An Interview with Donald Bright and Nedra (Bright) Stevicks

Donald Bright and Nedra (Bright) Stevicks are the brother and sister of Neil Bright, who is Curtis Bright’s grandfather.

Donald Bright

November 1, 2001

CURTIS: Let’s begin with your mother, Minnie. What was she like? What sort of things did she like to do?

NEDRA: Well, she did a lot of cooking. And I can remember on Sunday evenings, the family would all come home for supper, and they’d tell her, “Mom, make pancakes! Make pancakes!” And she’d mix together pancakes and make pancakes, and they were the best pancakes in the world. Donald liked his burnt, scorched! And my sister-in-law, Edna Bright , liked hers barely brown… barely done. And no matter how we liked them, she would fix them to suit us. That’s one of the things I remember most about Mom. She always raised a lot of chickens…. had a big garden. She did a lot of laundry, of course. With five kids, you did a lot of laundry. I can remember too, she’d get out in the fall of the year when it was harvest time and help Daddy shuck a load of corn, and then come in and get us kids up and get us ready for school, and feed us a hot breakfast, and get us off on the road to school. And we walked to school. A mile and a quarter, wasn’t it, Donald?

Minnie Elsie Timerman Bright

DONALD: Yeah.

NEDRA: A mile and a quarter to school.

CURTIS: And when did she pass away?

NEDRA: In 19…

DONALD: ’38.

CURTIS: And what did she die of?

NEDRA: Pneumonia.

CURTIS: And she was pretty young, wasn’t she?

NEDRA: 51 wasn’t she, Donald?

DONALD: Yeah.

CURTIS: How about your dad, Clarence? What was he like?

DONALD: He always farmed. I can’t tell you much.

CURTIS: (to Donald) Didn’t you two roll cigarettes together?

DONALD: Yeah. He milked a lot of cattle. And raised hogs.

Nedra Bright Stevicks

NEDRA: One time Daddy was out in the field, picking corn, and he had a… they called it a “stem pipe” pipe; it had a crooked stem in it. He lost the bowl, but he still had the stem in his mouth. When he got back to the other end, he reached for it to take it out of his mouth and put tobacco in, but there was nothing there. I remember that.

CURTIS: I’ve seen pictures of your dad with a guitar. Did he play for you?

DONALD: Yeah.

CURTIS: Do you remember any songs he played.

NEDRA: “Preacher went a-hunting one Sunday morn.” You remember that, Don?

DONALD: (grinning) Yeah.

CURTIS: Do you remember how it goes.

NEDRA: Preacher went a-hunting one Sunday morn… something about a grizzly bear. “Lord, if you can’t help me, for goodness sakes, don’t you help that bear!” It’s quite a long song, but he sang that. He sang a lot of songs.

CURTIS: Did he sing with your Uncle Art?

NEDRA: I don’t recall Uncle Art singing.

DONALD: No.

NEDRA: Uncle Art played the violin. Daddy played the guitar, and of course, our brother, Bob played the guitar. I can remember standing behind Daddy and I’d hold a harp to my Daddy’s mouth, so he could play the guitar and play the harp at the same time.

CURTIS: Did he play at weddings or parties?

Clarence Bright (seated on far right with guitar)

NEDRA: No. He mostly just played when we got together at home.

CURTIS: Where did you live growing up?

DONALD: Three miles and a half west of Shubert.

NEDRA: On Uncle John and Aunt Evan’s 80 acre farm.

CURTIS: And then you moved to your grandparent’s place?

NEDRA: After Grandmother Bright passed away and Aunt Mary, we moved…

DONALD: No, we moved there in ’38.

NEDRA: That’s right. We lived down in the little house. I was in high school.

CURTIS: So, you knew Grandma Bright. What was she like?

NEDRA: She was a little, tiny, wiry woman… She did a lot of quilting. She did a lot of sewing. As she got older, she would sit in her rocking chair and look out the east and west window, and she would tell the girls, “Okay, Mate. It’s time to get the potatoes on.” “Okay, Kat. It’s time for your to get that chicken on to fry.” And it was nothing for her to prepare a big Sunday dinner for all of the family that was close by.

CURTIS: Did she do that every Sunday?

NEDRA: Just about every Sunday. If there wasn’t one part of the family there, it was another part. I can remember when we’d have a funeral, she’d sit in that same chair and look out the window and count the funeral cars went by, and then she’d no how many car loads of people went, you know. I think that the entire county knew her as “Grandma Bright.” That’s the only name they knew her by. Gosh, Don… what else about her?

DONALD: One day the folks and all went into Falls City, and they worried about her getting dinner. And she asked me to go down to the cave and get stuff to cook. And the table wasn’t spread out wide enough. So, she took a hold of the table, slid down under it, hit the table leg, pulled the table out, got in and put a leaf in it. When they got home from Falls City, dinner was on the table. And I was the cause of it cause I went and got stuff out of the cave for her to eat.

CURTIS: So, she got under that table and kicked it. That’s pretty funny.

DONALD: She hit the table leg in the middle.

NEDRA: She was a very active person.

CURTIS: Do you know any stories about when she was younger?

NEDRA: I don’t remember them. If you want to hear about that, talk to Margery Teal, down at Topeka. She remembers so many things about Grandma Bright. I do remember her telling about how she had long, beautiful, auburn hair. And I remember her telling about the Indians coming by and stopping on their horses and pointing at her auburn hair. She said, “I was always scared to death that they would scalp me, but they never did.”

DONALD: She would follow them up to the top of the hill, too… to see that they went on.

CURTIS: Your Aunt Mate lived with Grandma Bright. What was she like?

(back row) Mary Alice Bright  & Amy Evans, (middle row) Clarissa Steadman, Cora Evans, Laura Jane Lytle, (front) Rachel Bright

NEDRA: A very stern lady. She was an old maid, and she was very stern, but she was very kind and very loving. She was an excellent cook, as all of the cooks were in those time. And she attended church faithfully, very faithfully. I can remember them telling, and I think it’s right… Donald, you correct me if I’m wrong… but the pine tree that’s out in front of the house today… Aunt Mate planted that when she was just a little girl when they first moved there, didn’t she?

DONALD: Yeah.

NEDRA: So, that’s Aunt Mate’s tree.

CURTIS: Do you remember your Grandpa Bright…Charles?

NEDRA: What’d he do, Don?

DONALD: Well, he farmed as long as he was able to. When he got old enough that he couldn’t farm any more, he’d sit out in the yard and whittle… whittled out different people… images of babies.

NEDRA: I remember he’d whittle out rolling pins, knives and forks and sets of dishes for us kids out of wood. I wish I had kept mine, but I didn’t. You know, as a child, you play with them. I can remember my mother telling about Bob saying to Grandpa Bright, “Come on, Grandpa. Let’s go make a whistle.” And he made a lot of whistles out of… what, elm? What kind of trees were they, Don?

DONALD: I don’t remember. He’d take the bark off them, and then put it back over it, and put a hold in the wood, and have a whistle.

Charles & Rachel Bright, August 1928

CURTIS: He was a big guy, wasn’t he?

DONALD: Yeah, he was heavy.

NEDRA: He was over six foot. Grandmother Bright was what… four foot three.

DONALD: She could walk under my arm, if I’d hold my arm out straight, she’d walk under it.

NEDRA: He was a heavy person. I won’t say he was fat. He was just a big man.

CURTIS: Did you go to their place for Christmas?

DONALD: Oh, yes. We always had a dinner.

NEDRA: I don’t think we had much gift exchange, though. Maybe Grandmother would make the kids a little apron or a little shirt, but I don’t recall that we had much of a gift exchange.

CURTIS: What did she cook for dinner? Turkey?

NEDRA: Oh, sometimes turkey… a lot of ham and a lot of beef because they raised those, you know. But they didn’t raise turkeys. And the burnt sugar cake was out of this world.

CURTIS: What’s that?

NEDRA: You brown your sugar in a heavy skillet, and then you mix water until it’s kind of syrupy, and then you mix up a regular cake from scratch. Of course, back then they didn’t have cake mixes, you know. And you’d use this burnt sugar liquid, and it was very, very good.
I know when Grandfather passed away he had hick-ups so very, very bad. I remember that. He couldn’t stop hick-upping. It was constant.

CURTIS: Tell me about your aunts and uncles.

William “Billy” and Clarissa “Cad” (Bright) Steadman

Edith & Constance Bright, unknown girl, Helen Steadman, Effie & Mildred Evans

NEDRA: Aunt Cad was married to Bill Steadman, and they had one daughter, Helen. Uncle Bill was out in the garage, one Monday morning, and he closed the garage doors and started up the car and carbon monoxide took him. After that, Aunt Cad moved in with Grandmother and Aunt Mate. She lived with them and helped with the household duties. I really never knew Helen very well. She was a lot older than I was, and she wasn’t around much.

CURTIS: How about Aunt Amy?

NEDRA: She was married to Uncle John Evans. They had one daughter, Effie Evans, who married Bert Steadman. Aunt Ame was a very faithful church-goer, and she worked for the church a lot, and did a lot of things for the church. So, did Effie. Effie played the piano for the church for years and years. She played and sang at weddings too… Effie did. They had another daughter, Alberta, who passed away when she was young… 16, I think. And I think she had an appendicitis, and gangrene set in. Of course, that was back before the days of penicillin and all that. And Uncle John Evans, didn’t he have a hearth attack and die?

(back row) Alberta Evans, Edith Bright, Effie Evans, Helen Steadman, Mildred Evans; (front row) Bob & Norma Bright

DONALD: Yeah.

NEDRA: And then she moved in with her daughter, Effie, and her husband, and they lived together. Dad’s brother, Uncle Art, as I remember them before they moved to California, they lived down in that little house, and he helped there on the farm. They had two children, Max and Ellie. Then in 1936, they moved to California because Aunt Hazel had such severe headaches that the doctor thought that if they moved to California, the climate might be good for her headaches. So, they moved out there, and of course, we kept in contact, but I didn’t know the things that went on. Of course, Uncle Art by his first marriage was married to Carlee Marts, and they had one daughter, Constance.

Arthur & Carlie L. (Marts) Bright

CURTIS: What did Uncle Art do for a living?

NEDRA: He farmed Grandpa Bright’s place. And they milked, and had hogs. I don’t know what he did in California. Do you?

DONALD: He worked out in the field.

CURTIS: What can you tell me about your Aunt Coe?

Chet & Coe (Bright) Evans

NEDRA: She lived here in Falls City. I don’t remember her ever living down on the farm, although I know she did at one time. But I remember her living here in Falls City. She was a very soft-spoken, gentle lady. She was married to Uncle Chet Evans, and they had Merle and Ralph and Frank and Mildred. They had four children. Uncle Chet, in his later years, mowed yards. And he was a wealthy man, but everybody thought he was poor so they hired him to mow their yards. She just kept house and took care of the family… woman’s work.

Charles & Leota (Timerman) Bright

CURTIS: What was your Uncle Charles like? You called him “Charl?”

NEDRA: Yes, we called him “Charl.”

DONALD: He farmed for a living. When he was down in Arkansas, he milked. He had a dairy and he milked and delivered to the different people.

CURTIS: Did he marry a Timerman girl?

DONALD: He did first.

NEDRA: He married Mother’s sister, Aunt Leota.

CURTIS: Leota. But she passed away young.

NEDRA: Yes. They had one daughter, Edith. And she passed away when Edith was real little, wasn’t she?

DONALD: Yeah, she was real young.

NEDRA: And he remarried… Florence Hayward. I had to stop and think for a minute. And then they had John Bright, and Myron, Frank and Rachel. And they lived on the farm and farmed.

CURTIS: Big family. Do you remember the Bright reunions?

NEDRA: Yes. We just had them at Grandmother Bright’s house. We have numerous pictures of them out in the yard. And there were lots of people there… all of us kids. We were just kids. I can remember the table was loaded down with food, of course. And people that you didn’t see but once a year came to that Bright reunion. We had a lot of fun.

CURTIS: I’ve seen the pictures of Donald and Neil…

DONALD: Sitting up in front?

CURTIS: Yes, you couldn’t have been more that six or seven years old. Looked like you were having a good time.

DONALD & NEDRA: We did.

Thomas & Laura Jane (Bright) Rankin Family

NEDRA: We were always thrilled to death when Aunt Lol would come up because she had children about our age. She married Rank Lytle. I’ll tell you something that I remember about Uncle Rank so clearly. He would sit down to eat a meal, and if you had peas, he would eat peas with his knife. He would put them on his knife and eat them. And I tried it, but it didn’t work for me, of course.  They lived in Oklahoma.

DONALD: Tulsa.

NEDRA: I only knew her when she came up here to visit, and she was a dear, sweat lady. She was very kind, and just as sweat as she could be. And she had a big family.

CURTIS: Do you remember your grandparents on the Timerman side? Frank Timerman?

NEDRA: I never knew him. He passed away before I was born.

CURTIS: How about you, Donald?

DONALD: Yes. He raised cattle and hogs. And they went out and cut their own wood, and that’s what he was doing when he passed away. He had a heart attack cutting wood. They put him in a wagon, took him to the house, and he died on the way.

CURTIS: Now, where did they live?

DONALD: They lived a mile and a half south of us when we lived on the farm… just two and a half miles east of Shubert. Then Grandmother went to live with a daughter and son. She had two daughters and a son. And she lived with them. Well, she lived by herself till she couldn’t take care of herself. Then the kids took her and took care of her when she was sick.

Elvira Timerman

CURTIS: Do you remember what she was like?

DONALD: Oh, she was the greatest.

NEDRA: A little, tiny, skinny woman. I can remember her and a lady… what was her name? Well, Mrs. Higgins’ mother would come down to Grandmother Timerman’s to visit… and they were Welch people. And they would sit in there and Grandmother would serve tea and little Welch cookies that she made. And they would talk in Welch, and oh, that fascinated me. I couldn’t understand a word they said, but I loved to listen to them. And another thing I remember about Grandmother Timerman was sometimes Mother would be down there and we’d walk to Grandmother Timerman’s after school. And there’d be a loaf of hot bread. She’d put butter and brown sugar on it for us, and oh my, that was good! She quilted quite a little bit. A very prim and proper lady. And just as nice as can be… very special person.

CURTIS: What do you recall about your aunts and uncles on the Timerman side?

NEDRA: Uncle Amos and Aunt Olive. They too, were farmers. They had two sons and a daughter: Carl, Howard and Amy. Amy was a school teacher. Howard was a farmer, and we used to visit them quite often. But back in those days, it was mostly, if you farmed, you farmed.

CURTIS: Tell me about your brother, Bob. What was he like?

Robert Bright

Robert Bright

NEDRA: Well, he was a nice guy. He’d do anything for you, but he had one bad habit… he liked the bottle. And he was married to Edna Gillard, and they had two children, Janet and Kenneth. And that was what broke up their marriage… the drinking.

CURTIS: Did he start drinking pretty young?

NEDRA: I don’t know. I’m sure he did. He was older than me. I have a picture of him with a watermelon in his hand… he and Howard Timerman had watermelons. And we always said that they swiped them. I don’t know if they really did.

DONALD: He helped his dad farm. And he ran a filling station in Auburn for years.

NEDRA: And that’s when he started drinking… in Auburn.

CURTIS: Were you kids close?

NEDRA: Oh, yeah. We were a pretty close-knit family. I think so, don’t you?

DONALD: Yeah.

NEDRA: We kind of looked out for each other.

CURTIS: Didn’t Bob play the guitar?

NEDRA: Yes, he did play guitar, but he didn’t play out in public. Just at home, for fun. I can remember in the winter time he liked to go ice skating. Sleigh riding… he liked that. He used to ride “Old Cap.” I don’t know what kind of a horse he was, but he used to ride him and he used to take me with him. What was “Old Cap?” Just a horse?

DONALD: Yeah, a white one.

Norma Bright and Amy Timerman

NEDRA: With black spots on him.

CURTIS: Now tell me about Norma. I never met her.

NEDRA: Well, she was a real sweat person. She worked different places here in town (Falls City, Nebraska). She worked at the cleaners. She worked at the bakery. She worked as a waitress in one of the restaurants here in town. Just odd jobs. She was great one for doing crafts. She liked to make different things. She was a very pretty girl. She was up and married by the time I was six, so she wasn’t at home all that long.

CURTIS: Where did she live when she got married?

NEDRA: Here in Falls City.

DONALD: They lived on the farm for a while with his folks. His dad was a farmer, and he helped his dad farm.

NEDRA: Then when the moved to town, Francis went to work for a car dealer here in town by the name of Ray Novak. And he worked for him for years and years, until he got too old to work.

CURTIS: And Norma passed away about ten years ago. What did she die of?

NEDRA: In ’91. It was just mostly old age. She had a tumor on her brain, and they went in and remove the tumor and it was just too much. They had to clip a nerve and it let her face sag, and it made her kind of crippled on one side, and it was hard for her to get around. And she was in this nursing home, in this building, for years. And then they closed this and she was taken to the Falls City Health Care Hospital on the north end of town, and that’s where she died.

CURTIS: I see. And what did Bob pass away from?

Norma and Bob Bright

NEDRA: Cancer. He had oral cancer.

CURTIS: And did he eventually stop drinking?

NEDRA: Yes. His children didn’t want to have anything to do with him. Neil… God bless my brother, Neil… was down visiting with Bob and Jan… his daughter and her husband… and Neil talked to her and said, “Janet, you really need to go and talk with him and see if you can’t make up with him.” And so, they went on vacation that summer, and they went out to see Bob. And they did make up. And after that, he quit drinking. And when he quit, he just quit. That was that.

CURTIS: Was his drinking hard on the whole family?

NEDRA: Oh, yes. He kind of separated himself from us because he felt nobody wanted anybody around who was drinking because we didn’t approve of it.

CURTIS: No one else in the family drinks, do they?

NEDRA: No. I’m a tea toddler.

CURTIS: (to Donald) Are you a tea toddler too?

DONALD: Yeah. Might be a coffee toddler.

CURTIS: Tell me what Neil was like as a young fellow.

DONALD: Well, we always had plenty of work to do.

NEDRA: I think one of the things that I was always amazed about Donald… now, you know that he’s crippled in his one arm.

CURTIS: Yes, from polio. When you were how old?

Donald, Neil and Max Bright

DONALD: I don’t know.

NEDRA: Not a tiny baby because I’ve got pictures of him when he was about two, and he still had both hands back then, so it was after that. But I was always amazed at him because he would go out and milk, and he could milk that cow with that one hand as fast and Dad and Neil could milk with two. And when he would come to the house with the milk to separate it through the separator, he would put his hand around pail with one hand and then pick up the other one with his good hand. And he would carry two or three gallon buckets of milk to the house just as easy as anybody. And he would do all the work that anybody with two hands could do. I always admired him for that. I thought that was something pretty special.

CURTIS: So, what was it like growing up on the farm with Neil and Donald?

NEDRA: Oh, we’d fight… like brothers and sisters. We walked a mile and a quarter to school every day. And the boys made sure they took care of little sister… made sure she didn’t get hurt… didn’t let anything happen to her. We were a pretty happy family in those days. As my brother, Bob used to say, “We had 25 cents , and our neighbor had 27.” We were pretty poor people.

CURTIS: Everybody was poor in those days.

NEDRA: Yeah, but we had a good life, and Mother and Dad saw to it that we had everything that we needed. And what else do you need. When you’ve got what you need, that’s all that’s necessary.

CURTIS: What kind of chores did you do?

NEDRA: I would have to gather the eggs, and lots of times, feed the chickens. They did the heavier chores. I had to carry in wood, and carry in the cobs. But I think the boys had to help with that too.

DONALD: Yeah, we helped with that.

NEDRA: And we had to carry in water for the reservoir on the stove, so Mother would have hot water to wash dishes with.

CURTIS: So, you didn’t have electricity or water in the house?

Neil and Donald Bright (note Don’s right hand is already afflicted by a childhood stroke, not polio as long believed)

NEDRA: No. No. We had a gasoline engine that pumped water. And we carried buckets of water in, and made sure Mother had water for the day, so she wouldn’t have to go get it. We had to carry out the ashes. Donald and Neil had to milk and feed the hogs.

CURTIS: I’ve seen pictures of Donald and Neil with your mother, and they’re surrounded by hundreds of little chicks.

NEDRA: They did buy them by a hundred or a hundred and fifty, because we butchered them.  And then we had to help Mom and Dad clean those chickens and get them ready for meals. And of course, back then, you didn’t have a refrigerator or freezer to put them in, you know. So, it was butcher what you can eat. I do think Mother canned some of them. She canned beef and pork. We had to help in the garden… pick strawberries.

CURTIS: Where did you go to school?

NEDRA: We went to a country school called Muddy Center. When the boys got out of the eighth grade…when Neil graduated from the eighth grade, and both he and Donald were both in high school… then I started going to Pioneer which is the school that’s up there by Grandma Williams’ farm.

CURTIS: And now that building is on Sally’s (Randy & Sally Nuss) farm.

NEDRA: Yes. I went there for about three years before I went to high school. And then we went to Shubert.

CURTIS: Did you like school?

DONALD: Oh, I never minded it.

NEDRA: Did you guys ever ride a horse or a horse and buggy?

DONALD: Yeah, we did.

NEDRA: I can’t remember that.

CURTIS: When did you get your first car?

DONALD: I got my first car… I had a Ford. My aunt… I told her I wanted to buy a car, but didn’t have any money to pay for it. She did, and she give it to me.

CURTIS: Which aunt was that?

DONALD: Rache? Then she died shortly after I got it.

CURTIS: I wonder where she got that money.

DONALD: Oh, eggs and what have you.

CURTIS: That’s a lot of eggs.

DONALD: Yeah.

Donald and Clarence Bright in front of the house built by Charles & Rachel Bright

NEDRA: She had an old sock in the back of her closet and that’s where she kept it. She never put it in bank, did she Donald? At least every time I saw ever her, she’d go in there and rummage around in her closet and come out with money.

DONALD: Dad settled up her estate, and he said “I’m through,” and I said, “No, you ain’t. You ain’t looked through the clothes closet yet.’

CURT: When did you move into their house?

DONALD: Dad and I moved up there in ’40. But you (Nedra) lived there too.

NEDRA: Yeah, for a while. Well, even when Ray and I were married, we lived there for a while.

CURT: And your dad lived there until he passed away?

DONALD: Yeah. He passed away down at Falls City. He had his stroke, and went down to Falls City. And a week later they called and told us to come and get him. He’d had another stroke and passed.

NEDRA: Dad used to read a lot. One of his pastimes at night was to read.

CURT: I heard that he kept puzzles.

NEDRA: They were wooden puzzles. I wonder who’s got those. I can remember putting those together. They were wooden pieces that were about an inch and a half long and three-quarters of an inch wide, maybe, and there was a square one. And you had to work things around so you got the square one in a separate corner or something. That’s the one I remember because I that’s the one I worked at all the time.

CURT: How would you describe your folks?

NEDRA: They were quiet, but whenever we needed help with school work they were always right there to help us.

CURT: Your mother thought an education was very important.

NEDRA: Vitally. You see, Mother didn’t even get through the eighth grade. She had to quit school and stay home and help Grandmother. Grandmother Timerman wasn’t very well, so Mother stayed home to help her. When she (Grandmother) got older, she just had stroke after stroke after stroke.

CURT: Are you getting tired, Donald?

Donald and Vera Bright

DONALD: No.

CURT: Oh, I thought I saw you close your eyes. Tell me about Vera. How did you meet her?

DONALD: Well, I was working up at my neighbors, and there was another woman working there that was the mother of a neighbor close to me. They said “You go up and visit Grandma.” And so I did, and I got acquainted with Vera up there. A couple years later we got married. So I met her through a neighbor of mine taking me up to see her mother. And I met Vera and I asked her to marry me, and she said “Well, I’ll tell you, there’s one thing you gotta do… If I marry you, you got to see that I get to church every Sunday.” And I never went to church, but I told her I would. And I went and took her to church and we visited her brother-in-law. And then I got to going to church with her. And the last year or two I haven’t been able to go to church.

CURT: What sort of things did Vera do?

DONALD: Oh, raising a garden… chickens. I’ve got a picture I can show you. Help anybody she could. Aunt Ame, when her daughter got sick and had to got to the hospital, and they asked if she (Vera) would come over and play with her… help Rachel.  So she went over there and stayed a week and took care of her while her daughter was in the hospital. She was awful keen about helping.

NEDRA: Anybody was welcome in her house, and she was always one to want to serve you coffee or crackers. “Have a snack. Have a snack.” And if you went in there and stopped just for a few minutes for something, she’d insist, “No, no, no. You stay and have lunch with us. We’re going to have lunch pretty soon. We’re going to have supper.” So, you’d have to stay and eat with them. Yep, we thought an awful lot of Vera.

CURT: She passed away almost twenty years ago?

DONALD: In ’80. Twenty-one years, last month. In October she passed away… twenty-one years. She died of a blood clot. I was working in the field, and they had to come down and get me. I come down to Falls City, to the hospital. Before I got there she had passed away. The doctor said, “I’d send her to Omaha. Will you let me send her to Omaha?” I said, “You’re damned right.” I said, “I want to know what killed her. That’s what I want to know.” So he sent her up to Omaha, and it come back that a blood clot killed her. Doctor didn’t know what was wrong with her.

Neil Bright (top row, just left of center)

CURT: You know, you never did tell me what Neil was like when you were younger.

NEDRA: Ornery! He teased me a lot. Donald did too. Little sister, you know. But he was a nice guy. He helped with the farming.

CURT: I’ve seen pictures of him on the football team in school.

NEDRA: He was a pretty good player, but he didn’t like basketball at all. I don’t know what position he played. I don’t remember that, but I remember going and watching him play.

CURT: What do you remember about Jeanette?

Jeanette Anne Williams and Blair Williams

NEDRA: Aw, she was a jewel, absolute jewel. Of course, she was in high school when I was in high school. She graduated a year before I did, and she and Neil got married in ’39. She always raised a big garden. And she was a fantastic cook. She’s got a couple of daughters that take after her too. She was another one that always liked to have you stay and visit. And then when she got sick I felt so sorry for her because she didn’t deserve that. She was just too special a person for that.

DONALD: Just an awful good girl.

NEDRA: What kind of a car did they drive to school, Donald? Do you remember? I can remember her driving to school.

DONALD: Model A.

NEDRA: She’d drive it by herself. I think she’d pick up some girls on the way and took them with her. But then when Blair got into high school, then Blair drove.

CURT: I don’t suppose you knew Jeanette’s sister Jean?

Jean Williams

DONALD: Yes, I knew her. She sat right in front of me when we was in assembly. She was good in history and English. I was good in math. Whenever she had a math problem, I’d help her out. And whenever I ran into and English problem, she’d help me out. But we had the teacher at assembly sit right there between us, but she never stopped us from helping one another, but she was right there knowing what was going on. We wasn’t trying to visit with one another. We was just helping one another out.
Real nice girl… and she got appendicitis and passed away. She hadn’t got out of school yet.

CURT: That’s really sad. Nedra, tell me about Ray. How did you meet?

Nedra (Bright) and Ray Stevicks

NEDRA: Well, Dad and Donald and Neil went on vacation. I can’t remember where you went.

DONALD: California.

NEDRA: Anyway, I went down the state with John and Helen Bright, and Ray was working for them, and I met him there. We started dating.

CURT: He just swept you off your feet?

NEDRA: Oh, yes. He was a nice guy. We farmed for a couple years or three. Well, he farmed with Dad and Donald for a while. Then we farmed for ourselves for a while, then he went to work for the county. Of course, we had the five kids, which I know you know. After he started working for the county, we lived in Dawson.

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