FAMILY HISTORY & CHILDHOOD
What is your full name and why were you named it? Were you named after somebody else? My mom named me Winnie Belle Whiton after a friend of hers.
What were your parents names, birthdates and birthplaces? My mother's name was Amanda Viola Parr Whiton and I don't know exactly where she was born. I know that they lived somewhere in Illinois. My Dad's name was Charles Leaman Whiton and he was the son of Rufus Whiton.
Where were you born and when? I was born near Mineral Ridge, Iowa (in Boones County near Des Moines) on June 20, 1903, the year that the Wright Brothers flew the first airplane. A lot of important things happened at that time.
How many sisters and brothers did you have? I had five sisters and three brothers. I was next to the youngest, so most of them were away from home when I was a child. Julia was 10 years older than I was and Jennie (half sister) was about 17 years older and she left home when she was 15. Julia was a little older, but I can't remember them being at home.
What were their names and birthdates? Eva Jane (Jennie) Frost, 1886 (half sister); Edward Rufus, Nov. 14, 1891 (died Apr. 18, 1915); Julia May, Jan 25, 1893 (died in 1952); Ethel Grace, Aug. 14, 1894 (disappeared); Leaman (Lee) Charles, Mar. 21, 1894 (died Dec. 6, 1966); Bessie Mable (Mable), May 6, 1900 (died 1995); Arthur Parr, Sept. 28, 1901 (died Nov. 15, 1908); Winnie Belle, June 20, 1903; Altha Violet, Apr. 3, 1907
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What kind of relationship did you have with them? I had a good relationship with all of them, I guess. I can't remember having any problems with them.
What do you remember about your grandparents? Who were they?
Did they live near you? Did you spend much time with them?
I didn't know any of my grandparents. They didn't live near us.
What stories were you told about the lives of your mother and grandmothers? Well, mother told me about when she was a girl. She only went to school through the fourth grade. But, she would have to stay out part of the time. They had a cultivator that was pulled by horses, and she would ride on there and handle the shovels while my father would walk behind, or rather my grandfather would walk behind and drive the horses. She would go out there and handle the shovels and things. She stayed home from school to do that. I can't remember too many other things she told about. Both my father and mother had been married before and she had a girl (Jennie) who was about five years old. When they first got married, they traveled from Illinois across the Rocky Mountains with a team of horses and a wagon, a covered wagon. She and my oldest sister walked behind and picked up a lot of stones. When it got hard pulling for the horses my mother said my father threw them (the rocks) all out of the wagon because it was too heavy for the horses to pull 'em up the mountain! I don't know where they went. They didn't go to California, so they must have gone back again to Illinois.
Was that before you were born? Oh yes. Many, many years before. I just remember those things that she told me.
Where did you live as a child? Describe the house and the surroundings. We lived on a farm in Iowa. It was beautiful during the summer when there was lots of nice green grass and trees. And then in the winter time, of course, there'd be lots and lots of snow. Sometimes we'd get snowed in for a long time and wouldn't see many other people except our own family. There were none of them that you'd call modern. We didn't have running water or electricity or anything like that. We had to carry all of our water in. We had a coal woodstove to heat with. We also cooked on a stove with wood. When we lived on the farm, why we had, of course, a barn and things like that out there. But we moved into town when I was about ten. And then I could walk to the store very easily and we had a school with four different rooms in it, grade school and high school, and we had things a little more modern. But our house still was not modern. We had to carry all of our water in and out. It was just an ordinary wood house with wall-papered walls and was heated with wood and coal. There were no modern conveniences whatsoever.
Where was the city where you had the most friends? What were they like? Well, I wasn't near a city, there were small towns. Most of my friends were in the country right close to us. We even went to Sunday School in our schoolhouse, so we didn't get out of our area very much. Mostly there were farm friends.
Do you remember how old you were when you moved into Forest City? Probably about eleven years old. We moved into the first place until my Mother bought the other place. That was where my folks were living when they died. The driveway was steep and very hard to get down, especially in the winter time. When my parents died, the place was on fire. There was a snow bank in he alleyway and they couldn't get the people down there to put the fire out. The neighbor boy was able to go down and get my mother out of the house, but she was so badly burned that her flesh was coming off her arms and everything else. My father died ten days later.
Your father was gone a lot? My father would go away to work when we weren't living on the farm ourselves. He would be gone for maybe one or two years. It was before that because I was very small. My mother said that once I got a hold of a little potato and I said "What's this?" When they said "potato" I thought they said "papa". So I evidently got the two words mixed up and I took that little potato and ran around with it and told everyone "This is my papa!"
My dad liked to move from place to place. Before I was born they moved from Iowa to Kansas, back to Iowa, then to Missouri, then back to Iowa again. They started up in Illinois.
What is the story of your father giving your brother away? Well, he took Lee with him one time when he went to work and when he came back he didn't have him with him. Mom asked him, "Where's Lee?" and Dad said "Oh. I gave him to the man that I was working for (Lou). Mom said, "Well, that won't last long!" She got him back right away. When he came back, he was still in grade school, but he didn't go to school much after that.
Can you tell us about your sister, Ethel, who disappeared? She had simply been away from home quite a bit. She just went away and she just didn't write to us. She moved from place to place and we just lost track of her. The only other time we heard from her was just about the time my mother died. They called my sister Altha and told her that they had a note from her as she was trying to know something about her birth. But we could never trace her from that.
What is your first memory? The first I had were from when we were living in Missouri. We moved there when I was just a little bit of a girl because Altha was born there. I can just faintly remember walking across a little bridge and a little creek there. My youngest brother (Arthur) died there. He'd been ill all of his life and he's buried down there.
What are the happiest memories of your childhood? Well, I guess those are the happy things I did. We didn't go very much. I can't have a car or anything, we just went by horse and buggy when we went. We did move to Missouri when I was two or three years old, I guess. We lived there for a few years then we come back up to Thompson, Iowa. When we moved back up to Iowa, I was seven or eight. Anyways, my mother and us younger children rode in a passenger train. But they put all the livestock and the horses and cows and the machinery and furniture in the freight car. The men rode in there to watch the livestock. One of the horses (or a mule) kicked a hole in the kitchen cabinet. I remember because we always said we couldn't use that flour drawer anymore because the mule kicked a hole in it. Important things like that I remember (LAUGHS). When we got to Thompson, Iowa we stayed in a hotel until we got moved into the farm which was four miles outside of town.After Thompson, we moved to Leland, Iowa. There were two bedrooms upstairs and a bedroom, living room and kitchen downstairs. The guy that lived right in front of us ran the creamery and the guy behind us was a mail carrier. At that time there weren't very many cars around. I was about ten years old and had never ridden in one. The mail carrier had a son about our age that we played with. One Sunday, a man came from Forest City (about six miles away), and he took the Jasperson boy for a ride and we got to go along. That was my first, exciting ride in a car.
The saddest memory of your childhood? The saddest I can think of is when my brother died when he was twenty three and I was probably about eleven. He had pneumonia and I had to help my mother watch him. She was watching him at home and I would sit with him sometimes at night when she had to have some rest. That was kind of a sad time for me.
How did your parents punish you? Did they spank you? Who was most strict? I only remember once. My mom had sent me to the store to get a sack of flour. On the way home I somehow lost the coin purse that probably had $3 or $4 in it. At that time it was a lot of money. When I got home I got a lickin from my mom. She was really mad! Then in the newspaper the next day, somebody ran a little ad that said that they had found the money and they returned it to my mom. So that was the time I got a lickin for nothin! My Dad would often spank the other kids, but I don't think he ever bothered me much.
Who were your very best friends when you were growing up? Several of the girls in my school. One's name was LaVonne, who I named my first daughter after. That was when I was just in first grade. And then there was Mable and May and a few others. You went with the people that were in your neighborhood, that's all, because you didn't get very far from home. Most of them were very nice, though.
About how much did you travel with your family in a year and where did you go? Very little. We lived on a farm, at first, until I was about ten. And we just went from there into town except when we would move. And then we would have to go on a train or something. We lived four miles out of town and I wanted a tablet and pencil for school so I walked four miles into town to buy my pencil and back home again.
What was the favorite place you ever visited and what was it like? When I was eleven years old my younger sister Altha and I rode on a train to Des Moines, Iowa, the biggest city that I ever knew about and visited our older sisters. My mom put us on the train at Leland. The conductor was to see that we changed trains at Fort Dodge. We had a lot of fun there. They took us to amusement parks and some of the things that they have now days. No electronical things or anything like that, but it was fun. I loved riding the ferris wheel.When I was seventeen, I went back and spent the summer with my sisters, Julia and Jennie. I worked in the office with Julia.
What was a typical Sunday like for your family? I remember once our whole family won a prize at the Forest City Baptist Church for attending church every Sunday for the whole year, except for one that we were snowed in. That was when we lived 3-1/2 miles outside of town.
What did you do on a typical day when you were ten years old? I guess I worked a little bit around the yard, played a lot. Maybe I herded cattle, or watched them from getting into the cornfields or something like that. Whatever came up, I worked a little bit and played a little bit. There wasn't very much to do. We played paper dolls. We didn't have any real dolls, so we sometimes made them out of socks. Most of the time we played paper dolls, we cut them out of catalogs and so on.
What did you have to do for chores? When I was at home I'd carry in wood and coal, carry out ashes I didn't do much with the milking or anything like that until after I was married. When I was a child at home I'd take care of the chickens some.
What things were invented while you were growing up? Oh, most everything. Not just when I was growing up, but in my lifetime. We went from the horse and buggy to having people go to the moon. It was a large area of inventions. I can remember when they didn't have a radio or television or anything like that. Those were all invented. All kinds of small appliances that they have in the houses. All electrical appliances.
What kinds of things did you like to do when you were young? Well, I'll tell ya there weren't much of anything going on. You hardly ever saw a car. The first time I rode in a car I was ten years old. I remember playing paper dolls and playing out in the yard. In the winter time we would go sliding down the hills in the snow. Ice skating some, I didn't skate much, but we'd slide around a lot. I have a few scars from the different things that happened to me when I was a kid. I have one clear across my foot here that I cut it wide open when I was walking on top of a hen house that they were building. My father and my brothers had taken cows to town and they walked and drove 'em along the road. I saw that they got away from 'em, so I went to see if they could catch 'em. I thought if I got on top of that hen house that they were building I could see. I was watching them and I could see 'em down the road. I was watching them and I wasn't watching where I was going. I stepped on a loose board and went down through the inside and hit the table on the inside and cut my foot open. I was kept out of school a few days for that.
Can you remember anything about birthdays when you were a child? The only birthday party I remember having as a child was when I was about ten years old or so. Maybe I was younger than that. Anyways, I had never had a birthday party before. The day I was suppose to have it my Dad came and he wanted me to go and work for a lady and take care of her children. So I had to leave and my sister Altha was the hostess of my birthday party.
In what ways were your experiences similar to, or different from, those of other children? Well, I guess we were a little poorer than most of the other children. Although nobody had a lot of money at that time. We just played on the farm and we hardly ever went to town. Once in a while we'd get to go to town. I remember one time when I was oh, about nine or ten. I walked four miles into town to get me a tablet and pencil so I'd have one for school on Monday. I bought two sticks of candy, I had one for me and one for my sister, who was younger than me. So, when I got started I set down to rest under some trees there, and somehow or other I lost one of the sticks of candy. So the one I had left I gave to my sister. That made a child remember things like that, see. But I had express orders from my mother never to ride with anybody. I had to walk all the way.
What kinds of medicine did you have for common colds and flu? I don't remember. I think mostly they had some liniments. I don't remember whether they had Vicks when I was young or not. They used to use goose grease. They used to melt the fat from a goose and rub it on. I never had many colds, so I can't remember too much about it.
Did you get an allowance? I didn't get an allowance but I remember on Fourth of July I'd get a nickel or maybe a whole dime and I'd have to hold onto it all day long. I was pretty smart with my pennies that I'd get once in a while. I remember we used to go to the Candy kitchen there, run by a Greek. He wouldn't take our pennies, he'd just give us whatever we'd ask for. So we'd go somewhere else and spend our pennies. That was really double duty.
How long did $50 last you in your youth? Well, when I was a child I don't remember ever seeing $50 but I'd get maybe a penny or a nickel or a dime. But for the parents, I imagine that it lasted a lot longer than it does now.
What could it buy? Well, I don't remember. It bought food and clothes. I don't remember how much of it $50 would buy.
What were your toys like in comparison with today? There really wasn't much comparison. We really didn't have many things at that time. In the summer time I took old bottles and broken pieces of glass and things and made me a play house. My mother would rip the yarn from old socks and make yarn dolls with embroidered eyes, nose and mouth in them and then she'd make clothes for them. In the winter time, of course, we lived where we had a lot of snow. We went skating and sliding on sleds and things like that. I played with paper dolls, too. I'd cut them out of the Sears Roebuck catalog and make my own paper dolls. We had the upstairs all littered up with all sorts of furniture made out of paper. My own children did the same thing. They didn't have much to play with either!
What was your favorite toy and what was it like? I guess my doll. I don't remember, although it's been a lot of years, having a store-bought doll. If I did, it had a china head and a soft body. That's what they were like in that time.
What was your favorite sport and how did you play it? During the summer time, a lot of times, we played games like Ring Around the Rosey and Pum-Pum-Pullaway. I don't know if you've ever played that. But you line up two sides. One person would be "It" and than they'd try to catch the people when they'd try to run from one base to the other. Different little games like that. In the winter time we went skating, sledding and things like that. I also jumped a lot of rope.
What kinds of food did you like? Mostly we had just potatoes and meat and gravy and bread. All homemade bread, of course. Didn't buy anything at the store. I can remember my parents doing something they'd never think of doing now days. They'd send their order for groceries to Sears Roebuck. I can remember when the grocery order would come and we'd open it up. Of course, it would be dry food that could be kept because it would be shipped by train from Chicago. That was different.
What kinds of vegetables did you grow in your garden? Mostly beans and tomatoes and peas and carrots. Just what we have now.
What kinds of presents did you get for Christmas when you were young? It would mostly be clothes and maybe my mother would make an effort to make a doll or sometimes she'd would make us a ball out of yarn from socks. She would take old rubber bands from fruit jars and wad them up in the center and wrap the yarn around that would make them a little bit bouncy. We'd play with that a lot.
Where did you go to school, and for how long? I went to many different rural schools. We only lived in a place probably a year or two at a time. Well, we lived three years in one place I remember. That's the first I remember, about when I started school. We had double seats and we'd sit two people together. The girl that I sat with, her name was LaVonne Anderson, which is what I named your grandmother. I always said my first girl was going to be LaVonne. So that was my first girlfriend. In the winter time you had to not get there too early because the teacher had to come down and start the furnace in the middle of the room and get the school room warm before you could be in there. So we had to be there by nine. But the teacher had to get there early. There were all eight grades in one room. Even my brother, Lee, went there. And then, after I got through school and taught, which I did right out of high school, why I had to do that. I was a teacher in a rural school and I had to get there and start the furnace up and get the heat going so the school room would be warm for the children, which is a little different from what they do now. I went to school through high school, then I taught school one year, then took one quarter at college, and then I got married.
What was your school like? It was a one-room rural school and our seats were big enough for two people to sit together in each one. And they were lined up on the sides and then in the center of the room. In the middle was a great big heater to warm the room. Of course, we couldn't have any seats behind that, because the teacher couldn't see then. We always had to go outdoors and get a pail of water and bring it in and sit in on a bench there to get a drink. They had a big dipper and everybody drank out of the same dipper.
How did you get to school? I walked! Sometimes, when I was only six years old I'd walk two miles to and from school, whether it was winter and cold or no matter what it was. I remember the little girl that would walk along with us would always hit me in the chest with her lunch pail and pick on be because I was littler than the rest of 'em. My older brothers and sisters didn't bother about that!
What did you like the best and the least about school? I always enjoyed school. But, when I was in high school, I always liked children, so I would go over during recesses and noon hour and jump rope and play with children at the kindergarten part and the lower grades instead of running around with high school girls most of the time. I liked children and I was kind of young and small for my age. So I just enjoyed that. I even jumped rope after I had been married for quite a few years. They told me I couldn't do that, but I said "Oh yes I can!" We lived in Colwell at that time. Of course, we went to a school right in town, on the edge of town, so I was right in town.
What was your favorite subject in school? Mathematics! I remember helping an 8th grade girl with her mathematics at noon-time. I was only in 7th grade. But she would tell me what she had to do and I'd do it for her. Of course, reading and things like that, too.
What was your least favorite subject in school and why? History and Geography! When I took my test for my teacher's certificate I got an average of over 90%. But I just got barely a passing grade in History and Geography. I got 75% in them. But my average was over 90%.
Did you get good grades in school? Yes, I did. One of the teachers asked my sister if I took a lot of books home to study. My sister said I didn't. The teacher said she didn't know when I studied, because everytime she saw me I was star-gazing, just looking around the room. But on my tests I would always get 90% or above.
What about the year that you flunked? That was when we lived at Leland. I was in 5th or 6th grade. He flunked me and made me take it over again. Then we moved before that year was over, and I went to Forest City schools. The next fall, he met my mother on the street there in Forest City and he asked her what grade I was in now. My mother told him that when we moved I went right into 7th grade and I made good grades and didn't have any problems.
What kinds of books did you like to read? Most of my books were just story books like Prudence of the Parsonage. I don't remember the names of most of them, but they were just good story books.
Were you ever given any special awards for your studies or school activities? I spoke a piece called "Patsy" in a contest and I really enjoyed that. I think I won second prize in the county. And I won a spelling contest when I was in seventh grade.
What did you wear to school? Describe it. Of course, we all wore dresses in that day. Most of the time I wore long black stockings and high shoes. None of the girls wore overalls or pants in that day.
Were there any fads during your youth that you remember vividly? Just after World War II they'd snarl up the hair and comb some hair over it over each ear. I can't remember what they called it. I always had long hair until LaVonne was a baby. Then I went to the Barber Shop (there wasn't any Beauty Parlors in those days) and my brother Lee watched LaVonne. He was against me cutting my hair anyways. When I came back, LaVonne wouldn't even come to me, she wanted to stay with Lee. He said that she knew that I wasn't suppose to have short hair!
What is the story you always told about your sister's boyfriend and your dessert? My sister Ethel's boyfriend was sitting next to me at dinner. I was taking the frosting (we didn't get this very often) off my cake and would put it down besides my plate while I ate the cake. Then I was going to eat the frosting. Just have that sweet stuff. When I went to get it, it was gone! He had sat besides me and picked up those frostings and ate them just to tease me!! So I didn't get my frosting!
What kinds of transportation were there while you were growing up? Well, there were just beginning to be a few cars, mostly there were just horse and buggy and wagons. In the wintertime, bobsleds and sleighs. And of course, there was the train. We could always ride on the train if we were going any distance at all. If you were going even six or eight miles you'd take the train.
Can you remember your first plane ride? Well, I remember that the first plane flew the year that I was born. The first plane that I ever saw was when I was in high school. They landed one in the pasture by school. We all got to get out of school to go look at it. I guess I didn't ride in one until after we had moved out to California.
What was your first car like? My parents never had a car. You never even met a car in the road very often. We were driving along in the buggy one time and a car went by. My dad had to get out and hold the horse's head because she would rear up and tip the buggy over, she was so afraid of it. Then we got a horse that had been trained in Des Moines and was used to cars. One time that was exciting for me was when I was riding along in the buggy with my father and we saw three elephants walking along side the road. They'd reach over with their trunks and eat grass along side the road. They were from a little circus that went from one town to the other. That was they way they moved them. My father never drove a car until my brother Lee got one. He told Dad he could drive it and he wanted to stop it so he said "Whoah!" Lee said that won't work. You have to put your foot on the brake! That was his only attempt at driving a car. The first time I ever rode in a car was when I was about eleven years old. Some neighbors had a car and then went from the little town we lived in to another town about six miles away. That was a big thrill when I got to ride twelve miles, six miles both ways. Other than that, I can't remember riding in a car until I was in high school or through high school.
What kinds of jobs did you have? The first job I remember having was when I was about eleven years old. There was a woman that lived out in the country. We lived in a little town at that time. She came in and told my mother that if she'd let me go out and help take care of her children when she had to be out she'd pay me 25-cents a week and "learn me up." And that was my first job. I worked there I don't know how long, but for the big sum of 25-cents a week!
About how much money did you get a year at your highest paid job? Well, my highest paid job was the year that I taught school, and at that time they didn't pay very much in rural schools. I think I got about $75 a month over the 9-month period. That would be about $500 or $600 for the year. But I had to pay room and board out of that. I had to room with a family in the neighborhood where I taught. My sister, who was three years older than I was, I remember her riding horseback to school. She taught where she could ride from home and she would ride horseback out to Mount Valley up in the high country. She would ride Old Prince to school and come home again.
What about when you were teaching? Well, I don't remember using it on anything special. I used it for my own good, I guess. I can't remember giving it to anybody. I did use some when I went away to college after I taught one year. I remember that my oldest pupil was only 2-1/2 years younger than I was. He was the son of the Superintendent of Schools. He didn't want to send him to High School, so he was sent back for review and to take a few other subjects. He was much bigger than I was and taller. He was a good student. His younger brother was kind of a cut-up and he'd straighten him out.
How long did you have to work each day at your job? At teaching, when I had the rural school, I had to get there early in the morning and start the fire before the children got there to get the room warm. So I had to be there really early in the morning. And then at night, I'd have to clean the room and do all my own janitor work and everything after they all left. So it would be quite long hours.
What was your experience of the Depression? Well, of course, by that time I was married and we had a family and it was really hard to get through. But we always managed to get by. Sometimes I would sell 12 dozen cases of eggs for 84-cents. But it would buy quite a bit more groceries than it would now. You wouldn't think of going to town with 84-cents to buy groceries now! But I could buy a 49-pound sack of flour with it at that time so money stretched farther. I had to bake all our bread. We used the old-fashioned yeast where you had to start the yeast the night before and wrap it up real warm so it wouldn't get cold over night. We managed to get by.
How did you meet the person that you would later marry? My sister, Mable, and I were downtown at the fountain at the Court House Square. Another guy was going to take Mable home but he didn't have a car. So Clifford had his car, so he took us both home. That way I got acquainted with him and then I went with him for quite a few years before we got married. Lots of times, he used to have to drive the horse and buggy through a lot of snow. One time he put the horse and buggy in the barn. Then he'd walk out to my house which was a mile or so. One time the horse broke loose, and when he got up there the horse was gone. So he had to walk home that night.
Did your parents like him right away? Oh yes. I guess so.
When did you start to drive? Just before we were married. I said if I didn't learn to drive before we were married I probably never would. Clifford taught me to drive while we were going together in the Model T Ford. When we got a shift car, I was having a little trouble with that. He said there was no use trying to teach me. Alice Durant, the girl next door, had a car just like it. I got her to teach me how to drive it. When Clifford found out, I got to do all the running. If something broke down in the field and they were to busy to go to the store, I'd take the car and go into town to get the repairs. Things like that. I drove a lot after I learned to drive, I drove everywhere.
Did you ever have a fight while you were dating? No. We never fought. If Clifford got angry he would just keep still. He wouldn't say a word to anybody.
EARLY MARRIED YEARS
How old were you when you got married? I was nineteen when I got married.
Did you get to choose who you married? I certainly did. We lived together almost sixty-three years. My husband died just a few months before the sixty-three years was up, so we had a good family and a good family life.
Describe your wedding ceremony. Who was there? We didn't have a big wedding. My mother and Clifford's mother were there. We just got our license and went down to the parsonage to get married. The preacher was kind of an older man. It was in February and it was icy. He fell and he hurt his leg and he couldn't stand up during the ceremony so he had to sit down on a chair. But, we stayed married anyway. He was upset, so he made a mistake on the marriage certificate. I lived in Winnebago County and my name was Winnie Whiton. He wrote down Clifford Lackore and Winnebago County on one of them! The other one was right. I always told Clifford that if we ever separated, I'd keep the one that had my name on it!
Did you have a honeymoon? If so, where did you go? Yes. We went to Mason City and spent a night or two and then we went to Kenawha to my Uncle and Aunt's and spent some time with them. Coming home, we got in a snow storm and got stuck in the snow. A man loaned us a team of horses and a buggy and we finished out our honeymoon. Clifford had to go back the next day and shovel out the car.
Did you have children? I had seven, but one of them died at birth, so I raised six.
What were their names, birthdates and birthplaces?
1. LaVonne Arlene, Oct.27, 1923, Iowa
2. Donald Eugene, Oct. 12, 1925, Iowa
3. Veone Ruth, Oct. 4, 1928, Iowa
4. Keith Arden, Nov. 30, 1934, Iowa
5. Dale Clifford, May 20, 1939, Iowa
6. Lois Rae, Dec. 26, 1941, Iowa
Were your children born in hospitals? My children were born near Forest City, in the northern part of Iowa. They were all born at home, except the last two. One baby died, then I went to the hospital for the last two.
Where did you live when you were first married? We lived with Clifford's folks for one year when we were first married. LaVonne was born there and had a lot of babysitters. I remember Grandma Lackore sitting there and rocking and rocking her all the time. By the time we got into our own house she was pretty badly spoiled. I'd put her in her own bed and she wanted somebody to hold and rock her. I said that she had to learn to go to sleep in her own bed. So I'd stand just outside the door until she'd cry herself to sleep. Then I'd go in and cover her up and make sure she was comfortable. I just knew I couldn't keep rocking her to sleep every night.
There were two houses on the property. The landlady (Durant) lived in the big house and we lived in the old one that had been there for quite a few years. We lived there for about 5 or 6 years. My first 3 children were born there. That's where Don got stuck in the mud between the road and the house. LaVonne came in and said "Bucky is stuck in the mud!" We always called Don "Buddy," but LaVonne couldn't say Buddy. Another time LaVonne and Don rubbed in the axle grease from the hub of the wagon wheel all over their clothes, faces and hands. I had to wash them with kerosene. In 1931 we moved to the house that was by a swamp near Thompson. There were bees that got into the walls of the house. LaVonne could play out all day, but Donald, even if he stayed inside all day, a bee would get in a sting him. He got stung every day that summer. The landlord would come out and take off the side boards of the house to get at the honey.
Then we moved to the Clausen farm, my last three children were born while we lived there. There was also one that died between Keith and Dale. Then, finally, after that one died, I went to the hospital for Dale and Lois. Dale went two weeks overtime and they had given me a shot to break the water and start the birth. But he didn't come. The doctor came in and told me I could go home if I wanted to. I told him "I'm not going home now until that baby comes!" There was an automobile accident and there was only two doctors. They were both down there when the baby started to come. The nurse told me I couldn't have it yet. I told her that if that baby was coming, he was coming. I'd waited long enough. So I didn't even get into the delivery room.
While we were living at the Clausen farm, we grew sweet corn to deliver to the factory. Also some years, tomatoes. One year I canned over 100 quarts of tomato juice that summer. That was the year that Dale was a baby. I'd pick tomatoes all day long. I'd get Dale all fed and bathed and put him to bed. Then we'd go out. By the time we'd get done he would just be waking up. One year we got a snowstorm in June just after we put out the tomato plants. They got a little bit frosted, but not too bad.
We usually grew watermelons in the middle of the cornfields so that people wouldn't take them. We got ponies while we were living there. They used to ride them up and down the sides of the sand pit that was behind the grove of trees. South of the house, was that swamp. Ducks would land there in the fall and people would come there duck hunting. People paid quite a little bit of money to come in and hunt ducks there. We enjoyed that a lot.
One year we were snowed in from January to April, I think. I didn't get out very much. I could talk on the phone. That was the year that my parents died and Veone broke her wrist. The chickens got out and she was helping to put them in. She had chickens in both hands and she ran up a snow bank and fell and broke her wrist. That was also the year that Clifford's father died and I went to the hospital in Mason City and had an operation for appendicitis. I was quite heavy at that time. It was ten days before they would even let me sit up in bed.That was our bad year.
Do you remember the first meal you cooked for Clifford? Well, it would have to be after we'd been married for a year because we lived with his folks for the first year.
How did you learn to cook? My mom taught me some but I think, mostly, I just picked it up. I got a cookbook from my sister Julia when we first married. I learned some things from Clifford's mother, too. She had a way of cooking that was mostly German. We had to bake everything from scratch. During the war we couldn't buy sugar or butter (they didn't have margarine then). We had to use whole grain flour and cornmeal or something like that. It was hard to get flour. I remember I had an eggless, milkless, butterless cake that I baked a lot! I remember when they first started selling margarine. Since we lived in a dairy state, they had a law that they couldn't sell colored margarine. So you got your yellow coloring in a little packet and you had to mix it with your other stuff. Sometimes we'd get it too yellow and others not yellow enough.
What was Clifford's favorite recipe? Oyster stew, I guess. He liked that real well. We always had that every New Years, Christmas or Grandpa Lackore's birthday. We could only buy oysters in the winter time. Grandpa Lackore's, Clifford's father, birthday was the sixth of October. That was always the first oyster stew of the year. Everybody would always get together for oyster stew. Also at our church we'd always have oyster stew at our business meetings. Everybody in the group would come for oyster stew.
What is the story on how you used to make Ice Cream? We would have to buy a chunk of ice. We didn't have a refrigerator. We made six quarts at a time which we had to eat up fast because it wouldn't stay. In the Spring we couldn't buy ice much so we'd dig up ice that hadn't melted yet from around the straw piles and use that to make ice cream with.
Tell us about your annual outing to the Iowa State Fair. We went almost every year when we lived there in Forest City. I remember going when Veone was quite small because Irene took care of her. When I came back Veone wouldn't even come to me. That always tickled Irene, that Veone preferred her to me. But, she came to me right away. We stayed with my sister, Julia, there in Des Moines. She had a big house. Jennie and a littler house.
How did you wash clothes when you were first married? Oh, I rubbed them on the board! I had to heat the water in a boiler on the wood stove. In the wintertime, Clifford could sleep late. I'd have the water carried the night before, then get up and have my washing pretty near all done by the time he got up. I had a hand wringer, so I'd rub it on the board then wring it by hand. Then I rinsed it in two tubs of water. We had to carry all our water in from the well. The machine I had was a Maytag and ran off a gasoline engine. We put a belt through the window and wash in the house in the wintertime. In the summer, I'd set it up outside and wash.We also took baths on Sunday mornings in a washtub. We'd heat up the water in a boiler on the stove then put up a sheet down the middle of the kitchen. Everybody had to take their bath there on Sunday morning, then we had to carry the water out. We never did have electricity on the Clausen farm. We had just signed up for it because we had livestock to get it. But they didn't get it hooked up until after we had moved away.
What kinds of appliances did you have? We didn't have any kind appliances like they have now. Our iron that we ironed our clothes with, was a piece of iron, pointed at both ends, and nice and smooth on the bottom. It had an extra handle that we could put on and take off and put it on the stove, and heat it on the stove. And then you'd put the handle on it when we wanted to use it. We'd iron with it a little bit until it would cool off. We would have three in a set. We'd iron with one until it would get cool and then we'd put it back on the stove so it could get warm again and we'd get different one.Later on, we got a gasoline iron. We also had gas lights where you had to pump them up.
FAMILY LIFE IN COLWELL, IOWA
Moving to Colwell & The Runaway Chickens
When we first moved to Colwell, Donald had just graduated from high school. We counted up the people that lived in that town and I decided that we lacked about two or three from having a hundred. I said there must have been three that we missed. I remember that when we were unloading the chickens they got loose and ran down Main Street and we had to chase them back and get them back in our hen house.
The Runaway Pig
Another time, Keith had a 4-H club sow that was expecting to have pigs and she got loose while he was in school one day. I would go down and chase her. It was wintertime and there was a slippery, slanted place when you went down onto our sidewalk. She'd get as far as that and then turn around and go back again. Finally I gave up and called the school and told Keith he had to come home and get his sow in because she was running on down Main Street all the time. So he and a friend of his came and put her in. She was about ready to have pigs so we didn't dare chase her too much!
Colwell House Fire
We always had extra people staying with us when we lived in Colwell. Even when our house burned on the inside and we moved into that parsonage across the street, we had three extra kids. The parsonage wasn't big enough so we had to put 'em in the basement and all over.
The day that the house burned, Lois was upstairs playing and Veone had come home and was going to fix supper with a kerosene stove. We hadn't been using that. There was a can of kerosene sitting up on the window above the stove. Veone turned the burner on and the kerosene tipped over into the burner and started a fire that burned the stairs. Lois, who was about two or three at the time, started down the stairs. She couldn't get out of the house because the door was shut. Somebody saw her looking out the door and let her out. Veone was so excited about getting the fire out that she didn't know what to do.
Clifford and I had gone to a movie. They called us out of it and said that we should go home because our house was on fire and they took our little girl to the hospital. She had been overcome by smoke. That was kind of a bad time.
Country Phone & Whiton House Fires
I remember our ring was two shorts and two longs. Everybody could listen, but the number of rings meant who was suppose to answer it. It was fortunate for me the day that my parent's house got on fire. They called me and told me that her house was burning. Clifford was gone with the car and I had no way to get down there. We were snowed in, we couldn't get our car out. Clifford had pulled the car out with a horse. The lady across the road heard the ring. She said "Walk down to the end of the alley and Harry will take you in."Coming in, they had already called Irene and Clifford met me along the way and he took me back.
We always had room at the table for anybody that wanted to sit there. My mother was the same way. Years ago when we lived in Thompson, there used to be a bunch of neighbors that would come over and eat with us every once in awhile. I remember those people, especially, because they had a lot of children. After we got through eating, the mother would make the oldest daughter go around and eat up everything that was left on the plates. She didn't want to throw anything away!
When it was time for thrashing, all the neighbors would come over and help with that. They had a thrashing machine that was run by a steam engine and my husband, Clifford, and two other guys ran the engine. They would have to start real early in the morning to get it going. So I had the three men that got the steam up for breakfast. Then there would be as many as twenty for dinner and supper. There were only about twelve silo-fillers, but they would eat as much as the thrashers did because they would work harder and they'd be more hungry. We'd set up a wash tub outside and have towels there so they could wash up before they ate.
The New House
It was the first house where we had electricity. We had running water even. I had a sink and everything was convenient.I would cook all Saturday forenoon. About noon, Keith would be down visiting one of his friends, and his friend would say "Isn't it about time we go down to your house to play now?" And he'd come up because he knew there would be a whole lot of cookies and cakes and cinnamon rolls and everything on the table. So they'd come up and have a lunch!One time, Keith and a friend were going to play a ballgame and I told them that if they won the game I'd bake them a cake. So they won the game and I baked the cake. They ate that whole cake, those two boys! It was a regular size cake in a loaf pan. They wouldn't give any to anybody!
BABYSITTING THE GRANDKIDS Also when we lived in Colwell, I used to take care of Cindy and Greg. LaVonne and the girls also stayed there after Don died for awhile. I remember when Joanne came out to play. Lois had gotten her last doll for Christmas and I had put it away. I let Joanne have it to play with and she broke it! That's what happened to Lois's last doll!
When I was watching Cindy and Greg, I'd lay down with Greg to get him to sleep. I'd put Cindy to bed and she'd look like she was asleep. When I'd get up she'd be running around. I'd go to sleep myself because I was tired, but she wasn't!
Was being a wife and mother as you had expected it to be? Well, I guess it was just what I expected to do... take care of the children, help with the farm work. I milked cows and did garden work and yard work. All, most farm women do
wash dishes... I canned many, many quarts of food. I remember one year I canned 100 quarts of tomato juice. They had been raising them for the factory, and the tomatoes that weren't perfect we had to use ourselves, so I'd pick tomatoes all day and then I would make the juice at night and can it. We canned our meat, too. At first, we didn't have a pressure cooker, we just cooked 'em in the broiler. We had to cook 'em three hours broilin' 'em and then we'd take 'em out of there and cool 'em off and make sure the jars were sealed. But, we canned both beef and pork, mostly pork. We made sausage and cured our hams, and put them in salt. The fat from the hogs we had to heat it up and then I had a little machine that you put the lard in there and press it down and squeeze all the lard out of it, and then I threw away or fed to the hogs what was left of it, the crackling, they called it. I would put it in jars and that's what I used for cooking.
What was the funniest thing you can remember that one of your children said or did?
We kept a billy goat for a man that had a livestock place when we are out there by Forest City. It would run up after the kids and they'd run into the house. He'd butt at the screen door, trying to get at 'em.
I remember my sister Jennie was out visiting from Des Moines. There were two wells on the place. The one clear down by the barn was the one that they pumped all the water in and through the cooling tank and into the livestock. The billy goat was down that way and Jennie had to climb up on the well or he'd try to get her. As long as she was up there he wouldn't bother her. She kept hollering and hollering until I came and chased the billy goat away so she could get down and go up to the house.
At Grandpa Lackore's they had fighting roosters. LaVonne was so scared of those things.Also at that farm north of Forest City, we had a gander that would come up behind me when I'd be out hanging up clothes and he'd peck at my legs until they'd be sore. He'd keep pecking at me until I got the clothes hung up and got out of his way!
I remember stories of you slaughtering chickens. How did you do that?(LAUGHS). They're all interested in how I killed chickens! My mother did it that way, and that's the way I did it. I just would get the chicken and hold its feet and put his head under a stick and put my feet on both sides of the stick and pull its head off. But, you know if I had tried to chop it off, why, it probably would have gotten partly done and then it would have been flopping around there partly dead and partly alive, and this here was quick... as soon as you pulled that head off, it was gone. It still flopped a few times, but it didn't have any head, so it wouldn't last very long. I guess that's just what my mother did.
I remember one year I killed and dressed twelve chickens and took 'em and put 'em in the locker all in one day. That was years later. We didn't have lockers and things like that to start with. We didn't have refrigerators or anything like that for many, many years. We would put our milk and cream and everything in the cooling tank. It was fastened to the well and water that would go to the livestalk would go through this tank where it was always cold water, which was really cold because it came right out of the ground... it was really cold. It kept the milk and cream sweet until it was time to take it to the creamery. Then we would take the cream down and sell that and bring home, oh, probably four pounds of butter per week. That was one of the ways we got our butter. I did churn some. As a child a remember one time my mother just had one or two cows and we had a barrel churner. It was shaped like a barrel and it had a crank on it... you turned it over and over and over, and that would churn it enough so it would turn to butter. One day I was kind of impatient. I was afraid that it wasn't doing anything, so I opened it up to see if it was making butter yet. When I put it back I forgot to fasten it and I dumped the whole thing out on the ground. So that's one bunch of cream that didn't do us any good! I did lots of things that I shouldn't have as I think back.
What was the scariest thing that ever happened to one of your children? When Veone was really small, she went out into the cornfields to find her dad. Clifford was operating a mower that cut down the rows of corn and didn't know that Veone was just a row of corn away from being cut by that mower. Another time, we were canning corn and as we were dumping out some boiling water into the yard, Don ran up and got burned.
Did you celebrate Christmas the same way that you do now, or differently? It was about the same as now except we didn't have near the things as they have now. Of course, we didn't have any outside entertainment. It was all what we'd make for ourselves. After we were married, we would usually go over to the Lackore's or Patet's for a big dinner. Clifford's mother and sister and her husband raised geese. So she would usually have a goose (to eat). For the first three years she would give me goosefeather pillows. I still have a few of those pillows left but the feathers are getting really smashed up now. They aren't very soft anymore.
What about family reunions? We used to have a Lackore family reunion every year for quite a few years. They've kind of quit that now. There aren't enough Lackores left in any one place. There aren't any of our group left in Forest City. I remember before we were married, Clifford took me along with him when they went to a family reunion. His cousin, Dorothy, took me under her wing. We went to Osage to a reunion over there. I remember going there but not too many of the others. We went to family reunions every year for many, many years. Then they kind of broke up because everybody got kind of scattered.
LATER YEARS IN CALIFORNIA
Before we left for California, we stayed overnight at Irene and Earl's. We went to Arlyn and Lois's wedding. From there we went out to California. We had a trailer and two cars. We had the 1957 Ford and the other 1950 Ford. Dale Lackore and Dale Anderson drove the car with the trailer and Lois rode with us. We lost them on the rode. We got ahead of them or something. Lois cried and cried and cried. She thought we'd never see them again. So we left our car out where they could see it and they saw it and they stopped. Lois was so happy to see those two boys again! Dale Anderson was the one she married. We stayed all night in the town that his sister lived in. Lois stayed there with him and rode out with him. No, I think she came with us. Anyway, we stopped to see Beth (Dale's girlfriend) at her folks place when we got to San Luis Obispo. We hadn't planned to stop there, we were going on down to L.A. But we stayed with them all night and then we stayed in a motel one night. The next morning, my husband went over to a Carpenter's Shop. He told them he was looking for a job. They asked him if he had his tools with him and he said he did and he showed them to him. He didn't have a license to be a carpenter in California. Keith was in the navy camp up north near San Francisco and he would come down. He lent us a hundred dollars so Clifford could join the union.
Did you work after you moved to California? Well, the only paid work I did was after my family was all gone. My husband was doing carpentry work after we came to California, and I was licensed to take care of children. I took care of them in my home. And then over Christmas vacation, for a couple of years after the kids would go home in the evenings or else on Saturdays I would go down and work in a store. I enjoyed that a lot. It got me out and away from home a little bit.
Were you paid fairly? I think so. The price things were at that time... of course, I did work cheaper than some of the others, but I made three dollars a day off of each child, and I had six of them, so that was plenty.
What was your money needed for? It was just used for our regular living expenses, because at that time my husband and I were alone and we were putting money in the bank so we would have something later on, and we were paying for our house, and things like that.
Did you agree with having the World Wars, Korean and Vietnam Wars? I don't agree with war unless it is absolutely necessary. But if you have to protect yourself, why than it has to be.
What was your reaction to the Kennedy assassination? I was sorry to hear of his being assassinated. It's too bad when people kill other people.
Did you feel that Kennedy was a good president during the time that he served? Why or why not? Well, I think that he was probably about average. Some of the things that he did turned out really good. It's easier now to look back at that time. But some of the things turned out good and some that weren't so good.
What historical events had a strong influence on your life? I think the thing I remember is, first, the ending of World War I, which was when I was about fifteen. I remember when the war ended, they had a big parade in our town and they let us out of school and we all got out and paraded up and down the streets celebrating the end of World War I.
Although it didn't hit us, it kept us from having some of the things that we would have had. I remember some of the town, one little town in Iowa named Germania... they changed their name to Lacota because they didn't want anything to do with Germans during the war. When World War II... my husband was ready for the draft at the beginning, he was just to be drafted during World War I, that was before we were married. He was all ready to go. He had his examination and then it ended, so he didn't have to go. So then in World War II he still had to register for the draft. But, at that time he was married and had a family and was farming; He was not quite forty five. They made him register, but he was never called. He was always left off because of his farming and producing food, so he was excused from the service for that. My oldest son, Donald, just barely got into the draft in World War II, but he didn't have to go overseas or anything. Because he was from the farm and knew about livestock and everything, he and an officer stayed in a hotel in Boston, Massachusetts, and he would inspect the meat. That's what he did after he had been trained.
What woman had the greatest influence on your life? I guess my mother. I can't remember any teachers especially that had a great influence on me. I remember my younger sister and I went to Sunday School where a couple of, we called 'em old maids or spinsters, they had a Sunday School right there in their home. We went there on Sunday mornings. They were good, nice people and they influenced me a lot, but I think my mother had the greatest influence on me. I was always very fond of my sisters Julia and Jennie, too.
What were the major problems you had to overcome in your life? Probably making a living and getting the work done. Always getting the dishes done in time. We've been very lucky with health with six children. I never had a doctor bill. Even when I cut my foot wide open, I didn't go to the doctor. My mother just bandaged it up.
How have ideas about women and women's roles changed since you were a child? Well, they have changed a lot. Now the women are put forward and doing everything. At that time, the women would stay on the farm and stayed in the home and took care of the children and the men earned the living, and that was it. I can't remember that many women working... they were working at sewing or something like that sometimes in places where they made clothes.
What do you think about these changes? I think some things about it are alright. But I think they are going to extremes right now. I have one grandson who was telling me about his interview for a job. He had been out of work for quite a while, and educationally and everything he answered everything they needed, but they told him, "You've got one thing against you. Today they are hiring women instead of men. That's probably why you won't get the job." And now they're pushing women for everything. They are going to fly fighter planes and go in the Navy, and things like that. So I think they should get where they belong. Of course, me being an older lady. Why, it seems different.
What experiences or accomplishments in your life are you most proud of? As I know it, it is my family. I think I did pretty well raising six children, and they're all wonderful children. I appreciate them and I still appreciate their love and caring for me now that it is their turn. That's about the most exciting thing I ever did, I guess. The most worthwhile thing.
If you had your life to live over, what would you do different, and what would you not want to change? The only thing I can think of that I would do differently is that I would liked to have had more money so I could do more for my children like putting them through college. But, I think I have had a good life as far as that goes. I'm happy for my family and happy for the life I've led. I've had a very good life and I'm very satisfied with it. One thing I am very glad for is that my children are very good about coming to see me, the ones who are close here, and in June of this year when I'll be ninety, they're coming from (they're scattered all over the country on account of the World War, I think) Massachusetts, Florida, Texas, Colorado, Oregon and so on, for my birthday.
What advice do you have for your children and grandchildren? I hope you all will accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior so I'll be sure to have you all with me throughout eternity. Because if you don't you won't be with me. That is where your Dad is and that is where I will be (in heaven with Jesus).
How did you feel when you first learned you were going to be a grandma? I was pleased, of course, because I always loved children.
What advice would you give to a grandchild on their wedding day? I'd tell them to always think of the other person first.
What is your favorite song? Hymns. What is your favorite season? Summer. What is your favorite flower? Rose. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas. What is your favorite color? Bright colors. What is your favorite hobby? Knitting & Crocheting. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? Vanilla.
We're finished with the questions. Is there anything else that you'd like to say?
It's nice to be living in such a different age now from what it was when I was growing up. It's just hard to imagine the difference in the age now. The things you can do and see from what it was like when I was growing up. You would have never imagined a show being put on in New York or even now in other countries and sitting in our living room and being able to see it. I remember the first time I saw a clothes dryer at a state fair. That was after we had a large family. I thought how wonderful that would be to have on the farm. When I would dry clothes I would have to hang them out on the line and before I'd get the line full they would be frozen solid. Then I'd have to take them down frozen and take them in the house to dry them. So I would have really appreciated having an electric dryer back then. But I didn't have any electricity.