I was born in 1925. This is my story of growing up on a farm and following the oft-times bumpy road of life. It is the story of my family and ancestors, those pioneers who cut the trails and paved the roads for our journey through life. Several major events helped shape the lives and attitudes of those born before 1940. It was a struggle raising a family in the thirties: not only was the nation in a financial crisis, Mother Nature was in an ugly mood. When people reminisce, they often talk about the “good times” they had during the “bad times.” There was a shortage of money but an abundance of love and family togetherness. A product of hardy pioneer stock, at an early age, I gained satisfaction from a hard day’s work well done. From managing a trucking business and selling brushes, I became first lady of an insurance company and pursued my dreams of becoming an artist.
One day my mother and I were in our farm yard, near Elwood, Nebraska, picking dandelion greens for supper, when we heard my brother Harold shouting, “Look Mom, look, gypsies are coming down the road.” Bands of gypsies had been roaming the countryside that spring and summer, stealing anything and everything that wasn’t fastened down. Dad had warned, “If they come here, just get to the house fast and lock the doors.” They were getting close enough for us to see the tired old nags pulling a dilapidated looking spring wagon. A makeshift tarp covered one end of the wagon as well as many of their possessions; pots, pans and tubs were hanging on the sides. Gaudily dressed characters were seated at the front, one of them cracking the reins and shouting in a language of his own. “Come on, kids.” Mom cried, “Get to the house quick, there is no telling what they might do to us.” Clutching my kitten, I started running toward the house. Harold, not so easily intimidated, wasn’t about to run and hide and let those thieves ransack our farm! “No, Mom,” he said, “I’m not going. You and Sis go to the house; I’ll hide in the shed and keep an eye on them.” Mom reluctantly left Harold, and half pulled, half carried me to the house. Just seconds after we had pulled the bolt lock in place on the kitchen door, we saw a red-kerchiefed head appear in the little peep-hole. I could see the door knob turn and then the whole door shivered as the strange woman shook it and cried, “Let me in!” “Let me in!” I crouched on the floor under a window. I felt all goose-pimply, my mouth was dry, and I was afraid to breathe. Would the hinge hold? Was Harold all right? Mom peeked through the crack between the drawn shade and the window. Neither of us said a word. After what seemed like hours, all was quiet, and then we heard a gypsy man yell, “Giddup!” The creaking old wagon left the yard and traveled on. I think Harold had been as frightened as we were, even if he was thirteen years old and almost a man, for he hadn’t stirred from his hiding place! We were lucky and happy that only a bit of grain and a few chickens disappeared the day the gypsies visited our farm.
As a child, the eighty-seven-year-old author often sat on the steps of her farm home, daydreaming of becoming an artist and a teacher. She graduated from college and commercial art school in North Dakota and has promoted art for forty years.