Your Mother's Hands (entry 6)

March 2, 1957

Bernie married Marvel Zeist while he was in Hutchinson, Kansas. He brought her to Indiana on their honeymoon. I was 12 1/2, and oh, how I loved her. She was very tall like Bernie and very much a "city girl".

She thought I was pretty neat because I worked so hard, took total care of all the chickens, after all, it was my 4-H project. I was not afraid of the cattle----Big Bob, our bull, came to have his head rubbed. The mother cows loved to be brushed, calves were halter trained, the hogs came running when I called and I could ride bareback, and lasso fence posts.

Marvel was afraid of the geese and when she ran from them, they chased her. I showed her how to gather eggs. She was amazed at how friendly our chickens were. All of our animals were friendly. We "lived" with them.

Bernie brought me a beautiful blue leather zipped Autograph Book. I was crazy about this gift and kept it throughout junior high, high school and Dental Assisting School. I loved having my friends write funny little verses in it and signing their names. To this day, I still have my book, and some very fond memories of friends and school days, (Of course, I still have Mom's little blue book, all of her yearbooks and band letter sweater.)

Marvel brought me several wool sweaters and some wool skirts that Mom re-did for me. Bernie bought me a charm bracelet. Marvel gave me a collar to wear with sweaters and several sets of "sweater pins" and a silk scarf with a horse on it. Bernie bought me another paint by number set of desert scenes.. Later he framed them for me. These were harder. I won a blue ribbon on them in 4-H.

December 10, 1957

Mark Allen Braun was born on this day in Hutchison. We were so exited when Bernie made the call. It was several weeks before we got pictures. Of course, Mom had packages of baby "stuff" to send.

In the Spring of 1958, Bernie and Marvel moved to Loogootee, to set up farming. Mark was just 4 months old, and that is when we found out that he had Sturge's Weber Syndrome. He had "strawberry" type birth marks, but what a sweet little personality. (My cousin Mark and I shared the same birthday but 6 years my senior. Generally someone with Sturge's Weber does not live much past their teens or early 20's. Mark passed about 20 years ago and was around 40.) Marvel's uncle Bus, helped pull a trailer here and they set it up south of the house and made them a nice yard. I was so excited. I'd hurry home from school to play with Mark and he loved me too. For now, HE was my favorite toy. About this same time, Marvel got pregnant again. She was sick a lot. Bernie helped set up farming with Dad and we bought another new tractor. I learned how to drive it, but I was no longer Dad's RIGHT HAND MAN.

Our farm did not produce enough as to support Bernie, Mark and Marvel who was pregnant, and Mark was requiring medical attention frequently. Dad could not understand going into "farm debt" to enlarge hog production. So, Bernie and his family returned to Kansas. For a while Bernie worked in a salt mine. Later he started his own sheet metal and plumbing business and they bought a house on King Street. Dale was born January 26, 1959.


I attended confirmation instruction every Saturday mornings for 2 years. That was a LOT of studying and memorization. I can still recall much of it, bible verses, etc. I really do not remember WHY, but Mom did not make my confirmation dress. Of course, it was white and it had white "flocking" on it. I had a soft white crinoline to wear under it so it did not "hang" straight down. We girls all got corsages. Mom gave a "dinner" that Sunday. My "boddies" came: aunt Hilda and Uncle George and Larry; Uncle Nelson, aunt Eldena and Twala Jean; aunt Lizzy and uncle Ed Fuhrman and Uncle Ed Braun. I got cards, gifts and money. confirmation is like a "rite of Passage". Now I can sing in the Senior Choir, and soon I will be a Freshman in High School!

Picnic at the Zoo, 1958

This summer, uncle Nelson took us to Metzer Zoo in Evansville. It was a hot summer day and he had just bought a new 1959 Oldsmobile. It was a HUGE car with big back setr, so Twala Jean and I had plenty of room! My Mom got up early and fried lots of chicken for us to take. Uncle Nelson packed his favorite "furniture pads" and aunt Eldena packed a quilt, and the rest of the picnic baskets and cooler. WE had "aluminum" glasses, which are now collectible. We spent all day at the zoo. Picnic lunch, rides and animals. We had ice cream cones and cotton candy. Before we left, we got snow cones, but we could not eat them in the car! We cleaned up with wash cloths dipped in a cooler of cold ice water. I got to stay in Jasper "on vacation" for a few days that week!

Fall of 1958

I started my Freshman year of High School. We changed class rooms with every class. There were other students from Rutherford, Crane and Whitfield. This is when I first met your Dad. We had a couple of "home class parties", sock hops, candy and bake sales, a car wash and band parade. Mrs. Lucas taught "Glee Club" and we all sang in "harmony" and competed in contest. I took Algebra, Latin, Literature, Biology, English, PE, Band and Glee Club, and no study halls. I made ALL A's , and did not miss any days. Whew, but I had to study hard. I still use Latin for word usage!

Whitfield had Square Dances in their new Hall. I'd walk to Cleo and Carol Strange's house and Alberta could drive, so she took us. Oh, how I loved to Square Dance, with my FULL skirts and yards and yards of CAN-CANS. Dad would give me an extra dime so I could buy a couple of COKES and the Hall had a "water cooler". That was a new modern solution!

During this time, I learned to ride a horse quite well, and use a lasso! I could lasso a calf, and tried my hand at barrel racing and goat roping. There was no competition in Martin County and Dad did not take me to other counties. For some reason, it seemed like farm money was pretty tight during these years, but THAT was never discussed much in front of me. I know I usually got home perms and I cut Mom's hair and gave her home treatments. Mom gave Eldena perms and I did so to Alice Mathews , our neighbor. Well-----we were CURLY!

I attended Methodist Youth Day at DePauw University in Greencastle with my friends. It was a conference with a boxed lunch and football game in the afternoon. we girls wore skirts, sweaters, scarves, hose and flats. The boys wore slacks, shirts and V-necks sweaters. Oh so different from attending football games today. We went by school bus and sang ALL the way there and ALL the way back. What great memories of these days!

The summer after my Freshman year, I spent several weeks with Charlie (cousin), Dolly and Stevie. Dolly had not been feeling well and I became "house girl". Actually it was a wonderful time for me. I got to use some of my house keeping skills, and got Steve to DUST.....Ha! I loved to hang laundry out, so that was no problem and aunt Hilda did all of Charlies dress shirts. My own ironing skills were not too bad, so Dolly "let me" iron some too. They had a finished basement and a nice screened in back porch. My cousin Larry (Charlie's brother) came to visit and we would play cards and Monopoly for hours.

Eddie Joe Myer lived two houses down and he came over often. It was like some of my first dates, so to speak, and I'm sure our folks were happy that we were both Lutheran!

Eddie Joe could drive and we (Larry and Steve) rode to Jasper to the TRIANGLE drive-up for sloppy joe sandwiches, 25 cents a piece and a frosted mug of rootbeer for 10 cents.

After taking Larry home, Eddie would drive to the Park-ette Market and he'd shop for his Mom and I had money to buy things for Charlie and Dolly. We were like a little couple taking care of business. We'd stop by the Dairy Queen for cones to enjoy on our way back home

I tended the garden and helped can green beans and aunt Hilda came and we did pickles and "kraut".

We usually had a sandwich and chips for lunch. I'd make Kool-Aid and for supper I'd cook a meal or Hilda cooked. Of course, I made plenty of my famous Butter cakes. Steve and I made puddings, jello salads and baked peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies.

Their house was new and modern, and I was in my very own "fairytale". It was also my introduction to the TRUE ROMANCE magazines and rally paper back novels that Dolly read! She let me polish my nails and toes, wear pretty lipstick, mascara, ankle bracelets and small lockets. BIG STUFF for me!

Church Picnics

Another highlight of my life each summer was our Annual Church Picnic. Oh, how I'd save my money for that. I'd usually have 10-$15, and that was A LOT! But it went to the church, our annual fund raiser.

The Ladies of the Church would put on a Fried Chicken dinner. $2 for adults and half that for chicken. It increased as we reached the 1960's.

My Mom and I would clean chickens and cut them up, pack them in ice in cold pack canners and it would be fried in the church's garage in huge iron skillets. My aunt Hilda was in charge of frying chickens and she could definitely get the job done. The mashed potatoes, and I mean REAL mashed pots and gravy were made in the church basement. So were the green beans and fresh corn cut right off of the cob. Other ladies were in charge of cutting or grating cabbage for slaw. Then families would bring various salads to put on the tables. Add in bowls of sliced tomatoes and pickled beets and apple sauces, etc.

It was all served family style except for the chicken, which was designated white or dark meat and put on your plate. Then there was a choice of pie or cake, Lemonade, iced tea or coffee.

After we were Confirmed, we girls were to help cut and serve. Boys cleared the tables and helped seat people.

There was no air conditioning, but we did have some big fans. It was usually HOT and traditionally the second Sunday in August.

Mom would always get out and mark them for identification her pretty cut glass serving bowls for salads and sliced tomatoes. We always wore dresses AND aprons.

Uncle Nelson and Dad were in charge of the Hamburger Stand on the Picnic Grounds. Nelson "scooped" hamburgers the night before and brought it chilled. Dad was always in charge of the $$$ Box. Nelson was the "grill cook" and Mom and Eldena did the buns and "wrapping" of the sandwiches.

Dad and others hauled in the horse troughs and chipped the ice to cool the bottled pop. Oh, there is nothing better than a really cold bottle of COKE or NEHI orange! Every year the stands had to be built and tarps put up over them for shade. Seats were made from Beedenbaugh's Better Blocks and planks of wood from Kremp's and Messmer's Lumber Companies. It was good advertising!

The Luther League had its own stand where we sold hot dogs, chips and ice cream cones. We had to sign up and work our shift.

There were various games of chance, like bean bag toss (corn hole), spinning babies, duck pond, cane toss, fish pond and Sledge Hammer for the HUGE TEDDY BEARS! There were also pony rides.

A very popular stand was the COUNTRY STORE, where Mom and I donated much. We embroidered pillow cases. I made pot holders, hot plate mats out of rug yarn. Mom made beautiful aprons and little baby dresses, various sizes of sundresses with cute jackets. She's use up scrap material and did beautiful work.

She'd donate pickles, beets, jelly and jams, layered mixed vegetables, noodles, angel food and German chocolate cakes, fudge, divinity and bon bons. She and I worked like crazy the week before for our fresh things and all winter long on our hand work.

One of Mom's specialties was making homemade soap. She'd use fresh lard, never old or used, to make the soap and then she would add in BLUE-WHITE flakes. It made really white soap, and the blue/white made it attractive We had not used oils before in soap, and would Mom (Grandma) not have been in her "hey-day" now making scented artisan soap???

Oh you see, all of my life my hands have been kept very busy,

and the Church Picnics

are one of my VERY favorite Memories!