Vera Ash: Schoolteacher and Homemaker
How much do you really know about your grandparents? Ithink nine out of ten people would say they know very little about them.I was even surprised to learn that my grandmother, Vera Ash, was a schoolteacher in a rural and city school.
My grandmother's parents lived in Saint Vincent and hadthree children. The oldest of the three was my grandmother. She had abrother and sister, Steven and Ruth Easter.
At the age of six, she started school at a rural schoolnear St. Vincent. At this rural school they only taught through the firstseven grades, so she went to the St. Vincent school for three years andfinished the last two at Humboldt High. Her senior class, that consistedof six girls, was the first graduating class of the Humboldt High School.
Wanting to be a teacher, she decided to go to college formore education. She attended the Teachers College at Bemidji for two years. After graduating from there, she was ready to teach at a moments notice.
Finally she was offered a job as a teacher in one of therural schools of Kittson County.
In these rural schools she found that she was also thejanitor. Each winter morning she had to get to school early to light thefires to keep the teacher and students warm during the day. Even with thesefires lit, the teacher and the students often wouldn't sit in their seatsuntil noon because they were as cold as ice.
In this rural school she had eight grades with a totalenrollment of twenty-nine children.
Her wages were very low, compared with a teacher today. She received three to four times less.
Even with these low wages, the first year she taught shedidn't get any money until around Christmas time because of bank trouble.To add to this hardship, one day near Christmas time, my grandmother wentto town to buy some gifts for Christmas. When she returned from shopping,she noticed that her purse had been stolen. So for the next few months,she had no money at all.
One morning my grandmother got up and got readyto go to school. When she was eating breakfast, she noticed it was stormingout terribly. She got up from the table and called everyone of her studentson the telephone to tell them that there would not be school that day.
She was able to reach each of the families by telephone,except for one because they didn't have a telephone. Thinking that the Wolfchildren would come to school and there wouldn't be any fire built, shedecided to go to school. On her way she got lost, but finally made it. Sure enough, when she got there, the Wolf children were all huddled togetherwaiting for the teacher. My grandmother built a fire, and they all warmedup and returned home safely.
Later on Vera Ash decided to go and teach in a city schoolbecause there were a lot more advantages. Some of the city schools shetaught in were located at Hawley, Sandstone, and International Falls, Minnesota. In all of these city schools, she taught third grade.
After five years of teaching, she decided to quit and marrymy grandfather. They lived on a farm near Saint Vincent, Minnesota.
On the farm, my grandmother and grandfather had many farmproblems. They farmed through floods, grasshoppers, and drought.
On their farm they had cows, chickens, hogs, sheep, turkeys,and also bees. These animals along with a large garden furnished theirfood supply.
To preserve these foods my grandmother always canned everythingshe could. Now canning is her hobby, and she likes to exhibit at the Countyfair because she likes competition.
During the nineteen thirties when the depression was on,she never bought anything but pineapple. She bought pineapple to add flavorto some of her canned foods.
Even with all this work, she still found time to attendlodge, ladies aide, and homemakers meetings, and also held offices in allof these clubs at one time or another.
Later on, in 1946, my grandmother and grandfather starteda green-house on their farm. In those years the next closest greenhousewas at Crookston. In the greenhouse, they grew much the same things asthey grow today, vegetables and flowers.
Being the chairman of the Sister Kenny Foundation whichdeals with polio, my grandmother found people to work for this foundation.These people would go around their neighborhood to collect money for thisfoundation. They would then give the money to my grandmother and she wouldsend it to the Sister Kenny Foundation.
She also was the township leader for the Heart Fund.
On February twenty-second, 1968 my grandmother and herhusband were awarded the Valley Farmer and Homemaker bronze plaque awards.This award is given to the farm family who over the years have contributedto the agriculture development of their community.
Now in her spare time, my grandmother travels to the westcoast, and during the other time, she works in the greenhouse, and on thefarm.
Being a teacher, she taught many children in schools toread, write, spell, etc. She also took an active part in clubs and foundationsthat helped to make the Red River Valley into what it is, a land of prosperityand happiness.
Ash, Vera Interview January 11, 1970
Ash, Vera Interview January 11, 1970