GEORGIA KATHERYN CARLEY
Written 1989 - 1992
I, Georgia Katheryn Carley Woody Perine, was born at Broderick,
Kansas, on december 9, 1902 on an 80 acre farm (homestead) which had been settled on by my
Grand Mother and (her) husband in 1871. Thomas white Carley, my Father, (died august 19,
1949) bought the homestead from my Grand Mother, Rachel McCormick White Carley and the heirs, after her husband
My Father and Mother, Mary Catherine Henry Carley (died May 7, 1946), were married February
23, 1898. in December 1899, a son, Tommy was born premature and died a few
December 4, 1899, a brother, Richard Leroy, was born.
he died June 27, 1985. my older brother.
December 9, 1902, Georgia Katheryn was born.
May 4, 1905, William Maxwell was born. he died may 31, 1949.
September 22, 1908, Henry Wayne was born. he died January 8,
January 16, 1913, Charles Franklin was born.
September 3, 1914, Velum Loren was born. she died may 7, 1916.
August 16, 1917, Robert warren was born. he died September 28, 1949.
I recall when Wayne (age 4 months) had
whooping cough and almost died. Richard ran barefoot through the snow to the neighbors and Mrs. Jennie Kohler
came. they held Wayne by his feet, pounded on his back, and he came to and lived. That year I
started to school at Broderick, but when we got hooping cough we couldn't go, so I missed
that year. next year we sold the homestead, built a new home in the Greenwood school
district so we started there that fall. we had several "kids" so we were always
Aving company come to our house for Sunday meals. someone came with dyptheria. Wayne got it during
thanksgiving vacation and the doctor (dr. Ben burner, sr.) was there every day and some
nights. there went another year of school. Wayne almost died then. we, the rest of the family, could not go near the room
in which he and Mother were. I was 7 years old, but I got breakfast, cooked oatmeal and
Dad helped with bacon (home smoked), pancakes, and eggs. dr. burner was there for
breakfast and I was embarrassed because I didn't think I could get breakfast for a doctor.
he ate everything and said it was the best oatmeal he ever ate. 'course, we had real cream
on it, too. he was always our family doctor until he died and we were a special family of
his, he said.
I attended Greenwood school and graduated from 9th grade
there. we lived in Manhattan one year, rented the farm and Dad went into the livery
business, but Mom didn't like it in town so we went back to our farm. if you don't know
what "livery" means, they rented out horses and top buggies as we now rent cars.
while in Manhattan we lived in a 14 room house, all modern, with an upstairs and long
stairway. I always wanted to slide down those banisters, but nice children (girls) didn't
do that! we rented the upstairs to college girls. the house was just south on the corner
from k. state campus. there's a store there now and the area is Aggieville. after football
games I could hear "rock-chock-Jayhawk", (if) K. U. played k. state.
sent me to the store with money one day to get a pound of steak and the rest in peanut
candy. Richard thought I wasn't old
enough so he rides in on his bicycle (which wasn't like those now). he always thought he
knew more than even Mom and Dad.
anyway, I told the clerk, "I want some beef steak and the rest in peanut candy."
before I could tell him how much, Richard
piped up and said "she don't know" and he told him. of course, I was mad at him.
Once that winter he played "hooky" and he and two other boys went skating on a
creek. the ice broke and they pulled Richard
out and he walked home, half frozen and plenty scared. Mom gave him a hot
bath, wrapped him in a blanket and sat him behind the heating stove and gave him hot
lemonade. he lived, but never did that again. oh! he played "hooky" lots of
times and threatened me if I told.
While in Manhattan, Dad bought a new Jackson automobile.
he drove it home and we were so proud. we all went out on the front porch to see him drive
it in the driveway. he did and hit a tree and ruined it. cars were not made
then as they were later. this was 1910. today a 1910 car looks strange, if you can find
* * * * * * * *
That year in my room in Manhattan there were 54 students
in the am and the same number in the p.m. I went to school only half days. the teacher had
to sit in the doorway and have each one come to her to recite. we had reading, writing (on
slates) and numbers. I passed three grades that one year so when we went back to the farm
I was with the classes I'd missed those 2 years. We had programs twice a year and
"spelling bees" every Friday night for years. we'd challenge other schools. when
I was in 7th grade, I out spelled everyone that night except a teacher from another
school. they pronounced words from the speller, the dictionary and still we kept on.
finally, after it was getting so late, they pronounced "Indian" and she spelled
it "Indian" so I beat her. we always had lunches at those times, so everyone
came. the farmer's union held meetings there, also, and one night they had an oyster
supper. they made tubs of oyster soup and everyone in the district came. afterward, we
played games outside. it was cold, but we loved it. all at once in the northern sky the
strangest colored lights flashed like huge (lighted) lighted rainbows streaking all over.
we went inside and told the adults. they came out and some were so afraid, they thought
the world was coming to an end. my Dad
explained that it was the (sp.?)aurora borea alisis, the northern lights, and what caused
it. some of the people in our district were from Germany and Russia. they weren't very
well educated either. the men went to school only three months because they were needed to
farm or help on the farm. some were 18 and 21 years old and never did finish school, but
they knew how to grow crops and make money. they weren't ignorant, just hadn't been to
One year (1915) we rented our farm and went to Ellis, in
western Kansas to live for Mom's
health. she had asthma and the doctor thought it would help. it did, but everyday I cried
to come back home. Dad did carpenter
work and built several houses in Wakened, Ks, about 20 miles from Ellis. we bought two
houses in north Ellis. we lived in south Ellis. they called it quality hill. people in
that part were (or thought they were) better than the ones across the tracks (n. Ellis).
anyway, we lived across from the banker and family and Raymond and Roma nelson were our
friends, also, Francis Casey and kitty Ferbeck. we were always writing plays and acting
them out. Dad fixed up a tent that we
had so we could have our plays. Roma's Mother, an actress from California, would send
trunks full of beautiful clothes to store at the house and we dressed up in them to act.
we thought we were "great".
The banker and wife were Uncle and Aunt to Roma and Raymond. Richard, of course, thought we were nuts. he ran with a
cousin who lived on the north side so we just turned our noses at them. one night after
school two "bad boys" tagged us home, pulled our pigtails, etc. we were
scared!!! out came Richard and George (the cousin) and did those bad guys
scramble. Richard and George told them if they ever bothered
us again they'd fix them! so, we were glad to have them around. Francis Cosky's Mother was
just beautiful. her Father was a barber, but they all lived with her Grand Mother. Francis
asked me to go home with her one evening. I
did. her Mother always looked so sad, I thought.
the next day she told me her Mother shot herself. I
couldn't understand someone so pretty doing that. I
guess her Father was going with someone else.
the Grand Mother got custody of Frances. we moved back to our farm that spring and life
went on, but we moved to Ellis and they gave us entrance exams and they put me one grade
ahead, so that put me in the same grade as Richard.
he was mad, of course. when we came back to the farm, I was ahead of the class I'd always been with and I wanted to stay with them, so I took the same things over so we could all go to high
school together. well, none of them went to high school, so I was alone, a country girl, knowing no one. there were 4
country girls that year, so we stuck together. the town girls were "snooty" but
we didn't care. the teachers assigned our seats in study hall and we sat down. in came
some big dude town boys and sat in the seat behind us. the one who sat with me I pushed him out on the floor. he left me
alone after that.
Things went on, as they do, and there was a high school
party and we were all expected to go to get acquainted. The lady where I boarded, Aunt Jessie Ferguson, was a tall sedate lady, black eyes and
hair. she threw a shawl over her shoulders, lit the lantern and escorted me to the party.
well!! that did it! they all laughed, but she was protecting me. I lived through the party and one of the town boys took me
to the gate, kissed me on the cheek and took off home. there were two other girls staying
at Aunt Jessie's, one in high school
and one in grade school. the one in high school was a senior and I a freshman. we became good friends.
1918 * * * * * * *
That year the 'flu' broke
out. many people died. Aunt Jessie was
a nurse (not RN) she went to take care of people who needed her so she put me in charge of
the household. I'll never know why me!
Fleda was her niece and older, but she never depended on her for some reason. her Mother, (Aunt Jessie's), grandma Kersey lived there
too. she was a delightful old lady and so much fun. Aunt
Jessie was so stern and sedate, we never laughed at the table or anywhere else,
really. she was good to us, but so serious. when she was gone, grandma Kersey would laugh and joke. once she recited
"snow bound" which was a classic, a book. she knew every word. she also told me
that my Grand Mother, Elizabeth Burgess Henry,
when she was a young lady, was chosen beauty queen. grandma
had never mentioned that and was embarrassed when I told her. she was a very popular young lady, so I was told. she taught school, also. in my
sophomore year, I stayed with an
elderly lady. she put me in a room lined with big pictures (12" x 15") of every
member of her family who had died. the pictures were taken in their caskets. it was
spooky. she also had a grandson she wanted me to go with, so second semester, I bathed. I had a cot, a dresser, a stove (a little square flat topped
one with one lid) Jolene had one like it, I
think), on which I cooked (soup, meat
and potatoes, mostly, or eggs). there were no hot lunches in school then. we went home for
lunch and had no time to cook, so we ate sandwiches and drank water. no way to keep milk.
a few times we fried oysters. two other girls had the downstairs room. mine was up a long
flight of stairs, so the two down would come up, we'd lie on the cot and look out the
window at people going by. in the small town of Louisville,
there weren't many to see and everyone knew everyone else and knew all about their
Once, Margaret tucker and I went riding with 2 boys. out
close to town they stopped the car and started to put their arms around us. I boxed their
ears and we got out and told them we'd walk home so they took off. it was winter, snow
packed ground. we sneaked out a side road which led past the cemetery. the boys came back,
looked for us several times, but we hid. when we went past the cemetery, we were scared
green. each step we took, running, we imagined ghosts were after us. we finally got home
(it was only a mile) we told Lucy, Margaret's sister, "if the boys come and ask about
us to just really give them a lecture and she did. told them they'd better find us or be
in big trouble. we were behind the door giggling our heads off. next morning, on the way
to school, the storekeeper stopped us to hear a new record he had. the record was
"don't take advantage of my good nature, I've walked home before". in those days
it was great to have a phonograph. that's what he had. I guess the word got around about
our walking home. in these days, the girls probably put their arms around the boys!
In grade school I had the leads in every dialogue we ever
had and we would have a program every month with several dialogues (short plays) each
time. my teacher took me all over the county to give pianologues. those were readings
given to music. when I was ten years old, my brother and I sang several songs and I played
the organ), for a county meeting. there were over 400 people there. this was in 1912.
In 1936 when we lived in St. Mary's, a man who was running
for office came to our house to leave his card and told me he remembered me playing and
singing at that meeting. A minister from Manhattan and his sister were at one of the
programs, heard the reading and asked Mom and Dad to let me go that summer with the
Chautauqua, that they'd take good care of me and be responsible for me. I wanted to go
very much, but my parents wouldn't even consider it so that was that!
They did send me on the train that summer to stay with and
help my Aunt Flo who lived on a ranch south of Ellis. she had had an operation and needed
someone. I had a great time. she had two daughters, just a few years younger. we cooked
for harvest hands, went fishing, horse back riding and I was tanned as brown as an Indian.
1919-1920 * * * * * * *
Next year, I went to Wamego high school.
in one building the eight grades were on the lower level and the four years of high school
on the top floor. there was a long winding open stairway. one morning, as I was going up
the stairs, the principal came up behind me and pinched by behind! I flung my hand around
and smacked him and said, "I'll tell my Dad on you." he could have flunked me,
but from then on he treated me with respect. when the grade teachers were ill or absent, I
was sent to teach for them. of course, I was thrilled, but as I look back, there were 8 or
9 others taking teacher's training. out of the group taking state teacher's exams, only
three of us passed.
Then, if you had taken four years of normal training in
high school and passed state exams, you received a state certificate to teach and I did.
at that time I was 4 feet 11 inches tall, weighed 84 pounds, wore a size 3 shoe, didn't
know what cosmetics were. the only make up we used was in plays. burnt cork, red tissue
paper for rouge and that was all.
Our first teacher's certificate stated that if we used
powder or rouge we would have our certificates revoked. no one used make up except the
"red light district" people.
On graduation, we went to the moving picture house, used
the stage for our exercises, as the high school had no room. there was no (basketball)
gym. we used to practice out doors. once we played Bellevue out doors and it was snowing.
We played over the funeral home at night games. Wamego, in later years, played in an old
Before in the spring graduation, I had a school east of Wamego.
the men were in the field so I said I'd come out later to sign the contract. I was to go
on Monday evening. Monday morning, my (very fine) teacher called me in and asked if I had
taken my home school south of Wamego. I told her "no, that I had the one east of town
where she had sent me first. she told me that another girl had gone out there, told them I
had taken my home school and signed the contract. Miss. Beasley, my normal teacher said,
"get a car and we'll go out and tell them she lied and break the contract". I
was shocked. this girl was supposed to be a good friend.
I told Mrs. Beasley that I wouldn't do that and I'd get
another school. I had an offer from maple hill and took it, all nine grades and the very
first 8 month school in Wabaunsee county. other schools were 7 month schools. That year I
had to make up four subjects that the teacher the year before hadn't taught. the 9th
graders couldn't take county exams without them. I had all nine grades plus that, twenty
six pupils and 46 classes.
Everyone kept telling me "poor little Chester"
before school started. I didn't ask why. When school started I had each 1st and 2nd grader
read so I could place them. I gave each a book to read. they all did very well.
I gave Chester a 1st grade book and he read every page,
never missed a word, but his book was up-side-down. I passed Chester to 2nd grade! his
parents came, so did the school board and said he just couldn't make it. I told them that
"anyone who could memorize a book and make no mistakes" could learn and I kept
him there. he made it and in world war ii, Chester was a pilot in the air force. you don't
get there if you can't learn. no one had bothered to teach him. he was slow at first and
they didn't bother.
In October, another pupil came who had been in California.
the school board had warned me that his Mother, an Seams, had made trouble for the teacher
before me and if she came to school to let them know.
One day about 3:00 p.m., one pupil held up her hand and
said Mrs. miller was coming. I said, "oh, I'm glad to have visitors." she
knocked. I answered and she said "I'd like to see the teacher." I said, "I
am the teacher, won't you come in?" she came in. I gave her a seat, told her what we
were doing, gave her a book and she stayed, even after school and was the best of friends.
her son, Billy, was a dear and in 2nd grade. he came one day and became very ill. I pulled
seats up by the pot bellied stove, wrapped my coat around him and after school walked him
home. he had the mumps and I got them (1921) and was quarantined for 30 days.
In 1936, Billy miller came to see me in St. Mary's, a
grown man. he said when he was in school back then, he was going to grow up and marry me!
who would think a second grader would even think about those things. Also, that year in
November, a family came from Czechoslovakia and couldn't speak a word of English. the
Father came with two children, a boy, Slovick, and a girl, Lydia (pronounced Lleega), as
near as he could say it. the boy was older so I put in the grade with children his age and
the girl in first grade. they couldn't speak or understand English. I used pictures,
gestures, abc's, etc. how I taught them I'll never know, but they soon learned and were
good students, although for weeks, Leega (Lydia) sat on my lap and cried as I had classes
reciting. they were nice children. in world war ii, Lydia was an interpreter in
Washington, dc and Slovak was and is a minister.
In March that year, the Mother of a 9th grade girl died in
childbirth. there were seven children, five of them in school. the Father was going to
take Rae, the 9th grader out of school to care for the two younger ones, one 2-1/2 and the
other 4. I asked if he'd send them to school and we would care for them so she could
graduate. he said she'd have to do the washing and ironing. I said I'd help her on
Saturdays, so that's what we did. all day Saturday we washed, on the board, and ironed on
Sunday. at my parents home we had a washing machine run by a gasoline engine. my hands and
knuckles were raw. I don't know how I managed, but she got to go into maple hill town and
take her final exams.
At hat school, when I went, there was no dictionary, no
library, no stage, an old pump organ in the horse barn outside so I had a program and box
supper, bought a dictionary and a few library books. I also bought a set of world books,
myself. we had monthly community meetings and I asked people in the district to give
readings, sing, and take part. they had never had anything like that & liked it.
When there were programs, the parents sent curling irons
that had handles and so that the iron hung into the lamp chimney and I had to curl the
girls' hair and cut the boys hair. teachers then carried coal, made fires, scrubbed the
floor, washed windows and were expected to go to each parent's home for a meal or stay
over night. It was quite an experience. they were fine people and they asked me back with
After our Christmas program, I came back to my school and
they had built a stage, bought stage curtains, and did everything that was needed. before,
I had used the old broom until it was too worn to sweep, so I told the school boards'
children I would just brush all the dirt under their desks until I got a new broom. boy
that brought the treasurer out. he said, "we would have got you a new one, but you
went into the hardware store and told them you didn't want a broom, you wanted a brush. I
replied, "I don't even know where the hardware store is. I've never been there."
He told me who it was, so when I went into town (1 mile away) I went into the hardware
store, asked for the manager (owner was Lee Laine), and told him what I thought of him. he
stuttered so it was really funny to hear him try to explain. he just wanted to sell a
brush. well, they got one and it wouldn't go under the seats which were nailed to the
floor in rows. I really didn't appreciate Lee Rraine selling them that brush. he was the
Another time, we needed coal but all three board members
had to get together to do anything, so we ran out and the whole school went into Adam's
cornfield and gathered corn stalks to burn and I sent word to the board unless we had coal
we wouldn't have school. they got it, pronto. in those days it's a wonder I wasn't fired.
Then I met Joe woody. he was to be our Santa Claus at the Christmas program. I'd never
seen him but was told he was not tall, about 5 1/2 feet & plump. well that night when
I tried to help Santa in the window it was a tall, skinny man, Raymond Adams. Joe had
backed out. later I met him at Dudney's where I boarded. he was going with one of the
When Ddudney's needed to go to town for groceries, they'd
get Joe's ford, I'd drive them in. the ford was always out of gas, so I'd go to Mackie's
filling station and fill it. two days later they wanted to go somewhere and again the car
was out of gas. finally I got wise. gas was cheap and cars didn't use that much. I learned
later, much later (after I married Joe Woody) that he was selling the gas to friends or
his brother, Bryan. Live and learn.
In 1922, on June 18, Joe woody and I were married. this
was his proposal. "I've got a job at the Santa Fe shops, will you keep house for
me?" I never dreamed he meant it and I said, "sure". I went home to near
Manhattan where my folks lived. he didn't know where, but he showed up on Sunday and asked
Dad if it was all right to marry me. Dad
called me out and I just stood there, dumbfounded. two weeks later we were married by the
probate judge in Manhattan. the judge wasn't going to marry us. he wouldn't believe I was
19 going on 20. he never questioned Joe, so I told him to call my parents, they were on
the Manhattan line so he performed the rituals. when he said "honor and obey", I
said no so he changed it to "honor and cherish."
We went to Paxico to see his sister and I didn't know he
had one. when I asked her name he said "Nettie maginley". I thought he was
joking. then we went to see is his parents and he had two little brothers, Lee and Melvin.
later we went there to stay all night and were in bed asleep when we heard the darndest
racket, banging and whistling and cow bells. they'd come to Charivari us and I wouldn't
get up. I didn't know any of them. they were going to drag me out of bed, so I got up. we
weren't prepared, so promised them a dance at Snokomo hall the next Saturday night, rented
the hall and had some eats and Joe's cousins, may and Ed sage, who played for dances,
played. I had to dance with everyone. some smelled of garlic, some of alcohol. I wasn't
thrilled and Joe was jealous so it wasn't the greatest. then the Woody's had a big dinner,
invited everyone and gave us a shower.
Monday, June 18th, we finally got to Topeka where Joe and
a family of three had rented a house together. on Tuesday, (she had saved the washing) we
washed all day. Wednesday, we picked and canned cherries and my life has been about the
Later we decided we weren't going to furnish eats for all
her family and pay half of everything so we rented a house next to Dan Woolly's (a cousin)
and went to ermahizer & Speilmans and bought a bed, mattress and springs, four chairs,
a table, a cot and rocking chairs (2 of them) a big one for him and a small one for me.
his sister gave us a one burner oil stove and Mom gave us a little oven that fit the
burner. we bought a little heating stove and went to house keeping. there were no curtains
or draperies, so I cut up sheets, embroidered them, and sewed them by hand to cover the
We lived at 1313 east crane, later a dump. then we moved
to 1315 east crane. I was expecting so the group we knew and the store keepers wife had a
shower. everything I got was miles too big, I learned, for when Mary Maxine was born she
weighed a scant 6 1/2 lbs. with clothes. I bought doll shoes at the dime store for her.
Mrs. Dudney was to stay with me when she was born, but
they had scarlet fever so Joe got some woman he knew and she came. she burned all my pans
and gave Mary a bath (in december) laid her in a chair, went out doors and left the door
open and Mary got pneumonia, 2 days old. Joe wouldn't eat her food, so he ate next door at
his cousins. the dr. told me to stay in bed, flat on my back for 9 days. well, the 2nd
day, I got up and told the woman to go and I took care of Mary. the 3rd day, I washed on
the board and never had such a back ache. we called the doctor for Mary and he had a fit
that I was up, but gave us medicine for her and told me how to use it. I had written Mom
so here they came, took Mary and me home and took care of us until she and I were O.K.
Before she was born, I had to go to the bathroom as I was
having cramps. Joe was always bringing home "Santa Fe pills" and sneaking them
into my cocoa. I thought that was what was wrong. the toilet was on the alley (no indoor
bath) so I went out in my nightgown at 2:30 a.m. and couldn't get back. finally at 5:00
a.m. I went back into the house, woke Joe and told him I was sick and to make a fire, I
was cold. he said "oh, get into bed and you'll be okay and went back to sleep. I put
on a coat and shoes and went back to the alley toilet. at 7:30 I practically crawled back,
made a fire and by that time Joe got up, saw me and went after Mae (cousin woody) next
door. he had to be to work at 8. Mae came and looked at me and said "get the dr.
now." Dan and Joe went 4 blocks to call the doctor. I was to have gone to the doctor
on Saturday to get a check up and list of things I'd need when Mary was born. He came and
said this was a false alarm and about that time I needed to go to the toilet. he said no,
just use the slop-jar which was a bucket-toilet affair. Mae took me into the bedroom to
use it and called the doctor and Mary arrived. the old woman Joe called was to help the
doctor. he asked if she'd ever given ether, she said she had, so he handed her a mask and
she set it on my face upside down. the doctor grabbed it and tossed it into the corner and
told her he didn't need her. I had almost lost Mary down that toilet which was connected
to the sewer. I've had a few nightmares about that!!
In 1930, the dr. who delivered Mary, garnished Joe's wages
to pay for her, 7 years later. In 1925, Winona was born at Mom's and Dad's and Dad paid
that bill. in 1924, we left Topeka and moved to maple hill. Joe got a job on Sell's ranch
and in July we moved out on the ranch. I was pregnant with Winona and every day, Monty
lemon, who worked on the Sell's ranch, drove out and he'd eat dinner with us. each day
he'd bring a rabbit and ask me to boil beans, bake biscuits and fry rabbit. he said I
cooked the best beans and biscuits he ever ate, but I got a little tired of that. I also
cooked pumpkins and squash and made pies. we had an old cook stove in which we burned
cobs. try baking pies, cooking beans, biscuits and frying rabbit while stuffing cobs into
the stove and taking care of a child not a year old and washing on the board. Joe smoked
and one night I smelled smoke and the sheet was on fire. from then on he didn't smoke in
Old man sells was crippled, so he'd ride down from the big
house to ours and ask me to go out and get his mail for him. I would carry Maxine on one
hip and get this mail. I wouldn't do it today if I was pregnant and big as a barrel and
carry a 9 month old child on show to get mail for a millionaire on a fancy pony. once I
went up there to buy eggs and they ask me in. he took me into his library to show me some
trophies and a huge dog came in, pushed his head under the big rug and completely rose
that rug (9x12) right off the floor. Mr. sells said he always did that & thought it
was great. the dog was a great Dane and large as a year old calf.
1925 * * * * * * *
bought a farm at Keats, north and west of Manhattan and put us on it along with his
registered Holstein herd and we were to sell milk and cream to the college. we had a nice
house, kitchen with built-ins, dining and living room, 3 bedrooms upstairs. Winona was
born Feb. 12, 1925. we moved March 1st into this farm. There was a milk house with a
spring piped through and a wonderful pasture. Dad gave us chickens, horses and furnished
all the equipment. we were doing great when one day Mary said "Mother, a big
worm" at her feet was a snake in the kitchen, a foot long. Joe came in and killed it.
next day there was one in the dining room and I said they were in the cellar and the Mother would come next. One day the wind was so strong I
had a hard time closing the door after Joe left with the milk and cream for Manhattan. I
finally closed it, turned around and at my feet was the biggest snake I've ever seen. I
grabbed the children, put them on the cot in the living room and told them not to get off
the cot. I went out to get the ax, but the neighbor had borrowed it. I got the broom and
hoe and came back into the house. the snake had crawled behind the cabinet (like the one
whistle finished for Kate). it's head stuck out one side and it's tail out the other. it
had wrapped itself around the whole cabinet. I poked with the broom until it fell to the
floor and started crawling to the middle of the floor. I chopped and chopped until I had
it killed then I crawled up on the cot with the girls and cried and sat there until Joe
came and I told him I was leaving that place. he got cobs and stopped up all the holes and
we didn't have any more reptiles.
One June afternoon it got as black as night. Joe came in
from the field and put the horses in the barn and came in. we knew we were in for a storm.
I looked out west of the house and saw a huge cloud of earth rise right up. I told Joe it
was a tornado. he just laughed, but I had seen lots of them in Ellis county. the sun came
out and all was as still as death except that tail of earth going to the north east. my
folks heard about it and came up next day and took us around where it had struck. one
place there were three huge trees just braided together and the house (a stone one) had
every window and door gone. the man had seen it coming, grabbed his children and stooped
to go into the cellar and the door flew over his head. if he hadn't been Bent over, he
would have been killed. his wife and neighbor had gone out to pick gooseberries nearby and
crawled into a dugout so were safe. the barn where he had ties his horses to the stalls
was gone, but the horses were found on the hillside, still tied to the stalls and not
injured. from then on when a storm came up, Joe put the team away, and took us in the car
to shepherds (neighbors) to the cave. we spent on night there, all of us, in the cave. one
day we had a terrible hail storm. I had an old Plymouth rock hen and 17 chickens. I
couldn't get them in and just had to stay by the window and watch. she gathered all those
baby chicks under her body and wings with hail just pounding her. when it was over the
poor thing nearly drowned and beaten, but every chick was safe and she came out of it
later. I gathered hail and made ice cream. it was inches thick and all over the ground.
In March Joe's Dad
wanted us to go to Snokomo to live on his farm. he had 2 strokes and moved into Paxico.
Joe said "yes" so my Dad sold the farm, took the herd of cows back and we were
all loaded in Dad's truck to move. I stopped at the mail box and there was a letter from
Joe's Dad saying he had decided to let the man who was on his farm stay there. there we
were, no place to go so we went home to my Dad's. the girls and I stayed there and Joe
went to Nettie's, his sister, south of Paxico. they had built a little 4 room cottage when
they married, but when old Mr. and Mrs. maginley died, they moved into the large stone
house so Joe was to farm Mr. Grey's farm across the road from his sisters farm and live in
the little house. he came and got our furniture and went to Nettie's. I had a cold and was
to drive down later. as Joe drove over the hill to his sisters home, he saw smoke pouring
over the place. his sister was in the hospital in Topeka. Ed, her husband, was across the
creek at the bard and the house burned down. Ed, john, Ellen and Joe moved into the four
rooms. Mary Maxine (2 years) Winona (1 year), and I moved in and Nettie when she got home
from her appendectomy. I cooked, washed, ironed, and took care of everyone...8 people in
four rooms...!! so Joe got a job as a road maintainer at maple hill and we rented a house
there. I sang in the church choir, carried wash water and drinking water from the town
pump 3 blocks away. try that! carrying a big bucket of water, dragging 2 little girls and
washing on the board. one day I had the wash boiler on the stove and the alarm clock on
the stove shelf above and (I) was doing the "Charleston" (a dance) and the
floor, not very sturdy, shook. the clock fell into the boiler of hot water. woe is me!
That summer when
Joe was grading the road west of town, a man he knew rode across the pasture to talk to
him. when he got to the road he was white as a sheet and Joe asked what was wrong. the man
said he'd just seen a body in the ditch so they went back and there it was. a man in
overalls about 6 ft 6 inches tall but his hands and face had been eaten and he was, of
course, bloated. Joe stayed while the other man went to call the sheriff. all this while
there was a new bright blue car parked up the hill and Joe said it had been there everyday
for 2 weeks. the sheriff came, they removed the body, but no one knew who it was. they
searched the pasture (several hundred acres) near where it was found, but nothing!
In March, Mr. Steven's, a storekeeper there, had bought a
radio. only wealthy people had those then. he invited us, and several others, to his home
to listen in. on the news, a woman from Nebraska said her husband had bought a farm in
southern Kansas and had gone there to get it ready for them to move and never came back.
she had a three month old baby and she was asking anyone who had seen him to contact her.
this was in March, so we weren't concerned and forgot it.
That spring we lived just north of maple hill high school,
just between the has. and Cozad's big house on the north (Wayne's house). a bright blue
car would park there in our yard and visit the school. chuck Fauerbach, frank Steven's son
and a Whittington boy. the Whittington was an orphan who worked for a car salesman in
silver lake and was 5 ft 2 inches tall and weighed 120 lbs. the other men were bit, tall
and weighed about 180 lbs.
That fall, these two, Whittington and Fauerbach, took 2
st. Mary's girls out and got them drunk and dumped them out. they contacted bill Sullivan
in st. Mary's and he stopped the men, searched the car trunk and found a hammer all bloody
and blood in the trunk. they had been rabbit hunting so he warned them and sent them on
That fall people were still coming to the area where the
body was found. they went a long way west in the pasture and found a tire cover from a
dealer in Mayetta so they took it to alma. the sheriff called Mayetta and they said,
"yes, a man from Nebraska had been headed to a farm in south Kansas. his car broke
down and he wired home for money to get a new car and had about $400 on him when he left.
that new car was the blue one these two had so they were arrested. the man had stopped in
Roseville, ate at the cafe there and had paid for the meal with a roll of bills. Fauerbach
and Whittington were there so when the man went to the Roseville park where he slept that
night (there weren't hotels, etc. then), these two waited until he was asleep to rob him.
he awoke and saw them so they shot him through the mouth and it came out the top of his
head. then they loaded him into his car trunk, took his car, trailer with plows and other
equipment, bed clothes, jewelry, money, and took off. when the officers went to
Fauerbach's, chuck had all of the farm tools, bedding, and even had the man's wedding suit
on and his gold watch in his pocket.
Next day the Topeka state journal came out with 3 inch
headlines "Fauerbach arrested for murder! I saw all this. Mr. Fauerbach, chuck's
Father was Joe's overseer of township roads and told us, "you won't see any more of
that" and we didn't. he was a 'big shot' mason and they threw weight around so no
more news, but later it came out, "Whittington convicted for life for murder".
everyone knew a 5 ft 120 lb. boy could not lift a man that big into the trunk of a car,
carry him 1/2 mile into a pasture and into a ditch there.
Years later we
moved into Topeka at 1108 n Quincy st., next door to Casebiers. Mr. Casebiers' brother was
a law student a Washburn and heard we were from maple hill so he came to ask if we knew
anything about the murder there. I told him Joe was one of the men who found the body and
that the Whittington boy's sister had gone to school to me. he said he sat in all through
that trial and that Fauerbach's promised Whittington that they'd go all out and clear him
so Whittington confessed and Fauerbach's left him flat. after 40 years in prison,
Whittington was paroled and chuck Fauerbauch, now in st. Mary's, had a heart attack,
joined the church!!? Whittington said he bore no grudge and was intended
only to live out his life in peace.
Joe was going to join the masons in st. Mary's, but when
he learned that they'd held a silent meeting and initiated chuck Fauerbach he would have
no part of it. the Steven's boy really wasn't mixed in it at all. he'd just rode around
with them a few times.
Maple hill had another murder in 1920. the Rufe king
murder. Rufe ran a livery stable
and when people came to town and had to stay the night, he kept their horses in his
barn and the men slept in quarters, too. seems several stayed and were never heard of
again. when I went there to teach, people in Wamego were horrified, but I said I didn't
know king and he was in prison anyway. in maple hill, three of my pupils were the ones who
had really started the search of king's place. they were playing in his barn and there
were sacks full in the loft. these boys got into the sacks and found bones. they took the
bones home and the parents knew they were human so they called the sheriff. king was in
California then. three men had stayed there in recent years and were never heard of again.
one, a gutschall from rossville, a jewelry salesman, and anderson woody from Paxico, an
attorney wrote to king to get home. when he came, he said those were bones from the
Philippines, but he told Alice woody, Mother, that her son had sold him his team and wagon
and gone to Oklahoma.
She wasn't satisfied and when king came to her home after
a pony and saddle he said her son had sold him, she asked if he'd heard from him. he said
yes, but when she ask to see the letter he couldn't find it, so she went to alma and
demanded they arrest him. the Gutshall's also were pressing charges, so they began to
search the barn. the Woody's body was found under a manure pile, the jewelry salesman and
Gutshall under manure in the stalls in the stable. king was sentenced to life and died
there. he put in for parole when Davis was governor and was paroling everybody. king said
he'd kill all the Woody's when he got out. I was living in maple hill then and was married
to Joe woody, a cousin of Anderson's and was scared pink, but he was never paroled and
killed another inmate. so much for murders!!
In August of 1926 some
neighbors from Riley, the Shephards, came on Sunday. his son, hank, owned a cleaning shop
in Manhattan and needed help, so Mr. Shephard wanted Joe to go and hank would teach him
the business, so we sold my hogs, calves and Joe's horses and moved to 515 Vattier
street in Manhattan and Joe delivered, pressed and did other repair work. in March of 1927
hank, who was a big gambler, lost his business, so Joe was without a job. in the meantime
we had moved to 411 colorado, close to Joe's work. we had an apartment above us and rented
it to mr. and Mrs. Kidd, who had 2 girls the age of mine. she kept my girls and I went to
work at Perry packing co. my job was to candle eggs, weigh and sort them into 30 dozen egg
cases. they were cased as to size. the very small ones were in cases and shipped to Cuba
as Cuban eggs. I carried those cases all the way to back of the building and put them on a
pulley. I was 5ft 1 inch tall, 84 lbs, and it wasn't easy. at the end of the month the
boss came to me and said "you get a 5 cent raise" and I said, "you can keep
it, I'm through." Joe got a job lifting iron rods and he lasted 1 week and quit. he
started to sell singer sewing machines. he left one morning and gave me 15 cents and said
he'd be home that night. he was gone a week. (I never knew where) and sold no machines. I
bought a pound of liver and a quart of milk and when that was gone.
I called Mom and Dad and they brought food and milk and
took care of us that week. two little girls (last name guys) came Saturday morning to play
with Maxine and Winona and said "your Daddy stayed all night with our Mommy."
her husband worked on the U. P. railroad and came home once a month. she was originally
from Wamego and not a very decent family either. These girls had a breaking out on them
and in a little over a week, Joe and my girls had the breaking out and I got it later. it
was may and cold and rainy. I had to get out and go 4 blocks to order coal. they
quarantined us for measles. I don't know who did it. I saw the sign on the house. when the
time was up they removed the sign. I called the second hand furniture store and sold
everything for $25 and started out to Mom's and Dad's. I was finished! Joe was
going to st. Joe, moved to Bryan's to look for work, he said.
On the way to Dad's we met Mom and Dad and Vivian,
Richard's wife, had had a baby and the nurse who was with her had to go to another case,
so Mom and Dad would keep Maxine and Winona and I would go to stay with Vivian. she had a
son, Mary's age, and a daughter, Winona's age, and the baby. I went, cooked for hay hands,
washed, ironed, took care of her and 3 kids. that baby cried all the time and at night,
I'd put him across my chest and pat him to sleep. I'd get about 3 hours sleep. finally,
the last of June I went home to Mom's and she and my Aunt Francis Misamore, who stayed
with them, had made my girls the prettiest organdy dresses & organdy and lace bonnets
for the 4th of July. I was pressing them and scorched one of the ties on the bonnet. I
just went all to pieces, cried and cried and couldn't stop. Dad called dr. Brunner and he
said I'd had a nervous breakdown and to stay in bed, gave me medicine. I was in bed from
then until September 1st. couldn't get up without fainting. we'd had scarlet fever, not
measles, and I should never have been out of bed then, but no one was there, so I had to,
then go right to Richard's and work like mad...I just didn't make it. Joe never was around
and we never heard from him.
On September 19th or 20th was fair week in Topeka. Wayne,
my brother was going and take me. I told my parents I was going to look for work, that I
wasn't going to live off them all my life. Dad went looking for Joe. his parents lived in
maple hill, so he went there to see where he was. he'd never gone to st. Joe, but was
staying at Ed Patterson's. Ed was Granma Minnie Woody's relative by marriage and an
alcoholic, never sober. Dad brought Joe back with him and I informed Joe I was going
to Topeka to find work. if he wanted to go look for work this was his last chance or
leave. I guess
have said a few words, so Joe said we'd go. I took changes for the girls and we went to
Aunt Hattie Messingers in season, asked if we could heave her phone number and she
insisted we stay there that night, at least. I got her phone book, copied all the
cleaning shop addresses from west 6th to Kansas avenue and all from south Kansas avenue to
all in north Topeka. we started at the west end of w 6th and I made Joe go in and leave
his application. he came out and said they didn't need anybody and wasn't going any where
else. I told him he'd go to every address I had or I'd go and leave his application. he
wasn't happy, but I made him go. after we'd been to every one we went back to Hattie's.
she insisted we eat. they were getting ready. Joe was going back to maple hill. as he was
washing his hands the phone rang. they asked mr. woody to come to work the next day at
$30.00 a week. we got the paper, looked for apartments and found a 4 room furnished one at
1108 n. Quincy, only a few blocks from "the dollar cleaner's" on Kansas avenue
in north Topeka. we went and Mrs. dial (a grand lady) said she had no objection to
children. we told her we were going to maple hill to get money to pay the week's rent ($5)
so Joe went and asked his Dad but he wouldn't lend it so we went back and told Mrs. dial
we couldn't take it. she said, "just move in and pay me when you get paid." we
told her we didn't have money for groceries and she said she'd recommend us to her grocer,
a block away and we could charge it there. we did & we lived there '27, '28 to April
of '29. I worked for two stores in north Topeka and later at Pelletier's for six years.
In the meantime, Joe was always taking me to Mom's and
leaving me and would pick me up later. later never came sometimes. once I got money from
Dad for bus fare. the girls and I got back to Mrs. dial's and at 6:00 Joe wasn't home. I
looked into the refrigerator on the back porch (we all used it, Mrs. dial and us). there
were tomatoes, lettuce, etc. I thought it strange as Joe never ate that. I asked Mrs. dial
about it and she said it was hers. she said, "I'm sorry, Mrs. woody, but Joe hasn't
been here all week." there I was, no money with the girls and Joe gone. I called the
independence cleaner's where he worked and they said he quit and that uncle of his had
been hanging around. I called uncle George in Paxico and Joe answered. I said, "what
are you doing there?" he said, "I'm living here and running uncle George's
cleaning shop." I told him to get back here or I'd send the sheriff after him. he
came and said we were to go back and live with uncle George. I went in & told Mrs.
dial to hold the apartment 99999999999999999999& we'd be back. I took the girls
clothes (a few) and some of mine, sheets, pillow cases, etc., and we went back. uncle
George Woody's place was filthy. he had an alcoholic staying there and he'd vomited on the
rug. I cleared the bed, put my sheets on. the girls and I slept in it. Joe had to sleep
with uncle George and when he snored it rattled the roof. next morning I got the wash pan
and some coal oil and cleaned it out. it was black with dirt. I gave the girls sponge
baths and I too. uncle George asked if I wasn't going to get breakfast & I said
"no". Joe had gone down town to eat at Wayne Woody's restaurant so we did, too,
and charged it to Joe. also we ate dinner there. I told Joe we wouldn't live with uncle
George. I pretended to go along with him running the shop, but we'd rent a house. I looked
and found a house then we had to have furniture. we had none. I went to the furniture
store, found bedroom suites, dining and living rooms, stoves, tables, refrigerator, etc.,
to the tune of nearly $1,000.00 and rent $28.00. I acted very excited and told Joe we
could move right in.
Nettie had come to town and said john and Ellen, her
children, who were going one to high school and one to grade school, could stay with us.
Joe had two fits & said we couldn't buy all that. I said we'd have to, we
didn't have any. The girls were taking all the hangers out of boxes and laying them end to
end to make a path from the door to the shop. I made them stop but everyone said,
"oh, they're so cute, let them alone", so I did and they tried everything. after
Joe delivered the few clothes he had uncle George shave him. uncle George was a barber and
had his barber shop in connection with the cleaning shop. The girls kept fooling around
and gave the chair (barber chair) a whirl and uncle George got mad. he started to give
them an open blade pocket knife to play with. Joe jumped all over him and said he should
have sense enough not to give kids knives to play with. I took uncle George's part. I said
he wasn't used to children. I really didn't mean it, of course. then uncle George went to
turn on the hot water and there was none. the girls had gone into the back room, turned on
the faucet and let out all the water. they didn't have city water then. I had tried to
make them mind, but everyone thought they were so cute, so I turned them loose. well, the
water deal was the last straw & uncle George blew up. Joe said, "hell, we'd never
got along with him", so back to Topeka we went. Joe went back to the
independence cleaners and stayed till 1929.
I forgot to mention, when he was working at the dollar
cleaners the boss came the 2nd week and said "woody, don't come to work monday
morning. Joe came home & said he lost his job. I asked if he ask why & he said no.
that evening the independence cleaners called and he went to work on monday morning. A
year later we were playing bridge with several people and one man asked Joe why he left
the dollar cleaners and Joe said they told him not to come back monday morning. the man
told Joe that when they didn't have any pressing ready, they weren't to come in till
afternoon and that they'd hunted all over for Joe & didn't know why he quit. In April,
1929, Joe took the girls up to Mom and Dad's on Friday & I was to go up Sunday. I had
to work. it had been raining and just kept it up, so north Topeka was flooded. I couldn't
get out. Joe was up north of Wamego at Mom's and the bridges all washed out. I didn't know
it, but Joe had quit his job., bought uncle George's cleaning shop and was planning on
starting one some where so he looked into Wamego & rented a building before I knew
anything about it. he should have known uncle George wasn't to be trusted. he had
"Gipped" two other nephews. When I could get out I had to move my furniture to
Wamego. I'd bought a 3-piece living room set, sweeper, electric iron, etc. Mom gave us 2
iron bedsteads, mattresses & springs, table, chairs, and oil stove. we started the
Wamego dollar cleaners and we were doing fine when two big well dressed black men came in
and informed us that all that equipment was mortgaged. I had always warned Joe not to deal
with uncle George. Joe had borrowed money at the Kaw valley bank in Wamego and my Dad
signed his note.
Joe sent me (on the bus) to Topeka to get some things he
needed and when I got back he had taken the car and left & took the girls to Nettie's.
Dad and I went and got them. they stayed with my folks that summer and I went to work in
dr. Marker's office in st. marys. I made appointments, sent out statements, etc. some
people in Emmett owed him a bill so he told me to write a letter to them saying,
"you've had your harvest, now it's time for mine." and the amount of the bill. I
did, he mailed it and one day here came a man and wife really mad, with the letter. dr.
said "I didn't write it, my secretary did." I was there and I said, "I
wrote exactly what you told me to write." they settled and never cam e
back, they said.
One day in the afternoon I was typing (finger method) some
things he gave me. he walked past me, locked the door and attacked me. I kicked, scratched
and bit and got to the window, which was open, and told him to unlock that door and let me
out or I'd scream down on the street for help. he said, "what would people
think?" "I know what they'll think, so open it or I'll scream". he knew I
would so he opened the door, I grabbed my sweater and left. never did get paid. I went to
work at the restaurant down where Gockel's are now. that was a restaurant down on the
street level and hotel overhead. I waited tables, ran the cash register, the soda fountain
and was promoted to head waitress. the college was open then and in September hundreds of
boys and men came in on the train for college. they'd flock into the restaurant for meals.
once I was waiting on a table, had 2 plates of food in my hands and someone came up behind
me and threw his arms around me. I elbowed him and down he went to the floor. out rushed
the manger and I knew I was fired. he grabbed that kid by the collar and pushed him to the
front door and ordered him not to come back. he probably was 15 or 16 years old and
drinking. I was 26 years old, weighed about 100 lbs, and everyone thought I was a kid.
people would come into the place and ask me for dates. I'd tell them I was married, but
had a couple of daughters who might go. they didn't believe me and would say,
"where's your wedding ring?" I never had one. Joe said he didn't believe in
buying rings. he probably didn't have the money. he was always buying alcohol to sell and
I'd pour it out.
Once when we lived in maple hill, his brother's wife, Eva,
came and stayed with us and said she knew bryan, her husband and Joe's brother, had liquor
stored in our barn where we kept our horses, but she was afraid to do anything. he beat
her up all the time so I went to the barn (across the street) and searched. I found
nothing. finally I ran my hands through the hay in the manger and there were 2 ten gallon
glass containers. I opened them and poured it all out. about an hour later here came bryan
and Eva's brother and were they angry. eva was so scared. she said they'd kill me. I said
they would do nothing. I was mad. they were cursing and ranting. Bryan's half brothers,
Melvin and Lee, were in the loft playing with don Rraine and they accused the boys. they
didn't know about it, I just stepped right out onto the porch, looked right at them and
stood there. they knew I did it but finally left. when Joe came home I told him they were
hiding whiskey in the barn and that I'd poured it all out, thinking he wouldn't want them
doing that because the FBI had been around looking for someone who was
"bootlegging" there. well, he was angry at me and threatened me. I told him next
time I'd just call the sheriff. Later that same year, Joe's Dad asked me to
stay at their cream station while they went to a sale, so I did. one man keep coming in to
the place and going to the back and leaving the door unlocked. mr. woody had told me to
keep the back door locked so I'd follow 'Shorty' Rraine out and lock up. he'd yell so I
wondered what was back there he was so interested in. I saw several wooden crates about 3
feet tall. one was open and full of sawdust. I ran my hand inside & it was full of
pint bottles of whiskey. I was really upset. there I was and my two little girls in that
with crates of whiskey and the FBI all over. so when I closed up, I called the sheriff at
alma and Joe's sister Nettie. well, they came and the sheriff finally arrived and there
wasn't one box anywhere. next day the town Marshall, Lee Jones, came to the house,
grinning like a chessy cat and said, "the sheriff didn't find a thing, did
they?" I know the sheriff had called Jones (an old crook) and he'd tipped off mr.
woody. I told him if I ever found any more around I'd call the attorney general in Topeka,
not the sheriff so he could tip off the parities. of course, Joe was really mad. the whole
woody outfit, bryan, Joe and his Dad bootlegged. I poured out gallons and gallons from
1924 to 1933 and on into 1952.
Joe left (from Wamego, the cleaning shop) for parts
unknown from June to October. I never knew where he'd been for two years after when we
visited some friends and the man asked if Joe told me about working in a fish cannery in
Portland, Oregon. I asked when he'd ever been there and the man said, "Joe, didn't
you tell her where you were?" I told him Joe had left and I never knew where he was.
he had wired his sister, Nettie, for $50 to get home and had gone to my parents and told
them we were going to Topeka to live and I knew nothing. my Grand Mother died and I called
home to see when the funeral was and ask about my daughters and Mom said, "aren't
they with you?" and told me about Joe taking them, so Dad and I went to Topeka, found
Joe at a cleaning shop and found the girls in a "dump" in north Topeka and some
old woman keeping them. the place was full of bedbugs so we took the girls and looked for
an apartment. we found a very nice one on Lafayette st., all furnished, but the same old
thing. every night some woman called to tell mr. woody he had to work that night. I never
even suspected anything until one night coming home on the street car, two women behind me
said they felt so sorry for Mrs. woody, the way Joe treated her. I'm sure she didn't know
me, but come to think about it, maybe she did, because she came into the store one day and
ask if I ever went to dances. I said no, I had two daughters and couldn't. I had a girl
who stayed days, and went home nights. our landlady said when mr. woody had to work nights
I should go and sit in the car and watch people go by. she said she and her
daughter-in-law did lots of times. I said the girls would get sleepy and she said to take
pillows along and let them sleep. I've thought, in later years, she knew what was going on
and I was stupid. I never thought about married people doing anything wrong. any way, next
time he got a call I told him I was going and sit in the car and Mrs. dial had told me to
take pillows, etc. he said I couldn't go and I insisted so he didn't go that night or for
a while. One weekend he took us up to Mom's and came and got us in a few
days, then Nettie came to visit us and I introduced her to our landlady. after Nettie left
she said, "my, she doesn't look a thing like her other sister who was here. she was
tall and slim and had black hair." I had found a black hair on the bed pillow, but
didn't have brains enough to think about it. I then went back to work at Pelletier's, Mary
Maxine started to 1st grade at Lafayette school and later we moved back to 1108 n. Quincy
in the same apartment we had before and Joe still at golden gate cleaners only he did all
the cleaning and no pressing. at the independent cleaners they taught him cleaning
methods. One night he went to a dance (he always went on Friday nights) so one of the
girls who stayed with us and I decided we'd go see what was going on. I got a woman to
stay with Mary and Winona. I didn't have any money to pay to get into the dance, but we
could stand at the door and watch the man said. Joe was there with a red hairdo woman
having a ball. we watched for a while then I just walked in and right up to them and told
Joe to come home. he said he'd be right out. of course I had to go back out as I hadn't
paid. instead of coming out they went right out on the floor for the next dance. about now
yours truly was mad, so I Marched right out in the middle of the dance floor,
grabbed her arm and his and said words I'd never said before or since. she looked scared
and said, "I don't want any trouble, I've worked with woody a long time." I
answered, "I'm quite sure you have, but you don't work where he works
because I know who works there." "now, Joe, you either come home now or
never!" and I left and he came.
One year later. next time he went to the dance, Mrs.
Harris, where we had an apartment on west 6th then, told me to go with Joe and she would
keep the girls. I told her I couldn't because the women wore formulas and I didn't have
one. she said she'd go with me to the union (a clothing store) where Joe got his clothes
and I would get evening clothes and put them on his bill. I said I wouldn't dare and she
said I had a perfect right so we went. Mary was in clay school in 1st grade and Winona in
kindergarten. Well, I got a blue chiffon and silk gown, a cape and
slippers. that night she told Joe I was going with him and to bring the girls down stairs
to her place. we had the upstairs apartment. he got ready, took the girls down and visited
with her and her son, Duetron. I was scared to go down and waited and waited until he said
he'd go on if I didn't get there so I went. when I went in Mrs. Harris and Dutro bragged
on how beautiful I looked and asked Joe if he didn't think I was beautiful. he just said,
"let's go" and we did. The minute we got out the door he said, "where the
hell did you get those clothes?" I said, "at the union and put them on you
bill." he answered, "by god, you'll pay for 'em, I won't." so I went to
work and paid for them, but it just ruined my evening, but I made up my mind I'd go and
pretend to have a good time if it killed me. we went into the ballroom and they gave the
women a card to hang on their wrist to write down your dances. before I got mine on a good
looking man come up and asked me to dance. I didn't know him from Adam, but I went right
out and left Joe standing and I had my card filled for the whole evening in nothing flat.
Joe's girl friend was there and when my partner and I went over (I hold him Joe was my
husband) the man who worked with Joe was there and introduced me to her and also
"introduced" Joe. I knew it was all a "put up" job so I said,
"nice to meet you, but she doesn't need an introduction to Joe, as I'm sure you
know." they all looked sheepish and I just went out on the floor with my next
partner. she left and Joe just sat and scowled. finally at intermission, my partner asked
me to go get a coke and I told him my husband was over there and he said, "we'll take
him one too", and went over and we all went to the balcony where there were tables to
sit for cokes. Joe's buddies were all there and I danced with all of them but he wanted to
go home. I told him to go on, I had my dance card filled and intended to stay until it was
over and I did. at the end, his special friend asked me to get something to eat so he, Joe
and I went to a cafe and ate. then he took us home and he tried to be a little too nice to
me so that ended the friendship and never did Joe go to any more dances while we lived in
Topeka, so my evening clothes just hung in the closet. I really didn't have the greatest
time at that dance, but I pretended I was and I didn't give Joe a dance. it wasn't the
nicest way to act, but it work
Joe and bryan were always chasing women and never stopped
so long as they lived. Joe spent the weekend in Kansas city in 1932 with Eunice Ramey. her
Mother ran a beauty shop in Topeka and she tried to get mr. woody (Joe's Dad), to set her
up in a shop in rossville. mr. woody told me that. I sued for divorce in September 1930,
when Joe beat me up and left me lying on the floor because he stole a billfold from an
Indian who was a student at Washburn. Joe sat in the porch swing at the apartment house
and told all of the people who were there that someone had stolen a poor Indians' billfold
with all the money he had and he felt so sorry for the guy. about then Winona wanted a
drink so I took her into the house to get a drink. behind the sink was an oil cloth
fastened so water wouldn't splash the wallpaper.
There was a big bulge in it and I gave it a push to see
what it was and out fell a billfold with an Indian chiefs' picture and address at
Washburn. I hid it. I knew who did it. it wasn't the first time I'd caught Joe. when he
came in he demanded I give it back and I told (him) I was going to see it was returned.
Irene Dundee stayed with us and worked at a cleaning shop so he didn't say any more. nest
noon we came home for lunch but she didn't , so he tried to make me give him the billfold.
I wouldn't so he hit me in the face and knocked me down and left. I finally got up and
back to work. my eye got swollen and black. that afternoon a friend, opal Tarbutton, came
into the store, saw me and ask what happened. I didn't answer and she said "did Joe
do that?" (the woody men were down for wife beating). I still didn't answer. opal was
secretary for 5 attorneys and told (me) she would make an appointment with them and I
should be there after 5 p.m. I got off from 5-7 on Saturday nights then worked until 9 or
10. I told her I wouldn't dare and she said she'd come after me if I didn't, so I went,
told the attorney what and why, gave him the billfold and he said to go home, act as if
nothing happened and they'd slap a restraining order on Joe at work monday morning and
did. my parents saw it in the paper and came down, tried to talk to Joe but he ran away.
Dad had given us a ford sedan several years before but it finally quit running and just
sat in the garage at the apartment house so I sold it for $25. Joe took me to court but
when I told the judge, he dismissed it.
Opal Tarbutton was a little girl in grade school when we
lived there and her Mother died. her Father was working and trying to keep the family
together, so opal would come and talk me how to cook certain things and how to do other
things. we became good friends. we left maple hill and several years later, when she
graduated from high school, she went to Topeka as secretary to those attorneys and she
often came to our apartment. When the hearing came up on the divorce, the judge asked Joe
if he was willing to support us and he said "yes". the judge asked what he made
a week and Joe said $25.00". the judge slammed his book shut and said "mr.
woody, isn't it a fact you make $60.00 a week? now you pay $15. a week into this court
every week without fail or go to jail!"
Joe had always told me $25. and I worked, paid a girl to
stay with the children, bought our clothes, everything for the household and he pocketed
his. I never did know what or how he spent his. the judge also told me he had been county
attorney in Wabaunsee county in alma, knew the Woody's and they were no good, and owed so
many fines they'd never get them paid. he had even been in on the Rufe king trial. I moved
from n. Topeka to the west side and then Joe came back to n. Topeka apartment, got his
things and rented a room 2 blocks from where I was. we finally dropped the divorce and he
moved back into my apartment. Later we rented a house on 512 , just off 6th st. I went to
emehizers, bought two beds, mattresses and springs, pillows, dressers, a gas range, and a
dinette table and 4 chairs, and an ice box for $199.98 at $5.00 down and $5.00 a month. I
was working at Montgomery wards so I got 20% off on whatever I bought. That thanksgiving
all Joe's folks wrote they'd be at our house for dinner so I bought a dining room suite
for $40.00, new table, 6 chairs and buffet, walnut. this was in 1931 and prices were low,
so were wages. I already had a 3 piece living room set and a radio-record player.
I bought a big turkey, baked 4 pies and all the trimmings,
even had to buy a table cloth and napkins. well, the day came with 1/2 inch of snow and no
one came. we ate turkey several ways, several days. the way Joe ate pie, the pies didn't
On new years day, here came the whole bunch! we weren't
expecting anyone. stores never stayed open any time then except week days. I had a 3#
roast, so Joe went out to several restaurants and got a little dab from each one. I did
have vegetables, bread and potatoes and a cake and fruit so we got along but Joe was mad
they didn't tell us and he had to go out and buy meat cooked. I was allowed $5.00 a week
for groceries so it didn't
go too far.
In January I got the 'flu' and wasn't feeling well for
some time so went to a Dr. and he said I had a tumor the size of a grapefruit. I wrote Mom
and Dad and here they came! I had to have it out so I made arrangements with the doctor.
Mom and Dad stayed and kept the girls and kept house.I walked out to Jane Stormont
hospital, 8 blocks, went up to the desk and they asked if I wanted to see someone. I told
them I was to report in and have an operation at 8 a.m, they ran to get a wheel chair, I
told them I didn't need it, I had walked out 8 blocks. they were shocked, said I shouldn't
have and pushed me upstairs to a room, put some long white hip length sock on me and stuck
me in bed with the goofy gowns on they had. after a while they took me to the bathroom
where there was a big container of liquid on a tall pole, told me to use all of it and not
flush the stool. I didn't know where I supposed to use it but surmised it was an enema and
used it. then at 8p.m. they came with sleeping pills and I told them I didn't need them so
they didn't give them to me. now, we wouldn't be given a choice, they'd poke us with a
needle even if we really objected. next morning at 8 a.m. they wheeled me in to the
operating room, plopped a mask over my nose and told me to breathe and count to ten. about
at count of 5 I saw a haze and knew nothing. the night before, in my room, was another
woman who was to go home next morning. her husband was an attorney. she told me to make
them show me what they took out when they operated, that it was the law that they had to
and also to ask for a colon tube if I had cramps. I didn't know what a colon tube was but
found out later.
Joe and Dad got there for the operation after they'd
started so when Joe saw it he got sick at his stomach and had to leave, but Dad stayed.
afterward he said they cut a long slit, piled all my intestines out on my chest, cut out
my appendix and sewed me back up after putting all the entrails back. I never came to
until about 10 the next day and they told me I surely must hate men the way I talked while
under ether. I even got out of bed and they found me walking around in the middle of the
night so they put me back into the bed, packed all the hot water bottles they had around
me and also glass jars of hot water, afraid I'd get pneumonia, they said. they said I kept
calling for a colon tube. Back then, one was to stay in bed 10 days with no food and only
warm water, not much of that! the first thing I got was tea and 2 crackers - never cared
for hot tea but I took it. then they let me have a cube or two of ice to suck on now and
then. I knew it was about time for temperature checks so I took a cube and sucked on it.
by the time they took my temperature I was fine so I got a meal. One old
lady - we called her "Auntie" - was in my room as was another woman my age. I
received a huge envelope with a lot of letters from friends. I was reading them and Auntie
asked who it was from. I said my boy friend - she asked what his name was, I told her I
was joking, that it was from several of my former pupils. she said "well, you kept
asking for someone and it wasn't your husband". I wondered who in the world, so I
asked who it was and she said "you kept calling "Gus" and the other woman
said "oh Auntie, she was saying gosh," my byword. Auntie was always asking about
everyone who came to see us, who and why of everything. we thought she was too moody,.
poor thing, she was probably lonely. no one ever came to see her. After my
return home, Mom and Dad went back home and Nettie stayed. it was in February and cold.
Nettie would leave the doors open and I'd freeze! she was very heavy. when she left at the
end of the week, I really had a mess to clean. she never liked to keep house or wash
dishes so I spent the second week after the operation cleaning, washing, etc. and wasn't
able but on Sunday here came Joe's step brother and family and I finally had to go to bed.
I got dinner but passed out.
1932 - Feb.
We belonged to a bridge club and they came to our house
most of the time because I wouldn't drag my children out all hours. the last time we met
they stayed 'till 3 a.m. and I just "keeled" over at the table where we were
playing so when I came to, I told them "no more". they were all business men in
that area on west 6th and their wives were older and had kids in h. s. or had none.
In February, Joe's stepbrother was operated on and then stayed with us and I took
care of him. in March his half-brother, Lee, was in the hospital and came to stay with us.
he had had scarlet fever and didn't stay in bed, had a reaction which left his kidney and
spleen weak. he was 15 and weighed about 60 lbs. I'd carry him each day to sit in our
porch swing in the sun as the dr. said to do. he recovered but was never fully well. he
stayed with us in st. marys for a month or more, finally married and ran a grocery store
in st. marys until 1951 when he died at age 30 years.
We lived in Topeka and on June 23, started a cleaning shop
in Eskridge, Ks. we rented a bldg. on main street, a house a block west, across from the
street east of the Methodist church. the girls went to school in Sept. and we lived in
Eskridge 1 year to the day. The Ripley cleaners in Topeka told us the
cleaners in st. marys had left and wanted us to go in with them and start a cleaning shop
and laundry. Joe wanted no part of a laundry so they said why didn't we look into running
a cleaning shop there ourselves so we went one Sunday, talked to the city business people
and they said if we'd come in, run a decent business it would be fine, but the former man
drank, gambled and left the city with a debt of over $500.00. that was a fortune then. we
rented a Bldg. that day for $12.00 a month, went back to Eskridge and Joe said he wasn't
going to move but at 10 o'clock that morning here came a truck to move. I didn't have a
curtain down or a thing packed. well!!! I flew around and finally at maybe noon we were on
our way, all the furniture, the shop equipment, and cow loaded to go.. the cow went up to
Dad's - so did Maxine and Winona- until we could find a place. we didn't have a house
rented so the furniture was all unloaded in the middle room of the cleaning shop. it had
been a restaurant and was divided into 3 sections. the one next to the alley was the
cleaning room, the front 1/2 was the office and the other 1/2 was the pressing room. we
slept in the bed in the middle room, ate sandwiches and for breakfast we went 2 doors east
to the bakery and got fresh rolls and drank milk. after several days we found a house, a
horrid wreck at $12.00 a month but thought we'd have to take it. it had holes in the floor
with tin can lids nailed over the holes. as we were leaving I saw some wallpaper loose and
pulled to up. it was full of bed bugs so back we went, to sleep in the shop. Next
day George Dundee came in and said he'd found a house. I ask him "how much", he
said "it was $7.00 a month --I knew it was a shack at that price, so I wouldn't even
look at it. He said "what to you want Pessemire's house?" I told him I didn't
think much of it either. He said the bank owned it and wouldn't rent it to just anyone so
I went to see it. I couldn't believe my eyes. I was completely modern, oak floors, bath,
furnace and great. we moved in and lived there 3 1/2 years. we could have bought it for
$800.00 but Joe never wanted anything more than a suitcase, he said. his Dad offered to
buy it for us but I refused. he said he'd paid more than that in fines for bryan. I
thought we should buy our own place and owe no one, so Jim Kinderknecht bought it and we
moved above the cleaning shop. I sanded, varnished and waxed floors, made draperies for
cathedral windows and fixed up really nice. we lived there until 1939 but it was so hot in
the summer we about died so I rented a house on n 6th, just beside the school's
playground. while there we had a dust storm and it was so dry we had to wet sheets and
wrap around us so we could breathe. the girls were in a play at school but one boy in the
play got dust pneumonia and died. the play was put on later. that dust storm lasted over a
week. people shoveled dust out of their homes with shovels. in September that year we had
we had a flood and it washed out crops in the lowlands.
In 1940 I found a lovely home in the north end of town
across from will and Jose Yocum. it rented for 12.00. it had a reception hall, open
stairway, living, dining and large kitchen, screened and glassed in back porch, master
bedroom and two others upstairs. we moved in and lived there until 1942. it sold for
$1200.00 but no, Joe said we had lots of time. I had painted, varnished, papered and
waxed, as usual. the grade school principal, Harold Bartlley, boarded with us. he was also
sonny Beseau's, (Donald Beseau) teacher. of course, someone bought the house, so again we
moved to a house on n 6th which was alive with cockroaches. on december 7th, 1941, we had
dinner waiting for him and the girls (Maxine and Winona) who were in high school. at noon,
on the radio it announced that pearl harbor had been bombed by the Japanese. we were
stunned! that couldn't be! a Verschelden who lived in Hawaii, had come home to see his
parents, was at the knights of Columbus hall playing cards and his cousin went up to tell
him about it and he thought his cousin was joking, but they turned the radio on. he heard
it and about went crazy. 1941 that started world war ii. the principal who boarded with us
was called to go so a woman took his place. the men were called so we women were asked to
teach or do anything else to help. Joe was classed a and was scared he'd be called so he
went to fort Riley and signed up for work there. he had an older man to run the shop with
The morning he was to report to fort Riley it was pouring rain so he went back to
bed and never did go. they never called him either so we ran the shop.
in 1942 I went to teach a country school 9 miles from St. Mary's at $60 a month,
had 4 pupils and 4 grades. by Jan. 1943 two more pupils came then later another 8th grader
On December 9, 1942, a knock sounded on the school door. I
went to answer and here was the whole neighborhood with cakes, ice cream and gifts. that
was my very first birthday party and I almost cried. one little boy, 4 years. old came up
to me and said "Mrs. woody, Mommy baked you a marble cake but she didn't put any
marbles in it." that was Wayne Reiners. he watched his Mom make the cake and wondered
why she didn't put any marbles in her marble cake. That was one of the
happiest years of my life. the district didn't have enough money for a school so I gave a
program and pie social. we made $60 which bought a new heating stove. the old one was no
good. the 6th month I had another program "the family Albumn", and the adults
took part. we had a box supper and again made $60 so they could pay my wages. That
year I decided to buy a home and told Joe to tell the real estate agent I wanted to see
the house that night. when I got home he had told the agent we'd take the house for $1,250
and never looked at it. well I looked and wouldn't move until I had it all done over. the
school board said if I'd get a teacher for a week I could fix it up so Winona taught that
week and I got mr. Yeager to paper, paint and Doc Urbansky helped me get a sander and
helped me sand the oak floors (which had been painted black). then I got gunny sacks and
rubbed the floors down, sealed them and varnished and we moved in. all the years I lived
there I spent all my wages fixing, rewiring, putting on awnings, carpeting until I had it
and the yard as I wanted it. I had bought a lawn seedier and one Saturday I was ready to
seed the lawn and no seeder. Joe had lent it to Freddie Homan. I called and Freddie said
he wasn't finished but I told him that was mine and I was ready so get it back p. d. q.
and he did. I informed Joe if he wanted to loan his things, fine, but leave
mine alone. Put this somewhere in this ----- I forgot to tell this before. Bryan was an
alcoholic. one day mr. woody and his wife Minnie (Joe's Step Mother) were at our house.
mr. w. told about bryan and eva, his wife, at their house and bryan was drinking. eva
grabbed the bottle away from him. he hit her and knocked her down. mr. woody laughed about
that. I was shocked. I said, "you mean you just stood there and did nothing. if that
had been my Dad and brothers they'd have beaten the tar out of him" he never said a
word. one day he, mr. woody, was with another alcoholic and they were drunk and going out
to look for some "women". Minnie, his wife tried to get him out of the car. Joe
tried and he wouldn't budge. I went to the car and said " mr. woody, get out of that
car and get into the house now!" he just looked at me, got out and went into his
house like a little kid.
One Saturday when I was ready to clean house my sweeper
was gone. Joe had lent it to Mary and Mary and Winona had used it to pick up a stuffed
ball contents. the dog had ripped the ball open and the cotton was all over. well it
ruined the tube in the sweeper and I had to take it to Topeka to get it fixed at the cost
of $18.00, so when I got home I hid it. Joe found it and lent it again. he thought it was
terrible I wouldn't let the girls have it. Saturday was the only day I had to wash
clothes, clean, and get ready for the next week. the girls could have done theirs any
time, so I told Joe to buy them a sweeper, I needed mine and I had to buy everything. he
didn't even buy a sheet or curtain for any house we lived in. I bought my own clothes
& the girls'. I took in sewing, laundry and boarders to give them a piano and tap
dancing lessons. he did buy them a sweeper, also each one a bridge table. I bought my own.
Mary and Mrs. Beseau went to Corpus Christi,
Texas to see whistle, stationed there in the navy. they had return tickets which he sent
to Mary, but she didn't return. she & he got married. Mrs. Beseau came back, went
right by our house and never stopped. Mrs. Fritz miller called me and asked if I didn't
have an announcement about the marriage. we didn't even know about it so Joe went up to
see Mrs. Beseau. she said she tried to talk them out of it, but they didn't listen. that's
how we knew they were married. I always told them I didn't know if they were or not, I'd
never got notice. They lived in corpus Christi until that summer. I went down to see them
and spent all my money buying groceries. they didn't have much after paying rent. Mary did
housework for Mrs. Mccoy (Barney's wife) there. then I bought Mary's return ticket which
whistle had sent, so I came home. a month later he was sent to California and Mary came
home. Winona had graduated from high school and worked in Kansas city, then later came to
K. U. in the business office. Charles Murry was in the air force and had gone with Winona
in high school. he came home on leave and they became engaged. he was sent over seas and
sent for Mary to come to California. she lived there until 1943, came home as he was sent
out in the pacific area. Winona came that summer to work and the bus depot in Topeka. we
received word that Charles wasn't expected to live. we didn't know where he was. we tried
through all channels, even the red cross, and no word. in august of 1944 he called from
California & said he'd be home on the train. we met every train on the up, rock
island, & Santa Fe for 3 days & no Charles. Winona got up one morning and said,
"Mother, I dreamed that Charles drove in, in a red convertible." that afternoon,
he did, in a red olds convertible & we loaded up and came to St. Mary's.
Charles had had brain malaria and had been in the new
Hebrides isle. they gave him the last rites of the catholic church and he came to enough
to realize it and said he didn't want to be buried there. they sent him to Australia where
he was in and out of a coma. they said they knew of no cases of brain malaria where they
lived. he recovered, but took quinine tabs for quite a while. he never had got any of our
messages through red cross, military, or letters and we had had no word either. in
december, 1944, after he returned, the message reached him where he was stationed in Texas
after he & Winona were married.
1943; 10:30 p.m.
I had just got
home from the st. marys literary banquet and Mary's water broke. she was pregnant when she
came home from California after whistle was sent over seas. Joe was in bed, so we all
scurried around and I got my car at the door and loaded Mary and Winona in the back seat.
Joe and I in front, headed for Wamego. during war time, we couldn't go over 30 miles per
hour. we were about 4 miles out of st. marys & Joe said "hell, Anita we there
yet?" he was so upset he was worse than an old lady. he wasn't even worried when his
own daughter was born, wasn't even around when Winona was born. he was in Paxico with an
old girl friend. Mary was the only calm one in our bunch. we finally arrived and the
doctor sent Winona & Joe home. he said it was probably false alarm. they went home
& so did the doctor. I stayed with Mary & I knew there wasn't much time, so I
called the nurse. she ran to call the doctor and in 10 minutes, Mary delivered Jim. Joe
& Winona had just arrive home when I called them. they came back. Jim was so dark
colored Winona said, "there's a Negro in the woodpile some where." he really was
Greyish white, but healthy and cute as he could be. they lived with us until Jim was 18
months old. then Whis was stationed in Norman, Oklahoma. in 1945, Wayne was born in the
naval hospital there. I got a substitute teacher and went down, stayed a week and them
came back and brought jimmy with me. he spent lots of time with us.
Winona and Charles lived in California so I
went out there. Charles took us through Disney Land, Knotts berry farm, and the people who
owned the house in which they lived had a beautiful cabin in the mountains there. he gave
Charles the key and told us to spend the weekend there. it was great. lovely beds, satin
spreads, sterling silver knives, forks, spoons, linen table clothes. Charles fixed
breakfast for us. grapefruit with a cherry in the middle, bacon, eggs, toast, jam, the
works and fixed the table with flowers.
At Knotts Berry Farm, I was looking into an old jail and
the stuffed jail bird started talking to me. "how's everything in st. marys,
Georgia?" and I was amazed. he kept talking and I answered. we joked for quite a
while. I knew someone had given him all the information, but it wasn't Charles' voice. I
went around the corner and Charles was standing there telling the man all these things and
the dummy in the jail was wired. Charles was like a ray of sunshine. he would come home
every time he could and played with Jim and Wayne, bought kites and helped them fly them,
made snow men in winter. he & Joe would play the piano and he, whistle, & Joe
would sing. Charles played the guitar, too.
One x-mas Winona and I got Charles and whistle yellow
& gray checked pants & yellow & gray knit sock. that's what young men were
wearing then. "whistle" opened his first & Charles had a big laugh, then he
opened his & it was the same, but they really did wear them. they'd better, we got
them at ray beers. another time, I got "Whis" a dark blue satin robe and Charles
a wine satin robe. Charles work his. I think Mary work whistle's out. When Charles and
Winona lived in Denver, Joe, jimmy (4 years old) and I drove out in Joe's new pick-up
truck. jimmy and I stayed a week and Joe went back to st. marys. he ran the cleaning shop
so had to be there.
Winona and Charles moved to new Hampshire where
Winona Charlene was born in 1947. In 1948, Charles was sent to Alaska with
his group. they flew around for hours up there as they could find no place to land.
finally Charles said he'd go in, he did, but crashed. he was knocked out for a while, but
not injured. the others followed and all came through O.K. Winona came home while he was
in Alaska. on July 1st, we took her home, she, Nonie(baby) and whistle in her car and
Mary, Jim(4 years), Wayne(2 years) & I in my car. we drove day and night until I just
couldn't go any more. there were no motels there then, only houses that rented rooms. no
one had room for 7 people. finally at 3 a.m., we found a roadside dump, "Mable's
place". Mary & Whis, Winona and Nonie had beds, Jim & Wayne cots, and I slept
in the car. Next morning we went on to Winona's. when we got out of the car
all the neighbors came out to see those beautiful boys. those people were all dark hair,
long nose people and hadn't seen light hair, white skin before. they were polish and had
the biggest noses I ever saw, black hair & dark skin. not like Africans, but brown. it
was so hot there we couldn't stand it. whistle went to the basement. we stayed one day and
came home on the 4th of July. Charles hadn't come home from Alaska, but was due in later,
so we didn't get to see him and on august 5th, 1948 he was killed in a plane crash in
wells, Maine. three planes were trying out some new fuel. his plane came down, but he
pulled it back up, then it went down again. he pulled it back, it leveled out and all was
well, then a third time it dropped and cut a patch through the pine trees long and wide
and he was killed. That afternoon his dog, a German Shephard with 53
Missions in the pacific (was with us in st. marys then) hadn't gone to the shop with Joe
as he usually did and the neighbors asked me, when I came home at 5 p.m. what was wrong
with the dog. he had paced up and down the walk in front of our house all afternoon. the
dog was very restless and didn't eat as usual that evening. when I returned to work at the
swimming pool, where I worked every summer, I had a phone call from my daughter, Winona,
saying Charles had been killed that afternoon about 2:30. she didn't even know he was
flying that day. she'd heard that a plane from his unit had crashed but knew it wasn't his
for he wasn't flying then.
They had a garden and she'd got the first roasting ears
and had fixed steak and corn from the garden and a gift for Charles was wrapped and at his
place at the table. he was always losing his combs, so she got a box of combs and wrapped
them as a joke. his captain drove in and she thought nothing of it as they were all good
friends and he often stopped in, but this time he came to tell her it was Charles' place
and he was killed. they'd just bought a home and had special furniture made at a factory
there and he'd ordered a new red olds convertible. She came back to st.
marys and lived with us. Joe bought a house and lots and when her furniture came, she
moved in. she hadn't received anything (insurance money) from the air force, none of his
money he'd had coming and it was months before she got anything. she'd sold their home in
new Hampshire and finally got a job at the air base in Topeka. I gave up the job at the
pool and took care of Winona Charlene. Finally, a lawyer in Wamego got
results and she got the insurance and government pay.
I had gone to
Washburn and then took state exams to renew my teaching certificate. I had to take an
aptitude test before the state board, also. I was ready to quit teaching, one 4-6 pupils
and so close to town they could come into town schools. after the aptitude test, the
county superintendent called me in and wanted me to be the principal in an 8 grade school
in Topeka. I thought I couldn't, but she was sure I could. for weeks she kept calling me
to sign the contract. she said my cousin was going to teach 1st grade. finally, I signed
the contract, but Joe said he'd rent the house furnished and get a room. I wasn't about to
let someone move into my home and use my furniture. I had worked like made to get
everything & wasn't going to let someone else use it so I told the county supt. &
school board I couldn't take the school. they wouldn't let me go, but said if I'd find
someone they would; but I couldn't take another school for more money. I tried everywhere
to find someone and was ready to give up when I went to Crosby's store in Topeka to buy
some hose. the sales clerk looked like she had been a teacher so I asked if she ever
taught school. she said she had been a principal years before and had been thinking of
going back to teaching. I immediately gave her the phone number and address and she got
the school. I was off the hook! The next afternoon I was resting after
winner's and Charles' wedding when the door bell rang. it was the school board where I had
taught in 1942. they needed a teacher so I went back, taught that year, 1944 & 1945,
then took the school Dist. 33, only 2-1/2 miles from this school. that year they combined
the 2 schools and I taught there 8 more years.
In 1945 my Mother had a gall bladder operation. she died
in 1946 from complications from the operation. in 1947 my youngest brother, warren died
with brain tumor; in 1948 Charles was killed; in 1949 in may, my brother Max burned to
death; and in august my Father died. in 1950 a cousin died, in 1951 a brother-in-law, Lee
woody died; 1952, an Aunt; in 1953 Joe died at age 52. in 1954 I was going to an uncle's
funeral (my Dad's brother) in hays and when I arrived they asked me to stay with the
family of another uncle and Aunt who were coming to that same funeral and were hit by a up
train. the uncle was killed and the Aunt was in the hospital at Wakeeney. I stayed there,
went back to my school that night, got a substitute so I could go back to that uncle's
funeral. when I arrived at the funeral there were 2 caskets and I asked if there was
another funeral. they said my Aunt had died that night after 10:30 and they worked all
night so they could have a double funeral. I had understood my Aunt was better and had
eaten supper so I was shocked and just passed out. For 10 years straight
there were deaths in our family, close relatives.
In 1957 I went to Hawaii. since grade school, when I
studied about Hawaii, I wanted to go there, but after I got married I knew I'd be lucky to
get home now and then, so Hawaii was like paradise. it was a territory then & the
Hawaiians didn't want to become a state, but too many Americans from state side and
investments there so it became a state and has changed just like everything else we get
our fingers into. we should quit trying to mold everything to our liking and let people in
other places live as they wish!
After Joe's death everything changed. I had a crooked
lawyer and he messed everything up. he thought women didn't have good sense and that
teachers made too much money. they were spoiled, he said. I told him we were in the wrong
business, that we should be lawyers so we could gyp everyone. I had a chance to have him
disbarred once and should have, but felt sorry for his family.
Winona worked for the St.Mary's state bank for 14 years,
was secretary for the chamber of commerce, belonged to the mod-squad (a police
organization who helped investigate murders, etc.) she took first in bowling in the state.
she remarried 4 years after Charlie's death and had a daughter. they were divorced when
she found he was running around with other women, so she moved back to her home in st.
marys and lived there until she died in 1972, cancer in the back of the heart and
emphysema at age 47. she was an honor student from kindergarten through high school and
made A's in college. her daughter Winona, age 43, lives in Portland Oregon and Kathy, age
38, lives in st. marys, is a nurse in st. Francis hospital, graduated from Washburn
college with high honors. After sparks finished with Joe's estate, I got
all the debts, the farm he bought for $13,000, the pasture he hadn't paid for and all the
bills. I didn't even get my home only just to live in. when I sold I had to divide the
proceeds. the pasture wasn't paid for and I had a sale to pay funeral, debts and
mortgages. he had to will and no insurance, didn't believe in it. my affairs, I hope,
won't be like that! if I have to go to a rest home, there won't be any thing left to fight
over. I always felt the lord would take care of all the crooked things that went on at
Joe's death and I think he will. Sparks (the lawyer) wife died and he
dressed up and started to have a good time and dropped over with a heart attack.
Joe wouldn't put his money in the bank, only enough to get
bills paid locally. he had $11,000 in the bank at Rossville and said never to write a
check on it. he had checks from there with his name on the checks, but never had used any
of them. I never checked on Joe anyway, I was teaching, paying my own expenses and keeping
the house going. when he died I went to see about the money in rossville and there was $25
and some cents there. the checks they gave me were not Joe's signature, somewhat like it,
but not his. there was nothing I could do. he kept other money in the vault at the shop.
the building we bought for the shop was the old bank building and the vault was still
there. Joe had brought cattle in from the farm to take to the sale barn on Tuesday. the
men who helped him told me I shouldn't have to have a sale, that Joe had taken them into
the shop and flipped up lids on boxes full of bills, cash, dimes & silver dollars and
said, "look here guys, I don't have to work anymore, I got it made." a month
before he'd gone to the farm with a man (Harry Beeler) and told me to be careful on the
way to school, that there was ice on the road. the man who went to the farm with him said
Joe had almost lost control of the truck, but there was no ice. Joe had just kind of
blacked out. He also fell one night in the bathroom and I had to pull him
off the floor register. he'd fainted. he went to the doctor and was to change his diet,
but he didn't like vegetables, just steaks, rich creams, cakes & pies loaded with
cream and he smoked all the time, so he probably had emphysema, too, and a brain
hemorrhage. my grandson, Jim was 9 years old and was with Joe most of the time. he knew
Joe had all that money in the vault, too. one member of the family took a trip to
California on dimes they'd saved. Jim ad said, "what about all the dimes---" and
was told to shut up and not to come see me any more, but he did anyway. mr. snow the
principal at st. marys called me and said Jim was having severe problems about Joe's
death, but it just wasn't his death, he said, but what went on afterward and he knew what
it was. people don't know what things like that does to young children.
Winona came back and tried to straighten sparks out and
the probate judge called him down, too, and told him never to bring any papers in
there again unless I was with him. my name wasn't even on the deed to my home and it had
been there and the deed was locked in my deep freeze in the basement. but the door to the
basement was broken open and the deep freeze was broken into and the deed was gone.
Strafer, the police dog, was there in the house and it had to be someone he knew and
trusted to get into that house. that dog would never let anyone on the property unless I
said, "at ease". then he'd go lie down and not bother anyone. At
Charlie's funeral he tried to go into the funeral home and tried to get into the hearse
when they put his casket inside. Strafer was Charlie's German shepherd mascot with 53
Missions in the pacific. At Jose funeral we had Strafer in the basement but
he got the door open and came to the funeral home (1 block away from our home) and tried
to get into the hearse. a neighbor got him away. After Joe died, Strafer
would go to his bedroom then come out. he did that several times. one time I was sitting
in he living room, he went into the bedroom, came back and put his paws on my lap. I said,
"Strafer, Joe's gone and won't be back". he never went to that bedroom again.
One night about 3:30 a.m., Strafer (he stayed in the
house) gave a strange growl and woke me. I knew someone was around. the dog leaped up on
the divan in front of the picture window and almost went through it. I opened the door and
said, "get him, Strafer." there was ice and snow on the ground. strafer went out
the door and I could hear someone pounding the snow packed yard. he ran to the neighbor's
garage and slammed the door. strafer paced around for quite a while and came back. I left
Next morning a neighbor came and went out to look. there
was a partial of a cigarette package in front of the picture window and large footprints
there and right under my bedroom window. no one ever bothered at night again. During
the summer several Indian families would come from Minnesota to visit two other Indian
families who lived in St. Mary's.
One evening I sat in my living room
without the light on. I saw, up the street, an Indian staggering down the street. all at
once, I thought, I don't see him. I looked up and there he stood, not 2 ft away in my
dining room door. I jumped up, went into the bedroom through the bathroom and another
bedroom to the breakfast room and through the kitchen to get to the phone. then you just
picked up the receiver and central answered. I whispered the number of "whistle"
and told him an Indian was in my house. 5 minutes later he and the Marshall came. they had
a hard time getting him into the police car. when they took him to jail, there was an
Indian woman in there and she yelled" don't put him in here, he'll kill me."
they let her out, put him in and next morning gave them all orders to leave town. one of
that tribe went out to a country home in Wabaunsee county where one of the Indian families
lived, shot the man in the stomach and fled. no case was ever filed. they just let the
Indians take care of their own. now, in 1990, there would be an investigation and
something done about it. when the Indian was in my house I looked up and in the looking
glass by the door where he stood, I could see my rifle. someone had used it and left it
leaning against the wall opposite that looking glass. I'm glad the police came or I may
not have been here to write this.
Things went on as usual, I went to
Bellevue to teach in 1953. during the 1951 flood all the bridges went out and I had to
drive to Wamego to get to my school only six miles away. the maple hill bridge was not
washed out, but the approaches were so they filled in those and finally I could drive
almost to maple hill and around country roads, 20 miles, to get to my school. I saw
badgers, deer, pheasant, skunks and lots of prairie chickens, enjoyed the drive morning
We had many programs in Dist. #33 country
school. the people were special. our country school was known all over as the special
country school. we had community meets once a month with dinners, games, songs and
every one joined. In January we always had, on Kansas day night, a big
dinner with all foods grown in Kansas. we had an auction for March of dimes and always
made more than any school for March of dimes. Once we had baked beaver
along with beef, chicken and pork for meats. the county superintendent and family and
several of his friends came. there was quite a write up about it. we made $80 at the
auction. later, a child in our district got polio and the county would do nothing. they
said the Grand Father had money and let him take care of her. I went to our Pottawatomie
Co superintendent and told her. she said they had to do something, that was what the March
of dimes was for, but they didn't so that was the last time we ever did anything for March
of dimes and I still don't. (written in 1990). In county contests, Dist #33
always brought back blue ribbons in spelling, writing, social studies, and sports. we
challenged all schools, country and town schools. we took 1st in county music meets. there
were four boys in our quartet and went on into high school as a quartet. four of my pupils
won scholarships in high school and on to college. one girl has her Ph.D., two others are
teachers in high schools and several boys are in professional positions. one former pupil
is a minister, another an attorney. I took these people from 1st through 8th grade.
1953 - 1962
At Bellevue I taught 1st and 2nd grades
for 3 years. they fires all the teachers and the principal (but me). they gave me the
choice of any grade. I thought it would be nice to follow my 1st and 2nd graders to 3rd
and 4th grades, but one of the board members had children in the 5th and 6th grades where
teachers had changed due to being pregnant or their husbands stationed at fort Riley and
had been moved, so they asked me to take 5th and 6th grades and be associate principal. I
also coached soft ball, played music, coached plays and also was attending Washburn three
nights a week. the principal was never there in 1961 and 1962. he left his room for me to
watch while he went to Wamego to bowl. the board caught him and warned him. in 1962, I
went to rossville. they called me to teach there and gave me the choice of 1st or 3rd
grades, nothing else, but teaching. no played, sports or music. I didn't sign a contract.
when I went back to Bellevue monday morning the school board was there. they told me they
heard I'd signed at rossville. I said, "who told you that?" one member asked me
what they offered me. I told him. he said, "no teacher is worth that." I told
him if they didn't pay teachers more, they wouldn't have any. I signed the contract at
Bellevue, but the principal hadn't picked it up, so I tore it up and went to rossville
where I got $1,500 more a year for just one grade with no extra work.
I had had 3 principals at
Bellevue. the best one, Gene Enos, they fired because he had called the board in to inform
them they werent allowed to have liquor in the building. there had been a party in
the gym, the toilet had been broken and bottles all over. it so happened one board member
and his brothers were the guilty ones. he told them we could lose our b state rating over
it. they came to me and asked if that was true. I told them it was in the blue book which
each board member had. they hadn'tt read it. the county supt. got word, turned them
in and we lost the b rating. it took a while and lots of work to get that rate back, but
with new board members and the teachers we made it just before I went to Roseville in
1962. The next principal after Enos was an oddball. he couldn'tt
spell and how he became a principal I'll never know. he had many uncouth habits, no
drinking but he wasn'tt clean and his personal habits turned my stomach.