The last couple of years, Mom started talking about writing a book about her life. She talked about sitting down at a computer and writing. But she always seemed to be too busy with her main pursuit, sewing.
When I started going through her box of writing, I was surprised by how much she had gotten done. It wasn't book size by any means, but she went through a few notebooks, writing longhand.
I can decipher most of it. Mom always had good handwriting. If there's a spot that I'm wasn't sure about I put an ellipsis. Unlike her earlier work, written for classes, her handwritten pieces weren't edited. They're Mom's thoughts on the page. Some of the stories were incomplete.
Some of them were revisits to stories she had already written in her classes. One of her favorite stories was of how she had a role in getting her brother Elmer and his wife Peggy together.
What seems to be the definitive version of that story, (Peggy Fit Right In), is up, written for one of Mom's writing classes. This is another version of that story that was unfinished, but goes off in a little different direction. The photo is an early one of Mom with her crutches.
Summer soon started to change into fall. Mickey and I have played all summer. Mickey is taller than I, even though she was younger by two years. I never thought that was really fair. She had jet black hair and it always had some curl to it and was real thick. Everything I didn't have.
Dad was over six-feet tall with a pipe usually in his mouth. He usually wore a set of bib overalls and a long sleeve blue shirt. He had a slight limp and by now wasn't doing much work in the field. He always claimed it was his sciatic.
Mid-afternoon he always wanted to go to this small cafe down the road for a Pepsi. Sometimes we would tag along and get ice cream cones. We never usually got out of the car, as it was difficult for me with my casts on my legs.
I just started with a doctor in Sioux Falls to straighten out my knees and my feet. I was only 5 at the time, so I did what I was told. ...
This was grain cutting season. Mom was busy making all these meals. There may be some extra men also, as when we were finished, we went over the neighbor's farm. You could share equipment and help that way.
Mom was still making sandwiches when we got home. After I got into the house, I jumped into a chair to help. One of the girls gave me a cloth to wash my hands.
Mom always had everything in hand. She was a short 5 feet, 2 inches, had her black hair short. She was heavy-set, just like "moms were supposed to look."
"Connie," mom called, "there are some letters and some cards on the table. You remember Aunt Norie put your name in the Dakota Farmer. She told them that you needed pen pals." She laughed a little. "We know you have enough pen pals right here in this room." I wasn't sure what pen pals was, but it must be good.
Bernice, who was helping with sandwiches, said "That is for sure."
Mickey, a 3 year old, by this time has gotten the letters down off the table and had them half opened.
There were some beautiful cards. Some of them had pretty hankies in them. I liked stacking them and arraigning them in different shapes, like a house, living room, bedroom, kitchen, etc. Such color, I loved them.
Alice came in and started to read the letters. Some of them were really happy. She started to keep a little book with names and addresses of these people. This lasted over a month. Some of them, if we wrote back, if they lived close.
There was one 14-year-old girl that lived in Montana with her dad and three brothers. Her name was Peggy. She seemed like fun so Alice wrote her back. She shared the letters with Elmer and Loren then eventually with mom.
This correspondence went on through the school year. There was one old gentleman that also kept up correspondence. All his letters were decorated. He drew birds pen and ink. His name was C.F. Park. He was going by our farm and stopped by. He had cardboard short letters with pen and ink birds on them. He had one for everyone, and a couple for me.
He then took his whiskey jug and played "Little Brown Jug." He was cute, reminded us of Burl Ives, who was popular at the time.