Blocks of ice were delivered at regular intervals by a wooden sided truck from the Western Illinois Ice Company. The truck driver would scan the fronts of the houses on his route. Depending on what color and number were uppermost on a special card propped in the window, he selected a 50, 25, or 10 pound block of ice from the back of the truck. Children loved to watch the ''iceman,'' in his rubber cape, lift a heavy ice chunk with his big tongs, hoist it onto his shoulder, and carry it inside to deposit in the icebox. Once in a while, on a hot summer day, lucky children could persuade the iceman to hand out ice chips, which were almost as cooling as Popsicles!
The main ice company, now Icehouse Park, was located at 451 South Street, across the railroad tracks from what is now the Amtrak Station. Also located in a few places around town were one room summer ice-houses where people could go to get extra ice, if more was needed and the iceman not expected. These little buildings were always yellow, made of wood, and built on skids, so they could be pulled away to other locations, if necessary.
Once such little icehouse was located on Fremont Street, between Kellogg and Seminary Streets, about where Quick Stop is now. We liked going along and watching our father buy ice that had been buried in bales of straw to keep it from melting too fast. The iceman on duty picked up the selected block with his tongs and balanced it on the rear bumper of our car for the ride home. Anxious children kept watch out the back windows, but the ice never fell off!
The icebox era ended for our family on an especially hot summer day when I was four or five years old. My mother's good friend came to take Mother and me for a ride ''to cool off,'' she said. We drove out in the country and around Lake Storey and Lincoln Park. We returned home to see my father, with a big smile on his face, standing in the driveway, while a truck from Dopp Hardware Store pulled away. Inside the truck was our old icebox, in its place in the kitchen, like magic, was a gleaming, white Kelvinator refrigerator.
Walking everywhere was what we did. We walked to school and home for lunch. Bringing a friend or a teacher home for lunch was always a special treat. We always walked to a friend's house, to the Little League Park and we even walked for ice cream. There were small grocery stores every two or three blocks. You could always find penny candy somewhere.
On Saturdays, we would walk downtown. Downtown Galesburg was a big deal. All the stores from the square to the post office were full. There were dress stores, department stores, drug stores, hardware stores and dime stores. You could shop for just about anything. You could see a movie, shop and have a lunch. Everyone smiled and said hello.
One of our favorite stores was the Elsa Marie Shop. She carried the latest Ginny dolls. They were very popular. We would save our money to buy a new outfit for our dolls. She also carried miniature glass animals. These were our collectibles.
After shopping, we'd stop for a hot dog at Grant's or a cherry coke at the Golden Cream. And always before we walked home, we would stop into Lindstrom's and listen to our favorite records.
I remember learning how to swim at the Steele Gym. In the summer, we would have morning lessons and then walking back in the afternoon for the free swim.
One summer, my parents joined Lake Bracken. Swimming out to the slimy logs and trying to balance yourself was what we did for fun. This is where I learned to water ski. The Sunday night family movie was where we spent our family time.
As I got older in the 60's, music and dancing were everywhere.
The roller rink during grade school years is where we started skating until 10:00 PM and then taking off your skates and having a sock hop to all the latest hits.
During junior high school, the place to be was the Eagles on Friday night. The top floor is where you'd meet all your friends and dance to the hits. We learned the ''Cha-Cha,'' the ''Mashed Potato,'' the ''Stroll,'' and many more. There would be dance contests and occasionally a musical star would perform. After the dances, we would all walk down to Marties on Cherry St. We'd share a pizza and listen to the jukebox. Then we would call some tired parent to come pick us up.
During high school and even after, we always had somewhere to go and something to do. Even if it was sitting in the Steak and Shake parking lot. We had Northgate Lanes to bowl, and there were two dance places, one on the square and one on Cherry St. Here we did the''Slide,'' the ''Jerk,'' and other new dance steps.
Life was just different, less complicated.
During the late 60's, I moved to Chicago, moving back with a family in the late 70's.
Vietnam, assassinations, Watergate, peace and love, life just changed.
But, my fond memories of growing up in a small midwestern town will always remain the same.
I'd enjoy hearing my father yell those words again as I played at Allen Park. The park, on the corner of Mulberry and South Farnham St. had ball diamonds, backstops, swings, monkey bars and grassy areas for running.
The spooky shanty was haunted and only the brave dare touch it's door. All live in the memories of my childhood.
''I'll beat you on chin-up! Count!''
I'd like to forget the bruised and bloody lip from the fall. Both Terrys and Butch are gone and Johnny, Linda, Sandy left the area long ago.
Competition was keen as everyone tried to gain a spot on all the bars.
All live in the memories of my childhood.
''Batter up! Hurry! We get to use the big diamond!''
I'd like to call out once again and take the field. We little folk waited our turn for the big diamond.
Many an afternoon we sat on the bleachers waiting and watching a ''real'' ball game at Allen Park.
All live in the memories of my childhood.
''Wow! I will never do that, but I'll try!''
I'd like to be able to ''skin the monkey'' one more time on those shiny, slick bars. The summer suns powdered the clay pits under the playground equipment.
Dirty knees, amber-crusted shoes and a ragged shirttail were signs of playing at Allen Park. All live in the memories of my childhood.
Gone...play equipment, tall elm trees, backstops and clay pits....and children.
Allen Park lives in the memories of my childhood.
Did I see you there?
Frankly, I am not quite sure I took that photograph. My memory for years-gone-by does not even approach the phenomenal ability for total recall demonstrated by Mr. Sandburg in ''Always the Young Strangers,'' his fascinating account of younger days in Galesburg in the late l9th century. However, I did use my old, trusty 4x5 Speed Graphic to take pictures during Mr. Sandburg's occasional visits to his old hometown in the 1940's and 1950's. I remember especially January 6, 1948, when he celebrated his 70th birthday in Galesburg, was presented a birthday cake, and reciprocated with a present of his own, a concert in Central Congregational Church.
Earlier in the day, he had been squired around town by two of the area's more delightful -- and influential -- ladies.
Janet Greig Post was a truly powerful member of the Knox College Board of Trustees. She had led the college's fund-raising for, preparation for, and observance of it's 100th anniversary in 1937, taking the lead in restoring Old Main and in welcoming Knox's new, very young president, Carter Davidson. Subsequently, she had been so active as a Knox alumna that students attending the weekly (compulsory) service at Beecher Chapel had been known to ''praise Father, Son, and Mrs. Post.''
What Adda Gentry George may have lacked in monetary wealth she more than made up for with energy, interest in other people (especially young students,) and what today might be called ''entrepreneurship.'' She was the guiding force behind many Galesburg projects and was particularly active in the restoration of the Carl Sandburg birthplace cottage on East Third Street. This project was still in its formative stage in January of 1948, but Mrs. George used the occasion to try to encourage Mr. Sandburg's enthusiasm for a project he seemed to pretend he thought premature. Mrs. George also was known in the community for her constant attention to writing appreciative and congratulatory personal notes to people who were doing what she viewed as ''things that make our community better.''
Mrs. Post and Mrs. George teamed-up, more amiably than competitively, to escort Carl Sandburg around town on his birthday, and I was invited to follow along to see them viewing such places as Lombard College's then sadly vacant and deteriorating ''Old Main.'' My eagerness to make pictures was prompted by the fact that I was then planning to open a new photography and advertising business in Galesburg. I hoped for publicity and -- in the back of my mind -- harbored a vain hope that Life Magazine would be interested in a photo essay about the great man spending his birthday back home. Life provided very polite rejection slips.
As noted, that January 6th culminated with Mr. Sandburg's concert at Central Congregational Church. His ''dressing room'' was the minister's office, where I was again permitted to take photos. I succeeded in engaging the great man in a conversation based on the fact that my Aunt Vella Ide (nee Martin) and Carl Sandburg had been during their younger days, what we would now call an ''item.'' He remembered Aunt Vella well and was complimentary about her. I politely did not bring up the passed-down-the-family recollection that the romance had never been encouraged by Aunt Vella's (and my mother's) family because, at the time, the young Carl Sandburg was viewed by some as what now might be called ''a town hippy.'' Ah, well!
Now, alas, although thanks to the Carl Sandburg Birthplace overseers, many items from Mr. Sandburg's good-old-days are available and properly catalogued, my own files are a shambles. My own old negatives from that January, 1948 experience may still exist, but my wife and I are leaving the chore of sorting out the basement and the attic to our heirs -- four daughters, four sons-in-law, ten grandchildren -- and we wish them well.
''The Rock Cake'' by Jean Anderson
When they first started something to honor Carl Sandburg, I was contacted, for some time, I made a large chocolate cake in the shape of Remembrance Rock. I would draw a place on the front of it, like the plaque, and write on it, the dates. It took several cakes to make it up. I always did it in chocolate and chocolate icing.
I never met any of his family. I remember at one time, they wanted me to come to one of the gatherings but I never did. I am 72 now and have good memories of doing this.
''Do You Remember When?'' by Ruby E. Bailey
1.This was something we hated to wear,
It had a drop that we handled with care;
Its lumps and bumps gave us away
On many a cold and windy day! (long johns underwear)
2.This was something our fathers used.
Sometimes on us, though we weren't amused;
It has to do with a facial chore--
Who does honing anymore? (razor strap)
3.When Grandpa sat down to his dinner
He thought this was a real winner
You want to know the reason why?
It kept his cooky-duster dry! (mustache cup)
4.These high-rise items were a sight
There was a hook to keep them tight;
But these, for comfort, were not work
Sometimes they raised a crop of corn! (high-buttoned shoes)
5.There was a party where nobody came
Communications was the name;
If you tuned in on the sly
You could have heard some rumors fly! (rural party telephone line)
6.Twice a week it made the scene
Monday and Saturday--not often between;
Morning for duds--evening for you--
That should give a sudsy clue! (wash tub)
7.When Grandpa with his girl went courtin'
This little item was very important;
When he gave out with a wallop
You should have seen old Dobbin gallop! (buggy whip)
8.A place where a fellow could steal a kiss
From many a shy, reluctant miss;
A seat that welcomed the moon and stars--
A delightful part of some ''thirties'' cars! (rumble seat)
9.In the kitchen this item was found
It made a ''slippety-sloppity'' sound;
This gadget put a spread on the table.
Guess this item if you are able. (butter churn)
10.A fellow who frequented lover's lane
Was often referred to, by this name
And when folks sat down to their evening fare
This item held part of their silverware. (spooner)
11.You seldom see this anymore
To fill it was a real chore;
It was a drip--by any call--
The point is now, we choose a ball! (fountain pen)
12.A bad-mannered fellow, by this, was known
Also an item that made cars groan
Sometimes Grandpa got a kick
Just trying to perform this trick!(crank)
13.Its size was usually six by six.
Most folks had one, even out in the sticks;
It's accessories included a volume from Sears--
Do you recall this item from former years?(outhouse)
14.A tiff is a name for one of these
Something worn below the knees--
Smart dressers wore them most--
Kept their ankles warm as toast. (spats)
15.Middle-aged described it's form
Something that kept us snug and warm
It seemed to have a tremendous hunger--
Some of us fueled it, when we were younger. (pot-bellied stove)
16.A spring chore was this cleaning bit--
We took our turns at using it--
We came across with many a whack
Then were only too glad to hit the sack! (rug beater)
17.We gals felt elegant when we wore them--
A creature from Asia was responsible for them.
Who ever thought they could run so fast?
Like World War Two, they're a part of our past. (silk hose)
18.Around and around and around it went
Always emitting a wonderful scent;
Since the vacuum pack made the scene
This tool no longer gets the bean! (coffee grinder)
19.This item was featured in a farmyard chore--
Even Elsie knew what it was for--
Now, this item, one seldom sees
Except as a conversation piece! (milking stool)
20.When summer came with it's pesky creatures
We thought we had a real good feature
For when they tangled with this stuff
Those pests knew the had had enough! (fly paper)
We Were Learning! by Marilyn J. Carr
I was born in 1945, so by 1952 I was well on my way to being a working part of the hay gang. In those days the hay gang was Mom, Dad, my two older brothers Donnie and Dale and of course tag along me. (They didn't need to think they were going somewhere to help and leave me at home.) Besides it was nearly impossible to keep me off a tractor once I learned to drive one. We had a farmhand, Grandpa and Grandma Gibbs, along with Uncle Wayne and his family, which made up the rest of the hay gang.
Hay time on the farm meant we were all going to pitch in and help whoever had hay ready to go. Pops' would say, ''Dads hay is ready to mow.'' My brothers and I were ready to head to Grandpa and Grandma's to do whatever needed done. We were being taught teamwork and the art of helping someone in need. We were happy to be going to Grandpa and Grandma's to help mow hay or to get it stored in the barn. We learned that you help for the joy of helping and not because you needed any pay for it. We learned how to hook up the machinery, check fluid levels, and tires. We would start our tractors and head out. What great gifts we were getting, the gift of knowledge and the beginnings of wisdom. We had no idea we were being taught a thing.
My Uncle Dwayne and his family lived by the same principles as we did. Uncle Wayne and Aunt Betty were younger than my Mom and Dad, so their children had to wait a few years to become as active helping Grandpa and Grandma as my brothers and I was. My oldest cousin and I were a few years apart, I was on a tractor first and my poor little cousin wanted to bite a nail in two, he was just as anxious to help as my brothers and I were, but the poor little guy had to wait, he was too young and not tall enough to reach the clutch and brake; waiting did not set well with the little guy. When Cuz was old-enough we both helped, we worked together and a bond was built between us. We don't see each other much anymore, but I am here to tell you, our bond still exists.
If we helped hay at Uncle Wayne's, Aunt Betty would stop her cooking, washing, honing or whatever she was doing and see that everyone had something to drink and a snack. The same was true of my Mom and my Grandmother; wherever we worked we had someone giving us care. We were learning to appreciate those who help us, to give our time and make sure our helpers' needs were being meant. We were also learning that the entire family had things to do and they were doing them.
I really don't remember any grumbling or complaining about helping each other out, probably because there weren't any. The only bad noise we heard was when Dad and Uncle had to get the wrenches out because there was a break down. I guess we were learning that everything in life does not always go without problems; and when things do go wrong, you deal with them and move on. We were also learning that Dad and Uncle had a change of temperament in the hot sun with broken down equipment and dry hay flying down the neck of their shirt.
My cousins Uncle Red helped us sometimes. Uncle Red was always' laughing and happy no matter how hot it was or how much hay had to be put up. We were learning to laugh with each other and at ourselves. Uncle Red was also teaching us how much easier everything is if you just have a good attitude.
Things have changed, we no longer work together, we have taken separate paths and some of our hay gang has passed away, but my memories live on and my gratefulness to a family that worked together will forever remain in my heart.
It's remarkable how one small farm activity could teach so much and leave such unforgettable memories.
Those Were the Days by Daryl E. Craig
Several years later, I was told that I was born in our old farm home about 50 feet south of the city limits on Henderson Street. (Even though I was present during my birth, I do NOT remember the details!) It was 1925, and I was born in an old bedroom.
In those days, we had an outhouse, with the standard equipment of a Sears catalog, and a Wards catalog. In case you do not know why we had those 2 catalogs in that building, ask someone who lived on a farm, and they will explain it to you. Since we had no electricity at our home, we had to use kerosene lamps, until an electric power line was extended past our home. A little later, the city did extend the water line out to the city limits. After that happened, Mom and Dad did have the old birthing bedroom built into a bath room. What an improvement!
Back then, as kids, we did not have the fancy toys available to us that kids have today. We spent our time building toys for ourselves: slingshots, wooden swords, sleds and little wagons (if were lucky enough to find an old set of wheels we could use.) I honestly believe that we kids had as much, or more, fun with those old homemade toys, than the kids do today, with the fancy and expensive toys now available at stores.
For grade school, I was enrolled in old Thirlwell school, just one-half mile south of our home. It was an old brick school, complete with 2 small bathrooms, and an even smaller room used as a library. It had a small basement, complete with an old coal furnace. We had a sweetheart of an old teacher, named Nelly B. Chase, who lived on Jefferson St, who really worked very hard, since, in addition to teaching, she had to carry coal, keep the furnace going, carry out the ashes, and shovel snow off the sidewalk when needed. She even had me take two grades each year, for 2 different years. She was wonderful!
While at Thirlwell, since it was only one half mile from our home, I walked to and from school, until I finished my eighth grade. Then I was entered into old Churchill Junior High, for my ninth grade, while Churchill was still located on South Broad Street, right next to the old Senior High School. Rode my bike there, and also, for the next 3 years at Galesburg High. Finally graduated in 1940.
In the fall of 1940, started as a freshman at University of Illinois, but dropped out in second semester, since I was failing in one subject. (I could not study in one of their big classes.)
In 1941, I enrolled at Knox College, and had successfully finished three years by 1943, when I was 18, and entered the Army. First went to Camp Grant, here in Illinois, and then to Camp Lee, Virginia. Was promoted to Corporal, and then was sent to Officers Candidate School, where I was commissioned a Second Lieutenant on Oct. 13, 1944. Then was shipped overseas to Luzon, in the Philippines, where I served for one year and five months. When I returned on a troop ship, to San Francisco, I was approached by an officer, who talked me into joining the Army Reserve, saying ''You earned it--you deserve it'', so I did join the Reserve.
Went back to Knox, and graduated in 1947. Got a job, and rented an office in old Weinberg Arcade. The Army contacted me in early fall of 1948, and ordered me to return to Washington, D.C., to perform staff duty. I served from October 1948, until April 1950. I came home, with the Army's permission, to start farming the old home farm, as my Dad was having health problems, and asked if I would. I did farm there, until 1960, when we sold the farm -- both sides of S. Henderson St., to the Burlington Railroad, and then my wife and I, and our two sons, moved away. Finally, moved back to my old hometown in 1997.
GaIesburg Memoirs of the '40's by Barbara Feltham
It's August of 1943. I'm entering my Freshman year at Bradley Polytechnic Institute this fall and Mother and I are shopping in Galesburg for my college wardrobe. (Bradley did not become a University until 1947.) No jeans, too large shirts and backpacks for coeds in the 40's.
We shopped for skirts and sweaters, saddle shoes and loafers, tailored suits and formals for the formal dances. I must not forget the hats and gloves for the Sorority Rushing Teas.
Some of the downtown stores in that long ago time, where we shopped were: O.T. Johnson's, Kellogg Drake, Sparks, Rodeffers, Grossmans, Klines, J.C. Penney, and the Ida Ann Shoppe.
In those days, salesladies who knew their merchandise, were in every store to assist their customers. I especially enjoyed selecting hats at O.T.'s and Kellogg's. The salesperson would seat you in front of a mirror and then bring out an endless supply of hats which she placed on one's head, tilting them at just the right angle.
We took a break in shopping at noon and enjoyed lunch at the ''American Beauty Restaurant.''
Those were the days which are only fond memories now.
My Story by Prudence Franey
''Carl Sandburg was nothing but a bum. He never worked. He just hung around the fire department all day.'' That was Grandma's answer, when she read the note from Weston School. My class was asked to bring a donation for the Penny Parade.. The proceeds would go to support the Carl Sandburg cottage. That all happened in the early fifties.
It was a good time to be alive and a better time to be a kid. The fifties had a Mark Twain feel to them. I believe that time actually moved slower back then. There was time to just lay on a blanket and watch the clouds make pictures in the sky.
Oh, we felt very modern. Didn't we have aluminum drinking glasses and a kitchen full of time saving appliances like a toaster that popped up when the bread had become golden brown toast? We also felt very vulnerable because we were in the cold-war with Russia. The crossing of Galesburg's two mighty railroads made us a prime target to be bombed. But mostly we were just happily naive.
As I said earlier, I attended Weston School. Here are some of my Weston School memones.
1.Mrs. Burke, my fourth grade teacher letting me draw the sphinx for the large Egyptian mural that we made in fourth grade. It hung above her blackboard for many years after that.
2.Not getting picked right away for any sports team.
3.The singing teacher the day she forgot to put on a camisole under her see through nylon blouse and her bra was there for us all to see. The boys were amazed at her large bosoms.
4.Practicing the Palmer penmanship writing method with a real ink pen. My friend Carole Shepherd had the best penmanship in our class.
5.Doug throwing-up on the staircase as we single filed back to our classroom.
6.Our fifth grade teacher reading stories to us a chapter a day.
7.The candy store across Mulberry St. from the school.
8.And Ronnie B. who gave me bubble bath for Christmas and Grandma thinking that it was a much too personal gift. After all, I would be undressed when I used the bubble bath.
9.Before school and during recess we would either play Jacks, jump double dutch rope, try to do tricks with our Yo-Yo's (I could only make my Yo-Yo go up and down) or trade marbles. Let's see, there were agates, cateyes, puries and of course the boulders. The boys carried pocket knifes to play mumble-peg with.
10.But my favorite memory is the way our work and test papers smelled fresh from the copy machine. Come to think of it, I liked the smell and the texture of the white paste too.
We lived at seven ninety-nine E. Main in a large single family house that had been divided up into four apartments. Our rent was cheaper, because we were in the downstairs apartment with the only inside door to the basement. And it became my chore to take care of the furnace.
The stoker that fed small pieces of coal into the furnace had to be filled twice a day. The furnace looked like a huge fat man with lots of arms. And twice a day I had to reach into its gut with long handled grabbers and break up the clinkers, that grew into the shape of a large doughnut, into smaller pieces. Then draw them out of the furnace door, thereby dropping them into a large galvanized wash bucket. After they cooled I would carry them up the outside basement stairway and scatter them in the driveway. Cinders are just broken up clinkers and that is how cinder drive ways were made.
Carole Shepherd was my best school friend, but Carol and Judy Kistler, catholic girls, who lived in a brown insulbrick house next door, became my best after school friends. And these are some of my neighborhood memories.
1. After school eating soda crackers slathered with butter and drinking cherry Kool-aid while we watched the Grampa Happy cartoon show on Kistler's black and white TV.
2. In the summer time us girls sitting on a blanket in the shade cutting out paper dolls. There was always competition to see who was the best cutter.
3. We'd buy the same coloring books, color the same picture and then have someone else judge who had done the best job of coloring.
4. In my basement, we would put on potato head puppet shows using real potatoes. We wrote our own skits and charged neighbors and friends a nickel to attend.
5. We would get an empty TV box from Dunn and Juliens TV Shop and spend hours rolling each other down our small hill. When the box would finally collapse we'd spend another hour using it for a slide.
6. I liked to catch garter snakes. I could always find one under a flat piece of metal out by the garage. I had to be really quick and grab it right behind the head. I would keep the snake in a shoe box lined with fresh grass. I remember trying to teach a garter snake how to climb a mulberry tree, but it didn't work.
7. Our milkman was Carol and Judy's Uncle. He would let us ride in the milk truck from the front curb to the garage area ,where he turned the truck around, and back again to the front curb. And he always gave us each a piece of ice to suck on. But the polio scare stopped our rides and our ice. No one knew how the polio was spreading and the ice was suspect.
8. We had roller skates that clamped over our regular shoes. Then we tighten them down with a special skate key. Around and around the block we would skate. Main to Pearl to Ella to Lincoln. Past Orie's gas station on Lincoln and Main, past Anns' restaurant, past Dunn and Juliens and back home again.
We'd get so hot our faces glowed red and our hair would get stiff with sweat. Brick sidewalks slowed us down and cracks in the concrete would send us into a sprawled out heap. Our knees were crusty with scabs, but on we went. Orie would yell at us, ''Get off my drive--You are in the way of my customers.'' But on we went until the soles pulled loose from our shoes. The game was over and we knew we would be in trouble.
9. Sometimes we'd sneak over by Dr. Hombaker's veterinary hospital and eat concord grapes right off the vine. Always being careful not to touch one of the huge black and yellow spiders that lived among the vines. And being careful that Dr. Hornbaker did not see us.
10. Just east of Carol and Judy's was a really nice duplex, where Mrs. Henderson the children hater lived. She always wore printed cotton dresses and aprons and sensible black lace-up shoes. She had the largest boobs I'd ever seen. They wrapped around her upper body like one humongous tube.
She would hang chickens from her clothesline by their ankles and then chop off their heads with a big knife. We'd sit right by the lot line and watch as the chickens flopped about shooting blood from their necks in all directions until finally bled out they hung quiet. It would not be long until the heavenly aroma of frying chickens wafted from her kitchen window. Another of life's lessons.
Yeah, I'm really glad that I got to grow up in the fifties. And I think that I have figured out why Grandma said Carl Sandburg was a bum. Because Grandma's husband worked on the same railroad where Carl's father worked. And like most Dads he was probably complaining about Carl. Anyway that is what I think.
Childhood Memories of War by Virginia Griffith
It was a lovely moonlit evening and sleep had not yet come for me. It was like a ship that never reaches port. Mama had fallen asleep while reading us a bedtime story. Papa had just been drafted into the service of our country. The year was 1944. I sat there in the darkness trying to understand the meaning of war. We had planned on going to the cemetery that evening but never made it. So mama put the flowers she had picked in our bedroom window. That sweet fragrance wafting through the room was a balm to my troubled spirits.
Times were hard for all of us on the home front. Most of the store windows had ominous posters of German and Japanese soldiers. I remember one in particular. It was a German soldier with a fixed bayonet threatening an old woman. Ration stamps were prevalent. Much sought after commodities were butter, meat, coffee and tobacco. There was an old man who lived on our block who loved his tobacco. Many of the neighbors who knew of his need were in a flurry to barter their tobacco ration stamps for his meat, butter, coffee and sugar ration stamps. Mother was after his sugar stamps, as she canned heavily and made jams and jellies.
Almost everyone had a victory garden. We had two huge gardens. Both went from street to street. It was my job to keep the bugs away. Every morning I would go up and down the rows looking for bugs. I was armed with a small bucket of kerosene. I would grab the bugs off and dispatch them with no remorse.
It wasn't easy keeping a garden. Not only did we have trouble with six legged critters but also two legged critters. One morning mama sent me over to pick the green beans. Had I gotten all of them I would have had two bushel baskets full. I couldn't believe they were gone! Someone had picked every last one.
Another time when I was weeding the garden a man and his wife and six kids stopped near the garden. The winter had been unusually mild that year and we had a fully loaded peach tree. The man walked up to examine one of the peaches. I hunkered down so as not to be seen. He said ''We'll give it another week and then come back.''
We also raised chickens and rabbits for extra protein. Mama received a $200.00 allotment from the government while papa was gone. At times it didn't go far. We went to rummage sales looking for school clothes. Second hand clothes and shoes for children were very hard to find. We would find only clothes and shoes suitable for older women. I was nearly sent home from school one day for wearing a pair of shoes with two-inch heels. While clickity-clacking along to school I felt quite grown up. But my teacher felt differently. Rarely did we get anything new.
It was my job to help with the washing. The washing machine broke down that summer. Parts to repair almost anything were non-existent. For those of us who did not have a working washing machine or none at all, there was a gadget called a rapid washer. It was a conical shaped metal instrument with a long wooden handle. Many hot summer afternoons were spent plunging the rapid washer up and down to get the clothes clean. One morning, while on my way to Bateman School, I saw an elderly woman pushing her husband's car down the driveway. His reverse gear was broken. There were no parts to be had.
Saturday was our day, as children. We went to the matinee at the Colonial Theatre to see our weekly serial pictures. My favorite was Tiger Lady. She swung from tree to tree just like Tarzan. Each week we would go back to see how our heroine had fared. Did Tiger Lady get eaten by that charging lion? The serial usually stopped at the most exciting part. We were left hanging until next week. For the most part mother kept us away from regular movies because of the war and battle scenes. But the cartoons we saw put a humorous vent on the war. We saw Adolph Hitler being chased by biting dogs or being kicked down a flight of stairs. On our way to school we would recite little ditties while we walked along ... If you step on a crack you'll break 0l' Hitler's back'' or ''There's a German in the grass with a bullet...'' (sung to the tune of reveille). I am sure that some will remember the rest of that little ditty.
The forties seemed like such a quiet innocent time on the home front. We never locked our doors nor did mother worry about sending us to an occasional evening movie. Movies were 34 cents. With the remaining money we could get a big box of popcorn for 10 cents. Candy bars were 5 cents.
Papa wrote home soon after he left. He ended his letter with ''Give my regard to Ronnie.'' Mother asked, ''Who do we know by the name of Ronnie?'' Then she figured it out. Papa was going to be stationed in Rome, Italy. He never saw much active duty. The war was pretty nearly over when he reached Italy. Mail to and from the states was heavily censored. Some letters from papa were blacked out in certain places. My father saw as much of Italy as he could. He often talked of visiting Naples and was thrilled to see the ancient city of Pompeii.
While there he saw many grids where the local officials were uncovering the past. Papa brought home many old Roman coins and many beautifully carved cameos made from sea shells. He also brought home a mysterious and ancient looking metallic figure of a man, approximately four inches high. Papa said that he wrested it from the excavations at Pompeii. But papa was known to stretch the truth. In reality, we believe that an enterprising Italian citizen hunching down among the ruins was finding and selling his country's ancient heritage to the American soldiers.
The Italian people seemed in dire straits. But surprisingly it wasn't food that they seemed to crave. Would you believe lipstick, toilet soap, sunglasses and cigarettes? We all would go to Ford Hopkins Drug Store and the Woolworth dime store and gather up all that papa asked for, to be sent to Italy. Almost no money was exchanged. Many of the cameos and Roman coins and my little Pompeii man were exchanged for cigarettes or toilet soap and/or sunglasses.
Papa liked the beautiful hand-made jewelry that some Italian women wore. He would walk up to a lady with a beautiful pair of earrings and try to barter with her for a tube of Tangee lipstick. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't. Papa was always up for a bargain, no matter where he was. Now that I think about it, Tangee lipstick would have presented a rather garish look on an olive-skinned Italian woman. It was almost the color of a very red tangerine. It was a popular lipstick here in the states. (Mother liked it too.)
Papa visited the Sistine Chapel and loved to go sightseeing. He saw as much of Rome as he could. He was very much shocked and saddened at how the Italian people were living. While visiting a public square one evening he saw many other American soldiers there as well. Little Italian boys, probably no older than six and eight years old, were wandering among the American servicemen soliciting for prostitutes. One little boy came up to my father and in very broken english said, ''I know where can find nica girl.'' Another little boy approaching other groups of soldiers said ''piecanass?piecanass?''
When papa came home from the service he seemed very quiet and depressed by all that he had seen. The slightest incident would send him over the top. Yours truly would go hide under the bed when I heard his car pull in the driveway. In my childhood memories of war I become very sad to think of the millions of innocent people who perished in Hitler's crematoriums and on the battlefields of Europe. Think of the bright souls of genius and promise who might have given us a cure for aids and many other diseases that plague our world. What a terrible waste.
Now we are met yet again with a new terror possessing a more frightening agenda. It has come home to our shores! It was Winston Churchill, once Prime Minister of England, who made a very prophetic observation about prodding the American eagle and the trouble it might bring. Now that American eagle prodded from its perch must help decide the fate of an oppressed people. With fierce resolve and fierce determination and sharp talons, that eagle must grasp the prize.
GOD BLESS AMERICA!
My Crazy Life Growing Up on the Farm by Margie Talbert
I am starting this story from when I was 4 years old (1929). Dad got up and let Mom and my sister and brothers sleep from 4 AM until time to get ready for school. Dad always got out oatmeal or corn meal mush, and toast and jelly, which were all homemade for breakfast.
Dad always had two or three hired men. When I was 5 I had to go up high in the silo and throw down the silage for the animals to eat at Grandma's. We took our corn to the mill to be ground into meal for breakfast. My grandad had died so I helped Grandma with what I could.
In oat sowing time, I had to shovel oats into the old oat spreader and I fed the seeder oats. Dad always drove the horses and wagon and I shoveled the oats in the hopper, while sowing the seed oats.
Mom had about a half acre of garden which she tended and always canned 800 quarts of vegetables and fruits. She also made all kinds of jelly and preserves and put them in glasses with paraffin (wax) over them to keep them from spoiling.
When I was about 6 years old, I got up and swept the kitchen while Dad was getting breakfast. Only one time can I remember him scolding me. He had asked me to sweep which I did but could not find the dustpan. I thought I had solved the problem when I swept the dirt under the linoleum rug. He let me set down and then he said, ''Max, where is the dustpan?'' At the time, I had to tell him the truth and say that I didn't have it. He made me clean it up.
We had a new blue monarch cooking stove and Dad had put up a long board with hooks in back of it for our coats to hang. My little brother who also was the apple of everyone's eye had a little bulldog called Peggy. He would go behind the stove and pull down all the coats and he and Peggy would go to play on them where it was warm. Mom would soon be in and she would ask, ''Who pulled down the coats?'' Of course Elmer and say, ''Max-a-dini-dini-dini did it.'' Mom, of course, would believe him and I got the old razor strap used until I was up the stairs.
My job everyday was to carry cobs and coal up from the basement for the monarch stove, and heating stoves which were upstairs to heat the folk's room, hired men's room and Margaret and my room.
On Sunday mornings I had to pull the heads off of 5 chickens, scald and pick them and cut them up for dinner. Then I could go to Sunday School. Grandpa Brown would take Grandma, Margaret and myself to Sunday School. He was an atheist but always got us to Hooppole Church. Grandma's father was a minister.
Mom would do the wash by hand, ring them out, rinse them, and boil them in the old boiler on the cookstove and then put them in a bluing water (white clothes.) She, in her spare time, made each of us girls 2 dresses a year. One for school and one for after school. She hung clothes on the line in winter. They would freeze still and when we got home from school, we would get them in. We had fun, especially when the long underwear froze stiff. At times, Mom would sit down and darn socks on a gourd or she would be mending clothes.
One time, a hired man took and relieved himself out of the window. Mom made him wash down the side of the house. I also had to keep water in a basin on all the heating stoves so that we would have moisture in the house.
Margaret baked pies and cakes and helped cook. After supper, she and I would do dishes for the day. We also had to keep the reservoir full so that we would have hot water and the tea kettle on the top so the stove full to scald them after washing.
Each fall we would get together with neighbors and have the hogs killed and bleeding and the water boiling so that they could dip them and then scrape them in a barrel. Then they were cut up and put in the smokehouse where we burned hickory wood to flavor and keep them during the winter. We also used hickory salt on them. In spring we would have mountain oysters reaped from the small boars. Mom took all the fat from the hogs and put in a roaster and cooked it. Then we took the fat and pressed it. We saved the fat for cooking but ate the pressed pieces (cracklings) of fat with salt on them. She always had a ten-gallon crock of fat in the basement. Then on the same machine, we would grind the lean meat and put the cleaned fresh guts on where the meat comes out and have yards of sausage to fry down and put in a ten- gallon crock with the fat fried right out over it. I remember also using the lard in a big kettle in the yard and making soap with either lye or ashes. It also was put in old jars or wooden boxes to dry.
Fruit came in the wooden boxes from a storage bin. I can remember when I was about six or seven, I was to make a cake. I got what I thought was lard from the basement. I put all the ingredients and minced it and I put it in two round pans and frosted it with cooked sugar, milk, cocoa, salt, butter, and vanilla and cooked it on the stove. Boy was it beautiful! When we started to eat the cake, I had gotten the soap and not the lard! Good laughs but bad waste.
In 1929, Dad went to work for the WPA in order to get diapers for my brother that was to be born. Mom had been in the Clinton, IA hospital most of the time for those nine months. Thanks to God, she had old baby clothes on hand.
We had eight cows to milk and the last two had kickers on. This went on until 1939 when we got a milker. We put milk in the tank to cool in. A big milk can or two and the milkman picked it up each morning. On the milk, we saved for the house, we let it sit until the cream formed on top. It would sour so we skimmed the cream and churned butter and then put the sour milk in a big dishpan and cooked it real slow on the back of the stove. Then it was drained and washed and that was our cottage cheese, after putting salt and sweet cream on it.
I can remember when I was about five years old and Grandad Brown gave me a nickel for Sunday School. I thought that was too much for the offering plate, so I sneaked across to the store and got two cents worth of candy. On my way back. I fell and skinned both knees. I remember Grandma had the family reunion and everyone wanted to know what happened to my knees. I couldn't tell a lie, so I said that I did it going to the grocery store for two cents of candy.
In 1941, I graduated from high school and went to work in the ammunition plant with my sister Margaret. This was at Amboy, Illinois and we worked there almost three years. In that time, we stayed with an aunt in Mendota and rode the bus back and forth. Dad also bought a welding place at that time, but sold it in two years because his partner wasn't much of a partner but more of an alcoholic. In 1945, Dad bought Brown Implement Business and rented the building at first but then there were trucks parked below. One of the trucks hit a pole and a tractor fell to the basement and broke Lee Pepper's leg. Then Dad bought his own store where he sold binders and seeders and McCormick Deering 15-30 and 22-36 tractors. This business did well. My brother, Elmer, helped a lot besides three hired men. Gene, my brother, was in college at that time. I kept and ordered a perpetual inventory of parts and worked at the counter. My sister Margaret kept books and took care of the bills.
In 1947, I married and had Trudie Rhea. In 1948, I had Lester William, Terry Stevens in 1951, and Tommy Sheldon in 1953. My husband died in March of 1953. I had Kevin Earl two and a half months later. At that time, we lived in Freeport. My husband had worked at Micro Switch and when I wasn't pregnant, I did too. We had two twins, 16 years olds who would baby-sit for us. My kids never knew who was who. We moved back to Toulon m 1955. I bought a house where all of my kids went to school and high schooL Then I worked in Toulon and Galva nursing homes. Then I got a job at Galesburg Research Hospital in 1963.
In 1970, I needed a hysterectomy, so was off of work for one year. Then my sister Margaret and I went to LPN school and both graduated. In 1971, I went to work again at Research. I bought a house at 226 Blaine Ave. in Galesburg and we moved there and continued to work.
In 1989, I retired and moved to Whiting Hall. Margaret lived there two years and died. In January 2003, I went to Knoxville Nursing Home.
I remember when I was young we were on the Lindgren Farm at Prophetstown and we tore down the old barn and Mr. Lindgren built a new one. Every year after the hay was put in the haymow, the birds (pigeons) laid eggs. When the birds were big enough, we would gather about a dozen squabs, kill and scald them, and then pick and wash them. That was really the good old days to eat them with dressing and gravy.
I would wait until the weather got cold and get a scoop shovel or skates and go to Ed Specht's pond and skate. We all went to Specht School so everyone knew everyone. We went to a one room school with one teacher for twelve kids and she had to get to school early and to get the school warm. We had a coal and cab furnace so they were in the basement. If we were really good, at the last day of school each week, she would make cocoa for us on the old kerosene stove that smelled bad. That was the treat.
We used to grow stalks for molasses cane. Molasses was eaten on our pancakes and cakes and cookies were made with it. We bought sulfur and mixed it with molasses for cough syrup.
On Christmas we always cooked a goose, not because we really liked it, but because Mom needed the goose grease to mix with kerosene to rub our chests for colds. We had a large hen house where we kept about forty hens. They laid eggs most of the year. We kept roosters so the eggs would hatch and we had a brooder house where we put the chicks to keep them warm. We also took about 12-15 dozen eggs to the store for groceries. Eggs brought abut l2cents a dozen. We had a big hen house which the hens had nests. We got an electric door fixed on it. When men went to the door to steal chickens, Dad shot out the window. We had guineas that squawked when someone came around. At Grandpa's house, we heard guineas yelling, so he snuck up to the hen house about a block away with the gun. He shot at a figure and went back to the house. The next day he heard someone had been shot in the foot. We then knew who was the thief.
We had what was known as a Back House for a toilet. One day, Mom came running out with her pants down and dress up yelling. We went to see what was wrong and she said that a snake was in there. It was in the wooded shell box with the Sears and Roebuck Catalog that was used for toilet paper. She got the snake in her hand instead of the toilet paper.
About fifty feet from that little building was the smokehouse. We hickory salted the pork by rubbing hickory salt in it and hanging it in there for smoking for winter.
Mom tore all dresses and men's shirts up into one inch strips as long as possible. She then sewed the one inch lengths together and crocheted rugs for the floor. In the spring, she carted wool between what were called wool carters that looked like two wide brushes with metal teeth and she put pieces of wool in them until all cockle burrs were out. Then she got yards on flannel and put the wool in 8x3 squares and tied them with yarn of different colors and they were our quilts for winter.
In harvest time, we still cut the wheat or oats with a binder and horses. Then this was stacked four to a stack. Neighbors brought their horses and hay racks to pick them up to thresh. Dad had the threshing machine so that all the neighbors brought over wheat or oats and threshed the grain out. Then Dad would move the thresher to another job for the neighbors. We had wagons to catch the grain. Then it would go into the big bins ten feet deep. If you got in a full bin, you would sink and drown. You opened the door for it by using an eight inch board sliding up the door and took out the bottom board to get the grain to use.
We always planted corn and in the fall men husked it in the field with the horse and wagons. When it was dry, we shelled it and put it in a bin to feed the cattle, sheep, hogs, chickens, ducks, turkeys, guineas, and geese. The cats and dogs got fed milk when milking. We made slop for the pigs by grinding grain and adding water enough to get it out and put it in the troughs. To feed the pigs, we were barefoot or had overshoes when we fed them because of the manure that was all over the cement floor and stunk really badly. The horses had to be fed and taken to the water tank where we had a windmill to pump it.
Dad would repair and put gas and oil in the machinery for later use. We had a lane that was long where we stored machinery that didn't need housing.
We walked two miles to school summer and winter. We wore long johns with drop seats to keep warm. Sometimes Grandpa Brown would make a sled out of a wagon and take us to school.
We had a new Chevrolet car in 1929 and a new Pontiac in 1934. In 1934, we went to Manitoba, Canada and visited Uncle Leonard Franks and his wife Ada and son Arnold. Aunt Ada didn't like the hired girl so she had Arnold and myself put flea powder in her face powder. We were very gullible. I think Elmer was five years old, Marg was thirteen, and I was ten. We thought that was very smart. We even wore our best clothes. Canada had roads that were made out of logs set side by side and called corduroy; they were quite bumpy.
When in school, we all had a syrup pail and many days took leftover pancakes with jelly or sugar and cinnamon in them for lunch. For enjoyment, Francis Brown, Marg, Elmer and myself got on the old daybed and listened to the radio. Sometimes we played dominoes or cards for enjoyment.
Dad was slightly short legged as he had polio when younger. He was sent to Genesco to college, as he couldn't walk well at that time. He also played the violin at square dances, in Morrison, IL. In 1934, Grandma and Grandpa Fellows moved in with us when his only son died (Emerson Fellows.) One was ninety-four and the other was ninety-five. They only lived for a couple of years. They were buried in Lynden, IL. I forget what year Grandfather Arthur Ewing moved in with us. He didn't want to die alone in Montana. His two sons, Charles and Chester came to work for Dad until the war started. Charles Ewing (Mom's half brother) and Francis Brown (Uncle Les Brown's grandson) were both in the Army. Glenn Brown (Lynn Brown's son) was captured during the war.
When they were discharged, they came to our place on the Lindgren Farm. My grandfather, who was so nice to us, was Elmer Kirk Brown. His mother was from the Isle of Man. Grandfather teased us and told us Grandma was a man. Elmer Brown and Fannie Franks had eight children. Lula Mae Ewing married an Arthur Matt Ewing and they had four girls, I think. She had one brother, Emerson Fellows. Grandma's father and mother were Charles Fellows and Margaret Eirkman. My mom's name was Lila Elvira Ewing and she married Harry Earl Brown. They had four children. Margaret Melvora Brown, Margie Maxine Brown, Elmer Carl Brown, and Gene Everett Brown.
I had five kids: Trudie Rhea, Lester William, Terry Steven, Tommy Sheldon, and Kevin Earl. Dad used to be mean with Lester when he was near Kevin. He would look at Lester and say, ''Little head lots of wit. Big head not a bit.'' Lester stayed at his uncle's much of the time. Omie and Opal always took Margaret and myself to town. Omie would get one of Margaret's hands and Ople the other and say to me, ''Walk behind or in front of us. You walk like a duck and your eyes are crossed.''
Mom and Dad always kept their house nice. The roof got new every ten years and the house was painted every three years. They had a huge garden and flowers, which were weedless. Dad had one of the first radios and it was like a box one foot deep and three feet long. We listened to it with earphones. We had to take turns. When Dad fixed the house, he had out cupboards three feet deep and the room was covered except where the door was. They had a round kitchen table and chairs, a wood cook stove in the basement, so you could cook down there. A cabinet at one end and a ringer washer at the other end. They had a large washer and dryer down there also. Anyone could take a shower in the wash room (middle) and a toilet down there. They also built a new house but it was too small to live in, so they sold it to the Settles and lived in the old house again.
In 1936, we had cinch bugs in the cornfield. The heat was from 90-100 degrees. We picked cinch bugs off of the corn and put them in cans with kerosene in them. During that time we lived on the Perino Farm. We had electric lights and a generator in the basement. Margaret and I had a room together and I can remember tearing up Dad's old headphone radio and made a place to store things in our bedroom.
One time, they lined up the corn to dry for seed on the wall of our bedroom. We had kerosene lights and celluloid combs. I was putting the comb over the lamp and it caught fire. I dropped it in the dry corn and we had a fire going quite well until Mom got some water and put it out.
At that time, we had a cesspool made from a wooden barrel and were told that's where the dirty water went and to keep away from it as it might be rotten. Of course, I stepped on it and Margaret caught me by the hair or I would have drowned. Another time, I got us in trouble by playing in the hayloft, which we were to keep away from. There was a large square hold and hay was put around so you could pitch it down there and not have to be near the horses. We rented two stallions for breeding our mares and they were really mean. They were kept beneath the haymow but the horses were in the pasture and I fell through the hole above them. Margaret caught me again by my hair. Mom got the stallions out in the pasture. Margaret saved me one more time.
At that time, we were very poor and Mom bleached flour sacks for our dresses. Mom had a piece of silk to make me a blouse and put a gold medal from a flour sack on the bottom to keep it in my skirt. The gold medal sack came out in back and a wealthy kid made fun of me that day when I was sitting in front of him in Sophomore science class. The skirt was my sister's old one.
Well now, I am seventy-eight and I live here in Knoxville, IL at the Knox County Nursing Home.