Lyon County Genealogy

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BRUCE & PHYLLIS WEATHERLY

On the Occasion of their

GOLDEN WEDDING ANNIVERSARY

1930-1980

 

This foreword is compiled by Bruce Weatherly in January, 1980 at the request of our children.  I, Bruce, am the youngest and only remaining member of the family of Foster Charles Weatherly (January 21, 1862 to December 21, 1919) and Ida Belle Meyers Weatherly (September 14, 1867 to December 11, 1945).  This is being written so that the family of Bruce Weatherly, and others who are interested, may know something about their heritage.

The father of Foster Weatherly was Timothy R. and the mother was Catherine.  Birth and death dates are now known.  The mother of Ida Belle Weatherly was Mary Catherine Meyers and her father was Jesse Calloway Meyers, a Civil War veteran and a 32nd degree Mason and a Shriner.  I have a vivid recollection of Jesse Meyers as he lived to be in his late nineties.  The birthplace of my parents and grandparents was near the town of Liscomb, in Marshall County, Iowa.  Dad's ancestry goes back to England and Scotland while the Meyers family, as far as I know, resided in Marshall County, Iowa.

Dad and Mother were married December 4, 1889.  To this union were born five boys and two girls.  All were born in Marshall County except Bruce.  The eldest was Merl Zene (November 29, 1890 to September 29, 1933), next was Paul Eugene (December 20, 1892 to September 14, 1941, forty-eight years), next was Genevieve (August 2, 1894 to September 17, 1950, fifty-six years), then Frank (March 16, 1896 to August 3, 1971, seventy-five years), then Nellie (June 17, 1898 to August 10, 1967, sixty-nine years) then Carl, who died of scarlet fever, October 6, 1899 to June, 1900) and Bruce, the youngest, born at Rock Rapids on May 27, 1907.

Dad and Mother farmed near Liscomb and my mother taught school until 1903.  In the late '90s dad's brother, John L. Weatherly decided to come to Lyon County as they had heard of the virgin soil and the bountiful crops it produced.  They bought a farm in Garfield Twp. near the town of Doon.  The next year, my folks decided they would like to see what northwest Iowa was like, so late summer of about 1902 they hitched a team to a covered wagon and made the journey to Doon in about two weeks.  The roads were just trails and they found their way from town to town.  After looking at various farms that were for sale, they decided to buy the farm of 219 acres in Rock Twp., Section 31.  This is the farm now owned by Whitey and Barbara (Mc Caughey) Drenth.  It was six miles from Rock Rapids, Doon, and Alvord and two and one0half miles from the town of Lakewood.  There was a house and barn on this farm and dad did the plowing that fall before returning to Liscomb to spend the winter with the rest of the family.

I believe the purchase price of the farm was $37.50 per acre.  Some difference in price as this farm today would probably bring $3,000 per acre.  The next spring Dad and Mother loaded their family and a few chickens and some cows and horses and started back to their new home in Lyon County.  It must have been quite a trip with five small children and the animals going back across country in their covered wagon.  I did not appear on the scene until May, 1907, the only member of the family not born in Marshall County.  In 1907 dad built a new barn and a few years later in 1914, a new house was built around the old house and we lived in both the old and new while it was being built.  This house and barn are still being used by the Drenths.  Many events transpired during my growing up which I will relate in later writings.

In 1919 Dad decided to retire and left my brothers and sisters to run the farm.  In the fall of 1919, Dad and Mother decided to spend the winter in Marshalltown visiting old friends and relatives.  It was while there that Dad became ill and passed away on December 21, 1919.  My sister, Nellie, and I went to Marshalltown, by train, two days before he died.  The day of the funeral, December 24, the temperature dropped to 38 degrees below zero and the warmest that day was 24 below zero.  It was cold and clear.  I was twelve years old at the time.

Dad and Mother and brother, Carl, are buried in the Liscomb cemetery.  Merl and Nellie are buried at Rock Rapids, Paul at Sac City, Genevieve at Seattle Washington and Frank at Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The above mentioned relatives, and especially, to my parents, I owe whatever I have achieved in this life.  As to my wife and children, I wish to dedicate the foregoing chapters of the past seven plus decades of my life.

Bruce Weatherly

 

Chapter 1

"EARLY LIFE IN RURAL SCHOOLS"

It was on the 27th day of May, 1907 that Dr. J.E. North of Rock Rapids presided at the birth of one later named Bruce.  Selecting a name for the newborn became quite a task as names had previously been found for the other six members of the family.  It was finally agreed to select my name by lot so each member of the family selected one name and put it in the hat.  The first two names drawn from the hat were to be my name, thus the name of Robert Bruce was selected.

The first four or five years were quite uneventful as they were concerned chiefly with the usual tasks of every youngster.  Chiefly learning to walk and to talk and eat and to get along with other members of the family.  At the age of four I realized I had no one at home my age as my brothers and sisters were at least ten years older.  In looking for companionship of those nearer my age, I would casually stroll down the road to the small white one room school, which was one quarter of a mile north of our farm home.  I would manage to get to school about recess time which lasted for fifteen minutes.  This would give me a chance to play with the neighbor kids my age as all kids within two miles of our school attended.

The teacher usually boarded at our home as we had a larger house and were nearer the school than the other farm homes.  Everyone walked to school including the teacher.  Some of the family kids attending our school included the John Gatelys, Leonard Bergs, J.A. Egertons, John De Haans, Gus Hofmans, John Keifers, Jelmer Freeds and the Frank Feikemas.  The Feikema boys (four of them) included Fred who later changed his name to Manfred when he became a famous writer.  These boys would cut across fields of our farm to our place and we would go to school together.

Referring back to my school visits as a four year old, I think the teacher felt sorry for me, as she said I could come in after recess and sit in one of the back seats of the schoolroom.  If the folks at home could not find me, they usually knew I was at school.  At first my wanderings to school were limited to several times a week but it wasn't long until it got to be a daily habit.  By the time I was five years old the teacher decided I might as well start in first grade, so I was enrolled.

My one year of "on the job training" gave me an advantage over the other first graders as I had listened and observed for the previous year.  I thought I was really growing up when I could take my lunch bucket with me and stay at school all day.  At noon we enjoyed trading sandwiches and other good things the other kids had in their lunch buckets.  (Poor kids today have to take what they get in the hot lunch line.)  Today's kids miss a rich learning experience by not attending the one room rural school.

When I was in the fifth grade, my folks decided to move to Rock Rapids.  When I entered town school I was advanced to sixth grade as I was further advanced in my studies than the town kids.  We only stayed in town I believe, one year, then back to the farm and the country school again.  This time, for one year, then back to town, advancing one grade again which accounted for the fact that I was graduated from high school in 1924 at age sixteen, the youngest to ever graduate here at that age.

One of my teachers in grade school was Katherine Feikema, a niece of Fred Feikema (Manfred).  She later married Clarence Eder, also a teacher and they taught in Owatonna, Minnesota for many years.  Other teachers in grade school were Don Collins, a Miss Lewis, and Florence Pendergast, who later married True Gilman, County Superintendent of Schools.  Mrs. Gilman was later Postmaster in Rock Rapids, after her husband died.

I don't remember that we ever dismissed school because of blizzards or bad weather.  Many times during a blizzard we would follow the fence line and walk to school.  As I grew older it was my job to go to school early and start the fire in the pot bellied stove.  It would be so cold in the mornings that the water in the pail would be frozen solid and unless you had a seat near the stove, you would leave your coats on until the room got warm, usually by ten or eleven o'clock.  The ink in the ink wells also froze so most writing was done by pencil.  This was alright as it gave us a chance to go to teacher's desk and sharpen our pencils and to get nearer the stove and warm up.

Families did not move as much in those days so the kids that started in school together usually stayed through all the eight grades.  In our school we usually had from twenty-five to thirty-two kids with someone in each of the eight grades.  It took a pretty good teacher to get along with that many kids for five days a week.

This concludes my experiences in the one room school, although much more could be said in it's favor.

 

Chapter 2

"THE 'GOOD' OLD DAYS"

I am sure our children and many of our grandchildren have not stopped to think about the many conveniences that we have in our homes today and when they came into being.  As a boy at home we had no radio or television as they had not been invented.  Our telephone was a large box like affair that mounted on the wall.  It was battery operated and had a bell and receiver.  When one of your neighbors wanted to talk to you, they would ring perhaps one long ring and a short ring.  This was transmitted from farm to farm by a copper wire strung on poles throughout the countryside.  When your ring was heard, you answered and as many of your neighbors as wanted to listen to your conversation could also listen if they had the time.  If you wanted to talk to someone in town you would crank out one long ring and a central operator in town would ask whom you wanted to talk to and she would ring that party from a central switchboard.  With this rural network of wires you could listen in and know what your neighbors were doing or get the latest gossip.  This network of telephones around here came into being around 1910.  D.K. Sheneberger was the lineman, I remember, however, a Mr. Wykoff preceded Sheny I am told.  Messages to be sent quite a distance would be sent from town to town by an operator using the Morse Code.  These operators were usually the local railroad agent.  This system was owned by Western Union or Western Electric in the midwest.

Our first auto was purchased around 1912 and was made by Mitchell Co.  The early cars had no top and were powered by either a two cylinder gas motor or a steam generated motor.  Most of them were gas powered with a chain going to the back wheels to propel the car.  Early models had no lights but finally a carbide light was invented.  No need for lights as the roads were nothing more than wagon tracks with grass growing between the tracks.  The early cars were a rich man's plaything.

Henry Ford did more to advance the auto industry than any other early company.  In his workshop outside of Detroit, he developed the Ford Model T.  This first two door roadster could be purchased for less than $500.  I believe the roadster sold for $395.  If you ever go to Dearborn, Michigan, go through the Ford Museum.  It is very educational.  Many auto companies sprang up in the early 1900's but very few lasted as competition was rough.

Central heating was unheard of.  Homes were heated by fireplaces and a crude cookstove in the kitchen.  The cookstove either burned wood or coal.  As a boy, I had to keep the woodbox full of the coal pail filled.  About 1910 Dad bought a hard coal stove.  This stove was in the parlor.  It had--glass windows in it so you could watch the red coals burn.  As a boy, we would sit around the hard coal burner in the evening and read or play games such as checkers or dominos.  No card games were allowed in our house as mother believed that learning to play cards was sinful and would lead to gambling.  When our new home was built in 1914, we had central hot water heat with radiators.  Instead of putting coal in the hard coal stove we had to go to the basement and put coal or cobs or wood in the furnace.  This was quite an improvement as we did not have to take our clothes to the kitchen and dress beside the cookstove.  This, of course, was while I was still small.

Our studying and reading was all done around a kerosene smelly lamp.  If the wick was turned too high to give more light it would cloud up the chimney and then had to be cleaned.  We usually had several kerosene lamps and my job was to keep the lamps full of kerosene.  No wonder we have so many people today with poor eyes because of the eye strain trying to study with the old kerosene lamps.  The gas lamp was finally invented.  It gave a much better light than the kerosene lamp.

About 1917, we installed electric Direct Current lights.  Fairbanks Morse invented a generator, gas powered, that would store electricity in a bank of batteries.  This was installed in our basement.  The house was wired and also the barns outside.  What a convenience not to have to do chores in the winter time carrying a kerosene lantern from barn to barn, and also to be able to read and do things without the kerosene lamp.  Most of the electrical appliances we have today were unheard of.  No electric mixer, toasters, washers, dryers, and many other things we take for granted today.

We made our butter in what we called a barrel churn.  The cream was put in a small barrel holding perhaps twelve quarts.  Then we would turn the crank of the barrel until butter was formed from the cream.

Our washing was done at first in a large tub with the clothes rubbed back and forth across a ribbed board.  If you rubbed long enough and the water was hot enough, eventually, your clothes were clean.  Then came the wooden washing machine, with a handle on one side.  By pushing the handle back and forth, it would rotate the washer and eventually clean the clothes.  Later models came with a gas engine and a pulley and belt to propel the washer.  When we needed water we went outside with a pail and pumped it from a well.  We also went outside for a walk through the evergreens to another little four by eight foot building that was well stocked with Sears catalogues and other reading material.  Of course, in the wintertime we did not stay long enough to do much reading.  We had a three holer so we could have company, one small hole for the little guys and two large ones.

It was not until 1914, when the new house was built, that we had inside plumbing.  We did not use the inside bathroom very much because all residue had to be drained to a large cesspool in the ground and the ground would not absorb it very fast.

There was a well and a creek on the back of our farm and we would haul water for the stock from this well.  No large water tanks, as we have today.  We had four large vinegar barrels and hauled them on a stoneboat, a flat deck with planks on two tree trunks, for skills.  It was about four or five foot wide and possibly ten or twelve foot long with water barrels on top of the sled.  This was pulled by one of our better team of horses.  Many times in making the daily trip for water, the wolves, coyotes and foxes would come and nip the heels of the horses, but they did not pay too much attention to the wild life as there was lots of wild life in the fields and pastures.

When I was ten or eleven years old I would cut across the field one mile east to the farm on the river that my brother Frank operated as a stock farm.  After the "Bonnie Doon" came back from Luverne and Rock Rapids at around 4:30 p.m. I would ride my favorite horse, Billy, to Lakewood, a mile away to get the mail at the Lakewood Post Office.  Lakewood, at that time, had two elevators, a stock yard, a hardware store, a lumber yard, a large grocery store, and a post office in the grocery.  The Heye Schnepfs ran one elevator and lived in the big house which still remains.  Several other homes were also in the community.  Many times we would take our cattle, hogs and sheep to the Lakewood stock yards for shipment on the Bonnie Doon Railroad to distant markets.  We  sold much grain to the elevators.  After the railroad was abandoned, the town gradually went out of existence.

To get to Lakewood, I would have to ride across the bridge over the Rock River.  On one occasion, in the spring of the year, I had been after the mail and on crossing the bridge on my return I could hear the chunks of ice hitting the piling on the approach to the bridge.  The bridge was creaking and groaning under the pressure of the high water and ice floes.  Billy was not sure whether he wanted to cross the bridge but I coaxed him across as we neaared the end of the bridge I could hear the approach giving way and as I looked back, the bridge was going down and floating down the river.  Had I been a minute later I would have been on the part that went down the river.  I guess the Lord was with Billy and me that trip.  It was several weeks before the bridge was repaired so we could again get to Lakewood without going around to Lakewood Farm crossing which added another four miles to the detour.

In the fall of the year it was fun to sit at the table with the Sears catalogue and make out the order for things that we would need during the winter.  In those days we could order staple groceries along with the overalls and other clothing needed for the winter.  As the order would come before Christmas, we usually let the folks know what we would like in our stocking on Christmas morning.  Any presents received were usually pieces  of clothing that we needed.  One of the most appreciated Christmas presents that I can remember was a sheepskin coat with a large collar.  This was really warm for the quarter mile hike to school every morning.  When the order came from Sears, the depot agent at Rock Rapids would send us a card and we had five days to pick up the order.  It was shipped by freight and was usually in a large wooden box.

I would usually go with Dad to get the order and we would go by bobsled as there was usually snow on the ground.  Dad would wear his full length racoon coat, the one that grandson, Steven Weatherly, now has in Sioux City.  I would bundle up and keep my head down below the top of the three box wagon.  It would usually take about half an hour to make the drive to Rock Rapids.  Dad would usually give me a nickel to spend while he was getting the box of freight loaded at the Rock Island depot.  I would usually spend the nickel at Phil Egberts candy store.  A nickel would buy quite a little candy in those days but I had to make it last until we came to town the next time, usually a week later.  A nickel was all I would ever get for spending money.  When we would get home with the big order, we would unload it at the kitchen door and then the fun began of unpacking that big box.

Many times I would ride to Rock Rapids with Dad or my brothers as we would take a load of grain to the mill which was located near the north end of which is now the city park.  This mill and the one across the road from where Roscoe Pettengill now lives, were owned by the Berkholtz brothers.  We would have our grain milled and made into flour and corn meal.  We usually tried to get to the mill by eight o'clock, as later the trade would come from surrounding towns as these mills were the only ones around for quite a ways.  Some said they would drive here from LeMars and Hawarden and from Minnesota to have their grain made into flour.  Those coming from that far away would stay overnight and go home the next day.  That made good business for the eight cafes and several rooming houses in Rock Rapids.  The livery stable east of the courthouse would care for the horses that stayed overnight.

My brother, Merl, did most of his shopping in Doon, and he would take me with him many times.  Paul usually went to Alvord and I would go with him.  Both of these towns did a good business in the early 1900's.

The railroads did a big business as we had eight passenger trains hauling passengers and mail and express.  My uncle George Weatherly would meet all of these trains as he had the contract with the railway express to pick up and deliver all express carried on these trains.  He had a large wagon, drawn with horses, and during my high school days I would help him after school and on Saturdays.  During the summer months there were times when he would take a few days off and he would let me take over and do all of his work while he was out of town.  The local bakery, operated by J.H. Frink, would ship out bread every day to surrounding towns.  The bread was packed in large wooden boxes, each box holding about four dozen loaves of bread.

On Saturday, I had to collect express bills which amounted to quite a sum of money, but I never had any trouble collecting.

I imagine that this experience in meeting all these trains had some influence in my later taking the exam for Railway Postal Clerk which I took right after graduating from high school.  It was not until July 1, 1931, that I made my first run as a Railway Postal Clerk, one year after Phyllis and I were married.  More about this later


Chapter 3

"HIGH SCHOOL DAYS"

Events thus far have taken me to the time I entered high school in Rock Rapids.  In the fall of 1920, Mother and I moved to a small apartment in the Kit Gardner home, that later became the home and office of Dr. J.C. Bishop, Osteopath.  This house was located on the corner of Main and Greene Street where now is located the Federal Savings and Loan office.  We lived here only a few months until Mother purchased a home at 908 West Main Street.  Here we resided through my high school days.  My first three years in high school were spent in the grand stone building, now torn down, on Carroll Street.  My class in 1924 was the first to be graduated from the present high school building.  My high school days were uneventful.  I went out for track, running in the distance relays and the mile run.  I sang in the men's Glee Club and the mixed chorus.  In 1921, Dr. O.D. Johnson, a dentist, organized a high school band, in which I played the mellaphone and later a French horn.  In my junior and senior year I entered the debate team and also declamatory in the oratorical class.  This I really enjoyed as I developed my talents in public speaking.  I was fortunate to win in my senior year, the Northwest Iowa Oratorical Championship and many debate meets.  This training helped in getting parts in many of the high school plays.  The most interesting  play being "The 13th Chair", a mystery play in which I played the part of the villain.  Our director was Celesta Pirwitz, who had much experience on the New York stage.  During the winter months, traveling plays would come to town and perform in the old opera house, now torn down.  It stood on the corner where the R.E.A. building now stands.  There would be traveling minstrel shows, and the Clint and Bessie Robins performers would come and stay usually for two weeks.

In the summer, they would come back and set up their tent where is now the swimming pool.  They plays they would present were those you could take the family to see.  Also, during the summer the Chautauqua would come to town for a week.  Usually, their tent would be set up in the vacant lot east of the courthouse.  This was after the livery barn had been torn down.  I remember one year when William Jennings Bryan was on the program along with many other famous persons of that day.  The Chautauqua lasted until 1925.  This date I remember as I had a job lined up with the Redpath Vawter organization out of Chicago, but due to hard times and lack of patronage they had to cancel.

Another local Thespian of this era was Hal Barber, who played in many of the local plays and also traveled with various companies.

During high school I batched quite often as Mother would go to visit a sister in Sac City and also my sister who married and lived in  Liscomb, Iowa. My friend, Ed Postmas, whose family owned a restaurant where Fuller's dry cleaning is now located, would stay with me nights.  We would cook breakfast at home, then at noon I would eat dinner with him at the cafe.  There were seven other restaurants in town at this time, and all seemed to do a very good business.  I remember a tragedy that happened one noon at the White Front Cafe on east Main Street.  I was sitting at the counter eating my dinner, when a shot rang out in the kitchen.  Turning toward the kitchen, I witnessed the wife of the cook fall to the floor dead and another shot and the cook had killed himself.  Some family argument I guess.  Needless to say, the customers left as soon as possible.

There were several saloons in town in the early 1920's.  I remember one robust farmer that would drive his ponies to town and tie them in front of the saloon.  He would then go inside and imbibe until he could hold no more and at about five o'clock, they would put this three hundred and fifty pound man in his buggy and turn the ponies loose and they would take him home, across the bridge and several miles southeast of town.  I often wondered how he kept from falling out of the buggy but never heard that he did.

During one of my summer vacations during high school I worked at a motel and store at Colorado Springs.  The camp had around eighty cottages where people would come from Texas, and other southern states, to spend the summer.  It  also had a landing strip where some of the business men would fly in for the weekend to spend them with their families.  A lodge, with a large fireplace, provided an assembly for many of the guests in the evening.  One of our guests was Will Rogers, the humorist and writer, who came and spent about two weeks in one of my cottages.  It was not unusual for Will, as he was known, to come to the lodge in the evening and sing and play his guitar and tell stories as only he could tell them.  Many times he would come to the store where I worked, just to visit as he liked people.  It was a real loss when a few years later, Will Rogers and Wiley Post were killed in a plane wreck while flying near the Arctic Circle in Alaska.  He made you feel as if you were a personal friend of his.

On one occasion when I was a senior, our basketball team played at Hills, Minnesota.  I took a load of fellows to the game in our car.  While at the game a blizzard developed.  We started home and got to Lester alright but when we left Lester we ran into a stalled car in a snowbank.  The car was crossways in the road and we could not get around it so we went back to Lester and the Great Northern depot agent told us we could sleep in the depot as they kept the fire going all night.  One of the Lester players, Bernie Weber, whose dad was the druggist, came home and saw our car at the depot, and he took us to his house to stay the rest of the night.  It snowed and the wind blew all night and Highway 9 was impassable.  We finally came home on the afternoon Rock Island train then went back to get the car several days later when the highway had been opened.  Our folks did not know where we were but surmized that because of the storm we had stayed at Hills.  All telephone lines were out so we could not call Rock Rapids and let them know where we were.

In the summer of 1920, Mother wanted to visit her Aunt Carrie Dryden at Gardiner, Montana which is the northern entrance to Yellowstone Park.  Aunt Carrie was a pioneer, and with her three sons lived in a log house in Gardiner.  We went to Gardiner by train, first to St. Paul and then by Northern Pacific to Gardiner.  This was the longest train ride either Mother or myself had ever had.  Aunt Carrie was expecting us and was at the train when we arrived.  We spent two months in this three room log cabin, one block from the Yellowstone river and enjoyed every day we were there.  The three sons, in their twenties, had a contract to haul supplies from Gardiner to the various camps in the park where the tourists stayed.  They owned three chain driven camps in the park where the tourists stayed.  They owned three chain driven camps in the park where the tourists stayed.  They owned three chain driven camps in the park where the tourists stayed.  They owned three chain driven Franklin aircooled trucks and would make the supply route every day to the various camps.  I was thirteen years old and would go along most every day.  There would be times when we would get a call that a certain camp had been broken in to by hungry bears and all food eaten so we would hurry to get more supplies to them as soon as possible.  Roads in the park were very poor and we had some close calls with the trucks but never any casualties.  The tourists that came to Gardiner by train were transported to the various camps by open Pierce Arrow buses.  Old Faithful Inn was very elegant as it had not been built but a few years before.  Camp Roosevelt was another camp that the bears would like to break into.  The food must have been better there than at the other camps.  As far as I know, the Dreyden family have all passed away.

We visited Aunt Carrie's grave site a few years ago.  It was on the top of a rock strewn cemetery at the northeast side of Gardiner.  A large iron fence had been erected around her burial place in memory of an early pioneer.  While visiting this cemetery, an electrical storm developed.  Because of the altitude, it seemed as if you could reach up and touch the lightning.  The clouds were so low we could almost touch them.  Torrential rain came so we left very soon.

Her log cabin home was purchased by the City of Gardiner and is now a tourist attraction.  When we were there several years ago, the door was open and her furnishings were all left in the house.  We could look in but could not enter.  It was quite a thrill to think that about sixty years before, I had spent several months in that same cabin.  It brought back many memories.  The large archway upon entering the park bears the inscription "For the benefit and enjoyment of the people".  Park headquarters have in recent years been established at Mammoth Hot Springs.  I have visited the park several times since by boyhood and always enjoy its beauty.  It is one of our finest National Parks.

I would like to devote a paragraph or two of this autobiography to the military service of our family.  From the time that grandfather J.C. Meyers fought in the Civil War, none of our immediate family, until the Korean War, had been to war.  Our son, Robert, upon finishing high school in 1950, enlisted in the Navy and served for three and one-half years in Korean waters on the air craft carrier, The Badoeing Strait.  Our future son-in-law, Henry Timmermans, also entered boot camp with Robert, as they graduated from high school at the same time.  He also served on a hospital ship as a medical corpsman on the Constellation.  Another son-in-law, Melvin Hamann, served with the Army in Germany.

During World War I, which we entered in 1914, my brothers did not serve as they were farmers and had families of their own.  Agriculture was essential, therefore, very few farmers were called to the service.  I was only twelve years old when World War 1 ended in 1918, but I remember the boys leaving for service and the stories connected with the war.  When the Armistice was signed in France, on November 11, 1918, a great celebration took place a few days before the real Armistice was signed.  We knew the war was nearly over so when the whistles blew during the night many people went downtown to celebrate.  Some very enthusiastic fellows set fire to the water tower where the Cargill elevator now stands.  It was used by the Bonnie Doon railway to provide water for their steam engines.  The old wooden tower made quite a fire but no one attempted to put it out.  The celebration lasted all night but by morning we found that we were a few days premature as the actual signing did not take place until several days later.  On November 11, the day was cold and snowy and we stood in the street in front of the Lyon Theatre and listened to patriotic speeches and the singing of war songs, church bells rang and whistles again blew.  The war was over and the boys would be coming home.  Many did not come home as the memorial on the Courthouse lawn later was erected giving the names of those in Lyon Co. that lost their lives.

In World War 11, at the age of thirty-nine, I was called to Camp Dodge for my physical.  I passed and was ordered to be inducted in June.  Although I had four children at home and my mother was living with us at the time, I made preparations to go but could find no one to take over my mail route as all of the younger men were all ready in the service.  Finally two days before I was to leave for camp, the selective service director, Elmer Wohlers, called to tell me that because of the manpower shortage at home, I would be deferred and would not have to go.  I guess the Army found the men in the forty year age bracket did not make very good soldiers so they were not too anxious to take us.  Thus ended my military career and it was not too long until the war was over.

Our family had always been a religious family.  We had Bible reading and prayers around the table, daily, thanking God for health and for providing for us.  My family in coming to Lyon County put their membership in the Christian Church in Rock Rapids and we attended its services regularly driving the six miles in all kinds of weather, many times we would take our dinner and we would have pot luck after the morning service and many times an afternoon service would be held.  Revival meetings would be held several times a year and it was at one of these meetings when I was ten years old, that I expressed my faith and was baptized by immersion in the old church in 1917.  I believe that a Rev. W.A. Parsons was the minister at that time.  Since then I have served in every church office and as Bible School Superintendent.  I am at present one of the senior elders.  I am very thankful that all of our children have found church homes in the communities in which they live and that they are raising our grandchildren in the church.  It has been said that "the family that prays together, stays together".  It is this faith in a Supreme Being that has made this nation strong and it is this same faith chat will carry each one of us through many of the rough spots of life.

 

Chapter 4

"DES MOINES  1925-30"

Now that I have finished high school, I faced the problem that every young person must ponder.  My being only sixteen I could not determine what I wanted to do with my life.  My minister, a Rev. Glen Crawford, helped me a great deal.  It was he who took me to Des Moines in the fall of 1924, to enter Capitol City Commercial College, where I enrolled in and completed a course in accounting.  This training helped me a great deal in later life.  A former pastor, Rev. Amos Burr, who resided at 1014-26th Street, near the Drake University campus, found that I was living at the Y.M.C.A. and he invited me to come and look at a room that one of the retired Drake professors had available.  This professor was a Dr. Crusenberry and his home was at 1010-26th Street, next door to the home of Rev. Burr.  It was a very comfortable room and I resided there while I attended Commercial College which was at 10th and Grand.  I had to ride the street car each day to classes but when classes were over I was back in the atmosphere of university life, which played a great part in my deciding later to become a teacher and enroll in Drake University.  One of the first things I did was to transfer my church membership to the University Christian Church at 24th and University Avenue.  Most of the Drake students attended this church.  Dr. Charles S. Medberry was its pastor and it was he who later married us while we were attending a State Christian Endeavor Convention  in 1930.

Through my church membership I came to know many people in the business world in Des Moines and also many of the students of Drake University.  I sang in the church choir and I taught a class of fifteen boys, ages 12 to 14, in the Church Bible School.  This church had a membership of around 1800 members, counting the students.  I was kept very busy with my classes at Commercial College and my work in the University Church.  I also became involved in the state organization of Christian Endeavor, which had its offices in the downtown YMCA.  It was through these contacts that I was selected to become chairman of a group of young people that traveled to Portland, Oregon for an International Christian Endeavor Convention in July of 1925.  We arranged for two special pullman cars, filled with young people from the state of Iowa, to go to St. Paul and there to become a part of a special train of nineteen cars of Christian Endeavourers from Minnesota and states east.  We traveled over the Milwaukee electrified railroad from Havre, Montana to Seattle, then a side trip to Vancouver, Canada and back to Seattle by boat from Vancouver.  Many of us had never been on a boat before, so this was a new experience.  It was a daytime trip and the scenery was beautiful and the meals delicious, although few of us could read the French menus.  We arrived in Seattle about dark and had hotel accommodations in the Singer Towers.

After sight seeing in Seattle we left by train for Portland where we stayed for a week.  Four of us stayed at a friends home and took the trolley to attend convention sessions.   Dr. Clark, the founder of Christian Endeavor, and a Dr. Dan Poling presided at the various sessions held each day in the large convention hall.  On the last day of convention it was quite a thrill to march in a parade with eighteen thousand other young people, through the streets of Portland, accompanied by various bands and floats from all over the United States.  After this parade the convention was over and we returned home our separate ways.

The three other young people and myself returned to Des Moines by way of Boise, Idaho, Ogden, Utah and Denver and Rio Grand railroad to Denver, Colorado and then home.  At a stopover in Ogden, Utah we stayed at a Methodist ministers home that had been owned by a wife of a Mormon official.  She was one of several wives of the Mormon but all she had was the home and she could not afford to keep this eighteen room mansion so it was sold to the Methodist Church to be used as a parsonage.  While guests of this minister, we went frog hunting in a swamp area where the city of Ogden received its water supply.  In about an hour we gathered over a hundred of the largest frogs I had ever seen.  The minister was an expert in preparing the frog legs for dinner and his wife knew how to cook them.  It was one of the finest meals we had on the whole trip.  The other three of our party were Walter Weissenger, who later became head of the New York Life in Minneapolis, and Clare Lockhart, whom Walt later married, and our state secretary, Bobbie Bowers, present address unknown.  It was a great convention and many lasting friendships were formed.

On arriving back in Des Moines, I was offered a job as teller in the Iowa Des Moines National Bank.  This was through a mutual friend, but after several months of being cooped up in a teller's cage, I decided this was not the life for me.  I wanted to go to Drake University but was short of funds so I went to Marshalltown and tried selling clothes for the Hub Clothiers.  This store later had a fire so I landed a job with Swift and Company as salesman.  This job I kept through the winter and then was offered a job in Chicago, with Swift but I turned it down.  I then went back to Des Moines and in the fall entered Drake University.  Mother came to Des Moines and we had a house at 907 63rd Street which was then the western city limits of Des Moines.  Merle Hay road, on which the present shopping center is built, was nothing more than a wagon trail going through pasture land.  There was nothing west on University Avenue except farm land and the Village of Clive.  How things have changed.

During this winter, my brother Paul, who had been on a large dairy farm a mile north of Sac City, became ill with diabetes, and he has taken in a coma, by train, to Iowa Lutheran Hospital in Des Moines.  Not too much was known about diabetes at this time but through insulin injections he was able to leave the hospital.  He was in our home for awhile before returning to Sac City to dispose of his dairy herd as he was no longer able to stand hard work.

After one year in Drake, Mother and I returned to Rock Rapids.  Paul was feeling much better by this time.  He had disposed of the Sac City farm and his wife and family were living in Sac City.  Paul came to Rock Rapids and he and I rented the Bill Carpenter fourteen acres west of where the Farm Store is now located.  We went into the dairy and turkey business and I raised chinchilla rabbits.  We retailed milk in town and fed the skim milk and commercial feed to the five hundred turkeys.  We shipped a carload of turkeys to Chicago at Thanksgiving time and received top market price which was 37c per pound at that time.  Paul wanted to get back on the farm again so he bought a farm in Mitchell County near Riceville.  He could have his family with him again.

I stayed in the dairy business awhile, buying milk from the farmers and pasturizing it and bottling it in the building now used by Kooiker Chevrolet as storage.  We also had a forty hole storage cabinet for ice cream furnished by Cresent Creamery of Sioux Falls.  We supplied the wholesale ice cream business as well as the milk business for the Rock Rapids cafes and stores.  Ed Dykhouse helped in the milk plant and the Dietz brothers made residential deliveries early in the morning.  Our dairy was known as the Hiland Dairy.  Milk sold for 10c a quart in 1927, delivered to the door.  Ed and I were still single and it was hard to have evening dates and get up at five in the morning.  The dairy was finally sold to Claus Reyelts.

I returned to Cedar Falls to get another year of college at Iowa State Teachers College.  This was in the fall of 1928.  I finally had enough credits that I could teach Agriculture and Manual Arts in high school, however, I wanted to study optometry so I enrolled at Northern Illinois College of Optometry at 44th and Drexel Blvd., Chicago.  I returned to Rock Rapids in 1930 and Phyllis and I were married June 17th in Des Moines.

After a Black Hills honeymoon we came back to Rock Rapids where I had a job with the White Eagle Oil Station that was operated by the Yappens and the Guarantee Oil Company.  This is the location at Union and Main which was known as Amaco Oil in recent years.  Shortly after our new station was opened in July, 1930, there was a terrific explosion at the downtown Guarantee Oil Co. across the street west of the now Post Office building.  Fred Yappen was killed in this explosion that was caused by gas seeping from a tank car, into the basement where the compressor started by Fred Stubbe filling his tires with air, ignited the gas.  Large storage tanks were blown across the street and into the house then owned by the Van Waagner sisters.  This house was on the corner where the post office now is located.  Paper money from the safe and cash register were found as far as three miles southeast of town.

After the explosion, I was asked to do guard duty at the site of the explosion to keep looters from the premises.  I remained at this job until a settlement was made with the insurance company which was sometime in the fall of 1930.  I then returned to the new station at Union and Main Streets.  In May of 1931, I received an inquiry from the Railway Mail Service, making inquiry as to whether I would receive appointment as a substitute railway Postal Clark.  I replied in the affirmative and made my first run to Cedar Rapids on July 1.  This was to be my headquarters for several years and we moved to Cedar Rapids in July of 1931.  We resided at 913 Center Point Road.  During this year, Marybelle was born at St. Lukes Hospital on September 16, 1931.  Mother Weatherly moved with us to Cedar Rapids.

During the time I worked with the Yappens in 1929, Ed Yappen, in partnership with Ira Swaffer, the Buick dealer, purchased an Eaglerock OX-5, two seater, open cockpit byplane.  The radial engine was water cooled and on a Thanksgiving morning, Dutch Fuller, the pilot and myself took off for a flight over George.  We failed to put antifreeze in the motor and this morning the temperature was at zero.  The hanger was heated and was located east of the city park.  The day was clear but cold with several inches of snow on the ground.  All went well until we started home.  I was at the controls and we were flying at around 3,500 feet altitude.  Suddenly the motor began to miss and sputter and on checking the temperature gauge, we discovered the motor was freezing up.  About three or four miles from the airport the motor quit completely.  We were fortunate to have enough altitude that we could glide to within one half mile of the hanger.  We landed safely in a stubblefield and had to tow the plane to the hanger to thaw it out.  I made several flights, with Dutch as instructor, until we tried to fly out of Murray's pasture, across from what is now the Champlin Terminal.  We had skis on the plane because of the snow and we were taking off but failed to get enough altitude to clear the fence.  The plane nosed over and was badly damaged, but no casualties.  This ended our flying as the plane was never repaired.  Dutch moved to another airfield somewhere in Minnesota, where he was killed in a plane accident.  Pete Holliday and Roscoe Pettengill and several other young men learned to fly in this same place.

During the period of time between 1925 and 1930 the nation was in a period of depression.  Jobs were very hard to get even for those with an education.  After I graduated from Commercial College, I found it was almost impossible to get work in Des Moines.  This was one reason I decided to get as much education as possible.  The Des Moines Register want ad page was very small.  I would go from business to business and the answer was the same.  They were either laying off help or were not hiring any new help.  When I started at Drake University, I waited on tables at the Bulldog Inn across from the campus.  The boss was very good to the students that worked for him.  He paid no money but we had all we could eat.  This was the only time I ever weighed 198 pounds.  I found, through a friend, that I could get a job hauling papers to Indianola every morning for the Des Moines Register.  The catch was that I did not have a car.  I came home for Thanksgiving and bought a Model T Ford in Sioux Falls for fifty dollars.

 I drove back to Des Moines and took the job hauling papers.  I had to get up at 3:30 a.m. and be at the paper office by 4 o'clock.  I would load the Model T with bundles of papers and take off for Indianola.  Arriving there, I would unload at the drug store, where the carrier boys would get the papers.  Then I would go back to Fort Des Moines where I had to put papers in about seventy individual boxes at the Fort.  I would usually finish by 7 o'clock.  This gave me one hour before my eight o'clock class.  The Register evidently thought I was doing a good job, as they offered me an additional afternoon motor route to Polk City and back supplying the farmers.  I left the office at 3 o'clock and was back by five, early enough to work for my supper at the Bulldog Inn.  For the two Register routes, I cleared about fifty dollars per week, which was good money for depression days.  Sometimes I would go to sleep in psychology class but Professor Blackburn knew the hours I was working and always gave me a passing grade.  During this time I was a member of the men's Glee Club which would usually practice two evenings a week until 9:30 or 10 p.m.  We made quite a few appearances.  Eventually the Bulldog Inn was sold so I got a job at Bishop's Cafeteria, first as bus boy, then to a counter job.  Here too we received no pay but did get our evening meal for two hours work.  One could get an education if they wanted to work for it.

About 1926, some members of the University Church were recruited to start a new church at 44th and College Ave.  This section of Des Moines was beginning to grow and we had no church there.  Our first building was a wooden tabernacle with wooden benches for seats and sawdust on the floor.  Our first minister was Rev. James T. Nichols, world traveler and lecturer and writer.  He was an interesting pastor and the church began to grow.  When the membership reached around one hundred some of us went back to the University Church to our work there.  Today there is a fine brick church with a good congregation at 44th and College Ave.  While at College Ave. I sang with a male quartette.  We would sing and conduct services for some of the smaller churches in and around the area of Des Moines.  It was good experience and a lot of fun.  At this time I was taking one class in the Drake Bible College so it gave me a chance to get some practical training.

When I did not have a car to drive home, I would do a lot of hitchhiking.  I could usually make it from Des Moines to Rock Rapids in about six hours or from Chicago to Rock Rapids in twelve hours and the people I would ride with would usually buy the meals.  Hitchhiking was no disgrace during the depression as many people did not have the money for any other means of transportation.  I became quite proficient in the use of my thumb and shanks ponies.  Several times, while in Chicago and out of money, I would get a job running the elevator or working in the cafe at the YMCA hotel where I had a room.

On one occasion I took a job driving a twenty-eight passenger commuter bus leaving Chicago at 5 p.m. and arriving at Dubuque about 9 o'clock, then sleep a few hours and leave for Chicago about 5 a.m. arriving back in the windy city about 8:30 a.m.  I usually had the same passengers most every day, with two passengers riding all the way to Dubuque.  Pickups and dispatch were made at Freeport and Rockford and other small towns along the way.  Most of the commuters would either read the evening papers or go to sleep.  I knew most of the regulars so if they were asleep when we stopped at their destination, I would wake them up.  The bus depot in Chicago was next door to the State Lake theatre.  My bus would be serviced daily in the bus garage and left in the front of the depot.  I had to be there at 4:30 p.m. to receive the riders that came from their offices at that time.


Chapter 5

"ENTRY INTO MAIL SERVICE"

Now it is time to relate some of my experiences during the time I served Uncle Sam as a railway Postal Clerk, starting in July of 1931.  As a young boy, I can remember the ads that appeared in magazines and newspapers inviting young men to enter the railway postal service and travel to see the country.  Travel we did, but we did not have time to see much country as we were busy sorting mail.  For the younger generation I will try and tell a little about our duties.  When I first reported at 6th division headquarters in the post office building at Cedar Rapids, I was introduced to the Chief Clerk, the examiner and other office help.  I was issued a large wall map showing all of the railroads and post offices in the state of Iowa.  I was also issued a pass for deadheading on railroads.  A thirty-eight bankers special that we had to carry on our person at all times when on duty, a railway mail badge, a scheme to study, and a box of cards, one card for each post office in Iowa.  Iowa, at that time had nearly 1,400 post offices and after three months of study, we had to know every post office and what R.P.O. train served that office and approximately what time of day or night the mail would be delivered.

This learning procedure was easier for me than for some of the twelve new subs, as I had traveled and hitchhiked over the state a great deal.  After learning the state of Iowa, we had to learn by the same process all of the towns in each adjoining state as many of our runs were into Kansas City, Omaha, Minneapolis, Chicago and St. Louis.  When we were not on the train working we had to study as we were examined every three months on a new territory.  We had no spare time, we were either working or studying.  At these case exams we had to be able to case our postoffices at a speed of at least sixteen cards per minute and accuracy of 97 per cent.  I made three or four runs to Sioux Falls on the Rock Island learning a little of what my duties were.  We had a crew of three leaving Cedar Rapids, with one clerk getting off at Spirit Lake.  Then two of us through to Sioux Falls.  If we went to Sioux Falls we would not go back until the next afternoon.  While the clerk getting off at Spirit Lake would go back the same day.  It was a twelve hour run stopping at every town from Cedar Rapids to Sioux Falls.  After about ten days the Chief Clerk then assigned me to a one man run on a small branch line on the Rock Island that ran from Muscatine to Montezuma in the morning and back to Muscatine in the afternoon.  We received and dispatched all classes of mail at each town along the run.

I was alone in the fifteen foot mail compartment.  After receiving the mail at each town we had to open the first class pouch and work all letter mail in a case in the end of the car.  After the first class mail was sorted I would open and work the parcel post and newspapers in a rack hung with sacks for each town along the line.  This finished all mail for the next town would be tied out and readied for dispatch at the next stop.  After two weeks on this run, I dead-headed back to Cedar Rapids and reported to the Chief Clerk's office.  I guess my work was satisfactory as I was assigned many one man runs after that.

The job of a substitute was to relieve the regular clerk when on vacation or sick leave.  My next assignment was on a one man run on a daily local from Davenport to Kansas City.  This was a new experience as I now had a thirty foot mail compartment and much more mail to work as the towns were larger and running into a city the size of Kansas City the mail was heavier.  The local would leave Davenport at seven in the morning and we would get in Kansas City about five in the evening.  All registered mail had to be dispatched and signed for at the registry office in the Union Station at Kansas City.  The government had a deal with certain hotels where the clerks could stay for seventy-five cents per layover.  We would pay the hotel, receive a receipt, and turn all bills for hotel and meals on our expense voucher every two weeks.  Then we had to wait another two weeks before being reimbursed by the government.

At five in the morning we had to get ready for the return trip to Davenport.  This run was six days work and the regular clerks would have seven days off, but we who were subs on the days off, if needed on some other run would be assigned where needed.  In between the one man runs I would be assigned to runs that had three or more men.  One such run that I worked a great deal was from Burlington, Iowa to Minneapolis on the Rock Island.  Our mail car, which was a sixty foot car, would be set near the depot and we would report one half hour before the train came in from St. Louis.  Our car was then attached to the train came in from St. Louis.  Our car was then attached to the train arriving from St. Louis and we proceeeded to Minneapolis.  On this run, one clerk would get off at Albert Lea, one at Owatonna and the remaining clerk to Minneapolis arriving about six in the morning.  Nearly all of the long runs were at night and we would not stop at the small towns.  Their mail would be sent back on a local train the next day.  Another of the longer runs was on the Milwaukee double tracked run between Marion and Omaha.  On this run we had three clerks all the way.  We made only three stops on this run, Tama, Perry and Manilla, then Council Bluffs and Omaha.  My job was to work parcels and newspapers and to kick off and catch mail at the small towns along the way.

After making a few trips I could tell by the click of the rails when it was time to go to the door and pull down the catcher arm, catch the first class pouch and kick off the newspapers and first class while speeding through towns at fifty or sixty miles per hour.  We left Marion around eleven p.m. when the train arrived from Chicago and arrived in Omaha at seven o'clock.  We would then eat breakfast and sleep leaving Omaha that evening at 6:00 p.m. and back in Marion at 2:00 a.m.  Phyllis would meet me at 2:00 a.m. as there was not transportation to Cedar Rapids at that time of the morning.  One morning she waited until about 3:00 a.m. for our train, not knowing that we had run into the back of a freight train at Atkins that had failed to clear the side track.  Our passenger train was not damaged too much but the caboose on the freight was wrecked and one conductor and brakeman in the caboose were killed.  Our train was detained about an hour.  Many trips were made on this night run from Marion to Omaha and back.

Another accident that happened was on the day run on the Milwaukee from Davenport to Kansas City.  We had left Liberty, Missouri, the last stop before Kansas City, when at 60 miles per hour, one of the drive wheels on the locomotive came off.  A big hole was torn in the side of the boiler and in three minutes we lost all our steam.  It was a miracle we were not derailed, although we were shaken up from the sudden stop.  Our conductor called Kansas City and a bus and truck were sent out to pick up passengers and haul our mail.  This road was double tracked so other trains could go around our wrecked steamer.

Another one man run that gave us some trouble was on the Northwestern line out of Mason City.  One week I would work nights from Mason City to Belle Plaine, Iowa and back to Mason City.  And the next week I would work from Mason City to Sanborn, Minnesota on the day run.

On a bright sunny summer afternoon, I was sitting in the park in downtown Mason City, when a large black limousine drove up in front of the bank.  Several men got out and all went in the bank except two who stayed at the front door.  This car was not over 200 feet from where I was sitting.  In less than five minutes all came out of the bank carrying bags of money.  It was then that I realized that a bank robbery had taken place.  This was just before 3:00 p.m.  There was no shooting and the car sped away.  In seconds the police followed in pursuit, but they did not catch the holdup car.  We later learned the Dillinger gang had pulled the holdup.  This was in 1932.

The track northwest of Mason City was in poor shape and quite often a freight train would derail and we would have to transfer around the wreck and get into a cold train on the other side and finish the run.  On one of these transfer points around a wreck we had a farmer meet us with a bobsled, as there was much snow and around 10 below zero.  We piled the baggage and express which included a corpse, as the wife of the Depot Agent at Fox Lake, Minnesota had died and her body was being sent to Mason City, on the hay rack when the team took off across the field.  The sled tipped over, spilling everything in the snow in the field and the team took off a quarter of a mile for home.  The farmer went after them but brought back another team and sled and we loaded up again.  We finally made the transfer about four hours late.  We arrived in Mason City about midnight when we should have been there at 6:00 p.m.  At 6:00 a.m. I was back at work again ready to make the same trip again.  It usually took two or three days to get a wreck cleaned up so we would not have to transfer.

On one occasion on a one man run from Cedar Rapids to Decorah, on the Rock Island line, we had the misfortune of being flooded out when a terrific rainstorm sent the Turkey River out of its banks, washing out the tracks both ahead and behind our train.  We were forced to park the train out in the country between Clermont and Elgin over night until the track was repaired the next day.  We went to Decorah twenty-four hours late.  A farmer living near by brought a fried chicken supper over to the train for the crew and the few passengers on the train and it was delicious.  The next morning he came with a good breakfast.    He invited us to his farm to stay, but we could not leave our train.  Around noon, the track was repaired temporarily and we proceeded to Calmar and Decorah staying overnight and going back to Cedar Rapids the next day.

One morning, in the fall of 1932, I went to the office to pick up my check and on the steps of the post office I ran into Lee Gillis who had been Superintendent of Schools in Rock Rapids, when I graduated in 1924.  I visited with Mr. Gillis a few minutes, and then told him I had to go to the bank to deposit my check.  He informed me that the banks were all closed due to Pres. Roosevelt's bank holiday.  All the money I had was my government check for around $75 and five or six dollars in cash and I was due to go to Omaha that night.  We needed groceries for the home and our neighborhood grocer agreed to keep my check so Phyllis could get groceries while I was gone.  Finally, Bill Phoebig, formerly of Sheldon, with whom I worked, advanced me $10 for expense money for my trip to Omaha.  After two or three days the banks again opened, and I could again get some cash.  I am sure the bank holiday was an inconvenience for a good many people.

During the summer of 1932 we moved to a larger two-story home that was available at 1618 J. Avenue N.E.  It was at this home that Robert Lynn was born on December 21, 1932.  My sister, Genevieve, and her two boys, Wilfred and Forrest Brush, were living with us at this time.  Robert was born during the Christmas season and I was very busy on the road at this time.  I was running between Burlington and Minneapolis during the Christmas season so I did not get to see my son until Christmas morning, although I went through Cedar Rapids every night.  I would leave the train for a few minutes and call home from the depot.  Everything was ok so back aboard the train and on to Minneapolis.  Because of the heavy mail load our train was running late.  I remember one trip, before Christmas, we arrived in Minneapolis just in time to unload, get a bite to eat, and start back to Burlington.  Normally, we would have had, about six hours to lay-over in Minneapolis.

During the summer of 1933, we were in a full fledged depression.  Regular clerks were not allowed vacation time and all government workers took a 10% pay cut.  Work for the subs was very slow.  Our Chief Clerk notified us that if we could get any other work, the government would give us a leave of absence and we could reinstate again when we recovered from the depression.  We moved back to Rock Rapids and I took over management of the Cities Service Oil Station in November of 1933.  I had two assistants, Clem Thiede and Les Wiggins.  We worked the business up to where we could make a living and that was pretty good for depression times.  Gas was selling for around 17 cents a gallon at that time.  We would take in produce or anything of value that customers had to trade as many people did not have money to buy gas.  By using the barter system, we increased our gallonage substantially.  There was a produce station across the street from our service station so we could turn our produce into cash quite easily.  We built our oil sales by selling customers oil at bulk price charge.  We had the only heated car wash with a power washer in town at this time, so we cleaned quite a few cars.  I remember one day before Easter we washed forty-nine cars, besides selling gas and other service work.  A very busy day.

On one occasion I had a very close call.  We were changing oil in one of Herb McCormack's big tractors and we had to run the front wheels up on eight inch blocks.  Wiggins was behind the wheel and I was in front of the truck arranging the wooden blocks for the front wheels.  Wiggins foot slipped off the clutch allowing the truck to move forward off the blocks.  This sudden impact knocked me off my feet and pushed me up against a brick wall, with the bumper of the truck pressing against my throat.  It seemed like minutes before Les could get the truck in reverse and back it up.  He could not see me sitting on the floor and he thought he had killed me.  This experience taught me to never get in front of a vehicle when the motor was running.  Aside from a good scare and a shaking up I was able to continue with my work.

In September 1935, the government notified me that I could again reenter the railway service if I wished to reinstate.  I did so and reported back to Cedar Rapids.  Les Wiggins took over management of the station when I left.  My family remained in Rock Rapids as I did not know what my future plans would be.  In December 10, 1935 I was appointed a regular clerk in the Chicago R.P.O. Terminal in the new post office building in Chicago.  I headquartered in the Ft. Dearborn Hotel, just a few blocks across the Chicago River from the post office.

Another remembrance of the depression took place one morning in the spring of 1933.  Our train had stopped for coal and water at Manly, Iowa which took about twenty minutes.  We clerks would take a lunch break at this time.  It was just getting daylight and the morning was warm enough that we had the door of the mail car open for fresh air.  I noticed a man and a boy of ten or eleven walk past the car door several times.  They had been riding behind the fender on the engine, as many did who didn't have money for transportation.  They had climbed down while the engine was being refueled.  Both the man and boy were well dressed so I knew they were not the usual hobos.  I engaged the man in conversation and found they had not eaten since leaving Chicago.  We shared our lunch with them and they told us how he had been a professor at Yale University, but due  to the depression had been furloughed.  His wife had recently died and he was taking his son to North Dakota to live with his grandparents until he could find work.  His money was all gone and he still had several hundred miles to go before he would reach his destination.  We clerks felt sorry for the man so we made up a sum of money to help them along.  As I remember it amounted to $20 some dollars.  The man took our names and addresses and with tears in his eyes, thanked us for our generosity.  We never expected to hear from them again, but several months later one of our crew, received a bank draft from the man we had befriended.  He had found a job in a bank in St. Paul and he repaid with interest the amount we had given him.  This was only one instance of the many that were down and out during the depression.  This man was determined to not let circumstances get the best of him.  Many others sold apples, shoestrings, and what have you, in our larger cities.  Just a few doors from where I stayed on Madison Street across from the Northwestern depot in Chicago were several storerooms filled with cots, where the down and outers could get in out of the weather and rent a cot for 10c per night.  Needless to say, the cots were always filled, some with alcoholics and others just down on their luck.  Yes, things were really tough for many in the depression of the early thirties.

In the spring of 1936 I was able to rent a furnished apartment in a duplex in Mt. Prospect where the family could be with me.  This meant that I would commute each night by Northwestern's commuter train the thirty miles to the post office.   This required around fifty minutes each way.  I had to punch the time clock at midnight and out at eight in the morning.  I would usually fall asleep on the way home, but our regular conductors would wake me up when we reached the Mt. Prospect station.  Occasionally, a new relief conductor would be on duty on Sunday mornings and several times I rode past my station before waking up.  Then I would stay on till the end of the line and ride home on the return train which would make me an hour late getting home.

At Thanksgiving time we took a few days vacation and came back to George and Rock Rapids.  On this trip home I learned that the rural carrier at Little Rock, a Mr. Hasche, had died and that there was an opening for this rural route.  In going back to Chicago I immediately made application for transfer for this rural route.  I contacted my Senator, Guy M. Gillette, and he contacted Harlee Branch of the Post Office department in Washington and in about ten days a transfer was made effective November 23, 1936.  I had three days to move the family and report at Little Rock for work.

Even as early as 1936 the government was beginning to take mail service off some of the branch line trains and put on star routes.  This was done as an economy move but it also was dooms day for some of the branch lines and eventually the trains came off.  I could see that eventually all surplus railway clerks  would be working in the city post offices.  I did not want to be stuck in a city post office and this was the main reason for my asking for transfer to the rural route.  I enjoyed my work and experience in the Windy City but it was good to get back to where our roots were and be able to breath the fresh air again.

From this time on, trains were taken off and this was the beginning of the end of the passenger trains.

The first Railway post office was put into use on August 28, 1864 between Chicago and Clinton, Iowa and 113 years later in 1977, the last two R.P.O. trains between Washington D.C. and New York City were abolished.  This marked the end of an era that many old timers will never forget.

My main assignment while in the Chicago terminal was to work Iowa letters although at various times I would be called to do road duty for someone that would call up sick at the last hour.  Frequent runs were made to Dubuque on the Illinois Central, one run to Buffalo on the Grand Truck Line through Detroit and Canada and several trips to Memphis on the Illinois Central.

The bad winter of '35 and '36, I did a great deal of work in the transfer offices at the various depots in Chicago, checking the count of mailbags on incoming R.P.O. trains.  Many trains from northern Michigan and Wisconsin were snowbound and would only come once a week or whenever the tracks were opened.  Sometimes I would be called to work at the postoffice at the Chicago airport.  This was always a rat race because of the frequency of planes coming and going.  My experiences at the terminal were exciting, but it was a relief to have a regular schedule after my transfer to the rural route.

My family has asked me to tell about one more experience while at the terminal.  I received a call to take a registered packet to the Lasalle Street Station for a departing train.  The last mail truck had left so I decided to walk the four or five blocks (which was against regulations).  About half-way there I noticed a man following me along dimly lighted Van Buren Street.  The faster I walked, the faster he walked until he almost caught up with me.  There was no one else on the street at this hour, so I thought that if the follower had robbery in mind, I had better do something about it.  I had the registered packet in my inside pocket.  Suddenly I stopped walking, unbuttoned my overcoat and pulled my .28 banker's special from its holster.  I stopped under a dirt covered street light and at a distance of about fifteen feet I told the follower that I was armed and that if he had anything in mind he had better act fast.  Upon seeing my gun, he turned and ran down the street from whence he came.  About that time an elevated train passed overhead and I continued my walk to Lasalle Depot.  I suppose if the officials had found out that I walked that night instead of having an escort, as I should have had, I would have been reprimanded, but luckily for me, they never knew.

One night in December, while walking along Canal Street from the Northwestern Depot to the Union Depot, at about 11:30 at night, a man came crashing through a second story apartment window, landing at my feet on the sidewalk.  A sober man would probably been killed, but this fellow was so full of alcohol that he never knew what happened.  I checked the man and found him still breathing so I dragged him a few feet into a doorway so he would not freeze to death, and then I notified the policeman on duty at the Union Station and he called the ambulance to come and get him to the hospital.  I never found out what happened but supposed a brawl which ended in a fight.  Whoever was with him never even bothered to check to see if their companion was injured or killed.  Quite often, when going for an evening walk along Madison Street, I would witness several murders usually at a bar or one of the flophouses along the street.  The victim would be dumped on the sidewalk and the police would come and haul them away.  The passerby was never bothered as long as he did not interfere.

This was another reason I was glad to get out of the city and back to the small town.


Chapter 6

"RURAL ROUTE"

When on November 23, 1936 I transferred to the rural route at Little Rock, Iowa I did not realize that I would be on this same assignment for some thirty-seven years.  The length of my route at the beginning was 46.7 miles and my annual salary was $2,140 plus .07c per mile daily for car expense.  At first there were only 6 miles of gravel.  The rest was dirt and un-graded roads.  In the spring of the year a Model A Ford was the only car that would go through the roads and sometimes I would get stuck in the mud and some farmer would have to pull me out with a team of horses.  There were times in the spring, after a road had been freshly graded that the clay would roll upon the front wheels so wide that I would have to get my spade and axe and chop off the rolls of mud so that the wheels would turn.  I always carried a five gallon pail with me so that I could fill up the radiator with water from the ditches and streams that I would cross.  If the good people on the route ever saw me stuck or in trouble they would come and help get me going again.  As getting the daily mail was one of the things the farmer really looked forward to.  Many times in the winter or spring of the year it would be dark before I would finish the route.  On November 2, 1957, my route was extended to 54.2 miles when I received part of the Rock Rapids route after Joe Creglow's death.  His route was eliminated through consolidation.  My salary had then increased to $4,970 as we were paid according to miles traveled.  In later years, through extensions to door or gate delivery the total length of the route was extended to 71.62 miles.  When I retired every customer except one had mail delivered to their gate.  Since then that one family has been included.  It was during the 40's and 50's that all the roads had been re-graded and all had been graveled.  By 1975 there was sixteen of the 72 miles blacktopped or paved.

During the war years I delivered many letters to and from service men to their wives and sweethearts.  I would usually honk the horn when I would stop with the mail and some member of the family would come running to get the mail.  I never had to deliver any death messages through the war years to which I was thankful, although some of the men were wounded and spent some time in hospitals.  As a rural carrier, you get to be very close to the families you serve.  Their many expressions of loyalty and appreciation were shown in many ways, especially during the Holiday Season.  Many days just before Christmas my car would be loaded with good things that my patrons had left in the box for our family.  It seemed like we would never be able to use all of the produce and meats and candies and various gifts left for us.  The farmer of the Little Rock community is the finest person in the world and I presume this to be true of every rural community.  Most of the families remained on the same farm, although several generations would grow up and continue to farm where their parents had farmed.

It is interesting in later years to see young people grow up, finish high school, then many go on to college, to become teachers, lawyers, missionaries, and other professional people.  One young man became a very high ranking officer in the Air Force.  He served all over the world and I presume by now is ready for retirement.  He was Richard Lonneman, son of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Lonneman, who recently retired and moved to Sibley.  I can recall only one family still living on the same farm as in 1936.  Many are occupied by sons or grandsons of former owners.

During my years as carrier on the route, mileage figures at 772,956 miles.  To attain this mileage I used twenty-five new and used cars.  My favorite make of car was Studebaker of which I had seventeen.  Others were Chevrolet, two Fords, two Ramblers, a Jeep and two Pontiacs.  In addition, each year I would wear out a used Model A as a mud car.  I could usually buy these Model A's for $50.  It was cheaper to get a different one each year than to fix up the old ones.  Eventually I had purchased all of the used Model A's in the community and by this time in the 50's my roads were all hard surfaced so I no longer needed the Model A's as a mud car.  I suppose I had eight or ten Model A's.

At retirement time I had received an award for thirty-seven years of safe driving without an accident.  This award was from the National Safety Council.  During the thirty-seven years I used only six days of sick leave and this for nothing more serious than a cold.  We were allowed ten days of sick leave each year and what we did not use we could carry over until retirement.  At this time I received credit for 3,128 hours of unused sick leave.  Vacation time each year was usually spent in travel, or we visited many interesting places in these beautiful United States.  I could write a book on the interesting places to go and things to see.  For many years we would include a visit to the Black Hills each summer.  This was one of our favorite vacation spots.

During the 40's when all the young men were in the service, I was unable to get a substitute to take over the route.  It was then that I persuaded Phyllis that she should learn the route so in an emergency I would have someone to take over.  By this time most of the roads were graveled and she only worked when the weather was good.  This gave me a chance to take a day off now and then and gave her a chance to build up her social security credits as the substitutes were under social security instead of government retirement.

W.J. Lindaman served as Postmaster until his retirement sometime in the early 60's.  Then temporary appointments were made to Leslie Kruse and Arlys Lindaman Kruse.  These were short time temporary appointments.  About 1969, we moved across the street to the former bank building and owned by John T. Kruse.  By this time Marvin Dammann had been appointed permanent Postmaster and is still serving today.  Many substitute clerks served in the office during the years, including Laura Isebrands, Myrtle Lindaman, Lorraine Meester, Faye Fischer, Elaine Solma Heidebrink, Marlys Freerks, Mrs. LeRoy Hindt, Pete Boekhour and Chris Siebsen Ver Steeg.

The mail was brought in by Rock Island train for many years.  In the late 40's the service became so undependable that mail was dropped from the railroad and Star Route service out of Sibley was started.

The contract for Star Route service was given to Wallace Hassebrock of Sibley for sound trip service to Sioux Falls and back daily.  This was dependable service as our mail was usually at the post office by 7:30 a.m.  This meant that I had to report for work a little earlier but I liked this schedule as the farmers could get their mail by noon and it gave me more time to work at home in the afternoon.

By 1973, I had worked in the postal service a little over forty-two years.  By now I could draw, on retirement, 80% of what my annual salary would be.  By working longer I could not add to my retirement pay so I decided to retire on July 1, 1973.  I told no one of my plans until the last day of service when I sent each patron a copy of the enclosed letter.  Of course, Postmaster Dammann knew as he had to make out my retirement papers, but he agreed to keep it quiet.

I wanted it this way, as knowing my patrons quite well, I knew they would want a big retirement party.  This I did not care for, however, a retirement dinner was hosted by the postmaster and office force at the Normandy in Sioux Falls.  We received many congratulatory messages, and many newspaper accounts were published regarding my retirement.  My substitute carrier for several years, Burdell Schneiderman, took over my route after my retirement.  About a year later he was appointed regular carrier and is doing a good job delivering the mail on Route 1.

This is what I included in my retirement letter to my patrons.

Dear Friends and Patrons:

After 42 years in the Postal Service (37 years as your rural carrier), we feel that the time has come when we should seek retirement.  It is with great regret that I must inform you, today will be the last time that I will be delivering your mail.

The past 37 years have been happy years, not always easy, but enjoyable.  I shall long remember the fine people of the Little Rock community of whom it has been my pleasure to serve.  I want to thank all of you for your many expressions of friendship to myself and family, especially at the Holiday Season, throughout the many years.

It isn't often that a person in public service, has the opportunity of serving three, and in several instances, four generations of one family.  It is really a joy to see the fine young people that a community can produce.  They are the hope of our Nation in these difficult times.

We wish the best for everyone of you, and whoever your new carrier may be, we trust you will give him the same fine support that you have given me.  The latch string will always be out at our house and you will always be welcome, so stop in and say "hello" when you have the time.

As to our future, we hope to keep busy and hope to do some traveling if the gas shortage doesn't get too severe.  In any event, we hope to see you from time to time.

Sincerely,

The Weatherly's

 

 

From the Reporter - June 16, 1973:

No more mail delivery by Weatherly

Bruce Weatherly has retired from the United States mail service.  On Saturday of last week he made his last run on the Little Rock Route which he has served for 37 years, and currently is just taking it easy.  He also served five years as a railway postal clerk.

Asked what he plans for the future, he smiles and said plans are not complete.  He will do a lot of work around his home, he likes flowers and gardening.  He will continue active in the affairs of the Christian Church (Disciples), he will do some traveling and then he says he'll probably "start looking for a job".

Bruce was born and grew up in the Lyon County community.  In 1931 he was appointed as a railroad mail clerk and spent five years working on various trains in Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota.  During those years he headquartered at Cedar Rapids.

During his years as a railroad mail clerk he estimates that he traveled a quarter million miles.

In 1936 he transferred from the railway postal clerk work to the rural mail carrier service and was given a route out of Little Rock.  When he started the route was 47 miles long, and only six miles of that route was even surfaced with gravel.  Today the route is 71 miles long, plus the 30 miles a day he drove to and from Little Rock.  In the years he has been on the Little Rock route he has traveled about a million miles and has worn out a lot of cars. 

Many interesting things happened during the time I served as rural carrier.  One day, on opening the mail box at Albert Lonnemans, a swarm of hornets flew into the car.  I thought I had them all out of the car but as I drove away I discovered some had taken refuge up my pants leg.  In attempting to kill them I failed to stop the car and before I knew it I had driven off the road.  The car tipped on its side and I had to crawl out the car window.  The Beek boys came with a tractor and it wasn't long until the Studebaker was back on the road.  After adding fresh oil and water, we were again delivering mail after about one half hour delay.  No damage to the car, but I had some hornet welts on my leg which were quite painful.  After this episode I always stopped the car when dealing with hornets.

Much could be written about Iowa blizzards but anyone traveling Iowa's roads in the wintertime is quite familiar with the inconvenience of such weather.  Some of the really bad winters were 1935-36, 1936-37, '48, '52, '62, '68` and '69.  Many days I would follow the snowplow as roads were impassible otherwise.  Many days a 72 mile route developed into a 90 or 100 miles of driving to reach most of the patrons.  I did much walking in earlier years as I did not like for anyone to go more than two days without their mail.  Spring floods and high water necessitated my piling the mail on the seats as water would sometimes come in the floor boards of the Model A as we went through roads that were being flooded.

Even with all of these inconveniences I would not have traded my rural route for any other job in the postal service.

 

Chapter 7

"YEARS AFTER RETIREMENT"

About three months after I retired, I was asked by Wallace Hassebroek, star route carrier, if I would help him, hauling the mail from here to Sioux Falls.  As I had nothing else to do, I agreed to take the route.  Hassebroek would load the truck at Sheldon each morning and drive to Rock Rapids.  Then he would go back to Sibley and do his farm work and I would finish the route from here to Sioux Falls.  If I stayed in Sioux Falls I would have a six hour layover with nothing to do so I would return to Rock Rapids and go back and get the afternoon mail at Sioux Falls leaving at 3:30 p.m.  Some days if Wallace was busy and could not meet me here I would go through to Sheldon and unload there.  Then I would deadhead back to Rock Rapids.  This I did for two years until Wally's son, Gary, graduated from high school.  He then took over the route, with my working only when he wanted time off.

From retirement time we did a great deal of traveling to all parts of the United States and Canada.  These troops were made with Allied Tours of Sioux City traveling by chartered bus.  These trips were escorted by John and Ann Kracht of Rock Valley who were very congenial hosts.

Our first trip was to the World's Fair at Spokane in 1974, then on to Tacoma, Vancouver, British Columbia, Lake Louise, Calgary, Winnipeg and then home.  This trip was very enjoyable, as on our over night stop at Tacoma, we were able to meet with our nieces and nephews that resided in the Seattle area.  I had asked one of our nephews to get the gang together and we would have dinner together at our motel.  This he did and when our bus arrived many of them were at the motel to greet us.  Others kept arriving and by 7:00 p.m. when we sat down to dinner in a private dining room, there were thirty-four of us.  This was a great treat as some of the relatives we had not seen for nearly forty years.  We visited and ate until nearly midnight and everyone had a grand time.  Since then, three of the group have passed away.  We were so glad we had this opportunity to meet with them and spend a few hours together.

The scenery on this trip was beautiful.  We visited the Buchart Gardens at Victoria, B.C. then ferried to Vancouver where we spent two nights and toured the city.  Vancouver is quite a cosmopolitan city.  Our guide told us that he had eaten in thirty-six cafes, each run by a different nationality.   He still had four or five more to visit.  The scenery in the Canadian Rockies is more magnificent than in the United States.  We took many slides on each of our trips so we can relive the events whenever we take the time.

Our next trip with Allied was again across eastern Canada to Nova Scotia in the fall of 1975.  This was a fall foliage trip and the color was again beautiful.  We traveled to Duluth, then the north shore route of Lake Superior, to Montreal, Quebec City, around the Island of Nova Scotia, Halifax, St. Johns, New Brunswick, then through New England entering at Maine, crossing the state of New Hampshire, Vermont, crossing Lake Champlain by ferry and into New York state, then to Detroit, visiting the Ford Museum at Dearborn, through Chicago and back home.  Niagara Falls also visited.  At the conclusion of this trip we had been in all of the southern provinces of Canada.

In May and June of 1975 we toured to Hannibal, Missouri, Smoky mountains of the Carolinas, Williamsburg, Virginia via steamship from Mt. Vernon to Washington, D.C. where we toured our Capital City, then to Gettysburg, Akron, Ohio visiting Rex Humbards service on Sunday then to Chicago and home.

In April of 1976 we went to New Orleans, via Kansas City and Memphis then to Piney Woods, Mississippi out of Jackson, then to Gulfport, then to Bellingrath Gardens and to New Orleans, for several days.  Took a tour of the battlefields at Vicksburg, also Natches, then to Pine Bluff, Hot Springs, Little Rock, Arkansas then to Shepherd of the Hills country at Bronson, Mo. and back to Independence and home.

In November of 1977 we signed with Allied for a tour of Hawaii to be made in February of 1978.  This was to have been a four island tour, however, in January of 1978, I had the flu and pneumonia and we had to cancel as I was unable to make the trip.  Now that I am feeling much better I am thinking about places I would like to go, however, with the energy crunch and inflation I think our travels are about over.  I am thankful that we were able to see and travel as much as we did.  We liked traveling by bus as we always had a congenial group to travel with.  The motels and food were excellent.  The bus drivers were congenial and we always had a good time.  I would recommend this way of seeing the country for any of our senior citizens.

As we bring the events of the past seventy-three years to a close, I would say that my philosophy on life would be to live each day to its fullest.  Have a goal in life and strive to attain that goal.  Select a help mate that will share your goals with you and if you are fortunate enough to have a family, respect them, give them the best that you can in all things honorable, and they, and their children will bring you much comfort and joy in your later years in life.  This we have been able to do and as we witness our grandchildren grow and develop into young men and women, we can't help but believe that we did some of the right things in molding the lives of our children.

We look forward this June 17th to our 50th wedding anniversary.  We hope it will be possible for our four children and sixteen grandchildren to spend the day with us and make it a memorable occasion.  Someone asked me not long ago, if I had the last fifty years to live over would there be any changes made.  I replied that  I did not think so, as I was very happy with my life.  I had a good job and a good family.  Who could ask for more?

 


 

AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF

PHYLLIS SUDENGA WEATHERLY

On the 10th day of March, 1908, a daughter was born to Mr. and Mrs. Philip Sudenga in George, Iowa.  That was sort of a disappointment as dad was hoping for a boy.  They already had two girls, Theresa Siebenna who was born on September 3, 1900, and who later married John Smid, and Anna Jane who was born on October 25, 1903.  She married Willis Larson.  Both are now widows and living in George, Iowa.  They worship at the Evangelical United Methodist Church.  At that time it was known as the Evangelical Church which my parents also attended and where I was baptized as an infant.  Our two brothers, Folkert, later Floyd Harm and Jay G. were born September 26, 1911 and October 15, 1917 respectively.

Now I'll take you back one generation to my Grandpa and Grandma Sudenga who first lived in Emden, Germany.  They were Folkert and Tietje Bruns Sudenga.  They had one daughter Siebenna who married Eilert Wibben and three sons, John, George and Folkert and later Philip who was born June 24, 1875.  They came to the United States when my father (Philip) was eight years old.  They settled first in Freeport, Illinois in 1883.  They often told us of getting the tail end of the blizzard of 1888.  They came on west a little later and settled in George, Iowa where grandpa had a blacksmith shop and shoed horses.  He died before I got to know him and grandma lived with us I am told but I remember her only when being lifted up to see her in the casket.

My mother's parents lived in Schaller, Iowa.  Grandpa Busker, Jacob G. was a cattle buyer and they came to George, Iowa when my mother, Kate, who was born November 4, 1877 and her three brothers, Mike, John and George were young.  Grandpa and Grandma Busker were divorced and Grandma married one of grandpa's hired men and moved to Marengo, Iowa.  They came to visit some and we went there.  They had one son, Fritz Jensen and two daughters, Rose Jensen Patterson and Anna Jensen Bean.  My mother, at the time of the divorce had only reached the fourth grade in school.  Grandpa took her out of school and she had to keep house for the rest of the family.  Years later Grandpa remarried but it was too late for mama to go back to school.  My mother and her brothers had to go out and work for their living.   One of the places mama worked was on one of the McGuire farms on the George-Edna road.  The log cabin in the Westside Park of Rock Rapids was moved in from this farm and donated by the McGuires.  My mother remember the cabin from where she worked out there.  The Buskers had four children by this marriage.  They were Adelaide (Ada) Busker Satello, Bert Busker, Peter Busker, and Mathilda Busker Thatcher.  They are all deceased and buried in California in Pasadena except Clara, the wife of Peter, and Ralph, Jr. the son of Ada Satello, and Ralph's two children.

My mother, Mary Katherine Busker, married Philip F. Sudenga when she was twenty-one years of age.  My father became a blacksmith and carried on the trade of his father.  Later when cars became popular and there were fewer horses being used to be shod, my dad learned to weld and was in business with his brother, George, as Sudenga Iron Works.  I can remember going into the shop and watch papa shoe horses.  We were living in a little house close to the shop.  When I was just a little tyke they built a larger home which is where I spent my youth until I married.  It was built beside the old house in which we were living.  I was told that I climbed way up the ladder by the new house and couldn't get down.  I don't remember the incident and don't know how I got down.  The old house was moved a couple blocks east and is still there but remodeled.

My father's sister, the Eilert Wibbens, lived on a farm northwest of town.  My Uncle John lived south of town and Uncle George lived in town one block east of where we lived.  Uncle George was a car dealer along with a repair shop known as Sudenga Motors Ford dealer.  I remember one noon, my Uncle George took my brother, Floyd and I for a little ride in one of the first cars in George.  It had just one sea for two, no doors and was painted red.  We turned to go across the railroad track and saw a train coming not too far away.  My uncle turned quickly to the left into a ditch.  I was thrown out and the car ran over my legs, but no injury.

My father was very interested in steam engines.  He would like to have been a locomotive engineer on the trains.  He did run a threshing machine for awhile and threshed for the farmers.  When the Stanley Steamer cars came out, he naturally purchased one.  Before we went any place, dad had to go out and build a fire under the car to build up steam.  It was a very quiet running car.  It was about the only car like that in town.

My father had this welding plant until his sons, Floyd and Jay, were old enough to take over.  By that time my father was unable to do very much.  The Welding Plant is still there, one block south and one block east of Main Street, as is the home in which we lived.  While dad was still living, the boys had suggested that they go into manufacturing but he couldn't see it.  "It will never work: he said.  But since his death the boys developed The Sudenga Industries" located northeast of George two miles.  Floyd and Jay have retired now having sold the business to several of the employees but it still remains The Sudenga Industries.

My father was a stern, strict man.  He wanted obedience.  On the other hand he enjoyed walking with us and our friends after supper a mile south of town to go ice skating.  We didn't have shoe skates then.  Our skates were fastened to our shoes and if we needed ankle braces, dad welded some snips of iron to the bottom of the skate and they were brought up beyond the ankle and fastened around the leg with a strap.  We built a fire by the river to keep warm.

My mother was very kind and patient.  We played basketball up in the attic sometimes.  Floyd had fastened a small barrel hoop up on one of the rafters and six to eight kids would be up there playing.  Now that would be noisy.  Also, when mama would be getting supper, walking back and forth to the stove and back to the cupboard or table, Floyd and I would be tossing an eight inch diameter ball around and above her, but not a word did she say.  I know I couldn't have taken that.  I had dad's nature, with a nervous tension.

My brothers and sisters and their families are included as follows:  Theresa S. was married to John E. Smid.  They had one daughter, Marcelyn J.  Her father is deceased and she is a librarian in St. Paul's Bible College in Watertown, Minnesota.  Theresa lives in George, Iowa.

Anna Jane was married to Willis Larson.  They cared for over thirty boys and girls in their home while in Kansas City.  They legally adopted Daniel as an infant.  Their last address was Charlotte, North Carolina.  They were on their way to George, Iowa to visit and got to his sister's home in Corning, Iowa when Willis became sick and died in the hospital there.  Their son, Daniel, served in the military service and was highly employed in Chicago.  He was killed on the way to work at a very young age leaving his wife and little girl, Sherri.  Anna now lives at George, Iowa.

Floyd Harm married Agnes Johnson, a local girl of his church.  They have three daughters, Floydelle McKay (goes by Kaye) who married Willard Nieuwendorp.  They have one boy and two girls and live near Sheldon on a farm.  Sharon married Keith Culver and has three children.  They live in Houston, Minnesota.  Beth Elaine married Rod Hulstein and has two children.  They live on a farm at Melvin, Iowa.  Floyd and Agnes live in Mesa, Arizona part of the time.

Jay G. married the minister's daughter, Dottie Ziegler.  They have two daughters, both living in Houston, Texas.  Joan married Lance Davies.  They had two daughters.  Peggy married Jim Monkemier.  They have one son and one daughter I think they manufacture swimming pools.  Jay also owns a home in Mesa, Arizona.

There were no grandsons to carry on the "Sudenga" name from our immediate family.

 

MEMORIES OF CHILDHOOD

I have many memories of my childhood.  My first time on the stage for a Children's Day program for Sunday School was when I was three years of age, sang a solo, "How would you like to go up in the swing, up in the air so blue, Oh, I do think it's the loveliest thing ever a child can do".  The tune still rings in my ears and I can still see myself running down to my seat before I was through singing.  We had very nice programs those years and I had a part in many.  We walked down the railroad tracks to find wild flowers to make wreaths to wear in the plays and pantomimes.

When I was twelve years old, I received a violin for Christmas and took lessons from Rev. Karl Kaup, our minister who came from LeMars, Iowa every Saturday by train and stayed in our home.  I had learned to play piano previously by figuring it all out by myself.  Theresa, my older sister, who was taking lessons showed me how to read the bass clef.  After school, I spent a lot of time in the parlor behind closed doors, playing the piano.  Sometimes I was interrupted to go downtown for mama, perhaps to get a quarters worth of sugar.  I came home with the sugar in a brown paper sack tied with a string, a pretty good amount for twenty-five cents.  Later, I learned to play the mandolin and saxophone by myself.  I played in the church orchestra along with my sisters and the school orchestra which my father directed.  He played the cornet.  We played for the school plays, etc.  It wasn't until I was a senior that the school organized instrumentation.  We had Glee Clubs and sextets, but no band.  They did ask me to play a violin solo for contest in my last year of high school but I refused, knowing I was not that good.  In my last year, 1926, our Girl's Glee Club got to go to the state contest at Iowa City.  We went by train and that was fun.  When I was in the sixth and seventh grades, I played the pump organ for our opening songs.  I guess I was the only one who could.

My sister, Anna, learned to play piano by herself also, but went to Moody Bible Institute and there learned to be an Evangelistic Musician.  She met Violet Heefner there and the two went out as an Evangelistic team with Violet as the preacher.  They traveled all over the United States in cars until 1941 when Anna married Willis Larson.  They had many hectic experiences.  Theresa has been pianist, then the organist for her church all these years and Anna is pianist for the evening services.  Floyd and Jay play instruments also and sing in a quartet, "The Gospel Four".  They traveled a lot when they were younger to put  our programs and still go to the Gospel Mission in Sioux City once a month with Anna as pianist.  Now I must not forget mama as she played the pump organ before we had the piano and then I suppose we kids took over and she didn't get a chance.

While I was still in high school, I had a friend who was three years younger.  She was Elfrieda Mulder.  Her father bought her a ukulele and I was learning the mandolin, so we got together and played and sand hymns and the popular music of the day.  We called ourselves the "Melody Twins" and played for a few special occasions.

While I was in the lower grades in school I can remember studying around the table by lamp light, but in a few years we had electricity and what an improvement that was.  Pretty soon we had a telephone on the wall.  We had to turn a crank to get the operator and she would say "Number Please?"   She then called the number for us.

I entered the public school at six years of age going into kindergarten, but after the first semester, they placed several of us into first grade and the next year into second.  Soon the school was too crowded and needed more room.  My first church was located across the corner from the school, now the Old Park.  Our church had purchased the Methodist church three blocks north.  So the school bought our first church and moved it to the last street in the north end of town to be used for the fifth grades.  It is now used for a residence and Merle and Irene Weatherly lived in it for awhile when they lived in George.  The school put a temporary partition in it and I attended fifth grade in the south room.  I remember when the north wind blew real hard, the partition would bulge way into our side as though it would break through but it did not.  The local Mrs. Clarence Isebrands (Miss Rundle) was my teacher.  I went back to regular school for my sixth and seventh grades.  I  remember ice skating to school a couple of days because of icy streets.

My first year of high school started in the new school east of town in 1923 with a new Superintendent.  I had B.L. Troupe all the years so far and because of an operetta that I was in, in which I was "Mother Nature", he called me Mother Nature for a long time.  I guess he thought I had done a good job learning my part which was quite a bit to learn.

We had a large tank up in the attic of our home up to which we had to pump the water from the cistern.  Theresa and Anna started and then when we younger ones got old enough to pump we had to take our turn.  Usually every Saturday morning we did this.  Floyd and I later Jay made a game of it.  There was an old bed spring in the basement so we pulled that over to the pump and took turns pumping one hundred strokes while jumping on the bed spring.  When the tank got full it ran over onto the kitchen roof and when mama heard it, she called down to us "running over!"   Later on dad had an electric pump installed.

Before the streets were blacktopped they were graveled and had ditches along the sides.  Sometimes the snow melted and made nice water puddles along our whole block and then it would freeze.  We ice skated or would take turns pushing each other by couples, riding in a big wooden box four foot square that Floyd had fastened on the sled.  We could play out on the street a long time by the street light.  There were hardly any cars to bother us.

One summer I spent a lot of my spare time sitting in the clover patches and I found one hundred four leaf clovers.

Sometimes we took babies out in their buggies for the mothers and we were responsible for them for the afternoon.  The mothers must have trusted us.

There was a trapeze in the tree west of the house and I would swing in it learning to do lots of tricks.  My sisters did not like the idea.  My bloomers were showing!  We put on a circus one afternoon and I was the trapeze artist.  I wore some gray flannel bloomers, a blouse of some sort and mama's black sheer scarf flowing behind as I did my tricks on the trapeze.

The year I was sixteen and my brother Floyd about thirteen, we painted our big house.  It was two stories and had gables in the attic.  Thinking about it now, I do not know how we accomplished it.

I always liked it when we had a blizzard.  School was never dismissed for it.  The country kids came in if they could.  We got to take our lunch with us then and mama always included a hard-boiled egg.  We all ate in one room and when finished we could use the blackboard for tic-tac-toe and other games.

When we dressed on the cold mornings, we sat on the oven door while mama was getting breakfast.  We wore long underwear, long black stockings, flannel bloomers, a petticoat and dress plus long button-up black leggings when the snow was deep and then our overshoes plus coat, cap, scarf and mittens.  The drayman, Charlie Harms would come at dismissal time and take home all those who lived any distance.  I always got on but can remember a fear that I had that he would not know where I lived to let me off.

Usually it was Saturday, but sometimes before school, that we had to walk to the creamery two or three blocks east of home and get a bucket of buttermilk.  Mama made a soup out of it and so good.  It had to cook for two hours slowly on the old cook stove.  We broke bread into the soup and  then sugar on top of it.  Haven't had any since those days.

When jello came on the market, mama would fix a bowl of it with bananas in it and we had to take it to the basement to congeal in a pan of cold water on the floor.  It was not long and we had an icebox.

A lunch that I always liked to fix after school was to take a slice of mama's homemade bread and hold it over the water pail, take the dipper and pour water over the bread and then douse it with sugar.  I have not had that since the water pail went out along with the outside pump.

The first washing machine I can remember, mama had to push a stick back and forth to make the gyrator go around until dad put an electric motor on it.  We still had to turn the wringer by hand though.  I can remember one morning helping mama turn the wringer.  I wanted to get finished as soon as possible as Bruce was coming.  We were going to Sioux City to attend a concert by John Philip Sousa.  We also went to Sioux City one day to see the Passion Play on stage.

Every once in a while we would go to visit Uncle George Busker and Aunt Ethel, mama's brother, at Sioux City.  We left after school on Friday and we stayed until Sunday afternoon.  We looked forward to it all week and hoped it would not rain because the roads were not all graveled yet.  They would return the visits and spend the weekend with us.  I can remember that they were there the weekend we were deciding about our wedding.  I became acquainted with a neighbor girl there, Kathleen La Notte, whom I have not seen since.

When the little girls got to be a certain age, for Memorial Day or as we called it, Decoration Day, they used eight to ten girls to march around the cemetery behind Mr. Marshall to place bouquets on the military graves.  I was one of those girls a couple of years.

When the Chatauqua came to town and located in a tent on the school yard, I was one who sold tickets for them and was honored on the last Sunday afternoon performance.  I had to go up to the platform.  I think we sang a song or two.

In the winter we enjoyed the Lyceum Courses.  They performed in the opera house with their real clean comedy.  Dad always enjoyed those and took us to a few.

In the summer we had Evangelistic tent meetings which were real fundamental and the music was so good with all churches taking part.  It was at a special meeting in our church with Rev. Deedrick as evangelist, that I went forward, knelt at the altar and made my commitment to Christ.  Through the years it has meant much to me to be in His service, using the talents He has given me.  I was raised to always attend church on Sunday and that is what Sunday means to me now.  I am there unless sickness prevents.  There have been reasons other than sickness, but not very often, that we had to miss.

There was roller skating in the Opera House and I went a few times but one Thanksgiving Day I wanted to go but my dad said "no" and I was unhappy.

My sister, Anna, was on the basketball team when in High School and she was a good forward.  They played in the Opera House too.  All school functions took place there.  I remember an operetta that I took part in when I was in the eighth grade.  I was "Queen Mab".  A gymnasium was included in the new school located east of town, in which I started High School in 1923.

When I was in the sixth or seventh grade I would sometimes walk home, two miles south, with my cousin Josie on Friday after school and stay for the weekend.  On Sunday we came in for church and Sunday School.  Sometimes we rode with my cousin Alvin who had a real foxy horse and a nice buggy.  We would then ride home again.  I did not like riding behind that horse very well.  It was exciting to go out to the farm and Aunt Emma was one of my favorite aunts.

Late one afternoon a thunder storm came up and it rained real hard and left a large water puddle across the road by the depot.  The storm seemed to be all over, so Floyd and I ran over to the puddle and were enjoying wading in the deep water when all of a sudden there was a loud clap of thunder and lightning at the same time.  We saw a big ball of fire on the telephone wires and it did not take us long to get back home.

I was always fascinated by Indian lore and felt a romanticism when seeing pictures of Indian braves and maidens.  After Bruce and I were married quite awhile, we found out that his great-great grandmother on his Mother's side was an Indian Queen.  We are kind of proud about that.

When I was a junior in high school I was in another operetta called "Captain Crossbones".  I took the part of a teacher, Miss Pelling.  Our senior class play was "Charm School" and again I took the part of a teacher, Miss Hayes.

 

GRADUATION DAY AND WEDDING

Our class of 1926 was the largest class so far.  We had twenty-six members but there were two boys who did not get the full number of credits so they did not get their certificate.  We felt real bad about that.  That left one boy to graduate with twenty-three girls.  We did not have proms, just banquets.  After the banquet, Ben Bruns, the only boy to graduate walked me home at around 9:00.  We had all received a flower at the table and on our way home, he gave me his.  My first little thrill!

I worked in the bakery for about a year after graduation.  I would have liked to go on to college for teaching music, but I knew dad could not send me so there was no encouragement.  In the fall of 1927, I went to work in the telephone office, "The Central West Public Service: as bookkeeper.  Sometimes just for fun I would sit at the board and answer the call and say "number please" and ring their number for them.  The Bakers, manager of C.W.P.S. had one little boy while I was there.  When he was two and one-half or three years old, a circus came to town.  His father took him to the parade.  When they got back, I asked Paul what he saw and he said "I saw a horse with a tail on the end of his nose".  This little boy is now in business here in Rock Rapids and is making these books for us.  His full name is Paul Baker.

A young man from Chicago, Harold May, came to work there for several months on a special assignment.  He drove a big black roadster trimmed in orange.  It was a thrill when he asked to take me to a show.  We had several dates, he bought some popular records for me and we played them on our phonograph that we had to wind.  I gave him a picture of me that he wanted.  Soon I noticed that his attentions were waning and he seemed to be paying more attention to the lady in the hotel.  One morning when he came in I told him I wanted my picture back which he soon brought and that was the end of that.

Then there was another young man with whom I had several dates, but he was more my kind.  He was a Christian, faithfully attended the Lyon County First Presbyterian Church.  I think most of our dates were just to get together after our respective church services on Sunday nights.  I really liked him and I guess he knew it, so he thought he had better call a halt.  One night, he told me he had a girl spoken for in North Dakota.  I respected him for not wanting to be unfair to the firl he no doubt loved.  They were married the next year.  They celebrated their Golden Anniversary in 1979.  We have seen each other through the years and visited as friends.  Soon after we parted, to go our own ways, I met the man who was to be mine.

The "Melody Twins" were asked to play for a special creamery meeting to be held in the school auditorium so we practiced and planned and decided we would wear Spanish attire.  We put on a real nice program.

One day, in October of 1928, Elfrieda and I boarded the train at 4:20 to Rock Rapids to play and sing at the Christian Church for a carnival.  Her aunt, Mrs. Pete Schol, invited us to come.  Two young men were to take us home in a car.  The car was pointed out to us but we did not know the front seat from the back.  I got in the front and Bruce came and get behind the wheel.  Elfrienda and John Banwart were in the back.  We had a friendly ride home and then it was not until November 11 that I met him again.  We played and sang in the Baptist Church that night and were on our way home.  We had stopped at the big willow tree where we always parted.  I turned back to go home and she went on to her home.  A black cat crossed my path and I called back to Elfrieda and told her I could not go home that way, so we walked on past her place and in the middle of the next block she would go back and I would go on around the block.  A car stopped and two young men got out.  It was Bruce and John, who was President of the Christian Endeavor then.  They had come to see all the Presidents of the local Endeavors of which I was one.  They had been to the house and mama told them I was out.  So on driving around a little bit they found us and then stopped and took us home.

The Lyon County Christian Endeavor convention was to be held in the George Presbyterian Church the Monday before Thanksgiving Day of 1928.  Bruce and I continued to make plans.  Our church orchestra played and he would call me at the telephone office.  Bruce took me home on Monday night after  the convention and on Tuesday, I received a letter asking for a date for Thanksgiving night.  Edward Dykhouse, another friend of Bruce came along for Elfrieda.  Both of us as couples continued dating and both couples were married.  Elfrieda and Ed have a home in Sioux City and also one in Arizona.  They have two sons and grandchildren.

In the spring of 1929, the Central West Public Service centralized their bookkeeping department to Sac City so I was left without a job.  My cousin, Willard Sudenga, gave me a job in the office of Sudenga Motor Company.  I did not know much about that work and felt rather useless.  I was there for only a few months when I was invited to go with Bruce and his mother to Colorado Springs, Colorado.  Willard said it was alright.  It so happened that Anna and Violet, the Evangelists, were holding a meeting there so we got to help them with the music.  Bruce led the song service and we sang duets and I played my mandolin and saxophone.  One of those nights, I received my diamond.  The first Sunday after arriving home I played the piano for the church service and I remember being very conscious of my diamond.  I helped Anna and Violet again at Esterville, Iowa and again at Burlington, Iowa.  From there we went to Chicago, Illinois to visit Violet's sister.  We had some rooms there and I got to be with Bruce as he was attending Optometry School at that time.  That was in the fall of 1929.

In the summer of 1930 we were thinking of marriage and in June Bruce suggested we leave on Sunday the 15th to go to Des Moines and be married at the Christian Endeavor convention.  Anna thought we should be married in our church so our leaving Sunday was out.  We left Monday instead.  Tuesday morning we went shopping.  I bought my lavender wedding dress, a lavender hat, beige shoes and a pale green coat.  Bruce made an appointment with Dr. Medbury, the minister of the Christian Church where the convention was held, for the ceremony to be held at 4:00 p.m.  On arriving back at the hotel, we did not have a lot of time to get ready but we made it to the church on time.  Bruce had ordered flowers.  Some Christian Endeavor friends were our witnesses.  We had a real  nice service in front of the fireplace in the lounge.  The photographer of the Des Moines Tribune was there and took our picture.  We were in a cafe later and a man was sitting across from us reading the evening paper.  When he got up to leave, he had the paper folded to our picture and gave it to us with his congratulations.  We used the picture in our Rock Rapids paper when we got home.

We left Wednesday morning for home.  We ate dinner at Jefferson, Iowa and several miles out the car horn started blowing and blowing.  Bruce got it to stop temporarily and we turned around and went back to a garage at Jefferson and had it fixed.  We stayed at George that night and left Thursday for the Black Hills for a short honeymoon.  We rowed out on the Sylvan Lake and we sang with my mandolin.  There were no nice motels, only cabins.

 

WEDDED LIFE

We lived with mother Weatherly at 908 W. Main Street.  Bruce worked for Ed Yappen, who managed the gas station at the north corner of highways 9 and 75.  Fred and Genevieve Yappen were our next door neighbors and Fred managed the station downtown.  One evening I was playing the piano, the fire whistle began to blow and it blew and there was much excitement and Fred's station had blown up and Fred was killed.

In the early summer of 1931, Bruce received a notice to report for Railway Mail Service the first of July.  Bruce had taken an examination for Federal Service right after graduation.  We had to move to Cedar Rapids, Iowa as that was to be his headquarters.  Bruce went ahead and found a house for us.  Then he came back to get us.  Bill Nagle moved us with his truck.  Mother went with us, after all it was her furniture.  We had very little of our own.  We moved into a little two bedroom home at 855 Centerpoint Road, comfortable but small.  Our piano was too big to get through the turns of the doors so we  left it on the front porch and a man in a Music Company van saw it and stopped.  So we traded for a smaller one.  It is now in the recreation room of our basement.

I was pregnant with our first baby and expected her on August 26th.  Mom and Dad, Theresa and Jay came to be there, but she didn't come until September 16, 1931.  It was a 7 1/2 lb. girl born at the local hospital.  We named her Marybelle Joan after our mothers second names.  My mother's name was Katherine Mary and Bruce's mother was Ida Belle, thus Marybelle and Joan was just a popular name at that time.

About a year later we had moved to a larger home at 1618 J. Ave.  In the fall we went home to George for a short visit.  While there, my sister, Theresa Smid, gave birth to her first and only child on October 24th.  She was named Marcelyn Joan.  After we arrived home again in Cedar Rapids, it was only a short while before our son, Robert Lynn was born on December 21, 1932 at home.  He weighed 6 1/2 lbs.  My doctor came to the house.  We lived in Linn County so I thought the Linn sounded real good with Robert after his dad, so it was Robert Lynn.  I never heard the name Lynn previously but it was not long until I heard about many, both boys and girls.  Bruce was away from home when each of the two babies were born.

Bruce was a substitute mail clerk on the trains and sent wherever needed.  Sometimes he got into Marion, Iowa around midnight and I would drive those six or eight miles to meet him.  That road then was like a country road, and very desolate when riding alone, but now it is all built up.

Bruce was a substitute clerk, and we were in the depression yet.  It seemed his calls were getting fewer and they were laying off some subs, so he asked for a leave of absence and we went back to Rock Rapids in 1933, to 908 W. Main St.  Bruce and Clem Thiede went into partnership in the gas station downtown just west of the bridge.

In the summer of 1934, Floyd and Agnes, Genevieve Yappen and Bruce and I went to the Chicago Worlds Fair for a few days.  The children stayed with Mother Weatherly.  In the winter, Marybelle was sick with pneumonia.

While in Cedar Rapids we attended the Presbyterian Church just across the street from our home on Centerpoint Road.  I played for the church sometimes and also directed a choir.  They practiced in our home.  Since coming back to Rock Rapids, the children went to Sunday School and church where I was again pianist.

In the fall of 1935, Bruce was called back into the Railway Service to again headquarter in Cedar Rapids, until he was located in Chicago to work in the Post Office there.  He looked around for a furnished apartment for us which he found in Mt. Prospect, Illinois, a suburb thirty miles northwest.  Bruce came back for us and April, 1936 found us in Mt. Prospect.  The house was nice looking, the kitchen was modern but the other rooms rather antique.  The owners lived upstairs, a lady and her son.  Bruce left home at night around 10:00 p.m. and was home again at 10:00 a.m. by commuter train, leaving the car at the depot.  Sunday School started at 9:00 a.m. so the kids and I walked close to a mile to the church on Sundays.  I played sometimes for the church service there also.  The kids and I entertained ourselves while Bruce slept.  I remember one Sunday it rained and rained real hard all day.  The water came up in the basement as the sewers could not take anymore.  Marybelle wanted her doll that she left on the cot so I waded knee deep across the floor to get it.  The man came down to move the washing machine up to the first landing.

In October Bruce had a little time off so we went home for a visit and it was while there that Bruce heard of the Little Rock carrier having died so he inquired of the Little Rock Postmaster.  When we got back to Mt. Prospect he wrote to Senator Guy Gillette, applying for the transfer and in a week he heard that he was to report at the Little Rock Post office on November 23, 1936.  We only had a couple weeks to get there so we began getting our things together and packed a lot of things in a big box five foot square.  The box was fastened to the back of the car, the trunk was full and the back seat, with hardly room for Marybelle and Robert.  After we got started, we decided the box was too heavy for the car so when we got to Freeport, Illinois we shipped it by freight the rest of the way.  Bruce started his new job on the appointed day which was a new experience and turned out to be his life work and liking every minute of it.  No doubt he will tell of his experiences in his writings.  We were fortunate to get another furnished home.  The home belonged to Grandma Getting, mother of Mrs. Jens Dykhouse, both now deceased.  We drove back and forth to Rock Rapids to church on Sundays and ate dinner with Mother Weatherly.  I usually brought a pie.  I cooked with a one burner plate on real hot days and otherwise the cookstove.  I had no washing machine in Little Rock either, just tubs, scrub board and a boiler that I borrowed from a neighbor.  We stayed at Little Rock for nine months and went back to 908 W. Main Street to live with mother as Genevieve, Bruce's sister, who had been with her wanted to go to Washington where her three children lived.  Bruce commuted all these years.  After our return to Rock Rapids, the choir came to our home one night, and we felt a shaking of the house and we found out it was an ammunition storage at Sioux Falls that exploded.  Marybelle did not get to go to school in Little Rock as there was no kindergarten.  In the fall of 1937 she started in first grade and Robert in kindergarten at the age of four.  He was five before January 1.

I was pregnant again and under the care of Dr. Bishop, an Osteopath.  The local hospital did not allow the Osteopaths to practice there so I was to go to the Hull hospital when the time came.  On March 4, 1938, I got up as usual, got the kids off to school and I began to have pains.  It was the World's Day of Prayer and I had planned to go to Mabel Lehmanns for our meeting at 2:00 p.m.  Well I did not go and by 5:00 p.m. the labor pains were worse so I called Dr. Bishop.  He came and decided we had better head for Hull.  It was sleeting, freezing and icy and in the last mile of Lyon County we had to stop and let me out to get in the back seat, another urge and there she was, another girl.  The windows of the car were frozen over and passing cars could not see in.  Dr. Bishop took care of the baby and wrapped it in blankets I had in the suitcase.  He asked me if I wanted to go back home now or on to the hospital.  I told him to go on.  Bruce had just come in as we were leaving home so he came a little later.  Dr. Bishop had called to the hospital so they were all prepared, but were really surprised when the baby was brought in before I was.  That had never happened there before so they were always concerned.  She was in the same room with me.  She was named by my sister, Anna.  Phydelis Ann was born March 4, 1938 and weighed 7 lbs.

Mother acquired possession of our present home and carpenters were making changes for an apartment upstairs where we were to live.  They moved while I was in the hospital, but when I was dismissed, Bruce took us to George to be with Mama a few days to give them more time to straighten up.  When I got home Johanna Molenaar came to help me.  Now our address is 301 So. Adams Street.  We enjoyed living in our apartment upstairs.  We bought some furniture of our own which was appreciated.

On Saturday, November 10, I dug up my carrots in a cold rain which turned to snow by night and a blizzard on Sunday, November 11, 1940.

In January 1941, Floyd's wife and I were again racing for our babies.  I had beat her by four days when Phydelis was born.  Agnes won by two days as Sharon came on the 21st and Karyn Kay was born January 23, 1941.  She weighed 8 1/4 lbs.  She was born in the north bedroom in our apartment.  Dr. Bishop came to the home and Myrna Thiede, our present neighbor to the north, was the nurse.  Della Brown came to be with us for the ten days.

In 1949 I was again pregnant and expected the baby in  February, but on Friday, October 28 I had to go to the hospital about 10:30 p.m.  Dr. Cook came but thought the baby would not come until about 4:00 a.m.  Around midnight she tried and I told the nurse to call the doctor but she did not until Linda Rae was there.  She weighed only 2 1/2 lbs.  She died Sunday at 6:00 p.m.  Rev. Gann had a graveside service Monday afternoon.  So she was born Linda Rae on October 29, 1949 and died October 30, 1949.  I went home on Tuesday.

From the 1950's to 1970 I was the official substitute for the rural mail service at Little Rock.  I carried two days a week usually until Bruce's vacation time was taken up each year.  When I first started I was very leary of the roads as they were not all graveled.

My parents are both deceased.  My father died on January 18, 1952 at the age of seventy-eight.  He passed away at his home.  His funeral had to be postponed a day because of a blizzard.  My mother died on August 29, 1969 in the local hospital.  She was ninety-three years old.  They are both buried in the Evergreen Cemetery at George on my Grandpa Sudenga's plot.

Bruce's mother died on December 11, 194 at the age of seventy-eight years.  She passed away in her home.  A service was held here in the Christian Church (Disciples) and she was then taken to Liscomb, Iowa  for burial beside her husband, Foster, who died in 1919 and her baby son, Carl who was buried in 1901.

Soon after in 1946, Martin and Lawrence Wissink came to remodel the downstairs for another apartment so Lawrence and Phyllis Wissink could move into our upstairs apartment.  They stayed until they had two babies and they moved back to Sheldon.  We have had five or six different teachers living up there and three or four who were not teachers.  We then furnished the apartment and have had three or four nurses up there.  Lora Reemtsma, LPN, our present tenant has been here since September 1972.

All through the years we have been involved with the Christian Church (Disciples).  Bruce was baptized by immersion when ten years of age in 1917.  I was immersed after we were married on July 7, 1935.  Marybelle and Robert on October 10, 1940 and Phydelis and Karyn on April 10, 1949.

I would like to include a paragraph about a dear cousin of mine.  She was a daughter of my mother's brother John Busker.  We started school together and graduated together.  Upon graduation she left to take nurse's training at the Allen Memorial Hospital in Waterloo, Iowa.  She became a very good nurse and worked hard at it most of her life until retirement.  She married Harry Williams and they had two daughters, Dorothy Helms (Bob) and Shirley King (Ronnie).  They both live in the vicinity of Waterloo.  After we both had our families we were closer than ever, visiting in each other's homes.  She visited here in the fall of 1976 and then had surgery when she returned home.  The surgery showed malignancy.  She lived until February 20, 1977 and was sixty-nine years old.  We attended her funeral and it was a lovely service knowing that she was with her Lord.

Through the passing of time our four children graduated from high school.  Marybelle became a nurse at St. Lukes in Sioux City.  Robert enlisted in the Navy serving in Korean waters.  Phydelis and Karyn both became Laboratory Technicians at Sioux Valley, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Marybelle was employed at the old hospital until her marriage to Henry R. Timmermans, a local boy and to them five children were born.  They are Michael, Cathy, Terri Susan and Jana.  They live in George, Iowa where Henry is in real estate and insurance.

Robert married Donna De Raad of Leeds, Iowa and was dismissed from the Navy.  He was employed by KVTV Channel 9 for fifteen years and now is working for Bell and Howell.  They have three children, Steven, Linda and Marla.

Phydelis was employed at the Luverne Hospital as a technician.  She married Melvin Hamann of Luverne, Minnesota.  She continued with her work until her children came.  They are Lori, David, Daniel and John.  They live on their farm southeast of town where Melvin strives to be a good farmer.

Karyn worked in Dr. Griessy's office locally and then married Clarence Boer of Alvord, Iowa.  They live in the town of Alvord but Clarence works on his farms as well as managing the local bank.  They have four children, Sandra, Jason, Lance and Matthew.

So our four lovely children of whom we are so proud have given us sixteen grandchildren and we also have two great grandchildren.  They are Elizabeth and Laura, twin girls of Michael Timmermans.  We are expecting more.

I am so happy that all you children have a church home and are keeping busy at it.  Keep Christ before your children, through prayer and through your living example.  Help them to know that it is so important to be a Christian and really love the Lord.  We do not know when Christ is coming to receive His own, so it is really necessary that all of us are ready.  God bless you each one.  He blessed me with a wonderful husband and He blessed us with a wonderful family.

 


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