|Bertus & Momma about 1925.|
Momma was the second born and oldest daughter. Her brother was just two years older. When I look at the few pictures that we have of them as little kids, I can't get over how big he was compared to my tiny little Momma. He could talk her into anything and she believed everything he told her. One story I always loved to hear her tell was when she was three years old and he convinced her she could fly. Apparently they had a corn crib which from what I understand was kind of like a barn. Well the chickens would get up into the loft and peck up the loose corn kernels and then they would fly out of the loft (OK, I know chickens can't really fly.) He convinced her that she could fly like the chickens and it would be fun. She was just about to flap her little arms and jump when grandma saw her. (Thank goodness!) Grandma didn't want to scare her and end up having her fall so she just talked to her softly and told her that she didn't want her jumping from there. Slowly she talked her back down the stairs. I can just picture this little pixie of a girl up in the loft flapping her arms. Both of Momma's brothers loved to tease and pull jokes on their sisters and scare off their dates with shotguns, it's just what brothers do.
I told her once that I thought she was awfully gullible, she laughed and stated I wasn't any different with my own brothers. I hate to admit it but she was right, I believed everything my brothers said too. I didn't eat tapioca for years because they told me it was really fish eggs. It's funny that no matter how much my Mom tried to convince me that they were teasing me, I still believed them instead of her.
When it was time for my Uncle to start school he refused to go unless his little sister went along. I'm not sure why, he surely was big enough to take care of himself, I guess there was security in numbers. Momma loved school and attended a one room school house from first grade through eighth. She graduated from Wilcox High School in 1939, but she almost didn't get to go. My Grandpa could not see any need for her to go to school beyond the eighth grade, plus there was work on the farm that he needed her home for. Grandpa grew up in Germany and formal education was completed at grade 8. After that they went on to a trade school. I'm sure arguing with my Grandpa had to be like pounding your head against a brick wall. And if I know my Grandpa you didn't argue with him for too long before all holly heck broke loose. But then there's always grandma and I believe she understood Momma's drive to go to school more than anyone did. She herself was denied an education because of work that had to be done on the farm. Grandma loved books but wasn't allowed time to read, so she would sneak her books into a closet and hide. Grandma's advise to Momma was that if she wanted it badly enough she would find a way to go. There was no money to pay for the school buses in those years. The bus driver felt bad for her and let her ride free at least for a time. I can just imagine how devastated she was the day he stopped and told her she could no longer ride because the school had found out that she was riding for free. That ended her high school days temporarily until one day fate stepped in. She had gone out to the mailbox and greeted the mailman. He asked her why she wasn't in school and she told him that she had no way to get there. So he told her if she would meet him at the section corner he would give her a ride into town and drop her off in the evening on his way home. In the last years of high school she lived and worked for one of her school teachers who lived in town. She took in boarders and cooked their meals, so Momma's job was to wash and clean-up all the dishes. She would have to get the morning dishes done before she could go to school. There were many mornings when she would have to run all the way to get there on time. During lunch she would go back to the house where she would wash all the lunch dishes. On Friday nights she would ride the train from Wilcox to Hildreth and spend the night at the Pastors home so she could go to confirmation class on Saturday.
I don't think I mentioned that my folks are the same age and knew each other their entire lives. My grandparents were good friends and spent a lot of time together. Saturday evening was town night. Everyone in the surrounding area would go into town on Saturday evenings to do their shopping and see their friends. After confirmation class Momma would walk to my Dad's house and Grandpa would pick her up there on the way into town. I asked her once if she and my Dad were sweethearts then. She said: “NO WAY! I thought he was terrible.” I said: “But, you walked to his house after class, didn't you?” She said: “Well sort of, he stayed on his side of the road and I stayed on mine.” I don't think I ever asked her how they ended up dating and falling in love – something I regret. I must remember to ask my Dad.
Isn't it funny how we think of our parents lives beginning the day we were born, as if everything in life centers around our being. I suppose it's because it's all we really understand and can comprehend. I love thinking about my Momma being a little girl with curly hair. Her Aunt Rosetta used to call her “poor little Lucille.” Momma hated that, she said there was nothing “poor” about her. They didn't have much, but in those days no one did, so they felt no different from each other. When I look at her pictures I can see that her clothes didn't fit and her coat had holes in it and sometimes she had no shoes on. It's only when you look past the clothing and into her eyes that you can see a child that was loved and that's where I see my Momma's riches.
Amongst my Momma's treasures were loving parents who cherished all their children.
To be continued.