some banks were beginning to open. More men were employed in government sponsored Civilian Conservation Corps work (CCC). They planted trees, did road work, and dams and terraces. Rough barracks were built to house the men. Some barracks were built in Rockford and at the Pines State Park near Mt. Morris. Also April 1, 1934 was the beginning of a one-cent sales tax in Illinois. That very day my car broke down in Rockford. The starter was worn out, I was told. The bill cost me $4.15 + 4 cents sales tax.
The last days of school were hectic with programs to plan for and parties to attend in Durand and similar activities in Freeport. At our last meeting of the Girl Scouts they gave me a photo album with all their names in it. Mother and I went shopping in Rockford and Freeport for wedding clothes and linens, etc., to set up housekeeping. Morris was able to find a furnished home, 114 E. Douglas in Freeport for $15.00 a month.
First Home on Douglas in Freeport, IL
May and June gave us very hot, dry weather. Farmers were very anxious about their crops. My parents cooperated in every way they could to help our plans work out. School very definitely had to keep in session through June 8. I did not want the village people to know my wedding date because they had a record of giving newlyweds a shivaree party on their wedding night which was no fun for the newlyweds.
Hazel came up on June 6th to help with anything I needed. Her school was out. June 7th was play and track day at school. Hazel really helped me there, keeping score of games, etc. Morris came with her and took my car back to Freeport. Grace, Hazel and our neighbor girl were the only ones who knew this was my wedding day. The neighbor girl helped my mother all day, helping to prepare for our wedding supper, etc. The wedding was to be at 4 p.m. Mr. Elliott, the 7th and 8th grade teacher, called a teacher's meeting. I thought it would never end. Finally, I got home by 1:45 p.m. I surely appreciated the help of my three girlfriends who helped in the kitchen and helped serve the meal after our wedding. Grace baked our wedding cake and decorated it.
At 4 p.m. Ralph played the wedding march. Morris met me at the head of the stairs. We went down the open stairway, into the parlor where the guests were standing. Reverend Esbensen married us, and Hazel and Webster signed our certificate as witnesses. Those present besides our parents and my three girlfriends were Morris' sister Kathryn and husband and his sister Ardis and brother Webster and Mrs. Esbensen. After the wedding supper, Morris and I went to Freeport to get our pictures taken.
Our Wedding Photo,
Durand, IL June 7, 1934
June 8th we got up early and packed the car. I had to go to school to pass out report cards. It always seemed to me the last two days at school were a waste of time, but the records had to show that school was held those days. A teachers meeting was also held. They gave me an electric iron for our wedding present. Then I told them that we had been married at home the night before and were leaving Durand as soon as my duties there were finished.
We left at 11:15 a.m. It was a hot day for driving. We were glad to get to Uncle John and Aunt Sally Newman's at West Concord, Minnesota, that evening. Next morning we started on a wedding trip that consisted mostly of visiting relatives of Morris who lived in Minnesota and Iowa. We did rent a little cabin on Lake Okoboji in Iowa for two days. We rested up there. I would never recommend a honeymoon spent visiting relatives because it is too tiring. At Beaver, Iowa, we stayed with friends of Morris while we attended Annual Conference at Ames for three days. Morris had become a Christian in the Beaver Church of the Brethren in 1927 while Jeff Mathis was preaching there.
By June 14th we were very glad to get back to Freeport and into our home on Douglas Street. This was a furnished house, but our landlady kept a room upstairs to use and had kitchen privileges. Morris and I knew that our stay here was temporary while we looked for a better house which we could furnish on our own.
The second night home, Webster and Twila and several others came to shivaree us. We lived one door from the Superior Dairy, so it was simple to go there for treats for our visitors.
Morris was given the junior high boys to teach in Sunday School, and I was given the girls to teach. Our life soon centered around our S.S. and church work, family activities and Morris' work at the Burgess Cellulose Plant in Freeport. There were well known speakers who gave programs in Freeport and nearby towns. Aimie Semple McPherson was a popular evangelist in 1934. When she came to Rockford, we went to hear her preach. We were not favorably impressed because it seemed she was too self-centered. Later we went to Pearl City to hear Dr. John Holland preach in a Methodist church there. He was a column writer in the Prairie Farmer Magazine for years. We enjoyed his sermon.
We were getting acquainted with our next door neighbors west of us. Their name was "Kuner." They were Germans and he was a scientist. Suddenly, they decided to go home to Germany. All newspapers were printing news concerning Adolf Hitler and of the turmoil in Germany. We remonstrated with Kuners, saying they were lucky to be here and out of trouble. We got the impression that their desire to go back to Germany was not voluntary on their part. They had a sale of household furnishings and we bought quite a few things, including a set of green dishes. By November they were gone, and there was talk of war with Germany.
Wedding Party, June 7, 1934
By the second month of sharing our home with our landlady we were anxious to rent a place with more privacy. We started looking for a place and saving for furnishings. We found a place at 507 W. Clark St. We could rent it for $20.00 a month with option to buy if it came up for sale. We thought the location was excellent because it was in walking distance from the shopping area and from church and from the Cellulose Company. By the last of August we moved into this place on Clark Street, with just a minimum of furnishings. We had fun and much satisfaction in furnishing this house. We did it gradually, always looking for good buys. Our biggest pieces of furniture came from Montgomery Wards. We bought a good set of silver ware called Oneida Community Plate, Madelon Style, twenty-eight pieces. Later my Uncle Clarence and Aunt Ora in Westmont, Illinois, gave us twelve more pieces, same style. That gift was much appreciated. After fifty years, we still have all of the set and in good condition.
Our Second Home on 507 W. Clark Street
I wanted to keep my teaching certificate current so that I could do substitute teaching. I tried to attend all the teacher's institutes and read the required books and visited an elementary school during the school year. I applied for my teacher's pension money and got the $20.00 back that I had put into it during my four years of teaching.
It was a new experience for us when our church elected Morris and me to go to Naperville, Illinois, as delegates to the District Meeting in 1934. We were instructed by our congregation to tell the business meeting that our congregation thought we could meet our expenses on our own now without any help from the District. We no longer needed to be under the mission program. The delegates sent back to our congregation congratulations for that decision.
In November we began talking to our landlady, Mrs. Ridgeway, about buying the house. She wanted $2,800 for it. We looked at other houses, which were all $4,000 or more. On December 24, 1934, we bought the house signing the contract for $2,800. We were to pay $300 in cash down, and she also counted the past rent as payment. Also, we were to continue payments monthly on the principle. She had the privilege of storing her things in two rooms upstairs until she could sell them. She kept those rooms locked since she lived in Chicago.
We were happy that, for the first Christmas of our married life, we could spend it in our own home. We had a coal-burning furnace. Pocahontas coal, the best, was $10.50 a ton. Sometimes a man from our congregation went to southern Illinois mines and brought back coal, which he sold to friends at $6.50 a ton. We often bought from him, but the coal was dusty and burned dirty. Our electric bills were around $1.60 a month.
Early spring, Mrs. Ridgeway sold her belongings and gave us the key to those two rooms. also that spring we had our place landscaped for $50.00 by a local nurseryman, Mr. Wise. We had a medium size garden and enjoyed planting and caring for it. Mrs. Ridgeway left some beautiful tulips, iris, and roses. I canned and preserved all summer. Peaches, in season, were $1.25 a bushel. Mother was not well that summer, so we took peaches up home and canned them for her. We often went up to help with haying or threshing and preparing meals for the workers. I often stayed over night, especially when Morris worked the 11-7 shift.
The summer of 1935 Morris was paid regularly $61.62 for two weeks work. Some repairs and redecorating of our home were such that we could do them ourselves. One part of our cellar needed work done to get a place ready to store the jars of food I intended to can. I really enjoyed being home doing the housework and sewing and helping Morris finish his high school work through the American School of Correspondence in Chicago. I took part in the music of the church and in Ladies' Aid work. We had many special programs and plays.
Ralph was interested in the Youth work of the church now too. He would come down to take part, stay over night and go back to Durand next morning. Every week there was a prayer meeting at church as well as Sunday evening services. For several years the churches of Freeport united to sponsor revival meetings. In 1935, they got a famous evangelistic team, Stephens and Storrs. The meetings lasted two weeks and were held in the Masonic Temple. I sang in the huge choir and Morris was an usher.
Our church cooperated in vacation Bible School with the Baptist Church that summer. The wife of the Baptist Preacher was the general superintendent, and I was superintendent of the elementary grades. I had six teachers and their classes to supervise. It also lasted two weeks with a big evening program to finish. I enjoyed doing it. The classes were held in the old Baptist Church on the north side of Stephenson Street where an insurance company is now.
In June, we went to Annual Conference at Winona Lake, Indiana. we stayed three days and camped in a tent. Reverend C.C. Ellis was Moderator. We met people named Woody who claimed to be cousins of my mother's through the Haldemans. In years to come we had many good times with them in Elgin and California. Cousin Galen Hauger married Thelma Frantz on July 13, 1935 in a beautiful garden wedding in Sterling where they lived for many years.
In the 1935 District Meeting in Lanark, the youth of Elgin gave a very impressive play, 'The Eleventh Mayor.' It dealt with the principle of peace making which is one of the doctrines of the Church of the Brethren. In October 1935, Italy invaded Ethiopia. It was the hope of everyone that political pressure from the peaceful nations would make Italy withdraw. But in November it was still at war. All Europe was afraid the war would spread. Our church at the national level encouraged the selling of 'Peace Bonds,' the money from which would be used for peace information and activities by the General Board.
I was alone quite a lot with Morris working nights and the 3-11 shift. I thought a pet dog would be company. A friend had toy bulldog pups. He gave us one. My experience with dogs had been always with strong healthy farm pups. This little pup was very cute, but he got sick. I took him to the veterinarian, but he died in eight days. I never wanted another dog in town!
At the fall council meeting, the Deaconship was taken from one of the deacons because he divorced his wife. In December of 1935, the Lindberg family moved to England. They thought their life would be more private and safer there. On April 3, 1936, Hauptman was electrocuted for the kidnapping of their baby and for its death. The baby's nurse committed suicide because she was implicated. Rudyard Kipling and King George of England died in January of 1936.
The Ladies Aid of our church would meet every month for all day. I was chairman of the missionary outreach and was expected to give a missionary program before the congregation six times a year. Returned missionaries were generally glad to come to tell of their work on the mission field. But six programs a year seemed to take a lot of effort on my part.
The winter of 1936 was one of the worst Illinois had ever had. It was very cold and too much snow. There was a shortage of coal in many states. Grace had married Ed Thoren, and they lived in Rockford. She no longer taught school, so we would often visit each other. She taught me to knit. Morris often worked twelve-hour shifts. He would be called in early to take the place of someone who got sick, etc.
At the spring council April 26, 1936, Morris and I were elected to the Deaconship for life. In May, then, we had our first experience helping LeBaron's and Fierheller's get ready for communion. Laura LeBaron had me help her make communion bread. Next door, east of us, we had very elderly neighbors, Mrs. Burbridge and her brother, Jim Albright. She was frail, and Jim was senile. She came to us with many of her problems'money and health. She had a son living in Iowa, but we had never seen him visit his mother. When we put our garden in she asked us to put hers in, too.
Across the street, Minnie Cooper was a very kind and thoughtful neighbor. She helped Mary Burbridge, too. Minnie liked to work in her garden as we did in ours, so we shared extra plants, vegetables, and fruit. Mr. Wise, the nurseryman, came several times, following up on the plantings he had done the spring before. He replaced those that had died. Ralph graduated from Durand High School in June of 1936. Mr. Oscar Winger from Manchester College encouraged him to go to M.C., but Ralph preferred to get a business education from Brown's Business College in Freeport.
I had eight girls in our Junior High S.S. Class. For a project we corresponded with a daughter of a missionary in India. She was the age of our girls, and her name was Lorita Shull. We got word from her and her father that she and her brother Gordon were coming to the U.S. early in June. They wanted to visit us on the way to their Grandparents in North Manchester. Gordon and Lorita Shull came to Freeport June 8th. Our S.S. class gave them a picnic the first evening. They stayed in the homes of the different girls until the morning of June 11. Then Morris and I took them and Irene Fierheller, Iris and Donna to Winona Lake where Irene's folks lived and then to N. Manchester where Lorita's Grandparents lived.
Then Morris and I went on to Hershey, Pennsylvania, where Annual Conference was being held. We spent three days at Conference. It was much the same as the time Helen and I had gone there with Reverend Baldwin. The Conference Hall where the meetings were held was in the recreation park. A large roller coaster had been added to this park since I had been there. The noise it made was very disruptive to our meetings. The park management cooperated only partially. I think Conference was never held there again. We went through the candy factory the third day and then left for Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. We had a tour of the Capitol, and visited Gettysburg National Cemetery. We stayed in cabins over night the rest of this vacation trip and the price was generally around $1.25.
We visited important places in Washington D.C. We walked the 'board walk' at Atlantic City and then on to Morris' cousins at Trenton, N.J. We had a map of New York City and, using it, found our way to see many of the sights'the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and Grants Tomb. The next day we visited the 'Seeing Eye Kennels' at Morristown, N.J. We spent time seeing historic sights in Boston. I was disappointed there. I got the impression of crowding and cluttering, especially in the area of 'Old North Church."
At Kittery, Maine, the government was making submarines, so we couldn't get very close to that part of the city. In New Hampshire, we stopped at Temple to see Andrea Anderson, a sister of our Pastor, Reverend Esbensen. At Niagara Falls, we went through the Shredded Wheat Factory where we were given a tour which ended with a dish of a shredded wheat biscuit and a banana and milk which tasted very good. The first view of the Falls I will never forget. We were given a tour beneath the Falls. I understand it has been discontinued. The Locks on the Welland Canal we found very interesting. On our way home we picked up the Fierhellers at Van Dykes in Winona Lake and got home June 28th. Of course I made a scrapbook of the whole trip!
Morris and I were in charge of the Home Department of our church. It required visiting the sick, shutins and elderly who could not get out to services. We gave them S.S. material and often had prayer with them.
August 7th, 1936 we bought a new Cold Spot refrigerator. Up to this time we had been using a little icebox.
We thought our backyard looked so nice that we could have a lawn party for our young married people's S.S. class. I made cute white aprons for my Jr. High girls to wear to serve our dessert and help during the party. All had fun. Sixty-five were present.
In September 1936, Ralph came to live with us to go to Browns Business College for a course in accounting. He also got a job clerking in the A&P grocery store during the p.m. and Saturdays. Soon he was taking active part in the church program.
On November 4th, 1936, the people of our country were surprised when Franklin Roosevelt was reelected president by a landslide. Most people expected Republican Landin to win. On November 25th, 1936, Morris filled out blanks for Social Security, which was just starting then.
By the middle of November, I was sure I was pregnant, but I wanted it to be our secret for a while.
Whenever we had company from out of state we took them through the Arcade Toy Factory, Kraft's Cheese Factory, and the Raleigh Company. My former roommate, Ruth Brandon, with her boyfriend came to visit us and, since he was an agricultural major, we took them both to see the Raleigh Ideal Farms, too, on Route 20, west of Freeport. At that time they were beautiful and efficient and amazed visitors. Ruth and Franklin were impressed.
On December 10th, I made my first trip to Dr. Harlan. He said I was anemic and gave me medicine for my blood. Because I was feeling sick much of the time, I resigned from the program committee. About this time the County Superintendent of Schools, Mr. Pfisterer asked me to take a country school, for the rest of the year. I told him I couldn't do it and why.
By the time our third Christmas after our marriage came Morris and I realized we were starting a family custom. His parents always expected us to spend Christmas Eve with them and their family. My parents always wanted us to eat Christmas Day dinner at noon with them and Ralph. We followed this custom for over thirty years.
This was a very eventful year for our friends and us. Hazel told us that she and Truman Lapp were planning to be married in the summer. I bought three maternity dresses for good and casual wear and made two cotton dresses for housework. Vera and Charles Johansen told me that she and Charles were expecting also in July.
Morris finished his High School Correspondence course and got his diploma. Money in a savings account in the bank drew only 1/2% interest then. Postal Savings paid 2%. Whenever we could we bought a $25 postal bond. By March I was feeling better, but the doctor still gave me medicine.
Mary Burbridge and Jim were still in need of more care and attention. Mary wanted her house cleaned, so Morris and I did it for her. Then she got sick. Her doctor asked me to go over to give her medicine as needed. During an ice storm and slippery conditions under foot I told her doctor that other arrangements had to be made. Mary's son was contacted by her doctor. He got a housekeeper for a while.
I began sewing for our baby and getting his room ready. I used my steamer trunk for his clothes. Mother gave me some clothes, which I put through Clorox water and ironed. The Ladies Aid had a stork shower for Vera and me in April. There were thirty at the shower. We were each given a bassinet and other nice things.
Grandpa Hauger who had been living with Uncle Charlie's got infection in his eye. It was so bad that he had to go to the hospital and have it removed. It was hard on him to be blind. His other eye had been blinded in cataract surgery some years before. Finally, in June, Father, Charlie and Lem took him to Moline, Illinois, to the sanitarium where he died on July 20.
In May, Reverend Esbensen resigned as our Pastor. It made us real sad, but he did not leave until after July.
When I went to the doctor in May he said my blood pressure was low. He thought our baby would come in three weeks'that sounded good to me. During these months, Minnie Cooper and a couple other neighbors were very good to me. They called or came over or took me for a ride, often when Morris was working. They said they just wanted to 'keep an eye on me.' Ruth Brandon sent me a note or letter about once a week. As I waited, June was three weeks gone when I went to the doctor. He said to be patient and put me on a diet of skim milk, Jell-O and orange juice.
Morrie and Parents
Sunday, July 4th, I did not go to church services. I had lots of company that afternoon. I had a chance to go to Durand with Lloyd and Ruth but was persuaded against it by others who were there at that time. I was glad I didn't go because at 5 p.m. my signs started for real. Morris took me to the hospital at 11:40 p.m.. Doctor sent Morris home because he did not think the baby would come until morning. I was disappointed because I didn't see how I could make it until morning. Finally, Monday afternoon, July 5th, 1937 our son was born. We named him Morris William. He weighed eight pounds and had dark hair. Next day I had visitors and every day during the eleven days I was there in the hospital. One day I had twelve visitors. The nurses considered limiting my callers, but didn't. The neighbors all seemed so interested as well as the church friends. Morris sent Ruth Brandon a telegram. There was no air conditioning in the hospital. I was hot and uncomfortable most of the time. Morris and Ardis were home canning cherries that Minnie Cooper said they could have for the picking.
Saturday, July 10th, Vera had her baby boy, Carlisle Emmert. From then on many of the same visitors who came to see one of us, went to see the other, too. We got many presents for our little sons. I went home July 16. The doctor bill was $78.00. The hospital bill was $68.75. On August 2nd, we took out a $250.00 Metropolitan Insurance policy for Morris William.
Sunday, August 15th, Morris William Firebaugh was consecrated to the Lord at the morning worship service. At this time his father and I truly promised the Lord we would do our best to raise our son to know and love God and His Son Jesus and honor and obey and study God's word. We have certainly tried to keep this promise which we made to the Lord even before our children were born.
August 19th, our church family gave a farewell party to the Esbensens. There were 140 attending. Soon afterwards Reverend D. D. Harner, wife and son moved into the parsonage, and we started getting acquainted with a new pastor.
Ralph was with us again and going to business college. He sometimes babysat with his little nephew, and we appreciated that. On our parent's 30th wedding anniversary Ralph and I planned a family surprise for them. We invited the relatives from the Freeport area. Father and Mother were very surprised because in our family, birthdays and anniversaries often went by without comment.
Vera and I went to teachers' institute, which I continued to do as long as I lived in town. I kept my teachers certificate registered each year, too.
By November, I realized our son was not gaining in weight as he should. He was cross much of the time and seemed hungry. I took him to the doctor who tested my milk and found it not rich enough. I was given a formula to mix and feed to him in addition. I started giving him two ounces after each nursing. When he wanted six ounces I quit nursing him. He was four and one half months old then. He gained much better and was happier and contented. Dextri Maltose was what I mixed with boiled milk.
Morrie's first Christmas was fun for all of us. The Grandparents Firebaugh and all his cousins, aunts and uncles living in Freeport came to our place on Christmas eve. Morrie was in his buggy and interested in the soft cuddly toys, which were given to him. On Christmas Day we went to see his other grandparents in Durand.
For January 1, 1938, I have written in my diary; 'Japan is trying to conquer China, Spain is in civil war, Germany is suppressing Christianity more and more. United States considers there is a crisis and has recalled its ministers from Germany and Japan."
Morris William was given two baby books at his birth. I kept them both current because I intended to give one to him to keep and I wanted to keep one. Records can always come in handy. Morrie got his first tooth February 28, 1938 and the next day he stood up by himself in the playpen.
Our neighbors, Mary and Jim, were having trouble again. Their housekeeper left, and Jim was more than Mary could handle. Her son Bert came, and Jim was taken to Moline. In about two weeks, Jim died. We sent telegrams and called and wrote for Mary. Bert and Ethel came to get her ready for the funeral. In July, Mary got sick and had to go to the hospital. I wrote to Bert again for her. Finally, Mary came home from the hospital when Bert found someone to stay with her. Soon Bert took her to a nursing home in Mt. Carol. He gave Morris charge of selling her home. Morris advertised it in the paper and had many answers. In six days Morris sold it for $1,450.00 cash to Harold and Helen Myers. Bert gave Morris $25.00 for his trouble. Then we had to sell Mary's furniture and dishes. Bert told us to keep something for our trouble, so I kept a rocking chair. It has been in my kitchen ever since. We got $16.10 for the things we could sell. We gave the rest to the Salvation Army. Mr. Myers, who bought the place, later became a Freeport policeman.
Morris and I began to look at small parcels of land in 1938. We were surprised at the prices. East of town, on route 75, was an acre for sale for $500.00. We found another place, a 60 by 100 lot for sale for $350.00. We wanted to get out of town and build a new house, but we decided then to keep looking but not to be in a hurry.
In June, Morrie took three steps walking from me to his Grandma Hauger. He was walking well by his first birthday. He was very sick with a cold on his birthday. I took him to the doctor who gave me three kinds of medicine for him. Ear ache developed. We were very concerned because he would not eat. July 11th we had the doctor to come to the house for Morrie because he was very sick. The doctor called it Summer Grippe and to keep on with the medicine. Finally, Morrie's right ear broke and began draining. Next day his left ear did the same thing. That eased his pain and he rested better. Soon he regained his appetite. Then he got another tooth. I took him to the doctor one more time, and Dr. gave me oil to put into his ears. Also, he gave him a diphtheria shot.
The men of the church, during the summer, renovated the church basement. In September we had a special day of rededication of the church basement. Reverend Burton of Lena spoke in the afternoon, and I helped with special music.
Hitler, in Germany, was making more war threats. England's Prime Minister Chamberlain went to Berlin to talk peace. He came away feeling the situation had been helped, and we heard him talk over the radio. Hitler seemed to agree with the settlement. We were hoping the war scare was over.
Drew Pearson, a popular newsman, columnist, and radio commentator spoke in Freeport in December. We went to hear him give a talk, 'Washington Merry Go Round.' We were not very much encouraged about our government by him.
We didn't travel far from home during the summer of 1938. We accepted an invitation to visit relatives in Elgin and Chicago. Morrie was a good baby and even slept well one night in a lawn chair and another night on a card table. On November 20, 1938, Morrie went into Sunday school class by himself. He got a paper and a card there. He had perfect attendance for many years.
In 1939 we took a vacation trip over July 4th to Minnesota, visiting relatives and then into Wisconsin where we rented a cabin at Lake Arbutus near Black River Falls. We enjoyed a few days of relaxing which Morris spent fishing. We were so near the water that I put a harness on Morrie when he wanted to walk around outside.
Reverend Fike came to be our Pastor in December because the Harners had left at the beginning of the school year. Reverend Fike's wife was Clara and his sons were Ernest and Elbert. My mother had a double hernia operation in November with Dr. Karcher operating. War started in Europe in September. Charles Lindberg gave a radio address to the United States urging this country to stay out of Europe's war. Many people called him unwise and accused him of being in favor of the Nazis of Germany. The way the newspapers were spreading propaganda about Hitler persecuting the Jews, we could see our country was heading for war with Germany.
By Thanksgiving time I was sure I was pregnant, and we were glad.2
Vera and Charles Johansen had a second son born February 28, 1940. His name is Robert Charles. Helen and Bob Reed had a son named Charles Richard. On May 13th, our son Douglas Bert was born weighing 8 and 1/2 pounds and 19 and 1/2 inches long. We had to put him on the bottle soon after I came home from the hospital and began doing the housework. I had learned from our experience with Morrie that a well-fed baby is a good baby.
Morrie and Douglas in December, 1940
In April we bought a lot on Avon Street, hoping to build on it. Later in the summer, through friends, we learned of a one hundred acre farm for sale well located west of Freeport three miles. We located a realtor and looked at the farm. The house was in terrible condition and would have to have major rebuilding and remodeling. It had the poorest set of buildings in the neighborhood. It looked as though only the corncrib and barn were worth anything. The price was sixty dollars an acre. We decided if we could sell our place at 507 W. Clark St. for cash, we would take the farm.
It was certainly a challenge. We were able to sell our house for $3,440.00 cash. Then we were able to buy the farm for $5,950.00. We got a loan of $4,700.00 from the Federal Land bank and paid the rest in cash. We could not get access to move to the farm until March 1, 1941 but we did have the privilege of painting the corncrib and gathering wood that could be burned in a cook stove after we moved out there. We took our boys with us while we worked.
The conscription bill drafting our boys into service passed in congress. It included all boys 21-35 years old.
In January, Douglas stood up alone. We had both of the boys pictures taken at Hartman's studio. Mother had another surgery, a cystiseal, strengthening some of her internal organs. She came to our house to recuperate again as she had with her double hernia surgery. Ralph was living with us again and going with Ann Robinson who was working in Elgin at the Brethren Publishing Company.
We started asking different contractors to give an estimate on how much it would cost to put our house in a livable condition. We thought the estimates were too high. Finally, Father advised us to ask a friend of his in Durand to look our house over. Mr. Fosler came and agreed to do it and charge by the hour. I forget how much per hour, but it seemed reasonable and Father recommended him. The asbestos siding cost $360. In February we started packing dishes, etc. We advertised household things to sell. Since we were going to live in two rooms we would have to store most everything. The parlor furniture we took to Morris' parents. The rest of our things, including the piano, had to be stored in the granary at the farm.
I knew I would be very busy after March 1, so I did necessary sewing altering my dresses for summer and making new ones. Clara Fike was a great help to me, knowing exactly how to do difficult sewing.
As March 1st came near, it looked as if we would have trouble getting the renters out of our farmhouse because their place to move into was not being vacated on time. By mutual agreement between four families the moving did not take place until March 3rd. It was a rainy day, and we got stuck in the driveway with our first load and had to be pulled out.
We moved Douglas' bed to Morris' parents for a couple days for them to keep Douglas while we got things straightened around the best we could. We put up the cook stove first thing for heat. We planned to live in the two rooms on first floor of the west end of the house. At first we found it was too hard on Douglas, so he lived with his Grandparents for two or more weeks until the rest of us got adjusted to the cramped quarters.
had to send our washing to the laundry for a couple months. The electric
company got a line to us after Morris and a neighbor helped clear the trees
away from the road side so the company could set up its poles. By March 20th,
the company had a line into our place that could be used by the carpenters. We
put an extension cord into our two rooms. It was very temporary, but it gave us
lights and radio use. Up until that time I had used a kerosene lamp. When our
carpenters came they said the whole east part of the house had to be torn down
because of termites in the logs. It was the original log cabin, which had been
resided with boards. This was bad news to us. Father Firebaugh helped a lot,
beginning with tearing down that east end and starting by putting in a cement
basement floor, to rebuild. We had much bad weather, which hindered the
building of the new part.
Original Farmhouse, 1940
Rebuilt Farmhouse, 1941
By April 6th, the weather was warmer, and we brought Douglas out to be with us again. We bought nine ducks for $5.00 and five hens for $3.50. One hen wanted to set, so we bought twenty-five chicks and gave them to her. She raised nearly all of them. By the middle of April Gerald MacAdam started wiring our house.
Ralph had registered in the draft. He did not pass his physical because of a double hernia.
When Douglas was a year old, on May 13th, he weighed 23 pounds and was 32 inches tall. Dorothy Watson, a neighbor girl, helped me each day after school was out. Her main work was to care for the boys while I worked outside or in, wherever I was needed. I paid her 50 cents a day.
Carl Sprague from Rockton did our plastering. It made the house so damp; I had to take Douglas to Granddad Firebaugh's again to keep him from catching cold. While the plaster was drying, I cooked on a two burner electric plate in the washroom. The strawberries were ripening, and I canned them using the electric plate. We used a card table to work on and to eat from. By July 9th, the carpenters had built in the cupboards in my kitchen and they were done. Then I put linoleum on the worktop and painted the outside of the cupboards. I was glad to get my dishes finally put away where they belonged. We did the other painting and varnishing when we had time.
Farm Place July 6, 1941
We installed a new 42-inch electric stove. I appreciated that, because we surely did not need the heat of the cook stove during the summer. By middle August I felt the house was ready for company. We invited Harold and Frances Miller for dinner on a Sunday. Before the day was over, seventeen people had stopped by to see how we were getting along.
August 23rd, Ralph and Ann Robinson were married in Stanley, Wisconsin, at the Church of the Brethren. My parents went along with us to the wedding. Douglas again stayed with Grandparents Firebaugh. Morris was an usher.
We had to wait to take our turn to get a septic tank and a furnace. The government was putting restrictions on all things made of metal. Then the plumber hooked up the water pump, which we put in the basement, to the well that was outside the house about ten feet. It was a dug well, but the water was good. We surely appreciated running water in the house. We had been carrying our water from the pump. By December we put a new coal-burning furnace in the basement.
A neighbor, Roy Jordan, farmed our land that year. We got 602 bushels of oats from 16 and 1/2 acres. We had the straw baled and sold it. We had many walnut trees around our place. Friends came out to pick them up. There were plenty for them and us. Our neighbors were all very friendly. They were all older than we, except Elmer and Helen Prasse. They had a son the age of Douglas. Many expressed their pleasure at seeing the 'eye sore place' rebuilt and looking nice.
The Burgess Cellulose Company where Morris had work was in the same building with the Burgess Battery, although they were separate companies. The Battery was unionized and called a strike. The Cellulose decided to join the union, and Morris signed up. Some changes were made in hours of work. There were no more twelve-hour shifts or six day work weeks. He had to attend labor meetings, too.
October 27th, 1941, Gerald MacAdam, who had been drafted, left for Camp Monmouth at Red Bank, New Jersey. He was Ardis' boyfriend.
The telephone company placed our phone at four different places before we could get it where we wanted it because of all the buildings and plastering we had to do. One time it was on the front porch.
My father gave us a bred Guernsey cow. In November she had a calf. This cow was part payment of the money I loaned to Father during the time he was starting to farm at Durand. Next year he gave us a black cow and two bred sows.
On December 7th, 1941, Japan bombed our ships in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and declared war on U.S. Next day, U.S. declared war on Japan. That meant we were at war in Europe and Japan because we had gone to the aid of England several months before.
In February, our government said all clocks should be set ahead one hour. We called it 'war time.' With war in progress our Church of the Brethren, nation wide, prepared camps for the conscientious objectors where they could live and do their work for the national interest. Much work over the years was done by them in National Forests and for conservation of soils and milk testing, working in hospitals, etc. Our local church canned beans and chicken to give to these camps. It wasn't long until rationing was begun. We were given ration books with stamps to use sugar, coffee, gasoline, meat, tires, tractors, fencing, and farm machinery. Each person was given one book. It had to last a certain number of months.
We started raising geese, ducks and chickens, all to dress out to sell. Then the government put a ceiling price on what an individual farmer could charge. Some of the prices were 32 cents a dozen for eggs, 22 cents a pound for ducks and for fryers. By dressing the poultry we got more for them. Bill Dickman, who ran a hatchery, talked us into selling eggs to him to hatch. Some of our chickens did not meet his tests so we sold them. Then we had to buy fifty Leghorns from him and fifteen roosters making an expense of $110. His chickens had a hard time adjusting and we lost a dozen or more. It was a discouraging deal at first, but gradually we made money through the hatchery. The roosters were ornery, and I did not like them. We sold to the hatchery four years.
We built a large chicken house in 1942 and put the old one on a new foundation for a brooder house. We needed a new hog house, so we built one. We had friends whom we could hire to help us a few hours when they were not working at the factory. That was the way we got so much done towards the necessary building, which we did. To make the cement foundations and floors we used Zartman's cement mixer and did our own mixing and then hauling into place by wheelbarrow. As winter drew near, Morris wanted water piped into the hog house, barn and chicken house. He was able to hire help and got it dug in before the ground froze.
We really appreciated our Guernsey cow. Her milk was so rich that I skimmed the cream and made butter in a one-gallon glass churn which I was able to buy. I made good use of the buttermilk too.
Morris bought a bred saddle horse named 'Bird.' He thought she would come in handy to ride to work in town if our road ever got snowed full. We were snowed in several times, and Morris rode Bird, sometimes going through fields with her if the road was too full of snow. There was a veterinarian who lived in town and had a stable barn near the railroad tracks. Morris kept Bird there while he worked in the factory. In April, Bird had a colt. In about six months a neighbor wanted to buy the colt so we sold it for $40.00.
We spent a lot of time planting fruit trees in a space for the orchard. Then in our garden space, we planted asparagus and rhubarb roots besides regular garden plants and seeds. We decorated our yard with perennial bushes and flowers. The children and I enjoyed being outside. I took them in their coaster wagon to the creek or woods for picnics. We watched the birds, chipmunks and butterflies. Our ewes were lambing and the lambs were a delight to us all.
As the outside work increased for me I needed help again. Dorothy Watson could not come the second year, so I asked another neighbor girl, Mary Ann Kuehl. She helped Saturdays during school and every weekday during vacation. The boys liked her, too, so I appreciated her help.
Morris butchered our own meat, which helped a lot with our food bill. I had to can the meat because we had no freezer yet.
Douglas, when around two years old, got times when he did not feel good. I suspected he had a hernia so I took him to Doctor Becker who said he did have a hernia and should wear a truss because he was too young to have surgery for it. We had him fitted with a truss at Crawfords Drugstore for $8.00.
On Children's Day 1942, June 14, Morrie spoke his first piece in the program. E. G. Hoff gave a message at church one Sunday when Reverend Fike was away. That evening, Hoff's came to our home and stayed over night. The next morning he and our boys wandered around the farm taking pictures. Some months later he edited a book called "Take Heart," a book of pictures and poems. He used several of these pictures of our boys and farm in that book.
Photo by Ernest G. Hoff
Photo by Ernest G. Hoff
September 20th, 1942 Douglas went into his S.S. class by himself for the first time. Our life still was centered around our church and its program. We felt Reverend Fike was not only a fine pastor but also an inspiring leader. Through his encouragement a wood floor was placed over the cement floor in the church basement. Also the kitchen was modernized with built-in cupboards, a larger sink and gas stove and work area by the sink. It was all done by members of the church.
In May of 1942 we had a scary accident at home. Morris was at work. The children were playing outside. Morrie should not have been trying to shell corn with the old style corn sheller which turned by hand and had a balance wheel to make it keep turning easier. But Morrie thought he could shell some corn. An ear of corn got stuck and he tried to get it out while the balance wheel was still turning. He got his little finger nearly cut off. I had no car, and he needed a Dr. I tried Rev. Fike by phone but no answer. I called Estelle Guffey. She and her husband got to our place in a hurry and the Dr. was prepared for us. He took three stitches and an X-ray of his hand. I was to give him aspirin for his pain. He required several more trips to the Dr. That incident made us think we had better plan to get a truck as soon as we could afford it as another means of transportation.
On the last day of 1942, December 31, Ardis married Gerald MacAdam in Red Bank, New Jersey.
February 22, Father Firebaugh died of a heart attack. He had been working for the Park maintenance. His funeral was in a cemetery near Beaver, Iowa. Charles and Vera stayed with our boys in our home while we were attending the funeral. Later after a family consultation, Morris' sister Kathryn and husband Harold moved in with Mother Firebaugh.
Dickman Hatchery hatched our eggs, and we got 346 chickens in February. We put them in the brooder house with a new brooder stove. We paid our first income tax in 1943—$32.05.
I started to play the pump organ at church instead of the piano because it made others who played it too tired. We always had piano and organ to accompany our hymn singing. I tried to practice the organ at church every week. I was glad when I was able to buy a pump organ for our home. During this year our government did not allow the radio to give weather reports. We bought goose eggs and hatched them under setting hens. We got fifty-two goslings. I enjoyed goslings more than chickens or ducks. Morris split posts out of our own oak trees to get the farm fences on the farm in good shape. On June 17th, 1943, Ralph and Ann had their first baby, James Ralph. They were living in Durand at that time, farming with our father.
I was in charge of the lawn most of the time. We had a 12-inch push mower. I surely got tired by the time our big yard was mowed each week. During the garden-growing season, starting with asparagus and strawberries, I seemed to have canning to do almost every day. We sold strawberries at 40 cents a quart after I had canned and preserved what we needed. During the year we sold chickens live or dressed and delivered. Also in the fall, I picked up black walnuts, cleaned them and sold them by the bushel. I had no trouble selling tomatoes, green beans, eggs, butter and even goose feather pillows for $7.50. I dressed out ducks and geese for 28 cents a pound and 65 cents for delivering. Morris sold lambs and pigs. We sold poultry to several grocery stores and restaurants.
I seemed to never catch up on sewing. I made the children's shirts for every day out of feed sacks from Dickman's feed. I got blouses and aprons for myself from sacks too. Other feed sacks made good dishtowels and window curtains. I even make bed sheets and pillow cases out of feed sacks. The dishtowels made good gifts, too.
September 7th, 1943, was Morrie's first day of school. I had to take a picture of him that day walking down the lane carrying his dinner pail! Mrs. Woods was his teacher, and he liked school from the start.
Morris Wm.'s First Day of School, 1943l
War was still going on in Europe. Late in the year the radio was full of talks at the Teheran conference between Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill. I had to make application for our Ration III books.
The children had to go to the doctor for a Shick test, and Douglas got shots for diphtheria and whooping cough and Morrie, shots for small pox. Dr. Bess scared us by saying Douglas had to have surgery for his hernia. (Dr. Becker was in service.) I got a second opinion by going to Dr. Karcher. He said, for a child Douglas' age, a truss was best.
We hired all our farm work done. That way we got the crop. But I was always feeding men workers, it seemed'hay makers, combine workers, corn pickers and balers. In 1943, we got 2000 bushels of corn.
In the fall, Morris and I thought about going farming in the spring of 1944. Finally, Morris told Kenneth Meyers, his plant superintendent, that we would be farming by ourselves and set the date for March 15th.
We borrowed $1,000 from Minnie Cooper, our good neighbor in town. We started buying equipment at sales. First purchase was a hayrack, plow and team of horses, named May and June, for $300. June was with foal. In two weeks she had eaten too much corn and was dead. I began to have second thoughts about our decision to farm. But Morris said we just had to be more careful and thoughtful. We should have watched June better.
The Christmas of 1943 was the only Christmas I can remember that we did not go to my parent's home. We were all too sick except Morris. I managed to roast a goose, and Mother came down with Ralph and family. Father was too sick to come.
We got more machinery at sales, even a cream separator. With four cows, we decided to sell cream. We got a trio of geese and some Rhode Island Red hens. We planned to dress them out for quick spending money. Then we got 350 chicks for fryers and pullets and feed from Dickman's. We had to buy another horse, 'Flory,' for $130. Dan West of the Church of the Brethren had just started 'Heifers For Relief.' A farmer in Lena donated a calf if someone would raise it and give it to relief as a bred heifer. We volunteered.
Morris quit work at the Burgess Cellulose Factory March 15th. Our first tractor was a John Deere with lugs on its back wheels. I used it quite often but it shook me so much that I got sick later. We traded our separator in a couple months for a cow and four pigs. Then we began selling milk, and our neighbor hauled it for us.
Douglas spoke his first piece at a Children's Day program at Church June 11th, 1944.
A terrible storm went through our area in June. We were fortunate because we had little damage done. But in Cedarville and Dakota much damage was done and one person killed. One farmer's buildings were taken, so he had a sale. We bought three of his milk cows for $430. Mother Firebaugh spent a couple months with Ardis and Jerry in New Jersey. Harold Smith had entered the Navy.
At council meeting I was elected Messenger Correspondent and also delegate to District meeting at Franklin Grove.
August 7th, we threshed and got 1,241 bushels of oats. We had hatched 43 goslings by using setting hens. We bought another brooder house, calling it #3. Also, we bought an incubator at a sale because we wanted to try hatching goose eggs in it.
Morris mixed cement and put in a feeding floor adjoining the hog house. I helped build a fence around it.
By September, in the war in Europe, the Allies were on German soil, and the casualties were heavy. In China against Japan the war was going badly. Dewey was running against Roosevelt, but in November Roosevelt got elected for a 4th term. This pleased England.
At the Fall Rally Day at Church Morrie got his 6th seal for perfect attendance and Douglas his 2nd. The Ladies Aid met regularly once a month for all day. We made many quilts. Some days eighteen women came, and we would finish eight to twelve quilts, all for relief.
We dressed geese and chickens and ducks out for Thanksgiving and for Christmas, delivering most of them. The stores paid us 30 cents for geese, but privately we got 34 cents. For chickens it was 33 and 35 cents. For hogs we got $14.20 a cwt..
For Christmas that year I got my first machine-less hair permanent. Morris made desks for each of the boys.
At the first of the year the Germans made a terrific counter attack. April 12th, 1945, President Roosevelt died of a cerebral hemorrhage. We all wondered how that would affect the war. April 23, Russia entered Berlin. But by May 8th, 1945, President Truman declared V.E. Day. But we still had rationing and had received book IV of stamps.
Ralph and Ann wanted to get nearer Freeport, so they rented Heck's place east of Freeport and south of Route 20. We helped them move from Durand.
We got 745 chicks from Dickman this year. To get spring work done on time Morris hired a young fellow to run the John Deere. He was supposed to put water in it but he didn't and cracked the head. We were without a tractor for several days at a critical time. During the summer we hired Leslie Carter to help. He stayed with us during the week, going home on weekends.
At spring council meeting I was elected Alternate to Annual Conference which was to be a delegates' conference since no one could buy enough gas to drive that far. Reverend J. O. Winger held revival meetings at which Paul Johansen, Helen and Martin's son joined the church. Our calf from Lena was a bred heifer by April 26, when a representative from Heifers for Relief came for her. She was shipped to Nappanee, Indiana, and from there to Puerto Rico, where she was kept until the war in Europe was over and then sent to Europe. Her first calf had to be given away to keep the relief going.
I went to Annual Conference at North Manchester College campus with Reverend Fike by train. I had to go as delegate because Reverend Fike was chosen to serve on the Standing Committee, so he could not serve as our delegate. Mrs. John T. Glick was my roommate on thirld floor of Oakwood Hall. (We kept up correspondence the rest of her life.) Some years later she was chosen by the State of Virginia as the Mother of the Year. She had twelve children, and all had a college education.
As soon as I got home from conference I started teaching Vacation Bible School for two weeks. It was almost too much because I had strawberries to pick and can, and our fryers were ready for dressing and goslings and ducks to care for besides our hatching flock to tend to. Sugar was scarce even if we had the ration stamps.
In July, we bought a Hinman milking machine.
Our neighbor, Fred Turner needed help quite often, and Morris always tried to help him. Sometimes Ralph and Morris were able to give him help. That summer Fred decided to quit farming and move to town. He rented his farm to Ralph and Ann. We were glad to have them next door to us.
August 11th, Japan offered to surrender to the U.S. but did not like the terms the U.S. required. Then the atom bombs were dropped. I believe our government did not realize how terrible they really were until much later. August 14th, Japan surrendered and signed on board the battleship Missouri.
In September of 1945 a polio epidemic was so bad in Freeport that all public gatherings were prohibited. We did not have church services on September 2nd or 9th.
Morrie's schoolteacher was Mr. Genandt. There were 13 boys and one girl, Janice Cooley, in our country school that year. Morris was the treasurer of the school board.
October 7th 1945 our church celebrated its 25th anniversary. Reverend Esbensen and family, except Esther, were here, and he was the speaker.
During the fall we built a dressing house to dress our poultry more easily. We put in a cement area east of the barn to keep the cows out of the mud. We ran the cement over to the milk house. In November rationing was lifted from meat and butter but still remained on sugar. Ralph's and we bought a Wood's Brothers corn picker from an agent in Durand for $614.
For Christmas, we dressed out 42 geese and sold 25 to Raleigh Co. for $123. For my Christmas present Morris made me a desk, which I still have and use all the time.
Friends and relatives began coming home from whatever form of service they had been in during the war. We knew of some, too, who did not come home. The need for relief goods, food and clothing intensified as a result of all the damage the war did. The relief truck run by young men volunteers of the Church of the Brethren came from Relief Headquarters in New Windsor, Maryland. It came on schedule to pick up the material in boxes. Our church became headquarters for this part of the county. Other churches, not of our denomination, wanted to help. Our Ladies Aid continued to make quilts. We, with help from the men, boxed up the goods for the truck.
In April 1946, our church got new songbooks. Reverend Nettleton from the Milledgeville church came to have a dedication service for the use of them.
O.P.A. (Office of Price Administration) was dead. It had kept a ceiling on prices. Now we could get higher prices for our eggs and poultry. After Ralph and Ann moved onto the Turner farm it was handy to exchange work, which we did all summer. Leslie Carter helped us quite a bit, too, as he had the summer before. We needed another brooder house, so we bought #4 and a second brooder stove. In February, we got 817 chicks, 200 of them being New Hampshire Reds for dressing out as fryers. We had a chance to buy six hives of bees. We put these hives on the east side of our garden in the orchard.
We learned that incubators made to hatch chicken eggs did not work well on goose and duck eggs. So we went back to using setting hens. A hen could take five goose eggs or seven duck eggs. Once I had 26 hens setting.
In April, Dickman said he did not need our eggs anymore until the next hatching season started. So we looked for another market for our eggs and quit selling to Dickman and butchered the roosters.
In May 1946, Morrie began driving our John Deere doing field work. He even helped Ralph disk for corn. I really thought he was too young, but I was in the minority.
On May 9th, a coal strike started with the miners, so Freeport and other towns had a 'brown out.' Stores were open from 2-6 p.m. The strike lasted until May 29th. There was also a strike by the trains. They quit running for two days. Drew Pearson, the newspaperman, said there was a possibility of war with Russia. We heard that talk for months. Even though peace was declared there were scarcities of many things.
We needed tile to put a sewer in our washroom but could not buy any in Freeport or nearby towns. We finally found some extra that a neighbor had. We had to go to Davis, Illinois, to buy cement. We needed a new tractor. Such machinery was still rationed. Morris appealed to Ed Stukenberg who had one on hand in his Implement Company. Mr. Stukenberg thought we had a real need so he let us buy it'a Massey Harris 101 for $1400, which we borrowed at the bank in October. We could not use our new corn picker until we had a chain for it. Morris and Ralph had a hard time finding one, finally getting a few links in Freeport and some in Pecatonica.
In November Morris added a 'lean-to' on the north side of our barn, giving more room for stock and to store hay and straw. We also had a 30 ft. silo put up by the Freeport Silo Co.
We got Morrie a big bicycle for his birthday. Douglas then claimed his Jr. bike. Douglas had quite severe dizzy spells for several weeks during the summer so I took him to Dr. Becker. We got medicine and were told to not let him drink carbonated drinks. They were hard on one's liver. We had been buying root beer in gallon jugs during the hot weather.
Douglas' First Day of School, 1946
To feed the haymakers and other help during the summer my parents had butchered a beef. We had to can it as quickly as possible. I canned 97 quarts, but Mother took only 65 quarts and gave the rest to me.
Douglas started to school September 4th, but on the 6th, school was closed for two weeks because of polio again. Mr. Genandt was our teacher again. Our bees did well for their first year with us. We got 100 cakes of honey. For Thanksgiving and Christmas we dressed and delivered 39 geese at 44 cents, 15 ducks at 45 cents and 8 hens at 40 cents. We sold live poultry too.
The first months of this year a couple families of our congregation had closing out farm sales. Our Ladies Aid was asked to furnish food at these sales. I helped donate pies and serve. We made about $35 a sale.
Both boys needed their tonsils out and adenoids removed. On January 25th, Dr. Becker did the surgery at Freeport Deaconess Hospital. Morrie had to go back into surgery in the afternoon to have stitches taken to stop the bleeding. I sat up with them all night at the hospital. It took them a week to recuperate and get to eating again. Morrie missed more school than Douglas because he had lost more blood. The Doctor bill was $74. The hospital insurance paid all but $8 of that bill.
In February, we got 775 straight run chicks. By May we were able to start dressing fryers each week for stores. A friend had turkey eggs but no way to hatch them. He gave four-dozen to us to hatch under hens. Twenty-two eggs hatched so I got eleven of them for the trouble. We were fortunate to find a little cob and kindling burning stove to put in the dressing house to heat the water for dressing our poultry.
Roger Dornink of our congregation went to China during the war with a load of heifers for relief. When he came back he and some of his friends who were Mennonite Conscientious Objectors, too, came to our church and gave programs of their experiences.
In April, Mr. Genandt, our schoolteacher got sick. I was asked to teach our school for a week. I got along fine but was glad when he came back. I did not care to handle two full time jobs. Later the County Superintendent asked me to teach the South Side School, but I refused. When Mr. Genandt resigned because of health the school board hired Mrs. Leland Tippetts for $200 a month for eight months.
April 8th, 1947, Henry Ford died, age 83. His death made headlines because he really was a great man. He was first to make reasonable priced travel obtainable to people of little means.
In the spring, Ralph and Ann adopted a baby boy, Mark Dean, through the Bethany Hospital in Chicago and Dr. Bowman.
Our setting hens hatched more than 100 goslings, so we had to get another building to put them in. Morris bought a one-car garage in town and brought it out on a hay rack and put it in our orchard. It was #5 or the 'goose house.'
My parents bought a farm north of Freeport on Fairview Road west of Route 26 from Al Bessert for $12,000. They wanted Ralph to move on it the first of 1948. We were disappointed because it was nice having them live next to us.
12th, the sugar rationing became dead. Our bees were doing well. We bought a
honey extractor. We took off 200 cakes of honey and extracted 180 pounds of
strained honey. Plowing corn in June took a lot of time. The corn was checked
in so that plowing could be done lengthwise and across the field. Our taxes on
our 100-acre farm for 1947 were $93. Our horse, Bird, had died. When George
MacAdam bought a riding horse named Inky and asked us to keep her for them, we
were glad to do it. The boys could ride her any time.
Inky, Princess, the Boys, and Shep, 1951
In August, we took a four-day vacation to visit relatives in Minnesota at West Concord and Tracy. The McNutt family took care of our house, yard and poultry. Ralph did the barn chores. Our car was giving us trouble, so we had a new motor put into the Plymouth for $368.
In September I was elected President of our Ladies Aid. I was also elected teacher of the Adult Sunday School class. Every Sunday I played the organ, sometimes for both morning and evening services. In our school district there was a women's organization called the 'Priscilla Club.' Ann and I both belonged to that and tried to attend its monthly meetings.
Besides cooking for haymakers, threshers and other help, I cooked for silo fillers this year. Morris worked away from home helping neighbors fill silo for two weeks or more. Always, after the first filling and the silage had settled, they came back to refill. Then there was still fall cutting of hay and corn picking to do. By fall we were selling 90 dozen eggs a week for 53 cents to 55 cents a dozen. It took time every day to put eggs away.
During the summer we had lost some of our goslings to possums. The Raleigh Company gave me a contract to buy 68 geese from us for Christmas. At Thanksgiving we dressed and delivered 36 ducks, 17 geese, 5 turkeys, 9 hens and 5 fryers. For Christmas we hired two neighbors to help dress 77 geese. Raleigh's paid us 47 cents a pound.
On December first our boys both came down with measles. They were very sick with high fever. They missed over a week of school.
During the Christmas Season I had a new experience. Our Choir was asked to give a short music program over our radio station WFRL.