CLAY CENTER CHRISTMAS IN THE 60’s

Bess Streeter Aldrich writes in Lantern in Her Hand about the years Abby Deal could still hear her children playing and laughing in the poplar trees long after they had become successful adults and no longer home with her. They dismissed her as senile and living in the past.
I know what Abby Deal was thinking and especially at Christmas time, I can see the group of town kids, followed by their dogs, riding their bikes around town and some of them just running, always in a hurry to see what was happening. Most of them ended up sooner or later at our house on South Martin.
The Court House lawn was a special place at Christmas time. There was a nativity scene on the grass and Danny and his pal David Werner came running home and said Uncle Heiny (who was county sheriff) told them to stop riding on the camels. All the old pine trees were decorated with big multicolored bulbs, none of those tiny lights then. On the very top of the courthouse was a star. .
It was a special night when Mickey and his pals came running in the back door, slamming it behind them, shouting, “Mom the Christmas lights are on.” Then they knew it was really time to start behaving themselves if they wanted anything for Christmas. Believe it or not they weren’t any better behaved at Christmas than any other time of year, but how I loved them all. Kyle, Mark, Troop, Joe, Mick, Danny, Tim, and Tony. That’s just a few of the names. Sandy was much too nice to run with this bunch. She and cousin Terri just couldn’t wait for Danny, Mick, and Janis to grow up and quit embarrassing them.
Was Abby Deal really senile? If she was, then so am I. I wouldn’t give up these memories for all the money in the world.

Published in: on December 10, 2014 at 3:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

CRISTMAS MEMORIES 2

Christmas memories seem to merge into eras.

I am writing this on December 7th. That began the years when everyone was in some way or other part of the war. We were also growing up fast.

Our cousins from “out West” were sometimes able to come to Grandma’s for Christmas. (out west was in Perkins county Nebraska). We were a small family and the cousins were quite a bit younger.

Bernice still decorated her scrawny little tree that sat on the old library table. Now we drew names so everyone would get a present. Sometimes we had a grab bag. Then I remember putting our names in a bowl and drawing out the name of who would win Grandma’s crocheted rag rug. I am not sure which year we wrote out a list of what we wanted and Grandpa wrote ranch. What he really meant was Wrench. Grandma couldn’t read or write (she was from a family of 16 children and it seemed unnecessary to send girls to school). She drew a picture. Believe me, our grandparents were not ignorant. They were uneducated. Grandpa went to school long enough to learn what he had to know. He came to this country knowing how to speak low German. Learned to speak, read and write in High German and English. He read the newspaper and listened to the radio. He was a devout Republican and let you know it. He could read music. Once he came home from a sale with a fiddle and played old German hymns. He also liked to go on drinking sprees, loved horses and got in fights. We loved him most of the time. We adored Grandma all the time.

After graduation I taught in a country school for a year. We had a Christmas program and my friend LaVon helped me by playing the piano. The eight kids were very good singers. I don’t remember all of the program, but I let the kids pick out a poem to recite from some leaflets my Dad had saved from the extension office. The eighth grader picked one that had a kid who peeked at Santa and the last line was “and Santa jumped right in bed with Mama in the middle of the night”. Aunt Helen and Rex came to the program and Rex laughed so hard and said that was the best part of the program. That was in 1948, the winter of the worst blizzard ever. That Christmas day, we had to hook a wagon to the tractor to get to Grandma’s for Christmas. Max was overseas in Berlin and we all had to write to him about it. It was the first Christmas we were not all together. Mom and Grandpa cried a lot because that was the way they were.

After those years we all grew up and went our separate ways with our own families.

That is the way it should be. Remember the good things and try to learn from them.

Published in: on December 7, 2014 at 5:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

Christmases to remember

This will be my 84th Christmas.

I have a very small memory of getting out of bed one Christmas morning to see a little wicker doll buggy and a doll for each my sister and me. I was told later that I took one look and went back to bed. That tells you what an exciting child I was. Really, I bet it was pretty darn cold because the house was cold all night. I can still remember the sound of Dad shaking the ashes out of the stove and putting coal in the stove to get the house warmed up for the day.

A year or two later times were hard and mom saved coupons from buying groceries to pay for a doll with eyes that closed for my sister and me to share. She stayed up nights to make clothes for it. Shirley Temple dolls were only for the “rich” kids and we knew we wouldn’t ever get a Shirley Temple doll so we named her Shirley. We played with her for many years. As we got older we had paper dolls. They had the most beautiful clothes.

After we opened our presents it was off to Grandma and Grandpa’s house on the farm. We looked forward to that for weeks. We had to bundle up and wrap ourselves in blankets to drive seven miles in the cold. I think we ate all day. We had homemade bread and butter and cream whipped by hand in a blue and white bowl. Every single thing was home cooked, baked and home grown. Lots of homemade candy too. I think the only thing they bought was peanuts in the shell and Dad ate them all through the winter. He sat by the stove listening to the radio and dropped the shells in the coal bucket. Conversations were pretty calm until Grandpa started in on the democrats. Grandma was very meek and just sat quietly. One year it snowed so bad we had to stay overnight. Grandma said it was the best Christmas ever.

Mom’s sisters, our Aunts Bernice and Helen were still living at home. They “worked out” as it was called for people that could afford to pay them. They had wonderful presents for us. They were both very pretty and had nice clothes. They gave us their old clothes to play dress up. Loved those high heeled shoes.

As we grew up we still loved that trip to Grandma’s. Bernice bought the spindliest artificial tree I ever saw and filled it with decorations to fill the gaps.

In 1943 we moved to the farm and Grandpa and Grandma moved to town. Now they had electricity and we didn’t. It was quite a change, but Christmas was still at Grandma’s.

This was wartime and things were different, but Christmas was still Christmas.

I will end this story for now and try to write a sequel next week.

Published in: on November 21, 2014 at 2:31 am  Leave a Comment  

1980s

The 1980s began our life in an empty nest becoming full of new life with Grandchildren.

The world lost John Lennon to an assassin in 1980.

Attempted assassinations were made on the Pope and President Reagan in 1981 and a new plague called AIDS was introduced to our country.

Every little girl wanted a cabbage patch doll for Christmas in 1983.

School children were learning that a teacher was on the space shuttle Challenger when it blew up in the sky for everyone to see in 1986.

Some of the movies we watched were ET and BACK TO THE FUTURE.

In 1989 The Berlin wall fell. We were all hopeful for the world.

Meanwhile we added grandchildren for our granddaughter Anna to play with: Ben in 81, Phil and Renee in 83,David in 84, Jamey in 85. So by the end of 1980 our house was full again at Christmas time.

Max and I began working on our bucket list to do all the things we had put off during the working years.

We made out first plane trip to Las Vegas, traveled to Yellowstone Park following the Oregon Trail with our camper.

We went to Arizona and stayed in Bull Head City and rode the boats over the border to Laughlin, Nevada to play the slot machines, then vistited Lee and Marge Northrop in Phoenix on our way home.

We spent some time boating and fishing at several lakes in Nebraska and Kansas.

We spent time at a lake in Minnesota and returned to The Black Hills where we spent our honeymoon in 1950. We vacationed at Holiday Island in Arkansas as guests if we could put up with a sales pitch to buy real estate. (Everybody does that at least once, don’t they?)

In the fall of 1989 we took the trip I really enjoyed. We traveled to Colorado and rode the Durango Silverton railroad. We visited the Grand Canyon and then went to Laughlin, Nevada to try our luck at the slot machines.

We both still held part time jobs. I worked in the pharmacy and Max took care of the city park.

Most of the time was just spent in the day to day things that we don’t appreciate enough. Every day is really a gift. We should enjoy it more. Time seems to go faster every year.

Published in: on October 12, 2014 at 8:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

I have learned so much from my children and grandchildren. 

I would not be on wordpress right now if not for the computer knowledge I learned from them..

I have learned to love different kinds of music and only tolerate some.

I learned that having animals in the house is not unsanitary and teaches you a lot of love.

The list is endless.

Now, I have had many regrets in my life.  Raising children is not an easy job.  They often want exactly what is not best for them.  I didn’t give them everything they asked for and I am sorry for some of them.

There is one thing I did give them and I have never regretted. 

We took them fishing and camping and taught them to love the outdoors.  Most of the time it was in Nebraska and close to home.  They learned about respecting the environment and watched other people who did the opposite.  We had a lot of laughs watching fellow campers who didn’t know what they were doing.  One fairly large group at the Chadron State Park spent all their time playing cards and drinking beer while this old Grandma did all the work.  I swore I would never do that.  

That was always my favorite time of year when I could quite selfishly have my family to myself and not share them with anyone else.   I doubt anyone could do this now as everyone seems to have a smart phone attached to their body. 

I hope that these outdoor experiences have instilled a love of nature to these kids. 

So my advice to you is TAKE THE KIDS FISHING AND CAMPING NOW.  TIME’S A WASTIN’

 

Published in: on March 12, 2014 at 7:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

Christmas Letter

MERRY CHRISTMAS

It is time for my 83rd Christmas.

I am fortunate for all my friends and family.  They mean everything to me.

My children are near me in Clay Center, Sutton and Hastings.  I can’t believe they are talking of retirement.  Just yesterday they were fighting in the backseat when Max and I took them on vacations.

My grandchildren are all grown up too.  The oldest, Anna lives in Sutton with her daughter,  the joy of all our lives.  Madison is in the first grade and has just turned seven.  Ben is moving to Lincoln as a promotion working for Anderson Ford.  Phil is in Kearney with Verizon and is also working to complete his degree.  Jamey is marrried to Shanda and they are expecting their first child in May.  We are all delighted.  Jamey is working for Anderson Ford in Grand Island and also is working on his degree in Education.  He lives in Hastings. The youngest grandchild, Caleb will graduate from Vassar college in New York in May.  It is hard to tell where he will end up at.     I am sure he will continue with his education.  He really likes international relations and will probably end up in many different countries. Renee is a nurse in pediatrics at Madonna in Lincoln.  She is with Adam and his 3 children that Renee loves very much.  They are my great grandchildren too.  David is in Lincoln with Megan and her daughter.  They are a family too.  Families are complicated these days, but they are just as loving anyway.  At least to this grandma.

I am still living in my own home, but every time something breaks I am ready to downsize.  I spend my time on facebook and have just acquired a kindle,so I am reading a lot. 

I am hoping someone has a little faith in Clay Center and starts a business.  It is difficult to exist in a town where you can’t even get a plumber. 

I have had a good year and hope yours is good as well.

Published in: on December 23, 2013 at 9:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

I NEED A CAUSE

 

I am just sitting here enjoying the break in the heat and realized I really need a CAUSE to get my mind ready for the change of seasons.

 

Nothing gets me talking like something to get my town more attractive to people looking for a place to live.  Commuting is very common and Clay Center is near many places of employment.

 

The first thing people look at is the town that is good for their kids.

We have excellent schools to choose from, most have bus service.  All stress academics first and have excellent sports programs and the arts.

 

We have a really great park and public library. 

 

The one thing we have now but is really showing its age is a swimming pool.

Now I know it would cost a lot of money, but it would add so much to attracting new residents.

My thought is a regulation Olympic size pool that would attract swim meets from all over the area.  Most cities are building water parks, which are fun but can’t be used for swim teams.

Many of the schools are now considering adding swimming to their activities.  Our golf course is used by Sandy Creek.  Why not a swimming pool.  Swimming is one of the best fitness forms known.  It sure beats sitting and playing video games.  We will be seeing more schools offering swimming in the near future.  Swimming is a sport that begins in infancy and goes on to old age.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t keep the mind young. 

 

All I ever seem to hear is complaints about losing our school.  It is changed but it is still our school.  If we don’t do something to make our town useful to the school we will lose what we already have.  Teachers have to live somewhere, why not here.  There is more talk of getting everything at the Sandy Creek campus which I won’t get into, we need to offer something here and elect a school board that will sell Clay Center and quit fighting with the other towns.

 

We seem to always be a day late and a dollar short when it comes to getting something that would really help.

 

It’s time to stand up for something before we say “The last one out of town, turn off the lights”.

Published in: on September 11, 2013 at 8:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

THERE WAS TIME FOR STORIES

THERE WAS TIME FOR STORIES

 

THERE WAS TIME FOR STORIES

 

 

Vandalism at the Farmers Valley cemetery makes me think of the value of telling stories passed down by generations.

 

I value the stories my Mom told us about her girlhood days.  She told us about the days when the Misner Players came to town and stayed at the hotel in Henderson. Her friend Goldie Misner lived in the hotel.  The Misner Players were actors who would put on plays, many times it was Shakespeare.  She never forgot Goldie, she was her oldest and best friend.  These traveling acting groups entertained in the opera houses.  Almost every town had an opera house.  Grandpa ran the livery barn and he was a pretty wild guy.  She said whenever they went anywhere he would take the wildest horses and scare her to death.  During prohibition days there were always places to get bootleg booze and Grandpa had a weekness for it.  Grandma could not read or write so Mom wrote a note and delivered it to the owner. She said if they didn’t quit selling it to Grandpa they would turn him in.  I don’t know if it did any good. 

 

After she graduated from grade school, they moved to a farm in Farmers Valley.  She could not attend High School.  She told of getting ice from the Blue River and storing it in the ice house.  The river was so clean they could make lemonade and use the ice. She  worked at many homes when the mom would have a baby.  She would have to stay with the family and she got so homesick she would really get ill.  I think that is why she was so sad when one of us left home.  It was almost unbearable for her.

 

During these years she met Dad.  He went to Bethel Academy in Newton, Kansas and then returned to teach country school.  He went to York college in the summer and later taught school in Henderson.  Some time during these years he came to Farmers Valley to see Mom.  They made a lot of new friends because now he had a car and they could go places.  She was always close to her family and they depended on her.  She was a very good seamstress and sewed for her little sisters.  She adored her brother, Dan.  I have pictures of some of these friends from Farmers Valley. They went to Sutton for entertainment.  There was always a rivalry between Henderson and Sutton.

 

There is so much good in passing on stories that teach kids where they came from. Maybe if they understand the generations before them, they will respect things that their ancestors left behind.  I cannot imagine destroying a cemetery, or even using it for a beer party.  Is there so much anger in these people that they have to destroy something so sacred?  Or have we neglected to spend time with them to tell stories.  A good deal of it is a Gang Mentality.  Things just get out of hand.  I really have a lot of hope for our kids.  They have so many opportunities, I just hope they use them wisely. 

 

So I am old enough to give advice, but young enough to remember being young. And my Mom was beautiful.

 

 

 

Vandalism at the Farmers Valley cemetery makes me think of the value of telling stories passed down by generations.

 

I value the stories my Mom told us about her girlhood days.  She told us about the days when the Misner Players came to town and stayed at the hotel in Henderson. Her friend Goldie Misner lived in the hotel.  The Misner Players were actors who would put on plays, many times it was Shakespeare.  She never forgot Goldie, she was her oldest and best friend.  These traveling acting groups entertained in the opera houses.  Almost every town had an opera house.  Grandpa ran the livery barn and he was a pretty wild guy.  She said whenever they went anywhere he would take the wildest horses and scare her to death.  During prohibition days there were always places to get bootleg booze and Grandpa had a weekness for it.  Grandma could not read or write so Mom wrote a note and delivered it to the owner. She said if they didn’t quit selling it to Grandpa they would turn him in.  I don’t know if it did any good. 

 

After she graduated from grade school, they moved to a farm in Farmers Valley.  She could not attend High School.  She told of getting ice from the Blue River and storing it in the ice house.  The river was so clean they could make lemonade and use the ice. She  worked at many homes when the mom would have a baby.  She would have to stay with the family and she got so homesick she would really get ill.  I think that is why she was so sad when one of us left home.  It was almost unbearable for her.

 

During these years she met Dad.  He went to Bethel Academy in Newton, Kansas and then returned to teach country school.  He went to York college in the summer and later taught school in Henderson.  Some time during these years he came to Farmers Valley to see Mom.  They made a lot of new friends because now he had a car and they could go places.  She was always close to her family and they depended on her.  She was a very good seamstress and sewed for her little sisters.  She adored her brother, Dan.  I have pictures of some of these friends from Farmers Valley. They went to Sutton for entertainment.  There was always a rivalry between Henderson and Sutton.

 

There is so much good in passing on stories that teach kids where they came from. Maybe if they understand the generations before them, they will respect things that their ancestors left behind.  I cannot imagine destroying a cemetery, or even using it for a beer party.  Is there so much anger in these people that they have to destroy something so sacred?  Or have we neglected to spend time with them to tell stories.  A good deal of it is a Gang Mentality.  Things just get out of hand.  I really have a lot of hope for our kids.  They have so many opportunities, I just hope they use them wisely. 

 

So I am old enough to give advice, but young enough to remember being young. And my Mom was beautiful.

Published in: on August 23, 2013 at 7:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

Remembering the Lincoln Highway

I have been to Yellowstone Park, the Black Hills, and even to Grand Canyon,  but never was so excited about a vacation as we were when we went “Out West” to see our uncle and aunt, Dan and Eva Tessman.  They had three of the cutest little tow-headed kids you ever saw.  They loved to sing  choruses they learned in Sunday School.

 

They lived in the country out in the middle of nowhere.  It was south of Paxton, Nebraska.  They were about 15 miles from Paxton, Elsie, and Madrid.  It was a Mennonite community, but they had other neighbors, too.  Near them was a little Mennonite Bretheran Church.

 

The first time we went we were still living in Henderson.  It was war time.  We must have saved up our gas stamps.  Mom was very nervous and the weather had to be just right. We were going for Thanksgiving.  Max and Jerry said they were going to rig up some kind of light  so she would think the sun was shining. We finally decided to go.  We headed out toward Hampton and stopped at Grandma and Grandpa’s on the way.  Grandma had food for us to take along and bricks warming in the oven so we could keep our feet warm.  You can’t imagine how excited we were.  Dad had warned us, no fighting in the car and I really don’t believe we did.

 

We headed for Grand Island and then had to find the right sign to get on Highway 30.  Mom would tell Dad to ask someone where it was, but he wouldn’t do it.   Same thing happened in North Platte.  The highway went right through town.  The Union Pacific track ran right along with highway 30.  The steam trains were quite long, many of them carrying war supplies.  We would wave at the engineers. We would all read all the signs out loud, the names of the towns and the population.  The most fun was reading the Burma Shave signs.  I wish I could remember one.  It would be a series of signs, with just a few words and then the last one would say Burma Shave.

 

The first exciting land mark was a covered wagon right west of Kearney.  It was a souvenir shop, but we never got to stop.  There was a row of elm trees on each side of the highway that formed an arch.  We thought it was very beautiful.   Kids were easier to please then.

 

When we got to Lexington, we were half way there.  I think we stopped for lunch there, but we didn’t go to a café.  We had our lunch from Grandma.

 

Then we were off again, reading the signs and waving at the people on the train.  I think the speed limit during the war was forty  five miles per hour.

 

The next place that was interesting was North Platte.  That was the home of Buffalo Bill and then we really thought we had arrived in the West.  The land was a lot more hilly, and we could just imagine what it must have been like with Indians in the wild west.  North Platte was a bustling town and we thought it was quite a big city.  Again, we had to find the highway 30 sign and we were very relieved when we were on the road again and didn’t get lost.

 

We followed highway 30 until we got to Paxton, and then we were on country, sandhill roads.

Dan had drawn us a map of how to get there.  He drew pictures of some of the land marks so we would find our way.  One of them was a house, and Mom said, “Oh, look, it even has a crooked chimney.”

 

We did find our way over the rolling hills,  and Dad would ask us if we lost our stomachs going over the hills.

 

When we got there, everyone was all smiles.  We ate lots of delicious food and visited and visited.

 

It was one of the best times we ever had.

 

That was our first trip.  We took a few more in more modern times.  It was the later trips that I remember the kids and their songs.

 

We went to church with them and everybody was so friendly.  I remember teasing Larry with a girl that he didn’t like.  He got pretty mad.  The little girls were so cute, with their blonde hair.  Sometimes they got into it with each other and we understood,  because we did that all the time.

 

I don’t know how Dad kept us from fighting in the car.  Four kids in a small car, I don’t know where the luggage was stored and I never remember of stopping to eat anywhere.  We always packed our own food.  We didn’t stop for souvenirs ,ever.  I don’t remember the trips home, either.  I guess we weren’t so excited then.  Maybe that was when we fought in the car.  I don’t think I ever got a window.  Poor me.

 

Memories sometime play tricks on us and we have a way of remembering the best.  I know this was surely one of the best.

 

No TV. No computers. Driving 45 miles per hour.  Burma Shave signs.  Steam trains.  I’m glad I was there to see those days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on June 25, 2013 at 7:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Christmas Memory

MEMORIES OF NIEMAN DRUG STORE

There has been many a memory related while watching the historic buildings downtown demolished.

I came to Clay Center in 1950 when Larry McLaughlin had a furniture store in one building. We bought our first furniture from him to furnish our first apartment.

June Nieman was still in the drug store at that time. Later I remember several owners.

I worked for Bill Corkle and Gordon Ockinga in the pharmacy.

My favorite memory happened in about 1960. Mr. and Mrs McKay owned the drug store. Mrs. McKay always decorated the window with merchandise.

It was Christmas and Sandy was little. She always walked home from school and stopped to see what was in the window.

One day she told me there was a baby doll in the window that looked just like a real baby.

When I went into the store Mrs. McKay said that my little girl stopped every day on her way home and asked Mrs McKay if she could hold the baby and she would get it out of the window and let Sandy hold it.

I asked Mrs. McKay to hold it for me til payday and I would get it for Christmas.

Sandy was so disappointed when the baby was gone. We decided someone bought it and they would get another one.

Sandy was overjoyed when it was under the Christmas tree.

It was just a floppy baby doll. It didn’t talk or do anything like so many later dolls that every little girl thought she had to have.

Sandy grew up and had a little girl of her own. She got out the old doll and had someone make a new body. A lot of its hair was gone. Anna loved the old doll too and she named it Cody. She must have decided it was a boy. Mike made a cradle for the doll at Christmas.

Now Anna has her own little girl, but she likes Barbies and monster dolls and is way too busy to rock a baby. I guess that is a sign of the times.

Published in: on November 17, 2012 at 8:33 pm  Leave a Comment