OUR PRESTON FARM MEMORIES
(Compiled by Elaine Ila Preston Hast
and Helen Kay Preston Howell)


The lightning circled our farm house with loud cracks. When it struck, Mom thought it had hit the house. She and 3 of her children made a frantic dash for the back door. We stood paralyzed at the sight before us. A big dark cloud hung over the back pasture-with our bull suspended up-side-down in the middle of it! The lightning had hit him as he stood in the middle of the cattle. When he finally hit the ground, the cattle all clustered around and sniffed, but not one would touch him. He was as stiff as a board and all of his hair was burned off. He laid in a big hole in the ground that the lightning had burned. Dad, of course, was upset that his bull had been killed. Ironically, Dad was in town when it happened because he was shipping some of his cattle to market that morning. At the last minute he had decided not to sell the bull. (Helen)

My Mother, Edith Preston (she was never given a middle name), told me about the "good old days" on the farms where she had lived for 40 years. She could keep you entertained for hours just telling stories about the animals. They are a wonderful assortment of warm, sad, and humorous stories. How I wish she was still alive to tell me more of them. But she and Daddy, William Franklin Preston (who went by the name of Frank), died when I was in my early twenties back in the early 1960'5. (Helen)

It was quite common to have 20 cats living in the barn. Mom never allowed animals in the house. One day we could hear some newborn kittens but we couldn't find them. Dad insisted they must be under the house. He gallantly crawled under to look for them. I thought he was pretty great to crawl on his stomach in the dirt to look for the babies! As it turned out, the mother cat had snuck her four newborn kittens in through a propped-open screen door and put them back of the card tables in the closet. Of course, Mom insisted that the kittens be moved to the barn. (Helen)

We had a yellow tomcat and he was so mean. Mother would be down on her hands and knees weeding and he would nm and jump on her back. Dad said enough. One Sunday evening we put him in a gunny sack, put him in the trunk, and drove him way on the other side of Buda and let him go. One week to the day, here on the back porch sat the cat. Very thin and bedraggled but very much alive. Dad and Charles castrated him and he turned into a very gentle and loving cat. Dad would laugh at him. Dad would be getting corn for the pigs and here would be the cat right beside him hoping Dad would find a nest of mice. (Elaine)

Animals are just like people in respect to their happy and their tragic moments. I'll never forget the summer day we came home and found one of our yellow cats laying beside the back door with both hind paws cut off. Dad had been mowing hay and we suspect the cat had gotten in the way of the mower. With some medicine from the veterinarian. she was soon walking as though it had never happened. But until it was healed, the sound of her leg bones scraping on the sidewalk as she drug along almost made you sick. (Helen)

Sometimes animals are born with strange and horrible defects. We saw that a lot with the baby chickens Mom bought every Spring. They could be born with crippled feet. One was just perfect in every way except that it had no eyes. Another time one was born without a beak. Still another was born with his head facing backwards. (Helen)

Every Spring Mom would go to the Wyanet Hatchery and buy baby chickens. They had to be kept warm because they only had fuzz and not feathers. Mom would lay papers on the kitchen floor near the stove. Then she would use the leaves from the dining room table to make a pen for them in case one escaped. Inside the pen she placed the boxes of chickens. By laying coats over the top of the boxes, the baby chicks stayed nice and warm. (Elaine)

The baby pigs were often born on cold windy Spring nights. If the mama pig had a large litter, the small ones many times were pushed aside by the larger ones. When Daddy would find them, they would be cold and hungry .He would gather them up in an old coat and bring them to the house and they would be placed on the oven door of the old cook stove to warm up. It wouldn't take long and they would be starting to stir around and grunting. Mother would laugh as she reminisced about trying to feed the poor little things with a bottle-a slow and slippery job! She soon learned, though, that all she had to do was put a saucer of milk on the floor and direct their snouts. They were hungry and they ate. They were so cute, pink, and soft. Yes, even baby pigs are cute. (Elaine and Helen)

One morning Dad commented he was going to go and kill a baby pig because he had scurvy and worms. Mom said, "Let me see if l can raise him." She put lye water in his food and every wash day he got a good soaping with the hot, soapy wash water. He was so mad! He would run around the house and stop by us and shake so that water would fly all over us. Then around the house he would go again. He would do this 3 or 4 times. We named him Porky and all we would have to do was call, "Here Porky" and he would come grunting, eager for the attention. Even our cousins thought he was great and would insist on seeing him when they came to the farm. (Elaine)

We would often have a calf in the house. It would be cold and many times after a good rub down it would be returned to the barn. But once in a while a calf would have to spend the night in the dining room in a pen made out of chairs. By morning he would be up and about, so to the barn he would go. (Elaine)

Squirrels are smart little animals-or at least we thought ours were. Messy but smart! We had one that would bring ears of corn up from the corn crib and leave them under his tree. And then when Fall would come, he would slip the corn between the wire and the crossbars of the fence. When it stormed or the weather was bad, he would draw on his reserve. (Helen)

Squirrels make wonderful mothers. We witnessed this first hand one day. A mother squirrel was chasing down our big maple tree after her baby. They both jumped for the feeding tray but the baby missed and hit the ground. Mom heard the mother squirrel chattering and ran out just in time to see a cat grab the baby squirrels' neck. Mom grabbed the cat and squeezed its neck until it let go. But the minute the baby was free, it ran halfway up Mom's leg making gashes as it went. Of course it soon discovered she wasn't a tree, jumped down, and ran safely to its mother. As Mom looked back, she had to smile through her tears of pain. For there on the feeding table was the mother squirrel with her baby cradled in her front paws. She was crooning and rocking it just like a human mother would. (Elaine)

That reminds me of some stories that are told about Elaine. We love to tease her about them. It seems that one day our family was riding in a car with some friends. They decided to stop somewhere for "eats and drinks." In asking what the friends preferred, they said "hamburgers or hot dogs." Elaine was only about two years old. When they bought and handed her a hot dog, she said, "Oh, it's not a hot dog! It's just a wiener." -Another time they were going to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and must have mentioned the name of the city several times. When they arrived, a disappointed little voice from the back seat said, "But, I don't see any rabbits!!!" --One last cute story. Mom said, "Oh, be quiet or I'll go right up in smoke!" Everything was quiet for a minute and then Elaine said, "Say, you stay down here!" (Helen)

One time, and only one time, my Dad bought me 12 little downy ducks to raise. They had a little house inside their fence. But they didn't seem to understand what it was for. I remember one torrential down- pour that Spring. The ducks had somehow gotten out of their fence. And we got drenched chasing them all over the barn yard before we got them all in their shelter. I loved those ducks. It never occurred to me that they would be killed for the freezer like our chickens. It was a sad day when Mom cooked one of my ducks. I couldn't eat it. (Helen)

Mom used to say that farms are noisy. Even the mice kept her awake. (Helen)

Dad rented the farm that I grew up on. The only way to get water was to go out with a bucket and pump it. Mom used a wringer washing machine and two tubs to rinse the clothes. Even in the winter she hung all of the clothes outside. When it was below freezing the clothes came in the house stiff as boards. It was a funny sight to see bed sheets, towels, everything standing on chairs around the coal stove until they dried. It sure added moisture to the room And the wonderful fresh smell is something I'll never forget.

There was a pair of peach trees in the barnyard that had never grown one peach. A visitor told my Dad that they needed iron and to pound some nails in the trunks. It seemed like a silly thing to do but what did we have to lose. The next year we had beautiful peaches from those trees. (Helen)

Every Spring Dad would plow up our large vegetable garden. Much of it was planted with potatoes. Then there were beans, peas, radishes, onions, etc. which Mom would can or freeze at harvest time. Meanwhile it was my job to keep it all weeded. And when I was done with that garden. it was time to weed Mom's flower garden. I grumbled and complained because I would have much rather been curled up in a chair with a good book. But I'm glad that I was taught the discipline of work.. (Helen)

There was 4 years age difference between my brother Charles and my sister Barbara. Also 4 years between Barbara and Elaine. Mom and Dad thought their family was complete but then 12 years later they got a surprise: me. But Mom said it had been a blessing because it had kept her young. In those days, there were Parent Teacher Association (PT A) Meetings and Mom was faithful about attending. Elaine graduated from High School in June and I started First Grade in September. Mom never had a break from PT A. Charles was 20 years old when Mom was expecting me. He was embarrassed that his Mother was going to have a baby. Not one person told l2-year-old Elaine until one day when she exclaimed, "Mother, your stomach!" (Helen)

Since my siblings were so much older and I didn't have anyone to play with, my friends were the cats. Also, I entertained myself by playing with worms and grasshoppers. But I was, and still am, scared to death of spiders and snakes. Once when we had a front yard full of relatives on a Sunday afternoon, I took off my shoes. I almost stepped on a garter snake and everyone laughed except me. To this day, I wear shoes outside. (Helen)

When I was 6 years old, Mom said, "BaIbara and Elaine didn't continue with piano lessons. You are going to learn to play the piano." It's a good thing I enjoyed the piano and had a little talent. Mom paid for lessons with Hattie Taylor until I was in High School. Come to think of it, maybe I should be mad at Barbara and Elaine. (Helen)

Mom was not one to scold or spank me (unless I've blocked out those memories). But one day I sassed her and that is one thing she did not tolerate. She started spanking me and Elaine started to cry .It seemed to me that Elaine's crying was making Mom even madder. I was getting upset with Elaine and thought, "If she would shut up, maybe Mom would quit spanking me!" (Helen)

When Charles was just a couple of years old, he loved to run off into the fields. Mom had spent the summer chasing after him. One day he ran off and Mom could tell he was in the wheat in front of the house because she could see the wave as he walked through it. She reached down and picked up a stick as she took out after him. When she reached him, she lightly spanked the back of his bare legs with the stick in the hopes that maybe this would cure him of this dangerous game. Charles, of course, was crying. As he went up the steps to go into the house, my mother saw the back of his legs and she started to cry. She hadn't realized that the stick she had picked up was a willow stick and every little touch had raised a welt. But guess what? He didn't run away anymore. (Helen)

Charles was about 6 years old and Barbara was 2 years old when Charles said, "Mommy, I want to marry Barbara. " (Elaine)

There was a goat that our closest neighbor owned. Uncle Bert lived with my family for a period of time and as a joke he gave some chewing tobacco to the goat. The goat loved it! They couldn't keep that goat fenced in. He would always find a way to come to our house for the tobacco. The trouble was that he also had a taste for the clothes on the clothesline. Poor Mom would get so upset. Then one day the goat pinned her against the side of the house. The goat was shipped to Chicago (Helen)

Uncle Bert had a "colorful" language of 4-letter words. One day little Charles was running around the yard chanting, "God damn it, go to hell." I wonder where he learned that? (Helen)

In July it would be time to cut the oats and place them in shocks to dry. A shock was made by placing four bundles standing on end against each other and one across the top. I can't recall why Dad was laid up but he couldn't run the binder so Bobbie drove the tractor and I rode the binder. We got the oats done and we even put them in shocks. Gosh, the oat stubble was hard on the ankles. The neighbors, 16 of them I believe, had an old engine, Iron Horse, and a separator. They had to hire 2 engineers to operate them and they would travel to each of these eight farms to thresh the oats. Charles always pitched the oat bundles into the separator. Dad would run the water wagon. And all those men had to be fed. In July it was hot to have that old cook stove going starting in early morning. Pies had to be made, meat roasted, and potatoes boiled. Being young my job was to churn the butter on the front porch in a pan of cold water. But Bobbie had to help Mom inside. The Roberts and the Hand girls thought it was fun to come out and help wait on tables. (Elaine)

It is a wonder we didn't have trouble with migrants since we lived close to the Rock Island railroad track. One time we were all sitting around the table reading the paper and doing our lessons when the latch on the back door clicked. The door opened a little and then closed again. I remember Dad looking around the table and saw everyone was still there. (Elaine)

The sound of Fall was waking in the morning to the sounds of Dad yelling to the horses, "Get up" and then, "Whoa." Also the steady banging of corn hitting the back boards. It must have been overwhelming knowing you had all of the corn to pick by hand. (Elaine)

Charles knew early on that he didn't want to be a farmer but he knew he couldn't leave Dad to farm with the old horses. Charles was working at Breisers Farm Implement in Sheffield and had heard of a F-12 Tractor for sale. He took Dad to see it and they bought it. But Dad just knew it would pack the ground down and it wouldn't plow as deep as the horses could. Well it took one pass down the field and he was amazed at what little time it took and what a good job it did. As for the horses, Belle (who was blind) and Brownie, they were kept for small jobs. Eventually, though, Dad did sell them because it was too costly to keep them. (Elaine)

Dad had to carry the water from the tank across the barnyard over to the hog house. He got smart and put a barrel on skids and used the tractor to haul the water. (Elaine)

One year the corn in one field was flooded out so Daddy planted some watermelon seeds. We had more watermelons than we knew what to do with. I guess that was the first time I had my fill of watermelon. (Elaine)

Mother had put me, as an infant, in the front yard in a buggy. She saw Barbara ( 4 years old) go up and give me a slap. It must have been hard for Barbara to accept a baby in the house. (Elaine)

Mom was very embarrassed one day when she had a house full of company. She was going to add some leaves to our dining room table. When they pulled the two halves apart, a pile of dry bread crusts came tumbling out from under the table. As a little boy, Charles would crawl under the table to eat his bread. He ate what he wanted and stuffed the crusts on a board up underneath the table. (Elaine)

One time Mom asked Elaine to set the table which she did not want to do. Mom started chasing Elaine around the table and said, "Some day you will know what it is to be tired." After raising 4 children, Elaine does understand now. (Elaine)

Mom had a rooster that chased after Elaine one day (Mom chased her and now a rooster did. Hm-m!) Elaine was yelling as she ran. Dad thought he would scare the rooster so he picked up a brick and tried to throw it close to the rooster. To everyone's surprise, the brick hit the rooster in the head and killed him. Can you guess what Mom served for supper that night? That's right! Chicken and noodles. (Elaine)

Kids have always suffered from peer pressure. Barbara and Elaine did not want to be teased by the other kids at school. Mom would make them wear long brown stockings. They walked the quarter of a mile down the lane to the road where the bus picked them up. Before the bus came they had rolled those stockings down to their ankles. Mom never knew about it until she was told years later. (Elaine)

One of the jobs for the Preston children was to collect the eggs that the hens had laid out in the henhouse. If the hens were out scratching, eating, or perched somewhere, then it was easy. But if they were still on the nest, you had a problem. Elaine was good at using a corn cob to hold back the hens head so she wouldn't get pecked. One day she was practicing this art on an old hen named "Biddie." With one hand she used the corn cob. With the other one she reached under the hen. She felt something warm and fuzzy and she jumped away. She was afraid it was a snake. But as she thought about it, she knew it had to be some other kind of animal since it was fuzzy .She reached under again and found that Biddie was sitting over some baby kittens. Now that is a good mother! (Elaine)

When I was 12 years old Mom taught me how to drive our stick-shift car. She took us out in the middle of a field to teach me. When Dad found out, he was very upset. But he liked it when I drove myself to play practice in town all through high school. (Helen)

Physical discipline was rare. But we always knew that our parents were in charge. I don't remember what the infraction was but Charles got a spanking across Mom's knee once. What made it memorable was the fact that he was probably a Senior in High School. And he was 6' tall and Mom was about 5-1/2' tall. Maybe it was that strong German personality making itself known. (Elaine)

Charles (nicknamed Chuck) was in the Air Force. When he was to get his "Wings", Mom and Dad couldn't leave the farm because it was harvest time. But Bobbie and I boarded a Burlington Bus to Pampa, Texas, for a couple of days and witnessed the big event. To our surprise, Charles also married his girl friend on the same day that he got his Wings. (Elaine)

Back at the farm, whenever an airplane went overhead, I would run out to see if it was Chuck. One day at about 4 o'clock in the afternoon a very loud airplane came in from the East, heading to the West. Mom, Dad, and I ran outside. We knew without a doubt that it was Charles piloting that huge B24. It was so loud because the plane was so low that it was barely above the tree tops. Mom kept yelling (as though he could hear her), "Be careful of the wires." He flew off, turned around, and buzzed a couple more passes over the farm house. Then he flew off to land at Des Moines, Iowa. He phoned and said, "Dad, did you ever get the cows rounded up? They were so scared, I saw them running in all directions." Since this family loved and missed Charles so much, buzzing the farm was the best present he could ever have given us. (Elaine)

Saturday was the day that Mom did a thorough cleaning of the whole house. Everything was cleaned, everyone helped. My job as a little girl was to fill the kerosene lamps, trim the wicks, wash the chimneys, and wash the windows of the house. (Elaine)

On Saturday evenings, Dad, Mom, and I would load into the car the crates of eggs we had collected and washed during the week. It was time to sell the eggs and buy our groceries. Anderson's Store had all the food behind the counter where they stood and wrote down your order. While they piled the staples into boxes, Mom and I would browse over the rest of the store at their bolts of fabric, thread, dishes, clothes, candy, etc. Dad worked hard on the farm all week so he looked forward to playing cards with the men next door at the Pool Hall. This meant that Mom and I had to wait a couple of hours until Dad was ready. We would sit on the little stools which had no backs and turn around and around. If it was a hot summer night, the fan above us would be whirling around. And we think ceiling fans are something new .Wrong! (Helen)

Mother's diversion was fancy work and Dad's was playing cards. He knew every card that had been played. The men would play poker games all Christmas afternoon. What fun they had! (Elaine)

The farm was directly East of Sheffield and seemed to be in the path of many storms. There was one storm that came up during chore time. Helen Kay was in her high chair in the dining room. The double doors to the living room were closed. The wind came up with a vengeance and blew the doors open with a roar. Later we found glass ground right into the piano stool. We looked out in the barn yard and saw the wind blowing the hayrack across the yard. Helen Kay was screaming and the wind was blowing. All at once, we wondered where Dad was. Mom and Barbara made their way to the barn and found Dad calmly milking. He looked up and said, "Hi." He didn't know about the storm. Poor Helen Kay. Every time the wind would blow and a have a certain pitch, Helen would cry. (Elaine)

The little brick Methodist Church in Sheffield was our second home. Mom taught Sunday School, was Sunday School Superintendent, directed Christmas Programs, and planned church suppers to raise money for the church. I think every person in Sheffield would come to those delicious dinners. My job was cutting pies and doing dishes. Actually, it was a lot of fun in that little kitchen even though I was the only child or teenager with women around Mom's age. In the sanctuary, I was enthralled with the beautiful stained glass windows when the sun would shine through them. When I was 11, the church bought their first organ. Mom knew I was dying to try it and she told Mabel Peterson who had studied organ at Augustana College. For my 12th birthday, Miss Peterson gave me a card with a promise written in it. She said that for my 12th birthday she would give me 12 free organ lessons. It was such fun and I would practice every chance I got. I was given the opportunity to play for the Christmas Programs and to fill in when Verda Madsen was gone on Sunday mornings. As for the 12 lessons, we lost count. I'm sure it was twice that many. (Helen)

Father was not a religious man but he did go to a faith healer in a neighboring town one time. Dad had some kind of a skin disease on his leg and no matter what the doctor prescribed. it just kept spreading. Since he was getting desperate, he went to the faith healer. They sat facing each other and the man laid his hands on Dad's knees. He bent his head for a few minutes and then told Dad to go home. In a matter of days the skin disease had completely disappeared! After such a miracle from God, we had hoped Dad would start going to church. But he wasn't interested. (Helen)

Faith in God was a private thing for Mom. She didn't talk about it a lot but she read her Bible and prayed and I knew her faith was deep. When her brother Howard's wife, Leona, was addicted on drugs and expecting a baby she came to live with us. Elton was born with his mother's addiction. Then when he was 9 months old, every inch of his little body was covered with boils. His screams of pain were growing weaker by the hour until he was almost too weak to whimper. And he was too weak to eat. The country doctor came out one evening and said he would be back the next day. Elton's wrinkled, withered skin was already turning blue and he was getting stiff and cold. After the doctor left, Mom picked up Elton. held him close to her body, and paced the floor. She prayed more earnestly than she ever had before. For two hours she kept up this vigil before she accidentally touched his feet and found they were getting warm. The next morning the doctor came on his regular rounds. He was just amazed to see little Elton alive and said that it was a miracle. (Helen)

Aunt Leona died young leaving Uncle Howard with three children of about high school age. Aunt Leona's family was from Mineral, Illinois, and they took the children. They wrote Mother one day and asked if she would take the two boys and they would keep the girl. Mother was furious that they wanted to split up the kids. She contacted Uncle Howard and told him she would take all three children. That winter there were six of us kids. (Elaine)

Grandmother Phillips was dying of tuberculosis but she kept right on working. She met everyone's arguments by saying, "I have faith that God will heal me. And it is not enough just to say you have faith, you have to act like it." She was such a good, humble soul that even her oldest daughter (Edith) did not know of all her good works until after she had died. Then many came and told Mother how Grandma had baked a pie or cake and taken it to someone in need. And she did that after her long day of doing washing and ironings for a living and for her big family. And she herself was so terribly poor! (Elaine)

Mom followed in her Mother's footsteps. At her funeral there were people telling me of all the good things she had done for them. (Helen)

We don't know anything about Stillman Preston, our Great Grandfather, except that he came from New York. --Grandpa Russell Preston, Dad's father, farmed west of Sheffield. Aunt Gene said every Sunday they would go to church. Grandpa would let Grandma and the kids ride in the surrey and he would walk to church, inviting others along the way to join them. (Elaine)

Mom and Dad had moved to Moline where Charles was born. They lived in an apartment house where the LeClaire Hotel now stands. Dad worked in the wagon works but didn't like the inside work and having someone to tell him what to do. They farmed in West Bureau where Bobbie (Barbara) was born. Then they moved to Sheffield and farmed for Harry Barton. From there they farmed the Gebeck place for at least 30 years. It was hard work, just after the Depression. There was no running water, no inside plumbing. No electricity. In the dining room was a round coal stove to heat the whole house. When you stood in front of the stove, you were warm on one side but cold on the other side. The windows would be frosted over because we didn't have storm windows. In the kitchen was an old cookstove. It always amazed me how Mom could bake a cake in a stove with no thermostat. (Elaine)

Going to bed in a cold bedroom upstairs was not pleasant. Mom would heat up bricks and put in the bed. And she would pile blankets and comforters on us until we could hardly move under the weight. (Elaine)

We didn't have inside plumbing so, of course, we had the old outhouse. The worst part was having to go out when it was raining or freezing. How many times Charles would sneak out and throw a walnut at the outhouse and nearly scare you to death. (Elaine)

Bobbie loved to be inside but I loved the out-of-doors. So I spent a lot of time playing with the cats and the other animals. Dad always said I would make a pet out of all the animals. But I had just learned that all animals respond to gentleness, patience, and love. (Elaine)

The summers were hot, the winters were cold and grueling. It seems we were either mudded in or snowed in. One winter the snow drifts were so high, it looked like we were driving through a tunnel. I can remember walking on top of the fence posts because the snow was so high. (Elaine)

In the winter, on Friday nights, the neighbors would take turns hosting an evening of playing 500 cards. The Gebeck's and Eggimann's were always there. (Elaine)

Dad wasn't a hunter. Perhaps he would kill a rabbit once during the winter. (Elaine)

Being a farmer, Dad had to be home to do chores. There was no time for vacations. I believe there was only twice Mom and Dad left the farm for more than a day. One time Dad had someone to do the chores. He must have been in a hurry because he didn't secure the milk cans in the tank. When we got home the water was full of sour milk, the goldfish were all dead, and the cows were thirsty because of no fresh water. I don't believe the folks went on a vacation after that. (Elaine)

It's a good thing Dad was there the day the hog house caught on fire. Evidently a sow had rubbed against the heater, tipped it over, and the straw caught fire. We don't remember how Dad got the fire out but he probably stamped it out with his shoes. (Elaine)

The best part of the day was in the evening, just getting dark. The lightning bugs would be out and one could hear the frogs from the slue. Dad would sit on the porch. his back against the post, and Mom in the swing, gently swinging. The end of a busy day. (Elaine)

Charles, being the oldest and, of course, idolized by his sisters, delighted in giving us knuckle jabs on our anns or untieing our apron strings. Of course, we would yell and Mother would just laugh. We would have been disappointed if he hadn't done these things. (Elaine)

At Christmas time Mom would make up pans of fudge and butterscotch candy. She kept them in the livingroom where it was cold. Every evening she would bring out the candy and we could have a piece. What a treat. I can remember the huge Christmas tree that stood in the gym at school, so tall it reached the ceiling. On the last day of school before Christmas break the firemen would come to the school, the sirens blaring. They brought a bag of candy. I didn't care for the hard candy but I loved the soft vanilla candies. They also gave each child an orange. This was a big treat because our family couldn't afford to buy oranges. (Elaine)

Mother did a lot of sewing and so I would learn from just watching. She had also taught Bobbie and I how to knit and crochet. Mother was always working on something such as crocheting a tablecloth, quilting, or making an apron. She would have the quilting frames set up in the living room and on days when it wasn't too cold, she would wrap up her legs and quilt for an hour or so or until she got so cold she would have to quit. I can still see Mother sitting by the table at night crocheting by a kerosene lamp. (Elaine)

Ironing clothes was done with flat irons. They were set on the coal cook stove to heat them up. When they were hot, you attached the walnut handle and started to iron. You would iron with it until it got cool and then you would go exchange it for another one. We had 3 or 4 of them that we rotated. It was a big job since Mom ironed sheets, dishtowels, handkerchiefs, and all our clothes. All three of us girls learned how to iron. (Elaine)

We didn't get electricity in our rented house until the Fall of 1946. When I came home from my job in Moline for the weekend, the dining room seemed much too bright. (Elaine)

Actually, Mom loved to do an kinds of sewing and crafts. She did embroidery, crocheting, knitting, tatting, and made many of our clothes. When I was a little girl, we would pick out the feed sacks that had the material we wanted to make a dress or skirt. Then she learned how to etch aluminum serving trays with acid to make beautiful pictures on them. Also, she did leatherwork. making billfolds and key cases which she stamped with designs and laced the edges. She never seemed to run out of projects that she wanted to do. (Helen)

Of course, growing a large garden and canning was a large part of our summer work. After getting the vegetables ready and in jars, they would have to boil for four hours. We may have been a little poor but we were well fed. (Elaine)

Except for chicken, we never knew what it was like to have fresh meat. In the Fall Dad would butcher a hog and the meat would be fried and placed in fruit jars to preserve it. Dad would take the hams and cure them in the basement. The ribs would be cooked all day in that old cook stove. How wonderful they were. Mother would cut the fat from the pig into 1" cubes and boil them on the stove. The cooked down fat would be placed in crocks in the basement to be used later for pie crust, fried potatoes, and homemade donuts. (Elaine)

Our faith, our Heavenly Father, and the work in the church helped bring us through many rough times. One summer there was a storm with high winds and lots of thunder and lightning. We all said the Twenty-Third Psalm. There was a calmness and peace in that room. We didn't want to speak for fear of breaking the spell. Another time when I was living in Moline, I had gotten off the bus and had to walk four blocks in the dark. The streets were not lighted very well and this little farm girl was a little scared. But I started to say the Twenty- Third Psalm and again the calmness took away my fears and the peace carried me home. (Elaine)

Well, now the old farm house and the barn are empty. The big maple tree in the front yard that held the swings is gone. Yes, and even my dear parents are gone. But my love of the animals and the joy of sewing and canning has been with me all my life. I am thankful for my childhood memories of the farm. (Elaine)

At times we were cold. And we were poor and didn't have all we thought we needed. But we always had plenty to eat. And we had lots of love and we had each other. Who could ask for more? (Elaine)

Mother loved flowers.  Around the front yard were lilies, peonies, and many I canít remember names for.  Then each Spring she planted seeds in a flower garden:  gladiolas, asters, bachelor buttons, sweet peas, and many more.  On Sunday mornings she would grab scissors and go out to cut the best flowers she could find.  It was quite a picture to see her in her good dress and shoes cutting an armload of flowers.  Then she would go arrange the flowers in one of her many vases to take to the church altar.  She could have been a florist with the gladiolas fanned out in the back and then the other flowers beautifully arranged in front of them.  It was one of her many ways of serving God.  (Helen)

One time a friend of Momís said she was going to throw out her Christmas cactus.  She had had it for years and it had never bloomed.  Mom asked if she could have it.  She always knew how much light or water each of her house plants needed.  Of course, that next Christmas the Christmas cactus was beautiful with red flowers.  (Helen)

Along one side of the vegetable garden there were a couple long rows of red raspberry bushes.  Every other day we would put on long sleeves to protect our arms from scratches and go out to pick raspberries.  They were big and plump and we couldnít resist eating some of them as we worked.  It always brings back a memory of something humorous that happened.  Mom believed that women should only wear dresses and never pants.  But for some reason she had acquired a pair of bright red pedal pushers.  We were busy in the raspberry patch when a car pulled up and out stepped our Pastor.  Momís face was as red as her pants.  (Helen)

Cutting asparagus was fun.  Shucking peas was boring but it didnít take very long with two of us doing it.  But one year a man in town told Mom that his cherry trees were loaded and she could have all the cherries she could pick.  We had all of our buckets and pans full of cherries.  Picking them was fun.  But then we spent hours pulling the pit out of each and every one of them.  The juice was running off our elbows.  We never did that again.  But in the end it was worth it.  Those cherry pies were delicious.  (Helen)

My parents always seemed old to me.  When I was born, Mom was 42 and Dad was 47.  I had the life of an only child except when Elaine would come home weekends from her job in Moline.  Even with a 12 year age difference, we would quarrel.  (Helen)

Mom, Dad, and I loved to play cards.  Before we got electricity when I was six years old, the three of us would sit and play cards to the light of the kerosene lamp.  Dad watched carefully what was laid down and picked up.  Mom and I would be chattering away and not paying such close attention.  Dad took his cards seriously and would get very upset with us.  No wonder he liked going into the Pool Hall on Saturday nights to play cards with his friends.  (Helen)

Mom and Dad had never gone to high school but they were smart.  Dad would grow good crops even when the landlord and our other neighbors had failures.  He had an instinct about when to plant and when to harvest.  As a freshman in high school, I took Algebra.  Simple math is fun.  And I really liked Algebra.  But I donít have a logical mind for story problems.  One night I was struggling with a problem.  Dad looked at it and knew the answer right away.  How he did that I have no idea.  But he couldnít explain the steps to arrive at the answer.  Like a dummy I put down the answer and handed in the paper.  I will never forget Mr. Schwinn yelling at me to explain how I got the right answer without showing the steps to get it.  I was sitting in the back row of the room with a red face.  But I am glad for that experience because on that day I learned how intelligent my father was.  (Helen)

Riding the bus to and from school made it a long day.  If I was the very first one on the bus, then it took at least an hour to get to school.  But then I was the first one off of the bus that night.  In the winter it was a cold ride. The next week the rotation would change. (Helen)

Being an introvert, I always sat in the back of the classrooms.  But my high school English teacher cracked me up with his dry sense of humor.  When he had tryouts after school for the freshman play, I got on the bus and went home.  The next day he took me in an empty room and had me read for him.  I was given one of the lead roles.  So I was in a play every year of high school.  It helped me overcome some of my shyness. (Helen)

I was a skinny kid and bored because I had no children to play with.  My parents looked for ways to build my muscles and entertain me.  The roller skates that I clamped on the bottom of my shoes didnít work too well on the narrow short sidewalk with grooves.  It seemed that my knees were always scraped up all summer.  Then my parents bought me a large tricycle.   It would have worked well on cement but the only place I could use it was on the crushed rock roadway in our barnyard.  It was very, very hard to pedal.  But it really developed my leg muscles. (Helen)

When I was 12 years old, Mom took me out in a harvested cornfield to teach me how to drive the car.  That old Ford sedan had a stick shift.  It took some practice but I mastered it.  When Dad found out that Mom had taught me, he was mad.  But he found it very handy when he had to open and close the two big gates at each end of our lane.  Dad didnít have to keep getting back into the car to drive through and then get out again to close the gate.  And Dad thought it was great that he didnít have to stop working to take me to play practices for four years.  The humorous part of the story is that I didnít have a license yet as a freshman.  I would wave to the town policeman of this little town of 1,000.  He would wave back.  He must have guessed I wasnít old enough to have a license because I was hardly tall enough  to see over the steering wheel. (Helen)