If you haven't already done so, you may want to read The Introduction to this series of posts.
Growing Up, the Teenage Years
When we lived in Traverse City, there was a neighbor with a small baby; perhaps he was six months old. One day Mama dressed me up in my best clothes. I remember that she even put my little hat on me and said I was invited to a baptismal. I know I was the only other child there and I sat on a chair by the kitchen table and the baby was on the table. Then the Priest, the first one I'd ever seen one, came and said prayers in Latin and sprinkled the little fellow with water and soon it was over. I think there were refreshments but it was all very serious to me. I've always wondered why I was asked to witness the ceremony; I was the only one there outside the family. It seemed strange to me.
This leads me to think of another unusual thing. As a child were you ever a pallbearer? Well, I was, twice. At West Point Church, when I was about eleven years old, a little Snyder baby had died and four of us young girls were pallbearers. Then we moved to North Webster and that summer, Alfred Hamman's baby died and I was asked to be one of the pallbearers. These were not very pleasant to remember, but I do think they were unusual!
I should like to tell of one thing that happened about November of 1913. There were several Columbia City men that formed a Gun Club and had a cottage at Goose Lake. They were rather a wild, hard drinking bunch, and Mama and Papa were friends of the Mosher’s, who really ran the club. Well, this time in November, a number of fellows were out hunting on our farm.
One man shot Vance. He was a young man with a wife and small children. He was shot as he crossed a wire fence. The shot tore from his lower abdomen up through his body, and yet he lived. The men came to our house for blankets in which to carry him and as it was nearer to the Winter's house, they took him there. He was conscious, in a great deal of pain, and kept begging his friends to kill him.
Someone called Doctor Ben Linvill who refused to come. They called Doctor Dave Linvill, who also refused, as Vance was a poor man with no money. Doctor J.W.C. Scott of Etna was a man in his sixties, but he came in his horse and buggy and tried to save the man. With makeshift table, my mother held a kerosene lamp, and others gave ether to the poor man. Doctor Scott operated and Vance lived thru the operation only to die shortly after. The county buried him, of course, but I never knew what became of his family. There was no Welfare, Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid in 1913 or for many years to come.
In December 1913, when I was almost twelve years old, I became very ill. Doctor Nolt said it was a nervous breakdown and had me taken out of school. This seemed like the end of the world to me as I had hoped to be a teacher. As I was too young to work away from home, I helped Mama and that was how I came to do so many things so young. I also read everything I could.
The summer of 1914, Uncle Harl raised onions and I was allowed to help weed them. I earned $5.00 for this, and I still know what I spent it for - Youth's Companion Magazine, $2.00, ten Alger Books, $1.00 and the other $2.00 was spent for dress material for Jane and me. This was the first money I ever earned, but soon I was able to make more. While we were in North Webster the first dollar I earned was from a man who had me play his parlor organ for some people.
I also helped the lady that had a millinery store. I don't think I ever sold any hats for her, but I tried them all on. Jane and I both worked for a summer resort for a while. Then we moved back to the farm.
I went to work for Mrs. Anderson at Cedar Lake. She had crippling arthritis and was almost helpless. I was only fifteen years old but I sure learned a lot while there. I got sick again; this time it was appendicitis and an operation. Once recuperated, I began working at the Farm's Telephone Company at Etna.
My very good friend, Ermal Fruchy worked at the Home Office. There were two telephone companies in this area at that time but after World War I, the larger company bought out the other. This was the start of the present company in Whitley County. Ermal and I had a lot of good times and as we are still good friends we often reminisce and have many pleasant hours reliving these experiences.
The funniest one I'll have to record here. Mrs. Winebrenner, the blacksmith's wife, had two sons. One was in prison and was shot trying to escape. They sent his body to his Mother in Etna. It was the custom for someone to "sit up" with the corpse. No one in town would do it, so Ermal and I, two young girls twenty and sixteen years old, offered to do this. Well this would have been all right, but the other son of the family decided to do the same. We were not about to "sit up" with him so we excused ourselves about Midnight and went home to bed.