Sunday, October 30, 2016

Gramma Lu's Babies - 3

This chapter takes place around 1902, when Stanley was a baby.   I've been researching some of the places and people and things she mentions, and hope to incorporate them into the book. A few data points: Dr. Shelladay, and the Wyncoop family appear in the censuses for Lake Ann and Cedar Run.  There are Norris familys, but none of them quite match up to her description - this may be due to the fact that Lula's family wasn't the only one that moved and changed from year to year, or it might be due to bad transcription. (Often a name like Noris would be listed as Lovia or something.) I'm checking through manually to see if anything was missed.

As we begin the next chapter, the family is getting ready to move away from Fountain, Mi, to Lake Ann, in Benzie County. The first of many many moves.

(Start with Chapter 1, Chapter 2)

The Babies God Gave Me

Handwritten manuscript by Lula J. Wanamaker LaGuire 

Chapter 3

Fred went north to get work on another railroad. He put some of our furnitue in a grocery store as colateral so I could get groceries, and to offset what we owed there, and sold my large dresser so I had money to go to Lake Ann. I knew we would need the furniture to keep house with so asked the store keeper -- an old school mate of mine -- if he had any objection to my taking it with me.  He said he had not..

Cap and Maude and their little Nina had moved in with me and my youngsters, and it was a good thing as Cap crated my sewing machine, (which I could hardly get along without) and helped me get goods to the depot.  Also, we didn't have to go into different quarters while I got three babies and me ready to move. 

Brother Scott here was a great help as he went with us to Lake Ann. This would have been a trial to me otherwise as we had to change trains and wait at a depot a long time.  He even held the baby while I went to the restroom, and that was something as he was bashful and not used to babies.  How I have wished, I had more time to help him overcome his shyness, and he find a nice girl to go with! 

But with three babies it seemed my hands were full. And the little fellows started running off almost as soon as we were settled.  The railroad was not far away and lovely Lake Ann was just south of the city of Lake Ann.  Not to mention the threat of getting lost; the one that scared me the most.  Of course, now it was harder to chase after the little fellows and leave a tiny baby alone.

We had a rather good looking house for those times, which had been newly papered.  I bought cloth and made a large door curtain etc., and soon had it looking cozy and homelike. Fred got a job as section foreman and our credit was good again, so we started running in debt again as we always did.  He did not want it any other way and laughed at me to scorn if I even mentioned paying cash for what we bought.

Lake Ann had been a thriving city at the time but about four years before we landed there, it had been ravaged by a terrible fire that took about half the town.  The people had not recovered fully from the shock, but were barely trying to make a come back. A new school house perched on a high hill looked good and one day Orvie and a little neighbor girl thought they would go to school.  There was quite a scare in our neighborhood until they were discvoered and brought home.  My days were filled with sewing, cooking, washing, ironing, tending baby and running after those two little runaways.  I bought cloth and made many pieces of clothing for us all. The house where we lived when winter came was not warm at all and we moved to the other side of the town in a warmer, more compact house.

Our stay in Lake Ann lasted only about a year and Fred was ordered to go to Cedar Run, a city so small it needed a round up to get it together.

When spring arrived in Lake Ann, Fred was working at Platte River where he had been sent for a while and one day it was so lovely out, son shining, rivulets tickling everywhere. I bundled the two boys up and let them play out doors.  That night poor Raphie cried fretfully with an earache. Orvie developed bronchitis and the littlest got such a cough it seemed he would tear his tender lungs out coughting. I was alone with them and did everything I could think of, like glazing Orvie with turpentine and lard, putting warm poultices on Ralph's ear, etc. 

I worked over them almost all night, but still the baby coughed frightfully, Ralphie moaned with his ear, and Orvie though more quiet was really sick.  The snow was deep -- over my knees between our place and the next neighbors, but I knew I must get a doctor, so I wrapped up and waded over to the neighbors and finally wakened them and asked if he could go for a doctor for my kids. H was willing and did just that and by daylight one came -- They had a doctor in Lake Ann.

Well he left and I and the youngsters were soon resting but they were ill quite a while. The neighbors came and helped some and I sent for their father and he came home.

I couldn't figure out how the little boys got so bad a cold just in one day -- they must have been coming down with it before the nice day when I let them play out. My sister Grace came to visit us that spring and her boy had a very bad case of croup while there.  Again, we had Dr. Shelladay and he came out OK.  But sister didn't enjoy her stay very much and soon left for her home in Kalkaska - I believe that is where they lived then.

I had to hire my washing done and an elderly man about 75 and his young wife did it for us. This was a great help and I finally got my ironing caught up.  One day the boys were playing on some logs that had been skidded there and Ralphie caught his leg between two logs.  The washer man's little son ran and called his father and the old fellow ran like a dear and went and pushed the log enough to release Ralphie's leg. This is one time he escaped injury.  These people were real friends.

It was after that that we went to Cedar Run.  Fred had been boarding with a woman name of Mrs Noris for a few days and our first glimpse of that sprawling "city" was at her home just under a steep high hill I had my three little fellows dressed as cute as possible. By doing my own sewing I could have prettier clothes for them than as if I bought them ready made.  Even then we couldn't afford to buy an awful lot of material.  Ralphie was in kilts.  Orvie was in knee pants, and Dougie in short dresses.  Yes, boys wore dresses then, but not as general as a few years earlier. 

At table were, besides our family, the young depot agent, Mrs. Noris and her brother John, a queer old gray-headed sort of hunch back who was under her thumb.  We all ate heartily and enjoyed a pleasant meal and Ralphie made everyone laugh by asking for "one of them things with a stem on," when he wanted a pickled crab apple. 

After lunch we went to see our new home.  It was not beautiful, I can assure you -- only a low, long, log house of two rooms, not a porch nor a shade tree and one acre of land.  We soon were settled in it with only the necessary furniture. It did not take long to arrange our few belongings; two beds side by side in one room and cook stove, table and chairs, and cupboard in the other.  At that time we didn't care too much about what we lived in as long as we all could be together.

I began to get acquainted with our neighbors a few at a time.  Good, friendly, homey folks. We learned to like them all. Fred plowed up some ground and we had a garden -- seems I can still hear him cursing that team as he drove them, so loudly that all the neighbors could hear and be regaled by his profanity. I felt sorry for those horses, of course.  They didn't understand.

I don't remember much about the garden, only one day I picked a mess of peas in the hot sun with my head aching fit to kill.

The store was a quarter mile from there and I'd put two babies in the buggy and push them over while the oldest walked and we would do our trading.

Mrs. Wynkoop had lovely cloth and embroidery, etc. and it was a temptation for me to buy and I made two lovely blouses for the older boys with tucked fronts and embroidered collars, and a lovely white dress for the baby, all tucks insertion and embroidery. Yes and even blue ribbon drawn thru the insertion.  My next two or three babies helped wear it out.  But I knew I must not buy too heavily -- but did get what we needed.

Mrs. Wynkoop was a pretty woman and her man had three sons and ran the store and the town you might say. 

We did not stay in the log shack very long as it was a little isolated, but sold it and moved over near the store where they sold dry goods, groceries, meats, clothing and shoes.  We even bought our milk and coal from them.  Well, it was nice to have everything handy -- and when Fred drew his check, we either, he or I,  would make it over and turn it over to Mrs. Wynkoop. Sometimes we had a little change coming back. If not I'd ask her if I could keep back dollars, as we needed it for  a doctor or something.

There was no doctor  there  and we had no money for doctor bills any way, but of course teeth must be cared for, at least to some extent, and I had to have a new winter coat.  I got one in Traverse City for $2; a 3/4 coat and real good for  that price.

Well we lived from hand to mouth and managed to get by.  Most of the young folks and children had a contagious disease I called Cuban itch.  It consisted of painful sores on hands and feet.  My boys got it naturally. And every day I bathed their sores in water with carbolic acid in it and sewed clean bandages over the sores. When the puss was cleaned away it left trenches in the flesh, an offensive sight. But when taken care of of they soon healed and the disease disappeared. 

(From Wikipedia: Alastrim, also known as variola minor, is the milder strain of the variola virus that causes smallpox. ... Other names for alastrim include: white pox, kaffir pox, Cuban itch, West Indian pox, milk pox, and pseudovariola.)

Little Tommy Wynkoop about Orvie's age, ran about with raw sores uncovered.  He played at will around Cedar Run Creek and had little care.  But when someone asked Mrs. Wynkoop if she was not afraid something would happen to him, she remarked, "Oh, the devil takes care of his own."

Her older boy and Tommy were not exactly normal and the middle boy who was real good, loving, smart, broke his nose playing ball and spoiled his good looks!  Some children grow up to amount to something even in spite of careless parents.  People had a lot to say about Mrs. W. and I guess she thought she might as well give them something to talk about. She was a rather good neighbor.

Continue reading - CHAPTER 4 .

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Gramma Lu's Babies - 2

Here's the second section of Gramma Lula Wanamaker LaGuire's memoirs about the birth and raising of her children in northwestern lower Michigan at the beginning of the last century.  This chapter takes place between the birth of Ralph Stanley  in 1899, and the birth of  Dudley Linwood at the end of 1901.  (Chapter 1 appears here.)

The Babies God Gave Me

Handwritten manuscript by Lula J. Wanamaker LaGuire


The two little boys were company for each other, and when I nursed Ralphie to sleep, as I rocked him, I also held Orvie on my other arm and he went to sleep too.  Then I would walk to the bed with them both in my arms and drop the older one on the bed and then I had both arms free so I could lay the littlest one down carefully and they both would have a good nap while I dove into my work with a vengence, fairly flying from one job to another to get all Icould done before they awaken -- no play pens then. 

We did have a second-hand buggy and crib however.  About the only protection they had was a two foot high board across the door to keep them from falling out. This board I had to step over whenever I went thru the door. Talk about exercise!

There were so many reasons to step outdoors for I those days; to throw out the dish water and the potato peelings if we did not have a pig, to bring in wood and hang out clothes, diapers.  Seven times a day more or less one must step over that board. A convenience we could not have gotten along without.

When the boys overcame that hurdle they began to run away and that kept mama running ever and anon.  One could look out doors most any time a day to see a mother chasing an adventerous little tot.  We'd get them home and spank them, very likely, and they'd light out the next chance they had.

When the 2 little fellows both were able to trot off they went to the store about a block away. They had gone with me to get groceries. They bought cookies and raisins and the man charged them of course -- thinking I had sent the boys.  When I started out to hunt for them they were on their way home, but coming thru the neighbor's gate instead of our own as, no doubt, Orvie had a feeling he was doing wrong.

I met them and had to laugh at their audacity and that time they escaped a spanking.  But I adminished them they must not do that again.  Orvie at least uderstood.

In those days we bought our flour in cotton 25# sacks -- or larger -- those sacks were a boon to busy mothers.  We made many things from them, such as pillow cases, children's clothes, diapers, etc.  My nearest neighbor intented to make a quilt lining from some. She had saved over the months. She had a tub of rain water on her front porch which was seldom used, and had put several sacks to soak the letters out before dying them for comfort covers.

When Orvie was about 15 months old, I missed him one day and started frantically searching for him. I knew he was not far away as I'd seen him a few minutes before in our yard.  I called and ran around our house and then the next one... and there was that industrious little tyke sitting in with Mrs.C's flour sacks, having the time of his life splashing sacks and water all over the porch!  I gave them their baths in a tub and he figured no doubt that was what that tub of water was for with somany pretty wash clothes in it!

I got him home and into dry clothes as quickly as possible and really had a good laugh at his antics.

This running after youngsters interfered with my work a good deal and sometimes I became desperate and the boys got a good "tanning."  If one thinks this is not exasperating -- leaving what ever one is doing  and lighting out at a trot every few hours -- let them try it. 

We had a fence but not adequate to keeping youngsters inclosed.  I know now I did not use the right tactics at all. But it seemed then I didn't have time to play with them and take walks, etc.  I took them with me everywhere I went however; once I took some boards (this was before No. 2 could walk) and made a fence for him to play in, two boards high, but it was separate from our house.

When other children were there to play with him he was OK, but alone it did not work.  He would just stand and howl at the top of his voice until I took him into the house.  If I had connected it with the house so he could come in and out at will I believe it would have accomplished its purpose.  But as I didn't have foresight enough to do that, I just went and tore the fence down and piled up the boards. 

Once little Ralphie went and took a long walk away and I went after him and when I caught up with him I switched his little legs with a small switch I picked up.  He ran screaming for the house and I after him. (Poor little fellow, I caught him again upstairs and gave him a little more switching.  This was cruel and not warranted but I was desperate at the way those boys ran away at every chance.) The child cried pitifully and as far as I know didn't run away again for a long time.

I will state here that we (my brothers and sisters and I) received our whippings when we were growing up and plenty of them -- but my parents had nine children.  They were spread out perhaps, so none of us girls, at least, got too many, so as I was brought up, so I reared my own. 

Years have taught me that I was wrong.  People used to say "Spare the rod and spoil the child," quoting from the Bible, so most Christians and many others beat their offspring for all wrongdoing and some things that were not wrong.  I inherited my father's disposition, so was very much like him when younger. 

If I told my husband, "I don't kow what I shall do with these kids. They run away all the time," he would reply:

"Knock hell out of them," and think he had done h is duty.

One woman told me take a little switch and whip them all the way back home and that's what I tried to do with little R. But I have never forgiven myself and never will.  The only good I can see in spanking and thrashing is that the child cries a great deal and that clears out his lungs.  But usually a child finds plenty to cry about without his parents beating upon him.

Fred took a hand at it now and then also.  When I think of what these two had to endure and many others also, I wish that folks would interpret that scripture as meaning, "Be sparing of the rod and spoil the child a little." 

I have asked  God many times to forgive me for whipping my youngsers and I hope he does for I can never forgive myself and Ralphie has suffered so severely since -- why did I have to add to his suffering?  And the others also.
They have all grown up to be fine however. 

When Orvie was about 3 years old, I missed him one day and ran out to hunt for him. I was expecting my third at that time.  When about half way to Fred's brother Jim's home, I could see little Helen about half way up to the peak of the very steep roof of that house, an as I saw 2 older girls emerge from the front door I called,

"Run in the house and tell your mother that Helen is up on the roof!"

They disappeared like a shot into the house and then I saw Nora and Jim come runing out a side door. Helen had reached the very peak by then and was looking over the other side as unconcerned as you please.

And my little son was as high as the eaves at the top of a ladder.  He was afraid, or thought it best not to go farther.  When I arrived all out of breath and said Orvie come down here this instant, he climbed down slowly, and when Helen's mama yelled at her she climbed down backwards on some slats that were nailed to the roof as if she had been in the habit of doing it every day.  I bet she remembered the spanking her mama gave her all her life. I think Orvie escaped with a good scolding that time.  I was so glad they were down and safe.  I took him home where I'd left little Ralphie.

A year before this we were living in my brother-in-law's home as my sister was in hospital for mental cases and my mother was caring for her two little girls, so we went there to see how it would work out.  My brother-in-law lived in the kitchen and cooked his own meals, while we had our kitchen in the diningroom. 

This arrangement was okay but we finally tired of it. While there my brother Scott came to take me and my two out to Mother's and Father's place a couple of miles out, and while on the way brother crossed a level field on on the snow -- we were in a cutter -- instead of using the road, I don't know why. 

But as there were no tracks acros the field the cutter tipped over, throwing little Orvie out on the ground.  I held on to the littlest one, then about a year old and we fell out together while Scott held the reins and quieted the horse.

I was frightened a lot as I thought the sleigh had tipped over on Orvie, as I couldn't see him anywhere.  He had fallen out behind and was alright.  We finished our ride, and it was a pleasant one after that.  Mother had a nice dinner for us and Scott took us home later.

But the scare and tumble had accomplished their work!  The next day I had a miscarriage.  We had a doctor and when I asked "will the baby come away?" he answered not if we an help it.

But it did and I didn't seem any worse for the experience. Believe it or not I was glad -- and I am not a heartless person and I love my babies very much.  I felt as if God had intervened.  We were homeless as Fred had sold our own home so there would be no likelihood of his dieing and leaving it to me.  He was ill quite often with bronchitis, rheumatism, etc., so he nearly gave the house away.  We lived whereever we could get a footing.  His work was then intermittent so why in the named all that is sacred should we want another one! 

I escaped that time but soon was "expecting" again. We were living at this time in Fred's brother Pete's home as they were away working (Pete and Emeline) -- we had lived in four different places since selling our home and living in it and paying rent for a while.  The incident of being corralled by a bull I have written elsewhere. That was when we lived on the Charley Thompkins place.

Now we were looking forward to our own third child and hoped, naturally, this one would be a girl.  As I now had a good Singer machine I proceeded to make some rather nice baby things.  I recall at this late date; three kimonos buttoning up front and feathers, stitched a small square blanket with pink crochets and silk lace about two inches wide which faded out after a few washings...

Which was as well as our third was also a boy!

I knitted three pair stockings -- white, pink and blue -- one white skirt hand crochet lace about two inches wide, and plenty other things which I don't recall now.

On the 10th of Dec, we got word to Mother that she was needed again.  Poor Mother! Between my brother Elmer's wife, Bertha, and myself, we certainly did run her ragged. Then Fred called the doctor from Freesoil and proceeded to get sister-in-law Nora again, and as if that was not enough he went and called our next door neighbor Mrs. Cap.  He considered it a sort of festival I think.  He was always glad when another arrived not thinking how we were going to care for it.
Well, thank God!  I was not in labor very long, altho I had been having small pains all day, but kept at my work as long as I could which was good for me.  Mother was competant as always.

After three real hard pains the baby came!  I remember saying I'm so glad it wasn't any longer.  I hoped it wouldn't be long, but I didn't dare to hope.

Fred, of course, went out to lay in the boys bed in the kitchen and cried.  He would with all those women to witness it. That sounds like a heartless remark but I know Fred.

The boy was a nice healthy-appearing little bundle.  The doctor came late as he had at Ralphie's birth; made examinations and took his leave and $3.00. He left some morphine pills for me as I was having hard after pains -- they lasted most of the night and mother put cloths wrung out of hot water on my abdomen. 

We were doing well and three days afterwards the new baby had scarletina and we thought it was measles. Orvie was quite ill. No, I am getting this wrong.  Ralphie did not have scarletina.  Only Orvie was ill and we learned later that the children three houses away had it. That's where he had gotten it.  Several years later the children again had scarlet fever and as Ralph had it this time -- I knew that was what Orvie and little Dudley Linwood had had. 

You see we did not get a doctor for every thing in those day, as he was so far away, we did not like to call him unless really necessary.  All came thru with flying colors and as I went to hang out clothes when deep snow covered the ground -- I got rheumetism in my knees.  (I used to think clothes must be hung outdoors to dry, even in freezing weather and a thousand times I have hung them on the line when they would freeze during the process then go in and plunge my hands into cold water to take the frost out of them so they would not ache so terribly.) 

Well some red flannel drawers overcame the rheumatism.  I remember what a time the boys had trying to remember the baby's name. They thought hard a while then came up with "Woody Study."  (Dudley Linwood.)

Continue Reading with CHAPTER 3

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Gramma Lu's Babies - 1

I got too busy to write up some of my findings from Great's branch of the family, but a cousin just gave me a huge box of handwritten (and some typed) manuscripts of my father's other grandmother -- Gramma Lu. 

I didn't know Gramma Lu. Her son Orville (my grandfather) didn't talk as much about his family as his wife did, but luckily, she was a writer.  I don't know that she ever got published, though the rejection slips in the box of manuscripts give testimony that she did try.  But she wrote and wrote and wrote.  Most of it top-to-bottom, border-to-border handwritten in pen.

There would be no way to use OCR on this, so I am transcribing it by hand... and as I type, I have come to realize I have to publish at least some of it.  I'll be putting some chapters here so I can give links to relatives to read. (This is a better place than Facebook for long long texts....)

To save paper, Gramma Lu used almost no paragraph breaks.  She also put in abbreviations and such, and when writing by hand, she often left out punctuation altogether. I have added in paragraphs and commas and some semicolons, and spelled things out when the abbreviation was unclear. All the exclamation marks, though, are hers...

Ralphie, Grace,  Gramma Lu, Stanley, Orvie, 1904

The Babies God Gave Me

Handwritten manuscript by Lula J. Wanamaker LaGuire

Chapter 1

I have never written, nor seldom talked about my babies' births so will now try to put my thoughts and reactions on paper.

When a girl, I used to say, hatefully "I'll never had any kids."  Well, there was a reason back of this, as I knew of so many people who had many children and were so very poor -- poverty stricken.  My own parents were of that kind.  Baby after baby came but we did not get any richer altho I've heard my father say after the birth of a new child, "We are a thousand dollars richer now."

He may have felt richer but that kind of riches didn't help buy food and clothing and schooling for the bunch of us.

Tho father was a very hard worker he was a poor manager and was always moving from town to town in hopes of getting relief from his consumption which tortured him most of his life.  Most of us went to work out while very young, before we were really able, in order to have proper food and clothing.  Certainly I did not want to repeat my parents lives which is what I eventually did.

When I was 19 1/2 yrs old, under pressure from all sides, I married.  I hoped I wouldn't start too soon having babies as we, my husband and I, were poor also.  He had a job but only got $1.05 per day at first. This was raised to $1.10 after a while.  He was very tickled -- that meant $1.30 per month more.

Our home was very cold in winter as it was far from finished: thickness of boards and one of building paper.  I caught cold the first week, so that meant a doctor bill.  Tho I will say doctors didn't  get half enough either in those days.  I lived thru that illness and became pregnant, altho that is a word we seldom used then. We used to say "in the family way" -- or she's expecting and raise our eye brows so older ones would understand and little ones would not.

My first son was born 1 yr, 1 mo, 1 wk. after we were married.  I had hoped I would have children of course as that is the primary reason for marriage as I saw it.  I looked forward to his birth with pleasure and sewed very much as I made all his little garments by hand, excepting diapers which I hemmed on Nora's machine. Dresses and skirts were long then, just took 2 yds. to make a dress. We always made pinning blankets and belly bands too, tho now they are considered useless, and probably are.  I used outing flannel or tennis flannel as we then called it.  Imade 9 little dresses, 6 outing skirts, 3 long white skirts, about 4 pinning blankets, a few outing nities shirts and bands. Many didies.

In those days poor mothers at least, did not see a doctor before hand to know if everything was alright.  We went there the gestation period and the birth. If we lived OK, if not we just died.  Of course I thot all women had to suffer a lot, some more some less, and I knew that some died but that didn't worry me. Looking forward to the event seemed to make life worth living.

The time came and I felt pains at intervals early in the morning about 4 o'clock.  I informed my man and we got up and had breakfast and as the pains were not close together he went to work about 6:30.

I had taken with him a long walk the evening before or I would not have had my baby at this time.  We didn't believe in talking long walks or going out where people could see us; at least they certainly did not in my mother's time, but at this time a few of the wiser ones were talking walks each day.  If I only had been that smart!

Somehow I got my mother to come and my sister-in-law Nora.  I don't remember how as we had no phones and Mother lived a mile away.  My brother brot her with the team.  My sister Grace was staying with us a few days I believe and she called help.

Mother asked if I wanted Fred called and I told her "no."  I knew what a bother he could be when I was ill, learned when I had the bad cold, always asking if I felt better and wanting me me to eat more than I wanted or needed.  I thot if he did that and I was very ill, I could not "take it" as we say nowdays.  I knew I'd be better off with him absent. Mom wanted to know if Iwanted a doctor. 

I said, "If you think I need one don't hesitate to call him."

There was only a retired doctor in town then.  As I was becoming worse by noon Mom called him in.  They wanted me to walk but the pains were so very severe I couldn't, so I just lay there and endured for 4 more hours.  Pains getting worse and worse all the time till I couldn't even yell, which would have been a relief as I was extremely constipated and had piles and they kept tearing me by degrees; my agonies were terrible severe.  I couldn't eat of course and could only have a tablespoon of water now and then. 

I recall as I lay there with my life blood ebbing away, I thought, "If there is a God, why does he let a woman suffer so to bring a new life into the world?!"  I don't recall if I prayed or not tho I was a Christian.  All I could do was groan and bear it.  I knew I couldn't last much longer, and finally Old Doctor Eaton said;

"Well, she can't stand much more of this strain. I'll have to use my instruments."

And I said, with an effort, "Do something quick!"

I was in such agony I couldn't even speak correctly.  He could see I was almost spent and hunted around and soon brot my first-born into existance.  The relief from suffering was so great I felt that I was in heaven altho I was too weak to speak aloud.  It must have been a great relief to Mother too, as she'd told me later she couldn't stand it to see me suffer so.  I didn't realize then what a terrible ordeal this can be to a mother, to see her daughter go thru such prolonged agony. 

Aunt Nora took care of the baby, which seemed to be a healthy youngster and really beautiful to me. I lived and finally became able to get up and go at my work.  We couldn't keep sister there long; it cost too much.  Mother did what she could to care for me till I was able to be about.

We were made to stay in bed ten days after child birth at that date.  Dr. told me to give baby oat meal water which was good for him, since how my breasts eaked and I used camphor on them and dried up my milk, and baby nursed and nursed but didn't get enough, so finally his father said we'd by some milk for him.  He thrived on the bottle, but had bronchitis quite a lot as his dad did.

He was a fat cute boy, and when he was about three months old I discovered I was pregnant again!

When I discovered this I was terrified!  I thought I could never live thru such an ordeal again. After the first one came, I said to my man,

"Oh! Fred it was awful."  I always shuddered when I remembered it.

And my husband replied, "That's what they all say.  Oh! I had the worst time anyone ever had!" mockingly.

If I'd gottten a little sympathy from him it would have helped a lot.  He thought I could go through it or quilwheel -- his word for dying -- as many others had.  I feared I would die and leave two babies in this unsympathetic world. This worried me exceedingly!

I loved my little Orville Fred with all a mother's love and to think of leaving him motherless at so tender and age filled me with alarm and sorrow and grief!  The agony and terror I had gone thru filled me with dread and I felt as if a sword was hanging by a thread over my head, as the saying goes.  I never seemed to be free of that haunting horror and I have often cried when some young girl got married and would think, "Oh! she don't know what she is getting into!"

I was far from well, as I'd not had the care I should have had with my first baby, and I worked very hard, as Fred took a job and hired men to board and stay at our place. He had fixed up a home near his work, part log and part frame.  Comfortable enough; the men slept up stairs on straw ticks on the floor over the living room, where Fred and I and the baby slept with a heating stove in the same room.

With four men to cook for and a heavy baby to care for and all my work to do, I was not idle a minute the whole day and evening, as I did what sewing I needed by hand.

Enough to state that the men very soon got tired of this arrangement, and left one by one.  I don't blame them one bit, and in a month about we were back in our own house in town, and what a relief to get back, tho the house was cold and not fit for a baby to be creeping about in. 

He grew tho and was very cute and could do several "tricks" when only 7 or 8 months old.  He would make a noise like snoring when we would say "Orrie snore," and bite his big toe if asked to and several other cute antics.  He learned to creep but not as most babies do.  He would lie flat on the floor and drag himself along with his arms and push with his toes.  One can imagine the condition of his dress after a few revolutions of this.

He loved to pull all the tin dishes out of the large cupboard without doors and hear them slam onto the floor.  It was the first place he always made for if we had been away from home awhile.  Some would say I was a careless mother but we couldn't afford toys and this was a very satisfactory substitute. 

Well, I was busy now making baby clothes and cried a great deal every time I thought of dying and leaving my two babies motherless.  I had inherited TB, as most of my brothers and sisters did but didn't know it then.  It was perhaps one reason why I was so depressed most of the time.

I said to Fred once, "Fred if I die, I wish you would give one of the babies to my mother and to your sister Isabell."

He heaved and hawed and said, "I guess I'm not giving away my kids."

Well, as expenses were coming up and money was not more plentiful, we took in a few boarders. Three men at $3.75 each per week.  Think of getting board for that!  I managed to do my work and cook for them for a time. Then Nora, Bless her, told them she would board them for 50 cents less a week, so they went to board at her house. A good thing! as my second son was born a day or two later.

It was on Sunday and my Mother came also Fred's sister-in-law Emeline, and Fred lit out to walk to Freesoil, a town six miles away to get a doctor. They rode back together. My pains were plenty severe enough and rather close together and I became very nervous, and would have thought I was awfully sick if I had not been thru that awful other ordeal before.  I at least could have strength enough to holler a little and the baby arrived before the doctor and his daddy did.  I thot he was a 7 month child but the doctor said not.  He was fully developed.

I got thru, at least, but I don't know if safely or not; this doctor took several stitches where I had been lacerated when the fisrt was born and thot it queer I had been left in such a condition.  One thing was that I had had plenty exercise before little Ralphie was born.  Even tho it had been too strenuous.  He was not a healthy child from the first and one eye was defective, so he looked cross-eyed. He was pale and frail looking and most people thot he was a girl.

Orvie could not yet walk when his brother arrived, but learned to in 2 weeks. I think little as he was he felt he had a responsibility.  He was always a very thoughtful little fellow. Orvie was a blue-eyed blond now having lost his dark baby hair, and Ralphie had a nice head of black hair and blue eyes of course as all my babies did.  Two very cunning little fellows.

Fred had a laugh on me. He told people, "She thought she was going to die! But see she got through fine!"

Orvie had bronchitis several times while going thru childhood and Raphie, tho frail, seemed to be rather strong.

There was a year and two weeks between the two babies and I said to people, to make believe I liked the setup;

"I am going to have one every year for the next 20 years."  Tho I most sincerely hoped this would ot occur.

I had been told that one of Fred's sisters had had 13 babies then died, and it fairly made me sick. Think what a reward for going thru all that agony and then having to die and leave them all!  I couldn't think of anything more terrible.

A good thing mothers are advised to go to a good doctor for prematernity advice!

(The above is approximately 6 handwritten pages out of 98 that I have.  Gramma Lu had 7-8 children, though only 6 lived to adulthood.  The 98 pages she wrote about them ends with a comma, but I have hundreds of other pages of writing from her, so perhaps there is more than those 98 pages to be typed up.)

Continue reading CHAPTER 2