"Memories of Papa and Mama,"
Composed 1984 by Daughter Bernice
The first recollection I have of early childhood was on Grandpa Peter Stadem's farm about 70 years ago when we girls were playing outdoors on a beautiful spring day. We begged Papa for permission to take off our shoes so we could go barefooted. I am sure he wished he could say, "Yes, but pointed to a small bank of snow on the north side of the little outhouse, and that settled that.
Going to school for the first grade was fun but not when it was below zero. One very cold morning Papa put Pearl and me on the back of old King and off we went across the fields. After three-quarters of a mile we were very, very cold. We got off of King and he ran home. We then trudged on foot over to the school house. Our teacher Ethel Murdick, a real jewel, set us on a couple desks near the stove, took off our wraps --and I'll never forget her asking Virgil Pettit, a big, strapping 8th grader, to rub my cold feet and fingers in his hair. He wasn't too anxious to oblige, you can be sure.
Papa and Mama, being always faithful in church activities, sang in the choir, which left us kids at home when they had choir practice. The kerosene lamp was put on a high spot on the kitchen stove and we were cautioned not to touch it. To entertain ourselves we played "Hungry Horses"--someone putting a little oatmeal on chairs lined in a row, then getting on our knees we'd nibble up the oats like a hungry horse would. We then went to bed with a full stomach of oats.
Once while we were still living on the old farm, Papa and Mama went to what later was called the Plain View Farm to get some hay, and Pearl and I thought of a great idea. We got the tongue of the buggy down from the rafters in the garage, hooked it to the buggy, and hitched up King and Sandy and away we went on our five mile trek. Our neighbor lady asked us about our trip and thought we 8 and 10 year-olds were very brave. We were thrilled at the thought of how happy Papa and Mama would be to see us. We have often wondered what thoughts crossed their minds when we drove up to them and for them to see the buggy tongue had been put on the wrong way, which could have caused a tragedy. Pearl, the oldest, rode home with Papa and you can be sure there was a lecture, well deserved.
Once en route to church in our old Model T Ford, Papa pointed out our neighbor's horse sitting on his rear on a side hill. Not having seen this before we all had a good laugh.
Sunday School and church services were never missed. Papa sang in the choir and Mama had the gang in one pew. If we were naughty, out to the outhouse she went with one of us getting the spanking. We sat still after that, I think.
Once a year going to Cherry Lake for Choke Cherries was a big event. Mama saw to it that we had provisions for lunch and away we went for the day. We kids climbed those trees like monkeys, and what good jam we got for our school sandwiches the coming winter.
It was fun to get into the sleigh or buggy and go see the neighbors on a Sunday evening. The meals received was not a concern to us kids but have often wondered how the cooks felt. Once we drove to Ericksons' on Saturday thinking it was Sunday, and they were hauling manure.
Moving to the newly purchased farm-home was a new experience, seeing the chickens fly out of the boxes into freedom on the fresh ground will never be forgotten. Climbing the rafters of our new house was scary but we did it. Sleeping in the beds that were placed on the 2 x 4's on the garage's cross-members was a new experience as well as getting down, wasn't easy. Some of us slept in the garage with the carpenters. Estelle was the new baby then and the stress Mama had brought on a bad time for the little one. I can still see Papa holding and consoling her.
Christmas time was very special as we spoke the pieces assigned to us. If we received a gift it was from our Aunt and Uncle from Montana. Unbeknown to us these gifts had been brought down to cheer us, as it is hard seeing others receive nice gifts and especially dolls. Sometimes we had only a box of candy but we knew there was no money for gifts - but we had each other and lots of love. A trip to the Thorsen Church Christmas program was a big event and another box of candy. On the way home near the church we were too close to the side of the ditch and over we went, kids, candy, and Mama hanging on to the baby. With a little help from someone we were on our way again. This trip was done with us kids in mind, I'm sure. It would have been easier on the folks to just tuck us in bed and stay home.
Once when Mama was expecting a little one it was thrashing time. Papa kept his eye on the house and in one moment's time he ran to the tractor shutting off the engine. Then he ran all the way home because a dish towel had been placed where he could see it and that was the sign that another little one was showing up. I don't remember but it may have been Ruth being delivered with the help of Martha Vorseth. What a welcome we gave the new-born.
Mama loved a large garden and planted it after a layer of manure had been spread on a garden spot. Her very special favorites were gooseberries, raspberries, a small patch of asparagus and rhubarb. Two hundred quarts of fruit and vegetables, plus meats, were canned every fall to feed the ever increasing family that had come to gladden this home.
Bob Ginther had a terrific idea, to give the folks a Model A Ford he had found, with each of us kids helping to pay for it. When we drove to the farm in two cars I am sure many thoughts went through the folks's minds but in no time we had a large cardboard sign with our names upon it tied to the radiator with a big red bow. When the folks saw what it said Papa and Mama jumped into the front seat and Leroy stood up in the back, and it didn't take long before the motor was started up and off to the school section they went to try it out. That was one of their many happy days, I believe.
The old doctor book brought us many illnesses - like chewing bull thistle roots for when we had a toothache, which made it quit hurting. Many times Mama trudged upstairs to find out how we were feeling when we had been sick. One night when having a terrible toothache I was placed between Papa and Mama. The night was so long that I was sure the Lord had already come and left us.
One year Papa and Mama decided to go to the Mitchell Corn Palace. Pearl stayed home to do the chores. The Merry-go-round was fun but sleeping on the hard floor at McLeods' I'll never forget.
A daily happy event was coffee-time between three and four P.M. The call always brought Papa on the run. Sunday School lessons were a must but the home work required wasn't so easy to do, but Papa and Mama kept prodding us on. There were the stormy Sundays on which we didn't venture out to S.S. or Church, so Papa took up the whole hour to read God's Word. What a long hour that was to restless children. Later this was to give us an opportunity for a Christian High School education, and all nine of us graduated from Augustana Academy. For Pearl's and my confirmation dress, Aunt Ana and Mama did the lay-out and sewing. I thought no one could have had prettier ones.
Life on a farm varied but the day we butchered a hog was a lot of work. The meat was brought up to the kitchen table after being dipped in scalding water to remove the hair. Mama had a special ability to cut the meat up correctly and to dole out the portions for canning, frying, and some to pack in pure lard in large crocks, all for the coming winter. Once while dragging a field I kept an eye on the fence posts on the other end of the field in order to drag a straight line, and Papa who gave only a few compliments really shared one that next day after checking on my work.
As summer ended the Sunday School had a picnic at Lake Norden, and for us it was a day to be remembered as an old bloomer and a dress was good enough to swim with in those days.
Papa was happy when he could direct at least thirty young people in a neighborhood band that would play in the small cities in the area. Do you remember, Pearl and Myrt?
The croquet court arranged by Papa on the front lawn was lots of fun with friends that came to see us. The front lawn was also used for a tent meeting held to celebate Papa and Mama's 50th Wedding Anniversary.
The Fellowship meetings with Frank Kirby was always a special Sunday for them as they attended every one that they could. Many times they came home at midnight and then had to round up the cows for a belated milking.
A camera and projector gave Papa and Mama an opportunity to present the Mexican Mission work in many churches. This was a high-light in their latter years. The Lord blessed their love and concern for these dear people. Their trip to Old Mexico and the encouragement they gave to the efforts there have borne much fruit in lives and still does.
After Papa died it was my heart-felt experience each year to visit with Mama. We had so many precious hours together that I shall treasure always. When we kissed each other "goodbye" we never knew if we would ever meet here again, but 20 years were to pass after Papa passed away that she was permitted to be with us. We thank the Lord for this wonderful privilege of having had her wonderful sweet life among us. Blessed be both of their memories. --In loving memory, the 2nd of 9 children, Bernice A. Schaefer
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