The Art Bright-Randall-Rodaway Family
My dad was born when the present house on Grandpa Bright’s farm was being built. When he was only a few days old he and grandma were moved to the stable. Dad always said he was almost born in a manger.
When he was nineteen years old and my mother was sixteen they were married. Their first home was mile north of Stella. They were living in Stella when I was born. The house in which I was born later burned down. After a short residence in Colorado Springs, Colorado, my folks moved to Shubert, and Dad worked on the railroad. He and Charlie Raper (Cora Randall’s brother) worked together. I’ve heard Charlie tell lots of stories about their experiences. In Shubert we lived next door to the Landoldts, a German family. I played with the Landoldt boys and learned to speak German. Later Mr. Landoldt ran the hilltop store in Peru.
When I was about three or four years old my folks moved into the little house on grandpa’s place. There were only two rooms in this house at the time. I think the house was built especially for them. We lived there until I was eight years old. I started to school at Pioneer, the schoolhouse that used to be on the corner just north of Grandpa’s. A Mr. Collins was my first teacher. One night I caught a ride home from school in an automobile. None of my family had ever ridden in one. I was truly a heroine. Dad farmed Grandpa’s place.
In the early 1900’s I told you Aunt Loll (Laura Lytle) and her family moved to what was then Indian territory (Oklahoma). Uncles Norm, Charl, and Clarence followed them and lived near Broken Arrow and Muskogee, Oklahoma, not far from Tulsa. We visited them there. I remember meeting a big herd of Texas long horns when Aunt Loll, Minnie, mamma and I were driving some place in a buggy. I was six years old. As we went through the town of Coweta, Oklahoma on the train all of the shades on the cars were pulled down and everything dark inside because they were afraid the Negroes, who lived there, would attack the train. The story was told of how the town got its name. They said an Indian lost his shirt. They asked him what had happened to it, and he answered, “Cow Eta.”
A few years later the uncles all pulled up stakes and moved to Kansas, near Ottawa and Pomona. That time my dad joined them. He had accumulated a thousand dollars working for grandpa, and he bought a farm, if you can call 64 acres a farm, four and a half miles north of Pomona. The one thousand dollars was a down payment for he still owed money on the place. How he expected to make a living on sixty-four acres I’ll never know. He owned a binder and did custom wheat harvesting. He was road boss and worked on the roads. He hunted and fished. We never went hungry, but I have seen times when we couldn’t be very choosy about what we would eat.
Debts always worried my dad. If he owed anyone that is. He fretted about it all the time. He was as honest about money matters as it would be possible for a human to be.
I have seen corn stalks black with chinch bugs, the corn ruined, grass hoppers, hot winds, no rain; it seemed every year some evil came to ruin the crop.
Here I went to Diamond Ridge to school, and on Sunday we had church and Sunday school at the schoolhouse. Sometimes Methodists from Michigan Valley, Kansas held services. Sometimes Dunkards, the men with their long beards and the women with their slat bonnets, were in charge. Sometimes we had no sermon only Sunday school. I remember being secretary. Each Sunday I’d stand and read the minutes of the previous Sunday which included the attendance and the collection records among other things.
The years were hard ones, but there were good times too. Twice we drove to Nebraska in a spring wagon. The first time Uncle Clarence, Aunt Minnie, Norma and Robert, my dad, mother and I were all packed in the spring wagon. We slept under a tent and cooked our meals over a campfire. Those days there were no marked highways. You took the road that went in the general direction you wanted to go. One time we took a road, not too well traveled but going our way. Finally we came to a Wakarusa River. There was no bridge so it had to be forded. Others had, so we drove in. I remember the current was so swift we washed downstream a little, and where we came out the mud was so deep that the horses could scarcely pull the wagon. The doubletrees were threatening to break so dad jumped out on one side and Uncle Clarence on the other in that deep, deep mud.
The other time we drove to Nebraska we came so dad could pick apples. John McDowell, a neighbor, came with us.
We did have good neighbors in Kansas. The McDowell’s were like a part of our family. Mrs. Etta McDowell was a widow lady who had even taken in washing to support her three sons. Her husband died when the boys were very young. Clyde was the oldest. He married Maggie Underwood, and their little daughter, Jo, was my pride and joy. I was probably twelve when she was born. She later married Marshall Hamilton and lives at Vassar, Kansas. Clyde and Maggie had two other daughters born after we moved away.
The second McDowell son was Orville, and John was the youngest. Uncle Marion McDowell, their father’s brother, was a part of the family too. He was an old man with white whiskers. He used to whittle out lovely knives, forks, and spoons.
Mrs. McDowell was a second mother to mamma. Many an evening we walked across the field to spend the evening at McDowell’s. We had parties too. We played “Skip to my Lou,” “Happy in the Miller boy,” etc. With no radio or TV, we had to make our own entertainment. Often Uncles Clarence, Charl, Norm, and dad would harmonize. They were all good singers, and “Sweet Adeline”, “Down by the Old Mill Stream”, “Silver Threads Among the Gold”, and many others helped pass away a Sunday afternoon.
I graduated from the eighth grade in the spring of 1914. My dad made me go back and take the eighth grade over again so it was September 1915 before I entered high school. I didn’t know for sure whether I was going to get to go or not until just a day or so before school started. I shed a good many tears that summer fearing I would not get to go to high school. It cost a dollar a week tuition.
Dry weather, grasshoppers, and chinch bugs made dollar bills very scarce around our place. Dad said one year we lived on kaffir corn pancakes.
I remember one Christmas I had so wanted a sweater, a red one, but there just wasn’t enough money. Somehow I thought mamma would manage it, but Christmas morning came, and I got a fancy ribbon with lots of embroidery on it, made into a holder for a ball of crochet thread. I said, “But where’s my sweater?” I’ll never forget the look on my mother’s face or how small I felt asking such a question. Poor mamma, who would have given me the world if she could have done so.
I rode a horse to high school in Pomona until it got too cold. Then a girl whose last name was Miller was my roommate. We rented a room from a widow lady who was a dressmaker. We took food from home, stayed in Pomona and went to school.
This girls’ home was on the banks of the Mardis des Cygnes River. It was a beautiful river – clear, rock bottom and many beautiful colored clam shells. I loved to wade in it. That is one thing I’d love to see again sometime.
The year I was a freshman dad got an opportunity to sell the farm. He jumped at it, and we moved back to Nebraska. Uncle Charl had gone to Nebraska after Aunt Leota’s death. He was farming grandpa’s place. Uncle Clarence had moved back to Nebraska too so when dad left, only Uncle Norm (of the four brothers) remained in Kansas.
Roy and Blanche Wilson were living near Williamsburg, Kansas when we lived at Pomona. Laurence was a little baby just learning to talk. One time we drove down to see them, perhaps fifteen or twenty miles with a horse and buggy. Of course, you stayed all night, perhaps several days on those visits. I remember starting in the late afternoon one time, and it got dark before we arrived. Dad found we had missed the road and had driven into someone’s hay field, but we retraced our path and finally arrived safely.
Later Blanche and Roy moved to Lawrence, Kansas. They lived just at the foot of Mt. Oread where the state university is located. I went home with them and spent a week or so several different, wonderful times.
One time they drove down to our place in a red, Bruch automobile. Uncle John, Uncle Chet and their families visited us in Kansas, driving down in their Maxwells. Big deal!
After we came back to Nebraska in December 1915, I stayed at Uncle Will Marts’ in Auburn and finished my freshman year there. Hazel was in the university at Lincoln at that time.
Dad rented an eighty-acre farm north of Stella. The next fall when I was a sophomore I rode a horse to Stella to school until March 1. Grandpa Marts moved to Stella at that time so I stayed with them in town. Thelma was also making her home there.
The first summer after we moved back to Nebraska we went to Kansas on a visit. They were holding religious meetings at the schoolhouse, and I went forward when the invitation was given. I knew my dad opposed this very much, but when I went forward mamma did too. I guess she thought if dad was going to be mad he just as well be mad at both of us. We were baptized in a running stream of water near Michigan Valley, Kansas. The choir stood on an island in the river. It was beautiful. We were baptized by a Methodist minister, but since our ancestors were Baptists we both wanted to be immersed. That seemed right to us.
The eighty acres my folks had rented was sold the year they lived there so they had to move. They rented 160 acres north of Shubert. This place sold too. They only lived there one year. Then dad rented 300 acres south on Howe. He hired a married man to work for him. This was where they lived when my mother died.
I don’t remember why, unless we just thought it would be fun, but for a time Bonnie Wilson (Roy’s half sister) and I roomed together and did light housekeeping in a basement room in the old Stella hotel. It was here I had the flu in 1918.
Perhaps it was at this time that Grandpa Marts moved to the farm west of town. I expect that gave Bonnie and me our excuse for light housekeeping.
We had one of those little kerosene heaters, and on cold mornings we would hop out of bed, light the heater and go back to bed for a last catnap while the room was warming up. Sometimes the heater would smoke and when we awakened we would look like a couple of colored gals. This didn’t happen often, but enough. Years later Bonnie was killed in a car wreck. It was my senior year and her junior when we lived together.
I started dating Ira Randall when we were sophomores. I remember meeting him on the street the first day of school. He told me later that he asked someone who I was, and they told him, and he said he would be going steady within six month – and he was. We went steady during our sophomore and junior years.
Miss Burress was superintendent of schools in Stella my junior and senior years. She was a very good friend of mine, but she and Ira didn’t see “eye to eye”. After one of the sessions when she sent him home he never came back to school. His folks sent him to Kansas City where he studied music where he had a ball, I think. He stayed with Walt and Millis (Randall) Swope. Millie was a sister of the Elsie Uncle Will married.
We did not go together and seldom wrote during my senior year.
When I graduated from high school in a class of fifteen pupils I was class valedictorian, and through Miss Burress’ efforts I was asked to teach the fifth and sixth grades in the Stella school the following year.
I went to school in Peru that summer.
When school started in the fall I had taught three weeks when I lost my mother.
Edna Hoppe who worked in the state bank of Stella, Hazel De Weese, primary teacher, Nan Dickerson, seventh and eighth grade teacher, and I were living in a small house in Stella when the word came to me that my mother was worse. She was never strong but had been ailing for about a month. Dad had taken her to Omaha to a chiropractor. At that time they were at Uncle Will’s in Auburn so she could be near the doctor. Uncle Will came for me, and he told me that doctor said she didn’t have one chance in a thousand. I was heartbroken. I remembered a poem I had in a book I owned (it later burned) which said, “I love thee, I love thee – pass under the rod.” Over and over that went through my mind as we drove to Auburn. My mother lived that night and the next day until evening. She was just thirty-six years old.
Aunt Ame and Aunt Mate came up to Auburn as soon as they heard, and I’ll always remember Aunt Ame saying, “You have lost your mother, and I have lost my girlie (Alberta). Now you will have to be my girlie.”
With mamma gone I decided to stay at grandpa’s west of Stella instead of continuing with the girls in town.
I taught my year in the grades and in the fall of 1920 I started to school at the University of Nebraska. I stayed with Aunt Lena and Todd Clark on G Street in Lincoln where I could walk back and forth to school.
When I went home at Christmas, to grandpa’s, Ira Randall was home too. He had had a job singing and playing in Chautauqua work and had done a little work in vaudeville. Those days, about August, when the farm work was pretty well done, the Chautauqua came to town. A very large tent was erected, and for from three to seven days (usually five) traveling singers, musicians, lecturers, and magicians came to town. There was a lady who held classes mornings for the children (Una Mae Hoppe, my high school chum, and her sister, Georgia, used to do that), and in the afternoons and evenings programs were given for the entertainment and education of adults. It was sort of cultural enrichment for the community. Everyone in the neighborhood looked forward to Chautauqua Week.
I saw Ira at Christmas time. I dated him, and we became engaged. We decided to get married and keep it a secret for I knew my dad would object. I was going on to the university, and he was going back to Kansas City to join a musical group there, but his plane failed to work out, and he sent me a wire asking if he should come home and farm with his dad. I wired back to come home.
We were married January 26, 1921 at a parsonage in Ceresco, Nebraska. It was near the end of February when I quit school, and we went to the farm to live with Mr. and Mrs. Randall.
I had about $1200.00 left that my dad had given me as my share of mamma’s estate. I was going to use this to help me through school, but after we were married it was used to buy a second-hand Ford. Randall’s had no car. The rest of the money went into the farming operation, where it melted away.
Times were hard, and jobs were scarce for a man who had no practical training of any kind, had never been trained to any kind of hard work. Mrs. Randall was a very hard worker and so was her mother, Mrs. Raper, but Mr. Randall, whose health was no good, had never really had the discipline that made a man work whether it was hot, cold, wet, or dry.
We finally went to Lincoln where Ira worked as a handy man-roustabout for Hardy’s Hardware. It was here that Burt was born at 18th and N Street in Lincoln. There were apartments up over the store at that time. He was born on our first anniversary. Ira hated his job, and his father encouraged him to give it up so once more we were living with the Randall’s on the farm.
It was here that Burt had a very narrow escape. We were getting ready to go to Auburn. I was ready and had him ready except for changing his diaper. I had a can of “Rexall Zine Stearate,” which at that time was highly advertised as a baby powder. I laid the can down at his side, and he picked it up and hit it against his chin. The can had large holes in it, and a lot of the powder went in his mouth. I grabbed him up, and he blew powder out, and then went limp in my arms. Just then friends of Randall’s, Neil and Will Pritts knocked on the door to ask Randall’s to go to Auburn with them. We threw a blanket around Burt, and all of us got in the Pritt’s car. Neil kept saying, “Drive faster, Will” and he was going about as fast as the car would go. We rushed him into the doctor’s office, and the doctor said, “He is a very sick baby, but I don’t hardly think he is going to die.” Of course, I was scared stiff. They pumped his stomach and kept him in the doctor’s office the rest of the day. Not long afterward he had a terrible boil come on his thigh. I often wondered if the poison caused it. If the Pritt’s had not been right there to rush him to the doctors things might have turned out differently. Was his guardian angel watching over him? Who can say.
Gale was born on this farm north of Stella on November 10, 1923. That house has burned down now too.
Randall’s moved to Charles Raper’s farm near Stella (west). Randall’s had once owned this farm, but Mr. Randall’s health had failed, and they had sold it to my Uncle Bill Steadman. He later resold it to Charley and made a mint of money.
Gale had a narrow escape while we lived here. I never thought I was a careless mother, but several times except for the grace of God I might have lost one or both of my older sons. Vern, Edith, and Vernell McKenny, Ira, Burt, Gale, and I drove to Arkansas to visit my dad, Hazel, and Max. This was in the fall – probably September before Gale was a year old in November. We stopped in Hiawatha, Kansas, and ate dinner with Uncle Chet, Aunt Coe, Mildred, and Gordon Teall. I can’t remember whether my uncle and aunt were living there or just visiting Mildred and Gordon. Anyway they were there. Gale needed a nap, and Mildred had no baby bed. We were afraid he would fall out of a big bed so we conceived the idea of putting him in the bathtub. We took a lot of, or perhaps I should say several, comforters and made a real nice bed for him, and we tied the faucets so we thought he could not turn them on. We tied a Turkish towel on top of that. While we were eating dinner Burt said, “I hear Day”, which was what he called Gale. Aunt Coe said, “I’ll go up and get him,” and when she got to the bathroom she screamed, and we all went running upstairs. There Gale was standing holding onto the side of the tub full of cold water. Had the other faucet been turned on he probably would have been scalded. Perhaps his guardian angel was there too. He was blue with cold, and the dye from the comforters was a mess.
Another time earlier than this Burt, who always protested when it came to taking a nap, had been put in his bed for just such a purpose. He cried and cried until finally I went up to investigate. He had crawled through the bars in the bed, all but his head. His toes were touching the floor. Thank goodness.
Ira tried to get a job at this and that, and nothing worked out. Finally he went to work for an oil and paint company that sold direct to farmers. Bill Poague was district manager of this company. The money Ira made just about paid for the gas to get around and his hotel bills.
Once in a while I’d get a chance to substitute teach a day or so in the Stella schools so I could pay the insurance premium and maybe get a few much needed clothes for the boys. For myself, I had made over everything I had had when I was in the university and teaching.
Burt had had enlarged glands in the back of his neck indicating some sore of infection. Dr. Lee kept telling me to wait and watch them. He suggested they might be tubercular. I knew that Burt need an operation for removal of his tonsils, but he was very young, and there was no money to have it done. Finally someone suggested to me that I take him to Omaha to the University Hospital. Probably Hazel and Lee suggested it for they were both Nebraska medical school graduates. I knew no one in Omaha, and I definitely did not know my way around so Edna Hoppe, who worked in the Stella bank, took time off, and at her own expense went with us to Omaha and stayed a day or so until I got settled.
The operation was successful, but Burt was very unhappy in the hospital. He wouldn’t join in the play at all. When I’d get to the hospital he would be sitting in his bed watching the others, and he would be overjoyed to see me, but almost immediately he would begin worrying about me leaving again. I spent every visiting moment with him, and I remember that I went without quite a few meals to save money. The glands gradually decreased in size. It had been infection from the tonsils that was causing the trouble. Edna was wonderful.
I went to Shenandoah, Iowa with Ira where he got a job as manager of the paint and oil department of the Henry Field Store. He was to get $125.00 a month, which was good money at that time. He also sang on the radio from Field’s and things were looking up. But fate – destiny – or whatever you want to call it, decreed otherwise.
Charley sold his farm, and Randall’s moved over near Shubert. It rained and rained and rained, and Ira did not get home for several weeks. When he came he had decided he wanted a divorce. He told me about it March 27, 1927. Naturally, I was crushed.
September 1927 I started to school in Peru. Mrs. Randall took care of Gale and I took Burt with me and put him in kindergarten. Grandma Raper, who was seventy years old, closed her house in Stella and went to Peru with us. She took care of Burt when I was not there and helped with living expenses. No one could have been nicer to me than she was.
The following spring Burt was “Rip Van Winkle” in a play the kindergarten put on. He was terrific. He had to whistle a tune among other things. He was so good that the drama department asked him to take a part in a play they were producing. Alton Hair, whose dad used to run a store in Unadilla, would stop and get him for play practice. Everyone kept urging him to speak up. They were afraid the audience couldn’t hear what he said. So the night of the play, he, a little Indian boy with a blanket around his shoulders, was sitting beside a campfire with his Indian grandmother. He was supposed to say, “Grandma, tell me a story.” He started to say it, but he cleared his throat and practically yelled, “Grandma, tell me a story.” At the time I wished the earth would open up and swallow me, but as so many things that seem terrible at the time, it has afforded me many laughs since.
Another time in Peru the kindergarten teachers were trying to teach the little folks to think of something they were going to make and then make it. One morning Burt was hammering and sawing with great gusto. The teacher came along and said, “What are you making, Burt?” He answered, “I don’t know. It isn’t far enough along to tell.”
Mother’s Day in 1928 will be remembered. Devona Price, a teacher living next door to us, gave Burt a box of candy to give me on Mother’s Day. She was a divorcee too, but she had no children. Most people were so kind.
I met Marjorie West in Peru, and through her friendship I applied for a position in the Unadilla High School, and I was hired. In the fall of 1928 Burt, Gale and I moved to Unadilla. Lillia Stubbendick, a senior in high school, stayed with us to help look after the boys.
I remember on Saturday after we had been there a short time the boys came in the house crying, and I asked what was wrong. They said, “We don’t know, but we’re not happy.” At the time I felt the same way.
The second year we were in Unadilla Mr. and Mrs. Randall came to live with us and were with us until Ivan and I were married.
Each summer I went to school in Peru. I borrowed the money for school and worked each school year to pay off my loan. I first borrowed money from the Stella Bank where Uncle Will Marts signed the note with me. Then Mr. Butt, banker in Unadilla, suggested I get my money from them, and that I did. Two different summers Mr. and Mrs. Randall kept the boys. Once on the farm and once in Unadilla, but I paid the extra expense the boys caused. Two summers I took them both to Peru with me. We stayed with George and Iva Brown who had two children of their own, Betty and Bob. The first summer I hired the Brady girls, Ada and Madonna, to stay with the boys mornings. I had all of my classes in the morning, and I studied at home in the afternoons so I could take care of the boys then myself. The last year I sent the boys to summer school. I paid for swimming lessons for both of them, and Burt learned to swim. Gale said he got his money’s worth in the showers.
I remember Burt took part in a swimming meet. All of the others competing were big boys, and he was the only little one. He swam, dived, etc. Afterward he said, “How did you think I did, mother?” I said, “Everyone thought you did just fine.” He answered me, “I don’t care what everyone thought. What did you think?”
That was always one difference between Burt and Gale. Gale would play for hours alone, but every little bit Burt was in to get me to go see what he’d been doing. I remember the first year when Burt and I were in Peru. We would go home weekends, and I would say to Gale, “Did you get lonesome for me?” He would say, “No.” Afterwards he told me he used to wonder what I meant when I’d say, “Did you get lonesome?”
While I was in school in Peru I was voted in to the Kappa Delta Pi, an honorary educational society. I was also voted in to the Alpha Mu Omega, an honorary mathematics society.
Gale started to school in Unadilla in September before he was five in November. At that time they were teaching children to read by recognizing words at sight. The teacher asked Gale what a certain word was. He didn’t know. She said, “Well, what does it look like?” He answered, “Oh, it could be almost anything.” The teacher used to tell me that in place of raising his hand when he wanted something, he would reach out and give a little tug to her skirt as she went by.
I used to spend many evenings reading aloud to the boys, and sometimes I would also read to Lillis. I’d sit in the wicker rocker with both boys on my lap, up close to the old base burner, and I read, “Mrs. Wiggs in the Cabbage Patch”, “Freckles”, “Girl of the Lemberlost,” and many others. Some of the poems were “The Owl and the Pussy Cat”, “The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat”, “The Night the Little Boy Ran Away”, and others. I think these poems were read to Keith. “Still Sits the Schoolhouse by the Road”, “Let me Live in a House by the Side of the Road”, etc. were among those read to Burt and Gale. I wonder how much of this they remember.
Gale really gave the old wicker rocker a workout when he learned to read to himself.
The following is another close shave Burt and Gale had. When Mr. and Mrs. Randall were living with us they owned a Ford Roadster. At Thanksgiving time we decided to make a trip to Stella. The three adults sat up front, and we made very comfortable seats for the little boys in the back – sort of rumble seats.
When we arrived the boys were not at all pleased with the set up, and when we started back to Unadilla they objected strenuously to riding back there. I remember Uncle Will kidded them and told them that was a wonderful place to ride so with much persuasion on the part of all the adults present they finally gave up and were tucked in all “comfy”.
When we finally got to Unadilla Burt was as sick as could be, and Gale had passed out. It was only then that we realized deadly monoxide fumes had nearly made a real tragedy of our Thanksgiving trip.
The only other very drastic thing I remember happening to them was this. One day down on the farm Burt conceived the idea a dropping a heavy pulley out of the door in the barn loft. Gale was to stand down below and catch it in a bucket. He caught it alright – on the top of his head. He had a real heavy knitted stocking cap on which probably helped considerably, but even then the blood was running down his face, and both boys and I had a good scare.
I got my divorce from Ira Randall April 21, 1930. He had gone over three years before. Blanche and Roy Wilson went with me to Nebraska City the day the case came up for hearing. When I came home I took off my wedding ring and gave it to Mrs. Randall. She always wore it after that. I imagine she was buried with it on.
I met Ivan Rodaway at the Christian Church. The first thing about him that impressed me was that he was caring for his children. Ivan was never one to shirk responsibility, and secondly he had a good, firm handshake.
In the spring of 1931 he wrote me a letter and asked for a date. The letter was forwarded to me at Peru where I had gone to attend summer school. The first time I dated him was either in late June or early July in 1931. At that time he came to Peru to see me.
We were married May 22, 1932. His first wife had been dead since August 3, 1927. Ivan and Myrtle were married December 25, 1915.
Burt was all for me marrying Ivan. He thought living on a farm and having ponies to ride would be marvelous. Gale wasn’t so sure. I remember one night shortly after we were married Gale was crying after we had all gone to bed. I took him downstairs and rocked him and tried to find out what was troubling him. He told me he was afraid he didn’t know how to be good.
With six children between the ages of eight and fourteen there was never a dull moment, and as inept a cook and housekeeper as I was I had quite a time cramming the many things that had to be done into a twenty-four hour day. If Nina and Eileen hadn’t been so good to help me I never would have made it.
Keith was born August 30, 1933. I had built in baby sitters. Nina and Eileen quarreled over who would get to take care of him. As he grew up he always knew if he couldn’t work his dad or me that Nina and Eileen were still available.
The things that four boys all born within four years cannot think of are very few and far between. They dug caves. They rode ponies. They all remember when a Shetland got loose with a tarpaulin tied onto the saddle like a parachute. When it opened up every horse and mule on the place went through the fence, and the Shetland tried to run and catch up with them.
The boys made a house among the bales of hay in the barn. They insisted Ivan come and inspect it. After crawling through a passageway to where they had removed some bales to make a room they proudly showed him their electric lights. They had punched holes in the tin roof of the barn and stuffed hay in them. This they would remove when they turned their lights on. Ivan didn’t look upon the electric system with too much favor.
There was some sort of an old fashioned music box on the place, which had to be cranked to make it play “Marching Thru Georgia”. That tune was cranked out so many times that first summer I was almost persuaded to pack my bag and start marching.
The first fall after we were married Nina started to high school. She stayed at Ivan’s sister, Nora’s, her freshman and sophomore years. Nora lived only a short distance north of Unadilla.
When Nina was a junior and Roland a freshman they drove to school from the Orchard Hill farm in a buggy.
The other children were going to Orchard Hill school.
In August 1935 (August 25) our family moved to the Avery farm one mile north and a mile east of Unadilla.
Ivan was born on a farm near Otoe, Nebraska (then Berlin). Later his father and the family moved into Otoe where Grandpa Rodaway was a blacksmith. In 1900 he bought the Orchard Hill farm. At that time most of the farm was planted to orchard trees, mostly apples and cherries. Ivan’s mother died here in 1913. Later when grandpa remarried he moved to the home near Unadilla.
In 1915 when Ivan and Myrtle Nash were married they began their life together on the Orchard Hill farm. Ivan lived on this same farm from 1900 until August 25, 1935. He lived on the Avery farm from 1935 until his death in 1961. All of his life he lived in just four places and two of those very briefly.
When we moved near Unadilla Gale and Lyle went to Mount Zion School for one year.
The next year (1935) Nina graduated from high school.
The years 1937 and 1938 we had five children in high school.
Nina worked for a while for Mrs. McCall near Lincoln. Then she became an apprentice to a beauty operator in Lincoln where she learned that business. Later she worked in beauty shops in Syracuse and Peru and finally bought her own shop in Palmyra. She was working here when she married Merle Severe of Palmyra.
Roland graduated from high school in 1938 and continued helping his dad on the farm.
Eileen and Burt graduated in 1939.
Burt began dating Mary Pickerill his sophomore year in high school. Mary was a freshman. I remember there was a sophomore-freshman party in the fall of that year, and Gale got Mary as his partner. The next day Burt told me that Gale got the nicest one there.
The summer after Burt graduated he worked for Dick Brehm and saved his money to buy Mary a diamond. It was not a very big one, but it was paid for by a summer of very hard labor.
In March 1940 Burt moved on the Horstman farm where he batched until Mary graduated. They were married June 2, 1940. It was a home wedding at Pickerill’s. Our house burned down the same day.
We lived in the Christian parsonage from June 2 until August 25 of that year. The church people cleaned the parsonage, moved in what had not burned of our furniture and borrowed the other things we needed. They had things all set up for us to begin housekeeping when we came home from the wedding. Another evidence of the innate goodness of people.
Eileen worked for the Avery’s after she graduated from high school until she married Harland Wallen.
Gale when to Indiana with some folks he knew the summer of 1939. He worked as a bus boy for a church camp there.
He went back again the summer following his graduation, but that time he went alone. He hitchhiked, and he was only sixteen years old.
Gale had some schooling at Peru, working to pay his expenses. Nina loaned him a little money. He worked at Hastings, Nebraska at the building of ammunition depot there. He stayed with his father and his wife in Omaha and went to Omaha University for a time. Then he enlisted in the air corps. He attended school in Milford, was sent to Rolls, Missouri to a radar school, spent time in Florida and in Clinton, Ontario, Canada where he met Margaret Dealippe. After a rather short time they were married.
Lyle worked with his dad after his graduation.
Keith started to school the year Eileen was a junior, and she looked our for him or two years.
Keith learned to walk and talk very young. He had so many good teachers. One Christmas, the Breedens gave him a “Mother Goose” house. It was full of mother goose characters with their rhymes printed on their backs. The roof of the house lifted, and all of the characters could by removed. There was a slot in the side of the house big enough to push a character through. Whenever he could say the rhymes he was permitted to put that character in the house. When he was very young he knew all of them.
He often had a sore throat, and during those sieges he learned to knit, crochet, tat, embroider, and any other work I was doing he had to do likewise.
Keith had had so much experience with doctors. He never wanted to go see one, but one day when he was about sixteen years old, he and Norman were bailing hay for Merman Lahmeyer. Keith came home and told me to go to the field and get dad to take him to the doctor. He thought he had appendicitis. Sure enough, he did. His appendix was removed in Lincoln that evening. I think it was about this time he decided he wanted to be a doctor. Much earlier he thought he wanted to work for the Geographic Magazine.
Keith graduated from high school in 1951. He was valedictorian of his class, and he also received the citizenship award.
Gale was the first student in Unadilla to receive this award. The year he graduated, 1940, was the first year the American Legion awarded this honor in Unadilla.
Keith graduated from Creighton Medical School in 1956. While in school he was on the Student Board of Governors. One year he was vice president of this organization. He was a member of Phi Chi Medical Fraternity, president of Alpha Sigma Nu, national honorary society. He was also a charter member of the Beta Chapter of Alpha Omega Alpha, a national honorary medical society. In addition, he was president of his class when he was a junior.
Keith has much for which to thank Norman. Ivan always said he would send the children to high school, but if they went to college they would have to make their own ways.
Nina worked as an apprentice for her training. Gale had some college training, but he had absolutely no help from home. Nina loaned him a little money at different times when he got in a pinch.
Norman, who had been sent to college by the Avery’s, decided he would help Keith go to college, and he did help him all three years he was in pre-med. When he was ready for medical school Norman felt he could not continue, and since Keith had made such good grades, he had demonstrated what he could do scholastically, and since the other children were on their own by this time, Ivan consented to loan him the money to finish school at Creighton. I think most every time he had to have more money his dad reminded him that it would have to be paid back.
Parents simply cannot do so much more for one child than they have done for the others. How I wish it had been possible to give each one of them a college education or the equivalent and then have forgotten about the cost.
Nathan and Norman, Ivan’s twins, never lived with us. Their mother died August 3, after their birth June 30, 1927.
Norman was the weaker of the two babies, and his Aunt Nellie Avery took him into her home even before the death of his mother. I think he was only a few days old. Ivan had thought he could keep Nathan at home, but shortly after Myrtle’s death the four older children, ranging in age from four to nine, all got the whooping cough so the Joe Nash’s took Nathan temporarily. During the next few weeks Ivan found he had his hands full with the four kiddies and the Nash’s had become so attached to Nathan they wanted to keep him permanently. The boys both had lovely homes and loving care for which Ivan and I are grateful.
Norman graduated from the University of Nebraska School of Agriculture in 1949. He lives in Unadilla where he is in the hardware business. He has not married.
Nathan married Ilda Lashley in 1948. He graduated from high school in Palmyra. He and Ilda farm. They have the following children: Natalie, born in 1949; Tom, born in 1951; and Susan, born in 1954.
You folks know this history so I will give it briefly.
Nina married Verle Sever in 1942. They now Live in Syracuse. Merle worked for the National Investors Life Insurance Company. Previous to this he farmed and ran a dairy near Palmyra. They have three living children: Bernita, born in 1948; Quentin, born in 1950; and Rick, born in 1953. They lost their first baby, a boy (Dallas) stillborn in 1946.
Roland has not married. He farms the Avery place and raises purebred Hereford cattle, taking over the farming operation his father had carried on for twenty-five years or more.
Eileen married Harland Wallen in 1942. They have two children: Glenda, born in 1943 and Stanley, born in 1948.
Both Harland and Eileen had polio. He had it twice. The first time in 1949, and then they both had it in 1952. He made a complete recovery. Eileen was left with a disability. She works constantly at her business of baking and decorating beautiful cakes, specializing in wedding cakes. Formerly Harland worked for the National Investors Life Insurance Company.
Harland farms and runs a dairy at the present time.
Burt and Mary Pickerill were married in 1940. They have two daughters; Mrs. Joyce Myers, born in 1944, and Jo-Ann, born in 1946. They lost their first baby, a boy (Russell Lynn) born in 1941 and died in 1943. He was nineteen months of age.
They have recently had a sale on their Angus cattle and have rented their farm near Holyoke, Colorado for the coming year. They now live in Greeley, Colorado. Burt is also selling N. I. L. I. C. Insurance full time now.
Lyle married Fern Callaway in 1947. They farm near Unadilla and have the following children: Sharon, born in 1948; Janis, born in 1949; Nelson, born in 1950; Marcia, born in 1959; and Calvin, born in 1961.
Gale married Margaret Deslippe in 1944. They have the following children: Steven, born in 1945; Melinda, born in 1949; Timothy, born in 1951; Gail Marie, born in 1956; and Carolyn, born in 1958. The marriage ended in divorce.
Gale married Geraldine Gronos in 1962. He teaches school at the present. He teaches English. He taught thirteen years in Allen Park School in Allen Park, Michigan. He was head of the English Department.
Keith married Maria Beta in 1959. They have three children: Anne, born in 1960, and twins, Joan and Joseph, born in 1962. They lived in Syracuse one year where Keith was in general practice. Thomas Daniel was born July 25, 1964.
Keith decided to specialize in pediatrics. They spent two years in Boston, Massachusetts and one year in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania before going to Seattle, Washington. He teaches in the University School of Medicine and does research. He expects to go into private practice next year. When Keith met Maria she was head nurse in Pediatrics at St. Joseph Hospital in Omaha.
Keith joined the Catholic Church while he was in school at Creighton.
The fall of 1960 Ivan had an increase of the back pains he had suffered at various intervals for a number of years. He also had severe leg pains.
On March 1, 1951, after examination by many doctors he entered St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Lincoln and was operated on March 4 for ruptured discs (2) in his spine. He came home from the hospital March 25, but he failed to make a satisfactory recovery so he re-entered St. Elizabeth’s on April 25.
Many doctors were called in consultation. On May 3, we learned he had a malignancy in the pelvic region, also in the lungs and brain. There was no hope for his recovery.
Burt and his family came to see him on May 6 and 7.
The other children who lived near were with him all the time, taking turns.
Ivan came home from the hospital May 19, and Keith left for Boston May 24.
Ivan was taken to the Syracuse hospital May 25, and his death occurred there May 31.
Gale, Burt, and Keith came June 2 and services were held at our church in Unadilla on June 3. Many friends and relatives gathered to pay tribute to one who had carried an abundance of responsibility in this life and had not complained about it. Ivan had worked diligently all his life. The work was there, and he saw that it was done.
He was buried beside Myrtle and a baby daughter in the Unadilla Cemetery.
It is hard to realize life changes so quickly for us all. So soon a strong man passes.
One of Ivan’s chief interests was the Nemaha Valley Hereford Association. He was Secretary-Treasurer and Sales Manager of this organization from its beginning in 1952. The sale catalog for the February 1962 sale had the following dedication to his memory:
Throughout his life he rendered long service to his community, his church, his school, his friends. He lived a full, rich, and happy life. His deepest interest revolved around his family and his loved ones.
He was a prominent stockman, sought out for advice and given positions of trust. He carried the same conscientious approach into the cattle business that caused him to be held in high esteem by both young and old alike. His uprightness of character and his deep, abiding love for land and all its productions made his a devoted service.
The memory and traditions of Ivan Rodaway will remain with friends the rest of their lives. He was the spark that made our livestock business great in this area. Nebraska cattlemen knew his best for his efforts in promotion the Hereford industry in all corners of the state. He possessed a rare ability of being able to cope with situations that arise in livestock work in which he spent many fruitful years. He was an advocate of top farm management and good Hereford cattle. He enjoyed considerable success with his cattle operations and was a stalwart supported of the Nemaha Valley Hereford Association, acting in an executive capacity for many years. At the time of his passing he was a director of the Nebraska Hereford Association.
Diamonds are displayed on dark velvet so as to show their luster. It is through darkness and despair that we discover the depths of the character of a friend and follow his shining example.
May God bless the memory of his life to all who knew him.
I am sure this tribute would have pleased Ivan immensely, and I think he would be happy to have it included in this history.
I spend most of my time on the farm with Roland, working in our little church in Unadilla. I am free to go and come as I wish, and I frequently spend time with relatives and friends.
I hope never to be a burden to any of them, but the future is in the Lord’s hands. I’ll just live one day at a time.
I’ll close this little history on a light note.
“My problems will not run away
It might be wise to take a breather,
Tomorrow is another day
In which I will not solve them either.”
However, I’ll keep on trying, and life is good… problems and all.
July 29, 1964