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Opa John Hemmes


Darlyce Hemmes

Sixth Grade


Opa was born January 21, 1886, in Sheffield, Iowa. Hisparents, Bertus and Wimeka Hemmes, had come to Iowa from Germany when Opa'soldest brother was just a baby. He had three brothers and two sisters.

When my grandpa (Opa) was a boy, he had to walk to school.In school he'd recite what his teacher asked his class. His class had todo a lot of spelling.

In winter, after school, he sometimes had a snowball fight,if there was snow. Then, he would walk four miles home. There were choresto do and school work. Families often sang together in the long evenings.

Sometimes my Opa would get into mischief. When the childrenhad a snow ball fight, the boys would try to hit the girls more often thanthe boys. When they had a foot race, Opa would try to trip others.

Playing checkers was a favorite pastime. They sang a lotin those days. Sometimes the boys would trick the girls by having the girlschase them in the dark and send them head over heals with a string.

Opa didn't have a swimming pool to swim in. He had to goto the creek or to a mill pond to play in the water. He would hold on toa toboggan, so he would not sink.

Opa's hair was cut by his mother until he was 19 yearsof age. It cost fifteen cents to get a haircut in the early 1900's. Thehair style was short then. Boys didn't dare to have their hair long, messy,or dirty.

During the early 1900's, the ladies held box socials. Thisis how Opa met my grandma. Boxes with names in them were auctioned off.Opa bid the highest on one box and he got a girl's box which was preparedby Gertie Myer.

Opa and Grandma were married September 18, 1915, in theMethodist Parsonage at St.Vincent, Minnesota. They lived on a farm nearHumboldt, Minnesota, for a few years, then they moved to a farm where Opalives today. They had four children. The oldest child is my father, Wilbert.

Opa has lived alone for 15 years.

Opa was 85 years old in January, but he is still youngat heart. He enjoys driving the tractor and helping with field work. Hehas chickens and delivers eggs to people in town.

He is a very friendly person - also very kind and generous.

Opa means Grandpa in German and he likes to be called Opa.


Hemmes, John, Humboldt, Minnesota, Interview, February9, 1975

Humboldt, Minnesota, Interview, February9, 1975